nettime's avid reader on Fri, 6 May 2011 11:22:22 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Homeland Security Request to Take Down MafiaaFire Add-on

From time to time, we [the mozilla foundation] receive government requests 
for information, usually market information and occasionally subpoenas. 
Recently the US Department of Homeland Security contacted Mozilla and 
requested that we remove the MafiaaFire add-on.  The ICE Homeland Security 
Investigations unit alleged that the add-on circumvented a seizure order 
DHS had obtained against a number of domain names.   Mafiaafire, like 
several other similar  add-ons already available through AMO, redirects the 
user from one domain name to another similar to a mail forwarding service.  
In this case, Mafiaafire redirects traffic from seized domains to other 
domains. Here the seized domain names allegedly were used to stream content 
protected by copyrights of  professional sports franchises and other media 

Our approach is to comply with valid court orders, warrants, and legal 
mandates, but in this case there was no such court order.  Thus, to 
evaluate Homeland Securityâs request, we asked them several questions 
similar to those below to understand the legal justification:

- Have any courts determined that the Mafiaafire add-on is unlawful or 
illegal in any way? If so, on what basis? (Please provide any relevant 

- Is Mozilla legally obligated to disable the add-on or is this request 
based on other reasons? If other reasons, can you please specify.

- Can you please provide a copy of the relevant seizure order upon which 
your request to Mozilla to take down the Mafiaafire  add-on is based?

To date weâve received no response from Homeland Security nor any court 

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. 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.  More to come.

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