The Pentagon is banning military from using fitness trackers, smartphones that use geolocating features that could reveal user’s location.
Pentagon has banned US military troops and other defense personnel from using devices and applications which utilize GPS.
The military won’t be allowed to use fitness trackers or cellphone applications at that can reveal their location, according to a new Pentagon order.
The ban was announced in a Pentagon memorandum issued Friday and signed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.
“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 memo said: “The rapidly evolving market of devices, applications, and services with geolocation capabilities (e.g., fitness trackers, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and related software applications) presents significant risk to Department of Defense (DoD) personnel both on and off duty, and to our military operations globally.”
These Global Positioning System capabilities can expose personal information, locations, routines and numbers of DoD personnel. Their use in overseas locations “potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission,” Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Robert Manning III told Pentagon reporters.
The decision follows the discovery of a second fitness smartphone app, called Polar Flow, that allows users to share information about their running routes and related to their location — which can compromise safety and missions if users are located on military bases or other sensitive locations.
Department of Defense leaders first were alerted to the potential issue in January after it was found that users of the app Strava, which tracks routes for running and riding bicycles, are tracked on publicly accessible maps as part of a social networking feature.