DoD has restricted use of “geolocation features and functionality on government and nongovernment-issued devices, applications and services” in locations designated as military operational areas, while ordering a review that could lead to restrictions at other locations as well.

Devices with geolocation capabilities including fitness trackers, smartphones, smartwatches and tablets present “significant risk” to personnel and “can expose personal information, locations, routines, and numbers of DoD personnel, and potentially create unintended security consequences and increase risk to the joint force and mission,” says a memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan. Local commanders in operational areas are to set specific policies.

“For all other locations, installations, and activities, the heads of DoD components will consider the inherent risks associated with geolocation capabilities on devices, applications and services, both non-government and government-issued, by personnel both on and off duties,” it adds. It says that guidance conducting such risk assessments is forthcoming.

“When information derived from these capabilities poses a threat to personnel and operations, commanders and supervisors at all levels” are to provide training and guidance “commensurate with the risk and local operating conditions” and are to apply “a tiered structure for categorizing location and operations sensitivity while incorporating risk factors to ensure restrictions are consistently and rationally applied.”

DoD previously had issued a similar policy barring both personal and government-issued devices with GPS features into areas of the Pentagon where classified information is present.