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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 hour 15 min ago

Links 17/12/2017: KStars 2.8.9, GNOME 3.27.3, Parrot Security 3.10

10 hours 2 min ago

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Hands on With elementary OS Powered Centurion Nano Laptop by Alpha Store

      If you want to buy a new laptop, no doubt you should consider the Centurion line. It will be a good choice for you, Linux aficionado. As well as for your Windows-addicted husband/wife/employees. The Centurion Nano is certainly not a “gamer” laptop. However, besides that particular use case, and for an interesting price, you will get a very competent computer, 100% compatible with Linux and usable for a broad range of tasks.

    • FLOSSophobia

      I have seen it many times. “Linux is a cancer”. “Open sauce”. “Linuxtard”. I even remember the teacher who did not bring a laptop for her presentation and, when I offered her my Linux netbook, she rejected it as if I had presented her something illegal. She tried to use an old Windows computer instead but, when the computer failed, she ended up displaying her presentation with my Linux netbook.
      Clearly, this teacher’s position was not based on ignorance or lack of expertise because she knew Linux existed and all she had to do was to display slides. Her refusal was due to indoctrination: she had learned that Linux and non-Microsoft office suites had to be rejected.

  • Kernel Space
    • A thorough introduction to eBPF

      In his linux.conf.au 2017 talk [YouTube] on the eBPF in-kernel virtual machine, Brendan Gregg proclaimed that “super powers have finally come to Linux”. Getting eBPF to that point has been a long road of evolution and design. While eBPF was originally used for network packet filtering, it turns out that running user-space code inside a sanity-checking virtual machine is a powerful tool for kernel developers and production engineers. Over time, new eBPF users have appeared to take advantage of its performance and convenience. This article explains how eBPF evolved how it works, and how it is used in the kernel.

    • Restricting automatic kernel-module loading

      The kernel’s module mechanism allows the building of a kernel with a wide range of hardware and software support without requiring that all of that code actually be loaded into any given running system. The availability of all of those modules in a typical distributor kernel means that a lot of features are available — but also, potentially, a lot of exploitable bugs. There have been numerous cases where the kernel’s automatic module loader has been used to bring buggy code into a running system. An attempt to reduce the kernel’s exposure to buggy modules shows how difficult some kinds of hardening work can be.

    • Container IDs for the audit subsystem

      Linux containers are something of an amorphous beast, at least with respect to the kernel. There are lots of facilities that the kernel provides (namespaces, control groups, seccomp, and so on) that can be composed by user-space tools into containers of various shapes and colors; the kernel is blissfully unaware of how user space views that composition. But there is interest in having the kernel be more aware of containers and for it to be able to distinguish what user space considers to be a single container. One particular use case for the kernel managing container identifiers is the audit subsystem, which needs unforgeable IDs for containers that can be associated with audit trails.

      Back in early October, Richard Guy Briggs posted the second version of his RFC for kernel container IDs that can be used by the audit subsystem. The first version was posted in mid-September, but is not the only proposal out there. David Howells proposed turning containers into full-fledged kernel objects back in May, but seemingly ran aground on objections that the proposal “muddies the waters and makes things more brittle”, in the words of namespaces maintainer Eric W. Biederman.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Unity Continues Crunching More Out Of Crunch Texture Compression

        Unity is one of the big public users of the open-source Crunch DXT texture compression library. While it’s no longer maintained by Rich Geldreich / Binomial, Unity has continued advancing this open-source code to further improve the compression ratio and speed.

        For months Unity has been talking about their promising findings with Crunch. But this is the project that Rich Geldreich, the former Valve developer, previously expressed regret having open-sourced all of it. While he is on to working on better and more advanced technologies at his Binomial startup, Unity is working to squeeze more out of this open-source library.

      • Improving EFL Graphics With Wayland Application Redraws

        Under X, application redraws are tricky to do without tearing because content can be updated at any chosen time with no clear feedback as to when the compositor will read it. EFL uses some clever tricks to this end (check out the state of the art X redraw timing for yourself), but it’s difficult to get right in all cases. For a lot of people this just works, or they’re not sensitive to the issue when it doesn’t.

      • Improved Wayland Application Redraws Coming To Enlightenment’s EFL

        Samsung’s Open-Source Group has been working on making their Wayland support in the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL) even better.

        The latest Wayland work on the Enlightenment/EFL front has been improving the application redraw process. The EFL toolkit with the upcoming v1.21 release will now be hooking into Wayland’s frame callbacks to better dealing with drawing, only drawing when necessary, and doing so without the possibility of tearing.

      • AMD FreeSync For Tear-Free Linux Gaming – Current State In 2017

        If you are thinking of gifting yourself (or someone else) a FreeSync-compatible monitor this holiday season, here’s a look at how the AMD FreeSync support is working right now, the driver bits you need to be aware of, and how it’s all playing out for those wanting to use this tear-free capability for Linux gaming.

    • Benchmarks
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KStars 2.8.9 is released!

        Here comes the last KStars release for 2017! KStars v2.8.9 is available now for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

        Robert Lancaster worked on improving PHD2 support with Ekos. This includes retrieving the guide star image, drift errors and RMS values, among other minor improvements and refactoring of the Ekos PHD2 codebase to support future extensions.

      • KDE Partition Manager 3.3 Arrives With Initial LUKS2 Support
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOME 3.27.3 released

        GNOME 3.27.3, the third development snapshot in the 3.28 development cycle, is now available.

        A few more modules have been ported to meson, and lots of development is happening across all modules. To point out a few highlights, dconf-editor is seeing significant work, and evolution has had many bug fixes.

      • GNOME 3.27.3 Brings More Meson Ports, Redesign To DConf Editor

        Matthias Clasen of Red Hat announced the release of GNOME 3.27.3 this weekend.

        GNOME 3.27.3 is the latest in a string of development releases leading up to the stable GNOME 3.28 debut in March.

      • GNOME 3.28 Desktop Environment Gets Third Development Snapshot, More Meson Ports

        GNOME leader Matthias Clasen announced a few moments ago the availability of the third development snapshot towards the GNOME 3.28 desktop environment for GNU/Linux distributions.

        The development cycle of the upcoming GNOME 3.28 desktop environment continues today with the GNOME 3.27.3 milestone, which ports more components to the Meson build system and adds various improvements to various apps and tools, including the Evolution email and calendar client, NetworkManager network connection manager, and dconf-editor.

      • More Bluetooth (and gaming) features

        Finally, this is the boring part. Benjamin and I reworked code that’s internal to gnome-bluetooth, as used in the Settings panel as well as the Shell, to make it use modern facilities like GDBusObjectManager. The overall effect of this is, less code, less brittle and more reactive when Bluetooth adapters come and go, such as when using airplane mode.

      • Librsvg 2.40.20 is released

        Today I released librsvg 2.40.20. This will be the last release in the 2.40.x series, which is deprecated effectively immediately.

        People and distros are strongly encouraged to switch to librsvg 2.41.x as soon as possible. This is the version that is implemented in a mixture of C and Rust. It is 100% API and ABI compatible with 2.40.x, so it is a drop-in replacement for it. If you or your distro can compile Firefox 57, you can probably build librsvg-2.41.x without problems.

      • NetworkManager 1.10.2 Released with Support for “onlink” IPv4 Routes Attribute

        GNOME developer Beniamino Galvani announced the availability of the first point release of the NetworkManager 1.10 open-source network connection manager software.

        NetworkManager is the most popular network connection manager tool these days, coming pre-installed with numerous GNU/Linux distributions. The latest stable release, NetworkManager 1.10.2, is here about five weeks after the launch of NetworkManager 1.10.0 to add a handful of new features and improvements.

      • Some predictions for 2018

        Ever since Steve Jobs died it has become quite clear in my opinion that the emphasis
        on the traditional desktop is fading from Apple. The pace of hardware refreshes seems
        to be slowing and MacOS X seems to be going more and more stale. Some pundits have already
        started pointing this out and I predict that in 2018 Apple will be no longer consider the
        cool kid on the block for people looking for laptops, especially among the tech savvy crowd.
        Hopefully a good opportunity for Linux on the desktop to assert itself more.

      • Schaller On Linux In 2018: Rust Rules, Apple Declines, Linux Graphics Compete

        Christian Schaller who has long been involved in GNOME/Fedora development while serving as a senior software engineering manager at Red Hat and formerly with Collabora has some bold predictions about 2018 for open-source software.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
    • New Releases
      • NuTyX 9.93 available with cards 2.3.105

        The NuTyX team is please to annonce the 9.93 release of NuTyX.

        NuTyX 9.92 comes with kernel LTS 4.14.6, glibc 2.26, gcc 7.2.0, binutils 2.29.1, python 3.6.0, xorg-server 1.19.5, qt 5.10.0, KDE plasma 5.11.3, KDE Framework 5.41.0, KDE Applications 17.12.0, mate 1.18.2, xfce4 4.12.4, firefox 57.0.2 Quantum, etc…

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Cura, the nice 3D print slicer, is now in Debian Unstable

        After several months of working and waiting, I am happy to report that the nice and user friendly 3D printer slicer software Cura just entered Debian Unstable. It consist of five packages, cura, cura-engine, libarcus, fdm-materials, libsavitar and uranium. The last two, uranium and cura, entered Unstable yesterday. This should make it easier for Debian users to print on at least the Ultimaker class of 3D printers. My nearest 3D printer is an Ultimaker 2+, so it will make life easier for at least me.

      • Derivatives
        • Debian-Based Slax 9.3 Linux OS Enters Beta with Improved EXT4 and NTFS Booting

          Slax 9.3.0 beta is now ready for public testing with persistent support when using Slax from a USB flash drive, allowing you to preserve settings and downloaded files or packages across reboots. It also improves booting from EXT4 and NTFS filesystems.

          Moreover, the default file manager, PCManFM, has been updated to display external drives in the left sidebar, newly installed applications are now automatically added to the xLunch screen, and Wicd is now the default network manager.

        • antiX MX-17 Linux OS Brings Latest Debian GNU/Linux 9.3 “Stretch” Updates

          Powered by Linux kernel 4.13 and using Xfce 4.12.3 as default desktop environment, antiX MX-17 comes six months after the antiX MX-16 release and promises to bring all the latest security patches and software update from the software repositories of the recently released Debian GNU/Linux 9.3 “Stretch” operating system.

          The MX variant ships with all the antiX live features, including persistence up to 20GB, and automatic selection of appropriate drivers for most Broadcom wireless chipsets with minimal user intervention. Being targeted at low-end computers, antiX MX-17 offers a 32-bit PAE kernel for machines with less than 4GB RAM.

        • Parrot Security 3.10 Ethical Hacking OS Adds Full Firejail/AppArmor Sandboxing

          ParrotSec devs released today a new stable version of their Debian-based Parrot Security OS ethical hacking and penetration testing GNU/Linux distribution.

          There are many enhancements implemented in the Parrot Security OS 3.10 release, but the biggest new feature is the introduction of a full Firejail and AppArmor sandboxing system that should proactively protect the operating system from attacks by isolating its components with the combination of various security techniques.

          “The first experiments were already introduced in Parrot 3.9 with the inclusion of Firejail, but we took almost a month of hard work to make it even better with the improvement of many profiles, the introduction of the AppArmor support and enough time to make all the tests,” reads today’s announcement.

        • Parrot 3.10 is out
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Canonical Releases Small Kernel Patch for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS to Fix a Regression

            Last week, Canonical released a kernel update for the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system patching a total of four security issues, including a use-after-free vulnerability in the Netlink subsystem (XFRM), an out-of-bounds read in the GTCO digitizer USB driver, a bug in the associative array implementation, and improper copy-on-write (COW) handling of transparent huge pages.

            However, it would appear that the respective kernel update also introduced a regression, which apparently prevented the use of the Ceph network file system on machines that upgraded to the new kernel versions. Canonical patched the issue and released a new Linux kernel update that addresses the problem on all Ubuntu 16.04 LTS systems, as well as Ubuntu 14.04.5 LTS machines.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Linux Mint 18.3 ‘Sylvia’ Xfce and KDE editions are available for download

              Linux Mint is killing the KDE version of its operaring system — a move some people applaud. That’s what makes the new 18.3 version — named “Sylvia” — so frustrating. It’s bizarre to release a new version of an operating system that essentially has no future. But oh well, here we are. After a short beta period, the KDE distro is now available for download — if you still care. I recommend that KDE loyalists just switch to Kubuntu or Netrunner, but I digress.

              Despite being the final version of Linux Mint KDE, it is still a great alternative to the consistently disappointing Windows 10. After all, it has been discovered that Microsoft is bundling a bug-ridden password-manager with its operating system without user consent! How can you trust such an OS?! Sigh.

            • Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” KDE and Xfce Editions Officially Released, Download Now

              The Linux Mint team released the final Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Xfce and Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” KDE editions to download, as well as an upgrade for existing Linux Mint 18.2 “Sonya” users.

              Previously in beta, the Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” KDE and Xfce editions are now officially released and ready for production use. Just like the Cinnamon and MATE flavors, they are based on Canonical’s long-term supported Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system and use the Linux 4.10 kernel by default for new installations.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Events
    • #PeruRumboGSoC2018 – Session 5

      Today we have celebrated another session for the #PeruRumboGSoC2018 program at CCPP UNI. It was one of the longest sessions we have experienced.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla releases tools and data for speech recognition

        Voice computing has long been a staple of science fiction, but it has only relatively recently made its way into fairly common mainstream use. Gadgets like mobile phones and “smart” home assistant devices (e.g. Amazon Echo, Google Home) have brought voice-based user interfaces to the masses. The voice processing for those gadgets relies on various proprietary services “in the cloud”, which generally leaves the free-software world out in the cold. There have been FOSS speech-recognition efforts over the years, but Mozilla’s recent announcement of the release of its voice-recognition code and voice data set should help further the goal of FOSS voice interfaces.

        There are two parts to the release, DeepSpeech, which is a speech-to-text (STT) engine and model, and Common Voice, which is a set of voice data that can be used to train voice-recognition systems. While DeepSpeech is available for those who simply want to do some kind of STT task, Common Voice is meant for those who want to create their own voice-recognition system—potentially one that does even better (or better for certain types of applications) than DeepSpeech.

  • BSD
    • FreeNAS, World’s Most Popular Storage OS, Gets AMD Ryzen Support, Cloud Sync

      Coming six months after the release of the FreeNAS 11 stable series, the FreeNAS 11.1 update is based on FreeBSD 11.1 and introduces cloud integration, support for AMD Ryzen and Intel Xeon Scalable family of processors, OpenZFS performance improvements, as well as preliminary support for Docker application container engine through a virtual machine built from RancherOS.

      “FreeNAS 11.1 adds a cloud sync (data import/export to the cloud) feature,” reads the announcement. “This new feature lets you sync (similar to backup), move (erase from source), or copy (only changed data) data to and from public cloud providers that include Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Services), Backblaze B2 Cloud, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.”

    • FreeBSD-Based TrueOS 17.12 Focuses on Faster Boot, Bhyve and LibreSSL Support

      en Moore, the creator of the FreeBSD-based TrueOS computer operating system and Lumina desktop environment, released the TrueOS 17.12 update, which introduces multiple enhancements.

      Synced with the FreeBSD 12.0-CURRENT and FreeBSD ports tree software repositories as of December 4 and November 30, 2017, respectively, TrueOS 17.12 is an incremental update to the operating system adding improvements to the OpenRC-based boot process, removable-device management, LibreSSL and SysAdm API integrations, as well as Bhyve support for TrueOS Server Install.

      “We have also been working quite a bit on the server offering of TrueOS, and are pleased to provide new text-based server images with support for Virtualization systems such as bhyve,” said Ken Moore in the release announcement. “This allows for simple server deployments which also take advantage of the TrueOS improvements to FreeBSD.”

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Glibc 2.27 Lands Yet More Performance Optimizations

      Earlier this month I wrote how Intel engineers have been busy with continuing to tune glibc’s performance with FMA and AVX optimizations. That work has continued but also other architectures continue tuning their GNU C Library performance ahead of the expected v2.27 update.

      There has been a ton of optimization work this cycle, particularly on the Intel/x86_64 front. For those with newer Intel 64-bit processors, this next glibc release is shaping up to be a speedy update.

    • GIMP PIcks Up Support For The New Flatpak/FreeDesktop.org Screenshot API

      Hot off the release of the new GIMP 2.9.8 and ahead of the expected GIMP 2.10 release candidates that are expected to begin, a new addition to GIMP is a plug-in supporting the new FreeDesktop.org/Flatpak screenshot API.

      The org.freedesktop.portal.Screenshot specification aims to be a screenshot API that will work not only cross-desktop (e.g. KDE, GNOME, etc) but also work for sandboxed applications (i.e. Flatpak) and also work regardless of whether you are using Wayland or X11.

    • GCC Prepares For Fortran 2018 Support

      The Fortran committee decided last month to rename the upcoming Fortran 2015 programming language update to Fortran 2018. GCC support is being prepped.

      With this updated programming language technical specification not expected to be published until mid-2018, the committee behind this long-standing programming language decided to rename Fortran 2015 to Fortran 2018. Fortran 2018 should further improve interoperability with C code, improve its parallel programming capabilities, support hexadecimal inputs/outputs, and other improvements over Fortran 2008.

  • Public Services/Government
  • Programming/Development
    • Trying Tryton

      The quest to find a free-software replacement for the QuickBooks accounting tool continues. In this episode, your editor does his best to put Tryton through its paces. Running Tryton proved to be a trying experience, though; this would not appear to be the accounting tool we are searching for.
      Tryton is a Python 3 application distributed under the GPLv3 license. Its home page mentions that it is based on PostgreSQL, but there is support for MySQL and SQLite as well. Tryton, it is said, is “a three-tier high-level general purpose application platform” that is “the core base of a complete business solution providing modularity, scalability and security”. The “core base” part of that claim is relevant: Tryton may well be a solid base for the creation of a small-business accounting system, but it is not, out of the box, such a system itself.

    • Who should see Python deprecation warnings?

      As all Python developers discover sooner or later, Python is a rapidly evolving language whose community occasionally makes changes that can break existing programs. The switch to Python 3 is the most prominent example, but minor releases can include significant changes as well. The CPython interpreter can emit warnings for upcoming incompatible changes, giving developers time to prepare their code, but those warnings are suppressed and invisible by default. Work is afoot to make them visible, but doing so is not as straightforward as it might seem.
      In early November, one sub-thread of a big discussion on preparing for the Python 3.7 release focused on the await and async identifiers. They will become keywords in 3.7, meaning that any code using those names for any other purpose will break. Nick Coghlan observed that Python 3.6 does not warn about the use of those names, calling it “a fairly major oversight/bug”. In truth, though, Python 3.6 does emit warnings in that case — but users rarely see them.

Leftovers
  • How a Dorm Room Minecraft Scam Brought Down the Internet

    Originally, prosecutors say, the defendants hadn’t intended to bring down the internet—they had been trying to gain an advantage in the computer game Minecraft.

  • Microsoft’s Edge browser is in serious trouble

    Analytics firm Net Applications revised its methodology to cull bots from its browser share numbers and found that as much as half of the traffic to Edge on Windows 10 was artificially inflated.

  • Science
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Under Threat of Regulation, Profiteers Blame Each Other for High Drug Prices

      Insurance companies receive steep rebates from pharmaceutical companies that are pushing up the price of prescription drugs. However, insurers are not passing the savings down to their customers in the form of lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

      At least, that’s what the drug manufacturing industry claims. If you ask the insurance industry, it’s drug manufacturers that are to blame for the sky-high drug prices that have enraged the public — and forced insurers to raise premiums and deductibles in recent years.

  • Security
    • Mirai IoT Botnet Co-Authors Plead Guilty

      The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday unsealed the guilty pleas of two men first identified in January 2017 by KrebsOnSecurity as the likely co-authors of Mirai, a malware strain that remotely enslaves so-called “Internet of Things” devices such as security cameras, routers, and digital video recorders for use in large scale attacks designed to knock Web sites and entire networks offline (including multiple major attacks against this site).

    • Starbucks Wi-Fi Turned People’s Laptops into Cryptocurrency Miners

      The free Wi-Fi that the Buenos Aires Starbucks offers to its customers was being used to mine for cryptocurrency, and what’s worse, it used people’s laptops to do it.

      The whole thing was discovered by Stensul CEO Noah Dinkin who actually paid a visit to the store and wanted to browse the web using the free Wi-Fi, only to discover that his laptop was unknowingly converted into a cryptocurrency miner.

      He then turned to Twitter to ask Starbucks if they know about the what he described as bitcoin mining taking place without customers knowing about it.

      “Hi Starbucks, did you know that your in-store wifi provider in Buenos Aires forces a 10 second delay when you first connect to the wifi so it can mine bitcoin using a customer’s laptop? Feels a little off-brand,” he said in his tweet.

    • Italian Prosecutor Makes Request to Close Hacking Team Investigation

      The damaging data breach that exposed the secrets of an infamous surveillance tech company might go unsolved forever. After more than two years, the Italian prosecutor who was investigating the attack on the Milan-based Hacking Team has asked the case to be dismissed, according to multiple sources.

      On Monday, the Milan prosecutor Alessandro Gobbis sent a notice to the people under investigation informing them that he had sent the judge a request to shut down the investigation, according to a copy of the document obtained by Motherboard.

    • Google Researcher Finds Flaw in Pre-Installed Windows 10 Password Manager

      Google security researcher Tavis Ormandy, who has previously discovered, reported, and disclosed several major bugs in Windows and its features, came across a new security vulnerability affecting Microsoft users.

      This time, the flaw exists in the Keeper password manager that comes pre-installed in some Windows 10 versions, with Ormandy explaining that it’s similar to a vulnerability that he discovered in August 2016.

      “I remember filing a bug a while ago about how they were injecting privileged UI into pages,” Ormandy explained on December 14. “I checked and, they’re doing the same thing again with this version,” he continues.

    • Face Palm: Windows 10 Bundled A Password Manager That Exposed Your Saved Passwords

      bout 16 months ago, a Google Project Zero researcher found a critical bug in a password manager named Keeper. The bug allowed Keeper to inject its trusted UI into untrusted web pages with a content script. This allowed websites to steal user passwords using techniques like clickjacking.

      In a surprising development, Tavis Ormandy, the same researcher, has found that Microsoft bundled the same password manager with Windows 10. “I recently created a fresh Windows 10 VM with a pristine image from MSDN, and found that a password manager called “Keeper” is now installed by default,” he said. Moreover, a similar flaw was again found in this pre-installed password manager, which remained present for eight days.

    • British companies ‘stockpile’ Bitcoin to use as ransomware hush money
    • “Zealot” Campaign Uses NSA Exploits to Mine Monero on Windows and Linux Servers

      An aggressive and sophisticated malware campaign is currently underway, targeting Linux and Windows servers with an assortment of exploits with the goal of installing malware that mines the Monero cryptocurrency.

      The campaign was detected by security researchers from F5 Networks, who named it Zealot, after zealot.zip, one of the files dropped on targeted servers.

    • Why Hackers Are in Such High Demand, and How They’re Affecting Business Culture

      News headlines often focus on the hackers who launch cyber attacks and leak confidential data such as National Security Agency exploits, sensitive political emails, and unreleased HBO programming, but hackers can also affect organizations in positive ways. White hat hackers (as opposed to black hats) increasingly are finding employment in companies as security researchers.

      From conducting penetration tests and identifying vulnerabilities in software to providing companies with guidance about emerging threats, white hat hackers bring considerable value to organizations and play an instrumental role in helping them defend against today’s advanced threats. White hats are highly coveted not only for their knowledge but also for their unique mindsets and ability to change corporate culture.

    • We need to talk about mathematical backdoors in encryption algorithms

      Security researchers regularly set out to find implementation problems in cryptographic algorithms, but not enough effort is going towards the search for mathematical backdoors, two cryptography professors have argued.

      Governments and intelligence agencies strive to control and bypass or circumvent cryptographic protection of data and communications. Backdooring encryption algorithms is considered as the best way to enforce cryptographic control.

      In defence of cryptography, researchers have set out to validate technology that underpins the secure exchange of information and e-commerce. Eric Filiol, head of research at ESIEA, the operational cryptology and virology lab, argued that only implementation backdoors (at the protocol/implementation/management level) are generally considered. Not enough effort is being put into looking for mathematical backdoors or by-design backdoors, he maintains.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • NSA Head Accuses Turkey of Pushing Extreme Islamist Ideology

      The United State national security adviser, national security adviser, General H.R. McMaster, said Tuesday that Turkey was a prime source of funding that contributes to the spread of extremist ideology, reported Voice of America.

      “A lot of Islamist groups have learned from” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), said McMaster.

      It is he said a “model of really operating through civil society,” McMaster said, “then the education sector, then the police and judiciary, and then the military to consolidate power in the hands of a particular party, which is something we’d prefer not to see and is sadly contributing to the drift of Turkey away from the West.”

    • Stopping Armageddon

      American arrogance and President Donald Trump’s delusional worldview have brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Before it is too late, American citizens must make overwhelmingly clear that we do not want millions of Americans or others to perish in a reckless attempt by the Trump administration to overthrow the North Korean regime or denuclearize it by force.

      We would rather accept a nuclear-armed North Korea that is deterred by America’s overwhelming threat of force than risk a US-led war of choice, one that would almost surely involve nuclear weapons. Yet National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster has explicitly said that Trump rejects “accept and deter.” The danger from Trump could not be greater.

    • Trump, Pence, Jerusalem: the Christian Zionism connection

      Donald Trump announced on 6 December that the United States was recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Most notable about his speech was not what he said, or how he said it, but the presence and demeanour of vice-president Mike Pence. Though an element almost entirely missing from the reams of analysis following Trump’s statement, Pence’s beliefs do much to explain Trump’s motivation.

      Washington’s declaration of Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital has provoked sharp criticism across the world, most strongly in the Middle East where 57 members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called for East Jerusalem to be accepted as the capital of a Palestinian state. This may count for little in Trump’s White House, though there might be slightly more concern over the attitudes of the European Union in general and France in particular. Even Britain under Theresa May added its pennyworth.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Two Reuters journalists arrested in Myanmar, face official secrets charges

      Myanmar’s government said on Wednesday that police had arrested two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. The reporters had been working on stories about a military crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rahkine State that has caused almost 650,000 people to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

      The Ministry of Information said in a statement on its Facebook page that the journalists and two policemen face charges under the British colonial-era Official Secrets Act. The 1923 law carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

    • Julian Assange welcomes UK ruling that WikiLeaks is a media organisation
    • Whistleblower Guardian for Spies Escorted Out of Intelligence Agency Building

      The chairman of the the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is demanding to know why an employee in charge of whistleblower outreach was removed from his workplace “pending a tribunal.”

      “I just learned that Dan Meyer, the Executive Director of Intelligence Community Whistleblowing and Source Protection, was placed on administrative leave and escorted out of his offices pending a tribunal before senior executives to consider his proposed termination,” wrote Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, in a letter sent November 29 to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Wayne Stone, the acting director of Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community.

      The intelligence community inspector general is tasked with conducting audits across the intelligence agencies and independently responding to whistleblower retaliation complaints.

      The watchdog office has been involved in independent reviews of the Boston Marathon bombing, as well as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

      It has also recently been embroiled in a turf war fraught with competing personalities and visions on how to provide resources for potential whistleblowers, as reported in an investigation by Foreign Policy. Dan Meyer, the man in charge of outreach to whistleblowers, had his duties and privileges revoked, and now he has been kicked out of his office pending an investigation.

      Officials are still deciding whether or not to fire him, though have not provided public reason for their actions. Some inside the intelligence community remain concerned that sidelining Meyer, who helps employees field complaints legally, could inadvertently lead to the next major leaker, like former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

      In the meantime, there is no confirmed intelligence community inspector general. Wayne Stone, the acting inspector general, has been studying at Harvard most weeks since Chuck McCullough, who previously held the position, retired in early March.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Wildlife Wiseacres, Still Here (For Now)

      Taking a break from a world of woe, we present the winners of this year’s Comedy Wildlife Photo Competition. The contest, featuring winning images culled from entries from 86 countries, was founded by two wildlife photographers working in conjunction with the Born Free Foundation, an international wildlife charity working to save animal lives, protect rare species, end captive animal exploitation and help communities and wildlife live together without conflict. This year’s images, like last year’s, serve to raise awareness of conservation issues and remind us of all of nature’s grit and grace and exuberance – which, despite our daily calamities, still abounds. Just lookit these guys. There must be hope.

