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Intimate covert filming bill to be introduced

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Justice

9 November 2004

Intimate covert filming bill to be introduced

An Intimate Covert Filming Bill that will create offences covering the making, publishing and possessing of voyeuristic recordings was announced by Justice Minister Phil Goff today.

Policy decisions have now been finished and drafting will soon begin on the Bill, which will be introduced early next year, Mr Goff said.

The Bill is in line with recommendations made by the Law Commission in a report on intimate covert filming earlier this year.

Under the Bill, intentionally or recklessly making, publishing or distributing voyeuristic material recorded without consent will carry a penalty of up to three years' imprisonment. Knowingly possessing such material without reasonable cause will become an offence carrying a penalty of up to one year's jail.

Cabinet will also shortly consider Privacy Act amendments allowing victims of covert filming to seek redress, as recommended by the Law Commission. "Intimate covert filming is an increasing problem. It is a modern form of peeping and peering, aggravated by technology such as cell phone cameras and computers that make it relatively easy to record and distribute widely what is observed," Mr Goff said.

"Currently there are no provisions specifically prohibiting such behaviour. The Court of Appeal's Living Word decision (2001) makes it clear that the Films, Video and Publications Classification Act cannot be used to censor publications purely because of the circumstances under which images were obtained.

"This Bill will make it an offence to surreptitiously film intimate situations involving nudity, partial nudity, or sexual or other intimacy where people would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

”Filming under people's clothing, or invading their privacy by covertly recording them in toilets, changing sheds or in their homes is totally unacceptable and must carry criminal sanctions, regardless of how explicit the images are.

"International research also shows a correlation between voyeurism and sexual offending, and that it may be a 'gateway' offence to more serious offending."

Mr Goff said the Bill was consistent with action taken overseas. The United States and the United Kingdom had laws in place, while Canada and New South Wales were also considering a similar legislation.

ENDS

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