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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 50 min 24 sec ago

Patent Troll Finjan Looks Like It’s About to Collapse, But Patent Maximalists Exploit It for Software Patents Promotion

1 hour 48 min ago

This troll’s market value already crashed by about 75% in the past 5 years


Phil Hartstein, CEO of Finjan (Photo credit: Courtesy), via Times of Israel

Summary: Patent trolls are struggling in their use of software patents; few (if any) of their patents are upheld as valid and those that miraculously remain in tact become the subject of fascination if not obsession among trolls’ advocates

THE USPTO‘s lenient attitude towards software patents prior to Alice is causing great difficulties and trouble to software developers in the US. Patent trolls absolutely love such patents for various reasons including the number of potential defendants (victims). In particular sectors, particular types of patents can only be used against very few companies and these companies tend to have deep pockets; not so with software…

Karina Tiwana, the general counsel at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, wrote about the LOT Network and the Open Innovation Network (OIN) yesterday. She did not wind up refraining from using the “T” word, both in the headline and the body, for example:

Patent trolls, more formally known as Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), are entities that acquire patents for the sole purpose of suing companies in order to monetize them. They also happen to make a habit of piling on a tremendous amount of added work, expense, and stress onto legitimate operating companies.

Preparing for possible litigation has become a standard “cost of doing business” over the years. As the General Counsel of Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE USA, Inc.), I’ve spent the last few years engaging in battles with patent trolls, at a cost to my company and colleagues. Meanwhile, the PAEs themselves faced few ramifications.

Alcatel-Lucent has itself targeted quite a few companies with patents. We wrote many articles about that.

More curious, however, was recent coverage about Finjan, whose business is virtually nonexistent because it’s all about patents and litigation. Among recent financial coverage [1, 2] we see an “Increase in Shorts”, which may suggest an imminent collapse. “The company has market cap of $62.06 million. The firm owns a portfolio of patents related to software,” says the article. But many of these patents are now being challenged and this troll has nothing but patents. Many, except perhaps one, are being invalidated. 2 days ago Watchtroll used this Microsoft-connected troll to prop up the perception of software patents doing well, obviously relying on just one patent that endured scrutiny and ignoring all the rest. Another patent maximalist did the same thing, again obsessing over the use of a Microsoft case (Enfish) to defend one single software patent. To quote:

One distinguishing feature is its procedural posture: Blue Coat did not present an Alice challenge at the pleadings stage or in a summary judgment motion as have most Alice cases. Rather, it affirmed a district court’s post-trial denial of a JMOL motion. The standard of review was still de novo, but the Federal Circuit was faced with a fully litigated patent case, including claim constructions that significantly added to the few, very broad, very general terms used in the patent claims, where a jury had made a damages finding. And Finjan, the patentee, is a practicing entity [sic] that pioneered the patented technology. Although unspoken, these distinctions are relevant in the real world: the Court had the full benefit of claim construction and a contrary result would have overturned a completed trial and judgment won by a practicing entity. Nevertheless, such factors are likely not enough, singly or in combination, to explain the outcome.

The real news here, as we noted before (e.g. a week ago), is that Finjan is unable to extract as much in ‘protection’ money as it once hoped. Alice squashes many of its patents and with imminent cases/decisions there’s expectation of this troll’s collapse.

The Attacks on PTAB Are Slowing Down and Attempts to Shield Oneself From Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) Are Failing

2 hours 18 min ago

The USPTO has more safeguards against inappropriate patents; resistance to this comes from patent maximalists


PTAB hasn’t the incentive of examiners (to grant a lot of patents) and is willing to reject many upon reassessment

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) reapplies patent eligibility tests/guidelines in order to squash likely invalid patents; The litigation ‘industry’ is not happy about it, but its opposition to PTAB is also losing steam

THE oftentimes-ferocious attacks on the US appeal board (PTAB) that deals with low-quality US patents have slowed down*. There weren’t many of them over the past week. We watch these things closely enough and recently with greater concern because the intention of these attacks is to change the stance/policy of the USPTO and the US Supreme Court (due to rule on Oil States in a matter of just months).

At the appeal board, the burden of proof should be put on the aggressor; the aggressor isn’t the petitioner but the party which typically uses patents either to litigate or threaten to litigate. PTAB petitioners are often on the receiving end of threats and thus they’re the victims. “The PTAB granted the IPRs for six of the seven patents,” this article by Bryan Hart said some days ago. It is about the Philips case which we wrote about last week. Here are some details about it:

Philips had asserted infringement of seven patents: Patent Nos. 6,147,458; 6,250,774; 6,561,690; 6,586,890; 6,788,011; 7,038,399; and 7,352,138. In due course, Wangs filed invalidity contentions against the patents-in-suit, and at the one-year deadline, Wangs petitioned for IPRs. The PTAB granted the IPRs for six of the seven patents. While the court stayed the case, the PTAB handled the IPRs, ruling for Wangs on some claims but not others. In the immediate motion, Philips moved to prevent Wangs from relying on prior art left out of its contentions under local rules, and to estop Wangs from relying on prior art included in its contentions but not in its IPR petitions.

We have been writing about the patent bullying of Philips for over a decade; Philips typically does the bullying (or “enforcement”) indirectly, e.g. via Sisvel. Can PTAB slow that down?

“The Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) has designated the following decisions, which involve 35 U.S.C. § 315(b), as informative,” said this site the other day.

We are particularly interested in PTAB decisions that deal with Section 101 (a subject of a later article, due to be published tonight), but sometimes, as in this new case (direct link to PDF) PTAB reverses examiners’ decisions based on Section 102 and Section 103. At CAFC, according to this, “[w]ithout open dissent, the Federal Circuit has denied Helsinn’s petition for en banc rehearing on the definition of “on sale” under the AIA-amended prior art statute 35 U.S.C. 102.”

Here we have patent trolls moaning about PTAB using Section 101. That interferes with these trolls’ business [sic] model, so power to PTAB.

There have been numerous different attempts to squash PTAB lately (legistative included), but we are not hearing about these anymore. There were also attempts to bypass PTAB by misusing sovereign immunity, but those too are failing. PTAB has in fact determined that at CAFC any such immunity gets voided, according to this new post by Peter Law and Kerry S. Taylor. To quote:

On December 19, 2017, a seven-judge expanded PTAB panel ruled that the University of Minnesota (UM) waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity defense when it filed a patent infringement action in federal district court. Eleventh Amendment immunity had been the focus of several previous PTAB decisions, but these previous decisions did not involve a sovereign who had filed an infringement action in federal court before an IPR petition was filed.

In early 2017, the PTAB held that a state university was immune from IPR challenge under Eleventh Amendment state sovereign immunity. Covidien LP v. Univ. of Florida Research Found. Inc., IPR2016-01274, Paper 21 at 27. Mindful of the Covidien decision, Ericsson Inc. filed several IPR petitions against the Regents of UM and noted that the Covidien case was distinguishable because the University of Florida had not waived its sovereign immunity by asserting its patent in federal district court, whereas UM had asserted its patent in the US District Court of Minnesota. UM moved to dismiss Ericsson’s IPR petitions, arguing that filing of the lawsuit in federal district court did not constitute a waiver of immunity at the PTAB.

Enough of this misuse of immunity. Says PTAB. When trolls and lawyers attempt to guard bogus patents by painting them as “tribal” or “public” they not only lie; they also discredit the very system that they rely on. Their colleagues/fellow lawyers ought to discourage that in order to salvage the reputation of their occupation; headlines now associate it with “scams”.
_____
* Watchtroll has, unusually enough, not posted many attacks on PTAB this past week, instead resorting to a lot of puff pieces like Apple hype and other dross. Apple was mentioned in relation to PTAB by David Hricik, who wrote:

Apple has filed a motion with the PTAB, here, asserting that letters from the former CEO of a patent owner to an original panel, a substitute panel, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross constituted improper ex parte communications that warrant reversing the PTAB’s findings in favor of the patentee and, instead, either entering judgment in Apple’s favor or at least granting a new trial.

Boiled down, Apple argues that after the decision to institute was granted, the former CEO (and still “advisor” to the patentee) sent letters to the panel that had granted institution, and those letters were not made of record. That panel was replaced, without explanation to Apple (or anyone from what I can tell), and a substitute panel then took over the matter.

The former CEO then sent more letters — to both the PTAB chief judge and to the substitute panel which, again, were not made of record. (It’s not clear to me that Apple or the patentee knew of the letters at this time.). Other letters to the chief judge, the substitute panel, and even the Secretary of Commerce followed and the letters were not made of record and Apple was not notified (and, again, neither was the patentee, from what I can tell).

Then on September 18, the patentee posted the letters — calling them “independent” — on its web page. Then there were more letters.

The substitute panel in late November in its final written decision and found Apple had not established the claims were unpatentable.

Watchtroll did, however, engage in more PTAB bashing (with headlines like “killing good patents”). Will these people carry on lobbying until the Justicez decide on Oil States? The word “killing” is not appropriate; invalidated patents are the bad ones, not “good patents”. That’s why they get invalidated. Nobody gets killed.

Links 21/1/2018: Wine 3.0 Coverage, KaOS 2018.01, Red Hat Among ‘Admired Companies’

11 hours 16 min ago

Contents GNU/Linux
  • How Live Patching Has Improved Xen Virtualization

    The open-source Xen virtualization hypervisor is widely deployed by enterprises and cloud providers alike, which benefit from the continuous innovation that the project delivers.

    In a video interview with ServerWatch, Lars Kurth, Chairman of the Xen Project Advisory Board and Director, Open Source Solutions at Citrix, details some of the recent additions to Xen and how they are helping move the project forward.

  • The Gravity of Kubernetes

    Most new internet businesses started in the foreseeable future will leverage Kubernetes (whether they realize it or not). Many old applications are migrating to Kubernetes too.

    Before Kubernetes, there was no standardization around a specific distributed systems platform. Just like Linux became the standard server-side operating system for a single node, Kubernetes has become the standard way to orchestrate all of the nodes in your application.

    With Kubernetes, distributed systems tools can have network effects. Every time someone builds a new tool for Kubernetes, it makes all the other tools better. And it further cements Kubernetes as the standard.

  • Welcome to 2018

    The image of the technology industry as a whole suffered in 2017, and that process is likely to continue this year as well. That should lead to an increased level of introspection that will certainly affect the free-software community. Many of us got into free software to, among other things, make the world a better place. It is not at all clear that all of our activities are doing that, or what we should do to change that situation. Expect a lively conversation on how our projects should be run and what they should be trying to achieve.

    Some of that introspection will certainly carry into projects related to machine learning and similar topics. There will be more interesting AI-related free software in 2018, but it may not all be beneficial. How well will the world be served, for example, by a highly capable, free facial-recognition system and associated global database? Our community will be no more effective than anybody else at limiting progress of potentially freedom-reducing technologies, but we should try harder to ensure that our technologies promote and support freedom to the greatest extent possible.

    Our 2017 predictions missed the fact that an increasing number of security problems are being found at the hardware level. We’ll not make the same mistake in 2018. Much of what we think of as “hardware” has a great deal of software built into it — highly proprietary software that runs at the highest privilege levels and which is not subject to third-party review. Of course that software has bugs and security issues of its own; it couldn’t really be any other way. We will see more of those issues in 2018, and many of them are likely to prove difficult to fix.

  • Desktop
    • My Linux story: Coding not required

      For more than 15 years, I have earned a living working exclusively with open source products. How did I get here?

      In many ways, my journey started before Linux existed. In college, I had friends who were admins in the engineering computer lab. Although I did not do too well in my CS programming classes, as a hobby and to spend time with my friends I learned about newgroups, ftp sites, and Unix systems. As a data aide student intern, I realized I made a good translator between the astronomers and the C programmer computer support staff. I could read just enough code to identify the problem, but not enough to actually fix it.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Pixel C Android tablet remembered – Unleaded Hangouts

      Pixel C Android tablet remembered. This Android powered Google offering may be no more, however we take the time to remember the Google Pixel C. I’m joined by Mike Stone for this special edition of Unleaded.

    • Command Line Heroes – get your no-cost RHEL developer subscription

      Red Hat has announced Command Line Heroes (CLH), an original podcast from Red Hat. Hosted by Saron Yitbarek, developer, and the founder of CodeNewbie, Command Line Heroes is about geeks, hackers, developers, programmers, and all sorts of passionate open source builders, makers, and users.

  • Kernel Space
    • Experimental KPTI Support For x86 32-bit Linux

      For the Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) support currently within the Linux kernel for addressing the Meltdown CPU vulnerability it’s currently limited to 64-bit on the x86 side, but for the unfortunate souls still running x86 32-bit operating systems, SUSE is working on such support.

    • AMD Secure Encrypted Virtualization Is Ready To Roll With Linux 4.16

      With the Linux 4.16 kernel cycle that is expected to begin immediately following the Linux 4.15 kernel debut on Sunday, AMD’s Secure Encrypted Virtualization (SEV) technology supported by their new EPYC processors will be mainline.

      Going back to the end of 2016 have been Linux patches for Secure Encrypted Virtualization while with Linux 4.16 it will finally be part of the mainline kernel and supported with KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) virtualization.

    • Deadline scheduler part 2 — details and usage

      Linux’s deadline scheduler is a global early deadline first scheduler for sporadic tasks with constrained deadlines. These terms were defined in the first part of this series. In this installment, the details of the Linux deadline scheduler and how it can be used will be examined.

      The deadline scheduler prioritizes the tasks according to the task’s job deadline: the earliest absolute deadline first. For a system with M processors, the M earliest deadline jobs will be selected to run on the M processors.

      The Linux deadline scheduler also implements the constant bandwidth server (CBS) algorithm, which is a resource-reservation protocol. CBS is used to guarantee that each task will receive its full run time during every period. At every activation of a task, the CBS replenishes the task’s run time. As the job runs, it consumes that time; if the task runs out, it will be throttled and descheduled. In this case, the task will be able to run only after the next replenishment at the beginning of the next period. Therefore, CBS is used to both guarantee each task’s CPU time based on its timing requirements and to prevent a misbehaving task from running for more than its run time and causing problems to other jobs.

    • New Sound Drivers Coming In Linux 4.16 Kernel

      Due to longtime SUSE developer Takashi Iwai going on holiday the next few weeks, he has already sent in the sound driver feature updates targeting the upcoming Linux 4.16 kernel cycle.

      The sound subsystem in Linux 4.16 sees continued changes to the ASoC code, clean-ups to the existing drivers, and a number of new drivers.

    • Varlink: a protocol for IPC

      One of the motivations behind projects like kdbus and bus1, both of which have fallen short of mainline inclusion, is to have an interprocess communication (IPC) mechanism available early in the boot process. The D-Bus IPC mechanism has a daemon that cannot be started until filesystems are mounted and the like, but what if the early boot process wants to perform IPC? A new project, varlink, was recently announced; it aims to provide IPC from early boot onward, though it does not really address the longtime D-Bus performance complaints that also served as motivation for kdbus and bus1.

      The announcement came from Harald Hoyer, but he credited Kay Sievers and Lars Karlitski with much of the work. At its core, varlink is simply a JSON-based protocol that can be used to exchange messages over any connection-oriented transport. No kernel “special sauce” (such as kdbus or bus1) is needed to support it as TCP or Unix-domain sockets will provide the necessary functionality. The messages can be used as a kind of remote procedure call (RPC) using an API defined in an interface file.

    • Statistics for the 4.15 kernel

      The 4.15 kernel is likely to require a relatively long development cycle as a result of the post-rc5 merge of the kernel page-table isolation patches. That said, it should be in something close to its final form, modulo some inevitable bug fixes. The development statistics for this kernel release look fairly normal, but they do reveal an unexpectedly busy cycle overall.

      This development cycle was supposed to be relatively calm after the anticipated rush to get work into the 4.14 long-term-support release. But, while 4.14 ended up with 13,452 non-merge changesets at release, 4.15-rc6 already has 14,226, making it one of the busiest releases in the kernel project’s history. Only 4.9 (16,214 changesets) and 4.12 (14,570) brought in more work, and 4.15 may exceed 4.12 by the time it is finished. So far, 1,707 developers have contributed to this kernel; they added 725,000 lines of code while removing 407,000, for a net growth of 318,000 lines of code.

    • A new kernel polling interface

      Polling a set of file descriptors to see which ones can perform I/O without blocking is a useful thing to do — so useful that the kernel provides three different system calls (select(), poll(), and epoll_wait() — plus some variants) to perform it. But sometimes three is not enough; there is now a proposal circulating for a fourth kernel polling interface. As is usually the case, the motivation for this change is performance.
      On January 4, Christoph Hellwig posted a new polling API based on the asynchronous I/O (AIO) mechanism. This may come as a surprise to some, since AIO is not the most loved of kernel interfaces and it tends not to get a lot of attention. AIO allows for the submission of I/O operations without waiting for their completion; that waiting can be done at some other time if need be. The kernel has had AIO support since the 2.5 days, but it has always been somewhat incomplete. Direct file I/O (the original use case) works well, as does network I/O. Many other types of I/O are not supported for asynchronous use, though; attempts to use the AIO interface with them will yield synchronous behavior. In a sense, polling is a natural addition to AIO; the whole point of polling is usually to avoid waiting for operations to complete.

    • Linux Foundation
    • Graphics Stack
      • Mesa 17.3.3 Released With RADV & ANV Vulkan Driver Fixes

        Mesa 17.3.3 is now available as the latest point release for the Mesa 17.3 stable series.

        This bi-weekly point release to Mesa presents several RADV Vega/GFX9 fixes, various Intel ANV Vulkan driver fixes, a DRI3 fix, and random fixes to the OpenGL drivers like RadeonSI, Etnaviv, and even Swrast.

      • R600g “Soft” FP64 Shows Signs Of Life, Enabling Older GPUs To Have OpenGL 4 In 2018

        Most pre-GCN AMD graphics cards are still limited to OpenGL 3.3 support at this time due to not supporting FP64. Only the HD 5800/6900 series on R600g currently have real double-precision floating-point support working right now so at present they are on OpenGL 4.3 rather than 3.3, but those other generations may be catching up soon thanks to the “soft” FP64 code.

      • AMDGPU DC Gets More Raven Ridge Improvements, Audio Fixes

        Harry Wentland of AMD has sent out the latest batch of patches for the AMDGPU DC display code stack. Fortunately it lightens up the DRM driver by about six thousand lines thanks to removing some unused code.

        Besides gutting out a chunk of unused code, the DC code has a few audio fixes (no word yet on supporting newer audio formats with DC), fixes on driver unload, a “bunch” of continued Raven Ridge display updates, and various other code clean-ups.

      • AMDGPU Firmware Blobs Updated For Video Encode/Decode

        There are updated AMDGPU microcode/firmware files now available for recent Radeon GPUs.

        The updated firmware files now available via the main linux-firmware.git repository are centered around the video blocks: UVD video decoding, VCE video encode, and the new VCN video encode/decode block with Raven Ridge.

      • Intel Exploring Cgroups Support For DRM Driver Management

        An Intel open-source driver developer has posted preliminary patches taking Cgroups v2 to DRM driver management.

      • OpenSWR Rasterizer Improvements Land Ahead Of Mesa 18.0

        Besides Intel and Radeon OpenGL/Vulkan driver improvements squeezing into Mesa Git ahead of the imminent Mesa 18.0 code branching, the Intel-developed OpenSWR has landed its latest improvements.

    • Benchmarks
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Linux and Qt in Automotive? Let’s meet up!

        For anyone around the Gothenburg area on Feb 1st, you are most welcome to the Automotive MeetUp held at the Pelagicore and Luxoft offices. There will be talks about Qt/QML, our embedded Linux platform PELUX and some ramblings about open source in automotive by yours truly

      • What about AppImage?

        I see a lot of people asking about state of AppImage support in Discover.

        It’s non-existent, because AppImage does not require centralized software management interfaces like Discover and GNOME Software (or a command-line package manager). AppImage bundles are totally self-contained, and come straight from the developer with zero middlemen, and can be managed on the filesystem using your file manager

        This should sound awfully familiar to former Mac users (like myself), because Mac App bundles are totally self-contained, come straight from the developer with zero middlemen, and are managed using the Finder file manager.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • 5 of the Best Linux Dark Themes that Are Easy on the Eyes

        There are several reasons people opt for dark themes on their computers. Some find them easy on the eye while others prefer them because of their medical condition. Programmers, especially, like dark themes because they reduce glare on the eyes.

        If you are a Linux user and a dark theme lover, you are in luck. Here are five of the best dark themes for Linux. Check them out!

      • GNOME Rolls Out The GTK Text Input Protocol For Wayland

        GNOME developers have been working on a new Wayland protocol, the “gtk_text_input” protocol, which now is implemented in their Mutter compositor.

        Separate from the zwp_text_input protocol, the gtk_text_input protocol is designed for representing text input and input methods associated with a seat and enter/leave events. This GNOME-catered protocol for Mutter is outlined via this commit with their protocol specification living in-tree to Mutter given its GNOME focus.

      • Wine, Mozilla, GNOME and DragonFly BSD

        While GNOME is moving to remove desktop icon support in version 3.28, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will continue to ship with an older version of Nautilus (3.26) in an effort to keep this age-old practice alive, at least for its upcoming LTS release.

        In more GNOME-related news, version 3.28 of the Photos application will include a number of enhancements to its photo-editing arsenal, such as shadows and highlight editing, the ability to alter crop orientation, added support for zoom gestures and more. For a complete list, visit the project’s roadmap.

  • Distributions
    • The 5 Best Linux Distributions for Development

      When considering Linux, there are so many variables to take into account. What package manager do you wish to use? Do you prefer a modern or old-standard desktop interface? Is ease of use your priority? How flexible do you want your distribution? What task will the distribution serve?

      It is that last question which should often be considered first. Is the distribution going to work as a desktop or a server? Will you be doing network or system audits? Or will you be developing? If you’ve spent much time considering Linux, you know that for every task there are several well-suited distributions. This certainly holds true for developers. Even though Linux, by design, is an ideal platform for developers, there are certain distributions that rise above the rest, to serve as great operating systems to serve developers.

    • New Releases
      • KaOS 2018.01 KDE-focused Linux distro now available with Spectre and Meltdown fixes

        It can be difficult to find a quality Linux distribution that meets your needs. This is partly because there are just too many operating systems from which to choose. My suggestion is to first find a desktop environment that you prefer, and then narrow down your distro search to one that focuses on that DE. For instance, if you like KDE, both Kubuntu and Netrunner are solid choices.

        With all of that said, there is another KDE-focused Linux distro that I highly recommend. Called “KaOS,” it is rolling release, meaning you can alway be confident that your computer is running modern packages. Today, KaOS gets its first updated ISO for 2018, and you should definitely use it to upgrade your install media. Why? Because version 2018.01 has fixes for Spectre and Meltdown thanks to Linux kernel 4.14.14 with both AMD and Intel ucode.

      • KaOS Linux Gets First ISO Snapshot for 2018 with Spectre and Meltdown Patches

        The development team behind the KaOS Linux operating system have released today the first ISO snapshot for 2018, bringing all the latest software and security updates.

        First thing first, the KaOS 2018.01 installation snapshot includes patches for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities publicly disclosed earlier this month by shipping with the latest Linux 4.14.14 kernel built with Retpoline support. Intel and AMD microcode firmware updates are also present.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • Tumbleweed Rolls Forward with New versions of Mesa, Squid, Xen

        This week provided a pretty healthy amount of package updates for openSUSE’s rolling distribution Tumbleweed.

        There were three snapshots released since the last blog and some of the top packages highlighted this week are from Mesa, Squid, Xen and OpenSSH.

        The Mesa update from version 17.2.6 to 17.3.2 in snapshot 20180116 provided multiple fixes in the RADV Vulkan driver and improvements of the GLSL shader cache. The Linux Kernel provides some fixes for the security vulnerabilities of Meltdown in version 4.14.13 and added a prevent buffer overrun on memory hotplug during migration for KVM with s390. The snapshot had many more package updates like openssh 7.6p1, which tightened configuration access rights. A critical fix when updating Flatpak packages live was made with the gnome-software version 3.26.4 update. File systems package btrfsprogs 4.14.1 provided cleanups and some refactoring while wireshark 2.4.4 made some fixes for dissector crashes. Xen 4.10.0_10 added a few patches. Rounding out the snapshot, ModemManager 1.6.12 fixed connection state machine when built against libqmi and blacklisted a few devices to include some Pycom devices.

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed Rolls To Mesa 17.3, Linux 4.14.13

        OpenSUSE has continued rolling in the new year with several key package updates in January.

        Exciting us a lot is that openSUSE Tumbleweed has migrated from Mesa 17.2 to now Mesa 17.3. Mesa 17.3.2 is the version currently in openSUSE’s rolling-release.

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed Users Receive Important Mesa Linux Graphics Stack Update

        Four snapshots were released this week for OpenSuSE Tumbleweed, which is a rolling release GNU/Linux distribution where users install once and receive updates forever. Probably the most important change added in these snapshots was related to the graphics stack, which was updated to Mesa 17.3.2, a release that neede to be split into two parts to improve the build performance of the distribution.

        “In order to improve the distro build performance, Mesa was split into two parts to be built. Users that updated their system using “–no-recommends” did not get Mesa-dri auto-installed, resulting in the graphical system possibly not starting up. Simply install Mesa-dri for now manually (dependency chain fixes are underway),” said Dominique Leuenberger in the mailing list announcement.

    • Slackware Family
      • What’s new for January? Plasma5 18.01, and more

        When I sat down to write a new post I noticed that I had not written a single post since the previous Plasma 5 announcement. Well, I guess the past month was a busy one. Also I bought a new e-reader (the Kobo Aura H2O 2nd edition) to replace my ageing Sony PRS-T1. That made me spend a lot of time just reading books and enjoying a proper back-lit E-ink screen. What I read? The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams, A Shadow all of Light by Fred Chappell, Persepolis Rising and several of the short stories (Drive, The Butcher of Anderson Station, The Churn and Strange Dogs) by James SA Corey and finally Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. All very much worth your time.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • TLCockpit v0.8

        Today I released v0.8 of TLCockpit, the GUI front-end for the TeX Live Manager tlmgr. I spent the winter holidays in updating and polishing, but also in helping me debug problems that users have reported. Hopefully the new version works better for all.

      • Google’s Linux workstations are switching from Ubuntu to Debian

        Like many companies, Google uses a variety of operating systems in-house. macOS and Windows are used by a large number of employees, a modified build of Debian Linux is used on its servers (as of 2014, at least), and Chrome OS and Android devices are commonplace. In work environments where Linux is needed, Google uses a customized version of Ubuntu 14.04 called ‘Goobuntu,’ which has never been released publicly.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • In a Snap, Slack Comes to Linux. Here’s How To Install It

            While binaries for Slack have been available for Ubuntu and Fedora, other Linux operating systems are not so lucky. To overcome this, Canonical has released Slack as a Snap, which allows Slack to be installed and used on a greater variety of Linux distributions.

            Snapcraft is a command line tool that allows you to install containerised applications called Snaps on many different Linux distribution. As these Snap containers contain all the required dependencies that a program needs to run, it makes it very easy to create and distribute a single container that works on a variety of Linux versions.

          • Linux Users Can Now Download Slack as a ‘Snap’

            Slack is one step closer to becoming the workplace staple for businesses across the globe. The software is now available for use on Linux environments, bundled as a Snap – an application package for opensource systems.

            Tens of millions of users across the world run Linux on their systems, opting for one among its many distribution avatars. In comparison, Slack reported that over 6 million active profiles used the app daily last year, 2 million of them with paid subscriptions. The new release could open Slack up to a whole new set of customers.

          • Slack has arrived on Linux thanks to Canonical Snap

            CANONICAL HAS made the wishes of its users come true again as it brings another major app to Linux users for the first time.

            This time it’s popular team platform Slack. The secret sauce is Ubuntu’s “Snap” packages, a form of containerisation which puts an app into a little bubble that makes it run in the Linux environment. At Christmas, the technique was used to bring a desktop Spotify to Linux for the first time.

            The important thing here is that Snaps, first launched in 2016, run on any Linux distro, not just Canonical’s own Ubuntu. Named specifically were Linux Mint, Manjaro, Debian, ArchLinux, OpenSUSE and Solus. Not only that, they work across desktop, server, cloud and IoT.

          • Your first robot: Introduction to the Robot Operating System [2/5]

            This is the second blog post in this series about creating your first robot with ROS and Ubuntu Core. In the previous post we walked through all the hardware necessary to follow this series, and introduced Ubuntu Core, the operating system for IoT devices. We installed it on our Raspberry Pi, and used it to go through the CamJam worksheets. In this post, I’m going to introduce you to the Robot Operating System (ROS), and we’ll use it to move our robot.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Open source casino tech biz TGG enters Cambodia

    The firm provides “all essential source codes with open API [application program interface] for game designers to create customisable premium content for casino operators, enabling the operators to focus on making the best possible gaming experience for their players worldwide without additional investment in information technology infrastructure,” added its release.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox Quantum Eats RAM Like Chrome

        For a long time, Mozilla’s Firefox has been my web browser of choice. I have always preferred it to using Google’s Chrome, because of its simplicity and reasonable system resource (especially RAM) usage. On many Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint and many others, Firefox even comes installed by default.

        Recently, Mozilla released a new, powerful and faster version of Firefox called Quantum. And according to the developers, it’s new with a “powerful engine that’s built for rapid-fire performance, better, faster page loading that uses less computer memory.”

      • Mozilla Communities Speaker Series #PrivacyMonth

        As a part of the Privacy Month initiative, Mozilla volunteers are hosting a couple of speaker series webinars on Privacy, Security and related topics. The webinars will see renowned speakers talking to us about their work around privacy, how to take control of your digital self, some privacy-security tips and much more.

      • “Ewoks or Porgs?” and Other Important Questions

        You ever go to a party where you decide to ask people REAL questions about themselves, rather than just boring chit chat? Us, too! That’s why we’ve included questions that really hone in on the important stuff in our 2nd Annual Firefox Census.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 30
      • TenFourFox FPR5 available

        TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 5 final is available for testing (downloads, hashes, release notes). There are no other changes other than the relevant security updates and the timer resolution reduction for anti-Spectre hardening. Assuming no major issues, it will become live on Monday evening Pacific time.

      • Mozilla mandates that new Firefox features rely on encrypted connections

        Mozilla this week decreed that future web-facing features of Firefox must meet an under-development standard that requires all browser-to-server-and-back traffic be encrypted.

        “Effective immediately, all new features that are web-exposed are to be restricted to secure contexts,” wrote Mozilla engineer Anne van Kesteren in a post to a company blog. “A feature can be anything from an extension of an existing IDL-defined object, a new CSS property, a new HTTP response header, to bigger features such as WebVR.”

      • Rogue Chrome, Firefox Extensions Hijack Browsers; Prevent Easy Removal

        Any malware that hijacks your browser to serve up ads or to redirect you to random websites can be annoying. Even more so are extensions that take control of your browser and prevent you from landing on pages that can help you get rid of them.

        Security researchers at Malwarebytes recently discovered extensions for Chrome and Firefox that display precisely that behavior. According to the security vendor, the extensions are designed to hijack browsers and then block users from removing them by closing out pages with information on extensions and add-ons, or by steering users to pages where extensions aren’t listed. Rogue extensions like these are often an overlooked attack vector that can leave organizations exposed to serious threats.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Future directions for PGP

      Back in October, LWN reported on a talk about the state of the GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG) project, an asymmetric public-key encryption and signing tool that had been almost abandoned by its lead developer due to lack of resources before receiving a significant infusion of funding and community attention. GnuPG 2 has brought about a number of changes and improvements but, at the same time, several efforts are underway to significantly change the way GnuPG and OpenPGP are used. This article will look at the current state of GnuPG and the OpenPGP web of trust, as compared to new implementations of the OpenPGP standard and other trust systems.

      GnuPG produces encrypted files, signed messages, and other types of artifacts that comply to a common standard called OpenPGP, described in RFC 4880. OpenPGP is derived from the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) commercial software project (since acquired by Symantec) and today is almost synonymous with the GnuPG implementation, but the possibility exists for independent implementations of the standard that interoperate with each other. Unfortunately, RFC 4880 was released in 2007 and a new standard has not been published since then. In the meantime, several extensions have been added to GnuPG without broader standardization, and a 2017 IETF working group formed to update RFC 4880 ultimately shut down due to lack of interest.

      GnuPG 2 is a significantly heavier-weight software package than previous GnuPG versions. A major example of this change in architecture is GnuPG 2′s complete reliance on the use of the separate gpg-agent daemon for private-key operations. While isolating private-key access within its own process enables improvements to security and functionality, it also adds complexity.

      In the wake of the Heartbleed vulnerability in OpenSSL, a great deal of scrutiny has been directed toward the maintainability of complex and long-lived open-source projects. GnuPG does not rely on OpenSSL for its cryptographic implementation, instead it uses its own independent implementation: Libgcrypt. This leads to the question of whether GnuPG’s cryptographic implementation is susceptible to the same kinds of problems that OpenSSL has had; indeed the concern may be larger in the case of GnuPG.

    • Foundations of Amateur Radio – Episode 137

      I’ve been playing with a wonderful piece of software called GNU Radio, more on that in a moment.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Barcelona chooses Linux, Apple’s Lisa OS goes open source, and more news
    • Barcelona Opts for Breath of Open Source Fresh Air

      Barcelona city officials have voted to shut the door on Microsoft Windows in favor of the Linux operating system and open source technology.

      The city hopes to save money from proprietary software license fees and to build a specialized library of open source applications targeting the needs of government workers. Its goal is to encourage specialized open source solutions throughout governmental agencies in Spain.

      The city last fall unveiled the Barcelona Digital City Plan to improve government-provided online services. The plan also supports urban technology and smart-city projects and promotes open data.

  • Programming/Development
    • An introduction to the BPF Compiler Collection

      In the previous article of this series, I discussed how to use eBPF to safely run code supplied by user space inside of the kernel. Yet one of eBPF’s biggest challenges for newcomers is that writing programs requires compiling and linking to the eBPF library from the kernel source. Kernel developers might always have a copy of the kernel source within reach, but that’s not so for engineers working on production or customer machines. Addressing this limitation is one of the reasons that the BPF Compiler Collection was created. The project consists of a toolchain for writing, compiling, and loading eBPF programs, along with example programs and battle-hardened tools for debugging and diagnosing performance issues.

      Since its release in April 2015, many developers have worked on BCC, and the 113 contributors have produced an impressive collection of over 100 examples and ready-to-use tracing tools. For example, scripts that use User Statically-Defined Tracing (USDT) probes (a mechanism from DTrace to place tracepoints in user-space code) are provided for tracing garbage collection events, method calls and system calls, and thread creation and destruction in high-level languages. Many popular applications, particularly databases, also have USDT probes that can be enabled with configuration switches like –enable-dtrace. These probes are inserted into user applications, as the name implies, statically at compile-time. I’ll be dedicating an entire LWN article to covering USDT probes in the near future.

Leftovers
  • Drone comes to the rescue of two swimmers in Australia

    One day, they may yet turn against us, but for now, they’re still our allies: A drone rescued two teenage swimmers in distress off the course of New South Wales in Australia, according to a new report. The drone spotted two teenagers in trouble around a half-a-mile out from shore, and then dropped a flotation device it carries for the purpose to give them something to hang on to (via Verge).

  • A drone has rescued two people from rough seas off the coast of Australia

    Lifeguards testing out new drone technology in Australia have saved two people stranded off the coast of New South Wales state, as spotted by Quartz. The drone footage shows a birds-eye view of the ocean before the drone ejects the yellow floatation device, which inflates when it hits the water. The two teenage boys were caught about 700 meters (0.4 miles) offshore at Lennox Head in a swell of around three meters (9.8 feet). They were able to grab onto the floatation device and swim to shore.

