Doxxing set to be outlawed under changes to harassment law
Should amendments pass, publishing someone's personal info could lead to jail
Dislike the service of a taxi driver or broke up with a partner? Go ahead, post all about it, but with the new law criminalising doxxing, it could lead to jail or fines.
Doxxing refers to publishing someone's personal information to harass or threaten the person. It does not apply to entities.
Such information includes the victim's name, phone number, address, NRIC number and passwords. It also includes photographs or video recordings identifying the victim, as well as information on the victim's family, employment or education.
This, along with several other amendments to the Protection from Harassment Act, was tabled in Parliament by Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong yesterday. It is meant to enhance protection for victims of harassment and falsehoods, and to make it easier for victims to seek recourse.
The Act was enacted in 2014 to provide criminal and civil remedies against harassment and civil remedies for false statements of facts.
Should the amendments pass, anyone who posts information that identifies a person to put that person in fear of provocation of violence could be liable to a maximum of 24 months imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000 - if the victim is a vulnerable person or intimate partner.
Perpetrators of doxxing could face a fine of up to $5,000 or a jail term of up to six months if the intention was to cause harassment, or 12 months if they intended to cause fear or provoke violence - doubled if the victim is a "vulnerable person", such as a person with mental and physical disabilities.
Whether a doxxing offence has been made is dependent on the context of the post and intention of the poster.
- Posting videos of people driving recklessly on relevant online forums to warn others
- Sharing someone's personal information with emergency services or the authorities for necessary action to be taken
- Posting a public interview of a publicly known person
- Posting someone's personal information on social media and urging others to "teach him a lesson"
- Publishing false social media posts claiming someone is a "prostitute" and including the person's photos and contact details
- Posting videos of publicly known people with contact information and calling others to threaten or attack them
According to Law Society president Gregory Vijayendran, this new law will allow for an avenue for recourse for victims of such online vigilantism.
He cited an example from the US, where an 11-year-old girl was accused of having sex with a member of a band. Her address and contact information were released online.
Mr Vijayendran said: "The trolls had a field day. Within a year, Jessica's father was dead of a stress-induced heart attack and the young girl was taken away to a mental institution."
He added that the law is intended to quell this egregious form of cyber bullying before it becomes a big problem.
He said: "Perhaps this will help quell some of the fires. Don't take justice into your own hands, let the police do their job. If you have information, share it with them, don't jump to conclusions."
Get The New Paper on your phone with the free TNP app. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now