Should Doxxing Be Illegal?

from the questions,-questions dept

There has been a debate over the past few years about the legality of "doxxing," which would loosely be defined as identifying individuals and/or their personal information which they'd prefer to remain secret. This is coming up in a variety of contexts, including effort to unveil the whistleblower who first called attention to President Trump's questionable call with Ukraine's President. However, we also noted in passing, last week, that the new privacy bill from Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo contained an anti-doxxing clause, which states:

Whoever uses a channel of interstate or foreign commerce to knowingly disclose an individual’s personal information—

(1) with the intent to threaten, intimidate, or harass any person, incite or facilitate the commission of a crime of violence against any person, or place any person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury; or

(2) with the intent that the information will be used to threaten, intimidate, or harass any person, incite or facilitate the commission of a crime of violence against any person, or place any person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury,

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

At a first pass, you can certainly understand the thinking here. If you're looking to disclose someone's personal information in order to "threaten, intimidate, or harass" someone, that feels problematic. But, then again, what is meant by "intimidate or harass" in this situation could matter quite a bit. What got me thinking about this again was another news report, about people doxxing members of a defunct neo-nazi online forum:

The metadata of a now-defunct neo-Nazi message board that is considered the birthplace of several militant organizations—among them the U.S.-based terror group Atomwaffen Division—was dumped onto the internet by what appears to be anti-fascist activists.

The site, IronMarch, is widely associated with the rise of the new wave of white supremacist accelerationst groups advocating for armed insurgency against society. The site ran from 2011 to 2017 and garnered more than 150,000 posts while active. The dump of its inner workings includes the login names of its former members and their associated emails and IP addresses.

For fairly obvious reasons, many would likely argue that we should want those people identified. And while the report notes that efforts are underway to try to track down the identities of people who were active on this forum, and it could be argued that the intent behind figuring out who was on this forum is to "intimidate or harass" those individuals (for being Nazis), I think many people who might otherwise support these kinds of privacy laws might take issue with the idea that revealing these individuals as Nazis and/or Nazi sympathizers should be illegal.

And that, again, gets at part of the issue with legislating privacy. Context matters quite a bit, and it's pretty difficult to write context into the law. Yes, doxxing is often used in negative ways to harm, intimidate or silence people. But it can also be used to reveal people who are doing crazy stuff hidden behind a shield of anonymity.

Filed Under: doxxing, investigation, privacy, privacy laws


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    Zof (profile), 14 Nov 2019 @ 12:53pm

    The Irony

    Wanting to be able to know everything about someone, invading their privacy, sounds like something a Nazi would want.

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      anonymouse, 14 Nov 2019 @ 1:04pm

      Re: The Irony

      Don't forget the associated threats to employment, life and limb if one is accused of being a Nazi with or without corroborative evidence.

      It's almost as if these people who do the outing were bad guys [in the non-gender specific use of the term]

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        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:00pm

        Re: Re: The Irony

        Yes, and many lawyers do this as part of a larger campaign to dehumanize litigants (particularly pro ses) by paying "journalists" and hackers to dox, harass, and ridicule them.

        Karma will catch up to them, since they keep doing the same thing over and over and too many people have too much to gain by ratting them out.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: The Irony Of Jhon crying about doxxing

          Sure they do Jhon boy. Sure they do.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:24pm

          many lawyers do this as part of a larger campaign to dehumanize litigants (particularly pro ses) by paying "journalists" and hackers to dox, harass, and ridicule them

          Cite five known cases of this ever happening.

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            Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 3:32pm

            Re:

            I don't know whether I can meet your arbitrarily specific goal (lawyers, payments, 5 instances), but Donald Segretti is known to have passed false information about people as part of Nixon's "dirty tricks". It's been plausibly alleged that Russia dumped data to Wikileaks to cause trouble. Valerie Plame. The whole modern idea of "fake news". And I'll bet the Nazis will eventually latch onto the idea of spreading false accusations if they haven't already—possibly even false accusations of Nazism, just so nobody knows who's really "with them".

