Law

DOJ seeking records on visitors to anti-Trump website, sparking privacy fight

The Department of Justice is seeking personal information on visitors to an anti-Trump website connected to destructive Inauguration Day protests, sparking a court fight with the hosting service which says the request violates privacy protections.

The DOJ has obtained a search warrant ordering web-hosting service DreamHost “to assist law enforcement and produce such electronic data.”

The department wants data including IP addresses, names and other personal information pertaining to visitors to the website disruptj20.org, which helped organize political protests against the Trump administration.

More than 200 people were charged after protesters broke windows and set fire to a limousine on Trump's Inauguration Day on Jan. 20. Prosecutors say the website disruptj20.org was used for planning the disturbances.

DreamHost, however, says the warrant seeking information on the 1.3 million visitors to the site and other information is "sweeping" and violates the Constitution and a federal privacy law.

In its own filing, the company said the warrant requires them to “turn over every piece of information it has about every visitor to a website expressing political views concerning the current administration … Including the IP address for the visitor, the website pages viewed by the visitor, even a detailed description of software running in the visitor’s computer.

“In essence, the Search Warrant not only aims to identify the political dissidents of the current administration, but attempts to identify and understand what content each of these dissidents viewed on the website.” 

DreamHost argues the “Search Warrant cannot survive scrutiny” considering First Amendment protections.

The government argues that 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 Friday hearing is scheduled.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.