Culture April 20, 2017
You may want to look over that Bose user agreement.
Well, if you use Bose wireless headphones – they just may be.
At least that’s what Kyle Zak claims in a complaint filed in federal court in Chicago. He alleges that Bose Corps spies on its customers via an app that tracks the music, podcasts and all other audio that they’re listening to. Bose then sells that information without the customers’ permission, Zak’s suit claims.
The app in question is the free Bose Connect app, and Zak is seeking an injunction to stop Bose’s “wholesale disregard” of their customers’ privacy. “People put headphones on their heads because they think it’s private, but they can be giving out information they don’t want to share,” says his lawyer, Christopher More.
The headphones are not cheap, coming in at $350. And at first Zak didn’t think much of it when he registered the expensive tech, inputting his name, email address and serial number. But he was dismayed to discover “all available media information” from his smartphone was being sent to third parties like Segment.io, which vaguely discussed taking customer data and sending it “anywhere.” Creepy. It’s almost like we should actually read those long user agreements instead of swiping past them…
Of course, according to Zak’s lawyer, that wouldn’t have even helped in this case. He says Bose doesn’t show the user agreement when signing up. So you’re not even made aware of the privacy infringement and data collection.
Zak argued that audio choices offered an “incredible amount of insight” into customer personalities, behavior, politics and religious views. For example, a person who listens to Muslim prayers might “very likely” be a Muslim… or someone who watches, say, seven hours of “The Office” might be, well… don’t answer that.
Point is, you can learn a lot about a person, and the whole “without their consent” part isn’t cool. He’s seeking millions of dollars of damages for buyers of headphones and speakers, as well as a halt to data collection. He says it violates the federal Wiretap Act and Illinois Laws against eavesdropping and consumer fraud.
Until then, maybe check into those user agreements for your headphones and speakers systems – and hell, check your kids’ toys while you’re at it – because chances are, they’re spying on you. Technology, am I right?
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