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Re: http status code for site blocked

From: L. Turetsky <lenny@aya.yale.edu>
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2002 23:58:30 +0900
Message-Id: <>
To: www-international@w3.org

Cheers to Barry and Tex for a very informative discussion.

These issues apply not only to government censors like China's, but to 
corporate firewalls and even "child safety" software like NetNanny and 
AOL's Parental Controls.

So I heartily agree with Tex's call for an HTTP code to be returned by the 
blocking firewall/router/whatnot. And that code should be followed by 
alternate content, such as what Toby described happens as his UAE ISP.

Barry Caplan wrote:
>If any router could and did that then there would be know way short of 
>encrypting every single transaction that what you got back came from where 
>you think it did. Which might not be such a bad idea anyway...

This is what SSL certificates do.

Barry is right that having a proxy return a status code violates the HTTP 
specification that the response code come from the server in the URL, but 
that's an academic point. Perhaps the return code should include a URL 
identifying the blocker (e.g., the IP address of the router/firewall, the 
name of the blocking software, the censor's name and address, 
what-have-you...) In practical terms this would permit children to complain 
to their parents about inappropriately blocked sites, or employees to 
inform their network admins of such situations. Perhaps the corporate 
firewall should block access to www.playboy.com, but it would be good to 
allow employees to protest the blocking of a particular page which has an 
interview with a competitor's CEO or whatnot.

The internet was designed with the idea of free flow of information from 
end-to-end as Lessig says, but that's when it was designed by DARPA for the 
use of the US only. The fact that intermediate point can block a connection 
is proof that the end-to-end philosophy doesn't really hold.

Barry also wrote:

>Quite simply, this is the appropriate policy that W3C should state if they 
>must state a policy at all:
>"No packets should be blocked except by the administrator of an autonomous 
>network, for packets destined to or from that network. Other packets 
>passing through for which another autonomous network is the ultimate 
>destination shall not be blocked or delayed by any device."

True enough. Unfortunately, the People's Republic of China considers itself 
to be the operator of an "autonomous network", as do AOL, most ISPs, 
employers and families. So, in essence, the above statement doesn't have 
much effect since the internet is a bunch of "autonomous networks".

Received on Monday, 16 December 2002 10:26:53 UTC

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