DoD Bans Location Tracking Apps, Fitness Trackers, & Smartphones On Battlefield

DoD Bans Location Tracking Apps, Fitness Trackers, & Smartphones On Battlefield

The Pentagon on Monday prohibited deployed forces from using Global Positioning System features in fitness apps and other devices after the data could have exposed sensitive details about bases and troops, the Washington Examiner reported Monday.

Military troops and Defense Department personnel deployed to sensitive areas such as war zones will no longer be able to use fitness trackers and cellphone applications that pinpoint their location.

Geolocation capabilities can expose personal information, locations, routines, and numbers of Defense Department personnel, and "potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission", the memo states.

This was all sparked when reports surfaced earlier this year of a fitness-tracking company, Strava, publishing maps showing where users jog, bike and exercise.

The order says the applications on personal or government-issued devices present a "significant risk" to military personnel, so those capabilities must be turned off in certain operational areas.

While the ban will affect the U.S. overseas operations, the personnel working at the Pentagon will still be allowed to use the devices.

Operational areas mostly consist of sensitive overseas locations where USA personnel are deployed. Within the USA, 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.

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Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said it's a move to ensure the enemy can't easily target US forces.

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

The Pentagon immediately launched a review.

This includes fitness trackers, smartphones and potentially even dating apps.

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

That memo allowed cellphones to still be used in Pentagon common areas and offices, but made clear the current practice that requires phones be left in daily-use storage containers located outside the secure spaces where sensitive or classified materials are handled or discussed. The Pentagon also said it would be providing additional cybersecurity training to personnel as it pertains to such devices an apps.

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