No Doxing, Ghosting or Brandjacking

By Dee Wampler

Missouri Law prohibits publicly posting or publicly displaying in any manner an individual’s social security number,[1] or to publicly post or display or make available to the general public persons social security number which should be otherwise secure and encrypted. And no state agency may  publicly disclose any social security number unless such disclosure is otherwise permitted by state or federal law.[2]

Once criminals obtain such confidential information they often participate in “doxing”  (doxxing) which refers to the compiling and releasing of a dossier of personal information on someone or openly revealing and publicizing records of an individual which were previously private or difficult to obtain.  It is an Internet-based practice of researching and broadcasting private information about an individual or corporation.

Ghosting” is identity theft in which a criminal steals the identity or even the role within society of a specific dead person (the “ghost” who is not widely known to be deceased).  The ghoster is roughly the same age that the ghost would have been if he were alive so that the documents citing the birth date of the ghost will not be conspicuously incorrect.  The purpose of “Ghosting” is to enable a ghoster to claim for their own use an existing identity that is already listed in government records.

Brandjacking” is an activity where a criminal acquires or assumes the online identity of another entity for the purpose of acquiring that person’s or business brand equity which combines the notions of “branding” and “highjacking.”

Releasing or making public driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, or other state or federal confidential information.

No state agency can publicly disclose any social security number of any living person unless it is otherwise permitted by State or Federal law, although such disclosure may be allowed for use in connection with any civil, criminal, administrative or arbitrary proceeding in any Federal, State or local court.

Confidential memos addressed to the Chief of Police or Sheriff is protected, but the releasing of such information publicly could get a law enforcement officers into trouble.

[1] RSMo. 407.1355.1

[2] RSMo. 610.035