Based in San Francisco, Internet Archive was founded in May 1996 by Brewster Kahle as a non-profit digital library and is considered to be one of the world’s largest digital libraries that harbours millions of free movies, e-books, music, software applications, games, videos, and so many more. Its mission is to provide “universal access to all knowledge.” Millions of internet users upload or download digital content to the Archive’s data cluster where it is collected and stored within the Wayback Machine. According to the official website of the Internet Archive:
“Most societies place importance on preserving artifacts of their culture and heritage. Without such artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures. Our culture now produces more and more artifacts in digital form. The Archive’s mission is to help preserve those artifacts and create an Internet library for researchers, historians, and scholars.”
In shocking news, the Indian government has blocked the Internet Archive which incited backlashes across the country. India has been tightening the noose on the internet lately resulting in heavy internet censorship on many websites in addition to banning of popular social media websites. Accordingly, internet users in India have been using the Internet Archive to access webpages deleted by the government as a way to evade ISP censors.
It is still unclear why the website has been blocked by Indian authorities. Chris Butler, Office Manager at the Internet Archive told India’s IT news website “Medianama”:
“We have not been contacted by the Government of India regarding this apparent blocking of archive.org (as was the case when we were previously blocked as part of a group of sites in late 2014/early 2015). We have no information about why a block would have been implemented.” [...] “Obviously, we are disappointed and concerned by this situation and are very eager to understand why it’s happening and see full access restored to archive.org. If you happen to obtain more information about the reason for the block or would be able to suggest any specific contacts with the government that it might be helpful for us to approach, we would be extremely grateful,” he added.
India is considered to have the second largest internet audience after China with a total of 462.1 million internet users out of its 1.3 billion general population. Therefore, the impact of blocking the Internet Archive is massive and will hinder Indian netizens from a free achieving a free and open internet.