back to article Rejecting Sonos' private data slurp basically bricks bloke's boombox

In August, when wireless speaker maker Sonos decided to update its privacy policy to allow it to gather more data on its customers from their devices, it characterized the consequences of refusing to accept the change as being left out of future feature upgrades. Sonos' policy change, outlined by chief legal officer Craig …

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Re: Good luck with your unconnected light bulb.

Uncle Fester hold this for a while...

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Flame

"...Sonos' spokesperson clarified that the company isn't offering a refund to all privacy policy holdouts. Rather the audio gear biz intends to work with affected customers on a case-by-case basis...."

Case-by-case, depending on what, exactly? Whether the customer is famous or not? Whether the customer is raising hell in some blog? Gender? Race? Distance from Sonos HQ? Zodiac sign?

This statement is as hollow and stupid as it can be. As most company statements that include the expression "on a case-by-case basis". Sigh...

After reading this article, Sonos is in the list of companies with which I don't want any business, ever.

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"Distance from Sonos HQ?"

Well, since Sonos have asked the affected users to "reach out", that may well be pertinent for those who live more than an arms length away from customer service. It seems they no longer have phones or email where they can be contacted.

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RJG

Extortion?

In Scotland, clamping a car and demanding money to free it is regarded as extortion, and is illegal.

If data has value, then this would seem to fall under the same legislaton.

It is perhaps time for someone to bring a private prosecution against Sonos, as happened with the car clampers.

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Re: Extortion?

I may be wrong, but isn't there legislation regarding retrospective disabling of software ?

In Sonos' case may be accidental or incidental but it really is time that buyers asserted the fact that they have bought a product, own it, and won't tolerate the manufacturer messing with post purchase.

Microsoft -- I'm looking at you.

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Re: Extortion?

Looks like Sonos just fucked up the update process by allowing the app to update without the required firmware, and it appears (albeit inconvenient) that they are assisting anyone who is broken.

Now that they've added a block to ensure the software and firmware remain sync'd then nothing is disabled, you just don't get future updates, and almost everything has a life after which you don't get updates.

Still sucks that they now require so much personal information, glad I don't have a Sonos.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Extortion?

"Now that they've added a block to ensure the software and firmware remain sync'd then nothing is disabled"

Er, no. This just means that you have to accept the privacy policy to fix the issue. Which is still the issue...

And while it's true that all things eventually lose support, things current in the range and bought last week absolutely mustn't lose critical security patch type support. That's madness, but that's what Sonos have done here. Anyone who bought a player just before the change will never receive the security updates to which they are entitled and to which they had a valid contract unless they agree to new contract terms. Illegal.

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Re: Extortion?

allowing the app to update

Surely that's an App Store function and thus outside of Sonos' control?

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Windows

New Update:

SONOS will now be collecting key hashes of all media streamed through your speakers. Just so we can *analyze* the quality of sound reproduction and plan improvement in the near future.

New New Update:

Streamed media *sources* will be tracked and validated against your account with SONOS to ensure that no one is violating your privacy and security.

WallStreetJournal Announces SONOS to be acquired by International Association of Entertainment Lawyers.

(I'm sorry, did that sound *cough* cynical?)

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Anonymous Coward

IoT - A warning from history...

This news hurts the entire IoT industry. I wont ever be buying this shit...

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Anonymous Coward

Needed a music system for home recently

I'd read warnings from history on the Reg, so I went old-school and bought gear with wires ( Stagepas). It does what it says on the tin. There's no BT syncing or driver issues to worry about, no privacy gotchas, and you can plug in guitars / instruments too. IoT is run by sick people. Someone needs to take the entire industry behind a shed, lets hear the shots around the world!

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Re: IoT - A warning from history...

IoT hurts the IoT industry in general...

Lack of standards

Lack of security

Lack of continuity (support for devices is dropped before the delivery man can click on OK after you have signed for it)

Fly-by-nights

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Anonymous Coward

IoT is no different to renting...

Goes to prove once again that IoT, Cloud, and anything-as-a-service / subscription is basically the same as renting. Look forward to eviction...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IoT is no different to renting...

Renting what exactly? I've been renting my house for the last 12 years, landlords a decent guy who as long as I pay the rent on time has never given me a moments trouble (or even increased the rent).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IoT is no different to renting...

My last landlord decided to stop his meds and self-medicate with alcohol, which resulted in him being sectioned for wielding a massive bread knife in public. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, the silly bugger was so mashed he hadn't even managed to take it out of the plastic wrapper. Up to that point he had been absolutely fine with me, but it just goes to show that, like software, wetware can change without notice.

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Holmes

Re: Software v. wetware

Software/firmware: garbage in, garbage out.

Wetware: garbage ("drugs" from alcohol to over-the-counter meds to prescriptions to the wide range of opiods, amphetamines and hallucinogenics; also junk food and "large" doses of caffeine) in, garbage (insanity) out.

Indeed, the principle works.

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Re: Software v. wetware

"drugs" from alcohol to over-the-counter meds to prescriptions to the wide range of opiods

Nonsense. According to your standard I'm a raving nutcase (quiet at the back there!) - after all, I enjoy a glass[1] of wine or two and am prescribed opiod[2]-based painkillers (and one that has a clear mind-altering effect[3]).

