Wearable Tech World Feature Article
May 13, 2015

China: War is No Place for Wearable Tech

Reception of the Apple Watch thus far widely varies depending on who you ask. Some say it makes you look stupid. Others say it’s the cat’s pajamas. One source suggests that it’s exceptionally overpriced. But so far, only China has said that, like Google searches, it’s a threat to national security.

According to NBC, a warning issued in a Liberation Army Detail report suggests that the Apple Watch could be a serious cyberthreat to the People’s Liberation Army. The decision was made after a new recruit allegedly attempted to photograph his fellow soldiers using a smartwatch his girlfriend had given him as a gift. Apparently, this was a big military faux pas, and one that warranted his squad leader reporting to higher links in the chain of command. A decision was made that smartwatches, and all other forms of wearable technology—including fitness trackers— are dangerous.

The report states: "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."

Experts have begun to assess the cyberthreats associated with wearable technology. In fact, Intel Security's Chief Consumer Security Evangelist, Gary Davis will be delivering a keynote address at the upcoming Wearable Tech Expo, set to run July 13 – 15 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City that will cover a wide array of cybersecurity topics. These could include the hazards of wearable technology in the workplace, in everyday use cases such as mobile commerce, and maybe even in issues of national security.

Other world militaries have been far less restrictive with wearable technology, and the U.S. even offered FitBit wristbands to its soldiers in a trial fitness program in 2013. Doing so, hypothetically, would allow the military to keep tabs on the health of its soldiers. Nevertheless, the People’s Liberation Army of China believes that the risk of cyber-espionage is too great for such features.

As a focus on cyber warfare continues to develop, and as proliferation of wearable tech turns global, the coming years may bring with them some novel implementations of wearable devices, and this includes military usage. Who knows—in a not-too-distant future, axing wearable tech from defense operations could be the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot. But as China’s recent decision shows—which may or may not prove to be a case of paranoia—wearable tech’s role in national security is in pending.   


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