Internet rights and freedom of assembly advocates rejoice! The judiciary has come down on the side of US citizens fighting to protect their rights. We recently reported on President Trump’s Department of Justice requesting identifying information on visitors to a protest website, but that may now be a thing of the past. A judge has issued a statement indicating that the United States government has “no right to rummage” through the anti-Trump traffic log.
This is huge. When we first reported on the DOJ requesting identifying information from an anti-Trump website’s hosting provider, we were concerned. Thankfully, a Washington DC judge has since told the DOJ that the department does not have any right to pour through the visitor traffic logs of this website.
The case landed on Chief Judge Robert E. Morin’s desk in August. He had originally ordered that the website hosting service, DreamHost, comply with the requests and hand over the information that the DOJ had requested. There were important caveats, but they were not enough to successfully protect innocent internet users.
After appeals were filed by DreamHost and new hearings took place, it looks like Chief Judge Morin has reconsidered. He issued a revised order that comes down on the side of privacy advocates everywhere. Not only did Chief Judge Morin issue an order telling the government that they had no right to go through these files, but in an awesome double-whammy blow to the DOJ, Judge Morin ordered that DreamHost protect its customers from these exact kind of rights infringements.
Our readers will know that I am ecstatic whenever internet and privacy rights are upheld or strengthened, along with everyone else here at The Merkle. I am writing this with an enormous grin on my face, actually.
This is a bit of good news at a time when we hear continually about campaigns against our internet rights. Even supporters of Donald Trump and his administration should be happy, even though this blow was dealt to an administration they support. This sets a legal precedent that could serve to enshrine our internet privacy rights into stronger laws. Now any president — Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or anything else — would have to overcome this decision in order to snoop on your Internet habits. This is good for everyone.
However, there is still work to be done, and reasons to stay vigilant. Net neutrality remains under fire. The FCC claims that an ISP market consisting of one company constitutes effective competition, as it removes price caps even for regions with only one ISP. In a world with too little competition in the ISP sector already, being told that only one ISP is sufficient competition feels like a farce.
Let’s take our win and thank Chief Judge Morin, but not let it make us lazy.
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