German telecom regulator Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) has banned the sale of smartwatches that aim at children, accusing them of being spy devices.
These smartphone apps may allow privacy invasion, which is one of the greatest threat to the world right now. People have started using their smartphones to store sensitive information, hence the security of such information should be promised.
The telecom regulator had previously banned an internet-connected doll called My Friend Cayla for similar reasons.
Some experts think that this decision could be a “game-changer” for internet-connected devices.
“Poorly secured smart devices often allow for privacy invasion. That is really concerning when it comes to kids’ GPS tracking watches – the very watches that are supposed to help keep them safe,” said Ken Munro, a security expert at Pen Test Partners.
“There is a shocking lack of regulation of the ‘internet of things’, which allows lax manufacturers to sell us dangerously insecure smart products. Using privacy regulation to ban such devices is a game-changer, stopping these manufacturers playing fast and loose with our kids’ security,” he added.
The kids targeted smart devices have been taking over the market and with it the concerns of their tracking. Just last month, European watch dog group, Norwegian Consumer Council, issued a report that warned about the safety concerns over GPS-enabled devices. That report went beyond tracking on the part of the parents, outlining the potential for simple hacking by outside parties.
“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,” told Jochen Homann, president of the Federal Network Agency to BBC.
“According to our research, parents’ watches are also used to listen to teachers in the classroom.”
The agency also asked schools to “pay more attention” to such watches among students.
These watches are very popular in Germany and target kids from five to twelve. These smartwatches are sold by a large number of retailers in Germany and are equipped with a SIM card and limited telephony functions and are controlled via an app.
Earlier in October, NCC reported that ‘some children’s watches – including Gator and GPS for kids – had flaws such as transmitting and storing data without encryption.
Hence, the data could be hacked easily by some hackers and the kids can be tracked as they move or show his location at a place where he actually isn’t.
Finn Myrstad, head of digital policy at the NCC said: “This ban sends a strong signal to makers of products aimed at children that they need to be safer.”