Bose Corp spies on its wireless headphone customers by using an app that tracks the music, podcasts and other audio they listen to, and violates their privacy rights by selling the information without permission, a lawsuit charged.
The complaint filed on Tuesday by Kyle Zak in federal court in Chicago seeks an injunction to stop Bose’s “wholesale disregard” for the privacy of customers who download its free Bose Connect app from Apple Inc or Google Play stores to their smartphones.
I downloaded the app on android and listened to a few songs on Spotify to find out what information was being sent.
While the app is running, the app sends a HTTPS request every time the track information changes or the volume changes. When the track information changes it sends the artist, album and song name. When you change the volume it sends the new volume level.
Every request includes standard meta-data such as
- An _anonymous-id_
- Device serial number
- Information about whether wifi or cellular are connected and carrier name
- Device name, model and manufacturer
For those that missed it, a representative from one of the other companies named in the suit helpfully dropped in to provide additional context on their company’s part in this. It even had a super positive “happy to answer … questions” attitude. It was deleted in a few minutes as they realized how poorly that was going to turn out.
In this particular case, people are upset because the hardware is not completely functional without the app - so people can’t just not use it or “opt out” without losing part of what they just paid a fair amount of money for. No one would use the app except for that functionality, so collecting information on “app use” when the use of the app is a manufactured scenario seems quite unfair for a high-end product.
The app is here.
Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this post.