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Bose Headphones Spy On Users, Lawsuit Claims: Here's What You Should Know

20 April 2017, 7:47 am EDT By Carl Velasco Tech Times
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Bose is allegedly spying on its customers by collecting information about what they’re listening to. The claim further suggests that Bose sells the information without permission.  ( Bose )

Bose might know what its users are listening to.

That's what a new class-action lawsuit claims, filed Tuesday, April 18, in an Illinois court. Bose, popular maker of headphones, allegedly data mines its users' listening habits and sells them off sans any permission.

Bose Accused Of Spying

Kyle Zak, the plaintiff, bought a pair of Bose wireless headphones for $350 in March. He downloaded the Bose Connect app on his smartphone, an add-on that the company says would only expand the functionality of the headphones by enabling features such as managing connected devices, customizing noise cancellation, and others.

It turns out, however, that the Bose app was executing more tasks under the table, at least according to the lawsuit.

The complaint alleges that via the app, Bose gathered information not covered by the company's privacy policy. The roster of collected information includes the names of audio files users listened to, artist and album information, and serial numbers — all collectively called as "media information."

The Data Bose Allegedly Collected

Together with registration information, the data collected gave Bose potentially identifiable profiles that Zak never permitted to share, according to the complaint. Listening habits can be highly personal, especially if users are listening to podcasts, audiobooks, or other sound files that may signify their political views, health conditions, and other information users would otherwise keep private.

That's not all. In addition to siphoning off personal information from the Connect app, the lawsuit also alleges that Bose was sharing it with a data mining company called Segment.io, as discovered upon research by the law firm representing Zak.

The lawsuit says the "amount in controversy" surpasses $5 million, although it won't give an exact amount its seeking for damages. If the complaint becomes certified as a class-action lawsuit, then it would involve all customers who have purchased Bose's wireless headphones in the past whose personal data may have been collected.

Included in the complaint are a number of Bose's wireless headphones, such as the QuietComfort 35, SoundSport Wireless, Sound Sport Pulse Wireless, and more. While Bose doesn't release sales figures for individual products, the QuietComfort 35 — which Zak had — is reportedly one of the top 10 selling headphones on Amazon.

Data Collection Panic

The lawsuit adds to the string of legal complaints rooted in privacy and data collection, at a time when connected smart devices are increasingly becoming popular. The unrest over data collection may get worse over time, especially in the realm of headphones, an avenue poised to get more advanced in the coming years.

Wireless headphones, in particular, are becoming more popular, analysts said. Wireless headphones sales usurped wired headphones sales in 2016, according to market research firm NPD Group.

Most companies offering headphones have accompanying apps, functioning much like Bose's Connect app, acting as a remote control panel.

Expect to get more coverage as we learn more. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts about Bose's alleged data collection activity, feel free to sound off in the comments section below.

© 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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