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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 31 min ago

Links 26/1/2018: Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Plans, Mycroft Mark II

Friday 26th of January 2018 11:28:09 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Kernel Space
    • PDP Xbox One Controllers Should Now Work With The Linux 4.15 Kernel

      One of the last minute changes sneaking into the Linux 4.15 kernel is support for PDP Xbox One controllers.

      Linux supports a variety of Xbox controllers and various offshoots while now the controllers from Performance Designed Products is the latest. PDP Xbox One Controllers can be found at a variety of Internet retailers but up to now hasn’t played nicely with the Linux kernel: the devices are rather peculiar about their initialization sequence and needed some extra packets before sending any input reports.

    • Linux Foundation
      • System Startup Gets a Boost with New LinuxBoot Project

        The Linux Foundation is pleased to welcome LinuxBoot to our family of open source projects and to support the growth of the project community. LinuxBoot looks to improve system boot performance and reliability by replacing some firmware functionality with a Linux kernel and runtime.

        Firmware has always had a simple purpose: to boot the OS. Achieving that has become much more difficult due to increasing complexity of both hardware and deployment. Firmware often must set up many components in the system, interface with more varieties of boot media, including high-speed storage and networking interfaces, and support advanced protocols and security features.

        LinuxBoot addresses the often slow, often error-prone, obscured code that executes these steps with a Linux kernel. The result is a system that boots in a fraction of the time of a typical system, and with greater reliability.

      • Linux Foundation Announces “LinuxBoot” To Replace Some Firmware With Linux Code

        Not to be confused with Coreboot or its former name of LinuxBIOS, the Linux Foundation today announced LinuxBoot as a new initiative for replacing system firmware with the Linux kernel/drivers.

        LinuxBoot is backed from the likes of Google and Facebook for improving the system boot speed and reliability by replacing some firmware functionality with the Linux kernel and a runtime.

      • The Linux Foundation creates new umbrella organization for open network projects

        Finding itself close to being overwhelmed by the sheer number of open-source networking projects it manages, the Linux Foundation said Tuesday it has decided to create a single administrative structure to govern them all.

        Called the “LF Networking Fund,” the new initiative is a kind of umbrella organization for several networking projects, including the Open Network Automation Platform, OpenDaylight, the Open Platform for Network Functions Virtualization, the Platform for Network Data Analytics, the Streaming Network Analytics System and the Fast data – Input/Output project.

      • Hyperledger creates experimental labs for startups

        As an effort to bring early-stage startups together with companies that are officially recognized by Hyperledger, this measure can accelerate the pace with which new ideas find traction and reach maturity.

        Companies previously had to go through a grueling application process to prove the maturity of their code and a commitment of resources before becoming an “officially recognized” by the consortium and getting “incubation status” for their code.

        To give an idea of ​​how strict the process of applying for this status, there are at least 185 members of Hyperledger, but only eight codebases have been officially granted the status.

        This new measure now gives startups access to some of the benefits accessed only by companies that are officially recognized – for example, IBM, Intel and Monax.

      • Linux Foundation Re-Orgs to Simplify Open Source Networking

        The Linux Foundation is restructuring its operations to better coordinate the activities of multiple open source networking projects that impact the telecom space, including OPNFV, ONAP and OpenDaylight.

      • Linux Foundation brings open source projects together under LFN

        The Linux Foundation recently announced a new project called the LF Networking Fund (LFN), a platform for cross-project collaboration. Among the founding projects of the LFN include FD.io, OpenDaylight, ONAP, OPNFV, PNDA and SNAS.

      • Open source networking projects unite under Linux Foundation

        The Linux Foundation created an umbrella platform, the LF Networking Fund, to promote cross-project collaboration among open source networking projects under its wing.

    • Graphics Stack
      • GLAMOR Acceleration Should Now Work With 30-Bit Deep Color Support

        GLAMOR as a means of providing 2D acceleration over OpenGL in X.Org Server 1.20 will support for 30-bit RGB colors.

        Landing a few days ago was supporting Deep Color / Depth 30 with the Radeon X.Org driver. But initially that support was limited to using the older EXA 2D acceleration method. Fortunately, the generic 2D-over-OpenGL GLAMOR acceleration code within the X.Org Server now supports 30-bit colors.

      • Updated Clock-Gating Comes For NVIDIA Kepler GPUs On Nouveau

        Earlier this month a Red Hat developer managed to achieve full clock-gating for NVIDIA Kepler GPUs using the open-source Nouveau DRM driver. Today the second version of these patches were published.

        Lyude Paul of Red Hat has been tackling this clock-gating support for Kepler1/Kepler2 GPUs, a.k.a. the GeForce GTX 600/700 series. The previous article covers how to enable the support, but when enabled it allows for dropping the GPU power usage by several Watts.

      • Radeon VCN Gets Mesa Patches For HEVC Main Video Encode

        For those planning to pick up a Raven Ridge laptop or the forthcoming desktop APUs, the Mesa driver now has patches for enabling H.265/HEVC video encode support for VCN 1.0 on Raven hardware.

        AMD developers today sent out a set of 12 patches for adding HEVC encode support to the Gallium3D VL interface, Radeon VCN specific HEVC encode bits, and added HEVC encoding support to the Gallium3D VA “video acceleration” state tracker.

    • Benchmarks
      • Pentium G4600 vs. Ryzen 3 1200 On Ubuntu 17.10 Linux Benchmarks

        Earlier this week I posted some benchmarks looking at Intel Pentium vs. AMD Ryzen 3 performance for Linux gaming. Those tests on the Pentium and Ryzen systems were done with both NVIDIA and AMD Radeon graphics for seeing how the gaming performance compares in the spectrum of sub-$100 CPUs and cheap graphics cards. But for those that were just curious about the CPU performance, here are some benchmarks I also carried out with the Pentium G4600 Kabylake and AMD Ryzen 3 1200.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Invites Users to Test Plasma Mobile, Releases First-Ever Dedicated ISO Image

        Last week, KDE pledged to make 2018 the year its Plasma Mobile user interface for mobile devices becomes fully a functional mobile environment and deploy it on as many devices as possible, including the upcoming Librem 5 Linux phone from Purism, which should be available in Q1 2019.

        But they need community’s help to test Plasma Mobile on their devices or virtual machines and report issues they might discover. As such, KDE released today the first-ever dedicated Plasma Mobile ISO image that users can download and boot on real machines or virtual ones like QEMU/KVM or Oracle’s VirtualBox.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • It Just Got Easier to Try the Latest WebKit on Linux

        If you’ve been itching to toy with the latest development builds of WebKit on Linux you’ll be pleased to know it’s just gotten a bit easier.

        It’s all thanks to the newly announced ‘Epiphany Technology Preview‘, a development version of the Epiphany web browser (also known as GNOME Web) running atop the latest WebKitGTK+ snapshot.

      • An update on Pipewire – the multimedia revolution – an update

        We launched PipeWire last September with this blog entry. I thought it would be interesting for people to hear about the latest progress on what I believe is going to be a gigantic step forward for the Linux desktop. So I caught up with Pipewire creator Wim Taymans during DevConf 2018 in Brno where Wim is doing a talk about Pipewire and we discussed the current state of the code and Wim demonstrated a few of the things that PipeWire now can do.

      • PipeWire Is Making Progress But Still Needs More Time To Mature

        PipeWire was announced last year as a new Red Hat projects with aspirations to be to video as PulseAudio is to audio on the Linux desktop. Other PipeWire goals include professional audio support equal to or better than JACK, full Wayland/Flatpak support, and more. Red Hat is making a lot of progress on PipeWire, but it’s not yet ready to be the default on the Linux desktop.

        Red Hat’s Christian Schaller has shared a status update on PipeWire after discussing the latest state with PipeWire creator Wim Taymans.

      • Introducing the CSD Initiative

        Unless you’re one of a very lucky few, you probably use apps with title bars. In case you’ve never come across that term, title bars are the largely empty bars at the top of some application windows. They contain only the window title and a close button, and are completely separate from the window’s content. This makes them very inflexible, as they can not contain any additional UI elements, or integrate with the application window’s content.

      • The CSD Initiative Is Pushing For Apps To Abandon Title Bars In Favor Of Header Bars

        GNOME developer Tobias Bernard has announced “The CSD Initiative” in a push for more applications to support client-side decorations and as part of that to abandon boring title bars in favor of modern header bars.

        By using client-side decorations (CSD) rather than server-side decorations, applications are able to draw their own title/header bars and that makes for more interesting possibilities to save precious screen real estate and be more innovative about packing additional functionality into what otherwise would be a rather empty bar on the screen.

  • Distributions
    • Subgraph: This Security-Focused Distro Is Malware’s Worst Nightmare

      By design, Linux is a very secure operating system. In fact, after 20 years of usage, I have personally experienced only one instance where a Linux machine was compromised. That instance was a server hit with a rootkit. On the desktop side, I’ve yet to experience an attack of any kind.
      That doesn’t mean exploits and attacks on the Linux platform don’t exist. They do. One only need consider Heartbleed and Wannacry, to remember that Linux is not invincible.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • openSUSE – Meltdown & Spectre Update – 26 Jan 2018

        This is an update to our current Meltdown and Spectre situation on openSUSE Leap and Tumbleweed.

        We have released kernels with initial Meltdown and Spectre mitigations begin of January.

      • Ruby, YaST, Plasma 5.12 Beta Get Updates in Tumbleweed

        A total of six snapshots arrived and brought new versions of Ruby, YaST, KDE’s Plasma 5.12 Beta and many others.

        The latest snapshot, 20180124, switched the default for Ruby to version 2.5. Package improvements were made to the command line tool SUSEConnect 0.3.7. A change to cups-filters 1.19.0 in order to allow builds on systems without python2 was made with python3-cups rather than using python-cups. Enscript 1.6.6 fixed a handful of bugs and spec-cleaner 1.0.2 added groups for Rust and made the switch to pytest. Git, squid and perl-Encode also received minor updates in the snapshot.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • SolydXK Plasma Rewards Effort With Stunning Results

          SolydXK is a Debian-based Linux distribution that comes with a choice of the Xfce (SolydX) or KDE (SolydK) desktop. The latest edition of SolydXK, released this month, provides a state-of-the-art Linux platform.

          When I first reviewed the SoldXK distro back in 2013, it was an impressive new kid on the Linux block. Schoelje, a key developer of two discontinued desktop options within the Linux Mint distro, has helped the SolydXK distro grow into a reputable Linux offering built around two popular computing options.

          Those two desktop options drew me to the Linux OS years ago. Both have their strong points.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Bionic Beaver 18.04 LTS to use Xorg by default

            Bionic Beaver, the codename for the next Ubuntu LTS release, is due in April 2018 and will ship with both the traditional Xorg graphics stack as well as the newer Wayland based stack, but Xorg will be the default.

            17.10, released in October 2017, ships with the Wayland based graphics server as the default and the Xorg based equivalent is available as an option from the login screen. When we started out on the GNOME Shell route for 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) we knew that we needed to have Wayland as the default option otherwise we wouldn’t know if it would work well for our users in the LTS only 6 months later. The LTS is supported for five years meaning that we need to be certain that what goes out the door on release day will be maintainable and sustainable for the duration and will serve all our users and customers needs, which is no mean feat.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) Will Ship with XOrg by Default, Says Canonical
          • Ubuntu Linux 18.04 ‘Bionic Beaver’ LTS will default to Xorg
          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Will Default To The X.Org Stack, Not Wayland
          • Canonical Releases New Linux Kernel Update for Ubuntu 17.10 and 16.04 HWE Users

            Coming a few days after the last kernel update released earlier this week, which included mitigations for the Spectre security vulnerability that puts billions of devices at risk of attacks, today’s security update addresses a logic error in Linux kernel’s x86-64 syscall entry implementation, discovered by Jay Vosburgh.

            According to the security advisory published today by Canonica, it would appear that the security issue has been introduced by the mitigations for the Spectre hardware bug, and it could allow a local attacker to either execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (DoS attack).

          • A peek at the Snapcraft Summit

            The Snapcraft Summit, taking place in Seattle from January 29th to February 2nd, is a forward-thinking five day software hackathon being attended by major software vendors and snap developers working to move the industry forward with software delivery.

            In the style introduced by the famous BarCamps of old, the agenda is totally free-form and attendee-generated. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’ll sit down and relax! There are many things planned that need tackling. Every attendee already has a long laundry list of things to work on; as a group we will move forward and check things off the list as the days go by. We are going to be covering a wide range of technologies and domains, from GUI oriented electron based applications and its development stack to robotics, with a spice and language frameworks and command line tools for the cloud would be the few to mention.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is Switching back to Xorg

            Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will come with the Xorg display server enabled by default. Canonical cites stability and reliability concerns over Wayland as reason for the change.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Bloomberg Release Open Source “PowerfulSeal” Kubernetes-Specific Chaos Testing Tool

    t the recent KubeCon North America conference, in Austin, USA, Bloomberg presented their new open source “PowerfulSeal” tool, which enables chaos testing within Kubernetes clusters via the termination of targeted pods and underlying node infrastructure. The Kubernetes container orchestration platform is a popular choice for deploying (distributed) microservice-based applications, and practices from chaos engineering can assist with building resilient systems.

    PowerfulSeal follows the Principles of Chaos Engineering, and is inspired by the infamous Netflix Chaos Monkey. The tool allows engineers to “break things on purpose” and observe any issues caused by the introduction of various failure modes. PowerfulSeal, written in Python, is currently Kubernetes-specific and only has “cloud drivers” for managing infrastructure failure for the OpenStack platform, although a Python AbstractDriver class has been specified in order to encourage the contribution of drivers for additional cloud platforms.

  • Do the little things matter?

    In the world of free software engineering, we have lofty goals: the FSF’s High Priority Project list identifies goals like private real-time communication, security and diversity in our communities. Those deploying free software in industry have equally high ambitions, ranging from self-driving cars to beating the stock market.

    Yet over and over again, we can see people taking little shortcuts and compromises. If Admiral McRaven is right, our failure to take care of little decisions, like how we choose an email provider, may be the reason those big projects, like privacy or diversity, appear to be no more than a pie-in-the-sky.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Extensions in Firefox 59

        The development team behind the WebExtensions architecture is no exception, landing a slew of new API and improvements that can now be found in Firefox 59 (just released to the Beta channel).

      • Firefox 59 Beta 6 Testday, February 2nd

        We are happy to let you know that Friday, February 2nd, we are organizing Firefox 59 Beta 6 Testday.

      • How to make a chart of your users’ window sizes

        In preparation for the MDN redesign I examined our analytics to get an idea of how wide our users’ browser windows were. I wanted window widths, not screen sizes and I thought a chart would tell a more compelling story than a table.

      • An Update about Moderators, Administrators, and our new team member

        Throughout the years, we have been extremely lucky to have an amazing array of great people joining us and contributing in many various ways. There has been some spam here and there, we’ve had some people getting very emotional and unhappy about various aspects of SUMO or Mozilla, but so far we have had relatively few cases that needed Administrator investigation.

        Obviously, all that luck does not mean that interpersonal conflicts on different levels do not happen right now or will not happen in the future. We acknowledge this fact and want to be prepared for such moments, as infrequent as they are. Staying a step ahead of potential problems will help us provide you with a SUMO community experience you all can enjoy and be a part of.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • POSITAL Announces New Open Source Interfaces for Motor Feedback Kit Encoders [Ed: Stop characterising mere interfaces as "open source"]

      Rotary encoder specialist POSITAL has expanded its interface offerings for its magnetic Kit Encoders, launched with great success last year, with support for the non-proprietary open-source BiSS Line communication protocol. This enables the practical implementation of single-cable technology, which is becoming increasingly popular with motor and robot manufacturers. POSITAL’s easy-to-install motor feedback kits, which feature 17-bit electronic resolution, bridge the gap between simple resolvers and more complex and expensive optical encoders for servomotors, robot joints and other applications where absolute rotary position feedback is required.

    • No Boo-Boo on API validation with SmartBear

      The product is used to validate and test an Application Programming Interfaces (API) and generate its OpenAPI documentation.

      As the so-called API economy now comes into being — and exists as a defined elemental ‘thing’ inside the wider software application development universe — there is (very arguably) additional need for tools that can quantify, qualify and indeed validate and test how software developers will integrate with APIs and get them to function as intended.

  • BSD
    • Are the BSDs dying? Some security researchers think so

      Struck by the small number of reported BSD kernel vulnerabilities compared to Linux, von Sprundel sat down last summer and reviewed BSD source code in his spare time. “How come there are only a handful of BSD security kernel bugs advisories released every year?” he wanted to know. Is it because the BSDs are so much more secure? Or is it because no one is looking?

      von Sprundel says he easily found around 115 kernel bugs across the three BSDs, including 30 for FreeBSD, 25 for OpenBSD, and 60 for NetBSD. Many of these bugs he called “low-hanging fruit.” He promptly reported all the bugs, but six months later, at the time of his talk, many remained unpatched.

      “By and large, most security flaws in the Linux kernel don’t have a long lifetime. They get found pretty fast,” von Sprundel says. “On the BSD side, that isn’t always true. I found a bunch of bugs that have been around a very long time.” Many of them have been present in code for a decade or more.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • SD Times news digest: Webpack 4 beta, Android Wear SDK 2.2.0, and GCC 7.3 released

      The GNU Project and GCC developers have announced the release of GCC 7.3. GCC is the GNU Compiler Collection. This is a bug fix release as it has important fixes for regressions and bugs in GCC 7.2. It has more than 99 bugs fixed since the previous release of GCC.

    • Linux distros: love, openwashing & the thousand yard stare

      The Linux operating system (OS) will turn 30 in the year 2021.

      We know that Linus Torvalds first penned (typed) his work plans for what turned out to be Linux on a Usenet posting as follows:

      “I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like GNU) for 386(486) AT clones,” wrote Torvalds.

      No brief history of Linux is needed here, there are plenty of write ups detailing the origins of UNIX, MINIX, the birth of GNU and Richard Stallman’s creation of the GNU General Public License.

    • Glibc 2.27 Is Being Released Soon With Numerous Performance Optimizations

      Glibc 2.27 will be released as soon as next week as the latest half-year update to the GNU C Library.

      The Glibc 2.27 cycle has been very heavy on performance optimizations. As covered recently, there’s been AVX2/FMA optimizations, other optimized functions, numerous FMA optimizations, and more. Long story short, if you’re running a recent AMD/Intel x86_64 CPU, there are chances you could see good performance improvements out of Glibc 2.27.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Xiaomi needs to adhere to the rules of Android

      Most Android smartphone users understand the operating system which powers their device is “open source.” For many, that’s where their understanding ends. The legality of open source technology like Android is a mystery outside the geeky inner circle of coders and hackers who make a hobby out of tinkering with the system.

      [...]

      Here’s a brief synopsis of the ins and outs of the laws governing Android:

      Android is based on Linux, an open-source operating system. Linux is published under the General Public License (GPL), which regulates how Linux can be used, edited, and distributed.

      On top of the Linux kernel, there are lots of other components to Android. Most are also licensed under an “open source” license. The preferred license for the Android Open Source Project is the Apache Software License, Version 2.0 (“Apache 2.0”), and the majority of the Android software is licensed with Apache 2.0.

      Anyone can download and share the Linux kernel for free. If they edit the Linux code in any way, they can share that too, as long as they make the altered system available for anyone else to freely download. This is because their Linux derivative is still bound to the GPL.

      Since Android is a Linux derivative, it is thus bound by the GPL. Therefore, the Android source code must be freely available to anyone who would like to see it.

      If anyone changes the Android source code, it is also bound to the respective licenses. If that new code is then amended, it is regulated by the same license, and so on ad infinitum.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Siemens, GE Partner With Open-Source Innovation Community

      Siemens PLM Software and Launch Forth are partnering to empower and educate the future workforce by offering free professional CAD software to a co-creation community of 185,000 innovators that are focused on product development, idea generation, and creating solutions for challenges both big and small.

      As businesses and lines of work trend toward a global gig economy, Siemens and Launch Forth hope to enable and support the future workforce by providing them with the tools and tutorials they need to learn and grow within their career. According to Forbes, 57.3 million people make up the freelance community in the US alone.

  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • Science
    • Genome Of A Man Born In 1784 Recreated From The DNA Of His Descendants

      The privacy implications of collecting DNA are wide-ranging, not least because they don’t relate solely to the person from whom the sample is taken. Our genome is a direct product of our parents’ genetic material, so the DNA strings of siblings from the same mother and father are closely related. Even that of more distant relations has many elements in common, since they derive from common ancestors. Thus a DNA sample contains information not just about the donor, but about many others on the relevant family tree as well. A new paper published in Nature Genetics (behind a paywall, unfortunately) shows how that fact enables the genomes of long-dead ancestors to be reconstructed, using just the DNA of their descendants.

      As an article in Futurism explains, the unique circumstances of the individual chosen for the reconstruction, the Icelander Hans Jonatan, aided the research team as they sought to piece together his genome nearly two centuries after his death in 1827. The scientists mainly came from the Icelandic company deCODE Genetics, one of the pioneers in the world of genomics, and highly-familiar with Iceland’s unique genetic resources.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Importance Of Flu Pandemic Preparedness Confirmed By WHO Board Decision

      One hundred years after the great Spanish flu pandemic, World Health Organization members today underlined their satisfaction with the organisation’s framework to get countries best prepared for the next pandemic: The WHO Executive Board agreed on keeping most of the funds coming to the framework for preparedness measures, and a smaller portion for response measures, unless emergency strikes.

    • WHO Executive Board Agrees On Actions To Boost R&D, Access To Medicines
    • Facing Tense IP And Health Talks, WHO Board Erupts Into Dance (Video)

      Member nations of the World Health Organization became accustomed in recent years to singing by the WHO director general, and sometimes crying, but under the new DG there seems to be a move toward the whole room getting up in the middle of serious negotiations and … dancing.

      After the Executive Board agreed on a decision today on physical activity for health, Assad Hafeez, the Board Chair, suggested a short session of physical activity. Mexican chicken dancing (pajaritos a volar in Spanish or la danse des canards in French) chaos ensued:

  • Security
    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Attacking Network Protocols

      Most of us in the Free and Open Source software world know about Wireshark and using it to capture network traffic information. This book mentions that tool, but focuses on using a different tool that was written by the author, called CANAPE.Core. Along the way, the author calls out multiple other resources for further study. I like and appreciate that very much! This is a complex topic and even a detailed and technically complex book like this one cannot possibly cover every aspect of the topic in 300 pages. What is covered is clearly expressed, technically deep, and valuable.

    • What is Hide ‘N Seek? New IoT botnet uses peer-to-peer communication to infect over 20,000 devices

      “The HNS botnet communicates in a complex and decentralized manner and uses multiple anti-tampering techniques to prevent a third party from hijacking/poisoning it,” Bitdefender researchers wrote in a blog post published on Wednesday (24 January). “The bot can perform web exploitation against a series of devices via the same exploit as Reaper (CVE-2016-10401 and other vulnerabilities against networking equipment).”

    • Intel’s plan to fix Meltdown in silicon raises more questions than answers

      Why this matters: Intel has been busy working with PC makers and OS vendors like Microsoft to release microcode that includes so-called mitigations, microcode updates that patch the vulnerabilities. But even that hasn’t gone so well: Intel advised end users to stop applying patches after systems unexpectedly rebooted. Now, Intel has revealed it’s working on a more permanent fix, but the impact on users remains unknown.

    • WhatsApp Vulnerability
    • DevOps and Security: How to Overcome Cultural Challenges and Transform to True DevSecOps

      Similar to the proliferation of mobile devices in the enterprise several years ago where organizations were feeling the pressure to have a mobile strategy but didn’t know where to start, we’re seeing the same situation with development methodologies. To accelerate development velocity, teams are feeling the pressure to “do DevOps,” and when integrating security, to “do DevSecOps.” But much like during the initial mobile wave, many companies say they’re implementing these methodologies, and might even think they are, but in reality, they’re not. Yet.

    • What does DevOps do in 2018?

      In 2018, we’re expecting DevOps to become the new norm for larger enterprise teams. This is because we’re likely to see developers on older, higher value systems implementing a more DevOps centric approach, having seen it work on projects that have traditionally been highly visible, but low value.

    • Cisco Acquires Skyport as Cyber-Security Investments Continue

      January 2018 has emerged to become a banner month for cyber-security acquisitions, with at least 10 acquisitions announced so far, four of which were announced between Jan. 22 and 25. Cisco continued the trend on Jan. 24 by announcing its intention to acquire privately-held server security startup Skyport.

      Financial terms of Cisco’s Skyport acquisition are not being publicly disclosed. A Cisco spokesperson told eWEEK that the deal is expected to close in Cisco’s 2018 fiscal third quarter. However, a Cisco spokesperson said the company doesn’t plan to continue marketing the existing Skyport System server security products.

      [...]

      It’s the Linux-based SkySecure Server platform tied into the SkySecure Center service that further validates the integrity of firmware, BIOS, software and cryptography.

    • S for Security is Google owner Alphabet’s new favorite letter

      The business will be the new home of VirusTotal, which Google acquired in 2012. Chronicle’s other story will be “a new cybersecurity intelligence and analytics platform that we hope can help enterprises better manage and understand their own security-related data.”

    • Github shrugs off drone maker DJI’s crypto key DMCA takedown effort

      Github rejected a DMCA takedown request from Chinese drone-maker DJI after someone forked source code left in the open by a naughty DJI developer, The Register can reveal.

      This included AES keys permitting decryption of flight control firmware, which could allow drone fliers with technical skills to remove geofencing from the flight control software: this software prevents DJI drones from flying in certain areas such as the approach paths for airports, or near government buildings deemed to be sensitive.

      Though the released key is not for the latest firmware version, The Register has seen evidence (detailed below) that drone hackers are already incorporating it in modified firmware available for anyone to download and flash to their drones.

      DJI declined to comment for this article. Github ignored The Register’s invitation to comment.

      [...]

      The code was forked by drone researcher Kevin Finisterre, who submitted a successful rebuttal to the takedown request on the grounds that Github’s terms and conditions explicitly permit forking of public repos.

      “DJI mistakenly marked code repositories as public subsequently granting license for anyone to fork said repos. This accident can be evidenced by their press release,” wrote Finisterre, linking to a DJI statement.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Finance
    • Finance Ministry crackdown on cryptocurrency trade

      The proposed legislative reform is based on forthcoming changes from the European Union, after December decisions from the European Parliament and the European Council to pursue the same agenda. EU authorities say they are targeting bitcoin anonymity in order to tackle tax evasion and other crimes.

    • Magical Thinking At The New York Times

      I’m not the first to critique Johnson’s work. Bryan Clark’s What the NY Times got wrong about Bitcoin is obviously written by a Bitcoin believer, because he missed the whole point of the article. It isn’t about Bitcoin, it is about decentralizing the Web.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • The Atlas Of Redistricting

      There’s a lot of complaining about gerrymandering, but what should districts look like? We went back to the drawing board and drew a set of alternative congressional maps for the entire country. Each map has a different goal: One is designed to encourage competitive elections, for example, and another to maximize the number of majority-minority districts. See how changes to district boundaries could radically alter the partisan and racial makeup of the U.S. House — without a single voter moving or switching parties. How we did this »

    • Trump says he would re-enter TPP trade deal if it’s made ‘substantially better’

      But it’s unclear what, exactly, could entice Trump to re-enter the agreement. The president did not say what specific changes he wants to see made.

    • Facebook allows dangerous fake news about vaccines to go viral

      If you want a good example that shows how Facebook cares more about pleasing its shareholders than the it does about stopping fake news, look how this fake news story, which claims a CDC doctor says the flu vaccine is causing the flu outbreak, is spreading across Facebook (current number of shares: 691k). Remember, Facebook has complete control over the stories its users see in their timeline, and Facebook uses this power to encourage people to pay it to promote posts. It could just as easily use this power to throttle dangerous fake news like this, but that would mean less user engagement, and therefore less money to Facebook.

    • Tom Perez, the Democratic Party’s Grim Metaphor

      Tom Perez’s lackluster first year as head of the Democratic National Committee provides a metaphoric glimpse into the waning influence of the Democratic Party as a whole, explains Norman Solomon.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Facebook feigns accountability with ‘trusted’ news survey

      Unfortunately, Facebook’s solution to this problem doesn’t seem to be the best one. Last week, it said its plan is to only put front and center links from outlets that users deem to be “trustworthy.” Which just proves that Facebook would rather put the responsibility for policing misinformation on the community instead of itself. This is concerning because Facebook is, essentially, letting people’s biases dictate how outlets are perceived by its algorithms.

    • Spanish Government Uses Hate Speech Law To Arrest Critic Of The Spanish Government

      Spain’s government has gotten into the business of regulating speech with predictably awful results. An early adopter of Blues Lives Matter-esque policies, Spain went full police state, passing a law making it a crime to show “disrespect” to law enforcement officers. The predictable result? The arrest of someone for calling cops “slackers” in a Facebook post.

      Spain’s government is either woefully unaware of the negative consequences of laws like this or, worse, likes the negative consequences. After all, it doesn’t hurt Spain’s government beyond a little reputational damage. It only hurts residents of Spain. When you’re already unpopular, thanks to laws like these and suppression of a Catalan independence vote, what difference does it make if you’re known better for shutting down dissent than actually protecting citizens from hateful speech?

    • China embraces hip-hop even a government censor can love

      Gai strutted onto the stage dressed in a traditional Taoist robe, his arms covered in tattoos, his hip retro glasses reflecting a phalanx of flashing lights.

      “Wake upppp! Beijinggggg!” he shouted to a crowd of 17,000 young fans in a stadium in the city’s west. Then Gai, 27, began rapping.

    • EFF to Court: Don’t Let Celebrities Censor Realistic Art

      A huge range of expressive works—including books, documentaries, televisions shows, and songs—depict real people. Should celebrities have a veto right over speech that happens to be about them? A case currently before the California Court of Appeal raises this question. In this case, actor Olivia de Havilland has sued FX asserting that FX’s television series Feud infringed de Havilland’s right of publicity. The trial court found that de Havilland had a viable claim because FX had attempted to portray her realistically and had benefited financially from that portrayal.

      Together with the Wikimedia Foundation and the Organization for Transformative Works, EFF has filed an amicus brief [PDF] in the de Havilland case arguing that the trial court should be overruled. Our brief argues that the First Amendment should shield creative expression like Feud from right of publicity claims. The right of publicity is a cause of action for commercial use of a person’s identity. It makes good sense when applied to prevent companies from, say, falsely claiming that a celebrity endorsed their product. But when it is asserted against creative expression, it can burden First Amendment rights.

    • Vice Media Goes After Vice Industry Token, A Porn Crypto-Currency Company, For Trademark

      The last time we checked in with Vice Media it was firing off a cease and desist letter to a tiny little punk band called ViceVersa, demanding that it change its name because Vice Media has a trademark for the word “vice” for several markets. In case you thought that occurrence was a one-off for Vice Media, or the result of an overzealous new hire to the company’s legal team, Vice Media is again trademark bullying another comany, Vice Industry Token. VIT is apparently a pornography cryptocurrency company, which is a three-word combination that I bet god herself could never have imagined being uttered. The claim in the C&D notice that VIT got is, of course, that Vice Media has a “vice” trademark and that this use infringes upon it.

    • Vice Media and Porn Cryptocurrency Company Headed to Court Over Trademark

      Vice Industry Token is asking the court to evaluate whether it’s infringing on Vice Media’s trademark.

    • Sarajevo’s City Government Says No One Can Use The Name ‘Sarajevo’ Without Its Permission

      The city of Sarajevo passed a law in 2000 forbidding anyone but the city of Sarajevo from using the name Sarajevo. Not much has been said about it because the Sarajevo city council hasn’t done much about it. But recently owners of Facebook pages containing the word “Sarajevo” have been receiving legal threats from the city’s government.

      Sarajevo resident Aleksandar Todorović wrote a long blog post detailing the stupidity of this law, which contains firsthand accounts of Facebook page owners who’ve been threatened with criminal proceedings for failing to secure permission to use the name of a city on their pages. As Todorović notes, his blog post is illegal, simply because it hasn’t been pre-approved by Sarajevo’s city council.

      The law can be read here (and loosely translated by Google). It basically states the city owns the name and all others wishing to use it must ask the city council for permission before using it. It also states there are some requests that just aren’t going to be granted.

    • “The Problems of Online Censorship and Social Media”: Editor Philipp Gromov on The Cleaners

      German editor Philipp Gromov has cut 11 documentary features, series and shorts since 2010. He began his career on The Other Chelsea: A Story from Donetsk, which tells the story of a small mining town in Ukraine. His latest feature, The Cleaners, premieres in competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. The film offers a rare glimpse into the lives of digital “cleaners”: anonymous people contracted by Silicon Valley companies to scrub the internet of content deemed “inappropriate.” Gromov spoke with Filmmaker about cutting the film and why The Cleaners has inspired him to cut his own use of social media.

    • Facebook Censorship of Conservatives (Updated)
    • Their school deleted an article on a teacher’s firing. So these teens published it themselves
    • Washington Post speaks to Herriman High students who cried censorship over article controversy
    • Two Utah High School Students Start News Publication After School Officials Deleted Their Story
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Europe’s GDPR Meets WHOIS Privacy: Which Way Forward?

      Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect in May 2018, and with it, a new set of tough penalties for companies that fail to adequately protect the personal data of European users. Amongst those affected are domain name registries and registrars, who are required by ICANN, the global domain name authority, to list the personal information of domain name registrants in publicly-accessible WHOIS directories. ICANN and European registrars have clashed over this long-standing contractual requirement, which does not comply [PDF] with European data protection law.

      This was one of the highest profile topics at ICANN’s 60th meeting in Abu Dhabi which EFF attended last year, with registries and registrars laying the blame on ICANN, either for their liability under the GDPR if they complied with their WHOIS obligations, or for their contractual liability to ICANN if they didn’t. ICANN has recognized this and has progressively, if belatedly, being taking steps to remediate the clash between its own rules, and the data protection principles that European law upholds.

    • Finnish Parliament starts debate on expanded intelligence law

      Finnish MPs consider allowing intelligence agencies to intercept confidential communications without the suspicion of a crime.

    • EU court to decide if Austrian can bring Facebook class action suit

      The highest court in the European Union will decide on Thursday whether an Austrian privacy activist can bring a class action lawsuit against Facebook for what he says are illegal violations of the privacy of users.

    • Disrupting The Fourth Amendment: Half Of Law Enforcement E-Warrants Approved In 10 Minutes Or Less

      Law enforcement officers will often testify that seeking warrants is a time-consuming process that subjects officers’ sworn statements to strict judicial scrutiny. The testimony implies the process is a hallowed tradition that upholds the sanctity of the Fourth Amendment, hence its many steps and plodding pace. The problem is law enforcement officers make these statements most often when defending their decision to bypass the warrant process.

      Criminals move too fast for the warrant process, they argue. Officers would love to respect the Fourth Amendment, but seem to feel this respect is subject to time constraints. Sometimes they have a point. And when they have a legitimate point, they also have a legitimate exception: exigent circumstances. In truly life-threatening situations, the Fourth Amendment can be shoved aside momentarily to provide access to law enforcement officers. (The exception tends to swallow the rule, though. Courts have pushed back, but deference to officers’ assertions about exigency remains the status quo in most courtrooms.)

    • Senator Demands FBI Director Explain His Encryption Backdoor Bullshit

      “I would like to learn more about how you arrived at and justify this ill-informed policy proposal. Please provide me with a list of the cryptographers with whom you’ve personally discussed this topic since our July 2017 meeting and specifically identify those experts who advised you that companies can feasibly design government access features into their products without weakening cybersecurity. Please provide this information by February 23, 2018.”

    • FBI Director Chris Wray Says Secure Encryption Backdoors Are Possible; Sen. Ron Wyden Asks Him To Produce Receipts

      I cannot wait to see FBI Director Christopher Wray try to escape the petard-hoisting Sen. Ron Wyden has planned for him. Wray has spent most of his time as director complaining about device encryption. He continually points at the climbing number of locked phones the FBI can’t crack. This number signifies nothing, not without more data, but it’s illustrative of Wray’s blunt force approach to encryption.

      I’m sure Wray views himself as a man carefully picking his way through the encryption minefield. But there’s nothing subtle about his approach. He has called encryption a threat to public safety. His lead phone forensics person has called Apple “evil” for offering it to its users. He has claimed the move to default encryption is motivated by profit. And if that’s not the motivation, then it’s probably just anti-FBI malice. Meanwhile, he claims the FBI has nothing but the purest intentions when it calls for encryption backdoors, even while Wray does everything he can to avoid using that term.

      He claims the solution is out there — a perfect, seamless blend of secure encryption and easy law enforcement access. The solution, he claims, is most likely deliberately being withheld by the “smart people.” These tech companies that have made billionaires of their founders are filled with the best nerds, but they’re just not applying themselves. Wray asserts — without evidence — that secure encryption backdoors are not only possible, but probable.

