Github Has Restricted Accounts of Users from US Sanctioned Countries

Countries such as North Korea, Iran, or Syria, as well as specific zones such as Crimea, are US sanctioned countries, meaning you are not supposed to do business with them. If you’ve recently opened a business bank account, you may have had to sign a document confirming you will not do any business with entities in those sanctioned areas at the risk of losing access to your bank account.

For physical goods that’s pretty straightforward, but for online services, there’s more of a grey area, as people tend to move around. Nevertheless, there have been reports sanctions are now affecting users in Iran and Crimea, as Github has started to restrict the account of users who are registered in US sanctioned countries. Github is now owned by Microsoft, and large multinationals can’t just fly under the radar, and ignore rules and regulations.

It all started from reports from users from Crimea and Iran, who are lost access to their Github repo with Error 403 (Forbidden error), and the following message in Github dashboard:

Due to U.S. trade control law restrictions, your GitHub account has been restricted. For individual accounts, you may have limited access to free GitHub public repository services for personal communications only, Please read about Github and Trade Controls for more information. If you believe your account has been flagged in error, please file an appeal.

Those users are not completely blocked, as they have limited access to public repositories, but they have lost access to private repositories.

Some Iran developers have now started a “github-do-not-ban-us” page on Github (so public repo are still OK) to appeal to Github, and it looks like things are progressing a bit since private repositories can be made public, and developers can access those.

One temporary solution would be to use other services such as Gitlab, but it’s based in San Francisco so not necessarily a good way to go forward. They could potentially install Gitlab on their own server, but obviously, they’d somewhat lose access to the larger Github community as they’d be harder to find.

Via ZDNet and Hacker News

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12 Replies to “Github Has Restricted Accounts of Users from US Sanctioned Countries”

  1. harfbuzz was built by an Iranian developer?
    By Jove, un-ban these wonderful developers immediately!

    1. >By Jove, un-ban these wonderful developers immediatel

      Do you think that would be a good idea considering there is evidence all over twitter now showing that github think that it needs to ban them to comply with the law?

      FYI Behdad Esfahbod is the in US so this doesn’t affect him.

    2. The project is hosted on Freedesktop Gitlab instance, so that’s not a problem. Well all this world made opensource project foundations, like FSF, Linux, etc… should move out from USA to avoid any bearking with their developers.

  2. >For physical goods that’s pretty straightforward,

    Until you get busted for supplying goods to NK because you thought you were sending a container to China but it hit a weird anomaly in the ocean and somehow turned up in NK.

    >Github is now owned by Microsoft, and large multinationals can’t just under the radar, and ignore rules and regulations.

    Or maybe Microsoft’s legal department have the sense to know that breaking the law in a very public way isn’t a good idea.

    While I feel sad for the guys in Iran I find the campaign a bit silly. Do they really think a US company is going to back track on changes they made to comply with US law? That would be suicide if github ever did get hit by the FTC. If you’re in a country that is on the US naughty list why would you silo your code in the US in the first place?

    >One temporary solution would be to use other services such as Gitlab,

    Or just use a VPN with exit points in the US and not make too much noise about it.

    1. Github can split in 2: Github-US for US customers, and Hubgit which is for the rest of the world. Hosted and registered on an island which does not have any trade sanctions with whatever country.

  3. As was seen with ZTE and Iran, it doesn’t matter if the company is located outside the US either as if it does business with the US it is still affected by OFAC / ITAR / EAR.

  4. And this is pretty good news, as balkanisation of the internet only incitivise people to build cyberspace, a space where laws do not interfere with the expression of the mind:

    “Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.”

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