Bose Wireless Headphones Spy on Listeners, Lawsuit Alleges

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Bose has been hit by a lawsuit that accuses the company of spying on its wireless headphone customers through its Bose Connect mobile app and violating consumer privacy rights (via Reuters).

The complaint was filed on Tuesday in a Chicago federal court by Kyle Zak, who is seeking an injunction to stop Bose's "wholesale disregard" for the privacy of customers who download the app to their smartphones.


The lawsuit alleges that Bose tracks the listening habits of users when they are wearing headsets like the company's QuietComfort 35 headphones, gleaning information through the app such as music tracks played, podcasts, and other audio listened to.

According to Zak, who bought a pair of $350 QC35 cans, Bose sends all available information to third parties such as Segment.io, a data capture outfit whose website promises to "collect all of your customer data and send it anywhere".
"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."

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.
Zak is seeking millions of dollars of damages for customers who bought Bose headphones and speakers, including QuietComfort 35, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, SoundLink Color II, SoundSport Wireless and SoundSport Pulse Wireless.

Zak also wants a halt to the data collection, which he said violates the federal Wiretap Act and Illinois laws against eavesdropping and consumer fraud. Bose has yet to respond to requests for comment on the proposed class action case.

Article Link: Bose Wireless Headphones Spy on Listeners, Lawsuit Alleges
 

newyorksole

macrumors 68040
Apr 2, 2008
3,797
3,758
New York.
I'm confused though. I have the Bose QC35 and use the app. I never had to put my name into the app... All I use it for is listening to songs. How could my information possibly be "sold off"?

Is this article implying that my conversations and whatever I'm saying into the microphone get sent to Bose?

I read the article, but am just not getting the fuss. Like how can Bose selling off my listening habits possibly affect me?
 
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nick42983

macrumors 6502
May 18, 2009
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I'm confused though. I have the Bose QC35 and use the app. I never had to put my name into the app... All I use it for is listening to songs. How could my information possibly be "sold off"?

Is this article implying that my conversations and whatever I'm saying into the microphone get sent to Bose?

I read the article, but am just not getting the fuss. Like how can Bose selling off my listening habits possibly affect me?
Bose is tracking what your listening to through the app somehow. I don't know if they have your name tied to a profile, but I doubt it'd be hard to do if they wanted it. The app knows the serial number of your headphones, if you bought the headphones from Bose they know who you are.
 

silvetti

macrumors 6502a
Nov 24, 2011
868
286
Poland
Probably all listed in the 50 page EULA they all didn't read and just clicked "I ACCEPT" to.....
To the point that if you click I accept that you are now their slave does not mean you are now their slave. Just because you click I accept does not mean they can cram whatever they want in there.
Pretty sure they will have a good case regarding wiretapping laws.
[doublepost=1492679816][/doublepost]
I'm confused though. I have the Bose QC35 and use the app. I never had to put my name into the app... All I use it for is listening to songs. How could my information possibly be "sold off"?

Is this article implying that my conversations and whatever I'm saying into the microphone get sent to Bose?

I read the article, but am just not getting the fuss. Like how can Bose selling off my listening habits possibly affect me?
Not sure if you read the article.
They can see SN of device (Bose) and match to your credit card or invoice name.
Well I don't mind they sell my data, but at least sell me their product then cheaper... Not with the Bose tax and then still serve ads to me (through selling my data to other ad networks) at my own cost. Without telling me.
[doublepost=1492680031][/doublepost]
To the point that if you click I accept that you are now their slave does not mean you are now their slave. Just because you click I accept does not mean they can cram whatever they want in there.
Pretty sure they will have a good case regarding wiretapping laws.
[doublepost=1492679816][/doublepost]

Not sure if you read the article.
They can see SN of device (Bose) and match to your credit card or invoice name.
Well I don't mind they sell my data, but at least sell me their product then cheaper... Not with the Bose tax and then still serve ads to me (through selling my data to other ad networks) at my own cost. Without telling me.
And you need to think like this, if they are able to cross all the data (not Bose, but whoever buys the listening habits of person xyz from Bose) with whatever they already have from your Facebook, Google, any other website that track usage )(all of them, even MacRumors) they can paint a pretty spot on profile of you, and with this Bose data, they can even name you :)
Again, I don't mind that with Google (even thought I don't use them) but at least Google services are mostly free.
Bose on the other hand is good but overpriced (imho, disclosure: I own Bose QC35, my favorite headset) for also getting our private data for free.

