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A headphones company is being accused of sharing what you listen to

(BUSINESS NEWS) Bose is known for delivering a high-quality audio experience, but amidst new allegations of mishandling their customers’ information, their high-quality may be a big flop.

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From accessory to necessity

Headphones are a necessity, whether you’re blocking out background noise, jamming to your favorite tunes, or simply relaxing on a long flight, headphones are one of the first things we reach for in the morning when we’re packing up to head out for the day.

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With the addition of many wireless headphone options, comes the freedom to move around tangle-free and without worrying whether or not we have enough cord to reach from the seat pocket to our ears.

Bose in the hot seat

Bose, a leader in high-quality audio, offers a great set of wireless headphones, however, amidst new allegations, they may be hard-pressed to sell them.

A Bose customer alleges, in an Illinois federal court, that Bose has been a party to illegal data mining.

In fact, as the lawsuit reads, when you use Bose wireless headphones, along with the Bose Connect app on your smartphone, Bose collects information about the songs you listen to and allegedly transmits this data, along with other identifying information to third parties without the user’s knowledge or consent and allegedly breaks federal wiretap laws, local wiretapping statute and fraud laws, and carries out “intrusion on seclusion,” which is also a crime in the state.

Illegal data mining

As the lawsuit alleges, “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,” says the complaint, noting a person’s audio history may contain files like LGBT podcasts or Muslim call-to-prayer recordings.”

This could give these third-parties a significant amount of information about the user.

Collection of data through the app

The Bose Connect app is a partner app intended to give the user more control over their devices. It works more like a remote control, than a music player. The Bose Connect app is used with the following Bose products: QC35, SoundSport wireless, SoundSport Pulse wireless, QuietControl 30 and SoundLink wireless II (all headsets), as well as, wireless speaker models SoundLink Color II, SoundLink Revolve and SoundLink Revolve+.

The headphones can be used without the app

However, the app allows the user to customize certain aspects and features to their preference, such as the level of noise cancellation, making it an attractive feature to Bose enthusiasts.
According to Fortune, the privacy lawyer who filed the Bose lawsuit, Jay Edelson, believes companies should not be able to help themselves to consumer data just because they can. Edelson stated, “companies need to be transparent about the data they take and what they are doing with it, and get consent from their customers before monetizing their personal information.” Bose apparently missed this crucial piece of the puzzle by not asking for consent to share consumers’ information.

Sharing without consent

“Plaintiff [Kyle] Zak never provided his consent to Bose to monitor, collect, and transmit his Media Information. Nor did Plaintiff ever provide his consent to Bose to disclose his Media Information to any third party, let alone data miner Segment.io,” the lawsuit reads. I imagine this is the sentiment many other Bose users will share.

Bose is not the only offender

Keep in mind, however, that Bose is certainly not the first company to experience data mining woes. In fact, when you download the Bose Connect app, you need to have both GPS and Bluetooth turned on to use it. Others claim, as a counterargument to Zak’s lawsuit, there’s a section in the software detailing Bose’s privacy policy that clearly states that the app collects data and sends it to third parties.

I implore you to read those privacy statements before clicking “I agree.”

I think the lesson here is to be mindful of what technology you use and how you use it. All the features of a wireless, connected world, certainly make life easier and oftentimes more enjoyable, but at what price? Do you know what information your devices are sharing? Have your read your privacy policies?

If you haven’t, you might want to take a peek at some of them, as they are often making a great deal of money from data mining.Click To Tweet
At publication time, Bose had not released a statement concerning the lawsuit.

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Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Business News

Hawaiian missile strike fallout: The importance of clarity in crisis communication

(BUSINESS) Companies can learn quite a bit from the recent Hawaiian missile clusterflip, particularly about timeliness and clarity in crisis communications.

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The federal investigation into the Hawaii civil defense snafu earlier this month revealed that there were serious errors in how the training exercise was conducted between two shifts and in the ongoing performance concerns of the employee directly responsible for sending out the alert.

For 38 minutes, citizens and visitors in the Hawaiian Islands cowered in fear, alerted to take immediate shelter by messages that were received on cellphones and broadcast on TV stations across the state. While officials attempted to calm the populace by taking to Twitter immediately to quell the concerns, many people were not—understandably—taking to tweeting what may have been their last thoughts, and thus were not informed until a follow up message was broadcast to cellphones nearly 40 minutes later.

The Federal Communications Commission, which conducted the federal portion of the investigation into the incident, put partial blame on a lack of clarity about the drill between the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency supervisors of the evening and the morning shifts and a subsequent lack of supervision.

The night-shift supervisor wanted to test the preparedness of the morning-shift workers with an unannounced drill, according to the FCC report. While the day-shift supervisor was allegedly aware that the drill was to take place, he thought that it was to test the night-shift personnel, not the morning crew. As such, he was not prepared to oversee the drill.