  • Finance
    • A Guide to Why the Trump-Republican Tax Plan is a Disgrace (for When you Confront Your Republican Uncle Bob During the Holidays)

      Here are the 3 main Republican arguments in favor of the Republican tax plan, followed by the truth.

      1. It will make American corporations competitive with foreign corporations, which are taxed at a lower rate.

      Rubbish.

      (1) American corporations now pay an effective rate (after taking deductions and tax credits) that’s just about the same as most foreign based corporations pay.

      (2) Most of these other countries also impose a “Value Added Tax” on top of the corporate tax.

      (3) When we cut our corporate rate from 35% to 20%, other nations will cut their corporate rates in order to be competitive with us – so we gain nothing anyway.

      (4) Most big American corporations who benefit most from the Republican tax plan aren’t even “American.” Over 35 percent of their shareholders are foreign (which means that by cutting corporate taxes we’re giving a big tax cut to those foreign shareholders). 20 percent of their employees are foreign, while many Americans work for foreign-based corporations.

      (5) The “competitiveness” of America depends on American workers, not on “American” corporations. But this tax plan will make it harder to finance public investments in education, health, and infrastructure, on which the future competitiveness of American workers depends.

      (6) American corporations already have more money than they know what to do with. Their profits are at record levels. They’re using them to buy back their shares of stock, and raise executive pay. That’s what they’ll do with the additional $1 trillion they’ll receive in this tax cut.

    • The Other Tech Bubble

      The issue is bigger than any single scandal, I told him. As headlines have exposed the troubling inner workings of company after company, startup culture no longer feels like fodder for gentle parodies about ping pong and hoodies. It feels ugly and rotten. Facebook, the greatest startup success story of this era, isn’t a merry band of hackers building cutesy tools that allow you to digitally Poke your friends. It’s a powerful and potentially sinister collector of personal data, a propaganda partner to government censors, and an enabler of discriminatory advertising.

    • The Winners and Losers in the Tax Bill
    • Trump Is Playing a Fascinating Game With NAFTA Negotiations
    • Final GOP Tax Bill Won’t Ding Graduate Students
    • Tentative Tax Deal Scraps Hit on Tuition for Graduate Students

      A provision to treat graduate school tuition waivers as taxable income won’t be in the final House-Senate tax package, according to Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana and one other person briefed on a tentative deal reached Wednesday.

    • Patreon scraps new service fee and apologizes to users

      Conte published a blog post laying out the core problems, alongside an apology. “Many of you lost patrons, and you lost income. No apology will make up for that, but nevertheless, I’m sorry,” it reads. “We recognize that we need to be better at involving you more deeply and earlier in these kinds of decisions and product changes. Additionally, we need to give you a more flexible product and platform to allow you to own the way you run your memberships. I know it will take a long time for us to earn back your trust. But we are utterly devoted to your success and to getting you sustainable, reliable income for being a creator.”

    • Children are becoming problem gamblers due to a legal loophole

      Huge numbers of children are gambling online, the UK Gambling Commission reports. Around 25,000 children aged between 11 and 16 meet the definition of a problem gambler, according to a psychological questionnaire. And around 370,000 children in England, Scotland and Wales – 12 per cent of the total – have gambled in the past week.

    • An Anonymous Early Adopter Is Donating 5,057 BTC ($86M) to Charity

      For people who don’t believe the Pineapple Fund is real, the owner has provided an address and digital proof of ownership utilizing the bitcoin blockchain. The Pineapple Fund has already given money to six charities including Watsi ($1Mn), The Water Project ($1Mn), the Electronic Frontier Foundation ($1Mn), the Bitgive Foundation ($500K), MAPS psychedelic studies ($1Mn), and the Open BSD Foundation ($500K).

    • Risks abound with Ethereum and its Application Developers

      Ethereum is a public, peer-to-peer network with its own unique digital currency called Ether. It was created by Vitalik Buterin in 2014 and it aimed to be a platform on which smart contracts can be built and executed. The Ethereum blockchain is modeled in a way that would enable it to store different categories of data. The computer programs operating on the Ethereum blockchain accesses and uses this data. These computer programs are called decentralized apps, or “Dapps”.

    • Senator Bob Corker Said He Hasn’t Read The Tax Bill, Denies Changing His Vote In Exchange For Personal Tax Breaks

      In an exclusive interview with International Business Times, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn, denied knowing about a controversial last-minute provision slipped into the Republican tax bill that could personally enrich him. Corker, the lone Republican to vote against the original Senate bill, which didn’t include the provision, also admitted he has not read the final tax bill he announced he will support.

      A trio of Democratic Senators, meanwhile, slammed the provision, which was first reported on by IBT.

      Corker’s vote is considered pivotal in the closely divided Senate and he could be in a position to make or break the landmark legislation. He declared his support for the final reconciled version of the bill on Friday after GOP lawmakers added a provision that could benefit his vast real estate holdings — a provision that Corker denied having any knowledge of.

    • Rebuking Trump, Millionaire’s Viral Video Shows How GOP Plan Is ‘Just Big Tax Cut for People Like Me’

      Hours before Republicans are expected to release the final version of their tax bill, a new video illustrates how the plan “is a perfect demonstration of how the wealthy use their power to bend the rules in their favor.”

      The video, released by NowThis, features Eric Schoenberg, a millionaire who—unlike President Donald Trump—has released his tax returns, and uses them to give a crystal-clear look at how the proposal will benefit the super rich like himself and the president.

    • Patriotic Millionaire Shows His Taxes
    • Latest Student Loan Debacle Is Ultimate Example of Trump’s Campaign Con

      In Columbus, with Hillary Clinton running away with the election, Trump unveiled what even The Washington Post described as a “pretty radical student debt plan.” The basic idea was income-based repayment capped at 12.5 percent, then total loan forgiveness after 15 years of payments.

    • Meet the Woman Who’s Boosting Arizona’s Mom-and-Pop Business Culture

      Kimber Lanning stands at just 5 feet 1 inch. But in the Arizona economic landscape where she acts as a fierce advocate for local economies, she is a giant.

      In 2003, Lanning started Local First Arizona. She was the only employee, and didn’t take any salary. Now, with 3,200 members, it is the largest coalition of local businesses in the country. The coalition’s staff of 24 manages programs ranging from an annual local business fall festival to the state’s first directory of locally grown food to a program in Spanish for micro-entrepreneurs.

    • The GOP’s False Promises Emerge as Tax Bill Enters Reconciliation

      In a political nail-biter, the GOP finally passed their tax reform bill in the Senate — thanks in large part to a number of late-entrance amendments and lofty promises. But once Vice President Mike Pence provided the tie-breaking vote, the Republican party moved quickly to the next stage: reconciliation.

      And that’s when a number of wavering senators learned that the last-minute offers they received in exchange for their votes were about as long-lasting as President Donald Trump’s breaks from Twitter.

      It took a variety of sweeteners to finally get skeptical GOP senators on board with the tax reform bill. But the reconciliation process is stripping a number of those amendments out of the final bill, leaving legislators wondering if there was any good faith in the negotiations at all.

    • Former diplomat to lead remainers’ bid to shift public opinion on Brexit

      One of Britain’s most senior former diplomats, Lord Malloch-Brown, is to take a lead role in coordinating the pro-remain groups towards a more coherent campaign focused on shifting public opinion before MPs hold a “meaningful vote” next autumn on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

      Behind the scenes discussions between the disparate anti-hard Brexit groups have led to an agreement that their messages need to be far better coordinated if public opinion is to be shifted decisively in the next nine months.

      Malloch-Brown, a former UN deputy secretary general, political communications consultant and Foreign Office minister under Gordon Brown, said: “We don’t necessarily need a single organisation, but we do want everyone on the same page.

    • The Grenfell Fire UK Establishment Circus

      The Grenfell Tower fire establishment circus is well and truly underway, placed in motion by a ruling class never more efficient than when managing and palliating the anger of the poor after presiding over their deaths in acts of social murder, euphemistically referred to as ‘tragedies’, whenever they occur.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • President Niinistö calls for criminal investigation of intelligence leak to paper

      He also points out that as intelligence agencies in Finland are now being granted larger operational scopes, it falls to the media to keep even closer track of their activities.

    • Disney buying Fox in US$52.4 billion-plus deal

      Fox shareholders, who include the Murdochs, will get a 25% stake in the larger Disney.

    • Disney Makes Deal for 21st Century Fox, Reshaping Entertainment Landscape

      Mr. Iger is buying 21st Century Fox’s minority stake in Hulu, resulting in majority control of the streaming service by Disney, which previously owned 30 percent. Comcast and Time Warner also have stakes in Hulu.

    • Vox Sentences: Disney wants to own all of the media
    • NYT Failed to Note Op-Ed Authors’ Funder Has $2 Billion Motive for Attacking Argentina

      Mark Dubowitz and Toby Dershowitz, two executives at the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), took to the op-ed pages of the New York Times (12/11/17) to celebrate last week’s announcement that Argentina’s former president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, would face treason charges for her alleged role in covering up Iran’s alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aries that killed 85 people.

      But their op-ed fails to disclose a serious financial conflict of interest underpinning their attacks on Kirchner: One of FDD’s biggest donors financed a multi-year public diplomacy campaign against Kirchner, all while attempting to collect $2 billion in debt from Argentina.

      Indeed, legitimate questions exist about the bombing and suspicious 2015 death of Argentine special investigator Alberto Nisman, who claimed in 2006 that Iran ordered the bombing. But Kirchner’s supporters fear that Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri is using judicial reforms and charges against Kirchner to remove his political opposition.

    • We shouldn’t live in a country that so narrowly defeats Roy Moore. But we do. So let’s celebrate

      Commiserating and kvetching with a fellow writer Tuesday night, I confessed that it had been six weeks since my last opinion piece. I hadn’t been sure what to write, but mainly there was the issue of hope. News says, “This is the way things are,” and opinion writing often replies, “This is the way they could and should be.” Hope bridges the chasm between the present and an imagined future. Others had managed that leap; I hadn’t.

      Talking about the way we should be had felt as pointless and miserable to me as repeatedly stepping on a rake with a pie attached to its handle. “Roy Moore will win, then net neutrality will get repealed,” I mumbled, then unfurled a long line of expletives. (Yes, I’ve called the hotlines; I’ve written the emails.) She shook her head in solemn agreement while I excused myself to the restroom.

    • Billionaire, former journalist face off for Chile presidency

      Chileans vote in an uncertain runoff presidential election on Sunday that will determine if the world’s top copper producer stays on its center-left course or joins a tide of Latin American nations turning to the right in recent years.

      Billionaire former President Sebastian Pinera, 68, a conservative who was considered the front-runner but earned fewer votes than expected in last month’s first round, faces center-left journalist and senator Alejandro Guillier, 64.

    • Fascism’s return and Trump’s war on youth

      Fascism is all too often relegated to the history books.

      The word conjures up a period in which civilized societies treated democracy with contempt, engaged in acts of systemic violence, practised extermination and elimination, supported an “apocalyptic populism,” suppressed dissent, promoted a hyper-nationalism, displayed contempt for women, embraced militarism as an absolute ideal and insisted on obedience to a self-proclaimed prophet.

      But the seeds that produced such fascist horrors have once again sprung to life, returning in new social and political forms.

    • Rebranding Hate: What Poland’s Independence Day Protests Tell Us About Europe’s Rightward Shift

      Last month, Poland once again made international headlines when its Independence Day demonstrations — normally a moment dedicated to celebrating the return of the country’s sovereignty — were overwhelmed by 60,000 far-right protestors. Holding up placards with signs like “Europe will be white or uninhabited” and screaming “Pure Poland, white Poland!” as they proudly waved White Power flags, the Polish far-right were also joined by foreign representatives of other extremist groups.

    • The Growing Case for Impeaching Donald Trump, From Lawlessness and Corruption to Abuse of Power

      On Thursday, another Democrat endorsed articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, a resolution presented in November by a half-dozen Democrats accusing Trump of obstruction of justice and other offenses. Democrat Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire is the latest official to join the effort and is one of 12 House Democrats who represent a district won by Trump in 2016. This comes as a petition for impeachment launched in October by Democratic donor Tom Steyer has garnered more than 3.5 million supporters. At least 17 communities around the country are now on record calling for impeachment proceedings against Trump. “It is not acceptable to say that we will simply kick the can down the road and wait until after an election cycle to lay the groundwork for the impeachment proceedings,” says constitutional attorney John Bonifaz, co-founder and director of Free Speech for People. “We need to be laying that groundwork and making this call now.”

    • Medics, Observers & a Journalist Face 50 Years in Prison in First Trial of J20 Inauguration Protests

      Final arguments are underway today in Washington, D.C., in a case that could shape the future of free speech and the right to protest in the United States: the first trial of the nearly 200 people arrested during President Donald Trump’s inauguration. As demonstrators, journalists and observers gathered in Northwest D.C. after the inauguration on January 20, some separated from the group and vandalized nearby businesses and vehicles. Police officers then swept hundreds of people in the vicinity into a blockaded corner in a process known as “kettling,” where they carried out mass arrests of everyone in the area. The first so-called J20 trial could go to a jury as early as today, and involves six people, including one journalist, Alexei Wood, a freelance photojournalist. The defendants face multiple felony and misdemeanor charges, including multiple counts of destruction of property. Evidence against the defendants has been scant. We get an update from Jude Ortiz, a member of the organizing crew of Defend J20 and the Mass Defense Committee chair for the National Lawyers Guild. He’s been in court throughout the first J20 trial.

    • Honduras, the country where even the police are fed up with electoral fraud and violence

      After the elections of November 26, when the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TES) – with an unprecedented 10-hour delay and under pressure from international observers – announced that the Alianza de Oposición’s candidate Salvador Nasralla had an advantage of 5% over the current president, Juan Orlando Hernández, citizens celebrated the triumph on social media, even though many citizens still suspected that fraud and institutional complicity before the final count count change the scenario. It also should be noted that the incumbent should not have been a candidate for the presidency to begin with because the Constitution prohibits reelection through an unmodifiable article.

      Despite the seemingly irreversible advantage in favor of the opposition, the president of the TSE refused to officially recognize Nasralla’s victory and advised that an announcement should not be made before the final count. In subsequent statements to the Salvadoran digital newspaper El Faro, Ramiro Lobo, substitute magistrate of the TSE, said that the president “did not want to disclose the results because his party, the National Party, was losing”. According to him, the counting system machines, although slow, worked as expected in the first hours and days after, in which “Nasralla had an advantage that already set a trend. But when the system was back up after collapsing for a short time, the trend had already reversed and remained that way”. After the apparent technical collapse and subsequent recovery of the system, the results disclosed by the TSE showed a clear advantage of the pro-government candidate over the opposition candidate. Thanks to the magic of the voting system’s collapse, a trend that seemed irreversible was reversed.

      Protests and road blockades were immediate, as were police and military repression. Like a déjà vu, the events invoked the ghosts of the crisis that preceded the 2009 coup. However, determined Honduran citizens remained in the streets. In light of looting of the private sector and under political accusations of being the cause of the chaos, on December 1 the government decreed a State of Emergency for 10 days, in order to keep the population silenced in house arrest. But as in previous times in Argentina, an unprecedented “cacerolazo” – a common form of protest in Latin America consisting of banging pots and pans – came to life in different Honduran cities, breaking the curfew and challenging political power.

    • Alabama’s Lessons for the Democratic Party

      The unexpected victory of Democrat Doug Jones in the special U.S. Senate election in Alabama has been described as a political earthquake. The seismic rumblings began decades ago, though, during the civil-rights struggle of the 1950s and ’60s, with echoes that reach as far back as the U.S. Civil War and the long, violent era of slavery. Jones’ road to the Senate might have started on the early evening of Dec. 1, 1955, at a bus stop in Montgomery, Alabama, when an African-American woman named Rosa Parks sat down in one of the 10 front rows reserved for white passengers. The driver ordered her to the back of the bus. When she refused, the police were summoned, she was arrested, and the modern civil-rights era was launched.

    • Democrats Have Much to Learn and the Odious Have Much to Teach Them

      It was clear from the moment Donald Trump was elected president that 2017 would go down in history as one of the worst years ever in American politics.

      It is now ending on an even worse note: with the president wandering off into dangerous non compos mentis territory as the consequences of his incompetence become increasingly manifest, and as the law closes in on him, his family, and the scoundrels who run the government for him.

      Then there are the House and Senate Republicans outdoing even themselves in depraved indifference to the public good.

      And there are their Democratic rivals, pusillanimous as ever, self-righteously rebranding themselves as defenders of sexual propriety and virtue.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Make Facebook liable for content, says report on UK election intimidation

      Theresa May should consider the introduction of two new laws to deter the intimidation of MPs during elections and force social media firms to monitor illegal content, an influential committee has said.

    • Microsoft Updates Bing Search to Highlight Reputable Results
    • Farnworth and Kearsley First in ‘censorship’ row with town hall over gazebo decision

      THE CHIEF of the borough’s newest political party believes the group is being unfairly censored in its bid to get its message across.

      Peter Flitcroft, leader of Farnworth and Kearsley First, has accused Bolton Council of ‘double standards’ after it refused the party permission to erect a gazebo for campaigning purposes.

      He says the proposed spot, in Brackley Street, Farnworth, near Asda, has previously been used by other political parties.

    • SESTA/FOSTA: The real internet censorship threat

      In a particularly Orwellian example of the arguments for “Net Neutrality,” the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times preemptively complained that the Federal Communications Commission’s Dec. 14 repeal of the two-year-old rule “sacrifices the free and open internet on the altar of deregulation.”

      In fact, the “free and open internet” did just fine — more than fine, even — for decades before being brought under a “Title II” regulatory scheme intended for 1930s-era telephones. And, unfortunately, there’s no deregulation involved. Instead of just getting its grubby mitts off the internet as it should, FCC is handing regulation off to another intrusive bureaucracy, the Federal Trade Commission.

    • Virginia’s Censorship Laws May Be More Dangerous Than We Think

      In the state of Virginia, the code of law suggests that citizens use no profanity in public. Many places have anti-profanity signs and the like. Letting out an f-bomb in Virginia is a misdemeanor! Although it is a very old law, many people are still charged and can be charged a $250 dollar fine at the minimum.

      A state lawmaker from Richmond Virginia is currently attempting to eliminate this law. The conservative Michael Webert is a farmer that believes in the right to free speech and understands that things happen that can trigger people to let out a dirty word. “When I cursed, my mother told me not to and handed me a bar of soap,” he said, “you shouldn’t be hit with a Class 4 misdemeanor.”

    • JNU: Proctoral Inquiry Against Shehla Rashid Over Tweet on ‘Internet Censorship’ on Campus

      The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration has asked student activist Shehla Rashid to appear for a proctoral inquiry over her claims on Twitter about “Internet censorship” on the campus, a move termed unprecedented by her and other student leaders.

      Rashid, a former JNU students’ union vice president, said on Thursday that she would not appear before the proctor on December 19 as the varsity administration “does not have a jurisdiction over” her tweets.

    • JNU: Inquiry Ordered Against Shehla Rashid Over ‘Misleading’ Tweet On ‘Internet Censorship’ On Campus

      The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration has asked controversial left-wing activist Shehla Rashid to appear for a proctoral inquiry over her claims on Twitter about “internet censorship” on the campus, a move termed unprecedented by her and other student leaders.

    • JNU sends notice to student for tweet on ‘internet curbs’

      The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration has sent a notice to former JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid, for writing on social media against the administration’s decision to block content on the university WiFi.

      The notice stated that the proctor’s office has received a complaint against her for posting on social media. In November, students had complained that the administration had blocked access to certain content related to the Una incident, presidential debate and others.

    • Unthinking censorship is not the way forward for gender equality

      The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which polices the rules, also plans to take a “stronger line” on ads that “could be seen to objectify or degrade women”. A perfume ad featuring a naked Cara Delavigne is being used as the example of what might cross the line, which begs the question: should the international supermodel get to determine what demeans or empowers her body, or should the ASA?

      While there is an important role for regulatory bodies to play in protecting vulnerable women from exploitation and coercion, this crackdown reeks of prudish disposition, which may very well do more to harm women’s sexual liberation than protect it.

      Attacks on advertising are often veiled attacks on free speech.

    • Crypto Solutions Tackle Web Censorship Concerns

      As governments across the world continue to make moves to censor and control the flow of digital data across the internet, there a rising tide of concern over net neutrality. Blockchain solutions could be the answer for those seeking more freedom on the internet.

    • Substratum answers censorship call
    • Lena Hendry and DPP withdraw appeals in censorship case
    • End harassment against Lena Hendry, rights group urges
    • Human rights activist Lena Hendry, prosecution withdraw their appeals
    • Prosecution, activist Lena Hendry withdraw appeals in film censorship case
    • China Uses Cash, ‘Sharp Power’ to Export Communist System

      China’s Communist Party is engaged in sophisticated global influence operations using money to buy supporters and deceive foreign audiences about Beijing’s rights abuses, experts told a congressional China commission on Wednesday.

      “Attempts by the Chinese government to guide, buy, or coerce political influence and control discussion of ‘sensitive’ topics are pervasive, and pose serious challenges in the United States and our like-minded allies,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), co-chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

    • Spare us the moral hysteria that threatens a new age of censorship

      To the casual eye, George Devine made for an unlikely-seeming revolutionary. In Howard Coster’s 1934 photograph, in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, he looks like nothing so much as a master at Greyfriars School, his spectacles horn-rimmed, his hair neatly oiled. Only the flamboyant angle of the hand that holds his cigarette suggests the reality: this was the actor who, as the director of the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre, would produce John Osborne’s 1956 play Look Back in Anger.

      According to Irving Wardle, the nearest thing he has to a biographer, Devine was “personally inconspicuous”. If creating an “open space” for “rebel artists” took courage – it’s difficult to grasp, now, how incendiary Osborne’s words seemed at the time – it also involved a certain quietness. The work would speak for itself.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • The scramble for data and the need for network self-determination

      Unless you lived in a cave over the past decade, you should have heard that “data is the new oil” or that data have become “the world’s most valuable resource.” However, rarely in our history has the emergence of new, extremely valuable, resources not resulted in power struggles leading to fundamental changes in political and social structures.

      The Scramble for Data is unleashing a new breed of colonialism, aimed at controlling the networks and platforms that will redefine – and are already shaping – the economies, societies and private lives of all the colonised.

      Worryingly, the yearning for data is turning a quintessentially open internet, able to empower billions of individuals, into a series of closed and easily controllable cyber-spaces, where a few dominant players have access to, and exert, unprecedented influence on every aspect of our lives.

      The Scramble for Data is already unleashing a new breed of colonialism, already shaping the economies, societies and private lives of all the colonised.

    • FBI chief’s claim on surveillance abuse doesn’t fit the evidence

      I caught my breath when I heard FBI Director Christopher Wray testify to Congress that there’s been no abuse of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the law under which our intelligence communities electronically spy on possible terrorists and sometimes capture private communications of innocent U.S. citizens. Section 702 and related components expire Dec. 31, and Congress must decide whether to renew them.

    • Facebook admits it may be damaging our well-being, says more Facebook is the cure

      The latest developments come at the end of a torrid year for the public relations team at the social network. The company has been accused of enabling everything from the spread of fake news to Russian propaganda and hate speech. It has also been criticised for providing a platform for white supremacists, censoring critics of oppressive governments and running offensive adverts.

    • Facebook Agrees It Causes Mental Heath Risk, But Using “More Facebook” Gives Relief

      Is using Facebook good or bad for us? The biggest social media company has tried to provide the much-needed but indecisive answer to this question before it gets too late. A blog post by Facebook researchers highlights the good and bad effects of social media platforms in our lives.

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (3/21): Posting an Anonymous Public Message

      The Analog Equivalent Privacy Right for an electronic post hosting provider is for an uploader to be responsible for everything they upload for the public to see, with no liability at all for the hosting provider under any circumstance, including no requirement to log upload data to help law enforcement find an uploader. Such monitoring is not a requirement in the analog world of our parents, nor is there an analog liability for anything posted, and there is no reason to have it otherwise in the digital world of our children just because somebody doesn’t know how to run a business otherwise.

    • Uber’s Massive Scraping Program Collected Data About Competitors Around The World

      The Marketplace Analytics team traces its roots to a previous group within Uber that was known as Competitive Intelligence, or COIN. COIN also set up non-attributable servers to store information on competitors, and oversaw Hell, a program Uber used to track the location of Lyft drivers and offer them deals to switch to Uber. By scraping data from Lyft’s app, Uber was able to collect driver ID numbers and therefore track Lyft drivers’ locations. The existence of Hell, and COIN’s role in deploying it, were first reported in April by The Information.

    • Facebook changes policy, to book local ad revenue locally

      Facebook has changed its approach to booking its ad revenue, announcing that it will move to a local selling structure in countries where it has an office to support local advertising sales.

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (4/21): Our children have lost Privacy of Location

      In the analog world of our parents, as an ordinary citizen and not under surveillance because of being a suspect of a crime, it was taken for granted that you could walk around a city without authorities tracking you at the footstep level. Our children don’t have this right anymore in their digital world.

    • Facebook to put ads before (some) videos

      Starting next year, Facebook will test advertisements at the beginning of some videos. The ads will last six seconds and only show up before videos you seek out in Facebook’s Watch section.

    • Here come the Facebook pre-roll video ads
    • Government files submission in Microsoft warrant case
    • Uber allegedly hacked [sic] rivals, surveilled politicians, and impersonated protestors

      Last month, details emerged about a secretive unit within Uber dedicated to stealing trade secrets, surveilling competitors, using self-destructing messages, and dodging government regulators. The accusations came from a former member of Uber’s security team, Ric Jacobs, whose 37-page letter detailing all of Uber’s shady behavior was sent to Uber’s management earlier this year. Prior to today, only snippets of the letter have been read aloud in court. Now, a redacted copy of the letter is public as part of the ongoing litigation between Uber and Waymo, the self-driving unit of Alphabet. And it’s a doozy.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Microsoft Intern’s Rape Claim Highlights Struggle to Combat Sex Discrimination
    • Judge Tells Jury: Informing Public May Be Criminal Conspiracy

      Reporting the news can be punished as criminal conspiracy, federal Judge Lynn Leibovitz told jurors at the so-called J20 trial in Washington, DC, where journalists and protesters alike are being prosecuted for property damage that they didn’t commit during the Donald Trump inauguration.

    • The Height of Racial Resentment: White Cops

      Researchers will surely continue to plow the 2016 U.S. presidential election looking for answers to Donald Trump’s victory for decades to come. What we know now, though, is that racial resentment played a prominent role in the equation. Michael Tesler has shown, for instance, that white racial resentment “was more tightly linked to [support for Trump] than support for John McCain and Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012, respectively — even after controlling for party and ideology.” And Sean McElwee and Jason McDaniel have found that “racial attitudes towards blacks and immigration are the key factors associated with support for Trump.” If white voters are racially resentful and if their resentments remain consequential for their selections at the ballot box, we might wish to understand who among the white population in the U.S. evinces the most racially resentful and racially conservative attitudes and why. Some recent sociological work has examined this question and found at least one primary suspect: white police officers.

    • A killer cop gets away with an execution

      MAYBE IT shouldn’t be surprising anymore.

      A cop murders a sobbing, unarmed man as he’s sprawled on the ground, begging not to be shot. This is one of the rare police killings where an officer was actually charged with a crime. But in the end, he was acquitted.

      It shouldn’t be surprising, given the litany of cases–Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and on and on–in which killer cops walked free after murdering someone.

      But anyone who has had the stomach to watch the footage of the last moments of Daniel Shaver’s life–to witness his terror, his frantic pleas, and the unchecked relish that Mesa, Arizona, police took in demanding his humiliating compliance in the moments before officer Philip Brailsford opened fire–should be outraged by both the circumstances of the killing and the fact that Brailsford is a free man today.

    • Record number of journalists jailed as Turkey, China, Egypt pay scant price for repression

      In its annual prison census, CPJ found 262 journalists behind bars around the world in relation to their work, a new record after a historical high of 259 last year. The worst three jailers are responsible for jailing 134–or 51 percent–of the total. CPJ has been conducting an annual survey of journalists in jail since the early 1990s.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Koch Brothers Are Cities’ New Obstacle to Building Broadband

      Bad news for internet access—the Koch brothers are fighting low-cost open fiber nets.

