Internet Archive Canada and National Security Letter in the news: roundup

The Internet Archive garnered major media attention over the past week, first, on our plan to create a Canadian copy, and second, on the news we received a National Security Letter (NSL) requesting personal information about a user, the second in our history.

Canadian copy

Brewster Kahle’s post explaining why, in light of the new administration, the Internet Archive is raising money to build a copy of its collections in Canada hit a nerve.  More details were in a FAQ.

On November 29, Rachel Maddow led her MSNBC show with a segment about how the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine helps reporters by preserving a record of what politicians say online, even when they later delete it.

One of her main examples: how soon after winning the election, President-elect Donald Trump’s official federal transition web page included a “rundown ….of all of the ‘world’s top properties that Donald Trump’s owns.”

The website has since been deleted, Maddow noted.

Maddow also called the Internet Archive, a “national treasure…an international treasure.” (We’re blushing.)

Meanwhile, Paul Sawers noted in Venture Beat:

 Given that lies and fake news played a crucial part in the 2016 U.S. presidential election narrative, it is somewhat notable that the Internet Archive had launched the Political TV Ad Archive back in January to help journalists fact-check claims made during political campaigning.

In The Washington Times, Andrew Blake wrote about the Internet Archive’s plans to create a Canadian copy and also reported:

Mr. Trump’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Prior to being elected president, however, the Republican businessman suggested taking action to prevent Americans from becoming radicalized online by the Islamic State terror group’s social media recruitment efforts.

Here’s a link to Trump’s speech referenced by The Washington Times.

Sam Thielman reported in The Guardian on challenges facing libraries generally, including the Internet Archive’s decision to create a Canadian copy of data. The piece also discusses how the New York Public Library has changed its privacy policies to assure readers that it will not keep user data longer than expected.

Other media outlets reporting on the Internet Archive’s news include NBC News, the BBC, the New RepublicRecode Daily, and Newsweek.

Increasing transparency on National Security Letters

Last week the Internet Archive also revealed we received a National Security Letter (NSL), requesting we turn over personal information about a particular user, the second in our history. We worked with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to challenge the letter and gain the right to release it in redacted form; in the process, we also highlighted an error in the NSL about the right to appeal, which may have affected thousands of other letters.

Kim Zetter, a reporter for The Intercept, reported at length about how the Internet Archive took the unusual step of challenging the NSL–and won:

Now, Kahle and the archive are notching another victory, one that underlines the progress their original fight helped set in motion. The archive, a nonprofit online library, has disclosed that it received another NSL in August, its first since the one it received and fought in 2007. Once again it pushed back, but this time events unfolded differently: The archive was able to challenge the NSL and gag order directly in a letter to the FBI, rather than through a secretive lawsuit. In November, the bureau again backed down and, without a protracted battle, has now allowed the archive to publish the NSL in redacted form.

Dhrumil Mehta of reported on the error exposed by the Internet Archive and the EFF–namely, the NSL incorrectly described the means for possible appeals of the gag order preventing an organization that has received such a letter from publicizing it. Mehta has filed a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) to find out how many letters sent out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) contain this error:

This letter was particularly troublesome to privacy advocates because it contained misinformation about the rights of a letter recipient to challenge the nondisclosure requirement. The letter stated that the Internet Archive could “make an annual challenge to the nondisclosure requirement.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy organization that is legally representing the Internet Archive, pointed out in a press release that the passage of the USA Freedom Act in June of 2015 changed the law to allow letter recipients to challenge the National Security Letter at any time, not just once annually. In response to the EFF’s claim, the FBI withdrew its National Security Letter, allowed the Internet Archive to publish a redacted version of the letter containing the error and promised to correct the mistake by informing everyone else who got the same erroneous language.

It’s not just us

Tim Johnson of McClatchyDC drew all the themes together, linking the Internet Archive’s Canada announcement, the news on the NSL, and actions other library organizations are taking, all in one piece.

It turns out the nonprofit Internet Archive isn’t alone in taking action.

The New York Public Library announced a change this week to its privacy policy, informing users that it would retain less information about their activities.

The American Library Association, headquartered in Chicago, embraced that move and encourages others, including telling public libraries to encrypt all communications and lock up stored data to protect it from a prying government.


