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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 2 hours 10 min ago

Somebody Should Explain to the Federal Circuit That GUIs are Not Inventions Because PTAB Already Knows It

Saturday 27th of January 2018 10:28:42 AM

The innovative nature typically just boils down to hardware acceleration and CPU/GPU capacity (physical)

Reference: History of the graphical user interface

Summary: While the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) rejects a GUI patent, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) tolerates one, necessitating a deeper technical understanding of why user interfaces aren’t inventions at all

YESTERDAY we wrote about the disaster which is patents on GUIs. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) was responsible for this travesty after the USPTO had granted the patent. Developers generally rely on copyright for code and GUIs are often designed to accommodate users’ familiarity; there’s no need for patents there as patents in this domain would harm both users and developers. GUIs are a design ‘thing’; several months ago [1, 2] we wrote about why designs too should be covered by something like “registered design”, not patents. There are trademarks too, among other things.

Yesterday, Barker Brettell LLP said: “All of these methods of engaging customers will have various electronic user interfaces.”

But don’t grant patents on user interfaces; that would have devastating effects on the whole profession. Not just on physical interfaces but also computer interfaces (rendered on a screen).

It’s worrying to see the patent bar lowered to the point where the layout of buttons is considered an ‘invention’.

Not everyone is easily fooled by this; the technical judges at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), for example, say “no” to patents on GUIs. Here’s a new example:

Earlier this week, the company filed another appeal against a Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruling over one of its GUI patents.

Appeals to CAFC? Section 101 may not be most suitable for dealing with it; common sense, however, ought to tell judges that layout of buttons is mostly certainly not inventive.

The terrible decision from CAFC is still widely celebrated by shouting (ALL CAPS) patent extremists; it’s a disaster to be celebrated by the patent microcosm because this signals to them a ‘softening’ CAFC. Here is what their biggest press outlet wrote two days ago

For the second time this month, the Federal Circuit has sided with patent owners on the issue of patent eligibility under Section 101. Russ August & Kabat partner Benjamin Wang had the winning argument for Core Wireless.

But they misrepresent it somewhat; in one case it was a patent troll seeing all of its patents except one being thrown away; in the second case (GUIs) Section 101 is not even most suitable a test. What the defendant’s strategy ought to have been is, explain to these nontechnical judges that GUIs are not inventions. Because they’re not. Xerox would claim otherwise, having serially bullied companies using patents (e.g. Palm) or passed patents for trolls to do this to Linux (Red Hat and Novell a decade 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, 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.

    • 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
  • 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: 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)
    • 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.

  • 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, 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 (, 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.

And here’s more from Francesca:

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). [] 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.

  • 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, 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, 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.

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