A new Bodleian archive of 5 million UK websites has been criticised by privacy campaigners and civil rights groups. The Bod, in association with the British Library and five other libraries from across the country, announced its participation in the Internet Archive scheme earlier in April. Over 1 billion webpages are in the process of being permanently archived by the Library to snapshot the nation’s ‘digital memory’.Some privacy campaigners have now voiced concerns about the project’s implications. Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, warned that social media users were at risk of inadvertent exposure, opining, “While the archive cannot access private or password-protected websites, many people might not realise that what they upload to the public web would be enshrined forever.”He told Cherwell, “The danger of unintended consequences is magnified by how wide they’ve cast the net.”Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, pointed out that the main issue was with websites who failed to make their privacy policies clear to users. He told the BBC, “My concern is that a lot of Facebook comments are public and people don’t realise they’re publishing to the world. That’s Facebook’s fault, not the British Library’s – their user settings need to be changed in line with people’s expectations.”The archive cuold eventually contain every public tweet or Facebook post in the British web domain, as it moves to comply with an Act of Parliament passed over 10 years ago. The regulations, known as legal deposit, ensure that ephemeral materials like websites can be collected and preserved forever.Information hidden behind privacy walls on sites such as Facebook, eBay and Amazon will not be recorded. The archive will be limited to pages in the UK web domain and will offer a takedown procedure to remove content that has been mistakenly trawled.For centuries the Bodleian has kept a copy of every book, pamphlet, magazine and newspaper published in the UK as part of a process knownas legal deposit. New regulations from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport mean that the Bodleian’s participation in the archive scheme is compulsory.Sarah Thomas, Bodley’s Librarian, said that the project “will provide future researchers with access to information which otherwise would have been lost and which can contribute to understanding such diverse experiences as the Olympics and nutrition and taste in school dinners.”Some say that the project was long overdue. Without the archive many researchers fear a massive ‘digital black-hole’ in UK history may hinderthe investigations of scholars. Ben Sanderson from the British Librarysaid we had already lost a lot, such as “the material that was posted by thepublic during the 7/7 bombings.”One second-year Hertford historian praised the scheme saying, “You can’t really understand the early 21st century without the Internet… We need to realise as a society that things put up on the Internet are there for everyone to see, perhaps now forever.”The archive process will take three months, with another two months to process the data. The data will be available in Bodleian reading rooms.
Some political observers worry that this year’s census will experience the same technological issues as the recent Iowa caucus, but on a larger scale.The U.S. Census Bureau plans to use the internet along with mobile apps to have citizens respond.However, a government watchdog agency, in addition to the Census Bureau’s inspector general and some lawmakers, are concerned whether those systems are ready.“I must tell you, the Iowa (caucus) debacle comes to mind when I think of the census going digital,” Eleanor Holmes Norton, the congressional delegate for the District of Columbia, said last week at a hearing on the census.Experts also consider the census to be an attractive target for anyone seeking to create chaos and undermine confidence in the U.S. government.In a worst-case scenario, records could be deleted or corrupted with junk data.The Census Bureau says responses to the questionnaire will be kept confidential through encryption. It is also working with the Department of Homeland Security and private-sector security experts to prevent cyber attacks. In addition, the agency is blocking foreign IP addresses and stopping bots from completing fake responses.It has also developed back-up systems.“All systems are go,” bureau Director Steven Dillingham said.In addition, there are concerns that the Census Bureau has not finalized its backup plans for the online questionnaire system. The bureau still has nearly 190 corrective actions for cybersecurity that are considered “high risk” or “very high risk,” the Government Accountability Office says.Last summer, the bureau’s Office of Inspector General identified weaknesses such as the inability for the Census Bureau to recover cloud-stored data in case of a large-scale attack or disaster.In Iowa, a new smartphone app was blamed for a delay in the reporting of results from the first presidential contests. Fewer than 200,000 voters chose a candidate.By contrast, the census will count residents in almost 130 million households with the assistance of 52 IT systems. That headcount is considered the largest peacetime operation the government has undertaken.An accurate count is important for determining how many congressional seats each state receives, as well as for the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending. Respondents who do not want to answer the online questionnaire will still have the option to complete it by telephone or by mailing in a paper form.The Census Bureau is prepared to distribute millions of paper forms in the event a catastrophe prevents people from responding online, according to officials.“We can recover data if we had a breach,” says Albert Fontenot, an associate director at the bureau. “At the worst case, we would send someone out to re-collect that data.”