Pentagon’s New Cellphone Restrictions

Pentagon’s New Cellphone Restrictions

Pentagon’s New Cellphone Restrictions

By Debbie Gregory

The Defense Department has decided it will continue allowing the use of cellphones at the Pentagon in common areas and other offices in the Pentagon if classified information is not present, but it will strictly enforce existing rules to prevent cell phones from being brought into secure areas at the nation’s military headquarters.

The policy, released in a memo, covers laptops, tablets, cellular phones, smartwatches, and other devices that are portable, can wirelessly transmit information and have “a self-contained power source.” Fitness trackers that don’t have wireless or cellular technology or contain microphones will be separately addressed.

Cellphones must be left in storage containers outside secure areas where sensitive matters are discussed.

The review that preceded the new rules was triggered in January after it was discovered that a heat map generated by the Strava exercise fitness tracking app identified exercise routes used by U.S. military personnel worldwide, even at some U.S. facilities that were not public.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis had actively considering banning U.S. military and civilian personnel from bringing their personal cell phones into the Pentagon.

The policy applies to DoD personnel, contractors, and Pentagon visitors. More than 25,000 people work in the Pentagon.

The new rules, which take effect immediately and must be fully implemented within six months, mean there will likely be many more cellphone lockboxes throughout the building in order to comply with the new policy.

Additionally, the Pentagon has ordered all exchange service stores and exchange concessionaires worldwide to ban mobile phones and other telecommunications equipment made by the Chinese companies Huawei Technologies and ZTE. This order comes after senior intelligence officials warned that the phones could be used to spy on U.S. service members. Huawei is the world’s third largest smartphone maker, and ZTE is the fourth largest seller in the United States.