Computers, Privacy & the Constitution

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StewartPollockFirstPaper 7 - 14 May 2022 - Main.StewartPollock
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Section II: Federal and State Anti-Doxing Laws

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The federal law which most closely covers doxing behavior is 18 U.S. Code 2261A(2), the federal anti-stalking and cyberstalking statute. This statute makes it a crime to, among other things, use the mail or any electronic communication service to engage in a course of conduct with the “intent to kill, injure, harass, or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person.” Although the language of the statute would seem to cover doxing that is intended to harass or intimidate, in practice courts have set a very high threshold for the applicability of the anti-stalking statute to threats based on revealing personal information. This is because of the specific “course of conduct” language of the statute means that a single threatening post or message is not enough to be prosecutable, even if it contains information that would put the target at risk. As many doxing attacks are coordinated from multiple accounts and users, the language of 2261A(2) makes holding any individual accountable difficult. Furthermore, there is some evidence that federal prosecutors do not have the capacity to utilize 2261A(2) in the doxing context, because there are more pressing cases concerning drugs and terrorism.
>
>
The federal law which most closely covers doxing behavior is 18 U.S. Code 2261A(2), the federal anti-stalking and cyberstalking statute. This statute makes it a crime to use the mail or any electronic communication service to engage in a course of conduct with the “intent to kill, injure, harass, or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person.” Although the language of the statute would seem to cover doxing that is intended to harass or intimidate, in practice courts have set a very high threshold for the applicability of the anti-stalking statute to threats based on revealing personal information. This is because of the specific “course of conduct” language of the statute means that a single threatening post or message is not enough to be prosecutable, even if it contains information that would put the target at risk. As many doxing attacks are coordinated from multiple accounts and users, the language of 2261A(2) makes holding any individual accountable difficult. Furthermore, there is some evidence that federal prosecutors do not have the capacity to utilize 2261A(2) in the doxing context, because there are more pressing cases concerning drugs and terrorism.
 Several states have laws analogous to 2261A(2), but they generally suffer from the same enforcement limitations when it comes to doxing carried out by coordinated groups. California’s cybercrime law, codified in California Penal Code 653.2, has been used to prosecute doxing and doxing-like activities. Under this statute, enacted in 2010, this statute makes it a misdemeanor to use electronic communication in order to (1) intentionally cause another person to fear for their safety; (2) to harass, alarm, annoy, terrorize or cause injury to another person without “legitimate purpose”, and (3) to make personally identifiable information viewable or available to download which would be reasonably likely to cause that person or their family harm. This language is broader that the federal statute, however, like the federal law, California’s statute contains “course of conduct” language which makes it hard to utilize against a particular individual who is acting as part of a larger group.
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Section III: Kentucky's "Anti-Doxing" Law

In January 2019, a confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. involving a group of high school students from Park Hills, Kentucky (several of whom were wearing “MAGA” hats in support of Donald Trump) went viral on social media, leading to one of the students, Nicholas Sandmann, having much of his personal information revealed, and being subject to highly negative news coverage. In part in response to this incident, the state of Kentucky passed a law last year intended to provide both civil and criminal penalties for doxing. This bill, signed into law in April 2021, makes it a civil tort to “release of someone’s personal information [in a way that] would cause a reasonable person to be in fear of physical injury to himself or herself, or to his or her immediate family member or household member.”

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The Kentucky statute has the possibility of being more effective than federal and state laws which criminalize doxing, because it imposes joint and several liability on would-be doxers, rather than requiring a “course of conduct” by one individual. In addition, the Kentucky statutes shifts away from using criminal statutes to punish doxing, and instead creates a private right of action for individuals who are the target of doxing campaigns. Moving anti-doxing into the civil sphere eliminates one of the major problems with using 2261A(2) to prosecute doxing, which is a lack of law enforcement resources.
>
>
The Kentucky statute differs from previous "anti-doxing" laws, because it imposes joint and several liability on would-be doxers, rather than requiring a “course of conduct” by one individual. In addition, the Kentucky statutes shifts away from using criminal statutes to punish doxing, and instead creates a private right of action for individuals who are the target of doxing campaigns. Moving anti-doxing into the civil sphere could theoretically eliminate one of the major problems with using 2261A(2) to prosecute doxing, which is a lack of law enforcement resources. However, there is strong reason to be skeptical of both the intent and utility of this new type of "anti-Doxing" law.
 
