Gov404: The Web Integrity Project’s Censorship Tracker aggregates and verifies examples of the most significant cases of online information censorship on the federal Web since November 2016. The cases come from reporting by the Web Integrity Project (WIP) team, the news media, and other accountability organizations.
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More about the Tracker

Gov404 includes changes to or removals of website resources that substantially reduce access to content which is relevant to website users or which reflects agency policy. To be included, a change must amount to more than language alterations. For more information about what the Tracker includes and to find out how to use Gov404 and the classification visit the Tracker’s about page. For more information about the Web Integrity Project, visit our website. Our classification system is available here.

Detailed Description of Changes

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1. Overhaul of HealthCare.gov’s “Apply for Health Insurance” webpage

Summary of findings and context: Between November 14 and November 21, 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services overhauled HealthCare.gov’s “Apply for Health Insurance” page by changing the page’s format and altering a list of ways to apply for health insurance. This change, which occurred midway through the open enrollment period, removed information on how to apply by phone or by mail and added a link that leads to the “Help on Demand” website, a third-party, non-governmental consumer assistance referral system.

For details see: Rachel Bergman: In Overhaul of HealthCare.gov Webpage, Information About Ways to Apply is Gone (December 11, 2018) and Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Overhaul of HealthCare.gov’s “Apply for Health Insurance” Webpage (December 10, 2018).

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2. Removal of OPM guidance regarding the employment of transgender individuals in the federal workplace

This Tracker item was last updated: February 24, 2019.

Summary of findings and context: In late 2018, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) removed its “Guidance Regarding the Employment of Transgender Individuals in the Federal Workplace” page (Key Webpage #1) from its website. The page now leads to a 404 (page not found) error. A new page titled “Guidance Regarding Non-Discriminatory Practices in Federal Employment” (Key Webpage #2) was added to the OPM website around the same time. The new guidance page is completely different from the removed page, as it does not pertain to transgender employees specifically, but workplace discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 generally.

Classification of change:

  • 5. Removing an entire webpage or document
    • (a) The previous URL leads to a “dead” page, a 404 error, or a 403 error.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between October 8, 2018 and November 28, 2018, OPM removed the “Guidance Regarding the Employment of Transgender Individuals in the Federal Workplace” page (Key Webpage #1) from its website.
  2. By November 28, 2018, the “Guidance Regarding Non-Discriminatory Practices in Federal Employment” page (Key Webpage #2) was added to OPM’s website.
  1. Between November 28, 2018 and December 8, 2018 the “Diversity & Inclusion Reference Material” page of OPM’s website was altered.
  1. A partial public Web archive of the Office of Personnel website, captured in 2013, is available at https://archive.opm.gov/index.asp. The archive does not contain pages in the diversity and inclusion section of the website. No public Web archive contains the diversity and inclusion pages discussed here.

Key Webpages

1. Page title: Guidance Regarding the Employment of Transgender Individuals in the Federal Workplace

2. Page title: Guidance Regarding Non-Discriminatory Practices in Federal Employment

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3. Removal of “Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse,” “Overview of Climate Change,” and “Climate Change Impacts” pages from U.S. Department of Transportation website

This Tracker item was last updated: February 24, 2019.

Summary of findings and context: Between October 3, 2018 and October 4, 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation removed three pages related to climate change titled “Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse,” “Overview of Climate Change,” and “Climate Change Impacts.” The pages contained information on transportation and greenhouse gas emissions, an overview of climate change science, and the potential impacts of climate change on transport.

For later removals of the new “Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse” website see:

Classification of change:

  • 5. Removing an entire webpage or document
    • (a) The previous URL leads to a “dead” page, a 404 error, or a 403 error.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between October 3, 2018 and October 4, 2018, the Department of Transportation removed the “Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse” page (Key Webpage #1) from its website.
  1. Between October 3, 2018 and October 4, 2018, the Department of Transportation removed the “Overview of Climate Change” page (Key Webpage #2) from its website.
  1. Between October 3, 2018 and October 4, 2018, the Department of Transportation removed the “Climate Change Impacts” page (Key Webpage #3) from its website.
  1. No public Web archive is available for the U.S. Department of Transportation website. An archived version of the “Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse” page is available from the Federal Depository Library Program Web Archive as part of the U.S. Department of Interior – Indian Affairs collection.

Key Webpages

1. Page title: Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse

2. Page title: Overview of Climate Change

3. Page title: Climate Change Impacts

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4. Removal of the “Marketplace Outreach: Best Practices for Outreach to Latino Communities” PDF from CMS’s Health Insurance Marketplace website

Summary of findings and context: In September 2018, a PDF titled “Marketplace Outreach: Best Practices for Outreach to Latino Communities” was removed from the Health Insurance Marketplace website, a subdomain of CMS.gov. Links and text corresponding to the PDF were also removed from the website’s “Training for navigators, agents, brokers, and other assisters” and “Special populations” webpages.

For details see: Rachel Bergman: CMS removes PDF used to train assisters in providing healthcare outreach to Latino communities (December 6, 2018) and Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Removal of the “Marketplace Outreach: Best Practices for Outreach to Latino Communities” PDF from CMS’s Health Insurance Marketplace Website (December 4, 2018).

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5. Move and alteration of State Department passport gender marker webpage

This Tracker item was last updated: February 24, 2019.

Summary of findings and context: In September 2018, the Department of State moved and altered content relating to gender designation on passports. By September 11, 2018, the Department of State had moved content from the “Gender Designation” page (Key Webpage #1) to a new page, the “Sex Designation Change” page (Key Webpage #2), at a new URL. After the media highlighted the use of the outdated term “sex change” on the “Sex Designation Change” page, the content was moved again, to a new URL and page called “Change of Sex Marker” (Key Webpage #3). Some of the content from the original “Gender Designation” page was changed, including that references to “gender” were changed to “sex”.

Classification of change:

  • 1. Altering or removing text and non-text content
    • (a) Change or removal of text snippets (word(s), sentence(s), title(s), link text).
  • 3. Moving an entire webpage or collection of webpages or establishing redirects
    • (a)(i) Moving a page or collection of pages to a new URL or URLs without a redirect from the previous URL or URLs. The previous URL or URLs lead to a “dead” page, a 404 error, or a 403 error.
  • 3. Moving an entire webpage or collection of webpages or establishing redirects
    • (c)(i) Moving a page or collection of pages to a new URL or URLs with a redirect from the previous URL or URLs. The redirect is established from each individual previous URL to a separate page.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between September 10, 2018 and September 13, 2018, the State Department removed the “Gender Designation Change” page (Key Webpage #1) from the U.S. Passports section of its website.
  1. By September 11, 2018, the State Department had moved and edited the content from the “Gender Designation Change” page to a new page titled “Sex Designation Change” (Key Webpage #2).
    • The “Sex Designation Change” page had the URL https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/sex-designation-change.html
    • The “Sex Designation Change” page contained almost all the content from the “Gender Designation Change” page, with notable edits including:
      • Changing most of the references to “gender” to “sex”, including changing the heading of a table from “Status of Gender Transition” to “Status of Sex Change or Transition.”
      • Altering the answer to the FAQ “If I identify neither as male or female, can I have a passport issued with a different gender?”
      • The “Sex Designation Change” page was removed by September 13, 2018, with its URL returning a 404 error.
  1. By September 13, 2018 the State Department had moved and edited the content from the “Sex Designation Change” page to a new page titled “Change of Sex Marker” (Key Webpage #3).
  1. Partial public Web archives of the Department of State website are available for previous administrations dating back to the Clinton administration. The Obama administration archive, available at https://2009-2017.state.gov/, but does not include pages from the Passports section of the website.

Key Webpages

1. Page title: Gender Designation Change

2. Page title: Sex Designation Change

3. Page title: Change of Sex Marker

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6. Removal of the National Guideline Clearinghouse from HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Website

Summary of findings and context: In July 2018, HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) removed its National Guideline Clearinghouse and National Quality Measures Clearinghouse websites. AHRQ had given notice of these changes starting in April or May 2018, stating that the websites “will not be available after July 16, 2018.”

For details see: Jon Campbell: HHS to Shut Down Public Medical Guideline Database, Go-to for Physicians (July 12, 2018) and Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Notice of Removal on HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Clearinghouse Websites (July 12, 2018).