  • A drone was just used to rescue swimmers, and it recorded the whole event

    Lifeguards used a drone to rescue two teenagers from rough seas off the northern coast of New South Wales in Australia today (Jan. 18).

    The lifeguards happened to be piloting the new technology when they received a distress signal and deployed a drone to search for the struggling swimmers. Footage relayed from the drone camera (which can be viewed here) caught two people in distress near Lennox Head in the northern coastline of the state. The video shows the drone releasing a flotation device, which the two teenagers swam toward and clung onto as they are pounded by waves. Ben Franklin, parliamentary secretary for Northern New South Wales, said the whole process only took 70 seconds, compared to the six minutes it usually takes a lifeguard to rescue swimmers.

  • Science
    • China enters the battle for AI talent

      A mountainous district in western Beijing known for its temples and mushroom production is tipped to become China’s hub for industries based on artificial intelligence (AI). Earlier this month, the Chinese government announced that it will spend 13.8 billion yuan (US$2.1 billion) on an AI industrial park — the first major investment in its plan to become a world leader in the field by 2030.

    • Information engine operates with nearly perfect efficiency

      Physicists have experimentally demonstrated an information engine—a device that converts information into work—with an efficiency that exceeds the conventional second law of thermodynamics. Instead, the engine’s efficiency is bounded by a recently proposed generalized second law of thermodynamics, and it is the first information engine to approach this new bound.

      The results demonstrate both the feasibility of realizing a “lossless” information engine—so-called because virtually none of the available information is lost but is instead almost entirely converted into work—and also experimentally validates the sharpness of the bound set by the generalized second law.

    • State of US science enterprise report shows US leads in S&E as China rapidly advances

      According to the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Science and Engineering Indicators2018 report released today, the United States is the global leader in science and technology (S&T). However, the U.S. global share of S&T activities is declining as other nations — especially China — continue to rise.

    • China declared world’s largest producer of scientific articles

      For the first time, China has overtaken the United States in terms of the total number of science publications, according to statistics compiled by the US National Science Foundation (NSF).

      The agency’s report, released on 18 January, documents the United States’ increasing competition from China and other developing countries that are stepping up their investments in science and technology. Nonetheless, the report suggests that the United States remains a scientific powerhouse, pumping out high-profile research, attracting international students and translating science into valuable intellectual property.

    • Breakthrough study shows how plants sense the world

      Only a small portion of these sensing proteins have been studied through classical genetics, and knowledge on how these sensors function by forming complexes with one another is scarce. Now, an international team of researchers from four nations—including Shahid Mukhtar, Ph.D., and graduate student Timothy “TC” Howton at the University of Alabama at Birmingham—has created the first network map for 200 of these proteins. The map shows how a few key proteins act as master nodes critical for network integrity, and the map also reveals unknown interactions.

      “This is a pioneering work to identify the first layer of interactions among these proteins,” said Mukhtar, an assistant professor of biology in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. “An understanding of these interactions could lead to ways to increase a plant’s resistance to pathogens, or to other stresses like heat, drought, salinity or cold shock. This can also provide a roadmap for future studies by scientists around the world.”

    • Breaking the Zimmermann Telegram

      Running, Lieutenant Nigel De Grey decided as he narrowly avoided colliding with another paper-laden trolley, was not something that the corridors of the Admiralty Old Building had been designed for.

      Nor was it something that the Royal Navy approved of from its junior officers, apparently. This was clear from the angry shouts of the people he dodged as he raced down the building’s narrow back corridors.

      Right now though De Grey didn’t care. It was 17th January 1917 and Europe had been locked in a bloody stalemate for almost three years, but the scrap of paper he held in his hand might well change the outcome of the Great War.

  • Hardware
    • Designing Customizable Self-Folding Swarm Robots

      Robot swarms generally come in two flavors. You’ve got your homogenous swarms, made up of tens or hundreds or sometimes thousands of identical robots. You’ve also got your heterogenous swarms, made up of a handful (or possibly a few tens) of robots that aren’t all identical, and may in fact be significantly different. Heterogeneity is appealing, because robots are bad multitaskers, and with a heterogenous swarm you can deploy a bunch of specialists instead. Problem is, designing, constructing, and then deploying a bunch of specialists is way harder than when you’re only dealing with one type of generalist robot, which is why we don’t see large heterogeneous swarms.

    • Years after predicted “death,” game consoles are doing better than ever
  • Health/Nutrition
    • The Trump Administration Continues the Racist and Disastrous War on Pot

      The majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana. The Marijuana Justice Act will do just that.

      If polling is correct, pot no longer gives Americans fits. Recent Gallup polls indicate that 64 percent of Americans approve of legalizing marijuana — the highest level of public support in almost 50 years. Nevertheless, we have an administration that is tone deaf to the will of the people and insists on reinstituting failed policies of decades past.

      But there are members of Congress who are listening. Earlier this week, Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced the Marijuana Justice Act in the House of Representatives. Both agree that legalizing marijuana under federal law is an important step to confronting and eroding the harms that the failed war on drugs has had on people across the country, disproportionately Black and brown communities.

      In addition to legalization, the bill would cut federal funding for state law enforcement and prison construction if a state disproportionately arrests and incarcerate people of color for marijuana offenses. It also would retroactively apply to those currently serving sentences and allow people in federal prison for marijuana offenses to go to court and ask a judge to reduce their sentence.

    • ‘A Marijuana-Related Charge Can Still Impact Somebody for Life’

      But Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ stance is reflected in his declaration, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” His recent move, rescinding Obama-era guidance that had federal prosecutors take a laissez-faire approach to states, should probably be understood in that light.

      What are the possible impacts of Sessions’ animus, and what—or who—is missing from the current conversation about marijuana and its legal status? Art Way is a senior director for national criminal justice reform strategy at the Drug Policy Alliance, and state director for DPA’s Colorado office.

    • A Cheap and Easy Blood Test Could Catch Cancer Early

      A simple-to-take test that tells if you have a tumor lurking, and even where it is in your body, is a lot closer to reality—and may cost only $500.

      The new test, developed at Johns Hopkins University, looks for signs of eight common types of cancer. It requires only a blood sample and may prove inexpensive enough for doctors to give during a routine physical.

    • Antimicrobial Resistance The “Scariest” Public Health Issue, Needs Financial R&D Incentives, Industry Says

      On the eve of the annual January World Health Organization Executive Board meeting, an alliance of pharmaceutical industries launched its first report on efforts made to curb antimicrobial resistance. The alliance also organised a conference on the report and on challenges of antimicrobial resistance, in particular the need for research and development incentives so that the industry can continue its efforts sustainably. Some light was also shed on the need to support access to diagnostics, and lower their prices.

  • Security
    • Meltdown and Spectre Linux Kernel Status – Update

      I keep getting a lot of private emails about my previous post previous post about the latest status of the Linux kernel patches to resolve both the Meltdown and Spectre issues.

      These questions all seem to break down into two different categories, “What is the state of the Spectre kernel patches?”, and “Is my machine vunlerable?”

    • Security updates for Friday
    • Seeking SOS Fund Projects

      I’m spending some time over the next few days looking for the next round of projects which might benefit from an SOS Fund security audit.

    • Strong Incident Response Starts with Careful Preparation

      Through working every day with organizations’ incident response (IR) teams, I am confronted with the entire spectrum of operational maturity. However, even in the companies with robust IR functions, the rapidly evolving threat landscape, constantly changing best practices, and surplus of available tools make it easy to overlook important steps during planning. As a result, by the time an incident occurs, it’s too late to improve their foundational procedures.

    • The Intel Management Engine: an attack on computer users’ freedom

      Over time, Intel imposed the Management Engine on all Intel computers, removed the ability for computer users and manufacturers to disable it, and extended its control over the computer to nearly 100%. It even has access to the main computer’s memory.

    • What Is WPA3, and When Will I Get It On My Wi-Fi?

      WPA2 is a security standard that governs what happens when you connect to a closed Wi-Fi network using a password. WPA2 defines the protocol a router and Wi-Fi client devices use to perform the “handshake” that allows them to securely connect and how they communicate. Unlike the original WPA standard, WPA2 requires implementation of strong AES encryption that is much more difficult to crack. This encryption ensures that a Wi-Fi access point (like a router) and a Wi-Fi client (like a laptop or phone) can communicate wirelessly without their traffic being snooped on.

    • We Didn’t Pull CPU Microcode Update to Pass the Buck
    • Red Hat Will Revert Spectre Patches After Receiving Reports of Boot Issues

      Red Hat is releasing updates that are reverting previous patches for the Spectre vulnerability (Variant 2, aka CVE-2017-5715) after customers complained that some systems were failing to boot.

      “Red Hat is no longer providing microcode to address Spectre, variant 2, due to instabilities introduced that are causing customer systems to not boot,” the company said yesterday.

      “The latest microcode_ctl and linux-firmware packages are reverting these unstable microprocessor firmware changes to versions that were known to be stable and well tested, released prior to the Spectre/Meltdown embargo lift date on Jan 3rd,” Red Had added.

    • Another Face to Face: Email Changes and Crypto Policy

      The OpenSSL OMC met last month for a two-day face-to-face meeting in London, and like previous F2F meetings, most of the team was present and we addressed a great many issues. This blog posts talks about some of them, and most of the others will get their own blog posts, or notices, later. Red Hat graciously hosted us for the two days, and both Red Hat and Cryptsoft covered the costs of their employees who attended.

      One of the overall threads of the meeting was about increasing the transparency of the project. By default, everything should be done in public. We decided to try some major changes to email and such.

    • Some Basic Rules for Securing Your IoT Stuff

      Throughout 2016 and 2017, attacks from massive botnets made up entirely of hacked [sic] IoT devices had many experts warning of a dire outlook for Internet security. But the future of IoT doesn’t have to be so bleak. Here’s a primer on minimizing the chances that your IoT things become a security liability for you or for the Internet at large.

    • A look at the handling of Meltdown and Spectre

      The Meltdown/Spectre debacle has, deservedly, reached the mainstream press and, likely, most of the public that has even a remote interest in computers and security. It only took a day or so from the accelerated disclosure date of January 3—it was originally scheduled for January 9—before the bugs were making big headlines. But Spectre has been known for at least six months and Meltdown for nearly as long—at least to some in the industry. Others that were affected were completely blindsided by the announcements and have joined the scramble to mitigate these hardware bugs before they bite users. Whatever else can be said about Meltdown and Spectre, the handling (or, in truth, mishandling) of this whole incident has been a horrific failure.

      For those just tuning in, Meltdown and Spectre are two types of hardware bugs that affect most modern CPUs. They allow attackers to cause the CPU to do speculative execution of code, while timing memory accesses to deduce what has or has not been cached, to disclose the contents of memory. These disclosures can span various security boundaries such as between user space and the kernel or between guest operating systems running in virtual machines. For more information, see the LWN article on the flaws and the blog post by Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton that well describes modern CPU architectures and speculative execution to explain why the Raspberry Pi is not affected.

    • Addressing Meltdown and Spectre in the kernel

      When the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities were disclosed on January 3, attention quickly turned to mitigations. There was already a clear defense against Meltdown in the form of kernel page-table isolation (KPTI), but the defenses against the two Spectre variants had not been developed in public and still do not exist in the mainline kernel. Initial versions of proposed defenses have now been disclosed. The resulting picture shows what has been done to fend off Spectre-based attacks in the near future, but the situation remains chaotic, to put it lightly.

      First, a couple of notes with regard to Meltdown. KPTI has been merged for the 4.15 release, followed by a steady trickle of fixes that is undoubtedly not yet finished. The X86_BUG_CPU_INSECURE processor bit is being renamed to X86_BUG_CPU_MELTDOWN now that the details are public; there will be bug flags for the other two variants added in the near future. 4.9.75 and 4.4.110 have been released with their own KPTI variants. The older kernels do not have mainline KPTI, though; instead, they have a backport of the older KAISER patches that more closely matches what distributors shipped. Those backports have not fully stabilized yet either. KPTI patches for ARM are circulating, but have not yet been merged.

    • Is it time for open processors?

      The disclosure of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities has brought a new level of attention to the security bugs that can lurk at the hardware level. Massive amounts of work have gone into improving the (still poor) security of our software, but all of that is in vain if the hardware gives away the game. The CPUs that we run in our systems are highly proprietary and have been shown to contain unpleasant surprises (the Intel management engine, for example). It is thus natural to wonder whether it is time to make a move to open-source hardware, much like we have done with our software. Such a move may well be possible, and it would certainly offer some benefits, but it would be no panacea.

      Given the complexity of modern CPUs and the fierceness of the market in which they are sold, it might be surprising to think that they could be developed in an open manner. But there are serious initiatives working in this area; the idea of an open CPU design is not pure fantasy. A quick look around turns up several efforts; the following list is necessarily incomplete.

    • Notes from the Intelpocalypse

      Rumors of an undisclosed CPU security issue have been circulating since before LWN first covered the kernel page-table isolation patch set in November 2017. Now, finally, the information is out — and the problem is even worse than had been expected. Read on for a summary of these issues and what has to be done to respond to them in the kernel.
      All three disclosed vulnerabilities take advantage of the CPU’s speculative execution mechanism. In a simple view, a CPU is a deterministic machine executing a set of instructions in sequence in a predictable manner. Real-world CPUs are more complex, and that complexity has opened the door to some unpleasant attacks.

      A CPU is typically working on the execution of multiple instructions at once, for performance reasons. Executing instructions in parallel allows the processor to keep more of its subunits busy at once, which speeds things up. But parallel execution is also driven by the slowness of access to main memory. A cache miss requiring a fetch from RAM can stall the execution of an instruction for hundreds of processor cycles, with a clear impact on performance. To minimize the amount of time it spends waiting for data, the CPU will, to the extent it can, execute instructions after the stalled one, essentially reordering the code in the program. That reordering is often invisible, but it occasionally leads to the sort of fun that caused Documentation/memory-barriers.txt to be written.

    • OnePlus admits 40,000 customers were affected by credit card breach

      The findings of its ongoing investigation, which it’s carrying out with a third-party security firm, reveal that malicious script was injected into the OnePlus.net payment page code, and allowed the as-yet-unknown attackers to see customer’s credit card numbers, expiration dates, and security codes.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • NBC’s Erdoğan escape claim during coup attempt deserves top fake news award, Assange says

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday pointed out the fake news regarding defeated coup in Turkey was not mentioned in U.S. President Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed “Fake News Awards”.

      “The most serious case of recent fake news is not on Trump’s #FakeNewsAwards list. NBC substantially assisted the military coup in Turkey which killed hundreds,” Assange wrote on his official Twitter account.

      Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 others injured.

    • Trump Is Turning the State Department into a Global Weapons Dealer

      The Trump administration will soon announce its next move in the ongoing assault on diplomacy and human rights currently taking place in the United States. Through a plan dubbed “Buy American,” the administration is calling for U.S. attachés and diplomats to play a larger role in the sale of U.S. weapons, effectively solidifying their role as lobbyists for the arms industry rather than agents of diplomacy.

      This means the State Department, the agency that is meant to foster diplomatic relations and maintain peaceful engagement with other countries, will now openly operate as a weapons dealer. The administration is essentially forcing the State Department to undermine itself, as seeking out and expanding opportunities for increased weapons sales are certainly not conducive to fostering peaceful global relations.

    • Regime Change and Globalization Fuel Europe’s Refugee and Migrant Crisis

      Anti-establishment political forces in the both the United States and Europe have seized on the issue of illegal immigration, seen by many voters as a threat to both economic well-being and cultural identity, as a key components of their electoral strategies. While Donald Trump has made the wall with Mexico one of his priorities and has worked to uphold a ban on immigration from a number of Muslim nations, in Europe, numerous political parties have been following this script for many years.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • ‘Granting Ecuadorian citizenship to Assange won’t sway UK’

      A former Ecuadorian President has said the current administration’s decision to grant citizenship to WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange “will not convince the British to let him exit the UK”.

      “If that was the Foreign Ministry’s strategy, they’re quite naive.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • The trend continues, 2017 one of the hottest years on record

      2017 was once again one of the hottest years on record, ranked as the second-warmest by NASA and third-warmest by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
      The findings “continue the planet’s long-term warming trend,” according to NASA. A trend that is driven predominately by human activity through carbon dioxide emissions.

      Temperature records for the planet, monitored independently by both agencies, go back to 1880. The announcement came at a joint press conference on Thursday in Washington.
      The hottest year on record remains 2016, while 2015 ranks second according to NOAA and third by NASA, which means the top three years have been the most recent three.

  • Finance
    • ‘Entire aisles are empty’: Whole Foods employees reveal why stores are facing a crisis of food shortages

      Whole Foods is facing a crush of food shortages in stores that’s leading to empty shelves, furious customers, and frustrated employees.

      Many customers are blaming Amazon, which bought Whole Foods in August for $13.7 billion. Analysts have speculated that the shortages could be due to a spike in shopper traffic in the wake of the acquisition.

    • UMich Confidence Tumbles – Economic Conditions Hit 14-Month Low

      Tax reform was spontaneously mentioned by 34% of all respondents; 70% of those who mentioned tax reform thought the impact would be positive, and 18% said it would be negative.

      The disconnect between the future outlook assessment and the largely positive view of the tax reform is due to uncertainties about the delayed impact of the tax reforms on the consumers. Some of the uncertainty is related to how much a cut or an increase people, especially high income households who live in high-tax states, face.

      Six-in-ten consumers reported that the pace of economic growth had recently improved in early January. While the majority expected good economic times during the year ahead, half of all consumers anticipated a growth slowdown during the next five years.

    • Chinese investment in the US crashed in Trump’s first year in office

      Chinese investment in the United States plummeted in 2017, a product of policies stemming both from Beijing and Washington. The drop comes after 2016’s record levels of foreign direct investment (FDI) from China in the US, and looks set to continue this year.

      According to research firm Rhodium Group, in 2017 Chinese investment in the United States reached $29 billion in consummated deals, marking a 35% decrease from the year prior.

    • What Silicon Valley Tech Jobs Pay the Highest Salaries?

      Indeed.com just released its 2017 Silicon Valley salary survey, looking at which tech jobs command the highest average pay over the past year, according to job openings posted on the job search firm’s web site from November 2016 through October 2017.

      Product development engineer claimed the number one spot, with an average salary of US $173,570, and director of product management was just a few dollars behind, with an average salary of $173,556.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Why People Dislike Really Smart Leaders
    • Twitter says it exposed nearly 700,000 people to Russian propaganda during US election

      Twitter this evening released a new set of statistics related to its investigation on Russia propaganda efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election, including that 677,775 people were exposed to social media posts from more than 50,000 automated accounts with links to the Russian government. Many of the new accounts uncovered have been traced back to an organization called the the Internet Research Agency, or IRA, with known ties to the Kremlin.

    • Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: Democratic Party Faces Reckoning for Purging Sanders Supporters

      As President Trump completes his first year in office, activists in cities across the country will hold mass protests Saturday on the first anniversary of the historic Women’s March. This comes as a slew of lawmakers have joined members of the Black Congressional Caucus in backing a resolution to censure President Trump over his racist comments in which the president reportedly used an expletive to refer to African nations, El Salvador and Haiti. Several Democratic lawmakers say they will also skip the State of the Union address on January 30 over Trump’s racist remarks. Meanwhile, Trump himself denies being a racist, claiming on Sunday that he is “the least racist person.” To discuss Trump’s first year in office, the direction of the Democratic Party and where racial justice movements go from here, we are joined by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, assistant professor of African American studies at Princeton University. She is the author of “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation” and editor of a new collection of essays titled “How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective.”

    • House Spending Bill Changes Law to Let Trump Administration Secretly Shift Intelligence Money

      The House spending bill released Wednesday would allow President Donald Trump, or people under him, to secretly shift money to fund intelligence programs, a break with 70 years of governing tradition.

      Since 1947, section 504 of the National Security Act has mandated that the administration inform Congress if it intends to shift money from one intelligence project to another, if the new project has not been authorized by Congress. That notification can be — and almost always is — done in secret, but it is at least a minimal check on executive power.

      The spending bill currently under consideration, known as a continuing resolution, or CR, breaks with that tradition, allowing funds to “be obligated and expended notwithstanding section 504(a)(1) of the National Security Act of 1947.”

    • Who Trump Is Putting in Power
    • Watchdogging a Nonprofit Watchdog

      Earlier this week, we published a story with the Chicago Sun-Times that identifies a right-leaning public policy organization as the primary source of money behind Project Six, a Chicago-based nonprofit that investigates government waste, fraud and abuse.

      Project Six is led by former Chicago City Council inspector general Faisal Khan, who says the group is independent and nonpartisan — even though 98 percent of the funds it received during its first year came from the Illinois Policy Institute. The institute’s crusades for small government, lower taxes and reduced labor-union power are highly influential within the state Republican Party.

      Determining who funded Project Six took several steps, as well as some luck.

    • Russian Politician Who Reportedly Sent Millions to NRA Has Long History in Spain

      As the Spanish police investigated the presence of a notorious Russian organized crime group on the resort island of Mallorca in 2012, they realized that a key figure described by some of the suspects as their “godfather” was a powerful Moscow politician: Alexander Torshin.

      Spanish prosecutors decided in the summer of 2013 to arrest Torshin, who was then a senator, officials say. Police set up an operation to capture him during a visit to Mallorca, but he mysteriously canceled the trip at the last minute, apparently as the result of a tip, authorities said. Torshin was never charged, while the other suspects were convicted of money laundering. Last year, he publicly denied any wrongdoing in the Spanish money-laundering case.

    • The Stormy Daniels story should be a bigger deal

      Donald Trump’s personal lawyer formed a private company just before the 2016 election to pay $130,000 in exchange for a porn star’s silence about her alleged 2006 relationship with the now-President of the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal.

      That seems like a big story, no? And yet, while it’s drawn some attention — particularly in the wake of the Journal’s latest reporting Thursday about the private company — it appears to not be moving the needle much with the public.

    • A record $107 million was raised for Trump’s inauguration. So where did it all go? No one will say.

      Nearly a year after President Trump’s inauguration, the committee that raised a record $106.7 million for the event has not disclosed how much surplus money it still has or provided a final accounting of its finances.

      “We must decline comment at this time,” Kristin Celauro, a spokeswoman for the inaugural committee’s chairman, Thomas Barrack, said this week in response to a USA TODAY inquiry about the committee’s finances.

      Barrack, a California investment manager and longtime Trump friend, has said consistently that remaining funds would go charity. He announced plans in September to give $3 million to three non-profit groups —The American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse — to help with hurricane relief efforts and said the committee planned more contributions “that serve America’s agenda.”

    • Election season in Russia: violent acts and criminal cases against rights defenders, political activists

      Russia’s presidential elections are drawing close and the machinery of repression, which is working overtime, has apparently no intention to stop. We continue to cover these events.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Sudan Jails Journalists in New Sign of Repression

      Press advocates said Friday that the arrests, carried out by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service, reflected an increasingly repressive censorship in the vast African nation, where news media independence has long been under assault.

    • Catalan teacher denies hate speech accusations at court
    • Facebook to start ranking news outlets on community trust

      Publishers with higher ratings will get priority in users’ news feeds, a move that the company says will cut down on “sensationalism, misinformation and polarization” in the media.

    • Facebook is going to start surveying users to determine trustworthy news sources
    • 5 Questions About Facebook’s Plan to Rate Media by ‘Trustworthiness’

      But we don’t know who will be responsible for this yet. This should be a public matter, given its import to the public sphere.

    • Facebook’s Latest Fix for Fake News: Ask Users What They Trust

      The vetting process will happen through Facebook’s ongoing quality surveys — the same surveys it uses to ask whether Facebook is a force for good in the world and whether the company seems to care about its users. Now, Facebook will ask users if they are familiar with a news source and, if so, whether they trust the source.

    • Southwest’s Bullshit Lawsuit Over A Site That Made $45 Helping People Book Cheaper Flights

      In the past, I’ve been a pretty big fan of Southwest Airlines. On many routes it has been my first choice for flights. However, after digging into a new lawsuit the company filed earlier this month, I’m pretty close to swearing off Southwest forever. I can’t support this kind of bullshit legal bullying. First off, Southwest does have a bit of history legally bullying sites that improve the Southwest experience. Back when your seating on Southwest really depended on how close to 24 hours prior to your flight that you checked in, there were a few services that would automate checking you in at exactly the 24 hour mark, and Southwest sued to shut them down. The company has also threatened tools that merely scraped Southwest fares — which could be kind of useful, since Southwest doesn’t share its shares with popular flight info aggregators like Kayak and Expedia.

      It is somewhat questionable whether or not Southwest actually has a legal right to block that — pricing info is not covered by copyright — but there are lots of attempts these days to twist laws to argue that merely putting something in a terms of service is enough to create a legal obligation.

      Enter a new site: SWMonkey.com. The idea behind the site is fairly simple. Because Southwest Airlines (unlike basically every other airline) actually has no fees to change your flight, if you spot your same flight available for less, you can call Southwest and basically exchange your ticket for the new ticket and get credit for future flights (and sometimes even cash back). Southwest, of course, relies heavily on the idea that not many people take advantage of this. SWMonkey’s clever idea was to monitor price changes for you, and alert you if the price on your flight dropped significantly. The site charged a $3 fee if it could save you $10 or more.

    • The Rapid Rise of Censorship in Southeast Asia

      The number of blocked sites, as documented by independent internet monitors, is on the rise in nearly every Southeast Asian nation, part of a wider downturn in freedom of information across the region. What started out as a move to limit access to certain “illicit” sites, such as those hosting pornography or copyrighted content, has morphed into broad, unchecked power by each country’s internet governing agencies to block access to sites with little, if any, oversight, and increasingly, arrest citizens for what they post on social media.

      “Censorship is on the rise and internet freedom is declining in Southeast Asia,” said Madeline Earp, Asia research analyst with Freedom House. “We [are] seeing that with some specific tactics – website blocking, arrests, cyber attacks, other rights violations.”

    • Russian Censorship Scandal Forces Ministry to Reissue Paddington 2 License

      A British family comedy about a friendly bear has sparked an unlikely scandal over government discrimination against foreign films in Russia this week.

      Russian cinemas were left dumbfounded after the Culture Ministry delayed issuing a screening license for “Paddington 2,” one day before it was scheduled to be released in theaters. The ministry said it delayed the Jan. 18 screening until Feb. 1 because of another film scheduled to premiere on the same day, the film’s distributor told the Kommersant business daily.

    • New Climate Censorship Tracker Comes Online

      Columbia University and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund today launched an online tracker of the Trump administration’s crackdown on climate science.

      The project, called the Silencing Science Tracker, has so far assembled 96 entries of federal restrictions or prohibitions on climate science since November 2016. The database is built from media reports, and it’s searchable by agency, date and type of action.

      More than half the entries are listed as censorship, either from government restriction or researchers who are self-censoring. Other instances include targeted personnel changes, budget cuts and other federal actions aimed at minimizing or hindering climate research. The project also links to resources for whistleblowers and legal help.

    • Trump has tried to restrict science almost 100 times already.

      The online resource is a joint project of Columbia’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit originally created in 2011 to defend scientists from what at the time seemed like the biggest threat facing the climate science community: legal attacks against individual scientists by conservative groups. The group’s priorities have shifted somewhat since Trump’s election. “Political and ideological attacks on science have a long and shameful history, and such attacks are the most dangerous when carried out or condoned by government authorities,” said Lauren Kurtz, CSLDF’s executive director.

      To be included in the Silencing Science Tracker, a federal government action must have the effect of “prohibiting scientific research, education or discussion, or the publication or use of scientific information,” the site says. The tracker divides actions into six broad categories, and includes Trump’s appointments of unqualified nominees to science-related posts, the removal of various climate references from executive agency websites, and suspensions on scientific research. The category with the most entries is “government censorship,” which includes 40 instances when the administration changed website content, restricted public communication by scientists, or made data more difficult to access.

    • The Constant Pressure For YouTube To Police ‘Bad’ Content Means That It’s Becoming A Gatekeeper

      For many, many years we’ve talked about how people were wrong to say that the internet “cut out middlemen” because there are still plenty of middlemen around. Instead, what was important was that the type of middlemen were changing. Specifically, we were moving from an age of gatekeepers to an age of enablers. And the difference here is profound. Gatekeepers keep out most people who want to use their platforms. Think: record labels or movie studios. Most people who wanted to become musicians just a couple of decades ago were not able to. Record labels would not sign them, and without a recording deal, your chance of making any money was just about nil. A few people were signed, a very few of those that signed would make lots of money, the rest would make a little money, and everyone who didn’t sign would make basically nothing. The “curve” of how much money people made trying to become musicians was not very smooth. You had a few at the top end, and a giant cliff down to basically zero if you couldn’t get past the gatekeeper.

      But the internet changed that in a massive way. Anyone could start using the various internet platforms to release their content, to build an audience, and to make some money. There remain complaints from some that the amount most users make isn’t very much, but that ignores that under the previous gatekeeper system, that amount was almost certainly zero for the vast majority of people who wished to make money from their creative endeavors. With various internet services — Kickstarter, Patreon, Spotify, YouTube, etc. — artists could at least make more than zero.

      There has been some fear that yesterday’s enablers would turn into tomorrow’s gatekeepers. Unfortunately, one of the most disturbing aspects of what’s happening with the internet these days is that more and more people seem to be pressuring these enabling services to become gatekeepers and to lock out smaller creators, out of this new fear that some people shouldn’t be allowed to use these platforms to make any money at all.

    • The Pentagon Papers Team Tells How The Times Defied Censorship

      Four alumni of The New York Times met Tuesday on Facebook Live to recount the dramatic events surrounding our 1971 publication of the Pentagon Papers, a watershed moment in the history of press freedom.

      The Washington Post’s publication of the Pentagon Papers returned to the national spotlight with the release last week of the feature film “The Post.” But The Times was the first to publish portions of the Papers, starting June 13, 1971. We published three articles over a period of two days before a federal court ordered us to stop. On July 1, 1971, we resumed publication after winning a landmark Supreme Court decision.

    • Palestinians fight Facebook, YouTube censorship

      Amid an ever-shrinking space for dissenting Palestinian voices, a new initiative sets out to recover some of the ground lost online.

      Sada Social, a group launched in September by three Palestinian journalists, aims to document “violations against Palestinian content” on social networks such as Facebook and YouTube, and to liaise with its executives to restore some of the pages and accounts that have been shut down.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • The omnipresent Seth Moulton is reluctant to explain his NSA vote

      Whether he’s trolling the president on Twitter or lambasting him on cable news, the congressman from the North Shore has been one of the most vocal critics of the year-old Trump administration, on grounds of both policy and character. In a radio interview over the summer, Moulton said Trump “lies all the time.” In the spring he called for the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    • The NSA knows who you are just by the sound of your voice—and their tech predates Apple and Amazon

      For technology users who have marveled at the ability of Siri or Alexa to recognize their voice, consider this: The National Security Agency has apparently been way ahead of Apple or Amazon.

      The agency has at its disposal voice recognition technology that it employs to identify terrorists, government spies, or anyone they choose — with just a phone call, according to a report by The Intercept. The disclosure was revealed in a recently published article, part of a trove of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

      The publication wrote that by using recorded audio, the NSA is able to create a “voiceprint,” or a map of qualities that mark a voice as singular, and identify the person speaking. The documents also suggest the agency is continuously improving its speech recognition capabilities, the publication noted.

    • Julian Assange Senses ‘Political Propaganda’ as Amazon’s Alexa Becomes Feminist

      Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa has just received an enhanced personality: now, not only can she give you the correct answers, but can even offer a response in case of insults and personal attacks. Creators also expect that she could potentially express her own opinions on certain political issues, a move that has prompted criticism.

    • Aadhar Services Suspended In AP?
    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (12/21): Our parents bought things untracked, their footsteps in store weren’t recorded

      Yes, this kind of people tracking is documented to have been already rolled out citywide in at least one small city in a remote part of the world (Västerås, Sweden). With the government’s Privacy Oversight Board having shrugged and said “fine, whatever”, don’t expect this to stay in the small town of Västerås. Correction, wrong tense: don’t expect it to have stayed in just Västerås, where it was greenlit three years ago.

    • The Last Government Shutdown Rocked The NSA. Another Will Only Increase The Suffering.
    • NSA failed to preserve some data related to surveillance court case: report
    • NSA erased surveillance data related to pending lawsuits: Report
    • NSA deleted surveillance data it pledged to preserve

      The National Security Agency destroyed surveillance data it pledged to preserve in connection with pending lawsuits and apparently never took some of the steps it told a federal court it had taken to make sure the information wasn’t destroyed, according to recent court filings.

    • NSA Deleted Surveillance Data It Promised To Keep

      According to recent court filings viewed by Politico, The National Security Agency destroyed surveillance data it had promised to preserve in connection with pending lawsuits. Additionally, the NSA reportedly did not take steps it had told a federal court it was taking in order to ensure that the information was not destroyed. The NSA told U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in a filing this week that it did not preserve internet communications that were intercepted between 2001 and 2007, as part of a set of court orders regarding surveillance efforts during the Bush administration. “NSA senior management is fully aware of this failure, and the Agency is committed to taking swift action to respond to the loss of this data,” NSA’s deputy director of capabilities wrote in a court document.

    • AT&T prevails in fight for classified NSA IT contract

      AT&T has prevailed in a bid protest battle over a lucrative and classified National Security Agency contract.

      The $2.5 billion ontract is part of NSA’s work to recompete the multi-billion dollar Groundbreaker IT infrastructure contract held by CSRA.

    • Trump signs bill extending NSA’s warrantless surveillance
    • Trump signs renewal of NSA’s surveillance program
    • Trump Signs Bill Renewing Warrantless NSA Surveillance
    • Trump signs bill renewing NSA’s internet surveillance program
    • Trump Signs Bill Renewing NSA’s Internet Surveillance Programme
    • Trump renews NSA internet surveillance program for six more years
    • Trump Signs Bill Renewing NSA’s Internet Surveillance Program
    • NSA surveillance programs live on, in case you hadn’t noticed

      For all the controversial issues US lawmakers have debated lately, there was one bill that made it through both houses of Congress and on to President Donald Trump with little fanfare.

      There was so little fuss around its passing, you might be surprised to hear the law renews two government surveillance programs that less than five years ago caused public outcry and panic.

      They’re the US National Security Agency’s Prism and Upstream programs, both of which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed to journalists in 2013. The law that authorizes those programs were set to expire Friday, but Congress renewed them with little difficulty.

      Did privacy advocates put up a fight? Yes. But what debate there was focused on reforming a narrow aspect of the programs, and that effort made too few inroads in Congress to get results.

    • EFF Asks Ninth Circuit Appeals Court To Strengthen Privacy Protections Of Smart Phones At The Border

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to require federal agents to obtain a warrant before conducting highly intrusive searches of electronic devices at the border by requiring federal agents to obtain a warrant if they want to access the contents of travelers’ phones.

      “The Ninth Circuit four years ago issued an important ruling requiring officials to show they have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to forensically search digital devices. While that was an improvement over the government’s prior practice of conducting suspicionless searches, the court didn’t go far enough,” said EFF Staff Attorney Sophia Cope. “We are now asking the Ninth Circuit to bar warrantless device searches at the border.”

    • Dark Caracal: Good News and Bad News

      Yesterday, EFF and Lookout announced a new report, Dark Caracal, that uncovers a new, global malware espionage campaign. One aspect of that campaign was the use of malicious, fake apps to impersonate legitimate popular apps like Signal and WhatsApp. Some readers had questions about what this means for them. This blog post is here to answer those questions and dive further into the Dark Caracal report.

