The Hong Kong-based parent company of the sex toy maker Lovense failed on Wednesday to end a lawsuit accusing it of invading the privacy of sex toy users by collecting data on their most intimate moments and activities. The suit was filed in January of 2018, as AVN.com reported, by an anonymous woman who used one of the company’s Bluetooth-connected vibrators, only to learn that the company, Hytto, was effectively spying on her as she used the device.
The plaintiff, identified only as “S.D.” in the lawsuit, purchased the Lovense “Lush” vibrator, which she then “paired” via Bluetooth with the company’s downloadable Body Chat app, which allowed her to use the vibrator remotely, with a partner who can then control the intensity of the device’s vibrations using a smartphone.
But according to the lawsuit, Hytto intercepted signals sent between the users, recording their email addresses, the date and time they used the vibrator, and even the intensity level of the vibrations. S.D. sued, claiming that Hytto violated the Federal Wiretap Act, as well as violate her privacy—or what the court called “intrusion upon seclusion”—and “unjust enrichment.” In other words, the company made money by putting its own customers under remote sexual surveillance.
In denying Hytto’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Judge Jeffrey S. White—a George W. Bush appointee to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California—noted that even though Hytto told the court that customers should expect that their data would be collected, the company’s own literature stated, “Absolutely no sensitive data (pictures, video, chat logs) pass through (or are held) on our servers. All data transfers are peer-to-peer.”
But that claim appears not to be true.
The company also claimed that its data-harvesting activities did not constitute wiretapping because it was part of Hytto’s “ordinary course of business.”
White disagreed, saying that the collection of intimate details on the customer’s sexual activity was not necessary to the service provided by Hytto and the Lovense Lush, and because it’s not necessary, it could not be considered “ordinary.”
No hearing date for the lawsuit has been set, but the judge gave S.D. until June 14 to file an amended version of the lawsuit.
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