Dreamhost Fights DoJ Request For Anti-Trump Supporters Names

Dreamhost Fights DoJ Request For Anti-Trump Supporters Names

Now, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is demanding the IP addresses of all of the visitors who visited the website - disruptj20.org - that helped organise the anti-Trump rally.

"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", a DreamHost spokesperson said today.

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.

The web host describes the DoJ's request for information as "investigatory overreach and a clear abuse of government authority".

DisruptJ20.org was used to organize protests in Washington, D.C. on Trump's inauguration day, 20 January.

A hearing on the dispute is set for Friday in Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

"In essence, the Search Warrant not only aims to identify the political dissidents of the current administration, but attempts to identify and understand what content each of these dissidents viewed on the website", the company said in a legal filing arguing against the warrant.

In the post, titled "We Fight For The Users", DreamHost wrote, "While we have no insight into the affidavit for the search warrant (those records are sealed), the DOJ has recently asked DreamHost to provide all information available to us about this website, its owner, and, more importantly, its visitors". Naturally, the company has filed legal arguments in opposition to the request.

The site in question is #DisruptJ20, which is hosted by DreamHost. "Millions of visitors-activists, reporters, or you (if you clicked on the link)-would have records of their visits turned over to the government". However, the latest demand seemed "highly untargeted", the company wrote in a blog post.

"The internet was founded [.] on its democratising ability to facilitate a free exchange of ideas".

It claimed there was no other explanation for the breadth of the search warrant "other than to cast a digital dragnet as broadly as possible".

The move has alarmed privacy advocates who say it is an unconstitutional "fishing expedition" for political dissidents.

The EFF further applauded DreamHost's effort to get the DOJ to narrow the scope of its warrant - a request the DOJ ultimately refused in mid-July. "Those concerns are especially relevant here, where [Justice Dept] is investigating a website that served as a hub for the planning and exercise of First Amendment-protected activities".

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