EXPLAINER: Government moves to criminalise 'doxxing'.

Australians who share others' personal information without their consent have been put on notice as the government fast-tracks moves to criminalise "doxxing".

Hundreds of public figures with Jewish heritage who were members of a private WhatsApp group had their names, photos and social media accounts published online by pro-Palestinian activists.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told Nine Radio the incident prompted a decision to move quickly to criminalise the practice.

"I've asked the attorney-general to bring forward legislation in response to the privacy act review, including laws that deal with so-called doxxing, which is basically the malicious publication of private information online," he said.

Pro-Palestinian advocates who shared the transcript from the WhatsApp group have defended the move as being in the public interest and rejected the suggestion it was doxxing. They argue personal details beyond names were largely redacted.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus is now exploring laws that would address doxxing and strengthen hate speech protections.

The government's online safety watchdog defines doxxing broadly 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 it was "the malicious release, publicly, of personal information of people without their consent".

"The recent targeting of members of the Australian Jewish community through those practices like doxxing was shocking but sadly, this is far from being an isolated incident," he told reporters this week.


"We live in a vibrant, multicultural community which we should strive to protect. No Australians should be targeted because of their race or because of their religion."

The possible changes would use the eSafety Commissioner's provisions to send takedown notices to social media sites and impose penalties, alongside other measures.

While opposition cyber security spokesman James Paterson supported the proposed laws, he said press freedoms must be taken into consideration.

"I'm sure it can be drafted in a way that both protects the community from this insidious and dangerous practice and preserves press freedom," he told reporters.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry welcomed the government's plan to make doxxing a crime.

"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.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the doxxing that took place was "completely unacceptable".

"This is not the Australia that we want to see," he said.

With AAP

Feature Image: AAP.