      First, the good news: Dark Caracal does not mean that Signal or WhatsApp themselves are compromised in any way. It only means that attackers found new, insidious ways to create and distribute fake Android versions of them. (iOS is not affected.) If you downloaded your apps from Google’s official app store, Google Play, then you are almost certainly in the clear. The threat uncovered in the Dark Caracal report referred to “trojanized” apps, which are fake apps that pretend to look like real, trusted ones. These malicious spoofs often ask for excessive permissions and carry malware. Such spoofed versions of Signal and WhatsApp were involved in the Dark Caracal campaign.

    • Forget About Siri and Alexa — When It Comes to Voice Identification, the “NSA Reigns Supreme”

      AT THE HEIGHT of the Cold War, during the winter of 1980, FBI agents recorded a phone call in which a man arranged a secret meeting with the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C. On the day of his appointment, however, agents were unable to catch sight of the man entering the embassy. At the time, they had no way to put a name to the caller from just the sound of his voice, so the spy remained anonymous. Over the next five years, he sold details about several secret U.S. programs to the USSR.

    • Can you hear me now?: NSA can find & track people with ‘voice-matching technology’

      Declassified documents reveal the National Security Agency has been using secret “speaker recognition” technology to identify people by their unique “voiceprint” for more than a decade.

      The NSA has been recording and gathering private phone calls for years, but it used to be difficult for the agency to identify unknown speakers. In the past, signals intelligence (SIGINT) transcribers worked on the same targets for years before they became familiar enough with a speaker’s unique voice to be able to verify their identity.

    • Congress demanded NSA spying reform. Instead, they let you down

      For the first time in five years, since the Edward Snowden disclosures that exposed the NSA’s mass surveillance powers and programs, lawmakers had an opportunity this month to rein in and reform the bulk of the government’s powers.

    • Senate Passes Legislation That Allows NSA to Keep Spying on Americans

      The Senate affirmed the legality of the NSA’s warrant-free surveillance activities on Thursday with a six-year renewal of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

      Section 702 allows the NSA to obtain the communications of foreign targets for national security purposes. This law provided the legal backing for the PRISM program that Edward Snowden brought to national attention in 2013 when he leaked classified NSA documents.

      The legislation passed with a 65-34 vote.

    • #FISA: Senate passes bill to give NSA 6 more years of warrantless surveillance on Americans

      The U.S. Senate today passed a bill that will renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program for six years with no substantive changes. It’s bad news, say privacy and security advocates, but not a surprise.

      The re-up gives NSA powers that were first granted in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Opponents argued that FISA section 702, as the section of law is known, allows the NSA and other agencies to spy on Americans in a way that violates principles protected by the U.S. Constitution.

    • Lebanese security agency turns smartphone into selfie spycam: researchers

      Lebanon’s General Directorate of General Security (GDGS) has run more than 10 campaigns since at least 2012 aimed mainly at Android phone users in at least 21 countries, according to a report by mobile security firm Lookout and digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

      The cyber attacks, which seized control of Android smartphones, allowed the hackers [sic] to turn them into victim-monitoring devices and steal any data from them undetected, the researchers said on Thursday. No evidence was found that Apple (AAPL.O) phone users were targeted, something that may simply reflect the popularity of Android in the Middle East.

    • In the age of algorithms, would you hire a personal shopper to do your music discovery for you?
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Is the Porn Industry Doing Enough For Performers’ Mental Health?

      But the rash of sudden, consecutive deaths has prompted some performers to call for change in an industry with a low barrier to entry, minimal oversight and nearly non-existent job security despite extreme working conditions. Unlike pre-Internet porn stars, performers today face the added pressures of social media interactions, increased competition without increased pay and a demand for more physically taxing sex scenes – all of which can exacerbate existing mental health or substance abuse issues. So is the adult industry doing enough to protect its performers?

    • EXCLUSIVE: Snap Threatens Jail Time for Leakers

      The chief lawyer and general counsel of Snapchat’s parent company, Michael O’Sullivan, sent a threatening memo to all employees last week just before The Daily Beast published an explosive story with confidential user metrics about how certain Snapchat features are used.

    • Jeffrey Sterling, Convicted of Leaking About Botched CIA Program, Has Been Released From Prison

      JEFFREY STERLING, THE former CIA agent convicted under the Espionage Act for talking to a New York Times reporter, has been released from prison after serving more than two years of his 42-month sentence, and is now in a halfway house.

      Sterling’s case drew nationwide attention because the Obama-era Department of Justice unsuccessfully tried to force the reporter, James Risen, to divulge the identity of his sources for “State of War,” a book in which he revealed the CIA had botched a covert operation against Iran’s nuclear program. Risen reported that instead of undermining the Iranians, the CIA had provided them with useful information on how to build a nuclear bomb. (Risen is now The Intercept’s senior national security correspondent and directs First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund.)

      The case had a racial dimension, too. Sterling, who had joined the agency in 1993, was one of the few black undercover operatives at the CIA. After several years of what he believed was discriminatory treatment, he filed a complaint against the agency, and then a lawsuit. The CIA fired Sterling in 2002, and his lawsuit was blocked by the courts after the government argued successfully that proceeding with the suit would expose state secrets.

    • Trump Administration to Deny Temporary Work Visas to Haitians

      The Trump administration has removed Haitians from eligibility under a pair of U.S. visa programs that offer immigrants a chance to work in low-wage jobs. In a regulatory filing, the Department of Homeland Security said this week Haitians will no longer be allowed to obtain H-2A agricultural and H-2B non-agricultural temporary work permits. In explaining its move, the DHS cited what it called “high levels of fraud and abuse” committed by Haitians. In November, President Trump ended temporary protected status—or TPS—for nearly 60,000 Haitians, many of whom came to the United States after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

    • Trump’s Pick to Oversee Civil Rights in Schools Has a History of Attacking Civil Rights

      Marcus is laissez-faire about enforcing laws to protect marginalized groups, but crusades against those who criticize Israel.

      The Senate committee overseeing education voted yesterday, on party lines, to confirm President Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. His nomination will now proceed to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote. Given the significance of the role in the protection of the rights of young people, senators should take a close look at Kenneth L. Marcus’s record before voting.

      While the ACLU does not support or oppose any nomination for any government office, we strongly urge all senators to oppose moving forward on the nomination at least until they have had a meaningful opportunity to review and debate Marcus’s full record on civil rights.

      Marcus’s past actions raise serious concerns about whether he will responsibly exercise his authority to protect the civil rights of students. In previous government positions, he has led political attacks on programs designed to ameliorate the historic effects of discrimination. More recently, he has played a central role in advocating for the suppression of student speech — particularly speech critical of Israel.

    • Dashcam Recording Instantly Undercuts Officers’ Concocted Reason For A Traffic Stop

      Dashcams — unlike body cameras — have been around for years. So while it might be understandable an officer could forget his actions are being documented by his new-ish body camera– say, when he heads into an alley to plant evidence — it’s difficult to draw the same conclusion when an officer apparently forgets his dashcam is recording his bogus traffic stop.

      In a criminal case resulting in suppressed evidence, Officer William Davis of the Dayton (OH) Police seems to have done exactly that. His bogus traffic stop resulted in the discovery of marijuana and a firearm, but none of that matters now. What was captured by his cruiser’s dashcam undercut his assertions and sworn testimony. That has lead to an Ohio appeals court’s memorable decision, in which it’s declared the lower court was correct to rely on dashcam footage — rather than the officer’s testimony — when the two narratives diverged. (via FourthAmendment.com)

    • Chinese SWAT team detains outspoken rights lawyer Yu Wensheng hours after he called for constitutional reform

      Chinese authorities detained a prominent human rights lawyer on Friday, people familiar with the case said, just hours after he provided journalists with a letter calling for constitutional reform.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Apple’s Incoherent App Approval Process Strikes Again, Net Neutrality App Banned For No Real Reason

      Neither Apple nor Verizon were willing to comment about the apparently arbitrary ban, raising obvious questions about transparency. These sort of tools are, it should go without saying, going to be important as the government increasingly makes it clear it has zero real intention of protecting consumers from lumbering, predatory telecom duopolies eager to abuse a lack of sector competition for additional financial gain. With government now sitting on its hands in fealty to telecom providers, the onus is on the consumer to do due diligence regarding their own connections.

      According to FCC boss Ajit Pai, public shame alone is supposed to help hold ISPs accountable in the wake of federal apathy to the net neutrality violations caused by a lack of broadband competition:

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Miami Law Startup Students Can Now Appear Before The USPTO

      Professor Dan Ravicher, who has represented startup companies and investors since for over two decades, leads the Startup Practicum. He is also a registered patent attorney, who has prosecuted, licensed and litigated patents and other intellectual property like software copyrights. Ravicher is an entrepreneur himself, founding businesses in various industries.

    • Teaching IP to kids with Ed Shearling, Kitty Perry and friends

      Many people have puzzled over how to educate the public about intellectual property. This task is even harder when trying to educate children. The UK IPO believes it has found a solution…

      Children like cartoons, so they made a cartoon about IP told through the story of Nancy (a French bulldog) and her gang of meerkats. There are lots of videos and other resources in the series but the episode which caught the attention of the BBC concerns logos…

    • UK Begins Absolutely Bonkers ‘Education’ Of Grade Schoolers About Intellectual Property And Piracy

      Several years ago, a music industry transplant into Parliament, Mike Weatherley, made a glorious push to get the government to invade primary schools in the country to teach them that piracy is the worst thing in the world and intellectual property laws are super cool. Children as young as seven years old would be subjected to “educational information” provided by the government on the “proper” use of the internet. This was not the first attempt at pushing copyright propaganda on kids. In fact, we’ve reported on many of these, going all the way back to 2003 — and many of the programs have been mockable, including the infamous Captain Copyright.

    • UK Government Teaches 7-Year-Olds That Piracy is Stealing

      The UK Government has expanded its copyright curriculum for small children, targeting them from the age of just five years old. By using cartoon videos with fictitious characters such as Kitty Perry, Ed Shealing, and Justin Beaver, it aims to educate kids on key intellectual property issues, including illegal downloading.

    • Google, Tencent Agree to Share Patents in Global Tech Alliance

      Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Tencent Holdings Ltd. have agreed to share patents covering a range of products and technologies, an alliance between two of the world’s largest corporations.

      The cross-licensing deal comes with an understanding that the search giant and Tencent — the world’s second largest and fifth largest company, respectively — will team up on developing future technologies. The agreement may smooth the U.S. company’s business in China while helping Tencent’s push to expand beyond its dominant position on the mainland.

      The agreement is a typical industry arrangement between corporations designed to minimize patent infringements, with the U.S. company signing similar deals with Samsung Electronics Co. and others.

    • Patent Deal Struck Between Google And Tencent
    • Google and China’s Tencent in patent cross-licensing deal
    • Alphabet’s Google Signs Patent Licensing Deal With Tencent
    • China: Tencent and Google to Share Patents of Products, Technologies
    • Google takes a big step in China and Tencent joins the patent licensing world in major cross-licence deal

      Google and Tencent have announced a patent cross-licence deal that they say will pave the way for future technology collaboration. The pact is said to be “long term” and covering “a wide range of products and technologies”. Beyond that there are no details, including on whether the licence is royalty-bearing.

      [...]

      For Alphabet’s Google business, the patent cross-licence is its first in China. In the region, Google did deals with Android partners Samsung and LG back in 2014. Last year it agreed to a licence as part of a $1.1 billion buy-out of the HTC research team working on its Pixel devices. In China, where many of the biggest makers of Android devices are now based, only Coolpad was announced as a member of the Android Networked Cross-License (PAX).

    • Prosecution history – as relevant as any inventor evidence?

      Readers interested in patent law will be familiar with last summer’s decision of the UK Supreme Court in Actavis v Eli Lilly [2017] UKSC 48. This has raised a number of issues, including whether the Supreme Court decision opens the door to greater use of the file history in the UK.

    • Trademarks
      • easyGroup loses trade mark fight against EasyRoommate

        A property letting business called EasyRoommate does not infringe any of the easy trade marks owned by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s easyGroup, according to a judgment by Mr Justice Arnold in the England and Wales High Court

    • Copyrights
      • Sequel To ‘Man From Earth’ To Be Released On Pirate Sites By Its Creators

        While we cover much here in terms of content creators actually embracing what the internet can do for them rather than fighting what is essentially mere reality, some stories truly do stand out more than others. If you aren’t familiar with the story of the film The Man From Earth, you should read up on it because it’s plainly fascinating. The sci-fi film was directed by Richard Schenkman on a fairly barebones budget and set for the sort of release that these types of independent films tend to get.

        And then somebody put a screener DVD up on The Pirate Bay and the film became known in a way it never would have otherwise.

      • EFF Tells Court That Boing Boing Linking To Playboy Images Is Not Infringement

        Back in November, we wrote about a fairly crazy case in which Playboy Enterprises was suing the blog Boing Boing for copyright infringement, over a post by Xeni Jardin, linking to a collection of all Playboy centerfold images on Imgur (and a video version on YouTube). As we wrote in our post, this seemed like a very strange hill for Playboy to die on, given that Boing Boing clearly did not post the images, but merely linked to them, meaning that it was pretty clearly not infringement. There were some really strange arguments in the complaint, and the initial reporting on it that we saw was really bad — falsely claiming the lawsuit said that Boing Boing “stole every centerfold ever.” But, of course, there was no stealing at all. Just linking.

      • Now Another Judge Smacks Around A Guardaley Shell Company Acting As A Copyright Troll

        While we were just discussing Judge Zilly in California smacking around one of the front-attorneys for a shell-company of the infamous Guardaley company (which pretends to be able to detect copyright infringement from Germany) another case was working its way through the courts. Judge Zilly focused his efforts on just how little evidence there is for the actual existence of many of the shell and parent companies that show up with Guardaley evidence, as well as whether or not Guardaley’s “experts” even actually “exist.” This other case in Oregon seems to have pointed out that yet another Guardaley front company can’t even get the basics of standing in copyright law right and may well have tried to fool the court into thinking it had standing when it didn’t.

      • Linking Is Not Copyright Infringement, Boing Boing Tells Court

        The popular blog Boing Boing has asked a federal court in California to drop the copyright infringement lawsuit filed against it by Playboy. With help from the EFF, Boing Boing argues that its article linking to an archive of hundreds of centerfold playmates is clearly fair use. Or else it will be “the end of the web as we know it,” the blog warns.

      • Hollywood Asks New UK Culture Secretary To Fight Online Piracy

        Stan McCoy, president of the Motion Picture Association’s EMEA division, has penned an open letter to the UK’s new culture secretary Matt Hancock. McCoy implies that more can be done to tackle online piracy, including dealing with pirate sites and illicit streaming devices. Considering the UK already has a considerable track record tackling all of these things, an eyebrow or two might be raised.

Blockchain Patents Are a Catastrophe in the Making as Trolls and Aggressors Accumulate Them

Saturday 20th of January 2018 09:12:52 PM

Related: Blockstream Has No Patents, But Pledges Not to Sue Using Patents


Reference: Marathon Patent Group: Massively Overvalued

Summary: As patents pertaining to blockchains continue to be granted — even in defiance of Alice/Section 101 — it seems likely that patent wars will sooner or later erupt, involving some large banks, IBM, and patent trolls associated with the notorious Erich Spangenberg

THE emergence of digital currencies (also known as cryptocurrencies) brought rise to blockchains — a concept whose explanation ought to quickly reveal to anyone that it boils down to software and is thus not eligible for patents (except maybe in China).

There is a growing threat now; that threat isn’t FUD or “hacks” or “collapse” or whatever; patent parasites are like hawks waiting to attack digital currencies. See “Patent Strategies for Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Technology” [PDF] and all sorts of articles from media of patent maximalists. They’re waiting to initiate something similar to and barely distinguishable from patent wars in mobile phones. Jon Calvert of ClearViewIP, for example, is quoted alongside a bunch of patent law firms. They all defend the ‘screwing’ of blockchains with a vast thicket of software patents. To quote:

The bigger tech companies, the IBMs of this world, are trying to create blockchain infrastructure that can be used by corporate enterprises or financial institutions. They want to charge for software as a service. By having patent protected technology, they can argue that theirs is the best, the most valuable, or the most valid, which makes them more credible. These are also the people who are more likely to use their patents aggressively later, when they’ve got a strong portfolio. If you look at Microsoft, they were probably filing blockchain patents almost a decade ago.

IBM’s role was noted here many times before; don’t be misled by the reformed IBM of Samuel J. Palmisano. The company has become not only a patent bully (again) but also the leading lobbyist for software patents worldwide. The other day the corporate media published an article (puff piece) titled “IBM Fueling 2018 Cloud Growth With 1900 Cloud Patents Plus Blazingly Fast AI-Optimized Chip” (emphasis on patents, which are basically software patents disguised as “cloud”). Such patents PR (and dumb new headline from Forbes) helps reveal what IBM has in its field of vision. IBM isn’t eager to transition the whole world to Bitcoin or anything remotely like that. Blockchain patents are a looming storm which trolls too wish to participate in. It was mentioned the other day by IBM and even the Linux Foundation speaks about it:

IBM and A.P. Moeller-Maersk on Tuesday announced a joint venture to create a platform based on Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, with the goal of creating huge efficiencies in the global supply chain. IBM and Maersk have teamed up to provide a more efficient method of standardizing shipping logistics using blockchain technology. “Adoption of Hyperledger Fabric by Maersk and … IBM has the potential to remake the shipping sector landscape and its use of information technology,” said Brian Behlendorf, executive director of The Linux Foundation.

In Bloomberg, on Tuesday, a less Linux-centric article was published and iophk, our reader, said that “this guarantees that blockchain advancements will occur outside the US” (that’s the effect of overpatenting). To quote Bloomberg:

Bank of America Corp. may not be willing to help customers invest in Bitcoin, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t plowing into the technology underlying the cryptocurrency.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender has applied for or received at least 43 patents for blockchain, the ledger technology used for verifying and recording transactions that’s at the heart of virtual currencies. It is the largest number among major banks and technology companies, according to a study by EnvisionIP, a New York-based law firm that specializes in analyses of intellectual property.

It’s all about patents; The Linux Foundation plays along because its initiative, Hyperledger, is IBM-led. It always was, right from the start. The Linux Foundation merely acts as a sort of incubator pulling together contributions and helping the openwash.

As it turns out, based on another announcement, another patent aggressor (connected to Erich Spangenberg) positions itself to attack blockchains with patents. To quote:

Marathon Patent Group, Inc. (MARA), today announced that it has entered into a purchase agreement to acquire four patents related to the transmission and exchange of cryptocurrencies between buyers and sellers.

This might be another front for the likes of Spangenberg, whose latest venture was advertised a couple of times in corporate media (CNBC).

The details above may seem vague; that is because those who apply for or harvest blockchain patents (stockpiling) intentionally thrive in mystique/ambiguities. Patents like these don’t exist for ‘defensive’ purposes; someone is planning to at least try to make a lot of money using these patents alone (without an actual implementation of anything).

Qualcomm/Broadcom/NXP Combination Would Become a Disastrous Patent Thicket Which Benefits Nobody

Saturday 20th of January 2018 08:20:54 PM

Monopoly power merely harms the entire market where resources (e.g. pipes) cannot be shared

Summary: Worried by the prospect of mega-mergers and takeovers which would put far too much market power (and monopoly through patents) in one place, governments and corporations speak out

THE CHIPSET/SILICON giants are becoming fewer and bigger. This means that centralisation of respective patents (with patent thickets which prevent fair competition) carries on. This is further exacerbated by some recent industry moves.

“As promoter of software patents and a patent bully with a long track record, Qualcomm wants an even broader or thicker patent thicket.”China, for a change, is standing up to evil patent bullies like Broadcom and Qualcomm; this was soon spun by IAM, which noted that “[w]hen Broadcom first went public with its audacious plan to buy-out Qualcomm, Microsoft and Google were reportedly among the first tech titans to object to the deal in private, citing concerns about a potential loss of innovation.”

Qualcomm has little to do with innovation; it’s all about taxation. As promoter of software patents and a patent bully with a long track record, Qualcomm wants an even broader or thicker patent thicket. According to Korean media, the “trade watchdog sets conditions for Qualcomm’s NXP takeover” — another takeover possibly in the making. To quote:

South Korea’s corporate watchdog said Thursday that United States-based chipmaker Qualcomm must make several commitments to get approval for its takeover of the global Dutch company NXP here, including the sale of NXP’s standard essential patents.

Qualcomm is infesting and driving up the price of almost everything. As noted the other day in relation to the above, “Qualcomm agreed to exclude certain near-field communication patents from the transaction and committed to allowing NXP to license those patents to third parties.”

“Qualcomm is infesting and driving up the price of almost everything.”The European Commission wrote about it as well some days ago. The opening of its statement sounded similar to Korea’s. To quote: “The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of NXP, based in the Netherlands, by Qualcomm of the US. The approval is conditional on full compliance with commitments offered by Qualcomm. Both firms are important players in the semiconductor industry.”

Going back to Broadcom, it turns out that it’s being investigated by the FTC right now. As Wall Street media put it the other day:

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether semiconductor company Broadcom Ltd. engaged in anticompetitive tactics in negotiations with customers, people familiar with the matter said.

Recently we covered Broadcom in relation to a patent case at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). The case arose from an appeal to PTAB and was mentioned in this “international report” at IAM a few days ago. It all started when “Broadcom filed an inter partes review petition which sought to review [patents of] Wi-Fi One,” as we covered at the time (we first took note of this feud about a year ago).

“In this particular case what we have is PTAB in the role of protecting the larger entity; it may sound bad on the surface, but if the underlying patent/s is/are not eligible, then it’s beneficial for justice and detrimental primarily to trolls.”All these latest articles about Wi-Fi One, LLC v Broadcom Corp. concern time-bar decisions. As one law firm has just put it: “While the Wi-Fi One decision is confined to the reviewability of the time bar under § 315(b), some believe that its rationale may extend to the reviewability of other issues. It remains to be seen how far the court will extend its reasoning, if at all, but we will keep you updated here on the AIA Blog when the court issues significant decisions.”

In this particular case what we have is PTAB in the role of protecting the larger entity; it may sound bad on the surface, but if the underlying patent/s is/are not eligible, then it’s beneficial for justice and detrimental primarily to trolls.

Patent Litigation in East Asia: Huawei, Samsung, HTC, Nintendo and COLOPL

Saturday 20th of January 2018 07:43:43 PM

Summary: A quick look at some high-profile cases in which large Asian firms are embroiled; it seems clear that litigation activities have shifted eastwards (where actual production is done)

THE patent trolls are down for the count in the US. Litigation is down, especially in their favourite venue (where cases fell by more than half). This impacts not only trolls but any company which relies mostly/only on litigation rather than production.

The media which cheers for patent trolls (usually funded by patent trolls too) has begun looking eastwards. Sometimes it’s even moving eastwards and hiring there. They attempt to adapt in order to survive.

Watchtroll, as usual, tries to malign defendants; in this one post it claims that Samsung was — in the context of the Chinese legal system — “Maliciously Delaying Negotiations”. We wrote about this earlier this month and did not see such an accusation. “Observers believe a case in which Samsung was found to infringe Huawei’s SEP patents is helpful in determining what is misconduct in FRAND negotiations and a sign the Chinese judicial system is resolving increasingly more complicated and new IP disputes,” Karry Lai wrote from Hong Kong (for Managing IP). Well, FRAND itself can be viewed as a form of “misconduct” or at least injustice. Perhaps Samsung has a legitimate explanation/side/role in this story.

Staying around Asia (although in US courts such as CAFC), in Taiwan we have HTC coming under attack again (from a rather obscure entity called Advanced Video Technologies). In the words of Patent Docs:

One of the most important (if not the most important) inquiries in performing due diligence involving acquisition of a patent portfolio is ensuring that the entity asserting ownership of the patents actually has proper title (in what can be a complex chain, starting with the inventors). This is particularly true in view of the position taken by the Federal Circuit that even one inventor, who has not assigned her rights, can prevent the other inventors or their assignee from bringing suit as being an indispensible party, and that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not permit that recalcitrant inventor from being involuntarily joined. The failure to make sure that the chain of title was intact led a district court to grant defendants’ motion to dismiss, in Advanced Video Technologies LLC v HTC Corp., a decision the Federal Circuit affirmed last week.

All these sorts of ‘nuisance’ lawsuits have over time shifted to Asia, especially China and Singapore. As for Japan? Or Korea? They aren’t quite as overzealous with their patent laws.

Further north (to Taiwan) and over in Japan, the main English-speaking media is adoring patents again. In reality, it’s their products (e.g. cars) and not their patents which make the Japanese prosper. But to IAM writers this misleading report is an adrenaline rush. Several patent maximalists link to it and this one says: “Impressive numbers, but usual caveat applies: most of these royalties are being paid from overseas subsidiaries to their parent companies in Japan, especially in the auto sector…”

IAM’s Jacob Schindler said that and he also said that “Nintendo’s first patent assertion in Japan sends rival’s share price plummeting,” reminding us of this lawsuit which might end up destroying a small company (using patents alone). To quote:

On January 10 2017, a Japanese mobile game company COLOPL announced that it got sued by Nintendo for patent infringement. Nintendo seeks JPY 4.4 billion (approximately $40 million) in damages and an injunction to stop operation of “Shiro Neko (White Cat) project” which is COLOPL’s most profitable smartphone game. Nintendo reportedly filed a lawsuit at Tokyo District Court on December 22 2017 after the negotiation for over a year since September 2016. This is the first time Nintendo has filed a patent infringement lawsuit in Japan. Nintendo alleges the COLOPL’s game infringes on Nintendo’s 5 patents relating to touch panel operation and other technologies.

We wrote about it last week. It’s not about software, but it puts in jeopardy a legitimate business.

Patent Litigation in the US is Down Sharply and Patent Trolls’ Demise Has Much to Do With It

Saturday 20th of January 2018 06:31:12 PM

Summary: Docket Navigator and Lex Machina both show a significant decline in litigation — a trend which is likely to carry on now that TC Heartland is in tact (not for just half a year but a whole year) and PTAB completes another record year

THE TREND is undeniable. The numbers speak for themselves. The sample set is large enough (thousands), it is complete, and several independent trackers are showing the same thing (independently).

Patents were not designed for litigation, which is merely a last resort. So decline in litigation may be bad news for patent lawyers, but not necessarily for inventors.

Michael Loney, in his latest roundup (primarily shut behind a paywall), shows that patent litigation is in its lowest level in recent history (in the US). It’s the same thing other data sources show. “Managing IP,” he wrote, “analyses 2017 data pulled from Docket Navigator to reveal: the overall patent cases filed in US district courts by half, quarter and month; the top 50 plaintiffs, defendants and law firms; and the breakdown of filing by district overall and pre- and post-TC Heartland” (which we've just mentioned and also mentioned several times last year in relation to cases in the Eastern District of Texas collapsing post-TC Heartland).

“Last year,” Loney continued, “4,522 patent cases were filed in US district courts, according to a search of the Docket Navigator database conducted by Managing IP on January 7.”

So patent litigation (the lawsuits ‘industry’) in the US continues to perish. Scientists can sigh in relief.

Similar data comes from Lex Machina. It wrote the following summary:

In the final quarter of 2017, a total of 981 patent cases were filed in U.S. District Courts, a 1.3% decrease over the previous quarter’s total of 994 cases. Cases filed in the calendar year 2017 (4,057 cases) represent a decline of 10.3% over 2016 (with 4,529 cases).

Much of it was from patent trolls — a ‘sector’ which is declining (all it ever does is threats and litigation, nothing else).

The decline is of course good news. Unless one is in the business of litigation. On the face of it, Canadian patent bully WiLAN is looking ahead at more bullying — something it typically does down south (in the US). As IAM put it some days ago:

WiLAN, now part of the Quarterhill family of companies, kicked off 2018 with two patent deals with major Asian operating companies, TSMC and Panasonic. On January 8th, the NPE announced its wholly-owned subsidiary Cetus Technologies had acquired patents related to DRAM technology, as well as NAND flash memory, from Panasonic. The announcement was made four days after another deal with TSMC, which the company hailed as a “new type of transaction”.

Now that it targets “major Asian operating companies” (IAM’s term for non-trolls and actual producers) it may be a good time to start our next post, which focuses on Asia. A lot of patent trolling activity has shifted towards there.

Cheating the US Patent System is a Lot Harder After TC Heartland

Saturday 20th of January 2018 05:39:09 PM

Summary: Some new examples of tricks (and sometimes cheats) attempted by patent claimants and their representatives; it does not go as well as they hoped

THE level of mischief at the USPTO is occasionally noted here; it’s typically about law firms and patent trolls who are attempting to game the system.

Over the past week we have gathered numerous new examples. We don’t mean to bash the USPTO (we are actually very encouraged to see its improvements in recent years) but merely to take stock of areas of improvement for the patent system (including courts and law firms).

TC Heartland or another case of Cray are often mentioned in relation to venue shifting or forum shopping or whatever one calls it (it’s about filing one’s patent lawsuit in a district which is perceived to be plaintiff-friendly, troll-friendly, or friendly towards particular types of patents).

Many lawyers are patently just liars (what they’re paid for) and would lie about where businesses are based. Some days ago we saw this docket report about a case in which claimed “damages” are insubstantial:

The court denied plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction to preclude the sales of the accused fracking system because plaintiff failed to establish irreparable harm through loss of market share or reputation.

More interesting, however, was this docket report. It’s a case in which venue shifting is attempted. “The court granted defendant’s alternative motion to transfer for improper venue because defendant did not have a regular and established place of business through its provision of equipment to customers in the district,” it says. Rightly so. Is this another TC Heartland-type case (only at a far lower court)?

A story which received a lot more attention concerned the filing date and this docket report explained it as follows:

The court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss all but three of plaintiff’s patent infringement claims for claim preclusion, including claims for a patent that issued after the filing date of the parties’ earlier lawsuit.

Another failed attempt to cheat the patent system and assert patents which were not even granted (yet)? Mr. Hricik, which covers ethical issues in patent law, wrote about it as well:

Normally, claim preclusion only bars later assertion of a claim only if (a) the plaintiff could have brought that claim when it filed an earlier suit and (b) the later-asserted claim is the “same” as a claim in the first case (courts take different approaches to how closely related the later claim must be to the first, but the federal rule is to look at whether the later-asserted claim arises out of the same operative facts as the earlier claim). So, normally, if a patent issues to the plaintiff after the first suit is filed, claim preclusion wouldn’t apply because of the first step: you can’t sue for infringement until the patent issues (with the narrow exception of seeking “provisional damages” for infringement under Section 154).

Hricik previously wrote about patent ‘scams’ wherein one party used non-existent patents to bully someone else. Trolls tend to do so too; sometimes, there’s a similar issue pertaining to assignment (parties claiming to ‘own’ patents which they don’t). One new example was covered a short while ago by Sean D. Damon (Finnegan) and also by Watchtroll.

Any time law firms pull dirty tricks such as these they merely discredit the very system they rely on. It’s a form of mockery, not just misuse. They ought to collectively refrain from doing that because they spit in the very well they drink from.

RPX Might Soon be Owned by Patent Troll Erich Spangenberg

Saturday 20th of January 2018 04:10:26 PM

Summary: RPX, whose top executives are leaving and business is gradually dying, might end up as another ‘asset’ of patent trolls

TECHRIGHTS has been writing many articles about RPX, which marketed itself as “against trolls” even though its members were often troll feeders.

Last night IAM was exited to say that a patent troll might buy RPX; “Big news on RPX,” IAM said, “management talking to interested parties in early stages of process that could lead to sale. Microsoft opts not to renew membership #IP #patents…”

We wrote about Microsoft joining RPX a very long time ago and now it exits. From IAM’s blog post about it: (obviously not mentioning the “T” word)

The management of RPX is meeting with a number of interested parties in a process that might lead to an eventual sale of the business, IAM understands. It is believed that an investment consortium led by IP monetisation specialist Erich Spangenberg is among those eyeing the defensive aggregator. Others to have been linked with a possible deal include Vector Capital, the private equity fund that owns IPValue and arguably knows the space as well as any buyout shop. It’s not clear if former CEO John Amster is involved in the process (he, Vector and Erich Spangenberg declined to comment for this article). RPX is being advised by GCA, which bills itself as an independent investment bank focused on the growth sectors of the global economy.

If RPX ends up in the hands of these notorious patent trolls, IAM will love it even more. IAM is, after all, the loudest proponent of trolls (along with Watchtroll) bar trolls themselves. IAM is their platform of choice. Years ago we took note of MOSAID/Conversant (classic patent troll) paying IAM and yesterday IAM produced an ‘article’ which basically amplifies Conversant (Boris Teksler). IAM now speaks to literal patent trolls for their advice on patent tax. From the blog post:

In order to find out, Lew Zaretzki of Hamilton IPV, and Conversant CEO Boris Teksler delved into the decisions handed down by the High Court in London and the US Central District of California Court, in combination with looking at the Court of Justice of the European Union’s 2015 decision in Huawei v ZTE and the approach to SEP/FRAND issues employed by the Chinese authorities and courts.

For those who wonder why we keep linking to sites like Watchtroll and IAM, well… we think it’s important to keep abreast of what patent trolls are up to and what better source of leads than the trolls’ proponents themselves. We may not share their views, but we certainly need to know what they’re up to.

Patent Quality (Not Numbers) as an Asset: Oppositions, Appeals and Rejections at the EPO

Saturday 20th of January 2018 02:18:38 PM

If patent information is the goal, then overload is a threat


Reference: Information overload

Summary: Benoît Battistelli wants a rubber-stamping operation (like INPI) rather than a functional patent office, but oppositions at the Office prove to be fruitful and many erroneously-granted patents are — by extrapolation — already being revoked (affecting, in retrospect, Battistelli’s so-called ‘results’)

THIS WEEK has been historic at the EPO not because of scandals or conflicts but because of a decision we covered here several times*. It was a major blow to patent maximalists.

The patent microcosm never really cared about patent quality; the quality of patents has little to do with the business model. All they care about, based on this upcoming event (advertised yesterday), is how to double the number of patents by throwing the same texts at multiple piles of applications at multiple offices. “EPO and USPTO approaches to rejections” is one among the topics covered. As we pointed out here before, the USPTO barely tolerates patents on genetics. There are few ultra-wealthy companies aspiring to ‘own’ everything, including life itself (Monsanto/Bayer for example) and they crush ordinary people, such as farmers, in the process.

The EPO has lost touch; The discrimination against SMEs at the EPO is not accidental but a planned/intentional policy. According to this, the EPO keeps lying about — and supposedly ‘on behalf of’ — SMEs. Where does that end? Even EPO staff is being crushed nowadays. Nobody is being served but billionaires.

“Even EPO staff is being crushed nowadays. Nobody is being served but billionaires.”“Are you a #patent professional? Here’s an interesting opportunity,” the EPO wrote yesterday, linking to this promotion of internships (warning: epo.org link). The EPO “races to the bottom of salaries and assurance to staff,” I told them, “thus ensuring longterm brain drain. Interns are low-paid staff with no assurance of work. Is this the future of the EPO under Battistelli ‘reforms’? Remember that starting January 1st (2018) all EPO examiners lost their permanent contracts, reducing work security for docility. Terrible.”

The EPO’s official account “follows” me in Twitter. Sometimes I think some good people are behind it, but in order to pay the mortgage they need to obey the high-level management, knowing that they too can suffer (along with their families) if they don’t play along.

Watch what they posted yesterday: Distraction from real EPO news (about CRISPR). Instead they share Battistelli’s photo op in which there’s promotion of software patents in Europe. The EPO basically republished its ‘news’ about “computer implemented inventions”; pushing the unthinkable again? To quote the original (warning: epo.org link): “Other topics discussed during the meeting included procedural changes at the EPO and recent case law, standard essential patents, the EPO’s approach to computer implemented inventions, and IP activities in the Internet of Things era.”

