Bose Accused of Spying on Listening Habits
A proposed class action lawsuit accuses Bose of selling personal data about customers who use its wireless headphones. But the claims are unconfirmed and the argument may be somewhat overstated.
Customer Kyle Zak made the complaint about Bose Connect, an app for iPhones and Android devices. The app isn't mandatory to use, but is designed to make it easier to switch between different headsets and speakers on a Bluetooth connection without needing to repeatedly pair and unpair the devices.
Podcast Choices Could Be Revealing
According to the lawsuit, Bose uses the app to collect details of all the songs and podcasts that the user listens to, then passes it on to marketing companies - along with the name and email address the user provided when the product was registered. The lawsuit argues that the list of podcasts could reveal information that might be very personal, and that listeners might not want advertisers to know.
It says: "... for example, 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 lawsuit even cites a study claiming that the music that somebody listens to can reveal or indicate "explicit characteristics such as age, personality, and values, and can likely even be used to identify people with autism spectrum conditions." (Source: scribd.com)
Customers Allegedly Kept in Dark
Whether that's really the case isn't the key legal point at stake here. What really matters is whether or not customers gave informed consent to their information being shared in this way.
The lawsuit argues that both the collection and sharing of the data is done without the customer's knowledge. Zak's lawyer says there's no mention of it in any of the relevant privacy or service agreements. The lawsuit says Bose therefore violated federal wiretap, state eavesdropping and fraud laws.
There's no actual evidence provided in the lawsuit to prove that Bose is indeed collecting the data; instead it's simply stated as fact.
Bose has yet to make any public response at the time of writing. (Source: fortune.com)
What's Your Opinion?
If the claims are true, should Bose be legally required to get permission before collecting and sharing such data? Do you buy the argument that listening habits could be useful tools for advertisers in a way that customers wouldn't want? Do you ever read privacy or service agreements before using a tech product?
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