DOJ Demands Web Hosting Company Turn Over IP Addresses Of Everybody Who Visited Anti-Trump Site

The Washington Post reports:

A Los Angeles-based tech company is resisting a federal demand for more than 1.3 million IP addresses to identify visitors to a website set up to coordinate protests on Inauguration Day — a request whose breadth the company says violates the Constitution.

“What we have is a sweeping request for every single file we have” in relation to DisruptJ20.org, said Chris Ghazarian, general counsel for DreamHost, which hosts the site. “The search warrant is not only dealing with everything in relation to the website but also tons of data about people who visited it.”

The request also covers emails between the site’s organizers and people interested in attending the protests, any deleted messages and files, as well as subscriber information — such as names and addresses — and unpublished photos and blog posts that are stored in the site’s database, according to the warrant and Ghazarian.

The request, which DreamHost made public Monday, set off a storm of protest among civil liberties advocates and within the tech community.

More from Fortune:

DisruptJ20.org was used to organize protests in Washington, D.C. on Trump’s inauguration day, 20 January. The protests turned violent in part, and the site is now primarily being used to organize legal support for the hundreds of protestors who were arrested.

“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,” the hosting firm wrote in a blog post. “That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”

“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,” Dreamhost said. “We intend to take whatever steps are necessary to support and shield these users from what is, in our view, a very unfocused search and an unlawful request for their personal information.”

And from TechCrunch:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation accuses D.C. prosecutors of using “unconstitutional methods” to pursue their investigation into the J20 protests, aka the day President Trump was inaugurated.

“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. 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,” the EFF writes.

“No plausible explanation exists for a search warrant of this breadth, other than to cast a digital dragnet as broadly as possible. But the Fourth Amendment was designed to prohibit fishing expeditions like this. Those concerns are especially relevant here, where DOJ is investigating a website that served as a hub for the planning and exercise of First Amendment-protected activities.”