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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 2 hours 54 sec ago

Links 15/3/2018: Qt Creator 4.6 RC, Microsoft Openwashing

Thursday 15th of March 2018 09:38:48 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
  • Server
    • Development Versions of Oracle Linux UEK now available on GitHub

      The source for UEK has always been available at, as a git repository with full git history. Starting now, we’ll also be posting the UEK source on By doing so, we intend to increase the visibility for our work and to make it even easier for people to access the source for UEK. We will also use this repository for working with developers at partner companies and in the Linux community. The repository contains the source for the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel including a small number of Oracle additions which have not yet been accepted into the mainline Linux kernel source tree.

      The Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) is a Linux kernel built by Oracle and supported via Oracle Linux support. Its focus is performance, stability, and minimal backports by tracking the mainline source code as closely as is practical. UEK is well-tested and used to run Oracle’s Engineered Systems, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, and large enterprise deployments for Oracle customers.

    • Defining the Spectrum of Cloud Deployment Technologies

      “Cloud computing” has been a catch-all phrase over the past decade to describe anything that’s a shift away from hardware servers. However, the term has become nebulous in recent times with the growing diversity in how many different ways you can leverage the cloud.

      We’ve come far from a simplistic separation between on-premises and cloud. Today, it’s about on-premises versus a range of different cloud options. Indeed, the cloud can be a confusing place for newcomers and veterans alike, with new options cropping up every few months, and the landscape always shifting towards the newer and better.

      But how do you choose between good, better and best? Let’s compare the various cloud deployment technologies available today and find the common ground and what separates them from each other.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • LinuxBoot: Linux as firmware

      Both the free-software and security communities have recently been focusing on the elements of our computers that run below the operating system. These proprietary firmware components are usually difficult or impossible to extend and it has long been suspected (and proven in several cases) that there are significant security concerns with them. The LinuxBoot Project is working to replace this complex, proprietary, and largely unknown firmware with a Linux kernel. That has the added benefit of replacing the existing drivers in the firmware with well-tested drivers from Linux.

      To understand LinuxBoot and the problem it’s working to solve, we first have to discuss how computers actually boot. We usually think of a running system as including the hardware, operating system (OS), and applications. However, for a number of reasons, there are several layers that run between the hardware and the OS. Most users are aware of UEFI (which replaced the older BIOS); for many systems, it prepares the system to run and loads the bootloader. These necessary functions are just the tip of the iceberg, though. Even after the computer finishes loading the OS, there are multiple embedded systems also running on the system entirely separate from the OS. Most notably, the Intel Management Engine (ME) runs a complete Minix operating system, while System Management Mode (SMM) is used to run code for certain events (e.g. laptop lid gets closed) in a way that is completely invisible to the running OS.

    • Shrinking the kernel with a hammer

      This is the fourth article of a series discussing various methods of reducing the size of the Linux kernel to make it suitable for small environments. Reducing the kernel binary has its limits and we have pushed them as far as possible at this point. Still, our goal, which is to be able to run Linux entirely from the on-chip resources of a microcontroller, has not been reached yet. This article will conclude this series by looking at the problem from the perspective of making the kernel and user space fit into a resource-limited system.

      A microcontroller is a self-contained system with peripherals, memory, and a CPU. It is typically small, inexpensive, and has low power-consumption characteristics. Microcontrollers are designed to accomplish one task and run one specific program. Therefore, the dynamic memory content of a microcontroller is usually much smaller than its static content. This is why it is common to find microcontrollers equipped with many times more ROM than RAM.

      For example, the ATmega328 (a popular Arduino target) comes with 32KB of flash memory and only 2KB of static memory (SRAM). Now for something that can boot Linux, the STM32F767BI comes with 2MB of flash and 512KB of SRAM. So we’ll aim for that resource profile and figure out how to move as much content as possible from RAM to ROM.

    • Preventing kernel-stack leaks

      The kernel stack is a small, frequently reused region of memory in each thread’s address space. That reuse allows for efficient memory use and good performance as a result of cache locality, but it also presents a problem: data left on the stack can also end up being reused in ways that were not intended. The PaX patch set contains a mechanism designed to clear that data from the stack and prevent leaks, but an attempt to merge that code into the kernel has run into a snag.

      By design, the C language does not define the contents of automatic variables — those that are created on the stack when the function defining them is called. If the programmer does not initialize automatic variables, they will thus contain garbage values; in particular, they will contain whatever happened to be left on the stack in the location where the variables are allocated. Failure to initialize these variables can, as a result, lead to a number of undesirable behaviors. Writing an uninitialized variable to user space will leak the data on the stack, which may be sensitive in one way or another. If the uninitialized value is used within the function, surprising results may ensue; if an attacker can find a way to control what will be left on the stack, they may be able to exploit this behavior to compromise the kernel. Both types of vulnerability have arisen in the kernel in the past and will certainly continue to pop up in the future.

    • Linux 4.15.10
    • Linux 4.14.27
    • Stable kernels 4.15.10 and 4.14.27
    • Graphics Stack
      • Intel Graphics Driver Developers Begin Eyeing The Linux 4.18 Kernel

        The Linux 4.16 kernel is at least two or three weeks out from being released, but Intel has already submitted their i915 DRM driver feature changes for Linux 4.17 and are now beginning to think about their feature changes for Linux 4.18.

        Intel’s feature changes for Linux 4.17 are now staged in DRM-Next with hitting that soft cutoff deadline ahead of the next kernel cycle. Intel Direct Rendering Manager updates for Linux 4.17 include Cannonlake “Gen 10″ graphics now being considered stable, the very early bits of Icelake “Gen 11″ support, and a lot of low-level code improvements. To little surprise, Linux 4.17 is looking like another exciting cycle on the feature/improvement front.

      • Intel BayTrail Gets Minor Graphics Improvement On Coreboot, Now Supports OpRegion

        While there doesn’t appear to be too many Intel BayTrail users out there running systems with Coreboot, this generation of hardware that’s been a bit notorious with Linux users due to varying issues can now find at least a bit better graphics support with the latest Coreboot code.

      • Mesa 18.0 Is Now Primed For Releasing Soon

        Mesa 18.0′s delay of more than one month and without any new release candidate came while the open-source Intel developers were hunkered down to clear the remaining blocker bugs.

        Fortunately, it appears the remaining Mesa 18.0 blocker bugs are now resolved, meaning the official release could come in a matter of days depending if they decide to first do a Mesa 18.0-rc5 release for last minute testing.

      • Mir Devs Are Still Working On An Example Mir Desktop Session For Ubuntu 18.04

        While Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “Bionic Beaver” is just one month away from release, the developers working on the Mir display server code are still working to get an example desktop session into this release.

        Details remain light but in writing yesterday about changes the UBports’ team needs to make for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS support, longtime Mir developer Alan Griffiths commented, “The Mir team is aiming to have the necessary tweaks in place for the 18.04 release along with an example “Mir” desktop session.” The tweaks needed for Mir in Ubuntu 18.04 are not using Mir-on-Mir and client applications using libmirclient cannot be using EGL otherwise only software-based rendering will work.

      • Mesa 18.0 Has Been Off The Tracks For More Than One Month

        Mesa 18.0 had been due for release around mid-February, but that didn’t happen and there hasn’t even been a release candidate in more than one month.

        Mesa 18.0-RC4 was released back on 9 February and since then there hasn’t been an RC5 or a new release.

      • Uniform Packing For RadeonSI NIR, Helps Reduce CPU Overhead

        Timothy Arceri of Valve’s open-source Linux GPU driver team is out with his latest set of patches to further enhance the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver.

        Timothy’s latest objective remains with improving the RadeonSI NIR back-end for using this modern intermediate representation alternative to Gallium3D TGSI. NIR is important for getting the OpenGL 4.6 bits in place with SPIR-V ingestion / better interoperability with the RADV Vulkan driver and the already-written code paths using NIR.

      • Supporting virtual reality displays in Linux

        At (LCA) 2017 in Hobart, Tasmania, Keith Packard talked with kernel graphics maintainer Dave Airlie about how virtual reality devices should be hooked up to Linux. They both thought it would be pretty straightforward to do, so it would “only take a few weeks”, but Packard knew “in reality it would take a lot longer”. In a talk at LCA 2018 in Sydney, Packard reported back on the progress he has made; most of it is now in the upstream kernel.

        Packard has been consulting for Valve, which is a game technology company, to add support for head-mounted displays to Linux. Those displays have an inertial measurement unit (IMU) for position and orientation tracking and a display with some optics. The display is about 2Kx1K pixels in the hardware he is working with; that is split in half for each eye. The displays also have a “bunch of lenses”, which makes them “more complicated than you would hope”.

        The display is meant to block out the real world and to make users believe they inhabit the virtual reality. “It’s great if you want to stumble into walls, chairs, and tables.” Nearly all of the audience indicated they had used a virtual reality headset, leading Packard to hyperbolically proclaim that he is the last person in the universe to obtain one.

    • Benchmarks
      • Some Windows Server 2016 vs. Linux Network Benchmarks

        Prior to the larger and more formal network performance comparison to come for Windows/BSD/Linux, while doing the benchmarks this week for the 7-way Linux distribution comparison on AMD EPYC 7551, I also ran some network tests, including with Windows Server 2016 riding on all available stable release updates on each OS.

      • Ubuntu 18.04 Versus Six Other Linux Distributions On AMD EPYC

        With Ubuntu 18.04 LTS set to be released next month and its final package configuration quickly falling into place, we have begun firing up some benchmarks for seeing how this Ubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” release is comparing to various other Linux distributions. Up first as part of this series of benchmarks is using an AMD EPYC workstation/server for seeing how the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS performance compares to six other Linux distributions.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Samsung/Enlightenment Developers Are Busy At Work On EFL 2.0

      Cedric Bail of Samsung’s Open-Source Group presented today at the Embedded Linux Conference on EFL 2.0 as part of the Enlightenment project’s long-standing goal to provide a new and unified API.

      While the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries 1.x (EFL1) continues to be maintained, the developers at Samsung OSG that are part of the Enlightenment team have been busy construction EFL 2.0 and hope to show off the first of their new wares in 2018.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Qt Creator 4.6 RC released

        We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 4.6 RC!

        Since the beta release we have been busy with bug fixing. Please refer to the beta blog post and our change log for an overview of what is new in Qt Creator 4.6. As always this is a final call for feedback from you before we release 4.6.0, so we would be happy to hear from you on our bug tracker, the mailing list, or on IRC.

      • Present your images from the couch with Gwenview, MPRIS & KDE Connect

        KDE Applications 18.04 Feature Freeze is setting in. Or: reminder to do finally that feature you always wanted to implement.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Reflections on the GNOME 3.28 Release Video

        I just flipped the switch for the 3.28 Release Video. I’m really excited for all the new awesome features the community has landed, but I am a bit sad that I don’t have time to put more effort into the video this time around. A busy time schedule collided with technical difficulties in recording some of the apps. When I was staring at my weekly schedule Monday there didn’t seem much chance for a release video to be published at all..

  • Distributions
    • Slackware Family
      • What all happened in March so far

        I realize I have been a wee bit silent on the blog (not counting my replies in the comments section). This was due to private issues that drained the desire for social interactions. Nevertheless there was quite a bit of activity on the Slackware packaging front.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Benchmarks Of Russia’s “Baikal” MIPS-Based Processors, Running Debian Linux

        A few years back was the news of Russia wanting to get into the CPU business and at the time were aiming for ARM-based processors but ended up settling for MIPS. It turns out those “Baikal” processors are still around and being worked on as indicated by some fresh benchmarks this week.

        Back in 2015 is when Baikal Electronics/T-Platforms announced their Baikal-T1 28nm SoC with DDR3 support, clock speeds up to 1.2GHz, SATA connectivity, USB 2.0, and Gigabit Ethernet. The Baikal-T1 was initially advertised as for use in networking appliances and industrial platforms but has also wound up in some Russian desktop PCs.

      • Derivatives
        • Raspbian Remix Lets You Create Your Own Spin That You Can Install on PC or Mac

          Raspbian PIXEL for PC and Mac is a Debian-based operating system created by the Raspberry Pi Foundation for those who want to run the de facto standard Raspberry Pi OS on their personal computers too. Arne Exton did a remix of Raspbian PIXEL a few years ago to include the Refracta tools.

          With the Refracta tools installed by default, users were able to easily install the operating system on their PCs or Macs, as well as to make their own remix of Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Raspbian PIXEL OS. Today’s update brings the latest software versions and rebases the OS on the latest Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” series.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Chromium and Firefox Web Browsers Are Now Installable as Snaps on Ubuntu Linux

            Canonical’s Snappy technologies are becoming more and more popular these days as the company behind the widely used Ubuntu plans to enable them by default and even make them a first-class citizen in future releases of its Linux-based operating system.

            The great thing about Snap apps is that they are secure by design, utilizing a container-style approach mechanism for deploying software on various GNU/Linux distributions that support Canonical’s Snappy universal binary format.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Faster app-launching in Cinnamon

              The development team took some time earlier this year to investigate Cinnamon’s performance when it comes to launching applications.

              It’s really hard to measure the actual time between the moment the mouse button is clicked and the moment the new application is rendered on the screen, with its window properly mapped, and the mapping window animation completely finished. It’s not something that can be timed accurately, yet we all agreed within the development team to say that it either “was”, or “felt” snappier in MATE and Xfce.

              At the time, we didn’t know if it was just down to perception (animations, composition), or a feature (registering new apps with the session for instance), or a performance issue.

              We developed a little script and a method to measure how long it took to flood the desktop environment with the creation of 200 windows. We could then measure the time reported by the script to build these 200 windows, and the time it actually took the desktop environment to recover from it and have these windows placed/mapped correctly and ready to be interacted with.

            • Linux Mint Devs to Enable Faster Launching of Apps on Cinnamon for Linux Mint 19

              As you probably know already, Cinnamon is the default desktop environment of the Ubuntu-based Linux Mint operating system. It uses parts of the GNOME Stack at its core, which means that it’s not so lightweight as its MATE or Xfce counterparts, so launching apps isn’t as fast as you’d like it to be lately.

              That’s why the Linux Mint development team spent some time earlier this year to investigate and debug any performance hogs in Cinnamon, especially when launching the pre-installed applications. They compared Cinnamon with the Metacity window manager and found out that the former was six times slower.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source Leftovers
  • Warning for RSS fans — Digg Reader is closing in under two weeks

    For some people RSS is already a dead technology, and over the last few years numerous RSS readers — including Google Reader — shut up shop. But for others, accessing newsfeeds is an essential way to keep up to date with what’s going on.

    Following the closure of Google Reader, RSS fans flocked to the likes of Feedly, The Old Reader, Digg Reader and Inoreader. Now Digg Reader has announced that it is to close, and users are being advised to export their feeds so they can be imported into an alternative service.

  • 6 Real-Life Stories Way Crazier Than Any Movie (Part 2 of 2)

    While most CEOs carefully backpedal when confronted with their shady business practices, the Notorious PBL dove headfirst into supervilliany. When questioned on the practices of his company, Brabeck-Letmathe stated that access to water isn’t a right. Not “caught on a hot mic” said it — he proudly spouted that nonsense, then went home to do shots of crude oil or something.

  • [Older] Be Wary of Silicon Valley’s Guilty Conscience: on The Center for Humane Technology

    Well-meaning though it may be, the Center for Humane Technology ultimately functions not as a solution to our technologically exacerbated problems, but simply as a way of making those problems slightly more palatable. It sees the cultural space that is opening up for criticism of technology and rushes in to ensure that this space is occupied by those who maintain close ties to the tech world – and thus it sets itself up as the arbiter of what passes for acceptable criticism. At a moment when there is growing concern that the high-tech dream is turning into a waking nightmare, the Center for Humane Technology swoops in to offer lifestyle tweaks (many of which are themselves technological) instead of systemic critiques. And by putting forth a slate of “former tech insiders and CEOs” the Center for Humane Technology polices the boundaries of who gets to participate in these discussions, making sure that it remains a conversation between former Google employees and current Google employees.

  • Hardware
    • Intel Icelake Server Chips To Support WBNOINVD & PCONFIG

      The GCC and LLVM/Clang compilers have been working on Icelake CPU support for a while now as just the “icelake” target but now it’s being separated into “icelake-client” and “icelake-server” as the CPU feature differences between the desktop-class processors and Xeon server chips become more clear for this succeeding generation to Cannonlake.

      We’ve already reported on AVX-512 coming to all of the Icelake processors with no longer being reserved just for the high-end Intel CPUs. Besides AVX-512 additions, all of the Icelake CPUs will have some new additions like GFNI (Galois Field NI) and UMIP (User-Mode Instruction Prevention) and VAES.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • MPs warn of ‘poisonous air’ emergency costing £20bn a year

      MPs have demanded an end to the UK’s “poisonous air” in an unprecedented report from four Commons committees.

      The Environment, Health, Transport and Environmental Audit committees want a new Clean Air Act, and a clean air fund financed by the motor industry.

      They are also demanding a faster phase-out of petrol and diesel cars – currently set for 2040.

      The government said air pollution had improved significantly since 2010 but there was “more to do”.

  • Security
    • ​Linus Torvalds slams CTS Labs over AMD vulnerability report

      CTS Labs, a heretofore unknown Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity startup, has claimed it’s found over a dozen security problems with AMD Ryzen and EPYC processors. Linus Torvalds, Linux’s creator, doesnt buy it.

    • Linus Torvalds Roasts CTS Labs After They Exposed AMD Chip Vulnerabilities

      Just a couple of days back, CTS researchers exposed more than a dozen ‘critical’ vulnerabilities in AMD chips marketed under the brand names Ryzen and Epyc. The company also claimed that a backdoor exists in AMD processors. Their revelation came with a well-decorated website, a whitepaper, and a video.

    • Torvalds wades into CTS Labs’ AMD chip security report
    • Linux Torvalds casts shade on CTS Labs’ AMD CPU flaw security report
    • Intel Rolls Out Updated, Post-Spectre CPU Microcode (20180312)

      Intel has published the Intel Processor Microcode Package for Linux 20180312 release with the latest improvements around the microcode-based approach for Spectre CPU vulnerability mitigation, succeeding their microcode updates from earlier in the year.

    • Judge Says Yahoo Still On The Hook For Multiple Claims Related To Three Billion Compromised Email Accounts

      A federal judge is going to let a bunch of people keep suing Yahoo over its three-year run of continual compromise. Yahoo had hoped to get the class action suit tossed, stating that it had engaged in “unending” efforts to thwart attacks, but apparently it just wasn’t good enough to prevent every single one of its three billion email accounts from falling into the hands of hackers.

    • 3 best practices for securing Kubernetes environments

      The Kubernetes orchestration platform is such a gigantic open source project that its evolution is inherently rapid. The pace of change significantly increases the importance of adhering to security best practices when using the ever-changing Kubernetes platform to automate deployment, scaling, and management of containerized cloud-native applications.

      Ultimately, effective security also supports the entire Kubernetes project, since the technology’s overall adoption depends on the confidence and trust that Kubernetes earns and establishes. That said, standard security procedures and practices that work well in traditional environments are often inadequate for securing Kubernetes environments, where traffic is vastly more dynamic, and where there must be security in place around the pods, containers, nodes, and images.

    • HIPAA guidelines should evolve with wearable technology

      However, due to health data security concerns, patient data that is collected by wearables and shared with physicians will create an additional burden on health-care organizations. It will be the job of health information management (HIM) personnel to make sure the databases storing wearable data are HIPAA compliant.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Let’s Encrypt Starts Offering Free Wildcard SSL Certificates that Work with Multiple Sub-domains

      Let’s Encrypt started issuing free Wildcard SSL certificate from yesterday through their updated version of ACME protocol Automated Certificate Management Environment ACMEv2.

      Wildcard SSL certificates are more expensive ones than the regular single domain SSL certificates, a wildcard certificate for the domain name * could cover,,

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Following Trump’s Meeting on Violent Video Games, Experts Explain What the Research Really Shows

      Teen Vogue spoke to three experts with extensive experience studying video game violence. They shared what they thought was missing at the White House meeting and what their research has shown about the effects of violent video games. Here are some key takeaways.

    • The Novichok Story Is Indeed Another Iraqi WMD Scam

      As recently as 2016 Dr Robin Black, Head of the Detection Laboratory at the UK’s only chemical weapons facility at Porton Down, a former colleague of Dr David Kelly, published in an extremely prestigious scientific journal that the evidence for the existence of Novichoks was scant and their composition unknown.

    • Trump Promotes Longtime Russia Hawk Just as Russiagate Loses Momentum

      Rex Tillerson, whose hotly scrutinized ties to Russia have been a centerpiece of Rachel Maddow’s conspiratorial ravings for many months, has been fired. Replacing him as Secretary of State will be Mike Pompeo, who has been a consistent and longstanding Russia hawk for years, going so far as accusing President Obama of endangering America by simply agreeing to meet with Vladimir Putin in 2015.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Finance
    • Debt is creeping back up in sub-Saharan Africa

      Today,however, the median debt-to-GDP ratio in the region is back over 50%. Although that figure may seem low by international standards, African countries collect relatively little tax and tend to pay high interest rates. As a result, they cannot afford to borrow nearly as much as their counterparts elsewhere do. The main cause is the long decline in commodity prices that has unfolded since the global financial crisis of 2008. As the proceeds from their chief exports have dwindled and economic growth has slowed, African governments have had to borrow more to fill the void in their budgets. The IMF reckons that five sub-Saharan African countries are already in “debt distress”, with nine more at high risk of joining them.

    • Google will purge cryptocurrency ads come June

      Following in the footsteps of Facebook, the search giant will clamp down on any ads promoting cryptocurrencies, their exchanges and wallets, along with companies that look to offer advice about digital money investments.

    • Wipro selling data centre business for US$405m to Ensono

      Giant Indian IT services company Wipro has signed a definitive agreement to sell its hosted data centre services business to US-based hybrid IT services provider Ensono.

    • How Amazon Became Corporate America’s Nightmare

      A year later, however, Amazon had leapfrogged to No. 6 on the list of most valuable companies. Since the end of 2014, its market value has quintupled. This was a case of preparation meeting opportunity. As the company started to clear key thresholds in several of its important businesses, it also revealed that it was sitting on a gold mine made of clouds.

    • ‘Fight fire with fire’: IMF’s Lagarde calls for bitcoin crackdown

      The head of the International Monetary Fund said authorities around the world could harness the potential of cryptocurrencies to help bring them under control, warning that failure to do so would allow the unfettered development of a “potentially major new vehicle for money laundering and the financing of terrorism”.

    • WaPo Fails to Disclose Ownership in Puff Piece for Bezos

      The Washington Post, like a lot of corporate media (CounterSpin, 10/20/17), has spent a great deal of time hyping the bidding process for Amazon HQ2, Amazon’s planned second headquarters that hundreds of localities are allegedly competing for. The thing that distinguishes the Post’s coverage is that it and Amazon share an owner—world’s richest billionaire Jeff Bezos. So it’s notable—and uniquely sketchy—when the paper not only uses prime media real estate to uncritically hype Amazon’s primary corporate sales pitch, but does so while failing to disclose that Amazon’s CEO is the paper’s boss.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Today’s Debate Over Online Porn Started Decades Ago
    • Sex Workers And Survivors Raising The Alarm About SESTA: It Will Literally Put Their Lives In Danger

      Last week I asked for anyone to explain how SESTA would (in any way) reduce sex trafficking? Not a single person even tried to answer. Because there is no answer. Sex trafficking is already illegal, and yet people do it. Nothing in SESTA makes sex trafficking more illegal. Nothing in SESTA makes it easier for law enforcement to find or crack down on sex trafficking or to help the victims of sex trafficking. Indeed, as we’ve detailed, it does the exact opposite. It puts criminal liability on internet sites that are somehow used in conjunction with prostitution (going beyond just trafficking, thanks to the FOSTA addition to SESTA), and uses a vague, poorly drafted, unclear “knowledge” standard that none of SESTA’s supporters can adequately explain or define. As we noted, from our experience in covering what happens when you pin liability on a platform instead of its users — especially using vague and unclear standards — bad things usually result.

    • YouTube Shows Dennis Prager’s Claim Of Discrimination Against Conservatives Is Laughable

      You will recall that Dennis Prager, the conservative commentator who also runs a YouTube channel to inform his viewers of his perspective on a variety of topics, recently sued YouTube. The meat of Prager’s claims is that YouTube is censoring some of his videos purely because he is a conservative — with the clear implication being that YouTube is a liberal bastion of conservative-hating video hosting. Just to be clear, there is no real evidence for that. What there is evidence for is that YouTube is trying very hard to sort through its hilariously enormous trove of video content for objectionable material, and that it often does this quite badly. None of that amounts to, as Prager claims, a liberal conspiracy against some conservative guy.

      While Prager is seeking a preliminary injunction against YouTube to keep it from administering its own site as it sees fit, YouTube is asking for the case to be dismissed outright. There are two claims at issue: first, that YouTube classifying some of his videos in its “restricted mode” amounts to YouTube censoring him and, second, that YouTube is doing this “censoring” for purely partisan political reasons. If you find yourself sympathetic to those claims, perhaps it’s because you have heard them repeated often elsewhere, over and over again (or because you’ve seen Prager sending out fundraising notices making exactly these claims), then you really should read the declaration from Alice Wu, part of the Trust and Safety management team at YouTube, filed in the case last week. Wu directly takes on both of Prager’s claims and dismantles them completely to the point that it’s almost embarrassing for Prager.

    • Just As Everyone’s Starting To Worry About ‘Deepfake’ Porn Videos, SESTA Will Make The Problem Worse

      Over the last few months, if you haven’t been hiding under a tech news rock, you’ve probably heard at least something about growing concerns about so-called “Deepfakes” which are digitally altered videos, usually of famous people edited into porn videos. Last month, Reddit officially had to ban its deepfakes subreddit. And, you can’t throw a stone without finding some mainstream media freaking out about the threat of deepfakes. And, yes, politicians are getting into the game, warning that this is going to be used to create fake scandals or influence elections.

    • Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and National Coalition Against Censorship Release a FREE Comic Book to Help Protect Student Rights!

      As millions of American students assert their First Amendment rights in protests across the country, advocacy groups Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and National Coalition Against Censorship released a new comic book to help protect students’ rights.

    • European Parliament ambushed by doctored version of pending internet censorship rules that sneaks filtering into all online services

      For months, the European Parliament has been negotiating over a new copyright rule, with rightsholder organizations demanding that some online services implement censoring filters that prevent anyone from uploading text, sounds or images if they have been claimed by a copyright holder.

      These filters — branded #censorshipmachines by activists — were hugely controversial: even when used as intended, they make no allowances for fair dealing and other limitations to copyright. Beyond that, they are ripe for abuse, incentivizing trolls and censors to register materials as a means of keeping them off the internet, regardless of whether they hold any relevant copyrights.

      Thankfully, the filters had been largely erased from the negotiating drafts, thanks to vigorous debate and activism. But last week, German MEP Axel Voss, rapporteur for the Copyright Directive, introduced a new draft that brought the filters back, and imposed them on virtually every kind of online platform, vastly expanding their scope beyond the worst drafts of the earlier proposals.

    • COLUMN: Censorship coddles our young people

      I contend even a spicier title – “Hickeys of the Field” perhaps – might have captured me right off. The plot is fine, but had our players succumbed to a forbidden affair, with a few words thrown in like “heaving breasts” and “heavy petting,” my hormonal focus may have grasped and retained the deeper moral objective.

      I mean, this was about the time I first began hoping Louise Alwine would be wearing certain skirts to class, and Hee Haw’s Sunshine Cornsilk left an indelible impression rivaled only by Ginger from the island.

    • Chinese reporter’s spectacular eye-roll sparks viral memes, censorship

      It was the eye-roll that launched a thousand gifs.

      China’s censors are scrambling to put a lid on a social media frenzy unleashed by a journalist’s reaction to a softball question during the mostly scripted annual parliament session.

      Impeccably coiffed and sporting a bright blue suit jacket, Yicai financial news service reporter Liang Xiangyi sighed and raised a sceptical eyebrow at another journalist’s query to a delegate at a National People’s Congress press event Tuesday.

    • In China, a reporter’s dramatic eye-roll went viral. Then searches of it were censored.

      The reporter’s question was a softball, the sort of long-winded but unchallenging interrogation that we’ve come to expect at the endless news conferences during the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress.

    • Editorial: Government censorship increasing

      A newly released Associated Press analysis shows the federal government censored, withheld or said it couldn’t find records sought by citizens, journalists and others more often last year than at any point in the past decade. The Freedom of Information Act figures cover the actions of 116 departments and agencies during fiscal 2017, which ended Sept. 30.

      The troublesome calculations cover eight months under President Donald Trump, offering the first hints of how his administration complies with the Freedom of Information Act.


      The AP analysis found that government officials turned over everything requested in roughly one of every five FOIA requests, just 20 percent of the cases tracked.

    • Censorship is never the answer, Sadiq

      The crucial question here is: who decides what is and isn’t hate speech? A new law in Germany is forcing online platforms to remove ‘obviously illegal’ hate speech or face a €50million fine. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t just handfuls of extreme Nazi-supporting posts that are being removed — so are tweets from the populist right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland. Sweeping restrictions on hate speech are often used to curtail legitimate (if controversial) speech.

    • EU wants to require platforms to filter uploaded content (including code)

      The EU is considering a copyright proposal that would require code-sharing platforms to monitor all content that users upload for potential copyright infringement (see the EU Commission’s proposed Article 13 of the Copyright Directive). The proposal is aimed at music and videos on streaming platforms, based on a theory of a “value gap” between the profits those platforms make from uploaded works and what copyright holders of some uploaded works receive. However, the way it’s written captures many other types of content, including code.

      We’d like to make sure developers in the EU who understand that automated filtering of code would make software less reliable and more expensive—and can explain this to EU policymakers—participate in the conversation.

    • Unease Over Proposed ‘Censorship’ of Historical YouTube Videos in Sweden

      A campaign against Google and YouTube by major Swedish newspapers, calling for a purge of “hate-promoting” material, including historical Nazi German propaganda films, has been met with criticism and triggered censorship concern.

      A major opinion piece penned by David Baas of Expressen, one of Sweden’s most popular newspapers, and published on Wednesday, regretted that YouTube “contributed to the spread of Holocaust-denying materials and anti-Semitic film material,” urging the media giant to remove some of its content.

    • Soft power — not government censorship — is the key to fighting disinformation and “fake news”

      In many countries over the past few years, the political process — and social cohesion — have been threatened by various forms of disinformation, sometimes misleadingly and inadequately called “fake news.” Politically-motivated and for-profit disinformation is blamed, among other things, for the U.K.’s decision to vote to leave the EU and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

      Disinformation takes many forms and is driven by many factors. Foreign states sometimes try to subvert other countries’ political processes. People publish false and fabricated information masquerading as news for profit. Domestic politicians lie to their own people — and sometimes these lies are amplified by news media, by hyper-partisan activists, or spread far and wide via social media and other platforms.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Prepare to be Creeped Out

      Mozilla Fellow Hang Do Thi Duc joins us to share her Data Selfie art project. It collects the same basic info you provide to Facebook. Sharing this kind of data about yourself isn’t something we’d normally recommend. But, if you want to know what’s happening behind the scenes when you scroll through your Facebook feed, installing Data Selfie is worth considering. Use at your own risk. If you do, you might be surprised by what you see.

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (19/21): Telescreens in our Living Rooms

      In the analog world of our parents, it was taken for completely granted that the government would not be watching us in our own homes. It’s so important an idea, it’s written into the very constitutions of states pretty much all around the world.

      And yet, for our digital children, this rule, this bedrock, this principle is simply… ignored. Just because they their technology is digital, and not the analog technology of our parents.

    • A Smattering of Stars in Argentina’s First “Who Has Your Back?” ISP Report

      It’s Argentina’s turn to take a closer look at the practices of their local Internet Service Providers, and how they treat their customers’ personal data when the government comes knocking.

      Argentina’s ¿Quien Defiende Tus Datos? (Who Defends Your Data?) is a project of Asociación por los Derechos Civiles and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and is part of a region-wide initiative by leading Iberoamerican digital rights groups to turn a spotlight on how the policies of Internet Service Providers either advance or hinder the privacy rights of users.

      The report is based on EFF’s annual Who Has Your Back? report, but adapted to local laws and realities. Last year Brazil’s Internet Lab, Colombia’s Karisma Foundation, Paraguay’s TEDIC, and Chile’s Derechos Digitales published their own 2017 reports, and ETICAS Foundation released a similar study earlier this year, part of a series across Latin America and Spain.

    • A New Backdoor Around the Fourth Amendment: The CLOUD Act

      There’s a new, proposed backdoor to our data, which would bypass our Fourth Amendment protections to communications privacy. It is built into a dangerous bill called the CLOUD Act, which would allow police at home and abroad to seize cross-border data without following the privacy rules where the data is stored.

      This backdoor is an insidious method for accessing our emails, our chat logs, our online videos and photos, and our private moments shared online between one another. This backdoor would deny us meaningful judicial review and the privacy protections embedded in our Constitution.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • ACLU is Suing the Government for Info About TSA Device Searches

      The TSA won’t release information about its warrantless searches of electronic devices carried by US citizens on domestic flights.

    • TSA accused of searching domestic travelers’ devices with no warrant

      The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California has sued the Transportation Security Administration, alleging that the agency has improperly withheld documents and other materials that would shed light on warrantless searches of digital devices at airports prior to purely domestic flights.

    • What the Senate Needs to Know About Gina Haspel

      Haspel is perhaps best known for running a “black site” prison in Thailand, where she oversaw state-sponsored torture at the start of a program designed at the behest of the CIA and approved at the highest levels of the George W. Bush administration. It was at this facility that the agency’s brutal tactics were first tested. One inmate, Abu Zubaydah, was waterboarded 83 times — with cruel methods continuing even after his abusers concluded that he did not have the threat information they sought.

      In addition to waterboarding, for 19 days Zubaydah was repeatedly slammed into walls, kept for hours at a time in painful stress positions, denied sleep, beaten, starved, and locked for hours in coffin-like confinement boxes. These torture methods became a “template” for a program designed to psychologically break other detainees held in a network of secret CIA prisons.

    • The Trump Administration Is Using the Parkland Massacre as an Excuse to Roll Back Civil Rights

      On Monday, the White House announced the creation of a Federal Commission on School Safety, chaired by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, to recommend proposals for school violence prevention. Included in the mandate of DeVos’ commission is a starkly worded objective: “Repeal of the Obama Administration’s ‘Rethink School Discipline’ policies.”

