(Bloomberg) -- Australia will move quickly to legislate new measures targeting the malicious leaking of individuals’ personal data, or doxxing, following the distribution of a group of Jewish citizens’ contact details and photographs on the Internet.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he has asked the attorney general’s department to bring forward legislation on doxxing, which was already under consideration as part of a broader revision of Australia’s Privacy Act.
Potential measures include takedown notices and penalties for social media companies, Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said Tuesday. He gave no timeline for the passage of the changes.
Almost 600 Jewish Australians in academia and the creative industries had their names, images and professional details leaked online last week, local media reported. They were part of a private WhatsApp group that pro-Palestinian activists alleged was targeting anti-Israel voices in Australia’s arts community.
The publication of Jewish Australians’ contact information was “malicious,” Albanese said in a radio interview.
“The idea that in Australia, someone should be targeted because of their religion, because of their faith, whether they be Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or Catholic or Buddhist, is just completely unacceptable,” the prime minister said.
The government is increasingly concerned about community tensions sparked by the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, which has occasionally been reflected in Parliament with walkouts by Green lawmakers and claims of antisemitism by the center-right opposition. Australia is home to both a large Jewish community and a large Palestinian diaspora.
The center-left Labor government has repeatedly called for a cease-fire in Gaza, while reiterating Israel’s right to defend itself. Australia has historically been strongly pro-Israel, though like many western countries it’s seeing a groundswell of sympathy for the suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
Dreyfus said the government’s measures would include new provisions to target the “malicious use of people’s personal information without their consent,” as well as faster passage of laws intended to target hate speech.
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