Doxing – A Kind of Terrorism or Cyberbullying?

Having Private Information Exposed By Someone To Hurt You!

A SCARS Special Report

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There Are A Lot Of Despicable Things Done Online

Many Are Intended Just To Hurt You

Some are intended to hurt you financially, some emotionally, some – such as DOXING – are intended to hurt you in every way possible

Think about your own life? What information would you never want to become public?

Doxers know this when they gain the power to release it.

Some Doxers just want to hurt as much as possible and think nothing of nor care about the consequences. Other Doxers want to have power over someone and use it as leverage for blackmail. Yes, a blackmailer who uses exposure as a control mechanism then becomes a Doxer.

DOXING

Doxing personal information is a growing concern to all.

Personal information online is common, however, with the Internet being so prevalent. Many records are found online, such as, voting, property ownership, even bankruptcies, and new business filings.

But What Is Doxing?

Doxing or Doxxing is the act of publicly revealing previously private personal information about an individual or organization, usually through the Internet.

Methods employed to acquire such information include searching publicly available databases and social media websites (like Facebook), hacking, and social engineering. Doxing may be carried out for various reasons, including online shaming, extortion, and vigilante aid to law enforcement (scambaiting). It also may be associated with hacktivism.

Doxing Happens

Doxing ‘may’ occur when someone publishes online someone else’s personal information, which can be their address, a phone (cell) number, email, place of work, some other piece of information personal to the person.  The posting of someone else’s information ‘may’ be doxing contingent on other factors that need to be considered. Just posting someone’s public information would not be considered doxing.

Posting someone’s information that would not otherwise be made public but for the posting, would constitute doxing.  The means by which the information was obtained can also constitute doxing.  If the information posted about someone was obtained via an act of computer abuse, hacking, or email intrusion, this would constitute doxing. A social engineering attack such as phishing can also lead to doxing.

The means and source of the information is an important element to consider in determining if the posting is doxing.

Just sharing already available information from social media would not constitute doxing. But what should be kept in mind is that the sharing of the content could violate the terms of use of the social media platform. If that occurs, the poster can be banned from the site, and it demonstrates an intent to do harm that may be Doxing.

Aside from the source, the intent of the post should also be factored in. We see this commonly in seeking to denigrate someone else even your political opponent, former business partner, former spouse, or former partner after a relationship breaks up.  The malicious intent of the poster is an important criterion.

The intent of the posting has multiple considerations:

  • The long-term impact of being harassed online could lead someone to claim emotional distress or cyberbullying or even concerns for safety.
  • Posting someone’s personal identifying information (PII), such as social security – this could be via email – is doxing and illegal.
  • The publication of someone’s PII can easily be construed as having ill intent and can be demonstrated to have harassing import. Such an event carries possibilities for personal injury arguing harassment, invasion of privacy, violation of the right of publicity, emotional distress, assault, and possibly defamation – libel (mistaken identity).

Doxing personal information may draw on aspects of stalking – cyberstalking.

Federal law against stalking may apply in doxing situations because of the harassing impact, intimidation effects of the posting, and the use of interactive computer service to effectuate the doxing.

18 U.S. Code § 2261A – “Whoever— (2) with the intent to kill, injure, harass, intimidate, or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person, uses the mail, any interactive computer service or electronic communication service or electronic communication system of interstate commerce, or any other facility of interstate or foreign commerce to engage in a course of conduct that— (A) places that person in reasonable fear of the death of or serious bodily injury to a person …; or (B) causes, attempts to cause, or would be reasonably expected to cause substantial emotional distress to a person …  shall be punished as provided in section 2261(b) of this title.”

Your Freedom

Doxing is NOT freedom of speech

The freedom that so many feel they have to exercise their freedom of speech is being done ignorantly, carelessly, and ruining the benefit of the free marketplace  of ideas.

The vengeance that we witness from the posting of online content is, in many ways, is with nothing more than malicious intent and not to further constructive social dialogue.

Someone’s personal information, though not being PII (personally identifiable information), if disclosed for the purpose of humiliating the person because, say they filed bankruptcy 15 years ago, or had a divorce, or had failing business dealings, is mostly to denigrate the person, and that does have legal consequences.

Just posting about someone else may not be harmless, especially because so many fail to consider the consequences.

Swatting

There are variations to posting online that relate to doxing, such as ‘Swatting’.

Swatting is when a fake call is made to the police to go the someone’s home or place of business under the pretext that there was a crime is being committed  (usually involving violence) that requires law enforcement attention to prevent harm to others.

Sextortion

There is also ‘sextortion,’ which involves the use of sexual photos of someone to threaten the person or demand money.

Personal Privacy

It is important to recognize someone’s expectation of personal information privacy may not be as rigid as they think.

The term “restricted personal information” should be considered with Doxing because of someone’s expected privacy of such information in an open society.  It is reasonable to assume the privacy  – anonymity – of where someone lives, and expect that someone’s domicile is not publicly known, along with the expected privacy of someone’s, email, telephone number, place of work, identification of children, and personal history.

Doxing personal information, along with related criminal acts: trolling, cybercrime, harassment, and stalking, are becoming an epidemic that is destroying the fabric of our society.

The Internet and mobile communications have given everyone an easier means to communicate, learn and do research, and to be entertained, but all too many resorts to its capability for weaponizing digital communications.

For that reason, federal and state laws are developing and there is considerable efforts to strengthen existing ones to punish doxing.