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23 August 2017

Speakers may ‘cease to function’

Sonos customers have reacted strongly to a new privacy policy from the company.

HIGH-END sound system manufacturer Sonos has hit customers with a controversial ultimatum in the company’s latest policy update — leaving privacy-concerned customers taking to social media to express their outrage.

The company has recently announced integration with voice responsive smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo. As Sonos rolls out the integration it will begin collecting more customer data about audio settings, system errors and other account information of users.

And if they don’t agree, they won’t be able to update their speakers which means they will soon “cease to function,” the company says.

A Sonos spokesperson reportedly told ZDNet “if a customer chooses not to acknowledge the privacy statement, the customer will not be able to update the software on their Sonos system, and over time the functionality of the product will decrease.

“The customer can choose to acknowledge the policy, or can accept that over time their product may cease to function,” the spokesperson said.

The ultimatum quickly drew criticism from annoyed customers, as well as privacy advocates.

“I’ll happily toss my system if true. Privacy matters and good companies respect their customers. Your move @sonos,” wrote Canadian designer Jim Oslen on Twitter.

Another Twitter user took to the social media platform demanding a refund for his Sonos speakers.

“Your new privacy policy is not going over well. Expect backlash! I want a refund for my 3 speakers,” wrote user Rinky Dink.

Plenty of other users were also quick to criticise the move.

Speaking to news.com.au a spokesman for Sonos refuted the notion that its speakers would stop working properly if customers didn’t consent to giving up their data.

“No one can really opt out of a privacy policy,” they said. “It’s not like we’re collecting a whole lot of personal information.” The updates, the company says, are simply designed to improve its products and customer experience.

Sonos says it does not sell customer data to third parties for profit.

“When it comes to using your information, our principles are simple. We will be transparent about what data we’re collecting and why. We will protect your data as though it is sacred,” the company’s Chief Legal Officer Craig Shelburne wrote in a blog post regarding the new privacy changes.

“Because Sonos is a platform that partners with streaming services and other home devices, we do share some data with our partners that is necessary for making the partner service work on Sonos and providing a quality experience.”

As our homes and digital lives become increasingly connected big tech companies are vacuuming up our data like never before. The policy by Sonos is certainly not out of the ordinary.

“Sonos privacy drama is so overblown. Great product, great company, fair policy. I know more about you from Google,” said Arlo Gilbert, the co-founder and CEO of US data management company Meta Saas.

Sonos customers will be able to actively prevent some personal data from being used by the speaker maker but they won’t be able to prevent certain information which the company claims is “functional data” from being collected and used.

That includes information like email addresses, IP addresses, as well as personal device data, room names, error data, and information about Wi-Fi antennas and other hardware information.

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