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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 2 hours 19 min ago

US Supreme Court Will Hear Helsinn v Teva, But What’s Needed Right Now is a Challenge to Patents Inside Standards (a.k.a. ‘FRAND’ or ‘SEP’)

Wednesday 27th of June 2018 04:40:10 PM

Standards you can’t use (unless you’re rich)

Summary: Antitrust/monopoly aspects of patents one cannot work around (to merely conform/comply with industry standards) are worth debating at the highest of levels rather than in forums full of lobbyists (sometimes hosted inside Microsoft’s very own premises!)

EARLIER this week we noted that SCOTUS would not reassess patent scope (e.g. Section 101). It was mentioned by Patently-O earlier this week and is now being mentioned by many other patent-centric blogs. Managing IP wrote:

The court in Helsinn v Teva appears likely to craft a bright-ruling on the issue of whether the confidential sale or license of a not-yet-patented technology or process qualifies as prior art under the America Invents Act

Gregory Sephton and Anna Schoenfelder said: “As a follow-up to our previous post “The Federal Circuit Has Its Final Say On the “On-Sale” Bar Under the AIA,” the Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the Helsinn v. Teva case, which concerns whether the America Invents Act (“AIA”) changed the longstanding “on-sale bar” rule. This means that at least four of the nine Supreme Court justices agreed to address this case.”

Watchtroll (Gene Quinn) also had to say something only hours after promoting an “ethical” troll, claiming that “iPEL has also defined a set of business practices that a Non-Practicing Entity can follow in order to call itself an Ethical NPETM.”

Ethical? That’s funny!

It’s like Patent Factory Europe (PFE). WIPR has since then done a puff piece for this troll’s PR campaign and it’s comical that those taxing everything with patents, harming small businesses the most, are trying to hide that fact by associating themselves with “Startups and Small Businesses” and “SMEs”. It is, at best, a googlebombing strategy. They wish to drown out the truth with press releases and lies.

The subject of FRAND has meanwhile resurfaced. The same people who push this PFE nonsense are best known for lobbying on FRAND in Europe. They front for large corporations, notably Microsoft. “I am reminded that FRAND worked its way into the ITU’s false definition,” a reader told us, linking to ITU’s definition of “Open Standards” after Microsoft lobbying/entryism (we covered this before).

Florian Müller, a FRAND proponent, has meanwhile ranted about Delrahim (lobbyist-turned-official), whose take on FRAND — related to standard-essential patents (SEPs) — he does not agree with. To quote:

This is a follow-up to last month’s post on an open letter that 77 former government officials and professors (of law, economics, and business) sent Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim in order to remind him of long-standing and consistent U.S. policies on standard-essential patents (SEP) under both Republican and Democratic administrations. I’ve meanwhile become aware of the AAG’s reply, which does not provide any indication that he’s on the side of innovation and fair competition.

To his response, Mr. Delrahim attached a letter dated February 13, 2018 from about a dozen academics and former government officials that support the statements he makes, which he describes as “the United States’ policies” (we’ll talk about that further below). With the greatest respect for those individuals, they do not collectively counterbalance the 77 signatories of the letter that criticized Mr. Delrahim’s statements. That’s not just a matter of numbers: for an example, there is no former FTC chairman among them.

Also, before the academics’ February letter, there was a very impressive industry letter to AAG Delrahim in January, signed by industry bodies such as CCIA, the Fair Standards Alliance, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIAA), and ACT | The App Association, but also by major tech companies such as Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Samsung, HP, Dell, and Cisco. It’s very hard to understand why neither of those letters appears to have given AAG Delrahim pause. Does he seriously think he can make his contribution to #MAGA by acting against the likes of Apple, Intel, HP, and Microsoft–and trade organizations that have such companies as Google among their membership?

This whole “MAGA” delusion aside (Müller is an avid Trump proponent), it’s not hard to see that several of the above groups are Microsoft front groups (at least 3 of them). But what ought to matter a lot more is the benefit to society at large, including small businesses. Maybe the Justices at SCOTUS will some time soon find an opportunity to look into the matter (instead of relying on corporations and front groups that set policies by lobbying Trump-appointed ‘officials’, or former lobbyists). We certainly hope so because we have written a great deal about this subject since our inception in 2006.

SUEPO and EPO Staff Respond to Yesterday’s ILO-AT Rulings on Malika Weaver, Ion Brumme, and Elizabeth Hardon

Wednesday 27th of June 2018 04:01:54 PM

Summary: Some of the latest statements on Battistelli’s botched union-busting activities, including an official publication from SUEPO (Staff Union of the EPO) itself

TODAY is a busy day because Battistelli inaugurates a construction site and national delegates reconvene to debate — among other things (at least in the hallway) — yesterday’s major news from ILO. We covered that 2 hours after the live session (with crucial updates later in the evening) and then again this morning (focusing on the corruption aspect Battistelli attempted to squash discussions about). Will there be time (or even a point) for the Council to reprimand Battistelli for this utter fiasco? Many comments today say that the EPO is in “tatters” (see all the comments in Kluwer Patent Blog for example).

There are lots of capital letters at SUEPO’s Web site today. Updates were posted only hours ago, titled “SUEPO NEWSFLASH” and “THE ATILO SETS ASIDE THE DISCIPLINARY MEASURES WHICH BATTISTELLI INFLICTED ON ELS HARDON, ION BRUMME & MALIKA WEAVER”. It’s a three-page document [PDF]. We have made a local copy just in case [PDF].

SUEPO’s words about it were also mentioned in this new article, listed by SUEPO some hours ago. Here’s what it said:

The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Administrative Tribunal has exonerated several European Patent Office (EPO) staff who were in disputes with the office.
Specifically, the tribunal set aside three decisions by the EPO’s disciplinary committee and president Benoît Battistelli against EPO staff members Malika Weaver, Ion Brumme, and Elizabeth Hardon.

[...]

Commenting on the resolutions to these cases, SUEPO said: “We are grateful for the clear signals from the tribunal in respect of egregious abuses, but we feel caution is in order.”

“More cases are pending, most prominently that of Laurent Prunier, dismissed in 2016 and whose case is not yet up for being treated by the tribunal (it will be at the earliest in Q4 2018, possibly later).”

“Also we are not happy with the results of the cases of Aurélien Pétiaud and Michael Lund to whom go our thoughts.”

Prunier was reportedly dismissed against the will of the EPO’s Administrative Council in 2016.

The council requested that Battistelli ensure that disciplinary sanctions and proceedings were not only fair, but also seen to be so, under the possibility of an external reviewer or of arbitration and mediation, according to SUEPO.

Further, it requested that the president notify the Administrative Council before further decisions in disciplinary cases were taken.

One source told us: “Only a few days are left before the lodger of the 10th floor apartment in the Isar Building of the EPO will take flight to another institution where he can rule unhampered and serve himself to benefits with the same disregard for law as in his previous post. A dark period in the history of international institutions will hopefully close and a slight ray of hope will flicker among the staff and everybody else concerned about the EPO.

“The official Gazette together with all the cronies and sycophants will, and have already started to, sing songs of praise to his leadership, but seen from down in the lower floors, from the offices of those who kept the EPO working throughout its years, the assessment is, unsurprisingly, a different one. We in the West tend to look down upon less developed countries in Africa or Central Asia and apply terms like “tribalism” or “clanism” [but in] supposedly wonderful examples of unselfish cooperation between European states in international institutions. But if there is one word that best describes Mr. Battistelli’s management style, this is “tribalism”/”clanism” or, closer to Mr. Battistelli’s Sicilian roots, Mafia. This French “énarque” brought to the EPO culture of nepotism, corruption and sycophancy unheard of in the history of the EPO and leaves behind a management [in ruins] He took over the top management level as by a coup and installed a dozen of his French friends in key positions, at least once by a blatant bending of the promotion rules. The scandalous appointment of Elodie Bergot, wife of Gilles Requena, director and head of the President’s Office, as Principal Director of Human Resources, was the first sign of disregard for rules and appearances and this was only the beginning. With Elodie Bergot as the main actor Mr. Battistelli started a campaign against the Staff Representation culminating with firing three of its representatives and punishing several others. Megalomaniac, he surrounded himself by bodyguards and established an investigation unit more commonly known inside the EPO as “Stasi”.

“One can imagine his fury and vengefulness when he discovered that he couldn’t fire Patrick Corcoran, the Board of Appeal judge whose life he turned into a nightmare. With the help of the complicit Administrative Council he prolonged the maximum suspension period from 4 months to 24 months, only to see the judge exonerated by ILOAT, the international labour tribunal otherwise not known for a friendly stance towards EPO employees.

“Although enjoying immunity and thus not being liable for being sued himself, Mr. Battistelli, together with his vice-president Topic, another bizarre choice of top manager involved in pending criminal and civil lawsuits in Croatia, sued Mr. Corcoran privately for defamation. Mr. Corcoran was acquitted of all charges both by the Local Court (Amtsgericht München) and on appeal by the Regional Court of Munich (Landgericht München). Mrs. Bergot continued their persecution of Mr. Corcoran. Ignoring that the reputation of the EPO is based on its superior quality Mr. Battistelli ordered a continuous target raise which led to a remarkable 40% increase of granted patents in one year (2016 vs 2015) but also to complaints regarding the consequent decreasing quality.

“Not entirely unselfish, Mr. Battistelli and his right hand, Mrs. Bergot, implemented a system of bonuses such that the deserving examiners got 3000 EUR at the end of the year while the top management (directors excluded) got a three-month bonus (60,000-75,000 EUR). Vengeful, megalomaniac, paranoid, power and money greedy, corrupt and lacking any management skills, Mr. Battistelli leaves behind a toxic culture of management by fear, incompetence, cronyism, nepotism and an office where the depressed examiners and directors despise the top managers and hope, maybe in vain, that the axe will soon fall upon Mr. Battistelli’s minions still left behind after his departure (with Elodie Bergot as a manager involved in the institutional harrassment of the staff representatives). An office once highly respected, now a shade of itself, marred by institutional abuses and in the crossfire of its users for its declining quality. Let’s hope Mr. Campinos will remove the critical Battistelli appointments and restore the EPO to the respectable office which it once was.

“PS The latest ILOAT decisions are a slap in the face of the “Battistelli system”. In imperial Japan Battistelli, Bergot and the rest involved in the harassment of the staff representatives would’ve committed, or would’ve been asked to commit, seppuku.

“That’s it. A goodbye to Battistelli.”

There are even harsher comments in Kluwer Patent Blog (no doubt with more to come in various other forums)

In light of the ongoing meeting of the Administrative Council this one was interesting:

According to ILOAT Judgment No. 4052 considerations 13 and 14 “the President did not consider the instruction referred to in Administrative Council Resolution CA/26/16” regarding arbitration or mediation. It will be interesting if the Administrative Council will react in its upcoming meeting.

Any more input on this? Get in touch. Surely there will be some information trickling out of the Council quite soon. António Campinos starts his job next week.

J A Kemp Pushing the Boundaries of Patent Scope in Europe With Antibodies and SPCs

Wednesday 27th of June 2018 10:30:17 AM

Even the USPTO isn’t too clear on antibody patent policies

“…currently there is an apparent tension between the USPTO guideline with which antibody patents are granted and the case law with which the validity of existing antibody patents is determined. The antibody “exception” of the USPTO written description guideline says that a claim for an isolated antibody binding to an antigen satisfies the written description requirement even when the specification only describes the antigen and does not have working or detailed prophetic examples of antibodies that bind to the antigen. United States Patent and Trademark Office, Revised Interim Written Description Guidelines Training Materials (1999) at 59–60 [hereinafter Training Materials]; United States Patent and Trademark Office, Written Description Training Materials, Revision 1 (March 25, 2008) at 45–46 [hereinafter Revised Training Materials]. In Centocor v. Abbott, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) held that a patentee cannot claim an antibody unless the specification describes it, even if he/she fully characterizes the antigen, and the court vacated a $1.67 billion jury verdict, the largest patent infringement award in U.S. history. The relationship between Centocor and the USPTO guideline is not clear. Although many commentators generally agree that Centocor at least restricts the scope of the antibody exception, they disagree over interpretation of the post-Centocor antibody exception.” (Source: “Written Description Problems of the Monoclonal Antibody Patents after Centocor v. Abbott”)

Summary: Patent maximalism is still a serious and an urgent issue for the EPO to tackle; the Office seems to have been dedicated to the interests of litigation firms rather than science and technology sectors

THERE are two types of patents that we oppose; one is software patents and the other is ‘life’ patents, or patents which pertain to what already exists in nature (or manipulated slightly from what’s in nature) as those aren’t actually inventions but monopolies on life itself. Ramifications include food prices, breeding, public health (e.g. cancer effects), and access to medicine. The EPC sets limits (if not outright bans) on both types of patents, but the EPO‘s management doesn’t give a damn. Production, production, production (where “production” gets measured in terms of granted patents).

“The EPC sets limits (if not outright bans) on both types of patents, but the EPO’s management doesn’t give a damn.”There have been many articles lately about António Campinos; it’s all about trademarks and hours ago it was reported that his agency (EU-IPO) had passed France.com to someone else, in effect taking it away from its longtime owner. Remember that Campinos is a Frenchman and recall the trademark stories about Battistelli at INPI. It does make one wonder what sorts of maximalists we deal with here.

“We’ve recently noticed J A Kemp, a law firm, repeatedly promoting patent maximalism across Europe.”Where does the EPO go from here as far as patent scope is concerned? Will Campinos undo the great damage caused by Battistelli on purely technical grounds (never mind the corruption and abuses)?

We’ve recently noticed J A Kemp, a law firm, repeatedly promoting patent maximalism across Europe. John Leeming from J A Kemp wrote about software patents earlier this year and earlier this month they spoke about antibodies, with the obligatory promotion of Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs)]. J A Kemp was again mentioned here very recently (it does promotion of “Patenting Antibodies at the EPO”).

Well, SPCs (related to UPC) are in many headlines this month because of a decision/announcement from European authorities and yesterday we spotted Mondaq’s spam/promotion, with statements like “ask your usual J A Kemp contact.”

It’s titled “Antibodies In The European Patent Office” (similar but not directly related to patents on life) and it speaks of patentability criteria as follows:

The European Patent Office (EPO) applies the same basic patentability criteria to antibodies as to other inventions, but it can sometimes appear that antibodies are treated as a special case. For an explanation of the basic approach adopted by the EPO, please see our related briefing Antibodies in the European Patent Office – Basic Principles or ask your usual J A Kemp contact. The present briefing is intended to develop those Basic Principles into a guide to the drafting and prosecution of patent applications for antibody inventions.

The briefing focuses on the most common type of antibody invention at the present time – namely monoclonal antibody products for which the target and any associated disease indications are already known. We also provide guidance on ensuring your antibody claims are appropriate to support future applications for Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs).

It’s no secret that some of the biggest pushers for UPC are large pharmaceutical firms, which want to then impose SPCs and cement their monopolies. If the EPO obeys their malicious agenda, which threatens to spread software patents in the whole of Europe in one fell swoop (we know that the EPO recklessly grants these), then our challenges with the EPO as far as patent scope and litigation scope (UPC) are concerned will take priority.

“We’ve spoken about these issues for nearly a decade, but it’s only in recent years that technology firms put their weight behind groups and studies that demonstrate what we spoke about, hoping to sway politicians accordingly.”Our concern about this isn’t isolated. IP2Innovate, which fronts for technology firms, has just released this press release and told us about it. Amaury Libbrecht, Policy Manager at IP2Innovate, told us about “supporting innovation in Europe through a balanced Europe patent system…”

Notice the repeated warnings about patent trolls in Europe — a subject which patent trolls' front groups like IAM (together with Team UPC) tried hard to deny.

The latest from IP2Innovate, Libbrecht has told us, “identifies some imbalances in Europe’s patent legal system (i.e. quasi automatic injunctions, bifurcation/injunction gap, ineffective fee-shifting, poor patent quality and lack of transparency) and point out solutions to address these problems…”

We’ve spoken about these issues for nearly a decade, but it’s only in recent years that technology firms put their weight behind groups and studies that demonstrate what we spoke about, hoping to sway politicians accordingly.

Corruption at the EPO Should be a Subject Anybody Can Speak About, Even Insiders

Wednesday 27th of June 2018 08:59:58 AM

Certainly the independent (in principle) judges at the Boards of Appeal

Summary: The latest ILO-AT rulings, which included the cases of at least three staff representatives, as analysed/interpreted by longtime EPO observers

RECENTLY, in light of some truly dodgy moves from EPO management, we became a lot less reluctant to refer to the EPO and Battistelli as “corrupt”. That’s just what it has come to. We’re not even talking about merely ethical problems, such as abject lack of 'diversity' at the Office, with French Presidents for almost 17 years in a period of just two decades (yes, António Campinos is French).

Here’s a reminder (visual):

SUEPO spoke about these issues several times over the years. It’s a lot worse when one looks at the top-level management (beyond Presidents), not just based on nationality but past employment and sometimes family connections.

“The SUEPO Web site (including the former “forums”) is publicly-accessible and SUEPO officials are well known to EPO management (the structure of SUEPO and the underlying functions).”This kind of entryism at the Office is a real issue; it’s not an entirely unique issue, as it appears to have happened (to a lesser degree) in the US. There’s one anonymous account writing about USPTO appointments by nepotism — a subject many USPTO insiders are well aware of. Yesterday this account said: “Rumors are flying that Pam Isom, an infamous hire of John Ownes and Tony Chiles, is leaving. Reportedly going to DOE, we give her 6 months. No news of the new CIO but we are expecting an announcement any day now. CIO staff seems to be embracing the arrival of Debbie Stephens. GL [] Confirmed: Pam Isom is leaving PTO. Now to get rid of some of the idiots she promoted or hired. Hopefully Debbie Stephens can help with this duty. We are pretty sure David Chiles will keep everything in place if selected as CIO.”

“Thankfully, however, assuming Campinos obeys ILO-AT rulings (the EPO did not do this for Judge Corcoran), SUEPO will get a shot of adrenaline; not only will it get some representation back but the record will show that SUEPO was right…”Perhaps SUEPO’s mistake isn’t that it said something wrong (it didn’t!) but that it wasn’t anonymous or ‘undercover’ enough. The SUEPO Web site (including the former “forums”) is publicly-accessible and SUEPO officials are well known to EPO management (the structure of SUEPO and the underlying functions).

So Battistelli, seeing that people were talking about his nepotists and his corrupt hires, decided to destroy SUEPO. Over the past few months SUEPO has barely been active and recent reports say that SUEPO officials nowadays operate in a rather clandestine fashion/nature (for fear of reprisals/retributions).

Thankfully, however, assuming Campinos obeys ILO-AT rulings (the EPO did not do this for Judge Corcoran), SUEPO will get a shot of adrenaline; not only will it get some representation back but the record will show that SUEPO was right (as Techrights covered last night, with an update about the staff representation added later).

This morning Kluwer Patent Blog wrote the following:

In the last week of his term as president of the European Patent Office and a day before the official opening of the new EPO building in The Netherlands, president Benoit Battistelli lost three high-profile cases at the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation (ILOAT). The tribunal said Battistelli’s decisions to dismiss SUEPO leaders Elizabeth Hardon and Ion Brumme and to downgrade their colleague Malika Weaver were wrong and must be set aside.

The ILOAT ordered the reinstatement of Brumme ‘to the position he held immediately before his dismissal’ and the restoration of Weaver ‘with retroactive effect to the grade and step she would have held but for the imposition of the disciplinary sanction’, payment of interest on the resulting remuneration arrears ‘at the rate of 5 per cent per annum from due dates until the date of payment’, payment of moral damages in the sum of 30.000 (Brumme) and 25.000 (Weaver) euros and the payment of costs in the sum of 8.000 euros (cases 4042 and 4043, published on 26 June 2018).

Both SUEPO leaders had been charged with breaching their duties under the Service Regulations – in the case of Ion Brumme inciting Malika Weaver to do so – by unduly pressuring an EPO employee to continue litigation against the EPO and by disclosing confidential information. But the ILOAT concluded they did nothing wrong.

Märpel too posted some quick remarks:

Märpel is delighted to hear that Mr Ion Brumme, former SUEPO Munich chairperson, has been fully reinstated by ILOAT…

And of course IP Kat (or Merpel) has said absolutely nothing about it. It’s nowadays on the same side as Battistelli; its people even do photo ops with him. How things have changed since the blog’s founder left…

Here’s one reader’s personal analysis, which was shared with it today:

Malika, Ion and Elizabeth have won their cases.

The Tribunal pointed out that Malika’s and Ion’s actions were appropriate and irreproachable. Ion is to be reinstated and Malika’s downgrading to be reversed.

The disciplinary committee and the president have not handled the case of Elizabeth correctly. They have not established any of the alleged wrongdoings beyond any reasonable doubt, the required standard for disciplinary proceedings. Since the proceedings were flawed, the case is sent back to the Organisation. If the Office wants to pursue the matter further, the entire disciplinary procedure will need to be repeated – by a new disciplinary committee while taking account of the Council’s March 2016 Resolution.
Since Elizabeth retired in the meantime, as mentioned in the judgment, it is rather speculative whether the new administration has interest in pursuing her case further.

All in all, a clear victory for the staff and a clear defeat for the dictator.

Later today this dictator will inaugurate a construction site! Don’t forget to wear your helmets, people.

Links 26/6/2018: New Firefox and Stable Kernels

Tuesday 26th of June 2018 09:22:22 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • LinuxQuestions.org Turns Eighteen

    I’m proud to announce that LQ turned 18 today! I’d like to once again thank each and every LQ member for their participation and feedback. While there is always room for improvement, that LQ has remained a friendly and welcoming place for new Linux members despite its size is a testament to the community.

    To say that feedback has been absolutely critical to our success is an understatement. As has become tradition, I’d like to use this thread to collect as much feedback as possible about LQ. What are we doing well and where can we improve? Where are we failing? What can we do to ensure long time members remain engaged and willing to help? What can we do to ensure new members feel welcome? What should we be doing differently?

    As part of our 18 year anniversary, we’ll be randomly selecting 18 posts from this thread and upgrading that member to “Contributing Member” status for one year. Stay tuned, and thanks again for being a member. Together, I think we can make LQ even better.

    –jeremy

  • Desktop
  • Server
    • Microsoft Buys GitHub: Three Weeks Later

      I heard that Microsoft would be buying GitHub just a couple days before it happened when Carlie Fairchild at Linux Journal told me about it. I replied to the news with a solid, “Get! Out!” Needless to say, I had my doubts. As someone who remembers all too well the “Embrace, extend and extinguish” days of Microsoft, the news of this latest embrace did, however briefly, bring back those old memories. When I was asked what I thought, I answered that the optics were bad.A lot of years have passed since, back in 2001, Steve Ballmer declared Linux to be a cancer. These days, Microsoft loves Linux. It says so right on its website. Two years ago, Steve Ballmer also proclaimed his love for Linux. In 2018, Microsoft has its own distribution that it uses in its Azure cloud. Microsoft includes several different flavors of Linux in its app store (the Windows Subsystem for Linux), all of which can be installed on Windows 10. Microsoft develops for Linux. Heck, Microsoft even contributes to the Linux kernel.

      [...]

      But let’s, just for a moment, pretend that Microsoft is in fact up to its old “extend, embrace and extinguish” tricks. Open source can and would survive anything Microsoft could throw at it. Linux withstood SCO (backed at the time by Microsoft) in a long legal battle, and all of Microsoft’s best attempts to frame it as dangerous, not up to the job, unreliable and a cancer. That was back when Linux was the little guy. In 2018, Linux is the Big Man On Campus.

      Linux and open-source software will do just fine, even with Microsoft running the show at GitHub.

    • We’re moving from Azure to Google Cloud Platform

      Improving the performance and reliability of GitLab.com has been a top priority for us. On this front we’ve made some incremental gains while we’ve been planning for a large change with the potential to net significant results: moving from Azure to Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

    • EFF Launches STARTTLS Everywhere, GitLab Moving from Azure to Google Cloud, Firefox 61.0 Released, SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Now Available and More

      The EFF yesterday announced the launch of STARTTLS Everywhere, “EFF’s initiative to improve the security of the email ecosystem”. The goal with STARTTLS is “to do for email what we’ve done for web browsing: make it simple and easy for everyone to help ensure their communications aren’t vulnerable to mass surveillance.” You can find out how secure your current email provider is at https://www.starttls-everywhere.org, and for a more technical deep dive into STARTTLS Everywhere, go here.

      GitLab announced yesterday that it is moving from Azure to Google Cloud. GitLab claims the decision to switch to Google Cloud is “because of our desire to run GitLab on Kubernetes. Google invented Kubernetes, and GKE has the most robust and mature Kubernetes support.” The migration is planned for Saturday, July 28, 2018, and GitLab will utilize its Geo product for the migration.

    • ​GitLab moves from Azure to Google Cloud Platform

      Andrew Newdigate, GitLab’s Google Cloud Platform Migration Project Lead, explained GitLab was making the move to improve the service’s performance and reliability.

      Specifically, the company is making the move because it believes Kubernetes is the future. Kubernetes “makes reliability at massive scale possible.” GCP was their natural choice because of this desire to run GitLab on Kubernetes. After all, Google invented Kubernetes, and GKE has the most robust and mature Kubernetes support.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.17.3
    • Linux 4.16.18
    • Linux 4.14.52
    • Linux 4.9.110
    • Linux Foundation
      • Open Source Guides for the Enterprise Now Available in Chinese

        The popular Open Source Guides for the Enterprise, developed by The Linux Foundation in collaboration with the TODO Group, are now available in Chinese. This set of guides provides industry-proven best practices to help organizations successfully leverage open source.

        “Making these resources available to Chinese audiences in their native language will encourage even greater adoption of and participation with open source projects,” said Chris Aniszczyk, CTO of Cloud Native Computing Foundation and co-founder of the TODO Group. The guides span various stages of the open source project lifecycle, from initial planning and formation to winding down a project.

      • Jobs Report: Demand for Open Source Skills Climbs, Topped by Linux

        The seventh annual open source jobs report from The Linux Foundation and careers site Dice shows an increasing enterprise demand for open source skills, with Linux regaining the position of most-coveted technology.

        The demand for open source skills is so high that nearly half of hiring manages responding to the survey said their organization are supporting open source projects solely for the purpose of recruiting hard-to-find talent.

        That talent hunt is topped by the search for Linux skills, which is back on top as the No. 1 skill sought by hiring managers following a hiatus that saw cloud technologies ascending in last year’s report.

      • Need a Smart IT Hire? Look to Open Source

        Even if your association’s main stack isn’t based on open-source software, you should still know the language. According to a recent report from the Linux Foundation, it could even help you find new talent.

        In my many years writing about the ins and outs of associations—and particularly their technology challenges—one common refrain I’ve heard is this: Open-source software is hard to maintain and comes with a lot of headaches that you won’t run into with a managed vendor.

    • Benchmarks
      • 13-Way IBM POWER9 Talos II vs. Intel Xeon vs. AMD Linux Benchmarks On Debian

        Back in April we were able to run some IBM POWER9 benchmarks with remote access to the open-source friendly Talos II systems by Raptor Computer Systems. We were recently allowed remote access again to a few different configurations of this libre hardware with three different POWER9 processor combinations. Here are those latest benchmarks compared to Intel Xeon and AMD EPYC server processors.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Plasma 5.13.2 Desktop Environment Released with More Than 20 Improvements

        The second maintenance update of the KDE Plasma 5.13 desktop environment has been released today, version 5.13.2, with another layer of stability improvements.

        Coming just one week after the first point release, KDE Plasma 5.13.2 arrives only two weeks after the release of the KDE Plasma 5.13 desktop environment to fix more bugs that the team discovered across various components, such as Plasma Discover, Plasma Desktop, Plasma Workspace, KSysGuard, Plasma Audio Volume Control, and others.

        Highlights of this second point release include simplified Flatpak initialization process and inclusion of a donation URL for KNS in the Plasma Discover package manager, a fix for a leak of pipe FDs in the MD RAID code and support for Qt 5.11 in KSysGuard, as well as more improvements to the Fonts KCM panel. For more details, check out the full changelog.

      • (wanted) Poudriere Workflow Support

        Poudriere will grind away at dependencies and everything, and in the end spits out a nicely colored status line; it looks like this (here, I was rebuilding octave in order to test Qt5 compatibility, and most of the dependencies were already done).

