FPI / August 6, 2020
Commentary by Christopher W Holton, Center for Security Policy
For a few years now, U.S. military and law enforcement personnel have fallen victim to the practice known as “doxxing” in which their personal, private information has been obtained and posted online.
In most cases the information posted online includes home addresses, obviously putting law enforcement and military personnel, and their families, at great risk.
The latest example happened in Portland in which dozens of federal law enforcement agents had their personal information posted online.
Portland is hardly an isolated incident. The Department of Homeland Security reports that police in Kentucky, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Boston and New York City had been doxxed. Several police officers in Chicago also became doxxing victims in June.
The primary suspect for these doxxing events is Antifa. It has been reported that at violent Antifa protests in Portland, communist insurgents have read law enforcement officers’ personal information aloud over megaphones.
Understandably, police officers have taken measures to protect themselves and their families from doxxing by concealing their name tags in certain situations. However, clearly biased pro-leftwing media criticize these measures, ignoring the fact that police officers’ families are at risk when communist radicals from organizations such as Antifa obtain their identities and turn to doxxing to prevent police from doing their jobs effectively. Radical leftist organizations such as the National Lawyers Guild have even threatened legal action to make sure that police name tags are readable at all times, a practice that clearly endangers lives.
While Antifa has been involved in doxxing attacks on law enforcement recently, the threat of doxxing has also been associated with ISIS in recent years. This should serve as further evidence that Antifa is in fact a terrorist organization which uses the strategies and tactics of other recognized and designated terrorist organizations.
In 2016, the FBI reported that ISIS had published a “kill list” of law enforcement officers in Minnesota. ISIS also penetrated the New Jersey Transit Police system and doxxed 55 police officers.
ISIS jihadists have also targeted U.S. military personnel online. Back in 2015, ISIS hackers published the personal information of some 100 current and former members of the U.S. military after finding their information through social media. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security recommended that military personnel review their social media presence for possible security risks.
The most serious threat to military personnel came in 2015 when ISIS released a “kill list” of military personnel which included photographs and home addresses. The list contained military personnel in 55 cities in 23 states.
Such threats to U.S. military personnel from designated foreign terrorist organizations are obviously a national security issue and involve transnational actors that can be dealt with in unique ways that domestic doxxers are largely immune from.
And therein lies a problem. There are no specific laws on the books regarding doxxing. Doxxing anyone is wrong in many ways, but doxxing law enforcement personnel is a completely different issue. The only federal law that could possibly be applied is a seldom-used, vague anti-stalking statute.
Given the fact that Democrat politicians refuse to acknowledge that Antifa even exists as an organization, much less should be considered a terrorist organization, the chances of getting meaningful, effective anti-police doxxing legislation through the House of Representatives seem very slim.
It may not be possible to prevent doxxing altogether, but what is needed — and what is surely feasible — are laws to punish those who dox police officers and/or participate in the doxxing of police officers by posting doxxing information obtained elsewhere on social media, providing identifying information to hackers to facilitate doxxing and otherwise aiding and abetting those who dox law enforcement personnel.
While Nancy Pelosi and Jerry Nadler are highly unlikely to support such legislation on the federal level, effectively blocking its passage, state legislatures can move to enact such laws as soon as they go into session.
This is the proper function of the states to provide for the safety and security of everyone by passing laws to severely punish those who threaten and endanger our heroes on the thin blue line.
Christopher Holton is Vice President for Outreach at the Center for Security Policy.
FPI, Free Press International