Domain registrar Namecheap says the company will no longer be doing business with companies and individuals registered in Russia, forcing them to find new domain registrars, as consequences for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine slowly begin to pile up.
“Due to the Russian regime’s war crimes and human rights violations in Ukraine, we will no longer be providing services to users registered in Russia,” an email sent to Namecheap users said. “While we sympathize that this war may not affect your views or opinion on the matter, the fact is, your authoritarian government is committing human rights abuses and engaging in war crimes so this is a policy decision we have made and will stand by.”
Domain name registrars manage the registration of domain names and the assignment of IP addresses under those domains. Namecheap’s email urged any customer in Russia that has registered a domain with the company to migrate their business to another provider by March 6. The company currently has 2 million global customers and employees in more than 18 countries help manage more than 14 million domains.
A Namecheap representative confirmed the decision with Motherboard. “We are hoping more tech companies will join us in taking action,” the representative said, hinting at additional announcements in the days to come.
The company also stated that Russian-registered customers who use the company’s Namecheap Hosting, EasyWP, or Private Email services with a .ru, .xn--p1ai (рф), .by, .xn--90ais (бел), and .su. domain provided by another register will now experience 404 errors, though Namecheap says it will help users with domain transfers.
The company told Motherboard that the company would make exceptions for some customers under certain circumstances, including independent journalists or news organizations, charitable organizations, or essential health services.
Reactions to the company’s decision were mixed, with some online commenters arguing that the move unfairly punished Russian citizens, many of whom oppose the government’s invasion.
“I'm in a really fucking vulnerable position, as well as hundreds [of] other developers who depended on your company,” one user said.
A Namecheap representative confirmed the authenticity of online comments made by CEO Richard Kirkendall, who argued that the company is simply asking Russian-based users to switch registrars, but is not blocking domains.
“We have people on the ground in Ukraine being bombarded now non stop,” he said. “I cannot with good conscience continue to support the Russian regime in any way, shape or form. People that are getting angry need to point that at the cause: their own government.”
While Russia has faced a growing array of significant financial and cultural consequences for its inversion of neighboring Ukraine, the tech industry’s response has been scattered. Cryptocurrency exchanges like Binance have refused calls to ban Russian users, stating the move would “fly in the face of the reason why crypto exists."
Social media outlets like Twitter have taken to more clearly labeling Russian state-funded media outlets such as RT, while the Russian government announced it will be restricting Russian citizen access to Facebook after the social media giant refused to stop fact-checking Russian state-supported news outlets accused of spreading propaganda.