The National Records of Scotland (NRS) has created a web archive to preserve key official websites and make them available for future generations.

The Web Continuity Service will help prevent the loss of information as sites are changed, by archiving and making available ‘snapshots’ of the websites of organisations who already deposit records with NRS – the Scottish Government, Scottish Courts, public inquiries in Scotland, public authorities and some private organisations.

As well as helping the researchers of the future, the new service – offered free of charge – will mean users see fewer broken links on the live websites which have been archived. This will help to maintain long-term access to important online information.

Tim Ellis, the chief executive of NRS and Keeper of the Records of Scotland, said: “In an era of ‘fake news’ where the authenticity of information is scrutinised and challenged, the Web Continuity Service will allow users to access accurate historical information, and make it clear when they are reading archived content.

“This new service allows us to preserve information for the future and keep it available now to the people who need it, supporting open and transparent government.”

The Scottish Parliament is already using the service. Gordon Hobbs, its information manager, said: “The web archive is helping us to think differently about our online presence, and how our users can access the information they need, be this current or historic.”

The service is operated by NRS working with a commercial supplier, Internet Memory Research. It will capture information in the public domain, regularly crawling websites after agreement with their owners to ensure the correct handling of any sensitive information, and intellectual property rights.