The idea of using a tracking device to keep a pin on vehicles you own can seem relatively simple. Using a GPS tracker to track other individuals using your vehicles is where the legality can get a little bit murky.
So are GPS trackers legal to use in Australia?
The short answer is yes. You can track yourself and your vehicles without concern, as long as you’re the only one driving them.
But if you’re tracking employees you will need to take some precautions.
Given the information GPS trackers they can divulge, most Australian states have clear laws on how you can and can’t use them.
GPS tracking is legal for your business, but as with most things in life, there are exceptions.
The person you’re tracking must be aware of the fact they’re being tracked—and you must be able to prove it.
A verbal agreement or a handshake may be good enough down at the pub. But you can’t prove that in a court without documentation.
We recommend getting proof of agreement with your employees.
A vehicle tracking policy document entailing:
– The data you will collect from the vehicles.
– Why you are going to track the vehicles.
– How and when the data is collected.
– How you will safeguard the data.
– How you plan to use the data to benefit your business.
With GPS vehicle tracking laws being different for every state, there are always inconsistencies, which isn’t good if you’re planning to use GPS tracking for the sake of your business.
Although surveillance regulations vary across states, they are all based on the concept of consent. Before using tracking devices to record one’s activities, the employer must ask for consent. To put it simply, tracking someone’s location without their knowledge is illegal.
Consent isn’t just a matter of saying “yes”—in terms of Australian vehicle tracking laws, consent can fall into two categories, namely:
Express consent refers to the clear and direct statement of agreement. You can obtain this type of consent by notifying the employee about using a tracking device and them accepting the terms and their implications.
Rather than being expressed through words, implied consent is shown by actions. Passive acceptance is a form of implied consent, where, for example, an employee is notified about the use of a tracking device but did not expressly provide acceptance. An employee may also provide implied consent by driving a vehicle labelled GPS tracking is in place.
Understanding the relationship between consent and surveillance is only the first step since consent is the overarching theme with all the surveillance acts in each state of Australia.
You’re going to need to learn about more than just the types of consent before you can lawfully use tracking devices for your business.
Each state has different employee surveillance laws whether you are in New South Wales, Victoria, or anywhere else. To make sure you’re legally in the clear, it’s wise to read up on your state’s law and consult an attorney in your area of intended use to make sure you know the risks for your business when using GPS trackers.
Here’s a quick rundown of the most important state-to-state differences:
The use of tracking devices in Western Australia is based on the Surveillance Devices Act 1998 (WA). According to the legislation, any apparatus used to determine a person or object’s geographical location is considered a tracking device.
Although GPS tracking isn’t prohibited in the state, installing a tracking device to track an employee’s location without their consent is illegal. Violating any provision of the act could cause you to face a fine of up to $50,000.
For individuals, contravening WA’s GPS tracking laws could face penalties of up to $5,000, 12 months imprisonment, or both.
According to the Workplace Surveillance Act 2005 (NSW), an employee must be given written notice at least 14 days before surveillance commences.
However, an employee may be issued a lesser period of notice if they agree. NSW’s surveillance laws emphasize open communication, where both parties discuss everything related to their surveillance.
Businesses that conduct covert surveillance may face up to $5,000 fines per offence.
Victoria’s regulations are derived from the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 (VIC). According to their rules, a company must obtain an employee’s consent before installing a tracking device in a company vehicle or asset.
Failure to comply with the VIC surveillance laws will result in a fine of up to $180,000. On the other hand, individuals may be penalized for up to $37,000, two years of imprisonment, or both.
South Australia has the Surveillance Devices Act 2016 (SA), the state requires you to have implied or expressed consent before tracking.
If you breach these terms you face a $15,000 fine and three years imprisonment.
The Australian Capital Territory governs tracking devices in their state with the Workplace Privacy Act 2011 (ACT). The state’s definition and description of GPS tracking rules are similar to that of New South Wales.
Failure to abide may result in a $5,000 fine per offence.
Like the ACT, the Northern Territory also follows essentially the same definitions and descriptions of offences for GPS tracking as NSW.
Their Surveillance Devices Act, introduced in 2007, follows the same principles and highlights the importance of consent in GPS tracking.
Both Queensland and Tasmania have no regulations to govern GPS tracking devices or the mention of consent in tracking an individual’s location.
In most states and territories, the best way to ensure any surveillance is legal is to inform your employees and have them sign a document as their proof of agreement. To make it easier, use our basic GPS Tracking Policy Template to get started.
Ensuring there is physical copy of your agreement will not only help you meet legal requirements and avoid penalties but also allow you to develop mutual respect with your team by being honest and upfront.
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