Should sections of the Environmental Protection Agency‘s website go the way of the civil rights and climate-change pages of the White House website–in other words, disappear–the agency is prepared. Even if Donald Trump takes the whole EPA site offline, a mirror copy of the website exists online, and it reflects the way the site looked the day before Donald Trump took power.
“The Web Snapshot consists of static content, such as web pages and reports in Portable Document Format (PDF), as that content appeared on EPA’s website as of January 19, 2017,” according to a statement on the mirror site. Live databases and large information sources are not mirrored, so if you want those, you should grab them from the regular EPA site right now; the mirror site provides links.
This move would have seemed paranoid just a month ago, but the Trump regime has already doctored the United States Department of Agriculture and Department of Education sites, and trimmed most of the Obama-era facts from the White House’s website.
The mechanism that brought about the mirror EPA site is an interesting one. When a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request is filed, the requested documents are sent to the person that asked for them (“documents” in this case can mean anything from papers to videos to websites). But if three or more people request the same documents, they have to be available to the general public. Apparently, quite a few people wanted to hold onto the pre-Trump EPA website, and thanks to this law, the EPA was forced to post the mirror site.
“The genius of this approach is that, because they were required by federal law to post the mirror site (because it’s a frequently requested record), it’s harder now to force it down,” Russ Kick, founder of the Memory Hole, told Gizmodo. The Memory Hole is a site that posts government documents that have been removed from the public web, including a section for “Trump Deletions.”
Even if preserving these government sites is relatively easy, it is troubling that they need to be protected from vandalism by the President and his team. Sites like the Internet Archive and the Memory Hole mean that the information stays online, and is all but impossible for the President to remove. But still, regular folks who might look to the government to find out about climate change, for instance, are unlikely to know that they now have to search the web for deleted and censored content. The current government is burning the truth candle from both ends–by creating a web of lies in the White House and by removing traces of truth from its official documents.