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CNN reddit situation- Blackmailed user wrong person? BUZZFEED exposing CNN?!

Forums - Politics Discussion - CNN reddit situation- Blackmailed user wrong person? BUZZFEED exposing CNN?!

TH3-D0S3R said:
specialk said:

Probably. Let's ask a lawyer.

No, none of that is LEGAL at all, that is why people are opting for this person to reveal his identity.

Yeah, calling BS on this.

Seriously doubt that anyone has a legal obligation to protect anyone elses Reddit anonymity.



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specialk said:
TH3-D0S3R said:

No, none of that is LEGAL at all, that is why people are opting for this person to reveal his identity.

Yeah, calling BS on this.

Seriously doubt that anyone has a legal obligation to protect anyone elses Reddit anonymity.

For the most part, you are right (from my understanding of the law). 

The only real federal laws against doxxing are related to exposing "restricted personal information" of "individuals performing certain official duties" under 18 USC Sec 119. Basically, what this means is that you cannot expose the "the Social Security number, the home address, home phone number, mobile phone number, personal email, or home fax number" of a juror, witness or government employee involved in an investigation. I am aware of no such law protecting regular people and there is no such law regarding specifically the publication of a name (which is not restricted information). 

That said, often doxxing can be covered under separate laws such as stalking or harassment. That, however, is a bit of a separate question. As of this point, I think it would be very difficult to bring CNN to court over this since they have not revealed any information. However, even if they did reveal the user's name (I find it highly unlikely that they would reveal anything further except perhaps age and state), due to protections of the press, I think the defense that they were speaking about a relevant individual in a journalistic situation would overcome most evidence unless there was a specific and clear path to tie CNN directly to a harassment campaign against this individual (but I believe that it would require a lot more than just saying "the reddit user whos name is John Smith, created a meme").

tl;dr: Revealing the name of a non-protected individual without their consent is not against the law. There needs to be some other context to prosecute for a tangential crime and as a news agency, it is more difficult to prosecute such things than for regular citizens. 



sundin13 said:
specialk said:

Yeah, calling BS on this.

Seriously doubt that anyone has a legal obligation to protect anyone elses Reddit anonymity.

For the most part, you are right (from my understanding of the law). 

The only real federal laws against doxxing are related to exposing "restricted personal information" of "individuals performing certain official duties" under 18 USC Sec 119. Basically, what this means is that you cannot expose the "the Social Security number, the home address, home phone number, mobile phone number, personal email, or home fax number" of a juror, witness or government employee involved in an investigation. I am aware of no such law protecting regular people and there is no such law regarding specifically the publication of a name (which is not restricted information). 

That said, often doxxing can be covered under separate laws such as stalking or harassment. That, however, is a bit of a separate question. As of this point, I think it would be very difficult to bring CNN to court over this since they have not revealed any information. However, even if they did reveal the user's name (I find it highly unlikely that they would reveal anything further except perhaps age and state), due to protections of the press, I think the defense that they were speaking about a relevant individual in a journalistic situation would overcome most evidence unless there was a specific and clear path to tie CNN directly to a harassment campaign against this individual (but I believe that it would require a lot more than just saying "the reddit user whos name is John Smith, created a meme").

tl;dr: Revealing the name of a non-protected individual without their consent is not against the law. There needs to be some other context to prosecute for a tangential crime and as a news agency, it is more difficult to prosecute such things than for regular citizens. 

Thank you so much for the informative comments!