Technology continually gives us new ways to connect, learn and share, and life wouldn’t be the same for most of us without its convenience.
But it also exposes us to certain crimes, and it’s important to understand these risks so you know what you can do if you become a victim. Here, we’ll cover the act of “doxxing”, including what constitutes an offence and how it can be punished under the law in Singapore.
What is Doxxing?
Doxxing, or doxing, is the act of publishing a person’s personal information of a person or someone related to that person to harass, threaten or incite violence against them. The identifying information could be their:
- Date of birth
- Residential address
- Email address
- Telephone number or Contact details
- National registration identity card number
- Family background
- Place of employment or education
- Passport number
- Photos or videos of the person
- Anything else that may be used to identify the person or someone related to them
The term doxxing comes from dox, which is short for documents. The act is usually carried out online through social media and public forums. However, it can also be perpetrated in other ways such as with graffiti, letterbox drops and public demonstrations.
As of 1 January 2020, doxxing is officially classified as an offence in Singapore under the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA).
Types of Doxxing offences in Singapore
We can further classify Doxxingg into different types based on the intent the Doxxer has towards the victims. Three types of doxxing are considered offences under Singaporean law:
To Cause Harassment, Alarm Or Distress
In this form of doxxing, personal information such as addresses, phone numbers, or workplace details are disclosed online without consent, often leading to emotional distress and a violation of personal privacy.
For example, sharing a person’s mobile phone number in a social media post with insulting remarks intended to harass them can be considered an offence. This allows it for others to make fake phone calls and cause further distress for the person related to the victim.
A fine of up to $ 5,000 and/or jail for up to 6 months.
To Cause Fear Of Violence
When doxxing escalates to the point where it causes fear or the potential for physical harm, it poses a significant threat to individual and public safety. This could involve releasing sensitive information like real-time locations or work schedules, making the victim vulnerable to stalking or other forms of violence.
For example, publishing personal information such as an individual’s place of work or home address on social media with a threatening message causes them to fear violence.
A fine of up to $ 5,000 and/or jail for up to 12 months.
To Incite Violence
The most extreme form of doxxing involves publishing personal information to incite violence against an individual. This takes doxxing from harassment or intimidation to an act that could be part of a larger criminal conspiracy to facilitate violence and cause physical harm.
For example, revealing an individual’s home address on an online forum or social media platform and encouraging others to harm them. This could extend to their family members to fear for their safety.
A fine of up to $ 5,000 and/or jail for up to 12 months. These three types of doxxing are closely related, but some important differences exist.
Another crucial point to note is that intent only needs to be proven under the first type of doxxing listed above. This means that under the second and third definitions, the act may be an offence if it was likely or foreseeable that the victim would fear or be subject to violence – even if the person who published the information didn’t intend such an outcome.
What To Do If You Are A Victim
Being doxxed can be highly distressing, particularly when you fear or are the victim of violence. Depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible to take legal action against the perpetrator.
In any case, the first and most important thing to do is take screenshots of the published information and any other evidence as soon as possible in case it is hidden or removed. This may include text messages between you and the offender or any relevant comments they have made online.
The next step is to speak with an experienced lawyer in Singapore who, if you have a strong case, will help you file a police report and lawsuit against the person who doxxed you and apply for a protection order if necessary. This order needs to be submitted to the state Courts, and the police may need to become involved in more serious incidents.
Conclusion On The Meaning Of Doxing And Its Types
The act of doxxing has evolved from just online harassment into a pressing social issue. Singapore has responded with a robust legal framework to penalise perpetrators and protect victims. From causing emotional distress and harassment to inciting violence, doxxing can devastate individuals and communities.
In Singapore, the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA) is a cornerstone for tackling various forms of doxxing and online harassment, supplemented by other statutes that address more severe consequences like physical violence and intimidation. While these laws offer a means to hold offenders accountable, the evolving nature of online behaviours calls for ongoing public awareness and legal scrutiny.
This makes it crucial for both legal practitioners and the general public to understand the intricacies and consequences of different types of doxxing. Remember, you should always take care when posting your personal information online so that you won’t be easily found.
Have you been doxxed or been accused of doxxing? The experienced criminal litigation and dispute resolution lawyers at Tembusu Law in Singapore can help – contact us now.
Frequently Asked Questions About The Meaning Of Doxxing And Its Types
Can I Be Charged For Doxxing Even If I Didn’t Intend To Harm Anyone?
Yes, you can still be charged if you publish personal information which causes them harassment, alarm, or distress, even if there is no actual intent to harm them.
Is Sharing Public Information Considered Doxxing?
Sharing information that is already publicly available could still constitute doxxing if done with the intent to harass, alarm, or distress someone.
Are There Any Defences Against Doxxing Charges?
Defences could include lack of intent to harm or the absence of actual harm caused, but the specifics would depend on the case. Legal representation is strongly advised for anyone facing such charges.
How Do Singapore’s Doxxing Laws Apply To Minors?
Minors can also be held accountable under Singaporean law. Still, if found guilty they are typically processed through the juvenile justice system, which focuses more on rehabilitation than punishment.