Pentagon Restricts Use of GPS-Enabled Fitness Trackers
Pentagon Restricts Use of GPS-Enabled Fitness Trackers
Pentagon restricts use of fitness trackers, other electronic devices that reveal locations
08 August, 2018, 18:59
U.S. troops and defence personnel at military bases in warzones won't be allowed to use fitness-tracker apps, according to a new Pentagon order, after location data allowed users to infer the location of secret bases.
And social network app company Strava in November published a heat map that showed the running routes of tens of millions of people using the technology.
"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", according to an August 3 memo from Patrick Shanahan, the deputy secretary of defense.
In cases where these capabilities pose a "threat to personnel and operations", commanders and supervisors will provide OPSEC training and "apply a tiered structure for categorizing location and operations sensitivity while incorporating risk factors to ensure restrictions are consistently and rationally applied", the memo states.
'It goes back to making sure that we're not giving the enemy an unfair advantage and we're not showcasing the exact locations of our troops worldwide, ' Manning said.
Data released by Global Positioning System tracking company Strava in November 2017 shows where the users of fitness devices are around the world, including Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, as shown in this screenshot.
"Zooming in on one of the larger bases clearly reveals its internal layout, as mapped out by the tracked jogging routes of numerous soldiers", The Guardian reported at the time.
Applicable devices include fitness trackers, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and related software applications, according to a copy of the policy memo sent from Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan to top DoD leadership last week.
The Pentagon immediately launched a review, noting that the electronic signals could potentially disclose the location of troops who are in secret or classified locations or on small forward operating bases in hostile areas.
The Department of Defense has banned the use of any smartphone and applications that use geolocation services in operational areas.
In other words, commanders may decide to restrict the use of geolocation capabilities on devices on areas of installations where "sensitive activities" are conducted, Harris said.
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