Error Code 451

by on June 25, 2012 · 0 comments

in American Empire

by Horace Boothroyd III /Daily Kos

There are some places we are not allowed to go on the internet. Sometimes when censorship is imposed by the government the error message should be Error Code 451. This is the idea of Google’s Tim Bray.

The number 451 refers to Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Since we all have read this text.


You haven’t read it?

Drop everything and run to the library before it is too late!

To give you a taste here are some quotes from the book.

“A book is a loaded gun in the house next door…Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?”
? Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

“If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, topheavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they fell stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.”
? Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

“These are all novels, all about people that never existed, the people that read them it makes them unhappy with their own lives. Makes them want to live in other ways they can never really be.”
? Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Draft of proposal to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)

Government-imposed online censorship has become increasingly prevalent over the past few years. And the current legislative trends from governments around the world point to a future filled with blocked websites. But simply stopping this from happening is only one part of the battle. When censorship does happen, we need a sign that clearly tells us that that’s the reason for a site’s inaccessibility.

Enter Tim Bray, a software developer at Google who has proposed a solution: a “451? error code that displays anytime you visit a site blocked by the government. The number 451 is in honor of late author Ray Bradbury, whose science fiction classic Fahrenheit 451, first published in 1950, warned of a dystopian world defined by government-imposed censorship (in the form of burning any house that contains books).

“We can never do away entirely with legal restrictions on freedom of speech. On the other hand, I feel that when such restrictions are imposed, they should be done so transparently; for example, most civilized people find Britain’s system of superinjunctions loathsome and terrifying,” said Bray in an interview with the Guardian. “While we may agree on the existence of certain restrictions, we should be nervous whenever we do it; thus the reference to the dystopian vision of Fahrenheit 451 may be helpful. Also, since the Internet exists in several of the many futures imagined by Bradbury, it would be nice for a tip of the hat in his direction from the Net, in the year of his death.”

I’m not seeing a way that we can actively support this. Is there a way we can petition the IETF to have this come about? I know there are petition generation sites we can use but would that entity accept a petition?

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