Breaking News

Internet backbone provider shuts down service in Russia

Internet backbone provider shuts down service in Russia

Cogent Communications, an Internet backbone provider that routes data across intercontinental connections, has severed ties with Russian customers over its invasion of Ukraine, as first reported by The Washington Post. The US-based company is one of the world's largest Internet backbone providers and serves customers in 50 countries, including several high-profile Russian companies.

In a letter to Russian customers obtained by The Post, Cogent cited "economic sanctions" and an "increasingly uncertain security situation" as the motives behind its total shutdown in the country. Cogent similarly told The Verge that it "terminated its contracts" with Russian customers in compliance with the EU's move to ban Russian state-backed media outlets.

As Doug Madori, an internet analyst at network tracking company Kentik, points out, some of the company's most prominent Russian customers include state-backed telecom giant Rostelecom, Russian search engine Yandex, and Russia's two biggest mobile carriers: MegaFon and VON.

Unplugging Russians from Cogent's global network may result in slower connectivity, but will not completely disconnect Russians from the Internet, Madori notes. Traffic from former Cogent customers will instead flow back to other backbone providers in the country, potentially resulting in network congestion. There is no indication whether other Internet backbone providers will also suspend services in Russia.

Digital rights activists have criticized Cogent's decision to distance itself from Russia, arguing that it could prevent Russian citizens from accessing reliable information about the invasion. Eva Galperin, director of cyber security at the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said on Twitter: "By cutting Russians off Internet access, they take away from sources of independent news and the ability to organize anti-war protests."

However, Cogent's CEO Dave Schaefer told The Post that Cogent's move is not intended to "hurt anyone," and the company does not want to block Russian citizens from accessing the Internet. Cogent aims to prevent the Russian government from using the company's network for cyberattacks and propaganda, The Post reports.

The Russian government has already made it more difficult for Russians to gain access to news sources and social platforms. On Friday, it passed a new law banning "fake news" and completely blocking access to Facebook. The country has also restricted access to Twitter and threatened to block Wikipedia over "false messages" about the war in Ukraine.

No comments