The Volokh Conspiracy

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Google Chrome Now Blocks Insecure Downloads from Secure Websites. Many Court Website are Insecure.

Chrome now blocks download links on How Appealing from insecure court sites.


Much like people, web sites can be insecure. Unlike people, you can easily determine whether a web site is insecure. In the address bar of your browser, you should see a lock icon next to "". Click that lock. A box will popup showing that the connection is secure. All responsible web sites have security certificates. These simple licenses tell users that information can be securely uploaded and downloaded., a responsible web site, is secure.

And most of federal courts of appeals are secure. The First, Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuits are secure.

Other courts of appeal are not secure. The Fifth Circuit is insecure.

The Seventh Circuit is also insecure.

And the Federal Circuit–the so-called tech court!–is not secure. No wonder the Supreme Court reverses them all the time!

Some state courts are also insecure. For example, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Perhaps the independent state legislature can remedy this problem. (Kidding, kidding).

Regrettably, my home state is no better. Hackers can mess with Texas. We defended the Alamo. Certainly we can defend a web site.

Going forward, these insecure courts, and many others, should become secure. Why? The latest version of the Google Chrome browser is blocking downloads on a secure page to an insecure site. If I include a link to a PDF from any of these insecure sites, it would be blocked. Far worse, How Appealing (a secure site) can no longer link to PDFs on any of these insecure sites. Howard Bashman is a national treasure. I know judges routinely check his site. Now, Howard's links will not work.

I stumbled across this problem today by accident. I tried to download a recent Fifth Circuit opinion, but I couldn't. But when I visited the Fifth Circuit's site, I was able to download the opinion from the Opinions page. With all due respect, Court web sites should be secure. These certificates are not difficult to install. And the failure to fortify these sites will make it tougher for people to access the law.

I will report back in due course to see if these sites become secure. For now, there is an easy workaround: (1) Right click on the link, (2) click "Copy Link Address," (3) paste that link into your address bar. The file will download since the request is not coming from a secured page.