The office of Russian Internet company Group is seen in Moscow on June 26, 2019. CPJ recently joined a letter calling for sanctions on Russia not to interfere with internet access in the country. (Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)

CPJ joins letter calling for sanctions on Russia not to restrict internet access

On March 10, the Committee to Protect Journalists joined 40 other civil society groups in a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden, calling for his administration to ensure that sanctions imposed on Russia in retaliation for the country’s invasion of Ukraine do not interfere with Russians’ access to the internet.

The letter notes that, as Russia’s invasion escalates, governments and private companies have faced pressures, including by Ukrainian authorities, to restrict or block access by users in Russia. However, further restricting the internet in Russia—and potentially in Belarus—would further isolate the people of those countries and leave them uninformed, while accelerating violence and repression, the letter states.

“Journalism and independent media depend on access to secure and reliable information technologies to document events inside contested areas, and to enable people to bypass state controls on information,” the groups write.

“Overly broad restrictions on the access of the Russian people to the internet would further isolate the embattled pro-democracy and anti-war activists, and impede the ability of NGOs, human rights groups, journalists, and attorneys inside and outside Russia to provide critical information to citizens about the current state of affairs and their rights.”

The full text of the letter can be read here.