Pentagon bans geolocators on apps

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"These geolocation capabilities can expose personal information, locations, routines, and numbers of DoD personnel, and potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission", it added.

USA military troops and other defense personnel at sensitive bases or certain high-risk war zone areas won't be allowed to use features on fitness trackers or cellphone applications that can reveal their location, according to a new Pentagon order.

Shanahan said in the memo, dated August 3 and released Monday, that the rapidly evolving market of devices, applications and services using geolocation "presents significant risk" to US troops and Defense Department employees. The map showed bright spots of activity in places such as Syria and Somalia, where there were otherwise few users of fitness trackers.

Last Friday, an order went into effect, banning the use of location services on both personal and government issued devices used by service members of the USA military.

In January, a 20-year old Australian student named Nathan Ruser was exploring the online maps from Strava's Global Heatmap when he found the location of USA troops inside Syria.

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Department of Defense leaders first were alerted to the potential issue in January after it was found that users of the app Strava, which tracks routes for running and riding bicycles, are tracked on publicly accessible maps as part of a social networking feature.

At the time, the Pentagon insisted that the classified or sensitive locations of USA service members had not been compromised by the data. 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 USA military bases in sensitive locations around the world.

Applicable devices include fitness trackers, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and related software applications, according to a copy of the policy memo sent from Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan to top DoD leadership last week. Now all that's left is for the Pentagon to move its bases to new, unknown, locations.

Deployed personnel are in "operational areas", and commanders will make a determination on other areas where this policy may apply.

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