ICANN says it won't kick Russia off the internet

Ukraine had petitioned the non-profit in response to the invasion.

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Ukraine and Russian flags are seen through broken glass in this illustration taken March 1, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
Dado Ruvic / reuters

Even as governments and corporations around the globe squeeze the Russian economy through increasingly stringent financial sanctions for the country's invasion of its neighbor, Ukraine, some within the aggrieved nation have sought to punish Russia further, by kicking it off the internet entirely. 

On Monday, a pair of Ukrainian officials petitioned ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) as well as the Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC), to revoke the domains ".ru", ".рф" and ".su." They also asked that root servers in Moscow and St. Petersburg be shut down — potentially knocking websites unde those domains offline. On Thursday, ICANN responded to the request with a hard pass citing that doing so is not within the scope of ICANN's mission and that it's not really feasible to do in the first place.

"As you know, the Internet is a decentralized system. No one actor has the ability to control it or shut it down," ICANN CEO Göran Marby, wrote in his response to ICANN representative for Ukraine, Andrii Nabok, and deputy prime minister and digital transformation minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, on Thursday. 

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"Our mission does not extend to taking punitive actions, issuing sanctions, or restricting access against segments of the Internet — regardless of the provocations," he continued. "Essentially, ICANN has been built to ensure that the Internet works, not for its coordination role to be used to stop it from working."

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ICANN says it won't kick Russia off the internet