The current technology used in modern mobiles has made it easier than ever to find your lost phone. These same features can also be used to track the whereabouts of others provided you know the mobile’s number. So what are the legal issues regarding tracking mobiles?
It could be that you wish to keep an eye on your teenager’s location or make sure that an elderly relative is okay. If you have concerns about the secret activities of a spouse or employee just where do you stand on tracking a mobile phone?
The process itself is simple enough and all you will need is to sign up with a mobile phone tracking service provider but what exactly are your legal requirements? The hacking, deleting and tracking of mobile phones has recently hit the headlines with a number of people finding themselves foul of the law and a major newspaper closing down, all over the misuse of mobile phones.
The law, which covers the tracking of mobile phones, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), says that you cannot put a trace on a phone without the owner knowing of its existence. The police though can request that a trace be put on a mobile phone providing certain criteria have been met before. This is to prevent abuse of the system and ensure accountability.
It is, however, acknowledged that there is poor compliance with the law and abuses do occur. Mobile phone tracking service providers attempt to prevent such abuses by sending a text to the mobile phone for which a track has been requested to notify the owner that it is being followed. While this measure tries to ensure against wrongful tracking of a mobile this attempted security measure is still open to exploitation.
If the person requesting a secret mobile track obtains the phone for five minutes while the text message confirming the trace is sent and then deletes the message there is no record of the phone being compromised. When a ping is sent out to discover the location, it is a silent signal, leaving no obvious record of its existence being left. The owner is therefore left oblivious as to the fact they are being secretly tracked.
While the employment of mobile tracking has many practical uses, there also needs to be care taken when placing a track on a phone. If the owner is unaware then you are placing yourself in legal difficulties should it be discovered.