The Internet Archive launched a campaign against technical regulation by creating Wayforward Machine, half-parodying its famous Wayback Machine archiving site.
The Wayforward machine colors photo on the Internet in 2046 – smeared with censorship, regulation, government intervention, etc.
When entering any well-known Wayforward Machine web address, the viewer is presented with a number of pop-ups – all of which suggest a nightmarish future in which government surveillance reigns supreme and privacy is highly bleak.
A visit to the BBC website displays a pop-up that reads, “The content of the site you’re trying to access is protected by Content Truth Gateway,” while trying to reach Google.com indicates that the Chocolate Factory has stopped it functions after it has been regulated out of existence – perhaps conceived as the only light at the end of the tunnel, not as a sign of a crushing defeat for freedom.
The site was launched in honor of the 25th anniversary of IA, exploring what the World Wide Web might look like after a quarter of a century. A lot Reg readers will remember those halted days of 1996 when Microsoft was tormented charges for violating competition laws, Google and Facebook do not exist, and social media as a concept revolves around Internet message boards – or IRC for technical skills.
We are the resistance!
In addition to the Wayforward machine, IA has published a schedule of things that could go wrong for the US side of the network, including canceling the Section 230 of the U.S. Communications Decency Act, which protects platform hosts and operators from legal liability for user-generated content.
The schedule is quite hysterical (excerpt: 2027: As a result of the new copyright laws, Wikipedia is facing countless lawsuits to make “copyrighted facts” freely available. It is forced to close all centralized networks, but the articles are still being written and available on the decentralized network “) in an attempt to convey a serious message of over-regulation causing harm to the WWW as we know it.
It also deviates from gloomier forecasts (“2030: Lower-income students at higher education prices”), which have less to do with Internet regulation, and ends at Crazy Max-note note: “2046: Prompted, Internet archive activists organize resistance.”
Internet regulation is a particularly topical issue at the moment. US calls to regulate technology companies have grown stronger in recent years, while in the UK the promised online security bill looks set to make internet use a much more uncertain experience thanks to mandatory age verification, which is a key barrier to the government campaign to regulate (mostly) US-based technology companies.
If all this isn’t depressing enough for you, IA has also created a Twitter account based in 2046 that makes Edgar Allan Poe’s work look like Mr. Bean’s annual. We will leave you to discover this for yourself, dear reader. ®