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Lawsuit accuses Bose of using its Connect app for data mining

By Cal Jeffrey · 7 replies
Apr 19, 2017
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  1. A lawsuit was filed on Tuesday alleging that Bose violated the WireTap Act and several other privacy laws. According to Fortune, the lawsuit is accusing the audio maker of collecting data from headphone users without their knowledge or consent. The filing insists that much can be learned about a person, including their lifestyle and political leanings, by analyzing his or her listening habits.

    The plaintiff, Kyle Zak claims that Bose is doing this through the use of its Bose Connect app. While headphone users are not required to use the app, it is recommended because it provides added features such as the ability to use and switch between more than one paired device. Since the app sits between the headphones and the audio source, it has access to any data streamed through it including titles, tracks, and artists.

    At first, this may seem like relatively trivial data. After all, who cares if Bose knows my favorite song is Led Zeppelin's Kashmir? However, music is not the only thing listened to through headphones. The picture becomes more intrusive when you consider that audiobooks, podcasts, talk radio, and other listening material, when viewed together, can give a pretty clear picture of the person being spied on, including their sexual orientation, religion, and political affiliations.

    “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.”

    The Connect app also collects users’ names, phone numbers, and email addresses during registration. The lawsuit claims that Bose put together user profiles with detailed listening histories which it then sold to marketing firms. According to the Verge, the data that the Connect app collects is sent to a company called Segment.io, which is a data handling business. It receives the data and sends it to third-party marketing companies.

    The lawsuit is asking for $5 million, but there is no breakdown of the damages. Both Fortune and the Verge sought comment from Bose via email but neither has heard back from a representative.

    Attorney Jay Edelson, who is representing Kyle Zak in the class action suit, is also seeking an injunction to stop data collection until the dispute is resolved.

    “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," said Edelson.

    The specific headphone models listed in the filing are the QuietComfort 35, SoundSport Wireless, Sound Sport Pulse Wireless, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, and SoundLink Color II. As with all class action lawsuits, users of these devices may be entitled to compensation. However, the Verge reports that the suit has not been approved yet and evidence that Bose has shared data with Segment is still forthcoming.

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  2. Docus

    Docus TS Member Posts: 19   +10

    Hmm.. with noise cancelling headphones, wouldn't they also potentially be listening to the background to sample white noise to filter out?
     
    gusticles41, Reehahs and Cal Jeffrey like this.
  3. Cal Jeffrey

    Cal Jeffrey TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 537   +154

    Nothing suggests that they are listening to anything; just grabbing data from the stream, but who knows? It seems technically feasible. The only problem would be the actual processing of audible data. Voice recognition and verbal interpretation are improving daily, but still, it seems like this would take a lot more time and effort than just grabbing your listening history.
     
  4. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,919   +1,115

    Seeing as any pair of headphones can be turned into a microphone (headphones and microphones are pretty similar), it isn't just the noise cancelling models you have to worry about.
     
  5. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,270

    "who cares if Bose knows my favorite song is Led Zeppelin's Kashmir?"
    Me! That's who. Their Stairway to Heaven and Black Dog is far better. ;)
     
    Cal Jeffrey likes this.
  6. Cal Jeffrey

    Cal Jeffrey TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 537   +154

    "My favorite song is Stairway to Heaven" while true has become a cliché. Whole lotta love would have been my second choice, but I decided to go with a single word title because ultimately the point was the prose and not my opinion. :)
     
  7. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,270

    I just threw Stairway to Heaven in there because it's the title most will recognise even if they'd never heard of Led Zeppelin. True, Whole lotta love is a great song. (y)
     
    Cal Jeffrey likes this.
  8. MadKnight

    MadKnight TS Rookie

    Few more posts like this and I'm gonna start staring at my water bottle thinking "are you watching me too?"
    If bose is really data mining and selling what they gather, couldn't they increase their product prices a bit and forgo damned creepy activities? >_<
     

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