Pentagon bans troop use of geolocation devices, smartphone applications

Pentagon puts restrictions on fitness trackers | TheHill

"Effective immediately, DoD personnel are prohibited from using geolocation features and functionality on both non-government and government-issued devices, applications, and services while in locations designated as operational areas", Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said in a memo to the leaders of departments within the Pentagon.

After data from the Strava fitness app was shown to depict USA personnel movements at military bases, the Pentagon is restricting the use of geolocation devices. The Pentagon started looking into it shortly after Strava published a heat map showing where users were exercising, including on military bases at home and overseas.

Manning said that commanders would have some flexibility with regard to enforcing the ban and punishing potential violators.

While the information didn't have the users' names attached to it, experts argued at the time that it's quite easy to cross-reference the maps with other social media and public information to track them.

"We don't want to give the enemy any unfair advantage", Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesperson, told reporters on Monday. But it says the "geolocation capabilities" can present a "significant risk" to military personnel, so those functions must be turned off in certain operational areas.

"Our military is operating in a new, hyperconnected world where off-the-shelf products are introducing threats to national security", said Bill Leigher, a retired US Navy rear admiral who's now director of government cyber solutions at Raytheon. But it seems the heatmap was inadvertently mapping places that should have been kept secret.

Boris Johnson under mounting pressure to apologize for controversial burqa comments
They said: "We must not fall into the trap of shutting down the debate on hard subjects". If a woman wants to wear a burqa it is her right to do so.

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.

This includes fitness trackers, smartphones and potentially even dating apps.

This is the second memo affecting the use of cellphones and other electronic devices that the department has released in recent months.

The new restrictions come after the fitness app Strava introduced a "heatmap" feature late previous year showing where users workout, inadvertently making it easy to find hidden American military bases overseas.

That memo called for stricter adherence to long-held practices that require phones be left in storage containers outside secure areas. The Pentagon also said it would be providing additional cybersecurity training to personnel as it pertains to such devices an apps.

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