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UK vehicle tracking laws, privacy policies and data protection

Whether by camera or cookie, our behaviour is monitored more today than ever before. Handling employees’ personal data correctly is vital, and that includes information about their journeys


There are 500,000 CCTV cameras in London. In fact, the average Londoner is caught on camera over 300 times every single day.

Whether it’s via a camera on a building, or a cookie on a browser, people’s behaviour is being constantly monitored. And frankly, they don’t always like it.

GDPR, the legislation that has replaces the Data Protection Act of 1998, came into force on 25th May 2018. It tightened the rules on how companies can use a person’s data.

Vehicle tracking offers clear benefits, but it’s vital to know what you can and can’t do when it comes to tracking employee behaviour. Let’s take a look at the key vehicle tracking laws you should be aware of:


What's on this page


Vehicle tracking laws: what's legal, and what's not?

Vehicle tracking laws are very strict. You can’t go far wrong if you remember these two rules:

  • Employees must know if and when they are being tracked
  • You can’t monitor employees outside of their working hours

If you're ever in doubt, it’s worth getting the advice of your vehicle tracking supplier, or in-house counsel or HR department.

Let’s take a look at the following scenarios:

Tracking activityLegalIllegalAdditional info
Tracking business vehicles with employee consentVehicles that are company property may be tracked for the benefit of the company
Tracking business vehicles that are also used privatelyThe tracker must have a privacy button or other option to ensure privacy outside of business hours
Tracking business vehicles without the knowledge of the employeeEmployees must know of and consent to the vehicle being tracked
Covert TrackingYou can use a covert tracker to track the vehicle, but the employee must be aware of this

Legally tracking business vehicles

Tracking business vehicles (with the consent of the employees driving them) is not only legal, it makes complete business sense. Telematics tracking can monitor the quality of driving, fuel consumption, and can map out the fastest route for your drivers. It makes a business more agile, more efficient, more organised - and it can lower your insurance premium, too.

Sometimes, employers are actually legally required to track their vehicles to ensure employees aren’t driving over their daily time limit. For example, lorries should have a tachograph fitted.


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Legally tracking business vehicles that are used privately

Say your employee has a company car that they are also allowed to use as their personal car. You want to be able to track them during the working day, but not when they’re on their own time. So what can you do?

The solution is simple: a privacy button. This allows the employee to go into privacy mode whenever their agreement allows them, and enjoy the peace of mind of being ‘off-grid’. Kind of like James Bond’s invisible Aston Martin, but not quite as cool.

Here are some vehicle trackers that have privacy buttons:

SupplierButton locationInfo hiddenInfo shown
Masternautdashboard• location
• speed
• journey times
• journey duration
Road Angeldashboard• location• mileage
• date
• time
Navmandashboard• location
• journey information
• mileage
Tracker UKdashboardn/an/a

If your vehicle tracker doesn’t have this setting, you’ll have to disable the tracker from the manager side. The driver must be confident that they have privacy when they are entitled to it.


In this short video, David Ryman from Fleetmatics discusses the use of privacy buttons, and how society’s attitude to ‘privacy’ is shifting


Can I track business vehicles without the knowledge of my employees?

Nope! Never! Don’t do it!

Tracking business vehicles without the knowledge of the drivers is illegal. The data collected with a vehicle tracker counts as private data, and GDPR legislation (and the Data Protection Act prior to that) means that this can’t be collected and used without permission.

Introduce it with the right approach and employees shouldn’t have a problem with having their vehicles tracked. After all, it helps keep them safe, too.


Covert tracking

Covert trackers attach to the underside of the vehicle, so are not obvious to anyone driving it. They’re mainly used as a security measure, the logic being that a potential thief won’t be able to spot and disable it.

Covert trackers won’t be obvious to your employees. That’s why it’s especially important to let them know that it’s there, and get their approval before they start driving.


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GDPR and vehicle tracking: what's changed?

The short answer? Not a lot.

The rules around tracking vehicles and storing this data were already fairly strict under the Data Protection Act 1998, so not a lot has changed now.

That said, it’s always best to seek advice from your supplier or in-house legal counsel/HR department if you have any specific questions or concerns. It really is more important than ever to get this stuff spot on.


Next steps: what vehicle tracker should I get?

Now you’re completely clued up on vehicle tracking laws, it’s time to choose the right model for the job. Check out our research into the top five vehicle tracking suppliers, or read our guide to how much trackers are likely to cost.

Short on time? Fill out this form now with a few details about your business needs, and Expert Market will get you up to four tailored quotes from top suppliers.