      It’s fair to wonder what this plan is doing on a list of items supposedly responding to school shootings. Prior school discipline history does not indicate that a youth will commit a school shooting. In Parkland, discipline policies did not thwart the district from taking action, and the attacker had been expelled from school. In fact, while most perpetrators of school shootings are white, children of color and students with disabilities are the ones disproportionately subject to school discipline.

    • Torture-Tainted Nominations Recall Failure to Prosecute Bush-Era Abuses

      Haspel, a CIA operative who oversaw the torture of terrorism suspects at a secret prison in Thailand and then helped destroy tapes of the interrogations, and Pompeo, who has made statements in support of torture and mass surveillance, are both expected to be confirmed by the Senate with little fanfare.

      After all, when Pompeo was nominated for his current post of CIA Director his confirmation sailed through the Senate on a vote of 66-32. This, despite what Human Rights Watch’s Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno called “dangerously ambiguous” responses to questions about torture and mass surveillance.

      “Pompeo’s failure to unequivocally disavow torture and mass surveillance, coupled with his record of advocacy for surveillance of Americans and past endorsement of the shuttered CIA torture program, make clear that he should not be running the CIA,” Sanchez Moreno said in January 2017.

      Shortly following Pompeo’s confirmation, his deputy director at the CIA was named as Gina Haspel, who “played a direct role in the CIA’s ‘extraordinary rendition program,’ under which captured militants were handed to foreign governments and held at secret facilities, where they were tortured by agency personnel,” the New York Times reported last year.

    • Police Department With Eight Full-Time Officers Acquired 31 Military Vehicles Thru DoD’s Surplus Program

      The Defense Department’s 1033 program has allowed law enforcement to muddy the water on the distinction between police force and military force. Given the right reasoning (most commonly cited: Wars on Terror/Drugs), police departments are allowed to pick up surplus military gear, often for free (utilizing DHS grants) and start pretending they’re an occupying force, rather than public servants.

      This came to a head following protests in Ferguson, Missouri, where viewers around the world were treated to the sight of local law enforcement rolling up on residents in mine-resistant vehicles while clad in gear that made officers look far more like soldiers than cops. This prompted a rollback of the 1033 program by Obama, limiting the sort of gear police departments could obtain to more innocuous surplus, like computers and furniture.

    • What Happened at the Thailand ‘Black Site’ Run By Trump’s CIA Pick

      As soon as Gina Haspel got the nomination to become CIA director, America’s debate over the use of torture came roaring back. The country has intermittently reckoned with the legacy of the Bush-era programs that sanctioned the disappearance and torture of terrorism suspects—recently, for instance, when then-candidate Trump declared in 2016 that “torture works” and that he wanted to bring back outlawed techniques like waterboarding and “much worse.” And though the CIA stopped using what it called “enhanced interrogation” methods about a decade ago, Haspel was among those who oversaw their use after 9/11.

    • ‘The time for reconciliation is over’: South Africa votes to confiscate white-owned land without compensation

      Mr Malema has been leading calls for land confiscation, forcing the ANC to follow suit out of fear of losing the support of poorer black voters. In 2016, he told supporters he was “not calling for the slaughter of white people‚ at least for now”.

      Civil rights groups have accused the EFF and ANC of inciting an ongoing spate of attacks on white farmers characterised by extreme brutality, rape and torture — last year, more than 70 people were killed in more than 340 such attacks.

      Ernst Roets, deputy chief executive of civil rights group Afriforum, said the parliamentary motion was a violation of the 1994 agreement in which the ANC promised minority interests would be protected post-apartheid.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Verizon Forced To Briefly Give A Damn About Its Neglected Broadband Networks

      Several years back Verizon paused all serious residential fiber deployment to shift its focus to slinging video ads at Millennials, an effort that isn’t going all that well. While Verizon was busy attempting to pivot from stodgy protectionist telecom monopoly to sexy new media brand, one of its core legacy businesses (fixed line broadband) was simply allowed to wither and die on the vine. As such, the company has spent the last few years bombarded with complaints up and down the east coast about how it neglected repairs and upgrades across a massive swath of its telecom empire.

      One one hand, Verizon’s disinterest in residential broadband has resulted in a growing cable broadband monopoly as frustrated users flee to their only option for current-generation speeds. That in turn results in less competitive pressure than ever, resulting in higher prices, worse service, and the slow but steady deployment of arbitrary and punitive usage caps across the board. Meanwhile, customers on aging DSL lines who stick with Verizon face repair delays and higher prices as Verizon literally tries to drive away customers it simply no longer has a genuine interest in serving.

    • Ombudsman greenlights ACMA proposed rules for telecoms consumer protection

      Ahead of the imposition of new telecommunications consumer protection rules for NBN migration, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has revealed that residential consumers and small businesses made 27,195 complaints about telecoms services over the 12 months of the last financial year.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Spanish Supreme Court puts an end to a “sui generis” case concerning database “sui generis” right

      In 2010, Infonis (a Spanish company) sued IMS Health claiming that the latter had infringed its database rights. Basically, Infonis claimed that ZBSales, its pharmaceutical marketing database, had been copied by IMS Health and resulted in the creation of a competing and suspiciously similar database (Sanibricks),

    • Trademarks
      • SIPO to take over trademark duties in major consolidation of IP authority in China – agency will also cover antitrust

        China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) will be combined with the country’s trademark office as part of a massive bureaucratic overhaul across the whole of Chinese government. The re-organised IP office will be part of a new agency which will consolidate IP, antitrust and various other regulatory powers. The broad strokes of the changes are laid out in a top national reform plan that was announced at the fourth plenary session of the first session of the Thirteenth National People’s Congress yesterday.

      • Ravinia Festival Blocks Brewpub From Opening Over Trademark Claim

        A demand for royalties from the Ravinia Festival halted preparations to open a brewpub in Highland Park’s Ravinia district in the coming months. The outdoor music festival sent a letter to the Ravinia Brewing Company two weeks ago demanding licensing payments and royalties for the brewery’s use of the neighborhood’s name, according to the Ravinia Neighbors Association, a local community organization.

        Ravinia has been the name of the area since 1873. It was annexed into Highland Park in 1899. The Ravinia Festival, the oldest outdoor music festival in North America, was founded in 1904.

      • Ravinia Festival Bullies Startup Brewery, Leading The Brewery To Shut Down Plans For Opening

        I’ve had the opportunity to write about many trademark disputes in these pages, but it’s been rare for any of them to hit very close to home. That changed this week when we learned that Ravinia Festival in the northern Chicago suburbs, at which I have seen many a concert, has decided to bully a startup brewery over its use of the word “Ravinia” in its name.

      • Brands are bulls**t

        Nobody cares.

        Harsh, but true. None of your users care about your brand. They care about what your product or service lets them do.

    • Copyrights
      • Cloudflare’s Cache Can ‘Substantially Assist’ Copyright Infringers, Court Rules

        Cloudflare has suffered a setback in the piracy liability case filed against it by adult publisher ALS Scan. A federal court in California ruled that the CDN provider can substantially assist copyright infringements by hosting cached copies of files. Whether Cloudflare did this and if it’s indeed liable, is now a matter for a jury to decide.

      • Dolby Labs Sues Adobe For Copyright Infringement

        For 15 years, Dolby supplied encoding and decoding technologies for use in Adobe products including Audition, After Effects, Lightroom and Premiere Pro. The licensing agreement between the companies allowed Adobe to self-report usage, on the condition that Dolby could carry out an audit. However, after the software company failed to comply in recent years, Dolby has rolled out the lawyers.

PTAB Continues to Increase Capacity Ahead of Oil States; Patent Maximalists Utterly Upset

Thursday 15th of March 2018 05:23:03 PM

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) sees the number of filings up to an almost all-time high and efforts to undermine PTAB are failing pretty badly — a trend which will be further cemented quite soon when the US Supreme Court (quite likely) backs the processes of PTAB

THE subject we’ve been writing a lot about in recent years concerns the (re)assessment of patents in the US. If some given patent is good and was justifiably granted, then PTAB will let it be; the PTAB, however, is typically approached when there’s some questionable patent, especially if that patent starts being used for threats if not actual lawsuits. PTAB helps protect from patent injustices without incurring the costs of a lengthy court battle. And we know who profits from lengthy court battles…

“Recent Patent Trial and Appeal Board developments include filing increasing in February, Managing IP revealing the top PTAB firms, the Board ruling tribal sovereign immunity doesn’t apply in IPRs, and some interesting Federal Circuit opinions,” Michael Loney summarises a new post behind a paywall. So PTAB hits/reaches “highest total since June 2017,” indicating that this year too might be a record year. PTAB breaks new records almost every year. This is something to be celebrated.

The USPTO fixes patent quality over time. It’s already being said (projected) that the number of granted patents will have declined by year’s end (for the first time in a very long time).

“They will probably attack the Justices quite soon (over Oil States).”Seeing the response to the above, we are not surprised. Patent extremists are upset. Even though their attacks on PTAB have slowed down*, they are looking for something to complain about. They will probably attack the Justices quite soon (over Oil States).

Watchtroll is now latching onto a patent scam of Allergan and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe just because it hates PTAB so much. As usual, patent law firms wrongly assume that they ‘own’ the world and attack everyone, including judges, practicing companies, politicians etc. Watchtroll merely repeats something which was noted in Patent Docs days earlier. Patent Docs‘s Kevin Noonan meanwhile loses his mind over the prospect that the patent scam may soon be ruled illegal by US Senate. Here’s what he wrote less than a day ago:

In a development that could moot (once and for all) the controversy over tribal sovereign immunity occasioned by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s ownership of patents relating to Allergan’s Restasis formulation for treating disorders of the eye, a group of Senators including Tom Cotton (R-AK), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and David Perdue (R-GA) introduced a bill to broadly abrogate assertion of tribal sovereign immunity in any patent-related proceeding.


Insofar as Congressional authority over tribal sovereign immunity is “plenary,” United States v. Lara, 541 U.S. 193, 200 (2004) (“the Constitution grants Congress broad general powers to legislate in respect to Indian tribes, powers that we have consistently described as ‘plenary and exclusive’”), and in view of the Senators’ politic framing of the issue both as an abuse and a cause of higher drug prices, only the seeming inability of this Congress to pass anything other than tax “reform” is likely to stop the bill from being enacted into law. Perhaps the Supreme Court will rule IPRs unconstitutional in Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group, or the pharmaceutical industry or Native American tribes can arrange matters to have naysayers be the last group to speak with Mr. Trump before he is called upon to veto the bill. Otherwise it is likely that this particular procedural gambit has run its course.

Notice how they invoke “Trump”; so basically, they not only support an obvious scam but also rely on/appeal to Trump for help. Are they really so desperate that they wish to associate with those things?
* Watchtroll, the main site of patent radicals, is digging really deep (literally thousands of PTAB cases and hundreds of CAFC cases) for anything that can be spun as both being “corrupt” because Oil States is coming and they look for a “scandal”. And later in the same day Watchtroll was saying: “The appeal to the Federal Circuit comes after the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) affirmed the rejection of claims covering a healthcare product for dogs after deciding that the inventor’s incorporation of a suggestion proffered by a veterinarian entitled the vet to joint inventorship.” These two posts about PTAB, both from 2 days ago, were the only such rants in the entire week (so far) — i.e. a lot less than usual. Momentum of opposition to PTAB is mostly lost.

Patent Maximalists Are Still Trying to Create a Patent Bubble in India

Thursday 15th of March 2018 03:31:21 PM

China is their “gold standard” because it grants a lot of patents on just about anything, even algorithms

Summary: Litigation maximalists and patent zealots continue to taunt India, looking for an opportunity to sue over just about anything including abstract ideas because that’s what they derive income from

EARLIER this week we mentioned IAM’s puff piece for Dolby, which strives to encourage patent aggression in India. These companies make little more than patents and profit from “licensing” (otherwise they resort to lawsuits, either directly or indirectly). The EPO has already been tilted into this trap, whereas the USPTO moves further away from it after judges, lawmakers and so on recognised the threat.

“Last year IAM repeatedly shamed and smeared India over its unwillingness to allow software patents.”IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby, is still promoting partners that are patent aggressors ahead/amid their patent lobbying event, facilitated by IAM as usual. Check the list of sponsors; it’s rather revealing. It’s like a litigation powerhouse/cartel’s think tank and IAM gloats about it using phrases like “create maximum IP value” (they also call patent-trolling “monetisation”). They tweet things like this: “difficulty of obtaining business method patents makes protecting IP rights through contractual means all the more important” (remember that India does not allow business method patents and software patents).

Last year IAM repeatedly shamed and smeared India over its unwillingness to allow software patents. We documented plenty of examples. IAM is basically a pressure group and to find out who backs this pressure group check the lists of sponsors. Even the EPO’s PR agency is among them. And lots of patent trolls. They’re not always transparent enough about it, just rather evasive and smug.

“IAM is basically a pressure group and to find out who backs this pressure group check the lists of sponsors.”Yesterday, as usual, IAM wrote about “Chinese patent explosion”. When it looks like a bubble, sounds like a bubble, smells like a bubble etc. then it’s definitely a patent bubble. But IAM fronts for patent trolls, so it’s loving it! Trolling has soared in China. Massive growth. IAM would just call that “NPE” or “monetisation”…

Yesterday (same as above) Watchtroll’s Meredith Addy used bizarre sunscreen comparisons/analogies to direct towards China scaremongering, by which she meant to lobby for patent maximalism and Armageddon (again) in the US. She wrote this:

This of course alludes to the ongoing erosion of patent values domestically, while an increasing number of patents are being sought in other jurisdictions, including in China.

Leave aside for a moment a judgment about the innovation economy in China. What are our priorities? Growing the US economy through a stable and fruitful environment for innovators? Or government micro-management of issues that should be handled in the home?

“Growing the US economy” by giving more jobs to litigators? That is what she meant. Because these people got accustomed to making a living out of making other people’s (technical people) lives miserable. She already revealed where she stands when she wrote a rant a month ago at Watchtroll.

“The question is, what’s more important? People who speak in court (and threaten behind closed doors/in legal letters) or people who actually produce stuff?”Remember that what’s good for patent law firms (or patent troll firms) is often bad for technical firms and vice versa. The question is, what’s more important? People who speak in court (and threaten behind closed doors/in legal letters) or people who actually produce stuff?

EPO Staff Has Just Warned the National Delegates That EPO’s Decline (in Terms of Patent Quality and Staff Welfare) Would Be Beneficial to Patent Trolls

Thursday 15th of March 2018 02:41:04 PM

“And in a clear sign of just how bad the situation has grown internally, the examiner letter even explicitly notes that they are unwilling to make their names public out of fear of attack by management.” –The Register

Summary: The staff of the EPO increasingly recognises the grave dangers of low-quality patents — an issue we’ve written about (also in relation to the EPO) for many years

SEEING what low patent quality caused the US (the USPTO is belatedly correcting this with help from courts, AIA/PTAB etc.), the EPO‘s staff (not management) warns about Battistelli and his legacy — something we have been warning about for many years (even before we covered EPO scandals).

“And ‘producing’ a lot of low-quality patents has the same effect as printing a lot more money as means of combating inflation. That merely devalues everything and exacerbates the problem.”Battistelli’s rush to UPC (passing the task of proper patent assessment from examiners to courts) is no doubt attractive to trolls; they target small businesses who would shell out ‘protection’ money rather than take things into courtrooms. And ‘producing’ a lot of low-quality patents has the same effect as printing a lot more money as means of combating inflation. That merely devalues everything and exacerbates the problem.

Bristows, whose clients include many trolls, is perhaps the only firm still actively lobbying for the UPC. It is hilarious. Germany and Britain both prevent the UPC from ever arriving/happening anywhere in Europe, yet today we have Brian Cordery harping/obsessing over Luxembourg with almost no patents at all.

“Bristows, whose clients include many trolls, is perhaps the only firm still actively lobbying for the UPC.”Several days ago EPO staff took further action ahead of next week’s meeting of the Administrative Council. The letter has embedded in it a few links already shared by SUEPO last week and coverage in The Register from early this morning said this:

An extraordinary letter from nearly 1,000 patent examiners has confirmed what critics of the European Patent Office (EPO) have been saying for some time: patent quality has fallen thanks to a determined push by management to approve more of them.

The letter [PDF] has been sent to the EPO’s Administrative Council (AC) – the only body capable of exerting control over the organization’s runaway management – prior to its meeting later this month.

In it, 924 examiners complain that they are “submitted to constraints that are no longer compatible with fulfilling appropriately our duties within the Search and Examination divisions.”

The letter – put together as a petition – continues: “We are far too often put in front of the dilemma of either working according to the European Patent Convention (EPC) and respecting the Examiner’s Guidelines, or issuing ‘products’ as our hierarchy demands.”

“We feel that timeliness and number of ‘products’ should not be the only criteria to assess the Office and examiners performance. But that attention should be paid to providing a high level of presumption of validity to the patents we grant.”

The clear statement by so many examiners is an extraordinary rebuke to the EPO’s current management, led by the organization’s president Benoit Battistelli, who only last week boasted that they had managed to increase the number of patents approved last year.

The comments are worth seeing as well, for a change. Just skip many comments clarifying that EPO is not part of the EU (actually predates it, too). It’s very common to see this misconception in comments at The Register, especially with Brexiters superimposing their personal agenda. Here’s the first comment:

There is no point in poor quality patents – such are bad for business, unless your business is being a patent troll or a lawyer. Poor quality patents result in increased costs to businesses generally, which is just about the opposite of what the EU wants. The sooner the farce at the EPO is halted and that dickhead currently in charge of it ousted and replaced by someone more interested in getting the job done properly than in mere numbers processed, the better.

On international organisations:

The problem with international organisations is that they’re often seen as opportunities to extract troublesome characters from national organisations, sweetening the deal with promises of prestige and international travel. This “Ark B” approach is unfortunately incompatible with finding “someone more interested in getting the job done”…

EPO is then described as a “deeply broken” international organisation:

Yet more evidence…

…that this is a deeply broken organisation.

Then this:

So it’s a race to the bottom

Except that Europe is at least twenty or thirty years behind the US.

And some – notably Germans – tend to be too honest to stand for it.

Patents “are not there (or, at least, it was never the intention) to provide profit-making opportunities through technological monopolies,” the next comment said.

This is a difficult problem to solve…

I can’t think of a solution that is going to be wholly tenable to both sides, unfortunately.

I mean, on the one side, as a patent examiner, you want plenty of time to the appropriate due-diligence in order that you can be sure you have taken all reasonable precautions when a decision on the application is made.

On the other side, if you are a company that has literally spent millions, maybe billions, developing a technology, you want your patent as quickly as possible so that you can put your product on the market and begin to recoup the costs.

On that note: A note to corporations: We should not lose sight of what patents were originally invented for. They were invented to allow a company/individual an opportunity to recoup development costs. That’s the entire point of a patent. They are not there (or, at least, it was never the intention) to provide profit-making opportunities through technological monopolies. Though of course, it’s inevitable that that would happen.

Apple and your “rounded edges” on mobile phones: I’m looking at you, you total twats.

We’re between a rock and a hard place on patents, it seems.

We have long emphasised that the EPO totally lost sight of the goal of patents. Battistelli thinks of the EPO like an assembly line that he is managing. As if monopolies are “products”. Is this the sort of neo-capitalist approach taught at ENA? What if Battistelli was put in charge of managing a prison?

The EPO is a Mess Under Battistelli and Stakeholders Including Law Firms Will Suffer, Not Just EP Holders

Thursday 15th of March 2018 12:56:36 AM

Low-quality European Patents (EPs) are good for nobody, but they help Battistelli game the numbers while destroying the Office (this includes mass layoffs)

Battistelli sets the Office ablaze months before his departure; Not even Battistelli’s daughter (an ambulance driver) can put out her dad’s fire. Many firings are expected.

Summary: As one last ‘gift’ from Battistelli, appeals are becoming a lot more expensive — the very opposite of what he does to applications, in effect ensuring a sharp increase in wrongly-granted patents

THIS is a rather shocking reversal; the USPTO is improving patent quality, whereas the EPO quickly becomes what the USPTO used to be. We can therefore expect more patent trolls to migrate to Europe (some already migrate to China).

Earlier today NLO released this sponsored IAM piece which for the most part parrots EPO lies/spin; yes, it’s mostly repeating the EPO’s Annual Report and reusing figures from it. We wrote some rebuttals to these:

“From 2016 to 2017 the absolute number of European Patent Office (EPO) oppositions grew,” it said at the start. Grew? It skyrocketed? Because many bogus patents are being granted. This is a Battistelli policy. It’ll backfire really badly in the long run.

“So the EPO yet again makes it harder (more expensive) to oppose its rushed decisions.”Oliver Rosenthal from Haseltine Lake LLP wrote this piece earlier this week. His firm recently highlighted the surging/soaring number of oppositions [1, 2].

Rosenthal too is (re)using EPO charts and propaganda, basically copy-pasting lies from the EPO’s press releases. Are they attempting to just suck up to Battistelli like the worst law firms did whenever they wrote about the UPC, occasionally promoting UPCA scams as well? What is this, legal advice or public relations?

“A granted European patent does not lead to a unitary right,” it said, “but a bundle of independent national patents which are enforceable and revocable in each contracting state where protection is requested and the patent has been validated.”

“Applications become cheaper and stopping erroneous grants is now the ‘privilege’ of the super-rich.”Yes, Team UPC hopes to remove this ‘barrier’ in order to spur more litigation. Dehns (Team UPC) wrote this article earlier this week, noting that: “The appeal fee will increase from €1880 to €2255, except for SMEs.”

So the EPO yet again makes it harder (more expensive) to oppose its rushed decisions. All this while reducing the price of applications in order to artificially inflate numbers (after they decreased). What better proof does one need that Battistelli intentionally sabotages the quality of patents? Applications become cheaper and stopping erroneous grants is now the ‘privilege’ of the super-rich.

The EPO Under Battistelli Has Become Like China Under Xi and CPC

Thursday 15th of March 2018 12:16:57 AM

The reporter in blue scoffs at a heavily-scripted question asked by the reporter in red; China is now (this week) trying to remove this scene from the Internet, just like Bergot tries to remove staff publications from the intranet.

Summary: The EPO is trying very hard to silence not only the union but also staff representatives; it’s evidently worried that the lies told by Team Battistelli will be refuted and morale be affected by reality

THE EPO is connected to a fraud (warning: link), but employees are not allowed to say that, even if it’s in today’s news. Our understanding, based on reliable sources, is that there is also fraud inside the EPO, but nobody is brave enough to leak the evidence.

“Why would scholars ever choose to apply for work at an employer like that? Unless of course the EPO has already corrupted enough media and academia to mislead job applicants or hide the facts?”As we shall show in our next post, things are pretty grim at the EPO, yet nobody inside the EPO is allowed to speak about it. And according to this new report titled EPO staff committee argues against publication review (already cited by SUEPO), the EPO’s staff committee asked the management: “Would you refuse one publication describing the status quo because the prospect of a future reform causes some (in our view justified) unrest?”

The staff committee also said to Team Battistelli: “We feel obliged here to remind you that freedom of communication is part and parcel of freedom of speech.”

Yes. Well…

Team Battistelli really has become this oppressive. It censored us around 2014 and SUEPO too around that time (in various ways). Like Xi and CPC do (to journalists, blogs, social media sites, activists and so on). They threaten people and often retaliate for saying truths, even if it’s merely communicated between one member of staff and another. Here’s a portion from this new article:

The European Patent Office’s (EPO) Central Staff Committee (CSC) has issued a rebuttal to Elodie Bergot, principal director of Human Resources at the office, over a controversial CSC publication which criticised the office for alleged misconduct.

Bergot halted the publication of the CSC’s article, which took aim at recent employment proposals pushed at the office, and asked whether current EPO president, Benoît Battistelli, was attempting to rush through the “harmful reform” before the end of his tenure.

In a letter to CSC chairman Joachim Michels, Bergot suggested that the CSC should “review the content of the proposed publication and delete or modify the parts that are offensive to individuals”.

Responding to Bergot’s request, the CSC said it was “at a loss” over Bergot’s criticisms of anonymous reports allegedly circulated by staff representatives regarding the working group on modernisation of the employment framework, which Bergot argued would “generate suspicion and unjustified quiet”.

The committee asked: “Would you refuse one publication describing the status quo because the prospect of a future reform causes some (in our view justified) unrest?”

Why would scholars ever choose to apply for work at an employer like that? Unless of course the EPO has already corrupted enough media and academia to mislead job applicants or hide the facts?

Term limits have not been removed by the EPO/AC (if any such hard limits existed); but Battistelli already lobbied hard to ensure that an old friend of his becomes the next EPO President. Battistelli may remain President ‘in spirit’ for years to come. Campinos owes him one! Maybe they learned a trick or two in all these meetings with Chinese officials.

Links 14/3/2018: IPFire 2.19 – Core Update 119, Tails 3.6

Wednesday 14th of March 2018 11:17:21 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Airbus ditches Microsoft, flies off to Google

    The “decision that will shape our company” was confirmed by Airbus CEO Tom Enders in a memo to staff – seen by The Register – who said the business is gearing up for the next phase of “digital transformation”.

    “We need technology that actively supports our new ways of working, modern digital tools that allow us to be fully collaborative, to work across our many different team, across border and time zones – to truly be one.”

    With this in mind, “Airbus has decided to take a major transformative step by moving from the Microsoft Office environment to Google Suite,” Enders said.

    “Choosing G-Suite is a strategic choice, a clean break with the past while assuring business continuity. Let’s embark together on this journey towards a truly collaborative enterprise,” he said.

    For anyone living under a rock for years, G-Suite is a line of web-based computing, productivity and collaboration tools that were initially launched under the Google Apps for Your Domain brand in 2006.

  • Kernel Space
    • Intel Open-Sources Sound Firmware, Pushing For More Open Firmware

      Imad Sousou, Intel’s GM of the Open-Source Technology Center, had some interesting remarks to make during his keynote today as part of this week’s Embedded Linux Conference in Portland.

      First up, they have two new open-source project announcements: ACRN and Sound Open Firmware (SOF).

      Sound Open Firmware has us most excited with Intel’s focus now on opening up more of their firmware, beginning with audio. Sound Open Firmware includes an open-source audio DSP firmware and SDK. The SOF stack works on all Intel hardware platforms and can assist in debugging audio/DSP issues.

    • Linux Foundation
      • SDN Trends: The Business Benefits and Emerging SD-WAN Technology [Ed: "This article was sponsored by Alibaba and written by" LF now writing ads for Alibaba, too.]
      • Speak at Automotive Linux Summit & OS Summit Japan — 4 Days Left to Submit a Proposal

        Automotive Linux Summit (ALS) connects the developers, vendors, and users driving innovation in Automotive Linux. Co-located with Open Source Summit Japan, ALS will gather over 1,000 attendees from global companies leading and accelerating the development and adoption of a fully open software stack for the connected vehicle.

      • The Linux Foundation Welcomes Sound Open Firmware Project

        The Linux Foundation announced today that Sound Open Firmware (SOF) has become a Linux Foundation project. With significant engineering and code contributions from Intel® Corporation, SOF includes a digital signal processing (DSP) firmware and an SDK that together provide infrastructure and development tools for developers working on audio or signal processing. Intel and Google support SOF and invite others to join them in advancing the project.

    • Graphics Stack
      • A Primer on Nvidia-Docker — Where Containers Meet GPUs

        GPUs are critical for training deep learning models and neural networks. Though it may not be needed for simple models based on linear regression and logistic regression, complex models designed around convolutional neural networks (CNNs) and recurrent neural networks heavily rely on GPUs. Especially computer vision-related models based on frameworks such as Caffe2 and TensorFlow have a dependency on GPU.

        In supervised machine learning, a set of features and labels are used to train a model. Deep learning algorithms don’t even need explicit features to evolve trained models. They pretty much “learn” from existing datasets designated for training, testing, and evaluation.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • MATE 1.20 review – Are you all right, mate?

        Overall, MATE 1.20 is a nice desktop environment. It has its legacy quirks, especially when it comes to panel management and overall cross-integration between programs. But it can be styled and tamed and used with flair and elegance. However, you do feel that it’s aged in some areas, and that those areas remain neglected. Modern does not mean better, but some aspects of the 2018 computing model are superior to what we had a decade ago. The same way some aspects of MATE (Gnome 2) remain better than the touchesque flat-fest we have today.

        Xfce seems to have weathered these changes more successfully, but then it also had no identity crisis, no betrayal, and it benefits from more overall focus and attention. MATE not only had to fight Gnome 3, it also has Cinnamon to take into account. Those aside, if you do want an old-school, no-nonsense desktop environment, MATE is a good choice. Perhaps not the best one, but it will serve you loyally without any bells and whistles. Just be ready for an odd ghost of the past striking at you now and then.

        Remember, once upon a time, I didn’t like Xfce, like not at all, and look where it’s now. So MATE has survived the rite of passage, and it’s evolving steadily. The next step should be pro looks, tight integration and some acknowledgment of modernity, on a system level, and perhaps it could become the desktop environment that Gnome 3 should have been in the first place. There’s still hope. Keep an eye, and let’s see what happens. I guess that would be all.

      • Linux Mint 18.3 KDE Edition Review – For The Record

        Linux Mint 18.3 KDE Edition Review. Linux Mint and KDE haven’t always been on my list of favorite things. That said, Linux Mint 18.3 KDE Edition really surprised me – there is a lot to like! Great pulseaudio settings, an improved package manager, plus a whole lot more!

    • New Releases
      • IPFire 2.19 – Core Update 119 released

        This is the release announcement for IPFire 2.19 – Core Update 119. It updates the toolchain of the distribution and fixes a number of smaller bug and security issues. Therefore this update is another one of a series of general housekeeping updates to make IPFire better, faster and of course more secure!

      • NuTyX 10.1 available with cards 2.4.0

        The NuTyX team is please to annonce the 10.1 release of NuTyX.

        NuTyX 9.0 comes with kernel lts 4.14.26 (4.9.87 in 32bits), glibc 2.27, gcc 7.3.0, binutils 2.30, python 3.6.4, xorg-server 1.19.6, qt 5.10.1, plasma 5.12.3 (in 64bits) , kf5 5.43.0 (in 64bits), gnome 3.26.1 (in 64bits), mate 1.20.0, xfce4 4.12.3, firefox 58.0.2, etc….

        Six news ISOs are available in 32 bits and 64 bits. Sizes are respectively 296 MB, 613 MB and 1.6G available on the new download page.

        They have been a lot of upstream updates related to security.

      • LibreELEC (Krypton) 8.2.4 MR

        Team LibreELEC celebrates its second birthday (and international Pi-Day) with the release of LibreELEC (Krypton) v8.2.4 which brings minor bug-fixes and new firmware to support the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ hardware announced this morning.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • build service now supports creation of VM disk images

        You can define a disk image size, select a language, set a user and root password, select a Debian distribution and enable backports just by one click. It’s possible to add your public key for access to the root account without a password. This can also be done by just specifying your GitHub account. Several disk formats are supports, like raw (compressed with xz or zstd), qcow2, vdi, vhdx and vmdk. And you can add your own list of packages, you want to have inside this OS. After a few minutes the disk image is created and you will get a download link, including a log the the creation process and a link to the FAI configuration that was used to create your customized image.

      • aput – simple upload script for a flat artifactory Debian repository
      • Derivatives
        • Neptune 5.0 Linux OS Released with KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS, Based on Debian Stretch

          The developers of the Debian-based Neptune GNU/Linux distribution announced the release of the Neptune 5.0 “Refresh” operating system, based on the stable Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” series.

          Powered by the long-term supported Linux 4.14 kernel ported from Debian Stretch’s Backports repository, Neptune 5.0 uses the latest KDE Plasma 5.12 desktop environment along with the KDE Applications 17.12 and KDE Frameworks 5.43.0 software suites. It also promises new ways to run the latest software versions.

        • With this operating system you can have privacy and anonymity

          With the popularity of social media, it would seem as though people are not all that concerned with their privacy. Some like to share updates about pretty much anything they do, and while no one really cares about what anyone else had for lunch, the point is if you want to know what someone is up to, you may just have to look online.

          Just because people aren’t bashful about their lives does not mean they want everything they do online to be recorded, yet with the way browsers and operating systems are set up, there is a record of a lot of what we do. Unless you are a programmer, you may not see much of a way around it.

          But there is a way, actually. An operating system that is designed to start on almost any computer from a DVD or USB drive exists and, best of all, it is free.

        • Tails 3.6 Anonymous OS Released with Linux Kernel 4.15, Latest Tor Updates

          The Tails Project announced today the release and immediate availability of the Tails 3.6 amnesic incognito live system, also known as the Anonymous OS used by ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden to stay hidden online.

          Powered by the latest Linux 4.15 kernel with patches for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, and featuring the latest Tor Browser and Tor client/server implementation, Tails 3.6 is here with up-to-date components like Electrum 3.0.6 and Mozilla Thunderbird 52.6.0, as well as new features and improvements.

        • Univention Corporate Server 4.3: Simpler, Faster, and More User-Friendly Administration

          Univention is proud to present the latest Univention Corporate Server (UCS) release. Version 4.3 of the established Open Source software now allows administrators to customize the portal pages which can be set up in UCS to suit the specific requirements of their organization very simply via the drag and drop feature. In addition, they are also able to make the more than 90 enterprise applications in UCS’ integrated App Center available to users. The users access these applications via the portal pages and, insofar as the respective application permits, only need to log in once thanks to the single sign-on mechanism. Univention has also considerably improved the data import performance. In this way, UCS 4.3 allows smaller companies to administrate heterogeneous IT environments with ease and fulfills the requirements of larger organizations with tens of thousands of users at the same time.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • 18.04 beta is as good a time as any to see which Ubuntu flavour tickles your Budgie, MATE

            The first beta of Ubuntu 18.04 is here. The finished article, due next month, will be a long-term support release and, for those who stick with LTS, the first time many see the new GNOME-based Ubuntu.

            This beta, however, does not include the main GNOME-based release. Instead this is more a community release with most of the Ubuntu flavours participating. This particular test build is slightly more noteworthy than usual since, thanks to the havoc wreaked by Spectre and Meltdown, which limited the use of many distros’ build systems, it is really the first milestone for most of the flavours. It also came a couple of days late, which is unusual for an Ubuntu beta.

            As the Xubuntu developers note: “The ISO Tracker has seen little activity for the last few development cycles. We know we have some excited users already using and testing 18.04. But without testing results being recorded anywhere, we have to assume that nobody is testing the daily images and milestones. And this has major implications for both the 18.04 release and the project as a whole.”

          • Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver Beta 1 Released

            Many of the popular flavours of the famous Ubuntu Linux system such as Kubuntu, Ubuntu Kylin, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu MATE and Xubuntu, have released beta downloads for the upcoming Long-Term Support release of Ubuntu 18.04.

            Typically, the Ubuntu team releases an LTS edition of the OS, every two years, which will carry major security updates and patches, as well as full support, for five years.

          • EzeeLinux Show 18.12 | A BIG THANK YOU, First Look At Ubuntu 18.04
          • LXD weekly status #38
          • Lets Snap The World

            I am a long-time Ubuntu user and community contributor. I love how open-source communities generally work, sure there are hiccups, like companies mandating decisions that aren’t popular amongst the community. The idea of I being able to fix an issue and getting that released to hundreds of thousands of people is just priceless for me.

            For the long time, I have distinguished some issues in Linux on the desktop that I want fixed. Biggest is always having the latest version of the software I use. Think of Android for example, you always get the latest version of the app, directly from the developers with no package maintainer in between. That’s the ideal scenario but for us currently on Linux it may not be possible in all cases because of the fragmentation we have.

  • Devices/Embedded
    • SMARC module features hexa-core i.MX8 QuadMax

      iWave unveiled a rugged, wireless enabled SMARC module with 4GB LPDDR4 and dual GbE controllers that runs Linux or Android on NXP’s i.MX8 QuadMax SoC with 2x Cortex-A72, 4x -A53, 2x -M4F, and 2x GPU cores.

      iWave has posted specs for an 82 x 50mm, industrial temperature “iW-RainboW-G27M” SMARC 2.0 module that builds on NXP’s i.MX8 QuadMax system-on-chip. The i.MX8 QuadMax was announced in Oct. 2016 as the higher end model of an automotive focused i.MX8 Quad family.

    • Arduino Create expands to run Arduino on BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi

      Arduino announced an expansion of its Arduino Create development platform for deploying Arduino sketches on Linux systems to support Arm boards like the the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone in addition to Intel boards like the UP Squared.

      In November, Arduino announced a version of its Arduino Create toolkit that supports Intel-based systems running Linux, with specific support for a new UP Squared IoT Grove Development Kit. Today at the Embedded Linux Conference in Portland, where Arduino co-founder and CTO Massimo Banzi is a keynote speaker, Arduino announced an expansion of Arduino Create to support Arm boards. The platform provides optimized support for the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone boards.

    • i.MX8M SBC on pre-order for $165

      Boundary Devices has launched a $165 “Nitrogen8M” SBC that runs Linux or Android on a quad-core i.MX8M with GbE, WiFi, BT, HDMI 2.0, mini-PCIe, MIPI-DSI and -CSI, 4x USB 3.0, and optional -40 to 85°C support.

      Boundary Devices has updated its Nitrogen line of NXP i.MX based SBCs with a Nitrogen8M model that runs Android, Yocto, Ubuntu, Buildroot, or Debian based Linux on NXP’s i.MX8M. Available on pre-order starting at $165 with 2GB RAM, the SBC will ship this Spring.

    • Raspberry Pi 3 gets rev’d to B+ with 1.4GHz, WiFi-ac, and GbE with PoE

      The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ has gone on sale for $35, boosting the Model B’s quad -A53 SoC to 1.4GHz, speeding the WiFi to precertified, dual-band 802.11ac, and adding USB-based GbE with PoE support.

      Two years after the arrival of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, which brought wireless and 64-bit ARMv8 computing to what was already the most popular Linux hacking platform of all time, Raspberry Pi Trading and the Raspberry Pi Foundation have delivered a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ with a faster processor, WiFi, and Ethernet.

    • Meet the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

      Raspberry Pi just celebrated its sixth birthday—that’s six years since the launch of the original Raspberry Pi. Since then, it has released various new models, including the Pi 2, Pi 3, and Pi Zero. So far, 9 million Raspberry Pi 3s have been sold—and over 18 million Pis in total—and those numbers are likely to grow following today’s announcement of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+.

    • Raspberry Pi 3B+ Launches With Faster CPU, Dual-Band 802.11ac, Faster Ethernet
    • Raspberry Pi OS Raspbian Updated with Support for the New Raspberry Pi 3 B+ SBC

      The Raspberry Pi Foundation released today a new build of its Debian-based Raspbian operating system for Raspberry Pi single-board computer with dozens of improvements, updated components, and other enhancements.

      Probably the most important feature of the new Raspbian release, which is powered by the Linux 4.9.80 LTS kernel, is support for the recently launched Raspberry Pi 3 B+ single-board computer that Raspberry Pi Foundation unveiled this morning in celebration of the Pi Day.

      However, Wi-Fi is disabled by default for the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ model due to the wireless regulatory domain not being set. To set the domain, you need to set the ‘country=’ attribute in the /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf file to a country code closer to ISO 3166 alpha2.

    • Happy Pi Day: Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ Support Comes to the LibreELEC Embedded OS

      After Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Rasbian, LibreELEC is the second Linux-based operating system to receive support for the recently launched Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ single-board computer announced today.

      In celebration of the project’s second anniversary, as well as of the international Pi Day, the team announced today the release and immediate availability for download of the fourth maintenance update to the LibreELEC 8.2 “Krypton” operating system series.

    • New Raspberry Pi 3 Model Has Faster CPU, Better Networking

      Delicious news for all you makers out there: a brand new Raspberry Pi is available to buy.

      The new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is an improved version of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B.

      It features a faster ARM A53 processor and improved networking capabilities through the addition of Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.2 LS BLE and dual band Wi-Fi.

      While the addition of Gigabit ethernet is a big bonus (yay) the “downside” is that it’s still shared over USB 2.0 (boo). If you connect a data-intensive USB peripheral like an external hard drive the bandwidth available may be reduced accordingly depending on what you’re doing.

    • New Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ now on-sale, more power and faster networking
    • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ Launched: Offers More Power, Faster Networking
    • Raspberry PI 3 model B+ Released: Complete specs and pricing
    • Arduino Create Platform Can Now Program Linux Internet of Things Devices

      The official Arduino development team has today revealed at the Embedded Linux Conference 2018 expansion of a number of architectures supported by its Arduino Create platform for the development of Internet of Things applications. The latest release allows Arduino Create users can manage and program a wide range of popular Linux single-board computers such as the awesome Raspberry Pi which has today received a new addition to its range in the form of the Raspberry Pi 3+, AAEON UP² and BeagleBone as if they were regular Arduino development boards.

    • An introduction to RISC-V

      LWN has covered the open RISC-V (“risk five”) processor architecture before, most recently in this article. As the ecosystem and tools around RISC-V have started coming together, a more detailed look is in order. In a series of two articles, I will look at what RISC-V is and follow up with an article on how we can now port Linux distributions to run on it.

      The words “Free and Open RISC Instruction Set Architecture” are emblazoned across the web site of the RISC-V Foundation along with the logos of some possibly surprising companies: Google, hard disk manufacturer Western Digital, and notable ARM licensees Samsung and NVIDIA. An instruction set architecture (ISA) is a specification for the instructions or machine code that you feed to a processor and how you encode those instructions into a binary form, along with many other precise details about how a family of processors works. Modern ISAs are huge and complex specifications. Perhaps the most famous ISA is Intel’s x86 — that specification runs to ten volumes.

      More importantly, ISAs are covered by aggressive copyright, patent, and trademark rules. Want to independently implement an x86-compatible processor? Almost certainly you simply cannot do that without making arrangements with Intel — something the company rarely does. Want to create your own ARM processor? You will need to pay licensing fees to Arm Holdings up front and again for every core you ship.

      In contrast, open ISAs, of which RISC-V is only one of the newest, have permissive licenses. RISC-V’s specifications, covering user-space instructions and the privileged instructions are licensed under a Creative Commons license (CC BY 4.0). Furthermore, researchers have determined that all RISC-V instructions have prior art and are now patent-free. (Note this is different from saying that implementations will be open or patent-free — almost certainly the highest end chips will be closed and implementations patented). There are also several “cores” — code that compiles to Verilog and can be programmed into an FPGA or (with a great deal more effort) made into a custom chip — licensed under the three-clause BSD.

    • Android
Free Software/Open Source
  • Adelaide Uni open sources venerable Ludwig editor

    The University of Adelaide will release the source code of the Ludwig editor, originally developed for use on VAX minicomputers.

    Ludwig’ source code will be published on GitHub under the MIT Open Source Licence, the university announced today.

    DEC’s first VAX system, the VAX-11/78, was unveiled in 1977. Adelaide Uni purchased three of the minicomputers in 1979.

    The computers supported interaction through video terminals and replaced punch-card-driven systems that only offered batch processing and printed output,

  • 4 reasons enterprise open source works best

    The vast and growing network of enterprise open source solutions can play a key role in modernizing government’s IT infrastructures to be fast, functional and future-oriented. Sourcing technology from the top performers in a community of contributors can liberate IT managers from the bureaucratic ceilings established through proprietary contracts.

    With a commitment to the open software solutions community, the public sector can save money while building the IT infrastructures of today and tomorrow.

  • New Raspberry Pi 3B+, Infection Monkey, Samba Password Bug, Facebook’s Profilo and More

    Facebook open-sourced Profilo yesterday, “a scalable, mobile-first performance tracing library for Android”. Profilo eases the mobile testing challenges faced by app developers trying to ensure their apps perform across various operating systems, bandwidths and other variables, and allows developers to “understand app performance in the wild”.

  • Open Source Data Management for All

    We found that several of our readers had heard of iRODS and knew it was associated with a scientific computing base, but few understood what the technology was and were not aware that there was a consortium. To dispel any confusion, we spoke with Jason Coposky, executive director of the iRODS Consortium about both the technology itself and the group’s role in making data management and storage easier.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Making WebAssembly better for Rust & for all languages

        One big 2018 goal for the Rust community is to become a web language. By targeting WebAssembly, Rust can run on the web just like JavaScript. But what does this mean? Does it mean that Rust is trying to replace JavaScript?

        The answer to that question is no. We don’t expect Rust WebAssembly apps to be written completely in Rust. In fact, we expect the bulk of application code will still be JS, even in most Rust WebAssembly applications.

        This is because JS is a good choice for most things. It’s quick and easy to get up and running with JavaScript. On top of that, there’s a vibrant ecosystem full of JavaScript developers who have created incredibly innovative approaches to different problems on the web.

      • March Add(on)ness: Video Download Helper (1) Vs Cookie AD (4)

        Video DownloadHelper is the easy way to download and convert Web videos from hundreds of YouTube-like sites.

        Video DownloadHelper is a strong contender, giving users the ability to snag videos from virtually any site. The add-on automatically finds videos on a webpage. What users do with those videos is nobody’s business and anyone’s guess.

        Fun Fact: 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and almost 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every single day. If you tried to download all of them, your computer would explode.

      • This Week In Rust: This Week in Rust 225
      • The new Firefox lets you stop websites from asking to send you notifications

        The Mozilla Foundation released a new version of Firefox this week—release number 59. It treads further down the performance improvement path that November’s Quantum release began, but its most interesting feature is a quality-of-life one: Firefox 59 users can prevent some websites from popping up requests to send notifications to your device or from requesting to use your camera unexpectedly.

      • Things Gateway, Part 7 – IKEA TRÅDFRI

        In this series of postings, I’ve been setting up, configuring, and playing with IoT devices through the experimental Things Gateway from Mozilla. I’ve covered the generic Zigbee and Z-Wave devices, the Philips Hue devices, and the TP-Link WiFi devices. Today, I add IKEA TRÅDFRI to this circus.

        Of course, in this series, I’ve also been doing a bit of editorializing. I was critical of the TP-Link devices because their security model requires the end user to just trust them. I’m critical of the IKEA TRÅDFRI for a physical safety reason. What does the word TRÅDFRI mean? I’m assuming it is a Swedish word that means “severe blood loss from slashed wrists” because that is what is likely to happen when opening the package. The clamshell plastic that entombs their products is difficult to open with anything short of a chainsaw. My kitchen scissors wouldn’t do the job and I had to resort to garden pruning shears and that left dangerously sharp pieces that drew blood. Be careful.

      • Firefox Performance Update #3

        Hi! I’ve got another slew of Firefox performance work to report today.

        Special thanks to the folks who submitted things through this form to let me know about performance work that’s taken place recently! If you’ve seen something fixed lately that’ll likely have a positive impact on Firefox performance, let me know about it!

      • Mozilla sends more snooping Web APIs to smartphone Siberia

        irefox has revealed it will bin more privacy-invasive APIs, deprecating access to the light sensor, device proximity sensor, and user proximity detection.

        The APIs in question have all been criticised for their invasive potential. For example, devicelight offered potential vectors for snooping on user browsing habits or even passwords.

        The other two APIs are deviceproximity and userproximity. As of Firefox 62, these will become user-controlled flags (and for users at the bleeding edge, the deprecation is implemented in the nightly build).

      • Firefox 59 for Android Adds HLS Playback Support, Improves Private Browsing Mode

        Mozilla released today the Firefox 59 web browser for Google’s Android mobile operating system bringing support for websites that use the HTTP Live Streaming protocol for video playback, and improved Private Browsing mode, and more.

  • BSD
    • LLVM Clang 6.0 vs. 5.0 Compiler Performance On Intel/AMD Linux

      Since last week’s big release of LLVM 6.0 along with Clang 6.0, I have been carrying out some fresh compiler benchmarks of the previous Clang 5.0 to this new stable release that switches to C++14 by default, among many other changes to LLVM itself and this C/C++ compiler front-end.

      For your compiler benchmark viewing pleasure today are results of LLVM Clang 5.0 vs. 6.0 on four distinctly different systems: two Intel, two AMD, for getting a glimpse at how the Clang 6.0 compiler performance is looking at this time. For those wondering how Clang 6.0 is stacking up compared to the soon-to-be-released GCC 8.1 compiler, those benchmarks will come when GCC 8.1 is officially available.

    • GRUB Now Supports Multiple Early Initrd Images

      GNU’s GRUB bootloader has picked up another feature ahead of the GRUB 2.04 release expected later this year.

      It’s been almost one year since the GRUB 2.02 release while GRUB 2.04 continues being developed with new features and the latest addition landed just minutes ago.

      This new addition to the GRUB 2.04 code-base is adding support for multiple, shared, early initrd images. These multiple early initrd images will be loaded prior to the proper initrd image — with support for the Linux distribution specifying early initrd images and a separate hook for the user to specify any early images too.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • What legal remedies exist for breach of GPL software?

      Last April, a federal court in California handed down a decision in Artifex Software, Inc. v. Hancom, Inc., 2017 WL 1477373 (N.D. Cal. 2017), adding a new perspective to the forms of remedies available for breach of the General Public License (GPL). Sadly, this case reignited the decades-old license/contract debate due to some misinterpretations under which the court ruled the GPL to be a contract. Before looking at the remedy developments, it’s worth reviewing why the license debate even exists.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Global Automotive Navigation Systems Market 2018-2022 – Increased Support for Open Source and Standard Platforms
    • Five Questions with Orta Therox

      Everyone in the Artsy Engineering team has different relationships to Open Source. Some people just work in the open — with little thought applied to the larger community aspects of it — because it’s how we work. Others embrace the ability to showcase their work to help provide a more holistic understanding of the process.

      Not all projects we work on are open source, so not all engineers work in the open. We made the conscious choice to keep some projects private: it’s Open Source by Default, not Open Source by Mandate.

    • SpaceChain, Arch Aim to Archive Human Knowledge in Space

      SpaceChain on Monday announced that it has entered a partnership with the Arch Mission Foundation to use open source technology to launch an ambitious project involving the storage of large data sets in spacecraft and on other planets.

      Arch Mission will load large quantities of data onto SpaceChain’s satellite vehicles with the eventual aim of storing data on other planets.

      “The goal of archiving and preserving knowledge of future generations will advance archiving science and human knowledge by itself,” SpaceChain cofounder Zheng Zuo said. “The ambitious goal of disseminating this knowledge throughout the solar system is finally achievable today, thanks to greatly reduced launch costs through new space launch providers.”


      The partnership would allow SpaceChain’s long-term goal of storing data archives throughout the solar system come to fruition.

    • Open Access/Content
      • Two UMD courses will have free online textbook access in the fall

        BSCI201 and 202, introductory courses in human anatomy and physiology, will use a free, open-source textbook from OpenStax beginning in the fall, said biology professor Sara Lombardi.

        To make the switch, university lecturers for the courses received a $1,500 grant from the Maryland Open Source Textbook initiative, which offers grants to encourage faculty to utilize open educational resources. The grants were announced March 6.

        The initiative — which was established in 2013 as part of the system’s William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation — saved students more than $500,000 through these grants from spring 2014 to spring 2017, according to the initiative’s spring 2018 update.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • OpenFlow is the Past as ONF Announces Stratum Project to Redefine SDN

      On March 12, the ONF announced the formation of the Stratum project with the audacious goal to redefine the SDN landscape in a fundamental way. Code for the Stratum project is initially coming from Google, from technology it uses for SDN within its own environments.

      Among the vendors that are backing the ONF Stratum project are Google, Tencent, China Unicom, NTT, Turk Telekom, Big Switch Networks, VMware, Broadcom, Cavium, Mellanox and Xilinx.

  • IBM thinks Notes and Domino can rise again

    Since announcing that HCL would take over development of IBM’s collaborationware, the two companies have conducted a long listening tour that saw them stage 22 meatspace meetings and four online forums. The results of that consultation, which reached 2,000 people, plus lab work already conducted by IBM and HCL, were recently presented to the faithful.

  • Science
    • Sir John Sulston, Human Genome Project Leader, Remembered For Words On IP And Health R&D

      Nobel Prize winner Sir John Sulston passed away on 6 March at the age of 75, and was widely remembered in the press and scientific circles, celebrating his research, his wisdom, and his leadership of the landmark Human Genome Project. Intellectual Property Watch recalls his visionary warning and advice a decade ago about the intellectual property system, investment, and science that is still valuable today.

    • Media Ignore Critical Link Between Natural Disasters and Climate Change

      Since the 2016 presidential election, the establishment media’s coverage of natural disasters has failed to connect the disasters with the scientific issue of climate change. Lisa Hymas’ December 2017 Guardian article exposed the media’s lack of climate change coverage. Although much climate change research reveals a link between extreme weather and climate change, “only 42% of Americans believe that climate change will pose a serious threat to them during their lifetimes,” Hymas reported. Although recent natural disasters highlight the effects of climate change this subject has received little attention in establishment news coverage.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • To Make Healthcare More Affordable, Fight Drug Patent Abuse with a Fury

      Drug prices tend to drop precipitously the moment the drug market opens to generic and biosimilar competition—typically by up to 80%. Drug patents are the linchpin of when that moment occurs.

      This is because since the 1980s, the timing of market entry for generic and biosimilar drugs has essentially depended on judicial determinations of patent infringement, validity, and enforceability, pursuant to the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act (better known as the “Hatch-Waxman Act”), and more recently, the Biologic Price Competition and Innovation Act (“BPCIA”).

      If we are really going to have an informed discussion about drug pricing, therefore, we had better do it by talking about drug patents—and how to police them, effectively.

    • Measuring the Toll of the Opioid Epidemic Is Tougher Than it Seems

      As the opioid epidemic rages across the country, data tracking its evolution often lags far behind.

      A few months ago, I set out to compile data on opioid prescribing, overdoses and deaths, as well as treatment options.

      It was more difficult than I expected: Much of the data was out of date, some was hard to find and some data contradicted other data, making conclusions difficult. I put the datasets I could find into a tipsheet, which I shared last week at the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting conference in Chicago.

      When Bruce Greenstein took over as chief technology officer of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in mid-2017, he, too, was taken aback by the hurdles to finding complete, current information — particularly on overdose deaths.

  • Security
    • An important Samba 4 security release

      Anybody running Samba 4 servers probably wants to take a look at this alert and upgrade their systems.

    • Samba 4.7.6, 4.6.14 and 4.5.16 Security Releases Available for Download
    • Samba 4 Updates Issued For Correcting Two Security Vulnerabilities, One Nasty
    • Samba critical flaws: Patch now but older open instances have ‘far worse issues’
    • AMD Secure Processor & Ryzen Chipsets Reportedly Vulnerable To Exploit

      Just two months after the big Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities were disclosed, Israeli security researchers have published 13 security vulnerabilities claiming to affect AMD Ryzen and EPYC product lines.

      These vulnerabilities are being called “AMDFLAWS” and the vulnerabilities have names like MASTERKEY, RYZENFALL, FALLOUT, CHIMERA, and the PSP PRIVILEGE escalation amounting to 13 vulnerabilities in total.

    • Numerous vulnerabilities in AMD processors

      A company called CTS has disclosed a long series of vulnerabilities in AMD processors. “The chipset is a central component on Ryzen and Ryzen Pro workstations: it links the processor with hardware devices such as WiFi and network cards, making it an ideal target for malicious actors. The Ryzen chipset is currently being shipped with exploitable backdoors that could let attackers inject malicious code into the chip, providing them with a safe haven to operate from.” See the associated white paper for more details.

    • Israeli firm dumps AMD flaws with 24 hours notice

      Security researchers from a previously unknown Israeli company, CTS Labs, have disclosed 13 flaws in AMD processors. All can be taken advantage of only by an attacker who has already gained admin privileges within the system in question.

    • “Backdoor” Found In AMD CPUs, Researchers Discover 13 Critical Vulnerabilities In RYZEN And EPYC
    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #150
    • ACME v2 and Wildcard Certificate Support is Live

      We’re pleased to announce that ACMEv2 and wildcard certificate support is live! With today’s new features we’re continuing to break down barriers for HTTPS adoption across the Web by making it even easier for every website to get and manage certificates.

      ACMEv2 is an updated version of our ACME protocol which has gone through the IETF standards process, taking into account feedback from industry experts and other organizations that might want to use the ACME protocol for certificate issuance and management some day.

      Wildcard certificates allow you to secure all subdomains of a domain with a single certificate. Wildcard certificates can make certificate management easier in some cases, and we want to address those cases in order to help get the Web to 100% HTTPS. We still recommend non-wildcard certificates for most use cases.

    • An overview of online ad fraud

      I have researched various aspects of the online advertisement industry for a while, and one of the fascinating topics that I have come across which I didn’t know too much about before is ad fraud. You may have heard that this is a huge problem as this topic hits the news often, and after learning more about it, I think of it as one of the major threats to the health of the Web, so it’s important for us to be more familiar with the problem.

      People have done a lot of research on the topic but most of the material uses the jargon of the ad industry so they may be inaccessible to those who aren’t familiar with it (I’m learning my way through it myself!) and also you’d need to study a lot to put a broad picture of what’s wrong together, so I decided to summarize what I have learned so far, expressed in simple terms avoiding jargon, in the hopes that it’s helpful. Needless to say, none of this should be taken as official Mozilla policy, but rather this is a hopefully objective summary plus some of my opinions after doing this research at the end.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Mass Killing of Civilians by UN-Backed National Police of Haiti

      On the morning of November 13, 2017, a joint anti-gang operation between the National Police of Haiti (PHN), who were trained under occupation by UN and US officials, and the newly-formed United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) ended in the mass killing of at least nine innocent civilians at Maranatha College in Port-au-Prince. Some reports indicate up to 14 civilians and two police officers were killed.

      The United Nations issued a statement days later, condemning the violence and calling for a prompt investigation. However, the statement did not publicly acknowledge the UN’s own role in the operation, and distanced the organization from the civilian casualties. As Jake Johnston of the Intercept reported, it was not until late December that a UN spokesperson confirmed that the MINUJUSTH, the UN police, had helped to plan the raid.

      UN spokesperson Sophie Boutaud de la Combe wrote in an email to the Intercept that the UN had conducted an internal inquiry following the raid which absolved the UN. The inquiry found that UN police did not enter Maranatha College where the alleged killings took place, nor did UN police fire their weapons. Instead, according to the inquiry, UN police only “secured the perimeter” of the school. The post-operation “unilateral initiative” of some PHN members was, according to the UN inquiry, without UN authorization.

    • Ex-GCHQ boss: All the ways to go after Russia. Why pick cyberwar?

      Hannigan damped down talk in the UK media that cyber attacks against Russia might form part of the response to poisoning of Russian-born double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the medieval cathedral city of Salisbury in southern England last week.

      He cited UK government statements to explain this was either a state-run operation or that Russia had lost control of a chemical weapons agent. This follows Russia’s highly contentious annexation of Crimea back in 2014.

    • Assange: UK Foreign Office Gears Up for Propaganda War Against Russia

      Following allegations by UK authorities that Russia was responsible for the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in the British city of Salisbury, the UK Foreign Office is preparing a smear campaign against the country.

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday took to Twitter to comment on the UK Foreign Office’s video about Russia, saying it is waging a “propaganda” war against Moscow.

      The UK Foreign Office released a video with a list of the world events in which Russia in their opinion is engaged. In this video, the Foreign Office says that Russia is relevant to the Litvinenko case, to Georgia’s sovereignty, Crimea’s reunification, the cyber-attack on Germany’s parliament, interfering in Montenegro elections, as well as airspace violations.

  • Finance
    • International Finance Corporation, a Branch of World Bank, on Trial

      Farmers in Honduras are suing a branch of the World Bank for attacks and killings that the corporation has allegedly helped fund since the early 1990s. These violent acts targeted members and supporters of the local farming community in the Bajo Aguán valley region of Honduras, as reported by Claire Provost for the Guardian in March 2017.

      As the Guardian reported, according to a 132-page legal complaint filed by the plaintiffs, the farmers are seeking compensation for the role that the IMF branch known as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) played in the alleged “murder, torture, assault, battery, trespass, unjust enrichment and other acts of aggression” that resulted from the IFC’s support of the agribusiness corporation Dinant, the primary executor of the violence.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Help Us Cure Online Publishing of Its Addiction to Personal Data

      A perfect example of this non-thinking is a recent Business Insider piece that says “Europe’s new privacy laws are going to make the web virtually unsurfable” because the GDPR and ePrivacy (the next legal shoe to drop in the EU) “will require tech companies to get consent from any user for any information they gather on you and for every cookie they drop, each time they use them”, thus turning the web “into an endless mass of click-to-consent forms”.

      Speaking of endless, the same piece says, “News sites—like Business Insider—typically allow a dozen or more cookies to be ‘dropped’ into the web browser of any user who visits.” That means a future visitor to Business Insider will need to click “agree” before each of those dozen or more cookies get injected into the visitor’s browser.

    • Appellate Court Issues Encouraging Border Search Opinion

      EFF filed an amicus brief last year in the case, arguing that the Supreme Court’s decision in Riley v. California (2014) supports the conclusion that border agents need a probable cause warrant before searching electronic devices because of the unprecedented and significant privacy interests travelers have in their digital data. In Riley, the Supreme Court followed similar reasoning and held that police must obtain a warrant to search the cell phone of an arrestee.

      In U.S. v. Molina-Isidoro, although the Fifth Circuit declined to decide whether the Fourth Amendment requires border agents to get a warrant before searching travelers’ electronic devices, one judge invoked prior case law that could help us establish this privacy protection.

      Ms. Molina-Isidoro attempted to enter the country at the port of entry at El Paso, TX. An x-ray of her suitcase led border agents to find methamphetamine. They then manually searched her cell phone and looked at her Uber and WhatsApp applications. The government sought to use her correspondence in WhatsApp in her prosecution, so she moved to suppress this evidence, arguing that it was obtained in violation of the Constitution because the border agents didn’t have a warrant.

      Unfortunately for Molina-Isidoro, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the WhatsApp messages may be used in her prosecution. But the court avoided the main constitutional question: whether the Fourth Amendment requires a warrant to search an electronic device at the border. Instead, the court held that the border agents acted in “good faith”—an independent basis to deny Molina-Isidoro’s motion to suppress, even if the agents had violated the Fourth Amendment.

    • The Cloud Act Is a Dangerous Piece of Legislation

      The under-the-radar bill threatens the civil liberties and human rights of global activists and US citizens alike.

      Despite its fluffy sounding name, the recently introduced CLOUD Act is far from harmless. It threatens activists abroad, individuals here in the U.S., and would empower Attorney General Sessions in new disturbing ways. And, now, some members of Congress may be working behind the scenes to sneak it into a gargantuan spending bill that Congress will shortly consider.

      This is why the ACLU and over 20 other privacy and human rights organizations have joined together to oppose the bill. Make no mistake, the CLOUD Act represents a dramatic change in our law, and its effects will be felt across the globe.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • This Mural Quotes Trump’s ‘Access Hollywood’ Tape, and Now the Owner Is Facing Jail Time

      Forcing people to get government approval for artistic expression is a violation of the First Amendment.

      Last fall, Neal Morris, a property owner in New Orleans, commissioned a mural on his warehouse that depicted President Trump’s comments from the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape. The mural displayed Trump’s comments verbatim but replaced some of the words with cartoon pictograms.

      Morris expected that the mural, installed on his own property by a local street artist, might stir controversy. But what he didn’t expect was a threatening letter from the city’s Department of Safety and Permits demanding that he take it down or face jail time. The letter accused Morris of a zoning violation and warned that failure to comply would yield “a maximum fine or jail time for each and every day the violation continues plus court costs.”

      That’s right. A resident of an American city could face jail time for a mural that depicts comments the president of the United States actually said — on tape. All this because Morris failed to navigate a confusing bureaucratic process requiring artists and their patrons to get government approval and a permit before installing a mural, even on their own property.

    • Inadequate Coverage is Costly: Deafening Silence on Puerto Rican Crisis

      How the US responds to natural disasters is increasingly dependent on what we see in the news. In times of disaster, fair and thorough coverage is necessary to support recovery. According to Gabriela Thorne of the Nation, “lack of media coverage makes it hard to get as many donations,” leaving those with less air-time to face a slower, more difficult recovery. This is especially true in territories like Puerto Rico. Months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans still struggle to re-establish normal daily living. Donations are still necessary for their recovery effort, yet establishment news coverage has moved on to other, more sensational topics.

    • “She Tortured Just for the Sake of Torture”: CIA Whistleblower on Trump’s New CIA Pick Gina Haspel

      Former CIA officer and whistleblower John Kiriakou personally knew CIA director nominee Gina Haspel when he worked at the CIA. But their careers have taken very different paths over the past decade. Haspel, who was directly involved in torture at a secret CIA prison in Thailand, has been promoted to head the agency. Kiriakou, who blew the whistle on the torture program, ended up being jailed for 23 months. For more, we speak with John Kiriakou, who spent 14 years at the CIA as an analyst and case officer.

    • The First Woman Picked to Lead CIA, But Not the First War Criminal

      Ray was interviewed Tuesday about Gina Haspel, just nominated to be CIA director. He found it bizarre to discuss the exploits of the current CIA deputy director/war criminal Haspel, who in 2002 ran the secret prison where “terrorist suspect,” Abu Zubaydah, was waterboarded 83 times.

      Such crimes were documented by a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation, based on original CIA cables and other documents — a four year-long effort, a redacted Executive Summary of which was released in Dec. 2014. It revealed a number of heinous torture techniques used on kidnapped “detainees” and — equally important — gave the lie to claims by top CIA officials that useful intelligence was acquired by the torture.

    • Trump Administration Wants To Start Sending Secret Service Agents To Polling Stations

      This appears to be the result of Trump’s continued insistence he would have won the popular vote if there hadn’t been so many illegal votes. Of course, the administration has produced no evidence this happened in the last election. The only story that surfaced as a result of this post-election scrutiny was one involving someone who voted twice… for Trump.

      Needless to say, state officials overseeing elections are horrified. The intrusion of the law enforcement branch that works closest with the president would give elections the appearance that Secret Service agents are there to prevent voters from voting for the wrong person. Given Trump’s antipathy towards anyone that isn’t white with a red hat, dispatched agents would certainly deter those not matching the chosen description from exercising their rights.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Research Shows That Published Versions Of Papers In Costly Academic Titles Add Almost Nothing To The Freely-Available Preprints They Are Based On

        The open access movement believes that academic publications should be freely available to all, not least because most of the research is paid for by the public purse. Open access supporters see the high cost of many academic journals, whose subscriptions often run into thousands of dollars per year, as unsustainable for cash-strapped libraries, and unaffordable for researchers in emerging economies. The high profit margins of leading academic publishers — typically 30-40% — seem even more outrageous when you take into account the fact that publishers get almost everything done for free. They don’t pay the authors of the papers they publish, and rely on the unpaid efforts of public-spirited academics to carry out crucial editorial functions like choosing and reviewing submissions.

      • US Copyright Royalty Board Boosts Songwriters’ Streaming Pay Nearly 50% [Ed: But will this increase in pay go to the cartel (middlemen) or actual artists that aren't just the few millionaires who are super-famous?]

        Variety reports: The Copyright Royalty Board has ruled to increase songwriter rates for interactive streaming by nearly 50% over the next five years, in a ruling issued early Saturday. Equally important, the CRB simplified and strengthened the manner in which songwriters are paid mechanical royalties, modifying terms in a way that offers a foothold in the free-market.

        The ruling, in favor of the National Music Publishers’ Association and the Nashville Songwriters’ Association International, amounts to what NMPA president and CEO David Israelite calls “the biggest rate increase granted in CRB history,” with Amazon, Apple, Google, Pandora and Spotify compelled to pay more for the use of music.

      • Game Developer Embraces Modding Community So Much They Made Their Work An Official Release

        For game developers and publishers, there are lots of ways to react to the modding community that so often creates new and interesting aspects to their games. Some companies look to shut these modding communities down completely, some threaten them over supposed copyright violations, and some developers choose to embrace the modding community and let mods extend the life of their games to ridiculous lengths.

        But few studios have gone as far to embrace modders as developer 1C, makers of IL-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs of Dover. The flight-sim game, released way back in 2011, burst onto the gaming market with decidedly luke-warm reviews. Most of the critiques and public commentary surrounding the game could be best summarized as: “meh.” But a modding community sprung up around the game, calling itself Team Fusion, and developed a litany of mods for IL-2. Rather than looking at these mods as some sort of threat, 1C instead worked with Team Fusion and developed an official re-release of the game incorporating their work.

      • Playboy Wants to Know Who Downloaded Their Playmate Images From Imgur

        Playboy’s initial attempt to hold the popular blog Boing Boing liable for copyright infringement failed last month. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s completely over. The publisher has requested personal information on the people who uploaded the infringing centerfold footage on YouTube and Imgur, to determine what steps to take next. Interestingly, Imgur ‘downloaders’ are targeted too, which technically includes everyone who viewed the images.