    • Harris Stingray Nondisclosure Agreement Forbids Cops From Telling Legislators About Surveillance Tech

      The FBI set the first (and second!) rules of Stingray Club: DO NOT TALK ABOUT STINGRAY CLUB. Law enforcement agencies seeking to acquire cell tower spoofing tech were forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement forbidding them from disclosing details on the devices to defendants, judges, the general public… sometimes even prosecutors.

      A new wave of parallel construction washed over the land, distancing defendants from the source of evidence used against them. Pen register orders — used to cover the tracks of Stingray searches — started appearing en masse, as though it was 1979 all over again. If curious lawyers and/or judges started sniffing around, agencies were instructed to let accused criminals roam free rather than expose details about Stingray devices. According to the FBI, public safety would be irreparably damaged if Stingray details were exposed. Apparently the return of dangerous criminals to the street poses no harm to the public.

    • A Conspiracy of Silence Assaults Privacy

      During the past three weeks, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law vast new powers for the NSA and the FBI to spy on innocent Americans and selectively to pass on to law enforcement the fruits of that spying.

      Those fruits can now lawfully include all fiber-optic data transmitted to or in the United States, such as digital recordings of all landline and mobile telephone calls and copies in real time of all text messages and emails and banking, medical and legal records electronically stored or transmitted.

    • Did Trump change his mind on domestic spying?

      Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, repeated his public observations that members of the intelligence community — particularly the CIA, the NSA and the intelligence division of the FBI — are not trustworthy with the nation’s intelligence secrets. Because he has a security clearance at the “top secret” level and knows how others who have access to secrets have used and abused them, his allegations are extraordinary.

    • NSA Has Been Running a Voice-Recognition System Since 2004, Says Report

      Siri is one of the earliest digital personal assistants available to consumers, but it was only released in 2011. Then came Amazon’s Alexa in 2014 and Google Assistant in 2016. These programs are designed to take commands by accurately recognizing the voice of the device owner.

    • NSA deletes ‘honesty’, ‘openness’, ‘trust’ and ‘honor’ from Mission Statement

      The super-secret agency that monitors all electronic communications of Americans, a resource that was used to spy on the Trump campaign through a questionable warrant from the FISA Court, suddenly has decided to revise its mission statement page. A spokesman for the NSA is claiming it’s no big deal, but it is one heckuva weird coincidence in the midst of a major scandal regarding what looks like abuse of its spying powers.

    • NSA replaces “honesty” with “commitment to service” in its core values
    • “Honesty” and “Openness” Have Been Literally Deleted as Core Values of the NSA
    • NSA Gets Honest About Its Lack of Honesty
    • NSA quietly removes ‘honesty’ from its stated ‘core values’
    • NHS Digital approves data off-shoring in new guidance

      A cloud service’s technical and support staff may be based in a different country from where the data is hosted but still have access to patient information.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • The Red Cross Helped an Executive Get a Job at Save the Children After Forcing Him Out For Sexual Harassment

      When Save the Children hired Gerald Anderson in 2013, the global charity believed it was hiring a veteran humanitarian executive with a sterling resume. Anderson had spent more than 15 years working around the world for the American Red Cross, rising through the ranks to lead the group’s massive relief effort after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. After that, the Red Cross made him head of its half-billion-dollar response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

      Perhaps most crucially, the Red Cross gave him “very positive references,” including from a senior official, Save the Children said.

    • A Chicago Cop’s Facebook Posts and a City’s Struggle With Racism

      The Chicago Police Department says complaints against officers for making racial and ethnic slurs and other discriminatory comments have declined in recent years.

      But as a story we published this week shows, it’s a stubborn problem in a city that has long struggled with racism.

      We wrote about Officer John Catanzara, a 23-year veteran who, over the years, two superintendents have tried to fire. In September, he was reprimanded for a controversial Facebook post. Now, he is under investigation for two other complaints about his social media conduct.

      One of the complaints, lodged by his district commander, alleges that the officer displayed “bigoted views” and “hostile remarks” on Facebook, including against Muslims, women, liberals, Michelle Obama and those who are economically disadvantaged.

      This is not the first time I’ve written about an officer accused of similar conduct, which in the sterile language of digital complaint data is coded as “Verbal Abuse: Racial/Ethnic.”

    • Chicago Cop Under Investigation Again Over Social Media Posts

      In September, Chicago Police Officer John Catanzara made headlines after posting on Facebook a picture of himself, in uniform, holding an American flag and a homemade sign that read, “I stand for the anthem. I love the American flag. I support my president and the 2nd Amendment.”

      He was reprimanded for violating rules that prohibit officers from making political statements while on duty. But if that discipline was intended to change his ways on social media, Catanzara instead is living up to the words he uses to describe himself on Facebook: “A give no f#$%s, say it like it is man.”

    • The NYPD’s ‘Cult of Compliance’

      The NYPD reveals itself as an unelected branch of New York City government that elected leaders will not defy.

      In New York City, bills are passed by city council members and signed by the mayor. But when the legislation is about policing, there is another, de-facto branch of government that must sign off: the New York Police Department. Though its leaders are not elected to office, the police bureaucracy acts as an unofficial gatekeeper that must be appeased before bills become law.

      After more than 5 years of pressure from advocates, two measures, once known as the Right to Know Act, became law last week. The bills together were designed to improve police encounters by giving people more information about their rights when being stopped, questioned, and searched.

      Sadly, on its way to the council floor, one of these bills took a detour that has become all-too-familiar for police reform advocates. The NYPD exercised its unofficial but very real veto power, and a bill requiring police to identify themselves to people they stop was rewritten — by the police.

      In a series of closed-door meetings, the city council speaker, the mayor, and lawyers for the NYPD inserted a loophole in the bill that allows police to avoid identifying themselves in the most common types of police interactions, including traffic stops. This compromised provision was designed and agreed to without consultation from any of the advocates or community members who were calling for the bill, including several family members of people killed by the NYPD. Yet, our elected officials made sure the police department had the final word at the negotiating table.

      The power of the police department over New York City elected officials is immense, uncompromising, and resilient.

    • Danish Police Charge Over 1,000 People With Sharing Underage Couple’s Sexting Video And Images

      Techdirt posts about sexting have a depressingly similar story line: young people send explicit photos of themselves to their partners, and one or both of them end up charged with distributing or possessing child pornography. Even more ridiculously, the authorities typically justify branding young people who do this as sex offenders on the grounds that it “protects” the same individuals whose lives they are ruining. Judging by a story in The Local, reporting on a press release that first appeared on the MyNewsDesk site (original in Danish), the police in Denmark seem to be taking a more rational approach.

    • Danish police announce case against 1,000 for sharing sex video

      Police in Denmark are set to take legal action against up to 1,000 people over the distribution of a video and images of a sexual nature across the country.

      The video was primarily sent to and shared between young people, the police said in a major announcement on Monday morning.

    • Migration Reform from a Native American Perspective

      Following a brief government shutdown over the weekend, House Democrats conceded to fund the government until February 8. The deal came after congressional Republicans agreed to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Programs for six years and promised a discussion on DACA. But many viewed this concession as a betrayal by the Democrats, who have not been guaranteed any reasonable action on immigration reform in return for re-opening the government.

    • Prospects of Return to El Salvador Pose Difficult Choice

      On January 8, the Trump administration abruptly put an end to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans now living and working in the US. Many have been in the country for 15 or 20 years, and have established jobs and families. Nearly 200,000 Salvadorans now living in the U.S. may be affected. According to the the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Salvadorans, who account for about 60% of TPS recipients, will have until Sept. 9, 2019 to either adjust their status if eligible, make plans to return to El Salvador, or face deportation.

    • Pennsylvania Imposes Permanent Solitary on Prisoners Facing Death

      Prisoners in Pennsylvania can spend decades in solitary confinement, harming their physical and mental health.

      Imagine an ordinary parking space. Now add walls and a ceiling made of thick concrete, closed off by a solid steel door. The lights are always on, so it’s never dark. You eat there, you sleep there. You are alone. Three times a day an officer slides a food tray through a slot. There is a toilet. A few times a week, if you’re lucky, you’re taken to a small cage where you can “exercise,” alone. If you are visited by family or clergy, you are not allowed to touch them. You cannot participate in any vocational, recreational, or educational programs or any form of communal religious worship or prayer.

      This is life for a prisoner on Pennsylvania’s death row.

      The policy of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is to house all prisoners with death sentences in solitary confinement until they are executed or released. One prisoner has been in solitary for over 35 years. Of the 156 men currently sentenced to death in the commonwealth, almost 80 percent have been held in solitary confinement for more than a decade.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Burger King’s Net Neutrality/Whopper Neutrality video is surprisingly excellent and says something about mainstreaming of net policy

      But Net Neutrality enjoys farcically high support — 83%! — and virtually the only “persons” who oppose Net Neutrality are bots and media corporations, and they don’t buy hamburgers.

    • Why is Burger King better at explaining net neutrality than the FCC?

      Burger King released a new three-minute long commercial on Wednesday that attempted to explain the concept of net neutrality using their trademark burger, the Whopper, as a metaphor.

    • Net neutrality will be enforced in New York under orders from governor

      New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the executive order yesterday, days after Montana Governor Steve Bullock did the same. The states are challenging the Federal Communications Commission, which repealed its own net neutrality rules and preempted states from imposing similar ones.

    • This Is Ajit Pai’s Official Calendar for the Months Leading Up to the Net Neutrality Repeal

      It’s also important to keep in mind that calendars can be carefully managed in case they’re ever made public. There are lots of empty spaces in Pai’s schedule when, I assume, he was doing something, and there’s a lack of any chunks of time devoted to policy development. And lest we forget that not so long ago Pai refused to hand over his calendar and emails to congressional investigators looking into how the FCC developed its net neutrality rules.

    • The GAO Says It Will Investigate Bogus Net Neutrality Comments, Eventually

      The General Accounting Office (GAO) says the agency will launch an investigation into the fraud that occurred during the FCC’s rushed repeal of net neutrality rules. Consumers only had one real chance to weigh in during the public comment period of the agency’s misleadingly-named “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposal. But “somebody” paid a group or individual to fill the comment period with bogus comments from fake or even dead people, in a ham-fisted attempt to downplay massive, legitimate public opposition to the plan.

      The FCC then blocked a law enforcement investigation into the fraud, refusing to hand over server logs or API key data that could easily disclose the culprit(s). FOIA requests and public requests for help (one coming from myself) were also promptly ignored by the Trump FCC.

    • Local Communities Can Inject Desperately Needed Competition in the ISP Market

      Last year we witnessed the elimination of critical privacy and network neutrality protections in the broadband market. But these moves would be less dangerous if we were able to vote with our wallets, and choose a provider that respected our privacy and didn’t engage in unfair data discrimination. Unfortunately, most of us have only one choice for high-speed Internet; if Comcast behaves badly we can complain but we can’t hit them where it really hurts by switching to someone else.

      The good news: communities across the country are trying to fix that by developing their own community broadband networks. And some members of Congress trying to help. Led by Congresswoman Eshoo, Congress recently introduced HR 4814, the Community Broadband Act of 2018, to empower local citizens to explore community broadband as a means to induce competition and lower prices. In particular, the bill tackles barriers raised by laws in more than 20 states that prevent local communities from building their own networks.

    • FCC Hopes Its Phony Dedication To Rural Broadband Will Make You Forget It Killed Net Neutrality

      The FCC and its large ISP allies are trying to change the subject in the wake of their hugely unpopular attack on net neutrality. With net neutrality having such broad, bipartisan support, the FCC is trying to shift the conversation away from net neutrality (which remember, is just a symptom of a lack of broadband competition), toward a largely-hollow focus on expanding broadband to rural areas. The apparent goal: to convince partisans that net neutrality is only a concern among out of touch Hollywood elites, and the FCC is hard at work on the real problem: deploying broadband to forgotten America.

  • DRM
    • Apple’s iBooks to become “Books” in forthcoming reading app redesign

      Apple has also reportedly hired a lead executive from Audible, the Amazon-owned audiobook platform, to help reinvigorate its e-book efforts. The iBooks app remains one of the few Apple programs that hasn’t received a significant update in years. That is likely due in part to a 2013 ruling by the US Department of Justice covering fixed pricing for e-books in Apple’s iBooks store. Apple was fined $450 million.

    • Denuvo Sold To Irdeto, Which Boasts Of Acquiring ‘The World Leader In Gaming Security’

      Any reading of our thorough coverage of Denuvo DRM could be best summarized as: a spasm of success in 2015 followed by one of the great precipitous falls into failure in the subsequent two years. While some of us are of the opinion that all DRM such as Denuvo are destined for eventual failure, what sticks out about Denuvo is just how stunningly fast its fall from relevancy has come about. Once heralded as “the end of game piracy,” even the most recent iterations of Denuvo’s software is being cracked on the timeline of days and hours. You would be forgiven if, having read through all of this, you thought that Denuvo was nearly toxic in gaming and security circles at this point.

      But apparently not everyone thinks this is true. Irdeto, the company out of the Netherlands we last saw pretending that taking pictures of toys is copyright infringement and insisting that a real driver of piracy was winning an Oscar, has announced that it has acquired Denuvo.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • TPP Is Back, Minus Copyright Provisions And Pharma Patent Extensions, In A Clear Snub To Trump And The US

        That anger means that even in the absence of the copyright and pharma patent extensions, there is still likely to be some resistance to the new deal, and not just in Canada. For example, economists estimate that the CPTPP will boost Australia’s economy by only 0.04% per year — a negligible amount that will be swamped by fluctuations in other factors. Some Australian businesses warn that the continuing existence of bilateral trade deals with eight of the CPTPP countries will lead to a complex “noodle bowl” of rules and regulations that could make it harder, not easier, to conduct business with them. In New Zealand, a long-standing critic of TPP, Professor Jane Kelsey, is particularly worried about a chapter on electronic commerce. And in Malaysia, a consumer group has urged the government there not to sign the deal, which it said would be “even worse” than TPP for the country.

      • Rupert Murdoch Admits, Once Again, He Can’t Make Money Online — Begs Facebook To Just Give Him Money

        There’s no denying that Rupert Murdoch built up quite a media empire over the decades — but that was almost all entirely focused on newspaper and pay TV. While he’s spent the past few decades trying to do stuff on the internet, he has an impressively long list of failures over the years. There are many stories of him buying internet properties (Delphi, MySpace, Photobucket) or starting them himself (iGuide, Fox Interactive, The Daily) and driving them into the ground (or just flopping right out of the gate). While his willingness to embrace the internet early and to try things is to be commended, his regular failures to make his internet ventures successful has pretty clearly soured him on the internet entirely over the years.

        Indeed, over the past few years, Murdoch or Murdoch surrogates (frequently News Corp’s CEO Robert Thomson) have bashed the internet at every opportunity, no matter how ridiculous. Almost all of these complaints can be summed up simply: big internet companies are making money and News Corp. isn’t — and therefore the problem is with those other companies which should be forced to give News Corp. money.

      • Pirate Bay Founder’s Domain Service “Mocks” NY Times Legal Threats

        When The New York Times discovered that a site was sharing copies of their articles without permission, it demanded the associated domain registration service to identify the owner. While some companies may be eager to comply, Njalla is not. The anonymous registration service replied with some unusual responses instead, reminiscent of TPB’s infamous ‘legal threats’ section.

Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) Are Not Inventions, But Sites of the Patent Microcosm (e.g. IAM) Want Us to Believe Otherwise

Friday 26th of January 2018 09:42:03 AM

China and South Korea among the latest under the microscope

Summary: In China and elsewhere the patent maximalists now get patents on GUIs (cascading or otherwise); Section 101 is not exactly designed to deal with such an absurdity

THINGS have gotten ridiculous. Some patents which are being granted nowadays (especially in countries like China) are borderline parodies. At Sun, engineers used to joke about the sorts of patents they could get examiners at the USPTO to approve/grant; they even mocked examiners for granting what they had drafted as (almost) practical jokes. WIPO is happy though because the number of annual patent grants continues to climb. More money for WIPO!

I’m not writing this site as a lobbyist or as a self-serving exercise. In fact, it doesn’t affect my job in any way. It’s almost orthogonal to it. I have been developing software since I was 14 and I created many GUIs in my lifetime (dozens of programs with GUIs, using half a dozen different toolkits); people don’t ‘invent’ GUIs but simply design or piece them together, changing placement of buttons or menu items over time at risk of confusing users who have habits (muscle memory). The developers don’t actually claim this to be an “invention” and it’s barely even like a painting. The element of consistency for predictability is essential for users. That’s where so-called ‘UX experts’ creep in.

Anyway, China’s patents (in Mandarin) are of low quality, but these are difficult for Westerners to assess because very few of them comprehend Mandarin. IAM, being IAM, is making excuses for China. Yesterday it wrote this piece about SIPO and added: “Patent application rates in China are slowing and examiners are getting tougher.”

Or maybe they’ve just run out of nonsense to file. It’s far too late for examiners to get “tough” (after many rubbish patents were granted). We occasionally read about some of these patents, including for instance patents on GUIs (not a joke!) and earlier this week Managing IP posted another example of this. “GUI design patents in China after first infringement decision” is the headline and it’s about China’s Mandarin-only, low-quality patents (even patents on GUIs!). This won’t do their economy any good, but perhaps they obey Xi’s objective of just filing lots of patent applications (nearly 1.5 million per year!) to keep up the illusion of parity with the West in relation to so-called ‘IP’ (the US wants to use that card to impose sanctions and possibly fines on China). Anyway, here is what Managing IP wrote about the Beijing IP Court a few days ago:

Observers bemoan the lack of clear guidance after Beijing IP Court judge rules there was no infringement of a GUI design patent in a highly-anticipated case

China saw its first GUI infringement case since graphical user interface (GUI) design was classified and protected as a type of design patent on May 1 2014.

So this is pretty recent. But don’t think for a second that only China stooped low enough for this foolishness. As if software patents weren’t bad enough (they’re more profound than mere buttons and often refer to implementation of callback functions for respective buttons).

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), where no judge is familiar (firsthand) with the process of software development, has just given an adrenaline rush to the patent microcosm. Early coverage of this came from Patently-O. This is already being cited by vocal patent maximalists and it says the following:

In a split opinion, the Federal Circuit has affirmed Core Wireless win over LG Electronics [DECISION] – finding the asserted patent claimed eligible subject matter and refusing to disturb the district court’s judgment of no-anticipation and infringement. U.S. Patent Nos. 8,713,476; 8,434,020; and 6,415,164 (UK Priority Date of July 2000). The patents here are directed to user-interfaces — basically users are shown a menu of applications; Selecting on an application takes the user to an “application summary” that includes functions of the application and files (“data”) associated with each application that can be selected to launch the application and enable the file to be seen within the application.

[...]

Holding: Claims are not directed to an abstract idea and therefore are eligible under Alice Step 1.

All judges on the panel agreed with this holding. The disagreement between the majority (Moore & O’Malley) and Dissent-in-Part (Wallach) comes over the definition of the claim term “unlaunched state.” The majority construed the term as “not displayed” while the dissent argues that it should be construed as “not running.” The two definitions result in differing treatment of apps that are running in the background. The changed construction result would likely impact both the infringement and anticipation conclusions. For its part, the majority explained that the patent used the word “launch” in several instances to be synonymous with “displayed” – thus leading to its conclusion.

Patent extremists have gotten so excited that they enter “ALL CAPS” mode and note that it’s “PRECEDENTIAL”. This actually hurts a Korean company, LG, and we hope LG will appeal in order to ensure that the Supreme Court gets a chance to overturn this terrible decision. Does the US really want to enter the crazy realm of patents on GUIs?

Speaking of Korea, LG Chem got mentioned by IAM in relation to Intellectual Discovery, which is proving to be a Korean disaster; it’s a waste of money, it might dissolve into the hands of patent trolls. IAM of course supports all that. To quote:

Intellectual Discovery, South Korea’s sovereign patent fund, will lead the effort. “I believe it would be a win-win situation for the patent holder and potential licencees,” says Dongsuk Bae, who heads ID’s licensing division. Bae adds that LG Chem is open to discuss a range of licence terms apart from just exclusion of competitors. Like many large Korean corporates, LG Chem has not previously focused on licensing out technology. Min says the decision to engage ID came down to both the firm’s international experience and its ability to act as an intermediary: “We want someone who can help us find a partner in China, as well as someone who can help a partner understand our intentions and the benefits of a deal.”

Well, partnering in China because Korean companies such as Samsung are being bullied by Chinese giants like Huawei and various patent trolls? In this current atmosphere of patent maximalism in China Samsung and LG might be better off just exiting the Chinese market altogether (not easy as they rely on manufacturing in mainland China). Sure, Huawei can still sue them in other countries, but not with the same litigation success rates.

How a Microsoft-Sponsored and IBM-Armed Patent Troll Is Used by Lobbyists of Software Patents

Friday 26th of January 2018 08:34:45 AM

Finjan started suing a lot of companies after Microsoft had paid it in 2005

Summary: In an effort to make § 101 seem as though it’s tolerant towards software patents, patent law firms and front groups of trolls cherry-pick what they like in the largely-failed lawsuit against Blue Coat Systems

The relatively new euphemism, "public IP companies", is being promoted by patent trolls and their fronts (such as IAM). They keep looking for new identities. Finjan is one such troll — a troll which has been financially backed by Microsoft for a very long time and last year received more ammunition (from IBM [1, 2]).

Unfortunately, as we noted last week, the patent microcosm uses this troll in order to badmouth § 101 and promote software patents (we shall say more about that in the weekend). For example, a few days ago Dilworth IP’s Shin Hee Lee and Anthony D. Sabatelli published this article in which they wholeheartedly embraced a truly disgusting troll. The patent microcosm, i.e. people who profit from agony and litigation, wants to thwart the (near) ban on software patents and it found itself a ‘champion’:

On January 4th, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office updated their webpage on subject matter eligibility with two new supplementary documents providing further guidance under 35 U.S.C. §101. The two new documents are useful summaries and references for practitioners and others having an interest in the area.

[...]

On January 10, 2018, the court decided Finjan, Inc. Blue Coat Systems, Inc., where upon de novo review it affirmed a district court finding that the underlying software-based subject matter was indeed patent eligible.

What they choose not to mention are the many patents which § 101 did, in fact, invalidate. They cherry-pick just the one thing that suits them. We predicted they would attempt this (as soon as the decision had been published). We first covered the outcome 13 days ago.

Hours ago IAM also did this puff piece for Finjan (not even remotely an effort at journalism). It starts with repetition of talking points from a press release:

Finjan has already recouped the $2 million it spent on acquiring a small package of patents from IBM last year as part of a deal which saw the cyber security business form a new subsidiary, Finjan Blue. The news emerged as the company announced its results for the fourth quarter and for 2017 as a whole, revealing a big jump in revenues to more than $50 million – including around $15 million in net income. It was, in short, a banner year for one of the small band of public IP companies (PIPCOs) that has thrived despite recent legal and regulatory headwinds in the US.

[...]

At the time of the announcement, Finjan CEO Phil Hartstein revealed that not only would the new subsidiary be looking to license the IP but that it was also interested in how the acquired patents might be able to support its product business, Finjan Mobile. “This deal augments our licensing business but also adds value to the product side,” Hartstein explained to this blog.

But on a recent call with analysts to discuss the latest results, Hartstein disclosed that such had been the licensing interest in the assets that the PIPCO had shifted its efforts “to existing licensing and settlement discussions in a positive way, with revenues allocated into Finjan Blue having already offset the current invested expense”.

The deal with IBM and licensing agreements that Hartstein and his team put in place last year with the likes of FireEye and Sophos reflect Finjan’s progress in monetising its IP, but, as with many PIPCOs, it has been far from all plain sailing. Most recently the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that a large part of a $39 million damages award against Blue Coat had to be remanded back to district court. That was just the latest stage in what is proving to be an extremely convoluted litigation battle between the two companies.

What they describe as “convoluted litigation battle” alluding to “two companies” is actually one company and one troll, where the battle is fought in just one direction (Finjan has no products to actually sue over) and the courts mostly reject the troll’s claims. But don’t expect IAM et al to tell the full story. They don’t tell, they sell. They sell agenda; they’re funded by trolls.

The Corcoran Incident Demonstrates That the EPO’s Boards of Appeal Are Threatened and Battistelli Violates Laws

Friday 26th of January 2018 07:42:52 AM

As the Boards themselves are sometimes courageous enough to note

Summary: The ongoing refusal to obey the rulings of judges (regarding an illegal attack on other judges) shows the Battistelli regime for what it truly is (necessitating immediate removal of immunity)

LAWLESSNESS at the EPO has become so routine that it’s almost banal now. It’s the new norm.

We have just uploaded a local copy of the document regarding immunity and issues associated with it (published earlier this week and mentioning the EPO extensively). It was covered yesterday in relation to Battistelli’s war against justice and against the EPC. This war carries on. It even intensifies further, albeit somewhat covertly (they just keep uttering sound bites like “perception of independence” while sending judges to exile).

We now have two separable but related issues: 1. the EPO breaks laws and; 2. it does not obey the courts, either (when found to have broken laws). It’s not even obeying ILOAT and it’s sending Corcoran to exile. We wrote three articles about it so far [1, 2, 3] and some media belatedly takes note. The only new bit of information there is that Corcoran is being given only weeks’ notice. This cites a letter:

In a letter addressed to the heads of delegations of the administrative council, the EPO’s Central Staff Committee said that the office had informed Corcoran he would be “permanently transferred in February 2018 to a post of senior expert in classification expressly created for him in The Hague”.

The committee argued that “transferring [Corcoran] to a country in which he had never lived is a further burden for him and his family”.

The committee also argued that the office “did not fulfil its duty of care by assessing medically whether the employee was fit for a transfer. For medical or personal reasons, the employee may have to refuse to be transferred and in such case the President may decide to terminate his service”.

If anyone could send us a copy of this letter, we would appreciate it. Without media/public scrutiny, justice remains “in the dark” and can thus never be assured. The same goes for patents.

On another topic, oppositions at the EPO are soaring and even SUEPO took note of it earlier this week (citing the Haseltine Lake research which we cited over two week ago). Onxeo has just paid for a press release to brag about “Intent-to-Grant Notice,” but what are the chances of oppositions on the way? At a pace of about 4,000 oppositions per year now (it used to be far less) certainty for patenters is rather low. The latest-high profile example is Broad Institute’s CRISPR patent. There are “differences between U.S. law and the EPC regarding a priority determination,” Patent Docs has just said, noting the relevance to the EPC and Paris Convention (a subject of debate at IP Kat‘s comments). To quote:

The interference between the Broad Institute and the University of California/Berkeley has been in the spotlight over the past year (see “PTAB Decides CRISPR Interference — No interference-in-fact”; “PTAB Decides CRISPR Interference in Favor of Broad Institute — Their Reasoning”; “University of California/Berkeley Appeals Adverse CRISPR Decision by PTAB”; and “Berkeley Files Opening Brief in CRISPR Appeal”). But there have been other skirmishes between the parties, each of which has recently been (for now) resolved.

[...]

In Europe, under Article 87 EPC and Paragraph IV of the Paris Convention, priority to an earlier-filed application can be validly claimed by the prior applicant or by her successor in interest. In either case, the applicant must be someone having the right to claim priority. In the U.S., provisional applications are filed in the name of the inventor and the EPO requires that there be an assignment of the invention on or before a European or PCT application is filed. (Of course, a PCT can always be filed naming the inventors as applicants.) In this case, proper application of the applicable rules required both the named applicants (The Broad Institute, MIT and Harvard College) and the Rockefeller to have been named as applicants when the application was filed. Rockefeller was not named as an applicant. Accordingly, the OD determined that the named Proprietors could only validly claim priority to the third provisional application, and by the filing date of that application there had published prior art that invalidated the granted claims. In this regard, the preliminary opinion may provide guidance on the OD’s thinking, where that opinion states that “In both the EPC and the Paris convention systems the decisive fact for a valid claim of priority is the status of applicant, rather than the substantial requirement [] to the subject matter of the first application” (emphasis in opinion). The OD determined (preliminarily) that “neither the requirement of the applicant’s identity nor the proof of a valid success in title [had] been fulfilled” for the claimed invention, and stresses that these were requirements to promote legal certainty that would protect third parties’ interests, and that these requirements were not subject to the national law of the priority document. Nor, according to the preliminary opinion could the granted European patent properly claim priority to U.S. 61/758,468 because that document failed to disclose the length of the guide sequence as claimed.

The matter will likely be decided, upon appeal, by the appeal boards which complain about lack of independence (and they typically rule in favour of patent maximalism). The Corcoran incident is relevant to this because it reinforces the perception of partiality, it clearly demonstrates that the Office operates outside the Rule of Law, and it quite likely ensures that the UPC will never come to fruition.

The ‘Collusion’: IP Kat’s (Until Recently) Stephen Jones Meets Battistelli to Lobby for the Unitary Patent (UPC)

Friday 26th of January 2018 06:58:39 AM

This Kat is no watchdog but a lapdog


Last night’s photo op shows Stephen Jones almost holding hands with Battistelli

Summary: The sad state of affairs in the patent microcosm (or litigation lobby), as Team UPC not only tolerates human rights abuses but also contributes to them by showing support for Battistelli (an alliance of convenience)

WHEN Stephen Jones entered IP Kat (last summer) we immediately complained that it would further embolden censorship of EPO scandals and contribute to UPC lobbying (already rampant there, mostly due to Bristows and more recently also Eibhlin Vardy).

IP Kat’s pushing/advocacy/promotion of the UPC (usually by Bristows) was further bolstered when it began censoring comments critical of the UPC and refused to cover EPO scandals, even deleting entire threads of comments because they criticised abuses at the EPO. Bristows staff was limiting comments while pushing their lobbying agenda (and actually deleting ‘unwanted’ comments). In their own blog, Bristows does not permit comments at all, so yesterday’s post, for example, will remain unchallenged in spite of spin and inaccuracies.

The sad thing is that in a sense, the Kat has been participating in the EPO’s attacks on the Boards of Appeal every time it promoted the unconstitutional and abusive UPC.

Where does the above photo come from? The EPO’s Web site (time-stamped 8 hours ago). It’s specifically aimed at promoting the UPC (warning: epo.org link) and even mentions it explicitly:

High-level representatives and experts of the EPO, led by President Benoît Battistelli, met yesterday in Munich with a delegation of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) headed by its President, Stephen Jones.

The meeting allowed the EPO and CIPA to confirm that Brexit will have no consequence on UK membership of the European Patent Organisation, nor on the effect of European patents in the UK. Accordingly, European patent attorneys based in the UK will continue to be able to represent applicants before the EPO.

[...]

Both the EPO and CIPA acknowledged the good progress made by the UK on the ratification of the UPC Agreement, which it is expected to ratify in the coming months. 15 EU member states have ratified the agreement so far, and more are expected to do so soon.

I used to respect and extensively link to IP Kat (not just on patent matters), but seeing what happened to it after Jeremy (the founder) left is worrying enough that I barely link to them anymore. They have become almost like a front group for Team UPC, CIPA/Stephen Jones etc. and they literally meet with the worst crooks at the EPO (like Lutz and Battistelli, pictured above) to help them.

Links 25/1/2018: Qt 5.11 Feature Freeze Soon, GCC 7.3 Ready

Thursday 25th of January 2018 10:23:53 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • “Anyone and Everyone,” Leslie Hawthorn Reflects on 20 Years of Open Source.

    The Open Source Software Movement and the Open Source Initiative will celebrate our 20th anniversary in 2018. As part of that celebration, we’re asking open source luminaries to reflect on the past twenty years—the milestones, success, controversies, and even failures—to capture and understand our shared history, and the impact of the open source movement on not only software and technology, but also business, community and culture. We’re also curious to hear what those who have done so much to help drive open source to where it is today, on where it should go tomorrow.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla Firefox 58 “Quantum” Web Browser Is Now Available for Ubuntu Linux Users

        Canonical announced today that the recently released Mozilla Firefox 58.0 web browser is now available for download from the software repositories of all supported Ubuntu Linux releases.

        Mozilla officially launched the Firefox 58.0 “Quantum” web browser the other day, on January 23, 2018, bringing numerous improvements and new features like a two-tiered compiler and streaming compilation support to make WebAssembly even faster, WebVR support for Mac OS X users, and support for credit card info in the autofill feature.

      • Update on Pocket and Firefox Integration

        When Mozilla and Pocket joined forces less than a year ago, we said that together we will work to provide people everywhere with the tools to discover and access high-quality web content across platforms and silos, for a safer, empowered, independent online experience.

      • Rolling up our sleeves

        Yet, as I said in my last post, I don’t think all is lost for the open internet, as headlines the headlines might suggest. The internet remains a place of joy, opportunity and empowerment for many. I want to make sure it stays that way — that we don’t end up with a divide between slow, ad-laden, compromised internet for most people, and fast, private, secure internet for those who can pay for it.

      • We’re Hiring a Developer to Work on Thunderbird Full-Time!

        The Thunderbird Project is hiring for a software engineer! We’re looking for an amazing developer to come on board to help make Thunderbird the best Email client on the planet! If you are interested you can apply via the link below, following the job description.

      • Get Firefox on your Amazon Fire TV, now with Turbo Mode

        Amazon Fire TV users! Here at Mozilla, we believe you should have the ability to watch what you want or view the web how you want. Firefox for Fire TV, our browser for discovering and watching web video on TV, is here on Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV stick. You can launch popular video websites, like YouTube or Vimeo, load any website address and search the web for videos to play full screen on your TV, all from the comfort of your couch.

      • Firefox 59 Might Ship With Working Wayland Support

        Besides Firefox 59 being the release doing away with GTK2 support, this next Mozilla web-browser release might be the one to achieve working native Wayland support.

        For seven years there has been Bug 635134 for tracking a Firefox Wayland port so the web-browser would play nicely on this next-gen alternative to the X.Org Server.

      • Lessons learned from the A-Frame category in the js13kGames competition

        It’s been a while since the js13kGames 2017 competition ended in September last year, but it’s worth recalling as it was the first time with a brand new category – A-Frame. Let’s see what some of the competition participants have to say about the challenges of developing playable WebVR entries limited to just 13 kilobytes each.

      • Mozilla Empowers Journalists with the Power of A-Frame

        Technology is continually providing us with new ways to create and publish stories. For these stories to achieve their full impact, it requires that the tools to deploy them become accessible and easy to use.

        That’s one of the reasons why Mozilla has worked to develop A-Frame, a framework that makes it easy for anyone to build virtual reality experiences for the web.

      • Celebrating the tenth anniversary of International Data Privacy Day

        As we gear up to celebrate the tenth anniversary of International Data Privacy Day on January 28, we want to highlight Mozilla’s efforts to create awareness and help protect your personal information.

        As champions of a healthy and safer internet, we don’t care about your privacy just one day a year. Every day is data privacy day for us. And we don’t mean this as a gimmick. Mozilla isn’t your average tech company. We are a not-for-profit dedicated to keeping the web open and accessible to all. Privacy and safeguarding your personal data is the core of our mission. And of our products. Firefox Quantum and everything else we do from policy to advocacy or fun social media activities are rooted in that principle.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GCC 7.3 Released

      The GNU Compiler Collection version 7.3 has been released.

      GCC 7.3 is a bug-fix release from the GCC 7 branch containing important fixes for regressions and serious bugs in GCC 7.2 with more than 99 bugs fixed since the previous release.

      This release includes code generation options to mitigate Spectre Variant 2 (CVE 2017-5715) for the x86 and powerpc targets.

    • GCC 7.3 Released With Spectre V2 Mitigation Support

      GNU Compiler Collection 7.3 is now available as the latest GCC7 point release and the prominent changes being support for helping mitigate Spectre variant two using some new compiler switches.

      GCC 7.3 has backported Retpoline support after GCC 8.0 development code initially received the support earlier this month. This GCC support building out a patched kernel can lead to “full” retpoline protection for the system.

      The Retpoline support adds a few new compiler switches, namely -mindirect-branch= for dealing with indirect branches to avoid speculative execution.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Asgard: The Open Source Air Data Computer

        We get a lot of awesome projects sent our way via the tip line. Well, mainly it seems like we get spam, but the emails that aren’t trying to sell us something are invariably awesome. Even so, it’s not often we get a tip that contains the magic phrase “determine Mach number” in its list of features. So to say we were interested in the Asgard Air Data Computer (ADC) is something of an understatement.

  • Programming/Development
    • Report: 80’s kids started programming at an earlier age than today’s millennials

      Almost immediately, you notice an interesting trend. Those in the 18 to 24 age group overwhelmingly started their programming journey in their late teens. 68.2 percent started coding between the ages of 16 to 20.

      When you look at older generations, you notice another striking trend: a comparatively larger proportion started programming between the ages of five and ten. 12.2 percent of those aged between 35 and 44 started programming then.

Leftovers
  • North, South Korea hockey players team up for Olympics

    Female hockey players from the rival Koreas were paired up with each other Thursday to form their first-ever Olympic squad during next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Games, as their countries press ahead with rare reconciliation steps following a period of nuclear tensions.

    A dozen North Korean hockey players wearing white-and-red winter parkas crossed the heavily fortified border into South Korea earlier Thursday, as about 30-40 conservative activists shouted anti-Pyongyang slogans at a nearby border area.

