It’s Official: The Internet Archive is building servers in Canada to avoid possible Trump backlash|
A popular tool that archives websites is backing up its servers in Canada, preparing for possible threats under the Trump presidency.
The Internet Archive, run by Brewster Kahle, is known for its Wayback Machine that preserves images and content from websites even after they’re changed or taken down. The Internet Archive also operates the End of Term archive, which preserves websites relating to presidential administrations for future generations.
However, Kahle recently told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman that he is in the process of building up the Internet Archive’s resources in Canada to back up anything that might be removed under the Trump administration, which begins officially in three weeks.
“This administration, or upcoming administration, has promised radical change, even potentially canceling whole departments. So the services that those departments have traditionally served are now online and could be deleted, changed, modified in ways that we really don’t know what’s coming up,” Kahle said, elaborating that the era of recordkeeping has now moved beyond paper and become almost exclusively digital. “We need the whole databases and the structures that science now depends on.
Kahle explained that as the Obama White House transitions into the Trump White House, the End of Term archive will keep digital records of whitehouse.gov press releases and public statements, along with public statements and websites generated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Obama era. When Goodman asked Kahle about why he plans to combat any efforts by the Trump administration to scrub the internet of websites relating to climate change, Kahle pointed to history.
“[W]e need to move it to other countries, because the history of libraries is one of loss,” Kahle said. “Usually libraries are burned, like the Library of Alexandria in ancient times, and they’re burned by governments. Just the new guys don’t want the old stuff around. They’re often sorry about it tens or hundreds of years later. But if you didn’t make a copy, then it’s just gone. So the idea of having multiple copies keeps stuff safe.”
The idea that new administrations would go back and remove websites of content that contradicts their policies isn’t so far-fetched. Recently, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources — which reports to Republican Governor Scott Walker — scrubbed its website of references to man-made climate change. The Trump transition team previously attempted to retrieve the names of Department of Energy employees working on climate change-related issues, though it rescinded the request when department officials refused to turn over the names. Theoretically, Kahle could preserve the Obama presidency’s digital record on servers built in Canada should Trump decide to purge federal databases of the Obama era.
The Wayback Machine successfully captured a highly publicized screwup on behalf of Republican National Committee staffers in October when the RNC accidentally and preemptively published a victory declaration for Mike Pence 90 minutes before his Vice Presidential debate with Virginia senator Tim Kaine began.
Kahle said the Internet Archive is organizing a hackathon on January 7 to crawl through and capture the most important parts of the Obama administration’s digital record, along with creating a record outside of official .gov sites to make sure those sites will be preserved for posterity.
Tom Cahill is a writer for US Uncut based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at [email protected], or friend him on Facebook.