Spotify Apologizes After Privacy Backlash, May Add Voice Control

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek issued a public apology about the company’s new privacy policy Friday, writing on the company’s blog that the terms had caused “caused a lot of confusion” about the types of data accessed by Spotify, and the ways the company uses and shares this data. “We should have done a better job in communicating what these policies mean,” he said.

Spotify had released a new privacy policy earlier this week, which grants the company access to users mobile phone contacts, location data and photo libraries, among other things. This quickly led to a public backlash, with some calling the new terms “creepy.”

Ek said Friday that the company will continue to ask before accessing personal data, and also detailed some of the changes. One example: photos. “We will never access your photos without explicit permission,” Ek said, adding that the new terms were meant to allow Spotify users to take their own mobile phone photos for playlist cover photos.

Similarly, location data is accessed only with explicit permission as well, said Ek, and used to serve up local music recommendations.

Ek’s public apology may not completely appease critics — he did admit that the company is sharing some data with third parties, but insisted that most of it is depersonalized. However, the blog post also gives us a few hints about features Spotify is thinking about rolling out in the future.

One example: voice search and control. Said Ek: “Many people like to use Spotify in a hands-free way, and we may build voice controls into future versions of the product that will allow you to skip tracks, or pause, or otherwise navigate the app.”

Spotify isn’t the first company that has come under scrutiny for forcing users to agree to far-reaching data collection policies. Ride-sharing app Uber, for example, came under fire last fall for asking users for the right to access a plethora of data sources, including a user’s camera, Wi-Fi network names and caller IDs. Google is trying to make this process more transparent to users by adding more granular app permissions to the next version of Android.

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