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ICSTI: Re: Report on London Online - Removal of items from the Web

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <epc-l@iucr.org>
  • Subject: ICSTI: Re: Report on London Online - Removal of items from the Web
  • From: Pete Strickland <ps@iucr.org>
  • Date: Mon, 9 Dec 2002 14:47:05 GMT


----------  Forwarded Message  ----------

Subject: Re: Report on London Online - Removal of items from the Web
Date: Mon, 9 Dec 2002 08:33:41 -0500
From: "Molholm, Kurt" <KMolholm@DTIC.MIL>
To: ICSTI-L@DTIC.MIL

Colleagues regarding the Didaspearing Data artcle included in Barry's email
I can only speak for DTIC. Here's the story. The cited article states "The
Defense Department removed over 6,000 documents from its web site. The
Nuclear Regulatory Commission shut down its entire web site and brought it
back up again, scrubbed of anything considered potentially useful to
terrorists.According to ALA, the Department of  Energy has removed  9,000
scientific research papers from national labs that contain keywords such as
"nuclear" or "chemical" and "storage" and is reviewing them to see if they
pose security risks.
The Defense Technical Information Center has removed thousands of
documents."

First of all the Defense Technical Information Center and the Defense
Department actions were the same action. Last January, after the New York
Times published an article ststing you could buy germ warfare manuals from
DTIC (YOU CAN'T)I and a colleague from the Office of the Secretary of
Defense met with a staff member of the National Security Council and a staff
member of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (both office of the
Executive Office of the President). Most oif the documents cited in the New
York Tmes article were old, some over 40 years old and had been in the
publlic domain for years. What was decided,and applied to othe Federal
Government organizations (including the Department of Energy) was to search
our bibliographic files for documents that may now have again become
sensitive, immediately remove the citations and any online full-text
documents and make amore indethe analysis. Department of Energy did this by
using some broad terms. The Department of Defense (namely DTIC) pulled in
some technical area apecialiste in nuclear, chemical, biological, etc. and
refined our serch strategy. The result was we pulled 6600 citations form our
public online bibliography file so that DoD specialists could review the
full document in depth. Some of the citation also included full-text
documents. These were also removed. The plan was, and still is, to return
most of the docum,ents to the public files. DTIC still has over a million
citations to publicly available reports in our on line facility. As you can
see the 6600 documents temporarily removed (except for a small number) is a
veryt small percentage of our collection.

I hope this clarrifies.

Kurt

-----Original Message-----
From: Barry Mahon [mailto:mahons1@EIRCOM.NET]
Sent: Monday, December 09, 2002 4:42 AM
To: ICSTI-L@DTIC.MIL
Subject: Report on London Online - Removal of items from the Web


Hello All,

Just back from Online London, nice to see some of your there amd apologies
if I
missed others. In particular I missed Bonnie Lawlor the new Executive
Director of
NFAIS, good luck to her in her new post.

My general impression was that the show and conference had "reverted to
form"
following a number of years where we had a wide range of exhibitors and
speakers from areas alongside the information sector. This year there was
the
"usual suspects" and a few others, resulting in a more focussed affair.

I attended several sessions but the most interesting was that on scholarly
publication, which, as Sally Morris said 'didn't contain anything new' (from
the
viewpoint of thos already familiar with the topic) but did cover all the
ground and
showed that there is no doubt that there is fundamental change underway.
However, it is my view we will have a number of methodologies of scientific
information dissemination operating in parallel in the future, some paid
for, some
free.

On my return I found this item in my in-tray - it refers to items removed
from US
govt web sites in the interests of security. Since a number of ICSTI Member
Organisations are mentioned I reproduce it here in full:

DISAPPEARING DATA
by Marylaine Block

More than any other country, our government has made a wealth of information
available to citizens on the web. But the dark side of  web-based
information is
the ease with which it can be deleted. Government-sponsored (which is to
say,
taxpayer-funded) information  and research   is disappearing from government
web sites, much of it in the name of national security.

Chemical plant risk-management plans and airport safety data vanished from
the
Environmental Protection Administration's web site. The  Department of
Energy
removed environmental impact statements alerting local communities to
potential
dangers from nearby nuclear  energy plants, as well as and information on
the
transportation of hazardous materials.

