Pentagon Bars Troops from Using GPS-Tracking Devices While Deployed

07 Août, 2018, 08:06 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Pentagon Bars Troops from Using GPS-Tracking Devices While Deployed

The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, stops short of banning the fitness trackers or other electronic devices, which are often linked to cellphone applications or smart watches and can provide the users' Global Positioning System and exercise details to social media.

"Effective immediately, Defense Department personnel are prohibited from using geolocation features and functionality on government and nongovernment-issued devices, applications and services while in locations designated as operational areas", Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Robert Manning III told reporters. 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".

Commanders may also authorize these capabilities on government-issued devices in operational areas "based on mission necessity" as long as they consider risks to operational security, the memo states.

"The caveat is that combatant commanders can come back and say 'look, under these circumstances we have assessed the risk and this is our decision, ' " Harris said.

In other words, commanders may decide to restrict the use of geolocation capabilities on devices on areas of installations where "sensitive activities" are conducted, Harris said. A review of Pentagon policies about the devices that made this possible was ordered and that's what this memo is all about.

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

Defense Secretary James Mattis in January had considered a ban on allowing civilian employees at the Pentagon to bring their personal cellphones, prompted in part by several cases where employees brought their personal phones into classified areas.

In one recent instance, the fitness app Polar revealed locations of people exercising in secretive locations such as intelligence agencies, military bases and airfields, nuclear weapons storage sites, and embassies around the world, Bellingcat reported.

Defense officials anxious that individuals could use the map to identify running routes around remote or classified US military bases or in warzones, suggesting that soldiers' lives could be at risk. Officials say that information can present enemies with information on military operations.

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