Geez, Now Internet Insurance?

We seem to make some people mad.

The Internet Archive, a non-profit library, hosts many things. Many, many things. Billions of old webpages, lots of concerts, nostalgia computer games, TV, books, old movies, contributed books, music, and video, and much more.

But some of it seems to make some people mad. China is blocking us, Russia recent stopped blocking us, and India took a crack at blocking us last year. And then there are the occasional denial-of-service attacks by who-knows-who? One recent DDoS attack was apparently claimed by some Anonymous-linked group. Another one seemed to ask for a bitcoin to turn it off. Yup, “Pay us $400 and we will put you back on the air.” Really?  (We didn’t give it to them.)

Each time this happens, it causes a bunch of engineers and managers to run around to deal with it. Thankfully, a bunch of people donated this last time, out of sympathy, I guess — thank you!

We have tried to handle these without architectural changes, but it is getting hard. This last time we had to call a vacationing engineer in the middle of his night… Zeus knows we have enough self-inflicted screwups and growing pains to deal with. But now this?

One change we could make would be to send our traffic through CloudFlare, or similar, to filter out unwelcome packets as an “Insurance against Internet attackers.” Some people go to “cloud services” that have the sysadmins filter out the zealous ones. Both of these solutions would mean that our traffic would go through someone else’s hosts, which means $, privacy loss, and general loss of the end-to-end Internet. It is like converting to Gmail because there are so many spammers on the net and Google is capable of filtering out those losers.

The Internet Archive is trying to demonstrate that an affordable, end-to-end strategy works:

  •     we protect our reader’s privacy by running our own servers, and try not to log IP addresses;
  •     we don’t want to have co-location centers that control physical access to our servers, so we build our own;
  •     we don’t like having someone else run our email servers, but we get deluged with spam;
  •     we do not want to have someone else control our IP addresses, so we have our own ASN;
  •     we want the web to be even more resilient against the censors and the rot of time, so we pioneer the Decentralized Web.

Having our traffic filtered by a third party only when we are attacked may not be so bad, but it shows it is harder and harder for normal people to run their own servers.

Let’s work together to keep the Internet a welcoming place to both large and small players without needing insurance and third-party protectors.

Optimistically yours,

Brewster Kahle

Founder and Digital Librarian

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6 Responses to Geez, Now Internet Insurance?

  1. shelley eagleton says:

    Hello ,
    I just wanted you to know~your doing a great job and I adore and enjoy the ‘fruits of your labor’ so here it is a big hug and kiss! XXOO

  2. Marc Wendt says:

    I full agree that freedom and un encumbered flow of info is ideal.
    Thanks for fighting to keep this amazing place free.

  3. trans says:

    Sounds like a business opportunity. Wonder if a botnet for higher could be used to DDOS the attacking botnet.

  4. trans says:

    Oh, about email. You might consider an automated response and white list system. When your system gets an email from an unknown address it automatically sends a return email that has specific instructions on how to reply. If the sender does so, then the original email goes through and the email address gets white listed.

  5. Kenneth Udut says:

    Don’t let them get you down, Brewster! You’re doing excellent work by sticking to your vision! Its part of the original vision of the Internet, from WAY back when it was the Intergalatic Pan… something or other from the 1963 founding memo.

    Yes, there will be activists and hackers alike and governments trying to do their damages but each time you learn something new. It *is* possible to stand tall and proud to the original vision and you have a LOT OF PEOPLE who are behind you.

    True freedom of information has other pricetags: A war that will someday be over, people that are caught up in the moment-to-moment affairs of whatever cause they’re behind, seeing the small rather than the big picture… a Library stands the test of Time.

    I’m counting on you at the very least. I don’t trust ANYBODY else to hold my digital content because nobody else has the same authentic vision that has taken it to the scale you have.

    Libraries have always been controversial places: to me, it’s a sign you’re doing it right.

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