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Re: http status code for site blocked

From: John Cowan <jcowan@reutershealth.com>
Date: Wed, 4 Dec 2002 12:27:53 -0500 (EST)
Message-Id: <200212041743.MAA21953@mail2.reutershealth.com>
To: tex@XenCraft.com
Cc: www-international@w3.org (WWW International)

Tex Texin scripsit:

> This is all speculative for me at the moment, but assuming it is in fact
> blocked, it would be nice to have a status code for this other than page
> not found. 

Unfortunately, such a blocking proxy (if that is what's going on) is entirely
conformant with RFC 2616 (HTTP 1.1).  Note the last sentence of the following
paragraph:

# 10.4.4 403 Forbidden
# 
#    The server understood the request, but is refusing to fulfill it.
#    Authorization will not help and the request SHOULD NOT be repeated.
#    If the request method was not HEAD and the server wishes to make
#    public why the request has not been fulfilled, it SHOULD describe the
#    reason for the refusal in the entity.  If the server does not wish to
#    make this information available to the client, the status code 404
#    (Not Found) can be used instead.

So if the proxy wanted to tell you why you were being blocked, 403 Forbidden
would be appropriate; if not (as is surely the case), 404 Not Found is
appropriate.

> 1) Would proposing a status code for "access denied by local government"
> make sense? 

Only on the assumption that governments who are censoring what their people
see are proud of doing so and wish to advertise the fact to those same people.

> 2) Also, is there a way to look up which sites are blocked by China, or
> more generally by any government?
> (I imagine there are people making investments in promoting sites that
> cannot in fact be accessed.)

On the above assumption, there might be.

> 3) Is there a procedure/protocol/process for becoming unblocked?

Same answer.

> I don't want to address the political issues around this. I think it is
> important for the web to distinguish when a page is blocked vs. other
> causes, and for there to be a way to know which pages are blocked.

But is it important for the censor?  I think not.

-- 
My confusion is rapidly waxing          John Cowan
For XML Schema's too taxing:            jcowan@reutershealth.com
    I'd use DTDs                        http://www.reutershealth.com
    If they had local trees --          http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
I think I best switch to RELAX NG.
Received on Wednesday, 4 December 2002 12:31:16 GMT

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