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Sex toy maker agrees to stop collecting intimate data

It's also paying a lawsuit settlement.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
March 14, 2017
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Standard Innovation

It can be quite costly to violate the privacy of sex toy users, apparently. Standard Innovation has settled a lawsuit accusing the company of collecting "highly intimate and sensitive data" from its We-Vibe vibrators without their owners' knowledge and sending it to the company's servers in Canada. The agreement will create a $3.75 million US ($5.06 million Canadian) compensation fund that will pay up to $10,000 US to buyers who used the companion We-Connect app, and $199 US to those who just used the vibrator. More importantly, the company has agreed to both stop collecting sensitive info and to purge the info it has collected until now.

Standard Innovation didn't have to admit wrongdoing as part of the deal, but it stresses that it has rethought both its privacy policy (which is now more explicit about data collection) and its app requirements. You no longer have to register your device or provide identifying info when using the mobile app, and you can opt out of sharing any anonymous data. Opt-in policies are usually better for privacy, but the moves should still help assuage customers worried that someone might be studying their most sensitive activities.

The lawsuit underscores the mounting concerns over connected devices and the information they share. We-Vibe and We-Connect were only supposed to be sending data for the sake of product improvement and diagnostics, but users were neither told about that nor reassured that their info wasn't going to be sold to advertisers or otherwise misused. Companies increasingly have little choice but to treat privacy as a significant concern, if not a primary concern -- if they don't, the consequences can be severe.

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