Post Clinton’s Internet Freedom Speech:US- SourceForge Blocked Syria, Sudan, Iran, N. Korea & Cuba: Is Open Source Still Open?

22 Jan, 2010

Update: SourceForge Simi Unblocks Syria, Sudan,Iran, N.Korea & Cuba- Freedom Loving Admins: Unblock Now:

source forge screen shot.jpg

Following Linkedin  move of  unblocking Syria after ArabCrunch reported the incident ( and kept it against Sudan ), we heard different reports that U.S. Federal government officials are preparing to waive some of the sanctions against Syria that was imposed by the Bush administration , but few days ago these sanctions became worse: the world’s largest open source software development web site blocked users from downloading free open source software from “banned locations” meaning users and developers form Syria, Sudan, Iran, N Korea and Cuba are banned.

This puts developers from Syria, Sudan, Iran, Korea and Cuba and their IT industry in the dark since many development tools that every developer needs are hosted on sourceforge and since also Google blocks downloading software for its open source repository for users from these countries.

This event is a direct contradiction to the open source philosophy that SF preaches, this also comes in light of US secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterdays speech urging Internet freedom! as she said:
“We stand for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas,” said Clinton in a major address that cited China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt among countries that censored the Internet or harassed bloggers!

To this end, we have a guest post from Abdulrahman Idlbi, Opinions expressed by guest writers do not necessarily reflects ArabCrunch’s point of view. However we condemn SF blockhead and call it a sad event that contradicts with Clinton’s call for “equal access to knowledge and ideas” and with US congressman Brian Baird ideas, who agreed with ArabCrunch that open source should be open.
( ArabCrunch.NET has opens source profiles and there was a thread opened about this subject here.)

Source Fourge Syria SHere is Idlbi guest post:

The following statement has been on Terms of Use for a while [1] (but who’d care to read them anyway?):

Prohibited Persons

You represent you are not a person on a list barring you from receiving services under U.S. laws or other applicable jurisdiction, including without limitations, the Denied Persons List and the Entity List, and other lists issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, detailed at (or successor sites thereto). Users residing in countries on the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control sanction list, including Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria, may not post Content to, or access Content available through,

As of January 2008, people from those countries can browse SourceForge projects and download from them, but access to the secure server was not allowed, so they would not be able to log in to SourceForge or contribute to projects. As of January 2010, blocking went further with not allowing people coming from “banned locations” to download anything from, having a response similar to this one:

Basically, the case is not totally new. For a long time, people on those countries lived with the fact that companies like Mathworks and Microchip block their sites in their faces, and others like Sun prevent them from downloading their products. However, that has not been a great problem: programmers in Syria are still using Java and PIC microcontrollers, and students in Iran are still doing their research using Matlab; most of the time, using the same techniques and tools that are developed to avoid the raising censorship in many countries around the world.

Sun has blocked people in several countries from accessing its so-claimed open source projects, but users in those countries have reluctantly ignored the situation as they managed their way around, coping with Sun’s own definition of open source. However, the latest incident, blockage, has been surprising and disappointing for FOSS people in those countries. defines itself as “the world’s largest open source software development web site” [2] with the previous link directing to, where you can read the following definition [3]:

The Open Source Definition

Open source doesn’t just mean access to the source code. The distribution terms of open-source software must comply with the following criteria:

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.

So, what? Free software is a matter of freedom: people should be free to use software in all the ways that are socially useful. Or is that freedom a right for some people but not for others?

While celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King a few days ago, it seems we still have a long journey to walk against discrimination in all its ugly faces, even with having the Open Source and OpenNet initiatives. It is kind of misleading to hide behind political considerations or terrorism threats to justify those acts of discrimination (which are not that different from the Third World governments’ justifications of Internet censorship), as those acts would only affect, if they would really do, normal peaceful people. Actually, the only effect I see is not simply an increasing feeling of prejudice or suspicion among the computing society, but more remarkably, distrust and losing faith in initiatives raising shiny mottoes with supposedly great ethics behind, such as “Software Freedom”. When a student or an academician in one of those banned countries read a report like “Access Denied” or know about OpenNet Initiative [4], they feel a bitter irony. They believe that the people behind such efforts should pay more attention to the behavior of their own government, which is leading the “Free World”.

