According to AP, Reuters and all those other super-informed organizations, the Wisconsin Assembly has passed a bill to make GPS tracking without consent of the individual a Class A misdemeanor. The bill was introduced earlier this week and is now headed to the Senate for approval. The bill was actually drafted and passed during last year’s session in the Assembly, but the Senate was unable to vote before the session ended.
The way the bill is written, there are several exceptions to the rule. You can take a look at the bill here. Police officers are not subject to this law (although they have their own laws governing when they can and cannot use GPS) and neither are business owners tracking their personal property, parents tracking minor children or wards, and lienholders tracking vehicles for the purpose of repossession. If the bill passes, anyone convicted of using a GPS illegally will be charged with up to nine months in jail and $10,000 in fines.
I don’t believe that there is a federal precedent for civilian use of GPS, but law enforcement is regulated. However, several other states including New York, Colorado and California, to name few, have already enacted similar laws about GPS. I expect that more states will follow.