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As a general rule, using a car tracker or any other 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.

Each Australian State has it’s own legislation on tracking and surveillance, however, not all States’ legislation has direct reference to GPS Tracking.
Refer to the list of States and excerpts from their respective legislation below.

Is it legal to track someone without their knowledge?

A short answer is “no”.
A longer answer is that it depends on which state you are in and whether there’s specific Surveillance or Privacy legislation in that State. Visit the links below to read the legislation in your State.

GPS tracking laws in Australia

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A common question frequently being asked is “Is GPS tracking company vehicles legal?”.

Tracking the location of your fleet has it’s benefits, however, it carries a certain amount of responsibility and you must comply with regulations of your state to ensure you’re not breaking the law.

StateLegal to track someone
without their knowledge
New South WalesNo
VictoriaNo
Western AustraliaNo
QueenslandNo reference to GPS tracking
TasmaniaNo reference to GPS tracking
South AustraliaNo
ACTNo reference to GPS tracking
Northern TerritoryNo

Here is a list of links to the GPS tracking laws for each state.
The documents below were posted at the date this article was posted and may have changed, refer to your local government for current laws in your state.

StateDocumentEffective Date
New South WalesSurveillance Devices Act 2007 6428/11/2018
VictoriaSurveillance Devices Act 1999 2105/06/2019
Western AustraliaSurveillance Devices Act 1998 5601/07/2015
QueenslandInvasion of Privacy Act 197105/06/2017
TasmaniaListening Devices Act 199105/10/2018
South AustraliaSurveillance Devices Act 201615/11/2018
ACTListening Devices Act 199214/02/2009
Northern TerritorySurveillance Devices Act 200730/11/2018

GPS tracking laws by state

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

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.

Part 2 Section 8 of the Surveillance Devices Act 21 1999 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

Victoria Surveillance Devices Act 1999 No 21

GPS tracking laws in NSW

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.

Part 2 Section 9 of the NSW Surveillance Devices Act 2007 No 64 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.

New South Wales Surveillance Devices Act 2007 No 64

GPS tracking laws in Queensland

In Queensland, according to the Australian Government’s “Overview of Current Law”,
the legislation for the use of “listening, optical, data and tracking surveillance devices” is the “Invasion of Privacy Act 1971.
Parts of the document include; Part 4 Listening devices and Part 4a Invasion of privacy with respect to dwelling houses. The document makes no specific mention of gps tracking devices.

GPS Tracking laws in WA

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.

Western Australia Surveillance Devices Act 1999 No 56

GPS tracking laws in Tasmania

Tasmania has the Listening Devices Act 1991.
This document doesn’t have any specific reference to gps tracking devices.

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 document 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.

South Australia Surveillance Devices Act 2016

GPS tracking laws in ACT

The Australian Capital Territory legislation is the “Listening Devices Act 1992”. There is no mention of gps tracking devices in the legislation at this time.

GPS tracking laws in NT

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.

In 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

Northern Territory Surveillance Devices Act 2007

GPS tracking by Federal Agencies is covered by the federal legislation. More information regarding Federal legislation on at https://www.legislation.gov.au/Series/C2004A01387.

Conclusion

GPS Tracking is a great tool for monitoring the efficiency of your fleet. It allows you to dispatch the nearest staff to service jobs, enforce work place policies, encourage good driver behavior and discourage time wasting activities.

Before you install a car tracker into a vehicle that may be driven by somebody else, make sure you know the law.

It is your responsibility to know the law.
Take the time to read the State and Federal laws in your country.

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