Pentagon puts restrictions on fitness trackers

Maricruz Casares
Agosto 7, 2018

The Pentagon announced Monday that USA 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.

U.S. military have been banned from using fitness trackers, smartphones and other devices and services over the fear that geolocation features might jeopardize the secrecy of American operations overseas, the Pentagon has announced. Geolocation, he said, "can expose information, locations, routines and numbers" of Defense Department personnel, and "potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission".

USA troops and defense personnel won't be allowed to use smart watches, tablets, cellphones or fitness trackers with Global Positioning System tracking at sensitive locations or in warzone areas, according to a Defense Department memo released Monday.

Operational areas are places where "military personnel are there for a very specific objective or mission" such as Operation Inherent Resolve or Operation Freedom's Sentinel, according to Maj. Audricia Harris, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon, said in a statement, the Examiner reported.

Deployed service members will no longer be able to use "geolocation devices" according to a new memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan.

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Under the new order, military leaders will be able to determine whether troops under their command can use the Global Positioning System function on their devices, based on the security threat in that area or on that base. But it says the "geolocation capabilities" can present a "significant risk" to military personnel, so those functions must be turned off in certain operational areas.

In cases where these capabilities pose a "threat to personnel and operations", commanders and supervisors will provide OPSEC training and "apply a tiered structure for categorizing location and operations sensitivity while incorporating risk factors to ensure restrictions are consistently and rationally applied", the memo states.

In all other locations, including the Pentagon, troops and defense personnel will be able to use the GPS-enabled devices if leaders decides it doesn't pose a risk.

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

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