New DoD policy: Deployed service members can not use GPS-enabled devices

Pentagon puts restrictions on fitness trackers | TheHill

Commanders may also authorize these capabilities on government-issued devices in operational areas "based on mission necessity" as long as they consider risks to operational security, the memo states.

The Department of Defense is prohibiting personnel from using geolocation features on their devices while serving in certain locations after concerns that the information transmitted from such devices was jeopardizing the security of American forces around the world, including those deployed in classified or sensitive areas.

The ban takes effect immediately, it said.

"This is all electronic devices that have geolocating features, basically Global Positioning System enabled devices, applications, that type of thing", he added.

The Pentagon announced Monday that US military personnel are no longer allowed to use "geolocation capabilities" on personal or government devices, such as iPhones and fitness-tracking devices, during operational deployments and at the discretion of commanders any other time. "These geolocation capabilities can expose personal information, locations, routines, and numbers of Department personnel, and potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission".

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"It goes back to making sure that we're not giving the enemy an unfair advantage and we're not showcasing the exact locations of our troops worldwide", Manning said.

In January, a 20-year old Australian student named Nathan Ruser was exploring the online maps from Strava's Global Heatmap when he found the location of US troops inside Syria. And while heavily populated areas were well lit, war zones such as Iraq and Syria showed scattered pockets of activity that could denote military or government personnel using fitness trackers as they move around.

The Strava controversy served as a wakeup call for senior Pentagon officials, at least one of whom admitted to wearing a location-tracking Fitbit all the time.

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 will provide additional cybersecurity training to include the risks posed by the trackers and other mobile devices.

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