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Friday, March 19, 2010

SourceForge boycotts Cuba!


I am outraged to find out that the supposedly main Open Source repository SourceForge.net dares to discriminate countries such as Cuba or Syria in following the abusive unilateral sanctions of the Helms-Burton law.


From the terms and conditions page:

Users residing in countries on the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control sanction list, including Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria, may not post Content to, or access Content available through, SourceForge.net.

From the cryptographic software hosting page:

At time of this writing, cryptographic software may not legally, knowingly be exported to Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan or Syria.

The logical thing to do is to migrate that service to some other country where that stupid law does not apply. But seemingly that is not something that has gone through the brains of the promoters of SF.

Notice that such discrimination has nothing to do with any human rights sensitivity, as countries with much worse human rights records, such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Morocco or Colombia are not listed at all.

I came to know because the Brazilian public telecom company, SERPRO, has removed itself from this repository precisely because of the boycott to Cuba. Personally I will make my best from now on not collaborate with SF, not even downloading anything from its imperialist computers, until such arbitrary restrictions are removed.

11 comments:

luke said...

We recently lifted our restrictions so that projects which contain no cryptography can be accessed from all countries.

http://sourceforge.net/blog/some-good-news-sourceforge-removes-blanket-blocking/

Maju said...

That's maybe good but I still think you should migrate to Mexico or some other less abusive country.

luke said...

hah, yeah! if only they would relocate us all here:

http://www.allaboutcabo.com/

:)

Maju said...

Well, I was thinking more like Tijuana, which is a large city, just south of Los Angeles and surely has excellent internet connections.

AFAIK, you are based in California, so why not Baja? Just a little ride away...

But well, I'm sometimes self-delusional about these things. I used to think ForgeNet as some sort of cooperative or NGO/foundation but now I realize it's part of a corporation.

Time to move on, I guess, private companies are seldom good.

luke said...

The company HQ is in Mountain View, CA but the employees are scattered all over America, and we have a few international contractors too.

I know it's the company line on this one but I believe it - the archaic export regulation law is the real problem here. Any legal entity, from for-profit corporation to non-profit NGO's, is subject to the laws of the country in which it is constituted.

Re-incorporating in some other country might solve this problem but might also introduce a whole slew of new ones. Unless we're intellectual property exportation legal experts, we can't pass a fair judgment.

luke said...

Oh, I also wanted to point out this recent action:

http://www.ustreas.gov/press/releases/tg577.htm

Which *coincidentally* occurred shortly after our legal team spoke with staffers from the DoT's OFAC. Change happens slowly ... but it does happen.

Antoni Jaume said...

With regards to cryptography, I remember that the ban on cryptographic software was not aplicable to books, so you were not allowed to exit the USA with a version of PGP in your computer, but you could take out the code as long as it was in a book.

I think some Linux distros lacked hard cryptographic capabilities in the version for the USA, but you could get them from some European server.

Maju said...

One thing I don't understand is that, according to Wikipedia, before two years ago there was not any effective ban and that the download ban only exists since Jan. 2010.

This seems to contradict both the law, which has been effective for a decade or more and what Luke says.

Anyhow, this situation effectively makes SF unable to fill its role as main global Open Source repository. Something else is needed.

And I dare say it needs to be a non-profit organization, not a corporation. And obviously it can't be based on the USA. Maybe it can't be based on any single country but should do as Wikileaks and have a decentralized structure making it effectively immune to legal action whatsoever.

My two cents anyhow.

luke said...

Well honestly we were simply ignoring (violating) the export regulation laws until the Treasury Department balked at us. So that's why we went so long without it and suddenly had to enforce it. We're really just lucky we "got away" with it for as long as we did!

And really, there shouldn't be any single global open source repository. We'd love to be the standard, but no single repository is going to, nor should, meet the needs of every OSS developer in the world.

I think a decentralized OSS organization is a great idea! ;)

tavatea said...

Decentralization is one of the founding principles of Open Source. I heard Matt Mullenweg at a gathering last year and was impressed. Open Source means innovation and thats why Matts small company is able to give Google's blogger platform nightmares.

The popularity of Wordpress has forced Google to improve blogger. However - structure and organization in my opinion are the very anti-thesis of Open Source. As soon as a organization is formed, be it based on any common factor - innovation goes for a toss and power struggle assumes significance. I support open source and open source will certainly survive but toorganize it is not possible.

Maju u may want to make your blog a do-follow one. I don't see any point in u accumulating google page rank. I suppose u don't even know what it means. Why hoard something u don't care about?

http://dofollow.info/blog/how-to-make-your-wordpress-or-blogger-blog-dofollow/

Plz have the option open for Name+URL in comments. You may be unwittingly preventing lots of folks from commenting who don't have a google or open ID.

Maju said...

Tavatea: what you say favors spammers. I also don't want anonymous comments, because then I can't follow track of who is saying what.