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Chief scientist: Army may change standard for classified information on smartphones

WASHINGTON – The Army may take another look at how it decides what information is classified as it looks to ease the integration of popular mobile devices like iPads, iPhones and Android-based smartphones.

The only popular smartphones now approved for widespread use on DOD computer networks are Blackberries, and only for unclassified email. But an Android-based phone from Dell was recently approved for use in testing and pilot programs, and many experts say the Pentagon is likely to open the door wider in coming months.

But smartphones and tablets connected to wireless Internet or public cellphone networks are far more restricted in what information they are permitted to access than computers wired to secure networks. Classified communications are not likely to become a common smartphone use any time soon, but a partial solution might lie in reducing requirements for deciding what data or communications can go unclassified, an Army official said.

In an interview with Military Times, Army Chief Scientist Scott Fish said some battalion-level information could be downgraded to unclassified, making smartphones more operationally useful. Sensitive higher-level information would remain classified, however.

“One thing we’re looking at is allowing information to flow a little better,” Fish told the newspaper.

 

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