Exclusive: Mozilla reverses course, re-lists extensions it removed in Russia

Two days ago, I broke the news that Mozilla removed several Firefox extensions from the add-on store in Russia, after pressure from Russian censors. Mozilla provided me with an official statement, which seemed to highlight that the decision was not final, and it seems I was right – today, probably helped by the outcry our story caused, Mozilla has announced it’s reversing the decision. In a statement sent to me via email, an unnamed Mozilla spokesperson says:

In alignment with our commitment to an open and accessible internet, Mozilla will reinstate previously restricted listings in Russia. Our initial decision to temporarily restrict these listings was made while we considered the regulatory environment in Russia and the potential risk to our community and staff.

As outlined in our Manifesto, Mozilla’s core principles emphasise the importance of an internet that is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. Users should be free to customise and enhance their online experience through add-ons without undue restrictions.

By reinstating these add-ons, we reaffirm our dedication to:

– Openness: Promoting a free and open internet where users can shape their online experience.
– Accessibility: Ensuring that the internet remains a public resource accessible to everyone, regardless of geographical location.

We remain committed to supporting our users in Russia and worldwide and will continue to advocate for an open and accessible internet for all.

↫ Mozilla spokesperson via email

I’m glad Mozilla reversed its decision, because giving in to a dictatorship never ends well – it starts with a few extensions today, but ends up with the kind of promotional tours for China that Tim Cook goes on regularly. Firefox is a browser that lives or dies by its community, and if that community is unhappy with the course of Mozilla or the decisions it makes, especially ones that touch on core values and human rights, it’s not going to end well for them.

That being said, this does make me wonder what would’ve happened if the forum thread that started all this died in obscurity and never made its way to the media. Would Mozilla have made the same reversal?


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