DOJ backs off request for IP addresses of visitors to anti-Trump site

The Justice Department is backing off its request for the IP addresses of visitors to an anti-Trump website, a move hailed as a “victory” by the hosting company which had blasted the attempt as a constitutional breach.

The DOJ initially had obtained a search warrant ordering DreamHost “to assist law enforcement and produce” data including IP addresses, names and other personal information pertaining to visitors to the website disruptj20.org. The site helped organize destructive political protests against the Trump administration on Inauguration Day.

But amid pushback from the hosting company, The Hill reported the DOJ filed a brief saying it has “no interest” in the 1.3 million IP addresses related to that website. The brief reportedly said the DOJ is only focused on “criminal activity.”

The company, in a blog post, said afterward that the IP addresses are now “largely safe.”

“We see this 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,” the company said, while adding it would continue to push back on other requests for information.

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.

The government argued 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.”  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.