Justice Department wants records on visitors to Trump protest site

Justice Department wants records on visitors to Trump protest site

Justice Department wants records on visitors to Trump protest site

In yet another tyrannical anti-privacy push, the United States government under President Donald Trump's leadership is seeking to unmask the IP addresses of people who visited an anti-Trump website during the president's inauguration.

"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", DreamHost wrote in its blog post. That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone's mind. If you answered yes, you should be alarmed by the shockingly broad search warrant sought by the Justice Department, and approved by a judge in Washington, D.C., last month, targeting DreamHost, an internet hosting company based in Los Angeles.

The government, he declared, wants "all information that might identify the subscribers. including names, addresses, telephone numbers and other identifiers, email addresses, business information. and source of payment for services including any credit card or bank account information".

It says it has reviewed much of the information requested and argues that it qualifies as either "work product" or "documentary material" and so benefits from additional legal protections.

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While he added that the company has already provided the government with "limited customer information about the owner of the website" once they received a grand jury subpoena just one week after the protests, he also claimed that everyone "should be concerned that anyone should be targeted simply for visiting a website" and that the company will fight back, taking the case to court.

This isn't the first time the government has gone after protesters involved in anti-Trump demonstrations during inauguration. The firm's attorneys asked Borchert for a meeting to address their concerns. The cases aren't exactly the same-DreamHost was served with a search warrant for this data-but the underlying principle is similar. Rather, it is searching for information about people who have notbroken any law.

It is common for prosecutors to develop searches in two stages, first obtaining electronic records, and then scouring that data for the evidence of the crime itself.

Both sides will face each other in court for a hearing on Friday.

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"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", the company's general counsel, Chris Ghazarian, in a legal argument opposing the request.

But the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was created to prevent government fishing expeditions of this sort.

Mark Rumold, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group supporting DreamHost, says such sweeping seizures are usually reserved for investigations of websites devoted to criminal activity like child pornography.

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