Re: Fun with proof by analogy, was Re: Mojibake on my Web pages

From: Peter Kirk (
Date: Fri Sep 26 2003 - 08:04:22 EDT

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    On 26/09/2003 11:34, wrote:

    >>Is server software actually obliged to perform such conversions on
    >No, there is no obligation.
    > Surely, rather, browsers should be expected to support a
    >>certain minimum set of encodings,
    >Ah but how minimum is acceptable?
    >Of course, and I've said this already in this thread, we can now just make sure that every server and ever client supports UTF-8 and UTF-16. However it will be some time before servers can assume all browsers can accept these, and before all browsers can assume that all servers can send them. ...
    Since there is plenty of good and free browser software available which
    does support UTF-8, perhaps servers should start assuming that browsers
    can support it, and that will gently encourage software vendors and
    users to upgrade. Well, actually it won't affect most US users as they
    mostly only use ASCII. For us in the UK and Ireland, we will just get
    mojibake pounds and euros.

    Anyway, isn't this the way W3C standards are going? I thought they were
    moving to XML compatibility which implies UTF-8 support. Browsers which
    can't support the latest W3C standards will surely become obsolete very

    >... The rule of http headers over-riding embedded self-desciption is going to be necessary until this has come to pass.
    >Even after then it's going to be necessary as there is only one http header which states encoding, but there is an unlimited number of mechanisms for self-description in an unlimited number of potential document types.
    This follows only if you accept the principle that the carrier has the
    duty to ensure that the recipient can understand what they receive. I
    don't accept that the carrier has the duty or even the right to do that.
    In fact I would suggest that it is an infringement of my civil liberties
    to do so just as much as it would be for the snail mail service to
    censor or even reformat my mail.

    Perhaps they have the right to check for security holes, yes, but that
    is a separate issue. A carrier has the right to check for security
    issues which might compromise their service, yes, and perhaps the right
    to check for certain kinds of illegal activity which might include
    deliberately spreading viruses - but only if such things are clearly set
    out in the carrier's conditions of service or by law. But the carrier
    does not have the right to mess around with the content because it
    thinks that there might be some possibility of compromising the security
    of ill-configured software at the recipient. The recipient is
    responsible for their own security, and should not rely on carriers for
    this except as part of a specific value-added agreement.

    Summary: Servers, keep your hands off my e-mail and web pages! What I
    have written I have written, and if it's garbage that's my problem, not
    yours. If it really is a virus etc, I'll let you make that an exception,
    but you must have real evidence, not just an assumption that anything
    with a particular encoding is dangerous.

    Well, that's my opinion, anyway.

    Peter Kirk (personal) (work)

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