Web Host Company Stands Up to Search Warrant to Defend Internet Users


The privacy of internet users is being called into question after the U.S. Attorney’s Office issued a search warrant to a Los Angeles-based website host company. DreamHost is being asked to hand over all of its IP address data for 1.3 million visitors for its website, DisruptJ20.org. According to the search warrant, DuruptJ20.org was involved in the “development, planning, advertisement and organization of a violent riot that occurred in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 2017” -- the day President Donald Trump was inaugurated. The search warrant is not only asking for the company to hand over all the IP addresses of the DisruptJ20.org’s visitors, but also contact information, blog drafts, email content, and photos – all “in an effort to determine who simply visited the website,” DreamHost confirmed to Forbes. DreamHost is resisting the search warrant, citing claims that the breadth of the request violates the Constitution as well as the Privacy Protection Act of 1980. The company believes that the order is asking it to compromise the privacy of tens of thousands of law-abiding website visitors by asking for specific data of every site visitor and whether they agree with the violent protests or not, rather than asking for information on specific suspects believed to be involved in the crimes. DreamHost General Counsel Chris Ghazarian believes that the search warrant is an act of “pure, prosecutorial overreach that’s allowing the Trump Administration to use the Department of Justice to silence critics.”

Civil liberty advocates and many within the tech community have protested the search warrant since DreamHost made the request public on Monday.