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7. Removal of document related to a proposed rule on general service lamps from the Department of Energy Website

This Tracker item was last updated: February 24, 2019

Summary of findings and context: Between July 1, 2018 and July 30, 2018, the Department of Energy website was reportedly altered. A link on the “Categorical Exclusion (CX) Determinations” page (Key Webpage #1) that led to the “Proposed Rule Withdrawing Definition of General Service Lamps” page was reportedly removed. The URL of the “Proposed Rule Withdrawing Definition of General Service Lamps” page (Key Webpage #2) now returns a 404 error.

Note: Neither page was archived in its original state by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

The removal of the “Proposed Rule Withdrawing Definition of General Service Lamps” document (Key Webpage #2) was initially reported on the Appliance Standards Awareness Project blog. The author of that post identified Key Webpage #1 as hosting a link to Key Webpage #2.

Classification of change:

  • 5. Removing an entire webpage or document
    • (a) The previous URL leads to a “dead” page, a 404 error, or a 403 error.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between July 1, 2018, and July 30, 2018, the “Categorical Exclusion (CX) Determinations” page (Key Webpage #1) at the URL https://www.energy.gov/nepa/nepa-documents/categorical-exclusion-cx-determinations on the Department of Energy Website was reportedly altered.
  2. A link on that page that led to the “Proposed Rule Withdrawing Definition of General Service Lamps” page (Key Webpage #2) at the URL https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2018/07/f53/101138.pdf. That URL now leads to a 404-error page.

Note: Neither page was archived in its original state by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

  1. A copy of Key Webpage #2 is preserved on a third-party site at the URL https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4639609-2018-GSL-SNOPR-Categorical-Exclusion.html
  2. No federal archive has been identified or either Key Webpage #1 or Key Webpage #2.

Key Webpages

1. Page title: Categorical Exclusion (CX) Determinations

2. Page title: Proposed Rule Withdrawing Definition of General Service Lamps

Note: A copy of the page has been preserved on a third party site at URL https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4639609-2018-GSL-SNOPR-Categorical-Exclusion.html.

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8. Removal of U.S. Geological Survey Communications Policy from DOI.gov

This Tracker item was last updated: February 24, 2019.

Summary of findings and context: Between June 21, 2018 and June 22, 2018, the Department of the Interior (DOI) reportedly removed “Department of Interior Department Manual” page (Key Webpage #1) from its website. The original URL redirects to a “Library” page. Key Webpage #1 contained policy guidance for U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) personnel describing parameters for speaking to the media. The removal followed reporting by the Los Angeles Times that described a shift in media policy under the Trump administration. The removal was documented in a blog post from the Union of Concerned Scientists. The policy guidance document was later reposted at a different URL on DOI’s site.

Note: Key Webpage #1 was not archived in its original state by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

Classification of change:

  • 5. Removing an entire webpage or document
    • (a) The previous URL leads to a “dead” page, a 404 error, or a 403 error.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

  • Advance public notice: No
  • Acknowledgment of change: No known inquiry.

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between June 21, 2018 and June 22, 2018, the “Department of Interior Department Manual” page (Key Webpage #1) at the URL https://elips.doi.gov/elips/DocView.aspx?id=3037&searchid=1bfe3037-f260- 4550-8f31-ed8a8f99db74&dbid=0 was reportedly removed from the Department of the Interior website, and currently redirects to a “Library” page.

Note: This page was not archived by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

  1. The removal was initially documented in a blog post from the Union of Concerned Scientists, available at the URL https://blog.ucsusa.org/michael-halpern/department-of-interior-buries-communications-policy-after-attempting-to-justify-muzzling-scientists and further via communication with the blog post’s author. The removal followed reporting by the Los Angeles Times, available at the URL http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-trump-policy-usgs-scientists-20180621-story.html.
  2. The removed page was later reposted at the URL https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/elips/documents/Chapter%201_%20%20GENERAL%20POLICY%20AND%20PROCEDURES.doc.

Key Webpage

1. Page title: Department of Interior Department Manual

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9. Removal of the Affordable Care Act website from within Medicaid.gov

Summary of findings and context: CMS removed all fourteen pages of the “Affordable Care Act” website from Medicaid.gov. The website contained information about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and changes to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program resulting from the ACA. CMS also removed the prominent “Affordable Care Act” dropdown menu, which linked to the removed pages, from Medicaid.gov.

For details see: Rachel Bergman: 14-Page Affordable Care Act Website Removed from Medicaid.gov (July 12, 2018) and Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Removal of the Affordable Care Act Website from within Medicaid.gov (July 10, 2018).

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10. Removal of text and resources from the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women website

This Tracker item was last updated: February 24, 2019.

Summary of findings and context: The Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women made two sets of changes to its website. In April 2018, it replaced sections defining “domestic violence” and “sexual assault” with new definitions on its “Domestic Violence” (Key Webpage #1) and “Sexual Assault (Key Webpage #2) pages. Between December 2018 and February 2019, the office removed links to six “stalking response tips” resources from its “Stalking” page (Key Webpage #3).

Classification of change:

  • 1. Altering or removing text and non-text content
    • (a) Change or removal of text snippets (word(s), sentence(s), title(s), link text).
  • 2. Altering or removing links
    • (c) Removing a link or links to a page that has not been permanently removed or has not been removed at all.
  • 4. Altering or removing an entire pertinent section of a webpage or collection of webpages
    • (a) A section of a single webpage is altered or removed.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between April 9, 2018 and April 14, 2018, the Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women replaced a section on the “Domestic Violence” page (Key Webpage #1) of its website.
    • The “Domestic Violence” page has the URL https:/www.justice.gov/ovw/domestic-violence.
    • The text in the “What is Domestic Violence?” section was removed and replaced with new text that included a changed definition of domestic violence.
  1. Between April 5, 2018 and April 14, 2018, the Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women replaced a section on the “Sexual Assault” page (Key Webpage #2) of its website.
  1. Between December 3, 2018 and February 6, 2019, the Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women removed a section called “Stalking Response Tips” and links to six resources from its “Stalking” page (Key Webpage #3) of its website.
  1. The Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women maintains a partial website archive at https://www.justice.gov/archives/ovw/office-violence-against-women-archive. None of the pages documented here are in that archive.

Key Webpages

1. Page title: Domestic Violence

2. Page title: Sexual Assault

3. Page title: Stalking

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11. Removal of pages and content related to Sage Grouse Conservation from BLM websites

Summary of findings and context: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) removed content from its website related to existing conservation efforts for the Greater Sage-Grouse in the spring and summer 2018, directly before, during, and shortly after a public comment period for proposed amendments to sage grouse conservation plans. These removals include the removal of the “Top 5 Things You Should Know About Greater Sage-Grouse” page and nine state factsheets, URLs for which now lead to 404 errors.

For details see: Environmental Data & Governance Initiative Website Monitoring Report: Reduction in Access to Sage Grouse Conservation Information and Resources on BLM Websites (December 18, 2018).

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12. Removal of Access to Navy Safety Data

This Tracker item was last updated: February 24, 2019.

Summary of findings and context: Between January 22, 2018 and March 18, 2018, the Navy removed links and pages leading to statistical information on aviation mishaps and safety from the “Naval Safety Center – Data Management” page (Key Webpage #1) on the navy.mil domain. Public access to this information has been reduced and the information is now behind a secure part of the site that requires a “DoD Common Access Card (CAD),” an identification card issued only to armed forces personnel and eligible contractors.

Classification of change:

  • 1. Altering or removing text and non-text content
    • (a) Change or removal of text snippets (word(s), sentence(s), title(s), link text).
  • 1. Altering or removing text and non-text content
    • (b) Change or removal of image, graphic, video, or other visual element.
  • 2. Altering or removing links
    • (c) Removing a link or links to a page that has not been permanently removed or has not been removed at all.
  • 5. Removing an entire webpage or document
    • (d) The previous URL leads to a page that requests authorization credentials to access the content.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between January 22, 2018 and March 18, 2018, links and pages leading to statistical information on aviation mishaps and safety were removed from the “Naval Safety Center – Data Management” page (Key Webpage #1).

Note: Links to the last Internet Archive Wayback Machine snapshots before the pages were removed are included in parentheses.

