DOJ backs down from request for IP addresses that visited Trump protest website

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The Department of Justice has dropped its request for the IP addresses of visitors to an anti-Trump inauguration protest website. The news is a win for DreamHost, which went public with the situation last week, riling privacy advocates who decried the DOJ request for IP addresses that had visited disruptj20.org as dangerously broad.

In its reply to the court, the Justice Department modified its request to leave out information that it claims it didn’t know DreamHost had to begin with, namely the 1.3 million IP addresses in question. The DOJ asked the court to exclude any text and photographs from unpublished blog posts it hosted:

“What the government did not know… was the extent of visitor data maintained by DreamHost that extends beyond the government’s singular focus in this case of investigating the planning, organization, and participation in the January 20, 2017 riot. The government has no interest in records relating to the 1.3 million IP addresses that are mentioned in DreamHost’s numerous press releases and Opposition brief. The government’s investigation is focused on the violence discussed in the Affidavit.”

The letter states that the government intended to exclude and seal evidence beyond the scope of its warrant and that DreamHost refused to engage in a dialogue around the issue after claiming that the warrant was “improper.” The Justice Department maintains that the warrant is lawful. “Contrary to DreamHost’s claims, the Warrant was not intended to be used, and will not be used, to “identify the political dissidents of the current administration,” the letter to the court asserts.

For its part, DreamHost will continue on as planned. In a blog post titled “Narrowing the Scope,” DreamHost cheered its privacy win while preparing to argue “the remaining First and Fourth Amendment issues raised by this warrant” in its court date set for this week.

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