Department Of Justice Reportedly Requested Info On 1.3 Million People Who Visited Anti-Trump Site
If the Department of Justice gets its way, some 1.3 million members of the resistance could have their IP addresses exposed to the federal government. The DOJ issued a search warrant for info on anti-Trump website visitors. The site, www.disruptj20.org, was one of the main domains involved in the organization of Inauguration Day protests. Some 200 people were indicted on rioting charges connected to downtown D.C. protests Jan. 20.
DreamHost, the company that hosts the website, was served the latest search warrant in July. The LA-based web hosting provider is fighting the request, as the company first disclosed in a blog post Monday. There are about 1.3 million visitors that would be affected as well as an unknown number of subscribers to the page's email list.
DreamHost explains just how problematic this truly is, because "the DOJ has recently asked DreamHost to provide all information available to us about this website, its owner, and, more importantly, its visitors." The potential for abuse is huge, DreamHost writes:
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. That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.
The company did not provide the information to the DOJ but rather tried to address the breadth of the search in correspondence with U.S. attorneys. Justice did not limit their request, but rather filed a motion in D.C. Superior Court to make DreamHost produce the records, DreamHost explained on their blog.
DreamHost is fighting that motion. The first court hearing is scheduled for Friday, and meanwhile the company's legal team has submitted an opposition motion to the court. In it, DreamHost explains that because the government has asked for "all files" related to the website, that would mean an HTTP log for visitors. That is how mere visitors could be potentially identified through their IP addresses. The opposing motion reads, in part:
This Court should not permit the government to trample upon the privacy of the individuals interacting with the website and force DreamHost to produce the electronic information that would not only identify who they are, but specifically what each of these individuals viewed, read or the political content that they were interested in.
In addition to the HTTP log, the government requested the "names, addresses, telephone numbers and other identifiers, e-mail addresses, business information, the length of service (including start date), means and source of payment for services (including any credit card or bank account number), and information about any domain name registration" for any subscribers related to www.disruptj20.org.
Bustle contacted John Borchert, the U.S. attorney listed on the July search warrant, but his office declined comment at this time, noting the hearing on Friday morning.