Bose has been accused of secretly listening in on and tracking customers’ listening habits. A lawsuit – first reported on by Fortune — accuses the company of not only collecting customers’ private music and audio selections through Android and iOS apps but also offering the data to third parties such as San Francisco-based data mining company Segment.
What Bose has been accused of
The lawsuit filed by Kyle Zak of Illinois alleges that Bose designed a special app to gather users’ private data, such as the names of the tracks and audio files they listened to. The company, according to the lawsuit, violated the Wiretap Act, the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute and various other laws related to consumer fraud, misleading business practices and invasion of privacy.
The lawsuit also alleges that everything people listen to, from radio programs to podcasts, reveals sensitive information, not just about them but also about their religious and political views, sentiments and emotions. According to the lawsuit, the sound equipment company could create “detailed profiles” after collecting a user’s listening habits and details such as their names and email addresses and then link that information to a product’s serial number.
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For instance, someone who listens to Muslim prayers and services through his headphones or speakers is most likely a Muslim. A person who listens to the “Ashamed, Confused, and in the Closet Podcast” is most likely a homosexual looking for support, the lawsuit says.
Bose’s Connect app, which is offered as an optional app to users who buy the company’s wireless products, such as the QuietComfort 35 headphones, enables users to set up and control various aspects of their listening experiences from their smartphones. Zak stated in his complaint that the Connect app does not give any notification to customers about data collection and sharing during the download and installation process.
Internet of Things and privacy
Zak’s lawyers are demanding damages and injunctive relief to restrain Bose form collecting and distributing data. Jay Edelson, the lawyer who filed the Bose lawsuit, stated that companies should not be allowed to collect and store consumer data simply because they can, according to Fortune.
“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 lawyer said.
If the allegations are found to be true, this will be the latest case in a string of privacy-related issues involving the Internet of Things in which more companies and devices are linked to the web and collect consumer data, notes Fortune.
Just last month, the maker of a “smart sex toy” known as We-Vibe agreed to pay about $3.75 million to settle claims that its app gathered customer information illegally. Vizio also settled a lawsuit with the FTC in February for $2.2 million after facing accusations of analyzing users’ viewing habits without their consent.