It is an offence to install a surveillance device and/or maintain a listening device to record private conversations. In addition, it is an offence to monitor or listen to a private conversation. It is, also, an offence to pay someone to do any of the things already mentioned above. These prohibitions are only for private conversations. If you do any of the above in a place where the conversation is not private, then, it is not an offence. The legal definition involves private conversations not being those where those involved should reasonably expect that their conversation may be overheard. Therefore, the question, can you sue people who bug your privacy the short answer would be yes.
It is Illegal to Listen to Private Conversations
You cannot legally install an audio surveillance device to record your spouse having private conversations with other people, on the phone for instance. This is a federal offence under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979, see sections 5 and 34. A police warrant can make it legal to do the above, if it is a warrant specifically for that purpose. A mother or father could gain a warrant to record and listen to activity and conversations in a child’s bedroom if it was reasonably suspected that sexual abuse was occurring and there was a warrant issued under that understanding.
Optical Surveillance Devices
The proliferation of industrial espionage counter surveillance experts is testament to the growing popularity of this trend, despite its illegal nature. Optical devices fall under the same constraint, in terms of it being illegal to visually record someone in a private situation without their explicit consent. There are various scenarios where it is legal if there are reasonable grounds for lawful interest. Someone setting up surveillance cameras on their property to protect them from theft or trespass, for instance.
It is an offence to install or attach a tracking device to determine someone’s whereabouts in geographical terms, without their permission. In terms of suing someone who bugs your privacy, if you had first taken successful criminal action against them, it may be possible to establish grounds for compensation under a number of different scenarios. If the information recorded was commercially sensitive, then, this would seem a logical step to take. The invasion of privacy in Australia under existing common law has, so far, found no tort of privacy in the appellate courts.