A developer in the Eastern European region of Crimea has found himself at the receiving end of limitations to his GitHub account due to trade control regulations imposed by the US.

Anatoliy Kashkin uses GitHub services to host his website and a game management tool that he maintains, called GameHub. Earlier this week he received a notification about US-imposed trade sanctions affecting his access to the account and resources.

Specifically, this translated into a 404 'not found' error when trying to reach his GitHub-hosted website and inability to create new private repositories.

Existing private repositories were also off-limits for Kashkin. When trying to access them he found that they were disabled due to U.S. trade controls law restrictions.

However, he could create public repositories but deleting them was not possible. After a while, the developer was allowed to delete public code.

GitHub states that code and information uploaded to its platform, Enterprise Server included, "may be subject to trade control regulations, including under the U.S. Export Administration Regulations (the EAR)."

The list of countries facing U.S. government sanctions includes the Crimea region of Ukraine, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria. This affects developers residing in these regions.

Although Kashkin has alternatives keeping his website and code available to the public, there is the problem of easy access for people used to finding the assets on GitHub.

"Discoverability is also a very important factor. I don't think many people will find GameHub on a self-hosted server somewhere and I don't think many of them will report issues there either." - says Kashkin

Furthermore, GitHub has a track record in dealing with security issues quickly and efficiently. A self-hosting alternative, for instance, comes with the hassle of the patching routine, which impacts the code development cycle and in many cases may account for longer periods of exposure.

Since Kashkin was notified of limited access, other projects from developers in sanctioned regions, are going through the same problems.

On Friday, Indian full stack engineer Akash Joshi pointed out that the restrictions rolled out in waves, so some developers had time to plan their move to a different service.

According to Iranian developer Parham Alvani, the restrictions from GitHub happened without warning, denying them the possibility to get their projects out.

"GitHub used to be an open and free platform for everyone, but it has decided to restrict Iranian accounts from contributing and being part of the open-source ecosystem. Although we understand GitHub might make this decision under the pressure of US government, we were expecting more respectful action from GitHub." - Parham Alvani

Alvani also pointed to several open-source projects from Iranian developers that are affected by the restrictions. A larger list of them is available here.

Another Iranian software engineer also discussed the ripples of this decision, which extend to all people in the countries facing the U.S. sanctions and could also have an impact on further development and maintainance of open-source projects.

The developer says that Riot, the company behind the game League of Legends, informed their users that they can no longer access the game because of current US laws and regulations affecting their region.

Related Articles:

Open Source Clones Unofficially Sold on the Microsoft Store

Microsoft 365 Business Adds Granular Controls to Company Assets

Gerry - A Font of Gerrymandered Districts to Troll Congress

Windows 10 WSL2 Now Allows You to Configure Global Options

Microsoft Boosts Compromised Account Detection in Azure AD by 100%