back to article US prosecutors demand data to unmask every visitor to anti-Trump protest website

Web hosting biz DreamHost is resisting a US government search warrant to turn over data about everyone who visited a website used to coordinate anti-Trump protests. The website, disruptj20.org, is hosted by DreamHost, and was used to organize inauguration protests on January 20, 2017, in Washington DC, according to court …

  1. Adam 52 Silver badge

    All around the world there must be tin-pot dictators saying to themselves, "if only our courts were as accommodating as the Americans".

    Surely someone must have mentioned the 4th amendment to the Judge during his time at law school?

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      The 4th Amendment died decades ago.

      War on Drugs, dontcha know.

      After that it was Terra-ists!

  2. Youngone Silver badge

    Ken White? Well then...

    If Ken White of Popehat fame thinks the Gov is up to something bad, then they probably are.

    I mean, Ken can be a bit of an arsehole at times, but in my view he's usually correct about these sorts of things.

  3. Number6

    I am currently debating whether to click on that link or not. On the one hand it might make their sifting job a bit harder if suddenly there were tens of millions of IP addresses in the log, On the other hand I wouldn't put it beyond them to take the trouble to ID everyone and put them on a travel watch list.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      (raises hand)

      Ooh! Me! Me! Can you put me on the watchlist, just so that I can never be tempted (should I have a mental breakdown or similar) to go to the US?

      I'd be interested to know - among the travel watchlist, and the immigration watchlist, and the list of people who are a certain religion etc. - how many people would voluntarily add themselves to such a list just to show the US quite how many people DON'T want to deal with their current shite.

    2. Christoph Silver badge

      You may already be on the list, as may anyone else reading this story, if they use a browser which pre-fetches linked pages in case they are then viewed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Lists

        I'm on the list (I think)

        ESTA's were fine.

        Was trying to check-in online and I got flagged. The rest of the family didn't. I asked and was told I was on "a list" and had to go through an extra hour of security checks...

        Then, at the airport (both sides) - I get the extra checks (ballistics, everything).

        Sadly - I've normalised it so turn up earlier to expect it now.

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        I think "The Register" is already counted as an anti-Trump protest web site by the TLA (although possibly this hasn't been announced), and is watched.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Best case they get their list of 10s of millions of IP addresses, but to what end? They then have to carve up the IP addresses to the relevant ISP, then submit request to each of the ISPs to translate the IPs into actual users - ignoring the fact that they wouldn't be necessarily the visitor to that page...

  4. DNTP

    Of course Trump's government will also ask...

    For all the visitors to websites coordinating neo-Nazi protests, since those have actually promoted, threatened, and resulted in, violence, injuries and deaths.

    Of course.

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Of course Trump's government will also ask...

      They might, you never know. That's the beauty of an reasonably independent law enforcement community.

      And, depending on the sites, it'd still quite likely be unreasonable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Of course Trump's government will also ask...

        I'm going to ask The Reg who is the phantom down voter. They spend the entire day looking for articles that have 0 and add one.

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

          Re: Of course Trump's government will also ask...

          The ACME SPLAFFER could probably do this automatically, but I don't think it's creator would do that.

      2. Fatman Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Of course Trump's government will also ask...

        <quote>That's the beauty of an reasonably independent bought and paid for law enforcement community.</quote>

        There!

        FTFY!

    2. gandalfcn

      Re: Of course Trump's government will also ask...

      I see you have a Nazi downvoting you. Very sad.

    3. HausWolf

      Re: Of course Trump's government will also ask...

      They already have that list, it's one of their donors list.

  5. veti Silver badge

    What's missing from this story?

    So... has Dreamhost actually filed a motion, or whatever it is they need to do, to resist the order legally? Or are they just blogging about it and aiming for martyrdom?

    I would have guessed that legal channels would stand a good chance of success in this case, but only if they're correctly pursued. "The court of public opinion", while entertaining, is not really the most appropriate jurisdiction for the case.

    1. Credas Silver badge

      Re: What's missing from this story?

      So... has Dreamhost actually filed a motion, or whatever it is they need to do, to resist the order legally? Or are they just blogging about it and aiming for martyrdom?

      Well, since you've presumably actually read that blog post, you'll know that they have made an appropriate legal response. As well as blogging to inform the general public about how their government is trying to suppress any political dissent.

