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07.28.19

Reactions to Microsoft Turning GitHub Into a Racist Government’s Censorship Platform (Censorship of FOSS)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 2:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Censorship

Summary: Censorship of Free/Open Source software or denial of access to it (based on superficial criteria such as country of origin) will doom GitHub; perhaps this is what Microsoft wants anyway

YESTERDAY we explained why Microsoft had begun its latest attack on the four freedoms put forth by Richard Stallman.

The US government’s imperialism/racism has been fully adopted by Microsoft, which helps the mass surveillance for similar reasons. Citing one of the earlier reports about it, LWN wrote some hours ago: “ZDNet reports on GitHub’s blocking of users from Crimea and Iran.”

Wait, it’ll get yet worse.

The Iran ban explained (the earlier of these bans):

GitHub’s importance to software developers can’t be overstated. In the space of a decade it has become central to millions of people’s professional lives. For it to be taken away, then, must be incredibly hard to take. Not only does it cut you off from your work, it also cuts your identity as a developer.

But that’s what appears to have happened today to Hamed Saeedi, an Iranian software developer.

Writing on Medium, Saeedi revealed that he today received an email from GitHub explaining that his account has been restricted “due to U.S. trade controls law restrictions.” As Saeedi notes, he is not a paying GitHub customer, only using their free services, which makes the fact he has been clocked by the platform surprising.

In the developer’s own words:

First, some background: I am a software developer based in Iran and I’m on GitHub since 2012. In January 2019 when they announced that GitHub free includes unlimited private repositories, I completely moved to GitHub.

Everything was fine and I was happy. Although I participated in Hacktoberfest and they failed to send my t-shirt due to “International embargoes” but I thought OK, at least I can use their free services, right? Wrong!

An hours-old article about expansion of the ban to Crimea:

A developer in the Eastern European region of Crimea has found himself at the receiving end of limitations to his GitHub account due to trade control regulations imposed by the US.

Anatoliy Kashkin uses GitHub services to host his website and a game management tool that he maintains, called GameHub. Earlier this week he received a notification about US-imposed trade sanctions affecting his access to the account and resources.

Additional tweets on the subject:

This can’t possibly be good for GitHub, but it helps Microsoft ‘prove’ its loyalty to the Pentagon and to the Trump regime. Can that help them get “JEDI” (a project worth more than the purchase price of GitHub)?

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A Single Comment

  1. Roger said,

    July 28, 2019 at 5:55 am

    Gravatar

    You’re wrong to blame Microsoft for this: gitlab and sourceforge have imposed the same restrictions, presumably under pressure from the US government.

    FOSS development projects need a repository outside the USA, or several mirrored repositories outside the USA. The software development community can’t allow international cooperation to be crippled every time some government somewhere has a spat with some other government.

    Providing such a facility isn’t for the faint-of-heart, though. US agents will try to sabotage it, cripple it with DDoS attacks, and cut off its funding, as they tried to do with Wikileaks.

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