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

The European Patent Office (EPO) Ought to Lead in Patent Scope, Not Slide to the Bottom of the Pile

Thursday 8th of March 2018 02:00:06 PM

What good is patent examination that does not (or cannot, due to lack of time) assess underlying evidence and just rubber-stamps almost everything?

Summary: The United States is getting tougher on the same sorts of patents that the EPO under Battistelli is extremely eager to grant — all in the name of so-called (fake) ‘production’

HAVING closely watched and written about the patent systems since my early twenties (even before Techrights existed), I’m genuinely worried to see the EPO — once the world’s best patent office (based on several criteria) — becoming even worse than the USPTO (historically notorious, especially since the Reagan years when policy was changed). The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is a growing force at the USPTO, whereas the EPO’s equivalent (the appeal boards) is being marginalised. There are many ways by which to measure this marginalisation. It’s more like sabotage by the Office, which is in principle supposed to be completely isolated from the boards; the boards should be untouchable in order to assure independence of judges (and freedom to rule as they see fit, based on underlying laws, evidence/prior art, the EPC and so on).

“The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is a growing force at the USPTO, whereas the EPO’s equivalent (the appeal boards) is being marginalised.”One of two areas we’ve always campaigned in is what we refer to as “patents as life” (there are other terms that can be used). Anticipat, a site which markets some products/services by bashing PTAB, has this new post today. It’s actually a couple of days old (but only showed up today) and it speaks of the PatCon8 conference, noting that the “State of Patent-Eligibility of Medical Diagnostics [is] Not Good” (in the US).

It’s good actually. Very good. No such patents should be permitted and many are indeed being denied. The USPTO has gotten tougher and early assessments suggest that the number of granted US patents — not to be mistaken for patent applications — will have declined by year’s end (which is not necessarily a bad thing, for constant expansion in monopoly power isn’t desirable). “The eighth annual PatCon hosted by the University of San Diego School of Law,” Anticipat wrote on Tuesday, “included a wide range of speakers and presentations. Perhaps due to the largely academic audience, participants openly disagreed on various points. But one point had almost universal consensus: patenting medical diagnostics in the US is very bleak due to patent-eligibility. And it’s unlikely to change any time soon.”

“The USPTO has gotten tougher and early assessments suggest that the number of granted US patents — not to be mistaken for patent applications — will have declined by year’s end (which is not necessarily a bad thing, for constant expansion in monopoly power isn’t desirable).”Good.

We recently wrote an article about the "cancer" which is patents on treatments (typically mere processes, not an invention) and the concept of "life sciences" as a Trojan horse for patenting things like genetics (nature’s ‘invention’, not a human invention, maybe just an explanation/revelation/reverse-engineering by humans).

The EPO was recently denying patents on CRISPR. These patents on life are laughable and should be voided so as to avoid going down the slippery slope of making DNA as a whole some corporations’ ‘property’. Hours ago a site dedicated to advocacy of patents on life (or “life sciences”) wrote about the ERS Genomics patent (we wrote about this exactly one week ago). This is what it said:

The European Patent Office (EPO) has granted a second CRISPR/Cas9 patent to a specialist genomics company, one month after revoking the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT’s patent relating to the technology.


The EPO’s granting of Charpentier’s second CRISPR patent came a month after it revoked a CRISPR patent (2,771,468) owned by the Broad Institute.

Will consistency/clarity come from the appeal boards (Boards of Appeal)? Will they be able to rule independently?

“We have never seen even a single European programmer defending software patents.”As we noted this morning, the Boards of Appeal were unable to rule properly (e.g. in lieu with the EPC and European Parliment) on software patents and one of their judges got put on a “house ban” shortly after he had vetoed a software patent of a company close to the EPO.

The “EPO annual report has replaced software patents by “4th Industrial Revolution” buzzword,” Benjamin Henrion wrote an hour ago. “4th Industrial Revolution” means software patents, I’ve reminded him, by IAM's and Battistelli's (almost conjoined) own admission. Where will the EPO put the barrier to patenting? Should we accept that mere concepts (like algorithms, not even code) or code of life are patent-eligible in order to artificially inflate the number of granted monopolies? Where would that leave public health and programmers? At the hands of vicious law firms like pretty much every single European advocate of software patents? We have never seen even a single European programmer defending software patents. Never.

Links 8/3/2018: Vulkan 1.1, Cockpit 163

Thursday 8th of March 2018 12:31:37 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • What is open source programming?

    At the simplest level, open source programming is merely writing code that other people can freely use and modify. But you’ve heard the old chestnut about playing Go, right? “So simple it only takes a minute to learn the rules, but so complex it requires a lifetime to master.” Writing open source code is a pretty similar experience. It’s easy to chuck a few lines of code up on GitHub, Bitbucket, SourceForge, or your own blog or site. But doing it right requires some personal investment, effort, and forethought.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
      • Clang Now Compiles Chrome For Windows

        This is simple story until you start looking just below the surface. The simple part is that Google has manged to use the Clang compiler to compile Chrome targeting Windows. The real question is why?

      • Google Chrome 65 Now Rolling Out to Android Devices to Fight Malvertising

        After releasing the Chrome 65 web browser for Linux, Windows, and Mac operating system, Google now announced today that it started rolling out to Android devices as well.

        Google Chrome 65 (65.0.3325.109) is the first version of the Chromium-based web browser to come with a built-in ad-blocking feature that promises to fight malvertising by preventing websites with abusive ads from opening tabs or new windows and ruin your entire Chrome browsing experience.

    • Mozilla
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
  • Licensing/Legal
    • Report from the Geniatech vs. McHardy GPL violation court hearing

      Today, I took some time off to attend the court hearing in the appeal hearing related to a GPL infringement dispute between former netfilter colleague Partrick McHardy and Geniatech Europe

      I am not in any way legally involved in the lawsuit on either the plaintiff or the defendant side. However, as a fellow (former) Linux kernel developer myself, and a long-term Free Software community member who strongly believes in the copyleft model, I of course am very interested in this case.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • The RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: January 2018

      Given that we’re into March, it seems like a reasonable time to publish our Q1 Programming Language Rankings. As always, these are a continuation of the work originally performed by Drew Conway and John Myles White late in 2010. While the means of collection has changed, the basic process remains the same: we extract language rankings from GitHub and Stack Overflow, and combine them for a ranking that attempts to reflect both code (GitHub) and discussion (Stack Overflow) traction. The idea is not to offer a statistically valid representation of current usage, but rather to correlate language discussion and usage in an effort to extract insights into potential future adoption trends.

    • On standards work

      All of the students are using JavaScript. Where did it come from? Who made it? Who maintains it? Who defines it? Who is in charge? When we talk about open source we think about code, tests, documentation, and how all of these evolve. But what about open standards? What does working on a standard look like?

    • This Week in Rust 224

      Hello and welcome to another issue of This Week in Rust! Rust is a systems language pursuing the trifecta: safety, concurrency, and speed.

    • GitHub open sources Licensed for OSS license compliance

      GitHub announced it is open sourcing its internal tool for automating the licensing process of building and maintaining open source products. The tool, Licensed, is designed to help engineers streamline one of the most complex and crucial parts associated with building open source projects: maintaining code functionality and compliance.

    • GitHub gives businesses a helping hand to open source project licensing

      GitHub has introduced a new way for companies to license their open source projects, with an open source program.

      The company has open sourced ‘Licensed’, which is an internal tool used to automate various open source projects licensing processes that GitHub runs. The program aims to help programmers reduce the time it takes to track down licenses for open source projects, putting their efforts elsewhere.

      Licensed will enable developers to effectively use their code’s open source licensing by spotting potential problems with a program’s dependency license early in its development cycle. By spotting these problems early can help prevent larger issues happening.

    • Why Your Engineers Should Spend More Time Writing Open Source Software Code
  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Record Afghan Opium Crop Signals Violent Year for U.S. Forces

      Despite an escalation of the Afghan conflict under the Trump administration, a record opium crop, coupled with steady Taliban gains, foretell bitter fighting in the coming months for American forces and the Afghans stationed alongside them.

      “Record-high opium production is but one indication of how badly U.S. efforts have failed and are continuing to fail,” said Andrew Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University and author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East. “It is both a major source of Taliban funding and an indication of how little control the Afghan government is able to exert.”

    • Trump Announces One-Sided Plan To Meet With Video Game Makers Over Gun Violence

      In the conspiracy against video games that is now in full swing after the school shooting in Florida, it seems that it goes all the way to the top, by which I mean the recent comments by our Dear Leader, Donald Trump. Lower levels of the government have already begun foisting the sins of the shooter on the scapegoat of violent games, with Rhode Island looking for a plainly unconstitutional tax on adult-rated games and the governor of Kentucky trying to blame violent games for the recent shooting, sans evidence. And now it seems that Donald Trump has gotten into the mix, announcing that he will be meeting with “the video game industry” in coming weeks to see how they can stop real-world gun violence.

    • Media Erase US Role in Syria’s Misery, Call for US to Inflict More Misery

      In the Guardian (2/10/18), Simon Tisdall described the US and its Western partners as “hovering passively on the sidelines in Syria,” and “restricting themselves to counterterrorism operations and vain calls for peace.” ABC’s Conor Finnegan (2/26/18) expressed concern that “the US will remain on the sidelines” in the country.

      However, America currently controls 28 percent of Syria (Foreign Policy, 1/25/18), precisely the opposite of being “on the sidelines,” and has recently declared its intent to continue occupying the country indefinitely (New York Times, 2/22/18). As Joshua Landis (Syria Comment, 1/15/18), director of the Center for Middle East Studies, notes, the US controls “half of Syria’s energy resources, the Euphrates dam at Tabqa, as well as much of Syria’s best agricultural land.”

      Anglo-American press coverage of the Syrian situation has grossly misled readers about their own governments’ role in the catastrophe, and has urged audiences to accept greater Western military intervention in the country without examining the implications of such a move.

    • For NYT, a Trillion Dollars’ Worth of A-Bombs Is ‘Little’ Response to Russia

      So what does a “little” response look like? Since taking office, the Trump administration and Congress—citing the Russian challenge as one of their major rationales—have increased the military budget by about $80 billion, or roughly 13 percent, the largest increase since the aftermath of 9/11, and 70 percent greater than the entire Russian military budget of $47 billion. (Note that in the late 1970s and early ’80s, the Soviet military budget was bigger in real terms than that of the United States—and yet the USSR still managed to lose the Cold War.)

      Additionally, Trump has reportedly asked for a “black budget” of over $80 billion for covert operations ($30 billion more than previous reports), and pledged more than $1.2 trillion to building up the United States’ nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years, $200 billion more than Obama asked Congress for when he announced the plan two years ago.

    • The Elephant In The Room

      Nerve agents including Sarin and VX are manufactured by the British Government in Porton Down, just 8 miles from where Sergei Skripal was attacked. The official British government story is that these nerve agents are only manufactured “To help develop effective medical countermeasures and to test systems”.

      The UK media universally accepted that the production of polonium by Russia was conclusive evidence that Vladimir Putin was personally responsible for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. In the case of Skripal, po-faced articles like this hilarious one in the Guardian speculate about where the nerve agent could possibly have come from – while totally failing to mention the fact that incident took place only eight miles from the largest stock of nerve agent in western Europe.

    • What the Saudi leaks tell us: An interview with Julian Assange

      Since June 2015 WikiLeaks has been releasing details of leaked cables and other documents from within the Saudi Foreign Office. Julian Assange explains what’s inside.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Council Of Europe Agrees New Guidelines On Media Pluralism, Transparency Of Media Ownership

      The Strasbourg, France-based Council of Europe today adopted a recommendation containing a range of guidelines aimed at managing the effects of modern technology on the media sector and media pluralism. The recommendation sets out a comprehensive framework of guidelines for a “pluralist, transparent and participatory” media environment, online and offline.

    • CIA Still Arguing Its Official Leaks To Journalists Shouldn’t Be Subject To FOIA Requests

      Last week, a federal judge pointed out the obvious to the CIA: release-to-one is release-to-all, no matter how the agency’s lawyers spin it. The CIA had emailed classified information to certain journalists. When another journalist sought copies of those emails, the CIA handed him fully-redacted versions. Obviously, they weren’t redacted when they were sent to select members of the public. Why would the CIA feel the need to redact the information now when another member of the public asked for it?

      The CIA argued it had every right to hand out classified info to whoever it saw fit and then turn around and refuse to hand it over when an FOIA requester requested it. It said the classified info it gave to journalists was never published by those journalists, so it was technically not a public release. The judge shot back, stating that the CIA had effectively waived its right to withhold this information by handing it out to journalists in the first place.

  • Finance
    • Co-op becomes first UK supermarket to scrap queues for customers – and all you have to do is shop and go [Ed: Terrible idea. Greed.]

      The Co-op has become the UK’s first supermarket to introduce a no-queues policy – and shoppers can simply pick up their groceries and walk out.

      The new initiative, dubbed shop, scan and go, will allow time-pressed customers to complete payments on their phones, without visiting a till.

    • Slush Pool is Now Compatible With AsicBoost Bitcoin Miners

      “The protocol extension we propose and already implemented allows [miners] to use overt AsicBoost over stratum protocol, which was not yet possible,” Slush Pool CTO Pavel Moravec told Bitcoin Magazine. “Mining can now get even closer to the theoretical lower limit on power consumption so that there is less space for finding optimization.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast: The Desperation, Secrecy and Conflicts of Jared Kushner’s Company

      We’ve seen headline after headline about Jared Kushner. We’ve heard that Trump’s son-in-law company has been on a global search for cash, that the company got giant loans from two big financial firms after Kushner met with officials from the companies in the White House, and that countries believe they can manipulate Kushner through his “complex” business arrangements.

      Just like his father-in-law, Kushner has not fully divested from his family’s business. He still owns at least $761 million in assets. Meanwhile, the company has found itself owing hundreds of millions of dollars in debt that comes due in less than a year.

      All of this while the company has worked very hard to keep some of its partners a secret.

    • French Government Wants To Toss Far-Right Political Leader In Jail For Posting Images Of Terrorist Atrocities

      France’s decision to inhibit free speech in response to local terrorist attacks has resulted in ridiculous applications of laws being written (and rewritten) on the fly. The current French president — and supposed moderate — wants to “ban” fake news and the French government has previously expressed a desire to censor websites for national security reasons. The attack on satirical publication Charlie Hebdo supposedly prompted French government officials to stand in solidarity with free speech. This show of unity was followed immediately by multiple arrests for violations of France’s speech laws — including the arrest of comedian for an anti-Semitic Facebook post and another for posting a video mocking dead policemen.

    • Could It Happen Here? Donald Trump, Tony Judt, and the Future of American Democracy

      Is Trump’s election a step on the road to authoritarianism, or is he an anomaly? That depends on us.

    • What We Found in Trump’s Drained Swamp: Hundreds of Ex-Lobbyists and D.C. Insiders

      When the Trump administration took office early last year, hundreds of staffers from lobbying firms, conservative think tanks and Trump campaign groups began pouring into the very agencies they once lobbied or whose work they once opposed.

      Today we’re making available, for the first time, an authoritative searchable database of 2,475 political appointees, including Trump’s Cabinet, staffers in the White House and senior officials within the government, along with their federal lobbying and financial records. Trump Town is the result of a year spent filing hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests; collecting and organizing staffing lists; and compiling, sifting through and publishing thousands of financial disclosure reports.

    • The Trump Appointee Behind the Move to Add a Citizenship Question to the Census

      In December, the Department of Justice requested that the Census Bureau add a question to the 2020 survey that would ask respondents to reveal whether or not they are U.S. citizens. Since ProPublica first reported the DOJ’s letter, civil rights groups and congressional Democrats have announced their opposition, arguing that in the midst of President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown, the question will lead many people to opt out of the census, resulting in an inaccurate population count.

      A lot is at stake. The once-a-decade population count determines how House seats are distributed and helps determine where hundreds of billions of federal dollars are spent.

      But one question regarding the December letter remained unclear. The letter was signed by a career staffer in a division of the DOJ whose main function is handling budget and procurement matters. Who, observers wondered, was actually driving the policy change?

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Parliament approves “Internet Censorship Bill” – What happens next

      The National Assembly has approved legislation that aims to allow the FPB to regulate the distribution of online content in South Africa.

      Known as the Internet Censorship Bill, the Film and Publications Amendment Bill includes provisions to give the FPB powers to have online content blocked in South Africa.

      This includes “user-generated content”, such as posts published to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media services.

      According to reports, the National Assembly vote was 189 in favour, 35 against, and no abstentions.

    • We are probably going back to Emergency era: Shyam Benegal
    • Is Censorship A Necessary Evil?

      With more than 1000 films being released every year, in India censorship of films has not only been a debate in the legal fraternity but also a topic of discussion at the family dinner table. The recent delay and cuts in the movie “Padmavati” is just one of the many examples of censorship in India. The current trend of CBFC of cutting scenes and banning of movies has raised various questions in people’s mind which need clarification.

    • Eliminating Free Speech – Internet Censorship in the Trump Era

      Trump’s election victory was the Reichstag fire of internet censorship. The fury and conspiracy theories that followed were not just about bringing down President Trump, but ending free speech online.

      It’s no coincidence that the central conspiracy theory surrounding the 2016 election involves free speech or that the solution is internet censorship. The claim that Russian trolls and bots rigged the election has zero actual evidence behind it. But it’s a convenient tool for not only delegitimizing Trump, but the very idea of a free and open internet where anyone can say anything they choose.

      Senator Ben Cardin, Rep. Jerry Nadler and other members of Congress compared the election influence conspiracy to Pearl Harbor. Rep. Jim Himes went even further, suggesting that it had eclipsed 9/11 by claiming that it, “is up there with Pearl Harbor in terms of its seriousness as a challenge to this country.”

    • Judges impose self-censorship under gov’t pressure: CHP head Kılıçdaroğlu

      Judges in Turkey have been obliged to impose self-censorship due to government pressure and issue their verdicts according to the expectations of the presidency, the head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has said, amid discussions over the impartiality of the judicial system.

      “Judges have come to a point where they can no longer hand judgements in line with their conscience in a country under a one-man regime. They impose self-censorship. They are concerned about angering the person at the presidency with his or her verdict. They either delay the verdicts or they issue them in line with the expectation of the person in the palace,” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told his parliamentary group on March 7.

    • Palestinian journalists protest Facebook censorship

      Palestinian journalists staged a demonstration outside the UN office in Gaza City on Monday, “to protest Facebook’s practice of blocking Palestinian Facebook accounts”, reported Al Jazeera.

      Participants held banners saying “Facebook is complicit in [Israel’s] crimes” and “Facebook favours the [Israeli] occupation”.

      Monday’s protest was organized by the Journalists Support Committee, a Palestinian NGO.

      Speaking at the demonstration, Salama Maarouf, a spokesperson for Hamas, said Facebook was “a major violator of freedom of opinion and expression”.

    • ‘Internet Censorship Bill’ approved

      The controversial Films and Publications Amendment Bill, labelled by some as the “Internet Censorship Bill”, has been passed by the National Assembly.

      According to the Parliamentary Monitoring group, the Bill was passed by the National Assembly on 6 March and will now be transmitted to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for concurrence. After that it heads to the desk of the president to be signed into law.

      The Bill is supposed to address the shortcomings of the Films and Publications Act of 1996, but has come under fierce scrutiny since it was first gazetted, with many calling for it to be overhauled for infringing on freedom of speech.

    • WATCH: ‘Inxeba’ ruling a ‘victory against censorship’: filmmakers

      The critically-acclaimed local film Inxeba (The Wound) may have won a legal battle, but its war is far from over, as filmmakers will be back in court at the end of March.

      The movie’s creators scored a victory on Tuesday when the North Gauteng High Court overturned the Film and Publication Board Appeals Tribunal’s decision, to give the film an age restriction of X18.

    • Inxeba returns to cinemas nationwide

      The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has ruled that the X-rating on the film Inxeba: The Wound can be lifted meaning the film can now be shown in local cinemas with an 18 age restriction pending court proceedings that have been postponed until March 28.

    • Offensive? Censorship? Inxeba in court over X18 rating

      The main argument of the applicant on its court papers is that as things now stand – the classification as hardcore pornography – the film can only be viewed at “adult premises” aka “sex shops” and no longer at mainstream cinemas.

      An appeal against the reclassification of the film was made at the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

      The decision over the 18 rating has been postponed to March 28.

      This is a development of critical importance to Inxeba.

    • A blow against censorship
    • WATCH: ‘Inxeba’ ruling a ‘victory against censorship’: filmmakers
    • Can Someone Explain How SESTA Will Stop Sex Trafficking?
    • The New Israel Anti-Boycott Act Is Still Unconstitutional
    • Rhode Island Law Would Mandate Porn Filters, Charge You $20 Per Device To Bypass Them
    • Famous Racist Sues Twitter Claiming It Violates His Civil Rights As A Racist To Be Kicked Off The Platform

      We’ve seen a bunch of lawsuits of late filed by very angry people who have been kicked off of, or somehow limited by, various social media platforms. There’s Dennis Prager’s lawsuit against YouTube as well as Chuck Johnson’s lawsuit against Twitter. Neither of these have any likelihood of success. These platforms have every right to kick off whoever they want, and Section 230 of the CDA pretty much guarantees an easy win.

      Now we have yet another one of these, Jared Taylor, a self-described “race realist” and “white advocate” (what most of us would call an out and out racist), has sued Twitter for kicking him and his organization off its platform. Taylor is represented by a few lawyers, including Marc Randazza, who I know and respect, but with whom I don’t always agree — and this is one of those cases. I think Randazza took a bad case and is making some fairly ridiculous arguments that will fail badly. Randazza declined to comment on my questions about this case, but his co-counsel — law professor Adam Candeub and Noah Peters — both were kind enough to discuss for quite some time their theory on the case, and to debate my concerns about why the lawsuit will so obviously fail. We’ll get to their responses soon, but first let’s look at the lawsuit itself.

      To the credit of these lawyers, they make a valiant effort to distinguish this case from the Prager and Johnson cases, which appear to be just completely ridiculous. The Taylor case makes the most thorough argument I’ve seen for why Twitter can’t kick someone off its platform. It’s still so blatantly wrong and will almost certainly get laughed out of court, but the legal arguments are marginally better than those found in the other similar cases we’ve seen.

    • Subtle Censorship: A Gateway to Sovereignty

      “Both my maternal great-grandparents immigrated to the United States,” Dr. Kara Ritzheimer began. “I grew up hearing stories about my great-grandparents from my mother. As a teenager, I traveled to Germany and met my relatives there on my great-grandmother’s side, and I’ve stayed in very close contact with them.”

      Ritzheimer is an associate professor of history at Oregon State University, where she continues research in modern European history with an emphasis in modern German history. Her interest began with the female agency she heard about in stories from her mother. While that is still of interest, her work has led her to studying censorship of “trash” or “smut” in Germany surrounding WWI.

      Her work provides some food for thought about what censorship looks like, how it can be implemented, and the harm it causes. While the world of WWI Germany is much different than the U.S. today, censorship and its threats have changed surprisingly little.

      Ritzheimer contextualizes her work, explaining that prior to WWI, “trash first referred to serialized novels and then dime novels,” short stories of no more than 25 pages with bright covers, detailing the often violent or macabre adventures of characters like Sherlock Holmes and Buffalo Bill.

    • Controversial YouTubers head to alternative platforms in wake of ‘purge’

      SteemIt’s CEO Ned Scott doesn’t believe in censorship; a stance that has won him and his platform fans in recent months.

      The appeal of video platform, DTube, which runs on the Steem blockchain database, is almost directly tied to what many creators allege has been happening on YouTube for more than a year: the “YouTube Purge,” an alleged condemnation of right-wing political channels, pro-gun advocates and conspiracy theorists, that’s led to claims of censorship on Google’s video platform.

      As YouTube attempts to crack down on content it deems hateful, bullying or promoting dangerous conspiracy theories, people are looking for alternatives. DTube is a decentralized video platform with little to no moderation that uses cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to pay its users. BitChute is similar, but whereas DTube takes much of its design inspiration from YouTube, BitChute looks like an older version of LiveLeaks. The creators of BitChute describe themselves as a “small team making a stand against Internet censorship because we believe it is the right thing to do.”

    • Comcast Protected Browsing Blocks TorrentFreak, Showing Why Site-Blocking Sucks Out Loud Always

      While site-blocking is now a global phenomena, every country appears to be on a different trajectory in how it does this new flavor of censorship. Russia, for instance, looks for any excuse to block the availability of a website on its soil, resulting in absolutely hilarious amounts of collateral damage. Italy is slightly more judicious, but still does its site-blocking sans due process, whereas Ireland has just begun to open the door to site-blocking, with all kinds of major media companies just waiting to barge through it. Here in America, site-blocking is typically reserved for streaming sites during major sporting events and the voluntary blocking companies like Comcast offer with its “Protected Browsing” service.

      But let’s be clear: all of these points on the spectrum suck out loud. Collateral damage is the rule, not the outlier, and these efforts at justified censorship always creep, if not dash, towards the other line of reasonable behavior. As an example of this, let’s go back to the site-blocking Comcast performs for customers who enable its “Protected Browsing” feature. This feature is supposed to protect internet users from malware, unwanted pornography, and pirate sites. It also apparently keeps people from being able to access news sites like TorrentFreak.

    • Anti-censorship bill for student journalists awaits Washington governor’s signature

      In just a few days’ time, school administrators in Washington state may no longer get the final call on what publishes in their school newspapers — students will.

      On Monday afternoon, the state Senate approved the amended version of Senate Bill 5064, a bill that’s been introduced in various forms since 1992, including four times in the last decade. The vote count was 45 to 4. Sunnyside Republican Jim Honeyford was among those voting against the bill.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Shadow Brokers’ NSA data dump offers up more revelations

      A group of Hungarian researchers found that the National Security Agency (NSA) was able to scan for and track nation-state threat groups when NSA workers were conducting operations inside other country’s systems.

      The research comes from the Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security, also known as CrySyS Lab, reported The Intercept. The tracking was accomplished using scripts that could spot other nation-state hackers that were inside the same machines as the NSA. The Intercept said CrySys found the NSA was able to track 45 foreign operations. This tracking ability were discovered among the trove of NSA documents spilled by The Shadow Brokers several years ago.

    • The Leaked NSA Spy Tool That Hacked the World

      Leaked to the public not quite a year ago, EternalBlue has joined a long line of reliable hacker favorites. The Conficker Windows worm infected millions of computers in 2008, and the Welchia remote code execution worm wreaked havoc 2003. EternalBlue is certainly continuing that tradition—and by all indications it’s not going anywhere. If anything, security analysts only see use of the exploit diversifying as attackers develop new, clever applications, or simply discover how easy it is to deploy.

      “When you take something that’s weaponized and a fully developed concept and make it publicly available you’re going to have that level of uptake,” says Adam Meyers, vice president of intelligence at the security firm CrowdStrike. “A year later there are still organizations that are getting hit by EternalBlue—still organizations that haven’t patched it.”


      Microsoft released its EternalBlue patches on March 14 of last year. But security update adoption is spotty, especially on corporate and institutional networks. Within two months, EternalBlue was the centerpiece of the worldwide WannaCry ransomware attacks that were ultimately traced to North Korean government hackers. As WannaCry hit, Microsoft even took the “highly unusual step” of issuing patches for the still popular, but long-unsupported Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 operating systems.

    • Spy v. Spy: An NSA Leak Reveals the Agency’s List of Enemy Hackers

      When the still-unidentified group calling itself the Shadow Brokers spilled a collection of NSA tools onto the internet in a series of leaks starting in 2016, they offered a rare glimpse into the internal operations of the the world’s most advanced and stealthy hackers. But those leaks haven’t just let the outside world see into the NSA’s secret capabilities. They might also let us see the rest of the world’s hackers through the NSA’s eyes.

      Over the last year, Hungarian security researcher Boldizsár Bencsáth has remained fixated by one of the less-examined tools revealed in that disemboweling of America’s elite hacking agency: A piece of NSA software, called “Territorial Dispute,” appears to have been designed to detect the malware of other nation-state hacker groups on a target computer that the NSA had penetrated. Bencsáth believes that specialized antivirus tool was intended not to remove other spies’ malware from the victim machine, but to warn the NSA’s hackers of an adversary’s presence, giving them a chance to pull back rather than potentially reveal their tricks to an enemy.

    • Leaked Files Show How the NSA Tracks Other Countries’ Hackers

      When the mysterious entity known as the “Shadow Brokers” released a tranche of stolen NSA hacking tools to the internet a year ago, most experts who studied the material homed in on the most potent tools, so-called zero-day exploits that could be used to install malware and take over machines. But a group of Hungarian security researchers spotted something else in the data, a collection of scripts and scanning tools that the National Security Agency uses to detect other nation-state hackers on the machines it infects.

    • Judge raises doubts in NSA hoarder case

      Prosecutors and a defense attorney squared off here Tuesday over a thorny legal question that a federal judge declared unprecedented: whether a National Security Agency contractor can be convicted under the Espionage Act for taking home highly classified documents he may not have known he had.

      There’s little doubt that Hal Martin, a computer specialist who worked with an elite NSA hacking unit, had a large volume of classified information at his Maryland home in 2016 when the FBI showed up with a search warrant.

    • The New Surveillance State and the Old Perjury Trap

      We now know that a significant number of people affiliated with Donald Trump were surveilled during and after the 2016 campaign, some under warrants, some via “inadvertent” or accidental surveillance. That surveillance is now being used against these individuals in perjury cases, particularly to press them to testify against others, and will likely form the basis of Robert Mueller’s eventual action against the president himself.

      How did the surveillance state become so fully entrenched in the American political process? Better yet, how did we let it happen?

      The role pervasive surveillance plays in politics today has been grossly underreported. Set aside what you think about the Trump presidency for a moment and focus instead on the new paradigm for how politics and justice work inside the surveillance state.

    • TorGuard VPN : Secure your web traffic
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Trump Created the DACA Immigration Crisis, and He Could Fix It Right Now

      Monday was the deadline President Trump gave Congress to put into law the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and protect nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to America as children. There’s no fix yet to a problem that Trump himself created six months ago when he ended DACA by executive action.

      The Supreme Court last week left in place a federal judge’s order temporarily continuing the program, thus denying Trump the chance to immediately carry out one of the cruelest policies of his presidency: deporting the Dreamers, as the DACA participants are known. Yet this is only a partial reprieve. Those who have DACA status can apply to renew the permits that allow them to be in the United States legally, but there’s no path for more than 1 million young people who do not already have DACA status and thus have no protection from deportation at all.

      Over the last six months, immigrant community groups have had to become experts at suicide prevention as the anxiety of being caught by Trump’s agents becomes overwhelming for some, while thousands of immigrant youth have had to organize to fight for their right to exist in the country they call home.

    • The Trial Against Kobach Kicks Off: Here’s What You Should Know

      Blocked from voting, three Kansans took the stand against Kris Kobach and the law that disenfranchised them.

      Tuesday was the first day of the Fish v. Kobach voting rights trial. The ACLU and Kris Kobach, Secretary of State of Kansas, squared off over a 2013 Kansas law which requires people to produce citizenship documents, like a birth certificate or U.S. passport, in order to register to vote. Kansas is one of only two states that imposes such a requirement, known as a documentary proof-of-citizenship or the DPOC law.

      The ACLU successfully blocked the law in 2016, prevailing in both the federal district court in Kansas and the Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. The case is now back before Judge Julie Robinson for trial, the outcome of which will determine whether or not the law is struck down permanently. The ACLU represents the League of Women Voter and individuals disenfranchised by the law, three of whom took the stand to share their experiences. In an unusual move, Kobach — who is being sued in his official capacity as secretary of state — chose to represent himself in court.

      Kobach and Dale Ho, ACLU’s Voting Rights Director, each delivered opening statements, which set the stage for the week ahead.

    • West Virginia’s Little-Known Riot Act

      An obscure law that came to light during the teachers strike gives police expansive powers to crack down on protesters.


      This means the law could be used to impose harsh measures against a group of entirely peaceful protesters and those around them — individuals who, say, step off a sidewalk and onto a street because of the number of people nearby, or who can’t hear a dispersal order or get out of a crowd quickly enough once it is deemed unlawful.

      In many ways, these dangers mirror the troubling nature of the broader anti-protest legislative trend around the country. Rather than address the substantive issues raised by the powerful protests of the last two years — like racial justice, environmental protection, and the rights of indigenous communities — legislators have instead chosen to introduce bills that would pressure protesters to quiet their dissent.

    • Florida’s Governor Will Sign Bill Expanding Workers’ Comp Benefits for First Responders

      Josh Vandegrift was just starting a 24-hour shift for the Cocoa Fire Department on Florida’s Space Coast when the call came in: A pedestrian had been hit by a vehicle about 100 yards from the station where he worked.

      Vandegrift and other firefighter paramedics responded by ambulance, and Vandegrift cleared bystanders out of the way.

      “I looked down and I saw my brother’s face on the patient,” he said.

      Nate Vandegrift, his younger brother, had been hit by a commercial van crossing the street. Josh Vandegrift reverted back to his training and began to treat his brother. Then he was removed from the scene by police officers. “I remember just absolutely losing it in the middle of the road.”

    • LAPD Finally Starts Fixing Its Awful Body Camera Policy, But It’s Not All Good News

      It appears the city of Los Angeles is finally going to revise its terrible police body camera policy. Nearly $60 million was spent outfitting officers with cameras, but the end result provided little value to taxpayers. As it stands now, the only way to access footage is to engage in civil litigation with the police department (over violated rights, not rejected records requests) or be a defendant in a criminal case. Even then, a judge still has to be convinced you have a right to see the footage, even if you’re one of the subjects.

    • LAPD Mulls Over New Body Cam Video Release Policy
    • What would an Iranian secularism look like?

      The Iranian government is not determined enough to implement change, nor does it have the authority and resources to embrace the reforms people are demanding. Meanwhile, in restaurants, coffee shops, streets, schools, newspapers and sometimes even on state TV, people are discussing and talking about reform.

