Children’s Smartwatches Now Banned In Germany
Germany has taken action to protect children by banning the sale of smartwatches aimed at them. Telecoms regulator the Federal Network Agency implemented the ban to prevent companies from obtaining data on German children. The German regulator said the devices violated Germany’s strict surveillance laws.
A large number of providers in Germany currently sell smartwatches aimed at children. The watches targeted include a SIM card and offer a limited telephone function which can be controlled by an app. These products are typically designed for use by children between the ages of five and 12.
The smartwatches are often used by parents to track their children. Several types of children’s watches, including Gator and GPS for kids, have been found to be transmitting and storing data without encryption. Both of the mentioned firms have said that they had resolved the security issues.
Germany’s telecoms regulator has described the smartwatches as spying devices. Jochen Homann, president of the Federal Network Agency, said that the smartwatches were “regarded as an unauthorized transmitting system.” Because these watches are unsecured, a hacker could use the devices to track children as they moved or make it appear to the parents that the child is in a different location.
The agency said in a statement that it had already taken action against several firms offering smartwatches for children on the internet but did not name them. It is recommending that parents destroy these items. The agency also asked schools to “pay more attention” to the use of these types of watches among students.
Surveillance is a particularly sensitive issue in Germany after the Nazi era Gestapo and East Germany’s Stasi secret police. This is not the first time Germany has banned an internet connected item intended for use by children. Previously in February, an internet-connected doll called My Friend Cayla was banned for similar reasons.
The move sends a strong signal to makers of internet-connected products aimed at children. The exploding number of smart gadgets, often called the “internet of things” has increased concerns about security and privacy risks. The internet-connected item industry has been lightly regulated, but that may change as privacy concerns begin to take center stage.