Microsoft sub GitHub cites US sanctions as it pulls repo access for…Microsoft US employee’s JavaScript project

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GitHub was forced into a brisk about face yesterday, after pulling access to the repos of JavaScript framework Aurelia, citing US trade sanctions.

Aurelia styles itself as “a modern, front-end JavaScript framework for building browser, mobile, and desktop applications…[focused] on aligning closely with web platform specifications, using convention over configuration, and having minimal framework intrusion.”

But yesterday, Aurelia prime mover Rob Eisenberg woke up to find GitHub had “shut off the Aurelia site, archived tons of our repos, and I can no longer access admin settings” with the only explanation being US trade sanctions.

This would be a nasty shock for anyone, but must have been particularly galling for Eisenberg given he is actually based in the US. In Seattle. Where he works as a UX engineer for none other than Microsoft, the owner of, amongst other things, GitHub.

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Eisenberg’s ire was not assuaged when he received a tweet from GitHub support assuring him that, “If a user or organization believes that they have been flagged in error, then that user or organization owner has the opportunity to appeal the flag by providing verification information to GitHub.”

To be fair to GitHub, it had the repos back up in under two hours, and the firm’s CEO Nat Friedman took to Hacker News to apologise, adding that it was “Investigating why it occurred and will make changes to make sure it doesn’t happen again”.

He added, “We are taking the broadest possible interpretation of US sanctions law to allow as much access to GitHub as possible and we are, as far as I know, the only major vendor to offer public repo access in US-sanctioned countries like Iran, Syria, and Cuba. I’m proud that we are taking this strong position to ensure developers everywhere can participate in open source.”

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