How should the community respond? NautilusSVN developers can set an example. They had their project hosted by Google Code when they received complaints from a Syrian blogger on being blocked due to US export policies. The developers found that going against their open source philosophy, so they moved their project to Launchpad, renaming it to RabbitVCS [5]. However, would Launchpad be the next on the list? Maybe the open source community have to consider migrating their projects to “less free” countries with no export control regulations, so they can express their software beliefs more freely.

Without an action taken, Free Software would become, at least for us, a matter of biased ethics (which are usually not called ethics anymore), rather than a matter of freedom. Sorry, Martin… I have a dream, that one day open source would be really open…


It worth mentioning that Internet content blockage against some countries is not restricted to getting software or services. It is really disappointing to try to participate in a global humanitarian event such as Earth Hour or Google Haiti crisis response to make a donation, to find out that parts of those websites (powered by Google) are blocked. Even donating to Haiti victims is an act of terrorism? I thought the US is the one who’s committing crimes against the environment and climate, so shouldn’t US citizens be the ones to be blocked by EarthHour rather than Syrians?

[1] Terms of Use.

[2] About

[3] The Open Source Definition.

[4] OpenNet Initiative.

[5] The migration happened after correspondence between a Syrian blogger, M. B. Noimi, and the developers of NautilusSVN. Parts of the correspondence can be downloaded from: The original story appeared on a blog in Arabic:

Guest writer bio:
Abdulrahman Idlbi is computer engineering master’s student at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM.) His interests include researching using technology in enhancing learning and creative thinking among children, in addition to following the continuing blockage of internet resources in the face of people from countries banned by US export policies. – CC with Attribution to ArabCrunch and Abdulrahman Idlbi with a link back to this post.-

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

  1. Diego  |  January 27th, 2010 at 7:37 PM #

    I’ve had mail the following to the FSF and the OSI.

    > SourceForge and GoogleCode has now
    > blocked all access from by countries
    > on the U.S. ‘Foreign Assets Control
    > sanction list’.
    > If you live in Iran, North Korea,
    > Syria, Sudan or Cuba, you simply can’t
    > access SourceForge.
    > 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.
    > SourceForge and GoogleCode are not
    > opensource anymore. This clearly a
    > violation of the license agreement.
    > We would be pleased if you could
    > attend this cases. Thanks

    We have a open a public petition too, please support our cause.


  2. Victor Mariategui  |  January 28th, 2010 at 1:15 AM #

    And yet they (CLinton/Obama and the gang) suggest that Cuba stops its citizens accessing internet – while the US refuses to allow Cuba to connect to Internet by cable – they have to make do with a limited bandwidth and expensive satellite connection.
    Yet another aspect of a 50 year long economic blockade that affects eevery aspect of life on the island, a country that nevertheless was first on the scene with its medical teams after the earthquake in Haiti.

  3. Равный доступ к информации. На словах и на деле. « Сторонники Концепции Общественной Безопасности  |  January 28th, 2010 at 10:02 AM #

    […] закрыт для пользователей из «неблагоприятных» стран, сообщает Arab Crunch. В черный список попали Куба, Иран, Сирия, Ливия, […]

  4. CHW » bloquea acceso al “eje del mal”  |  January 28th, 2010 at 1:28 PM #

    […] Fuente: Post Clinton’s Internet Freedom Speech:US- SourceForge Blocked Syria, Sudan, Iran, N. Korea & … […]

  5. SourceForge Bloquea Syria, Sudan, Iran, N. Korea & Cuba: aun esta abierto el codigo abierto? -  |  January 28th, 2010 at 8:08 PM #

    […] SourceForge Bloquea Syria, Sudan, Iran, N. Korea & Cuba: aun esta abierto el codigo abierto? [ ] […]

  6. SourceForge corta el acceso a Cuba, Irán, Siria, Corea del Norte y Sudán « Command Line  |  January 29th, 2010 at 2:17 AM #

    […] Ir a los comentarios «SourceForge, la fuente principal de multitud de proyectos de Open Source ha bloqueado el acceso a los países sobre los que EEUU tiene bloqueo (Cuba, Irán, Siria, Corea del… saltándose dos de las premisas de este tipo de software que según la definición de Open Source […]

