Saturday, December 18, 2010
My radio station is stalking me
Pandora, the free internet-based radio station, is an interesting concept. Enter the names of a few artists that you like to listen to, and Pandora will craft a commercial-free personalized radio station just for you. In the alternative, you can listen to stations created by friends, or to genre stations.
Pandora is available as a smartphone app, and those of who are still on unlimited data plans can listen to our hearts content without paying a dime.
A little odd though, isn't it? Free music, unsupported by subscription fees or intrusive advertising?
This morning, I was reminded that there is no free lunch.
A Pandora software update was available, so I checked the details, and I was horrified. The update would allow Pandora to access my calendar, send emails to my contacts, and track the originating and destination locations of my phone calls. I verified the information that Pandora already has access to, and it includes reading my contact information and tracking my phone calls.
This is outrageous.
We expect, or should expect, any merchant we do business with to collect certain information about us. But why the hell does a radio station think it is entitled to know who my contacts are, or the location of people I talk to?
The quick and dirty answer is, people are entitled to whatever information we voluntarily give them, and I goofed by not paying closer attention to Pandora's privacy settings when I began using the app.
I've learned my lesson. I've deleted Pandora from my smartphone.