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Question: Protection of Private Communication

13 June 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:50): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Attorney-General on the topic of protection of private communications.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: On Saturday, the Adelaide Advertiser published an article on its front page under the heading, 'Cash, sex and frock'n'roll', where it revealed that a church leader had been—and I quote directly from the article—'living a double life, meeting men on gay sex app Grindr'. The article features screenshots of private messages sent by the app between the man and other men.

My question to the Attorney-General is: can the Attorney-General advise what protections exist for South Australians communicating on dating apps and social media apps, and are there any laws in place that prohibit the sharing of private messages and photos to third parties?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:51): I thank the honourable member for his questions; they are good questions. I will take on notice to bring back a more complete and fuller answer but telecommunications, or communications by electronic methods, are, I am pretty sure, the sole province of the commonwealth in terms of regulation. That will be part of the answer I will have to take on notice.

In terms of dating apps, I think my colleague in the other place the member for Reynell, Minister Katrine Hillyard, has attended at least one national forum on some of the difficulties with online dating apps and how issues surrounding them work. Again, I am happy to take on notice to bring back a fuller answer. Under South Australian law and offences created under the Summary Offences Act in terms of sharing invasive images, I don't think that extends to messages that might be covered by commonwealth telecommunications, but I am happy to have a look at that and take it on notice.

I have been to forums with my own teenage children, run by Sonya Ryan and others, and it does highlight the dangers faced with modern methods of communication. Once someone communicates on these sorts of apps, whether they are dating apps or apps generally, one tends to lose control of where they end up. Modern technology has made our life very easy in many ways, but it has created certain difficulties that people may not think about at the time.

It is a good question. I am aware of some of the areas, but I will take it on notice to bring back a fuller answer for the honourable member.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:53): Supplementary: noting the minister's response, is the government considering further reform in this area?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:53): I thank the honourable member. There is work being done at a national level on privacy more generally, and I know the honourable member's colleague has talked about that, particularly in terms of facial recognition. We will continue to be a part of that federal work in terms of privacy generally.