After controversy over a broad search warrant that could have identified visitors to an anti-Trump website, the Justice Department says it’s scaling back a demand for information from hosting service DreamHost.
The Justice Department says it will carve out exceptions to the request
Last week, DreamHost disclosed that it was involved in a legal dispute with the department over access to records on the website “disruptj20.org,” which organized protests tied to Donald Trump’s inauguration. The warrant issued by the department was so broad, DreamHost said, that it was effectively requesting information that could identify lawful protestors — including information on more than 1.3 million IP addresses from visitors to the site. The warrant immediately drew condemnation from some privacy law experts.
In a legal filing today, the Justice Department argues that the warrant was proper, but also says DreamHost has since brought up information that was previously “unknown.” In light of that, it has offered to carve out information demanded in the warrant, specifically pledging to not request information like HTTP logs tied to IP addresses.
The department says it is only looking for information related to criminal activity on the site, and says that “the government is focused on the use of the Website to organize, to plan, and to effect a criminal act — that is, a riot.” Peaceful protestors, the government argues, are not the targets of the warrant.
The filing asks the court to proceed with the new, less burdensome request, which, apart from the carved-out sections, still requests “all records or other information, pertaining to the Account, including all files, databases, and database records stored by DreamHost in relation to that Account.”
It’s unclear if DreamHost will continue to fight the new demand. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.