Frequently Asked Questions

What is OpenArchive?

OpenArchive is a veteran research, usability, and development team dedicated to the ethical collection and long-term preservation of mobile media in the digital age. We conduct research and collaborate with human rights defenders and at-risk communities to create responsive, secure archival technologies dedicated to long-term preservation and interoperability.

The tools we build, like our app Save, help citizen reporters and eyewitnesses across the world preserve, protect, and amplify what they’ve documented on their phones by securely uploading content to online archives and secure self-run servers. Created by and for citizen journalists and human rights defenders, our distributed media ecosystem exists outside the prevalent corporate walled-gardens that can chill free speech. It promotes freedom of expression by protecting, authenticating, and offering access to and long-term preservation of at-risk community media.

What is Save?

Save (share, archive, verify, encrypt) is an easy-to-use app designed by OpenArchive to help you store, share, and amplify your mobile media while ensuring your identity remains protected. It's also free, open-source, and available for iOS and Android. Through the app, you can add metadata and Creative Commons licensing to your audio or visual mobile media, then send it over TLS and the privacy-focused Tor network to the Internet Archive or other private archives to be saved.

Save protects your freedom of speech by leveraging a suite of privacy-enhancing technologies to safeguard your media and identity in the event of internet shutdowns, surveillance, device confiscations, content takedowns, limited bandwidth, and data loss. It also assures continued access to your saved media in years to come.

What can Save do?

Save is committed to usability and digital inclusion, and, unlike other media-sharing tools, offers a suite of responsive features that streamline secure preservation based on participatory research and co-design with communities we serve. With Save you can:

Authenticate Media: With Save, you can be sure your media is always authenticated because you have full control—without interference from intermediaries—from phone to archive. And, when paired with Proofmode (available in Save for Android, iOS coming soon), you can even add sensor data to corroborate the metadata captured alongside your media.

Send Media via Secure Transit: Save always uses TLS (Transport Layer Security) to ensure in-transit security and encryption. And, when you enable Tor for mobile (either via Orbot: Tor for Android or Onion Browser for iOS ), you add an additional layer of protection to ensure no one can intercept your media as it travels from your phone to the Internet Archive or your server of choice.

Preserve Mobile Media for Long-Term Storage: When you use Save to archive your mobile media in a trusted repository committed to longevity and interoperability (such as the Internet Archive or OwnCloud), you ensure unobstructed access to your media for generations to come. This stands in stark contrast to popular social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

Communicate Your Intentions for Future Use: Through Save, you can grant access to your shared media and communicate your intentions for future use by easily generating a Creative Commons license allowing for others to reuse or remix your work.

Simplify Organizational Workflows: Save’s easy-to-use design allows teams, as well as individuals, to seamlessly streamline media from many phones into organized folders unique to each contributor.

Add Metadata and Flag Significant Content: Save lets you add metadata to your archived media like location, people, and notes. You can also flag certain media as “significant” as a reminder to yourself, or to prepare reviewers for what they will see.

Import Media from Other Apps: Save allows you to import and share media from other apps on your phone, including audio, notes, and pdfs.

Store Copies in Multiple Locations: With Save you can further protect your media by creating and storing multiple copies on different secure servers. Whether hosting locally or remotely, your data can be encrypted on the backend and only accessible by you and those you authorize.

View Progress and Prioritize Uploads: When storing media via Save, you can watch how much content has been uploaded and prioritize particular media over others.

What can’t Save do?

Although Save has many unique features, it can’t do everything. When using the app, please be aware of the following limitations:

Save does not provide storage or server space: You will need to set up your own WebDav-compatible server (such as Nextcloud, etc.), or use the Internet Archive (free) or DropBox to create and store your collections.

Save does not provide on-device encryption: Save does not store your media; it only stores thumbnails from your camera roll, which are not currently encrypted in the app. Once organized into projects and uploaded to the server, all media is sent over an encrypted connection. We recommend that you also encrypt your server for enhanced security.

Save does not delete original copies of media from your camera roll: Once media has been sent to a server, you can then delete the thumbnails from the Save app if you choose. The original content will remain in your camera roll (unless you remove it).

Save does not have an in-app killswitch: Uninstalling Save will remove all local copies of media/metadata stored in the app and all local configurations and settings, including account information.

Is OpenArchive the Internet Archive?

No, OpenArchive is in collaboration with the Internet Archive, but is an independent project.

The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library offering free universal access to books, movies, and music, as well as over 350 billion archived web pages.

OpenArchive is a project dedicated to the ethical collection and long-term preservation of mobile media. Save (share, archive, verify, encrypt) is the mobile application we’ve created to do this. Save enables people to send media to multiple places, including the Internet Archive and other destinations of their choice. This option enables people to create public or private media collections.

Why not social media?

Although social media platforms are an easy place to house mobile media content, these platforms lack critical security safeguards and are subject to state censorship and content takedowns from the companies themselves. Instead, use Save to avoid these pitfalls:

Social media often exposes at-risk sources: Although major social media platforms can amplify content by exposing it to a large audience, these platforms can also expose sources to unwanted identification. Individuals shown or otherwise implicated in videos, photos, or audio clips may be targeted on- or offline.

Social media can make it difficult to authenticate or verify media: Social media sites often strip metadata (info about where and how media was captured) from uploaded content. While this feature enhances privacy, the practice also makes media authentication and verification more difficult.

Media gets lost on social media platforms: Within a sea of content, it is difficult to contextualize or organize media for easy access in the future.

Social Media is not committed to long-term preservation: Companies moderate content, take down media, and go out of business.

Who is Save for?

We designed Save with and for individuals and organizations across the globe, including:

Human rights organizations collecting evidence of violations;

Academic organizations accepting targeted or sensitive media from the field;

Journalists and news organizations receiving sensitive media from vulnerable sources whose identity and personal details must be protected from interception

Archivists and librarians working to create community collections at the Internet Archive or other digital libraries; and

Individuals, freelance documentarians, and citizen journalists/eyewitnesses interested in organizing and curating their own mobile media collections.

Why use Save by OpenArchive?

Save helps protect against many common threats, including:

Loss of data: Digital and analog data both face ongoing threats, such as attack (e.g. theft, manipulation, surveillance, sabotage, or intentional destruction), loss (e.g. hard drive failure or misplaced USB stick), and incidental destruction (e.g. natural disaster, water-based damage, or mold). Save helps protect against these threats by providing people with a way to create multiple backups of important data and distribute them across geographically and jurisdictionally diverse servers.

Single point of failure: Keeping data in just one place increases the likelihood that any of the above scenarios may lead to an inability to use or access important data. With Save, you can connect to multiple storage servers so that if one fails, the data will still be available elsewhere.

Network surveillance and censorship: People often want to protect their content, identity, and/or activities from those who may be watching them (like governments, private companies, or untrustworthy individuals). Save is designed to run over TLS (Transport Layer Security) and the Tor network, which promotes privacy by encrypting data transfers and protecting against traffic analysis.

Inauthentic or unverified content: Unverified content can lead to false conclusions and damage credibility. Save incorporates ProofMode, a feature that supports robust verification and authentication practices.

Vulnerable network connections: Sharing data online can make it susceptible to interception and surveillance. Save hardens your network connection by always employing a TLS (Transport Layer Security) connection and ensuring it supports the latest TLS version.

How can I support OpenArchive?

Our work is critical and ongoing. If you would like to help fund our efforts, you can now make a tax-deductible donation thanks to our fiscal sponsor, Media Alliance.

There are other ways you can help, too. Please contact us if you're interested in volunteering or providing in-kind expertise to advance human rights through secure digital media preservation. We’d love to hear from you!