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

Karl Auerbach karl at cavebear.com
Mon Mar 14 01:05:09 UTC 2022

My grandparents came from Tarnopol (Tarnopil) and Lvov (Lviv), so I'm 
perhaps a bit more inflamed by current events than are many.

(And I recognize that the injustices being inflicted on Ukraine are just 
one of a number of such injustices that have occurred or are occurring 
in other regions around the world.)

On 3/13/22 4:44 PM, Barry Shein via At-Large wrote:
> Technically yes, ICANN has "the passwords" to pull .ru etc from the
> root servers. But do they have the authority? And if not who has the
> authority?

I agree with the thrust of your note, but let me extend and clarify:

ICANN's board  does have the legal authority (with or without consent 
from the various stakeholder groups) to act, to pull .ru.

That authority and power is not constrained by any applicable California 
or US Federal law (apart from criminal laws and various civil laws about 
misrepresentations and corporate accounting and the like, none of which 
seem applicable here.  And with regard to those civil laws it is unclear 
who, if anyone, would have legal standing to object to ICANN's actions.)

ICANN is a California corporation and has US Federal tax exemptions.  
That's it.  ICANN can not claim unique immunity or exemption or some 
imaginary status based on non-existent international agreements, laws, 
or conventions.

There are limits on ICANN's powers based on contracts into which ICANN 
has entered.  But contractual rights and duties are not hewn into stone 
by a divine hand; they are merely private promises that may be kept - or 

It has been said in law opinions and journals for more than a century, a 
contract is really just a document that establishes how much you are 
going to pay for not doing what you promise.  There's no morality 
attached, only costs.

Thor's hammer will not land on ICANN should it decide to redelegate 
.ru.  But .ru's lawyer and accountant may show up in a California or 
Federal court to ask payment of damages (and if they have a really 
strong case, may ask for an injunction.)

The big, indeed the huge, question before us is WHAT to do? That's 
hard.  That's really hard.

There's no correct answer other than that silence (or near silence) is 
easily taken as tantamount to acceptance of the status quo or even 
support for it.

On my part, I've suggested that .ru be re-delegated to an operator who 
will reduce TTLs on responses and add delay to the responses so that .ru 
remains usable and operational, but sluggish and annoying.  (Yes, 
caching will do its magic, but reducing TTL reduces the strength of that 

The contents of .ru may be unavailable, in which case the new operator 
will have to do background fetches from the old .ru servers in order to 
backfill its zone file.  That will increase the response delay, but 
that's the goal.  I figure that even this kind of back-filling form .ru 
could be coded and deployed in a few days. (Probably very long days - 
the kind of multi-24 hour long, pizza-beer-and-coffee days we used to 
have at the TCP/IP Bakeoffs and when setting up the Interop show networks.)


More information about the At-Large mailing list