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Legal complaint claims Bose has been tracking and selling customer data without permission

It looks like Bose has found itself in some legal trouble following accusations that the company used an app to track and collect information on customers without permission. Using an app, Bose is said to have tracked the listening habits of its wireless headphone customers and then sold that data on to third-parties for profit. The case bares resemblance to an FTC case against TV maker Vizio recently, which found the company sold customer data without permission as well.

The complaint was filed by Kyle Zak this week at a Chicago federal court and may eventually escalate the lawsuit to class-action status. According to the complaint, the companion Bose Connect app violates the US Wiretap Act by “secretly collecting, transmitting and disclosing its customers” listening habits to third party companies.

Speaking with Reuters about the case, lawyer Christopher Dore said that “people should be uncomfortable” with this. He also added: “People put headphones on their head because they think it’s private, but they can be giving out information they don’t want to share.”

Zak claims that he had purchased a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones for around $350 and went on to download the companion app on his phone. He later learned that “all available media information” had been sent from his smartphone to third parties, including a company known as ‘Segment.io’, which seems to proudly come up with ways for companies to farm customer data and spread it around.

Right now, the lawsuit aims to get several million dollars out of Bose for the privacy invasion. However, if class-action status is reached, this will be spread out among buyers of all different Bose wireless headphones.

KitGuru Says: Given that the FTC just took aim at Vizio for similar data collection habits, I’d be surprised if Bose gets out of this unscathed. How do you guys feel about companies collecting and selling your data? Do you see it as an invasion of privacy at all?

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  • Rocky40

    Step 1 do not install app on phone Step 2 Do not install App on phone Step 3 Do not install App on phone. First red alert app has to be installed on a phone for headphones to work to their fullest. But I guess if it is such a big issue I guess you could block the app from talking to the internet through the security settings. Here is the kicker about 95% of everything on a persons phone does pretty much the same thing including the OS that is installed on the phone by the manufacture. I am sorry but there is no way to be completely private anymore unless you take yourself completely off of the grid. This case will not go to far I would hope all Bose has to do is play stupid and say the software was made by a third party company for them and they have no control over that but will make sure to have control going forward by making tighter security guidelines at this point the judge will dismiss the case end of story.

  • Lelisevis

    Kitguru is my favourite tech website by far but I miss out on all the competitions because I refuse to join Facebook and that’s the only reason I’d have a Facebook account and even worse is that new Gleam.io thing. I don’t trust either with my personal data and I don’t trust either not to sell or share it on, especially that Gleam thing, I visited its website and it looks dubious as hell. It’s not enough to keep me away but it is disappointing.

  • Lucas

    Well, as annoyed as I am by this as a QC35 user, I guess I’ll just delete the app.

  • Thanks for sharing your concern, I’ll be sure to pass it on. Just for the future though, if you do have concerns, there is a ‘contact us’ link at the bottom of the page, you are more likely to get this sort of feedback seen by the right people using that, rather than posting it as an off-topic comment on an article with no giveaway attached.

    As always, we appreciate the support! Thanks for passing on the feedback.

  • Lelisevis

    Sorry Matthew, it was more an aside on personal data and mistrust of facebook and Gleam rather than anything Kitguru does, I fully understand that you have to protect yourself against bots and fraudulent entries and that you have to comply with the rules of the prize giver. Please delete my comment, I didn’t mean to cause any offence.

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