Four weeks after banning Wikipedia, Britain's child pornography blacklist has led one ISP to ban the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, everyone's favorite 85 billion-page time-waster of web history that dates back to 1996.
According to multiple customers of Demon Internet, owned by British telecom company Thus, via an article in The Register (UK), the London-based ISP is blocking access to all sites stored in the archive. All 85 million.
So when you try to query the Wayback Machine, you are met with classic 404 "not found" error pages. The URLs reveal the truth, indicating that the pages are generated by a web filter based on the blacklist compiled by the Internet Watch Foundation, a government-backed organization charged with policing online pornography.
Thanks to the across-the-board ban, that means the user can't even see archived pages of the BBC, Parliament, the United Nations, the Internet Watch Foundation, Demon Internet, and Thus.
Oh, the irony.
For now, the ban isn't airtight, and at least one customer accessed the archive from his Vodafone mobile internet service, according to the article. Still, they clearly didn't learn from the Wikipedia-banning debacle just a month ago, in which six UK ISPs censored the Wikipedia entry dedicated to Virgin Killer, a mid-1970s record album from German heavy metal band The Scorpions. In classic '70s fashion, the album's original cover depicts a naked prepubescent girl.
In response to the page being added to the blacklist, the six ISPs began routing all Wikipedia traffic through "a small number of transparent proxy servers, and in a roundabout way this resulted in Wikipedia banning edits from large swathes of the UK," since multiple editors seemed to be coming from the same IP range, the article reports.
After complaints, the company relented. But will the Wayback machine have the same sway as the Wikipedia community?