A lawsuit filed on Tuesday with the U.S. District Court in Illinois’ Northern District alleges that Bose premium-branded wireless headphones, exclusively in conjunction with the company’s companion app for iOS and Android, have been secretly collecting listeners’ data and then selling that information to third-party sources without their permission.
In Zak vs. Bose Corp., which was filed by Kyle Zak, an injunction is being sought to stop Bose’s “wholesale disregard” for its customers’ privacy, as well as class-action status from the myriad of users who’ve downloaded Bose’s free Bose Connect app to their smartphones via the Apple or Google Play App Stores.
“People should be uncomfortable with it,” said Christopher Dore, one of the lawyers representing Zak, in an interview with Reuters. “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 says he paid $350 for Bose’s QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones, and decided to take the Framingham, Massachusetts-based company’s suggestion to “get the most out of your headphones” by downloading the Bose Connect app, providing his name, email address, and serial number to get up and running.
Meanwhile, Zak later came to find, Bose had been sending “all available media information” to third-party data collection entities, including segment.io — a website that essentially promises to collect as much customer data as it can and “send it anywhere.”
“Audio choices offer an incredible amount of insight into customers’ personalities, behavior, politics and religious views,” the complaint said, citing as an example “that a person who listens to Muslim prayers might very likely be a Muslim.”
The complaint goes on to allege that the defendant’s conduct “demonstrates a wholesale disregard for consumer privacy rights.”
In addition to halting the collection of data, which he alleges is in violation of the federal Wiretap Act and Illinois state laws barring eavesdropping and consumer fraud, Zak is seeking “millions of dollars in damages” for buyers of Bose-branded headphones and speakers, including QuietComfort 35, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, SoundLink Color II, SoundSport Wireless, and SoundSport Pulse Wireless.
It’s worth noting that this case appears to focus primarily on the controversial nature of the Bose Connect app for iOS and Android and not the headphones themselves. Therefore, if you’re a Bose headphones owner who hasn’t followed the steps to sync them with the app, it’s unlikely that Bose is able to collect information from you and you should be able to continue enjoying them without worry.