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Pentagon cracks down on personal mobile devices

The Pentagon (Photo by Ivan Cholakov / Shutterstock) 

The Defense Department is cracking down on personal mobile devices inside secure areas of the Pentagon.

Under a new policy memo released May 22, DOD personnel, contractors and visitors to the building and supporting facilities in Arlington County, Va., are restricted from having mobile devices in areas designated or accredited for "processing, handling, or discussion of classified information."

Personal and unclassified government-issued mobile devices are prohibited in secure spaces but may be used in common areas. Government-issued unclassified devices being used as desktop replacements must have approved "interim mitigations applied until replaced with compliant devices" within 180 days. Mitigations include disabling the camera, microphone and Wi-Fi settings. Government-issued classified mobile devices can continue to operate per previous authorization while exemptions are reviewed.

Devices must be turned off and stored in lockers. The policy also states that proper signage be displayed outside secure areas.

The memo also spells out consequences for violators, including possible loss or delay of security clearance, fines and administrative discipline. Additionally, non-cleared phones discovered in classified spaces are subject to inspection for any photography, sound recording or other material that could potentially compromise classified information.

There's a 180-day window for implementation. In the meantime, temporary mitigations include covering cameras and disabling Wi-Fi and audio. The ban excludes approved medical devices and mobile devices with limited storage or data transmission capabilities, such as key fobs for automobiles or home security systems. Fitness trackers are permitted as long as they don’t have a camera, microphone, cellular or Wi-Fi capabilities.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at lwilliams@fcw.com, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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