Indeed, the principle is a hell of a lot more complex than you seem to understand.

[1] Bottles are glass too - right?

[2] The gateway drug that is codeine. Been taking it for years. I've yet to have a craving for heroin or cocaine..

[3] Prescribed for neuropathic pain and as a migraine-prophylactic. In much larger doses, it was used for depression.

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Re: Software v. wetware

"According to your standard I'm a raving nutcase"

That's what your handle says.

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Pint

Re: Software v. wetware

I am sure you are balancing all that against a nutritious intake of other chemicals we usually call "food", with the scales in favor of the food, not the drugs & wine. Should it be the other way around, I would expect health effects -- as I said, garbage out (insanity being just one possible outcome). And tolerances may vary; I thought that went without saying. (Disclaimer: I Am Not A Doctor.)

Whatever gets you through the day -- cheers!

(I fully believe my blood pressure medication has a mental/emotional effect as well as physical effects, which isn't hard to argue if one believes the brain is nothing more than a chemical stew. Oh, the effect? I'm calm... for now.)

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Happy

@CrazyOldCatMan -- Re: Software v. wetware

Regardless of your post, I upvoted you simply because of your handle.

And your post....

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Windows

Re: Software v. wetware

I'll second that one CoCM;

Caffeine is after all a drug and I keep my blood levels suppressed in my caffeine stream.

Anti-inflamatory that has been considered for a number of other uses including as an anti-depressant, and lately periodic (emergency only) opioid for those moments when my left leg turns to concrete. Then there's all the pasta, since its covered in a nightshade derivative compound, and lately I've added new fermentation products to my diet, oh my. Cabernet's, Rum, Scotches and terrible things like .... centrum forte!

(If you get out that way -> 5 Paddles, Whitby, Ontario, CA. check em out)

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So, is Sonos in trouble financially then?

I thought that their kit was relatively expensive so they should be capable of making a profit selling it. However, this suggests that may not be the case and they need to sell personal data to make any money?

Or they could just be greedy, pathetic scum?

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Meh

Re: So, is Sonos in trouble financially then?

I am not entirely sure what possible benefit they can be getting from this. The only data they could possibly be getting they can match with my email address / IP address is:

1. I listen to Radio 4 a lot

2. My music taste is not 'down with the kids'

No clue how they then do anything with that.

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Re: So, is Sonos in trouble financially then?

Then they know when (not if) it ties in with advertising, they know what adverts to sell you.

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Re: So, is Sonos in trouble financially then?

That is the same argument is "I don't care if they spy on me, I have nothing to hide". It's false, EVERYBODY has something to hide. Similarly those 2 points are exactly what make the data valuable for sale, as it shows they can better target you with non-generic ads.

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dl

Financial trouble? No, they just launched a speaker that has builtin Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. So the privacy policy needs to be updated to allow those to function and they are too lazy to break it out for different products.

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Anonymous Coward

@dl yes that's why they changed the policy, obviously.

Now explain why they broke their customers systems if those updated terms weren't accepted. Illegally forcing updated contract terms is not OK. Ceasing critical security updates is not OK. Suggesting users can "fix" the issue by turning off security updates...NOT OK!

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Hmmm never did consider sonos but have been looking at some other similar kit(teufel being an interesting option) - I wonder if other such kits have similar issues???

El-reg research idea???

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(@ Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik)

"teufel being an interesting option"

There's a name that inspires confidence! ;^)

"I wonder if other such kits have similar issues??? [...] ElReg's research idea???"

Don't bother, all of them do, at least potentially. Any product that relies in updates and/o external servers to function properly can receive the same treatment, when some management asshat decides to "create value for the investors" by ripping off their customers one way or another.

So, it's basically a Russian roulette, with few empty chambers. :-(

I, personally, favour the option of not buying -among other things- IoT tat.

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Squeezebox

Glad I still have this little beauties running even though they sold out to Logitech who dumped the whole shebang.

With the new EUDPA next year you just tell Sonos they have to remove ll the data they have and you do not give consent.

Cal then a week later ask for what they have on you and then if they have anything report them and hope the ICO or whoever use their teeth with the level of fines they can impose with the new act

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Re: Squeezebox

Thumbs-up for the Squeezebox.

I have a Squeezebox 2 and 3 Booms. Love them, and with the open-sourced server anyone can jump in and make a device. It'd be nice to be able to buy an off-the-shelf device that would work with it...

I know you can slap together a Pi with SqueezeLite, and there are half-decent DACs and amps you can hook into it, but a nice, neat turnkey box (like a Sonos) would be great.

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Re: Squeezebox

Had a couple of these, but binned when they got taken over and software pain.

Now: Plex + [ device ] + Bluetooth 4.0 + denon ceol

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Re: Squeezebox

Agree, still have 11 squeezeboxes dotted around the house and garden and some of them are in use daily, although recently the Touch died and a Boom killed it's PSU. They're getting old :(

The software's still cranky and refuses to co-operate from time to time, but that's not bad for something that's been discontinued for 5+ years. Also means that nobody thought to put in a billion lines of every-movement code by then so we're good :)

Congrats to the strategy morons out there in Logitech, you could be owning this market segment now & not pissed off a legion of fiercely loyal customers.

