Mozilla tells DHS: we won't help you censor the Internet

The US Department of Homeland Security has asked the Mozilla Foundation to take down the "Mafiaa Fire" plugin, which automatically redirects browsers to the new URLs for sites that have had their .com and .net addresses seized in the latest round of the copyright wars. The Mozilla Foundation has firmly refused.
However, where ICE might have expected a swift take down from Mozilla, the legal and business affairs department of the tech company was not planning to honor the request so easily.

"Our approach is to comply with valid court orders, warrants, and legal mandates, but in this case there was no such court order," Anderson explains.

According to Anderson complying with the request without any additional information would threaten open Internet principles. So, instead of taking the add-on offline they replied to ICE with a set of 11 well-crafted questions.

Homeland Security Wants Mozilla to Pull "Domain Seizure" Add-On

Mozilla's questions to the DHS


  1. Sounds to me like they gave them 11 more things to make laws about, not answer. The internet is losing this war.

  2. @anon
    and we’re not moving a single finger about that.

    How lazy can you get? ACTA and the spanish copyright law was cooked in your backyard, you need to start acting as a group. But its not gonna happen is it? Im not american, but a friend from california showed me what a demonstration looks like up there.
    Pretty sad stuff.

    1. Canada finally has a gropu “” that is fighting for this very thing. Maybe the US can leanr some good tactics. We got a ton of big companies to not increaseing pricing for the last 8-6 months. Unfortunatlye seems like it is coming in June-Junly :(

  3. Wow – I wonder if Mozilla will stand by its principles if the court order comes.

    Or would IP-locking the plugin so it’s only downloadable outside the US be adequate?

    Hmmm – what laws exist for making software itself illegal (beyond the encryption-as-munitions nonsense)?

    1. Kieran, Mozilla’s position is that they will only honor court orders, not requests, so if a court order comes, I expect them to challenge it in court, but not to defy the law. To do so doesn’t violate their principles.

  4. Contrast this to the way Amazon and PayPal handled the wikileaks fiasco.

    Go Mozilla.

    1. Contrast this to the way Amazon and PayPal handled the wikileaks fiasco.

      Absolutely. That’s the main reason I haven’t used either service since. I suspect I will eventually cave when there is something I absolutely need, but I will only ever do so at pains.

      In contrast, I am frequently reminded of reasons why Mozilla rules. They always support creative development which adds new functionality to the web, thereby making your PC more powerful…. for free.

      Addons which I use on a near-daily basis:
      Fire FTP
      Video DownloadHelper
      MediaPlayer Connectivity

      Go Mozilla, indeed!

  5. It’s too bad that BoingBoing didn’t include the very next line from the link:

    Interestingly enough, Mozilla never heard from ICE again.

    In other words, after getting the pushback from Mozilla, ICE has not taken any followup action yet.

  6. Legislation will never keep pace with internet developments. This is a stupid fight started by fat old rich a-holes who need new gold plated Rolls Royce’s that run off burning poor people… Still, the day will come when I tell my grand kids about how free and open the internet was at first, and they will respond by rolling their eyes, popping their anti-depressant food allergy pills, and slipping off to nano-connective dispatches of kitten videos brought to you by New New Cokeâ„¢.

  7. “In other news today, China’s Department of Homeland Security demanded that Mozilla censor the Internet…”

    Yeah, it’s exactly like that.

    1. Anderson at this point deserves much respect if he holds out. But, that’s the big question as far as his true integrity goes… is he just grandstanding or is he seriously going to stick to his principles.

      It would be amazing to see someone of his stature stick to actual principles in this day and age, it seems. That’s sad, but I am warily watching to see what happens next. I guess I just can’t completely give up hope just yet.

      1. Remember Anderson works for a CEO and reports to a board – there are a number of players in this action.

  8. So, if the Mozilla Foundation is forced / decides to take down their link to the addon, will the ICE then go to Google and ask Google to take down all links to the addon?

    Ubuntu’s parent corp, Canonical, is registered in the Isle of Man. Will they ask /them/ to block repositories containing ABrowser (generic, unbranded (completely free) FireFox) that has the addon available?

    “Excuse me, sirs, would you please stop helping people get around our governmentally-enforced censorship of the 21st century’s telephone directories?”

  9. *sound of helicopters hovering*




    1. And then, because you look like one of the ten most wanted, you get a bullet in your brain.

      When they find out you’re not who they were looking for, you get a burial at sea.

      Assange lookalikes need to cut and dye their hair ASAP.

      PS. Also helicopter crash.

  10. As donaleen said: integrity.

    It will be interesting to see what happens next. BB please follow up,

  11. By now they just make it up as they go. Don’t they (MAFIAA, ICE, DHS etc. pp.) notice that this whole “internet thing” is slipping between their cold dead fingers of control faster then then they can blink?

    But please, by all means dear MAFIAA keep pushing, bullying and harassing the internet infrastructure as hard as you can. Nothing drives the development and deployment of a splendid decentralized attack resistant architecture as much as an actual attack.

    So please, with sugar on top, keep it up, and soon’ll not even discuss these “issues” anymore because by that time anybody’ll be utterly helpless to censor anything on the net.

    1. The more you tighten your grip, the more computer systems will slip through your fingers.


  12. Wasn’t there a quote somewhere about if you want to imagine the Future of the Human Race, just picture a boot stepping on a smiling face over and over again??

  13. Hats off to Mozilla for discovering that dealing with DHS is exactly like dealing with Righthaven and the RIAA!

  14. It should be obvious by now that the DHS and ICE were never about keeping US citizens safe. They were always about protecting the profits of anational corporations that own our politicians.

    The ICE charter says they’re supposed to enforce immigration and customs law but they never bust McDonalds or Walmart. Hepatitis in your food? ICE doesn’t care. Poison in your baby formula? ICE doesn’t care. What’s that? Some girl downloaded a Justin Bieber song? Get a SWAT Team together quick!

    The federal government has devolved into nothing more than an organized crime protection racket replete with extortion and hit squads.

  15. This is the correct answer.

    This is so incredible ballsy. Kudos to Mozilla (and their legal team!) for digging their heels. I wouldn’t have minded being a fly on the wall when they received the request. I imagine a lot of fists hammering desks.

    As users and citizens, what can we do to encourage more organizations and companies to follow this example? It seems rare these days to hear good news like this, like at least SOMEONE is on my side. I want to help!

  16. I’d like to see Mozilla’s response (perhaps worth reposting as it’s own entry on boingboing) become the boilerplate for anyone getting an IP-related takedown notice. It’s quite brilliant on its own, asking fair questions. It also involves a shit-ton of work from the authorities, making these casual takedown notices a LOT more expensive to administrate.
    Maybe Mozilla can release it in the public domain, with accreditation?

    Simply awesome of Mozilla. I’m heartily applauding.

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