Kids' smart watches are a security/privacy dumpster-fire

Originally published at:


And no one who pays attention to this sort of thing was remotely surprised.


Well, don’t forget that the people who buy these are victims, because as I have learned on BB to my cost, criticizing those who mindlessly buy and install leaky IOT shit is “victim blaming”.

In much the same way, this guy was a victim.


In recent years, kid-gadget companies have routinely hemorrhaged sensitive data taken from children and their families…

That’s all right. It’s not like there’s any penalties or enforcement.


But isn’t it all worth it to teach your children that surveillance and control are a normal part of a healthy relationship?

That’s the kind of life lesson that can cause you trouble long after any individual tracking device has broken or been lost.


Having carefully studied the kind of thing the modern public likes to buy and vote for, I believe I can make a killing with my new line of smart underpants for kids, featuring livestreaming cameras and haptic feedback that let friends and strangers interact with the wearer’s swimsuit area 24/7.

I’m not surprised that the security on these things is horrible but the first question that came to my mind is “what parents buy a smart watch for their kids?”. I must be some kind of monster for thinking that…


As a parent, I can certainly attest that putting your children in peril by not monitoring them 24-7 until they’re 16 (18 in some places) is pretty much tantamount to child abuse.

We are at the stage that every preventable death is a crime. What sort of monster wants to allow preventable deaths?

I’ll admit to being such a monster. The cost of preventing all avoidable deaths is the removal of all privacy from children and the removal of any activities that could have tragic results.

And make no mistake, if you want to allow children any privacy, any exposure to physical risk, any freedom, then you are such a monster as well.

All it takes to have your children taken away, or if your middle-class, fight endless bureaucratic nightmares, is to encounter one person who completely understands that the only thing that matters is your child’s physical safety.

We are far less casual about the loss of human life than we were even 50 years ago. The price of saving those lives is the almost inevitable failure to understand that even saving lives is a trade-off against other things that are harder to measure and thus easy to ignore.

[Edit for clarity: preventing avoidable deaths -> preventing all avoidable deaths]


I’d love to see a database of these EULAs.

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That is so good that the casual reader might not see it as a parody. My hat’s off…


Surely the upside to this is that the Youth of Tomorrow will be spared the guilt of reporting their parents behaviour to a totalitarian government, as their watch microphone will do the snitching for them?

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American, huh?

North American. It might be slightly worse south of the border, but I suspect that it’s mostly news selection bias.

And it’s not like the worst case scenario is common, but all it takes is that 1 in 1,000 crusader who genuinely feels that people who put their children at risk should not be allowed to parent children to make your and your children’s lives a living hell.

Of course, I believe that people who put their children at risk too much should not be allowed to parent children… It’s just my definition of “too much” is about 20 years behind the times.

The trouble with life is there are very few bright lines and the law is all about bright lines. So laws around here are written excessively tightly with the idea of discretion on the part of enforcement.

This means that parent who gives their child a spank because he just ran out in to the road and nearly killed himself is technically identical to the parent who beats their child with a belt because they disrespected their parent.

And whenever discretion exists, it generally will be abused by someone. It’s the nature of discretion. For some, this means discretion must be removed and the laws written perfectly. For people like myself, it’s part of the trade-off involved with allowing people to use their judgement.

Which means, in the end, that as long as we are convinced that a child’s life has infinite worth and how they live that life does not, over-protectiveness is here to say.

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Which would be wrong. However, this isn’t needed. Lots of countries in Europe ban “spanking” along with other kinds of corporeal banishments and give their children ample free time. Well, except the Brits, from what I’ve read.

I recently unsubscribed from a “free range kids” blog when I realized that there is nothing worthwhile to read anymore, as any success story (from their point of view) is more or less normal parenting over here. And Germany isn’t even especially “free range”.


I don’t blame the laws. I blame progress. :slight_smile:

It’s not a matter of too strict laws. I think you’ll find almost every European country has laws that could allow state intervention in things we all consider not worthy of intervention.

For example, exactly how long can you let a 13 year old be be alone? 10 minutes? 1 hour? 10 hours, 10 days, a year? Any length you choose will be obviously too long in one circumstance and too short in others. It’s better we err on the side of possible intervention.

In the end, we have to rely on discretion, and discretion in general follows the cultural norms in a sort of bell-curve around it. The norms for acceptable childhood risk have plunged so far that there’s now a noticeable (but not numerous) number of people who who can and will act in situations I consider completely ridiculous.

And why has the cultural norm changed? Because we are wealthy enough that we can protect our children to an extent that would have been unimaginable 50 years ago. That, and the number of kids per parent has plunged (yes, it’s a bit of a feedback loop), making it possible to over-protect one child in a way that you can’t over-protect three.

Um, a seven year old is supposed to be able to get to his elementary school by bike on their own. A 13 year old should be able to navigate a couple of kilometers to school by bus, return during the afternoon and, if necessary, let themselves in and do their homework until their parents.

So depending on their age, a couple of days should be okay.


This is Boing Boing where the law is that everything is always the fault of the USA.

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Oh, come on! You know sometimes we blame the British… :wink:


There are 13 year-olds, for one reason or another, who are not competent to be left on their own for more than brief periods. Should they be unprotected by the law?

The law is written so that the state can intervene on their behalf. Thus in Ontario, there’s effectively no difference between a 0 year old and a 16 year old as far as the law is written. What protects you is the discretion of the state.

The only choice to the discretion of the state is to prosecute millions, or leave thousands to face abuse. We simply can’t codify all of human experience.