Federal Prosecutors Are Demanding Information On Visitors To An Inauguration Protest Website

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According to Dreamhost, a web hosting provider, federal prosecutors in Washington have been attempting for months to gain access to all records, including IP addresses for all visitors, for disruptj20.org, a website that organized anti-Trump administration protests in January. The prosecutors obtained a search warrant in July but so far have been fought by Dreamhost in court, who is resisting providing data on those who “participated, planned, organized, or incited” the demonstrations:

DreamHost contends in court filings that DOJ’s requests are unconstitutionally overbroad and would effectively require them to provide the HTTP logs for over 1.3 million IP addresses of visitors to the website.

“That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment,” DreamHost said in the blog post. “That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind. This is, in our opinion, a strong example of investigatory overreach and a clear abuse of government authority.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has been advising Dreamhost on this case, called the warrant an “unconstitutional fishing expedition.”

“I can’t conceive of a legitimate justification other than casting your net as broadly as possible to justify millions of user logs,” Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Mark Rumold told the Guardian.

“What they would be getting is a list of everyone who has ever been interested in attending these protests or seeing what was going on at the protests and that’s the troubling aspect. It’s a short step after you have the list to connect the IP address to someone’s identity,” he said.

A court hearing to determine to what extent Dreamhost has to comply with the search warrant is scheduled for Friday.

(Via CNN & The Guardian)