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Sonos Says Users Must Accept New Privacy Policy Or Devices May Cease To Function (zdnet.com) 346

An anonymous reader writes: Sonos has confirmed that existing customers will not be given an option to opt out of its new privacy policy, leaving customers with sound systems that may eventually "cease to function". It comes as the home sound system maker prepares to begin collecting audio settings, error data, and other account data before the launch of its smart speaker integration in the near future. A spokesperson for the home sound system maker told ZDNet that, "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."
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Sonos Says Users Must Accept New Privacy Policy Or Devices May Cease To Function

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  • Fuckers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Tuesday August 22, 2017 @12:01PM (#55063531)

    Is there any law to take companies that pull this kind of stunt to court and sue the pants of them?

    • Re:Fuckers (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashiki@gIIImail.com minus threevowels> on Tuesday August 22, 2017 @12:12PM (#55063613) Homepage

      Depends on the country. In Canada, this is right up illegal under privacy laws(federal and provincial), and modifying a product to degrade it after purchase(consumer protection laws), or changing/modifying a product that doesn't represent actual advertised claims(consumer protection laws).

      • This. IANAL, but I doubt that this would be allowed in any European country either.

        Still, it's an a$$hole move, and there's no reason for it. Make it an opt-in for existing systems and opt-out for new ones, and they would avoid all this negative publicity.

      • Re:Fuckers (Score:5, Interesting)

        by green1 ( 322787 ) on Tuesday August 22, 2017 @01:17PM (#55064169)

        Having been the victim of a company (Tesla) modifying a product after purchase to remove functionality that I specifically paid for, I have discovered that while it may be illegal, you'll need major $$$ to do anything about it. Not a single consumer protection agency in the country will do any more than forward your complaint to the manufacturer who can then feel free to ignore it completely.

        So unless you can afford a long drawn out legal battle with a company that is guaranteed to have a lot more money to throw at lawyers than you do, good luck.

      • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

        I've long wondered if there is any similar law in the U.S. I have a "smart TV" that came with logos for Facebook and YouTube on the box. Both apps have since been retired. I imagine there will be a day when my so-called smart TV is nothing more than a CRT screen. It seems like consumers should be protected against this sort of thing.

        Then again, the U.S. government forced broadcasters to switch from analog to digital transmissions, making all old TVs nonfunctional without additional hardware. So I guess we s

        • "I have a "smart TV" that came with logos for Facebook and YouTube on the box. Both apps have since been retired. I imagine there will be a day when my so-called smart TV is nothing more than a CRT screen" Sounds good to me - where can I buy one?
      • Re:Fuckers (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Tuesday August 22, 2017 @02:11PM (#55064663)

        Based on the article and the summary, they're not modifying it to degrade functionality, they're just not offering software upgrades, and saying that without upgrades, the devices might not work properly in the future (the headline makes it seem like they're going to disable devices of people who don't accept the terms, which AFAICT is absolutely not true).

    • Re:Fuckers (Score:5, Funny)

      by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Tuesday August 22, 2017 @12:13PM (#55063629)
      When people keep altering the terms of an agreement you only have 2 options: pray they don't alter them further, or blow up their death star.
    • It depends on the country where you live, but the vast majority of people do not care anyway. For example, Steam does the exact same thing. If they change their EULA and you refuse to accept it, you lose all your games, with no possibility of a refund. It doesn't stop the vast majority of people from buying games from Steam.

    • Yes, it's called "Fraud" when you change the terms of a Contract after the fact.
      • Not if the contract allows the terms to be changed at any time, which most consumer contracts (in the US, anyway) do.

      • Each release of firmware is a new software, which means new licensing. They never contracted to keep services up and support old devices in perpetuity, thus you must agree to new software or lose access.

        We don't have laws to control this because such laws are... dangerous. Look at what happened with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, wherein violating the MySpace ToS became a criminal offence for a little while. Everyone wants legislative action, and nobody thinks too hard about the unintended conseque [wikipedia.org]

        • The real problem here is that the design of the item in question is not for it to be enhanced by things such as internet connectivity, but instead to rely on it (I'm making some assumptions here about Sonos devices specifically as I've never owned one, nor seen one in person).

