DOJ Wants Info on 1.3M People Who Visited Anti-Trump Site

This frame grab shows part of the Twitter page of US President Donald Trump

This frame grab shows part of the Twitter page of US President Donald Trump

Webhosting service DreamHost has said that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has requested information on everyone who visited DisruptJ20.org, a website that was set up to organize political protests against the U.S. administration. The request included information on the owners of the site as well as the IP addresses of 1.3 million visitors, the date and time of the visits and what browser and operating system was used.

This includes all data on communications and funding of the website, as well as all 1.3 million IP addresses of everyone who has ever visited the website, along with any other contact information identifying those readers of the site. DreamHost says that while it doesn't have information on the affidavit for the search warrant, the DOJ has requested "all information available to us about this website, its owner, and, more importantly, its visitors".

DreamHost said it has been working with the Department of Justice for several months on the request.

It obtained a search warrant for the company that hosted the website, DreamHost.

More than 200 people were charged after protesters broke windows and set fire to a limousine on Trump's Inauguration Day on January 20.

The warrant also attempts to find out what content each person viewed on the website.

Among other things it demanded that Dreamhost turn over "all records or other information" pertaining to disruptj20.org, including log files showing who visited the website, when, from where, and what they looked at, and all emails related to the website.

DreamHost argues the "Search Warrant can not survive scrutiny" considering First Amendment protections.

'That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone's mind'.

Wide-reaching warrants for user data are sometimes issued when the content of a site is illegal such as pirated movies or child sexual abuse imagery, but speech is rarely prohibited.

DreamHost also argues that the overbroad demand violates the Fourth Amendment's requirement that search warrants identify specifically what the government wants to seize.

Mark Rumold, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, warned in a blog post of the "staggering overbreadth of the search warrant", and called the move an unconstitutional effort to prosecute Trump's political opponents.

"But the Fourth Amendment was created to prohibit fishing expeditions like this", Rumold said.

The Department of Justice most recently filed a motion in a Washington DC Superior Court requesting an order compelling DreamHost to hand over the information.

"Here, the concerns are exacerbated because we're dealing with core, protected First Amendment activities", he said.

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