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What are the UK’s GPS tracking laws?

There’s no doubt that GPS tracking is becoming a crucial tool for businesses and vehicle owners who want to know their vehicle is safe.

That’s when a GPS tracker is placed in a vehicle, or other asset that is easily moved, to track and record its movements.

The car tracker will record the vehicle’s geographic location and transmit that information to a cloud-based server to be viewed on a digital map.

However, while GPS tracking technology is growing in popularity, understanding the legal framework surrounding its use in the UK is crucial.

While there’s no single law specifically dedicated to the use of GPS trackers, there are several regulations that govern its use.

These laws are important because they cover data privacy and employee consent.

An introduction to GPS tracking

GPS tracking systems work by using satellite technology to pinpoint the real-time location of a vehicle.

This information is transmitted wirelessly, allowing users to monitor the vehicle’s movements remotely through online platforms or mobile applications.

And if you are asking: ‘Is GPS tracking legal?’. The short answer is ‘Yes’.

However, the legality hinges on several crucial factors:

  • Consent: Tracking someone’s vehicle without their knowledge or consent is a clear violation of privacy. This applies particularly to tracking individuals, whether friends, family members or employees outside of their work hours
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): This law replaced the Data Protection Act 1998 in 2018, and it strengthened data protection regulations.

Put simply, businesses and individuals using GPS tracking must comply with the strict requirements regarding data collection, storage and usage.

What vehicles can be tracked?

The legality of GPS tracking varies depending on the type of vehicle and the context:

Personal vehicles: Tracking your own car solely for personal purposes is legal. However, sharing this data with third parties without their consent would violate the GDPR. All of the insurance approved vehicle trackers are legal to use.

Company vehicles: Businesses can legally track company-owned vehicles used for work purposes, provided employees are informed about the tracking and its purpose. This information should be clearly outlined in a company policy.

Employee-owned vehicles: Tracking employee-owned vehicles requires explicit consent from the employee, with clear boundaries regarding the scope and duration of the tracking.

Legal aspects to consider

Here’s a breakdown of key legal aspects to consider when using GPS tracking:

  • Employee consent: For company vehicles, obtaining written consent from employees before installing GPS trackers is crucial. This consent should clearly explain the purpose of tracking, the data collected and how it will be used
  • Data security: Businesses and individuals using GPS tracking must implement robust security measures to protect collected data from unauthorised access, breaches or misuse
  • Data retention: The collected data should only be retained for a legitimate and justifiable period, as outlined in the company policy or individual consent
  • Data usage: The data should only be used for the purposes originally specified in the consent. Sharing data with third parties without their knowledge or consent is illegal
  • GPS jamming: Using devices to intentionally disrupt GPS signals is strictly prohibited in the UK and can result in significant fines.

So, while the arrival of GDPR didn’t significantly change data protection rules, it did heighten awareness. Here’s how to comply:

  • Collect only necessary data: You’ll need to focus on data relevant to business needs, like location for job progress tracking, customer updates or vehicle recovery. You can also monitor driving behaviour to improve safety, fuel efficiency, and vehicle maintenance
  • Safeguard the data you collect: Restrict access to the data to authorised personnel like fleet managers or those appraising driver performance. GDPR does allow sharing data with authorities, but it must be minimal and relevant to the request.
  • Security: Secure your tracking portal with passwords and restrict access. Keep employee data accurate and up to date. Remember, employees have the right to know what data is collected about them.

How to track business vehicles legally

Tracking employees with their permission means you’ll need to develop a written policy explaining why you are tracking them, what data is collected and how it’s used.

You will also need to obtain employee consent before tracking is introduced.

How to choose the right tracking system

For work-only vehicles, most tracking systems will work though you could consider:

  • Privacy buttons: For employees to stop data collection during personal time
  • Remote disabling: By the employer when employees clock off
  • Automatic timers: You can disable tracking at set times or locations.

Essentially, these features will help ensure employee privacy when they’re not working.

GPS tracking laws – the final word

It’s worth remembering that a good tracking system won’t allow the collection of anything illegal.

Ultimately, it is your responsibility to avoid unnecessary data collection during employee downtime.

With this knowledge, you can confidently select the right vehicle tracking system for your needs – and it’s worth speaking to experts about the top suppliers and system cost information.

Need help finding the best tracker for your needs?

Finding the right tracker for you, your vehicle and insurance category can be difficult. Our team are here to help you find the tracker for your needs and budget.

Contact our team now on 0800 246 5538 or use the form and we will call you right back.
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Tracker Team supply & install a wide range of stolen vehicle trackers from award winning manufacturers. We are fully TASSA and Thatcham approved installers. We don’t ask our engineers to install 10+ trackers a day and rush the jobs we want them to carefully fit the unit in your vehicle and hide it away so it cant be found easily.