Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Pentagon restricts use of fitness trackers, other electronic devices that reveal locations

Pentagon restricts use of fitness trackers, other electronic devices that reveal locations

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. "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".

The restriction likely won't affect troops and personnel at major military bases in the US or the Pentagon itself; but those in more sensitive locations like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan will probably be impacted.

The Pentagon is banning deployed personnel from using fitness trackers, smartphones and potentially even dating apps that use geolocating features that could reveal the user's location.

Pentagon spokesperson Col. Rob Manning told reporters on Monday that the new policy ensures "we're not giving the enemy an unfair advantage", while at the same time "keeping pace with technology".

Global Positioning System tracking company Strava released an interactive map in November 2017 that showed where the users of fitness devices are around the world.

USA 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. The map showed bright spots of activity in places such as Syria and Somalia, where there were otherwise few users of fitness trackers.


Defense officials anxious that individuals could use the map to identify running routes around remote or classified USA military bases or in warzones, suggesting that soldiers' lives could be at risk. In May, defense officials laid out new restrictions for the use of cellphones and other mobile wireless devices inside the Pentagon.

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

That memo called for stricter adherence to long-held practices that require phones be left in storage containers outside secure areas where sensitive matters are discussed.

Annual Cybersecurity Awareness training will also be updated to assist DoD personnel in "identifying and understanding risks posed by geolocation capabilities embedded in devices and applications".

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