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However, these attributes of Kentucky’s anti-doxing law, particularly in light of the politically-charged circumstances in which it was adopted, raise questions of what it is actually intended to counteract. If interpreted broadly, it is easy to see how the law can have a chilling effect on genuine journalistic activities. Given the Kentucky attitudeof the legislature which adopted the bill, perhaps that chilling effect is the point.
>
>

Section IV: Protection or Political Theater?

 
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Laws such as Kentucky’s anti-doxing statute are presented by their advocates as providing a valuable way for the victims of harassment to strike back against those who maliciously publish their personal information online. Given the Kentucky attitudeof the legislature which adopted the bill, perhaps that chilling effect is the point. For those such as Sandmann (who settled his defamation claims against major media outlets for large sums) there are existing laws that offer greater protection than the new Anti-Doxing law. Other states have begun passing similar politically-charged "anti-doxing" laws, such as an Oklahoma statute which specifically targets the "doxing" of police officers, which critics have decried as an effort to prevent filming of police misconduct. The attributes of Kentucky’s anti-doxing law, particularly in light of the politically-charged circumstances in which it was adopted, raise questions of what it is actually intended to counteract. If interpreted broadly, it is easy to see how these types of laws can have a chilling effect on genuine journalistic activities. To the extent that harassment in the form of doxing is a problem which requires a legal solution, a new wave of politically-charged "anti-doxing" laws akin to those of Oklahoma and Kentucky in not an effective solution, and may make the underlying problem worse by muddying the waters of what constitutes "doxing".
 
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Section IV: Protection or Political Theater?

 
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Laws such as Kentucky’s anti-doxing statute are presented as providing a valuable way for the victims of harassment to strike back against those who maliciously publish their personal information online. For those such as Sandmann (who settled his defamation claims against major media outlets for large amounts) there are existing laws that offer greater protection than the new Anti-Doxing law. In light of this, there is some reason to be skeptical that this law is anything more than political grandstanding by Kentucky politicians eager to highlight the perceived excesses of internet activists and journalists.
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StewartPollockFirstPaper 6 - 28 Apr 2022 - Main.StewartPollock
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META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"
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 -- By StewartPollock - 09 Mar 2022
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Introduction

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Section I: Current Legal Status of Doxing

 
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Doxing, also known as doxxing, is the act of exposing a web user’s identity and other personal information, such as their location or address. Depending on who you ask, doxing is either an especially malicious form of harassment, or a sometimes-justified act of vigilantism, which can prevent bad actors from using the relative anonymity of the web as a shield for harassment and misconduct. This latter view, which could be summarized as the “sunlight is the best disinfectant” approach, has been at the center of a number of high-profile incidents over the last decade, such as the 2012 doxing of a controversial reddit moderator by the late website Gawker, or the 2016 resignation of an editor for the site Politico after he published the home address of white supremacist Richard Spencer.

Section I: Legal Status of Doxing

Doxing frequently exists in a legal grey area—there is no federal “anti-doxing statute”, but doxing or doxing-esque behavior has been prosecuted under broader federal and state anti-stalking statutes. However, these statutes, which impose criminal penalties, have limited ability to reach individuals who are part of larger campaigns of loosely organized harassment. In particular, statutory language which requires a “course of conduct” by one individual limits the applicability of these laws where many people are involved individually. Kentucky recently passed what has been described as the first true “anti-doxing” statute, which would create both civil and criminal penalties for releasing personally identifying information with the intent to intimidate, abuse, threaten, harass, or frighten individuals. This law, by imposing joint and several liability on would-be doxers, goes further than federal or state laws. However, by moving doxing into the realm of civil law suits, the Kentucky law raises questions about where to draw the line between doxing and legitimate muckraking.

>
>
Doxing is the act of exposing a web user’s identity and other personal information, such as their location or address. Depending on who you ask, doxing is either an especially malicious form of harassment, or a sometimes-justified act of vigilantism, which can prevent bad actors from using the relative anonymity of the web as a shield for harassment and misconduct. Doxing frequently exists in a legal grey area—there is no federal “anti-doxing statute”, but doxing or doxing-esque behavior has been prosecuted under broader federal and state anti-stalking statutes. However, these statutes, which impose criminal penalties, have limited ability to reach individuals who are part of larger campaigns of loosely organized harassment. In particular, statutory language which requires a “course of conduct” by one individual limits the applicability of these laws where many people are involved individually. Kentucky recently passed what has been described as the first true “anti-doxing” statute, which would create both civil and criminal penalties for releasing personally identifying information with the intent to intimidate, abuse, threaten, harass, or frighten individuals. This law, by imposing joint and several liability on would-be doxers, goes further than federal or state laws, and has been presented by its advocates as a way to crack down on malicious forms of doxing. However, by moving doxing into the realm of civil law suits, the Kentucky law raises questions about where to draw the line between doxing and legitimate muckraking.
 

