About a week ago, it was reported that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is demanding IP addresses of approximately 1.3 million people who visited disruptj20.org, a website known for facilitating protests especially at the time when US president Donald Trump was being inaugurated.
Earlier today, the company hosting the site was ordered by a District of Columbia court to hand over some data about the site to the Department since it is being claimed that the platform played a significant role in organizing protests against Trump.
“The website was not just a means to publicly disseminate information (as many websites are designed to do), but was also used to coordinate and to privately communicate among a focused group of people whose intent included planned violence,” said DOJ.
DreamHost has to hand over some data excluding IP addresses
The hosting company DreamHost denied the request submitted by the government. In response, DreamHost along with privacy advocates criticised the demand forcing the administration to drop the request (Pdf) and narrow it down to limited data.
According to TheHill, Chief Judge Robert Morin of the Superior Court of D.C. ruled from “the bench that the government, under the court’s supervision, can proceed with an amended search warrant for data requested from DreamHost on the website disruptj20.org, which was used to organize protests against Trump on Inauguration Day.”
The judge also ordered the government to submit a report about the method of scanning the data and “minimizing data on innocent third-party visitors to the site.”
However, judge Marin also allowed DreamHost to appeal against the decision, but it is unclear if the company will appeal or not. On the other hand, DreamHost has published a blog post calling the decision “A Win for Privacy Is a Win for the Web.”
“Given the extraordinary privacy and First Amendment issues raised by this case, the court has chosen to effectively shackle the Department of Justice in several key ways, all of which act to limit exposure of sensitive and private user information,” the statement said.
“We look forward to working with the Department of Justice and the Court as we hand over data that is an extremely limited subset of the original request. While we’ve been compelled by the court to share this (still) a large cache of data (and will do so in the next few days), the DOJ will not gain access to it immediately. We are considering an appeal which would deny the government the ability to access that data temporarily and potentially forever if our appeal is found to have merit.”
Source: The Hill