Google employee and creator of XML, Tim Bray, has proposed a new error message for the web. Rather than hiding censored websites behind a generic 403 error – “the server understood the request, but is refusing to fulfill it” – these websites would return 451 – “Unavailable For Legal Reasons.”
In his official proposal, released at the beginning of this month, Bray suggests that websites return detailed information about the particular censorship in play. For example:
He goes on to thank Ray Bradbury in the comments.
Moves like this are of vital importance to Internet freedom. When fools and potentates try to hide information, they should be held into account. That there is no “censored” bar already on the Internet is a testament to the network's ability to self-heal and route around idiocy.