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  • The suit details the allegations of spying as a violation of consumer privacy rights as well as accuses Bose of selling the collected information without permission.

    The suit details the allegations of spying as a violation of consumer privacy rights as well as accuses Bose of selling the collected information without permission. | Photo: Reuters

The suit claims Bose is using an app to track music and other audio that is streamed through their devices to illegally collect information.

A lawsuit by Bose customer Kyle Zak charges that Bose Corp is spying on its customers with its wireless headphones.

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Zak claims the audio tech company is using an app to track music, podcasts and other audio that is streamed through their devices to illegally collect the information.

The suit details the allegations of spying as a violation of consumer privacy rights as well as accuses Bose of selling the collected information without permission. The complaint was filed on Tuesday in a federal court in Chicago and seeks an injunction to stop Bose's "wholesale disregard" for the privacy of customers who download its free Bose Connect app from the 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 did not respond to requests for a comment on the proposed class action case. Zak's lawsuit is the latest to accuse companies of trying to boost profit by secretly collecting customer information and then selling or using it to solicit more business.

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Zak recounted that he acquired the US$350-QuietComfort 35 headphones and downloaded the Bose app, which prompted him to provide his name, email address and headphone serial number. He soon learned that the Bose app sent "all available media information" from his smartphone to third party companies such as Segment.io – whose website promises to collect customer data and "send it anywhere."

The complaint further detailed that audio choices gave "an incredible amount of insight" into customers' personalities, behavior, politics and religious views, citing as an example that a person who listens to Muslim prayers may "very likely" be a Muslim. " (The) Defendants' conduct demonstrates a wholesale disregard for consumer privacy rights," the complaint continued.

Zak is seeking millions of dollars of damages for buyers of headphones and speakers, including QuietComfort 35, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, SoundLink Color II, SoundSport Wireless and SoundSport Pulse Wireless. He also wants a halt to the data collection, which he said violates the federal Wiretap Act and Illinois laws against eavesdropping and consumer fraud.

A partner at Edelson PC, said customers do not see the Bose app's user service and privacy agreements when signing up, and the privacy agreement says nothing about data collection. Edelson specializes in suing technology companies over alleged privacy violations.

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