UPDATE 3/2/22: Namecheap now says it’s offering “free anonymous domain registration and free web hosting to all protest or anti-war websites in Russia or Belarus.”
“Namecheap has a substantial group of team members located in Ukraine who are currently under bombardment by Russian attacks,” the company added.
UPDATE 3/1/22: Namecheap is amending the policy with exceptions for Russian-based users, who plan on using the company’s web hosting service to oppose the war.
“Firstly, we will make exceptions for all anti-regime media, protest resources, and any type of websites that are helping to end this war and regime — we will continue to welcome you using our services. Please accept our apologies for any disruption this caused, and we thank you for helping to fight against this tyranny,” the company told PCMag.
Namecheap is also extending the termination date for all other Russian-based users from March 6th to March 22nd. “If there are legitimate reasons that you may need more time, we will make exceptions if they are deemed reasonable,” the company added.
Domain and web hosting provider Namecheap is terminating all service with the company’s Russian-based users over the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Unfortunately, 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,” US-based Namecheap told Russian users in an email on Monday.
The company is asking Russian users to transfer their domains to another provider by March 6. Otherwise their sites will resolve to a 403 Forbidden page. In addition, Namecheap has begun blocking Russian clients from using the company’s web hosting and private email services over Russian internet domains, including .ru and .su.
“While we sympathize that this war may not affect your own 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,” the company added.
The decision has caused some Russian users to complain they’ve been unfairly targeted. “Whoever came up with this idea is an idiot and should be fired,” wrote one user on Twitter, who claims Namecheap is “blanket targeting” civilians, instead of going after Russia’s government.
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“Hey, @Namecheap, you are fighting for the wrong team. Internet is a place, where we can fight Putin. If you take it from us, you help him,” another Russian user wrote on Twitter.
Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall defended his company’s decision in the Hacker News forums. “We haven’t blocked the domains, we are asking people to move,” he wrote. “There are plenty of other choices out there when it comes to infrastructure services so this isn’t ‘deplatforming.’
“I sympathize with people that are not pro regime, but ultimately even those tax dollars they may generate go to the regime,” he added. “We have people on the ground in Ukraine being bombarded now non stop. I cannot with good conscience continue to support the Russian regime in any way, shape or form.”
The news occurs as the Ukrainian government is also calling on ICANN, the nonprofit group that helps oversee the internet, to revoke all domains issued to Russia, including .ru, according to Rolling Stone. “All of these measures will help users seek for reliable information in alternative domain zones, preventing propaganda and disinformation,” a Ukrainian official reportedly emailed to ICANN. However, it’s doubtful ICANN will grant such a drastic request.
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