      • GSoC 2018 – Coding Period (June 18th to June 26th): Finishing LVM VG support and starting RAID implementation

        I’ve finished LVM VG complete support to Calamares, including resize, deactivate and remove operations. All my progress is actually related to my PR from the last week (I’ve changed it’s name, because I decided to include the remaining LVM implementations on it). This PR got some dependency issues with kpmcore’s latest versions and the code needs some refactoring, but you can see it here:

      • (Request) 3D Konqui Model

        A long time ago Konqui was a bit different than what it is today, you know – people evolve, and mascotts too.I think everyone here remembers the Huge konqui custume that I did for the brazilian conventions, it was the most amazing konqui costume ever but he’s resting in peace now, retired in a theather school.

      • About Git Reverts and Contributor’s Pride

        This also appply to my new changes to Konsole. I’v did a lot of changes in the source this month, and I was sending experimental stuff to it that I had three accepted-merged-reverted commits. This doesn’t makes me angry at all, one of the features is probably be upstreamed to Breeze and all kde software will enjoy it, and the other two introduced regressions, and if we don’t produce code we can’t evolve, without new code there’s also no new bugs being introduced (as i did).

      • KDAB at Qt Contributors’ Summit

        About 80 committed developers met in Oslo to talk about the latest developments in the Qt framework, enjoying beautiful weather in Oslo, and of course, the coffee.

      • Qt 3D Studio 2.0 Officially Released, Qt Design Studio Announced For UI Designers

        The Qt Company has been on a roll this year with a slew of exciting announcements, the latest of which are Qt 3D Studio 2.0 and a new tool for user-interface designers as Qt Design Studio.

        Qt 3D Studio 2.0 we’ve known has been coming with editor improvements, a new run-time built on Qt 3D rather than the NVIDIA rendering engine, and much more.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Thank you, address sanitizer developers

        I don’t often write useless blog posts, but today will be an exception. The address sanitizer (asan) is a ludicrously good tool. The developers deserve a huge thank you.

      • Tagged Entry in Nautilus

        With the exams having been left in the past, I can get back to hacking on Nautilus again. This time, it’s coming up with a GTK+ 4-ready tagged entry for the search. Heavily inspired by Matthias’ prototype, here is a sneak peek at the work-in-progress implementation:

  • Distributions
    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
      • Weekly Roundup and News – weeks 24 & 25

        For the longest time our wiki main page has been very plain and simple; our own Zalappy has designed a new look, and the modifications are almost ready! Keep watching, because it’s looking really good! Thanks to Zalappy for his artistic flair, and to apb for his hard work making it happen.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • ​SUSE Linux Enterprise Server takes a big step forward

        SUSE doesn’t get the ink that Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) or Canonical Ubuntu does, but it’s still a darn fine Linux server distribution. Now, SUSE takes another step forward in the server room and data center with the mid-July release of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 15.

        SLES 15 will be available on x86-64, ARM, IBM LinuxONE, POWER, and z Systems in mid-July. So, no matter what your preferred server architecture, SUSE can work with you.

      • SUSE Announces Release of SUSE Linux Enterprise 15, SUSE Manager 3.2 and SUSE Linux Enterprise High Performance Computing 15

        Today, SUSE announced the release of SUSE Linux Enterprise 15, SUSE Manager 3.2 and SUSE Linux Enterprise High Performance Computing 15 with a focus on helping customers innovate in this era of rapid digital transformation while meeting the needs of multimodal IT.

      • SUSE Updates Enterprise Linux for the Multi-Cloud Era

        SUSE announced its Enterprise Linux 15 and SUSE Manager 3.2 updates on June 25, ushering in the next generation of enterprise Linux technologies from the Germany-based Linux vendor.

        SUSE Enterprise Linux 15 is the first time since 2014 that SUSE has changed the major version for its flagship platform. While SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 was announced back in 2014, SUSE never released a version 13 or 14, deciding instead to skip ahead to version 15 for the new update.

        “In various cultures, both 13 and 14 are unlucky numbers,” Matthias Eckermann, director of SUSE Linux Enterprise product management, told eWEEK. “We were asked to not use these by partners and customers, so here we are at 15.”

      • SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Officially Released

        Sharing the same code-base as openSUSE Leap 15, on Monday SUSE announced the release of SUSE Linux Enterprise 15.

        SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 was announced along with the release of SUSE Manager 3.2 and SUSE Linux Enterprise High Performance Computing 15. SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 products though are said to be available beginning around the middle of July.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat has friends in the clouds. That could help it get a piece of a Pentagon contract.

        A major contract from the U.S. Department of Defense could benefit some workers in the Triangle.

        Red Hat leaders have been talking to defense officials about its JEDI cloud-services contract and think the company is “extremely well-positioned” to supply the project’s back-end workings, Red Hat Chief Financial Office Eric Shander said in a recent interview.

      • Cloud-native BPM solution launched by Red Hat

        Open source solutions provider Red Hat has launched what it calls the `next generation’ of Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite, now called Red Hat Process Automation Manager.

        It provides a cloud-native platform for developing applications that automate business decisions and processes.

      • Using Red Hat Data Grid to power a multi-cloud real-time game

        The scavenger hunt game developed for the audience to play during the Red Hat Summit 2018 demo used Red Hat Data Grid as storage for everything except the pictures taken by the participants. Data was stored across three different cloud environments using cross-site replication. In this blog post, we will look at how data was flowing through Data Grid and explain the Data Grid features powering different aspects of the game’s functionality.

      • PodCTL #40 – Scaling OpenShift Roadshows

        Summertime is typically a slow news cycle for technology, so some people find time to relax, while others use it as an opportunity to learning something new. One activity that draws lots of people eager to learn are the OpenShift roadshow, where both Application Developers and IT Operations can get hands-on with OpenShift and related technologies.

      • So, you want to do computer science, huh?

        I do mentor/advise startups and if any of them come to me with proposals that involve buying hardware, setting up software as part of the servers etc, I will promptly throw them out. Create your stuff on the cloud – AWS, Google, Rackspace, DigitalOcean etc. Lots of them out there. At some point, when your project/start-up ideas have gained some form/shape, and you have paying customers, you could consider running your own data centers using Red Hat Open Stack and Red Hat OpenShift to make sure that you have a means to run your application in-house or in your own data center or onto the public cloud seamlessly.

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux builds the foundation for the world’s fastest supercomputer(s)
      • Red Hat Certified Cloud Architect – An OpenStack Perspective – Part Two
      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • Fedora 29′s User PATH Will Prioritize Local User Binaries

          There have been several controversial Fedora 29 changes this cycle like hiding GRUB by default and catering i686 packages to x86_64 while another one was approved today at the Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee.

          The latest approved feature for Fedora 29 that’s been met by some controversy in user/developer discussions is on changing the prioritization of some paths within the user PATH environment variable. Rather than ~/.local/bin and ~/bin currently appearing at the end of the PATH paths, with Fedora 29 they will be set to the front. This gives these local user paths higher priority over the system-wide paths when it comes to looking for commands on the system.

        • Hello from your new Fedora Program Manager

          Hi, Fedora Community! I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself as the newly-hired Fedora Program Manager. I’ve been a Fedora user for over a decade and a contributor in various roles almost that long. I started out on the documentation team as a writer and then led the team for a few releases. I’ve also maintained packages, dabbled a little bit in marketing (I know I’m way behind on that video ticket, sorry!), and helped promote Fedora through social media and articles on Opensource.com. Professionally, my background is largely in systems administration (with a strong focus on high performance computing in public cloud), but I’ve spent the last two years in marketing. I have a bachelors degree in meteorology and a masters degree in IT project management. I’m also an organizer for a local tech meetup and an occasional freelance writer.

        • Fedora 28 : Using the python module sh .
        • [Week 6] GSoC Status Report for Fedora App: Abhishek Sharma
        • Fedora/RISC-V nightly builds
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 533

            Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue 533 for the week of June 17 – 23, 2018. The full version of this issue is available here.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Jos Poortvliet: Working at Nextcloud

    I’ve been around in communities like KDE, openSUSE, Mandrake/Mandriva and others… and various open source and closed companies. Seen some do a good job. Seen others be mismanaged. This one: the most fun. Serious.

    Working at Nextcloud is special. For one, we’re a distributed company. Is it hard? Well, yes and no. Working from home is great with such a motivated team with very little management overhead and good communication. Our company is entirely built on it, that is why it works.

    [...]

    But we connect in person: roughly every second month, at a company-wide meeting in a single place, usually Stuttgart, for a full week of coding and having a great time. And once a year we go to Berlin for our conference, happening the last week of August! All those meetings are open, with often lots of community members participating in the whole process of designing and deciding around our software.

    And yes, the sales people join there, too. I have NEVER worked in a company where the sales people, the marketing team and the engineers were so good with each other. Respect between these three departments is extremely rare, as I’m sure every one of my readers knows from experience.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • New Firefox Releases Now Available

        Even though summer is here in the northern hemisphere, we’re not taking any breaks. Firefox continues our focus on making a browser that is smarter and faster than any other, so you can get stuff done before you take that much needed outdoor stroll.

      • Firefox 61 – Quantum of Solstice

        Firefox 61 is now available, and with it come new performance improvements that make the fox faster than ever!

      • Firefox 61 Releasing Today With Performance Improvements, Accessibility Inspector

        Mozilla is on schedule with releasing Firefox 61.0 today and can already be found via their FTP mirrors.

        Firefox 61.0 has us excited due to performance improvements: This new web-browser update has furthered Quantum CSS to offer faster page rendering times with the parsing being parallelized, other rendering speed optimizations, and faster tab switching on Linux/Windows are among the performance enhancements.

      • Retained Display Lists for improved page performance

        Continuing Firefox Quantum’s investment in a high-performance engine, the Firefox 61 release will boost responsiveness of modern interfaces with an optimization that we call Retained Display Lists. Similar to Quantum’s Stylo and WebRender features, developers don’t need to change anything on their sites to reap the benefits of these improvements.

      • Scanning for breached accounts with k-Anonymity

        The new Firefox Monitor service will use anonymized range query API endpoints from Have I Been Pwned (HIBP). This new Firefox feature allows users to check for compromised online accounts while preserving their privacy.

      • Testing Firefox Monitor, a New Security Tool

        From shopping to social media, the average online user will have hundreds of accounts requiring passwords. At the same time, the number of user data breaches occurring each year continues to rise dramatically. Understandably, people are now more worried about internet-related crimes involving personal and financial information theft than conventional crimes. In order to help keep personal information and accounts safe, we will be testing user interest in a security tool that lets users check if one of their accounts has been compromised in a data breach.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Checking out the notebookbar and other improvements in LibreOffice 6.0

      With any new openSUSE release, I am interested in the improvements that the big applications have made. One of these big applications is LibreOffice. Ever since LibreOffice has forked from OpenOffice.org, there has been a constant delivery of new features and new fixes every 6 months. openSUSE Leap 15 brought us the upgrade from LibreOffice 5.3.3 to LibreOffice 6.0.4. In this post, I will highlight the improvements that I found most newsworthy.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Top 6 Arduino robots of 2018 (so far)

        Since its development in the early 2000s, Arduino products like the Uno and Nano have revolutionized what people can make at home with inexpensive and easy-to-use components. Robotics and automation are no longer solely in the realm of engineers; anyone willing to spend the time to learn how these devices work can create their own inventions.

        This has led to an influx of practical and innovative projects, and the technology to share them via video and social media has only accelerated the growth. We may be only halfway through 2018, but we’ve already seen a wide variety of innovative projects.

        Here are a handful of our favorites so far—we can only imagine what else we’ll see in 2018!

  • Programming/Development
    • 8 great pytest plugins

      We are big fans of pytest and use it as our default Python testing tool for work and open source projects. For this month’s Python column, we’re sharing why we love pytest and some of the plugins that make testing with pytest so much fun.

    • Python 3: Sometimes Immutable Is Mutable and Everything Is an Object

      Python is a multi-paradigm programming language. Meaning, it supports different programming approach. One of the popular approach to solve a programming problem is by creating objects. This is known as Object-Oriented Programming (OOP).

    • Massacring C Pointers

      I’m taking a break from debugging books to talk about a calamitous shitshow of textbook writing: Mastering C Pointers: Tools for Programming Power, by Robert J. Traister.

      I learned of the book through a talk by Brian Kernighan where he refers to the book as probably “the worst C programming textbook ever written.”[1] He doesn’t name it but with some help I was able to track down his obliquely accurate reference.

      This book has become my white whale. Since I started reading debugging books, and especially now that I’m digging through older ones, I find bits of advice that simply don’t work today. While some of it could be construed as useless or idiotic, I’ve always found the authors come from a position of earnestness, attempting to draw the best conclusions based on decent principles and what they knew at the time they wrote it. In some cases they may not have known much, but they’re honestly and humbly trying to impart some wisdom.

Leftovers
  • Happy birthday, you lumbering MS-DOS-based mess: Windows 98 turns 20 today

    Windows 98 turns 20 today. However, rose-tinted spectacles still don’t make a hybrid 16 and 32 bit OS tottering on top of MS-DOS any more appealing.

    While Windows NT 4.0 pointed to a future free from MS-DOS, the majority of the Windows user base simply did not have the hardware to run much more than a jumped-up version of Windows 95. Thus Windows 98 appeared to bridge the gap.

    Codenamed Memphis, the first beta of Windows 98 arrived in 1996 with the final Release To Manufacturing (RTM – remember those?) version appearing two years later. USB support came as standard (and memorably exploded live on stage) along with a range of functions intended as a nod to that World Wide Web thing. Applications such as Outlook Express, FrontPage Express and a personal web server appeared as part of the installation.

  • Science
    • The rock that fell to Earth

      The meteorite man of Montrose, Colorado, enchanted his community with promises of untold riches of extraterrestrial origin. But as Steven Curry collided with scientists and the legal system in his quest for recognition, his obsession took him to the Bundy Ranch and a police standoff.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • FDA Repays Industry by Rushing Risky Drugs to Market

      As pharma companies underwrite three-fourths of the FDA’s budget for scientific reviews, the agency is increasingly fast-tracking expensive drugs with significant side effects and unproven health benefits.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Hyperthreading under scrutiny with new TLBleed crypto key leak

      Last week, developers on OpenBSD—the open source operating system that prioritizes security—disabled hyperthreading on Intel processors. Project leader Theo de Raadt said that a research paper due to be presented at Black Hat in August prompted the change, but he would not elaborate further.

      The situation has since become a little clearer. The Register reported on Friday that researchers at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands have found a new side-channel vulnerability on hyperthreaded processors that’s been dubbed TLBleed. The vulnerability means that processes that share a physical core—but which are using different logical cores—can inadvertently leak information to each other.

      In a proof of concept, researchers ran a program calculating cryptographic signatures using the Curve 25519 EdDSA algorithm implemented in libgcrypt on one logical core and their attack program on the other logical core. The attack program could determine the 256-bit encryption key used to calculate the signature with a combination of two milliseconds of observation, followed by 17 seconds of machine-learning-driven guessing and a final fraction of a second of brute-force guessing.

    • Oracle gets busy with Lazy FPU fix, adds more CPU Spectre-protectors

      Oracle has released fixes for Spectre v3a, Spectre v4, and the “Lazy FPU” vulnerability.

      The two Spectre patches cover CVE-2018-3640 and CVE-2018-3640.

      As Oracle’s director of security assurance Eric Maurice explained, the patches apply to both Oracle Linux and Oracle VM and the associated Intel microcode.

    • Oracle’s latest Linux fixes: New Spectre, Lazy FPU patches beef up defenses

      Oracle has released patches for the latest Spectre CPU flaws and a fix for the Lazy floating-point unit (FPU) state restore issue affecting Intel CPUs.

      Oracle’s updates address the Spectre CPU flaws revealed in May, including CVE-2018-3640, also known as Spectre variant 3a, and CVE-2018-3639, Spectre variant 4.

    • WPA3: Wi-Fi Receives Its Biggest Security Upgrade After 14 Years

      Last year, when security researchers tore apart WPA2’s security with KRACK exploit, questions were raised regarding its ability to protect billions of WiFi-compatible devices across the world.

    • Indian Banks Running Windows XP Finally Asked To Update: RBI Sends Notice
    • Control measures for ATMs – Timeline for compliance

      Please refer to our confidential Circular DBS.CO/CSITE/BC.8074/31.01.015/2016-17 dated April 17, 2017 (issued to banks) highlighting concerns about the ATMs running on Windows XP and/or other unsupported operating systems. A reference is also invited to our confidential Advisory No. 3/2017 dated March 06, 2017 and No. 13/2017 dated November 1, 2017 wherein the banks were advised to put in place, with immediate effect, suitable controls enumerated in the illustrative list of controls.

      2. The slow progress on the part of the banks in addressing these issues has been viewed seriously by the RBI. As you may appreciate, the vulnerability arising from the banks’ ATMs operating on unsupported version of operating system and non-implementation of other security measures, could potentially affect the interests of the banks’ customers adversely, apart from such occurrences, if any, impinging on the image of the bank.

    • NBD with TLS-PSK

      The Network Block Device (NBD) protocol is really useful to us when we deal with virtual machines and disk images. It lets us share disk images between machines and is also the universal protocol we use for communicating disk images between different bits of software. I wrote a pluggable NBD server called nbdkit to make this even easier.

      However there was a problem: The protocol has no concept of logins. If you have an open NBD port, then anyone can connect and read or write your disk image. This is not quite as terrible as it sounds since when two processes are talking NBD to each other, we use a Unix domain socket and we hide the socket in a directory with restrictive permissions. But there are still cases — such as communicating between separate servers — where authentication would be useful.

    • The Biggest Digital Heist in History Isn’t Over Yet

      Someone had sent emails to the bank’s employees with Microsoft Word attachments, purporting to be from suppliers such as ATM manufacturers. It was a classic spear-phishing gambit. When opened, the attachments downloaded a piece of malicious code based on Carberp, a so-called Trojan that unlocked a secret backdoor to the bank’s network. The malware siphoned confidential data from bank employees and relayed the information to a server the hackers controlled. Delving deeper, the Kaspersky team found that intruders were taking control of the cameras on hundreds of PCs inside the organization, capturing screenshots and recording keystrokes. Soon, the researchers learned that other banks in Russia and Ukraine had been hacked the same way.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Erdogan’s Ambition for the Caliphate and the Failure of Turkish Democracy

      When the Justice and Development (AK) Party took office in 2002, many intellectuals in Turkey and abroad were convinced that the party’s commitment to democratization was promising. The first term of the AK Party rule, which is considered as a golden era, broadly extended from 2002 to 2007. This era was characterized by high, inclusive economic growth, coupled with significant democratic reforms, ranging from a radical reordering of civil-military relations to the recognition of minority rights, including language and cultural rights for Kurdish citizens.

      This initial high performance created a certain level of trust in the AK Party rule among Turkish intellectuals, including the Gülen Movement, that in time the AK Party would eliminate all the undemocratic aspects of the Turkish governmental system. Between 2009 and 2011, the AK Party government successfully managed to create a legal framework that precluded Turkish military involvement in politics, which would prevent military interventions of the kind Turkey had suffered from in the past. The end result, however, was not a consolidated democracy as expected, but a highly personalized autocracy embodied in the figure of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

      What went wrong with the AK Party and its leadership during the democratization of Turkey remains an important question. Was the performance of the party between 2002 and 2007 mere window dressing, with Erdogan and his close, oligarchic circle waiting for a convenient time to apply their secret, true agenda? Were they never democratic at all? Or was Erdogan obsessed with the idea that he had a messianic mission like being the ‘Caliph’ of the Muslim world?

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • How Comey intervened to kill WikiLeaks’ immunity deal

      One of the more devastating intelligence leaks in American history — the unmasking of the CIA’s arsenal of cyber warfare weapons last year — has an untold prelude worthy of a spy novel.

      Some of the characters are household names, thanks to the Russia scandal: James Comey, fired FBI director. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Department of Justice (DOJ) official Bruce Ohr. Julian Assange, grand master of WikiLeaks. And American attorney Adam Waldman, who has a Forrest Gump-like penchant for showing up in major cases of intrigue.

      Each played a role in the early days of the Trump administration to try to get Assange to agree to “risk mitigation” — essentially, limiting some classified CIA information he might release in the future.

    • WikiLeaks publishes database showing personal data of ICE employees

      WikiLeaks on Thursday published a database that it claims reveals personal information on more than 9,000 current and former Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees.

    • Activist, WikiLeaks Publish Personal Info Of ICE Employees

      Activists publish private information of ICE employees in protest of the current immigration policies, putting their lives in danger.

      Activists, including a New York University professor, obtained the phone numbers and home addresses of more than 1,500 employees and published the information online.

      Wikileaks also published personal information and photos and named the agency’s more than 9,000 current and former employees.

    • WikiLeaks says it published ICE employees’ LinkedIn profiles
    • WikiLeaks posts ICE employees’ personal data, report says

      WikiLeaks this week published a database containing personal data on more than 9,000 current and former employees of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a report said.

      ICEPatrol is an important public resource for understanding ICE programs and increasing accountability, especially in light of the actions taken by ICE lately, such as the separation of children and parents at the US border.

    • GitHub, Medium, and Twitter take down database of ICE employee LinkedIn accounts

      GitHub, Medium, and Twitter have scrubbed a database of ICE employees off their platforms, soon after a New York-based artist posted the scraped LinkedIn information.

      Sam Lavigne, who has previously worked on projects like a white collar predictive policing program, wrote in a Medium post today that, “As ICE continues to ramp up its inhumane surveillance and detention efforts, I believe it’s important to document what’s happening, and by whom, in any way we can.”

      In an attempt to do that, Lavigne wrote a program that scraped LinkedIn for profiles that listed ICE as an employer. The program returned information on nearly 1,600 people, and Lavigne posted the resulting data publicly on GitHub. The database included information like job title, profile picture, and general location of work.

    • WikiLeaks says it published ICE employees’ LinkedIn profiles

      Professional information and LinkedIn profiles of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees were published in a searchable online database by WikiLeaks, the organization said Thursday.

      “ICEPatrol” appeared to provide professional information and profiles from the professional social networking site of government employees.

      Information such as job titles, work history, education and city of employment appeared on many of the profiles. It was not immediately clear how many employees were targeted, but the site said more than 9,300 profiles were listed.

      The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    • WikiLeaks publishes database with personal info on thousands of ICE employees
    • The Persecution of Julian Assange Proves that Western Values No Longer Exist

      The Western world never ceases to speak of its “democratic values.” In Western political theory, the way democracy works is by free speech and a free press. By speaking out, citizens and media keep the government accountable.

      This liberal tradition means that there are no words or terms that cannot be used because some designated “victim group” can claim to feel offended. The inroads into free speech made by political correctness, now institutionalized in universities and the public school system, in the presstitute media, in American corporations such as Google, and in the enculturated habits of Americans, demonstrate a decline in the status of free speech. Governments have also made inroads, with the “war on terror” becoming a justification for warrantless spying, mass surveillance, and a clampdown on dissent.

      The free press has declined even more dramatically than free speech. The NY Times of the Pentagon Papers disappeared during George W. Bush’s first term when the newspaper sat on the story that the Bush regime was spying without warrants. The NY Times sat on the story for a year, allowing Bush to be reelected without controversy and allowing the government time to legalize the spying on an ex post facto basis.

    • Whistleblower Explains How US Court Ruling to Affect NSA ‘Treasure Map’ Project

      The US Supreme Court ruling upholding the right to digital privacy will destroy the National Security Agency’s “Treasure Map” project which is designed to map the entire global internet to locate all devices on earth, former NSA Technical Director and whistleblower Bill Binney told Sputnik.

      The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that US authorities must obtain a warrant to tap cellphone towers for personal location data, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. said in a court document.

    • Reality Winner accepts guilty plea for 63 months in prison on espionage charge

      In a federal courthouse in Augusta today, former intelligence contractor Reality Winner accepted a plea agreement for a single charge of espionage, in exchange for a sentence of 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release. The plea agreement is still tentative, pending a pre-sentencing investigation ordered by the court. Winner has already spent over a year in prison, and would be due for release in 2023.

      Winner was arrested in June 2017, just days after The Intercept published a secret NSA report on Russian efforts to hack the 2016 election. Winner served in the Air Force for six years, and was working as an intelligence contractor at the time of her arrest. She held a top secret clearance.

      The NSA’s election report, which was verified by The Intercept and published with voluntary redactions, detailed an attempt to hack a supplier of US election software and more than 100 election officials in the months leading up to the 2016 election. There’s no indication that the attacks succeeded in compromising vote tallies, although the attackers were able to maintain significant access to electoral boards.

    • Former government contractor Reality Winner will plead guilty to leaking NSA election hacking information
    • Ex-NSA contractor Reality Winner reaches plea deal in leak case: Court records

      Court records indicate a woman charged with leaking U.S. secrets to a news outlet has reached a deal with prosecutors.

      U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Ian Prior confirmed in an email Thursday that former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner plans to plead guilty.

      A change of plea hearing is scheduled Tuesday. Online court records show a plea agreement was filed Thursday.

      Winner’s lawyers couldn’t immediately be reached.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Disease afflicting frogs becoming deadlier

      A disease-inducing fungus in amphibians worldwide could become deadlier as different genetic variations emerge, according to research led by The University of Alabama.

      Biologists tested the harmfulness of a Brazilian hybrid form of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, known simply as Bd or the amphibian chytrid fungus, as well as both parent forms, on species of frogs from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. They found infections and strength of the illness increased with the hybrid form.

  • Finance
    • I Delivered Packages for Amazon and It Was a Nightmare

      I’m sure I looked comical as I staggered down a downtown San Francisco street on a recent weekday, arms full of packages—as I dropped one and bent down to pick it up, another fell, and as I tried to rein that one in, another toppled.

      Yet it wasn’t funny, not really. There I was, wearing a bright-yellow safety vest and working for Amazon Flex, a program in which the e-commerce giant pays regular people to deliver packages from their own vehicles for $18 to $25 an hour, before expenses. I was racing to make the deliveries before I got a ticket—there are few places for drivers without commercial vehicles to park in downtown San Francisco during the day—and also battling a growing rage as I lugged parcels to offices of tech companies that offered free food and impressive salaries to their employees, who seemed to spend their days ordering stuff online. Technology was allowing these people a good life, but it was just making me stressed and cranky.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • John Oliver Is Censored In China For Joking About Chinese Censorship

      Sometimes art imitates life imitates art, and that happened this week after comedian John Oliver did an episode on censorship in China on his HBO show Last Week Tonight. Now China has blocked him for doing a show on Chinese censorship.

      The New York Times reported that Oliver did a 20-plus minute segment on China and its leader, President Xi Jinping, and among other things, Oliver talked about Xi’s resemblance to the fictional character, Winnie the Pooh. This and talk of censorship touched a nerve in China, which caused them to block access to the show which can be seen around the world normally.

    • China blocks HBO website after comedian John Oliver mocks censorship
    • China will lift part of its ‘Great Firewall’ to give foreigners access to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter on a tropical island dubbed ‘Hawaii of the East’
    • Chinese island eyes oasis from web censorship for foreigners

      China’s Hainan island has proposed allowing foreign visitors access to censored websites such as YouTube and Facebook, a double standard that has raised cries of indignation from the country’s internet users.

      The province, known as China’s Hawaii thanks to its resorts and tropical beaches, is set to become the country’s largest free trade zone and hopes to attract increased investment in hi-tech industries, as well as more tourist dollars.

      Part of that effort includes making the island more hospitable to foreign tourists through such steps as instituting visa-free travel and making it easier to use foreign credit cards.

    • Chinese island may lift web censorship to lure tourists

      China’s Hainan island has proposed allowing foreign visitors access to censored websites such as YouTube and Facebook, a double standard that has raised cries of indignation from the country’s internet users.

      The province, known as China’s Hawaii thanks to its resorts and tropical beaches, is set to become the country’s largest free trade zone and hopes to attract increased investment in hi-tech industries, as well as more tourist dollars.

    • The Only Place In China Where It’ll Allow You To Access Censored Sites

      There’s finally a place in China where people can access previously banned social media sites. The provincial government of Hainan has drawn the plan in order to boost tourism in the area.

      China is set to lift the ban on the southern tropical island of Hainan. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced his plan to turn “China’s Hawaii,” a spot famous for its palm-lined beaches, into a free-trade port by 2020.

    • WikiLeaks Compiles 9,000 ICE Officers’ Information & Shares It Online

      In the midst of the backlash over the actions of the Trump Administration and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), WikiLeaks compiled and shared over 9,000 ICE employees information online. “ICEPatrol is an important public resource for understanding ICE programs and increasing accountability, especially in light of the actions taken by ICE lately, such as the separation of children and parents at the US border,” tweeted WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks included information and photos collected from LinkedIn of 9,243 former and current ICE employees. Users can search the database by location, current position, school attended, and field of study. According to The Washington Post, WikiLeaks seems to have expanded and published a project created by Sam Lavigne, a New York-based artist and programmer who taught at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Lavigne attempted to publish a smaller ICE employee database on GitHub and Medium, but both were taken down.

