Govt targets ‘malicious’ online release of private information

The federal government is planning new laws to criminalise “doxxing” to protect peoples’ privacy and push back on hate speech as a response to local incidents arising from the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Feb 13, 2024, updated Feb 13, 2024
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Photo: Lukas Coch/AAP

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Photo: Lukas Coch/AAP

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the invasive act of publicly revealing personally identifiable information about a person online, a practice that is often used to punish someone, will be addressed.

“I’ve asked the attorney-general to bring forward legislation in response to the Privacy Act review, including laws that deal with so-called doxxing, which is basically the malicious publication of private information online,” he said.

His commitment comes after pro-Palestine activists published the names and details of hundreds of Jewish people online, including photos and social media details.

“These are 600 people in the creative industries, people like Deborah Conway the singer, people who are in the arts and creative sector, who had a WhatsApp group,” Albanese said.

“Not a WhatsApp group that was heavily political, a WhatsApp group to provide support for each other because of the rise in anti-Semitism that we’ve seen.

“And what we’ve seen is them being targeted.”

Albanese said the idea that someone can be targeted because of their religion or faith was completely unacceptable.

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“This is not the Australia that we want to see,” he added.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry welcomed the government’s plan to make doxxing a crime.

“While existing laws outlaw the use of social media platforms to menace and threaten others, the doxxers themselves, who orchestrated a campaign of intimidation, violent threats and horrific abuse, cannot be allowed to get away with it,” council president Daniel Aghion said in a statement.

“We look forward to working with the government to ensure the full extent of the harm caused is understood and that the new laws effectively protect Australians from this shameful and dangerous practice.”


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