German government bans children’s smartwatches

The Federal Network Agency, Germany’s regulatory agency for public utility companies, has categorized children’s smartwatches as spying devices, and has banned their sale.

In an announcement on Friday, the Federal Network Agency telecoms watchdog said it had already taken action against some online sellers. The target group for the smartwatches are children between the ages of 5 and 12 years.

“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,” said Jochen Homann, president of the Federal Network Agency in a statement. “According to our research, parents’ watches are also used to listen to teachers in the classroom.”

The app owner is able to silently call the device via such functions and listen unnoticed to the conversations of the watch wearer and others in their vicinity — an act of covert surveillance that is illegal in Germany.

The agency has instructed parents to destroy any devices they have bought, and asked schools to be on the look out for smartwatches being used by children — and to request destruction of listening devices they identify.

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