Some may consider doxing, SWATting, and DoS attacks to be little more than funny pranks, but in Utah, those "pranks" could soon mean jail time.

Doxing, swatting, and DoS attacks considered felonies in new Utah bill

Some may consider doxing, SWATting, and DoS attacks to be little more than funny pranks, but in Utah, those "pranks" could soon mean jail time.

Utah Representative David E. Lifferth (R) is serious about stopping cyber crime — so serious that he’s introduced a bill to amend the criminal code to classify certain unsavory (and often dangerous) activities as criminal. Depending on the offense, cyber criminals can be charged with anything from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. 

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Utah’s House Bill 225 focuses on crimes that are considered to be forms of harassment, like doxing, swatting, and DoS (Denial of Service) attacks — activities that often have serious consequences for the victims involved. 

While the bill’s language does not include the word “doxing,” it includes an apt description of the practice as anyone who: 

“[…] electronically publishes, posts, or otherwise makes available personal identifying information in a public online site or forum” with the “intent to annoy, alarm, intimidate, offend, abuse, threaten, harass, frighten, or disrupt the electronic communications of another.”

Doxing an adult, according to the bill, will be a class A or B misdemeanor, depending on whether or not it’s a first offense. However, doxing a minor has much more severe consequences, being classified as a third degree felony.

The term “swatting” is also missing from the bill, but is nonetheless legally defined as: 

“…mak[ing] a false report to an emergency response service, including a law enforcement dispatcher or a 911 emergency response service, or intentionally aids, abets, or causes a third party to make the false report, and the false report describes an ongoing emergency situation that as reported is causing or poses an imminent threat of causing serious bodily injury, serious physical injury, or death; and states that the emergency situation is occurring at a specified location.”

The bill classifies “swatting” as a third degree felony, regardless of the age of the victim.

Denial of Service attacks are mentioned in the bill by name, being defined as “an attack or intrusion that is intended to disrupt legitimate access to a network resource or system.” These attacks are considered a third degree felony.

Such crimes have made the headlines a lot in recent years, with prominent, controversial figures in gaming being doxed for voicing unpopular opinions and Twitch streamers being swatted as a prank.

Further, cybercrimes such as these damage the gaming community at large, at a time when gaming has slowly begun to gain more respect – because every gamer that starts or participates in a charity or earns recognition as an eSports competitor can be terribly overshadowed by one “prankster” that thought the potential harm that could be done by such a “joke” was easily outweighed by the amusement they gained from someone else’s inconvenience — or even outright terror. Legislation like what’s being proposed in Utah might be a step towards deterring such behavior – and as a result, it may help to improve the standing of gaming in society at large.

Is this bill a step in the right direction, or does it not go far enough? What would you consider a fair classification for these offenses, and why? Let us know in the comment section.


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Jessa Rittenhouse
Jessa wears a lot of hats - anthropology graduate, mother, obsessive book nerd, writer of both fiction and non-fiction - but her favorite hat is that of the gamer - a hat she's worn since owning an Atari was a "big deal."