Pentagon Reviewing Fitness Trackers That Could Expose Troop Locations

The Defense Department began reviewing the policy Monday on the use of wearable fitness devices that could potentially expose troops’ locations to an enemy.
“We take these matters seriously, and are reviewing the situation to determine whether any additional training or guidance is required, and if any additional policy must be developed to ensure the safety of DoD personnel, at home and abroad,” said Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman.
Manning was responding to a Washington Post report that troops using such devices as Fitbit and Jawbone could potentially be exposing information on their whereabouts and activities at military bases worldwide.
The report said that an interactive map found online — the Global Heat Map, published by the GPS tracking company Strava — used satellite information to map the locations and movements of subscribers to the company’s fitness service.
The data reportedly was specific enough to identify 50 U.S. service members by name based on their jogging runs in the area at a remote air base in Afghanistan.
“DoD personnel are advised to emplace strict privacy settings on wireless technologies and applications” while the policy review is underway, Manning said at a Pentagon briefing. Without being specific, Manning also said that wearable fitness devices already “are forbidden at specific DoD sites and during specific activities.”
When asked if the devices and the interactive map had to date compromised any DoD activities, Manning said “not to my knowledge.”
U.S. troops already get routine training on keeping their online profiles low and avoiding the posting of personal photos and information.
However, Manning said that “the rapid development of technology requires constant refinement of policies and procedures to enhance force protection and operational security.”
— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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