When is GPS Tracking Illegal?

June 5, 2018

Let’s be clear: GPS tracking devices are completely within the law, both for private use and for businesses. However, there are times where tracking a person or vehicle will come under question by the law. In all cases below, different countries, states and local governments will have a different set of laws regulating the use of tracking devices. So, do some research: find out which set of laws apply to your situation.

 

NB: This blog post is not a legal document and should only be used as a guideline to understanding the general rules of GPS tracking. 

 

Family Members

Private use of GPS tracking is completely legal. If the vehicle or asset you are placing the tracker on is your own property, then you are within your right to do so. However, before you place a GPS tracking device on your family vehicle, you should let everyone know. Especially, your spouse or anyone over the age of 18. Concerned parents looking to track their teenage drivers are within the law to do so.

 

Failure to notify any adult members of your family that GPS tracking is occurring can result in potential legal action. Especially if you’re tracking your ex-partner after a divorce or break-up. Tracking the movement of anyone, regardless of your relationship to them, without notifying them could result in criminal charges.

 

Workplace

A “work vehicle” is defined as a vehicle that is owned by your employer or the organisation that you work for. Generally speaking, tracking can only take place if your employer has notified that your work vehicle will be subject to monitoring. Only after you have given them your expressed or implied consent can tracking be legal. Different countries and states will have different laws regulating the use of tracking devices. For example, some Australian States, like NSW and the ACT, require at least two weeks notice before tracking can take place. Plus, work vehicles that are being tracked must be clearly labelled as such.

 

If your work vehicle is being monitored without your consent, or if you have not received adequate notice that it’s going to be monitored, then you can question the legality of GPS tracking. Employers tracking your private vehicle is illegal and should be called into question.

 

Police

It’s no secret that law enforcement place trackers on suspects and convicted persons to monitor their movements. However, police can only use tracking devices if there is reasonable suspicion of criminal activity and a warrant is issued. Or, if the person in question has been convicted and having a tracking device placed on them was part of their punishment.

 

Any GPS tracker you use for private use cannot be accessed by the police or government agency. There are laws against that sort of breach of privacy. Only if you report your vehicle as stolen and hand over your tracker details can GPS tracking by the police be legal. The notion that a GPS tracking device is an exploitable loophole for government agencies to spy on you is a misconception.

The legalities of GPS tracking are still being questioned today. While the laws of citizen-to-citizen tracking are still a grey area, employer-to-employee tracking and police-to-citizen tracking laws are more well defined. It is important that you know your rights and understand what is legal and what is not before GPS tracking is implemented on your family or in your workplace. When it comes to law enforcement, a warrant is required for police to legally track a suspect of convict’s movement. Tracking someone or accessing tracker data without a warrant is illegal.

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