Section II: Federal and State Anti-Doxing Laws

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Section III: Kentucky's "Anti-Doxing" Law

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In January 2019, a confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. involving a group of high school students from Park Hills, Kentucky (several of whom were wearing “MAGA” hats in support of Donald Trump) went viral on social media, leading to one of the students, Nicholas Sandmann, having much of his personal information revealed. In part in response to this incident, the state of Kentucky passed a law last year intended to provide both civil and criminal penalties for doxing. This bill, signed into law in April 2021, makes it a civil tort to “release of someone’s personal information [in a way that] would cause a reasonable person to be in fear of physical injury to himself or herself, or to his or her immediate family member or household member.” The Kentucky statute has the possibility of being more effective than federal and state laws which criminalize doxing, because it imposes joint and several liability on would-be doxers, rather than requiring a “course of conduct” by one individual. In addition, the Kentucky statutes shifts away from using criminal statutes to punish doxing, and instead creates a private right of action for individuals who are the target of doxing campaigns. Moving anti-doxing into the civil sphere eliminates one of the major problems with using 2261A(2) to prosecute doxing, which is a lack of law enforcement resources. However, these attributes of Kentucky’s anti-doxing law, particularly in light of the politically-charged circumstances in which it was adopted, raise questions of a potential chilling effect such a law could have on legitimate journalism.

Section IV: Potential Issues

Laws such as Kentucky’s anti-doxing statute may provide a valuable way for the victims of harassment to strike back against those who maliciously publish their personal information online. However, by creating a private right of action for the release of publicly available information, they have the potential to create a chilling effect on legitimate journalism. Although the Kentucky law has not yet been tested, a relatively narrow construction, emphasizing the “reasonable fear” language of the statute, is necessary to prevent the bad-faith use of the law to prevent the dissemination of identifying information that serves a legitimate journalistic purpose.

>
>
In January 2019, a confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. involving a group of high school students from Park Hills, Kentucky (several of whom were wearing “MAGA” hats in support of Donald Trump) went viral on social media, leading to one of the students, Nicholas Sandmann, having much of his personal information revealed, and being subject to highly negative news coverage. In part in response to this incident, the state of Kentucky passed a law last year intended to provide both civil and criminal penalties for doxing. This bill, signed into law in April 2021, makes it a civil tort to “release of someone’s personal information [in a way that] would cause a reasonable person to be in fear of physical injury to himself or herself, or to his or her immediate family member or household member.” The Kentucky statute has the possibility of being more effective than federal and state laws which criminalize doxing, because it imposes joint and several liability on would-be doxers, rather than requiring a “course of conduct” by one individual. In addition, the Kentucky statutes shifts away from using criminal statutes to punish doxing, and instead creates a private right of action for individuals who are the target of doxing campaigns. Moving anti-doxing into the civil sphere eliminates one of the major problems with using 2261A(2) to prosecute doxing, which is a lack of law enforcement resources.
 
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This draft is fully polished. The best route to improvement seems to me to ask, "why?" Publishing private information so as to cause harm is the civil wrong Brandeis and Warren were initially writing about more than 125 years ago. It's equally clear that a range of criminal offenses can be charged when a state or federal prosecutor can prove the required mental elements beyond a reasonable doubt. It's difficult to see why additional statutory offense-making is necessary, or why having done so moves one millimeter the constitutional line for reviewing applications of any criminal statute to any particular conduct a prosecutor might undertake to charge. So it would be good to take up directly the question whether there is a there here.
>
>
However, these attributes of Kentucky’s anti-doxing law, particularly in light of the politically-charged circumstances in which it was adopted, raise questions of what it is actually intended to counteract. If interpreted broadly, it is easy to see how the law can have a chilling effect on genuine journalistic activities. Given the Kentucky attitudeof the legislature which adopted the bill, perhaps that chilling effect is the point.
 
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You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable. To restrict access to your paper simply delete the "#" character on the next two lines:
 
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Section IV: Protection or Political Theater?

