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Doxxing Series

Is Doxxing Illegal In Michigan?

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  • Is Doxxing Illegal In Michigan?

Michigan residents concerned about online privacy might wonder: Is doxxing illegal in Michigan? 

Read on to learn whether sharing other people’s personal information on the internet is illegal in Michigan and when legal penalties might come into play.

Is Doxxing Illegal in Michigan?

No. Doxxing (or doxing), which refers to publishing someone’s personal information online without their permission, is not illegal in Michigan. 

However, that could change in the future, as legislators have in the past submitted a bill that would make doxxing a crime in Michigan. While the bill didn’t pass, it signifies that the state is interested in cracking down on the practice.

Although no specific laws cover doxxing in Michigan at present, there are laws that protect residents against other activities related to doxxing. These include cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and stalking. 

Cyberbullying 

Cyberbullying is one of the more common crimes related to doxxing. 

Under the Michigan Penal Code section 750.411x, if someone makes a post on a public forum that puts you in fear of bodily harm or death, along with a statement of intent, it counts as cyberbullying. 

Michigan Penal Code section 750.411x - cyberbullying

In Michigan, cyberbullying is a misdemeanor crime with a penalty of up to 93 days imprisonment and a fine of up to $500. 

Continued cyberbullying that leads to serious injury can be ruled as a felony charge with up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000. 

If someone’s cyberbullying leads to the death of the victim, they can be charged with a felony that comes with a penalty of 10 years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine.

Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking refers to unwanted and repeated acts of contact in an online environment.

For a message to qualify as cyberstalking in Michigan, it must lead to two or more “separate noncontinuous acts of unconsented contact” with you. There are a few other qualifications, as described in the state’s penal code (section 750.411s).

Michigan Penal Code section 750.411s - cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is a felony crime in Michigan, with most cases earning a penalty of up to two years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000. 

In situations that involve breaking restraining orders or conditions of parole or probation, the penalty goes up to five years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine. 

Stalking

Even though stalking usually (but not always) takes place offline, stalking is related to doxxing, as stalkers can find out their victim’s contact information using online resources.

Under Michigan Penal Code section 750.411h, stalking occurs when someone repeatedly or continuously engages in unconsented contact to the point where the person feels terrorized, intimidated, threatened, etc. 

Examples of unconsented contact include:

  • Following or appearing within the sight of the person.
  • Approaching/confronting the person in a public place or on private property. 
  • Showing up at the person’s workplace or residence.
  • Calling the person on the phone.
  • Sending the person electronic communications.
Michigan Penal Code section 750.411h - stalking

In most cases, stalking is a misdemeanor crime in Michigan that comes with a penalty of up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. 

That changes to a felony if the victim is under 18 and the perpetrator is five or more years older than them. In this case, the punishment is imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Is Doxxing Illegal at the Federal Level?

Despite the negative ramifications and dangers that can come from doxxing, publishing someone’s personal information online without their consent is not illegal at the federal level. The reason why is that doxxing typically involves publicly available information. 

That said, doxxing can frequently lead to other activities that are illegal at the federal level. 

While doxxing is not a crime federally, it can be at the state level. A growing number of states – including California, Illinois, and Arizona– now have anti-doxxing laws. 

If you live outside these states, you’ll want to make yourself as undoxxable as possible (for optimal privacy, you’ll want to do that even if you live within states with anti-doxxing laws). Doing so will help you proactively obscure your online presence, making it harder for doxxers to release information about you regardless of federal law. 

How to Protect Yourself Against Doxxing In Michigan (And Elsewhere)

To make yourself undoxxable, your first step should be to dox yourself. 

While it may seem counterintuitive, digging around the internet to see what information you can uncover about yourself is the fastest way to gain a better understanding of how exposed to doxxing you are. 

Doxxing yourself is a relatively simple process, but it’s important to be thorough to see all the places where your information may be posted. Follow our guide on how to dox yourself, and check out our list of doxxing tools

Once you’ve identified where your information is showing up online, your next steps will be to reduce your digital footprint. 

This will most likely involve: 

  • Changing your social media account privacy settings to private rather than public.
  • Removing your information from data brokers. Data brokers are companies that operate by aggregating information about individuals and selling them as profiles to anyone (which could include advertisers, political entities, or even cybercriminals looking to steal your identity or finances) willing to pay a minimal fee (sometimes these profiles also appear for free). Remember to opt-out continuously – data brokers are known to relist your profile when they collect more data about you. Or, subscribe to DeleteMe to have our privacy experts remove your personal information from data brokers on your behalf. 
  • Learning to use unique usernames on all of your online accounts to make it harder for people to find you and track you on the internet. 
  • Using unique passwords across your accounts and enabling multi-factor authentication to improve your protection against data breaches and hackers.
  • Limiting how much unnecessary personal information you share about yourself on the internet. 

With these critical steps taken, your risk of being doxxed – or cyberbullied, cyberstalked, or stalked – will decrease, as bad actors will have a harder time finding your contact details. To learn more, see our guide on how to prevent doxxing.

Laura Martisiute is DeleteMe’s content marketing specialist. Her job is to help DeleteMe communicate vital privacy information to the people that need it. Since joining DeleteMe in 2020, Laura h…

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