Microsoft’s GitHub code repository service has placed itself at the center of a free speech debate after the company “restricted” the account of a developer in Crimea. The Russian who lives in the contested Ukraine region because the area is part of U.S. trade sanctions.

In other words, it seems GitHub will restrict accounts for developers in nations where the U.S. has trade sanctions in place.

21-year-old Anatoliy Kashkin received a notice from GitHub saying his account had been restricted. The company pointed him towards its page detailing U.S. trade controls. Countries listed as being under trade sanctions are Iran, Crimea, Cuba, North Korea, and Syria.

Kashkin uses GitHub to host his GameHub website, which is a Linux launcher that bundles GOG, Humble Bundle, and Steam games. The developer says his website (https://tkashkin.tk) cannot be accessed and returns a 404 error.

That is not a huge problem as he can move to another host, but the GitHub restriction poses problems for GameHub.

“GitHub has many useful features and it’s safe to assume that many of people interested in GameHub already use GitHub,” wrote Kashkin.

“Discoverability is also a very important factor. I don’t think many people will find GameHub on a self-hosted server somewhere and I don’t think many of them will report issues there either,” he added.

Restrictions

GitHub explains restrictions are put in place for users in countries with U.S. sanctions upon them.

“Users are responsible for ensuring that the content they develop and share on GitHub.com complies with the U.S. export control laws, including the EAR (Export Administration Regulations) and the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR),” GitHub says.

“The cloud-hosted service offering available at Github.com has not been designed to host data subject to the ITAR and does not currently offer the ability to restrict repository access by country. If you are looking to collaborate on ITAR- or other export-controlled data, we recommend you consider GitHub Enterprise Server, GitHub’s on-premises offering.”