With all the good that technology has given us, in the wrong hands, it can also be very bad. This is just one reason why GPS tracking laws have begun to garner attention. Privacy is no longer something we can take for granted. Drones, hackers, and GPS tracking devices are just a few examples of how technology can be used in the most invasive ways.
At the onset, mobile tracking systems like GPS were all the rave. Private investigators, law enforcement officials, and others were finding creative and innovative uses for these technologies. Today, the availability of these types of devices has made them accessible to everyone - and that isn't always a good thing.
When put to good use, parents can help keep their children safer. Caregivers can keep better watch over the elderly or sick. However, in the wrong hands, there are countless scenarios where these systems and devices can become nefarious tools.
The National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) recently reported on this very subject. The good news is that states are beginning to take action to thwart ill-intended users of GPS and other tracking systems.
To date, according to the NCSL report, 26 states have taken action to address these concerns. The breakdown looks like this:
Eleven states include GPS and other location tracking as part of the state’s stalking laws. These states include Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wyoming. The District of Columbia also considers location tracking to be covered under anti-stalking laws.
There are nine states that make it illegal to install location tracking devices in a vehicle without the consent of the vehicle’s owner. This has been a growing problem as GPS tracking devices become more mainstream, and has led to many potentially unsafe situations. The states with this type of law are Delaware, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.
In California, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Virginia, the laws are even more strict. No one may use location tracking devices in these states to follow the location or movement of another person. Only when the person has explicitly consented to share this location data with another person will it be allowed.
With the growing popularity of GPS and other location-tracking devices, the list of states who have enacted legislation to deal with the potential safety concerns posed by these devices will probably grow in the coming years.
GPS Tracking Laws
|Alabama||Not Illegal||Consent required. There are specific legal requirements meant to prevent unscrupulous individuals from abusing trackers for malicious purposes|
|Alaska||Prohibit||Prohibitions on location tracking||Stalking||Stalking includes following or monitoring a person with a global positioning device or similar technological means.|
|Arizona||Prohibit||Prohibitions on location tracking||Stalking||Stalking includes the use of any electronic, digital or global positioning system device to surveil a specific person or a specific person's internet or wireless activity continuously for twelve hours or more or on two or more occasions over a period of time, however short, without authorization.|
|California||Prohibit||Miscellaneous Crimes||Prohibits using electronic tracking devices to follow people, with some exemptions.|
|Colorado||Not Illegal||Consent required.|
|Connecticut||Prohibit||Prohibitions on location tracking||Electronic Stalking: Class B misdemeanor.||A person is guilty of electronic Stalking when such person recklessly causes another person to reasonably fear for his or her physical safety by wilfully and repeatedly using a global positioning system or similar electronic monitoring system to remotely determine or track the position or movement of such other person.|
|Delaware||Prohibit||Use by a parent or guardian on a minor child’s vehicle||Offenses Against Public Health, Order and Decency||Delaware prohibits individuals from knowingly installing an electronic or mechanical location tracking device in or on a motor vehicle without the consent of the registered owner, lessor or lessee of the vehicle.|
|District of Columbia||Prohibit||Prohibitions on location tracking||Stalking||Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific individual, including using any device to follow, monitor, place under surveillance, threaten, or communicate, is unlawful.|
|Florida||Prohibit||Security of Communications, Surveillance||It is illegal to install a tracking device or application on another person's property without their consent, and consent is presumed to be revoked if a petition for dissolution of marriage or an injunction for protection is filed by either party.|
|Hawaii||Prohibit||Electronic Eavesdropping||Prohibits intentional use of a mobile tracking device without first obtaining a search warrant or other order, unless the device is installed consent.|
|Illinois||Prohibit||Exception: 1. Use by employers in connection with an employee’s work 2. Use by commercial motor carriers, car manufacturers, fleet vehicle owners or telematics services||Stalking||Stalking is committed when a person with a previous Stalking conviction intentionally follows or surveils the same person without justification, and transmits a threat of harm to the person or their family member, and placing a person under surveillance means remaining outside their residence or placing an electronic tracking device on them or their property.|
|Indiana||Not Illegal||secret GPS tracking illegal|
|Iowa||Not Illegal||Consent required.|
|Kansas||Not Illegal||Consent required.|
|Louisiana||Prohibit||Use by commercial motor carriers, car manufacturers, fleet vehicle owners or telematics services||Tracking devices prohibited; penalty||Prohibits any person from using a tracking device to determine the location or movement of another person without consent.|
|Maryland||Prohibit||Prohibitions on location tracking||Stalking||Stalking is include conduct that can occur in person, through electronic communication, or by using a tracking device without the knowledge or consent of the person being tracked.|
