Microsoft has once again been caught up in another geopolitical tangle after US imposed trade controls sanctions that affected Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria. This week, Anatoliy Kashkin, 21-year-old Russian citizen, was personally affected by these.
Kashkin is a fan of both GitHub and GameHub- a launcher for Linux systems that combine games from Steam, GOG and Humble Bundle in a single user interface.
He was able to use GitHub for his website until earlier this week when it was taken down. Thanks to the sanctions, he can no longer use existing, or create new private GitHub repositories. He’s noticed that he can create public repositories, though.
As of now, there’s nothing left of his website, but a 404 error.
My GitHub account has been restricted due to US sanctions as I live in Crimea.
I may not be able to continue maintaining GameHub in future.
This is what GitHub had to say on the matter:
Users are responsible for ensuring that the content they develop and share on GitHub.com complies with the U.S. export control laws, including the EAR (Export Administration Regulations) and the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
They then went on to offer their paid on-premise software, which is aimed at enterprise users, as an alternative.
The cloud-hosted service offering available at Github.com has not been designed to host data subject to the ITAR and does not currently offer the ability to restrict repository access by country. If you are looking to collaborate on ITAR- or other export-controlled data, we recommend you consider GitHub Enterprise Server, GitHub’s on-premises offering
Defeated, Kashkin feels as if there’s nothing to gain by appealing the restriction.
It is just pointless. My account is flagged as restricted and, in order to unflag it, I have to provide a proof that I don’t live in Crimea. I am in fact a Russian citizen with Crimean registration, I am physically in Crimea, and I am living in Crimea my entire life
Iranian Hamed Saeedi, user since 2012, also shared his experience with GitHub’s restrictions:
GitHub blocked my account and they think I’m developing nuclear weapons
He received this message:
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
GitHub claims to be participating in discussions with US regulators about how to rectify the situation, but given the overriding security and regulation issues, this is unlikely to result in any significant relief.