Once upon a time, there was a website called disruptj20.org. It was created, back before the inauguration, as a way to organize political protests against Trump. You might note that I didn’t link to it; that’s not because I think there’s anything in particular wrong with the site, but rather because visiting that site might very well put you on a list you might very well not wish to be on.
You see, Trump, and through him, the Department of Justice, is obsessed with the idea that the inaugural protests were illegal. And, yes, to be sure, there were the few inevitable Black Bloc idiots and so forth who really did engage in illegal activity. But Trump would love nothing more than to bundle up all the protesters with one big ball of string. And that’s what brings us back to disruptj20. You see, it’s stated organization goals were this:
We’re planning a series of massive direct actions that will shut down the Inauguration ceremonies and any related celebrations–the Inaugural parade, the Inaugural balls, you name it. We’re also planning to paralyze the city itself, using blockades and marches to stop traffic and even public transit. And hey, because we like fun, we’re even going to throw some parties.
And the Department of Justice now contends that this mission statement, along with something something evidence under seal is evidence that the website was a nexus of coordination for illegal activity. Accordingly, they issued a subpoena to the website’s host, Dreamhost, requesting information. LOTS of information. ALL the information. Specifically, and I’ll let Dreamhost summarize the request themselves here, “the DOJ has recently asked DreamHost to provide all information available to us about this website, its owner, and, more importantly, its visitors.” (emphases in original)
Now, Dreamhost is fighting this, and has the backing of the EFF, so there’s a reasonably good chance that it’ll land in front of a sane judge who will quash the subpoena as overbroad, illegal, and a violation of, well, just about every right you can violate with a subpoena. But whether this succeeds or fails does not change the fact that the Trump’s DoJ believes that getting a list of every person who visited a specific anti-Trump website is material information as part of a criminal investigation. If this subpoena is permitted to stand, if you visited that site, even once, even if you then sat on your couch, sobbing into your popcorn as the inauguration played out on television, the Trump DoJ thinks its important to know who you are. And there’s no reason to believe this would be the last anti-Trump site so targeted.
So, why were you looking at those websites, citizen? Searching for tips about rioting? Or just disloyal…?