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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 hour 28 min ago

Short: Just Keep Repeating the Lie (“Quality”) Until People Might Believe It

Sunday 22nd of April 2018 11:41:59 AM

Related to this (graphic in this page): Short: Highly Misleading and Unscientific Graphics From the EPO for an Illusion of Growth

Summary: Battistelli’s patent-printing bureau (EPO without quality control) keeps lying about the quality of patents by repeating the word “quality” a lot of times, including no less than twice in the summary alone (highlighted above)


He keeps granting or minting lots of monopolies as if the more the merrier (reference: Bureau of Engraving and Printing)

Shelston IP Keeps Pressuring IP Australia to Allow Software Patents and Harm Software Development

Sunday 22nd of April 2018 09:49:19 AM

Grant Shoebridge wants what’s good for Grant Shoebridge, not for Australia

Summary: Shelston IP wants exactly the opposite of what’s good for Australia; it just wants what’s good for itself, yet it habitually pretends to speak for a productive industry (nothing could be further from the truth)

THE corrupting influence of the patent ‘industry’ (notably law firms) is often mentioned here in relation to the USPTO. It also appears as though the patent ‘industry’ has leverage over Battistelli, which helps explain the EPO‘s suicidal (self-destructive) path. We’ll write about that later today.

“…we have a pretty good idea (and record) of who lobbies who, when, and what for.”Over the years we wrote about 200 short posts or long articles about patent policy ‘down under’, especially as it relates to software patents in New Zealand and in Australia (IPONZ and IP Australia, respectively). This means we have a pretty good idea (and record) of who lobbies who, when, and what for.

“Given the current substantial uncertainty that exists regarding how the proposed objects clause will be implemented, this draft legislation will be keenly anticipated and Shelston IP will keep you advised of developments.”
      –Grant ShoebridgeOver the past few years we’ve seen Shelston IP pushing patent extremism and software patents ‘down under’ e.g. [1, 2, 3]. They weren’t quite so active until a few years ago. Nowadays they are lobbying IP Australia to become a patent maximalist (or a ‘patent-printing machine’) rather than a patent examination office, having noticed that the commission associated with productivity advised against software patents and policy adapted accordingly. Just before the weekend Grant Shoebridge from Shelston IP had another go at it:

In this first of two “patentable subject matter” articles, I will consider IP Australia’s proposals in relation to the introduction of an objects clause and its seemingly significant potential impact on Australia’s patent eligibility threshold.

[...]

The next stage in the introduction of an objects clause into the Australian Patent Act will be the preparation of an exposure draft of the legislative amendments together with a draft explanatory memorandum on the intended purpose and interpretation of the objects clause. Given the current substantial uncertainty that exists regarding how the proposed objects clause will be implemented, this draft legislation will be keenly anticipated and Shelston IP will keep you advised of developments.

Notice that last sentence; these people actually believe the law exists just to serve them and it’s for them to decide on. How arrogant an assumption. They don’t even produce anything.

What IP Australia needs to understand (and hopefully does already) is that firms like Shelston IP are foes of productivity; they derive power and income from litigation, disputes, threats of litigation, and escalating disputes. Whatever they suggest on the subject of patents is counterproductive to productivity. In a sense, one might as well just say that IP Australia needs to listen to what Shelston IP wants and then implement the exact opposite of what Shelston IP suggests.

Is Andy Ramer’s Departure the End of Cantor Fitzgerald’s Patent Trolls-Feeding Operations and Ambitions?

Sunday 22nd of April 2018 06:24:07 AM

Summary: The managing director of the ‘IP’ group at Cantor Fitzgerald is leaving, but it does not yet mean that patent trolls will be starved/deprived access to patents

Richard Lloyd, the most extreme among the IAM bunch (patent trolls’ lobby), mentioned just before the weekend that Andy Ramer had left Cantor Fitzgerald, a major Wall Street brokerage house that lost 658 of its 960 employees when the World Trade Center was destroyed in the Saudis-led terror attacks.

Tough time for patent trolls? Certainly. As a reminder, they attempted a patent auctioning platform, which is typically a venue for trolls to grab ‘orphaned’ patents to be ‘monetised’ (by blackmail). There’s even this patent titled “Process and apparatus for conducting auctions over electronic networks” which cites US5774880A and US5905974A from Cantor Fitzgerald (source: USPTO).

Here’s what Lloyd wrote:

Andy Ramer, who was one of the driving forces behind the Ocean Tomo patent auctions in the 2000s, has left Cantor Fitzgerald after a little over four years at the investment giant, where he was managing director of the IP group. Ramer is not moving to another position, though IAM understands he is keen to remain in the IP sector. Given the strong entrepreneurial streak he has demonstrated over a number of years, it would not be a surprise if he started his own business. Ramer joined Cantor Fitzgerald in 2013, initially focusing on launching an auction platform.

These auctions are a terrible thing; it’s how active patent trolls like Dominion Harbor get patents from massive trolls such as Intellectual Ventures. We need to ensure all these Microsoft-connected trolls go out of business and stop blackmailing companies. One step towards that is ensuring that the facilitators, potentially Cantor Fitzgerald too, fail miserably or exit this so-called ‘market’. Patents are not a commodity to be traded or sold unless we come to accept the mythology that patents are “property”, “assets”, “rights” etc. (they're actually monopolies and when passed around misuse/abuse becomes likely).

Ramer is no stranger to Microsoft-connected patent trolls. He presented alongside with several of them (e.g. Conversant/MOSAID and Finjan) 4 years ago at the “IP Dealmakers Forum”. Ramer was on the first panel. He was quoted as telling a bunch of patent trolls and troll feeders: “In the old days you were getting deals where big checks were written up front, which huge backends [...] the calculus has changed. [You] spend a lot of money to get to the pot of gold at the end I’m not going to pay very much.”

EPO Hoards Billions of Euros (Taken From the Public), Decreases Quality to Get More Money, Reduces Payments to Staff

Sunday 22nd of April 2018 05:29:17 AM

In Battistelli’s own words (from the last Gazette):

Summary: The EPO continues to collect money from everyone, distributes bogus/dubious patents that usher patent trolls into Europe (to cost European businesses billions in the long run), and staff of the EPO faces more cuts while EPO management swims in cash and perks

SEVERAL months ago EPO insiders complained that the EPO had morphed from a service (monopolised even) into an "investment bank". It’s actually a hefty tax on Europe. It’s a large repository of cash which is often misused (it lacks transparency), e.g. to bribe media, allegedly ‘buy’ votes, SLAPP bloggers, corrupt academia and generally serve as the private cash cow of few top-level officials. It’s just so ripe for corruption. Some of Battistelli’s own loyalists have been put in charge of the budget — clearly a recipe for disaster after Battistelli abolished auditory functions.

“And where does all that money end up other than Battistelli’s town, penthouse, platoon of private bodyguards, bonuses and so on?”The EPO does not lack money; it’s taxing the public and it has virtually no competition in Europe. But what it ‘delivers’, namely patents, can cost the public many billions (lawsuits, i.e. legal fees). If the economists at the EPO weren’t Battistelli loyalists, maybe they’d speak out about this again. The former Chief Economist of the EPO warned that Battistelli’s implicit policy of lowering patent quality (for the sake of quantity) would bring patent trolls to Europe — something which is already happening. It’s like printing/minting far too much money; it’s economically absurd to do so.

“It’s like printing/minting far too much money; it’s economically absurd to do so.”It’s with that in mind that we share or express great concern*. And where does all that money end up other than Battistelli's town, penthouse, platoon of private bodyguards, bonuses and so on? It certainly looks like EPO staff, i.e. people who actually do all the work, faces cuts. Battistelli receives over half a million euros in yet another bonus, whereas examiners need to accept cuts?

There are, according to staff representatives, only 3 days left to appeal some of these cuts. “Defend your NPS/SSP rights,” the representatives urged, “by 25 April” (that’s Wednesday).

Citing the relevant PDFs [1, 2, 3] and this editable form, they warn that “[a]mended contribution rates to the NPS / SSP harm staff recruited after 2009″ and add:

The President has amended the contribution rates to the NPS and to the SSP several times since 2009. The last amendment has taken place with effect from 1 January 2018, on the basis of an actuarial study (CA/61/17) and the Office comments (CA/62/17).

With CA/D 11/17, the Administrative Council modified Article 41(1) of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) and set the contribution rate of the employees to 9.8%. With Circular 389 replacing Circular 349, the global contribution rate to the NPS and SSP was raised from 29.1% to 29.4%. The contribution rate to the NPS was increased by the President from 22.5% to 24.9% and the contribution rate to the SSP was decreased from 6.6% to 4.5% with effect from 1 January 2018.

The above decisions harm colleagues in the NPS in that especially the contribution rate to the SSP is substantially decreased and therefore the amount paid to the SSP every month into the SSP is substantially lower and will result in a smaller accumulated amount over the years.

There’s still enough time (today is Sunday) to complete that form. It needs “to be filed by 25 April at the latest,” said some internal communication.
____
* Not only are monopolies being granted sparingly; Battistelli strives to expand their scope with the UPC. Who would pay the price? The public of course.

Short: Calling Battistelli’s Town (Where He Works) “Force for Innovation” to Justify the Funneling of EPO Funds to It

Sunday 22nd of April 2018 04:35:23 AM

Some readers of ours deem that to be an act of corruption

Summary: How the EPO‘s management ‘explained’ (or sought to rationalise) to staff its opaque decision to send a multi-million, one-day ceremony to Battistelli’s own theatre only weeks before he leaves

Short: EPO Bribes the Media and Then Brags About the Paid-for Outcome to Staff

Sunday 22nd of April 2018 04:20:10 AM

Summary: The EPO‘s systematic corruption of the media at the expense of EPO stakeholders — not to mention hiring of lawyers to bully media which exposes EPO corruption — in the EPO’s own words (amended by us)

Short: EPO’s “Working Party for Quality” is to Quality What the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” is to Democracy

Sunday 22nd of April 2018 03:53:13 AM

Background: The EPO’s Working Party on Quality is Battistelli’s Own Ministry of Truth

Summary: To maintain the perception (illusion) that the EPO still cares about patent quality — and in order to disseminate this lie to EPO staff — a puff piece with the above heading/photograph was distributed to thousands of examiners in glossy paper form

Short: This Spring’s Message From the EPO’s President (Corrected)

Sunday 22nd of April 2018 03:35:54 AM

Summary: A corrected preface from the Liar in Chief, the EPO‘s notoriously crooked and dishonest President

Short: Highly Misleading and Unscientific Graphics From the EPO for an Illusion of Growth

Sunday 22nd of April 2018 03:06:59 AM

Summary: A look at the brainwash that EPO management is distributing to staff and what’s wrong with it

THE EPO carries on with its propaganda about so-called ‘results’. What’s wrong with the above?

  1. The EPO is running out of work — something the above clearly distracts from
  2. Discounts were given, so the increase in so-called ‘demand’ was artificial and says not much (comparing apples to oranges)
  3. Countries with negatives are altogether omitted (as in past years)
  4. The decline in applications last year isn’t being shown; instead they show the curve as flat (this is intentional) and it constitutes misconduct in science/research

This is part of a pattern. See below.

Related to this:

Short: EPO Explains to Examiners Why They Should and Apparently Can Grant Software Patents (in Spite of EPC)

Sunday 22nd of April 2018 02:47:24 AM

Legal tricks and skirting/avoiding/breaking the law is something Battistelli is renowned for

Summary: Whether it calls it “CII” or “ICT” or “Industry 4.0″ or “4IR”, the EPO’s management continues to grant software patents and attempts to justify this to itself (and to staff)

Links 21/4/2018: Linux 4.9.95, FFmpeg 4.0, OpenBSD Foundation 2018 Fundraising Campaign

Saturday 21st of April 2018 04:09:04 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Best open source help desk software

    The help desk market is crowded and dominated by player like Zendesk, Salesforce and Spiceworks, but there are some solid open source alternatives for smaller businesses with the time and patience.

    A good piece of help desk software should allow any business to log, track and respond to customer support queries across a range of platforms.

    Open source solutions may not be as feature rich or fully formed out of the box, and they won’t look as good as Zendesk or Salesforce, but they give great customisation options and are much more cost effective than closed source solutions.

  • After the First US Transaction, Propy Announces an Open Source Developer Program

    California-based blockchain startup Propy, is bringing the commercial use of blockchain technology to the US. After facilitating the first US Blockchain-based real estate deed in Vermont, Propy announced a new open source Developer Program.

    The idea behind Propy: it allows anyone to buy or sell real estate, anywhere, online. Propy provides an efficient crypto and fiat payment and an immutable record on the blockchain, ensuring that title deeds and property rights will be there forever.

  • Titus, the Netflix container management platform, is now open source

    Titus powers critical aspects of the Netflix business, from video streaming, recommendations and machine learning, big data, content encoding, studio technology, internal engineering tools, and other Netflix workloads. Titus offers a convenient model for managing compute resources, allows developers to maintain just their application artifacts, and provides a consistent developer experience from a developer’s laptop to production by leveraging Netflix container-focused engineering tools.

  • Netflix’s Container Management System Is Now Open Source

    On Thursday Netflix announced it’s made its home grown container management system, Titus, open source.

  • Lumina Networks on delivering open source SDN

    What kinds of companies should consider open source SDN, and what are the associated challenges in using such open source deployments? Lumina Networks has unrivalled expertise in working with customers and partners to deliver implementations, and explains its processes and outlines the benefits of using open source SDN.

  • Cars
    • Open source: sharing patents to speed up innovation

      Adjusting to climate change will require a lot of good ideas. The need to develop more sustainable forms of industry in the decades ahead demands vision and ingenuity. Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, believes he has found a way for companies to share their breakthroughs and speed up innovation.

      Fond of a bold gesture, the carmaker and space privateer announced back in 2014 that Tesla would make its patents on electric vehicle technology freely available, dropping the threat of lawsuits over its intellectual property (IP). Mr Musk argued the removal of pesky legal barriers would help “accelerate the advent of sustainable transport”.
      The stunning move has already had an impact. Toyota has followed Tesla by sharing more than 5,600 patents related to hydrogen fuel cell cars, making them available royalty free. Ford has also decided to allow competitors to use its own electric vehicle-related patents, provided they are willing to pay for licences.

      Could Telsa’s audacious strategy signal a more open approach to patents among leading innovators? And if more major companies should decide to adopt a carefree attitude to IP, what are the risks involved?

    • Autonomous car platform Apollo doesn’t want you to reinvent the wheel

      Open source technologies are solving many of our most pressing problems, in part because the open source model of cooperation, collaboration, and almost endless iteration creates an environment where problems are more readily solved. As the adage goes, “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.”

      However, self-driving vehicle technology is one rapidly growing area that hasn’t been greatly influenced by open source. Most of today’s autonomous vehicles, including those from Volkswagen, BMW, Volvo, Uber, and Google, ride on proprietary technology, as companies seek to be the first to deliver a successful solution. That changed recently with the launch of Baidu’s Apollo.

    • Luxoft launches PELUX 1.0 open source platform for automotive

      Luxoft’s automotive division has launched PELUX 1.0, an open source platform available to developers. This has been developed from its PELUX software suite as used by carmakers and tier 1 suppliers to build converged infotainment, autonomous driving, communication, HMI and car body control systems.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla’s large repository of voice data will shape the future of machine learning

        Mozilla’s open source project, Common Voice, is well on its way to becoming the world’s largest repository of human voice data to be used for machine learning. Common Voice recently made its way into Black Duck’s annual Open Source Rookies of the Year list.

        What’s special about Common Voice is in the details. Every language is spoken differently—with a wide variation of speech patterns, accents, and intonations—throughout the world. A smart speech recognition engine—that has applications over many Internet of Things (IoT) devices and digital accessibility—can recognize speech samples from a diverse group of people only when it learns from a large number of samples. A speech database of recorded speech from people across geographies helps make this ambitious machine learning possible.

      • Building Bold New Worlds With Virtual Reality

        From rich text to video to podcasts, the Internet era offers an array of new ways for creators to build worlds. Here at Mozilla, we are particularly excited about virtual reality. Imagine moving beyond watching or listening to a story; imagine also feeling that story. Imagine being inside it with your entire mind and body. Now imagine sharing and entering that experience with something as simple as a web URL. That’s the potential before us.

      • This Week in Mixed Reality: Issue 3

        This week we’re heads down focusing on adding features in the three broad areas of Browsers, Social and the Content Ecosystem.

      • New to me: the Taskcluster team

        At this time last year, I had just moved on from Release Engineering to start managing the Sheriffs and the Developer Workflow teams. Shortly after the release of Firefox Quantum, I also inherited the Taskcluster team. The next few months were *ridiculously* busy as I tried to juggle the management responsibilities of three largely disparate groups.

      • Taskcluster migration update: we’re finished!

        Over the past few weeks we’ve hit a few major milestones in our project to migrate all of Firefox’s CI and release automation to taskcluster.

        Firefox 60 and higher are now 100% on taskcluster!

  • Databases
    • How open source databases are sucking revenue out of legacy vendors’ pockets

      In other words, the value of the open source database market to customers/users is measured in the tens of billions, or even hundreds of billions, of dollars. One other way of thinking about this? That’s tens or hundreds of billions of dollars that proprietary vendors will never capture.

    • Has the time finally come for PostgreSQL?

      For nearly 30 years, PostgreSQL (a.k.a., Postgres) has arguably been the most common SQL open source database that you have never heard of. Call it the Zelig of databases, its technology either sat behind or acted as the starting point behind an array of nearly a dozen commercial database offerings from EnterpriseDB to Redshift, Greenplum, Netezza, CockroachDB and a host of others. And PostgreSQL has distinguished lineage as one of the brainchilds of Turing Award winner and database legend Dr. Michael Stonebraker, who started the PostgreSQL project based on the lessons learned from his previous database venture, Ingres.

    • Dev Preview: MongoDB Enterprise Running on OpenShift

      In order to compete and get products to market rapidly, enterprises today leverage cloud-ready and cloud-enabled technologies. Platforms as a Service (or PaaS) provide out-of-the-box capabilities which enable application developers to focus on their business logic and users instead of infrastructure and interoperability. This key ability separates successful projects from those which drown themselves in tangential work which never stops.

      In this blog post, we’ll cover MongoDB’s general PaaS and cloud enablement strategy as well as touch upon some new features of Red Hat’s OpenShift which enable you to run production-ready MongoDB clusters. We’re also excited to announce the developer preview of MongoDB Enterprise Server running on OpenShift. This preview allows you to test out how your applications will interact with MongoDB running on OpenShift.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.1 Lands Mid August 2018, First Bug Hunting Session Starts April 27

      Work on the next big release of the widely-used open-source and cross-platform office suite for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows operating systems, LibreOffice 6.1, has already begun this week with a focus on revamping the online experience and improving the Writer and Calc components.

      A first bug hunting session was scheduled for the end of next week, on April 27, 2018, when developers will hack on the first alpha milestone of LibreOffice 6.1, which should be available to download for all supported platforms a few days before the event. During the bug hunting session, devs will try to fix as many bugs as possible.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
  • Public Services/Government
    • IRS Website Crash Reminder of HealthCare.gov Debacle as OMB Pushes Open Source

      OMB is increasingly pushing agencies to adopt open source solutions, and in 2016 launched a pilot project requiring at least 20 percent of custom developed code to be released as open source – partly to strengthen and help maintain it by tapping a community of developers. OMB memo M-16-21 further asks agencies to make any code they develop available throughout the federal government in order to encourage its reuse.

      “Open source solutions give agencies access to a broad community of developers and the latest advancements in technology, which can help alleviate the issues of stagnated or out-dated systems while increasing flexibility as agency missions evolve over time,” says Henry Sowell, chief information security officer at Hortonworks Federal. “Enterprise open source also allows government agencies to reduce the risk of vendor lock-in and the vulnerabilities of un-supported software,” he adds.

  • Programming/Development
    • Writing Chuck – Joke As A Service

      Recently I really got interested to learn Go, and to be honest I found it to be a beautiful language. I personally feel that it has that performance boost factor from a static language background and easy prototype and get things done philosophy from dynamic language background.

      The real inspiration to learn Go was these amazing number of tools written and the ease with which these tools perform although they seem to be quite heavy. One of the good examples is Docker. So I thought I would write some utility for fun, I have been using fortune, this is a Linux utility which gives random quotes from a database. I thought let me write something similar but let me do something with jokes, keeping this mind I was actually searching for what can I do and I landed up on jokes about Chuck Norris or as we say it facts about him. I landed up on chucknorris.io they have an API which can return different jokes about Chuck, and there it was my opportunity to put something up and I chose Go for it.

    • Migrations: the sole scalable fix to tech debt.

      Migrations are both essential and frustratingly frequent as your codebase ages and your business grows: most tools and processes only support about one order of magnitude of growth before becoming ineffective, so rapid growth makes them a way of life. This isn’t because they’re bad processes or poor tools, quite the opposite: the fact that something stops working at significantly increased scale is a sign that it was designed appropriately to the previous constraints rather than being over designed.

    • Gui development is broken

      Why is this so hard? I just want low-level access to write a simple graphical interface in a somewhat obscure language.

Leftovers
  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Why prosecuting Indian pharma patents could be even more difficult than it appears [Ed: Today IAM is once again complaining about India's patent policy because it's too rational, not good enough for the patent 'industry']

      A study released this month sheds new light on the Indian Patent Office’s (IPO’s) application of Section 3(d) of the country’s Patents Act – a controversial section intended to circumscribe the issue of ‘secondary’ rights for pharmaceuticals products. It finds not only that Section 3(d) objections by the patent office have increased markedly over time, but that the provision has been widely invoked against ‘primary’ patent applications to protect new drugs.

    • ‘People Have to Strengthen the Laws Protecting the Water’

      It is impossible, really, not to connect two recent pieces of news: Residents of Flint, Michigan, have been told that the state that poisoned their drinking water will no longer provide them free bottled water. They’ll be going back to paying some of the highest prices in the country, some $200 a month, for water that may still be making them sick. The Washington Post reports at least 12,000 homes in Flint still waiting for replacement of lead pipes.

      At the same time, Michigan approved a permit letting the Nestlé Corporation pump more fresh water out of a well in the Great Lakes Basin to bottle and sell at a profit, more than half a million gallons a day, the right to which will cost Nestlé…wait for it…around $200 a year. And that won’t increase, although the amount of water they are taking will—by 60 percent.

      This is, in fact, how water rights work in this country, but if it feels wrong to you, you are far from alone. What can be and what is being done? Joining us now to discuss this critical story is Peggy Case. She’s president of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation. She joins us now by phone from near Traverse City. Welcome to CounterSpin, Peggy Case.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Friday
    • IBM Security launches open-source AI

      IBM Security unveiled an open-source toolkit at RSA 2018 that will allow the cyber community to test their AI-based security defenses against a strong and complex opponent in order to help build resilience and dependability into their systems.

    • Elytron: A New Security Framework in WildFly/JBoss EAP

      Elytron is a new security framework that ships with WildFly version 10 and Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) 7.1. This project is a complete replacement of PicketBox and JAAS. Elytron is a single security framework that will be usable for securing management access to the server and for securing applications deployed in WildFly. You can still use the legacy security framework, which is PicketBox, but it is a deprecated module; hence, there is no guarantee that PicketBox will be included in future releases of WildFly. In this article, we will explore the components of Elytron and how to configure them in Wildfly.

    • PodCTL #32 – Container Vulnerability Scanning
    • Twitter banned Kaspersky Lab from advertising in Jan

      Twitter has banned advertising from Russian security vendor Kaspersky Lab since January, the head of the firm, Eugene Kaspersky, has disclosed.

    • When you go to a security conference, and its mobile app leaks your data

      A mobile application built by a third party for the RSA security conference in San Francisco this week was found to have a few security issues of its own—including hard-coded security keys and passwords that allowed a researcher to extract the conference’s attendee list. The conference organizers acknowledged the vulnerability on Twitter, but they say that only the first and last names of 114 attendees were exposed.

    • The Security Risks of Logging in With Facebook

      In a yet-to-be peer-reviewed study published on Freedom To Tinker, a site hosted by Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, three researchers document how third-party tracking scripts have the capability to scoop up information from Facebook’s login API without users knowing. The tracking scripts documented by Steven Englehardt, Gunes Acar, and Arvind Narayanan represent a small slice of the invisible tracking ecosystem that follows users around the web largely without their knowledge.

    • Facebook Login data hijacked by hidden JavaScript trackers

      If you login to websites through Facebook, we’ve got some bad news: hidden trackers can suck up more of your data than you’d intended to give away, potentially opening it up to abuse.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Two years’ detention for UK teenager who ‘cyberterrorised’ US officials [iophk: so in other words the kid was not at fault but is punished anyway"]

      He impersonated his victims and tricked call centres at communications firms Comcast and Verizon into divulging confidential information.

    • Two years for teen ‘cyber terrorist’ who targeted US officials
    • Teen Who Hacked Ex-CIA Director John Brennan Gets Sentenced to 2 Years of Prison

      A teenage hacker who rose to fame for hacking into the online accounts of former CIA director John Brennan, former director of intelligence James Clapper, and other high-profile US government employees, got sentenced to two years of prison on Friday.

      For a few months in late 2015 and early 2016, Kane Gamble, who went by the alias Cracka at the time, was the alleged 15-year-old leader of a hacking group calling themselves Crackas With Attitude or CWA. The group targeted and broke into Brennan’s AOL email account, Clapper’s internet provider account, and others, including a White House official.

    • Spy kids: Schoolboy gathered intel pretending to be head of CIA

      An 18-year-old Briton has pleaded guilty at his trial to ten offences under the computer misuse act. As reported by Telegraph, the then 15-year-old Kane #Gamble received access to secret information about US reconnaissance operations in Afghanistan and Iran while to trying to hack computers of former #CIA head John Brennan and several other high-ranking US officials. The computer-savvy teen, who founded in 2015 his own online hacking team, Crackas With Attitude (CWA), is currently on conditional bail and will be sentenced by Mr Justice Haddon-Cave at the Old Bailey. Pretending at one point to be no less than the acting head on CIA, Gamble is accused of gaining unauthorised access to details of intelligence operations planned in Afghanistan and Iran.

    • ‘Worthy’ and ‘Unworthy’ Victims

      In their book Manufacturing Consent Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky distinguished between two kinds of victims: the worthy victims and the unworthy victims. The “worthy victims” are the victims (real and alleged) of leaders on the U.S. enemies list, such as Bashar al-Assad. The “unworthy victims” are those of the U.S. and its client states, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia.

    • Greg Shupak on Syrian Airstrikes

      The United States military is, at any given moment, visiting lethal violence on human beings—with families, and hopes and dreams—in a range of countries around the world.

