While you're using Pandora to find other songs with the same "extensive vamping" and "major key tonality" as that Strokes song you can't stop listening to, Pandora is finding out information about you. The company collects data on age, gender, Zip Code, and profile material from its 80 million registered users, in some cases showing it to advertisers to help them target you better. In fact, in a securities filing for an initial public offering, the company revealed that it had been served a subpoena to turn over information for a federal grand-jury probe into the way smartphone software developers disclose personal data. Pandora isn't the target of the investigation — similar subpoenas have been issued to other publishers that run on the iPhone and Android operating systems. More likely, as a top-grossing app that has successfully incorporated targeted, location-aware ads, Pandora was just at the top of the Fed's list, below Google and Apple, of course. But it's another reminder of why so many companies are delaying going public. Airing your finances out in public isn't always a good look.
Pandora Subpoenaed in Probe of Mobile-App Privacy Policies [Businessweek]