US exempts internet communication services from Russian sanctions

12 Apr 2022

The US Treasury has exempted the provision of internet communication services from US sanctions against Russia, in a move welcomed by human rights and open access groups, reported. A statement from the US Office of Foreign Assets Control said: ‘The exportation or reexportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States or by US persons, wherever located, to the Russian Federation of services, software, hardware, or technology incident to the exchange of communications over the internet, such as instant messaging, videoconferencing, chat and email, social networking, sharing of photos, movies, and documents, web browsing, blogging, web hosting, and domain name registration services, that is prohibited by the RuHSR [Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions Regulations], is authorised.’ Certain exceptions apply, such as transactions with a list of Russian financial institutions.

Following US sanctions imposed on Russia in late February, internet backbone providers Cogent and Lumen stated they would end data transmission to Russia, although according to Datacenterdynamics’ report Lumen appeared to remain connected to the country, while various other US companies including Cisco, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, PayPal, Visa and Mastercard have suspended Russian business, whereas Amazon Web Services (AWS) ceased taking new customers in Russia or Belarus without closing its operations. On the other hand, content delivery network (CDN), Edge and web infrastructure companies Cloudflare and Akamai have declared they will continue operating in Russia to support internet access for citizens.