    • Media Support US Violence Against Syria, but Long for More

      In The Atlantic (4/14/18), Thanassis Cambanis described the war crime as “undoubtedly a good thing,” and called for “sustained attention and investment, of diplomatic, economic and military resources”—though the latter rubbed up against his assessment in the same paragraph that “a major regional war will only make things worse.” Moreover, he described “the most realistic possibility” for the US and its partners in Syria as “an incomplete and possibly destabilizing policy of confrontation [and] containment. But a reckoning can’t be deferred forever.”

      This “reckoning” was his somewhat oblique way of referring to a war pitting the US and its allies against the Syrian government and its allies, the very “wider regional war” he just warned against. In Cambanis’ view, “confrontations” between nuclear-armed America and nuclear-armed Russia are “inevitable,” which implies that there is no sense in trying to avoid such potentially apocalyptic scenarios.

      A Washington Post editorial (4/14/18) said that “Mr. Trump was right to order the strikes.” The paper was glad that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and President Donald Trump “properly left open the possibility of further action.” The Post’s rationale for continuing to attack Syria was that “the challenge to vital US interests in Syria is far from over,” and that Trump was therefore wrong “to call Friday’s operation a ‘Mission Accomplished.’” These “interests” include ensuring that Iran does not “obtain the land corridor it seeks across Syria.” (Cambanis, similarly, described as “justified” US efforts to “contain Syria and its allies.”)

    • Trump Admin Aims to Expand Sale of Armed Drones Globally

      The Trump administration also announced Thursday a new policy aimed at expanding the sale of armed drones, particularly the large armed drones such as the Predator and the Reaper. Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro said the policy change will allow U.S. weapons companies to increase their direct sales of armed drones to so-called authorized allies and partners. This comes as a new report from the Security Assistance Monitor revealed that Trump approved an unprecedented $82 billion in arms sales during his first year in office.

    • Trump Administration Seeks to Expand Sales of Armed Drones
    • The Secret Daniel Ellsberg Really Worries About

      The author and former military analyst tells The Nation that it’s still US policy to launch a first-strike nuclear attack.

    • Hard as well as soft power: the case for modern defence

      In practice this will mean taking our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to the next level, hoovering up information from beneath the waves, from space, from across the increasingly important electro-magnetic spectrum finding out what our enemies are doing in high-definition and providing artificial intelligence – enabling analysis that can stay ahead in a fast-moving world

      It will mean accelerating the development of our innovative 77 Brigade – those reservists and regulars who give us the ability to win the information war – so we create and counter the narratives so central to modern conflict

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Jennifer Robinson: the free-speech champion who stuck by Julian Assange

      When the lawyer Jennifer Robinson first met Julian Assange, the most famous prisoner in the world not actually to be in prison, he was, she says, just “a guy with a backpack”. By that summer of 2010, the WikiLeaks founder had tossed some grenades into the public domain – a leaked report on toxic-waste dumping; Guantanamo Bay torture manuals – but Cablegate, the explosive release of 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables, still lay a little ahead. Nevertheless, the human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson smelt trouble, and called Robinson, with whom he’d worked in her capacity as a lawyer at a central London practice, and asked her to be prepared. The three of them, Assange, Robinson and he, were, after all, Australians.

    • WikiLeaks Shop Reports Suspension Of Coinbase Account Due To Terms Of Service Violation

      WikiLeaks Shop, the merchandise arm of international anonymous publishing non profit WikiLeaks, reported on Twitter Friday, April 20, that their account with crypto wallet and exchange Coinbase has been blocked.

    • WikiLeaks calls for Coinbase boycott after ban from cryptocurrency exchange

      WikiLeaks is calling for a global blockade of one of the world’s largest exchanges for crypto-trading, Coinbase, after the company banned the WikiLeaks Shop from its platform “without explanation.”

      The whistleblowing organization claims the cryptocurrency payments processor is responding to a “concealed influence,” and is urging members of the digital currency community to boycott it.

    • How Shoddy Reporting and Anti-Russian Propaganda Coerced Ecuador to Silence Julian Assange

      JULIAN ASSANGE HAS BEEN barred from communicating with the outside world for more than three weeks. On March 27, the Government of Ecuador blocked Assange’s internet access and barred him from receiving visitors other than his lawyers. Assange has been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, when Ecuador granted him asylum due to fears that his extradition to Sweden as part of a sexual assault investigation would result in his being sent to the U.S. for prosecution for his work with WikiLeaks. In January of this year, Assange formally became a citizen of Ecuador.

      As a result of Ecuador’s recent actions, Assange – long a prolific commentator on political debates around the world – has been silenced for more than three weeks, by a country which originally granted him political asylum and of which he is now a citizen. While Ecuador was willing to defy western dictates to hand over Assange under the presidency of Rafael Correa – who was fiercely protective of Ecuadorian sovereignty even if it meant disobeying western powers – his successor, Lenín Moreno, has proven himself far more subservient, and that mentality – along with Moreno’s increasingly bitter feud with Correa – are major factors in the Ecuadorian government’s newly hostile treatment of Assange.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Canary in the Coal Pond

      New reports provide an unprecedented look at contaminants leaking from coal ash ponds and landfills. But the chasm between information and environmental protection may deepen thanks to a proposed Trump administration rollback.

  • Finance
    • Qualcomm to Cut 1,500 Jobs in California, State Filings Show

      Qualcomm Inc. will cut 1,500 jobs in California, the majority at the chipmaker’s San Diego headquarters, according to documents filed with the state.

      Some 1,231 positions will be eliminated in San Diego with terminations starting about June 19, the company said in a WARN, or Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, notice. Companies are required to make such a state filing when they reduce their workforce by 50 or more employees within a 30-day period. At the same time, about 269 workers will lose their jobs at the company’s Santa Clara and San Jose locations.

    • Qualcomm May Be Collateral Damage in a U.S.-China Trade War

      A looming trade war between the United States and China has put Qualcomm, one of America’s largest technology companies, squarely in the middle of the battlefield.

      A major supplier in both China and the United States, the San Diego-based chip maker has long managed to play the trading relationship between the world’s two largest economies to its advantage. But an escalating trade battle over which country will dominate the technologies of the future is now threatening Qualcomm’s business and its growth.

    • Video: How IBM Is Quietly Pushing Out Aging Workers

      Last month, we reported that over the past five years, IBM has targeted its older U.S. employees for layoffs. The numbers are staggering: Since 2013, we estimated IBM eliminated more than 20,000 American employees ages 40 and over. We’ve collected the stories of over 1,400 former IBM employees and learned about their experiences during these job cuts. So exactly how does one of the country’s largest tech giants quietly push out this many older workers? Don’t we have laws to protect people at the end of their careers?

      Watch the video above to find out about how IBM — a longtime leader in employment practices — went from dream employer in the 1980s to what it has become in recent years.

    • Wells Fargo to Be Hit with $1 Billion Fine over Financial Crimes

      Wall Street giant Wells Fargo is expected to be hit with a $1 billion fine imposed by federal regulators accusing the bank of forcing people to buy auto insurance policies they didn’t need, for improperly charging mortgage holders and for other financial crimes. Despite being hit by a series of high-profile scandals and fines in recent years, Wells Fargo continues to reap billions of dollars a year in profits—reporting $5.9 billion in earnings in the first three months of this year alone.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • How Facebook is set to overhaul a flawed structure in India

      It is partnering with BOOM, an independent digital journalism initiative certified through the International Fact-Checking Network, for the project. Like India, similar initiatives in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, Indonesia, the Philippines and the US are underway.

    • Journalists sign petition against curbs on media

      More than 50 journalists, including editors and columnists, media persons and media freedom organisation representatives in Pakistan and abroad have signed a petition against curbs on media in the country in recent days.

    • Bad Decisions: Google Screws Over Tools Evading Internet Censorship Regimes

      Just as places like Russia are getting more aggressive with companies like Google and Amazon in seeking to stop online communications they can’t monitor, Google made a move that really fucked over a ton of people who rely on anti-censorship tools. For years, various anti-censorship tools from Tor to GreatFire to Signal have made use of “domain fronting.” That’s a process by which services could get around censorship by effectively appearing to send traffic via large companies’ sites, such as Google’s.

    • Texas Revenge Porn Laws Loses Battle With First Amendment

      Texas attorney Mark Bennett — instrumental in getting an unconstitutional “peeping tom” law tossed in 2014 — has scored another win for the First Amendment by getting an unconstitutional revenge porn law tossed. It’s not that anyone (except revenge porn purveyors) wants to see revenge porn go unchecked. It’s that there’s plenty of laws on the books already to address the problem and those written to target revenge porn tend to do collateral damage to the Constitution.

    • Google App Engine update makes evading state censorship tougher

      For the past number of years, Google’s App Engine has inadvertently permitted developers to evade internet censors. The loophole came in the form of a practice known as ‘domain fronting’, which let services use the Google network to escape state-level online obstacles.

    • Google removes feature that helps avoid Net censorship

      Google has thrown a spanner into the works of developers who have been using domain-fronting in the Google App Engine to avoid Internet censorship by using Google’s network.

    • Google disallows domain fronting, evading censorship becomes difficult
    • Google Stops Helping Services Avoid Censorship Via Domain Fronting
    • Google updates App Engine but kills anti-censorship feature

      The update in Google’s network architecture was first spotted by developers of privacy-minded web browser Tor. It removes an approach that services like encrypted messaging platform Signal, anti-Chinese censorship tool GreatFire.org, and VPN services offered by Psiphon depended upon.

    • How Twitter Suspended The Account Of One Of Our Commenters… For Offending Himself?

      If you spend any time at all in Techdirt’s comments, you should be familiar with That Anonymous Coward. He’s a prolific and regular commenter (with strong opinions). He also spends a lot of time on Twitter. Well, at least until a week or so ago when Twitter suspended his account. It’s no secret that Twitter has been getting a lot of pressure from people to be more proactive in shutting down and cutting off certain accounts. There are even a bunch of people who claim that Twitter should suspend the President’s account — though we think that would be a really bad idea.

      As we’ve pointed out in the past, people who demand that sites shut down and suspend accounts often don’t realize how difficult it is to do this at scale and not fuck up over and over again. Indeed, we have plenty of stories about sites having trouble figuring out what content is really problematic. Indeed, frequently these stories show that the targets of trolls and abusers are the ones who end up suspended.

      You can read TAC’s open letter to Jack Dorsey, which also includes an account of what happened. In short, over a year ago, TAC responded to something Ken “Popehat” White had tweeted, and referred to himself — a gay man — as “a faggot.” Obviously, many people consider this word offensive. But it’s quite obvious from how it was used here that this was a situation of someone using the word to refer to himself and to reclaim the slur.

    • Sex Workers Set Up Their Own Social Network In Response To FOSTA/SESTA; And Now It’s Been Shut Down Due To FOSTA/SESTA

      Just a few weeks ago we wrote about how a group of sex workers, in response to the passing of FOSTA/SESTA, had set up their own social network, called Switter, which was a Mastodon instance. As we noted in our post, doing so was unlikely to solve any of the problems of FOSTA/SESTA, because it’s perhaps even more likely that Switter itself would become a target of FOSTA/SESTA (remember, with FOSTA, the targeting goes beyond “sex trafficking” to all prostitution).

      And, indeed, it appears I was not the only one to think so. The organization that created Switter, Assembly Four, put up a note saying that Cloudflare had shut down Switter claiming the site was in violation of its terms of service.

    • Cloudflare and FOSTA/SESTA

      Switter went offline at around 5 AM, April 18 UTC+10 due to Cloudflare removing and blocking the switter.at zone. We received an email from their Legal Department that reads:

    • Cloudflare Kicks Out Torrent Site For Abuse Reporting Interference

      Cloudflare has terminated its services to the anime torrent site NYAA.si. According to Cloudflare, the pirate site tried to interfere with and thwart the operation of the company’s abuse reporting systems. The site’s operator, however, says he’s not aware of any wrongdoing.

    • Networking site for sex workers goes dark amid fears of internet censorship

      A social networking website for sex workers has been temporarily shut down in response to a new United States law meant to combat online sex trafficking, reigniting concerns raised by the tech sector that the legislation will stifle speech on the internet.

      Switter, pitched as “a Twitter-like platform for Sex Workers,” was founded in late March by a group of sex workers in Australia, where prostitution is legal countrywide and even regulated in some states.

      In its single month of operation, Switter amassed nearly 48,000 users across the world. “It’s notable, because it’s created by sex workers, for sex workers, and the people who created it work out of countries where sex work is not criminalized,” Liara Roux, an adult film producer and activist who used the site, tells ConsumerAffairs in a prepared statement.

    • Michael Cohen Drops Ridiculous Lawsuit Against Buzzfeed After Buzzfeed Sought Stormy Daniels’ Details

      Donald Trump’s long time lawyer, Michael Cohen has been in a bit of hot water of late. As you no doubt heard, the FBI raided Cohen’s office and home seeking a bunch of information, some of which related to the $130,000 he paid to adult performer Stormy Daniels. Already there have been a few court appearances in which Cohen (and Donald Trump) have sought to suppress some of what’s been seized, but that doesn’t seem to be going too well. At the same time, Cohen is still fighting Daniels in court, which also doesn’t seem to be going too well.

      Given all of that, it’s not too surprising that Cohen has decided to dismiss his ridiculous lawsuit against Buzzfeed for publishing the Christopher Steele dossier. As we pointed out, that lawsuit was going nowhere, because it sought to hold Buzzfeed liable for content created by someone else (oh, and that leaves out that much of what Cohen claimed was defamatory may actually have been true.

    • Cohen drops libel suits against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS

      Embattled attorney Michael Cohen has dropped a pair of much-touted libel suits against BuzzFeed and the private investigation firm Fusion GPS over publication of the so-called dossier detailing alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia.

      Cohen abandoned the suits late Wednesday as he continues to fight to recover documents and electronic files seized from his home, office and hotel room last week by federal authorities as part of what appears to be a broad criminal investigation into his conduct.

    • FOSTA/SESTA Passed Thanks To Facebook’s Vocal Support; New Article Suggests Facebook Is Violating FOSTA/SESTA

      One of the main reasons FOSTA/SESTA is now law is because of Facebook’s vocal support for the bill. Sheryl Sandberg repeatedly spoke out in favor of the bill, misrepresenting what the bill actually did. In our own post-mortem on what happened with FOSTA/SESTA we noted that a big part of the problem was that many people inside Facebook (incredibly) did not appear to understand how CDA 230 works, and thus misunderstood how FOSTA/SESTA would create all sorts of problems. Last month, we noted that there was some evidence to suggest that Facebook itself was violating the law it supported.

      However, a new article from Buzzfeed presents even more evidence of just how much liability Facebook may have put on itself in supporting the law. The article is fairly incredible, talking about how Facebook has allowed a group on its site that helps landlords seek out gay sex in exchange for housing — and the report is chilling in how far it goes. In some cases, it certainly appears to reach the level of sex trafficking, where those desperate for housing basically become sex slaves to their landlords.

    • Nicaragua: Government Repression and Censorship in Response to Protests

      The government of Commander Daniel Ortega responded to the protests over reforms to the Nicaraguan Institute of Social Security (INSS) with repression and aggressions against university students and journalists from national and international media.

      The government also ordered the censorship of independent television channels on the cable television signal.

      The motive of the protests is the decree to increase contributions of employees and employers to Social Security, impose a 5% tax on those already retired and lower future pensions, among other measures.

    • What’s the ‘dirty secret’ of Western academics who self-censor work on China?

      Australian academic James Leibold was looking forward to having his work published in a special edition of The China Quarterly. His study of the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative on ethnic minorities in China had taken him two long years, but he was confident his paper – which argued state surveillance in Xinjiang was at odds with the aims of Beijing’s trade initiative – was finally ready for public consumption.

      But then Leibold found two fellow academics from European universities had suddenly had second thoughts about publishing their work alongside his. A discussion ensued and collectively they decided about a month ago not to submit any of their papers. Leibold’s piece would have to wait. “We had a long conversation. They were concerned they wouldn’t be granted visas to China. It was self-censorship,” said Leibold of La Trobe University. “It’s regrettable this happened.”

      [...]

      For instance, no one from the Chinese government had warned Leibold or his colleagues against publishing their papers. But a combination of factors, including knowledge of other scholars who had been denied Chinese visas and a previous order from Beijing that the Quarterly block articles on sensitive subjects such as the Tiananmen crackdown, helped to convince Leibold’s colleagues it was better to keep their heads down.

      And their experience is far from unique. Leibold said some researchers in Chinese universities had withdrawn from joint projects with foreign institutions after being warned by authorities that their projects were being monitored. He said some Western academics had become “spooked” during trips to the country when they were stopped by Chinese security agents and asked about their studies. In one case, he said, an academic was told to give the agents a copy of his doctoral dissertation.

    • #IamGay backlash a rare win for China’s LGBT community, but challenges remain
    • Baranyai: Chinese censors lose battle to scrub away gay
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • We’re in the Uncanny Valley of Targeted Advertising

      Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, thinks people want targeted advertising. The “overwhelming feedback,” he said multiple times during his congressional testimony, was that people want to see “good and relevant” ads. Why then are so many Facebook users, including leaders of state in the U.S. Senate and House, so fed up and creeped out by the uncannily on-the-nose ads? Targeted advertising on Facebook has gotten to the point that it’s so “good,” it’s bad—for users, who feel surveilled by the platform, and for Facebook, who is rapidly losing its users’ trust. But there’s a solution, which Facebook must prioritize: stop collecting data from users without their knowledge or explicit, affirmative consent.

      It should never be the user’s responsibility to have to guess what’s happening behind the curtain.

      Right now, most users don’t have a clear understanding of all the types of data that Facebook collects or how it’s analyzed and used for targeting (or for anything else). While the company has heaps of information about its users to comb through, if you as a user want to know why you’re being targeted for an ad, for example, you’re mostly out of luck. Sure, there’s a “why was I shown this” option on an individual ad”, but each generally reveals only bland categories like “Over 18 and living in California”—and to get an even semi-accurate picture of all the ways you can be targeted, you’d have to click through various sections, one at a time, on your “Ad Preferences” page.

    • Minnesota Supreme Court Ruling Will Help Shed Light on Police Use of Biometric Technology

      A decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday will help the public learn more about how law enforcement use of privacy invasive biometric technology.

      The decision in Webster v. Hennepin County is mostly good news for the requester in the case, who sought the public records as part of a 2015 EFF and MuckRock campaign to track mobile biometric technology use by law enforcement across the country. EFF filed a brief in support of Tony Webster, arguing that the public needed to know more about how officials use these technologies.

      Across the country, law enforcement agencies have been adopting technologies that allow cops to identify subjects by matching their distinguishing physical characteristics to giant repositories of biometric data. This could include images of faces, fingerprints, irises, or even tattoos. In many cases, police use mobile devices in the field to scan and identify people during stops. However, police may also use this technology when a subject isn’t present, such as grabbing images from social media, CCTV, or even lifting biological traces from seats or drinking glasses.

      Webster’s request to Hennepin County officials sought a variety of records, and included a request for the agencies to search officials’ email messages for keywords related to biometric technology, such as “face recognition” and “iris scan.”

    • How an Irish Court Ruling Could Affect U.S. Spying

      The decision sets the stage for a showdown between tech firms and the government on NSA surveillance.

      Amidst all of the coverage of Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony last week, you may have missed another consequential headline for Facebook — and for everyone who uses the internet.

      An Irish court ruled that U.S. surveillance programs result in the “mass indiscriminate” processing of Europeans’ private data, and it expressed serious concerns about the lack of legal remedies for this surveillance. If the European Union’s highest court agrees, it may limit the ability of companies to easily move data from the EU into the U.S. In other words, NSA spying could have a major impact on the profits of Facebook and other Silicon Valley giants.

      One of the central issues in the case, known as the Schrems litigation, is whether the breathtaking scope of NSA surveillance violates users’ rights. That’s because under European law, companies face restrictions on transferring data to countries with weaker privacy rules. To address those restrictions, in the 1990s, the EU and the United States negotiated an agreement known as “Safe Harbor,” which allowed companies doing business in the EU to transfer data to the U.S. based on the principle that the U.S. ensures an “adequate” level of protection for that information.

      [...]

      However, as I explained in expert testimony for Schrems, those claims are completely divorced from reality.

      When people’s data is transferred from Europe, it is vulnerable to warrantless mass surveillance by the NSA and other agencies under two broad spying authorities: Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Executive Order 12,333. The U.S. can target law-abiding Europeans under programs such as PRISM, which pulls information from American tech firms, and Upstream, which grabs communications directly from the internet’s physical infrastructure as they’re in transit. And in practice there are few, if any, effective remedies because the U.S. government almost never officially notifies the millions of people it subjects to this spying. Without notice, it is extremely difficult to challenge this surveillance in court.

      In light of these facts, the Irish court rejected several of Facebook’s arguments. It ruled that the U.S. government engages in mass surveillance and found that people subject to U.S. surveillance do not receive notice. In addition, it concluded that concerns about the lack of remedies are “well-founded.”

    • Ex-CEO of Cambridge Analytica Refuses to Testify in U.K.
    • Cambridge Analytica ex-CEO refuses to testify in UK

      Alexander Nix has refused to testify before the U.K. Parliament’s media committee, even though the committee’s chairman has said there was no legal reason for Nix to not appear before it.

    • Facebook Privacy Fiasco Sees Congress Urged on Anti-Piracy Action

      Coalitions representing more than 670 companies and 240,000 members from the entertainment sector has written to Congress urging a strong response to the Facebook privacy fiasco. The groups, which include all the major Hollywood studios and key players from the music industry, are calling for Silicon Valley as a whole to be held accountable for whatever appears on their platforms.

    • Woman rumbled for fraud using her own VPN logs

      “There is no such thing as VPN that doesn’t keep logs. If they can limit your connections or track bandwidth usage, they keep logs.”

    • Facebook’s 2017 Privacy Audit Didn’t Catch Cambridge Analytica
    • Facebook will afford EU privacy cover only to 30% of users

      Facebook does not appear to have changed its attitude to user privacy in any way despite all its recent troubles, with the company having decided to avoid providing the protections afforded by the EU General Data Protection Regulation to nearly 70% of its registered users worldwide.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Chicago’s Gang Database Isn’t Just About Gangs

      That’s one of many questions raised by the huge amounts of data collected and maintained by the Chicago Police Department.

      As I wrote in a column this week, nearly 129,000 people are identified as gang members in what’s commonly known as the department’s “gang database.” The gang data is marred by inconsistencies and mistakes — 13 people in it are listed as 118 years old, for instance, and two others are supposedly 132. The errors can lead to lives being upended by incarceration and deportation.

      “It’s really affecting people in a lot of different ways, and in ways we don’t even know because we don’t know how this information is shared,” said Vanessa del Valle, a clinical assistant law professor at Northwestern University law school’s MacArthur Justice Center.

    • Jacksonville Sheriff Uses Misleading Data to Defend Pedestrian Ticketing

      Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams in recent months has repeatedly defended his department’s enforcement of pedestrian violations. Claims of a racial disparity have been overstated, he has argued. There is no policy targeting people of color, he has insisted. He’s made his case before the City Council. Most recently, Williams had a report supporting his claims hand-delivered to a local NAACP official.

      When making his case, Williams has relied on what he has said is a true accounting of pedestrian ticket data for recent years. That data, he claims, shows that 45 percent of tickets went to blacks. That figure, while greater than the city’s black population, is substantially less than the number reported by the Times-Union and ProPublica in a series of articles late last year. The Times-Union and ProPublica reported that 55 percent of the tickets over the prior five years had been issued to blacks.

    • Natalie Portman Refuses to Go to Israel to Accept Award over “Recent Events”

      In Israel, the organizers for the Genesis Prize, known as Israel’s Nobel Prize, have been forced to cancel the upcoming award ceremony, after the winner of this year’s prize, American-Israeli actress Natalie Portman, said she is refusing to travel to Israel to participate because of her distress over recent events. Portman has won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, and has starred in the new “Star Wars” trilogy, as well as the movies “Black Swan,” “Closer” and “V for Vendetta.” The Genesis Prize comes with a $2 million award. Portman’s decision not to participate in the ceremony comes as the Israeli military is in the midst of a brutal and deadly crackdown against Palestinian protesters in Gaza. Israeli snipers have killed dozens of unarmed Palestinian protesters so far.

    • Natalie Portman Backs Out of Israeli Award Ceremony
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • ISPs should charge for fast lanes—just like TSA Precheck, GOP lawmaker says

      Dividing up online services into those that have paid for TSA Precheck-like priority access and those that haven’t wouldn’t necessarily be appealing to consumers. While TSA Precheck lets travelers zoom through security, everyone else is stuck in a long, slow-moving line and met with frequent obstacles. Comparing paid prioritization to TSA Precheck lends credence to the pro-net neutrality argument that allowing paid fast lanes would necessarily push all other online services into “slow lanes.”

  • DRM
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Female inventors and gender imbalance in patent applications

      Where are the female inventors? Despite the recent fashion for children’s books designed to redress the representation of historical female inventors, according to the Intellectual Property Office, women make up just 7 per cent of UK patent holders.

      Though registrable intellectual property (IP) rights are typically held in the name of a company rather than an individual, explains Tania Clark, partner and trademark attorney at IP firm Withers & Rogers, “inventors are required to be named when filing a patent application and, in these instances, the majority are men”.

    • Chinese companies expanding overseas face plenty of IP risk, but it need not overwhelm them

      For many relatively young firms here in the greater Shenzhen area – China’s Silicon Valley – the IP department is at a relatively embryonic stage. As they invest more resources in intellectual property, they face important questions about how to build up an in-house function. Shirley Chen, the director of intellectual property for Lenovo, advised companies in this situation that there are not necessarily wrong answers when it comes to organisation: “I consider myself quite lucky to have experienced working in an IP team that’s within legal as well as one that’s an R&D unit”.

    • AI will challenge assumptions of patent ownership

      Artificial intelligence (AI) will challenge assumptions of patent ownership and bring about a unique set of issues, according to Mike Schuster, assistant professor at the Oklahoma State University.
      In a recent interview, Schuster said that these issues must be addressed by the US Government soon so that when the time comes, sufficient information and research will be available to make an informed decision.

      AI is already here, and Schuster explained that it has already independently invented jet engines, parts of bullet trains, communication systems and new pharmaceuticals.

      An upcoming paper from Schuster specifically discusses this problem and the variety of types of AI capable of invention.

    • Interview With Dominik Thor, Founder Of IPCHAIN Database

      Distributed ledger technology, commonly called a Blockchain, has recently become a highly popular term in many different industries for its cost-saving and operational risk reducing potential. In this interview with Intellectual Property Watch, Dominik Thor, the founder of IPCHAIN Database, a startup that focuses on IP protection through the use of Blockchain, explains about the ways this new technology can revolutionise the IP sector.

