Do I have a general right to privacy?
There is no law which guarantees a right to privacy, however you have specific legal protections in some areas.
Do I have a right to privacy in my home?
It is not illegal for someone to take photographs or use a video camera directed at your home.
It is not illegal for somebody to watch your home unless it amounts to stalking.
You do have a right to refuse a person entry to land that you own or your home. Exceptions apply to tenancies.
There is no right to privacy that stops the delivery of junk mail. You can ask a business that is covered by national privacy principles such as large corporations, medical services and government organisations to stop sending you unrequested marketing material if you didn't provide your personal details to the business specifically for the purpose of sending you marketing material. Contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner if you have a complaint.
Is it legal to take photographs of children in public places?
It is not illegal for people to take photos of your children in public places without your permission. The press may also take photographs of children in public places without parents' permission. Laws exist to protect children from the misuse of films or photographs of them, including selling or possessing obscene material about children. Some organisations such as sporting clubs make policies about photographing children and the use of the photographs.
Are government organisations obliged to keep my information confidential?
Government organisations at both state and federal levels are obliged to keep your personal information confidential unless ordered by a court to produce it or your information is subpoenaed ie required as evidence in court.
Which private organisations are obliged to keep my information confidential?
The national privacy principles require many private sector bodies to follow national privacy guidelines or instead, to develop recognised industry wide codes that regulate the use of confidential material. These organisations are obliged to keep personal material confidential and to provide you with access to your material. Staff emails containing personal information are also protected under these laws.
Required to comply with national privacy laws are:
- large corporations
- all medical services
- small businesses who trade in personal information or are related to a larger business
- organisations that are contractors to commonwealth agencies.
Even material which is confidential can be ordered to be produced by a court. Complaints may be dealt with by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
Is my consumer credit information protected?
There are specific safeguards in relation to consumer credit information and how it is handled by consumer credit reporting agencies. You have the right to:
- access your credit report
- be protected from the improper use of credit information
- be notified by a credit provider of your use and disclosure practices in handling credit report information
- complaints can be made to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
When can I record a telephone conversation?
Bugging or intercepting a telephone conversation is illegal. It is not illegal to simply record a telephone conversation if you are a party to the conversation as long as you do not attach anything to or in the phone or its connections.
There is no problem with recording a message on an answering machine, because it is assumed that the person leaving the message realises it is being recorded.
Appropriately obtained recordings can be accepted by a court as evidence.
When can I record a face to face conversation?
It is not illegal to record a face-to-face conversation that you are involved in but there may be restrictions on how you use it.
When can I tell somebody about a conversation or publish a conversation that was legally recorded?
If you were involved in a conversation that you legally recorded, it is illegal to communicate the conversation or publish it if you do not have the permission of the other people involved in the conversation. Penalties apply. You may be able to use it as evidence in court proceedings.
It is illegal to publish or communicate a private conversation that was listened to or recorded illegally. Penalties apply. Illegally obtained recordings cannot be used in evidence.
Can police record conversations?
Police questioning must be electronically recorded or recorded in writing. It can then be used in court. Police often secretly record conversations that can then be used in court. When police obtain evidence outside of what they are allowed to do by law, the evidence can be challenged in court.