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DoJ Narrows Demands for Anti-Trump Protesters’ Data

A web hosting firm is claiming victory after the Department of Justice (DoJ) significantly narrowed its demands for data on users of an anti-Trump website.

DreamHost had labelled as “unconstitutional” the original DoJ demands for not only info on the founders of the disruptj20.org site but also anyone who has visited it – which would amount to the IP addresses and contact info of over 1.3 million netizens.

The right to exercise political free speech is protected under the First Amendment while the Fourth Amendment was designed in part to guard against dragnet seizure of info.

In a Tuesday filing, the DoJ clarified that it didn’t realize DreamHost collected so much visitor data and that it is solely focused on finding those who planned and took part in a January 20 “premeditated riot” to protest Donald Trump’s inauguration.

"The government has no interest in records relating to the 1.3 million IP addresses,” the filing noted. "The government could not exclude from the scope of the Warrant what it did not know existed.”

The government has now also dropped requests for “unpublished draft publications” like blogs; images and metadata and HTTP request and error logs.

It also claimed it will not use any data it is granted access to in order to potentially target political activists, saying it will be placed under a court seal.

However, while DreamHost labelled this a “huge win for internet privacy”, it raised concerns with the government’s revised request for data.

“Much of the DOJ’s original demand for information is still in place, and there are still a few issues that we consider to be problematic for a number of reasons,” it said in a blog post.

“We are moving forward with a filing to address the remaining First and Fourth Amendment issues raised by this warrant, and we look forward to voicing those concerns in the hearing scheduled for Thursday.”

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