Bose Headphones Are Spying On Listeners

According to a complaint filed in federal court in Chicago, Bose Corp, a giant player in the audio industry turning over an estimated 3.5 billion dollars annually, has been using an app to spy on its customers and collecting personal data without their consent. The app tracks the music, podcasts, and other audio that is listened to, blatantly violating their the user’s privacy rights. Adding insult to injury, Bose Corp is selling the information they collect from their users to make further profits.

Now, a shocked, and understandably upset customer by the name of Kyle Zak, is taking Bose Corp to court over these privacy violations. Zak filed for an injunction in federal court in Chicago, to stop Bose’s “wholesale disregard” towards the privacy of customers who download their free Bose Connect app from the Apple Inc or Google Play stores.

Christopher Dore, a lawyer representing Zak, expressed in an interview, that “people should be uncomfortable with it”. People put headphones on their head because they think its private, but they can be giving out information they don’t want to share.”

As consumers, this issue is a growing concern. Companies don’t have the right to use us and our information as commodities to make more profits. If our information and details are that important or valuable, we should be compensated for it accordingly. Companies want to have their cake and be able to eat it too. They want us to give them our hard earned money in return for their products or services, but they also want to make money from us right under our noses, thinking we won’t notice?! Well, we notice, and we aren’t happy about it.

This is more than just a court case. This represents the voice of people who are fed up with companies overstepping on our privacy and our rights. When requests were made to Bose Corp on Wednesday for comment, the multi-billion dollar company refused to comment on the proposed class action case.

This lawsuit is the latest to accuse companies of trying to illegally and unethically boost their profits by sneakily gathering customer information, and then either selling it on to other companies who are willing to pay for this information, or to use it themselves to solicit further business.

The particular headset that Zak purchased from Bose, were the QuietComfort 35 headphones. These headphones come with a price tag of $350. Bose suggested that Zak “get the most out of your headphones” by downloading its app, and providing his personal details, such as his name, email address, and headphone serial number.

Zak said he was surprised to learn that Bose sends “all available media information” from his smartphone, to third parties such as Segment.io, whose website promises to collect customer data and “send it anywhere.”

Zak is seeking millions of dollars in damages for buyers of Bose headphones and speakers. These models include, but are not limited to the following:

  • QuietComfort 35
  • QuietControl 30
  • SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II
  • SoundLink Color II
  • SoundSport Wireless and SoundSport Pulse Wireless

He also wants a halt to the data collection, which he said violates the federal Wiretap Act and Illinois laws against eavesdropping and consumer fraud.

Dore, a partner at Edelson PC, said customers do not see the Bose app’s user service and privacy agreements when signing up. Additionally, he adds that the privacy agreement says nothing about data collection.

Edelson specializes in suing technology companies over alleged privacy violations. This case is Zak v Bose Corp, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, No. 17-02928.

There have been a numerous data-mining lawsuits of late as more and more companies have access to intimate user data through websites, apps, and Bluetooth-enabled devices — sometimes referred to as the Internet of Things.

In January, the Mississippi Attorney General sued Google over “unclear” policies regarding collecting the personal information and search histories of students. Even sex toy companies have been hit with lawsuits over user privacy: Edelson also sued adult product manufacturer Standard Innovation in 2016 over allegations that the company’s We-Vibe app collected especially sensitive user data.

“Data collection is a relative black hole at this point,” Dore said. “Once you lose control of it, it can go to ten more companies and you won’t know.”

Sources:

[1] Reuters [2] NBC