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GPS Monitoring of Company Vehicles Permitted Under PIPA
January 16, 2013

The BC Information and PrivacyCommissioner recently issued a decision on the use of GPS monitoring technologyin company vehicles. The complaint prompting the investigation was made byemployees who used company vehicles for work, but who kept the vehicles at homeand used them to travel to and from work without reporting to the company’soffice. The GPS monitoring technology recorded data about the manner in whichthe vehicle was being driven, including start and shut off times, distancetravelled, speed travelled, and sharpness of acceleration and braking. The GPStechnology was not used to constantly monitor employees, but rather, generatedreports only where the vehicle’s use deviated from accepted norms.

The complaint alleged the GPS data was “personalinformation” subject to the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). Theemployer argued that it was information about the vehicle, not the individualdriver, and was therefore not personal information regulated by PIPA. TheCommissioner rejected the employer’s argument. She found that the GPS data was personalinformation, concluding that personal information is “information that isreasonably capable of identifying a particular individual…and is collected,used or disclosed for a purpose related to that individual”. While the employerwas using the data collected to assess the use of its vehicles, it was alsousing it to manage employee performance.

The Commissioner then considered whetherthe special rules allowing for collection and use of “employee personalinformation” under the PIPA applied. She concluded that they did. Thecollection and use of the data was for a purpose reasonably required toestablish, manage or terminate an employment relationship, and the employeeswere given notice of the collection. In reaching this conclusion, theCommissioner considered the sensitivity of the information, the likelyeffectiveness of the collection in meeting the purpose for collecting it,whether there were alternatives that were less intrusive, and whether thecollection and use would offend the employees’ dignity. Applying these factors,she concluded the collection and use in this case was both reasonable, andauthorized under PIPA.

While the Commissioner stressed thatreasonableness will be determined in the particular circumstances, the testwill more likely be met where employers can establish a legitimate businesspurpose for implementing this type of technology.

ReSchindler Elevator Corporation

If you have any questions concerning theinformation presented in this article, please contact Frances Doyle,Partner.