    • Turks turn to VPNs to overcome censorship ahead of election

      BestVPN.com said it saw a 131 percent increase in traffic to its VPN guides for Turkish citizens in the past 24 hours and ahead of the Turkish presidential elections on 24 June. This data shows Turkish political opposition parties, journalists and citizens are in increasingly turning to VPN technology to bypass internet censorship which was imposed in March through a new law.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • AT&T collaborates on NSA spying through a web of secretive buildings in the US

      A new report from The Intercept sheds light on the NSA’s close relationship with communications provider AT&T.

      The Intercept identified eight facilities across the U.S. that function as hubs for AT&T’s efforts to collaborate with the intelligence agency. The site first identified one potential hub of this kind in 2017 in lower Manhattan.

      The report reveals that eight AT&T data facilities in the U.S. are regarded as high-value sites to the NSA for giving the agency direct “backbone” access to raw data that passes through, including emails, web browsing, social media and any other form of unencrypted online activity. The NSA uses the web of eight AT&T hubs for a surveillance operation code-named FAIRVIEW, a program previously reported by The New York Times. The program, first established in 1985, “involves tapping into international telecommunications cables, routers, and switches” and only coordinates directly with AT&T and not the other major U.S. mobile carriers.

    • The NSA’s Hidden Spy Hubs in Eight U.S. Cities

      The secrets are hidden behind fortified walls in cities across the United States, inside towering, windowless skyscrapers and fortress-like concrete structures that were built to withstand earthquakes and even nuclear attack. Thousands of people pass by the buildings each day and rarely give them a second glance, because their function is not publicly known. They are an integral part of one of the world’s largest telecommunications networks – and they are also linked to a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program.

    • NSA Spying Centers Hidden Inside AT&T Buildings In 8 US Cities

      The Intercept, the publication known for its groundbreaking reports, has come up with another revealing piece (via TechCrunch) about the National Security Agency. The report describes 8 AT&T data facilities that serve as hubs for NSA’s spying activities.

      The eight facilities are located in major US cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, LA, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC.

    • A new GDPR digital service: the crowdsourced ideas

      A few months ago we put out a call for ideas for a new digital service that would help people use their rights under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

      Open Rights Group supporters sent in some great ideas for a new digital service about rights under GDPR. We take a look at some of the best ones.

    • New ICANN access model could make online enforcement more onerous

      The proposed system to stop a GDPR-caused block on access to website holders’ data could introduce fees and tip off online infringers. It’s also uncertain whether rights holders would get access

    • FBI, NSA use ‘gray market’ companies to help unlock phones: report

      The NSA also reportedly purchased exploits from a France-based gray market company known as Vupen.

      The company closed in 2015 and reopened under the name Zerodium.

      The agency budgeted for $25.1 million to buy zero-days service, which involves leveraging unknown weaknesses in devices, in 2013, according to Slate.

      The use of the gray market by government agencies permits the agencies to bypass the Vulnerabilities Equities Process, which involves the government deciding whether to flag zero-day vulnerabilities to tech companies or keep them under wraps.

      The report comes as tensions rise between tech companies and the federal government over the issue of accessing encrypted information.

    • NSA Moving Data to a Cloud-based Service Such as That Built and Used by Amazon, Google

      Nearly all the data collected by the National Security Agency (NSA) is being transferred to the cloud. The database — Intelligence Community GovCloud — is reportedly classified and will help the federal surveillance organization to “connect the dots” among the scores of systems currently employed by the agency to store and sort data.

    • NSA moves top secret data to cloud developed by Amazon

      The US National Security Agency is “systematically moving” all its data to a cloud-computing service, the chief information officer has said. In 2017 alone the agency tripled collection of data through US telecom companies.

      The cloud – designed to harvest and store all sorts of NSA-relevant data, including foreign surveillance and intelligence information around the world – offers easy access to the data to “connect dots,” Greg Smithberger told NextGov.

    • Facebook can predict when you’ll get married, change jobs and even DIE: Patents reveal the shocking algorithms the firm runs on its users

      Facebook has been widely recognized for the extreme lengths it takes to collect data on its users.

      But several recently filed patents show just how widespread those efforts have become, ranging from anticipating your daily routine to predicting when you might die.

      What’s more, many of these techniques simply rely on your smartphone’s geolocation data in order to learn more about you and your habits.

      In perhaps one of the most shocking filings, Facebook researchers describe the ability to ‘predict a life change event’ for users, such as marriage status, birthdays, new jobs, a birth in the family, graduation, or even death.

    • Aadhaar Card now mandatory for NEET counselling in Tamil Nadu: Madras High Court

      On June 23, 2018 Madras High Court made it clear that Aadhaar card and its photocopy are compulsory during counselling to medical admissions in Tamil Nadu, despite the Supreme Court had in March this year ordered that it is not imperative during the NEET registration process.

    • As Facebook ages, teens look elsewhere to connect

      Manon maintains her Facebook account to be able to stay in touch with the large number of users on the huge social network and as a “gateway” to log into other apps.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • ACLU to Court: Order the Government to Reunite the Families

      The ACLU’s class action lawsuit to end family separation and immediately reunite children and parents has reached a pivotal point, following a June 22 status conference where the government was unable to articulate a plan to reunite thousands of children in its custody with their parents.

      The lack of foresight and planning is galling. For each day the government stalls, thousands of children are subjected to irreparable trauma. What’s more, there have been reports that immigration officers are actively pressuring parents to give up their asylum claims in order to be reunited with their children.

      This cruelty and utter contempt for the welfare of children and the rule of law cannot stand. Our government cannot be allowed to hold children hostage in order to sabotage the legal claims of people seeking refuge.

      On Monday, we asked the court to hold the Trump administration to account, and require it to reunify all children with their parents within 30 days, and within 10 days for children under five; provide parents, within seven days, telephonic contact with their children; stop future separations of children from their parents; and not remove separated parents from the United States without their children, unless the parent affirmatively, knowingly, and voluntarily waives the right to reunification before removal.

    • Another Police Accountability Miracle: Five Officers, Zero Body Cam Footage, One Dead Body

      We know body cameras haven’t been the police accountability godsend some imagined they would be. (I admit I saw a far rosier future when they first started being put into service.) So far, the research jury’s still out on the effectiveness of cameras in deterring misconduct and excessive force deployment. And, so far, they’ve been far more useful to prosecutors than plaintiffs in civil rights lawsuits.

      You can put a camera on a cop but you can’t change the system that leads to abusive behavior and practices. Nothing’s changing much for officers other than the attachment of a lightweight ride-along. Policies may require officers to activate their cameras in nearly every situation, but if no one’s willing to hold them accountable for refusing to do so, then nothing’s going to improve.

      Since law enforcement agencies maintain control of equipment and recordings, there’s not much the public can do when critical footage goes missing. Cops learned early on device tampering can reduce discrepancies in paperwork and shore up lies delivered as testimony. What went unpunished when it was just dashcams and body mics has continued forward to swallow the accountability body cams seemed to promise.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Judge In AT&T Merger Ruling Had Zero Understanding Of The Markets AT&T Now Dominates

      So, we already discussed how the Judge that let the AT&T merger proceed showed a comically narrow reading of the media and telecom markets when he approved AT&T’s $86 billion Time Warner merger without a single condition. At no point in his 172-page ruling (pdf) did U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon even utter the phrase “net neutrality,” showing a complete failure to understand how AT&T intends to use regulatory capture, vertical media integration (ownership of must-have content like HBO) and its stranglehold over broadband markets in synergistically anti-competitive ways.

      Leon focused almost exclusively on bickering between AT&T and DOJ-hired economists over whether the merger would result in higher rates for consumers (which, if you’ve watched AT&T do business should be a foregone conclusion). But because U.S. antitrust law is already ill-equipped to help police these kinds of vertical integrations, DOJ economists were locked into very specific confines of economic theory, even if it should be obvious to everybody and their uncle that AT&T will use its ownership of CNN, HBO, and other media properties to jack up licensing costs for streaming competitors.

      Of course higher costs for licensing (which in turn means higher costs for consumers) is just one way AT&T intends to leverage its greater scale anti-competitively. It also couldn’t be more clear that with net neutrality rules out of the way, AT&T has an absolute arsenal of creatively anti-competitive tools at their disposal, whether that means hijinks at interconnection points (something else Leon likely has never heard of), to the use of usage caps to “zero rate” AT&T’s own content, while still penalizing competitors like Netflix.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • US ITC Not Keeping Pace With Digital Revolution, New Report Argues

      The rapid rise of digital technology in the twenty-first century places new demands on intellectual property protections, while presenting new challenges. A new report suggests that a leading US agency that investigates patent infringement may need to be updated to keep up.

    • Interview: Wade Zhu, DuPont’s China IP counsel, outlines hopes for Patent Act changes

      Karry Lai speaks with the US conglomerate’s China IP counsel to find out about challenges in patent litigation, what Patent Law changes he would like to see and how big picture thinking has been key to his success

    • Copyrights
      • Portuguese Translation of 4.0 now available

        In a unique joint translation process, community members from Creative Commons Portugal and Brazil came together to release a single Portuguese translation of the CC 4.0 license suite.

      • An EU copyright law threatens to kill memes for everyone

        Pepe the Frog, the “Distracted Boyfriend” meme and Arthur’s balled-up fist are all under threat. So are reactions GIFs such as the one of a confused Zach Galifianakis, or the clip of Steve Carrell shouting ‘No!’ in The Office.

        EU lawmakers may inadvertently destroy the internet’s robust meme culture with a proposed law designed to fight online piracy. One article in the legislation would force online platforms such as Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to automatically censor copyrighted content uploaded by anyone who isn’t licensed to share it.

      • Bahnhof Continues Its Crusade Against Copyright Trolls, Claims Swedish Copyright Law Divorced From Reality

        While it’s always great to have ISPs side with their customers rather than capitulate to copyright trolls or the governments that allow them to operate, few go to equal lengths as Swedish ISP Bahnhof. Bahnhof is known for taking all kinds of actions to protect its customers and for fighting back against copyright trolls as viciously as possible. Happily, Sweden’s Pirate Party has recently declared its own war on copyright trolls, giving the ISP an ally in the region.

        But as the crusade by Bahnhof continues, the person in charge of the ISP’s communications has published an open post on the company’s site attacking the very heart of the laws that allow copyright trolls to operate in the first place. Here’s how Carolina Lindahl sets the stage for what is currently going on in Sweden.

      • Wikipedia Makes The Case For Google & Facebook To Give Back To The Commons, Rather Than Just Take

        Over the past decade or so we’ve seen lots of arguments from legacy industries — mainly recording industries, publishing industries, and film industries — freaking out about Google and Facebook. The go-to response generally seems to be to run to the government and demand that they force the successful internet companies to transfer some of their wealth to the legacy industries. In some cases, these pleas appear to be working — such as with the link tax proposal in the EU.

        Generally speaking, this whole thing is pretty disgusting. It’s usually legacy private companies which had a successful business model under a previous system, failed to adapt to a changing world, and then act as if they’re magically entitled to someone else’s money. Of course, that’s not how it should work (even if sometimes it does). But I’m interested in comparing this approach to the approach of Wikipedia, whose executive director, Katherine Maher, has an article in Wired arguing that Google and Facebook should consider giving back to the site, especially seeing as those platforms are increasingly relying on the information within Wikipedia.

Something is Clearly Wrong and Patently Defunct at ILO/ILO-AT (Updated)

Tuesday 26th of June 2018 03:36:33 PM

It’s almost like the EPO controls ILO (a symptom of Battistelli infiltrating and meddling in everything)

Summary: The decisions from ILO-AT have just been posted in ILO’s Web site, but quite a few decisions are missing and it’s not entirely clear why (albeit the culprit seems to be EPO management)

As expected, ILO decisions regarding the EPO (European Patent Organisation) are out, but not all of them. As someone points out to us, half a dozen are missing. We do not yet know which cases and why. SUEPO might provide some explanation soon. Are the Hardon and Brumme decisions out? They’re both staff leaders, unfairly fired by Battistelli (against the recommendations from the disciplinary committee). Are they suppressed? Is Guy Ryder and his suspicious workers in the Tribunal (the subject of much debate lately) trying to spare António Campinos the embarrassment? We shall update this post as soon as we have more details. “Think Ion B [Brumme] and Malika M won their cases at ILO,” one source told us, but we’re not sure about Hardon (needs digging). We also have not seen the pertinent outcomes just yet. Will Brumme get his job back and manage to provide for his family?

Update: The omitted decisions turn out not to include (or not entirely include) the staff representatives.

On Malika Weaver (SUEPO): “The EPO shall restore the complainant with retroactive effect to the grade and step she would have held but for the imposition of the disciplinary sanction, with all legal consequences.” (full decision [PDF])

On Ion Brumme (SUEPO): “The EPO shall reinstate the complainant to the position he held immediately before his dismissal with all legal consequences.” (full decision [PDF])

On Els Hardon (SUEPO): “The matter is remitted to the EPO to enable the charges against the complainant to be considered afresh by a differently constituted Disciplinary Committee and the President of the Office to make a new decision.” (full decision [PDF])

And someone else: “The EPO shall reinstate the complainant in accordance with consideration 14 of this judgment.” (full decision [PDF])

The EPO has said nothing about it. The EPO‘s PR people are linking directly to the PDF of the latest publication of the Office. It’s the same old lies. Page 4 is pure propaganda for Battistelli. I’ve told them already, “you need to reboot the whole Organisation,” otherwise they’ll continue to lionise the very person who ruined the Office and António Campinos will go down the same route. Will Campinos give Hardon and Brumme their jobs back? Will Weaver get her old position/pay grade? Or will Campinos — like Battistelli — defy court orders? Many will be watching…

Perfect Metaphor for Benoît Battistelli: Unfinished Work That Nobody Likes and Which Causes Truly Massive Losses

Tuesday 26th of June 2018 10:49:12 AM

…And which seriously injures people (workers reportedly fell), including stakeholders


Picture from this month. It’s still a construction site and it’s clearly not finished. On the right: the “old” tower, which will later be demolished. June 2018 (street view).


Picture from two years ago. The contractor had already made massive losses on this project while Battistelli used the money/budget to secretly build himself a posh pub in Munich.

Summary: A reminder that tomorrow’s ‘inauguration’ [sic] ceremony in the Netherlands will actually be celebration of an unfinished project that grossly overran its budget (at the expense of the contractor) and which locals do not want anyway

“According to a VP1 announcement,” told us a reader, “his Majesty the King of the Netherlands will be present at the inauguration ceremony for the new building, which takes place on 27 June 2018.”

As readers may recall, the EPO actually prematurely celebrates an unfinished piece of work which is a fire hazard [1, 2].

But there’s more to it. “Project New Main TH,” told us a reader, or “The Blatterstelli Complex,” as some call it, “is a class of its own. The following information is from the “Project New Main TH” November 2016 Newsletter…”

The Sky is the Limit?

Not quite.

Pictures of the new tower, “Project New Main TH,” reveal the creases and issues. This photo was taken in June 2018 (entrance canopy, waste containers still to be removed).

“The interior of the building is not finished,” we got told. “The guests who attend the inauguration ceremony will only be able to visit few parts of the building.”

They’re going to visit a ‘spiced up’ construction site with a designated area for Battistelli’s little festival. He loves festivals and, as usual, it’s all about him (at the expense of the EPO).

“Most inhabitants of the historical town Delft (in direction south-east) dislike the building since it is visible from far,” a source told us. “They say it ruins the landscape.”


Eye sore for the locals. August 2017 (view from south-east).

Was the following issue foreseen?


Blinding effect of the glass front.

“The Blatterstelli Complex” — just like Battistelli — is lots of glamour around very bad ideas. How about this?

As our source told us: “Satiric illustration of “Project New Main TH”: entrance controls with X-ray machines, camera surveillance (about 500 cameras on the EPO site, 200 in the new building alone). That’s called “transparency” of staff and visitors, including patent attorneys. What shall remain in the dark is the wheeling and dealing of top management (President and VPs).”

Battistelli is ‘Pulling a Lamy’ With a Lot More Money at Stake (and Examiners’ Future)

Tuesday 26th of June 2018 07:03:03 AM

Quietly during the last Christmas holiday when nobody paid any attention: EPO Has Become an ‘Investment Bank’


Saint-Germain-en-Laye as the EPO’s clandestine ‘branch’? Battistelli and Lamy with Commissioner Shen of the Chinese State Intellectual Property Office and Raimund Lutz lurking in the background.

Summary: Benoît Battistelli is gambling with the future of EPO examiners and the EPO at large (applicants and EP holders rely on the EPO’s stability), as even SUEPO belatedly notes in a letter one anonymous source has passed to us

It was exactly one month ago (May 26th) that we concluded our toxic loan series and its relevance to the EPO. Here are all the relevant posts:

Readers may also want to read parts 1, 2 and 3 of St. Germain’s “Système Lamy” and Its EPO Clone.

As we noted a few days ago, Wirtschaftswoche WIWO now covers these issues. Better late than never, right? German media belatedly covers EPO scandals (while Battistelli has 5 days of diplomatic immunity left). SUEPO took note of it (two pages/articles) and we expect translations to show up soon. Petra Sorge authored it and Thorsten Bausch is mentioned in it. We presume they also used our information (as above) in their research; Bausch had certainly read that with interest.

“What would that make stakeholders think (if they all knew about it)?”What will António Campinos, a former banker (at a notorious Portuguese bank), do about all this? He can’t quite defy Battistelli’s will, can he? He knows where his job came from and they’ve long been close. Will he carry on gambling with stakeholders’ money? What would that make stakeholders think (if they all knew about it)?

Well, the main stakeholder in all this is EPO staff, e.g. their pensions. And SUEPO has just written about this as follows:

22 June 2018

The new EPO Treasury Investment Fund – institutionalized gambling with someone else’s1 money?

Dear colleagues,

Through a combination of reduced career progression and extraordinary productivity gains, the Office has made an operating surplus of the order of several hundred million Euros each year as well as paid for in full for its new building in The Hague. Yet the Office’s cash reserve today still amounts to around €2.4 billion.

It was foreseen by a decision2 of the Administrative Council (AC) that any such surplus generated by staff’s work was to be transferred into the Reserve Fund for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS) to cover future obligations. The RFPSS was set up and financed by staff (1/3rd) and the Office (2/3rd) and has performed very well since its inception: it now has a value of over €8 billion.

However, in more recent years the Office has departed from this decision and instead injected only a fraction of the operating surplus into the RFPSS while retaining large parts of the money within the EPO treasury.

According to the IFRS2 accounting method, the EPO accounts show a negative equity of about €12 billion, mainly due to long term obligations such as pension obligations4. As should be apparent from the example in the footnote below, this negative equity is very sensitive to the discount rate applied to these obligations. The discount rate applied according to the

IFRS depends on the bond markets and is thus inherently volatile from one year to the next. For example, in 2011, this negative equity was €1.9 billion (applying a discount rate of
5.38%), which is less than the start-up capital for the EPOTIF. In 2014, it was calculated at some €12 billion (applying a discount rate of 1,61%),very similar to today’s figure. However, in 2015 some €4,5 billion of the negative equity “disappeared” without any substantive change in the operational income, simply due to applying the higher discount rate of 2,6%. Therefore, there would appear is no reason to now panic and take hasty or rushed decisions.

The President has followed a proposal in the second financial study to invest the present and future office treasury money to cover for these huge, fictive obligations in a new fund under new management. The more straight forward approach would have been to simply invest the money in the existing RFPSS.

However, on the proposal of the President, the Budget and Finance Committee (BFC) approved the setting-up of a new external EPO Treasury Investment Fund (EPOTIF)5.

The staff representation is strongly opposed to the creation of another fund, in particular one that is managed externally and whose investment strategy will lack the necessary internal checks & balances to avoid high risk investments, see sc17207cl, su18038cl and su18039cl (letters sent to AC and Auditors). At the last BFC meeting, the delegations also
asked for more information: the German Delegation requested to review any contracts ahead of any decision on fund management. In 2017, the German Bundesrechnungshof gave a negative opinion on setting up such risky funds in 2017. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the President declined all requests to provide any detailed contract data to the BFC, the very body who are supposed to make informed decisions based on the financial situation of the EPO.

The RFPSS fund management provides already for the appropriate checks and balances and risk limiting mechanisms. Furthermore, the costs of the RFPSS management are only a third of those estimated for the new outsourced EPOTIF. Finally, the RFPSS has to date performed very well, producing higher returns on average than those predicted for the EPOTIF.

It is extraordinary that this far reaching proposal with no meaningful risk limits (the only one contained in the proposal is ill-defined and therefore does not cover a number of risks6) has not been put to the AC for vote, rather only to the BFC in 2017. As such, we believe that this decision was taken ultra-vires by the BFC. Further to the above obvious argument raised by the staff representation, a number of AC delegations stated back in 2017 that this important and far reaching decision should be deferred until the new President takes up office next month. However, the incumbent President stated that it would be only a further loss of time and money if the cash reserves (€2.4 billion) were not be invested as soon as possible. According to his estimates, the gain foreseen for the first year is estimated to €70 million and then €100 million per annum from the next year onwards.

Had the President, however, simply followed the AC decision in the early 1980’s (CA/27/83 point 19) to transfer any surplus into the RFPSS, then the EPO would have already accumulated gains in the order of several hundred million Euros over the past years and the money would have been safely placed in low-risk investments.
SUEPO strongly opposes such risky institutionalized gambling with the staff’s and the applicant’s money. If it all goes wrong, who will foot the bill?

SUEPO have informed the Auditors on the situation and asked them for their opinion.

SUEPO will urgently address this issue with the new President Mr. Campinos: a swift return to a more meaningful and safe financing of our own social security. Meanwhile, all legal means will be explored to minimise the impact of the new fund on the Office’s finances and any appropriate action will be taken.

SUEPO fights for your rights.

Your SUEPO Central

_____
1 EPO staff and the applicants
2 BFC document CA/27/83 point 19 endorsed by the AC in June 1983 with CA/PV 16 pg 69, para 195ff
3 a method introduced for listed companies and which is not properly adapted for “business models” such as public services, particularly for those of patent offices like the EPO
4 The vast majority of the EPO’s long term obligations are pension obligations whose present value strongly depends on the discount rate applied. For illustration, to pay someone €1000 pension in 50 years’ time, you would have to put aside today either €68,77 [1000/(1+5.5%)50] if you apply a discount rate of 5,5% or €475 [1000/(1+1.5%)50] with a discount rate of 1,5%,a difference of €406. The actuaries who make a recommendation for the EPO’s pension contributions use the same calculation method as IFRS for this calculation, but apply a discount rate of 5.5%. Since the IFRS discount rate is currently much lower than that, the apparent long term pension obligations calculated according to the IFRS method are much higher, thereby suggesting that the EPO should have put much more money aside to cover these pension obligations than it actually did. This over-valued obligation directly inflates the negative equity. Consequently, it is this perceived underfunding that contributes the lion share to the negative equity. This would change drastically through raising discount rates and rates do change considerably with time. For example, in the first years of this century, with higher discount rates, the equity gap was rather small. If the discount rate were to increase to figures like we enjoyed in the 1980’s, then any lingering negative equity due to pension obligations could be transformed into a high surplus.
5 The German delegation voted against as the Bundesrechnunghof had not provided its consensus; three delegations abstained (IT, IE, CZ); two delegations (PT, LI) were absent. All others voted in favour.
6 There, actually, isn‘t a single risk measure which can cover all the aspects of financial risks arising from different assets. This is why the RFPSS and similar funds use a combination of different risk measures.

This won’t end well and we certainly don’t expect Mr. Campinos to do anything about it. Maybe he too stands to benefit from the gamble.

This Afternoon ILO Has an Opportunity to Salvage Its Reputation (or Reaffirm Growing Suspicions That It Has Been Compromised by the EPO)

Tuesday 26th of June 2018 06:21:48 AM

Summary: The fate of SUEPO leaders may be known quite soon, as the tribunal at ILO is due to announce its latest judgments later today

THIS WEEK IS Battistelli’s very last week and it’s a very busy one (I’ve taken the whole week off work). An unfinished building will bear Battistelli’s name (funny story behind that) and we shall be writing about that soon. Today (this afternoon) ILO will deliver many decisions on staff appeals and tomorrow the administered (by Battistelli) council of the EPO will meet again. Last night we saw a comment to the effect that the EPO stopped hiring (even people whose applications were successful), which merely reinforces suspicions of upcoming layoffs.

“…the spirit may remain largely the same, bar the annoying photo ops of the lunatic in chief.”We already published two articles about ILO-AT yesterday [1, 2]; it’s expected that fired staff representatives (from SUEPO) will hear their fate a week before António Campinos takes over. Considering what happened to Judge Corcoran (even after ILO had ruled in his favour several times), it doesn’t look too promising. At no point did Campinos insinuate that he would reintegrate such people into the workforce. “The Tribunal’s judgments will be announced in public on Tuesday, 26 June 2018 at 3pm at the ILO (Room IX, floor R2),” ILO says. What would happen tomorrow if ILO ordered the reintegration of SUEPO leaders?

Some EPO employees try to stay optimistic and positive, foreseeing perhaps a turnaround. But we’re just not seeing it the same way and readers who write to us don’t see it that way, either. Yes, Battistelli’s departure is imminent, but Campinos — according to insiders we heard from — has no intention of sacking anyone from Team Battistelli. So the spirit may remain largely the same, bar the annoying photo ops of the lunatic in chief.

As somebody put it yesterday:

My career as patent attorney goes back to the early 1970’s. I remember the pioneering days at the EPO and the building of an organisation that was the world-wide benchmark for patent administration and law. Pure exhilaration! A rare example of Europe doing something better than countries elsewhere in the world.

And I have seen how, in the last few years,how it has all come to be trashed.

But who exactly is to blame, for this wanton and wilful destruction? Readers, that’s always the problem, isn’t it.

Take the disgraceful gutter press in England? Their defence is that they have no alternative. To survive, they must print garbage, because that’s what readers demand, what creates a market for their papers. Now, who creates the gullible readers that demand the myths and untruths the papers print? Must we blame the schoolteachers?

Likewise, what sort of organisation appoints as its President the complacent and self-satisfied man that this month moves out of his self-commissioned presidential palace on the banks of the Isar? Is BB’s [Battistelli's] defence that he was merely delivering the wishes of his employer, the EPO’s owners, its Administrative Council? Must we place the blame at the AC’s door?

When we see how the AC relates to the incoming new EPO President, we shall be able to reach a better-informed opinion, who to blame for the shameful trashing of the EPO.

Battistelli will be remembered as the person who destroyed the EPO and Campinos as the first person to initiative layoffs. All they want is UPC.


Campinos and Battistelli in 2011

Number of US Patent Lawsuits Was More Than 50% Higher Half a Decade Ago

Tuesday 26th of June 2018 05:52:40 AM

Patent Lawyers’ Tears

Summary: With 35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101) in tact, tribunals continue to squash software patents and many firms no longer bother taking these to courts, knowing they’d lose the legal battle

THE USPTO can grant all the patents it wants, but the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) will then squash many of them, with the Federal Circuit affirming. There’s a big difference between getting a patent and using a patent in court. Many would not dare suing with a patent, knowing or predicting a negative outcome.

“There’s a big difference between getting a patent and using a patent in court. Many would not dare suing with a patent, knowing or predicting a negative outcome.”Patent lawyers’ agony is rather revealing.

Yesterday, for example, the Watchtroll patent extremists (Aaric Eisenstein, a “patent licensing” guy) kept smearing PTAB and referring to invalidation of patents wrongly granted as “kill” (as if someone died). At around the same time we learned that PTAB targets patents of patent trolls once more, this time IPVal’s. It happened after a petition (IPR) from Unified Patents and yesterday afternoon it wrote

On June 22, 2018, Unified filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 7,769,830 owned and asserted by Hypermedia Navigation LLC, an IP Valuation Partners subsidiary and known NPE. The ’830 patent, related to methods for presenting and searching for hypermedia elements stored at a web server, has been asserted in district court litigation against Yahoo!, Facebook and Microsoft.

