>> On a cold afternoon on a recent Saturday at Yale University, dozens of volunteers were busy digging into the Internet to preserve Earth Science Research, Census data, and other data sets they say are at risk of disappearing.>> We're not trying to break anything. We're not trying to break any laws or break into any systems.
We're just using the sort of programming and web skills that we already have to get at data that would be very hard to do manually.>> These so-called hackers, a loosely formed group of librarians, students, archivists and computer programmers, are joining what's becoming a grassroots movement across the country to save government digital records they say could vanish under President Trump.
It's hard to say if anything has been lost yet, but organizers say that they're not taking any chances.>> I think people are treating this project as kind of like let's save everything, cuz you never know what's gonna happen it anyways.>> What sounds like an epic task to protect online records actually started in the 90s with the dawn of the Internet.
But that effort accelerating at a rapid pace in recent months as a new administration takes control of the vast government bureaucracy.>> People are concerned and they want to make sure that during presidential transitions, especially as things are reorganized, stuff doesn't go missing.>> Data rescuers fear broken code and links could make federal records unsearchable, and worse, unintelligible.
Even with an existing government catalog like data.gov, organizers worry it could be shut down at any time with no back up. To ensure safe keeping, these coders and researchers are sending off important data to secure sites like the Internet Archive and the DataRefuge. While organizers say they don't think the government's digital files will disappear overnight, they're doing what they can to make sure they know where to find them.
The White House declined to comment for this story.