The Albanese government is swiftly moving to criminalise the malicious release of personal information after pro-Palestine activists targeted hundreds of members of the Australian Jewish community through a WhatsApp group.
The writers, artists, and academics were subjected to "doxing" with their names, images, and contact details deliberately sought and published so the individuals could be targeted for further abuse, even death threats, in an already heated climate. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry said their "only common trait is that they are Jewish".
"This is not the Australia that we want to see," the Prime Minister said.
"[It was] not a WhatsApp group that was heavily political, a WhatsApp group to provide support for each other because of the rise in anti-Semitism that we've seen. And what we've seen is them being targeted."
What is doxing?
Doxing, or "dropping documents", is the act of deliberately causing harm by maliciously outing personal details.
It is not a new phenomenon, but modern communications have opened possibilities to find personal details while making it easier to spread the harm to a wider audience. It is a form of cyber-bulling.
"Legislation has struggled to keep up," Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said.
Who is behind this push?
There has been a quick, effective campaign from the Jewish community and MPs, such as Liberal backbencher Julian Leeser, Labor MP Josh Burns, independent member for Wentworth Allegra Spender and independent member for Goldstein Zoe Daniel, to get the government moving.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the Anti-Defamation Commission have led the call for reform of the criminal code to make it unlawful to "post private or identifying information about an individual or group with the intent that the information be used to cause harm to the victim". They also regard social media platforms as having a "duty to act" over doxing and want those found guilty of doxing to have their accounts permanently deactivated.
Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dvir Abramovich referred to "cyber-anti-Semitism".
"It's imperative that governments step in and protect the victims who have already been subjected to death threats and hold the perpetrators accountable," he said.
Mr Leeser had urged the Attorney-General to act, warning that doxing is not just about Jewish Australians.
"The tactic of doxing can hurt anyone perceived to be involved in Australian public life - from the home addresses of public servants and police to local branch members of a political party, or the details of family members of a public official," he said.
"It is a tactic that is meant to intimidate - from artists and sportspeople to journalists and politicians. It should be outlawed."
Ms Spender said recklessly publishing personal details to create division" simply tears at our social fabric."
So what is the Albanese government doing?
Anthony Albanese wants these malicious acts stomped on as soon as possible.
The Attorney-General said it was a "deeply disturbing" development, "shocking", but "far from being an isolated incident".
It is moving to protect personal privacy by criminalising doxing under federal law.
It is doing it through already underway changes to the Privacy Act. There will be new provisions to deal with doxing. There will also be new provisions that strengthen current laws that deal with hate speech.
How exactly is it doing this?
It is still being worked out.
Mr Dreyfus said exactly what doxing behaviour is being covered by the new legislation is being sorted out now.
"It's clearly got different malicious purposes, depending on the context. But that's something that we're going to have to deal with when we prepare this legislation," the Attorney-General said.
Is there Opposition support?
In short, yes, there is bipartisan support.
"The Coalition strongly condemns the leaking of private information of a number of Jewish Australians online which is an abhorrent breach of privacy and an appalling attempt at intimidation," shadow attorney-general Michaelia Cash said.
"This matter is currently subject to an investigation by Victorian police, as is appropriate.
"The Coalition will consider any measure to strengthen protections for Australians online, including protections relating to the release of personal information. We are happy to work with the government and community to ensure the legal framework is fit for purpose."
What about the responsibility of social media companies?
The Attorney-General pointed to provisions through the eSafety Commissioner that require online platforms to take down offending posts and information.
"We've seen the eSafety Commissioner not only sending takedown notices but imposing penalties. That's one of the measures that we're certainly going to be looking at in relation to this practice of doxing," Mr Dreyfus said.
What about public interest, investigative journalism?
The media may, in reporting, seek and publish controversial information, so it is possible that journalism could be caught up in this new legislative push.
It is a concern of Liberal senator James Paterson.
"If a law is necessary to stop this from happening then I support it," he said. "There are important considerations for press freedom, which I hope will be incorporated into the drafting of the legislation.
"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."