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I want to buy a pair of Bluetooth earbuds like these for use with my phone: https://www.amazon.com/Wireless-Bluetooth-Canceling-Headphones-Earphones/dp/B09P38XS9M?th=1

I want to know if devices like this potentially have the ability or have been reported to undermine personal privacy in any way, like the tech companies are used to. Precisely, can these earbuds be used to track a user's location? Or send any data that is being processed by its software to their vendor? Please assume that I trust my phone with all data placed in it.

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  • Welcome to the community. You should check this out: foundation.mozilla.org/en/privacynotincluded Sep 5, 2022 at 20:39
  • You can trust your phone and the data on it while it also tracks your physical location. Like tracking your phone physically in space by tracking its wifi emanation. Are you considering that as part of the situation?
    – schroeder
    Sep 5, 2022 at 21:02
  • @schroeder I recognize this and its the reason why I probably should have dismissed location-tracking concerns altogether. Whatever, I can enable aeroplane mode wherever I want. Wi-Fi signal tracking falls out of scope for me because it requires a lot of dedication from someone to do this, certainly less than cell carrier tracking
    – CurtisB
    Sep 6, 2022 at 10:11
  • @SirMuffington the site looks like a massive rant on making a false sense of privacy. This is what they tell about Skype. "Skype has had some privacy concerns in the past, most notably when it came to light that Microsoft, which owns Skype, allowed contract workers in China to listen in to Skype calls with "no security measures" in place. It has since changed this practice, but it is a good reminder that even companies with decent security practices can handle your private data and conversations sloppily." They don't mention PRISM at all
    – CurtisB
    Sep 6, 2022 at 10:22
  • @CurtisB good point, they forgot to mention it. But as an initial research vector it ain't that bad - it even has articles and other useful stuffed summarized. Sep 6, 2022 at 15:04

2 Answers 2

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Bluetooth is a communication protocol that operates within a specified range of the radio frequency spectrum. Simply, it transmits data to and from devices. Bluetooth, itself, is not gathering information about you in the way you ask. If that were being done, it would be done by the application, or the system in which the app is running. Bluetooth simply transmits this data.

So the question becomes, are your headphones collecting information about you? Not really any realistic way to know, short of analyzing the source code and seeing what is collected and transmitted.

To answer your question of does Bluetooth assure privacy? No. Bluetooth traffic can be sniffed, just like any other radio frequency. Whether the data is readable, i.e. encrypted or not, is again reliant on the application transmitting the data.

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Bluetooth devices connect to the phone. To go past the phone and to the internet would require an app on the phone. So, the question becomes, do you need to use an app to use the headphones?

But then it's not about the headphones at all, but about the app.

So, the answer to what you've asked is simply, "no". Bluetooth devices can't simply capture, process, store, information then somehow find a route to the internet to broadcast.

But there are other, bigger issues than the device to worry about.

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