New DoD policy: Deployed service members can not use GPS-enabled devices

Staff Sgt. Reag Wood of 1st Combined Arms Battalion 5th Brigade 1st Armored Division illustrates how he uses an iphone to obtain a visual image of a mock with insurgent activity during a field training exercise at White Sands Missile Range N.M. (U.S

"The rapidly evolving market of devices, applications, and services with geolocation capabilities (e.g., fitness trackers, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and related software applications) presents significant risk to Department of Defense (DoD) personnel both on and off duty, and to our military operations globally".

Manning said that commanders would have some flexibility with regard to enforcing the ban and punishing potential violators.

The global map reflected more than 1 billion paths that the Strava app tracked - but patterns and locations of USA service members could be gleaned from zooming in on sensitive or secured areas.

It also encouraged commanders of troops not in deployed areas to consider applying the ban.

The Pentagon is clamping down on troops' use of fitness trackers and phone apps that allow a user's location to be tracked, officials said Monday (Aug 6), after it emerged that sensitive data was ending up online.

The change comes more than seven months after an worldwide security student, Nathan Ruser, reviewed information released by the GPS tracking company Strava and discovered that a "global heat map" it provided could be used to map the locations of USA troops and other security forces overseas.

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.

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Pentagon spokesperson Col. Rob Manning told reporters on Monday that the new policy ensures "we're not giving the enemy an unfair advantage", while at the same time "keeping pace with technology".

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.

That memo called for stricter adherence to long-held practices that require phones be left in storage containers outside secure areas where sensitive matters are discussed. But it also stopped short of banning the devices, and instead made clear that cellphones can still be used in common areas and other offices in the Pentagon if classified information is not present.

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

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