      People ask valid questions that rarely find viable answers by those who are supposed to find answers: will women, comprising half of Iran’s population, be finally officially permitted to watch football matches live in stadiums? Will the debate on the necessity or appropriateness of “compulsory veil” come to an end, as there’s no “solution” for what seems to be a “social dilemma” rather than a “problem” or as what some religious figures say, a “moral crisis” being injected from the overseas to pollute the pious minds? Will Iranian males, after graduating with their bachelors, refrain from harming themselves physically, i.e. pulling out their healthy teeth, or paying absence fines in order to avoid being enlisted for compulsory military service? Will Iranian sports be depoliticized with Iranian wrestlers, sportswomen, chess-players and other athletes stop losing international opportunities or being penalised due to their voluntary or involuntary decisions in refusing to face Israeli opponents?

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Why Is Hollywood Pushing A Totally Bogus Push Poll Trying To Undermine The Internet?

      The ad is from “CreativeFuture”, an MPAA front group that pretends to be representing the interests of “artists” but miraculously only seems to promote the extreme viewpoints of the giant Hollywood studios (imagine that). The group is often the go to quote for the copyright extremist position — and has a history of basically blaming technology for Hollywood’s own failures to adapt.

      Not surprisingly, then, that it’s now running this highly unscientific “survey” with a bunch of ridiculous leading questions, to try to argue that internet companies aren’t doing enough and that Congress should destroy the laws that protect the open internet. You can check out the survey yourself, but let’s dig into the questions and just how leading and/or silly they are.

    • Nobody (Even His Industry BFFs) Likes Ajit Pai’s Latest Attack On Low Income Broadband Programs

      So we’ve noted a few times how Trump FCC boss Ajit Pai enjoys wandering the country informing everyone he’s a massive champion of closing the digital divide. But those claims have been repeatedly and consistently undermined by Pai’s own actions, whether that involves rolling back net neutrality (a move that will make life harder and more expensive for countless consumers, non-profits, minority communities and startups alike), or his slow but steady dismantling of programs intended to make life a little bit easier for the poor.

      One of Pai’s biggest targets has been the FCC’s Lifeline program. It’s an arguably modest program that was started by Reagan and expanded by Bush, and it long enjoyed bipartisan support until the post-truth era rolled into town. Lifeline doles out a measly $9.25 per month subsidy that low-income homes can use to help pay a tiny fraction of their wireless, phone, or broadband bills (enrolled participants have to chose one). The FCC under former FCC boss Tom Wheeler had voted to expand the service to cover broadband connections, something Pai (ever a champion to the poor) voted down.

    • Middle Schoolers Cheer As Oregon Passes A Net Neutrality Law

      More than half of all states are now pushing their own net neutrality rules in the wake of the federal repeal. Some states are pushing for new net neutrality laws that closely mirror the discarded FCC rules, while others are signing executive orders that prohibit states from doing business with ISPs that behave anti-competitively. And while these discordant laws may make doing business from state to state harder on incumbent ISPs, that’s probably something they should have thought about before dismantling arguably modest (and hugely popular) federal protections.

      This week Oregon became the latest state to sign net neutrality protections into law with what was largely bipartisan support. House Bill 4155 largely mirrors the FCC ban on things like paid-prioritization and anti-competitive blocking and throttling, though (also like the discarded FCC rules) it wouldn’t address usage caps and overage fees or zero rating, one of the key areas where anti-competitive behavior often takes root. The bill also carves out numerous exemptions for legitimate instances of prioritization (medical care, prioritized VoIP services).

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • SPCs in France: an uncertainty disappears and a few days appear

      The French National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) has just dispelled doubts by means of an official statement( ) it is now possible for holders of a supplementary protection certificate (SPC), issued in France before October 6, 2015, to require extension of their protection duration.

    • Copyrights
      • loses to German publisher and is found liable for damages

        In a year-long legal battle between the ‘not-for-profit-corporation’ Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, its CEO and the German publishing house S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, the District Court of Frankfurt (Landgericht Frankfurt am Main) has found Gutenberg in breach of German copyright law.

      • Project Gutenberg Blocks Access In Germany To All Its Public Domain Books Because Of Local Copyright Claim On 18 Of Them

        Project Gutenberg, which currently offers 56,000 free ebooks, is one of the treasures of the Internet, but it is not as well known as it should be. Started in 1991 by Michael S. Hart, who sadly died in 2011, Project Gutenberg is dedicated to making public domain texts widely available. Over the last 25 years, volunteers have painstakingly entered the text of books that are out of copyright, and released them in a variety of formats. The site is based in the US, and applies US law to determine whether a book has entered the public domain. Since copyright law is fragmented and inconsistent around the world, this can naturally lead to the situation that a book in the public domain in the US is still in copyright elsewhere.

      • Fair Use and Platform Safe Harbors in NAFTA

        Negotiators from Mexico, Canada and the United States were in Mexico City this week for a tense seventh round of negotiations over a modernized version of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. With President Trump’s announcement of tough new unilateral tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, and the commencement of the Mexican election season later this month, pressure to conclude the deal—or for the United States to withdraw from it—is mounting. In all of this, there is a risk that the issues that are of concern to Internet users are being sidelined.

      • Ten Hours of Static Gets Five Copyright Notices

        Sebastian Tomczak blogs about technology and sound, and has a YouTube channel. In 2015, Tomczak uploaded a ten-hour video of white noise. Colloquially, white noise is persistent background noise that can be soothing or that you don’t even notice after a while. More technically, white noise is many frequencies played at equal intensity. In Tomczak’s video, that amounted to ten hours of, basically, static.

        In the beginning of 2018, as a result of YouTube’s Content ID system, a series of copyright claims were made against Tomczak’s video. Five different claims were filed on sound that Tomczak created himself. Although the claimants didn’t force Tomczak’s video to be taken down they all opted to monetize it instead. In other words, ads on the ten-hour video would now generate revenue for those claiming copyright on the static.

        Normally, getting out of this arrangement would have required Tomczak to go through the lengthy counter-notification process, but Google decided to drop the claims. Tomczak believes it’s because of the publicity his story got. But hoping your takedown goes viral or using the intimidating counter-notification system is not a workable way to get around a takedown notice.

      • 9th Circuit ‘slam-dunks’ claim of copyright infringement by Nike photograph of Michael Jordan and ‘Jumpman’ logo

        Judge Owens agreed (in part) with the rest of the panel, but disagreed in the sense that questions of substantial similarity are inherently factual and should therefore have been addressed by the lower court: “Where no discovery has taken place, we should not say that, as a matter of law, the Nike photo could never be substantially similar to the Rentmeester photo. This is an inherently factual question which is often reserved for the jury, and rarely for a court to decide at the motion to dismiss stage.”

Patent Trolls and Their Lobbyists Continue to Attack Academics Who Warn About Patent Trolls in Europe

Thursday 8th of March 2018 07:38:45 AM

Now they’re ganging up against professors ‘courageous’ enough to talk facts

Summary: In an effort to silence those who sound the alarm about patent trolls in Europe, the trolls and their lobbyists now try to embarrass anyone who merely talks about the problem

A RECENT scholarly study explained how the USPTO helped birth patent trolling in the US. There’s another new study in Europe right now and patent trolls are very much afraid that this new study can impact policy in Europe. Trolls’ legal representatives and paid media (like IAM) help the trolls discredit the study. They just cannot help themselves.

“Trolls’ legal representatives and paid media (like IAM) help the trolls discredit the study.”Professor James Bessen, who spent years of his academic career studying the effect of patent trolls in the US, wrote this simple, factual tweet: “Patent troll litigation rising in Europe” (linking to the study).

What happened next was pretty revealing.

Head of patent troll Dominion Harbor (David Pridham), who defames me and claims I fake my doctorate, responded just like Trump. “#fakenews” was all he said! How immature. Coming from a man who defames me also with talk about testicles and stuff like that. He’s not a man, he’s acting like a child. It’s incredible that someone this infantile was put in charge of anything, let alone a massive patent troll with connections to Microsoft (through Intellectual Ventures, as we last noted a few days ago).

Another gross individual, who habitually writes for Dominion/Pridham, came up with this attack on Professor Bessen (Mr. Gross attacks various academics with defamatory statements while denying that they are professors).

“I do hear from people who get (patent) trolled in Europe.”What a nice bunch, eh? “You’re more likely to get a random trolled Tweet from James Bessen than a lawsuit in Europe,” he wrote. Henrion responded, judging from his own experience: “So maybe iMatix was lucky then.”

I do hear from people who get (patent) trolled in Europe. It’s not a rare thing; it just doesn’t receive sufficient press coverage, certainly not from IAM, which also responded to Bessen with this lie: “The reality is that an SME’s chances of being sued by an NPE in Europe is around 0.000005%. Overall, NPEs account for less than 5% of patent lawsuits filed in Europe.”

“Now they attack professors who ‘dare’ mention the report/study.”This is not true, but IAM is just linking to their staff's attacks on the report. They’re reinforcing their status as spokespeople of patent trolls.

Just like in the US, many troll attacks (assertions) go undetected, but they’re still there. They cause agony and ‘protection’ money is silently being paid. Firms like Bristows just cannot help attacking the report even a month later. Now they attack professors who ‘dare’ mention the report/study. They’re like a pack of hyenas. Some of them issue veiled threats against me — tactics which Bessen said he’s familar with.

EPO Hires External PR Agencies to Control Coverage of Its Annual Report, Deny Investigative Journalism

Thursday 8th of March 2018 06:37:45 AM

It is all about money, not about factual interpretation (with proper fact-checking)

Summary: The EPO’s hallmark of controlling the media as seen in yesterday’s news coverage; so-called ‘media partners’ and various blogs are being played not only by the EPO but also PR agencies that the EPO is hiring

THE European Patent Office (EPO) published so-called ‘results’ yesterday. We quickly wrote a short rebuttal within an hour, expecting the media to play along with the EPO regardless. Because that’s just how such media works. It’s their business model.

This wasn’t our first time rebutting claims of this nature. For background reading/examples see:

Long story short, stock is running out pretty first, assuring EPO layoffs. This isn’t how patent systems are supposed to work. What would be the purpose of examination if it’s not done properly by domain experts? Based on what insiders are saying, examiners are now being assigned to assess applications that aren’t even in their field/domain!

“Based on what insiders are saying, examiners are now being assigned to assess applications that aren’t even in their field/domain!”But facts don’t matter. The EPO has budget. So ‘alternative facts’ can be constructed and then amplified by corruptible (as in easy-to-manipulate) publishers and journalists employed by these publishers. Money helps. I once met one of these journalists at a coffee shop and he told me how his bosses had urged him to write EPO puff pieces. This is no joking matter. The EPO corrupts the media.

The EPO now hires public relations (PR) agencies. We’ve lost count of how many and we named some of them before. Below we are seeing Echolot (Barbara Geier), which is being used as “outside help” in order to spread EPO lies in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

It’s blatantly obvious, based on this new press release which was custom-made for the UK:

Media contacts European Patent Office

Jana Mittermaier, Director External Communication
Rainer Osterwalder, Press spokesperson
EPO press desk : Tel.: +49-89-2399-1820, mobile: +49-163-8399527,

UK media contact

echolot public relations
Barbara Geier
Tel.: +44-7983-242-195

They previously hired several other PR agencies; those too might still be on the payroll. We don’t know for sure because the EPO isn’t as transparent as it likes to claim. Remember that pub Battistelli built for himself for for his 'son' Campinos? Guess whose budget was used. If Battistelli wasn’t boasting immunity, he would probably have been under a very serious investigation by now.

“If Battistelli wasn’t boasting immunity, he would probably have been under a very serious investigation by now.”The PR in the UK (with “UK media contact” listed above) seemed effective enough for puff pieces like “Medtech patents soar in UK”. There are some other puff pieces in the UK, but we’ll name them below irrespective of location.

So the EPO is again wasting stakeholders’ money (budget) on external PR agencies that help amplify lies/spin for Battistelli; is this actually necessary? Is the EPO about examination/granting of patents or self-publicity?

Here is the official press release for the US. Reinforcing its commitment to patent maximalists, UPC, PTAB-bashing (similar to appeal boards) and patent trolls, Watchtroll basically copy-pasted (verbatim) the EPO’s press release with all the propaganda in tact. With friends like these, eh?

“So the EPO is again wasting stakeholders’ money (budget) on external PR agencies that help amplify lies/spin for Battistelli; is this actually necessary? Is the EPO about examination/granting of patents or self-publicity?”Then came the “media partner” of the EPO, which habitually posts puff pieces for the Office. “Chinese firm Huawei leads European patent applications,” said the headline. There was similar stuff in the Chinese media and even in German. They’re emphasising China, just like we predicted, as it makes the EPO look like it’s surging. “Huawei top filer at EPO in 2017″ was WIPR’s headline. Mind the time of this article that had been published by China’s official state media even before the EPO published it, which means that the EPO’s PR department coordinated dissemination of the latest lie in advance. With China even…

Also mind the ‘blog’ of the EPO/Battistelli (warning: link) with the expected focus on China (as predicted). To quote:

Over the last few years the number of applications from Chinese inventors has been growing at a very fast rate. In 2016 applications from China grew by 24.8% and last year there was another increase of 16.6%.

Nice cherry-picking. All about China, eh? Watch how the EPO framed this blog post (“A responsive EPO”). “He means to say EPO that just works shoddily and quickly,” I told them. Sort of like SIPO (China)…

It’s actually a tad disappointing that IP Watch was quoting from the EPO’s press release (rather than investigate the bigger picture).

“Patent quality has fallen and pending work has been slapped away carelessly; this will lead to layoffs.”German media, which the EPO targeted with a humongous budget, was well under the EPO’s thumb this time. German media that never bothers reporting on EPO scandals was happy to parrot the EPO’s claims, even in English. Then there’s the English press release from Siemens and the press release from Philips. The Local, which always issues a lot of puff pieces about these results, did the usual thing (it will probably do more in days to come).

A site that typically covers SUEPO affairs participated in the EPO’s PR (not for the first time). This article overlooks the full story entirely (not too surprisingly). Patent quality has fallen and pending work has been slapped away carelessly; this will lead to layoffs.

“If it weren’t for the EPO wasting a fortune on PR, there would probably be almost no press coverage.”The Battistelli and UPC proponent known as Managing IP relayed the EPO’s talking points, but this was more of less expected. “The EPO’s annual report reveals the top patent filers in Europe in 2017. Filing trends included a 5.8% increase in patent applications from the US,” it said. They did not mention the ‘discounts’ that led to this? No. What would the numbers look without any ‘discounts’? Another decline (like last year’s)?

“Over 10% more granted European patents in 2017,” the EPO bragged. “You’re running out of stock,” I told them. “You grant in error.”

The EPO was soon just linking to one of several promotional videos like this one and the zombie-like Battistelli (he’s an appalling speaker, irrespective of his mother’s tongue). Watch the rather pathetic numbers (less than 100 views after almost a day). If it weren’t for the EPO wasting a fortune on PR, there would probably be almost no press coverage. But we already know how the EPO exploits money to control media and more recently academia, too [1, 2].

Benoît Battistelli and Confidants Like Bergot Want to Make a Lot of EPO Staff Redundant Without the Staff Ever Noticing

Thursday 8th of March 2018 05:38:25 AM

Gagging unions and representatives is the first phase

Old: Battistelli Puts ‘Team Battistelli’ in Charge of ‘Scrutinising’ His Proposals

Downsizing not due to automation but because of greed that lowered patent quality and repelled applicants (now being offered ‘discounts’ to still entice them, after the number of applications dropped)

Summary: The EPO’s (Organisation) Boards Of Appeal are not being replaced by UPC (as UPC fails to arrive), but staff of the EPO (Office) now faces the prospect of mass layoffs, before or just after the arrival of President Campinos

THE future of the EPO does not look bright. The EPO, in our humble assessment, is changing the rules to facilitate upcoming layoffs with the Council’s consent. This is clearly not what examiners signed up for. Who would trust EPO after that?

“This is clearly not what examiners signed up for.”There’s 'peak censorship' at the EPO right now; even staff representatives are being gagged. They’re not really allowed to speak to staff whom they represent. Flow of information is being suppressed if not cut.

Just before the media was taken over by the EPO’s PR department with external help (more on that in our next post), World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR) published this article about a provision to lay off any EPO member of staff (living abroad with family) instantaneously (like Battistelli intended):

European Patent Office (EPO) president Benoît Battistelli has ensured that a controversial term in an employment proposal has been dropped, just weeks before the EPO’s supervisory body, the Administrative Council (AC), will deliberate the plan.

Battistelli and Elodie Bergot, principal director of human resources, had added a motion to discuss the plan to recruit staff on renewable contracts of five years during a budget and finance committee meeting in October last year.

A first discussion of the proposal, which is called the “Modernisation of the employment framework of the EPO”, took place during the AC’s meeting in December.

It was then amended to include article 53(1)(f) of the EPO’s Service Regulations, which read: “Without prejudice to the expiry of a fixed-term appointment in the same circumstances, the appointing authority may decide to terminate the service of an employee: … (f) if the exigencies of the service require abolition of their post or a reduction of staff.”

The removal of this provision is almost a Pyrrhic victory because what remains is still very harmful to staff. It’s Battistelli’s infamous negotiation tactic wherein he asks for something very extreme and at the end makes “concessions” that still leave a pretty radical proposal in tact. We wrote about this before. It’s not the first time. Based on what sources told us, the removal of this provision was Battistelli's own action. Maybe it’s the strategy he had all along (giving staff the mere impression that they accomplish a “compromise”).

“In 2016 it was projected that layoffs would start some time around 2018.”We don’t intend to frustrate or depress staff; we’re just trying to be realistic here. It looks like the media lost its tongue and EPO insiders are too afraid to speak out in this current, hostile climate. Regarding layoffs, these were foreseen in 2016 by staff representatives [1, 2]. Most staff is already aware of it. In 2016 it was projected that layoffs would start some time around 2018.

It’s worth noting that Britain’s national patent office (UK-IPO) advertised jobs recently; it’s hiring. It was also making jokes about patents on snow the other day. Back in 2016 we reported that EPO recruitment of Brits had gone down by 80% and sources inside the EPO are concerned that hiring standards collapsed under Bergot (working conditions also). What is the EPO becoming? It can barely attract people who are required to move (relocation to another country).

Regarding the Boards of Appeal, yesterday the EPO wrote again: “Here’s how you can have your say on proposed changes to the Rules of Procedure of our Boards of Appeal.”

“The Boards of Appeal are constantly complaining that they self-censor and cannot rule independently from the Office (without ramifications/dangers to their career).”As we said before, they try to give the bogus impression that the public is participating. In reality, however, the Boards of Appeal have been under unprecedented attacks from Battistelli, who thought they would be scuttled by the UPC. But it’s not happening, is it? So now we have neither a UPC nor a truly functional venue for appeals. The Boards of Appeal are constantly complaining that they self-censor and cannot rule independently from the Office (without ramifications/dangers to their career).

A few hours ago John Leeming from J A Kemp wrote about where Boards of Appeal stand on software patents (they should all be denied).

I wrote to the Boards of Appeal about it in the past, but now that they’re living in fear of Battistelli (who openly supports software patents) can we truly expect them to do what’s right? Leeming wrote:

2017 was a year of change for the Boards of Appeal of the EPO: a new President and a move out of the EPO’s oldest building in the centre of Munich to a suburb, Haar. There has been some recruitment, but overall it appears there are still many vacancies on various Boards. Overall the relevant Boards issued 10% more decisions than in 2016 and Board 3.5.01 in particular has significantly increased its output in the latter part of the year as it now has a chairman.

The so-called “Comvik” approach to mixed inventions has been applied consistently, with Board 3.5.01 introducing the “notional business person” to help distinguish between technical features – which can contribute to inventive step – and non-technical features – which can’t. Nevertheless, the presence of non-technical features in a claim remains a strong predictor of rejection.

This paper reviews notable decisions published in 2017 by the “electrical” Technical Boards of Appeal (Boards 3.5.01, 03, 04, 05, 06 and 07), which most often handle software related inventions, excluding Board 3.5.02 which mostly handles electrical components and hardware.

While we’re sympathetic towards the Boards, historically they have been very much akin to patent maximalists and their rulings went in favour of Battistelli. In his last bit of work (in his capacity as a judge) Patrick Corcoran rejected a software patent of a massive American (US) company that is connected to the EPO. Was the house ban potentially retribution for his stance? Whatever information he was accused of transmitting had already been disseminated by many other members of staff, as we noted here in the past. Why was it him who got targeted and isolated by illegal surveillance? We might never know and it’s likely just a “coincidence” as Minnoye might put it.

A few days ago there was also this article by Ping Li and Olga Bezzubova (Jones Day). It was about the Enlarged Board of Appeal and it said:

A recent decision by the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office confirmed that a 2011 ruling dealing with disclosed disclaimers does not overrule its 2004 decision applying to undisclosed disclaimers.


With its decision in G 1/16, the Enlarged Board of Appeal (“EBA”) of the European Patent Office (“EPO”) clarifies that its 2011 decision in G 2/10 dealing with disclosed disclaimers does not overrule its 2004 decision in G 1/03 that applies to undisclosed disclaimers.


1. The G 1/16 decision confirms that “undisclosed disclaimers” fulfilling the criteria set out in G 1/03 do not introduce added matter.

This case was mentioned here before. It’s a bit old. How long before Battistelli and/or Campinos (Battistelli put him in place and will likely have leverage over him even after his tenure ends) attempt scuttle the Enlarged Board of Appeal along with the other boards? Perhaps as they intended all along? They already put the Board in a building that is not the EPO’s and is basically rented space (as though it was temporary).

Is there a future for the EPO? EPO insiders are actually more negative than us. Some have begun assessing/planning their post-EPO career, assuming — as more EPO insiders do — that the first round of layoffs is coming.

The Right-Wing Alternative für Deutschland Opposes Unitary Patent (UPC), Just Like UKIP in Britain

Thursday 8th of March 2018 04:41:40 AM

Summary: Additional barriers to the UPC in Germany; it seems as though things just get worse — not better — for the UPCA (Unified Patent Court Agreement) over time

TECHRIGHTS does not condone/endorse political parties and certainly does not support AfD (Alternative für Deutschland). It has, however, been mentioned by Mathieu Klos‏ that this nationalist party is becoming aware of the UPC and is opposing it. There was a similar situation involving MP Carswell (when he was in UKIP, after he had left the Conservatives and before he left UKIP to become independent). The link between UKIP and AfD is well documented.

Being parties that mostly/entirely oppose the EU, this should not be entirely surprising. UPC, unlike the EPO/EPC, is quite strongly connected to the EU.

“Being parties that mostly/entirely oppose the EU, this should not be entirely surprising.”Even Bristows’ Richard Pinckney wrote about it yesterday: “The Bundestag (German parliament) has announced here that on 15 March 2018 it will discuss a motion by the AfD (Alternative für Deutschland, Alternative for Germany) political party calling for the repeal of two acts enabling Germany to participate in the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and unitary patent system.”

See? So the UPC is only going backwards in Germany; many people now understand the sham vote by very few politicians who had personal stakes in the outcome. Pinckney went even further yesterday. He wrote about Stjerna’s constitutional complaint:

Dr Stjerna, who filed in the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) the complaint against the legislation enabling Germany to ratify the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC), has published here an update, reporting which parties the BVerfG invited or allowed to comment, and which of those did so.

Here is his update dated one week ago:

In August 2017, the FCC had served the constitutional complaint on both chambers of Parliament (Bundestag and Bundesrat), the Federal Chancellery, the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and all State governments, giving them the opportunity to comment until 31/12/2017 – until 31/01/2018 in case of the Bundestag – (sec.s 23(2), 94(4), 77 of the Federal Constitutional Court Act [BVerfGG]).

Within the same time limit, the Presidents of the Federal Bar Association (BRAK) and of the German Association of Lawyers (DAV) and – in reply to their prior written request – the Presidents of the European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW), of the European Patent Office (EPO), of the German Association for Industrial Property and Copyright (GRUR), of the European Patent Litigators Association (EPLIT) and of the Confederation of German Industry (BDI) were allowed to comment pursuant to sec. 27a BVerfGG.

A statement was filed by the Bundestag and the Federal government as well as by BRAK, DAV, EPLAW, EPA, GRUR and EPLIT.

It is worth noting that the EPO/Team Battistelli says absolutely nothing about the UPC nowadays. In fact, over the past month it has mentioned UPC only by retweets but never directly. It retweeted this promotional tweet earlier this week. It’s about an event stuffed with Battistelli’s friends. I joked with the EPO about it: “Does he [Yann Ménière] come with strings (so that Mr. Battistelli can hold him while he speaks)?”

“It is worth noting that the EPO/Team Battistelli says absolutely nothing about the UPC nowadays.”We already wrote about those attending this event, notably Jérôme Debrulle. By the time this event starts the UPC will have already died due to a combination of Brexit, not to mention the FCC and purely technical/legal grounds like a sham vote, judges lacking independence etc. Battistelli too will have left the Office.

Guest Post: EPO Defrauds Small Patent Applicant Company, Asha Nutrition Sciences, in Collusion with Applicant’s Own Lawyer…

Thursday 8th of March 2018 03:41:47 AM

…depriving Europeans of solutions to lipid problem due to which public health suffers immensely—millions of Europeans are affected costing ~0.8% of GDP annually

Formal Complaint (63 pages)

Summary: The manner in which EPO insists that applicants work through lawyers, combined with the manner in which EPO controls the lawyers practicing at EPO, essentially boils down to EPO exploiting small inventors in collusion with lawyers.

THE foundation to health is nutrition. The most important and difficult to manage nutrients consumed are lipids, which include omega-6, omega-3, and several antioxidants and phytochemicals. Most of the chronic diseases are associated with mismanaged lipid consumption, further immunity and daily well being is affected by lipid consumption, furthermore lipid requirements are different for different members of the family (by body size, hormones…). According to WHO statistics, 33% of Europeans above the age of 15 have a chronic disease (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, cancer, asthma, ADHD), a large part of which is associated with mismanaged lipid consumption including omega-6 and omega-3. Premature deaths of 550,000 working‑age people across European Union countries from chronic diseases cost EU economies EUR 115 billion or 0.8% of GDP annually.

“Board of Appeal disregarded the arguments and mounting evidence and issued a communication raising several far-fetched objections to Asha in April 2017.”Natural lipid sources, oils, nuts and seeds etc, are variable and unreliable in lipid content and composition, and they contain many components that materially affect lipid metabolism. Adding to the complexity is mass confusion in the field with many spins on what is desirable and what is not. For example, many bodies and publications have disparaged omega-6 or taught low amounts of omega-6 and low omega-6 to omega-3 ratios, even though omega-6 is the most critical fatty acid for health. It is extremely complex for public to solve this problem. For example, less than 1% of public can correctly name types of fats/lipids. Unless corrected, the problem will continue to cost millions of lives and billions of Euros every year.

Deeply understanding the problem, a small company, Asha Nutrition Sciences, Inc. (Asha) set out to solve the problem by pre-formulating lipids for public health. As small companies depend on patents to finance efforts, Asha filed for European patents at EPO in 2010.

“There was a sinister collusion at the oral proceedings between the Board and Asha’s lawyer to undermine the applicant.”EPO Examining Division issued many rejections under false pretenses, such as far-fetched clarity objections over terms such as “age of the subject”, and alleging blood lipid profile in a reference document anticipated applicant’s claims directed to lipid formulations for administration to subject. Asha patiently and diligently responded to all rejections, eventually, the case was appealed to EPO Boards of Appeal in July 2015, with long arguments and evidence. Board of Appeal disregarded the arguments and mounting evidence and issued a communication raising several far-fetched objections to Asha in April 2017. Asha responded to Board’s communication and appeared for oral proceedings with the Board on July 27, 2017, where the Board alleged “added matter” on the very claims that the skilled persons of Examining Division did not find added matter. Board inadvertently admitted that it relied upon “added matter” as an excuse to deny the patent.

There was a sinister collusion at the oral proceedings between the Board and Asha’s lawyer to undermine the applicant. There were five people in the room at the oral proceedings held on July 27, 2017. The Board (three men) with an agenda to deny patent because it would have solved many problems (unfavorable to EPO revenue), Asha’s lawyer (one man) concerned about maintaining his relationship with EPO/Board and uninterested in solving the problem because that might adversely affect his other revenue streams (from other clients). The inventor/applicant was alone, ganged upon, and violated by the Board in collusion with applicant’s own lawyer.

“EPO is unethical, tyrannical, and exploitative.”The manner in which EPO insists that applicants work through lawyers, combined with the manner in which EPO controls the lawyers practicing at EPO, essentially boils down to EPO exploiting small inventors in collusion with lawyers.

Lawyers are worried about their relationship with EPO, EPO is just concerned about fees that it collects (EPO is one of the few jurisdictions that requires annuity payments before patent grant, and the highest annuity fees), and EPO is the most unreasonable in that EPO denies restatements as “added matter”. Then EPO is just an unethical bottomline focused business that induces disclosure and denies rights, heedless to innovation. EPO is far from “strict”, strict implies following principles. No principles were followed at the oral proceedings of July 27, 2017. See Formal Complaint.

EPO is unethical, tyrannical, and exploitative. It functions as an oppressive 1920s governmental body, unbefitting of an organization whose charter is to spur innovation.

Links 7/3/2018: KaOS 2018.03, Chrome 65, Microsoft ‘Jails’ Debian

Wednesday 7th of March 2018 11:30:40 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Exploring free and open web fonts

    There is no question that the face of the web has been transformed in recent years by open source fonts. Prior to 2010, the only typefaces you were likely to see in a web browser were the generic “web safe” core fonts from Microsoft. But that year saw the start of several revolutions: the introduction of the Web Open Font Format (WOFF), which offered an open standard for efficiently delivering font files over HTTP, and the launch of web-font services like Google Fonts and the Open Font Library—both of which offered web publishers access to a large collection of fonts, for free, available under open licenses.

    It is hard to overstate the positive impact of these events on web typography. But it can be all too easy to equate the successes of open web fonts with open source typography as a whole and conclude that the challenges are behind us, the puzzles solved. That is not the case, so if you care about type, the good news is there are a lot of opportunities to get involved in improvement.

  • Divisive Politics are destroying Open Source

    Divisive Politics are destroying Open Source. Many Open and Free Software projects have been ripped apart, just in the last year, by politics that seem to serve no purpose other than to divide us as people. I take a look at three recent, and noteworthy, examples: FreeBSD, Node.js (part of the Linux Foundation), and Mozilla. Three organizations that have a massive impact on our lives (even if we don’t know it) — that have had divisive politics cause significant turmoil and damage to not only themselves… but the entire Open Source and technology world.

  • 3 open source tools for scientific publishing

    One industry that lags behind others in the adoption of digital or open source tools is the competitive and lucrative world of scientific publishing. Worth over £19B ($26B) annually, according to figures published by Stephen Buranyi in The Guardian last year, the system for selecting, publishing, and sharing even the most important scientific research today still bears many of the constraints of print media. New digital-era technologies present a huge opportunity to accelerate discovery, make science collaborative instead of competitive, and redirect investments from infrastructure development into research that benefits society.

  • OrbTV: Telefónica’s Lopez on Open Source for Network Automation & Virtualization

    Patrick Lopez, VP of Networks Innovation at Telefónica, talks about how vendors and operators can utilize open source to take more control over the design and programming of networks. In addition, Lopez examines Telefónica’s approach to edge computing, and use cases for the technology such as in IoT and robotics.

  • Check out the now open-source code powering UI layout in Heaven’s Vault

    The dev shared the code powering SLayout on GitHub for fellow developers to download and play with. All in all, Inkle Studios says that SLayout can be used in Unity to provide an easier way to handle layout properties and animation for text and UI elements.

  • Crowdsourcing FOSS Project Success: Clearly defined project data, a smooth path to widespread adoption.

    Today the Open Source Initiative® (OSI) announced its Incubator Project, ClearlyDefined, a crowdsourced project aimed at boosting the success of FOSS projects by clearly defining their status. Absences or ambiguities around licensing or known security vulnerabilities can erode confidence and limit project success. Project teams often are not aware of these concerns or do not know how to address them. ClearlyDefined identifies the gaps and works with project teams to fill them.

    “This is an important project to amplify the success of FOSS projects through wider adoption and confidence. It aligns closely with OSI’s mission to educate and advocate for open source,” said Simon Phipps, President of the board of directors of the OSI, curator of the world’s open source licenses.

  • Web Browsers
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • Conference Recap: APRICOT 2018

      APRICOT is the largest annual internet community conference in the Asia-Pacific region. Nearly one thousand attendees show up for two weeks of workshops, tutorials and presentations. While the primary focus of the conference is on networking, the conference also attracts a sizable number of systems people. I also attended some of the APTLD conference which overlapped for a couple of days during the APRICOT workshop week. This was the first time I attended APRICOT.

    • BSDCan 2018 – selected talks
  • Licensing/Legal
    • GitHub makes open-source project licensing easier with an open-source program

      Open-source licensing can get … complicated. These days, many programs are 20 percent original code on top of 80 percent previously open-sourced code. To help address the resulting licensing complications, GitHub has open sourced Licensed, an internal tool they’ve used to automate some of GitHub’s open-source projects licensing process.

      That’s pretty impressive considering only a few years ago, GitHub’s laissez-faire attitude to licensing had led to 77 percent of all GitHub programs having no licenses at all. If that doesn’t sound important to you, then you’re a developer who’s never tried to commercialize their program.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Making climate models open source makes them even more useful

      Designing climate experiments is all but impossible in the real world. We can’t, for instance, study the effects of clouds by taking away all the clouds for a set period of time and seeing what happens.

      Instead, we have to design our experiments virtually, by developing computer models. Now, a new open-source set of climate models has allowed this research to become more collaborative, efficient and reliable.

  • Programming/Development
    • The top 10 programming languages and skills you need to work in open source

      On Tuesday, job search site Indeed announced that it has joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), an open source software foundation dedicated to making cloud-native computing universal and sustainable.

      The CNCF is part of the The Linux Foundation, and is a vendor-neutral home for fast-growing projects. Indeed relies on open source technologies such as Python, Apache, Mesos, and OpenTracing to build and deliver its products, according to a blog post making the announcement.

    • Software for a service like

      Can anyone recommend software for running a web service similar to

      We are looking for something similar to manage digital assets within the Computing History Special Interest Group.

