UK Web Archive blog

Information from the team at the UK Web Archive, the Library's premier resource of archived UK websites


News and views from the British Library’s web archiving team and guests. Posts about the public UK Web Archive, and since April 2013, about web archiving as part as non-print legal deposit. Editor-in-chief: Peter Webster (Engagement and Liaison Manager). Read more

25 July 2014

Special Collection – Tour de France comes to Yorkshire

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As curator for sport in the British Library I have had a pretty exciting time in recent years, with plenty of sporting mega-events hitting the headlines in the UK, including the London Olympic Games and recently the Tour de France starting In Yorkshire.

The latter was celebrated by the Library in a number of ways: several members of staff actually biked from St Pancras to our Yorkshire site in Boston Spa (a two-day; 200 mile journey); while I (taking the train!) helped to create a small exhibition of cycling-related collections items in cases close to the newly refurbished Boston Spa reading room. Here I am with my colleague Robert Davies in front of the exhibition.

As with most of the significant events taking place in this country, the web archiving team wanted to make a record of the Tour of Yorkshire’s online presence for future researchers, so I was given a watching brief for relevant websites.



The Grand Depart
Everyone now knows that the Grand Depart was a resounding success in attracting enthusiastic spectators all along its route from Leeds to the Mall in London. The Tour organisers expected three million people to line the roads; they achieved more than double that! I anticipated a great response (similar to the success of the torch relay in 2012) so I was very keen to ensure that we archive the many different websites of the local councils and tourist offices through whose boroughs and counties the tour would pass. Many of these web sites had huge amounts of information on them, from details of local campsites, guest houses and B&Bs to special brochures with interactive maps and lists of events connected to the Tour. Opportunities for future tourism were clearly being optimised.

A mega event
It had to be borne in mind that the Grand Depart was not just a special event for the UK but formed part of a larger sociological and anthropological phenomenon: i.e., the mega-event, a phenomenon which is a growing area of research in a number of subject areas – not only in sport, where the development of organisations like the IOC and FIFA are of interest to sports sociologists and historians – but to economists and cultural observers. The local activity encouraged by such events, like the Tour-associated cultural festivals, and educational projects bear witness to their wide-ranging social impact.

Which websites to archive?
So all this had to be recorded if possible. Add to this the day-by-day; hour-by-hour reports of media organisations like broadcasters and newspapers and there were clearly a large number of websites waiting to be gathered. One aspect did seem to be missing, and that was the protest sites, which tend to be much in evidence with events like the Olympic Games. Contrary to this, most Tour websites were celebrating the Tour in every way possible. Where they did echo the Olympics was in their keen embracing of the successful outcomes of the latter - such as volunteering - with Asda sponsoring a volunteering website which called for route and crossing marshals, ‘dignitary managers’ and coordinators of all kinds.

The riders
The websites of the riders themselves proved problematic at first, as it was not clear until almost the last minute who was going to ride. In the end, as we know, Sir Bradley Wiggins bowed out, but we made sure that we kept a close eye on Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish, as well as the UK based teams like Team Sky, The British Cycling Organisation and the Tour de France organisation itself. It was a huge disappointment to see British hopes being dashed by falls but we can now follow Chris Froomes twitter feed, from his original expressions of excitement to his reports on his MRI scans ‘confirmed fractures to the left wrist and right hand’. While on his Facebook page, Mark Cavendish displays a picture of himself fresh from the operating theatre! Sad, but interesting, times.

The collection
Websites are marvellous research sources for the study of sport in particular. With their aid you can observe events as they take place from day to day, and get a marvellous feel for the atmosphere surrounding these exciting occasions. The process of archiving the Tour sites is not over. In the aftermath of such events the sites will often sum up their experiences, and others may even spring up in response to what has taken place. So the watching brief is certainly not over!

