ICANN Rejects Ukraine Request To Remove Russia


It comes as no surprise that Ukraine’s request to internet domain body ICANN to remove Russian domains, has been rejected

Ukraine’s attempt to cut Russia off from the global Internet has failed after ICANN, the global internet domain non-profit in charge of domain names, refused its request.

Earlier this week Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov sent a letter to ICANN President and CEO Göran Marby, in which Fedorov asked the body to remove Russian domains from the internet.

The Ukraine request was certainly ambitious, but doomed to fail, as it would result in five million domains being blocked from the global Internet.

Ukraine - Shutterstock - © Mykhaylo Palinchak

ICANN response

In his letter, Ukraine’s Fedorov pointed out that Russia’s “atrocious crimes have been made possible mainly due to Russian propaganda machinery using websites continuously spreading disinformation, hate speech, promoting violence and hiding the truth regarding the war in Ukraine.”

He requested that ICANN revoke the domains “.ru”, “.рф”, and “.su”. He also requested that ICANN help revoke SSL certificates for those domains, and to shut down DNS root servers serving the Russian Federation, namely Saint Petersburg, RU and Moscow, RU.”

ICANN’s Marby quick responded to the Ukraine request.

“First, let me express my personal concern for the well-being of your citizens in the midst of this conflict,” wrote Marby. “ICANN and its global community are aware of and concerned about the terrible toll being exacted against your country.”

“ICANN is an independent technical organisation that manages the Internet’s unique identifiers,” he stated.

“ICANN is a facilitator of the security, stability, and resiliency of these identifiers with the objective of a single, global, interoperable Internet,” wrote Marby.

“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 politicised, 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 said that Ukraine’s request is neither technically feasible nor within the mission of ICANN.

“As you know, the Internet is a decentralised system,” Marby added. “No one actor has the ability to control it or shut it down. ICANN’s primary role, through the functions of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), is to ensure the consistent and unique assignment of Internet identifiers in line with global policies.”

No punitive actions

“Regardless of the source, ICANN does not control Internet access or content,” Marby concluded.

“Within our mission, we maintain neutrality and act in support of the global Internet. Our mission does not extend to taking punitive actions, issuing sanctions, or restricting access against segments of the Internet – regardless of the provocations.”

Taking back Russian IP addresses could effectively have caused Russian websites to disappear from the internet because they have no assigned place to sit, Mallory Knodel, CTO at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a US-based think tank, previously told CNN.

It would also mean that devices in Russia including smartphones and computers would be unable to access the wider internet because they would no longer have assigned IP addresses that could identify those devices to a global network, Knodel reportedly said.