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DoD Bans Location Tracking Apps, Fitness Trackers, & Smartphones On Battlefield

DoD Bans Location Tracking Apps, Fitness Trackers, & Smartphones On Battlefield

That's because a new memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan prohibits the use of GPS-enabled devices - including wearable fitness trackers and smartphone apps that can track your location - in deployed settings, the Department of Defense announced Monday.

Military troops and other defense personnel at sensitive bases or certain high-risk warzone areas won't be allowed to use fitness-tracker or cellphone applications that can reveal their location, a new Pentagon order said.

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

In Iraq and Syria, viewers could easily spot beacons of activity in remote places where military bases are located, presumably indicating favorite jogging or walking routes.

Military commanders will be able to make a judgment call on when troops can power up their smart devices, depending on the status of their operation.

United States 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. Within the USA, the colorful web of lines was mostly just an interesting way of visualizing runners' data, but in Middle Eastern countries such as Afghanistan, the map showed much more.

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Instead, the memorandum instructs that the devices' geospatial tracking capabilities must be turned off in sensitive or risky operating areas where the exposure of location data could cause a "significant risk" to members of the military.

Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said it's a move to ensure the enemy can't easily target USA forces.

"We don't want to give the enemy any unfair advantage", Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesperson, told reporters on Monday.

Outlines of USA outposts in Syria and Iraq could be seen in the maps because many US military personnel used fitness tracking devices, while few local people own them, according to media reports.

This is the second memo affecting the use of cellphones and other electronic devices that the department has released in recent months. In May, defense officials laid out new restrictions for the use of cellphones and other mobile wireless devices inside the Pentagon.

The latest memo says the new restrictions include Global Positioning System functions on fitness trackers, phones, tablets, smart watches and other applications.


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