Microsoft employees filed a petition in defense of a GitHub repository that they believe could be under the threat of Chinese censorship. The repository, called 996.ICU, was established at the end of March by Chinese technology workers protesting overwork. The stories name some of the biggest companies in China, including Alibaba, Huawei, ByteDance, DJI, Tencent, Vivo and others.
The protest has angered Chinese censors, and many local browsers are already blocking access to 996.ICU, including the browsers of Tencent, Alibaba, Xiaomi and Qihoo 360. Still, the repository is still available to users Chinese in alternative browsers, and GitHub has not moved to remove it.
There is a real possibility that Microsoft, which owns GitHub, could be pressured to censor the repository. The company continues to operate in China and censors search results on its Bing search engine to comply with local laws. So Microsoft employees are taking steps to make sure that does not happen.
The petition reads:
We, the workers of Microsoft and GitHub, support the 996.ICU movement and we sympathize with the technology workers in China. We know that this is a problem that crosses national borders. These same problems permeate full-time and contingent jobs at Microsoft and in the industry in general. Another reason why we should take a stand in solidarity with Chinese workers is that history tells us that multinational companies will face workers in a race to the base, as they outsource jobs and take advantage of weak labor standards in the search for jobs. earnings. We have to unite across national borders to ensure fair working conditions for everyone around the world.
We encourage Microsoft and GitHub to keep the 996.ICU repository on GitHub uncensored and available to everyone.
supporters, we urge you to join us in our support for the 996.ICU movement.
Since 996.ICU is hosted on GitHub, the repository can not be blocked at the network level without blocking the entire site, which would be Catastrophic for Chinese software developers. Individual browsers may refuse to load the page, but those blocks are easy to circumvent by changing browsers. The final decision of whether to risk access to China's GitHub rests with Microsoft, which has so far not indicated a firm position on the protests.
This is not the first time that technology workers have solicited awareness on social issues, often to great success Google's strike in November on the company's trends to protect and reward men accused of Sexual harassment brought media attention to a serious problem and forced Google to accept new policies regarding sexual harassment and diversity. Microsoft workers signed an open letter last June to protest the company's work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), saying they refused "to be complicit" with the immigration policies of Trump administrations. Google employees also signed a letter last November for the company to cancel its plans for a censored search engine in China, a project that Google has now put on hold.