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2019 @ 8:39am

            Re:

            Should we start with Rose McGowan's claims?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 1:19pm

      Re: The Irony of doxxing Godwin

      And boom you shit the thread on the first post.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 1:29pm

        Re: Re: The Irony of doxxing Godwin

        When the article mentions Nazis, it's actually somewhat relevant to discuss Nazis, so I'm not sure if this really is a Godwin moment...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2019 @ 4:50pm

      Re: The Irony

      It sounds like the government trying to uncover whistleblowers from the public all while they are attempting to shut down platforms which allow public outcry about its corrupt government.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 12:59pm

    A lot of doxxing is already illegal. There are many many many laws that could be applied and that's just one more. Stalking laws, the CFAA, harassment laws, laws about outing informants, laws about outing whistleblowers, laws about outing intelligence assets, laws about outing the military for reprisal, espionage, and I can think of more and more. I'm not even a lawyer.

    Unless the people involved are involved with genuine lawful activity such as journalism, petitioning the government ect doxxing is a very risky business.

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    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 14 Nov 2019 @ 1:10pm

      Re: risky business

      This comment really feels like it was written to engage the headline, rather than the article's substance.

      It starts off with a solid note about various ways obtaining the information is illegal (rather than the doxxing itself), or limited ways in which doxxing might be illegal for protected individuals in connection relating to national security (of which whistle blowers are not actually a protected class in this fashion). Then it ends with a point that seems to refrence nothing in the article, as the doxxing presented as good could indeed be considered operating as journalism. So i'm really not sure what the takeaway of that point is meant to be.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 1:24pm

        Re: Re: risky business

        The takeaway is that it is a grey area and you should consider the risks carefully before engaging in the activity.

        Doxxing may or may not be illegal. Doxxing may or may not be a civil violation. It depends on a lot of factors.

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      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 1:58pm

      Re:

      Some lawyers are about to learn that the very difficult way.

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    • identicon
      Anon, 15 Nov 2019 @ 8:04am

      Re: The trouble is...

      Except maybe for the law about intelligence agents (Valerie and Scooter, anyone?) all these require proving some form of intent. At what point does something shift from newsworthiness to intending to provoke harassment. I too, just out curiosity, would like to know who the whistleblower is - but not at the expense of his/her livelihood and safety. But then would we end up with a situation where everyone around the situation knows whodunnit, but the press cannot report on it?

      Reminds me of the situation in a small community where someone is charged with a sexual crime and the identity is not published to protect the victim. But in the small town o high school or church, everyone knows who it was.

      Unless someone say "Here's who it is, now go take a steaming dump on his doorstep" where the intent to harass is obvious - how do you prove intent? Every news article mentions the name of the person, and sometimes where they live, or work, or some identifiable information.

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  • identicon
    Bruce C., 14 Nov 2019 @ 1:04pm

    Context?

    I'm not sure that disclosing personal info for the purpose of harassment or inciting harassment should be legal even if the target is a neo-nazi.

    I do think that there needs to be a distinction between publicly available information that can be gleaned online or obtained from a directory service for a nominal fee vs. information that's obtained from privately held sources through subterfuge/hacking/bribery or other illegal means. Basically, if you're just saving people a bit of work to do their own digging, should that really qualify as doxxing in a criminal or civil liability sense?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 1:57pm

      Re: Context?

      Yes, because you are calling attention to that person rather than leaving it up to the audience to find the information without prompting.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2019 @ 12:01pm

        Re: Re: Context?

        Court filings are a matter of public record...

        Taking those and posting them to everyone's facebook wall (or myspace, or twitter) would be doxxing, even if the information is available to the public, there is a difference...

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        • icon
          Toom1275 (profile), 15 Nov 2019 @ 1:12pm

          Re: Re: Re: Context?

          One of our fellow commenters had a malicious litigant try stuffing a baseless legal complaint with piles of irrelevant background information about the commenter for the sole purpose of doxxing him.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:45pm

      Re: Context?

      I agree. With you, not Mike.

      For fairly obvious reasons, many would likely argue that we should want those people identified.

      Many would be wrong. Even total assholes still have a right to privacy. Leave law enforcement to the law enforcers. Anti-doxxing is about preventing vigilanteism. Leave off the ridiculous "think of the children"-style arguments that do nothing but erode freedoms.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2019 @ 10:02am

        Re: Re: Context?

        except nobody is taking away their privacy. they did that themselves when they uploaded their personal information. all "doxxing" does is direct attention to it

        if you aquire that information via hacking, that's a different crime

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        btr1701 (profile), 18 Nov 2019 @ 12:47pm

        Re: Re: Context?

        For fairly obvious reasons, many would likely argue that we should want those people identified.

        Many would be wrong.

