DreamHost fighting to protect the fundamental rights of its users

Habeas data, my data my right, is the ethos of the right to be a free and fulfilling individual. It offers the individual to be him/herself without being monitored.

In The United States, there are several salvos to protect and further the concept.

The First Amendment

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution establishes the

  • Freedom of speech,
  • Freedom of the press,
  • Freedom exercise of religion,
  • Freedom to assemble peaceably
The Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment(Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution

  • prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures;
  • establishes The right to privacy is protected by the US Constitution, though the exact word privacy has not been used. But if we have a close look to the Amendment to the Bill of Rights, it bars Government to issue a general warrant.
The Privacy Protection Act, 1980

The Act protects press, journalists, media house, newsroom from the search conducted by the government office bearers. It mandates that it shall be unlawful for a government employee to search for or seize “work product” or “documentary materials” that are possessed by a person “in connection with a purpose to disseminate to the public a newspaper, book, broadcast, or other similar form of public communication”, in connection with the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense, [42 U.S.C. §§ 2000aa (a), (b) (1996)]. An order, a subpoena is necessary for accessing the information, documents.

But the Government for the time again have violated, disregarded these mandates and stepped outside their periphery in the name of security of the state.

The present situation with DreamHost

DreamHost is A Los Angeles based company(private). It provides the following services, Web hosting service, Cloud computing service, Cloud storage service, Domain name registrar. The company since past few months is fighting a legal battle to protect their and one of their customer’s, disruptj20.org fundamental right.

What is disruptj20.org?

The company hosts disruptj20.org in the web. It is a website which organized, encouraged willing individuals to participate against the present US Government. Wikipedia says - “DisruptJ20 (also Disrupt J20), a Washington, D.C.-based political organization founded in July 2016 and publicly launched on November 11 of the same year, stated its initial aim as protesting and disrupting events of the presidential inauguration of the 45th U.S.”

The Search Warrant

There was a Search Warrant issued against DreamHost. It requires them to
disclose, give away “the information associated with www.disruptj20.org that is stored at the premises owned, maintained, controlled, or operated by DreamHost,” [ATTACHMENT A].

The particular list of information to be disclosed and information to be seized by the government can be seen at ATTACHMENT B.

How it affects third parties (other than www.disruptj20.org)?

It demands to reveal to the government of “all files” related to the website, which includes the HTTP logs for the visitors, - means

  • the time and date of the visit,
  • the IP address for the visitor,
  • the website pages viewed by the visitor (through their IP address),
  • the detailed description of the software running in the visitor’s computer.
  • details of emails by the third party to the www.disruptj20.org.

Responding to it the company challenged the Department of Justice (on the warrant). They made an attempt to quash the demand of seizure and disclosure of the information by due legal process and reason.

Motion to show cause

In a usual course of action, the DOJ would respond to the inquiries of DreamHost. But here instead of answering to their inquiries, DOJ chose to file a motion to show cause in the Washington, D.C. Superior Court. DOJ asked for an order to compel them to produce the records,

The Opposition

The Opposition for the denial of the above mentioned motion filed by DreamHost filed an Opposition for the denial of the above mentioned motion. The “Argument” part shows/claims/demonstrates

  • How the Search Warrant Violates the Fourth Amendment and the Privacy Protection Act.
  • The Search Warrant requires the details of the visitors to the website.This severely endangers their freedom of speech (The First Amendment). As described by DreamHost on their blog.

“This motion is our latest salvo in what has become a months-long battle to protect the identities of thousands of unwitting internet users.”

Electronic Frontier Foundation has led their support, help to DreamHost, though they are not representing them in the court. The matter will be heard on August 18 in Washington, D.C.

There are different kinds of securities. Security for state power is a kind that is constantly protected. In contrast to the security for the population which is constantly denied, negated, curbed and restrained. By looking at the series of events, the documentary records of this particular incident raises a doubt -

  • If the Government action is motivated by security or not?

The only security in this case is probably is being considered is security to stay in power, noticing the nature, subject of the website. Now it is the high time that people should stand to save individual’s, commoner’s right to have private space, opinion and protest. Kudous to DreamHost to protect the primary fundamental right of and individual - Privacy.