Can doxxing get you arrested?
If you follow the news, you may remember a public altercation that happened this summer between the New York Times and Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
On his show, Carlson reported that the New York Times was planning to reveal his private address to the public. He went on to ask on the show if freelance reporter Murray Carpenter – the author of the story – would appreciate having his private information revealed.
Carlson’s followers on Twitter did just that and published Carpenter’s address and contact information online.
Moreover, Tucker Carlson is no stranger to what can happen. In November of 2018, Antifa members showed up at Carlson’s home address, broke down his oak front door, and can be heard on security footage talking about a pipe bomb while Carlson’s wife was home alone, hiding in the pantry.
What Is Doxxing?
Doxxing is the act of publishing private information about another person:
- Private home phone number
- Cell phone numbers
- Home address
- Employment address
The person publishing the private information usually does so out of a sense of revenge. Additionally, an individual publishes it with a misguided sense of social justice – generally to someone who says something politically incorrect publicly. The term comes from an abbreviation of the word “documents,” or docs.
The motivation for doxxing is to direct negative consequences to the other person. For example,
- Public shame
- Family fracture
- Job loss
- Physical threats
- Attacks & Murders
All of these things have happened to people as a result of doxxing.
Is Doxxing Illegal?
Yes. Doxxing is illegal. Two federal laws cover behavior described as “doxxing.”
18 USC § 119 Making Public Restricted Personal Information. This applies to an officer or employee of the United States or any United States government agency like jurors, witnesses, an officer of a court, state or local officer or employee.
18 U.S. Code § 2261A provides:
“Whoever…with the intent to kill, injure, harass, intimidate, or place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person, uses the mail, any interactive computer service or electronic communication service or electronic communication system of interstate commerce, or any other facility of interstate or foreign commerce to engage in a course of conduct that— places that person in reasonable fear of the death of or serious bodily injury to a person …; or causes, attempts to cause, or would be reasonably expected to cause substantial emotional distress to a person shall be punished as provided in section 2261(b) of this title.”
Doxxing Penalties in Michigan
In September 2020, Michigan lawmakers introduced House Bill 6206 to address doxxing. It proposes a five-year felony with up to $5,000 in fines if the doxxing is in “a manner that involves a continued pattern of harassing or intimidating behavior and by that violation causes serious injury to the victim.”
Furthermore, if the act of doxxing causes a victim’s death, the proposed penalty is up to ten years and a fine of up to $10.000.
Criminal Defense Attorney in Michigan
This year, a congressional intern was arrested for doxxing South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch. You might think this behavior will have no consequences. However, you could potentially face prison time if you are caught.
In conclusion, if you have been arrested for doxxing, contact my office today.