Earlier this year, Spotify obtained a for a voice recognition system who could detect a person’s ’emotional state’, age and gender and use that information to make personalized listening recommendations. As you can imagine, the possibility of the company working on technology like this made a lot of people uncomfortable, including the nonprofit Access Now digital rights association. In early April, the organization sent Spotify a calling it to abandon technology. After Spotify privately responded to these concerns, Access Now, along with several other groups and a collection of more than 180 musicians, is asking the company to engage publicly never to use, license, sell or monetize the system he has patented. Some of the people and bands who signed the letter included Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, rapper Talib Kweli and indie band DIIV.
In one new letter Addressed to Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, the coalition presents five main concerns about the technology. He is concerned that he will allow Spotify or any other company that deploys it to emotionally manipulate users, harvest their personal information, and discriminate against trans and non-binary people. He also says the technology will only serve to further worsen economic inequalities in the music industry. “Music has to be made for human connection, not to please a profit-maximizing algorithm,” the group says. Access Now is asking Spotify to publicly respond to its request by May 18, 2021.
When we asked Spotify for comment on Access Now’s request, the company told Engadget about a letter it sent to the organization in mid-April. “Spotify has never implemented the technology described in the patent in any of our products and we have no intention of doing so,” said Horacio Gutierrez, head of global affairs for Spotify, in the letter. “The decision to patent an invention does not always reflect the company’s intention to implement the invention into a product, but is rather influenced by a number of other considerations, including our responsibilities to our users and society as a whole. “