Boyfriends are using it to stalk their girlfriends, employers are using it to track their employees and parents are using it to control their kids. But, is it legal? The cell phone GPS surveillance industry is exploding. In the next few years it is expected to be a 20 billion dollar a year industry.
For a relatively small fee you can contact a cell phone provider and turn a portable phone into a surveillance and tracking device. But in most countries surveillance of an individual without their explicit consent is against the law. Whether it be monitoring whom you call, the contents of the conversation or your location it is a violation of privacy laws in just about all civilized countries around the world. You either need a law court’s permission or that person’s documented consent to use a cell phone GPS surveillance device to monitor them. Unfortunately the new technology is being used illegally far to often.
A terrifying example of abuse of cell phone GPS surveillance occurred recently in Oregon in the USA. A wife divorced her husband because he was trying to control everything she did. This type of situation is not unusual. Often the ex-husband will continue to stalk and try to control his ex-wife long after the divorce. In this case everywhere she went he would follow. There was nothing she could do to shake him off night or day. She was justifiably afraid he would kill her. If you look through the history of murders this situation often ends up being the motive. An excessively controlling man feels that he is losing his wife or ex-wife and in a fit of rage murders her as the ultimate act of control. She complained to the police but there was not much they could do. After several months of this going on the police checked her vehicle and found a cell phone behind the dashboard. The ex-husband had purchased a cell phone with GPS surveillance, hooked it up so that it’s battery was charged by the car’s battery and set the cell phone to silent answer. At any time he could call the cell phone and unless she was out for a long walk he would know exactly where she was and could even listen in on conversations going on in the car.
Unfortunately, your own cell phone can be used against you in a similar fashion if you are not careful. All it takes is for someone else to get a hold of your portable phone for about 5 minutes without you knowing about it. They can go on the Internet, register your phone with a cell phone GPS surveillance service and pay for it with their own credit card. All of this can happen without you knowing about it. The service will send several messages to your phone right away notifying you that you are being tracked but if the person erases those messages you will never know they set up GPS surveillance on you.
This GPS surveillance technology is not just for cell phones. It is showing up in a variety of portable electronic devices. It appears that watches will be the next big item to integrate GPS surveillance and tracking. Even today you can buy any of a dozen or more Timex watches that have integrated GPS tracking and surveillance. But along with this incredible micro technology goes a huge legal problem. Currently the software for these GPS surveillance devices does not contain significant safeguards against legal and privacy abuses but hopefully that will change before things get out of control.