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SPY-tunes scandal: Bloke sues Bose after headphones app squeals on his playlist

Oh no, don't let data slurpers know we love Coldplay

headphones

A chap in Chicago is suing headphone maker Bose after discovering how much personal information its app was phoning home to base – this slurped data includes songs listened to, for how long, and when.

The class-action lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the US district court of Illinois by a one Kyle Zak, claims the Bose Connect application, available for iOS and Android, breaks federal wiretap laws, local wiretapping statute and fraud laws, and carries out "intrusion on seclusion," which is also a crime in the state.

Court documents [PDF] state Zak bought himself a pair of $350 (£275) Bose QuietComfort 15 wireless headphones in March, and downloaded the Bose Connect smartphone app that allows the user to control their fancy cans from their mobe.

However, he was shocked to learn that Bose's app collects data on what kind of songs he was listening to, and for how long, along with a personal identifier code. The lawsuit says these records are routed to a data mining firm called Segment.io which advertises that it can "collect all of your customer data and send it anywhere." Zak isn't sure what happens to the gobbled-up information, although argues it is "valuable" to Bose.

"Plaintiff Zak never provided his consent to Bose to monitor, collect, and transmit his Media Information. Nor did Plaintiff ever provide his consent to Bose to disclose his Media Information to any third party, let alone data miner Segment.io," the lawsuit reads.

"Plaintiff Zak would never have purchased his Bose Wireless Product had he known that Defendant would use Bose Connect (which was necessary to access the product's full array of functions and features) to collect, transmit, and disclose his Media Information."

The lawsuit claims that the type of music or podcasts a person listens to can be highly revealing and would tell data miners more information than one might like. Sadly Mr Zak's musical tastes aren't detailed, but we can bet there are some stinkers in there.

To compensate him for his worries, Zak is demanding at least $5m in damages, wants a banning order preventing Bose trampling people's privacy, and wants other folks to join his lawsuit. But he and his lawyers may have overlooked something important.

Here at Vulture West we downloaded the Bose Connect app and while it's certainly very grabby on data – you need to have both GPS and Bluetooth turned on to use it, it claims – there's a section in the software detailing Bose's privacy policy that clearly states that the app collects data and sends it to third parties. It's not nice, not nice at all, but you can't say you're not warned.

As is usual with such policies, simply downloading and running the app is taken as a sign-off on these policies. It also says that it shares anonymized data with third parties, in a section headed: "How we share information with Third Parties."

Under the circumstances Zak may struggle to get his requested multi-million dollar payday. Bose had no comment on the case at the time of going to press. ®


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