  • Ursula K. Le Guin on the Future of the Left
  • Science
    • Bugatti eyes 3-D printing with titanium

      For that feat, Bugatti knew there was a Germany-based Laser Zentrum Nord in Hamburg, an institute that formed part of the Fraunhofer research organization. The latter party has a 3-D printer which Bugatti said was the largest printer in the world suitable for titanium, equipped with four 400-watt lasers.

      Frank Götzke, head of new technologies at Bugatti Automobiles, recognized the Hamburg group had the selective laser melting units needed for the job.

    • Trump administration wants to end NASA funding for the International Space Station by 2025

      The Trump administration is preparing to end support for the International Space Station program by 2025, according to a draft budget proposal reviewed by The Verge. Without the ISS, American astronauts could be grounded on Earth for years with no destination in space until NASA develops new vehicles for its deep space travel plans.

      The draft may change before an official budget request is released on February 12th. However, two people familiar with the matter have confirmed to The Verge that the directive will be in the final proposal. We reached out to NASA for comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

    • Never-Before-Seen Viruses With Weird DNA Were Just Discovered in The Ocean

      The ocean is crowded. As many as 10 million viruses can be found squirming in a single millilitre of its water, and it turns out they have friends we never even knew about.

      Scientists have discovered a previously unknown family of viruses that dominate the ocean and can’t be detected by standard lab tests. Researchers suspect this viral multitude may already exist outside the water – maybe even inside us.

    • Better than holograms: A new 3-D projection into thin air

      One of the enduring sci-fi moments of the big screen—R2-D2 beaming a 3-D image of Princess Leia into thin air in “Star Wars”—is closer to reality thanks to the smallest of screens: dust-like particles.

      Scientists have figured out how to manipulate nearly unseen specks in the air and use them to create 3-D images that are more realistic and clearer than holograms, according to a study in Wednesday’s journal Nature . The study’s lead author, Daniel Smalley, said the new technology is “printing something in space, just erasing it very quickly.”

      In this case, scientists created a small butterfly appearing to dance above a finger and an image of a graduate student imitating Leia in the Star Wars scene.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • ​Linux and Intel slowly hack their way to a Spectre patch

      Spectre and Meltdown are major design flaws in modern CPUs. While they’re present in almost all recent processors, because Intel chips are so widely used, Intel is taking most of the heat for these bugs. Nowhere has the criticism been hotter than on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML). That’s because unlike Apple and Microsoft operating system developers and OEMS like Dell and HP, Linux programmers do their work in the open. But, when Linux and Intel developers aren’t arguing, they are making progress.

    • Meltdown and Spectre – Performance and stability

      There’s no perceivable slowness of any kind. So that further helps our experiment, as we have a completely different set of operating systems and kernels to confirm the Windows findings.

    • Randomness in virtual machines

      I always felt that entropy available to the operating system must be affected by running said operating system in a virtual environment – after all, unpredictable phenomena used to feed the entropy pool are commonly based on hardware and in a VM most hardware either is simulated or has the hypervisor mediate access to it. While looking for something tangentially related to the subject, I have recently stumbled upon a paper commissioned by the German Federal Office for Information Security which covers this subject, with particular emphasis on entropy sources used by the standard Linux random-number generator (i.e. what feeds /dev/random and /dev/urandom), in extreme detail:

    • Linus Rants, Cryptojacking Protection, openSUSE and Games

      Linus Torvalds slams Intel’s Spectre and Meltdown patches, calling them “COMPLETE and UTTER GARBAGE”. See LKML for more.

    • Pastejacking

      This demo uses JavaScript to hook into the copy event, which will fire via ctrl+c or right-click copy. Right now this demo does works in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari but not with Internet Explorer, however there is a demo below which is IE compatible.

    • ‘A sign that you’re not keeping up’ – the trouble with Hotmail in 2018

      With the passage of time and the absence of a brand overhaul, the word “hotmail” near your name started to be quite ageing; like “ntlworld” or “blueyonder”, it was a sign that you weren’t keeping up. It was a deduction that wouldn’t stand up in a court of law, but online it is inference, not certainty, that drags you down. When you could have an ageless Yahoo address, there is just no call to leave this kind of footprint, unless “incredibly old” is your calling card.

    • Shocking data breach exposes more than 220,000 organ donor records

      Lowyat.net, which previously exposed a leak of 46m citizen records belonging to Malaysian communications firms – reported Tuesday (23 January) that the details appeared to be from a central database linked to state hospitals and national transplant resource centres.

      Complete entries of personal information included ID numbers, names, email addresses, home addresses and phone numbers of 220,000 citizens recorded between January 2009 and August 2016.

    • Researchers warn new Lebal malware is seeking high-profile targets

      The vector for the attacks, which are described as being specifically targeted versus random attempts, was not through usual email attacks but camouflaged through several layers. The first attempt involves a phishing email disguised as a message from Federal Express, while the second attempt involves a malicious link pretending to be a link to Google Drive.

    • What is Lebal? New sophisticated malware found targeting several universities, government agencies

      It requests users to click on a link to download and print out an “attached label” that needs to be submitted in order to receive the parcel. The malicious link itself is disguised as a Google Drive link. Once a user clicks on it, the hackers’ website pops up with the malicious “Lebal copy.exe” file ready to download.

    • Cyber crime hit 978m in 2017, caused US$172b loss

      It said that as as a result, victims globally lost US$172 billion – an average of US$142 per victim. The figure for Australia was US$1.9 billion in total. Each of these people also spent about 24 hours — or almost three full workdays — dealing with the aftermath.

    • January 2018 Web Server Survey

      While 1.5 million web-facing computers currently run Microsoft web server software, a slightly larger number – 1.8 million – run Windows operating systems. The bulk of the difference is made up of Windows computers that either run Apache or reverse-proxy traffic from backend Apache servers. The most commonly used Windows version is Windows Server 2008, followed by 2012 and then the aging, unsupported Windows Server 2003. Windows Server 2016 accounts for only 3.7% of all Windows web-facing computers at the moment, but it is steadily growing – this month, the number of Windows Server 2016 computers grew by 14% to 66,800.

    • Security Chaos Engineering: A new paradigm for cybersecurity

      Security is always changing and failure always exists.

      This toxic scenario requires a fresh perspective on how we think about operational security. We must understand that we are often the primary cause of our own security flaws. The industry typically looks at cybersecurity and failure in isolation or as separate matters. We believe that our lack of insight and operational intelligence into our own security control failures is one of the most common causes of security incidents and, subsequently, data breaches.

  • Defence/Aggression
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • The Dawn of Solar Windows

      Future skyscrapers will harvest energy from the sun with photovoltaic windows

    • China surges with 52 Gigs of new Solar as Trump kneecaps US sector with 30% Tariffs

      Clean Technica reports that China blew the top off expectations for its solar installations in 2017, It put in 52.83 gigawatts.

      The incredible 2017 solar surge in China brought its total solar installed capacity up to 130 gigawatts. As a cursory look at these statistics makes obvious, in one year China increased its solar by nearly 70 percent. In short, it wasn’t so far from doubling its ability to generate electricity from solar sources.

    • China Officially Installed 52.83 Gigawatts Worth Of Solar In 2017

      Floating solar power plantA lot of attention has been given over to watching China’s solar capacity additions in 2017, as the country seemed hell-bent on stupefying analyst expectations. China installed a total of 34.2 GW (gigawatts) of new solar PV capacity in 2016 which was well up on analyst expectations at the time. Looking forward, analysts seemed not to have learned their lesson, with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicting that China would install “more than 30 GW.”

    • Trump’s solar tariff backfires: It hits red states and U.S. taxpayers harder than China

      On Monday, President Donald Trump slapped a 30 percent tariff on imported solar cells and panels.

      But while the White House said the goal was to punish China for an industrial policy aimed at taking over the global solar market, the harsh reality is that the president is going to end up punishing the states that voted for him the most. On top of that, U.S. taxpayers are actually going to end up paying for half of any tariff.

  • Finance
    • Lobbying for the Dead – Vampire larp at the European Parliament

      While the MEPs and the law were real, the lobbyists were not: They were participating in a larp called Parliament of Shadows, based on the tabletop roleplaying game Vampire: The Masquerade. The MEPs played themselves in a larp seeking to bring reality and fiction as close as possible in the world of vampire lobbying.

    • Apple Can’t Resist Playing by China’s Rules

      In short, all personal user information stored on the iCloud — including photos, videos, text files, contacts, calendars and iCloud email — will be shared with Guizhou-Cloud Big Data and could be available to the Chinese authorities as well. Apple has said that G.C.B.D. will not have access to the personal data stored in its facility without Apple’s permission, but the new terms and conditions agreement appears to say the opposite.

    • GOP senator’s bill seeks to more than double H-1B visas

      Orrin Hatch’s bill, which he said, could be folded into an immigration measure now being discussed by members of Congress, would raise the number of H-1B visas issued each year to 195,000 from the current number of 85,000.

    • GOP Lawmaker Wants to More Than Double High-Skilled Worker Visas

      In addition to the provisions for high-skilled immigrants, the legislation would eliminate caps on how many permanent residents can come from a particular country — a provision that has often stymied workers from India and China. It would also create more exemptions from an overall cap on those authorized to live and work in the U.S. permanently, including for some family members and those with advanced degrees in science and technology.

    • Kelsey: Labour has shown a lack of political backbone on so-called ‘progressive’ TPPA

      If it signs the latest version of this controversial deal, Jacinda Ardern’s government can hardly expect people to take the promise of a progressive new model for New Zealand’s international trading relations seriously, argues leading TPPA critic Jane Kelsey.

      [...]

      To be fair, the Labour-led government was handed a poison chalice. National excluded the opposition parties from information about the negotiations, leaving them dependent on leaks like everyone else. It expected – and senior Labour officials had hoped – the agreement would have been in force before the 2017 election.

    • Amazon’s First Cashierless Store Looks an Awful Lot Like Whole Foods Without Employees

      After over a year of testing (some of which didn’t go so hot), Amazon is ready at last to unveil its automated 7-Eleven killer to the public today. Doors opened at 7 o’clock this morning at the inaugural Amazon Go, which is located, conveniently, at the bottom of Amazon’s main Seattle office tower, a symbolic reminder that Jeff Bezos & Co. are watching over your every move once you step inside this fancy, checkout-free store.

    • Record high Chinese investment in Germany in 2017

      China invested more than ever before, €11bn, in German companies in 2017, according to a study from consulting firm EY, reported by Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Most transactions involved Hong Kong-based investors who are not affected by strict Chinese capital controls. The European Commission is pondering wether to set up a screening mechanism to sound the alarm bell on investments in sensitive sectors.

    • Sony Falls as JPMorgan Questions Bull Case for Image Sensors

      The Tokyo-based company’s image sensor business is likely to weaken amid slowing momentum for Apple Inc.’s iPhones, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. wrote as he downgraded the company to neutral from overweight. IPhone X production will probably fall 50 percent quarter over quarter and the weakness is likely to continue for the first half of the year as demand for high-end smartphones plateaus, according to J.J. Park. Sony shares fell as much as 5.2 percent by midday in Tokyo.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • A severe case of “truth decay”
    • Disinformation Is Becoming Unstoppable

      This market paradigm encourages a subtle and unwitting alignment: These sites sustain themselves by finding like-minded groups and selling information about their behavior; disinformation propagators sustain themselves by manipulating the behavior of like-minded groups. Until this system is restructured, it is unlikely political disinformation operations can be stopped or even slowed. That rebuilding would be enormously difficult, since digital advertising is absolutely central to Internet commerce. But it is essential.

    • New York Times Aids Democrats Worried About Trump Bashing

      Days ago, the Democratic Party disappointingly caved to Republicans and President Donald Trump and ended the government shut down without achieving anything meaningful. They were promised the potential for action by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that could help 800,000-plus immigrants known as Dreamers avoid deportation, but there are few signs that will materialize.

      Democrats balked at an opportunity to take a stand because they did not want to be divisive and disruptive. They did not have the fortitude to stick to a message that would communicate to Americans that the political party in power was shirking its responsibility to protect immigrants whose lives hang in the balance.

      Enter the New York Times and its opinion section, which published an “online conversation” on January 24 under the headline, “Enough Trump Bashing, Democrats.”

      What exactly do the editors overseeing the opinion section believe about Trump? Do the editors really think Democrats can negotiate in good faith or compromise with the president? What do they think Democrats can work on and get done with Trump when Republicans pay lip service to a policy change and then pursue a different and destructive policy?

    • The inexperienced man-child frat-rat that Trump made deputy drug czar got fired from his only real job for not showing up

      Taylor Weyeneth is America’s number two official in charge of drug policy. He’s a 24-year-old former Trump campaign volunteer whose resume is singularly unimpressive: apart from being a frat brother in good standing at St John’s University and organizing a single charity golf tournament, the only real jobs he’s ever held were working in his daddy’s chia seed factory (which closed when his dad went to jail for illegally processing Mexican steroids) and working as a legal assistant at the New York white shoe law firm of O’Dwyer & Bernstien.

      But this job was a bit of a mystery, because different versions of Weyeneth’s resumes listed different tenures at this firm. However, one of the partners at the firm, Brian O’Dwyer, has clarified the mystery. Weyeneth was fired because he “just didn’t show.”

    • ‘Don’t ever preach to me again!’: Ex-GOP chair tells evangelicals who still support Trump to ‘shut the hell up!’

      Former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele blasted Family Research Council president Tony Perkins for giving President Donald Trump a “mulligan” on paying hush money to former adult film star Stormy Daniels.

      “When it comes down to giving Trump a pass, some top evangelical leaders are turning a blind eye to his past indiscretions and came to his defense following recent reports about his alleged affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels,” MSNBC host Chris Matthews explained.

      “I have very simple admonition: just shut the hell up and don’t preach to me about anything ever again,” Steele suggested.

      “After telling me who to love, what to believe, what to do and what not to do and now you sit back and the prostitutes don’t matter, the grabbing the you-know-what doesn’t matter, the outright behavior and lies don’t matter, just shut up!” Steele blasted.

    • Neil Gorsuch Is a Terrible Writer

      Neil Gorsuch is supposed to be a good writer. In fact, he once was: During his tenure on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Gorsuch produced a number of witty, lucid, and pithy opinions. But since his elevation to the Supreme Court, Gorsuch’s prose has curdled into a glop of cutesy idioms, pointless metaphors, and garbled diction that’s exhausting to read and impossible to take seriously. It may even be alienating the conservative justices whom Gorsuch was supposed to beguile with his ostensibly impeccable reasoning.

    • Ivanka Trump Won’t Stop Promoting Her Brand, Might Be Running Afoul of Federal Law

      Federal employees may not use their positions for private gain, according to federal law in the United States. Yet, this is exactly what Ivanka Trump is doing, according to Democracy Forward. The nonpartisan watchdog organization, which scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas and challenges unlawful actions through litigation, sent a formal letter to the Office of Government Ethics claiming that Ms. Trump is the latest member of the administration to run afoul of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations by using her position as a highly-ranking government employee to promote her fashion brand.

      Democracy Forward’s most central claim in its letter to David J. Apol, Acting Director of the Office of Government Ethics, stems from 5 CFR 2635.702, the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Listed under the heading, “Subpart G—Misuse of Position,” the statute states that a federal employee “shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity, including nonprofit organizations of which the employee is an officer or member, and persons with whom the employee has or seeks employment or business relations.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Government announces anti-fake news unit

      “We will build on existing capabilities by creating a dedicated national security communications unit. This will be tasked with combating disinformation by state actors and others. It will more systematically deter our adversaries and help us deliver on national security priorities.”

    • Censorship By Weaponizing Free Speech: Rethinking How The Marketplace Of Ideas Works

      It should be no surprise that I’m an unabashed supporter of free speech. Usually essays that start that way are then followed with a “but…” and that “but…” undermines everything in that opening sentence. This is not such an essay. However, I am going to talk about some interesting challenges that have been facing our concepts of free speech over the past few years — often in regards to how free speech and the internet interact. Back in 2015, at our Copia Summit we had a panel that tried to lay out some of these challenges, which acknowledged that our traditional concepts of free speech don’t fully work in the internet age.

      There are those who argue that internet platforms should never do any moderation at all, and that they should just let all content flow. And while that may be compelling at a first pass, thinking beyond that proves that’s unworkable for a very basic reason: spam. Almost everyone (outside of spammers, I guess) would argue that it makes sense to filter out/moderate/delete spam. It serves no useful purpose. It clutters inboxes/comments/forums with off-topic and annoying messages. So, as Dave Willner mentions in that talk back in 2015, once you’ve admitted that spam can be filtered, you’ve admitted that some moderation is appropriate for any functioning forum to exist. Then you get to the actual challenges of when and how that moderation should occur. And that’s where things get really tricky. Because I think we all agree that when platforms do try to moderate speech… they tend to be really bad at it. And that leads to all sorts of stories that we like to cover of social media companies banning people for dumb reasons. But sometimes it crosses over into the absurd or dangerous — like YouTube deleting channels that were documenting war crimes, because it’s difficult to distinguish war crimes from terrorist propaganda (and, sometimes, they can be one and the same).

    • Wherein We Ask The California Supreme Court To Lessen The Damage The Court Of Appeal Caused To Speech

      A few weeks ago we posted an update on Montagna v. Nunis. This was a case where a plaintiff subpoenaed Yelp for the identity of a user. The trial court originally denied Yelp’s attempt to quash the subpoena – and sanctioned it for trying – on the grounds that platforms had no right to stand in for their users to assert their First Amendment rights. We filed an amicus brief in support of Yelp’s appeal of that decision, which fortunately the Court of Appeal reversed, joining another Court of Appeal that earlier in the year had also decided that of course it was ok for platforms to try to quash subpoenas seeking to unmask their users.

      Unfortunately, that was only part of what this Court of Appeal decided. Even though it agreed that Yelp could TRY to quash a subpoena, it decided that it couldn’t quash this particular one. That’s unfortunate for the user, who was just unmasked. But what made it unfortunate for everyone is that this decision was fully published, which means it can be cited as precedent by other plaintiffs who want to unmask users. While having the first part of the decision affirming Yelp’s right to quash the subpoena is a good thing, the logic that the Court used in the second part is making it a lot easier for plaintiffs to unmask users – even when they really shouldn’t be entitled to.

    • Thought Police for the 21st Century

      The abolition of net neutrality and the use of algorithms by Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter to divert readers and viewers from progressive, left-wing and anti-war sites, along with demonizing as foreign agents the journalists who expose the crimes of corporate capitalism and imperialism, have given the corporate state the power to destroy freedom of speech. Any state that accrues this kind of power will use it. And for that reason I traveled last week to Detroit to join David North, the chairperson of the international editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site, in a live-stream event calling for the formation of a broad front to block an escalating censorship while we still have a voice.

      “The future of humanity is the struggle between humans that control machines and machines that control humans,” Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said in a statement issued in support of the event. “Between the democratization of communication and usurpation of communication by artificial intelligence. While the Internet has brought about a revolution in people’s ability to educate themselves and others, the resulting democratic phenomena has shaken existing establishments to their core. Google, Facebook and their Chinese equivalents, who are socially, logistically and financially integrated with existing elites, have moved to re-establish discourse control. This is not simply a corrective action. Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity. While still in its infancy, the trends are clear and of a geometric nature. The phenomena differs in traditional attempts to shape cultural and political phenomena by operating at scale, speed and increasingly at a subtlety that eclipses human capacities.”

    • Facebook Will Change Your News Feed Just By Asking 2 Questions

      few days back, Facebook said they would bring down the amount of news content in people’s News Feed and fill it with personal content from friends and family. But it might take some time for the company to do that.

      There was another change that CEO Mark Zuckerberg highlighted in a post last week. Facebook would show news content from high-quality, trustworthy sources. And rather than taking the help of some expert or AI-powered system, Facebook would go the old-school way and conduct public surveys.

    • U.N. experts urge Philippines to preserve free media

      U.N. human rights experts called on the Philippines government on Thursday to allow independent news website Rappler to operate, voicing concern at rising rhetoric against voices critical of President Rodrigo Duterte.

      The country’s Securities and Exchange Commission revoked Rappler’s licence on Jan 11 for ownership violations. Maria Ressa, chief of Rappler (www.rappler.com), met state investigators on Monday to answer what she called a suspicious complaint about a 2012 story.

      “We are gravely concerned that the government is moving to revoke Rappler’s licence,” three U.N. human rights experts said in a joint statement. “We are especially concerned that this move against Rappler comes at a time of rising rhetoric against independent voices in the country.”

    • Latin American News Outlet’s Facebook Page Mysteriously Disappears For 24 Hours

      The Facebook page for teleSUR English, a leftist online news site oriented to English-speaking audiences launched in 2014 by teleSUR, a public Latin American multimedia news company, appeared to have been deleted on Tuesday night.

      By Wednesday morning, teleSUR English’s Facebook page was up and running again.

    • Facebook should be ‘regulated like cigarette industry’, says tech CEO
    • ‘Never get high on your own supply’ – why social media bosses don’t use social media

      Developers of platforms such as Facebook have admitted that they were designed to be addictive. Should we be following the executives’ example and going cold turkey – and is it even possible for mere mortals?

    • An Inside Look At The Accounts Twitter Has Censored In Countries Around The World

      The second half of 2017 saw an unprecedented number of Twitter accounts banned in Germany and France thanks to an increase in removal requests from governments, NGOs, and other entities, according to data gathered by BuzzFeed News. The data also reveal that demands from the Turkish government have led Twitter to block hundreds of users for what appear to be political reasons.

    • Guantanamo Bay prisoners’ lawyers urge Defence Secretary to end ‘censorship’ of inmate’s artwork

      Lawyers for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay who have been refused permission to transfer artwork from the jail – some of it containing images of torture and abuse – have urged the US Defence Secretary to overturn a ban that activists claim amounts to “censorship”.

      A number of the 41 prisoners still being held at the prison camp located at the US naval base in Cuba, often turn to art for relaxation. At the beginning of last year, the authorities there reportedly made it easier for prisoners to participate in drawing, painting and model-making.

      But last November, after a number of works of art were displayed at a New York gallery, officials suspended all transfers of art. In addition, the inmates were told all their art was government property and would be destroyed if they were ever released from the prison.

    • China’s #MeToo movement emerges, testing censors’ limits

      Former doctoral student Luo Qianqian was “amazed” that her sexual assault story went viral in China, inspiring other women to denounce rampant harassment on campuses and unleashing a #MeToo movement in the country despite censorship challenges.

      Before she accused her professor of assaulting her, under the pretence of asking for help watering his plants, #MeToo had been slow to catch on in China.

      [...]

      But in a rare show of solidarity among intellectuals, more than 50 professors from over 30 colleges have signed an anti-sexual harassment manifesto.

      Amid the uproar, the education ministry said it had a “zero tolerance” policy and will establish a new mechanism to prevent sexual harassment.

      “The ministry’s response was really a surprise, because it’s a commitment from our country. I’m very glad my country is finally making this move,” Luo told AFP.

    • ‘Censorship’ or ‘insult’? Russians react to The Death of Stalin ban
    • Opinion: Stalin, a Russian imposition
    • Tyrannies can’t stand being laughed at
    • Kremlin Denies Censorship After ‘Death of Stalin’ Pulled from Cinemas
    • ‘Death of Stalin’ Cast Holds Out Hope for Russian Screening Despite Ban
    • Introducing the Open Research Collective on Information Pollution

      Misinformation online is a relatively new problem for platforms, researchers, and communities. Understanding the problem, and staying abreast of the latest insights from social science and computer science research about how misinformation is created, spreads online, and affects users are necessary steps towards designing and launching impactful projects.

      To help surface actionable insights for researchers and communities working on information-pollution challenges, the Mozilla Information Trust Initiative (MITI) is supporting a community repository of recently published articles from thoughtful researchers across disciplines, spanning from communications to political science to human-computer interaction.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Software used in judicial decisions meets its equal in random amateurs

      The Dartmouth researchers, Julia Dressel and Hany Farid, decided not to focus on bias but on the overall accuracy. To do so, they took the records of 1,000 defendants and extracted their age, sex, and criminal history. These were split up into pools of 20, and Mechanical Turk was used to recruit people who were asked to guess the probability that each of the 20 individuals would commit another crime within the next two years.

    • Customs and Border Protection Violated Court Orders During the First Muslim Ban Implementation

      It’s been nearly a year since the Trump Administration issued its first Muslim ban, unleashing chaos at airports across the country. A new report provides some details about why that chaos unfolded the way it did.

      Last week, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general issued a long-delayed review of the agency’s implementation of the first Muslim ban. Despite redactions and a delay in the report’s release of more than three months by DHS, this report still confirms an alarming lack of guidance, preparation, and information given to government officers that weekend. It also shows that Customs and Border Protection, the agency tasked with implementing the ban, repeatedly violated court orders as they were issued in the week following the announcement of the ban. Similar conclusions have emerged from FOIA documents released to ACLU affiliates that filed 13 separate lawsuits seeking information on the ban’s implementation from CBP offices across the country.

    • A prominent member of Germany’s far-right anti-Islam party just converted to Islam

      Arthur Wagner was a leading member of a state chapter of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, whose slogan “Islam doesn’t belong in Germany” encapsulates its extreme nativist and anti-Muslim views.

      The AfD, which is now the third-largest political party in Germany after its stunning success in last September’s elections, has tried to ban the construction of mosques in Germany, called on the country’s border police to shoot refugees and migrants if necessary to stop them from entering the country, and run ads reminiscent of World War II-era Nazi propaganda warning of the threat posed by Muslims coming into Germany.

    • Murder in Hampstead: did a secret trial put the wrong man in jail?

      Lacey was not interested in the chaotic debris in the hallway, or the swarm of bluebottle flies on the stairs, as she made her way through the house at No 9 Downshire Hill in Hampstead on a warm June afternoon in 2006. But as she approached a room to her right, which was piled high with an assortment of papers, she let out a bark and started digging at the mess in front of her with her paws. What had caught the interest of Lacey, a black-and-tan German shepherd attached to the Metropolitan police’s dog unit, was a decomposing body.

      [...]

      Hall, who said he had taken part in BDSM activities in the past, believes Chappelow’s death could well have been a sex encounter that ended in murder. He said that the wax burns and asphyxiation were indications of this kind of sexual encounter, and that he is surprised that the police did not look further into Chappelow’s private life. “Most of the crimes that occur on the Heath at night go unreported for various reasons,” said Hall. “This (Chappelow’s murder) was very unlikely to have been a burglary gone wrong.”

      Despite what the appeal court said, the jury in the first trial “clearly concluded” nothing: they could not reach a verdict at all, and a small majority of them actually favoured acquittal. Their deliberations might have been very different if the evidence from both Jonathan Bean and Peter Hall had been available.

      “When I submitted the application to the CCRC, I was confident that the fresh evidence – particularly that obtained by the Guardian – would lead to a referral back to the court of appeal,” said Kirsty Brimelow QC, who has represented Wang. “Evidence of a person stealing mail and threatening violence would have had a significant impact upon the jury. Also, the prosecution case focused on Mr Chappelow’s life as a recluse who never went out, and could not have met his assailant other than surprising a mail thief. Evidence of another side to his life would have challenged this focus, and in my view may well have changed the verdict. There always must be potential for unfairness with secret hearings.”

      Geoffrey Robertson QC agrees. “Had the fresh evidence been available at the first trial, I do think it likely that Wang Yam would have been acquitted. I had, for example, raised the possibility of an assailant picked up on the Heath, but without the evidence that emerged years later that gave credence to the theory, consistent with some of the pathology, of a sadomasochistic ritual gone wrong. You cannot prove Wang Yam innocent – until someone confesses or they identify the DNA on the cigarettes – but doubts about his guilt are reasonable.”

      The crumbling house in which Chappelow was murdered was later bought by developers, who demolished it and rebuilt a home in the Regency style, complete with an indoor swimming pool, private cinema and staff quarters. It went on the market last year for £14.5m, and has since been sold. This week, a black Range Rover stands in its driveway, there is not a leaf out of place in the garden, and the immaculately painted letterbox has the word “Post” painted helpfully on it. All traces of Allan Chappelow are gone.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Please, Keep your Blog Light

      keeping your blog lightweight is important, I show you how to design a blog fitting in less than 10kB.

      You’re already convinced weight really matters when it comes to web pages? You can skip the introduction and directly see how you can reduce your blog’s weight through a practical example.

    • A Governor Renews Net-Neutrality Protections With the Stroke of a Pen

      Unfortunately, the telecoms are notoriously shortsighted—and litigious. As such, it’s likely that there will be legal wrangling over the Montana order. Bullock and his team think they have gotten around FCC attempts to prevent state action by creating a requirement for companies that seek to contract with the state—rather than simply ordering restoration of net neutrality.

    • New Bill Would Prevent Comcast-Loyal States From Blocking Broadband Competition

      We’ve long noted how state legislatures are so corrupt, they often quite literally let entrenched telecom operators write horrible, protectionist laws that hamstring competition. That’s why there’s now 21 states where companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have successfully lobbied for laws banning towns and cities from building their own broadband networks, even in instances where the incumbent refuses to. In many states, these laws even ban public/private partnerships, often the only creative solution for better broadband in low ROI markets.

    • Allow Burger King’s New Ad to Explain Net Neutrality to You

      In the ad, Burger King customers discover that the typical Whopper price only gets them a “slow access Whopper pass,” meaning they’ll have to wait longer for their burger unless they pay as much as $26 to receive their food quickly. The spot features Burger King employees explaining the new rules to angry and confused customers by calling it “Whopper neutrality.”

    • AT&T CEO’s net neutrality plan calls for regulation of websites

      AT&T is lobbying Congress for a net neutrality law that isn’t nearly as strict as the rules just recently repealed by the Federal Communications Commission. But the most notable aspect of AT&T’s rather vague proposal is that the telco wants this law to apply to website operators in addition to Internet service providers.

    • AT&T wants Congress to draft a net neutrality law. Here’s why that’s a big deal.

      AT&T’s legislative campaign aims to head off what many analysts say could be another swing of the regulatory pendulum against broadband providers. In December, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal its net neutrality rules — a move that largely benefited AT&T and other broadband companies. But that decision is being challenged in court and in Congress. Many states are also moving to pass their own net neutrality rules to replace the federal regulations.

    • Net neutrality comment fraud will be investigated by government

      The FCC’s net neutrality repeal received more than 22 million comments, but millions were apparently submitted by bots and falsely attributed to real Americans (including some dead ones) who didn’t actually submit comments. Various analyses confirmed the widespread spam and fraud; one analysis found that 98.5 percent of unique comments opposed the repeal plan.

    • States and Cities Keep the Battle for Net Neutrality Alive

      Activists and lawmakers are still trying to restore net neutrality protections at the federal level, but former FCC enforcement chief Travis LeBlanc says state and local action probably has the best chance of making an impact in the short term.

    • Net Neutrality in Europe: What’s Next? With Thomas Lohninger

      Net neutrality: the notion that all data on the Internet should be treated the same, without discrimination or differential pricing — is at risk in the United States but protected by law in Europe. But is it really being enforced?

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • The Rise of Trade Secret Litigation in the Digital Age

      The availability of federal jurisdiction under the DTSA and powerful DTSA procedural tools, like ex parte seizure of allegedly purloined trade secrets, mean that conditions are ripe for trade secret litigation to increase.

    • Trademarks
      • Bad faith confirmed for ALEXANDER trade mark application

        A recent decision of Geoffrey Hobbs QC, sitting as an Appointed Person, has rejected an appeal against the Hearing Officer’s decision to refuse to register ALEXANDER as a UK trade mark for mirrors an picture frames, on the ground of bad faith, following an opposition from Paper Stacked Limited.

    • Copyrights
      • Grumpy Cat wins $710,000 payout in copyright lawsuit

        Grumpy Cat Limited sued the owners of US coffee company Grenade for exceeding an agreement over the cat’s image.

        The company only had rights to use the cat to sell its “Grumppuccino” iced drink, but sold other Grumpy products.

        The cat, real name Tardar Sauce, went viral in 2012 after photographs of her sour expression emerged online.

      • New Kodi Addon Tool Might Carry Interesting Copyright Liability Implications

        A tool just released by the TVAddons team might carry interesting copyright implications. Github Browser enables Kodi users to install third-party addons directly from development platform Github. This removes the requirement for sites like TVAddons to host repositories containing potentially infringing add-ons, something which forms the basis of two lawsuits against the platform.

      • The EU is Working On Its Own Piracy Watch-List

        Following in the footsteps of the United States, the European Union plans to launch its own piracy “watch list”. Based on input from relevant stakeholders, the list will identify sites and services that facilitate copyright infringement, to encourage foreign governments to take action in response. Unlike the USTR’s version, the EU list can include American companies as well.

Sam Gyimah Replaced Jo Johnson More Than a Fortnight Ago, But Team UPC Has Ignored It Until Now

Thursday 25th of January 2018 02:24:37 PM

Summary: Another great example of Team UPC intentionally ignoring facts that don’t suit the UPC agenda and more misinformation from Team UPC (which now suppresses comments expressing the ‘wrong’ views)

IT IS not news. It was reported on early in the month. Team UPC could report it more than two weeks ago, but it did not. How convenient, as usual. It also reported absolutely nothing about the British government/Parliament totally removing the UPC from the agenda (after it had been put there).

“Team UPC could report it more than two weeks ago, but it did not.”Sam Gyimah, who is relatively young for a politician, replaces another young politician, whom we criticised for being inexperienced in his domain (still, Donald Trump even appoints officials who have only just graduated from college). This morning we wrote about Bristows mentioning it weeks late (while also distorting the facts or making stuff up) and this afternoon it was Michael Loney who belatedly covered it:

Sam Gyimah, member of UK parliament for East Surrey, has been confirmed as the UK IP minister

The above publisher is close to EPO management and has helped promote the UPC for years. Perhaps they realise that they can’t go on ignoring the fact that Jo Johnson is history. His words, his infamous photo op with crooked Battistelli, all that lobbying et cetera? Perhaps all in vain. Is Gyimah already being showered with brown-nosing ‘advice’ from Team UPC? It’s not unthinkable. Bristows is brown-nosing judges. Bristows has gone out of its way to possibly speak to UK-IPO off the record, then fabricating statements to the desired effect (soon to be repeated by Loney’s publisher). It does not get more despicable than this because later on they call those who call them out “trolls” and "idiots". Says a lot about their arrogance.

“But these liars would have us believe that the UK (i.e. Gyimah, who is new on the job and has other priorities as he settles in) will imminently push for ratification.”Kluwer Patent Blog, which now has an even more restrictive commenting policy (to shield the UPC from critics), has a new post today. Not only time delay/moderation is in place; there are now further restrictions to guard the UPC from critics. “Kluwer Patent blogger” (i.e. probably Bristows in hiding) pushes out another bit of UPC advertising. It did so earlier today and there are no comments. How convenient. They ‘crushed’ the resistance by technically silencing it. “As long as Germany hasn’t ratified the UPCA,” it concludes, “the Unitary Patent system cannot launch.”

And Britain also. Obviously. But these liars would have us believe that the UK (i.e. Gyimah, who is new on the job and has other priorities as he settles in) will imminently push for ratification. Gyimah and his wife are very well educated; they’re not in the job because of kinship (Boris Johnson) and will be harder for Team UPC to bamboozle/manipulate.

The EPO is Already in Violation of ILO Rulings on Judge Corcoran

Thursday 25th of January 2018 01:36:04 PM

Under normal circumstances, executives or presidents can be arrested for refusing to obey court orders

Summary: The incredible situation at the EPO, where court orders from several countries (and international tribunals) are simply being disregarded, staff is being bullied, and corrupt officials get away with punishing people who speak about the corruption (while they themselves enjoy immunity)

THIS MORNING we mentioned ILOAT’s latest decisions (dozens of EPO ones). We don’t wish to comment on any of them without prior consultation, primarily because without context there’s room for misinterpretation. We did look at a few decisions.

“The ILO actually arranged an “exceptional” delivery of several Corcoran decisions, perhaps realising it would be essential to guard Corcoran’s job (his contract/term would have expired before the “normal” delivery). “Last month we read that Patrick Corcoran would likely be mentioned (again) in some of this latest batch, possibly along with staff representatives. The ILO actually arranged an “exceptional” delivery of several Corcoran decisions, perhaps realising it would be essential to guard Corcoran’s job (his contract/term would have expired before the “normal” delivery).

Over the past month Corcoran’s life (and career) was chaotic in spite of ILO’s intervention. He may have worked in 3 places and offices (Haar, Munich, and The Hague) in just about a month. We don’t know if he is already at The Hague or not. Harassing him (even outside the courtroom) and making it impossible for him to adapt makes dismissal for ‘incompetence’ easier, or simply gives him the incentive to walk away and give up. It is absolutely despicable and we keep trying to bring this to the attention of ILO (and Guy Ryder personally).

