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Open rights group seeks to add new error message to cite government censorship online

August 23, 2013

The U.K.-based Open Rights Group is seeking to implement a new Internet standard, adding a "451 Unavailable" error message to the already existing "404" and "403" pages that users can see online. The purpose of the new warning wouldn't indicate a technical error, instead signaling restricted access to a page by government officials.

According to Digital Trends, if the new error message were to be approved it wouldn't always signal a breach of open and transparent government efforts, but also legal censorship due to privacy or security concerns. Websites are already blocked in some nations for these reasons, the warning would help users understand why their access to such a site is blocked.

These efforts would enhance transparency and open government efforts, but this task falls mostly on the shoulders of officials themselves. Some towns, counties and cities can embrace the tenets of transparency by investing in high-quality legislative management solutions from IQM2 to help boost the availability and access to meeting minutes, local budgets and other key information the public often seeks out through online data portals.