DoJ Narrows Warrant Seeking #DisruptJ20 Info From DreamHost

Saul Bowman
August 24, 2017

The website host that was given the request, DreamHost, has said the warrant for the 1.3 million IP logs was too broad and would have required the company to provide "all information available to us" about the site,

The Justice Department responded in a court filing late Tuesday, saying the government "has no interest" in such a broad swath of records and offering an amended search warrant request that narrows the scope of the information sought.

He represented site visitors who wished to keep their online surfing anonymous, and he doubts the Justice Department's sincerity that it didn't want records of everybody who visited the site.

He further stressed that the government wasn't targeting the First Amendment rights of political dissidents who casually visited the site, but was only looking for the select group involved in "the criminal act".

In an effort to assuage people's fears that it will use the info it gets for other purposes, DOJ says any information Dreamhost hands over will be placed under seal with the court. "This warrant has nothing to do with that right".

The government argued that the "website was used in the development, planning, advertisement, and organization of a violent riot that occurred in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2017". "That's all we asked them to do in the first place, honestly", DreamHost wrote in a blog post.

Los Angeles-based DreamHost claimed victory in its bid to beat back the government's request for so much user data. "Intrusion into the privacy of so many individuals who viewed the anti-Trump protest site anonymously should not be enforced without a highly exacting showing of the government's need for that information".

That hearing is scheduled for 10 the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

"The website was not just a means to publicly disseminate information (as many websites are created to do), but was also used to coordinate and to privately communicate among a focused group of people whose intent included planned violence", the government wrote in a court filing. Despite its new limits, the warrant is still looking for info about political protests, and it seems the DoJ and DreamHost don't see eye-to-eye on the Constitutionality of that search.

But in a statement, DreamHost counsel Raymond Aghaian added: "There remains, unfortunately, other privacy and First and Fourth Amendment issues with the search warrant, which we will address in a separate filing and at the hearing Thursday morning".

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