The is Endangered Data Week. Do you have at-risk data?

Endangered Data Week  April 17-21, 2017

  • Raising awareness of threats to publicly available data

  • Exploring the power dynamics of data creation, sharing, and retention

  • Teaching ways to make endangered data more accessible and secure


Political events in the United States have shed new light on the fragility of publicly administered data. In just the first few weeks of the Trump administration and 115th Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency was allegedly ordered to remove climate change information from its website, the USDA removed animal welfare data from its website, and the House passed H.Res.5, specifically excluding changes to the Affordable Care Act from mandatory long-term cost data analysis. The Senate and House of Representatives have both received proposed bills (S.103 and H.R.482) prohibiting funding from being used "to design, build, maintain, utilize, or provide access to a Federal database of geospatial information on community racial disparities or disparities in access to affordable housing." While researchers, archivists, librarians, and watchdog groups work hard to create and preserve open data, there's little guarantee that information under federal control will always survive changes to federal agencies.

Building on past work

Threats to open data aren't new, and archivists, librarians, and researchers have a long history of working to foster and preserve unfettered access to information. Events like Sunshine Week and Open Access Week highlight similar issues to the scholarly community and the press. The End of Term Web Archive project has functioned since 2008 to "capture and save US Government websites at the end of presidential administrations" as a collaboration between the Internet Archive, California Digital Library, University of North Texas Libraries, and Library of Congress, covering sites from all three branches of the federal government. However, since the November election, the urgency to address endangered datasets has been felt more deeply and by a larger community.

The most visible effort (and an Endangered Data Week partner) focuses on environmental data: #DataRescue/DataRefuge, a program spearheaded by the Penn Program in the Environmental Humanities Lab, University of Pennsylvania Libraries, and Project_ARCC. Contributors to this project are scrambling to ensure that crucial datasets on climate change and related issues are preserved for researchers now and into the future. Datasets are being added to ICPSR's DataLumos and DataRefuge as a supplement to federal agency servers. Meanwhile, censorship fears are driving the Internet Archive to pursue backup strategies outside the United States of America [...]

More information about DataRefuge: