DreamHost fights order to ID anti-Trump protesters

August 17, 2017
| Report Focus News
US President Donald Trump speaks to the press with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following meetings in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, May 16, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

A web hosting service is fighting a warrant ordering it to identify visitors to a site that encouraged protests against Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) wants DreamHost to hand over the 1.3 million IP addresses of everyone who visited the the disruptj20.org website.

DreamHost has said that it will fight the warrant because it believes the request could be in breach of political speech protections.

It said the IP addresses, in addition to the contact details, emails, and photographs of thousands of people – which were also requested – were too sensitive to be released.

“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,” said a statement by the site.

“That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”

The DoJ search warrant says that DreamHost holds information “involving the individuals who participated, planned, organised, or incited the January 20 riot”.

 Riots in Washington DC sw police use tear gas and stun grenades to break up violent protests on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration.

At the time, District of Columbia police chief Peter Newsham said 217 people had been arrested and charged with rioting, while six officers suffered minor injuries.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which campaigns on digital rights issues in the US, said: “Millions of visitors – activists, reporters, or you (if you clicked on the link) – would have records of their visits turned over to the government.

“No plausible explanation exists for a search warrant of this breadth, other than to cast a digital dragnet as broadly as possible.

“DreamHost did the right thing: it stood up for its users. It offered the government a chance to narrow the scope of the warrant. And when the government refused, DreamHost went to court.”

A hearing is scheduled for 18 August.