Maybe Installing That App on Your Phone Isn’t Such a Good Idea

For some people, they never met an app that they didn’t like.  And install.

Well, here is the counterpoint to that concept.

Bose is now being sued because, the lawsuit says, that the Bose app is collecting data and selling it.

Maybe that might be expected if their headphones didn’t cost $300 or more.  Then again, it could be another revenue stream to Bose.  The settlement of the class action will also be a revenue stream, just not one for Bose.

Apparently, here is how it works.

You buy the headphones and Bose says “Ya know, if you really want to get the best experience out of your headphones, you should install our app”.  And, of course, since you just spent a pot full of money on those headphones, you install the app.

When you install the app and it requires you to identify yourself – name, email, phone number, etc.  Not sure why this is required to improve your music listening experience, but it certainly makes selling your data more valuable.

Once you have done that, Bose collects your listening habits, whether it is music or podcasts or whatever that you are managing through the app.  Maybe it is Muslim call to prayer recordings or LGBT podcasts.  Or maybe AIDS support podcasts.  You get the idea. The data goes to a San Francisco based company called Segment who massages it and sells it for Bose.

Interestingly, the lawsuit, filed by attorney Jay Edelson, who is a well known privacy class action attorney, is claiming that Bose is violating the wiretap act – as well as the privacy laws in many states.  If he can pull that off, it is possible that some enterprising Attorney General will decide to press criminal charges.  That seems a bit far fetched, but ….

This all would have probably okay if Bose had disclosed, even if in small print, that they were doing this.  They do say that they collect some data for promotional purposes, but I think that customers would consider collecting data on every track you play a little over the top.  Since no one actually reads the terms of service, they probably would have gotten away scott free, but I am sure that they figured that someone, somewhere would read it and the cat would have gotten out of the bag.  Or, maybe, they didn’t plan to sell the data until later and no one thought to go back and review the terms of service.

Among the headphones involved are the QuietComfort 35, Sound Sport Pulse Wireless, QuietControl 30 and others.

In response to the filing of the lawsuit, Bose said “We’ll fight the inflammatory, misleading allegations made against us through the legal system”.  My guess is that they will do nothing of the kind, settle, and try to get this behind them.  They also said they reached out to their customers to reassure them.  They told their customers that we don’t wiretap your communications, we don’t sell your data and we don’t use anything we collect to identify you.  That is a HUGE difference of fact – one side has to be wrong.  What is not clear is which side it is.   Stay tuned for more details.

Information for this post came from Fortune and Ausdroid.


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