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Should I be worried about privacy with my “smart” sex toy?

June 13, 2019
By, laura

Smart and internet connected sex toys have been around for a few years, but this is the year we’re really starting to see them take off. If you’re in a long distance relationship, or if you just enjoy a bit of kink outside the bedroom, someone has likely suggested an internet-connected sex toy to you at some point.

There are many different kinds available, but the common thread that binds them is the idea of being able to control a sex toy from a remote location using just your smart phone. It’s a fun idea for those who spend a lot of time apart. Imagine you’re on a business trip and your partner has full control over your bullet vibrator while you video chat. It’s a great way to bring intimacy to a less than ideal situation.

While many are excited at the prospect of their partner getting them off from the other side of the world, there are some privacy issues that you need to be aware of.

Smart sex toys and privacy

Privacy issues related to sex toys can be wide and varied. At the top of the list, consumer groups tell us that we need to be wary about what data is collected by your app and sex toy, and how that data is shared with companies. The advent of GDPR told us that we need to be very careful about who we hand our personal information over to. It also told us that companies need to be very careful about what they do with our personal data.

But GDPR was largely concerned with things like email addresses and phone numbers. Surely your intimate sex toy habits are a worth a little more protection. Imagine if your app usage landed in the wrong hands and it was used to blackmail you? Would your boss be interested to know that you were controlling your partner’s vibrating butt plug during office hours?

There are also issues with hackers being able to take control of vulnerable connections. Imagine how violating it would be to discover that a complete stranger had taken over the controls to your bullet vibe?

What can be done?

At this stage, the situations listed above are nothing more than hypothetical horror stories. Consumer groups are more concerned with the potential violations and ensuring that companies interested in developing smart sex toys do so in a responsible way.

When thinking about buying a smart sex toy, you should think about how it connects to the internet and how secure this is. Mozilla proposed 5 minimum standards for Internet of Things security which your smart sex toy should be able to pass. These are:

  1. Encryption

  2. Security updates

  3. Strong passwords

  4. Vulnerability management

  5. Privacy policy

I already have a connected toy, what can I do to protect myself?

Check the toy manufacturer to find out if they have a privacy policy. Examples of responsible smart sex toy developers include OhMiBod and LELO. Both have stringent privacy policies and secure apps. OhMiBod toys use your WiFi to connect to your phone, so you don’t have to rely on Bluetooth which can be more vulnerable to hacks.

If you have the option, you should always use a strong password to access your app. Don’t make it something that you use for everything else and ensure it has a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

And finally, make sure you check your app for updates. Updating your phone might seem like a chore, but keeping your operating system up to date while also ensuring that your apps are up to date could ensure that you get the latest security patches.

Sex toy hacks are still very rare, and companies are learning new security techniques all the time to help keep their customers safe. The actual risk to consumers is quite low, and no worse than the risks posed by any other Internet of Things device, such as a smart home lightbulb or thermostat. Provided you keep everything up to date, you should be able to enjoy long distance fun with your partner without worrying about hackers hijacking your vibe.

Want to stick with a traditional vibrator? We share our top tips for the best vibes for solo ladies here.

And a far scarier problem posed by sex toys is unclean toys, learn how to clean your vibrator here.

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