Do We Need An Error Message For Banned Websites?

British activists are fighting for an “Error 451” message to display on websites that have been banned by governments.

Do We Need An Error Message For Banned Websites?

The homepage for the 451 Unavailable campaign gives a wink and a nod to Monty Python’s Life of Brian, but its mission is much more serious: creating an Internet-wide error page for sites that are censored by governments. Based in Great Britain, 451 Unavailable is calling for error pages to clearly display why certain sites have been banned–and to also create a website clearly listing that information.

Great Britain is embarking on an ambitious web censorship project of its own. The country is planning to filter pornographic websites, using technology provided by Chinese firm Huawei. According to the team behind 451, “courts can require ISPs to block access to certain websites. Showing the Error 451 message makes it clear when a website has been blocked after a court order. In the United Kingdom, the websites that have been blocked so far have linked to content that infringes copyright. In some countries, websites that contain material criticizing the government are blocked. Access to the online work of journalists and opposition groups can be restricted.”

[Image: Flickr user thecrazyfilmgirl,]