  6. ThaumaTechnician

    I did my bit. Anyone else?

    That is, visit the site. Maybe we can get it to a billion IP addresses?

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: I did my bit. Anyone else?

      That is, visit the site. Maybe we can get it to a billion IP addresses?

      Not very likely if the visiting populance are just el-reg types - you want to get someone with a large twit or FB following to post the address - tell them it's a link to some outrageous new Kardashian story - or celeb porn - whatever...

    2. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: I did my bit. Anyone else?

      Maybe we can get it to a billion IP addresses?

      IP addresses with no other information mean nothing, so I'd expect there to be time stamps and activity logging. Even the dumbest of NSA analysts would be able to sort the data and ignore everything after a given time. Ringleaders will not be the latecomers.

      But you might find that they pass the foreign IP addresses of shit-stirring latecomers onto US immigration, in case you one day choose to visit The Land Formerly Known As The Land of the Free. And if you're living in a Five Spies country, your domestic security services will happily identify you to the Yanks.

    3. phuzz Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: I did my bit. Anyone else?

      Logs have timestamps, so unless you've gone back in time and clicked back in January, then you've done nothing.

      This is an IT news website FFS, how can any reader not understand the concept of web server logging with datestamps?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In my newsfeed 'highlights' today

    Donald Trump

    North Korea

    Charlottesville

    Kim Jong-un

    Taylor Swift

    Jon Snow

    Neo-Nazism

    Ku Klux Klan

    Daenerys Targaryen

    Eastwatch

    This is 2017, right?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In my newsfeed 'highlights' today

      The morons in the US voted for Trump. What did you expect.

      1. Nimby Bronze badge
        FAIL

        Re: The morons in the US voted for Trump. What did you expect.

        Actually, they didn't. That may be the worst part of the whole mess is that for the POPULAR vote, AKA how PEOPLE actually voted, Hillarious won. But because the USA is such a shining example of democracy, Trumped-Up won the election even though he LOST the vote of the people thanks to the antiquated and highly debatable institution known as the Electoral College. It isn't even the first time that this has ever happened, but definitely this time around has the most dire consequences.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The morons in the US voted for Trump. What did you expect.

          Don't worry, the UK voting system is equally fucked and with the the new electoral borders, they are even more corrupted

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The morons in the US voted for Trump. What did you expect.

            You see, that's all the US needs...Jeremy Corbyn to come and sow the seeds of peace.

            He can share a podium with the KKK and any bat shit crazy white supremacist group and refer to them as his friends...because as we know, all issues and groups just need to be talked to calmly and they'll soon see the error of their ways!

            Can you imagine if Maybot had ever said "friends from the KKK"?

            Thank fuck for boundary changes if it keeps that bearded twat out of power and his cabal of evil Stalinists.

            1. Roger Kynaston
              Mushroom

              Re: The morons in the US voted for Trump. What did you expect.

              Wow, you are the second troll on this discussion. I salute you!

            2. Patrician

              Re: The morons in the US voted for Trump. What did you expect.

              "Thank fuck for boundary changes if it keeps that bearded twat out of power and his cabal of evil Stalinists."

              So you're not a believer in democracy then?

              1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

                Re: The morons in the US voted for Trump. What did you expect.

                " but definitely this time around has the most dire consequences."

                Really? The last time millions of people died half way around the world from the US.

                Whilst this situation has the *potential* to be much worse, it hasn't actually happened yet.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: The morons in the US voted for Trump. What did you expect.

                last I checked, the Corbyn machine was all set to call any result that wasn't to its liking as "rigged" (just like they do in other tin pot dictatorships or countries). That man and his idiotic advisers respect characters like Chairman Mao and Joseph Stalin...characters who are not known for their love of democracy...in fact I'd go further: they're known for heartlessly massacring vast swathes of their own populations...but hey...maybe I am just being revisionist...I am sure Seamus Milne or Diane Abbott can set me straight and "make the case" for Mao and Stalin.

                The boundary changes are to improve democracy, not to destroy it...but it still pleases me that it fucks over beardy and his merry men (and one token woman).

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: The morons in the US voted for Trump. What did you expect.

                  "The boundary changes are to improve democracy, not to destroy it"

                  To give an example how fucked they are.

