Media release - Is your privacy protected? (14 August 2009)


Will the law protect your privacy against unwanted intrusion from your neighbour's security cameras? What action can you take if your ex-partner posts your private videos on YouTube? How can the media's role in promoting free speech be balanced against the need to protect individual privacy?

Never before has it been so easy for one person to invade the privacy of another. Advances in technology allow moments once considered private to be captured and broadcast to the world. Yet, despite increasing public concern about this gradual erosion of privacy, the law remains largely unclear.

In a report released today, the NSW Law Reform Commission recommends that there should be an action for invasion of privacy. The report clarifies when an individual should be able to claim compensation and places limitations on the action.

The Chairperson of the NSW Law Reform Commission, the Hon James Wood AO QC, comments that 'the action is only applicable where an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy that is not overridden by public interests such as freedom of speech. We advocate a common sense approach, whereby privacy interests are weighted against other important concerns such as the public 'right to know' and the protection of national security'.

The report recommends that the new cause of action only be introduced as part of national law reform so that privacy law would be uniform throughout Australia.

Copies of Invasion of Privacy (Report 120) may be obtained from the Commission or downloaded from the Commission's website www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lrc.

Media spokesperson: The Hon James Wood AO QC, NSW Law Reform Commission: 8061 9270