Data Protection Agency probes Civil Guard after GPS tracking complaint

Union claims that system was used to track employees without their knowledge.

The Spanish Data Protection Agency has opened an investigation into the Civil Guard after it emerged that the force has been using the GPS systems in its patrol cars to keep tabs on its officers.

The case stems from a complaint made by the Civil Guard's main union, the AUGC, after a disciplinary investigation was opened against an officer. The complaint was based on location data taken from the GPS system in his vehicle.

The union argued that making such use of the GPS system to monitor employees, and storing that data, is illegal. The Data Protection Agency carried out an inspection and subsequently decided that it would open an investigation for a light infraction, given that, in its opinion, civil guards should be informed of this practice in advance.

But the Civil Guard is arguing that future officers are given ample information during their training about the proper use of all of the material and apparatus they are required to use, including the GPS systems. What's more, they say that all officers have information about the file where GPS data is stored - i.e. they know full well that their movements are recorded.

This is not the first investigation into the labor practices of the Civil Guard, which is responsible in Spain for patrolling highways, borders and the coast. In 2006, Spain was found by the European Court of Justice to have failed to adapt to health and safety legislation. In 2010, the same court ruled that it had not adapted its working conditions to European directives.

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