U.S. government lawyers amend DreamHost data bid

Aug 24, 2017, 02:32
U.S. government lawyers amend DreamHost data bid

Following a hearing earlier this week in which DreamHost argued that the expansive request for information related to the disruptj20.org site was too broad and broke the First and Fourth Amendments, government lawyers claim they had no idea that the information requested was so broad.

Web hosting service DreamHost is battling the Department of Justice over access to visitor logs from a protest website it hosts on its network.

"The government values and respects the 1st Amendment right of all Americans to participate in peaceful political protests and to read protected political expression online".

Federal prosecutors in Washington say in court papers Tuesday that a search warrant they obtained from a judge last month was focused exclusively on gathering evidence of a "premeditated riot".

Disruptj20 is home to a coalition of political activists who organized disruptive protests during President Donald Trump's inauguration.

"The government has now withdrawn entirely its unlawful and highly problematic request for any data relating to the visitors of the website and any unpublished data subject to the Privacy Protection Act", DreamHost attorney Raymond Aghaian said by email. "That's all we asked them to do in the first place, honestly".

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Monday, the nonprofit activist group Public Citizen, calling the warrant a "witch hunt", sought to intervene in the case on behalf of five anonymous people who it said had no connection to the protests but whose identities would be outed by the warrant.

"The website was not just a means to publicly disseminate information (as many websites are created to do), but was also used to coordinate and to privately communicate among a focused group of people whose intent included planned violence", the reply, which was sent to reporters on Tuesday, states.

Quelling fears of constitutional violations, the Department of Justice reassured that any information that goes beyond the scope of the modified warrant will be sealed away and not revisited without further notice from the court. The company said it would be forced to produce more than a million IP addresses of website visitors, along with other records.

DreamHost's challenge, however, was met with a DOJ motion "asking for an order to compel DreamHost to produce the records". First, it's not clear from either the warrant itself or the facts of the case whether DOJ is ordering DreamHost to turn over information on one account or multiple accounts.

The issue will be decided Thursday, when Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Morin will rule on the DOJ's motion to compell.

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