Companies that drop Russian customers due to the nation's invasion of Ukraine need to ensure they are not impacting those criticizing Putin.
Domain name registrar Namecheap, workplace communications platform Slack, and email sender Mailchimp are among those that may have disconnected legal aid organizations, human rights groups, and independent media in the country as part of wider bans on Russian users.
"Due to the Russian regime's war crimes and human rights violations in Ukraine, we will no longer provide services to users registered in Russia or Belarus," Namecheap said in a message to a customer, published by Natalia Krapiva, the Tech-Legal counsel of digital rights group Access Now.
"We've detected that your website supports the regime and ask that you obtain and install a new SSL from another provider by March 29, 2022."
There's just one problem: That customer, Teplitsa ST, provides educational projects for civil activists, including teaching Russians how to use safe VPNs and the Tor browser to escape Russian Internet controls. It is a partner of Access Now and non-profit TechSoup.
"Obviously, Namecheap did ZERO due diligence," Krapiva said.
She added: "Slack and Mailchimp cut services to human rights groups & independent media in Russia. These include legal aid orgs that are helping jailed anti-war protestors as I write this.
"I’m sure the intentions are good, but they are inadvertently helping Putin."
Krapiva called on the companies to slow down, do due diligence, and consult experts about how to enforce sanctions.
Web infrastructure companies Akamai and Cloudflare said that they were equally concerned about blocking access to information within Russia, and were therefore planning to continue to operate within the country.
Internet backbone Cogent has ceased all business with Russia, while Lumen has pledged to end operations there. Cisco, Google, Microsoft, and Oracle have also suspended work in the country, along with Apple, Netflix, Sabre, Ericsson, PayPal, Mastercard, and Visa.