    • The end of net neutrality and the fight to defend the free internet

      The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted Thursday to overturn rules, known as net neutrality, that required internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all data on the internet the same and prohibited them from limiting or blocking users’ access to web sites and services.

      The ruling heralds a new age in internet communications, where giant internet and technology monopolies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast regulate what information people have access to.

    • Remember The Man Who Killed The Internet

      Ajit Pai is an outlier.

      Most of us hack our way through life wondering if our labors and sacrifices will amount to something that we can stand back and remark upon one day — before we croak. In this respect, Ajit Pai is uncommonly fortunate. The FCC chairman and former Verizon lawyer just pulled off his own plan to destroy the net neutrality principle that ensures an open Internet for all. This will allow Internet service providers to charge consumers higher premiums for access to certain kinds of online content, but that’s not what we need to discuss right now.

      What we need to absorb and respect is the incredible reality that Ajit Pai — a single man — is largely responsible for crippling the Internet as we know it. Yes, he was appointed to chairman by Donald Trump. Sure, he was joined in voting to kill net neutrality by fellow FCC commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr. But as top banana at the FCC, Pai spent the past several months publicly leading the charge against net neutrality. And when we look back at the aggressive, condescending, undemocratic, and potentially fraudulent manner in which this charge was carried out, the audacity of Ajit Pai defies both convention and ethics.

    • The FCC just voted to repeal its net neutrality rules, in a sweeping act of deregulation

      The move to deregulate the telecom and cable industry is a major setback for tech companies, consumer groups and Democrats who lobbied heavily against the decision. And it marks a significant victory for Republicans who vowed to roll back the efforts of the prior administration, despite a recent survey showing that 83 percent of Americans — including 3 out of 4 Republicans — opposed the plan.

    • FCC overturns net neutrality rules, but supporters pledge to continue fight

      The new regulations, passed by the Republican-controlled commissions’ 3-2 vote, instead require ISPs to disclose any blocking or prioritization of their own content or from their partners. They officially take effect after publication in the Federal Register.

    • FCC vote won’t end net neutrality fight

      Opponents are already lining up to sue the agency, which voted 3-2 to scrap the rules on Thursday, while Democrats are pushing legislation that would prevent the repeal from going into effect.

      The FCC said that the net neutrality repeal has to be approved by the Office of Management and Budget before it can go into effect — a process that could take months.

    • What’s Going to Save Journalism?

      Killing net neutrality, which the Republican-controlled FCC voted to do yesterday, is only the most recent gut punch to a free press.

    • Explainer: Why Other Countries Care That US Ditched Net Neutrality

      As with many things, the United States is seen as a global leader on the internet. Thus, many critics fear that a loosening of its regulatory system may embolden others to crack down on a completely open [I]nternet.

    • “Net neutrality is the secret sauce that has made the internet awesome”

      To better understand what’s at stake, I spoke to Barbara van Schewick, a net neutrality expert and a professor at Stanford Law School, before the vote. The conversation has been lightly edited and condensed.

    • FCC votes to repeal net neutrality rules

      “As a result of today’s misguided action, our broadband providers will get extraordinary new power from this agency,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat on the commission who voted against the repeal.

      “They will have the power to block websites, throttle services and censor online content. They will have the right to discriminate and favor the internet traffic of those companies with whom they have pay-for-play arrangements and the right to consign all others to a slow and bumpy road,” Rosenworcel said.

    • F.C.C. Repeals Net Neutrality Rules

      The agency scrapped so-called net neutrality regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The federal government will also no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like phone services.

    • Smirking FCC chairman posts video mocking net neutrality supporters

      It’s a remarkably unserious display from the guy at the head of an agency charged with overseeing, regulating, and protecting all levels of communications in the US, particularly given the potential long-term impact of his charge to eliminate net neutrality regulations.

    • Ajit Pai just handed Republicans a bag of shit

      Most importantly, Pai also gutted net neutrality without ever trying to make the case for it being a good idea. Pai’s final media appearance was a troll-ish video with alt-right blog The Daily Caller, in which he literally dances with a woman who supported the insane Pizzagate conspiracy that ended with a gunman storming a pizza parlor. His most recent private speech was a smarmy affair delivered to a room full of telecom lobbyists in which he joked about being Verizon’s puppet and taking orders from Sinclair Broadcasting.

    • The FCC just killed net neutrality

      Now that the vote is over, the commission will take a few weeks to make final adjustments to the rules. They’ll then be filed with the Federal Register and appear there in a few months. At that point, net neutrality will officially be off the books, and these new rules (or really, the absence of any) will take effect.

    • ISPs won’t promise to treat all traffic equally after net neutrality

      We reached out to 10 big or notable ISPs to see what their stances are on three core tenets of net neutrality: no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization. Not all of them answered, and the answers we did get are complicated.

    • What if You Couldn’t See This Page?

      To taste a future without net neutrality, try browsing the web in Beijing. China’s internet, provided through telecom giants aligned with the Communist Party, is a digital dystopia, filtered by the vast censorship apparatus known as China’s Great Firewall. Some sites load with soul-withering slowness, or not at all. Others appear instantly. Content vanishes without warning or explanation. The culprit is rarely knowable. A faulty Wi-Fi router? A neighborhood power failure? Commercial sabotage? A clampdown on political dissent? To most Chinese netizens, the reason matters little. They simply gravitate to the few sites that aren’t slowed or blocked entirely: the Chinese counterparts of Facebook, Google, and Twitter. But these Chinese platforms come with heavy government surveillance and censorship by corporate and party apparatchiks. For the Communist Party and its commercial allies, this is win-win, cementing respective monopolies on political markets and consumer power.

    • Popular Destinations rerouted to Russia

      Early this morning (UTC) our systems detected a suspicious event where many prefixes for high profile destinations were being announced by an unused Russian Autonomous System.

    • Nearly 20 State AGs to Sue FCC for Putting ‘Corporate Profits Over Consumers’

      Adding to the growing backlash among the public and members of Congress against the FCC’s party-line vote on Thursday to repeal net neutrality protections, nearly 20 state attorneys general have lined up to sue the FCC, calling the Republican-controlled agency’s move a violation of the law and a serious “threat to the free exchange of ideas.”

    • Net Neutrality Killed as FCC ‘Hands Keys to Internet to Handful of Multi-Billion Dollar Corporations’

      The nonpartisan First Amendment advocacy group Free Press vowed to take the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to court Thursday after the Republican-controlled panel moved to gut net neutrality protections that prohibit internet service providers (ISPs) from charging for and discriminating against content, in a 3-2 vote along party lines.

    • New York Public Libraries: the proposal to kill net neutrality is ‘appalling’

      An open letter from the presidents of the New York, Brooklyn, and Queens public libraries

    • No, Michael Powell, let’s not ‘calm down’ about net neutrality

      It’s disappointing to see such easily refuted arguments being made by current and former FCC chairmen, but I’m always ready to address them. Let’s take a stroll through Powell’s editorial.

    • What’s at stake if we lose net neutrality? A guide for the perplexed

      If you didn’t follow the debate leading up to the implementation of the rules in 2015, you might be more confused about why everyone is freaking out about Thursday’s vote; or, perhaps, what the impact on consumers will be if the overturn is passed, which is likely considering the party split of the commission. Here, we’ve put together a Salon explainer guide.

    • Net Neutrality Protests Move Online, Yet Big Tech Is Quiet

      Protests to preserve net neutrality, or rules that ensure equal access to the [I]nternet, migrated online on Tuesday, with numerous online companies posting calls on their sites for action to stop a vote later this week.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Google Play Store Rejects App For Using the Word “BitTorrent”

        Google Play has rejected a popular BitTorrent client because it uses the word “BitTorrent” in the full description. Apparently, Google now sees references to an open source transfer protocol as a no-go, stating that BitTorrent is another brand. While BitTorrent Inc. had the term trademarked years ago, the company didn’t ask Google to take this action.

      • BitTorrent Inc. Emerges Victorious Following EU Trademark Dispute

        BitTorrent Inc., the company behind the BitTorrent and uTorrent torrent clients, has emerged victorious following a long-running trademark dispute in Europe. The battle involved a German company, previously called Bittorrent Marketing GmbH, the EU Intellectual Property [sic] Office, the company itself, and an argument over a useless fax machine.

    • Copyrights
      • Sci-Hub Battles Pirate Bay-esque Domain Name Whack-a-Mole

        Academic publishers want Sci-Hub wiped from the Internet, but thus far their efforts have failed. While several of the site’s domain names were suspended in recent weeks, it appears as if the controversy is only drawing more traffic. And with plenty of alternatives in hand, it’s turning into a Pirate Bay-esque game of domain name Whack-a-Mole.

      • Canadian Government Triggers Major Copyright Review

        The House of Commons has triggered a parliamentary review of Canada’s Copyright Act, to be conducted by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. The music industry was quick to weigh in, congratulating government ministers and making it known that the so-called Value Gap, which concerns copyright takedown regimes and artist remuneration, will be high on the agenda.

      • Breaking the web and killing innovation: Now even lobbyists admit that’s the plan behind the extra EU copyright for news

        Today, a new lobby joined the fray – but apparently didn’t get the memo about sugar-coating the game plan. In an open letter published in Le Monde – but, fittingly, behind a paywall – large news agencies including Germany’s DPA und France’s AFP call for the extra copyright to also extend to their products. They mince no words describing what they demand politicians crack down on:

Raw: Benoît Battistelli Has Long Been Obsessed With ‘Alternative Facts’ (Lying) Regarding Everything

13 hours 14 min ago

Even strike figures and so-called ‘production’ (the EPO also lies about the protests’ turnout, e.g. last week when Christoph Ernst “apparently preferred to rely on Mr Battistelli’s “alternative facts”,” as SUEPO pointed out)

Summary: The chronic lying by Battistelli’s EPO goes way back and reveals a total lack of integrity, shedding doubt on just about any statement issued by the Office

Battistelli’s ‘UPC Buddy’ Michel Barnier Helped Squash EU Intervention in Dysfunctional (Subverted by Battistelli) Administrative Council

13 hours 56 min ago

The three Frenchmen

Summary: A look back at how Michel Barnier helped cover Battistelli’s back, insisting that the Commission cannot do anything to rectify matters at the EPO (Elżbieta Bieńkowska, another UPC proponent, said something similar later)

Question from Nikolaos Chountis:

Subject: Relations between the European Union and the European Patent Office

According to reports in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the administration of the European Patent Office has adopted internal operating rules that, inter alia, call into question basic democratic and trade union rights, such as the right to strike and the right to union representation. More specifically, according to the newspaper, workers’ right to strike is subject to the approval of the head of the European Patent Office, an arrangement that essentially abolishes any union freedom.

Given that the European Patent Office has a special and unique legal status and also has specific institutional relations with the European Union, will the Commission say:
1. Can it confirm these reports?
2. What is the regime governing relations between the European Patent Office and the European Union? What opportunities does it have to ensure that this unacceptable anti-labour regime finally ceases?

This is about Battistelli’s regime.

Fellow Frenchman and UPC lobbyist Michel Barnier then weighed in:

Answer given by Mr Barnier on behalf of the Commission

1. The Commission is aware of the press reports concerning the changes in the internal rules of the European Patent Office (EPO) affecting inter alia the staff representation. The Commission, however, is not in a position to assess the content of these reports as the EPO is a body of the European Patent Organisation — an international organisation established by the European Patent Convention (EPC) and entirely separate from the European Union. The privileges and immunities of the employees of the EPO are defined in Article 8 of the EPC and the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities annexed to the EPC. Further internal rules establishing the conditions of employment within the EPO also apply.

2. The European Union is an observer at the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation but the relations between the two organisations are not governed by any formal agreement.

The Commission strongly believes in active social policy and of course expects full respect of all employment rights at all times.

6 suicides later and 3 years down the line there’s neither UPC (which Barnier and Battistelli lobbied hard for) nor employment rights (and possibly no future for the EPO, either). Battistelli is only in the EU when it suits him; the photo at the top is revealing, showing Barnier, Campinos and Battistelli with EU flags everywhere. Battistelli also uses the law only when it suits him, e.g. to bully/taunt a judge in several courts (at great personal cost to this judge).

Raw: “Experienced Examiners Can Examine Anything.” (Even Not in Their Field!)

14 hours 36 min ago

Guarantee for decline in patent quality and decrease in the number of filings (now a reality at EPO), causing “over-capacity” all across the board and putting the EPO as a whole at risk

Summary: An internal document shows how the EPO handles imbalance in filings, in essence shifting examiners to fields they are not familiar with

The Office’s solution to over-capacity and how to do better.

Summary:
Despite official figures showing an overall increase in filings, some technical fields see the number of patent application decrease. As a solution to the over-capacity, managers are encouraging volunteers to leave their field and work as examiners in other, widely remote areas of technology. If not correctly handled, this could lead to serious problems not only for the individuals concerned but also for the Office.

Background

The overall number of applications increases but the clusters biotechnology and PAOC are suffering from a shortage of filings. In management terms, this is called over-capacity. Both clusters have been informed that two examiners per directorate will have to move to other technical fields such as polymers or mechanics. The official mantra: “experienced examiners can examine anything.”

Insufficient support and personal consequences

“Incentives” or “rewards” have not even been mentioned. Examiners who would consider a transfer are merely told that their new PD will probably provide the necessary support in terms of training and learning curve. The Office unfortunately has a track record of not providing sufficient support to staff transferred to new jobs. As a consequence it is likely that at least initially neither their quality nor the quantity of the newly transferred examiners will be at the level reached in their previous field, with the obvious consequences of less favourable staff reports and a prospect for promotion that will be close to zero.

Quality and the consequences for the Office

The Office introduced the AoCs alleging that increased specialization would result in increased quality. More recently the Office launched advertisement campaigns for the recruitment of examiners claiming that only the best candidates would be recruited. Transferring examiners with little or no relevant expertise into a given technical field makes a mockery of such claims. With its PCT share suffering and its quality under attack, the Office can hardly afford taking any further risks to its reputation.

Can we do better?

The better options available seem to be two-fold, namely:
a) providing proper support and training for the examiners concerned, and
b) providing alternatives to transfers.

a) The Office should allow examiners transferred to technical fields that are remote from their original field to follow external courses (university or other). Alternatively or additionally, sufficient time for self-study should be allowed, as well as a guarantee that the change will not have a negative impact on the examiner’s staff report for a period of e.g. 3 years. Ideally a positive impact, e.g. through a mark-up for “attitude” could be considered.

b) The Office should limit the loss of expertise by encouraging other options for reducing the available capacity through unpaid leave, parental leave or (temporary) transfer to other DGs (with a guarantee to return to the original position), internships (e.g. exchange with the patent profession) and/or voluntarily reduced working time. In the context of the latte, we remind the administration of a long-standing and cost-neutral claim of the staff representation to allow staff working part-time to top-up the missing pension contributions themselves so that no loss of pension ensues. Favourable offers for early retirement (e.g. along the lines of those offered to a former VP4) could also be considered.

Andrei Iancu in Charge of the United States Patent Office (USPTO) Would be a Patent Microcosm Coup

17 hours 56 min ago

Summary: The progression of Andrei Iancu’s nomination/appointment is a reason for concern; it is, for a fact, a reason for optimism among patent extremists

THE patent question isn’t exactly partisan or even political. Not in the sense that patents are a “left” wing ‘thing’ or a “right” wing ‘thing’ anyway; it’s a vertical thing (top-down, class, economic).

“Trump too goes along with a man who was born in the Soviet Union. Will he be in charge of the USPTO?”The USPTO isn’t political either. But its leadership might be, especially because nominations are made by political figures. As we noted here before [1, 2, 3], a Putin-connected official (as per Panama Papers) put forth a potential Director for the USPTO. Trump too goes along with a man who was born in the Soviet Union. Will he be in charge of the USPTO? The trouble isn’t his ethnic background (we won’t entertain the McCarthyist angle) but his professional background. He’s from the patent microcosm. He won’t even deny it. A few days ago we learned that “[t]he [US] Senate Judiciary Committee has approved President Trump’s nomination of Andrei Iancu as USPTO Director and Under Secretary of Commerce (unanimous consent). The nomination now moves to the Senate Floor where no roadblocks are expected other than the difficulty in having the Senate focus on any particular item.”

“The very fact that sites of the patent microcosm — including front groups of patent trolls — are satisfied with Iancu is a warning sign.”Well, shouldn’t the United States Patent Office (USPTO) put in charge men and women of science, preferably US-born too? What do they expect him to do if not prop up his former employer/s? Iancu is certainly not neutral. Many conflicts of interest come to mind.

We worry that a lot of patent progress can be undone. Some groups are too ‘diplomatic’ to openly express scepticism, but they too know that Iancu presents a threat. The very fact that sites of the patent microcosm — including front groups of patent trolls — are satisfied with Iancu is a warning sign. Even patent radicals have already backed him.

The Latest IAM Puff Pieces That Launder the ‘Reputation’ of Patent Trolls

18 hours 38 min ago

Funded by patent trolls, promoting trolls’ agenda

Summary: The creeping threat of patent extortion (litigation from companies that are empty shells with nothing but patents) does not worry IAM; instead, this is the vision IAM wants to actualise, having been paid by stakeholders in such a nefarious outcome

THE previous post dealt with the EPO‘s promotion of software patents in Europe under the guise of or by misusing new buzzwords. There’s a growing threat — and already a reality in Germany — that patent trolls will thrive in Europe. Sites like IAM work hard towards that and a couple of days ago IAM’s latest recruit wrote that the Dutch “Health Minister has hit out at “absurd” drug prices, suggesting that the use of compulsory patent licensing might be one solution. This comes shortly after Germany’s highest court upheld a landmark decision forcing a life sciences innovator to license a key patent to a competitor.”

“There’s also a profound controversy over universities (which receive public funds) spending time and money pursuing patents that are then give to notorious trolls such as Intellectual Ventures.”In the area of life sciences there are many ethical/moral issues associated with patents; it’s not just about advancement and prosperity but life and death. There’s also a profound controversy over universities (which receive public funds) spending time and money pursuing patents that are then give to notorious trolls such as Intellectual Ventures. IAM has just published this sponsored piece that whitewashes the practice.

Here in Europe we already have some patent trolls like Avanci, which is a patent troll that preys on carmakers. Having recently groomed this troll, IAM has just done another puff piece for it. “Avanci,” it wrote, “the platform headed by former Ericsson CIPO Kasim Alfalahi focused on licensing wireless technology into different verticals in the Internet of Things (IoT), has published its royalty rates for car companies.”

“Ericsson has already birthed some patent trolls other than Avanci and they ‘operate’ (i.e. sue) in Europe, even in London.”Here’s that buzzword again, “IoT”. We wrote about it a moment ago. It just alludes to any device with a TCP/IP stack on it, i.e. nothing new. And guess what the troll is after. It’s ‘protection’ money. Ericsson has already birthed some patent trolls other than Avanci and they ‘operate’ (i.e. sue) in Europe, even in London.

Last but not least/latest from IAM is this puff piece regarding AST, which is feeding patent trolls. It’s not the first such puff piece. In IAM’s own words: “In October we ran a story following a comment from AST’s CEO Russell Binns that the patent market was due to see 30,000 assets for sale in 2017. “It seems like everyone is trying to clear house at the same time,” he commented at that time.”

And pass patents to trolls, just like Ericsson has been doing.

The EPO Has Found ‘Creative’ New Ways to Bribe the Media and Promote Software Patents

Sunday 17th of December 2017 07:04:12 AM

When they speak of “IoT” and “fourth industrial revolution” they allude to a patent thicket comprising many software patents

Summary: From Computer-Implemented Inventions (CII) and “Industry 4.0″ the EPO is moving to creative new misnomers for carriers of software patents, SEP (patents-encumbered ‘standards’), so-called ‘FRAND’ etc.

THE EPO ended the year with another big scandal — one that most of the media conveniently ignored; instead, the media covered EPO PR, which involved the EPO’s management actually paying the media (not from its own pocket but stakeholders’). Some of it was pushed during the weekend (e.g. [1, 2]) by the EPO’s Twitter account. Working on a Saturday?

We remind readers that our criticism of the EPO over the years was purely about software patents. We are not against the EPO and certainly not against patents in general. In fact, our intention over the past few years was to save the EPO from the litany of patents and the tyranny/dictatorship of Battistelli. Patent quality matters. Examination matters, not so-called ‘production’. If only the EPO stayed true to its sloganeering…

The patenting of software in Europe remains a problem. We recently wrote about Microsoft and the EPO doing all this under the framing/guise of "IoT" — a trend that can be seen perpetuated in the latest EPO ‘study’ (with other buzzwords/terms like “fourth industrial revolution”). Some sites of lawyers carried EPO agenda as recently as Friday and there was also this press release about a company that “specializes in the creation of Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence” (the title is “Gopher Protocol, Inc. Files Patent Application in the European Patent Office”).

What we basically have here are some new tricks or loopholes for software patents in Europe. They just refer to these in different terms, big words other than “CII”.

Also on Friday, Thorsten Bausch said that “[t]he Federal Court of Justice held that a patent application is to be rejected if its subject-matter extends beyond the content of the application as originally filed and if this deficiency has not been rectified by the applicant upon request by the examiner (following FCJ X ZB 17/73 Regelventil).”

This isn’t about software in particular, but noteworthy here is the insistence of the court (which isn’t motivated by ‘production’ but law/accuracy). Too many times or oftentimes we see public advocacy by law firms for loopholes that enable patenting the patent-ineligible. This is particularly true in the domain of software.

Will software developers ever be able to coexist with software patents? It’s unlikely. Programmers neither want nor need such patents. A couple of days ago (also on Friday) Simon Phipps from the Open Source Initiative published this article and asked: “What if software patents were used in a way that made using software patents unthinkable? A kind of “Patentleft”?”

That, in part, has been tackled by GPLv3 (copyleft), but here is what Phipps proposes:

The word “copyleft” arises from a clever hack by Richard Stallman who used the laws relating to copyright — a statutory device to incent creativity by granting limited monopolies to creators — to create a world where creators are incented to share instead of monopolise their work.

Since the Berne Convention makes all creative works the automatic sole property of their creator, the only way others can use it in any way until the monopoly expires is with the express permission of the creator of the work, who is said to hold the copyright. Copyleft grants everyone receiving the work an unlimited license to use, improve and share it, but only on the condition they grant the same conditional rights to every recipient. Copyleft thus makes more and more works freely usable as more and more people improve them.

Could we do the same thing to subvert patent law? It seems that’s at least part of the motivation behind the use of a controversial combination of the BSD open source copyright license and a broad patent grant by Facebook. A few years ago they silently standardised on releasing all their open source projects — including popular codebases like RocksDB storage engine and the React.JS user interface framework — under the venerable 3-clause BSD license supplemented by a unilateral grant to any of Facebook’s patents necessary to use the software.

As we shall show later today, the US is moving further and further away from software patents, drifting away from patent trolls in the process. Will such a ‘post-software patents’ world (or post-Alice world) materialise in Europe as well? How about China, possibly the last safe haven for such patents? The sure thing, activism in this domain remains necessary, and activism depends on vigilance.

EPO Busy Distracting From Miscarriage/Abuse of Justice at the EPO (Both Office and Organisation)

Saturday 16th of December 2017 05:25:49 PM

Summary: The European Patent Organisation continues to be a vassal of the Office (Christoph Ernst is defending Battistelli) and justice is not being honoured; it’s being discarded in the darkness (in secret meetings)

A LOT happened while I was away. The EPO was trying pretty hard to distract from an eventful scandal, having issued 3-4 ‘news’ items in just a couple of days (it typically posts only 1 or 2 per week, sometimes 0 for a whole month).

On Thursday and Friday it kept ‘banging’ on with lots about the latest nonsensical ‘study’ (passing money to the German media), as well as #IPforSMEs. Nothing was said about the meeting in Munich (Wednesday until Thursday), except the obvious distractions/face-saving tweets we’ll come to in a moment. On Thursday Battistelli’s latest photo op was released (warning: epo.org link). It can be found via this tweet too. ISO is corrupt enough that it can afford a handshake with Battistelli (one can bribe for or ‘buy’ standards at ISO, as we showed a decade ago).

Battistelli also shared a new photo op of him (warning: epo.org link) signing papers with a country that facilitates his abuses, more specifically INPI which looks as though it engaged in entryism against the EPO (just look at members of staff at the top-level management).

To quote: “The EPO and the French National Industrial Property Office (INPI) have signed a three-year bilateral co-operation plan. The agreement, which provides a framework for collaboration in areas such as IT projects and training, was signed by EPO President Benoît Battistelli and INPI Director General Romain Soubeyran in Munich yesterday.”

Does that say where Battistelli came from and brought much of his management team from? That in itself is a scandal and they put this photo op in INPI’s Twitter account too, only to then (very soon) get retweeted by the EPO. It’s like an “evidence of the crime” photo op, but Battistelli got too accustomed to being above the law. He just doesn’t care.

Then came another “news” item, this one with Christoph Ernst, who is complicit by inaction. This latest one (warning: epo.org link) is quite revealing. (promoted with the photo op in Twitter). He’s taking photo ops with Lutz just to metaphorically spit on the graves of victims at the Boards of Appeal. Perhaps he fails to realise just how bad that makes him look. The EPO had said nothing about the Boards of Appeal other than this tweet which states: “The application deadline for the 2018 judicial internships at the Boards of Appeal session is 9 January” (internships are not jobs and the Boards are massively understaffed).

Obviously nothing about ILO, the protest, the scandal associated with the judge etc. Just anything to shift attention away from that…

SUEPO, in the meantime, is accusing Ernst of embracing Battistelli’s lies and it politely slams the Council Ernst chairs for backing violations of the law. Here is the page from SUEPO Munich and an HTML version of the PDF:

DEMONSTRATION
Wednesday 13 December

On 13 and 14 December the Administrative Council of the EPO meets in Munich. The agenda can be found in micado as CA/105/17. SUEPO Munich called for a demonstration in front of the Isar building on the first day of the meeting of the Administrative Council. The aim of the demonstration was to signal to the Council that their governance is needed.

While Mr Battistelli still pretends that “all is well” and tells the Council that he is making good progress with the social dialog, some 700 colleagues provided living proof of the contrary – see below.

Mr Ernst, the new chairman of the Administrative Council had been invited to meet the staff in front of the building to see (and hear) for himself what the real situation is. Mr Ernst did not accept the invitation. He apparently preferred to rely on Mr Battistelli’s “alternative facts”.

The same seems to apply to the majority of the delegations in the Council. The disciplinary procedure against the Member of the Boards of Appeal who was kept suspended for 3 years is on the agenda of the meeting as point 1.7. It is “C” point meaning that it will again be discussed behind closed doors. At the time of writing the Board Member has still not been invited. He has also not been informed of what is in the confidential documents that are on the agenda. This means that whatever decision will be taken is again based solely on information provided by Mr Battistelli. This is in gross violation of the principles of due process, as pointed out by the ILO Tribunal in its recent Judgments No. 3958 and 3960

In those Judgments the Tribunal the EPO was ordered to reinstate the Member of the Boards of Appeal, lift the house ban imposed upon him, return any EPO property seized before and unblock his UserID with immediate effect. Mr Josefsson, President of the Boards, has given him access to the Haar building, but he is still denied access to the other Office buildings. Moreover: contrary to the Tribunal’s orders he has not been provided with a computer or a telephone. Under the circumstances he is still de facto suspended.

With this Mr Battistelli and the Administrative Council once again show a total and utter lack of respect not only for his staff and their rights (“due process”) but also for the Tribunal and the Rule of Law.

SUEPO will continue to denounce such behaviour and organise actions as long as necessary to bring respect for the Rule of Law back to the Office.

SUEPO Munich

As we expected all along, Ernst is akin to his predecessor, “his master’s voice.” The Council has a serious stain; there are many career climbers like Ernst, speaking nonsense (e.g. about patent quality) and knowingly spreading lies about the situation. They probably even lie to themselves about it.

