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Fedora To Have a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" For Contributors 212

Posted by timothy
from the the-right-kind-of-discretion dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Fedora Project is now going to enforce a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for contributors. What the project's engineering committee is asking their members to conceal is a contributor's nationality, country of origin, or area of residence. There's growing concern about software development contributions coming from export restricted countries by the US (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria) with Red Hat being based out of North Carolina, but should these governmental restrictions apply to an open-source software project?"
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Fedora To Have a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" For Contributors

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  • Re:Lawsuit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @12:44PM (#46420069)

    If contributing to open source projects is wrong, then I don't want anybody to be right.

  • Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @12:52PM (#46420149) Homepage Journal

    If someone in Syria submits a contribution to US based software, how does that infringe an export ban?

  • Re:Huh? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 06, 2014 @01:12PM (#46420343)

    Interesting question. Perhaps a good one for the mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater, also headquartered in NC.

  • Re:Absolutely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @01:14PM (#46420371) Homepage
    ...and an equally-long history of being illegal and getting people thrown in jail or slapped with fines. "Noble cause" isn't a defense in itself.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cdrudge (68377) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @01:42PM (#46420677) Homepage

    Ask yourself this - how could someone in Syria contribute to code they've never seen before?

    The same way that Western goods make their way to any country under export control, through intermediaries.

    Coke can't sell to North Korea. Coke however can be sold (or made) in China and then gets shipped across the line [] to North Korea.

    Is it really hard to imagine that Syria or Iran might be able to download from an intermediary country that might have a mirror of the distribution? Or had someone travel to such a country to download it? Or just went through a VPN or proxy? Or...

  • Re:Lawsuit? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 06, 2014 @02:04PM (#46420925)

    Maybe the US should stop making enemies.

  • Re:Absolutely (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rich0 (548339) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @02:13PM (#46420997) Homepage

    I don't know the intricacies of U.S. law, but I was under the impression that the law regarding ecryption algorithms as munitions was no longer in place.

    Correct. Software is not export-controlled specifically at all.

    Unless there's something else restricting software specifically, there's no economic value to restrict unless you have paid developers in restricted/embargoed territtories who are receiving money across the border.

    The problem is that the prohibitions are blanket ones against money, goods, and services moving in either way across the border with a few named countries like Iran (these kinds of laws exist in many countries, the specific targets vary, but Iran is a pretty common one so I just use that as an example). You actually need an exception to the law to ship anything at all in either direction, and those exceptions usually require specific licenses from the government (you're allowed to ship n kg of wheat into Iran or whatever).

    Sure, it doesn't make as much sense when applied to FOSS, but the laws were written broadly without FOSS in mind. So, companies and non-profits aren't terribly eager to test them. It is entirely possible that a court would find accepting free contributions is non-infringing, but it is also possible that a court would treat you like somebody shipping crates full of missiles.

    It is a big mess, and different FOSS organizations are handling it in different ways. Some try to have organizations in various jurisdictions so that they can keep different activities in different areas. Some just ban it. Some don't think it is a problem. Since nobody has gone to court yet, it is hard to say what the outcome would be the first time this happens.

  • Re:Absolutely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Immerman (2627577) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @02:50PM (#46421401)

    Want to have a shot at being able to fight for justice? Keep your mouth shut.

As the trials of life continue to take their toll, remember that there is always a future in Computer Maintenance. -- National Lampoon, "Deteriorata"