Play, secrecy and consent: Theorizing privacy breaches and sensitive data in the world of networked sex toys

Jenny Sundén
2020 Sexualities  
Based on a new materialist analysis of "vibrant matter" to understand the liveliness of sexual objects in toy-based sexual play, in this article I investigate the politics of thinking digital technologies as operating partly beyond human forms of agency and control. I use as my core examples privacy breaches and data leaks in the world of networked sex toys – such as a vibrator which allegedly audio recorded its clients' play sessions without express permission – to engage with questions of
more » ... th questions of intimacy and privacy in digital networks of humans and nonhumans. In particular, the discussion focuses on the consequences of new forms of publicness for how we can understand sexual intimacy and sexual play. What does it mean to have an intimate moment when connected to a device, a medium and a network that is by definition public, corporate and leaky? And how could we imagine other ways of being sexually intimate and exposed – yet safe – in public digital networks? Drawing on discussions of queer intimacy, sexual consent and queer BDSM, I suggest that current understandings of privacy and sensitive data (as per GDPR) may need unconventional sources to further ways of knowing what consent might mean, and how it feels.
doi:10.1177/1363460720957578 fatcat:nxjyuxi5zjhu7dmxpcpa56ajdm