JUVE’s Mathieu Klos‏ wrote that the “AC finished its Meeting. As JUVE understands AC made a decision on the disciplinary case of EPO judge Corcoran. According to sources he has been reinstated but not reappointed. Neither the AC nor @EPOorg have confirmed this so far. More details soon on http://www.juve.de”

Another person (a UPC booster) remarked: “I would say I’m surprised, but… So, they’ve adhered to the letter but not the spirit of the ILO rulings? And soon he’ll be back in DG1. How long until some sort of spurious disciplinary investigation starts, do you think?”

That’s what everybody says.

Regarding the underlying process in that meeting, it was highly cryptic, but the most detailed accounts were made available in this report from Thursday:

One answer of sorts has come with the leak of the Administrative Council’s agenda for its meeting this Wednesday and Thursday. Discussion of Corcoran’s tribunals have been given a confidential status, meaning that only government and EPO management representatives can be present, with no staff or observers allowed.

In addition, a last-minute revised version of the agenda demonstrates that three documents produced for discussion and decision on the Corcoran case have been changed or replaced just hours before the meeting was due to start.

Initially, the issue was due to be discussed with references to three documents numbered 16, 17 and 19. On Tuesday, those documents had vanished and were replaced in a revised agenda with documents 21, 22 and 24. We do not know what is contained in either set of documents, nor have they been provided to Corcoran: their subject.

EPO insiders say that such a last-minute change is almost certainly the result of revisions from EPO management, and that if that’s the case, the changes would have been approved personally by Battistelli.

Or, in other words, having been publicly criticized for personally involving himself in a dispute in which he had a clear conflict of interests, the EPO president’s response was to personally direct the proposal put in front of the Administrative Council for approval, despite the EPO officially claiming to have left the issue entirely up to the council.

Such behind-the-scenes manipulation of the EPO’s processes and procedures is commonplace at the organization, staff complains, and stems from a culture of secrecy and lack of accountability that goes unchallenged (and is sometimes fed) by the representatives of European government on the Administrative Council.

Indeed, it was the council’s willingness to accept EPO management’s proposals without question that led to it being criticized by the ILO for failing to consider the obvious conflict of interest in Battistelli involving himself in the Corcoran case.

[...]

Corcoran’s case is not the only one. Battistelli and his management team have targeted a number of EPO staff, particularly union leaders, to the extent that they have repeatedly broken German and Dutch law (and then claimed immunity), distorted the organizational appeals process (and had two years’ of appeals thrown out), and even undermined the EPO’s Boards of Appeal to the extent that it forms a key part of an argument in front of the German constitutional court for stopping the introduction of a European Unitary Patent Court.

This article has attracted plenty of comments about Battistelli. For example:

Someone comes along and just does exactly what they want and no-one stops them.

Blair, Campbell, Putin, Blatter, etc, etc.

Its strange how this chap seems to have immunity from real criticism and heads up a fairly important organisation.

Are these the sorts of people the EPO wishes to be associated with?

Here’s the latest in Kluwer Patent Blog:

Just heard that Mr Corcoran is back in DG1 from 01.01.2018.

So much for independence of DG3

And then:

In DG1, i.e. under the direct authority of Battistelli.

The bets are open: how long before Battistelli will find an excuse – any excuse, to fire him?

I don’t give him more than 6 months.

Poor guy.

Yes, we don’t expect that to last long. This, perhaps, was part of the plan (even if contingency).

The following comment said, “let us not forget what Mr. Corcoran wrote about Mr. BB: that he is abusing his power at the EPO.”

Battistelli does a fine job demonstrating that Corcoran was correct. Here is the full comment:

that may wll be, but then the internal decision if the accusations are right have not been finalised yet, therefore this was not a decision he could appeal at ATILO yet. Therefore ATILO could not decide on substance.
Furthermore, ATILO only very rarely checks these kind of matters. They are an administrative tribunal, and therefore preferably only check whether the rules have been followed. This time they even avoided deciding whether the rules are legal or have benn legally correctly createf…. They found this decision sufficient to get the case off their table, without looking at the remaining elements of the appeal.

And let us not forget what Mr. Corcoran wrote about Mr. BB: that he is abusing his power at the EPO.
This decision by ATILO actually confirms this.
(source: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/12/06/euro_patent_office_commanded_to_reinstate_nazi_judge_it_attacked/ fourth paragraph from the end of the article)

Someone wrote the following reply:

He hasn’t been found innocent by the ILO because they weren’t asked to do that. They are only an administrative tribunal anyway.

I note that his lawyer has claimed that the facts have been presented to German courts without success for the plaintiffs.

I agree there may be a breakdown in any working relationship but that is almost always the case of a whistle-blower which may be what was effectively the case is here. I haven’t seen the evidence but understand that court documents were presented which had relevance in some way. Perhaps the procedure you suggest may also involve assessing their value? Would a CEO or other c-level position be able to avoid that? Perhaps the innocent man was right??

There are disagreements in there regarding guilt. Among them (not all):

Yes, of course Mr Corcoran is innocent.

I thought that the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” was a universal one – it appears not. If Mr Corcoran had not been proven guilty after due process of law, then we MUST presume he is innocent. Some comments seem to assume that he is guilty until proven innocent.

The ILO-AT found that due process was lacking in this case. Therefore we must presume he is innocent.

In my opinion, the many violations of due process in this case (and the President’s partiality is just one of them) are indicative of attempts to secure a conviction by dubious means. Why not do things by the book if your case is sound?

Whilst many comments may focus upon specifics, a common thread can be found, namely disbelief about the EPO’s apparent disregard for the rule of law.

Unless you think that it is OK for a patent office to disregard the laws that are supposed to bind it, I suggest that in future you keep your snide comments to yourself.

Therein lies the problem. It’s particularly bad for the EPO to become a lawless place because it’s all about patent law and if it cannot obey simple law (or even court orders), what does that say about this institution’s potential or capacity for justice?

On why EPO problems could/should signal the end of the Unitary Patent:

Juducial independence, or lack of it, is quite a meaty topic, I would have thought. And perhaps the Bundesverfassungsgericht (German Constitutional court) thinks so too as it has blocked German ratification of the UPC in order to consider objections on this and other grounds.

Someone then said this:

So, just to inform everyone here,

Judge C is now AGAIN. suspended , this time by the AC without battistelli !,,,!!

We’re not sure if this is true; did he really get suspended again? No source is mentioned and the punctuation looks bad enough to damage the poster’s credibility/intent.

Going back to the underlying case, one person then said:

I thought that the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” was a universal one.

At the EPO the presumption of innocence only applies to officials appointed under Article 11(1) and (2) of the EPC.

For all others the presumption of guilt applies.

There’s also the reference number, just in case someone wishes the chase the text:

The file number for the case at the Landgericht München was 24 Qs 18/17.

Anybody who is interested can apply for a redacted copy of the decision of 6 November 2017 at the court.

Landgericht München I
80316 München

https://www.justiz.bayern.de/gerichte-und-behoerden/landgericht/muenchen-1/kontakt.php

The document will of course be in German.
There may be some administrative charge for photocopying etc.

SUEPO has just published this translation of the recent report in German. According to Mathieu Klos, who wrote it before the secretive meeting, Senya Okyay is Corcoran’s lawyer and he insists that “[t]he Administrative Council now no longer has no reason to draw the proceedings out any further” (translated from English to German and back to English, so there might be discrepancies).

Here is the full article:

Slap in the face for Battistelli: Suspended EPO judge wins court victory right down the line

The judge of the Board of Appeals at the European Patent Office (EPO) suspended three years ago is to be reinstated, under a decision yesterday by the Administrative Tribunal at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva (ILOAT) (File Refs. 3958 and 3960). The supreme labour court for employees of international organisations also awarded the EPO judge, in two separate rulings, a total of some 40,000 Euro in compensatory payment for moral damages and compensation for loss of earnings.

The decisions are likely to increase the pressure enormously on the Administrative Council of the Patent Office to bring the disciplinary proceedings to a close and to reinstate the judge. The judge had made recourse to the ILOAT due to his suspension and its extension imposed by the Council.

“The ILOAT has ruled”, said the judge’s lawyer, Senya Okyay, “that Mr. Battistelli was biased in these proceedings, and has a conflict of interests. The tribunal accordingly decided in my client’s favour.” The ILOAT criticised the fact that EPO President Benoît Battistelli had featured in the internal Office disciplinary proceedings both as a party as well as an advisor to the disciplinary structure relating to EPO judges. There were accordingly doubts as to the impartiality of the President. The judgment also indirectly implied the accusation that the President and Administrative Council had not respected an adequate distribution of power with regard to the disciplinary proceedings.

This accusation has been lurking in the background ever since the case first began in December 2014. At that time, Office supremo Battistelli imposed a ban on the judge entering the EPO, and pushed through his suspension by way of the Administrative Council. According to the EPO statutes, the Administrative Council is exclusively responsible for disciplinary matters relating to members of the Boards of Appeal.

The reason for the suspension was the accusation of dissemination of unpublished information and critical expressions of opinion about the activity of the Boards of Appeal, as well as the beleaguered EPO Director Željko Topić. The judge was also accused of having uttered accusations and threats against the EPO and its staff. By way of evidence a USB stick belonging to the judge was confiscated. According to information provided to JUVE, this was found to contained, among other things, critical articles about Topić. These did not derive from the judge himself, however. Whether this is a contravention of EPO regulations has been a matter of dispute right to the bitter end.

Explosive material

The case became incendiary because of the issue of the independence of the Boards of Appeal from the Office itself. Last year the Administrative Council undertook a further separation from the EPO Court. As well as that, the disputes surrounding the manner in which disciplinary matters are dealt with at the Office became more heated. Specifically, in formal terms an EPO judge can only be suspended by the Administrative Council if the Enlarged Board of Appeal recommends such a measure. Last year, however, the Court rejected this, after Battistelli intervened in writing in the ongoing proceedings. The Enlarged Board of Appeal regarded this as a massive exertion of influence, and ended the proceedings without a recommendation.

Experts then regarded the Administrative Council as being under an obligation to reinstate the judge. This did not happen. Added to that, Topić and EPO President Battistelli took out private prosecutions against him before courts in Munich and Croatia. According to the EPO Statutes, these prevented a decision in the disciplinary matter if it had not yet been resolved. According to information provided to JUVE, however, these actions have in the interim been terminated, either because they were withdrawn or because the courts rejected them as unfounded.

“The Administrative Council now no longer has no reason to draw the proceedings out any further”, said Senay Okyay. “They must now reinstate my client as a member of the Boards of Appeal. By way of the two ILOAT judgments and various decisions by the Munich Regional Court and the Munich State Attorney’s Office, it has now been confirmed by a third party beyond any doubt that the accusations made by Mr. Battistelli against my client are unfounded.”

Showdown coming up

The Administrative Council will in all probability make a decision in the matter next week, when the representatives of the 38 EPO Member States will gather for their last meeting in Munich. The issue is already on the agenda. Some observers are of the view, however, that this may not necessarily be a decision based on facts of law, because the Administrative Council is, above all, a political body. During the weeks leading up to the ILOAT decision, there were rumours circulating at the EPO that the Administrative Council could reject a reinstatement, and instead put the judge back to work in his former position as a patent examiner. This would once again make Office boss Battistelli his direct superior.

That would add fuel to the fire. The situation at the EPO is already very tense. Parts of the EPO staff, among them the main staff union SUEPO and a number of EPO judges are locked in a bitter dispute with Battistelli. This is why the new leader of the Administrative Council, Dr. Christoph Ernst, made it clear in a JUVE interview in November that the restoration of social peace in the Office is one of the primary goals of the supervisory body for the future. The Administrative Council is setting a great deal of hope in this situation on the EPO chief executive designate, Antónios Campinos, who will be taking over from Battistelli in July 2018.

“The Administrative Council will be examining the decision thoroughly, and drawing the necessary conclusions such as the situation calls for”, was how Ernst responded to an enquiry from JUVE. (Mathieu Klos)

We eagerly await more input as it typically comes a week after such end-of-year meetings. The EPO will no doubt continue to distract from it until Christmas, hoping that by the time people get back to work it will have escaped people’s memory/attention span. Also, by next year (or end of this year), Corcoran’s contract will have ended. They want him to just disappear as though he never existed.

Bristows LLP/IP Kat Carrying on With Dead UPC Jingoism

Saturday 16th of December 2017 04:27:43 PM

Summary: The same old tune from Bristows not only gets played in Bristows’ ‘alternate reality’ blog but also in other blogs where Bristows staff is ‘contributing’ (to confusion and misconceptions)

EARLIER this year we pointed out — quite a few times in fact — that Bristows had sort of taken over IP Kat is the sense that many posts regarding patents were posted by Bristows staff to promote Bristows’ agenda. That coincided with cessation of criticism of the EPO.

“Don’t fall for or get sucked into the illusion that the UPC still has any feet in the UK or elsewhere.”Earlier this month we wrote about the misleading posts of Bristows staff in their blog, in Kluwer Patent Blog and in IP Kat. They just can’t help themselves and it happened again just before the weekend. The ‘Kat’ seems to be stuck in ‘Bristows’ mode, not informing readers about the many barriers to UPC but instead pushing Bristows talking points. Thankfully, the sole comment there states the obvious already:

Even if the UK ratifies before Brexit, where is the legal certainty that it can stay in the UPC after?

All those saying yes have vested interests in the matter, so any news helping to foster this hope is good enough to be trodden out.

It is high time to come down to Earth and not live in Dreamland.

This new is not worth a lot!

Don’t fall for or get sucked into into the illusion that the UPC still has any feet in the UK or elsewhere. Team UPC has been using these tactics for many years. It’s how they manipulate politicians and bamboozle clients for revenue. Only a deeply misled company or person in the UK would currently pursue ‘unitary’ anything.

Links 16/12/2017: Mesa 17.2.7, Wine 3.0 RC2, Kdenlive 17.12.0, Mir 0.29

Saturday 16th of December 2017 02:51:45 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • CoreOS’s Open Cloud Services Could Bring Cloud Portability to Container-Native Apps

    With the release of Tectonic 1.8, CoreOS provides a way to easily deploy container-native applications as services, even across multiple service providers and in-house resources.

    “We take open source APIs, make them super easy to consume, and create a catalog of these things to run on top of Kubernetes so they are portable no matter where you go,” said Brandon Philips, CoreOS chief technology officer.

  • Kubernetes 1.9 release brings greater stability and storage features

    The Kubernetes developer community is capping off a successful year with the release of Kubernetes 1.9, adding important new features that should help to further encourage enterprise adoption.

    Kubernetes is the most popular container orchestrator management software. It’s used to simplify the deployment and management of software containers, which are a popular tool among developers that allows them to run their applications across multiple computing environments without making any changes to the underlying code.

  • What’s new in Kubernetes containers

    Promoted to beta in Kubernetes 1.8 and now in production release in Kubernetes 1.9, the Apps Workloads API provides ways to define workloads based on their behaviors, such as long-running apps that need persistent state.

  • Linux Vs. Unix

    ​In computer time, a substantial part of the population has a misconception that the Unix and Linux operating systems are one and the same. However, the opposite is true. Let’s look at it from a closer look.

  • Open Source OS Still supporting 32-bit Architecture and Why it’s Important

    One after the other, Linux distributions are dropping 32-bit support. Or, to be accurate, they drop support for the Intel x86 32-bit architecture (IA-32). Indeed, computers based on x86_64 hardware (x86-64) are superior in every way to their 32-bits counterpart: they are more powerful, run faster, are more compact, and more energy efficient. Not mentioning their price has considerably decreased in just a few years.

  • Desktop
    • Chromebooks and Office 365 together will challenge Windows laptops

      It’s no secret that I’m not a Windows fan. I’m beginning to wonder if Microsoft isn’t either.

      Hear me out. On Nov. 27, Chromebook users discovered that Office 365 would run on some of their laptops. To be exact, we now know you can download and run Office 365 on Samsung Chromebook Pro, Pixelbook, Acer Chromebook 15, and the Acer C771.

    • Looking Glass Released For KVM Frame Relay, High Performance Windows VM Gaming

      Geoffrey McRae has published the code to the “Looking Glass” project he’s been working on as a “extremely low-latency” KVM frame relay implementation for guests with VGA PCI pass-through.

      Long story short this allows for a graphics card PCI pass-through setup with a KVM guest whereby no separate monitor is needed but rather Looking Glass is like a virtual display for that GPU dedicated to the VM and displays the VM’s rendered contents on your main monitor/GPU. Up to now those wanting to use a secondary graphics card pass-through setup with a virtual machine had to use a separate monitor, but with Looking Glass you can get by with a single monitor for the system.

  • Server
    • 5 Kubernetes must-reads: Tips and trends

      Kubernetes is having a moment – but don’t look for its popularity to wane anytime soon. As enterprises move beyond experimenting and start working in earnest with containers, the number of containers multiply: So do the manual chores. Orchestration tools like Kubernetes add automated help.

      “Running a few standalone containers for development purposes won’t rob your IT team of time or patience: A standards-based container runtime by itself will do the job,” Red Hat technology evangelist Gordon Haff recently noted. “But once you scale to a production environment and multiple applications spanning many containers, it’s clear that you need a way to coordinate those containers to deliver the individual services. As containers accumulate, complexity grows. Eventually, you need to take a step back and group containers along with the coordinated services they need, such as networking, security, and telemetry.” (See Haff’s full article, How enterprise IT uses Kubernetes to tame container complexity.)

    • Amazon Linux 2

      Amazon Linux 2 is the next generation Amazon Linux operating system. It provides a high performance, stable, and secure execution environment for cloud and enterprise applications. Amazon Linux 2 will offer extended availability of software updates for the core operating system through 5 years of long-term support and provides access to the latest software packages through the Amazon Linux Extras repository.

    • Amazon Linux 2 Rolls Out For EC2, On-Site Virtual Machine Images

      Amazon AWS has announced their “next generation” version of their Amazon Linux operating system intended for running on their EC2 compute cloud as well as on-site via VMware/VirtualBox/Hyper-V images that are free to all.

    • Amazon Linux 2 Benchmarks, 6-Way Linux OS EC2 Compute Cloud Comparison

      With Amazon AWS this week having released Amazon Linux 2 LTS I was excited to put this updated cloud-focused operating system through some performance tests to see how it stacks up with the more well known Linux distributions.

    • AWS Releases Prelim Amazon Linux 2 Server

      Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) this week announced the release of its next Linux server OS, Amazon Linux 2.

      Dubbed build 2017.12, the preliminary version of Amazon Linux 2 is now generally available to all public AWS regions. Described as a “candidate” release in the AWS announcement, the final build is yet to come.

    • Modernizing application delivery with container platforms

      Demands for faster production times, higher quality and more predictable cost management are posing significant challenges for development teams. In-house software development is essential in achieving these and other agency objectives. Exacerbating the demands on development teams is often the need to successfully release new applications, while also updating existing ones.

      From a technical aspect, at the center of the challenges for developers, is the need to reliably get software to run as it moves between computing environments. Containerization represents the best way for developers to accomplish this task, with containers driving operational efficiency and competitive advantages.

    • Building Open Source IoT Ecosystems
    • Invaluable tips and tricks for troubleshooting Linux
  • Kernel Space
    • Stable kernels 4.14.6 and 4.9.69

      Two new stable kernels have been released by Greg Kroah-Hartman: 4.14.6 and 4.9.69. As usual, they contain fixes all over the kernel tree; users of those series should upgrade.

    • Linux 4.14.6
    • Linux 4.9.69
    • Systemd 236 Brings Support For LUKS2 Encrypted Partitions, New Options

      Lennart Poettering has announced the release of systemd 236 as the init system’s final release of 2017.

      Systemd 236 is another significant feature release and includes support for the LUKS2 on-disk format for encrypted partitions, bootctl list can now list all available boot menu options, improved cgroup option, various systemd-networkd networking improvements, support for setting the initial keyboard mapping systemd-firstboot, several new systemd-resolve command line arguments, and other minor improvements throughout the systemd landscape.

    • VirtIO DRM Window Server Support: Letting Guest VMs Interface With Host’s Compositor

      -
      Collabora’s Tomeu Vizoso is working on a interesting VirtIO DRM patch that lets clients running within a virtual machine communicate with a display compositor of the host system.

      Based off work done by Google on their ChromeOS kernel with a “virtio_wl” driver, Tomeu is adding support to the VirtIO DRM driver so that clients running within a virtual machine can communicate with the host system’s compositor. Communication is done over the protocol supported by the compositor, e.g. Wayland. Similarly, the ChromeOS VirtIO Wayland work is about offering a virtual device used by a guest VM use a Wayland server on the host system transparently and just focused on Wayland support given the ChromeOS focus.

    • Linux Should Now Work For Some Knockoff PlayStation 3 Controllers

      While the Linux kernel has supported the official Sony PlayStation 3 controller as an input device, some of the off-brand/knockoff models haven’t quite behaved correctly on Linux but that’s now being rectified.

      Red Hat’s Bastien Nocera has made a necessary change to the Sony HID code in the Linux 4.15 kernel to address these knockoff PlayStation 3 controllers as well as a change in BlueZ Git, for the upcoming BlueZ 5.48 release.

    • ZFS On Linux 0.7.4 Brings Linux 4.14 Support, Fixes

      ZFS On Linux 0.7.4 was released this week as the newest stable release for this ZFS file-system implementation for the Linux kernel.

    • 6WIND Announces TCP Boost to Resolve Linux Bottlenecks in TCP-Based Applications

      6WIND, a high-performance networking software company, today announced TCP Boost, a high performance Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) stack for proxy and server deployments. TCP is a client/server protocol used to communicate between applications over an IP network. However, the performance of TCP-based applications is limited by common bottlenecks in the Linux kernel. To overcome these limitations, 6WIND offers TCP Boost as a solution, based on its 6WINDGate™ packet processing software, which is widely deployed as the industry’s highest performance TCP userland stack since 2010.

    • Linux Kernel Developer: Thomas Gleixner

      The report states that, since the 2.6.11 release, the top 10 developers together have contributed 45,338 changes — almost 7.1 percent of the total. The top 30 developers contributed just under 16 percent of the total, as seen in the table below.

      One of these top 30 developers is Thomas Gleixner, CTO at Linutronix GmbH, who serves in various kernel maintainer roles. In this article, Gleixner answers a few questions about his contributions to the Linux kernel.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Juniper Flips OpenContrail To The Linux Foundation

        It’s a familiar story arc for open source efforts started by vendors or vendor-led industry consortiums. The initiatives are launched and expanded, but eventually they find their way into independent open source organizations such as the Linux Foundation, where vendor control is lessened, communities are able to grow, and similar projects can cross-pollinate in hopes of driving greater standardization in the industry and adoption within enterprises.

      • Juniper Hands OpenContrail SDN to Linux Found. Before It’s Too Late

        After failing to develop a community around the project and receiving pushback from a major backer, Juniper may be saving Contrail from becoming irrelevant

      • CableLabs Announces Two Open Source Projects for NFV

        SNAPS is an overarching program at CableLabs to facilitate the adoption of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) within the CableLabs’ community. The organization says it spearheaded SNAPS to fill in gaps within open source to ease the adoption of SDN and NFV for its cable members.

      • Bell becomes first operator to launch ONAP in production

        Canadian telecommunications company Bell announced it has become the first company to launch an open source version of the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) in production.

        The announcement was noted by Arpit Joshipura, general manager of networking and orchestration at the Linux Foundation, in a company blog post. According to Joshipura, the news marks a first step toward using ONAP as a common platform across Bell’s network as the company re-aligns itself to follow a multi-partner DevOps model.

    • Graphics Stack
      • DXVK Is Making Some Steadfast Progress In Running Direct3D 11 Over Vulkan

        Last month on Phoronix I featured the DXVK project that’s working to implement Direct3D 11 over Vulkan (not to be confused with VK9 as the separate effort to get D3D9 over Vulkan). This project is making a surprising amount of progress in its early stages.

      • Latest Steam Client Update Rolls Out Shader Pre-Caching For OpenGL/Vulkan

        The latest Steam client release on Wednesday rolls out OpenGL and Vulkan shader pre-caching by default.

      • VKD3D Is Beginning Flight As Wine’s Direct3D 12 To Vulkan Library

        Back at WineConf 2017 VKD3D was announced for bringing Direct3D 12 to Wine by implementing Microsoft’s latest graphics API atop the Vulkan graphics API. The initial code for this new library is beginning to take shape.

        VKD3D is a long-term play for getting viable Direct3D 12 support working within Wine. As noted back at WineConf, this library is being developed independently of the Wine Git repository. This will potentially allow in the future others to make use of this D3D12-to-Vulkan code without pulling in Wine entirely, should porters look to this project for easing their process of getting Windows games running on Linux, etc.

      • Wayland’s Weston Sees Patches For FreeBSD, Fractional HiDPI, Rust Bindings

        A new contributor to the Wayland/Weston camp has been working on several improvements to the Weston reference compositor.

        Improvements made to Weston via unmerged patches include adding FreeBSD support to Weston, static linking for backends and gl-renderer, Rust bindings for libweston, and fractional HiDPI scaling support.

      • LunarG Adds New Size Option To Further Reduce Size Of SPIR-V
      • Disjoint Timer Query Added To Mesa For Reporting Accurate OpenGL Timing Data

        The latest OpenGL extension added to Mesa by Intel developers is the rather new EXT_disjoint_timer_query.

      • mesa 17.2.7

        The current queue consists of a variety of fixes, with a sizeable hunk in the shared GLSL codebase.

        Whereas for individual drivers – i965 has a crash fix for when playing various Valve games, r600 and nouveau have tweaks in their compiler backends. Fast clears on radeonsi and RADV are better now, while the VAAPI encoding is playing nicely with GStreamer.

      • Mesa 17.2.7 Released For Those Not Yet On Mesa 17.3

        Emil Velikov of Collabora has announced the release today of Mesa 17.2.7 as the latest point release for this older stable branch of Mesa.

        If you are a devoted Linux gamer or at all care about the best features and performance, it’s best you migrate to Mesa 17.3 if you are not habitually riding Mesa Git. But for those still using the Mesa 17.2 series from last quarter, the seventh point release is available.

      • AMD to open-source Vulkan Linux driver ahead of Xmas
      • AMD open sources its Vulkan

        AMD’s Vulkan Linux driver which was initially going to be closed-source and open-sourced when it was finished, is now totally open sourced.

        AMD has released the source code to its official Vulkan Linux driver, just in time to make the Christmas best sellers’ list.

      • AMD To Deliver On Its Promise Of An Open Sourced Vulkan Linux Driver Very Soon

        If I had to guess, I’d say AMD really didn’t want to begin yet another year with its open source Vulkan driver still in hiding, so here we are: it’s finally happening. As Phoronix notes, AMD promised the world over two years ago that it would open source its Vulkan driver for Linux, but few probably realized it’d actually take quite this long to see the day. We can be thankful that this driver didn’t just wind up like some Half-Life episode.

    • Benchmarks
      • 13-Way Radeon AMDGPU-PRO 17.50 vs. NVIDIA Linux OpenCL Compute Comparison

        Given this week’s release of the big AMDGPU-PRO 17.50 Linux driver update, here are some fresh OpenCL GPU benchmarks comparing the performance of AMD’s latest Radeon graphics cards on this newest Linux driver to that of the latest NVIDIA GeForce GPUs on their respective newest driver.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Applications 17.12 Lands with Dolphin Enhancements, HiDPI Support for Okular

        KDE Applications 17.12 has been in development for the past several months and it’s now available as a drop-in replacement for the previous series of the software suite, KDE Applications 17.08, which reached end of life in early November. As expected, several of the included apps received various enhancements and new features in this release.

        Among these, we can mention that the Dolphin file manager is now capable of saving searches, can limit the search only to folders, makes renaming of files easier by allowing the user to simply double-click on the file name, displays extra information about files like origin URL of downloaded file or modification date, and introduces new Bitrate, Genre, and Release Year columns.

      • KDE Applications 17.12 Brings HiDPI Improvements, Rest Of KDE Games Ported To KF5
      • KDE Ships KDE Applications 17.12.0
      • Kdenlive 17.12.0 released

        We are happy to announce the latest Kdenlive version, part of the KDE Applications 17.12 release, making it the last major release using the current code base. This is a maintenance release focused on stability, while feature development is going in next year’s 18.04 version. Proxy clips were given some attention and should give you better seeking experience as well as reduced memory usage for images. Other fixes include fixes in timeline preview, a crash when using a Library clip and smoother seeking on rewind playback.

