Spotify filed a patent for a mood-reading voice assistant in 2018, but it only hit the headlines in March 2020. It has proved controversial, with more than 180 artists and human rights organisations writing to Spotify in May asking the company to abandon the technology on privacy grounds.
At the time, Spotify responded by saying it “has never implemented the technology described in the patent in any of our products and we have no plans to do so”. Has that satisfied Access Now, one of the organisations behind the letter? It has not.
“Spotify did not make a clear commitment to never use, license, sell, or monetize the technology. Even if Spotify does not use the technology, they could profit from the surveillance tool if another entity deploys it. Any use of this technology is unacceptable,” claimed Access Now in a new open letter this week, addressed to Spotify shareholders.
“This is why we are asking you — Spotify’s major shareholders — to hold the company accountable for developing a tool that would seriously compromise human rights.”