On Monday, web hosting provider DreamHost announced that is has been in a months-long legal fight with the Department of Justice. The DOJ wants the hosting company to turn over records on visitors to disruptj20.org, an activist group that wanted to “[build] the framework needed for mass protests to shut down the inauguration of Donald Trump and planning widespread direct actions to make that happen.”
The warrant issued by the DOJ asks for “all files” on disruptj20.org, which would include visitor logs. This would give the DOJ access to the IP addresses of anyone who went to the site, which is quite a lot. “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,” DreamHost wrote in its blog post.
In their legal filing against the warrant, DreamHost stated that “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.”
The reasons for the warrant aren’t entirely clear either.
“The government has made no effort whatsoever to limit the warrant to actual evidence of any particular crime,” PopeHat blogger Ken White said.
“If you visited the site, if you left a message, they want to know who and where you are — whether or not you did anything but watch TV on inauguration day.”
Cuba, Russia, and China have a long history of imprisoning political dissidents. Trump might be making that a new American tradition.