Vibrator Spying Suit Shakes Privacy Law

By: Wanda N. Hand, 4L

Contributing Writer

Kellyanne Conway was right—your home devices are collecting data on you. However, your TV and microwave aren’t the issue. The true serpent in the midst of your home is…your vibrator. Who knew this story would take such a titillating turn?

We-Vibe, a Canadian-based startup that specializes in sex toys, released a new vibrator and an accompanying app. In attempt to stay abreast of ever-evolving technology, they wanted to be able to connect couples in long-distance relationships via the use of the device through a phone app. Since the release of the product, 300,000 people have brought the product home (literally), while 100,000 people have downloaded the corresponding app.

Last year, users discovered We-Vibe had been collecting data on them from the phone app, unbeknownst to consumers. The information focused on temperatures, settings, and usage. The users, offended that their privacy had been penetrated, filed a class action lawsuit against the company. From the beginning, the plaintiffs’ lawyers made it clear that the strategy centered on sticking it to the company.

Source:| We-Vibe, a Canadian-based startup, faces a class action lawsuit for collecting vibrator data.

Source:| We-Vibe, a Canadian-based startup, faces a class action lawsuit for collecting vibrator data.

While the company denies an undercover sting operation, they did forget to alert consumers to the data collection policy. It was only brought to light after hackers thrust their way into We-Vibe’s systems and discovered the ability to turn vibrators on remotely. In the proceedings, this became known as technical penetration. The company claims the information collected was only used to monitor any potential defects in the equipment.

Courts eagerly probed into the matter. Rumor has it that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg couldn’t wait to get her hands on such an invasive privacy case. Yet, Justice Roberts didn’t think it was a matter fit for chambers. Thus, RBG’s dream will be left unfulfilled. The company settled for over 3 million dollars in March. This means that anyone who purchased a vibrator and activated the app before September 26, 2016 might get as much as $10,000. However, there has been some concern over how they are going to spread the settlement. One disgruntled litigant loudly proclaimed, “It wasn’t a great deal to do.”

One W&L student stated, “Let’s be honest, we all know that somebody is watching you all the time. Whether it’s the CIA or Amazon or the NSA, we don’t really have privacy anymore, but some things are probably better left unconnected to your phone.”

Another student, interested in plunging into privacy law as career, exclaimed, “There really has been an increase in privacy cases concerned with technology. Apple iPhone. Amazon Echo. This case. Future privacy lawyers will need to start practicing our endurance. The climax of privacy law has not yet been breached.”

Privacy issues have been on the rise for quite some time, especially as more and more products are linked to the web and to the private server of the parent company in question. While the use of web-based products can never be 100% safe, it might be time to start reading the small print to avoid an unplanned class action suit.