Kyle Zak sued Bose, the maker of a popular line of audio players and headphones, in federal court in Chicago on Tuesday. He alleges Bose secretly collects and records all the music and audio files (including radio broadcasts, podcasts, and lectures) its customers play through their Bose wireless headphones. Zak also claims that the Framingham, Mass; company violates privacy rights by selling users’ information without permission.
Zak bought a US$350 pair of wireless Bose headphones in March and then registered them online using his name and address.
He also downloaded Bose Connect, an app that allows customers to pair their headphones to their smartphones using a Bluetooth connection. The app can also remotely share music between devices as well as adjust playlists and noise cancellation settings.
He also said that he did not give his permission to Bose to collect his listening habits, nor did he ever provide his consent to Bose to disclose that data to anyone else.
However, in a statement, Bose says it will fight a lawsuit claiming its app collects user data and shares it with third parties without their permission.
Bose calls the allegations “inflammatory” and “misleading,” denying the allegations against their Connect app collects and shares information on users’ music and audio choices.
“We don’t wiretap your communications, we don’t sell your information, and we don’t use anything we collect to identify you – or anyone else – by name,” additional Bose’s statement on Thursday.
A Bose representative said nothing is more important to the company than the trust of its customers.
In connection with the lawsuit filed against Bose, Carmi Levy, a CTV technology analyst says wireless headphones are just the latest everyday device that can now connect to the Internet and pass information from users to companies.
“Data is today’s online currency. Companies will share it and sell it to gain competitive advantages. We are simply pawns in this very large chess game,” Levy said.
Ontario’s former privacy commissioner and now the director of the Privacy and Big Data Institute at Ryerson University, Ann Cavoukian says corporations should not be able to learn about what we watch and listen to without our permission.
She said that there is no reason for consumers to stop using Bose headsets; people can avoid using the app.