GPS tracking considerations

Why the Supreme Court GPS case matters to the security industry


The New York Times has a great article about GPS tracking considerations in light of the recent Supreme Court case that effectively declared that warrants are necessary for GPS tracking. What the New York Times does is point out the grey areas beyond the point that warrants are required -- specifically it looks at the private investigation business and how GPS technology is being used to catch unfaithful spouses, and even how GPS helps track children and elderly parents. This case, which seems at first to only relate to law enforcement, is of major importance to the security industry.

Those grey areas of GPS tracking impact a number of businesses in our sector, and for now, those grey areas seem to be marked as legal. Dealers sometimes use GPS to track techs in the field in order to locate the closest tech for the job or to create additional efficiencies and to do project time tracking. Some dealers/monitoring firms resell real-time tracking services to parents, in fact, it's been advocated that selling GPS tracking can be an additional source of income for your firm. On the corporate security side, our end-users use GPS to track assets around the globe, slapping GPS devices on their physical assets like cargo containers, shipping vessels. Some even use it for executive protection analysis.

It's also used by the private investigators in the security services sector. It's this sector that needs to pay close attention to this case. As the New York Times article notes:

"In the absence of legislation in most states, putting a GPS device on a spouse's car, or hiring an investigator to do so, is widely considered to be legal if the person placing it shares ownership of the car." (NYTimes.com: "Private Snoops Find GPS Trail Legal to Follow", Jan. 28, 2012)

What this case signifies more than anything is that technology has surpassed our privacy laws, and we seem to be a bit more comfortable yielding our privacy rights than ever before. One thing is for sure, this case isn't solely relevant for law enforcement.