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Car Hire Company to Track Travellers with GPS Devices


A civil liberties group says, "The installation of GPS tracker in hire cars is an invasion of privacy."

The devices will give the company the ability to track the location of the vehicle in real time as well as be notified by SMS when travelers breach the terms of their rental agreement, such as driving on dirt roads or out of city areas.

Private car hire company DriveMyCar Rentals has announced that it will install the GPS devices in up to 30 per cent of its fleet initially in a bid to ensure that the vehicles are safe.

DriveMyCar Rentals is installing the devices to give “peace of mind to the vehicles owners”.

Daniel Noble, CEO of DriveMyCar Rentals, said “The big issue is trust.”

“The owners want to know that their cars are safe.”

However Civil Liberties Australia (CLA) said the installation of GPS units and the tracking of renters is an “excessive invasion of privacy”.

CLA Director Tim Vines said, “It creates a dangerous situation for the renter.” "When you hire a car you provide photo ID, pay a deposit and hand over your credit card details. Now renters are being told that isn't enough - you have to be tagged and monitored."

The device is the size of a small pack of cards and will be plugged into the car in either the boot or the centre compartment and will send the GPS co-ordinates back to the company.

It will be used in certain conditions if the renter is uncontactable for a period of at least two weeks or if the owner is concerned about the car’s location. However, it will also be used to make sure travelers aren’t breaking the conditions of use by venturing into restricted areas, and they can be penalized for doing so.

Christopher Zinn from consumer advocacy group Choice said the use of the GPS device to fine renters who breach agreements is questionable.

Mr. Zinn said, “It seems excessive to use the GPS devices for people who breach conditions such as not driving on dirt roads.” Mr. Vines said, “If Wikileaks and the hacking of Google's email system have proven anything it's that no digital system is invulnerable and information can be obtained by hacking in or relying on a disgruntled employee."

However, Mr. Noble said that not only does the company use fully encrypted servers but the information is only available in real-time and is not stored for later use.

"We don’t track historic GPS information - we only track real-time, to see where the car is right now.”

"Everything we do is transparent. We use the Australian standard for protection of private information,” Mr. Noble said.

Mr. Noble said that renters will be alerted to the presence of the devices in the website’s terms and conditions as well as the hire car agreement itself and via a sticker on the car’s window.