ICANN denies Ukraine’s request to kick Russia off the internet

ICANN’s role is to coordinate a working internet, not to break it.

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ICANN has responded to Ukraine’s request to essentially kick Russia off the internet. Unsurprisingly, it denied the request.

Earlier this week, Ukraine’s government asked ICANN to target Russia’s access to the Internet by revoking specific country code top-level domains operated from within Russia, arranging the revocation of SSL certificates issued within those domains, and shutting down a subset of root servers located in Russia.

In a letter (pdf) sent yesterday, ICANN President and CEO Göran Marby told Ukraine:

…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 asked, 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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