Indian ISP Ban on Wayback Machine Lifted? Confirmation Awaited

The largest repository of the history of websites on the internet, the Wayback Machine, might be facing a ban in India as media reports suggest that several internet service providers (ISPs) in the country have stopped showing the website citing a ban from the Indian government’s Telecommunications department.

Although it’s unclear why the internet archive has been banned or how widespread the ban really is, it seems that a number of ISPs in India have banned access to the website.

The block was first reported by Medianama, who stated that the website was blocked on Airtel cellular and MTNL fixed line. But currently, the website is available via Airtel, Vodafone cellular networks, as well as Airtel and Spectranet, fixed line internet connections.

Chris Butler, Office Manager at Internet Archive told Medianama that their attempts to contact the Indian Department of Telecom (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) was unsuccessful.

On further research, it was revealed that the ‘http’ version of the website was blocked but not the ‘https’.

Update: The Internet Archive was told that their website was blocked in accordance with two court orders (1, 2) issued by the High Court of Madras which blocked thousands of websites due to piracy of the following two Bollywood movies mentioned in the court order.

“This is a very worrying development and is part of a harmful pattern of governments increasingly taking web content (and in many cases entire sites) offline in unpredictable and excessive ways. We hope full access to archive.org will be restored quickly,” the company stated.

While this isn’t the first time the Internet Archive has been subjected to a ban in India, they haven’t been contacted this time around regarding the block.

Last year in November, the founders of the Internet Archive sensed trouble from then President-elect Donald Trump’s take on privacy on the internet and were seeking donations to make a copy of their database and put it in servers in Canada which will be outside the US jurisdiction.

We have contacted the Internet Archive and will update the story with relevant information as and when we have more.

What is Internet Archive?

Internet Archive, the biggest library of the web’s history, which has been backing up numerous website pages on a daily basis for the past 20 years via the Wayback Machine.

Internet Archive maintains a database containing millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites and more.

That’s how YouTube looked in December 2011 (Courtesy: Wayback Machine)

Internet Archive saved more than 750 million pages per week in their databases. They’ve been doing this for the past 20 years. Their database of the internet’s history till date is a substantial 26 petabytes (or 26000 terabytes).

That’s a lot of data, translating into a lot of server space and bandwidth required to store it online — which again costs money. The company also employs 150 people from across the globe from different professions — engineers, archivist, librarians and book scanners.

Using the Wayback Machine, any internet user can scroll through a given website’s archive, even if it has been taken down by the website now. The company claims that it still archives 300 million web pages every week.

This library can be used to access archives from over 20 years of internet era — presents you with an unbiased and uncensored history of things on the internet.

Internet Archive aims to ‘give access to all knowledge’ for free and forever. It’s an important source of information that ensures that even if something is deleted from the source, a copy of the page stays on the internet.

The non-profit library doesn’t run ads on its network since they track user behaviour and also doesn’t store a user’s IP address — owing to the fact that they value user’s privacy a lot.

Prayank

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