Pentagon Restricts Use Of Fitness Trackers, Location-Tracking Apps Over Security Concerns

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"It goes back to making sure we're not giving the enemy an unfair advantage and we're not showcasing the exact location of our troops worldwide", Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning told reporters Monday. Otherwise, the Pentagon warned, using gadgets can potentially create "unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission", states the 'DoD Policy on the Use of Geolocation-Capable Devices, Applications, and Services in Deployed Areas'.

The restrictions were issued some six months after the location and movements of US troops were included in a usage map published by the Strava fitness tracking company.

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.

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.

While the Pentagon is not banning the devices, it is imposing restrictions on them.

The Pentagon announced in a Friday memorandum that it would be banning the use of Global Positioning System features on all devices and applications at locations "designated as operational areas". The map is not live, but shows a pattern of accumulated activity. Manning, the Pentagon spokesperson, said punishments for doing so would be "determined on a case-by-case basis" and that commanders would be given "some type of space to make decisions on the ground".

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The memo, obtained by AP, says apps present a "significant risk" to military personnel.

"Our military is operating in a new, hyperconnected world where off-the-shelf products are introducing threats to national security", said Bill Leigher, a retired US Navy rear admiral who's now director of government cyber solutions at Raytheon.

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

The new restrictions come after the fitness app Strava introduced a "heatmap" feature late a year ago showing where users workout, inadvertently making it easy to find hidden American military bases overseas.

Many popular devices and applications, including smartphones, smart watches, fitness and dating apps use geolocation and some applications could potentially not work with the geolocation features turned off. The Pentagon's response also comes after a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to Congress calling for "enhanced assessments and guidance ... to address security risks in DoD" posed by internet of things devices.

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