Alsoooo, no one, and I mean no one, can know I like some Justin Bieber songs :eek:
 

Keane16

macrumors 6502a
Dec 8, 2007
810
669
I'm confused though. I have the Bose QC35 and use the app. I never had to put my name into the app... All I use it for is listening to songs. How could my information possibly be "sold off"?
From the Reuters source article:

"After paying $350 for his QuietComfort 35 headphones, Zak said he took Bose's suggestion to "get the most out of your headphones" by downloading its app, and providing his name, email address and headphone serial number in the process."
 
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d4zza

macrumors member
Oct 12, 2011
58
30
A number of points to make..

Assume any tech you acquire these days is mining data from everything you do.

Would Bose declaring they do this in their terms have stopped anyone from buying their products?

Lastly, while no single manufacturer can claim to make the best product at every budget level, I've yet to either read a review (unbiased!) that puts Bose at the top of any group test or find that I personally prefer any Bose products to others. I find other manufacturers at cheaper levels sound better to me. So really folks I'm saying test other manufacturers before paying designer label prices for Bose.
[doublepost=1492683833][/doublepost]
Aaaaaannnnnddd......his proof is where?
I'm sure it'll be in his lawsuit but performing network analysis could show data packets going to third party servers. That's where I'd look.
 

silvetti

macrumors 6502a
Nov 24, 2011
868
286
Poland
A number of points to make..

Assume any tech you acquire these days is mining data from everything you do.

Would Bose declaring they do this in their terms have stopped anyone from buying their products?

Lastly, while no single manufacturer can claim to make the best product at every budget level, I've yet to either read a review (unbiased!) that puts Bose at the top of any group test or find that I personally prefer any Bose products to others. I find other manufacturers at cheaper levels sound better to me. So really folks I'm saying test other manufacturers before paying designer label prices for Bose.
[doublepost=1492683833][/doublepost]
I'm sure it'll be in his lawsuit but performing network analysis could show data packets going to third party servers. That's where I'd look.
Two valid points and one that has nothing to do with the discussion in this thread.
We get it, your ATH-MX50s sound better.
 

scottishwildcat

macrumors regular
Oct 24, 2007
233
211
Nice clickbaity headline there. The lawsuit alleges that their app is doing something dodgy, not the headphones (which would be a whole lot creepier).
 

d4zza

macrumors member
Oct 12, 2011
58
30
Two valid points and one that has nothing to do with the discussion in this thread.
We get it, your ATH-MX50s sound better.
Haha, I get it! But in all honesty I don't even use headphones anymore as I've become even more of a **** as I get older. Floor standing speakers only for me these days
 
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Cineplex

macrumors 6502a
Jan 1, 2016
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1,975
A number of points to make..

Assume any tech you acquire these days is mining data from everything you do.

Would Bose declaring they do this in their terms have stopped anyone from buying their products?

Lastly, while no single manufacturer can claim to make the best product at every budget level, I've yet to either read a review (unbiased!) that puts Bose at the top of any group test or find that I personally prefer any Bose products to others. I find other manufacturers at cheaper levels sound better to me. So really folks I'm saying test other manufacturers before paying designer label prices for Bose.
[doublepost=1492683833][/doublepost]
I'm sure it'll be in his lawsuit but performing network analysis could show data packets going to third party servers. That's where I'd look.
I know that. But where IS his analysis? Most people present evidence in these things. Until I see proof this looks fishy.
 
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wackymacky

macrumors 68000
Sep 20, 2007
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Probably all listed in the 50 page EULA they all didn't read and just clicked "I ACCEPT" to.....
Umm...No it's not on page 50 of EUA.

