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Open Source Devs Reverse Decision to Block ICE Contractors From Using Software

An anonymous reader quotes Motherboard: Less than 24 hours after a software developer revoked access to Lerna, a popular open-source software management program, for any organization that contracted with U.S. immigrations and Customs Enforcement, access has been restored for any organization that wishes to use it and the developer has been removed from the project… The modified version specifically banned 16 organizations, including Microsoft, Palantir, Amazon, Northeastern University, Johns Hopkins University, Dell, Xerox, LinkedIn, and UPS… Although open-source developer Jamie Kyle acknowledged that it’s “part of the deal” that anyone “can use open source for evil,” he told me he couldn’t stand to see the software he helped develop get used by companies contracting with ICE.

Kyle’s modification of Lerna’s license was originally assented to by other lead developers on the project, but the decision polarized the open-source community. Some applauded his principled stand against ICE’s human rights violations, while others condemned his violation of the spirit of open-source software. Eric Raymond, the founder of the Open Source Initiative and one of the authors of the standard-bearing Open Source Definition, said Kyle’s decision violated the fifth clause of the definition, which prohibits discrimination against people or groups. “Lerna has defected from the open-source community and should be shunned by anyone who values the health of that community,” Raymond wrote in a blog post on his website.

The core contributor who eventually removed Kyle also apologized for Kyle’s licensing change, calling it a “rash decision” (which was also “unenforceable.”)

Eric Raymond had called the decision “destructive of one of the deep norms that keeps the open source community functional — keeping politics separated from our work.”

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