Can My Boss Tell Where I Am From My Cell Phone?

by Julius Vandersteen

If you are required to carry a cell phone for work, it is possible for your boss to tell where you are, if you use a company-issued cell phone and the boss has enabled cell phone tracking. When you use your own private cell phone, it is under your control, so your boss won't be able to track you. However, your company may mandate that you use a cell phone with tracking capability and forbid you from disabling it during work hours.

Why Surveillance?

Your boss may have had workers out in the field who claimed that they were working during company time, but in fact were avoiding work by spending time at a bar, for example, or at a movie theater. If your boss is now suspicious of employees being truthful about their whereabouts, he might want to keep electronic watch over them. Cell phone tracking also helps a company with logistics, such as by knowing how close delivery people are to their drop-off locations, and whom it would be most efficient to deploy to the next pickup site.

GPS

A cell phone with GPS capability determines your location with signals from Global Positioning Systems satellites, which can help you with map-based navigation, or finding a nearby business. Your boss can also tell where you are if your cell phone is running an application that transmits your GPS-determined location to a website. Your most recent location will appear on a map that your boss can view on a computer screen, along with a history of places you've been.

Triangulation From Towers

Cell phones keep in touch with cell phone towers everywhere you go, to ensure they have a strong connection to the cellular network as you move from one location to another. The accuracy will depend in part on how many cell phone towers there are in a given area. Your boss may issue you a cell phone with an application that uses triangulation from cell phone towers to get an idea of your location, even without GPS data.

You Might Want Surveillance

While you may dislike the idea that your boss can tell where you are from your cell phone, out of concern for your privacy or a sense that you are not trusted, there may be situations where you would welcome surveillance. For example, if your work takes you to dangerous locations, such as a crime-ridden neighborhood, a war zone, or the scene of a natural disaster, your boss could help search and rescue workers find you in case there is a problem.

About the Author

Julius Vandersteen has been a freelance writer since 1999. His work has appeared in “The Los Angeles Times,” “Wired” and “S.F. Weekly.” Vandersteen has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from San Francisco State University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images