Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had considered a ban on cellphones, smartphones and other wearable technology, such as FitBits, after the GPS reporting company Strava published a global heat map based on user exercise routes.
The map revealed sensitive base locations overseas based on the running routes of service members and contractors deployed there.
“Today the Department of Defense announces a policy regarding the use of mobile devices within the Pentagon and supported buildings,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “The policy, which applies to DoD personnel, contractors, and Pentagon visitors, clarifies restrictions for mobile devices anywhere within the Pentagon designated or accredited for the processing, handling or discussion of classified information.”
According to the AP, most of the previous use of cellphones will be continued, but with stricter enforcement to ensure the devices are not brought into secure areas.
More than 25,000 people work in the Pentagon, ranging from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to restaurant workers and cleaning crews, and many use their phones for family emergencies and other needs.
Fitness trackers that don’t have wireless or cellular technology or contain microphones are not covered by the memo, but will be addressed in a separate policy that is still being developed by defense officials. And medical devices with cellular technology must be approved on an individual basis.
The memo covers “laptops, tablets, cellular phones, smartwatches, and other devices” that are portable, can wirelessly transmit information and have “a self-contained power source.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Tara Copp is the Pentagon Bureau Chief for Military Times and author of the award-winning military nonfiction "The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story."