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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 hour 8 min ago

Keltie LLP Advertises Dodging Patent Rules (Software Patents) and Dodging Tax

Friday 27th of October 2017 08:44:59 AM

Summary: A true testament to the sordid state of sites which claim to cover patent matters but are actually false marketing disguised as “news” or “advice”

THERE are many legal firms out there that are hungry/hunting for feuds, threats, and litigation. An industry where companies coexist with one another and avert conflict isn’t one that’s profitable to lawyers.

“An industry where companies coexist with one another and avert conflict isn’t one that’s profitable to lawyers.”Keltie was mentioned here a lot lately, typically in relation to the EPO and the UPC. A month ago it amplified EPO talking points, earlier this year it spread "fake news" about the UPC, and a year ago we also mentioned it in relation to the UPC. On few other occasions we took note of it pushing the UPC agenda.

“How much did they pay for this ‘article’ to be published? They certainly did not get paid for such bogus ‘journalism’.”Yesterday we saw Keltie LLP’s Mark Richardson publishing this advertisement in the form of an ‘article’ titled “Here’s 10 facts about Intellectual Property” (these are not facts).

Putting aside the use of the misleading term “Intellectual Property” (the headline also says “New to IP?”), the article is so focused on shameless self-promotion that it ends up promoting tax loopholes/evasion (we wrote a lot about Patent Boxes) and software patents. Here are just these two examples of false statements that end up inviting business (based on false claims):

8) Software patents

There is a popular misconception that software related inventions (or “computer-implemented inventions”) cannot be patented. Don’t believe the hype! While it is true that there may be additional issues to consider compared to hardware based inventions, whether or not a software based invention is patentable may not be obvious. Our advice would be to check with a patent attorney if you have something, even if it is embodied in software, that is new and solves a problem.

9) Patent Box

Patents might be able to reduce your UK corporation tax liability. In April 2013 the UK government introduced a lower effective corporation tax rate (10% by 2017) on profits attributable to UK or European patents. This is a complex area but a quick assessment (less than an hour) can be made to see if the patent box regime might be beneficial to your company. Contact us for further details.

Yeah; “Contact us for further details.”

“Sadly, this is the sort of garbage that gets picked up by news search.”Because it’s all about them charging by the hour. How much did they pay for this ‘article’ to be published? They certainly did not get paid for such bogus ‘journalism’.

Sadly, this is the sort of garbage that gets picked up by news search. This is why people aren’t getting accurate information about patents, the EPO, the UPC and so on. It’s all just agenda, which happens to revolve around pure greed.

Links 27/10/2017: Kinect is Dead, SciPy Reaches 1.0

Friday 27th of October 2017 07:43:50 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Fon joins prpl Foundation to accelerate open-source innovation for the Digital Home and Carrier WiFi

    The prpl Foundation, an open-source, community-driven, not-for-profit consortium with a focus enabling the security and interoperability of embedded devices for the smart society of the future, has today announced that Fon has joined the Foundation. As the world’s leading WiFi software company, Fon joins prpl to accelerate the development of a common, open-source-based software framework which will enable deployment of new carrier services for the digital home and carrier WiFi hotspots.

  • Vendors, Get Used to Life Under Open Source

    Next Generation Optical Networking (NGON) — The future for service providers seems to be a mixture of open source software and good old standardization, which means vendors are going to have to get used to the open source way of life, one AT&T executive believes.

    AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) does still need vendors to play the role of technology innovators. But “the way that vendors provide that in the future will be different from how they provide that today,” said Amy Wheelus, AT&T’s vice president of cloud and D2 platform integration.

  • Should You Open Source Your Product? That’s the Wrong Question

    I often get called in to help companies make decisions about their open source strategy. They want to release key parts of their software as open source, but they need some help figuring out the best way to make it happen. I always ask them the same question:

    Why? Why are you planning to open any of your code?

    They rarely have a good answer. They’ve already decided that this is the right decision, because a board member, founder, or customer has said it’s necessary, and they are just trying to figure out how to do it. But it’s impossible to build a strategy to accomplish your goals if you’re unsure what they are.

    Are you trying to build a community? To get public review of core functionality? To grow adoption? Something else entirely? By now most people have realized that open sourcing software isn’t a route to magically get free contributions so you don’t have to write your own software, but there are plenty of other myths around it.

  • Top 3 open source Cryptocurrencies (that aren’t bitcoin)

    The term open source gets thrown around a lot, and most of the time, the people saying it don’t even know what it means. The best way to think of it like a book everyone can edit and make their own version of it. The source code is available to all, which creates the option for developers to look at the code and come up with their own modifications. These modifications won’t necessarily be adopted, but they are at least out there for the community to consider and vote upon.

  • What is Ethereum? The open-source crypto platform explained

    Most of us get the principle of cryptocurrency, but even the most tech-savvy may struggle with the specifics. One name that is often used when discussing this increasingly popular trend is Ethereum.

    Ethereum is an open-source platform that lets you build your own decentralised applications, and earn a tradeable cryptocurrency called Ether. These apps are all built using blockchain technology, and Ether can be used to pay for services on the network.

  • JAX Magazine: All eyes on Open Source
  • Events
    • Latinoware 2017 Event Report

      Of more than 200 subjects discussed by more than 4,500 nerds, teachers, students and interested in new technologies, coming from various parts of Brazil, neighboring countries Argentina and Paraguay and outside countries, during three days of the 14th Latin American Congress of Free Software and Technologies (Latinoware), held last week at the Itaipu Power Plant in Foz do Iguaçu, one of the themes that most attracted public attention was how free robotics can improve education, especially in children.

    • FOSDEM 2018 Retrocomputing DevRoom Call for Participation

      FOSDEM is a free software event that offers open source communities a place to meet, share ideas and collaborate. It is renown for being highly developer-oriented and brings together 8000+ participants from all over the world. It is held in the city of Brussels (Belgium).

    • Open source summit – Day 2

      Day two of Open Source summit for me started a bit slow for lack of sleep. The first talk I went to was on “Developer tools for Kubernetes” by Michelle Noorali and Matt Butcher. Essentially the two of them showed two projects (Draft and Brigade to help ease development apps for Kubernetes clusters. Draft here is the tool to use for developing long running, daemon like apps. Brigade has the goal of making event driven app development easier – almost like providing shell script like composability to Kubernetes deployed pipelines.

    • The 2017 GSoC Mentor Summit

      I am wrapping up the ideas after the Google mentor summit 2017. In spite of having mentored my first GSoC student in 2008, this is the first time I ever attended this summit. There were ~300 mentors representative of many different open source communities. A triple-concentrate of all the main open projects in a not-too-noisy environment (unlike e.g. FOSDEM) – all in all, it has been a very pleasant experience!

    • Google Code-in 2017 open source mentor organizations revealed, including Ubuntu!

      Google does a great job supporting the open source community, which is appropriate, as the company leverages the code too. The search giant gives back to the community through programs such as “Google Code-in.” If you aren’t familiar, it is an educational contest which teaches children about open source by having them working on an actual established project. Today, the Android-maker reveals the mentors that will be participating in Google Code-in 2017.

    • Samsung Electronics Kicks Off ‘2017 Open Source Conference’

      Samsung Electronics will hold ‘Samsung OpenSource Conference’ at Samsung Electronics Seoul R & D campus in Ueon-dong, Seoul from October 25 to 26.

      The Samsung Open Source Conference, which has been held every year since 2014, is the largest open source conference in Korea with over 1,000 developers participating in the program every year.

    • Is Raleigh the East Coast’s Silicon Valley?

      They are also awed by the conference itself. This year well over 3,000 people shelled out somewhere around a couple of hundred bucks each to attend the two-day event, which took place earlier this week and utilized more than 20 meeting rooms at the Raleigh Convention Center to house over 200 sessions.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
      • Chrome Dev Summit 2017

        I attended the 5th Chrome Dev Summit this week. The talks were all recorded and are available via the schedule (the keynote and leadership panel on day 1 are perhaps of broadest interest and highest bang-for-buck viewing value). It was a high quality, well-produced event with an intimate feel – I was very surprised when Robert Nyman told me it was over 700 people! I appreciated the good vegetarian food options and noticed and was very impressed by the much-better-than-typical-tech-conferences gender representation and code of conduct visibility.

