Archive.org Moving To Canada Over Trump Censorship Fears

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The data isn't in yet on whether Americans are packing for Canada in droves following Donald Trump's electoral win, but a digital copy of the history of the Internet is going to make the move north.

Archive.org, a digital library that caches and indexes older versions of websites for the historical record, says it’s creating a backup copy of its collection that it will keep on servers in Canada.

“We are building the Internet Archive of Canada because, to quote our friends at LOCKSS, ‘lots of copies keep stuff safe’,” Archive.org said in a blog post published Tuesday.

archive org
The Archive.org chapter at the University of Toronto, seen on July 8, 2011. (Photo: Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

But the rest of Archive.org’s statement suggests there’s more going on than just a desire to have a backup copy of the Internet’s entire history.

“On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical 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 blog stated.

“It means serving patrons in a world in which government surveillance is not going away; indeed it looks like it will increase.”

During his campaign, Donald Trump said his administration would look into restricting the Internet so that groups like ISIS can’t use it to recruit and promote.

Trump said he "would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody," and said his administration would try to “get our brilliant people from Silicon Valley and other places and figure out a way that Isis cannot do what they're doing.”

wayback machine
A screencap of Archive.org's Wayback Machine, which allows users to search defunct websites and old versions of websites.

Trump’s picks for national security-related jobs — incl. Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo for director of the CIA — suggest that digital surveillance will be expanded in the U.S. in coming years, observers say.

An “already over-powerful surveillance state” is about to “be let loose on the American people,” Daniel Schuman, policy director for Demand Progress, told Bloomberg News.

Archive.org already has a Toronto chapter, operated at the University of Toronto, where staffers scan books to add to its digital archive. That chapter was forced to make large job cuts in 2011 due to a lack of funding.

The organization depends heavily on donations for its operations, and called on supporters to support its efforts to back up the digital library in Canada. It’s a gargantuan effort, requiring copying over more than 15 petabytes, or 15,000 terabytes, of data, International Business Times reports.

“The history of libraries is one of loss,” Archive.org wrote. “ The Library of Alexandria is best known for its disappearance.”

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