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PrivacyVibrator maker to pay out $3 million for tracking users' sexual activity

Published 20 March 2017

We-Vibe, the sex toy maker, has agreed to pay customers up to $7,600 each selling them a “smart vibrator” which tracked the customers’ sexual habits without their knowledge. A class-action lawsuit was filed against in an Illinois federal court against We-Vibe’s parent company, Standard Innovation. Standard Innovation has been ordered to pay a total of $3 million to owners of the vibrator who had also used the app associated with the vibrators (the tracking of customers was done by the app).

We-Vibe, the sex toy maker, has agreed to pay customers up to $7,600 each selling them a “smart vibrator” which tracked the customers’ sexual habits without their knowledge.

A class-action lawsuit was filed against in an Illinois federal court against We-Vibe’s parent company, Standard Innovation. Standard Innovation has been ordered to pay a total of $3 million to owners of the vibrator who had also used the app associated with the vibrators (the tracking of customers was done by the app). Customers who purchased both the vibrator and the app will receive $7,600 each. Customers who only purchased the vibrator will be paid the cost of the vibrator — $125 – plus a $74 penalty, for a total of $199.

Forbes reports that the We-Vibe 4 Plus is a Bluetooth-connected vibrator, which may be controlled with a separate app. The company markets the device as a way to “allow couples to keep their flame ignited – together or apart.”

The app-enabled controls allow the vibrator to be activated and controlled remotely – for example, allowing a partner on phone or video call to interact with the device.

The app, however, had many security flaws, allowing anyone within a Bluetooth range to gain control of the device.

Also, unbeknownst to the customers, the app collected information and sent it back to Standard Innovation, so the company learned about the temperature of the device, the vibration intensity, the number of times it was in use, etc. – thus revealing intimate information about the customer’s sexual habits.

Two New Zealand-based hackers, “goldfisk” and “follower,” demonstrated the security flaws with the We-Vibe device at the Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas in 2016. The two argued that the problem was a “serious issue”: “unwanted activation of a vibrator is potentially sexual assault,” follower said.

Forbesnotes that given the $3 million total settlement and the need to pay various legal fees first, most We-Vibe owners are likely to receive somewhat less than the full $7,600.

Standard Innovation said in a statement: “At Standard Innovation we take customer privacy and data security seriously. We have enhanced our privacy notice, increased app security, provided customers [with] 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.”