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German watchdog bans smartwatches for kids

by on20 November 2017

Watchdog growls and stupid parents

German regulators have banned the sale of smartwatches designed for kids saying that the gear is more of a “spying device” than a toy.

Telecoms regulator the Federal Network Agency urged parents that were dumb enough to buy one of the toys should destroy them.

A report published by the Norwegian Consumer Council in mid-October revealed serious flaws in several of the devices that could easily allow hackers to seize control.

Doing so could grant attackers access to both real-time and historical locational data, as well as a wealth of personal information.

Apparently, some parents thought it was a good idea to strap a low-cost, internet-enabled microphone and a GPS tracker onto their kids. After all you don’t need security standards for that sort of thing do you? Just as well, they don’t have them. Neither does it matter that the firms making the watches don’t promise to sell your kids' data to the nearest paedophile in your area.

Marketed to children ages five to 12, the devices typically offer several functions inherent to smartphones, such as voicemail, contact lists, and the ability to make and receive calls... you know, routine stuff that kindergartners need. According to the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) one of the kids’ smartwatch brands was even found by the BEUC to be transmitting children’s locations—unencrypted—to servers in China.

BEUC’s director general, Monique Goyens, called for European regulators to act immediately, warning that parents were likely unaware that instead of protecting children, the smartwatches were leaving them vulnerable. “These watches should not find their way into our shops”, she said.

It looks like the Germans have beat everyone to the punch. In a statement, the agency said it had already taken action against several firms offering such watches on the internet.

"Via an app, parents can use such children's watches to listen unnoticed to the child's environment and they are to be regarded as an unauthorised transmitting system", said Jochen Homann, president of the Federal Network Agency.

Last modified on 20 November 2017
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