Monday, August 1, 2011

Spotify stung for spying

Posted By on Mon, Aug 1, 2011 at 5:26 PM

In an Indy article last week, we talked to musicians and industry folks about the pros and cons of Spotify, the new digital music service that launched in America on July 14. On the plus side, the company lets you stream more than 15 million tracks for free. On the downside, you have to listen to ads between songs, and the royalties paid to artists are unlikely to offset lost sales.

OK, then, get ready for Drawback No. 3. Turns out Spotify, along with Hulu and a number of other companies, has been using a particularly virulent online tracking service to mine information about subscribers' Internet habits — one that, as Berkeley researcher Ashkan Soltani told on Friday, uses "practically every known method to circumvent user attempts to protect their privacy."

Spotify and Hulu have since discontinued use of the service, which is provided by a Northern California company called KISSmetrics. Meanwhile, the good folks at KISSmetrics are insisting none of the data can be traced back to the individual visitors it spies upon.

All that might be somewhat reassuring, were it not for the prominent post that jumped out at me when I visited KISSmetrics' blog. Titled "7 Sneaky Ways to Use Facebook to Spy on Your Competition," it's a sequel to the company's previously posted "7 Sneaky Ways to Use Twitter to Spy on Your Competition."

"These days," begins the latter article, "spying on your competition is easier than ever."

But spying on customers? Why, that would be unthinkable.

Spotifys KISSmetrics: Trust us.
  • Spotify's KISSmetrics: Trust us.

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