GitHub, the computing giant and one of the biggest hosts of source codes, has reported that it has blocked developers from Iran, Crimea, and Syria in compliance with U.S. Export Administration Regulation (EAR).
A Painful Decision for GitHub
Nat Friedman, the GitHub CEO,
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
exclaimed that though it was very “painful” to learn how trade restrictions policy was hurting people, and even with the commitment of the company to do more than what law requires, there was no other option apart from banning developers in blacklisted areas such as Crimea, Syria, and Iran. Other restricted regions suffering similar bans include Cuba and North Korea,
Why Github Blocked Developers from Iran, Syria & Crimea?
U.S. Export Administration Regulation trade control regulations restrict the services that the Microsoft owned giant can offer to users in restricted territories and countries. Developers cannot access GitHub services like the marketplace, private repositories, and maintaining private paid organization accounts. Besides, they are prohibited from using VPNs, IP proxies, or other computing methods that can hide their location.
Friedman, however, explained the company said in a statement on its website. “This includes limited access to GitHub public repository services” For example, access to public repositories such as open-source projects and GitHub Pages. Even this limited access can only be used for personal and non-commercial communication.
For developers desiring to store export-controlled data, GitHub points them to its enterprise server giving, a self-hosted virtual appliance that may be run among users’ own data center or virtual private cloud
Ban Implementation and Appeal
Notably, the restrictions announced by the tech behemoth are implemented based on the user’s location: tracking the IP location and following payment history. Friedman clarified that the ban is not based on ethnicity and validation of one’s nationality.
For developers traveling to the restricted territories, there are serious impacts on their GitHub account status according to the U.S. foreign policy. However, they are also allowed to lodge appeals for their accounts reinstatement.
Anatoliy Kashkin, a 21 year old Russian, had his account flagged as restricted. Though he physically lives and works in Crimea, he is a Russian who has hosted his website on GitHub. But he was still flagged down.
How to Appeal against the Ban
For banned developers who feel that the restrictions were slapped on them wrongly, the company has provided them with an opportunity to file appeals. You are required to file an appeal form and copies of a government-issued ID to prove your residency together with a selfie. This will prompt the company to run a comprehensive check to determine your identity.
However, many of those affected by the restrictions as a result of U.S. Export Administration Regulations law do not believe that the appeal can help them get back GitHub services.