                  Our village (yes village, not town) was split about 70/30

                  The 70 percent were allowed to vote for the local parish councilors all of whom live in the village. The other 30% had to vote for the neighboring town, the winner of which lives 20 miles from that town, let alone the village.

                  Yes that makes sense.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: The morons in the US voted for Trump. What did you expect.

                    Bound to be some anomalies...

                    http://boundarycommissionforengland.independent.gov.uk/2018-review/

                    The changes are not partisan however...no matter what your average Che loving Corbynista says, the commission in charge of these changes is not run by baby eating, child abusing, pig molesting Tory scum. Unless you believe anybody who disagrees with anything JC says is classified thus, in which case you are lost anyway.

      2. earl grey Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: In my newsfeed 'highlights' today

        They didn't have a choice. Everyone else in either party was far worse. Hard to believe, I know; but true.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: In my newsfeed 'highlights' today

      This is 2017, right?

      Yes, 2017. The year when the most appealing people in your newsfeed are fictional hereditary rulers wielding power by sword and dragon.

  8. Winkypop Silver badge
    Trollface

    Ooops

    I clicked!

    1. Slx

      Re: Ooops

      Off to the reeducation centre to be sprayed orange and made to study The Art of the Deal!!

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Ooops

        What do they do to your hair at the reeducation centre?

        Or do they just torture you until you say "the hair is wonderful"?

      2. harmjschoonhoven
        Mushroom

        Re: Ooops

        Off to the reeducation centre to be sprayed orange and made to study The Art of the Deal and force-fed a double portion of vanilla ice cream with chocolate cream pie through the nose!!

  9. The Axe

    The clue is in the domain name

    The domain name has disrupt, as in stop, hinder, interfere with, the inauguration in its name. That's a bit more than free speech and anything against the president is a crime, be they right wing or left wing.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: The clue is in the domain name

      What do you mean "anything against the president is a crime"?

      It is a crime if they are trying to harm the president. It is not a crime to hate the president, protest the president, say mean things about the president, or anything else connected with the president other than trying to harm him or his family.

      I'll bet 95% of those who think the president should somehow be protected from criticism and protest did not hold that view when Obama was president.

      If they investigate and find that some people were planning to destroy property or commit other crimes then that's a crime and they can be prosecuted. But being "against the president" is not and should never be a crime, even if Trump would make it a crime if he could.

      1. Geriant

        Re: The clue is in the domain name

        To add a quote in support ...

        "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

        Theodore Roosevelt

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: The clue is in the domain name

          Indeed.

          One of the defining characteristics about many of the places I don't consider fit for living is that they have laws on the books criminalising criticism of the ruling party (while often including 'democracy' somewhere in their name). (As an aside; add places where 'blasphemy' is on the rule books, for exactly the same reasons - the only difference between a king and a god is that you have a chance of getting rid of a king.)

          Which sounds wonderful for the mythical 'honour' of the country - hey, we don't like people who are rude about the king, do we? - but is more practically an admission that every member of the government's opposition, or anyone who even expresses an opinion that they are not living in the best of all possible worlds because of some government decision, is fair game for trail, arrest, incarceration, or death - not necessarily in that order.

          1. Adam 52 Silver badge

            Re: The clue is in the domain name

            "they have laws on the books criminalising criticism of the ruling party"

            Those countries including England (only for non-citizens since 2010) and Canada. Australia until 2010.

        2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: The clue is in the domain name

          "Patriotism is to support your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it."

          -Mark Twain

    2. Sherrie Ludwig
      Windows

      Re: The clue is in the domain name

      "The domain name has disrupt, as in stop, hinder, interfere with, the inauguration in its name. That's a bit more than free speech and anything against the president is a crime, be they right wing or left wing."

      Ooooh, The Axe, you're SO right! AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons, has a WHOLE WEBSITE called "Disrupt Aging", where we are indoctrinated in things like healthy eating and exercise to stay fitter. We are obviously dangerous radicals, and need to be monitored carefully! In fact, I'm so fired up, my next jewelry line (I'm a jewelry craftsperson) will be called "Disrupt Pearls" and obviously will be dragged off the art fair table to incarceration. Free the Beads! Or, string us up, if you prefer....

      That's my husband in the pic at right, you didn't have a crone icon.

  10. Slx

    Hopefully this is deemed unconstitutional, but it shows just how dangerous a combination of data mining and an authoritarian government can be.