“It’s Mr. Battistelli who ought to be sent to The Hague, preferably in handcuffs (they have the ICC there).”We have already heard from multiple sources [1, 2] that Mr. Corcoran and his wife will be pushed to a different country, further away from courtrooms that they would likely need to attend anyway (costing more in travel expenses). It’s Mr. Battistelli who ought to be sent to The Hague, preferably in handcuffs (they have the ICC there). There are so many EPO abuses that are attributed to him; he quickly became a textbook example of what’s wrong with diplomatic immunity. Minutes ago SUEPO published links in “[Council of Europe] Final report on: Jurisdictional immunity of international organisations and rights of their staff” (not entirely new a revelation [PDF], albeit relevant right now and the paper itself is new). The EPO is mentioned, as noted by SUEPO:

4. It is no secret that the signatories of the original motion for a resolution had the situation at the European Patent Office (EPO) in mind when tabling this motion. The EPO – like other international organisations – is not exactly a paragon of transparency when it comes to its internal workings, but the situation has deteriorated so badly over the last few years that there has even been some media attention. From this media coverage it appears that the President of the EPO installed in 2010 has waged a campaign against staff who oppose his reform efforts (with staff representatives members of the trade union SUEPO being in the first line of fire): by 2016, three elected staff representatives had been dismissed, others had been demoted and/or had seen their salaries or pensions cut. Staff complain about a campaign of intimidation, harassment and discrimination, resulting in burn-out and other sickness, and even suicides: Over the past four years, five EPO staff members have committed suicide, two of them at their place of work.

[...]

9. I would personally conclude that, first of all, international organisations should endeavour to respect the rights of their staff – all their fundamental human rights, including social rights enshrined in the European Social Charter, thus the Amendment A. Quite frankly, if the “success” of an international organisation such as the EPO is built on campaigns of harassment and intimidation which drive staff members to suicide, then the price of this success is too high. This should be obvious to the governing body of the international organisations in question, and thus, ideally, in case of such abuses, the governing body would ensure that the international organisation’s management stops the abuse and goes back to respecting staff rights. If this is not the case, then the internal remedy system of the international organisations should be able to put things right again. This is why I fully support the proposals made by Mr Ullrich and the Committee on Legal Affairs to ensure that all international organisations introduce appropriate mechanisms to protect the rights of staff, along with procedures for lodging appeals.

According to this new comment, even though Corcoran still works for the EPO the ILO’s ruling is not being obeyed:

Another ILO-AT ruling about “Mr P.C.” has just issued. It concludes that he “shall be immediately reinstated in his former post“.

Given that he’s apparently been downgraded and – reportedly – reassigned to the Hague, this is going to be interesting.

http://www.ilo.org/dyn/triblex/triblexmain.fullText?p_lang=en&p_judgment_no=3960&p_language_code=EN

And here’s more from Francesca:

http://www.ilo.org/dyn/triblex/triblexmain.fullText?p_lang=en&p_judgment_no=3958&p_language_code=EN

Mr. P. C. is also reinstated in decision 3958 (as his first suspension was not according to the rules). In 3960, therefore any consequent prolonging of the suspension is therefore also inffective.
Alas, in 3960 AT-ILO refuses to consider the legality of amending rules during the procedure, and applying the new rules retroactively. (consideration 9)

The other three cases were dismissed (3985, 3959, and 3961 (premature, irreceivable)), as the EPO’s request to consider the amount of appeals as vexatious, and the corresponding order to bear the office’s costs.

So, since the December AT-ILO decision was formally done by the EPO-AC, and then the contract not prolonged, now we have a different situation.
Will the PBoA finnaly stand up for his employee?

We are guessing that SUEPO will have more to say once the latest decisions are properly studied. In the meantime, SUEPO says almost nothing at all. SUEPO has just linked to this research (mentioned here earlier this month) which helps demonstrate decline in patent quality at the EPO. When staff suffers the entire institution is thrown into a state of disarray.

A European Unitary Patent-Like System (e.g. UPC) is Not Compatible With Law; Expect it to Rot Away at the German Federal Constitutional Court

Thursday 25th of January 2018 07:52:41 AM

If the Rule of Law means anything, the UPC will never resurface again (in any form whatsoever)

Summary: The “community” a.k.a. “EU” a.k.a. “unitary” patent system is collapsing and there’s no sign that the matter will be settled any time soon

THE EPO won’t see the UPC coming to fruition. Battistelli certainly won’t. What we believe most likely to happen is, they’ll rename it (yet again), change the vision somewhat, then reattempt. Time will tell…

It’s quite interesting to see just to what degree Techrights impacts UPC coverage. A few hours after we complained that Bristows had been deliberately ignoring this departure of Jo Johnson (weeks ago!) it finally decided to write a blog post about it and say: “The UK IPO has confirmed that Sam Gyimah is now the Minister responsible for IP.”

“What we believe most likely to happen is, they’ll rename it (yet again), change the vision somewhat, then reattempt.”This has been confirmed for quite a while now. Bristows just chose to overlook all that because it’s very detrimental to and negative if not fatal for UPC progress/prospects. As one can expect, the blog post is amazing spin. Bristows can apparently read minds (never mind if it always got it wrong on UPC, for several consecutive years); it pretends to know everything about Gyimah’s intentions; as if Gyimah will just do something Johnson spoke about back in 2016 (when everything was very different). Don’t fall for it…

So what is the real news? Well, let’s research and see what Team UPC and domain experts are saying. It’s about Germany — the focal point at the moment.

“I have read the entire complaint which circulates in the Internet,” one person said. They brag about being able to read the constitutional complaint.

“Bristows just chose to overlook all that because it’s very detrimental to and negative if not fatal for UPC progress/prospects.”There is also a ‘non-update’ update from JUVE’s editor. “This may be of any interest as well,” he wrote. “Statement from @BVerfG: Neither a date for the oral hearing nor for a judgement is known yet.” That’s basically a non-news. The news is that there’s no news.

Anton Horn added: “Update on the status of the pending German constitutional complaint regarding the planned…”

The update is, well… no update. In the world of journalism there are all sorts of terms for that thing (turning a non-event into an actual event worth reporting on). This was soon mentioned by Team UPC (mostly just repeating what Juve reported, adding the pro-UPC talking points). “I would welcome your comments,” said the person who calls me a "troll" for opposing the UPC and calls readers of Kluwer "idiots" while he deletes their comments.

Alexander Esslinger‏ (a.k.a. “patently German”) said: “An early judgement on the complaint against the ratification of the #UPC before the German Federal Constitutional Court @BVerfG is not in sight…”

Yes. this is our understanding as well.

“Well, the EPO is a cash cow to Germany; the UPC in its current form would be too.”Thomas Adam (a.k.a. “UPC tracker”)‏ wrote a bunch of useful tweets, including this one which notes, “of the 27 invited institutions and associations only 7 filed amicus curiae briefs on UPC constitutional complaint, including the German government and the EPO. Same applies to the Federal Bar Association (BRAK; as a member, one wonders what they have said).”

JUVE’s editor responded to him by saying: “Interesting as well that neither house in German parliament nor the federal states hosting the four German local divisions submitted a amicus brief. Sign they do not differ from the government’s opinion.”

Well, the EPO is a cash cow to Germany; the UPC in its current form would be too. But the constitutional complaint is about law, not about money motives. Greed in its own right does not bypass laws and constitutions. Unless of course we wish to accept lawlessness…

“Greed in its own right does not bypass laws and constitutions. Unless of course we wish to accept lawlessness…”The way we interpret the above (three quarters of parties not filing a submission with an opinion) is, a lot of pro-UPC parties have given up. They perceive a submission to be a waste of time (and money; they charge a lot for hourly work). This whole effort might not matter now. The boat has already left and the UPC is neglected. It’s worse than stuck. It's likely dead.

Thomas Adam has looked at another submission and said: “UPC constitutional complaint DE: Submission of German IP association GRUR limited to „specific patent law-related“ Q‘s (p3 at top) and while pro-UPC no explicit statement as to merits of complaint. (Plus typo in quote from ECJ C-146/13 on p27). http://www.grur.org/uploads/tx_gstatement/20 [] GRUR submits (p2 bottom) that a clear majority of members had been in favour of UPC/UP, controversial discussions w/in GRUR notwithstanding. As for language of proceedings, states that already now parties often cannot rely on their mother tongue, eg in EPO opposition. [] GRUR: Question of whether EPO granting procedure entirely kosher not an issue of EU law but entirely unrelated and UPCA does not lead to that procedure being integrated in EU law (p27 w reference to ECJ C-146/13, n30). [] Also, most technical literature as well as specialist terminology were in English (p25). Language of EPO proceedings also decisive in interpreting patent claims (Art 70 EPC).”

“The UPC is not compatible with law.”We have chosen to emphasise (above) the part about the language because of the following remarks. One UPC critic from Spain said that “Spain signed up to the EPC because it was as a precondition for entering into the European Community in 1986. It is not clear what would obtain Spain joining the UPCA.”

Spain opposes the UPC for various reasons including language. And mind the response to this: “EPO is a patent office, and national patent offices can translate the EPO patent. UPC is a court, the language of proceedings cannot be in a language that people do not understand. J.J. v. the Netherlands(27 March 1998), para 43; Albert and Le Compte v Belgium, (1983) 5 EHRR 533…”

So that seals it. The UPC is not compatible with law. It’s one among several issues apparently raised in the complaint.

“It’s the habitual misinformation we see from IAM, which has just bashed Spain (yet again) for rejecting the UPC.”It’s worth noting that IAM, which was paid by the EPO’s PR firm for UPC promotion, has just published this promotion of an upcoming event (IPBC Europe) in which it says “emergence of the Unified Patent Court will be crucial for European companies going forward.”

A lie such as this is typical. It’s the habitual misinformation we see from IAM, which has just bashed Spain (yet again) for rejecting the UPC. That’s the context of the remarks above.

Justice Still Elusive at the EPO and ILOAT, But a Glimmer of Hope Remains

Thursday 25th of January 2018 07:01:48 AM

Published hours ago:

Summary: The EPO can offer justice neither to staff nor users; whether the International Labour Organization (ILO) and its Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) can make up for this remains to be seen

PRESIDENT Battistelli will leave the EPO in 5 months, but the damage he has done is truly incredible. His actions not only damaged patents but also staff; it’s no wonder the EPO now suffers brain drain and is unable to recruit the type of people it used to. The EPO may never recover from this. Some insiders even wonder aloud if there’s a future for the EPO at all.

“You must improve the image of the EPO,” I told the EPO in response to this tweet yesterday. “Otherwise you turn off potential users…”

“Over the past few months we have been attempting to show to ILO material about the EPO refusing to obey ILOAT rulings. Guy Ryder too was copied in.”It is hardly surprising that, based on a JUVE survey, Battistelli has a 0% approval rate not only among EPO staff but also among EPO users (that’s what they call stakeholders such as applicants). A lot of money is being invested in this (for small businesses it can be the lion’s share of their budget).

Over the past few months we have been attempting to show to ILO material about the EPO refusing to obey ILOAT rulings. Guy Ryder too was copied in.

Does ILO realise that its reputation too is on the line? For failing to properly remediate?

“Our understanding is that some of these rulings were about EPO staff representatives.”Yesterday was the 125th session of ILOAT and the decisions were not uploaded/published until late in the day. There is no video of this latest session, either (at least not yet, it would be listed here if/once it’s ready).

Our understanding is that some of these rulings were about EPO staff representatives. The appellants typically request anonymity and are thus reduced to initials. We kindly ask if anyone with contacts at the EPO can help explain to us what happened at ILO yesterday afternoon. We need to properly know the cases in order to comment on them (few decisions we took a glimpse at were dismissals of appeal) because sometimes a negative decision or deferral is actually a positive thing, as we saw 2 years ago.

“We can expect that with the declining quality of patent examination (inevitable under Battistelli for several reasons) it may become a growing concern and will result in many decisions being overturned (or patents invalidated).”It would not be the first time we say that if EPO management cannot properly deal with justice for its own staff, it won’t be able to assure justice for users. 8 days ago the CRISPR industry [sic] suffered a major blow after it had been promised — in vain — that CRISPR patents would be considered patent-eligible. There’s a long discussion about the technical aspects of the refusal over at IP Kat. “I must also say that I love how US practitioners often think that everybody but them misunderstands the Paris Convention. That often gets a few laughs in proceedings before the EPO,” wrote one person yesterday.

More on patent justice w.r.t. the Paris Convention:

More thoughts. Deep inside the USA, it is not just First to File and the importance of the Paris Convention that is less than fully understood.

Investors in the USA suppose that litigation is a lottery but that their man will win provided that i) his pocket is deep enough and ii) the jury does not come to the idea that he is a Bad Guy. Quality at the patent drafting stage is seen as a secondary matter, less “sophisticated” than litigation, less valuable.

Further, Americans always suppose that nothing is decided till everything is decided, namely at trial (ie Oral Proceedings).

Yet further, Americans always suppose that once a patent issues, its validity is, in practice, unassailable.

As to the pace of the proceedings on this European patent thus far, note that the B1 issued just 9 months after EPO national phase entry.

More haste, less speed?

Priorities are the main topic of debate there and Isobel Finnie from Haseltine Lake LLP has just published this short article about the “CRISPR Patent Wars”. To quote:

In this case the patentee was unable to demonstrate that at the filing date of EP2771468 the named applicants were the true successors in title to all of the applicants of the 12 earlier US patent applications. One of the problems raised was that an inventor/applicant (Luciano Marrafini) named on some of the earlier US applications was not named as an applicant and nor was the institute he worked for (Rockefeller University). It is interesting to note that in the US the Broad Institute and the Rockefeller University were wrangling over whether this person should or should not be named as an inventor. A further problem raised with the priority claim was that some of the inventors had only assigned their rights to applicants named on filing EP2771468 after its filing date.

IAM has meanwhile published a sponsored piece for a Turkish perspective on “double patenting” at the EPO. We can expect that with the declining quality of patent examination (inevitable under Battistelli for several reasons) it may become a growing concern and will result in many decisions being overturned (or patents invalidated). Is this certainty? Is this justice?

Links 24/1/2018: New Tails and Firefox Releases

Wednesday 24th of January 2018 10:11:39 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Opensource gratitude

    Some weeks ago I’ve read somewhere in Twitter about how good will be to adopt and share the practice of thanking the opensource developers of the tools you use and love. Don’t remember neither who or where, and probably I’m stealing the method s/he proposed.

  • GrammaTech Releases Automated Software Engineering Library Into Open Source

    Researchers in automated software engineering now have access to proven industrial strength tools to automate common programming tasks. GrammaTech, Inc., a leading developer of commercial embedded software analysis and transformation tools, announced immediate availability of their Software Evolution Library (SEL) as open source software, licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Latest Firefox Quantum release available with faster, always-on privacy with opt-in Tracking Protection and new features

        We accept things in the online world that we wouldn’t accept in the physical one. For instance, how would you feel if you popped your head in a store and that store now had the ability to keep sending you flyers even if you didn’t buy anything? Online, we often visit sites that track us, but it isn’t clear when this is happening or how the information is being used. Adding insult to injury, this often invisible tracking actually slows down web pages.

      • Firefox 58 Arrives With Continued Speed Optimizations

        Mozilla has set free Firefox 58.0 today as their latest “Firefox Quantum” release that continues work on being a performant web browser.

      • Firefox Quantum 58 builds on performance gains, improves screenshots tool

        Mozilla is rolling out Firefox Quantum 58.0 for desktop, along with Firefox for Android 58.0. It arrives over two months after the landmark release of Firefox Quantum 57.0.

        The latest build focuses on performance and security, while an update to Firefox’s user profile feature means it’s no longer backwards compatible with previous versions. Android users also gain the ability to pin favorite websites to their home screen for use like native apps.

      • Firefox 58 Released for Linux, Mac, and Windows

        The Mozilla Foundation has made Firefox 58 files available for download on its official FTP servers. An official announcement will be made later today when the organization will also release the final changelog.

      • Browse without baggage in Firefox: Set Tracking Protection to always on

        We just can’t stop making Firefox faster — and with our most recent release, we also made it easier for you to control how much you’re tracked.

      • Firefox 58: The Quantum Era Continues

        2017 was a big year for Mozilla, culminating in the release of Firefox Quantum, a massive multi-year re-tooling of the browser focused on speed, and laying the groundwork for the years to come. In 2018, we’ll build on that incredible foundation, and in that spirit our next several releases will continue to bear the Quantum moniker. Let’s take a look at some of the new goodies that Firefox 58 brings.

      • Firefox’s continued Quantum transformation—more multithreading, tracking protection

        Firefox 58, out today, continues to deliver Project Quantum, Mozilla’s far-reaching modernization effort that’s boosting the browser’s performance, security, and maintainability. The initiative allows Firefox to take better advantage of modern multicore processors and makes the browser better suited to the demands of today’s Web applications.

      • MozMEAO SRE Status Report – January 23, 2018

        Here’s what happened on the MozMEAO SRE team from December 2017 – January 23.

      • WebRender capture infrastructure

        For over a year now, I’ve been hacking on WebRender. It was born in Servo as an experimental way to batch the painting and compositing of the web content on GPU. Today it’s a solid piece of engineering that’s going to mainline Firefox as the next big Rust-written component within the Quantum project. You can read more about WebRender on our team’s blog as well as this wonderfully illustrated article by Lin Clark.

      • The Different Types of Privacy Protection

        Many of your favorite sites keep track of what you do online. They may do it to understand if you’re interested in a particular article, item or activity. They may do it to make your experience of their site easier. They may also track you so they can try to sell you things.

        Online ads can be customized on the fly based on what you do. Been searching for a new pair of Chucks? Mega Shoe Company has a great deal for you. To serve those custom ads at just the right time, the shoe company needs to know where you go online. Is that bad? Some argue that customized (targeted) ads are much better than traditional billboards or radio spots. At least with targeted ads, there’s a good chance you’ve been looking for what they’re selling. But you may not want companies following you around the web.

      • Introducing the MDN Product Advisory Board: actions and impressions from our first meeting

        On January 11th, 2018, Mozilla held the first in-person meeting of the MDN Product Advisory Board (PAB) in London. The goal of the MDN Product Advisory Board, in collaboration with Microsoft, Google, and other industry leaders, is to provide guidance that helps MDN be the best reference for web developers.

        To that end, I’m pleased to announce that the web platform consultancy Bocoup, represented by Rick Waldron, will be joining the MDN Product Advisory Board starting in February. Bocoup brings a practitioner’s perspective to the the standards process and participates in a wide range of open source projects. Rick has actively contributed to MDN since May of 2011, writing documentation, reviewing contributions, and participating in the maintenance of the JavaScript Reference sub-articles. He’s written proposals and specifications for new JavaScript APIs and syntax, participated in ECMAScript® 2015, 2016, 2017 Language Specifications, and represents Bocoup at ECMA TC39 meetings. I’m very excited Rick will be adding his considerable industry knowledge and JavaScript focus to the board and look forward to him joining our next meeting.

      • MOSS Q4 2017 Update

        We’ve just published MOSS’s Q4 2017 update, bringing you up to speed on what’s going on in the world of MOSS (Mozilla Open Source Support, our program for giving back to the open source and free software community).

      • Mozilla Communities Speaker Series #2 #PrivacyMonth
      • Mozilla Fixes 32 Security Flaws, Accelerates Performance in Firefox 58

        Mozilla released its first web browser update for 2018 on Jan. 23 with the debut of Firefox 58. The new release includes features designed to accelerate performance as well as patches for 32 security vulnerabilities.

        Firefox 58 is the second major release in the Quantum series, which became generally available in November 2017 with Firefox 57. A core element of the Firefox Quantum browser series is performance, and that has been improved even more in Firefox 58, thanks to a capability called Off-Main-Thread-Painting (OMTP).

      • Plex VR, Firefox 58.0, SteamOS and More

        Firefox 58.0 was released yesterday, and Project Quantum continues to deliver performance gains. Read the release notes for more information on all the improvements.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.0 Will Launch with Many Design Improvements, Use Elementary Icons

      The major LibreOffice 6.0 release is coming next week, and The Document Foundation’s Mike Saunders talked with members of the community to get their perspectives on LibreOffice’s new design.

      While it won’t bring a massive redesign, as most users may have expected, LibreOffice 6.0 will include a few noteworthy design changes, including new table styles, new gradients, updated motif/splash screen, improved Notebookbars, menu and toolbar improvements, and the Elementary icons.

    • LibreOffice Gets “KDE 5″ Integration That’s A GTK3/KDE5 Hybrid

      It’s unfortunately too late for the upcoming LibreOffice 6.0 open-source office suite that was branched two weeks ago, but its next release will feature a KDE5 desktop back-end.

      Being merged today to LibreOffice mainline Git is a KDE5 back-end that is mostly the existing KDE4 back-end ported to using Qt5 and KDE Frameworks 5.

      Immediately following that commit was the GTK3_VC5 VCL plug-in. This code mostly displays the GTK3 version of the LibreOffice user-interface but replaces the file and folder picker with that of KDE’s KF5 dialogs.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Facebook Open Sources Detectron Object Detection

      The way big companies are open sourcing significant AI is both gratifying and slightly worrying. AI is the biggest revolution since we discovered fire and started making tools. FaceBook AI Research has added to the list of what is available by open sourcing its Detectron project.

    • Facebook open-sources object detection research

      Facebook’s artificial intelligence research (FAIR) team today announced it would open-source its object detection platform Detectron, as well as the research the team has done on it.

    • Facebook open-sources object detection work: Watch out, Google CAPTCHA

      acebook has brought us one step closer to a Skynet future made a commitment to computer vision boffinry by open-sourcing its codebase for object detection, Detectron.

      Written in Python and powered by the Caffe2 deep learning framework, the codebase – which implements object-sniffing algos such as Mask R-CNN and RetinaNet – is available under the Apache 2.0 licence.

    • Facebook Open-sources ‘Detectron’ Computer Vision Algorithm for AR Research
    • IKEA’s New ‘Open Source’ Sofa Is Designed to Be Hacked

      British designer Tom Dixon’s portfolio is an eclectic one, including everything from high-concept paperweights to masculine scented candles. But his recent collaboration with Swedish furniture retailer IKEA might be one of his most fascinating: the design of a modular sofa with seemingly endless combinations and configurations.

    • Quest Updates Toad Open Source Database Tools [Ed: ECT in the domain "Linux Insider" promotes proprietary software (which it describes wrongly). Marketing as 'news'.]

      Quest Software on Monday announced a series of updates to its Toad open source database software applications, including new versions of its Toad Edge, Toad Data Point and Toad Intelligence Central products.

      After launching the first version of Toad Edge last summer, the company began seeing an uptick in downloads of freeware that supported MySQL on its Toad World community site. It also received requests to support MariaDB and Postgres, according to Julie Hyman, senior product manager at Quest.

      “The customers are now champing at the bit for support of those additional platforms and we are delivering,” she told LinuxInsider.

      The company began supporting MariaDB last month. It will provide support for Postgres with a Toad World preview release in February and commercial availability by April or May.

    • The Emperor Has No Clothes: Recasting Leadership In The Open-Source Era

      Rajeev Peshawaria discusses his new book: Open Source Leadership: Reinventing Management When There’s No More Business as Usual.

  • Funding
    • Data Center Network Software Startup Cumulus Raises $43M

      Says it will use the money to expand outside the US, bring more Fortune 500 companies into the fold

    • MOSS Q4: Supporting the Python Ecosystem

      Mozilla was born out of, and remains a part of, the open source and free software movement. Through the Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) program, we recognize, celebrate, and support open source projects that contribute to our work and to the health of the Internet. That’s why in 2017 we invested $1,650,000 in supporting open source projects around the globe. Half a million of which we dispersed just since our last update in October.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Containers, the GPL, and copyleft: No reason for concern

      Though open source is thoroughly mainstream, new software technologies and old technologies that get newly popularized sometimes inspire hand-wringing about open source licenses. Most often the concern is about the GNU General Public License (GPL), and specifically the scope of its copyleft requirement, which is often described (somewhat misleadingly) as the GPL’s derivative work issue.

      One imperfect way of framing the question is whether GPL-licensed code, when combined in some sense with proprietary code, forms a single modified work such that the proprietary code could be interpreted as being subject to the terms of the GPL. While we haven’t yet seen much of that concern directed to Linux containers, we expect more questions to be raised as adoption of containers continues to grow. But it’s fairly straightforward to show that containers do not raise new or concerning GPL scope issues.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Meltdown And Spectre Processor Vulnerabilities: Is It Time To Revive Open Source Alternative?

        The beginning of the year 2018 brought new challenges in the form of Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities in most of the processor architectures. In layman terms, both of these vulnerabilities allow hackers to steal sensitive data like passwords. This vulnerability is applicable to Intel, AMD, and ARM. This means the problem is universal as it affects almost all devices ranging from embedded devices, smartphones, desktops, and servers to supercomputers.

      • When the canary breaks the coal mine

        Nobody likes it when kernels don’t work and even less so when they are broken on a Friday afternoon. Yet that’s what happened last Friday. This was particularly unsettling because at -rc8, the kernel is expected to be rock solid. An early reboot is particularly unsettling. Fortunately, the issue was at least bisected to a commit in the x86 tree. The bad commit changed code for an AMD specific feature but oddly the reboot was seen on non-AMD processors too.

        It’s easy to take debug logs for granted when you can get them. The kernel nominally has the ability for an ‘early’ printk but that still requires setup. If your kernel crashes before that, you need to start looking at other debug options (and your life choices). This was unfortunately one of those crashes. Standard x86 laptops don’t have a nice JTAG interface for hardware assisted debugging. Debugging this particular crash was not particularly feasible beyond changing code and seeing if it booted.

      • DIY Open-Source PantoProbe Precision Probe

        Electronics enthusiasts, hobbyists and makers looking for a handy tool to help you troubleshoot their latest project, may be interested in an open source PantoProb created by Kurt Schaefer. As you can see from the image above the open source probe requires a few 3D printed parts as well as some off-the-shelf hardware which is easily sourced. Kurt has also provided full instructions and a Github repo with all the necessary files to make your very own 3D printed testing probe. Check out the video below to learn more.

      • What the Apple 3D Printing Patents Mean for Our Industry

        Recently Apple has been granted a patent for a color 3D printing idea whereby the printed object is first made and then colored in afterwards. This idea is a straightforward one; using it one could print an object using FDM for example and then later color it with an inkjet print head. This method would play to both technologies’ strengths with FDM making for strong objects that are very dimensionally accurate but often suffer from poor surface quality. By having a separate print head then color in and, more importantly perhaps, strengthen and smooth over the object as well as add things such as conductivity, the resulting object would look nice as well. This could be a potential breakthrough in expanding 3D printing.

  • Programming/Development
    • ActiveState Announces Plans for SaaS Platform, Leads with Open Source Solution for DevSecOps

      ActiveState, a leader in providing commercial open source language distributions, announced today its plans for a SaaS Platform. The platform will fulfill enterprises’ unaddressed need for open source language solutions. The company leads the offering with the ability to verify open source Python applications at runtime; Python distros have security built into the language runtime. IT Security & DevSecOps teams benefit from automatic runtime verification.

    • Threading in Python

      The basic idea behind threading is a simple one: just as the computer can run more than one process at a time, so too can your process run more than one thread at a time. When you want your program to do something in the background, you can launch a new thread. The main thread continues to run in the foreground, allowing the program to do two (or more) things at once.

      What’s the difference between launching a new process and a new thread? A new process is completely independent of your existing process, giving you more stability (in that the processes cannot affect or corrupt one another) but also less flexibility (in that data cannot easily flow from one thread to another). Because multiple threads within a process share data, they can work with one another more closely and easily.

    • This Week in Rust 218

      Hello and welcome to another issue of This Week in Rust! Rust is a systems language pursuing the trifecta: safety, concurrency, and speed. This is a weekly summary of its progress and community. Want something mentioned? Tweet us at @ThisWeekInRust or send us a pull request. Want to get involved? We love contributions.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • Victory for libre networks: ActivityPub is now a W3C recommended standard

      I’m happy to announce that after three years of standardization work in the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Social Working Group, ActivityPub has finally been made an official W3C recommended standard. Hooray!

      ActivityPub is a protocol for building decentralized social networking applications. It provides both a server-to-server protocol (i.e. federation) and a client-to-server protocol (for desktop and mobile applications to connect to your server). You can use the server-to-server protocol or the client-to-server protocol on their own, but one nice feature is that the designs for both are very similar. Chances are, if you’ve implemented support for one, you can get support for the other with very little extra effort! We’ve worked hard to make ActivityPub easy to understand. If this is your first time reading about it, I recommend diving into the overview.

Leftovers
  • Frankenstein at 200 and why Mary Shelley was far more than the sum of her monster’s parts

    There, she records, the group was debating the arguments of poet and chemist Sir Humphry Davy and discussed “the nature of the principle of life, and whether there was any probability of its ever being discovered and communicated”.

  • Ursula K. Le Guin, legendary science fiction and fantasy author, is dead at 88
  • Naomi Parker Fraley, the Real Rosie the Riveter, Dies at 96

    For decades his poster remained all but forgotten. Then, in the early 1980s, a copy came to light — most likely from the National Archives in Washington. It quickly became a feminist symbol, and the name Rosie the Riveter was applied retrospectively to the woman it portrayed.

  • Meeting a Slow Doom
  • Science
    • You spend nearly a whole day each week on the [I]nternet

      Since 2000, our time spent online each week has steadily increased, rising from 9.4 hours to 23.6 hours — nearly an entire day, according to a recent report by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future. The internet has become an integral component of our home lives as well, with time spent rising more than 400 percent over that period from 3.3 hours to 17.6 hours each week, according to the report, which surveys more than 2,000 people across the US each year.

    • Benjamin Mako Hill: Introducing Computational Methods to Social Media Scientists

      The ubiquity of large-scale data and improvements in computational hardware and algorithms have provided enabled researchers to apply computational approaches to the study of human behavior. One of the richest contexts for this kind of work is social media datasets like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.

      We were invited by Jean Burgess, Alice Marwick, and Thomas Poell to write a chapter about computational methods for the Sage Handbook of Social Media. Rather than simply listing what sorts of computational research has been done with social media data, we decided to use the chapter to both introduce a few computational methods and to use those methods in order to analyze the field of social media research.

    • Scientific Theory And The Multiverse Madness

      Newton’s law of gravity — remember that? The force between two massive bodies decreases with the inverse square of the distance and so on?

      To use it, you need a constant, “Newton’s constant,” also called the “gravitational constant,” usually denoted G. You can determine G to reasonable accuracy with a few simple measurements.

      Once you have fixed the gravitational constant, you can apply Newton’s law to all kinds of different situations: falling apples, orbiting planets, launching rockets, etc. All with only one constant!

  • Hardware
    • iPhone Explodes After Man Bites It to Check If It’s Fake

      Smartphone battery explosions make the headlines every once in a while, but this is pretty much the first time one incident takes place after someone… bites the device.

      As weird as that might sound, that’s literally what happened in a Chinese pawn shop, where a potential iPhone buyer decided to check if the device was real just like he wanted to test a gold coin: by biting it.

      The CCTV footage shows the man checking what’s believed to be an iPhone before taking it close to his mouth, apparently to determine if it’s a clone or not. It takes just a couple of seconds before the device suffers a massive blow just next to the man’s face, with everyone around stepping away, including the woman next to the sales counter and who appears to be kind of groggy.

    • Imagination Announces The PowerVR Series8XT GT8540 GPU

      The PowerVR Series8XT GT8540 is the latest graphics processor from Imagination Technologies and is designed to drive up to six 4K screens at 60 FPS.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Breaking: WHO Members Set To Debate Transparency Of R&D Costs

      World Health Organization Executive Board members and observer countries today are preparing to discuss recommendations on ways to make medicines more accessible. This includes a new proposal to increase transparency in research and development costs that is reportedly causing concern among some developed countries.

    • Why marijuana retailers can’t use banks
    • Battle over legal marijuana: a monumental moment for states’ rights

      The decision by Sessions on Jan. 4 to rescind an Obama-era memo that allowed states to decide for themselves whether to legalize marijuana is in many ways a direct challenge to federalism. It also may hasten a showdown in Congress, which is under growing pressure to allow states alone to either regulate or prohibit the plant.

    • “PhoneGate:” French Study Finds 9 of 10 Cell Phones Exceed Safe Radiation Limits

      Under court order, the National Frequency Agency (ANFR) of France recently disclosed that nine out of ten cell phones exceed government radiation safety limits when tested in the way they are actually used, next to the body. As the Environmental Health Trust reported, French activists coined the term “PhoneGate” because of parallels to the Volkswagen emission scandal (referred to informally as “Dieselgate”) in which Volkswagen cars “passed” diesel emission tests in the lab, but actually had higher emissions when driven on real roads. In the same way, cell phones “passed” laboratory radiation tests when the “specific absorption rate” (SAR), which indicates how much radiation the body absorbs, was measured at a distance of 15mm (slightly more than half an inch). However, the way people actually carry and use cell phones (for example, tucked into a jeans pocket or bra, or held in contact with the ear) results in higher levels of absorbed radiation than found in lab tests.

    • Antimicrobial Benchmark For Industry Launched In Davos

      The Access to Medicines Foundation is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Kingdom, and the Dutch governments, she said, and the Antimicrobial Resistance Benchmark is supported by both the UK and the Dutch governments.

      The benchmark seeks to clarify the role of the pharmaceutical industry, she said, and what is expected from them in tackling the issue of growing resistance to antibiotics. Apart from developing new medicines and vaccines, the industry is also expected to manufacture antibiotics responsibly so that their factory waste water does not release antibiotics into the environment, and that products are promoted and distributed carefully so they are available but not overused.

    • Three New Draft Proposals At WHO: Access To Medicines, Assistive Technology

      Three new draft proposals at the World Health Organization Executive Board this week underline the importance of access and affordability, whether it is vaccines and medicines, including antivenoms, or assistive technology. The draft resolutions call on member states as well as the WHO secretariat to urgently take action to facilitate access to products and technologies at affordable prices.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Initial Retpoline Support Added To LLVM For Spectre v2 Mitigation

      The LLVM code has been merged to mainline for the Retpoline x86 mitigation technique for Spectre Variant 2. This will be back-ported to LLVM 6.0 and also LLVM 5.0 with an immediate point release expected to get this patched compiler out in the wild.

      The compiler-side work — similar to GCC’s Retpoline code — is to avoid generating code where an indirect branch could have its prediction poisoned by a rogue actor. The Retpoline support uses indirect calls in a non-speculatable way.

    • Teen Hacker Who Social Engineered His Way Into Top-Level US Government Officials’ Accounts Pleads Guilty To Ten Charges

      The teenage hacker who tore CIA director John Brennan a new AOL-hole is awaiting sentencing in the UK. Kane Gamble, the apparent founder of hacker collective Crackas With Attitude, was able to access classified documents Brennan has forwarded to his personal email account by posing as a Verizon tech. Social engineering is still the best hacking tool. It’s something anyone anywhere can do. If you do it well, a whole host of supposedly-secured information can be had, thanks to multiple entities relying on the same personal identifiers to “verify” the social engineer they’re talking to is the person who owns accounts they’re granting access to.

      Despite claiming he was motivated by American injustices perpetrated around the world (Palestine is namechecked in the teen’s multiple mini-manifestos), a lot of what Gamble participated in was plain, old fashioned harassment.

    • The Guardian view on cyberwar: an urgent problem [Ed: Lists several attacks by Microsoft Windows (but names neither)]

      The first known, and perhaps the most successful of these, was the joint US/Israeli Stuxnet attack on the Iranian nuclear programme in 2009. Since then there has been increasing evidence of attacks of this sort by Russia – against Estonia in 2009, and then against Ukraine, where tens of thousands of attacks on everything from power supplies to voting machines have opened an under-reported front in an under-reported war. Across the Baltic, the Swedish government has just announced a beefed-up programme of civil defence, of which the most substantial part will be an attempt to protect its software and networks from attacks. Meanwhile, North Korean state hackers are blamed by western intelligence services for the WannaCry ransomware attacks which last year shut down several NHS hospitals in the UK. Persistent reports suggest the US has interfered in this way with North Korea’s nuclear missile programme.

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #143
    • Don’t Install Meltdown And Spectre Patches, Intel Warns It Would Increase System Reebots
    • On that Spectre mitigations discussion

      By now, almost everybody has probably seen the press coverage of Linus Torvalds’s remarks about one of the patches addressing Spectre variant 2. Less noted, but much more informative, is David Woodhouse’s response on why those patches are the way they are.

    • GCab and CVE-2018-5345

      Just before Christmas I found a likely exploitable bug in the libgcab library. Various security teams have been busy with slightly more important issues, and so it’s taken a lot longer than usual to be verified and assigned a CVE. The issue I found was that libgcab attempted to read a large chunk into a small buffer, overwriting lots of interesting things past the end of the buffer. ALSR and SELinux saves us in nearly all cases, so it’s not the end of the world. Almost a textbook C buffer overflow (rust, yada, whatever) so it was easy to fix.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 79 – Skyfall: please don’t yell ‘fire’
    • Frequency, complexity of DDoS attacks rising: report

      The exploitation of IoT devices and innovation from DDoS attack services are leading to more frequent and complex attacks, according to a newly published infrastructure security report from application and network performance management company Netscout.

    • Hotmail user? You’re an insurance risk, says Admiral

      “We found that on comparison website GoCompare, Admiral charged a Hotmail driver £467.04 and a Gmail one £435.68 — £31.36 less,” the reporters said.