The US Geological Service asked depository libraries to destroy a CD-ROM
database on surface water (and as a result, University of  Michigan
researchers
lost access to information vital to their three-year study of hazardous
waste
facilities  and community  activists could no longer access data on chemical
plants that violate pollution laws).  A database of unclassified technical
reports
has been removed from the Los Alamos National Laboratory Web site.

The Defense Department removed over 6,000 documents from its web site. The
Nuclear Regulatory Commission shut down its entire web site   and brought it
back up again, scrubbed of anything considered potentially useful to
terrorists.
According to ALA, the Department of  Energy has removed  9,000  scientific
research papers from national labs that contain keywords such as "nuclear"
or
"chemical" and "storage" and is reviewing them to see if they pose security
risks.
The Defense Technical Information Center has removed thousands of
documents.

But other information that has no relationship whatsoever with security
issues is
also vanishing, and there is some suspicion that an  ideology test is being
applied.  The Centers for Disease Control removed reports from its web site
on
the effectiveness of condoms in  AIDS prevention and on effective programs
for
the prevention of tobacco use, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases
among young  people. The National Cancer Institute  removed a report
debunking
the claim that abortions increase the risk of breast cancer. Health  and
Human
Services removed a research report that debunks the claim that abortions
increase the likelihood of developing breast  cancer, and the Department of
Education is, it says,  "reevaluating" hundreds of research reports
available on its
web site.

Furthermore, state governments are also removing data from public access.
Florida governor Jeb Bush signed measures closing public  access to
information
on hospital security plans and information on emergency stockpiles of
pharmaceuticals. Florida lawmakers have  also proposed restricting access to
information about cropdusters and about state investigations of food-borne
illnesses.   Massachusetts legislators want to restrict access to records
such as
blueprints for the state's bridges, tunnels and airports.  Michigan and
Tennessee
legislators are considering barring access to state emergency response
plans. In
Oklahoma, among the sensitive  materials legislators are considering
restricting
are the times of school board meetings and the location of high pressure gas
lines.

Now, it is possible to make an honorable case for all of these deletions of
public
information.  Maps revealing the location of gas  pipelines might very well
be
useful to terrorists, though it would be even more useful to potential
buyers of farm
land crossed by  those pipelines.  Information on safety flaws at chemical
plants
might indeed be useful to terrorists, but it would be even more  useful to
emergency workers in nearby communities. Educational and medical research
are always in need of updating, but then again,  the traditional way of
doing it is to
add new data rather than to erase the old.

The problem is that the previous presumption that publicly-funded
information
should be available to the public has been replaced by  the presumption that
government gets to decide whether people should have the information or not.

Gary Bass, of OMB Watch, a private group which monitors government spending
and legislation, says "We are moving from a right to know  to a need to know
society." Where former Freedom of Information Act policy put the burden on
the
federal agencies to justify  withholding  documents requested under FOIA,
Attorney General John Ashcroft's October 12, 2001 memo to federal agencies
instructed  them to avoid releasing documents until after conducting a full
review
of any possible security implications of the disclosure.

Isn't that convenient for government, given that the natural tendency for
government officials is toward secrecy?  And if you don't  believe that, see
the
Audits and Surveys of State Freedom of Information laws
<http://foi.missouri.edu/openrecseries.html>, which  reports on the project
by a
number of news agencies  to request public information from a variety of
agencies in 19 states; they were  repeatedly forbidden access -- in
Colorado, a
third of the time local agencies failed to comply with state public records
law, in
Connecticut only 22% of agencies complied,  in Maryland requesters had only
"a
one-in-four chance of immediately getting what they  are looking for."

September 11 has become a blanket excuse for governments to conduct their
business as they prefer to do -- in private, suppressing all  kinds of
information,
whether or not is has even the most tangential relation to national
security, and
without any regard to valid  public information needs.

Timothy Maier reports, in a story in the April 8 Insight Magazine, that
"even
résumés of senior government officials are being  censored in some
agencies...
When reporter Todd Carter obtained resumes of EPA political appointees to
post
on the Natural Resources  News Service Website
<http://www.publicedcenter.org>, the EPA directed him not to post them
because
of privacy concerns. The EPA then  sent another batch of résumés that
blacked
out education levels, awards, affiliations and even job experience. When
asked
for the  return of the unredacted résumés, Carter refused and posted résumés
on
the news-service Website showing that EPA had brought in  former Enron
employees"
<http://www.insightmag.com/main.cfm/include/detail/storyid/229694.html>.

