Backyard ‘spy’ next door no one can remove
A BRISBANE grandmother says she no longer feels comfortable swimming in her pool after a neighbour installed a surveillance camera aimed straight at her backyard.
But her attempts to have the camera removed have been unsuccessful, with authorities unable to act without a change to the law.
Jennifer Redmond, 64, has lived at her River Hills property for 15 years but said she no longer feels at home after a neighbour installed the camera which "blatantly" looks into her backyard.
She said the camera, which is fixed to a tree and overlooks her fence, has left her feeling like "we live in a fishbowl".
"My husband and I were shocked at the blatant placement of this camera approximately three meters up a tree in (the neighbours) back garden about one metre from our fence line," she said.
Ms Redmond said she went to Mt Ommaney police station to file a complaint but was later told by police that there was no law against the surveillance cameras.
"So we just have to live with this major invasion of our privacy," she said.
"Common sense should prevail. They [could be] watching my every move".
A Queensland Police spokeswoman told The Courier-Mail police were aware of Ms Redmond's case which was first reported last June and said no criminal charges had been made in relation to the neighbour's surveillance camera.
"From what our reports say the local MP has informed the woman that in current legislation, (the surveillance camera) is not illegal," a Queensland Police spokeswoman said.
"Obviously if the legislation was to get modified, and once or if it is changed, would it be a police matter if the neighbour still refused to remove their camera," she said.
Under current laws, the surveillance camera which overlooks her River Hills backyard is not prohibited.
Ms Redmond has since contacted Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath and Police Minister Mark Ryan urging them to change the laws.
She also contacted her local member Jess Pugh.
Griffith University applied ethics and cyber security senior lecturer David Tuffley said technology was "years ahead" of the state's Privacy Act.
"The main problem is always been we could have done all this several years ago," he said.
"From a practical point of view when you come home and close the front door you have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
"Public spaces like front yards would not be covered (by privacy protections) but you could make a good argument that a backyard should be a private place.
"But if that backyard is being overlooked by neighbours' windows, then that's not necessarily a reasonable expectation of privacy".
A letter from Ms D'Ath to Ms Redmond, seen by The Courier-Mail, confirmed there was no law prohibiting surveillance devices and CCTV in a civil setting.
"While there is no law preventing people from installing home surveillance equipment such as closed-circuit television (CCTV), some surveillance activities may be caught by general laws," the October 25 letter said.
"This may include the Invasion of Privacy Act if your neighbour has installed a listening device which records sounds (such as private conversations) as well as images."
Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said the government had asked the Queensland Law Reform Commission to review the State's laws relating to civil surveillance and privacy.
Member for Mount Ommaney MP Jess Pugh confirmed she has been in constant contact with Ms Redmond and was waiting for the outcome of the review.
The Courier-Mail is not suggesting the surveillance camera was installed to watch or record Ms Redmond.
The neighbour, who asked not to be named, said she installed the camera for her protection after a neighbourly dispute.
"The cameras are in the backyard for my own protection," she told The Courier-Mail.
"I'm not interested in watching her or her grand children."