        Indeed. Masnick seems to be suggesting that we put the brakes on this legislation because it could have the unforeseen consequence of keeping him and others from being able to harass the bad guys who 'deserve' to be harassed for their speech.

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        • icon
          Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 19 Nov 2019 @ 2:49am

          Re: Re: Re: Context?

          I've never seen Mike harassing anyone. Having been on the receiving end of harassment myself I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 3:21pm

      Re: Context?

      I'm not sure that disclosing personal info for the purpose of harassment or inciting harassment should be legal even if the target is a neo-nazi.

      The other problem: how does anyone really know if harassment is the intent? What's the difference between me posting a Nazi's phone number so everyone can fuck with them, or me posting their number so everyone can reason with them to try to change their mind? (The amount of care someone puts into the exact wording of the infodrop, I suppose.)

      The SOPA protests caused a record number of people to call poltical offices, overwhemling them. The line between that and a harassment campaign is pretty thin.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 4:12pm

        Re: Re: Context?

        If you can't tell the difference between "petitioning for a redress of grievances" and "harassment" you're on the wrong blog.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 6:32pm

          Re: Re: Re: Context?

          What you're talking about is what people would use the information for. Yeah, it'll be easy enough to categorize most of the specific calls, letters, etc. that result, but how do we know what the person posting the information intended? That's what the proposed law says will matter.

          If I write "Here's Neuhitler's phone number, let him know what you think about immigration"—is that an attempt at harassment? I mean, I'd expect a lot of people to call, and it's the internet, so I know some of them will be assholes. That phone number will quickly be blacklisted by the pizza delivery companies. But how would one prove any specific intent?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 7:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Context?

            I don't know what to tell you. Calling legislators offices to ask them to oppose a bill is plainly protected by the first amendment.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2019 @ 5:47am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Context?

              Calling legislators offices to ask them to oppose a bill is plainly protected by the first amendment.

              I didn't know you meant that specific example. Yes, of course that's protected, but what about telling everyone else on the internet to call them? That should be protected, but the proposed law leaves it a gray area. If you say "call them to express your opposition" you're probably OK. If you say "send them some black faxes", maybe not.

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    • icon
      btr1701 (profile), 18 Nov 2019 @ 12:55pm

      Re: Context?

      I'm not sure that disclosing personal info for the purpose of harassment or inciting harassment should be legal even if the target is a neo-nazi.

      And the same SJWs that do it to 'Nazis'-- the modern definition of which seems to be 'anyone who disagrees with my politics-- will shit themselves with outrage and claim invasion of privacy if it's done to them or their violent masked Antifa cohorts.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Nov 2019 @ 2:27pm

        Re: Re: Only fascists have anything to worry about Antifa

        Antifa really bro? You gonna bitch about the tooth fairy breaking and entering next?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 1:05pm

    The government does it

    when they publish lists of sex offenders AFTER they have been released from prison.

    Before someone says that I am defending sex offenders, you can stop right there. My thoughts are that if a convicted sex offender is still a danger to society, don't let them out of jail.

    So, if this new law is passed, does that mean that every police officer will be required to arrest every other police officer for following state laws re: publishing sex offender lists which is, in essence, doxxing?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 1:09pm

      Re: The government does it

      The term sort of loses its negative connotation when they include things like public urination.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2019 @ 8:55am

      Re: The government does it

      It's a condition of freedom with the alternative being involuntary commitment due to being a danger to others.

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      • icon
        nasch (profile), 15 Nov 2019 @ 9:25am

        Re: Re: The government does it

        It's a condition of freedom with the alternative being involuntary commitment due to being a danger to others.

        If they are actually a danger to others, they should not be released.

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  • icon
    crade (profile), 14 Nov 2019 @ 1:20pm

    A couple thoughts..
    How could that possibly jive with the first amendment?
    and
    Is there actually a line between intent to harass and intent to reveal that you think someone deserves derision?

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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 14 Nov 2019 @ 1:20pm

    "with the intent"

    With the presumed intent seems like a better line.
    One can not know the inner workings of another's mind.

    Did Alex Jones MEAN to have his fan base send death threats to the Sandy Hook Parents?? Or were those messages just collateral damage in his shtick to get money from ignorant people?

    Did that YA author MEAN to have her fanbase figure out whom she was talking about & have them descend upon her to the point where she removed all of her social media accounts for daring to think her books weren't that good for college students? Or was she just so upset over 1 tiny quote in 1 tiny paper she needed to speak out?

