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Fitness/Activity Trackers are Not Authorized to be Worn in Classified Areas

  • Published
  • By Maj. Jason Neumann, OPSEC Program Manager
  • 108th Wing
Many of you may have seen the memo from the Air Force Enterprise Authorizing Official authorizing the wear of personal wearable fitness devices within and around collateral classified information, up to and including secret. Within the campus of the 108th Wing, our Wing Commander, Col. Andrew Keane, has decided that the risks outweigh the benefits and therefore, is not implementing this policy. Consequently, the 108th Wing will continue to ban fitness and activity trackers from introduction into classified areas, primarily because of all of the restrictions that were placed on the introduction of these devices and the inability to easily control and regulate these restrictions. Let me show you a quick snapshot of these restrictions and explain our inability to easily control and regulate these.

The fitness/activity tracker cannot have microphone, camera or video capability, cellular communications capability, or Wi-Fi capability. Merely disabling these functions while in the proximity of classified information is not acceptable and therefore, these devices are not authorized. Additionally, the fitness/activity tracker can only have vendor-supplied software updates, meaning that if the owner of the device adds or alters the device's software in anyway, then that device will not be authorized. The device must not exceed 100 milliwatts, such as wearable Smart watches. The fitness/activity tracker must have been purchased by the individual that is wearing it, or received as a gift from a friend or family member. If the device was won in a contest, given to the individual as part of a promotional campaign, or given to the individual as part of an exchange of goods and/or services, then the device would not be authorized.

The memo from the Air Force Enterprise Authorizing Official does narrow it down to a good starting point for determining which fitness/activity trackers would be authorized by stating that the only authorized features that are authorized would be Global Positioning Service, an accelerometer, an altimeter, a gyroscope, heart activity monitor, a vibration feature for the sole purpose of notification of fitness-related goals achieved, and Near Field Communications. The two primary issues that have been recognized and led to the conclusion to continue to ban fitness/activity trackers from classified areas is that it would be impractical to inspect each fitness/activity tracker to verify that it contains only the authorized features and it would be all but impossible to determine whether or not each individual received their fitness/activity tracker by purchasing it or by receiving it from a friend or family member.

Cellular telephones, laptops, tablets, Smart watches, Google glasses, among a vast array of other electronic devices are still banned from classified areas and it is not too much to ask that the members of the 108th Wing remove their fitness/activity trackers prior to entering a classified area as well. Until a couple of weeks ago when this memo came out, everybody should have been removing all of these devices and securing them prior to entering a classified area. Remember, it is everyone's responsibility to protect our classified information and being a little extra cautious pays a lot more dividends than setting ourselves for failure by implementing this new policy for the 108th Wing.

In summary, there are no changes to the policy of what electronic devices are allowed into a classified area. As of this writing, no electronic devices, except for those devices issued by the government that have been cleared for classified information, are authorized into classified areas and/or briefings. Those devices that have been cleared for classified material should be secured in a security container when not in use, unless left in an open storage area; therefore, should for the most part stay within the classified areas. If there are any questions about this matter, please reach out to the Information Protection office at 609-754-2672.

Information protection is vital to mission success!