I used to love my Sonos - Privacy complaint


Userlevel 1
I have advanced multiple sclerosis and depend on a wheelchair to get around. When I bought several pieces of Sonos kit a few years ago, they freed me from having to put on records or cds and gave me freedom to listen to all my music in exquisite quality with a few taps on my phone without getting up. Casting is such a joy for people in my position. Sadly now Sonos have ruined that experience by turning its back on its existing user base. Now we have to register our products, agree to their version of privacy and wait patiently while they consign our existing kit to obsolesence. They even admit this:
https://www.zdnet.com/google-amp/article/sonos-accept-new-privacy-policy-speakers-cease-to-function/
Thanks Sonos

14 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +19
As you are on this forum you have already registered. Sonos have a clear privacy policy and they commit to never selling your data.

Sonos is trying to move with the times through voice control, airplay compliance etc. To do this a registration process is pretty much a must have in order to ensure all Sonos equipment in a household is running on the correct and same versions.

Other than registration required for initial set up, which has been the case for at least the last 5 years, the Sonos system has stayed the same. ALL players still work and the only thing retired has been the CR100 controller. In the same time more music service and control option have been added.

On balance personally i think the pros outweigh the cons.
Userlevel 1
You are wrong. Although I have registered to be on this forum, I have never registered my kit with Sonos. As far as I am concerned, Sonos has not improved since I bought it. I just want to cast quality music to quality speakers. I actively do not want creepy voice control.
Userlevel 7
Badge +19
You can still do that, you don't have to use the new features. You do have to register if you want to use the latest app or add new kit though. Evidently that's progress 😞 Personally I don't like to register every product I have, but I accept it for nearly everything i do on the internet these days. I trust Sonos more than most to adhere to their policy.

The app situation is made worse by the likes of Apple only allowing a single version on their app store so there is no opportunity to remain in a version that does not have the new features.
Userlevel 1
If the Sonos app for iPhone let people control the kit without the update loop, I'd be ok. As it is, I have my Sonos speakers, Connect, Android and PC apps on 8.5 and these all work well. Annoyingly, my daughter, who has Apple kit, is locked out of the Sonos.
Userlevel 7
Badge +20
Hi, PaulJones. I appreciate your stance on this, however, your products have always been registered with us. This, amongst other purposes, is for warranty tracking and theft prevention. The only difference is, as we renew and update our policies to match global legislation, as well as our existing and prospective partners, we occasionally change the processes slightly. This includes having you agree to updated terms and the additional registration you are referring to.

In this day and age, it pays to value privacy. However, I would venture to say that whilst there are companies which are malignant in that respect, ours is not one of them. I would rather like to invite you to read our privacy terms, if you have not already. You may even wish to cross-reference ours with, for instance, your e-mail provider or mobile phone manufacturer - for the sake of comparison.
You may find that ours are rather innocuous. Privacy is a genuine concern, though it is a topic writhe with postulation.
Be there anything we can do to alleviate your concerns, please do let us know.
PaulJones, the answer to your hashtag "What does Sonos do with my data" is here:

https://blog.sonos.com/en/sonos-privacy/

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. And we will not sell your data. We’ve never sold it before, and we won’t sell it in the future.


This is a binding statement enforceable by the FTC (in the US).


Details on what is collected:

https://www.sonos.com/en-us/legal/privacy#using-products

Functional Data:

Certain categories of the data that we collect are absolutely necessary for your Sonos System to perform its basic functions in a secure way and you will not be able to opt out from this data collection, sharing and/or processing (“Functional Data”).

We collect:

Registration data. This data includes your email address, location, language preference, Product serial number, IP address, and Sonos account login information (as described above).

System data. This data includes things like Product type, controller device type, operating system of controller, software version information, content source (audio line in), signal input (for example, whether your TV outputs a specific audio signal such as Dolby to your Sonos system), information about wifi antennas, audio settings (such as equalization or stereo pair), Product orientation, room names you have assigned to your Sonos Product, whether your product has been tuned using Sonos Trueplay technology, and error information.

Why we collect Functional Data: We collect this information to help ensure that your Products are working properly, to provide you customer support, to honor your audio preferences, and to guide product improvement and customer support decisions.


The following data collection is entirely optional.

Additional Usage Data:

In order to improve your experience with Sonos Products and to offer better Products and Services that meet the needs and expectations of our customers, we collect the following additional usage data (“Additional Usage Data”). You can opt out of sharing this data by following the steps listed here.

We collect:

Performance Information. This includes things like temperature of your Product, Wi-Fi information such as signal strength, what music services you have connected to your Sonos system (including, for some services, your login username – but not password – for such service), information about how often you use the Sonos app versus another control mechanism, flow of interactions within the Sonos app, how often you use the physical controls on the unit, and location data when the Sonos app is in use, and duration of Sonos Product use.

Activity Information. This includes duration of music service use, Product or room grouping information; command information such as play, pause, change volume, or skip tracks; information about track, playlist, or station container data; and Sonos playlist or Sonos favorites information; each correlated to individual Sonos Products.

Why: We collect this information so that we can help ensure Sonos Products are properly functioning, determine what types of Product or feature improvements would most delight our customers, and help predict and prevent potential problems with Sonos Products.



They also collect audio in the form of voice commands and Trueplay input (if you use them), however this audio data is only processed, it is not stored.

As you can see, Sonos is open and honest with what data is collected and how it is used, and they give a easy way to opt-out of all data collection except that which is necessary to operate and/or diagnose your system. As suggested, compare this to the Privacy Policies of your cell phone or e-mail provider and you will see just how innocuous it is.

