Pentagon bans smartphones, apps that use geolocation services

Aug. 6 (UPI) — The Department of Defense has banned the use of any smartphone and applications that use geolocation services in operational areas.

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.

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.

Officials say the apps revealed when military personnel were on duty, where they lived and, in some cases, information about those were deployed overseas in Iraq, Syria and Djibouti, among other locations.

“Effective immediately, DoD personnel are prohibited from using geolocation features and functionality on both non-government and government-issued devices, applications, and services while in locations designated as operational areas,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said in a memo to the leaders of departments within the Pentagon.

The statement, which was issued on Aug. 3rd, indicated that plans for regulating geolocation would be produced within 30 days.


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