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Doxxing Series

Is Doxxing Illegal in Texas?

  • Doxxing
  • Is Doxxing Illegal in Texas?

If you live in Texas and are worried about your online privacy, you might be wondering: is doxxing illegal in Texas?

Releasing someone’s private information on the internet is scary and has severe consequences. However, the legalities surrounding doxxing in Texas are more complex than you might think.

This guide dives into these nuances, examining Texas privacy laws and their implications for doxxing. We also look at whether there are any doxxing laws at the federal level and what steps you can take to avoid doxxing. 

Is Doxxing Illegal In Texas?

Doxxing can be considered illegal in Texas, depending on what type of information is exposed. 

From September 1st, 2023, Section 42.074 of the Texas Penal Code criminalizes “Unlawful Disclosure of Residence Address or Telephone Number.”

Under this statute, a person commits doxing if they share someone’s telephone number or residence address on a publicly accessible website to cause them or their family member/household harm or threat of harm.  

Section 42.074 of the Texas Penal Code

Doxing under this Texas law is a Class B misdemeanor and is punishable by jail time of up to six months and a fine of up to $2,000. If doxing leads to bodily injury, it becomes a Class A misdemeanor.

Texas state laws also penalize other criminal activities that can come from doxxing. Criminal charges related to doxxing include harassment, stalking, and swatting.

Harassment

Publishing someone’s personal information online can often lead to harassment, which is illegal under Texas law. 

The Penal Code Section 42.07 outlines what constitutes harassing behaviors. For example, initiating communication and making obscene comments, proposals, requests, or suggestions. Or threatening to inflict bodily injury or commit a felony against them or their family, household, or property. 

The behaviors must be carried out with the intent to “harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass” another person. 

Texas Penal Code Section 42.07

Harassment can happen in person or via an electronic communication device like a phone.

In Texas, harassment is a Class B misdemeanor and carries a hefty punishment. Depending on the severity, a person can face up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Previous offenders can face harsher punishments and get charged with a Class A misdemeanor. 

Stalking

If someone has your personal details, they can stalk you. Texas covers stalking in detail in Section 42.072 of the Penal Code

Stalking is when someone engages in an action on multiple occasions with the intent to cause fear of death or serious bodily injury. This includes communicating with or threatening the victim directly.

Section 42.072 of the Texas Penal Code

Stalking applies to online and in-person communication. Criminal charges can be severe in Texas for anyone convicted of stalking. It’s classified as a third-degree felony. Anybody guilty of stalking faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

If the defendant has any previous marks on their criminal record, this can elevate to a second-degree felony. That carries a more severe punishment of 2 to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Swatting

Once someone knows where you live, they can swat you. 

Swatting is when someone calls 911 to report an emergency to a location when there is no emergency. 

Swatting has become a common form of cyberbullying for online streamers. Someone who obtains your home address can report a crime at your house to law enforcement even if there isn’t one. When a police officer shows up expecting to find a crime, it can put the house’s residents at risk.

Swatting is covered under Texas Penal Code Section 42.061

Texas Penal Code Section 42.061

It is a Class B misdemeanor that can result in the doxxer facing 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. 

Is Doxing Illegal at the Federal Level?

Currently, there is no federal law in the United States that directly targets doxxing. That means doxxing is not illegal at a federal level. The lack of a federal doxxing statute means individuals must proactively protect their personal information.

However, doxxing can intersect with other criminal offenses under federal law, like 18 USC 119, which protects covered persons (including witnesses in a federal criminal investigation) from having their restricted personal information from being made publicly available. 

Note that besides Texas, a number of other American states, like California, Illinois, and Arizona, have also passed anti-doxxing laws, while others have passed laws against doxing-like behavior, like cyberbullying. 

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

To reduce the likelihood that you’ll be doxxed, you need to reduce the amount of information there is about you online. 

The best way to do that is to doxx yourself. We have put together a guide on how you can do that. We also have a list of doxxing tools you might find useful. 

When you know what details someone could find about you on the internet, you can take steps to erase or at least reduce your digital footprint.

As a priority, you may want to:  

  • Set your social media accounts to private mode and adjust the settings to hide all contact information like phone numbers and email addresses.
  • Opt out of data brokers (companies that collect and sell your personal information without your consent). Or, subscribe to a data broker removal service such as DeleteMe.
  • Use different usernames for each online platform you sign up for. This strategy prevents easy tracking of your online activities and profiles. 
  • Delete your details from Google Search. 
  • Be mindful of sharing personal details like your address or phone number, especially on public platforms. 

Read our guide on how to prevent doxxing for more information on how you can become undoxxable. 

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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