Internet Archive launches campaign against web regulation • The Register


The Internet Archive has launched a campaign against technology regulation by setting up a Wayforward Machine, semi-parodying its famous Wayback Machine archiving site.

The Wayforward Machine paints a picture of the internet in 2046 – marred by censorship, regulation, government interference, and more.

Typing any well-known web address into the Wayforward Machine, the viewer is presented with a number of pop-ups – all of which suggest a nightmarish future where government surveillance reigns supreme and privacy is strongly frowned upon.

Visiting the BBC website brings up a pop-up window that says: “The content of the site you are trying to access is protected by the Content Truth Gateway”, while the attempt to access shows that the chocolate factory ceased to operate after being regulated. existence – perhaps conceived as the only light at the end of the tunnel rather than a sign of a crushing defeat for freedom.

The Internet Archive Wayforward Machine, on the Google home page

Wayforward Machine from the Internet Archive, on the Google home page. Click to enlarge

The site was launched to mark the 25th anniversary of AI, exploring what the World Wide Web could look like in a quarter of a century. Numerous Reg readers will remember those heyday of 1996 when Microsoft was reeling over charges of breaching competition laws, Google was a word in a dictionary few had heard of, Facebook didn’t exist and the media social as a concept revolved around message boards – or IRC for the tech-savvy person.

We are the resistance!

In addition to the Wayforward Machine, AI has also released a timeline of things that could go wrong for the U.S. side of the web, including the repeal of Section 230 of the U.S. Communications Decency Act, which protects hosts and platform operators to be legally responsible. for user-generated content.

The timeline is quite hysterical (example: “2027: In the wake of new copyright laws, Wikipedia faces a myriad of lawsuits for making ‘copyrighted facts’ freely available. He is forced to shut down all centralized networks, but articles are still written and accessible on the decentralized web “) in his attempt to send a serious message about over-regulation causing damage to the WWW as we know it.

It is also moving towards darker predictions (“2030: Low-income students are excluded from higher education”) which have less to do with Internet regulation, and ends on the Mad Max-esque note: “2046: Driven underground, Internet Archive activists organize resistance.”

Internet regulation is a particularly hot topic at this time. US calls to regulate tech companies have grown louder in recent years while in the UK the promised online safety bill seems certain to make using the internet a great experience. more precarious thanks to the compulsory age verification, which is one of the main thrusts of the government campaign. to regulate (primarily) US-based technology companies.

If all that isn’t depressing enough for you, the AI ​​has also created a 2046-based Twitter account that makes Edgar Allan Poe’s work look like the Mr Bean Annual. We leave it to you to find out for yourself, dear reader. ®

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