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Spotify needs to crack down on labels snatching user data – TechCrunch

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Spotify seems to have learned little from the Facebook developer platform’s scandals despite getting a huge boost from the social network in its early days. Spotify has been caught allowing record labels to grab tons of unnecessary user data and permissions to even control their accounts just so people can “pre-save” upcoming song releases.

An investigation by Billboard’s Micah Singleton found major label Sony’s app for pre-saving demanded access to users’ email address, what you’ve listened to and saved to your library, playlists you’ve made or subscribed to, artists you follow, and what you’re playing right now. It also asks to be able to take actions on your behalf including change who you follow, add or remove songs from your library, create/edit/follow playlists, and even control Spotify on your devices.

An example of Universal Music Group’s pre-save app that asks for unnecessary user data and access permissions

This means that by agreeing to use a pre-save feature, a record label could index you music tastes and determine your current mood for marketing purposes, subscribe you to all of their artists and playlists, force you to create playlists that include their artists or add them to your existing playlists, and delete or unfollow any music or artists represented by their competitors.

Since users often speed through platform app permission screens assuming they’re just asking for what’s required, many likely gave up valuable data about themselves and the ability to manipulate their accounts without fully understanding what was happening. Other major labels like Warner and Universal’s pre-save apps like this one similarly ask for 10 types of permission — most extraneous.

In reality, the only permission a pre-save app should need is to be able to add the song you wanted to pre-save to your library. Anything else is theoretically prohibited by Spotify’s developer policy section 5.2: “You will only request the data you need to operate your Spotify Developer Application.” If you’ve used these apps, you can go into your Spotify account settings here to remove their access.

In a post-Cambridge Analytica world, platforms like Spotify should know better than to let developers run amok without proper oversight. That’s why I was so disappointed when Spotify refused to provide a statement, explanation, or even talk with me about the issue.

Offering a flexible developer platform has plenty of advantages for users. Apps for DJing with streaming music, discovering new bands, or synchronizing playback with friends could be built with rightful and transparent use of Spotify’s APIs. But for something as simple and common as volunteering to have a new song from your favorite band show up in your library on the day it’s released shouldn’t become a lure for an exploitative data grab.

That’s why Spotify should build its own in-house pre-save app that labels could all use to pre-promote their releases. Approved labels and their artists should be able to punch in their upcoming single’s Spotify URL and get a shareable link back that they can distribute through social media or wherever that only grants permission to pre-save that specific song, and that expires once that action is completed.

Spotify vs Apple Music Subsscribers

Spotify is widening its subscriber lead over Apple Music

Otherwise, Spotify risks losing all the goodwill its built up with listeners by being a music-first company compared to competitors like Apple and Google where music is a rounding error. Apple Music provides app developers with less data about users.

Just today Apple Music announced it has 60 million subscribers, lagging increasingly further behind Spotify which now has 100 million subscribers and 217 million total monthly users. Spotify already dominates cultural mind share for streaming, having used the playlists it controls to become a hit-maker and gain leverage over the labels for royalty negotiations. But turning a blind eye to shady developers just because they own the music it streams could make listeners question their loyalty and stray to Apple, which is notoriously serious about privacy.

If Spotify is unwilling to push back on data abuse by its record label partners, then it’s undeserving of users’ ears and subscription dollars.

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The 12 Fastest Ways To Travel On Land

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The L0 Series Maglev train is a high-speed magnetic levitation (maglev) train developed by Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central) in Japan. The train, also known as the “Linimo,” is the world’s first commercial maglev train to enter revenue service. The train was first introduced in 2011 and currently operates in the city of Nagoya (via Tanken Japan).

The L0 Series trains are powered by superconducting magnets, which lift the train off the tracks and propel it forward. This technology allows the train to reach speeds of up to 374 mph (601 km/h) without the need for wheels, gears, or friction. This results in a smoother and faster ride compared to traditional trains.

