What is the law for recording conversation in Australia

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Fight Child Protection Department Corruption: 
What is the law for recording conversation in Australia
When dealing with child protection departments, you are dealing with the most underhanded, unethical, manipulative.... don't start me. Anyway you need to record, always. After any conversation always send a follow up email asking to confirm what was discussed as you can bet your last remaining child whatever you say will be twisted and turned against you. Anyway, here is some info I have gathered on the subject of recording those evil banshees...
The nature of the Australian legal system (being a Federation of States) is similar to the US one. This involves complying with both Commonwealth and various State laws. In Australia there are certain legal restrictions on listening to and recording telephone calls according to interception and listening devices laws. These laws do not themselves set clear boundaries and as a result Call Centres are often in a state of confusion about how far they may go when undertaking listening and recording.

The Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979 (http://www.aca.gov.au/licence/tir.pdf) prohibits a person from listening to or recording, by any means, of a communication in its passage over a telecommunications system without the knowledge of the person making the communication. A communication includes conversation and a message, and any part of a conversation or message, whether in the form of speech, music or other sounds, data, text, visual images, signals or in any other form or combination of forms. This law does not attach so much to the recording of a telephone call but more the interception. It is the act of interception that creates the offence not the recording. Naturally recording can form part of interception, but it is not the key element of the offence.

Listening Devices legislation only applies to private conversations. Each State and Territory prohibits the use of a listening device to record a private conversation to which you are not a party. In some States and Territories, a party to the conversation may record the conversations without the other party's consent. In all States and Territories, a party to the conversation is prohibited from communicating or publishing a record or a report of that conversation except in very limited circumstances.

So...long story short...."tapping" in to someones phone system without any parties consent is illegal. However, like in the United States where MOST states do not have a "duel party consent" law...a minimum of one persons knowledge and consent is all that's necessary to record a conversation...on telephone or otherwise!

This communications act refers to telephones for the most part but the law is applicable to conversations between people on the street or otherwise without being on the telephone.

Source(s): Police Officer +30 years

Are there rules about recording or monitoring my telephone conversations?

Yes. Monitoring (listening in to), or recording of telephone conversations, is a matter tightly controlled by law. The federal Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979 and State and Territory listening devices laws may both apply to this activity. The general rule is that the call may not be recorded. There are exceptions to these rules in very limited circumstances including where a warrant applies.

If a call is to be recorded or monitored, an organisation must tell you at the beginning of the conversation so that you have the chance either to end the call, or to ask to be transferred to another line where monitoring or recording does not take place if this is available.

Reasons organisations may monitor or record conversations could include:

  • to protect you in your dealings with the organisation, for example to record your instructions to a stockbroker
  • to provide a record in the event of a dispute about the transaction, for example when placing a bet with a TAB
  • to improve customer service, for example, monitoring training or coaching of staff who handle telephone calls.

More information on this issue is available in two publications prepared by the Communications Alliance Ltd:

Section 4 covers use of a device by organisations or individuals and adds a requirement of all-party consent (except under certain conditions).

(1) A person must not use a listening device with the intention of:
(a) listening to or recording a private conversation to which the person is not a party; or
(b) recording a private conversation to which the person is a party.
...Subsection (1)(b) does not apply to the use of a listening device by, or on behalf of, a party to a private conversation if:
(a) each principal party to the conversation consents to that use of the listening device;...

PS: Not a lawyer, and this is a public forum. Giving personal legal advice here would probably get a qualified person fired. If you want actual advice on your situation, find someone qualified and pay them.

always assumed it was illegal, mainly as there were so many state laws that contradicted each other, until I asked a friend of mine.
He is a current AFP sargeant here in Canberra, and that is what he told me.
I can record my conversation with you, without you having any knowledge, or giving any permission,
Whether it is a face-to-face chat, or on the phone.

A common trick is to record the conversation, then transcribe it immediately afterwards and claim the notes are an accurate account of what was said (which they are). The notes can then be used in court, but have to be constructed in a particular manner, similiar to police note-taking. There’s a term for it that I can’t remember. Heard this (possibly dodgy) advice given several times, but I won’t disclose the circumstances.

This particular topic comes up reasonably regularly and I have given non legal advice on it before based on practical experience.
A friend of mine has had an incredibly bad divorce. It has cost him at least half a million dollars.
Eventually I persuaded him to carry out all conversations via a “communications book” that went back and forth with his kids. All pages are scanned as they get filled out to so that nobody can “lose” the book.
His ex then decided to use the phone to make various threats.
Because he had listened to what I assured him was likely to happen, he had recorded all conversations from the time I mentioned it.

There are no problems with recording your own conversations without notifying other parties under any laws I can find in Australia.
However, what they are able to be used for (other than for your own personal recall) is where the problems of permission and notification start.

