Privacy peeping and prying which one of these things is not like the others

In the heat of a strata community battle, allegations of peeping, prying and breaches of privacy are often made. The truth is, only peeping and prying in strata communities is against the law.

Despite opinions from bush lawyers to the contrary, privacy laws deal only with privacy safeguards relating to the way government departments collect, store and use personal information. It does not cover privacy issues between individuals, and unfortunately provides no solutions to the problem of nosey neighbours and overly officious owners corporations.

The Federal Privacy Act, which was introduced in 1998, does not apply to organisations with a turnover of less than $3,000,000 except for a limited number of circumstances which will not be relevant for owners corporations. Further, even if the law does apply, specific legislation that compels information to be given such as the right to inspect strata records and take copies of the roll of owners, overrides the more general privacy provisions. The state-based privacy laws are even less relevant to strata communities and basically apply only to government and semi government bodies.

So this will come as a great shock to those who refuse to do all manner of things in the name of the Privacy Act. Strata managers cannot use privacy laws as an excuse to keep documents from strata inspectors. Resident managers will not be able to use privacy laws as an excuse to protect letting owners from disclosing the identity of their troublesome tenants. Committee members will not be able to use privacy laws as an excuse from providing a list of owners to their political opponents.

Now prying and peeping is another matter all together. There are laws against this behaviour but it doesn’t go as far as allowing your neighbour to restrict what you do in the privacy of your own home.

 

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