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Victoria Police is hoping a trial that will allow officers to directly track cars via GPS will reduce vehicle thefts across the state, but an expert is warning the system could have significant implications for privacy if it becomes mandatory.

car tracking privacy concerns
Photo: article supplied

The trial, which starts in September, will see 1,000 cars fitted with GPS tracking devices that have the ability to pinpoint vehicles to within a few metres.

Drivers getting their cars serviced at a dealership will be asked if they want to take part in the trial before a GPS tracking device is installed into their vehicle.

Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said drivers would be able to activate the tracking device with a mobile phone.

“Victoria Police, from the command centre, will start tracking it [the stolen car] and then do the intervention, when it is safe to do so,” he said.

Car thefts in Victoria have fallen over the last six months, but nearly 16,000 vehicles were stolen in the past year.

Assistant Commissioner Hill said the tracking devices could help police with other crimes, because many offenders used stolen cars.

“The serious crimes that we see in this state, whether it be drive-by shootings, armed robberies or commercial burglaries, on the large majority of occasions there is always a stolen vehicle involved and that enables the crime,” he said.

Concerns about hacking, data theft

Dr Jake Goldenfein, who researches privacy, surveillance and the law at Swinburne University, said he was sceptical the system would be used only to address vehicle theft.

“Rather than police having to make requests for this data from third parties, this system might deliver geodata directly to police,” he said.

“This could be useful for law enforcement, as geolocation data is excluded from Australia’s mandatory data retention scheme.

This article was originally published by ABC.net.au.

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