Germany uses spying laws to ban child smartwatches - Mobile World Live

Germany uses spying laws to ban child smartwatches

20 NOV 2017

Germany’s Federal Network Agency banned the sale of smartwatches targeted at children using laws designed to prevent espionage.

In a statement, the authority explained products featuring a SIM card and other technology enabled external monitoring of children’s activity without their knowledge, meaning the devices breach German laws covering the abuse of transmitters.

As a result, the agency initiated a ban on the sale of such products targeted at children aged between 5-years and 12-years old, with devices already removed from sale at a number of online retailers.

An agency representative told Mobile World Live there is no definitive list of smartwatches banned – the ban depends on their functionality.

Jochen Homann, Federal Network Agency president, said apps enable parents to “listen unnoticed to the child’s environment”, citing the example of monitoring “teachers in the classroom” as an example. As a result, such devices “are to be regarded as unauthorised transmitters” he stated.

In addition to banning the sale, the agency advised parents and schools they must disable the monitoring functionality of such smartwatches using a standardised procedure, and keep a record of doing so.

Pen Test Partners security specialist Ken Munro told BBC News the move could have an impact on the wider IoT market due to the agency’s use of privacy laws as its basis for the move. Those laws were likely employed due to a “shocking lack of regulation” in the IoT sector, he stated.

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Michael Carroll

Michael doesn’t want to admit that he has been a journalist and editor for close to 20 years covering a diverse set of subjects including shipping and shipbuilding, fixed and mobile telecoms, and motorcycling...More

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