By David Kravets
The Department of Homeland Security has requested that Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser, remove an add-on that allows web surfers to access websites whose domain names were seized by the government for copyright infringement, Mozilla’s lawyer said Thursday.
But Mozilla did not remove the MafiaaFire add-on, and instead has demanded the government explain why it should. Two weeks have passed, and the government has not responded to Mozilla’s questions, including whether the government considers the add-on unlawful and whether Mozilla is “legally obligated” to remove it. The DHS has also not provided the organization with a court order requiring its removal, the lawyer said.
“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,” Harvey Anderson, Mozilla’s lawyer, wrote Thursday on his blog.
Neither Homeland Security nor Anderson immediately responded for comment.
The add-on in question redirects traffic from seized domains to other domains outside the United States’ reach. Since last year, the U.S. government has seized at least 120 domains in an antipiracy assault known as “Operation in Our Sites.” The domains are taken under the same federal statute used to seize drug houses.
Many of the seized sites have been redirected by their owners to domains being hosted where the United States cannot legally touch them The United States controls so-called top-level domains like .com, .net and .org.
The add-on has been downloaded more than 6,400 times.