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Experts Say Fitness Tracker Map Reveals Secret Military Bases

'A lot of people are going to have to sit through lectures come Monday morning'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2018 4:43 PM CST
Fitness Tracker Map May Be Bad News for US Military
This screenshot from Strava's Global Heatmap shows a rare location where fitness devices are commonly used in Syria. Experts say the map has major implications for the US military.   (Strava Global Heatmap)

(Newser) – Last November, Strava published a Global Heatmap tracking the movements of the 27 million people who use its fitness service—either through its app or devices like Fitbits—over two years. A 20-year-old international security and Middle East expert finally took a closer look at the map this weekend after his father noted it basically shows "where rich white people are," the Washington Post reports. What Nathan Ruser found could have serious implications for the US military and the safety of its personnel. Most areas in the US and Europe are brightly lit by the paths of joggers, cyclists, and such. But in the dark expanses of deserts and war zones, the few small spots of light appear to show the locations of US military facilities—both known and secret—and the movements of troops in and out of them.

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Sites that experts believe are shown by Strava's map include a suspected CIA base in Mogadishu, Patriot site in Yemen, US special operations base in the Sahel, and a site in Syria where the US military is suspected of building a base. “This is a clear security threat,” international security analyst Tobias Schneider says. “You can see a pattern of life. You can see where a person who lives on a compound runs down a street to exercise." Far from discouraging Strava-using devices, the Pentagon handed out 2,500 Fitbits to personnel in 2013. And while Strava includes an option to turn off the data transmission service, it doesn't appear soldiers are doing so. "A lot of people are going to have to sit through lectures come Monday morning," the Guardian quotes Schneider as saying. (Read more GPS stories.)

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