DreamHost must turn over some information about a website hosted on its platform that was used to plan a protest on President Donald Trump’s inauguration day, a Washington, DC judge ruled today.
The Justice Department, which alleges that the site helped coordinate a riot, initially sought a massive amount of DreamHost data including the IP addresses of the site’s approximately 1.3 million visitors. But the Justice Department narrowed the scope of its warrant earlier this week to exclude the IP addresses after DreamHost and civil liberties organisations objected.
However, the Superior Court of DC’s Chief Judge Robert E. Morin ruled this morning that DreamHost still needs to disclose some information about the operators of the site, disruptj20.org. The government claims that the site was used “to coordinate and to privately communicate among a focused group of people whose intent included planned violence.”
Morin will oversee the search of the data DreamHost turns over, The Hill reports, with the aim of minimising any impact on visitors to the site who weren’t allegedly involved in criminal activity.
DreamHost could appeal the decision, but it’s not clear yet whether the company will choose to do so. Gizmodo contacted DreamHost for comment on the ruling and will update when we hear back.
The legal battle between DreamHost and the DoJ raises questions about law enforcement overreach and access to user data. Broad requests for information like those in the DreamHost warrant could have a chilling effect on protest and free speech, organisations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have argued. And even though the warrant has been narrowed, those concerns persist—especially since the Trump administration seems very interested in pursuing the organisers of an anti-Trump event.