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Spotify is a danger to privacy lovers, and I don’t care

Oct 06, 20114 mins
Data and Information Security

As a new convert to the Spotify music-sharing app, I’m studying the privacy settings and realizing that a lot of people find them inadequate. But I can’t stay away.this article on privacy settings.It’s entirely up to you what you decide to share and what you keep private. To control your sharing settings, just go to your Spotify Preferences. Here you’ll see a Facebook tickbox. To share the music you listen to with Facebook, make sure the box is checked. If you’d rather not share, just uncheck the box. It’s that simple.Many of our users have told us that they like to share what they’re listening to, but also want an easy way to hide their occasional guilty pleasures. So we’ve now added a new ‘Private Listening’ mode to our latest update. You can turn it on from the File menu and it will stop sharing what you’re listening to until the next time you log in.

I’ve been using this thing for three days and I’ve already amassed a library with thousands of albums from all my favorite bands. I love how you can “star” or “subscribe” to a vast ocean of music and share with your Facebook contacts.

When my promotion to managing editor was announced Tuesday, I celebrated by spending an hour pillaging the Spotify library of Dave Marcus, security director at McAfee. He and I love a lot of the same bands: Pantera, Megadeth, Deep Purple. I skipped over his Beach Boys collection, just as he would skip over my Def Leppard and Motley Crue selections.

“This is greaaaaaaat!” I yelled as I collected one album after the next.

Yesterday I added the app to my Android and can now listen to this vast library of hard rock and metal while driving or walking.

Somewhere in my feeding frenzy, I stopped, remembered that I’m a security scribe and decided to look for some data regarding Spotify’s security features, if there were any.

I found

It reads all well and good:

“Oooh, simple,” I thought to myself. “I like simple.”

“Awesome,” I thought. “If I get stupidly sentimental for the musical hits of middle school, I can play Air Supply and no one has to know.”

Not that I would do such a thing.

Anyway, I scrolled down to the comments, and that’s when I was brought down to reality. Several complaints from people who don’t trust Spotify in light of its new unholy alliance with Facebook.

“Well, that’s all very well and good, but you’ve lost my trust, so for now I’m keeping my spotify account and facebook account separate. Which is a shame, because I liked seeing other peoples public playlists,” one person wrote. “It doesn’t help that you’ve done this at the same time as other facebook dirty tricks are coming to light, otherwise I’d be more inclined to try it out. But for now, I’m not getting into anything I can’t get out of. Now, when are we getting the Beatles and the Red Hot Chili Peppers?”

Another wrote: “I don’t agree with forcing people to log in with Facebook, but alas that’s the cost of doing business. If you want to be Facebook’s premier music partner you have to play by their rules.”

“I wont use Facebook as I have zero trust of their privacy policies and continual shifting ground on what data is collected and how it is used. I’m a premium subscriber and if a Facebook account is going to be a requirement in the future then that is the end of our relationship, sadly,” wrote someone else. “I hope you guys don’t go down this route. Please remember that not everyone is open to hosing their lives across the internet via the ever widening and less restricted Facebook pipe… Your early adopters and more tech savvy users I would include as part of this group. Regards.”


I think the privacy concerns around Facebook are justified, and it makes sense that the worry has spilled over to Spotify.

The problem is that I don’t care if the privacy is imperfect. When I’m hungry for music, which is all the time, I just want what I want immediately.

Does that make me a bad person, or at least lacking in common sense? Perhaps. But I can’t help it in this case.

Fortunately, the glow will wear off and I will become a lot more measured in my use of this new toy.

Hopefully, I’ll stay out of trouble in the meantime.

–Bill Brenner

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