Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why you shouldn't use Google code

Google code is the only commonly-used open source hosting site that
uniformly blocks access from countries subject to US embargoes -
including Cuba, where I often work.  See the wikipedia hosting comparison.

You say 'oh well, they have to because they are in the US'.  Not so. They are not allowed to distribute code providing encryption, according to US law.   Sourceforge, when faced with the same problem, allowed projects to say they did not contain cryptography, and thus opt out of the blanket block.

Google's policy is contrary to the fundamental principles of open source - there should be "No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups".

But in Google code, there is discrimination.  Because if you're in Cuba, and you want to see a Google code web page, or any code, then Google will block you.

I don't know why Google has this policy.  Maybe someone thought it would be easier to block Cuba so they didn't have to worry about getting into trouble.  I suppose that person also assumed that you, dear reader, would not care too much about the loss of small liberties.

I hope you do.  I hope you don't use Google code, and that you encourage those who do, to change, and explain why.

I care about open source, and I care about my freedom to share work with others.  I care about this in practice, and I care about it in principle.  If you care too, please, don't use Google code.