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Government The Courts Privacy The Internet United States Politics Technology

DC Judge Approves Government Warrant For Data From Anti-Trump Website (reuters.com) 142

According to Reuters, a D.C. Superior Court judge on Thursday approved a government warrant seeking data from an anti-Trump website related to Inauguration Day protests, but he added protections to safeguard "innocent users." From the report: Chief Judge Robert Morin said DreamHost, a Los Angeles-based web-hosting company, must turn over data about visitors to the website disruptj20.org, which is a home to political activists who organized protests at the time of Donald Trump's inauguration as U.S. president in January. Morin, who will oversee review of the data, said the government must explain what protocols it will use to make sure prosecutors do not seize the data of "innocent users." Morin said at a hearing on Thursday that he recognized the tension between free speech rights and law enforcement's need to search digital records for evidence. He said he added safeguards to his order granting the government's request for information in an effort to balance those two concerns. Besides reviewing the prosecutors' privacy protocols, Morin also shortened the time frame for records to those generated from October to Inauguration Day and instructed the prosecutors to explain why anything they want to seize is germane to the investigation.
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DC Judge Approves Government Warrant For Data From Anti-Trump Website

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  • by imp7 ( 714746 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @04:27PM (#55078375)
    I just can't believe I was tricked into reading another solar eclipse article.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Despite the 'restrictions' the judge placed on the inquiry, and timeframe, was this more allowed through to set a precedent?

    Granted I don't know a whole lot about disruptj20.org, but unless criminal code violations have actually occurred, I'm having a hard time seeing how this is just?

    Or is that the point. Get the precedent set here, for intended future 'fishing expeditions'?

    • by Straif ( 172656 )

      There are 200+ people charged and at least 1 felony conviction for activities during the inauguration; this all stems from those investigations.

      The DoJ contends that while most people using the site were legitimate protestors or just people wondering what type of anti-Trump activities were planned a small group of people used the site to organize premeditated riots.

      These types of warrants are requested and granted all the time and the only thing making this come back into the headlines is the sheer number

  • Actual Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wizy ( 38347 ) <greggatghc@gmail . c om> on Thursday August 24, 2017 @04:34PM (#55078419) Journal

    Here is the link to the real story:

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-dreamhost-idUSKCN1B41ZC [reuters.com]

  • by thedarb ( 181754 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @04:53PM (#55078559) Homepage

    Either think twice about posting it, or learn how to protect your identity online. You can use throw away email addresses, fake names, a good vpn service that doesn't log, and a browser setup not to leak so much information about you.

    Also, consider the privacy policy of the service(s) you are posting on. Do they keep logs? If so, for how long? Logged IP addresses don't need to be kept for much longer than 30 days. That's more than enough time to react to some form of abuse of the platform. If the logs of IP's aren't there, the government can't ask for them. While taking issue with a government for asking for this data makes sense, it also makes sense to apply pressure to these services to stop enabling government fishing expeditions by cleaning up their logs regularly. Keeping logs of IP's for long periods of time are never in the interest of the users... means the service either intends to sell or misuse the data, or they are just too lazy to care about their customer's privacy.

    Learn to navigate the internet safely, or others will use it to harm you.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      This isn't any posting. This is about just visiting a site.

      The link in the summary goes to the wrong article. Thanks to this precedent you could be caught up in a witch hunt just by clicking an innocent looking link.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        More evidence of Slashdot moderation trolling. The parent post has:

        20% Informative
        20% Flamebait
        20% Insightful

        Clearly the flamebit mod is bullshit, it's not in the least bit inflammatory (unless disagreement triggers you, poor snowflake).

    • Those twits didn't even have the sense to not take their phones to a planned riot. 20 years, just for stupidity.

    • Or, don't participate in riots. That's been my personal plan and it's worked out pretty well for the last 50 years.

  • by duke_cheetah2003 ( 862933 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @04:55PM (#55078585) Homepage

    Government is really on a hell of a fishing expedition here.

    I highly doubt there's any planning of violence/vandalism on the site. That sort of stuff sounds like spur of the moment stuff. Do they really think protesters, in general, go out with malicious intent?

    Fishy fishing expedition is fishy.

    • They have the rioters phones with at least half the plotting in the caches. That's how they got the subpoena.

      Examine your blind spots, they are making you stupid as a rock.

      Yes the rioters went out with malicious intent. They were so dumb they publically discussed some of the plans _before_ the event. Fucking morons that they are.

    • Government is really on a hell of a fishing expedition here.

      I highly doubt there's any planning of violence/vandalism on the site. That sort of stuff sounds like spur of the moment stuff. Do they really think protesters, in general, go out with malicious intent?

      Obviously not. I mean, they bring baseball bats in case a game breaks out (odd, nobody remembered to bring a ball!) and urine-filled balloons in case a water balloon fight breaks out. What fun!

  • I have a feeling that the DoJ is doing this primarily to bring some sort of conspiracy charges against particular people that haven't already been charged. They're not going to charge random visitors to the site who went there once or two and that was it because it would be an unwinnable case.

    • Of course, but the precedent of just handing over such data is a *very* bad one.
      DH wasn't just protecting the current crop of website visitors, they're protecting the entire US population of website visitors.
      It's not a stretch to think that some other agency, that is based in a slightly off-white house-type building, would get a copy quietly and trawl that for political opponents.

      • Good news, nobody is 'just handing over data'. Cops and prosecutors got a subpoena based on the contents of rioters phones. Two judges have reviewed it, the second narrowed the scope. This is a normal felony prosecution.

        • only because DH objected. The point of my comment was that had they not objected there was an issue with the initial request that could have been abused.

          • This is normal process. We will see exactly how much of the initial objections were bullshit. We _know_ the site didn't have near enough traffic to have 1.3 million unique visitors. I bet the lawyers were just lawyering 1.3 page views with logged IPs into 1.3 million uses.

            In any case, the rioters and at least some of their handlers are going to prison. Yeah!

          • Also phrasing...A subpoena is not a 'request'.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by jwhyche ( 6192 )

      Hopefully, this is just the beginning. With any luck they will get a trail of evidence that leads right back to George Soros. Then maybe they can bring some federal charges against the head of the whole problem.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    According to the article, the judge did not just rubber-stamp it.
    Which is basically a precedence setting first! Said judge is apparently requiring the govt/DoJ to specifically justify the requests.
    It will be _VERY_ interesting to see what happens.
    However, it is unclear to me (IANAL) if this judge "has standing" to issue such an order - Dreamhost (Los Angeles, CA) is nowhere near D.C (District of Columbia).

  • Honestly, only way I can see any reasonable person be upset over this is if they don't know about the riots that took place under Trump's inauguration, that this site was used to organize the demonstrations and that the information request is limited to rioting-related posts.

    I can understand that people are frustrated with Trump and his election as president, but that doesn't give anyone the right to ignore the rule of law and go around destroying both public and private property. Even the "we're fightin
    • by Shimbo ( 100005 )

      Honestly, only way I can see any reasonable person be upset over this is if they don't know about the riots that took place under Trump's inauguration, that this site was used to organize the demonstrations and that the information request is limited to rioting-related posts.

      The information request wasn't limited to rioting related posts; the DoJ wanted a bulk dump which they could scan through after. That's a really different thing.

      People use X for criminal activity, therefore it's OK for us to harvest data from X is problematic. People have used Facebook to organise riots, would it be OK to mine Facebook? They need to look through data from long before the election to catch Inauguration day rioters? No concerns about that?

      To quote the FA: "Morin said at a hearing on Thursday

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