    If it's allowed to stand, I really would worry about the future of the USA as a functioning democracy, as this would have a massive chilling effect on freedom of speech. You would have to think about potential implications of every website you visited. That's pretty much how people have to behave in authoritarian states like China and really is contrary to reviving the USA would claim to be.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Facepalm

      "You would have to think about potential implications of every website you visited."

      You mean you don't already?

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Trollface

    So, Trump now wants to jail the people who don't like him ?

    In America ? Seems like that shining beacon has rusted through and through.

    On the other hand, he'll have largely enough forced labor to build that wall . . .

  12. Bloodbeastterror

    The Handmad's Tale...

    ...begins...

    And seriously, we're just on the edge of nuclear war between a paranoid closed police state and North Korea...?

  13. Nimby Bronze badge
    Terminator

    You can have our IP Addresses when you pry them from our cold dead servers.

    It's a shame that there are probably at least three Alphabet Soup agencies that already have the complete list, through (questionably) legal means. Ever since we started giving up our civil liberties for (alleged) protection from terrorists, the government has gotten away with some truly frightening things. Still, I applaud the attempt at taking a stance to actually uphold Constitutional rights, even if it is functionally meaningless.

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Disproportionate? Let's see. 200 protesters charged. 1.3 IP addresses wanted.

    Can you say "fishing trip" ?

    Still at least they haven't invoked THE PATRIOT act and just taken the information.

    Yet.

    Ol' Donnie really hasn't gotten over the rather thin turn out for his inauguration.

    Except for the protesters.

    You wouldn't believe that someone who ran such a divisive blame-the-victim campaign could have such a thin skin. :-(

    The fact that resources are being wasted on this matter tells me the protesters were right.

    As for the D and the worlds least favorite Norman Cook tribute DJ. Two stubborn donkeys with nuclear weapons sounds like a bad day for the planet to me.

    1. Florida1920 Silver badge

      Re: Disproportionate? Let's see. 200 protesters charged. 1.3 IP addresses wanted.

      Can you say "fishing trip" ?

      Not necessarily. They already may have a list of suspect IP addresses against which to compare this lot. The Trump Putin presidency is only in its first year. It could be it's only laying the foundation for the crackdown on dissenters to come.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Stig

        Re: Disproportionate? Let's see. 200 protesters charged. 1.3 IP addresses wanted.

        Isn't that rather the point... If they do have a suspect's IP list then let them present it to the ISPs for matching/data extraction, and not the way they're trying to fish it?

        Why is the ISP being asked to justify its refusal - the requestor should be justifying its request - hook line and sinker.

  15. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    IP addy's

    If they are only looking fr IP addresses --I've just added another

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What ever you do guys

    Do NOT click

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: What ever you do guys

      Oops! I....I clicked, am I in trouble? Can I still come to 'The Country Formerly Known As The Land Of The Free' ( Copyright LedSwinger)?

      What if I say sorry to the Jaffa?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What ever you do guys

        It's amazing how that typo has persisted for so long. There's no r in Fee.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What ever you do guys

          I prefer to use "The Land of the Freely Exploited", as it correctly reflects the legal standing of their citizens versus their corporations.

  17. chivo243 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    ...simply passed by the site.

    Oops, I was looking for a J-20 Klingon Disruptor and mistakenly visited this site... Just don't ask what I want the Klingon Disruptor for... ;-}

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: ...simply passed by the site.

      Don't worry about that. It's a weapon. Weapons are patriotic!

  18. ukgnome Silver badge

    Awkward

    I've just visited twice - Hmm I wonder what my new employer would say.

    I can't actually tell you who that is because reasons.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So at least we really know....

    ...why Chairman May wants to ban VPN's. Her buddys over the pond have accidentally let slip what's going to happen in the UK come May 2022

  20. sebt
    Mushroom

    IANALA, but...

    might I advise Dreamhost to refer the US government to the reply given in the case of Arkell vs Pressdram?

    http://www.lettersofnote.com/2013/08/arkell-v-pressdram.html

    ... adding in "and the horse you rode in on too".

  21. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    * Free speech *

    Now, *THIS* is a story relating to free speech, not that bullshit about those Nazis losing their domain registrar.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: * Free speech *

      How about the government demanding details of everyone who has seen the Neonazi web site? For? Against?

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