REPORT: Justice Dept. DEMANDS Identifying Info On Over 1 Million Who Stand Against Trump | THE POLITICUS

REPORT: Justice Dept. DEMANDS Identifying Info On Over 1 Million Who Stand Against Trump

The Department of Justice, working under Trump whether they say so or not, is trying to identify more than one million users of a website used to organize protests against one Donald J. Trump. While DreamHost, the hosting provider for the website, has been working with DOJ on this for months already, they decided to go public with this information today and let us know what’s happening.

The website in question is known as disruptj20.org, and a screencap from the site, posted in DreamHost’s blog post on this problem, shows that they helped organize the massive protests that occurred on Inauguration Day.

When DreamHost says they’re working with the DOJ on this, they mean they’re resisting the DOJ’s requests for information and have filed legal arguments against a search warrant. The DOJ isn’t looking for specific people known to have caused or participated in the violence on Inauguration Day, or who are known to be wanted by the police, or anything that might justify this. DreamHost’s own legal counsel, along with outside counsel, argue that this particular search warrant constitutes a 1st Amendment violation because it’s so broad it targets people engaging in protected political speech. From their response to the DOJ’s warrant:

The government’s search warrant…requires non-party DreamHost, LLC…to turn over every piece of information it has about every visitor to a website expressing political views concerning the current administration. This information includes IP address for the visitor, the website pages viewed by the visitor, even a detailed description of software running in the visitor’s computer…The Search Warrant also includes a demand that DreamHost disclose the content of all e-mail inquiries and comments submitted from numerous private e-mail accounts and prompted by the website, all through a single sweeping warrant.”

Read that again. They want more than IP addresses (which is bad enough). They want specific, identifying information for all visitors to the site. They want to know exactly who is visiting this website for…what? There’s only one likely reason, and that is they want to crack down on anyone who stands against Trump.

The search warrant itself can be found here.

In their blog post on this problem, DreamHost says:

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.

As we do in all such cases where the improper collection of data is concerned, we challenged the Department of Justice on its warrant and attempted to quash its demands for this information through reason, logic, and legal process.”

DOJ, for its part, has asked for an order to compel DreamHost to turn over all these records:

This Court authorized a search warrant…commanding DreamHost to disclose to the government records and information associated with the website www.disruptj20.org, including communications and content associated with the account… That website was used in the development, planning, advertisement and organization of a violent riot that occurred in Washington, D.C., on Jan 20, 2017.”

They also say:

The United States of America, by and through its attorney, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, hereby moves the Court to order DreamHost, Inc…to show cause why DreamHost should not be compelled to comply with a warrant issued by this Court.”

DisruptJ20 disrupted the Inauguration, yes, but they call for various forms of civil disobedience, not violence. In fact, they have training material on how to stay grounded and avoid doing things like giving in to rage. They also teach defense tactics against overzealous police officers and others who may well get violent in their attempts to quash anti-Trump protests.

One would think that, if the DOJ was interested in identifying those responsible for riots, they would have a warrant targeting only those they believe both visited the site and were involved in the violence, and perhaps the site’s owner(s) too. Instead, it looks like Trump & Co. have begun trying to identify any and all resisters to the administration. DreamHost says that their motion to oppose is just the latest in a months-long battle that began one week after the Inauguration.


Featured image via Scott Olson/Getty Images

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