One month ago, almost to the day, Australia’s answer to Surfline, called Swellnet, received an ultra-embarrassing slap from officials and told to remove “naughty” surf cameras that it had illegally erected in order to gaze upon formerly nude stretches of coast along proud Victoria including, but not limited to, Fisherman’s Beach.
Australians were shocked by this invasion of their privacy (pronounced with a short i) but Swellnet remained undeterred with the company’s editor, Stu Nettle, telling BeachGrit, exclusively, “For the record: The Fishos camera has consent. A contract was signed in 2020. Almost every social media post about it has been incorrect, most particularly the administrator of the Respect Bells Beach FB page who’s been citing clauses in legislation that simply don’t exist. We’re currently going through correct channels to clarify our position. Normal transmission will resume shortly. Embarrassment? Nah, but not realising your Australian biz partner wanted BeachGrit to partner up with Swellnet might cut it. For the record, we said no.”
The revenge porn about a possible ménage à trois nipped before it could beautifully blossom aside, the Surf Coast Times is just now reporting that “normal transmission” is not, in fact, resuming soon and may not resume for some time.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) recently confirmed it has not given consent for any of the dozens of surf cameras in Victoria, despite it being a requirement under the Marine and Coastal Act.
The act only applies to cameras installed on Crown land, including at surf lifesaving clubs, and falls to local land managers such as GORCAPA to oversee.“We are continuing to work with lease holders to raise awareness of our CCTV policy and leaseholder obligations,” GORCAPA operations director Daniel Aitken said. “Where we identify cameras that have not received our approval, they will be decommissioned. If leaseholders wish to continue operating cameras, we will assess them against our policy.”
If Swellnet hopes to keep the peeping eyes functioning, Nettle and co. will have to go and seek approval under the Marine and Coastal Act, though the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority (GORCAPA) frowns upon “commercial use in which the footage is sold or given to a third party and indiscriminate live broadcasting without a specific time-limited permit” which seems to counter the very idea of wave-based voyeurism.
How will Swellnet react?
More vigorous defense of its kink or quietly shuffling off to the darker corners?