Germany prohibits kids smartwatches, asks parents to destroy them

Efe Udin
Nov 20, 2017

In recent times, the smartwatch industry has evolved tremendously such that it now has products that are comparable to smartphones and fitness trackers. Some manufacturers have released products (FiLIP kids smartwatch, Caref GPS Tracking Watch, VTech Kidizoom SmartWatch Plus, AmbyGear Smartwatch, Orbo Kids Smartwatch etc) which are designed for kids. However, Germany's telecommunication agency, the Bundesnetzagentur, has now labeled all smartwatches that target kids “prohibitive listening devices”. These devices are not only banned in the country, the agency is also asking parents to destroy them.  The agency has also advised all schools to be attentive to kids who have such devices.

This is coming just after the European Consumer Organization’s (BEUC) announced that smartwatches are not recommended for kids as it exposes their privacy. These smartwatches have GPS capabilities which can be easily hacked by hoodlums thereby exposing the child to kidnapping because their exact location will be exposed. However, Germany's ban on kids smartwatches said nothing about this security threat to kids, it was more concerned on the listening capabilities of smartwatches and did not say exactly why this is dangerous for the child.

There has been a crackdown on smartwatches especially in Europe and if this continues, manufacturers might be forced to step up their security protocols and improve the smartwatch market. Most recently, the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) advised that consumers who want to keep their kids safe should "think twice before purchasing a smartwatch". In truth, parents want kids to have these watches with GPS trackers so that they can always keep a tab on their children but the vulnerabilities are enormous. A recent analysis of some kids smartwatch brands shows that a potential attacker could easily take control of the apps in these smartwatches thereby exposing their real-time location, historical location, and personal details. Also, this will allow the attacker to contact the children without the parent's knowledge. In addition, the analysis also shows that these smartwatches can also be hacked and used as a listening device where every sound around the watch will be heard without any indication on the watch that someone is listening.

Therefore, some of these products do not only pose security threats to kids, it could be a potential privacy risk to the parents.

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