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Error: Connection Refused

Error: Connection Refused

Jesse Patrick Bohanan

Debugging Planet Earth: Part 2

What would cause a connection to be refused? And what happens when this occurs?

A connection may be refused by a remote server for a number of reasons, but two of the most common are listed below:

  1. The client connected with an invalid (or simply missing) authentication scheme. This is equivalent to someone attempting to login to a website with an invalid password.
  2. The resource on the remote server doesn't exist, or the user attempting to access it doesn't have permission to do so. For instance, if a file has been deleted from a website but the link remains on their homepage, there will be a refusal to connect to that resource by the website's server if anyone clicks on the link. Alternatively, some resources are locked behind "permissions schemes" (fancy terminology for access restrictions). Think of Kids Profiles on certain streaming apps: Attempting to access content rated above the child's age segment are blocked.

How does this relate to planet Earth?

Well, for item 1...

Our socioeconomic constructs are such that we require confirmation of a person's (or organization's) identity prior to authorizing a payment on their behalf. Ex. when one attempts to make a purchase with a credit card at a gas station pump, one is required to input their postal code. This is probably the simplest of examples.

To delve into problems that arise from refused connections on the basis of lack of authorization; certain social castes are prohibited entry into certain professions, either based on a lack of legal protection for their status or simple bigotry on the part of hiring managers. Transgender and nonbinary individuals are frequently targets of malicious laws and regulations, not to mention unscrupulous hiring practices that result in unfair wages for these individuals when compared to cisgender individuals in the same company.

For item 2...

Permissions schemes serve a valuable purpose in healthcare. Not every patient should have access to every other patients' healthcare data; and in a digital age, without a robust and secure permissions scheme, patients' data could be at risk. But both patients and providers increasingly require access to this data from locations outside of the office, so security is paramount to ensure safe, continued access.

On the other hand, sex work is illegal in most locations within the United States, but pornography is fully legal in most locations. Pornography is essentially publicized sex work. Some sex workers / porn stars enjoy the publicity, but others would prefer to maintain their privacy. They can't do that legally in most cases, which is a double standard within our legal permissions scheme that is totally broken.

Where do we stand on these issues?

We have a long way to go, unfortunately, on both items 1 and 2. We need to ensure that we enact legal policy that supports the overall social welfare of all our nations' occupants – not even just the citizens.