Smart Sex Toy Company Agrees to Pay $3 Million in ‘Intimate Data’ Collection Lawsuit

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By Kari Paul | 7:58 am, March 14, 2017

These sex toy customers are happy, but not for the reason you might think.

A sex toy company has agreed to pay customers up to $10,000 each in a class action lawsuit it settled in federal court last week after its connected vibrators got a little too close for comfort. An Illinois woman sued the parent company, Standard Innovation, for secretly collecting intimate details about its customers’ use of the We-Vibe through the accompanying app, which allows users to control the device remotely and customize its features.

According to the lawsuit filed in the North District of Illinois Eastern Division District Court, the We-Connect app was transmitting information including dates and times of use as well as vibration mode and pattern to the company’s servers along with personally-identifiable email addresses without notifying customers.

Standard Innovation, which is based in Ontario, Canada, will pay $4 million Canadian dollars ($2.9 million) and is now required to collect only non-identifiable information in aggregate form and inform customers it is doing so. Customers who used the app to control the We-Vibe device before Sept. 26, 2016 are eligible for up to $10,000 in fees whereas those who simply bought a device are eligible to receive up to $199 each.

Standard Innovation told MarketWatch in a statement it is “pleased to have reached a fair and reasonable settlement in this matter”:

“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 enhance the app. With this settlement, Standard Innovation can continue to focus on making new, innovative products for our customers.”

The court case highlighted how technology is woven into our lives, with devices from fitness trackers and water bottles to smart refrigerators — and more — capable of logging data on our activities. Now, with even the most personal devices app-enabled, companies and consumers are facing new questions about privacy practices.

OhMiBod, another sex-toy company that offers connected devices, previously suspended all data collection following the law suit to reexamine its policies. Co-founder Brian Dunham said OhMiBod has never transmitted data connected to personally-identifiable information like email addresses or names, as We-Vibe has been accused of doing, but the lawsuit still prompted the company to be proactive about its policies.

“We have already had the internal discussion to not transmit anything so that users feel comfortable,” he said. “As we make changes to the app, if we decide to reinstate those types of features then we do so on an explicitly opt-in basis within the app so the users really understand what we are collecting and what it is used for.”

This article was originally published in Marketwatch.

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