TechGuard Blog

Geo-Tracking Employees: Worth the Risk?

Depending on which perspective you are viewing from, might determine whether you support the idea of geo-tracking employees' locations. Controversy over whether this type of tracking arises when considering privacy rights. If employers can video record what's taking place on the job site, then it only seems appropriate that they can also track where their company cars are going, where their phones are being used, and more. Doesn't a company have the right to watch what is happening and where it's taking place when it comes to company owned items during company paid time? Location tracking of employees can increase the security for the employer's organization.

Let's say rumor has it that a certain employee takes the company truck to the bar every night after work. The behavior of the employee could pose a serious risk to the company. Employers should know where their property is and how it is being used. Enabling geo-tracking may help recover a lost company issued cell phone. If rental car companies can turn on location tracking then they can easily recover lost a lost vehicle. Another added benefit may be a sense of protection by employees knowing that their company knows their whereabouts in case of an emergency.

Benefits of Geo-Tracking Employees

  • Management visibility of staff's compliance with company policies
  • Ability to monitor unauthorized access to company owned property
  • Location tracking provides real-time incident management
  • Employees are more inclined to comply with policies

Risks of Geo-Tracking Employees

  • Employees' loss of privacy
  • Subject to lawsuits if employers fail to follow the privacy laws
  • Increased risk for third parties to extract private company details
  • Exposing private information such as mergers, research breakthroughs, or acquisitions

Another debate to consider is when does the geo-tracking stop? There are lawsuits claiming that Google still tracked iPhone and Android device users even after the user turned off the "location history" setting. The person filing the lawsuit is trying to claim class action status stating that this tracking violated federal law according to the Federal Trade Commission and violated the California Invasion of Privacy Act. Another thought to consider is when employees work beyond the typical 8 hour work day. In today's work world, many are taking client phone calls 24/7. Should the employee feel "watched" 24/7? There's great debate over where to draw the line.

Also, have you heard the story about when Strava (a fitness tracking app) shared a heat map showing the activities of it's users? They accidentally revealed the location of top-secret military bases from around the world. This type of information sharing from geo-tracking could make organizations more vulnerable to hackers. The more information that is tracked will increase the risk for that information to be hacked in some form.

Geo-Tracking Made more Secure

Although technology can improve our lives, companies need to weigh both the benefits and the risks when tracking employees. If your company decides to go ahead and do it, then use best practices. Know the laws per nation and per state in regards to privacy and GPS employee tracking limitations. Only monitor to an extent that can be justified and limit the installation of tracking devices to company owned items. Mandate signed contracts to inform employees of when and how they will be tracked. Globally, there are companies successfully using geo-tracking without violating laws. TechGuard can help review your policies to ensure that your organization is considering additional security measures as well.