WASHINGTON (NEWS10) – A judge ruled a California-based company must comply with a warrant to hand over information about an anti-Trump website.
There are conditions and the judge says he had to balance the needs of law enforcement with people’s First Amendment rights.
The website, DisruptJ20.org helped organize protests around President Trump’s inauguration. Now the government is suing for information about anyone who visited the site, saying it could lead them to people who illegally caused damage on inauguration day.
Lawyers for DreamHost, the California company that hosts the website, argued the search warrant violates user’s First Amendment rights.
The judge ruled with the government allowing an amended warrant.
“What remains problematic for us is that the government is in possession of this information and that the government is sifting through and reviewing this information,” Raymond Aghaian, Lawyer for DreamHost, said.
Initially the Justice Department asked for all data related to the website, which DreamHost says means handing over the IP addresses, names, phone numbers and data of 1.3 million people.
After the riots on inauguration day, a grand jury indicted about 200 people, 19 of them pleaded guilty. Investigators are still looking for the riot organizers.
A part of this two-step warrant DreamHost will actually have to hand over all of the information related to the DisruptJ20 website. Then the government will have to sort through and only use the information related to the inauguration day crimes.
The rest will be put under court seal and the government can’t access or share it.
“This case isn’t about protecting the information once it’s been turned over. It’s about preventing the information from being turned over in the first place. Because the mere act of doing something like that is the chilling effect that it has on people’s associational rights,” Chris Ghazarian, DreamHost General Counsel, said.
Attorneys for DreamHost are considering an appeal.