Web archive to preserve official Scottish sites for future reference

Websites of the past will be preserved for future reference. Picture: Rob McDougall
Websites of the past will be preserved for future reference. Picture: Rob McDougall
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A new web archive from National Records of Scotland will preserve key official websites to make them available for future generations.

The aim of the project is to preserve information which could otherwise be lost, making it accessible for members of the public now and historians in the future.

The new Web Continuity Service from National Records of Scotland (NRS) will archive and make available snapshots of the websites of organisations who already deposit records with NRS, including the Scottish Government, courts, public inquiries, public authorities and some private organisations.

The free service will allow users to see fewer broken links on the live websites which have been archived. This will help to maintain long-term access to important online information.

Tim Ellis, chief executive at NRS, said: “In an era of fake news where the authenticity of information is scrutinised and challenged, the Web Continuity Service will allow users to access accurate historical information, and make it clear when they are reading archived content.

“This new service allows us to preserve information for the future and keep it available now to the people who need it, supporting open and transparent government.”

Gordon Hobbs, information manager at the Scottish Parliament, said: “The web archive is helping us to think differently about our online presence, and how our users can access the information they need, be this current or historic.”

The service is operated by National Records of Scotland working with a commercial supplier, Internet Memory Research with a strong track record in this area. It will capture information in the public domain, regularly “crawling” websites after agreement with their owners to ensure the correct handling of any sensitive information, and intellectual property rights.

The first Internet Archive was established in San Fransisco in 1996 - the same year The Scotsman launched its first website, making it among the first newspapers to appear online.

As of October 2016, the Internet Archive collection topped 15 petabytes. Its web archive, the Wayback Machine, contains over 308 billion web captures.