Consultation on surveillance reforms for Queenslanders

Published Wednesday, 03 May, 2023 at 09:35 AM

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

  • The Palaszczuk Government has opened consultation on recommended reform surrounding the use of surveillance devices.
  • The public is invited to have their say on a consultation paper covering the use of devices such as drones, CCTV and tracking devices.
  • The Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) examined the adequacy of laws around these devices and provided recommendations to strengthen privacy for those in Queensland.

Consultation is underway on possible reforms to strengthen laws that manage surveillance devices and similar technologies to better protect the privacy of Queenslanders.

The consultation paper is seeking views on a potential staged approach to implementing civil surveillance reforms recommended in the QLRC Report, starting with criminal prohibitions on the use of surveillance devices and technologies in both civil and workplace environments.

Surveillance devices and technology that are discussed in the consultation paper include CCTV, tracking and digital recording devices, as well as recreational and commercial drones with advanced optical and audio recording capabilities.

The consultation paper reflects a number of recommendations made by the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) on the use of surveillance devices and the adequacy of the state’s privacy legislation.

While Queenslanders are currently protected by laws governing the use of listening devices in certain circumstances, under the Invasion of Privacy Act 1971, the consultation paper discusses more comprehensive protections.

The criminal prohibitions discussed in the consultation paper would regulate optical, tracking and data surveillance devices in legislation, as well as impose criminal penalties on the use, installation, and maintenance of surveillance devices without consent, and the sharing of information obtained from a surveillance device.

The proposed reforms are of general application and, if enacted, would apply to all persons and workplaces and their surveillance device practices.

However, we recognise that may not offer protection to employees who agree to an employer’s use of surveillance in circumstances where they may not feel they are free to withhold their consent.

This consultation will offer an opportunity to express views on how to regulate workplace surveillance and find the right balance between reasonable workplace practices and expectations of privacy. It is important to understand how the use of surveillance technologies can benefit the community but how to also limit their use in potentially harmful situations, such as theft, stalking and harassment.

Quotes attributable to the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Shannon Fentiman:

“Surveillance devices such as CCTV, tracking devices and drones are impacting the privacy of so many Queenslanders and we want to make sure our laws keep pace with these advancements in technology, without disrupting their intended safe use.”

“It is critical that we have legislation that reflects a modern Queensland and effectively protects against invasions of privacy carried out through the use of various types of surveillance devices.”

“The consultation paper is about seeking views on the approach to stronger privacy protections for Queenslanders, and making sure technology is prohibited from harmful use, such as harassment, or further hurting victims of domestic and family violence.”

“I encourage everyone with an interest to provide feedback, because community input from a diverse range of stakeholders will ensure that any reforms are relevant and effective.”

The consultation paper is available here:

Submissions close on 31 May 2023.

The QLRC’s Report No. 77 - Review of Queensland’s laws relating to civil surveillance and the protection of privacy in the context of current and emerging technologies is available here: QLRC-Report-77-online.pdf

Media contact – Natarjsha Kramer 0456 436 934