Adult Toy Tracked User Activity, Prompts Lawsuit
The makers of a remote controlled device for personal pleasure have agreed to pay $3.75 million after allegedly collecting data on how the device was used. Standard Innovations has not formally admitted any wrongdoing.
The company makes several models in the We-Vibe line, each designed for intimate female use. Some of them include a Bluetooth connection that in turn connects to a smartphone. That allows the user or a partner to remotely control the operation and settings of the device, with an option for partners in long-distance relationships to operate the device over the Internet.
Plaintiffs Not Feeling Good Vibrations
According to a lawsuit, the smartphone app was collecting data on how often people used the devices, including the specific settings they selected, then transmitting the data back to the company. According to the lawsuit: the app collected data, which meant that the company could have been able to link specific usage data to individuals.
It's the latter point that is particularly problematic. As such, it takes the case a step beyond the potentially legitimate activity of collecting and collating anonymized data to learn more about which settings were proving popular and using these to improve future models.
What's in dispute is whether customers were aware of the data collection and consented to it. Standard Innovations said this was the case. The two women who brought the lawsuit said this wasn't the case and thus the company had breached the Federal Wiretap Act along with other consumer laws. (Source: theverge.com)
Average Payout Could Be $500
The case received class action status, meaning other customers could share in any award or settlement without having to bring a separate legal case. Standard Innovations agreed to a settlement, meaning that it will pay damages but doesn't admit to any breach of the law.
In theory, the settlement allows for a maximum payout of $199 for anyone who bought one of the devices in question and $10,000 if they went on to use the app. In practice the company will pay a lump sum (funded by insurance policies) to be split between all valid claims.
According to the settlement agreement, based on the estimates of how many people will make a claim, the average payout will be around $40 for those who bought a device and $500 for those who used the app. (Source: npr.org)
What's Your Opinion?
Is the compensation a fair amount? Should customers have assumed the company would collect and use the data? Does it matter if a company has this type of very personal information?
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