Over the last few years in particular, GPS tracker devices have become more affordable and more powerful – which has led to an explosion in their popularity. For less than a few hundred dollars, you can not only get accurate directions for every drive you ever take, but you also have a way to always know where your car is located – even in a place like a multi-floor parking garage.
GPS TrackerBut did you know that if you’re not careful, your GPS tracker might also get you arrested? It’s true. Not only that, but it’s already happened in a wide variety of different places. It’s safe to say that the overall legality of GPS trackers is something that you should be fully aware of moving forward.

You, Your GPS Tracker and the Law: What You Need to Know

To be clear, simply owning a GPS tracker and using it the way you’re supposed to – in the way that it was designed – is not likely to land you in any type of hot water. If you buy a GPS unit to get turn-by-turn directions between any two points, you don’t have anything to worry about. If you went out and got a GPS unit to help recover your car in the event that it’s stolen, to help monitor the driving habits of your new teen driver, or for any one of a number of other totally legitimate reasons to own one, you’re not going to wake up one morning to suddenly find law enforcement knocking at your door.

However, if drivers intentionally misuse the device, they could easily find themselves in violation of the law – even if they didn’t mean to. This could lead to their being arrested, prosecuted and even jailed if the situation is bad enough. More specifically, they are not in any circumstances to be used to invade someone else’s right to privacy. Simply because the technology exists is not an excuse to spy on people… as many people are finding out the hard way all over the country.

Some GPS trackers, for example, are constantly uploading information to the Internet. Using a web browser or mobile app, you’re never more than a few seconds away from getting real-time location information about your vehicle. Some devices even send automatic alerts to those mobile apps or to your email address if the car moves. All of this can be very valuable information, but if you install one of these devices on someone else’s car without their knowing about it, it is absolutely a violation of the law, and if discovered, you are probably going to be prosecuted for a breach of privacy, data protection and even a breach of the peace.

GPS tracking law

An example of this happened in 2016, when a man installed a GPS tracker on his estranged wife’s car to spy on her. Whether he suspected that she was having an affair or was just trying to monitor her every move doesn’t actually matter. She discovered the device and reported it to the police. At that point, the man was arrested; he admitted to stalking the woman, and he was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison. Another man (that you can read about in the same article above) was sentenced to three months in prison and had his driver’s license suspended for two full years.

These are the types of situations you need to think about before you potentially do something stupid (not to mention illegal) with your GPS tracker. Again, there are many different totally legitimate reasons to own a GPS tracker. The key thing to understand is that all of them have to do with protection: Either you’re trying to protect your vehicle, a loved one or yourself. The moment you start to use those devices for anything other than these purposes is the moment you have to start worrying about the police knocking on your door one morning with a pair of handcuffs with your name on them.