Trump's 'Justice' Department Just Wants Info On 1.3 Million People Who Visited Protest Website. Is That Bad?
DOJ also investigating how radicals kidnapped Trump's crowd
The Justice Department is trying to force an internet hosting company to turn over all its records on visitors to a website that was used to coordinate protests on the day of Trump's inauguration, because obviously anyone protesting Trump's inauguration, or even visiting a website to read about it, is a criminal and terrorist. The web hosting service, DreamHost, is fighting the order because maybe it's just a tad overly broad, considering that actual rioting during the inauguration was relatively limited. About 200 people were indicted for rioting, and it seems damned unlikely that the Justice Department needs to invade the data privacy of 1.3 million people to find more troublemakers to go after.
The website, DisruptJ20.org, served as a networking and organizing tool for people planning to protest the inaugural, and stated that its goals were indeed radical:
We’re planning a series of massive direct actions that will shut down the Inauguration ceremonies and any related celebrations–the Inaugural parade, the Inaugural balls, you name it. We’re also planning to paralyze the city itself, using blockades and marches to stop traffic and even public transit. And hey, because we like fun, we’re even going to throw some parties.
The city wasn't paralyzed, but yeah, there were some windows smashed and that completely unrelated limo set on fire that we all saw on TV. And yes, Fox News reported on an incident in which families of two service members killed in action got spat upon while entering an inaugural ball. Obviously, the DOJ is certain that if it can just sift through everything related to DisruptJ20 that DreamHost has on their computers, they'll be able to bring lots, or at least a few, remaining unindicted hooligans to justice. And if I burn down my apartment, I'll get rid of that goddamned fly that's bothering me, probably.
DreamHost ran its own blog post of resistance Monday, stating that it intends to fight the DOJ warrant, which seeks not only information on the DisruptJ20 owners and operators, but also all possible data on anyone who visited the site around the time of the inauguration:
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. (Our customer has also been notified of the pending warrant on the account.)
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.
Why, yes, that is the point. This administration is not so big on free speech directed against it, because what part of "The Law And Order President" don't you understand?
DreamHost says it objected to the scope of the DOJ request and invited the department to submit a more narrowly defined one; instead, the DOJ filed a motion to compel the company to turn over all the requested materials, which would include not only all those user records, but also, according to the online Free Speech heroes at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), "all emails associated with the account and unpublished content, like draft blog posts and photos." So hooray, the DOJ wants to look for evidence of criming in stuff the site didn't even publish. Makes sense -- that's where all the good stuff probably is. While the EFF isn't actually representing Dreamhost, it's providing "professional support" and general advice. And the EFF is Not Pleased:
No plausible explanation exists for a search warrant of this breadth, other than to cast a digital dragnet as broadly as possible. But the Fourth Amendment was designed to prohibit fishing expeditions like this. Those concerns are especially relevant here, where DOJ is investigating a website that served as a hub for the planning and exercise of First Amendment-protected activities.
The next step in this mess -- just trying to find the bad apples, so please let us check through all your records -- will be a court hearing scheduled for Friday. Yr Wonkette will keep you advised; in the meantime, we'll just let the DOJ know that our own visit to DisruptJ20 today was for information on the website, and we are not planning any riots. Yr Wonkette of course does not support riots, unless they are of the Laff variety. We also endorse violent actions such as punchlines, spit takes, leaving people dying with laughter, and killing time at work.
We're pretty sure we can plea bargain down to a few charges of second-degree Dad Jokes.
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