The memo said Defense Department personnel were prohibited from using "geolocation features and functionality on government and non-government-issued devices, applications, and services while in locations designated as operational areas".
U.S. 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.
Under the new order, military leaders will be able to determine whether troops under their command can use the Global Positioning System function on their devices, based on the security threat in that area or on that base.
The Pentagon on Monday prohibited deployed forces from using Global Positioning System features in fitness apps and other devices after the data could have exposed sensitive details about bases and troops, the Washington Examiner reported Monday. Troops on missions in more sensitive locations, such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or parts of Africa, meanwhile, would be restricted from using the devices or be required to turn off any location function. "It goes back to making sure that we're not giving the enemy an unfair advantage and we're not showcasing the exact locations of our troops worldwide", Manning said.
And social network app company Strava in November published a heat map that showed the running routes of tens of millions of people using the technology.
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. At the time, the map showed activity from 2015 through September 2017.
The Pentagon announced Monday that US military personnel are no longer allowed to use "geolocation capabilities" on personal or government devices, such as iPhones and fitness-tracking devices, during operational deployments and at the discretion of commanders any other time.
While the ban will affect the United States overseas operations, the personnel working at the Pentagon will still be allowed to use the devices. This is the second memo affecting the use of cellphones and other electronic devices that the department has released in recent months.
Prior to announcing the new Pentagon policy, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) advised the U.S. soldiers to be vigilant of their smart devices revealing their locations to third parties.
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.
Military officials are set to create risk management guidelines and new training for those devices within 30 days, the report said.