      • Pirate Site Admins Receive Suspended Sentences, Still Face €60m Damages Claim

        Four men behind one of France’s most successful pirate sites have been handed suspended sentences by the Rennes Criminal Court. Aged between 29 and 36 years old, the former Liberty Land administrators were arrested back in 2011 following a SACEM investigation. The quartet still face a massive 60 million euro damages claim.

Links 13/3/2018: Qt Creator 4.5.2, Tails 3.6, Firefox 59

Wednesday 14th of March 2018 12:29:30 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Open Sourcing the Hunt for Exoplanets
  • Google’s Open Source AI Lets Anyone Hunt for Alien Planets At Home

    Last December, NASA announced that two new exoplanets had been hiding in plain sight among data from the Kepler space telescope. These two new planets weren’t discovered by a human, however. Instead, an exoplanet hunting neural network—a type of machine learning algorithm loosely modeled after the human brain—had discovered the planets by finding subtle patterns in the Kepler data that would’ve been nearly impossible for a human to see.

    On Thursday, Christopher Shallue, the lead Google engineer behind the exoplanet AI, announced in a blog post that the company was making the algorithm open source. In other words, anyone can download the code and help hunt for exoplanets in Kepler data.

  • Google Open-Sources AI Code To Analyze Kepler Data For Exoplanets
  • You Can Hunt for Alien Planets in Kepler Data Using Newly Released Google Code
  • Google AI That Helped NASA Find Exoplanets Now Available to All
  • Find Alien Life and Discover New Exoplanets With Google’s New Machine-Learning Algorithm
  • Now, use Google AI to hunt planets from NASA data
  • Want to join in NASA’s search for exoplanets? Google’s AI can help
  • Google TensorFlow now available for researchers
  • Google AI that helped NASA find exoplanets now open for all
  • Google AI models which helped NASA discover exoplanets, are now available for everyone
  • Researchers Now Have Access to the Same Google AI that NASA had
  • Google AI Is Now Publically Accessible That Helped NASA Boost Its Hunt for Exoplanet
  • A plan for rebooting an open source project

    Once in a while, you will have an open source project that needs care and feeding. Maybe you’re just stepping into an existing project, and you need to figure out where the project is and where it needs to go. It needs a reboot. What do you do? How do you begin?

    When I was in this situation, I was thrown into the deep end with a security issue. I spent a good eight months getting to know the community as we resolved that issue and other legacy infrastructure issues. After about a year, I finally felt like I had a good outline of the community and its challenges and strengths. I realized afterward that it would’ve been smarter if I had first invested time to review the project’s status and create a strategy for how we tackled its needs.

  • Google Open Sources Exoplanet-Hunting AI

    NASA’s Kepler satellite has been observing the stars for nearly a decade, and it’s produced a mountain of data in that time. Late last year, Google showed how machine learning could help astronomers dig through the Kepler backlog, and it discovered a few new exoplanets in the process. Google has now open sourced the planet-spotting AI so anyone can give it a shot.

  • Google collaborates with Ubisoft to launch Agones, an open source game server hosting system

    When you think of cloud computing, chances are you are thinking about massive server farms that let you edit documents in the cloud and update your CRM system, but thankfully, there’s a playful side to the cloud as well. All of those multiplayer games, after all, have to run somewhere, too. Often, gaming companies write their own systems for running these servers, but Google and Ubisoft today announced a new project that provides an open source alternative to managing and hosting multiplayer game servers.

    Agones, as the project is called because that’s the Greek word for ‘contest,’ uses the Google-incubated Kubernetes container project as it core tool for orchestrating and scaling a fleet of multiplayer game servers. When you play your favorite multiplayer game, it’s these kind of game servers that assure that users can see each other as they traverse an island full of 99 other suicidal maniacs, for example — and they also often run the software necessary to identify cheaters. Containers are actually ideal for this kind of scenario because game sessions tend to last for relatively short periods of time and containers can be deployed and shut down quickly.

  • Google & Ubisoft Announce Game Hosting Solution Agones
  • Google & Ubisoft announce Agones, a game server hosting project
  • Google announces new open source multiplayer server Agones
  • Google Steps on Microsoft’s Toes in New Cloud Gaming Push (Premium)
  • Google gets into multiplayer game server hosting with Agones project
  • Google Cloud & Ubisoft Announce Agones – Open Source Dedicated Multiplayer Game Server Hosting
  • Google Cloud’s Agones enables open source dedicated multiplayer game servers
  • Google and the publisher of ‘Assassin’s Creed’ are teaming up for a new weapon in the cloud wars
  • It’s Happening: Substratum Network Announces Plan to Open-Source Its Software in Next Release

    Substratum Network ( is pleased to announce it will open-source its software in the next release to further its fight against cyber-censorship. Built as a foundation for the decentralized web, Substratum’s mission is to ensure that all people have free and equal access to information, without impediment.

  • Anti-tracking browser extension Ghostery goes open source

    Ghostery, a provider of free software that makes your web browsing experience cleaner and safer by detecting and blocking third-party data-tracking technologies, announced that it is going open source and the code for its popular browser extension is now publicly available on GitHub.

    This move demonstrates Ghostery’s commitment to transparency, empowering the public to see how Ghostery works and what types of data it collects, as well as the ability to make contributions to its source code.

  • China develops open-source platform for AI development

    China has developed an open-source artificial intelligence platform as part of its plan to become a world leader in the technology by 2030, the country’s science and technology minister said, according to the Business Standard.

    “Open-source platforms are needed because AI can play a bigger role in development and make it easier for entrepreneurs to have access to resources,” Wan Gang said at a press conference.

  • Creating an Open Source Program for Your Company

    The recent growth of open source has been phenomenal; the latest GitHub Octoverse survey reports the GitHub community reached 24 million developers working across 67 million repositories. Adoption of open source has also grown rapidly with studies showing that 65% of companies are using and contributing to open source. However, many decision makers in those organizations using and contributing to open source do not fully understand how it works. The collaborative development model utilized in open source is different from the closed, proprietary models many individuals are used to, requiring a change in thinking.

    An ideal starting place is creating a formal open source program office, which is a best practice pioneered by Google and Facebook and can support a company’s open source strategy. Such an office helps explain to employees how open source works and its benefits, while providing supporting functions such as training, auditing, defining policies, developer relations and legal guidance. Although the office should be customized to a specific organization’s needs, there are still some standard steps everyone will go through.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox 59 Prepped For Release: Nukes GTK2 Code, Still Prepping For Wayland

        Mozilla’s Firefox 59.0 is now available to download from the FTP server ahead of the official announcement.

        Firefox 59.0 can now be downloaded for all supported platforms. Firefox 59.0 does deliver on dropping GTK2 support in favor of the GTK3 tool-kit support that’s now mature.

        But what didn’t make it for Firefox 59.0 is the Firefox 59 Wayland support that remains a work-in-progress and was diverted from being a target for mozilla59. While the Wayland support isn’t yet squared away, there have been bug fixes and other improvements in working towards getting this native Wayland support ready by default for those not building your web-browser with the –enable-default-toolkit=cairo-gtk3-wayland switch.

      • Version 59.0, first offered to Release channel users on March 13, 2018
      • Mozilla Firefox 59 Released with Faster Page Load Times, New Privacy Features
      • Latest Firefox available to users where they browse the web — laptop, Fire TV and the office. Plus, a chance to help with the next Firefox release!
      • Firefox 59 “Quantum” released

        Mozilla has released its Firefox 59.0 “Quantum” browser.

        The browser supports GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows desktop operating systems, and iOS and Android mobile devices.

      • Firefox 59 released, these are the key changes
      • Mozilla’s Firefox 59 Released, New Agones Project, SparkyLinux 5.3 Available, Hunt for Exoplanets and More

        Mozilla’s Firefox 59 is available for download. See the wiki for more information on its new features, including the “option to stop websites from asking to send notifications or access your device’s camera, microphone, and location”.

      • IT Pros and CIOs: sign up to try Firefox Quantum for Enterprise
      • Mozilla Open Policy & Advocacy Blog: Mozilla files response to European Commission ‘Fake news and online disinformation’ public consultation
      • Can Chrome Sync or Firefox Sync be trusted with sensitive data?
      • Mozilla Foundation is seeking a VP, Leadership Programs

        One of Mozilla’s biggest strengths is the people — a global community of engineers, designers, educators, lawyers, scientists, researchers, artists, activists and every day users brought together with the common goal of making the internet healthier.

        A big part of Mozilla Foundation’s focus over the past few years has been increasing both the size and diversity of this community and the broader moveme. In particular, we’ve run a series of initiatives — the Internet Health Report, MozFest, our fellowships and awards — aimed at connecting and supporting people who want to take a leadership role in this community. Our global community is the lynchpin in our strategy to grow a global movement to create a healthier digital world.

      • Side projects and swag-driven development

        Another option I keep hearing is to push Mozilla leadership into making side-projects real. That seems like a good option and I think it happens periodically. I sort of did this with Bleach. I spent tons of time trying to get Bleach turned into a real project and it sort of is now.

        Based on that experience, I think it requires a bunch of people and meetings to come to a consensus on validating the project’s existence which is a lot of work and takes a lot of time. It’s important that projects paid for by budgets have impact and value and all that–I get that–but the work to get a side-project to that point is unpleasant and time-consuming. I bet many side-projects can’t pass muster to become a real project. I think what happens instead is that side-projects continue to exist in the misty “there be dragons” part of the Mozilla universe map until the relevant people leave and stuff breaks.

        There are probably other options.

        I’ve been wondering about an option where where the maintainers aren’t locked into choosing between walking away and guilt-driven development for a project that’s important, but for some reason doesn’t have a critical mass and doesn’t pass muster enough to turn into a real project.

        I started wondering if my problem with Standups is two fold: first, I have no incentive to work on it other than bad feelings, and second, it’s a free service so no one else has incentive to work on it either.

        One incentive is getting paid in money, but that’s messy, problematic, and hard to do. But what if we used a different currency? There’s a lot of swag at Mozilla. What if we could use swag to drive development?

      • So, How’s Screenshots Doing?

        It’s been a bit over five months since we launched Firefox Screenshots in Firefox 56, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what’s happened so far and to look forward to what’s coming next.

        So far, our users have taken more than 67 million screenshots. This is a big number that makes my manager happy, but more interesting is how we got here.

      • March Add(on)ness is here

        Winter’s icy hand is releasing its grip, birds are returning from southern migration which means it’s that time of year where people everywhere rank things, put them in brackets and have them compete for bragging rights over who’s the best. It’s time for March Add(on)ness!

      • A Truly Responsive WebXR Experiment: A-Painter XR

        In our posts announcing our Mixed Reality program last year, we talked about some of the reasons we were excited to expand WebVR to include AR technology. In the post about our experimental WebXR Polyfill and WebXR Viewer, we mentioned that the WebVR Community Group has shifted to become the Immersive Web Community Group and the WebVR API proposal is becoming the WebXR Device API proposal. As the community works through the details of these these changes, this is a great time to step back and think about the requirements and implications of mixing AR and VR in one API.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Google Maps wants to simplify Indian address with open-source Plus Codes
    • Google’s new ‘Plus Codes’ are an open source, global alternative to street addresses [Ed: No, it is not "open source"; it makes addresses proprietary and more strictly controlled by Google]

      Google frequently touts that the “next billion users” will come from developing nations with different focuses and needs. To that end, the company has developed a number of optimized services, with the latest being a “simple and consistent addressing system that works across India and globally.

    • Time for ‘Open Innovation,’ Not Just Open Source

      Embedded open source software not only works; most our world runs on it today. That said, the real story is open innovation, of which open source licenses are simply one part.

      We can all agree that open source revolutionized the software industry. The effect has been profound on every segment from enterprise software to search and social networking. But it wasn’t always that way. The late Jim Ready, founding father of embedded open source software, told me once that his early prospects told him that open source wouldn’t fly because they wouldn’t trust their code to a bunch of teenagers in some far-off part of the world.

      Well, guess what? Embedded open source software not only works; most our world runs on it today.

      That said, the real story is open innovation, of which open source licenses are simply one part. Open innovation means looking outside traditional corporate silos to harness the collective knowledge of a global community of developers and using that community to create new and transformative things. Open innovation in software is enabled by many things: GitHub, app stores and crowdsourcing platforms like Topcoder (founded by our investor and director Jack Hughes) being just a few. Once enabled, though, the innovation potential of this crowd is mind boggling.

    • Inside the Vatican’s First-Ever Hackathon [iophk: "misuse of the term hackathon; hackathons are collaborative, this was an app contest not a hackathon"]

      They received consultation from 40 on-site mentors, many of whom represented Microsoft, Google, and other corporate sponsors of the event who taught the participants how to use their company’s tools and technologies [...]

    • Best 10 Free Accounting Software Packages for Small Business

      GnuCash provides a simple approach to bookkeeping and accounting for small businesses. This free accounting software is available for Android, Linux, Windows, OS X, FreeBSDm GNU and OpenBSD. The software manages invoices, accounts payable and receivable, as well as employee expenses and some payroll features.

    • Two new entries for the GNU Licenses FAQ

      We recently made some new additions to our resource Frequently Asked Questions about the GNU Licenses (FAQ). The FAQ is one of our most robust articles, covering common questions for using and understanding GNU licenses. We are always looking to improve our materials, so this week we’ve made some fresh updates.

      The first is an update to our entry on using works under the GNU General Public License (GPL) on a Web site. This entry explains that people are free to use modified versions of GPL’ed works internally without releasing source code, and that using GPL’ed code to run your site is just a special case of that. The problem was that the entry went on to explain how things are different when it comes to the Affero GNU General Public License (AGPL). That transition in the old entry wasn’t quite as elegant as we would have liked, and so people were often writing to us to ask for clarification. They were getting confused about whether the comments on the AGPL also applied to the GPL. So we’ve updated that entry, and moved the information on the AGPL to its own entry. The updated text and new entry were both created by long-time licensing team volunteer Yoni Rabkin.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Can we automate open behaviors?

      When I began studying sales training and giving sales seminars, I realized I was discovering a few basic principles. These principles were applicable anywhere in the world—and they were as true in the past as they will be in the future. They pertained to fundamental aspects of my work: Finding customers, meeting customers, learning what customers want, choosing a product or service that would satisfy customers’ needs, etc. One can enact these principles in various, situational ways. But the principles themselves are constant.

      Open organizations operate according to principles, too: transparency, inclusivity, adaptability, collaboration, and community. We can relate those principles to specific behaviors that propel the principles forward and keep them firmly rooted as part of the organization’s culture.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Google NSynth Super puts Magenta AI into open-source synthesizer

        Google’s Magenta AI has spawned an unexpected hardware device, the NSynth Super synthesizer that uses machine learning to create new sounds. Based on the Magenta research project, it’s built using the NSynth neutral synthesizer that Google released last year, embodying the AI smarts in a tactile physical interface.

      • Open Source Hardware Video Game Music Player

        [Aidan Lawrence] likes classic synthesized video game music in the same way that other people “like” breathing and eating. He spent a good deal of 2017 working on a line of devices based on the Yamaha YM2612 used in the Sega Genesis to get his feet wet in the world of gaming synths, and is now ready to take the wraps off his latest and most refined creation.

  • Programming/Development
    • Which programming languages pay best, most popular? Developers’ top choices

      Stack Overflow has released the results of its annual survey of 100,000 developers, revealing the most-popular, top-earning, and preferred programming languages.

      The most-loved languages are Kotlin and Mozilla-developed Rust, according to Stack Overflow’s 2018 developer survey.

    • Developers love trendy new languages, but earn more with functional programming

      JavaScript remains the most widely used programming language among professional developers, making that six years at the top for the lingua franca of Web development. Other Web tech including HTML (#2 in the ranking), CSS (#3), and PHP (#9). Business-oriented languages were also in wide use, with SQL at #4, Java at #5, and C# at #8. Shell scripting made a surprising showing at #6 (having not shown up at all in past years, which suggests that the questions have changed year-to-year), Python appeared at #7, and systems programming stalwart C++ rounded out the top 10.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • ONF Launches New Open Source SDN Switching Platform – Stratum

      The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is creating a new open source project that stems largely from Google’s desire for programmable white boxes that are easily interchangeable.

      The new project, named Stratum, will create a reference platform for a truly software-defined data plane along with a new set of software-defined networking (SDN) interfaces. Its goal is to provide a white box switch and an open software system.

    • Google Seeds Latest SDN Effort

      Google contributed code to an open-source project organized by the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), the latest effort in software-defined networks (SDNs). Stratum will use the P4 programming language and a handful of open-source interfaces to manage large networks for data centers and carriers.

      The group aims to release open-source code early next year, available on multiple networking chips and systems. So far, the project consists of a handful of software companies along with five chip vendors, five potential users, and four OEMs, including Barefoot Networks, Broadcom, Cavium, China Unicom, Dell EMC, Mellanox, and Tencent.

  • Graduate sues Anglia Ruskin University claiming she ended up with a ‘mickey mouse’ degree

    A graduate is suing her university, claiming boasts in its prospectus about high quality teaching and excellent career prospects were fraudulently misleading after she ended up with a ‘mickey mouse’ degree.

  • Hardware
    • Trump Blocks Broadcom Takeover of Qualcomm on Security Risks

      President Donald Trump issued an executive order Monday blocking Broadcom Ltd. from pursuing its hostile takeover of Qualcomm Inc., scuttling a $117 billion deal that had been scrutinized by a secretive panel over the tie-up’s threat to U.S. national security.

      Trump acted on a recommendation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which reviews acquisitions of American firms by foreign investors. The decision was unveiled just hours after Hock Tan, the chief executive officer of Singapore-based Broadcom, met with officials at the Pentagon in a last-ditch effort to salvage what would have been the biggest technology deal in history.

    • President Trump Blocks Broadcom Purchase of Qualcomm

      Broadcom is in the process of moving its legal headquarters from Singapore to the U.S., with the company planning on finishing the move by April 3, 2018. Trump hosted Broadcom CEO Hock E. Tan in the White House last year as he announced the move, and the company had hoped that would help it skirt the national security review.

    • Trump Blocks Broadcom’s Bid for Qualcomm

      President Trump on Monday blocked Broadcom’s $117 billion bid for the chip maker Qualcomm, citing national security concerns and sending a clear signal that he was willing to take extraordinary measures to promote his administration’s increasingly protectionist stance.

      In a presidential order, Mr. Trump said “credible evidence” had led him to believe that if Singapore-based Broadcom were to acquire control of Qualcomm, it “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States.” The acquisition, if it had gone through, would have been the largest technology deal in history.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Feds Bust CEO Allegedly Selling Custom BlackBerry Phones to Sinaloa Drug Cartel

      Now, the FBI has arrested the owner of one of the most established companies, Phantom Secure, as part of a complex law enforcement operation, according to court records and sources familiar with the matter.

      “FBI are flexing their muscle,” one source familiar with the secure phone industry, and who gave Motherboard specific and accurate details about the operation before it was public knowledge, said. Motherboard granted the sources in this story anonymity to talk about sensitive developments in the secure phone trade. The source said the Phantom operation was carried out in partnership with Canadian and Australian authorities.

    • WHO: Access To Hepatitis C Treatment Increasing, But Most Patients Undiagnosed

      The report also found that the majority of the estimated 71 million people living with HCV remain untreated, mostly because they are not diagnosed. Globally, it says, only about one in five people living with HCV in 2016 had been diagnosed, and in low-income countries, less than 10 percent of people infected with HCV had been diagnosed. Some 40 percent are diagnosed in high-income countries, says the report.

  • Security
    • Judge clears way for breach victims to sue Yahoo

      Among the suits were claims alleging negligence and breach of contract.


      Yahoo believes that all 3 billion of its user accounts were affected by the 2013 breach.

    • Data breach victims can sue Yahoo in the United States: judge

      Yahoo was accused of being too slow to disclose three data breaches that occurred from 2013 and 2016, increasing users’ risk of identity theft and requiring them to spend money on credit freeze, monitoring and other protection services.

    • Distrust of Symantec TLS Certificates

      A Certification Authority (CA) is an organization that browser vendors (like Mozilla) trust to issue certificates to websites. Last year, Mozilla published and discussed a set of issues with one of the oldest and largest CAs run by Symantec. The discussion resulted in the adoption of a consensus proposal to gradually remove trust in all Symantec TLS/SSL certificates from Firefox. The proposal includes a number of phases designed to minimize the impact of the change to Firefox users:

    • How Creative DDOS Attacks Still Slip Past Defenses

      Distributed denial of service attacks, in which hackers use a targeted hose of junk traffic to overwhelm a service or take a server offline, have been a digital menace for decades. But in just the last 18 months, the public picture of DDoS defense has evolved rapidly. In fall 2016, a rash of then-unprecedented attacks caused internet outages and other service disruptions at a series of internet infrastructure and telecom companies around the world. Those attacks walloped their victims with floods of malicious data measured up to 1.2 Tbps. And they gave the impression that massive, “volumetric” DDOS attacks can be nearly impossible to defend against.

    • Potent malware that hid for six years spread through routers

      Slingshot—which gets its name from text found inside some of the recovered malware samples—is among the most advanced attack platforms ever discovered, which means it was likely developed on behalf of a well-resourced country, researchers with Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab reported Friday. The sophistication of the malware rivals that of Regin—the advanced backdoor that infected Belgian telecom Belgacom and other high-profile targets for years—and Project Sauron, a separate piece of malware suspected of being developed by a nation-state that also remained hidden for years.

    • Hidden For 6 Years, ‘Slingshot’ Malware Hacks Your PC Through Your Router
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Microsoft Admits It Incorrectly Upgraded Some Windows 10 Users to v1709 [Ed: Windows Update is technically (not a joke) a botnet. It takes over people's PCs and hands them over for Microsoft to use up their CPU and bandwidth. Microsoft has ignored users' "update" settings since at least Windows XP days.]

      Microsoft admitted last week that it incorrectly updated some Windows 10 users to the latest version of the Windows 10 operating system —version 1709— despite users having specifically paused update operations in their OS settings.

      The admission came in a knowledge base article updated last week. Not all users of older Windows versions were forcibly updated, but only those of Windows 10 v1703 (Creators Update).

      This is the version where Microsoft added special controls to the Windows Update setting section that allow users to pause OS updates in case they have driver or other hardware issues with the latest OS version.

    • We Still Need More HTTPS: Government Middleboxes Caught Injecting Spyware, Ads, and Cryptocurrency Miners

      Last week, researchers at Citizen Lab discovered that Sandvine’s PacketLogic devices were being used to hijack users’ unencrypted internet connections, making yet another case for encrypting the web with HTTPS. In Turkey and Syria, users who were trying to download legitimate applications were instead served malicious software intending to spy on them. In Egypt, these devices injected money-making content into users’ web traffic, including advertisements and cryptocurrency mining scripts.

      These are all standard machine-in-the-middle attacks, where a computer on the path between your browser and a legitimate web server is able to intercept and modify your traffic data. This can happen if your web connections use HTTP, since data sent over HTTP is unencrypted and can be modified or read by anyone on the network.

      The Sandvine middleboxes were doing exactly this. On Türk Telekom’s network, it was reported that when a user attempted to download legitimate applications over HTTP, these devices injected fake “redirect” messages which caused the user’s browser to fetch the file from a different, malicious, site. Users downloading common applications like Avast Antivirus, 7-Zip, Opera, CCleaner, and programs from had their downloads silently redirected. Telecom Egypt’s Sandvine devices, Citizen Lab noted, were using similar methods to inject money-making content into HTTP connections, by redirecting existing ad links to affiliate advertisements and legitimate javascript files to cryptocurrency mining scripts.

    • Let’s Encrypt takes free “wildcard” certificates live
    • GuardiCore Upgrades Infection Monkey Open Source Cyber Security Testing Tool
    • A Guide To Securing Docker and Kubernetes Containers With a Firewall
    • How IBM Helps Organizations to Improve Security with Incident Response

      Protecting organizations against cyber-security threats isn’t just about prevention, it’s also about incident response. There are many different organizations that provide these security capabilities, including IBM X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services (IRIS), which is led by Wendi Whitmore.

      In the attached video interview Whitmore explains how incident response works and how she helps organizations to define a winning strategy. Succeeding at incident response in Whitmore’s view, shouldn’t be focused just on prevention but on building a resilient environment.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • ‘Modernization’: Media’s Favorite Euphemism for Military Buildup

      A variation on this tautology is “overhaul” (New York Times, 8/27/17) or “rebuild” (The Hill, 1/20/18), the idea being that something has fallen into disrepair or broken down and simply needs to be put back together. How vast new expenditures on weapons that can already end civilization can be justified in either financial or moral terms is simply breezed past. A “modern” United States is self-evidently preferable to a pre-modern one, and the United States must be “modern” to “keep pace” with perennial Bad Guys Russia and China.

    • The US Government Is Considering Drafting Middle-Aged Hackers To Fight The Cyberwar

      There’s no time like the near future to be conscripted into military service. Due to citizens’ declining interest in being personally involved in the government’s multiple Forever Wars, the Commission on Military, National and Public Service is exploring its options. And one of the options on the table is removing restrictions on certain draftees (or volunteers) headed for certain positions in the armed forces.

    • Erdogan marries Turkish ultranationalist salute with that of Muslim Brotherhood
    • The New York Times proves that Thomas Friedman was so wrong about Saudi Arabia
    • Russian to Judgement

      The same people who assured you that Saddam Hussein had WMD’s now assure you Russian “novochok” nerve agents are being wielded by Vladimir Putin to attack people on British soil. As with the Iraqi WMD dossier, it is essential to comb the evidence very finely. A vital missing word from Theresa May’s statement yesterday was “only”. She did not state that the nerve agent used was manufactured ONLY by Russia. She rather stated this group of nerve agents had been “developed by” Russia. Antibiotics were first developed by a Scotsman, but that is not evidence that all antibiotics are today administered by Scots.

      The “novochok” group of nerve agents – a very loose term simply for a collection of new nerve agents the Soviet Union were developing fifty years ago – will almost certainly have been analysed and reproduced by Porton Down. That is entirely what Porton Down is there for. It used to make chemical and biological weapons as weapons, and today it still does make them in small quantities in order to research defences and antidotes. After the fall of the Soviet Union Russian chemists made a lot of information available on these nerve agents. And one country which has always manufactured very similar persistent nerve agents is Israel. This Foreign Policy magazine (a very establishment US publication) article on Israel‘s chemical and biological weapon capability is very interesting indeed. I will return to Israel later in this article.

      Incidentally, novachok is not a specific substance but a class of new nerve agents. Sources agree they were designed to be persistent, and of an order of magnitude stronger than sarin or VX. That is rather hard to square with the fact that thankfully nobody has died and those possibly in contact just have to wash their clothes.

    • The Strange Case of the Russian Spy Poisoning

      The suspected nerve agent attack upon former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, which also affected his daughter in the English city of Salisbury last Sunday, has given rise to too much speculation, too much hysteria, and too little analysis or insight. It has provided ammunition for the Russophobic Western media to make accusations that it was another example of Russia in general and Vladimir Putin in particular disposing of a supposed enemy of the Kremlin.

    • Republicans Want to Look at Gun Violence in Movies? OK, Let’s Look

      A ticket to a PG-13 movie can be sold to anyone over 13, while an R rating requires viewers under 17 to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. The PG-13 rating (by far the most lucrative one the MPAA dishes out) was invented in 1984 when Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom didn’t seem quite violent enough for an R rating, but still featured a guy’s heart being torn out of his chest. In director Stephen Spielberg’s words, it was a way to put “a little hot sauce” on a PG rating, while still allowing children to watch.

      Thirty years later, a study found that gun violence in PG-13 movies had tripled, and today there is more gun violence in PG-13 movies than R-rated ones. So according to the MPAA, showing someone gleefully firing a weapon is fine for children, but showing what happens when bullets strike a person is not.

      Hollywood’s penchant for sensationalizing violence is an old, tired argument. You can find studies and anecdotal evidence both that it’s poisoning our children, and that it’s almost entirely harmless. But while people fret over that controversy, they ignore the fact that most people get their education on how guns work from on-screen violence, and movies (and TV) mislead their audience on how useful — not to mention easy to use — firearms are.

    • Russia warns UK of ‘consequences’ of cyber strike after Skripal poisoning

      The Russian Embassy has responded to speculation the UK will launch a retaliatory attack.


      If there is no credible response from the Kremlin, Mrs May has pledged to set out a “full range” of measures to be taken in response.

      The Government has not publicly disclosed the options under consideration but reports on Tuesday suggested one possibility was a cyber counter-attack.

      Responding to the speculation, the Russian Embassy in the UK said: “Statements by a number of MPs, ‘Whitehall sources’ and ‘experts’ regarding a possible ‘deployment’ of ‘offensive cyber-capabilities’ cause serious concern.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Xiaxue finds an admirer in WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after she trolls “virtue-signalling” American activist

      Singaporean blogger and YouTuber Xiaxue has drawn appreciation from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after a tweet of hers went viral.

      Interestingly, the tweet that garnered praise from Assange is about 10 months old. In May 2017, American author and activist Dan Arel was asked to provide proof for accusing someone for being a rapist. In response, he tweeted that believed victims of rape.

    • Lawyer for Assange Leaves Miller & Chevalier as Mueller Probe Heats Up

      Barry Pollack, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s Washington, D.C.-based attorney, has left Miller & Chevalier for a smaller boutique law firm and is representing an unnamed client involved in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

      “I am representing someone with respect to the Mueller probe,” said Pollack, who is now a partner at Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner, & Sauber. “The representation is not public at this point,” he said.

      Pollack said Assange, whose organization in 2016 released troves of Democratic Party emails stolen by Russian hackers, has not been contacted by Mueller’s office thus far. Pollack said he is representing Assange only in relation to an ongoing criminal investigation in the Eastern District of Virginia. He gave no hints as to who he was representing in connection with Mueller’s investigation.

    • Chelsea Manning on Sharing Military Documents With Wikileaks: ‘It Wasn’t a Mistake’

      Speaking at the SXSW Conference Tuesday morning, the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst said she had no regrets about her “data dump” of hundreds of thousands of classified military documents with WikiLeaks in 2010.

      “I made a decision to do something and I made that decision and I’m owning that decision. When it comes to something like that it’s not about second-guessing it or regretting it,” Manning told the audience in Austin, Tex.

    • Chelsea Manning On Life After Prison, Advocacy, And Coder Ethics — SXSW

      Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst and whistleblower who was convicted of leaking classified information, talked about re-entering civilian life after spending seven years in federal prison.

  • Finance
    • Central Banks Urged to Study Digital Currency Risks and Rewards

      The BIS — the club of the world’s largest central banks — said in a report on Monday that the new form of money could one day be issued by policy makers for tasks such as settling payments among financial institutions. At the same time, it warned that digital coins might destabilize traditional lenders if offered widely to the general public.

    • Magic Leap Raises $461 Million From Saudis

      Magic Leap announced Wednesday that it had raised $461 million, mostly from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign investment arm. The company described the investment as the second closing of a round that totaled $963 million. The first part, announced in October, was led by Temasek Holdings Pte., Singapore’s state-owned investment company.

      Magic Leap has raised more than $2.3 billion to date, and has been valued at above $6 billion. Google, Alibaba and Morgan Stanley are already investors.

    • Dropbox files $7 billion IPO

      The cloud storage company Dropbox on Monday filed to issue public stock at a valuation of roughly $7 billion, well below its valuation during its last public offering several years ago.

    • Zuckerberg’s Money Manager Bets on Bone-Broth Company
    • Prediction that $45 billion added to GDP from digital transformation

      The optimism about digital transformation and economic growth comes from research – Unlocking the Economic Impact of Digital Transformation in Asia Pacific – undertaken by Microsoft in partnership with IDC Asia/Pacific with 1,560 global business decision makers, including 100 in Australia.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Tanzania: Electoral Processes Questioned
    • The Smallness of Mark Zuckerberg And why he should not be trusted as the world’s custodian of information

      People who seek high office should have a long record of honesty, good judgment, and good character. That should not be too much to ask, but it disqualifies a lot of people, Mark Zuckerberg among them.

    • If The US Government Can’t Figure Out Who’s A Russian Troll, Why Should It Expect Internet Companies To Do So?

      A few weeks back, following the DOJ’s indictment of various Russians for interfering in the US election, we noted that the indictment showed just how silly it was to blame various internet platforms for not magically stopping these Russians because in many cases, they bent over backwards to appear to be regular, everyday Americans. And now, with pressure coming from elected officials to regulate internet platforms if they somehow fail to catch Russian bots, it seems worth pointing out the flip side of the “why couldn’t internet companies catch these guys” question: which is why couldn’t the government?

    • Trump’s “fake news” smear is starting to have dangerous consequences
    • Guy Verhofstadt tells Juncker to ‘sort out’ Selmayrgate

      The scandal over the flash promotion of Martin Selmayr to the Commission’s most powerful civil service post is “bad for Europe and bad for the European Commission,” leading liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt told MEPs.

      Addressing a debate at the Parliament’s plenary session on Brexit, the former Belgian prime minister directed his opening remarks to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who had opened the session.

      “Your former head of cabinet yesterday has done something that nobody has done ever before here in this house: to unite the whole parliament, the left and the right,” said Verhofstadt, as Selmayr glowered at him from his position seated behind his former boss. “Its’a not a joke, you have to sort it out,” he added.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Schools grapple with how to accommodate student activism
    • The antiquarian assault on press freedom

      Today, the great and the good are going down much the same road when faced with speech they would prefer to suppress. Old-fashioned hair-trigger libel actions are one technique: witness Jeremy Corbyn seriously threatening to sue fellow politician Ben Bradley for libel last month over unguarded comments. But the last few years have also seen another insidious piece of legal antiquarianism being put into operation – and one concerned directly with the publication of the truth.

    • We Made A Documentary Exposing The ‘Israel Lobby.’ Why Hasn’t It Run?

      You never know who you’re going to spot at the Doha Four Seasons in Qatar. So I was only somewhat surprised when I found myself standing next to Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz in the omelet line last Saturday.

      It was a fortuitous meeting. Dershowitz had recently played a small role in an episode that was threatening the reputation of my long-time employer, Al Jazeera. So naturally, I leapt at the opportunity to defend it.

      The circumstances of the threat were these: In 2016, the award-winning Investigative Unit I directed sent an undercover reporter to look into how Israel wields influence in America through the pro-Israel American community. But when some right wing American supporters of Israel found out about the documentary, there was a massive backlash. It was even labeled as anti-Semitic in a spate of articles.

    • Dear Leader McConnell: Don’t pass FOSTA

      We have heard that the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865) may be on the U.S. Senate floor this week for a final vote. We are concerned that the U.S. Senate appears to be rushing to pass a seriously flawed bill without considering the impact it will have on Internet users and free speech.

