Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Gordon Brown probably listens to the Arctic Monkeys on Spotify

Splendidly named Harry Wallop, Telegraph consumer affairs editor, issues a stunning announcement:

Spotify now receives backing of 'internet obsessed' Government

Bloody hell. It has?
The Central Office of Information, which is in charge of producing Government information campaigns, has now become one of the largest advertisers on Spotify.

Isn't the COI the Civil Service rather than the Government? And is "buys advertising on" quite the same as "endorses"? After all, the COI takes space in the Daily Mail - does that mean the government follows the Mail's line that it's ballsing up the whole thing?

Oh, and that "internet obsessed" quote?
Matthew Sinclair, research director at the Tax Payers' Alliance, said: "The Government is becoming obsessed with chasing the latest Internet fads at the expense of getting important information across affordably."

(Shouldn't the Tax Payers' Alliance be renamed something slightly more accurate, like "A few reluctant Tax Payers' Alliance", given they only seem to represent a few more screechy right wing tax payers?)

It's touching that the Telegraph - a paper which is keen to embrace online innovations - somehow decides that an self-elected minority organisation's disdain for the COI taking a safer sex campaign onto the internet (which is where the target audience actually are) is worth putting in a headline on the story.

Perhaps more surprisingly amongst advertisers on Spotify: HMV and Warner Music - suggesting that both view (when it comes to the bottom line) free-to-ear music as not wiping out sales of paid music after all.


Alex B said...

Spotify have a much bigger problem as of this evening if this email I got is anything to go by -

"Dear Spotify user,

Last week we were alerted to a group that managed to compromise
our protocols. After investigating we concluded that this group
had gained access to information that could allow testing of a
very large number of passwords, possibly finding the right one.
The information was exposed due to a bug that we discovered and
fixed on December 19th, 2008. Until last week we were unaware
that anyone had had access to our protocols to exploit it.

Along with passwords, registration information such as your email
address,birth date, gender, postal code and billing receipt
details were potentially exposed. Credit card numbers are not
stored by us and were not at risk. All payment data is handled
by a secure 3rd party provider.

If you have an account that was created on or before December 19th 2008,
we strongly suggest that you change your password and strongly
encourage you to change your passwords for any other services
where you use the same password.

When choosing your password we provide you with an indicator of
the password strength to help you choose a good one. To change
your password please visit your profile page on our website.

For the technically minded amongst you, the information that may
have been exposed when our protocols were compromised is the
password hashes. As stated, we never store passwords, and they
have never been sent over the Internet unencrypted, but the
combination of the bug and the group's reverse-engineering of
our encrypted streaming protocol may have given outsiders access
to individual hashes.

The hashes are salted, making attacks using rainbow tables unfeasible.
Short or otherwise bad passwords could still be vulnerable to
offline targeted brute-force or dictionary attacks on individual
users, but you could not run attacks in parallel. Also, there
has been no known breach of our internal systems. A complete user
database has not been leaked, but until December 19th, 2008 it was
possible to access the password hashes of individual users had
you reverse-engineered the Spotify protocol and knew the

We are really sorry about this and hope you accept our apologies.
We're doubling our efforts to keep the systems secure in order
to prevent anything like this from happening again.

The Spotify Team"

plentyofants said...

Glad someone's brought them up on this. I've not seen such an obvious case of "we have our own agenda here" for ages.

So, a government agency, of which there are lots, has bought advertising with a company, which it does a lot, as that's kind of its job. And... and.. what? I suspect, due to the rapid rise in popularity of Spotify, it's pretty savvy of them as value for money goes. When I first heard the ads, I was impressed that they'd thought of it, if not by the actual adverts themselves.

Let's not forget that Spotify was recently called "the future of the music business" by, er... Neil McCormick in the Telegraph.

Come on, Telegraph. I know it's pretty much your raison d'être to 'bash bonkers Brown' and big-up the Conservative Party, but you could at least do it with a bit of integrity.

Olive said...

The Tax Payers' Alliance. What a fantastic name. I'm a father, who's quite keen on the rule of law. Does that mean I should join Father For Justice?
It is true, though, the government *is* obsessed by the internet, they just don't quite get it. Just as a diplomat from the soviet union once asked 'so, who is responsible for the supply of bread to London', the government is amazed (and a little troubled) that something as mind bogglingly useful as the internet can exist without, and be so resistant to, government meddling.

Jim W said...

The advert are some of the most effective around and ad buyers would be daft to pass them over... Most of them are burned onto my brain through constant repetition - I'm certainly never going abroad without my E111 again...

Spotify recently introduced a feature where you can't hit the mute button on your laptop while ads are playing. Effective.

Olive: may astonish you even more, they're regularly quoted in the Daily Mail when the hacks can't find anyone else to be outraged.

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