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Sex Toy Fail: Vibrator Company To Pay Millions Over Privacy Concerns

Vibrator company We-Vibe is forced to pay millions after claims that it secretly tracked its users. Imagine owning a sex toy and finding out that it revealed your intimate activities and sexual habits.

The makers of We-Vibe reached a $3.73 million class-action settlement with users who claimed the company was collecting sensitive information on how and when the sex toy was used. As part of the settlement, the company has agreed to destroy the personal information that it collected through the app. They also agreed to stop collecting any more data in the future, according to the National Post. The company has also agreed to pay $2.97 million to the affected users, reports NPR.

We-Vibe 4 Plus has a line of sex toys that can be paired with the We-Connect smartphone app for hands-free and remote control use. The Bluetooth-enabled vibrators connect to the “We-Connect app,” so it can be controlled from a smartphone. It allows the user to control the settings from anywhere in the room, as long as it’s within reach of the device. But, according to the lawsuit, the app saves the date, time, usage details, and registered users’ email addresses to the company’s servers without their knowledge.

Standard Innovations, the Canadian-based manufacturer, argues that the company did not do anything wrong in the settlement finalized on Monday, March 13. When the app launched in 2014, users were concerned that the sex toys could be vulnerable to a hacking. However, the lawsuit does not address a potential hacking. Instead, it’s focused on the concerns that the company was tracking the users’ sex lives.

The lawsuit was filed by two women who discovered that personal information was sent to Standard Innovation’s servers whenever the sex toy was used. During a presentation at last year’s Def Con hacking conference from August 2016, the hackers revealed that Standard Innovation received data on the vibrator’s temperature and intensity controls.

At the time, the app claimed that it collected data for “market research purposes, so that we can better understand what settings and levels of intensity are most enjoyed.” The women then filed the lawsuit against Standard Innovation one month after the Def Con presentation, stating the company failed to “notify” users of the data collection.

One of the women said she purchased the $130 We-Vibe Rave and installed the We-Connect app on her phone. But she was never informed that the device was tracking her usage and collected her personal information, according to the lawsuit.

Under this settlement, people who purchased the We-Vibe device before Sept. 26, 2016, and used it in conjunction with the app will receive up to $10,000. Those who used it without the app will receive $199.

According to the Chicago Tribune, about 300,000 people purchased the We-Vibe devices covered under the settlement. In addition, about 100,000 downloaded and used the app, according to a memo filed with the settlement agreement.

Some minor changes to the settlement have been put in place since We-Vibe updated its We-Connect app and privacy notice back in September, according to spokesperson Denny Alexander.

“At Standard Innovation we take customer privacy and data security seriously. We have enhanced our privacy notice, increased app security, provided customers more choice in the data they share, and we continue to work with leading privacy and security experts to improve the app,” he said.

In a statement released to MarketWatch, Standard Innovation said that it’s “pleased to have reached a fair and reasonable settlement in this matter,” stating that it will have more of a transparent privacy policy in the coming future.

[Featured Image by RomanR/Shutterstock]

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