Earlier this year in January, a series of protests rocked the United States. These protests came to be known as the J20 protests where hundreds of protesters were hurt or arrested for protesting the inauguration of President Trump. Since then, the DOJ has been searching for more political protesters trying to categorize them as criminals. However, now in mid 2017, it seems like the DOJ is trying a new approach.
Just recently the Depart of Justice in the US came after web hosting service DreamHost, demanding that the web hosting service release the personal IP addresses of users who visit the site disruptj20.org. This website helps organize political protests against the current US presidential administration. The website is known as a liberal–or anti-trump haven, for people to find information about anti-trump protests and organizations.
On August 14th, Dreamhost announced that the Department of Justice sent them a search warrant to visitor information on July 12th. Earlier in the year Dreamhost complied with a subpoena to release information about the site’s owner, but Dreamhost has found many issues with the newer warrant.
Dreamhost explains that they “have taken issue with [the newer] search warrant for being a highly untargeted demand that chills free association and the right of free speech afforded by the Constitution.”
If Dreamhost complies with the warrant, it means that the Department of Justice can see over 1.3 million IP addresses as well as the contact information, email content, and photos provided by accounts.
Dreamhost defends the website explaining that giving up information could be an unprecedented privacy violation. “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. This is, in our opinion, a strong example of investigatory overreach and a clear abuse of government authority.”
Dreamhost already challenged the warrant asking for the DOJ to explain the scope of the warrant, but the DOJ filed a motion with the Superior Court in Washington D.C trying to force Dreamhost to provide the records.
After filing an official opposition to the DOJ demand, the latest news is that Dreamhost will now be attending court in a hearing on August 18th, but there are also rumors and emails that suggest the hearing could be postponed to a later unknown date.
If you visit websites like disruptj20.org, and you don’t want your personal information leaked, stolen, or misplaced, then you need to use a VPN. With TorGuard VPN, your personal IP address and web traffic will remain hidden from prying eyes.