  • Databases
    • AWS Offers Aurora Cloud DB Service Compatible With PostgreSQL

      AWS on Tuesday announced the general availability of Amazon Aurora with PostgreSQL compatibility. The service is now fully compatible with both MySQL and PostgreSQL, the company said. AWS also announced that customers migrating to Amazon Aurora from another database can use the AWS Database Migration Service free of charge for the next six months. Amazon Aurora is a cloud-optimized relational database that combines the speed and availability of high-end commercial databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Licensing/Legal
    • Community Data License Agreement announced by Linux Foundation

      The Linux Foundation has announced the Community Data License Agreement (CDLA) family of open data agreements. In an era of expansive and often underused data, the CDLA licenses are an effort to define a licensing framework to support collaborative communities built around curating and sharing “open” data.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • INL adds MASTODON to growing open-source modeling and simulation library

      Idaho National Laboratory recently expanded its library of MOOSE-based, open-source modeling and simulation software with the MASTODON code. This code helps scientists and engineers design buildings and other structures to better withstand seismic events.

      MASTODON is the short name for the Multi-hazard Analysis for STOchastic time-DOmaiN phenomena. It is a finite element application that calculates the realistic response of soil and structures to earthquakes in three dimensions. With capabilities to simulate “source-to-site” earthquake energy release, the software tool enables detailed analyses of earthquake fault rupture, nonlinear seismic wave propagation, and nonlinear soil-structure interactions.

  • Programming/Development
    • How much do you comment your source code?

      While it may be true that the best code is self-documenting, even the clearest written source code requires adequate documentation in order to be quickly parsed and understood by human readers.

    • SciPy 1.0 released

      The SciPy project has announced the release of SciPy 1.0. The “Python-based ecosystem of open-source software for mathematics, science, and engineering” has been around for 16 years since version 0.1 and, in reality, the 1.0 designation is overdue. “Some key project goals, both technical (e.g. Windows wheels and continuous integration) and organisational (a governance structure, code of conduct and a roadmap), have been achieved recently. Many of us are a bit perfectionist, and therefore are reluctant to call something ’1.0′ because it may imply that it’s ‘finished’ or ‘we are 100% happy with it’. This is normal for many open source projects, however that doesn’t make it right. We acknowledge to ourselves that it’s not perfect, and there are some dusty corners left (that will probably always be the case). Despite that, SciPy is extremely useful to its users, on average has high quality code and documentation, and gives the stability and backwards compatibility guarantees that a 1.0 label imply.” Beyond the Windows wheels (a binary distribution format) mentioned above, there are some other new features in the release: continuous-integration coverage for macOS and Windows, a set of new ordinary differential equation solvers and a unified interface to them, two new trust region optimizers and a new linear programming method, many new BLAS and LAPACK functions were wrapped, and more.

    • Google launches the Android 8.1 Developer Preview
    • Android 8.1 O Developer Preview And Android Studio 3 With Kotlin Support Released: Download Here
Leftovers
  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Human water use is draining the world’s saline lakes

      Saline lakes, like the Caspian Sea, the Dead Sea, the Salton Sea, and of course the Great Salt Lake, have served as recreational playgrounds and tourist attractions, supported thriving fishing and shipping industries, and yielded minerals to be extracted for commercial and industrial applications. A slightly less quantifiable benefit they used to grant was providing habitats for waterbirds.

    • US states, cities moving to restrict vaping

      Citing public health risks, New York is banning vaping in public indoor places—which is already the case for traditional cigarettes. The new law, following a host of similar regulations tied to e-cigarettes across the nation, kicks in next month after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Monday.

      “These products are marketed as a healthier alternative to cigarettes but the reality is they also carry long-term risks to the health of users and those around them,” Cuomo said in a signing statement. “This measure closes another dangerous loophole in the law, creating a stronger, healthier New York for all.”

      Vaping is now prohibited in New York restaurants, bars, and other indoor public places like workspaces. The measure does not apply to people who want to use e-cigarettes in private homes, hotel rooms, or retail tobacco stores that permit smoking.

    • Judge overturns $417M verdict over Johnson & Johnson baby powder

      A judge has thrown out a $417 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson, which came about when a jury sided with a terminally ill plaintiff who said that Johnson’s baby powder caused her ovarian cancer.

      On Friday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maren Nelson granted (PDF) J&J’s motion for a new trial (PDF). The plaintiff, Eva Echeverria, won $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages following a trial. Echeverria’s trial date was accelerated because of her poor medical condition, and she has since died.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • New ransomware strain spreads in some European countries [iophk: "Microsoft Windows TCO"]

      A new strain of Windows ransomware, dubbed Bad Rabbit, is spreading in eastern Europe through drive-by attacks, the security firm Kaspersky Lab reported overnight.

    • Bad Rabbit Ransomware Attack Is On The Rise — Here’s What You Need To Know
    • New wave of data-encrypting malware hits Russia and Ukraine

      Beaumont went on to say that Bad Rabbit relies on hard-coded credentials that are commonly used in enterprise networks for file sharing and takes aim at a particularly vulnerable portion of infected computers’ hard drives known as the master boot record. A malicious file called infpub.dat appears to be able to use the credentials to allow the Bad Rabbit to spread to other Windows computers on the same local network, Kaspersky Labs’ blog post added. In a second blog post, Eset said the malware also uses the Mimikatz network administrative tool to harvest credentials from the affected systems.

    • What is Bad Rabbit ransomware?
    • The DOJ’s Bizarre Subpoena Over An Emoji Highlights Its Ridiculous Vendetta Against A Security Researcher

      Yesterday we broke the crazy story of how the DOJ issued a subpoena to Twitter attempting to identify five Twitter users, not because of anything they had done, but because someone else the DOJ disliked — a security researcher named Justin Shafer — had tweeted an emoji at them in response to a discussion about a different case. You can read all the details in that original post, in case you missed it yesterday. There was so much craziness in that story that I didn’t even get to cover all of it. Some of those named in the subpoena have posted their thoughts — including Ken “Popehat” White and Keith Lee. I suggest reading both, as the subpoena directed at each of them was particularly silly, given that both freely make their identities public. The DOJ didn’t seem to do even the slightest research into the accounts it was demanding info on, or it would have known just how easy it was to “unmask” White and Lee.

    • Modern Cybersecurity Totally Futile in Quantum Computing Era

      Quantum computing uses the power of atoms to perform memory and processing tasks and remains a theoretical concept. However, it is widely believed that its creation is possible. Most experts now agree that the creation of a quantum computer is simply a matter of engineering, and that the theoretical application will happen. Optimistic estimates for commercialization by the private sector vary between 5 and 15 years, while more conservative estimates by academics put it at 15-25 years.

    • 4 extra-strength container security tools for Docker and Kubernetes

      Docker-style containers aren’t just a way to deploy software more quickly or flexibly. They can also be a way to make software more secure. Automatic analysis of the software components that go into containers, behavioral policies that span container clusters and multiple application versions, and innovative new developments in tracking and managing vulnerability data are just some of the ways containers are bolstering security for the entire application lifecycle.

      How much of this comes out of the box, though, is another story. Container products provide the basics, but not always more than that, leaving more advanced monitoring or management solely in the hands of the admin. Here are four recently revamped products and services that bring additional kinds of security to containers, both in the cloud and in your own datacenter.

    • Worker who snuck NSA malware home had his PC backdoored, Kaspersky says

      The NSA worker’s computer ran a home version of Kaspersky AV that had enabled a voluntary service known as Kaspersky Security Network. When turned on, KSN automatically uploads new and previously unknown malware to company Kaspersky Lab servers. The setting eventually caused the previously undetected NSA malware to be uploaded to Kaspersky Lab servers, where it was then reviewed by a company analyst.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 67 – Cyber won
    • Increase your network security: Deploy a honeypot
    • Security by Obscurity

      Today this blog post turned up on Hacker News, titled “Obscurity is a Valid Security Layer”. It makes some excellent points on the distinction between good and bad obscurity and it gives an example of good obscurity with SSH.

