Feds asking Facebook for info on anti-Trump activists

Demonstrators march Saturday Jan. 21 2017 in Atlanta. Thousands of people marched through Atlanta one day after President Donald Trump's inauguration

In search warrants filed in court, government officials sought the disclosure of a wide swath of personal information from the Facebook accounts of two political activists and a page set up to coordinate protests of Trump on Inauguration Day.

The Justice Department is demanding the private Facebook account information of political activists, as part of its investigation into violent Inauguration Day protests.

The Department of Justice has obtained three search warrants from a D.C. court to rifle through the accounts of three Facebook users who it says were involved in protests on Inauguration Day.

"The enforcement of the warrants would chill future online communications of political activists and anyone who communicates with them, as they will learn from these searches that no Facebook privacy setting can protect them from government snooping on political and personal materials far removed from any proper law enforcement interest", the filing warns.

After DreamHost protested the breadth of the warrant, which appeared to require disclosure of information on every visitor to disruptJ20's website, Judge Morin issued a September 15 order requiring the government to specify a plan to minimize prosecutors' exposure to extraneous information. While Facebook typically tells users about government warrants, a gag order initially prohibited it from doing so in this case.

DOJ hit DreamHost with an order to turn over data for DisruptJ20's website earlier this year.

Facebook has not confirmed whether or not it will comply with the warrants, according to NBC.




The DOJ's warrant targeted a Facebook page called "disruptj20" (now called Resist This) in an investigation related to more than 200 protesters who were charged with felony rioting during Trump's inauguration.

The other two warrants pertain to the individual Facebook accounts of two others, Lacy MacAuley and Legba Carrefour. They haven't been charged with a crime related to inauguration protests, either. Carrefour is a self-described political activist and pushed back against the search warrant in court filings, saying that his Facebook account "contains a significant amount of private material concerning my personal life".

Among the information that could be exposed, the ACLU's court filing argues, is information about conversations with friends and family members, "intimate messages" sent to romantic partners and "detailed discussions" of having endured domestic violence. DreamHost fought DOJ in court and succeeded in having limitations put on what information it has to give the government.

"Following considerable pushback, the DoJ dropped its attempt to extract information about more than a million people who visited the site, but it did succeed in getting a judge to order Dreamhost to hand over other site data".

The digital address of visitors and unpublished posts on the forum were protected from government prying, LawNewz reported.

"Today we stood up for privacy rights", MacAuley wrote on Facebook, referring to the challenge in court. Government officials were further prohibited from sharing information that is gleaned, even with other agencies.

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