GitHub is reportedly blocking access to its site for users in places like Crimea and Iran, which are under US sanctions

Nat Friedman, left, CEO of GitHub, which has reportedly started restricting access to its site by people from certain countries. Under CEO Satya Nadella, right, Microsoft acquired GitHub last year for $7.5 billion.

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Nat Friedman, left, CEO of GitHub, which has reportedly started restricting access to its site by people from certain countries. Under CEO Satya Nadella, right, Microsoft acquired GitHub last year for $7.5 billion.
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Microsoft

Some longtime GitHub users reported this week that the Microsoft-owned company has restricted their use of its code-hosting service because they live in countries that are subject to US trade sanctions.

A software developer who is based in the Russian-occupied Crimea region of Ukraine and another who lives in Iran each said in separate online posts that they’d been notified by GitHub that their access to its service has been curtailed. The Iranian developer, Hamed Saeedi, said in a post on Medium on Wednesday that his code repository has been disabled, he can’t access parts of the GitHub site, and he can’t download the data he had hosted there.

“I hope that they can find a good way to fix this,” Saeedi said via direct message on Twitter Saturday. “Before this, as a software developer I really liked GitHub.”

But he’s not the only GitHub user who reported being restricted by the service, as ZDNet first reported on Friday. Also affected was Anatoliy Kashkin, the Crimean programmer. Kashkin developed an application called GameHub that allows users to download and run computer games from multiple sources, including Steam and Humble Bumble and hosts the code for the program on GitHub. In a post on GitHub Wednesday, he said the service has blocked him from creating new private code repositories and disabled his existing ones.

Kashkin confirmed those restrictions in an email to Business Insider. But an issue he had had with his website, which is also hosted by GitHub, has since been resolved he said. In the email, he played down the seriousness of the GitHub restrictions.

“It hasn’t affected my main open-source project that much,” he said in the email.

“I have no idea why there’s so much attention to this,” he continued. “I don’t really think this restriction differs that much from previous restrictions we have experienced for the last 5 years and people from other countries experienced even longer.”

GitHub says it’s complying with US trade sanctions

On an undated support page on its website, GitHub said it is trying to comply with US trade laws and noted that the Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria are all under US trade sanctions. It’s unclear why GitHub only started restricting access recently, given that the sanctions in some cases have been in place for years.

“To comply with US trade control laws, GitHub recently made some required changes to the way we conduct our services,” the company said on the support page. “As US trade controls laws evolve, we will continue to work with US regulators about the extent to which we can offer free code collaboration services to developers in sanctioned markets.”

GitHub representatives did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The company has become a popular place for developer to host and share code and software. It was purchased last year by Microsoft for $7.5 billion.

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