    Did Ken White MEAN to hand out JLVD's office address & phone number to doxx him? Or was he just sharing the email as it was sent?

    Does giving out easily found information so someone can contact an elected offical cross the line if 1 person out of 500 who saw it decided to call in a bomb threat instead of saying they disagreed with a proposal?

    Does taking photos of people in public at a protest rise to that level or should a school have not caved to the possible trauma for others finding out they had been at a protest?

    Doxxing is a tool, it can be used for good, it can be used for evil.
    The problem is trying to understand the intent.

    I totes doxxed some bad lawyer types, & despite what they told courts, I never misused what I knew.

    I totes doxxed Craig Brittian & got his nudes he posted online.
    If I released them would I be violating the proposed law?
    Even if you could find them online for yourself easily if you were so motivated?

    Trying to pass a quickly written law to "fix" the possibility of the Whistleblower being outed is doing the same thing over & over and expecting a different result. The problem is larger than the whistleblower & trying to quickly do something always leads to bad laws that sometimes we can't fix. See Also: Patriot Act, Bill allowing 9/11 Families to sue the Kingdom (despite there being no actual legal recourse possible).

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    Nathan F (profile), 14 Nov 2019 @ 1:26pm

    The amusing thing is, if passed this would make Trump's calls to 'unmask' the whistleblower an illegal act. In fact ANY unmasking of a whistleblower by anyone other than the person themselves or as part of a trial or hearing... would likely be illegal.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 1:55pm

    "But it can also be used to reveal people who are doing crazy stuff hidden behind a shield of anonymity. "

    Too subjective, and a good example of why DOXing should be considered stalking, or prosecuted as an invasion of privacy.

    Of course now that the DOXers have been Doxed themselves, it's inevitable before someone turns the internet fight the nerds started into a jungle fight the nerds lose. Some of these twerps have been asking for it for a very long time, and the lawyers who put them up to it are fools if they think no one has caught on.

    Given the mass scale of Doxxing, and the supposed "craziness" of those targeted, karma, through the legal system or otherwise, would appear inevitable.

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  • icon
    CopBlaster (profile), 14 Nov 2019 @ 1:55pm

    If Doxing were Banned Uncle Sam Would Be Public Enemy Number One

    This statute looks similar to 18 U.S.C. 119 which prohibits making personal information about law enforcement publicly available. The key language is that law is the "makes publicly available" part because most doxing uses information made publicly available by the government in public records.

    In this proposed statute I would argue that one cannot disclose what has already been disclosed by the government in public records, so an affirmative defense would be that you are simply disclosing publicly available information that has already been disclosed.

    This would bring the enforceable arm of the statute into play only when the information has never before been disclosed, which is almost never. To convict someone they would have to prove that the personal information has never been disclosed before and that would be really hard.

    My legal team successfully argued this to make a federal prosecutor back off when he suggested charging me with violating 18 U.S.C. 119 for doxing local, state, and federal law enforcement personnel. My defense was that I had gotten the information from public records and therefore I had not made it publicly available even though I made it easier for the public to find.

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      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:02pm

      Re: If Doxing were Banned Uncle Sam Would Be Public Enemy Number

      Cops have other ways of winning cases, though you're stupid enough to eventually get yourself locked up.

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      • icon
        CopBlaster (profile), 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:27pm

        Re: Re: If Doxing were Banned Uncle Sam Would Be Public Enemy Nu

        The consequences of civil disobedience are rarely linked to stupidity.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 8:12pm

        Re: Re: If Doxing were Banned Uncle Sam Would Be Public Enemy Nu

        I believe this would be considered a threat if you happen to be a law enforcement officer. Talk about stupid if that really is the case.

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    • icon
      Tanner Andrews (profile), 15 Nov 2019 @ 4:41am

      Re: If Doxing were Banned Uncle Sam Would Be Public Enemy Number

      18 U.S.C. 119 which prohibits making personal information about law enforcement publicly available

      If this statute were in fact constitutional, then trying to keep local government in line by checking to see whether certain officers were getting a break on their property appraisals would be against the law.

      Not that property appraisers would ever collude with other officials to shift the burden. And in fact I do not have reason to believe that they are doing it in this county. But in Dade or Broward? I would be surprised if they were not doing it.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:01pm

    My opinion is pretty simple.

    1) Threats, harassment, and facilitating violent crimes are already illegal acts. (Especially over the internet. Across state lines means the Feds can get involved.) A specific anti-doxxing law would most likely not be needed to punish someone who doxxes with intent to cause harm.

