TOP TAKES is IoT Sources’ filtered content channel, bringing you the most important breaking news and notable events surrounding the Internet of Things. Today’s post originated from: Siliconangle.com and authored by JAMES FARRELL.
A German regulator has banned smartwatches for kids and said they should be destroyed by parents since the watches could easily be turned into a spying device.
Telecommmunications regulator Bundesnetzagentur, or Federal Network Agency, called smartwatches “prohibitive listening devices” and said it has already taken action against companies that sell them. The agency said that the devices, which can be used by parents to keep tabs on their kids, violate Germany’s surveillance laws. The companies were not mentioned by name.
The watches are generally aimed at kids from the age of five to 12 years old. The smartwatches contain a SIM card and have a telephone function, which can be controlled via an app. The agency believes this could be jeopardizing the privacy of the classroom because through the app a number can be called which would then allow someone to monitor the audio of a child’s environment. The watches have the potential to act as a wiretap device.
“Via an app, parents can use such watches to secretly listen to a child’s environment,” agency president Jochen Homann said in a statement to Reuters Friday. “They are to be seen as a prohibited transmitter. Our investigation has also shown that parents have used the watches to listen to teachers in the classroom.”
In February, the same agency banned a connected doll, “My friend Cayla.” The dolls were removed from stores in the country amid fears that they could be hacked via a bluetooth connection, leading critics to call them an “espionage device.” The agency has asked parents to be cautious regarding connected devices, “in particular to children’s toys. This is also to protect the most vulnerable in our society.”
As for the watches that are still floating around, the regulator has asked that they not only be destroyed but that parents record their destruction. Once the act is done, the agency will give parents a “certificate of destruction.”