    • Trademarks
      • Advocate general won’t give Kit Kat a break

        Advocate general advises CJEU that Nestlé did not produce sufficient evidence to show that Kit Kat’s three-dimensional shape had acquired distinctive character, in an opinion observers say makes tough task of attaining shape marks even harder

    • Copyrights
      • Glass-Tongued Copyright Troll Thinks Google, Popehat, and Boing Boing Are Engaged In ‘Black Hat Seo’

        After taking a hiatus from issuing bogus DMCA takedowns against this site, self-proclaimed poet “Shaun Shane” is back at it. The harassment of anyone who dares to publish a certain poem of Shane’s — the one about tongues made of glass — is a (possibly) Texas-based cottage industry. The harassment continues to this day, but not much of it is directed at Google. Most of Shane’s “work” is done over at Twitter, where tweets are greeted with takedown requests.

As USPTO Director, Andrei Iancu Gives Three Months for Public Comments on 35 U.S.C. § 101 (Software Patenting Impacted)

Saturday 21st of April 2018 03:36:56 PM

No guarantee that anything will change, but the patent microcosm enthusiastically promotes this perception

Summary: Weeks after starting his job as head of the US patent office, to our regret but not to our surprise, Iancu asks whether to limit examiners’ ability to reject abstract patent applications citing 35 U.S.C. § 101 (relates to Alice and Mayo)

A COUPLE of days ago we carefully took note of sites that had been attacking Michelle Lee (USPTO Director and reformer); they are now pressuring the new Director, Andrei Iancu. Will they get their way at the end? Can they squash Alice and Mayo somehow? Will Iancu let them do it?

“The patent extremists, we might as well add, are nowadays naming and ranking patent examiners by how subservient they are to patent maximalists.”Sites like Watchtoll are keeping the old obsession with him, pushing him towards limiting/removing PTAB, reintroducing software patents etc.

Steve Brachmann (Watchtroll) wrote about him again a couple of days ago, to be followed by another piece about the person who chose him before Trump nominated him. To quote:

Over the last several weeks those in the industry supportive of strong patent rights have been treated to speeches from USPTO Director Andrei Iancu saying all the right things about the patent system. but it is hard to imagine anything more significant than Secretary Ross simply showing up at an event like this.

Citing decisions like Berkheimer, a couple of days ago Gene Quinn (Watchtroll) mentioned potential changes to Section 101 and said: “The deadline for receiving public comments will be 120 days from official publication in the Federal Register, which will take place on Friday, April 20, 2018.”

It didn’t take long for patent maximalists to get all jolly; Iancu is being pressured to be a stooge of patent extremists, who are now boosting Watchtroll in joy and glee.

“So basically, nothing has been finalised.”Even IBM’s patent chief is boosting Watchtroll on this, which says a lot about IBM. It’s a rather trollish and malicious company nowadays. It lobbies for software patents like no other company (not even Microsoft).

The patent extremists, we might as well add, are nowadays naming and ranking patent examiners by how subservient they are to patent maximalists. This is a sort of witch-hunt-type trick. Anticipat did it and now Watchtroll joins the ‘fun’. It’s getting pretty ugly.

For a more balanced coverage, see what IP Watch wrote yesterday:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office today issued a Federal Register notice providing guidance to patent examiners on patent subject matter. The office is seeking public comments on the new guidance.

Here’s the original wording (complete): “The USPTO has issued today a Federal Register notice and memorandum to the patent examining corps in response to a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Berkheimer v. HP Inc., 881 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2018), pertaining to subject matter eligibility. This new guidance pertains to the second step of the Alice-Mayo framework for determining subject matter eligibility, and is focused on how examiners are to analyze and document a conclusion that a claim clement is “well-understood, routine, conventional” during the patent examination process. The USPTO is requesting public comment on the new guidance. This memorandum was issued now in light of the recent decision from the Court of Appeals. The USPTO is determined to continue its mission to provide clear and predictable patent rights in accordance with this rapidly evolving area of the law, and to that end, may issue further guidance in the future.”

So basically, nothing has been finalised. It is a proposal regarding a potentially new guidance (to be in effect). Watchtroll, like the original, names Berkheimer, as it last did yesterday:

As for the memo itself, it indicates that while Berkheimer does not change the basic subject matter eligibility framework set forth in MPEP § 2106, the case does provide clarification for the Alice Step 2B inquiry in that whether something is well-understood, routine, and conventional to a skilled artisan at the time of the patent is a factual determination. “[A]n examiner should conclude that an element (or combination of elements) represents well-understood, routine, conventional activity only when the examiner can readily conclude that the element(s) is widely prevalent or in common use in the relevant industry…[and] such a conclusion must be based upon a factual determination…This memorandum further clarifies that the analysis as to whether an element (or combination of elements) is widely prevalent or in common use is the same as the analysis under 35 U.S.C. § 112(a) as to whether an element is so well-known that it need not be described in detail in the patent specification [emphasis original].”

Richard Lloyd (IAM think tank) wrote: “During his first oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, USPTO Director Andrei Iancu came under growing pressure to issue guidance on how recent changes in jurisprudence on patent eligible subject matter should be applied. Senator Kamala Harris, a recent appointee to the committee, quizzed Iancu on the uncertainty around section 101, particularly as it relates to artificial intelligence. This is an area of growing interest to the tech giants of her home state of California, and Harris asked the new PTO if he could commit to issuing new guidance within 90 days.”

“We expect technology companies (other than IBM) to oppose changes and in fact Josh Landau (CCIA), who represents many such companies, has already responded.”There was also this tweet about it, which said: “Yesterday in the Senate, USPTO director Iancu committed to reporting back on possible changes to 101 guidelines within 90 days, so today’s news is something of a surprise. But eligibility is an issue Iancu has focused on strongly since taking the reins.”

We expect technology companies (other than IBM) to oppose changes and in fact Josh Landau (CCIA), who represents many such companies, has already responded. Two days ago he wrote a rebuttal to the claims made in the oversight hearing:

On Wednesday, April 18, new USPTO Director Andrei Iancu appeared for his first oversight hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Director was more open with the Committee compared to his confirmation process, leading to some interesting discussions.

Algorithms Are Already Patentable

A number of questions focused on the issue of patentable subject matter, also referred to as § 101. As noted by a number of Senators, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data are huge areas of innovation right now. Google’s AI systems (including DeepMind and TensorFlow) have enabled key advances in many areas of machine learning. NVIDIA’s advanced GPU hardware enables faster, more efficient AI technology, and they have their own AI systems that run on top of their hardware. Intel is providing neural network hardware that can learn on its own. These technologies underlie recent advances in areas as diverse as natural language translation, self-driving cars, and medical diagnostics.

Unfortunately, there appeared to be an impression that algorithms aren’t patentable, and Director Iancu could have done more to clarify that that’s anything but the truth. Of course you can patent an algorithm. In fact, claiming a specific algorithm for solving a problem in your patent is one of the most effective ways to make sure that your invention passes § 101; that was the exact rationale in the McRO case. Essentially, you can patent “a specific means or method that improves the relevant technology,” but you can’t patent “a result or effect that itself is the abstract idea and merely invoke generic processes and machinery.” A specific algorithm that solves a technical problem is patentable. But what isn’t patentable is claiming “using artificial intelligence to solve a problem”, any more than “using computers to solve a problem” was found patentable in Alice.

And that shouldn’t concern anyone interested in the future of AI. Alice hasn’t hurt the computer software industry—on the contrary, R&D spending on software and the internet has skyrocketed post-Alice. And the inability to patent “solve it with AI” isn’t going to harm investment in AI.

Real advances in AI are receiving patents every day. [1][2][3][4]. Utility patent 10,000,000 will likely issue this summer, and given the pace of innovation seen every day, there’s a good chance that patent will relate to AI. But what isn’t—and shouldn’t be—patentable is the sort of “do it with AI” patents that can block off whole areas of research and development, the sorts of patents that are favorites of patent trolls. And that’s exactly the situation we have today.

What will happen after 3 months is not known to us (not yet), but we expect groups like the EFF, Engine, CCIA, HTIA and others to remain involved and push back against patent maximalists. We’ll mostly be vigilant observers and report on what is happening, e.g. public submission of comments.

In Keith Raniere v Microsoft Both Sides Are Evil But for Different Reasons

Saturday 21st of April 2018 02:11:19 PM

Cult leader and patent troll

Summary: Billing for patent lawyers reveals an abusive strategy from Microsoft, which responded to abusive patent litigation (something which Microsoft too has done for well over a decade)

THE patent policy at the USPTO is crucial in ensuring patent justice; not everyone can afford a court battle, so a patent grant alone can cause plenty of injustice in the form of extortion rackets (extrajudicial).

“This is about software patents.”Raniere (known for a “a multi-level marketing cult”) is in some headlines again. Mr. Nazer (EFF) said some months ago that the “self-declared genius behind the group, Keith Raniere, is also a patent troll,” citing an old article of ours (Raniere has been mentioned on other occasions since then). Dennis Crouch decided to write about it just before the weekend, revealing the likely bogus costs Microsoft claims to have paid/incurred. To quote Crouch:

Here, those costs add up — $450,000 in attorney fees for the defendants win at the ultra-preliminary stage for lack-of-standing. Let me note – this is ridiculous $450k to win on standing grounds. OMG! Note – the bill submitted was greater, but the Judge reduced it by 20%.

[...]

I would hope that defendants could win that case for less than $450,000.

This is about software patents. As WIPR put it, “Raniere had claimed that the companies had infringed his software patents, US numbers 6,373,936; 6,819,752; 7,215,752; 7,391,856; and 7,844,041.”

Why did the USPTO grant such patents in the first place. But no matter how ugly and abusive Raniere may be, Microsoft is no innocent party either because Microsoft probably made that number up to cushion its greedy/corrupt patent lawyers. No way they should ever charge this much for so little!

As WIPR put it, “AT&T and Microsoft [claimed and got] nearly $450,000 of attorneys’ fees,” but it barely got anywhere at all. To quote:

Keith Raniere, the leader of a self-help group in the US, has been told he must pay telecoms company AT&T and Microsoft nearly $450,000 of attorneys’ fees and costs in a patent dispute.

Yesterday, April 18, a unanimous three-judge panel at US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court’s decision to dismiss the case in 2016 and grant the attorneys’ fees as a sanction for Raniere’s conduct.

[...]

According to the Federal Circuit, Raniere had argued that his conduct was not “sufficiently egregious” to justify imposition of sanctions under the district court’s powers, but this was rejected by the Texas court.

The district court awarded $300,295 to AT&T and $143,719 to Microsoft in attorneys’ fees and costs.

Raniere appealed against the district court’s fee award, but the Federal Circuit concluded that the district court hadn’t erred in finding AT&T and Microsoft to be the prevailing parties and that it didn’t abuse its discretion in awarding attorneys’ fees and costs.

There are several lessons here: first, software patents should not be granted; second, companies like Microsoft make up numbers to enrich themselves or lawyers; third, it’s not hard to see why patent law firms lobby so hard for bad patents (e.g. against PTAB) and for software patents (e.g. against Section 101).

Patent maximalism is a disease. It’s being introduced by patent trolls and lawyers who assume that their existence is necessary for society and lie to themselves about promoting/protecting innovation.

Links 20/4/2018: Atom 1.26, MySQL 8.0

Friday 20th of April 2018 08:55:35 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Calamares Pinebook

      But there is an under-appreciated bit regarding images for an ARM laptop — or pre-installed Linux distro’s in general. And that’s the first-run experience. The Netrunner Pinebook image is delivered so that it boots to the Plasma 5 desktop, no passwords asked, etc. The user is called “live”, the password is “live”, and nothing is personalized. It’s possible, though not particularly secure, to use the laptop this way in a truly disposable fashion. A first-run application helps finalize the configuration of the device by creating a named user, among other things.

      One of the under-documented features of Calamares is that it can operate as a first-run application as well as a system installer. This is called “OEM Mode“, because it’s of greatest interest to OEMs .. but also to distro’s that ship an image for users to flash onto (micro)SD card for use in a device.

  • Server
    • Failure to automate: 3 ways it costs you

      When I ask IT leaders what they see as the biggest benefit to automation, “savings” is often the first word out of their mouths. They’re under pressure to make their departments run as efficiently as possible and see automation as a way to help them do so.

      Cost savings are certainly a benefit of automation, but I’d argue that IT leaders who pursue automation for cost-savings alone are missing the bigger picture of how it can help their businesses.

      The true value of automation doesn’t lie in bringing down expenses, but rather in enabling IT teams to scale their businesses.

    • Docker Enterprise Edition 2.0 Launches With Secured Kubernetes

      After months of development effort, Kubernetes is now fully supported in the stable release of the Docker Enterprise Edition.

      Docker Inc. officially announced Docker EE 2.0 on April 17, adding features that have been in development in the Docker Community Edition (CE) as well as enhanced enterprise grade capabilities. Docker first announced its intention to support Kubernetes in October 2017. With Docker EE 2.0, Docker is providing a secured configuration of Kubernetes for container orchestration.

      “Docker EE 2.0 brings the promise of choice,” Docker Chief Operating Officer Scott Johnston told eWEEK. “We have been investing heavily in security in the last few years, and you’ll see that in our Kubernetes integration as well.”

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.16.3
    • Linux 4.15.18
    • Linux 4.14.35
    • V3D DRM Driver Steps Towards Mainline Kernel, Renamed From VC5

      The Broadcom VC5 driver stack is being renamed to V3D and developer Eric Anholt is looking at merging it into the mainline Linux kernel.

      The VC5 DRM/KMS and Mesa code has been for supporting the next-generation Broadcom VideoCore 5 graphics hardware that’s only now beginning to appear in some devices, well, it seems one device so far. Though as I pointed out a few months back, there’s already “VC6″ activity going on too as the apparent successor to VC5 already being in development.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Azure Sphere Makes Microsoft an Arm Linux Player for IoT [Ed: Microsoft marketing at LF (only runs on/with Windows and Visual Studio etc.)]
      • Keynotes Announced for Automotive Linux Summit & OS Summit Japan [Ed: “Senior Software Engineer, Microsoft” in there; LF has once again let Microsoft infiltrate Linux events; in the words of Microsoft’s chief evangelist, “I’ve killed at least two Mac conferences. […] by injecting Microsoft content into the conference, the conference got shut down. The guy who ran it said, why am I doing this?”]

        Automotive Linux Summit connects those driving innovation in automotive Linux from the developer community with the vendors and users providing and using the code, in order to propel the future of embedded devices in the automotive arena.

      • OPNFV: driving the network towards open source “Tip to Top”

        Heather provides an update on the current status of OPNFV. How is its work continuing and how is it pursuing the overall mission? Heather says much of its work is really ‘devops’ and it’s working on a continuous integration basis with the other open source bodies. That work continues as more bodies join forces with the Linux Foundation. Most recently OPNFV has signed a partnership agreement with the open compute project. Heather says the overall OPNFV objective is to work towards open source ‘Tip to top’ and all built by the community in ‘open source’. “When we started, OPNFV was very VM oriented (virtual machine), but now the open source movement is looking more to cloud native and containerisation as the way forward,” she says. The body has also launched a C-RAN project to ensure that NFV will be ready to underpin 5G networks as they emerge.

    • Benchmarks
      • AMD Ryzen 5 2600X + Ryzen 7 2700X Linux Benchmarks

        The embargo on the Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 7 2700X processors has expired now that these Ryzen+ CPUs are beginning to ship today. We can now talk about the Linux support and the initial performance figures for these upgraded Zen desktop CPUs.

      • 20-Way NVIDIA GeForce / AMD Radeon GPU Comparison For Rise of The Tomb Raider On Vulkan/Linux

        Today Feral Interactive released their much anticipated Linux port of Rise of the Tomb Raider, the game that was released for Windows in January of 2016 and then released for macOS last week. Feral’s Mac port was relying upon the Apple Metal API while the Linux port is now their second game (after F1 2017) exclusively relying upon the Vulkan graphics/compute API rather than OpenGL. This morning I posted the initial Radeon results using the RADV driver while here is the NVIDIA GeForce vs. AMD Radeon graphics card comparison on Ubuntu Linux using twenty different graphics cards.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Applications Open Source Software Suite Gets First Major Release in 2018

        More than four months in the making, the final KDE Applications 18.04 release is finally here, and it already started appearing in the stable software repositories of popular GNU/Linux distributions, such as Arch Linux. It’s KDE Applications’ first major release in 2018 and comes with numerous enhancements and new features.

        Prominent new features in KDE Applications 18.04 include various improvements to the panels, menus, and folder view of the Dolphin file manager, along with the ability to sort and organize images by date, drag-and-drop optimizations, a new keyboard shortcut to open the Filter Bar, and better HiDPI support.

      • KDE Applications 18.04 Brings Dolphin Improvements, JuK Wayland Support

        The KDE community has announced the release today of KDE Applications 18.04 as the first major update to the open-source KDE application set for 2018.

      • Plasma Startup

        Startup is one of the rougher aspects of the Plasma experience and therefore something we’ve put some time into fixing

        [...]

        The most important part of any speed work is correctly analysing it.
        systemd-bootchart is nearly perfect for this job, but it’s filled with a lot of system noise.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Nix This Innovative OS for Its Uninviting Complexity

        I had to keep reminding myself that I was not dealing with an extreme case of Arch Linux instead of GNU/Linux. NixOS is more demanding and definitely not a distro for users with anything less than advanced skills.

        To say NixOS comes with a steep learning curve and lots of hands-on overhead is putting it mildly. If you are a typical Linux user who lacks sysadmin training, avoid NixOS like a malware attack hiding in plain sight.

    • New Releases
      • ExTiX 18.4 – “The Ultimate Linux System” – with LXQt 0.12.0, Refracta Tools, Calamares Installer and kernel 4.16.2-exton – Build 180419

        I have made a new version of ExTiX – The Ultimate Linux System. I call it ExTiX 18.4 LXQt Live DVD. (The previous version was 17.8 from 171012).

      • ExTiX, the Ultimate Linux Operating System, Is Now Based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

        ExTiX is dubbed the “Ultimate Linux System,” and it’s been updated earlier today by developer Arne Exton to version 18.4, based on Canonical’s upcoming Ubuntu 18.04 LTS operating system. However, ExTiX is using the lightweight and modern LXQt 0.12.0 as default desktop environment instead of GNOME, and it’s powered by the latest Linux 4.16.2 kernel.

        “After removing GNOME I have installed LXQt 0.12.0,” said Arne Exton in today’s announcement. “Programs won’t crash or anything like that. And I haven’t discovered any bugs to report. While running ExTiX LXQt 18.4 live or from the hard drive you can use Refracta tools (pre-installed) to create your own live installable Ubuntu system. A ten-year child can do it.”

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • openSUSE Heroes loves Let’s Encrypt™ – Expect certificate exchange

        openSUSE loves Let’s Encrypt™

        Maybe some of you noticed, that our certificate *.opensuse.org on many of services will expire soon (on 2018-04-23).

        As we noticed that – as well – we decided to put a bit of work into this topic and we will use Let’s Encrypt certificates for the encrypted services of the openSUSE community.

        This is just a short notice / announcement for all of you, that we are working on this topic at the moment. We will announce, together with the deployment of the new certificate, the regarding hashes and maybe some further information on our way of implementing things.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Introducing the Vault Operator

        Today, Red Hat is pleased to announce a new open source project, the Vault Operator. In keeping with earlier projects, including the etcd Operator and the Prometheus Operator, the Vault Operator aims to make it easier to install, manage, and maintain instances of Vault – a tool designed for storing, managing, and controlling access to secrets, such as tokens, passwords, certificates, and API keys – on Kubernetes clusters.

        We are supporters of Vault, for important reasons. Authentication is fundamental to modern applications. As application design shifts from monolithic to distributed architectures, the various components of an application must communicate with each other over a network in ways that are designed to be trusted and secure. This typically requires authentication, which in turn requires credentials, or secrets. The problem is that there is no de facto way to centrally locate and manage these secrets.

      • Expanding architectural choices to better arm Red Hat Enterprise Linux developers

        Red Hat Enterprise Linux continues to deliver the best possible experience for enterprise system administrators and developers, as well as provide a solid foundation for moving workloads into both public and private clouds. One of the ways to enable such ubiquity is Red Hat’s multi-architecture initiative, which focuses on bringing Red Hat’s software portfolio to different hardware architectures.

        Last week, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 went live. It brought forward several improvements relevant to developers and system administrators such as advanced GUI system management via the Cockpit console, which should help new Linux administrators, developers, and Windows users to perform expert tasks without having to get into the command line.

      • Altran and Red Hat latest to join 5TONIC 5G Innovation Lab

        Two more companies have joined the specialist 5G mobile research and innovation laboratory in Spain called 5TONIC. Altran and Red Hat are the latest companies to become members of the 5TONIC initiative joining existing companies such as Telefónica, Intel and Ericsson.

        Hosted by its co-founder – research organisation IMDEA Networks Institute – on its campus in Madrid, and chaired by Telefónica, the 5TONIC laboratory has been designed to provide a vehicle for member companies to “co-create” and test breakthrough 5G services and solutions – focused on collaborating with other industries.

      • Surescripts speeds DevOps work with Red Hat Ansible Automation
      • An API Journey: From Idea to Deployment the Agile Way–Part II
      • Moving Production Workloads to OpenShift Online
      • Red Hat Executive Briefing Center named a World Class Center by the Association of Briefing Program Managers
      • How to engage with Technical Account Managers at Red Hat Summit 2018
      • Finance
    • Debian Family
      • 15.010958904109589041

        And yes! On April 15, I passed the 15-year-mark as a Debian Developer.

      • 10 years + 1 day

        yesterday 10 years ago I became a Debian Developer.

      • Diversity Update

        Which brings us to a panel for the upcoming Debconf in Taiwan. There is a suggestion to have a Gender Forum at the Openday. I’m still not completely sure what it should cover or what is expected for it and I guess it’s still open for suggestions. There will be a plan, let’s see to make it diverse and great!

        I won’t promise to send the next update sooner, but I’ll try to get back into it. Right now I’m also working on a (German language) submission for a non-binary YouTube project and it would be great to see that thing lift off. I’ll be more verbose on that front.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Meet Bo, an Ubuntu-Powered Social Robot with AI Capabilities

            Meet Bo, a social robot with AI (Artificial Intelligence) capabilities, powered by Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux operating system and optimized to welcome customers, as well as to help them navigate to find products and areas in your organization.

            Bo was already used by several well-known brands like Etisalat and BT in a bunch of scenarios, including hospitality and retail scenarios, and it’s being tested in large shopping centers in the United Kingdom, such as Lakeside.

          • The Unique Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 Beta 2

            It is the most unique among the Official Flavors in the 18.04. It’s the only to bring Chromium browser, and it gives you the unique Budgie Desktop experiences. It is really a good place for everyone who wants new, distinct desktop experience with modern version of software and broad space to explore. And ultimately it is still available for 32 bit, which has been abandoned by Ubuntu original. We will wait until the planned release on April 26.

          • gksu Removed From Ubuntu, Here’s The Recommended Replacement

            gksu is used to allow elevating your permissions when running graphical applications, for example in case you want to run a graphical text editor as root to edit a system file, or to be able to remove or add a file to a system folder.

          • Welcome To The (Ubuntu) Bionic Age: Behind communitheme: interviewing Frederik

            My name is Frederik, I live in Germany and I am working as a java software developer in my daily job.

            I am using Ubuntu since 5 years and quickly started to report bugs and issues when they jumped into my face. Apart from that, I like good music, and beautiful software. I also make my own music in my free time.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Open source crucial to Orange as it prepares for ONAP deployment

    Orange has long played a key part in the testing and adoption of ONAP, dating back to when its ECOMP predecessor was created by AT&T as a platform for managing a software-defined network. The move to open source and its development as the ONAP project has made the platform a key component of the new telco open networking movement. But why should other telcos look to ONAP as they embark on their network transformation strategies, and how does it help enable the automated network that will lead to new business opportunities?

  • Events
    • Lessons from OpenStack Telemetry: Deflation

      At some point, the rules relaxed on new projects addition with the Big Tent initiative, allowing us to rename ourselves to the OpenStack Telemetry team and splitting Ceilometer into several subprojects: Aodh (alarm evaluation functionality) and Panko (events storage). Gnocchi was able to join the OpenStack Telemetry party for its first anniversary.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Dev-tools in 2018

        This is a bit late (how is it the middle of April already?!), but the dev-tools team has lots of exciting plans for 2018 and I want to talk about them!

        [...]

        We’re creating two new teams – Rustdoc, and IDEs and editors – and going to work more closely with the Cargo team. We’re also spinning up a bunch of working groups. These are more focused, less formal teams, they are dedicated to a single tool or task, rather than to strategy and decision making. Primarily they are a way to let people working on a tool work more effectively. The dev-tools team will continue to coordinate work and keep track of the big picture.

      • Nonny de la Peña & the Power of Immersive Storytelling

        This week, we’re highlighting VR’s groundbreaking potential to take audiences inside stories with a four part video series. There aren’t many examples of creators doing that more effectively and powerfully than Nonny de la Peña.

        Nonny de la Peña is a former correspondent for Newsweek, the New York Times and other major outlets. For more than a decade now, de la Peña has been focused on merging her passion for documentary filmmaking with a deep-seeded expertise in VR. She essentially invented the field of “immersive journalism” through her company, Emblematic Group.

  • Databases
    • MySQL 8.0 Released With Many Improvements, Faster Performance

      It’s a busy day in the software and hardware space today as well as a busy week for Oracle with several big releases this week. The latest is the general availability of the long-awaited MySQL 8.0 update.

      MySQL 8.0 is a very significant update over the MySQL 5.7 series. MySQL 8.0 features a transactional data dictionary, a new document store with NoSQL support, and up to twice as fast MySQL database performance compared to version 5.7.

    • MySQL 8.0: Up to 2x Faster
    • MySQL 8.0 released

      MySQL 8.0.11 GA (General Availability) is out today—for those not used to Oracle’s idiosyncratic versioning, this essentially means “MySQL 8.0 is released” (8.0.1 and so forth were various stages of alpha and beta). This marks the end of three years of development, of which I’ve been on board for two or so of them.

    • Help Canonical Test GNOME Patches, Android Apps Illegally Tracking Kids, MySQL 8.0 Released and More

      MySQL 8.0 has been released. This new version “includes significant performance, security and developer productivity improvements enabling the next generation of web, mobile, embedded and Cloud applications.” MySQL 8.0 features include MySQL document store, transactional data dictionary, SQL roles, default to utf8mb4 and more. See the white paper for all the details.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Collabora Online 3.2 released

      Collabora Productivity, the driving force behind putting LibreOffice in the Cloud, is excited to announce a new release of its flagship enterprise-ready cloud document suite – Collabora Online 3.2, with new features and multiple improvements.

