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Mozilla defies Department of Homeland Security's request to pull extension

In the last year, the United States government has seized approximately 120 domains suspected of harbouring piracy activities. Who requested the takedowns? The media industries of the United States of course - the RIAA and MPAA. Some of the domains belonged to site owners outside of the United States. To counter this move, a site named MAFIAAFire.com was setup - MAFIAA being the Music and Film Industry Association of America. The site allows users to be automatically redirected to a domain's original IP instead of the seized domain by installing extensions for browsers. The site's basis was that Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the American government does not do a diligent job of doing background checks on which sites they're pulling, choosing instead to act on the advice of say the media industries first.

In response to MAFIAAFire.com, the Department of Homeland Security sought to remove the extensions in question. First was the Firefox extension. But Mozilla refused to remove the extension, instead issuing a list of questions to the DHS. Some of the questions include:

  • Whether a court found the site MAFIAAFire.com, and its extensions, to be illegal, or whether any DMCA requests have been issued
  • Whether Mozilla was legally obligated to remove the extension (a court order was not and has not been issued yet)
  • Whether the government provided proper notice of the seizure of the domains in question and allowing some time for a response
  • To identify the exact infringements from each domain owner, and whether their actions constituted a civil or criminal copyright infringement

The DHS has not responded to the request, so to Mozilla, the extension stays. As Mozilla's lawyer, Harvey Anderson, states: "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."

Mozilla's response to the DHS may be read here (via Wired).

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