DreamHost refuses to hand over Trump protester details to US government
American web hosting provider DreamHost is refusing to hand over the IP addresses of 1.3 million of its users who visited a site used to organise a protest against the inauguration of US president Donald Trump.
The organisation claims that when it was first approached by the DoJ, it asked why the request was so broad. Rather than explain to DreamHost, it filed a motion in court seeking to compel the organisation to hand over the data – a motion it’s currently resisting.
In addition to the IP addresses, the DoJ’s request also covers the contact details, email content and photos of thousands of people who were at the event, according to DreamHost.
In its filing with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, the DoJ said: “The website was used in the development, planning, advertisement and organisation of a violent riot that occurred in Washington DC on January 20, 2017.”
However, the department initially told DreamHost that it only wants the details of one of the company’s customers who used its disruptj20.org site, but it hasn’t explained why it’s taking such a broad, dragnet approach in order to secure this information.
DreamHost has now been called to a hearing on 18 August, where it will need to explain why it won’t hand over the data.
In a blog post, the company said that although it has previously complied with DoJ requests, the “highly untargeted” nature of this new demand has raised concerns.
“This is, in our opinion, a strong example of investigatory overreach and a clear abuse of government authority,” DreamHost said. “As we do in all such cases where the improper collection of data is concerned, we challenged the Department of Justice on its warrant and attempted to quash its demands for this information through reason, logic, and legal process.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation supported DreamHost’s position, saying the DoJ’s request was uncalled for. “No plausible explanation exists for a search warrant of this breadth, other than to cast a digital dragnet as broadly as possible,” it told the BBC.
Image: Gage Skidmore, used under Creative Commons