    • Collabora Online 3.2 Brings More Powerful Features to LibreOffice in the Cloud

      Michael Meeks of the Collabora Productivity has the pleasure of informing Softpedia today on the availability of Collabora Online 3.2, the second point release of the Collabora Online 3 series that promises yet another layer of new features and improvements to the enterprise-ready, cloud-based office suite.

      Based on the LibreOffice 6.1 open-source office suite, Collabora Online 3.2 introduces support for creating and inserting charts into Writer and Impress documents, and the ability to validate data in Calc, which might come in handy for engineers who want to do a final assembly inspection on their tablets, as well as to collaborate with their colleagues to ensure all tests are passed by a complete product.

    • Oracle demands dev tear down iOS app that has ‘JavaScript’ in its name

      Oracle, claims developer Zhongmin Steven Guo, has demanded that Apple remove an app he created because it contains the trademarked term “JavaScript.”

      The app in question, published by Guo’s Tyanya Software LLC – which appears to be more a liability shield than a thriving software business – is titled “HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, HTML, Snippet Editor.”

      The name, Guo explains in a Hacker News comment, was chosen in an effort to “game the App Store ranking by adding all the keywords to the app name.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup time: April 20th starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC

      Help improve the Free Software Directory by adding new entries and updating existing ones. Every Friday we meet on IRC in the #fsf channel on irc.freenode.org.

      Tens of thousands of people visit directory.fsf.org each month to discover free software. Each entry in the Directory contains a wealth of useful information, from basic category and descriptions, to providing detailed info about version control, IRC channels, documentation, and licensing info that has been carefully checked by FSF staff and trained volunteers.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Researchers deliver open-source simulator for cyber physical systems

      Cyber physical systems (CPS) are attracting more attention than ever thanks to the rapid development of the Internet of Things (IoT) and its combination with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and the cloud. These interacting networks of physical and computational components will provide the foundation of critical infrastructure, form the basis of ‘smart’ services, and improve the quality of life in areas ranging from energy and environment to transportation and healthcare.

      CPS technologies are already transforming the way people interact with engineered systems in the ‘real’ or ‘physical’ world, just as the internet has transformed the way people interact with information. Yet, due to their complexity, the developers of CPS face a major problem: the lack of simulation tools and models for their design and analysis.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Creators face an evolving challenge protecting IP

      The GNU General Public License, under which the operating system Linux and much open-source software is shared, is another example of copyleft.

      Open-source software, where programs are worked on together by loosely connected developer communities rather than traditional software houses, show one way IP can be shared without stifling innovation. Linux, the mobile operating system Android and the database system MySQL have all achieved widespread adoption, and are continually innovating despite, or perhaps because of, being open source.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Emerging Tech Speaker Series Talk with Rian Wanstreet

      This is an opportunity for the open source community, as alternative technologies and platforms are being developed which provide farmers the ability to farm outside of walled gardens. From open source seed initiatives, to open farm technologies, to data platform cooperatives, there is a small, but growing, collaborative movement that recognizes that farmers are at a critical moment: they can help to establish tools that advance freedom, or accept machines that foster dependencies.

    • Williamson Schools to develop open source social studies curriculum

      The open source science curriculum saved the district about $3.3 million. An open source social studies curriculum may post similar savings, with estimates at about $3.5-4 million, Gaddis said.

    • Open Data
      • Large Open-Source Data Set Released to Help Train Algorithms Spot Malware

        For the first time, a large dataset has been released by a security firm to help AI research and training of machine learning models that statically detect malware. The data set released by cybersecurity firm Endgame is called EMBER is a collection of more than a million representations of benign and malicious Windows-portable executable files. Hyrum Anderson, Endgame’s technical director of data science who worked on EMBER, says: “This dataset fills a void in the information security machine learning community: a benign/malicious dataset that is large, open and general enough to cover several interesting use cases. … [We] hope that the dataset, code and baseline model provided by EMBER will help invigorate machine learning research for malware detection, in much the same way that benchmark datasets have advanced computer vision research.”

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Open Source Innovation Could Put a 3D Bioprinter in Your Living Room

        3D bioprinting traditionally requires high-level expertise, proprietary technology and a five-figure investment. A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University setout to change all that. In a paper published earlier this month in HardwareX, the group released the design of a fully functional 3D bioprinter it built by altering a widely available desktop 3D machine. The team’s innovation could be a game changer in terms of the overall accessibility of bioprinting.

      • 3D Printing the SynDaver Open-Source Healthcare Mannequin

        As desktop 3D printers become more robust, reliable, and feature-rich, we are seeing a definite shift in professional use-cases from prototyping to producing final products.

      • Unlock & Talk: Open Source Bootloader & Modem

        Since [Tom Nardi] introduced Hackaday readers to postmarketOS, the team has made progress on compiling a standard bootloader for MediaTek System-on-Chip (SoC) processors. Many Android phones use the MIT-licensed Little Kernel as the base of their bootloader and then apply custom closed-source modifications. [McBitter] has worked to eliminate this closed-source code by porting Little Kernel to the MT6735P used in the Coolpad Modena 2. By understanding the modifications MediaTek used for this particular SoC, the postmarketOS team hopes to use their modified, open-source Little Kernel bootloader with other MediaTek-based devices. While progress has been difficult and attempts at using emulators to probe bootloader memory have failed, [McBitter] was able to decode the DRAM configuration settings by searching for a leaked portion of the configuration strings. Now that he can set up the DRAM, there should be few barriers to running Little Kernel.

  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • D.C. lawmaker who said Jews control the weather visits Holocaust Museum but leaves early

    “There’s nothing more powerful than visiting the Holocaust museum for understanding the culture of the Jewish community, and our concerns about anti-Semitism,” Glazer told an uninvited reporter who shadowed the tour.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Charles Gore, Founder Of World Hepatitis Alliance, To Head Medicines Patent Pool

      The Medicines Patent Pool announced today that it has appointed Charles Gore as new executive director. Gore is founder and former president of the World Hepatitis Alliance.

      [...]

      Also to be released by the MPP are the findings of its feasibility study on the potential expansion of its model to include patented medicines which are on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines.

      Gore, from the United Kingdom (as was Perry), was a former hepatitis C patient. In a 2010 post on the World Hepatitis Alliance website, he recounted his struggle with the illness first diagnosed in 1995.

      Gore was selected by the MPP Governance Board, headed by Marie-Paule Kieny, a French researcher and former senior official at the World Health Assembly.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • War Fever

      What happens when an unthinkable war meets an unbeatable case of war fever? Thanks to Russia-gate, unsubstantiated reports about the use of poison gas in Syria, and a slew of similar factoids and pseudo-scandals, the world may soon find out.

      In saner times, including during the Cold War at even its most heated, political leaders knew not to push a conflict with a rival nuclear power too far. After all, what was the point of getting into a fight in which everyone would lose?

    • Public Radio’s McCarthyite Smear of Black Activists Shows Danger of Russia Panic

      For over a year, outlets from FAIR (8/24/16) to TruthDig (1/7/17) to The Nation (8/7/17) to The Intercept (2/12/18) have been warning about the pitfalls of nonstop Russia Is Everywhere and Out to Get Us coverage. The Russians are “stoking discord” and “sowing unrest” and infiltrating online and real-life spaces with memes and rallies and disinformation, corporate media tell us. Did you share Russian disinfo? Twitter and Facebook will let you know. Did you buy into Russian “fake news”? CNN wants to find out. Russia is everywhere, and it’s important the media not only report this fact, but do so over and over and over again, until one is looking for the Russian menace in every interaction.

      This narrative, fueled by center-left outlets like MSNBC, Center for American Progress and Mother Jones, has reached its inevitable, sleazy nadir: the smearing of a black activist by an NPR affiliate for the crime of going on a Russian government–funded radio station a handful of times.

      Reporter Johnny Kauffman at WABE (4/18/18), an NPR affiliate in Atlanta, did a profile on black activists Anoa Changa and Eugene Puryear. But instead of using this opportunity to highlight the causes they’re fighting for, or the injustices that brought them to become activists, WABE used its considerable resources and influence to talk about, you guessed, Russian influence…

    • Of Animals and Monsters and Missiles over Damascus

      Alas, the world has always been, and still is, full of “monsters” and “animals.” And, since we are throwing around such epithets, we might as well give a couple of close-to-home examples of those qualifying behaviors.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Assange had ‘physical proof’ Russians didn’t hack DNC, Rohrabacher says

      Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, left a meeting with Julian Assange believing the WikiLeaks publisher had “physical proof” Russia didn’t supply his website with leaked Democratic National Committee emails it released during the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

      Mr. Rohrabacher made the comment in a interview with Breitbart Radio published online Thursday in which he spoke about his August 2017 visit to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

      Mr. Assange took up refuge in the diplomatic compound in 2012, and in 2016 his website began publishing sensitive DNC emails allegedly sourced by Russian state-sponsored hackers as part of an effort meant to help President Trump’s election campaign.

    • Assange has ‘physical proof’ Russia didn’t hack DNC – Congressman

      Russia did not provide WikiLeaks with Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 US presidential campaign and Julian Assange has physical evidence to prove it, says a Republican congressman who met with him.

    • Rohrabacher: Assange had ‘physical proof’ Russians didn’t hack DNC

      Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, left a meeting with Julian Assange believing the WikiLeaks publisher had “physical proof” Russia didn’t supply his website with leaked Democratic National Committee emails it released during the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

  • Finance
    • Florida Moves to Shut Down For-Profit Residence After Finding Horrific Abuse and Neglect

      After another patient died under suspicious circumstances and reports surfaced of more instances of abuse and neglect, Florida regulators moved this week to shutter a for-profit school and residential campus for children and adults with severe developmental disabilities.

      The action Tuesday by Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities came after years of complaints that patients at the Carlton Palms Educational Center were violently mistreated by staff and subjected to physical restraints known as “wrap mats,” which resemble full-body straitjackets.

      Carlton Palms and its owner’s other facilities were the subject of a ProPublica investigation two years ago that chronicled the deaths of three teenaged patients, patterns of abuse and neglect, and company executives’ often-successful efforts to stave off regulation.

    • Canadian opposition to Nafta’s chapter 11 gives Trudeau leeway

      Canadians urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to concede on a U.S. demand in Nafta negotiations around investor disputes, while holding firm on calls for more environmental and labor protection.

      The most frequent advice the government heard in public consultations before North American Free Trade Agreement talks opened in August was to eliminate Chapter 11, the part of the pact that deals with investor-state dispute settlement, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg News through a freedom of information request. The government began the consultation process last year by asking for written submissions from the public after the U.S. gave notice it wanted to renegotiate the 24-year-old agreement.

      [...]

      Some of Trudeau’s other progressive ideas for Nafta aren’t very popular. While 29 submissions wanted environmental protection and another 21 sought better labor rules, there was far less support for Trudeau’s call for chapters on gender and indigenous rights.

      Priorities expressed during the consultations also included modernizing Nafta for the digital age, boosting labor and environment protections, cutting red tape and ensuring a free market in government procurement, according to the 1,400 pages of documents, which also showed support for adding restrictions, such as tougher rules against exports of water and energy and to bar tobacco companies from suing governments.

    • A Developers Aims to Bring Bitcoin Payments for Retail By Integrating Lightning Network With NFC Technology

      One of the key areas where Bitcoin developers are working with all efforts is solving the scalability issue of the Bitcoin network. Lightning Network is the widely proposed solution in solving Bitcoin’s capability issue that allows for transactions to be taken off the Bitcoin blockchain thereby freeing up huge space in the Bitcoin network.

      While that developers have been actively working on the Lightning Network, they are also experimenting with other designs that make the payment system easier to use. Developer Igor Costa has recently submitted a proposal to standardize a way of connecting the Lightning Network with the Near-Field-Communication (NFC) technology. The developer claims that it could make the transactions seeds very fast making Bitcoin available for everyday retail payments.

      NFC is currently one of the widely used technology for contactless payments that lets the user pay for the item just by holding the smartphone a few inches away from the device it is paying to. NFC-based payments have become widely popular across Asia and Europe and can be made using not only smartphones but also using chips embedded in the payment cards.

    • What’s the Difference Between Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and Others?

      Despite their names, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Diamond, Bitcoin Private, and others are not the same thing as Bitcoin. They’re based on Bitcoin, and are piggybacking on its name, but they’re different things. Here’s how to know which Bitcoin variant is which.

      Bitcoin is a decentralized cryptocurrency based on open source code. Anyone can take the code, modify it, and release their own version. That’s exactly how these other coins were created.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • The UK Refused To Raid A Company Suspected Of Money Laundering, Citing Its Tory Donations

      The British government refused to assist a French investigation into suspected money laundering and tax fraud by the UK telecoms giant Lycamobile – citing the fact that the company is the “biggest corporate donor to the Conservative party” and gives money to a trust founded by Prince Charles.

      French prosecutors launched a major probe into the firm and arrested 19 people accused of using its accounts to launder money from organised criminal networks two years ago, after BuzzFeed News revealed its suspicious financial activities in the UK. But the Conservatives continued taking Lycamobile’s money – and it can now be revealed that the British authorities stonewalled a formal request from French prosecutors to carry out raids in London as part of the ongoing investigation.

      Confidential correspondence between British government officials and their French counterparts, shown to BuzzFeed News by a source in the UK, reveals that the French wanted British authorities to raid Lycamobile’s London headquarters last year and seize evidence as part of their investigation into money laundering and tax fraud by the company.

      In an official response dated 30 March 2017, a government official noted that Lycamobile is “a large multinational company” with “vast assets at their disposal” and would be “extremely unlikely to agree to having their premises searched”.

    • NYT: Don’t Be Progressive, Be a ‘Liberal’

      A New York Times op-ed by political scientist (and former Bob Kerrey aide) Greg Weiner (7/13/18) may well be the New York Times–iest op-ed ever.

      Its ostensible subject is why Democrats should call themselves “liberals” and not “progressives.” But in making that case, it hits most of the main points of the New York Times‘ ideology—one that has guided the paper since the late 19th century.

      First and foremost, it’s a defense of the status quo. “The basic premise of liberal politics,” Weiner writes, “is the capacity of government to do good, especially in ameliorating economic ills.” But not too much good, mind you: “A liberal can believe that government can do more good or less,” he stresses. Weiner draws a contrast with progressives: “Where liberalism seeks to ameliorate economic ills, progressivism’s goal is to eradicate them.”

      So Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society is cited negatively as an example of “a progressive effort to remake society by eradicating poverty’s causes”—in the process supporting “community action” and financing the “political activism”—presented without explanation as a self-evident evil. The explanation, presumably, is that the poor should remain passive as they remain poor, gratefully accepting the handouts that “alleviate” their plight, as “cutting checks,” as Weiner puts it, is “something government does competently.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • NSA reveals how it beats 0-days

      In the ongoing cat-and-mouse game between nation states and attackers, anyone with something to protect has less time than ever to shore up their defenses.

      At this week’s RSA conference in San Francisco, Dave Hogue, technical director of the US National Security Agency (NSA), reviewed the organization’s best practices for defense – one of which is to “harden to best practices,” as the NSA often sees attacks against their systems within 24 hours of a new vulnerability being disclosed or discovered in the wild.

    • Mosque shooter’s search history shouldn’t be a cause for online censorship: expert

      Alexandre Bissonnette had scoured Twitter for right-wing commentators, conspiracy theorists, and white supremacists in the weeks before he killed six men inside a Quebec City mosque.

      The revelation at his sentencing hearing this week has raised questions about whether Canada is tough enough on online hate speech.

    • Facebook Is Using Dark Patterns To Undermine EU Privacy Rules

      GDPR, a new European privacy law, means users must explicitly give permission for most data collection. Facebook would like you to give them that permission.

      Lucky for Facebook they’re very good at getting people to do what they want. We talked last week about how tech companies use Dark Patterns to trick you, designing things to subtly push people into doing what benefits them.

    • A Tale of Two Poorly Designed Cross-Border Data Access Regimes

      On Tuesday, the European Commission published two legislative proposals that could further cement an unfortunate trend towards privacy erosion in cross-border state investigati­ons. Building on a foundation first established by the recently enacted U.S. CLOUD Act, these proposals compel tech companies and service providers to ignore critical privacy obligations in order to facilitate easy access when facing data requests from foreign governments. These initiatives collectively signal the increasing willingness of states to sacrifice privacy as a way of addressing pragmatic challenges in cross-border access that could be better solved with more training and streamlined processes.

    • New York Judge Makes the Wrong Call on Stingray Secrecy

      A New York judge has ruled that the public and the judiciary shouldn’t second-guess the police when it comes to secret snooping on the public with intrusive surveillance technologies.

      He couldn’t be more wrong.

      A core part of EFF’s mission is questioning the decisions of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies over digital surveillance. We’ve seen too many cases where police have abused databases, hidden the use of invasive technologies, targeted people exercising their First Amendment rights, disparately burdened immigrants and people of color, and captured massive amounts of unnecessary information on innocent people.

      We’re outraged about New York Judge Shlomo Hager’s recent ruling against the New York Civil Liberties Union in a public records case. The judge upheld the New York Police Department’s decision to withhold records about its purchases of cell-site simulator equipment (colloquially known as Stingrays), including the names of surveillance products and how much they cost taxpayers.

    • Hearing Monday in Groundbreaking Lawsuit Over Border Searches of Laptops and Smartphones

      EFF and ACLU Fight Government’s Move to Dismiss Case

      Boston – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will appear in federal court in Boston Monday, fighting the U.S. government’s attempts to block their lawsuit over illegal laptop and smartphone searches at the country’s borders.

      The case, Alasaad v. Nielsen, was filed last fall on behalf of 10 U.S. citizens and one lawful permanent resident who had their digital devices searched without a warrant. The lawsuit challenges the government’s fast-growing practice of searching travelers’ electronics at airports and other border crossings—often confiscating the items for weeks or months at a time—without any individualized suspicion that a traveler has done anything wrong.

    • France Testing Out Special Encrypted Messenger For Gov’t Officials As It Still Seeks To Backdoor Everyone Else’s Encryption

      The French government has been pushing for a stupid “backdoors” policy in encryption for quite some time. A couple years ago, following various terrorist attacks, there was talk of requiring backdoors to encrypted communications, and there was even a bill proposed that would jail execs who refused to decrypt data. Current President Emmanuel Macron has come out in favor of backdoors as well, even as he’s a heavy user of Telegram (which isn’t considered particularly secure encryption in the first place).

    • No boundaries for Facebook data: third-party trackers abuse Facebook Login

      So far in the No boundaries series, we’ve uncovered how web trackers exfiltrate identifying information from web pages, browser password managers, and form inputs.

    • ‘Facebook Login’ Feature Abused By Third-Party Trackers To Steal Data

      A new investigation reports that Facebook’s Login feature can be used to steal user information when you sign into third-party websites using your Facebook ID. This loophole allows many advertising and analytics services to harvest data for ad-targeting.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Chicago’s Gang Database Is Full of Errors — And Records We Have Prove It

      During January 1984, the Chicago Police Department labeled more than 700 people as suspected gang members following arrests for various crimes.

      One was in his early 30s and identified as a member of the Black P Stones.

      By last fall, nearly 34 years later, that individual was 77 — and still in what police commonly refer to as the department’s “gang database.”

      In fact, the 77-year-old was one of 163 people in their 70s or 80s in the database, which now includes information about 128,000 people and counting, according to records I obtained through a series of requests under the state Freedom of Information Act.

    • In Its Zeal to Deport Immigrants, the Justice Department Scraps Due Process

      In the past month, the Department of Justice has issued a series of stunningly senseless, wasteful, and cruel immigration policies. It ended a program to notify immigrants of their rights in deportation cases. It set an arbitrary and unreasonable quota for immigration judges. It enabled judges to make asylum decisions without a hearing. And it doubled down on a failed “zero tolerance” policy that aims to prosecute everyone accused of crossing the border without authorization.

    • Unsealed Warrant Shows FBI Investigated Michael Hayden For Leaking Info To Journalists

      And it is a very thin lead. All that’s included in the warrant affidavit [PDF] is the fact that Hayden engaged in email conversations with two unnamed reporters a total of 30 times in 18 months. Given his position, it’s surprising it didn’t happen more often. Officials are always contacted by reporters when writing about subjects/programs/etc. they oversee. In the affidavit, the special agent notes many of these contacts were to “confirm quotes” to be used in published articles and books.

      The inquiry here apparently centered on news of the Stuxnet virus and the US’s involvement in the cyberattack. The only quote about Stuxnet attributed to Hayden was fairly innocuous, stating only that this was the first time a cyberattack had been used to “effect physical destruction.”

    • On the Criminal Referral of Comey, Clinton et al: Will the Constitution Hold and the Media Continue to Suppress the Story?

      Ray McGovern reports on a major development in the Russia-gate story that has been ignored by corporate media: a criminal referral to the DOJ against Hillary Clinton, James Comey and others, exposing yet again how established media suppresses news it doesn’t like–about as egregious an example of unethical journalism as there is.

    • The War On Whistleblowers Claims Another Casualty

      Another whistleblower will be going to jail. Thanks to the application of the Espionage Act, former FBI special agent Terry Albury wasn’t able to defend his leaking of FBI internal documents to journalists (most likely The Intercept) by claiming he leaked to expose noxious FBI tactics and behavior. Defenses predicated on public interest aren’t allowed in Espionage Act trials, meaning Albury’s decision to plead guilty is there to limit the number of years he’ll spend incarcerated, rather than an indication his leaks were meant to harm the government.

      Albury’s attorneys released this statement to the Columbia Journalism Review shortly after his court hearing.

    • Court’s Ruling Holding Kobach in Contempt Is Well-Deserved

      The time is up for Kobach to follow the law.

      In a scathing decision issued on Wednesday evening, a federal judge held Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in contempt for repeatedly and willfully disobeying court orders that he comply with federal voting rights law.

      The contempt ruling by Chief Judge Julie Robinson, who was appointed by George W. Bush, follows years of attempts by Kobach to evade, undermine, or ignore the court’s directive that he register and notify all eligible voters in accordance with the National Voter Registration Act. The judge lambasted Kobach for his “history of noncompliance and disrespect for the Court’s decisions in this case.”

    • FBI Whistleblower Convicted of Leaking Documents in “Act of Conscience”

      In Minnesota, an FBI whistleblower who leaked classified information about how the bureau aggressively targets potential informants pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of unauthorized disclosure. Terry J. Albury, who was the only African-American agent at the FBI’s field office in Minneapolis, called his leaks an “an act of conscience” aimed at calling out racism at the bureau. He faces up to 10 years in prison, but is likely to receive less than 5 under a plea deal.

    • ‘We Need to Change the Rules for When Police Can Shoot’

      Janine Jackson: Amy Hughes was not suspected of a crime. She was standing still, outside of her home in Tucson, holding a kitchen knife by her side. Three police officers, responding to a “check welfare” call about a woman hacking at a tree, arrived and saw Hughes’ roommate, Sharon Chadwick, in the yard, and Hughes some six feet away from her. An officer yelled at Hughes to drop the knife. It’s not clear whether she heard.

      Neither two of the three officers called to the scene, nor Chadwick herself, felt that Hughes was threatening. The third cop, Andrew Kisela, felt differently, and without warning shot Hughes four times through a chain-link fence. She survived, and did not go quietly, suing for the violation of her Fourth Amendment rights. The Supreme Court, however, has just ruled that Kisela can’t be sued, that he’s covered by something called “qualified immunity.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • A Little Help for Our Friends

      In periods like this one, when governments seem to ignore the will of the people as easily as companies violate their users’ trust, it’s important to draw strength from your friends. EFF is glad to have allies in the online freedom movement like the Internet Archive. Right now, donations to the Archive will be matched automatically by the Pineapple Fund.

      Founded 21 years ago by Brewster Kahle, the Internet Archive’s mission is to provide free and universal access to knowledge through its vast digital library. Their work has helped capture the massive—yet now too often ephemeral—proliferation of human creativity and knowledge online. Popular tools like the Wayback Machine have allowed people to do things like view deleted and altered webpages and recover public statements to hold officials accountable.

      EFF and the Internet Archive have stood together in a number of digital civil liberties cases. We fought back when the Archive became the recipient of a National Security Letter, a tool often used by the FBI to force Internet providers and telecommunications companies to turn over the names, addresses, and other records about their customers, and frequently accompanied by a gag order. EFF and the Archive have worked together to fight threats to free expression, online innovation, and the free flow of information on the Internet on numerous occasions. We have even collaborated on community gatherings like EFF’s own Pwning Tomorrow speculative fiction launch and the recent Barlow Symposium exploring EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow’s philosophy of the Internet.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • How China became a leader in intellectual property

      As the tit-for-tat trade war between China and the United States escalates, you might be forgiven for assuming that intellectual property (IP) rights and protections barely exist in China. Yet, despite its reputation as an inveterate bootlegger, trademark squatter and state sponsor of corporate espionage, China is on course to becoming an IP powerhouse.

      “Over the past decade, China has demonstrated serious resolve to enforce an effective IP rights regime, and to bring the system in line with other developed systems in the US and Europe,” says Xingye Huang, associate at trademark and patent attorneys Abel & Imray. Indeed, China is on track to achieving its 2020 strategic goal laid out in 2008 of attaining a comparatively high level in terms of the creation, utilisation, protection and administration of IP rights.

      [...]

      According to the latest figures from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) from 2015, China filed the most patents of any country worldwide. In 2017, Chinese companies registered more than 1.3 million patents,

    • ABA Provides Guidance on Required Disclosure of Attorney Errors

      On April 17th, the American Bar Association provided a formal opinion regarding the requirement that attorneys disclose errors to clients. Its opinion was based on Rule 1.4 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which governs communications with clients. The ABA concluded that attorneys have a duty to disclose material errors to clients, but no duty to disclose errors to former clients. In this context, an error is material if a disinterested attorney would believe that the error would likely cause harm or prejudice to the client, or that the error would reasonably cause a client to consider terminating the practitioner’s representation — even if there would be no prejudice to the client.

    • Public interest in Plant Variety Rights. How high is the bar for the grant of a compulsory license?

      On 16 March 2017, the Office received an application for a compulsory licence by Pixley Berries (Juice) Limited ( “the applicant”) pursuant to Article 29 of Council Regulation (EC) No 2100/94 of 27 July 1994 on Community plant variety rights (Basic Regulation) (the Council Regulation (EC) No 2100/94 of 27 July 1994),.

