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Spotify enrages users, apologizes over privacy changes

Sharon Gaudin | Aug. 24, 2015
Music service wants access to users' photos, contacts, voice control and location.

"Again, we have heard your concerns loud and clear," he wrote. "We are also going to update the new Privacy Policy in the coming weeks to better reflect what we have explained above."

Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst, said Spotify made a big mistake by risking users' loyalty and making privacy an issue at all.

"Every year we go further and deeper into this dark cauldron where more privacy is taken away from us," he told Computerworld. "It's long past time for everyone to finally wake up and to protect their privacy. If they don't do it, no one will. Eventually companies will learn where the line is and not cross over it or they will lose."

However, that has not happened.

For years, Facebook, the world's largest social network, has repeatedly angered users over privacy issues and users have repeatedly threatened a mass exodus from the network. It's never happened.

Facebook has become too engrained in the way people connect with family and friends for users to easily walk away from it. That may not be the case with Spotify, which has more competition, from services like Songza and Pandora -- in the streaming music market.

"Because this is a very different kind of service from Facebook, folks are more likely to abandon it, particularly if the news coverage continues like it is at the moment," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "When you are paying for a service, you expect to have a great deal more control over the personal information they are capturing and using."

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said he understands the customer uproar Spotify has created and added that it will be interesting if a mea culpa from the company and an explanation will mend fences with its users.

"I think Spotify made a mistake here," he said. "If Spotify keeps violating people's trust, they will leave because unlike Facebook, which has become our social hub, Spotify has a lot more viable competitors."


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