Germany has officially prohibited the production and sale of smartwatches that allow parents monitor the activities of their kids.
The regulator alleges that the smartwatches have loose security which could be used by kidnappers to track children. The watches are generally produced for children between the ages of five and twelve, configured with a sim card and controlled through an app, which is supposed to be monitored by a parent or a guardian.
Notably, the GPS and Gator configuration were flawed by the Norwegian Consumer Council, alleging that the absence of encryption would give access to a notorious third party. This meant that a complete stranger could manipulate the GPS device to make the child appear to be in a different location, making it impossible or difficult for the child’s movement to be monitored by their parent or guardian.
Moreover, these smartwatches also allow for privacy invasion, which is against German’s surveillance policy. With a lax configuration, anyone could snoop on the conversations that go on in the kids’ classrooms and with friends. ‘Poorly secured smart devices often allow for privacy invasion. That is really concerning when it comes to kids’ GPS tracking watches- the very watches that are supposed to help keep them safe’, Mr. Ken Munro, a security expert at Pen Test Partners said. The president of the Federal Network Agency also expressed his displeasure on how parents snoop on their children’s activities unnoticed without their consent, which according to him is ‘an unauthorised transmitting system’.
It’s therefore, not really clear why an embargo has been placed on the production and sales of smartwatches in Germany. Whether for security reasons or privacy concerns?
With the wave of Internet of Things in the air, there are innovations here and there and there’s no agency to checkmate or regulate productions of endless innovations. According to Mr. Munro, it paves way for ‘dangerous insecure smart products’ to enter the market. ‘Using privacy regulation to ban such devices is a game changer, stopping these manufacturers playing fast and loose with our kids’ security’, he added.
Whichever the reason, whether privacy or security, the ban on these smartwatches is an indication that the producers should practice ‘safe-innovations’ and parents, more security consciousness.