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Assemblymember Ward Introduces Bill to Provide Recourse for Doxing Victims

For immediate release:
Assemblymember Ward presents AB 1979 in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – With the increased usage of social media platforms the act of doxing, or publishing someone’s private data for the purpose of targeted harassment, has become a popular tactic affecting countless victims. Doxing someone can include highly personal information like phone numbers, home addresses, passwords, medical records, text messages or other sensitive materials without their permission to exact revenge, embarrass, extort, or exploit victims. Doxing is already a crime in the criminal code, but protections and recourse for victims is absent. Assemblymember Chris Ward has introduced AB 1979: The Doxing Victims Recourse Act to allow victims of doxing the ability to pursue civil action and receive restitution for the harms they endured. 

“Doxing is one of the most extreme forms of privacy invasion and causes significant distress and anxiety for the individuals affected,” said Assemblymember Ward (D-San Diego). “Exposing sensitive information through doxing can also put victims at risk of, or responding to injury from, identity theft, harassment, stalking, physical harm, and even death. The Doxing Victims Recourse Act will finally allow them to pursue recourse and hold perpetrators accountable for the harm they cause.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League, of those who experienced severe online harassment like doxing, 65% were hate-based attacks or abuse of marginalized people based on their civil-protected identity status, such as their religion, nationality, gender, and sexual orientation. The organization also found women are far more likely than men to be victims of doxing. A 2018 study by researchers at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, victims of doxing experienced significant psychological suffering in the form of increased anxiety, depression, and stress.

Despite doxing being a crime in California, current law leaves victims with little to no viable resources to hold the offender accountable or recover damages. An arrest must first be made, and a prosecutor must decide to pursue the case. All the while, a victim is left to work through the emotional, physical, financial, and other damages without being made whole for the harms they have endured. If AB 1979: The Doxing Victims Recourse Act is signed into law, victims will be able to pursue damages not exceeding $30,000 for pain and suffering, in addition to court costs and attorney fees. 

“TransFamily Support Services and TransYouth Liberation proudly support AB1979,” said Executive Director of TransFamily Support Services Kathie Moehlig. “This bill is a crucial measure to combat online harassment and protect marginalized communities, including the transgender population. As advocates for equality and accountability, we recognize the urgent need to hold perpetrators of doxing accountable and provide recourse for victims. Passing AB 1979 is essential to ensuring a safer and more inclusive online environment for all individuals."

The Doxing Victims Recourse Act passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support and now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.