Wednesday, 14 September 2016 09:21

Vibrator maker sued over storing user information

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A Canadian company that makes and sells vibrators has been caught out storing details of vibrator settings used by purchasers and their personal email addresses on its servers.

A lawsuit filed in the US state of Illinois accused Standard Innovation of Ontario of "selling products that secretly collect and transmit highly sensitive personally identifiable information about the consumers using them".

The suit was filed by a woman, N.P., who said she had purchased a vibrator known as We-Vibe in May, according to a court filing which was linked to by the website Ars Technica.

A smartphone app known as We-Connect, provided by the maker, allows the device to be paired, using Bluetooth, and used to communicate remotely with anyone of the user's choice.

But the spying aspect of the app, the suit alleged, had not been made public.

"Unbeknownst to its customers, however, defendant designed We-Connect to (i) collect and record highly intimate and sensitive data regarding consumers’ personal We-Vibe use, including the date and time of each use and the selected vibration settings, and (ii) transmit such usage data — along with the user’s personal email address — to its servers in Canada," the lawsuit said.

The suit seeks an injunction prohibiting the company "from monitoring, collecting, and transmitting consumers’ usage information, actual and statutory damages arising from the invasion of their personal privacy, and actual damages arising from the purchase of their We-Vibe, including the return of the purchase price of the product and disgorgement of profits".

Standard Innovation told Ars that it would be updating the app later in September and providing users a means of controlling how their data would be used.

There was no indication in the filing as to how the plaintiff had discovered that her personal information was being stored by the company.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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