          This is connected to the huge issue with Internet Of Things devices. Far too many manufacturers are designing and building them to rely on functionality, like an internet connection, that should instead only be used to enhance their f

          • That's a problem, but not a legal problem. The issue at large isn't Sonos, but the fact that anyone could do this--which is a legal policy problem. A lot of people want to make such things illegal, but that's an engineering problem--building a law that doesn't do terrible things as a side-effect is hard.

    • by e r ( 2847683 )
      You don't even have to do that. There's a very simple solution to these kinds of problems: don't buy their product.
      Don't buy products from crappy companies, don't buy products that limit your freedom.

      Take this particular case for example.
      These speakers are collecting data on me? That should be a show stopper right there.
      These speakers require software updates and an internet connection to run? Another show stopper.
      You, as the owner, do not have access to the software being run on these speakers? Don't
      • These speakers require software updates and an internet connection to run? Another show stopper.

        That one item alone should be sufficient to kill the deal, all by itself. Very few physical things should require an internet connection to operate... and they had damned well better be things like routers and sat/DSL/Cable modems (and maybe the DVR, but only maybe).

        Do I need an Internet connection to run your television? Yeah no, fuck you, I refuse to buy it. There's always TV makers out there who don't require that - and failing such, my house is small enough to press a large-enough desktop monitor into s

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        That's somewhat unhelpful advice for people who owned the product before the company became evil and retroactively changed the contract.

        People paid quite a bit of money for a product, and then the company turns around and destroys it after the fact, now the solution is to go back in time, and not buy the product?

        A better answer would be to make it illegal to make the continuing functioning of the features you paid for contingent on you agreeing to a change in terms of the contract.

    • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

      Sure, you can try civil court. I agree, though, it was a purchase, not a lease, and I think it is immoral to pass leasing terms off as sales. I can understand not adding new functionality, especially if the telemetry is required for it to work, but removing existing functionality is not ok.

    • Almost. It's called GDPR and it will be in effect in may 2018. Article 6 of that law defines the justified ways to collect personal information. The collecting of personal formation by Sonos doesn't match with any of the items in that article and is therefor unlawful. New purchasers of Sonos devices can use article 7 item 4. Obliging the collecting of personal information when purchasing a device when that collectionf is not necessary for the functioning of that device is not lawful.
  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Tuesday August 22, 2017 @12:04PM (#55063563)

    I am altering the deal, pray I don't alter it further!

  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Tuesday August 22, 2017 @12:07PM (#55063575)
    Internet of Things moved to Internet of Insecure Things and now to Internet of Legally Screwed Things.

    Why would anyone buy IoT after this is a mystery.
    • Why anyone ever bought IoT devices that talk to servers they don't control has always been a mystery to me.

      • Why anyone ever bought IoT devices that talk to servers they don't control has always been a mystery to me.

        Because Alexa* turns on my TV with a voice command.... (grin)

        *Alexa Dot using the Logitech Harmony skill

  • by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Tuesday August 22, 2017 @12:07PM (#55063581)

    I recently updated my audio system and looked seriously at some Sonos hardware. I decided against it because it appeared that internet connectivity or a smartphone app was required to use (or at the very least, configure) it.

    I clearly made an excellent decision!

    • For the educated, this kind of decision is easy. Is it standards-based, or do I need some proprietary garbage to manage it? To the general public, this stuff is confusing.

    • by 4pins ( 858270 )
      What did you choose, I tried to avoid Sonos and didn't find anything else appropriate for my needs.
    • by ag0ny ( 59629 )

      You made the right choice.

      I made the mistake of buying a few Sonos speakers last year, and they gave a bad impression even before taking them out of the box. I tweeted Sonos about it with this photo [twitter.com].

  • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Tuesday August 22, 2017 @12:07PM (#55063583)

    Unfettered capitalism is ultimately only slightly better for society than unfettered communism. Large corporations can act as a single entity, while consumers are sufficiently segmented that in most cases coordination is unlikely.

    The response is to change the market via legislation, and let the companies adapt to the new reality, rather than attempt boycotting them. A boycott - even if successful - only ensures they get sneakier about future attempts at the same goal.

    • by OhPlz ( 168413 )

      Your approach would only work if the government was for the people. It isn't. Good luck getting the feds to enforce the type of laws you seek.

