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Germany bans smartwatches aimed at kids, tells parents to destroy the devices

By midian182 ยท 8 replies
Nov 20, 2017
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  1. Last month, the Norwegian Consumer Council put together a report that warned of the threat to children’s privacy posed by smartwatches aimed at kids. Now, German regulators have banned the wearables, which it describes as “prohibited listening devices," and has urged parents to destroy them.

    The European Consumer Organization (BEUC) had warned that a number of child-friendly smartwatches from the likes of Gator and GPS contained security flaws that could allow hackers to track wearers, spoof a child’s location, listen in on conversations, and compromise the emergency button. The two manufacturers say they have now fixed the issues.

    While it didn’t mention the BEUC report specifically, the German regulator has taken exception to the watches' ability to silently monitor children’s conversations. "Using an app, parents can use such children's watches to listen unnoticed to the child's environment, and they are to be regarded as unauthorized transmitting equipment," said Jochen Homann, President of the Federal Network Agency.

    Homann added that some parents are using their children’s watches to listen in on teachers in the classroom. Recording or listening to conversations without the permission of all parties involved is illegal in Germany. In addition to asking parents to destroy the watches, the regulator is recommending schools take note of any students who may be wearing watches with conversation recording abilities.

    The telecoms regulator said it has already taken action against a number of firms selling the smartwatches online.

    There have been plenty safety concerns over internet-connected toys in the past. Wi-Fi enabled dolls such as My Friend Cayla and Barbie were found to be vulnerable to hackers, as were smart Fisher-Price toys and HeroO watches, all of which have since been patched. Hopefully, introducing something as drastic as an outright ban will encourage manufacturers of connected toys to make the safety of their products the highest priority.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,066   +1,093

    As a teacher, I've already had a couple of my kids trying to record things in my classroom - which I've outlawed... fortunately, my children weren't very savvy in their methods and I caught them quickly.... but it's only a matter of time before I miss one.... glad to see at least one country understands this problem - wish it was mine!
    Reehahs and Darth Shiv like this.
  3. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,978   +1,361

    When I was in college, I bought the Live Scribe pen, which recorded audio and did some other neat stuff. It was very helpful to me especially since I am a slow writer and it was difficult for me to keep up with note taking. However, I first asked my professors if it was ok before I started using it. I know this isn't entirely in the same context as you described but the tech could be used for good in class, depending on the student.
    Reehahs, Theinsanegamer and Panda218 like this.
  4. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,066   +1,093

    Yeah, I should clarify that I'm a Grade 2/3 teacher this year.... so no reason any of my students should have any electronic devices without my knowledge... It's the watches that can fool you - it's not instinctual (yet) to assume that someone's watch can be recording you... welcome to the 21st Century I suppose.
    Theinsanegamer likes this.
  5. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,978   +1,361

    It's always been in the back of my head since D1ck Tracy ;)
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2017
  6. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,624   +1,078

    Implying anyone who buys smartwatches isn't a kid.
  7. Kotters

    Kotters TS Maniac Posts: 330   +223

    Recording teachers has given us some rather disturbing insight into what gets taught at times.
  8. Reehahs

    Reehahs TS Guru Posts: 704   +442

    Though sometimes things are blown out of context by self promoting people.
    Askate likes this.
  9. commanderasus

    commanderasus TS Addict Posts: 224   +95

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