Civil society urges USA and partners not to disrupt internet access in Russia and Belarus

A broad coalition of civil society groups urged the USA and its international partners to ensure that the people of Russia and Belarus are not cut off from the internet. In a letter to the White House, civil society groups contend that restricting internet access will only harm those opposing the conflict, who report freely and honestly on events in Russia and Belarus, and who obtain information from abroad. Peter Micek, general counsel at Access Now said that ‘The President and Treasury Department should signal to tech companies and governments supporting Ukraine that cutting internet services in Russia or Belarus will be counterproductive.’ 

The letter recommended that the US government and its international partners seeking to sanction actions by Russia and Belarus:

  • Immediately authorise the provision of services, software, and hardware related to personal communications over the internet.
  • Consult with civil society actors and technology companies to understand the likely consequences of potential sanctions.
  • Ensure that sanctions are implemented in a strategically targeted manner, consistent with international human rights principles.
  • Be transparent about the justifications for and impacts of sanctions; pledge to regularly review and, if necessary, revise sanctions; and clearly articulate the possibility of removing sanctions, as well as the factors that will lead to the revision of sanctions.