Lawsuit Claims Microsoft Tracked Sex Toy Shoppers With 'Recording in Real Time' Software

The complaint claims that Babeland and Good Vibrations websites uses Microsoft's Clarity tracking software to see what visitors searched for and bought.
Lawsuit Claims Microsoft Tracked Sex Toy Shoppers With 'Recording in Real Time' Software
Photo by Gwen Mamanoleas / Unsplash

This article was produced in collaboration with Court Watch, an independent outlet that unearths overlooked court records.

A woman is suing Microsoft and two major U.S. sex toy retailers with claims that their websites are tracking users without their consent, despite promising they wouldn’t do that.

In a complaint filed on June 25 in the Northern District of California, San Francisco resident Stella Tatola claims that Babeland and Good Vibrations—both owned by Barnaby Ltd., LLC—allowed Microsoft to see what visitors to their websites searched for and bought.

“Unbeknownst to Plaintiff and other Barnaby website users, and constituting the ultimate violation of privacy, Barnaby allows an undisclosed third-party, Microsoft, to intercept, read, and utilize for commercial gain consumers’ private information about their sexual practices and preferences, gleaned from their activity on Barnaby’s websites,” the complaint states. “This information includes but is not limited to product searches and purchase initiations, as well as the consumer’s unique Microsoft identifier.” 

The complaint claims that Good Vibrations and Babeland sites have installed trackers using Microsoft’s Clarity software, which does “recording in real time,” and tracks users’ mouse movements, clicks or taps, scrolls, and site navigation. 

Microsoft says on the Clarity site that it “processes a massive amount of anonymous data around user behavior to gain insights and improve machine learning models that power many of our products and services.”

“By allowing undisclosed third party Microsoft to eavesdrop and intercept users’ PPSI in such a manner—including their sexual orientation, preferences, and desires, among other highly sensitive, protected information—Barnaby violates its Privacy Policies, which state it will never share such information with third parties,” the complaint states. 

The complaint includes screenshots of code from the sexual health sites that claims to show  them using Machine Unique Identifier (“MUID”) cookies that “identifies unique web browsers visiting Microsoft sites,” according to Microsoft, and are used for “advertising, site analytics, and other operational purposes.”

The complaint claims that this violates the California Invasion of Privacy Act, the Federal Wiretap Act, and Californians’ reasonable expectation of privacy. 

In February, a woman brought a class action complaint against Adam & Eve, another massive sex toy retailer, claiming that its site gave Google information about her searches for 8-inch dildos and strap-on harnesses. 

Microsoft, Babeland and Good Vibrations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.