"Smart" sex toy company sued for tracking users’ habits


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/09/13/smart-sex-toy-company-sued.html


#2

I’d like to know exactly how much is anonymized, especially if it’s sending the purchaser’s email address back to the company.

Also I wonder what happens if you use it out of wifi range. When my laptop gets a Windows update and there’s no internet access available it’ll keep running, trying to update, until the battery is dead.


#3

“mostly anonymized” and used only for “market research.”

Translation: “not really anonymized at all” and used only for “basically anything we damn well please”.

“Mostly anonymized” is like “a little bit pregnant”.
Either it’s anonymized, and you can’t track the data onto its owner/generator, or it isn’t anonymized and you can.

You could say some of the data is anonymized, and some is not. Maybe that’s what they mean.


#4

Nothing, which means it’s subtly conditioning its users to associate good wifi connectivity with sexual pleasure.

Then in Phase II, the toy will only work at full effectiveness when it’s connected via partner ISPs or routers, such that (for example) you can only really properly get off when your vibrator is connected to Comcast via a Linksys router. You can imagine where it goes from there.

We’re through the looking glass here, people.


#5

It blurs out your face in the video it captures through your phone.


#6

Off topic, because it’s more fun than the post: One night at Burning Man a guy told me about a game he played where he was handed a remote control for a vibrator, and a lady he didn’t know had the vibrator inside her, and his job was to find her in a crowded nightclub.

He found her.


#7

When she finds out about the embedded camera, she’s really going to be mad.


#8

While I understand the issue of the data being linked to her email address, I am REALLY sick of people complaining about “smart” devices if they send out ANY usage data. How the hell do they think the devices get “smarter”?


#9

Woo hoo hoo.

Just look who knows so much.
It just so happens that your data here is mostly anonymized. There’s a pretty big difference between “mostly” anonymized and totally anonymized. “Mostly” anonymized is still slightly identifiable.


#10

I think I just might wuv you for that.


#11

Didn’t cstross write a book about this?


#12

I just assumed that the data was used to track one’s calories and to compete against friends/family…


#14

I have a “smart” phone - but that refers to the rich feature set, not to reporting everything I do. I can use my smart phone off-line.

(Granted, many apps on the smart phone do spying stuff, but that isn’t why it’s called smart phone.)


#15

And to send real-time FB notifications to all of your friends when you use the device, along with a Google map to your location…


#16

The data are used so it can automatically order a pizza for me when I’m done.

The competing against friends and family bit is just a ploy so they can gather more data, obvs.


#18

That feature set is available owing to the ability to send and receive data (including new apps), not whether or not it does more than act as a phone. “Feature phones” also had the ability to do more than just make phone calls. Again, it’s the advanced data transmission functions that make it a smart phone.

However, this is almost beside the point. Most “smart” devices are given that designation due to the ability to adapt how they operate based on… wait for it… tracking user’s habits.


#19

You realize that sending “data” is more than acting as a phone, right? But the ability to voluntarily send and receive data is all that is needed to make that happen, not surreptitious data transmissions of user activity.


#20

I get what you’re saying, but I think that’s a distinction that’s lost on most people, including many device makers.

In practice, “smart” is applied so ubiquitously that I think it’s losing meaning as anything other than a pure marketing term. Just like everything was an iProduct for a while, after we wised up to the wonders of all the eThings.

In this case, the woman clearly had no expectation that the device would phone home with her usage habits, so the “smart” moniker was meaningless to her (in that sense). After all, how “smart” does a vibrator need to be? What possible benefit to her could there be from telling the manufacturer when and how she uses it?

This kind of data collection is almost always purely for the benefit of the vendor. If it was a feature that their customers actually wanted, you can be sure they’d be crowing about how their “patented deep-learning algorithms run on next-generation hardware at a secure location to enhance your pleasure.” The fact that they bury it in the fine print of a shrink-wrapped EULA tells you all you need to know, in my opinion.

That said, I’m a bit of a language prescriptivist myself, so I sympathize. Words have meaning, dammit! :slight_smile:


#21

This is the kind of intelligence gathering the NSA could only dream about. Just imagine having the Federal Government literally up your ass.


#22

“I wish I were Big Government so I could get inside your vagina” - Republican pickup line