    • My password keeps me safe. (Not necessarily!)
    • Reaper: Calm Before the IoT Security Storm?

      It’s been just over a year since the world witnessed some of the world’s top online Web sites being taken down for much of the day by “Mirai,” a zombie malware strain that enslaved “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices such as wireless routers, security cameras and digital video recorders for use in large-scale online attacks.

      Now, experts are sounding the alarm about the emergence of what appears to be a far more powerful strain of IoT attack malware — variously named “Reaper” and “IoTroop” — that spreads via security holes in IoT software and hardware. And there are indications that over a million organizations may be affected already.

      Reaper isn’t attacking anyone yet. For the moment it is apparently content to gather gloom to itself from the darkest reaches of the Internet. But if history is any teacher, we are likely enjoying a period of false calm before another humbling IoT attack wave breaks.

    • IoTroop/Reaper: A Massive Botnet Cyberstorm Is Coming To Take Down The Internet
    • Bad Rabbit used NSA “EternalRomance” exploit to spread, researchers say

      Despite early reports that there was no use of National Security Agency-developed exploits in this week’s crypto-ransomware outbreak, research released by Cisco Talos suggests that the ransomware worm known as “Bad Rabbit” did in fact use a stolen Equation Group exploit revealed by Shadowbrokers to spread across victims’ networks. The attackers used EternalRomance, an exploit that bypasses security over Server Message Block (SMB) file-sharing connections, enabling remote execution of instructions on Windows clients and servers. The code closely follows an open source Python implementation of a Windows exploit that used EternalRomance (and another Equation Group tool, EternalSynergy), leveraging the same methods revealed in the Shadowbrokers code release. NotPetya also leveraged this exploit.

    • Bad Rabbit Ransomware Uses NSA’s “EternalRomance” Exploit, Petya Connection Also Found
    • A new, virulent ransomware epidemic is fuelled by yet another leaked NSA cyberweapon

      Eternalromance/Eternalsynergy exploit a bug in Microsoft’s SMB protocol. This bug was discovered or purchased by the NSA, who chose to withhold its existence from Microsoft, deliberately ensuring that the bug would remain intact on computers worldwide, so the NSA could attack them at will. This doctrine is called “NOBUS” — “No One But Us” — and it only works if no one ever independently rediscovers the NSA’s bugs, and if the NSA never loses control of its exploits. Both have been known to happen.

    • NSA bloke used backdoored MS Office key-gen, exposed secret exploits – Kaspersky [Ed: So NSA relies on incompetent workers that put Microsoft back doors on their machines, to guard Windows cracking tools]
    • NSA contractor leaked US hacking tools by mistake, Kaspersky says
    • Kaspersky says it obtained suspected NSA hacking code from U.S. computer
    • GCHQ warns about ‘Bad Rabbit’ cyber attack sweeping through Europe as it emerges the malware’s code is filled with Game of Thrones references
    • Ransomware Ripping Through Russia and Ukraine Uses Stolen NSA Code

      This week a new breed of ransomware, which locks down computers until a victim pays a fee, ripped throughout Russia, Ukraine, and a selection of other countries. The ransomware, known as Bad Rabbit, had a trick up its sleeve: it utilized a previously leaked exploit from the U.S. National Security Agency, giving the malware more power to spread throughout networks.

    • Inspired by brain’s visual cortex, new AI utterly wrecks CAPTCHA security

      Computer algorithms have gotten much better at recognizing patterns, like specific animals or people’s faces, allowing software to automatically categorize large image collections. But we’ve come to rely on some things that computers can’t do well. Algorithms can’t match their image recognition to semantic meaning, so today you can ensure a human’s present by asking them to pick out images of street signs. And algorithms don’t do especially well at recognizing when familiar images are distorted or buried in noise, either, which has kept us relying on text-based CAPTCHAs, the distorted text used to verify a human is interacting with Web services.

    • Kaspersky identifies other malware on NSA hacker’s home computer

      A US government hacker who lost National Security Agency malware after stashing it on his home computer had himself been hacked when he downloaded pirate software, Kaspersky Lab has suggested.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • NSA report says Saudi king Prince Salman bin Sultan ordered attacks by Syrian rebels in 2013

      According to a National Security Agency (NSA) report released by The Intercept, the rocket attacks in March 2013 in the Syrian capital Damascus were ordered by a member of the Saudi royal family, Prince Salman bin Sultan, to help mark the second anniversary of the Syrian revolution. The report said Salman had provided explosives and other weaponry to Opposition forces and instructed them to “light up Damascus” and “flatten” the airport.

    • NSA Document Says Saudi Prince Directly Ordered Coordinated Attack By Syrian Rebels On Damascus
    • US/Saudi Collusion Against Syria, Top Secret NSA Document
    • The Ploy to Shift 9/11 Blame to Iran

      First, we fought for the 9/11 Commission so that we might have an independent investigation into the attacks, learn lessons, fix problems, and hold those in government accountable for their failures that contributed to the vast devastation of that horrific day. Next, as an expressly granted right given to us by Congress in the creation of the 2001 Airline Stabilization Act (more commonly known as the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund), we attempted to hold all the co-conspirators of the 9/11 attacks accountable in a federal court of law. Notably, to the 9/11 Families, the definition of “co-conspirators” was always a “both-and” situation, not the more exclusionary “either-or” scenario. In other words, we wanted any and all of those who played a hand (however large or small) in the murder of our loved ones held accountable.

      [...]

      Fifteen years later, the 9/11 families are still trying to hold the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accountable in a federal court of law for the mass murder of our loved ones. And, unfortunately for us, the Kingdom seems to still remain “in favor” with the U.S. government — which is probably why our path to justice has taken so long and why our court case against the Saudis is constantly getting delayed and dismissed by the Judge.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Julian Assange: Trump campaign’s data firm sought WikiLeaks’ help for Hillary Clinton’s emails

      Nix reportedly told a third party that he had reached out to Assange about working together to release Clinton’s emails, the Daily Beast reported, citing two sources familiar with a congressional investigation into ties between Trump’s team and the Kremlin. Assange, however, rejected the request.

    • NSA wanted to use the Espionage Act to prosecute a journalist for using FOIA

      Declassified documents in the Central Intelligence Agency’s archives show that while the CIA was looking to include the Freedom Of Information Act in its war on leaks, the National Security Agency was seriously considering using the Espionage Act to target target Puzzle Palace author James Bamford for using FOIA.

      While Bamford has briefly discussed this on a handful of occasions, the declassified memos and briefings from NSA confirm that this was more than just an intimidation tactic or a passing thought – the NSA had truly wanted to jail a journalist for his use of public records. When the Agency determined that this was unlikely to happen, they moved on to exploring other legal avenues which could be used to punish Bamford for his FOIA work.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Yet another destination for coal exports to dry up with Italy’s 2025 phase-out

      On Tuesday, Italy’s economic development minister said the country will commit to phasing out coal in its energy mix, ending all use by 2025 according to Argus Media.

      The country follows the UK, Canada, and France in its pledge to end coal use in the coming years. For some countries, the pledge is more meaningful than for others.

      In the UK, coal provided around 30 percent of the country’s electricity in 2014, the year before the government pledged to end coal power generation by 2025. Early this year, the UK had its first 24 hours with no coal-fired generation since 1882. The news came along with data from 2016 that reported coal-generated electricity made up just nine percent of the country’s energy mix.

    • Puerto Rico power woes continue, a month after Hurricane Maria

      Two weeks ago, battery makers Tesla and Sonnen pledged to build microgrids and deliver batteries to hospitals and other critical infrastructure in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which wiped out power to nearly all of the island’s electricity customers. Today, Tesla tweeted that Hospital del Niño, a children’s hospital in Puerto Rico, was the “first of many solar+storage projects going live.” The company didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments on the size of the installation or how much it cost.)

      But Tesla’s not the only company working on putting renewable energy in Puerto Rico. In an e-mail to Ars, a Sonnen spokesperson Hilary Donnell said that the company’s first microgrid in Puerto Rico would go live sometime next week, with 3 to 5 Sonnen microgrids serving communities on the island by mid-November.

