Microsoft's GitHub Restricts Use By Developers In U.S.-Sanctioned Countries

Microsoft-owned GitHub has blocked developers in Iran, Syria and other areas facing U.S. sanctions from accessing some code in GitHub's public  repository services.

To comply with U.S. sanctions and trade controls, GitHub “unfortunately had to implement new restrictions on private repos and paid accounts in Iran, Syria, and Crimea,” Nat Friedman, GitHub, tweeted on Twitter.

The new restrictions also apply to users located in the sanctioned countries of North Korea and Cuba.

They are based on the place of residence and location, not on nationality or heritage. GitHub will determine the user’s location and residence, based on several sources, including IP addresses and payment history.

Nationality and ethnicity are not used to flag users for sanctions restrictions. If someone was flagged in error, they can fill out a form to get the restrictions lifted on their account within hours.

Certain services may remain available for free to individuals and organizations through their account.

“This includes limited access to GitHub public repository services (such as access to GitHub Pages and public repositories used for open source projects), for personal communications only, and not for commercial purposes,” GitHub wrote in a blog post on the company’s website. “The restriction also includes suspended access to private repository services and paid services (such as availability of private organizational accounts and GitHub Marketplace services).”

As U.S. trade controls laws evolve, the company said it will continue to work with U.S. regulators on the type of free code it can offer developers in these countries.

“We believe offering those free services supports U.S. foreign policy of encouraging the free flow of information and free speech in those markets,” according to GitHub.

It also reminded developers it is their responsibility to ensure their use of GitHub's products and services complies with all applicable laws and regulations, including U.S. export control laws.

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