Is This Plan to ‘Shut Down’ the White House on Inauguration Day Legal?
Policy + Politics

Is This Plan to ‘Shut Down’ the White House on Inauguration Day Legal?

© Carlos Barria / Reuters

Washington is bracing for a rash of marches and demonstrations protesting Friday’s inauguration of Donald J. Trump as America’s 45th president.

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Almost 1 million people are expected, and Reuters describes the nation’s capital as a “fortress,” with some 30 permits issued for groups looking to mount demonstrations both for and against Trump. Reuters says “That number includes some 200,000 people who police say they expect to attend Saturday's Women's March on Washington, an anti-Trump protest.”

But locking arms in protest isn’t the only way anti-Trump activists are planning to make themselves heard. In fact, one group says it intends to lock up the White House website., a platform created by San Francisco software engineer Juan Soberanis, is urging those who can’t make it to Washington “to oppose Trump’s presidency by visiting the site and overloading it with too much traffic,” PCWorld says.

A release published by PRNewswire on Jan. 12 and since taken down called “an open platform for activists to create and run protests that operate similar to crowdfunding campaigns” with a specific goal. But instead of raising money in a set period of time, the object is to mount a one-time protest.

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However, PCWorld points out that a so-called distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack aimed at taking down could be illegal under federal law.

Soberanis disagrees, describing his plan – having millions of people log into the White House website and keep refreshing the page -- as an act of civil disobedience no different than taking part in a march.

Illegal or not, there is a certain irony to mounting a digital protest against a man who tweeted his way to the Oval Office with the alleged help of Russian hackers.