Germany bans smart watches for children
Concerns over smart watches for children breaching Germany’s strict surveillance laws have led to a ban on their sale by the country’s telecommunications regulator. The Guardian reports.
Germany’s telecoms regulator has banned the sale of “smart watches” that can be used by parents to check on their children, saying the devices violated Germany’s strict surveillance laws. The regulator has urged parents to destroy the devices, which have been used to listen in on classroom lessons
The Federal Network Agency said it had already taken action against several firms that sell the watches online but did not name them. The watches are widely available on the German market and target children between the ages of 5 to 12.
Jochen Homann, president of the agency, said in a statement: “Via an app, parents can use such watches to secretly listen to a child’s environment. They are to be seen as a prohibited transmitter. Our investigation has also shown that parents have used the watches to listen to teachers in the classroom.”
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. The agency’s actions reflect growing concerns about the security and privacy risks associated with the exploding number of smart gadgets.
The agency said the watches in question include a sim card and offer a limited telephone function which can be controlled via an app, similar to baby monitoring devices. By programming the watches to call a telephone number, they can be used to secretly listen to conversations, an act that is prohibited under German law, the agency said. It urged schools to be vigilant about the use of such smart watches.