Mozilla Defies Russian Censors

Mozilla Defies Russian Censors

Defying “persistent requests” from Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor, Mozilla said this week that it will restore local access to five censorship-circumventing add-ons.

Mozilla pulled the Firefox extensions — including Censor Tracker and Runet Censorship Bypass — in Russia earlier this month without directly notifying their developers, the Register first reported.

Citing “recent regulatory changes in Russia,” Mozilla told Russian news outlet Kommersant on June 6 that its decision to delist the extensions was temporary. At the time, the firm said it was “carefully considering the next steps, taking into account our local community,” per an auto-translation of the story.

By “regulatory changes,” Mozilla seemed to reference Russia’s March 1 ban of websites and ads that offer info on virtual private networks, or VPNs. The affected extensions offer access to websites blocked in Russia, including Tor sites and “libraries, encyclopedias, oppositional political sites.” At least two of the extensions are open-source and simultaneously accessible on the Microsoft-owned code repository Github.

Mozilla didn’t immediately respond to a Gizmodo request for comment on its latest decision.

Yet, in a belated response to irate comments on its support forum, where users questioned the company’s open-internet pledge, community- and developer-relations manager Edward Sullivan said Mozilla will reinstate access to the extensions.

“We remain committed to supporting our users in Russia and worldwide and will continue to advocate for an open and accessible internet for all,” a statement posted by Sullivan on Thursday reads. “Users should be free to customize and enhance their online experience through add-ons without undue restrictions,” it adds.

Along with Tor, Russia has censored access to a wide range of popular sites and services, including PornHub, Telegram, Shutterstock, certain Facebook pages, and Google News.

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