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Feds Back Off Request for Trump Protest Site Visitor Data


Feds Back Off Request for Trump Protest Site Visitor Data

DreamHost says it views the move as 'a huge win for internet privacy,' but remaining issues will be addressed at a Thursday hearing.

UPDATE 8/22: The DOJ has withdrawn requests for HTTP access and error logs, "meaning visitors' IP addresses are largely safe," DreamHost said in a blog post.

The agency is also no longer seeking "unpublished media, including both text and photographs that may appear in blog posts that were drafted but never made public," according to DreamHost.

DreamHost says it views the move as "a huge win for internet privacy, and we absolutely appreciate the DOJ's willingness to look at and reconsider both the scope and the depth of their original request for records. That's all we asked them to do in the first place, honestly."

Still, "there remains, unfortunately, other privacy and First and Fourth Amendment issues with the search warrant, which we will address in a separate filing and at the hearing Thursday morning," Raymond Aghaian, DreamHost counsel, said in a statement.

That hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

Original Story 8/14:
Web hosting service DreamHost is battling the Department of Justice over access to visitor logs from a protest website it hosts on its network.

A month ago, the DOJ issued a search warrant "seeking information about one of our customers' websites," DreamHost said in a Monday blog post. At issue is, which describes itself as "building the framework needed for mass protests to shut down the inauguration of Donald Trump and planning widespread direct actions to make that happen."

SecurityWatchDreamHost does not have details about the DOJ's investigation into, but it says the scope of the government's request is concerning.

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"The DOJ has recently asked DreamHost to provide all information available to us about this website, its owner, and, more importantly, its visitors," DreamHost says. That includes "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.

So, if you were planning to or did attend a protest related to this year's inauguration and happened to stumble upon, your information could potentially be handed over to the DOJ.

"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," DreamHost says. "That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone's mind."


Like most technology companies, DreamHost receives numerous requests for information from law enforcement each year. It complies with some and pushes back on others. "Chris Ghazarian, our General Counsel, has taken issue with this particular search warrant for being a highly untargeted demand that chills free association and the right of free speech afforded by the Constitution," according to DreamHost.

DreamHost's challenge, however, was met with a DOJ motion "asking for an order to compel DreamHost to produce the records." On Friday, Ghazarian filed another motion in opposition to the DOJ's request, "our latest salvo in what has become a months-long battle to protect the identities of thousands of unwitting internet users," according to DreamHost.

A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 18; the DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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