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Cover image for I am lucky, you are not.

I am lucky, you are not.

jeromegamez profile image Jérôme Gamez Updated on ・4 min read

Photo by Matt Collamer, Chinese translation by @alynxzhou

Hi, my name is Jérôme! I am comfortable sharing my name, that I‘m living in Germany and that I am not always happy with my government.

I am lucky that I can say this publicly, without the fear of repercussions, and I have the luxury not having to even think about having to think about how lucky I am (the duplication is intended).

This was made aware to me through a conversation that I recently had in the Discord community for the Firebase Admin SDK for PHP.

One of the members was trying to access the Firebase API with the SDK which triggered an exception without detailed information on what went wrong. As it turned out, they were located in China and forgot to enable a proxy on the environment the code was running in. A fixable issue.

While I was working on the SDK to implement the handling of connection errors (something I didn‘t even think of doing before because I‘m in the lucky position of having ubiquitous internet access in a non-restricted country), another community member chimed in:

@jeromegamez: Look what a pleasure I'm having: Due to U.S. trade controls law restrictions, your GitHub account has been restricted. For individual accounts, you may have limited access to free GitHub public repository services for personal communications only. Please read about GitHub and Trade Controls for more information. If you believe your account has been flagged in error, please file an appeal.

They had accessed GitHub once without using a VPN/Proxy from their home country, got flagged immediately, and now aren’t able to access their own private repositories.

That sucks [...] are you going to appeal the decision?

was my naive reply to the news, not realizing that they, of course, wouldn‘t have success with an appeal.

@jeromegamez: Unfortunately you don't choose where to born! among almost 200 country I'm in one of the crazy ones. I usually use vpn as of having sanctions plus internal censorships, whatsapp for example, sometimes I can't upload picture and I have to use a proxy/VPN. Normally you can use international services like Nvidia.com/Android.developers.com and so on using a VPN but this time it is way different as they block you once you access their services using specific IP addresses. At least I still can use public repositories, and hopefully will be able to backup my private ones!

About appealing a decision, as being a citizen of these countries I can not do that.

We continued our conversation in a private channel, where they told me their country of origin (something they often don’t feel comfortable to tell), their struggles and that they shared this in the public channel to raise awareness.

People like me (especially like me: white, male, European, with a well-paying job and access to anything I need and most I want) look at the world and are dissatisfied with or afraid of what‘s happening in it while being in a rather comfortable place.

But there are far more uncomfortable, hostile and dangerous places to be, and people like you and me are living in them.

While I‘m struggling with the current heatwave, someone else is struggling to make a living.

While I‘m angry that I can‘t use my preferred username on an internet platform, someone else has to make sure that their username doesn‘t reveal too much information about them.

While Government A is putting sanctions on Country B, it‘s the individual people in that country that have to struggle with the consequences, not their leaders.

While I am trying to get a raise, someone else is trying to stay alive.

This doesn‘t mean that our personal problems are irrelevant, but I think it’s important to be aware that many of us are lucky to have been born in a good place, and also that many of us aren't as lucky.

The least we can do is to treat others with respect, decency and compassion, no matter where they come from or what their background is.

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Posted on Mar 15 '19 by:

Discussion

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i have to say, i'm impressed at how you broached this issue, this is a multi-faceted problem that honestly has no end in sight.

from my perspective, i come from a country where stats say 1 in 5 youths are engaged in online fraud, i usually have an issue telling people where i'm from due to them prolly having a bad experience or hearing about us. its a lot of bravery to expose yourself because people might reject you immediately despite your best intentions.

as it stands, a lot of hardworking people pay the price for the actions of a few, government in my opinion is the new religion, too many rules, too few sane leaders, imagine someone walking into an embassy and then he's butchered into pieces just because someone doesn't like how he talks. and NOTHING IS HAPPENING, or leaders that order killings of thousands of people over rumours and theories.

what am i leading to? all the ills of this world started on good intentions. people needed leaders (and still do) and today we have government. government used to mean people but now it means politicians, there are huge disconnects between rulers and the ruled, look at Boris Johnson for instance, one would think that his first course of action would be a way to get brexiters and non brexiters (both of which are still british) to come to some sort of agreement, however he seems to be more interested in meeting Trump, because the approval of the US Government(not the country, the government) is a higher piority. i won't even get started on my own country's government, im ashamed.

the internet in my opinion is the first place to recognize all my rights as a human being(Not a joke here), so its very sad to see government inteference blocking potential Torvalds and Jobs from reaching their peak, i'm a firm believer in open source for the same reasons.

i believe its the responsibility of every developer to resist political and government intrusion into programming and software engineering. if they (politicians) want it so bad they can start with hello world programs like we all did.

