New laws criminalising “doxxing” will be rushed through Parliament as part of fast-tracked reforms to the Privacy Act in response to the publishing of a group chat comprising Jewish writers and artists.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese revealed on Monday that he had tasked Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus to “bring forward legislation in response to the Privacy Act review” to criminalise doxxing, which he defined as the “malicious publication of private information online”, as the ABC reported.

The eSafety Commissioner defines doxxing as the “intentional online exposure of an individual’s identity, private information or personal details without their consent”.

Albanese said the new powers were required following the publishing online of a log of private WhatsApp group messages between Jewish Australian artists and creatives.

Those behind the publishing of this information have denied it was a doxxing and said that personal details such as phone numbers or email addresses were not included.

It’s unclear how the doxxing criminalisation powers would work in practice.

Dreyfus flagged on Tuesday that they may focus on social media platforms rather than individuals posting the content, with an expansion to the current takedown regime.

“We’ve already got some provisions through the eSafety Commissioner that enable online platforms to be required to take down,” Dreyfus told the media.

“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 doxxing.”

Dreyfus said the publishing of the WhatsApp group chat log was “disturbing”.

“The increasing use of online platforms to harm people through the malicious release of their personal and private information is a deeply disturbing development,” he said.

“The recent targeting of members of the Australian Jewish community through doxxing was shocking, but sadly a far from isolated event.”

Such laws would likely include an exemption for public interest journalism involving the reporting on public figures.

It’s unclear whether the publishing of chat messages that has motivated the reforms would be included under them as they did not include private information such as phone numbers or emails.

“We see that with massive changes in digital technology that is [happening] throughout our society, that the opportunities for invasions of privacy, the opportunities for the use of people’s personal information without consent, the opportunities for really malicious actions to take place, affecting hundreds of thousands of people very, very quickly, has been made possible,” Dreyfus said.

“Legislation has struggled to keep up. That’s part of the reason behind this reform of the Privacy Act that we’ve embarked on. And clearly, all of those things are needing to be looked at.”

The new doxxing crackdown will be included in the government’s long-awaited legislation to respond to the long-running review of the Privacy Act.

This review has been in the works for nearly five years after it was recommended by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) as part of its digital platforms inquiry.

The federal government responded to the final report late last year, agreeing to some reforms but opting for further consultation on many of the most significant elements.

The government agreed to implement reforms around greater transparency in automated decision-making and improved online safety for children but will be consulting more on a direct right of action for privacy breaches and on the removal of the exemption from the Privacy Act for small businesses.