Pentagon Forbids Use of GPS Features in Fitness Apps

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The decision follows the discovery of a second fitness smartphone app, called Polar Flow, that allows users to share information about their running routes and related to their location - which can compromise safety and missions if users are located on military bases, intelligence agencies or other sensitive locations.

This was all sparked when reports surfaced earlier this year of a fitness-tracking company, Strava, publishing maps showing where users jog, bike and exercise.

"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 Pentagon says Global Positioning System devices could potentially give away the location and personal information of USA troops, putting the lives of men and women on the ground in extreme danger.

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Those who violate the ban on geolocation features will be dealt with on a case by case basis depending on the severity of the infraction, Manning said.

USA 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.

If a commander determines the risk is too great, the devices and apps themselves won't be prohibited, so long as the location-tracking features on them can be ― and are ― switched off.

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". 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. And while heavily populated areas were well lit, war zones such as Iraq and Syria showed scattered pockets of activity that could denote military or government personnel using fitness trackers as they move around.

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The Pentagon immediately launched a review, noting that the electronic signals could potentially disclose the location of troops who are in secret or classified locations or on small forward operating bases in hostile areas.

The Pentagon has now made it official.

The Pentagon also said it will provide additional cybersecurity training to include the risks posed by the trackers and other mobile devices.

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