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Spotify takes flak for location-tracking family-plan move


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Spotify knows where you live… but it would like to check that you’re still living there, every so often, if that’s okay? This is part of the new terms and conditions for the company’s much-discussed Premium Family plan.

An August update to the t’s and c’s included this clause: “We may from time to time ask for re-verification of your home address in order to confirm that you are still meeting the eligibility criteria.”

CNET spotted the clause, and found a privacy expert to criticise it. “The changes to the policy allow Spotify to arbitrarily use the location of an individual to ascertain if they continue to reside at the same address when using a family account, and it’s unclear how often Spotify will query users’ devices for this information,” said Christopher Weatherhead of Privacy International, suggesting that this has “worrying privacy implications”.

Spotify is stressing that it only uses this data to check people still live in the address registered to their Family Plan; that it’s encrypted; and is not stored. Still, there are other concerns: how many under-13 year-olds are on Spotify family accounts, for example?

Yes, you’re supposed to be older than 13, but anecdotally, Music Ally knows of many parents who’ve added younger children to their family plans to ensure their own discovery algorithms don’t get ‘baby-sharked’.

“It poses the problem of Spotify inadvertently tracking children and minors, who aren’t legally able to consent or object,” as Weatherhead put it.

Stuart Dredge

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