Mozilla, in a gutsy display, has denied the Department of Homeland Security’s request to remove an add-on that gets around domain seizures.
Back in November, the Department of Homeland Security seized the domains of a bunch of websites that were supposedly contributing to online piracy. This was but a minor setback to many of the sites, who promptly got a new domain name and hosted the site anew, albeit with a different address. To keep track of these domain changes and send users to the right place, MafiaaFire Redirector was created and posted to the Mozilla add-on marketplace.
As a blatant method of circumventing the take-down, Homeland Security was understandably displeased, and asked Mozilla to remove the add-on. Though Mozilla claims its policy is to comply with warrants and court orders, the company has refused. Mozilla’s lawyer, Harvey Anderson, asked Homeland Security on his blog if taking down MafiaaFire was a legal requirement or just a request, as the legality of MafiaaFire circumventing a government ordered take-down was not made clear.
Anderson also said that if the DHS comes back with an order to take the add-on down, they may be stretching the law. “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,” he said. “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.”
The developer of the add-on has stated that he created it because he believes that many of the seizures were illegally done, a sentiment shared by many. The dev is currently in the process of creating a version of the add-on for Google’s Chrome browser, and has made the program open source, making it even harder for the DHS to prevent the circumnavigation of the domain seizures.
Homeland Security has not yet responded to Anderson’s questions.