    • Iowa Town Threatens Critical Resident With A Lawsuit, Gets Sued By The ACLU Instead

      A small town in Iowa has decided one of its residents has too much First Amendment. Boldly marching forward in the face of mild criticism, Sibley’s government had its lawyer threaten a local man with a lawsuit if he didn’t take down or alter his website that criticized the town government for its repeated failure to address a serious problem in the town.

      Sibley has less than 3,000 residents but it is the home to a large animal byproduct processing plant. Iowa Drying and Processing went into operation five years ago. Unaffectionately nicknamed the “Blood Plant,” IDP’s operations were the subject of complaints due to the pervasive foul odor emanating from it.

      Local programmer Jeremy Harms set up a website advising people to stay away from Sibley after repeated calls for action were met with a lot of doing nothing by city politicians. His website previously answered the question about relocating to Sibley with “No.” Thanks to the city’s legal threats, the answer has been upgraded to “Maybe.” In addition to pulling his hard “no,” Sibley also amended his original post to reflect the few positives the town has.

    • Trump’s Lawyers Apparently Unfamiliar With Streisand Effect Or 1st Amendment’s Limits On Prior Restraint

      Over this past weekend, it was revealed that (1) the adult film actress Stormy Daniels (real name: Stephanie Clifford), who has claimed she had an affair with Donald Trump and then was given $130,000 to stay silent about it, is scheduled to appear on 60 Minutes next weekend and (2) President Trump’s lawyers are considering going to court to block CBS from airing it. This is silly, dumb and not actually allowed by the law.

    • SA’s internet censorship bill will break media, marketing

      Nearly half of our 400 MPs were too apathetic to pitch up for one of the most-significant debates seen by Parliament in recent years. And, of the 224 elected representatives who deigned to vote, a staggering 189 supported a bill that is so preposterous it’s almost comedic.

      The Film and Publications Amendment Bill gives the erstwhile Film and Publications Board the right to regulate online content. Ostensibly, the bill is designed to protect children from being exposed to disturbing content. Laudably, it aims to curb revenge porn and hate speech while also addressing the scourge of fake news.

    • Sobchak proposes to repeal ‘censorship’ law

      In the course of the pre-election debate presidential hopeful Kseniya Sobchak proposed to repeal Article 282 of the Criminal Code on Incitement of Hatred or Enmity. She stated this at the debates on Channel One.

      “In our program, as you know, we are for the abolition of Article 282, because this article, which was allegedly made to fight extremists, is used against people who like the posts of dissenters in Russia… Just like Yarovaya’s package, which enables all special services to monitor each of us,” – RIA Novosti quotes her words.

      “Yarovaya’s package will be used in the business interests of thievish officials, so I am in favor of repealing Article 282, and of disembodying the department – the so-called E, which ostensibly fights extremists, but in fact it fights dissenters,” added Sobchak.

    • Trump admin sets new record for censorship of federal files

      The federal government denied more public records requests in 2017 than at any other point in the past decade, according to an analysis by the AP. Out of 823,222 requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act last year, the government censored or failed to provide records in 78% of cases claiming that it could either not find the requested files or that releasing the information would be illegal under U.S. law.

    • Age Verification pushed back

      The deadline for the implementation of the Government’s potentially disastrous Age Verification scheme has officially been pushed back to ‘before the end of the year’.

    • Reporter’s viral eye-roll causes trouble in China
    • An Epic Eye Roll Enthralls China
    • This Video Of A Chinese Reporter’s Eye Roll Made Her An Instant Hero On The Internet
    • Minitrue: Do Not Hype Two Sessions Reporter’s Eyeroll
    • The student censors in anti-fascist clothing

      Student politics reached a new low this month, when Yaron Brook, an American-Israeli writer, and Carl Benjamin, a popular political YouTuber, were prevented from speaking to the Libertarian Society at King’s College London by a group of activists who claimed Brook and Benjamin were ‘fascists’ and ‘white supremacists’.

      Wearing masks, the activists punched their way through security, hospitalising one guard, before setting off smoke bombs, fire alarms and thundering through the room where the event was taking place, seeking to intimidate speakers, students and staff. From what we know, the protagonists were from outside King’s, but their stunt was organised with the complicity of certain King’s students. This was clear given that seven left-wing student societies had organised a protest the day before the Libertarian Society talk, with the stated aim of keeping the speakers ‘off campus’. It seems that students were once again successful in No Platforming speakers and shutting down an event designed to be a forum for debate and discussion.

    • The resurgence of class struggle and the fight against Internet censorship

      The American government, Internet companies and capitalist states around the world are engaged in an aggressive campaign to censor the Internet, under the guise of combating “fake news” and “Russian meddling.” The real aim is to suppress and criminalize the growth of opposition in the working class to austerity, war and social inequality.

      On Sunday, April 22, the World Socialist Web Site, Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) are holding a public conference in Detroit, Michigan to mobilize the working class against Internet censorship.

    • The Marketplace of Ideas: Assaulting the First Amendment

      Poetry of freedom, this verse has safeguarded the chase of truth in ways that no military might can provide or preserve be it in the United States or elsewhere.

      Almost 250 years later, we are, again, witness to an evident onslaught upon the core of our collective freedom… the marketplace of ideas.


      Under the First Amendment, people may elect to embrace or promote “radical” anti-American, anti-Israeli or even anti-Semitic commentary or opinion; it is a choice left to them and them alone. Neither the government nor any of its minions have the constitutional authority to limit access to information not in itself otherwise prohibited by law.

      The marketplace must be open to all ideas – even false ideas. In an open marketplace ideas must “clash” and “grapple;” they must stand up to assault and prove their worthiness. Truth cannot be pampered, too delicate to be examined – truth must be tested, forged in the furnace of doubt and questioning.

      And, where, as here, government seeks to reprimand Al Jazeera for ensuring our collective right to the widest diversity of information and opinion it is a punishment that penalizes all.

    • Russia Censors News Reports About Anti-Putin Ice Graffiti, Leaving Its Contents Entirely Up To Our Collective Imagination

      Readers here will be familiar with the Streisand Effect, by which a topic or information becomes wildly viral due to the very attempts at censoring it. The idea is that by trying to keep Subject X out of the news, the public suddenly is far more exposed to Subject X as a result of news coverage of the cover-up. This story slightly deviates from the Streisand Effect formula, but only in the most hilarious way.

      People should know by now that Vladimir Putin is a strong-arm “President” that runs the country like a fiefdom. As such, most if not all wings of his government serve him personally far more directly than they do his constituents. Evidence of this is practically everywhere, especially in how his government and non-government organizations in Russia react to his political opponents. Typically, his political rivals are jailed, silenced, or otherwise tamped down viciously in terms of how much exposure they can get to challenge his political position. A recent example of this concerns presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, whose supporters painted the ice on a frozen river in St. Petersburg with the mildest anti-Putin slogan, reading “Against Putin.” As a result, Roskomnadzor, the government agency featured in our pages for its censorship of websites in the name of literally anything it can dream up, ordered news groups to censor the contents of the message-on-ice in any reporting on the incident.

    • Twitter’s Attempt To Clean Up Spammers Meant That People Sarcastically Tweeting ‘Kill Me’ Were Suspended

      Just recently, Senator Amy Klobuchar suggested that the government should start fining social media platforms that don’t remove bots fast enough. We’ve pointed out how silly and counterproductive (not to mention unconstitutional) this likely would be. However, every time we see people demanding that these platforms better moderate their content, we end up with examples of why perhaps we really don’t want those companies to be making these kinds of decisions.

      You may have heard that, over the weekend, Twitter started its latest sweep of accounts to shutdown. Much of the focus was on so-called Tweetdeckers, which were basically a network of teens using Tweetdeck software to retweet accounts for money. In particular, it was widely reported that a bunch of accounts known for copying (without attribution) the marginally funny tweets of others and then paying “Tweetdeckers” for mass promotion. These accounts were shutdown en masse over the weekend.

    • New project pairs journalists with musicians to fight censorship

      A new project from Reporters Without Borders Germany is using a loophole in certain nations’ censorship laws to deliver news, Pitchfork reports. The Uncensored Playlist pairs journalists with local musicians in China, Egypt, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam to write songs which convey news stories that would otherwise be censored beyond meaning. The songs are then uploaded on Spotify, Deezer, and Apple Music, with the names of the artists and reporters protected in their home countries.

    • New Journalism Project Spreads Censored News Through Music Streaming Services

      The Uncensored Playlist is a new project from Reporters Without Borders Germany that uses music streaming services to spread censored news stories around the world. It pairs local journalists with local musicians in China, Egypt, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam to write songs that convey the news, and then releases the songs via Spotify, Deezer, and Apple Music. All of the songs have been recorded in English as well as the individual countries’ languages. For the songs’ international release, they are credited to the journalists that wrote them. However, to protect the writers and to avoid censorship laws, for their release within their original countries, they are credited to aliases and feature alternate titles.

    • “Indecent” Brings Issues of Censorship and Anti-Semitism Center Stage

      We don’t talk nearly enough about how censorship is often the first step towards total fascism and tyranny, and this show covers that topic expertly with this based-on-a-true-story rooted in that very subject. We also see America’s complacency in the horrors that happen in the rest of the world, as it’s the USA where the actors in God of Vengeance are tried in court. This is a very unusual and necessary look at world history, as our history books like to paint us as the heroes in this particular series of events. In Indecent we see the cast of characters go from eager and excited about a show to victims of actual genocide in roughly ninety minutes, and it is a powerful and important message about how quickly things spiral out of control and who’s to blame when they do. While I would like to see more from the plethora of Jewish stories available to us, this show’s focus on what leads to things like the Holocaust and its original point of view regarding those events is still refreshing. While not perfect, this show leaves us with plenty to chew on and mull over for weeks after the fact. That’s art, warts and all, and I’m grateful to see The Guthrie taking on such powerful work.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Government ‘unlawfully delegated’ bulk data powers to GCHQ, court hears

      Privacy International urges Britain’s most secret court, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, to rule that the government illegally collected surveillance data from internet and phone companies until at least September 2017

    • Leaked Tools Show How NSA Pulls Back from Target Computers If They’re Already Hacked by Other Nations

      An interesting research published this month reveals how the National Security Agency (NSA) quickly pulls back from its target machines if it spots any other malware dropped by threat groups. An array of tools called Territorial Dispute was apparently dropped by the Shadow Brokers along with the infamous EternalBlue exploit, however, it didn’t receive much attention due to its non-offensive nature.

    • EFF and 23 Groups Tell Congress to Oppose the CLOUD Act

      EFF and 23 other civil liberties organizations sent a letter to Congress urging Members and Senators to oppose the CLOUD Act and any efforts to attach it to other legislation.

      The CLOUD Act (S. 2383 and H.R. 4943) is a dangerous bill that would tear away global privacy protections by allowing police in the United States and abroad to grab cross-border data without following the privacy rules of where the data is stored. Currently, law enforcement requests for cross-border data often use a legal system called the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties, or MLATs. This system ensures that, for example, should a foreign government wish to seize communications stored in the United States, that data is properly secured by the Fourth Amendment requirement for a search warrant.

      The other groups signing the new coalition letter against the CLOUD Act are Access Now, Advocacy for Principled Action in Government, American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), Campaign for Liberty, Center for Democracy & Technology, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Constitutional Alliance, Defending Rights & Dissent, Demand Progress Action, Equality California, Free Press Action Fund, Government Accountability Project, Government Information Watch, Human Rights Watch, Liberty Coalition, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Black Justice Coalition, New America’s Open Technology Institute, OpenMedia, People For the American Way, and Restore The Fourth.

    • James Clapper avoids charges for ‘clearly erroneous’ surveillance testimony

      Former intelligence chief James Clapper is poised to avoid charges for allegedly lying to Congress after five years of apparent inaction by the Justice Department.

      Clapper, director of national intelligence from 2010 to 2017, admitted giving “clearly erroneous” testimony about mass surveillance in March 2013, and offered differing explanations for why.

      Two criminal statutes that cover lying to Congress have five-year statutes of limitations, establishing a Monday deadline to charge Clapper, who in retirement has emerged as a leading critic of President Trump.

      The under-oath untruth was exposed by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who sparked national debate on surveillance policy with leaks to the press.

      Many members of Congress, mostly Republicans supportive of new limits on electronic surveillance, called for Clapper to be prosecuted as the deadline neared, saying unpunished perjury jeopardizes the ability of Congress to perform oversight.

      “He admitted to lying to Congress and was unremorseful and flippant about it,” Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., told the Washington Examiner. “The integrity of our federal government is at stake because his behavior sets the standard for the entire intelligence community.”

    • RedisWannaMine Unveiled: New Cryptojacking Attack Powered by Redis and NSA Exploits

      Recently cryptojacking attacks have been spreading like wildfire. At Imperva we have witnessed it firsthand and even concluded that these attacks hold roughly 90% of all remote code execution attacks in web applications.

      Having said that, all of the attacks we have seen so far, were somewhat limited in their complexity and capability. The attacks contained malicious code that downloaded a cryptominer executable file and ran it with a basic evasion technique or none at all.

      This week we saw a new generation of cryptojacking attacks aimed at both database servers and application servers. We dubbed one of these attacks RedisWannaMine.

    • NSA Retreats From Targeted PCs If They’re Already Infected by Other APT Malware

      Hacking tools leaked last year and believed to belong to the US National Security Agency (NSA) contain an utility for detecting the presence of malware developed by other cyber-espionage groups.

      This utility, going by the codename of “Territorial Dispute,” is meant to alert NSA operators about the presence of other APT hacking groups on a compromised computer and allows an NSA operator to retreat from an infected machine and avoid further exposure of NSA hacking tools and operations to other nation-state attackers.

    • Aadhaar hearings: Day 15 saw arguments on Aadhaar as a money bill, interim orders for NEET registrations were also passed

      This was compared to the use of Aadhaar today. It was argued that today, it was not possible for an individual to survive without Aadhaar, and it was needed from ‘birth to death’. It was further argued that worldwide, there was a turn towards limiting the use of data while here, the opposite was happening.

      In view of this, it was argued that Section 57 allowing the use of Aadhaar for ‘any purpose’ could not be interpreted to mean use for ‘all purposes’. The Bench, here, also questioned if there was any compelling state interest in authorising private parties to mandate Aadhaar. Further, previous arguments on Section 57 as an excessive delegation of essential functions were reiterated.

    • How to Make a Clean Break With the Clingiest Social Networks

      [...] Wanting to delete your account is one thing, but actually being able to hit the delete button is another story. Social media outlets make money off of you and your information, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they don’t want to let you go. Because of this, the biggest networks have made it overly complicated to delete your account. But if you are set on getting rid of them, here’s what you’ll have to do.

    • World Sticks to Cash as Sweden Heads Alone Into Cashless Future

      That resurgence appears to be driven by so-called store-of-value motives (reflecting lower opportunity cost of holding cash) rather than by payment needs, BIS said. That means as interest rates fall — and even go negative some places — there is more incentive to hold cash.

    • US NTIA Boss On Whois Debate: ‘Keep Data Open For IP Rightsholders, Others’

      US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information David Redl today weighed in on the debate over changes to the storage and public display of personal information of domain name registrants at the meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Border Control Enthusiast Banned From Crossing UK Border

      Local newspaper Luton Today reports that Southern was denied entry to the UK after she was photographed in the Bedfordshire town displaying inflammatory posters that stated “Allah is a gay god.”

    • #DearNonNatives: What Native Americans Want Non-Natives To Know
    • Nebraska Is Illegally Obtaining and Storing Execution Drugs in Defiance of Federal Law

      The state has operated outside the law using an improper license to purchase and store lethal injection drugs.

      For years, the state of Nebraska has had a troubled history of cutting corners in its zealous pursuit of lethal-injection drugs to keep its death penalty program alive. In November, the state announced that it would use an experimental drug cocktail not previously used in the United States to carry out its next execution. What the state didn’t reveal, however, is that it was violating federal law when acquiring the ingredients for the lethal cocktail.

      In a complaint filed today by the ACLU of Nebraska with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the ACLU has shown that the state of Nebraska is playing fast and loose with DEA registrations in order to covertly obtain and store the drugs it intends to use for executing prisoners. The DEA should seize the drugs Nebraska has unlawfully obtained before they can be used in an execution.

      As the complaint shows, a person or entity, including government agencies, needs a DEA registration to import a controlled substance. Federal law also requires those that handle a controlled substance to have a DEA registration particular to their authorized usage. These laws apply to the Nebraska Department of Corrections and to the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP), where the state carries out executions. But both institutions are ignoring the law in order to get the execution drugs they need to carry out the death penalty.

    • The Trump Administration’s Campaign to Weaken Civil Service Ramps Up at the VA

      Last June, President Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign promise by signing a bipartisan bill to make it easier to fire employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The law, a rare rollback of the federal government’s strict civil-service job protections, was intended as a much-needed fix for an organization widely perceived as broken. “VA accountability is essential to making sure that our veterans are treated with the respect they have so richly earned through their blood, sweat and tears,” Trump said that day. “Those entrusted with the sacred duty of serving our veterans will be held accountable for the care they provide.”

      At the time, proponents of the bill repeatedly emphasized that it would hold everyone — especially top officials — accountable: “senior executives,” stressed Senate Veterans Committee chair Johnny Isakson; “medical directors,” specified Trump; anyone who “undermined trust” in the VA, according to Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. Shulkin advocated for the measure, called the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, by highlighting a case in which the agency had to wait 30 days to fire a worker caught watching porn with a patient.

    • Schools Should Use Walkouts in Protest of Gun Violence as a Teaching Moment

      A disciplinary response to the walkout is a disservice to young people and a missed educational opportunity.

      For 17 minutes on March 14, students and their supporters across the country are planning to walk out of their schools, honoring the victims of the Parkland school shooting and calling for Congress to pass meaningful gun regulation. Unfortunately, some schools view this act as a disruption and are threatening to discipline students who participate. A disciplinary response is a disservice to young people and a missed educational opportunity.

      Too often, adults discipline students for expressing their opinions or simply being themselves. LGBTQ students have been sent home for expressing their sexual orientation, and girls have been disciplined when they challenge gendered uniform policies. Students of color are more likely than their white classmates to be disciplined, especially for subjective offenses like excessive noise. A hairstyle, a hoodie, or even a creative school science project can be seen as cause for disciplining Black and brown students. Punishment has even been invoked against students who attempt to speak up when they see abuse. That’s what happened to a high school student in Columbia, South Carolina, who was charged with “disturbing schools” after daring to speak up against a police officer’s violent mistreatment of a classmate.

    • The Government’s Case Against California’s ‘Sanctuary’ Policies Is on Weak Legal Ground

      Under the 10th Amendment, the federal government cannot force states or localities to participate in a federal program.

      Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the latest move in this administration’s increasingly desperate attempts to bully states and localities into colluding with its draconian detention and deportation agenda. Following a brief aside to blame all immigrants for violent crime, homicides, and opioid overdose deaths, he told a meeting of the California Peace Officers’ Association that the Justice Department had just filed a major lawsuit against the state of California.

      The lawsuit challenges three state laws passed and signed into law in 2017: AB 450, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act; AB 103, a detention statute that was part of an omnibus bill; and SB 54, the California Values Act. The DOJ claims that these three laws “have the purpose and effect of making it more difficult for federal immigration officers to carry out their responsibilities in California.” In fact, these laws simply ensure that state actors comply with the U.S. Constitution and that local law enforcement’s limited resources are not co-opted for federal immigration enforcement purposes except in certain circumstances.

      AB 103 expands state oversight of California’s local detention facilities when they hold people under contracts with ICE because federal oversight of the ICE detention system is woefully inadequate. And AB 450 reinforces the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement by requiring employers to see a judicial warrant from ICE before they allow ICE to enter a non-public part of a workplace. The Sessions’ lawsuit details the federal government’s objections to these attempts to limit the harm caused by the deportation force that President Trump has unleashed.

    • No Money to Make Bail or Pay for a Lawyer? Too Bad, Say Officials in Glynn County, Georgia

      ACLU’s lawsuit says it’s unconstitutional to have one pretrial system for the wealthy and another for the poor.

      Margery Mock is 28 years old and the mother to an 8-year-old girl. She is currently unemployed and battling homelessness, having spent one month in a hotel and several nights in her storage unit, where all of her belongings are kept. She was recently arrested on an alleged criminal trespassing charge from trying to visit a relative at a motel and incarcerated on a $1,256 bond that she can’t afford.

      Mock is a victim of Glynn County, Georgia’s wealth-based pretrial system. The county allows those with money to walk free while they await trial, while those who can’t make bail remain locked up. It also fails to provide people who can’t afford to pay for a lawyer with a public defender to argue for their release.

      Both practices are illegal. The constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process prohibit people from being jailed simply because they cannot afford a monetary payment. The Sixth Amendment guarantees people accused of crimes will be appointed lawyers to defend them if they cannot afford to hire a private lawyer.

    • Pakistan Court Declares Mobile Data Disconnections By The Government Illegal

      In countries that put far less an emphasis on expanding human rights and personal liberty, it’s become somewhat common for them to use strong-arm tactics to stifle dissent. One aspect of that is often times the suspension or shutdown of mobile networks, the theory being that the messaging and social media apps dissenters use on their phones allow them to organize far better than they otherwise could and therefore cause more trouble. Frankly, this has become something more expected out of Middle East authoritarian regimes than in other places, but they certainly do not have a monopoly on this practice.

      However, there are governments with the ability to reverse course and go back in the right direction. One Pakistani court in Islamabad recently ruled that government shutdown of mobile networks, even if done under some claims for national security, are illegal. The news comes via a translation of a report. As a heads up, you will notice that the translation is imperfect.

    • “No Right Without a Remedy”: Why NSA Whistleblower Protections Are Lacking

      Earlier this month Stephen M. Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, attended a roundtable discussion with the National Security Agency (NSA) Inspector General (IG) Robert Storch. The meeting served as an avenue for the IG to hear comments on the NSA’s whistleblower program.

      In attendance was Andrew Snowdon, NSA whistleblower coordinator and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) counsel, as well as representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, Project on Government Oversight, and Government Accountability Project, among others.

      When explaining his commitment to strengthening whistleblower protections in the NSA, the IG stated, “there is no right without a remedy.”

    • Reality Winner: The Cost of Mounting a Defense Arguing the Government Overclassifies

      This is the no-win situation Winner is in, trying to challenge her conviction after having been denied bail. Because of the way we deal with classified information, she’ll have served a likely full sentence by the time she gets to trial.

      It still may be worth it. After all, if she wins at trial, she’ll avoid a record as a felon.

    • Cop Hits Woman’s Car At 94 MPH, Killing Her Infant. Police Arrest Woman For Negligent Homicide.

      This isn’t apples-to-apples (the court making this declaration was in Ohio, not Louisiana, where this accident took place) but it’s a good rule of thumb. If someone is driving 44 mph over the speed limit, they’ve effectively forfeited their right-of-way status. A left turn taken in front of a speeding officer should give the officer zero preferential treatment in the eyes of the law. The officer should be 100% culpable for the damage and loss of life. Arresting a mother who lost her infant to an officer’s reckless actions is needlessly cruel and serves zero deterrent purpose. Her daughter can’t be killed again.

      The way the Baton Rouge PD is handling this ensures Officer Manuel’s eventual conviction will also have zero deterrent value. It shows officers the PD is willing to arrest victims of their unlawful actions and give them all the time they want — with pay! — to heal up before they’re forced to confront the results of their recklessness. If the DA is smart, the charges against the mother will vanish and the cop will be rung up for his negligent actions.

    • Off-duty Baton Rouge police officer going 94 mph in crash that killed 1-year-old baby, police say

      A Baton Rouge police officer was arrested Friday on a count of negligent homicide, accused of going 94 mph in a Corvette when he caused an off-duty crash on Airline Highway that killed an infant and injured six others.

      The officer, Christopher Manuel, 28, was driving north in a 2007 Chevrolet Corvette shortly after 8 p.m. Oct. 12 on Airline Highway when it struck a Nissan at the intersection at Florline Boulevard that was occupied by four adults and three children.

    • Matthew Keys, now freed from prison, is ready to get back to journalism

      Speaking to Ars by phone last Thursday from a halfway house in California, Keys underscored three basic points about his case. The first, he said, is that it’s all said and done. There will be no further appeal. Secondly, he maintains he did not commit the crime for which he was convicted. Finally, Keys is now ready to write a new chapter of his life: one where he can get back to doing meaningful, workaday journalism.

    • New CIA Director Nominee: When There’s No Justice For Torture

      President Donald Trump nominated CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to succeed Mike Pompeo as director of the agency. Haspel was briefly in charge of a black site prison and helped destroy evidence to cover up torture.

      The possible promotion is but another consequence of the failure and refusal among President Barack Obama’s administration and the political establishment to meaningfully hold officials accountable for torture.

      Trump made the announcement as part of a tweet that indicated CIA Director Mike Pompeo was nominated to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Tillerson was effectively fired.

      Haspel would not only be the first woman to run the CIA. She would also be the first woman, who helped agency officials conceal evidence of torture and abuse against detainees in the “war on terrorism,” to serve as a CIA director.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • FCC must defend net neutrality repeal in court against dozens of litigants

      Twelve lawsuits filed against the Federal Communications Commission over its net neutrality repeal have been consolidated into one suit that will be heard at a federal appeals court in California.

      The 12 lawsuits were filed by more than three dozen entities, including state attorneys general, consumer advocacy groups, and tech companies.

    • Here’s that Scientology TV network you didn’t ask for
    • Telecom Lobbyists Whine About State Net Neutrality Efforts They Helped Create

      So one, most of the state-level rules closely mirror the same rules the FCC is trying to eliminate, so most of them are fairly uniform. It’s also worth pointing out that these companies already have to navigate a vast array of regulations governing phone, cable and broadband service — rules that can often vary town by town. In other words, these net neutrality efforts aren’t as uncommon, discordant and fractured as the telecom industry might have you believe.

      Granted having disparate state-level protections may in some ways be cumbersome, but that’s again something ISPs like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast should have thought a little harder about before killing extremely popular and modest (by international standards) federal protections. Large ISP lobbyists created this mess and, unsurprisingly, they’re simply refusing to own it.

      US Telecom is also being disingenuous in claiming to want “permanent and sustainable rules” via new legislation. As we’ve noted several times, what they really want is a net neutrality law they know they’ll write. One that prohibits ISPs from doing things they never intended to do (like blocking websites entirely), while carving out vast loopholes allowing anti-competitive behavior on numerous other fronts (zero rating, interconnection). The real goal: pass flimsy legislation that pre-empts tougher state rules, or future efforts by the FCC or Congress to implement meaningful protections.

    • On 29th Birthday of World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee Voices The Need For Internet Regulation
    • The web is under threat. Join us and fight for it.

      Today, the World Wide Web turns 29. This year marks a milestone in the web’s history: for the first time, we will cross the tipping point when more than half of the world’s population will be online.

      When I share this exciting news with people, I tend to get one of two concerned reactions:

      How do we get the other half of the world connected?
      Are we sure the rest of the world wants to connect to the web we have today?

    • The Importance of Ending the Internet as We Know It
    • Ten Years Later, Cable Industry Finally Realizes More Ads Is Not The Solution To Cord Cutting

      For years we’ve noted how the traditional cable TV industry is slowly-but-surely bleeding customers tired of paying an arm and a leg for bloated bundles of often terrible programming. And for just as long we’ve documented how far too many cable and broadcast executives are hell bent on doubling down on all of the bad behaviors that cause these defections in the first place. That has ranged from knee jerk price hikes in the face of growing streaming competition, to efforts to stuff more ads into every viewing hour, whether by editing down programs or speeding them up to ensure maximum commercial load.

      The ugly truth most cable and broadcasting executives can’t face is that the era of the sacred cable TV cash cow is over. Television simply isn’t going to be as profitable in the wake of real competition and the more flexible, cheaper pay TV alternatives that competition is providing. And while countless industry executives still somehow think this is a fad they can wait out, there’s growing evidence that at least a few industry executives are finally getting the message.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Federal Judge Says Business Names Provided By Reviewers At A Review Site Are Contributory Trademark Infringement

        Users of the site submitted reviews of companies whose names contained the word “reliable.” The plaintiff claims some of the company names are infringing. The plaintiff, illogically, sues the third party host of user reviews of companies whose names may be infringing on the plaintiff’s trademark. This is where the suit gets tossed because the alleged infringement isn’t taking place at TransportReviews. It’s taking place at all of the businesses allegedly misusing a registered mark.

        But the suit doesn’t get tossed. Instead, the judge says it can continue. The judge actually says user reviews hosted at a review site of businesses whose names might be infringing is the review site’s problem. The only intelligible part of the opinion states there’s no direct infringement. These were only names returned in search results, all of which were input by third party users. The website did not use the plaintiff’s mark to identify its own goods or services. In fact, the site never used the names at all other than to serve up relevant hits for users’ search terms.

        Everything goes sideways after that. The judge decides that because the defendant was notified about this alleged infringement and did not immediately kowtow to a bizarre request directed at completely the wrong party (a middleman hosting third party content that had nothing to do with naming related businesses names that might be infringing), the website can be held responsible for contributory infringement.

    • Copyrights
      • Killing The Golden Goose (Again); How The Copyright Stranglehold Dooms Spotify

        For many, many, many years, we’ve talked about how the legacy entertainment industry will seek to kill the Golden Goose by strangling basically any innovation that is helping it adapt to new innovations. We saw the same pattern over and over and over again. The simple version of it goes like this: the legacy entertainment industry sits around and whines about how awful the internet is because it’s undermining its gatekeeper business model that extracts massive monopoly rents, but does nothing to actually adapt. Eventually, companies come along and innovate and create a service (a) people want that (b) actually is legal and pays the legacy companies lots of money. This should be seen as a win-win for everyone.

        But the legacy companies get jealous of the success of the innovator who did the actual work. They start to overvalue the content and undervalue the innovative service. The short version of this tends to pop up when a legacy entertainment exec says something like “why is innovative company x making so much money when all it’s doing is making use of our content?” Of course, if the service part was so obvious, so easy, and so devoid of value, then the legacy entertainment companies would have done it themselves. But they didn’t. So with the jealousy comes the inevitable demand for more cash from the innovator. And, usually, demands for equity too, which the innovator has basically no ability to resist, because they need to have a “good” relationship with the content companies. But the demands for more (and the jealousy) never go away.

      • U.S. Navy Under Fire in Mass Software Piracy Lawsuit

        German software company Bitmanagement is asking the US Court of Federal Claims for a partial summary judgment against the US Government. According to the software vendor, it’s undisputed that the Navy installed its software on hundreds of thousands of computers without permission, infringing its copyright.

      • Voksi ‘Pirates’ New Serious Sam Game With Permission From Developers

        Best known for his efforts to defeat anti-piracy protection Denuvo, the cracker known as ‘Voksi’ has revealed another string to his bow. After participating in the closed beta of Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour in 2016, he got friendly with the game’s developers. Now, with their permission, he’s giving the game away for free in an effort to boost sales of the action adventure.

Willy Minnoye (EPO) Threatened Staff With Disabilities Said to Have Been Caused by the EPO Work Pressures

Tuesday 13th of March 2018 12:43:39 PM

Previously: The Effects of ILO and the EPO on Disability

Must be another 'coincidence'

Summary: Willy Minnoye, or Battistelli’s ‘deputy’ at the EPO until last year, turns out to have misused powers (and immunity) to essentially bully vulnerable staff

RECENT and new (today) tweets chronicle one important case of EPO abuses.


Former Vice-President of DG1 of the #EPO threatened me with an investigation under #EPO's Circular 342 (against human rights and the principle of non-retroactivity) which I had opposed before as a staff representative.

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) March 13, 2018

The threat of the investigation under C342 followed a disciplinary threat of 3 months and a reprimand by Ms. Bergot who became PD4.3 in the process, all despite my illness, and while I had been refused an employment medical examination since September 2012.

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) March 13, 2018

I was clearly entitled to an employment medical examination under Article 90(2) Service Regulations. #EPO #occupational #disease

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) March 13, 2018

Back in January:

Reply by Tribunal regarding temporary stay of proceedings in my less urgent cases (relevant page):

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) January 10, 2018

Reply to Tribunal's e-mail of 18 (and 13) December 2017

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) January 10, 2018

Very reasoned and detailed reply by the #Administrative #Tribunal of the #ILO to my email (see my last tweet)…

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) January 29, 2018

IAM and IBM Want Lots of Patent Litigation in India

Tuesday 13th of March 2018 11:55:11 AM

Not just low-salaried labour/workforce for IBM

Summary: Having ‘championed’ lobbying for litigation Armageddon in China (where IBM’s practicing business units have gone), patent maximalists set their eyes on India

IBM is trying to change the USPTO, having had a Director in it for a number of years (he’s now working for IBM as a lobbyist). IBM is a patent bully and almost a troll (IBM still sells some products, so it’s premature to start calling it a “patent troll”).

IBM used software patents against Twitter (many did not notice that), extracting perhaps tens of millions of dollars without actually doing anything.

Florian Müller, an IBM critic, has just published this blog post about a core Twitter patent in the post-Alice era. “Worst-case scenario for Twitter,” he added, is that “some of its “own” patent claims might belong to Indian inventor, who could then sue Twitter.”

From yesterday’s blog post:

It could be that an Indian patentee ends up owning what was considered a core Twitter patent. But he’s not quite there yet. His U.S. Patent Application No. 15/053,889 is facing an Alice (§101) rejection by the examiner, which he is appealing (the appeal was filed in late November). Most recently, the examiner sought to defend his rejection in his mid-February answer to the appeal brief.

Twitter’s older and narrower patent was granted at a pre-Alice time; but the broader one was granted in 2015. The USPTO is clearly applying double standards so far, holding the same claims abstract in one case after not holding them abstract in another. That’s not good.

PTAB/district courts/CAFC would likely just say, “go away, opportunist/troll…”

They’re no longer tolerant of such patents.

Speaking of India, Dolby does not create anything concrete in India; nothing but patent lawsuits. But a person from Dolby, a speaker at an upcoming IAM event in India (possibly with the usual advocacy of software patents in India), will certainly enjoy yesterday’s puff piece that says:

Documents filed with the Delhi High Court show that Dolby Laboratories called off a dispute with Oppo last December after more than a year of litigation. For the US-based licensor of audio standards technology, the Oppo deal followed on two settlements with Indian defendants during the course of 2017.

