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Amid Ukraine crisis, Russia scared ICANN might switch off its domains

Kevin Murphy, September 19, 2014, 13:57:40 (UTC), Domain Policy

Russia is reportedly worried that the current wave of Western sanctions against it may wind up including ICANN turning off its domain names.

According to a report in the local Vedomosti newspaper, the nation’s Security Council is to meet Monday to discuss contingency plans for the possibility of being hit by internet-based sanctions.

Part of the discussion is expected to relate to what would happen if the US government forced ICANN to remove the local ccTLDs — .ru, .рф, and the discontinued .su — from the DNS root, according to Vedomosti’s source.

The paper reports, citing a source, that “officials want to control the entire distribution system of domain names in RUnet entirely”. RUnet is an informal term for the Russian-language web.

The report goes on to explain that the government’s goal is not to isolate the Russian internet, but to ensure it remains functioning within the country if its ccTLDs are cut off in the rest of the world.

Russia has been hit by sanctions from the US and Europe in recent months due to its involvement in the Ukraine crisis, but so far these have been of the regular economic kind.

Frankly, I find the possibility of the US government asking ICANN to intervene in this way — and ICANN complying — unlikely in the extreme. It would go dead against the current US policy of removing itself almost entirely from the little influence it already has over the root system.

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Comments (6)

  1. S says:

    Another reason to invest in the safety of idn.com and not idn.cctld, .ru is a major roll of the dice. Same as .cn, .cm, and more recently .in. The meeting in India had to pull .in names from auction.

  2. Scott Pinzon says:

    Good lord. Talk about opening Pandora’s box! What a horrible precedent it would set if the US threatens to cut countries off the Internet. That would really hasten international flight OUT of ICANN… and into a whole new balkanized Internet (possibly, minus the “Inter”).

    • @Scott Pinzon,

      What makes me laugh is that threatening the USG with “balkanization” of the internet is already passe.

      Countries of the world already acted out this threat, it’s euphemistically called ccTLDs.

      The USG allowed ICANN to let every country on earth to establish their own country code, and they did.

      So why the empty threat? It’s already occurred, and the internet yawned. Dot com didn’t even notice.

      So, it’s like threatening to do sometime that you’ve already done? I hope to break this to ya, I’m sure the USG finds it amusing.

  3. John Berryhill says:

    “It would go dead against the current US policy…”

    …thus making it a “former US policy” like many others.

  4. Steve says:

    This could also be a ploy designed to strengthen the case to transfer internet governance away from the U.S. to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU); as championed by Russia, China and Brazil.

    Steve

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      Brazil is not a supporter of an ITU solution to USG IANA control. See Netmundial transcripts; also, China seems to be moving towards non-govt solution as well, as Netmundial Initiative at WEF has shown. That leaves Russia and India as strong supporters of a multilateral organisation like the ITU.

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