 
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Note: TWiki has strict formatting rules for preference declarations. Make sure you preserve the three spaces, asterisk, and extra space at the beginning of these lines. If you wish to give access to any other users simply add them to the comma separated ALLOWTOPICVIEW list.
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Laws such as Kentucky’s anti-doxing statute are presented as providing a valuable way for the victims of harassment to strike back against those who maliciously publish their personal information online. For those such as Sandmann (who settled his defamation claims against major media outlets for large amounts) there are existing laws that offer greater protection than the new Anti-Doxing law. In light of this, there is some reason to be skeptical that this law is anything more than political grandstanding by Kentucky politicians eager to highlight the perceived excesses of internet activists and journalists.
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StewartPollockFirstPaper 5 - 25 Apr 2022 - Main.StewartPollock
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StewartPollockFirstPaper 4 - 02 Apr 2022 - Main.EbenMoglen
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META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"
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It is strongly recommended that you include your outline in the body of your essay by using the outline as section titles. The headings below are there to remind you how section and subsection titles are formatted.
 

Sunlight or Stalking? The Legal Ramifications of Doxing

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 Laws such as Kentucky’s anti-doxing statute may provide a valuable way for the victims of harassment to strike back against those who maliciously publish their personal information online. However, by creating a private right of action for the release of publicly available information, they have the potential to create a chilling effect on legitimate journalism. Although the Kentucky law has not yet been tested, a relatively narrow construction, emphasizing the “reasonable fear” language of the statute, is necessary to prevent the bad-faith use of the law to prevent the dissemination of identifying information that serves a legitimate journalistic purpose.
Added:
>
>
This draft is fully polished. The best route to improvement seems to me to ask, "why?" Publishing private information so as to cause harm is the civil wrong Brandeis and Warren were initially writing about more than 125 years ago. It's equally clear that a range of criminal offenses can be charged when a state or federal prosecutor can prove the required mental elements beyond a reasonable doubt. It's difficult to see why additional statutory offense-making is necessary, or why having done so moves one millimeter the constitutional line for reviewing applications of any criminal statute to any particular conduct a prosecutor might undertake to charge. So it would be good to take up directly the question whether there is a there here.

 
You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable. To restrict access to your paper simply delete the "#" character on the next two lines:

StewartPollockFirstPaper 3 - 10 Mar 2022 - Main.StewartPollock
Line: 1 to 1
 
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"

It is strongly recommended that you include your outline in the body of your essay by using the outline as section titles. The headings below are there to remind you how section and subsection titles are formatted.

Line: 10 to 10
 

Introduction

Changed:
<
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Doxing, also known as doxxing, is the act of exposing a web user’s identity and other personal information, such as their location or address. Depending on who you ask, doxing is either an especially malicious form of harassment, or a sometimes-justified act of vigilantism, which can prevent bad actors from using the relative anonymity of the web as a shield for harassment and misconduct. This latter view, which could be summarized as the “sunlight is the best disinfectant” approach, has been at the center of a number of high-profile incidents over the last decade, such as the 2012 doxing of a controversial reddit moderator by the late website Gawker, or the 2016 resignation of an editor for the site Politico after he published the home address of white supremacist Richard Spencer.
>
>
Doxing, also known as doxxing, is the act of exposing a web user’s identity and other personal information, such as their location or address. Depending on who you ask, doxing is either an especially malicious form of harassment, or a sometimes-justified act of vigilantism, which can prevent bad actors from using the relative anonymity of the web as a shield for harassment and misconduct. This latter view, which could be summarized as the “sunlight is the best disinfectant” approach, has been at the center of a number of high-profile incidents over the last decade, such as the 2012 doxing of a controversial reddit moderator by the late website Gawker, or the 2016 resignation of an editor for the site Politico after he published the home address of white supremacist Richard Spencer.
 
Changed:
<
<
Doxing frequently exists in a legal grey area—there is no federal “anti-doxing statute”, but doxing or doxing-esque behavior has been prosecuted under broader federal and state anti-stalking statutes. However, these statutes, which impose criminal penalties, have limited ability to reach individuals who are part of larger campaigns of loosely organized harassment. In particular, statutory language which requires a “course of conduct” by one individual limits the applicability of these laws where many people are involved individually. Kentucky recently passed what has been described as the first true “anti-doxing” statute, which would create both civil and criminal penalties for releasing personally identifying information with the intent to intimidate, abuse, threaten, harass, or frighten individuals. This law, by imposing joint and several liability on would-be doxers, goes further than federal or state laws. However, by moving doxing into the realm of civil law suits, the Kentucky law raises questions about where to draw the line between doxing and legitimate muckraking.
>
>