Ok, enough venting, i just had to unload this. hows the weather in Germany? i hear the heatwave is breaking records. im going to make some noodles and google chinese memes, hopefully i'll laugh at some....

 

Thank you for your insightful comment! I think you‘re absolutely right by saying that this is a pandora‘s box of political and humanitarian issues, and that we as developers can make an impact, even if it‘s „just“ by not participating in something that would violate a person‘s privacy!

It‘s really hot in Germany, but I‘m sure that in six months I will complain that it‘s too cold :D

 

I think you hit the bullseye with this article.

I've already read enough comments about GitHub being racist: please, stop it with the nonsense guys, that is not the f-ig point.

The point is that an organization (GitHub) is proactively endangering the open source ecosystem.

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I'm Italian, I live in Italy, and like you, Jérôme, I had never ever thought about an issue like this one: at some level it really scares me.

The thought of having my code taken by my hands because of my sheer unluck had never passed through my head.

And the keyword is unluck, because I, like you Jérôme, am really really really lucky to live where I live, to have been born where I was born.

--

Good luck to any developer who was blocked without the chance to save their work, whether you are Iranian, Curd, Chinese or from any other part of this beautiful world.

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As for me, that's the straw that broke the camel's back: I am deleting all my projects and repos on GitHub, I will completely migrate to a selfhosted Gitlab or similar git software.

 

Thank you for your comment, it resonates with me a lot!

I was wondering if even GitHub as an organization is to blame - they are bound to the laws of the country they’re in, as we all are. I‘ve read that, had they given their users a prior notice and a window to prepare for the change, they would have broken the law already (I haben’t confirmed that statement).

From what I‘ve experienced with them so far, the people working at GitHub (again: like you and me) are well-meaning, and I‘m sure they tried to handle the situation the best they could.

As for the migration to a self-hosted environment: have you already explored where you would do it, e.g. at an Italian provider? So many service providers are located in the US or in countries closely tied to the US - I wonder, if it came to the decision, a provider in Germany or Great Britain would take the risk getting embargoed as well :/

 
 

I can't understand Chinese, I'm sorry, but google translate says you are thanking me, or something like that.

谢谢你的客气话

 

Thank you Jérôme for such an insightful piece. It's a moment where geopolitical issues are a real person looking back at you. So many of us are just plain lucky!

As I.T. people, we're in a unique position. We're the ones building the future today. What do we want it to look like?

Your post reminds me to be aware the technology we develop affects others. It also reminds me that if I do have some kind of priviledge (ethnicity, gender etc.) use that to make the world a better place.

 

it feel so bad to me as a programmer that living in one of those countries. but sanctions just put pressure on poor people not government

 

Like the article very much, nailed it. I am also one of the so so lucky ones, but I can't belive what I'm hearing about github. I might transfer everything to Linode, use VPN and GitLab. I am Croatian, and have traveled quite a bit so I consider myself to be quite objective. The amount of crap you have to deal with depends, apparently, on your GPS location at the moment you were born. Silly as it sounds, it's true. My country is a manure filled cauldron where being a politician is everyone's ultimate goal. Emigration is quite popular here and it's the only way to detach yourself from all the hatred that has permeated all layers of society. Anyway, good article and I appreciate the objective self analysis 😉

 

They could use Tor Browser by default so you don't have to worry about turning your VPN on everytime. And even with a VPN, I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with a central location (the VPN) tracking my every move on the internet.

 

Thank you for your comment! What is troubling me is that they have to resort to those flawed solutions in the first place

Tor nodes and VPN providers can be blocked by internet providers (often state-owned where it would matter).

I would much prefer if they didn‘t need to worry about this stuff at all.

 

Yeah that's true, in any case, Tor has bridges in case the exit nodes are blocked so censorship can be evaded. But yeah, it definitely shouldn't exist in the first place.

 

Could I translate your article into Chinese and put it on my blog (I will mark that you are the original author)? Thanks.

 

Of course ❤️! If you share the link with me, I will put it at the top of the article!

 

I have done it here: sh.alynx.moe/posts/I-Am-Lucky-You-..., but I am wondering how long can it live...

Thank you ❤️! I updated the post here, and also on Medium and Narrative.

For some reason I suggest you copy it and create a post yourself because I may delete it from my blog in future. I am in China. XD

 

This is important. It can even be expanded to another important point. People didn’t do a damn thing to be born in a first world country or being white or rich or a man or anything. There is nothing to be proud of except of thing things that you do.

 
 
 

Completely Agree. We never know the value of something that we got it for free. Internet used to be the only free world and its not a free world any more.

 

Great article. Talking about China proxy, I would like to share this article about them