      • Incompetence is why I'd never want to be a dictator. I can fix some shit in this country, but I can't fix everything; having to battle with hundreds of other people who may or may not share my vision is a small price to pay for having thousands of congressmen, Congressional staff, independent Government organizations (CBO, etc.), committee staff, and others to back me up if I try to destroy this country with an ill-conceived idea beyond my own capacity. As a dictator, I wouldn't have anyone around to tak

        • >Incompetence is why I'd never want to be a dictator

          When I was young I used to dream of world domination. As I got older I just kept thinking, "Why would I ever want that?"

          I just want to go about my business without having to worry about much that isn't directly affecting me, and I certainly don't want to deal with the masses questioning my every move.

          I really don't think anyone who wants to be head of state of a nation can be completely sane.

    • You want to regulate this junk how?

      The problem with having the legislature cough up some law is the same problem you have when you are trying to drive a finishing nail with a sledge hammer. You want the finished product to be nice looking so you are driving small nails, but all you have is a sledge hammer so you beat the stuffing out of what you are driving the nail into and what you get looks like junk, because it is junk.

      Personally, I believe that capitalism already has a solution to this kind of thing

      • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Tuesday August 22, 2017 @12:34PM (#55063815)

        > I believe that capitalism already has a solution to this kind of thing, two actually. As a consumer, aware of this situation, you can choose another product... Or, if you have already purchased a product that is now known to be flawed and the manufacturer refuses to fix it because you don't like the new license terms, you can file a civil suit.

        The first requires that enough consumers are aware of the problem and willing to purchase selectively to result in products with the intentional flaws being unprofitable to produce.

        The second requires being willing to set your life aside to fight a corporation. You may win a small settlement up front, you may win a big one in 20 years... or you could ruin your life in the attempt.

        There's a shift in the marketplace happening, and consumers are being pushed back into a feudal system except that instead of land its consumer products and instead of lords its corporations. Same end result - you're not allowed to actually own anything and what you do have in your possession is only so at the whim of your 'lord'.

        That's something to be resisted, and it's better organized at the legislative level than continual boycotts and the occasional civil suit.

        • The second requires being willing to set your life aside to fight a corporation.

          I'm with you in that, generally speaking, the court system in the US is not a viable alternative unless you're wealthy or willing to take on a mind-altering amount of debt.

          However, there is an often-overlooked aspect of the court system that can still be of use to normal people: small claims. In small claims, you don't use lawyers, the filing fees are (relatively) small, and lots of large companies won't even bother to fight there, since they'll spend less just accepting the default judgement.

          The downside i

        • The second requires being willing to set your life aside to fight a corporation.

          Actually, thanks to greed-driven lawyers who love the phrase "class action", you can set them after the offending corporation.

          You won't make jack (at most a refund of the purchase price), but usually in such cases you caveat emptor , do a bit of research next time, and go buy something that doesn't suck.

          I mean, unless you laid out over $7.5k for the damned thing (above small-claims court costs in most US states), you consider it a hard lesson, but be asshole enough to sic the class-action legal crowd after

    • Unfettered capitalism is ultimately only slightly better for society than unfettered communism.

      I'd argue that ultimately they amount to the same thing.

      • >I'd argue that ultimately they amount to the same thing.

        Both end up as utterly corrupt with a small ruling elite oppressing the masses?

        • If a business own the means to production at large, then the megacorporation can utterly-destroy your country. Thus your government must bow to its whims for the sake of national security. This is no different from a government owning the means to production (socialism, not communism).
    • What a load of crap. You're comparing the possible loss of a speaker system to the starvation and murder of millions.

    • by e r ( 2847683 )

      Unfettered capitalism is ultimately only slightly better for society than unfettered communism. Large corporations can act as a single entity, while consumers are sufficiently segmented that in most cases coordination is unlikely.

      I have mixed feelings about this.
      I want to agree with you, especially the part about consumers being sufficiently segmented and thus uncoordinated.
      But then, if most of the people are acting in their own self interests, and the market goes in some given direction... then isn't that basically the same as saying that the maximum amount of people have had their needs satisfied even if it's not my own preference? The only thing left to do is to try and argue the masses out of it and perhaps they'll all agree t

      • > You want to get the government to force others to behave according to your wishes

        Actually, what I want is the government to represent the best interests of the population. In this case, by providing a single focus where change can be enacted.

