Justice Department wants information on people who visited anti-Trump website

The Department of Justice has requested the information of more than 1 million visitors to an anti-Trump website, according to the Los Angeles-based web hosting provider.

DreamHost said in blog post Monday it had been working with the Justice Department and was fighting the “unfocused” and “unlawful” request.

“The request from the [Justice Department] demands that DreamHost hand over 1.3 million visitor IP addresses — in addition to contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of people — in an effort to determine who simply visited the website. 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. That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind,” DreamHost said in Monday’s post. The italics used in the statement were used by DreamHost.

The website helped to coordinate demonstrations against President Trump in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day in January.

DreamHost said the website at the “center” of the Justice Department’s request is “all files” related to disruptj20.org.

DreamHost said the Justice Department filed a motion in late July in the the Superior Court of the District of Columbia asking for an order to compel it to produce the records.

A July 12 warrant issued by the Superior Court and published by DreamHost asks for “names, addresses, telephone numbers and other identifiers, e-mail addresses, business information, the length of service (including start date), means and source of payment for services (including any credit card or bank account number), and information about any domain name registration” — all information that could be used to identify website subscribers.

The company’s general counsel, Chris Ghazarian, has filed a legal argument in opposition to the warrant.

A hearing is scheduled in Washington before District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz on Friday about the information request.

Leibovitz is handling all criminal cases stemming from Inauguration Day, which includes the nearly 200 people indicted on felony rioting charges.

“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 search warrant also includes a demand that DreamHost disclose the content of all e-mail inquiries and comments submitted from numerous private e-mail accounts and prompted by the website, all through a single sweeping warrant,” Ghazarian wrote in the legal argument.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in D.C. could not be immediately reached for comment.

This post originally appeared on Washington Examiner


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