The robot vacuum cleaner has WLAN, the teddy bear has Bluetooth: the networking of devices and toys is progressing. But if these gadgets also have “eyes” or “ears”, caution is in order.

Bonn – Flower pots with microphone, wall clocks and water bottles with camera or piggy banks with night vision: those who find such gadgets on the net and consider them a fun Christmas present are completely mistaken.

Because devices that are particularly suitable or intended for shooting out of sight are illegal in our country, warns the Federal Network Agency. But a forbidden gadget is not always as easy to recognize as the spy and nocturnal piggy bank.

Smart glasses may be illegal

Smart glasses with photo and video functionality could also be illegal if no noticeable optical or acoustic signal draws sufficient attention to a shooting situation, the authority explains.

In addition, gadgets with a hidden camera or microphone, which can make recordings without the users’ knowledge and transmit them to other receiving devices via WLAN or Bluetooth, are prohibited in Germany.

… and food vending machines that also emit

According to the Federal Network Agency, a ban could for example also apply to food vending machines if they have a camera and/or microphone capable of transmitting and if the recording situation does not is not clearly identifiable as such by the persons concerned.

Devices that can be accessed remotely to eavesdrop or observe someone in secret, for example via an app, are also illegal. According to the authority, these can be toys such as robots and stuffed animals equipped with cameras and/or microphones, but also robot vacuum cleaners which do not give acoustic or visual indications to third parties on such recordings. . The Federal Network Agency is currently examining several bots on the market for this.

Check before buying

It is clear that as soon as toys or devices are connected and equipped with a camera or a microphone, they encroach on the private sphere of their users or the people around them. That is why one should carefully read the product descriptions and data protection provisions of the corresponding applications before purchasing such gadgets.

On its web pages, the Federal Network Agency informs in detail about prohibited devices and the dangers they pose. If in doubt about the prohibition of a particular device, it is also possible to contact the authority by e-mail ([email protected]) or by telephone (0228/ 14 15 16), Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. dpa

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