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Mailchimp criticized for blocking activists’ accounts in Russia

Human rights activists roast the email marketing provider for blocking NGOs and independent media groups in Russia.

"Mailchimp and other tech companies have failed to restore service for human rights defenders, helping Russia's repressive regime silence civil society," Access Now, a non-profit with a mission to defend and extend the digital civil rights of people around the world, claims.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, many tech companies, including Intuit-owned Mailchimp, stopped serving customers in Russia and Belarus.

"Although Intuit has no material business in Russia and Ukraine from a revenue or supply chain perspective, in support of the people of Ukraine, we are suspending all customer accounts in Russia," Intuit then said.

Following the decision, all Mailchimp users in Russia got the following message: "As part of Intuit, Mailchimp is no longer supporting accounts based in Russia. This account has been suspended."

Many users took it to social media to complain about the decision to suspend all accounts, even those belonging to clients who oppose the Kremlin’s war.

In a statement to CNN in April, Mailchimp, recognizing that many people and organizations within Russia oppose the war, said it had a "process for evaluating and reinstating select accounts, including independent news organizations, civil rights, and similar groups."

The company didn't specify what and how many accounts would be reinstated. According to Access Now, many accounts belonging to the groups mentioned above remain blocked.

In June, human rights activists sent a letter to Mailchimp asking to live up to its pledge, but Mailchimp is still silent two months later.

According to Access Now, Mailchimp is clocking media organizations like Crew against Torture, GOLOS, Holod, and OVD-Info, as well as charity organizations that help homeless individuals and individuals with HIV.

"Mailchimp's failure to act not only disconnects these organizations from the people they serve, it stops them from undertaking the email fundraising campaigns they need to keep their operations going," Access Now said.

Activists highlighted that Slack, Sectigo, and other communication and security tools providers blocked all Russian accounts.

"Fortunately, some companies have reversed their decisions. After we called out Namecheap, an SSL certificate provider, for silencing Putin regime critics, they changed course, announcing they would still provide services for civil society actors in Russia and Belarus opposing the war in Ukraine," Access Now said.

Cybernews reached out to Intuit for an update, which will be released as soon as we learn more.

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