The “CII” dodge aside (that’s what they call software patents in Europe), there’s also that buzzword, “Internet of Things”, once again; that too is a modern trick for sneaking software patents past examiners.

Battistelli’s EPO is stretching patent scope further and further, but the opposition to a CRISPR patent showed that some staff is managing to do the right thing and end this injustice. This is still circulating in technical media and European media. “The vast majority of the Broad Institute’s CRISPR patents in Europe are also affected by this same deficiency and we expect them to meet a similar fate,” ERS CEO Eric Rhodes said. It’s the likely end of CRISPR patents in Europe though the matter is likely to reach the Enlarged Board of Appeals. To quote:

CRISPR/Cas9 has been hailed as the ‘scientific discovery of the century’ due to its capacity to modify the genome for the treatment of genetic diseases. The Broad Institute, set up by MIT and Harvard in 2004 to use genomics to improve human health, successfully obtained a patent from the US Patent Office for its use in eukaryotes. However, the European Patent Office (EPO) has revoked the first of several patents obtained by the Broad Institute, citing a clear lack of novelty.

The editor of JUVE, linking to his article (in German), wrote: “The recent decision of @EPOorg could be a blueprint for the other 6 oppositions against Broad’s CRISPR patents. According to source the Marraffini problem is an issue in all 7 patents.”

Alexander Esslinger replied: “To my knowledge all these patents are based on the same PCT application and therefore share the priority problem [] Faint hope for Broad. In my view only a decision of the Enlarged BoA could help the patent proprieror” (the oppositions division did the right thing to deny patents on CRISPR).

The profound effect of this decision on those who attempt to monopolise life itself can be witnessed in this report from yesterday.

Battistelli has only 5 months left at the Office, so it’s likely that an appeal will occur/take place under the leadership of Campinos.

“Campinos, a Portuguese national, was elected in October as the new EPO president,” says this new article, but he is French actually (dual), just like Benoît Battistelli and Alain Pompidou (a reasonably OK EPO President, according to sources of ours).

Here is what IP Watch wrote yesterday:

Outgoing European Patent Office (EPO) President Benoît Battistelli was elected Chairman of the University of Strasbourg Center for International Intellectual Property Studies Administrative Board in November for a three-year term. He succeeds António Campinos, Executive Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office.

Campinos, a Portuguese national, was elected in October as the new EPO president for a five-year term starting on 1 July 2018.

Things can only improve from there, or so hope EPO insiders. The goal of everyone — ours included — is to fix the EPO. Patent quality is a big part of that.
______
* In 4 prior articles (on Wednesday [1, 2], Thursday and Friday) we got one important detail wrong; what we got wrong is that not BoA but the Oppositions (i.e. the Office) made the decision. We apologise for this error. We often assume that very few blogs are covering EPO from a technology perspective (unlike legal ‘industry’ perspective) because the structure of the Organisation is confusing (some units are just numbers and that too changes over the years/decades).

Links 19/1/2018: Linux Journalism Fund, Grsecurity is SLAPPing Again

Friday 19th of January 2018 09:56:09 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • $25k Linux Journalism Fund

    Linux Journal’s new parent, Private Internet Access, has established a $25k fund to jump-start the next generation of Linux journalism—and to spend it here, where Linux journalism started in 1994.

    This isn’t a contest, and there are no rules other than the ones that worked for journalism before it starting drowning in a sea of “content”.

  • Private Internet Access and Linux Journal set up $25,000 fund to reward experienced and aspiring writers
  • NHS used Linux project to negotiate with Microsoft: claim

    Britain’s National Health Service appears to have used a project set up to create a Linux alternative for its employees’ smartcards — and later, hopefully, a desktop alternative to Windows — to bargain with Microsoft and obtain an enterprise-wide desktop deal.

  • Desktop
    • Introducing my new friend: a Slimbook

      I have been following Slimbook for some time now. As you probably know, they ship a KDE laptop that is very cool, with KDE Neon pre-installed. They have attended to a couple of events I have attended to so I have been able to test their laptops, get feedback from buyers and ask them questions directly. The fact that they are a Spanish company was a beautiful surprise, We do not have that many hardware integrators and vendors in Spain.

      But what definitely caught my attention was the fact that they pay a lot of attention to the software. They ship the laptops with Linux pre-installed. Ok, that is not new any more. But they do pre-install several different distros. Now, that’s uncommon. But news do not stop there.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Foundation
    • Graphics Stack
      • Android Support Removed from Intel Graphics Driver Debugging Tool for Linux

        For those unfamiliar with intel-gpu-tools, it’s a collection of tools for GNU/Linux distribution that allows the debugging the official Intel graphics driver for Intel GPUs. Tools include a GPU hang dumping program, performance microbenchmarks for regression testing the DRM, as well as a performance monitor.

        The latest release, intel-gpu-tools 1.21, adds quite a bunch of changes, including automatic loading of DRM modules when opening a DRM device, much-improved GPU quiescing code to more thoroughly flush pending work and old data, as well as production support for the Meson build system while automake is still kept around.

      • X.Org Server Finally Adapted To Better Deal With 16:9 & 16:10 Displays

        In 2018 the X.Org Server will introduce better support for 16:9 and 16:10 ratio monitors!

        While 16:9 has been the most common aspect ratios for TVs and monitors for about the past decade and 16:10 ratio displays were popular in the early 2000′s, the X.Org Server is finally being adapted in moving past the time of being focused on supporting 4:3 aspect ratio CRT monitors.

    • Benchmarks
      • 16-Way Graphics Card Comparison With Radeon On ROCm, NVIDIA With Initial 2018 Linux Drivers

        Towards the end of December AMD quietly released ROCm 1.7.60 as the newest version of their Radeon Open Compute stack complete with their maturing OpenCL implementation. With the improvements there plus NVIDIA recently introducing their 390 Linux driver series (390.12 Beta currently), I ran some fresh Linux OpenCL GPU compute benchmarks on a variety of AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards for those curious how the current performance stacks up.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOME Photos App Improves Its Editing Tools

        The next stable release of GNOME Photos includes a number of core improvements, including new photo editing features. As a Shotwell alternative Photos is …Well, it’s getting there. It handles the basics well enough, letting you import and browse photos, sort them into albums, and share them via email.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • Educational-Oriented Escuelas Linux 5.6 Distro Released with LibreOffice 6.0

        Based on the latest release of the Ubuntu-based and Enlightenment-focused Bodhi Linux operating system, Escuelas Linux 5.6 is powered by the Linux 4.14.13 kernel, which includes patches against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, and comes with a bunch of up-to-date educational apps.

        These include the OnlyOffice 4.8.6 office suite (only for the 64-bit edition), Vivaldi 1.13, Chromium 63, Google Chrome 63, and Mozilla Firefox 57 “Quantum” web browsers, Geogebra 5.0.414 geometry, algebra, statistics, and calculus app, latest Adobe Flash Player 28 plugin, and the upcoming LibreOffice 6.0 open-source office suite.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat global survey finds field services operations bullish on emerging technologies

        For many industries, from transportation to utilities, manufacturing and more, field workers are pivotal to the success of business operations, the satisfaction of customers, and the growth of the bottom line. Field workers are now at the forefront of digital transformation where artificial intelligence (AI), smart mobile devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) and business process management (BPM) technologies have created new opportunities to better streamline and transform traditional workflows and workforce management practices.

      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • Fedora Makes Progress On Their New Modularity Concept

          After abandoning their Fedora Server 27 Modular Edition work last year, Fedora developers interested in modularizing Fedora packaging have drawn up new plans that are now approved by the Fedora Council.

          At Wednesday’s Fedora Council meeting, the new Fedora modularization plan was approved. The goal outlined by “Objective: Fedora Modularization — The Release” is “Modularity will transform the all-in-one Fedora OS into an operating system plus a module repository, which will contain a wide selection of software easily maintained by packagers. This iteration of the Objective focuses on the second part — providing a wide selection software in various versions — while laying the groundwork for the first.”

          The new Fedora Modular plans no longer involve modularizing the entire distribution but rather “traditionally built packages” will remain and only components benefiting from modular features would be modularized. The components targeted are things like database servers, web servers, Node.js, etc, where users may prefer sticking to one particular version of a program and not upgrade until it’s end-of-life or has other particular reasons to want to move on to a newer version.

        • PHP version 7.1.14RC1 and 7.2.2RC1
    • Debian Family
      • Google moves to Debian for in-house Linux desktop

        Google has officially confirmed the company is shifting its in-house Linux desktop from the Ubuntu-based Goobuntu to a new Linux distro, the DebianTesting-based gLinux.

        Margarita Manterola, a Google Engineer, quietly announced Google would move from Ubuntu to Debian-testing for its desktop Linux at DebConf17 in a lightning talk. Manterola explained that Google was moving to gLinux, a rolling release based on Debian Testing.

      • Building packages with Meson and Debhelper version level 11 for Debian stretch-backports

        Enforce the build to pull-in meson from stretch-backports, i.e. a meson version that is newer than 0.40.0.

      • Not being perfect
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Canonical Wants to Stick to Older Nautilus for Desktop Icons in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

            As you may be aware, upstream GNOME team decided to remove the handling of desktop icons from the Nautilus file manager, moving it to the GNOME Shell user interface through an extension. The change will take effect with the upcoming GNOME 3.28 desktop environment, due for release on March 14, 2018.

            Now that Ubuntu switched to GNOME as default desktop environment, the change will affect all upcoming releases of the operating system, starting with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), which is currently under heavy development.

          • Slack comes to Linux as a snap

            Slack’s ambition to become the default, go-to place for employees chat to each other and link into hundreds of other applications to get work done is getting one more step up today by becoming available on a new platform. From today, Slack will be available as a Snap, an application package that’s available across a range of open-source-based Linux environments.

          • Slack now available as a Snap for Linux

            At the end of last year, the Linux desktop scored a huge win when Spotify became available as a Snap. If you aren’t familiar with Snaps, please know that they are essentially software packages designed to run as a container on any Linux distro. Not only does it make installing software packages easier for users, but it makes things simpler for developers too. Ultimately, Snaps have the potential to solve the big fragmentation problem in the Linux desktop community.

          • Slack Is Now Available as a Snap for Ubuntu and Other Linux Distros

            Canonical and Slack announced today that the popular Slack team collaboration and communication platform is now available as a Snap for Ubuntu and other Snappy-enabled GNU/Linux distributions.

            With the promise of making your working life simpler, more productive and pleasant, Slack is used by numerous organizations and businesses to increase the productivity of their employees. It’s an all-in-one platform that offers messaging, planning, calendaring, budgeting, code reviewing, and many other tools.

            “Slack brings team communication and collaboration into one place so you can get more work done, whether you belong to a large enterprise or a small business. Check off your to-do list and move your projects forward by bringing the right people, conversations, tools, and information you need together,” reads project’s page.

          • Canonical brings Slack to the snap ecosystem

            Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, today announced the first iteration of Slack as a snap, bringing collaboration to open source users.

            Slack is an enterprise software platform that allows teams and businesses of all sizes to communicate effectively. Slack works seamlessly with other software tools within a single integrated environment, providing an accessible archive of an organisation’s communications, information and projects.

            In adopting the universal Linux app packaging format, Slack will open its digital workplace up to an-ever growing community of Linux users, including those using Linux Mint, Manjaro, Debian, ArchLinux, OpenSUSE, Solus, and Ubuntu.

          • Want to Install Slack on Ubuntu? It’s Now Easier Than Ever

            You can easily install Slack on Ubuntu as a Snap application from the Ubuntu Software app. The popular app lets people chat and collaborate in realtime.

  • Devices/Embedded
    • SBC kit runs Linux on a quad -A53 i.MX8M SoC

      CompuLab released details and pricing for its “SBC-iMX8 Evaluation Kit.” The sandwich-style SBC includes an i.MX8M-based CL-SOM-iMX8 module, and provides WiFi, BT, GbE, USB 3.0, PCIe, HDMI 2.0, and more.

      Earlier this week when we reported on CompuLab’s CL-SOM-iMX8 compute module, there were only a few details on the board’s SBC-iMX8 Evaluation Kit. Now, Compulab has posted a product page and a price, which for single units including the COM, start at $415.

    • RF-enabled Raspberry Pi add-on brings Google Assistant to gizmos, speakers, and robots

      JOY-iT and Elector have launched a $42 “Talking Pi” RPi add-on that enables Google Home/AIY compatible voice activation of home automation devices linked to the Pi’s GPIO, and includes a mic board, PWM servo controls, and support for a 433MHz SRD radio.

      Elektor has begun selling a $42, open source voice control add-on board that is programmable via the Google Assistant SDK. Built by Germany based JOY-iT, and marketed by Conrad Business Supplies, the RF-enabled Talking Pi enables voice control of home automation equipment such as smart lights, power sockets, and other gizmos via addressable extensions to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO.

Free Software/Open Source
  • Jio is committed to use open source technology: Akash Ambani

    Speaking at the India Digital Open Summit 2018, Akash Ambani, Director of Reliance Jio Infocomm, said that open source is very important for his company.

    “The year 2017 was the tipping point for AR and VR globally. In India, AR and VR are in the initial stages of adoption but at Jio, we believe it will grow at a 50 percent compounded rate for the next five years,” Akash said.

    He also spoke on the evolution of artificial intelligence and blockchain.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • VMware and Pivotal’s PKS Distribution Marries Kubernetes with BOSH [Ed: It looks like Swapnil Bhartiya has been reduced to Microsoft propaganda and other openwashing puff pieces sponsored by proprietary software giants. We have given up on several writers who used to support GNU/Linux. Seeing their activity, it seems as though they ended up with neither gigs nor credibility (used to get far more writing assignments from LF, often for Microsoft openwashing).]
  • Licensing/Legal
    • Linux’s Grsecurity dev team takes blog ‘libel’ fight to higher court

      Open Source Security, Inc., the maker of the Grsecurity Linux kernel patches, suffered a setback last month when San Francisco magistrate judge Laurel Beeler granted a motion by defendant Bruce Perens to dismiss the company’s defamation claim, with the proviso that the tossed legal challenge could be amended.

      The code biz and its president Brad Spengler sued Perens over a blog post in June in which Perens said that using the firm’s Grsecurity software could expose customers to a contributory infringement claim under the terms of the Linux kernel’s GPLv2 license.

      Open Source Security contends that statement has damaged its business.

    • Israel’s Information and Communications Technology Authority Bows to Pressure to Comply with Affero GPL

      Under pressure from open source advocates, the Israeli Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Authority recently shared its first open source software, extensions made by the ICT Authority to the CKAN data portal platform to help make the platform usable in Hebrew.

      The CKAN software is an open source data portal platform used since 2016 by the ICT Authority to make Israeli government data open and available on its government database website. The CKAN software is licensed under the GNU AGPL Version 3 license, an “ultra-strong” open source license that requires users of modified versions of CKAN software to offer its source code, even in the absence of distribution, to users interacting with software over the Internet.

    • Xiaomi Violating GPL 2.0 License With Mi A1 Kernel Sources

      Xiaomi is in violation of the GPL 2.0 license of the Linux Kernel project by still not releasing the kernel sources for the Mi A1 Android One and has been publicly criticized on the matter by established Android developer Francisco Franco earlier this week. While the smartphone was released in September and the Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer’s official policy is to publicize kernel sources for its devices within three months of their market launch, the Android One edition of the Mi A1 remains undetailed in this regard. Mr. Franco — best known for his work on the Franco Kernel, one of the most popular custom OS cores in the Android ecosystem — had some harsh words for the company on Twitter, calling its laidback approach to publicizing the kernel sources for the Mi A1 “an embarrassment” for the open source community and the type of software it allows it to create its commercial devices in the first place.

  • Programming/Development
    • Hehe, still writing code for a living? It’s 2018. You could be earning x3 as a bug bounty hunter

      Ethical hacking to find security flaws appears to pay better, albeit less regularly, than general software engineering.

      And while payment remains one of the top rationales for breaking code, hackers have begun citing more civic-minded reasons for their activities.

      A survey of 1,700 bug bounty hunters from more than 195 countries and territories by security biz HackerOne, augmented by the company’s data on 900 bug bounty programs, has found that white-hat hackers earn a median salary that’s 2.7 times that of typical software engineers in their home countries.

      In some places, the gap is far more pronounced. In India, for example, hackers make as much as 16 times the median programmer salary. In the US, they earn 2.4 times the median.

Leftovers
  • China’s two-child policy has already stopped working

    When China officially ended its one-child policy in 2015, couples promptly heeded the call and had a lot more babies. Under its new two-child policy, China recorded 18.46 million births in 2016—the highest since 2000—with almost half of those babies having at least one older sibling.

    But in 2017, the number of live births fell 3.5% to 17.23 million from the year before, according to data released by the government. About half of them were second children in the family. The reason for the decline was attributed to a decrease in the number of women of fertile age and more women delaying marriage and pregnancy (paywall).

    [...]

    China’s working-age population has been falling since 2012, and the government warns of a “sharp decline” after 2030. A rapidly aging population will also put huge strain on the country’s social services.

  • Science
    • Using crumpled graphene balls to make better batteries

      Lithium metal-based batteries have the potential to turn the battery industry upside down. With the theoretically ultra-high capacity of lithium metal used by itself, this new type of battery could power everything from personal devices to cars.

    • Bullets and bombs on China’s high-speed rail network

      Christened Fuxing, which means “renaissance” or “rejuvenation” in Mandarin, the bullet trains will be able to cruise at 400 kilometres per hour and will replace the slower Hexie (“harmony”) locomotives on the nation’s sprawling 22,000 km high-speed rail network.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Heading Off Global Action On Access To Medicines In 2018

      At the dawn of 2018, political and health leaders must seize the growing momentum and opportunities to tackle the protracted challenges of access to medicines that undermines efforts to save lives and improve health as committed under the Agenda 2030 SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] by all UN member states.

    • Angered by high prices and shortages, hospitals will form their own generic drug maker

      A

      Angered by rising prices and persistent shortages of generic drugs, four of the nation’s largest hospital systems are forming a new, not-for-profit manufacturer.

      The new company plans to either directly make or subcontract manufacturing to combat “capricious and unfair pricing practices” that are damaging the generic drug market and hurting consumers, according to a statement from the four hospital groups — Intermountain Healthcare, Ascension, SSM Health, and Trinity Health, which together run more than 300 hospitals.

      “It’s an ambitious plan,” said Dr. Marc Harrison, chief executive officer and president of Intermountain Healthcare, which is leading the initiative, “but healthcare systems are in the best position to fix the problems in the generic drug market. … We are confident we can improve the situation for our patients by bringing much needed competition to the generic drug market.”

    • U.S. court invalidates J&J cancer drug patent, hitting UK’s BTG

      A U.S. administrative court invalidated a Johnson & Johnson patent on its blockbuster prostate cancer drug Zytiga, bringing rivals closer to selling generic versions and hitting shares in its British partner BTG Plc .

      The Patent Trial and Appeal Board said a Johnson & Johnson patent describing a method of administering Zytiga should not have been granted because the process it described was obvious.

      Wednesday’s ruling was a victory for U.S. generic drug company Argentum Pharmaceuticals LLC, which had asked the board to invalidate the patent in the hope of being able to bring its own version to market.

    • Senate committee approves Trump pick for Health Secretary who vowed to tackle ‘gaming’ of the patent system

      But, even if Azar is unlikely to push for radical reforms, his words – coming as they do from a former branded pharmaceuticals chief – reflect the extent to which drug prices, and especially market exclusivity for pharmaceuticals, are under the political spotlight in the US at present. Whether or not Azar clears the final hurdle to become Health and Human Services Secretary, that seems unlikely to change – and one day, perhaps not too far into the distance, that might mean we see developments that could have a significant impact on the market where many big pharma patent owners tend to make most of their money.

    • Industry Alliance Report: Companies Invest In AMR R&D, Need More Pull Incentives

      According to a press release of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), in 2016, 22 Alliance companies invested at least US$2 billion in research and development, and more than two out of three Alliance companies have strategies, policies or plans in place to improve access to their AMR-relevant products.

  • Security
    • CentOS Linux 7 and 6 Users Receive New Microcode Updates for Intel and AMD CPUs

      CentOS developers released new microcode updates for Intel and AMD processors for the CentOS Linux 7 and 6 operating system series to revert to the previous microcode update.

      CentOS Linux is an open-source, free, enterprise-class, and community-supported operating system based on and compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. As such, it regularly receives new important security updates as soon as they are released upstream by Red Hat.

    • Ubuntu Preparing Kernel Updates With IBRS/IBPB For Spectre Mitigation

      Canonical has rolled out Spectre Variant One and Spectre Variant Two mitigation to their proposed repository with updated kernels for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS / 16.04 LTS / 17.10. These kernels with IBRS and IBPB added in will be sent down as stable release updates next week.

    • Canonical Invites Ubuntu Users to Test Kernel Patches for Spectre Security Flaw

      Canonical has released preliminary kernel updates to mitigate both variants of the Spectre security vulnerability in all supported Ubuntu Linux operating systems, including all official flavors.

      The company promised last week that it would release new kernel updates on Monday, January 15, 2018, for all supported Ubuntu releases. But it didn’t happen as they needed more time to thoroughly test and prepare the patches that would presumably address variant 1 and 2 of the Spectre exploit, which is harder to fix than Meltdown, so that it won’t cause any issues.

    • Purism Progress Report, Spectre Mitigation for Ubuntu, Malicious Chrome Extensions and More

      Canonical has made Spectre Variant One and Spectre Variant Two mitigation availble in Ubuntu Proposed with updated kernels for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, 16.04 LTS and 17.10. Those kernels will be in the stable release updates starting January 22, 2018. See ubuntu insights for more information.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Security From Whom, Indeed
    • Firefox locks down its future with HTTPS ‘secure contexts’
    • EFF and Lookout Uncover New Malware Espionage Campaign Infecting Thousands Around the World

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and mobile security company Lookout have uncovered a new malware espionage campaign infecting thousands of people in more than 20 countries. Hundreds of gigabytes of data has been stolen, primarily through mobile devices compromised by fake secure messaging clients.

      The trojanized apps, including Signal and WhatsApp, function like the legitimate apps and send and receive messages normally. However, the fake apps also allow the attackers to take photos, retrieve location information, capture audio, and more.

    • Four Malicious Google Chrome Extensions Affect 500K Users
    • Latest Fedora 27 Linux Updated Live ISOs Ship with Meltdown and Spectre Patches

      Fedora ambassador and founder of the Fedora Unity project Ben Williams announced the release of a new set of updated live ISO images for the Fedora 27 Linux operating system.

      The F27-20180112 respin live installation images are now available, including the Linux 4.14.13-300 kernel with patches against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, as well as all the latest software updates and security fixes.

    • Some thoughts on Spectre and Meltdown

      Contrast that with what happened this time around. Google discovered a problem and reported it to Intel, AMD, and ARM on June 1st. Did they then go around contacting all of the operating systems which would need to work on fixes for this? Not even close. FreeBSD was notified the week before Christmas, over six months after the vulnerabilities were discovered. Now, FreeBSD can occasionally respond very quickly to security vulnerabilities, even when they arise at inconvenient times — on November 30th 2009 a vulnerability was reported at 22:12 UTC, and on December 1st I provided a patch at 01:20 UTC, barely over 3 hours later — but that was an extremely simple bug which needed only a few lines of code to fix; the Spectre and Meltdown issues are orders of magnitude more complex.

    • Menacing Malware Shows the Dangers of Industrial System Sabotage

      At the S4 security conference on Thursday, researchers from the industrial control company Schneider Electric, whose equipment Triton targeted, presented deep analysis of the malware—only the third recorded cyberattack against industrial equipment. Hackers [sic] were initially able to introduce malware into the plant because of flaws in its security procedures that allowed access to some of its stations, as well as its safety control network.

    • 25 per cent of hackers don’t report bugs due to lack of disclosure policies

      One of the standout discoveries was that almost 25 per cent of respondents said they were unable to disclose a security flaw because the bug-ridden company in question lacked a vulnerability disclosure policy (VDP).

    • ‘Professional’ hack [sic] on Norwegian health authority compromises data of three million patients [iophk: "Windows TCO"]
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • FBI Whistleblower on Pierre Omidyar and His Campaign to Neuter Wikileaks

      FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds asserts Pierre Omidyar decided to create The Intercept to not only take ownership of the Snowden leaks but also to continue his blockade against WikiLeaks and create a “honey trap” for whistleblowers.

      [...]

      Lee has also claimed that Assange is a “Putin fanboy” who doesn’t care “about government transparency if the government in question is Russia,” even though WikiLeaks has published information damaging to the Russian government while Putin was president. Lee also intimated that Assange may have a direct relationship to the Kremlin, an outlandish claim for which there is no basis.

      [...]

      Sibel Edmonds, FBI whistleblower and founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, told MintPress News that the FPF has a reputation for being a “very, very partisan organization and populated with ideologues.” She further asserted that the “number one reason” for the FPF’s decision was directly related to Wikileaks’ releases in 2016, namely the DNC leaks and the Podesta emails.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Facebook top choice for Philippines wildlife traders: Watchdog

      “This magnitude of commerce in live wild animals online is just mind-boggling,” said Serene Chng, TRAFFIC’s programme officer for South-east Asia.

    • Infiniti says it will go ‘all electric’

      Infiniti, the luxury brand of Japanese automaker Nissan, will start phasing out gas-powered vehicles in 2021 and switch to “all electrified” models, the maker’s new CEO Hiroto Saikawa said Tuesday afternoon.

      Making an appearance at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit — his first in the U.S. since succeeding Carlos Ghosn as Nissan Motor Co. CEO last April — Saikawa also suggested that the Euro-Asian Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance could look to add a fourth partner.

      “Infiniti will have a specific focus on electrification,” said Saikawa, adding, “We are trying to position Infiniti as the premier electrified brand” as part of the five-year Nissan business plan that will extend through 2022.

  • Finance
    • Corbyn on Carillion: we’ll end outsourcing ‘racket’ in rule change

      Labour will call a halt to the “outsourcing racket” exposed by Carillion’s collapse, by tearing up procurement rules to make the public sector the default choice for providing government services, Jeremy Corbyn has revealed.

      Carillion’s collapse has emboldened Corbyn to press home his message that Labour rejects the “dogma of privatisation”.

    • The Fall of Travis Kalanick Was a Lot Weirder and Darker Than You Thought

      A year ago, before the investor lawsuits and the federal investigations, before the mass resignations, and before the connotation of the word “Uber” shifted from “world’s most valuable startup” to “world’s most dysfunctional,” Uber’s executives sat around a hotel conference room table in San Francisco, trying to convince their chief executive officer, Travis Kalanick, that the company had a major problem: him.

    • Forget banks, in 2018 you’ll pay through Amazon and Facebook
    • Majority back continued single market membership after Brexit, new poll finds

      The majority of Britons would support remaining in the single market and customs union post-Brexit, a new opinion poll suggests.

      Some 60 per cent of those surveyed said they backed remaining in the single market, with 24 per cent neither agreeing nor disagreeing and 16 per cent opposed.

      The BMG Research poll for website Left Foot Forward found that 57 per cent said the UK should remain a member of the customs union, with 16 per cent said it should leave.

      The survey was carried out before French President Emmanuel Macron warned that a post-Brexit free trade agreement would not provide full access to the single market for financial services at the same level as that offered to members.

    • Power will always trump mutual interest in the Brexit talks

      Please use the sharing tools found via the email icon at the top of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email licensing@ft.com to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found at https://www.ft.com/tour.

      https://www.ft.com/content/7641d1f8-fc2e-11e7-9b32-d7d59aace167

      Politicians in London are looking on the bright side of the Brexit negotiations. The phase one deal in December showed agreement was possible and ministers have stopped issuing the empty threat that they were happy with “no deal”. In Germany last week, chancellor Philip Hammond described the negotiations as a “courtship”. Dangling the carrot of easy access to the British consumer in front of the EU27, an ally of the prime minister says “economics are going to come to the fore now”.

      The specific theory this official had in mind was one of constrained optimisation. Britain’s red lines are inviolable: it wants to be out of the single market, giving it regulatory freedom and immigration control; it wants to leave the customs union to allow autonomy in trading agreements; and it wants to end net contributions to the EU budget. Accepting those constraints, the optimisation part is for the EU27 to seek the best deal compatible with the UK’s stipulations.

      London envisages that economic considerations will dictate the answer. The result will be close to frictionless borders for goods but not people, mutual recognition of regulations and the UK continuing to sell services into the single market almost as now. Anything less would involve the EU shooting itself unnecessarily in the foot, it deduces.

    • Everything you need to know about the Brexit endgame in five minutes

      Things are going OK, right? We’ve got that first-phase agreement. Next they’ll talk transition and then a trade deal. Maybe everything’s going to be alright.

      Hah, you poor fool. No, we’re still screwed. Take a closer look at that first-phase agreement. It’s a tremendous fudge. It took the major problem at the heart of Brexit and kicked it into 2018.

      We’ve been given a hospital pass by our past selves?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Here’s how Donald Trump changed social media

      US President weaponised Twitter, using it not just to reach the masses but to control news through bullying and distraction.

    • NBI: Case about search of journalist’s home should be handled behind closed doors

      The person in charge of the preliminary investigation, Markku Ranta-aho said that the police will request that the matter be handled in private and that the documents concerning the probe be confidentially sealed.

    • Newsweek says DA raided its offices for computer server information
    • Newsweek’s headquarters just got a visit from the police

      More than a dozen police showed up this morning at the office that serves as the shared headquarters for Newsweek magazine and IBT Media, which rebranded in 2017 as Newsweek Group, according to multiple sources who were present.

      The reason for the visit was not clear, but one employee said police were taking photos of the company’s servers.

      Employees said the police appeared to be from the NYPD, but a spokesperson for the NYPD said its officers were not involved. A spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney declined to comment.
      The office is at 7 Hanover Square in New York’s financial district. Police also visited the office in December, a former employee said. Employees were told that it was because a white substance had been mailed to Executive News Director Ken Li, which they were then told turned out to be a false alarm.

      Representatives for Newsweek Group did not immediately respond to questions.

    • Democrats Prepare Bill to Censure Trump over “Shithole” Comments

      On Capitol Hill, Democrats are preparing a bill that would formally censure Donald Trump over racist comments in which the president reportedly called African nations, El Salvador and Haiti “shithole countries.” The effort is being led by New York Congressmember Jerrold Nadler and Representative Cedric Richmond, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. It comes as several Democratic lawmakers have announced they will skip the State of the Union address on January 30 over Trump’s racist remarks. Among them are Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Frederica Wilson of Florida, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Maxine Waters of California and John Lewis of Georgia.

    • ‘Independent’ Watchdog’s Secret Funder: Conservative Small-Government Group

      When former Chicago City Council inspector general Faisal Khan launched his not-for-profit anti-corruption group close to two years ago, he insisted that it was independent and nonpartisan.

      At the same time, Khan refused to disclose who was funding the organization, which he called Project Six — a reference to the group of civic leaders who led the fight against Al Capone during Prohibition.

      Now, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times and ProPublica Illinois show almost all the money to launch Khan’s Chicago-based watchdog organization came from a right-leaning group that is leading a crusade against government regulations, state spending and labor unions in Illinois.

      The most recent federal tax filing for the Illinois Policy Institute shows it gave $623,789 to Project Six in 2016 — accounting for 98 percent of the group’s first-year budget. The records don’t reveal — and Project Six officials haven’t said — where the rest of its money comes from.

    • Trump Ends Protections for El Salvador

      El Salvador is the latest country targeted by the Trump administration’s termination of protections for people under TPS, which provides relief for migrants fleeing humanitarian crises, reports Dennis J. Bernstein.

    • The President and the Porn Star
    • Moscow Protests Leak Of Russian Embassy Bank Transfers Around 2016 U.S. Election

      The Russian Foreign Ministry is demanding that the United States stop the leak of confidential diplomatic information after a media report this week provided details of what it said were “suspicious” Russian embassy bank transfers.

      The Kremlin demand on January 18 came after the U.S. online outlet Buzzfeed reported that U.S. officials investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election are studying bank transfers to and from the Russian Embassy in Washington before and after the November 2016 election.

      Buzzfeed said U.S. banks flagged a number of embassy bank transfers and reported them to U.S. regulators, as required by U.S. law, because they were large and looked “suspicious.”

    • FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump

      The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.

      FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.

      It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.

      It’s unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s campaign, has been heating up.

      All of the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because Mueller’s investigation is confidential and mostly involves classified information.

    • How Trump’s Base Inspired an International Racist Fiasco, Again

      Stephen Miller, the administration’s latest iteration of Official Screaming Person, flexed his White House muscles last week and made history in all the wrong ways. Everything that has gone down since “Shithole Thursday” — the collapse of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) negotiations, the real threat of a government shutdown and an eruption of unvarnished racist invective from the president of the United States — came about because Miller picked up the phone with one priority in mind: Play to the Trump base.

      Unspooling this pluperfect fiasco takes some doing. A week ago Tuesday, Donald Trump staged a bit of theater by not being demonstrably incapacitated by incompetence for 90 whole minutes during a meeting with members of Congress on immigration. The White House felt such a performance was necessary after Trump went on Twitter and accused the leader of a volatile nuclear adversary of having a small penis. Editorial pages from sea to shining sea were dusting off the text of the 25th Amendment again, so a good showing with the Congress members was pretty much required.

      During the entire Tuesday meeting, Trump was smiling, friendly and coherent. He was open to several legislative proposals offered by Democrats, including one for a clean DACA bill, to which he reacted enthusiastically — said enthusiasm being later erased “accidentally” from the transcript of the event. The press loved it. That night, most news stations led their evening broadcasts with some permutation of, “Wow, the president didn’t humiliate us all today!”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Marriott says it chose to stop posting on social media after China ban

      The Shanghai government had shut down Marriott’s Chinese website and mobile app for a week as punishment for a Mandarin-language survey sent to customers that listed Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau as separate countries, as reported by Reuters. There was backlash from the Chinese public as well. Marriott’s Instagram posts from a week ago are littered with comments like “get out of China” and “remember!people’s republic of china!only one!marriott hotels roll out of china!”

    • Facebook and Google outline unprecedented mass censorship at US Senate hearing

      Behind the backs of the US and world populations, social media companies have built up a massive censorship apparatus staffed by an army of “content reviewers” capable of seamlessly monitoring, tracking, and blocking millions of pieces of content.

      The character of this apparatus was detailed in testimony Wednesday from representatives of Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, chaired by South Dakota Republican John Thune.

      The hearing was called to review what technology companies are doing to shut down the communications of oppositional political organizations. It represented a significant escalation of the campaign, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, to establish unprecedented levels of censorship and control over the Internet.

    • YouTube and Google planning new anti-extremism technique: the ‘Redirect Method’

      Social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube appeared in front of the US Senate cyber-terror committee yesterday and everyone seemed very happy with the progress they have made in tackling extremist content.

      The session, which was entitled “Terrorism and Social Media: #IsBigTechDoingEnough?” was expected to be a grilling of the three platforms seen by many as being most responsible for the spread of extremist content online.

    • The problem with human moderators

      If Big Tech in 2018 already has a theme, it’s that social networks are passive platforms no longer. Since the new year, both Facebook and YouTube have stepped up with new guidelines and processes to manage — and in some cases police — content on their networks.

      All of this started well before the new year, of course. Twitter has been following through on a lengthy project to both clarify its content policies and take a more active role in saying who and what is allowed on its platform, most recently with its so-called “Nazi purge.” The current trend arguably started with Reddit, when then-CEO Ellen Pao pushed for tighter control of harassment and revenge porn on the site.

