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Information Commissioner launches investigation into alleged surveillance by VicForests


On 5 May 2022, the Victorian Information Commissioner commenced an investigation into allegations of improper surveillance by VicForests in and around 2011.

The Commissioner’s investigation will examine whether VicForests contravened the Information Privacy Principles in the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) (PDP Act).

As well as considering the historical allegations from 2011, the Commissioner will examine any current practices and procedures by Vicforests for conducting surveillance for consistency with the PDP Act.

“Any form of surveillance by government agencies is inherently intrusive and may be unlawful. It should never be conducted lightly and must always be subject to effective oversight,” said Information Commissioner Sven Bluemmel.

“This investigation will determine whether VicForests carried out surveillance in breach of the Information Privacy Principles. It is likely to have important lessons for other Victorian public sector agencies on the lawful use of surveillance.”


OVIC has powers to investigate allegations of serious or repeated interferences with privacy under 8C(2)(e) and Division 9 of Part 3 of the PDP Act.

If the Commissioner’s investigation identifies a serious or repeated interference with privacy, he may issue a compliance notice requiring an agency to take steps to address the issue. If a compliance notice is not complied with, this can result in civil and criminal penalties.

In accordance with OVIC’s Regulatory Action Policy, investigations are conducted in private. This means that during the investigation, OVIC will not provide any further comment on the investigation.

Anyone with information relevant to this investigation can contact OVIC at

For media enquiries contact

Simone Martin

t:   (03) 8684 7585 or 0466 097 816
e: or

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