    • Only code at work? That doesn’t make you a worse programmer

      At the end of the day you’re done with work, you go home—and you don’t spend any of your free time coding. And that’s fine, you have other things going on in your life. But your coworker does spend another 20 hours a week coding, and all that practice means they’ll end up better programmers than you, and so they’ll get promoted faster, and they’ll get paid more. And that’s not fine.

      It’s also not true.

    • A few things I’ve learned about computer networking

      But I thought it could maybe be useful to list a bunch of concrete skills and concepts I’ve learned along the way. Like anything else, “computer networking” involves a large number of different concepts and skills and tools and I’ve learned them all one at a time. I picked most of these things up over the last 4 years.

  • The Great AMP Debate: The Ethics of Google’s Mobile Traffic Boost

    A lot of websites are seeing mobile traffic growth from using Google’s open-source AMP protocol, but critics are raising some big ethical questions. Are those concerns enough to dissuade organizations from using AMP?

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Pharma, Nonprofits Collaborate On Affordable Hepatitis C Treatment In Latin America

      The Drugs for Neglected Disease initiative (DNDi), a nonprofit research and development organisation, today announced a collaboration with pharmaceutical companies and other nonprofits to manufacture and supply a “new, more affordable” hepatitis C treatment in Latin America. Hepatitis C medicines have been renowned for their high prices worldwide.

      From the press release: “A new collaboration between pharmaceutical companies and non-profit organizations will manufacture and supply a new, more affordable, hepatitis C treatment regimen in Latin America. An estimated 3.5 million people live with this viral disease in Latin America including around 325,000 in Argentina, with high treatment prices one of the many barriers to access for life-saving care.”

    • HP releases new germicide-resistant computers for hospitals

      The laptop lets you disable the keyboard and touchscreen while cleaning, so that nothing is accidentally inputted. All three products are built to withstand deterioration from being cleaned with germicidal wipes, which may help reduce the spread of health care-related infections.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Researchers detail new 4G LTE vulnerabilities allowing spoofing, tracking, and spamming

      4G LTE isn’t nearly as secure or private as you think it is. Mobile privacy and security are both at risk. Researchers from Purdue University and the University of Iowa have released a new research paper detailing ten attacks on 4G LTE networks. Some attacks allow fake emergency alerts to be sent to a phone, others allow for the spoofing or tracking of the target’s location. The attacks could be carried out with less than $4,000 of equipment and open source 4G LTE software.

    • Oracle Brings KPTI Meltdown Mitigation To Linux 4.1

      If for some reason you are still riding the Linux 4.1 kernel series, you really should think about upgrading to at least a newer LTS series in the near future. But if you still plan on riding it for a while longer, at least it’s getting page table isolation support for Meltdown mitigation.

      An Oracle kernel developer has posted patches bringing kernel page table isolation (KPTI, formerly known as KAISER) to the Linux 4.1 stable kernel series.

    • OpenIndiana Now Has KPTI Support Up For Testing To Mitigate Meltdown

      The Solaris-derived OpenIndiana operating system now has KPTI (Kernel Page Table Isolation) support for testing to mitigate the Intel Meltdown CPU vulnerability.

      Thanks in large part to the work done by Joyent on KPTI support for SmartOS/OmniOSce, the Illumos kernel used by OpenIndiana now has a KPTI implementation for testing. They have spun up some live install images for testing as well as an IPS repository containing a KPTI-enabled kernel build. With this KPTI work is also PCID (Process Context Identifier) support too.

    • A long two months

      I had a quiet New Year’s Eve and Day for the beginning of 2018. We had originally planned a trip away with my parents and some friends from southern California, but they all fell through — my father was diagnosed with cancer late in 2017 and their trip to visit us in the U.S. was cancelled, and our friends work in medicine and wound up being on call. One of Lou’s other friends came to visit us, instead: she was on a mission to experience midnight twice on January 1st by flying from Hong Kong to San Francisco. That might sound like an excuse to party hard, but instead we sat around an Ikea table playing board games, drinking wine and eating gingerbread. It was very pleasant.


      To mitigate Meltdown (and partially one of the Spectre variants), you have to make sure that speculative execution cannot reach any sensitive data from a user context.

    • Hackers Set New DDoS World Record: 1.7 Tbps

      Not even a week has passed since the code sharing platform GitHub suffered the world’s biggest DDoS attack recorded at 1.35Tbps. Just four days later, the world record of the biggest DDoS has been broken in an attempt to take down the systems of an unknown entity identified as a “US-based service provider”.

    • DDoS Record Broken Again as Memcached Attack Hits 1.7 Tbps

      The size of massive distributed denial-of-service attacks continues to grow, hitting yet another new high on March 5, with a report of a 1.7-Tbps attack.

      The attack was reported by Netscout Arbor and came just four short days after the March 1 report of the then largest DDoS attack at 1.35 Tbps against GitHub. Both of the record breaking DDoS attacks were enabled via improperly configured memcached servers that reflected attack traffic, amplifying the total volume.

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #149
    • Hacking operation uses malicious Word documents to target aid organisations

      A newly uncovered ‘nation-state level’ cyber espionage operation has targeted humanitarian aid organisations around the globe via the use of backdoors hidden within malicious Word documents.

      Dubbed Operation Honeybee based on the name of lure documents used during the attacks, the campaign has been discovered by security researchers at security company McAfee Labs after a new variant of the Syscon backdoor malware was spotted being distributed via phishing emails.

    • Making security sustainable

      Perhaps the biggest challenge will be durability. At present we have a hard time patching a phone that’s three years old. Yet the average age of a UK car at scrappage is about 14 years, and rising all the time; cars used to last 100,000 miles in the 1980s but now keep going for nearer 200,000. As the embedded carbon cost of a car is about equal to that of the fuel it will burn over its lifetime, we just can’t afford to scrap cars after five years, as do we laptops.

    • US senator grills CEO over the myth of the hacker-proof voting machine

      Zetter unearthed a 2006 contract with the state of Michigan and a report from Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County that same year that both showed ES&S employees using a remote-access application called pcAnywhere to remotely administer equipment it sold.

  • Defence/Aggression
  • Finance
    • EU plans to tax big tech multinationals on local revenue

      French economy minister Bruno Le Maire says the EU has plans to tax big multinational technology companies — like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon — between 2% and 6% of their revenue, with the figure being closer to the lower end.

    • Congress wants to gut Dodd-Frank banking regulations, a decade after a global meltdown

      A procedural vote to scale back banking regulations is set for this Tuesday in the Senate, only 10 years after the Great Recession — caused by some of the regulations that Dodd-Frank hoped to address. The Senate plan is staunchly supported by the Trump administration — and all signs point towards it becoming law.

      The issue exposes both the rifts within the Democratic Party and the extent to which the Trump administration is unashamed, as President Donald Trump’s entire campaign was built on the premise that he was an outsider who would drain the swamp.

    • Oregon Winds Up Giving Comcast A Huge Tax Break For Doing Nothing Differently

      A well-intentioned effort in Oregon to drive more competition to the broadband market has instead netted Comcast a $15 million annual tax break for effectively doing nothing differently.

      Back in 2014 the Oregon State Supreme Court issued a hugely-controversial ruling that allowed companies to be taxed based on “intangible” assets such as the value of their brands. Lobbied by Google, the state in 2015 signed a new law rolling back those assessments to try and incentivize competitors looking to deploy faster broadband networks.

    • When Prosecutors and Debt Collection Companies Become Business Partners

      Prosecutors are letting debt collectors hijack the justice system at the expense of people who cannot afford to pay bills.

      When Roz, a mother raising three children with special needs on a razor-thin budget in Washington, wrote a check for $41.19 to Goodwill to buy secondhand clothing for her children, she had no idea it would lead to threats of criminal prosecution and jail. But that’s exactly what happened when the check bounced, and her inability to pay a bill led to her being sucked into the criminal justice system.

      That the check bounced because of a banking mix-up didn’t matter. Roz received a letter in the mail that looked like it had been sent by her local prosecutor. The letter stated she had been accused of the crime of issuing a worthless check and she had to pay the amount of the check plus $185 in fees within 10 days “to avoid the possibility of criminal charges being filed.”

      The threats for failure of nonpayment did not end there.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • America’s Democracy Hypocrisy

      In late February, Venezuela’s government began accepting presidential candidate registrations and announced a snap legislative election for April.

    • No one will date right-wingers in DC and I am so here for it
    • Social Media and the Rise of the ‘Consistent Liberal’

      The Pew Research Center (3/1/18) recently released a survey on political attitudes by generation. “America is politically sorted by generations in a way it never has before,” was the takeaway of New York‘s Jonathan Chait (3/1/18).

      Well, sort of. The generational divide is a striking feature of US politics, but it’s not exactly breaking news. While as recently as the 2000 election, young people were the least likely age group to vote for the Democrat, and old folks the most, since 2008 the generations have voted the stereotype of left-leaning youth and conservative elders. That’s still happening, Pew finds.

    • Porn star Stormy Daniels files lawsuit against Trump, alleging ‘hush’ agreement invalid

      Stormy Daniels says the “hush” agreement she signed is invalid since President Trump didn’t sign it, according to a lawsuit.

    • Yet again, Kellyanne Conway violates Federal ethics rules
    • We’ve Updated ‘The Money Game,’ Our Illinois Governor’s Race Fundraising Widget

      We’ve updated “The Money Game,” our Illinois governor’s race fundraising widget, with improvements to the design and data, as well as the addition of automated cards to share on social media.

      The data changes are the most significant update. We’re now tracking campaign contributions across a four-year window, compared to two years in the previous version. That’s because many candidates stockpile and transfer money among multiple campaign funds over several campaign seasons.

    • Trump’s Company Removes Presidential Seal From Golf Course

      The Trump Organization says it has removed golf markers bearing the presidential seal from one of its golf courses.

      As ProPublica and WNYC reported yesterday, President Trump’s company recently ordered dozens of presidential seals to be used as golf tee markers. It is illegal to use the presidential seal for commercial purposes.

      In a statement Tuesday morning, a spokesman for the company said, “The plaques were presented to the club by a small group of members, who are incredible fans of the President, in honor of Presidents day [sic] weekend. They were temporary and have since been removed.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • PornHub owner shows off AgeID gatekeeping system for the UK

      PornHub’s owner Mindgeek this weekend revealed its UK plans for AgeID, an encrypted tool for users to unsurprisingly verify their age when accessing one of the largest porn sites in the world.


      AgeID has already been in operation since 2015 on porn sites in Germany. And while things seem to be hammering away nicely, there’re a few raised eyebrows over handing verification control over to Mindgeek and its family porn sites, which include YouPorn, Brazzers and RedTube.

    • Erdogan’s Next Target as He Restricts Turkey’s Democracy: The Internet

      Having already brought Turkey’s mainstream media to heel, and made considerable headway in rolling back Turkish democracy, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has set its sights on a seemingly innocuous target: a satellite television preacher named Adnan Oktar.


      “It is just about control,” said Kerem Altiparmak, a human rights and media lawyer. “Considering what has been happening in Turkey, I have no doubt this is a hegemonic power, controlling newspapers, TV and the judiciary, that is now out to control the [I]nternet sector.”

    • Chinese Censorship Makes a Move Into Tech Realm

      Hi folks, it’s Shelly Banjo. Banned books and blocked websites are the norm in China. Now, as the tech industry and political leadership forge closer ties, there’s a growing sense here that we’re about to see a whole different level of censorship.

      This isn’t about the looming VPN ban, or President Xi Jinping’s bid to abolish term limits and cement his power. It’s about a deeper level of control and restrictions, encroaching into pop culture, entertainment and other seemingly apolitical content.

    • Lawsuit claims censorship as ASU caught up in Israel boycott controversy

      Claiming censorship, attorneys are claiming that Arizona State University is illegally blocking a Muslim academician from speaking on campus because of his political beliefs.

      The lawsuit filed in federal court here says the university won’t allow Hatem Bazian to speak on campus about the “boycott, divest, sanction” movement aimed at pressuring Israel to change its policies, particularly in regard to Jewish settlements on the West Bank. That’s because Bazian won’t sign an agreement certifying that he will not engage on a boycott of Israel.

    • Offline/Online Project Highlights How the Oppression Marginalized Communities Face in the Real World Follows Them Online

      People in marginalized communities who are targets of persecution and violence—from the Rohingya in Burma to Native Americans in South Dakota—are using social media to tell their stories, but finding that their voices are being silenced online.

      This is the tragic and unjust consequence of content moderation policies of companies like Facebook, which is deciding on a daily basis what can be and can’t be said and shown online. Platform censorship has ratcheted up in these times of political strife, ostensibly to combat hate speech and online harassment. Takedowns and closures of neo-Nazi and white supremacist sites have been a matter of intense debate. Less visible is the effect content moderation is having on vulnerable communities.

    • TEDxBrussels organizer drags presenter off stage during anti-censorship talk

      Get ready for your head to explode.

      In the middle of TEDxBrussels talk on March 5 that focused on censorship, a male event organizer walked onto the stage and physically dragged the female presenter off. And the kicker? The theme of the entire TEDx event was Brave New World — as in, yes, the Aldous Huxley book about a dystopian future wherein an all-powerful state controls the lives of its citizens.

      And it only gets worse from there.

    • Angry Pick-Up Artist Says He Won’t Issue Bogus YouTube Claim On Critic’s Video; Issues Bogus Claim On Critic’s Video

      Another case of YouTube’s copyright notification system being abused has filtered down through social media. A YouTuber whose channel specializes in game reviews was targeted by the developer of the game after some back-and-forth on the internet over his negative review.

      Chris Hodgkinson reviewed a game called Super Seducer, which supposedly teaches dudes how to pick up women through the magical art of full-motion video. Call it “edutainment.” (If you must…) The developer, Richard La Ruina, didn’t care for his game being featured on a video series entitled “This is the Worst Game Ever.” Nor did he care for Hodgkinson’s suggestion the game offered nothing to men in the way of usable pick-up artistry.

    • “Fake news” : bringing the European debate to the source of the problem

      The European Commission recently launched a consultation on “fake news and online disinformation” to which La Quadrature has responded. The current debate about these phenomena seems to be dominated by a prevailing confusion and risks to lead to measures restricting freedom of expression and the right to information. Nonetheless, the big platforms’ system of commercial surveillance needs to be addressed seriously, as it disrupts public debate by treating our attention as a commodity.

      A spectre is haunting American and European political leaders, the spectre of “fake news”. Early in January, Emmanuel Macron announced future legilsation in order to prevent the spread of ” false information “, especially during election period. The draft bill is supposed to be discussed in French National Assembly1 end of March.

      The European Commission’s consultation was closed on 23 February, and the results should lead up to a decision whether European legislation on this topic is needed or not. In parallel, the Commission appointed an expert group charged with submitting a report in March. Both measures exclusively target online content which is “lawful but false’, without defining “false”.

    • We are probably going back to Emergency era: Shyam Benegal

      Mumbai, Mar 6 Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal today said the kind of censorship and mood the country has with regards to cinema is reminiscent of the Emergency era.

      The veteran director was speaking at a panel discussion here at FICCI Frames, which was moderated by senior journalist Bhupendra Chaubey.

    • Shyam Benegal on censorship: We are probably going back to Emergency era
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Mike Godwin’s First Essay On Encryption And The Constitution

      Mike Godwin (you know who he is) was recently going through some of his earlier writings, and came across an essay (really an outline) he had written to the Cypherpunks email list 25 years ago, in April of 1993 concerning the Clipper Chip and early battles on encryption and civil liberties. If you don’t recall, the Clipper Chip was an early attempt by the Clinton administration to establish a form of backdoored encryption, using a key escrow system. What became quite clear in reading through this 25-year-old email is just how little has changed in the past 25 years. As we are in the midst of a new crypto war, Godwin has suggested republishing this essay from so long ago to take a look back at what was said back then and compare it to today.

    • Geek Squad’s Relationship with FBI Is Cozier Than We Thought

      After the prosecution of a California doctor revealed the FBI’s ties to a Best Buy Geek Squad computer repair facility in Kentucky, new documents released to EFF show that the relationship goes back years. The records also confirm that the FBI has paid Geek Squad employees as informants.

      EFF filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit last year to learn more about how the FBI uses Geek Squad employees to flag illegal material when people pay Best Buy to repair their computers. The relationship potentially circumvents computer owners’ Fourth Amendment rights.

      The documents released to EFF show that Best Buy officials have enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the agency for at least 10 years. For example, an FBI memo from September 2008 details how Best Buy hosted a meeting of the agency’s “Cyber Working Group” at the company’s Kentucky repair facility.

      The memo and a related email show that Geek Squad employees also gave FBI officials a tour of the facility before their meeting and makes clear that the law enforcement agency’s Louisville Division “has maintained close liaison with the Geek Squad’s management in an effort to glean case initiations and to support the division’s Computer Intrusion and Cyber Crime programs.”

    • Ex-GCHQ chief calls for brokers to help map cyber risk

      Insurance brokers must play a more direct role in helping financial institutions and energy companies map and quantify cyber risk, a former director of the UK security agency GCHQ has said.

      Speaking at a Marsh Energy Insurance Conference in Dubai, Iain Lobban said insurance brokers should attend cyber breach planning exercises held by insureds, along with representatives from intelligence agencies.

    • How GCHQ and British ISPs have been sharing your data for years and only a VPN can help

      It might like a contradiction in terms, but this week has seen a fascinating session of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). That’s because, after one witness from GCHQ had repeatedly given misleading evidence to the tribunal, Privacy International, who are challenging GCHQ’s bulk collection powers, were given permission to cross-examine him for the very first time.

    • Senate panel approves Trump’s NSA nominee

      The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved President Trump’s choice to lead the National Security Agency on Tuesday morning.

      The committee held a brief voice vote on the nomination of Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, before holding a hearing on worldwide threats to the United States featuring testimony from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and from Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

    • Should I Use Free VPN Services? Is It Safe To Use?

      VPNs are widely used to overcome geographical obstruction, to access a remote network securely, and other different purposes. They are extensively used by organizations to share resources across various office locations. In recent times, VPNs have gained widespread usage in bypassing country restrictions to access blocked services.

    • The Latest: Runoff to Replace Texas Congressman Hensarling

      A Republican activist subsequently revealed suggestive Facebook messages that the then-married congressmen sent her in 2012.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • In Reality Winner’s Case, Defense Seizes Upon FBI Testimony To Bolster Motion To Suppress Statements

      Winner is an NSA contractor accused of mailing a classified document on alleged Russian hacking [sic] of voter registration systems to The Intercept. She was charged with violating the Espionage Act and is currently in detention awaiting trial.

    • Free sex offer on social media lands 19-year-old bikini-clad blogger in jail for two weeks

      Eventually having had enough of people wandering the halls and calling the front desk, the Hilton called the police to complain. They arrived at around 10pm to find the 6316 room empty. It was later discovered that Yeye had left the hotel and checked into another at the Sanya Phoenix International Airport.

      She was arrested on Friday (2 March) and charged with prostitution and disruption (of the Hilton Hotel). All her social media accounts have been suspended.

    • Skripal is no Litvinenko

      There is a major difference between Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Skripal, which is not being reflected in the media. Litvinenko was a good man who attempted to expose abuses of power within Russia, in defence of the rights of Russians. Skripal is a traitor who sold the identities of Russian agents abroad to the UK, in exchange for hard cash. This may very well have caused the deaths of some of those Russian agents operating in conflict zones. If this is indeed a poisoning, there are a great many people who may want Mr Skripal dead – nor in this murky world should we overlook the fact that he must have known interesting things about his MI6 handlers. “Litvinenko II” is rather too pat and obvious, and could be a false flag set-up.

    • Atomwaffen, Extremist Group Whose Members Have Been Charged in Five Murders, Loses Some of Its Platforms

      At least four technology companies have taken steps to bar Atomwaffen Division, a violent neo-Nazi organization, from using their online services and platforms to spread its message or fund its operations.

      The action comes after ProPublica reports detailing the organization’s terrorist ambitions and revealing that the California man charged with murdering Blaze Bernstein, a 19-year-old college student found buried in an Orange County park earlier this year, was an Atomwaffen member.

      Activists and journalists with other media outlets have criticized the tech firms — among them chat services, web merchants, social media channels and gaming platforms — for enabling the outfit, which has members in 23 states and Canada, records show.

    • This Is What Immigration Enforcement Looks Like Under President Trump

      In two consecutive SWAT-style raids, ICE and the U.S. Marshals’ agents raid a family’s home without a warrant.

      Around noon, on April 10, 2017, Alicia Amaya Carmona glanced through her partially closed blinds at the Wing Pointe apartment complex in Heber City, Utah. What the 48-year-old grandmother saw terrified her.

      A group of men in blue and green vests, carrying assault weapons and pistols, were running through the parking lot towards the apartment she shared with her son and her daughter-in-law. She grabbed her grandchildren who were awake and ran to the master bedroom where her other grandchildren were napping. Loud knocking ripped through the apartment. Suddenly the men burst into the apartment. “Come out with your hands up!” one shouted.

      Frightened, Carmona came out of the master bedroom into the living room with her hands up. Her four grandchildren, all U.S. citizens, stood behind her, screaming and crying out of fear. The men pointed their assault weapons and pistols at Carmona and the children. First, Carmona was ordered out of the apartment and told she could not touch nor speak to her grandchildren. The children, all barefoot, were then ordered out of the apartment, too. The temperature was in the 40s.

      The heavily armed men, members of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Marshals, finally let Carmona know why they were there. They were after Carmona’s husband, Abel Ramirez Sr., who had been indicted for illegal reentry six years before. Illegal reentry is not a violent crime, yet the family saw this group of federal officers armed for war burst into the apartment without a warrant.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Namecheap Relaunches Move Your Domain Day to Support Internet Freedom

      The original Move Your Domain Day came into being in 2011 when popular domain name registrar GoDaddy spoke out in support of the hugely unpopular Internet blacklist bills SOPA and PIPA. The ensuing backlash from Internet users led to a call for customers to leave GoDaddy in favor of companies better-aligned with their online freedom goals. As a result, the first Move Your Domain Day raised over $64,000 for EFF’s work on this and other issues. The response reflected the overwhelming public sentiment that eventually toppled SOPA/PIPA and proved Internet users are powerful when they work together.

    • Six tech companies filing net neutrality lawsuit

      Six technology companies, including Kickstarter, Foursquare and Etsy, have launched a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in an effort to preserve net neutrality rules.

      The companies, which also include Shutterstock, Expa and Automattic, on Monday filed their petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

    • Washington State Enacts Net Neutrality Law, in Clash with FCC

      Washington state Governor Jay Inslee Monday signed the nation’s first state law intended to protect net neutrality, setting up a potential legal battle with the Federal Communications Commission.

      The law bans broadband providers offering service in the state from blocking or throttling legal content, or from offering fast-lane access to companies willing to pay extra. The law doesn’t stop providers from imposing data limits, and doesn’t address the practice of allowing certain content to bypass data limits, known as “zero rating.”

    • Washington Becomes the First State to Approve Its Own Net Neutrality Rules

      Washington became the first state Monday to set up its own net-neutrality requirements after U.S. regulators repealed Obama-era rules that banned internet providers from blocking content or interfering with online traffic.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

EPO Annual Results/Report: Revenue From Patent Applications is Apparently Down Yet Again and Work is Running Out

Wednesday 7th of March 2018 09:46:12 AM

The inevitable effect of bad management, bad (low-quality) patents, and bad reputation

Summary: The latest EPO ‘results’ (cherry-picked numbers intended to make the management look good) reinforce expectation of Office-wide layoffs, devaluation of European Patents, decrease in patent quality, and failure to entice applicants in spite of discounts

THE EPO‘s annual report for 2017 is out (warning: link) and it’s pretty much what we expected it to be when we wrote about it yesterday.

We are seeing many of the same themes/patterns we saw in previous EPO ‘results’. Readers are encouraged to read/revisit:

The EPO habitually lies and misleads. Its claims need to be double-checked; not that it’ll interest the EPO’s paid “media partners”. They just relay whatever claims the EPO asks them to, along with external PR agents. Expect a lot of nonsense in the media this week and next week.

One thing we have repeatedly said is that Team Battistelli gave sudden ‘discounts’ in order to help create an illusion, then not mention the effect of these ‘discounts’ on revenue at all (they even made a chart dedicated purely to distracting from that). A nearby store is having a closing down sale at the moment (starting this Monday); so obviously sales have surged (just not at the full price).

As for the supposed ‘growth’ in patents, remember that wrongly-granted patents would help patent trolls (SUEPO published a link to a new report about it yesterday). There are significant declines in quality (an article was published about it in Kluwer Patent Blog earlier this week) and, as expected, there’s thus an increase in the number of grants (not productivity but shoddy management leading to low-quality examination).

What we can note, based on the EPO’s shrewdly-constructed spin, is that in spite of big discounts the number of applications has barely grown. Revenue may be done again. If you offer a discount of 10%, for example, and ‘sales’ go up by only 5%, then overall it’s a losing strategy. “In response to the increased workload,” the EPO wrote, “the EPO further boosted its productivity and production benefiting also from internal reforms put in place in recent years to improve quality and efficiency.”

What “reforms”? Like the layoffs to follow? And what “quality”? They mean timeliness, not quality.

There’s a bunch of comments agreeing with Thorsten Bausch's latest complaint about quality declines. The following comment says that “timeliness has become the only quality measure at the EPO.” Here’s the full comment:

In my daily practice, I can only confirm the views of this blog post. For me it appears that timeliness has become the only quality measure at the EPO. And the EPO is becoming really good in providing timely examination reports. It also becomes increasingly “good” in issuing premature summons to attend O.P.. In my day-to-day work I also experience that the quality, in terms of “how accurate is the analysis and how well founded are the objections” is declining (sometimes to a ridiculous extent). I do not dare speaking of 71(3) problems and IMHO this is a minor issue (it “only” requires more caution on the attorney’s end and much of the problems really seem to have a rather technical background, which I believe can be solved).

The loss in quality occurs on a deeper level and is much more detrimental.

I can assure that this is no fuzzy belly feeling of mine, because I have observed that the same Examiners that used to provide me with a sound analysis and reasonable objections more and more tend to raise superficial objections, or object to claim sets as a whole where they previously assessed claims in groups or individually. I see more faulty objections, more alleged clarity problems, no willingness to apply a problem-and-solution approach, more ex post facto argumentation and more clearly premature invitations to O.P. that put pressure on the applicant before a reasonable exchange of arguments has been finished. My own metrics is the length of the reporting letters that I have to write to the applicants and the number of times that I am forced to complement for an insufficient analysis to provide a proper advice to the applicant. It is, to me, very apparent that Examiners do no longer get the time needed to judge each case on its true merits.

As regards the term “production” as used and implemented in the EPO’s metrics, I feel that this term is entirely unsuitable in the context of patent applications. Some applications are complex, some are not, some yield many prior art hits, some may not, but all these different applications have the product count of one (1). And the time scale to handle all these different products is all the same at the EPO.

Imposing ever increasing production targets on the Examiners will only further erode the quality of examination, will result in patents that are either unjustifiably broad or unjustifiably narrow and in the end represents a disservice for the public and applicants alike. We will experience the degradation of “deep quality” in a couple of years from now.

This is further reaffirmed by an article from 2 days ago. Hugh Dunlop and Andrew Van Den Bent-Kelly (Maucher Jenkins) said that “European Patent Office Attacks Its Examination Backlog”, but at what cost? In reality, the EPO attacks its staff by draining up all the work, by rushing examiners to not do their job properly.

Last night the CCIA’s Josh Landau published something to that effect too, noting that patents are “Granted In 19 Hours”. A patent grant a day keeps patent quality away. How did things become this bad so quickly? The damage caused by erroneous/wrong grants can last years. It can cost millions in legal fees.

As Landau put it, “if we go all the way back to our 40 hour work week, we can figure out how many hours an examiner spends on examining each application.”

It’s a lot worse at the EPO, based on leaks. Here’s what Landau said:

Patent examiners have an extremely hard job. They’re given a patent application—which could be anywhere from a page long up to hundreds of pages, with patent claims ranging from a couple sentences to pages of description—and expected to understand the technology behind the application, look for any possible examples of prior art, describe how the prior art anticipates or renders obvious each and every limitation of the claim, and communicate with the patent applicant about their application.


Junior Examiner Gordon spends 40 hours a week to produce 2.54 office actions. That’s 15.74 hours per office action. But Senior Examiner Allison spends 40 hours a week to produce 3.33 office actions. That’s 12.12 hours per office action. Twelve hours, to review, research, and decide if an immunotherapy patent should be granted. The average American spends 19 hours each week watching television—50% more time than a senior immunotherapy examiner is provided to determine the patentability of an application.

Experienced examiners are almost certainly better at examining patent applications than junior examiners. But can they do the same job in half the amount of time? And do they get enough time even at the start?

There’s evidence the answers are no.

So what is the EPO becoming? Just another INPI? Worse than USPTO? Thorsten Bausch previously explained that in many cases pacing down the process is desirable. He’s not alone. Intellectual Property Watch published this guest post yesterday (by Michael Kahnert, legal counsel, BIO Deutschland). The EPO is failing its stakeholders and they speak out. They want applications to be dealt with properly and not in a rush:

Reducing the application process to 12 months implies that much faster work is expected from patent examiners to maintain the same quality of patent examination. In complex sectors such as biotechnology, the shortening of the patent application process would also lead to higher costs at an early stage, because of the extensive examination procedure. Especially small and medium sized enterprises (SME) in the research and development sector usually have a high need for capital to assure cashflow. Therefore, these companies will be additionally affected by a cost burden early on. To attract investors and partners, SME as well as academic institutions often cooperate to advance their research and development and share sensitive information in the process. In order to maintain the possibility of pursuing specific aspects of the patent application at a later time, more divisional applications would be necessary and cause significantly higher costs. Therefore, the proposed shortening of the patent application process leads to a disadvantage for research-driven SME.

Just remember that once patents are granted in error it muddied the well and there’s no easy fix for it. This is why the legacy left by Battistelli will be a sordid mess from which the EPO will never recover. It’s already running out of pending applications. This necessarily means workforce redundancies. Many senior, experienced examiners will be lost for good. What asset/s will the EPO be left with? A logo and renewal fees?

Calling Genetics and Other Things “Life Sciences” Does Not Turn Nature Into Patentable Science

Tuesday 6th of March 2018 06:13:23 PM

Reference: Association for Molecular Pathology v Myriad Genetics, Inc. | Wikipedia

Summary: The old riddle about whether naturally-occurring phenomena are patentable or not, in light of some very recent news (the past couple of days)

THE USPTO does not, in general, permit patents on genetics. The EPO has just opposed it, so it can be seen as hanging in the balance (the appeal boards will need to step in and decide).

A few days ago we wrote about life patents (e.g. patents on cancer treatments which aren't even drugs/chemicals). There are many different aspects to “life sciences” (a relatively new term if not buzzwords) and they should be considered in isolation: there’s genetics, there’s medicine, there’s treatment, there’s medical equipment and so on. They’re not the same thing.

Days ago we revisited the scam which Allergan set up with the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. IAM, not to our surprise, wrote about it under the “life sciences” banner yesterday. Adam Houldsworth wrote: [via]

Allergan sovereign immunity strategy rejected – Allergan’s effort to make patents relating to its Restasis dry-eye treatment exempt from Patent Trial and Appeal Board cancellation proceedings by transferring them to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe suffered a serious blow last week. The board ruled that the tribe’s sovereign immunity does not extend to inter partes review, and that a Restasis patent should be subject to proceedings initiated by Mylan. This followed months of controversy surrounding the deal, which was seen by some as an attempt to circumvent the patent system and by others as a means of protecting important assets from a problematic administrative proceeding. The St Regis Mohawks have stated they will appeal the PTAB decision.

These are not “assets” but monopolies and PTAB is not “a problematic administrative proceeding.” But remember that this is IAM, a PTAB basher like Watchtroll, Patently-O, Patent Docs and a few other blogs we monitor for their anti-PTAB slant.

Yesterday we saw this blog post from an anti-PTAB site called Anticipat. This company is selling itself as a ‘cure’ to PTAB’s work and it seems to miss the simple fact that if a patent is abstract, then it’s invalid. Full stop. Here’s the latest rant:

We have previously reported that PTAB judges, like Examiners, are measured by a quota-based production system. For PTAB judges, the quota is based on the number of decisions they author. It is no secret that this production system prompts some Examiners and PTAB judges at times to get creative with practices to most easily meet their quotas. Here, we look at some recent decisions that show a pattern of PTAB judges deciding a Section 101 rejection without looking to the remaining pending grounds on appeal.

Why should they? Again, like we said above, if Section 101 applies (e.g. Alice), then it’s over. We understand that many patent trolls and parasites are afraid of PTAB. It undoes the damage caused when patents were granted in a hurry and/or in error.

“Another day of watching Supreme Court opinions to see if Oil States will come out,” wrote one lawyer this week. “Going to be at least another two weeks.”

He’s wasting his time. Oil States will likely be ruled unanimously in favour of PTAB and its much-needed IPRs. The patent system is a lot better now. SCOTUS has already named “trolls” and bemoaned the effect of frivolous patent litigation. It not only gave Alice but also Mayo and Myriad. PTAB actually enforces these; so why would SCOTUS weaken PTAB now?

The situation is a tad different in Australia, probably due to pressure from the likes of CSIRO. The Australian attorney Mark Summerfield is now ranting about medical/clinical trial patents facing an uphill battle. To quote:

From a policy perspective, getting the balance right is particularly important in the case of pharmaceutical products. If it is too difficult to obtain a valid patent, there may be insufficient incentive for companies to invest billions of dollars in new drug development. On the other hand, it is important to keep in mind that, one way or another, it is the wider community – either individually, or through taxes in countries where healthcare is substantially subsidised by government – that ultimately pays for that development, through the higher prices charged for patented drugs. Allowing patents to be granted too easily therefore may therefore represent a significant social cost.

Australia’s attitude towards patents on life was already mentioned here over the weekend. Patent Docs, a patent maximalists’ site, wrote about it a short while ago. It’s about Myriad again. To quote:

When the Australian High Court ruled against the patentability of isolated naturally occurring genes in the Myriad decision, a number of commentators believed that the decision would ultimately invalidate claims directed to methods involving the practical application of genes. A recent Federal Court decision, however, has confirmed that claims directed to methods involving the correlation of gene sequences to a particular trait in cattle are patent eligible subject matter in Australia.