    • US Government Accountability Office argues for acting on climate change

      The US Government Accountability Office is a nonpartisan organization that performs analysis and investigations for the Senate and House. Recently, two senators—Maine Republican Susan Collins and Washington Democrat Maria Cantwell—asked it to look into what has become a contentious political issue: the government’s response to climate change. The report that resulted suggests that the US is already spending money to respond to climate change, and it will likely spend more as the Earth continues to warm. But it suggests that the US has no plans for figuring out how best to minimize these costs.

      It’s a message that’s unlikely to go over well with either the current administration or the Republican majority in either house of Congress.

    • New York City’s future storm risk dominated by sea level rise

      Over the last few decades, a warming Atlantic Ocean has produced a number of very powerful hurricanes, some of which retained strength much further north than usual. Fortunately for the US, however, few of them made landfall on the continental US, leading to talk of a “hurricane hiatus” that came to a decisive close this year.

      A new analysis of New York City’s hurricane risk suggests that a similar fate might be in store for the city. While warming waters will produce more powerful storms in the future, climate models suggest that they’ll generally track further offshore of the city, a combination that ends up cancelling itself out. Unfortunately, due to rising oceans, the risk of flooding will keep going up, with what was once a 500-year flood occurring every 25 years by mid-century.

    • Professor quits over denied Dakota Access pipeline seminars

      A University of North Dakota journalism professor said Thursday he’s quitting because the school would not let him conduct seminars on the Dakota Access oil pipeline protest.

      Mark Trahant said he was put in charge of a journalism lecture series and proposed two pipeline protest topics that were rejected. Last year he wanted to hear from reporters who covered the protests, and this year he suggested talking about how the protest played out on social media.

    • Power for Puerto Ricans, Not Private Investors

      “The whole of Puerto Rico is like this. I don’t think we are the only ones like this… We will survive,” Jose Torres, a resident of Puerto Rico, told an NPR reporter in late September. As a diabetic without access to medicine, he’s been working hard to keep up his blood sugar levels. Not an easy task when his fridge and stove don’t have power.

      It has been almost a month since Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Since then, most of the island’s 3.4 million residents have been without electricity or running water. The power grid was effectively destroyed, with only 7 percent back online to date. This means that the entire system, from generation to distribution, will need to be rebuilt. The question now is: how?

  • Finance
    • UK ‘screwed’ in Brexit negotiations, says ex-ambassador

      The U.K. has been “screwed” in Brexit negotiations because it triggered Article 50 too soon, the country’s former EU ambassador said.

      Ivan Rogers, who resigned as the U.K.’s permanent representative to the EU in January, also warned that a “bloody” no-deal scenario could be set in motion as early as December, and could end up with the two sides in a “trade war” and wanting to “knock chunks out of each other.”

    • Koch Demands Corporate Welfare From One of America’s Poorest Cities

      The Koch Brothers talk a good game against “special-interest handouts” and “corporate welfare”—and support eliminating popular tax deductions that benefit the middle class—but they are happy to squeeze out every tax break they can get for their corporate operations.

      When their Koch Industries Georgia-Pacific unit decided to build a new lumber plant in Talladega, Alabama, the company asked for and received a generous handout from taxpayers.

      On October 9, the Talladega City Council approved a $5.2 million tax abatement for the facility, which is slated to open in 2018.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • NSA Concealed Records on JFK Assassination for Decades

      There is something perverse about the fact that President Donald Trump, the exuberant and all-too-successful spinner of conspiracy theories, and deeply ignorant of American history besides, will oversee the release of the remaining classified files related to the assassination of his presidential predecessor, John F. Kennedy.

      In 1992, Congress approved, and former President George H.W. Bush signed, the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act. They were prodded by an Oliver Stone film on the killing released the year prior and the resulting flurry of public interest. The act mandated the disclosure of all assassination-related records no later than 25 years after its signing, by October 26, 2017 — this Thursday.

    • The Woman Taking On Russia’s Trolling [sic] Machine
    • ‘Downright Orwellian’: journalists decry Facebook experiment’s impact on democracy
    • Who can you trust? How tech is reshaping what we believe
    • How Malcolm Turnbull, GetUp and Adani are using Facebook ads to push their agenda

      This video and text post was “sponsored” – that is, someone from the prime minister’s office paid to promote the post as an advertisement.

    • Political ads on Twitter will now be labeled with lots of spending data

      In light of recent Russia-related disclosures, American politicians have begun weighing in on the lack of transparency in the world of politically motivated online ads. On Tuesday, Twitter chose to get ahead of potential political and legal action by announcing plans to open its advertising disclosure process in a big way.

      A blog post titled “New Transparency for Ads on Twitter” detailed coming changes to “political” and “issue-based” advertising on the site. Political ads received a specific focus, and new rules will apply to any ads that fall under the FEC’s definition of political or “electioneering” ads. The interesting stuff here is how much data Twitter will force any political advertisers to disclose, including the following: exactly how much money a single advertiser has spent, other ad campaigns run by the same organization, and all targeting demographics (gender, age, geography).

    • Donald Trump is ‘deeply damaged human being’, says Ronald Reagan’s son

      Late President Ronald Reagan’s son has called President Donald Trump “a deeply damaged human being.”

      Ron Reagan Jr, a radio host and political commentator, was speaking on MSNBC’s “Hardball” programme when he called Mr Trump a “sociopathic, malignant narcissist.”

      He went as far as comparing the President to a stain on a carpet that the Electoral College has “vomited” up.

    • Congress opens probe into FBI’s handling of Clinton e-mail investigation

      House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said in a joint statement that they are unsatisfied with how the probe into Clinton’s private e-mail server concluded. Among other things, the chairmen want to know why the bureau publicly said it was investigating Clinton while keeping silent that it was looking into President Donald Trump’s campaign associates and their connections to Russia.

    • Proposed law would regulate online ads to hinder Russian election influence
    • Reposting Amazon Press Releases at Bezos-Owned Washington Post

      A matter of huge political import is taking place in scores of cities throughout the country. From Chicago to Charlottesville, San Diego to St. Louis, metropolitan areas big and small are making their best pitches to Amazon to move its second headquarters to their towns. These pitches typically involve some combination of groveling by city officials (New York City lit the city up orange) and massive tax breaks (New Jersey is offering $7 billion), all in hopes of reaping a massive economic bonanza from the relocation.

    • ‘The Winner of the Amazon Headquarters Might End Up Being the Biggest Loser’
    • Unsealed Documents Show That Kris Kobach Is Dead Set on Suppressing the Right to Vote

      For almost a year, Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas, has struggled to hide the truth about his efforts to lobby the Trump administration to make it much harder for Americans to vote. Part of that struggle ended today when a federal court ordered excerpts of Kris Kobach’s testimony disclosed along with other documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union in our challenge to his restrictive voter registration regime.

      The unsealed materials confirm what many have suspected: Kobach has a ready-made plan to gut core voting rights protections enshrined in federal law. And he has been covertly lobbying Trump’s team and other officials from day one to sell them the falsehood that noncitizens are swinging elections.

    • Days after activists sued, Georgia’s election server was wiped clean

      A server and its backups, believed to be key to a pending federal lawsuit filed against Georgia election officials, was thoroughly deleted according to e-mails recently released under a public records request.

      Georgia previously came under heavy scrutiny after a researcher discovered significant problems with his home state’s voting system. A lawsuit soon followed in state court, asking the court to annul the results of the June 20 special election for Congress and to prevent Georgia’s existing computer-based voting system from being used again. The case, Curling v. Kemp, was filed in Fulton County Superior Court on July 3.

    • Georgia Election Server Mysteriously Wiped Clean After Lawsuit Highlights Major Vulnerabilities
    • Revealed: How Twitter pushed RT to spend big on 2016 US election
    • How Facebook, Google and Twitter ‘embeds’ helped Trump in 2016
  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Oakland Privacy and the Fight for Community Control

      Many groups in the Electronic Frontier Alliance work to ensure that their neighbors have the tools they need to maintain control of their information. Others devote their efforts to community organizing or advocacy, assuring that authorities respect the civil and privacy rights of people in their community. For over four years, Oakland Privacy has been a notable example of the latter.

