Clear-cut case of doxxing if it happened today: Lawyers
Aggrieved by a hit-and-run involving a dog, Mark Lin Youcheng, 27, posted a screenshot containing personal particulars of the woman he thought was behind the wheel.
He followed up with another comment - "Give her hell".
It turned out to be the wrong person, and the woman, who owned the car but was not the driver at the time of the accident, ended up receiving harassing calls and messages from strangers.
All this happened in 2016, but if it had occured today, lawyers say the case would come under new doxxing laws which came into force on Jan 1.
Under amendments to the Protection from Harassment Act passed in May last year, those who publish identifiable information about a person with the intention to cause harassment or facilitate violence can be fined up to $5,000, and depending on the offence, jailed for up to six months or a year.
Mr Lionel Tan, a partner at law firm Rajah and Tann, said Lin had published the identity information of the car owner and it was clear that, by saying "give her hell", he was encouraging others to harass, cause alarm, or distress to the woman.
"It would be difficult to find a different interpretation for that phrase," he told The New Paper.
Mr Tan said the new doxxing law sends a message that extreme online vigilantism that crosses the line into harassment or threats of physical violence will not be tolerated.
Lawyer Fong Wei Li agreed it was a clear-cut case of doxxing but said Lin was convicted for making an abusive communication that caused harassment instead, as the new law cannot function retrospectively.
As for the new law, the challenge is proving intention, said Mr Fong.
Mr Tan said the prosecution and defence have to assess whether there was intention to identify the victim to cause others to harass the victim, or whether it was done in the spirit of educating the public.
There may be borderline cases, and tricky situations may arise when the victim's actions in the first place are objectionable.
But even in such cases, the doxxing laws will still apply, Mr Tan added.
Invictus Law Corporation's Josephus Tan said the doxxing laws are a good way to regulate online behaviour which, if left uncontrolled, might result in real offline consequences.
"Two wrongs do not make a right no matter how 'noble' the cause might seem to be," said the criminal lawyer.