In a blog post today, online web hosting provider DreamHost disclosed that it has been involved in a months-long legal battle with the Justice Department over records on visitors to an anti-Trump website.
The dispute focuses on a Justice Department demand for information on data related to disruptj20.org, which describes itself as a group of activists “building the framework needed for mass protests to shut down the inauguration of Donald Trump and planning widespread direct actions to make that happen.”
DreamHost is taking issue with a warrant issued by the department for "all files" related to the website, which DreamHost says would compel them to turn over electronic data like visitor logs. That would include IP addresses and other information that could be used to identify anyone who visited the site. “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,” the company said in its blog post. The warrant, DreamHost argues, would also require it to hand over any communications that are even tangentially related to the website.
“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. A hearing on the situation is set for Friday in Washington, DC Superior Court.
Although the allegations that the Justice Department may be investigating aren’t clear, more than 200 protestors were arrested during Trump’s inauguration, allegedly in connection to vandalism and other incidents.
The warrant has already drawn condemnation from some legal commentators. “The government has made no effort whatsoever to limit the warrant to actual evidence of any particular crime,” PopeHat blogger Ken White writes. “If you visited the site, if you left a message, they want to know who and where you are — whether or not you did anything but watch TV on inauguration day.”