With the growth of developments in technology, one of the benefits is the ability to use location tracking on mobile devices. This has replaced standard GPS usage and allows one to utilise their phone or laptop as a navigation system. However, the use of location services has also raised concerns regarding the ability of others to be able to track persons utilising such location services (also referred to as “passive location services”).

Why Entities Want to Track Your Location

The use of location services has become a popular method for marketing agencies to target an identified demographic specifically. For example, with your location services on, you may find that the Facebook ads which are being targeted to you, are all for products or services in your close surrounding area. This allows marketing agencies to increase their success rate in targeted advertising.

The concern which is raised, however, is whether this is a form of invasion of privacy, particularly when you have not consented to your location being processed or seen by these third parties.

Industry Codes of Practice

In 2004, the mobile phone industry developed and released industry Codes of Practice, specifically relating to the use of passive location services.These codes set out the industry best practice concerning the use of location services, for children, adults, gaming and corporate location services. The codes also specifically deal with the obtaining of consent.

Children, Adults and Consent

A location service provider (LSP) must be able to establish the age of the locatee to determine whether parental or guardian consent is required. Child location services enable a parent or guardian to track the location of the child, which many parents like to activate for security reasons. Location services may not be used to market to a child. If the locate is an adult, consent is required by the locatee from the device to be located. There must always be the option to opt-out of or stop the service.


Location services are often used to enhance the features of mobile games. Where location services are used for multi-player games, the geographical location of the user forms part of the game, or where the game allows for an unmoderated chat between players, the game must verify that all players are over the age of 18. The location is only to be used for the duration of the game, or while the game is in use.