3d map of GPS tracking data

New Legislation Looks To Offer Clarity With GPS

GPS Act Will Outline GPS Tracking Rules

3dmapPrivacy has become a highly debated topic now that technology is resulting in us having less and less of it, but a new piece of legislation known as the GPS Act may change the rules of the GPS tracking game.

Viewed by many as a bi-partisan bill, the GPS Act was drafted by Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, and Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon. Also referred to by many as the Geo-locational Surveillance and Privacy Act, the new GPS Act aims to bring clarity to what is appropriate and what is crossing the privacy line when it comes to personal monitoring and collection of GPS tracking data.

With the recent acknowledgement by cell phone manufacturers such as Apple admitting that they are collecting location-based data from the GPS chip inside of cell phones likely for future marketing purposes, to the law enforcement practices of using tracking systems without first obtaining a warrant to gather evidence on potential criminals, GPS has been under intense scrutiny over the past year. Over 90% of Americans now own some form of technological device that utilizes GPS, from smart phones, navigation devices to personal tablets. Although Wyden and Chaffetz agree that the technological revolution has offered many positive things, they also feel that “new tools deserve new rules”, and that was the purpose of the bill, to outline what the rules are:

Here are a few of the main points of the legislation:

  1. Definition Of What Geolocation Information Is
  2. Specification Of How Geolocation Information Applies To Wireless & Electronic Surveillance Monitoring Devices Such As GPS Tracking Systems, And Not Other Information That Could Be Potentially Used To Determine Position Such As A Person’s Area Code
  3. The Creation Of Rules That Outline And Govern The Interception And Disclosure Of Geolocation Information
  4. Requirement Of A Warrant To Access Personal GPS Data Unless The Reason Falls Under The List Of Exceptions (Emergency Situation, When A Warrant Is Acquired Or If A Parent Wants To Access The Location Of Their Child)
  5. Those Who Monitor Another The Movements Of Another Person Via Personal Tracking System Or Some Other Form Of Electronic Device Could Face Stiff Fines And Up To 5 Years In Prison
  6. Cell Phone Companies Who Access And Share Geolocation Information Of Their Customers Without Clear Consent From The User Will Face Strict Consequences
  7. Those Who Had Geolocation Data Taken Unlawfully And Without Consent Can Recover Damages In Civil Court

“I believe that the whole secret cell phone tracking issue that recently made news headlines bothered a large number of people, forcing the government to intervene on some level”, explained a fleet management specialist for a Southern California GPS company. “However, technology is evolving at lightning speed and this is simply a byproduct of that. At the end of the day, we have surveillance cameras at every shopping center and many street corners, while GPS chips are now designed into the fabric of our electronic devices. IP addresses and wireless networks observe our online activity, and almost everything we now do can be monitored. When using a technological device it is pretty much impossible not to be tracked.”

Currently, this legislation is being supported by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA).

Many state, county and local police agencies, as well as government agencies who use GPS tracking systems as security products for monitoring purposes are opposed to the bill.

GPS Tracking Opinion

Do you think that the GPS Act will be a good step in outlining what is acceptable in terms of monitoring a person’s location, and storing that location-based data?

Do you think that cell phone manufacturers and service providers will still access personal tracking data for marketing and other purposes even if the GPS Act passes?

What are your thoughts on the use of vehicle tracking systems in domestic cases?

Source: The Hill