BuyDomains blocked

Looks like domain name marketplace BuyDomains.com has again been blocked by certain ISPs and mobile internet providers in India. (Hat-tip: Abhishek) We have so far checked on over half-a-dozen service providers across five cities. Here are the details:

Delhi

Airtel, mobile, not blocked
MTNL, wireline, blocked

Kolkata

Alliance Broadband, wireline, blocked
Tata Photon dongle, blocked

Mumbai

Global Net, wireline, not blocked
Vodafone, mobile, not blocked

Pune

You Broadband, wireline, blocked
Hathway, wireline, blocked

Coimbatore

BSNL, wireline, not blocked
Airtel, mobile, not blocked

The infuriating part is the message that’s displayed:

“The url has been blocked under instructions of the Competent Government Authority or in compliance to the orders of Hon’ble Court.”

Why can’t they just name the government department or court order that issued the directive to block this url, or at the very least the reason for blocking?

However, this isn’t the first time BuyDomains has faced this predicament. It had been blocked back in August 2012 as well by Airtel, with an almost identical message displayed to visitors. At the time, another domain marketplace Fabulous had also been blocked, along with several proxy sites, including Kproxy. A month before this, MTNL had also blocked the popular domain name marketplace Sedo.co.uk with a similar placeholder message. We can understand that the government might have directed ISPs to check proxy sites as they can allow users to access sites blocked by it, but why are ISPs like Airtel selectively blocking domain name registration sites?

It’s worth noting that the BuyDomains url was also part of the list of blocked sites published by You Broadband at the start of last year. Full list here.

HTTP 451 error code

Late last year, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has officially approved the HTTP 451 error code “an HTTP Status Code to Report Legal Obstacles”. This error code was supposed to 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.

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).

Report The Blocks To Us

If you know of any other ISP which has blocked BuyDomains, do let us know in the comments below. Please mention your location and ISP, and add a screenshot of the block in the comments below.

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