      Initially organizing as the Occupy Oakland Privacy Working Group, Oakland Privacy began meeting in July of 2013, with a mission to stop Oakland’s Domain Awareness Center (DAC). The DAC, first approved by the City of Oakland City Council as a port security monitoring system, was moving toward approval of a second phase by the Summer of 2013. Phase II would have expanded the DAC into a city-wide surveillance apparatus that would have combined feeds from cameras, microphones, and other electronic monitoring assets throughout the city. Local authorities and their partners would have had an unprecedented ability to surveil the people of Oakland.

    • Court Has No Problem With All House Residents Being Forced To Hand Over Fingers To Law Enforcement

      A ruling has been handed down by a federal judge finding the government’s demands for fingerprints from multiple residents of a house does not implicate the Fifth Amendment. [h/t Brad Heath]

      The underlying case — still under seal — bears some resemblance to one we discussed here about a year ago. Law enforcement sought a search warrant for a residence, which would allegedly house devices containing child pornography. The devices were suspected to be Apple products, which can be opened with fingerprints. The warrant asked for permission to compel the residents to supply their fingerprints — both to unlock the devices and to ascribe possession to the person whose fingerprint unlocked them.

    • Nobody else cares about privacy! (Umm, yes they do.)

      In Jan 2017, the IDC found that 84% of consumers expressed concern for their personal information, and 70% reported greater concern than just a few years ago.

    • Proposal to Restrict Technical Assistance Demands Before Secret Surveillance Court Raises More Questions About Section 702

      As we detailed yesterday, a bill introduced this week by Sens. Ron Wyden and Rand Paul would represent the most comprehensive reform so far of Section 702, the law that authorizes the government to engage in mass warrantless surveillance of the Internet. EFF supports the bill, known as the USA Rights Act, because it closes the backdoor search loophole and addresses other glaring problems with Section 702.

      But the bill also makes changes to lesser-known provisions of Section 702. One of these amendments raises it own questions about how the government has been enlisting private companies to provide access to our communications, including whether it has required circumvention of encryption as in the recent fight between Apple and the FBI. It may well also call into question the response EFF received from the government in FOIA litigation seeking records to determine whether such a case exists.

    • How lobbyists convinced lawmakers to kill a broadband privacy bill

      When a California state legislator proposed new broadband privacy rules that would mirror the federal rules previously killed by Congress, broadband industry lobbyists got to work.

      The lobbyists were successful in convincing the state legislature to let the bill die without passage last month, leaving Internet users without stronger rules protecting the privacy of their Web browsing histories.

    • Google, Facebook & Comcast Jointly Lied to California Lawmakers To Scuttle Broadband Privacy Bill

      Earlier this year the GOP and Trump administration rushed to kill consumer broadband privacy rules. While the broadband industry cried like a colicky toddler when the rules were originally proposed, they were relatively modest — simply requiring that ISPs clearly disclose what they’re selling, who they’re selling it to, and provide working opt out tools. The rules were proposed after ISPs repeatedly showed they were incapable of self-regulating on this front (see Verizon’s zombie cookies, AT&T’s attempts to charge you more for privacy, and CableOne’s declaration it wanted to use credit scores to provide even worse customer support).

    • Senator Wyden’s 702 Reform Bill Would Limit Backdoor Searches, Permanently Kill ‘About’ Collection

      As promised, Ron Wyden (along with Rand Paul) has delivered an antidote to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s completely terrible Section 702 “reform” bill. That bill, authored by Sen. Burr, would extend the NSA’s 702 powers until 2025 while allowing US law enforcement to use collected intelligence for normal law enforcement purposes. It also would have turned the NSA’s “about” collection back on, provided no one opposed it with directly-targeted legislation. This program’s ability to “inadvertently” sweep up US persons’ communications was so concerning the NSA voluntarily shut it off. (It asked to have it turned back on less than two months later, however.)

    • A smart city in China tracks every citizen and yours could too

      For the past 12 months, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has been slurping up video feeds, social media data, traffic information and other data from Hangzhou city for its City Brain project. The stated goal was to improve life in Hangzhou by letting artificial intelligence process this data and use it to control aspects of urban life. It seems to have worked. The trial has been so successful that the company is now packaging the system for export to other places in China – and eventually the rest of the world.

    • FBI Says It Can’t Get Into 6,900 Encrypted Phones. So What?

      The new director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, has apparently decided to take up James Comey’s anti-encryption fight. He’s been mostly quiet on the issue since assuming the position, but the DOJ’s recent calls for “responsible encryption” has emboldened the new FBI boss to speak up on the subject.

      And speak up he has. Although the FBI still hasn’t released the text of his remarks to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, more than a few sites are reporting it was the usual “go team law enforcement” boosterism, but with the added zest of phone encryption complaints.

    • New Evidence Shows Defense Dep’t Abusing Surveillance Procedures To Spy On Americans

      I know that the cynical among you already assume — falsely — that the surveillance state ignores all rules and spies willy nilly on everyone. That is not true. However, they do have a long and scary history of “reinterpreting” or stretching the definitions of things to do widespread surveillance in ways that clearly violate the letter and spirit of the law, even as they try to justify it. For many years now, we’ve written about concerns with Executive Order 12333 — a Reagan-signed Executive Order that enabled much greater surveillance oversees. In the summer of 2014, State Department whistleblower Stephen Napier Tye revealed that everyone focusing on other programs — such as Section 215 under the PATRIOT Act or Section 702 under the FISA Amendments Act — were missing the point: nearly everything was being done under EO 12333, and those other programs were just used to fill in the gaps.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Facebook Translate Error Lands Palestinian Man In Israeli Detention

      Like many people today, I have a decent amount of experience using Facebook’s language translations. With Geigners the world over, including an eyebrow-raising number of them in South America, I’ve found the translations to be a useful if imperfect way for me to interact with distant family members that reside in countries and continents far from the States. Imperfect is a key word there, however, as some of the garbled nonsense that results from translations can range from somewhat funny to downright perplexing. It goes without saying that relying on a website’s translation alone to interpret someone writing in a different language is a harrowing experience fraught with error.

    • New DOJ Policy Restricts Use Of Warrant/Subpoena Gag Orders

      It appears public pressure — coming in the form of lawsuits and gag order challenges — has finally had an effect on the DOJ. Ellen Nakashima is reporting the Justice Department will no longer attach indefinite gag orders to routine requests for data and communications.

    • Police Camera Study Shows New Tech Having Little Effect On Misconduct And Excessive Force

      The study’s length suggested positive long-term results but the small sample size may have skewed the results. Another contributing factor could have been the “newness” of the devices themselves — something that may have led officers to act with more restraint than usual.

      But as more and more police departments have deployed body cameras, the results have been less and less positive. A study published last year suggested body worn cameras actually led to an increase in violence — a 3.64% uptick in fatal shootings by officers. Of course, this increase may have been nothing more than a deviation from the mean. But it still pointed towards cameras being anything but a cheap, scalable fix for officer misconduct.

    • Professor Removed From a Southwest Flight Is Symbolic of a Pattern of Airline Islamophobia

      Since the incident, Daulatzai has offered her version of what happened. She said that while she does have an allergy to dogs, it is not one that is life threatening. Southwest allows passengers to choose their seats upon boarding and Daulatzai was happy to find a seat away from the dog. However, according to Daulatzai, Southwest representatives did not believe her statements about her allergy and ordered her off the plane. She attempted to negotiate a reasonable solution, but appears to have come up against a perception that, as a woman of color, she was just meant to follow orders without discussion. Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MTAP) officers then boarded the plane, violently removed her from her seat and dragged her through the aircraft. The MTAP officers ignored her repeated protests that she was pregnant.

    • Jails pocket up to 60 percent of what inmates pay for phone calls

      MuckRock, a nonprofit journalism organization that focuses on public records requests, obtained the contracts between prison phone companies and some parish jails in Louisiana.

      Prison phone company Correct Solutions Group has a contract with the Union Parish Detention Center that requires it to pay the jail a commission of 60 percent of the total gross revenue of phone calls.

    • In some Louisiana parishes, over half of inmate phone fees go back to the prison itself

      Parish jails in Louisiana receive as much as 60 percent of prisoner phone call revenues – though they’ve been offered upwards of 68 percent by other prepaid phone services – according to materials recently released as part of a MuckRock investigation into Bayou State inmate communication commissions.

