The world’s digital heritage is in danger, with serious gaps in in its protection, particularly during times of war or conflict.
The concept of destroying cultural assets isn’t new. Throughout history, warfare has damaged and destroyed assets vital to a nation’s cultural heritage and to its national identity. What’s new is that these artefacts are now digital, and becoming more so.
The physical destruction of archives, monuments, artwork and other cultural assets can be a by-product or a specific tactic of war. And while immediate physical damage is often very clear, the damage done to a nation’s identity—its history and cultural memory—can be irreparable.
While these attacks are easily seen, attacks on digital cultural heritage—the stories, the websites, the histories, the digital evidence of a nation—are less obvious, and the objects arguably more vulnerable. And it may not occur only during a time of obvious physical conflict, but during nation state against nation state conflict in cyberspace.