The Internet of Things is everywhere. It is being used and deployed in every industry that you can think of so really, is it any surprise that the Internet of Things has collided with the adult toys space? The Adult entertainment industry has always been at the cutting edge of technology and looked to provide its customers with better, more fulfilling experiences. In this case, though, the marriage of the two industries did not end quite so well, as some of the customers have filed a lawsuit citing breach of privacy and interception of ‘private electronic communication’.
Let us back up and start from the beginning, though.
Standard Innovation is a Canadian based company that is making the We-Vibe vibrator and its accompanying software apps. This vibrator stands out from the crowd through a set of features that allow it to be remotely controlled by a paired We-Vibe device. The ‘connect lover’ feature of the smartphone app also allows users to exchange texts and carry out video chats.
The problem that users are having has to do with the fact that the Canadian company was collecting information about the manner in which this device was being used without the explicit approval of the users.
According to the lawsuit filed, Standard Innovation was collecting information about the amount of time the device was being used, the intensity of the vibrator being used at, battery life, temperature, and other data to possibly help them understand their customers better and/or improve further iterations of their products.
The lawsuit also says that this private and intimate information is stored on the company’s servers along with the email address of the person, thus making it personally identifiable. No one is questioning the value of the data being collected by Standard Innovation here but the class action lawsuit is being filed to bring to light the lack of customer privacy being practiced by the company.
On its part, Standard Innovation has declined to make a statement until it has been served with a legal notice, something that apparently has not been done yet, and will then file a reply appropriately.
The Internet of Things is based on the premise that collecting more amounts of data will help in improving the efficiency of services. However, in certain delicate industries like the one in question here, companies need to be very careful and very clear about the kind of information they would be collecting. There needs to be an understanding that just sticking a Bluetooth receiver into a product does not make it ‘smart’ and that a lot of other aspects need to be taken into consideration before making a device connected.
For a company like Standard Innovation, whose entire business is built around products that require discretion, a breach of privacy can be crippling to the business. This case also opens up a can of worms with regards to privacy laws and how they are expected to be levied in an age where every move of us is being tracked on a daily basis or in real time.