The first international safety requirement guide for sex toys was released in September 2021, but since this time concerns have been raised about its lack of focus on data privacy and digital security.
The International Organization of Standardization (ISO), based in Switzerland, develops voluntary safety requirement guides for products based on expert knowledge. In September it released a guide for “products in direct contact with genitalia, the anus, or both”: a document hailed as the world’s first sex toy safety requirements run-down.
The guide does not cover products such as gels and lube, and is focused on sextech devices such as vibrators and other sex toys. It is not legally binding in any region, but companies that adhere to it can benefit from having their sextech products branded as ‘safe’ and a cut above cheaper, badly-built products.
With the sextech industry having little oversight beyond standard safety regulations for electronic products in regions they are manufactured and sold in, the document has been welcomed by many industry figures.
As pointed out by Wired, there is nothing in the regulations covering privacy issues, and very little on security. The regulations instead focus on physical attributes of products, such as a rule saying that heated toys must not be able to be heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Another rule states that products designed to be inserted inside a person need to be “smooth and be free from burrs and sharp edges”.
While those rules are logical and welcome, many sextech device users are as concerned about data misuse as they are about having something sharp put up their backsides.
Speaking of cybersecurity, a spokesperson for WOW Tech, which makes sex devices and was involved in the drawing up of the ISO document, told Wired that “it was not included specifically because it’s complicated and generally covered by local regulations.”
Considering the rise of companies such as Lovense, which specialise in remote and app-controlled sex toys, this could be seen as a blind spot in the regulations. Lovense touts its strong digital security measures, and a corresponding international safety certification feeding off this would be valuable to both brand such as these and customers concerned about cybersecurity.
One of the most concerning sextech cybersecurity failures in recent times was highlighted in 2000, when the Cellmate chastity cage device was found to be potentially easily hackable. Qiui, the company behind the penis-covering product, is believed to have solved the problem by updating its software before any rogue hackers could imprison any genitals.
With the Cellmate 2 device having recently been confirmed for release, an international safety certification for remote-controlled devices such as these sounds like an increasingly good idea.
Still, despite the lack of cybersecurity focus, ISO’s regulations get something chalked up on the sextech safety board, which was previously something of a blank slate, and that’s a positive thing.