Are Your Bose Headphones Spying on You?

Apr 20, 2017

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We already know that almost everything we do is being collected about our digital habits — from our smartphones to our laptops and smart TVs. But did you think that something as innocuous as your headphones could also be capable of spying on you and collecting data?

According to a lawsuit filed yesterday in a federal court in Chicago, Bose has been spying on its wireless headphone customers. Kyle Zak, who filed the lawsuit, claims the company uses the Bose Connect app to track wireless customers’ music, podcasts and other audio habits, then sells the information gathered — without permission — therefore violating the user’s privacy rights.

According to the complaint, the “defendants’ conduct demonstrates a wholesale disregard for consumer privacy rights,” and what is being listened to, as well as the information gathered and distributed, could be used to identify the user’s personality traits, behaviors, and what they think about politics and religion. According to Zak, Bose sent “all available media information” and other data about listening trends from his smartphone to third parties such as Segment.io, which can the collected data anywhere.

TPG is actually a huge fan of Bose’s QC35 headphones — an item he says he can’t leave home without. Even after hearing about this, TPG says he’ll continue to use them — as long as they don’t judge his taste in music.

Zak, meanwhile, is seeking “millions of dollars of damages for buyers of headphones and speakers,” according to Reuters. The devices he’s seeking compensation for include QuietComfort 35 (TPG’s headphones of choice), QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, SoundLink Color II, SoundSport Wireless and SoundSport Pulse Wireless. In addition to the monetary damages, he’s also hoping to halt the data collection, which he says violates the federal Wiretap Act and Illinois laws that protect citizens from eavesdropping and consumer fraud.

Note that these claims do not include the spying and release of data when it comes to phone calls, so your conversations are apparently protected. However, Zak’s claims are sure to turn off some wireless customers from using their devices. Bose has not yet responded or offered comments about the lawsuit.

Featured image courtesy of Bose.

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