The fire is stoked on the newest Department of Justice demand. A court in D.C. ordered the web-hosting company DreamHost to give up their data and information on anti-Trump protesters.
DreamHost Must Give Up Info
Chief Judge Robert Morin of the Superior Court ruled from the bench that under the court’s supervision, the government can proceed with an amended search warrant for DreamHost’s data. The data in question relates to disruptj20.org, an anti-Trump website used to organize protests on Inauguration Day. Morin outlined that “added protections” will guard the data of innocent visitors to the website. Morin also ordered that the government provide information on how they will search the data and minimize data on innocent third-party visitors.
The reason why the DOJ is after the data is for their ongoing investigation on the Inauguration Day riots. Morin’s order is an attempt to balance the First Amendment protections with the DOJ’s need for the website’s information. At this moment, it’s unclear whether or not DreamHost will appeal the ruling. DreamHost’s lawyers told reporters that following the open hearing they would review the transcript and make a decision. Judge Morin declined a stay until DreamHost decides it’s appeal decision, saying the company should start providing the requested information.
Case Heats Up Internet Debate
The case has furthered the debate over law enforcement’s access to electronic data which spurred controversy along private and civil liberty advocates. DreamHost publicized the warrant last week saying it would amount to turning over 1.3 million IP addresses. Earlier this week, the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C. asked to modify the warrant saying it’s not interested in obtaining the IP addresses or information that could violate the Privacy Protection Act. Lawyers with the U.S. attorney’s office argued Thursday that the revised warrant is particular about the information the DOJ is allowed to seize from the requested data, which is evidence that constitutes a violation of D.C. criminal code governing riots.
DreamHost says that turning over the information would violate the First and Fourth Amendments and the warrant still allows the DOJ to have access to email lists and correspondence between managers of the website and third parties.
“We think that having the government review the records, having the government have access to the information of the public and as the court has deemed, the innocent third-party users, having them see that information and identify who these political dissidents were is problematic,” Raymond Aghaian, a lawyer for DreamHost, told reporters outside the courthouse in Washington.
“When it comes to sensitive First Amendment issues such as this one, it should not be the case where the government gets to rummage through material to determine whether something is valid or not,” Aghaian said.
Morin also ordered that the DOJ release the names of law enforcement that will be sifting through the data, their process, and minimization procedures for the innocent. He also said the government will also need to provide two sets of data to the court: one specifying the data not covered by the warrant to be sealed and unable to review as well as another of the data seized and why it constitutes evidence of crime.
Source: The Hill