    • Invention Disclosure to In-House Counsel Privileged

      Is an invention disclosure submitted by an inventor to an in-house attorney for procurement of a patent covered by attorney-client privilege? The Central District of California held in The California Institute of Technology v. Broadcom Limited, et al., No. CV 16-3714-GW (C.D. Cal. Mar. 19, 2018) that invention disclosures sent to in-house attorneys are covered by attorney-client privilege.

    • Coffin Patent Lives on after IPR

      The Federal Circuit agreed with the Patent Trial & Appeal Board that the claim language “form a casket body” was a structural limitation, not an intended use, and affirmed the final written decision of PTAB finding that the inter parte review petitioner failed to demonstrate that the claims were unpatentable. Matthews International Corp. v. Vandor Corp. (Fed. Cir., decided March 27, 2018).

    • Women have worse outcomes in virtually all respects when it comes to securing US patent rights, study finds

      Not only do women inventors submit far fewer US patent applications than men, but they also have much greater difficulty in obtaining and maintaining rights, a new study has revealed. The first-of-its-kind research found that female applicants are more likely to have their applications rejected and less likely to appeal these rejections. Women also had fewer claims allowed on average, while their granted patents received fewer citations and were less likely to be maintained.

      [...]

      Women with rarer names were significantly less disadvantaged than those with common names when it came to having their applications accepted. Future applicants also cited the patents of women with common names 30% less often than the patents of men with common names; in contrast, women with rare names had their patents cited 20% more than the patents of men with rare names.

    • India moves towards Form 27 reform

      India’s Patent Office is gathering input on reforming Form 27. IP practitioners hope changes to the burdensome statement regarding the working of the patented invention will come this year

    • Trademarks
      • Last Minute Trademark Infringement Claims Do Not “Ferryboat” Pendent Venue for Patent Infringement Claims

        The court granted one defendant’s alternative motion to transfer plaintiff’s claims against it for improper venue and rejected plaintiff’s attempt to establish pendent venue by asserting trademark claims in its amended complaint.

      • Caymus Vineyard Sues Caymus Builders Because It Built Some Buildings For Its Wine Business

        Look, trademark law can be confusing. If you’re not spending some significant portion of your life either practicing trademark law or writing about trademark law, you might misunderstand how it works. In particular, the requirement for entities to be in the same business or market often times trips people up, with them either not realizing that this provision exists for there to be trademark infringement in most cases, or else not understanding exactly what it means to be competing in the same marketplace.

      • Napa’s Caymus Vineyards sues Sonoma’s Caymus companies for trademark infringement

        The name “Caymus” has become familiar to Sonomans under a different context than the name holds in neighboring Napa Valley.

        And that, says Caymus Vineyards in Napa, is grounds for a lawsuit.

        According to a filing in San Francisco’s U.S. District Court, dated March 2, Sonoma’s Caymus Capital is being sued, along with other related parties, by Caymus Vineyards of Napa.

        The suit cites the defendants’ “unauthorized and unlawful use of Plaintiff’s famous, incontestable federal trademark registration for the mark ‘Caymus’ and Plaintiff’s corporate and trade name ‘Caymus Vineyards.’”

    • Copyrights
      • German FCJ declares AdBlock Plus legal

        Germany’s Federal Court of Justice has today decided in a year-long dispute between the German news publisher Axel-Springer-Verlag and Eyeo, the Cologne-based company behind AdBlock Plus.

      • Dear Canada: Accessing Publicly Available Information on the Internet Is Not a Crime

        Canadian authorities should drop charges against a 19-year-old Canadian accused of “unauthorized use of a computer service” for downloading thousands of public records hosted and available to all on a government website. The whole episode is an embarrassing overreach that chills the right of access to public records and threatens important security research.

        At the heart of the incident, as reported by CBC news this week, is the Nova Scotian government’s embarrassment over its own failure to protect the sensitive data of 250 people who used the province’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request their own government files. These documents were hosted on the government web server that also hosted public records containing no personal information. Every request hosted on the server contained very similar URLs, which differed only in a single document ID number at the end of the URL. The teenager took a known ID number, and then, by modifying the URL, retrieved and stored all of the FOIA documents available on the Nova Scotia FOIA website.

      • Publisher Helps To Keep Sci-Hub In The Public Eye By Trying To Bully It Into Submission Using Ineffectual Legal Remedies

        As Techdirt has pointed out a number of times, attacking the huge free online repository of academic papers, Sci-Hub, is wrong from a number of viewpoints. It’s wrong because Sci-Hub is not a site aiming to profit from the labor of others, but is simply trying to make knowledge accessible to everyone. That’s also what academic publishers like to claim they are doing, except that strangely many of the largest end up with profit margins of 30%-40%, and the papers aren’t accessible to all, just to those rich enough to pay the “egregious price increases” that roll in every year. It’s wrong because most of the research published was paid for by the public through their taxes, who surely ought to be able to access it from convenient repositories that are as easy to use as Sci-Hub. It’s also provided free of charge for publishers to repackage, often with few changes. And yet the latter want people to pay again, typically $30 for a single article.

      • Of Course The RIAA Would Find A Way To Screw Over The Public In ‘Modernizing’ Copyright

        I haven’t had a chance to write much about the latest attempt to update copyright law in the US, under the title of the “Music Modernization Act,” but in part that was because Congress did something amazing: it came up with a decent solution to modernizing some outdated aspects of copyright law, that almost everyone agreed were pretty decent ideas for improvement. The crux of the bill was making music licensing easier and much clearer, which is very much needed, giving what a complete shit show music licensing is today.

        There was a chance to have this actually create a nice solution that would help artists, help online music services and generally make more works available to the public. It was a good thing. But… leave it to the RIAA to fuck up a good thing. You see, with there being pretty much universal support for the Music Modernization Act, the RIAA stepped in and pushed for it to be combined with a different copyright reform, known as the “CLASSICS Act.”

Links 19/4/2018: Mesa 17.3.9 and 18.0.1, Trisquel 8.0 LTS Flidas, Elections for openSUSE Board

Thursday 19th of April 2018 02:56:13 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Open-source library for improving security of AI systems

    Attacks against neural networks have recently been flagged as one of the biggest dangers in our modern world where AI systems are increasingly getting embedded in many technologies we use and depend on daily.

    Adversaries can sometimes tamper with them even if they don’t know much about them, and “breaking” the system could result in very dangerous consequences.

    [...]

    The library is written in Python, as it is the most commonly used programming language for developing, testing and deploying Deep Neural Networks.

  • IBM launches open-source library for securing AI systems

    On Tuesday at the RSA conference in San Francisco, IBM announced the launch of the Adversarial Robustness Toolbox to support developers and users of AI that may become the victims of attacks against AI systems including Deep Neural Networks (DNNs).

    According to the tech giant, threat actors may be able to exploit weaknesses in AI systems through very subtle means. Simple, small, and often undetectable alterations in content including images, video, and audio recordings can be crafted to confuse AI systems, even without a deep knowledge of the AI or DNN a cyberattack is targeting.

  • IBM releases new toolbox to protect AI from adversarial attacks

    IBM is releasing an open-source software library to combat against adversarial attacks in deep neural networks (DNNs). DNNs are machine learning models that are capable of recognizing patterns.

  • Build a serverless framework at home: Go on, bit of open sourcey hijinx won’t hurt

    First unveiled at SpringOne Platform in December, riff is still an early project. It emerged from the Spring Cloud Data Flow, a data integration project to run Java code as microservices created under Pivotal’s open source Java-focused Spring framework.

    “Riff is the next step in that evolution,” says Jürgen Leschner, a riff organiser who works at Pivotal. Instead of running microservices that persist in containers, serverless models hide the containers from the developers and operations teams entirely. Instead, when a developer calls a software function, the container orchestration system (in riff’s case, Kubernetes) spins one up and then kills it off silently.

    [...]

    The benefits of open source serverless

    What do these open source serverless options bring to the party? Unless you’re using them to slurp services on the AWS platform and minimise container fees by weeding out idle compute power, why bother?

    Efficiency for developers is one driver, says Leschner. “Developers don’t have to worry about building the connectors and boilerplate stuff into their code. They can package a simpler project and the boilerplate is already in the platform.”

  • How will the GDPR impact open source communities?

    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was approved by the EU Parliament on April 14, 2016, and will be enforced beginning May 25, 2018. The GDPR replaces the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC which was designed “to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy.”

    The aim of the GDPR is to protect the personal data of individuals in the EU in an increasingly data-driven world.

  • 3 tips for organizing your open source project’s workflow on GitHub

    Managing an open source project is challenging work, and the challenges grow as a project grows. Eventually, a project may need to meet different requirements and span multiple repositories. These problems aren’t technical, but they are important to solve to scale a technical project. Business process management methodologies such as agile and kanban bring a method to the madness. Developers and managers can make realistic decisions for estimating deadlines and team bandwidth with an organized development focus.

  • Prospects for free software in cars

    Car manufacturers, like most companies, navigate a narrow lane between the benefits of using free and open-source software and the perceived or real importance of hiding their trade secrets. Many are using free software in some of the myriad software components that make up a modern car, and even work in consortia to develop free software. At the recent LibrePlanet conference, free-software advocate Jeremiah Foster covered progress in the automotive sector and made an impassioned case for more free software in their embedded systems. Foster has worked in automotive free software for many years and has played a leading role in the GENIVI Alliance, which is dedicated to incorporating free software into in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems. He is currently the community manager for the GENIVI Alliance.

    First, Foster talked about the importance of software in modern vehicles. He pointed out that software increasingly becomes the differentiator used to market cars. Horsepower no longer sells these vehicles, Foster says—features do. He claims that some companies even sell the car at cost (the old “razor/blades” or “printer/ink” business model) and make their money on aftermarket apps and features. Companies are finding it effective to get hardware from other manufacturers while improving the user experience through their software. Some of these features contribute to safety (such as alerts that help you drive within the lane or parallel park), and some may be critical, such dashboard icons that warn the driver of electrical system problems or low brake fluid.

  • Productising open source integration

    We asked Lumina Networks’ CEO Andrew Coward, how companies can make best use of open source. “Open source is not a spectator sport,” says Andrew. “Sitting around and waiting for somebody to show up and deliver the equivalent of your existing vendor’s offering is not the right approach. So we work best when our customers are very engaged. And really, it’s all about how you automate things.”

  • Riot: A Distributed Way of Having IRC and VOIP Client and Home Server

    Riot is a free and open source decentralized instant messaging application that can be considered an alternative to Slack. We take a look at features of Riot, installation procedure and usage.

    It’s surprising that many Linux users and open source projects use a proprietary messaging service like Slack. Even we at It’s FOSS use Slack for our internal communication which I don’t like. This is why I came up with the proposal of using an open source alternative to Slack, called Riot.

  • Announcing the 2018 Fractal Hackfest

    For the past few months, I’ve been contributing to a new group messaging app called Fractal. Its aim is to be so good that we can maybe, eventually, finally replace IRC as the primary communication channel for GNOME development.

  • Events
    • Rust loves GNOME Hackfest: Day 1

      This is a report of the first day of the Rust loves GNOME Hackfest that we are having in Madrid at the moment. During the first day we had a round of introductions and starting outlining the state of the art.

    • Madrid GNOME+Rust Hackfest, part 1

      I’m in Madrid since Monday, at the third GNOME+Rust hackfest! The OpenShine folks are kindly letting us use their offices, on the seventh floor of a building by the Cuatro Caminos roundabout.

      I am very, very thankful that this time everyone seems to be working on developing gnome-class. It’s a difficult project for me, and more brainpower is definitely welcome — all the indirection, type conversion, GObject obscurity, and procedural macro shenanigans definitely take a toll on oneself.

    • Five days left

      I use to joke that the last week before foss-north is the worst – everything is done, all that is left is the stress.

    • KubeCon + CloudnativeCon Europe 2018

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s flagship conference will be taking place in Copenhagen from May 2-4. It will cover Kubernetes, Prometheus OpenTracing, Fluentd, Linkerd, gRPC, CoreDNS, and other key technologies in cloud native computing.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
    • Mozilla
      • No-Judgment Digital Definitions: App vs Web App

        Just when you think you’ve got a handle on this web stuff, things change. The latest mixup? Apps vs Web Apps. An app should be an app no matter what, but there is a difference between the two. Let’s find out what it is.

      • Friend of Add-ons: Viswaprasath Ks

        Please meet our newest Friend of Add-ons, Viswaprasanth Ks! Viswa began contributing to Mozilla in January 2013, when he met regional community members while participating in a Firefox OS hackathon in Bangalore, India. Since then, he has been a member of the Firefox Student Ambassador Board, a Sr. Firefox OS app reviewer, and a Mozilla Rep and Tech Speaker.

        In early 2017, Viswa began developing extensions for Firefox using the WebExtensions API. From the start, Viswa wanted to invite his community to learn this framework and create extensions with him. At community events, he would speak about extension development and help participants build their first extensions. These presentations served as a starting point for creating the Activate campaign “Build Your Own Extension.” Viswa quickly became a leader in developing the campaign and testing iterations with a variety of different audiences. In late 2017, he collaborated with community members Santosh Viswanatham and Trishul Goel to re-launch the campaign with a new event flow and more learning resources for new developers.

      • Virtual Reality at the Intersection of Art & Technology

        This is the second video in our four part series around creators, virtual reality, and the open web. As we laid out in the opening post of this series, virtual reality is more than a technology, and it is far more than mere eye-candy. VR is an immensely powerful tool that is honed and developed every day. In the hands of a creator, that tool has the potential to transport audiences into new worlds and provide new perspectives.

      • Hello wasm-pack!

        As Lin Clark emphasizes in her article about Rust and WebAssembly: the goal of WebAssembly is not to replace JavaScript, but to be an awesome tool to use with JavaScript. Lots of amazing work has been done to simplify crossing the language boundary between JavaScript and WebAssembly, and you can read all about that in Alex Crichton’s post on wasm-bindgen. This post focuses on a different type of JavaScript/Rust integration: package ecosystem and developer workflows.

      • Firefox Performance Update #6

        These updates are going to shift format slightly. I’m going to start by highlighting the status of some of the projects the Firefox Performance Team (the front-end team working to make Firefox snappy AF), and then go into the grab-bag list of improvements that we’ve seen landing in the tree.

      • Announcing cargo src (beta)

        cargo src is a new tool for exploring your Rust code. It is a cargo plugin which runs locally and lets you navigate your project in a web browser. It has syntax highlighting, jump to definition, type on hover, semantic search, find uses, find impls, and more.

      • Things Gateway – Series 2, Episode 1
      • Firefox Data engineering newsletter Q1 / 2018

        As the Firefox data engineering teams we provide core tools for using data to other teams. This spans from collection through Firefox Telemetry, storage & processing in our Data Platform to making data available in Data Tools.

        [...]

        Most centrally, the Telemetry portal is now the main entry point to our tools, documentation and other resources. When working with Firefox data you will find all the important tools linked from there.

      • Working for Good: Metalwood Salvage of Portland

        The web should be open to everyone, a place for unbridled innovation, education, and creative expression. That’s why Firefox fights for Net Neutrality, promotes online privacy rights, and supports open-source tech around the globe. We strive to make the online community a better place. We also know people everywhere work tirelessly to improve their own communities. In this series, we’re profiling businesses that work to make the world better—and use Firefox to support a healthy, open, and safe internet.

      • It’s time to give Firefox a fresh chance

        After spending some quality time comparing the actual experience of using Chrome, Safari, and Firefox across a variety of websites, I’m confident in saying browser benchmarks are profoundly uninformative. The truth is that performance differences are not substantial enough to be noticed. If anything, you’re most likely to clash with “only works in Chrome” incompatibilities, but that’s kind of the whole reason for me to avoid Chrome: someone has to keep using the alternatives so as to give them a reason to exist.

  • BSD
    • LLVM Is Playing A Big Role With Vulkan/SPIR-V Compilers

      The usage of LLVM as part of the graphics driver stack continues to be picked up now especially in the Vulkan/SPIR-V world.

      With the new NVIDIA 396 driver series there is their new “NVVM” compiler stack for SPIR-V, the IR used by Vulkan and OpenCL and now can be consumed by OpenGL 4.6 too.

    • OpenBSD on my fanless desktop computer

      I’ve been using OpenBSD on servers for years as a web developer, but never had a chance to dive in to system administration before. If you appreciate the simplicity of OpenBSD and you have to give it a try on your desktop.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • ‘No Company Is So Important Its Existence Justifies Setting Up a Police State’

      You’re talking about very — about specific manifestations, and in some cases in ways that presuppose a weak solution.

      What is data privacy? The term implies that if a company collects data about you, it should somehow protect that data. But I don’t think that’s the issue. I think the problem is that it collects data about you period. We shouldn’t let them do that.

      I won’t let them collect data about me. I refuse to use the ones that would know who I am. There are unfortunately some areas where I can’t avoid that. I can’t avoid even for a domestic flight giving the information of who I am. That’s wrong. You shouldn’t have to identify yourself if you’re not crossing a border and having your passport checked.

      With prescriptions, pharmacies sell the information about who gets what sort of prescription. There are companies that find this out about people. But they don’t get much of a chance to show me ads because I don’t use any sites in a way that lets them know who I am and show ads accordingly.

      So I think the problem is fundamental. Companies are collecting data about people. We shouldn’t let them do that. The data that is collected will be abused. That’s not an absolute certainty, but it’s a practical, extreme likelihood, which is enough to make collection a problem.

      A database about people can be misused in four ways. First, the organization that collects the data can misuse the data. Second, rogue employees can misuse the data. Third, unrelated parties can steal the data and misuse it. That happens frequently, too. And fourth, the state can collect the data and do really horrible things with it, like put people in prison camps. Which is what happened famously in World War II in the United States. And the data can also enable, as it did in World War II, Nazis to find Jews to kill.

      In China, for example, any data can be misused horribly. But in the U.S. also, you’re looking at a CIA torturer being nominated to head the CIA, and we can’t assume that she will be rejected. So when you put this together with the state spying that Snowden told us about, and with the Patriot Act that allows the FBI to take almost any database of personal data without even talking to a court. And what you see is, for companies to have data about you is dangerous.

      And I’m not interested in discussing the privacy policies that these companies have. First of all, privacy policies are written so that they appear to promise you some sort of respect for privacy, while in fact having such loopholes that the company can do anything at all. But second, the privacy policy of the company doesn’t do anything to stop the FBI from taking all that data every week. Anytime anybody starts collecting some data, if the FBI thinks it’s interesting, it will grab that data.

      And we also know that the FBI and other such agencies are inclined to label protesters as terrorists. So that way they can use laws that were ostensibly adopted to protect us from terrorists to threaten a much larger number of us than any terrorist could.

    • Numerical Analysis Software Global Market Analysis & Forecast: Analytica, Matlab, GNU Octave, Plotly, FlexPro
  • Public Services/Government
    • German government moves to open source private cloud

      The German federal government is moving to an open source, self-hosted cloud platform from Nextcloud for file sync and sharing and collaboration, in order to protect the data of its citizens.

      The Federal Information Technology Center (ITZBund), which takes care of IT services for the entire federal government, has been running a pilot of 5000 users with Nextcloud since October 2016 and after a successful tender this will now be rolled out everywhere.

    • German government chooses Nextcloud for open-source files

      Nextcloud has revealed its new three-year contract which will consist of supplying the German federal government with its private, on-premises cloud platform.

    • Open source’s big German win: 300,000 users shift to Nextcloud for file sharing

      The German federal government has chosen local private cloud and open-source file-sync operator Nextcloud as its collaboration and file-sharing platform for 300,000 government users.

      Nextcloud arrived on Germany’s tech scene in 2016 after Frank Karlitschek, co-founder of the open source infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud program OwnCloud, forked the software to create a more open-source model.

    • German Government Chooses Open Source For Its Federal Cloud Solution

      It’s not hidden that apart from costing tons of money, the use of proprietary software also brings along hidden security caveats. These are the two primary reasons why the usage of open source software is being pushed in public agencies all around the world, especially in European countries.

    • Israeli Government Is Open Sourcing Its Software Code

      Just yesterday, we told you about German government’s decision to go ahead with an open source solution for creating its private cloud. The government announced a partnership with Nextcloud, which is a popular open source solutions provider.

      In another encouraging development for the open source enthusiasts, the Israeli government has decided to open source its software code. As a result, the released code will be available to public and free to reuse.

  • Programming/Development
    • A Taxonomy of Tech Debt

      Hi there. I’m Bill “LtRandolph” Clark, and I’m the engineering manager for the Champions team on LoL. I’ve worked on several different teams on League over the past years, but one focus has been consistent: I’m obsessed with tech debt. I want to find it, I want to understand it, and where possible, I want to fix it.

      When engineers talk about any existing piece of technology – for example League of Legends patch 8.4 – we often talk about tech debt. I define tech debt as code or data that future developers will pay a cost for. Countless blog posts, articles, and definitions have been written about this scourge of software development. This post will focus on types of tech debt I’ve seen during my time working at Riot, and a model for discussing it that we’re starting to use internally. If you only take away one lesson from this article, I hope you remember the “contagion” metric discussed below.

    • 6 Python datetime libraries

      Once upon a time, one of us (Lacey) had spent more than an hour staring at the table in the Python docs that describes date and time formatting strings. I was having a hard time understanding one specific piece of the puzzle as I was trying to write the code to translate a datetime string from an API into a Python datetime object, so I asked for help.

    • Is DevOps compatible with part-time community teams?
    • Intel Opens Up nGraph Source Code For DNN Model Compiler

      Intel tonight announced they are open-sourcing their nGraph compiler code, which serves as a framework-neutral deep neural network model compiler.

      Intel claims with nGraph and Xeon Scalable hardware that researchers can obtain up to 10x performance improvements over previous TensorFlow integrations, as one example. Besides TensorFlow, nGraph also supports PyTorch, MXNet, Neon, Caffe2, and CNTK while also planning to support other frameworks moving forward.

    • Why it’s finally time to give up on the name JavaScript

      An iOS developer has apparently received a cease and desist notice from Oracle over the use of the word “JavaScript” in the title of their app. The developer, Tyanya Software, shared the notice on perennial internet soapbox Reddit to seek advice on how to fight the order.

      [...]

      If user reviews are any indication, the app is not even particularly good, with reviewers stating things such as “Not ready for production,” “Does not work as advertised,” and “Waste of money, don’t buy this.” The last update to the app was in 2014, which the changelog notes was only an upgrade to add support for iOS 8. The app developer is at least honest about the intent behind the unwieldy name for the app, saying in a Reddit comment that “we game the App Store ranking by adding all the keywords to the app name.”

      While Oracle has a duty to protect their trademarks, this type of legal bludgeoning underscores a historical problem that has been left unaddressed for too long: JavaScript is a terrible name for the thing being described.

      It has nothing to do with Java, an actual product developed by Sun (now owned by Oracle). JavaScript was developed at Mozilla, and the name was changed during beta releases of Netscape Navigator 2.0 from “LiveScript” to “JavaScript.” It has, for some time, caused confusion among casual web users about the difference between Java and JavaScript. Given that ECMAScript is also a trademarked term, it seems best to revert to calling the language “LiveScript” to undercut trademark-related legal posturing.

      [...]

      Oracle declined to comment on this story.

    • New PyPI launched

      The new PyPI has been launched. Browser traffic and API calls (including “pip install”) have been redirected from the old pypi.python.org to the new site. The old PyPI will shut down on April 30. LWN covered the new PyPI last week.

    • Pip 10.0 has been released

      The release of pip 10.0 has been announced. Some highlights of this release include the removal of Python 2.6 support, limited PEP 518 support (with more to come), a new “pip config” command, and other improvements.

    • Understanding metrics and monitoring with Python
    • A new package index for Python

      The Python Package Index (PyPI) is the principal repository of libraries for the Python programming language, serving more than 170 million downloads each week. Fifteen years after PyPI launched, a new edition is in beta at pypi.org, with features like better search, a refreshed layout, and Markdown README files (and with some old features removed, like viewing GPG package signatures). Starting April 16, users visiting the site or running pip install will be seamlessly redirected to the new site. Two weeks after that, the legacy site is expected to be shut down and the team will turn toward new features; in the meantime, it is worth a look at what the new PyPI brings to the table.

    • Spyder – The Scientific Python IDE for Data Science

      I don’t know how many of our readers are research scientists, data analysts, etc. but today, we introduce an IDE that is ideal for Python development and it goes by the name of Spyder.

      Spyder is an Open Source IDE written in Python for Python development with a focus on research, data analysis, and scientific package creation. It boasts a well-planned User Interface with interactive options, customizable layouts, and toggle-able sections.

      Its features include a multi-language editor with automatic code completion, real-time code analysis, go-to definitions, etc. It also contains a history log, developer tools, a documentation viewer, a variable explorer, and an interactive console, among other perks.

Leftovers
  • Science
    • Rampage may stoke CRISPR fears, but scientists say it could be educational, too

      “In a sense, it’s flattering that Hollywood is interested in CRISPR technology enough to make it the premise of a movie,” Liu says. It’s even more flattering for scientists who are fans of the people in those movies. “If The Rock is really interested in learning more about CRISPR, you can tell him to reach out to me,” Liu adds. “I’m happy to give him a CRISPR lecture.”

  • Hardware
    • Facebook Is Working To Build Its Own Chips For Its Hardware Projects

      Facebook is following the footsteps of its fellow tech giants and planning to build its own chips. This move comes in the wake of recent efforts from Google, Apple, and Amazon reduce their reliance on Intel and Qualcomm.

    • Facebook is building a team to design its own chips
    • Facebook Is Forming a Team to Design Its Own Chips

      The postings didn’t make it clear what kind of use Facebook wants to put the chips to other than the broad umbrella of artificial intelligence. A job listing references “expertise to build custom solutions targeted at multiple verticals including AI/ML,” indicating that the chip work could focus on a processor for artificial intelligence tasks.

    • Digital remains should be treated like physical ones [iophk: “unlike most physical artifacts, storage devices lose data quickly without active maintenance up to and including regular migrations: magnetic loses in a matter of years, SSD loses in a matter of months”]

      To date, there has been little effort to build frameworks that ensure ethical usage of our internet activity for commercial purposes. However, new research from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) suggests that the guidelines used to manage human remains in archaeological exhibitions could be used as a framework to regulate the growing DAI industry, and make the commercial use of digital remains more ethical.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Goldman Sachs Analyst Asks Whether Curing Patients Is A Sustainable Business Model

      Pharma companies generally like to give the impression that their business is a win-win kind of thing: you get better, they get sales. But sometimes the mask slips, and the real strategy that lies behind the benevolent exterior is revealed. For example, back in 2014 we wrote about the CEO of Bayer, one of the biggest drug companies in the world, openly admitting it developed medicines for rich patients in the West that can pay high prices, not for those in places like India that need them just as much, but can’t afford them.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • A 10-Minute Trial, a Death Sentence: Iraqi Justice for ISIS Suspects

      Iraq is ramping up prosecutions of thousands of people accused of supporting the Islamic State, handing death sentences to workers, wives and fighters.

