GitLab joined legalized discrimination. Why does no one talk about this?

5 min readOct 9, 2020


U.S. government force companies like Amazon, Slack, GitHub, GitLab to apply systematic online segregation so they can achieve political goals.

This is not the first time for us: Slack did it. GitHub did it. Amazon Did it. and now GitLab :(


  • U.S. companies comply with U.S. sanctions against Iran. But some of them apply sanction laws beyond their legal obligations. There is absolutely no law from the U.S. government that enforces tech companies to block users from sanctioned countries without prior notice and disable backup options for them.
    Some companies just apply sanctions. For example, when Digital Ocean (an American company) decided to apply Iran sanctions, they notified Iranian customers and gave them 72 hours to move their servers. See? That is applying sanctions without harming users. But that’s not all.
  • Back in 2018 Slack started to block Iranian accounts without prior notice and without providing a way to backup data. They targeted people by nationality including Iranian academic from Canada who doesn’t have anything related to Iran. Slack apologized and said they don’t target users by nationality.
  • GitHub started to block Iranian developers by their nationality back in 2019. Again without prior notice and without providing a way to backup data. After blocking Iranians who don’t live in Iran including one of the major contributors of Nuxt project. Then they restored access for some of the blocked developers without an apology. Others are still blocked from private repositories and some other free features
    If you go to the U.S. Treasury FAQ page you see that no one who is Iran to visit relatives should be blocked but if you ask Iranian developers who live abroad you will see that GitHub blocked their account when they visit Iran. That is another example of applying sanctions beyond legal obligations.

Now let’s read about GitLab.

What Happened?

Well, GitLab started to block Iranian developers. Wait! This is not just about Iran which I explain later.

Last week we noticed that we can’t access GitLab with Iran IPs. Then they claimed that this is because of vendor change:

This is a result of moving to a new vendor. In accordance with the guidance provided by the U.S. government, and not determined by GitLab, there are some countries that cannot access our platform. We apologize for the inconvenience this caused users.

Now, They started to actively block Iranian Accounts. When I say “BLOCK” that means blocking without prior notice and without providing a way to backup OUR DATA.

Little Context

Jul 25, 2019, I received an email from GitHub. They blocked my account without any prior notice & without providing any option to download my codes and data. Then I wrote GitHub blocked my account and they think I’m developing nuclear weapons.

After few days of silence, finally, GitHub decided to provide a weird way for us to download a copy of our data (We have to make a private repository public then clone it and then probably delete it because there is no way to make a repo private again)

Seizing developer's money!

If you from a sanctioned country and a billion-dollar company like GitHub suddenly decided to block your “pro” account without prior notice, well, you should say goodbye to what you paid for pro features. I’m not kidding.

Long process for complaints

Well, because they target you based on nationality. They may block developers who don’t live in Iran. In that case, you can send documents so they open your account. But in some cases, that could take more than a month! Maybe related to the COVID situation but still a month!

Why this is important?

You may say: Ok. That is awful! but not my problem. I mentioned the problem in another article:

Two key points are:

  • The U.S law can ignore GDPR
    One of the GDPR ideas is “Data portability” which means the user must have an option to export his/her data

Update: Reddit users, I KNOW that Iran is not in the EU. For the context please read the original article.

  • The U.S. law can ignore open-source values
    When it comes to the “Evil” person (which we are not), open-source values are clear.

And this is alarming for both legislators and the software community. Note that based on U.S. Treasury press release this sanctions not supposed to target Iranian people or Internet freedom

Why does no one talk about this?

People around the world or in the software community can’t even imagine what is like to don’t have access to 50% of the Internet

So when we (people who live in Iran) talk about sanctions, no one really can understand the gravity of the situation.
The irony is I write this article on Medium which is blocked by the Iran government! so we have to fight both domestic censorship and U.S. sanctions at the same time and that is frustrating.

What YOU can do?

Help us! Help us spread the word.
Share this article. Share your opinion about this.

Ask U.S. tech companies like GitLab why they apply U.S. trade laws and sanctions this way: They targeting users by nationality, block them without prior notice and disable backup options.
Who authorized this legalized discrimination?
At the end of one of my articles, I quoted from Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.

I said that I have a dream too: I have a dream today … I have a dream that one day we will break these online chains. But now, again I have to ask a big question: Who will be the first “Rosa Parks” of the Internet?