Is Tracking Someone With A GPS Illegal?
What You Need To Know About Spying Spouses
One of the most frequent questions our GPS tracking system experts get asked is whether tracking someone with a GPS is illegal. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is very ambiguous and can have many different shades of gray. This is why we recommend people contact an attorney before using GPS trackers if they are concerned they might be doing something unlawful with a GPS tracker. With that disclaimer out of the way let’s take a look at some of the information and historical precedents when it comes to the legality of secretly using a GPS tracker to find out if a spouse is cheating.
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Are GPS Tracking Devices Legal?
Before having a legal separation, filing for divorce, or contacting a divorce lawyer, the first thing you need to do is get the truth about what is going on. There are a number of different reasons why a person would choose to invest in a GPS fleet tracking device to find out where a car travels. This is especially true when it comes to spouses spying because they believe their partner is having an affair. If, people should be aware that using any form of spy gadget comes with responsibility. That means that a person using a GPS needs to make certain that they are using such monitoring technologies inside the parameters of lawful use in a way that does not violate the rights of others
Is GPS Tracking Legal?
The purchase of a GPS auto tracking device that can track a car is 100% legal. However, just because a product is legal doesn’t mean it can be used in any sort of fashion that the buyer chooses. Let’s compare GPS for example to the purchase of a video camera (even though smartphones have essentially crippled the video camera industry). A person can walk into most electronics stores in their city and purchase a video camera without any issue, but even though that product can offer a wide range of benefits it, like a GPS unit, can be used maliciously. For example, video cameras are legal but it’s not legal to place that video camera in the office bathroom. This is where it can be a little bit tricky when it comes to the application of GPS car tracking units.
GPS car tracking units are legal but the act of monitoring a vehicle has many shades of white, gray and black. For example, in many states, an employer can equip auto-tracking equipment on their company vehicles and not have to disclose that information to employees. Some states require that employees disclose this information. In some places it’s legal to place a car tracker on the outside of a vehicle but if a person places a GPS inside the cab of the vehicle that is illegal. Therefore, it is important to understand that laws are not concrete when it comes to GPS monitoring practices. In fact, what is legal in one place might be illegal in another. That’s simply the way many laws work, including laws related to GPS vehicle monitoring.
GPS Tracker Legal Issues
When it comes to getting sound legal advice regarding the use of GPS monitoring systems the first place a person should start is the city and state they plan on using the tracker systems. The first step would be to contact local police to see if they have any knowledge about personal or business application legalities. However, that information should also be reinforced by an attorney in the local area who understands criminal and business law. Those would be the two parties with the most knowledge about GPS vehicle monitoring laws in the region of intended use. Those wanting extra credit confirmation could even speak with a local private investigation company, as many PIs are aware of legal boundaries and what is considered acceptable with GPS.
It is important that people do the appropriate research before investing in-vehicle GPS trackers so they do not cross the line where they themselves are conducting themselves in an unlawful fashion. Talking with police, local attorneys, and private eyes before using any automotive tracking units is the best way to avoid doing something against the law.
Can You Get In Trouble For Tracking Someone?
Spy Equipment To Catch A Cheating Spouse
People who suspect their husband or wife might be having an affair often call upon the use of GPS vehicle tracking devices to determine where their partner is going to validate their whereabouts. Is it illegal to track your spouse in this type of situation? It is completely legal to put a GPS tracking device in a car a person owns so if a husband owns a vehicle and his wife drives that automobile it would be perfectly legal to put a real time GPS tracker in that car. The same thing would apply to the reverse situation where a wife suspects her husband of an affair. If you own the car you can place a GPS tracking device in it!
But what if a couple is not married and one of the people in the relationship suspects infidelity? Then is it illegal to put a tracking device on someone’s car?
Is It Legal To Put A GPS Vehicle Tracker On Someone’s Car?
It is strongly recommended that anyone who believes they might be illegally using a GPS tracking device consult an attorney in the area where they intend on using the vehicle surveillance technology. Also, investigating city, state, and federal laws would also be a wise move considering laws regarding technology products change consistently.
GPS Tracking Laws
With the help of a vehicle tracking system, police were able to gather substantial evidence and build a case against a criminal that eventually led to his arrest for possession and intent to distribute over 50 kilograms of cocaine. Through this modern approach to investigative work, police were able to make an arrest while keeping officers out of harms’ way during the investigative process. Although this should have been the end of the story it was only the beginning as the legality of using a hidden GPS tracker by police was questioned by the defense team. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court and would be known as United States v Jones.
The United States v Jones should have been a story about how intelligent police work was conducted efficiently and safely while saving taxpayers money, but the narrative changed dramatically when Jones’ defense team stated that police use of GPS tracking systems was a violation of his privacy rights. Backed with support from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other privacy advocate groups, Jones and his team of lawyers drained millions of tax dollars to push the case through a long appeals process. That appeals process ended when the Supreme Court determined the use of a hidden GPS tracker by police violated Jones’ 4th amendment rights.
From the police perspective, there was no federal legislation that outlined the appropriate or inappropriate use of GPS geo-locational devices, and very few states had ruled on whether or not police should first obtain a warrant prior to using hidden GPS trackers for investigative work. That essentially meant that the use of GPS tracking systems in many states was a gray area, leaving police without a strict protocol or guidelines when using GPS tracking devices.
Is it Illegal to put GPS Tracking Device on Car
The laws regarding the use of GPS surveillance devices should be handled at the state level with each state having to make it clear whether police must first obtain a warrant before using GPS monitoring technology. However, since no legislation was in place when police used a hidden GPS tracker to observe Jones that does not necessarily mean the police were in the wrong. The police had reasonable cause to suspect Jones was involved in criminal activity, and they acted with the best interest of the community to investigate the matter. Yes, it is true that this particular case shows the need for legislators to be more timely in how they draft laws regarding the use of technological products, but the end result was a successful arrest of an individual who was in possession of massive amounts of narcotics. The police used good judgment, and they were rewarded with an arrest.
Disclaimer: This disclaimer is to inform readers that the potential applications and uses of GPS vehicle tracking devices, and not advised by Tracking System Direct as an organization, committee or other group or individual. Always consult a local attorney, and research applicable laws in areas where GPS trackers will be used before using the surveillance equipment.GPS tracking devices should be used at your own risk.
Source: Computer World
Matthew is a freelance writer who is passionate about technology, music, photography, and decentralized finance.
- Is Tracking Someone With A GPS Illegal?