Time will tell where the EPO stands on Myriad-type cases. At the moment it looks like there are forces tugging at both directions. Our position on that has always been the same: while we support affordable life-saving drugs and usually generics (access to medicine designed to maximise public health), we aren’t against patents on drugs; what we’re against are attempts to patent life itself, i.e. chromosomes, genome, antibodies, DNA sequences and so on.

There’s No Patent Trolls Problem in Europe, Say Law Firms That Represent and Front for Patent Trolls

Tuesday 6th of March 2018 05:16:34 PM

Summary: In an effort to deny the severity and negative impact of patent trolls in Europe, law firms and publishers that represent such trolls once again downplay the Darts-IP report; at the same time they’re attempting to facilitate yet more trolling by manipulating politicians and constructing the UPCA (along with lies, maliciously constructed so as to accomplish the unthinkable)

TECHRIGHTS is approaching its 24,000th blog post, having written a great deal about patent trolls in the US and well over 2,000 articles about EPO scandals. We’re pretty familiar (not by choice) with the USPTO affairs and the connection to patent trolls.

“We’ve long warned that the same thing would happen in Europe if it didn’t abstain from granting software patents.”SUEPO has just highlighted yesterday’s article from an author who spent almost a decade writing about software patents and patent trolls. He’s pretty good at that area. We typically cover USPTO matters in the weekend, but this one relates to the EPO because the trolls epidemic is expanding in Europe, thanks in part to Team Battistelli. To quote the article:

Why the roots of patent trolling may be in the patent office

In recent years, American companies have faced a growing threat from patent assertion entities derisively called “patent trolls.” These often shadowy firms make money by threatening patent lawsuits rather than creating useful products. A recent study suggests that the roots of the patent trolling problem may lie with the US Patent and Trademark office—specifically with patent examiners who fail to thoroughly vet patent applications before approving them.

So-called patent trolls “disproportionately purchase and assert patents that were granted by ‘lenient’ examiners,” write Harvard economist Josh Feng and his co-author Xavier Jaravel of the London School of Economics in a December paper.

Patent examiners don’t just decide whether or not to approve a patent. They’re also supposed to narrow a patent’s claims to make sure it only covers what the inventor actually invented. But some examiners do a better job of this than others. Feng and Jaravel found that examiners who demand the fewest changes to patent claims account for a disproportionate share of patents that ultimately wind up in patent lawsuits.

And these effects are large: the pair found that patents reviewed by examiners who are one standard deviation more “lenient” than average are 63 percent more likely to be purchased by a patent enforcement entity and 64 percent more likely to be involved in litigation.

The study reinforces earlier research suggesting that the country’s problems with low-quality patents and rampant patent litigation is driven by inadequate scrutiny of patents by patent examiners. It suggests that giving patent examiners better training and more time to scrutinize each patent could improve patent quality and bring down frivolous patent litigation over time.

We’ve long warned that the same thing would happen in Europe if it didn’t abstain from granting software patents. We warned about this long before we covered EPO scandals.

“The UPC, suffice to say, would considerably exacerbate things by giving more leeway to the trolls.”We’re unfortunately entering a phase wherein patent trolls aren’t just a reality in Europe; they’re becoming a lot more common. I heard from some firms in the UK; they’re being threatened by trolls. They phone me. A lot of this isn’t public knowledge and isn’t in the public domain/record because lawsuits — not threats thereof — are what’s visible.

The UPC, suffice to say, would considerably exacerbate things by giving more leeway to the trolls. Firms like Bristows, which promote the UPC in the UK, keep cheering for trolls that operate in the UK. It’s done openly in their blogs, including IP Kat. We wrote about that in past years. Bristows and others like it also sponsor all sorts of publishers in the UK; this means that those publishers too are lobbying for the UPC (albeit it’s disguised as a ‘news’ service). Check who Bristows targets as clients and actively represents. It’s pretty revealing; we urge readers to research this on their own.

Speaking of publishers with their lobbying, see what Ellie Mertens published some hours ago. We already knew that Managing IP was bad (close to Battistelli and promoting the UPC). But to give a platform/puff pieces to Erich Spangenberg is a new low for them. He’s a malicious patent troll looking for a buck through blackmail. He also sent me vague death wishes some months ago (during Christmas).

“Most of the post is copy-paste of someone from University College London (where Stephen Jones of CIPA, a Battistelli ‘friend’ and former ‘Kat’], is a Visiting Lecturer).”Anyway, the main thing we wanted to point out is a new post from Annsley Merelle Ward (Bristows), a proponent of software patents (in spite of § 101), trolls, FRAND etc. She put it at IP Kat as usual and patent maximalists are linking to it (presumably because they wish to help her distort the record). She did that last month and she is doing it once again. The troll denialists from Bristows (whose clients include patent trolls) attack the study which highlights patent rolls as a problem in Europe. IAM, which is partly funded by trolls, was happy to boost this. It was also boosted by like-minded patent maximalists in the US and in Germany. Benjamin Henrion told one of them that “as long as small companies cannot defend themselves, there is a problem.”

Most of the post is copy-paste of someone from University College London (where Stephen Jones of CIPA, a Battistelli 'friend' and former 'Kat', is a Visiting Lecturer). Here’s a portion:

First, while it is true that there is some rise in NPE litigation, overall NPEs are responsible for initiating only a small number of patent infringement cases in Europe (around 5%, with a bit more in Germany). This suggests that there is hardly a problem with “abusive” patent litigation.

Second, the study highlights that it may be actually getting harder to monetise patents in Europe. NPEs mostly initiate patent infringement suits against large international telecommunication companies, presumably after prior licensing negotiations have failed. NPEs are also having their patents challenged in invalidity proceedings before courts and opposition proceedings before patent offices, presumably by the same large telecommunication companies. It seems that increase in NPE litigation may be actually attributable to hold-out tactics by large companies.

There are many falsehoods above and it would take a long time to correct them all. But Bristows is happy to put forth this nonsense, calling trolls “NPEs” and adding:

What do readers think? Merpel, herself, has some follow-up questions: Should Europe wait for more data and analysis before taking any action? Or should they look to the US experience and guard against that potential? Does it matter that NPEs target large companies instead of SMEs? Does that somehow neutralize the perceived problem? Is the absolute number of NPE-related patent actions what matters, or is the trend (increase/decrease) in the number of actions more important? Is it correct to suggest that NPE litigation is attributable to “hold out”, or is that an oversimplification of what is really going on/is it fair to call that “hold out”?

So far, the only comments there (or the only ones permitted by Bristows) are in support of the trolls too. IAM has taken note of the source of some of these comments when it said: “We came to a similar conclusion. … Note comment at the end of the IP Kat piece from Richard Vary – ex-Nokia, now of Bird & Bird.”

“The same Bird & Bird which lobbies for UPC almost as much as Bristows does? Do they even know what a patent troll is and acknowledge such a thing exists?”The same Nokia that conspired with Microsoft to pass loads of patents to patent trolls (as we covered in past years)? The same Bird & Bird which lobbies for UPC almost as much as Bristows does? Do they even know what a patent troll is and acknowledge such a thing exists? Many are proud denialists of such a problem.

The European Patent Office is Buying ‘Alternative Facts’ and Its Annual Report Will be More of the Same

Tuesday 6th of March 2018 04:16:52 PM

Previously on EPO ‘results’:

Summary: Manipulation of facts seems to be standard operational procedure under Battistelli; expect more of the same very shortly (same as above)

The management of the European Patent Office has ruined patent quality in the name of 'production' (production of rubbish maybe). It totally threw aside the very essence of patent examination and turned the Office into a production/assembly line. That won’t end well as that devalues granted patents (European Patents past, present and future). It also alienates stakeholders, the staff, and eventually the public (when the public finds out the collateral effect).

“It also alienates stakeholders, the staff, and eventually the public (when the public finds out the collateral effect).”We kindly remind all readers that the EPO reduced the fees after the patent applications number had dropped. Trying to artificially inflate these numbers? We think so. Yesterday the EPO wrote: “How well did China, the US and Europe perform in 2017 in terms of patenting activities? #EPOresults go public in only three days. Stay tuned!”

They’re naming two countries and a continent. What about Japan? Be ready for a large growth from China (which only ‘exports’ its Mandarin patents that aren’t absolutely rubbish). The US previously (last year) showed considerable declines in applications and Europe was also negative. So all they could really brag about was “China!” (and even with China in the mix the overall/global number was negative).

“The US previously (last year) showed considerable declines in applications and Europe was also negative.”Battistelli has meanwhile done (warning: link) an Iancu photo op. Remember that the USPTO is now headed by a person from the patent microcosm, born in the Soviet Union, with history of work for Donald Trump which brings rise to suspicions of nepotism.

What we find interesting is yesterday’s reminder from the EPO to play along in “user satisfaction [sic] surveys”…

“If the canteen/office rumours are true and over a thousand examiners are about to get laid off (there aren’t enough applications coming in), then all these millions of euros that Battistelli throws at festivals and alleged ‘bribes’ will be seriously frowned upon.”“Your feedback matters to us,” they said, but history clearly suggests otherwise.

This next bogus study is part of an EPO pattern. Battistelli et al hire a private firm that just shows what they demand, not what it true, then pay the media to repeat the lie ad infinitum. Expect more of that to happen; Battistelli misuses the budget to transform European media into his megaphone (or to keep silent about EPO scandals). This is separate from another survey which they keep advertising and this new PR charade (warning: link) which was promoted in Twitter yesterday.

It’s a blatant PR stunt and waste of stakeholders’ money/budget: Here’s what it is:

The EPO is pleased to announce a new call for proposals for funding under its Academic Research Programme. Under the programme, grants of up to EUR 100 000 are awarded in respect of selected proposals on patent-related matters. This programme complements the EPO’s long-standing commitment to support research on patent data obtained through its Worldwide Patent Statistical Database (PATSTAT).

100,000 euros may not sound like a lot of money, but that pays an examiner’s salary. If the canteen/office rumours are true and over a thousand examiners are about to get laid off (there aren’t enough applications coming in), then all these millions of euros that Battistelli throws at festivals and alleged ‘bribes’ will be seriously frowned upon. Accountability? Nah. No such thing exists in Battistelli’s French lexicon.

Dr. Thorsten Bausch: Quality of European Patents Going Down, “Likely Caused by the Current EPO Policy Focusing too Much on ‘Production’.”

Tuesday 6th of March 2018 03:25:16 PM

Corporate/mainstream (non-patent/tech) media is still not covering any of this, with only a few rare exceptions

Summary: Thorsten Bausch, an attorney who knows the EPO as a stakeholder, bemoans the decline in patent quality and “SUEPO blasts EPO employment proposal” (says another new headline from a patents-centric news site)

THIS morning when we checked Kluwer Patent Blog it was suffering prolonged site downtime (quite routine a problem nowadays). This blog typically amplifies EPO talking points (notably UPC advocacy), but some writers there are exceptions to that. Bausch is the main exception. Bausch’s issues with the EPO are not the same as ours (he’s not a software developer) or the same as examiners’ (his firm profits from litigation and patent maximalism), but there are some common goals/observations among us all; the management of the EPO is undoubtedly out of control and it threatens the very existence of the EPO.

Bausch wrote a very long post as part of a 4-installment series. This time he focused on quality of patents — a subject he tackled several times before in that blog. He says that “trend of quality is downwards, which is most likely caused by the current EPO policy focusing too much on “production”.”

Somebody called “depressed epo staff” then wrote a comment (the only comment there at the moment) and it cited us:

Another outstanding article of yours Mr Bausch. Vielen Dank

The damage done to the EPO by Battistelli and Bergot will be hard one (if not impossible) to redress.

By France Telecom when they finally get rid of the toxic top managers responsible for the debacle, it took years to the new top managerial structure to recover since middle management did not understood the change of culture (from brutal back to normal), hence had difficulties to accept and translate these changes into concrete healthy actions (they were used to follow arbitrary orders blindly and had difficulties to accept that their previous leaders had requested from them illegal, shameful, contra-productive actions).

This is likely to be the very same at EPO.

Currently on Techrights two papers illustrate the current EPO top management’s methods:

The threat letter of Principal Director HR

The publication of the Central Staff Committee censored by PD HR

Out of fear, nearly all EPO middle-managers (no matter the departments they work in) bowed in front of Battistelli and Bergot and followed all obnoxious orders no matter how sick these were (and how damaging these were for the EPO as an organisation).

(Top) managers are recruited not because they are good and have potential to develop, but on the sole assumption that they will follow orders of their superiors without questioning them (mediocracy)

After 6 years of such regime, all is perverted at EPO.

Abnormality has become the norm, words are vergewaltigt on a daily basis and this on all kinds of subjects. EPO staff is in denial, totally exhausted, disoriented, lost. The experienced ones (read elderly ones) are leaving the EPO as soon as possible and are replaced by young, poorly trained and highly pressurized (vi time-limited contracts) new-comers.

The crucial knowledge transfer, upon which the EPO could grow up its competence to the praised level we now deplore has vanished (under Battistelli’s and Bergot), is gone.

The EPO is in real danger Mr Bausch.

One can only wish good luck to Mr Campinos who next July will have to clean the pigs’ breakfast inherited from the previous team. If he keeps some of the current top managers responsible at their positions then you can kiss goodbye to any recovery of the EPO, it will only be more of the same with a clear tendency to further decrease of competence due to the departure of the experienced staff.

We would like to note that there’s one single person who comments at Kluwer Patent Blog and makes snide remarks (directed towards us); that person falsely and even repeatedly claims that we do not honour requests to not be cited/quoted (never mind if from a copyright perspective that person is on no ground anyway). Since it’s Kluwer Patent Blog, dominated by Team UPC and catering mostly for lawyers/attorneys (whom we don’t expect to like our views), that’s almost predicable, understandable, and expected. There are things Bausch disagrees with us on, quite unsurprisingly.

Patent quality and the welfare of EPO workers is our priority. Not money (we don’t profit from anything we write, neither directly nor indirectly). Not the financial welfare of a bunch of law firms, that’s for sure…

It has meanwhile emerged that this relatively new site is a regular source of EPO coverage, not just EPO PR (it does that too) but also employment and union matters/conflicts. The latest article is titled “SUEPO blasts EPO employment proposal”; it doesn’t contain any information which is new to us, but nevertheless it’s good to see that material in the (almost) mainstream.

The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) has blasted recent proposals to the employment framework of the office, arguing that the trust of its staff in its management and administrative council has been lost.

The employment proposals are part of the “extreme” situation at the office, that Union Syndicale Fédérale highlighted in a recent letter.

Brought by EPO president Benoît Battistelli and principal director of human resources, Elodie Bergot, the proposals were criticised by the office’s Central Staff Committee for being “far-reaching”.

Article 53(1)(f) of the proposal would have given the EPO the ability to terminate the service of an employee if the “exigencies of the service require abolition of their post or a reduction in staff”.

However, at the end of February, the proposal was halted and the article was withdrawn.

In a letter to its members, SUEPO said that the original proposal generated “a great turmoil among staff”

In case someone wonders why mainstream media does not cover this (when we say “mainstream” we mean Spiegel, BBC and so on), look back at things we wrote before. They actively suppress even their own writers who wish to cover EPO scandals, possibly because there’s some higher agenda prevalent at the newsroom. Such silence or media blackout is not only detrimental to Europe but also to the Office itself; Team Battistelli has long benefited from media apathy (with few exceptions here and there). Sepp Blatter could only pray and hope for such apathy. Team Battistelli actively bribes and threatens the media, too.

UPC and Beyond: Constitutional Issues Cannot be Brushed Under the Carpet

Tuesday 6th of March 2018 02:21:17 PM

Summary: Persistent issues associated with Big Litigation’s wet dream (EU Patent, Community Patent, UPC and so on), which is a bunch of firms being sued by patent trolls and dragged into courts that do not even speak their language (need to hire interpreters in another country)

THE EPO no longer mentions the UPC. It has nothing positive to say regarding progress as the UPC is virtually (not officially) dead right now.

“Any impact on the UPC,” Henrion asked Steve Peers after he had posted a relevant new document (copied locally and shown above). “It has similar construction, and the CJEU reserved itself on future validity of such a court, notably its compatibility with EU law.”

Peers (Professor of EU, Human Rights and World Trade Law at the University of Essex) responded: “The CJEU already ruled on an earlier version of the UPC of course, and the final drafting of the UPC treaty tries to take account of that ruling.”

There are, in the mean time, no indications whatsoever that the British government cares about the UPC as it’s not even mentioned anymore (and as we predicted, UPC vanished from the press several days ago). As IP Draughts put it 3 days ago in “Brexit and IP: Prime Minister’s speech”:

Some might think that participating in these bodies without being subject to the jurisdiction of the CJEU is an unrealistic negotiating position, but time will tell.

We’re no longer worried about the UPC because it looks like it’s dead and it would take a miracle to make it technically feasible again. Whether Team UPC reorganises and coordinates the passage of something equally evil (with another euphemistic name) remains to be seen. To ensure it passes this time around call it the “save-the-children, stop-piracy, anti-terror” Patent Court (STCSPATPC). No politician would say no to it. They never read any of the text they sign in approval of anyway…

Links 6/3/2018: Kodi 18 “Leia” Alpha, Systemd 238

Tuesday 6th of March 2018 01:07:03 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • What’s fuelling open source adoption in organisations?

    What is behind the recent surge in innovative organisations using open source platforms? DevOps and Linux expert Karel Striegel explains.

    Not long ago, open source software (OSS) was dismissed as a cheap alternative to proprietary software. Today, open source is acknowledged as the future of software for innovative organisations, allowing IT departments to accelerate the process of bringing their ideas to market.

    Even Fortune 500 companies allow open source to drive their organisations by encouraging developers to use OSS to improve software packages constantly while reducing costs.

    Open source is cost-effective because companies save money and lessen technical debt by debugging and improving existing OSS.

  • OSI Celebration at Campus Party Brazil

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI) celebrated its 20th Anniversary at Campus Party Brazil 2018 during the first week of February. Campus Party Brazil is among the largest and most diverse tech events in the world. The eleventh edition of the event received a total of 120,000 attendees, of which 8000 were “campers” (participants who actually camp in tents inside this week long event). Approximately 40% of attendees were women, which is a very high mark for a tech event.

    The OSI was well represented at Campus Party. Patrick Masson, the general manager of the OSI, flew in from New York to meet staff member Nick Vidal and two former OSI Board members who live in Brazil: Bruno Souza, founder of SouJava (the world’s largest Java user group), and Fabio Kon, professor at USP university (the top higher education institution in Latin America).

  • Running for OSI board

    After serving in the board of a few technological Israeli associations, I decided to run as an individual candidate in the OSI board elections which starts today. Hoping to add representation outside of North America and Europe. While my main interest is the licensing work, another goal I wish to achieve is to make OSI more relevant for Open Source people on a daily basis, making it more central for communities.

  • Open source XenServer project is go after crushing crowdcash call

    XCP-ng, the effort to revive an open source version of XenServer, will go ahead after crushing its crowdfunding campaign.

    The project’s Kickstarter sought €6,000 but ended up with €38,531 from crowdfunding contributors. Project founder Olivier Lambert wrote to backers with news that their donations, plus more money from as-yet-un-named sponsors, brought the total fundraising effort to “around 50k€+”.

    The folk behind the project said that’s enough to help them create a first release by March 31st, then figure out “how to update XCP-ng (should be straightforward) but also how to upgrade it.” Also on the team’s to-do list is making it possible to upgrade a XenServer machine to XCP-ng.

  • Open Source: A revolution in technology, business and society

    Free and open source software is far more than just another way to develop code. In fact, the rise of the open source revolution represents a fundamental change in the way we use information to create a better world.

    Traditionally, individuals and organisations would tightly guard their intellectual property, hoarding it and protecting it from outsiders.

    Though it may have initially sprouted from the software development community, open source is now a movement, a philosophy. In this new way of thinking, we emphasise collaboration between brilliant minds, traversing different domains of knowledge, different countries and cultures – to ultimately tackle some of society’s most pressing challenges.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
      • Clang is now used to build Chrome for Windows

        As of Chrome 64, Chrome for Windows is compiled with Clang. We now use Clang to build Chrome for all platforms it runs on: macOS, iOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, and Windows. Windows is the platform with the second most Chrome users after Android according to statcounter, which made this switch particularly exciting.

      • Google Finds Clang On Windows To Be Production-Ready For Building Chrome

        While Google has already been using LLVM’s Clang C/C++ compiler to build the release builds of the Chrome web-browser for Linux rather than GCC and has also switched to using Clang on other platforms, this open-source C/C++ compiler has now been able to replace Microsoft’s Visual C/C++ compiler for building Chrome on Windows.

      • Chrome on Windows ditches Microsoft’s compiler, now uses Clang

        Google’s Chrome browser is now built using the Clang compiler on Windows. Previously built using the Microsoft C++ compiler, Google is now using the same compiler for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android, and the switch makes Chrome arguably the first major software project to use Clang on Windows.

        Chrome on macOS and Linux has long been built using the Clang compiler and the LLVM toolchain. The open-source compiler is the compiler of choice on macOS, making it the natural option there, and it’s also a first-class choice for Linux; though the venerable GCC is still the primary compiler choice on Linux, by using Clang instead, Google ensured that it has only one set of compiler quirks and oddities to work with rather than two.

    • Mozilla
      • Updates to Add-on Review Policies

        The Firefox add-ons platform provides developers with a great level of freedom to create amazing features that help make users’ lives easier. We’ve made some significant changes to add-ons over the past year, and would like to make developers aware of some updates to the policies that guide add-ons that are distributed publicly. We regularly review and update our policies in reaction to changes in the add-on ecosystem, and to ensure both developers and users have a safe and enjoyable experience.

      • How to Write CSS That Works in Every Browser, Even the Old Ones

        Let me walk you through how exactly to write CSS that works in every browser at the same time, even the old ones. By using these techniques, you can start using the latest and greatest CSS today — including CSS Grid — without leaving any of your users behind. Along the way, you’ll learn the advanced features of Can I Use, how to do vertical centering in two lines of code, the secrets to mastering Feature Queries, and much more.

      • Firefox 59 Beta 14 DevEdition Testday Results

        Friday 2nd of March we held 59.0b14 DevEdition testday.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 33
      • WebRender newsletter #15

        I was in Toronto (where a large part of the gfx team is) last week and we used this time to make plans on various unresolved questions regarding WebRender in Gecko. One of them is how to integrate APZ with the asynchronous scene building infrastructure I have been working on for the past few weeks. Another one is how to separate rendering different parts of the browser window (for example the web content and the UI) and take advantage of APIs provided by some platforms (direct composition, core animation, etc.) to let the window manager help alleviating the cost of compositing some surfaces and improve power usage. We also talked about ways to improve pixel snapping. With these technical questions out of the way the rest of the week -just like the weeks before that- revolved around the usual stabilization and bug fixing work.

      • This Week In Servo 106

        Windows nightlies no longer crash on startup! Sorry about the long delay in reverting the change that originally triggered the crash.

        In the last week, we merged 70 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

  • Databases
    • PostgreSQL 10: a Great New Version for a Great Database

      PostgreSQL has long claimed to be the most advanced open-source relational database. For those of us who have been using it for a significant amount of time, there’s no doubt that this is true; PostgreSQL has consistently demonstrated its ability to handle high loads and complex queries while providing a rich set of features and rock-solid stability.

      But for all of the amazing functionality that PostgreSQL offers, there have long been gaps and holes. I’ve been in meetings with consulting clients who currently use Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server and are thinking about using PostgreSQL, who ask me about topics like partitioning or query parallelization. And for years, I’ve been forced to say to them, “Um, that’s true. PostgreSQL’s functionality in that area is still fairly weak.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Java EE renamed ‘Jakarta EE’ after Big Red brand spat

      The open source version of Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) has been renamed Jakarta EE to satisfy Oracle’s desire to control the “Java” brand.

      The renaming became necessary after Oracle moved Java EE to the Eclipse Foundation, a shift it hoped would see developers become more engaged with the project.

    • Good-bye JEE, hello Jakarta EE

      Remember when Oracle bought Sun? The one thing that seemed to make sense about this deal was Oracle’s acquisition of Java. Almost 10 years later, Oracle gave up on Java Enterprise Edition (JEE), aka J2EE, and started spinning Java’s still-popular enterprise middleware platform to the Eclipse Foundation. Now, under the aegis of the Eclipse Foundation, JEE has been renamed to Jakarta EE.

      Why? Because Oracle was never successful in monetizing Java. In large part, this was because of Sun and then Oracle’s failed attempts to steer the Java Community.

      As Oracle’s server-side Java evangelist, David Delabassee, admitted in August 2017: “We believe that moving Java EE technologies including reference implementations and test compatibility kit to an open source foundation may be the right next step, in order to adopt more agile processes, implement more flexible licensing, and change the governance process.”


      If Jakarta sounds familiar, it’s because it is not the first time that name has been applied to a JEE server. From 1999 to 2011, the Apache Software Foundation ran Apache Jakarta, which covered all of Apache’s open-source Java efforts.

    • LibreOffice Will (Finally) Use Native GTK Dialogs on Linux

      The next major release of LibreOffice will use native GTK3 dialogs on Linux desktops.

      “Wait —LibreOffice doesn’t already use GTK dialogs?!” you might be asking. It was certainly my own first reaction when I opened an e-mail about the news in our tip inbox this morning (btw – thanks Dee!)

      Admittedly I do not use LibreOffice properly. Like, at all. Nothing against the suite itself — it’s rather marvellous — it’s just that the only writing I tend to do takes place inside a WordPress editor.

  • CMS
    • The Best Open Source Content Management Systems

      One of the most important elements new website owners fail to give enough consideration to is in selecting the right open source content management system (CMS) for their website. Obviously some websites are put together without the inclusion of a full CMS. Yet those websites used in enterprise environments are almost always employing some kind of CMS for easy content handling. Continue reading for my recommended best CMS options.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Open Source Code Flaws [Ed: Sonatype 'study' (FUD). Does proprietary software have flaws? Can they be fixed? Does it have back doors? Can they be closed?
      Oh, wait, it's just a marketing stunt from Sonatype, isn't it?]
    • SAS is on the brink of generation change

      As for open source, as mentioned above, SAS interoperates with it, mostly through Viya. However, dealing the lack of perception about SAS and ML, SAS should start contributing to open source.

  • BSD
    • John Carmack Goes On Coding Retreat With OpenBSD

      While id Software founder John Carmack has been known for his open-source and Linux interests over the years and even working on Utah GLX back in the day, he just wrapped up a self-driven “programming retreat” where he was using OpenBSD.

      These days Carmack is mostly accustomed to using Windows and Visual Studio, but decided to take a week long holiday where he was experimenting with C++ neural network implementations and doing all of his work strictly from a base OpenBSD operating system.

    • Fight for software freedom continues, FSF says

      The Free Software Foundation’s future is looking bright according to its Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Report. The report outlines efforts and accomplishments by the free “as in freedom” software advocacy group over the previous year, from activism to awards and growth in membership and infrastructure.

      With individual contributions to the non-profit totalling more than $1 million and additional funding from earned revenue, investments, interest and others, the organization was able to cleanly cover all operating expenses while setting over $56,000 aside, with a reported 81 percent of funds supporting the GNU project, free software and its other endeavors. An evaluation of the FSF’s financial health, accountability and transparency alongside over 8,000 other non-profits by Charity Navigator earned the FSF a top four-star rating.

      “[Charity Navigator] chose us, out of 8,000 charities, for their all-purpose list of “10 Charities Worth Watching,” demonstrating significant progress toward making user freedom an issue of general, widespread importance,” foundation executive director John Sullivan wrote in the opening letter of the report. “These accolades reflect the hard work of our small, dedicated team, and show that supporters are right to invest their dollars and time in the FSF.”

  • Licensing/Legal
    • License Scanning and Compliance for FOSS Projects: A Free Publication

      According to Winslow, “any project that implements license scanning and compliance should aim to make it sustainable” and should set realistic goals to avoid being overwhelmed by the number of options and issues that may arise.

      Winslow also explains how using tools, such as FOSSology for license scanning and Software Package Data Exchange (SPDX) to help package scan results into meaningful reports, can help projects succeed in compliance efforts.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Portable Guitar Amp – Is That A Linux In Your Pocket?

        When it comes to music production and audio engineering, Linux isn’t the most common choice. This isn’t for lack of decent tools or other typical open source usability issues: Ardour as a highly capable, feature-rich digital audio workstation, the JACK Audio Connection Kit for powerful audio routing, and distributions like Ubuntu Studio packing all the essentials nicely together, offer a great starting point as home recording setup. To add variation to your guitar or bass arrangement on top of that, guitarix is a virtual amp that has a wide selection of standard guitar effects. So when [Arnout] felt that his actual guitar amp’s features were too limiting, he decided to build himself a portable, Linux-based amp.

      • Customising a $30 IP Camera For Fun

        WiFi cameras like many other devices these days come equipped with some sort of Linux subsystem. This makes the life of a tinkerer easier and you know what that means. [Tomas C] saw an opportunity to mod his Xiaomi Dafang IP camera which comes configured to work only with proprietary apps and cloud.

      • Love Open Source but Hate People? Get OpenKobold

        [Tadas Ustinavičius] writes in to tell us of his latest project, which combines his two great loves of open source and annoying people: OpenKobold. Named after the German mythical spirit that haunts people’s homes, this tiny device is fully open source (hardware and software) and ready to torment your friends and family for up to a year on a CR1220 battery.

  • Programming/Development
    • Getting started with Python for data science

      Whether you’re a budding data science enthusiast with a math or computer science background or an expert in an unrelated field, the possibilities data science offers are within your reach. And you don’t need expensive, highly specialized enterprise software—the open source tools discussed in this article are all you need to get started.

      Python, its machine-learning and data science libraries (pandas, Keras, TensorFlow, scikit-learn, SciPy, NumPy, etc.), and its extensive list of visualization libraries (Matplotlib, pyplot, Plotly, etc.) are excellent FOSS tools for beginners and experts alike. Easy to learn, popular enough to offer community support, and armed with the latest emerging techniques and algorithms developed for data science, these comprise one of the best toolsets you can acquire when starting out.

    • A glimpse into R counterculture

      After many readers expressed their indignation, Milley wrote a follow-up blog post on the SAS website, which took on a considerably more diplomatic tone. She defended SAS as software that can be valued for its “support, reliability, and validation.” Recent history, however, has made it much more difficult to conflate proprietary software with reliability or functionality.

      R certainly presents a powerful case study in how an open source language has rendered long-dominant proprietary software, such as SAS, largely irrelevant. Although it is difficult to quantify the size of R’s user base, one interesting metric of popularity is its use in academic journal articles. In that court, R surpassed SAS in 2015. Additionally, although it is merely anecdotal, it is amusing to note a thread from 2017 on the Statistics subreddit, in which the original poster wonders why SAS is still around in substantial numbers. To paraphrase the prevailing response, companies still buy SAS because it’s what they have always used in the past and change is hard! Or as Woodrow Wilson put it, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”

      In contrast, there are developers and data science professionals who don’t want to make any concessions to functionality. They want the optimal tools for their analyses, even if it means having to dig through Stack Overflow every now and then. For them, there is R. It started as a statistical computing environment, but it’s had so many additions that it can now be classified as a general-purpose language.

    • 15 Most Popular Programming Languages Among Female Programmers

      It’s a known fact that there is a lack of gender diversity in the tech industry. While the companies and independent organizations are working to promote an open and inclusive environment, a lot of work needs to be done. However, a recent report from HackerRank suggests that things are slowly changing and the gender gap is slowly shrinking.

      Named Women in Tech 2018, this report is based on the response from more than 14,000 professional developers. Out of them, about 2,000 were female. Before digging up and finding the most popular programming languages among female programmers, let me tell you some encouraging facts about the ongoing change.

  • Google Search Could Get A Major “Material Design” Overhaul

    Google might be preparing a big visual change for its most popular product, Google Search. The company is testing a revamped version of Search which was spotted by a vigilant netizen who posted the screenshot on Reddit.

  • Science
    • Gene editing method produces perfect pluripotent stem cell twins

      Researchers led by Dr. Knut Woltjen report a new gene editing method that can modify a single DNA base in the human genome with absolute precision. The technique, which is described in Nature Communications, is unique in that it guides the cell’s own repair mechanisms by design, providing pairs of genetically matched cells for studying disease-related mutations.

      Single mutations in DNA, known as single nucleotide polymorphisms—or SNPs for short—are the most common type of variation in the human genome. More than 10 million SNPs are known, many of which are associated with ailments such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease and diabetes. In order to understand the role of SNPs in hereditary disease, scientists at Kyoto University’s Center for iPS cell Research and Application (CiRA) create induced pluripotent stem cells from patient donors.

    • Comparison shows value of DNA barcoding in selecting nanoparticles

      The first direct comparison of in vitro and in vivo screening techniques for identifying nanoparticles that may be used to transport therapeutic molecules into cells shows that testing in lab dishes isn’t much help in predicting which nanoparticles will successfully enter the cells of living animals.

      The new study demonstrated the advantages of an in vivo DNA barcoding technique, which attaches small snippets of DNA to different lipid-based nanoparticles that are then injected into living animals; more than a hundred nanoparticles can be tested in a single animal. DNA sequencing techniques are then used to identify which nanoparticles enter the cells of specific organs, making the particles candidates for transporting gene therapies to treat such killers as heart disease, cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

  • Hardware
    • U.S. security panel deals major blow to Broadcom’s bid for Qualcomm

      The U.S. government on Sunday ordered Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) to delay its March 6 shareholder meeting, a highly unusual request that will allow time for a national security review of the deal, but that also cast new doubt on Singapore-based Broadcom Ltd’s (AVGO.O) $117-billion bid for its U.S. semiconductor peer.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • The Price They Pay

      The burden of high drug costs weighs most heavily on the sickest Americans.

      Drug makers have raised prices on treatments for life-threatening or chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, diabetes and cancer. In turn, insurers have shifted more of those costs onto consumers. Saddled with high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs that expose them to a drug’s rising list price, many people are paying thousands of dollars a month merely to survive.

