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Is Doxxing Illegal in Australia? [The Definitive Guide]

Written by, Alex Bosnjak

Updated May, 25, 2022

Doxing or doxxing is collecting someone’s personal information and releasing it online without their knowledge or consent, such as their name, address, phone numbers, and financial information. It can be very harmful to the targeted person, and it can also lead to legal issues.

In this article, I’ll provide an answer to the question, “Is doxxing illegal in Australia?”. In addition, I’ll talk about how doxing works and some prevention tips so it doesn’t happen to you.

What Is Doxxing?

Doxing (dropping documents, dropping docs (dox, doxing)) is the act of finding and publishing private or identifying information about someone without their consent. It’s usually done to harass, intimidate, or embarrass the victim.

Doxing attacks can be grouped into these categories:

  • Posting the information about someone’s identity — One of the most common examples of doxing someone is when a person’s name and address are released.
  • Publishing personal data about someone anonymous — When a doxer publishes personal details of a person who isn’t a public figure, with the idea of harming the victim. 
  • Revealing someone’s financial information — An example of this would be if a person’s credit card number or bank account information is published online.
  • Posting online personal details that can be damaging to the individual — If doxers post online a person’s medical records, social security number or sensitive information, which can destroy someone’s reputation.

It’s good to know that in 2020 25% of all online scams in Australia included the loss of personal information, which is a 6 per cent increase compared to 2019. And, according to some statistics, that number will only rise in the future.

Doxxing Examples

There have been some high-profile doxing cases in recent years. Here are two examples:

  • In 2014, Gamergate targeted female video game developers and journalists with doxing and death threats.
  • In 2018, Jackson Cosko, an ex-member of the Democratic Party, posted online the numbers and addresses of three Republican Senators in the US.

How Does Doxxing Work?

There are several ways that doxers can collect information about their victims:

  • Stalking Someone on Social Media Platforms 

The most common way doxers collect information is by stalking someone on social media platforms. They might look through old posts and comments to find information or search for photos containing GPS data to figure out where the victim lives or where it goes.

  • Looking Through Public Records

Doxers use online public records to find property records, court documents, birth certificates, marriage licenses or other licences.

  • WHOIS Lookup

A WHOIS lookup is a way to find out who owns a domain name. In addition, doxers can use this tool to find the victim’s other personal information. 

  • Reverse Mobile Phone Lookup 

This service is used for finding who owns a particular phone number. Sometimes, doxers can find more information, such as an address.

  • IP Tracking 

Hackers have ways to find out your IP address and then your other personal data.

  • Phishing

Phishing is a way to trick someone into giving up their personal information. Doxxers will create fake websites or send emails that look like they’re from a legitimate source. Also, they send text messages or make phone calls pretending to be from a bank or government agency.

Once doxers have gathered enough information, they’ll publish it online on a website or forum, or they can even send it directly to the victim’s family or employer.

What to Do If You’re a Victim of Doxing?

If you think you might be a victim of doxing, there are some things you can do:

  • Change your passwords — This is crucial if you believe your accounts have been hacked.
  • Save all the screenshots as evidence that you can show to the police.
  • Contact platforms where your information has been shared — If your home address has been shared on a website, you can contact the website and ask for it to be removed.
  • Contact the police — In cases involving releasing home addresses or bank details, doxing is against the law.
  • Get support from friends or family — Doxing can be a stressful experience, and talking to someone you trust can help you cope with what’s happened.

Prevention Tips

The best way to prevent doxing from happening to you is to be careful about the information you share online. 

Aside from being careful, here are some tips you can benefit from:

  • Use a VPN A VPN (a virtual private network) uses an encryption method and hides your IP address which makes it more difficult for doxers to track you down.
  • Don’t post personal information online that you wouldn’t want a stranger to know, such as a home address or a phone number.
  • Use strong passwords and don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. For better protection, people today are using password managers. Also, you shouldn’t use the same username for each platform.
  • Go through the privacy settings on each social media platform to ensure that your information won’t be visible to everyone.
  • Learn how to recognise phishing websites or emails — They look very similar to the websites they’re copying, but mostly with poorer design or other flaws. So, be mindful of what you click from unknown senders. Additionally, you should use antivirus software if someone wants to install malware or some other cyber threat on your computer. 
  • Enable multi-factor authentication Having this security measure on your accounts will make it difficult for someone to gain access.
  • Set up Google Alerts — This can help you track what information is being shared about you online.

Is Doxxing Illegal in Australia?

It isn’t currently illegal in Australia if a doxer finds the information lawfully, but there are laws for prosecuting someone for harassment, stalking or threats.

Namely, Section 474.17 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code counts harassing, offending, and threatening as an offence if a carriage service (the internet) was being used. 

In addition, under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act of 1998, publishing personal details is considered a transgression.

At the beginning of the article, I provided some examples where the action was taken against doxers, but there were more unverified cases.

Conclusion

Doxing is a growing problem in the world. While there are no specific laws against doxing, it can be considered a form of stalking, harassment, or cyberbullying and is punishable by law. Therefore, if you are a victim of doxing, it is essential in some cases to report it to the police and take measures to protect your personal information.

FAQ

What counts as doxxing?

Doxxing generally means releasing personally identifiable information (PII), such as someone’s full name, home address, email address, or phone number, without their consent. In some cases, doxing may also include sensitive financial or medical information or information that could be used to blackmail someone.

Is Doxxing punishable?

Is doxxing illegal in Australia? While there is no specific law against doxing in Australia, it can be considered a form of stalking, harassment, or cyberbullying, which are punishable.