India has blocked internet archival site Wayback Machine, according to India Today. Users trying to access the site have been receiving messages that say the block is “on the directions” of India’s Department of Telecom.
Wayback is an incredibly valuable tool and is essentially an Internet archive with 302 billion pages saved over the past two decades. India Today reports that the block “may even hit India’s attempt to root out corruption, doublespeak and is likely to make a number of government bodies less accountable to citizens.” The block seems to be patchy though, with some regions blocked, while others are reportedly able to get through.
While porn, torrenting, and file hosting sites are routinely blocked in India, Wayback Machine doesn’t fall into those categories. The site says it has reached out to authorities. “Multiple attempts to contact the Department of Telecom and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology have gone unanswered thus far,” the organisation said in statement. “Obviously, we are disappointed and concerned by this situation and are very eager to understand why it’s happening and see full access restored to archive.org.”
Wayback Machine works by trawling through millions of websites, and taking screenshots of them, which are then stored. The service allows users to see what a certain website looked like on a particular date, or to view old websites that may have been scrubbed from the Internet. It’s a useful tool which can be used to hold those in power accountable, especially when the websites that have been logged can be used as a trusted citation.