The Oklahoma legislature has advanced a bill to protect retired officers from online doxing by making it a misdemeanor offense.
Doxing refers to having one’s personal information and identity exposed online with the intent to threaten, intimidate and harass.
Senate Bill 1522 unanimously passed its Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on February 1. It is intended as a follow-up bill to legislation signed into law last session to protect law enforcement officers from doxing.
The bill is authored by Senator David Bullard, who filed the previous successful anti-doxing law.
“It’s unimaginable that anyone would try to harm our brave law enforcement officers by posting their addresses or other personal information online, but it has happened at an alarming rate in the last few years,” Senator Bullard said. “That bill passed overwhelmingly; however, we need to ensure our retired law enforcement officers have the same protections.”
SB 1522 would make doxing retired law enforcement officers a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine — or both. It also considers providing personal information for others to use as an offense.
Multiple doxing offenses could result in up to two years in jail and/or a fine of $2,000.
Bullard said the bill is necessary to protect retired officers from enemies they may have made during their careers who seek revenge.
“Given some of their long careers, these retired peace officers may have many criminals who they’ve brought to justice wanting revenge,” the senator explained. “It can be an extremely scary and dangerous situation for these men and women who dedicated their careers to upholding justice and protecting their communities. We need to honor their service by ensuring a safe retirement, free of harassment.”
The bill also allows retired officers to request that the county assessor not publish their personal information online, which can put them at risk for online targeting.
The bill is not without its critics. ACLU Oklahoma director of policy and advocacy Nicole McAfee complained that the previous anti-doxing law could lead to accountability issues by expanding the definition of doxing even when it is not intentional.
“With this bill … it was made clear that anyone posting videos or photos of law enforcement would be expected to blur out their names on badges,” she said.
Lawyers also had questions and concerns about the impact of the law on constitutional rights.
“If it shows their face, is that personal identifying information? If it shows their name on their badge, is that personal identifying information? Because it’s information, there are First Amendment issues here that have to be balanced with the constitutionality of this law, and without any definitions in place regarding personal identifying information, we don’t know exactly where those borders are but be aware this is a new offense,” Oklahoma attorney James Wirth said.
The bill now heads to the Senate floor.