Dreamhost Fighting DOJ Warrant for Info on Anti-Trump Protesters
I want to get back to writing more about technology issues, I really do. But our current political climate is compelling me to respond, and I’m on a roll. Plus, the following is also related to technology…
The request from the DOJ demands that DreamHost hand over 1.3 million visitor IP addresses — in addition to contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of people — in an effort to determine who simply visited 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. 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.
Dreamhost hosts the targeted website, disruptj20.org, which was used to organize protests at Trump’s inauguration.
We don’t know exactly what is in the affidavit filed with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia or what the DOJ’s objectives are. More information will no doubt come out about this in the coming days.
The preliminary look at this makes one wonder what the DOJ is up to. The Electronic Frontier Foundation:
No plausible explanation exists for a search warrant of this breadth, other than to cast a digital dragnet as broadly as possible. But the Fourth Amendment was designed to prohibit fishing expeditions like this. Those concerns are especially relevant here, where DOJ is investigating a website that served as a hub for the planning and exercise of First Amendment-protected activities.