Internet Archive to establish Canadian backup amid censorship fears

By Elizabeth Mullen

Jokingly threatening to move to Canada if an opponent wins a presidential election has become a tradition among Americans, but one San Francisco-based nonprofit is planning to do just that. The Internet Archive announced Tuesday that it will build a backup of its 30 petabytes of data in Canada to protect itself from restrictive policies some are concerned may be established by President-elect Donald Trump.

“On Nov. 9 in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change. It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change,” Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle wrote in a prepared statement. “For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a web that may face greater restrictions.”

Asking for millions on Giving Tuesday

The organization posted the announcement in conjunction with Giving Tuesday, a relatively new tradition in which people are encouraged to donate money to a charity following Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Kahle noted that the Archive aims to create the Canadian mirror this year, a project he says will cost millions. Founded in 1996, the Internet Archive includes the Wayback Machine, which catalogs 300 million web pages each week, video game emulators and more than 3 million e-books available through Open Library.

New administration, new free speech concerns

Defenders of free speech on the internet have concerns based on a number of Trump’s comments on the campaign trail and the beliefs of those he named to his cabinet. For example, during a December 2015 campaign rally in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Trump suggested “closing that internet up in some way” to stop the recruitment of Americans to the Islamic State group, Fortune reported.

Concerns extend beyond First Amendment loyalists to private companies as well. Trump’s chosen attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, has “long criticized companies that design products without mechanisms for government access,” The Verge reported. Some industry experts expect the incoming administration to support the Burr-Feinstein bill and the FBI’s Going Dark initiative, which both attempt to limit the encryption and security protocols technology manufacturers can build into their products.

Private citizens are also taking action to protect themselves. Downloads of encrypted messaging app Signal increased 400 percent in the week following the election, according to Marketplace.

On its front page, the Internet Archive stated, “The history of libraries is one of loss. The Library of Alexandria is best known for its disappearance,” noting that it is taking this action to avoid falling victim to the fates of other libraries in the past.

Written By

Elizabeth Mullen

Tech News Writer

Libby is a tech news writer and editor with years of experience covering the intersections of technology, business, finance and healthcare. She is particularly interested in disruptive technologies, big data and the ways innovative products can improve daily life in emerging markets.…