One soldier’s birthday present triggers Chinese army ban on wearable tech

13 May 2015

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The Chinese army has banned smart watches

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China has banned its army from wearing smartwatches and other internet-connected wearable tech, a move that was prompted by one officer’s birthday present.

As reported by The People’s Liberation Army Daily via NBC News, the soldier received a smartwatch from his thoughtful girlfriend. But when his squad leader caught the new recruit using the device to take photographs, the matter was reported to higher authorities, which ruled that such devices can compromise security.

“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,” wrote the Chinese military’s official newspaper.

“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.”

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, members of the Chinese army have confirmed to NBC that smartwatches and other wearable smart devices are now forbidden. The brand or model of the birthday boy’s device has not been revealed.

Military restrictions on mobile phones etc… are not uncommon, though China does generally have a reputation as being more zealous than most when it comes to cracking down on tech. Just last year the country lifted a ban on foreign-made game consoles that came into force in 2000 following parental outcry surrounding the potential mental-health effects of gaming on children, while 12 months ago a ban on government usage of Microsoft’s Windows 8 was introduced amid allegations from the US Justice Department relating to Chinese military officers stealing data from six US companies.

Regardless, China has become an increasingly important stronghold for Apple. The consumer tech giant’s most recent quarterly financial results revealed that revenue in the country grew by a huge 71pc to US$16.8bn. Its also the best-selling smartphone vendor in China, having overtaken Xiaomi.

 

Dean is a freelance journalist and editor covering media.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com