        • Aviation Daily Summary (10/25/17)
        • Aviation Class A Mishap Chart (3/28/18)
        • Holiday Fatalities (2/17/17)
        • How Goes It (1/26/17)
        • Operations Research Projects (12/28/16)
        • Seasonal Off-Duty Fatality Slides (9/23/16)
        • Summer Season Fatalities Detailed (2/16/17)
          • As of February 24, 2019, all pages listed above had been removed, and return 404 errors.
      • Links to the following pages were removed from the body of the page (links to previous Internet Archive Wayback Machine snapshot in parentheses):
      • Added text: “Note: For further statistical information, visit NAVSAFECEN’s Common Access Card (CAC) site. A CAC and a one-time account registration are required for access.”
  1. Around the same time, public access to all but one of the eight pages linked from “Class A Mishap Statistics” page was removed.
    • Inaccessible pages included (links to previous Internet Archive Wayback Machine snapshot in parentheses):

Note: Links to the last Internet Archive Wayback Machine snapshot before access to the pages was removed are included in parentheses.

    • One page that was linked to from the “Class A Mishaps Statistics” page, titled “Aviation Stats,” remained live until after April 3, 2018.
    • As of February 24, 2019, all eight pages had been removed, and return 404 errors.
    1. According to comment from Department of Defense in October 2018, the pages linked were not removed, but access limited to users with a NAVSAFECEN’s Common Access Card (CAC).
    2. No federal Web archive is publicly available for the pages.

Key Webpages

1. Page title: Naval Safety Center – Data Management

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13. Removal of the “Affordable Care Act & Medicare” webpage and corresponding links from the Medicare website

Summary of findings and context: In December 2017, CMS removed a page titled “The Affordable Care Act & Medicare” from the Medicare website. “The Affordable Care Act & Medicare” page previously linked to HealthCare.gov, which is the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, and to another webpage on the Medicare domain called “Medicare & the Marketplace.” A link that led to “The Affordable Care Act & Medicare” page and descriptive text about the Affordable Care Act were also removed from the website’s “About Us” page, orphaning the “Medicare & the Marketplace” page.

For details see: Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Removal of the “Affordable Care Act & Medicare” webpage and corresponding links from the Medicare website (May 15, 2018) and Rachel Bergman: Affordable Care Act page quietly removed from Medicare website (May 17, 2018).

Note: Since the publication of the Web Integrity Project’s report about this change, the “Medicare & the Marketplace” page (Webpage 3 in the report) has been moved. In September 2018, the “Medicare & the Marketplace” page was moved from the URL https://www.medicare.gov/about-us/affordable-care-act/medicare-and-the-marketplace.htm to a new URL at https://www.medicare.gov/about-us/medicare-the-marketplace.

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14. Removal of content from the U.S. Department of Education “Resources for Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Students

This Tracker item was last updated: February 25, 2019.

Summary of findings and context: Between November 14, 2017, and February 19, 2018, the “Resources for Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Students” page (Key Webpage #1) on the Department of Education’s website was altered to remove links to some court documents, including resolutions to seven federal civil rights complaints and three federal court filings. These documents, which are still live, focus on transgender student rights, including equal access to bathrooms and other facilities. Text referencing Title IX protections for transgender and gender nonconforming students was removed from the introductory paragraph, and the title of the webpage was altered to remove mention of the terms “Transgender” and “Gender-Nonconforming.” An Education Department spokesperson told Politico that this reduction in access reflected the rescission of a transgender student rights directive from the Obama administration.

Classification of change:

  • 1. Altering or removing text and non-text content
    • (a) Change or removal of text snippets (word(s), sentence(s), title(s), link text).
  • 2. Altering or removing links
    • (c) Removing a link or links to a page that has not been permanently removed or has not been removed at all.
  • 4. Altering or removing an entire pertinent section of a webpage or collection of webpages
    • (a) A section of a single webpage is altered or removed.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

  • Advance public notice: No
  • Acknowledgment of change: Corroborated. See statement from Education Department spokesperson to Politico.

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between November 14, 2017 and February 19, 2018, the “Resources for Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Students” page (Key Webpage #1) was altered.
    • The title of webpage was altered from “Resources for Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Students” to “Resources for LGBTQ Students.” (The page title remains unchanged in the page’s “title” tag metadata.)
    • Introductory text was altered to remove mentions of sex discrimination protections for transgender and gender-nonconforming students under Title IX, including the removal of the text: “Once a school is notified that a student will begin asserting a gender identity that differs from previous representations or records, the school must begin treating the student consistent with the student’s gender identity. When a school provides sex-segregated activities or facilities, transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity.”
    • Removed seven bullet points, containing links and text under the “OCR Case Resolutions” section, including:
      • Dorchester County School District (SC) (11-15-1348): Resolution Agreement and Resolution Letter (Both links lead to currently live PDFs. Links to two sets of similar court documents were not removed.)
    • Removed three bullet points, containing links and text under the “Court Filings—Statements of Interest and Amicus Curiae Briefs” section, including:
  1. No federal Web archive is publicly available for the “Resources for Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Students” page.

Key Webpages

1. Page title: Resources for Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Students

Screenshot Resources-for-Transgender-and-Gender-Nonconforming-Students

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15. Removal of EPA’s “International Cooperation” pages about grants and cooperative agreements and priorities

Summary of findings and context: The EPA removed the “International Grants and Cooperative Agreements” page and the “International Priorities” page from its “International Priorities” website. The EPA also removed a priorities section on the “International Cooperation” landing page linking to various parts of the “International Priorities” page. The pages provided information on international grants, agreements, and priorities on cross-national environmental issues.

For details see: Environmental Data & Governance Initiative Website Monitoring Report: Removal of EPA’s “International Priorities” and “International Grants and Cooperative Agreements” pages, as well as corresponding links, from the International Cooperation Website (April 23, 2018).

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16. Removal of WhiteHouse.gov’s “1600 Daily” Archive

Summary of findings and context: The White House removed the “1600 Daily” newsletter archive from its website and is no longer storing past posts on WhiteHouse.gov. The removal coincided with an overhaul of the style and organization of the White House’s website, which occurred in mid-December 2017. URLs for “1600 Daily” post from before the overhaul lead to a notice stating that the “page cannot be found.”

For details see: Andrew Bergman: White House Takes Down Archive of Daily Newsletter from Website without Notice (September 13, 2018) and Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Removal of WhiteHouse.gov’s “1600 Daily” Archive (September 11, 2018).

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17. Removal of newsletter condemning white supremacy from the Department of Veterans Affairs website

This Tracker item was last updated: February 25, 2019.

Summary of findings and context: The September 2017 issue of the Department of Veterans Affairs newsletter was reportedly removed from the agency’s website sometime before December 6, 2017. According to a report from the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), the newsletter was initially published on the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s “Diversity@Work Newsletter” archive page (Key Webpage #1), and contained a statement from Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diversity and Inclusion Georgia Coffey condemning white supremacist demonstrators in Charlottesville, VA. POGO obtained a copy of the removed September 2017 newsletter. The “Diversity@Work Newsletter” archive contains newsletters for every month since November 2009, except for September of 2017 corresponding with the reported removal (see page on October 22, 2018). Due to gaps in archiving by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, this report stub will not seek to verify that the newsletter was previously published on that page.

Classification of change:

  • 5. Removing an entire webpage or document
    • (a) The previous URL leads to a “dead” page, a 404 error, or a 403 error.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Before December 6, 2017, the “Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Diversity@Work Newsletter” archive page (Key Webpage #1) at the URL https://www.diversity.va.gov/products/daw.aspx was reportedly altered to remove a link to the September, 2017 edition of the “Diversity@Work” newsletter.
  2. That newsletter was obtained by POGO and is available at a third party site at the URL https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4316201/September-2017-Diversity-Work-Newsletter.pdf

Note: No URL hosting the newsletter on the VA website has been identified. Based on the naming convention of all of the newsletters on Key Webpage #1, the URL of the removed newsletter would be https://www.diversity.va.gov/products/files/DAW/v16i12.pdf. This URL leads to an error.

  1. No federal Web archive storing the unaltered “Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Diversity@Work Newsletter” archive page nor the removed newsletter has been identified.

Key Webpages

1. Page title: Diversity@Work Newsletter

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18. FOIA records removed from Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General webpage

Summary of findings and context: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General removed two documents from the page on its website that lists frequently requested Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) records. The removed records detailed hundreds of misconduct allegations involving DHS employees.

For details see: Toly Rinberg and Andrew Bergman: How Federal Agencies are Quietly Removing Government Web Resources, and Why it Matters (November 15, 2017).

