Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov has urged the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to effectively ban Russia from the Internet.

In a letter, Mr Fedorov asked the body to revoke the .ru and .su domains, either permanently or as a temporary measure, in light of Mr Putin’s “atrocious crimes” against Ukraine.

They seek to revoke domains issued in Russia and shut down primary Domain Name System (DNS) servers in the country — a move that would effectively bar access to Russian sites, with the potential of knocking the entire country offline.

ICANN is a politically agnostic body and cutting off a ccTLD for an entire country would be an unprecedented move.

Also, one of the largest global Domain registrar’s Namecheap communicated that it would not be doing business with companies and individuals registered in Russia, forcing them to find new domain registrars, as consequences for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine slowly begin to pile up.

“Due to the Russian regime’s war crimes and human rights violations in Ukraine, we will no longer be providing services to users registered in Russia,” an email sent to Namecheap users said. “While we sympathize that this war may not affect your views or opinion on the matter, the fact is, your authoritarian government is committing human rights abuses and engaging in war crimes so this is a policy decision we have made and will stand by.”

Update – ICANN response

In a letter dated 3 March 2022, ICANN President and CEO Göran Marby said:

…In our role as the technical coordinator of unique identifiers for the Internet, we take actions to ensure that the workings of the Internet are not politicized, and we have no sanction-levying authority. Essentially, ICANN has been built to ensure that the Internet works, not for its coordination role to be used to stop it from working.

Marby also noted that ICANN doesn’t have the ability to do some of the things Ukraine requested, such as revoking SSL certificates.  ICANN also pointed out that access to the internet can actually help disseminate information that Russians need to receive:

As you have said in your letter, your desire is to help users seek reliable information in alternative domain zones and prevent propaganda and disinformation. It is only through broad and unimpeded access to the Internet that citizens can receive reliable information and a diversity of viewpoints. Regardless of the source, ICANN does not control Internet access or content.

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