One of the new weapons of choice for those who are upset or angry with someone is doxxing. But, is it legal to doxx someone in New York State?
What Is Doxxing?
If you're not really computer-savvy or on social media a lot, you may not know what "doxxing" is. Doxxing is often used as a weapon when people have disagreements online. Many "Karens" have found themselves doxxed. Former U.S. President Donald Trump doxxed another former president, Barack Obama, recently. According to the U.S. News,
To dox someone means to release their personal or private information that may prove harmful or embarrassing. This can happen in the real world, but the internet has made it easier both to find and release this information to a wide audience. Doxxing may reveal someone's personal information like their home address or workplace, social security or phone number, private correspondence or pictures, criminal history, IP address, or other details.
What Does New York Law Say About Doxxing Someone?
During the 2021-2022 Legislative Session, the New York Senate introduced Bill S7646, which would address doxxing legally. If passed, the bill would establish,
the crime of doxing of an individual where a person knowingly makes restricted personal information about an individual publicly available with certain intent.
However, the bill did not make it out of committee during the session. It's curious as to why it didn't move forward, knowing that many politicians have been doxxed.
In the 2023-24 session, it seems the NYS Senate has decided to focus its anti-doxxing efforts on only police officers, peace officers, or state officers. Several bills have been introduced this session making it a crime to doxx those people specifically.
Can You Legally Doxx A Person In New York State?
With no specific laws passed, as of now, to protect anyone - the average person, law enforcement office, or political figure - from doxxing in New York, does that make it legal? According to Koch Law, people may still legally be protected if they are a victim of doxxing,
Most of the time doxing will be covered under New York’s harassment laws. You can also acquire charges under New York’s stalking laws. If you accessed any sites illegally while digging up your information then the prosecutor will have the option to charge you under New York’s hacking laws. The law recognizes that the criminal infliction of emotional distress is both possible and capable of leading to real, physical harm.
A New York man was federally convicted of doxxing in 2016,
Mir Islam, 22, of New York, N.Y., was sentenced today to 24 months in prison on three federal charges stemming from a conspiracy to commit various crimes related to the “swatting” and “doxing” of dozens of victims, and from a false bomb threat made against a university in Arizona and a pattern of online harassment constituting cyber-stalking against a university student, all occurring between February and September 2013.
While there is no law against doxxing on the books in New York State, it seems you could be found in violation of other laws or federal laws by publicly releasing someone's personal information.
***This article is not intended to provide legal advice or counsel.