More information will presumably disappear when some government agencies
cease to exist as their functions are folded into the new  Department of
Homeland
Security. Among the agencies slated for extinction are the US Immigration
and
Naturalization Service. Will  anybody in the reconstituted agency preserve
those
documents?  If not, I hope that the University of North Texas librarians who
operate a "CyberCemetery" of the documents of defunct government agencies
<http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/> will preserve these pages  as well

What's more, not only is there no government policy stipulating procedures
and
determinants for the deletion of data from government  web sites, no
government
agency, not even FirstGov.gov, can even tell you what has been deleted from
what
pages.

So who is keeping track  of deleted data? As you would expect, government
document librarians are monitoring the situation closely;  information on
deletions
and other threats to public information is available on the Government
Documents
Round Table web site <http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/GODORT/>. GODORT has
also created a Task Force on Permanent Public Access to Government
Information <http://tigger.uic.edu/~tfontno/publicaccessindex.html>.

Other concerned groups include OMBWatch <http://ombwatch.org/>, which
monitors the deletion of government web pages, and the  Federation of
American
Scientists, which maintains a Project on Government Secrecy
<http://www.fas.org/sgp/>.   The Project's  director, Steven Aftergood,
suggests
that what we need is an oversight panel to review deletion decisions so that
decisions to  withhold public information could not be made "by some
anonymous
agency official" without the possibility for the public to challenge  them."

It seems to me that GODORT is on the right track with its task force for
permanent
access to government documents, and there are  plenty of willing
organizations it
can partner with, but the job is too big for them.  There are just too many
web
documents to copy,  and thanks to OMB's dictum that federal agencies should
ignore the Government Printing Office, even finding them will be a major
challenge.

Librarians -- not just government documents librarians, but all of us -- are
going to
need to assume that information on government  web pages will disappear.
Just
as librarians have worked cooperatively to make sure that last copies of
printed
works are not  allowed to vanish, we will need to act cooperatively, and
quickly, to
preserve information temporarily stored on government web  pages.

Because it's not THEIR information, and we can't let them get away with
deleting
it.   We paid for it, and we need it, if we're to  have any hope of knowing
what our
government is doing. It's OUR information.  Since giving people access to
the
information their  taxes paid for has always been our job, librarians are
the ones
who are going to have to take on this challenge.

-------------------------------------------------------


-- 

Best wishes

Peter Strickland
Managing Editor
IUCr Journals

----------------------------------------------------------------------
IUCr Editorial Office, 5 Abbey Square, Chester CH1 2HU, England
Phone: 44 1244 342878   Fax: 44 1244 314888   Email: ps@iucr.org
Ftp: ftp.iucr.org   WWW: http://journals.iucr.org/

NEWSFLASH: Complete text of all IUCr journals back to 1948 
now online! Visit Crystallography Journals Online for more details
Title: RE: Report on London Online - Removal of items from the Web

Colleagues regarding the Didaspearing Data artcle included in Barry's email I can only speak for DTIC. Here's the story. The cited article states "The Defense Department removed over 6,000 documents from its web site. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission shut down its entire web site and brought it back up again, scrubbed of anything considered potentially useful to terrorists.According to ALA, the Department of  Energy has removed  9,000  scientific research papers from national labs that contain keywords such as "nuclear" or "chemical" and "storage" and is reviewing them to see if they pose security risks.

The Defense Technical Information Center has removed thousands of
documents."

First of all the Defense Technical Information Center and the Defense Department actions were the same action. Last January, after the New York Times published an article ststing you could buy germ warfare manuals from DTIC (YOU CAN'T)I and a colleague from the Office of the Secretary of Defense met with a staff member of the National Security Council and a staff member of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (both office of the Executive Office of the President). Most oif the documents cited in the New York Tmes article were old, some over 40 years old and had been in the publlic domain for years. What was decided,and applied to othe Federal Government organizations (including the Department of Energy) was to search our bibliographic files for documents that may now have again become sensitive, immediately remove the citations and any online full-text documents and make amore indethe analysis. Department of Energy did this by using some broad terms. The Department of Defense (namely DTIC) pulled in some technical area apecialiste in nuclear, chemical, biological, etc. and refined our serch strategy. The result was we pulled 6600 citations form our public online bibliography file so that DoD specialists could review the full document in depth. Some of the citation also included full-text documents. These were also removed. The plan was, and still is, to return most of the docum,ents to the public files. DTIC still has over a million citations to publicly available reports in our on line facility. As you can see the 6600 documents temporarily removed (except for a small number) is a veryt small percentage of our collection. 

