This article has been updated with an new policy from Namecheap. See the end of this article for details.
On Monday, Namecheap, a company that provides domain registration services, emailed Russian citizens to inform them that it would no longer provide them with services because of the Russian government’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,” the company says in the emails sent yesterday.
“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.”
Aside from domain names, the US-based tech firm, that has a large Eastern European staff, also provides web hosting, DNS, and other internet infrastructure services.
The company told Russian users that their web pages would redirect to an error message and that all top-level domains should be transferred to other providers by March 22.
“Additionally, and with immediate effect, you will no longer be able to use Namecheap Hosting, EasyWP, and Private Email with a domain provided by another registrar in zones .ru, .xn--p1ai (рф), .by, .xn--90ais (бел), and .su.
“All websites will resolve to 403 Forbidden, however, you can contact us to assist you with your transfer to another provider.”
CEO Richard Kirkendall insisted on the HackerNews forum that what he was doing isn’t “deplatforming” because there are other options.
“We haven’t blocked the domains, we are asking people to move. There are plenty of other choices out there when it comes to infrastructure services so this isn’t ‘deplatforming’,” Kirkendall explained, when faced with pushback on the decision.
“People that are getting angry need to point that at the cause, their own government. If more grace time is necessary for some to move, we will provide it.”
The CEO continued: “Ukrainian citizens are doing just fine at kicking your governments ass at this time, sacrificing their lives while at it. Time to do more and rise up. If they can do it, you can. Take control against your own corrupt and bloodthirsty government, at least you won’t be under threat of nuclear attack and constant carpet bombing like the Ukrainians while you’re doing it.”
Update: After facing criticism, Namecheap made the following announcement to Reclaim The Net:
“We would like to make a correction to our policy of terminating services to customers in Russia — announced yesterday.
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 above also applies if you are no longer a resident of Russia and do not support the regime in any way.
Extending original termination date
For those who will still be affected by our decision to terminate Namecheap services to Russia, we are extending the termination date to three weeks from today. Please make sure you have moved your services to another provider by March 22, 2022.
If there are legitimate reasons that you may need more time, we will make exceptions if they are deemed reasonable.
Thank you for your understanding
We are thankful to everyone who supports Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. Civilians are being killed at this very moment by Russian forces, paid for directly or indirectly by the taxes of Russian citizens. We hope every person in Russia can understand this and recognize the horrible atrocities that are happening right now being committed by the Russian regime.”