A children’s wristwatch that allows the wearer to be easily contacted and located has been recalled by Brussels over safety fears.
The European commission said the Enox Safe-Kid-One, which comes fitted with a global positioning system (GPS), a microphone and speaker, posed a serious risk to children.
The device is designed to allow parents to track the location of the wearer and contact them through an accompanying app.
But the commission warned in its rapid alert system that the app could be easily hacked, allowing strangers to track children or conceal the wearer’s true location from their parents.
“The data such as location history, phone numbers, serial number can easily be retrieved and changed,” the commission said.
“A malicious user can send commands to any watch making it call another number of his choosing, can communicate with the child wearing the device or locate the child through GPS.”
Children and tech
Laws governing children’s relationship with technology vary around the world, and are rarely enforced. The de facto age for many online services is 13, set by the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act in 1998, which prevents sites from targeting children, or knowingly allowing children to provide information online without parental consent. The burden of garnering that consent and the low returns for building services for children has meant, however, that providers tended to turn a blind eye to under-13s on their site, neither catering for them nor expending the effort required to police against their presence.
That said, tech aimed more explicitly at children has blossomed recently, and legislation that aims to protect children from potential harm have also been passed. Schoolchildren in France are barred by law from using their phones in the classroom and, from September this year, from using their phones in school at all.
Such laws are countered by efforts on the part of companies such as Facebook and Google to attract new users while they’re young. Facebook offers Messenger Kids, which allows children to speak to contacts vetted by their parents, while Google’s YouTube has a Kids app that offers copious parental controls and the ability to filter videos for all but the most child-safe content – although the filters, which are run by an algorithm, haven’t always been successful, prompting the company to announce a human-curated version in April.
Ole Anton Bieltvedt, founder of the company that made the watch, said the device had passed tests last year carried out by German regulators.
He told the BBC that the version tested by the EU regulator was no longer on sale. The original alert over the watch was made by the consumer authorities in Iceland, which is outside the EU but a member of the European economic area.
Enox is planning to lodge an appeal in Reykjavik over the initial complaint about the German-manufactured watch.
Bieltvedt said Enox’s distributor in Iceland had made a “strong protest” and “they have appealed to the authorities in charge with the demand that this test conclusion would be reversed”.
In 2017, the German telecoms regulator, the Federal Network Agency, banned similar watches, describing them as “spying devices”.
Source: The Guardian