All developers should be free to use GitHub, no matter where they live. At the same time, GitHub respects and abides by US law, which means government sanctions have limited our ability to provide developers in some countries the full range of GitHub services.
Today we are announcing a breakthrough: we have secured a license from the US government to offer GitHub to developers in Iran. This includes all services for individuals and organizations, private and public, free and paid.
So what happened here?
The US has long imposed broad sanctions on multiple countries, including Iran. These sanctions prohibit any US company from doing business with anyone in a sanctioned country. (These sanctions can also apply to non-US companies whose activities directly or indirectly involve the US, including merely having payments that flow through US banks or payment mechanisms like Visa.)
And so in 2019, GitHub implemented access restrictions for developers in Iran and several other countries to comply with US sanctions laws. At the same time, in keeping with our goal of making GitHub available to everyone, we also immediately took two other actions:
First, even as we complied with sanctions, we went to great lengths to keep as much of GitHub available to as many developers as possible under US sanctions laws, making public repos available even in sanctioned countries.
And separately, we took our case to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), part of the US Treasury Department, and began a lengthy and intensive process of advocating for broad and open access to GitHub in sanctioned countries.
Over the course of two years, we were able to demonstrate how developer use of GitHub advances human progress, international communication, and the enduring US foreign policy of promoting free speech and the free flow of information. We are grateful to OFAC for the engagement which has led to this great result for developers.
We are in the process of rolling back all restrictions on developers in Iran, and reinstating full access to affected accounts. For developers who have questions or need help with their accounts, please visit our help page.
We still have more work to do. We want every developer to be able to collaborate on GitHub, and we are working with the US government to secure similar licenses for developers in Crimea and Syria as well. Stay tuned.