And please note again: Your Sonos devices have always been registered to an e-mail account, you could not have set up your system without one. Except for voice data, the data collection has always been going on, the Policy was only changed to add the voice/3rd party control section and clarify what is collected. The only recent change in the process was to verify your account credentials so your system is safe from intrusion from the outside, and to comply with ever changing privacy laws. This is for your protection.
Userlevel 1
One of my big problems with updating is that my working system will be broken by the update - this has happened to me on several occasions most notably when my HTC One phone was destroyed by an update and the company failed to reimburse me because my phone was over (just over in fact) two years old.

Another of my problems is that a function on my system, on which I depend, will be lost in the redesign process. This happened when Apple iTunes moved to version 12 losing whole rafts of functionality.

A third problem is that I get very proficient at operating a piece of software and have more important things to do than learn everybody's new interface every time they're minded to redesign it. Life is short.

Finally, while I accept that Sonos are more mindful of my data than most, registration pains me for a variety of reasons including privacy and ad targetting. Today, I've been inundated with Sonos adverts as I move through the various apps I use because I've been looking for solutions to the Sonos update loop. I don't like that - I want to be as unobserved as possible though I realise governments track my every move. I find it creepy.

So I never auto-update anything though I accept that updating in this case is necessary if I want to go on using Sonos. I like the Sonos hardware very much - it's incredible the quality these little speakers produce and I love casting music from all over the place without having to get up.
Understood.

It's been shown in many threads how to turn off update nags, and how to turn off the advertising. Unless you're adding a new Sonos device, there's really (currently) no need to do an update.
I suspect ad targeting has nothing to do with registration and everything to do with search engines using search input to target ads. That's what keeps the lights on at Google et al.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
PaulJones, We saw the same searches converting to advertising happening when we used Google's search. We switched to DuckDuckGo and now we don't see every search we do turned into ad fodder outside the search page.

I agree with the creepy voice recognition, I do wish there was a mechanical switch to turn it off or that Sonos offered an exception to their warranty policy to allow the wires to be snipped.

Something you can do to reduce the possibility of errors when updating Sonos is to have your router's DHCP server assign each Sonos device a reserved/static address. It is usually a quick process but it may be a bit aggravating due to your MS, maybe get a friend or family member to help? It only needs done once, you would only need to do it again if you change routers or update it if you add a new Sonos component.

Turning off the update reminders will help with them being bothersome but it won't protect you from having someone with a newer version of the controller on their device updating your system if you give them access to your WiFi. Actually blocking updates is more difficult but I think some of the folks in the CR-100 topics might have figured out how to do that.

I think my spouse agrees with every point you make aside from the registration, we had to register our system back in 2000 something and she fussed about it then. The privacy policy seemed pretty decent and the trade-off between having the Sonos or trying other solutions tipped the scales and we went with Sonos.
Badge
Pauljones

This may amuse you....

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/04/10/sonos_privacy_complaint_ico/

I think this is the link to george Gardiner's firm: http://www.gardinerlaw.co.uk/index.php/contact-us

I am going to contact him - it is completely immoral to for sonos to start bricking equipment already paid for unless personal data is retrospectively supplied.

Further Sonos has disabled its privacy email...

Subject: registration
Sent: 22/06/2019 20:05

The following recipient(s) cannot be reached:

'privacy@sonos.com.' on 22/06/2019 20:05
503 5.5.1 RCPT first. z76sm6625090wmc.16 - gsmtp


The whole story that you must be logged in and data must be collected is completely disproved by 10 years of use without the data being explicitly linked to me and my account.
Userlevel 4
Badge +6
.

Subject: registration
Sent: 22/06/2019 20:05

The following recipient(s) cannot be reached:

'privacy@sonos.com.' on 22/06/2019 20:05
503 5.5.1 RCPT first. z76sm6625090wmc.16 - gsmtp


Try that email again, probably just a temporary technical issue.

You can use a device like a pihole to block all Sonos snooping if you are paranoid, Google will tell you how to set it up.
Badge
Peagle

Thanks for the tip.

It is slightly ironic- a tech company with a tech hitch. I bought my first sonos 10 years ago. Everytime that was an "upgrade" I would have to reinstall the whole system again as the upgrades completely disabled the system. So I stopped upgrading - but after a period with no upgrade Sonos would stop the system working by disenabling all the controllers. Sonos denied this happened - until they admitted it was a problem. In the modern parlence they gaslighted me. Once they admitted it - they fixed it - and because the quality is generally good (or as good as i needed0 I then felt I could some more units. And now we have this...more fool me.

It is not that I am paranoid. What annoys me is the principle of the situation - whereby Sonos will deliberately disable my system if I dont provide them with personal data. It is not much above the local gangster kicking in my windows if I dont tell them my name. I also think sonos (or the retailer) should disclose on purchase that you need to be continuely logged in to control the system. As far as i am concerned is I am buying hardware. It now seems i am buying SaaS with a peice of hardware to enable it, The proposition is completely different.

People will have different veiws on this. I dont like bullies. And sonos is again acting like a bully.
Userlevel 4
Badge +6

......
It is not that I am paranoid. ......

People will have different veiws on this. I dont like bullies. And sonos is again acting like a bully.


I didn't mean paranoid in a negative way, its wise to be paranoid about your personal data.

I'm not going to defend Sonos policies, I'll leave that to others, they will be along shortly I'm sure.

But I would encourage you to read the policy (if you haven't already) as it explains what data you can and can't opt out of among other things.

Reply