Published: Sat, September 30, 2017
Entertaiment | By Minnie Bishop

ACLU: Gov't Wants 'Complete Record' On Some Anti-Trump Facebook Accounts

ACLU: Gov't Wants 'Complete Record' On Some Anti-Trump Facebook Accounts

The Justice Department has obtained three warrants to search the Facebook accounts of people associated with protests of Donald Trump's inauguration and an anti-Trump Facebook page they used to organize the demonstrations.

One of the warrants being considered by the Department of Justice relates to the disruptj20 Facebook page, a protest held on President Donald Trump's 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.

Although the page is public, the warrant would require the disclosure of non-public lists of people who planned to attend political organizing events and even the names of people who simply liked, followed, reacted to, commented on, or otherwise engaged with the content on the Facebook page.

The warrant also seeks records of all Facebook accounts linked to the DisruptJ20 page, meaning those who interacted with or liked the page, estimated to be about 6,000 at the time of the protests. But after Facebook successfully fought to have the gag removed in mid-September, the ACLU of Washington, D.C. filed a motion to quash, or limit, the warrants on behalf of the three users. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how they are handling these search warrants. The company initially fought a judge's order preventing Facebook from alerting its users to the search.

The ACLU is representing three of the DisruptJ20 activists, including Lacy MacAuley and Legba Carrefour, in an attempt to challenge the warrants.

"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", American Civil Liberties Union attorney Scott Michelman told CNN.

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Requested data would go back to November 1, 2016, a week before the presidential election. The DOJ also alleges that these two organizers incited a riot, according to the two warrants.

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.

In the years since people began conducting their lives via electronic devices, courts have forced prosecutors to develop a two-step process for collecting electronic evidence without violating the Fourth Amendment's strictures against broad searches. ACLU lawyer Scott Michelman said, "The primary goal of the Fourth Amendment was to prevent this type of exploratory rummaging through a person's private information".

The legal wrangling over the so-called gag order took place behind closed doors in sealed court documents.

Earlier this year, web hosting service Dreamhost announced it was challenging a warrant from the DOJ that demanded the IP addresses of the 1.3 million people who visited the DisruptJ20.org website.

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

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