Telecommunications interception and surveillance

The Department of Home Affairs administers the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA Act) and the Surveillances Devices Act 2004 (SD Act).

The TIA Act protects the privacy of Australians by prohibiting interception of communications and access to stored communications. The privacy of Australians is also protected by the Telecommunications Act 1997, which prohibits telecommunications service providers from disclosing information about their customers' use of telecommunications services.

The TIA Act sets out certain exceptions to these prohibitions to permit eligible Australian law enforcement and security agencies (agencies) to:

  • obtain warrants to intercept communications
  • obtain warrants to access stored communications
  • authorise the disclosure of data.

Agencies can only obtain warrants or give authorisations for national security or law enforcement purposes set out in the TIA Act.

The SD Act governs the use of surveillance devices by agencies. Under the SD Act, an eligible agency can apply for a warrant to use a surveillance device to investigate a relevant offence.

Although the Department of Home Affairs administers the TIA Act and SD Act, the department does not investigate crimes. If you think that your communications are being illegally intercepted or recorded you should report the matter to your local police.

Telecommunications and surveillance annual reports

The Minister for Home Affairs issues annual reports on the use of telecommunications interception and surveillance devices by Australian agencies under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 and Surveillance Devices Act 2004.

These reports include information and statistics on:

  • the relevant legislation
  • agencies that have intercepted or accessed telecommunications, or used surveillance devices
  • the type of warrants applied for, or the type of surveillance devices used
  • legal developments since the last reporting period
  • the number of prosecutions and convictions resulting from the use of intercepted or accessed telecommunications information, or from the use of surveillance devices.

Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979

Surveillance Devices Act 2004

Contact details

Call: 02 6141 2900
Outside Australia: +61 2 6141 2900

Legislation