(Oct. 25, 2019) On May 7, 2019, the Parliament of Singapore passed an amendment to the city-state’s harassment law, the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA). The Protection from Harassment (Amendment) Act 2019 (Amendment Act) adds to POHA the new offense of “doxxing,” which involves the publication of “identity information” in order to harass, threaten, or facilitate violence against the victim. (Amendment Act §§ 4(a) & 6(d).) Singapore enacted POHA in 2014 to provide for criminal and civil remedies against various forms of harassment, including online harassment. An offense under POHA is punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment.
The Amendment Act defines “identity information” to mean any information that, whether on its own or with other information, identifies or purports to identify an individual, including but not limited to (1) the individual’s name, residential address, email address, telephone number, date of birth, national registration identity card number, passport number, signature (whether handwritten or electronic), or password; (2) any photograph or video recording of the individual; or (3) any information about the individual’s family, employment or education. (§ 3.)
According to the Amendment Act, an individual or entity must not, with the intent to harass or cause alarm or distress to another person (the target person), publish any identity information of the target person or a person related to the target person. (§ 4(a).) Clause 4(e) of the Amendment Act adds the following illustrations to POHA in this regard:
(c) X and Y were formerly in a relationship which has since ended. X writes a post on a social media platform making abusive and insulting remarks about Y’s alleged sexual promiscuity. In a subsequent post, X includes Y’s photographs and personal mobile number, intending to cause Y harassment by facilitating the identification or contacting of Y by others. Y did not see the posts, but receives and is harassed by telephone calls and SMS messages from strangers (who have read the posts) propositioning Y for sex. X is guilty of an offence under section 3(2) in relation to each post.
(d) X records a video of Y driving recklessly in a car on the road. X posts the video on an online forum, where people share snippets of dangerous acts of driving on the road. X posts the video with the intent to warn people to drive defensively. X has not committed an offence under this section.
Furthermore, an individual or entity must not by any means publish any identity information of another person (the victim) or a person related to the victim, either intending, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe that it is likely (1) to cause the victim to believe that unlawful violence will be used against him/her or any other person, or (2) to facilitate the use of unlawful violence against the victim or any other person. (§ 6(d).) Clause 6(j) of the Amendment Act provides the following illustrations in this regard:
(a) X and Y are classmates. X writes a post with threatening and abusive remarks against Y on a website accessible to all their classmates. X writes a subsequent post on the same website, stating Y’s identity information and stating “Everyone, let’s beat Y up!”. X is guilty of an offence under this section in respect of the subsequent post.
(b) X writes a public post on a social media platform containing threats against Y. X publishes a subsequent public post stating A’s home address and a message “I know where you live”. X is guilty of an offence under this section relating to conduct mentioned in section 5(1A)(a)(i) if X intends the subsequent post to cause Y to believe that violence will be used against A, or an offence under this section relating to conduct mentioned in section 5(1A)(b)(i) if X knows that it is likely that Y will believe that violence will be used against Y as a result of X’s subsequent post.
(c) X writes a post (on a social media platform to which Y does not have access) containing threats of violence against Y and calling others to “hunt him down and teach him a lesson”. B posts Y’s home address in reply to X’s post. B is guilty of an offence under this section.