The review of surveillance in public places was the second part of a two-stage reference on privacy. The first part covered workplace privacy, resulting in a report tabled in 2005.
This inquiry dealt with the growing use of surveillance in public places and the changing nature of the devices used. Public place surveillance is now so extensive that it affects the lives of nearly all Victorians, but existing laws were not designed with high technology surveillance devices in mind.
The Commission published a consultation paper in 2009. Forty-four submissions were received. Five community forums were conducted and a consultative committee provided advice. The Commission also visited major users of surveillance devices at their premises.
The Commission's Surveillance in Public Places: Final Report was tabled in Parliament on 12 August 2010 and contained 33 recommendations for reform.
The Commission recommended changes to modernise the law to ensure that the interests of those who use surveillance and the important underlying purposes of this use can be balanced with the privacy, autonomy and dignity of individuals.
Since the report was tabled, Privacy Victoria, the Community Crime Prevention Unit of the Department of Justice and the Victorian Ombudsman have published guidelines on the use of closed circuit TVs that refer to the guiding principles for surveillance in public places recommended in the Commission’s report.
Since the Commission completed its report, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has completed a review, Serious Breaches of Privacy in the Digital Era (ALRC report 123). In its terms of reference, the ALRC was required to take into account the VLRC's report. The ALRC was asked to design a statutory cause of action for serious invasions of privacy in the digital era.
The ALRC published its final report in September 2014.