The law governing the use of surveillance devices mostly is contained in State and Territory Acts, which bear both significant similarities and divergences. They cover optical, listening, and tracking devices. Some jurisdictions also address data surveillance. While the general thrust of the legislation is quite well known, the details are seldom commented on, and the cases have not been given the critical analysis they deserve. In addition to this, the equitable duty of confidentiality protects information from being publicised inappropriately, whether given trustingly or gathered covertly, and a Federal statute outlaws the interception of network communications. The latter is treated by some as a blanket rule preventing the recording of telephone conversations without consent, but in fact its application is much narrower than that.
This chapter commences with the Federal telecommunications statute in the light of court rulings. Following that is a comparative study of State and Territory laws with critical analysis of judicial findings and of the statutes themselves. Areas of cross-jurisdictional similarity are identified first, and then individual jurisdictions’ statutes are addressed in alphabetical order. The long-established equitable duty of confidentiality is then examined.