This is quite clearly a software patent. Judging by the number, it’s an older patent than most and it predates Alice. It was granted in 2010. Expect it to be rendered invalid soon, 8 years after its issuance. Docket Navigator is meanwhile speaking of a “plaintiffs’ invalidity expert” — we presume a person who is dedicated to such legal arguments. From yesterday’s sole Docket Report: “The court denied plaintiffs’ motion to reconsider an earlier order granting defendant’s motion to strike opinions from plaintiffs’ invalidity expert that were submitted in support of summary judgment briefing because of the substantial unfair prejudice to defendant.”

“Not too shockingly, litigation numbers are down sharply.”Invalidity at the courts, not just at PTAB, has become pretty common. This means that many patent-holding entities are simply too afraid to sue; they’d rather settle out of court, but the targets of intimidation are harder to intimidate because they know they would win in court (if it ever came to that).

Not too shockingly, litigation numbers are down sharply. Yesterday IAM wrote: “Still a few days to go until the end of the month and the first half but @LexMachina’s case counter is currently at 1775 new patents suits filed so far this year. At this rate the US is on course to see fewer than 4000 suits filed this year which would be well below recent highs…”

“The bottom line is, the way things are going the number of lawsuits hinged on software patents truly nosedived.”Richard Lloyd from IAM added: “Recent high was 6130 cases filed in 2013. Last year total was 4045…”

So expect just over 3,000 lawsuits this year, i.e. way below 6,130. “Volume of US patent litigation continues to drop,” IBM’s Manny Schecter wrote. Remember that IBM is by far the biggest foe of Section 101 and it is suing a lot of companies, only to see PTAB invalidating many of its bogus software patents.

The bottom line is, the way things are going the number of lawsuits hinged on software patents truly nosedived. This can only be good news for software developers.

US Supreme Court is Not Revisiting Patent Scope After Alice

Tuesday 26th of June 2018 05:11:23 AM

Summary: 35 U.S.C. § 101 remains untouched as SCOTUS Justices prefer talking about § 102 and § 284/§ 271, which have nothing to do with software patents

EIGHT years after Bilski and four years after Alice there’s still no sign of a turnaround for software patents in the US, irrespective of what the USPTO grants and does not grant (what matters is the outcome in the courts, not the Office).

“The Justices don’t open up to the possibility of altering patent scope, notably § 101.”As it turns out, prior art (§ 102) will be looked at next, at least in relation to a case that Dennis Crouch has been writing about for quite some time. Yesterday he wrote that “[t]he Supreme Court has granted Helsinn’s petition for writ of certiori in the first case focusing on the 2011 rewriting of the prior art and novelty statute 35 U.S.C. 102.”

That’s it? So it’s good news again. The Justices don’t open up to the possibility of altering patent scope, notably § 101.

There’s meanwhile plenty of discussion about a “damages” case, the WesternGeco case (WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp.), which we mentioned here a few times prior to the outcome. Richard Lloyd (patent trolls’ lobby, IAM) wrote about it yesterday, as did Kevin E. Noonan and George “Trey” Lyons, III. Here are a couple of portions:

On Friday, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Federal Circuit in WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp. Justice Thomas (joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan) held that, based on the “focus” of 35 U.S.C. § 284 of the Patent Act (the general damages provision) when read in light of domestic infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(f)(2) (barring exportation of components specifically adapted for a patented invention), a patent owner could recover lost foreign profits. The decision overruled the Federal Circuit’s general practice of interpreting damages under § 271(f)(2) in the same fashion as § 271(a) (the general infringement provision, which does not allow patent owners to recover lost foreign profits).

[...]

For the time being, one practical consequence of this decision is that U.S. patent owners may now recover foreign lost profits tied to domestic acts of infringement under § 271(f)(2).

Crouch’s colleague reposted something for Professor Holbrook, who had “authored an amicus brief in WesternGeco v. Ion,” according to him. The opening paragraph:

When the Supreme Court agreed to review WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp., it was unclear how sweeping the decision would be. The case had clear implications for patent law. It would be the first time the Supreme Court had addressed patent infringement damages under 35 U.S.C. § 284 since its 1984 decision General Motors Corp. v. Devex Corp. The briefing and oral argument suggested the Court had some interest in assessing proximate cause in patent damages, an issue that has not been addressed by the Supreme Court or revisited by the Federal Circuit since its seminal en banc decision in Rite Hite Corp. v. Kelly Company Inc. Finally, beyond patent law, this case had implications for the Court’s jurisprudence on the presumption against extraterritoriality, particularly as to whether the presumption applies to remedial provisions.

Professor Risch alludes to Professor Holbrook and says:

The Supreme Court issued its opinion in WesternGeco last week. The holding (7-2) was relatively straightforward: if an infringer exports a component in violation of 35 USC 271(f)(2) (that is, the component has no substantial noninfringing use), then the presumption of extraterritoriality will not bar damages that occur overseas. And that’s about all it ruled. It left harder questions, like proximate cause, for another day.

I spent the end of the week and weekend reading commentary on the case (and tussling a bit on Facebook and Twitter). A couple blog posts worth checking out are Tim Holbrook’s and Tom Cotter’s. I had just a few thoughts to add.

As we said last year, WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp. is almost of zero relevance to us because we always focus on patent scope. It did, however, show that the Justices don’t have the alleged “anti-patent” bias and we’re glad to see that nothing over the horizon can challenge Alice. As we’ll note in our next post, the patent litigation ‘industry’ is in collapse.

Links 25/6/2018: Perl 5.28.0, Linux 4.18 RC2, KBibTeX for KDE Frameworks 5

Monday 25th of June 2018 08:47:14 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
  • Server
    • Oracle Linux now supported on 64-bit Armv8 processors

      Oracle’s announced that the version of its GNU/Linux for Arm processors is now generally available and signalled its intentions to help “build out a very viable server/cloud platform for Arm.”

      Big Red revealed its efforts in November 2017 with the debut of an unsupported developer release of Oracle Linux 7 Update 3. Come February 2018 and the company updated the release to one based on Oracle Linux 7 update 4, again with dire warnings it was for play, not work, and had no support.

    • Lamps Plus Sheds Light On Modernization Integration

      Discussions about modernization continue to tie top management in knots. Questions about the time, the effort, and the risks to the business are difficult to answer with precision, so organizations habitually focus on obstacles rather than opportunities.

      “If you stay in that mindset, you will never move,” says Derrick Lindsey, a modernization project lead at Lamps Plus, the nation’s largest specialty lighting retailer and a leading manufacturer of lighting and home furnishings. “There’s a lot less risk in modernizing existing applications on the IBM i than migrating off of the IBM i platform to other platforms such as Unix, Linux, or Windows servers, and this approach has proved beneficial for us.”

      There’s been a modernization initiative at Lamps Plus for the past six years. It’s involved the use of service programs, exportable functions/procedures, SQL views and SQL global variables leading to modular programming with reusable business logic that’s decoupled from executable programs. It has no conclusion. No modernization initiative does. But it’s had and continues to have phases with goals for completion.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.18-rc2

      Another week, another -rc.

      I’m still traveling – now in China – but at least I’m doing this rc Sunday
      _evening_ local time rather than _morning_. And next rc I’ll be back home
      and over rmy jetlag (knock wood) so everything should be back to the
      traditional schedule.

      Anyway, it’s early in the rc series yet, but things look fairly normal.
      About a third of the patch is drivers (drm and s390 stand out, but here’s
      networking and block updates too, and misc noise all over).

      We also had some of the core dma files move from drivers/base/dma-* (and
      lib/dma-*) to kernel/dma/*. We sometimes do code movement (and other
      “renaming” things) after the merge window simply because it tends to be
      less disruptive that way.

      Another 20% is under “tools” – mainly due to some selftest updates for
      rseq, but there’s some turbostat and perf tooling work too.

      We also had some noticeable filesystem updates, particularly to cifs. I’m
      going to point those out, because some of them probably shouldn’t have
      been in rc2. They were “fixes” not in the “regressions” sense, but in the
      “missing features” sense.

      So please, people, the “fixes” during the rc series really should be
      things that are _regressions_. If it used to work, and it no longer does,
      then fixing that is a good and proper fix. Or if something oopses or has a
      security implication, then the fix for that is a real fix.

      But if it’s something that has never worked, even if it “fixes” some
      behavior, then it’s new development, and that should come in during the
      merge window. Just because you think it’s a “fix” doesn’t mean that it
      really is one, at least in the “during the rc series” sense.

      Anyway, with that small rant out of the way, the rest is mostly arch
      updates (x86, powerpc, arm64, mips), and core networking.

      Go forth and test. Things look fairly sane, it’s not really all that
      scary.

      Shortlog appended for people who want to scan through what changed.

      Linus

    • Linux 4.18-rc2 Released With A Normal Week’s Worth Of Changes

      Due to traveling in China, Linus Torvalds has released the Linux 4.18-rc2 kernel a half-day ahead of schedule, but overall things are looking good for Linux 4.18.

    • Linus Torvalds tells kernel devs to fix their regressive fixing

      Linus Torvalds has given the Linux kernel development community a bit of a touch-up, after finding some contributions to Linux 4.18 complicated the kernel development process.

      In his post announcing release candidate 2 of Linux kernel 4.18, Torvalds mentioned “some noticeable filesystem updates, particularly to cifs.”

      “I’m going to point those out, because some of them probably shouldn’t have been in rc2. They were ‘fixes’ not in the ‘regressions’ sense, but in the ‘missing features’ sense.”

    • Why data centers need log management tools

      Even though systemd is a common logging method, rsyslog offers more features. One main capability is being able to write log messages to a specific database. You can also configure rsyslog logs on one main server for centralized access.

    • Systemd v239 released

      Systemd v239 has been released with a long list of changes; click below for the full set. “A new system.conf setting NoNewPrivileges= is now available which may be used to turn off acquisition of new privileges system-wide (i.e. set Linux’ PR_SET_NO_NEW_PRIVS for PID 1 itself, and thus also for all its children). Note that turning this option on means setuid binaries and file system capabilities lose their special powers. While turning on this option is a big step towards a more secure system, doing so is likely to break numerous pre-existing UNIX tools, in particular su and sudo.”

    • Linux Foundation
      • The Linux Foundation and TODO Group Release Chinese Versions of Open Source Guides for the Enterprise

        -The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, has released Chinese translations of 10 Open Source Guides for the Enterprise, created to help executives, open source program managers, developers, attorneys and decision makers learn how to best leverage open source.

      • Tencent joins the Linux Foundation as a platinum member

        Chinese tech giant Tencent has announced it’s joined the Linux Foundation as a platinum member.

        Tencent is one of a few companies to offer the highest level of support to the Linux Foundation. Other tech companies in this stable include IBM, Microsoft, and Intel, as well as fellow Chinese titan Huawei.

        As part of the deal, Tencent will take a chair on the Foundation’s board of directors.

        It has also promised to offer “further support and resources” to the Foundation’s efforts. So far, this has taken the form of Tencent donating several pieces of its software.

      • Tencent becomes a Linux Foundation platinum member to increase its focus on open source

        Tencent, the $500-billion Chinese internet giant, is increasing its focus on open source after it became a platinum member of the Linux Foundation.

        The company has long been associated with the foundation and Linux generally, it is a founding member of the Linux Foundation’s deep learning program that launched earlier this year, and now as a platinum member (the highest tier) it will take a board of directors seat and work more closely with the organization. That works two ways, with Tencent pledging to offer “further support and resources” to foundation projects and communities, while the Chinese firm itself will also tap into the foundation’s expertise and experience.

      • Tencent Supports Open Source Community With Linux Foundation Platinum Membership

        LinuxCon China — The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announces Tencent has become the latest Platinum member of the foundation. Tencent is a leading provider of Internet value added services in China, offering some of China’s most popular websites, apps and services including QQ, Qzone, Tencent Cloud and Weixin/WeChat.

      • TARS and TSeer Form Open Source Project Communities Under The Linux Foundation to Expand Adoption and Pace of Development

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced at LinuxCon + ContainerCon + CloudOpen China in Beijing that TARS, a remote procedure call (RPC) framework, and TSeer, a high availability service discovery, registration and fault tolerance framework, have become Linux Foundation projects. Both projects were initially developed by leading Chinese technology company, Tencent, which open sourced the projects last year. This follows the announcement of Tencent becoming a Platinum member of The Linux Foundation, and reflects the foundation’s growing collaboration with the Chinese open source community.

      • Tencent Becomes Latest Platinum Member of Linux Foundation

        Chinese behemoth looking to cultivate open source ties

        The Linux Foundation has announced that Tencent has become the latest member to obtain platinum membership.

        The non-profit American tech company, which is funded by membership payments, uses the funding for sustainable open source projects.

        Within the foundation, there are three membership tiers, starting from silver to gold, all the way up to platinum where members have to pay $500,000 a year (approx. £377,643) for that category.

      • Tencent Joins The Linux Foundation, Open-Sources Projects

        China’s Tencent holding conglomerate that backs a variety of Internet services/products is the latest platinum member of the Linux Foundation.

      • Open source jobs report: 3 hot skill areas now
    • Graphics Stack
      • Patches Revised Taking RadeonSI OpenGL Compatibility Profile To v4.0

        -
        After getting the RadeonSI OpenGL compatibility profile support to GL 3.3, Valve’s Timothy Arceri has been working on OpenGL 4.4 compatibility profile support. However, with one of those extensions taking a while to wire up, for now he sent out the patches bumping the support to OpenGL 4.0 under this compatibility mode.

        See the earlier articles if you are unfamiliar with the OpenGL compatibility profile mode as an alternative to the OpenGL core context in order to make use of deprecated GL functionality while still using modern versions of OpenGL.

      • SDL2 Wayland Now Supports XDG Shell’s XDG_WM_Base

        The SDL2 library has revised its XDG Shell unstable code into offering xdg-wm-base support from the stable XDG Shell protocol.

        The “xdg_wm_base” interface is for creating desktop-style surfaces with spinning Wayland surfaces (wl_surfaces) into windows in a desktop environment that can be dragged, resized, maximized, etc. It’s documented in full via wayland-protocols.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • 8 reasons to use the Xfce Linux desktop environment

      The Xfce desktop is thin and fast with an overall elegance that makes it easy to figure out how to do things. Its lightweight construction conserves both memory and CPU cycles. This makes it ideal for older hosts with few resources to spare for a desktop. However, Xfce is flexible and powerful enough to satisfy my needs as a power user.

      I’ve learned that changing to a new Linux desktop can take some work to configure it as I want—with all of my favorite application launchers on the panel, my preferred wallpaper, and much more. I have changed to new desktops or updates of old ones many times over the years. It takes some time and a bit of patience.

      I think of it like when I’ve moved cubicles or offices at work. Someone carries my stuff from the old office to the new one, and I connect my computer, unpack the boxes, and place their contents in appropriate locations in my new office. Moving into the Xfce desktop was the easiest move I have ever made.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Finally: First stable release of KBibTeX for KDE Frameworks 5

        After almost exactly two years of being work-in-progress, the first stable release of KBibTeX for KDE Frameworks 5 has been published! You can grab the sources at your local KDE mirror. Some distributions like ArchLinux already ship binary packages.

        After one beta and one release candidate, now comes the final release.

        You may wonder why this release gets version number 0.8.1 but not 0.8 as expected. This is simply due to the fact that I noticed a bug in CMakeLists.txt when computing version numbers which did not work if the version number just had two fields, i. e. no ‘patch’ version. As the code and the tag of 0.8 was already pushed, I had no alternative than to fix the problem and increase the version number. Otherwise, the ChangeLog (alternative view) is virtually unchanged compared to the last pre-release.

      • Qt 5.11.1 and Plasma 5.13.1 in ktown ‘testing’ repository

        A couple of days ago I recompiled ‘poppler’ and the packages in ‘ktown’ that depend on it, and uploaded them into the repository as promised in my previous post.
        I did that because Slackware-current updated its own poppler package and mine needs to be kept in sync to prevent breakage in other parts of your Slackware computer. I hear you wonder, what is the difference between the Slackware poppler package and this ‘ktown’ package? Simple: my ‘poppler’ package contains support for Qt5 (in addition to the QT4 support in the original package) and that is required by other packages in the ‘ktown’ repository.

      • Sixth week of coding phase, GSoC’18

        The Menus API enables the QML Plugin to add an action, separator or menu to the WebView context menu. This API is not similar to the WebExtensions Menus API but is rather Falkonish!

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 24

        See all the names of people who worked hard to make the computing world a better place? That could be you next week! Getting involved isn’t all that tough, and there’s lots of support available.

      • KaOS 2018.06

        Just days after Plasma 5.13.1 was announced can you already see it on this new release. Highlights of Plasma 5.13 include optimising startup and minimising memory usage, yielding faster time-to-desktop, better runtime performance, and less memory consumption. System Settings with KDE’s Kirigami framework gives the pages a slick new look. KWin gained much-improved effects for blur and desktop switching. Wayland work continued, with the return of window rules, the use of high priority EGL Contexts, and initial support for screencasts and desktop sharing. And a tech preview of GTK global menu integration.

      • Interview with Natasa

        First of all it has an Animation Studio included, I haven’t done 2D animation in years and now I can do it at home, on my PC. Yay! The brush engine is second to none quite frankly and yes I’ve tried more than Krita before I reach that conclusion. I love the mirror tools, the eraser system and that little colour pick up docker where you can attach your favorite brushes as well. Love that little bugger, so practical. Oh and the pattern tool.

      • Skrooge 2.14.0 released

        The Skrooge Team announces the release 2.14.0 version of its popular Personal Finances Manager based on KDE Frameworks.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • A GTK+ 3 update

        When we started development towards GTK+ 4, we laid out a plan that said GTK+ 3.22 would be the final, stable branch of GTK+ 3. And we’ve stuck to this for a while.

        I has served us reasonably well — GTK+ 3 stopped changing in drastic ways, which was well-received, and we are finally seeing applications moving from GTK+ 2.

      • GTK+ 3.24 To Deliver Some New Features While Waiting For GTK4

        While the GNOME tool-kit developers have been hard at work on GTK4 roughly the past two years and have kept GTK3 frozen at GTK+ 3.22, a GTK+ 3.24 release is now being worked on to deliver some new features until GTK+ 4.0 is ready to be released.

        While GTK+ 4.0 is shaping up well and GTK+ 3.22 was planned to be the last GTK3 stable release, the developers have had second thoughts due to GTK+ 4 taking time to mature. Some limited new features are being offered up in the GTK+ 3.24 release to debut this September.

      • GNOME Plans to Move App Menus Back Inside App Windows

        Application menus in the GNOME Shell desktop environment may be about to move.

        GNOME developers have proposed moving app menu entries back inside applications windows, in to the “hamburger menu” that most modern desktop apps use.

        “This would be relatively easy to implement, and even bend in nicely with some third-party apps like Firefox and Chromium, which already use a similar pattern,” GNOME devs right in their proposal.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Review: BunsenLabs Helium

        I have got a bit of soft spot for Openbox. I like how minimalist it is and how it hardly uses any system resources – according to my Conky panel BunsenLabs was using just over 200MB of RAM when idle. BunsenLabs provides a system that is usable out of the box but which can be tweaked any way you want. For this review I made the system cleaner and leaner but I could have gone in the opposite direction and create a desktop with conkies, panels and docks all over the place. DistroWatch’s slogan, “put the fun back into computing”, very much applies to BunsenLabs.

        In short, this is a distro I could easily use as my daily driver. My only concern would be the project’s long term future. BunsenLabs Helium was released almost a year after Debian Stretch was released and then there is the worrying fact that Openbox doesn’t work under Wayland, which is getting ever closer to replacing Xorg. BunsenLabs has got a sound community though, so I very much hope this distro will be around for many years to come.

    • New Releases
      • Arch-Based Manjaro 18.0 Beta 3 Available For Testing

        For fans of the Arch-based Manjaro Linux distribution, the third beta of their next major update is now available for evaluation.

        Manjaro 18.0 Beta 3 in its default Xfce flavor is available as of today. This third beta offers updated themes, the latest Pamac, an updated version of the Calamares installer, and updated Xfce packages. Manjaro 18.0 is currently relying upon the latest point release of the Linux 4.16 kernel.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
    • Slackware Family
    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Updated Debian 8: 8.11 released

        The Debian project is pleased to announce the eleventh (and final) update of its oldstable distribution Debian 8 (codename “jessie”). This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories have already been published separately and are referenced where available.

        After this point release, Debian’s Security and Release Teams will no longer be producing updates for Debian 8. Users wishing to continue to receive security support should upgrade to Debian 9, or see https://wiki.debian.org/LTS for details about the subset of architectures and packages covered by the Long Term Support project.

        The packages for some architectures for DSA 3746, DSA 3944, DSA 3968, DSA 4010, DSA 4014, DSA 4061, DSA 4075, DSA 4102, DSA 4155, DSA 4209 and DSA 4218 are not included in this point release for technical reasons. All other security updates released during the lifetime of “jessie” that have not previously been part of a point release are included in this update.

      • Debian 8.11 Released As The End Of The Line For Jessie
      • Debian 8.11 Has Been Released | The Last Maintenance Release For Debian 8 (Jessie)

        The last maintenance for the long term support release Debian 8.11 (Jessie) has been released. Debian 8.11 brings several bug fixes and resolved various security issues. Check the release notes and update instructions down below.

        Debian 8.11 received tons of updates addressing security issues for many packages such as Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird, Asterisk for VOIP services, curl, PHP 5, Bind 9, Exim, LibreOffice, Apache2, and more. Linux Kernel has been updated as well Linux 3.16.56-1. ClamAV definitions database have been updated.

        Debian 8 (Jessie) is expected to reach end of life by June 30, 2020 as per the long term support program and it could be support by the extended long term support program for commercial usage.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu Data Collection Report is Out! Read the Interesting Facts

            Ubuntu started collecting some basic, not-personally-identifiable system data starting with Ubuntu 18.04. Two months after Ubuntu 18.04 release, Canonical has shared some interesting stats.

          • Two-thirds of Ubuntu users are happy to give up data on their PC

            As announced back at the start of the year, Canonical made the decision that Ubuntu would collect data on its user base – and now the initial results of those statistics have been published by the firm, including the headline fact that 67% of users were happy to provide details of their PC (and other bits and pieces).

            So, this scheme that has been unfavorably compared to Microsoft’s collection of telemetry data in Windows 10, which has long been a point of controversy. However, it appears that the majority of folks are happy to give up their data to the company providing their Linux distribution, and don’t seem perturbed by this prospect.

          • Ubuntu reports 67% of users opt in to on-by-default PC specs slurp [Ed: 33% of Ubuntu users say to Canonical "don't spy on me" and Canonical then counts them, which means that Canonical collects data on them, too]

            However just 33 per cent of the undisclosed number of users Canonical’s analysed didn’t opt in to the slurpage.

            Which is where things get a little bit weird, because Canonical’s post reports an “Opt In rate”. Yet the data slurpage is selected by default: there’s an active opt out but a passive opt in.

          • The Average Ubuntu Install Takes 18 Minutes (And Other Stats)

            Did you know that the average Ubuntu install takes just 18 minutes?

            That’s one of several nuggets of information Canonical has collected (and now revealed) thanks to the new “Ubuntu Report” tool included in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

            This tool, when given permission to, collects non-identifiable system data about new Ubuntu installs and upgrades and ferries it back to Canonical for analysis.

          • Canonical: Two-thirds of Ubuntu 18.04 users agreed to data collection

            IT APPEARS that there are still some tech companies that we trust.

            In the first report since Ubuntu first started requesting analytics, maker Canonical has revealed that most users have opted in – and the results are interesting.

            67 per cent have decided that Canonical is OK to collect their data from Ubuntu 18.04 LTE (desktop version only). Given that many people choose Linux to have more control over their privacy, this seems way high and we can only assume (barring a mistake) that Ubuntu users trust Ubuntu way more than Windows users trust Microsoft.

          • Flavours and Variants
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Why Open Source Matters to Alibaba

    At present, Alibaba has more than 150 open source projects. We work on the open source projects with the aim to contribute to the industry and solve real-life problems. We share our experiences with the rest of the open source enthusiasts.

    As a long-time contributor to various other open source projects, Alibaba and Alibaba Cloud have fostered a culture that encourages our teams to voluntarily contribute to various open source projects, either by sharing experiences or helping others to solve problems. Sharing and contributing to the community altogether is in the DNA of Alibaba’s culture.

  • Open source communities and standards bodies are starting to hit their stride

    Open source communities and standards organizations, are, for the most part, starting to march in unison across the telecom industry.

    The push to hybrid networks using network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) initially led to fractured ecosystems as service providers and the legacy vendors pondered how to move to a software, cloud-based world while still serving millions of customers without any noticeable hiccups.

    In some cases, carriers took proprietary solutions from single vendors in order to implement some sort of virtualization on their network architectures, which led to vendor lock in. Also, some legacy vendors dug their heels in when it came to losing hardware-based revenue in the new world of SDN and NFV.

  • Open Source Project Particl Partners with Changelly
  • Another Older ASUS Board Now Works With Coreboot, Can Be Found Refurbished $50~70

    The ASUS P8H61-M PRO is now the latest motherboard working with mainline Coreboot.

    Landing in Coreboot this weekend is support for the P8H61-M PRO. The P8H61-M PRO with the H61 B3 revision chipset dates back to the original Sandy Bridge LGA-1155 days. This ASUS board is a micro-ATX design with USB 3.0, SATA 6Gb/s, and the various other usual ASUS extras.

  • Events
    • Yes! I am going to…

      Of course, DebCamp is not a vacation, so we expect people that take part of DebCamp to have at least a rough sketch of activities. There are many, many things I want to tackle, and experience shows there’s only time for a fraction of what’s planned.

    • Dates, Location set for openSUSE Conference 2019

      The openSUSE Project is pleased to announce the location and dates for the 2019 openSUSE Conference.

      The openSUSE Conference 2019 will return to the Z-Bau in Nuremberg, Germany, and be Friday, May 24, through Sunday, May 26.

      Planning for the 2019 conference will begin this summer and community members are encouraged to take part in the planning of the conference through the organizing team. The openSUSE Board proposed the idea of having organizing team for openSUSE Conferences last month at oSC18. An email about the organizing team was sent out to the openSUSE-Project mailing list.

    • OSSummit Japan 2018

      Some Debian developers (Jose from Microsoft and Michael from credativ) gave a talk during this event.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • How to Unit Test WebExtensions

        We all know that unit-testing is a good software engineering practice, but sometimes the hassle of setting up the testing environment will keep us from doing it in the first place. After Firefox 57, WebExtension has become the new standard for writing add-ons for Firefox. How do you set up everything to start testing your WebExtension-based add-ons?

        In the earlier format of the Firefox add-ons, namely the Add-on SDK (a.k.a. Jetpack), there is a built-in command for unit-test (jpm test). But for WebExtension, as far as I know, doesn’t have such thing built in. Luckily all the technology used in WebExtension is still standard web technology, so we can use off-the-shelf JavaScript unit-testing frameworks.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Will Microsoft’s Embrace Smother GitHub?

      Microsoft has had an adversarial relationship with the open-source community. The company viewed the free Open Office software and the Linux operating system—which compete with Microsoft Office and Windows, respectively—as grave threats.

      In 2001 Windows chief Jim Allchin said: “Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer.” That same year CEO Steve Ballmer said “Linux is a cancer.” Microsoft attempted to use copyright law to crush open source in the courts.

      When these tactics failed, Microsoft decided if you can’t beat them, join them. It incorporated Linux and other open-source code into its servers in 2014. By 2016 Microsoft had more programmers contributing code to GitHub than any other company.

      The GitHub merger might reflect Microsoft’s “embrace, extend and extinguish” strategy for dominating its competitors. After all, GitHub hosts not only open-source software and Microsoft software but also the open-source projects of other companies, including Oracle, IBM, and Amazon Web Services.

      With GitHub, Microsoft could restrict a crucial platform for its rivals, mine data about competitors’ activities, target ads toward users, or restrict free services. Its control could lead to a sort of surveillance of innovative activity, giving it a unique, macro-scaled insight into software development.

    • Secure Code: You Are the Solution to Open Source’s Biggest Problem [Ed: The mobsters from Microsoft ‘proxy’ Black Duck are back to attacking FOSS, in order for them to sell proprietary software from Synopsys]
    • Developers shouldn’t worry, Microsoft’s GitHub acquisition is a win for all [Ed: Microsoft entryism is a “win for all”? Really?]
    • Open source: Why it’s time to be more open about how projects are run [Ed: The latest FOSS FUD from Microsoft booster Mary Branscombe]
    • A framework for lightweight open source governance

      Any group of humans needs some form of governance. It’s a set of rules the group follows in order to address issues and take clear decisions. Even the absence the rules (anarchy) is a form of governance! At the opposite end of the spectrum is dictatorship, where all decisions are made by one person. Open source projects are groups of humans, and they are no exception to this. They can opt for various governance models, which I detailed in a previous article four years ago (how time flies!).

