Wayback Machine’s 485 billion web pages blocked by Russian government order
An unintended consequence of archive.org using HTTPS for connections.
The Internet Archive—including its Wayback Machine, which currently stores 485 billion snapshots of the world’s web pages at different dates—is inaccessible for some users in Russia, as a post on theGlobal Voices site explains. This is the result of a blocking order from the country’s Attorney General, under legislation originally designed to protect minors from pornography sites, sexual abuse sites, and sites that provide details about drug use and suicide, but later extended to cover sites advocating “extremist activities” too.
The Attorney General’s order is to block a single page held by the Wayback Machine—one called “Solitary Jihad in Russia,” which contains information about the “theory and practice of partisan resistance,” as Global Voices reports. Since the Internet Archive site uses HTTPS by default for its connections, Russian ISPs are unable identify which page is being requested by their users, and thus whether it is the one subject to the new ban. Mindful of the consequences of ignoring the Attornery General’s order, some have responded by blocking the entire archive.org domain. As more sites move to HTTPS by default, this problem may become more widespread in Russia, as well as in other countries that seek to block specific web pages.
The Internet Archive is not alone in encountering problems caused by Russia’s increasingly restrictive Internet laws. Last month, the country’s communications watchdog threatened to fine Facebook, Google and Twitter for failing to comply with a 2014 “blogger’s law,” which requires owners of accounts receiving more than 3,000 visitors a day to be registered with the Russian government. The US companies were also warned that they could face web blocks if they refused to delete from their sites “information containing calls to participate in mass rioting, extremist activities.”