Pentagon introduces new restrictions on cellphone use

Washington: The US Department of Defense has introduced a new policy setting more restrictions for cellphones as well as some electronic devices in Pentagon areas designated for processing, handling or discussing classified information, according to a Pentagon memo released on Tuesday.

However, the Pentagon will continue to allow cellphones to be brought into the building after a months-long review on the issue, Xinhua reported.

The memo, signed by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, notes that cellphones can still be used in common areas and other Pentagon offices if classified information is not present.

It also appears to make clear the current practice that requires phones be left in “daily-use storage containers that are located outside the secure space” where sensitive materials are handled or discussed.

The new rules, which take effect immediately and must be fully implemented within six months, apply to the Defense Department’s personnel, contractors and visitors and cover “laptops, tablets, cellular phones, smart watches, and other devices” that are portable, can wirelessly transmit information and have “a self-contained power source.”

The policy doesn’t apply to any “mobile devices that have minimal storage and transmission capabilities such as key fobs used for medical alert, motor vehicles, or home security systems.” according to the memo.

It also doesn’t apply to “fitness trackers that do not contain camera, microphone, cellular, or Wi-Fi technology,” but those devices will be addressed in still under development policy.

Medical devices with cellular technology, meanwhile, must be approved on a case-by-case basis.

The memo notes several exceptions, including the use of government-issued cellphones by senior officials in secure spaces if the camera, microphone and wireless capabilities are turned off.

Pentagon launched a review on the use of cellphones in January after GPS reporting company Strava published a global heat map based on user exercise routes. The map showed running routes of soldiers on remote and classified US military bases.