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19. Removal of a Treasury report on corporate taxes

Summary of findings and context: In 2017, the U.S. Department of Treasury removed a 2012 paper on corporate taxes, titled “Distributing the Corporate Income Tax: Revised U.S. Treasury Methodology,” from its Office of Tax Analysis website. Between July 6, 2017 and September 29, 2017, a link and reference to the report was removed from the OTA “Technical Papers” page. Between May 22, 2017 and September 3, 2017, the report was removed from public access, and the URL now requires a Department of Treasury login to access.

For details see: Toly Rinberg and Andrew Bergman: How Federal Agencies are Quietly Removing Government Web Resources, and Why it Matters (November 15, 2017).

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20. Removal of HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement staff directory webpage

Summary of findings and context: In late 2017, HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement removed its staff directory webpage, which listed contact information for 22 staff across internal divisions of ORR. A link to the staff directory page was removed from the “About Us” page. The contact information is no longer available anywhere on the ORR website, and ORR provides only a centralized email and phone number for media inquiries on its “About Us” page.

For details see: Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Removal of HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement Staff Directory Webpage (August 10, 2018) and Aaron Lemelin: Office of Refugee Resettlement quietly removes entire staff directory webpage (August 14, 2018).

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21. Removal of a Breast Cancer website from within the Office on Women’s Health website

Summary of findings and context: The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) removed its “Breast Cancer” website and other pages relating to mammograms. The OWH removed informational pages and factsheets about Breast Cancer, including symptoms, treatment, risk factors, and public no- or low-cost cancer screening programs. This content was not available elsewhere on the OWH site.

For details see: Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Removal of Breast Cancer Website and Related Webpages from within HHS’s Office on Women’s Health Website (March 29, 2018) and Andrew Bergman: Unexplained censorship of women’s health website renews questions about Trump administration commitment to public health (April 2, 2018).

Note: On April 5, 2018, following reporting about the removals, the Office on Women’s Health added a single breast cancer page to womenshealth.gov. The page, titled “Breast Cancer,” contains four brief sections titled: “What is breast cancer?,” “Do I need to be screened for breast cancer?,” “Learn more about breast cancer,” and “Sources.” Many of the removed page URLs documented in the WIP report now redirect to this page (at URL https://www.womenshealth.gov/cancer/breast-cancer/).

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22. Removal of 92 Climate Action Plan PDFs from NPS “Climate Friendly Parks Program” website

Summary of findings and context: In 2017, the National Park Service removed 92 Climate Action Plan PDFs from its website. Additionally, NPS removed links to the 92 PDFs and several live links to sustainability plans from a section of its “Climate Friendly Parks Program” webpage.

For details see: Environmental Data & Governance Initiative Website Monitoring Report: Removal of Climate Action Plans and Links from the National Park Service’s Climate Friendly Parks Program Website (December 21, 2017).

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23. Overhaul of EPA’s Clean Water Rule website

Summary of findings and context: In May 2017, the EPA replaced its Clean Water Rule website, which provided information about the benefits of clean water and the Clean Water Rule, with a Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rulemaking website that focuses on the rule-making process and the EPA’s review of the Clean Water Rule. Webpages from the old site (with URLs beginning www.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule/) now redirect to the WOTUS website homepage (www.epa.gov/wotus-rule). Factsheets that were linked to from the old Clean Water Rule homepage have been removed, and their URLs return a “page not found” error.

For details see: Environmental Data & Governance Initiative Website Monitoring Report: Removal of Information and Reduction in Access to Resources on the EPA’s Clean Water Rule Website (June 29, 2017).

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24. Removal of Climate Change Webpage from the Bureau of Land Management’s Website

Summary of findings and context: In 2017, DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (DOI) removed its climate change webpage, which included information about climate change issues specific to BLM’s operations and links to other government climate change websites.

For details see: Environmental Data & Governance Initiative Website Monitoring Report: Removal of a Climate Change Webpage from and Shift in Language on the Bureau of Land Management’s Website (January 9, 2018).

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25. Removal of minority health website from HHS’s Office of Women’s Health Website

This Tracker item was last updated: February 25, 2019.

Summary of findings and context: Between May 13, 2017 and November 16, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health removed the “Minority Women’s Health” website from the womenshealth.gov domain. Much of the removed information does not appear elsewhere on the website. The agency has not proactively communicated about or explained these changes, and no public Web archive preserving the removed records has been identified on the HHS website.

Classification of change:

  • 6. Overhauling or removing an entire website
    • (c)(ii) An entire website is removed or overhauled, and a significant portion of the website’s previous URLs redirect to existing URLs for other page(s). The pages are completely unrelated or may be an organization-wide splash page.

Reporting:

  • N/A.

Public agency communication:

  • Advance public notice: No
  • Acknowledgment of change: No known inquiry.

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between May 13, 2017 and November 16, 2017, the “Minority Women’s Health” website was removed from the womenshealth.gov domain.

Note: Links are provided in parentheses to the last Internet Archive Wayback Machine snapshot before the pages and the first snapshot after the pages were removed.

  1. A federal Web archive of womenshealth.gov, collected as part of the Federal Depository Library Program, is available at https://archive-it.org/collections/4438.

Key Webpage

1. Page title: Minority Women’s Health

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26. Removal of the Immigration Benchbook Page from the Department of Justice Website

This Tracker item was last updated: February 26, 2019

Summary of findings and context: Between May 10, 2017 and June 26, 2017, the “Immigration Judge Benchbook” page (Key Webpage #1) was removed from the Department of Justice (DOJ) website. The page currently returns a 404 error. The page contained numerous links to pages featuring detailed information about immigration proceedings, including scripts for interacting with individuals in immigration proceedings, “checklists, worksheets and forms” related to immigration proceedings, and sample decisions. Some of these materials are contained on pages that remain available on the DOJ website in an uncollated form, and others were housed on pages that have been removed.

Note: This section covers the removal of the “Immigration Judge Benchbook” page and will not attempt to detail the status of each page formerly linked to by the “Immigration Judge Benchbook” page.

Classification of change:

  • 5. Removing an entire webpage or document
    • (a) The previous URL leads to a “dead” page, a 404 error, or a 403 error.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

  • Advance public notice: No
  • Acknowledgment of change: No known inquiry.

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between May 10, 2017, and June 26, 2017, the “Immigration Judge Benchbook” page (Key Webpage #1) at the URL https://www.justice.gov/eoir/immigration-judge-benchbook was removed from the Department of Justice website.
  2. Key Web Page #1 contained links to various sections of the benchbook, a collection of immigration law information, and instructions related to immigration proceedings. Some of the pages linked on Key Webpage #1 are still live, while others have been removed.
  3. Some of the materials previously linked by Key Webpage #1 are preserved as a .zip file on the “Archived Resources” page on the DOJ website at the URL https://www.justice.gov/eoir/archived-resources.

Key Webpage

1. Page title: Immigration Judge Benchbook

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27. Removal of links to and islanding of PDF about climate change and human health on National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences website

Summary of findings and context: The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) altered its website by removing links to and educational fact sheet about climate change and human health from the “Climate Change” topics and the Brochures and Fact Sheets” pages. These removals effectively islanded the fact sheet, rendering it inaccessible by navigating the website. NIEHS also replaced references to “climate change” with “climate.”

For details see: Environmental Data & Governance Initiative Website Monitoring Report: Removals of Climate Change Mentions and Links from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Website (August 20, 2017).

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28. Removal of the “A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change” website from the main EPA website

Summary of findings and context: In April 2017, the EPA removed the “A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change” website from the main EPA website. The Guide was not captured in the EPA’s January 19, 2017 snapshot, likely due to archiving errors.

For details see: Environmental Data & Governance Initiative Website Monitoring Report: Change in Access to the EPA’s “A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change” Website (May 5, 2017).

For related removals of climate change information from the EPA’s website, see:

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29. Removal of EPA’s Climate Change website

This Tracker item was last updated: February 26, 2019

Note: Due to the significance and extent of the removals corresponding to this Tracker item, the analysis described below is substantially more detailed than other Tracker analyses.

