Is Doxxing illegal in the U.S? A Legal Analysis

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Is Doxxing illegal

In the digital age, the phenomenon of doxxing has emerged as a significant concern. Doxxing, the act of publicly revealing previously private personal information about an individual or organization, usually via the internet, raises complex legal issues in the United States. This comprehensive article explores the current legal landscape surrounding doxxing, examining federal and state laws and the various legal ramifications of this practice.

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What is Doxxing?

Doxxing (or “doxing”) involves the act of searching for and publishing private or identifying information about a particular individual on the internet, typically with malicious intent. This can include personal details such as home addresses, phone numbers, emails, and even social security numbers. The intent behind doxxing can range from harassment and intimidation to public shaming or personal vendettas.

As of now, there is no specific federal statute that explicitly criminalizes doxxing in the United States. However, depending on the circumstances, various federal laws may be applicable to doxxing incidents. For example:

  • Laws Against Cyberstalking: Under 18 U.S. Code § 2261A, doxxing can be considered a form of cyberstalking, especially if it involves a credible threat to a person’s safety.
  • Privacy Laws: Doxxing can sometimes violate federal privacy laws, particularly if it involves the unauthorized disclosure of private and sensitive information.
  • Anti-Harassment Laws: If doxxing is used as a tool for harassment, it could fall under the scope of federal anti-harassment statutes.

State Laws and Doxxing

The approach to doxxing at the state level is more varied:

  • California: Known for its stringent digital privacy laws, California considers certain acts of doxxing as a form of cyber harassment, punishable under state laws.
  • Illinois: Similar to California, Illinois has laws that can be applied to cases of doxxing, particularly if it involves harassment or invasion of privacy.
  • Other States: Various other states have enacted laws that indirectly address doxxing, often under the umbrella of cyberbullying, harassment, and privacy violations.

Victims of doxxing may have several legal avenues to consider:

  • Civil Lawsuits: Victims can potentially file civil lawsuits for invasion of privacy or emotional distress, depending on the specifics of the case.
  • Restraining Orders: In cases where doxxing escalates to threats or harassment, victims may seek restraining orders against the perpetrators.
  • Reporting to Law Enforcement: In severe cases, especially where threats of violence are involved, victims can report the incident to law enforcement.

Preventative Measures Against Doxxing

Given the complexities of legal recourse, preventative measures are crucial. These include:

  • Safeguarding Personal Information: Being cautious about the amount and type of personal information shared online.
  • Using Privacy Tools: Employing privacy tools and settings on social media and other online platforms to control who has access to personal information.


In conclusion, while there is no federal law specifically making doxxing illegal in the U.S., various federal and state laws can be applied to cases of doxxing, especially when it involves harassment, threats, or the invasion of privacy. The legal landscape is complex and evolving, reflecting the challenges of addressing this modern form of digital harassment. As the internet continues to be an integral part of daily life, the laws around doxxing are likely to develop further to protect individuals from online harm.

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