GPS Tracking: Ensuring Compliance With Privacy Laws

GPS tracking has become a popular tool for employers to monitor activities in the workplace.

Businesses use it to locate their remote employees, vehicles, or assets in real-time, get valuable insight into their efficiency, and make well-informed and timely decisions.

While GPS tracking can help businesses streamline workflow and improve productivity, it raises many concerns regarding privacy rights and compliance with laws and regulations. Failure to adhere can be harmful, leading to expensive lawsuits, fines, and reputation damage.

To safeguard their employees’ privacy and stay on the right side of the law. Employers must understand the legal landscape surrounding it and stick to GPS-tracking best practices.

Legal Considerations for GPS Tracking in the Workplace

Employee GPS tracking is generally considered legal as long as it respects the employee’s privacy rights and complies with relevant federal, state, and local laws.

To better understand the main legal issues, here is a brief and non-exhaustive overview of regulations employers should consider.

GPS Tracking Laws In the US

There isn’t a specific law regarding the use of GPS tracking devices by employers in federal law. However, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) offers insight into how employers in the US can avoid the invasion of their employees’ privacy.

This federal law prohibits employers from intentionally intercepting electronic communications, with two exceptions:

  • a legitimate business reason
  • a proper authorization (employee’s consent)

US State Laws

Many states have passed laws that provide additional safeguards for employees, which also helps to regulate this field further.

For example, employers in New York can use GPS to track company-owned vehicles. However, employers must get their consent if the vehicle is in the employee’s ownership. In addition, monitoring employees’ location is limited to business hours in this state.

On the other hand, in California, it is illegal to track the whereabouts of any person without their consent, regardless of who owns the vehicle.

In most states, the limitations set by privacy laws are related to consent, the ownership of a vehicle/device, and whether tracking occurs during or outside of working hours.

Besides these safeguards, in certain states, such as Connecticut, employers must provide clear written notice to the employees.

GPS Tracking Laws In the EU

The European Union doesn’t have specific regulations related to employee monitoring. However, most companies use the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for reference.

Employers in the EU have the right to monitor employees as long as they:

  • acquire explicit and informed consent from employees
  • have a lawful basis for collecting data
  • protect the data from unauthorized access or disclosure
  • grant employees unrestricted access to their data

Keep in mind that even if an employer is not based in the European Union, if it collects GPS tracking data from EU residents, it may still be subject to GDPR.

Most Common Challenges And Risks

If employers do not communicate the purpose and the methods of GPS tracking transparently, they might face employee pushback and, in some cases, legal action.

Employees might feel like they are being constantly monitored and scrutinized and that their privacy is invaded. Consequently, it can create an atmosphere of distrust and anxiety in the workplace leading to harmful outcomes.

In addition to low morale and high employee turnover, one might expect potential legal disputes, reputation damage, and financial losses.

Finally, there is the risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks. Some GPS tracking data, such as employee locations and activity patterns, is sensitive and valuable. If this information is compromised, it can lead to severe consequences, including identity theft, financial loss, and reputational damage.

But there are things employers can do to mitigate these risks.

Best Practices for Complying with Privacy Laws

To reap all the benefits of GPS tracking in the workplace, employers must find a way to balance efficiency and compliance.

Fortunately, following the area’s best practices can help them abide by the laws and regulations.

Establishing Clear Policies and Procedures for GPS Tracking

The next step to compliance is ensuring employees are on the same page regarding GPS tracking and privacy rights.

A clear and straightforward employee GPS tracking policy is a solid foundation for this. The employers’ policy should address the issues below:

  • The purpose and importance of the policy. Employers should explain all the benefits of GPS tracking procedures for the company and employees. Some apparent benefits employers could mention are: improving employees’ driving safety, reducing costs by optimizing routes, or streamlining payroll and mileage reimbursement.
  • Explain the GPS tracking solution. Employees will have fewer privacy concerns if they understand how the tracking system works. For example, the best employee GPS tracking apps will ensure location data is stored during working hours only, minimizing employees’ privacy concerns and possible risks of non-compliance.
  • Type of data. GPS tracking policy must contain all details about the kind of data that will be collected and under which conditions.
  • Data safety. Employers should inform employees what measures they will take to secure their data and prevent misuse.
  • Access to data.  Employees must know who can access their data and for what purpose.
  • Data retention. The policy should provide info on how long the company will keep their data and what happens after that period expires –  will it be destroyed and when.

Limiting the Use of GPS Tracking to Specific Situations

Organizations can take steps to comply with privacy laws, such as limiting GPS tracking to specific situations, such as monitoring employee work hours or tracking company vehicles.

Although GPS tracking can benefit employers and employees, it may be restricted in some circumstances. For example, employers cannot use GPS tracking to monitor employees without their consent or outside working hours. This situation would violate employees’ privacy rights and could result in legal liability.

Employers must also be careful not to use GPS tracking to discriminate against certain employees. For example, employers cannot use GPS tracking to target employees based on their race, gender, or religion. Doing so would violate anti-discrimination laws and could result in legal liability.

Ensuring Transparency and Communication with Employees

To ensure compliance with privacy laws, employees must have all the information about GPS monitoring and its use.

Besides establishing a clear policy, before opting for GPS tracking, employers should:

  • Provide notice to their employees with all the relevant information regarding the GPS tracking system, its purpose, and the kind of data the company will collect.
  • Obtain employees’ explicit consent.
  • Provide regular updates on how the data is being used.
  • Notify employees of their right to opt out of GPS tracking and its consequences.

Onboarding sessions and employee training are also great ways to introduce the benefits of GPS tracking to employees, explain features and functionalities, and help them understand the procedure.

Implementing Security Measures to Protect GPS Data

GPS tracking data can be sensitive and contain personal information, so it is vital to implement appropriate security measures to protect it.

These measures can include cybersecurity best practices such as encryption, access controls, and regular data backups.


GPS tracking in the workplace can bring numerous benefits to employees and employers. Following these best practices can protect your employees’ privacy, ensure your business’s compliance with laws and regulations, and improve efficiency.

Lavanya Rathnam

Lavanya Rathnam is an experienced technology, finance, and compliance writer. She combines her keen understanding of regulatory frameworks and industry best practices with exemplary writing skills to communicate complex concepts of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) in clear and accessible language. Lavanya specializes in creating informative and engaging content that educates and empowers readers to make informed decisions. She also works with different companies in the Web 3.0, blockchain, fintech, and EV industries to assess their products’ compliance with evolving regulations and standards.

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