      Admiral admitted that it does use email domains as one variable in its risk estimation algorithm saying: “Certain domain names are associated with more accidents than others.”

    • These Tinder security flaws could let malicious hackers spy on your swipes, photos and matches

      Researchers at Tel Aviv-based security firm Checkmarx found that Tinder’s iOS and Android mobile apps still lack the standard HTTPS encryption.

    • Why is cryptocurrency open source? This paper from 1999 explains

      Cryptocurrency’s roots go back further than bitcoin. In fact, bitcoin was just the first cryptocurrency to use the blockchain rather than the first cryptocurrency ever.

      Other early cryptocurrencies include now venerable names like World of Warcraft (WoW) gold, a digital currency designed for use as a store of value and a transfer medium in the gaming universe of World of Warcraft. It used a proof-of-work mining algorithm in which users would engage with the WoW ecosystem via their computer’s graphical interface and complete various digital tasks to be rewarded with gold.

      As the fiat currency value of WoW gold increased, it attracted more miners without any corresponding difficulty adjustment, eventually leading to substantial inflation and a collapsing economy.

      Today’s cryptocurrencies seem to have learned from the problems of the past. For example, bitcoin and many others will adjust mining difficulty to prevent massive inflation when mining power increases.

      It’s no surprise that almost everything cryptocurrency, from the coins to the exchanges to the wallets, are built on open-source software. This paper from 1999 might be more relevant than ever, especially with a few wallets and coins still being partly or entirely closed source.

    • Dark Caracal: State-Sponsored Spyware for Rent

      Spyware has long been a privacy and security risk for personal computers and has been used by a number of groups—ranging from creeps who spy on and blackmail people through Remote Access Trojans, to marketers who want ever more data about you for targeted ads (such as through the Superfish malware we’ve seen preinstalled on some “big brands” computers), to government intelligence agencies.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • A National Defense Strategy of Sowing Global Chaos

      In the new U.S. National Defense Strategy, military planners bemoan the erosion of the U.S.’s “competitive edge,” but the reality is that they are strategizing to maintain the American Empire in a chaotic world, explains Nicolas J.S. Davies.

    • Mainstream Media and Imperial Power

      Noted journalist and filmmaker John Pilger’s collection of work has been archived by the British Library, but deep-rooted problems of Western media create an increasingly difficult landscape for ethical journalism, as Pilger explained in an interview with Dennis Bernstein and Randy Credico.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Pamela Anderson Is Calling Bullshit On Julian Assange Rape Allegations

      Pamela Anderson has described Julian Assange as a “genius” and claims the rape allegations made against him are likely part of a much wider conspiracy.

      The former Baywatch pin-up, who met with the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London this week, said she thinks the accusations were a “setup” aimed at extraditing him to the US.

    • Pamela Anderson calls Julian Assange a ‘genius’ as she slams rape claim against WikiLeaks founder as a ‘setup’

      Hollywood actress Pamela Anderson has described WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a ‘genius’ and called a rape allegation against him a ‘setup’ in an explosive BBC interview.

      The former Baywatch star, 50, who visited Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Monday, where he has been living since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, made an impassioned defense of the controversial computer programmer.

      She spoke of their close relationship in the interview on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on Tuesday, telling her: ‘I would rather be a friend to Julian than anybody.

    • Co-Head Of Virginia’s FOIA Council Introduces Bill To Make State’s Court System Even More Opaque

      It appears Sen. Stuart likes the power that comes with political office, but none of the obligations to the public that come with it. Stuart blamed scheduling conflicts for being unable to attend meetings that occur roughly every sixty days. He’s adding zero value to the Council and spends more of his time in the legislature actively thwarting it. It may be tough to remove Stuart from office, but there’s certainly no reason the FOIA Advisory Council needs to continue posting his name to its masthead and inviting him to meetings he just not going to attend.

    • Julian Assange’s health in ‘dangerous’ condition, say doctors

      Julian Assange’s long stay in the Ecuadorian embassy in London is having a “dangerous” impact on his physical and mental health, according to clinicians who carried out the most recent assessments of him.

      The pair renewed calls for the WikiLeaks publisher to be granted safe passage to a London hospital.

      Sondra Crosby, a doctor and associate professor at the Boston University’s school of medicine and public health, and Brock Chisholm, a London-based consultant clinical psychologist, examined Assange for 20 hours over three days in October.

      In an article for the Guardian, they wrote: “While the results of the evaluation are protected by doctor-patient confidentiality, it is our professional opinion that his continued confinement is dangerous physically and mentally to him and a clear infringement of his human right to healthcare.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Job of the future: Wind farmer

      Most people who work over 30 stories up do so in the safe confines of a skyscraper. Meredith Halfpenny, however, can feel the breeze in her hair from the top of a wind turbine.

      By her own estimation, Halfpenny has helped build around 400 turbines and made more than 1,200 trips up and down their giant towers. And she finds herself in what can aptly be described as a job of the future: her skills are in high demand both where she works in Ontario, Canada, and south of the border, where in 2017 the US Bureau of Labor Statistics said it expected wind turbine technicians to represent the second-fastest-growing occupation in America, more than doubling in overall number of employees through 2026 (number one was solar-panel installer).

  • Finance
    • Twitter’s number two Anthony Noto takes flight

      Anthony Noto, Twitter’s chief operating officer, will take control of loan company SoFi on March 1.

    • Twitter’s No. 2 Resigns to Become Chief Executive of SoFi

      Twitter hired Noto, 49, as CFO in 2014 with a stock award worth more than $60 million, following a career in banking at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., where he helped Twitter go public. He served as the social-media company’s finance head before taking over as chief operating officer in 2016. Noto has played a leading role in directing the company’s product vision, especially in shaping the platform’s future around live video streaming.

    • FT: Qualcomm facing potential $2B EU fine over Apple
    • Huggies’ owner Kimberly-Clark to slash 5,000 jobs, close 10 factories

      Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Huggies diapers and Kleenex tissues, announced Tuesday it will cut about 13 percent of its workforce globally, or at least 5,000 jobs, in a bid to reduce costs as sales wane.

      The company plans to shutter or sell 10 of its 91 production factories worldwide.

      In all, it is anticipating more than $2 billion in cost cuts by 2021. About $1.5 billion will come from reducing costs within its business. An added $500 million to $550 million will come from the efforts to streamline its manufacturing supply chain and overhead.

    • Dallas County Violates People’s Rights by Keeping Them in Jail for Being Poor

      Shannon Daves is a 47-year-old transgender woman who has been homeless in Dallas County, Texas, since last August. On January 17, she was arrested for an alleged misdemeanor and taken to the county jail. Hours later, she was brought before a judge who told her she could go home — but only if she paid $500 bail. She could not afford that amount, so she had to go back to jail.

      Shannon is a victim of Dallas County’s money bail system, which uses wealth to decide who stays locked up. That’s illegal. The constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process prohibit people from being jailed simply because they cannot afford a monetary payment. But the judge did not even ask Shannon if she could afford her release, and instead followed Dallas County’s bail schedule, a document that automatically sets money bail amounts according to the charged offense.

      The jail is transparent about the fact that it values money over civil rights. It maintains an ATM for people to get cash to post their bail. Shannon didn’t have the money, and because she is transgender, the county put her in solitary confinement. For days she was isolated in a cramped cell 24 hours a day and denied contact with other people.

      As Shannon told us, “I never know what time of day it is, or when meal time will be.” Tragically, her story is common throughout Texas and the nation.

    • Newly Defanged, Top Consumer Protection Agency Drops Investigation of High-Cost Lender

      In 2013, ProPublica published an investigation of the subprime lender World Finance. World was charging annual interest rates that could exceed 200 percent, often trapping customers in cycles of debt by enticing them to renew the loans over and over. In states where laws barred such high rates, the installment lender loaded many loans with nearly useless insurance products that bloated the cost. The company boasted over 800,000 customers, part of an installment loan industry that claimed to loan to millions.

      The following year, World disclosed that it was under investigation by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB, the brainchild of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, and under the leadership of Richard Cordray, the agency took action against credit card lenders, mortgage servicers, payday lenders and others for unfair practices against consumers.

      But after Cordray left last November, President Donald Trump installed Office of Management and Budget head Mick Mulvaney as acting director. To say that Mulvaney has been a critic of the CFPB is a vast understatement. In a 2014 interview given when he was still a Republican congressman, Mulvaney said of the CFPB, “some of us would like to get rid of it” and called it “a joke … in a sick, sad kind of way.”

    • Trump NLRB Appointee Finds a Way Around Conflict of Interest Rules

      A Trump administration appointee to the National Labor Relations Board benefited the interests and clients of his former law firm when he cast the deciding vote to undo rules protecting workers’ rights in two cases last month.

      The decisions, which were both resolved 3-to-2, are instances of what some former NLRB members describe as a side-door means of evading government ethics requirements — a way to do indirectly what conflict of interest rules prevent the appointee from doing directly.

      William Emanuel, who joined the NLRB in September, has recused himself from involvement in more than four dozen cases involving the firm he left to join the labor board. That firm, Littler Mendelson, is known for representing corporations in labor disputes. Littler was not representing any parties in the disputes that Emanuel helped resolve in December.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Voucher schools are teaching kids what can only be described as right-wing propaganda

      In the latest episode of the Have You Heard podcast, AlterNet education contributor Jennifer Berkshire and co-host Jack Schneider talk to Klein about the extreme ideological teachings on offer at private religious schools, now being funded by public tax money.

      The following is an edited transcript.

    • Social scientists have warned Zuck all along that the Facebook theory of interaction would make people angry and miserable

      Since the earliest days of Facebook, social scientists have sent up warnings saying that the ability to maintain separate “contexts” (where you reveal different aspects of yourself to different people) was key to creating and maintaining meaningful relationships, but Mark Zuckerberg ignored this advice, insisting that everyone be identified only by their real names and present a single identity to everyone in their lives, because anything else was “two-faced.”

    • The secret history of Facebook depression

      To early users, the [I]nternet held such promise for people and communities. Now, on the eve of Facebook’s 15th birthday, social media is making people depressed. What happened?

    • I’m Too Hot for Instagram

      As for why the account was blocked … Stormy’s rep tells TMZ there was no evidence of profanity or nudity. In fact, the rep says the account was laced with inspirational quotes and professional photos, fully clothed.

    • Facebook Accepts That Sometimes It Can Be A Threat To Democracy

      In the 2016 US elections, social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and others played a big part in shaping the public opinion. Initially, Mark Zuckerberg refused to accept the fact that Facebook might have played a big–direct as well as indirect–role in amplifying the noise insides “echo chambers.” However, with time, the $400 billion social networking company has learned to soften its approach.

    • Why Facebook’s survey about trust won’t make or break the media
    • Mark Zuckerberg’s answer to ‘fake news’ is this garbage 2-question survey

      On Tuesday, just four days after the Facebook CEO announced his intention to revamp the News Feed in favor of “high quality content,” we were gifted a sneak peek at the means by which he will deliver us from the scourge of so-called fake news.

      It takes the form of a survey, and, sadly, we regret to inform you that things aren’t looking so good.

    • WaPo Editor Blames Lack of US Leadership for Famine Caused by US Leadership

      “American leadership” is one of a long list of vague, seemingly benign pseudo-concepts our media throw around to justify increased spending on soft power and military adventurism. It’s a difficult concept to pin down, but it’s almost always presented as something the United States is “failing” to do when it doesn’t “engage” the world with enough war, sanctions or arbitrarily applied human rights scolding.

      Lamenting a “lack of American leadership” is, therefore, a time-honored Serious Person cliche for those operating at major US papers, and one Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Jackson Diehl phoned in Sunday with his op-ed “Genocide, Famine and a Democratic Retreat—All After One Year of US Inaction” (1/21/17).

    • Pope says fake news is satanic, condemns use in politics

      Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned fake news as satanic, saying journalists and social media users should shun and unmask manipulative “snake tactics” that foment division to serve political and economic interests.

      “Fake news is a sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes, and leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred. That is the end result of untruth,” Francis said in the first document by a pope on the subject.

      The document was issued after months of debate on how much fake news may have influenced the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and the election of President Donald Trump.

      “Spreading fake news can serve to advance specific goals, influence political decisions, and serve economic interests,” the pope wrote, condemning the “manipulative use of social networks” and other forms of communication.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Psychiatrist Bitterly Drops Defamation Lawsuit Against Redditors

      Dr. Douglas Berger, an American psychiatrist offering services to ex-pats in Japan, recently sued a bunch of Redditors for telling other Redditors to steer clear of his services. Berger’s lawsuit was exhaustive, covering several months of disparaging comments delivered by Redditors, but much of what Berger considered libel fell under the category of “protected opinion.”

      Berger’s ultimate goal appeared to be a revamp of his Google search results. Sitting ahead of multiple URLs linked to Berger and his Japanese business (many which appear to be owned by Berger himself) were links to multiple Reddit threads with unhelpful (for Berger anyway…) titles like “Stay away from ‘psychiatrist’ Doug Berger.” In these threads, Berger was accused of everything from a lack of attentiveness during sessions to harassment to dodging income taxes.

    • Italian Government Criminalizes ‘Fake News,’ Provides Direct Reporting Line To State Police Force

      No one knows how to handle “fake news.” Rather than step back and see what light-touch approaches might work, governments all over the world are rushing forward with bad ideas that harm speech and threaten journalism. No one seems to be immune to the “do something” infection and everything proposed is just another way to give governments more direct control of social media platforms and news outlets.

      In Italy, the government control of speech under the guide of “fake news” deterrence is being done in the worst way possible. It’s not being handed to a regulatory body with instructions to sort of keep an eye on things. Instead, as Poynter reports, it’s rolling out as a heckler’s veto backed by armed officers.

    • YouTube is asking its promoted artists not to insult the company

      The report states the campaign’s purpose is to help YouTube build a bridge with the music industry, and that non-disparagement clauses are a safeguard to keep these artists from saying negative things about the company. They also say the agreements apply to partners who make original series for its paid service and “go beyond a requirement not to criticize the video site.” What exactly that means is not explained.

    • Former South Korean Culture Minister Jailed Over Censorship Scandal

      Cho Yoon-sun will serve two years in prison for conspiring in a government-endorsed blacklisting of artists, including the likes of ‘Oldboy’ helmer Park Chan-wook.

      South Korea’s former culture minister, Cho Yoon-sun, has been sentenced to two years in jail for conspiring in a state-sponsored blacklisting of local artists and entertainment figures who did not support the country’s ousted ex-president, Park Geun-hye.

      Cho had previously been cleared of involvement in the censorship scandal and was given a one-year suspended sentence for perjury. An appeals court in Seoul on Tuesday reviewed the case and found further evidence in documents from the Presidential Blue House. Cho was arrested in court and taken into immediate custody.

    • Sir Anthony Beevor slams Ukraine’s ‘preposterous’ ban on Stalingrad book

      Military historian Sir Anthony Beevor is urging politicians to fight censorship after one of his books was banned in Ukraine.

      The 1998 bestseller Stalingrad was barred for import last week alongside 24 other books for being “anti-Ukrainian”. The accusation was levelled at Beevor’s examination of the Second World War battle due to passages about Ukrainian militias slaughtering Jewish children on SS orders.

    • Zionist Censorship on Facebook

      Facebook has refused to carry an advert for my book of early collected works, Zionism is Bullshit. At first it refused the ad on grounds of “profanity”. I then removed the title of the book from the advert (though it might still be dimly discerned on a small photo if you squint) and resubmitted, but approval was denied again. I then appealed, and this time the ad was refused because it “denigrates the religious views of others”. The text was standard book blurb and in no way did that.

    • CEM will Check if There is Censorship and Pressure in the Bulgarian National Television

      The Council for Electronic Media will make monitoring and find out whether there is pluralism in BNT, bnr.bg reported.

      The decision was taken at today’s meeting. For this purpose, a review of the month-to-month discussions will take place to see if there is a balance in the guests’ invitation and themes.

      Yesterday, the hosts and producers of “The Day Starts With Culture” complained about the pressure from the program director Emil Koshlukov as to who they are inviting and what questions they ask. He explained that he had made them work more for higher ratings and met resistance.

    • Where you can stick your censorship!

      Thanks to the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Centre), any music deemed “inappropriate” was labelled as so, censoring free speech across all music platforms. Back then the only way to get your musical fix was through vinyl or radio but the internet makes everything available to everyone – so why do people still care about music censorship? Why are people even bothering to censor music anymore?

      [...]

      Broadcasters in the UK and US of course still have their own guidelines – BBC radio stations are owned by the government so a lot of their decisions are down to what is appropriate, which of course means they will never play anything that goes against the government, their decisions or basically any song which has a strong political message. For examples, read more here

    • China’s Solution To The VPN Quandary: Only Authorized, And Presumably Backdoored, Crypto Links Allowed

      Two of the most important developments in China’s clampdown on the digital world took place last year, when the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology declared that all VPN providers needed prior government approval to operate, and then apps stores were forced to remove the many VPNs on offer there. In some parts of China, VPNs were banned completely, but such a total shutdown is not really an option for cities with many businesses that require secure overseas communication channels. That put the Chinese authorities in something of a quandary: how could they reconcile their desire to prevent VPNs being used to circumvent online controls, while ensuring that the country’s increasingly important corporate sector had access to the encryption tools it needed for operating globally? An article in the FT provides us with the answer (paywall).

    • Davos’ economic dilemma: protectionism and tech censorship

      It’s the most wonderful time of the (economic) year when the world’s top politicians and economists gather in the snowy Swiss town of Davos.

      This year, the World Economic Forum at Davos kicked off with a speech by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with more politicians set to speak at the event – perhaps most interestingly of whom will be US President Donald Trump who is likely to counter everyone else’s views on global trade.

    • Professor accuses Google of censorship: ‘It was political’

      A University of Toronto professor, whose online accounts were briefly shutdown in January, is accusing Google (GOOG) and YouTube of censoring him because of his conservative beliefs.

    • ECJ should rule against Austrian online censorship lawsuit

      A former politician in Austria wants to censor what people around the world read about her on social media.

      Having already won an injunction against Facebook regarding posts that insulted her, former Green Party leader Eva Glawischnig is now appealing for the courts to compel Facebook to seek out and delete similar posts across its entire global platform.

    • ‘The Post’ Gets Good Reviews After Lebanon Reverses Ban
    • Cinema, press, and ‘normalization’ with Israel: censorship in Lebanon under fire
    • Attempt to ban Spielberg film raises liberals’ fears in Lebanon
    • Russia Cancels ‘Death of Stalin’ Movie Release But Denies It’s Censorship
    • Russia nixes release of Stalin satire film starring Steve Buscemi and Jason Issacs
    • Is a Nondisclosure Agreement Silencing You From Sharing Your ‘Me Too’ Story? 4 Reasons It Might Be Illegal

      The #MeToo movement has freed women, many of whom have kept silent about sexual harassment or assault, to tell their stories. Finally, survivors’ voices are being heard. But there are still many survivors who don’t feel free to share their stories because they have signed nondisclosure agreements.

      Nondisclosure agreements, or NDAs, are provisions frequently included in settlement agreements that prohibit survivors of sexual harassment or assault from publicly discussing both the settlement and what happened to them. Many women fear legal liability if they violate the terms of their agreements.

    • ‘Me Too,’ Chinese Women Say. Not So Fast, Say the Censors.

      They call themselves “silence breakers,” circulate petitions demanding investigations into sexual harassment and share internet memes like clenched fists with painted nails.

      But Chinese women are finding it difficult to organize a far-reaching #MeToo movement, going up against not just a male-dominated culture but also the ruling Communist Party itself.

      Government censors, apparently fearing social unrest, are trying to hobble the campaign, blocking the use of phrases like “anti-sexual harassment” on social media and deleting online petitions calling for greater protections for women. And officials have warned some activists against speaking out, suggesting that they may be seen as traitors colluding with foreigners if they persist.

      “So many sincere and eager voices are being muted,” said Zhang Leilei, 24, an activist in the southern city of Guangzhou who has helped circulate dozens of petitions among college students. “We are angry and shocked.”

    • Censorship ban queried

      The Ban imposed on some songs and certain artists by the Censorship Board of PNG may have to be reconsidered, says Anna Solomon, Secretary, Department for Community Devt and religion.

      Secretary Solomon and the Minister for Youth Religion and Community Development, Soroi Eoe, believe that there should be another way of addressing issues involving artists and music.

      Referring to the controversial video capturing a band member of Wild Pack band physically assaulting another musician, Ragga Siai, Secretary Solomon said one person’s action shouldn’t affect the livelihood of others.

    • In Lebanon, the military sends out an aggressive message about censorship

      Last week, Lebanon’s military tribunal sentenced Hanin Ghaddar, a Lebanese journalist working at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, to six months in prison, in absentia. Ms Ghaddar was accused of “insulting” the Lebanese army, because at a panel discussion in 2014, she had said that the army was clamping down on Lebanese Sunnis, thereby “creating injustice.”

      The decision was remarkable for two reasons. The military tribunal’s decision to condemn Ms Ghaddar for statements made abroad sent a worrisome message that Lebanese citizens could be pursued legally wherever they might be, for whatever they might say that displeased the state. Rarely has the military sought to engage in such a broad interpretation of its censorship power.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • General Data Protection Regulation: A Checklist to Compliance

      The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is perhaps the most sweeping data privacy law in history. Within its nearly 100 articles, it outlines new requirements for organizations that have access to the personal information of European Union (EU) citizens, giving average consumers far more power over how their data is used.

      Failure to comply will mean heavy fines of approximately $24 million (€20 million), or 4% of a company’s global annual revenue — whichever is greater.

    • Summary: Jewel v. NSA and the Accidental Deletion of Surveillance Data

      The National Security Agency made headlines last week when Politico reported that the agency had made a court filing informing a federal judge that it had accidentally deleted data related to ongoing litigation—Jewel v. NSA—in violation of a court order. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the NSA in Jewel on behalf of AT&T customers in 2008. EFF alleges that certain NSA surveillance programs authorized under the Bush administration, including those targeting the contents of communication and those related to the collection of metadata, were unconstitutional. In March 2014, a federal judge in northern California issued a temporary restraining order in that case, requiring the NSA to preserve evidence related to the case.

    • NSA Deletes “Honesty” and “Openness” From Core Values

      The National Security Agency maintains a page on its website that outlines its mission statement. But earlier this month, the agency made a discreet change: It removed “honesty” as its top priority.

      Since at least May 2016, the surveillance agency had featured honesty as the first of four “core values” listed on NSA.gov, alongside “respect for the law,” “integrity,” and “transparency.” The agency vowed on the site to “be truthful with each other.”

    • NSA Unlikely to Be Held Accountable for Violating Court Order to Preserve Data

      The US federal legal system will continue to protect the National Security Agency (NSA) from any penalties or other consequences even though it defied a court order to preserve data, analysts told Sputnik.

      The NSA destroyed surveillance data it pledged to preserve in connection with pending lawsuits and appeared not to have taken some of the steps it told a federal court it had taken to make sure the information was not destroyed, Politico reported last week.

    • Amazon’s cloud business acquires Sqrrl, a security start-up with NSA roots

      Sqrrl’s team and underlying technology tie back to the NSA. In 2011, the agency open-sourced database software called Accumulo, and in 2012, “a group of the core creators, committers and contributors” of Accumulo founded Sqrrl, according to the start-up’s website. Sqrrl, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, raised capital from Spring Lake Equity Partners, Matrix Partners, Rally Ventures and Accomplice.

    • Amazon Web Services catches Sqrrl, a security startup founded by ex-NSA staffers

      Cloud security is going to be an even more important topic this year than ever, thanks to the Meltdown and Spectre debacle, and Amazon Web Services bolstered its security story Tuesday with the acquisition of Sqrrl.

    • Amazon scoops up Cambridge security startup with NSA roots
    • We Are Removing Our South Korea Presence

      On the 21st January 2018 at 6.15pm Pacific Time, Private Internet Access was alerted by close contacts in South Korea that law enforcement would be seeking to mirror our servers tomorrow, 24th of January 2018, at 10:00 A.M without due process. Upon learning this information, we decided to remove and wipe the South Korea region from our network immediately.

      Since we do not log any traffic or session data, period, no data has been compromised. Our users are, and will always be, private and secure.

    • Facebook to roll out new tools in response to EU privacy laws

      Facebook will roll out a new set of tools aimed at making it easier for users to make informed choices about their privacy in response to sweeping new European privacy laws, according to the company’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg.

    • U.S. Congress Reauthorized Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

      On January 16, the United States Senate passed a six-year reauthorization of a controversial surveillance program.

      Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), first passed in 2008, allows the U.S. government to collect data, like text messages and e-mails, on foreign intelligence targets outside the United States without obtaining a warrant. It also lets the government collect the communications of foreigners from U.S. companies, like Google and Facebook, even if the person is speaking with an American.

    • Commentary: Why the FISA Act Isn’t the Privacy-Stealing Monster Some Think It Is

      Last year brought news both good and bad in the fight against terrorism. On the positive side, the Islamic State’s brutal “caliphate” has virtually collapsed under a U.S.-led military campaign, and large parts of Iraq and Syria are free of its tyranny. At the same time, terrorist attacks in New York City and in Europe reminded all that the terrorist threat to the United States and its allies persists.

      Mindful of recent victories and enduring challenges, Congress last week reauthorized one of the U.S. government’s most important intelligence tools in the fight against terrorism. Section 702 is on its face as obscure as it sounds—a recent addition to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. In practice, it allows the government to collect the electronic communications of non-Americans located overseas if they are involved in terrorism or other activities affecting U.S. security. By reauthorizing Section 702, and by adding additional limits on how the law can be used, Congress moved to keep the nation safe while protecting Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.

    • How US vote to extend NSA program could expose journalists to surveillance

      The U.S. Senate last week approved a six-year extension to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act (FISA), in a move that could put journalists at risk. Because people targeted by Section 702 are often of interest to the press as well as the NSA, journalists are more likely than most to have their communications inadvertently collected under the act.

    • Facebook buys Boston software company that authenticates IDs

      Facebook Inc (FB.O) is buying a software firm that specializes in authenticating government-issued identification cards, the two companies said on Tuesday, a step that may help the social media company learn more about the people who buy ads on its network.

    • Facebook bought a software company that authenticates government-issued ID cards

      Confirm, which says on its website that it has more than 750 clients, will wind down its operations and its employees will join Facebook in Boston, the source said.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Sweden demands answers from China over detained book publisher

      Gui, 53, was seized by plainclothes police officers while aboard a Beijing-bound train on Saturday, according to his daughter Angela. The incident occurred in front of diplomats who were accompanying him for a medical examination at the Swedish embassy.

    • Tenants Can Get Evicted for Calling the Police Across New York and Much of the Country

      So-called “nuisance ordinances” create a perverse incentive not to report crime and endanger domestic violence victims.

      The second time that Laurie Grape called the police during an attack by her then-boyfriend, they told her that a third call would get her evicted. Under a local law in East Rochester, New York, three police responses to the same property within a 12-month period were once grounds for a person to be kicked out of her home. The next time her ex-boyfriend attacked her, Laurie decided to stay silent rather than risk eviction.

      Laurie, however, didn’t stay silent for long. In 2010, Grape and another domestic violence survivor settled a lawsuit against East Rochester, resulting in the village changing its so-called “nuisance abatement” law. Unfortunately, similarly harmful ordinances continue to be in force across the state of New York.

      Today, a coalition of rights groups called on 11 of these municipalities to repeal their nuisance laws. The New York Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, the Empire Justice Center, and the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence sent letters emphasizing that repeal is necessary because these ordinances violate people’s constitutional and civil rights and undermine community safety.

    • Manhattan District Attorney Says He’ll No Longer Accept Contributions From Lawyers With Cases Before Him

      The district attorney also will not solicit contributions personally and will have his campaign shield him from the identities of his donors. Candidates for judgeships in New York state follow similar guidelines.

      In October, ProPublica, WNYC and The New Yorker reported that Vance had overruled prosecutors who wanted to bring felony fraud charges against two of the president’s children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. The office had been investigating the two for making misleading statements as their father’s company attempted to sell apartments in a struggling condominium and hotel in downtown Manhattan called the Trump SoHo.

      During the investigation, in 2012, Vance met with Donald Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz. Kasowitz had donated $25,000 to Vance for his first re-election campaign. Vance returned the donation before the meeting. Then he declined to prosecute anyone in connection with the investigation. A few months later, Vance accepted more than $50,000 from Kasowitz and lawyers at his New York firm, Kasowitz Benson. Vance, in comments to ProPublica at the time, denied that Kasowitz influenced his decisions, but announced that he would return the second donation from the lawyer.

      In a second report, The New Yorker wrote that Vance’s office had declined to bring charges against Harvey Weinstein, after an Italian model went to the police with an allegation that the film producer had groped her. Attorneys associated with that case also donated to Vance.

    • Thatcher – and Many Still Active Tories – Did Support Apartheid

      Tories who actively supported apartheid are still very influential in the Tory party, notably the St Andrews Federation of Conservative Students originating group, including Michael Forsyth. Even David Cameron’s contacts with South Africa in this period are a very murky part of his cv. It is important the Tories are not allowed off the hook on this. The moral taint should rightly be with them for generations.

    • ‘How Can the UN Take on Issues of Justice When They Can’t Hold Themselves Accountable?’

      Janine Jackson: Donald Trump’s vituperative language was his own, as he lamented the presence of Haitians in the United States, including the 60,000 whose temporary protected status he was ending. But when CBS News described Haiti as “a shamble, made worse by a corrupt government,” or the Washington Post declared its “chronic instability rivals its profound poverty as a source of suffering,” they were likewise reflecting a particular story US elites tell about Haiti and its relationship to the US.

      Journalists like Jonathan M. Katz at the Washington Post and Amy Wilentz at The Nation noted the galling absence of basic history from public conversation, the decades of repeated invasions, occupations and exploitation and a special animus towards a country where former slaves gained independence.

      It’s been said that Haiti needs new narratives. The prevalent one, that says the country is inherently chaotic and corrupt, and the US and UN are just helpers doing their best, could be upended by simply steadier, contextualized reporting on events.

    • ProPublica, Audible Present ‘The Making of a Massacre’ Event Remembering Casualties of the Drug War

      Along with National Geographic and the Washington Office on Latin America, the event will feature the relatives of those killed in a deadly assault on a Mexican town triggered by a botched U.S. drug operation. The event will also preview an Audible original series that tells the story through the voices of those left behind.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • AT&T’s Bogus ‘Internet Bill Of Rights’ Aims To Undermine Net Neutrality, Foist Regulation Upon Silicon Valley Competitors

      As we’ve been warning for a while, the next phase in the war on net neutrality for giant ISPs is pushing a new “net neutrality law” in name only. ISPs are nervous that the FCC’s net neutrality repeal won’t survive a court challenge due to the numerous instances of fraud and other procedural gaffes. As such, they’ve convinced blindly-loyal lawmakers like Marsha Blackburn to push fake net neutrality legislation whose entire purpose is to prevent the FCC’s 2015 rules from being restored, or real, tough rules from being passed later.

      These proposed “solutions” ban behaviors ISPs had no intention of doing (like the ham-fisted blocking of websites), but avoid addressing any of the numerous areas where net neutrality violations now occur, from usage caps, overage fees and zero rating, to interconnection shenanigans designed to drive up costs for streaming video competitors like Netflix. But with Democrats hoping to use net neutrality as a wedge issue in the coming midterms (and pushing for a repeal reversal via the CRA), these bogus solutions haven’t seen much traction outside of paid editorial support by telecom lobbyists.

    • ITU: 4 Of 5 People In LDCs Can Access Mobile Networks, But Are Not Using Internet

      A new report by the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) shows “great strides” in mobile phone penetration in least-developed countries. However, those countries are well behind developed countries when it comes to internet usage.

      The ITU thematic report, link here, on achieving universal and affordable internet in least-developed countries (LDCs) found that more than four out of five people in LDCs have access to a mobile-cellular network.

    • Netflix once loved talking about net neutrality – so why has it suddenly gone quiet?

      “Netflix’s fortress is so strong now that net neutrality has become background noise for them,” said GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives.

    • A Perfect Storm Of Comcast Unaccountability Is Brewing

      If you’ve been napping, Comcast lobbyists recently convinced the government to kill net neutrality rules, dismantle broadband privacy protections, and bury efforts to make the cable box market more competitive. And they’re just getting warmed up. Comcast lobbyists have also successfully convinced the Trump administration to eliminate nearly all state and federal oversight of large telecom monopolies. Should they be successful, consumers and innovators will face a massive new era of little to no accountability for one of the most despised, least-competitive business sectors in America.

      This new wave of regulatory capture comes at an inopportune time for American consumers and the nation’s startups. Comcast was already facing less broadband competition than ever in many markets thanks to incumbent telcos effectively giving up on upgrading millions of aging DSL lines. With neither government oversight nor healthy competition present to keep Comcast in check, the company’s awful customer service has become legend, and the rise of arbitrary, unnecessary fees and usage caps have become the norm.

      As an added bonus for Comcast, the conditions applied to the company’s 2011 merger with NBC just expired over the weekend, raising additional concerns about the potential impact of an unshackled Comcast on the emerging streaming video market. Those conditions prohibited Comcast from charging streaming competitors unfair rates, or from meddling in Hulu management to prevent disruption of Comcast’s own services. They also required Comcast adhere to some aspects of the FCC’s 2010 net neutrality rules, even if they were dismantled in court (they were).

    • Montana Says It Won’t Do Business With Net Neutrality Violating ISPs

      In the wake of the federal repeal of net neutrality rules, numerous states have responded by proposing their own net neutrality rules that either mirror the FCC’s discarded rules, or impose new restrictions on net neutrality violating ISPs trying to secure state telecom contracts. New York, Massachusetts, Washington and California are among a dozen states considering their own rules. These efforts come despite the fact that Comcast and Verizon successfully lobbied the FCC to include provisions trying to ban states from protecting consumers in the wake of federal apathy on the subject.

    • Montana Governor Signs Order to Force Net Neutrality

      Mr. Bullock, a Democrat, said the executive order was the fastest and surest way to bring back net neutrality rules and to head off any decisions by internet service providers to begin throttling or charging websites more to reach consumers.

  • DRM
    • diff -u: in-Kernel DRM Support

      Recently there’s been an effort to add support for digital rights management (DRM) into the Linux kernel. The goal of DRM is to prevent users from making copies of music, video and other media that they watch on their own computers, but it also poses fundamental questions about the nature and fate of general-purpose computers.

    • Unlocked PS4 consoles can now run copies of PS2 games

      Hackers seem close to publicly unlocking the Nintendo Switch
      After years of work, hackers have finally managed to unlock the PS4 hardware with an exploit that lets the system run homebrew and pirated PS4 software. In a somewhat more surprising discovery, those hackers have also unlocked the ability to run many PS2 games directly on the console, using the same system-level emulation that powers legitimate PlayStation Classics downloads.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Tax Change Aims to Lure Intellectual Property Back to the U.S.

      U.S. companies rich in intellectual property are looking at a new tax-friendly regime: the U.S.

    • Protecting intellectual property rights in the billion-dollar world of virtual gaming

      Patent protection of this sort will be extremely vital in the esports-VR space as the filings of patent applications for VR technology drastically increase. Just last year, more than 30,000 patent applications were filed directed specifically to VR-related technologies. Although patent law does not protect abstract concepts that may be implicated in a virtual gaming universe, filing appropriate patent applications to protect new technology implementations in the space can and should be done.

    • Trademarks
      • Examining Army’s Potential Case Against Vegas NHL Team for ‘Golden Knights’ Trademark

        Do you suspect that the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the United States Army might have some sort of affiliation?

        This question lies at the heart of a notice of opposition filed Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Army in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (a.k.a. the USPTO, the government agency that administers the national trademark registry). Among other points, the Army stresses that the U.S. Army Parachute Team, which over the last 55 years has performed in more than 16,000 shows, has long been nicknamed the Golden Knights—quite unlike the expansion NHL team that adopted the name only 14 months ago. And, for sports and entertainment purposes, the Army has for decades used a color scheme similar to that now employed by said NHL team.

      • US Army Files Dumb Trademark Opposition Against The NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights

        This post will come as no surprise to those of us super-interesting people that for some reason have made trademark law and news a key fulcrom point in our lives, but the United States Army has filed an opposition to the trademark application for the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Some background is in order should you not be one of the roughly twelve of us in America that are hockey fans.

        Starting around 2007, the United States Army went on something of a trademarking spree, filing for marks long in use, including some of the monikers for well known units and/or what I would call “show units”, or units that chiefly serve to be seen at entertainment venues such as air and water shows. Included in these marks were the Army’s “Black Knights” mascot for its military academy athletic teams and its Golden Knights paratrooping unit that performs at air and water shows all over the country. The army uses these trademarks to rake in millions of dollars in merchandise.

        The Las Vegas Golden Knights is an NHL expansion hockey team started by a graduate of West Point, Bill Foley, who wanted the team’s garb and name to serve as an homage to his military roots. To that end, he had initially wanted to name the team “The Black Knights”, but switched to “The Golden Knights” after the Army voiced its displeasure. The color scheme for the team is a clear call back to the paratrooping team that shares the name.

