Army wants teleworkers to switch off smart IoT devices

Amazon Echo (pianodiaphragm/ 

Editor's note: This policy has since been rescinded.

The days of reminders of packages on the porch from a smartwatch or Netflix running as white noise from a smart TV in the background have come to an end -- at least for Army personnel working remotely.

The Army announced it would require all of its military, civilian, and contractors to rid their telework environments of internet of things devices, such as smart TVs, speakers, and other networked devices with an "automated listening function."

The May 25 memo said the policy is an effort to "mitigate data leakage of official government information" and outline conditions so that Army personnel can "protect and safeguard DOD information" and systems.

"Effective immediately, all personnel approved to telework must conduct work in an environment free of loT devices," the memo states. "Teleworkers are required to remove all loT devices with an automated listening function from their work area."

That includes turning off or physically removing personal smartphones or tablets,and disabling audio access for "listening" or personal assistant applications, such as Siri for Apple devices, or 'hey, Google' or Amazon Echo.

The Army did not immediately return a request for comment on how the policy would be enforced.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, 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 [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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