Homeland Security’s ICE Threatens Open Internet

Mozilla was requested by the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) to pull a Firefox add-on which circumvents blocked domains. Mozilla, believing ICE to be wrong, rejected the request on grounds that ICE had no warranty or legality to do so and pulling it would hinder technological growth and open Internet.

The add-on, MAFIAA Fire, simply redirects users to an online backup of seized websites. The creators wanted to make the point that ICE’s efforts to silence speech by taking objectionable sites offline is futile.

ICE may have been surprised by the refusal. Mozilla’s policy is to comply with all court orders, warrants, and legal mandates, but in this case there was no such document.

Instead, Mozilla’s legal department asked ICE 12 questions on what legal grounds as to why it should follow the takedown request:

April 19, 2011 email from Mozilla to US Department of Homeland Security Special Agent
To help us evaluate the Department of Homeland Security’s request to take-down/remove the MAFIAAfire.com add-on from Mozilla’s websites, can you please provide the following additional information:
  1. Have any courts determined that MAFIAAfire.com is unlawful or illegal in any way? If so, on what basis? (Please provide any relevant rulings)
  2. Have any courts determined that the seized domains related to MAFIAAfire.com are unlawful, illegal or liable for infringement in any way? (please provide relevant rulings)
  3. Is Mozilla legally obligated to disable the add-on or is this request based on other reasons? If other reasons, can you please specify.
  4. Has DHS, or any copyright owners involved in this matter, taken any legal action against MAFIAAfire.com or the seized domains, including DMCA requests?
  5. What protections are in place for MAFIAAfire.com or the seized domain owners if eventually a court decides they were not unlawful?
  6. Can you please provide copies of any briefs that accompanied the affidavit considered by the court that issued the relevant seizure orders?
  7. Can you please provide a copy of the relevant seizure order upon which your request to Mozilla to take down MAFIAAfire.com is based?
  8. Please identify exactly what the infringements by the owners of the domains consisted of, with reference to the substantive standards of Section 106 and to any case law establishing that the actions of the seized domain owners constituted civil or criminal copyright infringement.
  9. Did any copyright owners furnish affidavits in connection with the domain seizures? Had any copyright owners served DMCA takedown notices on the seized domains or MAFIAAfire.com? (if so please provide us with a copy)
  10. Has the Government furnished the domain owners with formal notice of the seizures, triggering the time period for a response by the owners? If so, when,and have there been any responses yet by owners?
  11. Has the Government communicated its concerns directly with MAFIAAfire.com?If so, what response, if any, did MAFIAAfire.com make?

Mozilla is still waiting on the answers.