Prosecutors Drop Demand for Inauguration Protest Data

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Federal prosecutors have dramatically narrowed their demands for information about a website used to organize protests of President Trump’s inauguration, Politico reports. Privacy advocates and civil liberties groups had complained that a search warrant a Washington, D.C., judge issued last month for data about the disruptJ20.org website was wildly overbroad and could have swept up data on thousands of people who simply visited web pages about anti-inaugural activities. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said “factual revelations” led them to drop a demand for visitor logs and to limit the government’s demand for other data to July 2016 through Inauguration Day.

DreamHost said the original demand appeared to cover 1.3 million IP addresses relating to visits to the disruptj20 site from Jan. 23 to Jan. 28. Prosecutors now say they are trying to investigate violence and property damage that took place on Jan. 20 as part of a “riot” just prior to Trump’s inauguration. The prosecution insists it is not trying to chill the activities of law-abiding demonstrators. “The government values and respects the First Amendment right of all Americans to participate in peaceful political protests and to read protected political expression online,” prosecutors wrote. “This Warrant has nothing to do with that right. The Warrant is focused on evidence of the planning, coordination and participation in a criminal act – that is, a premeditated riot. The First Amendment does not protect violent, criminal conduct such as this.”

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