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Internet Archive, Web's Warehouse, Creating Trump-Era Copy in Canada

'Libraries like ours are susceptible to different fault lines,' founder Brewster Kahle wrote, citing Donald Trump's election among several reasons.
Image: Computer servers
Bloomberg via Getty Images - file

Yes, the Internet Archive — the "Wayback Machine" that's home to hundreds of billions of dead or otherwise lost web pages — is heading to Canada.

And yes, President-elect Donald Trump is part of the reason.

"On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change," founder Brewster Kahle wrote Tuesday in a fundraising message posted to the Internet Archive's blog. "It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change."

Kahle signaled something was afoot the day after Trump was elected, saying he was "shell-shocked" and soliciting advice for "what we might do."

The answer, it turned out Tuesday, is to create a duplicate of the independent, nonprofit site — called a "mirror," a path many sites pursue to ensure a backup, to lessen the load on servers or to skirt censorship.

Pundits and online commenters seized on the announcement to renew their attacks on the president-elect for what they have called his chilling effect on speech, suggesting the archive is fleeing the United States because of Trump.

But in his announcement Tuesday, Kahle made it clear that the Wayback Machine isn't moving — it's just copying itself. And the reasons go beyond the election.

Historically, "libraries like ours are susceptible to different fault lines," he wrote — including natural disasters, changes in the law and internal failures.

Thus the need for a backup for the Internet's ultimate backup: the Internet Archive of Canada.

"For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible," Kahle wrote. "It means preparing for a Web that may face greater restrictions."