NSA urges military personnel to turn off cellphone location data

The National Security Agency is urging US military and intelligence personnel to turn off location-sharing services on their cellphones to prevent security breaches.

The secretive intelligence agency warned in a bulletin Tuesday that the common app feature can pose a real threat to national security, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Location-sharing can be critical for the function of apps like Google Maps, but the information it collects about users’ whereabouts is also collected by tech companies that then sell the anonymized data to marketers and advertisers.

“Location data can be extremely valuable and must be protected. It can reveal details about the number of users in a location, user and supply movements, daily routines (user and organizational), and can expose otherwise unknown associations between users and locations,” the NSA bulletin read.

The agency recommends giving apps as few permissions as possible and limiting web browsing on phones. The advisory also extended to fitness-tracking gear; other internet-connected tech like smartwatches and the computers found in modern automobiles.

Governments across the globe, including the US, have become more aggressive in collecting such data for surveillance purposes — and to locate suspects in crimes, the Journal reported.

The warning comes amid increasing tension between the US and the Chinese-owned TikTok, the massively popular social media platform that collects location data, social media contacts ages and phone numbers of users.

Microsoft is currently in discussions with TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company ByteDance over a potential acquisition. President Trump warned that ByteDance would be “out of business” in the US if it doesn’t reach a deal by next month.

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