Earlier this year, we heard that Spotify had filed a new patent involving voice recognition technology. With this program, software would listen to your voice and based on your “emotional state, gender, age, and accent,” and then have the algorithms serve up appropriate music based on what it hears.
This is not going over well with a lot of people. More than 180 artists and human rights organizations (including Amnesty International and Color of Change) wrote to Spotify protesting this kind of technology. Organized by Access Now and Fight for the Future (along with help from the US Union of Musicians and Allied Workers), they stated “This technology is dangerous, a violation of privacy and other human rights, and should be abandoned.”
They have a point. This feels far too invasive. And how might this be used for evil in the future? Consider if smart speakers were to implement this technology. There’s even a term for this growing trend to listen in on us: “surveillance capitalism.”
Spotify has responded via Horacio Gutierrez, the company’s head of global affairs and chief legal office.
“Spotify has never implemented the technology described in the patent in any of our products and we have no plans to do so. I can assure you that any products Spotify develops both now and in the future will reflect our commitment to conducting business in a socially responsible manner and comply with applicable law.”
So that’s a promise? The writers of the letter shot back:
“If the company actually wants to demonstrate its commitment to protecting human rights, Spotify must publicly declare to never use, license, sell, or monetize its harmful spyware. Spotify must completely reject the premise of this technology and commit to never using, licensing, selling, or monetising their speech recognition patent.”
Your turn, Spotify.
(Via Music Ally)