Spotify: is it right that the platform recognizes our state of mind?

Spotify: è giusto che la piattaforma riconosca il nostro stato d'animo? thumbnail

The new Spotify technology would allow the platform to recognize the mood of users through voice recognition, to propose them playlists in mood. But it is immediately controversy in terms of privacy.

Spotify would like to know the mood of its users, but privacy?

Music: something that can perceive but not see, hear but not touch. The biggest vehicle of emotions, suitable for any mood. We all have songs that, at any given moment, seemed to describe our lives perfectly. And that’s exactly why Spotify is thinking of making the most of its technologies, so da recommend playlists and songs according to the mood of their users. An interesting, ambitious and also extremely disturbing project, especially from the point of view of privacy.

The technology is actually as innovative as it is basic: use voice recognition to interpret the emotions of the subscribers. This is a patent already filed in the spring of 2021, but on which the company may have worked for several years. The app would then be able to add the emotional state to other parameters and data it already has, such as age, gender and origin. In doing so it would be able to baking the perfect recipe for our musical tastes. Of course it is sad to think of a computer that does the delicate process of for us artistic research, however, the concept is certainly fascinating.

Access Now activists oppose: “it’s emotional manipulation”

The idea, however, does not seem to be particularly popular with activists from Access Now, an organization that has been fighting for fair and safe access to the web since 2009. This immediately criticized Spotify’s wishes, pointing out that recognizing the mood through the voice is one violation of privacy. Not only that: activists believe that using emotions to propose music is a kind of emotional manipulation. Access Now, after learning about the patent, sent a letter to Spotify’s stakeholders. Here’s how it says:

“Serious doubts have been raised on the scientific basis of technologies that claim to detect the emotional state and other characteristics of individuals. But even if this technology worked, it would violate individuals’ rights to privacy, non-discrimination and freedom of expression”.

At the moment the technology has never been used by the company, even if it has been talked about for a few years now. It must be said, however, that the whole world of Spotify playlists, which they now are a very important cog in the big machine of the record industry (especially for publishers), it is entirely based on the mood of the users.

“When we first raised these concerns directly with Spotify, the company claimed to not using technology in any product and did not intend to do so. However, he did not want to openly commit not to use, license, sell or monetize the technology, ”reports a letter from Access Now. “Even if Spotify doesn’t make use of this technology, it could profit from it surveillance tools implemented by other institutions. Any use of this technology is unacceptable ”.