Just days after American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s speech on Internet freedom, open source source code repository SourceForge.net blocked access to IP addresses originating in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
SourceForge justifies the move saying they are only following American law. Which is more or less the same argument Chinese government spokespeople make when questioned about their country's Internet censorship.
SourceForge has been blocked by China before. Hearing word of this new Great Firewall of America left some Chinese coders wondering if they might now start getting blocked from the other end and what can be done about it.
At CNBeta on the day the news broke, ugmbbc wrote:
It's a tricky situation, but does an entire country have to be punished just because of the extreme actions of a tiny minority of the people in these countries? Open source software provides important infrastructure to these oppressed and developing nations. I hope the American government can see what a blow this is to the infrastructure and fledgling industries in these countries.
Over at geek community Solidot, free-as-in-freedom notes that this move by SourceForge follows earlier restrictions on users from these five countries, allowing them to browse the site and download source code, but barring them from contributing any. Comments there include:
erlv at his technical blog LingCC looks at the implications of politics encroaching upon the open source movement:
I'm not saying the GFW is good for the country or the people, rather that we need to take some steps to ensure that at the same time we're able to freely communicate with those overseas, we can stop having to rely on them. Here now in the mainland, for instance, all open source fans are happy to contribute their code with the rest of the open source community. But when that becomes a political tool, how are we supposed to obtain those rights that belong to us?
I don't think SourceForge has any mirror servers in China. If those in charge really wanted to scheme on behalf of our country's information industries and were willing to do what it takes, it wouldn't hurt for them to take 1% of the money they spend on the GFW, as sincere support from the government, and set up a few mirror servers inside the country. At least this way, we'd still have all our own code. At least we'd still have our own independence!