Posting public health officials’ personal information online that threatens their safety, a practice often referred to as doxxing, is now illegal in Colorado. It’s a response to the targeting that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic.
HB21-1107, which Gov. Jared Polis signed Tuesday, makes it a misdemeanor to publish that information on the internet if it poses an imminent or serious threat to the workers or their family members. This would apply to all public health workers, including contractors or members of county or district boards; elected county commissioners are exempt.
The law, which took effect immediately, also allows public health workers to request certain personal information be redacted from publicly accessible government databases on the internet.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought such increased responsibilities for public health workers, tasked with monitoring and preventing the spread of disease,” Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan said at the bill signing. “Throughout Colorado and across the country, there have been instances of local public health officials facing threats and vandalism.”
Ryan said the law is vital to protecting health workers, and provides some of the same protections police, and child welfare and adult protective service workers already get.
It was a bipartisan bill, and Thornton Democratic Rep. Yadira Caraveo said it’ll let public health workers focus on their important jobs instead of worrying about the threats and intimidation against them and their families.
And Republican Rep. Terri Carver of Colorado Springs said that while different views on public health orders are acceptable, “we must be at unity and draw a line clearly by Colorado statute is against doxxing that puts our public health workers and their families at risk of harm.”
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