In Australia, property laws are the provenance of the states, each state has its own Property Law Act, but they do agree on most points of law of course. Residents and businesses own the rubbish they place in their own bins, until it is collected and taken away by waste management companies. So, it is illegal to go through someone else’s’ rubbish bins. Privacy issues raise their head in this instance, as well. Going through some person’s trash, whilst it remains on their property, in the case of kerbside open collections, is another grey area.
Checking People’s Rubbish For Evidence: The Privacy Legalities
Different local councils have different laws pertaining to the taking of items put out for council collections. There have been instances of individuals being arrested by police for removing things from kerbside rubbish placements. The checking of people’s rubbish for evidence: The privacy legalities would, if deemed relevant, fall under the jurisdiction of the various state acts. It is not clear whether checking someone’s rubbish is illegal under privacy laws, but if the rubbish is in their bin on their property it would contravene personal property laws. The various state and federal police forces in Australia have the right to check the garbage of suspected criminals if they have a warrant to do so.
In the case of journalists or private investigators, checking people’s rubbish for evidence would be illegal if it was undertaken on the person’s property and within their bins. Even, on their nature strip, I would suspect would be illegal. Whether a person has decided to throw out something or not, does not affect their ownership of the item whilst it remains on their property. Once the trash has been removed to a waste collection facility, it then becomes the property of that facility and whoever owns or manages it.
In the age we live in, it is wise to be wary of what you throw away; and whose hands it can end up in, and whose prying eyes more importantly. Celebrities have become very aware of the dangers inherent within their trash. Seemingly innocent things can point toward information about lives being deciphered by nosy professionals. Criminals are, also, becoming more vigilant about their waste management activities. The days of rampant carefree criminal behaviour are well and truly over. The clever crim is constantly on guard and knows that big brother is always watching. Always ensure you do a rubbish removal of premises, before you abscond.