The user agreement states comment about collecting anonymized data on how the app is used (when, how long, device OS, crashes etc.) by them and 3rd parties.
Nowhere does it say identifiable info collected and shared. They discuss collecting phone OS info in a lot of detail, though make no comment about data on music, which is interesting because why wouldn't they slip that in there? I wouldnt have gone looking if it wasn't for the article.

I can't remember needing to provide email etc when I set it up.

That being said I feel injured. Perhaps I can get 500k.:rolleyes:
 

jacjustjac

macrumors regular
Feb 12, 2008
204
311
New York, NY
I'm confused though. I have the Bose QC35 and use the app. I never had to put my name into the app... All I use it for is listening to songs. How could my information possibly be "sold off"?

Is this article implying that my conversations and whatever I'm saying into the microphone get sent to Bose?

I read the article, but am just not getting the fuss. Like how can Bose selling off my listening habits possibly affect me?
The app has a control screen that shows you the title of whatever you are listening to, along with playback controls. Just like a Bluetooth car stereo can show you the track name and artist, the Bose headphones are relaying this directly to the app. I notice that when I have connected my QC35s to both my iPad and my phone, and play music from my iPad, the track name/artist shows up on the app on my iPhone and I can use the iPhone to control the playback, even the volume on my iPad, as if I had pressed the buttons on the headphones instead. So there is definitely a direct relay of playback information from the headphones to the app, even if the source is a second Bluetooth device.

It didn't occur to me that Bose might be reading that list of music and sending it off to gleam a listening profile of its users. I doubt they are actually receiving data from the microphones in the headset, especially because the current Bluetooth profile prevents high quality music playback and the microphone from being used at the same time.

The immediate solution is to delete the app. You don't really need it for basic playback operation.

The more effective solution is to hold Bose accountable. This should be an opt-in feature, and clearly displayed that your listening history may be sent to third-parties via the app. Technically any wireless headphone that uses an app could do this, and we don't want to set a trend that it's okay to do this in secret.

The tech nerd in me could see a bright side though. Perhaps Bose simply wants to build a custom EQ for every song, identifying what is being played and adjusting it to fit the genre that they've estimated from millions of other user's listening habit. In the FAQ in their app, Bose advises not to use any equalizer with their headphones, because supposedly their EQ built into the headphones is the best for allllllll types of music. Perhaps they hope to improve it via a third party. It would be nice to know, but Bose is a very secretive company, and now we finally know why they never include release notes in their headphone firmware updates.....
 

rmbpuser

macrumors 6502
Sep 1, 2012
293
140
I actually like it when my tech is listening/watching me, it makes me feel less lonely. I wish everything would be able to track me; it would be amazing if Netflix was as smart as Facebook, imagine if it could suggest me some comedies to watch one day because it heard me crying from my laptop's microphone earlier then.

IMHO only terrorist will have a problem with that.
 
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J0m083

macrumors newbie
Feb 17, 2012
11
11
... Like how can Bose selling off my listening habits possibly affect me?
Insurance companies find through data-mining that people listening to music/band xyz have a higher risk of accidents. Up go your premiums. But it wasn't you listening but your uncle you loaned the headset to while he was ill.

Banks know from practise that musical taste qwe can point to less financially responsible behaviour. Up goes your mortage- and loan payments. But it wasn't you but an error in the Bose app or Db.

If you are around thirty this info could stay with you for the next 40-50 years. Causing tens to hundreds of thousand in extra payments for you, possibly on an incorrect basis. All so Bose can receive an extra nickel.

As an example.
 

adib

macrumors regular
Jun 11, 2010
196
87
Singapore
I actually like it when my tech is listening/watching me, it makes me feel less lonely. I wish everything would be able to track me; it would be amazing if Netflix was as smart as Facebook, imagine if it could suggest me some comedies to watch one day because it heard me crying from my laptop's microphone earlier then.

IMHO only terrorist will have a problem with that.
And after hearing you cry, have advertisements of divorce lawyers following you wherever you go?