Germany issues ban on children's smartwatches, urges parents to destroy them

Marco Green
November 18, 2017

(Web Desk) - Germany's Federal Network Agency has slapped a ban on sale of smartwatches for children, describing them as spying devices and urging parents to destroy all at once.

The decision follows the agency's decision in February to ban distribution of a talking doll, saying its software could be hacked to reveal personal data.

"According to our research, parents' watches are also used to listen to teachers in the classroom". The German authorities have held a crack down on internet-connected devices for children and the move could result into further steps.

Privacy is major concern for security analysts as such poorly secured smart devices mostly allow breach. "That is really concerning when it comes to kids' Global Positioning System tracking watches - the very watches that are supposed to help keep them safe", said Ken Munro, a security expert at Pen Test Partners. German law prohibits this kind of function, the Federal Network Agency said.

Germany's Federal Network Agency has banned smartwatches for kids from being sold in the country, and has urged parents who have already purchased the devices to destroy them.

The agency also asked schools to "pay more attention" to such watches among students. While the wearables, designed for kids aged 5 to 12, often look like toys, they're created to allow parents to remotely listen in on the child's environment via the watches' microphone, all without notice, in turn offering the same functionality as a wiretap.

In mid-October, BEUC has warned parents that many kids' smartwatches are plagued by security flaws that allow attackers to track children and listen to their conversations. Using basic hacking techniques, malicious agents could even make it appear as though a child was in a different location than what his or her smartwatch reports.

Both firms said that they had resolved the security issues. "This ban sends a strong signal to makers of products aimed at children that they need to be safer", Finn Myrstad, head of digital policy at NCC, told BCC.

He called for Europe-wide measures to increase the security of such devices.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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