President Trump’s trade war against the world is taking a toll on the open-source developer community that tries to steer clear of all politics and just focuses on creating great software that the world runs on.
It is painful for me to hear how trade restrictions have hurt people. We have gone to great lengths to do no more than what is required by the law, but of course people are still affected. GitHub is subject to US trade law, just like any company that does business in the US.
— Nat Friedman (@natfriedman) July 28, 2019
Now, developers in countries on the US sanctions list, including Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Crimea will lose access to a significant portion of the company’s commercial offerings.
To comply with Trump’s sanctions, GitHub is enforcing new restrictions to block developers from these countries to access private repositories, GitHub Marketplace and paid accounts.
The restriction is IP based, which means even if a developer is simply living in one of these countries, irrespective of citizenship, won’t be able to access these services.
“The restrictions are based on place of residence and location, not on nationality or heritage. If someone was flagged in error, they can fill out a form to get the restrictions lifted on their account within hours,” said GitHub CEO, Nat Friedman.
The good news is that developers in such countries can still leverage GitHub technologies by self-hosting GitHub Enterprise Server that developers can run in their own data-centers of private cloud.
Public repositories and other pages are still accessible, but GitHub warns that those should not be used for commercial purpose.
There is virtually no effect on open source repositories, those are fully accessible.
Friedman expressed his disappointment and wrote on Twitter, “We’re not doing this because we want to; we’re doing it because we have to. GitHub will continue to advocate vigorously with governments around the world for policies that protect software developers and the global open source community.”
He also suggested that “…users with restricted private repos can also choose to make them public. Our understanding of the law does not give us the option to give anyone advance notice of restrictions.”
Banned users can request a review of their account to lift the ban, in case the ban was wrongly imposed.