Consumers Say Bose Headphones Spy on Listeners

CHICAGO (CN) – A class claims in federal court that headphone and speaker giant Bose Corporation has been spying on its customers’ listening preferences through its mobile app Bose Connect.

The company encourages its customers to download the app to use in connection with its wireless headphones and speakers, and some functions of the products can only be accessed through the app, according to a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in Chicago federal court.

Lead plaintiff Kyle Zak says he also registered his $350 Bose headphones with his personal information.

Little did he know, he says, Bose was secretly logging everything he listened to on his headphones when they were connected to his smartphone via the app.

“Defendant programmed its Bose Connect app to continuously record the contents of the electronic communications that users send to their Bose Wireless Products from their smartphones…together with the Bose Wireless Product’s serial numbers,” the complaint states.

Bose then allegedly sends its customers’ private information and listening data to a third party data-mining company, Segment.io Inc., which is not a party to the lawsuit.

Although such information could prove valuable to Bose, its “conduct demonstrates a wholesale disregard for consumer privacy rights and violates numerous state and federal laws,” the proposed class claims.

“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 states. “None of defendant’s customers could have ever anticipated that these types of music and audio selections would be recorded and sent to, of all people, a third party data miner for analysis.”

Zak, represented by Benjamin S. Thomassen of Edelson PC, says Bose is violating the Federal Wiretap Act and the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, and asks the court to order the company to stop its data collection and destroy what it already has.

Bose did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment from Courthouse News.

“This case shows the new world we are all living in. Consumers went to buy headphones and were transformed into profit centers for data miners,” Jay Edelson, founder and CEO of the firm that filed the lawsuit, said in a press release.

Edelson added, “What we hope to demonstrate through this suit is that multibillion-dollar companies are not allowed to grab whatever private data they want from their customers simply because they can make a buck off of doing so. Instead, companies need to be transparent about the data they take and what they are doing with it, and get consent from their customers before monetizing their personal information.”

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