Erosion at the Beach: Privacy Rights not just Sand

Burton, Kelley J. (2006) Erosion at the Beach: Privacy Rights not just Sand. Privacy Law and Policy Reporter, 11(8), p. 216.

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In August 2005, the Australian Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) released a Discussion Paper entitled, Unauthorised Photographs on the Internet and Ancillary Privacy Issues, and called for public submissions. One of the instances causing concern was the covert photography of hundreds of children at South Bank Parklands (an artificial beach setting) in Queensland and the subsequent publication of the photographs on a website. Even though the photographs did not contain images of the children’s private parts or doing private acts (for example, showering, toileting or changing clothes), it caused community outrage because the photographs were taken without consent of the parents of the children and were placed on a website where a larger audience could view the photographs. Not only would a larger audience be able to view the photographs, but arguably a different type of audience to what the parents would have intended, for example, paedophiles and paraphiliacs. There were no links on this website to pornographic sites, but the producer shut the website down as a result of the media attention. The erosion of privacy rights in a beach setting is not restricted to minors. Another example referred to in the Discussion Paper was topless women being photographed on a Sydney beach. This photographer was caught under a provision relating to offensive conduct. There are no laws in Australia that prevent a person from taking a photograph of another person at the beach without the other person’s consent or from disseminating the photograph on the internet. This issue is very relevant to adult victims as well as minors. Canadian studies have suggested that women and children are usually the victims. A recent media statement by Linda Lavarch, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, indicates that the new law reforms will protect adults and minors from being covertly filmed in private places, for example, changing rooms and toilets. It suggests that privacy rights will not be protected in public places such as the beach. This article focuses on the rights of topless female bathers, irrespective of age.

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ID Code: 4176
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Keywords: visual recordings, voyeurism, privacy, unauthorised photographs
ISSN: 1449-826X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Criminal Law and Procedure (180110)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 HiTech Editing Pty Ltd
Copyright Statement: The contents of this journal can be freely accessed online via the journal’s web page (see link).
Deposited On: 18 May 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:32

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