China sounded the alarm about the potential threat to the military posed by fitness apps in December 2016.
The U.S. military is scrambling to address operational security risks linked to the popular Strava fitness app, which may have leaked sensitive military data — such as base locations and regular patrol routes — online. China, one of America’s top international rivals, had to deal with the exact same problem a little more than a year ago.
A member of the Coast Defense Force in Fujian Province in Southeastern China accidentally revealed the location of classified military base when he posted geo-tagged GPS-tracking data from a long-distance run on social media, according to the People’s Daily.
This incident revealed a prolific problem in the Chinese military. Despite regulations prohibiting smartphone use among Chinese military personnel for security reasons, 43 percent of all soldiers in the brigade stationed in Fujian had at one point or another shared personal training data online.
The Chinese media reports, which were published in English for an international audience, noted that “GPS-based trackers, such as fitness wristbands and smartphones, can potentially leak classified information such as infantry location and movements.”
After analysts discovered this past weekend that the Strava Global Heat Map, which contains years of data, revealed the activity of U.S. military personnel around known and unknown military bases, including forward operating bases in combat zones, this past weekend, the Pentagon began taking immediate steps to resolve this issue.
While the U.S. military conducts regular training sessions on this issue, the use of apps and electronic devices with tracking technology installed among the military continues to be a problem.