Criminal Defense

What is Doxxing in California?

December 20, 2022 by Anastasiia Ponomarova in Criminal Defense  
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What is Doxxing?

Doxxing or doxing, an abbreviation for “dropping papers,” occurs when an attacker collects personal information on an individual and then makes that information public to irritate, harass, intimidate, or stalk the victim. Criminals use these tactics to single out and embarrass their victims in front of the public. For instance, they may publicize law enforcement officials’ names or demonstrate their hacking prowess.

Attacks using the “doxxing” technique may vary from the relatively harmless (false email sign-ups or pizza delivery) to the harmful (identity theft, threats, various types of cyberbullying, even in-person harassment). There have been death threats and internet mobs harassing celebrities, politicians, and journalists who were doxed. The trend has even reached high-ranking corporate officials.

What is the Procedure for Doxxing?

The bad guys use different methods to dox people. They may break into systems, engage in social engineering, and steal sensitive data. With enough time and effort, they can hack into a victim’s email and get sensitive data. They may access several accounts with the same email address and password. Social networking, online storage, and even financial data may all be compromised. Victims’ Department of Homeland Security credentials has been compromised in certain situations.

The bad guys use data brokers to compile data from various sources. Public or private information is at the brokers’ disposal and may be purchased by interested parties. Regarding sensitive material, experts advise keeping photos and videos off social media and the internet. If a piece of information may be exploited to access your online accounts, you should not publish or share it publicly. If you provide personal information online, such as your date of birth or your pet’s name, it might be used to guess your answers to security questions. All websites and social media should have their privacy settings enabled, as recommended by experts. Having your personal information removed from data brokers’ databases can be done, but it will take time.

The victim of doxing may have to cope with the fallout from the unwarranted publication of sensitive personal information (such as name, address, place of job, financial records, and criminal history) about them online. These actions violate local, state, and federal laws.

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The Anti-Doxxing Law of California

Some of California’s state and federal anti-doxing statutes are as follows: Cyberstalking is illegal under PC 653.2. California has enacted this regulation to combat online abuse like “doxing.” Anyone caught using a computer, phone, or tablet to do the following acts will face criminal penalties.

  • Induce irrational dread in someone else.
  • Senselessly harass, frighten, or harm another individual.
  • Make accessible for viewing or downloading electronic communications or other identifiable information with a harassing intent

A maximum fine of up to $1,000 or up to a year in county prison applies for breaking this statute.
Federal law prohibits stalking in all forms, as outlined in Section 2261A of Title 18 of the United States Code (2015). A charge may be brought against anybody under this law. Stalking was the primary intent of this federal statute, which is enforced only by federal courts. However, according to the phrasing, it may also be used to punish cyberstalking and doxing.

How to Avoid Being “Doxxed.”

  1. Change your settings on social media:
    • Make sure your usernames and handles are kept private.
    • Take out any specific addresses, places of work, and locations from your accounts.
    • Don’t discuss anything that could be used against you, like your address, workplace, or phone number.
  2. Use a VPN.
    • If you must use public Wi-Fi, turn off the feature on your device that lets it share its network with other people.
    • Use strong passwords.
    • Keep WHOIS from seeing information about domain registration (a database of all registered domain names on the web).

California Doxing Defenses That May Be Used

A criminal defense lawyer investigates the details of the doxing allegations. The lawyer will use the information gathered to craft a defense against the doxing accusations. Possible California doxing protections include:

  • Inability to prove that you are the source of information uploaded.
  • You had that person’s permission to share someone’s private information.
  • Absence of malicious intent to do harm.
  • Any evidence against you might be thrown out of court if your rights were violated.

Don’t say anything if the cops question you about doxxing; keeping quiet is your best option. It’s possible that if you try to defend your behavior, you’ll end up implicating yourself. You do not have to answer any questions when you are detained without a lawyer present.

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We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

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