Despite saving several jobs with Carrier (which is still questionable), America has now seen one of its first businesses move out of the U.S. thanks to President-elect Donald Trump. Though Trump’s practices may actually benefit large companies and corporations (direct your attention to $7 million in incentives given to Carrier), the possibility of censorship for those in the business of transparency could be devastating.
That’s why the San Francisco non-profit organization, the Internet Archive, has plans for copying and saving their archives and storing them in ANOTHER country entirely. Though they did not specifically acknowledge President-election Donald Trump in a blog post announcing the decision, the timing is much too coincidental considering Trump’s recent dance with ripping basic rights of Americans away, such as jailing protesters who burn American flags.
The Internet Archive wrote in their blog post:
‘So this year, we have set a new goal: to create a copy of Internet Archive’s digital collections in another country. We are building the Internet Archive of Canada because, to quote our friends at LOCKSS, “lots of copies keep stuff safe.”‘
With a Republican-led Congress being one of the only lines of defense (and a questionable one at that) standing between citizens and Trump, the decision is understandable. They noted the importance of the duplication and move, writing:
‘On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change. It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for 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.
‘It means serving patrons in a world in which government surveillance is not going away; indeed it looks like it will increase.
‘Throughout history, libraries have fought against terrible violations of privacy–where people have been rounded up simply for what they read. At the Internet Archive, we are fighting to protect our readers’ privacy in the digital world.’
The Internet Archive is responsible for the Open Library, the Political TV Ad Archive, and the Wayback Machine. They described their mission as “…to give everyone access to all knowledge, forever. For Free.” Open Library is described as a project to create “one web page for every book ever published.” It provides “free and open access to millions of books.” The Political TV Ad Archive describes itself as providing “searchable, viewable, and shareable online archive of 2016 political TV ads, married with fact-checking and reporting citizens can trust.” The Wayback Machine is described as a “digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet.” It archives and makes available web pages that may no longer be available.
The decision to store a copy of their archives outside of country makes the most sense when you take into consideration Trump’s distaste for journalism that criticizes his decisions or behaviors, especially if you look at how valuable political TV ads are for journalism. The Miami Herald did note that this is a common practice for businesses but wrote this was “the first time that a major internet virtual utility has migrated assets out of the United States for fear of perceived domestic risk.”
Though some may dismiss the fear of such happening with eye rolling, the fact remains Trump did mention closing at least parts of the Internet, whatever that actually means. In his fifth Republican debate during the primaries, he specifically said he’d be open to “closing parts of the Internet” in the fight against ISIS. He said:
‘ISIS is recruiting through the Internet. ISIS is using the Internet better than we are using the Internet and it was our idea. I want to get the brilliant people from Silicon Valley and other places and figure out a way that ISIS can’t do what they’re doing…
‘I would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody. I sure as hell don’t want to let anybody that wants to kill us and kill our nation use our Internet. Yes sir, I am.’
According to Time, he’s also said this in regards to freedom of speech.
‘We have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what’s happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that Internet up in some way. Somebody will say, “Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.” These are foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people.’
Foolish people, however, can make smart decisions… like moving a copy of their archives and servers to an entirely different country with the same protection of freedom of speech that Americans were meant to have.
Featured image via Getty Images/Tasos Katopodis.