Surveillance in Public Places

Public surveillance has become extensive enough to affect nearly all Victorians, but existing laws were not designed with high technology surveillance in mind. The second part of a two-stage reference on privacy (the first, covering workplace privacy, was tabled in 2005), this review of the laws of public surveillance took account of the rapid improvement and ubiquity of surveillance devices, the importance of privacy for individuals, and the need of users of surveillance devices to protect their property.

After initial research, the Commission published a consultation paper, which outlined the central issues and asked for submissions. The forty-four submissions augmented information and advice from five community forums and an expert consultative committee. The Commission also visited major users of surveillance devices. 

The final report, tabled in Parliament on 12 August 2010, contained 33 recommendations for reforming the law to ensure the interests of surveillance users can be balanced with the privacy, autonomy and dignity of the public.  

Implementation

Since the report was tabled, Privacy Victoria, the Community Crime Prevention Unit of the Department of Justice and the Victorian Ombudsman have published guidelines on the use of closed circuit TVs that refer to the guiding principles for surveillance in public places recommended in the Commission’s report. 

Since the Commission completed its report, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has completed a review,  Serious Breaches of Privacy in the Digital Era (ALRC report 123). In its terms of reference, the ALRC was required to take into account the VLRC's report. The ALRC was asked to design a statutory cause of action for serious invasions of privacy in the digital era. 

The ALRC published its final report in September 2014.

Timeline

Current: Table in parliament

Full timeline:

Reference
Consultation
Submissions
Final report
Tabled in parliament
View full timeline

Project Publications

Surveillance in public places: Final report

The Surveillance in public places: Final report was tabled in Parliament on 12 August 2010. A PDF version of the full report and individual chapters...

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Surveillance in Public Places: Recommendations

General 1. The Victorian parliament should enact new laws that promote the responsible use of surveillance devices in public places. Principles 2....

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Surveillance in Public Places: Consultation Paper

The Commission's Surveillance in Public Places: Consultation Paper was released on 30 March 2009. The paper invites people to make submissions to the...

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Surveillance in Public Places: Terms of Reference

The surveillance reference deals with the second part of this terms of reference. The first part formed the Workplace Privacy reference.  In light of...

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