Public Truth Moving to Canada

Herb Dempsey
Early this month I read a strange announcement that was reported by Tyler Durden that said, "Wayback Machine announces move to Canada out of fear of Trump censorship." I knew of the Wayback Machine because of some earlier research I had done in preparation for an article but I did not know that Trump’s election was taken this seriously. In its simplest sense the Wayback Machine is an Internet archive of 15 petabytes. According to the introductory screen of the Internet Archive it "is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites and more.”

The website also announced, "We need your help to make sure the Internet Archive lasts forever. On November 9, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change. This is a firm reminder that the Internet Archive must also design for change. So we set a new goal: to create a copy of our collections in the Internet archive of Canada. This will cost millions. For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a web that may face greater restrictions. It means serving patrons when government surveillance may be on the rise. The Internet Archive is a nonprofit library built on trust."

If you're interested in wandering around the intellectual property on the Internet, and I sincerely recommend it, this is the access to millions of documents in hundreds of libraries and specialized collections. I took a brief jump over to the Getty Research Institute, where I learned, "the research library at the Getty Research Institute focuses on the history of art, architecture, and archaeology with relevant materials in the humanities and social sciences." Another quick jump to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and I learned a little bit about the Open Content Alliance.  The Boston Public Library was only another click away and the historical registry contains the Navy Directory of Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps from 1934.  OK, you get the idea: this thing is huge and a copy is going to Canada.

Oh, and I did donate. The reason I donated, without putting too fine a point on it, is that I've already run into the magic of disappearing public records in my work with both the State of Washington and the federal government. There are hundreds of administrative agencies involved and since the work I do as a hobbyist is somewhat controversial I really am not amazed that sometimes, public records disappear. After working for a decade on a project to bring equal treatment to girls in Washington state's high schools’ athletic programs I began filing complaints with the federal government at the level of the Office for Civil Rights within the United States Department of Education. About 10 years after I started it seemed like the tide changed and the Office for Civil Rights became obstructive rather than helpful. Suddenly the rules began to change and, even though I was using data from the Office for Civil Rights, my information was no longer sufficient to effect the necessary changes. When I went to explore the department of social and health services in the state of Washington I found public records normally available under RCW 42.56 (the Public Records Act) were not available but that information was now located in mysterious database files which I have been working for several years to persuade DSHS to accept are public records.

In the case of the federal progress to bring equality to girls in high school sports I was told of a review of the civil rights record of the Bush administration that was available on the Internet. I read all 181 pages and it explained in detail what I already knew: civil rights were not very popular with that particular Republican group and they had basically stopped enforcing any civil rights laws. A couple months later I was preparing a presentation on gender equity in high school athletics and I wanted to revisit some of what I had learned in reading the US Commission on Civil Rights evaluation of the Office for Civil Rights. It had disappeared!  In its place a new volume in the US Commission for Civil Rights and it said that, Oh, yes, there were a few problems but generally the Bush administration was doing a fine job. Believe me, we need the Internet Archives. I went to the local folks in OCR and got a copy of the original report but we needn’t do that again if this sort of answer to the fact free world is protected.

For more on The Fact Free World read the excerpts from an interview with a Trump surrogate.

And read more Information about the purpose of the Internet Archive.

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