It was only a matter of time before the Internet of Things caught up with sex toys and led to products like apps that remotely control vibrators from an Apple or Android device via a Bluetooth connection.
And now, one of those apps is accused of being a little too connected to its users.
Standard Innovation—the maker of the We-Vibe vibrator and accompanying app—is the subject of a federal privacy lawsuit. The suit, which seeks class-action status, claims the We-Vibe vibrator app chronicles how often and how long consumers use the sex toy and sends that data to the company’s Canadian servers. The suit says that the app also monitors “the selected vibration settings,” the vibrator’s battery life, and the vibrator’s “temperature” with consumer consent. The data, along with the person’s e-mail address, is stored on the vibrator-maker’s Canadian servers, according to the lawsuit. (PDF) The app also has a “connect lover” feature, enabling partners to exchange text messages, engage in video chats, and “control a paired We-Vibe” device.
The suit was brought by an Illinois resident going by the pseudonym “N.P.” The suit said N.P. paid $130 for the We-Vibe Rave vibrator and has used it “on several occasions.”
“Though the data collected from its customers’ smartphones is undoubtedly valuable to the company, Defendant’s conduct demonstrates a wholesale disregard for consumer privacy rights and violated numerous state and federal laws,” the lawsuit says.
The suit alleges breaches of Illinois consumer fraud laws and the federal Wiretap Act:
By designing and programming We-Connect to contemporaneously monitor, intercept, and transmit the contents of electronic communications that Plaintiff and the Surveillance Class members sent to their We-Vibe devices from their smartphones, including those containing operational instructions regarding their desired vibration intensity level and desired vibration mode or pattern as alleged herein, Defendant intentionally intercepted and/or endeavored to intercept the contents of “electronic communications,” in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2511(1).
Standard Innovation customers, according to the suit, “would not have purchased a We-Vibe in the first place had they known that it would monitor, collect, and transmit their Usage Information.”
Here is the company’s full statement:
At this time, we have not been served and we cannot comment on rumor or speculation. Should we receive additional information, we will review it thoroughly and comment at the appropriate time.
There’s been no allegation that any of our customers’ data has been compromised. However, given the intimate nature of our products, the privacy and security of our customers’ data is of utmost importance to our company. Accordingly, we take concerns about customer privacy and our data practices seriously.
Over the course of the last few weeks, we have taken steps to further enhance the data security and privacy measures for our product offering. As part of this effort, we have engaged external security and privacy experts to conduct a thorough review of our data practices with a view of further strengthening data protection and privacy for our customers. We are also committed to better communicating our data practices.
We are updating the We-Connect app later this month, and the update will include new in-app communication regarding our privacy and data practices and a new feature for consumers to control how their data may be used.