I hope this clarrifies.

Kurt

-----Original Message-----
From: Barry Mahon [mailto:mahons1@EIRCOM.NET]
Sent: Monday, December 09, 2002 4:42 AM
To: ICSTI-L@DTIC.MIL
Subject: Report on London Online - Removal of items from the Web


Hello All,

Just back from Online London, nice to see some of your there amd apologies if I
missed others. In particular I missed Bonnie Lawlor the new Executive Director of
NFAIS, good luck to her in her new post.

My general impression was that the show and conference had "reverted to form"
following a number of years where we had a wide range of exhibitors and
speakers from areas alongside the information sector. This year there was the
"usual suspects" and a few others, resulting in a more focussed affair.

I attended several sessions but the most interesting was that on scholarly
publication, which, as Sally Morris said 'didn't contain anything new' (from the
viewpoint of thos already familiar with the topic) but did cover all the ground and
showed that there is no doubt that there is fundamental change underway.
However, it is my view we will have a number of methodologies of scientific
information dissemination operating in parallel in the future, some paid for, some
free.

On my return I found this item in my in-tray - it refers to items removed from US
govt web sites in the interests of security. Since a number of ICSTI Member
Organisations are mentioned I reproduce it here in full:

DISAPPEARING DATA
by Marylaine Block

More than any other country, our government has made a wealth of information
available to citizens on the web. But the dark side of  web-based information is
the ease with which it can be deleted. Government-sponsored (which is to say,
taxpayer-funded) information  and research   is disappearing from government
web sites, much of it in the name of national security.

Chemical plant risk-management plans and airport safety data vanished from the
Environmental Protection Administration's web site. The  Department of Energy
removed environmental impact statements alerting local communities to potential
dangers from nearby nuclear  energy plants, as well as and information on the
transportation of hazardous materials.

The US Geological Service asked depository libraries to destroy a CD-ROM
database on surface water (and as a result, University of  Michigan researchers
lost access to information vital to their three-year study of hazardous waste
facilities  and community  activists could no longer access data on chemical
plants that violate pollution laws).  A database of unclassified technical reports
has been removed from the Los Alamos National Laboratory Web site.

The Defense Department removed over 6,000 documents from its web site. The
Nuclear Regulatory Commission shut down its entire web site   and brought it
back up again, scrubbed of anything considered potentially useful to terrorists.
According to ALA, the Department of  Energy has removed  9,000  scientific
research papers from national labs that contain keywords such as "nuclear" or
"chemical" and "storage" and is reviewing them to see if they pose security risks.
The Defense Technical Information Center has removed thousands of
documents.

But other information that has no relationship whatsoever with security issues is
also vanishing, and there is some suspicion that an  ideology test is being
applied.  The Centers for Disease Control removed reports from its web site on
the effectiveness of condoms in  AIDS prevention and on effective programs for
the prevention of tobacco use, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases
among young  people. The National Cancer Institute  removed a report debunking
the claim that abortions increase the risk of breast cancer. Health  and Human
Services removed a research report that debunks the claim that abortions
increase the likelihood of developing breast  cancer, and the Department of
Education is, it says,  "reevaluating" hundreds of research reports available on its
web site.

Furthermore, state governments are also removing data from public access.
Florida governor Jeb Bush signed measures closing public  access to information
on hospital security plans and information on emergency stockpiles of
pharmaceuticals. Florida lawmakers have  also proposed restricting access to
information about cropdusters and about state investigations of food-borne
illnesses.   Massachusetts legislators want to restrict access to records such as
blueprints for the state's bridges, tunnels and airports.  Michigan and Tennessee
legislators are considering barring access to state emergency response plans. In
Oklahoma, among the sensitive  materials legislators are considering restricting
are the times of school board meetings and the location of high pressure gas
lines.

Now, it is possible to make an honorable case for all of these deletions of public
information.  Maps revealing the location of gas  pipelines might very well be
useful to terrorists, though it would be even more useful to potential buyers of farm
land crossed by  those pipelines.  Information on safety flaws at chemical plants
might indeed be useful to terrorists, but it would be even more  useful to
emergency workers in nearby communities. Educational and medical research
are always in need of updating, but then again,  the traditional way of doing it is to
add new data rather than to erase the old.

The problem is that the previous presumption that publicly-funded information
should be available to the public has been replaced by  the presumption that
government gets to decide whether people should have the information or not.

Gary Bass, of OMB Watch, a private group which monitors government spending
and legislation, says "We are moving from a right to know  to a need to know
society." Where former Freedom of Information Act policy put the burden on the
federal agencies to justify  withholding  documents requested under FOIA,
Attorney General John Ashcroft's October 12, 2001 memo to federal agencies
instructed  them to avoid releasing documents until after conducting a full review
of any possible security implications of the disclosure.

Isn't that convenient for government, given that the natural tendency for
government officials is toward secrecy?  And if you don't  believe that, see the
Audits and Surveys of State Freedom of Information laws
<http://foi.missouri.edu/openrecseries.html>, which  reports on the project by a
number of news agencies  to request public information from a variety of
agencies in 19 states; they were  repeatedly forbidden access -- in Colorado, a
third of the time local agencies failed to comply with state public records law, in
Connecticut only 22% of agencies complied,  in Maryland requesters had only "a
one-in-four chance of immediately getting what they  are looking for."

September 11 has become a blanket excuse for governments to conduct their
business as they prefer to do -- in private, suppressing all  kinds of information,
whether or not is has even the most tangential relation to national security, and
without any regard to valid  public information needs.

Timothy Maier reports, in a story in the April 8 Insight Magazine, that "even
résumés of senior government officials are being  censored in some agencies...
When reporter Todd Carter obtained resumes of EPA political appointees to post
on the Natural Resources  News Service Website
<http://www.publicedcenter.org>, the EPA directed him not to post them because
of privacy concerns. The EPA then  sent another batch of résumés that blacked
out education levels, awards, affiliations and even job experience. When asked
for the  return of the unredacted résumés, Carter refused and posted résumés on
the news-service Website showing that EPA had brought in  former Enron
employees"
<http://www.insightmag.com/main.cfm/include/detail/storyid/229694.html>.

More information will presumably disappear when some government agencies
cease to exist as their functions are folded into the new  Department of Homeland
Security. Among the agencies slated for extinction are the US Immigration and
Naturalization Service. Will  anybody in the reconstituted agency preserve those
documents?  If not, I hope that the University of North Texas librarians who
operate a "CyberCemetery" of the documents of defunct government agencies
<http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/> will preserve these pages  as well

What's more, not only is there no government policy stipulating procedures and
determinants for the deletion of data from government  web sites, no government
agency, not even FirstGov.gov, can even tell you what has been deleted from what
pages.

So who is keeping track  of deleted data? As you would expect, government
document librarians are monitoring the situation closely;  information on deletions
and other threats to public information is available on the Government Documents
Round Table web site <http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/GODORT/>. GODORT has
also created a Task Force on Permanent Public Access to Government
Information <http://tigger.uic.edu/~tfontno/publicaccessindex.html>.

Other concerned groups include OMBWatch <http://ombwatch.org/>, which
monitors the deletion of government web pages, and the  Federation of American
Scientists, which maintains a Project on Government Secrecy
<http://www.fas.org/sgp/>.   The Project's  director, Steven Aftergood, suggests
that what we need is an oversight panel to review deletion decisions so that
decisions to  withhold public information could not be made "by some anonymous
agency official" without the possibility for the public to challenge  them."

It seems to me that GODORT is on the right track with its task force for permanent
access to government documents, and there are  plenty of willing organizations it
can partner with, but the job is too big for them.  There are just too many web
documents to copy,  and thanks to OMB's dictum that federal agencies should
ignore the Government Printing Office, even finding them will be a major
challenge.

Librarians -- not just government documents librarians, but all of us -- are going to
need to assume that information on government  web pages will disappear.  Just
as librarians have worked cooperatively to make sure that last copies of printed
works are not  allowed to vanish, we will need to act cooperatively, and quickly, to
preserve information temporarily stored on government web  pages.

Because it's not THEIR information, and we can't let them get away with deleting
it.   We paid for it, and we need it, if we're to  have any hope of knowing what our
government is doing. It's OUR information.  Since giving people access to the
information their  taxes paid for has always been our job, librarians are the ones
who are going to have to take on this challenge.


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