The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has taken great pride in the fact that they’ve seized and purportedly eliminated alleged copyright-infringing websites with their “Operation in Our Sites” anti-piracy campaign. Unfortunately, the government agency’s tactics are questionable, and seemingly legitimate websites are being blocked from users without warning or due process for domain owners.
Several potential targets of this controversial government initiative have begun launching mirrors of their websites on domains that are under the control of more lenient nations, and there is now a Firefox add-on dubbed MAFIAA Fire that tracks alternative domains and automatically redirects users in the event a site is seized by the ICE.
“ICE taketh away, we giveth back!” MAFIAA Fire’s developer writes on the add-on’s FAQ page. “We plan to maintain a list of URLs, and their duplicate sites (for example Demonoid.com and Demonoid.de) and painlessly redirect you to the correct site.”
Keeping with the Demonoid example, the page explains how the add-on works: “You simply type Demonoid.com into your browser as usual, the browser sends the address to the add-on, the add-on checks if Demonoid.com is on the list of sites to be redirected and immediately redirects you to the mirror site. This happens in microseconds and completely transparent to you (the user).”
But is MAFIAA Fire legal?
“Basically, all you are really doing is using a tool to do something that you can legally do on your own,” the developer points out. There is even a backup plan in place in case the site is hacked or taken down by the ICE itself.
“Go ahead and seize this domain, we dare you… no, we double dare you!” the developer taunts.
Currently, the add-on is exclusive to Firefox browsers, however a Chrome version may be on the way if time and donations allow the developer to complete it or pay someone else to do it.
Site owners who believe they may be targeted by the ICE seizures are encouraged to submit their domains and instruct users to download the plugin. There is a short list of websites already utilizing the add-on’s capabilities, including the ICE-seized Rapgodfathers.com, Torrent-finder.com, and RojaDirecta.org.
No matter what systems the government comes up with to censor the internet, those who believe the tactics are unjust will find a way to get around them. The emergence of MAFFIA Fire only serves to reinforce that fact.