Civil and workplace surveillance laws to be examined

The Palaszczuk Government is set to examine if there are threats to the privacy of Queenslanders from new tracking and surveillance technology.

 

The Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) will look at the need to strengthen legislation around the use of surveillance devices and technologies in both the civil and workplace environments, said Member for Bancroft Chris Whiting.

 

“Each and every day we are seeing advances in smartphone technology, drone capability as well as tracking and data surveillance devices,” said Chris Whiting.

 

“So we want to see if we have the right balance between protecting the privacy of Queenslanders and the legitimate use of these technologies.

 

“The QLRC will examine ways to achieve this balance as technologies become increasingly sophisticated,” said Chris Whiting.

 

Chris Whiting said Queensland’s Invasion of Privacy Act 1971 included a number of offences relating to the use of listening devices to monitor, listen to or record a person’s private conversations.

 

However, the 1971 the Act did not regulate optical, tracking or data surveillance devices which have appeared in recent years.

 

“Often a person will need to rely on offences contained in the Criminal Code Act 1899 or common law actions such as trespass and nuisance to bring action against the misuse of surveillance devices and technologies,” he said.

 

“This is why we want the QLRC to see if these laws are adequate and see if we need specific legislation that covers all aspects beyond just listening devices.”

 

Chris Whiting said the use of surveillance devices in workplaces would also be considered by the QLRC.

 

“Employers use optical surveillance, data monitoring and tracking devices for a number of legitimate reasons, including to ensure employee health and safety, protect property from theft and damage, prevent fraud and monitor employee performance,” he said.

 

“We need to ask if this goes against an employee’s reasonable expectation of privacy,” Chris Whiting said.

 

The terms of reference can be found at www.qlrc.qld.gov.au and the QLRC will report back by 1 July 2019 (civil surveillance) and by 30 June 2020 (workplace surveillance).

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