    • Return to Ward 17: Making peace with lost comrades

      I was the Iraq bureau chief for Reuters when Namir, 22, and Saeed, 40, were shot dead by a U.S. Apache helicopter on the streets of Baghdad on July 12, 2007, along with 10 other people. The attack grabbed global attention when WikiLeaks released classified U.S. military footage of the incident in 2010. The video, titled “Collateral Murder,” was viewed millions of times.

      I had planned to be in Iraq for the 10th anniversary, to apologise to Namir and Saeed’s families. Instead, unable to cope as the day approached, I was admitted to the Psychological Trauma Recovery Services inpatient unit at Melbourne’s Austin Health. It was my second admission to the facility, known as Ward 17, in less than a year.

    • Belgium Illegally Shipped 96 Tonnes of Sarin Precursor to Syria

      Knack and Syrian Archive reveal today that Belgian companies have violated EU sanctions against Syria, according to the summons of an upcoming lawsuit.

      Based on information found through the UN Comtrade database, freedom of information requests, and confirmed by the Belgian Customs, we can reveal that a criminal case regarding exports of chemicals to Syria has been opened in Antwerp Criminal Court. This case is brought by the Belgian Customs against three Flemish companies, one managing director and one manager, according to court press judge Roland Cassiers citing the summons.

      Since EU sanctions from September 2013 made export licences compulsory for the export of isopropanol to Syria in concentrations of 95% or higher, Syrian Archive and Knack can report that Belgian companies exported 96 tonnes of isopropanol, a sarin precursor, to Syria between 2014 and 2016.

    • How Social Media Built the Case for Trump’s Strike on Syria

      Social media has emerged as a key battleground in the U.S. and Russian media campaign to promote their sharply divergent accounts of chemical weapons in Syria.

      The intelligence assessments presented over the weekend by the United States and France to justify missiles strikes against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb relied to an unusual degree on information gleaned from open source material and social media. Russia, meanwhile, is mustering an army of internet trolls to shift blame for the chemical weapons attack.

    • ‘We are watching you’: Political killings shake Mexico election

      Magda Rubio had just launched her campaign for mayor of a small city in northern Mexico, when a chilling voice came through her cell phone. “Drop out,” the caller warned, “or be killed.”

    • Turkey’s anti-war protesters detained: ‘Everything is a crime’

      “It was 04:00 when the police came beating at my door. ‘Open up! Open up!’ they were shouting,” recalls Denizhan Eren, a 23-year-old college student.

      “As soon as I opened the door, they yelled ‘Lie down!’ They had huge guns and they were wearing balaclavas.”

      Denizhan is one of a number of students from Turkey’s prestigious Bogazici University who have been detained in Istanbul in recent weeks.

      In total 31 students have been detained. While 10 have been freed, eight have been released pending trial and another 13 students are still being held in pre-trial detention.

    • This is the First War Since the Iraq Invasion Where the World Hasn’t Heard From Julian Assange

      In the spring of 2003 when the US and UK commenced their illegal invasion of Iraq, there was no Wikileaks, a free man called Julian Assange was someone no one had heard of, alt-media did not exist and nor did social media as it is understood today.

      In a short 15 years a lot has changed. Independent online media has become a global force and social media allows people to share information and opinions with an ease, scope and impact that was previously unthinkable. News channels like CGTV, RT, Press-TV and Telesur have changed both the online, cable and satellite tv landscape and perhaps most importantly, since 2006 Julian Assange’s Wikileaks has brought to light, information that was never intended to see the light of day – all of which has exposed the lies, manipulation and violence behind the governments taking the world to illegal war after illegal war.

    • Out of 26 Major Editorials on Trump’s Syria Strikes, Zero Opposed

      A survey by FAIR of the top 100 papers in the US by circulation found not a single editorial board opposed to Trump’s April 13 airstrikes on Syria. Twenty supported the strikes, while six were ambiguous as to whether or not the bombing was advisable. The remaining 74 issued no opinion about Trump’s latest escalation of the Syrian war.

      This is fairly consistent with editorial support for Trump’s April 2017 airstrikes against the Syrian government, which saw only one editorial out of 47 oppose the bombing (FAIR.org, 4/11/17). The single paper of dissent from last year, the Houston Chronicle, didn’t publish an editorial on last week’s bombing.

      Seven of the top 10 newspapers by circulation—USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, Chicago Tribune, Newsday and Washington Post—supported the airstrikes. The New York Daily News and San Jose Mercury News offered no opinion, while the New York Times (4/13/18) was ambiguous—mostly lamenting the lack of congressional approval, but not saying that this meant the strikes were illegal or unwise. “Legislation should…set limits on a president’s ability to wage war against states like Syria,” is the Times’ conclusion. A complete list of editorials on the airstrikes can be viewed here.

    • How The Health Community Is Failing Julian Assange, The Victims Of The Douma Attacks, And Three Women Struggling To Feed Their Kids

      Around the world, people are getting sicker, and more and more are dying from entirely preventable causes. We have the answers to why, we just don’t have the will to stop it. In the first of a two part series, Dr Lissa Johnson looks at the greatest cause of global illness and death.

      The Lancet recently published an article identifying the single most important action that health professionals can take to promote “health for all”. The article’s recommendations draw on the findings of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has pinpointed the most pervasive cause of ill-health worldwide.

      However, scarcely a mainstream health professional in the Western world has heeded the advice of The Lancet or the WHA, which is curious. The Lancet is described by its publisher as the world’s leading independent medical journal. The paper’s author, David McCoy, is Professor of Global Public Health at Queen Mary University London, ranked as one of the top universities in the UK. The WHA is widely regarded as the highest health policy-setting body in the world.

    • Special Operations Forces Aiming to Expand

      The 2019 budget request for U.S. Special Operations Command — $13.6 billion — is 10% higher than the 2018 level and is the largest budget request ever submitted by US SOCOM.

      U.S. special operations forces, which are currently deployed in 90 countries, have more than doubled in size from 33,000 personnel in 2001 to around 70,000 personnel in early 2018. Next year’s budget, if approved, would make them larger still.

    • Senior Civil Servants Still Deeply Sceptical of Russian Responsibility for Skripal Poisoning

      Well-placed FCO sources tell me it remains the case that senior civil servants in both the FCO and Home Office remain very sceptical of Russian guilt in the Skripal case. It remains the case that Porton Down scientists have identified the chemical as a “novichok-style” nerve agent but still cannot tie its production to Russia – there are many other possibilities. The effort to identify the actual perpetrator is making no headway, with the police having eliminated by alibi the Russian air passenger on the same flight as Julia Skripal identified as suspicious by MI5 purely on grounds of the brevity of their stay.

    • What is the U.S. Fighting for in Syria?

      The Trump administration delivered several dozen military strikes against Syria purportedly aimed at chemical production and storage facilities. It was an act the international community feared might lead to overt war in Syria between the US, Iran and Russia, but it came off a bit better: the strike seems to have been carefully calibrated, involved care to avoid casualties and seemed largely symbolic in nature. The strikes did not meaningfully change facts on the ground.

      What sense can we make out of all these strategic events in Syria? We encounter a baffling array of players: Syrian troops, Syrian insurgents, jihadis of varying ideologies, Iranians, Russians, Americans, Israelis, Turks, Saudis, Qataris, Emiratis, Shi’ite militias, Iraqis, Kurds, Hizballah—all locked in a deadly dance. But as complex as it may be, this seven-year bloody conflict still continues to pose the very same long-term fundamental questions to US policy in Syria and the region. These questions demand an answer.

    • “I Really Did Kill Those Babies”

      Genene Jones, a Texas nurse long suspected of more than a dozen child murders decades ago but convicted of only one, allegedly confessed. The newly uncovered evidence emerged in a hearing today in which Jones attempted to have five murder charges against her dismissed.

    • Ukraine’s NATO Bid Risks Even Worse U.S.-Russia Ties

      It’s been four years since the hectic “Euromaidan” protest movement culminated in a coup that deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Though civil war grinds on in the eastern half of the country, Ukraine has wandered in and out of American news cycles since the dramatic change of government in Kiev.

      But a more recent development has implications that are rarely explored in American media, despite what it could mean for broader U.S. international relations. Ukraine is vying to take its place as NATO’s newest member state, a move that could seriously escalate tensions between Washington and Moscow beyond their current high point.

      “It’s safe to say that Russia would be, and has been, opposed to NATO membership for Ukraine,” James Carden, former advisor to the State Department’s U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, said in an email exchange.

      Neighboring states such as Ukraine and Georgia, Carden added, “are red lines for Russia and we should take them at their word.”

    • Four Lessons From the Strike on Syria

      The lessons from last weekend’s strike on Syria by the United States of America and two of its allies do not bode well for the future of democracy or the future of peace, says Inder Comar.

      [...]

      Checks and balances are swept away. And the strike now sets further precedent for unilateral executive authority to attack or invade another country based. It is one person, and one person alone, who commands American military might, without scrutiny or later accountability.

    • ‘Absolutely Earth-Shaking’: North and South Korea Reportedly in Talks to Officially End Korean War

      Technically, North and South Korea are still at war, and have been for more than six decades—but an “absolutely earth-shaking” new report on Tuesday indicates the conflict may soon be coming to an end.

      Citing an anonymous South Korean diplomatic official, Munhwa Ilbo—a South Korean daily newspaper—reported that the neighboring countries are hashing out a statement that could officially bring the war to an end later this month, when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are set to meet in person for the first time.

    • North and South Korea reportedly set to announce official end to war

      North and South Korea are in talks to announce a permanent end to the officially declared military conflict between the two countries, daily newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed South Korean official.

      Ahead of a summit next week between North Korean premier Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, lawmakers from the neighboring states were thought to be negotiating the details of a joint statement that could outline an end to the confrontation.

      Kim and Moon could also discuss returning the heavily fortified demilitarized zone separating them to its original state, the newspaper said.

      [...]

      Pyongyang and Seoul have technically been at war since the 1950-1953 Korean conflict ended with a truce — and not a peace treaty. Geopolitical tensions have occasionally flared up since the armistice, although to date both countries have managed to avoid another devastating conflict.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Puerto Rico Hit With Island-Wide Blackout

      Today’s outage marks the first time since the island has suffered a total electrical failure since the Category 4 storm hit on September 20 – leaving many of Puerto Rico’s 40,000 electric customers without reliable power.

    • Why Can’t We Fix Puerto Rico’s Power Grid?

      How’d they get that way? As an invaluable article in IEEE Spectrum points out, tax incentives in the 1970s induced mainland US companies to build factories in the southern part of the island, so Prepa built generating facilities there. In 1996 the tax break expired and the factories left. So today, 70 percent of Puerto Rico’s population lives in the north, around San Juan, and 70 percent of the power generation is in the south. A fragile grid connects the two via tough, mountainous terrain. Scattered rural populations have always had a tenuous connection to that grid. Meanwhile Prepa, hamstrung by billions of dollars of debt, austerity measures, and possible corruption slacked off on maintenance. Hurricane Maria sliced Puerto Rico’s broken-down grid in half.

  • Finance
    • ‘Big bitcoin heist’ suspect escapes prison and flees Iceland ‘on PM’s plane’

      “Prison breaks in Iceland usually mean someone just fled to get drunk,” he said. “The underworlds are tiny and it is extremely difficult to hide, let alone flee the country.”

    • ATMs go dry nationwide; government says needs three days to fix problem
    • Officials: Sharing Economy Booming In China; Success And Challenges Of New Business Models

      The sharing economy is booming, disrupting conventional ways of doing business, creating new jobs, and new headaches for policymakers. China is promoting the sharing economy as a national strategy, as explained during the annual United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) electronic commerce event this week, and illustrated by DiDi Chuxing, a leading Chinese mobile-based transportation platform.

    • Panel: E-Commerce Crucial For Development, Some Eager To Negotiate At WTO
    • Censorship-free social network Memo is built on Bitcoin Cash

      Memo, an on-chain social network developed on the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) blockchain, has launched in alpha testing this week. Developed on the Bitcoin BCH network, the application allows the recording and storage of data on the blockchain through its front-end protocol, tied to individual BCH addresses and keys.

      Using OP_RETURN transactions, users can tether specific information to their profile, in the makings of what could be one of the first social networks for BCH. According to the developer behind Memo, the application aims to create an ‘uncensorable’ way to store data and transactional information, contrary to the model used by online social networks.

    • That’s Not My Brexit!

      That’s not my Brexit…

      …the promised Free Trade Agreements are all too far away.

      That’s my Brexit!

      That one there.

      The one which cannot actually happen.

    • Bitcoin boosted as IMF boss Christine Lagarde praises cryptocurrency and suggests it could transform the way people save and invest

      Bitcoin has received an unexpected boost from Christine Lagarde, after the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) detailed the global benefits of cryptocurrency.

      Ms Lagarde wrote in a blogpost that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin could enable fast and inexpensive transactions, while the underlying blockchain technology could make financial markets safer.

      The price of the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency returned above $8,000 following the publication of Ms Lagarde’s comments, though it is unclear if the gains are directly attributable to the news.

    • Death By a Thousand Tax Cuts

      Every year at this time, US taxpayers (who bother to read news) are treated to a parade of stories about taxes and tax policy. We learn about the citizens who work multiple jobs and pay their taxes, while falling farther and farther behind in an economy that clearly exists to redistribute wealth upwards. We also learn about corporations, the real “welfare queens,” which have used the courts and legislatures to legally avoid paying their fair share of taxes, while demanding subsidies, tax breaks, and the dismantling of labor unions.

      Under the current administration, we are witnessing the deathblows to the economic and social policies of the New Deal, FDR’s plan to save capitalism after the Crash of 29, which created the greatest economic expansion in the world, and with it the largest expansion of civil rights in US history. Tax policy was a core element of this transformation. After a false start or two, the New Deal became wildly successful. Besides the implementation of Social Security through a payroll tax structure, he raised taxes on the highest brackets and decreased or eliminated them on the lowest. He also adopted new monetary policy; FDR moved the US to fiat currency and running deficits. It worked for a long time.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Cuba: President Raúl Castro Stepping Down from Power

      In Cuba, the National Assembly is meeting today to elect a successor for President Raúl Castro, who has announced he’s stepping down this week. The Assembly is widely expected to choose the current vice president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, to be Cuba’s next leader. Raúl Castro is the younger brother of Fidel Castro, who led Cuba for decades following the 1959 revolution. The transition will mark the first time in more than six decades that Cuba will be led by someone outside the Castro family.

    • Comedian Randy Credico says Trump adviser Roger Stone threatened his dog

      New York City comic and ex-radio host Randy Credico says that longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone sent him “scary,” obscenity-filled emails — including one threatening his dog — after he went public disputing Stone’s claim that Credico was his “backchannel” to WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign.

      In a new interview on the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery,” Credico shared with co-hosts Daniel Klaidman and Michael Isikoff email messages he said he had received from Stone in just the last few days.

    • Trump’s Legal Worries Grow as Judge Rejects Effort for President to Review Docs Seized in FBI Raid

      In a potentially major setback for President Trump, a federal judge has rejected efforts from the president to be given first access to documents seized by the FBI last week during raids on the properties of Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, who is being investigated for possible bank and wire fraud. Monday’s court hearing pitted the president against his own Justice Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McKay urged the judge to reject the president’s request. McKay said, “Just because he has a powerful client doesn’t mean he should get special treatment.” The FBI seized 10 boxes of documents and as many as a dozen electronic devices from Cohen. According to press accounts, the Trump administration now views the probe into Cohen as a more serious threat to the president than special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Meanwhile, on Monday, Cohen’s attorneys were forced to reveal Fox News host Sean Hannity was also one of Cohen’s other legal clients. Just last week, Hannity slammed the FBI for raiding Cohen’s office and home, but he never disclosed his ties to Cohen. We speak to Marcy Wheeler, independent journalist who covers national security and civil liberties. She runs the website EmptyWheel.net.

    • The Chinese Communist Party Is Setting Up Cells at Universities Across America

      In July 2017, a group of nine Chinese students and faculty from Huazhong University of Science and Technology participating in a summer program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) formed a Chinese Communist Party branch on the third floor of Hopkins Hall, a campus dormitory.

      [...]

      After the students’ arrival in Illinois, their home university asked the group to set up a temporary party branch and requested that the students hold a viewing party to watch the 19th party plenum in October, the major party planning conference held every five years. (The plenum was the subject of a major global propaganda push, with Chinese embassies and consulates reaching out to Chinese community organizations around the world, asking them to organize events for their members.)

    • British Democracy is Dysfunctional

      A significant proportion of Labour MPs are actively seeking to cause their own party to do badly in forthcoming local elections, with the aim of damaging the leader of that party. To that end they have attacked Jeremy Corbyn relentlessly in a six week crescendo, in parliament and in the entirely neo-liberal owned corporate media, over the Skripal case, over Syria, and over crazy allegations of anti-semitism, again and again and again.

      [...]

      That it is “undemocratic” for party members to select their candidates freely at each election, and it is “democratic” for MP’s to have the guaranteed candidacy for forty years irrespective of their behaviour, is a nonsensical argument, but one to which the neo-liberal media fiercely clings as axiomatic. Meanwhile in the SNP, all MPs have to put themselves forward to party members equally with other candidates for selection at every election. This seems perfectly normal. Indeed every serious democratic system elects people for a fixed term. Labour members do not elect their constituency chairman for life, so why should they elect their parliamentary candidate for life? Why do we keep having general elections rather than voters elect the MP for life?

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Inverting The Expected Order Of Things, German Court Orders Facebook To Reinstate ‘Offensive’ Content

      Germany’s ridiculous hate speech law continues to wreak havoc in the stupidest ways possible. Giving social media companies 24 hours to remove poorly-defined “offensive” content has resulted in proactive removals targeting anything marginally questionable. Official complaints aren’t much better. Government demands for removal have been no less idiotic than proactive deletions by Facebook and Twitter.

      It’s a bad law. The only way bad laws can be followed is badly. Facebook is dealing with something new, thanks to its adherence to its own content policies. It’s an argument over deleted content, but the push/pull tension has been reversed.

    • Russia’s Telegram Ban Is a Fiasco, and It’s Rendering Millions of IP Addresses Inaccessible

      Consequently, when Roskomnadzor blocked 15.8 million Amazon- and Google-owned IPs it also knocked banking services and retail shopping platforms offline.

      That shows the lengths to which the government censors are willing to go to block access to the app, which has refused to cave to the demands of state intelligence officials even after a court approved a ban on the service.

    • Telegram Founder Pledges Millions in Bitcoin For VPNs and “Digital Resistance”

      A massive wave of action to block messaging service Telegram resulted in widespread collateral damage yesterday after Russian authorities ordered millions of IP addresses blocked across the country. But the efforts have only lit a fire under Telegram founder Pavel Durov, who has pledged to donate millions of dollars in bitcoin to VPN providers as part of his “Digital Resistance”.

    • Russia’s Encryption War: 1.8m Google & Amazon IPs Blocked to Silence Telegram

      Russian authorities are attempting to crush messaging platform Telegram. After refusing to hand over its encryption keys so that users can be spied on, last week a court ordered the service to be blocked. Yesterday broad action was taken, with ISPs blocking more than 1.8 million Telegram-utilized IP addresses belonging to Google and Amazon.

    • In Trying To Ban Telegram, Russia Breaks The Internet

      Russia’s war on encryption and privacy has reached an entirely new level of ridiculous. We’ve noted for a while how Putin’s government has been escalating its war on encrypted services and VPNs in the misguided hope of keeping citizens from dodging government surveillance. But things escalated dramatically when the Russian government demanded that encrypted messaging app Telegram hand over its encryption keys to the FSB. After Telegram refused, a Russian court banned the app entirely last Friday, and the Russian government began trying to actually implement it this week.

      It’s not going particularly well.

      Telegram tried to mitigate the ban by moving some of its essential infrastructure to third-party cloud services. But Russian telecom regulator Roskomnadzor responded by blocking upwards of 16 million IP addresses, many belonging to Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud.

    • Facebook blocking fake news is censorship? Hell yeah!

      Diehard supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte or so-called DDS have raised their concerns about Facebook’s recent initiative to partner with fact-checkers and prohibit fake news (as verified by the fact-checkers) from being posted or shared on its social media platform. Some DDS bloggers and even some members of mainstream media have called the initiative censorship.

      But is it really?

      Censorship, according to Wikipedia, is the suppression of speech or information. The basis could be many things but usually it is for content that is found objectionable or harmful by the government or the community.

    • A Google update just created a big problem for anti-censorship tools

      App developers won’t be able to use Google to get around internet censorship anymore. The Google App Engine is discontinuing a practice called domain-fronting, which let services use Google’s network to get around state-level internet blocks.

      A recent change in Google’s network architecture means the trick no longer works. First spotted by Tor developers on April 13th, the change has been rolling out across Google services and threatens to disrupt services for a number of anti-censorship tools, including Signal, GreatFire.org and Psiphon’s VPN services.

    • Pakistani journalists condemn ongoing censorship

      Prominent journalists, editors, columnists and media persons on Wednesday issued a joint-statement to express their concerns and condemn “the ongoing curbs on freedom of expression in Pakistan”.

      The statement was endorsed by prominent journalists and editors including Daily Times Editor Raza Rumi, Daily Times correspondent Marvi Sirmed, BBC Urdu Editor Haroon Rashid, columnist and TV anchor Hamid Mir, columnist Ibn Abdur Rehman, journalist Ahmed Noorani among several others.

    • Journalists sign declaration condemning ongoing censorship fiasco

      Over fifty working journalists, editors, columnists, media persons and media freedom organisation representatives on Wednesday expressed serious concern over the ongoing curbs on freedom of expression in the country.

      Condemning the ongoing censorship fiasco in a declaration, the journalists said that beginning with a crackdown against selected media groups and banning the broadcast of various channels, there was now an enhanced pressure on media houses to refrain from covering certain rights-based movements.

    • Censorship for social media

      New developments need new policies. We have some or the other kind of censorship in all media today, be it newspapers, television news, movies and even posters and billboards on the road. There is a valid and well thought out reason behind it. Most of the people believe what gets reported without putting any second thoughts on it. So it is possible that people’s reactions are directed in a certain way by the media and that is exactly the reason why censorship exists.

      Now look at social media. The reach of social media is more than any other form of media today. But, there is no censorship. Anybody is allowed to post anything whether it is true or false, good or bad. No controls exist, no questions are asked and there is zero accountability. Are we surprised then by what happened in the Cambridge Analytica case? The way people reacted to the Kathua and Asifa rape cases in India? Weren’t these bound to happen?

    • Anti-abortion extremists keep crying censorship to raise money

      If there’s one thing Republicans love more than pretending they’re being victimized by liberal elites, it’s raising money off this inaccurate claim — a tendency demonstrated clearly during recent congressional hearings on the activities of Facebook. During these hearings, Republican members of Congress elevated various overinflated right-wing grievances against social media companies (such as claims of anti-abortion censorship and anti-Christian bias) in order to pressure the platform into allowing greater promotion of inflammatory or inaccurate content. In particular, they seized on pro-Trump YouTubers Diamond and Silk, who have actively lied about Facebook censoring them and then used the attention to raise money. As close watchers of the anti-abortion movement know, this tactic of crying censorship to garner attention and raise funds is a favorite of anti-choice actors. Here are a few that have recently employed this practice:

    • It’s Time to Tackle GAFAM and Their World

      Last Monday, we launched our class action campaign against GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft). Until May 25th (the day complaints will be brought to the CNIL – the French Data Protection Authority), anyone living in France can join us on gafam.laquadrature.net. These first steps will, over the long term, pave the way to steadily counter the world they are trying to force on us.

    • What censorship?

      Michael Briguglio sought to belittle the Front Against Censorship by calling it a “front for censorship” in an article bearing the same title (April 16).

      For starters, Briguglio might not be aware that the Front Against Censorship resisted the Media and Defamation Bill when it was first introduced and that it was the Front which negotiated the substantial changes that turned this Bill into one of the most liberal statutes in Europe.

      Thanks to the Front’s efforts, criminal libel was removed, the proposed doubling of damages for civil libel was scrapped, garnishees are no longer possible and the final nail in the coffin of the artistic censorship regime was hammered with the removal of obscene libel.

    • Baltic translations for Fox TV undergo Russian censorship

      The Latvian National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) has been informed about this but does not see a reason to intervene in this situation.

      NEPLP spokesman Kalvis Gavars told LETA that Fox is a TV channel in Spain’s jurisdiction and its programs are rebroadcast in Latvia’s territory, which means that the translation issues have to be dealt with between the holder of the programs’ rights and the translators, while the quality of the translations is outside the National Electronic Mass Media Council’s area of competence.

      [...]

      Anda Rozukalne, a media expert and associate professor at Riga Stradins University, said that Russia uses any channels and tools, including translation, to distort information wherever it can.

      She admitted, however, that under the current regulation NEPLP is unable to reverse an intermediary’s requirements regarding the TV channel’s content.

    • China Shuts Down Bytedance’s Parody Website

      Chinese authorities have permanently shut down jokes and parody application Neihan Duanzhi. The operation is part of the Toutiao news aggregation group, that is backed by Bytedance Technology.

      Zhang Yiming, Toutiao’s CEO published a letter of apology. He said that he was “sincerely sorry for publishing a product that collided with core Socialist values.” The app had some 17 million users, and was alleged to have carried material that was vulgar or pornographic.

    • Widening net of China censors puts tech on notice

      The widening net of Chinese censors have put tech on notice. Jokes and gay content are disappearing from the web. It’s a fresh sign that Beijing is policing beyond political discourse. For the $26 billion microblog Weibo and peers, appeasing both users and regulators will get harder.

    • Chinese social network backtracks on gay censorship after massive protest
    • It’s Still (Just About) OK to Be Gay in China
    • China’s Weibo site backtracks on gay censorship after outcry
    • Homosexuality Not an Illness, Chinese Say
    • China Approves First Gay Romance For Theatrical Release
    • Following Questionable Election, Honduran Government Debuts New Censorship Law
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Privacy as an Afterthought: ICANN’s Response to the GDPR

      Almost three years ago, the global domain name authority ICANN chartered a working group to consider how to build a replacement for the WHOIS database, a publicly-accessible record of registered domain names. Because it includes the personal information of millions of domain name registrants with no built-in protections for their privacy, the legacy WHOIS system exposes registrants to the risk that their information will be misused by spammers, identity thieves, doxxers, and censors.