Summary of findings and context: In April 2017, the EPA removed its Climate Change website hosted across several URL paths, including www.epa.gov/climatechange, www.epa.gov/climate-change-science, and www.epa.gov/climate-impacts. Initially, the removed page URLs redirected to a notice page stating: “We are currently updating our website to reflect the EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt.” In October 2018, EPA modified the notice page to remove any mention of climate change. See Tracker items 28, 30, and 34, listed below, for related climate change information removed from the EPA’s website at URL paths: www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate, www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan, and https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/.

For related removals of climate change information from the EPA’s website, see:

Classification of change:

  • 6. Overhauling or removing an entire website
    • (b)(ii) An entire website is removed or overhauled, and a significant portion or all of the website’s previous URLs redirect to a page that contains a statement that the previous information has been removed. The previous website is not replaced with new content.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

  • Advance public notice: Yes; April 28, 2017 (Note: Notice was provided the same day as the removals)
  • Acknowledgment of change: Corroborated. See: EPA’s News Release “EPA Kicks Off Website Updates” (April 28, 2017).

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between April 27, 2017 and April 29, 2017, the EPA removed its Climate Change website.

Note: Links are provided in parentheses to the last Internet Archive Wayback Machine snapshot before the pages and the first snapshot after the pages were removed.

  1. Between April 13, 2017 and May 2, 2017, the EPA removed the “Climate Change Science” portion of its Climate Change website.

Note: Links are provided in parentheses to the last Internet Archive Wayback Machine snapshot before the pages and the first snapshot after the pages were removed.

  1. Between April 13, 2017 and May 1, 2017, the EPA removed the “Climate Change Impacts” portion of its Climate Change website.
  1. The notice page titled “This page is being updated” at the URL https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/signpost/cc.html (Key Webpage #4) was first captured by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine on April 28, 2017.
    • Between October 17, 2018 and October 18, 2018 the page was altered to remove all mention of climate change:
      • Altered the heading of the page from “This page is being updated” to “We want to help you find what you are looking for.”
      • Removed the following text and links from the first paragraph:

Thank you for your interest in this topic. We are currently updating our website to reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt. If you’re looking for an archived version of this page, you can find it on the January 19 snapshot.

Here’s what our Public Affairs Office released about these changes.

      • Added the following text and link:

You can view an archived version of this content on the January 19, 2017, snapshot.

  1. A snapshot of https://www.epa.gov/ on January 19, 2017 can be found at https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/.

Note: The snapshot is incomplete and is missing certain portions such as the “A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change” website (see Tracker Item #28).

Key Webpages

1. Page title: Climate Change

2. Page title: Climate Change Science

3. Page title: Climate Change Impacts

4. Page title: This page is being updated

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30. Replacement of the “Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments” website with a new one that omits climate change information

Summary of findings and context: The EPA removed the “Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments” website, hosted at https://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate. All website URLs initially redirected to a notice stating that the pages were being updated. Three months later, a replacement website containing some of the content from the removed website was launched at https://www.epa.gov/statelocalenergy. URLs from the /statelocalclimate domain redirect to https://www.epa.gov/statelocalenergy. The new website, titled “Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments,” is approximately 200 pages smaller than the previous one and omits climate change mentions and information.

For details see: Environmental Data & Governance Initiative Website Monitoring Report: Assessment of Removals and Changes in Access to Resources on the EPA’s “Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Government” Website (October 17, 2017).

For related removals of climate change information from the EPA’s website, see:

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31. Removal of a Collection of Webpages Related to the Affordable Care Act from HHS’s Office of Population Affairs Website

Summary of findings and context: The Office of Population Affairs, under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), removed a collection of ten webpages related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from its “Title X Family Planning” website. The removed pages included information on the Affordable Care Act, contraceptive coverage, the Health Insurance Marketplace, and the Affordable Care Act Collaborative. The URLs for these pages now lead to errors.

For details see: Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Removal of a Collection of Webpages Related to the Affordable Care Act from HHS’s Office of Population Affairs Website (February 5, 2019) and Cate Pinot and Rachel Bergman: HHS Office of Population Affairs removed Affordable Care Act content from Title X website (February 7, 2019).

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32. Overhaul of the “A-Z Health Topics” section of HHS’s Office on Women’s Health website

Summary of findings and context: The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) removed portions of the “A-Z Health Topics” section of its website, including text, links, and entire pages and documents. Pages and links to pages related to lesbian and bisexual health, breast cancer, men’s health, interpersonal and domestic violence, and health topics relevant to the elderly have been removed. Additionally, the OWH repository of fact sheets was moved to a different URL, with resources being added, removed, and reorganized during the move.

For details see: Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Overview of HHS’s Office of Women’s Health Website Overhaul: Removal of Resources and Corresponding Link Alterations on the A-Z Health Topics Page (March 21, 2018) and Rachel Bergman: Federal women’s health office obscures lesbian and bisexual fact sheet online (March 21, 2018).

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33. Removal of a lesbian and bisexual health factsheet from the Office on Women’s Health website

Summary of findings and context: The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) removed a webpage with extensive information about lesbian and bisexual health, and links that correspond to that webpage, from its website. A PDF containing very similar content to the removed page is live but is not linked from elsewhere in the OWH website, rendering it inaccessible by navigating through the website.

For details see: Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Removal of Webpage and Corresponding Links Pertaining to Lesbian and Bisexual Health from HHS’s Office of Women’s Health Website (March 21, 2018) and Rachel Bergman: Federal women’s health office obscures lesbian and bisexual fact sheet online (March 21, 2018).

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34. Removal of EPA’s Clean Power Plan website

This Tracker item was last updated: February 26, 2019.

Summary of findings and context: In April 2017, the EPA removed its Clean Power Plan website. Pages in the portion of the website hosted at the URL path https://www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan/ were removed between April 27, 2017 and April 29, 2017. Pages in the “Clean Power Plan Toolbox for States” portion of the website, hosted at the URL path http://www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplantoolbox, were removed between April 18, 2017 and April 30, 2017. All pages in the Clean Power Plan website redirect to a new page titled “Complying with President Trump’s Executive Order on Energy Independence.” This replacement page is focused only on the rulemaking process and does not include the extensive scientific and policy information previously hosted on the Clean Power Plan website. These removals occurred concurrently with the removal of the broader EPA Climate Change website detailed in Tracker item #29.

For related removals of climate change information from the EPA’s website, see:

Classification of change:

  • 6. Overhauling or removing an entire website
    • (d)(iii) An entire website is removed or overhauled, and a significant portion or all of the website’s previous URLs redirect to a URL or URLs for a replacement website. The redirects are established from each individual previous URL to the new website’s homepage.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

  • Advance public notice: Yes; April 28, 2017 (Note: Notice was provided the same day as the removals)
  • Acknowledgment of change: Corroborated. See: EPA’s News Release “EPA Kicks Off Website Updates” (April 28, 2017).

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between April 27, 2017 and April 29, 2017, the EPA removed its “Clean Power Plan” website.

Note: Links are provided in parentheses to the last Internet Archive Wayback Machine snapshot before the pages and the first snapshot after the pages were removed.

      • /cleanpowerplan/clean-energy-incentive-program (4/18/175/2/17)
      • /cleanpowerplan/clean-power-plan-community-page (5/16/175/2/17)
      • /cleanpowerplan/clean-power-plan-existing-power-plants (4/28/174/29/17)
      • /cleanpowerplan/initial-clean-power-plan-submittals-under-section-111d-clean-air-act (4/18/175/2/17)
      • /cleanpowerplan/regulatory-actions (4/18/175/2/17)
      • /cleanpowerplantoolbox (Key Webpage #2) (4/18/174/30/17)
    • All “/cleanpowerplan” and “/cleanpowerplantoolbox” URLs currently redirect to http://www.epa.gov/Energy-Independence, which corresponds to a page titled “Complying with President Trump’s Executive Order on Energy Independence.”

2. A snapshot of https://www.epa.gov/ on January 19, 2017 can be found at https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/. Note: The snapshot is incomplete and is missing certain portions such as the “A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change” website (see Tracker Item #28)

Key Webpages

1. Page title: Clean Power Plan

2. Page title: Clean Power Plan Toolbox for States

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35. Overhaul and Move of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse” website

This Tracker item was last updated: February 26, 2019.

Summary of findings and context: Between March 29, 2017 and May 3, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) overhauled and moved its “Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse” website. Some of the content from the “Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse” website was reorganized and moved to new URLs. Content from 25 of the pages was not moved and is no longer accessible.

