Bose’s conduct violates consumer privacy rights and numerous state and federal laws as well, according to the complaints filed by Kyle Zak before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
“Indeed, one’s personal audio selections – including music, radio broadcast, podcast, and lecture choices – provide an incredible amount of insight into his or her personality, behavior, political views, and personal identity,” Zak said in the document he filed in court. “In fact, numerous scientific studies show that musical preferences reflect explicit characteristics such as age, personality, and values, and can likely even be used to identify people with autism spectrum conditions.”
The Illinois resident said he had purchased a US$350 QuiteComfort 35 headphone from the company but soon found out that Bose was collecting customer information to either sell the data or use it to solicit more business.
Zak alleged that Bose released a mandatory Bose Connect app which users have to install
Bose released a mandatory Bose Connect application that all users must install to “fully operate its wireless products,” he said.
Once downloaded, the Bose Connect app allows customers to pair their Bose Wireless Products to their smartphones using a Bluetooth connection. This enables users to download and install firmware updates to the Bose Wireless Products, manage the connections between the Bose Wireless Products and mobile devices, adjust noise cancellation settings, customize settings, and share music between two Bose Wireless Products.
What Bose didn’t make clear, said Zak, was that the company sent “all available media information” coming from his smartphone and send them out to third parties.
The Bose Connect app continuously records “the contents of the electronic communications that users send to their Bose Wireless Products from their smartphones, including the names of the music and audio tracks they select to play along with the corresponding artist and album information, together with the Bose Wireless Product’s serial numbers,” he said.
Zak argues that the practice invades people privacy because there’s a huge amount of personal information about an individual that could be uncovered through the music, podcast and other listening preferences.
“When it comes other types of audio tracks, the personality, values, likes, dislikes, and preferences of the listener are more self-evident,” he said “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.”
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