Doxxing (i.e., the public disclosure of [generally] private information) is, in fact, nothing new to the Internet age. Essentially, doxxing falls under the general umbrella of “invasion of privacy” (and often also shades into “harassment”), a recognized cause of action in many legal systems. Invasion of privacy generally has four categories:
- intrusion upon seclusion;
- public disclosure of private facts;
- false light; and
Without delving too deeply into the legal theories and such behind these categories (and the various causes of action they encompass), suffice to say that doxxing is, in essence, the public disclosure of private facts. Now, the aforementioned tort (i.e., the public disclosure of private facts) generally has three requirements:
- the facts disclosed must be disclosed publicly,
- the facts disclosed must have been private, not public, and
- the facts disclosed must be of such a kind that would be offensive or objectionable to a reasonable person.
We can, now, build our general doxxing rule. Doxxing, of the kind that is prohibited on Freefora is the public disclosure of private facts. This rule has two components we must define: first, “public” and, second, “private”.
There is little point in dwelling on the first term (i.e., “public”) as any disclosure on Freefora would constitute public disclosure (except in exceptionally rare circumstances in private subcategories, which is to say almost never). The second term (i.e., “private”) warrants a deeper analysis. After all: What is private?
For the purpose of the anti-doxxing rule on Freefora (which technically falls under the “No illegal materials.” rule [Rule 1], but is separated out [Rule 4] for the sake of clarity), information that is considered private consists of any of the following:
- a personal address
- a personal telephone number
- a personal email address
This list is not exhaustive, and there are times where information that does not fit any of the enumerated categories, supra, will, nevertheless, be prohibited by the anti-doxxing rule. Nevertheless, these categories give the general shape of the rule: Do not disclose personal information of a private nature.
It should also be noted what this rule does not include:
- a public address
- a public telephone number
- a public email address
Public information, necessarily, does not fall under the general prohibitions of the tort of invasion of privacy. Nevertheless, Freefora’s anti-doxxing policy extends slightly beyond the traditional scope of this tort (it should, however, be noted, that Freefora’s policy does not extend beyond modern delineations of the scope of this tort, which sometimes account for technological advance). Freefora’s anti-doxxing policy specifically includes republication (i.e., the public disclosure of information that was private, but has been previously publicly disclosed). The reason behind this is philosophical: One person’s act of bad faith (i.e., publicly disclosing private information) should not give free rein to others to do the same.
It is, of course, perfectly acceptable to republish information that was disclosed by the person who would have the legal right otherwise to pursue a cause of invasion of privacy (e.g., if A discloses his personal email address, it is perfectly acceptable to republish it).