Records Hiding in Broad Daylight: Problems of Accountability & Access Posed By The Digital Public Archives of the Future
Beginning in 2019, the Archivist of the U.S. will only accept public records created after that date in digital or electronic form for purposes of future accessioning as permanent records. What does this policy mandate foretell in terms of the citizenry’s right of access to public records of future presidencies and administrations? How can archivists cope with being gatekeepers to vast collections of e-mail and other forms of electronic records that are not easily searchable? And does the use of new algorithmic methods for finding responsive digital objects raise issues of accountability that archivists need to address? This paper argues that archivists will necessarily need to embrace new strategies for providing access to the vast, dark digital collections comprising the public archives of the future.