For later removals of the new “Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse” website see:

Classification of change:

  • 3. Moving an entire webpage or collection of webpages or establishing redirects
    • (a)(i) Moving a page or collection of pages to a new URL or URLs without a redirect from the previous URL or URLs. The previous URL or URLs lead to a “dead” page, a 404 error, or a 403 error.
  • 5. Removing an entire webpage or document
    • (a) The previous URL leads to a “dead” page, a 404 error, or a 403 error.
  • 6. Overhauling or removing an entire website
    • (a)(i) An entire website is removed or overhauled, and a significant portion or all of the website’s previous URLs lead to “dead” pages, 404 errors, or 403 errors. A significant portion of the previous website is replaced with new content at different URLs.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

  • Advance public notice: No
  • Acknowledgment of change: No known inquiry.

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between March 29, 2017 and May 4, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) overhauled and moved its “Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse” website.
  2. Between March 29, 2017 and April 29, 2017, DOT removed 46 pages from its “Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse” website.
  1. Between February 1, 2017 and May 3, 2017, DOT reorganized and moved most of the content from 21 of the removed https://climate.dot.gov/ domain pages to a new website.

Note: Subsequent removals of pages from the “Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse” website are documented in Tracker Item #3.

  1. No public Web archive is available for the U.S. Department of Transportation website. An archived version of the “Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse” page (Key Webpage #3) is available from the Federal Depository Library Program Web Archive as part of the U.S. Department of Interior – Indian Affairs collection.

Key Webpages

1. Page title: Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse

2. Page title: Overview of Climate Change

3. Page title: Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse

4. Page title: Analyzing GHG Emissions Tools: Models and Analysis Tools

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36. Language Removals Pertaining to Sex Discrimination from HHS’s Office for Civil Rights Webpages about Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act

Summary of findings and context: Between March and August 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) removed language relating to sex discrimination and prohibitions on sex discrimination on several webpages about Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Mentions of “sex stereotyping” and information about sex discrimination on the basis of gender identity and termination of pregnancy were removed. The “Training Materials for Section 1557” page on the OCR website was removed between March 2017 and July 2018.

For details see: Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Language Removals Pertaining to Sex Discrimination from HHS’s Office for Civil Rights Webpages about Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (July 17, 2018) and Rachel Bergman and Jon Campbell: HHS removes sex discrimination prohibition language from civil rights office website (July 19, 2018).

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37. Removal of 26 Documents for Asylum Officer Training from the USCIS Website

Summary of findings and context: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) removed links to 26 documents from its Asylum Division Training Programs webpage. The documents contained training materials for personnel charged with reviewing and vetting asylum claims under certain international agreements and provisions of U.S. law. The URLs for the documents return “page not found” errors.

For details see: Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Removal of 26 Documents for Asylum Officer Training from the USCIS Website (May 29. 2018) and Jon Campbell: USCIS takes down 26 PDFs for training asylum officers from its website (May 31, 2018).

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38. Removal of paragraphs on DOI’s climate change page

Summary of findings and context: The DOI made changes to its climate change page, removing and re-writing descriptive paragraphs and entire sections on the DOI’s role in addressing climate change.

For details see: Environmental Data and Governance Initiative Website Monitoring Report: Confirmation of Changes to Department of the Interior’s Climate Change Page (April 27, 2017).

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39. Removal of Department of Energy’s department-wide phonebook

Summary of findings and context: A Web portal providing access to the DOE’s phonebook, which contained contact information for agency employees, was removed from the DOE’s website.

For details see: For details see: Toly Rinberg and Andrew Bergman: How Federal Agencies are Quietly Removing Government Web Resources, and Why it Matters (November 15, 2017).

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40. Removal of the FedStats website and reduction in access to statistical methods reports on the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology website

Summary of findings and context: The Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology (FCSM) website, which was previously hosted on the usa.gov domain, was moved to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Web domain. The FedStats website, which was also previously hosted on the usa.gov domain, was completely removed. URLs for both the previous FCSM website and the FedStats website redirect to the new NCES FCSM website homepage. Statistical resources that were previously accessible from the FCSM website and the removed FedStats websites were made inaccessible from the relaunched FCSM website, with users only able to access them using their full usa.gov URL.

For details see: Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Removal of the FedStats Website and Reduction in Access to Statistical Methods Reports, Including Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Resources, on the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology Website (March 1, 2018).

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41. Removal of “Animal Care Search Tool” and archive of research animal facility reports from APHIS website

This Tracker item was last updated: February 26, 2019

Summary of findings and context: In early February 2017, the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) removed its “USDA Animal Care Search Tool” (Key Webpage #1), which allowed users to search reports related to the Animal Welfare Act. APHIS also altered its “Research Facility Annual Reports” page (Key Webpage #2) to remove an “Archive” section with links to annual reports into animal use in research facilities.

Note: The “USDA Animal Care Search Tool” was later relaunched. Additionally, the “Archive” section of the “Research Facility Annual Reports” page was later returned to the page.

Classification of change:

  • 4. Altering or removing an entire pertinent section of a webpage or collection of webpages
    • (a) A section of a single webpage is altered or removed.
  • 7. Altering or removing search engines and open data platforms
    • (d) Removing a search engine or open data platform that provides access to documents, datasets, or information that are only accessible through the search engine or open data platform.
  • 8. Altering, removing, or deleting datasets
    • (e) Removing an entire dataset.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between January 25, 2017 and February 14, 2017, APHIS removed the “USDA Animal Care Search Tool” (Key Webpage #1).
    • The USDA Animal Care Search Tool had the URL https://acis.aphis.edc.usda.gov/ords/f?p=116:1:0:::::.
    • The page URL leads to a “Sorry, this page isn’t available” error.
    • The page hosted a search engine that allowed users to access information related to the Animal Welfare Act, including inspection reports, and annual reports from research facilities that use animals, as well as “ad hoc” reports.
    • According to an agency press release, the “USDA Animal Care Search Tool ”was removed on February 3, 2017.
    • The Wayback Machine did not capture the removal of the corresponding reports; however, the removals were confirmed through third-party analysis (see “Reporting” section above) and confirmed by APHIS itself (see “Public agency communication” section).

Note: By October 2, 2017, APHIS had launched a new “USDA Animal Care Search Tool”, with fewer search options and a new URL.

  1. Between January 30, 2017 and February 3, 2017, APHIS removed links to the “USDA Animal Care Search Tool” and an “Archive” section containing research facility annual reports from its “Research Facility Annual Reports” page (Key Webpage #2).
    • The “Research Facility Annual Reports” page has the URL https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalwelfare/SA_Obtain_Research_Facility_Annual_Report
    • The page contained links to annual reports, organized by year for 2008 to 2015, on individual facilities that use animals in research; a link to the USDA Animal Care Search Tool; forms relating to 2016 annual reports; and an “Archive” section linking to annual reports from 1999 to 2007.
    • The changes that were made included:
      • Removal of the link and link text to the “USDA Animal Care Search Tool” from the body of the page.
      • Alteration of sidebar menu item “USDA Animal Care Search Tool,” including the replacement of a link to the tool with a pop-up notice explaining that the tool had been removed.
      • Removal of the entire “Archive” section, including eight links, from the body of the page.

Note: By February 17, 2017, APHIS returned the “Archive” section to the page.

  1. No federal Web archive is publicly available for the pages documented.

Key Webpages

1. Page title: USDA Animal Care Search Tool

2. Page title: Research Facility Annual Reports

 

Screenshot APHIS Animal Welfare Search

Additional information:

  1. Between January 27, 2017 and February 7, 2017, APHIS removed the 1999 “All states” report PDF.

Note: By March 18, 2017, APHIS reinstated the 1999 “All states” report PDF at the same URL.

  1. Between September 6, 2015 and March 18, 2017, APHIS moved seven pages hosting 2000 – 2007 annual reports for individual facilities that use animals in research to new URLs.

Note: The large date range is due to sporadic captures of IAWM snapshots.

Note: Media reports suggest each page was removed in February 2017. However, the absence of IAWM snapshots for this time period means we cannot independently confirm the removals.