      • KDE Partition Manager 3.3 and future work

        KDE Partition Manager 3.3 is now ready. It includes some improvements for Btrfs, F2FS, NTFS file systems. I even landed the first bits of new LUKS2 on-disk format support, now KDE Partition Manager can display LUKS2 labels. More LUKS2 work will follow in KPM 3.4. There were changes in how LVM devices are detected. So now Calamares installer should be able to see LVM logical volumes. Once my pull request lands, Calamares should also support partitioning operations on LVM logical volumes (although Calamares would need more work before installation and booting from root file system on LVM works). KPMcore library now only depends on Tier 1 Frameworks instead of Tier 3 (although, we will later require Tier 2).

        Most of the work is now done in sfdisk branch. Currently, the only functional KDE Partition Manager backend uses libparted but sfdisk backend is now fully working (I would say RC quality). I would have merged in already but it requires util-linux 2.32 which is not yet released.

      • KDE Ships KDE Applications 17.12.0
      • KDE Applications 17.12 Brings HiDPI Improvements, Rest Of KDE Games Ported To KF5

        KDE Applications 17.12 is now available as the newest six-month update to this collection of KDE programs making use of KDE Frameworks 5.

        KDE Applications 17.12 was the cut-off point by which only KF5-programs are permitted while those still making use of KDE4 libraries were forced to be dropped. That cleansing took place and Juk, KImageMapEditor, KMix, KGet, Kolf, Sweeper, and others were among those that saw KF5 ports while some older programs were dropped from the collection — at least until seeing any KF5 port in the future.

      • Kdenlive Video Editor Issues Final Major Update on Old Codebase

        A new version of open-source video editor Kdenlive is available to download.

        Kdenlive 17.12.0 is something of a bittersweet release as it’s likely to be the final major release using the current Kdenlive codebase.

        Again, like the last few releases, this update is primarily focused on bug fixes and stability. In particular this update solves some niggling issues with proxy clips, with the team highlight ‘smoother seeking‘ and ‘reduced memory usage‘ as a result.

        Those of us you impatient for new features and major improvements will be pleased to hear that work on the next-generation Kdenlive is continuing apace. Kdenlive 18.04 is (as you might guess) tentatively scheduled for formal release in April of 2018.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Librsvg moves to Gitlab

        Librsvg now lives in GNOME’s Gitlab instance. You can access it here.

        Gitlab allows workflows similar to Github: you can create an account there, fork the librsvg repository, file bug reports, create merge requests… Hopefully this will make it nicer for contributors.

  • Distributions
    • The Best Linux Apps & Distros of 2017

      So join us (ideally with from a warm glass of something non-offensive and sweet) as we take a tart look backwards through some key releases from the past 12 months.

      This list is not presented in any sort of order, and all of the entries were sourced from YOUR feedback to the survey we shared earlier in the week. If your favourite release didn’t make the list, it’s because not enough people voted for it!

    • New Releases
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • Etisalat Digital to add SUSE open source solutions

        Etisalat Digital is to add Linux and open source solutions to its managed services mix after signing a partnership to on-board SUSE solutions.

      • OrionVM Broadens Cloud Offering with Open Source Enterprise Support Partner SUSE

        OrionVM, an award-winning next-gen Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider, today announced continued growth of the OrionVM Wholesale Cloud Platform with the addition of technology partner SUSE, the world’s first provider of an Enterprise Linux Distribution. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server represents the first open source enterprise supported Linux operating system on the OrionVM platform.

      • SUSE Rolls Out New Version Of Their In-Kernel Boot Splash Screen

        Back in October I wrote about SUSE working on a new, in-kernel bootsplash project. That work has yet to be mainlined but it looks like it’s still on track for going upstream in the future with the latest version now being released that addresses issues uncovered during review.

        SUSE is developing this in-kernel bootsplash program as an alternative to the user-space Plymouth and other programs. SUSE’s implementation runs off the FBCON frame-buffer console rather than DRM/KMS and they hope with it being in the kernel will prove to be more reliable. This in-kernel bootsplash can also allow hiding all kernel output and other differences compared to user-space implementations.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Debian 9 Complete Screenshot Tour

        The world’s most stable upstream Linux distro has just announced a point upgrade on its latest Debian 9 Stretch release. The latest version is 9.3, it comes with many corrections and improvements on the security front as well as some adjustments to cater for some other serious issues. The point release is not a new version of Debian 9 but only updates are added, so users do not need to throw away the old installation media as users can easily upgrade to an up-to-date system using an updated mirror.

      • Debsources now in sources.debian.org

        Debsources is a web application for publishing, browsing and searching an unpacked Debian source mirror on the Web. With Debsources, all the source code of every Debian release is available in https://sources.debian.org, both via an HTML user interface and a JSON API.

        This service was first offered in 2013 with the sources.debian.net instance, which was kindly hosted by IRILL, and is now becoming official under sources.debian.org, hosted on the Debian infrastructure.

      • Derivatives
        • Debian-Based Q4OS Linux Distro to Get a New Look with Debonaire Desktop Theme

          Q4OS is a small GNU/Linux distribution based on the latest Debian GNU/Linux operating system and built around the Trinity Desktop Environment (TDE). It’s explicitly designed to make the Microsoft Windows to Linux transition accessible and more straightforward as possible for anyone.

          Dubbed Debonaire, the new desktop theme uses dark-ish elements for the window titlebar and panel. Somehow it resembles the look and feels of the acclaimed Arc GTK+ theme, and it makes the Q4OS operating system more modern than the standard look offered by the Trinity Desktop Environment.

        • Slax 9.3.0 beta ready for download

          I am almost ready to release the next Slax version. But before I do so, I would like to get some feedback on the current progress.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Mir 0.29.0 release

            We are pleased to announce that Mir 0.29.0 has been released and is available in Mir release PPA. There are builds for the supported Ubuntu releases (16.04 LTS “Xenial”, 17.04 “Zesty” and 17.10 “Artful”) .

            Mir 0.29.0 is in the process of uploading into Ubuntu 18.04 “Bionic” (it should move out of “proposed” and into the main archive in about a week). If you need it sooner then a “Bionic” build is also available in the Mir release PPA.

          • Mir 0.29 Released To Improve Their Wayland Implementation

            The past few days Canonical’s Mir developers have been preparing their next milestone with pushing this display server along with Wayland protocol support and now that new “v0.29″ release is available.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” KDE released!

              Linux Mint 18.3 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2021. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use.

            • Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Xfce released!

              Linux Mint 18.3 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2021. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use.

            • Linux Mint 18.3 Cinnamon Review: Best ‘Linux’ Distro for Beginners!

              Linux Mint 18.3 Cinnamon boots fast (even on a slow rotational disk), very stable (I haven’t seen any application crash in the past 3 days that I’ve been using it) and the level of responsiveness it has shown is top-notch, probably matched only by another Linux Mint! As far as the end user-experience is concerned, I’d say it’s the best ‘Linux’ distro for beginners, it certainly knows how to please the end-user… welcome to the HecticGeek‘s review of Linux Mint 18.3 Cinnamon edition.

              Few years ago Linux Mint changed their release strategy. They now rely on the core of Ubuntu LTS releases as the foundation for their operating system. As far as I can see, this is working great for them. Because Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Support) provides security & maintenance updates up to 5 years & it is already based on a solid foundation set by Ubuntu. This in tern gives Linux Mint developers enough space to ‘breath’ a little and fully concentrate on what they do best: development of their awesome desktop shell & other native Linux Mint user-applications.

            • Linux Mint 18.3 ‘Sylvia’ Boasts Updated Software Manager, Backup Tools
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • 6 open source home automation tools

    The Internet of Things isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a reality that’s expanded rapidly since we last published a review article on home automation tools in 2016. In 2017, 26.5% of U.S. households already had some type of smart home technology in use; within five years that percentage is expected to double.

    With an ever-expanding number of devices available to help you automate, protect, and monitor your home, it has never been easier nor more tempting to try your hand at home automation. Whether you’re looking to control your HVAC system remotely, integrate a home theater, protect your home from theft, fire, or other threats, reduce your energy usage, or just control a few lights, there are countless devices available at your disposal.

  • New Open Source Tools Test for VPN Leaks

    ExpressVPN on Tuesday launched a suite of open source tools that let users test for vulnerabilities that can compromise privacy and security in virtual private networks.

    Released under an open source MIT License, they are the first-ever public tools to allow automated testing for leaks on VPNs, the company said. The tools are written primarily in Python, and available for download on Github.

  • Open Source OS Still supporting 32-bit Architecture and Why it’s Important

    One after the other, Linux distributions are dropping 32-bit support. Or, to be accurate, they drop support for the Intel x86 32-bit architecture (IA-32). Indeed, computers based on x86_64 hardware (IA-64) are superior in every way to their 32-bits counterpart: they are more powerful, run faster, are more compact, and more energy efficient. Not mentioning their price has considerably decreased in just a few years.

    If you have the opportunity to switch to 64 bits, do it. But, to quote a mail I received recently from Peter Tribble, author of Tribblix: “[… ] in the developed world we assume that we can replace things; in some parts of the developing world older IA-32 systems are still the norm, with 64-bit being rare.”

  • An introduction to Joplin, an open source Evernote alternative

    Joplin is an open source cross-platform note-taking and to-do application. It can handle a large number of notes, organized into notebooks, and can synchronize them across multiple devices. The notes can be edited in Markdown, either from within the app or with your own text editor, and each application has an option to render Markdown with formatting, images, URLs, and more. Any number of files, such as images and PDFs, can be attached to a note, and notes can also be tagged.

    I started developing Joplin when Evernote changed its pricing model and because I wanted my 4,000+ notes to be stored in a more open format, free of any proprietary solution. To that end, I have developed three Joplin applications, all under the MIT License: for desktop (Windows, MacOS, and Linux), for mobile (Android and iOS), and for the terminal (Windows, MacOS, and Linux). All the applications have similar user interfaces and can synchronize with each other. They are based on open standards and technologies including SQLite and JavaScript for the backend, and Terminal Kit (Node.js), Electron, and React Native for the three front ends.

  • Startup Aims to Build Open-Source Telecom Ecosystem on Blockchain

    There are 2,000+ mobile network operations in charge of providing communication services at global scale. However, the traditional infrastructure is centralized, inflexible and inaccurate. Common services like 3G/4G, Wi-Fi, BOSS mobile communications solutions and companies that use cloud-based communications solutions are often unable to render accurate content billing and distribution.

    Conventional mobile packages overcharge customers, not to mention that they pose concerns around data transmissions. An alternative solution to average mobile network providers could be Blockchain technology.

  • Merry Xmas, fellow code nerds: Avast open-sources decompiler

    Malware hunting biz and nautical jargon Avast has released its machine-code decompiler RetDec as open source, in the hope of arming like-minded haters of bad bytes and other technically inclined sorts with better analytical tools.

    As discussed as the recent Botconf 2017 in France earlier this month, RetDec provides a way to turn machine code – binary executables – back into an approximation of the original source code.

  • 10 open source predictions for 2018

    With 2017 just about done and dusted, dozens of open source experts have polished their crystal balls and made predictions about what can be expected in the open source space in 2018.

    Now it’s our turn. (With fingers firmly crossed) here are 10 open source trends that you may – or may not – see coming to the fore next year. Some are obvious, some are frivolous, and some could just change your life.

  • Stop Calling Everything “Open Source”: What “Open Source” Really Means

    “Open source” is an exciting concept in the world of software and beyond. But it shouldn’t be applied to contexts where it makes no sense.

  • GreenKey to join Symphony; open source voice software

    GreenKey, creator of patented voice software with integrated speech recognition designed for the financial markets, today announced the firm has joined the Symphony Software Foundation, a nonprofit organization fostering innovation in financial services through open source software (OSS).

  • GreenKey Joins the Symphony Software Foundation; Will Open Source Voice Software

    GreenKey, creator of patented voice software with integrated speech recognition designed for the financial markets, today announced the firm has joined the Symphony Software Foundation, a nonprofit organization fostering innovation in financial services through open source software (OSS). GreenKey will release a Community Edition of its voice software development kit (SDK) that will enable banks and other financial market firms to “voice enable” any web application.

  • Events
    • Ubucon Europe 2018 Ubuntu Conference Announced for 27-29 April in Xixón, Spain

      The organizers of the Ubucon Europe conference for Ubuntu Linux users, contributors and developers announced the official dates next year’s Ubucon Europe 2018 event.

      Don’t pack your bags just yet for the next Ubuntu conference, but at least you should mark your calendars for April 27, 28, and 29 of 2018, when the Ubucon Europe 2018 conference will take place. Where? The event will be held in Spain this time, in the city of Xixón, at the municipal facilities of Centro de Cultura Antiguo Instituto.

      “Ubucon Europe 2018 will be held this year in Xixón, Spain on 27, 28 and 29 April 2018 in the Spanish city of Xixón at the municipal facilities of the Antiguo Instituto. For further information please write to ubuconeurope2018 AT gmail.com,” wrote the organizers in a tweet earlier this morning.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox Focus Adds Quick Access Without Sacrificing Users’ Privacy

        It’s been a little over a year since we launched Firefox Focus. We’ve had tremendous success since then, we launched in 27+ languages, launched on Android, and hit over 1 million downloads on Android within the first month of launch.

        Today, we’re introducing a new feature: quicker access to your most visited sites, as well as the ability to add any search engine to your Focus app. They were the most requested items from our users and are aligned with our goals on what makes Focus so great.

        We know our users want choice and miss the convenience of having their favorite websites and search engines at their fingertips, but they don’t want to sacrifice their privacy. Since the moment we’ve built Focus, our goal has been to get our users quickly to the information and sites all while keeping their data safe from unwanted targeting.

  • SaaS/Back End
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Elementary LibreOffice

      Two months ago I start to finalize the existing Elementary icon theme for LibreOffice. It’s about 2.000 icons and now they are available in LibreOffice 6.0 beta. In addition all icons are available as svg file so it can be used and edit in an easy way.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • FreeNAS 11.1 Provides Greater Performance and Cloud Integration

      The FreeNAS Development Team is excited and proud to present FreeNAS 11.1! FreeNAS 11.1 adds cloud integration, OpenZFS performance improvements, including the ability to prioritize resilvering operations, and preliminary Docker support to the world’s most popular software-defined storage operating system. This release includes an updated preview of the beta version of the new administrator graphical user interface, including the ability to select display themes. This post provides a brief overview of the new features.

      The base operating system has been updated to the STABLE version of FreeBSD 11.1, which adds new features, updated drivers, and the latest security fixes. Support for Intel® Xeon® Scalable Family processors, AMD Ryzen processors, and HBA 9400-91 has been added.

    • FreeNAS 11.1 Rolls Out With Better OpenZFS Performance, Docker Support
    • FreeBSD-Based TrueOS 17.12 Released

      The FreeBSD-based operating system TrueOS that’s formerly known as PC-BSD has put out their last stable update of 2017.

      TrueOS 17.12 is now available as the latest six-month stable update for this desktop-focused FreeBSD distribution that also offers a server flavor. TrueOS continues using OpenRC as its init system and this cycle they have continued improving their Qt5-based Lumina desktop environment, the Bhyve hypervisor is now supported in the TrueOS server install, improved removable device support, and more.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open source science: Scientists researching rice plant genetics agree to not file for patents

      The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a nonprofit established in the 2014 Farm Bill with bipartisan congressional support, awarded a $1 million Seeding Solutions grant to University of California, Davis (UC Davis) to study the genetics of rice plants. Together with researchers at the University of North Carolina and collaborators, the team will develop and implement a chemistry-driven gene discovery approach to identify genes that modulate root traits.

    • Lytro could open source their light-field photo sharing platform
    • Lytro considering open source light field photo sharing platform

      Lytro is reportedly considering an open source solution after announcing it would no longer support its sharing platform for Lytro cameras’ ‘living images.’

    • Open Data
      • When Waze Won’t Help, Palestinians Make Their Own Maps

        If you want to drive the 15 or so miles from Jerusalem to the city of Jericho, in the Palestinian Territories, Google Maps will tell you: “Can’t find a way there.” Waze will issue a warning: “Caution: This destination is in a high risk area or is prohibited to Israelis by law.” If you press “Confirm Drive” nonetheless, the app will direct you, just not all the way.

        When you pass from Israel into the West Bank, part of the occupied Palestinian Territories, Waze’s directions simply end. To keep going, you need to change your setting to allow access to “high risk” areas. Even then, GPS coverage tends to be limited.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Using Gmail with OAUTH2 in Linux and on an ESP8266

        One of the tasks I dread is configuring a web server to send email correctly via Gmail. The simplest way of sending emails is SMTP, and there are a number of scripts out there that provide a simple method to send mail that way with a minimum of configuration. There’s even PHP mail(), although it’s less than reliable.

  • Programming/Development
    • Diagnose and understand your app’s GPU behavior with GAPID
    • GAPID 1.0 Released As Google’s Cross-Platform Vulkan Debugger

      Back in March we wrote about GAPID as a new Google-developed Vulkan debugger in its early stages. Fast forward to today, GAPID 1.0 has been released for debugging Vulkan apps/games on Linux/Windows/Android as well as OpenGL ES on Android.

      GAPID is short for the Graphics API Debugger and allows for analyzing rendering and performance issues with ease using its GUI interface. GAPID also allows for easily experimenting with code changes to see their rendering impact and allows for offline debugging. GAPID has its own format and capturetrace utility for capturing traces of Vulkan (or GLES on Android too) programs for replaying later on with GAPID.

    • Hackable Text Editor Atom 1.23 Adds Better Compatibility for External Git Tools

      GitHub released Atom 1.23, the monthly update of the open-source and cross-platform hackable text editor application loved by numerous developers all over the world.

      Including a month’s worth of enhancements, Atom 1.23 comes with the ability for packages to register URI handler functions, which can be invoked whenever the user visits a URI that starts with “atom://package-name/,” and a new option to hide certain commands in the command palette when registering them via “atom.commands.add.”

      Atom 1.23 also improves the compatibility with external Git tools, as well as the performance of the editor by modifying the behavior of several APIs to no longer make callbacks more than once in a text buffer transaction. Along with Atom 1.23, GitHub also released Teletype 0.4.0, a tool that allows developers to collaborate simultaneously on multiple files.

    • #13: (Much) Faster Package (Re-)Installation via Binaries
    • RVowpalWabbit 0.0.10
    • Simplicity Before Generality, Use Before Reuse

      A common problem in component frameworks, class libraries, foundation services, and other infrastructure code is that many are designed to be general purpose without reference to concrete applications. This leads to a dizzying array of options and possibilities that are often unused or misused — or just not useful.

      Generally, developers work on specific systems; specifically, the quest for unbounded generality rarely serves them well (if at all). The best route to generality is through understanding known, specific examples, focusing on their essence to find an essential common solution. Simplicity through experience rather than generality through guesswork.

    • What Ruby Needs

      Of all of the questions we receive at RedMonk, one of the most common concerns programming languages. Whether from members of a given community or a commercial entity, the desire is to better understand a given language’s trajectory and the context around it. Is it going up or down, and what are the reasons for that direction? And, of course: can that direction be meaningfully changed?

      Recently, we’ve received several such inquiries around Ruby. For those with an interest in the language, then, the following is a quick public summary of the answers we’ve been providing privately.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • HTML 5.2 is done, HTML 5.3 is coming

      Today W3C releases HTML 5.2. This is the second revision of HTML5, following last year’s HTML 5.1 Recommendation. In 2014 we expressed a goal to produce a revision roughly every year; HTML 5.2 is a continuation of that commitment.

      This Recommendation like its predecessor provides an updated stable guide to what is HTML. In the past year there has been a significant cleanup of the specification. We have introduced some new features, and removed things that are no longer part of the modern Web Platform, or that never achieved broad interoperability. As always we have also fixed bugs in the specification, making sure it adapts to the changing reality of the Web.

      Many of the features added integrate other work done in W3C. The Payment Request API promises to make commerce on the Web far easier, reducing the risks of making a mistake or being caught by an unscrupulous operator. New security features such as Content Security Policy protect users more effectively, while new work incorporated from ARIA helps developers offer people with disabilities a good user experience of their applications.

Leftovers
  • Health/Nutrition
  • Security
    • European Commission Kicks Off Open-Source Bug Bounty

      The European Commission has announced its first-ever bug bounty program, and is calling on hackers to find vulnerabilities in VLC, a popular open-source multimedia player loaded on every workstation at the Commission.

      The program has kicked off with a three-week, invitation-only session, after which it will be open to the public. Rewards include a minimum of $2,000 for critical severity bugs, especially remote code execution.

      High severity bugs such as code execution without user intervention, will start at $750. Medium severity bugs will start at a minimum of $300; these include code execution with user intervention, high-impact crashes and infinite loops. Low-severity bugs, like information leaks, crashes and the like, will pay out starting at $100.

    • Avast launches open-source decompiler for machine code

      Keeping up with the latest malware and virus threats is a daunting task, even for industry professionals. Any device connected to the Internet is a target for being infected and abused. In order to stop attacks from happening, there needs to be an understanding of how they work so that a prevention method can be developed.

      To help with the reverse engineering of malware, Avast has released an open-source version of its machine-code decompiler, RetDec, that has been under development for over seven years. RetDec supports a variety of architectures aside from those used on traditional desktops including ARM, PIC32, PowerPC and MIPS.

    • Avast makes ‘RetDec’ machine-code decompiler open source on GitHub

      Today, popular anti-virus and security company, Avast, announces that it too is contributing to the open source community. You see, it is releasing the code for its machine-code decompiler on GitHub. Called “RetDec,” the decompiler had been under development since 2011, originally by AVG — a company Avast bought in 2016.

    • The Intel ME vulnerabilities are a big deal for some people, harmless for most

      (Note: all discussion here is based on publicly disclosed information, and I am not speaking on behalf of my employers)

      I wrote about the potential impact of the most recent Intel ME vulnerabilities a couple of weeks ago. The details of the vulnerability were released last week, and it’s not absolutely the worst case scenario but it’s still pretty bad. The short version is that one of the (signed) pieces of early bringup code for the ME reads an unsigned file from flash and parses it. Providing a malformed file could result in a buffer overflow, and a moderately complicated exploit chain could be built that allowed the ME’s exploit mitigation features to be bypassed, resulting in arbitrary code execution on the ME.

      Getting this file into flash in the first place is the difficult bit. The ME region shouldn’t be writable at OS runtime, so the most practical way for an attacker to achieve this is to physically disassemble the machine and directly reprogram it. The AMT management interface may provide a vector for a remote attacker to achieve this – for this to be possible, AMT must be enabled and provisioned and the attacker must have valid credentials[1]. Most systems don’t have provisioned AMT, so most users don’t have to worry about this.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • NIST Releases New Cybersecurity Framework Draft
    • Researchers Create Chips That Are Unhackable and Virtually Indestructible

      Keeping critical information like your online banking login or credit card number out of the wrong hands is a crucial but difficult part of living in the age of the Internet. Installing antivirus software or using password lockboxes are probably security precautions that you’ve taken to keep yourself from becoming a cybercrime statistic. But organizations like the military have access to such sensitive information that these standard precautions just aren’t enough.

    • Starbucks Free WiFi ‘Caught Sucking Cryptocoins’ Off The Laptops Of Coffee Addicts

      Dunkin noticed a strange 10-second delay his laptop took while connecting to the WiFi. He later found a cryptocurrency mining code on his laptop.

      He was quick to bring the issue to the coffee brand’s attention via Twitter where Dunking also included a screenshot of the code he found.

    • Introducing bolt: Thunderbolt 3 security levels for GNU/Linux

      Today I released the first version 0.1 (aka “Accidentally Working”) of bolt, a system daemon that manages Thunderbolt 3 devices. It provides a D-Bus API to list devices, enroll them (authorize and store them in the local database) and forget them again (remove previously enrolled devices). It also emits signals if new devices are connected (or removed). During enrollment devices can be set to be automatically authorized as soon as they are connected. A command line tool, called boltctl, can be used to control the daemon and perform all the above mentioned tasks (see the man page of boltctl(1) for details).

    • Red Hat’s Latest Project: “Bolt” To Deal With Linux Thunderbolt Security

      “Bolt” is a new project by Red Hat / GNOME developers in dealing with Thunderbolt 3 security levels on Linux.

      With Thunderbolt allowing unfettered access to PCI Express, it’s super fast but opens up the plug-and-play port to DMA attacks and more. Thus with Thunderbolt 3 they introduced the concept of security levels, which Bolt is part of the equation for supporting this security feature on Linux.

    • Bolt Will Tackle Thunderbolt 3 Security on Linux

      Ah, you gotta love Red Hat — they’re never not busy working on something that might make our lives a little easier.

      Latest case in point: Thunderbolt 3.

      This alternative to USB and other peripheral port technologies (including the older Thunderbolt 2) is fast gaining traction in the tech industry (especially since Intel made it royalty free).

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Lavishing Money on the Pentagon

      It seems like it’s always Christmastime at the Pentagon where the stockings are full and budget-cutting is for those domestic social-program guys, as Jonathan Marshall explains.

      [...]

      President Trump this week signed into law a $700 billion blueprint for military spending in the current fiscal year. The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act includes funding for more troops, more weapons, more interventions abroad, and more active wars, with Trump’s enthusiastic blessing. “We need our military,” he declared at a White House signing ceremony.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • WikiLeaks recognised as a ‘media organisation’ by UK tribunal

      A British tribunal has recognised Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks as a “media organisation”, a point of contention with the United States, which is seeking to prosecute him and disputes his journalistic credentials.

      The issue of whether Assange is a journalist and publisher would almost certainly be one of the main battlegrounds in the event of the US seeking his extradition from the UK.

      The definition of WikiLeaks by the information tribunal, which is roughly equivalent to a court, could help Assange’s defence against extradition on press freedom grounds.

  • Finance
    • Theresa May suffers fresh humiliation as she loses key Brexit vote in Commons

      Theresa May was dealt her humiliating first Commons defeat over Brexit tonight.

      MPs whooped and applauded as she lost a crunch vote by 309 to 305, a majority of just four, to give MPs a “meaningful vote” on her final deal with Brussels.

      It is a blow to the Prime Minister as she jets to Brussels tomorrow to meet 27 EU leaders.

      They are set to sign off the first-round deal she struck with the EU Commission on citizens’ rights, Northern Ireland and the divorce bill on Friday.

    • Russia or Corporate Tax Cuts: Which Would Comcast Rather MSNBC Cover?

      At the beginning of December, liberal TV hosts Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow—the anchors of MSNBC‘s primetime schedule—were confronted with ever-escalating breaking news. In the span of a week, from December 1 through December 7, President Donald Trump shrank two national monuments, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saw his travel ban upheld by the Supreme Court and possibly began to create his own spy network. Meanwhile, the Senate passed a tax “reform” bill that would radically restructure the US economy at the expense of poor and middle-class Americans, and climate change-fueled wildfires devastated Southern California.

      Yet on the days their shows aired during those seven days—the weekdays, December 1 and 4–7—both Hayes and Maddow bypassed all these stories to lead with minutiae from the ongoing Russia investigation that has consumed MSNBC‘s coverage like no other news event since the beginning of the Trump presidency. Topical news of the day, whether on legislation or natural disasters, took a backseat. The Comcast-owned network’s two most popular personalities used their position to focus endlessly on speculative coverage of Russia’s role in the 2016 election—devoting the bulk of each show’s 15-minutes opening segment to the story, at a minimum.

    • As Brexit dominates, its causes are being forgotten

      The Prime Minister seemed to recognise the need for urgent action last year when she announced from the steps of Downing Street her intention to tackle “burning injustice”. But look a bit closer at her language on that day, and you may spot the seeds of failure. “We will do everything we can to help anybody, whatever your background, to go as far as your talents will take you,” she said. The emphasis was on “your talents” – implying that those who do not have whatever the passing whims of the modern economy deems ‘talent’ can “go whistle”, to adopt a phrase.

      [...]

      In a country which still has significant wealth, where people’s living standards are declining, and where our record on tackling poverty is at risk of unravelling, not making the most of the resources we already have looks increasingly perverse.

    • A Border Wall’s Uncompensated Victims

      One day several years ago, a crew of federal contractors turned up behind Melissa Solis’ family home, a modest house with white siding surrounded by fruit trees and farmland a few hundred yards from the Rio Grande. The workers cleared brush. They dug a deep trench. A pile driver sank steel deep into the ground.

