Listener privacy statement

Introduction

This page sets out the approach to privacy and listener data taken by the podcast hosting company Podiant (we/us). It covers podcasts whose audio content and RSS feed is hosted by Podiant, and is intended to give listeners (you) a clear idea of what data is collected, and how that data is used. You can view Podiant’s wider privacy statement, which affects this website and our customers, at podiant.co/privacy .

Podcasts hosted by Podiant

This phrase means that the podcast creator has used Podiant as their audio hosting, content management, and analytics platform. The podcast’s episodes might be playable in a web browser, or via a podcast listening app like Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

What this statement covers

This statement only covers data collected by Podiant. It doesn’t cover data collected by third-party apps that use content we host, such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, etc. If you’re concerned about their use of your data, you can read their respective privacy policies (you can usually find them on their website, in-app, or via your device’s app store).

The short version

We don’t collect info on you that can track your behaviour. Ever. All our effort goes into telling one listener from another, so that we can better gauge how many people are downloading an episode.

Data collected by Podiant

When you download an episode, we see and use the following information:

  • A user-agent string, which is a piece of text that identifies the software you’re listening on. It might be your web browser or the listening app you’re using. Every piece of software provides some form of user-agent, but it isn’t unique to your device, so can’t be used to track you.
  • Part of your IP address, which is a string of numbers and dots that identifies your connection to the Internet. It’s often used to get a vague idea of your location (ie: your country and city). Our content delivery network (CDN) provides us a part of your IP address, but not your full address, so we can never identify you or your connection to the Internet. Our CDN doesn’t retain your full IP address either. When we have your anonymised IP address, we bundle that in with your user-agent, do some complex math on it, and discard the IP address, so it’s never stored in any database, and only used to guess that your connection is different from someone else’s.
  • A referral address: when you play an episode via the Podiant web player, we can sometimes see either the web address you were directed from, or the webpage into which the player is embedded. This is used so that we can give our content creators an idea of how listeners are sharing episode links.
  • The name of the audio file you downloaded, how much of it you downloaded and when (or whether you downloaded one bit now, and a little bit later on).

A quick note on your IP address

IP addresses aren’t accurate measurements of your location. They’re not tied to a latitude and longitude address, only your ISP. Our CDN uses a service that tries to infer your city and country name from your IP address, but it’s never accurate enough to know exactly where you are. In some cases, a single IP address might be shared among hundreds or thousands of people in the same space (like a university campus). We take the second step of hashing (the complex math part) your IP address out of an abundance of caution, because we really don’t want to track you!

Streaming vs downloading

In simple terms, there is no such thing as podcast streaming. You can start playing a podcast episode without downloading the whole file, which is called progressive downloading. Sometimes we show that to our podcasters as slightly different behaviour — so that they can identify those that subscribe to the podcast in an app from those that listen on the website — but in practise, there’s really no difference.

Cookies

Our web player (the player that you’ll find on Podiant-hosted websites, and elsewhere on the Web), currently uses a cookie with a randomly-generated string of numbers and letters, that’s unique to your browser and to the podcast whose episode you’re playing. This ID is anonymous, and carries absolutely no tracking information, and is used only to identify you as a unique listener from another. Sometimes browsers don’t allow us to store this cookie (such as in Private Browsing mode, or when a website handles embedded content with air-tight security), in which case we just assign a random ID to that session, which is discarded by your browser as soon as you close the tab.

We’ll be phasing out the use of cookies on our web player in the future.

Data shared by Podiant

We sometimes share aggregate numbers (like on our homepage), to show how many listeners creators have had across the network over a given period of time. However, all analytics data is kept in separate databases (effectively a different, separate, non-sequential bucket for each podcast). Even in the case of podcast networks, data is still stored separately for each podcast, and then combined when we show it to the network manager.

This preserves our creators’ privacy. If we share the number of listeners to a specific podcast, we only do so with the express permission of that creator, and those numbers are only ever provided in aggregate.

We have never, and don’t ever intend to share or sell listener data to third-parties (unless we’ve sought and gained permission from the podcaster(s) involved). The data we gather is provided primarily for podcasters’ benefit, and is occasionally used by us — again, in aggregate — for marketing purposes.

Changes to this statement

We’re always working to improve our approach to analytics, to give more accurate data to our podcasters. The type of data we collect might change from time to time, but the intention always remains the same: to preserve listener and creator privacy.