We live in a day and age where practically everything is connected to the internet – from smart umbrellas that send alerts to your phone if you lose them, to breathalyzers that transmit your blood alcohol level to your Twitter account – the world has become a weird place my friend. So naturally, an Internet-enabled sex toy that can be controlled with a smartphone app doesn’t sound strange at all, it’s even a neat idea. But Standard Innovation, the manufacturer of the app-enabled We-Vibe faced some controversy this month, when a woman from Chicago sued the company for collecting and transmitting her personal information without her consent. This includes her name, email address, and even the vibration settings she used.
As the Chicago Tribune reports, the woman (identified only as N.P.) filed a lawsuit in a Chicago federal court just a few days ago. She seeks class action status for, as she puts it “ten thousands” of users, whose private data was taken without consent by the Canadian manufacturer in violation of the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute and the Federal Wiretap Act. The woman bought the device for $130 in May, and used it on several occasions, but was never informed that Standard information was monitoring her activities and collecting data. The vibrator allows users to customize their experience by playing around with the settings on the corresponding application, and it also comes with a feature that enables the users to connect to another person’s phone and allow them control the settings. Before the scandal, the CBC declared that the vibrator was “an international success story for Ottawa”.
Again, while this may sound surprising to you, some people won’t bat an eyelash, because companies’ ability to collect, store and in some cases even sell information is nothing new. This May, while Miss N.P. was excitingly buying her smart vibrator, two Danish researchers released a dataset of around 70,000 OkCupid users, which included names, ages, locations, and sexual preferences of all of those users. But this is not the only thing you might have to think about before you visit your favorite adult store again. Most of us are afraid of hackers, and for a good reason, no one wants to have their privacy violated – what if we told you that cyber intruder might be able to take over your sex toys?
Earlier this year, at the technology expo CeBIT in Germany, the security firm Trend Micro demonstrated live on stage how they were able to successfully hack an Internet-enabled vibrator. After a couple of clicks and lines of code, Trend Micro’s chief tech officer Raimund Genes managed to switch the sizable pink toy on. In an interview with the Daily Dot, the company’s spokesman Udo Schneider explained that most web-enabled devices nowadays don’t have any security measures, and the presentation was meant to show how easy it is to hack any given “smart object”. So the next time you go out shopping for a new sex toy, it is perhaps better to go for a good, old-fashioned battery-powered vibrator, instead of the one that connects to the web, even if the advertisement says it will prepare you breakfast in bed afterwards. Hey, you don’t want your orgasms to become a subject of market research, do you?