The Internet Watch Foundation in the UK has decided to close in on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, saying that it has made many ISP’s restrict or deny access to the website as http://web.archive.org. Virgin Media, Be and Demon Internet customers are apparently on the list of banned or restricted ISPs.
Personally, I think this is insane. If I haven’t mentioned it already in previous blog posts, I love the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. It’s a fantastic resource that I regularly use to see what websites were like several years ago. If you haven’t heard of it already, please have a look (if you haven’t been banned from it) as they have been caching pages from almost every website that existed since 1996.
So why the hell are the IWF restricting access to it? The IWF were under fire when they banned a Wikipedia page for a music album because the uploaded artwork of the album was pornographic, but after many complaints from many users, the IWF removed the page from the blacklist. Maybe there is some sense in this (as it was pornographic), but what on Earth does the Wayback Archive have to do with it? The Wayback Archive is by no means pornographic or dangerous to young children, even if some of the sites cached on it may relate to dangerous content. But, that’s exactly the same problem we have now – there is dangerous content all over the Internet now – and that probably wont change anytime soon.
In effect, changing history won’t necessarily change today.
According to this page, the IWF have said “We’re investigating the issue more fully at the moment and will discuss it with Thus to get a better understanding of what has happened.”
So if you want to know what I think, get the Wayback Machine off the blacklist. I, thankfully, am not currently with any of the ISPs that restrict access, but if it does become restricted on my ISP, I will be complaining.
Update 15.1.09 – The IWF has now confirmed that a large number of pages from the database of around 85 billion web pages have been blocked due to indecent content. However, the IWF has said that it is only specific pages that have been blocked so the damage is minimised. I still don’t believe it should be blocked, but feel a little better since they aren’t totally blocking out the site.
Update 17.1.09 – Demon Internet customers now have access to the Wayback Machine again. It has been seen by the company as a technical issue. However, Demon Internet still say they will be working closely with the IWF.