What is illegal surveillance in Australia?

Illegal surveillance in Australia is a serious issue that has been receiving increased attention in recent years. There have been a number of high-profile cases of illegal surveillance, including the 2013 Australian Federal Police raids on the media organization Fairfax Media.

Illegal surveillance can take many forms, including the interception of communications, the tracking of communications, and the use of covert cameras or listening devices. It is a criminal offence to engage in illegal surveillance in Australia, and penalties can include imprisonment.

The issue of illegal surveillance is complex, and there are a number of different stakeholders with a vested interest in ensuring that it does not occur. These include law enforcement agencies, the media, and members of the public.

Illegal surveillance in Australia is the interception of communications without the consent of the parties involved. This includes both listening in on conversations and monitoring electronic communications such as email and text messages. It also covers the tracking of movements through the use of GPS devices or mobile phone tracking. Illegal surveillance is a criminal offence in Australia and can attract heavy penalties.

What is illegal surveillance in Australia?


Illegal surveillance in Australia refers to the interception of communications without the consent of the parties involved. This can include phone tapping, bugging devices, and tracking devices. It is a criminal offence under the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 to carry out illegal surveillance in Australia.

The history of illegal surveillance in Australia

The history of illegal surveillance in Australia is a long and complicated one. It dates back to the early days of the colony, when the British government was trying to keep a close eye on the activities of the colonists. In those days, surveillance was conducted primarily through the use of spies and informants.

As the colony grew and became more independent, the need for surveillance diminished. However, it increased again during World War I, when the Australian government was worried about enemy spies and saboteurs. During World War II, surveillance increased even further as the government tried to track down Nazi sympathizers and Japanese spies.

After the war, surveillance continued at a high level during the Cold War, when both the Australian and American governments were concerned about communist activity. Surveillance also increased during this time in response to terrorist threats from groups such as the Baader-Meinhof Gang and the Red Army Faction.

In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile cases of illegal surveillance in Australia. In 2013, it was revealed that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) had been conducting illegal wiretaps on journalists. In 2014, it was revealed that ASIO had also been carrying out warrantless searches of Australians’ homes and offices.

Recent cases of illegal surveillance in Australia

Illegal surveillance in Australia is a serious problem. The most recent case occurred in 2015, when the Australian Federal Police (AFP) illegally accessed the metadata of a journalist. This metadata included the journalist’s phone records, emails, and other communications. The AFP has been criticised for its handling of this case, and an inquiry is currently underway.

There have been other cases of illegal surveillance in Australia, including one involving the interception of phone calls between an Australian citizen and a foreign head of state. In this case, the Australian government was found to have acted unlawfully.

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The problem of illegal surveillance in Australia is compounded by the fact that there is no comprehensive law governing surveillance activities. This means that there is no clear legal framework within which agencies can operate. As a result, it is difficult to hold agencies accountable for their actions.

The issue of illegal surveillance in Australia is a complex one, and it is clear that more needs to be done to address the problem.

The consequences of illegal surveillance in Australia

Illegal surveillance in Australia is a serious issue with far-reaching consequences. The most obvious consequence is that it undermines the privacy of individuals, which is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Australian Constitution. This can have a range of impacts on individuals, including causing them distress, anxiety and fear. It can also damage their relationships, as well as their work and business prospects.

Another significant consequence of illegal surveillance is that it erodes public trust in government and law enforcement agencies. This is because people need to be able to trust these agencies to respect their privacy and act in accordance with the law. When illegal surveillance occurs, it creates an environment of suspicion and mistrust, which can make it harder for these agencies to do their jobs effectively.

Finally, illegal surveillance can also lead to the abuse of power by those who carry it out. This is because it gives them a great deal of information about people’s private lives, which they can use for their own purposes. This can include blackmail, extortion and other forms of coercion.

Illegal surveillance is a serious issue with far-reaching consequences. These consequences include undermining the privacy of individuals, eroding public trust in government and law enforcement agencies, and leading to the abuse of power by those who carry out

How to avoid being a victim of illegal surveillance in Australia

of the manner in which individuals can avoid being a victim of illegal surveillance in Australia

There are a few simple ways that individuals can avoid being a victim of illegal surveillance in Australia. First, it is important to be aware of the types of surveillance that are illegal. Second, take steps to protect your privacy, such as using strong encryption and ensuring that your home and office are secure from intruders. Finally, if you believe you are being illegally surveilled, contact the police or a lawyer immediately.

