24 March 2017
We-Vibe Sex Toy Data Collection Scandal
Sex toy manufacturer Standard Innovation could face a UK legal action after allegedly collecting sensitive data about customers’ sex lives.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers has been contacted by a number of consumers who purchased one of the We-Vibe vibrators, including We-Vibe Classic, 4 Plus, 4 Plus App Only, Rave by We-Vibe or Nova by We-Vibe, after concerns that intimate information about their sexual habits may have been collected and stored by Standard Innovation.
Standard Innovation, a Canadian company has reportedly sold as many as two million We-Vibe sex toys, distributed worldwide. In the UK, models such as the We-Vibe 4 Plus vibrator are sold by retailers such as Amazon and Ann Summers for £90 - £120. The product is Bluetooth enabled and via the We-Connect app, allows users to operate the devices remotely from their mobile phones.
It is alleged that the app additionally collects data from the device to include:
- Time and date of uses
- Vibration mode and pattern
- Vibration intensity level
- Temperature of device
This data was linked to customers personal email addresses – making it possible to identify the customers.
To make matters worse, at a Hacking Conference in the United States in 2016, hackers were able to demonstrate that inadequate device security posed the very serious risk that control of the device could be seized by anyone within Bluetooth range.
A class action was brought in America against Standard Innovation, who denied any wrongdoing and claimed that data collection was simply to monitor for hardware defaults and that those who brought the class action to court in the US had consented to the data capture. This class action has now settled and compensation has been paid to US customers.
In the UK, sensitive and personal information must be processed fairly and lawfully in accordance with the Data Protection Act and consent to that processing is key. Until last year, claims under Data Protection Act could only be made if you suffered financial loss. However, following the case against Google arising out of their use of ‘cookies’ to collect information about their internet usage, claims can now be brought on the basis of injury to feelings alone.
All consumers that we have spoken to simply have no idea that their use of the device was being monitored with data being captured and maintained. Without exception, they are horrified by what they view as a staggering invasion of their privacy.
People have a justifiable expectation that what they do in private will remain just that and certainly not be reported back to a commercial enterprise. If data has been collected in the way alleged, this would constitute a clear breach of the Data Protection Act and we will look to help anyone who has been affected.
If you purchased any We-Vibe product which works with the free We-Connect app before 26 September 2016 we want to hear from you. For more information about how we can help please contact Slater and Gordon confidentially on freephone 0808 175 8000 or contact us online.