GitHub developers restricted in Crimea, Cuba, Iran, and other regions under U.S. sanctions

What you need to know

  • GitHub has placed restrictions on users due to U.S. trade sanctions.
  • The restrictions affect users in Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria.
  • Private repos and paid accounts are now restricted, though public repos are available and open-source repos are unaffected.

GitHub placed new restrictions on developers in Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Developers face restrictions as a result of U.S. trade sanctions. Private repositories (repos) and paid accounts are under these new restrictions, but public repos are still available, and open-source repos are unaffected. Several reports surfaced over the weekend of developers being affected by the restrictions (via The Verge).

ZDNet reports that a developer based in Crimea lost access to his private GitHub repos and a developer from Iran posted on Medium about his account being restricted.

Nat Friedman, GitHub CEO, took to Twitter to explain the restrictions, stating "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 U.S. trade law, just like any company that does business in the U.S."

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Friedman added in the same Twitter thread that "The restrictions are based on place of residence and location, not on nationality or heritage."

According to a GitHub support page, restricted accounts have "limited access to GitHub public repository services... for personal communications only, and not for commercial purposes." Access to private repos and access to paid services are suspended for restricted developers. Developers cannot get an export of the disabled content from GitHub according to a tweet from a developer which includes a screenshot of an email from GitHub.

The Verge received a statement from Microsoft on the situation.

GitHub is subject to U.S. trade control laws, and is committed to full compliance with applicable law. At the same time, GitHub's vision is to be the global platform for developer collaboration, no matter where developers reside. As a result, we take seriously our responsibility to examine government mandates thoroughly to be certain that users and customers are not impacted beyond what is required by law. This includes keeping public repositories services, including those for open source projects, available and accessible to support personal communications involving developers in sanctioned regions."

Developers are not able to surpass the ban with a VPN. Blocking is done based on I.P. addresses and payment histories.

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Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at