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This is an extract of paragraph 2 of section 1 of the Stack Exchange Terms of Service:

...Subscriber also certifies that they are legally permitted to use the Services and access the Network, and takes full responsibility for the selection and use of the Services and access of the Network. This Agreement is void where prohibited by law, and the right to access the Network is revoked in such jurisdictions...

Does this mean that it's a violation of the terms for the Subscriber to circumvent blocks that the Subscriber's country imposes to access the Network?

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I'm not a lawyer, but this appears just to be limiting any liability that SE could possibly have if a user accesses the site(s) in a country/jurisdiction where it is against the law to do so. So the user accessing the site could still get into trouble with their government, but SE is probably trying to avoid any liability/trouble with that gov't, since they clearly told those users not to access the site in the TOS.

In conclusion, nothing to see here, just a normal TOS provision.

Does this mean that it's a violation of the terms for the Subscriber to circumvent blocks that the Subscriber's country imposes to access the Network?

Yes, I think so. But is SE going to go out of their way to enforce it? I highly doubt it. It's one thing if California has their own laws, which most every business in America will try to abide by, but it's another thing to get an American company to try to follow/enforce the laws of say, North Korea.

  • @ᔕᖺᘎᕊ It means I'm Not A Lawyer. – Dan Bron Jul 5 '15 at 20:10
  • Thanks @DanBron and Dronehinge :) – ᔕᖺᘎᕊ Jul 5 '15 at 20:11
  • That was my thought, would SE terminate a North Korean's account. I guess not. – Tim Jul 5 '15 at 20:18
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    @Tim don't think so, that's what I mean by "not going out of their way to enforce it". – CRABOLO Jul 5 '15 at 20:19
  • What if China bans some Chinese from accessing it - will SE comply? It's easy to talk Dear Leader this and Dear Leader that when he's got no financial strings to pull. – Deer Hunter Jul 5 '15 at 20:25
  • @DanBron The more normal term is IANAL, not INAL. – cpast Jul 6 '15 at 1:19
  • You're not a Stack Exchange employee. How can you answer the question " is SE going to go out of their way to enforce it?" with a "No."? It feels weird to see you trying to speak for Stack Exchange, when you don't appear to have their permission to speak for them. I think you should label this as a guess/speculation, rather than something you know to be true. – D.W. Jul 6 '15 at 3:29
  • @D.W. Alright, edited – CRABOLO Jul 6 '15 at 6:19
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Yes. That appears to be exactly what it means. Technically, it appears to be a violation of the terms to access the site, if your country blocks the site.

If you're in that situation, the question you have to ask yourself is: Do you care about violating that part of the Stack Exchange terms of service? Maybe not.

(Do we know whether Stack Exchange will take any action to block or terminate the account of users who violate this term? We don't know and can't know. All we know is that this provision would allow Stack Exchange to do so if they wanted to, though I'm not aware of any evidence that they've ever done so, and we can hope that they would not apply this provision unjustly.)

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    If my proposal is status-completed, meta.stackexchange.com/questions/256392/… , we'll know what to expect from SE. – Deer Hunter Jul 6 '15 at 4:51
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    @DeerHunter, I am a supporter of your proposal, but I don't think the connection to this question is as close as you suggest. A country can block/outlaw access to Stack Exchange without sending a single takedown request to Stack Exchange. Even if Stack Exchange accepted your proposal to issue an annual transparency report, such blocks still wouldn't show up in their transparency report. – D.W. Jul 6 '15 at 4:54

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