Yesterday was an uncomfortable day for Shazam, as it faced questions about the privacy of people using its Mac desktop application. A security researcher discovered that when the app is turned ‘off’ it leaves the computer’s microphone on and carries on recording data, although it stops processing it. Shazam responded initially by pointing out the latter fact to tech-news site Motherboard. “There is no privacy issue since the audio is not processed unless the user actively turns the app ‘ON’,” said VP of global communications James Pearson. “If the mic wasn’t left on, it would take the app longer to both initialise the mic and then start buffering audio, and this is more likely to result in a poor user experience where users ‘miss out’ on a song they were trying to identify.” Given revelations in recent years about surveillance and security, it’s a benefit that’s unlikely to wash with some users, and within a few hours, Shazam was promising CNET that it will change the way the Mac app works “to show that we care, and we pay attention”.

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