    • Philippines Trying To Shut Down Popular News Site For Reporting On President Duterte

      From Filipinos I’ve spoken to, they seem rightfully proud of this right to free speech. And they should be. But these things only matter if they’re actually respected. And there’s growing evidence that, under President Duterte, there’s little respect for such things. A few days ago, the news broke that the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission was pulling the license of Rappler, a popular Filipino news source started by Maria Ressa. I was privileged to hear Ressa speak at a conference last summer (she was originally supposed to be a participant in a session that I was organizing, but it was much better having her speak separately about the challenges she was facing in covering news in the Philippines). Rappler has really done some amazing work under fairly challenging circumstances.

      And… it appears that those challenging circumstances are leading the government in the Philippines to try to shut them down. The official reason for pulling the license is the claim from the SEC that Rappler has violated rules concerning foreign ownership.

    • Bigoted Landlord Files Criminal Complaint Against Critic Who Called Him Bigoted

      In yet another example of how the UK’s government’s stated respect for free speech is continually undercut by its actions, a bigoted landlord is bringing charges against a YouTuber for calling him bigoted.

    • Iowa State’s Attempt To Violate Its Students First Amendment Rights To Cost State Nearly $400k In Damages

      In the early part of 2017, we brought you the story of an Iowa State University student group pushing for marijuana reform in the state that was being targeted by the university for trademark infringement after the group used some school iconography on t-shirts it developed for its cause. The whole episode was fairly bonkers, with the school initially approving the students’ use of the imagery, only to rescind that approval after Iowa House Republicans sent a letter to the school’s leadership questioning the decision. That sort of infringement of speech by a school and, in the background, by state legislators that really should have known better, was always destined to result in legal proceedings, given the enormous First Amendment implications. Well, as we reported, that trial ran its course, including an appeal, and was decided in the favor of the student group.

      While all of that was settled last year, what we didn’t know until recently is just how much taxpayer money would be paid out as a result of a public university and state legislators seeking, quite plainly, to infringe on perhaps the most sacred right this country enjoys. Now we have an answer to that question: at least $350,000.

    • EFF to Court: Requiring Universities to Ban Anonymous Online Speech Platforms on Campus is Counterproductive and Unconstitutional

      Requiring public universities to ban access to anonymous online speech platforms would undermine activism occurring on those campuses and violate the First Amendment, EFF argued in a brief filed on Thursday.

      Plaintiffs in the case, Feminist Majority Foundation et al. v. University of Mary Washington, claim that university officials violated federal anti-discrimination law by not taking appropriate steps to address threats and harassment directed at students, including messages posted on the now-defunct online platform Yik Yak.

      One way university officials could have prevented the harassment, according to plaintiffs, is by blocking access to Yik Yak. After a federal trial court dismissed their claims last year, the plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • A Bunch Of Politicians Who Complain About Trump’s Authoritarian Tendencies Just Gave Him 6 Years To Warrantlessly Spy On Americans

      As was widely expected after Tuesday’s close vote on cloture, the Senate officially voted to renew (in a somewhat expanded way) Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act by a vote of 65 to 34. That also means a few of those who voted against cloture switched over and voted for the program, including Senators Ted Cruz and Chuck Schumer. President Trump will almost certainly sign the bill shortly, despite confusing basically everyone last week by tweeting out complaints about the program, despite his White House vehemently supporting it.

      Trump’s confusion isn’t all that surprising. What is surprising is just how many people who have been complaining and warning about Trump made this possible. In the House, vocal Trump critics including Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell were among those who voted for this bill which, again, gives the FBI the power to spy on Americans without warrants via the collection of content (not metadata) swept up by the NSA. While defenders of the program keep insisting the program cannot be used to “target” Americans, they leave out that a ridiculous amount of American content is swept up into this collection, which can then be sifted through without a warrant, including a huge amount of communications of Americans.

    • Stasi files: scanner struggles to stitch together surveillance state scraps
    • After The ‘Octopus Incident’ White House Threatened To Stop ‘Menacing Logos’ From Spy Satellites

      Records released to William Pierce show that the fallout from the National Reconnaissance Office’s infamous “world-eating octopus” logo was enough for the White House to threaten veto power over future logos on spy satellites. Despite this warning to steer clear of controversy, the designers for the NROL-76 logo tried their best to sneak in a “Talladega Nights” reference – even resorting to Latin to get around copyright.

      In early May of 2016, someone within the NRO asked if the mission patch for the NROL-76 mission had been approved.

    • How License Plate Covers Would Protect Vulnerable Communities

      EFF is a strong supporter of S.B. 712, a California bill that would allow vulnerable communities to cover their license plates when parked. This provides a way for individuals to protect their confidentiality when visiting sensitive locations, such as religious sites of worship, medical facilities, and social support centers.

      Under current law, drivers can cover their entire vehicles, including the license plates, when parked. S.B. 712 simply says that you are allowed to cover just the plate when you are parked. This common-sense solution allows drivers to opt-out of unwanted data collection when they have reached their destinations, not unlike how installing an ad-blocker may prevent online advertisers from gathering your information.

      The threat to privacy is increasing as automated license plate readers (ALPRs) have made it easier for private companies to amass billions of records in commercial databases. This data can be used to track drivers in real time or to reveal their travel patterns and community networks.

    • Congress Just Passed a Terrible Surveillance Law. Now What?

      Both Democrats and Republicans deserve sharp criticism for continuing to allow the NSA to engage in mass, warrantless spying.

      Congress today missed a historic opportunity to reform an unconstitutional surveillance law, instead passing a version that makes it worse. Both Democrats and Republicans deserve sharp criticism for continuing to allow the NSA to engage in mass, warrantless spying.

      (You can see how your member of Congress voted here and here, so they can be held accountable.)

      The vote concerned Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — a law disclosed by Edward Snowden that revealed the NSA had been spying on Americans in unprecedented ways. As a result of the expiration of this law, Congress needed to decide, for the first time since those revelations, whether to reform, reauthorize, or do away with the law altogether.

      For years, the government claimed that Section 702 was primarily used to stop foreign terrorists. In 2013, we learned that was a lie. The government uses the hundreds of millions of communications collected under Section 702 — which it gets directly from tech companies or by tapping into the physical infrastructure that makes up the internet — to access the sensitive information of Americans for purposes that have nothing to do with national security.

    • California Police Chiefs Misrepresent License Plate Privacy Bill

      EFF supports S.B. 712, a California bill that would allow drivers to cover their plates when they’re parked. This simple privacy measure would create an opportunity for drivers to protect sensitive information about their travel and whereabouts from mass collection by law enforcement and private data brokers.

      The threat is all too real. Police agencies have surveilled Muslims by collecting plates in parking lots at mosques. Police officers have used license plates of vehicles parked at gay clubs to blackmail patrons. Anti-choice activists are trained to amass license plates of doctors and patients parked at reproductive health centers. Immigration & Customs Enforcement plans to use private license plate databases, effectively dodging state restrictions on data sharing, as it ramps up its deportation efforts.

      The California Police Chiefs Association opposes our bill. This week, its lobbyists issued a “floor alert” to state senators that misrepresents how the bill would work.

    • EFF to NSA: you scammed your way to another six years of warrantless spying, and you’d better enjoy it while it lasts

      Last week, cowards from both sides of the aisle caved into America’s lawless spy agencies, and today bipartisan senators reprised that cowardice to ensure that the Senate would not get a chance to vote on amendments to the renewal of Section 702, the rule that has allowed the NSA to conduct mass, warrantless surveillance on Americans in secret, without meaningful oversight or limits.

      It was a crushing defeat for anyone who cares about civil liberties, the rule of law, and the Bill of Rights. In a stirring open letter, Electronic Frontier Foundation executive director Cindy Cohn (previously) gives us all the furious post-game analysis we need: people everywhere, of every political persuasion, are waking up to the dangers of the mass surveillance that the spies poisoned the digital world with, and their time is running out. More people than ever, from more walks of life, stood up for limits on Section 702, and that number will only grow from here on in.

    • Senate passes bill renewing internet surveillance program

      The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a bill to renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program for six years with minimal changes, overcoming objections from civil liberties advocates that it undermined the privacy of Americans.

      The legislation, which easily passed the House of Representatives last week, is expected to be signed into law by President Donald Trump by Friday.

    • NSA surveillance programs renewed by Senate

      With little debate, the US Senate voted 65 to 34 Thursday to renew the law authorizing key surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency.

      The programs, known as Prism and Upstream, allow the NSA to collect online communications of foreigners outside the US. Prism collects these communications from internet services, and Upstream taps in to the internet’s infrastructure to capture information in transit. Some communications from Americans and others in the US are collected in the process.

    • An Open Letter to Our Community On Congress’s Vote to Extend NSA Spying From EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn

      Today, the United States Congress struck a significant blow against the basic human right to read, write, learn, and associate free of government’s prying eyes.

      Goaded by those who let fear override democratic principles, some members of Congress shuttered public debate in order to pass a bill that extends the National Security Agency’s unconstitutional Internet surveillance for six years.

    • Senate passes bill to renew controversial NSA spying powers

      The bill was passed 65 to 34, and now moves to President Trump’s desk. He is expected to sign it into law. Earlier this week, a group of senators threatened to filibuster the bill, but lawmakers cleared a 60-vote hurdle earlier this week that allowed them to block the attempt.

      The bill allows for continued spying operations under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Critics charge that the bill, which renews 702 and powers National Security Agency spying, is nominally for foreign targets, but allows the government to sweep up American communications with few safeguards.

    • It Wasn’t Just Republicans — Democrats Also Voted to Shut Down Debate on Trump Administration’s Surveillance Powers

      A critical mass of Senate Democrats voted with Republicans on Tuesday to shut down any further debate on a bill that strengthens the government’s spying powers. The bill would renew a key surveillance authority for the National Security Agency until 2023 and consolidate the FBI’s power to search Americans’ digital communications without a warrant.

      The motion, which passed 60-38, virtually guarantees that the final bill will pass likely later this week and quashes any opportunity to debate whether protections should be added. Eighteen Democrats — including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who had previously proposed an amendment to restrict the FBI’s surveillance authority — voted in support of the motion. They were joined by 41 Republicans and one independent, Angus King, giving the pro-surveillance bloc the supermajority needed to push the bill forward. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Dan Sullivan, R-Ala., did not vote.

    • US Senate Ends Debate on NSA’s Warrantless Mass Surveillance Proposal

      The bill in question doesn’t bode well for American citizens. Nor is it good news for anyone else on the planet, as the NSA conducts mass surveillance on a very large scale these days. The government agency was granted significant surveillance power decades ago, and it seems things have only gotten worse over time. This week, the US Senate moved a step closer to giving the NSA the right to spy on all American citizens in a virtually limitless and warrantless manner, which is shocking.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Facebook is a ‘living, breathing crime scene,’ says one former tech insider

      “Facebook is a living, breathing crime scene for what happened in the 2016 election — and only they have full access to what happened,” said Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google. His work centers on how technology can ethically steer the thoughts and actions of the masses on social media and he’s been called “the closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience” by The Atlantic magazine.

    • Tencent Widens Its Lead Over Facebook

      That entrenches the Chinese company among the global top five, well ahead of arch-foe Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Investors are betting that Tencent can lean on its billion-plus users and hit games to evolve into an advertising and entertainment titan along the lines of a Google or Facebook. Created almost two decades ago as a desktop messaging platform before morphing into one of the world’s biggest purveyors of video games, the argument is that its dominance of Chinese social networking also bankrolls an expansion into newer markets from video streaming to finance.

    • Tory youth tsar Ben Bradley backed police brutality

      A vice-chairman of the Conservative Party said that “police brutality should be encouraged” after the London riots, The Times can reveal.

    • Diversion Keeps Kids Out of the Criminal Justice System, but Too Many Police in New Jersey Fail to Use It

      Ending mass incarceration starts with keeping young people from being arrested in the first place.

      We’ve all seen something like this on TV or in an old movie: A parent arrives at a police station to pick up their child, who, instead of being arrested and charged with a crime, has just been given a stern warning and an opportunity to make amends.

      The technical term for this practice is diversion, and it’s a critical tool in ending mass incarceration. If we’re going to reduce the number of people we put behind bars, we can’t only focus on people who are incarcerated or who have already had extensive contact with the criminal justice system. We need to prevent that involvement in the first place. That starts in childhood with diversion.

      A forthcoming report from the ACLU of New Jersey, “Missed Opportunities: Youth Diversionary Programs in New Jersey,” delves into strategies to stop the criminalization of our youth, specifically programs that allow young people to avoid arrest for low-level offenses.

    • Appeals Court Says Accessing Data In A Way The Host Doesn’t Like Doesn’t Violate Computer Crime Laws

      The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled [PDF] that accessing publicly-accessible info in a way the hosting entity has said isn’t permissible isn’t a violation of the law. In this case, it’s a couple of laws, since Oracle’s bid to shut down a competitor involves two different states and two different computer crime laws.

      Oracle sued Rimini Street alleging a bunch of computer law-related violations after it continued to harvest data without Oracle’s explicit permission. The EFF, which filed a brief in this case backing Rimini Street, breaks down the details of the alleged violation.

    • Baltimore Judge Tosses Alford Plea, Rebuking Prosecutor

      In a hearing in Baltimore City Circuit Court today, a judge threw out Demetrius Smith’s conviction for a shooting he has long insisted he did not commit and chastised the prosecutor in the case for making several misrepresentations to the court.

      Judge Barry Williams said wiping the shooting conviction from Smith’s record was “in the interest of justice,” adding “there’s too much going on to leave it as is.”

      Smith rejoiced that after a nine-year odyssey through the justice system, he had finally cleared his name. The conviction, he said, “shouldn’t be on my record, because I’m innocent. Period.”

    • Macron-May talks: UK and France must put a stop to ‘systematic violation’ of Calais refugees, warn charities

      The UK and France must urgently put an end to the “systematic violation” of refugees in Calais, a group of charities has warned.

      In a letter shared exclusively with The Independent, eight aid organisations urged leaders Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron to uphold their commitment to human rights law, as conditions for the thousands living on the border become increasingly perilous.

      The group, which includes l’Auberge des Migrants, Help Refugees, Safe Passage and Utopia56, wrote to the leaders on the same day Ms May welcomed the French President to the UK-France Summit at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • .UK overseer Nominet abandons its own charitable foundation – and why this matters

      Nominet, which runs the UK’s domain-name registry, has abandoned its own charitable foundation, raising questions about the organization’s direction and accountability.

      In an email earlier this week, CEO Russell Haworth stunned members of the non-profit, public-interest outfit by announcing that he was withdrawing from the Nominet Trust – a foundation set up over a decade ago by Nominet’s board to deal with excess revenue from registrations of .uk domain names.

      “We’ve been working with Nominet Trust to think about how best to deliver public benefit,” Haworth wrote. “It became clear that the grant-giving, single funder model we set up in 2008 was not the most effective route to greatest impact moving forward. With that in mind, we have agreed that Nominet Trust should be free to attract other investors in order to fulfill their social tech ambitions.”

    • Senate panel approves FCC commissioner for full term

      The panel advanced the nomination in a 14-13 party-line vote on Thursday. Carr, a Republican, was nominated and confirmed in August to a partial term that was set to expire later this year.

    • FCC Won’t Redefine ‘Broadband;’ Move Could Have Worsened Digital Divide

      The FCC announced Thursday that it will continue to define home broadband as connections that are 25 megabits per second (mbps). The commission also established a new standard for mobile broadband as a connection of 10mbps or higher, and said it had rejected the idea—which it had floated last year—of labeling mobile internet service an adequate replacement for home broadband.

    • FCC admits mobile can’t replace home Internet, won’t lower speed standard

      Pai’s FCC has determined that mobile broadband is not a full substitute for home Internet services. The FCC says this even after previously suggesting that mobile Internet might be all Americans need. The FCC also won’t be lowering the speed standard that it uses to judge whether broadband deployment is happening quickly enough.

    • The first lawsuits to save net neutrality have been filed

      Attorneys general from 22 states filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to block the repeal of the rules. Mozilla, maker of the Firefox browser, also said it has filed a suit against the FCC, and several public interest groups have filed petitions in court.

      New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is leading the charge among the states, calling the FCC’s repeal “arbitrary and capricious,” according to a press release announcing the lawsuit. The suit also claims that the FCC “improperly and unlawfully includes sweeping preemption of state and local laws.”

    • Senate Push To Save Net Neutrality Needs Just One Vote, But You Still Shouldn’t Get Your Hopes Up

      While success here has long odds (though this shouldn’t discourage you from contacting your lawmaker anyway), the gambit does have the practical purpose of forcing AT&T, Verizon and Comcast’s lackeys in both houses to put their disdain for the public down on the public record. That’s going to prove particularly useful during the looming midterms, where net neutrality is very quickly becoming a wedge issue. That’s especially true among Millennial voters, who seem to have a more innate understanding of why letting Comcast run amok isn’t a particularly great idea.

      The entire effort again highlights the stupidity of viewing net neutrality through a partisan lens. Despite a healthy, competitive internet being in everybody’s best interest, ISPs have spent fifteen years successfully framing net neutrality as a partisan issue to help sow dissent and stall progress on meaningful rules. Survey after survey however have indicated that the concept has broad, bipartisan support among the public at large. Anger at being ignored will drive voter turnout, and lawmakers (as well as Ajit Pai, whose post-FCC political ambitions couldn’t be clearer) are going to figure that out the hard way.

      All of that said, there’s still plenty of ways to bring net neutrality back to the table should this effort fail. While it will take a while, the looming lawsuits have a solid chance at reversing the FCC’s repeal given the FCC’s numerous procedural and ethical missteps. A massive shakeup in Congress could also finally drive support for a real net neutrality law down the road, provided ISPs aren’t successful in passing their own, entirely bogus legislation first.

    • Mozilla, Consumer Groups Sue The FCC For Its Attack On Net Neutrality

      The Open Technology Institute also says it also filed its own lawsuit against the FCC early, hoping to ensure a favorable court selection during the Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) lottery. All told, four of the net neutrality lawsuits were filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, while the Free Press lawsuit was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
      This is just the opening salvo in what will be a long-standing legal standoff between people who’d prefer the internet remain healthy and competitive, and ISPs eager to abuse a lack of competition in the broadband last mile to their own, additionally anti-competitive advantage. All of the lawsuits will attempt to prove that the FCC violated the Administrative Procedure Act by engaging in an “arbitrary and capricious” reversal of extremely popular policy without proving that the broadband market changed dramatically enough in just two years to warrant it.

      As we’ve noted previously, the lawsuits will also focus on how the FCC turned a blind eye to identity theft and comment fraud during the FCC’s open comment period, and efforts by some group or individual to try and downplay the massive public opposition to the FCC’s handout to the telecom sector. Expect more details on the origins (and potentially funding) of these efforts as the legal fight moves forward over the coming months and years. Though some ISPs surely won’t be able to help themselves, expect ISPs to try and remain on their best behavior for a while to avoid undermining their arguments in court.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Google inks patent deal with Tencent

      “We’re pleased to enter into a patent cross-license with Tencent. [...] ”

    • Trademarks
      • Trump DOJ Considering Challenging Brunetti Scandalous Mark Decision

        In Brunetti, the Federal Circuit extended Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct. 1744 (2017) to further reject the Lanham Act’s restriction on registration of immoral or scandalous marks — finding the limitation to be an unconstitutional restriction of free speech. (In Tam, the Supreme Court found the restriction on registering disparaging marks to be unconstitutional.)

        In this case, the USPTO is being represented by attorneys from the Department of Justice rather than the its own internal solicitors. The DOJ is considering requesting en banc rehearing and has now requested and received an extension to file its petition until February 12, 2018.

    • Copyrights
      • EFF to Court: Linking Is Not Copyright Infringement

        Playboy Entertainment’s lawsuit accusing acclaimed website Boing Boing of copyright infringement—for doing nothing more than reporting on a historical collection of Playboy centerfolds—is groundless and should be thrown out, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told a federal court today.

        As EFF and co-counsel Durie Tangri LLP explain in a request to dismiss the lawsuit filed on behalf of Boing Boing owner Happy Mutants LLC, Playboy’s copyright claim seeks to punish Boing Boing for commenting on and linking to an archive of Playboy “playmate” centerfold images that a third party posted. The blog contained links to an imgur.com page and YouTube video—neither of which were created by Boing Boing. But courts have long recognized that simply linking to content on the web isn’t unlawful.

      • Happy Together Once More: The California Supreme Court and Congress Take Up The Question of Copyright in Old Music Recordings

        Federal copyright law doesn’t give artists and labels the right to control most ways music recordings are played in public. That’s how FM and AM radio stations work. That’s how stores playing soothing “don’t you want to buy something?” music work. And that’s how restaurants playing music at an uncomfortably loud decibel so you can’t talk to your friends work. But because older recordings aren’t covered by these laws, some copyright holders keep trying to use them to gain more control over how their recordings are played – something they’ve never been able to do.

        EFF just weighed in on one of these cases, in the California Supreme Court. In Flo & Eddie v. Pandora Media, we argued that state law, which governs sound recordings made before 1972, doesn’t include a right to control public performances of sound recordings, including radio play. If this sounds familiar, that’s because this fight has played out across the country over the past three years. The high courts of New York and Florida have already ruled that their own state laws don’t let pre-1972 copyright holders control public performances of their sound recordings.

      • Copyright, The First Wave of Internet Censorship

        When someone wants to remove speech from the Internet, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) notice and takedown process can provide the quickest path. This has made copyright law a tempting tool for unscrupulous censors. As content companies push for even more control over what gets posted online, it’s important to remember that any tool used to police copyright will quickly be abused, then adapted, to censor speech more widely.
        We’ve seen abusive DMCA takedown notices from a would-be Senate candidate, small businesses, and Ecuador’s President. We’ve also seen robots-run-amok and sending takedowns for public domain material and white noise. One disturbing trend involves businesses targeting bad reviews. The business, or a shadowy reputation management company acting on its behalf, copies the bad review and “publishes” it elsewhere on the Internet. The business then sends a DMCA takedown notice alleging infringement of the copied, and falsely backdated, review.

      • Playboy is suing Boing Boing – but linking is not copyright infringement

        Playboy’s lawsuit is based on an imaginary (and dangerous) version of US copyright law that bears no connection to any US statute or precedent. Playboy — once legendary champions for the First Amendment — now advances a fringe copyright theory: that it is illegal to link to things other people have posted on the web, on pain of millions in damages — the kinds of sums that would put us (and every other small publisher in America) out of business.

The EPO Ignores This Week’s Decision Which Demonstrates Patent Scope Gone Awry; Software Patents Brought Up Again

Friday 19th of January 2018 07:37:55 AM

It’s all about money and replacing examiners with machines

Summary: The worrisome growth of European Patents (EPs) — a 40% jump in one year in spite of decline in the number of patent applications — is a symptom of the poor judgment, induced largely by bad policies that impede examiners’ activities for the sake of so-called ‘production’; this week’s decision regarding CRISPR is another wake-up call and software patents too need to be abolished (as a whole), in lieu with the European Patent Convention (EPC)

THE EPO has said absolutely nothing about the Board or about Broad. Odd, isn’t it? Not even a tweet. Sometimes they do link to decisions of the Boards of Appeal, but not this time. Instead, there’s this junk about a new Benoît Battistelli photo op (warning: epo.org link). We don’t know if they’re intentionally distracting from something, but we can only guess. Got to maintain the perception of top-notch patent quality, right?

“Battistelli took a flight on some plane and all he got was a lousy photo op (in which he is barely even visible).”As usual, this EPO ‘news’ is all about Benoît Battistelli. Heck, the entire Web site of the EPO is a shrine to Battistelli. How many years will that take to undo?

The world’s news aggregators said nothing about the above meeting, which is pretty insignificant anyway. Battistelli took a flight on some plane and all he got was a lousy photo op (in which he is barely even visible). Blog post imminent? Either way, let’s look at the real news.

“The EPO went overboard, unhinged from the actual purpose and function of patent offices.”Fallout of EPO granting (in error) patents on life is very much visible. It’s prominent in the news. We already wrote 3 articles about it earlier this week (on Wednesday and Thursday [1, 2, 3]). On Thursday it was widely covered by sites that — judging by their names — promote these monopolies for the most part [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Sites of lawyers too weighed in (some of them profit from CRISPR prosecution if not persecution). IAM, by the way, has still said nothing about it; the same goes for Watchtroll and other patent maximalists who would rather pretend nothing happened on Wednesday. CRISPR monopolists are in ‘damage control’ mode over this decision. They issue paid press releases which are face-saving spin.

“Merit-based patents (e.g. on economic grounds) will endure, but algorithms are already protected by copyright law and actual programmers do not want patents.”Yesterday, IP Watch published an article (behind paywall) about an “EPO-EU Conference [which] Examines Hot Topic Of Patentability Of Plants In Europe” and to quote what’s outside the paywall: “The last couple of years have brought heated discussions in Europe on the patentability of plant innovations, leading to a recent amendment of patent application rules at the European Patent Office. Two major actors share this innovation landscape: the biotechnologists and the plant breeders, with similar but not identical needs for protecting their invention. A joint conference on innovation in the plant sector was held recently by the EPO and the Community Plant Variety Office.”

The Community [sic] Plant Variety Office is somewhat of a sham. We wrote several articles about it. The EPO should never permit patents on life and the Community Plant Variety Office is basically the opposite of what its name suggests [1, 2]. It helps to think of it like a corporate think tank.

Curiously enough, not even IP Kat wrote about any of the above. Not at all. Instead, revisiting software patents in Europe, IP Kat wrote this blog post yesterday.

“But what if the Boards lacked independence and feared the Office whose President is a clueless patent maximalist?”“Is the EPO stretching the line for patentable subject-matter, again?”

So asks the headline. Sooner or later all software patents (the EPO always says “computer-implemented inventions” (CII) — a sneaky term which avoids “software patents” being mentioned) too will get wiped, as per the EPC. It happened with plants, seeds, genome etc. so why not software?

The EPO went overboard, unhinged from the actual purpose and function of patent offices. Merit-based patents (e.g. on economic grounds) will endure, but algorithms are already protected by copyright law and actual programmers do not want patents. Any time the EPO loses touch/alignment with the law the Boards should be there to correct it. But what if the Boards lacked independence and feared the Office whose President is a clueless patent maximalist? Battistelli's cluelessness is well documented and it’s an embarrassment to the entire organisation, not just the Office. There were warning signs about it right from the early stages (his candidacy) when he publicly admitted to not having a talent like creative people and inventors (his own words). His inability to comprehend software has repeatedly led to poor decisions, letting automation poorly replace some workflow at the Office. Staff repeatedly complained about it.

As Frantzeska Papadopoulou put it yesterday:

The new Guidelines for Examination of the EPO, valid from 1st of November 2017, include an interesting revised (and rather detailed) section G II 3.7, dedicated to the patentability of claims based on presentation of information. Presentation of information under 52(2)(d) of the EPC includes any form of information (such as visual or, audio) and covers both its cognitive aspect as well as the means of communication. However, the fact that the claims include purely cognitive (and thus non-technical) aspects does not automatically mean hat they are excluded from patentability. Presentation of information that assists the user in achieving a technical task has a technical effect (confirmed also in T336/14 and T1802/13).

Read the comments as well (they tend to be better than IP Kat posts). The first one says

Rather the Guidelines add examples from the case law in order to assist users how to find the rather difficult boarderline between patentable and non-patentable inventions in the field of computer implemented inventions.

The term “computer implemented inventions” is just a synonym of software patents. Don’t be misled by it. The next comment says: “I must confess that I’m slightly confused as to how a claim to lean manufacturing would be considered as a presentation of information, unless the claims were very poorly drafted. The link to pure business methods isn’t convincing at all, I’m afraid.”

“what is the definition of the word “technical” that is so heavily being leaned upon?” So said the next comment and one person replies: “What is a “pure business method?””

“Let’s quit pretending that these semantic and syntactic trick somehow (miraculously) permit the impermissible.”Exactly. These are pretty meaningless terms (“technical”, “pure” and so on) which were created to set up loopholes (“as such”) for patenting algorithms. The Boards ought to put an end to all this nonsense; the sooner, the better. Sure, it would harm Battistelli’s ‘productivity’ claims, but who cares about this megalomaniac? Just because he’s still bullying a judge from the Boards? One might suggest that — gasp! — he does so intentionally.

Anyway, the above issue was also brought up yesterday by Simon Kahn and Joshua McFarlane from Boult Wade Tennant. They’ve just published “EPO Board of Appeal advises how to determine technical subject matter for assessing inventive step” and here are a couple of portions:

Computer implemented inventions, such as computer software, can be easy to copy but time-consuming to develop. Therefore, companies and developers are keen to ensure that relevant intellectual property is obtained for the computer implemented inventions, in which they have invested considerable resources. Patent protection seems like a good choice for protecting such products, because it can provide broad protection and can be enforced without any need to prove copying. Although patent law often restricts protection for computer-implemented inventions, many such inventions are patentable. Nevertheless, there are still grey areas, where protection may be obtainable, but only in certain circumstances and each patent office assesses such inventions in a different way.

[...]

This decision does not change the approach taken by the EPO to assessment of inventive step for computer-implemented inventions that contain some technical subject matter. Nevertheless, it does remind us of the difficulties that are often faced in securing patent protection for computer-implemented inventions. Such objections from Examining Divisions come up frequently and it is important to be aware of how they can be overcome, so the applicant can be awarded the protection to which they are entitled.

Notice their use of words like “inventive step”, “computer-implemented inventions” and so on. Let’s quit pretending that these semantic and syntactic trick somehow (miraculously) permit the impermissible. In the US, more so after Alice (2014), the word “abstract” is thrown around a lot. Based on major European law firms, the US is now more strict than the EPO and has made it harder to obtain software patents (than in Europe). If the EPC still means anything and isn’t just an old piece of paper, then it’s time to enforce the rules and curtail the endless expansion of patent scope. WIPO might not like it, but so what? The patent systems need not operate like a capitalist enterprise in pursuit of constant growth. What is this growth anyway? An expansion of monopoly? Is this even desirable?

WesternGeco v ION Geophysical (at the US Supreme Court) Won’t Affect Patent Scope

Friday 19th of January 2018 06:25:28 AM

The de facto reference for the case

Summary: As WesternGeco v ION Geophysical is the main if not sole ‘major’ patent case that the US Supreme Court will deal with, it seems safe to say that nothing substantial will change for patent scope in the United States this year

THE patent microcosm has begun speaking more and more about WesternGeco v ION Geophysical — a case which we’ve mentioned several times so far this week, usually in the context of Alice being safe from challenge [1, 2].

“It has absolutely no impact on patent scope.”To avoid misunderstandings, let is be stressed that the decision — whichever way it may go — won’t have any profound effect on anything we cover. It’s barely of any relevance to us. An article from Prof. Kumar (last revised days ago) is titled “Patent Damages Without Borders” [via] and the abstract is a concise summary of the case: “The presumption against extraterritoriality is a deceptively straightforward principle: that U.S. law applies only inside the United States. But there is confusion regarding whether the presumption applies when a court calculates patent damages. In WesternGeco L.L.C. v. Ion Geophysical Corp., the Federal Circuit held that patent holders who show infringement under § 271(f) of the Patent Act cannot recover foreign lost profits. The court maintained that allowing recovery of such damages would result in the Patent Act applying extraterritorially, which cannot be done without Congress’s clear intent. This interpretation severely limits the ability of district courts to make patent infringement victims whole. This Article maintains that the Federal Circuit’s reliance on the presumption is misplaced. The presumption was established to prevent U.S. law from applying to extraterritorial conduct; it was not intended to cover situations where foreign harm flows directly from an act of domestic patent infringement. The presumption has been rebutted under the Supreme Court’s two-step extraterritoriality test. By creating this bright-line rule, the Federal Circuit has unduly restricted the ability of patent holders to recover damages, including in cases where there is no other applicable law. This Article proposes that the Federal Circuit adopt a flexible test that balances prescriptive comity concerns with the United State’s interest in making victims of domestic patent infringement whole.”

One can be sure that IAM will already spin that with sensationalist headlines and tweets (saying that the “the US patent system is recovering some of its bite”). From their article:

What gives all this an added angle is that Trump’s comments followed the Supreme Court’s decision to grant cert in WesternGeco LLC v ION Geophysical Corp, a case focused on whether a patent owner, having been successful in an infringement assertion, can recover lost profits that it would have earned outside of the US if the infringement had not occurred. Should the petitioner WesternGeco, which owns the original patents in suit related to conducting marine seismic surveys, be successful then patent owners could see big jumps in the amount of damages they can recoup. The case, which the US Justice Department urged the court to take, is not specifically focused on China, but taken with the trade investigation represents another way in which US authorities maybe about to get much tougher on the infringement of US IP overseas.

IAM’s obsession with China has long been noted here. They don’t like seeing how all/much of the trolling activity has moved to China, which necessitates coverage of Chinese affairs (something IAM lacks the staff to deal with; only one writer can cope with Mandarin and she’s new).

For better coverage of the relevance of this decision, see the CCIA’s Patent Progress, which yesterday wrote:

Last Friday, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in WesternGeco v. ION Geophysical. Essentially, the case asks whether, when components for a patented process or machine are manufactured in the U.S. and combined or used abroad, the profits lost due to the foreign activities can be considered lost profits and awarded as damages under U.S. patent law.

This is inherently a “damages” case. It has absolutely no impact on patent scope. It’s therefore not likely that we’ll cover it closely later in the year.

Links 18/1/2018: MenuLibre 2.1.4, Git 2.16 Released

Thursday 18th of January 2018 05:39:36 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Reliance Jio and global tech leaders come together to push Open Source in India

    The India Digital Open Summit which will be held tomorrow at the Reliance Corporate Park campus in Navi Mumbai -is a must-attend event for industry leaders, policymakers, technologists, academia, and developer communities working towards India’s digital leadership through Open Source platforms.

    The summit is hosted by Reliance Jio in partnership with the Linux Foundation and supported by Cisco Systems.

  • Open-source software simulates river and runoff resources

    Freshwater resources are finite, unevenly distributed, and changing through time. The demand—and competition—for water is expected to grow both in the United States and in the developing/developed world. To examine the connection between supply and demand and resulting regional and global water stresses, a team developed Xanthos. The open-source hydrologic model is available for free and helps researchers explore the details and analyze global water availability.

    Researchers can use Xanthos to examine the implications of different climate, socioeconomic, and/or energy scenarios over the 21st century. They can then assess the effects of the scenarios on regional and global water availability. Xanthos can be used in three different ways. It can operate as an independent hydrologic model, driven, for example, by scenarios. It can serve as the core freshwater supply component of the Global Change Assessment Model, where multiple sectors and natural systems are modeled simultaneously as part of an interconnected, complex system. Further, it can be used by other integrated models and multi-model frameworks that focus on energy-water-land interactions.

  • “The Apache Way” — Open source done well

    I was at an industry conference and was happy to see many people stopping by the Apache booth. I was pleased that they were familiar with the Apache brand, yet puzzled to learn that so many were unfamiliar with The Apache Software Foundation (ASF).

    For this special issue, “All Eyes On Open Source”, it’s important to recognize not just Apache’s diverse projects and communities, but also the entity behind their success.

    Gone are the days when software and technology, in general, were developed privately for the benefit of the few. As technology evolves, the challenges we face become more complex, and the only way to effectively move forward to create the technology of the future is to collaborate and work together. Open Source is a perfect framework for that, and organizations like the ASF carry out a decisive role in protecting its spirit and principles.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox Telemetry Use Counters: Over-estimating usage, now fixed

        Firefox Telemetry records the usage of certain web features via a mechanism called Use Counters. Essentially, for every document that Firefox loads, we record a “false” if the document didn’t use a counted feature, and a “true” if the document did use that counted feature.

