The U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent Mozilla a request to remove a Firefox add-on that redirects web surfers from one domain to another. At issue is the MafiaaFire Redirect add-on, which redirects visitors from one domain to another, making it all too easy to sidestep the government's domain name seizures. Be that as it may, Mozilla is so far refusing to comply.
Mozilla lawyer Harvey Anderson explains in a blog post why exactly Mozilla isn't so quick to just remove the add-on to prevent Homeland Security from breathing down its neck.
"Our approach is to comply with valid court orders, warrants, and legal mandates, but in this case there was no such court order," Anderson says.
Furthermore, Anderson sent a series of questions to Homeland Security asking if any courts have determined that the Mafiaafire add-on is unlawful or illegal in any way, whether or not Mozilla is legally obligated to disable the add-on, and asked for a copy of the relevant seizure order upon which the request to take down the add-on is based upon. According to Anderson, none of those questions were met with a response.
"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," Anderson says. "Others have commented on these practices already. 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. Longterm, the challenge is to find better mechanisms that provide both real due process and transparency without infringing upon developer and user freedoms traditionally associated with the Internet."
It will be interesting to see if Google takes the same stance against Internet censorship. According to ArsTechnica, the developer of MafiaaFire Redirector is working on a version for Chrome that will be out soon.