      That article compared various overall models in terms of which one would best ensure the long-term survival of the community, avoiding revolutions (or forks). It advocated for a representative democracy model, and since then I’ve been asked several times for the best recipe to implement it. However there are numerous trade-offs in the exercise of building governance, and the “best” depends a lot on the specifics of each project situation. So, rather than detail a perfect one-size-fits-all governance recipe, in this article I’ll propose a framework of three basic rules to keep in mind when implementing it.

      This simple 3-rule model can be used to create just enough governance, a lightweight model that should be sustainable over the long run, while avoiding extra layers of useless bureaucracy.

  • Funding
    • Toyota donates $100,000 for open-source self-driving simulator

      Toyota plunked down a good chunk of money to get further along with CARLA, which sounds a little creepy but is actually a worthy cause.

      Toyota Research Institute (TRI) announced this week that it will donate $100,000 to the Computer Vision Center to further development of CARLA (Car Learning to Act), an open-source simulator for autonomous driving. CARLA’s code is hosted on Github, in case you’re interested in poking around.

  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Software Design for Persistent Memory Systems

      Howard Chu’s work has spanned a wide range of computing topics, including most of the GNU utilities, networking protocols and tools, kernel and filesystem drivers, and focused on maximizing the useful work from a system. He founded Symas Corp. with 5 other partners and serves as its CTO. His current focus is database oriented, covering LDAP, LMDB, and other non-relational database technologies.

    • Bitcoin Car Talk: Mike’s Car Stalled by Stallman

      HUMOR: Are you planning to watch Mikeinspace’s latest Bitcoin Car Talk interview? Then shame on you — free (as in speech) software advocate Richard Stallman does not approve of your viewing habits. Wait… Stallman is telling you not to watch a video where he himself tells you why you shouldn’t watch it? We’re confused. Mike’s confused. Watch the full episode to find out why. Or don’t. Hmm, we could have a problem here.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open source sustainability

      No one wants open source to disappear, or for maintainers to burnout. Yet, there is a strong cultural force against commercial interests in the community. Money is corrupting, and dampens the voluntary spirit of open source efforts. More pragmatically, there are vast logistical challenges with managing money on globally distributed volunteer teams that can make paying for work logistically challenging.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • It Turns Out RISC-V Hardware So Far Isn’t Entirely Open-Source

        While they are trying to make it an open board, as it stands now Minnich just compares this RISC-V board as being no more open than an average ARM SoC and not as open as IBM POWER.

        Ron further commented that he is hoping for other RISC-V implementations from different vendors be more open.

      • SiFive Releases Smaller, Lower Power RISC-V Cores

        Today, SiFive has released two new cores designed for the lower end of computing. This adds to the company’s existing portfolio of microcontrollers and SoCs based on the Open RISC-V ISA. Over the last two years, SiFive has introduced a number of cores based on the RISC-V ISA, an Open Architecture ISA that gives anyone to design and develop a microcontroller or microprocessor platform. These two new cores fill out the low-power end of SiFive’s core portfolio.

        The two new cores included in the announcement are the SiFive E20 and E21, both meant for low-power applications, and according to SiFive presentations, they’re along the lines of an ARM Cortex-M0+ and ARM Cortex-M4. This is a core — it’s not a chip yet — but since the introduction of SiFive’s first microcontrollers, many companies have jumped on the RISC-V bandwagon. Western Digital, for example, has committed to using the RISC-V architecture in SoCs and as controllers for hard drive, SSDs, and NASes.

  • Programming/Development
    • Oracle’s new Java SE subs: Code and support for $25/processor/month

      Oracle’s put a price on Java SE and support: $25 per processor per month, and $2.50 per user per month on the desktop, or less if you buy lots for a long time.

      Big Red’s called this a Java SE Subscription and pitched it as “a commonly used model, popular with Linux distributions”. The company also reckons the new deal is better than a perpetual licence, because they involve “an up-front cost plus additional annual support and maintenance fees.”

    • Essential Free Python Maths Tools

      Python is a very popular general purpose programming language — with good reason. It’s object oriented, semantically structured, extremely versatile, and well supported. Scientists favour Python because it’s easy to use and learn, offers a good set of built-in features, and is highly extensible. Python’s readability makes it an excellent first programming language.

      The Python Standard Library (PSL) is the the standard library that’s distributed with Python. The library comes with, among other things, modules that carry out many mathematical operations.

      The math module is one of the core modules in PSL which performs mathematical operations. The module gives access to the underlying C library functions for floating point math.

    • 10 Best Math Libraries for Python

      Many times, when you write programs you need to use special functions that others have used before you. When this happens, open source comes to the rescue and gives you a library that covers that need. Python calls theirs modules, to use modules you need to import them.Modules for mathematics are especially useful when you have the theory ready but need to use standard math for your particular problem. The Mathematics module in the Python standard library has many features. It is useful to check if you can solve your problem easily with these functions. If you need to know what functions exist you need to go through the list. However, first realize that the module implements all the C standard functions.

      The simplest use of Python for math is as a calculator. To do this, start Python on the terminal and use the print function.

    • Compiler Fuzzing With Prog-Fuzz Is Turning Up Bugs In GCC, Clang

      Vegard Nossum of Oracle has been working on fuzzing different open-source compilers for turning up bugs within these code compiler likes GCC and Clang.

      Vegard ended up writing a new compiler fuzzer from scratch making use of AFL instrumentation. This new fuzzer is dubbed simply Prog-Fuzz and is available on GitHub.

    • Intel MKL in Debian / Ubuntu follow-up

      About two months ago, in the most recent post in the series, #18, we provided a short tutorial about how to add the Intel Math Kernel Library to a Debian or Ubuntu system thanks to the wonderful apt tool — and the prepackaged binaries by Intel. This made for a simple, reproducible, scriptable, and even reversible (!!) solution—which a few people seem to have appreciated. Good.

    • 3 ways to copy files in Go

      This article will show you how to copy a file in the Go programming language. Although there are more than three ways to copy a file in Go, this article will present the three most common ways: using the io.Copy() function call from the Go library; reading the input file all at once and writing it to another file; and copying the file in small chunks using a buffer.

    • The life cycle of a software bug

      During the process of testing, bugs are reported to the development team. Quality assurance testers describe the bug in as much detail as possible, reporting on their system state, the processes they were undertaking, and how the bug manifested itself.

      Despite this, some bugs are never confirmed; they may be reported in testing but can never be reproduced in a controlled environment. In such cases they may not be resolved but are instead closed.

      It can be difficult to confirm a computer bug due to the wide array of platforms in use and the many different types of user behavior. Some bugs only occur intermittently or under very specific situations, and others may occur seemingly at random.

      Many people use and interact with open source software, and many bugs and issues may be non-repeatable or may not be adequately described. Still, because every user and developer also plays the role of quality assurance tester, at least in part, there is a good chance that bugs will be revealed.

    • LLVM’s OpenMP Offloads Liboffload Into Oblivion

      The liboffload library has been dropped from LLVM’s OpenMP repository.

      Liboffload is/was the Intel runtime library for offloading and geared for supporting the Xeon Phi co-processors. But liboffload within LLVM hasn’t been receiving updates, it wasn’t properly integrated within the LLVM build system, and unfortunately Xeon Phi co-processors appear to be discontinued. The liboffload library has also confused some with LLVM’s libomptarget library for OpenMP support that is in much better shape.

    • Perl 5.28.0 released

      Version 5.28.0 of the Perl language has been released. “Perl 5.28.0 represents approximately 13 months of development since Perl 5.26.0 and contains approximately 730,000 lines of changes across 2,200 files from 77 authors”. The full list of changes can be found over here; some highlights include Unicode 10.0 support, string- and number-specific bitwise operators, a change to more secure hash functions, and safer in-place editing.

    • Perl Version 5.28.0 Now Available, Linus Torvalds’ “Small Rant” on rc2 Release Statement, Ubuntu’s First User Data Report and More

      Perl version 5.28.0 has been released. According to LWN.net, highlights of this release, which was 13 months in the making with approximately 730,000 lines of changes, include “Unicode 10.0 support, string- and number-specific bitwise operators, a change to more secure hash functions, and safer in-place editing.” See the full list of changes here.

    • TIOBE Index for June 2018

      This month TypeScript debuts at position 93 in the TIOBE index top 100. The Microsoft language has been tracked for a couple of years now, but although its popularity in industry seems high, it never made it to the top 100. So finally it has got sufficient traction to be noticed. TypeScript is a strict superset of JavaScript, which means you can use it together with your existing JavaScript. But it adds a lot of extra type safety to the JavaScript language thanks to type annotations. In this sense it is an improved version of JavaScript. The fact that Google adopted TypeScript next to its own JavaScript variant language Dart is proof that TypeScript has a bright future.

    • 10 Most Popular Programming Languages In 2018: Learn To Code

      For beginners in the world of programming, the biggest dilemma is to decide where to begin or which language one should master for career benefits. At times, professional coders also face a situation where learning a new language seems more fruitful.

      Whatever may be the reason, here is a list of the most popular programming languages across the world to know which languages are ruling the charts. This list is based on the data sourced from TIOBE Programming Community Index, which is a popular indicator of the popularity of programming languages.

Leftovers
  • On Deep Work

    I recently stumbled upon Azeria’s blog post The Importance of Deep Work & The 30-hour Method For Learning a New Skill, and it seriously struck a chord with me. Over the past year or so, I’ve struggled with a lack of personal satisfaction in my life and my work. I tried various things to address the issue, but could not figure out a root cause until I read her article, and then it clicked with me.

    Even though I was constantly busy at work, I never felt like I was getting the things done that mattered to me: security research, tackling difficult technical challenges, focused security work. Instead I was constantly in meetings, switching tasks, dealing with email, and other work that felt like I was just barely keeping afloat at the office.

    [...]

    Shallow work is work that doesn’t require the full use of your brain, or that can be easily interrupted and resumed later, such as logistical tasks. In my case, this includes “doing email”, most meetings, and a lot of the collaboration I do with team mates. This is not to dismiss shallow work as unimportant, but it is different and done with a different mindset. It is also easier to get to shallow work with less mental friction, which leads to a tendency to go to shallow work.

  • New Google Podcasts app: who needs data portability anyway?

    Google introduced a new app for podcasts this week called Google Podcasts. Unlike most other podcast apps that are built on open standards; Google focuses on “content discovery” and curation, and a complete lack of interoperability and data portability.

    You might not thing about podcasts in these terms, but the podcasting ecosystem is built on open web standards where any listener can subscribe to any podcast. Anyone can publish a podcast and there is a diverse ecosystem of tools for podcast publishing. This openness is parts of what makes podcasts so great and why there are so many different podcasts to choose from.

    Google have decided to take their app in another direction. Before I get into that, I’d like to quickly talk about the “new app” itself.

  • Science
    • Thermostats, Locks and Lights: Digital Tools of Domestic Abuse

      The people who called into the help hotlines and domestic violence shelters said they felt as if they were going crazy.

      One woman had turned on her air-conditioner, but said it then switched off without her touching it. Another said the code numbers of the digital lock at her front door changed every day and she could not figure out why. Still another told an abuse help line that she kept hearing the doorbell ring, but no one was there.

      Their stories are part of a new pattern of behavior in domestic abuse cases tied to the rise of smart home technology. Internet-connected locks, speakers, thermostats, lights and cameras that have been marketed as the newest conveniences are now also being used as a means for harassment, monitoring, revenge and control.

    • Domestic Abuse Turns Digital: Smart Home Devices Being Used To Inculcate Fear

      They mention how abusers used smart home devices, remotely controlled thermostat, doorbells, security cameras and even door locks to intimidate their partners. These offenders used smartphone apps to control internet enabled smart devices. Thus, remotely accessing these devices, listening to private conversations and sometimes even watching victims on the video feed without their knowledge.

  • Hardware
    • The World’s Smallest Computer Can Fit on the Tip of a Grain of Rice

      The University held the record for the smallest computer after it created its 2x2x4mm Michigan Micro Mote in 2014. The Micro Mote (or M3) is fully functional and able to retain its programming and data even when it loses power. But then IBM debuted an even tinier “computer” in February, a 1mm x 1mm chip with “several hundred thousand” transistors. Here it is on a pile of salt, for scale:

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Russia: New remedy against an infringing generic drug

      Based on these arguments, the IP Court restrained to market and sell the copycat of Tasigna in Russia until the patent expiry.

      Starting from 2009, when the Supreme Commercial Court restrained a generic drug for the first time (Novartis AG vs. Farm-Syntez, case А40-65668/2008), the inferior courts used to turn a blind eye to commercialization of generic drugs until the patent expiry.

    • Gosport hospital: more than 450 patients died due to opioid drugs policy

      She later learned it was used to give drugs to seriously ill patients. “It was also clear to me that any patient put on to a syringe-driver would die shortly after,” Spilka told police at the time. “During the whole time I worked there I do not recall a single instance of a patient not dying having been put into a driver.”

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Medea Benjamin

      On this week’s program we hear a recent speech by author and peace organizer Medea Benjamin. She discusses her newly-published book “Inside Iran,” and explains why the anti-Iran words and actions of the Trump administration will actually strengthen the hand of hardliners in Iran, making reform more difficult. Medea Benjamin helped found the fair-trade organization Global Exchange, and the womens’ peace group Code Pink. Her previous books include “Kingdom of the Unjust” and “Drone Warfare.” She spoke at the Hillside Club

    • Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood

      The media nowadays are busy congratulating themselves for their vigorous criticism of Donald Trump. To exploit that surge of sanctimony, Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg rushed out The Post, a movie depicting an epic press battle with the Nixon administration. Critics raved over the film, which the New York Post enthusiastically labeled “journalism porn of the highest order.” Boston Public Radio station WBUR called it the “most fun you’ll ever have at a civics lesson.”

      Spielberg, touting his movie, claimed that “the free press is a crusader for truth,” But the media hoopla around The Post is akin to geezers boasting of having shown moments of courage when they were almost 50 years younger.

      The Post is built around the Pentagon Papers, a secret study begun in 1967 analyzing where the Vietnam War had gone awry. The 7000-page tome showed that presidents and military leaders had been profoundly deceiving the American people ever since the Truman administration and that the same mistakes were being endlessly repeated. Like many policy autopsies, the report was classified as secret and completely ignored by the White House and federal agencies, which most needed to heed its lessons. New York Times editor Tom Wicker commented in 1971 that “the people who read these documents in the Times were the first to study them.”

    • China shipyard manager might have leaked Liaoning secrets to CIA
    • China Investigates Shipyard Exec For Giving CIA Secrets About Aircraft Carrier

      One of the top executives at the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) is under investigation for allegedly selling secrets about the Liaoning aircraft carrier to US intelligence operatives, according to a new report.

    • Disgraced manager at shipbuilding juggernaut allegedly ‘sold Chinese carrier intel to CIA’

      A disgraced senior executive of the state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Corp (CSIC) is said to have fed US spies highly classified information, including the design and specifications of the Liaoning aircraft carrier that underwent years of refurbishment at CSIC’s Dalian Shipyard.

      CSIC general manager Sun Bo, the second-highest-ranking executive at the shipbuilding juggernaut, has run afoul of graft and crime busters at the National Supervision Commission and the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and is under investigation for “gross violation of laws and party discipline,” according to a one-line notice posted last week on the two commissions’ joint website that is devoid of any further details.

      Sun’s last public appearance was on June 11 during an inspection trip to a CSIC logistics subsidiary.

    • Senior shipbuilding executive in China arrested for selling military secrets to the CIA
    • At War With Ourselves: The Domestic Consequences of Foreign Policies

      In recent months a string of school shootings in the United States has rekindled the debate over gun violence, its causes and what can be done to stop it. But amid endless talk of school shootings and AR-15s, a large piece of the puzzle has been left conspicuously absent from the debate.

      Contrary to the notion that mass murderers are at the heart of America’s gun violence problem, data from recent years reveals that the majority of gun deaths are self-inflicted.

      In 2015, suicides accounted for over 60 percent of gun deaths in the U.S., while homicides made up around 36 percent of that year’s total. Guns are consistently the most common method by which people take their own lives.

      While the causes of America’s suicide-driven gun epidemic are complex and myriad, it’s clear that one group contributes to the statistics above all others: military veterans.

    • I’ve Been Reporting on MS-13 for a Year. Here Are the 5 Things Trump Gets Most Wrong.

      The gang is not invading the country. They’re not posing as fake families. They’re not growing. To stop them, the government needs to understand them.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • The ‘Murder’ Of Julian Assange

      They have zero evidence of this. Evidence is no longer required. Accusations alone now serve to take down leaders and destroy careers.

    • 2,192 Days of Confinement: Assange’s 6 Years in Ecuadorian Embassy in Numbers

      June 19 marks six years since the founder of WikiLeaks entered the building of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He hasn’t stepped foot outside it since.

      Julian Assange has been residing at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, where he sought refuge while facing sexual assault allegations in Sweden.

      981 days have passed since the Metropolitan police removed dedicated 24/7 guards from outside the Ecuadorian Embassy on October 12, 2015.

    • WikiLeaks Shares Alleged Diaries of Accused CIA Leaker Joshua Schulte

      Prosecutors have formally accused Joshua Schulte, a former employee of the US National Security and Central Intelligence Agency, of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks on June 18. Schulte is allegedly behind the Vault 7 releases, the largest leak of classified information from inside the CIA.

      The Department of Justice announced Schulte’s indictment in a press release, accusing him of allegedly using “his access at the agency to transmit classified material to an outside organization.”

      On June 19, WikiLeaks posted several undated documents allegedly written by Schulte himself. The documents are a sort of first-person diary chronicling Schulte’s arrest, life in jail, and court appearances. The documents were first published on a Facebook page identified by The Washington Post as belonging to Schulte.

    • WATCH LIVE: People Rally in London in Support of Wikileaks Founder Assange

      The protests to mark the sixth anniversary of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange seeking asylum in the UK’s Ecuadorean Embassy are being held in London.

      The organizers say that similar protests to demand the release of Assange and his immediate extradition to Australia are taking place outside US Embassies in seven countries.

    • ‘Assange Spent Six Years Without Seeing His Children, Being Home’ – Associate

      June 19 marks the sixth anniversary of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange has not stepped outside the embassy since sexual assault allegations against him emerged in Sweden in 2012. Sputnik spoke with Randy Credico, Assange’s long-term associate.

    • WikiLeaks’ Assange Forced to Choose Between Asylum and Health – Lawyer

      The physical and mental health of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is hiding out inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, is severely deteriorating, according to his lawyers.

      In a letter published in the Guardian newspaper in January, Boston University physician Sondra Crosby and London-based clinical psychologist Brock Chisholm warned that Assange’s physical and mental health were at risk after conducting their most recent exam last October.

    • Vigils for Assange’s six years in embassy
    • Demonstrators want Trump to pardon Assange

      President Trump has been in a pardoning mood lately, and Kevin Zeese has a suggestion on who should be next on his list.

      Mr. Zeese, co-director of the social justice group Popular Resistance, and about 15 fellow demonstrators braved the blazing sun and sticky humidity outside the White House on Tuesday morning, brandished signs that read “Free Julian Assange” and demanded Mr. Trump take action to halt the de facto detention and criminal prosecution against the controversial WikiLeaks founder.

      “Telling the truth, reporting the news is not a crime, and WikiLeaks has done more to report on some really important stories than any other media outlet,” Mr. Zeese told the small gathering through a megaphone.

    • Julian Assange in poor health after six years in Ecuadorian embassy

      Supporters of Julian Assange have gathered at a vigil in London to mark the sixth anniversary of the Wikileaks founder entering the Ecuadorean embassy to seek asylum.

      Mr Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, has told AM that the 46-year-old’s health is deteriorating and that doctors have concerns that the past six years have “had an extreme and likely permanent impact on his physical and mental health.”

    • The foreign Ministry of Ecuador: Assange Asylum in London can’t last forever

      Head the Ministry of foreign Affairs of Ecuador, josé Valencia said that the editor of WikiLeaks Julian Assange could not permanently remain at the Embassy in London. The time will come when the situation will change and he will have to change the location.

    • Reality Winner to take a plea deal in NSA leak case

      After a year of duking it out in federal court over allegations that she leaked top-secret government intelligence, former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner has agreed to a plea deal.

    • Accused NSA leaker reaches plea deal with investigators
    • Accused NSA leaker Reality Winner to accept a plea deal
    • Alleged NSA leaker Reality Winner takes guilty plea
    • Reality Winner will plead guilty for leaking NSA election hacking info
    • Reality Winner, The NSA Analyst Who Leaked Details Of A Russian Hacking Campaign, Will Plead Guilty, Her Mother Says

      A former National Security Agency employee will plead guilty to leaking a top-secret report detailing how the Russian government tried to hack US election systems, her mother and her supporters at the Courage Foundation say.

      Reality Winner, who worked as an analyst in the NSA’s Georgia station, was arrested last year after the Intercept published a top-secret chart detailing a spear-phishing operation conducted by Russian intelligence officers against county election workers throughout the United States in the months leading up to the 2016 election.

      Until the document was leaked, the government had kept the extent of the Russian hacking attempts secret. Even now, it is unclear if any of the spear-phishing attempts were successful. The government has not publicly addressed the campaign, though it has blamed Russian government hackers for two prominent cyberattacks related to the 2016 US election, the hacking and leaking of Democratic Party emails, and the probing of at least 21 state voter registration systems.

    • NSA leaker Reality Winner will plead guilty after admitting to FBI she smuggled classified documents out of the office by stuffing them in her pantyhose

      Reality Winner, the former National Security Agency contractor charged with leaking a classified document to a US news outlet, has decided to plead guilty.

      Winner, 26, is scheduled to plead guilty in US District Court on June 26, according to US Department of Justice spokesman Ian Prior.

    • Reality Winner to take a plea deal in NSA leak case

      After a year of duking it out in federal court over allegations that she leaked top-secret government intelligence, former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner has agreed to a plea deal.

      “I do know that she has always been ready and willing to accept responsibility for any wrongdoing, and that she will accept the consequences,” her mother, Billie Winner-Davis, told The Atlanta-Journal Constitution on Thursday.

      Documents show the agreement was received by the court on Thursday after an 18-minute conference call on Wednesday with U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Epps.

    • Reality Winner to sign plea deal

      Accused NSA whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner has signed a plea agreement. A plea hearing has been scheduled for 10.00am EST in Courtroom 2 at the Federal Justice Centre, United States District Court, 600 James Brown Boulevard, Augusta Georgia for Tuesday 26 June 2018. Further details of the plea agreement will be made available thereafter.

      Reality, a six-year Air Force veteran, was arrested in June 2017 for allegedly releasing a classified NSA report on attempted Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Reality, unusually for an Espionage Act case, was denied bail and has spent over a year in a county jail awaiting trial, while her defense has been gagged and hampered by rules governing the use of classified information in court. Had her case gone to trial, Reality faced a maximum ten years in prison under the draconian 1917 Espionage Act.

    • WikiLeaks Released an ICE Database and Everyone Lost Their Shiz

      On June 21, 2018, WikiLeaks released an ICE database called ICEPatrol and in what can only be described as a grotesque display of hypocrisy, conservative support for the organization came to a screeching halt. Citing the alleged dangers of releasing such information but failing to note that the data was already public, Trump supporters took to their keyboards and admonished WikiLeaks for their lack of oversight, declared the organization compromised, and theorized that WikiLeaks was, in fact, now working against their own publisher, Julian Assange.

      This hysteria is nothing new; U.S. officials and intelligence agencies have been trotting out “WikiLeaks puts people’s lives in danger,” since the Truman years, trolls have relentlessly circulated “WikiLeaks is compromised” ever since Assange’s internet was first cut in October 2016, and QAnon, the up and coming 8chan expert on all things related to “WikiLeaks can no longer be trusted,” warned us this might be the case.

      But if anyone had taken the time to investigate the database they would have learned that ICEPatrol is simply a public information repository put into an easy, searchable form. It’s really that simple and contrary to popular belief, it’s also something that Julian Assange would support. So in the words of Gob Bluth, perhaps you’ve made a “huge mistake,” you should put aside your undue concerns about WikiLeaks, and remember that if anyone is in danger it is and always has been, Julian Assange.

    • ASSANGE IS A JOURNALIST, SHOULD NOT BE PERSECUTED FOR PUBLISHING THE TRUTH

      Last week, rallies in support of Julian Assange were held around the world. We participated in two #AssangeUnity events seeking to #FreeAssange in Washington, DC.

      This is the beginning of a new phase of the campaign to stop the persecution of Julian Assange and allow him to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London without the threat of being arrested in the UK or facing prosecution by the United States.

    • The foul role of Spiked in the demonization of Julian Assange

      WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange is in increasing danger of being expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London and turned over to US authorities, at whose benevolent hands he could face decades in prison or even the death penalty.
      Assange has been denied use of communications for nearly three months on the order of the Ecuadorean government, in response to pressure from the US. On Wednesday, Ecuadorian foreign minister Jose Valencia warned that Assange could not claim asylum in the embassy indefinitely.
      Assange’s plight demonstrates the extent to which basic democratic rights have been eviscerated by the imperialist powers.
      For Britain’s Spiked magazine, however, whose writers advance themselves as the foremost humanist and, on occasion, even “Marxist” defenders of democratic freedoms and the rights of the individual against the state, the situation has not warranted comment for over a year.
      This is not an oversight. Before lapsing into silence, Spiked helped prepare the conditions for Assange’s isolation, as one of the most vindictive participants in the campaign against WikiLeaks. While styling itself the embodiment of contrarian radicalism, the publication nonetheless followed virtually word for word the British government’s attack on Assange’s rights and character. Here we have a supposedly libertarian tendency that is slavish in its support for the state.

    • Ex-government contractor takes plea deal in NSA leak case

      A former Georgia government contractor and Air Force veteran has reached a plea deal with the government in the first national security leaker case under the Trump administration.

    • Reality Winner will plead guilty to Espionage Act charges for leaking NSA doc on Russia election hack

      Reality Winner, 26, is the whistleblower accused of releasing an NSA document on Russia’s attack on U.S. voting systems to reporters at The Intercept.

      She has been charged under the Espionage Act for leaking information that led to unresponsive government officials taking notice, and then taking action, to protect the integrity of America’s elections.

      Today, news broke that she is expected to plead guilty in court on Tuesday.

    • NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner Will Accept Plea Agreement

      National Security Agency whistleblower Reality Winner, who was charged with violating the Espionage Act when she released an NSA report on alleged Russian hacking of voter registration systems, will accept a plea agreement.

      Winner is scheduled to formally change her plea to guilty on June 26 in a federal court in Augusta, Georgia.

      “Given the time and circumstances and the nature of the Espionage [Act] charge, I believe that this was the only way that she could receive a fair sentence,” Billie Winner-Davis stated. “I still disagree strongly with the use of the Espionage [Act] charge against citizens like Reality.”

      Her mother suggested the Espionage Act charge prevented Winner from explaining her actions to a jury, which made it difficult for her to “receive a fair trial,” as well as fair treatment in court.

    • NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner Agrees to Plea Deal

      Accused NSA whistleblower Reality Winner has signed a plea deal and is scheduled to formally change her plea to guilty next week. Winner has been jailed for the past year awaiting trial over charges that she leaked a top-secret document to The Intercept about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Winner had faced up to 10 years in prison for violating the Espionage Act. Details of the plea agreement have not been made public.

    • ICEPatrol: WikiLeaks Publishes Database of ICE Employees Despite Attempts to ‘Censor’ List
    • WikiLeaks publishes identities and information about ICE employees amid intensifying anger
    • WikiLeaks shares personal info of ICE agents
    • WikiLeaks Reposts ICE Employee Database Amid Separation Policy Scandal
    • [Older] George Takei: At least during my internment, I was not taken from my parents
    • Watch: Workers at SEP rally in Sydney demand freedom for Julian Assange
    • Ecuadorian foreign minister warns that Julian Assange’s political asylum is “not forever”

      Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Jose Valencia said on Wednesday his government was “reviewing” Julian Assange’s “situation” in discussion with the British authorities.

      In comments televised on Ecuavisa, one of the country’s largest broadcasting corporations, Valencia declared that the WikiLeaks editor’s political asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy would not last “forever.”

