Web hosting company DreamHost recently took a stance against the Department of Justice to stand up for Internet privacy.
According to their official blog, they’ve been involved in an on-going investigation against one of their customers for an anti-administration website.
The Department of Justice served them a search warrant (PDF), with requests they considered unreasonable (screenshot):
Not only did they want information about the owner of the website, they also wanted information about the visitors that actually visited the website, including IP addresses (i.e. HTTP request and error logs).
Protection of the First Amendment
Earlier this week I blogged about where we stand as a company when it comes to our zero adult and hate policy.
In my opinion this should be very cut and dry:
If you serve up any images that would even be considered adult in nature or a website that promotes hate of any kind against anyone, take your business elsewhere.
I seriously want everyone to get along. Love your neighbor just as you love yourself and we can all change the world for the better.
But as long as you’re not visiting content that’s illegal, should your IP address and private information be provided to the government?
Regardless where you stand on the political fence, we all have rights as Americans, that’s what makes our country so great!
DreamHost Touts A Win For Privacy
Yesterday, DreamHost posted an update touting victory:
This morning Chief Judge Morin of the Superior Court of Washington D.C. took the time to examine the DOJ’s initial warrant and their amendment, weighing them against our concerns.
We’re pleased that the court further limited the government’s access to this data today. Judge Morin confirmed the validity of the Department of Justice’s amended request, with some changes, and he is enforcing the DOJ’s motion to compel.
As a company that operates lawfully in the United States, we are now obligated to comply with the court’s request.
Given the extraordinary privacy and First Amendment issues raised by this case, the court has chosen to effectively shackle the Department of Justice in several key ways, all of which act to limit exposure of sensitive and private user information.
The court has asked the DOJ to present it with a “minimization plan.” This plan is to include the names of all government investigators who will have access to this data and a list of all methods that will be used to comb through it in search of evidence.
The production of evidence from this trove of data will be overseen by the court. The DOJ is not permitted to perform this search in a bubble.
Good for them!
This type of legal action isn’t cheap and I’m pleased to see a company actually stand up for Internet privacy. It would have been very easy [much less costly] to comply with the DOJ’s request. But at what cost?
DreamHost Goes Under DDOS Attack
Following yesterday’s victory, DreamHost became a victim of a very large-scale Distributed Denial Of Service (DDOS) attack.
Rumors immediately began circulating if it was because of their victory against the DOJ, but later revealed it was from a group attempting to take an extremist website, also hosted by DreamHost, offline:
As of this writing, Dream Host’s status website shows all services are now operational and the attack has been mitigated.
Ryan Gray is the founder and CEO of NameHero, one of the fastest growing independent web hosts in the United States. Ryan has been working online since 1998 and has over two-decades experience in Internet Entrepreneurship.