Yesterday, at the request of the court, GitHub closed the APK (Android app package file) of a protest organization app used by Tsunami Democràtic (supporting independent groups in Catalonia).
This marks GitHub's re-examination of its platform after a sudden blockade of developers in Iran, Syria and Crimea. GitHub was acquired by Microsoft in June 2018. But for the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem, there is a bigger problem. Almost all code in the cryptocurrency field was uploaded to GitHub. Some developers believe that this is a worrying issue, and that the bitcoin code base is just a matter of time.
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Bitcoin evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos pointed out on Twitter:
"It took only a few months for Microsoft to destroy the culture and openness of GitHub. It's a shame."
Antonopoulos pointed out that the underlying protocol git is decentralized, which means that Microsoft can not stop the platform with just a click of the mouse. However, on GitHub, everyone is discussing which code snippets should be implemented and issuing a request to add new code. If GitHub is really shut down by Microsoft, it will be a hassle. He added, "If one day GitHub drives out bitcoin developers, I wouldn't be surprised."
A GitHub spokesperson said that sometimes government officials must follow the orders to ensure proper functioning in a particular area.
“Although we may not agree with certain laws, if we receive a valid request from a government official, we may still need to block certain content so that our users in the special jurisdiction can continue to access GitHub, collaborate and build software. ""
This is not surprising for Bitcoin developers. In June 2018, Wladimir van der Laan said on Twitter that GitHub was acquired by Microsoft and the Bitcoin code base should be transferred. However, he added:
"It's not anxious right now, but I expect this to be a long and painful start for GitHub to eliminate the fate, and it may end in the same way as Codeplex." (Codeplex is a code-sharing platform that Microsoft closed in 2017)
But if you want to withdraw from GitHub, where should the Bitcoin codebase be moved?
One of the options is GitHub's main competitor, GitLab. This is an open source project and a tool for self-hosting code libraries so that the relevant teams have complete control over their projects.
Some cryptocurrencies have left. Last year, Sia migrated the code base to GitLab.
At the time, Sia CEO David Vorick said:
"GitHub has been the backbone of open source projects in the past few years. It's ironic because GitHub itself is closed source and central. In contrast, GitLab prefers a true open source philosophy."
In addition, Tor also has a bitcoin code library maintained by van der Laan. Tor is a network for anonymous communication that can be accessed through the Tor browser.
Other developers are also experimenting with more technology to deal with the impact of Github's recent moves. Developers have built platforms like Radicle that provide peer-to-peer code communication, but are still in beta.
GitHub's behavior is a warning to those who build decentralized platforms, and they should be vigilant to prevent a path toward centralization. On Tuesday, Tim Berners Lee, founder and inventor of the World Wide Web, reminded us that since the birth of the Internet, it has been repeatedly subverted, and it is time to "figh for the network we want." And now is the time.