Pentagon restricts fitness trackers, mobile devices using GPS functions citing ‘significant risk’ to deployed forces


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Army service members and different protection personnel are actually forbidden from utilizing any health trackers or cellphone apps which use GPS-tracking software program due to enormous security considerations for troops deployed at delicate bases or sure high-risk warzone areas all over the world, in response to a brand new Pentagon order introduced Monday.  

The order stops wanting utterly banning the health trackers or different digital units, which are sometimes linked to apps or good watches and may present the customers’ GPS and train particulars to social media. It says the purposes on private or government-issued units current a “vital danger” to army personnel so these capabilities have to be turned off in sure operational areas.

Fox Information is instructed the ban applies to courting apps, as properly, corresponding to Tinder.

Maj. Audricia Harris, a Pentagon spokesperson, in an announcement to Fox Information, stated: “The quickly evolving market of units, purposes, and companies with geolocation capabilities presents a big danger to the Division of Protection personnel on and off obligation, and to our army operations globally. These geolocation capabilities can expose private info, areas, routines, and numbers of division personnel, and doubtlessly create unintended safety penalties and elevated danger to the joint drive and mission.”

Beneath the brand new order, army leaders will have the ability to decide whether or not troops below their command can use the GPS operate on their units, based mostly on the safety risk in that space or on that base.

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

Protection personnel who aren’t in delicate areas will have the ability to use the GPS purposes, if the commanders conclude it doesn’t current a danger.

For instance, troops exercising at main army posts throughout the nation, such at Fort Hood in Texas or Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia, probably would have the ability to use the situation software program on their telephones or health units. Troops on missions in additional delicate areas, corresponding to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or elements of Africa, in the meantime, can be restricted from utilizing the units or be required to show off any location capabilities.

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

The World Warmth Map, printed by the GPS monitoring firm Strava, used satellite tv for pc info to map the areas of subscribers to Strava’s health service. On the time, the map confirmed exercise from 2015 by September 2017. Whereas closely populated areas had been properly lit, conflict zones corresponding to Iraq and Syria confirmed scattered pockets of exercise that might have denoted army or authorities personnel utilizing health trackers as they moved round.

The Pentagon rapidly launched a overview, noting that the digital alerts doubtlessly may have disclosed the situation of troops in secret or labeled areas or on small forward-operating bases in hostile areas.

That is the second memo affecting using cellphones and different digital units that the division has launched in current months. In Could, protection officers laid out new restrictions for using cellphones and different cellular wi-fi units contained in the Pentagon.

That order known as for stricter adherence to long-held practices requiring that telephones be left in storage containers exterior safe areas the place delicate issues are mentioned. Nevertheless it additionally stopped wanting banning the units, and as a substitute made clear that cellphones nonetheless may very well be utilized in widespread areas and different places of work within the Pentagon if labeled info is just not current.

The newest order says the brand new restrictions embody GPS capabilities on health trackers, telephones, tablets, good watches and different purposes.

The Pentagon additionally stated it will present extra cybersecurity coaching to incorporate the dangers posed by the trackers and different cellular units.

Fox Information’ Lucas Tomlinson and The Related Press contributed to this report.

Frank Miles is a reporter and editor overlaying sports activities, tech, army and geopolitics for He could be reached at [email protected] 

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