Justice Department seeks personal information on anti-Trump protesters

The Los Angeles tech company, DreamHost, which hosts the site, is resisting the federal demand, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution.
By David Sims | Aug 18, 2017
The Justice Department is seeking to compel an internet hosting company to turn over personal data about everyone who visited a website used to coordinate protests on President Trump's Inauguration Day.

The Los Angeles tech company, DreamHost, which hosts the site, is resisting the federal demand, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution.

"What we have is a sweeping request for every single file we have," said Chris Ghazarian, general counsel for DreamHost, in a report by the Los Angeles Times. "The search warrant is not only dealing with everything in relation to the website but also tons of data about people who visited it."

The search warrant, which was issued July 12 by a Superior Court judge in the District of Columbia, demands names and addresses, emails between the site's organizers and people interested in attending the protests, and what each visitor viewed or uploaded.

"In essence, the search warrant not only aims to identify the political dissidents of the current administration, but attempts to identify and understand what content each of these dissidents viewed on the website," wrote DreamHost's lawyers in a court motion opposing the demand, as reported by The New York Times.

Civil rights groups expressed concern about the Trump administration's heavy-handed approach to protesters.

"People should be free to exercise their legitimate free-expression rights and explore new points of view without worrying that any digital footprints they leave could land them in a government database later," said Sarah St. Vincent, a Human Rights Watch advocate, in the NY Times report. "That could have a real chilling effect on web-based free speech."

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