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Laws and Penalties for Doxxing in Singapore & Mod's warning on Doxxing in forum


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Laws and Penalties for Doxxing in Singapore (With Examples)

Last updated on January 2, 2020

 

person being threatened online.

As of 1 January 2020, it is an offence to engage in “doxxing” in Singapore under the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA). Victims who face harassment due to online vigilantes sharing their personal information can seek redress under the POHA’s doxxing laws.

What is Doxxing? 

Doxxing occurs when an individual or entity publishes the personal information of a person or people related to him (e.g. relatives, friends or colleagues) in order to harass, threaten or facilitate violence against them.

Personal information refers to information that can be used to identify the person, such as photographs or videos, contact details, or information about the person’s employment, education and family.

The new laws establish three different types of doxxing offences:

  1. Publishing personal information with the intention to cause harassment, alarm or distress
  2. Publishing personal information to cause the fear of violence
  3. Publishing personal information to facilitate the use of violence

1. Publishing personal information with the intention to cause harassment, alarm or distress

Under the amended section 3 of the POHA, a person will be guilty of an offence if he publishes the personal information of a person (or of others related to that person) with the intention to cause harassment, alarm or distress to that person, and that person (or any other person) does in fact experience harassment, alarm or distress.

For example, A publishes the personal information of B on an online forum, with the intention to cause distress to B. A may be guilty of an offence under the amended section 3 of the POHA if B’s family members or colleagues feel distressed. This is even though their own personal information had not been shared.

The penalties for this offence are a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to 6 months’ jail for a first conviction. These maximum penalties are doubled for repeat offenders.

2. Publishing personal information to cause the fear of violence

Under the amended section 5 of the POHA, a person will be guilty of an offence if he publishes the personal information of a person (or of others related to that person), while intending, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that it is likely that that person will believe that unlawful violence will be used against himself (or any other person).

For example, A publishes the personal information of B on an online forum. For A to be guilty of an offence under the amended section 5 of the POHA (relating to “fear of violence”), B must believe that violence will be used against him or other people such as his family members and colleagues. It is not enough for B’s family members or colleagues to hold this belief. B must hold this belief himself.

The penalties for this offence are a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to 12 months’ jail for a first conviction. These maximum penalties are doubled for repeat offenders.

3. Publishing personal information to facilitate the use of violence

Under the amended section 5 of the POHA, a person will also be guilty of an offence if he publishes the personal information of a person (or of others related to that person), while intending, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that it is likely, to facilitate the use of unlawful violence against that person (or any other person).

For example, A publishes the personal information of B on an online forum. A may be guilty of an offence under the amended section 5 of the POHA (relating to “facilitating the use of violence”) if A’s actions facilitate the use of violence against B’s family members or colleagues, even if not against B himself.

The penalties for this offence are a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to 12 months’ jail for a first conviction. These maximum penalties are doubled for repeat offenders.

What are the differences between the three offences?

Must the publisher have intended the outcome of the doxxing?

The publisher must have intended to cause harassment, alarm or distress for him to be found guilty of an offence under the amended section 3 of the POHA.

In contrast, a publisher can be found guilty of doxxing under either section 5 offence even if he did not intend to cause the victim to fear violence, or to facilitate the use of violence against the victim. It is sufficient if the publisher knows, or ought to have known, that his actions are likely to cause this outcome.  

Who is the target of the offence?

An offence under the amended section 3 of the POHA will be made out if the person whose personal information was published, or “any other person” (i.e. persons other than that person, or related persons of that person), experiences harassment, alarm or distress.

This is similar to the offence under the amended section 5 of the POHA (relating to “facilitate the use of violence”) in that the publisher must have targeted the person whose personal information has been published, or “any other person”.

However, under the amended section 5 of the POHA (relating to “fear of violence”), it must have been the person whose personal information has been published who believes that violence will be used against him (or any other person) for the offence to be made out.

 

Who Can be a Victim of Doxxing? 

Only individuals can be victims of doxxing. Although an entity such as a company or organisation will not be able to seek remedies for doxxing, employees of the entity may do so in their individual capacity if their own personal information has been published.

However, this does not mean the organisations will have no avenues of recourse at all. In situations where acts of doxxing are accompanied by false statements of fact that damage the reputation of an entity, the entity can rely on the remedies available to them under the law against falsehoods.

