Pentagon won't rule out personal cellphone ban

Pentagon won't rule out personal cellphone ban
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Defense Department officials on Thursday wouldn’t rule out banning cellphones from the Pentagon and other military bases and facilities, one possible outcome of a sweeping new security review.

Defense Secretary James Mattis is reportedly weighing a ban on allowing civilian employees at the Pentagon to bring their personal cellphones to work as part of a Pentagon review examining the security of personal electronic devices.

The review was fueled in part by news that a fitness-tracking app could put military personnel at risk, Pentagon chief spokeswoman Dana White said.

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“No decision has been made yet but we are looking at a comprehensive review of how we deal with electronics,” White told reporters at the Pentagon.

Mattis later in the day confirmed the review.

“We're looking at how we maintain electronic security, just like we maintain any other security,” he told reporters before meeting with United Kingdom Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson.

White emphasized that the review was “not just about cellphones,” at the Pentagon. Rather, she said, it focused on a “wide array of electronics” used across “the totality of the [Defense Department] enterprise.”

“Technology is very dynamic. It is important that we always adapt our security procedures. With respect to the workforce, the secretary’s primary interest is to ensure that we are all safe and that we are all secure,” White said.

The app, Strava, published in November a heat map that showed the running routes of tens of millions of people using the technology. But last week it was pointed out that individuals could use the map to identify running routes around U.S. military bases.

“The current review was in part informed by the heat map this weekend,” White said.

CNN reported the review was also prompted by a handful of cases in which employees brought their personal phones into classified areas, where such electronics are banned.

“You have to consider that we have been attacked, bases have been attacked. Information is power and our adversaries have used information to plan attacks against us,” White said when pressed about the particular threat cellphones could present.

The logistics of the possible ban are also a concern. One idea floated involves installing lockers or other means for employees to deposit their personal cellphones when they arrive at the Pentagon.

White said Mattis will "consider the concerns of the workforce.”