Lawsuit claims Bose headphones spy on users

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By: CBS News
April 20, 2017

(CBS NEW YORK) -- When music fans put on their high-end headphones, they may feel like they're in their own private world. But a lawsuit against one of the most popular manufacturers claims just the opposite - that Bose is spying on listeners.

CNET editor Dan Ackerman says, "Basically, it's accusing Bose of eavesdropping on its customers when they're using the headphones."

The lawsuit, filed in Chicago, involves wireless headphones, which come with the free Bose Connect app for personalizing settings. The suit claims the company uses that app to track customers' music, podcasts and lectures, and then sells that information.

Ackerman says it's a reminder to read the fine print.

"I saw that it does indeed say it could collect a lot of information, including GPS info, Bluetooth info, maybe info that comes from other apps on your phone," Ackerman says.

Audio choices can reveal a lot about a person, including potential clues to their religion or sexual orientation. The suit complains that by selling that information, Bose is violating customer privacy.

"So you wouldn't recommend downloading this app?" we asked.

"I think people generally download too many apps, and sign up for too many services. The headphones work fine just Bluetoothing them in, you don't need the app," Ackerman says.

Bose has not responded to a request for comment, but the accusations are nothing new in the high tech era, as numerous industries have found ways to peek into their customers' private lives.

The lawsuit against Bose seeks an injunction to stop Bose from collecting private data.