Spotify sparks controversy over changes to its privacy policy

If you've been enjoying Spotify's new Running feature, which matches the BPM of the music you are listening to with your pace, or the Discover Weekly playlist tailored to your musical taste, then the music streaming service has more improvements in store for you.

But there's a catch: the company is updating its terms and conditions and privacy policy to allow it to gather more personal data from your smartphone or tablet, such as pictures, phone numbers, sensor data and social media activity.

"The data we access simply helps us to tailor improved experiences to our users, and build new and personalised products for the future," Spotify says in a blog on its website.

The changes to its Privacy Policy, which will be rolled out in the coming weeks, include this sentence: "We may ask for customer permission to collect information from new sources, such as address book, location and sensor data from the mobile device to improve the customer experience and inform product decisions."

This might have gone unnoticed if Minecraft creator Markus Persson, aka Notch, hadn't told his 2.4 million followers on Twitter that he had cancelled his account because of the changes. Persson then had an angry exchange online with Spotify founder Danel Ek.

Ek has since posted a blog on the Spotify website in an effort to clarify the changes and reassure users: "In our new privacy policy, we indicated that we may ask your permission to access new types of information, including photos, mobile device location, voice controls, and your contacts.

"Let me be crystal clear here: if you don’t want to share this kind of information, you don’t have to. We will ask for your express permission before accessing any of this data – and we will only use it for specific purposes that will allow you to customize your Spotify experience," Ek said.

Is this just a storm in a teacup? Or will the changes make you cancel your Spotify account? Let us know what you think in the Comments box below.

MORE: Read our full Spotify review

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Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.