    • Some dead bodies donated to research in US end up in warehouses of horrors

      Dead human bodies are critical to medical training, physicians and researchers say. And thousands of Americans are happy to donate their meat suits for the greater good after they’re gone. But in the US, a body’s trip from a morgue to a medical school or lab can be gruesome, shady, and expensive. Some don’t make it at all. Instead, bits and pieces of donated loved ones—sometimes disassembled with chainsaws—end up decomposing in parking lots, forgotten in unplugged freezers, and tossed unceremoniously into incinerators.

      And law enforcement can do nothing—there are few to no laws that regulate the grim industry of human body brokering. Grieving families, who are often misled and in the dark about the fate of their loved ones, can be left horrified.

    • Cashing in on the donated dead

      The company stacked brochures in funeral parlors around Sin City. On the cover: a couple clasping hands. Above the image, a promise: “Providing Options in Your Time of Need.”

      The company, Southern Nevada Donor Services, offered grieving families a way to eliminate expensive funeral costs: free cremation in exchange for donating a loved one’s body to “advance medical studies.”

    • DOJ Subpoenas Twitter About Popehat, Dissent Doe And Others Over A Smiley Emoji Tweet

      But, literally days later, the FBI was raiding Justin Shafer’s home and taking all of his computers. This was not specifically about the Harry Schein case, but since Shafer had continued to investigate poor data security practices involving dentists, he’d come across an FTP server operated by another dental software company, Patterson Dental, which makes “Eaglesoft,” a dental practice management software product. Shafer had discovered an openly available anonymous FTP server with patient data. Shafer did the right thing as a security researcher, and alerted Patterson. However, rather than thanking Shafer for discovering the server they had left with patient data exposed, Patterson Dental argued that Shafer had violated the CFAA in accessing the open anonymous FTP server. Hence the FBI raid.

    • Trump’s New Refugee Vetting Rules Will All but Stop the Resettlement Process

      October 24 should have marked the end of President Trump’s 120-day ban on refugees entering the United States, a lesser known but no less damaging part of the Muslim ban executive order from March 6. Instead, it will be remembered as a new low in the Trump administration’s response to the world’s growing refugee crisis.

      Under the guise of furthering national security, the administration announced new restrictions on certain groups of refugees. As a result, citizens of 11 countries — as well as the minor children and spouses of refugees in the United States — will be placed on hold and barred from resettlement, while the government undertakes yet another round of reviews. In a memo from the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, the government imposed a 90-day review period on countries already requiring additional security checks, during which time refugees from those 11 countries cannot be resettled. Additionally, the “follow-to-join” program for close relatives of refugees already in the U.S. has been paused indefinitely until further review, barring refugees from reuniting with their spouses and minor children.

    • W.E.B. Du Bois’s Historic U.N. Petition Continues to Inspire Human Rights Advocacy

      Seventy years ago this week, the oldest civil rights organization in the world, the NAACP, submitted a petition to the newly established United Nations demanding accountability for human rights violations against African Americans in the United States. The 96-page petition was written over the course of a year under the editorial supervision of W.E.B. Du Bois. Its six chapters, each written by a leading expert, cover topics ranging from slavery and Jim Crow to voting rights, criminal justice, education, employment and access to health care – areas in which discrimination remains deeply rooted to this day.

    • Why Is the Trump Administration Targeting This Outspoken Dreamer?

      In September, the Trump administration brutally up-ended the lives of some 800,000 young people who have lived in America since they were children. After months of telling Dreamers they “should rest easy” about being allowed to stay, President Trump’s promises turned out to mean nothing. The administration announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which for years has permitted young undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children to live and work here without fear.

    • Jane Doe’s Ordeal Illustrates the Trump Administration’s Threat to All Women’s Reproductive Rights

      Last night was the first night in a month that I was able to fall asleep without worrying about whether Jane Doe would get the medical care she needs. Jane, a 17-year-old unaccompanied immigrant minor, received her abortion yesterday after being held hostage by our federal government for over a month. But while the legal drama and Jane’s plight captured the country’s attention, her battle is part an overall war being waged by the Trump Administration against reproductive rights and immigrants’ rights.

    • George H.W. Bush Apologizes for Repeatedly Groping Women

      Former President George H.W. Bush has apologized for repeatedly groping women, after being accused of sexual assault by two actresses. Actress Heather Lind says that when she met the president in 2014, “He touched me from behind from his wheelchair … He told me a dirty joke. And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again.” Actress Jordana Grolnick then also accused the former president of groping her during a photo in 2016, saying, “He reached his right hand around to my behind, and as we smiled for the photo he asked the group, ‘Do you want to know who my favorite magician is?’ As I felt his hand dig into my flesh, he said, ‘David Cop-a-Feel!’”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Local TV and radio stations no longer required to have local studios

      The Federal Communications Commission today eliminated a decades-old rule that required TV and radio stations to maintain studios in the local communities they serve.

      The FCC’s Republican majority claims that the change will produce cost savings that broadcasters can use to improve “programming, equipment upgrades, newsgathering, and other services that benefit consumers.” But Democrats say the change will instead make it easier for stations to abandon the cities and towns they serve.

    • Verizon brings back full-quality video streaming for $10 more [iophk: "somehow neither net neutrality nor zero-rating are mentioned"]
    • A Public Focused Approach To Net Neutrality

      Net neutrality is the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks fairly, without improper discrimination in favor of particular apps, sites or services. It’s a principle that’s faced many threats over the years from ISPs and government agencies seeking to exercise control over the free and open Internet.

      With the roll back of net neutrality protections looming, many people are now asking, “What if there is no net neutrality?”

    • Verizon-Funded Group Claims Killing Net Neutrality Would Really Help Puerto Rico Right Now

      We’ve long noted how one of the sleazier telecom industry lobbying tactics involves paying minority, diversity, or other groups to parrot policies that actually undermine their constituents, but provide the illusion of public support for shitty positions. Like when the cable industry paid Jesse Jackson to claim that trying to bring competition to the cable box was akin to racism in the 1960′s American South. Or when AT&T paid the The Hispanic Institute to support the company’s planned acquisition of T-Mobile, ignoring that the deal would have killed tens of thousands of jobs, while driving up wireless rates for all Americans.

    • WIFI4EU will not be “free”

      Yesterday, the EU officially signed the WIFI4EU Regulation, intended to promote Internet connectivity in local communities. By ignoring the open letter of the European open-Wifi community, this Regulation undermines the telecom ecosystem diversity. It dismisses the promotion of non-profit Internet Service Provider and enforces an authentication mechanism, forbidding what could have been free and open WiFi hotspots.

      The European Commission’s WIFI4EU inital proposal of September 2016 established the goal of developing Internet access in under-served areas by inciting local authorities to provide free WIFi hotspots. The European Parliament made some useful amendments, especially by calling for the promotion of non-profit ISPs. After six months of negotiations, it gave in to almost all of the dangerous propositions pushed by European governments. Thus, operators willing to benefit from the WIFI4EU funds will have to comply with requirements contradictory to the idea of free and open networks.

    • Ajit Pai submits plan to allow more media consolidation

      The Federal Communications Commission will vote next month on ending a rule that prevents joint ownership of newspapers and TV or radio stations in the same geographical market.

      The change is part of a larger overhaul of media ownership rules announced yesterday by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Currently, the FCC says its newspaper/broadcast station cross-ownership rule “prohibit[s] common ownership of a daily newspaper and a full-power broadcast station (AM, FM, or TV) if the station’s service contour encompasses the newspaper’s city of publication.”

      Pai is proposing to eliminate that rule and others. He announced the move during an FCC oversight hearing in Congress yesterday, saying he wants to “pull the government once and for all out of the newsroom.”

    • Verizon creates new $10 monthly charge to remove video throttling

      Verizon Wireless customers will soon regain the ability to stream mobile video at the highest resolution, but it’s going to cost extra. Starting November 3, Verizon Wireless customers will have the option of paying another $10 a month to remove the cap on video resolution.

