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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Much of the conversation around Microsoft's purchase of computer code repository GitHub revolves around the potential culture clash — a corporate giant buying the keys to a scrappy open source community. But there are some potential consequences in security worth taking a gander at, too.

Why it matters: GitHub is so big in the coding world that no nation with a software industry could ever block it. Some freedom fighters have weaponized that indispensability.

In 2015, the "Great Firewall of China" — the nationwide system China uses to censor the internet — was reconfigured to launch a cyberattack on GitHub. It's widely believed that the attack was a Chinese response to GitHub posting a Chinese translation of the New York Times and a mirror of the anti-Chinese-censorship site GreatFire.org.

  • GitHub also contains the code for components of several internet privacy applications that could not make it into countries like China without them.

Microsoft wouldn't comment on what happens to material hosted on GitHub if a government asked it to filter certain content from its country. Microsoft is more powerful than GitHub on the world stage, but an oppressive government also has a lot more levers it can pull to influence a corporation of Microsoft's size.

Go deeper

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Kellyanne Conway's parting power pointers

Kellyanne Conway addresses the 2020 Republican National Convention. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has seen power exercised as a pollster, campaign manager and senior counselor to President Trump. Now that his term in office has concluded, she shared her thoughts with Axios.

Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP holdouts press on with plans to crush Cheney

Screenshot of emails to a member of Congress from individuals who signed an Americans for Limited Government petition against Rep. Liz Cheney. Photo obtained by Axios

Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.

Democrats aim to punish House GOP for Capitol riot

Speaker Nancy Pelosi passes through a newly installed metal detector at the House floor entrance Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.