Australian Law/Surveillance Devices Acts

Each State and territory has a Surveillance Devices Act (not necessarily known by that name), as does the Commonwealth.

The term 'surveillance devices' in the short titles of the Acts refers to devices which can observe (or enhance a person's ability to observe) or record private activities, including but not limited to conversations.

The regulation of surveillance devices does not fall within the Commonwealth legislative power. Instead, the regulation of the use of such devices is at the State/territory level. The function of the Commonwealth Surveillance Devices Act is to permit Commonwealth law enforcement officers to exercise special privileges, such as access to surveillance device warrants, without breaching the State/territory Acts.

Concepts and common features edit

Prohibition on use of devices for observing or recording edit

Prohibition on disclosure of recordings edit

Warrants permitting use of surveillance devices edit

Surveillance device warrants authorise:

  • the use of surveillance devices (which would otherwise be an offence under the same Act); and
  • the entering of premises to install or retrieve the device (which would be trespass)

Other special privileges of law enforcement officers edit

Legislation edit

Jurisdiction Short title
ACT Listening Devices Act 1992 (ACT)
NSW Surveillance Devices Act 2007 (NSW)
NT Surveillance Devices Act (NT)
QLD Invasion of Privacy Act 1971 (Qld)
SA Listening and Surveillance Devices Act 1972 (SA)
TAS Listening Devices Act 1991 (Tas)
VIC Surveillance Devices Act 1999 (Vic)
WA Surveillance Devices Act 1998 (WA)
Cth Surveillance Devices Act 2004 (Cth)

Comparison edit

*Work in progress*

Conversation can be recorded with one party's consent Conversation can only be recorded with all parties' consent

Surveillance device warrant is issued by ...

Further reading edit

ALRC, 'Serious Invasions of Privacy in the Digital Era (DP 80)', 'Surveillance laws and laws affecting photography'