Electronic Bugging

Phone Tapping

Phone is bugged

In Australia strict laws restrict covert recording of telephone conversations.

  • Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 this law essentially says that you may not listen or record conversation passing through a telecommunication device, be that a phone or device that transmits through radio frequency, irrespective whether the communication is between two independent persons or yourself and an independent person.

In all States and Territories, legislation usually prohibits using a listening device to eavesdrop on private conversations and this includes 'being wired'.

It is more complicated if you are a party to the conversation. In Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory it is generally not an offence to make the recording, unlike in New South Wales, Tasmania and Australian Capital Territory.

In South Australia, making the recording is unlawful unless it is in the course of your lawful duty, the `public interest' defence applies, or it is for the protection of your lawful interests. 'Lawful interests' is open to some interpretation of course.

However, in all States and Territories, even if it is permissible to record the conversation, it will usually be illegal to replay the material for publication or to publish in any other way information obtained from the recording without the consent of all the parties to the conversation. If you were a party to the conversation, there is a limited `public interest' defence in Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory, but its availability to the media is likely to be constrained by the usual suspicion shown by the courts to media `public interest' claims.

In all cases where use of a covert recording is being considered, you should first discuss the proposal with your legal advisers. The penalties for illegally recording and/or publishing interviews and conversations are severe including heavy fines and/or imprisonment.

If you perceive any loopholes, or protection, in the legal framework to justify you bugging someone, then consider the additional protection provided to the individual in Australia through our privacy law - Federal Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)

More laws:

Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979 (Cth) essentially says that you may not listen or record conversation passing through a telecommunication device, be that a phone or device that transmits through radio frequency, irrespective whether the communication is between two independent persons or yourself and an independent person.

 

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