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SourceForge blocks Iran, North Korea, Syria, Sudan and Cuba

In a move that must surely strike at the very core of open source, FOSS, and the heart of GNU crusader Richard Stallman, SourceForge has now blocked all access from by countries on the U.S. 'Foreign Assets Control sanction list'.

That isn't the beginning of the story though: back in 2008 the same countries were allowed to surf SourceForge, but not interact with the source code repositories -- they could download, but couldn't contribute. Now it seems the access block is complete -- if you live in Iran, North Korea, Syria, Sudan or Cuba, you simply can't access SourceForge.

ArabCrunch (seemingly not affiliated with its uglier forebear TechCrunch) goes on to share some details on the definition of open source and what it actually means to be 'open'. As defined by the Open Source Initiative (OSI):

5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups
The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.

6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor
The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.
At the end of the day, open source ideology be damned, is SourceForge going to argue with the U.S. State Department if they're told to block 'rogue nations'?

It's a tricky subject: should these five countries be persecuted because of the extreme actions enacted by a tiny percentage of their population? Open source software provides a vital building block for these oppressed and developing nations -- I hope the U.S. government can see the potential damage to new infrastructure and fledgling business this might cause.

Update 25th January 2010: SourceForge has issued a statement regarding this situation. Nothing new though, just an apology to those affected by the change.
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Tags: open source, OpenSource, osi, rogue nations, RogueNations, security, sourceforge, trade embargo, TradeEmbargo, usa

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