Pentagon restricts use of geolocation software for troops

Pentagon puts restrictions on fitness trackers | TheHill

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

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

The Defense Department has instituted a ban on devices and applications that use geolocation for agency personnel while in locations designated as operational areas (OAs).

"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", the order says.

At the time, the map showed activity from 2015 through September 2017.

That's because a new memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan prohibits the use of GPS-enabled devices - including wearable fitness trackers and smartphone apps that can track your location - in deployed settings, the Department of Defense announced Monday. The global map reflected more than 1 billion paths that the Strava app tracked - but patterns and locations of US service members could be gleaned from zooming in on sensitive or secured areas.

The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, stops short of banning the fitness trackers or other electronic devices, which are often linked to cellphone applications or smart watches and can provide the users' Global Positioning System and exercise details to social media.

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But in the meantime, foreign nations are imposing tariffs on some USA goods such as soybeans and whiskey. The retaliation stands to further inflame tensions between the world's two biggest economies.

The policy calls for training USA personnel to use the technology without exposing themselves or fellow service members - training that likely will include advice to turn off data-sharing options in fitness apps. Now all that's left is for the Pentagon to move its bases to new, unknown, locations.

"We don't want to give the enemy any unfair advantage", Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesperson, told reporters on Monday.

The change comes more than seven months after an worldwide security student, Nathan Ruser, reviewed information released by the GPS tracking company Strava and discovered that a "global heat map" it provided could be used to map the locations of USA troops and other security forces overseas.

It also highlights the larger debate over the military's use of technology and its handling of cybersecurity.

"It's a necessary evolution", he added.

The ban takes effect immediately, it said.

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