The federal government won a key ruling in a case where they’re trying to collect information related to website used to coordinate an Inauguration Day protest that turned violent. The Department of Justice secured a search warrant to get data including the IP addresses of more than 1 million people who visited the site, www.disruptj20.org.
Lawyers for the site’s web host, DreamHost, fought against the warrant, claiming that it was overbroad, and that by identifying the users of the site, it would have a chilling effect on those wishing to express their political views online.
Judge Robert Morin of the D.C. Superior Court ruled in favor of the Justice Department at a hearing on Thursday, saying they can collect the information they’re seeking, but he added caveats: they have to give the court a detailed explanation for how data not relevant to the investigation will be segregated from the pertinent information, and who in law enforcement would be able to access it, The Wall Street Journal reported. Additionally, court records show that “information in the possession, control or custody of DreamHost, Inc. that comes under the protections of the Privacy Protection Act should not be turned over to the government.” Prosecutors will also have to reveal to the court the information they do plan on using and why they need it.
While the warrant is meant to investigate violent acts that took place in Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day, many people have already been charged with crimes related to the rioting. Twenty people have already pleaded guilty, another 20 successfully had their cases dismissed, and almost 200 cases are still ongoing.
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