By now we’ve gotten a sense of what President Toddler is like when he doesn’t get his way—for a recent example, see the border wall imbroglio and Trump’s threats to shut down the federal government if that monument to his racism isn’t funded by American taxpayers. So we expect a real conniption to unfold on Twitter any moment now that the Department Of Justice has backed off on its demand for sensitive data from web-hosting company DreamHost regarding the anti-Trump protest site DisruptJ20.org. The site was used in part to organize protests at the January 20 inauguration. Though that day has come and gone, DisruptJ20.org is now working to free the 196 protestors arrested at the inauguration.
Earlier this month, the DOJ presented DreamHost with a warrant for info on dates and times DisruptJ20.org was accessed by users, as well as “contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of people,” without any real explanation for why. The web-hosting provider refused to go along with the request, which online privacy advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation called unconstitutional and an act of “staggering overbreadth” on the government’s part. But Gizmodo now reports that the Justice Department has withdrawn that request, agreeing with DreamHost and the EFF that in its original form, the document was overly broad. U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips confirmed in a statement that “the government has no interest in records relating to the 1.3 million IP addresses that are mentioned in DreamHost’s numerous press releases and Opposition brief.” He continued: “To re-iterate: these additional facts were unknown to the government at the time it applied for and obtained the Warrant; consequently, the government could not exclude from the scope of the Warrant what it did not know existed,” Phillips wrote.
The DOJ backing down is certainly a victory for civil rights, but the fact that the rest of Phillips’ statement amounts to the government admitting it hadn’t anticipated that there could be so much data surrounding the 1.3 million visitors it wanted to snoop on is a bit unsettling. But we can guess who doesn’t clear their browser history at work.
[Note: Gizmodo, like The A.V. Club, is owned by Univision Communications.]