Yup, it’s true… Germany’s telecommunications regulator has ruled that smartwatches for kids fall under the category of unauthorized transmitters. Sales of new devices—even over the Internet—are now illegal, and the regulator is urging parents to destroy existing equipment.
Germany is a country that apparently takes user privacy very seriously, and its government seems especially vigilant when it comes to children. Only a few months ago the same regulator issued a similar ban on an Internet-connected talking doll that listens to its owner and responds in real time. That smart toy was deemed to be a surveillance device.
Similar issues are present in child-friendly connected watches. The problems are twofold: first, the SIM card in these watches allows parents to listen in on their child in class (for example), violating the privacy of everyone present in the classroom—including the kid wearing the watch! Also, and perhaps because these products can be construed as toys, they are insecure enough to be at risk from third-party attackers.
That for me is the most interesting aspect of this story. Nearly every security expert I come across warns about the dangers of an unsecured Internet of things. Hopefully the people who make these smart toys and other connected devices will get their act together and step up the security of their products.