As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine intensifies, the war-torn country has requested that the World Wide Web (WWW) and Russia’s top-level domains (TLDs) be removed.
Ukrainian ministers have written to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) requesting that the domains “.ru,” “.NN,” and “ace.su” be revoked, either permanently or temporarily.
“This list is not exhaustive and may also include other domains issued in the Russian Federation. Also, shut down DNS (Domain Name Servers) root servers situated in the Russian Federation,” said Andrii Nabok, Ukrainian representative for ICANN.
The Internet is a global network of shared standards and protocols, and the Domain Name System (DNS) serves as the master address list for all web resources.
“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,” Nabok said.
The Ukrainian IT infrastructure has been subjected to numerous Russian-led attacks, impeding citizens’ and the 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,” he added.
According to ZDNet, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov has also requested that RIPE NCC, the regional Internet registry for Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Central Asia, withdraw Russia and its Local Internet Registries (LIR) rights to use their assigned IPv4 and IPv6 addresses and block their DNS root servers.
It would be extremely disruptive if ICANN and the RIPE NCC agreed to “shut down Russia’s DNS root servers.”
However, the Internet’s governing bodies appear unlikely to take action.
“Keeping the protocol layer operational in Russia is the best way to ensure that sites carrying diverse views to Russian audiences are effective,” said Paul Twomey, former ICANN President and CEO, in a tweet.
According to Dr. Erich Schweighofer, Principal Administrator of the European Commission, removing Russia from the Internet is a good idea”does not help supporting the civil society in this country for a democratic change”.
“ICANN is a neutral platform, not taking a position in this conflict but allowing States to act accordingly, e.g. blocking all traffic from a particular state,” he added.