The US Department of Justice is demanding that a web-hosting provider hand over details of the IP addresses of 1.3 million people who visited a website involved in organising protests against Donald Trump on the day of his presidential inauguration.
The website in question is disruptj20.org
DreamHost writes that it is challenging the DOJ’s warrant in order to protect the identities of internet users exercising their right to political free speech and protest:
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.
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.
This is, in our opinion, a strong example of investigatory overreach and a clear abuse of government authority.
Law enforcement approaches technology companies on a regular basis, hoping to gather information that may help them with criminal investigations.
But demands for information about every person who visits a website like disruptj20.org? That feels like definite over-reach to me, and is the kind of request that should be fought strongly in the courts.
Folks, if you’re not already doing so, protect your privacy online by using technology such as a VPN and Tor.