A few months ago, I wrote a story about the uproar that occurred after it was Strava released a heat map that showed it’s users working out and in the process revealed the location of classified military installations. Today the DOD announced that it had updated it’s policy for the use of personal and military owned wearable GPS devices. The short answer is that if you are deployed, its likely you will have to put them away (or at least figure out how to turn of the GPS functionality). The policy allows Commanders to make exceptions to policy after completing a thorough risk assessment but I have to imagine that most commanders will not be willing to bite bullet on that one.
Stateside, the policy is a lot more open ended. Commanders will have to do an evaluation of the risk to OPSEC against the functionality that these devices offer. If I had to guess, I don’t think we will see much in the way of changes occur around US bases but time will tell with that one.
This policy applies to all wearable GPS devices to include cell phones, fitness trackers, and other similar devices. It doesn’t prevent their use, just prevents the use of the GPS functionality of the device. I assume that means that if you can turn it off, then you’ll still be able to use the device’s other features. How they plan on enforcing the GPS being turned off will be an interesting exercise in futility but we’ll see how that goes in the coming months.