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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Spotify Surveillance Patent Faces Punk Protest

Tom Morello

Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace and Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine are among more than 180 musicians protesting the approval of new technology from Spotify.

In an open letter to Spotify’s co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek, the signatories, including Anti-Flag, Illuminati Hotties and Charmpit, call on him to commit never to use the speech-recognition patent.

Rage Against the Machine’s guitarist Tom Morello said: “You can’t rock out when you’re under constant corporate surveillance. Spotify needs to drop this right now and do right by musicians, music fans, and all music workers.”

CEO Daniel Ek
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek

The company’s artificial intelligence-based technology could detect things like emotional state, gender, age and accent and use them as a basis for recommending music, which Access Now – (a non-profit organisation that defends and extends the digital rights of people around the world) say is dangerous and a violation of privacy and other human rights.

“You can’t rock out when you’re under constant corporate surveillance. Spotify needs to drop this right now and do right by musicians, music fans, and all music workers.” Tom Morello

In response to pressure from the digital rights campaigners, Spotify said that it “has never implemented the technology described in the patent in any of our products, and we have no plans to do so”.

But Access Now wants the company to go further. It said: “While Access Now is pleased to hear that Spotify has no current plans to deploy the technology, Access Now calls on Spotify to make a public commitment never to use, license, sell, or monetise the technology.”

spotifyDontSpy-PR-header-1340x260

Another of those supporting the Stop Spotify Surveillance campaign is the queer indie-punk musician Evan Greer. Her latest album, Spotify is Surveillance, is out now on Get Better and Don Giovanni and includes the song Surveillance Capitalism.

The letter asks Spotify to publicly respond to the signatories request by May 18, 2021.


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