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‘Smart’ Vibrator Company Will Settle Privacy Lawsuit

A cautionary tale for sex toy makers

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Standard Innovation
Dec 29, 2016 at 2:00 PM ET

Though it was marketed as a “smart” device, the We-Vibe sex toy created by sexual wellness manufacturer Standard Innovation proved to have a pretty dumb feature: the collection of private user data about the state of its users’ private parts. Now, the company may settle a lawsuit over this practice.

After one unnamed woman learned about the collection of data, she filed a class action lawsuit.  “Unbeknownst to its customers, however, Defendant designed We-Connect to (i) collect and record highly intimate and sensitive data regarding consumers’ personal We-Vibe use, including the date and time of each use and the selected vibration settings, and (ii) transmit such usage data—along with the user’s personal email address—to its servers in Canada,” it said. It argued that the couples sex toy, deemed one of the year’s most absurd internet-connected devices this year by Vocativ, had been in violation of the Wiretap Act, a law that forbids the intercept or usage of electronic communications.

According to new federal court documents reported by the Consumerist, the two parties have agreed on terms for a settlement to take place early next year, but there were no further details provided. (Standard Innovation’s offices are closed for the winter holidays and could not be reached for further comment.)

Since the lawsuit was first filed, We-Vibe updated its app and its privacy notice in order to let users connect to the device’s app anonymously, opt-out of sharing data, and more clearly inform them of how data is collected and used. Hackers of the Private Play Accord group also created software for We Vibe users to personally block the transmission of their most private data on their own.

According to a statement from Standard Innovation, the 2 million-plus users of this app were having their data collected for “market research purposes, so that we can better understand what settings and levels of intensity are most enjoyed.”

Surely they now understand that unwitting data collection is something of a turn-off.