|Massachusetts||Not Illegal||Consent required.|
|Michigan||Prohibit||Use by a parent or guardian on a minor child’s vehicle||Tracking device; placement or installment on motor vehicle without consent||Prohibits placing a tracking device in or on a motor vehicle without consent|
|Minnesota||Prohibit||General pro-hibition on pen register, trap and trace device and mobile tracking device use||Prohibits any individual from using a tracking device without a court order authorizing them to do so, with one exception.|
|Mississippi||Not Illegal||Consent required.|
|Missouri||Not Illegal||Legal for Personal use|
|Nebraska||Not Illegal||The use of a GPS device being used to harass or stalk an individual is illegal.|
|Nevada||Not Illegal||Does not allow drivers to attach GPS system to the windshield|
|New Hampshire||Prohibit||Conditions of Use of Location Information.||No individual or person shall, without consent, place, locate, or install an electronic device on the person or property of another and obtain location information from such electronic device.|
|New Jersey||Not Illegal||Notice Required|
|New Mexico||Not Illegal||Each vehicle that has a GPS device installed have a decal displayed in the interior clearly identifying that a GPS unit is installed and that all activity including speed and location is and will be monitored|
|New York||Prohibit||Prohibitions on location tracking||Stalking in the fourth degree||Stalking in the fourth degree includes unauthorized tracking of a person's location and intentionally engaging in a course of conduct that causes harm to their mental or emotional health after being informed to cease such conduct.|
|North Carolina||Prohibit||Prohibitions on location tracking||CyberStalking||Makes it unlawful to knowingly install, place, or use an electronic tracking device without consent, or cause an electronic tracking device to be installed, placed, or used without consent, to track the location of any person.|
|North Dakota||Prohibit||Prohibitions on location tracking||Stalking||Stalking encompasses the unauthorized tracking of a person's movements or location using electronic means that could cause fear or harassment and serves no legitimate purpose.|
|Ohio||Not Illegal||Consent required.|
|Oklahoma||Prohibit||Prohibitions on location tracking||Stalking||Stalking includes tracking the movement or location of an individual using a GPS device or other monitoring device without their consent, except in cases of lawful use by new/used motor vehicle dealers or creditors in connection with default of credit sale/lease terms with owner or lessee's express written consent.|
|Oregon||Prohibit||Prohibit installing a location tracking device on a motor vehicle without the consent of the vehicle owner.||Offenses against persons||Establishes the crime of unlawful use of a global positioning system device if the person knowingly affixes a global positioning system device to a motor vehicle without consent of the owner of the motor vehicle.|
|Pennsylvania||Not Illegal||Consent required.|
|Rhode Island||Prohibit||Exception: 1. Use by employers in connection with an employee’s work 2. Use by commercial motor carriers, car manufacturers, fleet vehicle owners or telematics services||Electronic tracking of motor vehicles||It is an offense for a person to knowingly install, conceal, or otherwise place or use an electronic tracking device in or on a motor vehicle without the consent of the operator and all occupants of the vehicle for the purpose of monitoring or following the operator, occupant, or occupants of the vehicle.|
|South Carolina||Not Illegal|
|South Dakota||Not Illegal||One can only install a GPS device with a warrant issued by a magistrate.|
|Tennessee||Prohibit||Exception: 1. Use by a parent or guardian on a minor child’s vehicle 2. Use by commercial motor carriers, car manufacturers, fleet vehicle owners or telematics services||Electronic tracking of motor vehicles||Tennessee makes it illegal for an individual to install, conceal, or otherwise place a mobile tracking device in a motor vehicle.|
|Texas||Prohibit||Use by private investigators||Unlawful installation of tracking device||Provides that it is illegal for any individual to place a tracking device in a motor vehicle, while providing for some exceptions.|
|Utah||Prohibit||Prohibit installing a location tracking device on a motor vehicle without the consent of the vehicle owner.||Unlawful installation of a tracking device||Prohibits a person from knowingly installing, or directing another to install, a tracking device on a motor vehicle owned or leased by another person, without the permission of the owner or lessee of the vehicle.|
|Virginia||Prohibit||Exceptions: 1. Use by employers in connection with an employee’s work 2. Use by private investigators 3. Use by a legally authorized representative of an incapacitated adult||Unauthorized use of electronic tracking device||Prohibits using an electronic tracking device, through intentionally deceptive means, to track the location of any person without consent.|
|Washington||Prohibit||Prohibitions on location tracking||CyberStalking||Prohibits installing or monitoring an electronic tracking device with the intent to track the location of another person if the installation or monitoring of the tracking device would cause the other person reasonable fear.|
|West Virginia||Not Illegal||Consent required.|
|Wisconsin||Prohibit||Prohibit installing a location tracking device on a motor vehicle without the consent of the vehicle owner.||Global positioning devices||Placing a GPS device or obtaining location information from a GPS device without the consent of the vehicle owner is a Class A misdemeanor.|
|Wyoming||Prohibit||Prohibitions on location tracking||Stalking; penalty||Stalking is a crime if someone uses electronic or GPS devices to put another person under surveillance without their consent.|