Frequently Asked Question

  1. What is illegal surveillance in Australia?

  2. Generally, it is an offence for a person to possess a record of a private conversation or the carrying on of an activity if they know that it has been obtained, directly or indirectly, by the use of a listening device, optical surveillance device, or tracking device in contravention of Part 2.17 Apr 2022 [1]

  3. Can you put cameras around your house?

  4. While we don’t recommend placing cameras in bedrooms or bathrooms for privacy reasons, be sure to secure a main second floor hallway with an indoor camera; it’s a great way to provide more video evidence, if you end up involved in a criminal investigation. [2]

  5. Can Neighbours complain about CCTV?

  6. The problem, as you rightly pointed out, lies in the fact that you perceive that one of your neighbours’ CCTV cameras is pointing directly at your property and this is a Privacy Issue. As far as the law goes in this regard, it would be covered by the Human Rights Act under your rights to privacy.17 May 2022 [3]

  7. Can someone film me without my permission on private property?

  8. You can film children in public places but it is wise to try to obtain permission if possible. What can’t I do? :– You cannot film on private property without permission.29 June 2016 [4]

  9. Do you have a right to privacy in your garden?

  10. The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to put up with it – you do have a right to your privacy. If all else fails, your local authority should be able to help. The same goes for security cameras – they should only film within the confines of your garden or public space.2 Nov 2021 [5]

  11. Can I sue someone for recording me without my permission in Australia?

  12. So, if someone recorded you without your consent, it is considered a gross infringement on your privacy, and you can initiate a lawsuit against them.21 Oct 2019 [6]

  13. Can you video record someone without permission Australia?

  14. There is currently no law in Australia that prohibits you from filming in a public place without asking for permission. This extends to recording buildings, sites, and even people – but not artistic works. This means that you should be careful not to film something that has copyright protection.11 Jan 2021 [7]

  15. Can someone video record you without your permission?

  16. In the case of one party recording someone’s video in a private space, there is a need for consent. In case of all the party consent in private space, a person needs permission for recording a video of that particular person.5 June 2021 [8]

  17. Where should outdoor home security cameras be placed?

  18. Security cameras should be placed at the most obvious points of entry: ground-floor doors and windows, especially the main entryway and any side or back doors. To avoid drawing attention to themselves, many burglars will aim for the entry points to your home that look natural.24 Mar 2022 [9]

  19. How High Should security cameras be?

  20. The optimal camera mounting height In general, most security companies recommend installing cameras at a height of 2.5m (8 feet).26 June 2020 [10]


Surveillance is a funny thing. What one person might consider illegal could be seen as perfectly legal to another. In Australia, the law is constantly changing to try and keep up with advances in technology, which makes it hard to say definitively what is and isn’t illegal.

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That being said, there are some general principles that can be applied to most situations. If you’re using surveillance equipment to spying on people without their knowledge or consent, then it’s probably illegal. If you’re using it to monitor your own property or employees, then it’s more likely to be legal.

At the end of the day, it’s best to err on the side of caution and get permission before carrying out any type of surveillance. Otherwise, you could end up in hot water with the law.

Sources –

  1. https://techsafety.org.au/blog/legal_articles/legal-guide-to-surveillance-legislation-in-nsw/
  2. https://www.security.org/security-cameras/placement-guide/
  3. https://www.problemneighbours.co.uk/what-can-we-do-about-neighbours-cctv-camera.html
  4. https://www.theiac.org.uk/resourcesnew/filming-in-public/filming-in-public.html
  5. https://www.waltons.co.uk/blogs/blog/seven-garden-laws-you-never-knew
  6. https://laws101.com/recording-me-without-my-permission/
  7. https://lawpath.com.au/blog/legal-film-public-places
  8. https://blog.ipleaders.in/someone-records-video-consent/
  9. https://www.bobvila.com/articles/where-to-place-security-cameras/
  10. https://www.smartsecurity.com.au/the-most-optimal-height-for-installing-your-security-cameras/

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