|Criminal Penalties for GPS Tracking: A Case Study on Taiwan High Court Judgment No. 100-Shangyi-Tzi-2407|
|Information Privacy, GPS Tracking, Vehicle Location, Article
315-1 of Criminal Code, Article 24 of Communication
Security and Surveillance Act, Article 41 of Personal Information
Protection Act, Private Evidential Investigation
|Global Position System (GPS) technology has been widely used in daily life.
Both private individuals and government agencies take it as a tool to collect criminal
evidence. In spite of its danger of infringing privacy, previous studies had
rarely analyzed whether using GPS technology for private investigation purpose
would constitute a crime.
In a much-debated judgment by the Taiwan High Court, it held that for the
purpose of investigating an adultery, a husband using GPS to position the location
of his wife’s vehicle only violated Article 315-1 of Criminal Code, but did not violate
Article 24 of Communication Security and Surveillance Act. This opinion has
received a lot of responses and discussions among practitioners. This Article shows
that the judgment has correctly denied the allegation that private conduct can constitute
an unlawful communication surveillance under Communication Security and
Surveillance Act. Noticeably, the judgment considered that the conduct still violates
Article 315-1 of Criminal Code. But this decision unduly expanded the concept of “non-public activities”, which contravenes the principle of Nulla poena sine
lege stricta. The practitioners should also pay attention, in the foreseeable future, to
the effect that GPS tracking and its application in Article 41 of the new Personal
Information Protection Act.