GPS Tracking Laws California
There are a number of different reasons why people invest in GPS vehicle trackers. Maybe a person wants to track their wife without her knowing because they suspect she is cheating. Or maybe a small business is concerned an employee might be using a company vehicle without authorization. Regardless of the reason why an individual or business might choose to put a GPS tracker on someone’s car in California, the important question is whether or not doing so is legal. With so much confusion about GPS tracking laws, our security experts decided to provide some basic information about if it is legal to put a tracking device on someone’s vehicle in California. So if you are thinking about using a GPS tracking system to secretly track a vehicle than this is the article for you.
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Is GPS Tracking Legal In California?
When it comes to GPS tracking laws in California the laws are not very clear. That is the first thing to be aware of if you are thinking about putting a GPS tracker on someone’s vehicle. For example, California GPS tracking laws state that it is a misdemeanor to place a tracking device inside a vehicle, but that does not apply if you are the owner of the vehicle. According to California Penal Code 637.7 which addresses the legality of putting a GPS tracker on someone’s car in California, “shall not apply when the registered owner, lessor, or lessee of a vehicle has consented to the use of the electronic tracking device with respect to that vehicle.” That means if you or your company own the vehicle you can track that vehicle without informing the driver. In fact, this is how many car dealerships repo vehicles that are late on payments because they technically own the vehicle until the person pays the vehicle off.
Another grey area on GPS tracking laws in California is whether or not it is okay to place a tracking device outside of the vehicle if that vehicle is parked on public property. For example, it is a misdemeanor to place a GPS tracker inside a car you do not own or go into someone’s garage and place a vehicle tracker on the outside of that car. However, if the automobile is parked on a public street and the tracking device is placed on the outside of the vehicle then technically it is not illegal.
California Penal Code 637.7
(a) No person or entity in this state shall use an electronic tracking device to determine the location or movement of a person.
(b) This section shall not apply when the registered owner, lessor, or lessee of a vehicle has consented to the use of the electronic tracking device with respect to that vehicle.
(c) This section shall not apply to the lawful use of an electronic tracking device by a law enforcement agency.
(d) As used in this section, “electronic tracking device” means any device attached to a vehicle or other movable thing that reveals its location or movement by the transmission of electronic signals.
(Added by Stats. 1998, Ch. 449, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 1999.)
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GPS Tracking Employees California
Anyone considering using a GPS tracker to secretly track a car should consult an attorney in their local area or area of intended use to get the latest information on GPS tracking laws in California. With the constant shift in GPS tracking laws in California and other states, it is important to get the most up-to-date information on the legal use of security products. Therefore, this article should not be taken as legal advice.
Matthew is a freelance writer who is passionate about technology, music, photography, and decentralized finance.