The Obama administration is set to quietly shut down a slew of websites in the Trump era as the White House seeks to consolidate the administration’s power over the Internet, according to a new report.
The report, from the Center for Democracy and Technology, is the first in-depth look at the administration decision to dismantle a handful of websites, including those for the Federal Reserve, the Federal Election Commission, and the National Weather Service.
The news comes as the Trump administration has taken aim at the internet and social media, particularly at a handful who use social media platforms to coordinate with each other, as well as critics of the administration.
The announcement follows weeks of protests against the Trump agenda, including his decision to fire the FBI director, James Comey, who was investigating the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.
President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey amid allegations of inappropriate conduct with the Russian government, sparking protests at the WhiteHouse.
The new report, which comes as Trump seeks to use social platforms to communicate with the American people and the public, finds that the administration plans to shut down sites, including the National Security Council, the White Houses Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Energy, that were active in 2017.
The shutdowns would apply to several government agencies that were already operating under the Trump administrations policies on cybersecurity, information sharing, and data security.
They include the Department, Energy, and National Security Agency.
The Department of Justice, meanwhile, was previously under the control of the Trump transition team and has been under Trump since January.
A number of the remaining sites, like the Whitehouse.gov, also have an email address, which was created for the transition team by the Trump team.
“It is very possible that a number of these sites may be shut down because of the president’s stated intent to make them disappear,” the report states.
“There is no doubt that this administration’s decision to eliminate all or part of the websites will have a chilling effect on other communications, particularly when these communications are coming from the president himself, who often tweets out from his personal account,” the analysts added.
While the shutdowns could have significant implications for individuals, the report suggests that “there is little evidence that the government will be deterred from continuing to use these sites.”
“Although it is difficult to assess the effect of the shutdown on individuals, it is clear that the shutdown will have an adverse effect on communications between the government and the general public,” the researchers said.
“The potential impact on individuals and other groups is likely to be small, though it is hard to know for sure,” they added.
“We can assume that, in the absence of any specific threat, the government’s decision will likely result in fewer people contacting the government, potentially creating an incentive for more people to remain anonymous, even as more information becomes available about the government,” the authors wrote.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The website shutdowns came amid an unprecedented level of public pressure on the Trump White House to remove its administration-funded websites, especially on social media.
A Twitter-powered petition to remove the Trump-funded sites from the White house was signed by more than 100,000 people, while a White House petition to shutter the Department for the Urban Development and Department for Education was signed nearly 2,000 times.
The Trump administration did not respond to the Center’s request for information about the Trump website shutdown decision.
The Trump administration was already under intense pressure to shut off the websites.
The administration had also announced that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would be shutting down its website, but the Trump Administration eventually lifted the moratorium and the government is now using the platform to communicate directly with the public.
A Trump administration spokesman did not address the report.