      • Firefox 58 new contributors
      • Giving and receiving help at Mozilla

        This is going to sound corny, but helping people really is one of my favorite things at Mozilla, even with projects I have mostly moved on from. As someone who primarily works on internal tools, I love hearing about bugs in the software I maintain or questions on how to use it best.

        Given this, you might think that getting in touch with me via irc or slack is the fastest and best way to get your issue addressed. We certainly have a culture of using these instant-messaging applications at Mozilla for everything and anything. Unfortunately, I have found that being “always on” to respond to everything hasn’t been positive for either my productivity or mental health. My personal situation aside, getting pinged on irc while I’m out of the office often results in stuff getting lost — the person who asked me the question is often gone by the time I return and am able to answer.

      • Friend of Add-ons: Trishul Goe

        Our newest Friend of Add-ons is Trishul Goel! Trishul first became involved with Mozilla five years when he was introduced to the Firefox OS smartphone. As a JavaScript developer with an interest in Mozilla’s mission, he looked for opportunities to get involved and began contributing to SUMO, L10n, and the Firefox OS Marketplace, where he contributed code and developed and reviewed apps.

        After Firefox OS was discontinued as a commercial product, Trishul became interested in contributing to Mozilla’s add-ons projects. After landing his first code contributions to addons.mozilla.org (AMO), he set about learning how to develop extensions for Firefox using WebExtensions APIs. Soon, he began sharing his knowledge by leading and mentoring workshops for extension developers as part of Mozilla’s “Build Your Own Extension” Activate campaign.

      • Making WebAssembly even faster: Firefox’s new streaming and tiering compiler

        People call WebAssembly a game changer because it makes it possible to run code on the web faster. Some of these speedups are already present, and some are yet to come.

        One of these speedups is streaming compilation, where the browser compiles the code while the code is still being downloaded. Up until now, this was just a potential future speedup. But with the release of Firefox 58 next week, it becomes a reality.

        Firefox 58 also includes a new 2-tiered compiler. The new baseline compiler compiles code 10–15 times faster than the optimizing compiler.

      • Firefox 58 Bringing Faster WebAssembly Compilation With Two-Tiered Compiler

        With the launch of Mozilla Firefox 58 slated for next week, WebAssembly will become even faster thanks to a new two-tiered compiler.

      • New Kernel Releases, Net Neutrality, Thunderbird Survey and More

        In an effort to protect Net Neutrality (and the internet), Mozilla filed a petition in federal court yesterday against the FCC. The idea behind Net Neutrality is to treat all internet traffic equally and without discrimination against content or type.

        Make your opinions heard: Monterail and the Thunderbird email client development team are asking for your assistance to help improve the user interface in the redesign of the Thunderbird application. Be sure to take the survey.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • LLVM 6.0-RC1 Makes Its Belated Debut

      While LLVM/Clang 6.0 was branched earlier this month and under a feature freeze with master/trunk moving to LLVM 7.0, two weeks later the first release candidate is now available.

      Normally the first release candidate comes immediately following the branching / feature freeze, but not this time due to the shifted schedule with a slow start to satisfy an unnamed company seeking to align their internal testing with LLVM 6.0.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Hackers can’t dig into latest Xiaomi phone due to GPL violations

      Yet another Android OEM is dragging its feet with its GPL compliance. This time, it’s Xiaomi with the Mi A1 Android One device, which still hasn’t seen a kernel source code release.

      Android vendors are required to release their kernel sources thanks to the Linux kernel’s GPLv2 licensing. The Mi A1 has been out for about three months now, and there’s still no source code release on Xiaomi’s official github account.

    • 2017 – The Year in Which Copyright Went Beyond Source Code

      2017 was a big year for raising the profile of copyright in protecting computer programs. Two cases in particular helped bring attention to a myth that was addressed and dispelled some time ago but persists in some circles nonetheless. Many lawyers hold on to the notion that copyright protection for software is weak because such protection inheres in the source code of computer programs. Because most companies that generate code take extensive (and often successful) measures to keep source code out of the hands of third parties, the utility of copyright protection for code is often viewed as limited. However, copyright also extends to the “non-literal elements” of computer programs, such as their sequence, structure and organization, as well as to things such as screen displays and certain user interfaces. In other words, copyright infringement can occur when copying certain outputs of the code without there ever having been access to the underlying code itself.

  • Programming/Development
    • Git v2.16.0

      The latest feature release Git v2.16.0 is now available at the usual places. It is comprised of 509 non-merge commits since v2.15.0, contributed by 91 people, 26 of which are new faces.

    • Git 2.16 Released

      Git maintainer Junio Hamano has released version 2.16.0 of this distributed revision control system.

    • Announcing The Node.js Application Showcase

      The stats around Node.js are pretty staggering. There were 25 million downloads of Node.js in 2017, with over one million of them happening on a single day. And these stats are just the users. On the community side, the numbers are equally exceptional.

      What explains this immense popularity? What we hear over and over is that, because Node.js is JavaScript, anyone who knows JS can apply that knowledge to build powerful apps — every kind of app. Node.js empowers everyone from hobbyists to the largest enterprise teams to bring their dreams to life faster than ever before.

    • Google AutoML Cloud: Now Build Machine Learning Models Without Coding Experience

      Google has been offering pre-trained neural networks for a long time. To lower the barrier of entry and make the AI available to all the developers and businesses around, Google has now introduced Cloud AutoML.

      With the help of Cloud AutoML, businesses will be able to build machine learning models with the help of a drag-and-drop interface. In other words, if your company doesn’t have expert machine-learning programmers, Google is here to fulfill your needs.

    • Re-imagining beta testing in the ever-changing world of automation

      Fundamentally, beta testing is a test of a product performed by real users in the real environment. There are a number of names for this type of testing—user acceptance testing (UAT), customer acceptance testing (CAT), customer validation and field testing (common in Europe)—but the basic components are more or less the same. All involve user testing of the front-end user interface (UI) and the user experience (UX) to find and resolve potential issues. Testing happens across iterations in the software development lifecycle (SDLC), from when an idea transforms into a design, across the development phases, to after unit and integration testing.

    • IBM code grandmaster: what Java does next

      Reports of Java’s death have been greatly exaggerated — said, well, pretty much every Java engineer that there is.

      The Java language and platform may have been (in some people’s view) somewhat unceremoniously shunted into a side ally by the self-proclaimed aggressive corporate acquisition strategists (their words, not ours) at Oracle… but Java still enjoys widespread adoption and, in some strains, growing use and development.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • Announcing WebBook Level 1, a new Web-based format for electronic books

      Eons ago, at a time BlueGriffon was only a Wysiwyg editor for the Web, my friend Mohamed Zergaoui asked why I was not turning BlueGriffon into an EPUB editor… I had been observing the electronic book market since the early days of Cytale and its Cybook but I was not involved into it on a daily basis. That seemed not only an excellent idea, but also a fairly workable one. EPUB is based on flavors of HTML so I would not have to reinvent the wheel.

      I started diving into the EPUB specs the very same day, EPUB 2.0.1 (released in 2009) at that time. I immediately discovered a technology that was not far away from the Web but that was also clearly not the Web. In particular, I immediately saw that two crucial features were missing: it was impossible to aggregate a set of Web pages into a EPUB book through a trivial zip, and it was impossible to unzip a EPUB book and make it trivially readable inside a Web browser even with graceful degradation.

      When the IDPF started working on EPUB 3.0 (with its 3.0.1 revision) and 3.1, I said this was coming too fast, and that the lack of Test Suites with interoperable implementations as we often have in W3C exit criteria was a critical issue. More importantly, the market was, in my opinion, not ready to absorb so quickly two major and one minor revisions of EPUB given the huge cost on both publishing chains and existing ebook bases. I also thought – and said – the EPUB 3.x specifications were suffering from clear technical issues, including the two missing features quoted above.

Leftovers
  • Some thoughts on security after ten years of qmail 1.0

    Bernstein offers three answers to these questions, and also warns of three distractions: things that we believe are making things better, but may actually be making things worse. It seems a good time to revisit them. Let’s get the distractions out of the way first.

  • Science
    • Crowds within crowd found to outperform ‘wisdom of the crowd’

      A team of researchers affiliated with institutions in Argentina, the U.S. and Germany has found that there is a way to improve on the “wisdom of the crowd”—separate the people in a given crowd into smaller groups and let them talk about an issue at hand before an answer is given. In their paper published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, the group describes an experiment they carried out with a large crowd of volunteers, and what they learned from it.

      Most people have heard of the “wisdom of the crowd,” in which individuals in a crowd are privately asked to give an answer to a question, such as how many jelly beans are in a jar. When averaged together, the answer given by the crowd will generally be better than for any given individual. Now, it appears there may be a way to improve the accuracy of a crowd.

    • The Physics of the 69-Degree Intersection That Kills Cyclists

      In short, the problem comes about because of the angle of the intersection (it’s not perpendicular) and the angle of the blind spot in the car from its front pillar.

    • A material that superconducts continuously up to extreme pressures

      Researchers have discovered a metal alloy that can conduct electricity with zero resistance, or superconduct, from ambient pressure up to pressures similar to those that exist near the center of the Earth. The material, which is likely the first to show this kind of robust superconductivity, is described in a paper in the December 12, 2017, edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

      The material is a member of a new family of metal alloys known as high-entropy alloys (HEAs), which are composed of random atomic-scale mixtures of elements from the block of “transition metals” on the periodic table. HEAs are interesting in multiple ways, including structurally. They have simple crystal structures, but the metals are arranged randomly on the lattice points, giving each alloy the properties of a both a glass and a crystalline material.

    • Study: Pulsating dissolution found in crystals

      When German researchers examined time-lapse images of dissolving crystals at the nanoscale, they found a surprise: Dissolution happened in pulses, marked by waves that spread just like ripples on a pond.

      “What we see are waves or rings,” said lead investigator Cornelius Fischer, who conducted this research at the University of Bremen in the group of Prof. Andreas Lüttge. “We have a pit in the middle, and then around these pits are rings of mass removal.” The research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fischer and Lüttge specialize in studying minerals-fluid interactions, and have collaborated for more than 15 years in the US and Germany.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Turning Soybeans Into Diesel Fuel Is Costing Us Billions

      This year, trucks and other heavy-duty motors in America will burn some 3 billion gallons of diesel fuel that was made from soybean oil. They’re doing it, though, not because it’s cheaper or better, but because they’re required to, by law.

      The law is the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. For some, especially Midwestern farmers, it’s the key to creating clean energy from American soil and sun. For others — like many economists — it’s a wasteful misuse of resources.

    • MEAT AND THE H-WORD

      I am going to beg you. I am going to desperately plead with you. Let me say the word, and let me say why I’m saying the word, and then let’s have a discussion about it. I know that for some people, even to suggest that the word might apply to this case is tantamount to denialism. Just to have the conversation is to dishonor the victims. I realize, too, that I don’t strictly need this word, of all words, in order to discuss the subject. I have been advised that it is counterproductive: feelings about the word are so fraught that the offense caused will outweigh any good I could possibly do, and will cause me to be far less persuasive than I otherwise would be. And isn’t this about persuasion, ultimately? But I can’t help it: every time I examine the facts, I can’t stop thinking the word. If I’m being honest with you, and I want to be, I need to be able to tell you the question that I’m stuck on, and the question contains the word.

      The word is “holocaust” and the question is this: “Given the amount of suffering and death that it entails, why is it improper to describe the mass slaughter of animals for human consumption as a holocaust?”

      I appreciate why people react badly to any description of the loss of non-human life as a holocaust. One of the most disturbing features of the capital-H Holocaust was the dehumanization process. David Livingstone Smith, in Less Than Human, describes how a common prerequisite to atrocities is reconfiguring perceptions of a group, to make them seem not just metaphorically but literally “subhuman.” We all know that the Nazis described the Jews as rats and the Hutus describe the Tutsis as cockroaches. “Comparing people to animals” is such a common feature of organized brutality that any argument to draw parallels between animal-victims and people-victims can be seen as partly replicating the very thought process that led to the actual Holocaust.

    • Global Summit On IP And Access Discusses Impact Of TRIPS-Plus Measures On Public Health

      A network of civil society organisations chose the birthplace of the World Trade Organization, Marrakesh, to hold a global summit on intellectual property and access to medicines this week. Part of the summit focused on stringent IP measures in free trade agreements in particular with the European Union, introducing patent term extension and data exclusivity periods.

    • Dangerous Deliveries

      Across the United States, maternal mortality — when a mother dies from pregnancy-related complications while pregnant or within 42 days of giving birth — jumped by 27 percent between 2000 and 2014, according to a 2016 study published in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

    • Supermarkets under pressure to reveal amount of plastic they create

      Supermarkets are coming under growing pressure from politicians and campaigners to reveal the amount of plastic they create, and pay more towards its safe disposal, following a Guardian investigation.

      Amid mounting concern about the devastating environmental impact of plastic pollution around the globe, the Guardian revealed on Wednesday that the UK’s leading supermarkets create almost 1m tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year.

      However, the system is shrouded in secrecy. When the Guardian asked leading retailers to reveal the exact amount of waste they are responsible for, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, Asda and Lidl all refused, saying the information was “commercially sensitive”.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Latvia’s e-health system hit by cyberattack from abroad

      Latvia said its new e-health system was on Tuesday hit by a large-scale cyberattack that saw thousands of requests for medical prescriptions pour in per second from more than 20 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the European Union.

      No data was compromised, according to health officials, who immediately took down the site, which was launched earlier this month to streamline the writing of prescriptions in the Baltic state.

      “It is clear that it was a planned attack, a widespread attack—we might say a specialised one—as it emanated from computers located in various different countries, both inside the European Union and outside Europe,” state secretary Aivars Lapins told reporters.

      “We received thousands of requests in a very short space of time. That’s not the normal way the system works,” he said, adding that an investigation is under way.

    • Linux Lite Developer Creates Automated Spectre/Meltdown Checker for Linux OSes

      The developer of the Ubuntu-based Linux Lite distribution has created a script that makes it easier for Linux users to check if their systems are vulnerable to the Meltdown and Spectre security flaws.

      As we reported last week, developer Stéphane Lesimple created an excellent script that would check if your Linux distribution’s kernel is patched against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities that have been publicly disclosed earlier this month and put billions of devices at risk of attacks.

    • Purism Releases Meltdown and Spectre Patches for Its Librem Linux Laptops

      Purism, the computer technology company behind the privacy-focused, Linux-based Librem laptops and the upcoming smartphone, released patches for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities.

      The company was one of the first Linux OEMs and OS vendor to announce that it’s working on addressing both the Meltdown and Spectre security exploits on his Linux laptops. Meltdown and Spectre have been unearthed in early January and they are two severe hardware bugs that put billions of devices at risk of attacks.

    • Facebook Awards Security Researchers $880,000 in 2017 Bug Bounties

      Facebook is hardly a small organization, with large teams of engineers and security professionals on staff. Yet even Facebook has found that it can profit from expertise outside of the company, which is why the social networking giant has continued to benefit from its bug bounty program.

      In 2017, Facebook paid out $880,000 to security researchers as part of its bug bounty program. The average reward payout in 2017 was $1,900, up from $1,675 in 2016.

    • Multicloud Deployments Create Security Challenges, F5 Report Finds
    • Will U.S. Corporations Ever Take Cybersecurity Seriously?

      It’s another month, and another major IT-related security problem has been uncovered. The latest, the security flaws discovered in Intel, AMD, and AMR chips that can allow the bypassing of operating system security protections are a bit different than most vulnerabilities. They are hardware rather than software-based, and their impacts are exceptionally widespread, impacting nearly every Intel processor made since the mid-1990s. Billions of chips in total could be affected.

    • Spectre Mitigation Updates Available for Testing in Ubuntu Proposed
    • What is Mirai Okiru? New botnet found targeting billions of ARC-based IoT devices worldwide

      ARC-embedded processors are found in a wide range of internet-connected devices including cars, mobiles, TVs and cameras and are reportedly shipped in more than a billion products every year.

    • Hospital pays $55,000 in bitcoin to hackers [sic] after ‘SamSam’ ransomware locks systems [iophk: "hospital + Microsoft financing more crime"]

      Last Thursday (11 January), staff at Hancock Regional Hospital, Indiana, found their computers had been infected with malware, which was demanding bitcoin to regain access. As reported, the hack [sic] impacted emails and health records, but no patient data is believed stolen.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Assange recalls fake reporting on Turkish defeated coup

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday pointed out the fake news regarding defeated coup in Turkey was not mentioned in U.S. President Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed “Fake News Awards”.

      “The most serious case of recent fake news is not on Trump’s #FakeNewsAwards list. NBC substantially assisted the military coup in Turkey which killed hundreds,” Assange wrote on his official Twitter account.

      Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 others injured.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Fracking Lobbyists Plan to Spend Big at Trump Hotel

      FRACKING FIRMS HAVE had much to celebrate over the last year, as the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have moved swiftly to approve pipeline projects, roll back environmental regulations, and expand drilling access on public lands.

      It may come as no surprise, then, that the fracking lobby is the latest industry to return the favor by spending thousands of dollars at a Trump family property.

      The Independent Petroleum Association of America will hold its 2018 “Congressional Call-Up” lobbying event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. from March 5 to 7. The agenda, which is publicly available, includes a meeting with officials in Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as meetings for conference attendees that will take place at the hotel.

    • Europe will hike climate finance spending, insists Cañete

      The EU’s climate chief Miguel Arias Cañete has vowed to increase the bloc’s funding for climate change adaption, pledging that 20% of the EU’s foreign spending would be allocated to climate-related projects.

      Speaking at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on Wednesday (17 January), Cañete, the EU’s Commissioner for Climate Action, insisted that EU-provided climate finance to developing countries would increase in 2018.

      However, he warned that public money could not form the main contribution to the $100 billion annual target which wealthy countries have promised to invest in renewable energy and climate change mitigation projects in developing countries.

  • Finance
    • Apple to pay $38 billion in US taxes on overseas cash

      Apple didn’t have a choice about this. Under the new tax bill, all overseas cash is subject to a one-time 15.5 percent tax whether Apple leaves it overseas or moves it to the United States.

    • Apple to repatriate overseas cash stash, invest heavily in US

      Apple will pay taxes of about US$38 billion in order to repatriate the US$246 billion in cash it holds overseas, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

    • Homeland Security’s Over Obsession With Counterfeits Now Harming Innocent Buyers Of Counterfeit Goods Online

      For many years we’ve talked about the kind of derangement that happens among many — especially among those working for Homeland Security’s Customs and ICE divisions — considering the supposed “dangers” of counterfeit goods. Over and over again we’ve pointed to studies that have shown that the “harm” of counterfeits is massively overblown. And these are not just random studies picked out of a hat. Both the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the OECD have put out studies on this. When you look at the details, you quickly learn that while there are a few cases of people tricked by counterfeit goods — and a vanishingly small number of cases where people are put at risk due to counterfeits — in many, many cases, no one is actually losing out due to counterfeits. They are frequently an aspirational buy. That is, the buyer knows they’re buying a counterfeit good, but are doing so because they so appreciate the real version, but can’t afford it. And studies show that buyers of counterfeits quite frequently buy the real deal later when they’re able to afford it. Thus, counterfeits often act as marketing for the original.

      But, for whatever reason, Homeland Security likes to play up the “threats” of counterfeits and makes lots of noise about how many counterfeit things it seizes at the border every year (or… not at the border — such as the time it raided a lingerie store to get “counterfeit” panties advertising sports teams). And sure, Homeland Security really really wants you to believe it’s protecting the public with this kind of thing.

    • 5 key reasons bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies have lost a stunning $370 billion in 10 days

      The No. 1 digital currency and its cohort continued to unravel Wednesday, extending a downturn that has seen the entire sector cough up a whopping $370 billion since Jan. 7, or more than 40% of their total value.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • The Art of State Trolling – a Growing Market

      Last week, while I was doing a number of talks for Funzing.com in London, I was invited into RT to discuss a new report about the US military advertising for programmers who could develop software that targeted Iranian, Chinese and Russian audiences via social media.

      The timing proved interesting. Only days before, it was revealed by @musalbas at the CCC and then via Wikileaks that the UK government listening post, GCHQ, had apparently been doing the same thing since 2009.

    • Porn Star Stormy Daniels to In Touch: Trump Said I Was “Just Like His Daughter”

      Although Donald Trump is alleged to have paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in 2016 to keep quiet about a reported affair that took place 10 years previously, In Touch Weekly has published an interview with Daniels from 2011, before the signing of any NDA, in which she spills intimate details of meeting the then-Apprentice host at a celebrity golf event in Lake Tahoe.

      A frequent theme throughout the interview concerns Trump being taken aback by how smart and business savvy Daniels was, with Trump going so far as to tell Daniels that he wanted to put her on The Apprentice. One of Daniels’s quotes on the subject which In Touch published in the print edition of the story but not online, is particularly striking.

    • “It’s Even Worse Than You Think”: David Cay Johnston on Trump’s First Year in Office

      Uninformed. That was the word White House Chief of Staff John Kelly used to describe his boss, President Trump, on Thursday. According to The Washington Post, Kelly told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that some of Trump’s hardline immigration policies—including his call to build a wall along the entire southern border— were “uninformed.” Kelly said, “Certain things are said during the campaign that are uninformed.” Well, today we spend the hour looking at Trump’s first year in office with David Cay Johnston, a journalist who has been covering Donald Trump since 1988. He is out this week with a new book titled “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • YouTube to manually review popular videos before placing ads

      Previously, creators could join YPP if they had more than 10,000 views over the lifetime of their activity on the site. Now, however, they will need 1,000 subscribers to their channel, and a total of 4,000 hours of video viewed over the previous 12 months.

    • Quack Doctor Treating Cancer With Baking Soda Sues Skeptic For Questioning Her Cancer Treatment Methods

      Very little attracts legal threats faster than someone calling a quack a quack. If it energizes tap water like a duck and promotes off-label use of dangerous drugs like a duck, it’s probably a duck. The legal history of “alternative” medical practices is littered with cease-and-desist orders and failed lawsuits. The legal present is just as cluttered.

      Blogger/skeptic Britt Hermes could have gone down the road to quack infamy. She was on the “naturopathic” career path when she came to the realization the whole things was horseshit. Rather than exploit the horseshit to make sick people sicker, Hermes decided to let the world know just how much horseshit her former colleagues were peddling.

    • Psychiatrist Drops His Lawsuit Against Critic Who Left Wordless One-Star Review

      It looks like the psychiatrist who sued a pseudonymous reviewer over a wordless one-star review has finally decided to stop digging this particular hole. Since news broke of psychiatrist Mark Beale’s defamation suit against “Richard Hill,” Beale has amassed a great many one-star reviews by non-patients. There’s no telling if Beale will be seeking to file an en masse lawsuit against these Does (taking a page out of copyright trolls’ handbooks), but this cannot possibly be what he envisioned when he decided the original one-star review was worth suing over.

      Unbelievably, Beale managed to convince a judge to allow him to seek the real identity of “Richard Hill” in order to continue with his lawsuit. Not only did the judge give enough credence to Beale’s argument that a one-star review was per se defamatory, but the judge granted the unmasking order, calling a review of business “commercial speech” — something given less protection under the First Amendment.

    • David North, Chris Hedges and WSWS.Org on Organizing Against Internet Censorship

      On January 16, 2018, the World Socialist Web Site hosted a discussion on Internet censorship, featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges and WSWS International Editorial Board Chairperson David North, moderated by WSWS reporter Andre Damon.

      The webinar explored the political context of the efforts to censor the Internet and abolish net neutrality, examined the pretexts used to justify the suppression of free speech (i.e., “fake news”), and discussed political strategies to defend democratic rights. Hedges and North also fielded questions from on-line listeners.

    • Terry Glavin: As China pushes censorship on B.C. students, democracy falls back

      It’s a story about the way the Beijing regime bullies people far beyond its borders, with a few amusing twists and several disgusting instances of corporate cowardice, but it begins innocently enough, with a 28-year-old student at the University of British Columbia and a post he put up on Twitter last Wednesday.

      Shawn Zhang, a Peking University alumnus who came to Canada on a student visa two years ago to study law, posted an image of the Tibetan flag below a tongue-in-cheek announcement on the Twitter account of Friends of Tibet, a solidarity group based in India that keeps an eye on China’s brutal occupation of the exiled Dalai Lama’s Himalayan homeland.

    • Philippines: Journalists Decry Gov’t Crackdown Against News Outlet Rappler

      In the Philippines, journalists and press freedom advocates are condemning Duterte’s government for trying to shut down the highly popular independent news outlet Rappler. On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked Rappler’s license to operate on the charges that the website is foreign-owned, even though the website is owned by Filipinos. This morning, the Philippines Justice Department authorized the opening of a criminal investigation into the website. Rappler and press freedom advocates say the website is being targeted for its critical reporting on Rodrigo Duterte’s administration and his devastating so-called drug war.

    • Student journalists speak up for Missouri bill that would shield them from censorship

      Opioids, race and politics are some of the topics Kirkwood High School senior Camille Baker has led coverage of as her school newspaper’s editor in chief.

      She’s lucky enough to have the support of her school’s leaders. But she realizes her peers across the state may not have the same freedom.

      On Wednesday, she testified before a Missouri House committee in support of a bill that would prohibit a school’s administration from censoring student journalists.

    • To Combat High-Profile Abuse of Its Platform, YouTube Punishes Small Timers
    • Lebanon allows Spielberg film ‘The Post’ after censorship threat
    • Conservatives invited to pressure Twitter over censorship
    • Assange Keeps Warning Of AI Censorship, And It’s Time We Started Listening

      Throughout the near entirety of human history, a population’s understanding of what’s going on in the world has been controlled by those in power. The men in charge controlled what the people were told about rival populations, the history of their tribe and its leadership, etc. When the written word was invented, men in charge dictated what books were permitted to be written and circulated, what ideas were allowed, what narratives the public would be granted access to.

      This continued straight on into modern times. Where power is not overtly totalitarian, wealthy elites have bought up all media, first in print, then radio, then television, and used it to advance narratives that are favorable to their interests. Not until humanity gained widespread access to the internet has our species had the ability to freely and easily share ideas and information on a large scale without regulation by the iron-fisted grip of power. This newfound ability arguably had a direct impact on the election for the most powerful elected office in the most powerful government in the world in 2016, as a leak publishing outlet combined with alternative and social media enabled ordinary Americans to tell one another their own stories about what they thought was going on in their country.

    • Libraries sue Elbert County Commissioner over censorship fears

      Libraries in Elbert County are suing county commissioners who want to take a stronger role in determining who is appointed to lead boards and commissions.

      Next reported last month that the three new Republican commissioners voted to approve a policy that states appointments to boards or committees are to be “generally reflective of the overall citizenry of the county.”

      Now, Pines and Plains Libraries, which are part of the Elbert County Library District, are suing the board of county commissioners. The libraries want an injunction to stop the commissioners from interfering with its board of trustees.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • EU GDPR and personal data in web server logs

      Web server logs contains information classified as personal data by default under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The new privacy regulation comes in effect in May 2018, and just about everyone needs to take action now to become compliant.

      Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer and I’m not providing you legal advise. Contact your legal council for help interpreting and implementing the GDPR. This article is provided for entertainment purposes, and amounts to nothing but my interpretation of the GDPR.

      The General Data Protection Regulation shifts the default operating mode for personal data collection from collect and store as much information about everyone as possible for all eternity to don’t collect any information about anyone unless there is documented and informed consent for the collection; and don’t use that information for anything but the specific purposes consent were given for. The GDPR turns big-data collection of personal data on the web from an asset to a liability with fines as high as 20 000 000 Euro or 4 % of global revenue (whichever is greater).

      I’ve limited the scope of this article to discuss and focus on some of the technical requirements surrounding personal data collected by default in the logs generated by popular web server software. I’ll not go through the entire GDPR and all the requirements, but focus on some actionable points.

    • Sweatcoin lets you earn crypto for working out

      Want a way to workout and earn some coin? Sweatcoin has risen to the top of the App Store for helping folks get something more than just a glow for taking those daily steps.

      The startup says it has accumulated more than 5 million users in the past year and increased revenue by 266 percent in the last quarter. There are more than 2 million weekly active users on the app, and growing, making it one of the fastest-growing fitness apps in the App Store and second to the top in the free apps, next only to the Google Arts & Culture app that blew up over the weekend.

      It works like this: users sign up and then hook up their smartphone’s health and fitness data and GPS location to the app. The app then tracks how many steps you take in a day and rewards you a monetary “sweat” value according to your movements. For every 1,000 steps recorded, the app will pay out .95 in “sweatcoins.” Users can later trade these coins in for fitness gear, workout classes, gift cards and a number of other offerings.

    • Using AI To Identify Car Models In 50 Million Google Street Views Reveals A Wide Range Of Demographic Information

      Google Street View is a great resource for taking a look at distant locations before travelling, or for visualizing a nearby address before driving there. But Street View images are much more than vivid versions of otherwise flat maps: they are slices of modern life, conveniently sorted by geolocation. That means they can provide all kinds of insights into how society operates, and what the differences are geographically. The tricky part is extracting that information. An article in the New York Times reports on how researchers at Stanford University have applied artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to 50 million Google Street View images taken in 200 US cities. Since analyzing images of people directly is hard and fraught with privacy concerns, the researchers concentrated on a proxy: cars.

    • US Telcos Threatened With Loss Of Government Contracts If They Do Business With Huawei

      Last week we noted how AT&T was forced to scrap a partnership with Huawei to sell the company’s smartphones here in the States, just hours before it was set to be announced at CES. The reason? Apparently a few members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees fired off a letter to the FCC demanding that they pressure US telcos into avoiding Huawei. The letter, which nobody has published, allegedly accuses the company of being little more than an intelligence proxy for the Chinese government.

      There are several problems with this. While it’s certainly possible that Huawei helps the Chinese government spy, there’s been no hard evidence of this. In fact, numerous investigations (including one eighteen months long) found no evidence of any spying whatsoever. What inquiries did find is that these allegations pretty consistently originate with U.S. hardware vendors like Cisco, who routinely enjoy playing up the threat simply because they don’t want to compete with Chinese hardware vendors. You know, the very same thing we routinely (often quite accurately) complain about China doing.

    • Privacy expectations and the connected home

      Traditionally, devices that were tied to logins tended to indicate that in some way – turn on someone’s xbox and it’ll show you their account name, run Netflix and it’ll ask which profile you want to use. The increasing prevalence of smart devices in the home changes that, in ways that may not be immediately obvious to the majority of people. You can configure a Philips Hue with wall-mounted dimmers, meaning that someone unfamiliar with the system may not recognise that it’s a smart lighting system at all. Without any actively malicious intent, you end up with a situation where the account holder is able to infer whether someone is home without that person necessarily having any idea that that’s possible. A visitor who uses an Amazon Echo is not necessarily going to know that it’s tied to somebody’s Amazon account, and even if they do they may not know that the log (and recorded audio!) of all interactions is available to the account holder. And someone grabbing an egg out of your fridge is almost certainly not going to think that your smart egg tray will trigger an immediate notification on the account owner’s phone that they need to buy new eggs.

      Things get even more complicated when there’s multiple account support. Google Home supports multiple users on a single device, using voice recognition to determine which queries should be associated with which account. But the account that was used to initially configure the device remains as the fallback, with unrecognised voices ended up being logged to it. If a voice is misidentified, the query may end up being logged to an unexpected account.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • DHS’ Threat to Prosecute Officials of Sanctuary Cities Is Unconstitutional

      In testimony before Congress yesterday, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen confirmed that her agency is seeking the prosecution of state and local officials in jurisdictions that limit their entanglement with federal immigration enforcement.

      Even in the context of the Trump administration’s frequent disregard for the Constitution, Nielsen’s threat to prosecute mayors, legislators, and police chiefs over policy disagreements is shocking. There is no basis in federal law to prosecute government officials who decide, with and on behalf of their constituents, that their communities are better served by opting out of participation in the federal deportation system. And that kind of prosecution would be an assault on the principles at the core of our constitutional system.

    • Judging WaPo’s MLK Quotes by the Content of Their 280 Characters

      It’s a predictable approach—removing MLK’s critiques of capitalism and US imperialism—from a reliable protector of capitalism (1/30/16, 11/1/16, 10/3/17) and US imperial aggression (2/6/03, 5/25/17, 6/26/17, 12/4/17), but rarely is sanitizing MLK done in such a haphazard and patronizing fashion. Not only is all blood taken from his words, but the quotes highlighted seem handpicked precisely to ameliorate the guilt of the Post’s more conservative white readers in the hackiest manner possible; a shoddy whitewash by a paper supposedly representing a majority African-American city.

    • Innocent But Still Guilty

      After Fred Steese spent two decades in a Nevada prison for murder, evidence indicating that he was innocent was found buried in the prosecution’s files. It was proof that Steese, as he’d always claimed, had been hundreds of miles away on the likely day of the murder and couldn’t have been the killer.

      In Maryland two years earlier, the conviction of James Thompson, who had also served 20 years for murder and rape and whose case involved police and prosecutorial misconduct, was thrown into overwhelming doubt when his DNA didn’t match the semen found in the victim.

    • Sheriff’s Officers Working Black Section of Jacksonville to Get Bias Training

      The training will be conducted by Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black university in Daytona Beach. It will be concentrated on officers and residents of the Sheriff Office’s Zone 5, which makes up Northwest Jacksonville. That patrol zone has among the highest concentrations of black residents in the city. Research released by the University of North Florida last year showed that the patrol zone has the lowest level of trust in law enforcement.

      Trainings for officers will focus on improving negative perceptions and attitudes that exist between the community and police. The university’s work with local residents will center on the community’s role in neighborhood safety and how citizens can improve relationships with police. The training will involve 135 Sheriff’s Office personnel and 120 community members and 52 total hours of training. It will cost about $23,500.

    • China: Democracy Activist Sentenced to Prison for 2014 Hong Kong Protests

      In more news on China, pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong has been sentenced to three months in prison for his role in organizing the 2014 “Umbrella Movement” protests in Hong Kong. This is Joshua Wong, speaking before his sentencing Wednesday.

    • Mechanical Turkers may have out-predicted the most popular crime-predicting algorithm

      The most surprising results came when researchers compared COMPAS to other kinds of prediction. Farid and Dressel recruited 462 random workers through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform, and asked the Turkers to “read a few sentences about an actual person and predict if they will commit a crime in the future.” They were paid one dollar for completing the task, with a five dollar bonus if their accuracy was over 65 percent. Surprisingly, the median Turker ended up two points better than COMPAS, clocking in at 67 percent accuracy.

    • Study shows software used to predict repeat offenders is no better at it than untrained humans

      “Claims that secretive and seemingly sophisticated data tools are more accurate and fair than humans are simply not supported by our research findings,” said Dressel. “The use of such software may be doing nothing to help people who could be denied a second chance by black-box algorithms.”

    • Crime-Predicting Algorithms May Not Fare Much Better Than Untrained Humans

      “There was essentially no difference between people responding to an online survey for a buck and this commercial software being used in the courts,” says Farid, who teaches computer science at Dartmouth. “If this software is only as accurate as untrained people responding to an online survey, I think the courts should consider that when trying to decide how much weight to put on them in making decisions.”

    • Algorithms that change lives should be trialled like new drugs

      Who should we listen to when deciding whether a criminal will reoffend: a sophisticated algorithm, or random people on the internet? Trick question – it turns out they both produce the same results, according to a new analysis that demonstrates the danger of handing over control of our lives to the machines.

    • Court Software No Better Than Mechanical Turks at Predicting Repeat Crime

      Software now widely used by courts to predict which criminals are likely to commit future crimes might be no more accurate than regular people with presumably little to no criminal justice expertise, a new study finds.