      The work was disruptive, the noise a constant distraction for Solis and her parents. Snakes and cockroaches streamed inside to flee the construction. The foundation shifted, knocking doors askew. When it was over, the Department of Homeland Security had erected an 18-foot-high metal fence behind the house — a border barrier to stop people from illegally crossing the river from Mexico into the United States.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • NYT Prints Government-Funded Propaganda About Government-Funded Propaganda
    • What’s at Stake in Honduran Election

      For seven months in 1969, I hitch-hiked around the U.S., Mexico and Central America with my best friend from high school. Some class-mates from our school in Vancouver Canada saved their money then travelled to Europe or Australia but Ollie and I headed south. It was an eye-opening experience for two middle-class Canadians.

    • Alabama’s Effort to Suppress Black Vote Couldn’t Prevent Huge Turnout

      Some 1.3 million Alabamians – more than twice as many who voted in the primary – turned out to vote in Tuesday’s special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The turnout was extraordinary because it took place in a state that has a well-documented history of trying to suppress the vote of the very group that helped propel Doug Jones to victory.

      Alabama has a long record of suppressing the African-American vote. In the Jim Crow era, state authorities made it impossible for many Blacks to vote by requiring a literacy test. Courts long ago deemed literacy tests discriminatory and illegal, but today we still see barriers in Alabama that make it harder for people of color to cast a ballot.

    • Lobbying Registration Database Reporting Recipe

      It can seem like lobbyists run Washington from behind the scenes. But their work isn’t completely opaque: They’re required to register with the House and the Senate when they lobby for a new client.

      Our new lobbying database will help you cover Congress and the organizations that may try to influence lawmakers. We hope this new database will be helpful to a wide variety of people, from informed citizens and civic activists to journalists.

    • Lobbying Registration Database
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • LETTER: This definitely was not censorship

      Several news articles, letters, and an editorial in this paper have mischaracterized recent events as “…infringing on freedom of speech….” The focus of the sample letter by Cathy Cloutier was not suppression, as alleged, but a show of strong disapproval of the book’s promotion. This is not a subtle distinction.

      Indigo/Coles is the only game in town for new publications and their promotion of anything implies integrity. A well-researched book would have been a boon not only to the immediate debate about the effluent plant but to the future of all industry in Nova Scotia. I wish there was one.

    • Conviviality vs Censorship: On Media Freedom in Sri Lanka

      Under the Presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa between 2005 and 2015, government brutality and censorship towards the media in Sri Lanka reached new levels. This was to the extent that in the Reporters Without Borders’ Index of Press Freedom it was ranked 165 out of 170 countries in 2015 (up from 115 in 2005) of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist. Furthermore, in 2014 the island was declared the fourth most dangerous country in the Committee to Protect Journalists’ global index of journalists murdered with impunity.

      However, it would be wrong to see this as an exclusive period of censorship; to a certain extent this breakdown in conviviality began in the 1980s when the government suppressed the JVP insurgency through media censorship, threats of criminal defamation, coupled with disappearances and deaths. It continued with the beginning of the civil war in 1983 and was also brutal under Rajapaksa’s predecessor, President Kumaratunge. Although this authoritarian mode of governance was established earlier, it became increasingly violent during the decade of Rajapaksa’s presidency.

    • Censorship Still Alive and Well in Uzbekistan

      Since Shavkat Mirziyoyev assumed the presidency of Uzbekistan 15 months ago, some important, if modest, signs of hope have emerged following decades of human rights abuses. But it’s a mixed picture.

      Look at freedom of expression and media. On one hand, registered media outlets in Uzbekistan have begun to cover politically sensitive topics: the popular Uzbek-language daily Kun.uz, for example, has written about officials forcing public sector workers and students to pick cotton, despite an official ban on such mobilization. Reporting on this would have been unthinkable under the late president, Islam Karimov.

    • Open Rights Group respond to news BBFC proposed as Age Verification regulator

      Responding to the news that the BBFC are in line to be appointed Age Verification regulator, Jim Killock Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

      “The BBFC will struggle to ensure that Age Verification is safe, secure and anonymous. They are powerless to ensure people’s privacy.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Senator Calls on Courts to Increase Transparency of Surveillance Orders

      Federal courts must end the excessive secrecy surrounding law enforcement surveillance orders, a U.S. Senator urged in a letter on Friday. This secrecy block’s the public’s ability to fully understand how police conduct this surveillance, the lawmaker wrote.

      The letter, sent by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Or), asks federal courts to enact several important reforms, including establishing uniform procedures for publicizing basic information about when and how often law enforcement seeks information about our communications and other data held by services such as cell phone companies, Internet service providers, and online platforms.

    • Don’t Reauthorize NSA Spying in a Must-Pass Funding Bill

      The next two weeks will be a flurry of activity in Congress. Before they can leave for the holidays, our government must—at minimum—pass at least one bill to keep the government running and also decide what to do about a controversial NSA spying authority called Section 702. Some legislators want to reauthorize Section 702, without meaningful reform, by attaching it to must-pass spending legislation. This is a terrible idea. The legislative process surrounding Section 702 already lacks necessary transparency and deliberation.

      The new legislative stratagem gets complicated very quickly. Here’s what you need to know.

    • NSA Agent Used His Government Computer–And Public Funds–On Adult Dating Sites

      Documents from the National Security Agency (“NSA”) show an unnamed NSA employee using his government provided computer–and therefore public funds–for a series of personal issues while on the job.

      Those issues include a love affair apparently carried out over the messaging system of an adult dating website.

    • Facebook admits that spending time on social media can make you feel worse

      They detailed research from University of Michigan, which found that students randomly assigned to read Facebook for 10 minutes were in a worse mood at the end of the day than those who talked to friends or posted on the website.

      They also revealed how a study from UC San Diego and Yale found that people who clicked on about four times as many links as the average person, or who liked twice as many posts, reported worse mental health than average.

    • Facebook admits it poses mental health risk – but says using site more can help

      On Thursday, Chamath Palihapitiya, the former executive who criticized the company, walked back his comments, saying: “I genuinely believe that Facebook is a force for good in the world.”

    • Facebook says ‘passively consuming’ the News Feed will make you feel worse about yourself
    • Apple’s Face ID tech can’t tell two Chinese women apart

      However, a woman in China, known only is Yan, told the Jiangsu Broadcasting Corp this week that her co-worker was able to unlock her iPhone X using the face-scanning tech despite having reconfigured the facial recognition settings multiple times

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Why does the U.S. government have to confiscate prisoner artwork from Guantanamo Bay?

      During the 14 years I spent cut off from the world in the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, I often found myself wondering whether people cared about the conditions under which I was being held. Since my release a little more than one year ago, I’ve been impressed by how many people do care — something that has been driven home to me again by the public reaction to reports of a change in policy toward artwork created by inmates in the prison. For several years, the U.S. government had a screening process that permitted artwork created by prisoners to be shared with family members and others outside the prison, but in November it announced it is no longer allowing prisoner art to be publicly released. As a result, these works can no longer be seen by anyone outside of Guantanamo. What’s more, the government has been saying that it owns the works of art and can destroy them if it wishes. I have been heartened by the individuals and organizations that have protested this cruel policy, as well as by the critical coverage in the U.S. and international press.

      But I can’t say that I was surprised by the news itself.

    • New Mexico Sheriff’s Office Pulls Over the Same Black Federal Agent — Three Times in a Month

      The ACLU of New Mexico sues the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office for the racial profiling of an ICE agent.

      By the third time Sherese Crawford got pulled over, she knew it was no matter of coincidence.

      Crawford is a 38-year-old African-American Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent recently on temporary assignment in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As part of her work, she was regularly required to rent a car and drive a lonely stretch of I-40 to travel between the ICE field office in Albuquerque and Milan, New Mexico. Over the course of less than a month, she was pulled over three times by the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office — twice by the same deputy.

      In none of these stops was she given a warning or citation. Her only crime: driving while black.

    • The federal government’s boldest land grab in a generation produced the first border wall — and a trail of abuse, mistakes and unfairness.

      The land agents started working the border between Texas and Mexico in the spring of 2007. Sometimes they were representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers. Other times they were officers from the U.S. Border Patrol, uniformed in green, guns tucked into side holsters. They visited tumbledown mobile homes and suburban houses with golf course views. They surveyed farms fecund with sugar cane, cotton and sorghum growing by the mud-brown Rio Grande. They delivered their blunt news to ranchers and farmers, sheet metal workers and university professors, auto mechanics and wealthy developers.

    • In Florida, the Racist War on Drugs Rages on

      A new report from The Sarasota-Herald Tribune has found that drug enforcement in Florida treats Black people much more severely than white people. This follows a Tribune report in 2015 exposing prejudice in Florida’s sentencing practices, showing that Blacks are punished with significantly longer prison sentences than whites convicted of the same crimes with similar facts.

      Disturbing? Absolutely. Unjust? Completely. Surprising? Not at all.

      The results of the Tribune’s investigation are sadly expected in America because the drug war has been a war against people of color since its inception decades ago. Data, studies, reports, and court decisions on stops, arrests, charges, pleas, and sentencing reach the same shameful conclusion: Blacks are treated far more harshly than whites.

      The report found that in drug cases, Black people spend two-thirds more time behind bars than white people. Blacks were almost three times more likely to be charged with committing crimes in “drug free” zones than whites , which enhances the severity of a sentence. Again unsurprisingly, Black people account for two-thirds of such enhanced convictions statewide. This is partly because in many urban areas, schools, churches, and public housing are closely spaced, such that entire Black communities – and not by coincidence – are deemed “drug free” zones in which drug offenses are subject to more draconian punishments.

    • A Backroom Deal Threatens to Weaken Real Police Reform in New York City

      On Tuesday, the New York City Council will vote on two police accountability bills. One represents real reform that will protect New Yorkers’ privacy rights when police ask to search them without probable cause. The other is faux reform that is the result of a backroom deal between powerful politicians and the New York Police Department.

      For more than five years, the two bills were collectively known as the Right to Know Act. Intro 541-C and Intro 182-D deal with improving communication and transparency during police stops and searches. 541-C, sponsored by Council Member Antonio Reynoso, will require the NYPD to develop a policy that instructs officers to let people know when they have the right to refuse to be searched. And when they conduct a “consensual” search, officers will also have to get video or written proof that an individual consented.

    • Watchdog Agency Issues Report on ICE Abuse as Agency Seeks to Acquire New Detention Centers

      These findings are hardly a surprise. Many of the findings have been documented for years by advocates and those who are forced to endure the abusive conditions inside of ICE’s sprawling detention system. In the last month alone, there have been reports of sexual abuse at the T. Don Hutto detention center in Texas, the death of an Iranian man at the detention facility in Aurora, Colorado, and reports of atrocious conditions, including forcing female detainees to urinate or defecate in plastic bags inside their cells, at an immigration jail in Richmond, California. Sadly, these cases are only a few examples of the dangerous, sometimes deadly conditions that persist in ICE detention facilities.

    • Chicago Police Win Big When Appealing Discipline

      A secretive appeals system has been knocking down the punishments of Chicago police officers no matter how serious their misconduct, undercutting the results of lengthy investigations and layers of review long after the public believes the cases were concluded.

      In the first examination of its kind, the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois found that 85 percent of disciplinary cases handled through the Chicago Police Department’s grievance process since 2010 led to officers receiving shorter suspensions or, in many cases, having their punishments overturned entirely.

      A suspension for punching a handcuffed arrestee, all caught on camera? Negotiable.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Farewell, AIM: AOL Instant Messenger has signed off permanently
    • Net neutrality is now officially on life support. Here’s what happens next.

      The Federal Communications Commission has voted to repeal net neutrality, despite overwhelming public support for the regulation, which requires internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast to distribute internet access fairly and equally to everyone, regardless of how much they pay or where they’re located.

    • Net neutrality result: How did the FCC vote on the freedom of the internet?
    • What the Net Neutrality Repeal Means for Us

      The decision is likely to have major ramifications for consumers, online businesses and Internet service providers (ISPs). The existing regulations, put into place by Pai’s predecessor Tom Wheeler in 2015, codified longstanding Internet practice by explicitly requiring ISPs to treat all Internet traffic equally. In contrast to a cable provider, which can decide exactly what networks or services customers get for their monthly fee, ISPs are forbidden from discriminating among their customers. When you pay your fee to get online, you get everything. But under the new regime, a handful of the most powerful telecommunication companies in the U.S. – Comcast, Verizon, AT&T – will have unlimited freedom to slice and dice the Internet ecology as they please.

    • FCC’s Republican majority kills net neutrality

      Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Independent Sen. Angus King, both of Maine, joined Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., in calling on the federal agency to “hold hearings on the net neutrality issue” that has “significant implications for our entire economy, and therefore merits the most thorough, deliberate, and thoughtful process that can be provided.”

    • Net neutrality rules are dead. Will my Internet bills go up?
    • The end of net neutrality: What it all means

      As part of this shift, oversight of internet protections will shift from the FCC to the Federal Trade Commission.

    • The FCC has created an ‘internet for the elite’

      While some on the FCC argue that the decision will boost economic growth, the only thing we know for certain is that eliminating net neutrality will make internet service look a lot more like cable TV. That’s good for a handful of corporations, but bad for just about everyone else.

    • Private Internet Access Statement On End of Net Neutrality
    • Motherboard & VICE Are Building a Community Internet Network

      To protect net neutrality, we need internet infrastructure that isn’t owned by big telecom.

    • US brings an end to net neutrality regulations

      And, as iTWire reported last month the repeal of the regulations could see ISPs given the power to charge websites large sums in order to be granted fast Internet access, whilst websites that do not pay the fees will have access to users slowed considerably.

    • The FCC Just Killed Net Neutrality. Now What?

      Most immediately, the activity will move to the courts, where the advocacy group Free Press, and probably others, will challenge the FCC’s decision. The most likely argument: that the commission’s decision violates federal laws barring agencies from crafting “arbitrary and capricious” regulations. After all, the FCC’s net neutrality rules were just passed in 2015. Activists and many members of Congress, including at least six Republicans, pushed for a delay in the vote, but apart from a brief delay due to a security issue, the vote occurred as planned.

    • The FCC’s Two Dissenting Voices Defend Net Neutrality To the End

      The agencies’s two Democratic commissioners, Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, lashed out against the order during the FCC’s open meeting today.

    • FCC votes to kill net neutrality in an unsurprising move. What happens now?

      The impact on you at home: This is big. Net neutrality has prevented ISPs such as Comcast and Verizon from nickel-and-diming customers based on their Internet usage, or gouging Google to make sure YouTube isn’t throttled. But even more important than Netflix and Hulu HD streams is the access to information. Millions of people depend on the internet for basic services, and the repeal of net neutrality protection may threaten their access to it.

    • Ajit Pai is so cocky over net neutrality he’s dressing as Santa to take the p*ss
    • Net neutrality: How will US overhaul of internet laws affect the web?

      Net neutrality is the premise that customers are guaranteed an equal version of the internet. The repeal permits several tiers – allowing ISPs to charge more for quicker speeds and block websites belonging to customers who have not paid a premium.

    • FCC Repeals U.S. Net Neutrality Rules

      The FCC has repealed U.S. net neutrality rules. As a result of today’s vote, Internet providers have the freedom to restrict, or charge for, access to certain sites and services if they please. This also means that BitTorrent throttling and blocking could become commonplace once again, as it was a decade ago.

    • Net neutrality rules weakened by US regulator

      Restrictions on US broadband providers’ ability to prioritise one service’s data over another are to be reduced after a vote by a regulator.

    • FCC Repeals Net Neutrality Rules Amid Protests, Lawsuit Threats

      At the FCC meeting, Clyburn said that “the public can plainly see, that a soon-to-be-toothless FCC, is handing the keys to the Internet. The Internet, one of the most remarkable, empowering, enabling inventions of our lifetime, over to a handful of multi-billion dollar corporations.

    • Gutting Net Neutrality Is the Trump Administration’s Most Brutal Blow to Democracy Yet

      This cannot be the end of a free and open Internet. Activists must fight on in the courts, in Congress, and in the streets.

    • The FCC Voted to Repeal Net Neutrality

      “They’d be given the legal authority and power to be able to block your websites. The’d be able to shuffle your traffic and manipulate it so it could goes toward services with whom they have a commercial relationship and close you off from services from those with whom you do not. It would allow them to set up tolls online for you, the consumer, to reach the content you want,” she told Teen Vogue. They will have the power to do this. Our laws will no longer prevent them from doing this because our laws will no longer require internet openness. They would have the power to carve the internet into fast and slow lanes and charge you to access sites who haven’t engaged in a pay-for-play relationship. [Internet bills] could very well go up.”

    • FCC Scraps Net Neutrality Rules in US

      Individual states will also be barred from enacting their own rules governing the internet.

    • What could happen to net neutrality

      In the immediate future, consumers will start to see more deals on their internet plans, including “zero-rating”

    • Trump’s FCC Nukes Network Neutrality: What Happens Now?

      Network neutrality is the principle that the companies that sell access to the internet (Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, etc.) don’t get the power to influence how people use the internet — for example, by discriminating in favor or against certain data based on who is sending or receiving it, its purpose, or its content. Essentially, that means treating the internet like the utility it is: We don’t allow the phone company to decide whether to connect us to a relative based on their view of that relative’s politics. And our free access to all internet sites should be just the same.

    • Net Neutrality Repeal Is Only Part of Trump’s Surrender to Corporate Media

      The FCC is under attack—and so too is the First Amendment. As the primary regulator of how media and information gets to our nation’s citizens, the Federal Communications Commission has a critical role to play in protecting the open Internet, free speech, and free press in our democracy. Though the agency has always enjoyed a cozy relationship with the industries it regulates, ever since the Trump administration arrived in Washington, the FCC’s mission to preserve the public commons has been threatened, assaulted and torn asunder. And like a bad horror movie cliché, these calls to eviscerate the FCC have been coming from inside the agency.

      Repealing net neutrality has drawn a huge amount of public visibility—and rightly so—but that decision is just the latest in a string of ominous, industry-friendly giveaways by the Trump administration’s FCC. It has also rolled back local TV station ownership limits on media giants like Sinclair Broadcasting Group and rescinded the longtime “main studio” rule that required local stations to maintain community newsrooms and fostered more local journalism. And the agency’s leadership has begun a campaign to actively abdicate its enforcement mission and pass it over to the smaller, less well-funded Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which lacks the FCC’s deep industry knowledge and proactive regulatory power.

    • Comcast has been planning to ditch Net Neutrality principles for months
    • Documenting the laughable lies the FCC told at the hearing where it killed Net Neutrality

      The FCC is only allowed to change existing policies if they can show evidence of some change in facts, so at yesterday’s bomb-threat haunted hearing to destroy Net Neutrality, Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his Republican colleagues made a pro-forma recitation of the reasons justifying his extreme actions.

      These reasons were lies.

    • Donald Trump Jr. botches a basic net neutrality fact, and the internet lets him have it

      By getting a basic fact wrong while trying to blame Obama, Trump opened up the internet to ridicule him mercilessly — and that’s exactly what happened.

    • FCC faces legal battle after widely-condemned vote to repeal net neutrality
    • Net neutrality is dead — what happens next?

      Pro-neutrality groups are already preparing a legal challenge, arguing the order itself should be invalidated as illegal. With the draft text of Pai’s order already public, pro-neutrality lawyers like Public Knowledge’s Harold Feld have had plenty of time to plan. “The advantage of having seen a draft of the order first,” Feld says, “is that, as someone planning a judicial challenge, I’m pretty confident we will be successful.”

    • FCC chair: Net neutrality supporters ‘proven wrong’ day after repeal

      Pai went on to say that Kimmel and others were “proven wrong” by the fact that internet service providers (ISP) had not rolled out immediate changes Friday morning.

    • On eve of internet censorship vote, powerful AG uncovers explosive corruption scandal

      Raising grave new concerns about the process by which Donald Trump’s FCC is moving ahead to overturn net neutrality rules that protect consumer choice on the internet, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Wednesday that millions of fake comments had been filed with the FCC in an effort to mimic grassroots support for internet censorship.

      The FCC’s vote on net neutrality is scheduled for Thursday, but Schneiderman is calling on the commission to delay it’s final decision until it can be determined who’s responsible for the massive scheme.

    • What is net neutrality? It protects us from corporate power

      This Thursday, Ajit Pai, Donald Trump’s choice to chair the Federal Communications Commission, will force a vote to repeal net neutrality protections for broadband providers. This is an important step backwards for our democracy. It will affect what consumers pay for broadband and what we can buy. More importantly, it will affect what we as citizens can say and to whom we can say it.

      In the age of Trump, a move to concentrate the power of speech in the hands of telecommunications giants whose financial fate depends on Republican political control is terrifying.

    • Majority of Tea Partiers Back Net Neutrality Principles, Polling Shows

      The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission on Thursday is widely expected to vote for a repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules. But the long-running drama surrounding the issue has revealed surprising pockets of support for the existing regulations — including majority support from tea party supporters and conservative voters.

    • Net Neutrality Repeal Would Hurt #MeToo Movement And Minority Women

      A federal government plan to roll-back an Obama-era internet rule designed to level the online playing field would result in censorship on the web that would disproportionately affect women and minorities, experts said.

      The Federal Communications Commission will vote Thursday to end so-called net neutrality, which ensures internet service providers give consumers equal access to all content and do not favor or discriminate against certain sources or users.

    • Team Internet Is Far From Done: What’s Next For Net Neutrality and How You Can Help

      Defying the facts, the law, and the will of millions of Americans, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to repeal net neutrality protections. It’s difficult to understate how radical the FCC’s decision was.

      The Internet has operated under formal and informal net neutrality principles for years. For the first time, the FCC has not only abdicated its role in enforcing those principles, it has rejected them altogether.

      Here’s the good news: the fight is far from over, and Team Internet has plenty of paths forward.

    • Today’s net neutrality vote – an unsurprising, unfortunate disappointment

      We are incredibly disappointed that the FCC voted this morning – along partisan lines – to remove protections for the open internet. This is the result of broken processes, broken politics, and broken policies. As we have said over and over, we’ll keep fighting for the open internet, and hope that politicians decide to protect their constituents rather than increase the power of ISPs.

    • ‘Don’t break the 21st century nervous system’

      In the USA, millions of people have risen up against the FCC, making an obscure realm of telecoms regulation into a central question of public debate. We are well past peak indifference, and now people are turning up on our doorsteps of their own accord, convinced that the net is worth fighting for and asking what they can do to help.

      This isn’t a fight you win. The internet is too great a prize to any entity that can seize control over it for it to ever be free from danger. This is a fight you commit yourself to, with eternal vigilance.

    • Can A VPN Bypass Net Neutrality Rollback And Throttling? — Here Are 3 Top Services To Help You
    • RIP Open Web: FCC Officially Votes To Kill Net Neutrality

      The past one year’s effort made by American citizens has been rejected by the Federal Communications Committee, headed by Ajit Pai, which has just voted to repeal the net neutrality rules established under the Obama administration. It looks like Christmas came pretty early for ISP giants.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Korea FTC defends global scope of its Qualcomm penalties as US judge warns of an antitrust “race to the bottom”

      Of the recent competition rulings against Qualcomm, Korea’s seem to have gone the furthest in imposing global remedies on the chipmaker’s licensing practices. At a recent forum on antitrust extraterritoriality, Judge Douglas Ginsburg of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia criticised this approach, saying it sets a precedent that the most restrictive antitrust regime should apply globally. But in a written statement, the Korean Free Trade Commission (KFTC) has defended its Qualcomm decision at length, signaling it will not back down from imposing global correctives.

      The exchange, if it can be called that, took place at a roundtable hosted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The event was off-the-record and closed to the public, but the slides presented by Ginsburg and the written submission prepared by the Korean government can both be accessed online.

    • New ABA Opinion of Particular Interest

      A lawyer may be adverse to a former client, but not in the same matter in which she represented the client, or in one which is “substantially related” to the representation of the former client. Generally, this requires determining whether it is reasonably likely that in the representation, the lawyer likely learned confidential information that likely can be used against the former client now.

    • Intellectual Property Rights In Trade – To Be Rethought?

      After two decades of intellectual property regimes in trade agreements, one could have some second thoughts, according to a number of panellists at the Trade and Sustainable Development Symposium, organised by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and held alongside the 11th World Trade Organization Ministerial in Buenos Aires, Argentina this week.

    • Trademarks
      • We are all FUCT

        The Federal Circuit has ruled that trademark law’s bar against registering immoral or scandalous marks is an unconstitutional restriction of free speech. Thus, on appeal the court has reversed the TTAB’s holding that Bruneti’s mark FUCT is unregistrable.

      • Federal Circuit’s Brunetti ruling: barring immoral or scandalous marks unconstitutional

        The Federal Circuit has overturned the TTAB’s rejection of a trademark application for the “FUCT”, ruling that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act’s bar on registering immoral or scandalous marks is an unconstitutional restriction of free speech.

    • Copyrights
      • Cable Reveals Extent Of Lapdoggery From Swedish Govt On Copyright Monopoly

        Among the treasure troves of recently released WikiLeaks cables, we find one whose significance has bypassed Swedish media. In short: every law proposal, every ordinance, and every governmental report hostile to the net, youth, and civil liberties here in Sweden in recent years have been commissioned by the US government and industry interests.

        I can understand that the significance has been missed, because it takes a whole lot of knowledge in this domain to recognize the topics discussed. When you do, however, you realize that the cable lists orders for the Swedish Government to implement a series of measures that significantly weakens Sweden’s competitive advantage in the IT field against the US. We had concluded this was the case, but had believed things had come from a large number of different sources. That was wrong. It was all coordinated, and the Swedish Government had received a checklist to tick off. The Government is described in the cables as “fully on board”.

      • Kim Dotcom’s Extradition Battle Suffers High Court Setback

        As Kim Dotcom continues his fight to avoid extradition to the United States, the entrepreneur suffered a setback this morning. Siding with the US government in a ruling published this morning, Justice Brewer at the New Zealand High Court rejected seven out of eight arguments put forward by the entrepreneur for judicial review.

Patrick Corcoran is Innocent, Yet Battistelli Will/May Have the Power to Sack Him Next Month (in DG1)

Thursday 14th of December 2017 08:22:53 AM

It’s Benoît Battistelli who ought to be sacked

Summary: The EPO’s Administrative Council does not want to even mention Patrick Corcoran, as merely bringing that up might lead to the suggestion that Benoît Battistelli should be fired (yes, they can fire him), but to set the record straight, at the EPO truth-tellers are punished and those whom they expose are shielded by the Administrative Council

THIS will be the last article about the EPO (until the weekend when we return home). We wish to clarify something quite important now that false claims are surfacing and we’ve heard predictions regarding DG1 from several independent sources.

Based on German law, nothing that Judge Corcoran did (or is alleged to have done) is illegal. It’s also true that Battistelli did not have the powers to do to Corcoran what he did 3 years ago. The only guilty party here is therefore Battistelli.

“Based on German law, nothing that Judge Corcoran did (or is alleged to have done) is illegal.”The EPO continues to say absolutely nothing about it, as we noted last night when we wrote about the false claim and the silencing campaign (supported even by Dr. Ernst now, much to our regret but in lieu with our low expectations from him).

EPO-friendly media has just mentioned “EPO report on trends in European patents on smart connected objects,” but not a word (at all!) has been said about the latest scandals. So much for media and journalism, eh?

Anyway, here is an important new comment that responds to a common misconception:

“The I[L]O has singularly failed to say that Mr Corcoran is innocent of the accusations made against him.”

There is, however, another independent instance which had the opportunity to review the accusations against Mr. Corcoran. As reported in a post by Kluwer Patent Blog:

“Mr. Corcoran has not only won his cases before the ILO, but also before the Regional Court of Munich and the Office of the State Prosecutor in Munich. This is at least what Mr. Corcoran’s attorney told JuVe: [...] “The two ILOAT judgments and several decisions of the Regional Court of Munich and the State Prosecutor of Munich have confirmed without any doubt that Mr. Battistelli’s accusations against my client are unfounded.”)”

So, for the German law he is innocent.

