Pentagon bars fitness trackers, geolocation services in some high-risk and sensitive areas


Navy troops and different defence personnel at sensitive bases or sure high-risk struggle zone areas will not be allowed to make use of fitness-tracker or cellphone functions that may reveal their location, in accordance with a brand new Pentagon order.

The memo, obtained by The Related Press, stops wanting banning the fitness trackers or different digital units, which are sometimes linked to cellphone functions or good watches and can allow the customers’ GPS and train particulars to be shared on social media.

It says the functions on private or government-issued units current a “important threat” to army personnel, so these capabilities have to be turned off in sure operational areas.

Below the brand new order, army leaders will be capable to decide whether or not troops beneath their command can use the GPS perform on their units, based mostly on the safety menace in a given space or base.

“These geolocation capabilities can expose private info, places, routines and numbers of DOD personnel and doubtlessly create unintended safety penalties and elevated threat to the joint drive and mission,” the memo stated.

Restrictions fluctuate by base and mission

Defence personnel who aren’t in sensitive areas will be capable to use the GPS functions if the commanders conclude they do not current a threat.

For instance, troops exercising at main army bases across the U.S., such at Fort Hood in Texas or Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia, would probably be capable to use the placement software program on their telephones or fitness units. Troops on missions in extra sensitive places, corresponding to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or elements of Africa, in the meantime, could be restricted from utilizing the units or be required to show off any location perform.

Military Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, stated it is a transfer to make sure the enemy cannot simply goal U.S. forces.

“It goes again to creating certain that we’re not giving the enemy an unfair benefit and we’re not showcasing the precise places of our troops worldwide,” Manning stated.

Issues about train trackers and different digital units got here to a head in January in the wake of revelations that an interactive, on-line map was pinpointing troop places, bases and different sensitive areas all over the world.

Tuesday’s memo was the second the Pentagon, above, has launched in latest months limiting the usage of cellphones and different digital units. (Charles Dharapak/Related Press)

The World Warmth Map, printed by the GPS monitoring firm Strava, used satellite tv for pc info to map the places of subscribers to Strava’s fitness service.

On the time, the map confirmed exercise from 2015 by means of September 2017. And whereas closely populated areas had been properly lit, struggle zones corresponding to Iraq and Syria present scattered pockets of exercise that might denote army or authorities personnel utilizing fitness trackers as they transfer round.

The Pentagon instantly launched a evaluate, noting that the digital alerts might doubtlessly disclose the placement of troops who’re in secret or categorized places or on small ahead working bases in hostile areas.

Fitbit says information collected provided that customers agree

That is the second memo affecting the usage of cellphones and different digital units that the division has launched in latest months. In Could, defence officers laid out new restrictions for the usage of cellphones and different cell wi-fi units contained in the Pentagon.

That memo known as for stricter adherence to long-held practices that require telephones be left in storage containers outdoors safe areas the place sensitive issues are mentioned. Nevertheless it additionally stopped wanting banning the units and as an alternative made clear that cellphones can nonetheless be used in widespread areas and different workplaces in the Pentagon if categorized info shouldn’t be current.

The most recent memo says the brand new restrictions embrace GPS capabilities on fitness trackers, telephones, tablets, smartwatches and different functions.

The Pentagon additionally stated it’ll present further cybersecurity coaching to incorporate the dangers posed by the trackers and different cell units.

Heather Pierce, a spokeswoman for Fitbit, which makes wearable fitness trackers, stated Monday: “Fitbit is dedicated to defending client privateness and holding information protected.

“In contrast to a smartphone, location information shouldn’t be collected by Fitbit until a consumer provides us entry to the information, and customers can all the time take away our entry.”



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