GPS Tracking in Australia: The Legal Stuff

February 19, 2018

It’s a simple question, but a legitimate concern for many:

 

“My employer is tracking my work vehicle with a GPS. Is this legal?”

 

Australian States have mostly different laws regulating the use of GPS tracking devices. Of course, nobody wants to read dry legal documents for hours on end. So, Black Knight has simplified what you need to know about the legalities concerning GPS tracking in your State.

 

NB: Unless a specific amount is written in the Act, fines are shown in number of penalty units. Check your State's laws for the value of a penalty unit. This blog post is not a legal document. It is only a summary of the laws which regulate the use of GPS tracking devices. Click the titles of the Act for a direct link to the legal documents.

 

New South Wales

 

Workplace Surveillance Act 2005 (NSW) 

 

“Tracking surveillance” is defined as “surveillance by means of an electronic device the primary purpose of which is to monitor or record geographical location or movement (such as a Global Positioning System tracking device)” (SECT 3).

 

In NSW, employees must be given a written notice at least 14 days (a shorter period may be agreed upon) before surveillance commences. Employers must also disclose the type of surveillance and for how long (SECT 10). In addition, the tracking of an employee through a vehicle is only allowed if there is a clear notice stating that the vehicle is being tracked (SECT 13).

 

Each individual person who knowingly and unlawfully conducted covert surveillance may face a fine of 50 penalty units per offense (SECT 19).

 

Western Australia

 

Surveillance Devices Act 1998 (WA) 

 

A tracking device “means any instrument, apparatus, equipment, or other device capable of being used to determine the geographical location of a person or object” (SECT 3).

 

The Act does not prohibit the use of GPS tracking on employees. However, it is illegal to install or use a tracker without express or implied consent. Penalties include a $5,000 fine and/or 12 months imprisonment for individuals or a $50,000 fine for a corporate body (SECT 7).

 

Victoria

 

Surveillance Devices Act 1999 (VIC) 

 

Similar to WA and NSW, a tracking device is “an electronic device the primary purpose of which is to determine the geographical location of a person or an object” (SECT 3).

 

For an employer to legally use a tracking device, they must receive expressed or implied consent. Fines for individuals are 240 penalty units and/or 2 years imprisonment. For corporations, fines can exceed 1,200 penalty units (SECT 8).

 

Australian Capital Territory

 

Workplace Privacy Act 2011 (ACT) 

 

A tracking device “means an electronic device capable of being used to work out or monitor the location of a person or an object or the status of an object” (SECT 11).

 

Like NSW, an employer must notify in writing 14 days in advance that surveillance will occur. They must also state the type of surveillance, whether its ongoing or periodic and the purpose of the surveillance (SECT 13). Also, any vehicles being tracked by be clearly indicated as such, or the employer must take reasonable steps to clearly indicate that the vehicles are being tracked (SECT 17).

 

Employers may face a fine of up to 20 penalty units if they failed to notify its employees of surveillance (SECT 18). 

 

Northern Territory

 

Surveillance Devices Act 2007 (NT) 

 

The definition of a tracking device is “an electronic device that may be used to determine the geographical location of a person or thing” (SECT 4).

 

Like WA, the use of a tracking device can only occur if the employer is given express or implied consent.

 

The maximum penalties are 250 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment (SECT 13). 

 

South Australia

 

Listening and Surveillance Devices Act 1972 (SA)

 

While a “tracking device” is defined in the Act as “an electronic device capable of being used to determine the geographical location of a person or thing; and (b) associated equipment (if any)” (SECT 3), the Act does not prohibit or regulate the use of tracking devices.

 

Queensland & Tasmania

 

At the time of writing, Queensland and Tasmania have no laws or regulations concerned with the use of GPS tracking devices.

Generally speaking, in Australia GPS tracking of employees is perfectly legal. The main condition for tracking to occur is consent. Your employer must let you know that tracking is occurring or going to occur. They must also disclose the type of surveillance and how long it will last. Once you have given them your expressed or implied consent, GPS tracking is legal. 

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