If everything Corcoran said was true (or he believed to be true/factual), then he did not violate German law. Battistelli and his Croatian ‘bulldog’ simply engage in classic legal bullying against him. It’s strategic. It’s SLAPP. They tried it on me as well, several times in fact. My excellent lawyer, David Allen Green, explained to them repeatedly that they could not do what they were doing. In fact, I could probably sue them for these threats, but they enjoy immunity. In other words, they misuse their immunity to also bully the media, knowing that they can get away with such suppression of reporting (regarding their abuses).

“Battistelli has not only ruined the EPO; he’s also ruining his beloved UPC and if he ever makes it into the dictionary, “Battistelli” will become synonymous with not-so-flattering things.”The latest comment asks: “Can an employee of DG1 who was previously appointed by the AC to a position in DG3 be disciplined by the President for “offences” committed whilst a member of DG3? We can perhaps speculate whether the current President has precisely this scenario in mind as an effective way of wiping away all of the problems stemming from the manner in which Mr Corcoran was “disciplined” whilst in DG3.”

We certainly hope (and we happen to know) that ILO and Germany are watching all this. Battistelli has not only ruined the EPO; he’s also ruining his beloved UPC and if he ever makes it into the dictionary, “Battistelli” will become synonymous with not-so-flattering things.

Patent Trolls Are Going Bust in the United States (Along With the ‘Protection’ Racket Conglomerates)

Thursday 14th of December 2017 07:39:18 AM

Summary: RPX continues its gradual collapse and patent trolls fail to find leverage now that software patents are kaput and patent opportunists struggle to access Texan courts

THE demise of patent trolling in the United States is measurable, e.g. based on number of filings/lawsuits. Nobody disputes that patent trolls were on the decline even before TC Heartland, which will further accelerate this demise. Quite a few trolls went bust. We wrote about that.

The collapse of several major trolls means lack of demand for so-called ‘protection’ (for the rich) from trolls. In fact, by its very nature, RPX requires a climate of fear and litigation in order for it to gain money, so it’s no surprise that RPX has been dying for a while. Executives were leaving. There was turmoil. Now, based on IAM, RPX is up for sale. It’s not good news for RPX; rather it’s indicative of a failure, shortly after RPX pondered China as a contingency plan. To quote:

Amster was replaced by former General Counsel Marty Roberts amid a spate of senior changes at the company including former executive vice president Mallun Yen’s elevation to the board.

[...]

In 2016 the company’s leadership was thrust into the spotlight when activist investor Mangrove Capital Partners wrote an excoriating letter to RPX’s board criticising management and calling for significant cost-cutting measures. Mangrove’s letter also referred to RPX’s 2015 acquisition of discovery management business Inventus Solutions for $232 million as a “costly mistake”. At the time of RPX’s offer, Inventus was the subject of private equity interest and some critics privately contend that the patent business paid too much. That might mean that any successful bidder would look to quickly dispose of the Inventus business to free up some cash to pay down acquisition debt.

The demise of software patents means the end of various patent trolls, many of which rely purely on such patents. RPost is the latest example (a patent troll that had products many moons ago) and here’s a new report about its loss in court:

Scottsdale-based GoDaddy Inc. received a final win today in a lengthy patent infringement case that sets a precedent for similar “patent troll” claims against other technology companies.

The win came after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a patent litigation case this morning between GoDaddy and RPost Communications Ltd., the Los Angeles-based creator of the RMail secure and certified electronic communications company that also is a patent-holding company.

RPost claimed GoDaddy’s email marketing product infringed on a broad patent regarding how email works, including how email bounces back when sent to an address that is no longer active.

We expect — as already noted at the top — TC Heartland to have a profound impact and to deal a final blow to practices such as these. Relying purely on patents (when there’s no product to offer) makes one a troll and offers no benefit to society or even to industry.

IBM’s Manny Schecter is Wrong Again and He is Attempting to Justify Patent Trolling

Wednesday 13th of December 2017 11:42:57 PM

Published last week: Famed Journalist Dan Gillmor Calls IBM the Inventor of Patent Trolling

Summary: In yet another dodgy effort to undermine the US Supreme Court and bring back software patents, IBM’s “chief patent counsel” (his current job title) expresses views that are bunk or “alternative facts”

TECHRIGHTS used to be very supportive of IBM. In fact, IBM used to be helpful to Free software, open standards, and GNU/Linux (especially at the back end and high-performance computing). But that was IBM a decade ago, managed by other people and adhering to different principles/strategies.

Do not be misled by what IBM used to be.

“In several areas/domains of technology IBM does nothing but patent predation.”IBM is attempting to attack/discredit Alice. It’s doing it like no other company does. IBM’s Manny Schecter, who is in charge of patents, says Alice is bad “because if the company fails, the investor must leverage its patent assets to return the investment.”

“Because if the company fails, it has to be turned into a troll” is how the FFII’s President translated/interpreted that. Yes, a troll. Like IBM right now… even some veteran technology journalists now call IBM a “troll”. In several areas/domains of technology IBM does nothing but patent predation.

Manny Schecter is an exceptionally harmful public face. It’s no good for IBM. Even if his tweets and talks he is attempting to distance from his employer, his expression of his own views is a projection of IBM policies. He’s not a low-level engineer; he’s management. Top-level management.

“How low is IBM willing to sink in an effort to shore up software patents?”IBM rapidly became a liar of a company. It’s so eager to blackmail new/small companies and its Patent Chief (or whatever they call him these days, putting aside fancy job titles) just makes them look vile. We used to support IBM, but now we just hope that IBM goes bust soon. The sooner, the better. Its activities on the patent front are ruinous and they concern a growing number of developers.

Regarding IBM’s (or Schecter’s) position, well… first of all, for a massive company to pretend to care for and speak for small companies is laughable or at least dubious. IBM attacks several such companies. Secondly, Alice made many such companies safer from trolls, hence a safer investment. Thankfully, WIPR decided to assess Schecter’s claims. Unfortunately, the article is quoting/citing extremists.

Here are portions from that article:

The number of venture capital (VC) investment rounds in technology companies has nearly halved, according to merchant bank Magister Advisors, sparking debate about the causes behind the decline.

Some commentators have discussed whether Alice v CLS Bank has played any role in this.

Citing data and research firm PitchBook, Magister Advisors noted that since 2014, the number of VC rounds in technology companies worldwide has fallen from 19,000 to 10,000.

For Manny Schecter, chief patent counsel at IBM, this decrease may correlate with the US Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Alice. The decision led to an increase the number of patents being invalidated under section 101.

In early December this year, WIPR noticed a tweet from Schecter, who linked to a TechCrunch article written by Magister Advisors’ Victor Basta, and decided to investigate.

[...]

Chris Behrenbruch, CEO of radiopharmaceutical company Telix Pharmaceuticals, who replied to Schecter’s tweet, offered a different view.

“I don’t think it’s nefarious—it’s just fund-raising cycles. A lot of VC was raised back in 2006-2008 and then the impact of the financial crisis significantly reduced capital raised during 2009-13,” he said.

It’s rather sad that a company which prides itself on science cannot get something so fundamental right. In fact, even on the surface alone these claims that it’s Alice which harmed investment smell funny.

How low is IBM willing to sink in an effort to shore up software patents?

EPO Administrative Council Disallows Discussion About Violations of the Law by Benoît Battistelli

Wednesday 13th of December 2017 10:39:35 PM

Summary: The EPO crisis is not ending for the Administrative Council does not want to tackle any of the obvious problems; Patrick Corcoran is a taboo subject and Ernst is coming across as another protector of Benoît Battistelli, based on today’s meeting (the second meeting he chairs)

TEAM Battistelli continues to reinforce negative perceptions about itself. It’s not only abusive but also oppressive when it comes to free speech. So far this week the EPO has said absolutely nothing about the meeting of the Administrative Council (perhaps preferring for nobody to pay attention). It obviously said nothing at all about the protest. The latter is at least understandable.

“So far this week the EPO has said absolutely nothing about the meeting of the Administrative Council (perhaps preferring for nobody to pay attention).”We’ve been tracking quite closely how the EPO‘s media strategy developed/(d)evolved so far this week and how it worked throughout the day. What it did today is noteworthy as the EPO does, in our assessment, at least subconsciously hide the discrimination against SMEs, the declining patent quality, the likely death of the UPC and so on. Earlier today the EPO was pushing its UPC ‘study’ (that it corrupted academia for) and #IPforSMEs. This is consistent with what has been happening for about a month.

The EPO’s day, however, began with the latest distraction from the latest scandal. It’s their PR strategy. They’re on fire and they try to get people to look away from the flames. The EPO retweeted people first thing in the morning [1, 2, 3] to distract from the major scandals. It’s just their PR stunt (intended to shift attention). The EPO’s PR team added its own to the mix later in the day [1, 2]. Nothing at all about the meeting. So much for “news” from the EPO…

“The EPO’s day, however, began with the latest distraction from the latest scandal.”Thankfully we heard from some insiders that Ernst, chairing the Council’s meeting, did what we expected him to do all along. The EPO “staff representation tried to speak about Patrick Corcoran,” a source told us. “Chairman would not allow him to speak…”

Moreover, based on what a source told us, Corcoran “is not reappointed and is in DG1 from January. Unlikely he lasts long. German constitutional court will be watching. ILO too.”

So this post of ours (making a “claim”) turns out to have been correct all along. We could not confirm it at the time, but the same information is mentioned here too: (new comment)

A non-renewal under these circumstances seems to be problematic in itself.
The disciplinary procedures have not been finished, and the decision to not reappoint has been taken while the disciplinary procedures were running.
This sounds like all ingredients for a hidden disciplinary measure are present, which would again fail to meet the requirements of the EPC and the Service Regulations.

IMHO, a reappointment (possibly under conditions) must be done while disciplinary proceedings are still ongoing.

But he is not on the list the President of the BoA published now.

This story will continue, as the poor chap will now fall under the authority of the president of the EPO as of 1. of January 2018, being an examiner again.

We have heard it from three sources so far, so it’s likely true (unless they have all been fed from the same source). Any documents relating to this would be greatly appreciated.

“Any documents relating to this would be greatly appreciated.”Merpel is alive again. At long last. There was a post this morning and it notes that the fate of Corcoran might not be good:

The problem is, however, that Mr Corcoran has not been reinstated. As further reported by the Irish Times, when Mr Corcoran went to the EPO “last Thursday afternoon he was refused admission and was told the ILO’s judgments had not yet been implemented”.

This is however perhaps not as simple as it may appear. Because the appealed suspensions were not the end of the matter. The Administrative Council repeatedly sought, and failed to achieve, from the Enlarged Board of Appeal, a proposal for Mr Corcoran’s removal from office. That is the only manner, according to Article 23(1) of the European Patent Convention, that a Board of Appeal member can be sacked while in service. But Board of Appeal members are appointed for 5 years, and their appointment can be not renewed. Tucked away in the Report on the 152nd meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (available here) from 28 and 29 June 2017 is the innocuous-looking paragraph:

“The Council also decided to reappoint 12 members of the Boards of Appeal, and not to reappoint any other person, hence following the reasoned opinion of the President of the Boards of Appeal. It further agreed to the procedure for designating the deputy of the President of the Boards of Appeal in the future, and took note of the intended procedure to handle after-service activities of former board members.”

The phrase “and not to reappoint any other person, hence following the reasoned opinion of the President of the Boards of Appeal” is understood by Merpel to mean that the new (and first-ever under the new arrangements for the governance of the Boards of Appeal) President of the Boards of Appeal has proposed Mr Corcoran’s non-reappointment and the Administrative Council has accordingly not reappointed him. This seems to leave him in legal limbo – if the EPO declines to readmit him, Mr Corcoran may have to appeal yet again to the ILO-AT in regard to this latest decision.

“Noticeable that they are very narrow decisions,” the first comment noted. The following is not correct: “The IPO has singularly failed to say that Mr Corcoran is innocent of the accusations made against him. If I made similar pseudonymous posts against the CEO and a deputy CEO of the company I worked for, I would fully expect to be sacked immediately. So would anyone at any other company. But the CEO and deputy CEO would stay out of it and leave it to someone else. As a result my sacking would stick. No-one comes well out of this sorry story.”

The EPO is not a company with a CEO and the appeal boards are not subservient to the Office. An EPO insider, moreover, responded to (or refuted) the above by saying/quoting (perhaps Corcoran’s/SUEPO’s lawyer): “The two ILOAT judgments and several decisions of the Regional Court of Munich and the State Prosecutor of Munich have confirmed without any doubt that Mr. Battistelli’s accusations against my client are unfounded.”… So, for the German law he is innocent.”

“The whole situation is a travesty which ought to be noticed (and then noted) by the German constitutional court.”Notice the next comment, which says: “Could the issue be that the BoA member, after initially having suspended by the President, was removed from his duties by the AC and therefore cannot be reinstated until the AC reconvene?”

We’re leaving until the weekend. We depart quite soon (Christmas party far away from home), so this may be the last EPO post for a while. We won’t be able to cover day 2.

For information about today’s protest see this short report from World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR). Here’s a portion:

Staff members at the European Patent Office (EPO) are holding a demonstration at the EPO’s Munich office today.

The EPO’s Administrative Council is meeting today and tomorrow, December 14, also in Munich.

One of the items on the agenda is the reinstatement of a suspended EPO Board of Appeals judge to his former post.

The International Labour Organization’s Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) handed down five decisions last week, with two of the judgments ordering the “immediate reinstatement” of the judge, who had been suspended because of alleged misconduct.

The reinstatement looks like it’s temporary and as we said this morning, he's incapable of doing any meaningful work. The whole situation is a travesty which ought to be noticed (and then noted) by the German constitutional court.

Links 13/12/2017: GIMP 2.9.8, Fedora 25 End Of Life, AltOS 1.8.3

Wednesday 13th of December 2017 08:48:46 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • What Open Means to OpenStack

    In his keynote at OpenStack Summit in Australia, Jonathan Bryce (Executive Director of the OpenStack Foundation) stressed on the meaning of both “Open” and “Stack” in the name of the project and focused on the importance of collaboration within the OpenStack ecosystem.

    OpenStack has enjoyed unprecedented success since its early days. It has excited the IT industry about applications at scale and created new ways to consume cloud. The adoption rate of OpenStack and the growth of its community exceeded even the biggest open source project on the planet, Linux. In its short life of 6 years, OpenStack has achieved more than Linux did in a similar time span.

    So, why does OpenStack need to redefine the meaning of the project and stress collaboration? Why now?

    “We have reached a point where the technology has proven itself,” said Mark Collier, the CTO of the OpenStack Foundation. “You have seen all the massive use case of OpenStack all around the globe.”

  • Asynchronous decision-making: Helping remote teams succeed

    In contrast, asynchronous decision-making, which is often used in large open source projects—for example, at the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), where I’m most active—provides an efficient way for teams to move forward with minimal meetings. Many open source projects involve only a few meetings each year (and some none at all), yet development teams consistently produce high-quality software.

  • Events
    • Linux Foundation Continues to Emphasize Diversity and Inclusiveness at Events

      This has been a pivotal year for Linux Foundation events. Our largest gatherings, which include Open Source Summit, Embedded Linux Conference, KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, Open Networking Summit, and Cloud Foundry Summit, attracted a combined 25,000 people from 4,500 different organizations globally. Attendance was up 25 percent over 2016.

      Linux Foundation events are often the only time that developers, maintainers, and other pros who contribute to Linux and other critical open source projects — like AGL, Kubernetes and Hyperledger to name a few — get together in person. Face-to-face meetings are crucial because they speed collaboration, engagement and innovation, improving the sustainability of projects over time.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Early Returns on Firefox Quantum Point to Growth

        When we set out to launch Firefox Quantum earlier this year, we knew we had a hugely improved product. It not only felt faster — with a look and feel that tested off the charts — it was measurably faster. Thanks to multiple changes under the hood, we doubled Firefox’s speed while using 30% less memory than Chrome.

        In less than a month, Firefox Quantum has already been installed by over 170M people around the world. We’re just getting started and early returns are super encouraging.

      • Mozilla Joins Net Neutrality Blackout for ‘Break the Internet’ Day

        We’re joining with others across the web — from Github and Reddit to Etsy and Imgur — for a Break the Internet Day of Action. The idea: to show how broadly we all value an open internet. And to ask Americans to call their members of Congress and urge them to stop the FCC’s plan to end net neutrality.

  • Databases
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • I’m Brian Fox, Author of the Bash Shell, and This Is How I Work

      Brian Fox is a titan of open source software. As the first employee of Richard Stallman’s Free Software Foundation, he wrote several core GNU components, including the GNU Bash shell. Now he’s a board member of the National Association of Voting Officials and co-founder of Orchid Labs, which delivers uncensored and private internet access to users like those behind China’s firewall. We talked to him about his career and how he works.

  • Public Services/Government
  • Licensing/Legal
    • Know Before You Grow: Proprietary Transportation Systems and Open Source Software Risk

      We live in the era of gig economies and e-commerce, where supply chains are evolving before our eyes due in part to the speed of technological innovation. All transportation and logistics services are under pressure to deliver highly analytic data-rich solutions in addition to freight. The challenge to gain advantage through information technology systems, let alone to remain competitive, is often met through “homegrown” proprietary IT solutions in addition to those many options available on the market.

      Developing proprietary IT systems, whether for core operating systems or customer-facing applications, can be a costly endeavor and therefore the speed and cost of development tend to be areas of concern. Most IT systems today contain what is known as open source software because using open source is generally much more cost-effective than developing entirely from scratch. While using open source software is advantageous in some ways, it also carries certain risks that must be navigated in order to achieve and protect the full potential of a homegrown system.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • How a maker with Type I diabetes led an open source project to create a free-as-in-code artificial pancreas

        Dana Lewis kickstarted the Open Artificial Pancreas System (previously) by trying to solve her own problems with monitoring her glucose levels, calculating insulin doses, and administering them around the clock — an onerous task that her life depended on, which disrupted her sleep and challenged her to make reliable calculations regarding dangerous substances while her blood-sugar levels were troughing or spiking.

      • LTE NB Internet Of Things Open Source Arduino Shield

        An open-source LTE shield equipped with SIMCOM’s SIM7000-series modules combined with the latest LTE CAT-M technology has been created by Hackaday member Timothy Woo to enable Arduino users to easily connect low-power Internet of Things devices to next-generation cellular technology!

Leftovers
  • Science
  • Health/Nutrition
    • WHO, World Bank Say Half The World Population Cannot Access Essential Health Services

      According to a report released today by the World Health Organization and the World Bank, at least half the world’s population is lacking access to essential health services. Out of pocket expenses related to health care are pushing millions of people into extreme poverty each year, the report says. Both organisations say they are committed to working with countries to increase access to essential health services.

    • Medicines Patent Pool Expands Its Patent Database To Cancer Treatments

      The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) announced today that MedsPaL, its database of information on the patent and licensing status of selected HIV, hepatitis C, and tuberculosis medicines, now extends to patented treatments on the World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines. New patents data include medicines for leukaemia, breast cancer and other cancer indications.

      MedsPaL now covers 6,800 national patent applications in more than 110 countries for more than 70 priority treatments, according to a press release. Patent information has been added for seven medications: bendamustine, bevacizumab, dasatinib, imatinib, nilotinib, rituximab and trastuzumab, “as a first step in incorporating additional data on patented medicines on the WHO’s EML [Essential Medicines List],” according to the release.

  • Security
    • Language bugs infest downstream software, fuzzer finds

      Developers working in secure development guidelines can still be bitten by upstream bugs in the languages they use.

      That’s the conclusion of research presented last week at Black Hat Europe by IOActive’s Fernando Arnaboldi.

      As Arnaboldi wrote in his Black Hat Europe paper [PDF]: “software developers may unknowingly include code in an application that can be used in a way that the designer did not foresee. Some of these behaviors pose a security risk to applications that were securely developed according to guidelines.”

    • Kaspersky Antivirus Engine Causing BSOD on Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

      Despite the criticism it received in the United States and in the United Kingdom, Kaspersky continues to be one of the leading security vendors for Windows users across the world, with its software protecting millions of systems powered by Microsoft’s OS.

      But it turns out that some of those whose computers were running the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and Kaspersky Internet Security 2018 have been hit by a bug causing a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) since earlier this month.

      BornCity reveals that the issue first appeared earlier this month when some users complained of a BSOD on Windows 10 build 16299.98, which indicates that these systems were running the latest version of the OS with cumulative update KB4051963.

    • ROBOT Attack

      ROBOT is the return of a 19-year-old vulnerability that allows performing RSA decryption and signing operations with the private key of a TLS server.

    • ROBOT Attack: 19-Year-Old Bug Returns With More Power To Target Facebook & Paypal

      The attack can compromise a website’s RSA encryption by decrypting the data using the private key of the TLS server. It was possible because of the vulnerability present in the RSA algorithm used in SSL protocol, exploited by Bleichenbacher.

    • Intel Adding ‘Hardware Lock’ To Prevent ME Chip Hacking In Future

      While you might be thinking about the ways to get rid of the secret (flawed) ME chip Intel puts insider its processors, the silicon giant has announced their plans to prevent the ME chip from getting hacked in the future.

    • NIST Releases Second Draft to Cybersecurity Framework, ANSI Encourages Stakeholders to Comment

      The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued the second draft of the proposed update to the Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity—also known as the Cybersecurity Framework. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) encourages all relevant stakeholders to submit draft comments to NIST by the deadline on Friday, January 19, 2018.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Trump’s Lethal Decision on Jerusalem

      Protests have broken out across the Middle East against President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — and Western critics complain that the move adds one more brick in the wall against the prospects for peace.

      Professor Francis Boyle, who teaches international law at the University of Illinois College of Law and served as a long-time legal adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), calls Trump’s announcement a “symbolic but still critical step in Israeli designs to control not just Jerusalem, but all of historic Palestine.” I spoke with Boyle on Dec. 6.

    • Trump, N. Korea & the Phony ‘Terror List’

      In an effort to further tighten the screws on North Korea in what is likely to be another failed U.S. attempt to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear program, President Trump put that country back on its list of countries sponsoring terrorism. North Korea will join Iran, Sudan and Syria on the list. In response, North Korea has conducted another ballistic missile test.

    • North Korea’s Understandable Fears

      Like Pavlov’s dog, the mainstream media slobbers predicable reactions every time North Korea launches another test missile. Listening to the blather one would think that once Kim Jong Un has a missile capable of reaching the U.S., he is going to use it in an unprovoked nuclear attack on the U.S. mainland killing millions of Americans.

    • Silencing of Courageous Documentaries

      In the U.S., I first understood the power of the documentary during the editing of my first film, The Quiet Mutiny. In the commentary, I make reference to a chicken, which my crew and I encountered while on patrol with American soldiers in Vietnam.

    • Trump’s Illegal Syrian Mission Creep

      The other day we learned that there are four times more U.S. troops in Syria than any earlier official figure had acknowledged. The discrepancy did not get much public attention, perhaps because the numbers are small compared to some other U.S. military deployments: about 2,000 troops in Syria, with the earlier official figure being 500.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • We Still Don’t Know Why Three Different Outlets “Confirmed” the Same Bogus Russia Story Last Week

      Referring to erroneous reports that the Trump campaign received a file of hacked emails ten days before it was posted on Wikileaks in September 2016, the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald wrote this weekend that last Friday was “one of the most embarrassing days for the U.S. media in quite a long time.” While Greenwald’s rhetoric about the American press is often harsh even by leftist-intellectual standards, it’s hard to say he is wrong about this. Let’s review:

      • CNN reported Friday morning that Donald Trump Jr. and his father received an email on Sept. 4, 2016 which would have allowed them to access hacked Democratic emails that weren’t posted by Wikileaks until Sept. 13. CNN’s report was based on “multiple sources,” and would have been huge news—evidence of the Trumps being given an early look at material that, it’s believed, was originally obtained by Russian intelligence operatives.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Watchdogs Say US Chemical Safety Board Is “Flying Blind”

      In the early hours of August 31, explosions erupted at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, where floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey had cut off the power supply to refrigerated containers containing organic peroxide. Residences in a 1.5-mile radius had been evacuated, and deputies manning barricades began falling ill in the middle of the road one by one. Medics were called, but no further warning was given as columns of black smoke filled the air.

      Arkema knew the fires were coming — organic peroxides burst into flames unless they are kept cool — but company officials had insisted in a press conference prior to the explosions that the chemicals were not toxic or harmful to people, according to a lawsuit filed in September by emergency workers injured at the scene.

  • Finance
    • Apple Just Bought Shazam. Here’s What We Know
    • Merkel ally says Brexit talks have raised UK support for second referendum

      A key ally of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has claimed that a growing awareness of the damaging terms of a future Brexit deal has led to a rise in support in the UK for a second referendum on EU membership.

      Manfred Weber, the leader of the largest party in the European parliament, said a row over the ineligibility of Britain’s cities in the European capital of culture competition was just the latest example of the UK’s losses hitting home.

      “An opinion poll showed 50% of the British people are in favour of a new referendum,” Weber, who leads the centre-right European People’s party, told MEPs in Strasbourg. “The British people realise that Brexit means losing many things, but not gaining anything.”

    • What Is Litecoin? How Has It Beaten Bitcoin’s Growth To Reach All-time High?

      Before knowing about Litecoin and its exponential growth, I’d like to tell you about the term “Altcoin.” As its name tries to give away (alt + coin), altcoins are the alternative digital coins that mushroomed on the scene after Bitcoin’s success. This was inevitable. A notable feature of all the altcoins is that they try to pose themselves as a better option with more features.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Women Accusing Donald Trump of Sexual Abuse Call for Congressional Probe

      In New York, three of the 16 women who have publicly accused Donald Trump of sexual abuse called on Congress Monday to investigate the president. In a press conference in Manhattan, the women shared accounts in which they said Trump groped, fondled or otherwise made unwanted sexual advances toward them. This is Rachel Crooks, who says Trump forcibly kissed her against her will in 2005.

    • [Older] Donald Trump’s mother asked: ‘What kind of son have I created?’

      Mary Trump, the Scottish-born mother of the US President who died in 2000, is reported to have been acutely embarrassed by the antics of her fourth child during the 1990s when his failing marriage and business were the subject of intense tabloid scrutiny.

      Born as the 10th child of the MacLeod family on the Outer Hebridean Isle of Lewis in 1912, Ms Trump was raised in a strict Presbyterian, Gaelic speaking household.

      [...]

      Psychologists who are analysing the President behaviour have wondered whether his thin skin, need for praise and poor treatment of women – particularly those who stand up to him – stems from his relationship with his mother.

      Prudence Gourguechon, from the American Psychoanalytic Association, told Politico: “I’m not talking specifically about any individual, including the president, or his mother”.

    • Alabama Supreme Court stays judge’s order to preserve voting records in Senate election

      The Alabama Supreme Court has reportedly stayed a lower court’s order to election officials that would have required the preservation of voting records in Tuesday’s Senate special election.

      A circuit judge on Monday ordered election officials to set voting machines to save all digital ballot images, which would preserve voting records in the event of a recount.

      Alabama’s AL.com said Tuesday morning that the state’s Supreme Court had blocked the order.

      A group of four Alabama voters filed a lawsuit last Thursday arguing that the state is required by law to preserve the images. The voters’ attorney, Priscilla Duncan, said that the circuit judge’s order would protect votes if there were an “election challenge.”
      “People think that when they mark the ballots and they go into the machine that that’s what counted,” Duncan told AL.com. “But it’s not, the paper ballot is not what’s counted. That ballot is scanned and they destroy [the ballots] after the election.”

    • Trump’s Mining Regulator Nominee Was Once Dropped by the Agency for Doing “Junk” Work

      President Donald Trump’s choice to head a federal coal mine regulator, like more than one of his nominees, is a vocal critic of the very agency he’s being asked to lead. Steven Gardner is a longtime coal industry consultant, and he has called the agency’s marquee Obama-era regulation the product of “one of the most disingenuous and dishonest efforts put forward by a government agency.”

      But in Gardner’s case, there is an unusual — and contentious — twist: He runs an engineering firm that produced a report as part of the process of preparing that regulation, and the agency deemed it so shoddy that it cut ties with Gardner’s company. Now he’s the nominee to head that agency, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. (In broad terms, OSMRE — pronounced “oz-muhr” — focuses on mining’s effect on the environment, while the other key regulator, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, focuses on the welfare of miners.)

