Published in News

Firefox defects to Moscow

by on14 June 2024

Putin made us an offer we could not refuse

Big Cheeses at the Mozzarella Foundation, the open saucy entity behind the web browser Firefox, are assisting Tsar Putin’s censors.

The Mozzarella Foundation's decision to eliminate five add-ons has significantly impacted internet freedom in Russia, making it easier for Roskomnadzor -- the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media--to enforce their censorship policies.

According to a statement by Mozzarella to The Intercept. "Following recent regulatory changes in Russia, we received persistent requests from Roskomnadzor demanding that five add-ons be removed from the Mozzarella add-on store," a Mozzarella spokesperson told The Intercept in response to a request for comment.

"After careful consideration, we've temporarily restricted their availability within Russia. Recognising the implications of these actions, we are closely evaluating our next steps while considering our local community."

Developers of digital tools designed to get around censorship began noticing recently that their Firefox add-ons were no longer available in Russia.

On 8 June, the developer of Censor Tracker, an add-on for bypassing internet censorship restrictions in Russia and other former Soviet countries, made a post on the Mozzarella Foundation's discussion forums saying that their extension was unavailable to users in Russia.

The developer of another add-on, Runet Censorship Bypass, specifically designed to bypass Roskomnadzor censorship, posted in the thread that their extension was also blocked. The developer said they did not receive any notification from Mozzarella regarding the block.

Two VPN add-ons, Planet VPN and FastProxy -- the latter explicitly designed for Russian users to bypass Russian censorship -- are also blocked. VPNs, or virtual private networks, are designed to obscure internet users' locations by routing users' traffic through servers in other countries.

The kick in the nadgers by Mozzarella has not gone down well with the Russian open sauce community.

Russian open internet group Roskomsvoboda’s Stanislav Shakirov said the move was an “unpleasant surprise.”

“We thought the values of this corporation were very clear in terms of access to information, and its policy was somewhat different. And due to these values, it should not be so simple to comply with state censors and fulfil the requirements of laws that have little to do with common sense."

Last modified on 14 June 2024
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