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DoD Prohibits Department Personnel From Using Geolocation Tools in Operational Areas

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently issued a memo prohibiting Defense Department personnel in operational areas from using the geolocation features of their electronic devices.

Activating geolocation functions of devices such as smartphones and fitness trackers could result in “unintended security consequences” by divulging “personal information, locations, routines and numbers of DoD personnel,” Shanahan said in the memo dated Aug. 3.

The prohibition covers personal devices as well as those provided by the government.

The memo does, however, authorize field commanders to permit the use of geolocation capabilities provided that an operational security risk assessment is first carried out and, in the case of government-issued equipment, geolocation features are called for by the ongoing mission.

Meanwhile, the memo instructs DoD component heads, such as defense agency directors, to evaluate the risk posed by geolocation technology to their facilities or locations.

Component heads must subsequently provide staff with the appropriate operational security training and enforce restrictions in a consistent and rational manner.

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