GitHub, the world's leading software development platform, has started restricting the access of users who are from sanctioned countries, such as Crimea, Iran, and Syria.
The move is in line with the United States trade control laws.
GitHub Restricts User Access
In a statement on the GitHub website, the Microsoft-owned company confirmed that developers from Crimea, Iran, Syria, and potentially other nations who are sanctioned like Cuba and North Korea will be prevented from accessing parts of the software platform.
Specifically, the users from these countries are no longer granted access to private repositories and GitHub Marketplace. They will also be prevented from maintaining private paid organization accounts.
Some sections will remain open to users worldwide, such as the GitHub Pages and public repositories. However, use of these areas is restricted to personal communication with no commercial purposes allowed.
According to TechCrunch, developers looking for storage for their export-controlled data can still use GitHub's enterprise server product.
Blocking accounts was based on IP addresses and payment history, rather than nationality or ethnicity. Developers who have been blocked can submit an appeal if they believe their accounts should not have been blocked.
A number of developers have already spoken up against the sudden move, including Hamed Saeedi from Iran who wrote on Medium that his account was blocked without notice and without giving him the opportunity to download his codes and data.
While some have suggested using VPN to get around the block, GitHub shut down the possibility, saying that users from sanctioned countries are prohibited from using VPN and IP proxies to access the company's services.
GitHub Executive Speaks Out
GitHub CEO Nat Friedman went on a Twitter spree to answer developer questions and explain that the company is simply doing what the law requires from a company doing business in the United States.
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
He stressed that public repositories are still accessible to everyone and unaffected by the trade laws. According to Friedman, the company's understanding was that the law doesn't allow them to give developers advanced notice of their plans to block the website.
The GitHub executive stressed that the company was required by law to restrict users' access.
"GitHub will continue to advocate vigorously with governments around the world for policies that protect software developers and the global open source community," Friedman wrote on Twitter.