The cloud—on-demand access to a network of a shared pool of configurable computing resources—heralds unprecedented challenges for archivists as well as for records and information managers. Data, records, and archives are increasingly entrusted to Internet providers who offer on-demand online storage at a low cost, protecting materials with a level of security that no single organization can afford and maintaining them in formats compatible with any user’s system. However, the cloud environment is neither transparent nor regulated. Those who create, manage, appraise, control, and preserve these stored materials encounter problems related to ownership, provenance, and jurisdiction, among others, as they remain responsible for such materials without control and are accountable without knowledge.
This special issue explores the challenges presented by keeping data, records, and archives in the cloud, reports on research into possible solutions, examines existing and proposed policies, procedures, regulations, and legislation, and describes cases of adoption of cloud models, law, contractual agreements, and technological infrastructure. Several of the articles contained in this issue discuss the preliminary findings of research conducted in the context of the InterPARES Trust (ITrust) project (http://www.interparestrust.org). ITrust is a five-year (2013–18) multi-national, interdisciplinary research project exploring issues concerning digital data, records, and archives entrusted to the Internet. Its goal is to generate theoretical and methodological frameworks capable of supporting the development of local, national, and international policies, procedures, regulations, standards, and legislation and to ensure public trust grounded on the evidence of good governance, a strong digital economy, and a persistent digital memory. ITrust builds on the findings of the International Research into the Preservation of Authentic Records in Electronic Systems, a project carried out in three phases from 1998 through 2012 (http://www.interpares.org).
This special issue begins with an analysis of the ideas, beliefs, and practices associated with the concepts of authenticity and trust. Corinne Rogers, the project coordinator for ITrust, discusses the concept of authenticity as it applies to digital records and reports on the findings of research on the way in which records professionals ensure and verify authenticity in practice. While Rogers describes the findings of a quantitative study, Erik Borglund, an archival scholar from Mid-Sweden University and a researcher for the ITrust control domain of the European team, presents the findings of a qualitative study conducted in Sweden on archivists’ trust in the cloud. These two articles set the stage for the following four articles, which focus on specific issues raised by the adoption of a [End Page 91] cloud environment for data, records, and archives storage and access, and describe research conducted in the context of ITrust and its preliminary results.
In the first of these four articles, Marie Demoulin, a scholar of both civil and common law from the University of Montreal, Jessica Bushey, a doctoral candidate in archival science at the University of British Columbia, and Robert McLelland, a professional archivist for the Delta Museum and Archives Society—all of them researchers for the ITrust legal domain of the North American team—discuss cloud service agreements and boiler-plate contracts in light of records and archival requirements, specifically authenticity and trust. In the second article, Valerie Léveillé, an archival graduate research assistant, and Katherine Timms, an information standards specialist with Library and Archives Canada, both researchers for the ITrust access domain of the North American team, analyse business processes, workflows, and documentation of open government in the Canadian jurisdiction in the context of exploring the possibility of a universal framework. In the third article, Pat Franks, a records management scholar from San José State University and a researcher for the ITrust control domain of the North American team, analyses the results of a survey conducted to identify cloud retention and disposition challenges and the way to mitigate them. In the fourth article, two Croatian scholars from the University of Zagreb, Hrvoje Stancic and Arian Rajh, and an information technology architect from the Croatian Financial Agency—all of them researchers for the security domain of the ITrust European team—discuss the long-term preservation of digitally signed records in a...