      Predictive algorithms now regularly make recommendations regarding music, ads, health care, stock trades, auto insurance, and bank loans, among other things. In the criminal justice system, such algorithms have been used to predict where crimes will likely occur, who is likely to commit violent crimes, who is likely to fail to appear at their court hearings, and who is likely to repeat criminal behavior in the future.

    • Trump’s Roundup of Immigrant Leaders Has Begun

      On Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, President Donald J. Trump visited his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, reportedly his 91st trip to a golf club since taking office. Meanwhile, in New York City, hundreds rallied in Judson Memorial Church, demanding freedom for Jean Montrevil and Ravi Ragbir, two men who had just been detained by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Both men have been in the U.S. for almost 60 years between them, and both are prominent immigrant-rights organizers. They aren’t the only ones who’ve been targeted by ICE lately, either, suggesting a concerted effort by the Trump administration to round up leaders in the immigrant community.

      Jean Montrevil, originally from Haiti, has been in the U.S. for over 30 years. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and is still recovering from the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people. It also is one of those countries that Trump reportedly singled out in a racist screed last Thursday, calling Haiti, El Salvador and countries in Africa “shitholes.” The comment was made at the White House, where Trump and senators were discussing a possible legislative deal on immigration. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here,” Trump reportedly asked, adding, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” He went on to say that we need more immigrants from places like Norway, one of the whitest countries on the planet.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • 22 US states are suing the FCC over net neutrality

      The suit has been filed in the US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia. Joining them, are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

    • 22 State Attorneys General File Suit Against The FCC For Its Net Neutrality Repeal

      The legal fight over the FCC’s historically unpopular decision to kill net neutrality has begun. An announcement by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office indicates that 22 State Attorneys General have filed suit against the FCC. The AGs says the multi-state coalition has filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the first of what’s expected to be numerous lawsuits in the weeks and months to come.

      The announcement makes it clear the suit intends to focus on the FCC’s potential violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. Under the Act the FCC will need to prove that the broadband market changed so substantially since the passage of the original rules in 2015 to warrant such a stark reversal (tip: it didn’t). Under the Act, a decision can be declared “arbitrary and capricious” (Ajit Pai’s agenda is undeniably both) if the regulator in question can’t prove such a dramatic change, which is why you’ve watched industry lobbyists and their BFF Pai routinely and falsely claim that the modest rules somehow devastated sector investment.

    • Senate Democrats Push for a Net Neutrality Vote. Do They Have a Chance?

      Senate Democrats announced on Tuesday that they were one supporter away from winning a vote to restore the so-called net neutrality rules that the Federal Communications Commission rolled back in December.

      But even if Democrats win that vote, Democrats have a long ways to go before they are able to reinstate rules that prevent internet service providers from creating fast and slow lanes for online users. Here is a look at their difficult road ahead, and some of the motivations:

    • Apple Is Blocking an App That Detects Net Neutrality Violations From the App Store

      The most pervasive feeling about the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality repeal is one of hopelessness. If we all need to use the internet, big telecom companies control our access to the internet, and there’s no choice about what company to use, how are we supposed to stop these companies from messing with our connections?

      The FCC has suggested that consumer outrage will prevent companies from violating net neutrality, but it if you’re not a network engineer, it can be hard to know if net neutrality is being violated at all. David Coffnes, a researcher at Northeastern University, set out to change that. He created an app to detect net neutrality violations, but Apple has banned it from the App Store, preventing consumers from accessing the information they need to at least know when they’re getting screwed over.

  • DRM
    • Open-Source HDCP Support Gets Extended To More Platforms

      With the Linux 4.17 kernel (not the upcoming 4.16 cycle) there is likely to be added initial HDCP support to Intel’s Direct Rendering Manager driver. Ahead of that this High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection support continues getting improved upon.

      While Google developers working on Chrome/Chromium OS were the ones originally working on the patches and proposing this HDCP functionality be upstreamed into the mainline i915 DRM Linux driver, coming out today are patches from an Intel developer for extending the HDCP content protection coverage.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • The Commodores Trademark Fight Decided in Florida Court

        The exclusive right to use The Commodores’ name and trademarks belongs to a company run by founding members William King and Walter Orange, a Florida appellate court has ruled.

        Commodores Entertainment Corporation, a company run by King and Orange, in 2014 sued ex-bandmate Thomas McClary for trademark infringement after discovering that he had been performing using variations of the famous funk group’s name. (McClary left the band in 1984.)

      • A Trademark War Almost Tore Apart The Adult Baby Community

        A company that makes diapers for the adult baby/diaper lover fetish community (known as ABDL) gave up on its attempt to trademark the term “ABDL” on Thursday after message boards for the community exploded in anger last week.

        Rearz, a Canadian-based supplier of adult diapers with cutesy patterns and other adult baby accessories, like pacifiers, told BuzzFeed News, “we had no malicious or strange intentions in trying to register it, but obviously it struck a nerve with people. This is a community we love and serve, and we don’t want to make people feel less valuable.”

      • Community Backlash Leads Adult Diaper Company To Drop Its Trademark Application for ‘ABDL’

        When a company goes down a wrong or abusive road regarding trademark rights, the public has a lot of tools for remedy. Legal disputes between interested parties can often times correct a company attempting to secure trademark rights it ought not have. Invalidating a trademark that never should have been granted is another tool. But often times, the best and quickest remedies can come from the public itself in the form of a good old fashioned backlash.

        The likelihood of such a backlash is necessarily a function of the devotion of a particular fanbase. The craft beer industry has had to learn this lesson several times, with a portion of the public devoted to seeing the industry thrive also being unwilling to let stand aggressive trademark bullying that threatens that same industry. We saw another of these backlash instances cause a company to reverse course recently and I struggle to think of a more potentially devoted fanbase to an industry than those among us whose fetish is role-playing as adult babies.

    • Copyrights
      • Pirate IPTV Mastermind Owns Raided Bulgarian ISP, Sources Say

        Last week police forces across Europe raided and shut down one of the largest ‘pirate’ IPTV operations in the world. With information continuing to drip out, the true scale is now becoming clear. In Bulgaria alone, where the illicit service had its alleged base,140 servers were seized. Only adding to the intrigue are fresh claims that the owner of a local ISP was the brains behind the entire operation.

      • How Closed Trade Deals Ratchet Up the Copyright Term Worldwide

        Although copyright is a subject of international law—principally the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)’s Berne Convention from 1886 and its Internet Treaties from 1996—it is still implemented and enforced primarily through national laws. Those laws differ from one country to another in significant ways. One of the most significant differences is the length of the term of copyright protection, which varies from the life of the author plus 50 years (the Berne Convention’s minimum requirement), up to life plus 100 years (in Mexico).

        Differences in the law aren’t a bug; they’re a feature. Just as a country has the right to craft specific exceptions to copyright law based on its own national circumstances (for example in India, where many foreign books are not available for sale, copyright law allows public libraries to make up to three copies of such books), so too it should be able to adopt the copyright term that makes the most sense for its citizens—which in most if not all cases will be the shortest term allowed.

        But because differences in copyright term make things more complicated for copyright holders, there are constant efforts by some copyright holders to try to homogenize the duration of copyright so that they can more easily enforce their copyrights worldwide—and of course, they would like them to be harmonized at the life-plus-70 year term, so that they can extract another 20 years of monopoly rents, over and above the Berne Convention’s standard life-plus-50 year term. Trade agreements are one way that they are trying to achieve this. Here’s how.

      • Kim Dotcom Loses Megaupload Domain Names, Gets “Destroyed” Gaming Chair Back

        The U.S. Government has won another civil forfeiture case against Megaupload and Kim Dotcom. As a result, the U.S. now owns several online bank accounts, cars, servers, as well as Megaupload’s domain names. Around the same time, the US returned two containers of seized property, as previously ordered by a Hong Kong court. These goods were not treated properly, according to an outraged Dotcom.

Microsoft, Masking/Hiding Itself Behind Patent Trolls, is Still Engaging in Patent Extortion

Thursday 18th of January 2018 12:34:24 PM

Sleight of hand, but extortion is still extortion

Summary: A review of Microsoft’s ugly tactics, which involve coercion and extortion (for businesses to move to Azure and/or for OEMs to preload Microsoft software) while Microsoft-connected patent trolls help hide the “enforcement” element in this whole racket

THE ‘new’ Microsoft is no different from the company we wrote about back in the “Boycott Novell” days; only the marketing/PR has improved. The patent strategy is still similar; we just don’t see Ballmer’s face anymore. He was at least honest about Microsoft’s views about GNU/Linux. Nadella just shamelessly lies about those things.

“The patent strategy is still similar; we just don’t see Ballmer’s face anymore. He was at least honest about Microsoft’s views about GNU/Linux. Nadella just shamelessly lies about it.”Extortion using patents doesn’t work as most people assume; people tend to believe that patents are being used only when there’s a lawsuit. But no… that’s not how it usually works. As United for Patent Reform has just put it: “A report by @marklemley @kentrichardson @elosf found a silent tax on #innovation: 70% of #patent-related threats didn’t result in litigation, meaning the costs of over-broad litigation never go to court.”

For those who have patience and time (the Internet discourages reading of long articles), here is the paper from Professor Lemley, who is renowned for his strong views about patent aggression.

Abstract says:

How often do companies and individuals assert patents outside of litigation? No one knows for sure. The problem is that licensing negotiations and license deals that don’t result in litigation are almost invariably kept secret. The result is that patent litigation is like the proverbial tip of the iceberg – the observable piece sticking out of the water, but probably not all or even most of what there is. Various people have speculated that unlitigated (and therefore unobserved) assertions are a majority and probably as much as 90% of all patent enforcement.

We wanted to know how often companies were approached to take patent licenses without a lawsuit being filed. So we asked them. Using a simple survey, we got data from dozens of companies about how often they were sued, how often they were approached to take a license without being sued, and the characteristics of those licensing proposals. The result is the first real look at what goes on beneath the surface of patent enforcement.

We found that while patent litigation does not reflect everything that is going on, there was less unlitigated – and therefore unseen – patent enforcement than some of us had thought. Roughly one-third of all patent licensing efforts among our survey respondents end in litigation, significantly less than the 10% some had predicted. And, for the majority of respondents, about one half of the demands end in litigation. Our results allow us to get a handle on the actual size of the patent enforcement business and to try to estimate the total cost of responding to enforcement efforts. We offer some ballpark estimates of the cost of responding to patent assertions in Part III.

Our survey respondents are a significant segment of the economy, but they are far from all of it. And they differ in certain ways from companies as a whole. We hope to be able to expand the universe of respondents in a later round of surveys. In Part I we explain what we did. In Part II we explain what we found. And in Part III we consider some implications for business and public policy if we extrapolate our limited results to the broader economy. Under plausible assumptions, responding to patent assertions costs defendants between $80 and $100 billion per year.

This brings us to Microsoft; Microsoft not only pressures companies to pay money by threatening to sue them using patents; Microsoft is often siccing patent trolls (which it arms) on companies that refuse to play along. That’s racketeering; it’s like the Mafia burning down houses and businesses of those who refuse to pay ‘protection’ money. That’s just how extortion works, but Microsoft burns the victims’ money (legal fees) rather than the actual businesses (although they too will go up in flames if legal fees result in bankruptcy).

“Microsoft not only pressures companies to pay money by threatening to sue them using patents; Microsoft is often siccing patent trolls (which it arms) on companies that refuse to play along.”In the “Boycott Novell” days Microsoft was threatening companies that did not buy (i.e. pay Microsoft for) SUSE. SLES was the only ‘Microsoft-authorised’ distribution of GNU/Linux at one point. And now, instead of SLES/SLED what we have is Azure. Microsoft threatens those who do not pay Azure 'rents' that patent trolls (which Microsoft passes patents to) might come along and destroy their business. It’s the “cloud” equivalent of the Novell plot. IAM has just published this self-promotional ‘report’ that says “litigation involving cloud technologies has increased by 700%” (well, they just made up the term “cloud” and now everything that already existed is called “cloud”). Here is what they said, linking to an older ‘article’ (promotion) of theirs:

A recent study revealed that US patent litigation involving cloud technologies has increased by 700% over the past four years (for further information please see “Cloud computing patent litigation on the rise”)

Microsoft relies on such ‘articles’ to sell fear and to attract businesses to Azure (out of sheer fear). At the same time, Microsoft is lobbying for software patents. Less than a day ago, for example, the BSA (using “Enterprise Innovation” as a platform) wrote in its capacity as a Microsoft front group: “Patent protections: Governments should have non-discriminatory protection for software patents.”

“In the “Boycott Novell” days Microsoft was threatening companies that did not buy (i.e. pay Microsoft for) SUSE.”Well, actually it seems like only China offers that now. But Microsoft would like to change that. The extortion heavily relies on it.

Lost in the midst of Microsoft puff pieces about patents (see one of the latest examples) is this original announcement from Microsoft about extending the reach of the ‘protection’ racket.

“Microsoft relies on such ‘articles’ to sell fear and to attract businesses to Azure (out of sheer fear).”“Excited to announce that we are extending the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage #patent protection program to our Azure Stack customers,” wrote the person in charge of it. Yes, Microsoft is very “excited” about patent extortion against GNU/Linux. They just say it with a smile and euphemistically call it “Azure IP Advantage”. This is already being covered by longtime Microsoft boosters. Kurt Mackie, for instance, said that the “”springing license” reference means that the patents that Microsoft may transfer to other companies under this program can’t be used to make IP claims against other Azure customers.”

As Microsoft also controls some of the trolls, it can help determine who gets sued. The potential for abuse is vast.

“Microsoft paid a lot of money for the Linux Foundation to not intervene and simply pretend that “Microsoft loves Linux” (while it’s taxing it and attacking it using patents).”Don’t expect Red Hat or Canonical or even the Linux Foundation to say anything about it. The Linux Foundation is far too busy sucking up to Microsoft this week, having received Microsoft cash for silence and complicity. Even when Microsoft attacks Linux with patents the Linux Foundation will say nothing at all because these attacks often come from proxies, just as the OIN’s CEO warned us a long time ago. One such proxy is Finjan. Microsoft patent trolls like Finjan are held up as good examples at Watchtroll this week not because they create anything but because they’re targeting Microsoft’s rivals (every company except Microsoft, which supported Finjan since its early days).

The latest case, Finjan v Blue Coat Systems, is a case that we wrote about on Monday. Banner & Witcoff’s Aseet Patel and Peter Nigrelli have just said the following about the case, citing a Microsoft case in favour of software patents (Enfish):

There are several takeaways from Finjan. xi Notably, building on its precedent in Enfish, the Federal Circuit has reaffirmed that purely software-based inventions that do no interact with the tangible world remain patent-eligible subject matter. Moreover, the Finjan court’s reasoning reiterates the importance of drafting a patent specification that showcases and contrasts inadequacies of prior art solutions. Finally, Finjan underscores the continuing importance of claim construction in obtaining a favorable patent-eligibility holding—even more so when the claimed method only recites three steps.

Finjan’s trolling being used to support and promote the software patents agenda? Surely convenient for Microsoft. We expect to hear a lot more about this troll’s lawsuits and hear nothing at all from the Linux Foundation. Microsoft paid a lot of money for the Linux Foundation to not intervene and simply pretend that “Microsoft loves Linux” (while it’s taxing it and attacking it using patents).

Patent Prosecution Highway: Low-Quality Patents for High-Frequency Patent Aggressors

Thursday 18th of January 2018 11:34:31 AM


Reference: Patent Prosecution Highway

Summary: The EPO’s race to the bottom of patent quality, combined with a “need for speed”, is a recipe for disaster (except for litigation firms, patent bullies, and patent trolls)

Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is not an EPO thing but an international thing (WIPO et al). The USPTO, for example, has that too. Nevertheless, the EPO’s blind embrace of PPH — more so in the midst of rushed patent examination — gives room for concern, especially with UPC being on the agenda. It’s like litigation, not justice, is on the priority list. Patent trolls must absolutely love that.

“…the EPO’s blind embrace of PPH — more so in the midst of rushed patent examination — gives room for concern, especially with UPC being on the agenda.”IAM has just published a sponsored piece* for the patent microcosm in Brazil (Battistelli has some cooperative deals with Brazil, e.g. PPH/validation). What good are patents from Brazil? This has become a subject of great concern because Brazil is possibly copying INPI (France/Battistelli but also the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office) and may soon grant a patent for every single application. Quality control? Naaaaa… who needs that? Just call an “emergency” and grant everything.

Battistelli’s EPO is becoming more like INPI (France) over time. Yesterday we saw a whole class of patents getting invalidated (again, just like last year) and lack of proper examination will certainly destroy the value of Brazilian patents/European Patents. A few days ago IAM published this so-called ‘report’ titled “Pulling the plug on INPI’s patent backlog” and to quote:

The government is expected to launch an emergency measure to eliminate the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office’s (INPI’s) patent backlog by automatically granting 231,000 pending non-pharmaceutical applications. The proposed rules for implementing the new measure were made available for public comment in early 2017 – the deadline to provide comments was August 31 2017.

INPI officials recently held that certain proposals made by local associations could complicate the process.

While it is difficult to know the precise details and timing for this measure, companies may soon need to deploy a short-term strategy – as short as 90 days – to mitigate potential risks and take full advantage of the new system (eg, using the proposed opt-out system for selected applications and filing pre-grant oppositions against competitors). Companies should also consider entering the national phase of Patent Cooperation Treaty applications before the 30-month deadline; likewise, Paris Convention filings should be made whenever possible.

The INPI implied that no other viable option could solve the backlog in the short term. All pending non-pharmaceutical applications filed before the emergency measure is published and becomes effective should be covered.

Too great an abundance of patents would defeat the whole purpose of a patent system, which is merit-based. It would also help frivolous litigation skyrocket. And speaking of litigation, look who gets priority; it’s those who litigate. That’s what PPH is all about.

A few days ago Lexology carried this article which acted as a sort of EPO puff piece. To quote:

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (“CIPO”) recently announced a three-year extension to its pilot Patent Prosecution Highway (“PPH”) agreement with the European Patent Office (“EPO”). Notably, the previous requirement for an application to have entered the Canadian national phase on or after January 5, 2015 has been lifted. Applicants with applications that were previously considered ineligible for CIPO-EPO PPH due to this date restriction may wish to consider if their applications could now qualify for expedited treatment, bearing in mind that examination must not yet have commenced for an application to be PPH-eligible.

A CIPO-EPO PPH agreement that would speed up examination is not necessarily a good thing or a selling point. It overburdens examiners, potentially making examination a lot more error-prone. Who wants a bogus patent that would never survive in court? Instead of focusing on patent quality, accelerated examination is intended to facilitate patent aggressors (let’s face it, SMEs are more likely to settle outside the courts, so they would suffer the most). Combine PPH with already-declining patent quality at the EPO and what we have is a surge in oppositions (i.e. more burden for EPO staff) and a decision like yesterday's (which devastated Broad).
____
* IAM appears to have just renamed “international reports”; now it’s called “industry reports” (paid, self-promotional placements) and in addition IAM’s placements get reposted elsewhere. Here’s a new example. “This article first appeared in IAM” it says at the very bottom.

Press Coverage About the EPO Board Revoking Broad’s CRISPR Patent

Thursday 18th of January 2018 10:36:09 AM

Summary: Even though there’s some decent coverage about yesterday’s decision (e.g. from The Scientist), the patent microcosm googlebombs the news with stuff that serves to distract from or distort the outcome

YESTERDAY was an important day for the EPO… for reasons other than EPO scandals. It was all about a case which we covered in the morning and right after the decision (we had complained about that a long while back).

“IAM has apparently not found that worth covering. Says a lot about IAM…”We always argued that patent offices should reserve patents to things that are actually inventions, not computer code or genetics (code of life). Pretty much every programmer agrees about the former. A lot of civil rights groups agree with us on the latter. These views are not unusual or outlandish. Nor should they be…

“The EPO has denied the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard’s reliance on its US priority provisional application in revoking a CRISPR patent. The institute has already said it will appeal,” Michael Loney wrote some hours ago. It’s about the EPO saying goodbye to (probably) all CRISPR patents, for the decision can extend to others.

IAM, which blatantly fronts for patent maximalists, ended up posting — for a fee — CRISPR propaganda on the very same day EPO buried patents on it. IAM has apparently not found that decision worth covering. Says a lot about IAM…

Expect some IAM spin shortly, complete with some highly misleading headline (i.e. the usual).

“The EPO has denied the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard’s reliance on its US priority provisional application in revoking a CRISPR patent.”
      –Michael LoneyAlexander Esslinger, writing about the demise of CRISPR patents in Europe having watched this closely for a long time, wrote this and “EPO Revokes Broad’s CRISPR Patent” was the headline from The Scientist.

A Web site dedicated to patent propaganda about life science did not actually cover the news; its headline focused on the future appeal rather than the actual outcome (just like Board wanted); “Broad Institute to appeal CRISPR patent revocation,” the article says. Missing the real story much?! That’s a really bad summary and many people read just headlines. To quote the body:

The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT has said it will appeal against a decision by the European Patent Office (EPO) to revoke one of its patents covering CRISPR/Cas9 technology.

In an oral hearing today, January 17, the EPO’s Opposition Division revoked European patent 2,771,468 in its entirety after finding that Broad could not claim two key priority dates.

Broad released a statement saying the decision was a “technicality” and that it will appeal to the EPO’s Technical Board of Appeal.

Team UPC, which has already attacked me for my coverage about this decision, apparently did this paid-for placement about the decision.

In a decision delivered today the European Patent Office revoked a patent relating to CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology which had been granted to the Broad Institute, MIT and Harvard University.

There is probably more coverage on the way, but it’s worth noting how patent maximalists attempt to distract from the news (or did not cover the news at all).

Links 17/1/2018: HHVM 3.24, WordPress 4.9.2

Wednesday 17th of January 2018 05:21:18 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • The best open source video editors 2018: free to download, edit, use and share

    There are lots of superb free video editors around, but many are cut-back versions of commercial software. If you’re looking for something truly free that you can use for personal or commercial projects, open source software is the way to go. All of these video editors are developed by communities dedicated to making top quality software available to everyone.

    One of the advantages of open source software is that users are free to develop versions for different platforms. All of the open source video editors in this roundup are available for Windows, macOS and Linux.

    VLMC (VideoLAN Movie Creator) is another open source video editor to keep an eye on. It’s still under development and not yet available to download, but it’s being developed by the same team as the superb VLC Media Player, so we have high hopes.

  • How to get all the benefits of open source software

    Open source software continues its meteoric rise, as more and more large enterprises weave open source code into various areas of their operations, increasingly shunning the big-name, proprietary software vendors.

    In fact, according to open source software development company, Sonatype, represented locally by 9TH BIT Consulting, 7,000 new open source software projects kick-off around the world every week, while 70,000 new open source components are released. Accessing this massive ‘hivemind’ of software development expertise is a highly attractive prospect for CIOs and business managers in all industries.

  • What is open source?

    What is open source software and how do vendors make their money? We answer your questions

    Open source is the foundation of modern technology. Even if you don’t know what it is, chances are you’ve already used it at least once today. Open source technology helped build Android, Firefox, and even the Apache HTTP server, and without it, the internet as we know it would simply not exist.

    The central idea behind open source is a simple one: many hands make light work. In short, the more people you have working on something, the quicker and easier it is to do. As it applies to software development, this means opening projects up to the public to let people freely access, read and modify the source code.

  • Open Source Initiative Announces New Partnership With Adblock Plus

    Adblock Plus, the most popular Internet ad blocker today, joins The Open Source Initiative® (OSI) as corporate sponsors. Since its very first version, Adblock Plus has been an open source project that has developed into a successful business with over 100 million users worldwide. As such, the German company behind it, eyeo GmbH, has decided it is time to give back to the open source community.

    Founded in 1998, the OSI protects and promotes open source software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure. Adblock Plus is an open source project that aims to rid the Internet of annoying and intrusive online advertising. Its free web browser extensions (add-ons) put users in control by letting them block or filter which ads they want to see.

  • What if Open-Source Software Can Replace Dozens of Multi-Billion Dollar Companies? That is Exactly What Origin Protocol Wants to do Using Blockchain
  • Events
    • My trip in Cuba

      Olemis Lang is one of the founders and very active in promoting open source in Cuba. We’ve had some similar experiences in running user groups (I founded the Python french one a decade ago), and were excited about sharing our experience.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla and Sundance Film Festival Present: VR the People

        On Monday January 22, Mozilla is bringing together a panel of the top VR industry insiders in the world to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, to explain how VR storytelling is revolutionizing the film and entertainment industry.

        “We want the storyteller’s vision to exceed the capacity of existing technology, to push boundaries, because then the technologist is inspired to engineer new mechanisms that enable things initially thought impossible” says Kamal Sinclair, Director of New Frontier Lab Programs at Sundance Institute. “However, this is not about creating something that appeals to people simply because of its novel technical achievements; rather it is something that has real meaning, and where that meaning can be realized by engineering the technologies to deliver the best experience possible.”

      • Host an Open Internet Activist [Ed: Mozilla now in the pockets of the Ford Foundation, just like the ‘Guardian’]

        Today, we’re launching the Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellowship call for host organizations. If your organization is devoted to a healthy internet for all users, we encourage you to apply.

      • WebRender newsletter #12
      • The User Journey for Firefox Extensions Discovery

        The ability to customize and extend Firefox are an essential part of Firefox’s value to users. Extensions are small tools that allow developers and users who install the extensions to modify, customize, and extend the functionality of Firefox. For example, during our workflows research in 2016, we interviewed a participant who was a graduate student in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While she used Safari as her primary browser for common browsing, she used Firefox specifically for her academic work because of the extension Zotero was the best choice for keeping track of her academic work and citations.

        Popular categories of extensions include ad blockers, password managers, and video downloaders. Given the variety of extensions and the benefits to customization they offer, why is it that only 40% of Firefox users have installed at least one extension? Certainly, some portion of Firefox users may be aware of extensions but have no need or desire to install one. However, some users could find value in some extensions but simply may not be aware of the existence of extensions in the first place.

        Why not? How can Mozilla facilitate the extension discovery process?

        A fundamental assumption about the extension discovery process is that users will learn about extensions through the browser, through word of mouth, or through searching to solve a specific problem. We were interested in setting aside this assumption and to observe the steps participants take and the decisions they make in their journey toward possibly discovering extensions. To this end, the Firefox user research team ran two small qualitative studies to understand better how participants solved a particular problem in the browser that could be solved by installing an extension. Our study helped us understand how participants do — or do not — discover a specific category of extension.

      • Firefox Release, Xen, KDE’s Plasma and More

        Set your calendars for January 23, 2018, to download the latest Firefox 58 release packed with performance/bottleneck and bug fixes, an even better site source code debugger and more.

      • Have You Taken the Thunderbird Redesign Survey?

        Monterail and Thunderbird are now working on the same team.

        Yes, that Monterail, the Poland-based development company whose stunning Thunderbird mock-up went viral last year, before becoming a real, working Thunderbird theme.

        “We got in touch with […] the Thunderbird core team to discuss possibilities. We wanted to establish how to enhance user retention and make Thunderbird more user-friendly for potential and current users. We also learned how Thunderbird is built which helped with planning iterations,” Monterail’s Krystian Polański explains in a new blog post on the company’s website.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • MapR: How Next-Gen Applications Will Change the Way We Look at Data

      MapR is a Silicon Valley-based big data company. Its founders realized that data was going to become ever increasingly important, and existing technologies, including open source Apache Hadoop, fell short of being able to support things like real-time transactional operational applications. So they spent years building out core technologies that resulted in the MapR products, including the flagship Converged Data Platform, platform-agnostic software that’s designed for the multicloud environment. It can even run on embedded Edge devices.

    • 7 Open-Source Serverless Frameworks Providing Functions as a Service

      With virtualization, organizations began to realize greater utilization of physical hardware. That trend continued with the cloud, as organizations began to get their machines into a pay-as-you-go service. Cloud computing further evolved when Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched its Lambda service in 2014, introducing a new paradigm in cloud computing that has become commonly referred to as serverless computing. In the serverless model, organizations pay for functions as a service without the need to pay for an always-on stateful, virtual machine.

    • Bonitasoft Offers Open Source, Low-Code Platform on AWS Cloud

      Bonitasoft, a specialist in open source business process management and digital transformation software, is partnering with the Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) cloud to broaden the reach of its low-code development platform.

      That platform, just released in a new version called Bonita 7.6, comes in an open source version and a subscription version with professional support and advanced features.

    • Bonitasoft gets cute on AWS for low-code BPM

      There has been an undeniable popularisation of so-called ‘low-code’ programming platforms.

      This is a strain of technology designed to provide automated blocks of functionality that can be brought together by non-technical staff to perform specific compute and analysis tasks to serve their own business objectives.

  • CMS
    • New York magazine is making its CMS available open-source

      There’s a short history of publishers fancying themselves as technology companies and building a business selling their tech to other publishers. Publishers realized that building a whole new side business around licensing their tech is a headache and that they needed to focus on what they’re good at, and leave the tech to others.

      New York magazine is trying out a different approach. It built its own content management system (publishers like to give their homegrown CMSes cute names; this one is called Clay, for the magazine’s founder Clay Felker) in 2015 and then licensed the software to the online magazine Slate. Slate started using Clay a year ago and was set to fully migrate its site to Clay this week. But instead of New York charging Slate a licensing fee, Slate is paying New York in the form of code. The CMS is open-source, and developers from both titles contribute to it.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GCC 7.3 Preparing For Release To Ship Spectre Patches

      GNU developers are preparing to quickly ship GCC 7.3 now in order to get out the Spectre patches, a.k.a. the compiler side bits for Retpoline with -mindirect-branch=thunk and friends.

      It was just this past weekend that the back-ported patches landed in GCC 7 while now GCC 7.3 is being prepared as the branch’s next bug-fix point release.

    • Announcing LibrePlanet 2018 keynote speakers

      The keynote speakers for the tenth annual LibrePlanet conference will be anthropologist and author Gabriella Coleman, free software policy expert and community advocate Deb Nicholson, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) senior staff technologist Seth Schoen, and FSF founder and president Richard Stallman.

      LibrePlanet is an annual conference for people who care about their digital freedoms, bringing together software developers, policy experts, activists, and computer users to learn skills, share accomplishments, and tackle challenges facing the free software movement. The theme of this year’s conference is Freedom. Embedded. In a society reliant on embedded systems — in cars, digital watches, traffic lights, and even within our bodies — how do we defend computer user freedom, protect ourselves against corporate and government surveillance, and move toward a freer world? LibrePlanet 2018 will explore these topics in sessions for all ages and experience levels.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • 17,000% Cost Reduction with Open Source 3D Printing: Michigan Tech Study Showcases Parametric 3D Printed Slot Die System

        We often cover the work of prolific Dr. Joshua Pearce, an Associate Professor of Materials Science & Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering at Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech); he also runs the university’s Open Sustainability Technology (MOST) Research Group.

        Dr. Pearce, a major proponent for sustainability and open source technology, has previously taught an undergraduate engineering course on how to build open source 3D printers, and four of his former students, in an effort to promote environmental sustainability in 3D printing, launched a business to manufacture and sell recycled and biodegradable filaments.

      • Open Source 3D printing cuts cost from $4,000 to only $0.25 says new study

        Slot die coating is a means of adding a thin, uniform film of material to a substrate. It is a widely used method for the manufacturing of electronic devices – including flat screen televisions, printed electronics, lithium-ion batteries and sensors.

        Up until recently, slot die components were only machined from stainless steel, restricting development and making the process expensive. Now slot dies for in-lab experimental use can be made on a 3D printer at a fraction of the cost.

      • Dutch firm unveils world’s first 3-D-printed propeller

        Three-dimensional (3-D) printing technology has caught the logistics world’s attention for its potential to save on warehouse and shipping costs by producing items on demand at any location. In the past two years, for example, UPS Inc. announced plans to partner with software developer SAP SE to build a nationwide network of 3-D printers for use by its customers, and General Electric Co. spent nearly $600 million to buy a three-quarters stake in the German 3-D printing firm Concept Laser GmbH.

        Recently, transportation companies have begun turning to the same technology for another application, creating the actual hardware used in vehicles that move the freight. For instance, in late 2016, global aircraft maker Airbus S.A.S. contracted with manufacturing firm Arconic Inc. to supply 3-D printed metal parts for its commercial aircraft.

  • Programming/Development
    • HHVM 3.24

      HHVM 3.24 is released! This release contains new features, bug fixes, performance improvements, and supporting work for future improvements. Packages have been published in the usual places.

    • HHVM 3.24 Released, The Final Supporting PHP5

      The Facebook crew responsible for the HHVM project as a speedy Hack/PHP language implementation is out with its 3.24 release.

      HHVM 3.24 is important as it’s the project’s last release focusing on PHP5 compatibility. Moving forward, PHP5 compatibility will no longer be a focus and components of it will likely be dropped. As well, Facebook will be focusing on their Hack language rather than PHP7. Now that PHP7 is much faster than PHP5 and all around in a much better state, Facebook developers are focusing on their Hack language rather than just being an alternative PHP implementation.

    • How to get into DevOps

      I’ve observed a sharp uptick of developers and systems administrators interested in “getting into DevOps” within the past year or so. This pattern makes sense: In an age in which a single developer can spin up a globally distributed infrastructure for an application with a few dollars and a few API calls, the gap between development and systems administration is closer than ever. Although I’ve seen plenty of blog posts and articles about cool DevOps tools and thoughts to think about, I’ve seen fewer content on pointers and suggestions for people looking to get into this work.

    • RcppMsgPack 0.2.1

      Am update of RcppMsgPack got onto CRAN today. It contains a number of enhancements Travers had been working on, as well as one thing CRAN asked us to do in making a suggested package optional.

      MessagePack itself is an efficient binary serialization format. It lets you exchange data among multiple languages like JSON. But it is faster and smaller. Small integers are encoded into a single byte, and typical short strings require only one extra byte in addition to the strings themselves. RcppMsgPack brings both the C++ headers of MessagePack as well as clever code (in both R and C++) Travers wrote to access MsgPack-encoded objects directly from R.

    • GitHub Alternative SourceForge Vies for Comeback with Redesigned Site

      SourceForge wants to be more than just another GitHub alternative, but an additional repository for developers to utilize to help gain users.

    • This Week in Rust

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

Leftovers
  • YouTube shows smaller video artists the door

    YouTube will drastically cut down on the number of its partners who can make money from the platform, making it possible only for those who have 1000 subscribers and at least 4000 hours of viewing to earn anything from ads.

  • How to quit your tech: a beginner’s guide to divorcing your phone

    • Delete all social media apps from your phone; check these only from a desktop computer.

    • Turn all banner-style/pop-up/sound notifications off all other apps (keep the badge-type notifications where you have to visually check the app).

    • Leave your phone in your pocket or keep it out of sight for meetings/get-togethers/conversations/meals involving other people.

    • Keep your phone out of sight during your commute.

    • Don’t take your phone with you into the bathroom or toilet.

  • Google Memory Loss

    Why? · Ob­vi­ous­ly, in­dex­ing the whole Web is crush­ing­ly ex­pen­sive, and get­ting more so ev­ery day. Things like 10+-year-old mu­sic re­views that are nev­er up­dat­ed, no longer ac­cept com­ments, are light­ly if at all linked-to out­side their own site, and rarely if ev­er visited… well, let’s face it, Google’s not go­ing to be sell­ing many ads next to search re­sults that turn them up. So from a busi­ness point of view, it’s hard to make a case for Google in­dex­ing ev­ery­thing, no mat­ter how old and how ob­scure.

