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Sex Toy Maker Pays $3.75 Million to Settle ‘Smart’ Vibrator Lawsuit

Mar 10, 2017

Think twice about connecting those sex toys to the Internet: A vibrator company has agreed to pay up to $10,000 to U.S. customers who used a smartphone app that relayed their data to the firm's server.

In a settlement filed Thursday in Chicago federal court, the Canadian company called We-Vibe agreed to pay $5 million CDN (about $3.75 million) to resolve privacy claims regarding "adult sensual lifestyle products" that transmitted customer data.

The toys in question, which include the We-Vibe Classic and Rave by We-Vibe, are designed to be used by couples, allowing one partner to control the devices via Bluetooth and a smartphone app.

Security researchers, however, discovered the company was also using the smart phone app to harvest data about how customers used the vibrators. The apps collected information such as what temperature and intensity settings the owners used, as well as how often they used the toys.

While We-Vibe stressed that no customer data was hacked by outside parties, the data collection nonetheless led two customers to file a class action lawsuit against the company. Given the very personal information involved, the court allowed the customers—known only as "NP" and "PS"—to proceed anonymously.

In a curious twist to the settlement, the process creates two potentials ways for customers to collect: those who attest they used the app to control the vibrator, and who provide their name and phone number and other details as part of the claim process, will get up to $10,000. Meanwhile, those who simply purchased a We-Vibe connected device will receive up to $199.

A spokesperson for We-Vibe's parent company, Standard Innovation, provided the following statement to Fortune.

"We are pleased to have reached a fair and reasonable settlement in this matter. At Standard Innovation we take customer privacy and data security seriously. We have enhanced our privacy notice, increased app security, provided customers more choice in the data they share, and we continue to work with leading privacy and security experts to enhance the app."

While the lawsuit will result in We-Vibe tightening its privacy standards, the incident may leave many consumers wondering about the advisability of Internet-connected sex toys in the first place.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested the We-Vibe Sync was among the vibrators included in the class action suit.

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