GitHub and the US sanctions regime
I logged onto GitHub today, and got greeted with this lovely message:
As many might have heard, GitHub started enforcing the stricter regulations set by the US government with regards to international sanctions recently. What this actually means is unclear to even the people who are directly affected by it, as GitHub only offers this page as a meager explanation. From what I can tell, I've lost access to all of my private repositories, as well as the ability to create new ones. Also, the site seems to randomly slow down sometimes, and I get weird error messages sometimes, indicating a 500 HTTP response, but those are fixed when I try to perform the action again.
I don't really expect this to change anything with regards to the monopoly GitHub posesses in the version control and code collaboration space, as the majority of people affected seem to be from Iran, and not from its primary user base, the US. I believe I've only been affected because I accessed my repositories from Cuba once, which they must have found out by checking my IP history. Needless to say, since GitHub provides a possiblity to file an appeal, I'm filing one unless they start asking me for my personal information. Not that I'll be using GitHub much anyways, but it would be nice for employability reasons.
Update: They require you to submit your ID and photographic evidence
UPDATE (8/25/2019): This afternoon, I got completely suspended from my GitHub accounts. The reasons (and implications) of this are something I don't want to discuss here, but I've spent the last month(s) moving all of my stuff elsewhere and won't be using GitHub any longer.
Should I be moving from GitHub?
The only realistic alternative to being on GitHub, that is, moving from GitHub explicitly as a political response to their collaboration with the US regime, is hosting your own Git server. I'd recommend it to anyone, just as I'd recommend moving off Slack (who have pulled the same kind of shit) and Discord (who apparently collaborate directly with the Department of Homeland Security). Even if you're a big project, now is the time when you should be evaluating whether you want to prioritize being on GitHub over categorically excluding entire countries from collaboration. This situation isn't going to get better, it's going to get worse, and one of the most thoughtful things you could do as an Open Source developer is to keep that in mind.
There's a fair amount of Git hosting & collaboration alternatives these days, and I've tried some of them:
- GitLab: This is what I currently use. It's a bit bloated, but if you have enough money to shell out for a VPS with 8 gigs of RAM, it works just fine and has enough features to replace at least one of your existing external tools.
- Phabricator: It's clearly designed for larger teams, but if you're willing to get your hands dirty in some PHP hosting configuration, it's a good alternative and has about the same amount of features as GitLab, plus the design is (IMO) better (supports HG and CVS, too!).
- BitBucket: Never used it, but it's hosted in the US, and it's Atlassisan. Make up your own mind.
- Gitea/Gogs: Also haven't used it, but seems nice. Might lack a few features?
If there's any self-hosted alternatives that I'm missing, please recommend them to me on Twitter!