GPS, or the global positioning system, has taken multiple sectors by storm, and people from every industry are utilizing navigational technology to its fullest potential. Whether you belong to the banking sector or work as a product manager in a large conglomerate, this satellite-based navigational technology will benefit you in multiple ways.
However, with its growing uses, legal concerns regarding its removal and installation are surfacing as well. And such legal issues vary between countries and their laws. In some states, GPS device installation is compulsory for every car, whereas some countries mandate this rule only for cargo-carrying vehicles.
In this article, we present an elaborate discussion on the legal dimensions of vehicle tracking devices, instances that law enforcers consider illegal, and the risks people suffer by removing GPS tracking devices from cars.
Legal Dimensions of GPS Tracking Devices in Cars
Every nation has some predefined laws concerning vehicle tracking and the removal of tracking devices. The government generally outlines the rules on how the GPS owner may use the driver or their employee’s location information and whether removing GPS tracking devices from cars is illegal.
Laws of GPS Tracking in The USA
The United States of America’s Federal legislation mandates tracking devices on every vehicle. And this applies to both fleet management and personal use. It lays down policies to safeguard the driver’s or the owner’s personal information and ensures proper use.
Such security measures have not just protected individual properties from robbery or damage. Car owners have noticed how a GPS tracker can alert local law enforcement at the sight of potential danger.
Considering the GPS’s limitless benefits, the federal and state laws of the U.S.A. encourage individuals and automobile industries to use location-tracking devices on their vehicles for varied purposes:
- Security reasons
- Reduced fuel consumption
- Tool maintenance
However, if an individual installs the tracking device on a car that doesn’t belong to them without authorization, it’s illegal.
On the same note, law enforcement officers consider it illegal when a car owner removes the tracking device from their vehicle or if a fleet manager disables the tracker on cargo trucks.
Besides the state and federal laws, several commercial policies bound a car owner to the legalities of having a tracking device attached to the vehicle. When the vehicle owner fails to abide by those rules or removes the device, the managing professionals may consider it a breach of contract.
Laws Concerning Vehicle Tracking in The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom mandates the tracking of vehicles and company employees through its vehicle tracking laws. Such laws permeate the tracker and its owner to collect data on the car’s speed, driver’s navigational behavior, the distance the driver traveled, and also the location of vehicles in real-time. However, every fleet manager, industry employer, or car owner must ensure their data collection follows vehicle tracking laws.
In the U.K., the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act govern vehicle tracking laws. These government Acts protect an employee’s personal information from getting compromised.
According to the Data Protection Act, 1998, “Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully, shall be adequate, relevant, accurate and kept no longer than is necessary and moreover obtained only for lawful purposes.“
The vehicle tracking law makes sure that the employee installs the device in the car in full acknowledgment of the employee and that they don’t encourage unfair treatment of the information the device collects. In such scenarios, the employee or truck driver should know the data the device collects and how the managers process them.
When is it Illegal to Remove GPS Tracking Devices From Cars?
From the police department to the agricultural sector, GPS technology has shown immense impact in locating vehicles, tracking criminals, reducing speeding-up cases, regulating unauthorized stalking, and more. Several states have laid down laws encouraging the use of GPS in cars.
Often banks, financial firms, and even car dealers require their clients to install tracking devices and condemn the practice of dismantling the positioning systems. Even multiple companies legally bound their employees under proper surveillance using location trackers.
Therefore, when car owners, employees, or random individuals remove the tracking device from a car, they can face a court trial. In some minor cases, the offender may have to pay compensation for such actions.
Here are some situations that bank executives or legal professionals may label as illegal:
1. Car as Collateral For The Loan
When an individual uses their vehicle as collateral for a loan, the lender or the bank often asks the borrower to implant a tracking device in the vehicle. They aim to monitor the car’s occasional positions until the borrower fully pays off the loan.
The borrower has to agree to this agreement for the smooth processing of the loan. If the borrower removes the tracking device without seeking prior permission, the bank or the money lender may reach out and condemn this act as a breach of contract. In most cases, the borrower has to pay an additional fine for this act of misjudgment.
In such financial cases, the bank or the lender doesn’t use the tracking device to spy on the borrower. It’s part of the insurance policy, ensuring the borrower pays their installments on time. If they fail to do so, the bank can report the car to the dealers, and they can easily handle the matter with no hassle.
2. Vehicle on Lease
Often, people acquire vehicles on lease to run their daily errands or business. In most cases, the actual vehicle owner prepares a contract stating the installation of a global positioning device.
The lessee or the tenant has to sign legal documents. This permits the authority to the lessor that they can record and store data on the vehicle’s whereabouts.
However, removing or disabling the location tracking device from the vehicle or interfering with its functionality is an illegal practice. The law binds the lessee in its terms and conditions.
Therefore, removing the device indicates the lessee loses the vehicle immediately.
3. Car as a New Product
In the 21st century, most cars are technology dependent and are available with an in-built tracking system. These are more prevalent in vehicles suited for fleet management services and even in cars for personal use.
