Bose headphones are spying on users, lawsuit alleges
A lawsuit filed against American high-end electronics maker Bose Corp. alleges that the company is spying on its users via an app that tracks the music, podcasts and other audio they listen to.
According to the filing lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, plaintiff Kyle Zak alleges that Bose’s app violates the Wiretap Act and a variety of state privacy laws given that it makes its Bose Connect application mandatory for all users to “fully operate its wireless products.” Zak alleges that Bose Connect collects data on all the musical content or audio books that a user listens to on its headphones, a “major invasion of privacy.”
“Indeed, one’s personal audio selections – including music, radio broadcast, Podcast, and lecture choices – provide an incredible amount of insight into his or her personality, behavior, political views, and personal identity,” the complaint notes. He added that a person’s audio history may contain files such as LGBT podcasts or Muslim call-to-prayer recordings that could identify or label them for nefarious purposes.
“People should be uncomfortable with it,” Christopher Dore, a lawyer representing Zak told Reuters. “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.”
Zak, on behalf of Bose users, is seeking “millions of dollars” in damages for buyers of headphones and speakers, including QuietComfort 35, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, SoundLink Color II, SoundSport Wireless and SoundSport Pulse Wireless.
The case does once again raise the issue of privacy in an age of Internet of Things devices. That Bose has a connected app that monitors what users listen to isn’t that surprising, but the question, as suggested by the lawsuit, is whether Bose in doing so violates privacy statutes, at least in the United States.
Although the case addresses Bose specifically, the chilling effect, should the case be upheld and Bose found guilty, will stretch across not only IoT device makers but potentially any Internet provider that tracks what users listen to.
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