Pentagon clamps down on fitness trackers, apps using Global Positioning System

Staff Sgt. Reag Wood of 1st Combined Arms Battalion 5th Brigade 1st Armored Division illustrates how he uses an iphone to obtain a visual image of a mock with insurgent activity during a field training exercise at White Sands Missile Range N.M. (U.S

'These geolocation capabilities can expose personal information, locations, routines, and numbers of DOD personnel, and potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission, ' the memo said.

Military troops and other defense personnel at sensitive bases or certain high-risk warzone areas won't be allowed to use fitness trackers or cellphone applications that can reveal their location, according to a new Pentagon order.

"The rapidly evolving market of devices, applications and services with geolocation capabilities presents a significant risk to the Department of Defense personnel on and off duty, and to our military operations globally", Manning said. Audricia Harris told reporters that it was a blanket restriction on the devices at locations deemed as an "operational area", which could include ships out at sea, classified bases or warzones or hostile locations in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or parts of Africa. Within the USA, the colorful web of lines was mostly just an interesting way of visualizing runners' data, but in Middle Eastern countries such as Afghanistan, the map showed much more.

The Pentagon is clamping down on troops' use of fitness trackers and phone apps that allow a user's location to be tracked, officials said Monday (Aug 6), after it emerged that sensitive data was ending up online.

At the time, the Pentagon insisted that the classified or sensitive locations of US service members had not been compromised by the data.

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The policy calls for training US personnel to use the technology without exposing themselves or fellow service members - training that likely will include advice to turn off data-sharing options in fitness apps. But Defense Secretary James Mattis immediately ordered a review of the Pentagon's policies to see if there needed to be additional guidance or a new policy altogether.

While the ban will affect the United States overseas operations, the personnel working at the Pentagon will still be allowed to use the devices.

The latest memo says the new restrictions include Global Positioning System functions on fitness trackers, phones, tablets, smart watches and other applications. The move bars deployed service members from using the devices in "operational areas" unless commanders have granted an exception.

Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said potential penalties will be determined on a case-by-case basis by commanders in the field.


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