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Racial Justice and Social Equity

New California bill would let doxxing victims sue

California lawmakers are trying to strengthen protections against doxxing, or publishing someone’s private information online — like their home address, passwords or social security number — to harass them.

Doxxing started as a niche tactic among computer hackers in the '90s. Now, researchers estimate it affects millions of Americans.

San Diegan Kathie Moehlig, executive director of TransFamily Support Services and TransYouth Liberation, said her work as a trans youth advocate made her a target.


She said her personal information was exposed to “the darkest corners of the internet.”

“Suddenly, my safety was compromised as well as that of my family, and we lived in fear of the unknown,” she said. “The very work I poured my heart and soul into has made me a target.”

She described sleepless nights, anxiety and an overwhelming sense of vulnerability.

“But we refuse to be silenced by fear,” she said.

The publishing of private information can expose victims to further harms like identity theft or stalking.


An Anti-Defamation League survey found most doxxing attacks are hate-based. They target protected identities like sexual orientation, nationality, gender or religion. Women are far more likely than men to be victims, it found.

It’s already a crime. But the bill’s cosponsor, San Diego Assemblymember Chris Ward, said it can be hard to prosecute.

This new act would give victims a way to seek civil justice — damages up to $30,000, court costs and attorneys’ fees.

“The Doxing Victims Recourse Act will provide deterrence for doxxing activity in the first place,” Ward said. “But where it happens, it will hold offenders accountable and allow victims the opportunity to get their lives back on track after a traumatic experience.”

Proponents of the bill attribute the rise in doxxing to a rise in hate and extremism in recent years, alongside the advancement of technology and social media.

The bill’s co-author, Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, represents District 4, west of Sacramento. She said doxxing was used against educators in her district who were protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ students.

“Had we had this bill sooner,” she said, “People impacted by doxxing in my community could have had another important tool to fight back against the emotional, physical, financial and other damages they endured while protecting themselves and our kids.”

The bill passed the Judiciary Committee Tuesday with bipartisan support and now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.