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techkenyot.com February 17, 2019


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

07 August 2018, 07:41 | Silvia Roy

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

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

"Effective immediately, Defense Department personnel are prohibited from using geolocation features and functionality on government and non-government-issued devices, applications and services while in locations designated as operational areas", the policy memo said.

The new Pentagon policy allows commanding officers to evaluate whether troops should be allowed to use geolocation technology if they deem it doesn't pose a threat - or if a mission requires the use of Global Positioning System apps.

Deployed personnel are in "operational areas", and commanders will make a determination on other areas where this policy may apply.

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

"The rapidly evolving market of devices, applications, and services with geolocation capabilities. presents significant risk to Department of Defense personnel both on and off duty, and to our military operations globally", the Pentagon said in its Friday memo.

The global map reflected more than 1 billion paths that the Strava app tracked - but patterns and locations of US service members could be gleaned from zooming in on sensitive or secured areas.

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That's because a new memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan prohibits the use of GPS-enabled devices - including wearable fitness trackers and smartphone apps that can track your location - in deployed settings, the Department of Defense announced Monday.

The Pentagon said in January it was reviewing policies regarding such devices after it was revealed that Strava, a fitness tracking app that maps people's exercise habits, may have inadvertently revealed the locations of security forces around the world. 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. And while heavily populated areas were well lit, warzones such as Iraq and Syria show scattered pockets of activity that could denote military or government personnel using fitness trackers as they move around. The decision came after concerns were raised about exercise trackers and other electronic devices.

That memo allowed cellphones to still be used in Pentagon common areas and offices, but made clear the current practice that requires phones be left in daily-use storage containers located outside the secure spaces where sensitive or classified materials are handled or discussed.

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Military officials are set to create risk management guidelines and new training for those devices within 30 days, the report said.



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