Dolby made its first patent assertions in India in 2016, with Oppo and Vivo as its initial targets. In October that year, Delhi High Court Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw laid out an interim royalty payment regime requiring both defendants to deposit 34 rupees ($0.52 at today’s rates) with the court per device sold. According to SpicyIP, the court subsequently required the two Chinese brands to “furnish bank guarantees for the entire amount of the royalty payments due to the plaintiffs”.


Dolby’s latest cases demonstrate why FRAND and SEP issues will be high on the agenda here in Mumbai.

IAM has long lobbied for software patents in India, for FRAND, and SEP (see examples from last year [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). IBM did the same thing in India (we wrote articles about that). IAM is the spin department/think tank (setting up lobbying events). It’s just using Dolby (above) as a “model” example by which to drive the agenda. IAM and IBM are often on the same wavelength; both are patent maximalists that want the public to think that patents and innovation are the same thing and only patent litigation (or ‘monetisation’) is the fulfillment of a patent.

The Patent Trolls’ Lobby (IAM) Already Pressures Andrei Iancu, Inciting a USPTO Director Against PTAB

Tuesday 13th of March 2018 11:17:01 AM

Some of these people enjoy a revolving doors-type career, with lobbying too in the mix

Summary: Suspicions that Iancu might destroy the integrity of the Office for the sake of the litigation ‘industry’ may be further reaffirmed by the approach towards patent maximalists from IAM, who also participated in the shaming of his predecessor, Michelle Lee, and promoted a disgraced judge (and friend of patent trolls) for her then-vacant role

THE EPO is already being destroyed by a patent maximalist called Battistelli. The USPTO dodged the bullet when years ago it decided to improve rather than worsen patent quality. Pressure groups like AIPLA aren’t happy about it [1, 2, 3]; they’re adamantly against Section 101, AIA (IPRs/PTAB) and many other things. The same goes for opportunists like Anticipat, who as recently as yesterday promoted a so-called ‘webinar’ — a euphemism for lobbying — with AIPLA in it (Patent Docs promotes similar events).

“Remember that IAM is giving honours to scammers who combat PTAB.”More disturbing, however, was seeing Iancu liaising with the pro-software patents and pro-trolls Richard Lloyd. He’s the worst of the IAM bunch. It is a very bad sign that a new USPTO Director already speaks with and participates in events of the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM), which habitually copy-pastes communications from lobbyist David Kappos, a former USPTO Director. IAM brags about going to visit him in the US and the headline is the typical PTAB-bashing nonsense from IAM. To quote:

New USPTO Director Andrei Iancu has called for greater predictability in the US patent system and has admitted that there is a perception problem with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) among the IP community.

In his first interview with a specialist IP title since he took office in February, Iancu covered a wide range of topics including the need for greater guidance over patent eligible subject matter and concerns around the PTAB, but he consistently returned to the subject of predictability in a sign of what could become the defining feature of his time leading the agency.

That should provide some comfort for patent owners who have complained of the uncertainty in the system fuelled by the rise of inter partes reviews (IPRs) and a lack of clarity over Section 101 of the US patent statute.

Speaking to IAM on a crisp Friday afternoon from his top floor office at USPTO HQ in Northern Virginia, Iancu asserted that: “It is critically important to have predictable patent rights. If you have predictable patent rights then you have quality patent rights.”

Remember that IAM is giving honours to scammers who combat PTAB. IAM is far from an objective observer; it’s a front group masquerading as a publisher/media.

How about Patent Docs, whose patent maximalist Kevin Noonan has been slandering PTAB using talking points from scammers? How much damage do the Mohawk people want to inflict upon themselves with this patent scam of Allergan? Noonan has just penned this long post about Mohawk lawyers persisting, in spite of everyone being against it (US Senate, Federal courts, PTAB itself and a lot of pundits who rightly call this a “scam”). To quote:

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and Allergan filed a joint motion late last week before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), arguing that its Notice of Appeal divested the Board of jurisdiction over the inter partes review proceedings related to the Tribe’s patents obtained by assignment by Allergan, and thus that the Board can no longer proceed to Final Written Decision in any of these IPRs. In the alternative, the Tribe argues that the Board should suspend the IPRs under 37 C.F.R. § 42.5(a) pending Federal Circuit review, because “the issues raised in [these proceedings] are important matters of first impression not contemplated by the statutory scheme.”

PTAB hatred isn’t motivated by justice. Quite the contrary. It’s only motivated by greed and those who are behind it are typically patent trolls, aggressors, and their representatives. To think that Iancu gives them “time of day” is a little troubling; it would be better to stay as separate as possible from them.

Patent Trolls in the United States Increasingly Target Small Businesses Which Cannot Challenge Their Likely-Invalid Software Patents

Tuesday 13th of March 2018 10:31:42 AM

Most of the patent ‘assertion’ (shakedown) activity never becomes visible to the press/public

Summary: South by Southwest (SXSW Conference/Festivals in Austin, Texas) has a presentation about patent trolls, whose general message may be reaffirmed by recent legal actions in Texas and outside Texas

THE reforms leading to stricter examination at the USPTO (it’s a lot harder to get software patents these days, let alone enforce them) has paid off for large companies. They very often beat trolls in court. That in its own right is a deterrent. But what happens when these trolls manage to avoid the courts and even PTAB altogether?

There’s this new presentation this week (yesterday) that notes the following. Slide 16 says:

A shift in troll activity?

From high-profile cases against large entities with large damage demands…

… to large numbers of low-profile letters and lawsuits against small/medium size companies more likely to settle for nuisance value.

Still within the top three issues for startups.

Why did this new presentation (from a law firm together with Engine presenting some data) titled “The Persistence of Patent Trolls in Tech” get twisted (by patent maximalists) as “Is There Still a Patent Troll Problem”? They continue to attempt to deny that there is a problem because they themselves are connected to patent trolls.

Earlier today we found this new report about fraudulent lawsuits:

A New Jersey sports memorabilia dealer on Friday asked a federal judge for attorneys’ fees as sanctions following the Federal Circuit’s ruling that a payment processor’s suit seeking a declaration it didn’t infringe the dealer’s purported interactive software patents was frivolous.

In a motion, Eric Inselberg and his company, Inselberg Interactive LLC, said payments processor First Data Corp.’s unsuccessful action was filed in bad faith because Inselberg didn’t even own the patents at issue…

It is far from the first time we see this being done; we covered more such examples as recently as a couple of months back. Should it not be considered a crime (such as blackmail) to assert rights that you know you don’t have?

There are other new stories this week, as well as old ones such as Watchtroll covering one week late how InterDigital bought Technicolor's patents on the cheap.

The Texas-based Portal Communications sued Apple in the Eastern District of Texas. Looks like a patent troll to us, having covered it over the weekend, based on an Apple advocacy site. Here’s WIPR‘s coverage, which frames this as a ‘monetisation’ effort (a technical person passing the patents to a litigation front):

The three patents, US numbers 7,376,645; 7,873,654; and 8,150,872, are all called “Multimodal natural language query system and architecture for processing voice and proximity-based queries”.

According to the claim, the patents were developed by inventor Dave Bernard and were assigned to Portal Communications.

Why isn’t Bernard himself suing? It seems to have become so common to just sue through shells, some of which don’t even have an office, just some registration somewhere (typically LLC). There’s another lawsuit against Apple in the headlines, such as ParkerVision, Inc. v Apple Inc. et al in Docket Navigator. Yesterday it wrote about litigation-friendly places/venues (such as the Eastern District of Texas above) being dodged by defendants. After TC Heartland businesses will likely decide to abandon presence in venues that sought to attract patent trolls. As the Docket Report put it:

The court overruled defendant’s objection to the magistrate judge’s recommendation to deny its motion to transfer for improper venue because defendant had a regular and established place of business in the district through its office that closed a few weeks before plaintiff filed suit.

It’s worth noting that the above case isn’t in Texas, which already lost more than half of its 'share' in lawsuits (right after TC Heartland). States that harbour trolls will soon discover that they also repel actual companies which employ locals; more so after TC Heartland. Better fix/amend their state policies?

EPO Staff Union Organises Protest to Complain About Inability “of the Office to Recruit the Highly Qualified Staff it Needs.”

Tuesday 13th of March 2018 09:59:21 AM

Recruitment barely seems to be a priority (except scabs) as internal gossips suggest layoffs are on the way

Summary: Having already targeted union leaders and staff representatives, the EPO may soon be going after those whom they passionately represented and the staff union (SUEPO) wants the Administrative Council to be aware

THE national delegates will soon come (as they do quarterly) to the EPO and SUEPO has just announced that “SUEPO Munich calls for a demonstration on the first day of the upcoming meeting of the Administrative Council on Wednesday 21 March at 12:30h in front of the Isar building. The aim of the demonstration is to appeal to the Council not to accept proposed changes in the working conditions that will hamper the ability of the Office to recruit the highly qualified staff it needs.”

Hopefully a lot of staff will attend. Battistelli is already attempting to compel delegates to pass rule changes that facilitate immediate mass layoffs.

Battistelli Likes to Describe His Critics as ‘Nazis’, Team UPC Will Attempt the Same Thing Against UPC Critics

Tuesday 13th of March 2018 08:29:39 AM

Related: Team UPC Calls Critics of the UPC Idiots, Deletes Their Comments, and Blocks Them (they also call UPC critics “trolls”)

Summary: Demonising one’s opposition or framing it as “fascist” is a classic trick; to what degree will Team UPC exploit such tactics?

THE “Nazi” theme at the EPO is unfortunately a frequently-occurring one. It’s not because of the staff but because of Team Battistelli. The Conservative politician, Battistelli, has the audacity to tell French politicians (on the record even) that his opponents are “Nazis”. SUEPO, the witch-hunted judge and others are just being painted with the “Nazi” brush. Sick ‘revenge’ for the anonymous letter comparing Lutz to a Nazi? Never mind the inconvenient truth that the roots of EPO aren't too far apart from Nazism?

Either way, we are beginning to see a pattern. We hoped it would stop or go away, but it’s not. As expected, Team UPC is attempting to frame opposition to UPC as a “Nazi” or “alt right” thing. Bristows did this. Now another UPC booster does it by writing: “Parliamentary debate on German acts implementing UPC and UP forced by German alt right and anti-EU party AfD to take place on 15/3 at 5:35pm as last agenda point of that day. Result should be in official minutes and Plenarprotokoll available the next day.”

Some sources of ours already warned that such desperate tactics may sooner or later be attempted. Either painting UPC sceptics as Eurosceptics or something even worse.

JUVE’s editor, who recently associated UPC opposition with AfD, is now giving Battistelli a platform in which Battistelli is lying again (about UPC). It’s that same old “real soon now” and “later this year” — something they have repeatedly done for many years. To quote the article: (in German only)

Benoît Battistelli ist überzeugt: Das UPC und damit das EU-Patent kommt schon bald. Er erwarte erste Anmeldungen von EU-Patenten bereits Ende 2018, spätestens aber Anfang 2019, sagte der Präsident des Europäischen Patentamtes (EPA) anlässlich der Jahrespressekonferenz. Am Mittwoch legte das EPA in Brüssel die Zahlen für 2017 vor. Demnach stiegen sowohl die Anzahl angemeldeter als auch die der erteilten Patente auf ein Rekordniveau.

Watch out for these dirty tactics of false prophecies and comparing one’s opposition to Nazis. It’ll probably intensify later this week. It wouldn’t shock us if Team UPC at one point attempted to paint the complainant as part of some Nazi/Russian plot, seeing (or hearing) that they’re already spreading false rumours about someone secretly funding that complaint.

Session in Bavaria to Discuss the Abuses of the European Patent Office Later Today

Tuesday 13th of March 2018 08:09:52 AM

Summary: The EPO shambles in Munich have gotten the attention of more Bavarian politicians, more so in light of the Constitutional complaint against the UPC (now dealt with by the German FCC, which saw merit in the complaint)

LATER today Bavarian politicians will talk about EPO scandals.

This comes only days after EPO management wasted a lot of money flooding/dominating the media — German media included — with spin.

“Why does the EPO still fall for the CRISPR monopolies that even the USPTO rejects?”Having significantly lowered patent quality and granted patents at a pace several times greater than applications come in (creating a massive deficit/shortage of work), such spin is crucial to them because layoffs are on the way and they want to somehow justify these or claim these to be a “necessary evil” (no such thing).

Recall the propaganda patterns found in the latest annual report, which we covered in the following posts: (there have been some more puff pieces about it since, but we’re just ignoring them because they’re not unique in any way)

“As I said before,” one person told us, “the EPO has an insane and counterproductive pricing model. It should be free to have your patent granted, but to be denied the patent should cost a bundle. The incentives now are completely backwards.”

“It’s a problem for many firms and applicants who obtained EPs over the past few decades (when examination was still strict).”I responded with: “Because of who it’s designed to “serve and protect”: Siemens, Philips etc. (while discouraging SMEs and always pretending to cherish SMEs and “inventors”)…”

“For the first time ever,” I told the EPO after it had posted this (yesterday), the EPO is “said to be laying off staff [...] after Battistelli destroyed the Office and quality of EPs…”

Why does the EPO still fall for the CRISPR monopolies that even the USPTO rejects? We wrote about that yesterday and so did The Scientist. There was also this new announcement yesterday:

Kuros announced today that its Dutch subsidiary, Kuros Biosciences BV, has been granted the European patent, EP3021878, entitled “Method for producing an osteoinductive calcium phosphate and products thus obtained” by the European Patent Office (EPO).

We often wonder how many companies and organisations are aware of the decline in quality — and thus devaluation — of European Patents (EPs). It’s a problem for many firms and applicants who obtained EPs over the past few decades (when examination was still strict).

Links 12/3/2018: Linux 4.16 RC5, KEXI 3.1, Karton 1.0, Netrunner 18.03, Debian 9.4

Monday 12th of March 2018 08:15:02 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Things you’ll need when seeking GNU/Linux support online

      You broke something. Congratulations! You’re one of the millions of people across the globe, who have broken their system, perhaps without having any clue whatsoever about how you even did it…

      Okay, so, you’ve tried some searches online, you’ve asked your other computer savvy friends, and you’ve also dug out your favourite hammer – just incase you need to break something. Being real though, there’s many times where you may need to seek out help online using forums, IRC, or mailing lists.

    • 4 Linux-forward schools

      It’s well known that there’s a shortage of qualified candidates to fill IT jobs. Employers are urgently looking for people to fill DevOps, development, sysadmin, and other IT roles—especially employees with experience in the cloud, web technologies, and Linux—to manage the infrastructure powering their businesses.

      According to the Linux Foundation, more than 1 million courses in Linux and open source software have been taken by aspiring IT pros through its partnership with EdX. But to meet the IT workforce’s demands for skilled employees now and in the future, we need to start preparing people a lot earlier in life—in pre-K through 12th grade (PK-12) schools.

    • Chromebooks Get Better Support for External Displays, Floating Virtual Keyboard

      More and more Chrome OS feature surface these days, and today we’re glad to inform our readers that Chromium evangelist at Google François Beaufort shared details about two new upcoming enhancements.

    • Microsoft Helps Get A Computer Recycler Sentenced To 15 Months In Prison For Offering Unapproved Recovery Disks

      To ensure no good deed goes unpunished, Microsoft is trying to get a computer recycler tossed in prison because he almost provided Windows recovery disks to users who needed them. Eric Lundgren, who’s made heroic efforts to prevent dangerous computer parts from filling landfills, is facing a 15-month sentence and a $50,000 fine for manufacturing 28,000 recovery disks. His sentence is based on two charges: conspiracy and copyright infringement.

      Tom Jackman has the whole story at the Washington Post and it’s half-tragedy, half-farce. Lundgren runs a company that prevents tens of millions of pounds of harmful chemicals and metals from ending up in landfills. In return for doing more than his part to save the planet, he’ll gets a chance to spend a year in jail and hand Microsoft $50,000 in compensation for sales it never “lost” from recovery discs he never got a chance to distribute.

    • Best Laptop

      The ThinkPad began life at IBM, but in 2005, it was purchased by Lenovo along with the rest of IBM’s PC business. Lenovo evolved the line, and today the company is well known as a geek favorite. Lenovo’s ThinkPads are quiet, fast and arguably have one of the best keyboards (fighting words!). Linux Journal readers say Lenovo’s Linux support is excellent, leaving many to ponder why the company doesn’t ship laptops with Linux installed.

    • Best Linux Desktop Environment
  • Server/Containers
  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.15.9
    • Linux 4.14.26
    • Linux 4.9.87
    • Linux 4.4.121
    • Linux 3.18.99
    • Linux 4.16-rc5

      This continue to be pretty normal – this rc is slightly larger than
      rc4 was, but that looks like one of the normal fluctuations due to
      timing of pull requests, not due to anything distressing. In
      particular, this past week we had both a networking pull and a drm
      pull, which accounts for a fait chunk of it all.

      In addition to the networking updates (both drivers and core
      networking) and the drm stuff (mainly some amdgpu display handling
      updates), there’s the usual arch fixes (mostly x86 this time -
      microcode handling and some syscall cleanups) and various random
      driver fixes (rdma, md, scsi, watchdog). Plus some misc stuff:
      filesystems (overlayfs, xfs) some core kernel code, and tooling
      (mainly perf and selftests).

      Nothing particular stands out, the appended shortlog gives a flavor of
      the details.


    • Linux 4.16-rc5 Kernel Released

      Development on the Linux 4.16 kernel continues moving along smoothly and tonight the 4.16-rc5 kernel is released.

    • The Big AMDKFD Change Set For Linux 4.17 Has Been Submitted

      Oded Gabbay sent in his pull request today of the AMDKFD driver updates targeting the Linux 4.17 kernel. Notably this includes the long-awaited dGPU support in inching AMD/GPUOpen ROCm compute support with OpenCL off a mainline kernel for select discrete GPUs.

      Most significant with this AMDKFD (AMD Kernel Fusion Driver) changes for Linux 4.17 is the discrete Radeon GPU support for initialization and queue handling. Unfortunately though it ended up being incomplete as the GPUVM support is still missing due to that code still being discussed by developers. Additionally, Vega compute support isn’t yet ready for mainline AMDKFD.

    • Linux 4.17 Will Be Another Exciting Kernel Cycle

      While the Linux 4.16 kernel release is still three weeks or so away, the Linux 4.17 kernel is already shaping up to be another exciting cycle.

    • Graphics Stack
      • OpenChrome KMS Can Now Do Runtime Resolution Changes, Hopes To Go Mainline In 2018

        The OpenChrome KMS/DRM driver can finally handle run-time resolution changes without crashing. The developer now hopes to be able to mainline this driver into the Linux kernel in 2018.

        OpenChrome KMS previously has been unable to handle run-time resolution changes without crashing the X.Org Server, but now this kernel mode-setting driver can do so. After previously battling a standby resume problem for OpenChrome KMS and now tackling this screen resolution change crash, developer Kevin Brace is now able to get by without regular crashes to his computer. This now puts the OpenChrome KMS support about on-par with the DDX driver’s user-space mode-setting support.

      • OpenChrome DRM Driver To Work On New GEM/TTM Code, Regression Fixes

        Now that the OpenChrome DRM driver is hoping to go mainline in 2018 now that it can handle run-time resolution changes without crashing the X.Org Server, the project’s lone developer Kevin Brace has published a TODO list of other code changes he has planned prior to getting this open-source VIA x86 graphics driver into the mainline Linux kernel.

      • David Airlie Moves Toward Upstreaming Soft FP64 Support In Mesa

        There’s been work going on for years of “soft” FP64 support to allow emulated support for the double-precision floating-point data types for GPUs not otherwise inherently supporting this capability. The soft support would allow for some older GPUs to then advertise OpenGL 4.0+ support now that ARB_gpu_shader_fp64 support could be enabled. That day looks like it’s finally coming for mainline Mesa.

      • Vulkan WSI Support Is The Latest Being Worked On For Wine

        Following more Wine Vulkan code being merged and the first milestone being achieved of vulkaninfo working, Roderick Colenbrander has submitted his latest patches in the bring-up of Vulkan support under Wine.

      • This Cryptocoin Miner Uses GPU Heat To Warm Up Your Room

        Now, a French startup Qarnot has added way new name to the list: a crypto heater. Yes, you heard that right. The heater, called QC1, can warm up your room while its mines crypto coins. To do so, it houses two Sapphire Nitro + Radeon GPU RX 580 GPUs with 8GB VRAM each.

      • NVIDIA 390.42 Linux Driver Released

        NVIDIA has just published the 390.42 Linux graphics driver as their latest maintenance update in this long-lived driver series.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Evolving KDE – IRC office hour for your questions and ideas

        KDE has set the focus on 3 goals around improved usability and productivity, privacy and easier onboarding of new contributors to KDE. On Thursday (15. March 2018) we are going to hold an office hour. During the office hour you can ask all your questions around these goals and tell us about your ideas for pushing them forward. We will be meeting in the channel #kde on freenode IRC at 16:00 UTC. We hope to see many of you there.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 9

        KDE contributors continue to polish up KDE software! In addition to our recent work on Discover, KDE Plasma and other apps got a lot of love too, especially Konsole. See for yourself!

      • Improving Syntax Highlighting Files

        When building the KSyntaxHighlighting framework, the syntax highlighting xml files are compiled into the KSyntaxHighlighting library. I order to do so, we have a small little helper program that generates an index of all xml files. This indexer also validates the xml files against the XML Schema, and performs some more sanity checks.

      • Plasma Mobile – A grain of hope in a sandstorm of despair

        I am really happy that Plasma Mobile exists. It’s a natural continuation of an excellent desktop environment. But the technicals have never been a problem. Not so with Ubuntu or any other operating system. That’s never the issue. The app ecosystem is all that matters. And that will take monumental effort and investment to achieve, if ever.

        The early tech demonstrator is an interesting project, but it’s not dazzling enough yet to create sufficient interest in Plasma as a mobile platform. Matching the rivals is a zero-sum game. People already have Android and iOS. Those needs are met. But perhaps, Plasma Mobile can do more? After all, a tiny hobbyist kernel created in early 90s became the powerhouse of the modern Internet and cloud infrastructure. It’s difficult to predict how well will Plasma Mobile do. Let’s hope it will be more than a checkbox on an enthusiasm sheet of dashed hopes. Full power on, engage.

      • KEXI 3.1 Brings Database Application Building to Windows

        If you are looking for a Free and open source alternative to Microsoft Access, KEXI is the right tool for you.

      • KEXI 3.1 Released As Open-Source/Free Alternative To Microsoft Access

        …over 200 bug fixes and more comprising this new KDE software package release.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Karton 1.0 Released For Running Linux Programs on macOS & Other Distros/Architectures

        Karton is a Docker-based solution for running Linux programs on macOS or other Linux distributions as well as different architectures.

        Karton makes use of Docker in making it easy to deploy a Linux distribution and then what package(s) to install and then what directories to make available to the host operating system. Karton makes the containers semi-persistent and easy to handle for a smooth experience short of configuring Docker yourself.

      • Karton 1.0

        By using Docker, Karton manages semi-persistent containers with easy to use automatic folder sharing and lots of small details which make the experience smooth. You shouldn’t notice you are using command line programs from a different OS or distro.

      • GNOME 3.28 Is Being Released This Next Week With Many Features & Improvements

        Assuming no last minute snafu, the GNOME 3.28 desktop environment will see its official release happen on 14 March, incorporating the past six months worth of improvements to this open-source desktop stack.

        There have been many improvements to GNOME 3.28, many of the changes we find most exciting have been outlined below.

        - Improvements to the Wayland support have continued with the Mutter compositor becoming quite solid with its Wayland support with additions this cycle like the GTK text input protocol and XWayland keyboard grabbing. When Mutter is acting as a Wayland compositor, among other changes, it now supports GBM with modifiers to support tiling and compression of scanout surfaces.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Review: Sabayon and Antergos

        Sabayon is a Gentoo-based distribution which is available in many desktop editions as well as a server edition. Sabayon strives to provide a working system out-of-the-box, saving the user a lot of time when it comes to configuring the operating system. Sabayon provides several categories of installation media. The project uses a rolling release model and the distribution’s many editions are provided in Stable, Monthly and Daily snapshots. It has been about a year since the last Stable set of installation media was produced and so I decided to explore one of the monthly snapshots.

        I began with the MATE edition of Sabayon’s Monthly snapshot, a 2GB download which I confirmed downloaded properly using the distribution’s checksums. Booting from the live media brought up a menu asking if we would like to start a live desktop environment, launch a text-based installer, start in safe mode or launch a live text console. I was surprised when taking the live desktop option booted the distribution to a text console and showed me a login prompt.

    • New Releases
      • Netrunner 18.03 Idolon

        Netrunner 18.03 ships the latest packages from Debian’s Testing Snapshot repository.

        From 18.03 onwards, we also decided to include even more packages directly from upstream, so it will be most compatible when enabling the continously updating testing repo.

      • KDE-Focused Netrunner 18.03 Linux Distribution Released

        Netrunner 18.03 “Idolon” has been released as the latest version of this KDE-focused desktop Linux distribution derived from Debian’s testing repository.

      • Netrunner 18.03 ‘Idolon’ Debian-based Linux distribution available for download

        For those converting from Windows, one great choice is Netrunner. This is a Debian-based operating system that leverages the KDE Plasma desktop environment. It is very reminiscent of the much-loved Windows 7. The OS comes pre-loaded with a lot of useful software, and Linux beginners will really benefit from that. Today, a new version of the distro becomes available for download — Netrunner 18.03 Idolon.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • Closing the open source skills gap

        South Africa is a skills-hungry country. In fact, according to Adzuna, the rarest skills are in the digital and technology sectors, where demand is far outstripping supply – and according to SUSE – that is exactly what the industry is seeing when it comes to open source skills.

        According to Matthew Lee, regional manager for SUSE Africa: “There is a massive skills gap and demand for open source skills such as cloud, application development and DevOps locally – and especially as more businesses move towards digital transformation.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Biboumi – A XMPP – IRC Gateway

        IRC is a communication mode (technically a communication protocol) used by many Free Software projects for communication and collaboration. It is serving these projects well even 30 years after its inception. Though I’m pretty much okay with IRC I had a problem of not able to use IRC from the mobile phones. Main problem is the inconsistent network connection, where IRC needs always to be connected. This is where I came across Biboumi.

        Biboumi by itself does not have anything to do with mobile phones, its just a gateway which will allow you to connect with IRC channel as if it is a XMPP MUC room from any XMPP client. Benefit of this is it allows to enjoy some of XMPP feature in your IRC channel (not all but those which can be mapped).

        I run Biboumi with my ejabbered instance and there by now I can connect to some of the Debian IRC channel directly from my phone using Conversations XMPP client for Android.

        Biboumi is packaged for Debian, though I’m co-maintainer of the package most hardwork is done by Jonas Smedegaard in keeping the package in shape. It is also available for stretch-backports (though slightly outdated as its not packaged by us for backports).

      • Debian Project Leader Elections 2018: Candidate

        We’re now into the campaigning period. We have 1 candidates this year: Chris Lamb

      • Debian Project Leader Elections 2018 Has One Candidate

        The nomination period for the Debian Project Leader 2018 elections is now over and Chris Lamb is the only one nominated this year after having nominated himself this weekend. The campaign period is now active through the end of the month while the DPL voting will take place for the first two weeks of April.

      • webkitgtk in Debian Stretch: Report Card

        webkitgtk is the GTK+ port of WebKit. webkitgtk provides web functionality for many things including GNOME Online Accounts’ login panels; Evolution’s HTML email editor and viewer; and the engine for the Epiphany web browser (also known as GNOME Web).

        Last year, I announced here that Debian 9 “Stretch” included the latest version of webkitgtk (Debian’s package is named webkit2gtk). At the time, I hoped that Debian 9 would get periodic security and bugfix updates. Nine months later, let’s see how we’ve been doing.

      • Debian LTS work, February 2018

        I was assigned 15 hours of work by Freexian’s Debian LTS initiative and worked 13 hours. I will carry over 2 hours to March.

        I made another release on the Linux 3.2 longterm stable branch (3.2.99) and started the review cycle for the next update (3.2.100). I rebased the Debian package onto 3.2.99 but didn’t upload an update to Debian this month.

      • Debian 9.4 Stretch GNU/Linux Released With 150+ Fixes: Update Now

        One of the great things about using a popular Linux distro is that you keep getting timely upgrades, which ensure that you’re running a secure operating system. The same holds true for Debian GNU/Linux, whose development team keeps offering regular updates. Just a couple of days ago, the team pushed the fourth point release of Debian 9 “stretch.”

        For those who don’t know, Debian 9.0 series is an LTS edition, and it’ll remain supported for the next five years.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 9.4 “Stretch” Point Release Brings More Than 70 Security Fixes

        The Debian Project announced over the weekend the release of the fourth maintenance update to the stable Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series.

        Debian GNU/Linux 9.4 “Stretch” comes three months after the 9.3 point release and brings more than 70 security fixes and 89 miscellaneous bugfixes for various core components or other packages available in the main software repositories of the Linux-based operating system. However, the Debian Project warns that this point release doesn’t represent a new version of Debian Stretch.

        “This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories have already been published separately and are referenced where available. Please note that the point release does not constitute a new version of Debian 9 but only updates some of the packages included,” reads the release announcement.

      • Debian 9.4 released
      • Derivatives
        • SparkyLinux 5.3 Rolling Linux OS Debuts Based on Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster”

          SparkyLinux currently comes in two flavors, Stable and Rolling, and while the former is based on the most recent stable release of the Debian GNU/Linux operating system, the latter is usually using the software repositories of Debian Testing. In this case, SparkyLinux 5.3 is based on the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster” OS.

          The SparkyLinux 5 Rolling series hasn’t been updated since last December, and the new release brings a recent kernel from the Linux 4.15 series, namely version 4.15.4, the latest stable Calamares 3.1.12 graphical installer, support for the Btrfs and XFS filesystems, and all the latest updates from the Debian Buster repos as of March 7, 2018.

        • Debian-Based Netrunner Linux OS Gets New Stable Release with KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS

          Netrunner currently offers to branches, Stable and Rolling, the latter being based on Arch Linux and allowing users to install once and receive updates forever, which means that’s designed more for bleeding-edge users than those who prefer to use a very stable and reliable operating system on their personal computers.

          Dubbed “Idolon,” Netrunner 18.03 comes as an upgrade to last year’s Netrunner 17.10 “Voyager” release and brings up-to-date components, including the latest Linux 4.14 LTS kernel, KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS desktop environment, LibreOffice 6.0.2 office suite, Firefox 58.0.1 “Quantum” web browser, and Thunderbird 52.6.0 email client

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • New Ubuntu Installs Could Be Speed Up by 10% with the Zstd Compression Algorithm

            Developed by Yann Collet at Facebook, zstd is an open-source lossless data compression algorithm designed to offer fast real-time compression and decompression speeds, even faster than xz or gzip. Zstd supports up to 19 compression levels, offering a 2.877 compression ratio with up to 430 MB/s compression and 1110 MB/s decompression speeds.

            Julian Andres Klode and Balint Reczey report that they managed to increase the speed of a standard Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) 64-bit installation by about 10 percent with a zstd configuration set at max level 19. Even better, the install speed was increased by about 40 percent when the “eatmydata” library designed to disable fsync and related packages was involved.

          • Ubuntu Installs Made 10% Faster Using Facebook Tech

            If you long to install Ubuntu a little bit faster help it at hand thanks to some nifty open-source tech developed by Facebook.

            Using Zstandard (zstd), a ‘lossless data compression algorithm’ developed by Facebook, Ubuntu developers have been able to speed up Ubuntu installs by 10%.

            While Zstd is primarily designed for use in “real-time compression scenarios” it is able to unpack packages during an Ubuntu install faster than current compression tools Xz and Gzip do.

          • Canonical Working On Zstd-Compressed Debian Packages For Ubuntu

            Support for Zstd-compressed Debian packages was worked on last week by some Canonical/Ubuntu developers and already by the end of the year they are looking at potentially using it by default.

            Zstd is the compression algorithm out of Facebook that has been attracting a fair amount of interest in the Linux/open-source space due to its higher decompression speeds that can trump XZ or Gzip.

          • Keeping Governance Simple and Uncomplicated

            We did this in Ubuntu. We started with some core governance boards (the Community Council, focused on community policy and the Technical Council focused on technical policy). The rest of the extensive governance structure came as Ubuntu grew significantly. Our goal was always to keep things as lightweight as possible.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Beta 1 Released for Participating Flavors

            Ahoy, Beavers! The first beta builds of the Ubuntu 18.04 release cycle have been released and are available to download.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Rant launches Eric Raymond’s next project: open-source the UPS

    In February, Eric S Raymond ranted that the Uninterruptible Power Supply market was overdue for open source disruption, and touch so many nerves around the world that the rant has become a project.

    Last week, ESR opened up the work-in-progress on GitLab: the Upside project is currently defining requirements and developing a specification for a “high quality UPS that can be built from off-the-shelf arts in any reasonably well-equipped makerspace or home electronics shop”.

    ESR’s original post, “UPSes suck and need to be disrupted”, set down his own complaints about what’s sold to consumer/SOHO users: batteries with “so little deep-cycle endurance” that they can’t last beyond a few years, and whose dwell-time is oversold by vendors.

  • [Older]UPSes suck and need to be disrupted

    I use a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) to protect the Great Beast of Malvern from power outages and lightning strikes. Every once in a while I have to buy a replacement UPS and am reminded of how horribly this entire product category sucks. Consumer-grade UPSes suck, SOHO UPSs suck, and I am reliably informed by my friends who run datacenters that no, you cannot ascend into a blissful upland of winnitude by shelling out for expensive “enterprise-grade” UPSes – they all suck too.

  • Eric S Raymond Taking To Working On An Open Hardware / Open-Source UPS

    ESR is very unhappy with the state of UPS power supplies and he is hoping for an open-source, easily buildable design could change the landscape. At the moment the focus is on just pushing out the PCB schematics and design for such a unit with users left to build the UPS yourself, but he has said he wouldn’t mind if some startup or other company ends up making use of these open-source plans to bring a better UPS to market.

  • Eric Raymond’s New UPS Project, Ubuntu’s Bionic Beaver 18.04 Beta Released, Kernel Prepatch 4.16-rc5 and More

    The Upside project is hosted on GitLab and “is currently defining requirements and developing a specification for a ‘high quality UPS that can be built from off-the-shelf parts in any reasonably well-equipped makerspace or home electronics shop’.”

  • Events
    • Nordic Free Software Award reborn

      Remember the glorious year 2009 when I won the Nordic Free Software Award?

    • foss-north – the count down

      This is the last day left of the Call for Papers for foss-north 2018. With the help of our great sponsors we have the opportunity to transport you to our conference if you are selected to speak. Make sure to make your submission before March 11 and you are in the race.

