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Updates: How Tech Organizations Are Supporting Ukraine

Twitter, Meta, SpaceX and other companies are supporting Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. A campaign, #TechForUkraine, offers tech help to NGOs.
Feb 28th, 2022 11:12am by
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This article was updated March 2, 2022.

As Russia carries out an invasion of Ukraine, tech organizations around the globe are offering help to people who live and work in the embattled country.

The Tech to the Rescue Foundation, founded in March 2020 to match technology companies with needy charities during the COVID-19 pandemic, on Thursday launched a campaign called #TechForUkraine, which has pledged to support Ukrainian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by providing pro bono digital services for them. As of Friday, more than 225 companies in over 25 countries and more than 300 individuals had pledged their support.

From Amazon Web Services, “We got free infrastructure for projects being created within #TechForUkraine,” according to  Jacek Siadkowski, co-founder and managing director of Tech to the Rescue, who is based in Warsaw.  “We got similar offers from Microsoft and Salesforce as well.”

Other participating companies include Allegro, Boldare, Divante, ITMagination, Netguru, Sii and Tylko. Nearly 75% of the participant companies so far have 100 employees or fewer, according to figures provided by Siadkowski.

The NGOs that #TechForUkraine is helping are most in need of coordination technology, helping them map humanitarian initiatives, Siadkowski told The New Stack in an email. After that, the most urgent need is for psychological and other personal support, “organizing effective ways to ask for help and report the needs of the victims,” he wrote.

After that comes resource management, so that help goes where it’s needed most, Siadkowski stated. And then, he wrote, “Cybersecurity is important, but it seems people are afraid of their real security right now — for a reason.”

Tech Companies Pitching In

Among other companies and organizations offering support to Ukraine and its people:

  • Airbnb has pledged to provide free, short-term housing for up to 100,000 refugees from Ukraine.
  • Apple on Tuesday announced it had paused sales of physical products, like iPhones, to Russia, and removed Russian state-funded news publishers like RT News and Sputnik News from its app store. Live traffic updates for Ukraine have been disabled in Apple Maps. The company has also limited the use of Apple Pay and other features in Russia.
  • Atlas VPN is offering free one-year Premium VPN subscriptions to journalists covering the war in Ukraine, the company stated on its website. The organization said its VPN would shield a user from Russian DDoS cyberattacks and make it more difficult for their ISP or third parties to track their online activities.
  • Bunq, a mobile banking company based in the Netherlands, is offering to help both Ukrainians and Russians fleeing the war to shelter in Georgia or Bulgaria and to get Dutch HSM visas. In a post on LinkedIn, Ali Niknam — Bunq’s founder, who is of Iranian descent — cited his youthful experience living through the Iran-Iraq conflict as a motivation for his company’s initiative.

  • Google on Tuesday announced in a statement by Kent Walker, its president for global affairs, that it and its philanthropic arm, Google.org, has given a total of $15 million in cash and advertising support to aid organizations serving the people of Ukraine. Like Apple, It also has removed Russian state-funded news publishers from its features and is blocking content from those sources from YouTube across Europe. The company has also turned off Ukraine traffic data in Google Maps. And, Walker added, “As individuals, regions and institutions like banks are sanctioned, products like Google Pay may become unavailable in certain countries.”
  • Meta, the parent company of Facebook, announced on Sunday it has taken down a network run by people in Russia and Ukraine that targeted Ukraine and violated the company’s policy against “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” According to Meta’s website, “they ran websites posing as independent news entities and created fake personas across many social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, Odnoklassniki and VK.”
    The company also said it had established a special operations center composed of native Russian and Ukrainian speakers to monitor Facebook and report issues in real-time.
  • Nokia, the network equipment company based in Finland, announced Tuesday that it has stopped delivering to Russia, according to Reuters.
  • Oracle, in a response to a plea from Fedorov, announced on Twitter Wednesday that it has suspended all operations in Russia.

  • SpaceX, the spacecraft company founded by Elon Musk, is providing internet service to Ukraine by deploying 50 of its Starlink satellites to the region. The move was made following a personal plea on Twitter to Musk from Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation.

  • Twitter on Friday posted information about how it is monitoring for risks to users in the war zone and guarding against the spread of misinformation. Among  the steps: temporarily pausing advertising in Russia and Ukraine, the company tweeted, “to ensure critical public safety information is elevated and ads don’t distract from it.”  The company also said it would match employees’ donations to “verified organizations supporting Ukrainian refugees seeking shelter and safety.” It also pledged to make a direct donation to a partner organization.

Is your organization doing something to support Ukraine? Tell us at: editorial@thenewstack.io.

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