        It's a lot easier to have people send a letter to their representative saying they don't want companies to be able to sell products and then alter them after the purchase without recourse than it is to get everyone to shop the same way when it seems all the major

        • by e r ( 2847683 )

          Actually, what I want is the government to represent the best interests of the population.

          1. Who decides what the best interests are? According to what standards?
          2. Aren't people already deciding what's in their best interests by either buying or ignoring this product?

          It's coordination, not coercion.

          What if I don't want to coordinate or I want to opt-out in a way that doesn't disturb those who do want to coordinate? Am I allowed to do that? If no then isn't it coercion?

          What if the law was simply that a company cannot alter EULAs or such agreements unilaterally?
          Would that be a reasonable compromise between our positions?

      • by suutar ( 1860506 )

        Remember, for people to act in their self interest they have to have information, and enough understanding to interpret it. The latter is not common these days, and as a result the former is also being allowed to slip by the wayside.

    • Based on actual history, the most likely result of your desired regulation of the market would be that they require everyone to buy only Sonos-style equipment and no longer allow any alternatives.

      Because the large corporation has real money on the line and "can act as a single entity, while consumers are sufficiently segmented that in most cases coordination is unlikely." (To quote you.)

      So yeah, instead of giving the government the power to decide based on the self-interest of politicians and bureaucrats wh

  • Bullet, meet foot.

  • Why would the device cease to function over time? It might just not accomodate any new formats or provide new features which would otherwise be available from the firmware updates. But it shouldn't the device still work with formats and features available at the time of manufacture? Is the Sonos really threatening to shut it down if you don't agree to their policy???
    • Why would the device cease to function over time? It might just not accomodate any new formats or provide new features which would otherwise be available from the firmware updates. But it shouldn't the device still work with formats and features available at the time of manufacture? Is the Sonos really threatening to shut it down if you don't agree to their policy???

      Probably they mean that the devices are no longer supported so when bugs get introduced, APIs change, get deprecated, etc, they will then start to fail. The devices themselves might not change but the servers that they have to communicate with probably will, and if Sonos stop testing with the old client firmware, or want to change something the over time that client won't be able to work with the server when the old API is switched off.

  • by Steve Jackson ( 4687763 ) on Tuesday August 22, 2017 @12:12PM (#55063621)
    DJI, Sonos, and Others think that FORCING you to comply with TOS and Privacy Terms, is a license to abuse customers and brick devices. VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLARS PEOPLE. Do NOT continue to buy from companies who do this. If you OWN a device, it should mean corporate suicide to "Threaten to Brick" those devices. Enough of this nonsense! If I truly own it, it should work until the materials fail from that use... Period!
  • Don't buy things that can be leveraged this way, not ever.

    Be sure to enjoy your class-action lawsuit, everyone.
    Also, enjoy potentially going bankrupt, Sonos. That's the kharma you get for being pricks and forcefully invading people's privacy.

    I think eventually the needle is going to swing back the other way, people are going to get sick and tired of shit like this, and there'll be a revolt, resulting in legislation prohibiting this sort of crap. Or at least I can hope.
  • I think the poster is looking at that statement wrong. " and over time the functionality of the product will decrease".

    Anytime I have not done updates on Sonos it just prevents *new* features, but it does not take away old ones. As long as you leave the controller and units on the same version you'll have the same level of functionality you always did unless a 3rd party changes their integration method. In which case you could lose access to that service, but that is because the Sonos would have required an

    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      Or because Sonos 'required' an update of integration to get rid of all the leeches that won't give them data access.

      • This.

        Sonos wants in on the whole "big data" gold rush. The advent of Big Data has been a huge step backward for us all.

