Nearly all modern mobile devices now come equipped with a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) chip. This location-tracking feature has many advantages, including locating a stolen device. This feature has created a new trend of vigilante, do-it-yourself style justice in which victims of phone theft are tracking down their stolen phones. However, it is important to consider the possible dangers and legal ramifications if you decide to take the law into your own hands.
Vigilantes Put Themselves and Others at Risk
Law enforcement does not recommend tracking a cellular device right to the alleged thief. Police have noted the dangers of taking the law into your own hands and recommend turning over any information to your local police station rather than getting yourself into a potentially violent and dangerous situation
GPS Tracking Infringes on Privacy
Although privacy rights will continue to evolve as technology becomes more prevalent, in most cases, using GPS to track another person is a violation of that individual’s privacy. Unfortunately, tracking a missing device might not lead to the thief, who could have sold or passed the phone to someone else. Though you may be tracking your device, you are also simultaneously infringing on another person’s right to privacy. While intruding on someone’s privacy is not a criminal offense, you can still be held liable in civil court by the very person who obtained your phone.
Recently, Florida’s laws changed regarding GPS tracking devices. It is now a misdemeanor to use tracking devices without the consent of the person being tracked. There are certain exceptions including parental tracking, elderly monitoring and law enforcement use with a warrant. Currently, there are no special exemptions on tracking a personal device. Anti-theft software, including those provided by Apple and Android, remains in a grey area.
Contact the Khonsari Law Group for Legal Counsel
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, the Khonsari Law Group is dedicated to providing you with the personalized legal advice you deserve. You can request a free consultation online or call us at (727) 269-5300 to ensure your rights are protected.