An unfortunate reality is that conspiracy theorists, fringe actors, and others with malicious intent regularly target researchers.
Vicious hate mail and death threats are common occurrences for climate scientists: One was the victim of an anthrax scare. Another had a dead animal dropped on their doorstep — while their child was at home.
There are websites devoted to publishing scientists’ contact information, a practice known as doxxing, so that the followers of these sites can flood scientist’s inboxes with threatening messages.
Other internet harassment tactics involve posting private details about researchers, such as the names of their family members or home addresses, for harassers to use against them.
What’s at Stake
Doxxing and death threats are invasions of privacy used to silence scientists by making them fear for the well being of themselves, their families, and their colleagues.
The people advancing knowledge about our planet have the right to feel safe in their day-to-day lives. They should feel comfortable publishing and discussing their research and not be harassed after giving an interview to the media or a public talk.
Doxxing and death threats interfere with the ability of scientists to do their job and disincentive civic engagement by scientists.
How We’re Taking Action
We provide free legal guidance and support to scientists who are doxxed or threatened; we also teach researchers how to avoid being targeted. And through our Campus Reps Program, we’ve built a national network to help guide campus-wide responses.
Learn more about common tactics used to harass researchers and, if you’re a scientist, how to protect yourself from these attacks.
Essential Reading & Resources
In the new “post-truth” political environment, scientists must be prepared for politically-motivated attacks. We produced this pocket guide to educate scientists on the legal risks they may face so they can prepare and protect themselves.
This guide concerns only U.S. laws, and should not be taken as individual legal advice. If you are facing any of the situations described in this guide, or one not covered here, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us using our web form to set up a free consultation with an attorney who can discuss the specific laws and options that pertain to your case.
We train law professors at colleges and universities across the U.S. to help scientists understand how to protect themselves from harassment and legal attacks. They serve as the first point of contact for researchers with questions about legal issues and refer scientists to us as needed.
Find a CSLDF campus rep in your area.