Coder deletes open source add-on for Chef in protest over ICE contract

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Coder deletes open source add-on for Chef in protest over ICE contract

Bork Bork Bork —

CEO said multiple Chef customers affected; now Chef won’t renew contract.


Open source ingredients borked some Chef users' systems because of an ICE protest by one developer.

Enlarge / Open source ingredients borked some Chef users’ systems because of an ICE protest by one developer.

On September 17, Seth Vargo—a former employee of Chef, the software deployment automation company—found out via a tweet that Chef licenses had been sold to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) under a $95,500, one-year contract through the approved contractor C&C International Computers & Consultants. In protest, Vargo decided to “archive” the GitHub repository for two open source Chef add-ons he had developed in the Ruby programming language. On his GitHub repository page, Vargo wrote, “I have a moral and ethical obligation to prevent my source from being used for evil.”

That move, according to an all-hands email sent out by Chef CEO Barry Crist—later published on the company’s website—”impact[ed] production systems for a number of our customers. Our entire team has worked to minimize customer downtime and will continue to do so until we restore services to 100% operation.”

Crist faced backlash internally from employees over the deal. The work, he pointed out, had begun in 2014, well before the current administration implemented the child detention policies that Vargo was protesting. “For context, we began working with DHS-ICE during the previous administration to modernize their IT practices with agile and DevOps,” Crist wrote.

He continued:

While I understand that many of you and many of our community members would prefer we had no business relationship with DHS-ICE, I have made a principled decision, with the support of the Chef executive team, to work with the institutions of our government, regardless of whether or not we personally agree with their various policies… My goal is to co

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