  7. POSOL Ep.04 – Cowabunga! « POSOL  |  January 30th, 2010 at 6:47 PM #

    […] Sourceforge bloquea a 170 millones de usuarios […]

  8. Podcast Software Libre Nicaragua Episodio 4 « Linux On My Time  |  January 31st, 2010 at 6:32 AM #

    […] Sourceforge bloquea a 170 millones de usuarios […]

  9. When Ideologies Collide: SourceForge Blocks Countries on US Sanction List | google android os blog  |  February 1st, 2010 at 11:48 AM #

    […] not easy being free, because in some way, your hands are always tied. ArabCrunch pondered yesterday whether SourceForge’s blocking access to content on its site to users in countries on the US […]

  10.  |  February 2nd, 2010 at 1:56 PM #

    SourceForge veta el acceso a Siria, Sudán, Irán, Corea del Norte y Cuba….

    Según se cuenta en ArabCrunch, SourceForge ha decidido vetar el acceso a ciertos países (Siria, Sudán, Irán, Corea del Norte y Cuba) a sus sistemas.
    Esto quiere decir que los usuarios ubicados en dichos países tienen cancelado el acceso desde esto……

  11. أول مؤسسة عربية للمصادر المفتوحة – آخر تدوينة قبل الانطلاق | مدونة محمد بشير النعيمي  |  February 7th, 2010 at 3:13 AM #

    […] أصبح من المستحيل الاستفادة من تلك السكريبتات ضمن الدول -الارهابية- بحسب التصنيف الأمريكي لذلك الوقت الذي صرف على برمجة تلك السكريبتات ذهب هباء، […]

  12. SourceForge blocks Iran, North Korea, Syria, Sudan and Cuba : Technology Blog By ShaileshPatel.Net  |  February 7th, 2010 at 2:43 PM #

    […] 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 […]

  13. SourceForge Simi Unblocks Syria, Sudan,Iran, N.Korea & Cuba- Freedom Loving Admins: Unblock Now  |  February 9th, 2010 at 12:41 AM #

    […] waited for few days and nobody wrote about  it, so we moved on and broke the news with a guest post from Abdulrahman Idlbi as we were upset when SourceForge the world’s largest open source software hosting website, […]

  14. norwegian  |  February 9th, 2010 at 1:01 AM #

    More BS from U.S. Anyone who thinks this have got something to do with “terrorists”(an invention by George “The Onion” Bush) are doing the ruling class a great favor. If you read ONE history book you will realise that rulers don’t give a shit about their populace, and deceit is the NORM not the exception. Why read books though when TV satisfies the CNS.

  15. mamdouh al-ramadan  |  February 10th, 2010 at 7:37 PM #

    when and where ? we still on hold to have the permission …… we are developers not terrorists so if those things applied on us so –> for us what’s the difference between open source and closed sources for us now it’s really the same now ……

  16. SourceForge Blocked Users From Syria, Sudan, Iran, N. Korea & CubaThe  |  February 12th, 2010 at 2:17 PM #

    […] open source software developers blocked Syria, Sudan, Iran, N. Korea & Cuba, as Arab Crunch reports. It seems that the ban was initiated by the US government authorities in order to put the […]

  17. Syria Comment » Archives » “Why Doesn’t Washington Give Syrian Internet Users a Thumbs Up Too?” by Laura Pitel  |  March 18th, 2010 at 5:58 PM #

    […] no coincidence. The contrast between Clinton’s words and the reality faced by tech companies was seized upon by angry citizens of the embargoed countries as a shining example of US hypocrisy. [See Syria […]

  18. چرا واشنگتن به کاربران اینترنت سوریه هم چراغ سبز نشان نمی‌دهد؟ « دالبا  |  March 20th, 2010 at 2:21 PM #

    […] تحریم شده، به عنوان مثالی درخشان از دورویی آمریکا مطرح شد. [مقاله‌ی دیدگاه سوریه توسط Idaf را مشاهده […]

  19. SourceForge Clarifies Denial of Site Access | JetLib News  |  March 26th, 2010 at 2:00 AM #

    […] there were some complaints from certain users outside the U.S. stating that they were no longer able to access (who shares a corporate overlord with Slashdot) has outlined the reasons for these bans and […]