The test, which followed normal protocols, involved the night-shift supervisor playing a prerecorded message to emergency personnel warning them that a threat was imminent. The recording, which was simulating real notification from the U.S. Pacific Command, did include the words “Exercise, exercise, exercise,” according to the FCC report, but it also stated “This is not a drill” – which is what workers would expect to hear in a real warning for an active missile alert.

Adding to the confusion was that the worker who was responsible for transmitting the alert as an active emergency heard the language that reflected that it was not a drill, but did not hear the “exercise” language in the tape playback. The employee, believing that it was an actual alert, rather than a drill, responded affirmatively to a prompt asking “Are you sure that you want to send this Alert?”, said the FCC. He was, according to both the FCC and the state investigation into the incident, the only employee to believe that it was an actual alert, and the only worker not to hear the “exercise” portion of the drill.

Adding to the confusion was the revelation by Hawaii state officials on Tuesday that the employee in question had a troubled work history stretching back over the past decade.

The state investigation revealed that the employee had been counseled and corrected for poor performance over the previous 10 years, including that, on at least two occasions, the employee also “confused real life events and drills.” While other members of the employee’s team were reportedly uncomfortable with him and his work for some time, this mistake proved to be the final action of his career with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, as he was terminated last week, pending appeal.

Vern T. Miyagi, administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, resigned Tuesday morning as the investigation results were released and “has taken full responsibility” for the incident, according to Major General Joe Logan, the state adjutant general, who oversees the agency.

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Business News

Target launches same day delivery and we’re too happy

(BUSINESS NEWS) Target is launching same day delivery – will we save money by nixing impulse buys, or will the convenience make us spend even more!?

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If a retailer is going to keep up with the likes of Amazon and Walmart these days, they’ve got to be able to offer superfast delivery. Retail giant Target is getting in the game, with pilot programs beginning tests of same-day delivery in Birmingham, Alabama, and in Tampa and parts of South Florida starting this month.

The delivery service is made possible through a collaboration with online grocery delivery service Shipt, which Target purchased for $550 million back in December. But with Target same-day delivery, you can order more than just groceries. Your items are hand selected by a human being shopping within your nearest Target store, so you can purchase items from any department.

The deliveries themselves are free, but that’s after you buy a membership. For one month, a membership costs $14, or $99 a year, saving you $69 when you spring for the yearlong membership. And that’s for orders over $35 – if you just need a package of toilet paper or a frozen pizza, you’ll have to pay a $7 delivery charge. There’s another catch: prices on same-delivery items could differ from the price you’d get in the store.

But how do you know your personal shopper will pick the perfectly ripe avocado, or the right shade of eyeshadow? The app allows you to “connect with your shopper and get live updates from the aisles,” so that you can “inspect every single item.” Shoppers will “even learn your pickiest produce preferences – to make sure everything we deliver is just the thing you like.” Target will hire 100,000 shoppers to help fulfill online orders.

Once your personal shopper has assembled your order, you’ll receive it on your doorstep the same day, sometimes in as little as one hour.

If this test program goes well, Target will expand the service to other stores. They’re already planning to launch same-day delivery from stores in Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina starting next week.

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Business News

Old Navy fires 3 employees for racial profiling caught on cam

(BUSINESS NEWS) Old Navy has landed in hot water after a shopper showed some questionable behaviors – the company has now responded by sending out pink slips.

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Old Navy has fired three employees at a West Des Moines store after James Conley III, a 29-year-old black man, posted a video showing evidence that he was racially profiled while shopping.

The video went viral, causing the Old Navy location to shut down for one day, and for the corporate headquarters to launch an investigation. A few days later, three employees were terminated.

Conley, who calls himself a frequent shopper who came to Old Navy almost weekly, says that he was accused by employees of stealing the jacket that he came into the store wearing – an Old Navy jacket he had received for Christmas.

An employee rescanned Conley’s jacket to verified it had been paid for. Conley asked a manager to review the security footage to prove that he was wearing the jacket when he arrived. Although the security footage cleared Conley, the manager did not show their face again, and Conley did not receive an apology.

“Don’t ever come to Old Navy, ‘cause they’ll stereotype you if you’re black,” he says in the video.

Old Navy posted an apology on Facebook, saying that the “situation was a violation of our policies and values,” and that the company “is committed to ensuring that our stores are an environment where everyone feels welcome.” Old Navy also used this post to announce that three employees had been fired as a result of the incident.

Conley says that at first he thought he would “remain silent,” but decided to post the video he’d taken, saying that anybody “should be able to go shopping without being racially profiled.” He has hired an attorney and may seek monetary damages. Unfortunately, such incidents of racial profiling are all too common, but in this case, Conley has used social media and his legal rights to take a stand.

In a press conference at the attorney general’s office, Conley described the situation as “really embarrassing,” and “nothing I want anyone to go through, ever.”

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