Is it legal to install a GPS locator in someone else's car?

Since these devices are becoming more accessible in terms of price and also easier to use, it is not surprising that doubts arise as to whether a GPS locator can be installed in the vehicle from someone else.

This is a fairly current legal dilemma for which the legislation did not have a specific regulation. It has been the regulations on data protection that have come to assess these issues to determine when it is legal or not to use this type of device, and the jurisprudence that has gone establishing certain requirements and parameters of use.

Is it legal to install a GPS locator in someone else's car person?


Geolocation, the fashion term

Lately we have heard quite frequently about geolocation, which uses technology to determine the real physical location of a person. It is a very useful system both at a business level and at a private level.

In our day to day, thanks to geolocation we can easily reach any place on foot or by car. It is enough to connect the GPS to an app so that the device detects where we are exactly and traces a route that will take us to our destination.

In the business field, geolocation is used for different purposes. Obtaining information about a person's location can be useful in designing new transportation routes. It also serves to verify that workers are fulfilling their work obligations, and even to do marketing.

Today we can obtain data on a person's real-time location thanks to their mobile, but also with specific devices such as a GPS locator. But is this always legal?



Considerations on the legality of installing a GPS locator in another person's vehicle

A GPS car locator is a small device that is installed in a vehicle and provides us with information about its movements and its exact location. This geolocation, which can be very useful in an emergency, can also be used for illegal purposes.

The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in force in the European Union states that all information about a person who help to identify it, is considered personal data. In addition, Directive 2002/58 establishes that location data can help identify a person, so they are expressly considered personal data.

Consequently, the Spanish Data Protection Agency considers that location and location information is personal data and should be treated as such. This means that obtaining this information fraudulently, or to give it uses that are not legally permitted, constitutes an infraction that can lead to a quite high fine.

This leads us to differentiate between two different situations:

Install a GPS locator in someone else's car at a private level

Place a deviceGeolocation site in the car of an individual (a neighbor, your partner, a co-worker, etc.) is always totally illegal. This is an espionage action and could even be considered harassment.

Only members of the Security Forces and Bodies and investigation professionals can use locator beacons in third-party cars, and only in very specific cases and in order to obtain evidence related to a crime


Install a GPS locator in a company car

Companies and freelancers usually have fleets of vehicles that are necessary to carry out their activity. These are trucks, vans, cars for commercials, etc. In these cases it is understood that the locator pursues a legitimate purpose, which is to protect the vehicle against possible theft, ensure that employees do their job, or obtain data to establish more efficient routes.<

The Workers' Statute itself empowers the employer to adopt the surveillance and control measures that it deems appropriate to verify that its employees comply with their obligations, respecting in all cases the their fundamental rights. Therefore, installing a GPS locator in these cases it is legal, but a series of requirements must be met.


Requirements to install a GPS locator in a company vehicle

  • If the vehicle is owned by the company and used exclusively for work tasks, the employer is obligated to inform the worker that it is equipped with a location system, but does not need his consent to install it, use it, or to treat the data obtained. Consent is not required because in this case it is understood that it is granted when the employment contract is signed.
  • If the vehicle is owned by the company, but the employee is allowed to use it in his personal life, it is mandatory that the worker be informed of the installation of the GPS tracker, but the consent of the worker is not required . Since the employee is informed that his movements are being monitored, it is up to him to use the vehicle in his private sphere or not. However, data protection regulations require that location systems be disabled outside working hours.
  • If the vehicle is owned by the worker and he makes it available to the company, the same requirements apply as in the previous case.
  • In the case of completely private vehicles and also for exclusively private use, the company may not install a GPS locator under any circumstances, even if the employee also uses his car to attend to his work obligations.




Obligation to inform , what happens if it is breached?

