Will Error Code “451” be the Censorship Code on the Internet?
Sounds like a plan!
Ray Bradbury’s fiction looks set to enter the structure of the internet, after a software developer has proposed a new HTTP status code inspired by Fahrenheit 451.
Tim Bray, a fan of Bradbury’s writing, is recommending to the Internet Engineering Task Force, which governs such choices, that when access to a website is denied for legal reasons the user is given the status code 451.
There are already a host of HTTP status codes, from the common 404 Not Found to 504 Gateway Timeout. The 451 idea follows a blogpost from Terence Eden, who found that his ISP had been ordered to censor the Pirate Bay when he was given an HTTP 403 Forbidden message, meaning that “the server understood the request, but is refusing to fulfil it”. In fact, Eden writes on his blog, it was not Pirate Bay that was preventing access but the government, after Britain’s high court issued an order to ISPs to block access to the filesharing site in April, so the response was “factually incorrect”, and a new code is needed to indicate “censorship”.
451, Bray believes, would work nicely, as it would provide a tribute to Bradbury as well as reminding users of the dystopian future predicted by the science fiction author. Bradbury died earlier this month, leaving behind an oeuvre numbering hundreds of short stories as well as the novels Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, which tells of a world where books are banned and burned and fireman don’t put fires out but start them.”
Pretty neat idea! I’d say, “Go for it!”