    • The removed pages include:
      • The 2000 – 2007 report page for Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, which was removed after September 7, 2015.
        • The URL now redirects to an error notice.
        • The content was later moved to a new URL, which was first captured on March 18, 2017.
      • The 2000 – 2007 report page for District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, which was removed after September 6, 2015.
        • The URL now redirects to an error notice.
        • The content was later moved to a new URL, which was first captured on March 18, 2017.
      • The 2000 – 2007 report page for Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, which was removed after September 6, 2015.
        • The URL now redirects to an error notice.
        • The content was later moved to a new URL, which was first captured on March 18, 2017.
      • The 2000 – 2007 report page for Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, which was removed after September 6, 2015.
        • The URL now redirects to an error notice.
        • The content was later moved to a new URL, which was first captured on March 18, 2017.
      • The 2000 – 2007 report page for New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, which was removed after September 6, 2015.
        • The URL now redirects to an error notice.
        • The content was later moved to a new URL, which was first captured on March 18, 2017.
      • The 2000 – 2007 report page for Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, which was removed after September 6, 2015.
        • The URL now redirects to an error notice.
        • The content was later moved to a new URL, which was first captured on March 18, 2017.
      • The 2000 – 2007 report page for Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, which was removed after September 6, 2015.
        • The URL now redirects to an error notice.
        • The content was later moved to a new URL, which was first captured on March 18, 2017.
    • Each of the seven pages was linked from the “Research Facility Annual Reports” page (Key Webpage #2).

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42. Removal of Climate Action Report pages from State.gov

Summary of findings and context: The Department of State removed pages and PDFs about the Climate Action Report from its website. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commits the U.S. to publishing a report every four years that projects greenhouse gas emissions based on current policies. The content was removed from the website of the Office of Global Change, the Department of State unit responsible for representing the U.S. in negotiations under the UNFCCC.

For details see: Environmental Data and Governance Initiative Website Monitoring Report: State and DOE Climate Change Page Removals (January 26, 2017).

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43. Removal of ACA-related content and pages from the HHS website

This Tracker item was last updated: February 26, 2019

Summary of findings and context: In January and February of 2017, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) made a series of changes to its website, HHS.gov, to remove, move, or make less accessible content related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). HHS removed a link to the “Affordable Care Act – About the Law” website from HHS.gov’s homepage and overhauled the “Affordable Care Act – About the Law” website, removing several pages. Later, between February and April 2017, HHS moved the website to new URLs. Between January 30, 2017 and May 1, 2017, HHS also removed a “Delivery System Reform” collection of pages relating to service delivery under the ACA.

Classification of change:

  • 1. Altering or removing text and non-text content
    • (a) Change or removal of text snippets (word(s), sentence(s), title(s), link text).
  • 2. Altering or removing links
    • (c) Removing a link or links to a page that has not been permanently removed or has not been removed at all
  • 3. Moving an entire webpage or collection of webpages or establishing redirects
    • (c)(i) Moving a page or collection of pages to a new URL or URLs with a redirect from the previous URL or URLs. The redirect is established from each individual previous URL to a separate page
  • 4. Altering or removing an entire pertinent section of a webpage or collection of webpages
    • (a) A section of a single webpage is altered or removed.
  • 4. Altering or removing an entire pertinent section of a webpage or collection of webpages
    • (b)The same section is removed across a collection of webpages.
  • 6. Overhauling or removing an entire website
    • (e)(i) An entire website is overhauled, and a significant portion or all of the website’s webpages are replaced with new content at the same URLs. The pages are related yet substantively different.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

  • Advance public notice: No
  • Acknowledgment of change: No known inquiry

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. On January 20, 2017 between 2:41 PM ET and 3:23 PM ET, the homepage of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) website (Key Webpage #1), at the URL https://www.hhs.gov/ was altered to remove a link to the “Affordable Care Act – About the Law” website homepage.
  2. Between January 30, 2017 and February 5, 2017, the “Affordable Care Act – About the Law” website was overhauled.
    • The website consisted of eleven pages sharing the URL path www.hhs.gov/healthcare/about-the-law/.
    • Content was altered on seven pages:
      • The “Affordable Care Act – About the Law” website homepage, “About the Law” (Key Webpage #2), was changed between January 30, 2017 and February 1, 2017, removing all content in the body of the page (except the page title “About the Law”) and replacing it with content from another page.
        • The removed content was organized under the headings “Coverage”, “Costs”, “Care,” and “For More Information.”
        • The content included links to nine other pages within the “Affordable Care Act – About the Law” website.
        • The new content was copied verbatim from the removed “Read the Law” page except for the term “Affordable Care Act,” which was replaced with “current law.”
      • The “Pre-Existing Conditions” page, was changed between January 30, 2017 and February 5, 2017, removing sections of text and links to live pages.
      • The “Young Adult Coverage” page, was changed between January 30, 2017 and February 5, 2017, altering and removing sections of text and removing links to live pages.
      • The “Curbing Insurance Cancellations” page, was changed between January 30, 2017 and February 5, 2017, removing sections of text and a link to a live page.
      • The “Appealing Health Plan Decisions” page, was changed between January 30, 2017 and February 5, 2017, removing the words “Under the Affordable Care Act” and a dead link.
      • The “Lifetime & Annual Limits” page, was changed between February 1, 2017 and February 4, 2017, to replace three explicit references to the ACA with the term “current law.”
      • The “Preventive Care” page, was changed between January 30, 2017 and February 5, 2017, to remove references to the ACA and remove two links to removed “Facts and Features” pages providing information on covered preventive services.
    • Three pages within the website were removed:
    • No content alteration was made to the body of the “Cancellation and Appeals” page (see January 26, 2017 and February 5, 2017).
    • Menus that appeared in the header and on the sidebar of the “About the Law” website were altered to remove links to deleted pages.
  1. Between February 5, 2017 and April 25, 2017, the “Affordable Care Act – About the Law” website was moved from file path www.hhs.gov/healthcare/about-the-law to www.hhs.gov/healthcare/about-the-aca.

Note: The large date range is due to sporadic captures of IAWM snapshots.

    • The website’s homepage, “About the Law” (Key Webpage #2) was moved between March 15, 2017 and March 16, 2017. At the same time, the page title was changed from “About the Law” to “About the Affordable Care Act.”
    • Five other pages within the website were moved:
    • All old “about-the-law” URLs redirect to the new “about-the-aca” URLs.
    • The “Curbing Insurance Cancellations” and “Appealing Health Plan Decisions” were not moved to new “about-the-aca” URLs. However, the pages remain linked to from the pages, menus, and breadcrumbs within the “Affordable Care Act – About the Law” website.
  1. Between January 30, 2017 and May 1, 2017, a collection of six “Delivery System Reform” pages were removed.

Note: The large date range is due to sporadic captures of IAWM snapshots.

  1. A public Web archive for HHS.gov is collected by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and can be found at https://wayback.archive-it.org/org-745. This archive contains many of the pages documented in this analysis but does not include any pages in the “Delivery System Reform” collection. All posts in the “Delivery System Reform Blog” are preserved in the public HHS Blogs Web archive collected by HHS at https://archive-it.org/collections/8315.

Key Webpages

1. Page title: HHS.gov (homepage)

2. Page title: About the Law (currently About the Affordable Care Act)

3. Page title: Making Health Care Work Better for Everyone

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44. Removal of pages, references, and links pertaining to the Affordable Care Act from HHS’s Office of Minority Health Website

Summary of findings and context: Over the course of two years, between January 2017 and January 2019, the Office of Minority Health (OMH), an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), altered its website to remove webpages, references, and links pertaining to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). At least five pages were removed from the website, including the main “Affordable Care Act’ page, which contained information about the Affordable Care Act and OMH’s role in implementing the ACA. Some pages that previously contained references to ACA were altered to remove the term. For instance, before OMH removed the “ACA Guidance for American Indians and Alaska Natives” page, the term “Affordable Care Act” was removed from the page’s title, text body, and an infographic linked from the page.

For details see: Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Removal of Pages, References, and Links Pertaining to the Affordable Care Act from HHS’s Office of Minority Health Website (February 26, 2019) and Aaron Lemelin: Office of Minority Health removes access to webpages about the Affordable Care Act (February 28, 2019).

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45. Removal of pages and links about programs and policy guidance on the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s website

Summary of findings and context: The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) removed pages and links to pages about OJJDP programs and policy guidance from its website. One of the removed pages was policy guidance titled “Girls and the Juvenile Justice System.”

For details see: Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Reduction in Access to Pages about Programs and Policy Guidance on the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Website (October 2, 2018) and Jon Campbell: Takedown of DOJ juvenile justice office webpages about still-active initiatives highlights its shift towards a more punitive approach (October 4, 2018).

