How the Spies Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Fitbit

The debate over whether fitness trackers should be allowed in sensitive areas 
has dragged on for years.

By Jenna McLaughlin
| February 1, 2018, 12:38 PM
When researchers last weekend noticed that a private company had published a 
global heat map of people running and walking around, based on data uploaded 
from its fitness application, the news sparked renewed debate in the U.S. 
national security community about rules governing wearable devices that 
transmit data.

What wasn’t disclosed by the intelligence and military officials reacting to 
the news is that the debate over whether fitness trackers should be allowed in 
sensitive spaces, particularly in intelligence outposts, has raged on for 
years. And many employees did in fact gain the right to wear certain types of 
trackers, even in the most sensitive locations.

However, that decision has consistently led to internal disagreement. In some 
cases, military and  intelligence officials have wide discretion over where and 
when their employees can use those devices.

“We are aware of the potential impacts of devices that collect and report 
personal and locational data, such as information contained in the Strava ‘heat 
map’ recently reported in the press,” a current U.S. intelligence official 
wrote in an email to Foreign Policy. “The use of personal fitness and similar 
devices by individuals engaged in U.S. Government support is determined and 
directed by each agency and department.”

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