The Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking details on visitors to a website used to organize protests against President Trump, according to a Los Angeles-based web hosting provider.
DreamHost said in a Monday blog post that the requests deal with disruptj20.org, its owner and visitors.
“The request from the DOJ demands that DreamHost hand over 1.3 million visitor IP addresses – in addition to contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of people – in an effort to determine who simply visited the website,” the blog said. “(Our customer has also been notified of the pending warrant on the account.).”
“This information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment,” it added. “That should be enough to set alarm bells off in everyone’s mind.”
“This is, in our opinion, a strong example of investigatory overreach and a clear abuse of government authority.”
DreamHost’s blog said it had been working with the DOJ for several months to comply with the legal process.
The company added it is challenging the DOJ’s request, with a hearing on the issue scheduled for this Friday in the Washington, D.C. Superior Court.
At issue is a July 12 DOJ warrant stating that authorities will seize any information showing violations of D.C. code governing riots earlier this year.
Disruptj20.org became involved with organizing protests against President Trump on his Jan. 20 Inauguration Day.
CNN reported in February that 214 people were indicted on felony rioting charges in relation to Inauguration Protests in downtown Washington.
Six police officers were reportedly injured during the fracas, while 230 protesters were also arrested that day.
DreamHost said it is challenging the DOJ’s request for information about the protests as it respects the privacy of internet users.
“The internet was founded – and continues to survive, in the main – on its democratizing ability to facilitate a free exchange of ideas,” its blog said.
“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.”