Nations are now spying on internet users who try to maim or insight other people against government’s decisions. Fortunately, your website will now signal you when the government tries to censor it. Ideally, many bloggers find themselves in hot soup after publishing restricted content.
A number of status codes are served by the internet. The codes are numbered from 100s to the 500s, to let you know when something goes wrong, such as server downtime, to keep you from getting to a given Web page. You’re likely familiar with the common 404 error message that tells you a page cannot be found. It isn’t always easy, however, to work out whether a Web page is down because of technical hiccups or governmental meddling. That’s where the new 451 code comes in.
The code is up and running because it was approved by internet standards – Internet Engineering Steering Group. The new HTTP code differentiates between Web pages that cannot be shown for technical reasons and others that are unavailable for non-technical reasons, such as censorship. The Internet has long been a target of censors. Governments in the European bloc force Internet service providers to restrict access to websites linking to pirated content, China has a “Great Firewall” that heavily restricts the Web, and countries including Russia and South Korea are known for cracking down on access.
Mark Nottingham, chair of the group of developers who oversee the Web’s core protocol known as HTTP, explained in a blog post while the existing 403 error status code says “Forbidden,” it does not specify whether there are legal reasons for restricting content.
However, status code 451 — a hat tip to “Fahrenheit 451,” the classic Ray Bradbury tale about a futuristic society fixated on book-burning — can now be used to distinguish pages unavailable due to censorship.
“As censorship became more visible and prevalent on the Web, we started to hear from sites that they’d like to be able to make this distinction,” Nottingham said. In addition, some organizations said they would like to be able to search the Web for pages containing a censorship-based error code in order to catalog examples of censorship.
The 451 code will be used on Web servers by network-based intermediaries. On the other side, websites like Twitter, Facebook, Google and Github will be forced to censor content in certain countries and jurisdictions.
“In some jurisdictions,” Nottingham wrote, “I suspect that censorious governments will disallow the use of 451, to hide what they’re doing. We can’t stop that (of course), but if your government does that, it sends a strong message to you as a citizen about what their intent is. That’s worth knowing about, I think.” Reports cnet.
Thanks to the code, your website will now signal you when the government tries to censor it.