For example, the new sections 15A and 15B of the POHA allow an entity to apply for a stop publication order or correction order. These orders require the publisher to stop the publication of the false statement (and future statements) or publish a correction notice that notifies the reader of the statement’s falsity.

Examples of Doxxing

What is considered doxxing:  What is not considered doxxing: 
Publishing abusive and insulting comments about a person’s alleged sexual promiscuity and including that person’s contact details and photos to allow others to contact him Posting a video of reckless driving on an online forum with the intention to warn people to drive safely
Sharing a person’s personal information on social media and asking others to “teach him a lesson” Posting a video of a public dispute on social media in order to provide a factual account of the incident
Posting a person’s personal information on an online forum where other users have called for that person to be identified, so that he can be attacked Sharing a person’s personal information with the authorities or emergency services so that necessary action can be taken
Posting a video of a public figure that includes his contact details, and asking others to threaten the person Posting a video of a public figure where that person is being interviewed about publicly known facts

It is important to note that these examples are only guidelines. Whether an action amounts to doxxing under the POHA ultimately depends on the context in which the personal information is published.  

Can One be Charged for Doxxing for Acts That Were Carried Out Before the Doxxing Laws Took Effect?

Individuals who carried out acts that may be considered doxxing before Singapore’s doxxing laws came into operation on 1 January 2020 will not be charged under them. This is because laws cannot be applied retrospectively, i.e. they cannot be applied to acts that occurred before they came into force.

Therefore, Singapore’s doxxing laws can only cover acts that took place on or after 1 January 2020.

What to Do If You Have Been a Victim of Doxxing

If you are a victim of doxxing, there are several remedies available to you under the POHA:

  • Make a police report: If it can be shown that the publisher has committed the offence of doxxing under the amended sections 3 or 5 of the POHA, the publisher may face criminal sanctions.
  • Bring civil proceedings against the publisher and claim damages as compensation: You may wish to consult one of our harassment lawyers on the feasibility of bringing a lawsuit against the publisher.
  • Apply for a protection order: You may submit an application for a Protection Order (PO) or an Expedited Protection Order (EPO) to the State Courts. Protection orders are flexible remedies that are tailored to the victim’s needs. For example, the court may issue an order to prohibit a person from publishing the victim’s personal information online. The court may also require third-parties, such as the Facebook and Instagram social media platforms, to remove the post. The amendments to the POHA provide for a simplified application process and an expedited timeline for being granted these orders. An EPO may be granted within 48 to 72 hours of filing an application and, where there is a risk of violence or actual violence, within 24 hours. A PO application may also be processed within 4 weeks. Please refer to our other article for more information on applying for POs.

 

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  • 1 year later...
林静雯

发布 / 2019年8月26日 11:23 AM

更新 / 2019年8月26日 11:36 AM

新个人资料保护法令将从9月1日起正式生效,商家和业者等到时只有在法律规定下或有必要证明身份时,才能向公众索取身份证号码。(档案照)
新个人资料保护法令将从9月1日起正式生效,商家和业者等到时只有在法律规定下或有必要证明身份时,才能向公众索取身份证号码。(档案照)

 

(早报讯)新个人资料保护法令将从9月1日起正式生效,商家和业者等到时只有在法律规定下或有必要证明身份时,才能向公众索取身份证号码。

个人资料保护委员会今天发文告,提醒业者在新条例生效后不能任意收集、使用和公开个人身份证号码,或扣下身份证,以加强对消费者的保障。

新条例也涵盖护照、工作准证、出生证,以及外籍人士身份证。

 

委员会在去年8月宣布这项新条例,因此业者已有一年时间改善运作模式以符合新条例。

委员会也鼓励业者按其商业模式和营运需求选择采用其他方式来识别消费者,例如采用电子政府密码应用(SingPass Mobile)的服务之一SG-Verify,并避免过度收集消费者的其他个人资料。

 

https://www.pdpc.gov.sg/-/media/Files/PDPC/PDF Files/Resource for Organisation/Business-Checklist-v20-Chi
https://www.pdpc.gov.sg/-/media/Files/PDPC/PDF Files/Resource for Organisation/Business-Checklist-v20-Chi

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