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A Tech Guide to the Russia-Ukraine war

The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has rocked the world in more ways than one. 

Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 20, drawing condemnation from nearly all quarters. Since then, the invasion has escalated to a full-fledged war that has led to civilian casualties in the thousands, accusations of war crimes, and massive ramifications for geopolitics, energy markets, etc. Although some have described it as “the first major land war in Europe in decades”,  one facet of the conflict that has stood out is the role of tech and the tech industry.

Big Tech companies like Meta and Google have been quick to come up with a slew of measures, even as more and more platforms opt out of Russia which has attempted to retaliate for the most part. These developments have given rise to concerns that we may be heading towards a splintered Internet.

MediaNama has prepared a guide that provides an overview of how tech platforms have reacted to the Russia-Ukraine war, what the Ukrainian government is asking of international organisations, and how the Kremlin has hit back.

Key Reading:

  1. A compilation of cyber attacks since the conflict began [read]
  2. How cryptocurrencies are turning into another battleground for Russia and Ukraine [read]
  3. Western countries have blocked Russian banks from using SWIFT, a move which poses grave implications [read]

Social media platforms:

  1. Meta has restricted access, banned ads, encrypted chats, expanded fact-checking, and taken other measures [read]
  2. Twitter has paused ads, labelled tweets, suspended recommendations, introduced prompts, and more [read]
  3. Google has blocked YouTube channels, reduced recommendations, shared safety tips, and said no to ad monetisation by Russian state-controlled media [read]
  4. TikTok has responded to Russia’s ‘fake news’ law by not allowing livestreams and new video uploads [read]
  5. Reddit has banned all links to Russian state-run media including RT and Sputnik [read]

Payments companies/platforms:

  1. Visa, Mastercard, and American Express has halted all services in Russia [read]
  2. PayPal has shut down its services in Russia, citing “violent military aggression in Ukraine” [read]
  3. Russians only have limited access to Apple Pay and Google Pay [read]

Streaming platforms:

  1. Netflix first rebuffed the Russian government’s order to broadcast state-run channels and then suspended its services [read]
  2. Amazon has disabled access to Prime Video for customers based in Russia [read]
  3. Roku has said it will no longer offer RT among its channels [read]
  4. Spotify has closed its office in Russia and removed Russian state-sponsored content from its platform [read]

App Stores:

  1. Apple has paused all Search Ad campaigns running on its App Store in Russia [read]
  2. Apps of Russia’s state-controlled media RT and Sputnik have been taken off the App Store [read]

Product sales:

  1. Apple has suspended online and in-store sales of products in Russia [read]
  2. Microsoft has suspended new sales in Russia, including Xbox products [read]
  3. Samsung has suspended the shipment of phones, chips, and other consumer electronics to Russia [read]
  4. Nintendo has shut down its eShop in Russia, barring gamers from making digital purchases [read]
  5. Sony Playstation consoles and software are no longer being sold in Russia [read]

Cloud computing and web services:

  1. AWS has barred customers in Russia and Belarus from creating new cloud computing accounts [read]
  2. Cloudflare has agreed to take steps in compliance with sanctions but refuses to step away from Russia [read]
  3. MongoDB, a cloud database platform, has decided to terminate accounts of users in Russia and Belarus [read]

Other tech players:

  1. Video game companies EA, Activision Blizzard, and Epic Games pull the plug on their services in Russia [read]
  2. Crypto Exchanges Binance, Coinbase, and Kraken dismiss calls to freeze the accounts of all Russian users unless they’re legally obliged to do so [read] 
  3. Airbnb members in Russia and Belarus stopped from making bookings, blocked all listings in these countries [read]
  4. WeWork has wound up business in Russia, dropped expansion plans and divesting in operations there [read]
  5. Dating app Bumble exits Russia, removes app from Apple and Google app stores [read]
  6. DuckDuckGo has stopped using ‘Russia’s Google’ Yandex to provide non-news links on its search engine [read]
  7. Didi Global has abandoned plans to cease its ride-hailing operations in Russia [read]
  8. Cybersecurity firm NetScout and design-software provider Autodesk have paused sales, support, and services in Russia [read]
  9. Cogent Communications’ high-capacity internet service is no longer available to its Russian customers [read]
  10. Lumen, a U.S.-based internet service provider, ceased operations in Russia [read]

Ukraine’s pleas:

  1. Ukraine asked to revoke domains issued in Russia and shut down primary DNS servers in the country but ICANN has rejected this request [read]
  2. Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure were called on to shut off their services for any and all Russians [read]
  3. Eight crypto exchanges have been urged to stop servicing Russian users over concerns of bypassing sanctions [read]

Russia’s responses:

  1. Russia has cut off access to Facebook and Twitter in retaliation [read]
  2. It has demanded that Google restore access to its media YouTube channels in Ukraine [read]
  3. YouTube accused of showing ‘anti-Russian’ ads by the country’s internet censor [read]
  4. Wikipedia’s Russia site editors are facing threats to take down information about Russian soldier casualties and military violence against civilians [read]
  5. President Putin has signed a ‘fake news’ law Russia has passed a law that carries a punishment of up to 15 years for spreading fake news about the Russian military [read]

Workarounds:

  1. RT looks to circumvent bans from YouTube and other social media platforms by broadcasting on alternative video site Rumble [read]
  2. Russia’s Sberbank is looking to issue Mir card with China’s UnionPay, after Mastercard and Visa stopped operating in the country [read]
  3. BBC has reverted to Cold War-era shortwave broadcasts as Russia blocks news of Ukraine invasion [read]

Views: 

  1. After platforms react to the Ukraine crisis with various measures, can the same be asked of them in other countries? [read]
  2. The Russian ‘splinternet’ is here [read]
  3. Russia’s digital iron curtain will fail [read]

We will keep updating this post with more resources and developments.

Also Read:

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MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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