Say I find someone's ssn. Then I go around sharing it with everyone and all their personal info.

Am I committing identity theft? I am not directly using their identity. I am not directly benefiting from this either. Besides civil damages what law is broken?

1 Answer 1


It depends on who you are releasing information about.

What you are suggest is often referred to as "doxxing" - the releasing of private information about an individual - and its not as straight forward as "nothing will happen to you".

In the US, if you do this to a "covered person", you can potentially find yourself with a large fine, or even up to 5 years in prison under 18 U.S. Code § 119.Protection of individuals performing certain official duties

Under the above code, the following is counted as "restricted information":

the term “restricted personal information” means, with respect to an individual, the Social Security number, the home address, home phone number, mobile phone number, personal email, or home fax number of, and identifiable to, that individual;

  • That seems a narrow category of individual and only with violent intent
    – user31580
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 2:20
  • @user31580, no, not just violent intent - threats and intimidation don't have to be violent, and the commission of a crime of violence is only one of three considerations (the other two being the release of information is intended to threaten or intimidate the exposed party). But yes, a narrow category of individual, but one which applies to a lot of people when you consider that it probably covers most law enforcement, most government jobs etc.
    – user28517
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 2:25

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