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Australia set to ban doxxing after Jewish WhatsApp group leak – despite tactic being used against conservatives and right wingers for decades

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has promised to bring in tough new laws criminalising “doxxing” after 600 Jewish members of a WhatsApp group had their names and details leaked by anti-Zionist activists.

Doxxing – the malicious publication of private or identifying information on the internet – has long been used as a cancel culture tactic to shame and harass conservatives and right wing dissidents, but is the subject of renewed attention after the outing of Jewish writers, artists and academics last week.

Mr Albanese spoke out after a cross-party group of MPs including Julian Leeser and Josh Burns, who are both Jewish, backed a call from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the Anti-Defamation Commission to add a prohibition of doxxing to the federal criminal code.

“I’ve asked the Attorney-General to bring forward legislation in response to the Privacy Act review, including laws that deal with so-called doxxing, which is basically the malicious publication of private information online,” Mr Albanese told 2GB on Monday.

“The idea that in Australia, someone should be targeted because of their religion, because of their faith – whether they be Jewish, or Muslim or Hindu or Catholic or Buddhist – is just completely unacceptable.

“And that’s why I’ve asked, as well, the Attorney-General to develop proposals to strengthen laws against hate speech, which we will be doing. This is not the Australia that we want to see.”

It is already a criminal offence to use a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence, but the new law would also cover harassment via the release of personal or identifying information online.

There is expected to be an exemption for “public interest journalism”, including the reporting on public figures.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, who is also Jewish, has already promised new hate speech and vilification laws on top of the federal legislation which came into effect last month criminalising the Nazi salute and the display of Nazi symbols in public.

“The recent targeting of members of the Australian Jewish community through doxxing was shocking, but sadly a far from isolated event,” Mr Dreyfus told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“No Australian should be targeted because of their race or religion.”

Opposition leader Peter Dutton also said last week that doxxing needed to be “urgently looked at” by police.

Pro-Palestinian activists last week posted links to an online file containing a leaked group chat transcript of a WhatsApp group named J.E.W.I.S.H along with documents containing names, images, social media accounts and occupations of the 600 members.

Victoria Police are looking at whether charges can be brought against the leakers.

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