They still command ridiculous prices on ebay so there's love out there for them.

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Happy

Re: Squeezebox

Eleven???!

That is quite a lot.

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Re: Squeezebox

"Eleven???! That is quite a lot."

Indeed. Tin - where do you live, and when are you going on holiday?

I'll... umm... water your plants - that's it!

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Re: Squeezebox

a nice, neat turnkey box (like a Sonos) would be great

It sure would. It is nice to have a purpose built rig rather than a lash-up. Where someone shares the love for what it is, has taken the time to make their products look nice and iron out the kinks, and delivers something which one considers well worth paying for.

Unfortunately it always seems to start with good intentions but turn to shit when someone decides there's money to be made, customers to be monetized, or it can be flogged to someone who doesn't have the same respect for their customers.

It's good, honest, decent business practices we are losing these days. They are serving themselves, not serving their customers. Just because they can, it doesn't mean they should.

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Re: Squeezebox

Indeed :) The synchronised sound is AWESOME!

That's a lie, I've never tried it on all 11.

I might have a problem.

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Meh

"The sound was better"

There's the rub - irrespective of whether or not one feels the need for a wireless sound system or control it from one's phone, Sonos just isn't very good audio gear (imho). Maybe the former is more important to some people than the latter, and that's fine, but it's not for me.

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Re: "The sound was better"

Same as Beats headphones - cheap tatt rebadged with a brand name sells. There are some good salesmen out there who can sell anything. Amazing what people will accept when dressed up in fancy words.

My main hifi is wired up, but for other rooms I make use of Bluetooth adapters on decent speakers then just use KODI to push the audio to the different rooms as needed. £10 of Bluetooth parts added to speakers I already owned. Never at risk to updates killing the system.

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MJI
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Re: "The sound was better"

I rely on the simple fact that my house is not large and the AV system is and I can hear it anywhere.

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Megaphone

Re: "The sound was better"

Same as Beats headphones - cheap tatt rebadged with a brand name sells.

I always thought the name was a reference to the mugging the purchaser just got.

Then again, maybe it's a reference to their quality, as in "everything else beats them"

I tried some briefly with a track I know well. Worst shit I've ever fed into my ears (the sound from the headphones, not the track).

--> The worst of these gives better audio quality than the best of the "beats" rubbish.

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Re: "The sound was better"

My main room has a Sonos Connect outputting to my NAD digital amp and very nice speakers I got off a Jehovahs Witness selling up to go and be a missionary in Sierra Leone (hope he survived the hurricane - he was quite chatty).

Its not like Sonos don't make stuff you can use, with optical I/o, with proper digitally designed audio equipment. I chose quite carefully. Not a small investment for a over a grands worth of audio kit on my day rate.

And the other two bits of Sonos kit which I already owned do their job just fine. Horses for courses.

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Roll your own

Raspberry Pi +amp, Logitech Media Server, speakers, Squeezelite on phone. It's possible to do multi room sync, but our house is not big enough to need it.

http://www.gerrelt.nl/RaspberryPi/wordpress/tutorial-stand-alone-squeezebox-server-and-player-for-bbq/

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Happy

Re: Roll your own

Thanks for that link, it's been bookmarked. I love his retro portable player, I'm going to have to make one of those!

http://www.gerrelt.nl/RaspberryPi/wordpress/portable-retro-squeezelite-player/

P.S. I use an Akai tuner/amp which I bought for £4 in a jumble sale 23 years ago. The tuner's stereo decoder has recently failed but the amp still sounds great.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Roll your own

If you're after something easier to set up take a look at PiCorePlayer. It comes set up with squeezelite and a web interface to configure everything easily. There are presets for most of the DAC, SPDIF and amp boards, and it works with any DAC with a standard USB input, although some of them nees a manual setting to get the best out of them. It also has options for adding the server, and a touchscreen interface on the Pi, much like the SqueezeBox Touch.

https://sites.google.com/site/picoreplayer/home

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Roll your own

I had a bit of a play with this a while ago.

It works fine as long as you don't want to run windows and Linux or apple clients at the same time. They don't seem to be able to sync at all!

Fine with Windows and android.

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So why did he buy them in the first place?

"I'm probably going back to a traditional setup with buttons, stereo speakers, and wires. The sound was better, control better, and it still works after 20 years,"

Totally agree, so I wonder why he bought it!

Sonos, like most other boutique branded mini-hi-fi gear, has always been more about the 'cache' [insert accented 'e' if you know how!] (otherwise known as 'w' waving) than the quality.

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You don't need an accent, just a t

cachet ;)

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Re: So why did he buy them in the first place?

"insert accented 'e' if you know how"

Oh, do come on... laziness can be refined to a fine art. Google "e acute", select first result, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V...

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Headmaster

Re: So why did he buy them in the first place?

'cache' [insert accented 'e' if you know how!]

It's 'cachet', you inerudite commentard.

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