GitHub blocked my account and they think I’m developing nuclear weapons

Hamed
Hamed
Jul 25 · 5 min read

OK. I know that sounds crazy, but bear with me.

I updated this with the responses from GitHub CEO, so please read the article to the end.

And now please read my second article with much deeper look in issues and questions that GitHub should answer in an official statement.

That’s my profile on GitHub. Did you notice that yellow warning on top?

The Good

First, some background: I am a software developer based in Iran and I’m on GitHub since 2012. In January 2019 when they announced that GitHub free includes unlimited private repositories, I completely moved to GitHub.

Everything was fine and I was happy. Although I participated in Hacktoberfest and they failed to send my t-shirt due to “International embargoes” but I thought OK, at least I can use their free services, right? Wrong!

Don’t worry, I provided an alternate address

The Bad

Now, the real story begins: Today I received an email

The Ugly

Well, they blocked me. But why? I know that I’m a resident of the sanctioned country but I didn’t have any financial transaction with GitHub company. I just used their FREE services like well millions of developers, so I read that GitHub and Trade Controls page, looking for an answer.

Seriously?

Seriously? Do they believe someone could use GitHub to develop or USE nuclear or biological or chemical weapons? How? Really, How? By FREE private repositories? I mean let’s think about it: You think that some government agency would use a private GitHub repository as storage for military secrets?

For a second, let’s suppose that’s true and someone used a FREE service to violate sanction laws or Arms regulations. Do you block all Iranian developers for that? I mean, are you MAD KING?

BLOCK THEM ALL

If you are curious about the effect of GitHub act, take a look at this screenshot from one of my free private repositories

I can’t access the code, issues or PRs or anything!

There is a famous line from George Orwell’s Animal Farm:

I think we can apply this line in this GitHub story. All developers are equal, but some developers are more equal than others and they can have our free services while others would use it to develop nuclear weapons!

Come on GitHub. You are not a mad king so stop the madness: Don’t burn them all.

How to help?

I asked Nat Friedman (CEO of GitHub) on twitter about this.

Well, Nat Friedman finally answered

Finally, they made some changes

However, I believe GitHub should apologize in an official statement and they should answer questions I asked in my second article. If you agree with me please retweet my tweet and help us spread the word.

If you are a fellow developer, you can send your support by contributing to this project https://github.com/1995parham/github-do-not-ban-us

Updates

Update 1 (Jul 25): Apparently it’s not just disabling free private repositories. GitHub Pages is blocked too, even for “public” open source repositories!

Screenshot from GitHub Pages for a public repository. I can access the repository itself but I get 404 error for GitHub Pages associated with that public repository

more on this on Update 7 below.

Update 2 (Jul 26): GitHub blocked all Iranian accounts without any prior notice and they don’t give us a chance to download a backup of our data. Here is a screenshot from GitHub support response to a developer who sends a request for backup

more on this in Update 6 below.

Update 3 (Jul 26): GitHub targeting people based on “Nationality” (the whole activity) not the residency or current connection IPs. Here is an example (he is another developer, not me)

I think this is a clear case of discrimination and totally against Open Source values

of course, we are not “evil people” and we deserve freedom in GitHub (largest Open Source community)

here is a response from GitHub CEO (Jul 28)

Update 4 (Jul 27): This public open-source project created by a blocked Iranian developer received more than 2.5K star since yesterday, and it’s still not in Github Trending page. Does it mean if a blocked user, make an awesome open source project, Github is going to ignore it?

Why they don’t show this repo in GitHub Trending page?

more on this. it seems that this is not an issue (Jul 28)

Update 5 (Jul 28): Confirmed. GitHub is quietly rolling back some of the restrictions for blocked users. The one I spot is “Delete this repository” button is not disabled anymore

Screenshot from before & after. as you can see the “Make private” button is still disabled for blocked users

Update 6 (Jul 28): Another update for blocked users. You can make your “private repos” public so you can clone them

They made these changes on July 28

Although people don’t like exporting their code this way (he is another developer not me)

Update 7 (Jul 28): GitHub Pages seems to work now for blocked users. Just change the source in options and you should see that Custom Domain textbox.

They made these changes on July 28

Update 8: They add a “close button” to that annoying warning on top. so a blocked user can close that message and no need to workarounds like this.

They made these changes on July 28

Hamed

Written by

Hamed

❤️ code, tech, books & running

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