By Gill Ridgley, Lead Curator, Sociological and Cultural Studies, The British Library

23 July 2014

First World War Centenary – an online legacy in partnership with the HLF

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Earlier this year, we at the UK Web Archive were delighted to reach an agreement with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to enable the archiving of a very large and significant set of websites relating to the Centenary of the First World War.

Throughout the Centenary and beyond, we will be working with the HLF in order to take archival copies of the websites of all HLF-funded First World War Centenary projects, and to make them available to users in the Open UK Web Archive. The first of these archived sites are already available in the First World War special collection but we hope that this will eventually lead to more than 1,000.

HLF Funding
HLF is funding First World War projects throughout the Centenary, ranging from small community projects to major museum redevelopments. Grants start at £3,000 and funding is available through four different grants programmes: First World War: then and now (grants of £3,000 - £10,000), Our Heritage (grants of £10,000 - £100,000), Young Roots (Grants of £10,000 - £50,000 for projects led by young people) and Heritage Grants (grants of more than £100,000).


Include your website
If you have HLF funding for a First World War Centenary project, please send the URL (web address) to with your project reference number.

If you have a UK-based WW1 website NOT funded by HLF we would still encourage you to add it for permanent archiving through our Nominate form.

This set of archived websites will form a key part of our wider Centenary collection, and capture an important legacy of this most significant of anniversaries.

By Jason Webber, Web Archiving Engagement and Liaison Officer, The British Library

21 July 2014

A right to be remembered

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A notice placed in a Spanish newspaper 16 years ago, relating to an individual’s legal proceedings over social security debts, appeared many years later in Google’s search results. This led to the recent landmark decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to uphold the Spanish data protection regulator’s initial ruling against Google – who were asked to remove the index and stop any future access to the digitised newspaper article by searching for the individual’s name.

Right to be forgotten
This “right to be forgotten” has been mentioned frequently since, a principle that an individual shall be able to remove traces of past events in their life from the Internet or other records. The “right to be forgotten” is a concept which has generated a great deal of legal, technical and moral wrangling, and is taken into account in practice but not (yet) enforced explicitly by law. As a matter of fact, the ECJ did not specifically find that there is a ‘right to be forgotten’ in the Google case, but applied existing provisions in the EU Data Protection Directive, and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to respect for private and family life.

Implications to UK Law
In the UK Web Archive our aim is to collect and store information from the Internet and keep that for posterity. There is a question, therefore on how the ECJ decision implicates web archiving?

To answer this question, we would like to point to our existing notice and takedown policy which allows the withdrawal of public access to, or removal of deposited material under specific circumstances.

There is at present no formal and general “right to be forgotten” in UK law, on which a person may demand withdrawal of the lawfully archived copy of lawfully published material, on the sole basis that they do not wish it to be available any longer. However, the Data Protection Act 1998 is applied as the legal basis for withdrawing material containing sensitive personal data, which may cause substantial damage or distress to the data subject. Our policy is in line with the Information Commissioner's Office's response to the Google ruling, which recommend a focus on "evidence of damage and distress to individuals" when reviewing complaints.

Links only, not data
It is important to recognise that the context of the ECJ’s decision is Google’s activities in locating, indexing and making available links to websites containing information about an individual. It is not about the information itself and the court did not consider the blocking or taking down access to the newspaper article.

The purpose of Legal Deposit is to protect and ensure the “right to be remembered” by keeping snapshots of the UK internet as the nation’s digital heritage. Websites archived for Legal Deposit are only accessible within the Legal Deposit Libraries’ reading rooms and the content of the archive is not available for search engines. This significantly reduces the potential damage and impact to individuals and the libraries’ exposure to take-down requests.

Our conclusion is that the Google case does not significantly change our current notice and take-down policy for non-print Legal Deposit material. However, we will review our practice and procedures to reflect the judgement, especially with regard to indexing, cataloguing and resource discovery based on individuals’ names.

By Helen Hockx-Yu, Head of Web Archiving, The British Library

* I would like to thank my colleague Lynn Young, British Library’s Records Manager, whose various emails and internal papers provide much useful information for this blog post.