The Department of Justice wants 1.3 million IP address of people who visited distruptj2 0. org. Is reading about protest illegal now?
In an unprecedented and dangerous move, Donald Trumps justice department is threatening to violate the first and fourth amendment rights of over a million people by issuing an overboard surveillance request aimed at identifying alleged anti-Trump protesters.
The justice department is demanding that web hosting provider DreamHost hand over, among many other things, 1.3 m IP addresses essentially everyone who has ever visited an anti-Trump protest site called disruptj2 0. org that was coordinating protests surrounding Trump inauguration in January.
Dream Host uncovered the surveillance demand on Monday on their blog, also saying they were going to tribunal to challenge the order. Dream Host called it a strong instance of investigatory overreach and a clear abuse of government authority and has pointed out that the information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exert and carry political speech protected under the Constitution.
As the Guardian noted on Monday, the justice department has already aggressively prosecuted activists arrested during the 20 January protests in Washington DC, at one point in April indicting more than 217 people with identical crimes, including misdemeanour rioting.
This includes many people who claim they were just in the vicinity of property injury and had nothing to do with it and even some journalists. There is also solid public evidence that Facebook received some extraordinary legal orders related to the events as well and are fighting them in court.
Were scheming a series of massive direct actions that will shut down the Inauguration ceremonies and any related celebrationsthe Inaugural parade, the Inaugural balls, you name it. Were also planning to paralyze the city itself, use sieges and marchings to stop traffic and even public transit. And hey, because we like fun, were even going to hurl some parties.
Now, its possible the sites operators were indicating they were planning on engaging in at the least some civil disobedience that the government would consider illegal. But, as EFFs Mark Rumold said on Monday: This[ the website] is pure first amendment advocacy the type of advocacy the first amendment was designed to protect and promote.
But more importantly, think about who would be affected by this legal order: anyone merely searching for informed on protesting 100% legally before the inauguration, news buffs curious about what events were happening in Washington DC on inauguration day, journalists looking for what events to encompas, even Trump advocates wondering what the opponent is planning.
What the Department of Justice is saying, basically, is that people dont have the right to read anything related to civil disobedience without fear that the government will attempt to identify them and potentially set them under surveillance.
Its not only a gross fourth amendment privacy violation, but free speech rights as well. The constitution not only guarantees the right to free speech, but also the freedom of association and the freedom to read information otherwise protected by the constitution. Anyone who visited this site were apparently within their rights to do so, and to think that the government could gather information on them is chilling to the core.
If this extraordinary broad legal order was allowed to stand, Jeff Sessions and the justice department could extend the same type of legal order to a whole host of situations.
What if they wanted to track down immigrants who look at websites describing how to avoid suspicion? Or monitor websites that organize Black Lives Matter protests or anti-fascist actions? Or any other website that argues that a law is unjust and should not be followed? Or what if they issued a court order to the Guardian or the New York Times asking for every guest to their procure tips page that may or may not have sent them a leaked document?
The list goes on and on. This legal order could be a weapon that could open up all sorts of rights violations by Sessions and the Trump administration. It should be strongly protested not only in court, but in public and the corridors of Congress in the strongest terms possible.
Read more: www.theguardian.com