      But at the same time, the public availability of the information contained in the WHOIS database has become taken for granted, not only by its regular users, but by a secondary industry that repackages and sells access to its data, providing services like bulk searches and reverse lookups for clients as diverse as marketers, anti-abuse experts, trademark attorneys, and law enforcement authorities.

      The working group tasked with replacing this outdated system, formally known as the Next Generation gTLD RDS to Replace WHOIS PDP Working Group did not get far. Despite holding 90 minute weekly working meetings for more than two years, deep divisions within the group have resulted in glacial progress, even as the urgency of its work has increased. A key privacy advocate within that Working Group, EFF Pioneer Award winner Stephanie Perrin, ended up resigning from the group in frustration this March, saying “I believe this process is fundamentally flawed and does not reflect well on the multi-stakeholder model.”

    • NSA grant will fund UNG summer camp for future cyber warriors

      Thanks to a $94,000 grant from the National Security Agency’s (NSA) GenCyber program, the National Cyber Warrior Academy (NCWA) at the University of North Georgia (UNG) will again host area high school students whose career interests lie in cyber operations or security.

    • Second Cambridge Analytica whistleblower says ‘sex compass’ app gathered more Facebook data beyond the 87 million we already knew about

      The 87 million Facebook accounts harvested by Cambridge Analytica (CA) in a massive data breach were probably just the tip of the iceberg.

      That’s the written testimony CA’s former Business Development Director Brittany Kaiser gave to Britain’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMSC) on Tuesday.
      She told British lawmakers, who are conducting an inquiry into fake news and the Facebook data scandal, that CA used numerous questionnaires to gather data.

      These quizzes, Kaiser said, were in addition to the now infamous Thisisyourdigitallife personality quiz CA conducted with University of Cambridge psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan’s firm Global Science Research to harvest information from 87 million Facebook accounts.

    • Facebook Data Leak “Much Greater Than 87 Million,” New Whistleblower Reveals

      While numerous concerns had been raised over the uninformed data collection of over 87 million Facebook users, the actual number of people affected may be far more.

      The CA data breach came to light when the company’s former director of research Christopher Wylie took charge and went into Edward Snowden-mode to break the news. It resulted in Facebook losing loads of money and its CEO testifying before the US Congress.

    • Inside Cambridge Analytica’s Virtual Currency Plans

      The embattled political data firm Cambridge Analytica quietly sought to develop its own virtual currency in recent months through a so-called initial coin offering, a novel fund-raising method that has come under growing scrutiny by financial regulators around the world.

      The offering was part of a broader, but still very private push that the firm was making into the nascent world of cryptocurrencies over the last year.

      Much like its acquisition of Facebook data to build psychological profiles of voters, the new business line pushed the firm into murky ethical and legal situations. Documents and emails obtained by The New York Times show that Cambridge Analytica’s efforts to help promote another group’s digital token, the Dragon Coin, associated the firm with a famous gangster in Macau who has gone by the nickname Broken Tooth.

    • Cambridge Analytica Planned Its Own Cryptocurrency For Selling Your Data

      A lot of bad things happening today on the web are tied to a single name: Cambridge Analytica. The firm–and Facebook–was first criticised for obtaining and using data of 87 million users to build psychological profiles for political campaigns.

      Just recently, the company’s former employee Brittany Kaiser, who’s the latest whistleblower in town, revealed that the Facebook data leak might be far more in numbers.

    • Russia’s Telegram ban is a big, convoluted mess

      If you want to know the reason I’m not on WhatsApp with its other 1.5 billion users, the answer is Telegram. To people unfamiliar with it, I like to describe Telegram as simply WhatsApp without any of the icky data sharing with Facebook. It has been my favorite, most reliable messaging client, and its platform-agnostic design means I can access my messages across iPhones, Android devices, and desktop browsers. I’m a big fan of Telegram, which is part of why its present ban in its native Russia troubles me.

      Telegram got its start, and its initial funding, under the premise of providing a messaging tool that was shielded from the inquisitive glare of Russian spy agencies. Its effectiveness in pursuing that original goal has been demonstrated this month with the ruling by a Russian court that Telegram should be banned in the country, owing to the app’s makers refusing to hand over encryption keys to the Russian government.

    • Google, card lobby want Aadhaar to fail: UIDAI to Supreme Court

      Appearing for the Unique Identity Authority of India, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi told a CJI-headed Constitution bench that a campaign had been unleashed that Aadhaar should’ve been like smart cards, a Europe-based commercial venture. “If Aadhaar succeeds, smart cards will be out of business. Google does not want it. Smart card lobby does not want Aadhaar to succeed. That’s why these allegations are being made,” he said.

    • I was wrong. Too much technology is ruining lives
    • Oblivious DNS could protect your internet traffic against snooping

      The Princeton team developed what it calls Oblivious DNS (ODNS), which protects user data not only by encrypting it, but also by separating what different nodes in the DNS chain are aware of, making it much harder, if not impossible, to snoop on users.

      And they’ve done it all without requiring a single change to the structure of DNS.

    • Facebook admits tracking users and non-users off-site

      In a blog post, Facebook’s product management director, David Baser, wrote that the company tracked users and non-users across websites and apps for three main reasons: [...]

    • Facebook Is Steering Users Away From Privacy Protections
    • A flaw-by-flaw guide to Facebook’s new GDPR privacy changes

      Facebook is about to start pushing European users to speed through giving consent for its new GDPR privacy law compliance changes. It will ask people to review how Facebook applies data from the web to target them with ads, and surface the sensitive profile info they share. Facebook will also allow European and Canadian users to turn on facial recognition after six years of the feature being blocked there. But with a design that encourages rapidly hitting the “Agree” button, a lack of granular controls, a laughably cheatable parental consent request for teens and an aesthetic overhaul of Download Your Information that doesn’t make it any easier to switch social networks, Facebook shows it’s still hungry for your data.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Facebook among tech firms to sign ‘digital Geneva convention’

      Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, has been the driving force behind the accord. He has argued for months that the tech industry needs “a digital Geneva convention that will commit governments to protecting civilians from nation-state attacks in times of peace”.

    • Who Killed Journalist Tyron Browne?

      According to the PUL, the killing of Tyron has increased the level of fear in the journalism community in Liberia and has further strengthened the case for self-censorship in the traditional journalism sphere in Liberia.

    • In the line of fire

      But the record of Commonwealth countries concerning the rising number of killings of journalists points to a failure by authorities in some member states to protect the lives of journalists targeted for their work. UN statistics show that in all but a few cases the killers are shielded from facing justice by a climate of judicial impunity. Where is the ‘rule of law’ in that?

    • Passenger says Uber driver locked the doors, tried to take her to hotel

      “Hey @Uber your driver was taking me to the airport. He said he was going to ‘take me to a hotel’ and got off the highway. We got to a stop light. I started yelling ‘let me out of the f—ing car’ and he wouldn’t unlock the doors,” she tweeted.

      [...]

      Leong called another Uber to take her to the airport.

    • The Trump Administration Is Trying to Forcibly Send a Detained US Citizen to Another Country

      For more than seven months, the Trump administration has been unlawfully detaining an American citizen in Iraq. Rather than charge him with a crime or set him free, the government wants to transfer him, involuntarily, to a third country. The ACLU is going to court on Thursday to stop the transfer and fight the government’s dangerous claims that it has the authority to violate an American’s constitutional rights.

      The Trump administration claims that the citizen, who was detained in September by Kurdish forces in Syria and transferred to U.S. custody, is a fighter for ISIS — an allegation he denies. The ACLU began representing him in January after a federal court ordered the government to allow us unmonitored access to him. This came after the government insisted, over several months, that it did not need to respect the man’s wishes to challenge his detention or to speak with a lawyer.

    • “Motivated by justice”: defending the world’s courageous people

      Julian first reached out to myself and a colleague of mine, the Australian human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, in around September 2010. This was just before WikiLeaks was about to publish the Iraq war logs. Julian was in London, preparing that release, which came several months later, at the end of November. He was working with the Guardian and a group of other international newspapers.

      It was around the time when there was concern about what might happen in Sweden, where there was an open investigation into sexual allegations that had previously being dropped. It now seemed that Julian might have to answer those allegations. So, Julian required assistance and advice. It was also the time, of course, that Chelsea Manning was arrested, and a US criminal investigation in grand jury had been announced.

    • Bundestag warns it would be illegal for Spain to have spied on Puigdemont

      The Bundestag, the German federal parliament, in response to a question from deputy Andrej Hunko (Die Linke), has warned that if the CNI (Spanish security service) spied on president Carles Puigdemont in Germany, that would have been illegal. A legal report from the chamber makes this clear and warns that it could have consequences.

      “Action by sovereign authorities without the consent from the German state entails several legal consequences: foreign secret service operations against the Federal Republic are punishable in accordance with § 99 of the Criminal Code. Spying on foreigners in the Federal Republic fulfils this criteria. The unauthorised collection of data can fulfil the criteria of a misdemeanour or felony according to the Federal Data Protection Act,” the report says.

    • This Law Makes It Nearly Impossible to Police the NYPD

      Leaked NYPD documents provide a necessary window into the secret world of how the department deals with abusive officers.

      This week, Buzzfeed released a trove of leaked records for 1,800 New York Police Department employees who were charged with misconduct between 2011 and 2015. These records do not make for easy reading, but they are undoubtedly in the public interest.

      For instance, the public has a clear interest in knowing that at least 319 NYPD employees were allowed to keep their jobs, even after committing offenses that NYPD leaders have always assured us were fireable. Those pushing for more police in schools in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, might want to know that three school safety officers found guilty of using excessive force against students were punished with just five lost vacation days. And anyone concerned about false information leading to wrongful convictions might like to know that more than 100 employees accused of “lying on official reports, under oath, or during an internal affairs investigation” were punished with as little as a few days of lost vacation.

      Much of this information would have been made publicly available up until recently. But in 2016 the NYPD suddenly decided, after decades of posting so-called police “personnel orders,” that doing so violated section 50-a of the New York State Civil Rights Law, which limits the release of certain police personnel records. The law says that personnel records used to evaluate an officer’s performance toward continued employment or promotion are confidential, and it’s constantly and increasingly used as a tool by the police establishment to thwart police accountability and transparency statewide.

    • In 5-4 Vote, Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Mandating Deportation for Some Crimes

      In a victory for the immigrant rights movement, the Supreme Court has struck down a law requiring the mandatory deportation of lawful permanent residents who are convicted of some crimes, saying the law was unconstitutionally vague. Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch sided with the liberal justices, writing, “Vague laws invite arbitrary power.” The case centered on a Filipino man named James Garcia Dimaya, who had been a lawful permanent resident of the United States since 1992. After being convicted of residential burglary, the Obama administration sought to deport him for having committed an “aggravated felony” under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling will mean that lower-level offenses are less likely to trigger the automatic deportation of lawful permanent residents.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Former FCC Broadband Advisory Panel Chair Arrested For Fraud

      For a few months now we’ve been noting how a “broadband deployment advisory panel” (BDAC) the FCC created to “solve the digital divide” has been plagued by scandal, resignation, and accusations of corruption. The panel was created last year to purportedly advise the Trump FCC on the best approach(es) to improving broadband cost and availability. But it didn’t take long for reports to emerge that the panel was little more than a who’s who of entrenched telecom industry interests, and since its creation its been plagued by a steady stream of disgruntled departures.

    • Another Survey Shows Massive Bipartisan Opposition To Net Neutrality Repeal

      While giant ISPs like Comcast (and the politicians and regulators paid to love them) have been very successful framing net neutrality as a partisan issue to sow dissent and stall policy progress and consensus, the reality is that net neutrality continues to have overwhelming, bipartisan support. Survey after survey have shown that the overwhelming majority of Americans support net neutrality, and for most people preventing natural monopolies from being bullies (at least until somebody has the courage to embrace policies that encourage broadband competition) is a no brainer.

      This week another survey highlighted how opposition to Ajit Pai and the Trump FCC’s net neutrality repeal is overwhelming. According to a new study out of the University of Maryland (pdf), 86% of the country opposes the FCC’s decision to roll back net neutrality protections at ISP lobbyist behest. And again that opposition is bipartisan, with 82% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats opposing the FCC’s obnoxiously-named “restoring internet freedom” repeal.

  • DRM
    • Meet the latest DRM Drones

      The latest round of opposition comments in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) exemption process shows which government entities oppose user freedom.

      Back during the last round of the DMCA anti-circumvention exemptions process, we wrote about the DRM Drones who were opposing exemptions. These companies, along with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), were trying to stifle the work of activists working to claw back a bit of freedom in the face of the DMCA’s draconian provisions. A few years later, and it’s a new round of the exemptions process, with perhaps some new faces, but the same old problem.

      As we’ve often said, Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) is not about copyright, it’s about control. And these opposition comments truly demonstrate that that is the case. The DMCA is allegedly meant to aid in copyright enforcement, but goes about its task in the worst way possible, creating legal penalties for circumventing DRM. By itself, DRM is harmful to users, who all have the right to control their own computing. Adding legal penalties only compounds the harm of DRM. Even if DRM were an effective tool for enforcing copyright (and if copyright were not already extremely excessive), it is unethical to place such onerous control over users.

      So what does the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for that matter, care about enforcing copyright? The reality is that they don’t, but they realize the nefarious power of DRM to lock down and control users for any purpose, using copyright as an excuse. Like the EPA, the FDA and the FAA are also trying to use DRM to enforce the laws and regulations they are tasked with upholding. The cause the FDA and FAA have chosen to champion is the ability to force users to buy particular feedstock for 3D printers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Cost remains top priority and concern for most patent owners in Taiwan [Ed: Microsoft feeds these NPEs]

      She specifically mentioned Microsoft’s Azure IP protection platform as providing a good potential option when the company faces NPE assertions and needs to counter. She also suggested that her firm has a similar partnership with ITRI, a government backed R&D lab.

      [...]

      TSMC, the world’s largest chip foundry, seems to be an exception that proves the rule when it comes to tight patent budgets in Taiwan. Donald McKenna, director of R&D legal division, stated that as the biggest player in its market, TSMC does not have to watch its portfolio spend as cautiously as some others. This is in part because in a cutthroat market, patents are seen as a key ingredient to keeping TSMC competitive. It is no surprise, then, to see TSMC appear once again in the top 10 recipients of US patent grants. McKenna says this strategy underlines TSMC top management’s solid grasp of IP value.

    • The Navy is Accused of Hacking $ 600 Million in Software

      The US Navy faces two processes: one for installing software without a license and another for using ship designs with patents.

      [...]

      In parallel, the US Navy was also denounced by the FastShip company, which claims more than 6.5 million dollars in damages for using the helmet design patented by this firm without paying any kind of rights.

      This second case has had tragic experiences for this company, which patented a new design for the hull of ships that increased its buoyancy and reduced friction with water, which in addition to the US Navy says that its intellectual property was also stolen by Lockheed Martin, one of the main military contractors of the United States.

    • IP rights – what does the future hold after Brexit?

      There are no provisions relating to patents, which is unsurprising as the existing European patent system is not administered by the European Union. The European Patent Office (EPO) is a separate international body; therefore, UK patent protection will continue to be available through the EPO regardless of how Brexit proceeds.

    • TIPO introduces new hearing system for invalidation proceedings

      TIPO expects at least 10 hearings to be held this year to help determine whether the Patent Act should be amended (ie, the number of invalidation cases filed for hearings this year may affect the duration of the pilot programme and any future amendments to the Patent Act).

      According to the director of TIPO Patent Division III, with inquiries to suitable patent invalidation case parties docketed, no hearings have yet been scheduled as they require the consent of both parties.

    • Trademarks
      • Mexico amends its trade mark opposition system

        Legislation that amends Mexico’s trade mark opposition system is expected to improve the still-new system but Mexico’s IP practitioners say many issues remain, reports Ellie Mertens

        Legislation that amended Mexico’s trade mark opposition system passed Congress on April 3, and is on schedule to come into force in June.

      • What makes a family? Bridgestone opposition two tyred, fell flat

        In respect of families of marks, the Bridgestone decision tells us that mere evidence of use is insufficient. First, use must be made of trade marks sharing common elements, which consumers may regard as belonging to a family. On the facts of this case, the evidence of use – where there were only two marks – was insufficient to substantiate the existence of a family. Second, over and above demonstrating use, the evidence must show that the common elements take consumers home to the same source. The opponents in this case had failed to identify themselves to consumers as constituting a single source. At the end of the day, it is the average consumer who will decide whether there exists a family of marks in the marketplace, and steps should be taken to educate the public of such matters.

    • Copyrights
      • Facebook is testing a way to let people watch video premieres in Facebook Live
      • Facebook lets creators turn video premieres into live events

        The initial testers include an unspecified mix of creators, publishers and shows, but the feature should be available “more broadly” in the near future.

      • Hollywood Studios Get ISP Blocking Order Against Rarbg in India

        Hollywood continues to expand its blocking efforts around the globe. Most recently, several major studios including Disney Enterprises and Warner Bros obtained a blocking order against the popular torrent site Rarbg in India. More than twenty ISPs must block the site, while the Government is instructed to help enforce the measures.

      • There Are Several Good Reasons To End Entertainment Industry Subsidies, But Blasphemy Isn’t One Of Them

        There are a lot of arguments to be made against subsidizing movie/TV studios. The best argument is this: the payouts to visiting studios rarely pay off for local taxpayers. Politicians love the side benefits — rubbing elbows with producers, actors, and other studio personnel — but there’s nothing to be gained financially by paying a studio to film in your town. In one case, a city was promised 3,600 additional jobs. In reality, only 200 jobs materialized, all but 14 of those temporary construction work.

        Then there’s the argument against using public funding to prop up an out-of-town industry. If there are extra tax dollars around, they’re better spent locally, where they’ll do the most good. Subsidizing businesses is always problematic. It skews incentives and allows governments to play favorites using the public’s money.

        But the worst argument someone can make against subsidies is this one: subsidies should be content-based. Two members of the clergy and a state politician are bent out of shape because a subsidized TV series shoot resulted in the depiction of a historical figure in compromising positions.

      • Stupid Copyright: MLB Shuts Down Twitter Account Of Guy Who Shared Cool MLB Gifs

        Another day, another story of copyright gone stupid. This time it involves Major League Baseball, which is no stranger to stupid copyright arguments. Going back fifteen years, we wrote about Major League Baseball claiming that other websites couldn’t even describe professional baseball games. There was a legal fight over this and MLB lost. A decade ago, MLB was shutting down fan pages for doing crazy things like “using a logo” of their favorite sports team. And, of course, like all major professional sports leagues, MLB has long engaged in copyfraud by claiming that “any account of this game, without the express written consent of Major League Baseball is prohibited”, which is just false. MLB has also made up ridiculous rules about how much reporters can post online at times, restricting things that they have no right to actually restrict.

        The latest seems particularly stupid. Following on some sort of silly spat in which a guy named Kevin Clancy at Barstool Sports (the same brainiacs who wanted to sue the NFL for having sorta, not really, similar merchandise) got pissed off at a popular Twitter account called @PitchingNinja run by a guy named Rob Friedman, who would tweet out GIFs and videos of interesting pitches from MLB games. Apparently, the dudebro Clancy from Barstool sports pointed out that Friedman was violating the made up rules that MLB has on how much someone is allowed to share on social media, leading a ton of Clancy’s fans to “report” Friedman. Twitter shut down Friedman’s account — leading said dudebro, Clancy, to celebrate.

      • Pirate Party Urges Swedish Govt to Stop ‘Copyright Troll’ Invasion

        The Swedish Pirate Party is calling on Justice Minister Morgan Johansson to put a halt to the wave of threatening piracy letters that have swept the country in recent months. The party likens the so-called copyright trolling campaigns to extortion and wants local courts to raise the evidence bar.

The Patent Microcosm, Patent Trolls and Their Pressure Groups Incite a USPTO Director Against the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and Section 101/Alice

Thursday 19th of April 2018 11:27:26 AM

Trying to make it sound like patent maximalism is a patriotic duty

Summary: As one might expect, the patent extremists continue their witch-hunt and constant manipulation of USPTO officials, whom they hope to compel to become patent extremists themselves (otherwise those officials are defamed, typically until they’re fired or decide to resign)

THE US Supreme Court, SCOTUS, won’t stop PTAB (based on Oil States predictions) and it stands firmly behind Alice. So the patent extremists now lean hard on the USPTO, in particular its new Director, who himself came from the patent microcosm.

We wish to remind readers that patent lawyers make a living out of intimidation; they are bullying, threatening and suing people. They’re quite often sociopaths, so their attitude towards USPTO officials (or publishers like me whom they SLAPP) is consistent with their occupation. It’s just what they’re trained to do; colleagues and classmates of theirs are largely the same.

“We wish to remind readers that patent lawyers make a living out of intimidation; they are bullying, threatening and suing people.”“No Oil States Decision Today from the Supreme Court,” one patent maximalist bemoaned a couple of days ago as if there’s a chance they’ll get their way (abolishing PTAB or its IPRs). Watch this anti-PTAB site doing its marketing. These people are attempting to make a business by dancing on a grave.

A couple of days ago CCIA wrote about yesterday’s hearing, in which Director Iancu faced some grilling over the sanity of the patent system. To quote the CCIA (which generally represents technology companies):

Tomorrow, members of the Judiciary Committee will have the opportunity to point out to Director Iancu that predictability, stability, and positivity are in fact already here, in large part due to the implementation of IPR and § 101. Instead, the Director’s focus should be on improving examination and on continuing to implement successful Congressionally-created programs such as IPR.

[...]

Director Iancu made a reasonable point in his speech—all too often, the discussion gets lost in the flaws of the patent system and fails to identify its successes. As a patent attorney, hearing inventors discuss some of the truly creative and novel ideas they came up with is a joy, and their creations contribute to a better society. A full discussion of the patent system must include recognition of the successes represented by these new innovations. As Director Iancu is fond of saying, the cure for cancer will almost certainly pass through the doors of the USPTO someday.

But at the same time, in order to make sure that innovation continues, in order to make sure that that cure for cancer can be created to pass through those doors, we need to identify the areas where the Office must improve. We can’t focus on the positive aspects of the system to the exclusion of the negatives. Only this week, it became apparent that one out of every twelve inventions created by a woman won’t receive a patent when it would have if a man had created it. There are a series of longstanding issues, highlighted by the GAO’s 2016 report, identifying ways in which poor quality patents can harm innovation and suggesting steps the PTO could take to address quality, steps which—to a large degree—have not been implemented. In order to make sure the patent system continues to be successful, we must always seek to improve it, and that is achieved by identifying and fixing its flaws.

More specifically, one positive aspect of the patent system that deserves recognition is the inter partes review process itself. Far from the “death squad” critics describe, IPR is a fair process with results that have been overwhelmingly upheld on appeal. Most patents—even litigated patents—will never face an IPR petition. And of those that do, the majority—58%—will remain completely unchanged, with an additional 5% upheld in part.3

Ensuring the success of the patent system requires acknowledging its flaws and seeking to fix them. A focus on positivity, without that balance, would ignore flaws that harm innovation.

Engine, which represents interests similar to those of CCIA, cited “STRONGER Patents Act Makes Startups Weaker” and wrote: “At @senjudiciary hearing, @USPTO Director says he is meeting with stakeholders to discuss @ChrisCoons’s #STRONGERAct. This bill is terrible for #startups. Join us in STRONGLY opposing this bill.”

This bill is probably going nowhere (same as a year ago) and we barely heard anything about it for nearly a month. But it’s better to be prudent and respond to Coons. He is in effect fronting for the patent extremists.

“Notice how software patents are being named/referred to (by buzzwords like “AI” that nontechnical politicians neither understand nor care for).”The patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, wrote: “Sen Coons at Iancu hearing – “The legislative branch has an obligation to act on 101″ [] Sen Harris asks Director Iancu to commit to issuing updated 101 guidance within 90 days (specifically how it applies to AI)… Iancu agrees to compromise to provide Committee with update on PTO’s 101 progress [] That request from Sen Harris came after v interesting back and forth on software patentability and specifically the algorithms that underpin AI…”

Notice how software patents are being named/referred to (by buzzwords like “AI” that nontechnical politicians neither understand nor care for).

Later came the obligatory cherry-picking of quotes from Watchtroll (the patent extremists link to it [1, 2]), titled to quote Director Iancu as saying that Section 101 is an issue “we must all address” (the word “address” does not mean very much, it is vague).

Section 101 is absolutely fine, but Iancu was surrounded (or hounded like a hostage) by propaganda from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This is how Watchtroll started his screed:

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) lead off for the Democrats after Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made a brief opening statement. Coons rather quickly moved his remarks toward the recent report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which now ranks the U.S. patent system 12th in the world. “One cause is the impact of the new post grant proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board,” Coons said. “The current review system is systematically biased against patent owners based on statistics from its first five years.”

Dennis Crouch, another patent maximalist, gave a long transcript. Senator Coons is basically staging a coup for patent trolls. He is trying to get rid of PTAB and incite Iancu against it, as well as against Section 101. From Crouch’s introduction:

New USPTO Director Andrei Iancu testified in Congress on April 18 for the first time in his new official capacity — this time before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Director must certainly be a visionary — as the chief guide of U.S. intellectual property policy. At the same time, the Director is head of a multi-billion-dollar agency with 12,000+ employees.

Although not speaking for the Senate as a whole, Senator Coons kicked-off the hearing with a statement that AIA Trials: “The current review system is systematically biased against patent owners.” From Senator Coon’s perspective, the AIA was designed to give the USPTO Director authority to “fine-tune” the AIA trial proceedings without further congressional actions — and that Director Iancu should take this opportunity to correct the imbalance.

One key statement from Director Iancu is that he is ready to work with Congress on legislative solutions to the “uncertainty” created by Supreme Court 101 jurisprudence.

A lot of pressure is on Iancu; the patent maximalists won’t leave him alone. There’s also a case from about a fortnight ago, Knowles Elecs. LLC v Iancu. Joseph Robinson and Robert Schaffer from Watchtroll brought it up one day before the hearing and said:

Knowles Elecs. LLC v. Iancu, No. 2016-1954, 2018 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 6, 2018) (Before Newman, Clevenger, and Wallach, J.) (Opinion for the court, Wallach, J.) (Dissenting opinion, Newman, J.).

Knowles appealed the inter partes reexamination decision of the Board, which affirmed an examiner’s finding that certain claims were anticipated while other claims would have been obvious over various prior art references. The third-party requester declined to defend the judgment in its favor. The Director of the USPTO intervened to defend the Board’s decision, pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 143. On appeal, the Court permitted the Director to intervene and affirmed the Board’s decision.