Section I: Legal Status of Doxing

 
Added:
>
>
Doxing frequently exists in a legal grey area—there is no federal “anti-doxing statute”, but doxing or doxing-esque behavior has been prosecuted under broader federal and state anti-stalking statutes. However, these statutes, which impose criminal penalties, have limited ability to reach individuals who are part of larger campaigns of loosely organized harassment. In particular, statutory language which requires a “course of conduct” by one individual limits the applicability of these laws where many people are involved individually. Kentucky recently passed what has been described as the first true “anti-doxing” statute, which would create both civil and criminal penalties for releasing personally identifying information with the intent to intimidate, abuse, threaten, harass, or frighten individuals. This law, by imposing joint and several liability on would-be doxers, goes further than federal or state laws. However, by moving doxing into the realm of civil law suits, the Kentucky law raises questions about where to draw the line between doxing and legitimate muckraking.
 
Deleted:
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<

Section I: Federal and State Anti-Doxing Laws

 
Changed:
<
<
The federal law which most closely covers doxing behavior is 18 U.S. Code 2261A(2), the federal anti-stalking and cyberstalking statute. This statute makes it a crime to, among other things, use the mail or any electronic communication service to engage in a course of conduct with the “intent to kill, injure, harass, or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person.” Although the language of the statute would seem to cover doxing that is intended to harass or intimidate, in practice courts have set a very high threshold for the applicability of the anti-stalking statute to threats based on revealing personal information. This is because of the specific “course of conduct” language of the statute means that a single threatening post or message is not enough to be prosecutable, even if it contains information that would put the target at risk. As many doxing attacks are coordinated from multiple accounts and users, the language of 2261A(2) makes holding any individual accountable difficult. Furthermore, there is some evidence that federal prosecutors do not have the capacity to utilize 2261A(2) in the doxing context, because there are more pressing cases concerning drugs and terrorism.
>
>

Section II: Federal and State Anti-Doxing Laws

 
Changed:
<
<
Several states have laws analogous to 2261A(2), but they generally suffer from the same enforcement limitations when it comes to doxing carried out by coordinated groups. California’s cybercrime law, codified in California Penal Code 653.2, has been used to prosecute doxing and doxing-like activities. Under this statute, enacted in 2010, this statute makes it a misdemeanor to use electronic communication in order to (1) intentionally cause another person to fear for their safety; (2) to harass, alarm, annoy, terrorize or cause injury to another person without “legitimate purpose”, and (3) to make personally identifiable information viewable or available to download which would be reasonably likely to cause that person or their family harm. This language is broader that the federal statute, however, like the federal law, California’s statute contains “course of conduct” language which makes it hard to utilize against a particular individual who is acting as part of a larger group.
>
>
The federal law which most closely covers doxing behavior is 18 U.S. Code 2261A(2), the federal anti-stalking and cyberstalking statute. This statute makes it a crime to, among other things, use the mail or any electronic communication service to engage in a course of conduct with the “intent to kill, injure, harass, or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person.” Although the language of the statute would seem to cover doxing that is intended to harass or intimidate, in practice courts have set a very high threshold for the applicability of the anti-stalking statute to threats based on revealing personal information. This is because of the specific “course of conduct” language of the statute means that a single threatening post or message is not enough to be prosecutable, even if it contains information that would put the target at risk. As many doxing attacks are coordinated from multiple accounts and users, the language of 2261A(2) makes holding any individual accountable difficult. Furthermore, there is some evidence that federal prosecutors do not have the capacity to utilize 2261A(2) in the doxing context, because there are more pressing cases concerning drugs and terrorism.
 
Added:
>
>
Several states have laws analogous to 2261A(2), but they generally suffer from the same enforcement limitations when it comes to doxing carried out by coordinated groups. California’s cybercrime law, codified in California Penal Code 653.2, has been used to prosecute doxing and doxing-like activities. Under this statute, enacted in 2010, this statute makes it a misdemeanor to use electronic communication in order to (1) intentionally cause another person to fear for their safety; (2) to harass, alarm, annoy, terrorize or cause injury to another person without “legitimate purpose”, and (3) to make personally identifiable information viewable or available to download which would be reasonably likely to cause that person or their family harm. This language is broader that the federal statute, however, like the federal law, California’s statute contains “course of conduct” language which makes it hard to utilize against a particular individual who is acting as part of a larger group.
 
