Doxing information is not a household term. It is slowly becoming part of the daily conversation especially by people who have had their personal information publicized online. Internet information that is available to read on the Internet about anyone is surprising. The Internet hosts way too much information. All users are contributing to its data. The digital life style we are all living just gets more cluttered. Though, there is a lot to be said about the amount of personal information that is available on the Internet, many just cannot fathom that their information is of such import to have it recorded and made available.
Doxing has become easier. The ease in which the information can be accessed surprises many. On the other hand, it goes without saying about how freely users of social media platforms freely disclose their daily routine activities, likes and dislikes, reviews, recent purchases, vacations spots, restaurants visited, and so on. Those users are regularly willing to accept a transparent life style. They see the social media information as harmless. But what they are slowly realizing is that all that data creates a publicly available profile, as all the activity is culled. Placing that information together with identifying credentials and publishing it online can be extremely troubling, and rightly so.
Doxing is almost an epidemic. Doxing has become a weapon of choice in politics, social exchanges from relationships gone sour, and even in business. Doxing gets stronger and more dangerous when privately identifiable information (PII) is put together with profiling data.
What others do with the available information on the Internet about someone presents the malady of doxing. Why would it be important to anyone to know that an individual had a speeding ticket fifteen years ago, other than to a potential employer for employment involving driving? Why would anyone be interested that someone filed bankruptcy, other than an employer or a financial institution resorted to for a home loan? There is indeed a lot that is unsaid about Internet doxing and where the line crosses into cyber bullying and possible online defamation.
Doxing goes beyond the simple online information that is posted. But with the amount of personal activity information that people post about themselves online how can they expect to have any expectation of privacy.
One can reasonably consider that the reporting of the researched personal information is harmless. But with that conception there are two concerns. What is the motive for posting someone’s information on the Internet? What basis can the reader have that the information posted on the Internet about someone is factual and accurate? These questions raise defamation and invasion of privacy questions. Negligently posting on the Internet false information about someone is a no-no.
Doxing, retrieving otherwise private information about someone on the Internet can be considered a form of harassment or cyber bullying. States across the United States have promulgated such provisions addressing cyberbullying and online harassment. Both California and New Jersey have vehemently addressed the problem with using the Internet to harass someone and New Jersey has even considered it a crime. It is also outlandish to collect a person’s home address, date of birth, and other personal information through an unauthorized background check and drop it into the Internet realm without permission. Such an act could face serious charges.
Doxing can have an indelible impact on someone’s life. With the essence of freedom of speech, there will be people taking revenge resorting to doxing, gaining in polls in politics by doxing, or seeking to get rid of their business competition by doxing. It is vicious and the law is reacting to this phenomenon of human social behavior to protect victims of doxing. Unfortunately, the end of its abuse is not in sight.