Ukraine

Ukraine Asked the Internet's Governing Body to Remove Russian Sites

ALEXEY DRUZHININ | AFP | Getty Images
  • ICANN confirmed that Ukraine had asked it to remove Russian domains from the internet.
  • The move, which would be unprecedented, could spur Russia, China and other governments to move away from ICANN and spur the balkanization of the internet.
  • On the plus side, such a sanction on the aggressor Russian nation would cripple its economy, and force the Russian people to feel the negative effects of what their government has done in Ukraine.

The global internet domain nonprofit known as ICANN confirmed Tuesday that it has received a letter from the Ukrainian government asking it to remove Russian domains from the global web.

"We can confirm that we've received the letter and are reviewing it," said spokeswoman Angelina Lopez. "We have no further comment at this time."

Rolling Stone magazine reported earlier in the day that the Ukrainian government asked ICANN to "revoke domains issued in Russia and shut down primary Domain Name System servers in the country, a move that would effectively bar access to Russian internet sites, with the potential for knocking the entire country offline." 

The move would be unprecedented and is not likely to happen. But it sparked a robust debate online about whether removing Russia's access to the global internet is wise amid concern for the future of both the web and the world economy.

On the plus side, such a sanction on the aggressor Russian nation would cripple its economy, and force the Russian people to feel the negative effects of what their government has done in Ukraine.

But on the minus side, it could cause Russia, China, and others to look for ways to move away from the global internet of ICANN and balkanize the internet — and potentially threaten its future.

In 2018, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt predicted that the global internet would eventually split into two, with one sector led by China and the other by the U.S. Today, Beijing censors internet traffic and has banned companies like Facebook and Google from operating there.

Since 2019, Russia has stepped up its own efforts to control the domestic flow of information, installing new equipment that can block and filter information, according to The New York Times. It also slowed down access to Twitter in spring 2021 after accusing the company of being slow to remove certain content.

The Ukrainian government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ICANN request.

 

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