[At-Large] Ukraine, .RU, and internet governance

Hank Nussbacher hank at post.isoc.org.il
Mon Mar 14 05:47:47 UTC 2022

On 13/03/2022 23:40, Karl Auerbach via At-Large wrote:

I would like to share a fascinating analysis I saw presented by someone 
named Alex on a different list.  He posted his analysis in response to:


"We believe it is now incumbent upon the Internet community to deliberate
and make decisions in the face of humanitarian crises. We may not
responsibly dismiss such crises without consideration, nor with
consideration only for the self-interest of our community?s own direct
constituents; instead, maturity of governance requires that self 
interests be
weighed in the balance with broader moral and societal considerations.
This document is the beginning of a global Internet governance conversation
about the appropriate scope of sanctions, the feasibility of sanctions
within the realm of our collective responsibility, and our moral imperative
to minimize detrimental consequences."

And here is what Alex stated "In less abstract terms, the framing of 
community measures as Internet governance basically does exactly what 
the Russians and Chinese have been worried about for years - and 
increases their play, especially towards the undecided, that the 
Internet overall needs to be taken away from those who inherited by 
"accidents of history" and given to the "adults" (government - 
specifically ITU) to manage. The timing is even more counterproductive 
for the community as it just looked like the Russian candidate for the 
head of the ITU (who wants to take over the IANA function) was going to 
lose to the US candidate. Now that might be more difficult, and the 
rocky road to to WSIS+20 even more perilous."

I checked and the candidates up for election in August are indeed an 
American vs Russian:

Now imagine Putin plays chess and decides to play the long game with his 
intention of taking control of the Internet via his rep as 
Secretary-General in the ITU.  He invades Ukraine knowing that the US 
and Western Europe response will be sanctions and cutting off different 
aspects of the Russian Internet.  He can now go to numerous countries 
that might have voted for Doreen and convince them to place their vote 
for Rashid Ismailov.

Hank Nussbacher

> I am very much in agreement with your sentiments.
> The community of internet related bodies seems be clutching at their 
> pearls, trying to protect abstract notions of "neutrality" that may or 
> not even exist in reality, while real people are suffering real 
> injuries and real deaths.
> It may well be that the tools available, such as an effort to slow 
> (but not stop) .ru DNS lookups, may have limited impact.
> However, limited impacts cumulate; Gulliver was tied down in Lilliput 
> by many tiny threads, any one of which he could have easily broken but 
> in combination proved the stronger.
> The community of internet bodies seems, like Pygmalian, to have fallen 
> so deeply in love with its creation that their sense of ethics and 
> morality has been benumbed; they love the statue they have carved over 
> the living people upon which it is modeled.
>     --karl--
> On 3/13/22 11:12 AM, Antony Van Couvering via At-Large wrote:
>> It’s appears that there is no appetite within this community to block 
>> .ru, or to do something substantive to help Ukraine in its hour of 
>> need, or even to say something about it. Finally, something that 
>> unites a normally fractious group.
>> I would challenge people to come up with something else that would 
>> hurt Putin’s regime and/or help Ukraine, or at the very least advance 
>> a single argument that isn’t based on the difficulty of navigating 
>> bureaucracies.
>> If not even that, how about a statement condemning Putin’s invasion? 
>>  Or is that too a bridge too far?
>> Either internet governance is meaningful and important in everyday 
>> life, and therefore its leaders and institutions must have a position 
>> on big events that affect the internet, or it is irrelevant and after 
>> decades we should admit that our governance structures cannot meet 
>> the moment and need to be reformed.
>> As for Andrew Sullivan’s statement as head of ISOC, it is a very good 
>> summary of the arguments against blocking .RU.  Effectively, he is 
>> saying that the internet is and must remain apolitical and serve as a 
>> connecting force and not a divisive one.
>> That sounds good and right on the face of it, but if that’s the case, 
>> I have a few questions:
>> - where is ISOC’s statement on Putin dismantling free and open 
>> internet within Russia?
>> - where is ISOC’s statement on Putin’s ongoing violent effort to 
>> dismantle the free and open internet in Ukraine?
>> Surely these actual, real, and effective actions to harm the internet 
>> deserve as much of a reaction than the hypothetical harm of a 
>> hypothetical action. I am struck by the tender concern that Russian 
>> citizens should have unfettered internet while Ukrainian users 
>> huddling in bomb shelters without internet access (or power, or food) 
>> are asked to cheer the principle of universal access.
>> My view remains that neutrality in the face of mass murder is not 
>> neutral.  These are extraordinary times, yet neither ICANN nor ISOC 
>> nor indeed any internet governance institution that I’m aware of — 
>> and I would be glad to stand corrected — can muster the courage to 
>> forcefully condemn, in a stand-alone statement, Putin’s attempt not 
>> only to eradicate Ukrainians’ free access to the internet but all the 
>> rest of their human rights as well.
>> As a group, internet governance experts have an opportunity to raise 
>> their voice and demonstrate that a murderous invading regime cannot 
>> be normalized by continuing business as usual.
>> So far, I have heard nothing but crickets.
>>>> On Mar 13, 2022, at 1:07 AM, Holly Raiche via At-Large 
>>>> <at-large at atlarge-lists.icann.org> wrote:
>>>>  Folks
>>>> Please read the statement from the ISOC CEO - a very well argued 
>>>> statement about why cutting off .ru is not the answer, regardless 
>>>> of how much we all deplored the actions Russia has taken
>>>> Holly
>>>> https://www.internetsociety.org/blog/2022/03/why-the-world-must-resist-calls-to-undermine-the-internet/
>>>>> On Mar 12, 2022, at 7:59 PM, Roberto Gaetano via At-Large 
>>>>> <at-large at atlarge-lists.icann.org> wrote:
>>>>> Unfortunately, it is not an international law issue, otherwise it 
>>>>> would be solved without any responsibility by ICANN - just follow 
>>>>> the order of the judge.
>>>>> The problem lies elsewhere, and is whether ICANN is or not an 
>>>>> independent authority that can be trusted for following basic 
>>>>> principles and apply them evenly in all cases.
>>>>> If ICANN decides to remove .ru from the root, based on a request 
>>>>> by Ukraine (who, by the way, is no longer insisting in asking 
>>>>> this, maybe because they have understood the unintended 
>>>>> consequences) I don’t see how it could resist the request of 
>>>>> removing the ccTLDs of what the US consider “rogue” countries, 
>>>>> like Iran, Cuba, and others.
>>>>> And this besides all what has been said at length in this and 
>>>>> other lists, like that it will not make .ru disappear, just invite 
>>>>> operators to have their own copy of the root.
>>>>> This said, there are other actions that ICANN can take, but after 
>>>>> having decided whether it will keep its reputation of being a 
>>>>> reliable steward for the Internet infrastructure in the global 
>>>>> interest or indulge in actions that, while not achieving any 
>>>>> practical result, will be emotionally satisfying.
>>>>> Cheers,
>>>>> Roberto

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