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GCN : August and September 2016
[BrieFing] Three major issues facing the legal system from cop to court and every- where in between are link rot, when a link is no longer available (think error 404); reference rot, when a link works but goes to a different site than it did when cited; and deleted digital files. Even the very highest court is struggling with those issues. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan recently used a shortened Google link instead of the original link to an NBC story in a citation for a civil liberties case. Although some praised the shorter and more trackable link as an asset, critics said it gave Google too much power over how accessible a link to an important case might be, accord- ing to a report on Fortune. “You can’t assume sources on the web will be there even tomorrow, let alone five years from now,” said Charlotte Stichter, managing editor at the Law Library of Congress. She added that there are solutions to link rot, including the one the library is using called Perma.cc. It’s a free service that allows authors to archive legal documents and create permanent links to those documents. Link degradation is often an issue on the other end of the legal spec- trum when an arrest or legal situation might begin. Some police depart- ments are embracing public access to police bodycam and dashcam footage via sites like YouTube. The downside is that when a third party has control of the link, it could be taken down or changed by the company at any time, said Snowden Becker, program manager for Moving Image Archive Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles. “If a police department provides public access to dashcam or bodycam video recordings via a YouTube chan- nel (as the Seattle Police Department has done since early 2015) or other third-party site,” Becker said, “and then at some later point that third party closes down the channel or removes individual videos, any links to those videos that might have been in blogs, news stories or legal briefs would no longer work.” And although finding a way to achieve permanence seems like the obvious answer, it isn’t necessarily the best one. There is a legal right to privacy, she said, adding, “The longer you keep a recording, the greater the threat to privacy.” • What happens when the internet isn’t forever? BY SUZETTE LOHMEYER WIKIMEDIA.ORG 6 GCN AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2016 • GCN.COM Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan was criticized in some circles for using a shortened Google link in a civil liberties case citation. 0916gcn_006-008.indd 6 9/1/16 2:39 PM
June and July 2016
October and November 2016