On April 16th, a manned seven-car L0 series trainset reached a speed of 590 km/h (370 mph) breaking the previous world record of 581 km/h (361 mph) set by a Japanese MLX01 maglev trainset in December 2003. The speed of 590 km/h was sustained for 19 seconds. Just five days later, on April 21st, a manned seven-car L0 series trainset recorded a top speed of 603 km/h (375 mph). The train hit its top speed at 10:48 am, about 4 minutes into the run, with 49 JR Central employees on board. The train sustained the speed for 10.8 seconds, traveling 1.8 kilometers (1.1 mi) during that time.

One of the unique features of the L0 Series is its ability to operate on both elevated and ground-level tracks. This is made possible by its ability to switch between levitation and contact modes. The train also has a smaller environmental footprint than traditional trains as it emits less noise and vibration.

In addition to its use in Nagoya, JR Central has plans to introduce the L0 Series on the Tokyo-Osaka route. This will reduce travel time between the two cities from 2 hours and 25 minutes to just 1 hour and 7 minutes.

Overall, the L0 Series Maglev train is a technological marvel that showcases Japan’s leadership in high-speed rail technology. It offers a faster, smoother, and more efficient mode of transportation for passengers, and also has a lower environmental impact than traditional trains. With plans to expand its usage to other routes, the L0 Series is set to revolutionize the way we travel in Japan and potentially the world.

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The Dodge M80 Was A Throwback Truck Concept Ahead Of Its Time

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If Fisher-Price made combat vehicles in World War II, it might look like the Dodge M80 concept. The M80 was a retro-inspired vehicle in the same way that the PT Cruiser and Plymouth Prowler harkened back to the old days of motoring. Although unlike the PT Cruiser and the poor Prowler, the M80 didn’t make anyone who looked at it think cars in general were a bad idea. 

As reported by Canadian Driver in 2002, the Dodge M80’s exterior was entirely new, but it had familiar bones as it was based on the Dodge Dakota and was powered by a 3.7-liter 210-horsepower V6. With an estimated weight of just 2,500 pounds, it would have been a featherweight next to other trucks at the time. For comparison, a Ford Ranger from the same year had a curb weight of 3,085 pounds (via Edmunds). Where the M80 really shined was its proposed simplicity and capability. The interior was spartan and therefore easy to clean. Pictures of the concept show compartments galore, including a rear window that allowed either access to the bed while in the truck or effectively lengthened the truck bed. GMC is currently putting a similar feature to use in the EV version of the Sierra.

The Dodge M80 unfortunately never came to pass. As such, it was not able to breath life into the floundering compact truck market at the beginning of the new Millenium. Fortunately, the future is bright for small trucks with the introduction of the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz. 

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Why You Need To Use Google Chrome’s Enhanced Safe Browsing Mode

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First, the basics. Activating Enhanced Safe Browsing in Chrome is a simple process: just click Settings, scroll to Privacy And Security > Safe Browsing, and select the Enhanced option. The importance of Enhanced Safe Browsing is a somewhat longer story. In short, no security is foolproof, and Google has historically erred on the side of making simple, accessible tools for consumers. Incognito Mode in particular is allegedly considered a bit of a joke over at Google HQ; some users are even suing over its limitations.

By contrast, Enhanced Safe Browsing focuses on the security holes hackers are most likely to exploit. Per Google, Enhanced Safe Browsing uses multiple strategies to guarantee user safety: it checks websites against a constantly updated list of unsafe locations, examines unusual URLs for potential phishing scams, and inspects downloads for dangerous or corrupted files. It even takes a sampling of potential threats a given user has encountered and syncs it with their Google Account, allowing for personalized security focused on the risks that the user is most likely to face. All this happens in real time, as the user goes about their browsing session.

Note that Enhanced Safe Browsing’s real-time service means sending more user data to Google than browsing in normal or Incognito Mode. That’s a concern worth being aware of: big companies have security breaches, too, and are by no means universally trustworthy when it comes to user data. That said, participating in the digital world more or less requires users to operate within the ecosystem of one of a handful of large companies. If your home or office is a Google shop, Enhanced Safe Browsing is unquestionably the most secure option available.

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