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46. Removal of training and guidance resources for homeless transgender individuals from the Department of Housing and Urban Development website

This Tracker item was last updated: February 26, 2019

Summary of findings and context: Between December 23, 2016 and March 14, 2017, the “LGBT Homelessness” page (Key Webpage #1) on the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) hudexchange.info website was altered to remove links to and descriptions of five training and guidance resources related to transgender individuals in homeless shelter systems. The resources, which described HUD policies on accommodating transgender individuals in shelter settings, have been removed and their URLs return “page not found” errors. In response to these removals, several groups filed a lawsuit against HUD.

Classification of change:

  • 1. Altering or removing text and non-text content
    • (a) Change or removal of text snippets (word(s), sentence(s), title(s), link text).
  • 5. Removing an entire webpage or document
    • (a) The previous URL leads to a “dead” page, a 404 error, or a 403 error.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

  • Advance public notice: No
  • Acknowledgment of change: Did not respond to inquiry. See comment as reported by Newsweek: “The agency did not return request for comment on training guide’s removal from its website in time for publication of this article.”

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between December 23, 2016 and March 14, 2017, the “LGBT Homelessness” page (Key Webpage #1) was altered.

Note: The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine does not store past versions of these documents, so no examples of the removed documents have been provided.

  1. No federal Web archive is publicly available for the removed resources or past version of the “LGBT Homelessness” page.

Key Webpages

1. Page title: LGBT Homelessness

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47. Removal of LGBT Resources from the Department of Labor website

This Tracker item was last updated: January 14, 2019.

Summary of findings and context: Between January 20, 2017 and January 25, 2017, the “LGBT Policy” page (Key Webpage #1) on the Department of Labor website was altered. A section of text about LGBT rights and links to two pages, “Advancing LGBT Workplace Rights” and “Resources for Employers on LGBT Workers and Inclusive Workplaces,” were removed. Around the same time, the “Advancing LGBT Workplace Rights” (Key Webpage #2) and “Resources for Employers on LGBT Workers and Inclusive Workplaces” (Key Webpage #3) pages were also removed from the Department of Labor website.

Classification of change:

  • 1. Altering or removing text and non-text content
    • (a) Change or removal of text snippets (word(s), sentence(s), title(s), link text).
  • 5. Removing an entire webpage or document
    • (a) The previous URL leads to a “dead” page, a 404 error, or a 403 error.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

  • Advance public notice: No
  • Acknowledgment of change: No known inquiry.

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between January 20, 2017 and January 25, 2017, the “LGBT Policy” page at the URL https://www.dol.gov/asp/policy-development/lgbt-workers.htm was altered to remove links to Key Webpage #2 and Key Webpage #3.
    • The following text was also removed: “We have assessed how every aspect of our day-to-day work can incorporate concrete actions to advance LGBT workplace equality. From our worker-protection agencies and regulations, to our grants and technical assistance programs, to our own responsibilities as an employer, we have taken actions large and small to ensure LGBT workers and their families can share in the benefits of a growing economy. Today we report on the progress we have made, and the work still in progress.”
  2. Between January 10, 2017, and January 20, 2017, the “Advancing LGBT Workplace Rights” page (Key Webpage #2) at the URL https://www.dol.gov/asp/policy-development/lgbt-report.pdf was removed from the Department of Labor website. The page was PDF of a 2015 report of the same name, which detailed key principles for protecting the rights of LGBT individuals in a workplace setting. The URL now leads to a 404 error.
  3. Between December 21, 2016 and February 7, 2017, the “Resources for Employers on LGBT Workers and Inclusive Workplaces” page (Key Webpage #3) at the URL https://www.dol.gov/ofccp/LGBT/LGBT_resources.html was removed from the Department of Labor website.
    • The URL for the page now leads to a 404 error. The page contained information and links for employers, including a directory of organizations “that offer resources and guidance to employers around issues related to creating an inclusive workplace” for LGBT employees.
    • Links to live pages, including to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission decision, were removed.
    • A public Web archive containing the three webpages in this analysis is collected by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) and can be found at https://archive-it.org/organizations/1224.

Key Webpages

1. Page title: LGBT Policy

2. Page title: Advancing LGBT Workplace Rights

3. Page title: Resources for Employers on LGBT Workers and Inclusive Workplaces

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48. USGS Science Explorer search function changes

Summary of findings and context: USGS made a series of adjustments to its Science Explorer search function which resulted in first a lower number, and then a higher number of search results for climate change-related searches than previously. Contrary to media reports, the reduced number of search results was not evidence that the resources were removed, but instead was caused by changes that had been made to the search function.

For details see: Toly Rinberg and Andrew Bergman: Changes to USGS website highlight the importance of search for public access (September 22, 2017).

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49. Removal of “LGBT Outreach” content from U.S. Small Business Administration website

This Tracker item was last updated: January 14, 2019

Summary of findings and context: Between December 9, 2016, and January 31, 2017, content on the “LGBT Outreach” page (Key Webpage #1) of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) website was removed. The content reportedly remained inaccessible for more than a year. Until May 2018, the content was replaced with a disclaimer: “SBA is currently updating programmatic information on SBA.Gov. During the update, some pages are not available. The process is expected to be complete in the near future.” The page contained information on the administration’s LGBT initiative that “aims to bring focus on economic empowerment in the LGBT business community providing access to SBA programs and services.” In response to media enquiries, officials claimed, that “guidance was simply being re-written.” A few days after PinkNews reported on the removed content, between May 16, 2018 and May 17, 2018, the page began redirecting from the original URL to a new URL, https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/grow-your-business/lgbt-owned-businesses (Key Webpage #2), which contains content related to LGBT-owned small businesses.

Classification of change:

  • 3. Moving an entire webpage or collection of webpages or establishing redirects
    • (c)(i) Moving a page or collection of pages to a new URL or URLs with a redirect from the previous URL or URLs. The redirect is established from each individual previous URL to a separate page
  • 5. Removing an entire webpage or document
    • (b) The previous URL redirects to a page that contains a statement that the previous page and its information has been removed.

Reporting:

Public agency communication:

  • Advance public notice: No. Notice about the removals was posted on the webpage only after the content was removed (1/31/17).
  • Acknowledgment of change: Refuted at least in part: see comment in PinkNews.

Detailed Description of Changes in Access and Content

Change details:

  1. Between December 9, 2016 and January 31, 2017, the “LGBT Outreach” page (Key Webpage #1) was altered.
    • Content was removed and a disclaimer was added to the webpage with text, “SBA is currently updating programmatic information on SBA.Gov. During the update, some pages are not available. The process is expected to be complete in the near future.”
  1. Between May 16, 2018 and May 17, 2018, the “LGBT Outreach” page (Key Webpage #1) began to redirect to a new URL, for the “LGBT-owned Businesses” page (Key Webpage #2).
  2. No federal Web archive is publicly available for the “LGBT Outreach” page.

Key Webpages

1. Page title: LGBT Outreach

2. Page title: LGBT-owned Businesses

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50. Removal of climate change mentions, links, and information from the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health website

Summary of findings and context: In late 2016, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, an agency within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), altered webpages about climate change by removing mentions of the impact of climate change on occupational safety and health. A page linking to government and academic publications addressing the impact of climate change on worker health and safety was removed.

For details see: Environmental Data & Governance Initiative Website Monitoring Report: Removal of Climate Change Mentions, Links, and Information from the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Website (July 2, 2018).

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51. Removal of “Facts and Features” Website from HHS.gov

Summary of findings and context: In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) made a series of changes to HHS.gov, to remove, move, or make less accessible content related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Among these changes was the removal of the “Facts and Features” website, with at least 85 webpages. The homepage of this website, also titled “Facts and Features,” linked to five subpages in the sidebar of the page. One of the subpages, titled “Health Care Facts Sheets,” contained a list of links to 29 healthcare-related fact sheets dated between February 9, 2011 and December 13, 2016. Another subpage, titled “State by State,” contained links to 51 pages, each of which documented the “Impact of the Affordable Care Act” in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

For details see: Jon Campbell: HHS removed 85-page website with materials about the Affordable Care Act (May 15, 2019) and Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project Monitoring Report: Removal of “Facts and Features” Website from HHS.gov (May 15, 2019).

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