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Canada man accuses Bose headphones for spying on users

20 April 2017

The plaintiff also claims that Bose Connect is programmed 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".

The lawsuit is seeking an injunction to stop Bose from continuing to collect and share user data, as well as actual, statutory, and punitive damages.

According to the complaint [PDF] filed yesterday in a federal court in IL, when owners of Bose wireless headsets use the Bose Connect app on their smartphones, it collects the information about the songs you listen to and allegedly transmits this data - along with other identifying information - to third parties.

The complaint filed on Tuesday by Kyle Zak accuses Bose of violating the WireTap Act and other privacy laws.

Zak said he was surprised to learn that Bose had sent "all available media information" from his smartphone to third parties.

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The complaint acknowledges that customer data can be valuable to Bose, but selling it to third parties represents a "wholesale disregard for consumer privacy rights" and violates several laws including the federal Wiretap Act and several IL state privacy laws.

"This case shows the new world we are all living in", says Jay Edelson of Edelson PC, the firm representing the plaintiffs in this potential class action.

The lawsuit also claims that Bose has transmitted such data to a third-party company called Segment.io, LLC, based in San Francisco, and specialized in data mining for advertising companies. The lawsuit does not specify the exact amount of damages Zak and his lawyer are seeking but it states "the amount in controversy exceeds $5,000,000".

Zak said that he paid $350 for his QuietConnect 35 headphones by Bose and was asked to download the company's free app in order to get the most out of his headphones.

Zak argues Bose broke privacy laws because the data the company collected can be used to infer "an incredible amount of insight into his or her personality, behavior, political views, and personal identity". "And that's just a small sampling of what can be learned from one's music preferences". 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. Dore said Bose is the first headphone company Edelson has found to collect such data. Zak now wants to stop the data collection by Bose Corp, which he says violates the United States federal Wiretap Act and IL laws against eavesdropping and consumer fraud.

Canada man accuses Bose headphones for spying on users