WASHINGTON — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is being asked to address any number of alleged Internet-related problems in its review of the Federal Communications Commission’s network neutrality rules, but there is one it is tackling on its own: “Internet link rot.”
While that sounds like a broadband version of athlete’s foot, it is instead a malady that could affect access to the legal underpinnings of its eventual opinion in the Title II order sometime next year, if the court does not act expeditiously to nip it in the bud.
“This Circuit’s opinions frequently contain citations to Web pages — in the case of net neutrality, FCC documents, prior case law, etc. Unfortunately, after a period of time, some of those Web pages cease to exist or become altered — making a citation inaccessible or indiscernible,” the court said in an advisory.
Circuit librarian Pat Michalowskij to the rescue. Beginning next month, the clerk’s office will convert any Web page cited in a circuit opinion to a PDF and post it as an archived document in the case’s electronic docket.
Thus, Chief Judge Merrick Garland said, “the next time link rot makes it hard for a member of the public” — or a judge for that matter, he added — to “determine what a judge was relying on for a certain point, the answer will be just a few clicks away.”
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