A letter from Mykhailo Fedorov, Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine and Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine to Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, asks her to “block Russian propaganda channels on YouTube, including Russia 24, TASS, RIA Novosti” in order to “help stop the disgraceful military aggression” by Russia, which has launched in illegal war to occupy Ukraine and topple its government.
YouTube hosts a number of Kremlin-backed media sites and provides a platform to Russian officials.
Other letters posted to Instagram call on U.S. tech firms to block access in Russia, in a bid to send a message to Russian citizens. A letter to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg requests that Facebook “block access of the Russian Federation citizens to Facebook and Instagram services,” a move that he believes will “motivate youth and active population of Russia to proactively stop the disgraceful military aggression.”
Federov tweeted that “Our goal is not to block the informational sources for Russians, but to engage youth, proactive and smart people. Your tsar leads you to nowhere. You should act now! I’ve contacted Meta on blocking Facebook and Instagram for citizens of Russian Federation.”
Federov published a similar letter on Friday asking Apple CEO Tim Cook to restrict access to the Apple app store inside Russia.
I’ve contacted @tim_cook, Apple's CEO, to block the Apple Store for citizens of the Russian Federation, and to support the package of US government sanctions! If you agree to have the president-killer, then you will have to be satisfied with the only available site Russia 24. pic.twitter.com/b5dm78g2vS— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) February 25, 2022
The ministry has previously advanced projects to build apps for government services, but since the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine Federov has issued a set of requests to Western technology leaders to take actions he believes may increase awareness of the conflict inside Russia itself.
We’ve also asked @Netflix for the support. We appealed to them to block the Russian Federation’s access to Netflix and shut off Russian content. We believe you do care. Let’s stop this disgraceful bloody war!— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) February 26, 2022
I’ve addressed the @Google to stop supplying Google services and products to Russian Federation. Including blocking access to Google market and Google Pay. We are sure this will motivate proactive youth to stop this war!— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) February 26, 2022
Federov has also posted keys to receive donations of cryptocurrencies to support the defense of Ukraine, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, and requested help identifying the crypto wallets of Russian leaders.
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.