The Pentagon announced in a Friday memorandum that it would be banning the use of Global Positioning System features on all devices and applications at locations "designated as operational areas".
Military troops and other defense personnel at sensitive bases or certain high-risk warzone areas won't be allowed to use fitness trackers or cellphone applications that can reveal their location, according to a new Pentagon order.
"These geolocation capabilities can expose personal information, locations, routines, and numbers of DoD personnel", Shanahan wrote, "and potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission".
The memo does say that Combatant Commanders, who oversee United States troops around the world, could authorize the use of the devices, but only after conducting "a threat-based comprehensive Operations Security survey".
"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", Manning said yesterday.
The Pentagon announced Monday that it is putting new restrictions on USA troops carrying electronics, following revelations early this year that information they were sharing online could be collated to determine the locations of US bases and units overseas.
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Operational areas mostly consist of sensitive overseas locations where USA personnel are deployed.
Observers noted that few local residents owned the devices and that the activity seen on the heat map allowed for the mapping of military bases and potentially even top secret sites.
Manning said the department will continue to study the risk associated with these devices and change the policy as needed.
The Pentagon immediately launched a review.
That memo allowed cellphones to still be used in Pentagon common areas and offices, but made clear the current practice that requires phones be left in daily-use storage containers located outside the secure spaces where sensitive or classified materials are handled or discussed. It includes physical fitness aids, applications in phones that track locations, and other devices and apps that pinpoint and track the location of individuals.
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.