wordpress blog stats
Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

HTTP 451 error code now the standard for legally blocked content

https://www.flickr.com/photos/doctorow/16182961310

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has officially approved the HTTP 451 error code “an HTTP Status Code to Report Legal Obstacles”, reports NDTV. This error code should now ideally be displayed instead of “404 Page not found”, when blocked for legal reasons.

Responses using this status code should include the explanation in the response body about the details of the legal demand, the party making it, the applicable legislation or regulation, and which people it applies to. An example provided by the IETF:

HTTP/1.1 451 Unavailable For Legal Reasons

Link: ; rel=”blocked-by”

Content-Type: text/html

Unavailable For Legal Reasons

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Unavailable For Legal Reasons

This request may not be serviced in the Roman Province of Judea due to the Lex Julia Majestatis, which disallows access to resources hosted on servers deemed to be operated by  the People’s Front of Judea.

Note that the use of 451 status code does not imply if the content has been taken down, instead it just informs the user that they are restricted from accessing the content. By extension, the server imposing the restriction might not be the origin server, but ISPs and search engines which are legally asked to stop providing access to certain content. This means users could simply use a foreign proxy, a virtual private network or Tor to access the data (as is the case with most blocks).

It’s also worth noting that, despite the new status code, blocking parties might not use it, either because they dont have legal permission to reveal the block, or because they don’t want to. For example, the Cleanfeed Anti-Child-Abuse initiative in the UK, makes it necessary to declare 404 Not Found as error code for the block, for blocking child abuse images hosted outside the country. Similarly, when porn was banned in India, most users received little more than a blank page on the blocked websites with certain ISPs, when a 404 Not Found should have been easy to implement.

Interestingly, the idea of using 451 Unavailable for Legal Reasons was first suggested back in 2012 as a tribute to Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451, which presents a dystopian American society, where books are outlawed and burnt.

MediaNama’s Take: 403 Forbidden is too vague, and 404 Not Found is misleading; so as far as legally blocked content goes, displaying 451 Unavailable for Legal Reasons should help keeping the Internet more transparent. Given that its an internet standard, we hope the likes of Google and Facebook will soon adopt this error code to help users differentiate between what’s legally blocked and what’s generally unavailable (due to region etc.).

Image source: Flickr user Cory Doctorow

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Written By

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

Views

News

When news that Walmart would soon accept cryptocurrency turned out to be fake, it also became a teachable moment.

News

The DSCI's guidelines are patient-centric and act as a data privacy roadmap for healthcare service providers.

News

In this excerpt from the book, the authors focus on personal data and autocracies. One in particular – Russia.  Autocracies always prioritize information control...

News

By Jai Vipra, Senior Resident Fellow at Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy The use of new technology, including facial recognition technology (FRT) by police...

News

By Stella Joseph, Prakhil Mishra, and Yash Desai The Government of India circulated proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 (“E-Commerce Rules”) which...

You May Also Like

News

Rajesh Kumar* doesn’t have many enemies in life. But, Uber, for which he drives a cab everyday, is starting to look like one, he...

News

By Aroon Deep and Aditya Chunduru You’re reading it here first: Twitter has complied with government requests to censor 52 tweets that mostly criticised...

Advert

135 job openings in over 60 companies are listed at our free Digital and Mobile Job Board: If you’re looking for a job, or...

News

Google has released a Google Travel Trends Report which states that branded budget hotel search queries grew 179% year over year (YOY) in India, in...

MediaNama is the premier source of information and analysis on Technology Policy in India. More about MediaNama, and contact information, here.

© 2008-2021 Mixed Bag Media Pvt. Ltd. Developed By PixelVJ

Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Name:*
Your email address:*
*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide

© 2008-2021 Mixed Bag Media Pvt. Ltd. Developed By PixelVJ