New Texas law cracks down on ‘doxxing’
Doxxing is the unlawful disclosure of an address or phone number online with the intent to cause harm.
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - According to House Bill 611 written by Representative Giovanni Capriglione and Representative Josey Garcia, “a person commits an offense if the person posts on a publicly accessible website the residence address or telephone number of an individual with the intent to cause harm or a threat of harm to the individual or a member of the individual’s family or household.”
The word “doxxing” is derived from “dropping docs” with reference to people publishing or posting private information about others, including addresses and phone numbers.
Starting September 1, 2023, doxxing will be a class B misdemeanor. If the case escalates, and there is physical harm inflicted on the victim or the victim’s family/household, the offense can become a class A misdemeanor.
“What everybody is seeing in law enforcement or in the legal world is that this stuff is on the rise, and it’s not going away, in fact it’s getting worse,” said Tyler attorney Justin Roberts.
He said incidences of doxxing have become especially common in younger generations thanks to social media.
“Doxxing is definitely a form of cyber bullying, and this law was specifically intended to cover two specific types of cyber bullying in the sense of releasing the address or the phone number of the individual, so, there are cyber bullying laws in Texas, and this is meant to be a compliment to that to make sure that these specific types of attacks on people are criminalized,” he added.
It is important to note that prosecutors in any future doxxing case have to prove something Roberts said is not always easy.
“The problem they’ll run into is proving the intent to cause harm, and that’s always a tricky thing to try to prove what was in someone’s mind when they released information to the public.”
According to SafeHome.org, over 40 million Americans said they “personally experienced doxxing in 2022.” Their research found that nearly one fourth of perpetrators already know their targets, and Roberts said it is often a rash reaction to a personal dispute.
“Typically, or most of the time, it seems that doxxing is a result of an emotional interaction, and this law, I think, does a good job by going after the intent of the individual to do harm, so it’s capturing those people who are actually trying to do something in the moment to really do damage to someone’s life or their family,” said Roberts.
Offenders of this law can spend up to six months in jail for a class B misdemeanor and up to one year in jail for a class A misdemeanor, according to Tyler Police Department Public Information Officer Andy Erbaugh.
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