      This is the latest in a series of changes at Verizon related to unlimited data plans and video quality. In February, Verizon offered unlimited data plans for the first time in years, boasting that it would not impose limits on video quality (unlike some other carriers).

      But that changed in August when Verizon imposed video limits on both unlimited data plans and plans with monthly data caps. This resulted in a somewhat confusing array of options.

    • San Francisco, Seattle Tire of Comcast, Mull Building Citywide Fiber Networks

      It probably goes without saying that while improving in spots, American broadband isn’t much to write home about. Americans pay more money for slower service and worse customer support than a long list of developed countries. Some of that’s thanks to geography, but more of it’s due to a lack of competition. That lack of competition is, by proxy, thanks to our refusal to address the stranglehold these giant companies have over our federal and state regulators and lawmakers. Instead of fixing this problem, current regulators seem more interested in weakening deployment definitions to help industry pretend the problem doesn’t exist.

      In a growing number of towns and cities, residents have increasingly pushed to either build their own broadband networks, or strike public/private partnerships to help improve service quality and availability. Instead of trying to make these efforts irrelevant by offering better service at lower rates, incumbent ISPs have focused on paying often clueless lawmakers to help pass protectionist bills restricting what locals can and can’t do with their own local infrastructure and taxpayer dollars. More than twenty states have now passed laws to this effect quite literally written by ISP lobbyists.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Epson is Using its eBay “Trusted Status” to Make Competing Ink Sellers Vanish

      It’s been just over a year since HP got caught using dirty tricks to force its customers to use its official, high-priced ink, and now it’s Epson’s turn to get in on the act.

      Epson claims that ink-cartridges that are compatible with its printers violate a nonspecific patent or patents in nonspecific ways, and on the strength of those vague assertions, they have convinced eBay to remove many third-party ink sellers’ products, without any scrutiny by eBay.

    • eBay must stop Epson’s patent abuse

      Epson are engaging in a campaign to stop resellers from stocking certain Epson-compatible ink cartridges, alleging patent infringements. No manufacturer has been taken to court, and no court judgment exists to date.

      eBay allow Epson and other trusted manufacturers to remove listings under their VeRO programme, but appear to only allow patent violations as a reason for a trusted takedown in Europe.

    • Trademarks
      • Google May be a Verb, but Verb Use Alone Does Not Constitute Genericness

        Just Google it. Can you Google the score? Have you Googled the restaurant’s reviews? These are all common phrases in today’s internet-reliant society, and it’s entirely due to the creation of Google and its widespread success. By all measures, this should be a good thing for Google. Its company’s primary trademark, Google, has become such an integral part of society that it is now ingrained in our everyday vocabulary as a verb, and even further ingrained in our everyday usage. But for a company with valuable intellectual property rights in its Google trademark, its everyday usage in a general sense, meaning to perform an internet-based search, whether through Google or another search engine, could prove disadvantageous at some point in the future.

    • Copyrights
      • Florida’s top court stops 1960s band from earning pre-1972 copyright royalties

        Members of 1960s rock band The Turtles have lost a major legal battle in their quest to collect copyright royalties from their old hit songs.

        The Florida Supreme Court held today (PDF) that the state doesn’t recognize any copyrights in pre-1972 music recordings, despite the band’s arguments to the contrary. All seven justices concurred in the ruling.

      • What if You Had to Worry About a Lawsuit Every Time You Linked to an Image Online?

        A photographer and a photo agency are teaming up to restart a legal war against online linking in the United States.

        When Internet users browse websites containing images, those images often are retrieved from third-parties, rather than the author of the website. Sometimes, unbeknownst to the website author, the linked image infringes someone else’s copyright.

      • The Good News: You Can Download Hawking’s PhD For Free; The Bad News: It Took 50 Years To Make It Happen

        That’s great, as is the free availability of Hawking’s PhD. But the question for both has to be: why has it taken so long — 50 years in the case of the thesis? Even allowing for the fact that the Internet was not a mass medium for 30 of those 50 years, there was nothing stopping Cambridge University putting PhDs online from the mid-1990s. Similarly, why make depositing theses as open access optional? The University would be quite justified in requiring the thesis of any PhD it grants to be online and freely downloadable immediately under a suitable CC license. The moment to make that happen is now, not in another 10 years’ time.

      • Copyright Office Will Renew Previous DMCA Exemptions Without Much Fuss — But Why Is This Even Necessary?

        For years we’ve written about the idiocy of the DMCA’s 1201 triennial review. If you don’t recall, Section 1201 of the DMCA is the “anti-circumvention” part of the law, saying that anything that gets around DRM is, itself, copyright infringement. This was so obviously stupid and counterproductive when it passed, and Congress knew it was so obviously stupid and counterproductive, that it included an even stupider “safety valve” to deal with the obviously bad results of the law. That safety valve, known as the “triennial review” is that every three years, people need to beg and plead with the Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress to make explicit exemptions from the law, where circumventing DRM won’t be considered infringing. Over the years, this lengthy and costly process has at least allowed certain key exemptions for security and academic research. Though, of course, even when exemptions are granted, it’s often a hot mess.

      • FRANCE, SPAIN & PORTUGAL IMPOSE TROJAN © HORSE ON COUNCIL AGENDA

        On 26 October, Statewatch leaked 2 new Council documents on the censorship filter in Article 13. Both documents touch upon the notion of a ‘communication to the public’ and the interplay with the e-Commerce Directive.

Benoît Battistelli Still Involved in Politics, Probably in Defiance of Clear Rules for International Civil Servants

Friday 27th of October 2017 03:18:40 AM

He is alleged to have used political connections to install Campinos in a position of power and also get himself appointed as President

Summary: Benoît Battistelli turns out to still be involved in Saint-Germain-en-Laye politics

THE EPO long ago departed from the Rule of Law.

As we pointed out over a year and a half ago, Battistelli should not be doing politics. It is not allowed for international civil servants, as per ILOAT, which said that “…an international civil servant, though entitled to hold his own political views, must stand aloof from demonstrations of adherence to a political party. Integrity, loyalty to the international civil service, independence and impartiality are the standards required of an international civil servant and they require him to keep clear of involvement in national party politics.”

On Wednesday the French media posted this article with a mugshot of Battistelli. A reader has sent us a translation of the (only) part talking about Benoît Battistelli:

Douze adjoints à Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Le 6e adjoint a également été élu : Benoît Battistelli, jusqu’ici conseiller municipal chargé du théâtre, prend le poste d’adjoint à la Culture.

« Benoît Battistelli va retrouver une délégation qu’il connaît bien et l’équipe que nous formions va se reformer sous un autre format », a déclaré le maire, qui était lui-même adjoint à la Culture avant de devenir maire de Saint-Germain.

In English:

Twelve deputy mayors at Saint-Germain-en-Laye

The 6th deputy mayor has been elected as well: Benoît Battistelli, up to now municipal councillor for theater, takes the post of the deputy mayor for culture.

« Benoît Battistelli will meet a delegation he knows well and the team we will form will reshape in a different format », declared the mayor, who himself had been deputy mayor for culture before he became the mayor of Saint-Germain.

Nicolas Sarkozy and the Bygmalion affair aside, Battistelli is still associated with that party and does, in his capacity as a politician, get involved in local politics. But it’s not like the Council or Dr. Ernst would dare oust him for it.

New EPC Cartoon

Friday 27th of October 2017 02:54:22 AM

Summary: The cartoon anticipates/extrapolates the impact of the latest reform on the future patent quality and possible consequences for holders of European Patents after Brexit

Context: The organisational merger of large parts of DG1 and DG2, which is currently being implemented, respects the wording of Rule 9 EPC but it conflicts with its spirit. The introduction of a direct reporting line between the new COOs and the president give him even more control over the patent examination process while marginalising the roles of VP1 and VP2. [the direct reporting links are shown in the organigram of the new structure, taken from epo.org]


The new structure at EPO (large view)

Rule 9:

Administrative structure of the European Patent Office

(1) The European Patent Office shall be divided administratively into Directorates-General, to which the departments specified in Article 15(a) to (e), and the services set up to deal with legal matters and the internal administration of the Office, shall be assigned.

