Feb 28, 2020

GitHub transparency report reveals growing government interference

GitHub transparency report

GitHub announced the latest version of its transparency report, a yearly compilation of takedown and information requests sent by governments, law enforcement agencies, and companies around the world.

The report reveals the growing importance of GitHub—the world’s largest developer community—as a content moderator and intelligence source.

Law enforcement is sending more criminal requests. In 2019, GitHub processed 218 requests to disclose user information, more than three times as many as in 2018. Those disclosures affected 385 GitHub accounts.

Many of the requests that GitHub received were highly secretive: gag orders prevented GitHub from notifying all but six users.

Governments are censoring more content. GitHub received 16 takedown requests to block or remove user content from three countries—8 from Russia, 6 from China, and 2 from Spain.

That resulted in 54 projects being blocked—a sixfold increase in the number of affected projects between 2018 and 2019.

Developers still face copyright issues. In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, GitHub saw fewer total DMCA takedown notices last year, but a 21% spike in the number of repositories affected. Specifically, GitHub received 1,762 takedown notices that resulted in 14,320 projects being permanently removed.

Why it matters: With more than 40M developers and over 100M repositories, GitHub stores and protects lots of valuable content, code, and data. It’s importance to governments and law enforcement continues to grow over time.

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