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Firefox stands up to Putin

by on17 June 2024

Reinstates anti-censorship add-ons

Big Cheeses at the Mozzarella Foundation have decided to reinstate Firefox add-ons that the Kremlin had banned earlier this week in Russia.

The browser extensions, hosted on the Mozilla store, were made unavailable Putin’s kingdom on June 8 after the Russian government and its internet censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, requested it.

Among those extensions were three pieces of code explicitly designed to circumvent state censorship—a VPN and Censor Tracker, a multi-purpose add-on that allowed users to see what websites shared user data, and a tool to access Tor websites.

The day the ban went into effect, Roskomsvoboda, the developer of Censor Tracker, took to the official Mozilla forums and asked why his extension had suddenly been banned in Russia without warning.

"We recently noticed that our add-on is now unavailable in Russia, despite being developed specifically to circumvent censorship in Russia," Roskomsvoboda complained. "We did not violate Mozilla's rules in any way, so this decision seems strange and unfair, to be honest."

Another developer for a banned add-on said they weren't informed either.

The Internet Archive's statement at the time mentioned that the ban was merely temporary. It turns out that this wasn't mere PR fluff.

A spokesfirefox said: "In alignment with our commitment to an open and accessible internet, Mozilla will reinstate previously restricted listings in Russia. Our initial decision to temporarily restrict these listings was made while we considered the regulatory environment in Russia and the potential risk to our community and staff.

"We remain committed to supporting our users in Russia and worldwide and will continue to advocate for an open and accessible internet for all."

Lifting the ban wasn't necessary for users to regain access to the add-ons—two of them were completely open source, and one of the VPN extensions could be downloaded from the developer's website.

It is not clear how Tsar Putin will respond, particularly since there is no one local to push out of the window. We suspect that a ban on the browser will follow.

Last modified on 17 June 2024
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