Spotify privacy policy: why being upfront is better than saying sorry

David Wilson - Aug 24, 2015

The latest privacy policy faux pas belongs to online music service Spotify, who were publicly annihilated for a privacy policy update which may allow Spotify to access a user’s location, photos, contacts, and listen in via an inbuilt microphone. The aggravation of its users started not because they are doing anything illegal, but rather because no one can think why on earth such personal information would be collected by a music streaming service. It also didn’t help when CEO Daniel Ek issued an apology blog post without explaining why this information would be collected. He simply broke down the legal jargon of the privacy policy into plain english and how it ‘may’ be used. We believe a good privacy policy doesn’t need to be ‘translated’, rather, it should be clear and easy to understand by all visitors.

Spotify’s intentions are most likely well and good as they’re out to create a great music experience for their users and using your location could help them target music that is trending in your area. If a product or service is so beneficial that it will require access to additional user data, then let your users know what the idea is first, so that they can then make up their own mind on whether they are willing to give up a bit more of their personal data in exchange for these new features. Unsurprisingly, Spotify have reverted to their old privacy policy while staff run around frantically wondering how it all got out of control.

We believe it got out of control because they were effectively blindsiding their users by pushing through privacy changes that could potentially see users sharing more than they hoped for or would think needed to use a music streaming service.

What can we take away from this? A privacy policy is more than an act of legal compliance – it is a covenant of trust between you and your users. It can working incredibly for you when you are open and honest, and can absolutely turn on you if you try to sneak one around the user, because let’s face it – users are becoming more and more cautious about their personal information, which is why there is a large increase in the number of people reading privacy policies and flagging when something isn’t right.

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