This Bill Proposal Seeks To Send Doxxers And Swatters To Prison

A new bill proposal seeks to make the act of doxxing someone — that is, finding and then publishing their personal information on the Internet — a federal offense. Called the Online Safety Modernization Act, the bipartisan proposal seeks to stop individuals from using the Internet as a personal weapon, whether that involves releasing their enemy's address to online mobs, 'swatting' by calling it fake threats to law enforcement, or something else.

Swatting is perhaps the best known version of serious online harassment, and it involves impersonating the victim and making a threat to law enforcement in order to get police or SWAT set to the victim's home. This often involves the victim being raided — sometimes in the middle of the night — by armed officers believing there is a bomb, hostages, or other issues. Not only does this put lives at risk and potentially traumatize the victim, it also ties of police resources that may be needed for other (real) events.

Another growing issue is 'doxxing,' an action in which individuals search for, discover, and then post someone else's personal information, such as name and home address, on the Internet. This is usually done by one or more individuals who are angry with the victim or in some way seeking to punish them by enlisting other anonymous Internet users as their personal army.

Similarly addressed by the bill is an online tactic used to scare people, typically girls and women, into sharing sexual images under the belief that failing to do so will result in being hacked, having secrets exposed, or more. Finally, the bill seeks to address using someone's 'sexually intimate visual depictions to extort or coerce.'

The bill proposes a variety of penalties for various offenses, the severity of which depends on the nature of the crime and how it was committed. You can find all the details on that by reading the full bill proposal; in some cases, a violation of any of the above has a maximum penalty of one or more months in jail, while in the most severe of cases, violations could result in up to life in prison. It is also possible that someone could be fined but not imprisoned.

SOURCE: House.gov