  20. Obama enforces trade embargo against open source at Lin.OSS.Gov  |  April 9th, 2010 at 10:25 PM #

    […] like ArabCrunch, or open source advocates in places like India, now have an opportunity to mirror Sourceforge […]

  21. larry  |  April 11th, 2010 at 10:09 AM #

    Brand new, never used.
    – Sent straight from from Iphone USA
    – Come with a pouch, data cable, stereo headset, home charger
    – Manufacturer warranty
    This is a brand new never used Iphone 3GS . Still has the sticker on it with pictures to prove it. Comes with a full year warranty along with an extra in box never used pouch.
    Brand New and unlocked to all networks..
    Comes with full 12 months international warranty.
    Sealed with complete accessories.
    SAMSUNG Omnia 2
    SAMSUNG Omnia I8910 HD
    Sony Ericsson Aino
    Sony Ericsson satio
    Sony Ericsson X10
    Google Nexus One
    Nokia X6 32gb
    For more information, send us an
    Original Apple Iphone 3GS 32GB In Black & White

  22. Saad Ahmad  |  June 1st, 2010 at 11:49 AM #

    U.S.A is trying to be a God of Modern World and can do whatever it may wish!!!

    Long Live those nations who took firm stand against U.S’ Herods and Pharaohs!

  23. Morgan Mathewetters  |  June 14th, 2010 at 11:20 PM #

    Why are you complaining at us? I’d be damned if I were a head of state and I gave anything to people who wanted to blow me up. Spend your money on banners, not bombs. If you want something, put down your guns and talk with us! Egypt got the whole Sinai when it agreed to duel with pens and not swords. Fight to have an accountable and transparent government, not to have a crypt full of dead bodies and shredded limbs. Fund universities, not training camps. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. So fight for your rights at home and we can give you your rights abroad! As said by the Koran, you brought your situation upon yourself. Barak Allah Feek

  24. jasa penulis content  |  July 12th, 2010 at 5:39 PM #

    well, we cannot judge and take conclusion from something we do not know yet.
    anyway, this is a great posting

  25. عاجل: مصادر عرب كرنش “آر آي إم” مالكة بلاكبيري تعقد إتفاق مع السعودية و الإمارات اليوم أو غدا الإعلان الرسمي - "عرب كرنش النسخة العرب  |  September 3rd, 2010 at 11:28 PM #

    […] في عرب كرنش نملك رؤية صلبة، حيث نشرنا في المدونة الإنجليزية عن خطاب حرية الإنترنت في أوائل هذا العام لهليري حيث وبخت دول مثل الصين و […]

  26. If SourceForge is blocking users from Syria, Sudan, Iran and N. Korea, is open source still truly open? - Quora  |  September 19th, 2010 at 10:13 AM #

    […] SourceForge is blocking users from Syria, Sudan, Iran and N. Korea, is open source still truly open?…Cannot add comment at this time.   Mårten Mickos, CEO 2 endorsementsEndorse Mårten […]

  27. Refuting SocialMedia Propaganda Against ArabCrunch - ArabCrunch  |  October 9th, 2010 at 1:05 AM #

    […] on the same day, the US administration goes and orders the largest open source software repository online, sourceforge… in Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria and Sudan from downloading open source software. In yet another […]

  28. Floyd Mchattie  |  February 14th, 2011 at 3:10 PM #

    I believe everyone went liking Ones site, reason being this url has a post on solid. I loved read Ones article. go on To remain a helpful content, I went come again at Another time frame. Appreciate it.

  29. Danny Zipperer  |  April 22nd, 2011 at 9:16 PM #

    It is perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I want to suggest you few interesting things or suggestions. Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read even more things about it!

  30. The Two Policies of Digital Freedom | Building Peace  |  December 2nd, 2012 at 6:56 AM #

    […] countries. Among these websites are LinkedIn (the Facebook of the professional business world), SourceForge, (the largest open source hosting website in the world), and (another open source […]

Leave a Feedback

  • Become Our Fan On Facebook

    ArabCrunch on Facebook

  • Popular Posts

  • Recent Comments
    • saranraj: These crowd funding platform is an need ...
    • Farnsworth: Really?? Arab crowdfunding???? o0?? Why ...
    • Danni: Nice to know these kind of crowd funding...
    • Abdul Majeed Shoman: Hi Great article. Just want to correct...
    • Salem: That is a very strategic addition to Cyb...