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Bose is spying on us, lawsuit alleges

The proposed class-action suit claims the audio company uses its wireless headphones and Bose Connect app to collect private data and sell it to third parties, report says.

Are these Bose headphones being used to spy on you? A lawsuit alleges so.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Is Bose spying on consumers? One of its customers thinks it is, and has filed a proposed class-action lawsuit to stop the practice.

Kyle Zak claims Bose uses its wireless headphones and companion Bose Connect app to violate the US Wiretap Act by "secretly collecting, transmitting, and disclosing its customers' private music and audio selections to third parties, including a data mining company."

In his lawsuit, Zak claims that our musical preferences reveal a great deal about our personalities, political leanings and even sexual orientation. The complaint, filed Tuesday in federal court in Chicago, wants to stop Bose's "wholesale disregard" for customers' privacy, according to a report from Reuters.

"Indeed, 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," according to an excerpt of the lawsuit printed by the CEPro website. "In fact, numerous scientific studies show that musical preferences reflect explicit characteristics such as age, personality, and values, and can likely even be used to identify people with autism spectrum conditions. And that's just a small sampling of what can be learned from one's music preferences."

Zak said he has learned that Bose sent "all available media information" from his smartphone to third parties such as Segment.io, whose website promises to collect customer data and "send it anywhere."

"We'll fight the inflammatory, misleading allegations made against us through the legal system," a Bose spokeswoman said in an email. "We don't wiretap your communications, we don't sell your information, and we don't use anything we collect to identify you -- or anyone else -- by name."

Zak is seeking millions in damages for buyers of Bose's QuietComfort 35, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, SoundLink Color II, SoundSport Wireless and SoundSport Pulse Wireless.

The case is Zak v Bose Corp, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, No. 17-02928.

Updated April 20 at 6:35 p.m. PT: Adds company comment.