    • CoderGals Hackathon

      CoderGals Hackathon was organized for the first time in my country. This event took place in the beautiful city of Prizren. This hackathon held for 24 to 48 hours, was an idea which started from two girls majoring in Computer Science, Qendresa and Albiona Hoti.

    • 3rd Annual Postgres Vision Conference to Assemble Innovators in Open Source Data Management

      Postgres Vision, the premier database industry event dedicated to exploring the application of Postgres in mission critical environments and digital business, is returning to Boston. Postgres Vision 2018 will take place June 5-6, 2018, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, located on the picturesque Charles River.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Rust Gets A 2018 Roadmap, Big “Productivity” Edition Planned This Year

        The developers behind the Rust programming language have put out a road-map for the year as well as details on the forthcoming “Rust 2018″ Edition that succeeds the 1.x release series.

      • Rust’s 2018 roadmap

        Each year the Rust community comes together to set out a roadmap. This year, in addition to the survey, we put out a call for blog posts in December, which resulted in 100 blog posts written over the span of a few weeks. The end result is the recently-merged 2018 roadmap RFC.

      • This Week In Servo 107

        In the last week, we merged 85 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

        Congratulations to waywardmonkeys for their new mandate to review and maintain the low-level harfbuzz bindings, and their work to create safe higher-level bindings!

      • Cameron Kaiser: TenFourFox FPR6 available

        TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 6 is now available for testing (downloads, hashes, release notes). Other than finishing the security patches and adding a couple more entries to the basic adblock, there are no other changes in this release. Assuming no issues, it will become live Monday evening Pacific time as usual.

        The backend for the main download page at Floodgap has been altered such that the Downloader is now only offered to browsers that do not support TLS 1.2 (this is detected by checking for a particular JavaScript math function Math.hypot, the presence of which I discovered roughly correlates with TLS 1.2 support in Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Safari and Firefox/TenFourFox). This is to save bandwidth on our main server since those browsers are perfectly capable of downloading directly from SourceForge and don’t need the Downloader to help them. This is also true of Leopard WebKit, assuming the Security framework update is also installed.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Microsoft headlined a major Linux conference

      Earlier today (March 10th, 2018), Microsoft delivered the headlining keynote of the Southern California Linux Expo — one of the largest Linux and Free Software conferences in the world. I repeat: Microsoft. Headlined. A Linux Festival. It was confusing to many. And Microsoft did not disappoint… they managed to say some distinctly anti-Open Source things in their 1 hour on stage.

    • OPC UA and TSN: Open License and Evaluation Kit
    • GNU Automake 1.16 released

      We are pleased to announce the GNU Automake 1.16 minor release.

      This release follows 1.15.1 which was made 8 months ago.

      See below for the detailed list of changes since the previous version, as summarized by the NEWS file.

    • My Affidavit in the Geniatech vs. McHardy Case

      As many people know, last week there was a court hearing in the Geniatech vs. McHardy case. This was a case brought claiming a license violation of the Linux kernel in Geniatech devices in the German court of OLG Cologne.

      Harald Welte has written up a wonderful summary of the hearing, I strongly recommend that everyone go read that first.

      In Harald’s summary, he refers to an affidavit that I provided to the court. Because the case was withdrawn by McHardy, my affidavit was not entered into the public record. I had always assumed that my affidavit would be made public, and since I have had a number of people ask me about what it contained, I figured it was good to just publish it for everyone to be able to see it.

    • GNU developer abandons action against Geniatech

      Former Linux developer Patrick McHardy dropped his Gnu General Public License version 2 (GPLv2) violation case against Geniatech in a German court this week.

      Some are seeing the case as a victory for those who want to convince companies to mend their ways and honour their GPLv2 legal requirements.

      Normally if a developer is hacked off with an outfit ignoring the GPU legal arrangements he or she asks the Free Software Foundation, Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), and the Software Freedom Law Center to approach violators. But these groups tend to lean on companies to get their act together rather than suing them for lots of cash.

      McHardy, however, after talking with SFC, dropped out from this diplomatic approach and went his own way. In fact, McHardy was accused of seeking financial gain by approaching numerous companies in German courts.

    • The Noble Volunteer (Again)

      I have written about how the Python Software Foundation raises and spends money before. For the most part, nothing has changed since then: the PSF appears to raise and then spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year (apparently down from over $300000 in 2016 to under $250000 in 2017, though), directing this money mostly towards events and promotion. In fact, the largest contribution to core-related Python software development in 2017 was actually from the Mozilla Open Source Support programme, with a $170000 grant to fix up the Python Package Index infrastructure. So the PSF is clearly comfortable leaving it to others to fund the P in PSF.

      Lots of people depend on the Python Package Index, but like with Free Software in general, the people making good money while leaning on these common, volunteer-run resources never seem to pitch in significantly themselves. It is true that the maintainer of this resource was allowed to work on it as his day job, but then got “downsized”, and now works in a role where he can work on it again but only as part of his day job. But I imagine that the people at Mozilla, some of whom have connections to the world of Python packaging, quite possibly relying on the package infrastructure to get their own stuff done, were getting fed up with “volunteers” as being the usual excuse for nothing getting done.

  • Programming/Development
    • Student Applications For GSoC 2018 Now Open

      If you are a university student and would like to pursue a career in Linux/open-source software development, a great way to get a jump-start on that is through Google’s annual Summer of Code program. Student applications for GSoC 2018 are now being accepted.

    • What’s new in LLVM

      The LLVM compiler framework has gone from being a technological curiosity to a vital piece of the modern software landscape. It is the engine behind the Clang compiler, as well as the compilers for the Rust and Swift languages, and provides a powerful toolkit for creating new languages.

      It is also a fairly fast-moving project, with major point revisions announced every six months or so. Version 6.0, released earlier this month, continues LLVM’s ongoing mission to deepen and broaden support for a variety of compilation targets. The update also adds many timely fixes to guard against recently discovered processor-level system attacks.

    • GitLab: 2018 is the year for open source and DevOps

      DevOps and open source aren’t slowing down anytime soon, a newly released report revealed. GitLab released its 2018 Global Developer Survey on developers’ perception of their workplace, workflow, and tooling within IT organizations.

      The demand for DevOps continues to grow, even though there are still challenges created by outdated tools and company resistance to change. According to the report, only 23 percent identify DevOps as their development methodology. However, IT management has named DevOps as one of the top three areas of investment in 2018, indicating that the number of DevOps adopters is sure to grow this year.

    • 11 considerations for picking the right technology

      There are myriad open source projects available for just about every component of a modern software stack—the array of choices can be dizzying, especially when starting from scratch or making many choices at once. With the above criteria in mind, however, you should be better equipped to think rationally about your needs and how each of your options might or might not suit them. Happy hunting!

  • Standards/Consortia
  • Science
    • Please Embed Bibliographic Data in Online Documents

      This isn’t a new concept. Most books published in recent years in the US contain Library of Congress cataloging information. Web pages and academic papers should, too. And there are plenty of standards to choose from; ideally, pick one.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • New IP-sharing framework to accelerate R&D

      Pharmaceutical R&D constantly leads to the generation of new intellectual property (IP), from clinical trial data to libraries of promising compounds. Not all IP assets generated by a company are used in their future R&D. When this happens, companies can choose instead to share them with other third-party researchers, under licensing agreements. The Access to Medicine Foundation has worked with BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) to develop a framework for identifying which IP assets are most difficult for companies to share, yet most likely to speed up R&D of the medicines and vaccines needed by people living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).


      The framework assesses 11 types of IP assets, all of which are valuable to product R&D for high-burden and priority diseases. The asset types are rated on a set of six criteria: 1) asset value to company; 2) risk to company; 3) effort for company; 4) asset value to researcher; 5) benefit to researcher; and 6) acceleration to market. Each asset type is given a weighting per criteria. The accumulated weights are used to place the asset type in one of three bands: assets in the ‘greatest’ category, for example, include those that pose a greater risk or effort to the company, but also have the greatest value to R&D that addresses global health needs.

    • Safety Breaches at US Meat Plants Spark Outcry in UK Over Possible Post-Brexit Trade Deal

      British food safety experts and lawmakers are raising concerns over a possible post-Brexit trade deal with the United States in light of newly-released records showing serious hygiene breaches in U.S. meat plants.

      “We cannot allow this to be a race to the bottom. We should insist the U.S. raises its standards, and guarantees food safety, before we are prepared to allow in U.S. meat imports,” said Kerry McCarthy, a former member of parliament and shadow environment minister.

      The outcry comes after U.S. government data showed several instances of safety failures at American packing plants, including the packaging of diseased poultry meat in containers used for food products and the discovery of fecal matter in meat bound for grocery stores.

      Health experts also raised alarm over a legal loophole that allows meat containing salmonella bacteria to be sold to Americans.

  • Security
    • Steep rise in malware threats to Mac: report

      Malware targeting Mac operating systems more than doubled from 2016 to 2017, according to a new report which reveals that in 2017 alone, Mac threats increased more than 270%.

    • Are Spectre and Meltdown just hype? [Ed: No!]

      Often, it’s the dramatic things that get our attention and what we see as a risk. We’re more scared of flying than of driving, and terrified of snakes and spiders when we’re more at risk from the common cold. So, do our fears lie in the right place?

      There has been much hype around the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities that emerged in January, a huge impact in the world of software vulnerabilities. While some of this is justified by the fact that those vulnerabilities affected a majority of all processors in the market, the reality is that this was just another vulnerability on top of all the others in the market, which security professionals need to assess and manage every day.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 87 – Chat with Let’s Encrypt co-founder Josh Aas
    • McAfee Security Experts Weigh-in Weirdly With “Fresh Kodi Warning”

      Something is not right in Tabloid Land. An article published this week in the The Express cites experts from McAfee talking about a “fresh Kodi warning” that “might stop you streaming illegally FOREVER.” Not only is no new threat even touched upon in the piece, but one of the McAfee experts thinks that Kodi “is a streaming site”.

    • Security firm says Sofacy is starting to target organizations in Middle East, Central Asia

      Kaspersky Lab researchers say that a hacking group widely believed to be linked to the Russian government has been executing cyberattacks against a new set of targets in the Far East, including military, defense and diplomatic organizations, according to a new report.

    • Masha and these Bears

      Sofacy, also known as APT28, Fancy Bear, and Tsar Team, is a prolific, well resourced, and persistent adversary. They are sometimes portrayed as wild and reckless, but as seen under our visibility, the group can be pragmatic, measured, and agile. Our previous post on their 2017 activity stepped away from the previously covered headline buzz presenting their association with previously known political hacks and interest in Europe and the US, and examines their under-reported ongoing activity in middle east, central asia, and now a shift in targeting further east, including China, along with an overlap surprise. There is much understated activity that can be clustered within this set and overlap in APT activity. Here, we examine current deployment, code, cryptography, and targeting.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Researchers find 29 types of USB attacks, recommend never plugging into a USB you don’t own
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Peter Thiel’s Palantir Wins $876 Million U.S. Army Contract

      Palantir will work with Raytheon Co. to replace the troubled Distributed Common Ground System now in effect. They beat out seven other proposals for a decade-long, $876 million contract, according to the U.S. Defense Department. Terms of the partnership between Palantir and Raytheon weren’t disclosed, and the companies didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

    • Peter Thiel’s data company Palantir will develop a new intelligence platform for the US Army

      The Army will pay Palantir and defense contractor Raytheon $876 million over the next decade to develop a replacement for the Distributed Common Ground System, says Bloomberg. That system is used by the various branches of the US military to interpret intelligence from a variety of platforms “spanning all echelons from space to mud,” according to the US Army.

    • Ode to America

      So much for the city on the hill. Narcissism has changed to nihilism and solipsism: “climate change isn’t real”, and the ravages of history continue down the rabbit hole of memory.

      Take another look. Genocide and chattel slavery. The war against Mexico, the quite uncivil war, the Spanish-American war, the massacres in the Philippines, the two World Wars. Dust off a book and check out the post-WWII carnage. Three million dead in Korea, three to five million dead in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. A million or more in Indonesia where our CIA handed out kill lists to Suharto’s regime. Untold atrocities in Nicaragua. Juntas and death squads covering South and Central America, trained at Fort Benning, Georgia. Hundreds of thousands dead in Afghanistan, a million or more in Iraq. Refugees numbered 65 million last year, with 20 million worldwide at risk of starvation.

    • Youth, Gun Control and the Pentagon

      To my astonishment, I began receiving daily news updates from the Pentagon, innocuously named the Early Bird Brief, about a month ago. One particularly perverse news brief warrants mention: the number of out-of shape and unfit youth is an imminent national security crisis—not because they matter for themselves—but because, as one writer put it, they are “too fat to fight.”

      According to a report commissioned by the Pentagon, 7 of 10, or more than 24 million young Americans between the ages of are 17 and 24, are not qualified or eligible to join the military because of inadequate education, overweight, poor health and criminal records.

      Let’s dig more deeply into this, particularly in the light of the Pentagon’s overfed budget while education, health and social services budgets are starved of funding, and in the face of evidence that our government cares more about weapons and wars than the health and well being of our children and youth.

    • Learning the Power of Protest, Confrontation and Collective Action, Where Will America’s Students Go from Here?

      After experiencing a terrifying attack on their school by a tragically unhinged former student armed with an assault-style rifle who killed 14 of their classmates and three teachers and seriously injured another 14, they didn’t retreat into fear and victimhood. Instead, they are taking to the streets, taking to buses to the state capital in Tallahassee, and are using social media to organize a national youth campaign to get assault weapons and large-capacity magazines banned.

      In refusing to be silenced by the National Rifle Assn. and political charlatans like Florida Sen. Marc Rubio or President Trump, or co-opted by Democratic politicians eager to use the issue of gun control to win points in next November’s congressional elections, these students and the tens of thousands of high school kids who have joined them across the country in states blue, red and purple, they have in one stroke revived the idea of mass political action.

    • Brexit means…more arms dealing to human rights abusers

      It was one year ago that a triumphant Theresa May proudly announced from Ankara, Turkey, that the UK is “open for business.”

      She had reason to be upbeat. The UK prime minister had just secured a £100m arms deal that meant lots of money for ‘defence’ and ‘security’ manufacturer BAE, and some positive headlines about the UK’s post-Brexit future. The deal, she said, “[would mark] the start of a new and deeper trading relationship.”

      May didn’t just use her visit to sell arms though. She also used it to reaffirm her support for the President Erdogan, who, by that point, had already instigated a crackdown that had seen thousands of public sector workers purged from their jobs.

      There was no shortage of information available to her about the state of human rights in Turkey. Six months prior to her visit, Amnesty International, and others, had extensively documented the return of torture and abuse in Turkish prisons.

    • Nuclear Contradictions, Hypocrisy and Absurdities

      Ronald Reagan, like Donald Trump, was a star—a famous actor—and also a well-known Republican foreign policy hawk with an aggressive nuclear weapons posture.

    • NBC’s Clueless Boost for Putin

      “Complete nonsense,” was Putin’s reply (“polniy chush” in Russian — chush ringing with onomatopoeia and a polite rendering of “B.S.”). Putin explained that “9/11 and the missile defense system are completely unrelated,” adding that even “housewives” are able to understand that. He found occasion to use “polniy chush” (or simply “chush) several times during the interview.


      After one interruption, Putin said, “You keep interrupting me; this is impolite.” Kelly apologized, but dutifully went on to cover what seemed to be the remainder of her accusatory talking points. These included repeated insistence that Putin punish the click-bait farmers indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for violating U.S. law.

      No doubt fully briefed on the fact that Kelly sports a law degree, Putin asked, “Do you have people with legal training? … We cannot even launch an investigation without cause. … Give us at least an official inquiry with a statement of facts; send us an official paper.”

      Kelly: “Isn’t it enough that U.S. intelligence agencies … and now a Special Prosecutor (sic) with a criminal indictment — is that not enough for you to look into it?”

      Putin: “Absolutely not. If you do not have legal training, I can assure you that an inquiry is required for this.”

      Kelly: “I do.”

      Putin: “Then you should understand that a corresponding official inquiry should be sent to the Prosecutor-General’s Office of the Russian Federation.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Man arrested over murder of Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh

      KT Naveen Kumar was arrested on suspicion of supplying the weapons used to kill Lankesh, according to a senior police officer, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to talk to media. More arrests are expected, he said.

      Lankesh, the editor and publisher of the Kannada-language newspaper Gauri Lankesh Patrike, was shot dead outside her home in Bengaluru in September.

      The murder of Lankesh, a staunch advocate of secularism and critic of right-wing political ideology, sparked protests across India.

    • Death of investigative journalist sparks mass protests in Slovakia

      Ján Kuciak and his fiancee, Martina Kušnírová, both 27, were found shot dead at their home near Bratislava on 25 February. Police have said Kuciak’s death was “most likely” related to an investigation of his that resulted in an article on alleged ties between Slovakia’s top politicians and the Italian mafia, which his employer posthumously published.

    • ‘Every place you go, you are being watched’: reporting from Xi’s China

      Days earlier, security forces had launched a now notorious “war on law” crackdown on human rights lawyers, rounding up hundreds of attorneys and activists, some of whom have yet to emerge from secret detention and have, supporters claim, been brutally tortured.

    • Assange Lashes Out: “Hypocritical Motherf*ckers… Remember How I Exposed Your Secret Deal With The Saudis”

      Assange – apparently not included in the UK’s definition of “free and independent media” (facing arrest and detention should he leave the Embassy), fired off a stunning reply – claiming that the UK’s has spent roughly twice as much spying on him as it has on their entire international human rights program.

    • The Foilies 2018

      Government transparency laws like the Freedom of Information Act exist to enforce the public’s right to inspect records so we can all figure out what the heck is being done in our name and with our tax dollars.

      But when a public agency ignores, breaks or twists the law, your recourse varies by jurisdiction. In some states, when an official improperly responds to your public records request, you can appeal to a higher bureaucratic authority or seek help from an ombudsperson. In most states, you can take the dispute to court.

      Public shaming and sarcasm, however, are tactics that can be applied anywhere.

      The California-based news organization Reveal tweets photos of chickpeas or coffee beans to represent each day a FOIA response is overdue, and asks followers to guess how many there are. The alt weekly DigBoston has sent multiple birthday cakes and edible arrangements to local agencies on the one-year anniversary of delayed public records requests. And here, at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, we give out The Foilies during Sunshine Week, an annual celebration of open-government advocacy.

    • For Eurasia’s activists, no place is a safe haven

      They spent the next 65 hours on the run.

      “We first went to the border between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It took us almost one full day to cross it. We were hiding nearby, looking for a place to cross. The guards with guns, flashlights and dogs, were in the vicinity and could get us any time. My son became so scared, he had a panic attack. I tried to calm him down… We found a smuggler who helped us cross the border by river. He carried my son, and I carried our bags. My legs were freezing as we waded through the icy water. I could barely move my feet, but I didn’t stop… Once in Kyrgyzstan, we caught a plane to Istanbul, and then on to Kyiv. We spent a day at acquaintances’ house, and then rented an apartment.”

      Since 2013, when she started covering the activities of Kazakh human rights defender Yermek Narymbayev, Akhmet had been frequently harassed by the government for her work. But in 2017, the Kazakh authorities launched three administrative and two criminal cases against her, including charges of political extremism, for her investigative reporting and news coverage, as well as jaywalking, for good measure.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • 20,000 Scientists Underscore Alarm Over Changing Climate

      They show alarmingly accelerating carbon dioxide emissions (we were up worldwide again last year), declining access to fresh water, and endangered species and other dangers facing the globe.

    • How an Alabama Town Is Fighting Against Cancerous & Toxic Coal Ash Dumping—No Thanks to Trump’s EPA

      Residents of Uniontown, Alabama, have lived with the Arrowhead landfill, which is twice the size of New York’s Central Park, have protested shipments of toxic coal ash—the residual byproduct of burning coal—from a massive spill in Kingston, Tennessee, believed to be the largest coal ash disaster in U.S. history. For two years, nearly 4 million tons of coal ash was also shipped by rail from a mostly white Tennessee county to Uniontown. Coal ash contains toxins, including arsenic, mercury and boron, that can affect the nervous and reproductive systems and cause other health problems. According to the EPA, people living within a mile of unlined coal ash storage ponds have a one-in-50 risk of developing cancer. In 2013, some Uniontown residents filed a complaint under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. This week, the EPA dismissed the claim, saying there was “insufficient evidence.” We speak with Ben Eaton, vice president of Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice and a resident of Uniontown, Alabama; and with Mustafa Santiago Ali, former head of the EPA’s environmental justice program.

  • Finance
    • KFC returns to original supplier after chicken shortage fiasco

      The American fast food chain was forced to temporarily close hundreds of stores after it ran out of chicken following the botched handover of its logistics contract to DHL and QSL. “To put it simply,” KFC tweeted at the time, “we’ve got the chicken, we’ve got the restaurants, but we’ve just had issues getting them together.”

    • Labour’s leavers are lukewarm for Brexit

      In recent times there have been no political soap operas with so ready a supply of bad faith actors as Brexit and the saga of Corbyn and Labour. Shadowy think tanks (Legatum), misrepresented wills of people (Farage et al), billionaire media (Murdoch, Barclay Brothers, Rothermere) the machinations of Labour’s Blairite rump, still spurned and licking its wounds. As so many of these quarters bemoan a supposed loss of truth, new research from the British Election Study (very neatly summarised here) details attitudes that reveal much about Labour’s crucial Leave voters, and in so doing offer useful, and corrective, advice to those still hoping to clinch remain from the jaws of leave. The research points strongly towards the idea that leaving the EU was a means and not an end.

    • How Brexit Won World War Two

      With Brexit now imminent, the country seems to be suffering a sense of leavers’ remorse.

    • Rumblings in the Tory Palace: Theresa May and the Brexit Troika

      What the Brexiteer cabal insists upon is the fantasy that the UK retains its mould as a dominant power, and that, left alone to its devices, will somehow manage to entertain the likes of India, China and Brazil on a better footing. Britain outside its European fraternity will be bolder, braver and more effective. Being within the EU customs union, on the other hand, entails negotiating as a bloc of states, a collective understanding.

      Figures like the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, demand an end to the “obsessive criticism” of Brexit. “Brexit,” he told Conservative Home last month, “is not a time bomb to be defused but a great opportunity to be embraced.” His overseas trips have been greeted with confidence; on returning, he meets an enervating “self-defeating pessimism that is too often on show from certain politicians, commentators and media outlets over here.”

      Britain’s links, however emotional they might be, remain tangibly linked to Europe. These will, in time, become more onerous and costly, and Brussels promises to be stringent on this. EU negotiators are doing their best to make sure that no benefits accrue to Britain in its departure. What matters now is how the Brexiteers manage to sell this to the voters.

      May’s Britain is flailing before weak leadership and chronic uncertainty, but a Britain with the likes of Johnson-Gove-Rees-Mogg would be an absurdly antiquarian sight, an anachronism that will see the country become a contender for the sick man of Europe. In destroying the country they claim to love in a fit of patriotic enthusiasm, they just might also destroy the reality of Brexit itself.

    • Liam Fox’s Brexit aims would require “a fairy godmother” – full speech by Fox’s former top official

      A devastating assessment of the government’s Brexit trade strategy of “rejecting a three-course meal for a packet of crisps”.


      “an immediate, significant and lasting negative impact”

      Against that background it is important to bear in mind that today’s UK economy is very much service based – around 80% of value added comes from services.

      UK exports account for around 21% of UK GDP (on a value-added basis) with services representing more than half of that total. Business services, finance and insurance, and the wholesale and retail sectors provide as much UK export value as the top twelve industrial sectors.

      The EU takes 46% of UK service exports; nearly four times what we export in services to the US, which in turn is roughly twice our total service exports to India and China combined. No other overseas services market is significant.

      The UK’s exports of goods to the EU are around 49% of our total sales abroad; just over four times our exports to the US and twelve times current exports to China.

      The distinction between what the statisticians define as services or goods is no longer as robust as it used to be. Recent estimates from the CER and Trade Policy Observatory find that services valued added directly linked to manufacturing exports, design, software etc., is worth more than £50bn annually, about the same magnitude as UK financial service exports.

    • Trade Wars and Diminished Credibility

      When Trump added imported steel and aluminum to his list of already announced tariffs for solar panels and washing machines, members of his own party joined the world in expressing their disapproval. Many business sectors reliant on raw steel expressed fears that the tariffs would ultimately lead to major job losses, not gains, throughout that U.S. economy. Though the action invoked Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, the rest of the world knows that imported steel costs don’t represent security risks, whereas the alienation of allies actually does.

      As European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “We strongly regret this step, which appears to represent a blatant intervention to protect U.S. domestic industry and not to be based on any national security justification.” He vowed that Europe would retaliate.

      There were three sets of tariffs proposed by the Commerce Department, run by billionaire Wilbur Ross, and the latest, a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, are the harshest so far. For the president to circumvent Congress on tariffs, it must allegedly alleviate what would otherwise be a national security risk. That’s just the loophole Trump used to ostensibly deliver on his campaign promises to American steelworkers. The problem is that the tariffs could wind up hurting those and other workers, as well as American consumers, instead. It would also add fuel to the fire in an already existing trade war.

      Why is it already existing? Because Trump’s entire isolationist posture and dogma have already caused U.S. allies and adversaries to seek tighter relationships with each other, from a currency and trade agreement perspective. The latest tariffs are another element on the path away from diplomacy (which could be better used to create agreements that truly benefit workers on all sides of our borders) and toward the street-yard bullying tactics Trump adheres to.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • China makes historic move to allow Xi to rule indefinitely
    • Hong Kong democrats seek to recapture lost ground in key by-elections

      The by-elections will fill four legislative council seats once held by pro-democracy lawmakers who were ousted from public office after authorities deemed they’d failed to take valid oaths of office. Critics slammed the move as politically motivated to weaken the opposition.

      Sunday’s polls also coincided with a vote in Beijing’s parliament which is expected to remove the Chinese president’s term limits, setting the stage for President Xi Jinping to stay in office indefinitely.

      The news has stoked some unease in Hong Kong, worrying about its long-term implications given Xi’s relative tough line on the freewheeling Asian financial hub.

      “[Xi Jinping] just wants to be an emperor himself. Nobody would believe such a person would do any good for Hong Kong,” said voter Sophia Yiu, 23, who said she flew back to town from Australia just to vote.

    • Perpetual scandals at the White House give Trump the perfect storm he needs
    • Censorship in China rises as Xi prepares for a term with no limits

      Censors silenced him anyway, swiftly wiping his post from the internet. As China’s rubber-stamp legislature prepares to approve constitutional changes abolishing term limits for the president….

    • Statues are not safe in India

      Violent political activists in India, used to attacking fellow humans, have now turned their attention to statues. Within a week they demolished or damaged the statues of Lenin, Ambedkar, the Dalit icon, and Periyar, the social reformer who fought against upper-caste hegemony.

      In India statues of leaders command immense political significance which now characterise even the idols of Hindu Gods. These come in all sizes and colours. Prime Minister Modi is seeking to ensure that his home state Gujarat boasts the tallest statue of Sardar Patel, co-opted by his party, even though he was a life-long leader of the Congress and India’s Home Minister in Nehru’s Cabinet. Sardar Patel is being used as an instrument for diminishing Nehru!

      Towns are dotted with statues installed by the followers of one political party or the other. Statues are erected, defaced and made controversial, all for promoting political interests. A State Governor belonging to Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu nationalist party said what a democratically elected government can do can be undone by the next elected party! He was responding to reports of the demolition of a statue of Lenin in a state where the BJP ousted a communist government that had ruled the state for 25 years.

      One cynic says that after every election, the new Government can spend its first year in uninstalling the statutes erected by the previous regime. The old order changed in this north-eastern state and a commentator is sure that streets named after Lenin will now be renamed to glorify some Hindu nationalist leader!

    • Trump and a Lifetime Presidency

      This, of course, was a bizarre hybrid of wishful thinking and stupidity, both of which were on display throughout her odd musings. But today, it seems, someone else may be ‘stealing in’, not just to the presidency which he already has, but to a lifetime role at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

      In recent remarks, President Donald Trump commented on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent abolishing of presidential term limits. Said he: “He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”

      One might be tempted to simply dismiss this as the ramblings of the demented egomaniac who found his way into the White House in 2016. This entire election was just a bizarre aberration, one might say, that will be corrected in 2020, if not before.

      Not so fast, if you please. Let’s look at some of the facts that might prevent the easy dismissal of the nightmare of a possible Trump-for-life presidency.

    • Poverty, Poor Ben Carson, and a $31,000 Table

      It doesn’t seem fair. And the unfairness is especially apparent when it’s put in context. It is not as though he wanted to spend thousands of dollars on a personal phone booth, or use government funds to pay for charter or first class air travel around the world. And the criticism is not directed at him because he supports cuts to HUD programs contained in the Trump budget. Nor is it because he eliminated language in the HUD Mission Statement that promised inclusive and discrimination-free communities. Nor is it because he is opposed to equal rights for the LGBTQ community. It’s just because his wife was trying to do him a favor and all she wanted was a simple dining room table befitting the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development when entertaining guests in his office. Everyone would agree that food tastes better when nicely served.

    • Dictator for Life: The Rise of the American Imperial President

      The presidency will survive. The real question is what leads American presidents into the imperial temptation. When the American presidency conceives itself as the appointed savior of a world in which mortal danger requires rapid and incessant deployment of men, weapons, and decisions behind a wall of secrecy, power rushes from Capitol Hill to the White House.”—Historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

      I’m not a fan of Communist China.

      It’s a vicious totalitarian regime that routinely employs censorship, surveillance, and brutal police state tactics to intimidate its populace, maintain its power, and expand the largesse of its corporate elite.

      Just recently, in fact, China banned the use of the word “disagree,” as well as references to George Orwell’s novels Animal Farm and 1984. What’s really Orwellian, however, is China’s plan to use surveillance to create a “citizen score” that determines one’s place in society based on one’s loyalty to the government.

      China—an economic and political powerhouse that owns more of America’s debt than any other country and is buying up American businesses across the spectrum— now plans to make its president, Xi Jinping, president for life.

      President Trump thinks that’s a great idea.

      Trump thinks the idea of having a president for life is so great, in fact, that America might want to move in that direction. “Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday,” said Trump to a roomful of supporters.

    • What could a Corbyn government inside Europe mean for the future of the European Union?

      In twenty years’ time, we will look back on Brexit as a moment of terrifying global irresponsibility. We live in a world of creeping fascism in Russia, Turkey, China, Trump’s America not to mention the tendencies inside Britain, especially among the hard Brexiteers. The European Union currently represents a beacon for democracy and human rights. Of course, it is dominated by a neo-liberal ideology that threatens to undermine the euro-zone and with it the democratic values for which it stands; developments in Central Europe and the recent elections in Italy are a painful reminder of the dangerous possibilities.

      Nevertheless, there are tendencies for reform inside the European Union and if a Corbyn-led Labour Party were to win the next election, there is a unique – indeed a once in a lifetime opportunity – to reform the European Union and this means an opportunity to save us, Europe and perhaps the world. The current nostalgia for Britain’s role in WWII seems to neglect the fact that this was a struggle for democracy, human rights and decency and not just about nationalism.

      But we are so obsessed with the domestic British debate despite all the talk of a global Britain that nobody seems to be discussing or trying to diagnose the frightening scenario of everything going wrong and our role in that scenario. The current nostalgia for Britain’s role in WWII seems to neglect the fact that this was a struggle for democracy, human rights and decency and not just about nationalism. If we care about those values now, we should be worrying about the future of Europe and the world and how what happens in the rest of the world will affect us.

    • The Empty Piety of the American Press

      The press, giddy with its newfound sense of mission and purpose, is carrying out a moral crusade against Donald Trump. The airwaves and print have shed their traditional claims of “impartiality” and “objectivity.” They fulminate against Trump, charging—falsely—that he was elected because of Russian interference and calling him a liar, ignorant and incompetent. They give airtime to his bitterest critics and bizarre associates, such as Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a onetime star of “The Apprentice” and now a fired White House aide, and Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who says she had a sexual relationship with Trump. It is great entertainment. It is great for ratings. It is great for profits. But it is not moral, and it is not journalism.

      The empty piety is a mask for self-interest. It is accompanied by the veneration of the establishment politicians, generals, intelligence chiefs, corporate heads and hired apologists who carried out the corporate coup d’état that created our system of “inverted totalitarianism.” The corporate structures that have a stranglehold on the country and have overseen deindustrialization and the evisceration of democratic institutions, plunging over half the country into chronic poverty and misery, are unassailable. They are portrayed as forces of progress. The criminals on Wall Street, including the heads of financial firms such as Goldman Sachs, are treated with reverence. Free trade is equated with freedom. Democratic politicians such as Barack Obama—who assaulted civil liberties, transferred trillions of dollars upward to reigning oligarchs, expanded the drone wars to include targeted assassinations of American citizens, and used the Espionage Act to silence investigative journalism—are hailed as champions of democracy. Deference is paid to democratic processes, liberties, electoral politics and rights enshrined in our Constitution, from due process to privacy, that no longer exist. It is a vast game of deception under the cover of a vacuous morality.

    • Trump lawyers want to stop ’60 Minutes’ from airing Stormy Daniels interview: report

      The interview with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is set to air on March 18, according to BuzzFeed News. On Thursday, a source familiar with the program had told The Hill that Stormy Daniels would be on 60 Minutes “on a future date.”

      The interview was announced by Avenatti through Twitter.

    • U.S. politics projects tribalism

      Tribalism stems from primordial, visceral and oftentimes fanatical sentiments and emotions.

    • DeVos pressed on performance of public schools under policies she promoted

      The White House announced Sunday that DeVos will chair a federal commission on school safety. The panel will include local, federal and school officials, and will assess best practices for preventing future school shootings before making recommendations to the president.

    • [Old] These 6 Corporations Control 90% Of The Media In America

      This infographic created by Jason at Frugal Dad shows that almost all media comes from the same six sources.

      That’s consolidated from 50 companies back in 1983.

