In case you’re unfamiliar with doxing, it is term that describes using the internet to search for and obtain the personal information of others, and to post it publicly on the internet with the intent to threaten, intimidate, harass or incite the commission of a crime of violence against a person or a member of the immediate family of that person.
Some states consider doxing to fall under stalking laws and include an intent to cause the person doxed extreme emotional distress. In fact, in some prosecuted cases of cyberstalking, the victim’s personal information can be the personal knowledge of the perpetrator who posts it publicly on the internet for a malicious purpose.
The personal information that is publicly posted does not have to be accurate. In fact, it can be for someone totally different, which can then lead to civil lawsuits for defamation and identity theft. Doxing has become a serious problem in the United States.
There is a current federal statute for protecting individuals performing certain official duties from having their personal information and that of their families made publicly available. The statute is 18 U.S.C. § 119. It makes it a federal crime to make publicly available the Social Security number, home address, home phone number, mobile phone number, personal email, or home fax number of, and identifiable to, restricted personnel.
The federal statute defines restricted personnel as a grand or petit juror, witness, officer in or of any court of the United States, or an officer who may be, or was, serving at any examination or other proceeding before any United States magistrate judge or other committing magistrate; an informant or witness in a Federal criminal investigation or prosecution; or a State or local officer or employee whose restricted personal information is made publicly available because of the participation in, or assistance provided to, a Federal criminal investigation by that officer or employee. Family members are also protected under the statute.
I’ve often wondered why our federal government does not seem to believe that all citizens want the same protection and the right to be let alone. Maybe that will change soon. Read the rest of this entry