The legislation establishes that, in those cases in which locators can be legally installed in vehicles owned or used by third parties, the user of the car must be expressly informed , precise and unambiguous. That is, the driver must be fully aware that his movements are being tracked. </ P>

The jurisprudence is very clear in this regard. Although the use of the device is legal according to the regulationsIn force, if the duty to inform the worker has not been fulfilled, the data obtained will be considered as a violation of the right to privacy . It is something similar to what happens when video surveillance cameras are installed in a workplace.

This implies two things. On the one hand, that the employer is violating the rights of its employees, which can make them responsible for an infraction and lead to the payment of compensation. On the other hand, the evidence obtained through this geolocation will have no legal value as it is considered null and void.

That is, it could happen that an employee is using the company vehicle for private trips when he does not have permission to do so, and that he is fired for this reason. But if the company has not notified you that the car had a GPS locator, the evidence will be void and therefore the dismissal will be declared void. Moreover, the worker could request compensation from the company for having violated his privacy. </ P>


Principles that must be respected when using GPS locators in vehicles

The issue of geolocation within the workplace has given rise to multiple legal proceedings in recent years. Some of them have even reached the Constitutional Court, which has allowed this body to develop criteria that make it possible to determine if the installation of geolocation systems and the use of the data obtained are really legitimate.</ p>

In those cases in which the use of geolocation devices via GPS is legal, it is essential that fundamental rights have been fully respected in their use. For this, it will be necessary to monitor whether the following principles are met:

  • Proportionality: refers to the need for the measure to be balanced and report more benefits for the general interest than harm for the individual. In general terms, it is understood that there is proportionality if GPS tracking is used to ensure that the employee complies with his working day or if what is sought is to analyze different transport routes to find the most efficient ones.
  • Suitability: implies that the locator must be capable of achieving the purpose for which it is being used.
  • Necessity: means that there is no other measure less harmful to the privacy of the person that can achieve the desired purpose.



Spying on individuals with a GPS locator can be expensive

We have already seen that in the case of a company using a GPS locator not following legal requirements and jurisprudential criteria can have important consequences. But things are even more serious if someone in a private capacity decides to use a device of this type to follow the movements of another person, something that has already happened.

At Espiamos we always advocate for the legitimate use of spy devices, but we are aware that not everyone is willing to do so. For this reason, we do not want to end this article without raising awareness about the importance of refraining from spying.

We are going to see two cases in which installing a GPS locator in another person's car has ended up being considered a crime.


Restraining order for using a GPS locator inyour ex-partner's car

In 2017 the Court for Violence against Women in Palma sentenced a man to a four-month fine and a restraining order for having spied on a his ex-wife through a GPS beacon that she discovered in his vehicle.

The convicted person had already carried out different harassing behaviors such as constant calls and sending photos in which the woman could be seen in the company of other people. The victim could not explain how the stalker knew where she was going to be and would show up where she was with friends or family. She finally decided to do a thorough inspection of her vehicle and discovered the GPS locator taped together, which she immediately reported.

The case reached the Violence against Women Court, which understood that there was a situation of harassment and ended up sentencing the defendant.


Prisonment for spying on his ex-wife with a GPS spy beacon

An a case similar to the previous one occurred in Almería, although on this occasion the situation ended with the defendant being sentenced to serve nine months in prison

The person responsible for the crime had a restraining order from his ex-wife, but he managed to install a GPS locator in his car with which he intended to have direct control over her and to know what he was doing and where he was going. Taking advantage of that information to provoke encounters with his ex-partner. </ P>

It was eventually discovered that he had resorted to installing a GPS locator, because there was no other way he could have known where the victim was going to be. This conduct implied a violation of the restraining order, for which a Criminal Court sentenced him to nine months in prison.

In case these examples are not enough to deter anyone who is thinking of installing a GPS locator in another person's car illegally, it is necessary to add that there are different ways of detect a GPS locator, so there is a good chance that the device will end up being discovered, no matter how well hidden it is.


Where to buy GPS trackers for vehicles ?

