Culture 2 min read

Russia Bans Smartphones to Prevent Military Location Tracking

Data security and location tracking have become significantly more important concerns in the IoT age. As such, Russian members of parliament saw fit to address the concern with a new bill to ensure that military members do not threaten Russia's security with location tracking, social media posts, or even their selfies.

Parade crew members before Moscow Red Square military parade. | Iliya Pitalev © Sputnik via Russia Today

Parade crew members before Moscow Red Square military parade. | Iliya Pitalev © Sputnik via Russia Today

Banning smartphone use in schools remains a common way to keep students on task. In fact, some businesses even encourage their employees to limit smartphone use in the workplace.

However, many smartphones users also know about GPS and location tracking services. These are useful for apps like Google Maps, but they can be used for nefarious means, as well. As such, some Russian lawmakers saw fit to ensure that their military never falls victim to these bad actors.

This news also comes directly after the country announced plans to disconnect the country from the global internet network.

Smartphones, Tablets, and Laptops Affected

The Russian parliament (State Duma) approved the law draft on Tuesday, February 19th. The Twitter post announcing the news can be seen above and translated on the Twitter page. Nearly all of the lower house members (400 of 450) supported the law.

But essentially, the law bans on-duty military personnel from using smart device functions. This includes recording or sharing photo, audio, geolocation, or video data. The soldiers can no also longer post about their colleagues or themselves online.

Lawmakers derived the idea for the law from fears surrounding military personnel social media use.

This means that soldiers can still use phones for communication means like calls and messages. But the Russian Parliament wants to avoid certain risks that smart device technology poses in terms of information protection and data security.

Fears run Deeper Than Just Location Tracking

Though Russian parliament fears location tracking, concerns over data security take point instead. Open-source journalism sites such as Bellingcat work to reveal Russian military activity.

Lawmakers discouraged soldiers from posting information online (even selfies). But data miners still attained information about Russian military movements in places like Syria and eastern Ukraine using social media posts from military personnel.

These news posts directly contradicted official claims from the Russian government. Aside from the implications of state-mandated claims and actual evidence to the contrary, Russia remains committed to ensuring the sanctity of their military information security.

As we saw in the U.S. 2016 Presidential Election, social media can become a powerful political tool. The move to limit exposure may, in time, prove to be a wise one.

Read More: Russia’s Space Tourism Projects to Take Off in the Next Five Years

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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