The Department of Justice government obtained warrants in February to seize the complete information on three anti-Trump Facebook users’ accounts. One group on the social media site included in the three warrants could expose the information of thousands of other Facebook users who interacted with it.
The warrants — for Lacy MacAuley, Legba Carrefour and the DisruptJ20 Facebook page, run by Emmelia Talarico — were initially placed under a gag order, LawNewz first reported Thursday. 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.
According to ACLU lawyer Scott Michelman’s filing Thursday, the government’s warrants aim to seize all information associated with the three accounts, including individuals’ information who interacted with the DisruptJ20 Facebook page. The warrants came as part of an investigation into alleged rioting on Inauguration Day.
Michelman said the request was overly broad and could lead to so-called “exploratory rummaging” through the electronic information of Facebook users who had nothing to do with the alleged rioting.
“The warrants make no provision for avoiding or minimizing invasions into personal and associational/expressive information, for preventing such information from being shared widely within the government, or for destroying irrelevant material when the investigation is concluded,” Michelman wrote.
He added: “Government agents would gain access to the Intervenors’ communications with friends and family members, and pictures and names of their family members, including the pictures and names of minor children and pictures of an Intervenor’s child relatives in the bath,” among other extremely sensitive information, such as “political activities and associations.”
DisruptJ20, which served as a hub of sorts for anti-Trump inauguration event planning, hosted information on its Facebook page unrelated to any smashed windows or rioting, Michelman argued, “such as a peaceful dance-party protest to call attention to the anti-LGBTQ stance of the incoming Vice President.”
The government charged more than 200 people with various crimes following the inaugural protests in Washington, D.C., during which some protesters broke windows and lit fires in the street. Those charged included journalists, legal observers and bystanders. Judge Lynn Leibovitz recently refused to drop any charges against the nearly 200 individuals remaining to be tried.
Prosecutors also requested information from disruptj20.org,’s web host, DreamHost, on the protest website’s more than 1 million visitors. After DreamHost objected to the warrant, the government trimmed its request somewhat, and Judge Robert Morin ultimately ruled that DreamHost must turn over large amounts of users’ data, though he said the data would be handled under the court’s supervision
In his filing Thursday, Michelman was blunt: “The enforcement of these warrants would reach deeply into individuals’ private lives and protected associational and political activity.”
Read the ACLU’s filing below:
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