A Supplementary Tool for Web-archiving Using Blockchain Technology

De Villiers, John E.
Calitz, André P.
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LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg
The usefulness of a uniform resource locator (URL) on the World Wide Web is reliant on the resource being hosted at the same URL in perpetuity. When URLs are altered or removed, this results in the resource, such as an image or document, being inaccessible. While web-archiving projects seek to prevent such a loss of online resources, providing complete backups of the web remains a formidable challenge. This article outlines the initial development and testing of a decentralised application (DApp), provisionally named Repudiation Chain, as a potential tool to help address these challenges presented by shifting URLs and uncertain web-archiving. Repudiation Chain seeks to make use of a blockchain smart contract mechanism in order to allow individual users to contribute to web-archiving. Repudiation Chain aims to offer unalterable assurance that a specific file and its URL existed at a given point in time—by generating a compact, non-reversible representation of the file at the time of its non-repudiation. If widely adopted, such a tool could contribute to decentralisation and democratisation of web-archiving
web-archiving, blockchain, trusted timestamping, non-repudiation, cryptographic hash functions, Merkle trees, DApps, smart contracts
De Villiers, J. E., & Calitz, A. (2020). A supplementary tool for web-archiving using blockchain technology. The African Journal of Information and Communication (AJIC), 25, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.23962/10539/29194