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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.

#Bose

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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

The sad truths you missed about the US Women’s Soccer Team lawsuit

(NEWS) The US Women’s Soccer team dominated headlines by suing for equal pay, but there was so much more to the lawsuit that could have a ripple effect in the business world.

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Recently, on International Women’s Day, the United States Women’s Soccer Team (USWNT) filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation. The timing of the suit is not only a sign of the team continuing their decades long fight against the organization (only three months before they are set to defend their World Cup title in France), but a recognition of the symbol that they have become in the larger battle that women and other minorities are waging in order to be given the same resources as the men leading in their fields.

It should go without saying that the women’s soccer team is unparalleled in its athletic success: over the past twenty years they have won three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. These players, as ESPN acknowledges, are among the most accomplished and best known women athletes in the world.

Their counterpart, the Men’s National Soccer Team, leaves much to be desired (they failed to qualify for last year’s World Cup, for example) yet they consistently receive much more support from the US Soccer Federation.

Although the pay disparity between the USWNT and the male soccer team is certainly stark, the “gains” that the women athletes are fighting for go beyond monetary compensation.

According to Mashable, “This [suit] includes how women frequently play on a dangerous artificial surfaces when the men do not, fly commercial when the men travel by more convenient, comfortable charter flights, and the alleged allocation of fewer resources to promote women’s games compared to men’s.”

As if being the best players in your sport in the world and having to share hotel rooms after getting torn apart by the seams astroturf and receiving less-than-world-class medical care wouldn’t be infuriating enough, it’s truly this final point that highlights the glaring mistreatment of the USWNT.

Without support from the US Soccer Federation, not only in the form of payment but in promotion of their games and general good-will toward their players, the USWNT will not be able to grow their following so that they can establish a consistent revenue near what the men’s team attracts. This “lack” of revenue continues to create the chicken/egg excuse that the Federation has for not propping up the USWNT like they deserve.

It’s simply the opposite of “sportsmanship” for the US Soccer Federation to use these players’ love of playing the game (that, again, they are the best in the world at) and their country as a way to gaslight them into playing for less.

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Think about automating tasks instead of replacing workers

(BUSINESS) Automation is great, unless you obsess over it and try to cut down on payroll – there’s a smarter approach that successful businesses take.

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The concept of automating your workflow is a tempting one — especially as payroll continues to be one of the evergreen highest costs of business. However, in contemplating how to streamline your workflow, you may do better to step back from the idea of “replacing workers” and instead think about you can optimize your existing employees by strategically tweaking their workflow.

As Ravin Jesuthasan and John Boudreau write in The Harvard Business Review, if the goal of automating is to ensure that your company is operating at its most cost effective and efficient levels, then chances are you’d still need knowledgeable employees to help you scale and capitalize.

Where automation can truly help your business is by transforming the ability of your organization to focus on the tasks that truly require a human touch or deep knowledge. For example, automation will not help your employees perform complex, interactive, or creative work like collaborating with clients to come up with solutions or designs.

However, it can help the process of brainstorming or co-designing these solutions easier by replacing some of the mechanical tasks that aid this high-level workflow.

For example, it may be helpful to automate basic research tasks for your designers. If your designers must create a client profile to help them launch their projects — basic information must surely exist at some other point in the process before this point. Maybe your firm has an intake form or contracts where a basic description of the goal of the contracted service has been created. By automating the sharing of that data between departments, perhaps in a content management system, you’d be able to free up time that the designers might spend on basic data collection so that they could instead use it for their more complex, empathetic work.

Jesuthasan and Boudreau offer up other advice for thinking about which specific tasks within your company’s workflow are the best candidates for automation.

Is a task simple? Routine? Does it require collaboration?

These kinds of inquiry are not only useful when thinking about your organizational processes, but they are good refreshers for thinking about the individual value and skills that your organization and its workers offer clients.

So instead of looking at how to cut down on payroll, consider automation as an option to improve the value you’re getting from your team, and freeing them from mind-numbing tasks that have nothing to do with their expertise. Win-win!

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Megabrand, Amazon failing to support their working parent employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Policies are changing at American companies to be up to par in supporting parents, but Amazon, despite being one of the most profitable companies in history, is not one of the evolving brands.

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Households in which both parents work is so much the norm in this country that we rarely ask new mothers if they’ll go back to work knowing it’s only a matter of when they’ll go back to work.

And once new mothers re-enter the workplace, the expectation of their time rarely changes to account for their new status as working mothers. Schedules change and so do childcare needs.

However, some progressive companies are changing their policies to accommodate their employees’ need for childcare, but Amazon isn’t one of them. Yet.

Dubbing themselves the Momazonians, a group of working mothers at Amazon is demanding that the online retail giant provide a back-up childcare benefit.

Back-up child care, for the uninitiated, is a perk that offers workers access to subsidized care for the times when school is closed, reliable childcare is temporarily unavailable, or in the event of sickness or emergency.

Why is this important? For starters, women who return to work shortly after giving birth are often left feeling unsupported and burdened by their choice to continue their careers instead of feeling empowered to enter into the next chapter or phase of their career.

Some companies believe that babies just aren’t good for business and once a woman makes the choice to expand her family, she’s often passed over for promotions or thought to no longer prioritize her career. Of course, these companies are wrong and that’s why it’s important for working mom’s to feel empowered to make their voices heard.

Will the Momazonians make any headway in getting the help they deserve? Time will tell.

They’ll be meeting in the next few weeks in an attempt to make a deal. However, whether or not Amazon complies with their demands, it’s worth thinking about for companies pondering parental policies in the future. As more and more millennials are marrying and having children later in life and thus further along in their careers, it would behoove companies to offer more flexible benefits to families. While it may seem cheaper to hire entry-level employees, in the long run, it’s more cost effective to hold onto experienced workers.

What’s more, while it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to have it all, companies could make it easier to at least manage work-life balance better. When you offer mothers and fathers flex-time and work-from-home benefits, or even subsidized care, you are purchasing peace of mind and a peace-filled mind is a productive one.

Any woman who has gone back to work knows the hardest part of their day is dropping off their new little one in someone else’s care so why not make these transitions easier if it means holding on to experience? In the long term, it leads to employee retention. Children aren’t children forever and if they’re parents are offered support, those parents will probably perform better.

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