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HTTP 451 is the status code you will see on webpages which have been taken down
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HTTP 451 is the status code you will see on webpages which have been taken down

by AshwinDecember 25, 2015

If you are an observant user, chances are high that you might have come across the following codes at least once on the internet.

HTTP 404

HTTP 404, which stands for “Page Not Found” signifying that the URL is no longer available, and HTTP 403 which states “Forbidden”, which means you do not have access to the web page.

Other popular status codes are 500 (internal server error), and 301 (page moved permanently), when the URL has been shifted to a new one. The 404 code is particularly popular, and gave rise to a number of popular memes on the internet, especially ridiculing Internet Explorer.

These are status codes for the HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Transfer Protocol), which are universally used by every single website, to comply with web-standards. These codes are developed by Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

Sometimes a webpage which you may have visited earlier, may display the HTTP 404 status code. This is usually because the webmaster may have changed the URL, or because the webpage may have been taken down. Usually, the latter occurs due to legal reasons, when a complaint is lodged for a “takedown request”, stating why the party involved wants to pull the web page.

Sadly, the reasons behind the pull down is not revealed on such webpages. Instead users are left guessing, as to if they were on this webpage before or if the URL was correct, or has been deleted.

This is going to change, at least partially, in the future. The IETF has proposed a new status code, for the web, called HTTP 451. This new code will be displayed on the webpage, which formerly showed the 404 code.

But there is a big difference, in that the new 451 code, will only be shown, when the webpage in question, has been taken down for legal reasons. Additionally, it will also display the reason for the take down, and the party who filed for the page to be removed.

This is an example of the message (as given in the proposed web standard documentation).

HTTP 451 Unavailable For Legal Reasons

This request may not be serviced in the Roman Province of Judea due to the Lex Julia Majestatis, which disallows access to resources hosted on servers deemed to be operated by the People’s Front of Judea.

Techspot reports that the IEFT has voted to use the new status code, and that it some adjustments are being made to it. HTTP 451 should start appearing on websites in the near future.

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