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A Chicago-area man has filed a privacy lawsuit against Bose, claiming his app-controlled wireless headphones secretly collected and transmitted all of his music and audio selections to third parties without his consent.The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District...

Chicago-area man's lawsuit claims Bose headphones spied on him

A Chicago-area man has filed a privacy lawsuit against Bose, claiming his app-controlled wireless headphones secretly collected and transmitted all of his music and audio selections to third parties without his consent.The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District...

Chicago-area man's lawsuit claims Bose headphones spied on him

A Chicago-area man has filed a privacy lawsuit against Bose, claiming his app-controlled wireless headphones secretly collected and transmitted all of his music and audio selections to third parties without his consent.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago by Kyle Zak, seeks class-action status on behalf of "tens of thousands" of customers who likely downloaded the Bose Connect smartphone app to remotely control certain headphones and speakers.

While users are listening to their headphones, their headphones are essentially eavesdropping on them, the lawsuit alleges.

"That has a lot of very significant privacy implications," said Jay Edelson, founder and CEO of Edelson PC, a Chicago-based class-action law firm that filed the suit.

Zak purchased the Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones in March for $350, according to the lawsuit. He immediately registered his product and downloaded the Bose Connect app onto his smartphone to access the headphone's full array of features. He didn't realize that included intercepting and transmitting the names of every audio track he played to third parties, including Segment.io, a data-mining company, the suit states.

Beyond a surprising amount of information that can be gleaned from musical preferences, Edelson said podcasts can reveal very personal issues of interest to the listener.

Smart TV privacy policies: Here’s what you're actually agreeing to Hayley Tsukayama

Let's be honest here — most of us don't read the privacy policies for smart televisions. And even if we try to, it's often difficult to read them, particularly on a television screen. Some televisions even display the massive policies five lines at a time. Reaction to recent controversies involving...

Let's be honest here — most of us don't read the privacy policies for smart televisions. And even if we try to, it's often difficult to read them, particularly on a television screen. Some televisions even display the massive policies five lines at a time. Reaction to recent controversies involving...

(Hayley Tsukayama)

"It can identify their social circles, their sexual identity, political groups," Edelson said. "These are things that people like to keep private, and the allegation of our suit is that if Bose was going to be collecting that, they had to get consent."

A Bose spokeswoman did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

Bose introduced the app in 2016, according to the lawsuit. The app — which, paired with a number of wireless products, enables users to pause, resume, rewind and skip songs playing on their smartphones — was promoted on the boxes of the wireless products and on the Bose website.

The lawsuit alleges Bose violated the federal Wiretap Act and Illinois' eavesdropping and consumer fraud laws by tracking user listening habits and sharing them without consent.

Zak, who uses his smartphone several times a day to select music tracks to listen to through his wireless headphones, would never have purchased the product had he known the headphones would also be listening to him, according to the lawsuit, which is seeking in excess of $5 million in damages.

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After his press secretary blasted it as an example of fighting rampant government overreach, President Donald Trump signed a bill into law Monday that could eventually allow internet providers to sell information about their customers' browsing habits. The bill scraps a Federal Communications Commission...

(Darlene Superville)

rchannick@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @RobertChannick

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