Consumer data has never been more valuable than it is today—and almost every business which can collect it, does. As a result, privacy policies, which must disclose a company’s policy in regard to its data collection practices and uses, are now more important than ever.
The recent class action lawsuit against Bose Corporation is a perfect example of this, and is causing everyone to listen more closely. In the suit, plaintiff Kyle Zak alleges that Bose violated the Federal Wiretapping Act and state privacy laws by intercepting and collecting metadata about audio files from users of its wireless headphones and devices without appropriately disclosing its policies or obtaining valid consent from its customers. More specifically, in the complaint, Zak alleges that:
Although Bose’s policy stated that it may share “non-personal information” with third parties, it did not identify that the metadata and the other information collected from users’ audio files would be considered “non-personal data,” particularly when such information may provide insight into consumers’ health, lifestyle, and religious preferences. The complaint draws a connection between the information collected from users’ metadata and the information collected by Bose as part of its product registration process, suggesting that Bose may have the ability to aggregate user data to develop more robust profiles of its consumers, thus allowing it (and third parties with which it shared the information) to develop more targeting marketing around consumer preferences.
Although the complaint does not specify damages, it is being speculated that damages may exceed $5 million dollars.
Bose is just one of many companies to be caught up in a recent spate of lawsuits alleging violations of the Federal Wiretapping Act and other data privacy regulations:
The Bose case and the other recent cases mentioned here have important implications for companies that collect consumer information. With the flood of these cases being filed in different jurisdictions around the US, we can surmise that American consumers are becoming more savvy about their rights in and to their information, as well as the law, and paying closer attention to companies’ data collection practices and related disclosures. We strongly recommend that companies which collect individuals’ personal information review their privacy policies, data collection practices and data security, with a view to increasing transparency with regard to collection and use practices for personal information.
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