A judge in District of Columbia Superior Court has rolled back the scope of the original warrant that required DreamHost to hand over data belonging to users of anti-Trump website disruptj20.org.
Under a new order, DreamHost will provide a redacted set of data that aims to protect non-subscribers to the website, which is allegedly linked to rioting during the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C.
On Tuesday Chief Judge Morin said that the court will incorporate “procedural safeguards to comply with First Amendment and Fourth Amendment considerations.”
Under the order, DreamHost will provide the government with all information for the account disruptj20.org, but can redact the user identifying information of any non-subscribers who visited or communicated through the website. DreamHost will be required to hold onto non-redacted copies of the lists should the court order the hosting company to provide any of the non-redactions to the government in the future.
The order comes more than a month after DreamHost talked to The WHIR as it considered its next move.
The government also has to wait until it gets court approval to begin its review of the redacted materials, explaining how it will conduct its review, the intended search protocols, as well as its plan for permanently deleting all data not within the scope of the warrant. The full order can be read here.
In a statement provided to The WHIR, DreamHost general counsel Chris Ghazarian said:
Chief Judge Morin issued his final order today, and we’re happy to see significant changes that will protect the constitutional rights of innocent internet users. Under this order, we can redact all identifying information and protect the identities of users who interacted with disruptj20.org. We applaud Chief Judge Morin for acknowledging that the government “does not have the right to rummage through the information contained on DreamHost’s website” to “discover the identity of… individuals not participating in alleged criminal activity.”
The new order is a far cry from the original warrant we received in July.
Absent a finding by the Court that probable cause of criminal activity exists, the government will not be able to uncover the identities of these users. There are also quite a few modifications that further reduce the government’s ability to review unrelated data. This is another huge win not just for DreamHost, but for internet users around the world.