There has been an increase in reports of antisemitism in Australia since Israel’s war against Hamas began in October. In the United States, nearly two-thirds of American Jews feel less secure than they did a year ago, according to a new national survey.
The Australian government said on Feb. 13 it will outlaw doxxing – the malicious release online of personal or identifying information without the subject’s permission – after pro-Palestinian activists published personal details of hundreds of Jewish people in Australia.
The government was responding to Nine Entertainment news reports last week that pro-Palestinian activists had published the names, images, professions, and social media accounts of Jewish people working in academia and the creative industries.
“The increasing use of online platforms to harm people through practices like doxxing, the malicious release of their personal information without their permission, is a deeply disturbing development,” Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, who is Jewish, told reporters.
The Australian government’s online safety watchdog defines doxxing, which is also known as “dropping dox” or documents, as the “intentional online exposure of an individual’s identity, private information or personal details without their consent.”
Asked for his definition, Mr. Dreyfus said doxing was the “malicious release, publicly, of personal information of people without their consent.”
“We live in a vibrant multicultural community which we should strive to protect,” Mr. Dreyfus said.
The Australian government’s plan to outlaw doxxing was welcomed by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, which represents Australia’s Jewish community.
“We look forward to working with the government to ensure the full extent of the harm caused is understood and that the new laws effectively protect Australians from this shameful and dangerous practice,” council president Daniel Aghion said.
Monash University cybersecurity expert Nigel Phair applauded the idea of a law against doxxing, but questioned how it could be enforced.
“It’s really difficult for policing agencies to police such laws when, really, they just don’t get the access to the data. Really, it’s the social media companies who bear the responsibility,” Mr. Phair told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Antisemitism on the rise in the United States
One-quarter of American Jews said they have been the target of antisemitism in the past year. Almost half of American Jews responding to the survey said they had altered their behavior during the past year to avoid antisemitism – changing what they wore, what they posted online, or where they went so other people wouldn’t know they were Jewish.
Most Americans who witnessed antisemitism saw it online or on social media, but only 5% said they reported it. More than 1 in 5 American Jews said an online incident made them feel physically threatened.
“So it’s not just some of the memes or jokes,” said Holly Huffnagle, the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) U.S. director for combating antisemitism. “This is real, vitriolic antisemitism that’s affecting them, that’s making them feel physically unsafe.”
“I live in a rural area and my home is most likely the only Jewish home in a 30-mile radius,” a woman is quoted as saying in the survey report. “We don’t tell people and outside the home do not show that we are Jewish.”
The Biden administration released a national strategy last year to combat antisemitism, and the AJC is encouraging further action on those recommendations. Ted Deutch, the CEO of AJC and a former member of Congress, said they will keep working with the government to implement the national strategy.
“But ultimately,” Mr. Deutch said, “we’re really looking to our friends, our allies in other faith communities, in our places of work, in our schools, to stand with us, to understand how we feel and to work together to fight antisemitism and in turn to fight hatred of all kinds.”
This story was reported by The Associated Press.