On Russia, Ukraine, and ICANN

Mar. 5, 2022

Before we dive deep into the ramblings of a random internet person, let’s all take a minute to appreciate how much various companies does in these times to “support Ukraine.” Such gracious acts of benevolence like: patching games to remove Russian content; not releasing the Sonic movies in Russia; replacing the Russian flag emoji with the Ukrainian one and a heart; and so the list of immensely graciously helpful acts goes on.

While one may look at the Ukrainian government’s attempts at rallying foreign support for their cause – them trying to utilize every possible avenue they got for it – one has to wonder if the ones in charge haven’t let their attempts go a tiny bit out of hand. Because, at some point, you go from being that poor oppressed little country that can’t do anything by yourself, to outright looking like you’re exploiting the gullible masses from outside; who’ve incidentally most likely never even heard of your nation before this.

Seeing as many will not have a clear understanding of the risks that engaging in attacks on a national level carries, recruiting any and everyone to fight a cyber war against Russia is questionable by itself. To then go on to ask ICANN to effectively revoke another nation’s ability to (easily) peer with the rest of the world – and consequently the rest of the world with it – is taking those questionable requests to a whole other level. If anything, it sure is a fantastic way to look quite splendidly stupid to the entire tech-world.

One has to wonder just what such an action would actually hope to accomplish, because it sure as hell wouldn’t be hurting the government the most. What would happen, is that the Russian people would effectively get completely disconnected from any and all sources of external information – i.e. not “Russian-controlled state media”. If, as the supposed official reason for the request suggests, was truly to, effectively, educate the Russian population and stop state media’s “disinformation” from fooling the people, then this would have the complete opposite effect.

If the ICANN/IANA/ARIN/NRO/etc had been given the power to decide to dictate which countries gets to be connected when there’s conflicts around the world at a whim, that would completely destroy the trust in the internet as a whole. While one might argue that “this conflict is crystal clear,” what about the next one? Should the rest of the world “disconnect” the US when the the time comes for the next “liberation” of some other country? Most people wouldn’t agree it’s the same, and with some good reason; but who ultimately gets to decide that in the scenario where ICANN et. al. has been given that power? It wouldn’t be up to a democratic majority vote, but rather at the hands of a select few entities and their paid-for staff’s hands.


References

Набок, А. (2022). [email protected] to ICANN: Ukraine urgently need ICANN’s support. [online] Pastebin.com. Available at: https://pastebin.com/DLbmYahS [Accessed 4 Mar. 2022].

Soon, W. (2022). Ukraine is trying to get Russia removed from the internet, saying Russia has been pushing out propaganda with the aim to disinform and promote violence. [online] Business Insider. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com/ukraine-wants-to-remove-russia-from-the-internet-2022-3 [Accessed 4 Mar. 2022].