DOJ Pulls Back On Warrant To Anti-Trump Website Host

Aug 24, 2017, 02:32
DOJ Pulls Back On Warrant To Anti-Trump Website Host

In a recent court filing, US Attorney Channing Phillips wrote, the "lawful warrant" issued by the government was exclusively created to track people who used disruptj20.org to coordinate and organise a "premeditated riot" during Trump's inauguration ceremony.

The US attorney's office in DC asked a judge on Tuesday to approve a modified version of a search warrant that would narrow the scope of the records sought. In addition, DOJ said, "the government is focused on the criminal acts of the defendants their co-conspirators and not their political views.The government has no interest in seizing data from the Website that does not relate to this limited goal".

DreamHost's challenge, however, was met with a DOJ motion "asking for an order to compel DreamHost to produce the records".

The government added that it was exclusively concerned with "a small and focused group of individuals" connected to the disruptj20.org site.

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As part of its case against the site, the DOJ served a sweeping warrant [PDF] on web-hosting company DreamHost, seeking virtually every piece of information DreamHost might have about DisruptJ20 and its visitors.

"What the government did not know when it obtained the Warrant-what it could not have reasonably known-was the extent of visitor data maintained by DreamHost that extends beyond the government's singular focus in this case of investigating the planning, organization, and participation in the January 20, 2017 riot", the authorities said.

DreamHost went public with its concerns last week, noting that handing over the amount of information requested - basically anyone who visited the site - was tantamount to political persecution.

Like most technology companies, DreamHost receives numerous requests for information from law enforcement each year.

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However, the DoJ's search warrant was inexcusably broad and DreamHost has greeted the response as "a huge win for internet privacy".

While DreamHost claims the warrant would sweep up information about innocent people who visited a political website, the government argues in its reply that distruptj20.org was also meant to organize a "small and focused group" of people with a specific, insidious goal. "It will not be used for any other goal", the brief explains.

The company said it plans to move forward with a filing "to address the remaining First and Fourth Amendment issues raised by this warrant" because "there are still a few issues that we consider to be problematic for a number of reasons".

A hearing is set for Thursday in D.C. Superior Court.

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