    My pain here is pure­ly per­son­al; I freely con­fess that I’d been us­ing Google’s glob­al in­fras­truc­ture as my own per­son­al search in­dex for my own per­son­al pub­li­ca­tion­s. But the pain is re­al; I fre­quent­ly mine my own his­to­ry to re-use, for ex­am­ple in con­struct­ing the cur­rent #SongOfTheDay se­ries.

  • Science
    • Science search engine links papers to grants and patents

      The marketplace for science search engines is competitive and crowded. But a database launched on 15 January aims to provide academics with new ways to analyse the scholarly literature — including the grant funding behind it.

      Dimensions not only indexes papers and their citations, but also — uniquely among scholarly databases — connects publications to their related grants, funding agencies, patents and clinical trials. The tool “should give researchers more power to look at their fields and follow the money”, says James Wilsdon, a research-policy specialist at the University of Sheffield, UK.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Domestic worker died because she was too frightened to access healthcare over immigration fears, MPs told

      Illegal immigrants are “too frightened” to access healthcare because of a data-sharing agreement between the NHS and the Home Office to track, MPs have heard.

      One domestic worker died because she was too afraid to see a doctor out of fear that her immigration status would be shared with the Home Office, evidence presented to the Health Committee stated.

      Immigrants are being “driven underground” by the legislation, MPs heard at a session which explored the impact of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) published last January, setting out how patient data may be provided to the Home Office by the NHS.

    • Apple Supplier Workers Describe Noxious Hazards at China Factory

      At a Catcher Technology Co. manufacturing complex in the Chinese industrial city of Suqian, about six hours’ drive from Shanghai, workers stand for up to 10 hours a day in hot workshops slicing and blasting iPhone casings for Apple Inc., handling noxious chemicals sometimes without proper gloves or masks.

      These conditions — some described in a report Tuesday by advocacy group China Labor Watch and others in Bloomberg News interviews with Catcher workers — show the downside of a high-tech boom buoying the world’s second-largest economy. Chinese recruiters play up the chance to build advanced consumer electronics to attract the millions of typically impoverished, uneducated laborers without whom the production of iPhones and other digital gadgets would be impossible.

    • Teens are daring each other to eat Tide pods. We don’t need to tell you that’s a bad idea.

      First, it was the “gallon challenge” and the “cinnamon challenge.”

      Then some teenagers started playing the “bath-salt challenge.”

      They have dared each other to pour salt in their hands and hold ice till it burns, douse themselves in rubbing alcohol and set themselves ablaze, and throw boiling water on unsuspecting peers.

      Now videos circulating on social media are showing kids biting into brightly colored liquid laundry detergent packets. Or cooking them in frying pans, then chewing them up before spewing the soap from their mouths.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • The Terror Attack Survivors Who Refuse To Be Silenced

      “The more of us speak out, defend our freedom and refuse to give up on our liberties, the less the danger will be … focused on certain people,” El Rhazoui told AFP on the sidelines of a conference hosted by the Danish parliament on Saturday.

  • Finance
    • BofA Tops IBM, Payments Firms With Most Blockchain Patents

      The Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender has applied for or received at least 43 patents for blockchain, the ledger technology used for verifying and recording transactions that’s at the heart of virtual currencies. It is the largest number among major banks and technology companies, according to a study by EnvisionIP, a New York-based law firm that specializes in analyses of intellectual property [sic].

    • IBM, Maersk Form New Blockchain Company for International Cargo

      Maersk, the Danish conglomerate that owns the world’s largest container shipping line, will be the first to use the new platform, while International Business Machines Corp. will provide the back end and support for the technology. The new company said it expects to sign up large shippers, ports and customs officials for the service, set to become available in the second half of 2018.

    • Heads Of State At Davos’ Door: Trump, Modi, Macron, May

      Davos will have a three-part feature, he said: a collaborative approach since nobody alone can solve the issues of the global agenda, an integrated approach, and a constructive approach. There are many opportunities and perils like never before, and faced with the danger of the collapse of the global system, “it is in our hands to improve the state of the world, that’s what the World Economic Forum stands for,” Schwab said.

    • Automation, robots and the ‘end of work’ myth

      Can you imagine travelling to work in a robotic “Jonnycab” like the one predicted in the cult Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Total Recall? The image from 1990 is based on science fiction, but Mercedes Benz does have a semi-autonomous Driver Pilot system that it aims to install in the next five years and Uber is also waging on a self-driving future. Its partnership with Volvo has been seen as a boost to its ambitions to replace a fleet of self-employed drivers with autonomous vehicles.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Why Senator Cardin Is a Fitting Opponent for Chelsea Manning

      The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ben Cardin [Md.], has become a big star in national media by routinely denouncing Russia as a dire threat to American democracy. The senior senator from Maryland personifies the highly dangerous opportunism that has set in among leading Democrats on the subject of Russia.

      Chelsea Manning confirmed on Sunday that she is challenging Senator Cardin’s re-election effort in the Democratic primary this June. Her campaign has real potential to raise key issues. One of them revolves around the kind of bellicose rhetoric that heightens the dangers of conflict between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.

    • The People v. Donald Trump

      In the first year of Trump’s presidency, the courts have acted exactly how the Founders intended them to.

      Legal scholars and progressives have long expressed doubt about the utility of courts in advancing social justice. They argue that courts are inherently conservative, that victories often prompt costly backlashes, and that focusing on courts diverts attention from the more important work that needs to be done in the political arena.

      The first year of the Trump administration suggests that this skepticism is overstated. Much to the president’s dismay, those he calls “so-called judges” have repeatedly ruled against the Trump administration. Judges appointed by Republicans and Democrats alike have enforced constitutional guarantees against a president who has shown little regard for the Constitution.

      In this respect, the courts have performed just as Alexander Hamilton hoped they would. In the Federalist Papers, Hamilton argued that a judiciary with life tenure and the power to declare the political branches’ actions unconstitutional was essential, so that judges could serve as “the bulwarks of a limited Constitution.” Rarely has that role been more essential.

    • Martin Luther King stood up for more than love

      Martin Luther King often spoke of the need for unconditional love. In 1955 he told Black America, “We want to love our enemies — be good to them. This is what we must live by; we must meet hate with love. We must love our white brothers no matter what they do to us.” In his remarks on the King holiday President Trump referred to love five times in three sentences.

      “[King] would later write, ‘It was quite easy for me to think of a god of love mainly because I grew up in a family where love was central.’ That is what Reverend King preached all his life. Love. Love for each other, for neighbors, and for our fellow Americans. Dr. King’s faith in his love for humanity led him and so many heroes to courageously stand up for civil rights of African-Americans,” Trump said.

      [...]

      King stood up for much more than love. And the kind of love that praises King one day after making repeated racist statements, most recently calling African countries and Haiti “shithole countries,” is really no love at all.

    • Media Freaks Out About Facebook Changes; Maybe They Shouldn’t Have Become So Reliant On Facebook

      >From Facebook’s standpoint, this move is a pretty easy one to make. Even though it had spent the past few years heavily courting news publishers (including directly paying large publishers many millions of dollars to “pivot to video”), the company hadn’t totally succeeded in becoming the go to source for news (that remains Twitter’s strength). And yet, Facebook was also getting more and more grief over news items in its feeds, especially post-election when people incorrectly wanted to “blame” news on Facebook for Donald Trump’s presidential victory.

      On top of that, this move will only enforce something that Facebook had been inching towards for a while: forcing businesses and publishers to pay to have their news reach a larger audience. So… if this means that Facebook makes more money, distresses fewer people, and doesn’t get attacked as much for the so-called problem of “fake news” it looks like a total win from Facebook’s perspective.

      Publishers, on the other hand, were generally freaked out. Many have spent the past 5 years or so desperately trying to “play the Facebook game.” And, for many, it gave them a decent boost in traffic (if not much revenue). But, in the process, they proceeded to lose their direct connection to many readers. People coming to news sites from Facebook don’t tend to be loyal readers. They’re drive-bys.

    • Sens. Cotton and Perdue are outed for lying on Trump’s behalf

      There is no honor among anti-immigrant advocates and liars, I suppose. After dutifully lying on behalf of the president regarding his abhorrent language (“shithole countries”), Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) were outed by the White House.

    • Breaking News: Haiti to unseal files pertaining to former dictator, Jean Claude Duvalier, laundering money through Trump Tower during his time in power

      Haitian officials on Monday evening held an emergency high court session which resulted in an agreement to unseal and publicly released documents relating to Jean-Claude Duvalier’s indictments for money laundering through Trump tower, during his brutal 15 years dictatorship.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • ‘Killing ­Original Content ­Creators Isn’t In ­Silicon ­Valley’s Interest’
    • Duterte had ‘nothing to do’ with move to revoke news site’s licence: Spokesman

      Foreign press organisations and human rights groups have rallied behind Rappler, joining a chorus of domestic outrage among the media and political opposition at what they saw as move to muzzle those scrutinising Duterte.

    • Opposition Chief Criticises PM for Censorship

      ocial Democratic Party (SDP) chief Davor Bernardić on Wednesday criticised Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for censorship, asking him “Where’s the money?” which in Croatian (Di su pare?) is the name of a satire Facebook profile, to which Plenković responded there was no censorship in Croatia and that everyone was allowed to speak their mind responsibly and in accordance with the law.

      “Why can’t the ‘Di su pare?’ Facebook profile continue to be open in Croatia? It had over 300,000 followers, I followed it and I laughed when they wrote satirically about me. The government cannot ban satire or a Facebook profile,” Bernardić said during Question Time in Parliament.

    • Julian Assange says Google and Facebook have become an ‘existential threat to humanity’

      Fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said that Google and Facebook, two of the world’s biggest technology and social media companies, are an “existential threat” to humanity.

      The chief of the anti-secrecy and whistleblowing platform, who describes himself as a “geopolitical analyst” on his Twitter profile, believes the tech giants have evolved into powerful “digital superstates”.

      “While the internet has brought about a revolution in our ability to educate each other, the consequent democratic explosion has shaken existing democratic establishments to their core,” Assange said Tuesday (16 January), in a statement later posted online.

      His comments were read during an “Organising Resistance to Internet Censorship” webinar, sponsored by the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) this week.

    • Radio 4’s Laurie Taylor: “There’s a creeping censorship at the BBC”

      It was a programme, Laurie Taylor says, that wasn’t supposed to be – something he succeeded in “sneaking in” because BBC management’s attention was elsewhere. “Entirely bogus” is how he describes the launch of Thinking Allowed in 1998, but, 20 years on, Taylor’s weekly Radio 4 series that looks at research arising from the academic world is long established as the genuine article, and one of the best-loved half-hours on the network.

    • Librarians despise censorship. How can prison librarians handle that? It’s complicated.

      Last week, officials at the American Civil Liberties Union made public a letter they had written to the New Jersey Department of Corrections, accusing the department of violating inmates’ rights: Several prisons were refusing to allow inmates access to the book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” by Michelle Alexander. Restricting prisoners from reading about injustices in the U.S. prison system struck many as a shocking and ironic overreach. And the state apparently agreed. After being challenged by the ACLU, the department decided to reinstate the book and vowed to review restriction policies for prison libraries.

      This was hardly the first time prison library censorship has drawn criticism. At the end of 2017, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice came under fire when it was discovered that the prison system banned such books as “The Color Purple” and a collection of Shakespearean sonnets, while inmates were free to read Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” And this month, news that New York’s state prison system is restricting what books an inmate may receive through the mail to a handful of claptrap titles generated instant outrage.

    • It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech

      For most of modern history, the easiest way to block the spread of an idea was to keep it from being mechanically disseminated. Shutter the news­paper, pressure the broad­cast chief, install an official censor at the publishing house. Or, if push came to shove, hold a loaded gun to the announcer’s head.

      This actually happened once in Turkey. It was the spring of 1960, and a group of military officers had just seized control of the government and the national media, imposing an information blackout to suppress the coordination of any threats to their coup. But inconveniently for the conspirators, a highly anticipated soccer game between Turkey and Scotland was scheduled to take place in the capital two weeks after their takeover. Matches like this were broadcast live on national radio, with an announcer calling the game, play by play. People all across Turkey would huddle around their sets, cheering on the national team.

    • Conservatives Get ‘Shi**y’ Treatment from Twitter, Google – Again

      Legacy media organizations can be counted on to squawk when their voices aren’t heard in Republican-controlled forums – such as White House press conferences.

      But when it’s conservatives who are censored on powerful, widely read platforms, it’s hard to find any journalists who care.

      Such was the case last week when Project Veritas exposed, in an undercover investigation, how Twitter systematically diminishes – and even bans – access to posts published by those on the Right. One Twitter manager in charge of gatekeeping called their censorship victims “shi**y people.”

    • Are conservative voices being silenced by Twitter?

      Social media platform Twitter may be trying to reshape the online narrative by editing out conservative voices, a new undercover video released by Project Veritas alleges.

    • James O’Keefe: Twitter’s Censorship Algorithm Targets ‘Breitbart Audience’
    • Lebanon censors ban ‘The Post’ over Steven Spielberg’s support for Israel
    • Lebanon bans The Post movie
    • Lebanon bans ‘The Post’ over Spielberg’s support for Israel
    • Lebanon’s ‘outdated’ film censors under fire after banning Spielberg’s The Post
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Shooting The Messenger: Reporter Who Exposed Massive Indian Data Breach Targeted By Law Enforcement

      For many years now, we’ve been among those raising concerns about India’s giant identity database known as Aadhaar. A few weeks ago, we wrote that there appeared to be a fairly massive breach of data from that database, and that the information was now available on the dark web for cheap.

      [...]

      The details on the “police complaint” remain sparse, so perhaps it’s not a huge deal — but any attempt to investigate and/or intimidate (and those can be one and the same in some cases) a reporter for merely exposing a fairly big possible data breach that could effect over a billion people at least suggests an interest in covering up the breach, rather than in understanding the breach and preventing further damage.

    • Our View: NSA reboot revives citizen surveillance concerns

      Privacy advocates hailed incremental steps taken to reduce surveillance of American citizens by the National Security Agency since widespread abuses were first reported about four years ago.

      The reassurances are apparently enough for Congress to approve the continuation of a long-standing program that, while aimed at foreign communications traffic, nonetheless picks up the communications of millions of Americans along the way.

      The biggest controversy in the recent House vote was the stance of President Trump, who tweeted out mixed messages about his support of continuing Section 702 of the post-9/11 foreign intelligence act. The section allows the government to collect internet and email date from Americans if it has any relationship to a foreign country.

    • Senate, Rebuffing Privacy Concerns, Clears Path to Extend Surveillance Law
    • US senators vow to filibuster FBI, er, NSA’s domestic, errr, foreign mass spying program

      A number of US senators from both sides of the aisle have said they will filibuster an effort to approve the continuation of a controversial American government spying program.

      This mass snooping effort was authorized by section 702 of the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendments Act, which expired at the end of last year, and the NSA wants it renewed with a new law passed. Section 702 is supposed to allow Uncle Sam’s g-men to keep close tabs on non-Americans abroad.

      However, the rules have been interpreted by the Feds over the years to give the FBI warrantless access to the NSA’s database so agents can investigate crimes using records on American citizens on American soil. You’d think now would be a good time, while renewing section 702, to rein in the intelligence agencies so that truly only foreigners are targeted.

    • Senate advances bill to continue NSA surveillance program; passage expected this week

      A bill to continue the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs for five more years advanced Tuesday in the Senate, overcoming objections that it did not do enough to protect Americans’ civil liberties.

      Opponents came close to filibustering the measure, which was approved by the House last week. But the Senate’s narrow 60-38 vote puts it on track for final passage this week.

      Voting stretched more than an hour as senators lobbied key holdouts in dramatic fashion on the Senate floor.

    • After Basically No Debate, And No Opportunity For Amendments, Senate Votes To Expand NSA Surveillance

      As was unfortunately expected, after a very short (and fairly stupid) debate that was full of misleading statements that focused more on “but… but… terrorism!” than anything substantive, the Senate has voted for cloture on the same bill the House approved last week that extends and expands the NSA’s 702 surveillance program, opening it up to widespread abuse and refusing to do simple things like adding in a warrant requirement when used to spy on Americans. The vote was actually surprisingly close — going right down to the wire. They needed 60 votes to get this bill over the top and they almost didn’t get them. The final vote was 60 to 39 with the final vote (well over an hour after the vote starting) coming from Senator Claire McCaskill in favor of warrantless spying on Americans.

    • NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle

      The Senate narrowly voted to begin winding down debate over legislation renewing government surveillance powers, defeating a filibuster by privacy hawks.

      Senators voted 60-38 to wrap up debate on the legislation, which cleared the House last week and extends the surveillance program with only a few small changes.

      The program, absent congressional action, is scheduled to expire on Jan. 19.

    • Warrantless Spying Careens Toward Reauthorization

      Last week, the House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the FISA Amendments Act—and its controversial Section 702, which establishes general warrants for wiretapping foreigners—and rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Justin Amash that would have at least required the FBI agents to obtain a warrant before sifting through the NSA’s massive database of intercepted communications for Americans’ messages. As I noted in a blog post at the time, the few supposed “reforms” embedded in the authorization bill are cosmetic at best, and more likely will serve to actually expand the scope of warrantless surveillance. But at least Amash’s amendment got a vote, although without the benefit of much in the way of substantive debate.

    • U.S. Senate advances bill to renew NSA’s internet surveillance programme

      The U.S. Senate on Tuesday advanced a bill to renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance programme, as a final push by privacy advocates to derail the measure came up one vote short.

    • U.S. Senate to vote to renew NSA’s internet surveillance program

      The U.S. Senate on Tuesday planned to vote to advance a bill to renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program, as privacy advocates made a final push to derail the measure.

    • The House Has Voted. They Will Allow Warrantless Surveillance.

      In 2013, documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden ignited a national debate on the agency’s warrantless surveillance program and citizens’ right to privacy in the digital age. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives held a vote that may have put an end to that debate.

      The NSA’s warrantless surveillance program was created following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. In 2008, Congress passed Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, a law legalizing the previously secret program. The 256 to 164 vote permitted a six-year extension of the soon-to-expire law, while also legalizing the controversial practice of “about” surveillance.

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (11/21): Our parents used anonymous cash

      It’s also that the transactions of our digital children are permissioned. When our digital children buy a bottle of water with a debit card, a transaction clears somewhere in the background. But that also means that somebody can decide to have the transaction not clear; somebody has the right to arbitrarily decide what people get to buy and not buy, if this trend continues for our digital children. That is a horrifying thought.

    • New UIDAI features prove that data is unsafe: Experts

      E-governance expert Anupam Saraph said that the decision to come up with virtual ID was admission by UIDAI that storage of Aadhaar number was “dangerous and wrong”.

    • Aadhaar number details: Yet another ‘leak’ UIDAI needs to fix

      If someone knows your Aadhaar number, then they can find out with which bank you have an account easily by dialling a USSD code provided by Aadhaar helpline number.

    • Big Brother on wheels: Why your car company may know more about you than your spouse.

      The result is that carmakers have turned on a powerful spigot of precious personal data, often without owners’ knowledge, transforming the automobile from a machine that helps us travel to a sophisticated computer on wheels that offers even more access to our personal habits and behaviors than smartphones do.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • 1,000 Danish youths face charges for sharing 15-year-olds’ sex videos

      The sharing occurred in late 2017 and depicted a sexual encounter between two 15-year-olds. The young people charged with sharing the materials ranged in age from 15 to the early 20s. When Facebook learned that the material was being shared, the company notified US authorities, who in turn alerted authorities in Denmark.

    • Saudi Arabia: Three years on, flogged blogger Raif Badawi must be released
    • Donald Trump vs. Guantánamo’s Forever Prisoners
    • In New York, Crime Falls Along With Police Stops

      If you grew up in New York City in the 1970s, the number can be hard to get your head around: 291. If you were a reporter in New York City in the early 1990s, the number can almost make your head explode: 291 murders in 2017, the lowest total since the 1950s.

      But the number is perhaps most striking when set not against the numbers of murders in other years, but against this figure: the roughly 10,000 police stops conducted in 2017.

    • Big Corporations Make Millions by Selling People a Chance to Get Out of Jail

      Who benefits from wealth-based incarceration? The bail sharks.

      If you got arrested, could you come up with the bail needed to buy your immediate freedom?

      For most people, the answer is no. Even though those arrested haven’t been convicted of a crime, the only way for them to get out of jail while they await their day in court is to come up with an alternative source of money. Enter big insurance companies like Lexington National. They’ll get you out, but you have to pay them a fee that you’ll never get back, which guarantees them a hefty profit regardless of the outcome of the case.

      If you think this is corporate greed run amok, you aren’t alone. The legal right to turn a profit on bail is a rare phenomenon globally: It’s only legal in the U.S. and the Philippines. And for good reason.

      After all, the people accused of a crime — and their families desperate to have them home — are hardly in a position to bargain. Since they run the risk of losing their job or home, the accused are at the mercy of bail bond companies, which have a huge amount of leverage over people who sign their exploitative contracts. That’s why bail contracts often contain terms like installment plans and high interest rates that lead to years of debt.

    • Porn didn’t invent women’s desire or exploitation, but, looking back at history, it has a powerful role in shaping both
    • Danish police charge 1,000 people following Facebook sex video

      Danish police have charged 1,004 young people (some under 18) after Facebook notified authorities that Messenger users were sharing a video of two teens under 15 years old having sex, violating laws against the distribution of indecent images of children. Many of those who shared the video did so ‘just’ a few times, police said, but others shared it hundreds of times — they knew what they were doing, even if they didn’t realize it was illegal.

      Anyone found guilty would face no more than 20 days in prison, but they’d also be added to an offender registry for the next 10 years.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • If one only more GOP senator flips, the FCC’s Net Neutrality order will be up for grabs

      It’s a lost cause — after the Senate passes its CRA resolution, Congress would have to follow suit and then Trump would have to go along with the gag and not veto them — but it’s still a useful one, forcing lawmakers to publicly declare a position on Net Neutrality, an issue that has an improbably high recognition and approval from voters regardless of political affiliation.

    • Democrats are just one vote shy of restoring net neutrality

      Right now the resolution has the support of all 49 Democrats in the Senate and one Republican, Susan Collins of Maine. But Schumer and the rest of the caucus will have to win over one more Republican vote to prevent Vice President Mike Pence from breaking tie and allowing the repeal to stand.

    • Community Broadband: Privacy, Access, and Local Control

      Communities across the United States are considering strategies to protect residents’ access to information and their right to privacy. These experiments have a long history, but a new wave of activists have been inspired to seek a local response to federal setbacks to Internet freedom, such as the FCC’s decision to roll back net neutrality protections, and Congress’ early 2017 decision to eliminate user privacy protections.

      Internet service providers (ISP) have a financial incentive and the technical ability to block or slow users’ access, insert their own content on the sites we visit, or give preferential treatment to websites and services with which they have financial relationships. For many years, net neutrality principles and rules, most recently cemented in the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order, helped prevent much of this activity. Net neutrality helped create a landscape where new ideas and services could develop without being crowded out by political pressure or prioritized fast lanes for established commercial incumbents.

    • Blackburn Doubles Down On A Decade Of Lies As She Pushes Fake Net Neutrality Law

      So we’ve repeatedly noted how the FCC’s assault on popular net neutrality protections sits on pretty shaky legal ground. The agency not only ignored the public in trashing the rules, it ignored the nation’s startups, the people who built the internet, and any and all objective data. They also ignored the rampant comment fraud that occurred during the public comment period of the proceeding, a ham-fisted attempt by “somebody” to downplay the massive public opposition to the plan. For good measure the agency also blocked a law enforcement investigation into said fraud and even made up a DDOS attack.

      ISP lawyers and lobbyists know their victory could be short lived if looming lawsuits are able to convince a court that the FCC rushed to pass an “arbitrary and capricious order” while disregarding the public and violating FCC procedure. That’s why they’ve begun pushing hard for new net neutrality legislation they’re claiming will put the debate to bed, but has one real purpose: to pass flimsy, loophole-filled rules now to prevent the FCC (or a future, less cash-compromised Congress) from passing tougher, better rules down the road.

      Just days after Comcast began pushing harder for such legislation, the telecom industry’s most loyal ally in the House, Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn, began pushing a law that perfectly mirrors everything Comcast asked for. Namely, it makes everything but the most ham-fisted abuses (like outright blocking of websites) legal, effectively codifying federal apathy on net neutrality into law. The law doesn’t ban paid prioritization, zero rating, interconnection shenanigans, or any of the areas the modern net neutrality debate currently resides.

    • Mozilla Files Suit Against FCC to Protect Net Neutrality

      Today, Mozilla filed a petition in federal court in Washington, DC against the Federal Communications Commission for its recent decision to overturn the 2015 Open Internet Order.

  • DRM
    • DRM Puts the Brakes on Innovation

      Copyright law is slow. Whenever you hear about a case of alleged copyright infringement and you think, “What was illegal about this?” consider that the law probably came many, many years before anyone conceived of the activity it’s being used to target. Then it starts to make a little bit more sense.

      Look at how U.S. copyright law treats DRM, the annoying array of methods that digital content providers use to restrict their customers’ behavior. Passed in 1998, Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act made it illegal to bypass DRM or give others the means of doing so. When Congress passed Section 1201, it was mostly thinking of restrictions intended to stop users from making infringing copies of music and movies. The DMCA passed well before manufacturers began putting digital locks on cars, microwaves, toilets, and every other electronic product. We’re now living in a world where it might be a crime to modify the software on your rice cooker. If that sounds absurd, that’s because it is.

      You can almost forgive Congress for this mess—it didn’t know that DRM would soon crawl into every aspect of your life. On the other hand, Congress helped bring the infestation on. The DMCA encouraged manufacturers to build DRM into their products, because doing so gave them ammunition to fight people using their products in ways they didn’t approve of. Can’t compete with unauthorized repair shops? Make them illegal.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Shipyard Brewing Sues The Brewery It Is Trademark Bullying Over The Public Backlash To Its Trademark Bullying

        You may recall that the middle of last summer saw us reporting on a somewhat odd trademark dispute between two breweries, Shipyard Brewing Co. and Logboat Brewing Company. Chiefly at issue was the fact that both breweries used images of schooners on their respective labels, except that the images used were laughably different. Also at issue was that Logboat’s “Shiphead” beer used the word “head”, which Shipyard says it uses in a variety of other beers, such as Pumpkinhead, Melonhead and other variations. Shipyard, notably, does not have a beer called “Shiphead”, making this all the more eyebrow-raising.

    • Copyrights
      • New presidency of the Council of the European Union … new position on the EU copyright reform?

        Following the conclusion of the 6-month Estonian presidency, the presidency of the Council of the European Union is now Bulgarian, and will be so for the first semester of 2018.

        The Council is one of the key EU institutions and brings the voice of Member States’ governments into the decision- and law-making process. In fact and among other things – together with the European Parliament – the Council is in charge of adopting EU legislation.

      • Copyright Troll Gets Smacked Around By Court, As Judge Wonders If Some Of Its Experts Even Exist

        When last we checked in with Venice PI, the copyright troll claiming to hold rights to the movie Once Upon A Time In Venice and attempting to claim in court that a 91 year old man with dementia was part of a torrent swarm offering the movie who, oh by the way, had recently passed away, it was being lightly slapped around by judge Thomas Zilly. Zilly had barred Venice PI from contacting the family of the deceased, halted the trial, questioned the quality of the evidence Venice PI had put before the court, and likewise demanded more information on how that evidence was collected in the first place. Given that the evidence mostly amounted to IP addresses obtained by Venice PI, I had written that this particular judge was likely to be unimpressed by whatever the copyright troll provided.

        Well, hoo-boy, was that ever an understatement. The end result of what Venice PI put before the court in response was the judge issuing a minute order declaring that the company essentially explain its copyright trolling efforts entirely across several cases and slapped the company around for some truly stunning misbehavior. The order goes into three different areas in which Venice PI appears to have really, truly screwed up, starting with the fact that the troll’s claims of ownership and affiliations can’t even be substantiated.

      • We found a deleted page that reveals the paparazzi roots of Kodak Coin

        Kodak’s stock price has tripled since Tuesday as the company announced plans to develop a new blockchain-based digital rights management platform for photographers. Called KodakOne, the new platform, which isn’t available yet, will allow photographers to publicly register their rights in digital photographs on an immutable blockchain.

        The platform will include a digital currency called Kodak Coin that will be used to make licensing payments. There’s an initial coin offering scheduled for January 31.

        “KodakOne provides continual Web crawling in order to protect the IP of its members,” the KodakOne website says. “Where unlicensed usage of images is detected, KodakOne can efficiently manage the post-licensing process.”

      • Kodak’s Supposed Crytocurrency Entrance Appears To Be Little More Than A Rebranded Paparazzi Copyright Trolling Scheme… With The Blockchain

        For a few years now I’ve debated writing up a post about why a “blockchain-based DRM” is an idea that people frequently talk about, but which is a really dumb idea. Because the key point in the blockchain is that it “solves” the “double spend” problem of anything digital, there are always some who have argued that it could be useful in stopping the infinitely copyable nature of digital content. But… actually doing that is a much more difficult proposition. Instead, we just get simplistic ideas around using a blockchain ledger merely to establish a form of a rights database. Which… is fine, but hardly all that compelling a use of the blockchain (a regular old database is probably a lot more useful and efficient for that use case).

        But, last week, there was an awful lot of hype, fuss and confusion around what was billed as Kodak launching its own cryptocorrency / blockchain effort called KODAKone and Kodak Coin, that would “create an encrypted, digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers to register both new and archive work that they can then license within the platform.”

No Patents on Life (CRISPR), Said EPO Boards of Appeal Just a Few Hours Ago

Wednesday 17th of January 2018 05:01:35 PM

The Boards nail Broad

Summary: Broad spectacularly loses its key case, which may soon mean that any other patents on CRISPR too will be considered invalid

THE decline of patent quality at the EPO is a real problem. The granting of CRISPR patents is an issue we wrote about this morning, having addressed the subject many times before (here’s some background).

Thankfully, the appeal board ended up deciding to toss out these stupid patents (metaphorically speaking, not politely put as courts typically do). This was foreseen by a longtime observer and UPC booster. They benefit from sheer abundance of patents. Here is what he wrote last year:

In Europe, the first patent of UC Berkeley has very recently been granted by the EPO.

As in the US, however, the Broad Institute has been the first one to get a patent issued in Europe, namely EP 2 771 468. Against this patent, 9 oppositions have been filed, most of which appear to be so-called strawman oppositions.

The final decision was covered by Daniel Lim, who describes himself as “IP lawyer at Allen & Overy, specialising in life sciences patent litigation. I am particularly interested in CRISPR, I-O and molecular Dx.”

“These patents should never have been granted in the first place.”So he’s into patent litigation in CRISPR, hence he relies on CRISPR patents. Earlier today he wrote: “BREAKING: #EPO’s opposition division has revoked the @broadinstitute’s #CRISPR-Cas9 patent EP2771468 in its entirety. Things wrapped up v quickly once priority was lost. Broad’s 64 aux requests not admitted and novelty not contested. Appeal already flagged…”

Found via Team UPC were a bunch of his other tweets (maybe Broad is his client) and there’s lots more in this thread, noting for example: “Appeal to the Technical Board of Appeal of the #EPO already flagged. The Broad considers this to be an issue of “international inconsistency, not just for CRISPR patents, but for a wider range of European patents and applications that originated as U.S. provisional applications…”

He then wrote: “BREAKING: #EPO has just found @broadinstitute’s European #CRISPR Patent (EP2771468) not entitled to claim priority from P1, P2, P5 and P11 – upholding the preliminary opinion on this point – inventorship dispute with Marraffini and Rockefeller Uni comes back to bite…”

Broad is in ‘damage control’ mode (over loss of European Patent/s) and Lim mostly amplifies their side in this dispute. They wrote “[f]or journalists”:

In a decision that is unrelated to the substantive merits of the CRISPR patent, an initial review panel of the European Patent Office (EPO) denied the Broad Institute’s reliance on its U.S. priority provisional application in Europe based on a technical formality.

This technicality concerns the current interpretation of rules that dictate what happens when the names of inventors differ across international applications. This interpretation affects many other European patents that rely on U.S. provisional patent applications, and is inconsistent with treaties designed to harmonize the international patent process, including that of the United States and Europe.

These patents should never have been granted in the first place. It’s not hard to see why Lim relies on such patents; his desire, however, should not become policy. It’s about public interest.

Only Two Weeks on the Job, Judge Patrick Corcoran is Already Being Threatened by EPO Management

Wednesday 17th of January 2018 02:37:22 PM

Summary: The attack on a technical judge who is accused of relaying information many people had already relayed anyway (it was gossip at the whole Organisation for years) carries on as he is again being pushed around, just as many people predicted

THE EPO scandals keep getting more scandalous. Yes, it’s possible for them to further escalate, still

As we noted this morning, there’s an important decision on the way, soon to be delivered by the appeal boards (formally called the Boards of Appeal). But many rightly doubt or question the independence; or the appeal boards being able to judge and rule in peace. They have already complained — publicly even — about Battistelli bullying the judge, their colleague, in several jurisdictions (considerably raising the cost of legal defense as even interpreters would likely be needed).

“Mr Corcoran is sent to work in the Hague,” a source told us today. “If he disagree to removing his family to a different country, he can be dismissed.”

“Mr Corcoran is sent to work in the Hague. If he disagree to removing his family to a different country, he can be dismissed.”
      –AnonymousIncredible, isn’t it? It didn’t even take long! Just as many people expected and publicly predicted. He is now under the control of Team Battistelli, so they actually have this kind of leverage over him. They are endlessly pushing the man and his wife around. This is truly appalling and incredibly damaging to the EPO’s reputation. To put it bluntly, who would want to even relocate to work there (another country) and then be thrown around from place to place like some “gypsy”? Corcoran’s colleagues too have already been pushed out of Munich and into the suburbs (Haar). This is part of a pattern of bullying/punishment by Team Battistelli, “making an example” to scare others, including Corcoran’s colleagues.

“He is now under the control of Team Battistelli, so they actually have this kind of leverage over him.”How on Earth can the UPC even be considered under such extraordinary circumstances? The German courts hopefully keep an eye on all this…

Regarding the German courts, there’s lots of “fake news” this week. We wrote about some of that yesterday. It carries on. Michael Loney (chief at Managing IP, one of the key pushers of the UPC) is repeating the lie that DAV is ‘the’ “German Bar Association” in order to promote UPC agenda. The title of this piece says “German Bar Association says constitutional complaint inadmissible” and the opening sentence says “DAV, the German Bar Association, has submitted to the Federal Constitutional Court its view on the constitutional complaint against German participation in the Unified Patent Court.”

“The readers aren’t as gullible or dumb as Team UPC wants and needs them to be.”It’s not actually ‘the’ German Bar Association, but Team UPC intentionally presents it as such (falsely). Also yesterday there was this article from Dugie Standeford who said “Unified Patent Court Remain High On EU Priority List” and “[o]n the patent side, a pressing question is whether – and when – the EU unified patent and patent court (UPC) might finally launch.”

No, the Unified Patent Court is pretty much dead. What they really want isn’t what they’ll get. They have been trying — and failing — for at least a decade and in the process they destroyed order/lawfulness at the EPO (and workers sometimes lost their lives, as “collateral damage” of so-called ‘reforms’). There are many national and cross-national barriers to UPC which is just a stupid plot of profiteers, not compliant (w.r.t. Constitutions etc.) lawmakers. It ought to be permanently halted. Even some people in the patent ‘community’ (like attorneys) are saying the same. The UPC is a failed project. We can now see that Team UPC (Alex Robinson) is being blasted by dozens of commenters for lying about the UPC on Friday. Live and learn. You lie and then there’s karma. The readers aren’t as gullible or dumb as Team UPC wants and needs them to be.