According to experts, attempts to isolate ordinary Russian citizens from the Internet will make them vulnerable to propaganda, as well as undermine the norms on which the security and stability of the World Wide Web depends.
The comments were made against the background of Ukraine’s appeals to ICANN, which demanded that Russia be excluded from the organization’s global registry. If ICANN had granted the request, Russia’s top-level domains, including all websites ending in .ru, would have been unavailable.
However, ICANN refused Ukraine’s request to restrict the operation of the Russian segment of the Internet. “Our mission does not involve the use of punitive measures, the imposition of sanctions or the restriction of access to Internet segments” – it is reported in the statement of the regulator.
Ukraine claims that such a step allowed Russian citizens to receive more objective information about upcoming events – a statement that is hotly disputed by experts.
One of them, a cybersecurity lawyer from the United States, told Motherboard that the consequences of such a step would be felt not by the Russian military or the government, but by ordinary citizens. “ICANN is not in a position to influence the Russian state or its leadership,” Frederick Jennings said, hinting at the successful testing in 2019 of an alternative “national” the Internet, which allows you to keep the network operational in case of disconnection from the World Wide Web. «Such actions will harm innocent Russian citizens only because of their use of the .ru domain or their presence in Russiaand».
Disconnecting from the global network will also undermine the credibility of ICANN as a standards regulator and deprive the Internet of the neutrality that it has declared since its inception. «In the long term, such a decision will create a precedent when small industry associations in Los Angeles and Amsterdam will play the role of an arbitrator in international conflicts and block sovereign national domains of other countries“, – said Woodcock, head of the non-profit organization for Internet infrastructure Packet Clearing.
Woodcock added that the forced closure of Russian domain names “will violate cryptographic principles“, established by the Global Cyberspace Security Commission, a research body founded in 2017 in the Netherlands to ensure security and stability in cyberspace.
Other observers were more emphatic in their warnings, warning that actions to ban Russian domain names en masse could eventually lead to a scenario in which the world wide web would forever be divided along geopolitical lines.
“Calls to cut Russia off from the Internet are a slippery slope, because “splinternet“this is the complete opposite of the philosophy of creating the Internet,” said Andrew Sullivan, president of the Internet Society. —We must resist these initiatives, no matter how tempting they may be.”
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