    2) If there is a legitimate connection between an anonymous person and an illegal act, it should be reported to police (or, if the police aren't an option, other reputable investigators) who can perform an actual investigation and confirm the connection with hard evidence, or deny the connection with evidence to the contrary (or merely a lack of evidence; we are supposed to be an nation of innocence until proven guilty.)

    3) If there is no legitimate connection between an anonymous person and an illegal act, by revealing their information, any wrongs righted are likely to be outweighed by new wrongs created. Punishing the victim of mistaken identity, punishing the victim of a stolen identity, the corrupt punishing the honest, or further punishing a wrong already atoned for are all possible outcomes.

    Conclusion: Though I object to doxxing, even towards potentially violent d-bags, I see little that would improve by making doxxing itself illegal, as the people who do it to cause harm can already be prevented or punished.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:04pm

      Re:

      In theory, doxing should have been prosecuted, but law enforcement views it as "just the internet." A separate law is definitely required.

      Violent people are rarely doxed since the doxers have a keen survival instinct.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:14pm

        Re: Re:

        It sure doesn't seem like they treat it as "just the internet" when they go after human trafficking (real or imagined), malware-spreaders, Cambridge Analytica, the occasional Facebook or Twitter posts they don't like...

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    • icon
      CopBlaster (profile), 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:32pm

      Re:

      You are right about several things here. The police can already prosecute doxing cases if the doxing is part of other criminal conduct. Conduct done with the same intent this statute would prohibit. It is already illegal to attempt to incite crimes of violence, so doxing with that intent is already illegal.

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      • icon
        btr1701 (profile), 18 Nov 2019 @ 12:57pm

        Re: Re:

        It is already illegal to attempt to incite crimes of violence

        Only speech that incites 'imminent lawless action' can be prosecuted.

        An internet posting by itself rarely satisfies the Brandenburg test.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:14pm

    Should Google be liable for archiving Doxing in its search results? If it's a federal crime, then yes, they'd be liable even with 230.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:25pm

      Re:

      Er, no. I would suggest re-reading the proposed law excerpt, at the least, before proposing a claim that bold...

      Google would not be disclosing the information with intent to harm, harass, threaten, etc.

      Google would be archiving information previously disclosed, along with all the other information it archives, automatically, without any intent to do anything except store and retrieve information. (Okay, and to sell ads, because hey, it's Google, after all.)

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      • icon
        CopBlaster (profile), 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:35pm

        Re: Re:

        You are absolutely right. The statute has two elements. The disclosure and the intent. So, disclosure without criminal intent is just disclosure.

        The first element like I mentioned in an earlier comment, would not be violated by Google either because Google does not do the disclosing. They simply copy disclosures made by others.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:30pm

      Should Google be liable for archiving Doxing in its search results?

      Unless Google is informed of it and refuses to remove it, no, Google shouldn’t be held liable for doxxing. Put liability where it lies: with the person who did the doxxing.

      Also: If you mention “anonymous defamation” or some similar bullshit in a reply to this comment, I will accept that as an acknowledgement of your ignorance. Your further contributions will be read accordingly.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:40pm

    But... terrorists!

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  • icon
    mephistophocles (profile), 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:57pm

    Huh?

    Mike, your argument is incoherent. If one has a right to remain anonymous, one doesn't forfeit that right be exercising their right to free speech. Sure, nazis are horrible. Nobody (except nazis, maybe) disagree. But they're not forfeiting rights unless they're doing something illegal, and saying rotten things isn't illegal - as you & this blog have admirably pointed out for many year.

    Perhaps one doesn't have a right to be anonymous. If that's the case, though, NO ONE has that right - not just those who aren't saying legal things we don't like.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 3:03pm

      Re: Huh?

      Under our actual law, we have the right to be anonymous. Like every other right, defending it isn't free.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 14 Nov 2019 @ 10:08pm

      Re: Huh?

      Mike, your argument is incoherent

      I don't think it is.

      If one has a right to remain anonymous, one doesn't forfeit that right be exercising their right to free speech.

      That is true, but I think you misunderstand the right of anonymity. It is not that someone who has figured out who you are can't expose it. It is that you can't be forced against your will to reveal who you are. Those are two different things. If someone else figure out who you are, it is their 1st amendment right to say.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2019 @ 6:52am

        Re: Re: Huh?