    • Copyrights
      • Could Platform Safe Harbors Save the NAFTA Talks?

        As the sixth round of talks over a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) kicks off in Montreal, Canada, this week, EFF has joined with 15 other organizations and 39 academic experts to send the negotiators an open letter [PDF] about the importance of platform safe harbor rules, a topic that has been proposed for the deal’s Digital Trade chapter. The proposed rules, which are based on S47 U.S.C. section 230, a provision of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA 230″), would require that Internet intermediaries—whether giants like Facebook, or just your neighbour with an open Wi-Fi hotspot—can’t be held liable for most speech of their users.

      • NAFTA Negotiations Heat Up Copyright “Safe Harbor” Clash

        To what degree should Internet services be shielded from liability for the copyright infringements of their users? With the NAFTA negotiations underway this has become a hot topic once again. Content industry groups believe that these safe harbors should be tightened, while Internet law experts and advocacy groups want to expand US-style safe harbors to Mexico and Canada.

Microsoft Financially Backs Patent Trolls That Attack Its Competitors

Wednesday 24th of January 2018 09:39:43 AM

“[Microsoft's] Mr. Emerson and I discussed a variety of investment structures wherein Microsoft would ‘backstop,’ or guarantee in some way, BayStar’s investment…. Microsoft assured me that it would in some way guarantee BayStar’s investment in SCO.”

–Larry Goldfarb, BayStar, key investor in SCO

Summary: Corporate media continues to ignore the elephant in the room, which is Microsoft’s deep involvement in arming patent trolls and using them against rivals, including GNU/Linux

THE 12-year Microsoft push for 'patent tax' on GNU/Linux persists in a new form. It’s occasionally mentioned in the media, e.g. that Microsoft would sic patent trolls on AWS customers, but we can’t help wondering if editors are shooting down attempts to mention that this is also an anti-Linux plot. How many millions (not even billions) has Microsoft spent (‘invested’) for the media to spread the lie that it “loves Linux”? We are occasionally being asked (having researched this) regarding Microsoft’s patent strategy against Linux, yet nothing gets published at the end. In this example from yesterday it comes across almost like Microsoft marketing with lots of Microsoft talking points, as if everything Microsoft says must be true. I had been contacted by the author, but nothing I said was included in this article. I did explain, for example, that Microsoft instructs Nokia to pass its patents to trolls. This is well documented. The article actually states that “if Microsoft sells a patent, it still can’t be used against Azure customers.” But only against them. Got it?

“We’re very disappointed to see the media persisting with the “Microsoft loves Linux” lie, but seeing also the publicity stunt (court case) which has Microsoft portrayed as “fighting for privacy” we are dismayed and bound to accept that money buys the media and thus buys narrative.”Paid-for trolling (paid by Microsoft) is not new; here’s a reminder from this week. It’s about Finjan. Microsoft-backed patent trolls like Finjan receive extortion money from Microsoft’s rivals, noting a “175% year-over-year increase in revenue to over $50.0 million” (that’s just ‘protection’ money).

Don’t expect Microsoft to be vocally involved. Microsoft has funded patent trolls, this one included, and now it can better hide it. Same for SCO. The use of proxies for such litigation was highlighted by OIN a long time ago. Their CEO said that Microsoft would attempt to attack Linux through proxies to which it can slip patents (directly or indirectly). It’s going to get harder to see it, based on rulings such as this:

The court denied defendants’ motion to compel the production of documents regarding plaintiff’s communications with litigation-funding organizations that plaintiff withheld as privileged.

We’re very disappointed to see the media persisting with the “Microsoft loves Linux” lie, but seeing also the publicity stunt (court case) which has Microsoft portrayed as “fighting for privacy” we are dismayed and bound to accept that money buys the media and thus buys narrative.

PTAB Engages in Patent Justice, But Lobbyists of Patent Trolls Try to Blame PTAB for All the Problems of the US and Then Promote Iancu

Wednesday 24th of January 2018 08:29:08 AM

Related: Further Scrutiny of Andrei Iancu Shows That He’s on Both Sides of Troll Battles and PTAB Battles

Photo credit: The American Lawyer

Summary: In an effort to curtail quality control at the US patent office, voices of the litigation ‘industry’ promote the irrational theory that the demise of the US is all just the fault of patent reform

THE appeals (or petitions) at the USPTO are working. Many patents are being invalidated when they lack merit. Thanks to PTAB…

Michael Loney, the managing editor of Managing IP, took note of (and apparently graphed) the effects of PTAB fees going up after all the PTAB shaming. It’s no secret that patent extremists have bullied USPTO officials into making PTAB less accessible (less affordable) and as Loney explained: “The increase in PTAB fees on Jan 16 had an impact on petition filing. Spike of 37 petitions on Jan 15 per Docket Navigator. As well as smaller but significant numbers of 18 petitions on Jan 12 and 10 on Jan 11…”

Last year was another record year for PTAB; will that trend carry on in spite of these price hikes? We shall see.

Meanwhile, Loney takes note of Allergan’s troubles amid its patent “scam” (attempting to dodge PTAB by misuse of tribal immunity). “There are now about a dozen class-action antitrust lawsuits pending against Allergan”, he wrote, “that allege “a multi-pronged effort to block generic versions of Restasis from coming to market.””

So Allergan not only resorted to patent scams but also let poor people die in the process. We hope that PTAB will soon invalidate all those patents that Allergan is trying to shelter behind tribes. Allergan knows darn well why it’s trying to avoid PTAB.

Dennis Crouch also wrote about Allergan. The firm is collapsing, it already faces multiple probes, it is laying off staff and it engages in patent scams. Here is what Crouch said:

There are now about a dozen class-action antitrust lawsuits pending against Allergan that allege “a multi-pronged effort to block generic versions of Restasis from coming to market.

[...]

The outcome of the antitrust lawsuits will at least partially depend upon the pending PTAB IPR proceedings. The patents at issue were invalidated following a bench trial in the E.D.Tex. with Federal Circuit Judge Bryson sitting by designation as the trial court. Allergan has appealed that order.

In this particular case, PTAB does a public service outside the context of patents alone. Allergan’s abusive tactics can be stopped by invalidation of key patents.

In other news about PTAB, WiFi One makes another belated appearance. To quote:

The Federal Circuit’s softening of the appeal bar (35 U.S.C. § 314(d)) in WiFi One will now allow the Court to consider matters unrelated to the merits of an institution decision, and in some cases, well-established precedent of the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB).

We already wrote several articles about this case. It is worth noting this comment about the EPO, bemoaning the patent microcosm’s rants about PTAB:

Lucky this wasn’t a US IPR decision. My ears wouldn’t have survived the sonic whine from the “IT’S NOT FAAAIIIIIIRRRRRRRR!!!!” brigade. Aeroplanes would have fallen from the sky and satellites knocked out of their orbits, and all because the spoiled brats are throwing their toys out of their prams.

It is NOT a point of law of fundamental importance. All points of law can have deleterious effects, but luckily I, and many others, have studied my subject. Foresight is a wonderful thing!

PTAB is meanwhile being bashed by the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM et al). Yesterday we saw the Conservative, Koch-funded lobbyist Adam Mossoff complaining about lobbying and defending patent trolls, as usual. They have a new tactic; seeing that the US is declining, based on press reports, they blame it all on AIA/PTAB/IPRs. Mossoff wrote: “It is lobbying money like this – and the hundreds of millions these companies have spent lobbying over the decade before 2017 – that created the “patent troll” narrative in D.C. and the resulting moral panic about the fundamental role of #patent rights in #innovation economy…”

Mossoff has long denied that patent trolls are a problem (let alone that they exist). Here is another new example (Moskowitz). To quote: “Score another one for Seoul while Silicon Valley slides. The U.S. dropped out of the top 10 in the 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index for the first time in the six years the gauge has been compiled. South Korea and Sweden retained their No. 1 & No. 2 rankings.” #AIA #PTAB to blame”

I challenged him on this baseless claim and there’s quite a conversation there. He very much refused to accept that other factors played a role in this decline. “This is laughable,” I told him, “and a self-serving deception blaming patent reform for US decline…”

He stood firm with his claim nonetheless. IAM soon joined in, arguing things to the same effect. IAM cites the Chamber of Commerce as a source for some drama intended to claim that patent policy (e.g. AIA) has been the cause for a decline of the US. “DC sources tell IAM that Andrei Iancu confirmation vote for @uspto director is expected before mid-February,” it said, having also written this blog post about it:

In a confirmation hearing performance that played well with a broad range of stakeholders, Iancu gave every indication of being fully aware of some of the gripes levelled against the US patent system and made a point of calling for balance on more than one occasion. “The accused infringer in one case may be the IP owner in another and a patent owner in one area of technology or science may be a member of the public trying to design around someone else’s patent in another area,” he told the commitee. “The playing field must be even for all.”

[...]

If Iancu is confirmed by the middle of February, then his start in the job will coincide with the US Chamber of Commerce’s launch of its 2018 International IP Index, an analysis of IP regimes around the world in which the US last year slumped to 10th (tied with Hungary) in a ranking of the relative strength of countries’ patent systems. The latest index is due to be published on 8th February and if the US were to slip again it would give Iancu a sense of the scale of the task that he faces.

That last paragraph is pure propaganda from a corporate front group, the Chamber of Commerce.

There is still time to stop this appointment, which is about putting a patent ‘industry’ mole in charge of the USPTO. It’s not hard to envision what he would do.

Team UPC Has Been Reduced to Rubble and Misinformation

Wednesday 24th of January 2018 07:22:02 AM

Countries with a dozen new patents (more than a thousand times less than Germany) touted as ‘progress’

Summary: A roundup of the latest falsehoods about the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and those who are peddling such falsehoods for personal gain

THIS won’t be the first time that we point out misinformation about the UPC. We have been doing that for nearly a decade (even before “UPC” was known as UPC). Today’s post packs in it several new examples. We’ll keep it as short and concise as possible. We can soon just forget about the UPC (altogether). It will be left in the ashtray of history.

IAM

“We can soon just forget about the UPC (altogether).”The PR firm of the EPO had paid IAM to promote the UPC. This wasn’t even a secret. IAM disclosed that in its Web site. We got that. It’s a marriage of convenience and the lobbying is paid for. That IAM spread false rumours about the UPC in Spain last year (repeatedly in fact) is not OK. Why not? Because it constitutes what many people refer to as “fake news” nowadays. Never mind the ethical issues associated with lobbying…

Yesterday IAM wrote: “The Spanish government has reiterated that it will not support Spain’s membership of the UPC. Linguistically and economically – it says – the system would disadvantage Spanish SMEs. But how many Spanish SMEs have any interest in patents?”

The government is correct. IAM is wrong. SMEs would be the targets of litigation. That’s why the UPC is a threat to them. And it doesn’t offer them any benefits as very few even operate outside Spain anyway…

“The PR firm of the EPO had paid IAM to promote the UPC. This wasn’t even a secret.”I responded to IAM by saying that patent extremists, who make a living out of patent system growth (more monopolies irrespective of economic theories/evidence), will always choose to “not understand” this. IAM carried on: “Spain – a country of 46 million people and the EU’s 5th largest economy – saw a 20% decline in patent applications last year, from an already pitifully low 2,849 to 2,285. Does that tell us more about Spain or the importance of patents?”

So IAM is now bashing Spain over the number of patents, conveniently missing the point that patents are a rich countries’ game (protectionism with cost barriers).

IAM being IAM, it will carry on pushing the UPC agenda while bashing those who stand in the way or distorting their views. With EPO money in its purse, maybe that’s just “good business sense”…

Bristows LLP

The UPC is stuck, so Bristows nowadays champions "alternative facts". That says a lot about the lack of integrity of Bristows.

It Looks like Bristows staff is once again putting a mask on ("Kluwer Patent blogger") for UPC lobbying. Watch this post from yesterday and compare it to another (from the same day) by Andrew Bowler. He wants us to believe that Latvia — with barely any EPs (16 in 2016 and 8 in 2015) — matters to UPC and can revive it. “Latvia is the 15th country to ratify,” they say, and “[t]he UK is expected to ratify in the upcoming months.”

“Very few horses are left in this race; Bristows is almost on its own now.”That’s a lie. Jo Johnson left, but they did not even mention it (ever). There’s no indication that ratification is imminent. Bristows seems to have already fabricated statements to that effect.

Notice what they say at the very end: “Latvia has not yet consented to the provisional application of the UPCA or signed the UPC’s Protocol on Privileges and Immunities.”

It does not mention the UK or Germany (how convenient). “It may be worthwhile awaiting the decision of the German Constitutional Court after all,” a UPC booster noted. He too knows that therein (not in Latvia) lies the fate. We might have to wait another 2 years now (for a decision). In the meantime the world forgets about the UPC fairytale (except the UPC lobby) and might not be aware that the UPC push even exists. Very few horses are left in this race; Bristows is almost on its own now.

Support for UPC is Waning

According to JUVE’s editor: “Less to read for German Constitutional Court than expected. According to the Court these institutions have submitted opinions on the UPC case: German Government, EPOorg, EPLIT, EPLAW, BRAK, DAV, und GRUR”

“We expected to see a lot more submissions in support of UPC ratification.”And in German: “Nicht viel, aber wenigstens eine kleine Information. Laut BVerfG haben diese Institutionen eine Stellungnahme zur UPC-Beschwerde eingereicht: Bundesregierung, @EPOorg, BRAK, DAV, EPLIT, EPLAW und GRUR. Weniger zu lesen für Karlsruhe als gedacht: 7 statt 27 Gutachten”

We expected to see a lot more submissions in support of UPC ratifications. The above (at least to us) suggests that fewer bodies with a UPC stake even bothered. It’s like they already gave up.

CRISPR Patent Debacle Demonstrated That Opposition Divisions Do Their Job, But Also Highlighted Serious Deficiency in Patent-Granting Process

Wednesday 24th of January 2018 06:38:38 AM

Why was such a patent allowed in the first place? Could it be inane work pressure?


Reference: genome.gov (US)

Summary: While it is reassuring that EPO staff managed to squash a very controversial patent, it remains to be explained why such patent applications/applicants were even notified of intention to grant (in spite of the EPC, common sense and so on)

THE US patent system, in spite of its flaws, has managed to improve patent quality. IPRs/PTAB/AIA might deserve the credit. At the EPO, the appeal boards and the Opposition Divisions were entrusted to ensure patent quality as well.

“Maybe that’s because the number of oppositions is soaring.”One week ago today (also Wednesday) an Opposition Division showed signs of life and demonstrated that in spite of Battistelli’s behaviour it was still able to do its work. This latest comment in IP Kat says: “The discussion seems to shift away from the facts of the case decided by the Opposition Division. Even the proprietor does not allege that there was a consent by all the co-applicants of the provisional to file the internatial application claiming priority from the provisional. As to the form of transfer it seems to be meanwhile uncontested EP practice that it is governed by national law, i.e. in the case of a US provisional US civil law.”

6 days later there was still new press coverage about this opposition. “Broad suffered a stunning blow at the European Patent Office (EPO) last week,” said this latest article.

So much for patent certainty…

“The [European] office also plans to create new specialised directorates to deal with opposition procedures,” said this recent article (translated into German and French by SUEPO last week). Maybe that’s because the number of oppositions is soaring. Yesterday the EPO once again promoted the lie. I told them “it will accomplish the very opposite” of what they claim. They obviously did not reply (they rarely respond to anyone at all).

“No wonder patents tentatively get issued on CRISPR — something that even the US does not allow.”An internal SUEPO memo, according to this article, said that Battistelli’s “division into small units creates obvious issues of unequally distributed expertise (individual patent administration staff cannot master perfectly the many necessary procedures). “Even the patent administration procedures that until now were centralised in a dedicated unit, like the receiving office for WIPO in the EPO, will be decentralised to the small units […] expertise will be much more diluted than before. […] To solve the problem they have created, management has decided to train intensively all patent administration staff in basically all procedures. This is taking place while patent administration staff is already struggling with the workload, further increasing work strain. In any event, one cannot reasonably expect that a hasty training will allow building up the necessary level of expertise in all the small teams.”

We have not yet seen this entire memo (if someone can send it to us, we would appreciate it), but it seems to suggest a further race to the bottom. Yesterday the EPO promoted internships again. “This is what you can expect from our Praktika Intern programme,” it said. Way to lower the quality of work. They reduce the barrier or lower the bar to entry. No wonder patents tentatively get issued on CRISPR — something that even the US does not allow.

It is quite alarming that the EPO lowers patent quality while denying the issue even exists!

Links 23/1/2018: Castle Game Engine 6.4, Qt 5.9.4, SQLite 3.22.0

Tuesday 23rd of January 2018 06:20:55 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Should your open source project report its social benefits?

    Despite the many words written and spoken on the difference between “open source” and “free” software, few people have pointed out that discussion of these differences frequently resembles the debate surrounding the social role of business, which in recent decades has been dominated by the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

    The fact of the matter, however, is that organizations committed to open principles could (and should) be reporting their activities—because those activities have effects that are both economic and social. And an analysis of how this is the case might actually help us reconcile two principled positions that have more in common than they might realize.

  • Top 4 open source alternatives to Google Analytics

    If you have a website or run an online business, collecting data on where your visitors or customers come from, where they land on your site, and where they leave is vital. Why? That information can help you better target your products and services, and beef up the pages that are turning people away.

    To gather that kind of information, you need a web analytics tool.

    Many businesses of all sizes use Google Analytics. But if you want to keep control of your data, you need a tool that you can control. You won’t get that from Google Analytics. Luckily, Google Analytics isn’t the only game on the web.

    Here are four open source alternatives to Google Analytics.

  • Why no more new AND successful FOSS projects in the last ten years?

    If you ask me, the new, successful FOSS projects should be project that fix, replace, rewrite, whatever… the really unglamorous, low-level tools, libraries and so on that would make that happen. Yes, I know that this is really unlikely to happen under current business models and until IoT everywhere, new iPhones every year and the like are perceived as higher priorities, regardless of their environmental impacts and, very often, sheer lack of sense.

  • Events
    • FOSS Backstage – CfP open

      It’s almost ten years ago that I attended my first ApacheCon EU in Amsterdam. I wasn’t entirely new to the topic of open source or free software. I attended several talks on Apache Lucene, Apache Solr, Hadoop, Tomcat, httpd (I still remember that the most impressive stories didn’t necessarily come from the project members, but from downstream users. They were the ones authorized to talk publicly about what could be done with the project – and often became committers themselves down the road.

    • Liveblogging RIT’s FOSS projects class: initial questions for community spelunking

      Stephen Jacobs (SJ) and I are co-teaching “Project in FOSS Development” at RIT this semester, which basically means “hey students, want to get course credit for contributing to a FOSS project?” The class is centered around 5 project sprints of two weeks each. The first 3 weeks of class are preparing for the sprint periods; the week before spring break is a pause to reflect on how sprints are going. Otherwise, class efforts will be centered around executing project work… (aka “getting stuff done”).

  • Databases
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Quick Look at Notebookbar on LibreOffice 6.0

      This is a short preview of how Notebookbar will look like on LibreOffice 6.0. Notebookbar is a new toolbar appearance on LibreOffice since version 5.3 that look similar to Microsoft Office 2007 Ribbon Toolbar. It’s tabbed, column based, and categorized. We can use Notebookbar on Writer, Calc, and Impress already. It’s still a experimental feature for now, so it’s not recommended for production use. However, it’s already good looking at LibreOffice 6.0 and we need to see more. I show here screenshots of Writer’s Notebookbar from all tabs with some commentary.

    • LibreOffice bitmap pattern

      Do you like to use nice bitmap pattern in LibreOffice for area fill. So if you draw a rectangular, a start, … whatever you can use this bitmaps.

      With the help of designers from openclipart, pixabay, publicdomainpictures, … I made 42 seamless area bitmap pattern but only 50% are needed. So which one do you like which one can be dropped.

    • The Document Liberation project announces five new or improved libraries

      The Document Liberation Project has announced five new or improved libraries to export EPUB3 and import AbiWord, MS Publisher, PageMaker and QuarkXPress files.

  • CMS
    • Design’N’Buy launches All-In-One Designer on Magento Open Source 2.2

      Design’N’Buy announces the launch of their flagship product – the AIOD on Magento Open Source Version 2.2. With the launch of web to print solution on Magento Version 2.2 , Design’N’Buy becomes first event in web to print industry to offer complete eCommerce printing solution for printers on one of the widest and latest technology platform.

  • Funding
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Access/Content
      • Lawsuit accuses PACER of milking the public for cash in exchange for access

        The federally run online court document access system known as PACER now finds itself listed on a federal docket. Its overseer, the US government, is a defendant in a proposed class-action lawsuit accusing the service of overcharging the public.

        The suit, brought by three nonprofits on Thursday, claims millions of dollars generated from a recent 25-percent increase in page fees are being illegally spent by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO). The cost for access is 10 cents per page and up to $3 a document. Judicial opinions are free. This isn’t likely to break the bank for some, but to others it adds up and can preclude access to public records. The National Consumer Law Center, the Alliance for Justice, and the National Veterans Legal Services Program also claim in the lawsuit that these fees are illegal because the government is charging more than necessary to keep the PACER system afloat (as is required by Congress).

      • Is the Most Massive, Illegal Paywall in the World About to Come Down?

        A groundbreaking lawsuit is poised to decimate what is arguably the most unjust, destructive, and it now sounds like illegal paywall in the world, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records, PACER.

        PACER is the federal government court documents repository. Every federal court document, for every case, lives in PACER. It’s essentially a giant FTP document repository with a horrendous search system bolted on, not dissimilar to EDGAR.

        PACER was created in 1988 to enable access to court records electronically. Initially available only in courthouses the system was expanded to the web in 2001.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
  • Programming/Development
    • An Open Letter to the Perl Community

      Some consider Perl 6 to be a sister language to Perl 5. Personally, I consider Perl 6 more of a genetically engineered daughter language with the best genes from many parents. A daughter with a difficult childhood, in which she alienated many, who is now getting out of puberty into early adulthood. But I digress.

    • Long Live Perl 5!

      While not mentioned in the original Letter, a frequent theme in the comments was that Perl 6 should be renamed, as the name is inaccurate or is damaging.

      This is the topic on which I wrote more than once and those who have been following closely know that, yes, many (but by no means all) in the Perl 6 community acknowledge the name is detrimental to both Perl 6 and Perl 5 projects.

      This is why with a nod of approval from Larry we’re moving to create an alias to Perl 6 name during 6.d language release, to be available for marketing in areas where “Perl 6″ is not a desirable name.

    • JavaScript Trends for 2018

      Trying to bet on how many new JavaScript frameworks will be released each month, is, the best software engineer’s game in the past 5 years.

    • Ick: a continuous integration system

      TL;DR: Ick is a continuous integration or CI system. See http://ick.liw.fi/ for more information.

    • EE4J Code Begins the Journey to Open Source

      The EE4J project, which was created to manage the Eclipse Foundation’s stewardship of Java EE technologies following Oracle’s decision to open source them, is starting to gain traction.

      Soon after the project was created, EclipseLink and Yasson (the official reference implementation of Java JSON Binding, JSR-367) became the first two projects to be transferred under the EE4J umbrella. As reported in December, the announcement was made that seven more projects were being proposed.

Leftovers
  • Science
    • Finland is the Mobile Data Capitol of the World

      As telecommunications companies continue along the nearly decade-long process to develop and implement 5G technologies, the perfect testing ground for the new mobile data systems may already exist.

      Several factors make Finland a potential sandbox for 5G developers: the average person in Finland used about 20 gigabytes (GB) of mobile data in December 2017, a dramatic rise from the 2016 average of 11 gigabytes per month—more than any other country in the world on a per capita basis. (Mobile subscribers in Latvia, who come in second, used 8.2 GB per month in 2016 while U.S. subscribers ranked 13th at 2.67 GB per month.)

    • Why Do We Need to Sleep?

      In particular, this need to make up lost sleep, which has been seen not just in jellyfish and humans but all across the animal kingdom, is one of the handholds researchers are using to try to get a grip on the bigger problem of sleep. Why we feel the need for sleep is seen by many as key to understanding what it gives us.

      Biologists call this need “sleep pressure”: Stay up too late, build up sleep pressure. Feeling drowsy in the evenings? Of course you are—by being awake all day, you’ve been generating sleep pressure! But like “dark matter,” this is a name for something whose nature we do not yet understand. The more time you spend thinking about sleep pressure, the more it seems like a riddle game out of Tolkien: What builds up over the course of wakefulness, and disperses during sleep? Is it a timer? A molecule that accrues every day and needs to be flushed away? What is this metaphorical tally of hours, locked in some chamber of the brain, waiting to be wiped clean every night?

    • The U.S. Drops Out of the Top 10 in Innovation Ranking

      Score another one for Seoul while Silicon Valley slides.

      The U.S. dropped out of the top 10 in the 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index for the first time in the six years the gauge has been compiled. South Korea and Sweden retained their No. 1 and No. 2 rankings.

      The index scores countries using seven criteria, including research and development spending and concentration of high-tech public companies.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • On the 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Court Battles for Abortion Access Persist

      You’d be forgiven for forgetting Roe is the law of the land. In 2017 alone, 19 states adopted 63 new abortion restrictions.

      On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decision Roe v. Wade, recognizing that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion. Forty-five years later, Roe is still law of the land — but if you’ve been following the news lately, you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

      Since October, the ACLU has had to go to court repeatedly to stop the Trump administration from blocking several young immigrant women from getting abortions because the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency responsible for unaccompanied immigrant minors, has as adopted a no-abortion policy. It requires any young woman who requests an abortion to visit a “crisis pregnancy center” — outfits that exist for the sole purpose of dissuading women from terminating their pregnancies — and prohibits her from going to an abortion clinic.

      We’ve already gone to court on behalf of Jane Doe, Jane Poe, Jane Roe, and Jane Moe, so that they could get the abortions they wanted, but we know that there are more Janes out there. We’ve asked a federal court to allow us to bring the lawsuit in the name of all pregnant young women in ORR custody so we can put a stop to this unconstitutional policy.

    • Sanofi, Facing Threat From Generics, Moves to Buy Hemophilia Drug Maker

      The French drug maker Sanofi said on Monday that it had agreed to acquire Bioverativ, a biopharmaceutical company focused on treatments for hemophilia and other rare blood disorders, for $11.6 billion in cash.

      Sanofi has sought use acquisitions to bolster its portfolio of drugs, particularly because it faces declining sales for its diabetes drug, Lantus, which has lost its patent protection. According to the company, sales of Lantus declined more than 16 percent in the first nine months of last year, based on constant exchange rates, and rivals are moving to introduce generic versions of the treatment.

      The Bioverativ deal would enhance Sanofi’s “presence in specialty care and leadership in rare diseases” and “creates a platform for growth in other rare blood disorders,” Olivier Brandicourt, the Sanofi chief executive, said in a news release.

    • Trump’s 24-year-old drug policy appointee was let go at law firm after he ‘just didn’t show’

      A former Trump campaign worker appointed at age 23 to a top position in the White House’s drug policy office had been let go from a job at a law firm because he repeatedly missed work, a partner at the firm said.

      While in college, late in 2014 or early in 2015, Taylor Weyeneth began working as a legal assistant at the New York firm O’Dwyer & Bernstien. He was “discharged” in August 2015, partner Brian O’Dwyer said in an interview.

      “We were very disappointed in what happened,” O’Dwyer said. He said that he hired Weyeneth in part because both men were involved in the same fraternity, and that the firm invested time training him for what was expected to be a longer relationship. Instead, he said, Weyeneth “just didn’t show.”

  • Security
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Google’s Advanced Protection Program Offers Security Options For High-Risk Users

      Security is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and features that are prohibitively inconvenient for some could be critical for others. For most users, standard account security settings options are sufficient protection against common threats. But for the small minority of users who might be targeted individually—like journalists, policy makers, campaign staff, activists, people with abusive exes, or victims of stalking—standard security options won’t cut it.

      For those users, Google recently added the option to add stronger protections to personal Google accounts with the Advanced Protection Program. Advanced Protection is a big step in the right direction to provide different levels of protection for different people, and other companies and platforms should follow suit.

      An account with Advanced Protection turned on will change in three main ways. First, when you sign in, you’ll need to use a physical security key in addition to your password. Advanced Protection also requires you to have a second back-up key on hand. Second, you’ll only be able to use Gmail and other Google services on the Chrome browser, and third-party apps won’t be able to access your Gmail or Google Drive. And third, if you ever get locked out of your account, regaining access will take more time and require more types of identity verification. Respectively, these measures protect against phishing, malicious apps that try to trick you into granting them excessive permissions, and attackers who try to use the account recovery process to take over your account.

    • Trusted Computing

      The Trusted Platform Module on your computer’s motherboard could lead to better security for your Linux system.

      The security of any operating system (OS) layer depends on the security of every layer below it. If the CPU can’t be trusted to execute code correctly, there’s no way to run secure software on that CPU. If the bootloader has been tampered with, you cannot trust the kernel that the bootloader boots. Secure Boot allows the firmware to validate a bootloader before executing it, but if the firmware itself has been backdoored, you have no way to verify that Secure Boot functioned correctly.

    • Locking the screen when removing a Yubikey

      I have my Yubikey on my key ring, so whenever I leave my computer, I have to remove the Yubikey. So why not lock the screen automatically?

    • Corporate cultural issues hold back secure software development

      The study of over 1,200 IT leaders, conducted by analysts Freeform Dynamics for software company CA Technologies, finds 58 percent of respondents cite existing culture and lack of skills as hurdles to being able to embed security within processes.

    • Stop installing our buggy Spectre CPU firmware fixes, Intel says
    • Uber shrugs off flaw that lets hackers bypass two-factor authentication

      Security researcher Karan Saini found the bug in Uber’s two-factor authentication process, which has yet to be rolled out widely to Uber users. The flaw relates to the way an account is authenticated when users log in, meaning hackers [sic] with someone’s username and password can drift pass the 2FA with ease.

    • Intel asks customers to halt patching for chip bug, citing flaw

      Intel Corp (INTC.O) said on Monday that patches it released to address two high-profile security vulnerabilities in its chips are faulty, advising customers, computer makers and cloud providers to stop installing them.

      Intel Executive Vice President Navin Shenoy disclosed the problem in a statement on the chipmaker’s website, saying that patches released after months of development caused computers to reboot more often than normal and other “unpredictable” behavior. (intel.ly/2DsL9qz)

      “I apologize for any disruption this change in guidance may cause,” Shenoy said. “I assure you we are working around the clock to ensure we are addressing these issues.”

    • Hackers stole $172 billion from people in 2017

      As many as 978 million people in 20 countries lost money to cybercrime last year, according to a new report by security firm Norton.

    • Bug Bounty Hackers Make More Money Than Average Salaries, Report Finds
    • Analysis of 13 Million Website Defacements Reveals Common Trends
    • It’s Time to Stop Buying Phones from OnePlus

      OnePlus hasn’t been making Android phones for a very long time, but over its four years in existence it has made numerous screw ups. This all finally led up to last week’s massive credit card breach. It’s time we stop trusting a company with such clearly low standards.

    • The ICO craze is making cybercriminals rich, too
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • How WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange lost his moral authority [Ed: Citing lots of patently false reports and misquoting (of of context) the President, more fakes. Never mind Assange (he can take it), one has to wonder how diplomats and embassy staff deal with deliberate distortion of their words by MSM. Examples below.]
    • Ecuador’s leader laments “nuisance” Julian Assange [Ed: More sites have now joined the defamation. They are twisting the words of the President... in order to mean the very opposite]
    • Ecuador’s President Calls Julian Assange ‘More Than a Nuisance’ as Country Realizes It’s Stuck With Him

      Assange took up residence in Ecuador’s embassy to skip bail on two sex assault-related charges in Sweden in 2012. And despite the fact that charges have been dropped in Sweden on a technicality, British authorities have still promised to arrest him if he steps foot outside of the embassy. Any foreign embassy is considered that country’s territory under international law and Assange is now on Ecuadorian soil, despite being in London.

    • Ecuador’s President Takes Aim at WikiLeaks’ Assange

      Ecuador’s president is lashing out at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange even as he contends his government is working behind the scenes to help him out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

      Lenin Moreno said in a televised interview Sunday that Assange had become “more than a nuisance” after he violated terms of his asylum by interfering in other countries’ political affairs.

      Ecuador granted citizenship to Assange this month in an unsuccessful attempt to provide him diplomatic immunity so he could evade arrest in Britain. Moreno said other countries and “important personalities” he didn’t name are working to mediate a solution.

    • Assange team hopes UK could declare him persona non grata

      Julian Assange and his advisers are preparing to try to use Ecuador’s decision to grant him diplomatic status to force Britain to declare him persona non grata and expel him, a source close to Assange said.

      Reuters also has learnt that as part of their continuing criminal investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks, investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently sought new information about years-old contacts between WikiLeaks and Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. Army private who leaked the website thousands of classified U.S. government documents.

      Ecuador announced earlier this month it granted diplomatic status to Assange, who in 2012 took refuge in its London Embassy after British courts ruled he should be extradited to Sweden for questioning in a sexual molestation investigation.

    • Julian Assange is a ‘genius’, says Pamela Anderson

      The former Baywatch pin-up, 50, visited the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Monday, where he has been living since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden.

    • Julian Assange is a ‘genius’, says Pamela Anderson
    • Pamela Anderson visits pal Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy in London
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
  • Finance
    • Puerto Rico to privatize its power system

      Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Monday he plans to sell the assets of the island’s power system to the private sector in a effort to improve “its deficient service.”

      In a video Rossello posted to Facebook, the governor called the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) “a great burden for our people, who today is a hostage of its deficient service and high costs.”

    • As Trump, Bannon, Assange & Oprah make headlines: The Empire Strikes Back

      The global elite will use any means necessary to prevent the economic radicalization of the left. So “MeToo” and smears distract while tax evasion has become legitimate.

      Three widely reported recent events sum up our current sad predicament: the open conflict between Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globe awards, and the prospect of Julian Assange’s release from the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Because, although they appear totally unconnected, they fit together as pieces in a puzzle.

      The conflict between Trump and Bannon exploded in public following the publication of Michael Wolff’s book ‘Fire and Fury’. The ridiculous quarrels about who said what should not divert our attention from the crux of the matter.

      Bannon is a kind of honest Rightist populist who takes anti-capitalism with a minimum of seriousness, demanding higher taxes for the rich, more public investment etc., and his rage exploded when, with the new tax law, it became clear that Trump is the president of the super-rich. An economic neoliberal who just superficially flirts with popular discontent.

    • Rauner Takes Aim at State Lawmakers Who Appeal Property Taxes

      Gov. Bruce Rauner’s executive order seeking to bar state lawmakers from representing clients before a board that hears property tax appeals is largely symbolic, state data suggest, revealing how limited the Republican governor’s options are for changing the system.

      Vowing to end what he called a “clear conflict of interest,” the governor cited the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois’ “The Tax Divide” series in promising to follow up the order with legislation to reform the property tax system in Cook County, as well as across the state.

      “We have a deeply flawed and overly complicated property-tax system that recent investigations have shown results in inequitable, disproportionately high property-tax burdens on low-income residents,” Rauner said in a statement. “For any legislator to profit from this system undercuts the public’s faith that they are in office to do what’s best for their constituents.”

    • Localisation paying off in US: Wipro

      While Infosys recently committed to hire 10,000 Americans over two years, Wipro stepped up local hiring to achieve a workforce mix with more than 50% locals. TCS has also increased local hiring.

    • Kimberly-Clark to cut 1,600 jobs

      Household-products maker Kimberly-ClarkKMB said Thursday it plans to cut 1,600 jobs, or 3% of its global work force, as it slims down in the tough economy.

      The maker of Kleenex tissues, Huggies diapers and scores of other household items employs 53,000 people around the world. It plans to make the cuts primarily among salaried and non-production workers and executives said the company doesn’t plan to close any plants.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Facebook admits social media can harm democracy
    • Facebook: we were too slow to recognise our ‘corrosive’ effect on democracy

      In response, he says, Facebook is “hiring over 10,000 more people this year to work on safety and security”, but warns that it is hard to that sort of moderation “at a global scale … since it is hard for machines to understand the cultural nuances of political intimidation.”

    • The more Facebook examines itself, the more fault it finds

      Whether social media is a net benefit to democracy is, at best, an open question. “I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can’t,” Chakrabarti writes. “That’s why we have a moral duty to understand how these technologies are being used and what can be done to make communities like Facebook as representative, civil, and trustworthy as possible.”

    • This Country’s Democracy Has Fallen Apart — And It Played Out To Millions On Facebook

      When Facebook first came to Cambodia, many hoped it would help to usher in a new period of free speech, amplifying voices that countered the narrative of the government-friendly traditional press. Instead, the opposite has happened. Prime Minister Hun Sen is now using the platform to promote his message while jailing his critics, and his staff is doing its best to exploit Facebook’s own rules to shut down criticism — all through a direct relationship with the company’s staff.

