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Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online

An HTTP Status Code For Censorship? 369

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can't-get-there-from-here dept.
New submitter Tryfen writes "UK ISPs are being forced to block The Pirate Bay. One is using 'HTTP 403 Forbidden' to tell users that they cannot access the site. From the article: 'However, chief among my concerns is the technical way this censorship is implemented. At the moment, my ISP serves up an HTTP 403 error.' ... As far as I am concerned, this response is factually incorrect. According to the W3C Specifications: "The 4xx class of status code is intended for cases in which the client seems to have erred."' So, should there be a specific HTTP status code to tell a user they are being censored?"
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An HTTP Status Code For Censorship?

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  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @06:18PM (#40270677)
    Quite a lot, actually. Censorship isn't always entirely secret. Sometimes it can actually achieve great popular support, when the population believes that it is enforcing morality. I'd guess the biggest reason for faking an error rather than admitting censorship is actually accountability - it reduces the chance of detection should one of the list-editors screw up and block something innocent. Take the Virgin Killer incident - most ISPs served up a fake 404 error for that. If it'd been just a minor site, rather than wikipedia, it might never have been noticed.
  • Re:HTTP 451 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lightknight (213164) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @06:23PM (#40270709) Homepage

    I nominate '703 - Your government is being a twat.'

    Some others:
    701 - Your ISP is being a twat.
    702 - Your organization is being a twat.
    704 - Your ISP is being a twat, and has messed with your DNS request, sending you to a spamvertizement for the domain requested.
    705 - Your ISP is throttling / packet shaping the living hell out of your connection.
    706 - Variant HTML requested (mobile, Flash-free....lots of flags in here).
    707 - The current server time (in ticks since the epoch) & the server's time zone.

  • Thailand (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FRiC (416091) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @06:26PM (#40270735) Homepage

    Thailand used to have a huge graphical image on a special server for censored websites. Any access on a censored URL would be forwarrded to that image. Apparently the load was so high the server would constantly crash, and eventually they deleted the image, so you get a 404 error. Now they got smarter and just display a text message telling you the website is censored by the government.

  • China Does It (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tobiah (308208) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @06:28PM (#40270741)

    Many of the services/messages blocked in China come with explicit warnings that they have attempted something illegal. And some don't.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09, 2012 @07:15PM (#40271023)

    No it is not, because the server *is* willing to fulfil it, but never gets the request. I think there shouldn't be any status code whatsoever for this, both on the principle that censorship is wrong and shouldn't be enshrined in RFCs and on the principle that the ISP should under no circumstance be meddling with the data stream; if they can't give you the page they should just drop the connection.
    But if we have to have a status code for this, 1984 would be the obvious choice. The fact that it's four digits rather than three is a bonus: it emphasises its wrongness.

  • Re:666 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @09:17PM (#40271579)
    In Judaism the number six is associated with imperfection, which is where the number 666 originally comes from. The number seven is associated with God. The author of Revelation was a Jewish Christian who used the number 666 to indicate the failings of this number. The perfect number would have been 777, which would have been the number for God three times (with three being the number for holiness). However, the number of the beast was 666, which is imperfection claiming holiness...or another way of looking at it the Beast is completely (3 times) incomplete (the number 6).
  • by nabsltd (1313397) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @10:25PM (#40271819)

    It's not accurate because the server didn't even recieve the request. The request was intercepted in transit and blocked by third party.

    The "502 Bad Gateway" seems to be the correct code for the behavior. The definition [w3.org] may not be 100% accurate in that it implies the proxy (which is what this censorship is) actually received a reply from the target server.

    It would be quite funny if an ISP set the following response:
    305 Use Proxy
    Location: https://tpb.pirateparty.org.uk/ [pirateparty.org.uk]

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