        I wouldn't call it incoherent, but the tone of the article kind of makes it sound like you sympathize with the people that think it's okay to do harmful/illegal things if you believe your intended victims are neo-nazis.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 15 Nov 2019 @ 8:43am

          Re: Re: Re: Huh?

          That's exactly how I read it: "F--- 'em, they're bad and they deserve it."

          No good can come of adding to some loser's finely honed sense of grievance.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 15 Nov 2019 @ 5:09pm

          Re: Re: Re: Huh?

          I wouldn't call it incoherent, but the tone of the article kind of makes it sound like you sympathize with the people that think it's okay to do harmful/illegal things if you believe your intended victims are neo-nazis.

          That would be a pretty big misreading of the article.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 15 Nov 2019 @ 5:36pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Huh?

            You didn't explicitly say that you're in favor of doxxing Nazis, but you didn't say it's a bad idea, either. I can definitely see how this paragraph can be interpreted as somewhat supportive of the idea that doxxing people might be OK if they're really bad people.

            For fairly obvious reasons, many would likely argue that we should want those people identified. And while the report notes that efforts are underway to try to track down the identities of people who were active on this forum, and it could be argued that the intent behind figuring out who was on this forum is to "intimidate or harass" those individuals (for being Nazis), I think many people who might otherwise support these kinds of privacy laws might take issue with the idea that revealing these individuals as Nazis and/or Nazi sympathizers should be illegal.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 17 Nov 2019 @ 6:19pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Huh?

              I think(and please correct me if I'm wrong here Mike) the objection is to the 'harmful/illegal things' bit, as it's one thing to support and/or understand why someone would support doxxing losers like neo-nazis, and another thing entirely to support people doxxing them and doing 'harmful/illegal' things to them.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Mike Masnick (profile), 18 Nov 2019 @ 3:29pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Huh?

                Doing harmful/illegal things is already illegal.

                Adding on a new crime of doxxing on top of that is the problem. There are many cases where doxxing would be inappropriate, but there are many cases where revealing who someone is, is part of a legitimate journalistic practice. Such a law would almost certainly be abused by those covered by journalists.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 18 Nov 2019 @ 6:31am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Huh?

            Lots of people are misreading the article in exactly the same way then, judging by the comments. Perhaps a re-write for clarity is in order.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 11:33pm

      Re: Huh?

      What? The government isn't the potential doxxer as imagined by this law. No other citizen is obligated to pretend they don't know who you are.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Slow Joe Crow, 14 Nov 2019 @ 2:59pm

    This sounds a lot like revenge porn laws, which flagrantly trample the first amendment. No good will come of an anti doxxing law because like criminal defamation it will be perverted int another tool for the powerful to punish critics.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    CopBlaster (profile), 14 Nov 2019 @ 4:43pm

    This Statute Will Do Nothing to Stop Doxing

    This bill defines personal information in such a way that most doxing is not covered. See the first page of the section by section summary https://eshoo.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Section-by-Section-Online-Privacy-Act-Eshoo-Lofgr en.pdf that says "Personal Information does not include...Publicly available information related to an individual."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 5:31pm

    Where is the line drawn between secret and public? Maybe your coworkers know your phone number - would saying that on the Internet be doxxing or is it public knowledge?
    If someone sets up a webpage with all their contact details and you link to it, is that doxxing? For that matter, if all you refer to is the Yellow Pages, is it doxxing?
    If your friend installs an app that harvests their contacts list, the app maker suffers a data breach and your number is included in a data dump, is your number still secret or is it now public knowledge?

    Too much of a grey area to write effective laws on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 9:07pm

    Good-Now shut down everyone spreading personal identifiable info

    I look forward to the DMV folks being the first to be strung up under this new law, for distributing personally identifiable info on innocent motorists to everyone from statisticians to debt collectors.

    Some of these people do intend harm and the victims have the right to expect that info gathered for one purpose will not feed doxxing efforts aimed at something else - such as extorting funds. Lock. Em. Up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 11:35pm

      Re: Good-Now shut down everyone spreading personal identifiable

      This, exactly. And telcos, credit reportung agencies, and any other business or government entity one chooses or is forced to interact with.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2019 @ 5:00pm

      Re: Good-Now shut down everyone spreading personal identifiable

      The DMV is a dictatorship, so good luck with that!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    techflaws (profile), 14 Nov 2019 @ 9:25pm

    Hey, that was a perfect call!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2019 @ 2:35am

    Doxing combined with defamation should become its own tort. If you combine a lie about someone with their personal information, that's where the line should be. "Defamatory invasion of privacy" might be the name for it.

