Smartwatches for kids have been banned by regulators in Germany, with parents even urged to destroy the wearable devices.
This is not the first time that electronic devices involving children have faced the banhammer, but why would the German government also recommend the smartwatches to be destroyed?
Smartwatches For Kids Banned In Germany
The Federal Network Agency, the telecommunications regulator of Germany, banned the sale of smartwatches for children, and urged parents who have already bought the devices to destroy them.
According to the agency, a number of the wearable devices may allow someone to remotely access their microphones. This would effectively allow people to spy on children wearing the smartwatches, including the people around them.
Recording conversations without permission from all people involved is illegal in Germany. Federal Network Agency President Jochen Homann revealed that in the regulator's investigation, parents were actually using the smartwatches to listen to what teachers say during classes.
Turning the smartwatches into spying devices that function similarly to baby monitors can be done by hackers and parents alike. This is why the German government is very serious in wishing for the devices to be destroyed. In fact, it is requesting for parents to document how the smartwatches are disposed of, with the regulator to then issue a so-called "certificate of destruction."
Kids And Digital Privacy
The ban on smartwatches for kids follows the warning issued last month by the European Consumer Organization that the devices may be serious threats to the privacy of children. A Norwegian Consumer Council report then revealed flaws in several smartwatches that made them vulnerable to hackers.
It is unclear if the findings and decision of the Federal Network Agency were based on these previous reports, but the smartwatch ban for kids is not the first time that the country's government has ordered parents to destroy something that belonged to their children.
Earlier this year, the Federal Network Agency warned parents that My Friend Cayla, a Wi-Fi-connected smart doll, can be compromised to allow hackers to listen to children and even talk to them. This was possible through the insecure Bluetooth connection in the toy, so as it was taken down from shelves, parents were also recommended to destroy the doll if they bought it.
Fortunately, some companies such as Google, through its Family Link app, have become more vigilant in protecting the digital privacy of children. However, the tables have turned in some cases, such as how a 10-year-old kid was able to unlock his mother's iPhone X through Face ID.