One of the Ukrainian representatives to ICANN’s Government Advisory Council (GAC) has sent a very broad sweeping request to ICANN and the IANA demanding that they essentially help to knock Russia off the internet. Apparently they’re also writing to RIPE with similar requests.
The letter, which was shared on Twitter by Bill Woodcock, is addressed to ICANN’s CEO Göran Marby as well as several other people at ICANN, IANA and, bizarrely, ARIN.
Part of the rationale behind the request is that Russia is using the internet to spread disinformation about Ukraine.
Here’s the letter in its entirety:
Dear mr. President and Chief Executive Officer, As a representative of Ukraine in GAC ICANN, I’m sending you this letter on behalf of the people of Ukraine, asking you to address an urgent need to introduce strict sanctions against the Russian Federation in the field of DNS regulation, in response to its acts of aggression towards Ukraine and its citizens. On the 24th of February 2022 the army of the Russian Federation engaged in a full-scale war against Ukraine and breached its territorial integrity, leading to casualties among both military staff and civilians. By proceeding to a so-called “military operation” aiming at “denazifying” and “demilitarizing” Ukraine under the pretext of its own national security, the Russian Federation breached numerous clauses of International Law. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a clear act of aggression and a manifest violation of Article 2.4 of the UN Charter, which prohibits the “use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State”. Also Russia is using it's weapon to target civilian infrastructure such as residential apartments, kindergartens, hospitals etc., which is prohibited by the Article 51(3) of Additional Protocol I and Article 13(3) of Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions. These atrocious crimes have been made possible mainly due to the Russian propaganda machinery using websites continuously spreading disinformation, hate speech, promoting violence and hiding the truth regarding the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian IT infrastructure has undergone numerous attacks from the Russian side impeding citizens’ and government’s ability to communicate. Moreover, it’s becoming clear that this aggression could spread much further around the globe as the Russian Federation puts the nuclear deterrent on “special alert” and threatens both Sweden and Finland with “military and political consequences” if these states join NATO. Such developments are unacceptable in the civilized, peaceful world, in the XXI century. Therefore, I’m strongly asking you to introduce the following list of sanctions targeting Russian Federation’s access to the Internet: Revoke, permanently or temporarily, the domains “.ru”, “.рф” and “.su”. This list is not exhaustive and may also include other domains issued in the Russian Federation. Contribute to the revoking for SSL certificates for the abovementioned domains. Shut down DNS root servers situated in the Russian Federation, namely: Saint Petersburg, RU (IPv4 22.214.171.124) Moscow, RU (IPv4 126.96.36.199, 3 instances) Apart from these measures, I will be sending a separate request to RIPE NCC asking to withdraw the right to use all IPv4 and IPv6 addresses by all Russian members of RIPE NCC (LIRs - Local Internet Registries), and to block the DNS root servers that it is operating. All of these measures will help users seek for reliable information in alternative domain zones, preventing propaganda and disinformation. Leaders, governments and organizations all over the world are in favor of introducing sanctions towards the Russian Federation since they aim at putting the aggression towards Ukraine and other countries to an end. I ask you kindly to seriously consider such measures and implement them as quickly as possible. Help to save the lives of people in our country. Also, the above was signed by the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine - Minister of Digital Transformation, the appendix is attached to this email. -------------- Sincerely, Andrii Nabok Representative of Ukraine in GAC ICANN
ICANN usually publishes letters it receives, so it, and any eventual response, should be published here.
The “ask” is very broad and while it is obviously well intentioned it would be a terrible idea if ICANN were to intervene and start pulling down entire domain extensions due to this sort of demand. It is a very very slippery slope. Don’t like a regime or its actions? Go to ICANN and get their entire ccTLD pulled! Easy peasy!
And of course the idea that by pulling the Russian country codes you’d somehow remove their ability to publish online is kind of naive to say the least.
The internet is used by everyone – whether they are supporters of a regime or not, denying everyone in Russia access to it would be a terrible idea for many many reasons. If nothing else it would also play into Putin’s narrative about the west and embolden him and others to push forward with plans for alternatives to the current internet. And that is not a good thing at all.
What will happen?
ICANN and RIPE are not going to get involved in this sort of situation. If they did that would be the end of their ability to do their jobs – maintain the interoperability of an open and neutral internet. RIPE NCC had previously made a clear statement on how they handled sanctions etc., and they might feel the need to make an updated statement on the matter. ICANN and IANA have always tried to remain outside of these sort of conflicts – the very simple example I used to cite being .cu and .ir working even though the US has had sanctions against those states for many years.
Of course private companies can and will take actions that they deem fit. Over the past few days Twitter and Facebook, for example, have taken a variety of actions, while Google is now restricting access to some of their services from Russian state entities.