      For more than a year, President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress have promised to take action on high drug prices, but despite a flurry of proposals, little has changed.

      These are the stories of Americans living daily with the reality of high-cost drugs. And there are millions of others just like them.

    • A Look At The Role Of Governments, Universities, Science In Health Innovation & Access

      Intellectual property rights, particularly patents, are considered by some as being a barrier in access to medicines despite being a stimulus for innovation. At a recent symposium co-organised by the World Health Organization, World Trade Organization and World Intellectual Property Organization, speakers also talked about the role of science, governments, and universities in health innovation and access, and how to address challenges such as secondary patents.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Ethereum responds to eclipse attacks described by research trio

      What is an “eclipse” attack? Amy Castor, who follows Bitcoin and Ethereum, walked readers in Bitcoin Magazine through this type of attack.

      “An eclipse attack is a network-level attack on a blockchain, where an attacker essentially takes control of the peer-to-peer network, obscuring a node’s view of the blockchain.”

      Catalin Cimpanu, security news editor for Bleeping Computer: “Eclipse attacks are network-level attacks carried out by other nodes by hoarding and monopolizing the victim’s peer-to-peer connection slots, keeping the node in an isolated network.”

      Meanwhile, here are some definitions of Ethereum. It is an open software platform based on blockchain technology.

    • 4G LTE Loopholes Invite Unwanted Phone And Location Tracking, Fake Emergency Alerts

      In a new paper, the researchers at Purdue University and the University of Iowa have discovered vulnerabilities in three procedures of the LTE protocol.

      The loopholes could be exploited to launch 10 new attacks, such as location tracking, intercepting calls and texts, making devices offline, etc. With the help of authentication relay attacks, an evil mind can connect to a network without credentials and impersonate a user. A situation of an artificial emergency can be created by issuing fake threat alerts, similar to the recent missile launch alerts in Hawai.

    • Compromised Guest Account

      Some of the workstations I run are sometimes used by multiple people. Having multiple people share an account is bad for security so having a guest account for guest access is convenient.

      If a system doesn’t allow logins over the Internet then a strong password is not needed for the guest account.

      If such a system later allows logins over the Internet then hostile parties can try to guess the password. This happens even if you don’t use the default port for ssh.

    • Security researchers’ warning over Linux feature used in biggest ever DDoS attack on Github [Ed: Crappy corporate media blames on Linux something which is neither Linux nor GNU. “Memcached is free and open-source software, licensed under the Revised BSD license. Memcached runs on Unix-like operating systems and on Microsoft Windows” -Wikipedia]

      The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack targeting Github last week, which at its peak involved 1.3 terabits per second (Tbps) of traffic, has been attributed to the exploitation of a feature that was never intended to be exposed to the internet

      The eight-minute attack last Wednesday was more than twice the next-largest ever recorded DDoS attack. It took advantage of the Memcached feature of Linux in an attack described as “memcached amplification”.

      In these attacks, hackers inundate servers with small UDP-based packets. These are designed in a way so that they look like they were created by the target of the attack.

      Akamai helped GitHub fend off the attack. The company explained that Memcached techniques “can have an amplification factor of over 50,000, meaning a 203 byte request results in a 100 megabyte response.

    • Secure memcached server to avoid DDoS amplification attacks
    • Intel MKTME Support Being Prepped For The Linux Kernel: Total Memory Encryption

      Intel developers are working on bringing transparent memory encryption support to the Linux kernel that works in conjunction with upcoming Intel platforms.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 86 – What happens when 23 thousand certificates leak?
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Is MSNBC Now the Most Dangerous Warmonger Network?

      More than seven weeks after a devastating report from the media watch group FAIR, top executives and prime-time anchors at MSNBC still refuse to discuss how the network’s obsession with Russia has thrown minimal journalistic standards out the window.

      FAIR’s study, “MSNBC Ignores Catastrophic U.S.-Backed War in Yemen,” documented a picture of extreme journalistic malfeasance at MSNBC:

      — “An analysis by FAIR has found that the leading liberal cable network did not run a single segment devoted specifically to Yemen in the second half of 2017. And in these latter roughly six months of the year, MSNBC ran nearly 5,000 percent more segments that mentioned Russia than segments that mentioned Yemen.”

      — “Moreover, in all of 2017, MSNBC only aired one broadcast on the U.S.-backed Saudi airstrikes that have killed thousands of Yemeni civilians. And it never mentioned the impoverished nation’s colossal cholera epidemic, which infected more than 1 million Yemenis in the largest outbreak in recorded history.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Court Hands Jason Leopold A Partial Victory In Case Involving Sealed Dockets And Electronic Surveillance

      A half-decade’s worth of litigation by “FOIA terrorist” Jason Leopold is finally bearing fruit. The petition, filed in 2013 to peel back a few layers of opacity from the Feds’ favorite court (DC District Court), has been partially granted by Chief Judge Beryl Howell. (h/t Mike Scarcella)

      Nearly two years ago, substantial progress was made when Judge Howell ordered the US Attorney’s Office (USAO) to examine sealed dockets (of which there are many — the DC circuit is home to hundreds of dockets rendered invisible by government requests for secrecy) and to start unsealing anything that wasn’t related to ongoing investigations.

      The government fought back, but as the lengthy opinion [PDF] shows, there was much more cooperation between the USAO and Leopold than one would expect, given the government’s antipathy towards him goes so far the Pentagon once offered Leopold a stack of documents in exchange for him promising to never file another FOIA request.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Arizona Utility Opts for Solar and Storage to Meet Peak Demand

      Solar photovoltaic panels in the desert near Phoenix may seem unremarkable. After all, the southwestern United States offers some of the best solar conditions in North America.

      But a recently announced 65 megawatt (MW) project is making news by coupling solar PV with battery energy storage, a first for utility Arizona Public Service, which solicited proposals in 2017 for generation sources to provide electricity during peak demand hours.

      Perhaps more noteworthy is the fact that the solar-plus-storage bid beat out other generation sources, including multiple proposals for natural gas plants. (The utility has an agreement with an existing natural gas-fired plant for a total of 570 MW for the summers of 2020 through 2026.)

  • Finance
    • Chinese Investors Bet on Latin America for Next Tech Gold Rush

      Two years ago, Tang Xin had never set foot in Mexico and didn’t know a word of Spanish. While his grasp of the language hasn’t improved much since then, he has built one of the country’s hottest apps.

      Noticias Aguila, which translates as News Eagle, now has 20 million users and became the No. 1 news app in Google Play’s Mexico store late last year, according to App Annie. That has come as Tang and his development team remain based in Shenzhen, the Chinese technology hub just across the border from Hong Kong.

    • Analysis Finds TISA’s Benefits Are ‘Insignificant’, Points Out That Costs Of Deregulation Are Completely Ignored

      Back in 2014, Techdirt first wrote about TISA, the Trade in Services Agreement, another massive international trade deal that was being negotiated behind closed doors with no public scrutiny. Its central aim was to establish a common regulatory framework for services globally. But in doing so, it would circumscribe the ability of governments to bring in their own national laws, since many options would be forbidden by the agreement. For key areas, then, TISA would impose globally-agreed standards for services, with little freedom to diverge, whatever the local populace or democratically-elected politicians might think or want.

      During 21 rounds of talks, good progress was made on agreeing what should be in TISA, and it seemed that a final text was quite near. But with the election of Donald Trump, everything went quiet, as TISA negotiators waited to find out what his views on the deal would be. Since then, not much has happened, although TISA’s supporters are doubtless hoping that negotiations can be picked up again at some point.

    • Paypal Files Patent for Expedited Cryptocurrency Transaction System

      A recent patent filing reveals that Paypal might be considering expanding its exposure to the cryptocurrency ecosystem with a new system for speedy transactions. We shouldn’t however expect a Paypal Lightning Network or anything close to that any time soon. There is currently a global race to file patents for everything crypto or “blockchain” related and the company might just be strengthening its portfolio for future patent battles.

    • Meet the robot lending a cyber-hand to Cornwall’s cauliflower harvest [Ed: Replacing what's left of farmers/farming]

      Harvesting a cauliflower is not as simple as it looks.

      First it must be deemed firm, compact and white, before being gently prised from its main stem to prevent bruising, and plucked with a few outer leaves still attached to protect the head.

      So when scientists were looking for a robotic helper capable of taking on Britain’s brassica crop, they chose to mimic a tried and tested tool – the human hand.

    • Prof Hrdy: When Inventions Kill Jobs

      Prof. Hrdy has an interesting new blog post to accompany her paper titled Technological Un/employment. Her work focuses on the intersection between jobs and intellectual property – looking both historically and toward the future of automation. “[T]he impact of technology on employment has historically been “skill-biased”—demand for high skills workers rises; demand for low skill workers falls.”

    • Technological Un/employment

      The conventional wisdom is that intellectual property is good for innovation and good for jobs. But this is not quite right. In reality, a significant subset of the innovations protected by intellectual property, from self-service kiosks to self-driving cars, are labor saving, and in many cases also labor displacing innovations—meaning they drastically reduce the need for paid human labor. Therefore, to the extent intellectual property is successful at incentivizing innovation, intellectual property actually contributes to job loss. More specifically, intellectual property contributes to what this article terms “technological un/employment”—the simultaneous creation and elimination of jobs resulting from technological change. The normative question is what to do about this. Commentators like Bill Gates suggest using the tax system to slow down the pace of automation and provide aide to displaced workers. But this article yields another surprising insight: intellectual property law itself can be designed to effectuate similar goals, either alone or, more likely, in coordination with the tax system. At the least, intellectual property is guaranteed to play a prominent role in society’s current technological un/employment moment, both as part of the problem and as part of the solution.

    • Intellectual Property and Jobs

      During the 2016 presidential race, an op ed in the New York Times by Jacob S. Hacker, a professor of political science at Yale, and Paul Pierson, a professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, asserted that “blue states” that support Democratic candidates, like New York, California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, are “generally doing better” in an economic sense than “red states” that support Republican candidates, like Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, and (in some election cycles) Ohio. The gist of their argument is that conservatives cannot honestly claim that “red states dominate” on economic indicators like wealth, job growth, and education, when the research suggests the opposite. “If you compare averages,” they write, “blue states are substantially richer (even adjusting for cost of living) and their residents are better educated. Companies there do more research and development and produce more patents. Students score better on tests of basic science-oriented skills like math.”

      I am not here to argue over whether blue states do better than red states economically. What I do want to point out is how professors Hacker and Pierson use intellectual property – and in particular patents – in making their argument. Blue states, they write, “produce more patents” than red states. Indeed, “few of the cities that do the most research or advanced manufacturing or that produce the most patents are in red states.” How, they ask rhetorically, can conservatives say red states are doing better when most patents are generated in California? FN1

      Hacker and Pierson’s reasoning, which is quite common, goes like this. Patents are an indicator of innovation. Innovation is linked to economic prosperity. Therefore, patents – maybe even all forms of intellectual property – are linked to economic prosperity.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast Extra: The Trump Organization Ordered Golf Course Markers With the Presidential Seal. That May Be Illegal.

      President Donald Trump loves putting his name on everything from ties to steaks to water — and, of course, his buildings. But now the Trump Organization appears to be borrowing a brand even more powerful than the gilded Trump moniker: the presidential seal.

      In recent weeks, the Trump Organization has ordered the manufacture of new tee markers for golf courses that are emblazoned with the seal of the president of the United States. Under federal law, the seal’s use is permitted only for official government business. Misuse can be a crime.

    • Putin’s Electoral Manifesto

      Putin claimed that Russia’s full parity with the United States in strategic weaponry has been restored. His blunt message to the United States to abandon its 16-year attempt to achieve a first strike capability and sit down for arms control talks drew the immediate attention of world media, even if the initial reading was confused.

    • The Six Stages of Trump’s Resistance

      In the grand scheme of his many legal and regulatory conflicts, President Donald Trump’s spats with state regulators over damaged wetlands and excess water use at his New Jersey golf courses seem almost trivial. Trump ultimately was fined $147,000 — less than he banks from a couple of new memberships at the two private country clubs where he was cited for breaking state law. Both disputes were resolved during his presidential campaign and went unnoticed in the press.

      Yet, as small as the sum was for a man like Trump, these two episodes are telling, not just because his resistance to oversight seems so disproportionate to the underlying allegations, but also because they provide a revealing anatomy of the five primary stages of Trump response. They could be summarized as Delay, Dissemble, Shift Blame, Haggle and Get Personally Involved. (The elements can be used in any order, more than once.) Often, there’s a sixth stage, too: Offer a job to one of the key players on the opposing side. Trump deployed those tactics again and again in his titanic real estate battles in New York, and his mega-dollar fights over casinos in New Jersey, according to Wayne Barrett’s biography, “Trump: The Deals and the Downfall.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Palestinians in Gaza protest Facebook censorship

      Dozens of Palestinian journalists on Monday staged a demonstration outside the UN’s Gaza City office to protest Facebook’s practice of unilaterally blocking Palestinian Facebook accounts.

      Demonstrators held banners aloft, reading, “Facebook is complicit in [Israel’s] crimes” and “Facebook favors the [Israeli] occupation”.

      According to Salama Maarouf, a spokesman for Hamas (which remains in de facto control of the Gaza Strip), Facebook blocked roughly 200 Palestinian accounts last year — and 100 more since the start of 2018 — “on phony pretexts”.

    • European Union demands Google, Facebook step up Internet censorship

      In a new attack on free speech, the European Union (EU) is calling on major social media and Internet firms including Facebook, Twitter and Google to automatically and immediately censor online material.

      On March 1, the EU Commission called on companies and EU states to ensure “the detection and removal of illegal content through reactive (so called ‘notice and action’) or proactive measures.” It also identified a vast amount of material targeted for censorship. According to the Commission, its recommendations apply to all forms of “content ranging from terrorist content, incitement to hatred and violence, child sexual abuse material, counterfeit products and copyright infringement.”

    • EU Commission Says Social Media Companies Must Take Down ‘Terrorist Content’ Within One Hour

      Once social media companies and websites began acquiescing to EU Commission demands for content takedown, the end result was obvious. Whatever was already in place would continually be ratcheted up. And every time companies failed to do the impossible, the EU Commission would appear on their virtual doorsteps, demanding they be faster and more proactive.

      Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft all agreed to remove hate speech and other targeted content within 24 hours, following a long bitching session from EU regulators about how long it took these companies to comply with takedown orders. As Tim Geigner pointed out late last year, the only thing tech companies gained from this acquiescence was a reason to engage in proactive censorship.

    • Chinese president Xi Jinping bans words ‘Animal Farm,’ ‘disagree,’ ‘I oppose,’ among others

      It seems the next generation of youth in China won’t be hearing of George Orwell’s famed “Animal Farm” anytime soon — at least online — according to California-based bilingual news website China Digital Times last Feb. 26. Censorship authorities started their work on limiting online discussion by banning a multitude of terms and words from the Chinese microblogging site Weibo — and the list is almost endless.

      The censorship move comes after Chinese state media released on Feb 25 a list of amendments to the Chinese constitution, which are to be carried out at the National People’s Congress Session in Beijing today. Among the 21 proposed amendments is the eradication of the current two-term limit of China’s presidents and vice presidents.

    • Blunt Measures on Speech Serve No One: The Story of the San Diego City Beat

      It’s no secret: Social media has changed the way that we access news. According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of Americans report getting at least some of their news on social media. Another study suggests that globally, for those under 45, online news is now as important as television news. But thanks to platforms’ ever-changing algorithms, content policies, and moderation practices, news outlets face significant barriers to reaching online readers.

      San Diego CityBeat’s recent experience offers a sad case in point. CityBeat is an alt-weekly focusing on news, music, and culture. Founded in 2002, the publication has a print circulation of 44,000 and is best known for its independence and no-holds barred treatment of public officials and demo tapes. The site is also known for its quirky—and, it turns out, controversial—headlines.

    • Wall Street Journal Explains Why SESTA Is A Terrible Idea And Is Unnecessary

      Here’s a bit of a surprise. The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial board has come out vehemently against SESTA. The reason this is surprising is that much of the push for SESTA has been a fairly obvious attack on internet companies, especially Google, by trying to undermine CDA 230. And the Wall Street Journal has spent years attacking Google at every opportunity.

      But, this time, the editorial gets the story right — highlighting that the effort is clearly being driven by anti-Google animus, even though it will create all sorts of other problems (problems that Google can mostly survive easily). However, the most important part of the editorial details why SESTA is not actually needed. Throughout the process, the backers of the bill always point to as the reason the bill is necessary. As we pointed out, when the bill was first released, nearly every quote from Senators backing it mentioned how it was necessary to take down Backpage.

    • Fake news and censorship

      Many media analysts have rightly identified the dangers posed by “fake news,” but often overlook what the phenomenon means for journalists themselves. Not only has the term become a shorthand way to malign an entire industry; autocrats are invoking it as an excuse to jail reporters and justify censorship, often on trumped-up charges of supporting terrorism.

      Around the world, the number of honest journalists jailed for publishing fake or fictitious news is at an all-time high of at least 21. As non-democratic leaders increasingly use the “fake news” backlash to clamp down on independent media, that number is likely to climb.

      The United States, once a world leader in defending free speech, has retreated from this role. President Donald Trump’s Twitter tirades about “fake news” have given autocratic regimes an example by which to justify their own media crackdowns. In December, China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper posted tweets and a Facebook post welcoming Trump’s fake news mantra, noting that it “speaks to a larger truth about Western media.” This followed the Egyptian government’s praise for the Trump administration in February 2017, when the country’s foreign ministry criticized Western journalists for their coverage of global terrorism.

    • Anti-censorship bill for student journalists awaits Washington governor’s signature
    • LIVE: Offensive? Censorship? Inxeba in court over X18 rating
    • South Africa returns to apartheid-era censorship with the banning of Inxeba
    • High Court drops porn rating on Inxeba
    • South Africa returns to apartheid-era censorship with the ‘banning’ of Inxeba

      Censorship, one of the insidious strategies used by the apartheid government, has made an ominous comeback in South Africa with the recent X18 classification of the award-winning film Inxeba (The Wound). In South Africa the film can now only be shown in locations licensed to screen adult entertainment.

      The apartheid government tried to maintain its power over a racially segregated South African population through controlling the media. This included censoring films – initially international and then also local ones. The Publications Control Board had the power to ban a film outright, demand scenes be cut or, bizarrely, to restrict the screening of a film to certain (usually white only) audiences.

    • Censorship is illegal in India, says ‘S Durga’ director at first screening

      Censorship in India is illegal and yet a majority of India endorses it. Director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan from Kerala made this rather-startling revelation at the first screening of his controversial “S Durga” in Kolkata.

      Before the screening on Monday, Sasidharan spoke about his film’s longdrawn censorship battle at a seminar attended by Chitrabani director Father PJ Joseph and various other film scholars. A qualified lawyer, Sasidharan gave up practice in 2006. But thanks to his acumen in the field, he knew his film would eventually win the case though he himself didn’t participate as a lawyer. But the legal tussle left him exhausted—emotionally, physically and financially. “My film was made on a budget of Rs 10 lakh-Rs 12 lakh. But the ministry must spent more than that to fight me. A fight for censorship can’t be an individual’s battle. People should feel they have the right to see a film uncut,” he said during a seminar on censorship, moderated by Someswar Bhowmik, director at St Xavier’s College’s Educational Multimedia Research Centre.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Tough Talk On Transatlantic Privacy, Once Again

      The EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourova, ahead of her US visit announced “a tough tone” on remaining gaps in the implementation of the privacy shield, the arrangement that allows to transfers of data of EU citizens to the United States. Speaking before the EU Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE), Jourova said while she had heard the privacy shield was not a priority of the US administration, “it will be a priority, if we make clear that we will suspend the system if it doesn’t work,” adding, “My patience is coming to an end.”

    • Today: UN Human Rights Council To Hear Rapporteur’s Report On Government Surveillance Online

      The United Nations Human Rights Council today (6 March) is expected to hear a report on government surveillance to be presented by the UN special rapporteur on the right to privacy. The report calls for the urgent development of a comprehensive legal framework on privacy and surveillance in cyberspace.

      On the agenda is presentation of a report by the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, Joseph Cannataci, addressing the issue of oversight of government surveillance.

      “There is no question that the global community needs to undertake urgent action … by developing a clear and comprehensive legal framework on privacy and surveillance in cyberspace, to operationalise the respect of this right, domestically and across borders,” the rapporteur’s report states.

    • Tor Mumbai meetup

      On 20th January, we had a Tor meetup in Mumbai. Hasgeek organized the event, with OML providing the meeting space. I noticed the announcement over Twitter, and made sure that I registered for the event. Two contributors from the core team, Sukhbir Singh and Antonela Debiasi, were present at the event.

    • Government Warned Legal Action Coming if Immigration Exemption Enacted

      Formal legal action has been launched against the UK Government today over the inclusion of a specific clause in the new Data Protection Bill which means at least three million people across the country would be unable to find out what personal data the Home Office or other related organisations hold on them under a clause the government claims is needed for ‘effective immigration control’.

      Lawyers from Leigh Day, who are acting on behalf of the3million ‐ the largest grassroots organisation of EU citizens living in the UK ‐ and the Open Rights Group (ORG) ‐ the UK’s only digital campaigning organisation working to protect the rights to privacy and free speech online ‐ have written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd outlining their concerns and asking for the clause to be removed from the bill.

    • The Data Protection Bill’s Immigration Exemption must go

      The government has introduced a sweeping “immigration exemption” in Schedule 2, Paragraph 4. The exemption will remove your right to data protection if it is likely to prejudice “effective immigration control” or the “investigation or detection of activities that would undermine the maintenance of effective immigration control”. What it won’t do is ensure effective immigration control.

      This immigration exemption will ensure that the Government will not need to face up to its mistakes. Currently, according to the Government’s Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, mistakes and administrative errors are involved in 1 out of 10 immigration cases.

      What’s it like to one of those 1 in 10? You can ask any one of the hundred EU citizens, living in the UK entirely legally, who were sent letters demanding they leave or risk deportation in August last year.

    • Tencent CEO Urges ID Link for Hong Kong and Chinese Citizens

      Tencent Holdings Ltd. Chairman Ma Huateng called on the Chinese government to introduce an ID system that would link multiple sets of travel documents with a mobile phone as part of a plan to boost regional trade between Hong Kong and the mainland.

      China’s second-richest man said new technology systems and laws could let Hong Kong residents make electronic payments and cross the border more easily. Ma was speaking at a press conference in Beijing before the country’s legislative council convenes in the capital to set the year’s agenda. He was joined by fellow tech billionaires such as Baidu Inc. founder Robin Li, who expressed a willingness to list their companies’ shares in China.

      “It’s still very complicated and we’d need to make it work with the customs systems but from a technology point of view we can do it,” Ma said. “We have been talking to the chief executive in Hong Kong for quite some time about a number of these issues, including the electronic ID.”

    • Virtru’s new API brings encryption tech built by ex-NSA engineer to third-party developers [Ed: Virtru sounds like a dangerous joke to me not just because of the NSA connections but also the partnership with Microsoft (which is notorious for giving NSA back doors to everything, inc. crypto). Avoid.

      Virtru co-founder Will Ackerly developed the company’s underlying encryption technology while he was working as an engineer at the NSA, so it’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about the subject. The company has been delivering encryption products for email and files in transit for several years now, mainly through a partnership with Google GMail and Microsoft Office 365. Today, it announced it was opening up that technology to third party developers through the Virtru Data Protection Platform.

    • Data consents: lets get granular

      Consent is one of the six lawful bases that justify the processing of personal data. To be adequate, consent must be a freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the individual’s wishes by a statement or clear affirmative action – granular is the word the regulators use. It is not silence or a pre-ticked opt-in box. It is not a blanket acceptance of a set of terms and conditions that include privacy provisions. It can be ‘by electronic means’ – it could be a motion such as a swipe across a screen. But, where special category data (sensitive data such as health data) are processed and explicit consent is needed, this will be by way of a written statement.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • How the NSA and CIA Use Porn for Black Ops

      An internal NSA newsletter recently published by The Intercept records how the US government used pornography to debilitate and humiliate prisoners during the Iraq War. This is the latest in a string of revelations showing that the CIA and NSA regularly employ pornography as a tool in covert operations.

      The latest release from the Snowden cache describes how the NSA used pornography to debase and abuse Iraqi prisoners. An article from the NSA’s internal newsletter SID Today details how Marines brought in laptops, CDs, phones and hard drives belonging to detainees. The previously-secret document was written by an NSA volunteer working for the Iraq Survey Group, a joint CIA-DIA mission in Baghdad.

    • Is It Constitutional to Lock Up Immigrants Indefinitely?

      Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Jennings v. Rodriguez, a class action lawsuit challenging the federal government’s practice of jailing immigrants for months or years while they litigate their deportation cases. The ACLU had argued that neither the immigration laws nor the Constitution permit such detention unless a judge determines, at a hearing, that the immigrant will pose a danger or flight risk if released.

      In a 5-to-3 decision (Justice Kagan was recused), the court overturned a 2015 ruling from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that required the government to give immigrants a custody hearing after six months of imprisonment. But in doing so the court only addressed one of the two arguments advanced by the ACLU. It rejected the ACLU’s claim that the immigration laws require hearings. But the ACLU had also asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether the Constitution permitted lengthy imprisonment without hearings, and on that question, the court sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit to address first.

    • The East Mississippi Correctional Facility Is ‘Hell on Earth’

      At the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, where Mississippi sends some of the most seriously mentally ill people in the state prison system, even the most troubled patients are routinely ignored and the worst cases of self-harm are treated with certain neglect. The conditions at EMCF have cost some prisoners their limbs, their eyesight, and even their lives.

      In 2013, the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and prisoner rights attorney Elizabeth Alexander filed a class-action complaint on behalf of all the prisoners held at EMCF. As the case heated up, the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP joined as co-counsel, providing major staffing and support. Despite years of attempts by Mississippi to derail the lawsuit before our clients even saw the inside of the courtroom, the case will finally proceed to trial Monday.

      The lawsuit against EMCF describes horrific conditions at the facility: rampant violence, including by staff against prisoners; solitary confinement used to excess, with particular harm to prisoners with mental illnesses; and filthy cells and showers that lack functional toilets or lights. It also sheds light on a dysfunctional medical and mental healthcare delivery system that puts patients at risk of serious injury and has contributed to deaths in custody.

    • After Controversial Traffic Stop, Police Chief Says He Won’t Release Recordings To ‘Anti-Police’ Requesters

      The Chesterfield County Police Department is willing to violate your rights. If it’s not your Fourth Amendment rights, it’ll be your First. And this is fine with the department’s chief, who’s gone on record as a supporter of rights violations.

    • Two Governments That Remained Silent — and Three Women Who Refuse to Be Quiet

      At a D.C. event, survivors of a Mexican drug cartel massacre, triggered by a botched DEA operation, tell their story.

    • Welcome to the baton ball

      As well as flogging sniper rifles, shotguns, batons and handcuffs, the exhibition promotes cyber-spying firms that have been accused of helping repressive governments. Exhibitors include Gamma Group, which offers “strategic communications intelligence (network-based interception)”. The Bahraini security services used Gamma Group software to hack phones and computers of pro-democracy activists and lawyers (Eye 1373).

      Another exhibitor, Grey Heron Technologies, has strong links with Hacking Team, the notorious Milan-based surveillance company. At the fair Grey Heron will be selling “state-of-the-art software for legal surveillance of digital devices”. It gives a Milan address and its chief marketing officer is former Hacking Team spokesman Eric Rabe.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • After Chat With Ethics Lawyers, FCC Boss Declines NRA Gun Award For Killing Net Neutrality

      Last month you might recall that the NRA gave FCC boss Ajit Pai the Charleton Heston Award for Courage for his decision to dismantle popular net neutrality rules. The tone-deaf celebration was a pretty hollow attention seeking move, but was also an ouroboros of blistering idiocy. One, the NRA appears oblivious to the fact that net neutrality rules would have helped it as well, since the entire point is to ensure the internet is a level playing field for all competitors and voices. Net neutrality protects free speech (even speech you don’t agree with), something you’d think the folks at the NRA would be able to appreciate.

      Two, there’s simply nothing courageous about teaming up with Comcast to screw over the public and the nation’s small businesses and startups. Pai’s decision is widely derided as the dumbest decision in the history of modern tech policy. And while ISPs like to frame net neutrality as partisan to sow division and prevent meaningful rules, surveys repeatedly indicate the rules had broad bipartisan support.

      It didn’t take long for ethics experts to point out that the award and the NRA’s gift to Pai (a Kentucky long rifle) was over $200 and therefore violated ethics rules and lobbying restrictions:

    • The Decentralized Internet Is Here, With Some Glitches

      “The best entrepreneurs, developers, and investors have become wary of building on top of centralized platforms,” Chris Dixon, a partner with investor Andreessen Horowitz wrote last month, in a kind of manifesto for a more decentralized internet. Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web has similar concerns. Graphite Docs and some other early DApps are far from perfect, but show there’s something to the hype. A life less dependent on cloud giants is possible, if not yet easy.

  • DRM
    • MPAA Opposes Several Filmmaker Associations Request For Expanded Circumvention Exemptions

      Over the past few weeks, we’ve mentioned in a couple of posts that the Copyright Office is currently taking public commentary for changes to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention exemptions provisions. While we’ve thus far limited our posts to the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment’s bid to have those exemptions extended to preserving online video games and the ESA’s nonsensical rebuttal, that isn’t the only request for expanded exemptions being logged. A group of filmmaker associations put in a request last year for anti-circumvention exemptions to be extended to filmmakers so that they can break the DRM on Blu-ray films in order to make use of clips in new works. At issue is the fact that these filmmakers are able to make use of clips in these new works thanks to fair use but cannot readily get at them due to the DRM on the films themselves.

    • Wireless Carriers, Hardware Companies Use Flimsy IOT Security To Justify Attacks On Right To Repair Laws

      A few years ago, anger at John Deere’s draconian tractor DRM birthed a grassroots tech movement. The company’s lockdown on “unauthorized repairs” turned countless ordinary citizens into technology policy activists, after DRM and the company’s EULA prohibited the lion-share of repair or modification of tractors customers thought they owned. These restrictions only worked to drive up costs for owners, who faced either paying significantly more money for “authorized” repair, or toying around with pirated firmware just to ensure the products they owned actually worked.

      The John Deere fiasco resulted in the push for a new “right to repair” law in Nebraska. This push then quickly spread to multiple other states, driven in part by consumer repair monopolization efforts by other companies including Apple, Sony and Microsoft. Lobbyists for these companies quickly got to work trying to claim that by allowing consumers to repair products they own (or take them to third-party repair shops) they were endangering public safety. Apple went so far as to argue that if Nebraska passed such a law, it would become a dangerous “mecca for hackers” and other ne’er do wells.

      Wary of public backlash, many of these companies refuse to speak on the record regarding their attacks on consumer rights and repair competition. But they continue to lobby intensely behind the scenes all the same. The latest example comes courtesy of the “The Security Innovation Center,” a new lobbying and policy vehicle backed by hardware vendors and wireless carriers. The group issued a new “study” this week that tries to use the understandable concerns over flimsy IOT security to fuel their attacks on right to repair laws.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • OfflineBay: A Pirate Bay Alternative That Works Without Internet

        The Pirate Bay, known as TPB for short, is a known name trying to preserve the existence of torrent indexing sites. But TPB doesn’t run all the time flawlessly. However, it has shown persistence while withstanding against the pressure in the past. But, it can be any day TPB can face a downtime, possibly because the feds want so.

In Spite of Attempts to Water Down 35 U.S.C. § 101 and Stop PTAB, Software Patents Keep Sinking in the United States

Tuesday 6th of March 2018 12:54:51 AM

Summary: The latest extensive evidence that software patents are a failed strategy in the US, as not only courts keep rejecting these but also PTAB and even patent examiners

WHEN 35 U.S.C. § 101 reached the USPTO things did not change instantaneously. It took a while for examiners to adapt and become courageous enough to say “no” to software patents. It’s increasingly being reported that software patent applications are being rejected and the number of US patents is generally expected to decrease this year. The bar is being raised; at long last.

“It’s increasingly being reported that software patent applications are being rejected and the number of US patents is generally expected to decrease this year.”Software patents aren’t desirable. They never were. Those who advocated/demanded them were patent maximalists rather than actual coders/programmers/software developers. Not too long ago we saw Shelston IP [1, 2] pretending to speak for startups in support of software patents. It’s a lie. It’s gross misrepresentation. In their own words: “Shelston IP has in recent years been fairly critical of IP Australia’s ever-tightening policies for examining (and rejecting) patent applications in the computer technology space. To a greater extent, our frustrations tend to arise from our work with local technology start-ups, for whom the availability of patent protection and the presence of a robust patent system are crucial for success in the market.”

Nonsense. Shelston IP has long attacked restrictions on patents covering software. It did so because it had profited from startups that either wasted money on patents or needed to defend themselves from spurious patent lawsuits. Here are the concluding words: “Software patents for start-ups. They’re not that scary; they offer necessary protections for founders and investors.”

“Shelston IP has long attacked restrictions on patents covering software. It did so because it had profited from startups that either wasted money on patents or needed to defend themselves from spurious patent lawsuits.”Complete nonsense. Over the years we wrote at least half a dozen articles about Shelston IP. In the United States and elsewhere there’s this ‘cabal’ of such law firms that hijack the voice of developers and tell us that it’s horrific to see software patents phased out. It happened in Australia and New Zealand (where Shelston IP is based) and now it’s happening in the United States. Belatedly? Sure. But better late than never. Just like Shelston IP down under, there are firms in the US that profited from litigation with software patents. Sporting a picture of a snail, earlier today Samuel Hayim and Kate Gaudry wrote an anti-PTAB piece for Watchtroll. For the uninitiated, PTAB is by far the largest enforcer of § 101/Alice and thus the biggest eliminator of software patents. See last Wednesday’s “PTAB Affirms Examiner’s 101 Rejection of” series (of new examples and a few later § 101 rejections) [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. It’s impressive that almost every single time an IPR is received/accepted the patent will end up invalidated or not granted.