    • by riffraff ( 894 )

      It is always possible for them to have built in code that checks the servers, and if it can't reach the servers after 90 days (or whatever), then start decreasing/removing functionality, until finally it doesn't work. Kind of like a deadman switch.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Tuesday August 22, 2017 @12:17PM (#55063663)
    It seems that Sonos is intentionally disabling a device after the sale. Sadly, I expect to see more of this type of ransom demands from manufacturers, not less.
  • by sarbonn ( 1796548 ) on Tuesday August 22, 2017 @12:21PM (#55063703) Homepage Journal
    I love it when a company gives me all the information I need before I decide to buy one of their products. Knowing they're a "do things our way, or take the highway" kind of company allows me to switch to a higher gear and continue on down the highway.
    • Yes, I have to admit, I did appreciate this. Sonos' statement made it very clear what sort of company they are: they view their customers with a measure of contempt.

      I very much thank them for making their stance clear, and I wish the other companies who feel the same would be equally upfront about it.

      • Check out Flair [flair.co]. Not because you should buy one, but just look at their pitch. APIs, works with any system, integrate with other vendors's products... for a while, they had up on the main page that you could replace their firmware with your own custom firmware, but that seems to have not had much marketing impact and been removed as a statement.

        I still say we need an OpenIoT standard [github.com], and I'm not the only one who's tried to come up with such a thing.

        My big focus is security: I want every IoT device

  • Bi-directional? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Tuesday August 22, 2017 @12:24PM (#55063727)
    I always wonder when I see these sort of changes, or billing changes whether the user can send their own terms to the company and if they don't respond assume the terms are accepted.
  • Why do people buy this stuff when it's so easy to set up an UPnP home audio system based on open source components ?

    • Because lots of people want things they can just plug in and make work, and they're willing to give up a ludicrous amount of freedom and money in order to avoid even the small amount of effort needed to install and configure their own systems.

  • And this is a prime example of why cloud based services are a shit idea. Personally, I think that it is foolish to rely on any cloud based service where other options exist.

    Look at all those stupid nest smoke alarms going off after a FW update was pushed.
    Or this recent fiasco with all the people using an internet connected door lock and having a bricked unit thanks to an update.
    Or photobucket decided that it's no longer OK to link to your photos from other sites after you were doing it for years and was lit

    • Exactly.

      There are certain terms that strongly hint that you probably don't want to buy the product or service. "Cloud" or "internet connected" is among them.

  • by Swave An deBwoner ( 907414 ) on Tuesday August 22, 2017 @12:38PM (#55063863)
    This need not be viewed as some dastardly plot by an evil corporation.

    Maybe they just want to be able to use the speakers as microphones once in a while to catch up on what you've been talking about lately.
  • On the sunny side of things, I appreciate a company that informs the public of it's poor product life cycle decisions. [Scratching Sonos off the list of manufacturers to buy from.] Well then, onto other manufacturers that produce better goods.
  • Sonos is now removed from my list of potential sound system.

  • This is FUD. Sonos has been working on allowing voice assistant (Siri / Alexa) integration with their speakers, and it's a well known fact they're going to start releasing speakers with microphones. The fact that this is now covered in their privacy policy is not surprising. Other changes include sending error information to Sonos, and sharing data about your usage with tie in services (as in, use your spotify account with your sonos, and sonos will need to talk to spotify).

    While it would be great if Son

  • Anyone that buys Sonos or other "smart speakers" are unfortunately ignorant. Buy real speakers and add a Bluetooth 4.2 dongle for $20, or a google Chromecast Audio Puck for $35.

    My fucking speakers don't need a TOS.

  • But the cloud is supposed to make everything awesome and great, right? Right?

    *crickets*

    Yet another example of why I refuse to indiscriminately jump on the "cloud" bandwagon, no matter how many people (mostly bloggers, it seems) accuse me of being a dinosaur. Regardless of consumer protection laws, I simply don't want to have to put myself in a position where I have to risk dealing with nonsense like this.

  • WTF people? From the comments, apparently most of you are not Sonos users. I have several grand already invested and love their system because it does sound great and generally just works.

    If you were an owner you would already know:
    A) Sonos updates their firmware and and apps all the time (and breaks shit, loses favorites, etc etc)
    B) Once one component is updated EVERYTHING has to be updated so not much chance of delaying accepting the terms.
    C) Whatever streaming service you
  • is not a selling point for any piece of any kind of hardware. How many tech entrepreneurs structure their companies to prevent investors from leveraging the installed customer base to maximize quarterly profits the moment the founder is no longer there to hold them back?

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