New car owners may sometimes want to remove tracking devices from their vehicles. In that case, they should ask the proprietor to remove the device from the car.
These tracking apparatuses are sensitive, and the engineers place them at subtle locations within the car. When a car owner removes these trackers from the vehicle manually or with a local mechanic’s help, they may damage the internal electronic configuration of the car.
As a result, the new owner loses the warranty entitlement.
Risks of Removing GPS Tracking Devices From a Car
Removing the position tracking device from the car can result in risky situations. From increased stalking cases to instances of mechanic breakdown, such incidents can jeopardize an individual’s personal space or hinder a company’s equipment management procedures.
Some of the vital risks that the removal of GPS tracking devices poses are:
1. Increased Car Theft
According to studies, 748,000 cars are being stolen every day. A tracking device can lower this number, and its in-built sensory signals can alert the local authority at the sign of such potential danger.
If the thief tries to wrangle or force their way into the vehicle, the GPS sends a signal to the owner. With the help of the police, the owner may likely get the car back with no trouble.
2. Irregularity in Monitoring Vehicles
Fleet managers primarily use GPS devices to monitor the conditions of the asset the vehicle carries. But, unexpected circumstances may arise where the truck gets derailed from its predetermined path or loses its way to the destination. In such situations, the location tracker automatically alerts the managers and customers waiting at the destination.
Furthermore, if the assets or goods get damaged on the way, the GPS can immediately inform the managers for replacements. When the truck driver removes or disables the tracking device, the managers or the clients cannot communicate or locate their positions. Therefore, they fail to help the driver or keep the vehicle safe in the face of potential danger.
3. Reduces The Chance of a Diagnosis
The tracking device maintains the vehicle and its internal and external body parts. With a GPS, a driver can easily understand whenever any technical or mechanical problems arise. That way, car owners can save their vehicles from complicated technical issues in the future.
When you remove the GPS from the car, you lose the chance of identifying the vehicle’s health problems before they worsen. As a result, your vehicle may suffer from unexpected breakdowns or electronic damage in the near future.
Frequently Asked Question
Here are a few common questions about the legality of removing global tracking devices from cars:
It depends on who removes the tracking device from whose car. If you remove the GPS from someone else’s car without their knowledge, it’s illegal. For that reason, you may face prosecution. On the other hand, you’re free to disable and remove the tracking device from your car.
If a finance company installs a tracking device on your car, you cannot remove it without the company’s permission. The finance firm will see this act as a contract violation and may fine you with a lump sum of money or collateral.
You may have to serve jail time if you remove a tracking device from someone else’s car. In that case, the prosecutor and law authorities will consider it an act of theft.
However, relieving your car from a GPS tracker is not a crime. If the automobile is an essential requirement for ‘black-box’ insurance and you removed it without legal permission, you may have to pay a fine.
The location of GPS on a car depends on the device type and the car model. Most common places include the OBD II port, at the rear or the front bumper, inside the wheel wells, the gloves compartment, or beneath the floor mats.
For a long-term installation, the car dealer may posit the tracking device near the car battery.
The owner receives a tamper alert on removing the GPS from the car. The signal indicates that the device is no longer attached to the vehicle.
Yes, you can disable the GPS tracking device by installing a plug-in GPS blocker. Besides that, seek a mechanic’s help to remove the hard-wired tracking device.
Deactivate the global tracking device on a car by placing the device inside a metal box. The metal walls will absorb the device’s ongoing and outgoing signals and interfere with its functioning.
No, a GPS tracker doesn’t drain your car battery because it typically has a long battery life.
Yes, you track the car from your phone. Install tracking software that associates with your car’s tracking device. Monitor your car’s whereabouts from your phone’s screen.
Yes, you can connect the car’s GPS with your mobile’s Bluetooth and continue to track your vehicle. However, Bluetooth has a weak network range and may not always locate the vehicle.
The legality concerning vehicle tracking and its removal varies between nations and their industrial practices. In some countries, installing a global location tracker is mandatory for all – personal owners and fleet drivers alike. While in other states or nations, GPS devices are required only for people enchanted in the fleet managing industry.
For instance, fleet managers prepare trucks with an in-built tracking device for drivers traveling inter-state carrying goods.
Likewise, the varied state and federal laws encourage individuals and industry executives to use GPS and its associated technology to prosper and safeguard their businesses.
Data Protection and Human Rights laws often complement vehicle tracking laws. They regulate and monitor the proper usage of personal data and reserve an employee’s or a driver’s fundamental rights to privacy.
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Meet Klark Kurz, a GPS enthusiast and author with a B.B.A. in Finance from Texas A&M University. With a passion for technology and innovation, Klark provides accessible and user-friendly content to help individuals and businesses make informed decisions. As a regular contributor to TraxFamily.com, Klark’s insights and practical advice make GPS tracking more accessible, affordable, and user-friendly.