Deleted:
<
<

Section II: Kentucky's "Anti-Doxing" Law

 
Changed:
<
<
In January 2019, a confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. involving a group of high school students from Park Hills, Kentucky (several of whom were wearing “MAGA” hats in support of Donald Trump) went viral on social media, leading to one of the students, Nicholas Sandmann, having much of his personal information revealed. In part in response to this incident, the state of Kentucky passed a law last year intended to provide both civil and criminal penalties for doxing. This bill, signed into law in April 2021, makes it a civil tort to “release of someone’s personal information [in a way that] would cause a reasonable person to be in fear of physical injury to himself or herself, or to his or her immediate family member or household member.” The Kentucky statute has the possibility of being more effective than federal and state laws which criminalize doxing, because it imposes joint and several liability on would-be doxers, rather than requiring a “course of conduct” by one individual. In addition, the Kentucky statutes shifts away from using criminal statutes to punish doxing, and instead creates a private right of action for individuals who are the target of doxing campaigns. Moving anti-doxing into the civil sphere eliminates one of the major problems with using 2261A(2) to prosecute doxing, which is a lack of law enforcement resources. However, these attributes of Kentucky’s anti-doxing law, particularly in light of the politically-charged circumstances in which it was adopted, raise questions of a potential chilling effect such a law could have on legitimate journalism.
>
>

Section III: Kentucky's "Anti-Doxing" Law

 
Added:
>
>
In January 2019, a confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. involving a group of high school students from Park Hills, Kentucky (several of whom were wearing “MAGA” hats in support of Donald Trump) went viral on social media, leading to one of the students, Nicholas Sandmann, having much of his personal information revealed. In part in response to this incident, the state of Kentucky passed a law last year intended to provide both civil and criminal penalties for doxing. This bill, signed into law in April 2021, makes it a civil tort to “release of someone’s personal information [in a way that] would cause a reasonable person to be in fear of physical injury to himself or herself, or to his or her immediate family member or household member.” The Kentucky statute has the possibility of being more effective than federal and state laws which criminalize doxing, because it imposes joint and several liability on would-be doxers, rather than requiring a “course of conduct” by one individual. In addition, the Kentucky statutes shifts away from using criminal statutes to punish doxing, and instead creates a private right of action for individuals who are the target of doxing campaigns. Moving anti-doxing into the civil sphere eliminates one of the major problems with using 2261A(2) to prosecute doxing, which is a lack of law enforcement resources. However, these attributes of Kentucky’s anti-doxing law, particularly in light of the politically-charged circumstances in which it was adopted, raise questions of a potential chilling effect such a law could have on legitimate journalism.
 
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Section III: Potential Issues

 
Added:
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>

Section IV: Potential Issues

 
Added:
>
>
Laws such as Kentucky’s anti-doxing statute may provide a valuable way for the victims of harassment to strike back against those who maliciously publish their personal information online. However, by creating a private right of action for the release of publicly available information, they have the potential to create a chilling effect on legitimate journalism. Although the Kentucky law has not yet been tested, a relatively narrow construction, emphasizing the “reasonable fear” language of the statute, is necessary to prevent the bad-faith use of the law to prevent the dissemination of identifying information that serves a legitimate journalistic purpose.
 
You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable.

StewartPollockFirstPaper 2 - 09 Mar 2022 - Main.StewartPollock
Line: 1 to 1
 
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"

It is strongly recommended that you include your outline in the body of your essay by using the outline as section titles. The headings below are there to remind you how section and subsection titles are formatted.

Line: 10 to 10
 

Introduction

Changed:
<
<
Doxing, also known as doxxing, is the act of exposing a web user’s identity and other personal information, such as their location or address. Depending on who you ask, doxing is either an especially malicious form of harassment, or a sometimes-justified act of vigilantism, which can prevent bad actors from using the relative anonymity of the web as a shield. This latter view, which could be summarized as the “sunlight is the best disinfectant” approach, has been at the center of a number of high-profile incidents over the last decade, such as the 2012 doxing of a controversial reddit moderator by the late website Gawker, or the 2016 resignation of an editor for the site Politico after he published the home address of white supremacist Richard Spencer.
>
>
Doxing, also known as doxxing, is the act of exposing a web user’s identity and other personal information, such as their location or address. Depending on who you ask, doxing is either an especially malicious form of harassment, or a sometimes-justified act of vigilantism, which can prevent bad actors from using the relative anonymity of the web as a shield for harassment and misconduct. This latter view, which could be summarized as the “sunlight is the best disinfectant” approach, has been at the center of a number of high-profile incidents over the last decade, such as the 2012 doxing of a controversial reddit moderator by the late website Gawker, or the 2016 resignation of an editor for the site Politico after he published the home address of white supremacist Richard Spencer.
 
