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About Those Privacy Policies….

About Those Privacy Policies….






This blog post is dedicated to my cousin, Tony Neetz.

Not to long ago, my cousin, Tony sent me an email questioning some of the lines of Spotify’s Privacy Policy.  He’s an awesome family member because he understands what I do, reads what I write, and always asks my opinion on all things tech. (Ok, we also grew up being pretty close too and he’s a great guy. But don’t tell him I said that!)

I first want to commend Tony for taking the time to read the Privacy Policy before signing up or installing anything. Kudos Cuz! (Cuz is slang for cousin.)

Well, after our email discussion about this, Tony gave me permission to use his email as a blog post. So first, the email. The highlighted portions of the original email are exactly as Tony had highlighted as questionable in his email to me.

1 person here at work told me about a great new music service called “Spotify” which gives you access to a whole ton of free music. I checked it out and it was really great. Found lots of stuff on there that I hadn’t seen in a long time.

I was in the process of installing the program and activating the account when I read the “Privacy Policy” that you are required to accept. After only getting through the first couple of paragraphs, I declined the service and uninstalled the software. Have you ever heard of this Spotify before? What I read disturbed me as far as giving up some of my privacy. Is this normal now? below is the Spotify Privacy policy, and I highlighted the parts that I don’t like. I bet most people just click “accept” and have no idea as to what they are agreeing to. Scary!
Am I wrong to be wary of this?

Spotify Privacy Policy

Effective as from 11 April 2012.

Spotify USA Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Spotify”, “we” or “us”) wishes to bring you the best music service available. To be able to do this, and to offer you products and services described on the Spotify websites at http://www.spotify.com/ and other Spotify branded URLs (the “Spotify Websites”). Spotify will request some information from you and automatically collect information about your use of the Spotify Software Application, the Spotify Service (both as defined in the Spotify Terms and Conditions of Use). Further, Spotify will request information from third party services if such services are activated via Spotify. This policy (the “Spotify Privacy Policy”) describes our online privacy practices and what personal information we may collect from you and what we will and will not do with that information.

1. How we collect and use personal information

When you sign up for a Spotify account or purchase Spotify’s products and services described on the Spotify Websites, we may ask you for and collect certain information such as email address, postal address, age, gender residence and the URL of the website from which you are signing up. When creating a Spotify account, or connecting your already existing Spotify account with your Facebook account, we will also receive and store the following information from Facebook, Inc. (“Facebook”) your name, user name, password, profile picture, unique Facebook identifier and access token, gender, birthday and email address. In addition, when you use the Spotify Software Application, Spotify Service and Spotify Websites, we will automatically receive information about your use of the application, service and website including information such as media that you access, queries you make, the URL of the website from which you use or access the Spotify Service, date and time of your request, your Internet protocol address, performance of your network and computer, your browser type, language and identifying information, your operating system and application version.


We will use your personal information (i) to provide the products and services that you have purchased or requested (including Spotify Social, as defined in the Spotify Terms and Conditions of Use, and the display of customized content and advertising), (ii) to communicate with you concerning your account, customer service issues and Spotify products and services, (iii) to personalize and improve the Spotify Software Application, the Spotify Service and the Spotify Websites, (iv) to ensure the technical functioning of our products and services, (v) to develop new products and services, (vi) to protect the copyright-protected content of the Spotify Service (e.g. by limiting access to the Spotify Service content to users with a Spotify account), and (vii) as otherwise stated in this Spotify Privacy Policy.


If you connect your Spotify account to Facebook, we will make available and/or share your Facebook user name and your Facebook profile picture to other Spotify users. Further, Spotify users may be able to use the Spotify Service to search for or view your Spotify profile and the information contained therein, such as Playlists, as defined below (for example, if they know and input your user name in the Spotify Software Application or Spotify Service). Please familiarize yourself with and use the settings in the preferences pane as they provide you with some options to adjust the information in your Spotify profile that may be viewed and your activities that may be shared.

If you choose to activate Spotify Social or otherwise publish your playlists, starred music top lists, and current playing song (hereafter jointly “Playlists”), your Playlist information will be publicly available to other Spotify users (for example, on your Spotify profile page or social activity stream) and may be used, or re-shared by other Spotify users. Spotify is not responsible for the use or re-sharing of Playlist information by others once it is made public.

[End of Email]

My response back to Tony was that yes, I’d heard of Spotify and it was the ‘next big thing’ mainly because of Facebook, and that no, he wasn’t wrong in being wary about this.

This is a perfect example of what I’ve been trying to tell all of you for years now.  Your privacy is no longer ensured with social media sites and apps. End of story.

You want privacy? Don’t use social media apps. It’s that simple.  You want total privacy? Get off the Internet.

The Plain and Simple Truth

I won’t get into my long and boring rant about basic economics but I will attempt to educate you as simply as I can in case you slept through your economics course in High School or College.

The young tech start-ups have one goal in mind – take the company public. That means they want to become a publicly traded company on the stock exchange and become the next Internet billionaire.

When companies go public, their investors – the people who buy their stock – expect returns on their investment. That means a consistent profit from that company. How does a company turn a profit when they are providing a free service to their users? Think about that for a second!  How do you make money when your service is free?

The plain and simple truth is you can’t and you won’t. Therefore, the company offering you the free service has to be selling something to someone else. What are they selling? YOU!  Your data. Your habits. Your personal likes and dislikes.

And who are they selling it to? Advertisers.

The service you are using for free is being paid for by your privacy.

Can I make it any simpler than that?

You Choose

You have a choice. You either choose to use the free services and pay for it with your privacy so the company can make money and keep their stock holders happy, or you choose to use other alternatives. And if you don’t know what alternatives there are to what you’re looking for, please feel free to post a comment and ask.

But if you’re going to continue using the free sites, free apps, and free services, don’t complain that you lost your privacy. And be more like my cousin Tony and start to read the Privacy Policies and Terms of Use policies before you click the ‘next’ button on an install.

Remember, there really are no free lunches in a capitalist society!

Image Source: Microsoft Clip Gallery