Woman launches lawsuit against Canadian vibrator maker

Woman launches lawsuit against Canadian vibrator maker
First posted: Wednesday, September 14, 2016 12:00 PM EDT | Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2016 05:46 PM EDT
TORONTO — An American woman has launched a proposed class-action lawsuit against the Canadian-owned maker of a smartphone-enabled vibrator, alleging the company sells products that secretly collect and transmit “highly sensitive” information.
The Chicago-area woman, identified in a statement of claim only as N.P., has made her complaints against Standard Innovation (US) Corp., which is owned by the Ottawa-based Standard Innovation Corp, over a “high-end” vibrator called the We-Vibe.
The lawsuit, which was filed earlier this month in an Illinois court, explains that to fully operate the device, users download the We-Connect app on a smartphone, allowing them and their partners remote control over the Bluetooth-equipped vibrator’s settings.
In particular, the app’s “connect lover” feature — which promises a secure connection — allows partners to exchange text messages, conduct video chats and control a paired We-Vibe device, the woman’s statement of claim said.
The woman at the centre of the suit bought her vibrator in May for US$130, downloaded the app that connects to it and used it on several occasions.
“(N.P.) would never have purchased a We-Vibe had she known that in order to use its full functionality, (Standard Innovation) would monitor, collect and transmit her usage information through We-Connect,” the statement of claim said.
The suit alleges that unbeknownst to its customers, Standard Innovation designed the We-Connect app to collect and record intimate and sensitive data on use of the vibrator, including the date and time of each use as well as vibration settings.
It also alleges the usage data and the user’s personal email address was transmitted to the company’s servers in Canada.
The statement of claim alleges the company’s conduct demonstrates “a wholesale disregard” for consumer privacy rights and violated a number of state and federal laws.
Standard Innovation said Wednesday that it had not been served the suit yet and could not comment on “rumour or speculation.”
“There’s been no allegation that any of our customers’ data has been compromised. However, given the intimate nature of our products, the privacy and security of our customers’ data is of utmost importance to our company,” the company said in a statement. “We take concerns about customer privacy and our data practices seriously.”
The company noted, however, that it had taken steps to “further enhance” its data security and privacy measures in the last few weeks.
“As part of this effort, we have engaged external security and privacy experts to conduct a thorough review of our data practices with a view to further strengthening data protection and privacy for our customers,” it said. “We are also committed to better communicating our data practices.”
The We-Connect app is being updated later this month and will include in-app communication about the company’s privacy and data practices, as well as a new feature for customers to control how their data may be used, the company said.
The lawsuit filed against Standard Innovation asks the court for an injunction prohibiting the company from monitoring, collecting and transmitting consumer usage information, damages arising from the invasion of personal privacy, and damages arising from the purchase of the We-Vibe.
It also seeks certification as a class-action lawsuit and estimates tens of thousands of individuals could be part of the legal action.
“This is, by far, one of the more egregious privacy violations we have seen in the course of our practice,” the woman’s lawyer, Eve-Lynn Rapp said. “We look forward to litigating this case on behalf of those who have been affected.”
At least one observer said the case highlights the issues with using all sorts of “smart” devices that link to apps on mobile devices.
“That’s a lot of data, some of it more sensitive than others...that is being communicated over networks and to different companies or app makers,” said Teresa Scassa, a professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in information law.
“People have to be aware that this data collection and transmission is happening and it will be governed or not governed by specific terms of use that are specific to each particular app or device.”
Scassa noted that sharing of personal information is simply part of the reality of interacting through mobile devices and apps.
“You have to think about how that’s happening, why that’s happening, with whom it’s being shared and how good is the security protection.”
Ottawa-based company has produced a best-selling personal vibrator called the We-Vibe. (Wayne Cuddington/Ottawa Citizen/Postmedia Network)

Woman launches lawsuit against Canadian vibrator maker | Canada | News | Toronto
We-Vibe | Premium Sensual Lifestyle Products (external - login to view)
They certainly won't like it up 'em.
Lawsuit over Internet-connected sex toys settled for $3.75 million US | Ontario
Curious Cdn
... another big blow for the Canadian manufacturing sector ...

I wonder which Dragon backed that one?
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