    • Pedestrian Tickets Lead to Hundreds of Suspended Driver’s Licenses

      More than half the 2,000 people who received pedestrian tickets in Duval County, Florida, from 2012 to 2016 saw their driver’s licenses suspended or their ability to obtain one limited, according to an analysis by the Florida Times-Union and ProPublica.

      The tickets, which carry what can seem like a modest $65 fine, can have more significant consequences for those who get them and refuse to pay or are unable to do so.

      Over five years, a total of 2,004 pedestrian tickets were issued in Duval County, which is comprised almost entirely by the city of Jacksonville. Of those tickets, 982 people who failed or were unable to pay the fine lost their driver’s licenses or their ability to obtain one, according to the analysis.

      The license suspensions help answer a question at the center of a Times-Union/ProPublica investigation of pedestrian tickets in Jacksonville: What are the consequences for individuals swept up in the Jacksonville Sheriff Office’s aggressive enforcement of some two dozen often obscure pedestrian statutes?

      Last month, the Times-Union/ProPublica investigation showed that 55 percent of the tickets given in recent years went to blacks despite the fact that they make up only 29 percent of the city’s population. Blacks were similarly overrepresented in the 932 tickets that led to license suspensions — 54 percent.

      As of Tuesday’s City Council meeting, three elected officials on the body have called on Sheriff Mike Williams to order his officers to stop writing pedestrian tickets. Council member Garrett Dennis asked the Office of General Counsel to review what authority the council had to compel him to do so. In addition to voicing her support for that measure, council member Katrina Brown asked for a noticed meeting focused on pedestrian infrastructure and enforcement.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Censorship as False Morality

      The most recent attempt at censorship came from a petition started by Mia Merrill. Merrill complained about a painting that’s housed at the Metropolitan Art Gallery titled Thérèse Dreaming by a Polish-French painter known as Balthus.

      In the petition, Merrill states that the painting “is an evocative portrait of a prepubescent girl relaxing on a chair with her legs up and underwear exposed.” She goes on to say that the image is “disturbing,” and that Balthus “had a noted infatuation with pubescent girls,” and finally, that “given the current climate around sexual assault and allegations,” the gallery is “perhaps, unintentionally, supporting voyeurism and the objectification of children.” Merrill claims that she’s “not asking for this painting to be censored,” but only for the gallery to consider the “implications” of having such a painting on display.

    • Pittsburgh Councilmember Again Faces Allegations Of Social Media Censorship

      The ACLU of Pennsylvania is again confronting Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Darlene Harris for allegedly censoring a constituent on her new official Facebook page.

      In a letter to the city solicitor Tuesday, the civil liberties organization accused Harris of deleting a post on her official page that included a link to the Facebook group, “Citizens Against Darlene Harris for Pittsburgh City Council.”

    • Meet Canada’s pro-censorship librarians (and their surprising supporters) [Ed: The far right props up the lie that censorship comes only from the "left"]

      Hate is a natural human emotion. It’s not illegal. In fact, it is part of our freedom of thought and belief. Just don’t commit a crime while you’re expressing it.

    • Sudan papers go online for freedom from censors

      Seated in his Khartoum office overlooking the Blue Nile, Sudanese journalist Adil al-Baz no longer fears a crackdown by security agents over his articles since he launched an online newspaper.

      “We are free to publish what we want on our online newspaper,” Baz, a former print newspaper editor, told AFP at the office of Al-Ahdath, the website he launched this year.

      In a country of increasing media censorship, Baz is among several independent journalists who have left newspaper jobs and launched online papers or websites.

    • Theresa May told to make Mark Zuckerburg a national censor

      Reacting to Theresa May’s proposal to make social media companies liable for content, Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group said:

      “This is an attempt to make Mark Zuckerberg a national censor.

      “Facebook and Twitter will censor legal material because they are scared of fines. They are the worst people to judge right and wrong. Theresa May is in danger of removing people’s right to a proper legal decision.”

    • Why China’s Internet Censorship Model Will Prevail Over Russia’s

      Over the last few years, China and Russia have been quietly exporting their models of online information controls through the supply of surveillance and censorship equipment, as well as providing training in the latest information control techniques. However, Beijing and Moscow differ considerably in the way they control information online, and these differences will determine which is more popular with authoritarian regimes in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa.

      Despots, dictators, and autocrats will pick the model they prefer using two criteria: the ambition of the censorship system (e.g. how much information can a system filter) and the technology and services required to maintain the system. China’s model outcompetes Russia’s model in both categories.

    • Balochistan activists accuse London Mayor of censorship

      LONDON mayor Sadiq Khan has been criticised over his office banning an ad campaign relating to a conflict-ridden region in Pakistan.

      The #FreeBalochistan adverts were displayed on London taxis and buses to highlight alleged “war crimes and human rights abuses”, but were later removed by Transport for London (TfL) for allegedly breaching advertising guidelines.

    • Saudi lifts ban on movies but what role will censorship play?
    • Saudis rejoice after decades-long ban on cinemas lifted
    • Saudi Arabia to lift 35-year ban on cinemas
    • The Art of Escaping Censorship

      Three recent documentaries track the ingenious ways that banned literature, films, and music circulated in the Soviet Union.

    • African girls march against Google and Facebook censorship

      About 200 young girls marched through the streets of Johannesburg on Wednesday to demand that Google and Facebook respect African culture.

      Organised by local media company TV Yabantu‚ the march was to pressure social media platforms to stop censoring African cultural content. Lazi Dlamini said the companies are insulting African culture and women as they continue to remove cultural videos and images that feature bare-breasted women on their platforms.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • FISC Assurances on Spying Leave Too Many Questions Unanswered

      Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray faced questions from the House Judiciary Committee about how his department is implementing one of the government’s most powerful surveillance tools. Despite repeated bipartisan requests, Director Wray refused to tell the Members of the Committee how many Americans have been impacted by Section 702, enacted as part of the FISA Amendments Act. This isn’t the first time the FBI has refused to answer to Congress.

      EFF has long held that Section 702 is being used to violate the privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. Section 702 authorizes the acquisition of foreign intelligence information; however, because many Americans communicate with foreign persons outside the United States every day, our communications are also being captured and read without a warrant.

    • ACLU Complaint Warns of Privacy Risks From Kobach’s Voter Data Scheme

      The man at the helm of the White House’s voter suppression efforts has a terrible record that just keeps getting worse.

      The ACLU’s Voting Rights Project today amended our complaint in ACLU v. Donald Trump, our lawsuit against the White House’s voter suppression commission, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

      In addition to the ACLU’s existing transparency and fair balance claims, the amended complaint charges that the commission has acted arbitrarily and outside the scope of its legal authority. In making its unprecedented decision to aggregate the personal data of every registered voter in the United States, the commission failed to properly consider, for example, the cybersecurity and privacy implications of compiling this sensitive data. In addition, investigating records of individual voters goes well beyond the commission’s mandate to study and make recommendations concerning registration and voting processes.

      Kobach’s record on this matter is extremely troubling. His prized voter monitoring system, Crosscheck, which stores millions of voter files and is ostensibly meant to stop people from voting in more than one state, has serious defects. It not only produces erroneous findings, but it is also open to massive security risks.

      Gizmodo found that “the records passing through the Crosscheck system have been stored on a server in Arkansas operating on a network rife with security flaws” and that “multiple sets of login credentials” have been compromised. ProPublica similarly discovered that security vulnerabilities, like hosting files on an insecure server and sharing login credentials over email, “could imperil the safety of millions of peoples’ records.” And security analysts warned in a recent court brief that Kobach’s plan to collect millions of files containing voters’ personal information “would constitute a treasure trove for malicious actors.”

    • The Internet Went Crazy Over a Sex Toy App “Secretly” Recording Lovemaking

      Hong Kong-based sex toy company Lovense received some bad publicity the past weekend after someone on reddit accused the company of secretly recording users’ lovemaking sessions with the mobile app allowing for remote controlling of its vibrators.

      Basically, reddit user /u/tydoctor claimed he came across a .3gp file stored on his device that was “a full audio recording 6 minutes long of the last time I had used the app to control my SO’s remote control vibrator.” This way, the user claimed, Lovesense secretly created audio recordings of the sex sessions, obviously making people believe that the company was actually spying on people.

      And since spying is quite a hot topic these days, it’s ten times worse when it involves anything related to sex, so the discussion rapidly made the rounds, with more than 200 users chiming in and debating how and why Lovsense creates the audio recording.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • New York City Takes on Algorithmic Discrimination

      The city will create a task force to review its agencies’ use of algorithms and the policy issues they implicate.

      Invisible algorithms increasingly shape the world we live in, and not always for the better. Unfortunately, few mechanisms are in place to ensure they’re not causing more harm than good.

      That might finally be changing: A first-in-the-nation bill, passed yesterday in New York City, offers a way to help ensure the computer codes that governments use to make decisions are serving justice rather than inequality.

      Computer algorithms are a series of steps or instructions designed to perform a specific task or solve a particular problem. Algorithms inform decisions that affect many aspects of society. These days, they can determine which school a child can attend, whether a person will be offered credit from a bank, what products are advertised to consumer, and whether someone will receive an interview for a job. Government officials also use them to predict where crimes will take place, who is likely to commit a crime and whether someone should be allowed out of jail on bail.

    • ‘You’re Fucked’: The Acquittal of Officer Brailsford and the Crisis of Police Impunity

      The execution of Daniel Shaver demonstrates the importance of police training.

      Two words stick in my mind when I think of the video of Daniel Shaver begging for his life before he was shot and killed by Officer Philip Brailsford of the Police Department in Mesa, Arizona. The two words were written on the dust cover of the AR-15 rifle Braisford used to kill Shaver:

      “You’re fucked.”

      We have seen this movie before. Daniel Shaver was not armed or committing any crime when was he shot to death by Brailsford. Like many previous police shooting videos, this one shows police behaving much more aggressively than Mr. Shaver. And like previous videos, a jury acquitted the officer of all criminal charges. But this video showed us two things about policing culture in America that stand out. First, the video shows Shaver begging for his life while he tried to follow contradictory instructions screamed at him by an officer. And Shaver was white.

      Shaver had a job killing pests. Sometimes he used a pellet gun to get the job done, and he was seen holding the gun by people at the hotel. When the police were called, they were told a man had a gun so they had to be careful.

      I get it. But how far does that information take us?

    • Tough-on-Crime Prosecutors Are Out of Step With Public Views

      The ACLU polled likely voters and found strong support for prosecutors committed to criminal justice reform.

      “Mass incarceration is a myth.” Racial bias in the criminal justice system “is the most ludicrous concept ever.” Data on sexual assault prosecutions should be kept secret because it might be “misinterpreted by the public.”

      These are all real quotes from elected prosecutors, the most powerful people in the criminal justice system. There are approximately 2,400 elected prosecutors in America, and these views may well be common among them. But the public appears to be moving away from these misconceptions.

      A first-of-its-kind poll conducted by the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice shows that voters of every persuasion across the United States — in red states and in blue states alike — strongly prefer elected prosecutors who are committed to reducing incarceration, tackling racial disparities, and being transparent.

      Approximately nine out of 10 likely voters surveyed said that it was important for their prosecutor to prioritize alternatives to incarceration. This includes 83 percent of Republicans polled. Eighty-eight percent of voters also said they were more likely to support a prosecutor who actively works to reduce racial bias in the criminal justice system. And 91 percent want prosecutors to reduce sentences in instances where people were treated unequally because of their race. Respondents also want a prosecutor who makes a commitment to transparency, with 85 percent favoring a prosecutor who shares data and policies with the public.

    • U.N. expert says torture persists at Guantanamo Bay; U.S. denies

      The U.S. Department of Defense denied the allegation, saying there was no credible evidence to support it.

      Nils Melzer, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, said he had information that Ammar al-Baluchi – accused of being a co-conspirator in the 9/11 attacks on the United States – was being subjected to treatment that is banned under international law.

      “His torture and ill-treatment are reported to continue,” a statement from the U.N. human rights office said, without giving details of the source of Melzer’s information.

      “In addition to the long-term effects of past torture, noise and vibrations are reportedly still being used against him, resulting in constant sleep deprivation and related physical and mental disorders, for which he allegedly does not receive adequate medical attention,” it said.

    • Ferguson’s School Board Elections Dilute the African-American Vote

      The Ferguson-Florissant School District was born out of a 1975 federal desegregation order, intended to remedy effects of historical discrimination against African-American students.

      Yet, as recently as 2014, the school board was all white, and its members had not had a racial make-up that reflects the district’s population in the 12 years prior. Slightly less than half of the voting-age residents of the district are African-American, as are roughly 80 percent of the students who attend the public schools. While some African-American candidates have been elected to the school board in the last few years, recent victories do not erase the district’s long history of racial exclusion and inequality.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • 100 million Americans live in areas where every single ISP has admitted to violating net neutrality
    • The FCC’s Democratic commissioners on net neutrality vote: ‘We have a mess on our hands’

      Regardless, the rollback is expected to pass by a 3-2 margin on party lines. In separate phone interviews conducted last week, The Verge spoke with commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel about this week’s vote, and what happens next.

      Interviews were conducted separately. They have been condensed and edited.

    • Requiem for an Internet Dream

      The dream of the Internet is dying. Killed by its children. We have barely noticed its demise and done even less to save it.

      It was a dream of openness, of unprecedented technological and social freedom to connect and innovate. Whilst expressed in technology, it was a dream that was, in essence, political and social. A dream of equality of opportunity, of equality of standing, and of liberty. A world where anyone could connect and almost everyone did.

      No-one controlled or owned the Internet; no one person or group decided who got on it or who didn’t. It was open to all.

    • Net Neutrality: How a Repeal Could Kill the Careers of Indie Musicians

      Repeal will corporatize selection too. A free and open Internet has allowed independent artists like Sturgill Simpson, Drive-By Truckers and Chance the Rapper to grow and cultivate a fan base on their own terms, and for fans to find them. But if Net Neutrality goes away, not only will access to discovery platforms be limited, corporations and providers will have the opportunity to boost artists that have deals with their brands instead. And since the Internet is such an important vehicle behind the genre-less creativity in today’s music – artists grow up with near universal access to music from every corner of the globe through the Web – the end of Net Neutrality could mean more music that is culturally myopic in scope.

    • More than 100 Million Americans Can Only Get Internet Service from Companies That Have Violated Net Neutrality

      This is a problem faced by millions of Americans, according to a new analysis from the Institute for Local Self Reliance, a nonprofit that advocates for equitable development and local government rule. Based on the Federal Communications Commission’s own data, the ILSR found that 129 million Americans only have one option for broadband internet service in their area, which equals about 40 percent of the country.

    • Net neutrality repeal means you’re going to hate your cable company even more

      No one wanted to see big service providers turn the Internet into the cable industry, with its high prices and relatively few choices. But that’s what’s about to happen.

    • Internet Governance Forum Next Week: Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data On Agenda

      The 12th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum will open in Geneva next week. The United Nations entity, which presents itself as a free electron of internet governance, will host a large number of sessions addressing pressing issues of the digital world, including big data, cyber security, and artificial intelligence. Discussions held at the forum will enhance understanding of the broad issue of internet governance, and help hold actors accountable.

      The 12th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will take place from 18-21 December on the theme “Shape Your Digital Future.” This is the first time the IGF is being held in Geneva, which is the home of the IGF secretariat.

  • DRM
    • Why Linux HDCP isn’t the end of the world

      Recently, Sean Paul from Google’s ChromeOS team, submitted a patch series to enable HDCP support for the Intel display driver. HDCP – or High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection to its parents – is used to encrypt content over HDMI and DisplayPort links, which can only be decoded by trusted devices.

      HDCP is typically used to protect high-quality content. A source device will try to negotiate a HDCP link with its downstream receiver such as your TV or a frame-capture device. If a HDCP link can be negotiated, the pixel content will be encrypted over the wire and decrypted by the trusted downstream device. If a HDCP link cannot be successfully negotiated and pixel data remains unencrypted, the typical behaviour is to fall back to a lower resolution, or quality that is in some way less desirable to capture.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Idea for finding all public domain movies in the USA

        While looking at the scanned copies for the copyright renewal entries for movies published in the USA, an idea occurred to me. The number of renewals are so few per year, it should be fairly quick to transcribe them all and add references to the corresponding IMDB title ID. This would give the (presumably) complete list of movies published 28 years earlier that did _not_ enter the public domain for the transcribed year. By fetching the list of USA movies published 28 years earlier and subtract the movies with renewals, we should be left with movies registered in IMDB that are now in the public domain. For the year 1955 (which is the one I have looked at the most), the total number of pages to transcribe is 21. For the 28 years from 1950 to 1978, it should be in the range 500-600 pages. It is just a few days of work, and spread among a small group of people it should be doable in a few weeks of spare time.

      • How The US Pushed Sweden to Take Down The Pirate Bay

        A series of documents released by the US Department of State have revealed how Sweden was pressed to take action against The Pirate Bay. According to US officials, this directly led to law enforcement’s decision to shut down the torrent site more than ten years ago. Sweden, meanwhile, avoided a spot on the feared US Trade Representative’s 301 Watch List.

Judge Corcoran Got His User ID/Desk Back (as ILO Asked), But Cannot Perform Actual Work

Wednesday 13th of December 2017 09:40:54 AM

Summary: The latest update regarding Patrick Corcoran, whose 3-year ordeal is far from over in spite of ILO’s unambiguous rulings in his favour

THINGS are worse than widely believed. We are a couple of hours away from EPO staff protests and there’s no indication that justice will be respected. Well, what we have here is minimal “perception” of independence and minimal “perception” of compliance with the ruling.

“How can anyone decide to not go to protest today?”Corcoran can go into the Haar building, based on a source, but no other building. He has a room, desk, and chair. No phone. No computer. No office equipment. Delegates to Administrative Council have been told anyone in HR who challenges a decision, e.g. at ILO, is disloyal. People with cases at ILO are told by HR that even if they win, EPO will ignore it.

How can anyone decide to not go to protest today?

The End of Software Patents and PTAB’s Role in Enforcing That End

Wednesday 13th of December 2017 12:47:53 AM

It’s finally finished

Summary: Software patents are fast becoming a dying breed and the appeal board (PTAB) of the USPTO accelerates this trend, irrespective of patent immunity attempts

A FEW hours ago Patently-O carried on with its Alice-bashing cartoons, showing the site’s overt support for software patents and growing fear of Alice. It will soon be 4 years since that decision, which earlier today was recalled within this article about ‘apps’. Notice the Alice part:

Utility patents protect inventions for a term of twenty years from filing. The good news is that apps are treated no differently than other types of software inventions, and can thus be protected by utility patents. The bad news, however, is that apps are treated no differently than other types of software, and are thus subject to the same undefined and poorly understood “abstract idea” exception to patentability created by the Supreme Court in Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International. Since the 2014 Alice decision, many software patents were invalidated, and many patent applications were rejected, for being directed to abstract ideas. But not all software inventions are abstract ideas, and applications on software continue to be allowed, and patents on software continue to be sustained.

The more time goes on, the stronger Alice will become. It has not been effectively challenged by anything. Earlier today FatPipe again showed off its “patents for software-defined networks,” perhaps not realising how silly those patents look in light of Alice.

“4 years ago we could only dream that software patents would be invalidated at this scale and efficiency.”Also revealed earlier today was this PTAB decision citing Alice and doing the usual. Basically it’s like a daily routine. PTAB has just eliminated an abstract patent (yet again) [PDF] and the patent booster responded with “PTAB Rejects Patent Application Directed to Tracking Changes in Patent Ownership with 101/Alice” (abstract).

There’s no escaping PTAB either. As Managing IP pointed out this afternoon, Allergan’s “scammer” is trying to claim otherwise:

The lawyer behind Allergan’s controversial transfer of patents to a Native American tribe says others are “lining up to do deals”. But, Michael Loney asks, will the PTAB rule that sovereign immunity applies in these types of deals?

No. In fact, courts/judges and politicians already move to close the potential loophole. Nobody will be exempted from PTAB, hence any software patent ever granted (and not expired yet) can be subjected to elimination at any time (subject to petition or “IPR” as they call it).

It’s pleasing to see just how quickly things can change. 4 years ago we could only dream that software patents would be invalidated at this scale and efficiency.

No, China Isn’t Most Innovative, It’s Just Granting a Lot of Low-Quality Patents

Wednesday 13th of December 2017 12:16:11 AM

Strategic move from Xi, even if a short-sighted and misguided one (attracts trolls)


From “sewed in China” to “sued in China”

Summary: Patent extremists are trying to make China look like a role model or a success story because China grants far too many patents, spurring an explosion in litigation

Patents and innovation are not the same thing. Everybody knows that, especially patent examiners (not officials). At IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby, facts don’t matter. Earlier today it published the headline “US innovation rates could quadruple if women, low-earners and minorities effectively targeted, research finds” (a questionable headline in its own right). So I opened the source paper and the said study does not correspond/agree with IAM’s claims. They should know that patents and innovation are not the same thing and hypothetical assertions aren’t facts (and the paper mentions patents, which correlate/relate to wealth, not innovation). But leaving that aside for a moment (it’s a new IAM writer, they lost a lot of staff lately), let’s consider the other blog post IAM published today. Composed by a more senior writer who advocates patent chaos in China, the post admits that patent “infringement cases in China are skyrocketing,” including many from patent trolls (like those IAM cheers for).

Is this actually a good thing? Self harm, destruction, legal battles and tax in the form of legal bills come to mind. It’s like the United States a decade ago. Before it sobered up and regained some sanity.

“Self harm, destruction, legal battles and tax in the form of legal bills come to mind.”Looking at Watchtroll, another patent extremist, earlier today it published a post titled “WIPO Stats on Patent Application Filings Shows China Continuing to Lead the World” (leading in what? Feuds?).

As we said a week ago, this WIPO data actually shows China granting rubbish patents. That’s over-patenting. WIPO does not weigh these numbers based on quality and SIPO alone received over a million patent applications last year (for the sake of comparison, the US has about 10 million patents since inception a very, very long time ago).

Intellectual dishonesty, in the name of profit, runs deep in the patent microcosm. They try to use “China!” to shame Western countries into a regime of patent maximalism, wherein just about everything that exists (even nature itself) gets patented. Yes, the EPO actually grants patents on life. It would be material of comedy if it wasn’t so real!

“When too many patents get granted nobody is happy except lawyers and attorneys.”Earlier today Managing IP (slightly more moderate than IAM) published this paywalled article wherein “Guanyang Yao and Qi Hu discuss recent cases, issues and developments in patent damages awards in China…”

It’s all about litigation. When I was younger China was renowned for manufacturing and stigmatised as a ripoff artist. Does China wish to become stigmatised as a troll instead? The sad thing is, Xi’s vision for China when it comes to patents is disturbingly short-sighted and it failed to heed the warning from the United States. When too many patents get granted nobody is happy except lawyers and attorneys. They don’t produce anything. They add virtually nothing to GDP. They’re a tax.

Battistelli-Campinos Transition Will Be a Smooth One as the Administrative Council Remains the Same and the Boards Still Besieged

Tuesday 12th of December 2017 11:36:41 PM

The loyal 'chinchilla' changed nationality from Danish to German and the President remains French. Maybe Campinos can inherit that infamous pair of ‘presidential’ bicycles to ride in his massive pub. If he gets drunk and crashes, he can always bring up “immunity!” [1, 2]

Summary: A rather pessimistic (albeit likely realistic) expectation from tomorrow’s meeting of the Administrative Council, which continues to show that no lessons were learned and no strategy will be altered to avoid doom (low-quality patents and stocks running out)

TOMORROW will be an interesting day at the EPO — perhaps the culmination of many scandals and Battistelli getting reprimanded (if that’s not far too optimistic). Nobody expects Battistelli to get fired and perhaps he feels safe knowing that his imminent departure makes him immune to anything — even within the Council. Earlier today it was the Campinos-led EU-IPO helping the EPO distract from scandals. EU-IPO said that the EPO’s “new #patent study confirms growth in Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies…”

We are still trying to determine what’s going on with the media because based on a comment we received a few hours ago, Battistelli had time to prepare his ‘damage control’. He knew the outcome in advance or at least intended to disregard the ruling from ILO. This is disturbing (if true).

Something just isn’t right. With the media that is…

“The Boards of Appeal scandals only serve to reinforce and vindicate the complainant for it clearly demonstrates utter dysfunction, including but not limited to deficient separation of powers.”Why isn’t Dutch and German media making a big deal out of it? It is a very big deal, yet hardly a bleep on the radar for some. Notice how IP Kat, for instance, has said nothing — not even a word — about it, having meticulously followed this whole affair for over 2 years.

What has IP Kat turned into? I say this as a former fan. A lot of the patent posts at IP Kat come from Bristows, complete with the pro-software patents, pro-trolls, pro-UPC, FRAND, SEP agenda. Bristows does something similar in Kluwer Patent blog and we suspect this is the latest (today’s article about Tilmann — a subject that we covered earlier than that). This is probably Bristows writing anonymously again, having received some truly harsh comments for its recent spin in that blog. Today it wrote in its sad and lonely blog about France and the UK, but what the staff won’t admit is that it makes no real difference. The cards are now on Brexit and the ball is in Germany’s court (literal court, not just a sports metaphor). Tilmann, Bristows and others (we collectively refer to them all as “Team UPC” — a term they recently chose to adopt) try hard to influence the outcome, which may in fact be years away. The Boards of Appeal scandals only serve to reinforce and vindicate the complainant for it clearly demonstrates utter dysfunction, including but not limited to deficient separation of powers.

Earlier today someone wrote this comment about the Administrative Council (AC), which will be meeting within half a day (in view of protesters, namely EPO staff). To quote:

AC putting its house in order, and growing a set of morals and a backbone? No chance, Simon.

I see the supine and amoral AC as ruined beyond repair. The little countries have found out how much voting power they can exert, against the complacent Big Country Bullies. From now on, it is they that will continue to extract from their beloved Cash Cow, its Golden Goose, what they want, namely fat dividends. It’s called “Shareholder Value” and it destroys even the best companies, particularly the best companies.

What the AC did (or didn’t do) will be a textbook example. It’s case of complicity by inaction or blind compliance with a person they were entrusted to regulate. The tail was wagging the dog for longer than half a decade and bribes were perfumed as “projects” or “cooperation” or “agreements” and so on. It’s just grotesque.

“The tail was wagging the dog for longer than half a decade and bribes were perfumed as “projects” or “cooperation” or “agreements” and so on. It’s just grotesque.”It’s hard to see if/how the Boards will ever recover now that they’re in Haar and in a state of limbo. Earlier today Mark Schweizer wrote about the Technical Board of Appeal and the Enlarged Board of Appeal, alluding to another case which in our humble assessment demonstrates need for more staff (so-called ‘human resources’ — a task assigned to Battistelli’s friends’s wife at the Office). The Boards are so grossly understaffed that one starts to wonder if they have a future at all; Battistelli keeps them besieged while lobbying for the UPC. To quote parts of Schweizer’s post:

Svarovski-Optik’s patent EP 1 746 451 had been upheld with limited claims by the Opposition Division. Upon appeal, the Technical Board of Appeal 3.4.02 revoked the grant of the patent. Svaroski-Optik filed a petition for review by the Enlarged Board of Appeal under Article 112a(2)(c) EPC (fundamental violation of Article 113(1) [right to be heard).

[...]

Neither party had advanced such a claim construction or formulation of the objective problem during the entire proceedings. Since this construction was first advanced by the BoA in the written grounds for the decision, Svaroski-Optik could not have objected to it during the appeal proceedings, and the objection was raised in a timely manner in the petition for review (Rule 106, last part of sentence).

By adopting a surprising claim construction only in the written grounds, without giving the parties the opportunity to comment on it, the Board of Appeal had violated Svaroski-Optik’s right to be heard. While it had been discussed whether a limitation of the zoom level of the telescope IOR-01 could lead to the above discussed feature without inventive step, the discussion did not occur in the context of claim construction and did not change the fact that the newly adopted claim construction was surprising.

In a properly-functioning Organisation the Council would announce the hiring of dozens of people for the Boards, not a handful of interns. But alas, the Council seems all too complicit with Battistelli, so we urge readers to remember who will ‘govern’ Campinos when he arrives. It’s the very same people, including (according to court documents) a Head of Delegation who sleeps/slept with the Vice-President.

More in Tux Machines

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Software and howtos

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GNU: Glibc, GIMP, GCC

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