woman turning off phone (Vitali Michkou/Shutterstock.com)

DOD cracks down on mobile devices

The Defense Department has restricted use of personal mobile devices inside secure areas of the Pentagon.

DOD personnel, contractors and visitors to the building and supporting facilities may no longer have mobile devices in areas designated or accredited for "processing, handling, or discussion of classified information," according to a policy memo released May 22. They may continue to use their phones in common areas, however.

Personal and unclassified government-issued mobile devices are prohibited in secure spaces. Devices must be turned off and stored in lockers outside the secure space.

Government-issued unclassified laptops 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.

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.

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