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Automatic location reporting a matter for internal policy

Should workers have to turn on Geographic Information Systems on their phones?

What is the law on compelling workers to have GIS (Geographic Information System) turned on in their phones?

The question has been sparked by Auckland-based GeOP, which is launching a job-costing product that enables automatic reporting of a worker's location via the GPS in their mobile devices.

A spokesperson for the Privacy Commissioner's office, Annabel Fordham, refers Computerworld to guidance notes in the office's publication, Privacy at Work, which presents it as largely a matter of employment policies within individual companies.

"Businesses that run a fleet of vehicles may find GPS a useful tool to manage their fleets more efficiently," says the guide. "However, since GPS involves monitoring where a driver is, it is important that the employer should have good policies to govern it. For example, what happens out of work hours? Any information relating to that non-work time will need to be handled very differently from the information gathered while the person is on the job."

All information gathering and use will naturally have to take place within the terms of the Privacy Act, Fordham says.

"The Privacy Act principles are applicable. For instance, the collection of information must be necessary for a lawful purpose; there is a general requirement to be transparent about what information is being collected [and] it must not be collected in an unfair way."

The GPS data collection facility in the GeoOP application is optional and can be turned off.

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