Business

Bose slapped with wiretap lawsuit claiming headphone app spies on users

A class action lawsuit accuses Bose Corp. of breaking a federal wiretapping law by keeping tabs on customers’ listening habits without their permission.

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A class action lawsuit accuses Bose Corp. of breaking a federal wiretapping law by keeping tabs on customers’ listening habits without their permission.

A class-action lawsuit accuses Framingham’s Bose Corp. of breaking a federal wiretapping law by keeping tabs on customers’ listening habits without their permission.

The suit was filed on Tuesday in Chicago by an Illinois resident named Kyle Zak, who bought a $350 set of Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones last month. The headphones use a Bluetooth radio system to play music stored on a user’s smartphone. Zak downloaded Bose Connect, a free smartphone app that helps users select and play their favorite tunes.

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But the lawsuit says that Zak didn’t know the app kept track of every recording he listened to. The suit claims that the data was relayed to companies other than Bose, which could analyze Zak’s listening habits without his permission.

“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,” the lawsuit said. For instance, it’s possible to determine someone’s religion or sexual orientation by tracking his or her listening habits.

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The lawsuit asserts that Bose’s data collection policy “demonstrates a wholesale disregard for consumer privacy rights and violates numerous state and federal laws,” including a federal law governing wiretapping and unfair business practices laws of Illinois. The suit seeks at least $5 million in damages.

Bose did not return requests for comment.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at hiawatha@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeTechLab.
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