An Illinois woman has brought a class action against the makers of a high-tech personal intimacy device, alleging the smartphone app used to operate the vibrator is improperly collecting private information. 

The plaintiff, identified in the lawsuit only as N.P., filed the action Sept. 2 in federal court in Chicago against Standard Innovation, which markets We-Vibe vibrators and the We-Connect smartphone app that allows users to pair a mobile device to a We-Vibe in order to remotely control its customizable settings and features. N.P. purchased a We-Vibe Rave in May for $130, noting it “cost substantially more than comparable vibrators lacking such features.” 

Though incorporated in Delaware, Standard Innovation is based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. N.P. said the app, released in September 2014, is designed, unbeknownst to users, “to collect and record highly intimate and sensitive data regarding consumers’ personal We-Vibe use, including the date and time of each use and the selected vibration settings, and transmit such usage data — along with the user’s personal email address — to its servers in Canada.” 

The app, the complaint continues, falsely gives a sense of security. When using the “connect lover” feature, intended to enable users to exchange text messages, control paired devices and video chat, a message appears with the phrase “create a secure connection between your smartphones.” 

The complaint details We-Vibe advertising focusing on the app functionality as a means of setting it apart from competing vibrators. But N.P. alleges the company never indicated to its customers that all communications between paired devices or connected smartphones are routed through its servers, and therefore is transmitting such information without the direct consent of users, in violation of various telecommunications laws. 

She said “most, if not all, … customers would not have purchased a We-Vibe in the first place had they known that it would monitor, collect, and transmit their usage information.” 

The complaint sets out four putative classes: a purchaser class for anyone in the U.S. who bought a Bluetooth-enabled We-Vibe; a surveillance class for anyone who downloaded We-Connect; and Illinois subclasses of both. It also details five formal causes of action — violation of the federal Wiretap Act, the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute, intrusion upon seclusion, unjust enrichment and violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practice Act. 

In addition to class certification and a jury trial, N.P. seeks an injunction preventing Standard Innovation from intercepting, monitoring and transmitting customers’ usage information without informed consent and requiring the company “to destroy any and all such information currently in its possession.” 

The complaint further seeks actual, statutory and punitive damages of at least $5 million, as well as legal feels, interest and any other relief deemed necessary. 

Representing N.P. and potentially the class are lawyers from Edelson P.C., of Chicago.

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