    • [Old] Illusion of choice: 6 corporations control 90% of US media outlets, 10 corporations control almost every product bought by consumers globally, 1 non-profit institution controls US presidential debates, 1 family owns the banks in all but 3 countries across the globe…
    • [Old] The Illusion of Choice: Ninety Percent of American Media Controlled by Six Corporations

      The promotion of shallow, materialistic, ego-centric values, and the obvious dumbing down of the American population is coming from these 6 corporations. Think about that. These are the companies that glorify consumption, obedience, ignorance, the hyper-sexualization of youth, the glorification of war and government surveillance, and so on. The advertisers that support these media companies have tremendous sway over what makes it on the airwaves. They help to control public perception.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Social Media Is Reshaping Sex Work—But Also Threatening It

      One morning last May, Melody Kush discovered that someone was using her Twitter photos to catfish people into paying for a Snapchat premium account that didn’t even exist. Kush is a sex worker—an erotic model, to be precise—and for someone who does much of her work via social media, that kind of scam isn’t just an inconvenience. It’s an existential threat to her brand. She asked the imitator to stop; they refused, and blocked her. So she screenshotted the person’s snapcode and asked her 114,000-person Twitter following to report the account for her.

      The next day, her Twitter account was permanently deleted—right before she was supposed to teach a social media seminar. “I lost all my content and my entire business,” she says.

    • Statement on incident at TEDxBrussels

      Today at TEDxBrussels, an independently organized TEDx event, speaker and performance artist Deborah De Robertis was forcibly removed from the stage by one of the event’s organizers, who objected to the talk’s content.

    • TEDxBrussels organizer drags presenter off stage during anti-censorship talk

      According to the TEDxBrussels website, the presenter, artist Deborah De Robertis, was in the middle of a piece addressing past censorship of her artwork. The forcible removal of her from stage was so absurd, reports the Netherlands newspaper NRC Handelsblad, that audience members initially applauded thinking it was a statement about censorship.

    • TEDxBrussels loses licence after incident with controversial artist

      TED is a prestigious series of talks in which speakers get a maximum of 18 minutes to spread innovative ideas and tell how they can contribute to a better world. It started off as a 4-day conference in the US state of California.

    • TEDx Brussels loses license due to censorship

      According to Focus Knack, TEDxBrussels – run by a group of volunteers – was told by De Robertis that she would not show images from her performances as part of her talk. When she did, they decided to shut it down. The New York-based Sapling Foundation, which owns TEDx, did not agree with the move.

    • Editorial: Spokane’s bona fide censorship of ‘Live PD’

      The Spokane City Council last week approved rules that will make it almost impossible for television crews embedded with law enforcement to broadcast what they film. Along the way, they ran roughshod over the First Amendment.

      At a time when verifiable facts are labeled as “fake news,” this is exactly the sort of thing our nation’s founders worked so diligently to avoid. The council seems to think it can recognize “bona fide news organizations” as opposed to “reality-based police shows.” In Spokane, some news sources are more equal than others, especially if it means protecting the city’s reputation.

      And our government, especially in today’s hyperpoliticized environment, has no place in making decisions about what is “bona fide news” and what isn’t.

    • China steps up internet censorship of criticism of Xi Jinping

      Outside China, censorship around the plan to abolish presidential term limits has attracted snickering attention. At one point, even the letter “n” (a reference to n as a mathematical representation of an unknown number) was blocked online in some places, as were words like “Winnie the Pooh,” a reference to Mr. Xi’s stout figure.

      All of it came after an extraordinary outpouring of criticism online from people furious at Mr. Xi’s plan to tear up convention and crown himself a new “emperor.”

      But for Yan and others, the consequences have been more serious in a country that has sought to smooth the way for a long-term leader in part by cracking down on those who dare question Mr. Xi or tarnish his state-media-crafted image of humble perfection.

      Two women in Wuhan, Huang Fangmei and Geng Caiwen, were detained, according to the The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders. Ms. Huang had uploaded a video of her cheerily chanting “qing zhuyi daoche!”, a warning that a vehicle is backing up – and, in this case, a reference to China sliding backwards.

    • West Virginia, the class struggle and the fight against Internet censorship

      The growing wave of working-class unrest in the United States and internationally is exposing and clarifying basic political questions. Among them is the central purpose of the campaign by the tech giants, the US government and the mass media to censor the Internet, under the fraudulent pretense of combatting “fake news” and “Russian meddling.” The real target is the suppression of social opposition.

      This week is opening with an expanding number of working-class struggles. Although the unions managed to sell out and end the nine-day strike of 30,000 West Virginia teachers and school employees last week, the rebellion of educators across the US is spreading. Teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona—organizing chiefly through Facebook groups that have added tens of thousands of users in the last few weeks—are pressing for West Virginia-like strikes to demand higher pay and secure pensions.

      This is part of a broader movement of the working class, including a strike by 1,400 Frontier telecommunications workers in West Virginia and Virginia, and a strike mandate vote by 18,000 registered nurses at hospital giant Kaiser Permanente in California. Although the contract for a quarter of a million United Parcel Service workers does not expire until midsummer, thousands of workers are using social media to press for strike action.

    • Main Turkey opposition website censored by court

      Censorship in Turkey has extended to the website of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), according to a report in Cumhuriyet newspaper.

      The report follows a ruling by an Istanbul court that ordered the blocking of a story about Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s business dealings on 22 websites, one of which was the CHP’s official website.

      Barış Yarkadaş, a CHP lawmaker said of the ruling, “Censorship has extended from newspaper pages to our party’s website. This is an international disgrace. It has been shown once again that they (the government) are intolerant of the truth.”

      He added that the court’s decision was illegal and that the judge responsible had not even examined the details of the case before making his decision.

    • Winnie-the-Pooh banned under Chinese censorship law

      Winnie-the-Pooh is one of Britain’s most beloved exports, but the cuddly teddy bear is now banned under new Chinese censorship laws.

      Following the Communist Party of China’s proposal to remove a clause in the constitution which limits presidencies to two five-year terms, government censors are enacting a series of bans on several phrases, including Winnie-the-Pooh, on Chinese social media.

      Memes of Xi Jinping depicted as Winnie-the-pooh first began circulating on Chinese social media after a visit from then-president Barack Obama in 2013 and have since grown in traction.

    • Censorship tightens in Egypt as el-Sisi prepares for re-election bid

      Ahead of elections in Egypt later this month, in which President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is seeking a second term, the authoritarian leader’s government has further clamped down on press freedom, issuing warnings to the media and arresting critical journalists on “false news” charges. Even satirical TV shows have not been spared, with AFP reporting how the media regulator suspended broadcasts of the ONTV show “Saturday Night Live bil Arabi” last month over accusations that it violated ethical standards.

      Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation–a body set up in 2016 under a decree by el-Sisi–banned four other entertainment and satirical shows on moral grounds last month, according to news reports.

      Alongside the bans, and warnings by authorities in January that journalists deemed to be violating ethical or moral standards will be penalized, el-Sisi’s anti-press rhetoric has increased.

    • Twitter is not a public utility
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Facebook Launches (And Deletes) Another “Security” App That Silently Tracks Your Data

      Facebook is up to its old tricks again after only a few weeks since the last controversy regarding Onavo Protect VPN app that allegedly tracks user data made headlines.

      This time it has come up with another “security” app called Bolt App Lock whose primary function is to lock other apps present on mobile phones. The app allows users to add additional security measures such as patterns, PIN codes, or fingerprint recognition to apps that they don’t want others to access easily.

    • Week ahead: NSA nominee heads before Senate Intelligence Committee

      President Trump’s choice to helm the National Security Agency will face lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee for his second confirmation hearing on Thursday.

      Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the Army’s current cyber chief, was unanimously approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday to serve in the dual-hat role as NSA director and commander of U.S. Cyber Command.

      Nakasone is sure to face a flurry of questions about cyber threats to the United States, the U.S. intelligence mission, and the possible separation of NSA and Cyber Command, after Trump formally elevated the latter into its own warfighting unit last year.

    • Government postpones age checks for porn websites

      Over the weekend the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said it now hoped the measures would be in place by the end of the year.

    • Bad Actors Are Using Social Media Exactly As Designed

      Recognizing that these challenges—and others—emerging on modern communications platforms stem from their inherent features isn’t an indictment of the companies whose services we’ve all come to rely on; to the contrary, it shows just how hard these problems are. And it calls for a reorientation as to how the companies and the rest of us think about addressing these challenges.

    • Breaking up (with my smartphone) is hard to do

      Smartphones are designed to addict us – nagging us with notifications, disrupting us with noise, making themselves indispensable. Social media apps harness neuroscience to the same end, triggering dopamine hits that lock us into them for hours. A terrifying new book, How to Break Up With Your Phone, says we are rewiring our brains so they are less organised for deep thought; killing our attention span, destroying our memory, sleep and happiness. Phones have changed the world, too; advertisers use them to hoover up our attention. We are no longer just consumers, but product. As Ramsay Brown, co-founder of app-designers Dopamine Labs, has said: “You get to use [Facebook] for free, because your eyeballs are what’s being sold there.”

    • The GDPR In Full Effect: What Will Happen to WHOIS?

      It has been a long time coming, but the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is almost here. This new privacy regulation requires substantial changes to the collection and storage of data and will affect multiple disciplines, including the brand protection industry. One of the ‘victims’ of the new law is the WHOIS database. How will these changes affect its records?


      Regardless of the decision that ICANN takes on the update or complete change of WHOIS records – it will become difficult for you to find the contact details of a domain owner. The upswing of WHOIS privacy services already played its part in this problem, and it seems that the issue will only get bigger now that registries are starting to mask their registrant information.

      If you rely on WHOIS records to track down domain ownership, this created a serious challenge.

    • Fight Ahead Over Website Owners’ Data At ICANN Meeting This Week

      Some of the data collection practices of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), private overseer over the domain name industry, “appear to be excessive, disproportionate, and obtained without the free consent of the individual,” the International Working Group on Data Protection in Telecommunications (IWGDPT) wrote in a paper published on the eve of the 61st ICANN meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico (9-15 March). During the meeting, controversial discussions about ICANN’s just-published interim model for compliance with the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can be expected after ICANN published a “cookbook” for GDPR compliance.

    • Aadhaar: India’s Flawed Biometric Database

      It was only after the news had reached the front pages of leading Indian dailies and began circulating on the web that the administrators of the portal came out with a statement.

    • Jugaad: Fooling the IT returns system by using all zeros as Aadhaar number

      However, many still do not have an Aadhaar card and are holding out till the Supreme Court provides its judgement on the constitutionality of Aadhaar, in an ongoing case. Some of these people discovered they could just key in 0s or 1s and the tax returns were filed successfully.

    • Aadhaar linking deadline of March 31 may be extended; what you must know

      However, in case you have not yet linked your account, here’s the list of mandatory Aadhaar linkages: [...]

    • Sandvine’s PacketLogic Devices Used to Deploy Government Spyware in Turkey and Redirect Egyptian Users to Affiliate Ads?

      This report describes how we used Internet scanning to uncover the apparent use of Sandvine/Procera Networks Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) devices (i.e. middleboxes) for malicious or dubious ends, likely by nation-states or ISPs in two countries.

    • “We Know All About You” – MoviePass Is Secretly Tracking Its Customers’ Movements

      Anybody who bothered to look at MoviePass’s business plan would’ve immediately been confronted with the fact that the business was doomed to fail – barring some king of pivot that would bring in badly needed revenue for a company that buys movie tickets for $10 then sells them to its “customers” for 33 cents…

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • This Is History Now: Is the “American Dream” Over for Black Boys?

      Author Jawanza Kunjufu in his book, Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys refers to the “fourth grade failure syndrome,” when Black boys begin to lose interest in school. Unfortunately, this may also be a time that schools, teachers and administrators also lose interest in Black boys. Forty percent of Black boys in urban public schools drop out of high school. Boys who drop out of school are more likely to enter the school-to-prison pipeline by becoming involved in criminal activity or simply being outside of supervised, structured environments that can help to shield them from crime and danger.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Tim Berners-Lee: we must regulate tech firms to prevent ‘weaponised’ web

      Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, has called for large technology firms to be regulated to prevent the web from being “weaponised at scale”.

      “In recent years, we’ve seen conspiracy theories trend on social media platforms, fake Twitter and Facebook accounts stoke social tensions, external actors interfere in elections, and criminals steal troves of personal data,” Berners-Lee wrote in an open letter marking the 29th anniversary of his invention.

      These problems have proliferated because of the concentration of power in the hands of a few platforms – including Facebook, Google, and Twitter – which “control which ideas and opinions are seen and shared”.

      “What was once a rich selection of blogs and websites has been compressed under the powerful weight of a few dominant platforms,” said the 62-year-old British computer scientist.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

EPO Patent ‘Growth’ Not Achieved But Demanded/Mandated by Battistelli, by Lowering Quality of Patents/Services

Monday 12th of March 2018 11:08:23 AM

Is the ‘EPO factory’ still an office or a production line?

Picture modified; original by Greenpeace Switzerland/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Summary: Targets at the EPO are not actually reached but are being imposed by overzealous management which dries up all the work in a hurry in order to make examiners redundant and many European Patents worthless

WHAT good is a patent granted in error? Ask the USPTO, whose patents are being dropped like flies by US courts these days. These patents are typically useful only as long as they don’t land in courts or on PTAB’s lap, e.g. by targeting small businesses that cannot afford IPRs or lawsuits (or can settle more cheaply than pursue a challenge). That’s just what patent trolls are exploiting.

“Battistelli does not want to talk about quality and he seems to be already coordinating ‘studies’ to lie about that too (we covered that before).”Last week we wrote about quality of patents being lowered and 'discounts' being used to encourage more applications, then fiddle with the media to spread spin. SUEPO’s position on this is rather revealing and it was only mentioned in this one article. Here’s the relevant part (emphasis added):

However, despite the EPO’s record number of patent grants, recent turmoil at the office has led to concerns about patent quality.

According to an internal memo from the Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO), at the end of 2017, official targets were altered from 400,000 ‘products’ to 415,000.

Products are granted only for a few actions that an examiner is expected to perform: a patent search, a patent grant, or a patent refusal. Examiners are awarded points, which determine whether employees have reached their individual and collective targets.

SUEPO said that lofty and ever-changing targets could lead to negative consequences for staff health and patent quality.

A source close to SUEPO said that the EPO point system is “perverted” as it “does not reward the issuing of a very solid patent after a thorough search, but, on the contrary in the current work climate where fear of reprisal plays a huge role, it has become an unhealthy incentive to support the mass-production of (low-quality) patents”.

The source said: “SUEPO has abundantly written on the question of quality: it considers that the very high production pressure put on the EPO staff for so many years (with ever increasing targets) is not only bad for the health of staff but cannot be neutral when it comes to the quality of the work done.”

“This report is not a truly independent audit since it is produced internally by EPO staff under the supervision of Battistelli.”

The source added: “On the question of quality which is a crucial subject for the future of the EPO, SUEPO would advise all interested IP stakeholders to read this recent article by Dr Thorsten Bausch.”

Battistelli does not want to talk about quality and he seems to be already coordinating ‘studies’ to lie about that too (we covered that before). Lies are up for sale, commissioned by the highest bidder. See this morning’s tweet. It’s not a competition (like the Olympics). There are no trophies. Sometimes less is better. But the EPO is in the business of patent maximalism right now (rather than quality of patents, which the EPO used to be renowned for).

“The EPO is so defunct; but at the same time it’s immoral enough to corrupt media and academia (at the expense of applicants), so people are rarely told about the terrible state of the EPO and the EPO’s immorality.”This morning the EPO also boosted IAM. Don’t they realise how bad it looks for both of them (EPO and IAM)? Battistelli is very much in an ‘incestuous’ relationship with this patent trolls’ lobby. They are preparing so-called ‘studies’ together and he will soon keynote an IAM event, in which IAM will help spread the lies about “quality”, engage in promotion of software patents and so on.

The EPO is so defunct; but at the same time it’s immoral enough to corrupt media and academia (at the expense of applicants), so people are rarely told about the terrible state of the EPO and the EPO’s immorality. Nobody holds the EPO accountable in the legal sense or even the public opinion sense. IP Kat stopped doing that after the EPO had blocked the site and perhaps invoked yet more sanctions. IP Kat wasn’t the exception, either. Battistelli turned the EPO into a bully organisation; bullying both inwards and outwards. Soon, as a result of that, Europe might be flooded with bullies better known as patent trolls.

When China embraced patent maximalism (over a million patents per year!) we saw no opposition to it because expressions like “I oppose” (or object/disagree) are increasingly being banned in China. As for the EPO, it too has just peaked in terms of censorship. Even staff representatives are being gagged, not just unions.

China now grapples with an epidemic of patent trolls; Europe also, but IAM helps the EPO deny that.

Doubt Over Independence of Judges at the EPO Clouds Reason in Deciding Regarding Patents on Life

Monday 12th of March 2018 06:59:53 AM

Judges themselves doubt their own independence (publicly even)

Summary: With the growing prospect of a Board of Appeal (BoA) having to decide on patentability of CRISPR ‘innovation’ (more like explanation/discovery), questions linger or persist about judges’ ability to rule as they see fit rather than what some lunatic wants

LAST WEEK we wrote two articles in which we mentioned how the EPO‘s Judge Corcoran was — without warning — removed from his office (never to return to it since 2014). Apparently Corcoran’s last decision/unfinished work was against a software patent of an EPO partner (maybe a coincidence) and whatever he’s accused of — mainly relaying true information about Team Battistelli — is something that hundreds if not thousands of other EPO workers could be accused of at the time (many messages had been relayed and were circulating regarding Battistelli and his dodgy ‘bulldog’ from Croatia).

“Apparently Corcoran’s last decision/unfinished work was against a software patent of an EPO partner (maybe a coincidence) and whatever he’s accused of — mainly relaying true information about Team Battistelli — is something that hundreds if not thousands of other EPO workers could be accused of at the time (many messages had been relayed and were circulating regarding Battistelli and his dodgy ‘bulldog’ from Croatia).”IP Kat finds no time to cover EPO scandals anymore (we know why). Rose Hughes (Reddie & Grose LLP), however, found time to cover things like this just before the weekend. “Last month,” she wrote, “the EPO published it’s [sic] sixth ever decision granting a petition for review (R 4/17). Granted petitions for review are notoriously difficult to obtain, as the EPO attempts to balance the need for the legal certainty of Board of Appeal (BoA) decisions, and the right to challenge flagrant violations of EPO procedure.”

Well, haven’t violations of EPO procedure/s become far too routine under Battistelli? We’ve lost count of how many such violations of EPO procedures we already covered. Including against BoA…

“Recently, the EPO Opposition Division opposed CRISPR patents, or at least one such patent loosely representative of the whole lot.”“Even if has [sic] been summarily dismissed,” noted the commenter. “it does not appear that the opposition division did exercise its discretion in an improper way. It look more than a hidden clarity objection. It is in any case doubtful that the proprietor will consent to this ground be introduced in the new appeal procedure.”

We remain rather disturbed/worried that after Judge Corcoran had been thrown somewhere (probably in another country, for the mere pretense of minimal compliance with ILO-AT rulings) the EPO’s management got away with it. As usual. Above the law.

Recently, the EPO Opposition Division opposed CRISPR patents, or at least one such patent loosely representative of the whole lot. The CRISPR situation at the EPO was covered here almost a dozen times this year, e.g. in [1, 2].

The patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, revisited the subject before the weekend when it said:

The University of California – which pioneered the foundational CRISPR Cas-9 methods (though it only developed these for use in bacterial cells) – is seeking to invalidate the Broad Institute’s core US patent for the specific use of CRISPR Cas-9 in plant and animal cells on the grounds that it interferes with its own IP rights.

It claims that the Broad Institute’s innovations were, at the time of application in 2012, merely an obvious application of the technology it had already pioneered and filed a patent for. The Broad Institute denies this, arguing that its invention was non-obvious and therefore separately patentable.

This is the US, where CRISPR patents are already in hot waters. What will the EPO’s BoA be able say about CRISPR patents, knowing that a colleague has already been targeted by Battistelli and all the Boards sent to ‘exile’ in Haar, presumably in an act of collective retaliation (like sending a young student to detention near the door, or office space that is merely rented in a distant suburb)? Judges complain about this publicly. Does anyone pay attention? Perhaps FCC judges?

“What will the EPO’s BoA be able say about CRISPR patents, knowing that a colleague has already been targeted by Battistelli and all the Boards sent to ‘exile’ in Haar, presumably in an act of collective retaliation (like sending a young student to detention near the door, or office space that is merely rented in a distant suburb)?”Let’s face it; the EPO is still in a serious crisis — one that IP Kat is unwilling to speak about any longer (no more than a couple times per year).

Patent maximalists other than IAM meanwhile speak about CAFC‘s and the Supreme Court’s decision in Promega Corp. v Life Technologies Corp.

To quote Patent Docs:

In reversing the Federal Circuit and remanding the case, the Supreme Court, in Life Technologies Corp. v. Promega Corp., determined “that a single component does not constitute a substantial portion of the components that can give rise to liability under §271(f)(1).” As the Supreme Court noted, Life Technologies manufactured all but one component of its kits in the United Kingdom — manufacturing Taq polymerase in the United States and then shipping the Taq polymerase to its United Kingdom facility to be combined with the other four components of the kit.


The opinion conceded that “[t]his is an unusual case,” noting that “[p]atent owners who prove infringement are typically awarded at least some amount of damages.” However, in this case, Promega waived its right to a damages award “when it deliberately abandon[ed] valid theories of recovery in a singular pursuit of an ultimately invalid damages theory.” The Federal Circuit therefore concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion by declining to give Promega “multiple chances to correct deficiencies in its arguments or the record.” As a result, the panel also affirmed the District Court’s denial of Promega’s motion for a new trial.

It’s worth noting that this pertains to the United Kingdom, i.e. Europe. The US gets to decide on patent matters abroad. If that sounds familiar if not worrying, think what the UPC strives to achieve. More so in the context of a seriously deficient legal system where a crazed patent maximalist (Battistelli) exercises (abuse of) power over judges.

Patent Academics and CAFC Make a Living Out of Patents, But Both Must Begrudgingly Learn to Accept That Patents Went Too Far

Monday 12th of March 2018 05:58:59 AM

Many of the Rader era CAFC/Federal Circuit decisions (almost all) were overturned by the US Supreme Court

Summary: A look at academic pundits’ views on the patent system of the United States and where the Federal Circuit (a high patent court) stands on these matters after the US Supreme Court (highest possible court) lashed out at many of its decisions, especially those from the disgraced Rader years

THE USPTO alone is dealing with billions of dollars each year. Those who can participate in the ‘patent game’ at a large scale are large corporations. The same is true universally. It’s not the system of a sole inventor like Tesla but of a businessman like Edison. Lots of money in circulation in the patent ‘industry’.

It has been rather disappointing to see ‘Establishment’ academics playing along in all this. I’m not a fan of particular people using the title Professor to implicitly assert that they’re uninterested or/and impartial observers whose views are objective and motivations are purely “scholarly”. They too can be lobbyists sometimes. They have vested interests and ideologies. I do have those ideologies too. So does everybody else. Absolute objectiveness rarely exists, except in few disciplines (e.g. laws of nature, not laws of states).

Some hours ago Patenty-O (a patent maximalists’ blog) published this piece about the doctrine of equivalents (DoE) among other matters. Judging by the tone, it sure sounds as though Professor Samuel F. Ernst from Golden Gate University School of Law pressures the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to intervene in CAFC (Federal Circuit) rulings regarding patent scope/maximalism. To quote a portion:

It is now time for the en banc Federal Circuit or the Supreme Court to overrule the erroneous doctrine of literal infringement and revive the reverse doctrine of equivalents. As properly applied, the reverse doctrine of equivalents allows for accused innovations to escape infringement when they are substantially superior, practically and commercially, to the invention claimed by an asserted patent.


If a proper litigation vehicle is identified, a petition for certiorari arguing for the revival of the reverse doctrine of equivalents may well attract the attention of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has been inclined to review the work of the Federal Circuit in recent years in cases where the Federal Circuit has applied a rigid rule (like the doctrine of literal infringement), given insufficient deference to district court determinations (as occurs when the district court is not permitted to weigh the principle of the asserted patent against the accused substantial innovation), and disregards or cabins Supreme Court precedent (as has been done with Westinghouse v. Boyden)

See what they’re doing here? Crouch et al just can’t help intervening in Supreme Court matters, as they did a lot in Oil States. Crouch alone perhaps wrote a hundred or more posts pertaining to this case directly and indirectly. Dishonesty was abundant as well as the rhetoric/nuances of right-wing libertarians (Conservatives masquerading as “liberals”).

Days prior to this Professor Michael Risch wrote about Section 101 and more so Section 112. He alluded in his post to edge cases/extreme cases such as “violating the laws of thermodynamics.” (or “defy the laws of thermodynamics.”)

To quote some bits:

Those familiar with my work will know that I am a big fan of utility doctrine. I think it is underused and misunderstood. When I teach about operable utility, I use perpetual motion machines as the type of fantastic (and not in a good way) invention that will be rejected by the PTO as inoperable due to violating the laws of thermodynamics.


I’m sure I had briefly read Newman v. Quigg at some point in the past, and the case is cited as the seminal “no perpetual motion machine” case. Even so, I’m glad I watched the documentary to get a better picture of the times and hooplah that went with this, as well as what became of the man who claimed to defy the laws of thermodynamics.

It’s no secret that Risch is said to support software patents although he maintains that he is “agnostic” on the matter (i.e. passively accepting the status quo). Risch is not exactly a “patent maximalist” — a term he recently used in an E-mail he sent me. Having said that, his discipline (work) depends on the patent system. So do some courts. How about the Federal Circuit, as opposed to the Supreme Court (which deals with a very broad set of subjects)? As Wikipedia puts it right at the start/outset: “The Federal Circuit is particularly known for its decisions on patent law, as it is the only appellate-level court with the jurisdiction to hear patent case appeals.”

Having written a lot about the Federal Circuit for over a decade, we can really see things improving. The latest chief judge is so much better than her predecessors, who were (and still are) patent maximalists that openly support trolls and sometimes engage in misconduct which benefits patent trolls.

Let’s examine some recent news from the Federal Circuit.

The Federal Circuit, according to this, “has affirmed a district court’s rule 12(b)(6)dismissal of a complaint alleging direct patent infringement where the patent owner pled that the defendant at most benefited from the claimed system as a whole…”

This is another rejection (one among many rejections) of patent maximalism. In Exergen Corp. v Kaz USA, as Patently-O noted some days ago, the Federal Circuit ruled in favour of the patent, but this wasn’t abstract, hence more trivial a case.

Patently-O‘s Dennis Crouch commented (a couple of weeks back) on a CAFC decision which does not address scope (and thus isn’t quite relevant to us) and also wrote about Helsinn Healthcare v Teva Pharma (petition later noted elsewhere), which might — just might — reach the Supreme Court:

Prior to the AIA, the On Sale Bar prevented the patenting of inventions that had been on-sale more than one year before the application’s filing date. 35 U.S.C. 102(b). Pre-AIA, on sale activities include non-enabling secret offers to sell the invention (so long as the invention was otherwise ready-for-patenting). Because most companies outsource elements of product development and manufacture — the rule has created potential for trapping the unwary.

As we said before, we’re quite pleased to see how the high courts in the US nowadays deal with patents. They’re more sceptical. The lower (i.e. district) courts gradually adapt, but that takes time.

Docket Navigator recently highlighted Precision Fabrics Group, Inc. v Tietex International, Ltd. when it wrote:

The court granted in part plaintiff’s motion in limine to preclude expert testimony premised on a revised construction of the claim term in question.

Such expert testimonies often help highlight what patent examiners overlooked (either intentionally or unintentionally) when choosing to grant a patent that’s presently used aggressively. Such scrutiny is much needed and should be encouraged, not impeded, as we said in our last post. The more scrutiny/challenge (e.g. PTAB), the better the quality of patents and legitimacy of justice-making.

Remember a district court case which was mentioned here earlier (design patents on automobile parts); those were upheld as valid by a district court (report from end of last month). Well, guess what happened in Ottah v Fiat at the Federal Circuit. Patently-O reports:

On appeal, the Federal Circuit has affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of Chikezie Ottah’s infringement claim against Fiat, Toyota, Nissan, GM, Ford, and other auto manufacturers — holding it not infringed.


Even after liberally construing the pleadings (for pro se benefit), the court found no plausible claim based upon the patent — as such the dismissal with prejudice was proper.

This is pretty recent (decided March 7th, 2018). We’ve made this local copy of the decision.

No doubt the court and its judges will continue to come under attacks, even racist diatribe (as recently happened).

Watch Camilla Alexandra Hrdy (University of Akron School of Law) suggesting that Trump should write: “IF YOU DON’T HAVE PATENTS, YOU DON’T HAVE A COUNTRY.”

This is starting to sound even more deranged than Trump himself. What are these people on? Patent maximalism is a mental virus, whose threat to the mind is greater in the presence of echo chambers. And when we say “echo chambers” we mean events organised by the likes of IAM, with support from large law firms such as Finnegan.

“Typically,” Finnegan says, “national stage examination of U.S. applications claiming priority to international PCT applications “commences” 30 months from the priority date of the international application. This commencement date is then used to calculate patent term adjustment if appropriate.”

Timing won’t matter though if your patent is not of concrete/real value, e.g. a software patent, and should never be granted anyway.

In summary, things are changing for the better. But law firms and patent-centric scholars worry that it makes them obsolete.

Patent Maximalists Cause a Crisis of Legitimacy for Patent Law

Monday 12th of March 2018 04:13:41 AM

Summary: The patent extremists who nowadays equate monopolies on mere ideas to “property” and “rights” gradually cause the public to lose respect for patents, more or less in the same way copyright maximalists (and copyright trolls) cause the population to seek alternatives (both legal and illegal)

THE concept of “intellectual property” is a vague one, especially because it’s a misnomer, sometimes abbreviated as “IP” or “IPR” (a third misnomer, “rights”) to avoid actual debate about suitability of pertinent words. I believe in trademarks. I see their purpose (when not overused, as often happens, granting monopolies on singular dictionary words). Copyrights are important too; they’re essential in management of software code, even if slanted as copyleft (which derives its ‘teeth’ from copyright law). Patents as originally envisioned (when conceived) typically pertained to physical inventions which required labour to produce and reproduce (or mass-produce), not mere thoughts/ideas.

“Patents as originally envisioned (when conceived) typically pertained to physical inventions which required labour to produce and reproduce (or mass-produce), not mere thoughts/ideas.”Terms like “IP” or “IPR” aren’t helpful; they’ve become propaganda terms that dodge a serious, adult debate and open-minded assessment of rationale. These equate a monopoly with a “right” and a “property”. Monopoly is neither of those things.

At the end of last month, on February 26th to be precise, August Debouzy’s François Pochart, Lionel Martin and Mathilde Rauline were lumping together totally and entirely different things. They used the word “IP” in their article titled “One IP standard to rule them all” and only later on they broke that down into what they actually truly meant:

All the useful data for all IP rights (patents, trademarks, designs, software …) as well as contracts are coded. Tags are provided for a very large majority of cases or facts: among them the social form of the applicant or its nationality, further the internal references to the case, the applicable law, the fact that it is a divisional application for patents or the language of the technical field for brands, the procedural deadlines, and many more.

Well, “patents, trademarks, designs” (and copyrights, trade secrets etc.) have different laws associated with them, so no serious debate can be conducted under a banner like “One IP standard to rule them all”.

“Terms like “IP” or “IPR” aren’t helpful; they’ve become propaganda terms that dodge a serious, adult debate and open-minded assessment of rationale.”This is symptomatic and quite so typical among law firms.

Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP’s Stanley M. Gibson wrote about Gemshares LLC v Arthur Joseph Lipton the other day, regarding challenges to validity of patents. Here’s a portion from the article:

GemShares LLC filed a patent infringement action against Arthur Lipton and Secured Worldwide, LLC (SWW) on U.S. Patent No. 8,706,513 B2 (the ‘513 patent). The ‘513 patent is entitled “global investment grade for natural and synthetic gems used in financial investments and commercial trading and method of creating standardized baskets of gems to be used in financial and commercial products.”

According to the district court, Lipton became a one-fifth owner of GemShares in 2013, while the patent application was pending. Lipton executed an operating agreement that included a term requiring him (and other GemShares members) to disclose and present to the company opportunities related to or likely to be competitive with GemShares’ business.

Putting aside the abstract-sounding patent (maybe a business method), what we have here is a couple of LLCs (typically entities that do not produce anything concrete) bickering over patents. The one sure thing is, lawyers will win. Lawyers will pocket a lot of money in the process, which is an attempt to challenge the patent’s validity and an (counter)attempt to outright block such a challenge. Shouldn’t it be a perfectly reasonable thing to question a patent’s validity? The US Supreme Court would indirectly decide on that quite soon in Oil States. Remember that, contrary to the nonsense from Crouch et al (regarding this case), patents are not property. Oil States is about IPRs, which challenge not “ownership” but the validity of some granted monopoly.

“Remember that, contrary to the nonsense from Crouch et al (regarding this case), patents are not property.”We are frankly appalled by some of the spin that comes from the patent microcosm. These people just aren’t honest; this dishonesty is necessary for them to continue to make buckets of money. There are upcoming lobbying events on the subject of IPRs, e.g. “Webinar on Paragraph IV Litigation and IPRs” and “FCBA Program on IPR Estoppel” (suppression of challenge) and guess who’s attending. These are all echo chambers of the patent ‘industry’. They want no patents challenged; they’re patent maximalists and absolutists.

Dealing with Solutran, Inc. v US Bancorp et al, CBM estoppel was last week considered by Docket Navigator. When a company sues you with a patent and when you show that the patent is obvious (and thus bogus), can that company then attempt to suppress or prevent judges from seeing the evidence of obviousness? As Docket Navigator put it:

The court denied plaintiff’s motion in limine to exclude evidence of obviousness because CBM estoppel did not apply to an entire statutory basis.

Got that? It’s like some of those ludicrous court cases where the defendant is prevented from presenting evidence in his/her defense. That happens a lot in military courts or in cases pertaining to “national security” (with the classic excuses that a legal defense might be to the detriment of “national security”, or in practice embarrass the state).

“Patents have, in general, gotten a bad name among programmers because they’re sick of software patents, which they neither needed nor wanted.”We often wonder how patent lawyers sleep at night knowing that their occupation often involves subversion of justice rather than defense of the system’s integrity. Maximalists are the opportunistic vandals. We’re not against patents (we never were!); for their legitimacy or perceived legitimacy (acceptance among the public) they need to follow strict rules and be open to scrutiny. A lot of the general public already shows flagrant disdain for copyright law because of copyright maximalists who just exploit copyright law for censorship, complete control of the Internet, mass surveillance (in the name of catching ‘pirates’) and so on.

Treat patent law with respect; or else risk breaking this entire cornerstone of so-called ‘IP’. Patents have, in general, gotten a bad name among programmers because they’re sick of software patents, which they neither needed nor wanted.

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