US says internet services are exempt from Russian sanctions

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The US Department of the Treasury is exempting telecommunications services from ongoing sanctions against Russia. The move, confirmed April 7, follows requests from advocacy groups who feared a disruption would cut off Russian activists’ access to the outside world. It may not, however, cause companies that voluntarily cut off access to restore it. The new order authorizes business transactions involving “services, software, hardware, or technology incident to the exchange of communications over the internet,” including messaging, domain registration, email, and sharing photos or videos. It does not authorize transactions involving Russian financial institutions or state-controlled entities like the Russian Ministry of Finance. Access Now and other nonprofits have pushed the US government to avoid disrupting internet access as part of larger sanctions against Russia over its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The decision comes after several telecommunications companies pulled out of Russia and suspended user accounts from the country. Internet backbone providers Lumen and Cogent voluntarily ended service in March, as did Mailchimp operator Intuit, which said it was making the decision “in support of the people of Ukraine.” Other companies have moved specifically in response to the sanctions, however — like Slack, which blocked access from Russia citing a need to comply with US regulations.

US says internet services are exempt from Russian sanctions Authorization of Transactions Relkated to Telecommunications and Certain Internet-Based Communications (Department of Treasury)