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Sorry, Spotify CEO says in response to new privacy policy backlash

Updated on 9-3-2015 by Lulu Chang: Following the very public backlash to its previous privacy policy changes, Spotify has changed its verbiage once again. In a blog post released Thursday, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek revealed that the company had updated its policy, and had “also gone a step further by incorporating a plain language introduction in the policy itself.” Explained Ek, “The Introduction is intended to be a clear statement of our approach and principles about privacy. We hope it provides a healthy dose of clarity and context too.” While there aren’t actually any notable changes to the policy, the update is meant to alleviate some of the concerns (or rather, confusion) that resulted from its initial roll out. So give the new introduction a read — along with the (now old) new policy — and decide for yourself whether you feel any better. 

You know it’s bad when the CEO of a company has to issue a mea culpa, and that’s exactly what Daniel Ek of Spotify did on Friday, apologizing for the very controversial new privacy policy (or lack thereof) the music streaming service recently released.

As per the new guidelines, Spotify has claimed the rights to not only access users’ contacts, photos, GPS data, and sensor data, but also to share this information with advertisers (of which there are aplenty on the service). Naturally, a number of current Spotify users quickly became former Spotify users, and as a result, Ek penned a blog post titled simply, “SORRY.”

An attempt at pacification, Ek’s post is a much needed dose of clarification on the first blog post, released August 17, that alarmed many users with its apparent disregard for privacy rights and concerns. Wrote Ek, “We are in the middle of rolling out new terms and conditions and a privacy policy and they’ve caused a lot of confusion about what kind of information we access and what we do with it. We apologize for that. We should have done a better job in communicating what these policies mean and how any information you choose to share will — and will not — be used.”

RelatedSpotify’s intrusive privacy policy allows the collection of photos, sensor data, and more

While the CEO notes that the new policy does indeed ask for users’ photos, mobile device location, voice controls, and contacts, he emphasizes, “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.”

Whether this appeases the many angry (and high-profile) reactions to the initial policy has yet to be determined, but Spotify’s response certainly bears witness to the enormous power a user base maintains on its service provider, especially in the age of social media. Ek concluded, “Again, we have heard your concerns loud and clear. We are also going to update the new Privacy Policy in the coming weeks to better reflect what we have explained above.”

If you still have concerns over what Spotify is and isn’t using when it comes to your data, you’re encouraged to reach out at privacycomments@spotify.com. As the CEO says, “We’re listening to you and we take your concerns very seriously.”