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Germany bans smartwatches marketed at children

Smartwatches targetted at children, like the VTech Kidizoom, are now banned in Germany. (Image: VTech)
Smartwatches targetted at children, like the VTech Kidizoom, are now banned in Germany. (Image: VTech)
Children's smartwatches have been found to have glaring security holes, some of which can present a serious threat to the safety of the children that wear them. These security issues, along with privacy concerns, have led German officials to ban the sale of children's smartwatches.

Smartwatches were once a “must-have” accessory in the tech world. However, the market for wearables has declined over the past year, and it’s about to get smaller; the German Federal Network Agency has banned the sale of children’s smartwatch devices within the country.

Smartwatches aimed at children aren’t a new thing. Several different companies have sold wearable tech for kids with rudimentary features, like simple telephone calling and GPS tracking, which are usually controlled via an app downloaded on a parent’s phone. However, the security risks that these features can pose recently came to light. Back in October, the Norwegian Consumer Council discovered that some kids’ smartwatches don’t encrypt the data they store or send to the parent’s phone, which opens up several security risks for the child wearing a device.

The lack of encryption makes it relatively simple to hack into one of the afflicted smartwatches, which could allow nefarious parties to either track a child or spoof their GPS transmitter. In other words, predators with a penchant for hacking could locate a child wearing a smartwatch and then imitate the device in order to send the parent a false location. Other features pose a privacy risk as well. Some children’s wearables use a microphone to allow the parent to hear their child’s environment. Jochen Homann, president of the Federal Network Agency of Germany, said that watches with this feature should be “regarded as an unauthorized transmitting system,” citing that some parents use their kids’ watches to listen in on teachers in a classroom, all without the knowledge of the teacher.

Because of these reasons, the FNA has instituted a full ban on children’s smartwatches and has urged parents who own one to discard it immediately.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2017 11 > Germany bans smartwatches marketed at children
Sam Medley, 2017-11-18 (Update: 2017-11-18)
Sam Medley
Sam Medley - Review Editor - @samuel_medley
I've been a "tech-head" my entire life. After graduating college with a degree in Mathematics, I worked in finance and banking a few years before taking a job as a Systems Analyst for my local school district. I started working with Notebookcheck in October of 2016 and have enjoyed writing news articles and notebook reviews. My areas of interest include the business side of technology, retro gaming, Linux, and innovative gadgets. When I'm not hunched over an electronic device or writing code for a new database, I'm either outside with my family, playing a decade-old video game, or sitting behind a drum set.