Smart dildos? Be careful what you wish for.
Don’t really know where to start with this one, except to say, you just can’t make this stuff up. A federal wiretap class action lawsuit has been filed against a company that makes “sensual lifestyle products”—including vibrators. The lawsuit is brought by a woman who alleges her vibrator is recording the date and time of each use, together with her selected settings and email address. (Now that’s multi-tasking).
So, first thoughts? There must be something wrong—the product is defective. Realty check—no—the product is working just fine. In fact, just as intended. Next thought—how is this legal and who wants this information? I mean, Really??
The skinny is that the We-Vibe vibrator is made to be operated through a smartphone app. According to the lawsuit, in order to operate the We-Vibe, “users download defendant’s ‘We-Connect’ application from the Apple App Store or the Google Play store and install it on their smartphones.” Easy enough, do it on the subway on the way to work.
The concept behind this product, from the user’s perspective, is to enable the user and her partner, through a “connect lover” feature, to operate the vibrator by remote control using their smartphones, even when they are physically separated. So—down the street, another city—another continent. Maybe even from 35,000 feet up, in the friendly skies. And then there’s the whole distracted driving thing. Hah! The touch screen allows the users to control the type, frequency and intensity of vibrations through 10 modes on a promised “secure connection.”
I’m having a hard time imagining a room full of nerds working on this one. But, thinking about it, maybe not. Wonder how much research went into developing the settings? And how was the research done—or is it all just random? Is there a process for complaints—and can you send the product back if it doesn’t live up to expectations? I digress, but then again—is that even possible anymore?
Meanwhile, back in the basement, the “defendant fails to notify or warn customers that We-Connect monitors and records, in real time, how they use the device. Nor does defendant disclose that it transmits the collected private usage information to its servers in Canada,” according to the lawsuit. Why Canada? Because We Vibe is in fact made by Ontario-based Standard Innovation Corp.
Thinking of Ashley Madison now…another banner Canadian company.
But the really dark part of all this is, according to John Banzhaf, a public interest law professor at George Washington University Law School, who published an essay on this, if a hacker—whether a former lover or a total stranger—intrudes on the We-Vibe information, he or she could conceivably be charged with sexual assault or even rape. “Since the smart dildos are connected to the internet, and can be controlled by someone even on another continent, hacking is an obvious possibility and potential danger,” Banzhaf says. As one writer put it, this brings a whole new meaning to phone sex.
The complaint, filed in Illinois, claims violations of various state and federal laws, alleging violation of the U.S. Wiretap Act, the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute, and the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practice Act. It also states these violations constitute intrusion upon seclusion in Illinois, as well as unjust enrichment on their profits.
The plaintiff has an initial hearing scheduled for November 8. Be interesting to see if it makes it to that far.
Did you ever receive one of these Chrysler Dodge Ram recalls for defective steering-system tie rods that may have been misaligned during assembly or steering-system service? Did you bring your truck in to have the part replaced? What’s your experience?
Consumer watchdog group, Public Citizen has asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to order Bed Handles, Inc. —makers of portable bed rails used by the elderly or infirm—to stop its deceptive advertising practices.
According to a letter sent by Public Citizen to the FTC, Bed Handles claims its Bedside Assistant bed handles are safe—”[making] and bed a safer bed”. However, Public Citizen notes, the bed handles have been responsible for four deaths.
The Public Citizen request calls for:
1. An immediate ban the marketing of Bedside Assistant bed handles, model numbers BA10W and BA10W-6, manufactured by Bed Handles, Inc., because these devices have directly caused the deaths of at least four adult patients through entrapment and subsequent strangulation or positional asphyxia and therefore present “an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury” …
2. An immediate order for Bed Handles, Inc. to recall all Bedside Assistant bed handles, model number BA10W and BA10W-6, that have been sold or distributed; and
3. An immediate investigation by the FTC to thoroughly assess the association between (a) the design and use of all similar bed handle or bed rail devices manufactured by Bed Handles, Inc. or any other manufacturer and (b) the risk of life-threatening injury or death due to entrapment and subsequent strangulation or positional asphyxia, and as appropriate, based on the result of this investigation, take action to ban the marketing of, and to recall, those devices that pose similar risks of death and injury as seen with Bedside Assistant bed handles.