    • Facebook says it can’t guarantee social media is good for democracy
    • Facebook helped consolidate power for Cambodia’s dictator and his attack-dog media, then killed the independent press’s platform

      The Cambodian government has cultivated a deep expertise in Facebook’s baroque acceptable conduct rules, and they use this expertise to paint opposition speech as in violation of Facebook’s policies, using the company’s anti-abuse systems to purge their rivals from the platform.

    • 1 Year of Trump’s Tweets, Analyzed

      Since well before his election in 2016 and subsequent inauguration, Trump has been letting loose on just about anyone who gets in his path on the social media platform. But after he was sworn into office, his tweets took on new significance: In June 2017, the White House declared that the president’s tweets are official statements, meaning all of those 140-character notes are burned into the governmental record. The messages sent since this time — considered to be official presidential statements — have included incendiary opinions, racist retweets, and bullying, so Teen Vogue took a look at his first year in office through tweets to see what exactly he’s been talking about for the past 365 days.

    • Tech Policy A Year Into The Trump Administration: Where Are We Now?

      Shortly after Trump was elected I wrote a post predicting how things might unfold on the tech policy front with the incoming administration. It seems worth taking stock, now almost a year into it, to see how those predictions may have played out.

      Most of this post will track the way the issues were broken down last time. But it is first worth commenting how in one significant overarching way last year’s post does not hold up: it presumed, even if only naively in the face of evidence already suggesting otherwise, that the Trump administration would function with the competency and coherence that presidential administrations have generally functioned with in order to function at all, let alone effectively enough to drive forth a set of preferred policy positions. There seems to be growing consensus that this presumption was and remains unsound.

      Furthermore, the normal sort of political considerations that traditionally have both animated and limited presidential policy advocacy do not seem applicable to this presidency. As a result, conventional political wisdom in other areas of government also now seems to be changing, as the rest of the political order reacts to what Trump actually has done in his year as President and prepares for the next major round of elections in 2018

    • ‘The Post’ and the Pentagon Papers

      Imagine a film about a backer of an American war in the Third World who, as a State Department official, decides to visit and observe that war firsthand. After many months he learns that most of what our leaders have been telling the public about the war was wrong. In reality, our side was not winning, and most of the claims made for the effort were false. For example, patrols reported to protect certain areas did not even exist. The written reports describing these patrols were simply made up. Therefore both American troops, and the foreign natives we were allied with, were dying by the thousands for fraudulent reasons.

    • What is Omidyar Network and why did it invest in Rappler?
    • No such thing as Bernie Bros: Bernie’s approval rates are women 50%, blacks 70%, latinx 55%; men 46%, whites 43%

      A Quinnipiac poll of 1,212 voters taken last week found that Bernie Sanders was far and away the most viable Democratic candidate (76% approval), beating Oprah (69%) and Gillibrand (25%) — and that moreover, his approval ratings were highest among women and people of color, putting a lie to the stereotype of “Bernie Bros” as young, middle-class white male political radicals who are oblivious to the more moderate preferences of others.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Tunisia’s Plans To Bring In Its Own National ‘Aadhaar’ Biometric ID System Halted — For Now

      The last time that Techdirt wrote about Tunisia was back in 2011, when the Internet helped bring about a major regime change there. Although violent protests against the government have flared up recently, in general, the processes that are being applied to shift national policies in Tunisia are both peaceful and successful.

    • Whistleblower: FBI, NSA Conspire to Delete Data to Cover Up Their Crimes

      Both the National Security Agency (NSA) and the FBI have recently failed to comply with orders to preserve specific data, with one body claiming it didn’t have enough storage to follow through, the other saying a trove was accidentally erased.

      The NSA was under court order to hold on to information that was linked to warrantless wiretapping during the George W Bush administration, while the FBI was told to by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to preserve text messages between two agents who had been accused of anti-Trump bias, The Hill reports. Agencies were expected to preserve the data in long-term storage.

    • Support Community Control of Spy Tech in Berkeley

      Not long ago we wrote about our support for the City of Berkeley’s proposed Surveillance Technology Use and Community Safety Ordinance. In the time since, conversations like those already underway in the Police Review Commission, Peace and Justice Commission, and Disaster and Fire Safety Commission have continued with city agencies and residents.

      Having been sculpted through these conversations and the recommendations of members of the Berkeley community, this ordinance represents the civil rights and civil liberties values of the people of the City of Berkeley.

    • EFF Asks California Supreme Court to Defuse a Time Bomb That Could Harm Anonymous Speech

      In recent months, we’ve seen worrying decisions in state and federal courts that weaken the First Amendment protection for anonymous speech. Last week, EFF called on the California Supreme Court to limit the impact of one these decisions, Yelp v. Superior Court.

      The Yelp case involves a defamation lawsuit brought by an accountant who claims that an anonymous Yelp reviewer defamed him and his business. Last year, a California court of appeal found that Yelp had to turn over information identifying the anonymous user because the plaintiff had a plausible case of defamation. As we wrote then, the court applied a test that failed to give full weight to the First Amendment. We predicted that the Yelp decision was a time bomb that “could invite a fresh wave of lawsuits against anonymous speakers that are designed to harass or intimidate anonymous speakers rather than vindicate actual legal grievances.”

    • Cloud computing: Now hospitals can keep confidential patient records in the public cloud

      The NHS has given hospitals the go-ahead to store sensitive patient records in the cloud.

      NHS Digital, which advises hospitals and doctors on tech issues, has issued guidance on the use of cloud services by healthcare and social care organisations.

      The NHS holds vast amounts of extremely sensitive health data about nearly everyone in the UK; to allow that information to be stored in the cloud is a huge vote of confidence in the technology from one of the world’s largest organisations.

    • NSA voice recognition technology: ‘Blanket surveillance, not tracking criminals’

      The types of surveillance people accept today are a logical extension of George Orwell’s ‘1984’ telescreens spying on you as well as churning out propaganda, which is a clear invasion of privacy rights, analysts told RT.

      The US National Security Agency (NSA) is using voice recognition software to spy on people and detect their locations, according to declassified documents obtained by the media. The NSA has been recording and gathering private phone calls to identify people by their unique “voiceprint” for more than a decade.

      RT discussed the issue with William Binney, former NSA technical director and whistleblower, and Richard Barbrook, academic in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages at the University of Westminster.

      “In 1984 George Orwell has this idea that a large number of the population had telescreens where the television spies on you as well as gives you propaganda. And this is the source of the logical extension of this,”Barbrook told RT.

    • The NSA’s voice-recognition system raises hard questions for Echo and Google Home

      Suppose you’re looking for a single person, somewhere in the world. (We’ll call him Waldo.) You know who he is, nearly everything about him, but you don’t know where he’s hiding. How do you find him?

      The scale is just too great for anything but a computerized scan. The first chance is facial recognition — scan his face against cameras at airports or photos on social media — although you’ll be counting on Waldo walking past a friendly camera and giving it a good view. But his voice could be even better: How long could Waldo go without making a phone call on public lines? And even if he’s careful about phone calls, the world is full of microphones — how long before he gets picked up in the background while his friend talks to her Echo?

    • Spending Bill Would Give Administration Direct Control Of Surveillance Spending

      We’ve been given six more years of Section 702 collections, thanks to many, many Congressional representatives who just couldn’t find it in their hearts to tell the dear old NSA “No.” An extension was granted to push the “debate” into 2018, but there was no debate to be had. Instead, oversight committees on both sides of the Congressional aisle used this time to push out zero-reform renewal packages that actually made Section 702 worse.

      After a brief, two-week consideration of opposing views, things moved ahead as though the program had never been abused by the NSA and had never “inadvertently” swept up US persons’ communications without a warrant. The same politicians who complained about the NSA’s power being in the hands of Donald Trump were the ones who voted for the passage of “reform” bills increasing the agency’s reach and grasp.

      Now, Congressional reps are granting the Trump Administration even greater control of US spy powers. The House spending bill contains an alteration to the language covering the Intelligence Community’s use of federal funds. The funding of surveillance programs is already secret. The NSA’s infamous “black budget” makes it impossible for citizens to see how — and how much — money is being spent spying on the world.

    • Edward Snowden is campaigning against the world’s largest biometric ID programme

      On Sunday, Jan. 21, Snowden backed KC Verma, former head of India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), who had written about his experiences with Aadhaar. Snowden retweeted the article published in The Wire saying the act of organisations such as banks and telcos forcing individuals to produce their Aadhaar numbers should be “criminalized.”

    • Thanks to “consent” buried deep in sales agreements, car manufacturers are tracking tens of millions of US cars

      Car manufacturers are mostly warehousing this data (leaving it vulnerable to leaks and breaches, search-warrants, government hacking and unethical employee snooping), and can’t articulate why they’re saving it or how they use it.

    • NSA Admits It Has AGAIN Been Deleting Evidence Needed In Long-Running Surveillance Lawsuit
    • Foxes in Charge of Intelligence Hen House

      We learned in recent days that the FBI and the National Security Agency “inadvertently” deleted electronic messages relating to reported felonies, but one noxious reality persists: No one in the FBI or NSA is likely to be held to account for these “mistakes.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • ‘Terrifying’: How a single line of computer code put thousands of innocent Turks in jail

      Beşikçi said it was due to a single line of code, which created a window “one pixel high, one pixel wide” — essentially invisible to the human eye — to Bylock.net. Hypothetically, people could be accused of accessing the site without having knowingly viewed it.

    • The TSA Is Best At Catching People Who Are Guilty Of, Oh, Business Travel
    • Worried About Getting Sued for Reporting Sexual Abuse? Here Are Some Tips.

      #MeToo has spawned a surge in defamation claims designed to silence victims. But there are ways to minimize legal risks.

      The #MeToo movement has drawn an outpouring of testimony by the victims of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. In response, there has been a surge in retaliatory defamation lawsuits by their abusers. Many lawyers say they’ve seen a spike in defamation lawsuits in recent years. And in the past two months, I have received more than a half-dozen calls from women who were threatened for telling their stories.

      These threats are real, and are designed to force the victims back into silence. But there are many ways to minimize or limit these legal risks.

      First, and foremost, if you’re telling the truth, you shouldn’t be sued for defamation. Truth is an absolute protection for American libel defendants since the historic Zenger case in 1735.

      Yet judges and juries can get things wrong. It happens. Especially if the abuser is willing to lie to counter your testimony. So you may need to have solid legal expertise to defend yourself in court. Attorneys can be expensive, especially good ones. But you may already have the right to insurer-paid counsel simply because you own your home or rent an apartment. Homeowners’ and renters’ policies usually insure against libel claims, and will provide a defense. Call your broker and review your general liability insurance policies.

      In addition to insurance, there are many practical ways to minimize your legal risks.

    • CIA loses Chinese and Russian spies

      A former CIA Case officer, Jerry Chun Shin Lee, has been arrested and charged with possessing classified material. Further, authorities have implicated Lee in the dismantling of both Chinese and Russian spy networks with at least 20 people (assets, in intel speak), captured and executed. I don’t have any answers, but this post raises the questions I have about the case and tries to figure out what is going on. If nothing else, it seems like the CIA is really not winning awards for “strongest asset security.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
  • DRM
    • Netflix Shatters Estimates With a Surge in Year-End Subscriptions

      While rival media companies merge, fire staff and fret about the future of their businesses, Netflix keeps chugging along, adding customers at home, in Europe and Latin America. Fourth-quarter sales grew by a third to $3.29 billion, the company said, while earnings almost tripled from a year prior to 41 cents, meeting estimates.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • It Kind Of Looks Like Crytek Sued Star Citizen Developer By Pretending Its Engine License Says Something It Doesn’t

        We see all kinds of crazy copyright disputes and lawsuits around here. It is, after all, kind of our thing. Still, occasionally you come across a copyright lawsuit so completely head-scratching as to make you question reality. Thus is the case with the lawsuit Crytek filed against CIG, makers of the long-anticipated Star Citzen game, for both breaking a licensing agreement between both parties and copyright infringement. Strangely, if you read the complaint, all of this centers around CIG choosing not to use the Crytek engine.

      • David Lowery on Spotify Lawsuits and the Battle For Creators’ Rights

        These days, Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery may be best known as a thorn in the side of music-technology companies like Spotify, which he sued in 2015 for copyright infringement related to unpaid mechanical royalties. That case ultimately resulted in a $43 million class action settlement against the company that is awaiting court approval, although Lowery is no longer the named plaintiff, helping publicize an issue that returned to the news in late December when Wixen Music Publishing sued Spotify for $1.6 billion. (Another class action brought by Lowery against Rhapsody is still active.)

        “Streaming is the future of the music business, and I’m not against it — I just want everyone to get paid fairly,” says Lowery, 57. “There could be millions of songs that songwriters weren’t getting paid royalties for, and the future should be better than that.”

      • Kim Dotcom is suing the New Zealand government for billions of dollars

        Mr Dotcom’s accountants have estimated that, had Megaupload, the company at the centre of his legal travails, been allowed to continue, it would have been worth $10bn (£7bn) by now. And he wants satisfaction.

        Mr Dotcom had a 68 per cent shareholding in the business he created, and so is looking for $6.8bn in damages.

      • Rupert Murdoch tells Facebook: pay ‘trusted’ publishers for their content

        Rupert Murdoch issued a new salvo in the row between Facebook and news publishers on Monday, calling on the social media company to pay publishers for their content.

      • Murdoch says Facebook should pay for using news stories

        The executive chairman of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, says that if Facebook wants to recognise “trusted” publishers then it should pay them a carriage fee similar to that paid by cable firms.
        News Corporation is the world’s biggest media company, and owns TV, radio and news outlets in numerous countries, including Australia.

        Murdoch was reacting to Facebook’s recent announcement that it would be depending on users to judge the trustworthiness of news sources, in the wake of many fake news stories being circulated in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election.

      • Rupert Murdoch calls for Facebook and Google to subsidize the news business

        Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of publishing empire News Corporation, issued a statement today proposing a new licensing deal between media organizations and platform-owning tech companies. His goal: get entities like Facebook and Google to pay money to publishers, effectively in exchange for the value news outlets bring to those platforms.

Confidence in European Patents (EPs) is Eroding and Stakeholders Are Already Suffering

Tuesday 23rd of January 2018 12:45:24 PM


Image credit: James Ward and Frances Wilding, Haseltine Lake LLP

Summary: The rush to grant lots and lots of patents at the EPO is already taking its toll; quality is declining, decisions to grant are being overturned, and the already-overburdened appeal boards are unable to catch up

THE OPPOSITIONS at the EPO are soaring. People (and firms) are evidently not happy with the patents being granted and oppositions are filed at a rate the EPO might not be able to suitably keep up with.

A week ago (6 days to be exact) an opposition to a CRISPR patent was successful. We wrote about that yesterday, on Saturday, Wednesday [1, 2], Thursday and Friday. IP Kat (Rose Hughes) finally wrote about it almost one week later. Cantargia AB’s press release, in our view, is still being spread amid panic over the CRISPR patent’s invalidation. This is from yesterday alone [1, 2]; what seems to be their staff was in touch with us and did not deny our suspicions. All these oppositions are becoming a great risk to some companies which invested a lot of money in questionable European Patents.

Yesterday/earlier this week, probably as one might expect, the Wall Street media wrote about this also [1, 2]. Bloomberg neglected to speak to any rights groups that oppose patents on life. Pure business spin is what these articles/blogs boil down to. The author relays the ‘damage control’. “Meanwhile,” he wrote, “it could take a while for the appeal to wend its way through the European system, Brent Babcock, an intellectual property lawyer with Knobbe Martens in Irvine, Calif., told me in a Jan. 19 telephone call.”

There’s a big backlog. In order to crush the patent applications backlog Battistelli has created a massive queue at the IAC, the ILO, BoA, and Oppositions. Well done, eh? By ramming down bad European Patents down the EPO’s mouth Battistelli has caused enormous and possibly irreversible damage. Had patent examination been done thoroughly and patiently, maybe Broad wouldn’t have been granted the CRISPR patent in the first place. Now see this comment (first one at IP Kat) from “The Convention watchdog”:

The reason for the “early” end of the oral proceedings was not that the priority question was not sufficiently discussed. On the contrary, the discussion covered all aspects brought forward by the parties and based on numerous legal expert opinions. Rather, a discussion on novelty and inventive step did not take place as expected, since the proprietor submitted new claim requests which the Opposition Division did not admit into the proceedings. As to the substance of the priority question, one may mention that the problem is not so much the general difference between US and EP law, but the difference between US law on internal priorities and the law of the Paris Convention on priorities.

Had more time been given for examiners, would such a disaster have been averted? Here is another comment:

The Broad Institute proclaims themselves confident that “the EPO will, on appeal, harmonize the EPO procedures to be consistent with international treaties and compatible with the fundamental principles of the Paris Convention”.

The EPO may follow the PCT rules and articles, but the PCT has so many “if national laws allow”, “if not contravening national law”, that it is obvious that the national law stands above the PCT.
And the EPO has not signed other international treaties, and will therefore not be bound by them, EVEN IF every single member state has signed and ratified that treaty.
As many articles about the EPO confirm, the EPOrg and the EPOff have little interest in international treaties, international standards, or complying with generally acknowledged principles of law, if there is no clear indication within the EPC to do so.

I see this statement and the filing of the appeal as a try to keep at least something of the cake, and a try to tell imvestors that not everything is lost, and that they please do not sell the shares yet.

Broad is now suffering because a patent that should not have been granted was in fact granted, giving investors false hopes and unrealistic expectations. Now there may be years of uncertainty.

What does all this make the EPO look like? What happens to the certainty associated with patents that EPO examiners used to grant (before the so-called ‘reforms’)?

Even More Uncertain a Future for the Independence of the EPO Boards of Appeal as Judge Corcoran Too Gets Sent to ‘Exile’

Tuesday 23rd of January 2018 11:57:53 AM

Pushed around endlessly by Battistelli

Summary: The attack on supposedly independent judges at the EPO escalates further; the judge whom the EPO was ordered to reinstate (by ILO) is being constantly pushed around, not just legally bullied

THE EPC was supposed to ensure that judges at the EPO‘s appeal boards would be independent. But they’re not. Even the USPTO‘s appeal board (PTAB) is more independent, and it’s hierarchically part of the same unit as the Office. We have not yet heard of PTAB judges physically or metaphorically being sent to Haar and threatened by a USPTO Director with disciplinary action/s. Never happened!

Last week we wrote about Judge Corcoran (whom Battistelli stripped/removed the title “judge” from) being threatened with yet more disciplinary action/s (as per EPO service regulations) unless he packs up his things, picks up his family (wife), and immediately move to The Hague (which can cause trouble not only for Patrick Corcoran but also his wife, who might already be employed in Munich). He is basically being removed to another country, not just a different city/suburb. Is there even any assurance of work security there? No. Is this exile? As Wikipedia puts it: “To be in exile means to be away from one’s home (i.e. city, state, or country), while either being explicitly refused permission to return or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return. It can be a form of punishment and solitude.”

Reinstatement of this EPO Board of Appeal member, according to a reader of ours, is somewhat of a sham. His update states (uncorroborated but from a reliable source) that things has escalated within less than a fortnight on the new job/position in DG1.

Update to the story of the “banned judge” at the EPO. Apparently he has been transferred to The Hague and given the job of Senior Expert in Classification. This is the equivalent of sending a Detective Inspector in the Metropolitan Police to direct traffic in Skegness.

On the other hand, Classification is a job which requires many years of experience of patent searching in a narrow technical field. As a former substantive examiner, and later Board of Appeal member, the “banned judge” will not have any of the requisite experience, and cannot hope to gain it in a short time. So, not only is he being uprooted from friends and colleagues in Munich and being put on sentry duty in The Hague, it seems he is also being groomed for a series of negative appraisals and a downwards career – possible even dismissal for incompetence.

What are colleagues supposed to think? A career is being destroyed by the very people who are supposed to be punished. How can work carry on like this? How can the Boards do their job?

Marks & Clerk’s Emma Foster wrote about the Enlarged Board of Appeal yesterday. This is what it’s about:

In the recent decision G 1/16, the Enlarged Board of Appeal has provided clarification as to the test to be applied when examining the allowability, according to Article 123(2) EPC, of a claim that has been amended to include an undisclosed disclaimer.

Wouldn’t all these recent decisions be tainted by fear of the Office? The judges themselves have already complained about that in public. They feel threatened.

The Response to Accusations of Censorship by Team UPC? Yet More Censorship to Shield UPC From Criticism

Tuesday 23rd of January 2018 11:16:35 AM

Summary: The Empire of Lies upon which the Unified Patent Court (UPC) was conceived is being exposed for its lies; The Empire Strikes Back with yet more censorship

THE EPO‘s management and Team UPC cannot coexist with facts. They fabricate, they lie, they violate laws, and then they censor or threaten their critics (who sometimes merely point out the errors). Never forget that, using these lies, they have already posted bogus job advertisements for jobs that would never exist; surely there are disciplinary actions for such actions in some European countries?

The UPC is collapsing. It’s not hard to see that.

“They fabricate, they lie, they violate laws, and then they censor or threaten their critics (who sometimes merely point out the errors).”“Tempting to want to scrap the #UPC & start all over again,” Luke McDonagh wrote (in response to claims — from the patent microcosm in fact — that it’s time to bury the UPC), “but I’m not sure that’s more ‘realistic’ than simply launching the #UnifiedPatentCourt & making adaptations as it goes (e.g. post-Brexit). Reforming #patent enforcement in the EU/EPC has an agonising history!”

Who says that patent enforcement needs to be “reformed” at all (whatever that even means)?

“The UPC is collapsing. It’s not hard to see that.”“That’s just [a] textbook talking point of Team UPC,” I told him. “Ignores German UPC challenge, Unitary Patent Constitutional issues EU-wide, lack of desire among the general population (besieged by patent ‘industry’) and so on…”

Techrights published this criticism of censorship at Kluwer Patent Blog. Hours later Kluwer Patent Blog’s ‘damage control’ was published. It’s a blurb that says: “To streamline and keep the debate going, we have decided to limit the period to send in comments to 5 days after a post has been published.”

“Remember how Kluwer views its readers. It’s grotesque. They’re being lied to and then gagged (if they attempt to correct authors, typically during weekends when they know a challenge is less likely to come in a timely fashion, if at all).”That also comes with more filtering of comments. Remember how Kluwer views its readers. It’s grotesque. They’re being lied to and then gagged (if they attempt to correct authors, typically during weekends when they know a challenge is less likely to come in a timely fashion, if at all).

“You may have seen the new Kluwer moderation policy published,” one reader told us, “this is remarkable in itself.”

Links 22/1/2018: Linux 4.15 Delayed Again, Libinput 1.9.901

Monday 22nd of January 2018 10:34:11 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • This is Why you Must Consider Open-Source IoT Solutions

    The Internet of things is growing exponentially. Its applications are unique and that is one of the reasons that this technology has become renowned. Organizations are finding ways to utilize this technology for improving their workforce, while AI impacts IoT to create smarter applications. Making use of IoT seems to be costlier for companies who are still in their infancy phase. For companies like these, open-source IoT solutions have been created so that they too can reap the benefits of IoT as a technology.

  • Ellcrys is a Breath of Fresh Air for Open Source Collaborators

    Ellcrys is an up and coming blockchain network that aims to revolutionize the way developers work together. In addition to trying to revitalize collaborative efforts, the company has an ICO that promises to make the mining and distribution of its native cryptocurrency fairer and more accessible.

  • Genode OS Framework Making Plans For 2018

    The Genode open-source operating system framework project has shared some of their planned goals for 2018.

    Genode in 2018 is looking to advance their “Sculpt” general purpose system scenario for the operating system. Back during the Genode OS 17.11 release they described Sculpt as “the approach to start with a minimalistic generic live system that can be interactively shaped into a desktop scenario by the user without any reboot. This is made possible by combining Genode’s unique dynamic reconfiguration concept with the recently introduced package management, our custom GUI stack, and the many ready-to-use device-driver components that we developed over the past years.”

  • How Open Source, Crowdsourcing Aids HIT Development

    HIT development is important for health IT infrastructure growth as organizations continue to go through their digital transformations. Entities are interested in the most innovative and advanced technology to assist with increased workflows and improve patient care.

    Open source and crowdsourcing to improve innovation are key to quickly building on technology being developed for healthcare. This is especially true when it comes to newer technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain.

    Healthcare organizations and healthcare technology companies cannot simply wait around for advanced technology to develop around them.

  • Open source in the enterprise: Trends and opportunities in 2018

    Some big events are set to come in 2018 – the recently announced Royal Wedding, the football World Cup in Russia and the incoming general data protection regulation (GDPR) to name just a few. And 2018 is also set to be a significant year for business technology.

    Some of the key trends in enterprise IT will include the continued move to hybrid cloud, the emergence of the container infrastructure ecosystem and ongoing growth in software-defined infrastructure and storage.

    Most interestingly, we foresee a number of significant open source developments here. So what exactly should we expect to see? And how can IT teams make the most of these emerging opportunities?

  • Keeping an Irish home warm and free in winter

    This issue would also appear to fall under the scope of FSFE’s Public Money Public Code campaign.

    Looking at the last set of heating controls in the house, they have been there for decades. Therefore, I can’t help wondering, if I buy some proprietary black box today, will the company behind it still be around when it needs a software upgrade in future? How many of these black boxes have wireless transceivers inside them that will be compromised by security flaws within the next 5-10 years, making another replacement essential?

    With free and open technologies, anybody who is using it can potentially make improvements whenever they want. Every time a better algorithm is developed, if all the homes in the country start using it immediately, we will always be at the cutting edge of energy efficiency.

  • The Meaning of Open

    Open systems create gravity wells. Systems that are truly open tend to attract others to join them at an ever-accelerating pace. In ecosystems that are ruled by a despot no matter how successful other participants in the ecosystem are, they fundamentally just empower the despot to have more leverage over them, because they have more to lose and their success feeds the despot’s success. In open systems, on the contrary, participants see that they don’t have to fear their own success fueling their own increasing subservience to a despot. Each individual entity who can’t plausibly build their own similarly-sized proprietary ecosystem to compete — the overwhelming majority of entities — is incentivized to pitch in on the open ecosystem. Investment in an open ecosystem by any one entity helps the entire ecosystem as a whole. This fact, combined with the fact that ecosystems generally get exponentially more valuable the more participants there are, means that in many cases over sufficient time scales truly open ecosystems create gravity wells, sucking more and more into them until they are nearly universal.

  • French Gender-Neutral Translation for Roundcube

    Here’s a quick blog post to tell the world I’m now doing a French gender-neutral translation for Roundcube.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox 58.0 “Quantum” Arrives With Faster Page Load Speeds And Code Compilation

        In November 2017, Mozilla launched its Firefox 57 web browser that was also called Firefox Quantum. It was hailed as a strong competitor to powerful Chrome web browser and we conducted a comparison of both browsers to give you a better idea. But, the story doesn’t end here; Mozilla is continuing to improve its work to deliver better performance with each release.

      • Paying it forward at Global Diversity CFP Day

        A CFP is a “Call for Papers” or “Call for Proposals” – many technical and academic conferences discover and vet speakers and their talk topics through an open, deadline-driven, online proposal submission process. This CFP process provides a chance for anyone to pitch a talk and pitch themselves as the presenter. Submitting a CFP, and having your proposal accepted, is one great way to get a foot in the door if you’re just getting started as a new speaker. And, for some developers, public speaking can be the door to many types of opportunity.

      • Firefox Nightly

        Creating a Gnome Dock launcher and a terminal command for Firefox Nightly

        About 18 months ago, Wil Clouser wrote a blog post on the very blog titled Getting Firefox Nightly to stick to Ubuntu’s Unity Dock.

        Fast forward to 2018, Ubuntu announced last year that it is giving up on their Unity desktop and will use Gnome Shell instead. Indeed, the last Ubuntu 17.10 release uses Gnome Shell by default. That means that the article above is slightly outdated now as its .desktop file was targeting the Unity environment which had its own quirks.

      • Lantea Maps Updates to Track Saving and Drawing

        After my last post on Lantea Maps (my web app to record GPS tracks), I started working on some improvements to its code.

        First, I created a new backend for storing GPS tracks on my servers and integrated it into the web app. You need to log in via my own OAuth2 server, and then you can upload tracks fairly seamlessly and nicely.
        The UI for uploading is now also fully integrated into the track “drawer” which should make uploading tracks a smoother experience than previously. And as a helpful feature for people who use Lantea Maps on multiple devices, a device name can be configured via the settings “drawer”.

  • Funding
  • BSD
    • Some FreeBSD Users Are Still Running Into Random Lock-Ups With Ryzen

      While Linux has been playing happily with Ryzen CPUs as long as you weren’t affected by the performance marginality problem where you had to swap out for a newer CPU (and Threadripper and EPYC CPUs have been running splendid in all of my testing with not having any worries), it seems the BSDs (at least FreeBSD) are still having some quirks to address.

      This week on the FreeBSD mailing list has been another thread about Ryzen issues on FreeBSD. Some users are still encountering random lockups that do not correspond to any apparent load/activity on the system.

    • European LLVM Developers’ Meeting lands in Bristol

      It’s been announced that the LLVM European conference, will be coming to Bristol this April.

      Celebrating LLVM technologies and the developers who have contributed to them, LLVM is an open-source project that has benefitted some of the world’s most successful technology companies.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Programming/Development
    • Octogenarianhood

      2018 began for me with an absolutely incredible 80th birthday celebration called Knuth80, held in the delightful city of Piteå in northern Sweden. It’s impossible for me to thank adequately all of the wonderful people who contributed their time to making this event such a stunning success, certainly one of the greatest highlights of my life. Many of the happenings were also captured digitally in state-of-the-art audio and video, so that others will be able to share some of this joy. I’ll link to that data when it becomes available.

    • Celebrating Donald Knuth’s 80th Birthday

      Don suggests that some of the participants who have a little free time might like to look at a few conjectures about set partitions and generating functions that he has put online at http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~knuth/caspagf.txt

    • Tidyverse and data.table, sitting side by side … (Part 1)
    • Rcpp 0.12.15: Numerous tweaks and enhancements

      The fifteenth release in the 0.12.* series of Rcpp landed on CRAN today after just a few days of gestation in incoming/.

      This release follows the 0.12.0 release from July 2016, the 0.12.1 release in September 2016, the 0.12.2 release in November 2016, the 0.12.3 release in January 2017, the 0.12.4 release in March 2016, the 0.12.5 release in May 2016, the 0.12.6 release in July 2016, the 0.12.7 release in September 2016, the 0.12.8 release in November 2016, the 0.12.9 release in January 2017, the 0.12.10.release in March 2017, the 0.12.11.release in May 2017, the 0.12.12 release in July 2017, the 0.12.13.release in late September 2017, and the 0.12.14.release in November 2017 making it the nineteenth release at the steady and predictable bi-montly release frequency.

      Rcpp has become the most popular way of enhancing GNU R with C or C++ code. As of today, 1288 packages on CRAN depend on Rcpp for making analytical code go faster and further, along with another 91 in BioConductor.

    • My DeLorean runs Perl

      My signature hobby project these days is a computerized instrument cluster for my car, which happens to be a DeLorean. But, whenever I show it to someone, I usually have to give them a while to marvel at the car before they even notice that there’s a computer screen in the dashboard. There’s a similar problem when I start describing the software; programmers immediately get hung up on “Why Perl???” when they learn that the real-time OpenGL rendering of instrument data is all coded in Perl. So, any discussion of my project usually starts with the history of the DeLorean or a discussion of the merits of Perl vs. other, more-likely tools.

    • An overview of the Perl 5 engine

      As I described in “My DeLorean runs Perl,” switching to Perl has vastly improved my development speed and possibilities. Here I’ll dive deeper into the design of Perl 5 to discuss aspects important to systems programming.

  • Standards/Consortia
Leftovers
  • Should we consider adolescence to last until age 24?

    Thinking of adolescence as lasting until age 24 “corresponds more closely” to how the lives of young people today work, writes an expert in adolescent health.

    Compared to earlier generations, youth today are staying in school longer, marrying and having kids later, and buying a house later, writes Susan Sawyer, the chair of adolescent health at the University of Melbourne, in an op-ed published today in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. The transition period from childhood to adulthood lasts far beyond age 19, when it is popularly thought to end. As a result, she writes, we should change our policies and services to better serve this population.

    Sawyer is hardly the first to notice these lifestyle changes. In 2010, The New York Times published a much-read article about how the experience of being a 20-something is changing. As the piece noted, adolescence itself is a social construct, and a century ago there was no such thing. Researcher Jeffrey Jensen Arnett told the Times that, now, there is a stage of “emerging adulthood” — which essentially means being in your 20s but still feeling conflicted about “identity exploration, instability, self-focus, [and] feeling in-between.”

  • Science
    • Fast computer control for molecular machines

      Scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed a novel electric propulsion technology for nanorobots. It allows molecular machines to move a hundred thousand times faster than with the biochemical processes used to date. This makes nanobots fast enough to do assembly line work in molecular factories. The new research results will appear as the cover story on 19th January in the renowned scientific journal Science.

    • How a Small Nuclear Reactor Could Power a Colony on Mars or Beyond (Op-Ed)

      When we imagine sending humans to live on Mars, the moon or other planetary bodies in the not-so-distant future, a primary question is: How will we power their colony? Not only will they need energy to create a habitable environment, they’ll also need it to get back to Earth. For distant planetary bodies, like Mars, it’s inefficient to bring fuel for the trip home; it’s just too heavy. That means the astronauts need a power source to make liquid oxygen and propellant.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • US life expectancy just dropped for the second year in a row. Let’s stop the trend now

      U.S. gross domestic product is at an all-time high. U.S. life expectancy is not.

      Life expectancy has fallen for the second time in two years – from a high of 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.6 years in 2016. It fell for men and women, whites, blacks and Hispanics. Statistics show that thousands were preventable, premature deaths.

      Life expectancy is not supposed to fall in countries that are this rich, spend this much on health and pride themselves on taking care of each other. As a demographer working in a school of public health, I am astounded by the complacency at the loss of so many Americans in the prime of life.

    • Tom Petty died of accidental drug overdose, coroner says

      More than three months after rocker Tom Petty died, his official cause of death has been determined as an accidental drug overdose.

      Los Angeles County coroner spokesman Ed Winter confirmed Petty’s autopsy results, which were written by Chief of Coroner Investigations Brian Elias, in a statement to USA TODAY.

      Petty had a mixture of fentanyl, oxycodone, temazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetylfentanyl and despropionyl fentanyl in his system. The musician,66, was found unconscious and in cardiac arrest at his Malibu home on Oct. 3 and died at the UCLA Medical Center that evening.

    • First There Was Prince. Now Tom Petty. When Will America Finally Wake Up to the Opioid Crisis?

      When pop star Prince died in April 2016, a gaggle of health care researchers and reporters—including me—tried to see the silver lining in his surprising, opioid-linked death. If even Prince, a famous teetotaler with access to the best medical care, could end up addicted to painkillers, surely that would show that the opioid epidemic was reaching every corner of America. Maybe in death, his celebrity could illuminate the high stakes of the crisis and force a reckoning.

      We were very wrong. More than 55,000 Americans—rich, poor, famous and not—have since died from their own opioid overdoses. The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that the death rate in 2018 could be even worse. And Friday night’s news that rock star Tom Petty died from his own preventable painkiller overdose, more than a year after Prince, underscores how far there is to go.

  • Security
    • PC desktop build, Intel, spectre issues etc.

      Apart from the initial system bought, most of my systems when being changed were in the INR 20-25k/- budget including all and any accessories I bought later.

      The only real expensive parts I purchased have been external hdd ( 1 TB WD passport) and then a Viewsonic 17″ LCD which together sent me back by around INR 10k/- but both seem to give me adequate performance (both have outlived the warranty years) with the monitor being used almost 24×7 over 6 years or so, of course over GNU/Linux specifically Debian. Both have been extremely well value for the money.

      As I had been exposed to both the motherboards I had been following those and other motherboards as well. What was and has been interesting to observe what Asus did later was to focus more on the high-end gaming market while Gigabyte continued to dilute it energy both in the mid and high-end motherboards.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • RedHat reverts patches to mitigate Spectre Variant 2

      RedHat previously released patches to mitigate this issue, however, in a rather controversial move, has decided to roll back these changes after complaints about systems failing to boot with the new patches, and instead is now recommending that, “subscribers contact their CPU OEM vendor to download the latest microcode/firmware for their processor.”

    • Red Hat dumps Spectre CPU patches that brick servers

      Enterprise Linux vendor Red Hat will no longer distribute microcode patches to mitigate against the Spectre processor flaw after bugs in the patches stopped user systems from booting up.

      The company advised of its decision late last week after being alerted by its customers to problems with the patches.

      Red Hat is now reverting the microcode_ctl and linux-firmware packages it includes with its enterprise Linux distribution to older versions that are known to be stable.

      Microcode, also known as millicode and firmware, is software distributed by vendors to correct specific errors for processors.

    • ‘Jeopardy!’ champ hacked [sic] accounts of college president, vice president [iophk: "no cracking involved this was 100% the fault of the college and Google"]

      [...] and using a computer to commit a crime, both felonies. [...]

      Jass was able to access the accounts because of an April 24 issue with the college email system, hosted by Google. Hribar said there was network outage caused by loss of power.

