A class-action lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, accusing high-end headphone and audio company, Bose of tracking and distributing customers’ data without telling them. The lawsuit claims that the company’s Bose Connect app – which connects their wireless headphones to music devices – also collects the user’s listening history and sends it to third-party data mining companies.
The lawsuit claims that having access to a user’s music and podcast history can reveal personal and identifying information. The suit notes that information such as sexual orientation or health concerns or even religion could be identified with this information. The suit claims that if a listener listens to a Muslim service, then it is likely the listener could be identified as Muslim.
Plaintiff Kyle Zak is being represented by Attorney Chris Dore and the Edelson PC firm. Zak claims that upon buying his pair of $350 he was never informed of Bose’s data mining. For Dore, one of the main issues with the situation is that the user is unaware of the true repercussions of data mining.
“One of the issues raised by this lawsuit is that it’s not clear what’s happening,” said Dore. “The danger with undisclosed and unexplained data collection is, the world is open to these companies to do what they want.”
The last thing most people would think about when listening to music or a podcast through their headphones is that someone is monitoring it. Although, it is 2017 and people are well aware that their cell phones, TV’s, video game systems and even Alexa might be spying on them but usually never headphones. I guess they will just have to be added to the list.
“Some devices are more obvious than others about data collection, but your headphone is not an obvious concern,” policeDore said. “You’re sitting in your house listening to a podcast about politics or religion, and you don’t think that information is going to leave your headphones and go to a third party.”
Bose does have a PR policy for the Bose Connect App but the users are not required to view or agree to it. “The user does not interact with it in any way when signing up for the app. It also doesn’t disclose this data collection,” Dore said.
The lawsuit also accuses Bose of breaking other federal and state laws including the Federal Wiretap Act, the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute, and consumer fraud and invasion of privacy laws. Zak and Dore are seeking damages that will likely exceed $5 million and also want Bose to delete all of the user data it has collected.