Microsoft enters: GitHub banned Iranian developers!

Ali Yamini
Jul 26 · 4 min read

When i woke up today i wasn’t expecting to see this but suddenly i found out that, GitHub decided to ban my account and freeze my repositories, But is this a new story for me?

Due to US laws and regulations players in your country cannot access league of legends at this time Such restrictions are subject to change by the US government so if and when that happens we look forward to having you back on the rift.

This is from Riot games which is a game developer. They sent this to users from sanctioned countries such as Iran. You might think that banning users from a game is not a big deal, but it’s not just a game. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

What’s happening?

When you get in the list there is no way out of it!

If you had ever tried using an Iranian Ip In services like paypal you get what i’m saying. Sanctioned countries are not allowed to use such services since they are under US trade laws. I get it, so people are not allowed to use Paypal to pay for anything. But wait is it just Paypal? The answer is NO. Almost every online paying system complies with this due to fear of violating the rule.

But these payment systems were long gone for sanctioned people and today we have faced a new form of discrimination.

At the time that I’m writing this, GitHub which is a well known website for developers has just banned Iranian accounts and restricted them to only simple communications in the platform. So you can see that this is like an ongoing process which it doesn’t seems to be stopped easily. People also reported that they weren’t banned based on only Ip, but also nationality so even some people outside Iran have been banned only because they are born in iran.

How they justify this?

Since GitHub actions is the latest one here is what they say:

Due to U.S. trade controls 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 at https://help.github.com/articles/github-andtrade-controls for more information.

If you visit the GitHub trade and control page you will face something interesting:

What this means is that Our accounts were related to the development, production, or use of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons or long range missiles or unmanned aerial vehicles. Isn’t this ridiculous?!

How this effects developers?

As Richard gall says:

GitHub’s importance to software developers can’t be overstated. In the space of a decade it has become central to millions of people’s professional lives. For it to be taken away, then, must be incredibly hard to take. Not only does it cut you off from your work, it also cuts your identity as a developer.

If your account is banned you can no longer create or delete your repositories and you are completely restricted! So they didn’t even give developers the chance to get their projects out of there And who know’s how many projects relied on Github.

Microsoft footsteps

Since GitHub is owned by Microsoft now I think we can clearly see who is behind such actions, since GitHub itself hadn’t done anything in this extend to Iranian developers due to sanctions since today. Some developer have cited Microsoft as the past enemy of open source, and It seems like they weren’t wrong!

What is next?

I don’t think the sanctions problem is going to be solved in short-term but I really think such actions will directly effect on people’s lives here and people need to react to things like this. You can not simply label people guilty just by their nationality. This is not a new story for us but this latest one really bothered me cause GitHub was an essential tool for my job as a developer . I hope some day they figure out who they are really hurting by such actions, Ordinary people.

Ali Yamini

Written by

Software engineer | Machine learning & Deep learning

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