Now that we have solved all the doubts about the installation of these devices, if you are going to use them legally and for a legitimate purpose, you will be interested to know that in Espiamos we have the most modern GPS locators.

Perfect to install them in your business vehicles and even in your private vehicle if you want to improve security and make sure that you will find it in case it is stolen.

We are at your disposal from Monday to Friday in our physical store in Madrid and every day of the year through our online store of spy articles . We will advise you on everything you need.



Frequently Asked Questionson the Legality of the GPS Locator

1. What does the law say about installing a GPS locator in someone else's vehicle without consent?

Installing a GPS locator in another person's vehicle without their consent is, in most jurisdictions, considered a breach of privacy. Many countries and states consider this an invasion of privacy or even espionage, which can lead to civil and criminal penalties. It is essential that, before making any decision related to the installation of these devices, you inform yourself about the specific laws of your jurisdiction to ensure that you do not engage in illegal activities.


2. Are there legal exceptions for the use of GPS locators in third-party vehicles?

In some cases and jurisdictions, there may be legal exceptions that allow the installation of GPS locators in third-party vehicles. For example, law enforcement, under specific circumstances and with a court order, may be authorized to use these devices for investigative monitoring. On the other hand, employers can install these devices in company vehicles, although it is always advisable to inform employees about it. It is crucial, again, to consult your local legislation to fully understand the exceptions and limitations.


3. If I suspect that someone has installed a GPS tracker in my car, what should I do?

If you suspect that someone has installed a GPS tracker in your car without your consent, the first thing you should do is a sweep. Look in common places like the underside of the car, inside the engine compartment, and other hidden places. If you find a device, don't tamper with it too much; it can be evidence. You should then inform the local authorities about your discovery. They will be able to investigate and, if confirmed to be an illegal installation, take appropriate action against the person responsible. Also, consider consulting with an attorney to understand your rights and possible legal action.


4. What legal consequences could I face if I install a GPS tracker without permission?

Installing a GPS locator in a vehicle without the owner's permission can lead to serious legal consequences. Depending on the jurisdiction, this can be considered an invasion of privacy, eavesdropping, or even stalking. Consequences vary, but in many places, those who commit this act can face civil penalties, fines, and in more serious cases, prison terms. In addition, the affected person may have the right to bring a civil lawsuit seeking damages for the invasion of their privacy.


5. Is the legality different if the vehicle is shared, as in the case of spouses?

The legality of installing a GPS tracker in a shared vehicle may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the relationship between the parties. Even if the vehicle is shared, the privacy of the other individual must still be respected. In the case of spouses, even though one of them may be the owner of the vehicle, installing a tracking device without the knowledge and consent of the other could be considered invasive and potentially illegal. In family or relationship situations, it is always advisable to seek legal advice before taking any action that may invade the privacy of the other party.


6. Can companies install GPS locators in their employees' vehicles?

Businesses often have more leeway to install GPS locators on company-owned vehicles used by their employees, especially for the purpose of tracking company assets or for logistics. However, it is essential that employees are informed of this practice. In personal vehicles of employees, the situation is different. Unless there is a clear agreement and the employee has given consent, installing a tracking device in an employee's personal vehicle may be considered a violation of privacy and subject to legal sanctions. It is always recommended that companies consult legal counsel to ensure they comply with all local regulations.


7. What rights do I have if I discover a GPS locator in myvehicle without my knowledge?

If you discover a spy GPS tracker in your vehicle without your consent, you have several rights. First, you have the right to remove or deactivate the device. You also have the right to report the fact to the relevant authorities, since installation without permission can be considered an invasion of privacy or even a criminal offense in many jurisdictions. Additionally, depending on the situation and local laws, you may have the right to file a civil lawsuit against the person or entity responsible, seeking compensation for damages.


