Pentagon restricts use of GPS-enabled fitness trackers

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United States troops and defence personnel at military bases in warzones won't be allowed to use fitness-tracker apps, according to a new Pentagon order, after location data allowed users to infer the location of secret bases.

Robert Manning III told reporters yesterday that Global Positioning System use can "potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission" in locations around the world.

Military leaders will be able to conduct risk assessments to determine whether troops under their command can use the devices in the area or on the base they are located. The department said in January that it was reviewing its policies regarding location-tracking devices and apps after the fitness tracking app Strava published an interactive map online that accidentally revealed the locations of us military bases in sensitive locations around the world.

"The rapidly evolving market of devices, applications, and services with geolocation capabilities. presents significant risk to Department of Defense personnel both on and off duty, and to our military operations globally", the Pentagon said in its Friday memo.

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By placing a partial ban on the devices, the Pentagon is in a sense warning against overusing its own technology.

Operational areas mostly consist of sensitive overseas locations where USA personnel are deployed.

At the time, the map showed activity from 2015 through September 2017.

A portion of the Strava Labs heat map from Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, made by tracking activities.

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Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said potential penalties will be determined on a case-by-case basis by commanders in the field. It includes physical fitness aids, applications in phones that track locations, and other devices and apps that pinpoint and track the location of individuals.

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

The Department of Defense has banned the use of any smartphone and applications that use geolocation services in operational areas. In May, defence officials laid out new restrictions for the use of cellphones and other mobile wireless devices inside the Pentagon. The Pentagon also said it would be providing additional cybersecurity training to personnel as it pertains to such devices an apps.

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