17 thoughts on “Internet Archive Canada and National Security Letter in the news: roundup

    1. Wendy Hanamura

      Yes, anyone can add documents to If you write to, one of our hardworking Collecctions Team will help you.
      Generally though–just try out the upload button!

  1. A Trump Supporter and Archive donator

    This is a fantastic data base- just leave Trump out of your rhetoric. He has nothing to do with giving the internet away- look to Obama last October for that Gem.

    1. Sean O'Connor

      If your looking for a social echo chamber to reinforce your own believes this is probably the wrong place for you.

      1. Jon Delinden

        Let’s be very honest, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would have been a danger to the Internet Archive had they been elected. Clinton would have been the bigger danger, since the Left is on the decline right now and desperately creating a pretext for censorship by inventing stories about “fake news” and “russian conspiracies” and “growing nazi/kkk movements” which have some truth in them, but are mostly bogus.

    2. Andrew Panken

      It’s a drum beat of calls to censor fake news coming out of the left, but they still claim to be protectors of our First Amendment rights. The left is not credible any more.

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  3. Barry Brennan

    I have enjoyed the Internet Archive for years but this is the worst kind of fear mongering I have ever heard. You are all for free speech as long as it agrees with your ideas. You want to make Donald Trump out to be the Devil incarnate. It will be Donald Trump who protects the Internet Archive from the censorship and restictions that the Obama administation was trying to inflict on the entire World Wide Web. Deal in reality, not your biases

  4. tommyredbird99

    Another Not a Trump Supporter
    The presidency of the U.S. is a government office, and office that affects lives here and abroad.
    As such the presidency’s purpose is to serve, not rule.
    This office is not a cabal. Last I heard we’ve been committed to transparency rather than secrecy and misdirection. Surely President Trump and what he does are topics subject to transparency.
    Make Society Great Again

    1. tommyredbird99

      I want to correct my use of “and an office.” I intended to write “an office.” The size of my phone screen is directly related to my attempts to edit. Lesson learned. My apologies to anyone offended by sloppy writing.

  5. Bill

    I have used the Internet Archive for years as well and found it to be an invaluable resource for past information no longer in the public domain. I also applaud the extent of your efforts and putting yourselves out there on a limb to stand against the invasion of privacy by Big Brother. I understand the need for national security, but what has been going on behind the closed doors of the government since the 911 event is sounding more and more like what happened in Germany during WWII. In fact, a lot like it if you look into the history. Thanks again for all of your hard work and I will pass the information along in my next post with a link to the article above.

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  8. Lewis Rosenthal

    Why are all (or nearly all) of the quotes in the article from leftist shills? Rachel Maddow as a news source? Seriously?

    The degree to which the Archive has gotten into bed with the left is disgusting, and frankly, if the Archive wants to build another one in Canada, go ask the good people of Canada for donations. I will not send one more cent to the organization unless or until I can be assured that my money will be spent on the original mission and intent of the Internet Archive: preserving (archiving) web content. (It would be nice to have a choice when giving to direct funds to specific objectives.)

    If the impetus for creating additional archives in disparate parts of the world were to ward against natural disaster or other potential loss, I’d be there; no problem. But to simply echo this drivel because you had no clue that the vast geographical majority of the US felt differently than you did and were so smug and unprepared for the inevitable outcome after eight years of (frankly) oppressive liberalism, then I have no use for you. Sorry Brewster, you’ve gone too far with all of this nonsense this time.

  9. David Fiore Sr

    I was planning to make a substantial donation to Internet Archive because I found it to be highly valuable for research and preservation. However, Internet Archive’s concerns about Donald Trump have been perceived to be yet another attack against him. And, indirectly, an attack against the 60 million citizens who voted for him to serve as their president. Donald Trump did not overthrow the federal government. He won the Electoral Vote as prescribed by law. The Internet Archive has only worsened the paranoia that has gripped some of our citizens as well as the divisiveness we are now experiencing. Furthermore, it implies a prejudice that should not exist in a resource that claims to be committed to different viewpoints. Therefore, I decided that I will not make a donation to Internet Archive and, accordingly, stop using the service for my research and studies.

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