- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Trump administration has asked a California-based hosting provider to give the government information on anyone who visited disruptj20.org, a website that coordinated Election Day protests, prompting pushback over First Amendment concerns.

DreamHost received the order in the form of a search warrant issued July 12 by a Superior Court judge in Washington, D.C., seeking every “record or other information” pertaining to the website, including databases and email messages as well as the IP address of each person who visited the website, the company announced Monday this week.

Complying with the request would require DreamHost to give the government more than 1.3 million visitor IP addresses that could then be used to potentially identify anyone who visited the protest site, the company said in a statement.

DreamHost called the the request “a strong example of investigatory overreach and a clear abuse of government authority” on Monday and said it’s fighting the search warrant in Superior Court.

“This Court should not permit the government to trample upon the privacy of the individuals interacting with the website and force DreamHost to produce the electronic information that would not only identify who they are, but specifically what each of these individuals viewed, read or the political content that they were interested in,” DreamHost’s attorneys wrote in a motion filed Friday.

“The internet was founded — and continues to survive, in the main — on its democratizing ability to facilitate a free exchange of ideas. Internet users have a reasonable expectation that they will not get swept up in criminal investigations simply by exercising their right to political speech against the government,” added DreamHost general counsel Chris Ghazarian.

A spokesperson for the prosecuting attorney’s office in D.C. decline to comment on the case, The Washington Post reported Monday. In a court filing entered last month, however, attorneys for he government claimed the website “was used in the development, planning, advertisement and organization of a violent riot that occurred in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 2017.”

A hearing on the matter has been set for Friday, Aug. 18.

More than 200 people were arrested in D.C. on Jan. 20 and charged with felony rioting for allegedly participating in violent protests during President Trump’s inauguration.

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