      Valencia’s statements are the latest public indication of a conspiracy, involving the British, US and Ecuadorian governments, to force Assange out of the embassy, where he was granted asylum six years ago.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Europe Already Has A Solution For Too-Quiet Electric Cars

      But I think I found the solution while walking through Paris. The city’s buses, many of which are hybrid or electric, have a lovely bell chime that drivers seem to trigger at-will when they’re passing through pedestrian-dense areas. You can hear what is sounds like just after the 1:37 mark in the video below.

      I think this bus example, or something like it, would be good to apply to the upcoming masses of electric vehicles for a few reasons.

  • Finance
    • Amidst Brexit chaos, Scotland has had enough of ‘grace and favour devolution’

      Brexit isn’t going well. Two years after the referendum vote for the UK to leave the EU there is still no agreed plan on what kind of Brexit the UK Government wants. Theresa May’s administration staggers from day to day – too weak to dare to define what it stands for – facing regular crises, critical parliamentary votes and defeats.

      Last week, after Scottish affairs was reduced to 15 minutes in the House of Commons, the SNP walked out during Prime Minister’s Questions, resulting in much media comment and headlines. But as the immediate shockwaves die down – does any of this have any longer term impact?

      A short summary of events so far might be helpful. The UK Government’s Brexit plans have consequences for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with the government meant to consult the three territories on what powers come back to the nations as a result of Brexit. Northern Ireland hasn’t had a devolved government since January 2017; Wales has, after much disquiet, given its agreement, but the Scottish Government and Parliament has not agreed with the latter withholding its consent from Brexit. All parties in the Parliament – SNP, Labour, Lib Dem and Scottish Green – agreed that the Tory form of Brexit is not acceptable – with only Ruth Davidson’s Tories siding with Westminster.

    • Why Brexit won’t work: the EU is about regulation not sovereignty

      Regulation, reinforced by human rights, has become a new sphere of government. It is now as essential to modern society as executive power, legislative authority and courts of law. The way we experience this is also novel. It does not stem from the influence of politicians, the role of authority whether national or local, or fear of justice. These familiar locations of power continue, but a new force has joined them as our intimate lives have become strangely politicised, from our health and diet to our metadata. The famous frontispiece of Hobbes’ Leviathan shows the people inhabiting the ruler. Today, rules have entered the bodies of citizens – and we want to know who is in charge of them and whether they enhance or imprison us.

      Brexit forces into the open this change, which has been underway since the 1970s. In the UK, those who support Leave have failed to understand the epochal significance of its development, while those who back Remain have failed to articulate it. The European Commission too, does not grasp its centrality. Brussels as well as Brexiteers are captives of 20th century notions of sovereignty and its unsustainable illusions of grandeur – illusions that are now being tested to their destruction, most immediately with Brexit.

    • UK Government minister hides leading role with hard Brexit group

      The Cabinet Secretary has been asked to investigate the conduct of Brexit minister, Steve Baker, after an openDemocracy investigation revealed that he had undisclosed meetings with the European Research Group, an influential group of Conservative MPs who want a hard, no-deal exit from the European Union.

      Baker, an arch Brexiteer, was chair of the ERG before being promoted last year into David Davis’s Department for Exiting the European Union. But the Tory minister continues to play a leading role in the ERG, attending private meetings of the anti-EU group in Westminster and corresponding regularly with ERG members, including current chairman, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

      In contravention of ministerial rules, none of these meetings nor Baker’s correspondence with ERG MPs has been included in transparency records published by DExEU.

      Through a sequence of Freedom of Information requests sent to DExEU, and in discussions held with senior Whitehall sources, openDemocracy has established how Baker avoided publicly disclosing his continuing links with the ERG by claiming his attendance at their private events “were not in his capacity as a minister” and therefore did not need to be listed in quarterly disclosures of relevant meetings.

    • Where are we with Brexit?

      Here are five certainties about Brexit – though there are people who even doubt or dispute one or more of these.

      One certainty is that on 29 March 2017 the UK notified the EU of its intention to leave the EU – though some say there was never a constitutionally valid “decision” to be notified.

      A second certainty is that, unless something happens to change it, the UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019, by automatic operation of law. The UK will cease to be part to, or bound by, the EU treaties.

      A third certainty is that the UK will not be ready to leave the EU on that date, unless there are transition arrangements in place – though some believe the UK is up for such a “hard Brexit”.

      A fourth certainty is that the EU wants the transition arrangements to be part of a withdrawal agreement, and that they maintain there cannot be, as a matter of law, transition arrangements without a withdrawal agreement.

    • The Supreme Court Makes A Federal Case Out Of South Dakota’s Inability To Collect Taxes From Its Residents And Thus A Big Mess

      In some ways the Supreme Court’s decision last week in South Dakota v. Wayfair may seem like a small thing: it simply overturned an earlier decision, Quill Corp v. North Dakota, which had concluded that states could not impose requirements to collect sales tax on businesses with no physical presence in the state. But in dispensing with that rule, the decision invited broader effects that may not be so small, thanks to the alarming reasoning the Court used to justify it.

      The Court was prompted to reverse its earlier decision – something that the Supreme Court does but rarely, thanks to the principle of stare decisis that ordinarily discourages the Court from messing with an earlier precedent – for a few reasons. In particular it was concerned that Internet businesses without a physical presence in the state had an advantage over those with one [p.12-13], and it accepted South Dakota’s claims that it was losing out on millions of dollars in sales tax revenue when South Dakotans bought things from out-of-state Internet businesses who were not collecting the sales taxes that normally would have been owed [p.2].

      These assumptions, if true, would raise reasonable policy concerns. But even if they were valid worries, it doesn’t follow that the Supreme Court should be the organ of government to address them, especially not when its doing so threatens to create additional policy concerns of its own.

      First, South Dakota may be heavily dependent on sales tax to generate revenue, but that’s its choice. If consumption taxes turn out to be an inadequate way of filling its coffers, it could choose to impose other forms of taxation, like an income tax, as many other states have. It is not dependent on the United States Supreme Court to help it balance its budget.

    • Why there should be a political party realignment after Brexit – an argument

      Until fairly recently there was a natural political home for those in the UK who sincerely believed in certain things.

      If you believed in the supremacy of parliament, and traditional constitutional thinking generally, there was a political home.

      If you believed in the union with Northern Ireland and with Scotland, there was a political home.

      And if you believed in UK membership of the European Union, or even just of the Single Market, there was a political home.

      That home was the political party which had its origins in the opposition to constitutional changes of 1828 to 1832, and had since then had promoted the importance of Parliament and a balanced constitution; the political party which had united with the Northern Irish unionists and defended the union with Scotland in the twentieth century; and the political party which had taken the UK into the (old) EEC in 1973 and had shaped the Single Market in the 1980s.

      That party was, of course, the Conservative and Unionist Party.

      Then Brexit happened.

      And now there are those, who call themselves Conservatives, who want to believe parliament less important than prime ministerial discretion and the “will of the people”; who would rather have Brexit than the union with Northern Ireland and Scotland; and who want to reverse the European policy of both Ted Heath and Margaret Thatcher.

      There is nothing wrong in any of this – parties and polices change over time, and that is a healthy quality in a democracy.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • EU lawmakers miffed over new Facebook snub

      European Union lawmakers are unhappy that Facebook is refusing to comply with their request to send two senior officials to testify at a hearing into the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

    • How Voting Laws Have Changed Since 2016

      While some laws are designed to make voting easier and others can make it harder, any change has the potential to sow confusion. Uncertainty about the law can slow down voting, or even result in lost votes if the changes come too close to an election or if poll workers or voters are unsure about what laws are in effect.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • PeerTube: An Open Source YouTube Alternative To Beat Censorship

      When it’s about watching videos online, YouTube is the first thing that comes to our minds. But the popular video sharing platform is often subjected to censorship in many countries. There are many countries including China and North Korea that ban YouTube from time to time.

      Leave the others, recently, even YouTube ended up blocking many legitimate Channels as a collateral damage of its copyright crackdown. Ultimately, the content creators are the ones who get affected due to all of this blocking.

    • PeerTube: A ‘Censorship’ Resistent YouTube Alternative

      YouTube is a great video platform that has a lot to offer to both consumers and creators. At least, those who play by the rules. For creators, there is a major drawback though, one that put a spotlight on the alternative ‘free-libre’ software PeerTube this week.

    • The ACLU’s Longstanding Commitment to Defending Speech We Hate

      As we continue to defend those expressing offensive, harmful views, we also insist on our right to condemn those views.

      The ACLU, the nation’s oldest and largest civil liberties organization, has always had its share of critics. Many condemned us for defending Nazis’ right to march in Skokie in the 1970s. Some, like former Attorney General Ed Meese, labeled us the “criminals’ lobby” for advocating for constitutional rights for those accused of crime. We earned few friends when we represented Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen suspected of terrorist ties and killed in a drone strike by the Obama administration. After we represented a white supremacist denied a permit by the city of Charlottesville, we were criticized for defending white supremacists. Such criticism comes with the territory, and does not dissuade us from defending the Bill of Rights, no matter how unpopular our clients may be.

      But Wendy Kaminer’s criticism, published in the Wall Street Journal, is different from those challenges to our work. Her critique is predicated on a fundamental misrepresentation. She falsely accuses the ACLU of having secretly changed its policy regarding free speech — and of launching an investigation to determine who “leaked” the “secret” document that she claims reveals this asserted change in policy. In fact, the ACLU remains fully committed to defending free speech as the document she cites – our guidelines for case selection — expressly reaffirms. That document does not change our longstanding policies and has never been secret.

      After the tragic events in Charlottesville, we reaffirmed our commitment to defending speech with which we disagree. The ACLU Board — the only entity with the authority to change ACLU policy — discussed Charlottesville, and no one on the staff or the board asked the board to change our policies.

    • XRP Ledger is highly resistant to censorship, says David Schwartz
    • Medium Is the Latest Platform to Start Censoring Crypto Companies

      Cryptocurrency, a technology based upon principles of transparency, accountability, and censorship-resistance, is facing further censorship. Blogging service Medium joins a long list of platforms to have clamped down on crypto content together with Facebook, Google, and Mailchimp. As a service that’s meant to support free speech, Medium’s crackdown is all the more mystifying.

    • To support censorship resistant money, you must first have an anti-censorship stance

      Censorship is the suppression of information, usually by government authorities. You could write an encyclopaedia on the topic since the instances of its practice are truly countless. But the one that can cause the most profound side effect, is money. It’s a big one.

      To this day, a very large part of the Bitcoin community is still unaware of the extremes that Core affiliates have undertaken to establish totalitarian rule over BTC. The main communication channels for Bitcoin are today, still heavily censored. The historical trail of censorship is profoundly evident if you know where to look.

    • Conservative Coalition Calls on Tech Giants to Provide Plans for Eliminating Bias and Censorship

      “Hate speech” is a common concern among social media companies, but no two firms define it the same way. Their definitions are vague and open to interpretation, rendering them useless. Today, hate speech means anything liberals don’t like. Silencing those you disagree with is dangerous. If companies can’t tell users clearly what it is, then they shouldn’t try to regulate it. The definitions of “hate speech” must be clear, not subject to interpretation.

    • 30 Conservative Groups Call on Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to Stop Censorship
    • Interview with House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy: Censorship of Conservatives

      Online companies such as Twitter, Amazon and Facebook have been criticized for alleged bias against conservative content. I spoke to House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) about this issue and what is being done to resolve it.

    • Censorship: Entire European Identitarian Movement Permanently Banned From Facebook
    • Naked rowers stand up to Instagram censorship
    • Pakistani journalists condemn censorship, killings

      Media organizations are calling for press freedom as journalists continue to be targeted on both sides of the India-Pakistan border.

      More than 20 journalists carrying photos of Indian Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari gathered on June 19 outside Lahore Press Club, where they chanted slogans against media censorship. Former Pakistani information minister Pervaiz Rasheed also expressed solidarity with protesters.

      Bukhari, the editor of Rising Kashmir, was shot dead outside his office in Srinagar on June 14.

      “We demand an impartial inquiry into the assassination. His truth was not tolerated. He worked in difficult conditions and faced bans on both advertisements and his newspaper. We are seriously concerned over censorship across Jammu, Kashmir and Pakistan,” Imtiaz Alam, secretary-general of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), told ucanews.com.

    • Opposition candidate’s speech banned in Turkey

      An Istanbul court has ordered the censorship of internet sites which quoted opposition candidate Muharrem İnce at a rally at the behest of one of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s sons, left-nationalist news site OdaTV said.

      Erdoğan had described how İnce had been taken to court over unpaid social security premiums for his employees while running a cram school over 20 years ago.

    • Censorship rife in Turkey as snap election is called

      On June 24, snap Presidential and legislative elections will take place in Turkey. The elections will be the first to occur since changes made in 2017 turned the Turkish parliament into a Presidency. If President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan retains control, he will have the ability to issue decrees, dissolve parliament, and appoint ministers and top judges.

      Sources believe it will be the closest Turkish election in recent times. Erdoğan’s control over Turkey is faltering, causing his Justice and Development Party (AKP) to enact evermore authoritarian policies.

    • China censors John Oliver after he mocks its president

      John Oliver must have seen it coming.

      The British comedian’s name has been censored on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, a few days after his popular show “Last Week Tonight” satirized President Xi Jinping – and exactly this kind of internet censorship.

      On Wednesday morning, Inkstone’s attempts to post messages about the comedian or the show were blocked by the Chinese social media site, citing a violation of regulations.

    • John Oliver, Having Mocked Chinese Censorship, Is Censored in China

      In a 20-minute segment about China that aired Sunday on the satirical news show “Last Week Tonight,” the host John Oliver brought up President Xi Jinping’s resemblance to Winnie the Pooh.

      That, among other delicate references, seems to have touched a nerve in China, where the British comedian has now been censored on a major social media platform — just as the cartoon bear had been.

      “Apparently, Xi Jinping is very sensitive about his perceived resemblance to Winnie the Pooh,” Mr. Oliver said on the show. “And I’m not even sure it’s that strong a resemblance, to be honest. But the fact he’s annoyed about it means people will never stop bringing it up.”

    • China’s Xi allowed to remain ‘president for life’ as term limits removed

      China has approved the removal of the two-term limit on the presidency, effectively allowing Xi Jinping to remain in power for life.

      The constitutional changes were passed by the annual sitting of parliament, the National People’s Congress.

      The vote was widely regarded as a rubber-stamping exercise. Two delegates voted against the change and three abstained, out of 2,964 votes.

      China had imposed a two-term limit on its president since the 1990s.

      But Mr Xi, who would have been due to step down in 2023, defied the tradition of presenting a potential successor during October’s Communist Party Congress.

      Instead, he consolidated his political power as the party voted to enshrine his name and political ideology in the party’s constitution – elevating his status to the level of its founder, Chairman Mao.

    • Putting LGBT-themed books behind closed doors is censorship that denies children supportive resources
    • China Is Partly Lifting Its Heavy Internet Censorship In One Province To Promote Tourism
    • Chinese island eyes oasis from web censorship for foreigners
    • Telegram’s Durov Awarded In Kazakhstan For Standing Against Censorship

      The Union of Kazakhstan’s Journalists has awarded Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov for his stance in a long-running battle between popular messaging service Telegram and the Russian authorities.

      The union announced on June 21 that Durov was included in its annual list of award recipients “for his principled position against censorship and the state’s interference into citizens’ free online correspondence.”

      The other recipients included journalists, mainly from Kazakhstan.

      Telegram CEO and founder Durov has vowed to reject any attempt by the Russian security services to gain forced access to messages.

    • The political censorship of Britain’s streets

      How unaccountable organisations called ‘Business Improvement Districts’ are just one of a number of attempts to shut down democratic debate in our towns.

    • Review: The Cleaners is a brisk, disquieting doc on Facebook’s censorship farms

      People are terrible, and so they are terrible when they are online, posting appalling stuff on social media: death threats, hate speech, beheadings, child pornography. And, just as in real life, most of us don’t seem to care about how the garbage gets cleaned up, as long as we don’t have to do it. On Facebook, as new directors Block and Riesewieck discover, that means hundreds of poorly paid Filipinos racing through up to 25,000 images in a single shift, given mere seconds to decide if they should delete or ignore certain pieces of content. Psychological support for the workers is all but nonexistent: They become numb to the horrors they witness, suffer PTSD and, sometimes, take their own lives. Meanwhile, their actions can have a numbing effect on political discourse half a world away if they opt to remove content they don’t fully comprehend. (Say, rudely satirical drawings of Donald Trump or Turkish President Recep Erdogan.) Choosing to leave up content they don’t understand can have deadly consequences: Facebook was used to inflame the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar. When this brisk, disquieting doc debuted at Sundance, these censorship farms were largely secret, but Facebook has started to bow to public pressure and open up some of the process. The troubling questions remain.

    • Cinema, Consciousness, and Censorship

      Cinema is transformative—it inspires, evokes, and agitates beyond its entertainment value. For this reason, cinema becomes vulnerable at the hands of regimes wishing to control ideas being consumed by the public.

      Only a few countries, mostly those in the Global South such as India, Iran, China, and Malaysia, still have a censor board. Censorship in the rest of the world is limited to child pornography—other than that, films are not censored but certified with preview grades and are examined by film critics for moral and philosophical deviations.

    • This Week in Unnecessary Censorship
    • Replace censorship with ratings’
    • Liberia: No Media Censorship – Micat Boss Allay Fear

      The government of Liberia effort to clean the media licensing regime through a thorough review process has met taut criticisms from segment of the Liberian media with some describing the move as an attempt to clampdown -something Information Minister Eugene L. Nagbe says is unfortunate.

      The Government of Liberia on Monday, June 18, 2018 announced a review process and suspended all media licenses issued between January 1 and June 18, 2018. The GOL said during the period, duplication of frequencies to radio and television operators, and incorrect designations and submissions will be reviewed.

    • This is an act of censorship, says publisher of independent regional news journal

      A court in Syktyvkar, Komi Republic, has fined the independent regional news journal 800,000 rubles (€10.850) and its Chief Editor Sofia Krapotkina 40.000 rubles (€543) following the publishing of a video interview with Mikhail Svetov, a leading member of the Russian Libertarian Party.

      The interview, which is made by one of the newspaper’s independent bloggers, includes statements that «propagate illegal drug use», Roskomnadzor argues. It is supported by the local city judge who this week made clear that the newspaper will have to pay the record-high sum.

    • The ACLU’s Longstanding Commitment to Defending Speech We Hate

      As we continue to defend those expressing offensive, harmful views, we also insist on our right to condemn those views.

      The ACLU, the nation’s oldest and largest civil liberties organization, has always had its share of critics. Many condemned us for defending Nazis’ right to march in Skokie in the 1970s. Some, like former Attorney General Ed Meese, labeled us the “criminals’ lobby” for advocating for constitutional rights for those accused of crime. We earned few friends when we represented Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen suspected of terrorist ties and killed in a drone strike by the Obama administration. After we represented a white supremacist denied a permit by the city of Charlottesville, we were criticized for defending white supremacists. Such criticism comes with the territory, and does not dissuade us from defending the Bill of Rights, no matter how unpopular our clients may be.

      But Wendy Kaminer’s criticism, published in the Wall Street Journal, is different from those challenges to our work. Her critique is predicated on a fundamental misrepresentation. She falsely accuses the ACLU of having secretly changed its policy regarding free speech — and of launching an investigation to determine who “leaked” the “secret” document that she claims reveals this asserted change in policy. In fact, the ACLU remains fully committed to defending free speech as the document she cites – our guidelines for case selection — expressly reaffirms. That document does not change our longstanding policies and has never been secret.

      After the tragic events in Charlottesville, we reaffirmed our commitment to defending speech with which we disagree. The ACLU Board — the only entity with the authority to change ACLU policy — discussed Charlottesville, and no one on the staff or the board asked the board to change our policies.

    • Marriyum condemns media censorship

      PML-N spokesperson and former minister of information and broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb has condemned increasing media censorship in the country.

      She emphasized that such censorship is against Article 19 of the Constitution which ensures freedom of speech as a fundamental right. She stressed that free press is a fundamental pillar of mature democracies and civilized societies. The PML-N 2018 manifesto is firmly committed to independent journalism and freedom of expression.

    • What’s Happening at The US Geological Survey Looks a Lot Like Censorship

      Over the past year, the Trump administration has been “tightening rules” at the US Geological Survey (USGS), but when you add it all up, what’s happening at the science agency looks a lot like censorship.

      In May of 2017, the Department of Interior (DOI), deleted a sentence from a USGS press release acknowledging the link between climate change and sea level rise. In December, some scientists at the agency were blocked from going to the biggest meeting in their field. In March of 2018, the DOI tried to change the “inflammatory” language used in a USGS report on melting glaciers.

    • ‘This Is Censorship’: Trump’s War on Facts Continues With Muzzling of USGS Scientists

      The Trump administration appears to be ramping up its war on science.

      According to the Los Angeles Times, the Interior Department, which overseas the U.S. Geological Survey, has told scientists there they must obtain approval from officials at the parent agency before responding to most media requests.

      “This is censorship,” commented the March for Science.

      Among the documents the Times cites is an April 25 email to employees from the DOI press secretary, which describes protocol as interviews by scientists demanding such approval in cases when there’s a request from a national outlet, or when the topic is “very controversial” or “likely to become a national story.”

      A later email from a USGS official describes the press secretary as being the one authorized to give the thumbs or down to the media requests, and offered up a list of questions they could answer to facilitate that process, including “How will the scientist answer the questions? Be specific. Include links to published studies if available.”

    • The war against rap: censoring drill may seem radical but it’s not new

      The long and inglorious relationship between the police and rap hit a new low last week when a judge issued a court order banning five drill rappers from recording new tracks without police permission. West London group 1011 – the numbers refer to local postcodes W10 and W11 – were up on charges of conspiracy to commit violent disorder after being arrested last November for carrying machetes, knives and baseball bats. They initially claimed to have the weapons for use as props in a drill video, but later pleaded guilty. In addition to sentences ranging between 10 months and three-and-a-half years, the group received three-year criminal behaviour orders (CBOs, successors to the asbo), banning them from mentioning death, injury or rival postcodes in their songs and requiring them to inform police of any new music videos within 24 hours, and give 48 hours’ notice of any live performances. “This isn’t about us straying into the area of regulation or censorship,” said DCS Kevin Southworth, head of the Metropolitan police’s Operation Trident, somewhat implausibly.

      The controversial CBO follows several months of heightening tensions over the relationship between drill’s violent lyrical content and real-world youth violence. Last month, at Scotland Yard’s request, YouTube removed more than 30 drill videos, and the head of Trident’s gang unit said he was seeking new measures to treat rappers like terrorism suspects: officers would no longer need to prove videos were linked to specific acts of violence in order to secure a conviction for incitement. Drill songs and videos have been cited as evidence of violent intent in several court cases in the last 18 months, and the Met has a database of more than 1,400 videos to “use as an intelligence tool”, according to the BBC.

    • Turkey’s Citizens Turn to VPN Technology to Overcome Widespread Censorship Ahead of Election, BestVPN.com Reports
    • Censorship Machines are ‘Destroying The Internet’ As We Speak?

      Online censorship has always been a hot topic and with the EU’s proposed “upload filters” hitting the headlines, it’s at the top of the agenda once again.

      The fear of losing the ability to share ‘memes’ plays well on social media. Similarly, many journalists happily use ‘censorship’ in their headlines as, apparently, the fate of the Internet is at stake.

      A common theme is that, if the plans are implemented, powerful corporations may soon decide whether you can share something online – fair use or not. While to a degree this fear is warranted, it’s also nothing new.

    • As Turkey went to the polls, a global network was mapping online censorship in real-time

      It was just after six in the evening, Pakistan time, on Sunday June 3, 2018, when reports started trickling in that people couldn’t access the website of the Awami Workers Party, a relatively new left-wing political group gearing up to contest the Pakistani election in late July.

      For Nighat Dad, a digital rights lawyer and activist, the the story was depressingly familiar. Pakistan has a long history of of internet censorship, and is ranked ‘not free’ in Freedom House’s ‘Freedom on the Net’ report for 2017. In August 2016, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority banned sites connected to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement opposition party. Earlier that year the country lifted a ban on YouTube that had lasted just over three years.

      But this time, Dad had a secret weapon to fight back with: data. She worked with NetBlocks, a civil society group that helps collect evidence on internet censorship, to quickly assess the extent of this block. After Dad and others shared NetBlock’s web probe – an in-browser tool that checks which websites are currently being blocked, and where that blocking is happening – the evidence quickly came in that the website was blocked by a range of ISPs, including the PTCL, Pakistan’s national telecoms company.

    • Coalition of National Civil Rights Leaders Condemn NFL’s Censorship of Peaceful Protest During the National Anthem

       A broad coalition of leaders of national civil rights organizations released a letter to the National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell objecting to the NFL’s new rule censoring players’ peaceful protests during the national anthem of police violence against unarmed African Americans and other people of color. When players take a knee during the national anthem, they seek to raise awareness of police brutality and violence routinely perpetrated upon unarmed and nonviolent people of color. 63% of unarmed people killed by the police are people of color; police are twice as likely to kill unarmed African Americans as white Americans. Racially-biased policing undermines our criminal justice system.

    • Bad News = Blackout: Behind Tamil Nadu’s Rising Media Censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Announcing STARTTLS Everywhere: Securing Hop-to-Hop Email Delivery

      Today we’re announcing the launch of STARTTLS Everywhere, EFF’s initiative to improve the security of the email ecosystem.

      Thanks to previous EFF efforts like Let’s Encrypt, and Certbot, as well as help from the major web browsers, we’ve seen significant wins in encrypting the web. Now we want to do for email what we’ve done for web browsing: make it simple and easy for everyone to help ensure their communications aren’t vulnerable to mass surveillance.

    • A Technical Deep Dive into STARTTLS Everywhere

      Today we’re announcing the launch of STARTTLS Everywhere, EFF’s initiative to improve the security of the email ecosystem.

      Thanks to previous EFF efforts like Let’s Encrypt, and Certbot, as well as help from the major web browsers, we’ve seen significant wins in encrypting the web. Now we want to do for email what we’ve done for web browsing: make it simple and easy for everyone to help ensure their communications aren’t vulnerable to mass surveillance.

    • Facebook’s Patents Reveals Its Creepy Plans To Collect More Data

      According to New York Times, Facebooks has filed patents to use the front-facing cameras to read users’ expressions and determine whether you liked the content displayed on your feed.

      The company also wants to track your socioeconomic status, how many hours of sleep you get, and it has even attempted to predict when your friends will die!

      Even though Facebook says that its patent applications do not necessarily exhibit its future product plans, but altogether they expose the company’s incessant hunger for collecting users’ personal information and find ways to monetize it.

    • What 7 Creepy Patents Reveal About Facebook

      Facebook has filed thousands of patent applications since it went public in 2012. One of them describes using forward-facing cameras to analyze your expressions and detect whether you’re bored or surprised by what you see on your feed. Another contemplates using your phone’s microphone to determine which TV show you’re watching. Others imagine systems to guess whether you’re getting married soon, predict your socioeconomic status and track how much you’re sleeping.

      A review of hundreds of Facebook’s patent applications reveals that the company has considered tracking almost every aspect of its users’ lives: where you are, who you spend time with, whether you’re in a romantic relationship, which brands and politicians you’re talking about. The company has even attempted to patent a method for predicting when your friends will die.

      Facebook has said repeatedly that its patent applications should not be taken as indications of future product plans. “Most of the technology outlined in these patents has not been included in any of our products, and never will be,” Allen Lo, a Facebook vice president and deputy general counsel, and the company’s head of intellectual property, said in an email.

    • Massive claims against unlawful data retention

      62 NGOs, community networks, academics and activists are sending a joint open letter to the European Commission, along with various complaints against EU Member States’ policy on blanket data retention.

      [...]

      European law is not only more favourable for our rights and freedoms: It also trumps over national laws.. We want it to be enforced so that the 17 Member States currently in breach of EU law have to change their policies.

      To this end, we are sending several complaints to the European Commission. This way, we invite the Commission to investigate and, eventually, to bring these States before the Court of Justice. This way, each of them can be sanctioned for its violation of EU law. To introduce our action, we are attaching to these complaints a joint open letter supported by more than 60 signatories in 19 Member States, which will also be sent to the European Commission.

    • Three social media regulations the US needs to import from Europe

      On May 25, the European Union implemented what is essentially a set of rules that technology companies must follow. The intent of these new laws is to give citizens more control over the data that these companies collect on them.

      While it does not seem like the U.S. is ready (or should) adapt all of them, there are several key rules that would be a solid foundation for the homeland.

    • EU Crackdown Hasn’t Made U.S. Tech Change Its Behavior

      A pattern is emerging in the war between the European Union’s antitrust authorities and U.S. tech companies. The changes that Google and Apple made after adverse rulings and large fines appear to be little but window-dressing, and left intact the problems the penalties were intended to solve.

