Sunday, July 31, 2011

Spotify claim to be "concerned" by their own tracking service

Turns out Spotify (along with Hulu and others) have been using an especially nasty piece of tracking software to keep tabs on their customers. Wired reported:

Researchers at U.C. Berkeley have discovered that some of the net’s most popular sites are using a tracking service that can’t be evaded — even when users block cookies, turn off storage in Flash, or use browsers’ “incognito” functions.

The service, called KISSmetrics, is used by sites to track the number of visitors, what the visitors do on the site, and where they come to the site from — and the company says it does a more comprehensive job than its competitors such as Google Analytics.
Yes, more comprehensive because it stuck an undeletable file on your computer, rendering your ability to opt out of tracking invalid.

Spotify issued this in response to the original story:
Spotify, another KISSmetrics customer named in the report, said that it was concerned by the story:

“We take the privacy of our users incredibly seriously and are concerned by this report,” a spokeswoman said by e-mail. “As a result, we have taken immediate action in suspending our use of KISSmetrics whilst the situation is investigated."
The question, surely, is why Spotify didn't investigate how KISSMetrics worked before baking it into its product and distributing it across all its customers. The Spotify response is a bit like a baker muttering "we're surprised to discover adding Acme Arsenic to our cakes and cookies is killing people, we'll stop doing that for the time being to look into it."