A hot potato: Days after it was reported that more tech companies and insiders were calling for racially insensitive terms such as whitelist, blacklist, and master/slave to be replaced, Github has revealed it would be removing these words from its service.
Github CEO Nat Friedman said the firm was working to replace the terms ‘master’ and ‘slave’ with the likes of ‘main/default/primary’ and ‘secondary.’ Users will also find ‘blacklist’ and ‘whitelist’ dropped for ‘allow list’ and ‘deny/exclude list,’ writes ZDNet.
The announcement came soon after reports of renewed calls to drop the long-used tech terms following the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests.
White hat and black hat, names for ethical hackers and those who hack for personal gain, respectively, have also faced calls to be replaced with “ethical” and “unethical.”
Security community! Can we please agree on what terms we're using instead of "whitelist" and "blacklist"? 🙏 It would be great to make these consistent.— Maya Kaczorowski (@MayaKaczorowski) June 11, 2020
It’s not just recent events that have thrown the terms under the spotlight. They were banned by the UK’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) following a customer complaint back in May, and Chromium depreciated the terms after a request to do so by Microsoft. We also saw Drupal remove Master/Slave in 2014, while Python did the same in 2018.
Elsewhere, the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), the Go programming language, the PHPUnit library, editing service Grammarly, and the Curl file download utility have all stated their intention to replace whitelist and blacklist.
It's a great idea and we are already working on this! cc @billygriffin22— Nat Friedman (@natfriedman) June 12, 2020
ZDNet reports that LinkedIn and Apple engineers are trying to get their companies to also drop the terms. Most people are for the change, saying the terminology is racially insensitive and outdated, but others argue that switching them will cause technical problems for programmers, and that other actions, such as donating to BLM causes, would be more beneficial.