Cogent the leading Internet service provider is closing its services in Russia
Cogent the leading Internet service provider is closing its services in Russia

The Washington Post first reported that Cogent, a major internet service provider that routes data over transcontinental links, cut ties with Russian customers during the invasion of Ukraine.

The US-based company is one of the largest providers of basic Internet services in the world. The company serves customers in 50 countries, including some high-ranking Russian companies.

In a letter to Russian agents seen by The Washington Post, Cogint cited economic sanctions and growing security concerns as reasons behind the country's complete shutdown.

Cogent also said it had canceled contracts with Russian clients in compliance with the European Union's decision to ban Russian state-backed media.

Notable Russian clients include the state-backed telecom giant Rostelecom, the Russian search engine Yandex, and two of the largest mobile operators in Russia, MegaFon and VEON.

Disconnecting Russia from Cogent's global network could slow communications. However, this will not completely disconnect the Russians from the Internet.

Traffic from former Cogent customers flows to other ISPs in the country, which can cause network congestion.

And there is no indication that other major ISPs may shut down service in Russia either.

Digital rights activists have criticized Cogent's decision to separate from Russia, arguing that it may prevent Russian civilians from receiving reliable information about the invasion.

Prevent Russians from accessing the Internet

Denying Russians access to the internet cuts them off from independent sources of information and their ability to organize anti-war protests, said the director of cybersecurity for digital rights group EFF.

Cogent's CEO told The Washington Post that Cogent's actions were not intended to hurt anyone's feelings.

He explained that the company does not want to prevent Russian civilians from accessing the Internet. But Cogent is supposed to prevent the Russian government from using the company's network for cyber attacks and propaganda.

The Russian government makes it difficult for Russians to access news sources and social platforms. The state has passed a new law banning fake news and access to Facebook.

The country also restricted access to Twitter and threatened to ban Wikipedia over misinformation about the war in Ukraine.

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