Musicians and organisations join forces against Spotify’s ‘intrusive’ speech-monitoring patent

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Musicians and organisations join forces against Spotify’s ‘intrusive’ speech-monitoring patent

Words by Eli Duxson

The patent was announced this January to harsh criticism from industry professionals.

A coalition of over 180 musicians and organisations signed an open letter on May 4 urging Spotify to never use, license, sell, or monetise their recently approved speech recognition patent.

Check out all the latest Industry News headlines here.

Spotify claims that the technology can detect, among other things, “emotional state, gender, age, or accent” to recommend music.

“This recommendation technology is dangerous, a violation of privacy and other human rights, and should not be implemented by Spotify or any other company,” the letter read.

Musicians including Tom Morello, Evan Greer, and Laura Jane Grace joined the coalition who expressed their major concerns for the technology as emotional manipulation, discrimination, privacy violation, data security, and exacerbating inequality in the music industry.

Digital rights organisation Access Now penned a letter on April 2 expressing the outlined concerns while also questioning their due diligence in identifying human risks associated with the technology.

After questioning their security measures on harvested data, they said the argument for “intrusive technology to better recommend music to its users is not persuasive”.

“Spotify already has troves of data on the people that use its service, down to the specific neighbourhoods where they live,” the letter said.

“Spotify claims it is removing the inconvenience users face in providing the company with additional personal information to receive more desirable songs. However, that alleged “inconvenience” is actually people’s consent to profiling”.

Spotify replied to Access Now’s letter, stating that the company “has never implemented the technology described in the patent in any of our products and we have no plans to do so”.

Questions as to why the technology’s use is being explored were raised if that is the case.

They have asked for a response by May 18.

Revisit the specifics of Spotify’s original patent here.