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DOJ's access to anti-Trump Facebook accounts challenged

DOJ's access to anti-Trump Facebook accounts challenged

Liked by 6,000 in individuals who may participated in the January 20 demonstrations, DOJ will have access to the names of all those people, plus anyone who marked themselves as attending disruptj20's protests, if a civil liberties organization is unsuccessful at halting or narrowing the Trump administration's warrant.

Facebook was initially served the warrants in February 2017 along with a gag order which barred the social media company from alerting the three users that the government was seeking their private information, Michelman said.

One of those users, Emmelia Talarico, operated the disruptj20 page where Inauguration Day protests were organized and discussed; the page was visited by an estimated 6,000 users whose identities the government would have access to if Facebook hands over the information sought in the search warrants. The ACLU claims the warrants are so broad they violate the constitutional right to freedom of speech, plus the Fourth Amendment protecting Americans from "unreasonable searches and seizures".

Donald Trump walks with first lady Melania Trump along the inauguration day parade route after being sworn in as the
Trump administration lawyers demand Facebook account information of anti-Trump activists

The D.C. branch of the ACLU is helping three anti-Trump activists fight what they say is an overly broad government demand for their personal Facebook data.

The group added that enforcing those warrants would "chill future online communications" of activists and those who talk to them, "as they will learn that no Facebook privacy setting can protect them from government snooping".

"What is particularly chilling about these warrants is that anti-administration political activists are going to have their political associations and views scrutinized by the very administration they are protesting", said ACLU attorney Scott Michelman.

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Approximately 230 protesters were arrested, most on felony rioting charges, on Inauguration Day after some protesters threw objects at people and businesses, destroying storefronts and damaging vehicles.

DreamHost last month revealed it was fighting a warrant for records from DisruptJ20.org related to who may have planned or participated in the Inauguration Day protests in Washington. 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". That search warrant sought the IP addresses, emails and physical addresses of the website owners, as well as similar information about the site's users. DreamHost fought DOJ in court and succeeded in having limitations put on what information it has to give the government.

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

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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.

The digital address of visitors and unpublished posts on the forum were protected from government prying, LawNewz reported. Facebook challenged that order and the government ultimately agreed to allow it to disclose the warrants. Government officials were further prohibited from sharing information that is gleaned, even with other agencies.

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