Pentagon Forbids Use of GPS Features in Fitness Apps

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That's because a new memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan prohibits the use of GPS-enabled devices - including wearable fitness trackers and smartphone apps that can track your location - in deployed settings, the Department of Defense announced Monday.

The announcement comes after news stories surfaced earlier this year that fitness apps such as Polar Flow and Strava have been inadvertently giving away locations and habits of US service members on installations around the world.

In Iraq and Syria, viewers could easily spot beacons of activity in remote places where military bases are located, presumably indicating favorite jogging or walking routes.

"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", says Shanahan's memo, which was released by the Pentagon press office too ensure everyone sees it.

After taking their time, higher-ups at the Pentagon decided that the Global Positioning System functionality on mobile devices is a security risk and information from them can be used by enemies of the United States, even if app developers don't voluntarily share it with the world.

Concerns about exercise trackers and other electronic devices came to a head in January in the wake of revelations that an interactive, online map was pinpointing troop locations, bases and other sensitive areas around the world.

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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 USA troops and Defense Department employees.

"One of the things about the policy is that we wanted to make sure that as we were developing it, we were very clear about giving commanders latitude ... to make decisions on the ground", Manning said.

US troops walk outside their base in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan July 7, 2017.

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

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. Officials say that information can present enemies with information on military operations.

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