Pentagon restricts use of geolocation software for troops

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

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

Otherwise, the Pentagon warned, using gadgets can potentially create "unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission", states the 'DoD Policy on the Use of Geolocation-Capable Devices, Applications, and Services in Deployed Areas'.

"The rapidly evolving market of devices, applications and services with geolocation capabilities presents a significant risk to the Department of Defense personnel on and off duty, and to our military operations globally". Audricia Harris told reporters that it was a blanket restriction on the devices at locations deemed as an "operational area", which could include ships out at sea, classified bases or warzones or hostile locations in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or parts of Africa.

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

Warzones such as Iraq and Syria showed scattered pockets of activity that denoted USA military or government personnel using the service.

Defense officials anxious that individuals could use the map to identify running routes around remote or classified USA military bases or in warzones, suggesting that soldiers' lives could be at risk. 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. As CNN noted, the rule would apply to a wide range of products and apps including fitness trackers, smartphones and potentially even dating apps.

The new policy, which is effective immediately, follows reports from earlier this year that some wearable electronic devices, like the popular Fitbit, can convey users' Global Positioning System coordinates in the form of publicly available online maps that display the most frequently trafficked routes of users who allowed their location to be shared.

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

The Pentagon's new order has been many months in the making.

The Pentagon said in January it was reviewing policies regarding such devices after it was revealed that Strava, a fitness tracking app that maps people's exercise habits, may have inadvertently revealed the locations of security forces around the world.

"It's a necessary evolution", he added.

Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said potential penalties will be determined on a case-by-case basis by commanders in the field.

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