Since the introduction of GPS trackers to the marketplace, court cases and lawsuits addressing the ethical and legal uses of these devices to monitor the movements of others have multiplied. Some of these cases have addressed the legality of law enforcement officials using these devices to track private citizens, while others have been concerned with civilians using them to track their significant others, employees, children, and others. The dialogue about this topic remains ongoing as technology advances and applications for trackers increases.
In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the government and law enforcement agents are not permitted to install GPS devices on a person or property of a person based on suspicion of lawbreaking unless a warrant is obtained first. Federal law has not specifically addressed whether it is legal or illegal for a private citizen to track another person, vehicle, or property, but a number of states have addressed the question. For example, in California, Texas, Virginia, and Minnesota, is it legal to use a GPS tracker on a vehicle as long as the vehicle’s owner has provided consent, while in Wisconsin, for example, a person could face criminal charges for using a GPS tracker on another person’s vehicle without permission. It's important to consult local and state laws, or speak with an attorney for any clarification.