The Act which addresses civilian surveillance activities is the Invasion of Privacy Act 1971 (Qld) which only covers Listening Devices. There is no legislation covering optical, tracking or data surveillance. There are a number of cases dealing with relevant sections of the Act, but none provide any assistance of importance to this study.

 

Listening Devices

Section 43 of the Invasion of Privacy Act 1971 (Qld) prohibits the use of a listening device to monitor or record a private conversation. The relevant exception listed in sub-section 2 is where the user is a party to the conversation. A breach of this provision is an offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to two years.

 

Sub-section 2 provides exceptions including:

  • where the person is a party to the conversation

  • unintentional overhearing by means of a telephone

It is notable that where a person is a party to the conversation, they do not need the other parties’ consent.

 

Party

The definition of the word party is given in Section 42. A party is defined as any person who speaks or is spoken to in the conversation, or a person who with the consent of the people who are speaking or being spoken to, listens to or records the conversation. Consent can be implied by conduct under the circumstances.

 

Private Conversation

The meaning of ‘private conversation’ is defined in s 4 as any words spoken by one person to another in circumstances indicating that they intend it to be private. The definition includes situations where a third party is implicitly brought into confidence. This would include where others are present whose knowledge of the conversation is acceptable to the parties. It excludes, however, situations where the parties ought reasonably expect the conversation to be overheard by some other person....

 

ORDER FOR FULL TEXT.

 

 

Publication and Communication

Section 44 provides that it is unlawful for a party to a private conversation to publicise or communicate a record of that conversation. A breach of this provision is an offence punishable by a fine or up to two years’ imprisonment. A breach of this section is an offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to two years.

 

Subsection 2 lists exceptions including where the publication or communication is made:

  • in the course of legal proceedings, or

  • is not more than reasonably necessary:

  • in the public interest

iii)   for the protection of the lawful interests of that person

 

The meanings of lawful interest, public interest and reasonable necessity are dealt with under their own headings under Confluent Issues above. It is likely that ‘in the course of legal proceedings’ is relevant where a legal process that has already been lodged, leading to a court hearing or similar procedure, and not where such is only under contemplation.

 

Section 45 provides that it is unlawful for a party to a private conversation to communicate, or publish a record or report of a private conversation that has been made as a direct or indirect result of the use of a listening device. A breach of this provision is an offence punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment or a fine.

...

 

ORDER FOR FULL TEXT.

 

 

Optical Devices

There is no regulation of Optical Devices in Queensland.

 

Tracking Devices

There is no regulation of tracking devices in Queensland.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] WK v The Queen [2011] VSCA 345.

Surveillance Devices Law

Queensland

Written by Andrew Pingree. All copyright, 2014-2016 vests in Civilaco Pty Ltd.

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