While GPS technology has created an effective way to track everything from semi trailers to golf balls, this new technology has forced lawmakers to search for the fine line between appropriate use and invasion of privacy. In July, Wisconsin became one of the first states to officially weigh in on the benefits of GPS tracking versus individual rights.
Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers Rep. Adam Neylon and Sen. Jerry Petrowski co-authored a bill making it illegal to attach a GPS device to an individual’s car without that person’s permission. After the bill passed through the Senate and the House of Representatives with some minor revisions, the bill was signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker on July 1.
The bill was originally introduced by Neylon in early 2014. It passed both the full state Assembly and the Senate judiciary committee with unanimous votes, but the session ended in April before it could go in front of the full chamber.
In speaking about the bill, Petrowski referred to the need for the law to catch up to technology, which is the issue driving legislators to address the various ramifications of GPS tracking. He and Neylon were prompted to act based on the increasing availability of GPS devices. With many semi truck fleets now be tracked using GPS Fleet Software this is an issue of growing concern for truckers.
The law was designed to offer a measure of protection for individuals who are subjected to stalking and harassment. In addition to GPS systems, it covers cell phones and any other devices used to surreptitiously track people.
Under the terms of the new law, secretly placing a GPS device on another person’s vehicle constitutes a misdemeanor with punishment up to nine months in jail and $10,000 in fines. Exceptions were created for law enforcement personnel, parents tracking their underage children and businesses monitoring company-owned vehicles. Lien holders attaching devices to vehicles they own are also exempt.
Wisconsin’s new law recognizes the ability to protect fleet vehicles as a legitimate use of GPS devices. With profit savings and the ability to track maintenance and even trailer refrigeration issues, GPS tracking for fleet management is here to stay. For more news for the trucking industry make sure to check back regularly with Trucker to Trucker.