According to the new law introduced on 1 January 2020, “doxing” in Singapore is a criminal offense. Protection from Harassment Act (POHA) contains laws addressing doxing. Victims who have been harassed due to online vigilantes sharing their private information can file a complaint under this law.
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What is Doxing?
Doxing refers to a form of harassment, intimidation, and violence in which an individual or entity publishes personal details of another individual or group (e.g., relatives, friends, or colleagues) to harass, threaten, or facilitate violence against them.
Generally, personal information is regarded as the details that can be used to identify the person, including contact details, employment details of the person, family, and education background, followed by photographs or videos of the person.
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There are three types of doxing offenses under the new laws:
- Publishing personal information to cause harassment, alarm, or distress
- Publishing personal information to cause the fear of violence
- Publishing personal information to facilitate the use of violence
Publishing personal information to cause harassment, alarm, or distress
As per the amended section 3 of the Protection from harassment act, if the person is found guilty of a criminal offense, i.e., if he is found publishing personal information of the person or any other things related to that person to hinder the reputation, harass or threaten that person.
An example of such an act would be when A posts B’s personal information on a public forum to cause B distress. Under the amended section 3 of the POHA, A may be guilty of an offense if B’s relatives or co-workers feel distressed, even though their personal information was not used.
We talk of penalties that the suspects will be liable to pay is $ 5,000 or up to 6 months and six months of imprisonment for doing such an act the first time. Always keep in mind the penalties will be doubled for repeated offenders.
Publishing personal information to cause the fear of violence
According to amended section 5 of the POHA, publishing personal information about a person (or other personal information about that person) is an offense, while intends to, knows, or has reasonable grounds for believing that unlawful violence will be used against himself.
Let us understand this offense with the help of an example; suppose a post some personal details about B on the online forum. As per the amended section 5 of the POHA (addresses “fear of violence”) defines that for A to be proven guilty for the offense, B needs to present the evidence or believe that this act can be used as violence against him or other people associated with him. These are not enough for the family members of B or colleagues to hold this belief; instead, B will be solely responsible for holding the belief himself.
The penalties and punishment for such a punishable offense will be a fine of up to $5000 and rigorous imprisonment of 12 months for first-time offenders. For repeated offenders, the punishments and penalties will be doubled.
Publishing personal information to facilitate the use of violence
According to the amended section 5 of the Protection of harassment act, the suspect will be found guilty of the offense if he publishes the personal details of the person over the internet or any other person associated with that person while being aware that such unlawful violence will be used against that person (or any other person), having the intention, knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that it will be used.
For instance, A posts B’s personal information online.
A might be proven guilty of the criminal offense as per the amended section 5 of the POHA (concerning “facilitating the use of violence”) if A’s suspicious activity promotes the use of violence against B’s family members or colleagues, even if not their family members then against B himself.
On the first conviction for this charge, a fine of up to $5,000 and/or 12 months in jail is possible. For repeat offenders, the fines and jail terms double.
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What are the differences between the three offenses?
Must the publisher have intended the outcome of the doxxing?
The publisher of the person’s personal details shall be intended to threaten, harm, or distress the person is enough for the publisher to be proved guilty under the amended section 3 of the POHA.
On the other side, the publisher can still be found guilty of engaging in the doxing act as per the section 5 offense even if he or she does not intend to harm the dignity or spread violence against the victim. If the publisher is aware that his action might cause such an outcome, this is sufficient to prove him guilty under the same section.
Who is the target of the offense?
According to amendment section 3 of POHA, a criminal offense will be applied if the person’s personal details are published or any other person addressing him experiences alarm, distress, or harassment.
This offense is far more similar to that under section 5 of POSC, addressing facilitating the use of violence. The only difference was that the publisher targets the person whose personal information is posted over the internet or any other person.
Nevertheless, under the amended section 5 of the POHA (relating to “fear of violence”), for the offense to have been proved, the person who has had their personal information published must have believed that violence is going to be used against him (or someone else).
Who Can Be a Victim of Doxing?
The only people who can be victims of doxing are individuals. While entities like companies and organizations will not seek remedies, employees of those entities may seek compensation if their personal information has been revealed.
However, the organizations will still have access to several avenues of recourse. When false statements of fact are part of acts of doxing that damage an entity’s reputation, the entity may pursue legal remedies against falsehoods.
Among all the new sections of POHA, a few new sections known as 15A and 15 B grant the organization and entity rights to request the stop publication or correction order. This type of order tells the publisher to stop publishing false and future statements or instead publish short notice that mentions all the readers and audience out there regarding the falsehood of the statement.
Can One be Charged for Doxing for Acts That Were Carried Out Before the Doxing Laws Took Effect?
Singapore does not intend to charge individuals for doxing acts committed before the law came into force on 1 January 2020. The law cannot be applied retrospectively, so it cannot apply to the incidents before they become effective.
Consequently, Singapore’s doxing laws will only be applicable to suspicious activity that occurred on or after 1 January 2020.
What to Do If You Have Been a Victim of Doxing
Under the POHA, you have several remedies to pursue if you are a victim of doxing:
Make a police report:
Publishers may face criminal sanctions if it is clearly shown that they have committed the doxing offense under sections 3 or 5 of the amended POHA.
Claim damages from the publisher in a civil suit:
It is always a great idea to consult the harassment attorney to sue the publisher in civil court.
Apply for a protection order:
Protective Orders are flexible remedies that are tailored to the individual victim. The State Courts have the authority to grant Protection Orders or Expedited Protection Orders.
The above article contains all the facts and terms you need to know about doxing in Singapore and always protect yourself if you have been a victim of any such criminal offense. If you need a Singapore translation service to translate foreign language documents, Singapore translators can be the ideal choice.