Spotify Finally Launches In Germany -- And Immediately Hits Data Protection Problems

from the one-thing-after-another dept

The music streaming service Spotify has adopted a rather unusual pattern of launches around the world. Founded in Sweden, it spread gradually to various parts of Europe, and only later arrived in the US. The main reason for this slow rollout seems to have been difficulty striking licensing deals with the major recording companies.

That's also why Spotify has only just launched in the important market of Germany. The main problem is the notoriously unhelpful German music collection society GEMA. Surprisingly, Spotify still doesn't have a license, but it turns out that's only one of its problems in the country. Via Twitter, Arjan points out that Germany's Federal Commissioner for Data Protection, Peter Schaar, and Berlin's Data Protection Commissioner, Alexander Dix, are both unhappy with Spotify, since it seems to be incompatible with Germany's data protection laws (German original.)

The problem arises from the fact that Spotify requires users to have a Facebook account to sign up. That means it is not possible to use the service anonymously or pseudonymously -- as required by German law. It's not yet clear what the data protection commissioners intend to do about this -- Dix, for example, is simply recommending that Spotify changes its business model to render it compatible with German laws.

It's rather appropriate that when Spotify launches in Germany, a country well-known for its concerns about privacy, it should encounter problems in this area -- just as it was probably inevitable that soon after its arrival in the US, Spotify was sued for alleged patent infringement.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2012 @ 12:40am

    AFAIK you also tend to need a creditcard to pay for subscriptions, how does the german law deal with that?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Me., Mar 15th, 2012 @ 12:42am

    Hold on...

    I'm using Spotify Germany without a Facebook account.

     

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  3.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Mar 15th, 2012 @ 1:10am

    smh

    One day politicians around the world are going to wake up and realize there is a new invention that is sweeping the globe, called the interwebs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 15th, 2012 @ 1:30am

    Re:

    Free streaming is also available, so it probably wouldn't apply if said free streaming was allowed anonymously. Also, depending on how the law is written, payment might be exempt from anonymity requirements as long as it's separate from the actual usage of the service.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2012 @ 2:26am

    ... I use spotify without a facebook account also.. eh?

     

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  6.  
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    Violated (profile), Mar 15th, 2012 @ 3:05am

    GEMA, Sony, YouTube, Spotify & Facebook

    GEMA is certainly the most unhelpful collection service in Europe for rights holders. Lets not forget that companies like Sony want their music videos to appear on YouTube but GEMA's ongoing dispute again YouTube is blocking thousands of music videos appearing and therefore not earning the musicians and rights holders money.

    Then I dare anyone to do VPN to a server based in Germany when just by visiting your favourite sites you will be shocked at how much content is blocked and how many sites say "we cannot provide service to Germany due to unreasonable licencing deals".

    Spotify has long been part of that list and it is good to now see them make some in-roads into Germany. Yes insisting on a Facebook link is very unhelpful but if a person is big on anonymity like myself then they would keep a second Facebook account containing false details.

    So it is not correct to say that anonymity would be lost by insisting on a Facebook link but it is certainly an attempt to have people identify themselves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2012 @ 3:25am

    For those surprised at the fact you need a facebook account. The spotify beta only required a "spotify" account,
    since its global rollout it works with facebook.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Vela, Mar 15th, 2012 @ 3:53am

    Unhappy

    Why do they insist you must be a registered facebook user. Thats taking things too far.

     

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  9.  
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    Ninja (profile), Mar 15th, 2012 @ 4:05am

    What if I don't want to have a Facebook account?

    Spotify might want to think about it. Other than that it's a good service that's running in the same ancient dinosaurs from the MAFIAA. Except that it's going slower so it won't run into giga issues like Grok. But in the long term I expect the MAFIAA to try and strangle it, which is a pity.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    well, Mar 15th, 2012 @ 4:28am

    this is just another legitimate reason to create another fake facebook account, further shaking the idea that One Person = One Facebook account

     

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  11.  
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    lun, Mar 15th, 2012 @ 4:31am

    Oh so it's "unusual" not to launch first in the Motherland of the United States of America now? Why so americentric?

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    CN, Mar 15th, 2012 @ 5:21am

    I don't even want a FAKE Facebook account.

    I don't even want a FAKE Facebook account, let alone a real one. I guess I won't be using Spotify.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Andrew (profile), Mar 15th, 2012 @ 5:35am

    The problem arises from the fact that Spotify requires users to have a Facebook account to sign up. That means it is not possible to use the service anonymously or pseudonymously -- as required by German law.

    I know nothing about German law in this area, but surely Facebook also requires a Facebook account to use the service? Is Facebook legal in Germany?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2012 @ 6:34am

    Re:

    Don't you know that everything good is either created in or stolen from the US?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    gaetano, Mar 15th, 2012 @ 6:42am

    Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2012 @ 7:07am

    Re: GEMA, Sony, YouTube, Spotify & Facebook

    By creating a facebook account with false details you have violated Facebook's terms of service. In fact even if you create a facebook account with real details but for someone else, you have violated their terms of service.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2012 @ 7:25am

    "By creating a facebook account with false details you have violated Facebook's terms of service."

    So? Terms of service are of no concern to the stalkers, trolls and spammers that use the site. And when they eventually get caught, they just sign up again under different false details and carry on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Violated (profile), Mar 15th, 2012 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re: GEMA, Sony, YouTube, Spotify & Facebook

    Then no one cares. Since Facebook does not require identity validation then you can be anyone from the fairy godmother to the devil incarnate.

    I have three Facebook accounts (me, my daughter, and fake me) and I made a fourth account for a friend.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Bengie, Mar 15th, 2012 @ 9:34am

    Re: GEMA, Sony, YouTube, Spotify & Facebook

    "GEMA's ongoing dispute again YouTube is blocking thousands of music videos appearing and therefore not earning the musicians and rights holders money."

    Buy Sony said not directly paying for something is stealing.. Now i'm confused.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Khaim (profile), Mar 15th, 2012 @ 5:57pm

    ...then how is Facebook legal?

    I do not understand this at all. You need Facebook to use Spotify, and that's a problem because you can't be anonymous on Facebook. But if you can't be anonymous on Facebook, then isn't Facebook illegal too?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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