Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with government officials via teleconference at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on September 29, 2020.
ALEXEY DROUZHININE | AFP | Getty Images
The global Internet domain nonprofit known as ICANN confirmed on Tuesday that it received a letter from the Ukrainian government asking it to remove Russian domains from the global web.
“We can confirm that we have received the letter and are reviewing it,” spokeswoman Angelina Lopez said. “We have no further comment at this time.”
Rolling Stone Review reported earlier today, the Ukrainian government asked ICANN to “revoke domains issued in Russia and shut down the main servers of the domain name system in the country, a move that would effectively prevent access to websites Russians, with the potential to take the whole country offline.”
The move would be unprecedented and should not happen. But it sparked a heated debate online about whether it was wise to cut Russia’s access to the global internet amid concerns for the future of the web and the global economy. .
On the positive side, such a sanction against 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 downside, it could lead Russia, China and others to look for ways to distance themselves from ICANN’s global internet and balkanize the internet — and potentially threaten its future.
In 2018, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt predicted that the global internet would eventually split in two, with one sector led by China and the other by the United States. 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 internal flow of information, installing new equipment capable of blocking and filtering information, according to The New York Times. It also slowed access to Twitter by spring 2021 after accusing the company of being slow to remove some content.
The Ukrainian government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on ICANN’s request.