8. How can I tell if my vehicle has a hidden GPS locator?

If you suspect your vehicle has a hidden GPS locator, there are several ways to verify it. You can do a detailed visual inspection of the vehicle, looking for any unusual devices or wiring. Pay particular attention to areas such as the chassis, engine compartment, and area under the vehicle. There are also signal detectors that can help you identify active transmissions from a GPS locator. If you don't feel safe carrying out the search yourself, you can hire a professional or take your vehicle to a specialized workshop to have it checked.


9. If I consent to having a GPS locator, can I withdraw it later?

If you have given your consent to install a GPS tracker in your vehicle, you generally have the right to withdraw that consent at any time, unless there is a contractual agreement to the contrary. If you decide to withdraw your consent, the device must be deactivated or removed. It is important that you clearly communicate your decision to the party who installed the device and, if necessary, retain written evidence of that communication. If the device is not removed upon your request, you may have grounds for legal action.


10. Are there legal differences between a visible GPS locator and a hidden one?

From a legal perspective, the key distinction is often consent and knowledge about the existence of the GPS locator, rather than whether or not the device is visible. However, a visible GPS locator could be considered an implicit notification of your presence, while a hidden device, not being easily identifiable, could raise greater privacy concerns. In many jurisdictions, concealing a locator without the knowledge and consent of the vehicle owner could be considered a violation of privacy or a criminal offence. It is always crucial to check local laws to understand the specifics.


11. Is it legal to use GPS locators to track minors or the elderly?

The use of GPS locators to track minors or the elderly is generally justified for security reasons. In the case of minors, parents or legal guardians usually have the right to use these devices to ensure their well-being. With older people, especially if they have conditions like dementia or Alzheimer's, the use of pagers can be a vital tool in ensuring their safety. However, it is essential to ensure that their dignity and rights are not violated. In all cases, it is essential to be aware of local laws and regulations and always act in the best interest of the person concerned.


12. What legal alternatives exist to track a vehicle without violating privacy?

There are several legal alternatives to tracking a vehicle without infringing on privacy. One of the most common is to obtain the explicit consent of the owner or driver of the vehicle for the installation and use of the GPS locator. Also, for companies looking to monitor fleet vehicles, they are often allowed to do so, as long as they inform employees and they are aware. There are also applications and services that allow location sharing between smartphones with mutual consent, which can be useful in family situations or between friends. In all cases, it is essential to be informed about local laws and to ensure that any tracking is done ethically and legally.


13. What happens if I buy a second-hand vehicle with a GPS tracker already installed?

If you buy a used vehicle and discover aWith a GPS locator installed, the first step is to contact the seller for information about the device. It may have been used for legitimate reasons, such as fleet management or locating theft. If the seller wasn't aware of it, or if you suspect that it might have been used for illegal purposes, it might be wise to disable or remove it. Additionally, it would be prudent to consult with local authorities or an attorney to ensure there are no pending legal issues associated with the device or vehicle.


14. Where can I report the illegal installation of a GPS locator in my vehicle?

If you suspect that someone has installed a GPS tracker in your vehicle without your consent, you should contact your local law enforcement authorities to file a report. Evidence such as the device itself or any follow-up evidence may be required. Additionally, a civil rights or privacy attorney may be able to guide you on any legal action you may take against the person or entity responsible for the illegal installation of the device.


15. What should I consider before installing a GPS locator in any vehicle?

Before installing a GPS locator in any vehicle, you should consider the following points:

  • Consent: Make sure you have the consent of the owner or driver of the vehicle.
  • Legality: Research local laws and regulations regarding the use of GPS locators. Installation without proper knowledge or consent may be illegal in many jurisdictions.
  • Purpose: Clearly define the purpose of the facility, whether it is for security, fleet management, family tracking, etc.
  • Privacy: Consider the privacy rights of the people involved and make sure you don't violate them.
  • Transparency: If it is a company vehicle, inform employees or drivers about the tracker and its purpose.
  • Maintenance: Be aware that devices require maintenance, such as battery changes or software updates.