Smartwatches used by children are being banned in Germany by the Federal Network Agency, which cites concerns about spying.
According to a BBC news report, the telecom regulator urged parents that owned the watches to destroy them. In a statement, the agency said it has already been prompted to take action on firms that sell the smartwatches online because of the ability for hackers to watch children through the devices.
“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 unauthorized transmitting system,” said Jochen Homann, president of the Federal Network Agency. The regulator also called on schools to pay more attention to the watches being used by students: “According to our research, parents’ watches are also used to listen to teachers in the classroom.”
The German regulator’s move comes on the heels of a statement in October by the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) that some children’s watches have flaws that enable data to be transmitted and stored without encryption. Hackers could use the watches to track the movement of children and make it look like the children are in places they aren’t.
The BBC noted that it’s unclear whether the agency’s announcement was prompted by privacy concerns or due to the security flaw.
In its October report, the Norwegian Consumer Council found security flaws in three of the four smartwatch that it tested. The companies told the BBC that they had fixed the security software 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 the NCC, said in the report, noting that Europe needs to take measures to boost the security of these devices.