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06 May 2011, 10:19

Mozilla rejects US government request to remove add-on

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MAFIAAfire logo
MAFIAAfire logo

Mozilla has rejected a request from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to remove the MAFIAAfire Redirector add-on from its add-on pages. The rejection was announced in a posting by Mozilla's Harvey Anderson, Vice President Business Affairs and General Counsel at the browser maker.

The MAFIAAfire Redirector appeared in the wake of the DHS's seizure of domain names that it says have been accused of copyright or trademark infringement; the DHS took control of these domains and pointed them at a site which explains that the domains have been seized. Because the sites themselves have not been seized, site operators simply register a new domain name outside the US and continue operating, but for users who only knew the DHS-seized domain name, it may be hard to find out what that new name is. MAFIAAfire Redirector is an add-on for Firefox which, when it sees a user going to a seized domain, looks up the replacement non-US domain name on a list and redirects the user to that site. The list is compiled and updated at the site

Anderson explained that Mozilla would "comply with valid court orders, warrants and legal mandates but in this case there was no such court order." Mozilla sent the DHS a set of questions to evaluate the DHS request: asking if any court has determined that or the domains it is redirecting users to are illegal, whether Mozilla is legally obligated to disable the add-on and if the government has communicated its concerns to directly. "To date we've received no response from Homeland Security nor any court order" says Anderson.

The developer behind MAFIAAfire Redirector told Ars Technica that the DHS has not contacted him and applauded Mozilla for rejecting the DHS request saying "they truly backed up their open source supporting words with actions." The firefox add-on is open source and can also be downloaded from the web site along with a beta version of a Google Chrome extension.


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