These patents are increasingly rejected by the USPTO and not just the courts. See this new article (“Nearly All Post-Alice Eligibility Rejections are Affirmed in Whole by the PTAB”) which says the same thing: [via Mr. Loney]

Frequently, the fate of a patent application lies with a single patent examiner. This power frustrates applicants when an impasse has been reached in terms of interpretation of the claims, cited art, or patent statutes. However, the applicant has the opportunity to change the decision-maker by appealing a rejection. Then, the decision-maker changes from the patent examiner to a panel of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) administrative law judges (ALJs). This strategy may appear to be particularly advantageous when the applicant believes that allowance prospects with the examiner are slim to non-existent.

Here is a new example of § 101 rejection by a court: “The court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment of invalidity because the asserted claims of plaintiff’s vibration attenuating patent encompassed unpatentable subject matter and found that the claims were directed to a law of nature.”

“These patents are increasingly rejected by the USPTO and not just the courts.”James Korenchan did not tolerate such patents being thrown out, so he has just written about it. “District Court for the District of Delaware, claims of a vibration attenuation patent were deemed patent ineligible as being directed to laws of nature under 35 U.S.C. § 101,” he said.

That makes perfect sense and we covered similar examples a couple of weeks ago. There’s also discussion about this notion of “law of nature” [1, 2] — a subject we wrote about last weekend. It’s like a relatively new theme.

Here is another new example: (from earlier today)

Asserted Claims of Digital Advertising Distribution Patents Invalid Under 35 U.S.C. § 101

The court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss because the asserted claims of plaintiff’s digital advertising distribution patents encompassed unpatentable subject matter and found that the claims were directed toward an abstract idea.

Last week we wrote about a similar patent at the EPO. Patents on delivery of ads aren’t just lacking in terms of novelty; it’s all trivial, never mind extensive prior art. Why are they being granted anyway?

“Patents on delivery of ads aren’t just lacking in terms of novelty; it’s all trivial, never mind extensive prior art.”Software patents are dead in the water in the US, more so than in Europe. These patents perish again and again, this time in Quantum Stream Inc. v Charter Communications, Inc. et al (covered here before).

There’s also this latest “Stupid Patent of the Month” from the EFF, this time covered by Joe Mullin [1, 2], whom they recently hired.

To quote Mullin:

This month’s Stupid Patent shows what happens when the patent system strays outside its proper boundaries. US Patent No. 8,706,513 describes a “fungible basket of investment grade gems” for use in “financial instruments.” In other words, it’s a rating and trading system that attempts to turn diamonds into a tradeable commodity like oil, gold, or corn.

Of course, creating new types of investment vehicles isn’t really an invention. And patents on newfangled financial techniques like this were generally barred following Bilski v. Kappos, a 2008 Supreme Court case that prevents the patenting of purely financial instruments. Since then, the law has become even less favorable to abstract business method patents like this one. In our view, the ’513 patent would not survive a challenge under Bilski or the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Alice v. CLS Bank.

Despite its clear problems, the ’513 patent is being asserted in court—and one of the people best placed to testify against the patent may not be allowed to.

The public’s right to challenge a patent in court is a critical part of the US patent system, that has always balanced the exclusive power of a patent. It’s especially important since patents are often granted by overworked examiners who get an average of 18 hours to review applications.

But there are two types of persons that, increasingly, aren’t allowed to challenge problematic patents: inventors of patents, and even partial owners of patents. Under a doctrine known as “assignor estoppel,” the Federal Circuit has barred inventors from challenging patents that they acquired for a former employer. Assignor estoppel was originally meant to cover a narrow set of circumstances—inventors who engaged in fraud or bad dealing, for instance—but the nation’s top patent court now routinely applies it to prevent inventors from challenging patents.

This is just a ‘classic’ abstract patent, as per Bilski, not just Alice. If reassessed, it would almost certainly be invalidated.

“Software patents are dead in the water in the US, more so than in Europe.”It’s still possible to pursue software patents in the US; it’s easier when buzzwords are used to hide how abstract things really are. IBM, for example, would do anything to patent software and it lobbies the most for software patents (even more so than Microsoft). See this article from 4 days ago; software patents aren’t reputable, so IBM might as well just call these patents “Cloud AI” (two buzzwords in a row, conjoined) or something like that. The language of the article is quite revealing:

IBM’s Big Bet On Cloud AI Will Pay Of


In 2017, over 1,900 of these were cloud patents. IBM did not share the number of AI related patents it was granted, but a large part of AI progress today is being made in software and algorithms, which are harder to patent.

We wrote about this before. IBM is just playing games with semantics.

It might be OK with examiners, but what would PTAB and courts say? PTAB thwarts a lot of IBM patents these days.

“PTAB thwarts a lot of IBM patents these days.”Just because IBM uses terms like “AI-related” doesn’t mean it’s not simply software patents (permitted in China but barely accepted in the US anymore). See last week’s article titled “China has shot far ahead of the US on deep-learning patents”.

Well, that’s China and SIPO. They gave up on quality control.

Charles Bieneman very recently noted the following Alice rejection:

Claims directed to “providing an internet third party data channel” were held invalid at the pleadings stage under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the two-part Alice patent-eligibility test because the claims attempt “to monopolize the abstract idea of monitoring a preexisting data stream between a server and a client for a specific condition and modifying that stream when that condition is present.”

Bieneman’s article is titled “How Easy Can Patent-Eligibility Analysis Be?” and compare that to “How Difficult is it to Judge Patentable Subject Matter?”

It’s a reminder that Michael Risch is not against software patents; Groklaw tolerated his views anyway (he’s not all bad). “In other words, as more than nothing is patentable, it becomes harder to sort,” he wrote last week. “Indeed, this study starts with cases after the Federal Circuit’s ruling in McRo affirming validity. Had I taken it before McRo, I could have gotten it 100% correct – just say it’s invalid. That’s actually an overstatement. According to Bilskiblog, just before McRo, 66% of claims were found invalid. Between that time and April 2017 (when this study cuts off), 50% of claims were found invalid. As more were valid, picking the valid ones gets harder. While the draft discusses some of these nuances, a slightly more robust discussion of statistical issues might be useful.”

“The patent microcosm is losing hope.”These people aren’t happy to see the erosion of software patents. One court decision on top of another, more so after Alice (SCOTUS), software patents are ebbing away. They’s a dying breed. They’re already dead in many ways (in US courts). Nobody would really claim otherwise in 2017. CAFC just finished/completed the job. The patent microcosm is losing hope. But it’s not giving up just yet.

We are attempting to understand the tactics which the patent microcosm will use from now on. They bash PTAB, they deny reality (spreading fake news about software patents still being worthwhile), and they lobby politicians. But nothing of this kind has worked so far. Watchtroll is so dishonest that it now intentionally conflates computers (hardware) with code (abstract). Watchtroll is where facts come to rot and die. From this article that’s a week old:

Computers, processors, memories and transmission equipment are devices or machines. All these machines, as configured systems, have a documented history of addressing concrete technical problems that were difficult to overcome. Ultimately, computing machines are characterized by what they do, or by their architecture. This article illustrates some of the historical issues in developing programmed and programmable machines.

We got some comments about this article (in Diaspora*) and they too ridicule this article.

“McDermott Will & Emery’s Amol Parikh still perpetuates a lie about GUIs being algorithms (they’re not).”Well, the hardware — not the programs themselves — could be patented. Things have changed and the scale/accessibility of coding is no longer the same as it used to be. Physical machines are not algorithms.

McDermott Will & Emery’s Amol Parikh still perpetuates a lie about GUIs being algorithms (they’re not). He posted this in several domains last week [1, 2]. To quote:

Affirming a series of district court rulings, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found claims directed to software menus that display a limited subset of commonly used functions—useful in conserving space on small screens—to be patent eligible. Core Wireless Licensing v. LG Electronics, Inc., Case No. 16-2684 (Fed. Cir., Jan. 25, 2018) (Moore, J). The Court also affirmed the district court’s denial of the defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) on anticipation, despite the fact that the plaintiff put forward no rebuttal witness on validity.


The Federal Circuit affirmed. Addressing the § 101 issue, the Court found that rather than merely reciting indices, the patents claimed a concrete solution to a problem specific to computers, which was lack of screen size and resulting navigational difficulties. The Court analogized these patents to others that offered seemingly abstract solutions to novel issues created by computers that the Court had previously held to be patent eligible.

The case was about user interfaces, not algorithms. But as usual, there are those looking to gain by distortion/misinterpreting the outcome.

Examiners are receiving some new instructions and there are those who hope that things can be swayed by the revised MPEP. Christopher Francis wrote about it some days ago and so did others, albeit more briefly. On the written description requirement of 35 U.S.C. § 112(a):

The memorandum concludes by providing the examining corps with a list of currently available guidance on the examination of claims for compliance with the written description requirement. According to the memorandum, “USPTO personnel should continue to follow the guidance in the MPEP regarding written description (see, e.g., MPEP 2161.01 and 2163), except insofar as MPEP 2163 indicates that disclosure of a fully characterized antigen may provide written descriptive support of an antibody to that antigen.”

None of this seems to affect § 101 in any way whatsoever. § 101 remains in tact (as is).

“Examiners are receiving some new instructions and there are those who hope that things can be swayed by the revised MPEP.”The CCIA has meanwhile responded to a common lie about § 101 — a lie/line promoted by lobbyists like David Kappos. “Is § 101 Impossible To Understand?”


CCIA explains:

Critics of the Alice/Mayo framework for § 101 patentable subject matter tend to claim that it’s impossible to understand or apply. Thanks to an enterprising 3L at Stanford, we now have survey evidence that the critics (and Judge Michel) are wrong.


This is even reflected in the data. Attorneys were significantly more likely to be wrong by guessing ineligible on an eligible claim than vice versa. This suggests that attorneys are pessimistically biased to think that eligible patents are ineligible.

That might just help explain why some critics think Alice is a bigger problem than it actually is.

“There is much speculation about whether it is still possible to patent software,” Daniel Rudoy (Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C.) wrote some days ago. One can still patent, but not enforce. Not successfully anyway. Barely.

“§ 101 remains in tact (as is).”Just when we thought the Berkheimer hype [1, 2] was over it was brought up again by the ALL CAPS anti-PTAB accounts and again by legal firms that are clinging onto minor cases like Berkheimer and Aatrix to pretend software patents are worth pursuing. Here’s this new example:

The Federal Circuit recently issued a trio of decisions relating to early motions seeking dismissal under 35 U.S.C. § 101 based on subject matter eligibility under the Supreme Court’s Alice decision. These cases provide insight on patent drafting strategies to avoid subject matter eligibility issues, as well as potential pitfalls to avoid during the patent drafting process. These cases also demonstrate that properly drafted software and business method patents are likely to avoid early dismissal in litigation based on subject matter eligibility issues, which strengthens these types of patents.


These recent decisions provide greater clarity on the type of information needed in a patent application specification to avoid summary dismissal under section 101 and to strengthen any resulting patents. In particular, in both Berkheimer and Aatrix, the Federal Circuit relied on statements in the patents identifying specific problems in the art and how the claimed technology disclosed an inventive solution that was not routine, conventional, or well-understood, and finding that material issues of fact existed under the Alice analysis. In contrast, Automated Tracking Solutions illustrates the pitfall of stating in a patent that portions of the technology are conventional. LeClairRyan’s patent attorneys will continue to monitor the developing precedent in this area and will advise you about any further developments.

As usual, one common method for patenting software is to assert that it is strictly combined with hardware. Watch last week’s press release which claims the “patented hardware and software systems are used to advertise all types of products and services within the retail environment…” (is the hardware really part of the invention?)

“As usual, one common method for patenting software is to assert that it is strictly combined with hardware.”There are a few more new articles, which we add into the mix only in hindsight.

“The protector of innovation” from Missouri S&T News and Research is such a laughable article and it’s no surprise that this puff with is from/about a “senior patent counsel” (who makes a living from patenting and litigation) to promote software patents. What utter nonsense this article is. They are glorifying patents on very trivial ideas and basically build up a sort of ‘bio’ for a lawyer rather than focus on the issues at hand. To quote:

The next time you get on eBay to sell a pair of sneakers and marvel at how seamless the sales process is or buy something that’s either hard to find or a great deal, make sure to thank an S&T grad.

As senior patent counsel at the multinational e-commerce corporation, Jeff Leng, Bus’06, CSci’06, helps protect the company’s intellectual property through obtaining patents on new technology and software that makes the shopping and selling experience more enjoyable for millions of eBay users.

Those sales have absolutely nothing to do with patents. Publications like to promote the illusion that patents rather than code are the cornerstones of such platforms.

“We are already a step closer to a world without software patents (the one major setback is China); but that does not mean that incredible efforts won’t be dedicated to reversal/turning of this tide.”Earlier today one author went even further than us and spoke about “The problem with patents in tech,” basically insinuating that the problem isn’t just software patents but patents on high-tech in general. To quote:

Patents are everywhere, and of course not just in the US, but there are particular industries where they show up more often than not. In our not so small corner of the world, we see dozens of patents on interesting technologies and potential products. Emphasis on “potential” because most of the time, they never come to be. Sometimes not from the party that filed the patent. More often than not, patents only surface when media get whiff of them or when used in a lawsuit. Because while patents were initially conceived to foster innovation, they run the risk of suffocating that very same thing instead.

In some domains, the public interest is harmed rather than served by patents. Moreover, the interest of practitioners (like programmers) can be harmed. So it’s important, especially when policy is being shaped, to listen to the real industry, not the patent ‘industry’ (people like the aforementioned “senior patent counsel”, Shelston IP, Watchtroll and so on). We are already a step closer to a world without software patents (the one major setback is China); but that does not mean that incredible efforts won’t be dedicated to reversal/turning of this tide.

Quick Mention: Dominion Harbor Reinforces Its Connection to Microsoft

Monday 5th of March 2018 11:44:16 PM

Summary: Dominion Harbor has been passed yet more patents from Intellectual Ventures, a patent troll founded and still funded by Microsoft

THE patent troll called the Minions’ Harbour (Dominion Harbor) did a whole podcast about me some months ago, basically defaming me from start to finish. Just about every single thing that said about me was patently false. Why the venom? Why this toxicity?

Well, Microsoft’s troll Intellectual Ventures has just passed some more patents to the Minions’ Harbour:

Dominion Harbor has bought a portfolio of almost 1,000 former American Express patents from Intellectual Ventures in the latest major deal between the two. The transaction follows a deal involving more than 1,200 former NEC assets which was announced last month and last year’s acquisition by Dominion of around 4,000 former Kodak patents.

IV has ramped up its sales over the last year and announced in April last year that it was stopping buying new assets for its third patent fund. As it has focused on slimming down its portfolio, Dominion has become its best customer buying more than 6,000 assets in these three large deals and a series of smaller transactions.

They already brag about it in their Twitter accounts.

Several days ago we wrote about how the Minions’ Harbour, via some proxies, threatens and sues various companies. We know this because Unified Patents filed an IPR and quite likely invalidated a patent through PTAB.

We shall keep an eye on the Minions’ Harbour because this isn’t the first time Microsoft’s troll passes it heaps of patents, which basically account for the lion’s share of all its patents (overall). It is already widely known that Intellectual Ventures typically operates through a network of literally thousands of proxies. It helps hide its tracks.

Links 5/3/2018: Linux 4.16 RC4, Linux From Scratch 8.2

Monday 5th of March 2018 11:58:57 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Tips for top: Monitoring CPU load on Linux

    Where should you look for answers? The top program is a great place to start. It can give you a rich, self-updating overview of the processes running on your system.

    The figure below shows a typical screen of top data. The first line provides the current time, the elapsed time since the most recent system boot, the number of users currently logged in, and load averages for the last minute, five minutes, and 15 minutes. This information can also be returned by running uptime.

  • A curiosity for Linux leads to an unexpected career

    The first time I saw Fedora, I was 15 or 16 years old. Someone I knew was trying (and failing) to install it on their computer. I’d never seen an OS other than Windows. I was intrigued and started asking the person many questions. He told me this OS was free to download and install—and I could even install it on my computer—but I did not believe an OS could be “free as in free beer.”

    I went home and started poking around on the internet for more information, but I was too nervous to download it. The reason? The internet in India was not very fast (at least not in my apartment), and it had a data cap that could have been exhausted by downloading an OS. Yes, I know it was probably a gig or less, but I did fear of using up all my internet, so I moved on.

  • Desktop
    • Windows 10 has had no overall growth in the last month. None

      This month’s Netmarketshare figures are almost static, but are still worth a look. The very fact that they are so static will be frustrating, particularly for Microsoft, which is still desperately trying to find the carrot to bring businesses on to Windows 10.

      Unlike with Windows 8, which was just terrible for businesses, Windows 7 remains not broken and so there’s no rush to fix it. Mild threats like Office 2019 not being available outside Windows 10, or withdrawing the old Skype client, are just not a big enough deal to a big enough group to get people invested in the switch.

    • Windows 10 Browser’s Struggle Continues for Another Month

      Microsoft is betting big on Edge browser in Windows 10, and this is one of the reasons the company has become rather aggressive in its attempt to convince users to give it a try, but all these efforts seem to be failing due to the popularity of Google Chrome.

    • Is Microsoft Getting Ready to Kill Off Windows Media Player?

      Windows Media Player appears to be the next name on the list of features to be deprecated from Windows 10, as Microsoft has started pushing users to the Movies & TV UWP app that comes pre-installed on the operating system.

      A screenshot posted on reddit reveals that Microsoft is now showing popups to users launching Windows Media Player to highlight the capabilities of Movies & TV app, most likely in an attempt to migrate them to the new app in anticipation of a possible demise of the classic player.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Cilium 1.0.0-rc4 Released: Transparently Secure Container Network Connectivity Utilising Linux BPF

      Cilium is open source software for transparently securing the network connectivity between application services deployed using Linux container management platforms like Docker and Kubernetes. Cilium 1.0.0-rc4 has recently been released, which includes: the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)-hosted Envoy configured as the default HTTP/gRPC proxy; the addition of a simple health overview for connectivity and other errors; and an improved scalable kvstore interaction layer.

      Microservices applications tend to be highly dynamic, and this presents both a challenge and an opportunity in terms of securing connectivity between microservices. Modern approaches to overcoming this issue have coalesced around the CNCF-hosted Container Network Interface (CNI) and the increasingly popular “service mesh” technologies, such as Istio and Conduit. According to the Cilium documentation, traditional Linux network security approaches (such as iptables) filter on IP address and TCP/UDP ports. However, the highly volatile life cycle of containers and IP addresses cause these approaches to struggle to scale alongside the application as the large number of load balancing tables and access control lists must be updated continually.

    • Latest AMDKFD Kernel Patches For Radeon dGPU VM Support

      For those of you excited by the prospects of running ROCm compute and OpenCL off a mainline Linux kernel build with a discrete Radeon GPU, there is an updated patch-set this weekend for testing.

      Linux 4.17 is shaping up to be another exciting kernel for Radeon GPU owners with finally having WattMan support and the AMDKFD HSA driver being in good shape for discrete GPUs to begin allowing these graphics processors to run with the open-source ROCm compute stack without needing any kernel changes.

    • The boot-constraint subsystem

      The fifth version of the patch series adding the boot-constraint subsystem is under review on the linux-kernel mailing list. The purpose of this subsystem is to honor the constraints put on devices by the bootloader before those devices are handed over to the operating system (OS) — Linux in our case. If these constraints are violated, devices may fail to work properly once the kernel starts reconfiguring the hardware; by tracking and enforcing those constraints, instead, we can ensure that hardware continues to work properly until the kernel is fully operational.

      The bootloader is a piece of code that loads the operating system, normally after initializing a number of hardware components that are required during the boot process, such as the flash memory controller. More than one bootloader may take part in booting the OS; the first-stage bootloader loads the second-stage bootloader, and the second-stage bootloader loads the OS. Some of the most common bootloaders used with Linux are LILO (LInux LOader), LOADLIN (LOAD LINux), GRUB (GRand Unified Bootloader), U-Boot (Universal Bootloader) and UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface).

    • Dynamic function tracing events

      For as long as the kernel has included tracepoints, developers have argued over whether those tracepoints are part of the kernel’s ABI. Tracepoint changes have had to be reverted in the past because they broke existing user-space programs that had come to depend on them; meanwhile, fears of setting internal code in stone have made it difficult to add tracepoints to a number of kernel subsystems. Now, a new tracing functionality is being proposed as a way to circumvent all of those problems.

      Whether tracepoints are part of the kernel ABI is not an insignificant issue. The kernel’s ABI promise states that working programs will not be broken by updated kernels. It has become clear in the past that this promise extends to tracepoints, most notably in 2011 when a tracepoint change broke powertop and had to be reverted. Some kernel maintainers prohibit or severely restrict the addition of tracepoints to their subsystems out of fear that a similar thing could happen to them. As a result, the kernel lacks tracepoints that users would find useful.

    • BPF comes to firewalls

      The Linux kernel currently supports two separate network packet-filtering mechanisms: iptables and nftables. For the last few years, it has been generally assumed that nftables would eventually replace the older iptables implementation; few people expected that the kernel developers would, instead, add a third packet filter. But that would appear to be what is happening with the newly announced bpfilter mechanism. Bpfilter may eventually replace both iptables and nftables, but there are a lot of questions that will need to be answered first.

      It may be tempting to think that iptables has been the kernel’s packet-filtering implementation forever, but it is a relative newcomer, having been introduced in the 2.4.0 kernel in 2001. Its predecessors (ipchains, introduced in 2.2.10, and ipfwadm, which dates back to 1.2.1 in 1995) are mostly forgotten at this point. Iptables has served the Linux community well and remains the firewalling mechanism that is most widely used, but it does have some shortcomings; it has lasted longer than the implementations that came before, but it is clearly not the best possible solution to the problem.

      The newer nftables subsystem, merged for the 3.13 kernel release in early 2014, introduced an in-kernel virtual machine to implement firewall rules; users have been slowly migrating over, but the process has been slow. For some strange reason, system administrators have proved reluctant to throw away their existing firewall configurations, which were painful to develop and which still function as well as they ever did, and start over with a new and different system.

    • New tricks for XFS

      The XFS filesystem has been in the kernel for fifteen years and was used in production on IRIX systems for five years before that. But it might just be time to teach that “old dog” of a filesystem some new tricks, Dave Chinner said, at the beginning of his 2018 presentation. There are a number of features that XFS lacks when compared to more modern filesystems, such as snapshots and subvolumes; but he has been thinking—and writing code—on a path to get them into XFS.

    • Linux 4.16-rc4

      Hmm. A reasonably calm week – the biggest change is to the ‘kvm-stat’
      tool, not any actual kernel files.

      But there’s small changes all over, with architecture updates (x86,
      s390, arm, parisc) and drivers (media, md, gpu, sound) being the bulk
      of it. But there’s some filesystem fixes (mostly btrfs),
      documentation updates etc too.

    • Linux 4.16-rc4 Released, Marks The End Of Another Calm Week
    • Graphics Stack
      • Trying Out AMDGPU Overdrive Radeon Overclocking On Linux 4.15

        A premium patron recently requested some fresh tests on Polaris and Vega trying out the AMDGPU OverDrive overclocking functionality on the latest Linux kernel… Here are those tests with a Radeon RX 580 and RX Vega 64.

      • RandR Leases Support For AMDGPU DDX Driver

        The xf86-video-modesetting DDX within the X.Org Server 1.20 code-base already has its support wired in for dealing with RandR leases while now Keith Packard has posted the patches for xf86-video-amdgpu.

        With the X.Org Server side bits and the generic modesetting DDX having received their work on RandR leases, non-desktop quirk handling, etc, as part of Keith’s work for Valve on improving VR headset support under Linux, he’s now posted the patches so xf86-video-amdgpu can deal with the new RandR leasing functionality.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Plasma secrets: digital clock

        Pretty simple and straightforward, but then some people might struggle figuring out how to change the clock. The most obvious approach is to tweak the existing one, and indeed, a popular question could be: how to change the vertical height of the clock? But that’s a hardcoded widget feature, and you can’t do that easily. So you need a new widget – or use Plasma 5.12.1, which you can find in KDE neon. Lots of sweet reading right there.

        I believe Event Calendar, additional features notwithstanding, does a pretty good job, and it gives the system an ever so slightly more professional look. Once you’re neck deep in tweaks and loving it, then it becomes an important part of the overall equation. Art can be like that. A blessing and a curse. I hope you like this little guide. More Plasma secrets coming your way soon.

      • This week in Discover, part 8

        This was a week of polish and preparation for Discover. We’ve got some nice new features in the pipeline but we’re not quite ready to announce them just yet. One is implemented but needs more polish, and another is under construction. I think you’ll like ’em once they’re ready!

      • What’s New in Netrunner Rolling 2018.01

        Netrunner Rolling 2018.01 is the latest release of Netrunner Linux Distributions, it first snapshot in 2018 with the latest update and some new features. As KDE-Focused Linux Distribution this relase ships with the KDE Plasma 5.11.5 as default desktop environment, including KDE Frameworks 5.41 software suites, KDE Applications 17.12, and Qt 5.10.

        Based on Manjaro Linux and powered by long-term support of Linux Kernel 4.14, Netrunner 2018.01 also introducing the YaRock Qt music player for streaming online radio, KDE Discover has been pulled back into the default application set, it allow users to install a wide range of packages and it also comes with built-in update capabilities.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 8

        The wheels of the Usability & Productivity initiative chug along, knocking out issue after issue!

      • Plasma Volume Widget Can Now Transfer Audio Streams Between Devices

        Development on KDE Plasma 5.13, KDE Applications 18.04, and KDE Frameworks 5.44 continues at full-speed.

        I recently mentioned some of the work on how KDE Plasma 5.13 will be starting even faster and is getting smarter/better monitor hot-plug handling but there are some more minor improvements to mention now.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
  • Distributions
    • Top 10 Best Linux Distros For 2018 — (The Ultimate Distro Choosing Guide)

      We’re well into 2018 and I think some of you might have boarded the Linux train in the recent past. While the world of Linux does offer tons of choice, it might get overwhelming at first. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide to help you select the best Linux distro to suit your needs.

    • Reviews
      • Review: Enso OS 0.2

        Enso is a young distribution based on Xubuntu. Enso features the Xfce desktop environment running on the Gala window manager; Gala has been used with good effect on the elementary OS distribution. Enso also features the Panther application menu and the Plank dock. The Enso website mentions the project is trying to have a positive environmental impact: “Help plant trees while you search the web with Ecosia, the search engine that plants trees with it’s ad revenue, included in Enso.”

        The project’s latest release, Enso OS 0.2, is based on Xubuntu 16.04 and is available in just one edition for 64-bit x86 computers. The ISO we download is approximately 1.5GB in size. The downloaded media boots to a graphical screen where a window appears and asks if we would like to try Enso’s live desktop environment or immediately begin the installation process. This window also lets us select our preferred language from a list.

        While the live desktop uses Xfce components running on the Gala window manager, the desktop has a certain GNOME-like appearance. There is a thin top panel which includes an application menu, clock and system tray. At the bottom-left corner of the screen there is a dock (powered by Plank) which acts as both a quick-launch bar and task switcher. Enso uses bright colours for the window control buttons and the minimize, maximize and close buttons are presented in blue, green and yellow. The busy mouse cursor is shown as the macOS-style beach ball.

    • New Releases
      • 4MLinux 24.0 STABLE released.

        The status of the 4MLinux 24.0 series has been changed to STABLE. Edit your documents with LibreOffice and GNOME Office (AbiWord 3.0.2, GIMP 2.8.22, Gnumeric 1.12.38), share your files using DropBox 43.4.49, surf the Internet with Firefox 58.0.2 and Chromium 64.0.3282.119, stay in touch with your friends via Thunderbird 52.6.0 and Skype for Web, enjoy your music collection with Audacious 3.9, watch your favorite videos with VLC 3.0.0 and MPlayer SVN-r37946, play games powered by Mesa 17.1.4 and Wine 3.1. You can also setup the 4MLinux LAMP Server (Linux 4.14.18, Apache 2.4.29, MariaDB 10.2.12, PHP 5.6.33 and PHP 7.2.2). Perl 5.26.0 and Python 2.7.13 are also available.

      • LFS and BLFS Version 8.2 are released

        The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of LFS
        Version 8.2, LFS Version 8.2 (systemd), BLFS Version 8.2, and BLFS Version

      • Linux From Scratch 8.2 Released

        For fans of Linux From Scratch for assembling your own operating system, LFS and BLFS 8.2 are released in time for some weekend adventures.

      • Pardus 17.2 Çıktı! [Ed: New release of Turkish GNU/Linux distribution]
    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
      • Chemnitz Linux Days 2018 – And Mageia is part of it.

        We are happy to announce, that, as in previous years, we will present our amazing distribution at the Chemnitz Linux Days 2018 (Chemnitzer Linux Tage, CLT) on the 10th and 11th of March. This is one of the biggest OpenSource exhibitions in Germany. This year also a very special year, as it’s the 20th anniversary. We are happy to celebrate this anniversary together, as we have been part of Chemnitzer Linux Days many times before.

      • The March 2018 Issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine

        The PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the March 2018 issue. With the exception of a brief period in 2009, The PCLinuxOS Magazine has been published on a monthly basis since September, 2006. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community. The magazine is lead by Paul Arnote, Chief Editor, and Assistant Editor Meemaw. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is released under the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 Unported license, and some rights are reserved. All articles may be freely reproduced via any and all means following first publication by The PCLinuxOS Magazine, provided that attribution to both The PCLinuxOS Magazine and the original author are maintained, and a link is provided to the originally published article.

        In the March 2018 issue:

        * Short Topix: iOS Bootloader Leaked, ET vs BitCoin
        * ms_meme’s Nook: How I Love The Sandbox
        * Tip Top Tips: Make An Easy Calendar In Scribus
        * GIMP Tutorial: Another Simple Animation
        * PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight: Ratt Salad
        * So You Want To Be A YouTuber? With PCLinuxOS You Can
        * PCLinuxOS Recipe Corner
        * DigiKam: Photo Management Basics
        * LibreOffice 6.0 Released
        * And much more inside!

        This month’s magazine cover image was designed by parnote and Meemaw.

        Download the PDF (9.5 MB)

        Download the EPUB Version (6.2 MB)

        Download the MOBI Version (6.8 MB)

        Visit the HTML Version

    • Arch Family
    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Next Tails Anonymous OS Release Will Be Powered by Linux Kernel 4.15, Tor 3.2.9

          Tails 3.6 recently entered development, and a first release candidate image is now ready for public testing, suggesting the upcoming release will be the first to be powered by the latest Linux 4.15 kernel and ship with the most recent TOR 3.2.9 client/server technologies for accessing the dark web.

          The upcoming Tails OS release is also the first to ship with screen locking support, which apparently can be used even without the root (system administrator) password. Also, there are several upgraded components included, starting with the tails-additional-softwares package, which no longer blocks the desktop.

        • UBPorts Is Working On Unity 8 For Debian

          The UBPorts community continues pushing Unity 8 for their mobile/convergence vision in the absence of Canonical as well as making other improvements. Besides offering Unity 8 to Ubuntu users, they are also working on Debian support.

          In today’s latest Ubuntu Touch Q&A, there is a small reference near the end that they are working on the Unity 8 desktop environment as an option for Debian too. “Yes… But shhh this is a secret…”

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Where Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “Bionic Beaver” Is Heading

            ​As most of you guys might already know that Ubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” has entered in Freeze state and we are going to get the very 1st beta build of Ubuntu 18.04 on 8th of this march. I decided to take a quick look at the latest daily build released. There are significant new things to be excited about as well as few bugs which are expected. Now without wasting time, let’s get started.

          • Xubuntu/Flavours and Variants
            • Testing for Xubuntu

              Xubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” is just around the corner. The first beta milestone arrives next week, and the final release is a little over a month away. 18.04 is an LTS release, meaning it has a 3-year support cycle and is definitely recommended for all users. Or it would be, if we knew it was ready. Stick around… this is a bit of a long read, but it’s important.

              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.

            • Parole Media Player 1.0.0 Released

              It’s here, it’s finally here! The first 1.0 release of Parole Media Player has finally arrived. This release greatly improves the user experience for users without hardware-accelerated video and includes several fixes.

            • Xfce Settings 4.12.2 Released

              Xfce has been steadily heading towards it’s GTK+ 3 future with Xfce 4.14, but that doesn’t mean our current stable users have been left behind. We’ve got some new features, bug fixes, and translations for you!

            • Exton|OS Claims to Be First Distribution Based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, Linux 4.16

              Tagged as Build 180301, the new Exton|OS release is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and features the lightweight and modern Budgie desktop environment created by the Solus devs. Budgie 10.4 is on-board this release, which comes with the renowned Calamares universal installer framework by default.

              According to the developer, Exton|OS is now fully compatible with the software repositories of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, which means that users can install any upstream package they need. Also, Arne Exton claims Exton|OS would be the first GNU/Linux distro to be based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), due for release on April 26, 2018.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Haiku OS Working On Better Address Space Protection

    Adding to the list of operating systems working on memory protection improvements in wake of recent CPU vulnerabilities is Haiku OS.

    One of the Haiku OS developers, Jérôme Duval, has been working on address space protection improvements the past 2+ months. In particular on better protecting the kernel memory by using the user_memcpy() user memory copy function when appropriate. Over February he converted more USB, PCI, SCSI, and ACPI kernel code to using user_memcpy and related functions where appropriate.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
  • Databases
    • Confessions of an ex-Oracle customer: “The costs were phenomenal”

      Speaking at M18 – the customer conference for the open source database MariaDB – William Wood, director of database architecture at Financial Network said: “We looked into extending our Oracle footprint but the cost meant we wouldn’t be able to provide a competitive cost base using Oracle, so we started looking at other solutions.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.1 Getting GTK3 Native Message Dialogs

      For the past few years McNamara has been working on the GTK3 bits for LibreOffice as well as Wayland and other fun features like OpenGL flicker-free transitions. While the GTK3 support for LibreOffice is largely in good shape, one of the notable areas where it wasn’t quite well integrated is with message dialogs.

    • native GTK3 message dialogs

      In LibreOffice 6.1, when the GTK3 backend is in use, the message dialogs are now native GTK3 message dialogs rather than vcl message dialogs using GTK theming.

