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Image of Bose Headphones
Bose Headphones; Image Courtesy of Best Buy, http://www.bestbuy.com/

A class-action lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Chicago against Bose, a high-end headphone company, on claims that it “has been tracking and distributing customers’ data without telling them.” According to the lawsuit, the Bose Connect app has been connecting user’s “listening history with third-party data mining companies.”

The problem with this sort of data mining is that, by analyzing a person’s “music and podcast listening history,” a company can learn a lot of “personal and identifying details” about someone, such as their sexual orientation, health concerns, and other private information.

Another big problem with this is that customers aren’t being properly informed of the data mining tactics. According to Chris Dore, an attorney representing the lawsuit’s main plaintiff, Kyle Zak, “Bose never informed customers about the data mining.” In a statement to NBC News, Dore said, “one of the issues raised by this lawsuit is that it’s not clear what’s happening. The danger with undisclosed and unexplained data collection is, the world is open to these companies to do what they want.”

Image with the word Privacy written in red.
Privacy; Image Courtesy of CipherCloud, https://www.ciphercloud.com

But wait, doesn’t Bose have a privacy policy that customers sign? Well yes, but according to Dore, “users aren’t required to view or agree.” He said, “the user does not interact with it in any way when signing up for the app. It also doesn’t disclose this data collection.” Additionally, Dore explained that “corporate mining of user data can be exploited.” How so? Well, once a “user clicks “agree” on a lengthy, complex form with fine print that says the company can share or sell user data, it’s hard to tell how many times, and with whom, that data will be shared.”

In addition to these claims, the lawsuit is also accusing the headphone company of breaking “a handful of federal and state laws including the Federal Wiretap Act, the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute, and consumer fraud and invasion of privacy laws.” Because of this, Zak and Dore’s firm, Edelson PC, are demanding that the company “destroy all of the user data it has collected so far,” and are seeking damages that will likely “exceed $5 million.

When asked to comment on the matter, Bose did not immediately respond. For now, their website features many “regulatory and compliance documents,” but none relating to the Bose Connect app.

Sources:

Bose Headphones Accused in Lawsuit of Spying on Listeners

Bose headphones spy on listeners: lawsuit

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