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Intimate Covert Filming Act passed

24 November 2006

Intimate Covert Filming Act passed

An amendment to the Crimes Act that targets the increasing incidence of voyeuristic covert filming passed its third reading in Parliament last night.

The Crimes (Intimate Covert Filming) Amendment Bill was introduced in April last year and creates offences covering the making, possessing, publishing, importing, exporting or selling of voyeuristic recordings.

“The Act makes it an offence to surreptitiously film people in intimate situations involving nudity, or sexual intimacy without their knowledge or consent,” Mark Burton said.

“Prior to this Act, there was no law specifically prohibiting this type of behaviour, as the images obtained don’t usually meet the test for prohibition under censorship law. The issue at stake is the invasion of a person’s privacy and the subsequent misuse of the images obtained. The legitimate public abhorrence that this type of behaviour brings out is why the new offences sit within criminal law.

“Intimate covert filming is a growing problem made worse by relatively new technology such as cell phone cameras, which when used together with the Internet make wide distribution of recorded images relatively easy.

“Intimate covert filming can cause real harm beyond embarrassment or humiliation such as psychological problems for its victims. There is also international research suggesting a correlation between voyeurism of this type and sexual offending.”

The Bill incorporates a three-year maximum term of imprisonment for making or publishing, importing, exporting or selling an intimate visual recording while simple possession will attract a penalty of imprisonment not exceeding a year.

Mark Burton acknowledged the work of the Government Administration Select Committee who strengthened the distribution provisions of the Bill and ensured that live digital ‘streaming’ technology was covered.

The Bill is in keeping with similar legislation overseas. For example, the United States and Britain already have laws covering this type of activity in place.

The Crimes (Intimate Covert Filming) Amendment Act is the third piece of legislation in the justice portfolio passed by Parliament this week. The Crimes of Torture Amendment Act and the Evidence Act were passed earlier while the Criminal Justice Reform Bill was also introduced to the House.


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