Changed:
<
<
Doxing frequently exists in a legal grey area—there is no specific state or federal “anti-doxing” statute, but doxing or doxing-esque behavior has been prosecuted under state and federal laws which criminalize harassment, stalking, and intimidation. The relatively limited scope of these prohibitions as they relate to doxing reflects both the relatively new nature of doxing, as well as the fine line between legitimate muckraking and harassment.
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Doxing frequently exists in a legal grey area—there is no federal “anti-doxing statute”, but doxing or doxing-esque behavior has been prosecuted under broader federal and state anti-stalking statutes. However, these statutes, which impose criminal penalties, have limited ability to reach individuals who are part of larger campaigns of loosely organized harassment. In particular, statutory language which requires a “course of conduct” by one individual limits the applicability of these laws where many people are involved individually. Kentucky recently passed what has been described as the first true “anti-doxing” statute, which would create both civil and criminal penalties for releasing personally identifying information with the intent to intimidate, abuse, threaten, harass, or frighten individuals. This law, by imposing joint and several liability on would-be doxers, goes further than federal or state laws. However, by moving doxing into the realm of civil law suits, the Kentucky law raises questions about where to draw the line between doxing and legitimate muckraking.
 
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Section I: Federal Anti-Doxing Law

 
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The federal law which most closely covers doxing behavior is 18 U.S. Code 2261A(2), the federal anti-stalking and cyberstalking statute. This statute makes it a crime to, among other things, use the mail or any electronic communication service to engage in a course of conduct with the “intent to kill, injure, harass, or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person.” Although the language of the statute would seem to cover doxing that is intended to harass or intimidate, in practice courts have set a very high threshold for the applicability of the anti-stalking statute to threats based on revealing personal information.
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Section I: Federal and State Anti-Doxing Laws

 
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This is because of the specific “course of conduct” language of the statute means that a single threatening post or message is not enough to be prosecutable, even if it contains information that would put the target at risk. As many doxing attacks are coordinated from multiple accounts and users, the language of 2261A(2) makes holding any individual accountable difficult. Furthermore, federal prosecutors do not have the capacity to utilize 2261A(2) in the doxing context, because there are more pressing cases concerning drugs and terrorism. language which makes it hard to utilize against a particular individual who is acting as part of a larger group.
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The federal law which most closely covers doxing behavior is 18 U.S. Code 2261A(2), the federal anti-stalking and cyberstalking statute. This statute makes it a crime to, among other things, use the mail or any electronic communication service to engage in a course of conduct with the “intent to kill, injure, harass, or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person.” Although the language of the statute would seem to cover doxing that is intended to harass or intimidate, in practice courts have set a very high threshold for the applicability of the anti-stalking statute to threats based on revealing personal information. This is because of the specific “course of conduct” language of the statute means that a single threatening post or message is not enough to be prosecutable, even if it contains information that would put the target at risk. As many doxing attacks are coordinated from multiple accounts and users, the language of 2261A(2) makes holding any individual accountable difficult. Furthermore, there is some evidence that federal prosecutors do not have the capacity to utilize 2261A(2) in the doxing context, because there are more pressing cases concerning drugs and terrorism.
 
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Section II: State Anti-Doxing Laws and Problems

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Several states have laws analogous to 2261A(2), but they generally suffer from the same enforcement limitations when it comes to doxing carried out by coordinated groups. California’s cybercrime law, codified in California Penal Code 653.2, has been used to prosecute doxing and doxing-like activities. Under this statute, enacted in 2010, this statute makes it a misdemeanor to use electronic communication in order to (1) intentionally cause another person to fear for their safety; (2) to harass, alarm, annoy, terrorize or cause injury to another person without “legitimate purpose”, and (3) to make personally identifiable information viewable or available to download which would be reasonably likely to cause that person or their family harm. This language is broader that the federal statute, however, like the federal law, California’s statute contains “course of conduct” language which makes it hard to utilize against a particular individual who is acting as part of a larger group.
 
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Although no state has a specific law targeting doxing, California’s cybercrime law, codified in California Penal Code 653.2, has been used to prosecute doxing and doxing-like activities. Under this statute, enacted in 2010, this statute makes it a misdemeanor to use electronic communication in order to (1) intentionally cause another person to fear for their safety; (2) to harass, alarm, annoy, terrorize or cause injury to another person without “legitimate purpose”, and (3) to make personally identifiable information viewable or available to download which would be reasonably likely to cause that person or their family harm. This language is broader that the federal statute, however, like the federal law, California’s statute contains “course of conduct” language which makes it hard to utilize against a particular individual who is acting as part of a larger group.
 
