Five people who visited a web site that helped organize Inauguration Day protests are attempting to oppose a search warrant requiring the site's hosting company, DreamHost, to turn over identifying information about visitors.
In a court filing Monday, government lawyers said they "had no interest in records relating to the 1.3 million IP addresses" of site visitors.
He represented site visitors who wished to keep their online surfing anonymous, and he doubts the Justice Department's sincerity that it didn't want records of everybody who visited the site. DreamHost, the service that hosted the website, wrote on its blog, "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 DOJ initially had obtaineda search warrant ordering DreamHost "to assist law enforcement and produce" data including IP addresses, names and other personal information pertaining to visitors to the website disruptj20.org. "This Warrant has nothing to do with that right", claimed the DoJ in a statement.
But prosecutors say they believe that the site, disruptj20.org, was used for the planning and development of violent protests that accompanied the January 20 inauguration of President Donald Trump.
The warrant itself remains shielded from the public, but the Justice Department hasn't contested that it was seeking server log files that would reveal IP addresses, which are internet locators that make it relatively easy to track otherwise anonymous web users.
"To re-iterate: these additional facts were unknown to the government at the time it applied for and obtained the Warrant; consequently, the government could not exclude from the scope of the Warrant what it did not know existed", Phillips wrote.
Computer companies and others had argued the warrant was a "sweeping dragnet" and urged Justice to rethink the request. "The warrant is focused on evidence of the planning, coordination and participation in a criminal act- that is, a premeditated riot".
The hearing is set to run as scheduled in Washington DC on 24 August.
A Dreamhost spokesman declined to elaborate on the constitutional concerns the company believes the DOJ's new request raises ahead of Thursday's hearing.
DOJ asked the court to reject DreamHost's challenge to its authority to get the warrant and compel the company to produce the information.
So, if you were planning to or did attend a protest related to this year's inauguration and happened to stumble upon disruptj20.org, your information could potentially be handed over to the DOJ.
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