Belgium has restricted the use of smartphones in the army because of treat of espionage from the Russian Federation, reported by the Belgian news agency Belga.
“We know that Russia is interested in obtaining mobile geolocation data. We are making efforts to prevent such activity and have been actively conducting explanatory work among the personnel for several years. But this does not seem enough yet,” said Colonel Carl Gillis, head of operations for the Belgian armed forces Chief of Staff.
In particular, according to the colonel’s data, the mobile application “Strava”, which is a very popular application for recording a person’s sports activity, very often gives out sensitive personal and geolocation information. Previously, another application for measuring physical activity removed the function for identifying a person’s location after researchers determined that such a function can collect information about the military personnel and even the members of the intelligence community in more than 69 countries.
There are similar concerns about certain functions of Facebook.
Given these circumstances, the Belgian Ministry of Defense decided to review the rules for use of the mobile applications and engage more actively in the process of informing the personnel about the possible risks. In addition, active analysis is conducted during military operations. For example, the Belgian troops in Mali are allowed to use smartphones because local militants are not able to intercept such data. However, the military in the Baltic countries bordering Russia are not allowed to use personal gadgets.