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The Justice Department Wants to Know if You've Visited an Anti-Trump Resistance Site

A fishing expedition to try to track down anybody who disrupted Inauguration Day events in D.C.

ProtestersAlex Edelman/ZUMA Press/NewscomIf you've visited disruptj20.org, a website that organized folks for the purpose of disrupting President Donald Trump's inauguration events in D.C., the Department of Justice (DOJ) wants to know about it.

Whether you were even in D.C. on Inauguration Day is apparently not relevant. In an effort to track down anybody who rioted or engaged in violence on that day, the Justice Department has gotten a search warrant demanding that the site's host company, DreamHost, provide records related to their investigations.

It's not unusual for law enforcement agencies try to get records about particular users of sites if they believe these users are engaged in criminal activities. And it's constitutional for them to use warrants to try to track down specific information from or about users suspected of a crime.

But according to DreamHost, the warrant the Justice Department is asking for the IP addresses of anyone who has even just visited the site. So the company announced in a blog post yesterday that it's fighting the warrant:

The request from the DOJ demands that DreamHost hand over 1.3 million visitor IP addresses—in addition to contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of people—in an effort to determine who simply visited the website. (Our customer has also been notified of the pending warrant on the account.)

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. That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone's mind.

DreamHost also argues that the overbroad demand violates the Fourth Amendment's requirement that search warrants identify specifically what the government wants to seize. The government appears to be essentially demanding all of DreamHost's data about disruptj20.org, including everything that connects to the site or originates from the site. It's a fishing expedition to see if the feds can connect anybody to the site with any of the actual violence that took place Inauguration Day.

Ken "Popehat" White, a former federal prosecutor, warns that this type of search indicates an overt hostility toward anti-government protests:

The government has made no effort whatsoever to limit the warrant to actual evidence of any particular crime. If you visited the site, if you left a message, they want to know who and where you are—whether or not you did anything but watch TV on inauguration day. This is chilling, particularly when it comes from an administration that has expressed so much overt hostility to protesters, so relentlessly conflated all protesters with those who break the law, and so deliberately framed America as being at war with the administration's domestic enemies.

There will be a hearing on the Justice Department's motion to compel DreamHost to comply with the warrant on Friday.

Photo Credit: Alex Edelman/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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  • loveconstitution1789||

    Because they're terrorists?

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Not all of them, just most of them.

    Seriously though, if DOJ can do it there, they can find an excuse to do it here.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    If they do it here, it would confirm my suspicions that our government is so corrupt that only civil war is the solution to start the USA new from the Constitution.

  • Rhywun||

    Too bad all the state and local governments are corrupt, too.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    You weren't around here for the woodchipper incident, were you?

  • Zeb||

    But even that was limited to specific people who made particular comments. Which was still absurd given that the comments could in no reasonable way be interpreted as actual threats. But far less broad than what's happening now.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I am not scared of the police. I am not saying anything that the Founding Fathers did not say.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Sessions going for "worst AG evah". And that's some tough competition.

  • Hugh Akston||

    It seems like every AG (or state attorney generally) is telling their predecessors to hold my beer.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's because they are all working in harmony. Each one follows the previous AG and builds off their hard work to fuck the populace harder.

    Government working together in harmony.

  • Dillinger||

    Government working

    only happens when it's people-screwing time

  • R. K. Phillips||

    Sessions could get worse, unfortunately. I do notice that lately a lot of state AGs and big city DAs—even those who are against suing gun manufacturers for crimes committed with their products—are now suing opioid manufacturers for "creating" addicts. Perhaps they think it's OK to do that, now that Trump has declared war on ... something or other.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    As an aside, I wonder if the Progs realize they're "antigovernment" now. And I wonder if they now understand the POV of those of us who want to limit the fedgov's powers maybe a little better.

    I'm betting the answer is: nah.

  • colorblindkid||

    They only want to become the government again so they can violently crush the people who hold it now.

  • SIV||

    Just tell the progs the Justice Department is investigating fascists and Trump's inauguration. They'll pitch a fit and attack anyone who criticizes it

  • NoVaNick||

    For either party-DOJ (and pretty much all other agencies) are only as good as the current administration.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    No, because there is not a questioning of the value of government. Simply a belief that the wrong person is in charge.

  • Tony||

    But there's always an aside about the progs, isn't there?

    Fucking obsessive schizophrenics--obsessiviacs!

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    It applies to this specific case, since they're the ones being targeted. I rather doubt that many conservatives or libertarians were rioting on Inauguration Day.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    And I'm suggesting that they may want to reflect on the experience.

    They're not obliged to of course. They can stay on the path they're on: keep giving the government more power, then act shocked when it's used against them.

  • WakaWaka||

    Oh, so today you're for free speech again?

  • NoVaNick||

    I don't agree with this at all, but how is it that much different from the IRS and FBI investigating Tea Party groups under the last administration?

  • Red Rocks Baiting n Inciting||

    Democrats are the victims this time, so government overreach is bad in this case.

  • junyo||

    Because a different guy, who was supposed to be SO MUCH BETTER than the last guy, or his opponent, is in charge?

    Oh, I forgot. Because Team, both sides should get an equal number of tries to fuck us all.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Gotta start your enemies list somewhere...

  • Gozer the Gozarian||

    If they can't stop porn trolls from extorting money from anyone with an IP address, why should we think the government can't extort this information from an ISP?

    Judges regularly grant early discovery to porn troll with nothing more than a court filing and an IP address. The whole thing is templated to (it's also run by the German mob).

    If this does in fact get thrown out, does this mean that the standards have increased so that the government as well as porn trolls have a higher burden of proof of standard to meet to get subscriber information from an ISP?

    This has some significant implications.

  • ThomasD||

    Wake me when they sic the IRS on them.

    Or Taylor Swift.

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