The 451 HTTP error code, first proposed in 2012 as a tribute to Ray Bradbury's classic novel is now an IETF standard and is the preferred error message for a server to send to a browser when content is blocked for legal reasons.
The proposal was approved by the IETF HTTP Working Group, after a long wrangle over both technical and philosophical reasons not to adopt it. But some servers implemented it anyway, and reported that it was a useful in practice.
“By its nature, you can't guarantee that all attempts to censor content will be conveniently labeled by the censor,” Nottingham explains. “Although 451 can be used both by network-based intermediaries (e.g., in a firewall) as well as on the origin Web server, I suspect it's going to be used far more in the latter case, as Web sites like Github, Twitter, Facebook and Google are forced to censor content against their will in certain jurisdictions.”
There’s still nothing stopping a government from forbidding the code’s usage, however, which is a serious but perhaps unavoidable limitation.
The HTTP 451 Error Code for Censorship Is Now an Internet Standard
Every year, VC Mary Meeker (previously) publishes her must-read Internet Trends Report, which comes as a powerpoint deck with hundreds of slides (you can watch her power through them in 30 minutes flat at the Re-Code conference).
Since January, Google has been pushing for a change to its extensions handling in Chrome; one casualty of that change is ability to block unwanted content before its loads, something that would effectively kill privacy tools and ad-blockers.
Young ones, gather round, and let Ole Grampa Doctorow tell you about the glory days, before the creation and deprecation of the <blink> tag, when tables were still a glimmer in a data-structure's eye, when a DOM advertised in the back pages of your weekly freesheet and CSS was a controversial DVD-scrambling system.
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