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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 sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

3 Comments
  • Crimea is not a country. I don't want to start the discussion on whether it is the part of Ukraine or Russia -- this does not belong to this forum, but stand-alone country it is not.
  • BTW. Crimea is a part of Ukraine occupied by Russia.
  • It's part of Russia. Go there and protest, see who arrests you. Whether we agree with it or not means as much as whether we agree with the recreation of Poland or Israel. World has worked this way forever. We gave away huge portions of countries after WW2, for example. Poland literally was recreated out of nothing after a war - like Israel... and it ended up bigger (geographically) than some of the countries tried we took land from. Switzerland gained tons of land for basically doing nothing during the war. No one is fighting for those lands to be given back. The people in Crimea were largely ethnic Russians. They voted for this. This is why there was such a furor in Ukraine over it - the people wanted out, and the government wouldn't let them vote for it... because they knew what the result would be, simply due to the demographics. Russia just came in and let them have it - so they ended up looking like the bastions of democracy when you cut through the fake news and actually learn about the situation. Of course, Russia also stood to gain from it. I know someone from there. They consider themselves Russian, and speak Russian. Saying Crimea is occupied land is political rubbish. The reality is that its part of Russia now. It makes as much sense as calling Poland and Israel occupied land (which the latter is called, ALL THE TIME). Great political statement, realistically rubbish.