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Doxxing That Causes Harm Becomes 10-Year Felony Under Michigan House Bill

Posting private or identifying information about an individual with malicious intent

Republican State Rep. Beth Griffin has introduced a bill in the Michigan House that would make “doxxing” a crime.

House Bill 6206 says doxxing happens when a person “publishes private or identifying information about a specific individual on the internet with malicious intent.” Under the bill, a first offense would be a misdemeanor. But if the act is part of a “continued pattern of harassing or intimidating behavior,” a conviction could bring five years in prison, and 10 years if the victim dies.

An example of doxxing with extremely serious potential consequences involved Romeo resident Joel Vangheluwe. In that incident, people on the internet incorrectly identified him as the man who drove into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Another man, James Alex Fields Jr., was convicted of the attack, which killed one person.

The car used in that incident previously belonged to the Vangheluwe family, but neither the family or Joel Vangheluwe had anything to do the attack. Yet people on Twitter incorrectly identified him as the owner of the car and posted his home address. The Michigan State Police advised the family to leave their home for their own safety due to the numerous threats that followed.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.