Music to Angst Over Privacy By … Spotify’s Mea Culpa Moment


Music streaming company Spotify USA Inc. might want to make sure to feature Brenda Lee after starting a chorus of “I’m Sorry” over a kerfuffle involving changes to its privacy policy.

Spotify has been mixing mood-based playlists that focus on how a person feels at a particular time or what they are doing rather than spotlighting a genre of music—Love in the Afternoon rather than Country Classics, stuff like that. Don’t think they ever anticipated the need for I’m Angry Spotify Seems to Want All of My Personal Information mix.

Those mood-based playlists could well help Spotify garner sponsors interested in targeted marketing through its connected brands program. Pretty much everybody using Spotify understands they are giving up some info in return. But changes in the terms of service that asked to users to allow the company to access photos, geolocation, voice controls and contacts seemed to some to go too far.

After some users complained, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek almost immediately posted a blog entry titled “ SORRY” that apologized for creating confusion and said the company understood user privacy concerns. 

“Let me be crystal clear here: If you don’t want to share this kind of information, you don’t have to. We will ask for your express permission before accessing any of this data – and we will only use it for specific purposes that will allow you to customize your Spotify experience,” Ek wrote. He added that any information shared with marketing and advertising partners “is de-identified–your personal information is not shared with them.” 

The post ended with a call for users to share any other privacy concerns via e-mail to

Maybe some Bob Marley “Everything's Gonna Be Alright” is in order.

To keep up with the constantly evolving world of privacy and security sign up for the Bloomberg BNA Privacy and Security Update.