A DC Federal Judge has approved a reworked warrant seeking records from users and subscribers to anti-Trump website ‘disruptj20.org,’ which has been linked to organizers of an inauguration riot and other disruptive and illegal behavior.
The website connected users through mailing lists and planned meet-ups, and provided a calendar of anarchistic events as well as resources to help people prepare for the mayhem. The site also provides a ‘legal guide’ for those arrested.
The original warrant came under fire for its broad scope – which would have forced website host DreamHost to produce over 1.3 million IP addresses and other information on visitors to the site.
“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,” said DreamHost General Council Chris Ghazarian in a legal filing opposing the request.
DOJ narrows scope of request
In response, the Department of Justice said it had no idea how many records were involved, and amended the warrant to protect ‘innocent users’ from having their 1st and 4th amendment rights violated.
Chief Judge Robert Morin ruled that DreamHost, an LA-based web-hosting company, must turn over data about visitors to the website disruptj20.org, which is a home to political activists who organized protests at the time of Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president in January, many of whom have since morphed into the controversial “antifa” movement.
Morin, who will oversee review of the data, also said the government must explain what protocols it will use to make sure the data of “innocent users” is not seized by prosecutors, according to Reuters. Bloomberg adds that prosecutors would have to tell the judge which data it intended to seize.
The DOJ is still getting IP addresses though…
After privacy concerns were raised over the original warrant casting a ‘digital dragnet’ to root out political dissidents, prosecutors narrowed the scope and agreed to set aside and seal any information that doesn’t involved rioters – however their request still includes the IP addresses of those suspected of committing crimes.
So far 19 people have pleaded guilty out of over 200 who were charged with various felonies linked to the inauguration riots, which organizers used ‘disruptj20’ to verify the identity of participants who logged into the site to confirm their participation.