Pentagon bans use of fitness trackers, other devices from areas deemed sensitive

Pentagon puts restrictions on fitness trackers | TheHill

Pentagon puts restrictions on fitness trackers | TheHill

Journalists quickly started using the Global Heatmap to identify what they believed to be the locations of other USA personnel, including a suspected Central Intelligence Agency base near Mogadishu, Somalia, and US troops operating in the Sahel region of Africa.

"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", said Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman.

The Pentagon has banned deployed service members from using technology that can show where they are.

The U.S. military is prohibiting its deployed personnel from using geolocation features on smartphones, fitness trackers and other devices because they could create security risks by revealing their location, the Pentagon said on Monday.

Troops in areas where security is less of a concern, such as bases in the U.S. or at the Pentagon itself, can still use their GPS-equipped devices and apps in most cases.

Combatant commanders may authorize the use of geolocation capabilities on non-government devices, applications, and services in operational areas after conducting a "threat-based comprehensive Operations Security (OPSEC) survey", according to the memo. 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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While the information didn't have the users' names attached to it, experts argued at the time that it's quite easy to cross-reference the maps with other social media and public information to track them. But it seems the heatmap was inadvertently mapping places that should have been kept secret.

The Pentagon immediately launched a review.

The Pentagon announced Monday that it is putting new restrictions on USA troops carrying electronics, following revelations early this year that information they were sharing online could be collated to determine the locations of US bases and units overseas.

That memo called for stricter adherence to long-held practices that require phones be left in storage containers outside secure areas. The policy applies to fitness trackers, cellphones, smartwatches and other electronics that can be tracked using Global Positioning System technology. The Pentagon also said it would be providing additional cybersecurity training to personnel as it pertains to such devices an apps.

Fitbit users are able to connect their devices to Strava, allowing friends to see any Fitbit-related activities.

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