A Canadian sex toy manufacturer, Standard Innovation, is being sued by an Illinois woman known only as N.P. for “monitoring and recording” her “intimate details… in real time” while using the device.
According to a report from Vocativ, the woman first purchased a We-Vibe Rave “smart” vibrator from an Illinois retailer in May for $130. The We-Vibe connects to the user’s smartphone, allowing them to customize their experience and unlock “bonus” vibration patterns that can only be triggered by linking the vibrator to the smartphone app, including “cha-cha-cha” and “crest.” The app can also be used to create “playlists” and can even pair with another user over the internet, allowing partners to “connect and play together from anywhere in the world.”
N.P. bought her We-Vibe Rave and used it “several times,” until a pair of hackers known as “followr” and “g0ldfisk” told an audience at the Defcon hacking convention that smart vibrators actually gather a lot of information about their users – and transmit it back home; they discovered the volume of data when they were looking for security vulnerabilities in the device to exploit. According to Motherboard, smart sex toys have been hacked before, and the data they were broadcasting collected.
After the conference, a spokesperson for Standard Innovation indicated that they would clarify their terms and conditions to make it more plain that “mostly anonymized” data was being collected for “market research,” and would offer vibrator end-users a chance to pull out. Standard Innovation followed this up with a post detailing their “commitment to customer privacy and security” on their website.
N.P. wasn’t satisfied. Or possibly it was just too little, too late. According to Courthouse News, she filed a five-complaint suit against Standard Innovation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois under the Federal Wiretap Act and the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute, in addition to alleging consumer fraud, unjust enrichment, and intrusion upon seclusion – all as a class-action lawsuit potentially representing tens of thousands of customers. The complaint indicates that the company neglected to mention “that it transmits the collected private usage information to its servers in Canada.”
“Intimate details [are revealed] including the date and time of each use, the vibration intensity level selected by the user, the vibration mode or pattern selected by the user, and incredibly, the email address of We-Vibe customers.”
“[Standard Innovation’s] conduct demonstrates a wholesale disregard for consumer privacy rights and violated numerous state and federal laws.”
N.P. is seeking both an immediate injunction for Standard Innovation to plug the leak and an unspecified amount in punitive damages.
Standard Innovation says that the information was collected purely for market research and product development, and say that the information was both protected and not sold for profit.
“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.”
“This is one of the most incredible invasions of privacy we’ve ever dealt with,” said Eve-Lynn Rapp, one of the attorneys with Edelson PC in Chicago, who are handling the case.
As of their last comment, Standard Innovation indicated that they could not comment on the suit itself as they had not yet been served.
[Featured Image via Don Crothers]