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February 10, 2022 8 min read

GPS Tracking laws Australia

You may know the benefits of a GPS tracking systems, but are you across vehicle tracking laws in Western Australia or Other States.

With advancements in GPS tracking technology and reduction in costs, businesses are increasingly looking at tracking companie vehicle and employee movements. This is not only for productivity gains but for employee safety, asset security and improved customer service.

Problems arise with GPS tracking when the topics of employee privacy and surveillance are discussed. Australia’s patchy surveillance legislation is leaving many employers scratching their heads on the legality of using GPS vehicle tracking. Confusion also abounds when employers compare their obligations for occupational / workplace safety (specifically the duty of care requirements) with the surveillance laws. They just don’t seem to be on the same page.

Did you know that surveillance laws in Australia are state based, not federal? This lack of uniformity across the states in relation to GPS vehicle tracking laws allows for many inconsistencies. For example, the types of surveillance devices regulated, the offences, exceptions and possible legal ramifications. This leads to the assumption by many people that GPS tracking is unlawful. As you will see, this is not the case if you implement GPS tracking correctly.

Express consent can be obtained where the employee is notified about the use of a tracking device and they accept the decision and its implications. This could be in an employee contract or via a new policy implementation.

Implied consent can include passive acceptance. The employee is notified about the use of a tracking device but may not specifically provide acceptance. A vehicle which has a label explaining that it is being tracked may satisfy the requirements of implied consent if the employee then uses the vehicle.

As a general rule, using car trackers or battery tracking devices to track the location of employees or the vehicle they are driving is legal in Australian as long as you notify the employee or the person using the tracked equipment that the equipment’s location is being tracked.


GPS Tracking laws by state.

In Australia, each State has their own Surveillance legislation. Below is a list of each States legislation relating to “gps trackers”. This is provided as a guide only you assume responsibility for knowing the law in your State.

Provided employees with proper education on how GPS tracking can benefit both your business and their safety, asking for their consent to install the device should not be a hurdle. If you have operations in multiple states, ensure that you understand the requirements of the legislation governing each state.


GPS Tracking laws in Western Australia

In Western Australia, it is an offence to install a tracking device to track someone without their express or implied consent. The maximum penalty for an individual is a $5,000 fine and/or 12 months imprisonment.

In Western Australia, the Surveillance Devices Act 1998  No 56 Part 2 Section 7 states.

7. Regulation of use, installation and maintenance of tracking devices (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), a person shall not attach, install, use, or maintain, or cause to be attached, installed, used, or maintained, a tracking device to determine the geographical location of a person or object without the express or implied consent of that person or, in the case of a device used or intended to be used to determine the location of an object, without the express or implied consent of the person in possession or having control of that object.

Penalty:
(a) for an individual: $5 000 or imprisonment for 12 months, or both;
(b) for a body corporate: $50 000.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to
(a) the attachment, installation or maintenance by a law enforcement officer of a tracking device on a vehicle that is situated in a public place nor the use of a tracking device that has been so attached or installed where the attachment, installation, maintenance, or use is carried out by a person in the course of that person’s duty as a law enforcement officer;
(b) the attachment, installation, use, or maintenance of a tracking device in accordance with a warrant issued under Part 4;
(c) the attachment, installation, use, or maintenance of a tracking device in accordance with an emergency authorisation granted under Part 4;
(d) the attachment, installation, use or maintenance of a tracking device in prescribed circumstances; or
(e) the attachment, installation, use, or maintenance of a tracking device in accordance with a law of the Commonwealth.3)
Subsection (1) does not apply to the use of a tracking device by a person in the course of that person’s duty as a law enforcement officer where the device has not been attached or installed or caused to be attached or installed by that person or by a person acting on behalf of that person. 


GPS Tracking laws in South Australia

In South Australia, it is an offence to install a tracking device to track someone without their express or implied consent. The maximum penalty for an individual is a $15,000 fine and/or 3 years imprisonment.

The South Australian Surveillance Devices Act 2016 Part 2, Section 7 states.

7. Tracking devices
(1) Subject to this section, a person must not knowingly install, use or maintain a tracking device to determine the geographical location of—
(a)a person without the express or implied consent of that person; or
(b)a vehicle or thing without the express or implied consent of the owner, or a person in lawful possession or lawful control, of that vehicle or thing.

Maximum penalty:

(a) in the case of a body corporate—$75 000;
(b) in the case of a natural person—$15 000 or imprisonment for 3 years.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply—
(a) to the installation, use or maintenance of a tracking device if—
(i) the installation, use or maintenance of the device is authorised under this Act or any other Act or a corresponding law; or
(ii) the installation, use or maintenance of the device is authorised under a law of the Commonwealth; or
(iii) the device is installed, used or maintained for the purposes of an approved undercover operation under Part 2 of the Criminal Investigation (Covert Operations) Act 2009 by, or on behalf of, a person who is an authorised participant in the approved undercover operation; or
(b) to the use of a tracking device solely for the purpose of the location and retrieval of the device; or
(c) to the installation, use or maintenance of a tracking device in prescribed circumstances.


