Smart devices and wearables, including connected watches and glasses have been banned in the Chinese armed forces by the national government amid growing concern over cybersecurity threats.
“The use of watches that have internet access, location information, and telephone conversation functions should be considered a violation of secrecy regulations at army barracks,” a report quoted in the People’s Liberation Army Daily, the official Chinese military publication.
According to the same source, the new regulation followed an incident in which a soldier had attempted to take a photo of his colleagues using his smartwatch in the city of Nanjing. The chief commander stopped the soldier and reported the case to Chinese high authorities, who responded by banning such gadgets on the grounds that the technology poses a threat to military operations and security.
The report featured in the military daily specifically outlined the harm which could be caused by smart glasses. “When officers and men put on these type of spectacles, it is extremely possible that army positions can be tracked, endangering the security of military operations,” the statement explained.
The newspaper also reported that teaching materials and warning signs had been provided to military staff to ensure that the law was effectively implemented.
China’s Ministry of Defence is yet to comment officially on the new legislation, but members of the Chinese armed forces have anonymously confirmed that smartwatches and other connected wearable devices are now forbidden within the army.
Security experts believe that forbidding the use of connected devices is a logical extension of current military bans on smartphones.
“Anything that is networked – whether it is in your pocket or on your wrist – can be remotely accessed and exploited by others to provide an advantage to adversaries,” commented Peter Quentin, researcher at British defence think tank Rusi.