German telecommunications regulator, the Federal Network Agency, has announced on Friday a ban on all children’s smartwatches, alleging that it can be remotely tapped and used as a spying device.
The devices carry microphones and the agency claims the recorded audio can be transmitted and monitored without the user’s permission.
“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 “, says Jochen Homann , President of the Federal Network Agency.
“According to our research, parents’ watches are also used to listen in on teachers in the classroom, “ he adds.
The FNA has not only declared a ban on the item but has also encouraged parents whose kids own the device to destroy it.
“If buyers of such watches are known to the Federal Network Agency, we ask them to destroy the watch and send proof of this to the Federal Network Agency,” the statement reads.
This isn’t the first time the FNA demanded German citizens to destroy a product aimed at children for privacy reasons.
A doll named “My Friend Cayla” was prohibited for similar motives. The doll carried a radio transmission technology that could allow the environment to be surveilled without user authorization.
In October, the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) also alerted that children’s smartwatches could transmit or store data without encryption, allowing children to be tracked by hackers.
Initiatives to stop such children’s products have been ongoing.
Finn Myrstad, head of digital policy at the NCC, published a statement in December 2016 for the BEUC (The European Consumer Organisation) saying that “together with a number of other European and American consumer organisations, we are now lodging complaints with national data protection authorities and consumer ombudsmen.”
“It is completely unacceptable that products marketed for young children enter the market without any preventive measures taken regarding consumer rights, privacy, and basic security,” he adds.