Watchtroll’s obsession with brainwashing Iancu is a problem because that site already bullied Michelle Lee, having unsuccessfully attempted to lobby her (beforehand). Watchtroll still claims to be reading Iancu’s mind and tries to influence him (IAM tries to make him IAMcu). In another couple of new posts Watchtroll brought up Drew Hirshfeld. It’s like they follow him around (Hirshfeld is mentioned there too, alongside Iancu, and there’s this followup post about him).

“They’re malicious lobbyists who even tried to install a corrupt judge at the top of the USPTO.”Expect sites like Watchtroll and IAM to neverendingly harass the Director of the USPTO (no matter who that happens to be) until they get their way. They’re malicious lobbyists who even tried to install a corrupt judge at the top of the USPTO.

Iancu is the prime target of bullies. He’s hopefully able to see that.

Microsoft’s Lobbying for FRAND Pays Off as Microsoft-Connected Patent Troll Conversant (Formerly MOSAID) Goes After Android OEMs in Europe

Thursday 19th of April 2018 09:38:04 AM

Royalty stacking until free/libre platforms become very expensive

Summary: The FRAND (or SEP) lobby seems to have caused a lot of monopolistic patent lawsuits; this mostly affects Linux-powered platforms such as Android, Tizen and webOS and there are new legal actions from Microsoft-connected patent trolls

EARLIER THIS week we wrote a couple of short articles that alluded to Samsung’s small victory over Huawei. For those who don’t know, Huawei is a highly government (or regime) connected entity, more so than a corporation as is known in Western democracies. Huawei nowadays uses patents in an effort to embargo the competition, but that hasn’t been particularly successful outside China (where government connections help). The Asian giants almost always use Android; this includes Huawei and Samsung, which also has the Linux-based Tizen (LG has the Linux-based webOS). As one site put it yesterday:

Back in January, we updated you on the Huawei vs. Samsung patent infringement lawsuit. The big news was that a Chinese court found in favor of Huawei in that dispute.

The patent infringement had to do with Samsung using Huawei’s cellular technology and software patents in various Samsung devices, without paying Huawei the necessary licensing fees. Samsung denied any wrongdoing (as usual), but the court said that Huawei’s patents were indeed infringed upon, and Samsung would have to pay a fine and halt Chinese production and sales of the infringing devices.

Docket Navigator also wrote about Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. et al v Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. et al, showing that the US patent system/law suddenly becomes friendlier (to engineers, not lawyers) than China’s. To quote:

The court granted defendant Samsung’s motion for an antisuit injunction prohibiting plaintiff Huawei from enforcing injunction orders issued by a Chinese court and found that the Chinese injunction orders would frustrate domestic policies.

Boasting a new Samsung patent that we criticised the other day, this one new article says, “Samsung May Use Top Notch in Their Future Phones, New Patent Spotted in China” (so Samsung remains in China in the long run).

LG has already been driven out of China, or least partially. Patent lawsuits accomplished that.

As for Samsung, as we said and showed some days ago, it’s a top target for patent trolls. PACid, for example, is a patent troll whose latest action (against Samsung) belatedly got the attention of Watchtroll.

What we’ve only just noticed (this morning) is this update about MOSAID (now known as “Conversant”) with its litigation campaign in Europe. This Microsoft-connected (and Microsoft-armed) patent troll is still actively harassing companies with litigation in London. It’s nowadays going after Huawei and ZTE. To quote:

Does the English Court have jurisdiction to grant relief in the form of a global FRAND licence in relation to a claim for infringement of UK patents, where UK sales account for only 1% or less of worldwide sales on which royalties are claimed? This was the subject of the decision of Carr J. in the Patents Court on Monday in Conversant Wireless Licensing S.A.R.L v Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, ZTE Corporation and Ors [2018] EWHC 808 (Pat). The answer – on the facts of this case as explained below – was “yes”.

[...]

Conversant commenced proceedings in July 2017, claiming that the Defendants were infringing 4 EP(UK) patents, and sought a determination of FRAND terms for its global SEP portfolio. Conversant’s global portfolio of patents includes SEPS in over 40 countries.

[...]

It was common ground that Art 24(4) (validity of IP rights) and 27 (court first seised) of the Recast Brussels Regulation would require the English Court to declare of its own motion that it had no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon cases concerning the validity of (non-UK) European patents. The Court also assumed that the English Court had no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon cases in which the dispute concerned validity of non-European patents. The Defendants however maintained that Conversant’s claims are in substance claims for infringement of foreign patents – which therefore depend on the validity of foreign patents, which the English Court has no jurisdiction over.

Although Huawei did not formally challenge jurisdiction in Unwired Planet [2017] EWHC 711 (Pat), it did rely upon some jurisdictional arguments to support its argument that a global licence was not FRAND, including that a worldwide FRAND determination in the English Court would undermine existing infringement and validity proceedings in Germany. Carr J. referred to the “simple” and “compelling” analysis of the judge in that case, where it was held that the Brussels Regulation and CJEU case law has nothing to do with what the terms of a FRAND licence should be.

What’s noteworthy about the case is: 1) it’s happening in Europe and 2) there’s a Microsoft connection. Microsoft was never able to blackmail Huawei over its Linux use, but later it managed to do this through Nokia, which also passed (at Microsoft’s instructions) patents to MOSAID (the same troll as above, owing to a rename/rebrand).

Microsoft might think it’s pretty clever by telling us that it “loves Linux” or “uses Linux”. But we’re not stupid enough to not see where patents come from.

To Understand Why People Say That Lawyers are Liars Look No Further Than Misleading Promotion of Software Patents

Thursday 19th of April 2018 09:06:31 AM


Credit: Book cover by Mark Kohler

Summary: Some of the latest misleading claims from the patent microcosm, which is only interested in lots and lots of patents (its bread and butter is monopolies after all) irrespective of their merit, quality, and desirability

THE happenings at the USPTO have been particularly noteworthy this past week. We’ll say a lot about it over the weekend because we prefer to cover EPO scandals as a matter of priority. One aspect we can’t quite wait until the weekend to cover is the lobbying and pressure put on Andrei Iancu. We’ll cover this in the post after our next post. This post will focus on software patents and the next one on litigation.

The patent maximalists are fuming. They have become rather nasty and unpleasant. Some sent me threats by post. Yesterday, for example, Watchtroll (Gene Quinn and Steve Brachmann) reran the “China!” scaremongering. “Increases in Innovation, Patent Boom Leads to Development in China,” says Watchtroll’s headline. But patents have nothing to do with it, it’s just typical Watchtrollism; it’s watching after patent trolls’ interests by promoting patent maximalism. We already did a lot of articles debunking this “China!” nonsense. It’s growing in influence not owing to patents but in spite of patents. China even permits software patents now; does that make China a software powerhouse? Not by a long shot! It’s India, where such patents are banned, which takes the jackpot.

“It’s growing in influence not owing to patents but in spite of patents. China even permits software patents now; does that make China a software powerhouse? Not by a long shot! It’s India, where such patents are banned, which takes the jackpot.”In our view, patent maximalism is a flawed mindset and a ‘brain virus’; one lawyer typically poisons the minds of others with patent maximalism. It has become like a faith and a religion; they’re unable to see facts and instead saturate their minds with more of their nonsense, typically in exclusionary echo chambers that exclude people not like them. These are supposedly well-educated individuals, but greed outweighs the wits and they know they can make more money with patent maximalism (more litigation, draining money out of practising companies). Referring to patents correctly as “monopoly”, this article from yesterday spoke about Lexaria; “Investors benefit from both a legal monopoly and the opportunity to generate royalty,” it said. Yeah, some “opportunity” — the opportunity or the chance to sue everybody. Good for lawyers, not necessarily for investors (especially not investors of the accused/defendants).

This morning an article from Texas turned up to remind us of the $502 million verdict against Apple. We wrote about it earlier this week and last week too. Investors of Apple certainly don’t benefit from this patent troll, VirnetX, suing Apple in such notorious courts. Does that mean that these investors will urge Apple to stop software patents? They would be wise to. Courts and judges that oversee Apple cases appear to think so too.

“Mathematics (geometry) and software. That’s all it boils down. Why would examiners permit that?”But Apple is actively pursuing software patents. Classic computer vision in this new example. It uses the buzzword "AR" to achieve this in spite of Alice etc. “Software giant Apple has filed a patent,” it says, “dubbed “adaptive vehicle augmented reality (AR) display using stereographic imagery”.”

Mathematics (geometry) and software. That’s all it boils down. Why would examiners permit that?

Here is another new example, this time from Mastercard, which is pursuing blockchain patents. To quote:

Blockchain technology is gaining traction amongst mainstream financial service providers as the technology guarantees security, decentralization, cheaper transaction fees and faster ways of sending funds across the globe. Mastercard has also not been left behind in these developments. This is after it was rumored as being one of the payment card providers that refused to support Litecoin (LTC) and its Litepay project.

Mastercard has filed a blockchain system patent to store and verify identity data. The patent application was published on the 12th of April this year. In the abstract of the patent application, the team at Mastercard describes the patent in its intricacies. The team states that traditionally, proof of identy had been provided via government identification, credit cards and business cards and that such proof may be inaccurate or fabricated through fraud. They propose that there is a need for a technical solution to provide for the immutable storage of identity and credential data in a secure and verifiable manner.

Why would that be allowed? These are clearly software patents, which are a disgrace and a distraction. Virtually every software developer rejects them. “Help abolish them for good to make life better for programmers” is what I told this booster of them, but she has not replied. These people just don’t seem to care about quality, only quantity. How about yesterday’s example of Futuri? It’s a firm which “plans to license the IP to be incorporated into other companies’ apps or software.” [1, 2]

“Unfortunately, even though courts repeatedly reject software patents the patent microcosm continues to give bad advice to clients.”Here’s another new example [1, 2] that says “PDCflow announces partnership with US Patent owner Zukunftware, LLC for management and licensing of newly patented technology.”

Unfortunately, even though courts repeatedly reject software patents the patent microcosm continues to give bad advice to clients. Here we have Jonathon P. Western and Steven M. Jensen (from Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.) suggesting a trick for pursuing patents that are now worthless. Yes, software patents are dead in the US (high courts always reject them). Western and Jensen say:

Software patents are generally directed to a sequence of steps or rules, i.e., an algorithm, performed by a computer programmed to carry out the algorithm.

Under Alice that is patently unpatentable. So why bother?

Stuart Meyer, writing for Fenwick & West (greedy patent lawyers and lobbyists for software patents), does try to find new ways/semantic tricks to undermine SCOTUS (Mayo and Alice) and patent software anyway. Yesterday he obsessed over another pair of words: “Directed To” (similar to “as such” or “per se”).

To quote:

It bears noting that although the overall test is often referred to as the Mayo/Alice test, Mayo did not actually use this term at all. That said, Mayo certainly addressed the concept. Justice Breyer, delivering the opinion for a unanimous Court, said “Prometheus’ patents set forth laws of nature….” Similarly, “And so a patent that simply describes that relation sets forth a natural law.” The opinion discussed Einstein and Archimedes to establish that, “A patent, for example, could not simply recite a law of nature and then add the instruction ‘apply the law.’” (emphasis in all three mine)

[...]

Let’s circle back now to our discussion of what the dictionaries said and whether “directed to” is non-exclusive (i.e., the aim can be toward multiple targets) as opposed to the suggestion that “directed at” means only one target. The most current Supreme Court authority (Alice) says the test is whether the claim is directed to patent-ineligible material. So if “directed to” allows multiple targets, it seems that only one such target needs to be non-statutory to potentially doom the patent. But if that’s the case, then it seems insufficient for the court in cases such as Vanda and Enfish to identify a statutory target, since that still leaves open the possibility of other, non-statutory targets. In reality, it seems clear that neither the Supreme Court, nor the Federal Circuit, has really thought about this distinction. The fact remains that very subtle differences in how one thinks about the phrase “directed to” can be outcome-determinative, and we’ve not been provided with sufficient guidance as to how that phrase should be interpreted. The conclusion is the same as in my last post: such uncertainly allows result-oriented opinions that cannot readily lead to any meaningful settling of this fundamental issue. We should demand clarification from either the courts or Congress, since the viability of so many patents depends on what this phrase is understood to mean.

This misconception that because one can fool examiners or trick them into granting makes a patent worth pursuing ought to stop; what typically happens after that is inaction (no assertion, i.e. no RoI) or invalidation (by PTAB or courts). Law firms profit not only from pursuing bogus patents but also disputes over these.

When News About the EPO is Dominated by Sponsored ‘Reports’ and Press Releases Because Publishers Are Afraid of (or Bribed by) the EPO

Thursday 19th of April 2018 07:39:47 AM

The EPO sent Fieldfisher, which seeks to profit from the UPC, to bully us several times


SLAPP action: In their own words

Summary: The lack of curiosity and genuine journalism in Europe may mean that serious abuses (if not corruption) will go unreported

THE EPO scandals will hopefully be covered here as often as they used to be. We’ve slowed down a bit in recent months even though there’s no lack of material to cover. What’s disheartening, however, is seeing how the media no longer writes about EPO scandals. Almost never!

“What’s disheartening, however, is seeing how the media no longer writes about EPO scandals.”
Yesterday we found nothing but this press release about a patent grant, the EPO was mentioned in this sponsored ‘report’ about Asia, and there was another one about Brexit. “UK patent protection will continue to be available through the EPO regardless of how Brexit proceeds,” it says, but nobody ever doubted that (that’s just a talking point of Team UPC in the UK). From the press release:

Provectus Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. (OTCQB: PVCT, www.provectusbio.com) (“Provectus” or the “Company”), a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing PV-10 as the first small molecule oncolytic immunotherapy for solid tumor cancers, today announced that the Japan Patent Office (JPO) had granted and the European Patent Office (EPO) had allowed the Company’s patent application for the combination of PV-10 with systemic immunomodulatory therapy (i.e., immune checkpoint inhibition). Pfizer, Inc. is a co-assignee on the award and allowance.

Shiri Burema and Rene van Duijvenbode (NLO), in this final sponsored ‘report’ at IAM, talk about oppositions at the EPO — something that staff is unable to do under the current regime, due to overload. Here’s their introduction:

The third and fourth installments of our European Patent Office (EPO) opposition series discussed the performance of private patent firms. This highlighted cases where (external) professional representation in opposition was sought by a patentee or an opponent (often a company) (for further details please see “EPO opposition: private practice patent firm’s engagement” and “EPO opposition: private practice patent firm’s core technologies”). However, some EPO oppositions are handled by companies on thier own through in-house patent attorneys (ie, sidestepping the need for external representation).

The fifth and final installment in our series highlights the share, performance and technological expertise of representation by in-house patent attorneys in 2016 EPO oppositions.

Firms like NLO (the authors’) make money from oppositions. In other words, bad quality of patents may mean additional work (and income) for them. Examiners might not like to admit this, but in many ways their interests are opposite of the patent microcosm’s. That includes thugs from Fieldfisher.

The Boards of Appeal at the European Patent Organisation (EPO) Complain That They Are Understaffed, Not Just Lacking the Independence They Depend on

Thursday 19th of April 2018 06:42:14 AM

The Office still controls and sometimes punishes judges

Summary: The Boards of Appeal have released a report and once again they openly complain that they’re unable to do their job properly, i.e. patent quality cannot be assured

THE management of the EPO has, in our humble assessment, destroyed the EPO. It’s broken beyond repair. It may never recover. Even leadership has been compromised as it’s now succession-based, with Battistelli choosing his successor. Not to mention all the toxic people he brought in after he had seized power. It’s grotesque, yet that’s where we are today. To be most frank, I do not think EPO will ever recover, not even with reporting that exposes the corruption. It’ll like abuse is just far too deeply embedded in the Organisation now, not just the Office. Oversight has been obliterated. Assumptions of goodwill (e.g. given huge budget with endless power and minimal oversight) might seem OK in theory. When you put a thug in charge, as happened about a decade ago, it will inevitably go bonkers. Even the media, which is supposed to cover such abuses, is being bribed by the Organisation. It’s not a very obvious bribe, but it still is a ‘soft’ bribe (we covered that subject a decade ago) and it has more or less the same effects. Academia too has been compromised. EPO budget, instead of improving the integrity of the EPO, has helped the EPO poison everything. Judges are being bullied, bloggers like myself habitually receive legal threats, votes are allegedly being ‘bought’, and my site (Techrights) has been blocked/banned by the EPO for over 3 years not because of falsehoods but because it helped expose EPO abuses.

What gives?

“Judges are being bullied, bloggers like myself habitually receive legal threats, votes are allegedly being ‘bought’, and my site (Techrights) has been blocked/banned by the EPO for over 3 years not because of falsehoods but because it helped expose EPO abuses.”Where are so-called ‘news’ sites about patents? Do they not care? Not even European sites? The systems they rely on (for coverage) are rotting away. Look at IAM! Benoît Battistelli is joined by the hip to it. This patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, has given a keynote talk to him (Palace Hotel in San Francisco) — one in which he will promote software patents. Joff Wild wrote about this yesterday. Another keynote will be delivered by Andrei Iancu (Director of USPTO) as he will be there too. The EPO is nowadays promoting software patents even in the US, as we noted two days ago. The EPO did this again yesterday. Such software patents advocacy from the EPO (in Seattle) should make one question the EPO’s motivations. Is anyone at all keeping an eye on the EPO’s behaviour? It definitely doesn’t seem so.

Yesterday, Graham McGlashan from Marks & Clerk wrote: “The European Patent Office (EPO) will potentially allow a patent if the claimed subject matter is novel and inventive and provides a technical contribution in a technical field – even if the invention is computer-implemented.”

This should not be happening. But who can hold them accountable? The Boards of Appeal have been marginalised and judges are afraid.

“The Boards of Appeal have been marginalised and judges are afraid.”“Maybe instead of raiding booths over patent allegations,” I told IAM, “they should raid events like IAM IPBC to arrest corrupt officials.”

The Boards of Appeal have already complained about the management. Just recall what they wrote about Battistelli. Recall what we wrote yesterday about the imminent scandal in France. A lot of EPO insiders have been speaking about this for quite some time.

The Boards of Appeal were mentioned again yesterday by the EPO. There was a white-washing tweet about it, just one of many that they post every day this month. “The Boards of Appeal are no longer independent,” I told them. “Corrupt management at the EPO rendered them incapable of operating.”

The EPO tweeted this shortly after it had published this new page [promoted via Twitter] in which it said: (warning: epo.org link)

The first Annual report of the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office since the introduction of a comprehensive set of reforms has been published.

In June 2016, the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation has adopted a set of reforms to strengthen efficiency and the perception of independence of the Boards of Appeal.

This has since then been covered by only two sites, IPPro Patents and World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR).

From IPPro Patents:

More manpower is needed at the European Patent Office to ensure the “proper functioning of the appeal system under the European Patent Convention”, according to a report from the office.

The report, which looks at the EPO’s Boards of Appeal and provides detailed statistics on its proceedings, said that more manpower was “essential to the patent litigation system in Europe”.

In terms of conduct, the Boards of Appeal increased their performance in 2017, while maintaining high quality, according to the report.

[...]

The source added: “For the moment, this is nothing else but another official statement delivered under the mandate of EPO president Benoît Battistelli, whose actions at the address of Directorate General 3 can be globally assessed as a very negative one.”

“We hope that new president-elect, António Campinos, will grasp the real nature of the situation inherited from Battistelli and that he will take the right decisions for the benefit of the EPO and all its stakeholders.”

“Words are fine, but at the EPO, staff prefer to judge based on facts.”

Understaffing and bullying (collectively punishing them) meant lower quality of patents and no oversight. No patent justice left?

Here is what WIPR wrote:

Significantly more manpower will be necessary in the coming years to ensure the proper functioning of the European Patent Office’s (EPO) appeal system, a report has said.

In an annual report, released today, the EPO’s Boards of Appeal said that although the boards managed to improve their performance and maintain quality last year, additional resources in the workforce and facilities will be necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the appeal system in the future.

The report added that, in light of the steady increase in the number of appeals filed, improving working methods and efficiency by a target of 32% will not be enough to deal with the stock of almost 9,000 cases “in a timely manner and at the same time secure the high quality that users rightfully expect from a judicial authority whose decisions are final”.

SUEPO has not yet taken note of these articles, perhaps realising that these aren’t particularly good (in our humble opinion) because they soft-peddle on the scandals.

“There are many reasons to believe Campinos will just be a ‘faceplate’ change, not constituting any substantial change in policy.”Do not expect António Campinos to change things for the better. It’s all talk and pretense (the Battistelli way).

There are many reasons to believe Campinos will just be a ‘faceplate’ change, not constituting any substantial change in policy. We’ll say a lot more about it in July. Staff should not be misled by this stunt or build up hopes of a turnaround; it just won’t happen and according to the new JUVE survey, only 1 in 7 respondents (to a survey) thought Campinos was a positive thing.

More in Tux Machines

today's howtos

GNOME Development and Events

  • Dependencies with code generators got a lot smoother with Meson 0.46.0
    Most dependencies are libraries. Almost all build systems can find dependency libraries from the system using e.g. pkg-config. Some can build dependencies from source. Some, like Meson, can do both and toggle between them transparently. Library dependencies might not be a fully solved problem but we as a community have a fairly good grasp on how to make them work. However there are some dependencies where this is not enough. A fairly common case is to have a dependency that has some sort of a source code generator. Examples of this include Protocol Buffers, Qt's moc and glib-mkenums and other tools that come with Glib. The common solution is to look up these binaries from PATH. This works for dependencies that are already installed on the system but fails quite badly when the dependencies are built as subprojects. Bootstrapping is also a bit trickier because you may need to write custom code in the project that provides the executables.
  • Expanding Amtk to support GUIs with headerbar
    I initially created the Amtk library to still be able to conveniently create a traditional UI without using deprecated GTK+ APIs, for GNOME LaTeX. But when working on Devhelp (which has a modern UI with a GtkHeaderBar) I noticed that some pieces of information were duplicated in order to create the menus and the GtkShortcutsWindow.
  • GLib/GIO async operations and Rust futures + async/await
    Unfortunately I was not able to attend the Rust+GNOME hackfest in Madrid last week, but I could at least spend some of my work time at Centricular on implementing one of the things I wanted to work on during the hackfest. The other one, more closely related to the gnome-class work, will be the topic of a future blog post once I actually have something to show.
  • Introducing Chafa
  • Infra Hackfest
  • Madrid GNOME+Rust Hackfest, part 3 (conclusion)
    I'm back home now, jetlagged but very happy that gnome-class is in a much more advanced a state than it was before the hackfest. I'm very thankful that practically everyone worked on it!
  • GNOME loves Rust Hackfest in Madrid
    The last week was the GNOME loves Rust hackfest in Madrid. I was there, only for the first two days, but was a great experience to meet the people working with Rust in GNOME a great community with a lot of talented people.
  • GNOME Mutter 3.29.1 Now Works With Elogind, Allows For Wayland On Non-Systemd Distros
    GNOME Mutter 3.29.1 has been released as the first development snapshot of this window manager / compositor in the trek towards GNOME 3.30. Mutter 3.29.1 overshot the GNOME 3.29.1 release by one week, but for being a first development release of a new cycle has some pretty interesting changes. Among the work found in Mutter 3.29.1 includes: - Mutter can now be built with elogind. That is the systemd-logind as its own standalone package. This in turn allows using Mutter with its native Wayland back-end on Linux distributions using init systems besides systemd.

KDE: Plasma Widgets, PIM Update and More

  • 3 Students Accepted for Google Summer of Code 2018
    Since 2006, we have had the opportunity for Google to sponsor students to help out with Krita. For 2018 we have 3 talented students working over the summer. Over the next few months they will be getting more familiar with the Krita code base and working on their projects. They will be blogging about their experience and what they are learning along the way. We will be sure to share any progress or information along the way. Here is a summary of their projects and what they hope to achieve.
  • Plasma widgets – Beltway Bandit Unlimited
    The concept of addons is an interesting one. At some point over the past decade or two, companies developing (successful) software realized that bundling an ever-growing code base into their products in order to meet the spiraling tower of requests from their users would result in unsustainable bloat and complexity that would not warrant the new functionality. And so, the idea of addons was born. Addons come in many flavors – extensions, plugins, applets, scripts, and of course, widgets. A large number of popular programs have incorporated them, and when done with style, the extra functionality becomes as important as the core application itself. Examples that come to mind: Firefox, Notepad++, VLC, Blender. And then, there’s the Plasma desktop environment. Since inception, KDE has prided itself on offering complete solutions, and the last incarnation of its UI framework is no different. Which begs the question, what, how and why would anyone need Plasma widgets? We explore. [...] Conclusion A good mean needs no seasoning, indeed. And Plasma is a proof of that, with the widgets the best example. Remarkably, this desktop environment manages to juggle the million different usage needs and create a balanced compromise that offers pretty much everything without over-simplifying the usage in any particular category. It’s a really amazing achievement, because normally, the sum of all requests is a boring, useless muddle. Plasma’s default showing is rich, layered, complex yet accessible, and consistent. And that means it does not really need any widgets. This shows. The extras are largely redundant, with some brilliant occasional usage models here and there, but nothing drastic or critical that you don’t get out of the box. This makes Plasma different from most other addons-blessed frameworks, as they do significantly benefit from the extras, and in some cases, the extensions and plugins are critical in supplementing the missing basics. And so, if you wonder, whether you’ll embark on a wonderful journey of discovery and fun with Plasma widgets, the answer is no. Plasma offers 99% of everything you may need right there, and the extras are more to keep people busy rather than give you anything cardinal. After all, if it’s missing, it should be an integral part of the desktop environment, and the KDE folks know this. So if you’re disappointed with this article, don’t be. It means the baseline is solid, and that’s where you journey of wonders and adventure should and will be focused. 
  • My KDE PIM Update
    This blog post is long overdue, but now that I’m back home from the KDE PIM Sprint in Toulouse, which took place last weekend, there’s some more news to report.
  • KDAB at QtDay 2018
    QtDay is the yearly Italian conference about Qt and Qt-related technologies. Its 2018 edition (the seventh so far!) will be once more in the beautiful city of Florence, on May 23 and 24. And, once more, KDAB will be there.
  • Google Summer of Code 2018 with KDE
    It’s been 2 days since the GSoC accepted student list was announced and I’m still getting goosebumps thinking about the moment I saw my name on the website. I started contributing to open source after attending a GSoC session in our college by one of our senior and a previous GSoC student with KDE: Aroonav Mishra. I was very inspired by the program and that defined the turning point of my life. [...] Then I came across GCompris and it caught my eye. I started contributing to it and the mentors are really very helpful and supportive. They always guided me whenever I needed any help  or was stuck at anything. Under their guidance, I learnt many things during the period of my contributions. I had never thought I would get this far.

GNU/Linux Distributions