A woman is suing her dildo manufacturer for knowing too much about when and how she uses it.
A few weeks ago, two researchers told the Defcon hacking convention audience that We-Vibe “smart” sex toys send a lot of data about their users back to the company that makes them. According to Courthouse News, one We-Viber took this news hard. A woman known only as “N.P.” filed a class action civil suit in a federal court in Illinois against Standard Innovation, which makes the We Vibe line of sex toys and corresponding app.
The smartphone app lets users “customize” their We-Vibe experience, unlock app-only “bonus” vibration modes such as the “cha-cha-cha” and the “crest,” and “create unlimited custom playlists,” according to the product’s website. In the suit, N.P. says she bought a We-Vibe in May and used it “several times” until she realized that it was sending data about her usage practices back to Standard Innovation’s servers, including when she used it, which vibration settings she used, and her email address.
The two researchers, known only as “followr” and “g0ldfisk,” said they discovered the amount of data the app transmitted back to Standard Innovation when looking for security flaws (not an unheard of possibility when it comes to internet-enabled sex toys). After the presentation, a spokesperson for the company told CNET it would “clarify” its terms and conditions to make it more obvious that the app could transmit data, which was “mostly anonymized” was being used for “market research.” It would also add the ability to opt-out. The company also posted a “commitment to customer privacy and security” on its website.
That was either not good enough for N.P., or it came too late. And given what information the We-Vibe collects, it’s easy to see why she would be particularly sensitive here. She’s accusing Standard Innovation of consumer fraud, unjust enrichment, intrusion upon seclusion, and violating the Federal Wiretap Act and the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute, and asking for punitive damages.
Update, September 13: After publication, We-Vibe told Vocativ that it could not comment on the lawsuit because it had not yet received a copy of it, but said it was not aware of any instances where customer data had been compromised and that “the privacy and security of our customers’ data is of utmost importance.” It is also “committed to better communicating our data practices.”