Bose headphones spy on listeners: lawsuit

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

Audio-gear manufacturer Bose has been accused of spying on users of its premium wireless headphones - including the very popular - via the company's Connect smartphone app.

Last month, for instance, a "smart sex toy" maker called We-Vibe agreed to pay around $3.75 million to settle claims its app had illegally collected information about how its customers used the product.

The lawsuit alleges that Bose gathered data such as a list of audio files and audio streams the user has listened to, the files he played back multiple times, and which songs the user skipped.

Zak seeks an injunction to stop Bose from collecting any more data.

A class action lawsuit accuses Bose Corp. of breaking a federal wiretapping law by keeping tabs on customers' listening habits without their permission.

When interviewed, a lawyer for Zak said, "People should be uncomfortable with it. People put headphones on their head because they think it's private, but they can be giving out information they don't want to share". It claims that Bose created detailed profiles of users' listening habits and shared them with marketing companies, such as San Francisco-based Segment.

The complaint argues that audio data gathered by the app both offer "an incredible amount of insight" into customers' personal lives and "demonstrates a wholesale disregard for consumer privacy rights".

By designing the Bose Connect app to "contemporaneously and secretly collect" information about what a user is listening to, and then sending that allegedly intercepted information on to a third party, the lawsuit contends that Bose has violated the Federal Wiretap Act. "And that's just a small sampling of what can be learned from one's music preferences".

After paying $350 for his QuietComfort 35 headphones, Zak said he took Bose's suggestion to "get the most out of your headphones" by downloading its app, and providing his name, email address and headphone serial number in the process. When it comes other types of audio tracks, the personality, values, likes, dislikes, and preferences of the listener are more self-evident. The lawsuit specifically mentions products such as QuietComfort 35, SoundSport Wireless, Sound Sport Pulse Wireless, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, and SoundLink Color II, meaning users of these Bose devices could file a claim in the class-action lawsuit if a judge approves it.

Plaintiff also says Bose Corp. violates the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute, which prohibits activity that "ntercepts, records, or transcribes, in a surreptitious manner any private electronic communication to which he or she is not a party unless he or she does so with the consent of all parties to the private electronic communication".

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