Preserving media content in the face of censorship

OpenArchive is a free, open-source mobile application that securely uploads media content created on mobile phones to an online archive that is publicly accessible, helping ensure that journalists, activists, and citizens in repressive contexts are able to preserve media before it can be deleted or censored by authorities. With the rise of ubiquitous mobile devices, mobile media content has become both increasingly relied upon and important for both traditional media outlets as well as citizen journalists, especially for those operating in high-risk environments. At the same time, mobile media content can be fragile and ephemeral. Oftentimes, social media platforms act as the de facto place for such content to be housed. But these platforms are subject to state censorship and content takedowns from the companies themselves.

In this context, OpenArchive was created to route mobile media to user-created collections in an accessible public trust, mitigating the pitfalls of social media and state censors. Photos, video, and audio from mobile devices can be automatically sent to a secure, trustworthy, and remote storage service. The app unites and builds upon the work of a number of key related projects, including Creative Commons, the Internet Archive, Tor, and Guardian Project. Through this project, OpenArchive will conduct user research to identify and incorporate requested features, create an iOS version of the app, expand the archive’s storage and security capabilities, and increase awareness and adoption of the tool.