    • Why did privacy expert Max Schrems immediately file GDPR complaints against Google and Facebook – and will he win?

      The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force last week. As Rick Falkvinge noted in his post on the topic, its impact is potentially huge. The GDPR has already led to a flood of (annoying) emails from companies eager to tell us about their updated privacy policy, and the blocking of EU visitors to some US-based sites and services – another reason to use a VPN. But it’s not clear yet whether GDPR will fundamentally re-shape privacy around the world, or simply be ignored by most major Internet companies based outside the EU. We are about to find out. Just six minutes after the enforcement of GDPR began, the Austrian data protection authority received the first complaint under the new law:

    • Internet Policy – Whois And GDPR: Sky Not Falling Just Yet?

      The struggle over how to comply with Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation dominates the agenda of the upcoming meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Panama. With the basic question how much data ICANN can ask its contractual partners to collect and store about its domain name customers, ICANN this week opened another hot topic to be discussed when publishing a paper on unified access to registration data. Meanwhile, trademark owners weighed in.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • When Allen Ginsberg met the head of the CIA – and offered him a wager

      It is difficult to imagine a more unlikely pairing. Allen Ginsberg, beat poet and icon of the counterculture, and Richard Helms, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) 1966-1973, during the most controversial years of the Vietnam War. But in March 1971, in a drawing room of the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC, the two came face to face in a fittingly bizarre encounter.

      Ginsberg, due to give a reading at the gallery that evening, approached Helms with a wager. He told Helms that he suspected the CIA of being involved in the illegal opium trade in South-East Asia. If he was right about this controversial allegation, Ginsberg proposed that Helms should agree to meditate for one hour every day for the rest of his life. “It is terribly important to get him into an improved mind-consciousness,” Ginsberg later told reporters.

    • ICE Gave Ex-CIA Firm $162 Million Contract to Transport Immigrant Children

      The Trump administration has been paying millions of dollars to an intelligence agency contractor to transport immigrant children to shelters across the United States, The Daily Beast reports.

      MVM, Inc. has a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide “unaccompanied alien children (UAC) transportation services” worth $162 million, according to documents and records reviewed by The Daily Beast. Recent job postings by MVM showed that it was looking for people to escort immigrant children from the border on commercial airlines. One of MVM’s job postings was for a “Bilingual Travel Youth Care Worker.” The job would entail “accompanying [children] on domestic flights and via ground transportation to shelters all over the country.”

    • Netizen Report: Who will be next? Venezuela’s political crisis sees a new wave of censorship, media repression

      The Advox Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

      Online censorship and repression of social media users are reaching new heights in Venezuela, where citizens continue to protest dire economic and public health conditions wrought by the country’s ongoing political crisis.

      It has become extraordinarily difficult for journalists to report the news, as they face regular accusations of “disturbing public order” or “threatening the revolution”. Social media users who actively engage with a broad public on various civic issues are also being targeted.

      In mid-May, popular Twitter user Pedro Jaimes, who offered climate, meteorological and air traffic reports to nearly 80,000 followers, went missing. Shortly before his disappearance, Jaimes had tweeted about the pathway of an airplane carrying Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, information that is available to the public through online news outlet Efecto Cocuyo.

    • Human Rights Council Examines Safety Of Journalists And Protection Of Media

      Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “[e]veryone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.” Yet, there are still places around the world where people do not enjoy this right. This was one of the foci of discussion at the ongoing Human Rights Council meeting this week.

      The 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council is taking place from 18 June to 6 July.

      [...]

      In Mexico, Kaye told the 19 June session, there are certain issues relating to the level of freedom of expression. First, Mexico faces a crisis of security and at the centre of this crisis is a breakdown in the rule of law and governance leading to and worsened by murders, disappearances and torture. This violence seeks to undermine public debate and civic participation and has often singled out journalists, said Kaye. He highlighted that this year, at least 6 journalists have been murdered in Mexico.

      As a result, Kaye urged the strengthening of “mechanisms to prevent attacks on journalists including publication of detailed statistics concerning crimes and criminal accountability measures taken, extensive training of journalists in situations of risks, and adoption of contingency plans across high-risk states.”

    • He Feared the CIA Would Delete a Document Detailing Its Torture Program. So He Took It.

      Daniel Jones noticed documents disappearing from his computer at a CIA facility. A staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jones had been investigating the agency’s torture program for years, reviewing evidence that showed how interrogators abused detainees after the 9/11 attacks and lied about it. The smoking gun was a document that Jones had come to call the Panetta Review. One night, he dropped pages of it into his bag and slipped out of the building.

      Jones tells the story in an interview with Sarah Wildman on our podcast, The E.R. He says Gina Haspel, who had a role in the torture program and now serves as the new CIA director, should be held accountable.

    • Protesters Shut Down Parkway East Over Killing Of Antwon Rose By East Pittsburgh Police Officer

      “I’m thinking that the cops should be held accountable,” she said. “I’m thinking that Antwon should be here. I’m thinking we should not be having this rally because he should be here, he should not have been killed.”

    • Leaked ICE Manual Shows Gov’t Allowing Informants To Engage In Illegal Behavior, Impersonate Lawyers, Journalists, And Doctors

      The 9/11 attacks gave us the DHS. And from that atrocity came ICE. We used to get by with Customs and a Border Patrol, but no, we needed something additional that tied the homeland’s “security” to a new, deeply brutal form of “customs enforcement.” Normally, the word “customs” would suggest the rounding up of illegal imported goods or the collection of duty payments from incoming arrivals.

      Instead, we were handed an agency that concerns itself mainly with ejecting people from the country in the most aggressive way possible, cheered on by White House officials and a large group of Americans who view our closest southern nation with deep suspicion and a touch of xenophobia. ICE’s current activities aren’t the fault of the Trump Administration, but this administration has done more than most to take everything that’s bad about ICE (which is a lot) and crank it up to 11.

      Warrantless raids, misrepresentation of advocacy efforts, deporting critical journalists… these are all part of ICE’s playbook. But there’s far more to it than this. The official “playbook” for ICE undercover operations basically allow the agency to operate as a criminal operation and engage in illegal activity for the greater good of booting immigrants out of the US.

    • Arizona Prison Officials Found in Contempt for Massive Prison Health Care Scandal

      Federal court orders independent experts to oversee monitoring of Arizona prisons after massive failure of medical care.

      The stories from Arizona prisons are horrifying.

      A 43-year-old died from a staph infection. A 36-year-old died from delays in diagnosis and emergency care for an aortic dissection. Three men died from complications from metastatic cancer, which spread throughout their bodies due to delays in care. They all died excruciating deaths, their suffering aggravated by a failure to manage their pain properly.

      Before these people died in 2017, they were among the 34,000 people housed in Arizona’s state prisons who are completely dependent upon the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) and its for-profit contractor, Corizon Health, for all medical and mental health care. ADC, in its own reviews, found that these deaths were “caused by or affected in a negative manner by healthcare personnel.” These findings came to light during a series of contempt hearings held earlier this year in federal court in Phoenix in Parsons v. Ryan, a case brought by the ACLU and the Prison Law Office.

      But medical care is not the end of the horror for the people incarcerated in Arizona’s prisons. A lack of mental health care has been equally disastrous. In the spring of 2017, there were four suicides in three weeks in Arizona prisons, an astonishing rate of self-harm in a state prison system.

    • Probable Cause Doesn’t Excuse Retaliatory Arrest, Supreme Court Rules

      A very, very narrow ruling by the Supreme Court might provide a few more opportunities for citizens to seek redress for retaliatory acts by their government. This probably won’t do much for Fane Lozman, unfortunately. He may have won the big battle but it’s being remanded to the appeals court which has a lot of options on how to approach this and not many of them point to Lozman winning this lawsuit.

      Lozman was no fan of the Riviera Beach (FL) city council. He attended many meetings to criticize council members and their plans to use eminent domain to seize waterfront homes. He also sued the city for violating open meetings law by approving an agreement with developers without allowing the issue to be publicly discussed first.

      [...]

      Lozman sued the city, alleging the arrest was retaliatory and an infringement on his First Amendment rights. The city defended itself by claiming the officer had probable cause to arrest Lozman because of his refusal to leave the meeting voluntarily. Lozman does not contest the arrest or question the probable cause determination. He does not challenge the constitutionality of the city ordinance used to effect his arrest. His issue is stripped down to one thing: the arrest stemmed directly from the council’s agreement to “intimidate” Lozman and other litigants.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Court Says ISPs Can’t Use Net Neutrality Repeal to Dodge Lawsuits For Shitty Service

      The Trump FCC’s rollback of federal net neutrality rules didn’t just kill net neutrality. The repeal also gutted FCC authority over ISPs, shoveling any remaining authority to an FTC that’s ill-equipped to actually police ISPs (the entire point and why ISPs lobbied for it). This comically-misleading “Restoring Internet Freedom” order also tries to ban states from protecting consumers. The language, included in the repeal after heavy lobbying by Comcast and Verizon, attempts to “pre-empt” state authority over ISPs.

      ISPs quickly got to work trying to use the language to dodge accountability.

      Charter Spectrum, for example, has been trying to use the FCC’s pre-emption language to dodge a lawsuit for shoddy service. New York State sued Charter last year for falsely advertising speeds company e-mails show execs knew it couldn’t deliver. The suit also highlighted how Charter execs routinely gamed a regulator speed test system (comprised of volunteer routers with custom firmware) in an attempt to falsely represent the company’s network performance. The company was also accused of artificially inflating congestion to cash in on interconnection disputes.

    • Public Knowledge Applauds New York v Charter Communications Decision

      Today, the First Department of the Supreme Court, Appellate Division of the State of New York held that the Federal Communications Commission has not preempted states from enforcing laws “that prevent fraud, deception and false advertising” with respect to broadband practices.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • No settlement for Xiaomi and Ericsson in India, but the Chinese firm can sell MediaTek-powered devices there [Ed: IAM now writes an entire article to merely say that something is not news or did not happen. What the heck is the point of that? Slow news?]

      Some recent statements by MediaTek CFO David Ku stirred rumours that Xiaomi and Ericsson had settled their patent dispute in India, but the Swedish telecom has confirmed to IAM that there is no truth to this. It means Xiaomi will head into its Hong Kong IPO with its most prominent patent dispute still underway, and Ericsson will continue to wait for a hoped-for licensing win in China. Ku was misinterpreted widely when he purportedly told Indian media: “The lawsuit filed against Xiaomi by Ericsson is history, and now the things have settled down. Xiaomi is now free to use our chipsets.”

    • Japan to consider expanding design protection
    • Copyrights
      • Article 13 – An Existential Threat to Free Software

        The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a letter from more than 70 leaders in the emerging meshed society (including me) which criticises Article 13 of the European Union’s proposed new copyright regulations. This Article starts from the assumption that the only role of an individual is to consume copyrighted works and hence deduces that any act of publication on the part of an individual must be infringing the copyrights of a corporation unless proven otherwise. The text doesn’t state things that clearly, but the effect is unmistakeable. It’s as if a politician was proposing to ban syringes because addicts use them, without considering that hospitals do too.

        The regulations go on to use the power of “safe harbour” – an increasingly popular legislative device that grants delay or immunity from prosecution as a party to an offence to a company if it can demonstrate it has taken specified actions. For example. it’s “safe harbour” that induces YouTube to take down your videos when a copyright holder asserts the bird song in the background is in fact a song they published. Getting that video re-posted involves you, an individual, taking on terrifying potential liability in the event the copyright holder litigates so YouTube can be absolved of it.

        [...]

        Both personally and on behalf of the Open Source Initiative, I urge the European Parliament to do this, and to strike Article 13 from this regulation to save Europe’s open source communities from having an inherent disadvantage on the world stage. The misguided rules may have passed in committee, but they must not be allowed to pass through the European Parliament.

      • 12 Best Free YouTube Alternative Sites For Watching Videos In 2018

        YouTube is undoubtedly the internet’s most dominant platform for streaming free videos online. It hosts billions of videos that are viewed and commented upon on a daily basis. With the addition of a large amount of content each day, its vast user base continues to grow actively.

        However, with guidelines of the platform getting revised without any prior notices and other complaints in tow, a large fraction of unhappy users are looking for other YouTube alternative websites that can offer them similar content.

      • IFPI Nuking Twitch Streamers Accounts For Playing Background Music
      • Memes Might Be Censored In Europe As Part Of EU Copyright Directive Article 13

        Memes. You’ve seen them, shared them, and maybe even created them. Now, as part of a new law called the EU Copyright Directive, memes face potential censorship by giants like Facebook, Reddit, and 4chan. The new law is not specifically targeting memes, although memes fall under the wide umbrella of the types of information that could potentially become censored, according to Wired.

        Article 13 of the Copyright Directive says that large websites must use “content recognition technologies” to find copyrighted videos, photos, text, and even code. The “content” also includes sound, reported Gizmodo. Currently, some large website companies are already using such content recognition technologies. For example, YouTube uses an AI system and human employees to censor inappropriate uploads.

      • Article 13: are we heading for mass internet censorship?

        The amendments to the EU’s Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market were approved by the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs on Wednesday. The changes include the addition of Article 13, a measure that critics say would force publishers to install automated filters to prevent the uploading of copyrighted material.

        Last week 70 leading figures in the field of technology signed a letter opposing the law change.

      • Netflix Seeks to Boost its Global Anti-Piracy Team

        Netflix wants to expand its Global Copyright & Content Protection Group. The streaming giant is looking for an individual “who can hit the ground running” into a variety of tasks, from scanning all the major social media platforms and dealing with takedown requests, to gathering data on pirate streaming sites, cyberlockers and usenet platforms.

The EPO Seems to Have Corrupted ILO/ILO-AT Like It Corrupted the Media and Academia (Using ‘Toxic’ EPO Budget)

Monday 25th of June 2018 02:03:06 PM

EPO cash reserves are being exploited politically


Source

Summary: People are starting to notice and point out compositional flaws and potentially very serious conflicts of interest inside ILO, which is supposed to ensure justice for EPO workers and is instead stonewalling the vast majority of them (just like Battistelli’s kangaroo courts inside the EPO)

CORRUPTION at the EPO is becoming more evident over time and it is rather infectious. It spreads to other institutions, some of which are supposed to guard against corruption. Don’t expect António Campinos to tackle any of this because as head of EU-IPO he often participated in this (e.g. commissioning so-called ‘studies’ together with Battistelli), he is indebted to Battistelli, and they have known each other for many years, never mind the fact that they're both French.

A local professor, who has quite a few European Patents and also patents at the USPTO, recently told me (2 days ago to be exact) that large booze companies (breweries) funded research on the supposed health benefits of alcohol. Quite a few academics decided to cooperate with them (the budget was incredibly large) until it got exposed, whereupon the whole thing (with its massive budget) got immediately dismantled. This, however, never quite happened under Battistelli. He kept scattering money and gifts to so-called ‘journalists’ (willing participants in the PR charades of Team Battistelli); he also relied on academics/scholars with ‘studies’ about patent trolls (denying the issue), UPC prospects (paying universities in the US as well — not just in the UK — for it!) and there’s no paperwork or paper trail by which to assess how much money was wasted on these lies, putting aside the massive toll in terms of trust, reputation and integrity of press, academia, etc. Put bluntly, money influx from patent applications was misused to corrupt academic institutions and European media. We hope that EPO stakeholders (e.g. applicants) are well aware of it by now. Some of that money also landed (by the millions) on Battistelli’s other employer.

“Is Team Battistelli doing to ILO what it did to the Boards of Appeal, basically removing the independence of courts by means of entryism and terrorism?”The EPO, or Team Battistelli to put it another way, is corrupting everything in touches, even politicians who help the UPCA move forward (it has made Germany look like a third-world country). Bayer/Monsanto have done similar things at all levels (academia, media, politicians, regulators), so maybe herein lies the best analogy. But has the EPO poisoned the courts too? Even those outside the EPO? Has that ‘cancer’ spread to ILO? Well, some comments in blogs certainly suggest so. We’ve decided to assemble them all in one place as these were posted in several separate places/posts. It’s related to this morning's ILO article, which was maybe inspired by some of these ‘leads’.

Is Team Battistelli doing to ILO what it did to the Boards of Appeal, basically removing the independence of courts by means of entryism and terrorism? They terrorise even judges and as Kluwer Patent Blog put it last week, “it seems Mr. Corcoran’s health has suffered severely from the situation and he has recently been admitted to a psychiatric hospital.”

Well, what sort of ‘court’ would the UPC be (apparently, rumours persist that corrupt Battistelli wants to be its chief)? Among the interesting comments that speak about it we have this:

It is easy to guess, I think it is clear to everyone that ILO is little more than a kangaroo court. I hope that Märpel is right and that Karlsruhe will notice that there is no judicial independence and stall the UPC until reforms are decided.

In another thread someone said: “Karlsruhe is watching you, dear Administrative Council members.”

As Kluwer Patent Blog put it last week, “Dear Mr. Chairman and Members of the Administrative Council, you have a high responsibility for what is going on at the EPO. Rest assured that both the public and the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe will be closely watching you.”

We expect the UPC to die, but confirmation of this death may take months if not years. We’ve always been told (for 3-4 years) that UPC was “just about to start” (“real soon now!”) but it never happened. These were unethical marketing stunts from patent law firms, notably Team UPC (which had drafted and lobbied for the UPCA to be ratified).

A few days ago Vincenz Weber wrote about his concerns for the EPO’s future:

Do not forget that the only asset the EPO has lies in its staff. It is a purely intellectual job, the EPO does not own factories or produce tangible assets. The EPO has also investment in his prior art collection, but that is an asset that every patent office and google can also offer. The real value lies solely in the brains and training of its staff.

That asset has been systematically erased under Battistelli. The EPO lost their best and more experienced staff either to early retirement or to seek other jobs or both. They also severely reduced their appeal on the job market and could not fulfill their recruitment targets, even when lowering their criteria considerably. I am sorry to say this, most of our young colleagues are charming, some are quite competent but a worrying percentage came because nobody else could possibly use them.

Battistelli also seem to want the staff not to feel part of a great project. Every other firm on the planet would have killed to get the spirit we used to have: people believed in the EPC, people grew a circle of friends at work and many retirees continued to visit regularly, because that is where their life was. Nowadays, retirees aren’t even allowed on the premises and staff is expected to rat on their colleagues if they want a non-pensionable bonus.

The lasting effects of this policy will haunt the EPO for a long time. It took 40 years to get the staff we had.

Here’s a similar view:

We stop industry visits, reorganisation in classification, training. Coaches for newcomers are more and more selected among the highly productive colleagues, those that cut many corners ; newcomers in a few years’ time will be on their own with little knowledge. at the moment examiners don’t have time to examine but at some point, the majority of examiners will not be able to properly examine. EPO will then be dead.

What if the “organisation is brought to collapse?” Read the following comment:

I sincerely hope that the political debate will yield fruits. If nothing is done, the situation can only go downwards. Why would the next president or the further next one refrain from abusing power, if he or she can do so with complete impunity / immunity? Battistelli has demonstrated that he could win over whomever was opposing him (internal controlling, suepo and individual members of the council) and get a free pass to put 2 billions Euros in a dubious investment scheme. All passed with flying colours and a personal bonus.

The EPO cannot afford another president like this one, but why would the next ones refrain from doing the same until the organisation is brought to collapse?

The more interesting comments, which contained relatively new information, were about ILO’s composition. Here’s some analysis of ILO:

I just got a quick look on internet and I found this link:

http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—trib/documents/meetingdocument/wcms_546217.pdf

When we look more carefully, only 14 persons did a speech during the celebration.

– The symposium was opened by Claude Rouiller and Drazen Petrovic.

– Intervention from Laurent Germond, Director, Employment Law, European Patent Organisation (EPO): “The general principles applied by the Tribunal”

– Intervention from Jean‐Didier Sicault , Attorney, Senior Lecturer in International Civil Service Law at the University of Paris II, France: “Milestones of the Tribunal case law”.

We have to take note that Mr Sicault was the employer of Mr Germond from 1998 to 2005. See https://de.linkedin.com/in/laurent-germond-9b90206a

It seems that Märpel was right when she said:
The world of international organisations is tiny, the world of international administrative justice even more so.

It looks to be a very small family where each cat knows very well the other cats.
Little mouses have no hope of justice.

The following comment took note of Bosnia-Hercegovina, related to the chief PR person of the EPO, as we noted here before (also enabling the EPO to better control Transparency International which she came from). As noted 3 years ago, “[s]he started her professional career as Democratization Officer heading an OSCE field office in Zenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina…”

Guess who else comes from there. To quote:

More interesting details can be found in Mr Petrovic’s official biography:

http://legal.un.org/avl/pdf/ls/Petrovic_%20bio.pdf

Best to make a copy before it disappears!

His intial law degree was obtained from Sarajevo University Faculty of Law in 1985.
This suggests that Mr. Petrovic comes from Bosnia-Hercegovina which at that time was still part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

He subsequently obtained a postgraduate qualification as “Master of Science in Law” from the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Law in 1990.

By an interesting coincidence a Vice-President of the EPO also comes from Bosnia-Hercegovina. His claimed academic qualifications include a “Master of Science in Economics” from the University of Banja Luka which was allegedly completed in 1989 although the degree certificate was not issued until 2001. There has been some controversy about the authenticity of this degree.

From the available evidence it seems that both Mr Petrovic and the EPO Vice-President hail from Bosnia-Hercegovina and were students at around the same time. It would be interesting to know if they are personally acquainted with each other ?

The term “Team Battistelli” which we coined is then brought up:

It should not be forgotten that the AT-ILO has also been complicit in covering “Team Battistelli” in other ways.

For example it has been sitting for a long time on the files in cases challenging the appointment of a certain member of Battistelli’s entourage who was “miraculously” promoted from grade A3 to A6 some time around the beginning of 2013 after she had been at the EPO for less than two years !

It is to be expected that at some point in the future the AT-ILO will get around to dealing with these cases and may even declare the promotion to have been unlawful.

But at that point Battistelli and most of his team will be long departed and it will be cold comfort to EPO staff to receive confirmation that the HR department had been controlled for many years by someone who should never have been appointed to such a position of responsibility.

Another example of how the AT-ILO fails to deliver effective legal protection against egregious abuses of power.

The AT-ILO is no solution – it is part of the problem …

Here’s more:

Mr. President will surely know the 126th session’s cases already.
The head of the international organisation is informed quickly after the decision.
And with the announcement of 22 May, I get the impression, that AT-ILO has a last present for the parting President.
They seem to be moving cases to not spoil his farewell bonus.

http://www.ilo.org/tribunal/news/WCMS_630007/lang–en/index.htm

OTOH, the postponement can also mean that they find the Corcoran case decision handling by Mr. B. was sub-optimal, and now wait with further decisions for a new president, who might be more willing to implement them according to the intention of the decision.
I’d love to know which cases were moved to a later session…
This just invites wild sepculation.

Some of this was already summarised succinctly in this morning’s post, but the above contains additional links and makes one wonder if the EPO ‘infiltrated’ ILO. That might help explain the change of tone in recent years.

The same sorts of comments that Merpel used to attract are now landing on Märpel's blog; there are more comments to that effect (regarding ILO) and much more behind/beyond that, we presume from curious EPO insiders who are experts at research (their job requires such skills). What else in Europe and beyond (like US universities and international institutions) is going to be compromised by Team Battistelli? When will authorities initiate an investigation? Battistelli’s immunity will have expired in less than a week, so it’s never too late to file reports, maybe even lawsuits (if EPO staff — past and present — is eligible to file any).

Benoît Battistelli’s ‘Dowry’ From the Administrative Council of the EPO

Monday 25th of June 2018 01:02:01 PM

It might not be the last, either


Image source

Summary: The dreadful state of the EPO, where one man controls everything and mismanages money (sending a huge amount of money to his other employer, giving himself a massive bonus or a “golden parachute”, allegedly paying for national delegates’ votes and gambling with EPO budget), won’t be improved until the entire organisation removes “Team Battistelli” (the manifestation of Battistelli’s 8-year rogue regime)

Battistelli’s very last day at work is this coming Friday. António Campinos will take over after that; he’s more or less Battistelli’s own choice and he too is French.

Another quarterly congregation of the Administrative Council of the EPO will commence in 2 days. Last time it was so secretive that it was hard to confirm that they had given Battistelli a massive bonus (like three years of additional work but without doing anything!).

“It is far worse than FIFA has ever been.”Isn’t it odd that the Administrative Council never said anything (at least not on the record) about Battistelli sending millions of euros (EPO budget) to his other employer? Well, thankfully (albeit very belatedly) German media says something about it (see “Die unheimliche Wette”, as mentioned in our recent post). Just a few hours ago SUEPO wrote: “Publication rights requested and awaiting confirmation…” (so expect an English (and probably French) translation some time soon).

Campinos, a former banker, will likely cover up Battistelli’s financial recklessness and misbehaviour. Remember that a person close to Battistelli (also French) is in the relevant committee. We last mentioned this aspect when dealing with the toxic loans scandals at Battistelli’s other employer. Don’t forget what was mentioned here before in relation to the Greek element in the Finance and Budget Committee (Loredana Gulino). The following comment brought it up again earlier this month. It said this:

What do you expect from someone [Battistelli] with a greek best friend in the Finance and Budget Committee until 2016 (for two years this greek guy was the head of the committee without even having a position in his own country!!!! …and every single one just covered it). However, rumor has it, that during his past tenancy in the greek patent institute (2005-2013) he was a master in bullying….

The EPO is corrupt to the core. It’s worth saying this again: at this stage, considering Ernst’s complicity and Campinos’ ‘selection’ (with Battistelli calling many shots), not to mention Team Battistelli remaining in tact at the very top, the EPO needs to be completely rebooted. High-level management needs to be ‘flushed’ and they need to start all over again to salvage the institution. It is far worse than FIFA has ever been.

Patent Extremism — Like All Extremes — Leads to Bad Outcomes

Monday 25th of June 2018 04:57:34 AM

Patents have, to some people, become like a religion

Summary: Religiously believing in the value of all granted patents is a form of extremism which actively puts many lives at risk; the sooner this is realised, the better off society will be

THE affairs at the EPO serve to show what happens when a patent extremist, Battistelli, is put in charge. With Iancu in charge of the USPTO (a Trump appointee) we might soon have a similar patent extremist calling all the shots (like Battistelli), but we’re not that pessimistic, at least not yet.

“Letting things burn (up in flames) because of patents? Does the court really want to restrict sales of fire trucks?”Balance between patent monopolies and public interests isn’t a new subject; in fact, it’s often debated in the context of access to health, i.e. maximising the saving of lives. The other day the patent blog Docket Report wrote about Pierce Manufacturing, Inc. v E-One, Inc. et al. It said this:

The magistrate judge recommended granting plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction prohibiting sales of the accused fire trucks and found that plaintiff established irreparable harm through lost sales of non-patented products.

Letting things burn (up in flames) because of patents? Does the court really want to restrict sales of fire trucks? There may be impending orders whose delivery is critical for people’s safety.

Docket Report also wrote about The Regents of the University of California et al v Affymetrix, Inc. et al and a high-profile patent case, PPC Broadband, Inc. v Corning Optical Communications RF, LLC, which will potentially reach SCOTUS. The first one shows a taxpayers-funded university (tax-funded research) engaging in patent aggression. It says that “[t]he court granted plaintiff’s motion to compel the production of an email with a third party manufacturer that defendants clawed back under the common interest privilege because the manufacturer was not represented by counsel.”

“Patent maximalism is a disease and it profoundly hurts those who are absolutely innocent.”The second one is summarised as follows: “Following the Federal Circuit’s affirmance of the jury verdict, the magistrate judge recommended granting plaintiff’s motion to enforce liability on defendant’s $68 million supersedeas bond and rejected defendant’s request to continue the stay pending its certiorari petition to the Supreme Court.”

So a district court, the lowest possible court, is trying to deny access to the very highest court, SCOTUS? That makes no sense at all. SCOTUS would quite likely bring sanity back, as it has been doing over the past few years.

