Podcasters Are Having A Very Public Privacy Fight


It all started with a Facebook post from Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane: “Is your podcast measurement service sharing your listener IP data without your permission and monetizing your listeners? Two discussions in 24 hours appears it may be the case.” That set off a long discussion which became ugly at times.

It appears the question is whether podcasters are responsible for putting their listeners are risk by using a service that shares their personal information. There is a contingent who believe this is a made up issue. And, others, such as long-time podcasters Todd Cochrane, Rob Walch and Rob Greenlee who believe it’s a serious problem.

One thing is clear – it’s complicated.

Libsyn’s Rob Walch says it is the responsibility of the podcaster to protect listener data. “As a podcaster – it is your responsibility to make sure you do not put your listeners privacy at risk by signing up to a service that will share their personal info. It should also be your Podcast hosting companies responsibility to make sure that is not even possible. At Libsyn we only allow the prefix’s from those that committed to not sharing listeners personal info of Libsyn hosted podcasts.”

A list of those services to avoid has not been posted by anyone. That would surely make life easier for those podcasters not as educated on this topic.

Blubrry’s Todd Cochrane: “Here is the dilemma. The EU rules, and in California, require an opt in. How do you opt in aka click to agree to be spied on to someone that subscribes in the various apps? It’s impossible! So responsible hosts have adopted global GDPR regardless if your in the EU or not. CCPA protects you by following privacy guidelines. Most will not care until someone is made an example. I will not put our customers in that position. Again it’s your show, your audience, your choice, your legal fees. My opinion is just an opinion! I will not stand by as a podcaster and podcast host business owner to allow the same thing that has happened to the rest of the web happen to my and our podcast audiences. It’s your choice.”

Brian Bates took issue with both Cochrane and Walsh, claiming they were feeding into conspiracy theories. “You make it sound like when you access a podcast a bell goes off and your name, address and phone number are registered into a database. Sorry, fear mongerer, it doesn’t work that way. In reality, what you should be pushing (but you don’t because YOU can’t monetize it) is that user’s should educate themselves and take online privacy/anonymity more seriously by THEIR OWN actions and not rely on the actions of 3rd parties. Everyone throws around “they are violating your privacy” and “you didn’t agree to be monetized.” But honestly, that barn door was opened a long time ago. I’ve yet to see the article about this topic that truly makes me believe anything I consider ‘private’ has been lost. The irony this is being preached to a bunch of people who willingly sharing far more identifying and ‘private’ information via their Facebook pages is certainly not lost on me.”

Jeremy Mack agreed with Bates. “The reality is the exact same data is pulled any time you visit any website. So whether your browser is downloading a jpg, html file or an mp3 that server you’re making the request from is logging everything. Ip, user agent, location, etc etc etc. Brian is completely right. Don’t listen to these guys. Just another way to literally scare up business.

Follow the thread HERE.