posted by Thom Holwerda on Fri 6th May 2011 17:55 UTC
IconHooray for Mozilla. That about sums this story up. Remember all those domain names ICE keeps seizing? There are countless ways to get around these silly seizures,like using your operating system's hosts file. To make this a less cumbersome process, several Firefox extensions dot he work for you. Well, since copyright infringement is naturally a threat to the security of the United States, the Department of Homeland Security contacted Mozilla, asking them to take down one of these extensions. Mozilla declined.

The extension in question is MafiaaFire Redirector, an extension which makes it very easy to bypass the US government's domain name seizures. The DHS is obviously not happy about this, and thus, they contacted Mozilla, asking them to take down MafiaaFire. Mozilla has denied the request, because it didn't come with a court order. Consequently, Mozilla asked the DHS several questions:

  • Have any courts determined that the Mafiaafire add-on is unlawful or illegal in any way? If so, on what basis? (Please provide any relevant rulings)
  • Is Mozilla legally obligated to disable the add-on or is this request based on other reasons? If other reasons, can you please specify.
  • Can you please provide a copy of the relevant seizure order upon which your request to Mozilla to take down the Mafiaafire add-on is based?

Mozilla has not yet received a response to these questions. All this shows Mozilla is taking this very seriously, and I'm very happy with that. "One of the fundamental issues here is under what conditions do intermediaries accede to government requests that have a censorship effect and which may threaten the open Internet," Mozilla writes, "In this case, the underlying justification arises from content holders legitimate desire to combat piracy. The problem stems from the use of these government powers in service of private content holders when it can have unintended and harmful consequences."

I'm wondering what would've happend if Google, Apple, or Microsoft had received such a request. My guess is they would've complied blindly, because they must appease the US government to further their own cause - you know, lobbying and all that. The developer of MediaaFire is currently working on bringing the extension to Chrome, so we'll see how Google responds to that.

"Now, because my idea, which took less than a week to create - and the Chrome version 2 days - makes them walk around with egg on their face after the millions spent (it cost me less than $100), they went running to Mozilla seeking another favor," the developer told Ars, "They did not even try to contact us. Hats off to Mozilla for sticking up to them, at first we were afraid if Mozilla would even host it due to its controversial nature but they truly backed up their open source supporting words with actions."

Mozilla ftw.

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