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Friday, 21 April 2017 09:06

Illinois resident sues Bose over alleged wiretapping Featured

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A resident of the US state of Illinois has accused audio equipment maker Bose of wiretapping him via headphones that he bought last month.

Kyle Zak filed a case (link from Ars Technica) in the federal court in Chicago, that is a proposed class action, seeking a jury trial against Bose for "secretly collecting, transmitting and disclosing its customers' private music and audio selections to third parties, including a data mining company". The company was claimed to be Segment.io.

Zak said he had bought a set of Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless Bluetooth headphones. He alleged that unknown to customers, a Bose Connect app had been designed to collect and record the titles of the music and audio files that users of its wireless products played.

Additionally, he claimed, Bose was transmitting this data, including personal identifiers, to third parties, including a data miner, without the user's consent or knowledge.

In his court filing, Zak said an individual's personal audio selections provided "an incredible amount of insight into his or her personality, behaviour, political views, and personal identity".

"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," the suit said.

Zak said that it in 2016, Bose had introduced a new feature for some products that allowed customers to remotely control certain Bose headphones and speakers from their smartphones.

Customers could download the proprietary Bose Connect app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store and install it on their smartphones. It could be paired with Bose wireless products to access essential product functionality.

While customers had to download and install Bose Connect to take advantage of its wireless products' features, "Yet, Bose fails to notify or warn customers that Bose Connect monitors and collects — in real time — the music and audio tracks played through their Bose Wireless Products. Nor does Bose disclose that it transmits the collected listening data to third parties", the lawsuit claims.

It said Bose solicited registration information and collected that along with the product’s serial number. "And by collecting the Bose Wireless Products’ serial numbers along with Media Information, Bose is able to link the Media Information to any individual that has registered or will register their products, thus enabling Bose to create detailed profiles about its users and their music listening histories and habits," the suit alleged.

It said Bose had violated the Wiretap Act, the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute, and the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, and that these actions constituted an "Intrusion Upon Seclusion and Unjust Enrichment".

Zak said he was bringing the suit both individually and on behalf of all those who had been similarly affected. He asked the court for an injunction prohibiting Bose from indulging in the alleged behaviour, damages for invasion of privacy, and damages for purchase of the Bose products in question.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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