Bose Corp has been charged with violation of privacy rights and selling users'
information without permission. According to a lawsuit, the company spied on headphone customers by using an app that tracked the music, podcasts and other audio they listened to.
Kyle Zak, who filed the complaint on Tuesday in a Chicago federal court, sought an injunction to stop the company's "wholesale disregard" for the privacy of customers who downloaded its free Bose Connect app from Apple Inc or Google Play stores to their smartphones.
"People should be uncomfortable with it," Christopher Dore, a lawyer representing Zak, said in an interview. "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."
Bose, which is based in Framingham, Massachusetts, had annual sales in excess of $3.5 billion.
According to Zak who said he paid $350 for his QuietComfort 35 headphones, and downloaded its app to "get the most out of your headphones", as suggested by the company.
He also provided his name, email address and headphone serial number.
However, Zak said he was surprised to learn that Bose sent "all available media information" from his smartphone to third parties such as Segment.io, whose website promised to collect customer data and "send it anywhere."
The complaint had accused Bose of violating the WireTap Act and several state privacy laws, adding that a person's audio history could include a window into a person's life and views.
"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," says the complaint, noting a person's audio history may contain files like LGBT podcasts or Muslim call-to-prayer recordings.
The complaint cites other Bose products including SoundSport Wireless, Sound Sport Pulse Wireless, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, and SoundLink Color II.