The Internet Archive has gone into self-preservation mode while preparing for the eminent presidency of Donald Trump. The non-profit organization, which pretty much serves as the Library of Congress for all things web, announced on Tuesday plans to build the Internet Archive of Canada — just in case the upcoming administration tries to rewrite or completely destroy what has been archived over the years. It’s a smart move to make, considering that Trump has spewed out pro-censorship rhetoric and disdain for the open internet in his quest for the White House.
Back in September, the President-elect said, “Cyber is becoming so big today. It’s becoming something that, a number of years ago — a short number of years ago — wasn’t even a word,” clearly demonstrating that he doesn’t quite know how the internet functions. Even before that, Trump threw out the idea of “closing the internet up.” Meanwhile, the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine helped reveal the fact that his promise to ban Muslims was removed from the Trump website, only to be added back again after people noticed. The Internet Archive strives to be a reliable source for historical preservation of what goes on online, an ethical goal that doesn’t seem to be aligned with those of the Trump administration.
In a blog post, the Internet Archive’s Founder Brewster Kahle explains that it wants to create a backup in Canada where U.S. censorship laws wouldn’t apply. That of course would mean servers, space, and more, so it’s asking for donations to help fund a project that could cost millions.
Kahle writes, “On November 9th 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. For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a Web that may face greater restrictions.”
The Internet Archive has played an important role in creating an accurate record of everything that pops up on the internet. Its Wayback Machine saves 300 million pages a week and the Political TV Ad Archive served as a fact checking tool for journalists during the election season.
If Trump were to go forward with plans to limit digital freedoms, it’s possible that the Internet Archive’s documentation could be put at risk. And with all the worry about fake news spreading through Facebook as of late, the internet needs accurate historical preservation more than ever.
We have reached out to the Internet Archive for comment and will update the story once we hear back.