Regardless of this, when someone discovers that all their conversations have been recorded, they tend to lose all interest in following courses of action based on claims of content within conversations that they assume weren’t recorded.

Even if that information isn’t technically legally admissable as evidence, that doesn’t mean at all that it can’t end up in the public domain for other people to have an opinion about. My, how the convenience of the internet has changed things….

I’m also willing to bet that the punishment for crime of “illegally” recording a conversation isn’t really of much incentive if it prevents having no access to one’s children, or some other similar occurance.

If someone wants to see if the legalities of it have been tested in court, it would be useful to compare the results against payout figures in divorce cases. Historical evidence does tend to beat out theoretical legal implications that haven’t been tested.

If you only get ten years for murder in the ACT, you’re probably likely only to get advised not to do it again for illegal conversation recordings



Do I have a general right to privacy?

There is no law which guarantees a right to privacy, however you have specific legal protections in some areas.
Do I have a right to privacy in my home?

It is not illegal for someone to take photographs or use a video camera directed at your home.

It is not illegal for somebody to watch your home unless it amounts to stalking.

You do have a right to refuse a person entry to land that you own or your home. Exceptions apply to tenancies.

There is no right to privacy that stops the delivery of junk mail. You can ask a business that is covered by national privacy principles such as large corporations, medical services and government organisations to stop sending you unrequested marketing material if you didn't provide your personal details to the business specifically for the purpose of sending you marketing material. Contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner if you have a complaint.
Is it legal to take photographs of children in public places?

It is not illegal for people to take photos of your children in public places without your permission. The press may also take photographs of children in public places without parents' permission. Laws exist to protect children from the misuse of films or photographs of them, including selling or possessing obscene material about children. Some organisations such as sporting clubs make policies about photographing children and the use of the photographs.
Are government organisations obliged to keep my information confidential?

Government organisations at both state and federal levels are obliged to keep your personal information confidential unless ordered by a court to produce it or your information is subpoenaed ie required as evidence in court.
Which private organisations are obliged to keep my information confidential?

The national privacy principles require many private sector bodies to follow national privacy guidelines or instead, to develop recognised industry wide codes that regulate the use of confidential material. These organisations are obliged to keep personal material confidential and to provide you with access to your material. Staff emails containing personal information are also protected under these laws.

Required to comply with national privacy laws are:

    large corporations
    all medical services
    small businesses who trade in personal information or are related to a larger business
    organisations that are contractors to commonwealth agencies.

Even material which is confidential can be ordered to be produced by a court. Complaints may be dealt with by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
Is my consumer credit information protected?

There are specific safeguards in relation to consumer credit information and how it is handled by consumer credit reporting agencies. You have the right to:

    access your credit report
    be protected from the improper use of credit information
    be notified by a credit provider of your use and disclosure practices in handling credit report information
    complaints can be made to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

When can I record a telephone conversation?

Bugging or intercepting a telephone conversation is illegal.  It is not illegal to simply record a telephone conversation if you are a party to the conversation as long as you do not attach anything to or in the phone or its connections.

There is no problem with recording a message on an answering machine, because it is assumed that the person leaving the message realises it is being recorded.

Appropriately obtained recordings can be accepted by a court as evidence.
When can I record a face to face conversation?

It is not illegal to record a face-to-face conversation that you are involved in but there may be restrictions on how you use it.
When can I tell somebody about a conversation or publish a conversation that was legally recorded?

If you were involved in a conversation that you legally recorded, it is illegal to communicate the conversation or publish it if you do not have the permission of the other people involved in the conversation. Penalties apply. You may be able to use it as evidence in court proceedings.

It is illegal to publish or communicate a private conversation that was listened to or recorded illegally. Penalties apply. Illegally obtained recordings cannot be used in evidence.

Can police record conversations?

Police questioning must be electronically recorded or recorded in writing. It can then be used in court. Police often secretly record conversations that can then be used in court. When police obtain evidence outside of what they are allowed to do by law, the evidence can be challenged in court.

Do I need legal advice?

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner can assist with most concerns regarding privacy. You do not need legal advice to lodge a complaint with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. If the commission cannot assist, they may recommend legal advice.

Where can I get legal advice

Legal Aid Queensland cannot provide legal advice on privacy.

We may be able to provide advice if you have concerns about the use of consumer credit information that the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner cannot help you with.

If you need advice on privacy related matters, you should speak to a lawyer who works in this area of law.

    Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation.

Who else can help?

These organisations may also be able to assist with your matter. They do not provide legal advice.

    Office of the Australian Information Commissioner provides information and advice on laws governing individuals' rights to privacy, and deals with complaints about privacy concerns.

    Office of the Information Commissioner promotes access to Queensland government-held information and protects people's personal information held by government under the IP Act. They review specific agency decisions regarding access and amendment applications, deal with privacy complaints and can decide whether an agency's privacy obligations can be waived or modified in the public interest.