Web Host Rises Up Against DOJ Warrant

Web Host Rises Up Against DOJ Warrant

While the U.S. government has successfully secured a warrant to search the records of a website used to organize protests against President Trump’s 2017 inauguration, it’s not without guaranteeing “additional protections” for site users.

NPR reported on the DOJ’s pursuit of a warrant to search DisruptJ20.org for evidence against protestors who were charged with rioting during the Jan. 20 inauguration. It had secured the warrant, but then DreamHost, the site’s Web host, challenged the warrant, which would have revealed 1.3 million IP addresses, as overly broad and a threat to users’ privacy and right to free speech.

While the DOJ responded by dropping some of its requests, DreamHost remained concerned that the warrant still asked for all email accounts on DisruptJ20.org. Reported NPR:

“Raymond Aghaian, representing DreamHost, compared that request with searching every apartment in a building with a single search warrant.”

DreamHost was also concerned with the two-step process for executing the warrant, which first involves reviewing a large amount of data, including those not connected to a criminal case.

When considering the warrant, D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Morin said he had balance free speech and law enforcement needs. The judge agreed with the two-step process but with additional safeguards, such as listing who would access the data and how, and then what they seized and why.

DreamHost is considering its legal options.

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