“Who benefits? The lawyers. They don’t care who pays the bills as long as they do get paid.”Anyway, here we are dealing with patent maximalists and people who are more concerned about patents than about wellbeing of people and academic institutions (which ought to pursue education, not lawsuits). We grapple with technology-hostile sites like Watchtroll which advertise patents and very belatedly promote software patent lawsuits because their goal is to make lawsuits “great again”. While slamming “Big Tech” (example from yesterday) the site is trying to tell us that it’s interested in “innovation”. Who are those people kidding? They keep attacking judges, they attack politicians who care about science, and they try to eliminate quality control at the USPTO (similar to the Boards of Appeal at the EPO). 4 days ago the site wrote about Xitronix Corporation v KLA-Tencor Corporation and also about this case regarding who pays the lawyers (because that’s all they really care about; it’s about money). At stake here there’s an inter partes review at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), albeit it’s about 35 U.S.C. § 285 rather than something like 35 U.S.C. § 101 (more relevant to us). To quote:

Stone Basket sued Cook for patent infringement and Cook petitioned for an inter partes review of the asserted patent. After the PTAB instituted review, Stone Basket filed a motion requesting adverse judgment. The PTAB granted the motion and canceled all asserted claims. Stone Basket then moved to dismiss the district court litigation with prejudice, and the court granted this motion. Cook then filed a motion for attorney’s fees under § 285, which the court denied because the case was not “exceptional.”

This basically means that frivulous litigation, initiated using bogus patents (issued in error), would still cost a lot of money to the innocent defendant (the victim). Well, isn’t that the “exceptional” thing? That justice makes the victim pay for the victimiser’s abuses/misuses?

Patent maximalism is a disease and it profoundly hurts those who are absolutely innocent. Who benefits? The lawyers. They don’t care who pays the bills as long as they do get paid.

Even After SAS Institute, Inc. v Iancu (Decision on PTAB) There’s No Stopping the Crackdown on Bogus US Patents

Monday 25th of June 2018 04:08:24 AM

No sunsetting for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)

Summary: Technology firms take advantage of PTAB, eliminating patents that should never have been issued by the US patent office in the first place; that makes it incredibly difficult for patent maximalists (led by Iancu) to phase PTAB out, more so after Oil States Energy Group v Greene’s Energy

THE US patent office (USPTO) is being pressured by the court system (notably the Federal Circuit, led by SCOTUS) to abandon patent maximalism. It’ll need to happen. If the Office does not change, people will lose confidence in US patents.

Michael Loney, the editor of Managing IP (a patent maximalism site), wrote about corporate lobbying by pharmaceutical giants for exclusion from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) proceedings. They basically want to be placed above the law (patent law). Orrin Hatch is a highly corrupt 'politician' who takes bribes from this monopolistic industry as well as law firms; he’s trying to protect them from generics (i.e. access to medicine). All that Loney had to say was this:

The Hatch-Waxman Integrity Act of 2018 would require a generic manufacturer wishing to challenge a brand-name drug patent to choose between Hatch-Waxman litigation and IPR, which one observer describes as a “Hobson’s choice”

Where are all the supposed/so-called ‘journalists’ when one needs them? Like we keep saying, when it comes to patents, reporting is dominated by law firms and patent maximalism sites. So nobody seems capable of bringing up the fact that this bill is indirectly funded by pharmaceutical giants. They just ‘buy’ politicians to do their footwork; not just lobbyists but actual politicians.

Remember SAS Institute, Inc. v Lee? Earlier this year it became SAS Institute, Inc. v Iancu (Iancu comes from the patent microcosm) and SCOTUS issued a decision that may slow down — albeit not stop (as per Oil States Energy Group v Greene’s Energy) — PTAB. SAS Institute, Inc. v Iancu is being brought up again. A patent maximalism site, Patently-O, says that the Federal Circuit got involved in this matter. It believes that when you have a bogus patent and PTAB deems it invalid you should still (potentially) be able to amend that patent rather than lose it, introducing odd notions like “versions” of patents. To quote Patently-O: “In its Final Written Decision, the PTAB partially invalidated Sirona Dental Systems U.S. Patent No. 6,319,006 (claims 1-8 obvious over two prior art references; claims 9-10 patentable). Following cross-appeals, the Federal Circuit the Federal Circuit found no error in these ultimate conclusions, but did vacate the decision based upon the Board’s refusal to allow the patentee to amend its claims.”

They’re citing SAS Institute, Inc. v Iancu (formerly Lee). The side note says: “The PTAB decision here is the one IPRO where then PTO Director Michelle K. Lee took-up her statutory role as a PTAB Judge.”

PTAB is very important as it serves to protect the reputation of US patents by eliminating bad ones, often before they even reach a court or get granted. PTAB is viewed as “Evil” or “Satanic” only in the eyes of a meta-industry that profits from litigation alone.

PTAB isn’t supported only by small companies but large ones too. Even Apple, a serial patent aggressor.

As usual, when a patent/PTAB story is about Apple the big media will oblige to cover it aplenty [1, 2]. This latest story has been covered in financial media too, under headlines like “Apple Loves to Fight Patents”. Actually, Apple loves to fight with patents, e.g. against Linux/Android. Just because if filed IPRs against Qualcomm does not change that. The story is also in tech media, e.g. [1, 2] and in Apple-centric sites (e.g. 9to5Mac, Mac Rumors, and Apple Insider). Shara Tibken wrote on June 21st for CBS/CNET:

Apple’s trying a different tactic in its battle with Qualcomm — asking for the chipmaker’s patents to be declared invalid.

The iPhone maker on Thursday filed petitions with the US Patent and Trademark Office, asking for the four Qualcomm patents be canceled, according to Bloomberg. Those patents are at issue in a fight between the companies over licensing fees that Qualcomm receives for its mobile technology.

Apple argues the four patents — related to how to focus a digital camera, a device that works as a phone and personal digital assistant, touch-sensitive displays, and circuit memory — aren’t new ideas and shouldn’t be valid, Bloomberg said.

This should be considered good news as it also serves to protect Android OEMs. We generally support Apple’s side in this whole dispute for this reason.

“Qualcomm faces its first-ever IPRs as Apple turns up the heat in the pair’s increasingly fractious dispute,” IAM wrote, having published this article about it. To quote:

The sprawling dispute between Apple and Qualcomm, in which the two Califoirnia-based companies are slugging it out in a protracted, multinational dispute, took a new turn yesterday when the iPhone giant filed inter partes reviews (IPRs) against two of the chipmaker’s patents that have been asserted against it in district court. It could well tbe the foirst [sic] time Qualcomm has been forced to defend its patents before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. The patents in question are 7,693,002 and 8,665,239. The former was filed in October 2006 and issued in April 2010, and the latter was filed in November 2012…

Qualcomm patents are also being challenged at the EPO right now, as we noted last month and earlier this month. What will the final outcome be? Will there be a settlement? We certainly hope that the patents in question (EPs and US patents) will perish before such a settlement is reached (and if it’s reached). Qualcomm might be tempted to avoid invalidation at all costs!

Going back to the Supreme Court’s “SAS” (SAS Institute, Inc. v Iancu) decision, Loney takes note of remaining questions:

The big questions remaining after the Supreme Court’s SAS ruling include how institution rates will change, how strategy at the Board should evolve and how district courts and the Federal Circuit will react. Michael Loney investigates

The Supreme Court ruled that the PTAB must institute proceedings on all challenged claims or none at allEight weeks on from the Supreme Court’s decisions in SAS Institute v Iancu and Oil States Energy Group v Greene’s Energy…

The rest is behind a paywall, but the direction he’s going at suggests that he wants a slowdown (as do readers/subscribers of such a site, which caters for the patent microcosm).

Worry not; PTAB is only growing in relevance and Oil States assures that Iancu cannot eliminate PTAB. He can try to suppress it, sure, but at what cost?

Another software patent is biting the dust, reports Patent Docs. So will law firms stop pursuing these? No, never. As long as they manage to bamboozle some technical firms into this notion that such patents have value the applications will keep on coming and examiners occasionally grant these. The summary below says that “the challenged claims were found to be unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 101.” How very common. § 102 and § 112 were also mentioned:

On June 11, 2018, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in the Covered Business Method (CBM) patent review between Dish Network Corp./LLC (collectively, “Dish Network”) and Customedia Tech. LLC (“Customedia”), in which the challenged claims were found to be unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 101. (Some challenged claims were also found to be unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. §§ 102 and 112, but this post addresses only the § 101 challenge.)

It remains to be seen in the coming weeks/months if Iancu’s strategy against PTAB goes anywhere. It’s clear that he's a closeted foe of PTAB, i.e. against part of his very own employer.

Can Alice/35 U.S.C. § 101 Stop Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls in the US?

Monday 25th of June 2018 03:08:43 AM

Summary: The latest lawsuits and inter partes reviews (IPRs) which deal with Microsoft-connected trolls and other potentially-suspicious activities

HAVING spent the past 12 years tracking Microsoft’s patent assaults on GNU/Linux, we’re pretty familiar with the satellite entities and the history is well documented. The records at the USPTO sometimes show which hands the patents get passed to (various different shell entities, connected to bigger trolls and corporations like Microsoft).

Microsoft still attacks GNU/Linux using software patents and as mentioned here before (earlier this month), Microsoft entryism or hijack of Yahoo turned Yahoo patents into the same thing it turned Nokia’s patent portfolio into. These patents are now being passed to trolls, according to RPX and recent docket filings. Even IAM’s Richard Lloyd wrote about it the other day:

Twitter found itself on the wrong end of an infringement lawsuit late last month when an entity called Digi Portal accused the social media company of infringing on one of its patents. According to a recent RPX newsletter, Digi Portal is an apparent affiliate of the NPE IP Edge, which, as the most prolific plaintiff in the US over the last two years, has plenty of experience litigating against some of the largest and highest profile companies around. What’s most interesting about the patent-in-suit, though, is that it was previously owned by Excalibur, the corporate vehicle set up to monetise…

Will the underlying patents be challenged by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and maybe the Federal Circuit (later on)? Do note that IP Edge is involved. We wrote about IP Edge several times earlier this year, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]. Had Microsoft not destroyed Yahoo, these patents wouldn’t end up in the hands of these trolls.

There’s meanwhile other activity of interest. A notorious patent troll, Uniloc, has just been squashed owing to Alice/35 U.S.C. § 101. As Docket Navigator put it:

The court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss because the asserted claims of plaintiff’s wireless remote control patent encompassed unpatentable subject matter and found that the claims were directed toward an abstract idea. “The court concludes that because the asserted claims are directed towards the result — and therefore, abstract idea — of wirelessly controlling remote devices, they are patent-ineligible. The specification refers to ‘⁠[a] method for controlling a remote device[] over a wireless connection.’ ‘underscor[ing] that [the asserted claims are] directed to an abstract concept.’ More importantly, the asserted claims provide only for generic processes and components to achieve that result. . . . And although the Patent purports to solve a number of problems with remotely controlling devices, it does not solve those problems through an improvement in any specific technology.”

The Uniloc-Microsoft history is well documented because it went on for many years. At the end, Uniloc received a lot of money from Microsoft.

The Microsoft-connected patent troll Acacia has also just been defeated (in PTAB), as recently as 6 days ago. To quote Unified Patents:

On June 19, 2018, The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit summarily affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s ruling in Unified Patents Inc. v. American Vehicular Sciences, LLC IPR2016-00364 that all challenged claims of US Patent 9,043,093, are unpatentable, effectively ending the assertion of those claims against multiple parties.

Owned and asserted by American Vehicular Sciences, LLC, a subsidiary of Acacia Research Corporation, the ’093 patent related to a single side curtain airbag for vehicles and has been asserted in multiple district courts against automotive manufacturers and equipment suppliers including Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Hyundai. The infringement case is currently stayed in the Eastern District of Michigan.

Acacia operates though many entities/proxies. Notice how often they targeted GNU/Linux firms like Red Hat. Acacia’s connections to Microsoft were covered in dozens of past articles.

TC Heartland is Still Deterring and Suppressing Patent Trolls in the United States

Monday 25th of June 2018 01:22:29 AM

Summary: Eastern Texas is being ‘evacuated’ in the wake of TC Heartland, which continues to be brought up by legal defense teams

THE decision known as TC Heartland has been great. This year-old, Earth-shattering SCOTUS decision helped discourage litigation which relied on Texas. It helped guard the innocent, i.e. those falsely accused of infringement, typically using dubious patents; they try to dodge the trolls-friendly courts, which blindly accept almost anything granted by the USPTO (usually in jury trials, where the jury is nontechnical).

“It’s no exaggeration to say the in East Texas the courts openly signaled that they would be plaintiffs- and trolls-friendly. They made no secret of the fact.”Baker Donelson (W Edward Ramage), in another paid placement at IAM, very belatedly caught up with In re Bigcommerce — a case about dodging to courts that do their job instead of trying to appeal to patent trolls. It’s no exaggeration to say the in East Texas the courts openly signaled that they would be plaintiffs- and trolls-friendly. They made no secret of the fact.

Over at Docket Navigator, a site which tracks cases of interest/importance, quite a few TC Heartland-related cases have been brought up over the past week. Consider Blue Rhino Global Sourcing, Inc. v Sky Billiards, Inc. d/b/a Best Choice Products and Adrian Rivera v Remington Designs, LLC d/b/a iCoffee, both of which are citing TC Heartland.

“Over at Docket Navigator, a site which tracks cases of interest/importance, quite a few TC Heartland-related cases have been brought up over the past week.”“The court granted defendant’s motion to transfer for improper venue and rejected plaintiff’s argument that defendant waived its venue challenge,” said one Docket Report and another new TC Heartland case had the opposite outcome: “The court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss or transfer for improper venue because defendants waived their venue challenge through their litigation conduct.”

With numbers (latest figures) suggesting that the District of Delaware becomes venue of choice for many [1, 2] we’re somewhat relieved to leave the era of Eastern Texas behind. No doubt the economy there will suffer (businesses would be wise not to operate there after TC Heartland), but one might call that karma for bad faith and overzealously litigious spirit.

The ILO Tribunal: Is It Still Worthy of Our Trust?

Sunday 24th of June 2018 11:54:32 PM

The latest EPO FLIER (No. 38), published by staff from the EPO on 22 June 2018 (source: www.epostaff4rights.org), has the title “The ILO Tribunal: Is it still worthy of our trust?”

We reproduce its content here in order to give our readers direct access to it.

Summary: Trusting ILO-AT has become a lot harder in light of its handling of EPO scandals

 

The Administrative Tribunal (AT) of the International Labour Organization (ILO) is the successor of the League of Nations Administrative Tribunal, created as a judicial tribunal to ensure to officials the firm conviction of safety and security emanating from justice, provide a judge for internal disputes, and preclude the possibility of one of the parties being a judge in his own cause.

For European Patent Office (EPO) labour disputes, the ILO-AT is the only external legal instance.

Extent of jurisdiction

The applicable law, under the ILO-AT Statute1, is formally limited to the terms of appointment and service conditions of the organisation concerned. But the ILO-AT’s case law on this point has been inconsistent; in some judgments, general principles of law and human rights have been considered as additional sources of law, in others they have been excluded2. The Tribunal does not order interim relief. Witnesses can give written statements but their cross-examination is not possible. Since 1989, the ILO-AT has declined to hold any oral hearings. The Tribunal has no means of enforcing judgments.

The Tribunal has recently changed its approach concerning general decisions. While Staff Committee members could, in the past, challenge general decisions directly, it now seems that general decisions (legislative decisions) may no longer be challengeable at all. Concerned employees must now wait until an administrative decision implementing a general decision, eg a career reform, produces a direct adverse effect on them,3 eg through a missed promotion that was due, visible on a payslip. This has as a consequence that every staff member must file an individual appeal instead of a staff committee member filing a model appeal for all. The number of internal appeals has thus since exploded.3 Another consequence is that many general decisions, eg decisions changing governance rules, may no longer be challengeable, even if they are presumably illegal.

Workload issues

The ILO-AT struggles to meet its caseload2,4. In 2015, the Tribunal said: “It is the number of complaints filed against a single organization, the EPO, rather than the rise in the overall number of organizations having accepted its jurisdiction, that represents the main challenge for its effective functioning.5 At the same time, the Tribunal has made it clear that it has “reached its limits in terms of output” and that it cannot increase it any further “without compromising the quality of its services.

The Tribunal has recently reasserted that the main challenge to its functioning is the large number of EPO cases4,6. Robin Silverstein reports that the chosen approach to reducing the backlog has affected the quality of the judgments being delivered: “ILOAT staff rush through records of pending cases, and draft hundreds of judgments, dismissing as many cases as possible on technicalities, and glossing over the finer points of those appellant submissions that it accepts.It is a common gripe among appellants that the judgments finally rendered contain anomalies, mischaracterizations and factual errors, and fail to address key claims and legal arguments.”2,7

Until 2014, the Article 7 “summary dismissal procedure” was only rarely used8: Sessions 1-116 (3305 judgments) saw only 19 summary dismissals (0.65%). The Tribunal changed its approach, leading to a rapid processing of a large number of complaints and a corresponding reduction in the size of the backlog. This was achieved without increasing the number of judges or Registry staff4. The report4 of the 332nd Session of the ILO Governing Body is a little ambiguous in its wording, but it gives the impression that it was the goal of the new approach to reduce the case backlog. Sessions 117-125 (676 judgments) saw a striking increase: 124 summary dismissals (15%), 74 of them concern EPO complaints (32%). Summary dismissal denies in fact access to justice.

Independence and impartiality

It has been the subject of some debate whether the ILO-AT is truly independent.2 The Tribunal’s seven judges are appointed on three-year renewable contracts.2 Renewable contracts for judges cast doubt on their independence9. The appointment of the ILO-AT judges is not transparent and there are no clear standards for their minimum professional qualifications3. The Tribunal is financed through fees paid by the defendant organisations on a per-dispute basis10,11. About 60% of the ILO’s caseload comes from just six organisations, about 20% from the EPO alone.

The ILO-AT has had several bilateral talks with the EPO administration – a party in the dispute – without informing or inviting representatives of the appellants8. A March 2016 ILO report12 mentions that two video conferences were held in 2015, “with senior officials from the legal and human resources services” of the EPO, who “highlighted the internal challenges faced by the EPO in a context of ongoing reforms, called for improvements in the Tribunal’s case management in general, and appealed to the understanding of the Tribunal offering financial support if needed.” Written requests13 to involve staff representatives in these talks have apparently been to no avail8. Considering “the functioning and credibility of the Tribunal at risk”, the ILO’s Director-General arranged a meeting with the EPO President12. To this meeting, which took place in April 2016, he (apparently) also invited the President of the Administrative Tribunal14. But when the Tribunal‘s credibility is at risk, does it help to organise bi-lateral talks with one party to a dispute – while excluding the other party?

The EPO administration informed the Director-General about its “targeted communication campaigns on the Tribunal’s case law, as statistics show that a considerable number of complaints against the EPO are dismissed.”12,15 This measure was positively received at the ILO since it was expected to help reducing the number of complaints filed by EPO staff12. But how can a Tribunal, whose task is to establish justice in labour disputes, welcome measures aiming at discouraging staff members from claiming their rights?

The March 2016 ILO report12 further mentions several communications to the Director-Generalin which president Battistelli gives “an overview of recent disciplinary cases involving staff representatives of the European Patent Office, some of which had resulted in the dismissal of the individuals concerned”, and that “the analysis of the cases referred to the Tribunal indicates that a significant number of complaints stem from strained relations between staff representatives and management.

A March 2017 ILO report14 lays out that in its March 2016 Resolution16, the Administrative Council had “noted that disciplinary sanctions against staff or trade union representatives were widely questioned in the public opinion”, and that during a meeting in April 2016, the Director-General, the EPO President and the President of the Tribunal had “exchanged views on the situation created by the high number of complaints against the EPO, the root causes of the backlog and possible solutions.” An agreement on certain points “prompted the Director-General’s optimism that real progress could be made in the coming months so as to alleviate the Tribunal’s workload …”.

The drafting of judgements

For the Tribunal to work efficiently, the cases are prepared by the Registry: “The Registry is tasked with providing technical, factual and legal support to the judges, thus requiring its staff in effect to draft judgments.”2 In 2010, the Registry was staffed by the Registrar and a part-time secretary10. Its current staff also comprises a “small team of legal officers.17The Tribunal has recently reformed the work of the Registry, so that it is now even “better focused on assisting the judges.”4 The seven judges themselves are generally not familiar with the defendant organisation’s own and very specific sets of rules since they “do no work for the Tribunal on a full-time basis, but usually sit only twice a year for three to four weeks each time,” and “some of them have extremely busy schedules as they are still serving in the supreme courts of their respective countries.”5 The judges will thus not study the full set of submissions but rather rely on the work done by the Registry. The preparatory work of the Registry has thus a significant impact on the decision which will be taken by the judges.

Personal ties

The ILO-AT has issued publications with contributions from members of its member organisations. For example, Laurent Germond, “Director Employment Law” at the EPO, and responsible for legal disputes of staff members with the European Patent Organisation, was invited to make a speech at a symposium18 to celebrate the Tribunal’s 90th anniversary in 2017. His speech can be found in a recent ILO publication19, edited by Mr Dražen Petrović, the Registrar of the Tribunal. Mr Petrović and Mr Germond have been personal friends for a long time20. It may not be a coincidence that Mr Petrović joined the ILO on 1 December 2013 while Mr Germond joined the EPO at the end of 2013. Under the circumstances, the Registrar could naturally have more understanding for the arguments of the defendant organisation than for those of the appellants.

The 126th session

The ILO-AT judges met again from 23 April to 18 May 2018 at the International Labour Office in Geneva. The judgments will be delivered in public on Tuesday, 26 June 2018 at 3 p.m. and published on the Tribunal’s website shortly thereafter.

Among the EPO cases judged are those of Elizabeth Hardon, Ion Brumme and Malika Weaver, at the time chair, vice-chair and treasurer respectively of the Munich branch of the EPO’s largest staff union SUEPO. They were collectively suspended (on the same day!). The SUEPO chair and vice-chair were then dismissed, and the treasurer down-graded by president Battistelli – officially for reasons that had nothing to do with their work as staff representatives.

It will be another test of the ILO-AT’s independence. It will show whether the Tribunal will recognise this amazing “coincidence” for what it really is – an attempt to get rid of pesky opponents and to suppress any meaningful dialogue.21

The ILO-AT has the mandate to guarantee that the over 60,000 international civil servants of more than 60 international organisations over which it has jurisdiction can enjoy protection against arbitrary acts committed against them by their employer.17 We fervently hope that it takes its duties seriously. If it does not, the entire legal framework for thousands of staff falls apart.

__________

1 Statute of the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization

2 Robin Silverstein, REVISITING THE LEGAL BASIS TO DENY INTERNATIONAL CIVIL SERVANTS ACCESS TO A FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT, Michigan State International Law Review, Vol. 25.2 (2017)

3 Managing the ILO Administrative Tribunal’s workload –Current challenges and possible improvements (SUEPO’s views, 17.09.2015)

4 Functioning of the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO – An update, ILO Governing Body, Programme of the 332nd Session in March 2018

5 Matters relating to the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO – Workload and effectiveness of the Tribunal, Programme of the 325th Session of the ILO Governing Body (from 29 October to 12 November 2015)

6 The ILO is working on an amendment to the Tribunal’s statute and rules of procedure, apparently with the aim of improving the backlog situation (see B28/6/18), but we are not aware of any details of that on-going process

7 Edward Patrick Flaherty, LEGAL PROTECTION IN INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS FOR STAFF—A Practitioner’s View

8 ILO-AT: 90 years old and in need of repair, SUEPO (03.05.2017)

9 In a recent decision, the Federal Constitutional Court clarified that the nomination of qualified judges to first instance administrative tribunals for a fixed term is in line with the German constitution, but under the condition that contract renewal is excluded

10 Matters relating to the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO: Financing of the Tribunal, Programme of the 309th Session of the ILO Governing Body (November 2010)

11 The costs per case, which vary roughly between 15.000 Euros and 25.000 Euros, are calculated by dividing the “session costs”, which cover expenses for the judges, legal services and translations, by the number of cases dealt with during the session. The major share of the Tribunal’s “overhead costs”, which include the office space and the operational costs of the Registry including staff salaries, have, at least until 2010, been borne by the ILO.

12 Matters relating to the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO: Report on discussions with the European Patent Organisation on possible future action to improve the Tribunal’s caseload, Programme of the 326th Session of the ILO Governing Body (March 2016)

13 Letter, on behalf of SUEPO, from Schwab, Flaherty & Associés to Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General (23.02.2016)

14 Matters relating to the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO – Update on discussions with the European Patent Organisation on possible future action to improve the Tribunal’s caseload, Programme of the 329th Session of the ILO Governing Body in March 2017

15 The glowing reports on ILO-AT sessions by VP5 or the Director Employment Law, which are published in the EPO intranet and in the Gazette, form presumably part of these “targeted campaigns”. You can find an example here.

16 RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL ON 16 MARCH 2016

17 The Tribunal

18 Symposium in honour of the ILO’s Administrative Tribunal (5 May 2017)

19 Une contribution de 90 ans du Tribunal administratif de l’Organisation internationale du Travail à la création d’un droit de la fonction publique internationale – 90 years of contribution of the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization to the creation of international civil service law (2017), edited by Dražen Petrović

20 Also “Märpel” has reported about this personal connection; see The best friend of a key man on the R.I.P. Kat blog

21 See EPO FLIER No. 37Battistelli’s record: legal harassment and retaliation (12.06.2018), CA/20/16 and CA/21/15

 

 

The Dangerous Adoption of Patents on Life and Nature

Sunday 24th of June 2018 03:39:34 PM

Mayo/35 U.S.C. § 101 should count, too

Summary: In the face of pressure from patent maximalists, as well as an appointment of a patent maximalist to the top of the US patent office, lawyers/law firms which strive to extend patent scope to life itself (or nature) seem to be getting their way

OVER the past week some lawyers’ sites mentioned Vanda Pharma (Vanda Pharmaceuticals v West-Ward Pharmaceuticals) — a case we had mentioned a week prior. It’s not about software, but it’s still somewhat relevant. Sanjeev Mahanta at Watchtroll wrote about it a couple of days ago and Steven Seidenberg at IP Watch wrote about Vanda Pharma a day beforehand. It’s behind a paywall, but the critical introduction says this: “For more than a decade, the United States has been making it harder to obtain patents. A series of court rulings have steadily restricted the types of inventions that are patent-eligible. The tide, however, may be now turning. The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Vanda Pharmaceuticals v. West-Ward Pharmaceuticals has opened the way to many future patents on biotech and personalized medicine. The ruling is a big step forward for the biotech and medical industries, and perhaps for patients seeking better medical care. But there’s a catch. Vanda could be overturned because it conflicts with the US Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories.”

It is not too shocking that the Trump-connected USPTO Director (Iancu) is quick to selectively embrace decisions that broaden patent scope, serving the industry he came from. He doesn’t seem to be learning the lessons about the importance of patent quality. It’s like he’s working for the patent microcosm rather than for applicants, or more broadly for science and technology.

OK, we get it; so while shutting out software patents they now grant new sorts of patents on life. As one site has just put it, “USPTO grants first ever US CRISPR patent” (unlike the EPO, which moves away from such patents). To quote:

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted Emmanuelle Charpentier’s company, ERS Genomics, the first ever US patent covering CRISPR gene editing.

The patent covers the use of an optimised guide RNA format in all environments, including human cells.

The USPTO deemed the patent to be unrelated to the ongoing dispute between Charpentier/UC/Vienna group and the Broad Institute/MIT/Harvard group.

A site dedicated to advocacy of patents on life said that “Broad secures US discovery win in CRISPR EPO dispute,” which means that the EPO too has some issues (firms trying to patent life/genome in spite of the EPC). To quote:

The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has confirmed that a request to obtain discovery for use in a foreign proceeding, in this case at the European Patent Office (EPO), will be denied unless the relevance of that discovery can be shown.

Circuit Judge Juan Turruella delivered the precedential decision on Wednesday, June 20.

Genome editing company Intellia Therapeutics has an exclusive licence to proprietary CRISPR/Cas9 technology owned by Jennifer Doudna, a founding member of Intellia.

A team led by Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier had conducted research on bacteria that can carve up and target genetic material, which led to Doudna filing the provisional patent application in the US in May 2012. In June the same year, they published an article describing their findings.

In October 2012, members of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT submitted a manuscript on the same topic and, in December, filed a provisional patent application relating to genomic sequencing.

For the EPO and for the USTPO to be taken seriously they will need to fight this ‘temptation’ (or pressure) to grant patents on everything under the Sun. Sometimes it feels like Iancu is to patent quality what Battistelli (and likely António Campinos as well, time will tell) has been. Do they realise that it’s not a game where scores are counted in terms of number of granted patents? That is the crazy mentality of WIPO, which would have us believe that innovation thrives in China just because heaps of rubbish patents get granted by SIPO (in a language few inside WIPO can even comprehend, let alone read out loud).

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