White House Demands Info on Anti-trump Site Vis­i­tors

Traveling Minds - - Table Of Contents -

In mid-au­gust, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion de­manded a web­site host­ing com­pany give up “all” in­for­ma­tion from a web­site which helped co­or­di­nate those protest­ing Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion. It is yet an­other grotesque abuse of power from the gov­ern­ment’s Ex­ec­u­tive Branch.

Back when the in­au­gu­ra­tion was deep into plan­ning stages for the in­com­ing Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, a sec­ond plan­ning ef­fort was un­der­way in par­al­lel. That ef­fort, co­or­di­nated via the web­site dis­ruptj20.org, was in­tended to help those in­ter­ested in con­duct­ing Con­sti­tu­tion­ally-pro­tected protests un­der the First amend­ment to the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion.

Trump’s ire over any­one dis­agree­ing with him must have reached a new level of frus­tra­tion this sum­mer, since the U.S. De­part­ment of Jus­tice re­quested and was granted a search war­rant as­so­ci­ated with dis­ruptj20.org as of July 12.

The war­rant, whose con­tents be­came pub­lic on Au­gust 14, was is­sued by the Su­pe­rior Court of the District of Columbia. It re­quests that Dreamhost, the web host­ing com­pany re­spon­si­ble for dis­ruptj20.org, pro­vide “all” in­for­ma­tion avail­able to the host­ing com­pany about dis­ruptj20.org.

Dreamhost has re­fused to pro­vide that in­for­ma­tion. In its op­po­si­tion brief filed with the court it de­scribed what the DOJ is ask­ing for as a “highly un­tar­geted de­mand’. Dreamhost also said there that it sees the war-


rant as “a strong ex­am­ple of in­ves­ti­ga­tory over­reach and a clear abuse of gov­ern­ment au­thor­ity”. Among other things, it would in­volve dis­clos­ing over 1.3 mil­lion IP ad­dresses along with con­tact in­for­ma­tion, email con­tent and photos of thou­sands of peo­ple.

This is not the first time Dreamhost was sub­poe­naed re­lated to this mat­ter. Ac­cord­ing to its cur­rent fil­ing, “Ap­prox­i­mately one week af­ter the 2017 U.S. Pres­i­den­tial In­au­gu­ra­tion, the gov­ern­ment pro­vided Dreamhost, a web host­ing com­pany, with a Grand Jury sub­poena for records along with a re­quest to pre­serve records. The sub­poena called for seven cat­e­gories of in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing the Dreamhost ac­count us­ing the in­ter­net do­main name “dis­ruptj20.org.” The cat­e­gories in the sub­poena in­cluded in­for­ma­tion iden­ti­fy­ing the in­di­vid­ual reg­is­trant of the web­site, the reg­is­trant’s phys­i­cal ad­dresses and e-mail ad­dresses, in­for­ma­tion about the ser­vices the reg­is­trant ob­tained from DreamHost, the pay­ment for those ser­vices, and in­for­ma­tion about the reg­is­trant’s com­puter in­ter­ac­tions with Dreamhost’s servers, the dis­ruptj20.org web­site.”

Dreamhost did re­spond to that first re­quest “within three weeks of ser­vice of the sub­poena”, ac­cord­ing to their fil­ing on Fri­day, Au­gust 18 with the Su­pe­rior Court of the District of Columbia. This lat­est one they are re­fus­ing to sup­port.

Dreamhost says in its lat­est fil­ing that the Su­pe­rior Court war­rant asks for:

“all in­for­ma­tion per­tain­ing to [www.dis­ruptj20. com], in­clud­ing all files, data­bases and data­base records stored by Dreamhost in re­la­tion to that ac­count or iden­ti­fier.”

“in­for­ma­tion iden­ti­fy­ing the sub­scribers and their pay­ments”

“records per­tain­ing to the types of ser­vice uti­lized by the user”, and

“records per­tain­ing to com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween Dreamhost and any­one else re­gard­ing the ac­count”

In an Ap­pendix B which was part of the same July 2017 DOJ sub­poena, it demands ““all in­for­ma­tion de­scribed [in the ‘dis­clo­sure’ cat­e­gory] that con­sti­tutes fruits, ev­i­dence and in­stru­men­tal­i­ties of vi­o­la­tions of D.C. Code § 22-1322 in­volv­ing the in­di­vid­u­als who par­tic­i­pated, planed [sic], or­ga­nized, or in­cited the Jan­uary 20 riot, re­lat­ing to the de­vel­op­ment, pub­lish­ing, ad­ver­tise­ment, ac­cess, use, ad­min­is­tra­tion or main­te­nance of [www. dis­ruptj20.com] . . .”

The sub­poena goes on to de­scribe two types of elec­tronic data that it de­fines as fall­ing within the scope of the “seizure”. Th­ese are:

“[f]iles, data­bases, and data­base records stored by Dreamhost on be­half of the sub­scriber or user op­er­at­ing the web­site, in­clud­ing (a) pro­gram­ming code used to serve or process re­quests made via web browsers; (b) HTML, CSS, Javascript, im­age files, or other files; (c) HTTP re­quest and er­ror logs; (d) SSH, FTP, or Tel­net logs show­ing con­nec­tions re­lated to the web­site, and any other trans­ac­tional in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing records of ses­sion times and du­ra­tions, log files, dates and times of con­nect­ing, meth­ods of con­nect­ing, and ports; (e) MYSQL, Post­gresql, or other data­bases re­lated to the web­site; [and] (f) email ac­counts and the con­tents thereof, as­so­ci­ated with the ac­count.”

“[s]ub­scriber in­for­ma­tion re­lated to the ac­counts es­tab­lished to host [www.dis­ruptj20. com],” in­clud­ing names and ad­dresses, pay­ment in­for­ma­tion, and do­main regis­tra­tion de­tails.

As of this writ­ing, no in­for­ma­tion is avail­able as to how the Su­pe­rior Court may have ruled on Dreamhost’s jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for why it will not be re­spond­ing to th­ese lat­est re­quest. In view of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s para­noia about those who ques­tion its judg­ment, the one thing one can be cer­tain of is that At­tor­ney Gener- al Jeff Ses­sions will be in­volved to help push for what Trump wants here.

One other thing which is also likely cer­tain is that this kind of sub­poena re­quest, which only by ac­ci­dent has be­come pub­lic, is likely be­ing du­pli­cated in other mat­ters – per­haps more fright­en­ing – that none of us so far has any idea is also hap­pen­ing.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon once had what be­came well-known as an ‘en­e­mies list’. It con­sisted of jour­nal­ists, politi­cians, and celebri­ties he and his staff deemed as en­e­mies of the state, even if not im­me­di­ately avail­able to pros­e­cute and put be­hind bars. Nixon used it to jus­tify searches and sur­veil­lance back at a time when the in­ter­net was only just be­ing cre­ated as an idea.

With the in­ter­net, Trump now can make Pres­i­dent Nixon look like a rank am­a­teur when it comes to pub­lic in­tim­i­da­tion. This Dreamhost case may be just the tip of that ice­berg.

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