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Internet-Connected Vibrator Maker Settles Data Spying Lawsuit

A Canadian vibrator maker accused of secretly tracking the intimate habits of thousands of its customers through a smartphone app has agreed to spend $5 million to settle a privacy lawsuit in the United States.

Under the deal, Ottawa-based Standard Innovation will pay those who bought its We-Vibe sex toy before Sept. 26, 2016, up to US$199 each. Users who controlled the vibrator via its We-Connect application will get up to US$10,000 each — although the actual amounts in both cases are likely to be much lower.

The company, which denies any wrongdoing, will also have to destroy much of the personal data it had collected through the app. The data includes time and date of use, the user-selected vibration intensity level and pattern and the temperature of the device, according to court documents.

While the exact number of users is unknown, company records indicate about 300,000 people bought a Bluetooth enabled We-Vibe product and more than 100,000 downloaded and used the app, an affidavit by the plaintiffs’ lawyer states.

According to the lawyer’s estimates, app users will likely end up with about US$500 each, while product buyers will get about US$40 — significantly less than half the purchase price. Settlement notices will appear, among other places, in People and Sports Illustrated magazines.

The proposed class action lawsuit was launched in September by a Chicago-area woman known as N.P., who bought a We-Vibe Rave vibrator for US$130 in May 2016. A second plaintiff, P.S., joined the suit last month.

According to the statement of claim, users had to download the We-Connect app to allow them or their partners to remotely control the Bluetooth-equipped vibrator’s settings. The app’s “connect lover” feature, which promises a secure connection, lets partners exchange text messages, conduct video chats and control a paired We-Vibe device.

However, that information — along with the email…

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