SourceForge Denies Service for "Rogue" Nations

Jan 26, 2010

SourceForge, the hosting and communication platform for many free software projects, is bowing to U.S. regulations and denying service to users from nations on the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions list.

SourceForge "clarifies" in its blog statement that certain IP addresses from nations on the U.S. OFAC list are excluded from their services to comply with U.S. laws.

The blog goes on to say that, "We regret deeply that these sanctions may impact individuals who have no malicious intent along with those whom the rules are designed to punish." SourceForge was one of the first companies to support and encourage free software and sees open source as "the center of its corporate ideals." However, as the blog commentator continues, "we also live in the real world and are governed by the laws of the country in which we are located," with possible penalties of fines and imprisonment.

SourceForge belongs to Geeknet Inc., under whose roof are also found IT sites such as Slashdot, Thinkgeek and Geeknet, in turn, emerged from VA Software.

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  • It's just political CYA stuff...

    While I don't personally reject the basic concept behind such a ban, the reality of it's effect makes it rather ridiculous.

    The idea is that a "rogue" nation is totally controlled by some despot tyrant who desires to bring harm to, or destroy free nations. Since these are always brutal and repressive regimes, any smart people usually either find a way to get out, or intentionally resist supporting the ruler(s) in passive ways. As a result, these types of regimes have to buy or steal any new technologies from outside nations.

    The SourceForge depository has the potential to provide such a regime with software technology which it couldn't create on it's own and might use to attack free nations in some manner.

    However, since such nations have representation in the UN and are allowed embassies in non-"rogue" nations, it is really a simple matter for them to access SourceForge from these sites where the IP addresses are not blocked. So, this is really just a CYA policy so that in the event that some "rogue" nation is aided by software technology from SourceForge in it's attack on a free nation, politicians can point to the policy to show that they were "doing something".

  • United States of China

    So, the Internet is supposed to be free, eh?
    But U.S. law forbids or controls who accesses it, allowing or denying access.
    Also, that law discriminates on the basis of national origin.
    And that law does not take in(to) consideration that Sourceforge is a *technical* site, with minimal - if any - political contents.

    Sounds more like the United States of China erecting another Great Firewall, for Soviet Union-style censorship.

    Said the pot to the kettle...
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