  • CMS
    • 30% of all sites now run on WordPress

      The folks at San Francisco-based Automattic have a good reason to celebrate this Monday: its WordPress content management system (CMS) now powers 30 percent of all sites on the web.

      That’s according to W3Techs, a service run by Austrian consulting firm Q-Success that surveys the top 10 million sites ranked on Alexa. Its numbers are updated daily, and today it sees WordPress accounting for 60 percent of the CMS market.

    • WordPress is now 30 per cent of the web, daylight second

      The web-watchers at W3Techs have just noted a milestone: WordPress now accounts for 30 per cent of the world’s web sites.

      W3Techs crawls the top ten million websites as determined by Amazon’s Alexa rating service and peers into their innards to figure out what they’re running, and sells details reports on its findings. It also publishes public data on its findings.

      And on Monday March 5th that public data ticked recorded that WordPress’ share of the top ten million web sites ticked over from 29.9 per cent to 30 per cent. The firm put some context on that data by noting that 50.2 per cent of the world’s web sites don’t run a content management system (CMS) at all. That means WordPress has over 60 per cent share among web sites that do run a CMS. That’s a dominance few products in any category can claim.

    • WordPress now powers 30% of websites

      WordPress now powers 30 percent of the web, according to data from web technology survey firm W3Techs.

      This represents a 5 percentage point increase in nearly two and a half years, after WordPress hit the 25 percent mark in November 2015.

    • shamelessly rips off of Mastodon and slaps a blockchain on top, for some reason

      The Hiveway platform raised more than a few eyebrows today with an announcement by none other than John McAfee, unveiling the startups rebrand from Etherhive to Hiveway. At this time, McAfee’s affiliation with the project remains unclear, but he nevertheless appears to be providing consultation to the team.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
  • BSD
    • Looking at Lumina Desktop 2.0

      A few weeks ago I sat down with Lead Developer Ken Moore of the TrueOS Project to get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Lumina Desktop from the open source community. Here is what he said on Lumina Desktop 2.0. Do you have a question for Ken and the rest of the team over at the TrueOS Project? Make sure to read the interview and comment below. We are glad to answer your questions!

      Ken: Lumina Desktop 2.0 is a significant overhaul compared to Lumina 1.x. Almost every single subsystem of the desktop has been streamlined, resulting in a nearly-total conversion in many important areas.

      With Lumina Desktop 2.0 we will finally achieve our long-term goal of turning Lumina into a complete, end-to-end management system for the graphical session and removing all the current runtime dependencies from Lumina 1.x (Fluxbox, xscreensaver, compton/xcompmgr). The functionality from those utilities is now provided by Lumina Desktop itself.

      Going along with the session management changes, we have compressed the entire desktop into a single, multi-threaded binary. This means that if any rogue script or tool starts trying to muck about with the memory used by the desktop (probably even more relevant now than when we started working on this), the entire desktop session will close/crash rather than allowing targeted application crashes to bypass the session security mechanisms. By the same token, this also prevents “man-in-the-middle” type of attacks because the desktop does not use any sort of external messaging system to communicate (looking at you `dbus`). This also gives a large performance boost to Lumina Desktop

    • Lumina Desktop 2.0 Is A Big Overhaul, Fully Leveraging QML
    • How to patch Meltdown vulnerability on OpenBSD Unix

      I read that OpenBSD is the first BSD family of the operating system to release updates for its stable releases to mitigate the Meltdown vulnerability. How do I patch Meltdown on OpenBSD Unix operating system?

    • TrueOS Rules of Conduct
      • Treat each other with respect and professionalism.
      • Leave personal and TrueOS unrelated conversations to other channels.

      In other words, it’s all about the code.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Licenses and contracts

      Some days it seems that wherever two or more free-software enthusiasts gather together, there also shall be licensing discussions. One such, which can get quite heated, is the question of whether a given free-software license is a license, or whether it is really a contract. This distinction is important, because most legal systems treat the two differently. I know from personal experience that that discussion can go on, unresolved, for long periods, but it had not previously occurred to me to wonder whether this might be due to the answer being different in different jurisdictions. Fortunately, it has occurred to some lawyers to wonder just that, and three of them came together at FOSDEM 2018 to present their conclusions.

      The talk was given by Pamela Chestek of Chestek Legal, Andrew Katz of Moorcrofts, and Michaela MacDonald of Queen Mary University of London. Chestek focused on the US legal system, Katz on that of England and Wales, while MacDonald focused on the civil law tradition that is characteristic of many EU member states. The four licenses they chose to consider were the “Modified” or “three-clause” BSD, the Apache License, the GNU General Public License (their presentation was not specific to GPLv3, but the passage they quoted to make a point was from GPLv3), and the Fair License. The first three are among the most common free-software licenses currently in use. The latter is the shortest license the Open Source Initiative has ever approved, and though it is used by hardly any free software, it was included as an example of the maximum possible simplicity in a license.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • Why Do We Do It?

      I studied Electronic Engineering (EE) in school, learning the very basics of what makes good hardware design. I put together resistors, capacitors, transistors, operational amplifiers, microprocessors and more onto breadboards and, in turn, observed the miracle of my creations. It didn’t stop there—next came the programming of such devices, writing microcode and eventually “operating systems” in their simplest of forms (using a lot of assembly language) to extend the functionality of my creations. The hardware gave these “creatures” life, but the software gave them brains. The excitement. The thrill. The adrenaline of never knowing what to expect. Was there a flaw in my design? And if so, how will I address it? Will I need an oscilloscope or a JTAG debugger? This new sense of responsibility gave me purpose. It gave me the motivation to persist and move on to bigger and greater challenges.

    • Java EE Becomes Jakarta EE As Oracle Wouldn’t Let Eclipse Keep The Name

      You may recall from last year that Oracle was looking to offload Java EE to someone else. They ended up putting the code on GitHub for Java Enterprise Edition and offering Java EE to the Eclipse Foundation, but that didn’t include the name.

  • Re-Live 90s Computing In Your Browser Right Now
  • And now for something completely different: Make that Power Mac into a radio station (plus: the radioSHARK tank and AltiVec + LAME = awesome)

    As I watch Law and Order reruns on my business trip, first, a couple followups. The big note is that it looks like Intel and some ARM cores aren’t the only ones vulnerable to Meltdown; Raptor Computer Systems confirms that Meltdown affects at least POWER7 through POWER9 as well, and the Talos II has already been patched. It’s not clear if this is true for POWER4 (which would include the G5) through POWER6 as these processor generations have substantial microarchitectural differences. However, it doesn’t change anything for the G3 and 7400, since because they appear to be immune to Spectre-type attacks means they must also be immune to Meltdown. As a practical matter, though, unless you’re running an iffy program locally there is no known JavaScript vector that successfully works to exploit Spectre (let alone Meltdown) on Power Macs, even on the 7450 and G5 which are known to be vulnerable to Spectre.

  • Science
    • Ice Apocalypse

      In the past few years, scientists have identified marine ice-cliff instability as a feedback loop that could kickstart the disintegration of the entire West Antarctic ice sheet this century — much more quickly than previously thought.

    • Electric wave engulfs brain at first blush of consciousness

      Our brains are bombarded with information about events around us, but we only become conscious of a few of them. Yale researchers have captured what happens in the split second before the emergence of consciousness, a fundamental state of human life.

      “There is a very tight window of a few milliseconds when we come aware of stimuli and before the experience is passed on to be coded in our memory and analyzed,” said Dr. Hal Blumenfeld, the Mark Loughridge and Michele Williams Professor of Neurology and senior author of the research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

    • Giant Family Tree of 13 Million People Just Created

      The researchers, who sifted through 86 million profiles of people on the public genealogy site, were interested in how human migrations and marriage choices had changed over the past 500 years.


      After downloading the 86 million profiles, the researchers used mathematical graph theory to organize and double-check the accuracy of the information. In addition to smaller family trees, they put together the giant one of 13 million people, connected by ancestry and marriage, spanning an average of 11 generations. If the data had gone back another 65 generations, the researchers could have identified the group’s common ancestor and completed the tree, the researchers noted.

    • Newly discovered giant viruses have ‘the most complete translational apparatus of known virosphere’

      A team of researchers with members from several institutions in France, Brazil and Sweden has discovered two new strains of giant viruses, which they note have “the most complete translational apparatus of the known virosphere.” In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the group describe characteristics of the viruses including details about their genomes.

      It has been only a little more than a decade since a team of researchers identified Mimivirus, a giant virus that caused biologists to rethink the nature of viruses. That effort will likely heat up as two new strains of a giant virus have been discovered, both in Brazil—one in Soda Lake, the other off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Together, the two new strains have been named Tupanvirus, after the Brazilian god Tupã.

    • In an Era of ‘Smart’ Things, Sometimes Dumb Stuff Is Better

      It still feels magical to light up your living room by saying “Alexa, turn on the lights.” But with all the hype surrounding so-called smart things — everyday devices that are connected to the internet — it’s easy to forget that sometimes the dumb stuff is just better.

      Tech companies are adding internet connections to just about everything you can imagine so that they can be controlled with smart speakers or phones. Thermostats, surveillance cameras, mosquito zappers, coffee makers — you name it.

      And smart devices are becoming more popular. In 2017, 15 percent of American households owned a home automation device, up from 10 percent in April 2016, according to NPD Group, a research firm.

      But before we get carried away setting up the Wi-Fi connections on all our appliances, lights and fashion accessories, let me play Luddite for a second. Some of the most mundane devices are designed to accomplish a simple task extremely well — and in some cases they still execute those duties better than their high-tech brethren.

    • What happens when you put evolution on replay?

      A team of scientists from the University of Arizona have engineered an instant replay switch for evolution. The technique, known as ancestral gene resurrection, inserts ancient genes into modern E. coli bacteria. It gives researchers the opportunity to watch evolution unfold again and again, providing insights into how life evolved on early Earth, and what it might potentially look like on other planets.

      “Organisms can function just fine even when they’ve been engineered with an essential gene that is over 700 million years old,” the study’s lead author Betül Kaçar, an astrobiologist at the University of Arizona, tells Astrobiology Magazine. “This work is a proof of concept. The next questions are: How far back can we go? And would we expect the sequences to evolve and function the same way that they did? Just because sequences are similar doesn’t mean that the gene will function in the same way.”

  • Health/Nutrition
    • EPA scientists find black communities disproportionately hit by pollution

      African-Americans faced the highest impact, with the community facing a 54 percent higher health burden compared to the overall population, the study found. Non-white communities overall had a 28 percent higher health burden and those living under the poverty line had a 35 percent higher burden.

    • Former water plant operator says Flint rushed to use flawed treatment plant

      Michael Glasgow, who also previously served as the operator in charge of the Flint water plant, testified Thursday, Feb. 22, that he asked city officials for more time to prepare for full-time water treatment in early 2014, had his request denied, and finally turned to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for help.

      Glasgow told Genesee District Court Judge Jennifer Manley that he made his concerns known in emails to Michael Prysby and Stephen Busch, two of the DEQ employees facing charges of criminal wrongdoing related to the water crisis, but neither replied.

    • The ‘water war’ brewing over the new River Nile dam

      There’s been talk about a dam on the Blue Nile for many years, but when Ethiopia started to build, the Arab Spring was underway and Egypt was distracted.


      He understands that Egypt is worried, as the UN predicts the country will start suffering water shortages by 2025.

    • Cape Town Water Crisis Highlights Deep-Running Inequality

      South Africa’s seaside city of Cape Town is mired in a three-year drought and is poised to become the world’s first major city to run out of water. The city will shut off municipal taps on “Day Zero,” which is projected to be July 9.

      But for many residents of the city’s sprawling, low-income townships, water has always been a rare commodity. Cape Town resident Welekazi Rangana says she’s struggling to understand how some residents of this seaside town are chafing under tight new water restrictions.

    • Are we poisoning our children with plastic?

      The problem is that BPA can be ingested or absorbed through skin contact, meaning that humans are regularly exposed through the chemical leaching out of packaging into food and drink – and over the past 20 years various studies have linked BPA to a variety of adverse health effects. The biggest concerns have been the impact on foetuses and young children, who have underdeveloped systems for detoxifying chemicals – the consequences being that the younger you are, the higher the levels of BPA in your body.

      Once in the human body, BPA mimics the action of the hormone oestrogen and disrupts the endocrine system – the glands that produce hormones regulating, among other things, metabolism, growth, sexual function and sleep. Studies examining the effects of very high doses of BPA in mice have shown that this can cause problems with liver and kidney function, and mammary gland development. While these studies involve much higher doses than the general public would ever be exposed to, there are concerns that the levels of BPA that accumulate in infants can still have adverse developmental consequences, leading to neurobehavioural and immune system abnormalities.

    • Ocean plastic tide ‘violates the law’

      But a new report – to be presented to a Royal Geographical Society conference on Tuesday – says littering the sea with plastics is already prohibited under existing agreements.

    • Pharmaceutical corporations need to stop free-riding on publicly-funded research

      That’s not how it works; lifesaving medicines aren’t more expensive here because they cost less elsewhere. They’re priced out of reach everywhere because pharmaceutical corporations are charging exorbitant prices simply because they can—and the U.S. government lets them.

  • Security
    • Cryptographers Urge People to Abandon IOTA After Leaked Emails

      This past weekend, multiple prominent security researchers and academic cryptographers took to Twitter to paint a big black mark on the cryptocurrency project, IOTA. The posts implore investors not to hold the currency and researchers not to collaborate on enhancing the security of the system.

      An outcry was triggered shortly after a chain of private emails sent among the IOTA team and a group of external security researchers was made public, exposing the developers’ response to the disclosure of a critical flaw in one of their cryptographic building blocks. The correspondence, which ended with vague threats of legal action by IOTA founder, Sergey Ivancheglo, against a member of the Boston University security group, has prompted many academic researchers to denounce the entire project.

    • Ethereum’s smart contracts are full of holes

      Computer programs that run on blockchains are shaking up the financial system. But much of the hype around what are called smart contracts is just that. It’s a brand-new field. Technologists are just beginning to figure out how to design them so they can be relied on not to lose people’s money, and—as a new survey of Ethereum smart contracts illustrates—security researchers are only now coming to terms with what a smart-contract vulnerability even looks like.

    • GitHub Survived the Biggest DDoS Attack Ever Recorded

      On Wednesday, at about 12:15 pm ET, 1.35 terabits per second of traffic hit the developer platform GitHub all at once. It was the most powerful distributed denial of service attack recorded to date—and it used an increasingly popular DDoS method, no botnet required.

      GitHub briefly struggled with intermittent outages as a digital system assessed the situation. Within 10 minutes it had automatically called for help from its DDoS mitigation service, Akamai Prolexic. Prolexic took over as an intermediary, routing all the traffic coming into and out of GitHub, and sent the data through its scrubbing centers to weed out and block malicious packets. After eight minutes, attackers relented and the assault dropped off.

    • It’s begun: ‘First’ IPv6 denial-of-service attack puts IT bods on notice

      What’s claimed to be the first IPv6-based distributed denial-of-service attack has been spotted by internet engineers who warn it is only the beginning of what could become the next wave of online disruption.

      Network guru Wesley George noticed the strange traffic earlier this week as part of a larger attack on a DNS server in an effort to overwhelm it. He was taking packet captures of the malicious traffic as part of his job at Neustar’s SiteProtect DDoS protection service when he realized there were “packets coming from IPv6 addresses to an IPv6 host.”

      The attack wasn’t huge – unlike this week’s record-breaking 1.35Tbps attack on GitHub – and it wasn’t using a method that is exclusive to IPv6, but it was sufficiently unusual and worrying to flag to the rest of his team.

    • Shadow Brokers the reason why Kaspersky Lab is in the US doghouse

      At times, it does not pay to be the brightest kid on the block. But Kaspersky Lab, which has been in forefront of A-V research for some time, would have got away even with this, had it not been for a catastrophic leak of Windows vulnerabilities crafted by the NSA via a group that has called itself the Shadow Brokers.

    • 1.35Tbps: GitHub Faced World’s Biggest Ever DDoS Attack

      Just recently, GitHub, the most famous code sharing and hosting platform, faced the world’s most powerful DDoS attack. As per GitHub, the website was unavailable for about 5 minutes (17:21 to 17:26 UTC) on February 28th as a result of this massive torrent of 1.2 Tbps traffic targetting the site all at once.

    • SgxSpectre Exploits Recent Intel CPU Flaw And Leaks “Enclave” Secrets
    • Powerful New DDoS Method Adds Extortion

      Memcached communicates using the User Datagram Protocol or UDP, which allows communications without any authentication — pretty much anyone or anything can talk to it and request data from it.

      Because memcached doesn’t support authentication, an attacker can “spoof” or fake the Internet address of the machine making that request so that the memcached servers responding to the request all respond to the spoofed address — the intended target of the DDoS attack.

      Worse yet, memcached has a unique ability to take a small amount of attack traffic and amplify it into a much bigger threat. Most popular DDoS tactics that abuse UDP connections can amplify the attack traffic 10 or 20 times — allowing, for example a 1 mb file request to generate a response that includes between 10mb and 20mb of traffic.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • After Parkland, Students Across the Country Are Walking Out in Solidarity
    • Parkland Survivor Morgan Williams Called Out Donald Trump for Using His Hospital Visit as a Photo Op

      “Don’t you f*cking dare use a photo of one of my best friends for your benefit,” Morgan said in a retweet of The Hill’s coverage of the story. “If you truly cared, maybe you would have stayed at the hospital longer than 20 minutes.”

    • Plano parents whose sons joined ISIS are sentenced to prison for lying to federal agents

      Sumaiya Ali was sentenced to 30 months in prison, while her husband, Mohommad Hasnain Ali, was sentenced to 12 months plus one day. Both paid a $5,000 fine and will serve three years of supervised release after prison.

    • Al-Shabaab plundering starving Somali villages of cash and children

      Intelligence documents, transcripts of interrogations with recent defectors and interviews conducted by the Guardian with inhabitants of areas in the swath of central and southern Somalia controlled by al-Shabaab have shone a light on the severity of its harsh rule – but also revealed significant support in some areas.

      Systematic human rights abuses on a par with those committed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are being conducted by the al-Qaida-affiliated Islamist militants as the west largely looks away because most analysts do not see the group as posing a threat to Europe, the UK or the US.

    • ISIS Tells Muslims to Kidnap and Murder Christians in Russian-Occupied Areas
    • Turkey summons Dutch charge d’affaires over Armenian ‘genocide’ motions

      Turkey summoned the Dutch charge d‘affaires to Ankara on Saturday to express its unhappiness with a pair of proposed bills that would see the Netherlands recognize as genocide the 1915 killing of as many as 1.5 million Armenians.

    • Army says troops being sent to Saudi Arabia

      Saudi Arabia has been demanding deployment of Pakistani troops since the start of the Yemen conflict in 2015, but Pakistan has been struggling to evade the demand despite a unanimously adopted parliamentary resolution affirming the country’s “neutrality” in the conflict.

    • Russia Shooting: ISIS claimed deadly attack on church in Dagestan, five killed

      The small republic in the Caucasus mountains borders Chechnya, where Moscow has led two wars against separatists and radical religious groups since the 1991 Soviet collapse and which has seen a large number of people join Islamic State.

      Russian news agencies said the attack occurred as churchgoers celebrated Maslenitsa, a Christian holiday marking the last day before Lent according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar.

    • Man, sons dump headless body of landlord in river
    • Hindu Women Molested & Assaulted by Muslim Youth in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan – 3 Injured

      A group of Hindu women on their way to perform Chak Pujan, a pre-marriage ritual, were molested & assaulted by a group of Muslims who allegedly objected to music being played as the procession was crossing a mosque, Patrika has reported.

    • Minya Martyrs Church opens in memory of 21 Copts beheaded in Libya

      20 of the Coptic martyrs had once been residents in Minya’s Samalut and Mattay villages, before they were kidnapped by militants in January 2015. A republican decree was subsequently issued in 2015 to open a church in their memory.

    • Iraq’s reconstruction after ISIL defeat to cost $88 bln

      Rebuilding Iraq after three years of war with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) will cost $88.2 billion, with housing a particularly urgent priority, Iraqi officials told an international conference on Feb.12

    • Infidel Women: Spoils of War

      To put it differently, all the Hollywood stars, militant feminists and social-justice warriors who are forever raging against “sexism” in the West — but who have nothing to say about Islam’s female victims — are not “defenders of women’s rights,” but “useful idiots” dedicated to subverting Western civilization no less than the terrorists they have been apologizing and covering for.

    • Stockholm attacker may use trial to spread propaganda, experts warn

      Rakhmat Akilov, who has has confessed to driving the truck in the April 2017 attack that killed five and injured many others in central Stockholm, will use his upcoming testimony to spread Isis propaganda, legal experts warned on Saturday.

    • Finally, a Likely Explanation for the “Sonic Weapon” Used at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba

      Last August, reports emerged that U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Cuba had suffered a host of mysterious ailments. Speculation soon arose that a high-frequency sonic weapon was to blame. Acoustics experts, however, were quick to point out the unlikeliness of such an attack. Among other things, ultrasonic frequencies—from 20 to 200 kilohertz—don’t propagate well in air and don’t cause the ear pain, headache, dizziness, and other symptoms reported in Cuba. Also, some victims recalled hearing high-pitched sounds, whereas ultrasound is inaudible to humans.

      The mystery deepened in October, when the Associated Press (AP) released a 6-second audio clip, reportedly a recording of what U.S. embassy staff heard. The chirping tones, centered around 7 kHz, were indeed audible, but they didn’t suggest any kind of weapon.

    • Florida lawmakers declare porn a ‘health risk’ but block assault rifle ban
    • ‘They Put Lethal Weapons Into the Hands of 13-Year-Olds’

      In the wake of lethal gun violence like that in Parkland, Florida, we talk about the specific details of this shooting and this killer, and we talk about the US culture of violence: imperialist, domestic, statutory. Sometimes overlooked are what you might call the “bridges” between these things.

      What are some of the mechanisms that convey ideas, about the rightness of violence and the value of weapons, to individuals like the 19-year-old who killed 14 of his former classmates, two staff members and a teacher? The young man was a member of the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the high school before he was expelled. He was wearing his JROTC shirt when he carried out the attack. Our guest says, whatever the role here, the presence of military recruiters in high schools around the country calls out for challenge.

    • Saudi Arabia replaces military commanders in late-night reshuffle
    • Municipality approves Terrafame uranium extraction

      Terrafame, the state-owned firm now running the mine that previously went bankrupt under the Talvivaara name, has taken a step towards getting official approval for its plans to extract uranium.

    • All Fire and Fury in Ukraine

      The still decidedly volatile situation in Ukraine – resulting from another in a long line of U.S.-inspired regime changes that have done destabilized the geopolitical landscape over the past few decades – is worth revisiting for a number of reasons. With the fourth anniversary of the coup just passed, the sudden, shock passing of veteran investigative journalist Robert Parry and Consortium News founder/editor also affords even greater impetus for doing so. This is especially given his incisive body of reportage on the crisis since 2014; the larger issue of America’s worsening relationship with Russia; and the geopolitical implications going forward of these developments. Australian blogger Greg Maybury reports.

    • Why Putin’s Latest Weapons Claims Should Scare Us

      Don’t be afraid that he has any intention of using them. Don’t even be afraid that most of the weapons he demonstrated through animated simulations are operational.

      Be afraid, rather, that armchair Cold Warriors in the United States will shamelessly exploit Putin’s speech to justify billions—no, trillions—of dollars in needless spending on a pointless nuclear arms race.

      Achieving their agenda was made easier by media coverage of the speech, which reported that Putin “threatened the West” (New York Times) and “represented an escalated level of martial rhetoric even by his pugnacious standards” (Washington Post).

      Putin in fact explicitly and repeatedly emphasized that his claimed new weapons are not offensive, but rather designed to maintain Russia’s nuclear deterrent in the face of growing U.S. anti-missile systems.

    • How ‘Operation Merlin’ Poisoned U.S. Intelligence on Iran

      Jeffrey Sterling, the case officer for the CIA’s covert “Operation Merlin,” who was convicted in May 2015 for allegedly revealing details of that operation to James Risen of the New York Times, was released from prison in January after serving more than two years of a 42-month sentence. He had been tried and convicted on the premise that the revelation of the operation had harmed U.S. security.

    • Putin Claims Strategic Parity, Respect

      Vladimir Putin’s announcement of new weapons systems to achieve nuclear parity was the result of the erosion arms control regimes, such as the ill-advised U.S. withdrawal from the ABM treaty in 2002, Ray McGovern explains.

    • The ignored war within: America’s addiction to violence starts young
    • Putin’s Ultimatum Is The Next Stage Of The War
    • Windows blown out in explosion at home in southern Sweden

      The man who lives at the building was not home at the time of the blast, but his car had previously exploded on New Year’s Eve, one of his colleagues at the emergency services in Skåne told SVT.

    • Is Putin’s new nuclear systems source of mysterious radioactivity in the air?

      Flexing his nuclear muscles like never before, the Russian President in his annual state-of-the-nation speech presented two new nuclear-powered delivering systems for warheads.

      Several times over the last two years, tiny small traces of radioactive iodine-131 have been measured in Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries. National radiation agencies have been unable to direct the source of release, speculating in everything from leakages at a medical isotope production facility to leakages from operative nuclear reactors.

      In Norway and Finland, radioactive isotopes were discovered at monitoring stations in January and March last year, as well as in January and February this year. The first cloud of radioactivity last year was first detected at Svanhovd air filter station on Norway’s border to Russia in the north, but spread over most of Europe south to France and Spain over the following two weeks.

    • Ex-NSA Official: North Korea Funding Nuclear Program with Cryptocurrency

      North Korea remains unsurprisingly persistent with its nuclear program in the face of new US sanctions — and one former top NSA official claims cryptocurrencies are to blame.

    • More than 100 girls missing after raid on Nigerian school, father says

      More than 100 girls are missing after suspected Boko Haram militants attacked their school in northeastern Nigeria Monday night, according the father of one of those missing.

      Bashir Manzo told CNN that his daughter Fatima was among at least 104 schoolgirls unaccounted for after the raid on the Government Girls Science Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe.

    • Nigerian government reveals names of 110 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram

      The Nigerian government has released the names of the 110 missing girls, some as young as 11 years old, who have not been seen since a raid on their school in Dapchi last week.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Using mosquito nets for fishing potential threat to both humans and nature

      Mosquito nets distributed to combat malaria are often used for fishing instead, impacting fish populations and human health in developing countries.

      The first-ever global assessment of mosquito net fishing (MNF), published today in the journal PLOS ONE, reveals full scale of the practice and calls for collaborative solutions.

      One of the major impacts of MNF is that it traps young fish, which affects the growth of future stock. This can undermine fisheries management efforts and impact communities that depend on fish as their main source of food.

    • Arctic temperatures surge in the dead of winter

      In the past, it was not unusual for the Arctic to see days where temperatures would peak above minus 10 C (14 F), but what we are seeing now is different. Those peaks are becoming more frequent and long-lasting.

      More worryingly, the warming weather pattern is producing a circular affect.

    • Wastewater injections set off a Kansas earthquake binge

      In the past decade, Oklahoma has turned heads as it has joined the list of places where earthquake insurance is a prudent investment. The sudden uptick in seismic activity is due to injections of foul wastewater into deep disposal wells—triggering what are known as “human-induced earthquakes.”

    • Embattled company plagiarized bid for Puerto Rico hot meal contract, senators say

      Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Gary Peters of Michigan say that Tribute Contracting LLC — which lost its contract in October after just 20 days because it had delivered only 50,000 of the 30 million meals promised — lifted paragraphs from two other companies related to logistics and delivery. The senators sent the letter through their spots on the Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, on which McCaskill is the top Democrat.

      According to the letter dated Thursday to FEMA administrator Brock Long, Tribute had no experience in delivery contracts of this scale, and a history of canceled federal contracts that were smaller than the one in Puerto Rico. The senators also accuse Tribute of lying about its relationship with a logistics company.

    • Britain and Europe must ban palm oil in biofuel to save forests, EU parliament told

      The pushback has been strong, particularly in south-east Asia, the origin of 90% of the world’s palm oil exports, which is used in hundreds of supermarket products. Palm oil can also be blended with diesel to power engines, which is what the ban would halt.


      But indigenous and other communities who are negatively affected by the plantations urge the EU to push ahead with the ban and to go further by tightening other supply chain controls to prevent damage to their land, rights and environment.

    • Scientists tracked commercial fishing in real-time and found over half the world’s oceans fished

      Researchers found that over half the world’s oceans, 55%, is now being industrially fished. That is around four times the land area that is covered by agriculture. The new research also found that in 2016, 70,000 ships of the global fishing fleet travelled across 460 km, almost the same as travelling to the moon and back to Earth 600 times.


      The researchers believe that the total area of the world’s oceans being fished may actually be higher than the estimated 55%. This is because the research did not include some areas with poor satellite coverage.

    • The flowers that give us chocolate are ridiculously hard to pollinate

      Those flowers make nothing easy. Each petal curves into a tiny hood that fits down around the male, pollen-making structure. A honeybee trying to reach the pollen would be a useless, giant blimp. Instead, flies not much bigger than a poppy seed, in the biting midge subfamily Forcipomyiinae, crawl up into the hoods and do — something.

      But what? The flower offers no nectar for the midges to collect. So far, researchers haven’t even demonstrated that there’s an odor luring in the midges. Some biologists have mused that red spikes on the flowers offer nutritious nibbling for midges, but Kearney knows of no tests of this notion.

    • Judge finds written attack on climate scientist too ludicrous to be libel

      But the judge also decided that the derogatory statements aimed more clearly at Weaver failed to meet the legal standard for defamation. His reason? No one could take them seriously. Citing a list of careless inaccuracies in Ball’s article, the judge said it lacked “a sufficient air of credibility to make them believable and therefore potentially defamatory.”

    • Mich. utility to phase out electricity production by coal by 2040

      Consumers Energy told The Associated Press it will phase out electricity production from coal over the next 20 years in an effort to cut emissions that cause global warming.

    • Dramatic decline in Borneo’s orangutan population as 150,000 lost in 16 years

      While the steepest percentage losses occurred in regions where the forest has been cut down to make way for palm oil and acacia plantations, more animals were killed by hunters who ventured into the forest, or by farm workers when the apes encroached on agricultural land, a study found.

      Researchers estimate that the number of orangutans left on Borneo now stands at between 70,000 and 100,000, meaning the population more than halved over the study period which ran from 1999 to 2015. Without fresh efforts to protect the animals, the numbers could fall at least another 45,000 in the next 35 years, the conservationists predict. The real decline could be worse, because the prediction is based only on habitat loss, and does not include killings.

    • After rising for 100 years, electricity demand is flat. Utilities are freaking out.

      The US electricity sector is in a period of unprecedented change and turmoil. Renewable energy prices are falling like crazy. Natural gas production continues its extraordinary surge. Coal, the golden child of the current administration, is headed down the tubes.

      In all that bedlam, it’s easy to lose sight of an equally important (if less sexy) trend: Demand for electricity is stagnant.

    • Dramatic declines in snowpack in the western US

      Mountain snowpack stores a significant quantity of water in the western US, accumulating during the wet season and melting during the dry summers and supplying much of the water used for irrigated agriculture, and municipal and industrial uses. Updating our earlier work published in 2005, we find that with 14 additional years of data, over 90% of snow monitoring sites with long records across the western US now show declines, of which 33% are significant (vs. 5% expected by chance) and 2% are significant and positive (vs. 5% expected by chance). Declining trends are observed across all months, states, and climates, but are largest in spring, in the Pacific states, and in locations with mild winter climate. We corroborate and extend these observations using a gridded hydrology model, which also allows a robust estimate of total western snowpack and its decline. We find a large increase in the fraction of locations that posted decreasing trends, and averaged across the western US, the decline in average April 1 snow water equivalent since mid-century is roughly 15–30% or 25–50 km3, comparable in volume to the West’s largest man-made reservoir, Lake Mead.

    • 1.5 million penguins discovered on remote Antarctic islands

      A thriving “hotspot” of 1.5 million Adelie penguins, a species fast declining in parts of the world, has been discovered on remote islands off the Antarctic Peninsula, surprised scientists said Friday.

      The first bird census of the Danger Islands unearthed over 750,000 Adelie breeding pairs, more than the rest of the area combined, the team reported in the journal Scientific Reports.

    • Rumble in the jungle: mother bear fights off Indian tiger

      Tourists on a wildlife safari in central India were treated to a rare and vicious fight for survival between a sloth bear defending its young and a huge Bengal tiger.

      A tour guide in Maharashtra was able to capture on film the ferocious battle between the jungle giants. The tour guide had a ringside seat to the 15-minute brawl as the mother fought off the predator.

      Her instincts kicked into gear as the male tiger stalked her cub in Tadoba National Park, igniting a rarely seen flare of aggression from the shaggy black bears not known for being territorial.

  • Finance
    • The Supreme Court Case That Could Give Tech Giants More Power

      Big tech platforms — Amazon, Facebook, Google — control a large and growing share of our commerce and communications, and the scope and degree of their dominance poses real hazards. A bipartisan consensus has formed around this idea. Senator Elizabeth Warren has charged tech giants with using their heft to “snuff out competition,” and even Senator Ted Cruz — usually a foe of government regulation — recently warned of their “unprecedented” size and power. While the potential tools for redressing the harms vary, a growing chorus is calling for the use of antitrust law.

      But the decision in a case currently before the Supreme Court could block off that path, by effectively shielding big tech platforms from serious antitrust scrutiny. On Monday the Court heard Ohio v. American Express, a case centering on a technical but critical question about how to analyze harmful conduct by firms that serve multiple groups of users. Though the case concerns the credit card industry, it could have sweeping ramifications for the way in which antitrust law gets applied generally, especially with regards to the tech giants.

    • Uber and Lyft drivers’ median hourly wage is just $3.37, report finds

      Researchers did an analysis of vehicle cost data and a survey of more than 1,100 drivers for the ride-hailing companies for the paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research. The report – which factored in insurance, maintenance, repairs, fuel and other costs – found that 30% of drivers are losing money on the job and that 74% earn less than the minimum wage in their states.

