The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is pleased to release Amber, a free software tool for WordPress and Drupal that preserves content and prevents broken links. When installed on a blog or website, Amber can take a snapshot of the content of every linked page, ensuring that even if those pages are interfered with or blocked, the original content will be available.

“The Web’s decentralization is one of its strongest features,” said Jonathan Zittrain, faculty chair of the Berkman Center and George Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School. “But it also means that attempting to follow a link might not work for any number of reasons. Amber harnesses the distributed resources of the Web to safeguard it. By allowing a form of mutual assistance among websites, we can together ensure that information placed online can remain there, even amidst denial of service attacks or broad-based attempts at censorship.”

The release of Amber builds on an earlier proposal from Zittrain and Sir Tim Berners-Lee for a “mutual aid treaty for the Internet” that would enable operators of websites to easily bolster the robustness of the entire web. It also aims to mitigate risks associated with increasing centralization of online content. Increasingly fewer entities host information online, creating choke points that can restrict access to web content. Amber addresses this by enabling the storage of snapshots via multiple archiving services, such as the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and Perma.cc.

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