US DOD bans deployed service members from using GPS-enabled devices

9 August 2018 (Last Updated August 9th, 2018 12:59)

The US Department of Defence (DOD) has released a memo that prohibits deployed service members from using global positioning system (GPS)-enabled devices.

US DOD bans deployed service members from using GPS-enabled devices
US Army Special Forces Soldiers in joint operations with Iraqi counter-terrorism forces. Credit: US Army photo.

The US Department of Defence (DOD) has released a memo that prohibits deployed service members from using global positioning system (GPS)-enabled devices.

According to the memo issued by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, the ‘geolocation devices’ barred from usage in deployed settings include physical fitness aids, phones containing location-tracking applications, and other devices and apps that track the location of individuals.

Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Robert Manning III said: “Effective immediately, Defence Department personnel are prohibited from using geolocation features and functionality on government and non-government-issued devices, applications and services while in locations designated as operational areas.

“The rapidly evolving market of devices, applications and services with geolocation capabilities presents a significant risk to the DOD personnel on and off duty, and to our military operations globally.”

“The new policy empowers commanders to determine other areas where this new rule will be applicable.”

The new policy empowers commanders to determine other areas where this new rule will be applicable.

As part of their workout routines, service members use the devices to track their pace, running routes, calories burned and other personal details.

The DOD noted that the devices store the information and upload it to central servers where it can be shared with third parties.

This poses a threat as enemies can have access to information on military operations such as personal information, locations, routines and number of DOD personnel.

The new policy will also cover personal phones and other portable devices that are equipped with GPS technology-based apps.

However, commanders can make exceptions after undertaking a thorough risk assessment.