17 April 2024

Understanding Doxing & It's Impact

Naik Naik & Company


Established in 2004, Naik Naik & Co. started out as a niche media practice which has metamorphosed into a full-service law firm. Headquartered in Mumbai with a pan-India presence, we advise and perform across all aspects of corporate, disputes, banking and finance, and intellectual property law. Our sectoral focus is our differentiator and we can boast of strong industry sector expertise for over two decades. Our practice is anchored in quality service, professionalism, and integrity.
The term ‘Doxing' is short for ‘dropping dox', ‘dox' being slang for documents. Doxing (also spelt as Doxxing) is the act of revealing identifying and personal information about someone online.
India Privacy
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The term 'Doxing' is short for 'dropping dox', 'dox' being slang for documents. Doxing (also spelt as Doxxing) is the act of revealing identifying and personal information about someone online. Such information is then circulated to the public, without the victim's permission. The term 'docs' morphed into 'dox' and eventually became a standalone verb, detached from the prefix 'drop'.

Before the widespread use of the internet, the act of exposing personal details without consent existed, but it wasn't until the 1990s that the term 'doxing' originated within online hacker communities. In this era, anonymity was highly valued. Disputes among rival hackers occasionally escalated to the point where one individual would choose to 'drop docs' on another, revealing personal information about someone previously known only by their username or alias. Initially, 'doxxing' was coined to uncover concealed online identities. However, its scope has broadened beyond the hacker circles, affecting individuals who divulge their real identities online, particularly within the vast realms of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

What Information Do Doxers Seek?

In this digital age, doxers continually seek personal information in order to exploit their victims. Motives for doxing vary widely. Some resort to it out of anger towards others, while some do so in response to disagreeable opinions expressed online. Others engage in it to expose perceived deceit or concealment, especially amid heated debates. The information disclosed ranges from innocuous details to potentially harmful or hazardous data. Their motives range from personal vendettas to financial gain. The following is a list of information that doxers may seek:

  • Phone numbers: Lets them call or text people, which can lead to scams or harassment.
  • Home addresses: Big privacy issue. People's safety is at risk because they can be found.
  • Bank account details: Opens up financial problems like unauthorized transactions or theft.
  • Credit card details: Lets fraudsters buy stuff without permission or sell the info online.
  • Social security numbers/Permanent Identification Number: Key to identity theft, leading to fraud like fake loans or tax scams.
  • Personal communications: Emails or messages can tell a lot about a person's life and relationships.
  • Prior legal offenses: Can give a bad image, especially if misunderstood, harming one's reputation.
  • Personal imagery: Photos or videos can be used for blackmail or to damage reputation.
  • Private life incidents: Stories or personal stuff that would be embarrassing if shared.

Some of the methods used to dox people includes tracking usernames, running a WHOIS search on a domain name, phishing, stalking social media, tracking IP addresses, packet sniffing, using data brokers, etc.

Legal Repercussions of Doxing

Doxing gained widespread recognition in December 2011, when the hacktivist group Anonymous revealed detailed information about 7,000 law enforcement members in response to investigations into hacking activities. This incident underscored the potential consequences of doxing, which can vary from minor inconveniences like unwanted deliveries to more severe outcomes such as cyberbullying or real-life harassment. Even high-profile figures such as celebrities, politicians, or corporate executives have fallen prey to this invasive practice, jeopardizing their safety and well-being. Irrespective of the rationale behind it, doxing constitutes a blatant breach of privacy with grave implications for its victims.

In India, doxing is a punishable offence and can attract penalties under Sections 354 D and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 ("IPC"). Apart from this, Section 67 of the Information and Technology Act ("IT Act") is also applicable. In India, there is no law in place to prevent and/or punish doxing directly, though there are laws in place against- voyeurism (Section 354C IPC and IT Act), divulging sexually explicit content (IT Act) and obscene content (Section 292 IPC), defamation (Section 499 IPC) and online stalking (Section 354D IPC). Doxing not only violates our Right to Privacy and threatens our Right to Dignity, it also subjects us to harassment while placing us in danger directly.

In Shaviya Sharma v. Squint Neon, the plaintiff, while posting anonymously on social media about an interview with a public political figure, faced offensive responses including the disclosure of her personal information and communication with her employer. Claiming this constituted doxing, the plaintiff sought relief from the court. Justice Prathiba M Singh directed the removal of defaulting URLs by one of the defendants, as well as ordered the disclosure of basic subscriber information related to the alleged tweets of the other defendants to the plaintiff within a specified timeframe. The Court further held that while doxing is not explicitly defined in Indian law, it can still result in a breach of privacy rights. Despite the absence of specific legislation, the court suggested utilizing tort laws and privacy laws to provide remedies to victims of doxing.


In conclusion, doxing poses a serious threat to privacy and personal safety, with far-reaching consequences for individuals and communities. Its impact extends beyond just the digital realm, often resulting in real-life harassment, stalking, and even violence. In India, where digital connectivity is rapidly expanding, the prevalence of doxing is a growing concern. The lack of robust legal frameworks and awareness about online privacy exacerbates the problem. To address this issue effectively, it is imperative for both individuals and authorities to take proactive measures to safeguard personal information, promote digital literacy, and enact stringent laws to deter and punish doxing activities. Only through concerted efforts can we create a safer and more respectful online environment for all.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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