A German telecoms regulator has banned the sale of children's smartwatches that include location tracking features.
Watches featuring communication functions, which allow parents to communicate with their kids and monitor their whereabouts, are now prohibited from sale across Germany, following a ruling from the Federal Network Agency.
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The ban was passed after concerns that these watches could be used as illegal spying devices. The Federal Network Agency has also asked teachers in German to be vigilant of students using these smartwatches, and urged parents to destroy any watches they've already bought.
"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 unauthorised transmitting system," said Jochen Homann, president of the Federal Network Agency, in a statement.
"We like to emphasize that the ban on these products has nothing to do with GPS," a spokesperson for the FNA told Wareable. "And the ban does not include all Smartwatches." The FNA added that if these monitoring functions are eliminated, the banned watches could be put on sale again.
"The eavesdropping must be wireless," Stefan Hessel, academic assistant at the juris professorship of legal informatics and CISPA at Saarland University, told Wareable. "In the case of watches, the ban only covers devices that have a microphone that can be switched on remotely. The GPS feature is not relevant to the ban."
It's not the first time we've heard about this vulnerability. Just last month the Norwegian Consumer Council carried out tests on kids' smartwatches and discovered that hackers could exploit security holes on most of them. The fact the information being transmitted wasn't being encrypted was particularly concerning.
In the NCC's testing the Gator 2, Tinitell, Viksfjord and Xplora smartwatches were all examined, and only the Tinitell was deemed to not post a security risk, however it was the most limited of all the devices. With the other three it was found to be possible for hackers to communicate with the kids wearing them and even spoof their reported location.