Texas has passed new laws that expand the scope of cybercrimes: offenses committed by use of computers or other electronic devices. These measures include outlawing of “doxing,” the publication or dissemination of a person’s sensitive, private information without permission and with the intent to cause harm. The new laws also expand the prohibition of voyeurism to account for advances in technology.
Doxing is a relatively new type of cybercrime. It is often done to embarrass, harass, threaten or put a person in physical danger. It is now illegal to publish someone’s address or phone number on a public internet site for the purpose of causing harm to the individual or a member of his or her family. Doxing carries penalties of up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Most doxing scenarios involve posting names, addresses, phone numbers or employment or education information about the individual on the internet. Doxing can have serious consequences. Unrelenting public harassment can force people to move or completely change their lifestyle. The loss of employment or business opportunities is possible. Doxing also has resulted in suicides, and in some cases the target of doxing was assaulted or even murdered.
Voyeurism is the invasion of a person’s privacy to illegally view, photograph or record the victim for the purpose of the invader’s sexual gratification. Voyeurism is already outlawed in Texas. However, the pre-existing statute did not expressly cover newer electronic recording technologies available. The latest law specifies modern recording devices that can be used to commit voyeurism, such as cell phone cameras, drone aircraft and remote secure cameras. People convicted face up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine for the first offense.
These new statutes reflect how Texas cybercrime laws are evolving to stay current with technological developments and new tactics. The Texas Penal Code already outlaws such conduct as breaching computer security (also known as hacking), electronic data tampering, online impersonation and unlawful decryption. People can also be prosecuted for using computers or the internet to commit more traditional crimes, such as fraud, embezzlement, prostitution or solicitation. There is overlap between state laws and federal laws targeting similar activities. If you believe you are under investigation for any alleged illegal conduct online, seek legal counsel immediately.
Kevin L. Collins, P.C. in San Antonio, Texas is a highly experienced defense firm representing residents of Bexar County in all types of criminal cases. Please contact us online or call 210-598-8629 for a free initial consultation.