Bose Sued For 'Eavesdropping' On Headphone Users

An Illinois resident has sued headphone manufacturer Bose for allegedly disclosing information about the music, radio programs and podcasts that customers listen to.

"Bose fails to notify or warn customers that Bose Connect monitors and collects -- in real-time -- the music and audio tracks played through their Bose Wireless Products," Kyle Zak alleges in a class-action complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. "Nor does Bose disclose that it transmits the collected listening data to third parties."

Zak alleges that in March he purchased Bose wireless headphones and also downloaded the Bose Connect app, which enables him to use his smartphone to select tracks to play through the headphones.

He says that every time he opened the app, Bose collected a host of data, including names of music and audio tracks he played through his headphones, and transmitted that information to the outside company Segment.io.

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Zak also says that Bose asks customers to provide their full names, email addresses, phone numbers and the product's serial number when they register it. Doing so enables Bose "to create detailed profiles about its users and their music listening histories and habits," the lawsuit alleges.

The complaint accuses Bose of violating the federal wiretap law as well as various Illinois laws, including a prohibition on eavesdropping.

"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. "A person that listens to Muslim prayer services through his headphones or speakers is very likely a Muslim, a person that listens to the Ashamed, Confused, And In the Closet Podcast is very likely a homosexual in need of a support system, and a person that listens to The Body’s HIV/AIDS Podcast is very likely an individual that has been diagnosed and is living with HIV or AIDS," the complaint reads. "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."

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