    This would draw a clearly constitutional line between merely repeating public information and doing it for an actionable purpose. As it is, the combination of the two should also be considered stalking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 15 Nov 2019 @ 8:47am

      Re:

      Yeah... that happened to me, with real life consequences. Imagine the cost of tracking down a troll with a burner .ru email account. Now imagine going up against a website operated by people who will only remove the actually actionable elements of a troll post, then charge you for "SEO" to move it down the search results.

      Basically, for this to succeed you'd have to know who the abuser is AND have the bread to pay for a lawsuit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2019 @ 8:00am

        Re: Re:

        The tort should be "defamatory invasion of privacy." Using someone's personal information combined with defamation should be prima facie evidence of stalking.

        Lawyers are behind a lot of this, using "journalism" websites and blogs to backchannel their dirtywork, using hackers to create foreign websites which are litigation-proof and to avoid losing Section 230 immunity.

        In the end, the way to neutralize them is to first go after the "useful idiots" they use as pawns, which teaches other useful idiots that they will be suffering the consequences for grinding someone else's axe. "But...I read it on the internet!" is not a defense especially when they repost the lies in their own words. Then it's "But...I got caught up in it!" After that it's "I'm settling this just to put it behind me. You are committing legal extortion."

        Actually, I'm not, I'm just suing the people I can reach, the ones dumb enough to believe some foreign troll website and use the supposed "comraderie" to continue acting on their own. Perhaps one day they'll go after the lawyers who set them up. If this happened to you, and you're a lawyer, odds are it was an adversary in a case who did it or masterminded it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2019 @ 3:35pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Bitch please. I’m still waiting for you to serve me with all those lawsuits you promised.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 18 Nov 2019 @ 2:59am

          Re: Re: Re:

          In the end, the way to neutralize them is to first go after the "useful idiots" they use as pawns, which teaches other useful idiots that they will be suffering the consequences for grinding someone else's axe. "But...I read it on the internet!" is not a defense especially when they repost the lies in their own words. Then it's "But...I got caught up in it!" After that it's "I'm settling this just to put it behind me. You are committing legal extortion."

          The "useful idiot" enabled my exoneration by proving it was a troll post. No harm done by her, and we're on better terms now. As for the fake consumer review site, it allowed me to put up a rebuttal, so no harm done by them. The only one doing any harm was the troll, who had direcly contacted my employers.

          Actually, I'm not, I'm just suing the people I can reach, the ones dumb enough to believe some foreign troll website and use the supposed "comraderie" to continue acting on their own. Perhaps one day they'll go after the lawyers who set them up. If this happened to you, and you're a lawyer, odds are it was an adversary in a case who did it or masterminded it.

          If no direct harm was done by the people you can reach you won't prevail. I'm not a lawyer and the troll is just a common troll who left enough clues to signpost that he was a troll. The harm is now just an anecdote I use to remind people that their own conduct does more to affect their reputations than what people say about them online.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2019 @ 9:21pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Actually, I'm not, I'm just suing the people I can reach

          So... fuck all, then?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    known coward, 15 Nov 2019 @ 5:47am

    So if i like your opinion doxxing should be illegal, if i don't like it, dox away.

    Privacy is meaningless unless it applies to all, even nazi's

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 15 Nov 2019 @ 7:51am

    The "But they're g-d Nazis!" exception

    Mike, I don't give a rat's who the people are, doxxing bad, end of.

    It's not for Joe Bloggs to go out hunting Nazis or their sympathisers/enablers based on IP addresses (so much wrong...! Start with copyright trolling efforts and end with the Pizzagate debacle to see how identifying anyone as the Bad Guy tends to work out in practice), it's for the authorities.

    "But they're g-d Nazis!" is no excuse for any behaviour you wouldn't want meted out to yourself, be it punching someone in the face or sharing their personal details online.

    I don't like the buggers, but if it's acceptable to punch a Nazi because they're considered the bad guys (okay, that's actually true), one day it might be acceptable to punch Christians. I'm a Christian. One day it might be acceptable to punch Irish people. I'm Irish. One day it might be acceptable to punch women. I'm a woman. One day it might become acceptable to punch office workers. I work in an office. Can you see the problem here? Yes, I'm saying that doxxing is as harmful as physical violence because the real world hassle, from unwanted pizza deliveries to SWATting are harmful.

