US exempts telecoms services from Russia sanctions — Analysis
US Treasury Department has lifted sanctions on Russian telecoms and internet companies in light of their February invasion of Ukraine.
The move follows pleas from NGOs and internet freedom groups which had argued that cutting Russians off from communication with the west would do more harm than good.Businesses involving “Services, software, hardware or other technology that are related to communication over the Internet” will no longer be subject to the heavy-handed sanctions the US imposed on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine in February, according to an order issued last week by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. However, this new order doesn’t apply to Russian financial institutions nor state-controlled entities. These remain under sanctions.
Access Now legal counsel Natalia Krapiva praised Washington’s move, declaring that “US internet communication technologies are key for human rights defenders and independent media to report on and fight Russian and Belarusian governments’ aggression in Ukraine.” Others, particularly those responsible for crafting media narratives, might argue that preventing conflicting news from grassroots reporters is a feature rather than a bug.
The rollback is a win-win situation for all involved, but it does not mean that companies which have pulled out of Russia voluntarily must resume services. Many well-known Russian companies who stopped doing business with Russia voluntarily did so. To circumvent restrictions, activists resort to VPNs and other solutions.
The decision is bad news for the Ukrainian government, which has sought to impose a de facto digital iron curtain by revoking Russia’s access to the Domain Name System. Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN has rejected the idea of Russia being excluded from the system. They claim it would erode trust and have little to no impact on Russia’s military campaign.
Russia’s communications regulator banned Facebook and Instagram last month after the social media giants and their parent company Meta permitted hate speech and encouragement of violence against Russian soldiers in some countries. After Meta’s increasingly strict crackdown on Russian media content, other platforms such as Twitter, YouTube and Google echoed the decision, many Russian state media websites have been banned in numerous countries.
Sanctions push BRICS states towards closer ties – Moscow
Google and search engines ordered Google to delete RT and other Russian state media from the list. The European Union also blocked sites directly from member countries.
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