November 17, 2017

Internet Filters Block Wayback Machine

By LJ Staff

The vast Wayback Machine, an
ingenious service to Internet users, provides snapshots of past iterations of
current web sites as well as sites that no longer exist. However, as activist Seth Finkelstein
discovered
, various Internet filter programs (or, as some call it,
“censorware”) block access to the archive. “So a censorware program has a deep
problem in determining whether the pages are to be prohibited or permitted,
since all material originates from the site of the digital library,” writes
Finkelstein. “This forces an all-or-nothing dilemma. If this archive were not
banned, completely, it might be a possible way to evade censorware (by looking
up forbidden material).” Indeed, the Wayback Machine does provide access to sex
sites and other material that would be blocked by filters. However, there is
much more there, leading Finkelstein to condemn “the deliberate electronic
book-burning of a unique, unparalleled, digital library.”

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