The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) requested information on approximately 1.3 million visitors to #DisruptJ20, a website used to organize protests against President Donald Trump. The website was hosted by Dreamhost, the company that the DoJ contacted in order to get the information it needed. However, Dreamhost believes the request constitutionally goes too far.
In a blog post, Dreamhost claimed that the complying with the warrant would amount to handing over roughly 1.3 million visitor IP addresses to the government. Additionally, complying would also expose contact information, emails, business information, the length of service (including start date), means and source of payment for services (including any credit card or bank account number), information about any domain name registration, and photos of thousands of visitors to the website.
"The internet was founded — and continues to survive, in the main — on its democratizing ability to facilitate a free exchange of ideas," DreamHost wrote. “Internet users have a reasonable expectation that they will not get swept up in criminal investigations simply by exercising their right to political speech against the government.”
The DoJ filed a motion in the Washington, D.C. Superior Court asking for the court to compel DreamHost to produce the information despite the company's attempts to narrow the scope of the warrant.
The warrant, dated July 12th, is aimed at collecting any information about violations of the D.C. code regarding felony riots. More than 200 people were indicted on felony rioting charges in connection with the protests in Washington on President Trump's Inauguration Day.
Dreamhost's general counsel, Chris Ghazarian, issued a legal argument claiming, “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.” Dreamhost is also receiving professional support from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
"In just one example of the staggering overbreadth of the search warrant, it would require DreamHost to turn over the IP logs of all visitors to the [disruptj20.org] site," the EFF wrote in their own blog post. "Millions of visitors — activists, reporters, or you (if you clicked on the link) — would have records of their visits turned over to the government. The warrant also sought production of all emails associated with the account and unpublished content, like draft blog posts and photos.”
A hearing is scheduled for Friday in Washington where Mr. Gharzarian is expected to represent Dreamhost.