Object Masking#

For legal and policy reasons, some objects stored in the archive can be made unavailable to the public. This restriction is implemented by the masking storage proxy.

Data model#

This proxy has its own PostgreSQL database of:

  • masking requests, identified by a private human-readable identifier (named the request’s “slug”), and a public opaque UUID,

  • for each request, a free-form message explaining the reason for the request, and a list of timestamped human-readable free-form history messages

  • for each request, a list of affected “extended SWHIDs” (ie. SWHIDs with extra types ori for origins and emd for Raw Extrinsic Metadata), each associated with a state among VISIBLE, PENDING_DECISION, or RESTRICTED

Requests are initially created with an empty set of SWHIDs, and SWHIDs are then upserted with their evolving states. Typically, all SWHIDs affected by a request will be added with state PENDING_DECISION shortly after a request is created, then each SWHID will be moved to either VISIBLE or RESTRICTED as the request is being processed.

If a request is withdrawn or rejected, the set of associated SWHIDs will be emptied, and the history messages kept.


When any method of the masking proxy is called, the proxy will first forward the call to its backend storage. For each object returned by the backend, the proxy then checks whether that object should be masked. In particular, this means that if an object is absent from the archive, then masking its own SWHID has no effect; The masking will still affect the ExtIDs and Raw Extrinsic Metadata objects targeting the masked object.

Objects are masked under any of these circumstances:

  • They intrinsically have a SWHID, and that SWHID has at least one non-VISIBLE status in the masking database

  • The object is an origin, origin visit, or origin visit status, whose origin URL is masked (via the extended SWHID swh:1:ori: followed by the sha1 hash of the URL)

  • The object is a Raw Extrinsic Metadata whose git-like SHA1 preceded by swh:1:emd: is an extended SWHID with non-VISIBLE status

  • The object is an ExtID or Raw Extrinsic Metadata, and its target is a masked object, even if the target object is missing from the archive

To help the common storage unit tests which happen on a very small dataset succeed, methods returning a random object from storage re-try the backend call up to 5 times when the backend call returns a masked object, and fall back to returning None. Retries should be very scarce under real-world conditions.

With the notable exception of ExtIDs and Raw Extrinsic Metadata, which we consider to be extensions of their target objects, the objects that reference a masked object are not masked themselves, and their attributes will still reference the SWHID of the referenced masked objects undisturbed. This makes the impact of masking an object as limited as possible, so that the feature can be applied liberally.

If the masking proxy notices that any object that would be returned is masked, it fails the whole method call, and returns a swh.storage.exc.MaskedObjectException. This exception has a masked attribute, which is a dictionary mapping the extended SWHIDs of every masked object that would have been returned to a list of all the masking request UUIDs and associated state that affect them. This allows clients to either display the exception to their user, or filter-out masked SWHIDs from the list of objects before calling the method again.