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Cutting Russia off from the internet

On Thursday, thirty-five Internet experts proposed creating an international committee to impose targeted sanctions against Russian military and propaganda websites without knocking ordinary civilian sites offline. Further quoting the Washington Post,

The letter suggests technical approaches to quarantine some Russian sites from easy online access while not affecting websites for most businesses and routine government services, such as schools and hospitals.

The most promising idea, the letter says, would be to create a list of sites that major online networks could choose to avoid, much as they already deny connections to sites known to deliver malware or spam. But as a first step, the signatories proposed creating a new volunteer committee that would convene soon to consider the issue of possible sanctions against Russian websites and how to implement them. 

And as noted by Axios, they also call for the U.S. to explicitly provide a license allowing businesses to provide essential internet services in Russia, despite sanctions, as the government has done in other sanctioned countries, such as Iran, Cuba, and Syria.

This is on the heels of Cogent and Lumen closing their service in Russia. 

Why do we care?

Building on the previous story, there’s nuance to everything.  Cutting off all of Russia from the internet is a great soundbite, but the reality is more nuanced than that.    Hurting the Russian people isn’t smart either, and here the approach of a surgical knife rather than a shotgun is savvy.    

Note that this is regulation, too – bringing diplomacy and technology together for a political solution.   There’s a greater eagerness than ever to bring regulation to tech – we saw it yesterday on cybersecurity and today on connectivity in the event of war.