January 13, 2021 by Drew DeVault

On the subject of ethics in our industry

I am disappointed by our peers in the industry in terms of their failure to uphold a reasonable moral standard, and I am sorry that it is necessary for me to write about it today. I would much prefer that we compete in terms of our product’s utility and our technological expertise, and it shames me that we must also compete in terms of our respective levels of command over our moral compasses.

I learned today of an incident at GitHub, one of our competitors.1 A Jewish employee was fired in apparent retaliation for commenting “stay safe homies, Nazis are about” in one of the company’s Slack channels. This occurred during an insurrection at the US Capitol by radical right-wing, racially-motivated terrorists, at least some of whom were wearing Nazi propaganda, for the purpose of uprooting the democratic process to install a fascist demagogue. The seditionist riot claimed lives.

This news comes months after GitHub made the news for accepting contracts2 with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an organization which has infamously committed large-scale human rights violations at the behest of that same fascist demagogue, problems which were generally known at the time and which were brought to GitHub’s attention without effect. Around the same time, another company in the same space, GitLab, loosened their internal policies3 to make it easier for them to make similar agreements without regard to ethics, stating that they will, quote, do business with “customers with values that are incompatible with our own values.”

This level of moral absenteeism within the industry SourceHut shares astonishes me. I wish that there was no need for me to make the following statements explicitly.

These are the official policies of SourceHut: we condemn white nationalism, Donald Trump, and the supporters of both. We affirm that we value human rights, the democratic process, and the judicial process. We assert the rights and value of all people, of all nationalities, races, ethnicities, sexual preferences, gender identities, disabilities, religions, and economic classes. We will defend anyone who would speak up in support of these ideals. We will not do business with anyone who does not recognize and embody these truths.

We think it’s repugnant that our peers don’t demonstrate the same values. We think that you, the customer, should reward businesses that commit to upholding these values with your patronage, and withhold it from those which will not.

Also, in case the employee that GitHub terminated is reading this: feel free to get in touch if you’re still open to a job in the industry. We’d be happy to talk to you.

  1. Source: Business Insider (alternate without paywall: Gizmodo↩︎

  2. Source: Bloomberg ↩︎

  3. Source: The Register ↩︎