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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/18/17

Did you visit this anti-Trump site? The US government wants your IP address

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From The Guardian

The Department of Justice wants 1.3 million IP addresses of people who visited distruptj20.org. Is reading about protest illegal now?

Inside Charlottesville's White Supremacy Rally and Counter Protests
Inside Charlottesville's White Supremacy Rally and Counter Protests
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In an unprecedented and dangerous move, Donald Trump's 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, 1.3m IP addresses -- essentially everyone who has ever visited an anti-Trump protest site called disruptj20.org that was organizing protests surrounding Trump inauguration in January.

Dream Host revealed the surveillance demand on Monday on their blog, also saying they were going to court to challenge the order. Dream Host called it "a strong example of investigatory overreach and a clear abuse of government authority" and explained that the "information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express 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 felony rioting."

This includes many people who claim they were just in the vicinity of property damage 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.

Here's how the website disruptj20.org described its mission:

"We're planning a series of massive direct actions that will shut down the Inauguration ceremonies and any related celebrations -- the Inaugural parade, the Inaugural balls, you name it. We're also planning to paralyze the city itself, using blockades and marches to stop traffic and even public transit. And hey, because we like fun, we're even going to throw some parties."

Now, it's possible the site's operators were suggesting they were planning on engaging in at least some civil disobedience that the government would consider illegal. But, as EFF's 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."

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Trevor Timm is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is a writer, activist, and lawyer who specializes in free speech and government transparency issues. He has contributed to  The (more...)
 

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