Doxxing could be a Federal Crime soon


Doxxing, is the Internet-based practice of researching and broadcasting private or identifiable information of either an individual or organization. Such information could be personally identifiable information, that is, information which can be used on its own or with other information to identify, contact, or locate a single person, or to identify an individual in context.

This information can easily be acquired by any individual because we willingly post both personal and public activities on social media, so an individual could get our information by simply searching publicly available databases and social media websites (like Facebook), hacking, and also social engineering – which refers to psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information

Doxing may be carried out for various reasons, including to aid law enforcement, business analysis, extortion, coercion, harassment, online shaming, and vigilante justice, and because it is one of the many online harassment tactics that is considered illegal under state criminal laws, soon this act will be criminalized.

Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA), Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Patrick Meehan (R-PA) have sponsored a bill to criminalize online harassment tactics like doxxing, swatting, sextortion, and revenge porn at the federal level.

The fact of the matter is, the laws governing sextortion, doxxing, and swatting were written when computers didn’t fit in our pockets, phones were plugged into walls, and texting required a stamp – Susan Brooks.

The proposed legislation is titled Online Safety Modernization Act of 2017, and was positioned as a roadmap for Congress to “address online safety and combat the rise in online crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls.” Additionally, the bill particularly mentions sextortion, doxxing, swatting, and revenge porn.

Revenge porn in particular has already been criminalized by several states across the country, in states like California, revenge porn distributors now face up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The passage of this bill made California to be the second state in the U.S. to ban the act of putting intimate content of an ex on the internet so as to humiliate them. New Jersey, was the first to classify revenge porn as a felony.

So far, it isn’t clear at this point in time if all major tech companies will come out in support of the bill, but since it’s an offence, they definitely will.

Doxing or doxxing, is openly revealing and publicizing records of an individual, which were previously or difficult to obtain. It comes from a spelling alteration of the abbreviation “docs” (for “documents”) and refers to “compiling and releasing a dossier of personal information on someone”.

Back in history, Doxware is a cryptovirology attack invented by Adam Young and further developed with Moti Yung that carries out doxing extortion via malware. It was first presented at West Point in 2003. The attack is rooted in game theory and was originally dubbed “non-zero sum games and survivable malware”.

Doxware is the converse of ransomware. In a ransomware attack (originally called cryptoviral extortion), the malware encrypts the victim’s data and demands payment to provide the needed decryption key. In the doxware cryptovirology attack, the attacker or malware steals the victim’s data and threatens to publish it unless a fee is paid.

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