DOJ drops request for info on anti-Trump site visitors

Visitors To Anti-Trump Site Ask Judge To Block DOJ Warrant For Server Logs
Trump's administration demands the IP details to everyone who visited an anti-Trump website
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24 August, 2017

Now, the DOJ says its original intent for the warrant is being misunderstood, and that the government did not know when it drafted the warrant that DreamHost had retained such extensive user data.

EFF senior staff attorney Mark Rumol told Gizmodo that he expected the agency to narrow down the scope of its warrant from the start. The DoJ now says it only wants information pertaining to those involved in any kind of criminal activity and so has modified the warrant.

DreamHost's challenge, however, was met with a DOJ motion "asking for an order to compel DreamHost to produce the records". The host said the request would have required the company to hand over a log containing 1.3 million IP addresses that were recorded to have accessed the site.

As a result of Dreamhost's opposition, the DOJ has narrowed down the types of information it's requesting.

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.

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"DreamHost, like many online service providers, is approached by law enforcement regularly to provide information about customers who may be the subject of criminal investigations". Now, in its reply brief addressed to DC's court, the agency responded that it had no idea that its warrant would be so broad, since it didn't know how much data DreamHost has.

In its filing, the DoJ notes: "The rioters - some of them armed with hammers, crow bars, wooden sticks and other weapons - moved as a cohesive unit for approximately thirty minutes, traveling more than a dozen city blocks, as individual participants engaged in violence and destruction that caused hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of property damage and left civilians and officers injured".

A warrant from the Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking to reveal every person who visited an anti-Trump website. 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.

"Such modifications should amply address the First Amendment/Fourth Amendment reasonableness concerns raised by DreamHost", prosecutors wrote in their filing.

The Department of Justice on Tuesday proposed amending the scope of its warrant in a filing with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia Criminal Division, which is slated to hold a hearing over the dispute on Thursday morning.


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