Pentagon Reviewing Electronic Device Policy

Flickr user David B. Gleason

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The Defense Department review goes beyond whether to allow staff to bring phones into the Pentagon.

The Pentagon is reconsidering its policies for every personal electronic device that “transmits a two-way signal” in an effort to increase the security of its employees, an agency spokeswoman told Nextgov.

On Wednesday, CNN reported Defense Secretary James Mattis is considering banning the Pentagon’s 23,000 civilian and military personnel from bringing cellphones into the facility. Though she wouldn’t confirm the statement to Nextgov, Defense spokeswoman Maj. Audricia Harris said agency leaders are reviewing the rules for “all electronic devices.”

The report comes after the fitness-tracking app Strava compiled its users’ location data in a global heatmap and inadvertently revealed the locations of multiple overseas military bases. The software also makes public the identities and locations of international aid workers, intelligence operatives and military personnel, raising security concerns among government officials.

The Washington Post reported the Strava data dump is prompting Defense officials to review policies regarding wearable tech, but Harris said this review has been underway “for awhile.”

“We are looking into policies that can further enhance the security of DOD employees,” she said. “No decisions have been made.”

The White House implemented a ban on personal cell phones in early January, citing the “security and integrity” of its technology systems. In a conversation with Nextgov, former federal CIO Steven VanRoekel speculated the decision might have been less aimed at improving security and more at making it difficult for staff to leak internal discussions to the media or send whistleblower complaints to Congress.