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An HTTP Status Code to Report Legal Obstacles
draft-tbray-http-legally-restricted-status-05

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Last updated: 2014-12-16
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Network Working Group                                            T. Bray
Internet-Draft                                                Textuality
Updates: 2616 (if approved)                            December 16, 2014
Intended status: Standards Track
Expires: June 19, 2015

             An HTTP Status Code to Report Legal Obstacles
             draft-tbray-http-legally-restricted-status-05

Abstract

   This document specifies a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) status
   code for use when resource access is denied as a consequence of legal
   demands.

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at http://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/.

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on June 19, 2015.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2014 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Requirements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   3.  451 Unavailable For Legal Reasons . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   4.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   5.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   6.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   Appendix A.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4

1.  Introduction

   This document specifies a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) status
   code for use when a server operator has a received a legal demand to
   deny access to a resource.

   This status code may be used to provide transparency in circumstances
   where issues of law or public policy affect server operations.  This
   transparency may be beneficial both to these operators and to end
   users.

   [RFC4924] discusses the forces working against transparent operation
   of the Internet; these clearly include legal interventions to
   restrict access to content.  As that document notes, and as Section 4
   of [RFC4084] states, such restrictions should be made explicit.

   Feedback should occur on the ietf-http-wg@w3.org mailing list,
   although this draft is NOT a work item of the IETF HTTPbis Working
   Group.

2.  Requirements

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this
   document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

3.  451 Unavailable For Legal Reasons

   This status code indicates that the server is denying access to the
   resource as a consequence of a legal demand.

   The server in question may not be an origin server.  This type of
   legal demand typically most directly affects the operations of ISPs
   and search engines.

   Responses using this status code SHOULD include an explanation, in
   the response body, of the details of the legal demand: the party

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   making it, the applicable legislation or regulation, and what classes
   of person and resource it applies to.  For example:

   HTTP/1.1 451 Unavailable For Legal Reasons
   Content-Type: text/html

   <html>
    <head><title>Unavailable For Legal Reasons</title></head>
    <body>
     <h1>Unavailable For Legal Reasons</h1>
     <p>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.</p>
    </body>
   </html>

   The use of the 451 status code implies neither the existence nor non-
   existence of the resource named in the request.  That is to say, it
   is possible that if the legal demands were removed, a request for the
   resource still might not succeed.

   Note that in many cases clients can still access the denied resource
   by using technical countermeasures such as a VPN or the Tor network.

4.  Security Considerations

4.1.  451 Unavailable for Legal Reasons

   The 451 status code is optional; clients cannot rely upon its use.
   It is possible that certain legal authorities may wish to avoid
   transparency, and not only demand the restriction of access to
   certain resources, but also avoid disclosing that the demand was
   made.

5.  IANA Considerations

   The HTTP Status Codes Registry should be updated with the following
   entries:

   o  Code: 451

   o  Description: Unavailable for Legal Reasons

   o  Specification: [ this document ]

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6.  Normative References

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [RFC4084]  Klensin, J., "Terminology for Describing Internet
              Connectivity", BCP 104, RFC 4084, May 2005.

   [RFC4924]  Aboba, B. and E. Davies, "Reflections on Internet
              Transparency", RFC 4924, July 2007.

Appendix A.  Acknowledgements

   Thanks to Terence Eden, who observed that the existing status code
   403 was not really suitable for this situation, and suggested the
   creation of a new status code.

   Thanks also to Ray Bradbury.

   The author takes all responsibility for errors and omissions.

Author's Address

   Tim Bray
   Textuality

   Email: tbray@textuality.com
   URI:   http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/

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