China has imposed a ban on its armed forces wearing smartwatches – such as the Apple Watch – after a solider was given one as a birthday gift.
Secretive China already doesn’t allow its 1.6 million troops to carry smartphones and banning other internet connected gadgets is a way, it says, to minimise security risks.
A report carried in the People’s Liberation Army Daily – the official newspaper of the Chinese military – explained the thinking behind the ban:
“The moment a soldier puts on a device that can record high-definition audio and video, take photos, and process and transmit data, it’s very possible for him or her to be tracked or to reveal military secrets.”
According to the article, the recruit that received the smartwatch as a birthday present from his girlfriend attempted to take a photo of his fellow soldiers in the city of Nanjing.
He was stopped by his senior officer, who reported it to his seniors and the resultant ban was introduced.
“The use of wearables with internet access, location information, and voice-calling functions should be considered a violation of national security regulations when used by military personnel,” continued the report, citing China’s agency in charge of protecting state secrets.
Military forces around the world will likely have to confront the proliferation of small affordable internet-connected gadgets like smartwatches in the future.
Mirror Online has contacted the Ministry of Defence for a comment regarding the use of smartwatches and will update this story when we hear back.