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Bose Sued Over Spying Headphones

A lawsuit has been filed against Bose for collecting listening data without consent.

Bose is under fire from a class action lawsuit filed this Tuesday in Illinois. The lawsuit claims that the high-end audio equipment maker collects information on what their customers are listening to and sells that information to third parties without permission. The main plaintiff in the lawsuit is Kyle Zak, who bought a $350 pair of headphones last month. He registered the headphones with name and email address, as well as the serial number of the headphones. He then proceeded to download the Bose Connect app, which adds functionality to the headphones, allowing the user to set e.g. the amount of active noise cancelling being used.

However, as the lawsuit states, Bose’s app was collecting information which it shouldn’t have been: “Defendant programmed its Bose Connect app to continuously record the contents of the electronic communications that users send to their Bose Wireless Products from their smartphones, including the names of the music and audio tracks they select to play along with the corresponding artist and album information, together with the Bose Wireless Product’s serial numbers (collectively, “Media Information”).”

When combined with his name and email, the data collection suddenly becomes personally identifiable information, and Zak and the other plaintiffs argue that listening data can be very personal. If you listen to podcasts for example, they can shed light on your political preferences, interests, or health; information Bose isn’t privy to. In addition, the lawsuit claims that Bose wasn’t merely collecting this data, but selling it to a data mining company called Segment.io.

“Customers were not getting notice or giving consent to have this type of data leave their phone to go to Bose, or to third-parties,” said Christopher Dore, a lawyer at Edelson, the firm that represents Zak. He adds that once Bose sold the data to Segment.io, knowing where or to whom that data went afterwards is impossible to tell.

Bose’s Quiet Comfort 35 headphones are among the ones accused of being able to collect your data.

The headphones are part of a growing number of consumer electronics with internet connectivity that could send usage data to third parties. Television maker Visio recently settled a similar lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission in February after being accused of selling viewing data from their customers.

“It’s increasingly important for companies to be upfront and honest about the data use policies”, said John Verdi, vice president of policy at the Future of Privacy Forum. “This is a sign of the friction that is increasingly common when devices, like headphones, that were not previously connected or data-driven become increasingly data-driven.”

source: Washington Post

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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