Germany has banned the sale of children’s smartwatches in its country due to their potential use as an unauthorized transmitting system.
German telecom regulator, the Federal Network Agency, has made a decision to remove the smartwatches from the market, but that’s not all. The agency has also asked parents to destroy any smartwatches that have already been purchased, as the BBC reports.
Jochen Homann, president of the Federal Network Agency, said that “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.”
“According to our research, parents’ watches are also used to listen to teachers in the classroom,” Homann also said. That statement reveals another window into how these smartwatches can essentially be used as spying devices.
The press release from the German agency warns schools about the potential listening features of the devices, along with urging parents to destroy already purchased smartwatches and keep records of the destruction.
The recent move in Germany follows a report last month from the Norwegian Consumer Council which found that many popular children’s smartwatches allowed hackers to communicate or eavesdrop by using the devices.
It’s unclear if the German decision was directly influenced by the findings of the NCC, or whether the authorities reached such a conclusion on their own.
Just The Start?
A few of the companies highlighted in the initial NCC report claim they’ve fixed security flaws in their smartwatches, but the NCC is still pushing for “Europe-wide measures to increase the security of such devices.”
We’ll see if any other European countries follow suit, and if this push to increase the safety and security of children’s smartwatches will gain any footing in the U.S. For now, make sure to do your research on all connected products — especially those being used by children.