Global Positioning Systems (“GPS”) are available in most electronic hand-held devices, such as cell phones, laptops, iPads and tablets. There are also devices specifically geared to tracking the location of individuals. These devices have been used in the last 10 years to track and locate a spouse whom is believed to be having an affair, or used to track where a parent is taking his or her children. It is common today for private investigators to use GPS or other electronic devices to obtain location information while in the course of their investigations.
Effective July 1, 2015, the use of electronic devices to obtain location information is now significantly restricted in the State of New Hampshire. The Legislature recently enacted a Statute which prohibits using “an electronic device on the person or property of another and obtain location information from such electronic device”. The Statute does not prohibit parents, foster parents, or legal guardians of a minor from using electronic devices to obtain location information for his or her child. The Statute appears to not prohibit use of an electronic device to obtain location information on a vehicle that is owned by the person who installs or places the electronic device on his/her own vehicle. However, there is an open question as to whether one of the joint owners of the vehicle may place such a device to track the location of the other joint owner. Similarly, there is an open question as to when there is a joint or family cell phone plan, whether the named account holder may track the location of an authorized user on the plan through a cell phone under the plan.
Before using an electronic device to track the location of a loved one to determine whether there is an affair or if she/he is engaging in other activities such as gambling, using drugs, or drinking alcohol, one should consult with an attorney to ensure compliance with the law. Violation of this Statute may result in criminal penalties in certain instances as well as civil liability for money damages and/or an injunction by the person who is injured as a result of the violation of this Statute.
If you have any questions regarding this Statute, please contact an attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss.
Kevin P. Rauseo is a former director at Hamblett & Kerrigan P.A. and has since been appointed as a Justice for the New Hampshire Circuit Court. Please feel free to contact another attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss your legal issues.