Doxing…it crosses the line

When I first read the word doxing, I had to look it up and find out what it meant. The term and the act of doxing or “dropping documents” have been around since the ’90s. But recently it has taken a front-row seat as a weapon in our political discourse. In its most basic form, doxing is the publishing (online) of one’s personal information. It includes information such as the person’s home address and place of employment. But it also could include other personal information. While not illegal to do so if the information is publicly available, it has evolved into a very serious situation.

The dissemination of personal information has resulted in individuals showing up at the homes of doxing victims.

While some individuals may be legitimate protestors with a message, some have been aggressive resulting in vandalism, theft and destruction of property.

Regardless of whether you have good intentions, the very act of showing up at a person’s home creates an environment of fear and intimidation.

Recently, we have seen mobs show up at the home of the Mayors of Olympia and Seattle Washington. In the case of the Mayor of Olympia, it resulted in vandalism. Fox News analyst Tucker Carlson was eventually forced to move from his home when he was doxed. Protestors and vandals showed up at his house while he was at work forcing his wife to call 911 from inside her closet. The situation turned ugly in St. Louis when protestors allegedly broke down a gate on private property on their way to the Mayor’s home resulting in a confrontation with armed home owners. Even more recently people have shown up at the home of Chicago’s mayor.

Doxing has been used against police officers, federal agents, politicians, celebrities and business owners. No one appears exempt from it. And the practice of showing up at someone’s home because you don’t agree with their politics or for whatever reason affects more than the intended target. It affects their families and sometimes entire neighborhoods. Having a mob outside your door shouting obscenities and threats is frightening. To date, I see no legitimate reason for publishing someone’s personal information.

The reason may not be legitimate but it is clear. It’s to create an environment of intimidation and fear so that a person will do what you want them to do. And doxing is not limited to one political spectrum. Both the left and right have been victims of doxing. Although doxing with malicious intent can be a crime, it is often difficult to prove.

It’s now time for local, state, and federal leaders on both sides to speak out against this practice. And our legislators need to reexamine our existing laws. There has to be a point where our political discourse crosses the line and enough is enough.

Showing up at a person’s home crosses that line for me.

Stephen Phillip Monteiro is a law enforcement, security and intelligence consultant. He’s held senior leadership positions with consulting firms in Washington, DC and is a retired Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service and a veteran of the U.S. Navy. Visit his website: https://www.thegoodamerica.com to leave your comments. You can follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/stevemonteiro10