    Come on, mate, it's not in the public interest to mark individuals out as targets on the off-chance that they still belong to or sympathise with a particular group. And before anyone mentions CP, innocent till proven guilty, okay? It's not our job to track down and punish people. That is the provenance of law enforcement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2019 @ 7:55am

      Re: The "But they're g-d Nazis!" exception

      • I'm saying that doxxing is as harmful as physical violence because the real world hassle, from unwanted pizza deliveries to SWATting are harmful.*

      Some folks with very close ties to lawyers who have been mentioned more than once on this site have SWATTED people that the lawyers had been defaming and ridiculing. It's what got the police involved.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2019 @ 3:36pm

        Re: Re: The "But they're impotent!" exception

        Sure it is bro. Sure it did. Just like how you got the FBI and CIA and MI5 all involved.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 18 Nov 2019 @ 3:01am

        Re: Re: The "But they're g-d Nazis!" exception

        Citation?

        Having been on the receiving end of baseless assertions I'm not willing to believe anything anyone says without some evidence to back it up.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2019 @ 8:08am

    Are nazis dangerous? Are nazis potentially dangerous?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 15 Nov 2019 @ 8:35am

      Re:

      If shooting up churches (see Dylann Roof for details) and burning them down or driving cars into crowds (Heather Heyer was killed in this way in Charlottesville), then yes, I'd say they're dangerous.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      btr1701 (profile), 18 Nov 2019 @ 1:04pm

      Re:

      Are nazis potentially dangerous?

      Every person is potentially dangerous.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 19 Nov 2019 @ 2:51am

        Re: Re:

        That is true. However, those who hold extremist views in which certain individuals and groups are held to be less than fully human with the same rights as the rest of us are more likely to be dangerous than those of us who hold a "live and let live" viewpoint.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2019 @ 8:46am

    A number of lawyers who are "fans" of this site have been engaging in this practice for years. Rose McGowan recently revealed that a very famous lawyer mentioned to a very famous producer defendant that she could have arranged to have her reputation ruined online by having her depicted as "unstable."

    Numerous litigants have been targeted in similar ways over the years, by hackers and "chan" style trolls who even set up full websites to try to demolish reputations of these litigants. Some other lawyers have even defended these "trolls" under the guise of "free speech" though I doubt they'd ever want their own kids dragged into the limelight the way others have experienced (I mean it's only to inform them of what their parents are doing, right?).

    It's no small wonder that an article against this bill would magically appear.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2019 @ 1:38pm

      Re:

      Hey Jhon you gonna try doxxing Mike family again?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2019 @ 7:53am

        Re: Re:

        Aww, the disrespectful misspelling of a name. People who do that are SO brilliant!!!

        I never doxed anyone, though Mike is a public figure with a severely reduced expectation of privacy. Who said I was talking about his family anyway? That sauce has a much more appropriate Gander.

        What is YOUR concern with this anyway?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2019 @ 3:40pm

          Re: Is you memory really that bad bro?

          Hey bro. Your the one who spelt it that way first. Don’t be coy, you threw several hissy fits and named mikes family here. It might not rise to the level of stalking but it was creepy as fuck. Just like when you threatened to rape this bro. And others.

          I don’t like old impotent fuckwit wannabe bullies.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2019 @ 12:21pm

    So much for "go after the bad actors, not the platforms." This does not run afoul of Section 230 one bit, though it does make ISPs liable for aiding and abetting, so I guess Google will be clearing its search results of any doxing.

    4Chan is going to hate this law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Spelebound, 16 Nov 2019 @ 7:14pm

    Doxing has one X. K thx bye.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2019 @ 6:53am

    "I think many people who might otherwise support these kinds of privacy laws might take issue with the idea that revealing these individuals as Nazis and/or Nazi sympathizers should be illegal."

    Yes, because they are hypocrites. "Privacy for me, not for thee."

    "Context matters quite a bit, and it's pretty difficult to write context into the law."

    Ah, so you're one of those hypocrites. What you mean is "Wrong think matters quite a bit, and it's pretty difficult to write Right think and wrongthink into the law"

    And, no, it should not be legal to dox people who think what YOU believe are the wrong things. If someone commits a crime then it's also not your job to interfere or be a vigilante.

    And that, again, gets at part of the issue with legislating privacy. Context matters quite a bit, and it's pretty difficult to write context into the law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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