Skip to comments.Mattis Reviewing Whether to Ban 'Wide Array' of Devices Like Smart Phones
Posted on 02/01/2018 5:27:57 PM PST by markomalley
The Defense Department, per direction of Secretary James Mattis, is reviewing whether to ban cell phones or other electronic devices from the Pentagon and other U.S. military installations after reports that apps were revealing sensitive locations of U.S. service members.
Data from users of fitness trackers such as Fitbit was published in a global heat map by Strava, on which fellow runners can share routes. This also ended up highlighting locations of covert military installations and intelligence outposts, as the only runners using the fitness apps in many remote locations are foreigners.
The November 2017 map highlighted routes accumulated from more than 3 trillion individual GPS data points, according to the Guardian report. As U.S. personnel turn on their fitness apps for daily runs, this has ended up clearly identifying mappable outposts from Syria to Djibouti to Afghanistan.
Today at the Pentagon, spokeswoman Dana White confirmed that a review is underway to determine whether smart phones will be allowed in the building.
"It's important to know that the secretary's primary focus is the protection of civilians, of service members and their families," she said. "So the Strava heat maps provided an opportunity for us to see a possible vulnerability. So he's thinking about the totality of the DoD enterprise, so not just this building. We always are thinking about how do we enhance and adapt our security procedures. And that's what's happening now."
On concerns that Pentagon staffers wouldn't be able to stay in touch with families without a mobile phone, White clarified "it's not just about cell phones."
"This is a comprehensive look at technology. Technology's very dynamic. It is important that we always adapt our security procedures," she said.
"With respect to the workforce, the secretary's primary interest is to ensure that we are all safe and we are all secure. Operational security is his priority. This recent incident, and others, has allowed him to take a bigger look at, what are we doing and how are we doing it?"
White said that "all of those things will be considered in his calculus, but you have to understand that the secretary sees everything within that prism of, how do I protect the civilians, the service members, their families? And so that's how he will make his decision."
The review is also "not just about the Pentagon," but will take into account electronics rules "across the DoD enterprise."
"That heat map brought up a potential vulnerability," White explained. "So he's taking a comprehensive look at our security measures, what we can do, mitigating factors, and of course he will also consider the concerns of the workforce."
"...It's not about just cell phones. It's about electronics. It's about GPS-enabled electronics. It's a wide array of electronics that we're looking at."
Pressed on what the specific threat is from employees possessing such devices, White replied, "You have to also consider the fact that we have been attacked. Bases have been attacked. Information is power and our adversaries have used information to plan attacks against us."
"And so, no decision has been made yet, but we are looking at a comprehensive review of how we deal with electronics," she added.
After the reports of the Strava map came out, users in online jihadist forums were discussing using the open-source information to plan strikes.
All non-government phones need to be banned from federal installations. Further, government-issued phones need all non-approved apps removed. They are for government business, right? Nothing on them should unknowingly report or record location, ever.
Are they also going to prohibit pizza delivery to the Pentagon because a tipoff of a major operation starting is a huge number being delivered late in the evening?
I have read that, at least during WWII, all the street signs in Moscow were taken down, so invaders would have a harder time orienting. Natives, of course, knew their way around.
Crude but effective.
I think that’s a real stretch!
How about the soldiers and families who live in post? No cell phones for them? This should not fly but military and civilians who live off post cannot have a firearm locked their vehicle on post so they are unarmed at work, heading to and from home, and running errands off post.
And the Fitbits, even though the military first provided them to soldiers.
They did the same in the England, Scotland, and Wales.
They have a 24/7 restaurant in the building. If something major was going down, they would eat in, or do a pickup. The only time you see delivery is during normal hours, which isn’t suspicious, or if it is off hours, it is likely contractors performing after hours work.
My husband worked in U.S. Defense for years. When cell phones made their appearance, NO WAY was he allowed to take a cell phone in to any facility when working.
We weren’t even allowed to have them in the parking lot of a facility.
“We werent even allowed to have them in the parking lot of a facility.”
Especially if they had cameras.
“My husband worked in U.S. Defense for years. When cell phones made their appearance, NO WAY was he allowed to take a cell phone in to any facility when working.”
And just think about the technical capability of the phones today. We just got new iPhone X’s and it will take me a year to figure out everything it can do!
Cell phones, smart phones, and now 5G. Mattis ought to stop it at the smart phone stage before everything goes 5G.
Idiots ban film cameras, but not smart phones in many restricted areas. Yes, smart phones should be banned for many reasons from sensitive areas.
Sure, let's just go back to the 90s.
I have a feeling that, at the end of the day, we'll find out that they will severely restrict use in operational theaters.
When I was doing work at Los Alamos and Sandia, no cell phones, pagers, or any devices that could transmit a signal were allowed in the secured areas. The same went for computers. Any files had to be on a disk (this was before flash drives on a USB port) which had to be scanned. This was just after the Wen Ho Lee debacle.
When I was working, we couldn’t have them in SCIFs and they had to be at least 20 feet or so away from any classified computers with WiFi off/disabled in other areas....makes good security sense to not have them all over the place in a Pentagon environment......even without the potential of leakers and others using them to store data/pictures/videos....
The note about the fitbit stuff was funny. We still don’t know all of the unintended consequences of some of this technology. “Smart” watches are going to be problematic, especially since it is not entire obvious how ‘smart’ some of these gadgets are just by looking at them. The government is really going to have a hard time stuffing all of their employees back into the 80s and 90s.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.