Russia's Internet backbone provider suspends service

Russia’s Internet backbone provider suspends service

Cogent Communications, an internet backbone provider that connects data across continents, has severed ties with Russian customers in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The company, headquartered in the United States, is one of the world’s largest internet backbone providers, serving customers in 50 countries, including a number of prominent Russian businesses.

According to Doug Madory, an internet analyst at network tracking company Kentik, the company’s most significant Russian customers include state-backed telecom behemoth Rostelecom, Russian search engine Yandex, and two of Russia’s top mobile carriers: MegaFon and VEON.

Disconnecting Russia from Cogent’s worldwide network will almost certainly result in slower connectivity, but will not fully cut Russians off from the internet, Madory notes. Instead of using Cogent’s former clients, traffic from their former customers will be routed through other backbone providers in the country, potentially resulting in network congestion. There is no indication that other internet backbone providers will cease operations in Russia as well.

Digital rights organisations have slammed Cogent’s decision to cut ties with Russia, claiming that the move will restrict Russian civilians from getting genuine information about the invasion. “Disabling Russians’ access to the internet deprives them of independent news sources and the capacity to organise anti-war protests,” Eva Galperin, head of cybersecurity at the digital rights organisation Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote on Twitter.

The Russian government has already made access to news outlets and social media platforms more difficult for Russians. It enacted a new law prohibiting “fake news” on Friday and fully restricted access to Facebook. Additionally, the country has restricted access to Twitter and threatened to shut down Wikipedia in response to “false statements” concerning the Ukraine war.

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