Clarification on the legality of publishing addresses online.

In recent days we have seen a lot of ‘doxing’, particularly from the ‘other’ side posting up details of people who have nothing to do with what is accused.

We took the time to investigate the question:

Is it legal?

The answer seems to be a little more difficult than a simple yes or no.

FindLaw is a great resource to cover topics if you’re too lazy to check precedents or AustLii.

FindLaw makes the comment that although cyberstalking is not illegal per se, it’s the intent of such that causes legal issues.

It comes down to the Latin ‘actus reus’ of the crime and guilt. 

His Honour went on to outline the four elements that the offence consists of which are:

  • there must be a course of conduct;
  • the course of conduct must involve a protracted act or several acts;
  • the accused must perform the act or acts with the intention of causing physical or mental harm to the victim or of arousing apprehension or fear in the victim for his or her own safety or that of another person; and
  • the course of conduct must have aroused apprehension or fear in the victim for his or her own safety or that of another person, and the course of conduct requires a continuity of purpose.”

Of course, if private information is published, and that breaches privacy laws, that breaks another law in itself.

But let’s take the last few days happenings for a closer look.

The above example, simply due to the language and known background, could easily be argued to be to arouse apprehension, with the intention of physical and mental harm. Anyone with half a brain could see this wasn’t going to result in a friendly chat.

This breaches the Crimes Act for stalking, under the intention, or ‘actus reus’.

The same would go for the following:

(We are also concerned that they’re that rabid they’d pay someone to locate an individual)

But what about DeathSec releasing details, those which have already been made public by ASIC or WhitePages?

It gets quite murky. 

As you may notice, we’ve chosen not to publish the details, but simply report on the fact they’ve been found, and allow those who wish to, to locate the source.

That leaves the actus reus.

For one, to involve a protracted act, we would need to be responsible for sourcing the information. We haven’t actually been those involved in doing so. In the case of publishing the details of what was on ASIC, this was in the interest of our readers who wished to know who registered the business name ‘Reclaim Australia Rallies‘.

The second part involves the intention of causing harm. Our intentions weren’t to incite any form of violence, or mental anguish. We simply reported that information had been found, and we’ve made it quite clear that we do not tolerate violence of any kind.

The last part involves the victim being in fear of his or her own safety. We’re unable to comment on another’s feelings but the prime difference between our website and theirs, when these sorts of details have been made ‘available’ boils down to what has been written as a result.

The discussion of killing for treason, death and beheadings, bashing and other harm seems to proliferate without moderation on their sites, but not ours. 

We would press the point that our intention was not to cause harm. Even though, we aren’t the ones responsible for the publication.

In conclusion, cyber stalking isn’t an offence within itself, but rather, forms part of the overall statutory provisions associated with stalking.

So, hopefully that clears the issue up for everyone.



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