Consumer protectionGerman Network Agency withdraws tracking devices with monitoring function from circulation

Today, the German Federal Network Agency announced that from now on it will take more serious action against tracking devices and their sales, which have a monitoring function next to the use of GPS or GSM to determine their position data . These GPS/GSM trackers are used to locate stolen vehicles or escaped pets and are foreseen to be applied to children’s schoolbags as well. Any additional monitoring or interception functions of such devices are, however, forbidden in Germany.

These are the key points:

  • GPS/GSM trackers with monitoring function can be activated from a distance via app or SMS command and thus can eardrop on any conversation unnoticed. Such interception merely requires the phone number of the tracker's SIM card.

  • Potential purchasers are advised to check their tracker devices for any monitoring functions. In the product description this is usually indicated as a "monitoring" or "listening function" as well as a usage note for interception.

  • The Network Agency requests new buyers to destroy the respective device and to send proof of this. Owners of these devices are advised to make the trackers harmless and to keep records of destruction.

Jochen Homann, President of the German Federal Network Agency, commented: "GPS trackers are being increasingly used to locate people, often children. If they also have a microphone and can overhear conversations unnoticed, then they classify as prohibited transmitters. In order to protect the privacy of the carriers and the environment of the tracking devices, we remove them from the market."

Source: German Federal Network Agency

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