Pentagon restricts use of fitness trackers, other devices

"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". But Defense Department leadership stopped short of instructing troops to leave their wearable devices at home.

It turns out that military personnel were using the fitness tracking app for workouts when at the installations, and it tracks their locations to log the workout and the route, recording information such as distance covered.

Specifically, their use can be authorized after "conducting a threat-based comprehensive Operations Security (OPSEC) survey" or if the use of geolocation on government-issued devices is necessary to carry out a mission.

Defense personnel who aren't in sensitive areas will be able to use the Global Positioning System applications if the commanders conclude they don't present a risk.

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

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 Pentagon discovered a fitness tracking app may have accidentally revealed security force locations around the world.

Observers noted that few local residents owned the devices and that the activity seen on the heat map allowed for the mapping of military bases and potentially even top secret sites.

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 Pentagon has now made it official.

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.

The Department of Defense has banned the use of any smartphone and applications that use geolocation services in operational areas.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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