At issue with the portable bed railings is that they can allegedly slip out of place thereby creating a gap between the railing and the mattress. An individual can become accidentally entrapped in the space between the mattress and the railing. Injury or death can occur as a result of the victim’s trachea being compressed against the bars of the bed railing, leading to strangulation.
The letter from Public Citizen to the FTC included a picture (above) of a caregiver showing how one of her patients had become trapped in the Bedside Assistant bed railing. The victim was found dead in that position.
According to the Public Citizen website, the FTC did acknowledge receipt of the letter. As of this writing, however, while the word “safe” does not appear on the Bed Handles Inc. website in reference to the portable bed railings, there has not been a recall. (Note, the Bed Handles website does reference “safer”–but it’s as it relates to the bed handles leaving “floor space clear”).
Just got an interesting email. A reader shared the predicament that 141 LVN to BSN students have found themselves in: they’ve matriculated in an online nursing program that’s a partnership between CSU’s Sonoma State University (SSU) and Indiana State University (ISU)—a program that had been approved by the California Board of Registered Nurses—but now there’s a catch. Seems the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two schools has been severed. (Note: go to minute 2:36:00 of above video).
Here’s what the reader had to share:
“The abrupt, unexpected severance of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Indiana State University (ISU) and Sonoma State University (SSU) threatens to leave ISU’s 141 California nursing students admitted into the dual enrollment LVN to BSN Online partnership approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) without a teach-out plan, no viable opportunities to complete our educational goals, and significant financial, professional, and emotional hardships. We are LVNs seeking to complete our BSNs and advanced training to contribute to the professionalism of nursing; many of us are almost done with the program. We have lodged our complaints with both universities, the California State University Board of Trustees, and the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. However, we are finding few advocates in our corner and are at a loss for what actions to take at this point.”
Translation? Those 141 LVN to BSN students are left hanging for now. They’ve matriculated into a program they thought would allow them to get their BSN degree and now that their ability to do so is at risk, some are crying breach of contract.
For those who don’t have a clue about nursing acronyms, LVN is a Licensed Vocational Nurse—sometimes also called an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse). LVN/LPN nurses are not RN’s (Registered Nurses)—and LVN is typically a one-year program whereas an RN receives additional training. The American Nurses Association has more explanation on the various nursing degrees and licensing requirements.
Now, you might say, “What’s the big deal? Just transfer.” But apparently, it’s not that simple.
First off, the courses (and credits) specified as a part of this LVN to BSN program are, according to the 141 students left in the lurch, not transferable.
Second, California community college nursing programs have notoriously high wait lists for new students. NPR ran a story on the situation back in 2010—but if you listen to the challenges (the word “challenges” being an understatement) faced by some current LVN to BSN students who spoke at a Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Registered Nursing Webcast Board Meeting (September 27, 2012—see video above—fast-forward to minute 3:10:00 to hear student comments), the problem is far from resolved.
So what happened? Why are 141 nursing students at risk of being left without a nursing program they’d already been accepted to? If you watch the meeting minutes on the SSU and ISU nursing program partnership—which start at minute 2:36:00—it sounds like there’s been a bit of a snowball effect that began with a complaint by an ISU nursing student alleging fraudulent clinical hour documentation which then led to a halt on new students being admitted into the program pending an investigation. Comments like “we didn’t have a board then” and that the 3-month (May-July 2012) investigation “identified six areas of non-compliance” don’t spark confidence in how things were being run either.
But that’s not the fault of those 141 students who’d been matriculated and who now may find themselves collateral damage of the fraud allegations and non-compliance issues.
And you have to love the smug comments from the board—like those clarifying that, rather than supporting the nurses, they “support the public”. Talk about CYA. The only board member who’s willing to point at the “elephant in the room” is the woman on the far right. Aside from her, it’s painful to listen to all the bureaucratic b.s. and babbling. Granted, the Board doesn’t have the jurisdiction to change the situation—but the 141 nursing students aren’t asking for that; they’re asking the Board to have their backs—to support them in their quest to have the LVN to BSN program remain intact so they can complete their degree.
We’ll have to see how this plays out and what happens to those 141 nursing students. From the sound of it, there may well be a bit of legal wrangling to come in order to resolve things (note the comment from one affected student’s husband: “I would warn you that the lawsuits are going to begin. This is outrageous”). But it’s clear something ain’t right. And there’s now a petition over at Change.org with 493 supporters to date—you can check it out here.