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Section III: Kentucky's Approach

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Section II: Kentucky's "Anti-Doxing" Law

In January 2019, a confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. involving a group of high school students from Park Hills, Kentucky (several of whom were wearing “MAGA” hats in support of Donald Trump) went viral on social media, leading to one of the students, Nicholas Sandmann, having much of his personal information revealed. In part in response to this incident, the state of Kentucky passed a law last year intended to provide both civil and criminal penalties for doxing. This bill, signed into law in April 2021, makes it a civil tort to “release of someone’s personal information [in a way that] would cause a reasonable person to be in fear of physical injury to himself or herself, or to his or her immediate family member or household member.” The Kentucky statute has the possibility of being more effective than federal and state laws which criminalize doxing, because it imposes joint and several liability on would-be doxers, rather than requiring a “course of conduct” by one individual. In addition, the Kentucky statutes shifts away from using criminal statutes to punish doxing, and instead creates a private right of action for individuals who are the target of doxing campaigns. Moving anti-doxing into the civil sphere eliminates one of the major problems with using 2261A(2) to prosecute doxing, which is a lack of law enforcement resources. However, these attributes of Kentucky’s anti-doxing law, particularly in light of the politically-charged circumstances in which it was adopted, raise questions of a potential chilling effect such a law could have on legitimate journalism.

Section III: Potential Issues

 
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Conclusion

 
You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable.

StewartPollockFirstPaper 1 - 09 Mar 2022 - Main.StewartPollock
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It is strongly recommended that you include your outline in the body of your essay by using the outline as section titles. The headings below are there to remind you how section and subsection titles are formatted.

Sunlight or Stalking? The Legal Ramifications of Doxing

-- By StewartPollock - 09 Mar 2022

Introduction

Doxing, also known as doxxing, is the act of exposing a web user’s identity and other personal information, such as their location or address. Depending on who you ask, doxing is either an especially malicious form of harassment, or a sometimes-justified act of vigilantism, which can prevent bad actors from using the relative anonymity of the web as a shield. This latter view, which could be summarized as the “sunlight is the best disinfectant” approach, has been at the center of a number of high-profile incidents over the last decade, such as the 2012 doxing of a controversial reddit moderator by the late website Gawker, or the 2016 resignation of an editor for the site Politico after he published the home address of white supremacist Richard Spencer.

Doxing frequently exists in a legal grey area—there is no specific state or federal “anti-doxing” statute, but doxing or doxing-esque behavior has been prosecuted under state and federal laws which criminalize harassment, stalking, and intimidation. The relatively limited scope of these prohibitions as they relate to doxing reflects both the relatively new nature of doxing, as well as the fine line between legitimate muckraking and harassment.

Section I: Federal Anti-Doxing Law

The federal law which most closely covers doxing behavior is 18 U.S. Code 2261A(2), the federal anti-stalking and cyberstalking statute. This statute makes it a crime to, among other things, use the mail or any electronic communication service to engage in a course of conduct with the “intent to kill, injure, harass, or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person.” Although the language of the statute would seem to cover doxing that is intended to harass or intimidate, in practice courts have set a very high threshold for the applicability of the anti-stalking statute to threats based on revealing personal information.

This is because of the specific “course of conduct” language of the statute means that a single threatening post or message is not enough to be prosecutable, even if it contains information that would put the target at risk. As many doxing attacks are coordinated from multiple accounts and users, the language of 2261A(2) makes holding any individual accountable difficult. Furthermore, federal prosecutors do not have the capacity to utilize 2261A(2) in the doxing context, because there are more pressing cases concerning drugs and terrorism. language which makes it hard to utilize against a particular individual who is acting as part of a larger group.

Section II: State Anti-Doxing Laws and Problems

Although no state has a specific law targeting doxing, California’s cybercrime law, codified in California Penal Code 653.2, has been used to prosecute doxing and doxing-like activities. Under this statute, enacted in 2010, this statute makes it a misdemeanor to use electronic communication in order to (1) intentionally cause another person to fear for their safety; (2) to harass, alarm, annoy, terrorize or cause injury to another person without “legitimate purpose”, and (3) to make personally identifiable information viewable or available to download which would be reasonably likely to cause that person or their family harm. This language is broader that the federal statute, however, like the federal law, California’s statute contains “course of conduct” language which makes it hard to utilize against a particular individual who is acting as part of a larger group.

Section III: Kentucky's Approach

Conclusion


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