Pentagon restricts use of geolocation software for troops

Pentagon puts restrictions on fitness trackers | TheHill

Commanders may also authorize these capabilities on government-issued devices in operational areas "based on mission necessity" as long as they consider risks to operational security, the memo states.

In all other locations, including the Pentagon, troops and defense personnel will be able to use the GPS-enabled devices if leaders decides it doesn't pose a risk.

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

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.

The Department of Defense is prohibiting personnel from using geolocation features on their devices while serving in certain locations after concerns that the information transmitted from such devices was jeopardizing the security of American forces around the world, including those deployed in classified or sensitive areas.

U.S. military have been banned from using fitness trackers, smartphones and other devices and services over the fear that geolocation features might jeopardize the secrecy of American operations overseas, the Pentagon has announced.

For example, troops exercising at major military bases around the country, such at Fort Hood in Texas or Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia, would likely be able to use the location software on their phones or fitness devices.

The Pentagon announced Monday that it is putting new restrictions on US troops carrying electronics, following revelations early this year that information they were sharing online could be collated to determine the locations of USA bases and units overseas.

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The department said in January that it was reviewing its policies regarding location-tracking devices and apps after the fitness tracking app Strava published an interactive map online that accidentally revealed the locations of US military bases in sensitive locations around the world.

Strava posted heat maps showing movements of people exercising while wearing fitness tracker devices and publicly sharing the time and location of their workouts via the app.

The ban would not affect military and civilian personnel in places like the Pentagon.

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 latest memo said the new restrictions include Global Positioning System functions on fitness trackers, phones, tablets, smartwatches and other applications.

Heather Pierce, a spokeswoman for Fitbit, said Monday: "Fitbit is committed to protecting consumer privacy and keeping data safe".

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