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While it is my understanding that electronically or postally publishing someone's personal information in an attempt to cause them emotional distress, intimidate them, or place them in reasonable fear of bodily harm (esp. by facilitating others' efforts to surveil them with intent to harass, intimidate, or even injure them) is generally illegal in the United States (per 18 USC § 2261A (2)), what laws (if any) does Iceland have against this?

In particular, if I am a U.S. citizen, and my current ISP and all domestic webhosts have refused service to me due to my continued pursuit of such activity, and I have moved my harassing presence to an Iceland-based webhost that advertises "free speech" and whose ToS does not specifically prohibit doxing, what angles of attack (other than a pure appeal to the abuse team's humanity) might dislodge me?

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    Are the people doxed in Iceland? My impression is that almost all of the 372,000 or so people in Iceland have publicly disclosed contact information in whatever the modern equivalent of a phone book is there. I would also not agree with you that this is generally illegal in the U.S. although it might be in some specific circumstances. Finally, if the person doxed is in the U.S. and you are in the U.S., the fact that an ISP was in Iceland would not relieve you from liability under U.S. law.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 3:45
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    @ohwilleke No; the context of this is one American doxing another. The doxer has been evicted from enough domestic providers that they have given up on VPS-hopping and just started hiring foreign providers. But, while many companies respect all "applicable" laws, other companies only respect laws from their own jurisdiction. For Icelandic hosts in the latter category, it would be nice to be able to say "you are hosting activity which is illegal in your jurisdiction as well as your client's jurisdiction". Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 3:57
  • Yeah, it looks like they have no international participation to speak of: “Let's say you are an American facing prosecution and you want to escape the long arm of the American law. Where's the best place to go? Iceland, perhaps, and we'll get to that in a moment.” –Greg Myre, "Where Should You Run?", NPR Parallels, 2013 Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 12:05

2 Answers 2

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Tentatively, it appears that the answer is "No; doxxing is legal in Iceland" -- at least according to the legal/PR team of one major hosting provider:

…your customer [per above details and evidence] is using your services to publish full legal names, addresses, license plate numbers, home phones, details of Thanksgiving dinners, employer contact details, etc. of political dissidents -- with the sole purpose to put the named individuals directly in reasonable fear of bodily injury or death and to cause substantial emotional distress.

This is illegal per 18 USC § 2261A (2) in your customer's jurisdiction of residence, and they have already been evicted from multiple domestic providers for their activity.

Your ToS prohibits "other malicious internet activity"; does stalking and harassment qualify?

Hello,

we are not an US company so US law doesent[sic] apply to us and we do not follow it.

Best regards

[Icelandic name]

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  • You might misinterpret something: You might not have a right to privacy of that information in Iceland.
    – Trish
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 15:56
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    The fact that an ISP is located in Iceland does not, however, imply that the doxxing activity of the U.S. person using the ISP in Iceland legally takes place in Iceland for purposes of legal action against the U.S. person engaged in the doxxing. One could get a court order directing the company not to do it and then incarcerate the customer for contempt of court if it is not taken down.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 22:19
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Since doxxing is a vague meme, it is not specifically illegal. Acquisition of the distributed information is probably illegal, for example in the US, 18 USC 1030. In court, the question would not be whether you "dodded" someone, it would be about actions that you took that violated specific laws, and we don't know the totality of your possibly-actionable actions. But then, the hacking part is about you and not the ISP, so the pertinent question is, what avenues could your victims pursue either against you or your ISP – the ISP is the obvious, most-vulnerable target? And then, what counter-measure would be available to you?

Pursuing a judgment against you or the ISP could be most effectively carried out in US courts, and we're really only concerned with actions against the ISP, since the possibility of legal action against them could motivate a decision to follow path A, vs. B. The evidence indicates that they at least have the contractual right to terminate your service. They could be motivated to do so if they detect a credible threat to their business interests (contract law generally does not obligate a party to legally harm themselves). If US courts find that their actions (of enabling you) violate US law, the courts can take action against the ISP.

Without you doxxing the ISP, we can't assess the vulnerability of the ISP to legal action in US courts. For example, US courts can't direct order the seizure of property in Iceland, but they can order the seizure of property in the US. They can't issue and enforce an injunction in Iceland, but they can do that in the US. So the question is whether the ISP has enough of a business interest in the US that they are unwilling to tell the US courts to take a leap. Or, are they sufficiently persuaded that the case against them under US law is weak enough that it poses no threat to them?

This article is pertinent to the question. Basically, an ISP is not liable for being a passive instrument for a cyber-attack, see for example Zeran v. Am. Online, Inc., 129 F.3d 327 which invokes the infamous section 230. See also Barnes v. Yahoo, 570 F.3d 1096. The article also sketches copyright-based theories of contributory and vicarious liability. The Icelandic ISP can they, at least presently, count on this immunity. Their position that US law does not apply to them is in error, but applying US law to them, they are not liable (under US law).

Icelandic law does apply to them. Then, do they violate the Act on Protection of Privacy? Or the Data Protection act which implements GDPR? Under GDPR, the victim of the attack can request removal of the data. However, this is a "show me the paperwork" situation: the ISP does not have liability just for having been a conduit (Directive 2000/31/EC). There may be various specific directives that assign a pro-active responsibility to the ISP, but nothing as general as GDPR.

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