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Monday, August 8, 2016

Doxxing is legal, but is it morally right?

Doxxing is legal, but is it morally right?

You read the title: is doxxing right? Well, I still can't tell. But please follow me around my reflections, maybe you'll figure this out. 

So what is doxxing? Doxxing is the internet action of revealing personal information about someone online that previously tried to remain anonymous. It isn't usually illegal since doxxers reveal information that is technically publicly available, just out of reach. Kinda like your phone number is technically pubicly available for anyone knowing your name and city of residence, your informations are likely to be on the internet. May it be Facebook, governments sites, forums... you probably filled out your identity online a couple of times. It become illegal if someone have to hack a website or your computer to gain access to your informations. Phishing (tricking or deceiving you online) is however more frequent than hackings, and as illegal. 

Nevertheless, most doxxing is done legally, but that doesn't mean that it is moral. People that have been doxxed or fear to be, back up their claim that doxxing is bad by stating that it can be potentially dangerous.After all, having your identity out there, as an internet famous personality, may put you at risk. Some streamers or youtubers have been swatted in the past by mean pranksters ( a prank that waste the SWAT time, money and could result in a accidental death. What a great prank isn't it? ), but only american ones, since there isn't a SWAT equivalent in every country. For people who aren't controversial, having your name and address out there is probably not too scary, but for those who criticize, say, religions or politics, especially in politically unstable countries or religious monarchies, it could be a problem. Many people use anonymity online to express views they wouldn't express otherwise. Even in countries with freedom of speech, saying certain things may get you harassed, attacked, or even arrested. That's the sad reality. Still, others argue that there is many people with their names out there that are expressing such views and are just fine, so maybe they are exagerating the threat, especially if they live in a modern first world country.

Also, there is the argument that these people have chosen to take the risk, that anonymity is granted as a plus, not a guarantee, and so you must assume the consequences of what you say or do online, regardless.

 There is another argument against doxxing, the one that state that doxxers may very well be ill-intended and divulgate information with the intention of harming, humiliating or ruining someone's life. 

However, even if this may be the intentions of many doxxers, it is impossible to read minds, and judging people intentions is a pointless exercise akin to witch hunting, where people are accused of wrong think with no way to prove or disprove it.  So no, this is unfortunately not a good argument. And you can't really prosecute someone for just having bad intentions, unless it's murder and you can prove it (Another example: it isn't illegal to wish to rape or rob someone, morally wrong, for sure, but not illegal. Even if someone state they want to do so, they are not guilty of any crime yet. The best thing to do if you do hear of such things, is to report it to the police, and they may keep an eye on this shady individual for a while, give you advice, or warn the concerned person) .  

So, is doxxing bad? Well it's certainly mean, to remain polite, petty even, still, while I do think doxxers do so out of petty vengeance or shear naivety that ''it's for the best'', it can be a traumatic experience to suddenly be held accountable of what was previously said by your online persona. That's kind of why, even though I use a surname, I never hid my identity, I am fine with being held accountable of what I say, one, because I feel safe enough to do so, two, because it forces me to assume my fuck-ups, three, because it's save me the stress of having to preserve online anonymity. 

That's it for today, What do YOU think about doxxing? Do you have anything to add to the table? If so, please do comment below or tweet me about it, I'll modify the article and credit you for the idea.-KeLvin