For those betrayed even by their sex toys, a reward awaits.
An Ottawa-based company has agreed to compensate owners of its Bluetooth-enabled high-end vibrator, We-Vibe, for collecting data on how they were using the devices without their consent.
The company, Standard Innovation, settled a class-action lawsuit last week in Illinois federal court. It will pay owners of the devices up to $199. Those who downloaded and used the associated app, which allows long-distance lovers with smartphones to control the intensity of the pulse, can collect up to $10,000.
Standard Innovation didn’t make explicit to owners of any of five varieties of We-Vibe vibrators that it was collecting real-time data on how the devices were used.
The settlement is the latest sign that manufacturers of everyday devices – “smart” things – can sometimes gather information about usage without informing consumers.
Last month, the U.S. manufacturer Vizio agreed to a $2.2 million settlement to resolve a complaint by the Federal Trade Commission that the company was tracking what owners of 11 million branded smart TVs were watching without telling them, then selling the information to advertisers.
The vibrators in question are We-Vibe Classic, We-Vibe 4-Plus, We-Vibe 4-Plus App Only, Rave by We-Vibe and Nova by We-Vibe.
The company says the devices allow distant partners to feel connected.
“Tease and please with custom vibes you create. Turn on your lover when you connect and play together from anywhere in the world,” an app advertisement embedded in the 18-page complaint says. “Build excitement with secure in-app voice, chat and video.”
A settlement notice to consumers says Standard Innovation “denies any wrongdoing and maintains that its data collection practices comply with the law.”
The mediated settlement of the class-action suit, filed by a plaintiff identified only as N.P. – who charged that the company collected “intimate private details about their sexual behavior that they believed were confidential” – does not establish which side in the lawsuit should prevail but only settles the matter. A second plaintiff, identified as P.S., was added to the lawsuit on Feb. 27.
The company said it was satisfied with the “fair and reasonable settlement.”
“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,” the company said in a statement.
As part of the settlement, Standard Innovation agreed to set aside 5 million Canadian dollars ($3.7 million U.S.) to compensate those who felt wronged by its practices.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs will collect up to a third of the compensation sum.
Standard Innovation also agreed to destroy any data previously collected through its We-Connect vibrator app.