Fear of Trump has the Internet Archive moving to Canada

Brewster Kahle wants to backup his entire internet archive, billions of pages, in Canada.
The election of Trump motivated Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle to take action in defence of the internet. (Joi Ito/Flickr cc)

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There's a new addition to the list of Americans attempting to move to Canada in the wake of the U.S. election  only this time it's data, not people, hoping to avoid the presidency of Donald Trump. 

This week, The Internet Archive, a California-based nonprofit digital library that's been keeping billions of webpages for the historical record, announced it is fundraising to build a backup of its archive to be hosted here in Canada.    

Brewster Kahle, the founder of the archive, says that in Canada the collection would be out of the reach of Donald Trump, who during the campaign mused openly about the idea of "closing up" the Internet to stem ISIS recruitment efforts.  

"There's reason to worry," Kahle told The Current's guest host Kelly Crowe. "There's been a long history with libraries where people get rounded up for what they've read. And bad things can happen to them." 

As with so many other issues, Trump's approach to the Internet will be hard to predict. So Kahle said he wanted to make sure his organization is prepared to not only preserve its data, but to preserve the privacy of the users who access that data. 

Kahle likened the collection to a newspaper archive, but on a far larger scale.

We collect as much information as in all of the books in the library of congress every week-Founder of the Internet Archive

The average lifespan of a given web page is fairly short— less than a year.

And Kahle's organization is the only one keeping a record of what was on the web in the past. Users can visit Archive.org to see long-forgotten web pages as they appeared in the past, going back 20 years, all for free. 

"We live always trying to build to the model of the Library of Alexandria, in ancient times, when it was the centre of learning for 500 years. Yet it's now best known for not being here anymore," he said. 

If there had been a backup of that ancient library, he said, the world might still have the wealth of information that was lost when it burned down. 

"So let's not repeat the mistakes of the ancients." 

Listen to the full segment at the top of this post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.