      On April 25, users received a text message with a generic, standard passcode: “Please attempt to login to Gmail using this password. You should be prompted to change password after login…”

      Not everyone, however, was prompted to do so. Some did make the change using a tutorial. Some received an error and were unable to create a new password, the timeline states. Others did not alter the password at all. Neither Docking nor Caldwell immediately changed the password.

    • Health records firm badly hit by Windows ransomware

      A billion-dollar electronic health records company in Chicago is struggling to recover from an attack of a variant of the SamSam Windows ransomware.

    • Allscripts recovering from ransomware attack that has kept key tools offline

      In a conference call for customers on Saturday, which Salted Hash listened-in on, Allscripts’ Jeremy Maxwell, director of information security, said their PRO EHR and Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS) services were the hardest hit by the ransomware attack.

      Other services had availability issues as well, but those have since been restored, such as direct messaging and some CCDA functionality.

    • Android Bug Hunter Gets $112,500 Bounty From Google For Pixel Remote Exploit Chain
    • Beware! These “Forced” Chrome And Firefox Extensions Are Almost Impossible To Remove
  • Defence/Aggression
    • China Urges U.S. to Abandon ‘Cold War’ Mindset in Bilateral Ties

      China’s National Defense Ministry said the U.S. should abandon a “Cold War” mindset and view Chinese national security and military efforts “rationally and objectively.”

      The instigators of militarization of the South China Sea are “other countries” that don’t seem to want to see peace in the region and are using the banner of “navigational freedom” to undertake military activities in a tyrannical manner, ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said in a statement released late Saturday.

      The statement was in response to a U.S. Defense Department strategy report, released last week, that singled out China’s military modernization and expansion in the South China Sea as key threats to U.S. power. China has undertaken massive land reclamation in the contested waterway that hosts $5 trillion in trade a year, to strengthen its claim to more than 80 percent of the area. That has strained ties with other claimant states, such as Vietnam and the Philippines, as well as the U.S.

    • Symbolic Violence In Neoliberalism
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Pair of giant pandas arrive from China to Finland

      The four-and-a-half-year-old male panda, Pyry, did not lose his appetite on the 6,500-kilometre flight from China to Finland but munched on a bamboo stem upon his arrival at Helsinki Airport on Thursday, 18 January, 2018.

    • We’re about to kill a massive, accidental experiment in reducing global warming

      Studies have found that ships have a net cooling effect on the planet, despite belching out nearly a billion tons of carbon dioxide each year. That’s almost entirely because they also emit sulfur, which can scatter sunlight in the atmosphere and form or thicken clouds that reflect it away.

      In effect, the shipping industry has been carrying out an unintentional experiment in climate engineering for more than a century. Global mean temperatures could be as much as 0.25 ˚C lower than they would otherwise have been, based on the mean “forcing effect” calculated by a 2009 study that pulled together other findings (see “The Growing Case for Geoengineering”). For a world struggling to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 ˚C, that’s a big helping hand.

    • Here’s the reason we’d never halt a geoengineering project midway through

      If we can’t reduce greenhouse-gas emissions fast enough to ward off catastrophic climate change, geoengineering may offer a fallback plan. Serious researchers are increasingly exploring measures, such as spraying tiny particles into the air to reflect more sunlight back into space, that wouldn’t reduce emissions but could offset the rise in global temperatures.

      A study published January 22 in Nature Ecology & Evolution suggests this is a bad idea. If the world ever starts doing geoengineering, the study warns, it may be too dangerous to ever stop.

      The problem, explains the paper, is that deliberately cooling the planet would mask any additional warming produced by greenhouse gases. This means that if the world decided to stop geoengineering, say, 50 years later, the greenhouse effect that had built up during that time would warm the planet very rapidly.

  • Finance
    • EU Tells Apple It Still Has to Show Them the Money

      Ireland’s delay in extracting some 13 billion euros ($15.9 billion) in tax from Apple has already raised the ire of EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. The EU is taking the Irish government to court for failing to recoup the money. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said it will start collecting the tax bill in the second quarter. Any funds will be held in escrow while Ireland and Cupertino, California-based Apple fight the EU order at court.

    • UK: Office for Students spearheads privatisation and policing of universities

      As early as 2012, the BBC reported that the government had approved more than 400 degree and diploma courses at private universities, without checking the quality of courses offered or student completion rates. In the same year, the amount of money paid to private colleges through unregulated courses trebled to £100 million. The number of students on those courses doubled in the same period.

    • The Chinese think Palo Alto is dumpy

      Good news! The great Raw Water Story of 2017 is finally over. Google tells me that searches went up ten-fold over the raw water craze, but thankfully, humans seem to have filtered out any more stories or follow ups. Silicon Valley can rest easy.

      But wait! There is another crisis brewing, and it isn’t the animal fecal matter in your algae water.

      Over the past few days, we’ve seen the creation of a brand new genre of tech press article which might be called “the Chinese are really bored with Silicon Valley.”

    • Beijing Says U.S. Piracy List Lacks Objectivity, Relies on Third Parties

      Earlier in the week, Alibaba said it had become a “scapegoat” in “a highly-politicized environment” after being included on the latest list. It added that the Notorious Marketplaces list “is not about intellectual property protection, but just another instrument to achieve the U.S. government’s geopolitical objectives,” a reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to get tougher on China for what he sees as an imbalanced trade relationship.

    • Rise Of The Contract Workers: Work Is Different Now

      In an old metal-stamping factory that was once part of Wheeling, W.Va.’s industrial past, a law firm has set up a futuristic model for how to get legal work done. Unlike the old factory, it relies heavily on new kinds of work arrangements.

      “Contractors are hired by the hour,” says Daryl Shetterly, director of the Orrick firm’s analytics division. “So we might have 30 people working today, and tomorrow we might have 80.”

      Tenure for workers in the building used to be measured in decades. Now it might last a few days for the workers there today. While the building has had a facelift, Shetterly says, “it is a factory in that we work to drive efficiency and discipline into every mouse click.”

    • PFI – A Cautionary Tale

      Here is my personal experience of the great push for the public sector to use the Private Finance Initiative.

      When I was Deputy High Commissioner in Accra, the British government was paying a very large sum to rent over 80 residential properties in a city where rents are very high for quality properties. However the British government owned a lot of land there, and it was an obvious saving to build our own residential compound.

      We accordingly drew up plans and got quotes, which were submitted to the FCO with details of the very substantial savings from the medium term. The response was that we had to invite private sector bids for a PFI scheme. This amounted to no more than asking the companies who had already submitted construction bids to submit pre-financing and maintenance plans. Needless to say this increased costs very substantially.

      But here is the kicker – in comparing the “build it ourselves” plan with the PFI plan, we were instructed to give an 8% cost advantage to the PFI scheme – the “public sector comparator” – to allow for the extra efficiency of the private sector. No matter we were comparing real costs to real costs, somehow magically an 8% saving would accrue from using the private sector, in a manner the Treasury refused to define. I simply shelved the whole scheme in disgust, but I understand this “efficiency saving” allowance was a standard feature of the PFI scam.

    • In 4 Days, Top CEOs Paid More than Bangladesh Garment Workers Life Earnings

      A CEO from one of the world’s top five global fashion brands – including Zara’s parent company Inditex – has to work for just four days to earn what a garment worker in Bangladesh will earn in an entire lifetime, campaigning group Oxfam International said Monday. In the run-up to the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Oxfam has sought to put inequality at the heart of this week’s deliberations of the rich and powerful.

      “The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system,” said Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International’s executive director. “The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited to ensure a steady supply of cheap goods, and swell the profits of corporations and billionaire investors.”

    • Reskilling Revolution Needed for the Millions of Jobs at Risk Due to Technological Disruption

      The global economy faces a reskilling crisis with 1.4 million jobs in the US alone vulnerable to disruption from technology and other factors by 2026, according to a new report, Towards a Reskilling Revolution: A Future of Jobs for All, published today by the World Economic Forum.

      The report is an analysis of nearly 1,000 job types across the US economy, encompassing 96% of employment in the country. Its aim is to assess the scale of the reskilling task required to protect workforces from an expected wave of automation brought on by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

    • Massive cost overruns threaten to derail the bullet train. Here’s what has to change

      Over the next year, Brown, the Legislature and the next governor will have to decide whether to create new revenue sources, dramatically delay its construction or scale it far back from a complete 550-mile system, among other possibilities.

      “The financial demand for this is so enormous,” said Martin Wachs, a UCLA transportation expert and a member of a peer review panel that oversees the project. “We should have been more ready for this. The costs always rise and the schedule always slips, but that doesn’t mean the project isn’t justified.”

      The rail authority last week named a new chief, longtime government executive and political insider Brian Kelly, who faces a big task to shore up the rail authority, restore the confidence of skeptical officials and fix a broad range of management, financial and political problems facing the authority across the state.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Facebook Wants to Open Special ‘Community Skills Hubs’ in Europe and Train a Million People

      Facebook also committed to having trained one million people and business owners by 2020.

    • President Trump made 2,140 false or misleading claims in his first year

      One year after taking the oath of office, President Trump has made 2,140 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president. That’s an average of nearly 5.9 claims a day.

      We started this project as part of our coverage of the president’s first 100 days, largely because we could not possibly keep up with the pace and volume of the president’s misstatements. Readers demanded we keep it going for another year. The database has proved so useful — and even sparked the interest of academicians — that we now plan to keep it going for the rest of Trump’s presidency.

      Our interactive graphic, created with the help of Leslie Shapiro and Kaeti Hinck of The Post graphics department, displays a running list of every false or misleading statement made by Trump. We also catalogued the president’s many flip-flops, since those earn Upside-Down Pinocchios if a politician shifts position on an issue without acknowledging he or she did so.

    • Farewell, unpaid blogger: HuffPost drops free contributor platform that drove its growth

      The news was broken by HuffPost itself (which, like TechCrunch, is part of Oath, owned by gigantic carrier Verizon), which directly tied the move to the changing tides (not Tide Pods, although I personally think there is a connection) in the world of news media and how technology is used to distribute it.

    • HuffPost, Breaking From Its Roots, Ends Unpaid Contributions
    • Why Facebook has abandoned news for the important business of trivia

      Note the impersonality of all this. Somehow, this pestilential content has “exploded” on Facebook. Which is odd, is it not, given that nothing appears in a user’s news feed that isn’t decided by Facebook? What was actually going on, of course, was that the company’s algorithms explicitly selected the aforesaid objectionable content and displayed it, in order to ensure the continued growth of Facebook’s advertising revenues. The company’s annual results are due at the end of this month and will doubtless demonstrate the astonishing profitability of polluting the news feed in this way.

    • Facebook is done with quality journalism. Deal with it.

      For Facebook, journalism has been a pain in the neck from day one. Now, bogged down with the insoluble problems of fake news and bad PR, it’s clear that Facebook will gradually pull the plug on news. Publishers should stop whining and move on.

    • US Politics: Year 1 of President Trump aka Record Chaos: the Early Years. Oh and a Shutdown

      Let us take a look at US politics. (This blog article has nothing to do with our regular topics in mobile, tech & media). So I told you back in the summer of 2015, that the 2016 election cycle would be epic, and that for that reason, I would do articles about it. And boy did that year and a half deliver. The most drama-filled and wild circus in politics culminating in Hillary Clinton winning three million more votes than Trump, but due to US Presidential Election rules, Trump became President (there was no fraud, it is just that many of Hillary’s votes were grouped in states that she had ‘already won’ so Trump’s votes were more cleverly spread-out across more states. This is not the first time that the guy with less votes became President in the USA, only that Hillary’s was the biggest margin by far. Yes, she got 3 MILLION more votes than Trump. For context Finland total population is only 5.5 million). (PS this is another of my ‘long’ articles. Is about 10,000 words or about one chapter-length from one of my hardcover books. It will take you about half an hour to read, go get a good cup of coffee first before you start. But if you are interested in US politics, this will be worth your while.)

      After the election I felt it inappropriate to continue my snide remarks and ridiculing of Trump because he had won, fair and square, and had not even taken office. I wanted to give him a fair shake and the benefit of the doubt. It was theoretically possible that Trump would be a good or efficent President, and that maybe his election politics ‘persona’ was just weird. I don’t care if the President has infidelities (Bill Clinton) or speaks weirdly (Daddy Bush) or can’t pronounce ‘nuclear’ (W Bush), or is of different color than me (Obama) it is the results of the Presidency that count. So I wanted to give Trump a chance. The President’s term in the USA is 4 years, so now we have exactly the 1 year anniversary of his term (he started in January, not election day in November) and we have a record. One quarter of his time is done (of the first term, he could win re-election and get a second 4 years of course). And boy has this been a circus, even more wild than the election.

    • I’ve Got Another Nut Job Here Who Thinks He’s Running Things”: Are Trump and Kelly Heading for Divorce?

      Donald Trump’s relationship with John Kelly, his chief of staff, fraught from the beginning, may finally have gone past the point of no return. Two prominent Republicans in frequent contact with the White House told me that Trump has discussed choosing Kelly’s successor in recent days, asking a close friend what he thought about David Urban, a veteran Washington lobbyist and political operative who helped engineer Trump’s victory in Pennsylvania. Ivanka is also playing a central role in the search, quietly field-testing ideas with people. “Ivanka is the most worried about it. She’s trying to figure who replaces Kelly,” a person who’s spoken with her said.

      Kelly’s departure likely isn’t imminent, sources said. “He wants to stay longer than Reince [Priebus],” an outside adviser said. Trump can also hardly afford another high-level staff departure, which would trigger days of negative news cycles. “This could be like [Jeff] Sessions,” one of the Republicans explained, referring to Trump’s festering frustration about not being able to replace his attorney general.

    • NAFTA is close to falling apart with time running out

      Round 6 of the renegotiation of NAFTA, the pact between Mexico, Canada and the U.S., starts Tuesday in Montreal, Canada.

      No major progress has been made on key issues through the first five rounds. Only one more round after this week is scheduled, and Trump continues to repeat his threat that if he doesn’t get the deal he wants, he’ll withdraw.

      “It’s going to be the decisive round,” says Scott Sinclair, senior fellow at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

    • Reinventing Represent

      We asked readers to help us reconceive and redesign an interactive database that tracks Congress.

    • The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!

      The complete and unmitigated irrationality of the current epidemic of Russophobia does nothing to reduce its incredible virulence, as it continues to infect the entire political and media class. There is a zero chance that Russia will launch an attack on the UK, yet the entire corporate and state media is leading today with the “need” to spend billions against that most unlikely threat, as propounded by General Nutty McNutter.

      Researching Sikunder Burnes gave me crucial insights into the recurrence of Russophobia as a key element of British politics for two centuries, despite the fact historians can demonstrate that at no stage in that period has Russia ever planned an attack on the UK, or seriously considered it as an option. But the current Russophobia has new elements.

      We are currently in some sort of crisis of capitalism, as the concentration of wealth continues apace and the general population of western countries increasingly feel insecure, exploited and alienated. It is still very hard for voices that reject the neo-liberal establishment view to get a media platform, but Russia does provide comparatively small platforms in the West – like Russia Today and Radio Sputnik – which allow greater democratic freedom than western media in the range of views they invite to be expressed. So the ultra-wealthy, their politician servants and media lackeys view Russia as some kind of threat to the dominance of neo-liberalism .

      There are a number of ironies to this, not least the very real deficiencies in Russia’s domestic democracy and media plurality, and the fact Russia has an even worse oligarchic capitalism than the West and has a 1% completely integrated with their Western counterparts. But despite these ironies, the Western 1% perceive Russia as some sort of threat to their dominance. This leads in to the intellectually risible attempts to prove that Russia somehow “fixed” Trump’s election, for which no solid evidence can ever be adduced as it did not happen; but nevertheless vast resources continue to be spent in trying.

    • A Coming Russia-Ukraine War?

      A new draft law adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament and awaiting Petro Poroshenko’s signature threatens to escalate the Ukrainian conflict into a full-blown war, pitting nuclear-armed Russia against the United States and NATO, reports Gilbert Doctorow.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Why Hiring Sensitivity Readers Isn’t Supporting Censorship

      The first time I read a book starring a main character who looked like me, I was in high school. The book is titled “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Saenz, focusing on two teenage Mexican-American boys and their budding relationship. Saenz depicts two different aspects of the incredibly varied experience Latinx people can have in the United States through his principal characters.

      What surprised me the most about the novel was how intensely I related to Dante’s experience — he often felt disconnected from his extended family: neither Mexican enough for his cousins nor American enough for his friends at his new school. Dante articulated thoughts in his letters to Ari that I had never been able to on my own. It was life-changing.

    • ‘Indirect censorship, rightwing agenda’, journalists react to Hoot report

      Kashmir was the most muzzled place in India, said a report, The Indian Freedom Report: Media Freedom and Freedom of Expression in 2017, by media watchdog, The Hoot.

      The internet was disconnected 77 times in the entire country last year, 40 times in Kashmir alone, the report said. Kashmir fared badly on other parameters too.

      For veteran journalist Yusuf Jameel, there is no official censorship as such but the authorities create circumstances in which journalists find it difficult, impossible sometimes, to carry out their professional work.

      “For instance, they impose curfew and they don’t issue curfew passes, and if passes are issued they are not honored by the forces,” he said.

    • Censorship Office: Respect Starts at Home

      The Office of Censorship censors all films viewed in public places, or sold in video shops.

      Lovelyn Douglas, Enforcement & Compliance Director from the Office of Censorship, said parents must also be responsible for what they allow their children to view.

      In an exclusive interview with EMTV, the Office of Censorship allowed EMTV News a sneak peek into the process of film Censorship.

    • Student journalists testify for Missouri bill that would protect them from official censorship

      The “New Voices” movement seeks to protect student media from official censorship in public schools by codifying their rights in state laws.

      The effort has foundered twice before in Missouri, the setting for a 1988 Supreme Court decision that blessed censorship of K-12 student media and has also been used to censor college students.

    • Lebanon Decides Against Censorship of Spielberg Film

      The Post, a critically acclaimed American film about The Washington Post’s coverage of the 1971 Pentagon Papers, was banned in Lebanon due to director Steven Spielberg’s outward support of Israel.

    • Samourai Wallet Introduces Bitcoin via SMS Text Message for Censorship Resistance

      Bitcoin privacy wallet pioneers Samourai Wallet have announced a new proprietary app called Pony Direct, a transaction payment method (or to act as a relay) to send bitcoin via short message service (SMS), popularly used for texting. It’s a creative way to improve upon censorship resistance.

    • Palantir: The PayPal-offshoot Becomes a Weapon in the War Against Whistleblowers and WikiLeaks

      Peter Thiel, who once compared writers at Gawker to Al Qaeda after they wrote about his sexuality, is a close confidant of Donald Trump — who, as president, continues to crack down on whistleblowers (even denying them bail) and whose administration has named arresting WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange a top priority.

      [...]

      Palantir began at PayPal as an antifraud algorithm that detected “unusual account activity.” However, following September 11, PayPal co-founder Thiel theorized it could be used to look for “terrorists.” He, along with his long-time associate Alex Karp, decided to name their offshoot company, which was based around the algorithm, after the all-seeing crystal from The Lord of the Rings. It was launched in 2004, two years after PayPal was acquired by eBay’s Pierre Omidyar.

      Upon launching, Palantir was largely funded by Thiel himself as well as by In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA – an agency also connected to Pierre Omidyar. Since its founding, Thiel has long had a hand in how Palantir is run and currently serves as its chairman. As of 2015, PayPal employees still composed 80 percent of Palantir’s management team.

    • U.S. Sanctions Abet Iranian Internet Censorship

      President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement if Tehran does not agree to renegotiate its terms this spring. But rather than tear up the nuclear agreement, the Trump administration should work to support the next #IranProtests — which would be far more likely to bring change to Tehran than would a U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

      Over the past several weeks, Iranian repression and internet censorship have stifled the widespread protests that, beginning late last month, shook Iranian politics and drew global support. Rapidly escalating events caught many in Washington off-guard and struggling to find opportunities to assist the protesters — an all too common pattern when it comes to Iran. But the underlying tensions that drew the protestors into the streets — low wages, unemployment, and government corruption — remain. Now is the time for the Trump administration to ensure that the United States will be prepared when Iranians come back out to demand change.

    • Europe Moves Ahead With Internet Censorship Enforcement As More Platforms Join
    • Mickey Huff Of Project Censored: A Year Into Post-Truth Presidency
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Take a former NSA head hacker, a Raspberry Pi, weird Kiwi radios and what do you get?

      The news that Rob Joyce, former head of the NSA’s elite hacking squad and now White House cybersecurity coordinator, was giving a talk at the Shmoocon infosec conference raised hopes he would offer up some juicy insights into the surveillance state or Donald Trump’s cyber policies.

      Instead Joyce talked about his very unusual hobby: uber-geek grade Christmas lights.

    • ‘NSA Reigns Supreme’ in Voice Recognition, Intercept Reports

      Citing documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, a report by The Intercept on Friday reveals that the agency has used highly refined voice recognition software for more than a decade. The software was instrumental in identifying former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who went into hiding after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the report says.

    • US renews NSA’s internet surveillance programme
    • Donald Trump signs bill to renew NSA’s controversial spying law
    • Stop Calling It “Incidental” Collection of Americans’ Emails: The Gov’t’s Renewed Surveillance Powers

      Now that the President has signed legislation reauthorizing the use of surveillance powers, it is important to reflect on how the terms of the public debate likely skewed public understanding of the privacy interests at stake. This is not simply an exercise in reflection on the past. It is also important to understand what powers have been handed this administration under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)—especially as questions will continue to be raised about the use and abuse of these powers. The language of the public debate has obscured the ways in which the law allows the government to acquire Americans’ communications without a warrant.

    • Cameroon has been putting the [I]nternet back on in its Anglophone regions for diplomatic visitors

      Since Jan. 17, 2017, the [I]nternet in Cameroon’s South West and North West regions has been completely off or severely slowed down for a total of 206 days as of Jan. 19 this year, according to Internet Sans Frontieres.

    • Never accept an MDM policy on your personal phone

      As you can see, once an MDM Policy is installed on your personal phone, your phone is no longer yours.

    • Nineteen Eighty-Four and India’s Severe Case of ‘Aadhaaritis’

      A fantastical view of the stupidities, fallacies, misconceptions, whims and fancies regarding Aadhaar.

    • NSA “Sincerely Regrets” Deleting All Bush-Era Surveillance Data It Was Ordered To Preserve

      Since 2007, the NSA has been under court orders to preserve data about certain of its surveillance efforts that came under legal attack following disclosures that President George W. Bush ordered warrantless wiretapping of international communications after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. In addition, the agency has made a series of representations in court over the years about how it is complying with its duties.

      However, the NSA told U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in a filing on Thursday night and another little-noticed submission last year that the agency did not preserve the content of [I]nternet communications intercepted between 2001 and 2007 under the program Bush ordered. To make matters worse, backup tapes that might have mitigated the failure were erased in 2009, 2011 and 2016, the NSA said.

    • The end of passwords? Swedes embrace biometric login

      The technology [sic] magazine PC för alla’s annual password study found that nearly every second Swede uses their body to log on to their smartphones, tablets or computers. Of the magazine’s 5,000 respondents, almost half said they use some kind of biometric login such as their fingerprint or face.

    • Inside Amazon’s surveillance-powered no-checkout convenience store

      On the philosophical side, I’m troubled, of course — a convenience store you just walk out of is a friendly mask on the face of a highly controversial application of technology: ubiquitous personal surveillance.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Report Shows US Law Enforcement Routinely Engages In Parallel Construction

      A long report by Human Rights Watch delves into the secretive world behind the evidence given in criminal cases. Multiple law enforcement entities are making use of DEA tips to build cases and secure convictions, but they’re burying the original evidence using parallel construction, whitewashing it of possible Fourth Amendment violations.

      Parallel construction is nothing new. The DEA has been a long-time participant in the practice. Documents obtained by C.J. Ciaramella in 2014 included training materials laying out explicit directions for hiding the origin of questionably-obtained intelligence. The DEA has had full access to domestic phone records thanks to the Hemisphere program. Records obtained via this legally-dubious method have been passed on to local law enforcement agencies with instructions to obscure the origin of “new” criminal investigations.

      The FBI has also encouraged parallel construction, most notably with the non-disclosure agreements its forces local agencies to sign before acquiring cell tower spoofers. Agencies are told to keep info about Stingray devices out of court at all costs — up to and including dismissing charges. Consequently, Stingray deployments have been hidden behind ping requests and pen register orders, preventing courts from examining the origin of the evidence for Constitutional issues and preventing defendants from challenging the legality of the evidence used against them.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • FCC Backs Off Plan to Weaken Broadband Definition, But Still Can’t Admit Limited Competition Is A Problem

      You might recall that a few years ago the FCC under Tom Wheeler bumped the standard definition of broadband to 25 Mbps downstream, 3 Mbps upstream. This greatly upset the broadband industry (and the numerous lawmakers and policy flacks paid to love them) because it highlighted a lack of broadband competition and deployment. That’s especially true at higher speeds, where two-thirds of the U.S. lacks access to more than one ISP at that speed.

      But recently, the FCC under industry BFF Ajit Pai began playing around with the idea of weakening this definition. Under Pai’s plan, the FCC would have declared that 10 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up wireless also counts as “broadband competition,” letting the industry effectively say “mission accomplished.” The problem is that wireless is often more expensive, capped (especially in rural areas), and inconsistently available (carrier coverage maps are notoriously unreliable).

      Fortunately, the FCC last week stated that for some, unspecified reason they’d be backing away from the plan. Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the FCC to continually assess whether broadband is being deployed on a “reasonable and timely basis,” and if not — to do something about it. While the FCC hasn’t released its full assessment yet, Pai ponied up a statement (pdf) last week that makes it clear that Pai believes everything is going swimmingly in the broadband market, thanks largely to his front assault on consumer protections like net neutrality…

    • Wehe: This App Tells If Your ISP Is Violating Net Neutrality Or Not

      Now that net neutrality in the US is moving towards its extinction, the internet providers have become free of the limitations of keeping the internet equal for websites. Although it might not be much visible currently, it’s possible for the internet providers to regulate the internet speed for websites as per their will.

      If you think you have trust issues with your internet provider, an app created by the researchers from Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts might be able to help you out. Known as Wehe, the app can tell you whether your ISP is throttling speeds or blocking some websites.

  • DRM/Showbiz
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Image rights and the unauthorized use of one’s own portrait on cigarette packs

        This question may have different answers, depending on both the context in which the relevant image is used and the legal system considered. With particular regard to the latter, in countries that envisage ‘image rights’ (or publicity rights), the availability of protection may be even irrespective of the context in which one’s own image is being used.

        [...]

        Newspapers do not report whether Plescia’s case has come to an end, but it seems quite incredible – if true – that one could be photographed without their authorization and the resulting image could be included in the Directive’s picture library and subsequently used for combined health warnings without obtaining all necessary permissions.

        In this sense, Plescia’s case is a useful reminder that, when it comes to using third-party images, wannabe users should not be just concerned about copyright issues (including the non-assignable moral rights of the author of the photograph), but also the rights of the person(s) portrayed in the photograph.

      • Julia Reda-Led Panel Discussion Reveals – Publishers’ Right Faces High Resistance From Academic Circles

        As in the case of Justitia holding up a set of scales and sword, the European Commission again pulled out their sword of justice recently to balance inequalities in our increasingly knowledge-based economies. In light of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy, the European Commission presented on 14 September 2016 a legislative initiative to further harmonise the EU copyright framework taking into account the increasing digital and cross-border uses of protected content.

        Every time new technology and innovative creations take shape in the marketplace, copyright law as the mirror of a balanced compromise between the rights and interests of the copyright owner and the general public has to provide adequate answers. In order to enable balance to be maintained for all stakeholders in a dispute, the legislator has the choice to answer on two levels.This is either through turning the scales to the more strict, traditional side and thereby remaining a strong position for the copyright owners so that new creations fall outside the definition of copyrighted work, which can if applied too strictly, risk stifling creativity. Or he can allow an open-minded approach by, for example, extending the exception catalogue, which then in turn can jeopardize the interests of already existing copyright owners – a continuously delicate operation since creating copyright law either on the national, European or international level.

      • Kim Dotcom sues New Zealand government for damages

        Kim Dotcom, the founder of file-sharing site Megaupload, is suing the New Zealand government for billions of dollars in damages over his arrest in 2012.
        The internet entrepreneur is fighting extradition to the US to stand trial for copyright infringement and fraud.
        Mr Dotcom says an invalid arrest warrant negated all charges against him.
        He is seeking damages for destruction to his business and loss of reputation.
        Accountants calculate that the Megaupload group of companies would be worth $10bn (£7.2bn) today, had it not been shut down during the raid.

      • Kim Dotcom Sues Government for ‘Billions’ Over Erroneous Arrest

        Kim Dotcom is seeking billions of dollars in damages from the New Zealand Government over an invalid arrest warrant. The entrepreneur accuses the authorities of negligence and misfeasance, which resulted in the destruction of the highly profitable Megaupload service.

      • Copyright Trolls Obtained Details of 200,000 Finnish Internet Users

        In general terms, Finland was targeted by copyright trolls fairly late in the day, during 2013. But according to information compiled by an NGO activist, they’re certainly making up for lost time. Since December 2013, the Market Court has ordered local ISPs to hand over the personal details of more than 200,000 Internet users, so that copyright trolls can pursue them for cash settlements.

      • China Seriously Doubts Objectivity of US ‘Pirate Site’ List

        Every year the US Government pinpoints some of the largest piracy websites and other copyright-infringing venues. The USTR calls on foreign countries to take appropriate action in response, but not all are convinced of the objectivity of the “notorious markets” list. China’s commerce ministry, for one, notes that the US claims lack conclusive evidence and relevant data.

More in Tux Machines

today's leftovers

  • MX Linux Review of MX-17 – For The Record
    MX Linux Review of MX-17. MX-17 is a cooperative venture between the antiX and former MEPIS Linux communities. It’s XFCE based, lightning fast, comes with both 32 and 64-bit CPU support…and the tools. Oh man, the tools available in this distro are both reminders of Mepis past and current tech found in modern distros.
  • Samsung Halts Android 8.0 Oreo Rollouts for Galaxy S8 Due to Unexpected Reboots
    Samsung stopped the distribution of the Android 8.0 Oreo operating system update for its Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones due to unexpected reboots reported by several users. SamMobile reported the other day that Samsung halted all Android 8.0 Oreo rollouts for its Galaxy S8/S8+ series of Android smartphones after approximately a week since the initial release. But only today Samsung published a statement to inform user why it stopped the rollouts, and the cause appears to be related to a limited number of cases of unexpected reboots after installing the update.
  • Xen Project Contributor Spotlight: Kevin Tian
    The Xen Project is comprised of a diverse set of member companies and contributors that are committed to the growth and success of the Xen Project Hypervisor. The Xen Project Hypervisor is a staple technology for server and cloud vendors, and is gaining traction in the embedded, security and automotive space. This blog series highlights the companies contributing to the changes and growth being made to the Xen Project and how the Xen Project technology bolsters their business.
  • Initial Intel Icelake Support Lands In Mesa OpenGL Driver, Vulkan Support Started
    A few days back I reported on Intel Icelake patches for the i965 Mesa driver in bringing up the OpenGL support now that several kernel patch series have been published for enabling these "Gen 11" graphics within the Direct Rendering Manager driver. This Icelake support has been quick to materialize even with Cannonlake hardware not yet being available.
  • LunarG's Vulkan Layer Factory Aims To Make Writing Vulkan Layers Easier
    Introduced as part of LunarG's recent Vulkan SDK update is the VLF, the Vulkan Layer Factory. The Vulkan Layer Factory aims to creating Vulkan layers easier by taking care of a lot of the boilerplate code for dealing with the initialization, etc. This framework also provides for "interceptor objects" for overriding functions pre/post API calls for Vulkan entry points of interest.

Logstash 6.2.0 Released, Alfresco Grabbed by Private Equity Firm

  • Logstash 6.2.0 Release Improves Open Source Data Processing Pipeline
    The "L" in the ELK stack gets updated with new features including advanced security capabilities. Many modern enterprises have adopted the ELK (Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana) stack to collect, process, search and visualize data. At the core of the ELK stack is the open-source Logstash project which defines itself as a server-side data processing pipeline - basically it helps to collect logs and then send them to a users' "stash" for searching, which in many cases is Elasticsearch.
  • Alfresco Software acquired by Private Equity Firm
    Enterprise apps company taken private in a deal that won't see a change in corporate direction. Alfresco has been developing its suite of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Business Process Management (BPM) technology since the company was founded back in June of 2005. On Feb. 8, Alfresco announced that it was being acquired by private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL). Financial terms of the deal are not being publicly disclosed.

Servers and GPUs: Theano, DevOps, Kubernetes, AWS

  • Open Source Blockchain Computer Theano
    TigoCTM CEO Cindy Zimmerman says “we are excited to begin manufacturing our secure, private and open source desktops at our factory in the Panama Pacifico special economic zone. This is the first step towards a full line of secure, blockchain-powered hardware including desktops, servers, laptops, tablets, teller machines, and smartphones.” [...] Every component of each TigoCTM device is exhaustively researched and selected for its security profile based especially on open source hardware, firmware, and software. In addition, devices will run the GuldOS operating system, and open source applications like the Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dash blockchains. This fully auditable stack is ideal for use in enterprise signing environments such as banks and investment funds.
  • Enterprises identify 10 essential tools for DevOps [Ed: "Source code repository" and other old things co-opted to promote the stupid buzzword "devops"]
    Products branded with DevOps are everywhere, and the list of options grows every day, but the best DevOps tools are already well-known among enterprise IT pros.
  • The 4 Major Tenets of Kubernetes Security
    We look at security from the perspective of containers, Kubernetes deployment itself and network security. Such a holistic approach is needed to ensure that containers are deployed securely and that the attack surface is minimized. The best practices that arise from each of the above tenets apply to any Kubernetes deployment, whether you’re self-hosting a cluster or employing a managed service. We should note that there are related security controls outside of Kubernetes, such as the Secure Software Development Life Cycle (S-SDLC) or security monitoring, that can help reduce the likelihood of attacks and increase the defense posture. We strongly urge you to consider security across the entire application lifecycle rather than take a narrow focus on the deployment of containers with Kubernetes. However, for the sake of brevity, in this series, we will only cover security controls within the immediate Kubernetes environment.
  • GPUs on Google’s Kubernetes Engine are now available in open beta
    The Google Kubernetes Engine (previously known as the Google Container Engine and GKE) now allows all developers to attach Nvidia GPUs to their containers. GPUs on GKE (an acronym Google used to be quite fond of, but seems to be deemphasizing now) have been available in closed alpha for more than half a year. Now, however, this service is in beta and open to all developers who want to run machine learning applications or other workloads that could benefit from a GPU. As Google notes, the service offers access to both the Tesla P100 and K80 GPUs that are currently available on the Google Cloud Platform.
  • AWS lets users run SAP apps directly on SUSE Linux
  • SUSE collaborates with Amazon Web Services toaccelerate SAP migrations

Chrome and Firefox

  • The False Teeth of Chrome's Ad Filter.
    Today Google launched a new version of its Chrome browser with what they call an "ad filter"—which means that it sometimes blocks ads but is not an "ad blocker." EFF welcomes the elimination of the worst ad formats. But Google's approach here is a band-aid response to the crisis of trust in advertising that leaves massive user privacy issues unaddressed. Last year, a new industry organization, the Coalition for Better Ads, published user research investigating ad formats responsible for "bad ad experiences." The Coalition examined 55 ad formats, of which 12 were deemed unacceptable. These included various full page takeovers (prestitial, postitial, rollover), autoplay videos with sound, pop-ups of all types, and ad density of more than 35% on mobile. Google is supposed to check sites for the forbidden formats and give offenders 30 days to reform or have all their ads blocked in Chrome. Censured sites can purge the offending ads and request reexamination. [...] Some commentators have interpreted ad blocking as the "biggest boycott in history" against the abusive and intrusive nature of online advertising. Now the Coalition aims to slow the adoption of blockers by enacting minimal reforms. Pagefair, an adtech company that monitors adblocker use, estimates 600 million active users of blockers. Some see no ads at all, but most users of the two largest blockers, AdBlock and Adblock Plus, see ads "whitelisted" under the Acceptable Ads program. These companies leverage their position as gatekeepers to the user's eyeballs, obliging Google to buy back access to the "blocked" part of their user base through payments under Acceptable Ads. This is expensive (a German newspaper claims a figure as high as 25 million euros) and is viewed with disapproval by many advertisers and publishers.
  • Going Home
  • David Humphrey: Edge Cases
  • Experiments in productivity: the shared bug queue
    Over the next six months, Mozilla is planning to switch code review tools from mozreview/splinter to phabricator. Phabricator has more modern built-in tools like Herald that would have made setting up this shared queue a little easier, and that’s why I paused…briefly
  • Improving the web with small, composable tools
    Firefox Screenshots is the first Test Pilot experiment to graduate into Firefox, and it’s been surprisingly successful. You won’t see many people talking about it: it does what you expect, and it doesn’t cover new ground. Mozilla should do more of this.