Sonos finally blasted in complaint to UK privacy watchdog – lets hope they do something with it

Sonos stands accused of seeking to obtain “excessive” amounts of personal data without valid consent in a complaint filed with the UK’s data watchdog.

The complaint, lodged by tech lawyer George Gardiner in a personal capacity, challenges the Sonos privacy policy’s compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation and the UK’s implementation of that law.

It argues that Sonos had not obtained valid consent from users who were asked to agree to a new privacy policy and had failed to meet privacy-by-design requirements.

The company changed its terms in summer 2017 to allow it to collect more data from its users – ostensibly because it was launching voice services. Sonos said that anyone who didn’t accept the fresh Ts&Cs would no longer be able to download future software updates.

Sonos denied at the time that this was effectively bricking the system, but whichever way you cut it, the move would deprecate the kit of users that didn’t accept the terms. The app controlling the system would also eventually become non-functional.

Gardiner pointed out, however, that security risks and an interest in properly maintaining an expensive system meant there was little practical alternative other than to update the software.

This resulted in a mandatory acceptance of the terms of the privacy policy, rendering any semblance of consent void.

“I have no option but to consent to its privacy policy otherwise I will have over £3,000 worth of useless devices,” he said in a complaint sent to the ICO and shared with The Register.

Users setting up accounts are told: “By clicking on ‘Submit’ you agree to Sonos’ Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.” This all-or-nothing approach is contrary to data protection law, he argued.

Sonos collects personal data in the form of name, email address, IP addresses and “information provided by cookies or similar technology”.

The system also collects data on room names assigned by users, the controller device, the operating system of the device a person uses and content source.

Sonos said that collecting and processing this data – a slurp that users cannot opt out of – is necessary for the “ongoing functionality and performance of the product and its ability to interact with various services”.

But Gardiner questioned whether it was really necessary for Sonos to collect this much data, noting that his system worked without it prior to August 2017. He added that he does not own a product that requires voice recognition.

Source: Turn me up some: Smart speaker outfit Sonos blasted in complaint to UK privacy watchdog • The Register

I am in the exact same position – suddenly I had to accept an invasive change of privacy policy and earlier in March I also had to log in with a Sonos account in order to get the kit working (it wouldn’t update without logging in and the app only showed the login and update page). This is not what I signed up for when I bought the (expensive!) products.