GPS has been a source of security for businesses and individuals, allowing the visibility of their vehicles and assets on a digital map. But some people regard it as an invasion of privacy, thankfully, there are laws in the UK that have been put in place to protect the privacy of all individuals. The use of vehicle tracking devices is rarely referenced in legal scripts provided by the government. Before implementing a GPS Tracking system, one must read the laws regarding privacy and monitoring to develop a legal framework.
What Is GPS Tracking?
GPS tracking is where a GPS tracker is either placed on an asset or vehicle to track and record movements. A GPS tracker records the geo-location of an asset or a vehicle, sends the recorded data to a cloud-based server so it can be viewed on a digital map. If you install a GPS tracker on your vehicle, you can tell the exact position of that vehicle at any given time. The tracker provides you with a trail of the vehicle's route in the form of a digital map that you can trace from your computer or smartphone. GPS tracking has been seen to have a positive effect, especially on improving safety and security of vehicle fleets.
The laws in the UK does not specifically address the use of GPS Tracking Devices. There are several laws governing the use of the GPS technology as they are considered a surveillance tool. If an individual can be identified using some information, this information is considered personal data. Data Protection Act of 1998 defines the information gathered by GPS trackers as personal data, and this data must be dealt with accordingly.
A business must inform their drivers before placing vehicle tracking devices on their vehicles. Letting your employees know of your intention to install trackers on the vehicles creates a level of trust because they will not take it so much to be a tool meant to spy on them, but rather an assurance of their safety and well-being while on the job. You can even use this opportunity to let them know that you have a legal obligation towards their safety.
In the United Kingdom, the law expects the businesses with fleets to ensure the safety of their drivers. Some of the ways that a fleet manager can improve safety are by tracking the movements of their car and helping the drivers adjust and improve accordingly. It will give them an idea of the driver’s state of mind, and their level of fatigue, even when the driver will not admit to it.
Is Vehicle Tracking Legal?
Yes and no, depending on where and how vehicle tracking is used. Covertly tracking someone else’s car is definitely illegal. But if you do it the right way, letting your employees know of the installation, and safeguarding the data collected in as per the law, it’s legal. If you fail to alert your employees, and if you use the information to victimise them, it's illegal. To answer this question definitively, you would have to read all of the related laws provided below;
The Information Commissioner’s Code of Practice for Employees is clear on how the employee should be treated; stating clearly that the employee has the right to know the methods being used to monitor them. It also favours methods that are least intrusive of their privacy. It is also best to only monitor them during working hours and give them the right to turn off the surveillance tools during their private time.
You will be within the law to track: Vehicles solely used for business tasks provided the driver is aware of the GPS tracking device. You are allowed to monitor your vehicle for mileage, driver behaviour, hours driven on the road, and the routes used. Anything, well, almost anything goes here, as long as the vehicle is designated for business.
This article is merely for information, to have a definitive answer on what’s legal or illegal, the correct source is the laws provided by The United Kingdom at legislation.gov.uk.