GPS tracking laws in Victoria

In Victoria, it is an offence to install a tracking device to track someone without their express or implied consent. The maximum penalty for an individual is a fine and/or 2 years imprisonment.

The Victorian Surveillance Devices Act 1999 No 21 Part 2 Section 8 states

8. Regulation of installation, use and maintenance of tracking devices
(1) Subject to subsection (2), a person must not knowingly install, use or maintain a tracking device to determine the geographical location of a person or an object.
(a) in the case of a device to determine the location of a person, without the express or implied consent of that person; or
(b) in the case of a device to determine the location of an object, without the express or implied consent of a person in lawful possession or having lawful control of that object.

Penalty: In the case of a natural person, level 7 imprisonment (2 years maximum) or a level 7 fine (240 penalty units maximum) or both; In the case of a body corporate, 1200 penalty units.
Note: Section 32A applies to an offence against this subsection.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to—
(a) the installation, use or maintenance of a tracking device in accordance with a warrant, emergency authorisation, corresponding warrant or corresponding emergency authorisation; or
(aa) the installation, use or maintenance of a tracking device in accordance with an order made under the Serious Offenders Act 2018; or
(ab) the installation, use or maintenance of a tracking device in accordance with a parole order under the Corrections Act 1986; or
(ac) the installation, use or maintenance of an electronic monitoring device in accordance with a community correction order under the Sentencing Act 1991; or
(ad) the installation, use or maintenance of a tracking device in accordance with an order of the Governor of a prison under section 30 of the Corrections Act 1986; or
(b) the installation, use or maintenance of a tracking device in accordance with a law of the Commonwealth


GPS tracking laws in New South Wales

In New South Wales, it is an offence to install a tracking device to track someone without their express or implied consent. The maximum penalty for an individual is a fine and/or 5 years imprisonment.

The NSW Surveillance Devices Act 2007 No 64  Part 2 Section 9 states.

9. Prohibition on installation, use and maintenance of tracking devices
(1) A person must not knowingly install, use or maintain a tracking device to determine the geographical location of:
(a) a person—without the express or implied consent of that person, or
(b) an object—without the express or implied consent of a person in lawful possession or having lawful control of that object.

Maximum penalty: 500 penalty units

(in the case of a corporation) or 100 penalty units or 5 years imprisonment, or both (in any other case).
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to the following:
(a) the installation, use or maintenance of a tracking device in accordance with a warrant, emergency authorisation, corresponding warrant or corresponding emergency authorisation,
(b) the installation, use or maintenance of a tracking device in accordance with a law of the Commonwealth,
(c) the installation, use or maintenance of a tracking device for a lawful purpose.


GPS tracking laws in Queensland

In Queensland, there isn’t actually any legislation to prevent the tracking of vehicles. That being said, it’s always good practice to keep your employees in the loop, as it builds trust and mutual respect.


GPS Tracking laws in Australian Capital Territory

The ACT “Workplace Privacy Act 2011 - Sect 17

Additional requirements for tracking devices.
(1) An employer may only conduct surveillance of a worker that involves the tracking of a vehicle or other thing using a tracking device if there is a notice clearly visible on the vehicle or other thing stating that the vehicle or thing is being tracked.
(2) However, subsection (1) does not apply if—
(a) it is not reasonably practicable to have a notice on the vehicle or other thing; and
(b) the employer has taken reasonable steps to notify workers that the vehicle or other thing is being tracked

Offences Failure to comply with notified surveillance requirements - Sect 18

(4) An employer commits an offence if the employer 
(a) conducts surveillance of a worker using a tracking device; and
(b) fails to comply with a requirement under section 17 in relation to the surveillance.
Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.


GPS Tracking laws in Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, it is an offence to install a tracking device to track someone without their express or implied consent. The maximum penalty for an individual 2 years imprisonment.

The Northern Territory, Surveillance Devices Act 2007 Part 2 states.

13. Installation, use and maintenance of tracking devices
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if the person:
(a) installs, uses or maintains a tracking device to determine the geographical location of a person or thing; and
(b) knows the device is installed, used or maintained without the express or implied consent of:
(i) for a device to determine the location of a person – the person; or
(ii) for a device to determine the location of a thing – a person in lawful possession or having lawful control of the thing.

Maximum penalty: 250 penalty units or imprisonment for 2 years.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to the installation, use or maintenance of a tracking device:
(a) under a warrant, emergency authorisation, corresponding warrant or corresponding emergency authorisation; or
(b) under a law of the Commonwealth; or
(c) if the device is installed by a law enforcement officer or an ICAC officer in the performance of the officer’s duty on a thing when the thing is in a public place; or
(d) if the device is installed, used or maintained in prescribed circumstances


GPS Tracking laws in Tasmania

There currently isn’t any legislation regarding tracking vehicles in Tasmania. It’s always good practice to keep your employees in the loop, honesty is the best policy!


This post contains general information about GPS vehicle tracking laws in Australia. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. You must not rely on the information in this post as an alternative to legal advice from your attorney or other professional legal services provider.

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