(2) Each Directorate-General shall be directed by a Vice-President. The assignment of a Vice-President to a Directorate-General shall be decided by the Administrative Council, after the President of the European Patent Office has been consulted.

Professor Siegfried Broß Again Complains About the Situation at the EPO and Issues With the UPC

Thursday 26th of October 2017 06:29:06 PM

Failure of European media should alarm also those outside the EPO

Summary: In spite of the suspicious absence of real coverage/journalism regarding the Unitary Patent (as opposed to puff pieces penned by Team UPC), voices come out in opposition of the Unitary Patent and comments continue to be deleted (usually by Team UPC, which orchestrates a media blackout on UPC matters)

Professor Siegfried Broß is no stranger to the EPO scandals. Being retired probably means that he has more time to study the situation and earlier this year he wrote a very long article about it (in German).

“Being retired probably means that he has more time to study the situation and earlier this year he wrote a very long article about it (in German).”Broß is loved by EPO employees and it’s easy to see why; he says the truth about Team Battistelli (comparing what Battistelli has made of the EPO to “Guantánamo Bay”). He, unlike many in his profession (in active service), speaks truth to power.

Earlier today a pro-UPC blog (Kluwer Patent Blog) published this new interview with Broß. It is already being discussed by Team UPC (see here for example) and the introduction is as follows: “European states lack awareness of their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and have established associations such as the EPO and the UPC, without anyone accounting for guarantees with regard to democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Professor Siegfried Broß said this in an interview with Kluwer IP Law about the constitutional complaint that has been filed against German ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement. Broß is a former judge of the Xth Civil Panel of the Federal Court of Justice (1986-1998), responsible among others for patent cases, and of the German Federal Constitutional Court (FCC, 1998-2010).”

“He, unlike many in his profession (in active service), speaks truth to power.”Broß clarifies that he has nothing to do with the UPC complaint and has in fact never spoken to the complainant, who is also German. Looking down at the comments section, it is already disrupted (again) by the same anti-SUEPO commenter whom we prefer to ignore.

Don’t expect Team UPC to draw much attention to this interview. They reject or hide what does not suit their agenda. Earlier today, for example, Fiona Nicolson from Bristows did some more spin. “Another draft Statutory Instrument (The Unified Patent Court (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2017) is currently before the UK Parliament,” she wrote. Actually, the UPC is pretty much abandoned here and it was removed off the agenda (Bristows did not report that, it preferred for nobody to notice).

Censorship and omissions are very commonplace when it comes to UPC matters. We have already caught, on numerous occasions, IP Kat and Kluwer Patent Blog censoring comments that were hostile towards the UPC. They always have their excuses ready, but it happened so many times that it’s clearly not attributable to technical errors.

IP Kat itself is having credibility issues, having decided to nuke almost 40 comments and make a blanket statement about them. There are new comments being posted about censorship of comments (we can imagine that these too may be filtered). Among them:

All very well, Merpel. But why delete all of the comments and not just the “offensive” ones?

I had not forgotten the “rules” for posting on EPO-related matters. Indeed, I took great care to follow them. So I am particularly offended that my comments were deleted. Could you please therefore extend me the courtesy of restoring them (as well as all of the other comments that comply with the “rules”)?

Here is another example:

Does this count as a personal attack on an identifiable individual?

“The current EPO President Benoît Battistelli has been attacking all parts of the EPO with ruthless efficiency. The strands of this are almost too numerous to enumerate, but Merpel will attempt a brief summary. (Most of the posts on this topic are labelled “Eponia” so a search on this should reveal to any keen readers the majority of Merpel’s posts.)

A Board of Appeal member remains in limbo having been suspended, but the Enlarged Board of Appeal three times (showing admirable and rare backbone) having declined (also noted here) to propose his removal from office.
The staff representation has been emasculated, and the main staff union SUEPO has been constantly under attack, with four of its officers either sacked or demoted on dubious charges (see posts here and here).
The Boards of Appeal have likewise been emasculated and banished to Haar, approved by the AC last October, seemingly in retaliation for the lack of compliance of the Enlarged Board of Appeal with the President’s wishes.
Examination quotas have been continually increased for Examiners, and while the mantra about “quality not affected” is often raised, there is actually no proper assessment of examination quality, with many reports that it is suffering. The astonishing 40% increase in granted patents in 2016 has been widely reported, although this is presumably partly due to the changed examination priorities which, inter alia, involve progressing rapidly to grant cases that are clearly allowable.
The social situation at the EPO has deteriorated with repeated amendments to the employment regulations, and the atmosphere between Examiners and managers grows increasingly toxic.”

The last comment says this:

“The overwhelming majority of comments were purely libellous ad hominem attacks on a man that has not even taken office.”

That is simply NOT true. Those very few posts that would fall into that category could have easily moderated out.

For anyone interested in making up their own mind, the original posts are hosted as a PDF a the (rather opinionated) Techrights site.

People are always safe to comment in Techrights. We delete logs so we cannot comply with searches and we never ever deleted even a single comment. Alternatively, get in touch with us in the usual ways. Our intention is to help inform staff and stakeholders — something which mainstream media in Europe is evidently unwilling to do (with few exceptions every now and then).

Speaking of mainstream media in Europe, someone sent us this new article about “Battistelli a la culture,” to quote the sender, who said s/he had “[p]icked this [in the] morning in the news…”

Can anyone translate it for us please? It’s in French. We try not to rely on anything automated. It might help to know what Battistelli plans to do when his term is finished.

The European Commission Has Essentially Invalided Many European Patents (EPs) for Being Out of Scope; Are Software Patents (CII) Next?

Thursday 26th of October 2017 05:47:49 PM

Summary: Now that the European Commission openly intervenes in matters pertaining to the EPC and granted patents, will it belatedly revoke all these software patents (granted over the years by the EPO)?

IT is no secret that the EPO grants software patents in Europe. We have been writing about this for many years and insiders now speak about this anonymously; they’re not happy about it, nor are they pleased with the systematic decline in quality of EPs.

“Are software patents next on the agenda? Will European software patents finally be eradicated?”Yesterday, AA Thornton & Co’s Alex Hughes wrote about EPO changes, but not EPO scandals. They never mention the scandals. They’re afraid to rock the boat. Instead, Hughes wrote about “EPO Guidelines for Examination 2017″ and concluded with the following portion about intervention by the European Commission (which makes EPO feel like more of an EU institution):

The Guidelines have also been updated to reflect amended Rules 27 and 28 which came into force on 1 July 2017. These rules are discussed here in detail and concern the exclusion of products exclusively obtained by essentially biological processes following the Notice of the European Commission from November 2016.

Are software patents next on the agenda? Will European software patents finally be eradicated?

Barbara Rigby from Dehns also wrote about the subject (earlier today under the title “Changes to EPO Guidelines”) and here is what she said:

Products of essentially biological processes Section G-II, 5.2-5.5

The Guidelines have been updated to reflect the amendments to Rules 27 and 28 EPC that came into effect as of 1 July 2017 (with retrospective effect). Thus, the Guidelines set out that plants and animals exclusively obtained by essentially biological processes are excluded from patentability under Article 53(b) EPC.

It’s about time they also excluded everything the EPO calls “CII” (basically software patents by another name). Sadly, however, there’s heavy lobbying and earlier today IAM mentioned Microsoft AstroTurfing groups such as ACT (Association for Competitive Technology) and IP Europe. It’s about the European Commission DGs and here is the relevant part:

In its report PaRR states that the DGs squaring off against each other include, on one side, Competition and on the other Internal Market and Industry, and Research. The former backs calls from users of SEPs, including companies represented by the BigTech-sponsored, US-based ACT The App Association, for a prohibition on use-based licensing of SEPs; while the latter are supportive of the position taken by the likes of IP Europe – whose members include Nokia, Ericsson, Orange and the Fraunhofer Institute – which claims use-based licensing is the only way to fairly reward companies that invest billions in R&D and to incentivise them to develop standards that allow interoperability. With 5G on the horizon and the IoT on everyone’s mind, this is a live and highly important debate.

The term “IoT”, as we explained before, is just a Trojan horse and a buzzword; they’re trying to sneak software patents tax into just about every device out there.

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