    • Study: Most Uber, Lyft drivers paid under minimum wage

      Uber and Lyft drivers make a median $3.37 an hour before taxes, according to a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, less than the federal minimum wage.

      According to the research, 30 percent of drivers actually lose money from Uber and Lyft when the costs of maintenance and other expenses for their cars are factored in.

    • The Role of Luck in Life Success Is Far Greater Than We Realized

      What does it take to succeed? What are the secrets of the most successful people? Judging by the popularity of magazines such as Success, Forbes, Inc., and Entrepreneur, there is no shortage of interest in these questions. There is a deep underlying assumption, however, that we can learn from them because it’s their personal characteristics–such as talent, skill, mental toughness, hard work, tenacity, optimism, growth mindset, and emotional intelligence– that got them where they are today. This assumption doesn’t only underlie success magazines, but also how we distribute resources in society, from work opportunities to fame to government grants to public policy decisions. We tend to give out resources to those who have a past history of success, and tend to ignore those who have been unsuccessful, assuming that the most successful are also the most competent.

    • Tech Mogul Gets $12 Billion Richer Just by Leaving New York for China

      Zhou Hongyi did just that, relocating his online security firm to China and merging it into a shell company, which soared as much as 550 percent since he announced the plan in November. Qihoo 360 Technology Co. delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in July 2016 and began trading Wednesday in Shanghai as 360 Security Technology Inc. The move boosted Zhou’s net worth to $13.6 billion, making him China’s 12th-richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

    • Chinese government planning $31.5bn in investments to make China a global player in semiconductors

      The Chinese government is planning a large-scale assault on the semiconductor industry, with ambitions to direct investment of some 200 billion yuan – $31.5 billion – into Chinese chip makers.

      That’s according to Bloomberg, which claims that the investments are intended to make China a leader in the global semiconductor industry.

      Bloomberg’s sources claim that the China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund Co is currently in talks with government officials to raise money.

    • China spent an estimated $279 billion on R&D last year

      China’s total spending on research and development is estimated to have hit 1.76 trillion yuan ($279 billion) last year — a year-on-year increase of 14 percent, China’s science minister said on Monday.

    • Goodbye Copycat: China Returns to Its Innovation Roots

      China has long been considered the copycat nation of the world. For generations, its goal was not to build on what the competition has done, but rather play catch-up by piggybacking on other people’s technological advances and underpricing the competition. For years, Chinese copycat knockoff products have flooded western markets.

      This raised concerns about brand infringement and intellectual property theft. The Chinese government has failed to protect intellectual property rights. To get a sense of the scale of this, consider the fact that China is home to fake Apple stores filled with employees who think they work for the U.S. company.

    • Is Amazon Too Big to Tax?

      This year, like every other year, is shaping up to be a triumphant one for Amazon. It is on the cusp of becoming the first trillion dollar company ever. In the coming months it will announce the opening of a second headquarters—and likely bank billions in tax breaks and other incentives from the lucky city it chooses to grace with its presence. The company’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos will continue to be the richest person in the history of the world. Amazon will continue to grow at a rapid clip, gobbling up e-commerce market share and posting staggering revenues. It will even post profits. And it will pay next to nothing, and possibly nothing at all, in federal taxes.

    • The biggest company you may not know all that much about

      It’s easy for brands to have their stories obscured by the mountain of press given to behemoths like Inc., UPS Inc., FedEx Corp., Walmart Inc., and Alibaba. But there’s a company not especially well known outside its home market that appears to have put everything together in such a way that it may come to dominate everyone.

      Its name is Based in Beijing, it has, in the 14 years since it launched its e-commerce site, developed and executed such a formidable model that it could easily threaten the market share of any rival it chooses to take on. For now, JD remains China-centric, although it is expanding into Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. It has no plans at this time to take on Amazon or anyone else in the domestic U.S. market. Most of its shares are in public hands, though Chinese firm Tencent, which runs the ubiquitous “WeChat” Chinese messaging platform, owns 20 percent, and Walmart owns 10 percent.

    • EU Threatens Iconic U.S. Brands After Trump Opens Door to Trade War

      President Donald Trump set the stage for a trade war after slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, daring other countries to retaliate and leading the European Union to warn that it would target iconic American brands.

      Hours after Trump tweeted that “trade wars are good, and easy to win,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the bloc is prepared to respond forcefully by targeting imports of Harley-Davidson Inc. motorbikes, Levi Strauss & Co. jeans and bourbon whiskey from the U.S.

    • Someone tell Trump the trade war is over. China won

      Nine years ago it was car tyres followed by chicken feet. Now it’s washing machines and solar panels followed by sorghum. Aluminium and steel may soon be tossed in the mix.

      The familiar trade skirmishes between the United States and China usually end with a whimper. But American presidents have traditionally been like the proverbial cartoon character who gets dropped off a cliff, run over with a steam roller and blown up with dynamite; he gets up, arches an angry eyebrow and declares: “Next time, I’m going to get really mad!”

    • Biss throws himself under the bus answering gov debate question on CTA pass

      State Sen. Daniel Biss – who promises to be the “Middle Class Governor” in ads running throughout the state — endured a “The Price is Right” question Thursday night at a gubernatorial forum in Chicago.

      And he didn’t quite pass the test.

      Biss, D-Evanston, was asked by WBEZ reporter Dave McKinney what the full price of a monthly CTA pass is during a lightning round of questions to test the six Democratic candidates on their knowledge of prices regular voters pay in everyday expenditures.

      “This campaign has been framed as a battle for the heart of middle and low-income voters, and since that’s the case, we’re going to do a simple test to see how connected each of you is to average Illinoisans,” McKinney said.

    • How Did America Go Bankrupt? Slowly, At First, Then All At Once!!!

      Typically, the metrics of total debt or federal debt divided by GDP (Gross Domestic Product or the total value of goods produced and services provided in the US annually) are used (chart below). Still, that’s a bit ethereal to most folks.

      So, I thought I’d make this simpler. The chart below shows federal debt (red line) versus total full time employees (blue line) since 1970. Clearly, debt has surged since 2000 and particularly since 2008 versus decelerating net full time jobs growth. The number of full time employees is economically critical as, generally speaking, only these jobs offer the means to be a home buyer or build savings and wealth in a consumer driven economy. Part time employment generally offers only subsistence level earnings.

    • Al Rayan debuts sharia-compliant bond backed by UK mortgages
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Why Americans are such easy targets for [astroturfers] and bots

      But it isn’t just our knowledge base that’s the problem; it’s the fact that the United States has effectively abandoned the notion that investing in education is critical for the future of our nation.

    • Facebook to End News Feed Experiment in 6 Countries That Magnified Fake News

      News organizations in the countries — Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Serbia — had said they were blindsided by the Facebook experiment when it began in October and complained that it had led to a surprising rise in misinformation.

    • Facebook is not getting any bigger in the United States

      It’s starting to feel official: Facebook’s U.S. audience is as big as it’s going to get.

      Facebook is massive in this country. More than two-thirds of Americans, specifically 68 percent, use the service, according to new research from Pew Research Center.

    • How long does China’s President Xi Jinping plan to hold power? Here’s the magic number

      As overseas media and analysts scramble to assess the implications and query the development, the answer to one of the biggest questions can in fact be inferred from his landmark marathon speech at the Communist Party’s 19th congress – a speech that gave him a stronger mandate for his second term as the party chief. On October 18, when Xi strode to the podium of the Great Hall of the People and delivered the extraordinarily long address that lasted nearly 3½ hours, he laid out an ambitious vision for the next 30 years. While his speech of more than 34,000 words was littered with landmark goals, the magic number was 2035 – the year Xi has promised China will basically achieve socialist modernisation, 15 years ahead of the schedule set by late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping back in the 1980s.

    • What is the Einstein visa? And how did Melania Trump get one?

      Melania Trump obtained US citizenship on a visa reserved for immigrants with “extraordinary ability” and “sustained national and international acclaim”, according to a report in the Washington Post.
      Nicknamed the “Einstein Visa”, the EB-1 is in theory reserved for people who are highly acclaimed in their field – the government cites Pulitzer, Oscar, and Olympic winners as examples – as well as respected academic researchers and multinational executives.
      Mrs Trump began applying for the visa in 2000, when she was Melania Knauss, a Slovenian model working in New York and dating Donald Trump. She was approved in 2001, one of just five people from Slovenia to win the coveted visa that year, according to the Post.
      Becoming a citizen in 2006 gave her the right to sponsor her parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, who are now in the US and in the process of applying for citizenship.
      The reports of how Mrs Trump obtained her EB-1 visa will rankle with some, at a time when her husband is railing against immigrants and attempting to scrap the right of new citizens to sponsor family members. And questions have been raised about her suitability for the extraordinary ability category.

    • Will Al Jazeera Air The Lobby Before AIPAC Meets?

      The Israel lobby has a lot of levers it can push and pull to curry favorable news coverage from media organizations. These range from denying access to the limited pool of top-tier pundits and Israeli government officials, to crippling economic boycotts. This power is visible in the battle to punish and shutter Al Jazeera, the Qatari state-funded news organization.

      Al Jazeera’s undercover investigative series The Lobby stunned both U.K. and US viewers last year. The product of a six-month 2016 undercover investigation, the four-part series revealed the Israeli embassy’s close guidance of allegedly “independent” pro-Israel UK domestic organizations, unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism lodged against Labour Party members, and coordinated efforts to take down lawmakers deemed hostile to Israel. The series led to the dismissal of Shai Masot, a shadowy Israeli embassy official profiled in part four of the series, and apologies from the Israeli embassy.

    • Left-wing, right-wing: The case for realignment of political labels
    • Trump’s transubstantiation of falsehood into truth
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Comcast’s Protected Browsing Blocks TorrentFreak as “Suspicious” Site

      Website blocking is a common tool for copyright holders to keep people away from pirate sites. While these measures are often mandated by court order, ISPs also offer voluntary blocking tools, to prevent subscribers from accessing dangerous sites. Comcast’s Xfinity, for example, offers “protected browsing” which, ironically, will prevent users from reading this article.

    • Good Night, and Good Luck: Freedom of speech in Sweden

      Another change in the Basic Laws of Sweden, currently being prepared for the next term of office, is SOU 2017:70, a new law on foreign espionage. In this law, which is primarily aimed at news reporting on military or police operations impacting Sweden’s relationship with a foreign power, the government reserves the right to impose extensive coercive measures even if there is merely suspicion that a journalist intends to write an article for publication. Several elements of whistleblower protection are rescinded and the law is written in such a way that, in practice, all relationships that Sweden maintains with states or intergovernmental organizations affected by a news report are covered if it can be accommodated within the term “Peace and Security.” Without a doubt, reporting on the Swedish aid industry is included in this term. The enforcement measures that the government can use against journalists are:

      Phone surveillance

      Data surveillance

      Placing trojans inside the suspected journalist’s devices

      Placing hidden cameras in vehicles, homes and offices used by the suspected journalist

      Placing hidden microphones in vehicles, homes and offices used by the suspected journalist

      These enforcement measures will be available to prosecutors and police already at the suspicion of the individual journalist working on an article that may be published. Just the suspicion will suffice.

    • Swedenstan: Näthats behind ‘witch-hunt’ arrests of people expressing political opinions

      The number of Swedish citizens prosecuted and convicted of writing posts about immigrants on Facebook has increased significantly over the past year. Behind a large part of the reports and prosecutions is an organization called Näthats.

    • Pornhub’s owner reveals its age verification tool for the UK
    • How ‘sex trafficking’ just opened the censorship floodgates

      That’s because its backers and proponents are waging an effective disinformation campaign. They’re saying it will help sex trafficking victims when it plainly won’t. They have literally combined sex work and sex trafficking under a single, catch-all umbrella. And that includes all the at-risk populations represented by sex workers across the divides of race, gender, orientation, and social class.

    • House overwhelmingly passes a bill that conflates sex work and sex trafficking

      On Tuesday, the House voted 388-25 in favor of a bill that advocates say conflates sex trafficking and sex work, and would result in more dangerous conditions for sex workers. Eleven Democrats and 14 Republicans voted no, with 18 abstentions.

    • Suspect from Shahdara blasphemy case in critical condition after mysterious fall

      A man suspected to have been involved in the Shahdara blasphemy case, which erupted earlier this week is fighting for his life after allegedly having “fallen off” the fourth floor of the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Punjab headquarters building, during an investigation.

    • Twitter asks for help fixing its toxicity problem

      Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted today that the company isn’t proud of how some have taken advantage of its service, specifically calling out troll armies, misinformation campaigns and bots. And he added that Twitter has been accused of apathy, censorship and political bias as it has attempted to fix [sic] its problems.

    • Can you hear me?

      The lack of silence is paradoxically a silencing force, because it ensures that nobody is heard above the din. The ability of debates to smother any feedback is such that it is effectively becoming another censor that prevents meaningful or constructive discussion on any topic. Democratic debates are thus ironically becoming the most effective ways to throttle a sustained discussion on topics which can prove inconvenient to the power centres.

    • EC will give Facebook, Google et al one hour to remove illegal content, or else

      In a bid to “monitor progress in tackling illegal content online”, the EC recommended the new set of operational measures on Thursday, accompanied by necessary safeguards, to be taken by companies and Member State.

      Any tech company that is responsible for people posting content online will have three months from now to report back to the EU on what they were doing to meet the new targets it has set.

    • Rightsholders & Belgian ISPs Cooperate to Block 450 ‘Pirate’ Domains

      Rightsholders and ISPs in Belgium have agreed to present a list of 450 domains to a judge alongside allegations they facilitate illegal downloading. With the ISPs keen to assist but without accepting any liability, it appears that the collaborative process will lead to the blocking of the domains while avoiding complex and costly legal proceedings.

    • Letters: Neither censorship nor hate is acceptable

      David Haskell’s recent piece misrepresents positions taken by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).

      The NCCM in no way seeks to shield the Islamic faith, or any other belief system, from criticism. Moreover, the NCCM didn’t endorse the initial definition of Islamophobia used by the Toronto District School Board in its educator’s guidebook. In fact, our organization advised that the definition used by the Ontario Human Rights Commission should be adopted, and referenced this very definition in our testimony before the heritage committee.

      Even a cursory examination of the Islamic tradition demonstrates Muslims themselves have a long history of self-critique and debate about their faith. Criticism of faith or religious practices is expected, and goes to the heart of our constitutional right to freedom of expression that we all must enjoy and safeguard.

    • Lantern Festival Riddles Outwit and Enrage Chinese Censorship Authorities

      The above poem was circulated on one of my WeChat groups during the Lantern Festival on March 2, 2018, and was immediately viewed as a Lantern Riddle for people to decode. Everyone in the group knows that it is a mockery of the recent constitutional amendment proposal put forward by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regarding the abolition of the two-term limit on the state’s presidency.

      Of course, no one posts the answer, knowing that it would trigger the webcensor. They just give a thumbs up. This Lantern riddle is just one of the many examples of Chinese netizens’ recent attempts to circumvent censorship on the constitutional amendment. Here’s how: The answer to the riddle is a new term — “Xi forever” (習到永遠) — which, ever since the constitutional amendment proposal was made public on February 25, 2018, replaces the common expression of “Forever and ever” (直到永遠).

      The announcement was made on February 25. The Central Committee of the CCP suggested deleting a line from the country’s constitution which states that the president and vice-president “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms”. The proposal would pave the way for Chinese President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely.

    • The internet cannot be easily censored

      With no end in sight to the rule of the ever-more-autocratic Xi Jinping, China’s efforts to command and control the thought of its people have shifted into overdrive. Online, censorship is reaching what appear to be terrifying new heights. But a calmer view strongly suggests that the internet is not nearly as easy to bring to heel as Beijing — or many Americans — believe.

      The news is this: online censors have recently cracked down on everything from George Orwell’s Animal Farm to — literally — the letter N. Sino Weibo, equivalent to Twitter in China, now blocks users from searching for such terms as “personality cult,” “disagree,” and, perhaps most ominously of all, “emigrate.”

    • A ‘political hit job’? Why the alt-right is accusing big tech of censorship

      In January, Charles C “Chuck” Johnson filed a suit contesting his ban from Twitter back in May 2015.

      Johnson, an American rightwing provocateur, has a long history of smearing and hunting political opponents. He runs a scurrilous news site, GotNews, and another that crowdsources bounties for damaging information on his self-selected foes. He was eighty-sixed from Twitter following outrage from other users after a tweet appealing for crowdsourcing to “take out” Black Lives Matter activist, DeRay McKesson.

      It was an early example of Twitter appearing to accede to user pressure in scrubbing rightwing accounts.

    • Kim Dotcom proposes Twitter alternative over ‘censorship of Seth Rich tweets’

      Kim Dotcom has called on Twitter to stop ‘censoring’ tweets, saying he’ll create an alternative to the social network if it continues. Dotcom told RT he believes Twitter is targeting tweets about late DNC staffer Seth Rich.

      Tweeting early Saturday, the Megaupload founder urged Twitter’s Jack Dorsey to “stop messing with our free speech” and warning that if Dotcom creates an alternative platform, “Twitter could be toast within a year”.

    • After netizens criticized Xi Jinping, China banned a Quora-like app for not censoring enough content

      Local China Q&A app Zhihu has been temporarily banned from app stores following intense censorship in China over the country’s plan to scrap presidential term limits.

      The Quora-like app ran afoul of the Beijing Cyberspace Administration for “lax supervision and the spread of illegal information” and was ordered to be removed from app stores for seven days.

      The administration did not clarify what the illegal information was. However, last week censorship flared up across popular platforms Weibo and WeChat as netizens criticized Xi Jinping’s plan to rule the country indefinitely. Dozens of words were censored, including, at times, Xi’s name and even the letter ‘N.’

    • The Gray Market: Why Art Censorship Is Built Into Facebook’s DNA (and Other Insights)

      On Tuesday, The Art Newspaper reported that, in late December, Facebook censored an Italian user’s personal post featuring an image of the Venus of Willendorf, one of art history’s oldest and best-known depictions of the nude female form. The petite limestone sculpture dates from the Paleolithic period and has been the defining work held by Vienna’s Naturhistorisches Museum since its discovery in the nearby town of Willendorf during a 1908 dig headed by the institution’s archaeologists.

      The following day, the museum lashed out at Facebook by releasing an official statement that reads in part, “an archaeological object, especially such an iconic one, should not be banned from Facebook because of ‘nudity,’ as no artwork should be.”

      By Thursday, a spokesperson for the social media titan apologized for the incident, saying that its community standards forbidding nudes contain “an exception for statues, which is why the post should have been approved.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Brexit and data protection

      Anyway, much of the information here comes from the Open Rights Group, albeit the editorialising is mine. Full disclosure: I’ve just stepped down from the Board of ORG and am still on their advisory list. ORG is compiling information relevant to yesterday’s speech here.

    • Privacy Risks with Facebook’s PII-based Targeting: Auditing a Data Broker’s Advertising Interface

      Recently, most advertising platforms have begun allowing advertisers to target users directly by uploading the personal information of the users who they wish to advertise to (e.g., their names, email addresses, phone numbers, etc.); these services are often known as custom audiences.


      There has been surprisingly little academic study of custom audiences. The most recent related study by Minkus et al. [23] empirically examined how offline information (such as voter records) could be matched to public Facebook profiles, thereby enabling the inference of features such as the user’s residential address, date and year of birth, and political affiliation. Tucker [33] investigated how users’ perception of control over their personal information affects how likely they are to click on online advertising on Facebook, and found that giving users control over their private information can benefit advertising on Facebook. This implies that users want to control their own data used in online advertising; however, the current privacy settings [8] give users very few options. Even worse, users do not have control over their offline data, which can be used in the custom audiences feature. [...]

    • Which VPN Services Keep You Anonymous in 2018?

      In response to a growing threat of Internet surveillance and censorship, VPN services have surged in popularity in recent years. Encrypting one’s traffic through a VPN connection helps to keep online communications private, but what more does your VPN provider do to keep you anonymous? We take a look at the logging policies and other privacy features of dozens of VPN providers.

    • TCRA launches biometric sim card registration

      Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), yesterday, launched a pilot project for biometric sim card registration that is set to involve six regions.

    • How Canvas Fingerprint Blockers Make You Easily Trackable

      Thought your canvas fingerprint blocker made you incognito? Think again.

    • Dropbox and Google sign a deal for for cross-platform [sic] compatibility

      Dropbox is partnering with Google to bring cross-compatibility with G Suite for the first time.

      This will mean users will be able to use Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slide and Hangouts with Dropbox, instead of Google Drive, if they so wish.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Uzbekistan Releases Journalist After 19 Years in Prison

      You may never have heard of him, but by our count, Ruzimuradov, 64, was one of the world’s longest imprisoned journalists. His crime? Working for an independent newspaper, Erk, or Freedom.

    • How a reporter’s #NoDAPL photo wound up in the Russia investigations

      Never did I imagine a photo I took would be used by Russian [shills] to try to manipulate the pipeline debate. But as all journalists and photographers know, controlling your images once they’re posted online is nearly impossible.

      In reading through the congressional report, one point jumped out at me. Russia’s Internet Research Agency spread posts both attacking the protesters and trying to drum up sympathy for them:

    • A smuggler’s chilling warning

      We are posing as would-be migrants attempting to reach Italy with the help of our “pusherman” — one of an army of brokers who work alongside smugglers on the Nigerian end of the migrant route from Africa to Europe.


      When the migrants fail to pay, they are held in grim living conditions, deprived of food, abused by their captors, and sold as laborers in slave auctions.

    • Here’s the tight wing plan to destroy unions and hinder Democratic fundraising

      That case is Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which will determine whether public-sector unions can collect fees from non-union employees.

      It sounds like a simple and technical issue, but the outcome could change the fate of public-sector unions, the strongest-standing bulwark of labor organizing in a time when many private unions have largely faded.

    • These Cities Aren’t Waiting for the Supreme Court to Decide Whether or Not to Gut Unions

      Today the US Supreme Court will take up a case that may pose the biggest test to the labor movement that we’ve seen in our lifetimes. Janus v. AFSCME, which takes direct aim at the heart of public-sector unions, could make it much harder for working people to organize for better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

    • Christian couple publicly caned in Indonesia’s Banda Aceh for gambling

      The couple were found guilty of violating a jinayat (Islamic bylaw) on gambling. The caning took place outside the Babussalam Mosque in Lampaseh Aceh, Meuraxa.

    • China rights lawyer dies in ‘mysterious’ circumstances, supporters say

      Li was admitted to the No. 81 Military Hospital with a minor stomach ache, but had been otherwise healthy, Fu said, citing a relative of Li’s. He was declared dead hours later from liver complications, according to the activist.

    • China portrays racism as a Western problem

      Chinese officials often try to portray racism as primarily a Western problem. Yet there is a widespread tendency in China to look down on other races, especially black people.

    • How to survive prison: New documentary tackles horrors of wrongful conviction

      Every day, thousands of Americans languish in prison due to wrongful convictions. Advocacy group the Innocence Project estimates that anywhere from 40,000 to over 100,000 people in U.S. prisons have never actually committed a crime. According to the National Registry for Wrongful Convictions, the average time served for the people in the registry is more than nine years.

    • Amarillo man accidentally shot by police speaks out about the shooting

      “There were other people there,” said Garces. “I just took the gun away from him. I got shot. I got the bad part. It’s life.”


      Garces and Blackburn are working with the city to ensure the medical bills are paid, [...]

    • Girls as young as 12 conceived babies: Social worker whistleblower İclal Nergiz

      Asked why they do not report such cases, Nergiz said: “They do not care! And that is the problem. According to their beliefs, it is normal for an underage girl to have a baby. My conservative estimate is that the hospital treated at least 115 underage pregnant girls. Given the fact that some doctors never report such cases to the social services unit, the real figure is much much higher.”

    • Operation Sanctuary review finds adult abuse ‘extensive’

      In the Newcastle case, most of the men were British-born but all came from Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi, Iranian or Turkish communities.

    • Ban private schools from teaching Arabic: Danish People’s Party

      “We don’t have any problems with, for example, Chinese or Hebrew, because Chinese people or Jews do not create parallel societies or integration problems,” the MP said in reference to underprivileged areas given the designation of ‘ghettos’ by the government.

    • Somaliland set to ban FGM but activists fear new law will fall short

      Somaliland has one of the world’s highest rates of FGM, with Unicef estimating that 98% of women aged 15 to 49 in the east African state have undergone the procedure. According to the World Health Organization, FGM is also often performed on girls under the age of 15, resulting in complications that range from bleeding and infection to problems with urination and complications with childbearing.

    • No More Child Genital Mutilation: If You Were A Modern Aztec, We Wouldn’t Let You Sacrifice Somebody’s Baby To The Gods

      Your child is your child, but they are not a coffee mug or a lamp. You don’t own your child. He or she is a person — one who has a right to bodily integrity, to not have others make decisions for him or her to have body parts hacked off for any reason other than medical necessity.

    • Moroccan Imam Sexually Assaults Children in a Mosque

      An imam in the Temara region has been accused of raping six children inside of a mosque. Amid the parents’ outrage and the childrens despair, the authorities have little help to offer.

    • ‘It was madness’: Couple kicked off Emirates flight because woman had period pain
    • My Speech at the Losing Your Religion Conference in Melbourne 10/02/2018

      I hate the niqab. It is one of the most dehumanising and alienating pieces of clothing a woman can wear. It puts a literal barrier between her and the rest of the world. I would beg my mother to let me remove it but she would refuse saying that I was a disappointing her or be cruel and say I would look like a sharmoota or whore.

    • Top Bangladesh sci-fi writer Zafar Iqbal stabbed in head at seminar

      One of Bangladesh’s top writers was stabbed in the back of the head during a seminar in the northern city of Sylhet on Saturday (March 3), police said, the latest in a series of attacks on authors and bloggers.

      Police said Zafar Iqbal, a celebrated secular activist and bestselling science fiction writer, was rushed to hospital in Sylhet after the attack.

    • Malaysia wishes wrong New Year with a barking rooster
    • In long-secular Turkey, sharia is gradually taking over

      Over the past few weeks, Turkish officials have broken with decades of precedent in what is still, at least nominally, a secular republic: they have begun describing the country’s military deployment in Syria as “jihad.”

    • Morocco adopts law on violence against women
    • Iran environmentalist’s suicide in jail challenged

      The 64-year-old Seyed-Emami was the managing director of the Persian Wildlife Foundation, one of Iran’s most important conservationist organisations focused on protecting the country’s biodiversity.

      Last Friday (9 February), prison authorities urgently called the scholar’s wife to inform her that he had taken his own life.

      Family and friends have challenged the official version and do not believe that he committed suicide in his cell.

    • Iranian wrestler who threw match to avoid Israeli banned for 6 months

      The United World Wrestling in a statement on Friday said that Alireza Karimi violated regulations when he intentionally lost to a Russian competitor in the quarter final of the U-23 World Championship in Poland last November.

      Karimi’s coach, Hamidreza Jamshidi, was also banned from the sport for two years for instructing his wrestler to lose so he would not face Israel’s Uri Kalashnikov in the following round.

    • Turkey: View: Slowly but surely, Turkey is becoming the next Pakistan. Just look at these signs
    • France to seal off 1,500 radicalized inmates in prisons

      The French government said on Friday said it would seal off extremists within prisons and open new centres to reintegrate returning jihadists into society as part of a new plan to halt the spread of radical Islam.

    • Death in Beijing

      On a November morning, elite investigators of the Communist Party of China (CPC) arrived at the Beijing home of a People’s Liberation Army General. Zhang Yang — for years one of the top-ranking PLA generals who served on the Central Military Commission (CMC) under former leader Hu Jintao — had for several weeks been questioned by investigators for corruption, although he hadn’t been formally charged. But when the investigators showed up at his Beijing home in November, they found he had hanged himself.

      What is perhaps most surprising about the suicide of General Zhang is that it was by no means rare. Between 2012 and 2017-the first term of Xi Jinping, who in October began his second five-year stint in office after emerging at the 19th Party Congress as China’s tallest leader in decades-158 Chinese officials have committed suicide, according to official figures. Insiders say the actual number may be far higher, considering the officially “natural” deaths of many officials who were being investigated or were under detention.


      According to one of the few official studies into suicides of party officials, more than 243 officials have killed themselves since 2009. According to the Institute of Psychology at CASS, the average number doubled in the period after 2013, to around 40 a year. The number peaked at 59 in 2014, coinciding with the height of the crackdown. The opacity of China’s system means the real number is possibly higher. The study found that of the 243, 140 killed themselves by jumping off buildings, either at their workplace or at home, and 44 hanged themselves. Twenty-six consumed poison, 12 drowned and six cut their wrists. Most were in the 45-55 age group, suggesting they were relatively experienced or senior. Not all were under investigation. Most were male. Only three were female-including a customs director accused of corruption, a director of a foreign affairs department in Anhui province, and an official in northeastern Shandong.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      We hand-picked 10 projects where individual donations can have a direct impact on Internet freedom, underfunded infrastructure and inclusivity.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Protecting And Promoting Copyright Balance In NAFTA

        The ongoing NAFTA renegotiation presents a prime opportunity to move the ball on protecting and promoting general public interest copyright exceptions. All three countries have such exceptions to varying degree. And all three are under threat from an agenda to cabin their use through international law. NAFTA negotiators can and should include the best models from prior international agreements that protect and promote the ability of countries to have general exceptions, writes Professor Sean Flynn. [article updated]

      • California Court Dismisses Copyright Suit Against BBC Over Cosby Documentary Over Lack Of Jurisdiction

        Late last year, we covered a very odd lawsuit brought against the BBC by the production team for The Cosby Show centering around a BBC documentary covering Bill Cosby’s fall from grace in America. Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon used several short clips from The Cosby Show, altogether totaling less than four minutes of run-time, and all of them used to provide context to Cosby’s once-held status as an American public figure in good standing. Despite the BBC distributing the documentary exclusively overseas, production company Casey-Werner filed its suit in California. Whatever the geography around the legal action, we argued at the time that the BBC’s actions were as clear a case of fair use as we’d ever seen.

      • Torrent Seedbox Veterans Bow Out of Changing Market

        The meteoric rise of BitTorrent in the last decade led to an explosion of companies offering so-called ‘seedboxes’, servers which carry out file-sharing from a remote location. Now, however, there are signs that the market might not be as healthy as it was, with long-standing player SeedStuff shutting down. TF caught up with its operator to find out more about the decision to leave the business.

Even Without Patent Trials, Patent Trolls Are “Reportedly Shaking Down Indie Devs”

Sunday 4th of March 2018 11:04:36 PM

Extrajudicial action disguised as “settlement” or masked as “protection”

Summary: Charlatans pretending to be inventors (or defending inventors) are still blackmailing software developers using patents which are likely bunk, should never have been granted, would never be upheld by any court, but are still not being challenged due to the high cost of legal battles

AS noted in the previous post, when large companies shell out money for ‘protection’ from trolls they merely give the trolls appetite for more lawsuits (and/or threats of lawsuits). It harms small firms the most. They’re incapable of focusing on patent battles and are thus likely to settle without even challenging the claims/accusations. This problem is a growing problem in Europe (thanks to the EPO being derailed by its management), whereas the US sees many of the trolls migrating to China (the USPTO also tightens patent scope well before patents even reach courts).

For those who wonder why it matters so much, reading this new article by Babak Abrishamchian might help (“Patent Trolls Reportedly Shaking Down Indie Devs”). It’s universally true that patent trolls target those least likely to be able to afford a potent legal defense against patently bogus software patents. From the article:

Playsaurus, the Indie Devs behind Clicker Hero 1 and 2, have announced that a patent troll by the name of GTX Corp, demanding a $35,000 licensing fee in order to continue business. The patent troll threatened legal action against Playsaurus, stating that should they not pay the $35,000 fee within ten days, “costly litigation” would occur. The patent in question involves the use of in-game currencies, which is present in just about every video game with microtransactions ever.

In a statement on Playsaurus’ website, CEO Thomas Wolfley stated the company would fight these legal threats, including the company’s official response to GTX Corp and the patent in question. When discussing the reason Playsaurus is being targeted, Wolfley attributed it to several recent pieces of legislation in American government which have made it easier to fight patent trolls, but only if you have enough money to go to court against them. “What they’re asking for, $35,000, is about half a year of salary for one of our employees,” Wolfley said. “I am concerned that they may be preying on a lot of other small studios, in a final attempt for them to profit off this bogus patent (which only has about 2 years left on it).”

$35,000 may not sound like a lot of money (to large corporations), but for small firms that may be enough to employ someone for a whole year. Such a demand can completely doom a business or eliminate someone’s job. What happens when a dozen such demands are made in one year? Surrendering to demands may simply signal to yet more trolls that the toll booth is welcome. It may never end. Many American businesses (some of which we heard about or from) have fallen for this terrible scam. Paying ‘protection’ money rarely helps and may in fact exacerbate matters. Cost of a legal battle can easily exceed $35,000, especially upon appeals. This system is broken when justice is more expensive than injustice.

Software Patent Lawsuits Against Large Technology Firms/Corporations Should Ideally Fail and Result in Invalidation of the Patents

Sunday 4th of March 2018 10:19:20 PM

Otherwise more litigation targets (victims) will be found and shaken down

Summary: The culture of patent disputes in the US is changing, but some high-profile patent lawsuits are still happening (even in China) irrespective of the merit of allegations and said patents; software patents should never even show up in a courtroom anymore

EACH time the USPTO grants a patent in error it may result in an erroneous lawsuit/s from which only lawyers will gain. They profit from litigation, no matter the outcome and whose side (defendant or plaintiff). It is grotesque and disturbing to think that such people are actively attempting to steer patent systems and policies. It’s like putting manufacturers of weapons in charge of foreign policy.

“Following dismissal of plaintiff’s invalidity,” this Docket Report said last week, the “plaintiff’s litigation positions and tactics were unreasonable.”

It looks like the accused (defendant) is going to get compensated for the trouble, but either way, law firms on both sides will be victorious (financially):

Following dismissal of plaintiff’s invalidity and unenforceability claims for lack of standing and failure to state a claim, the court granted defendants’ motion for attorney fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 because plaintiff’s litigation positions and tactics were unreasonable.

Last weekend we wrote about rules which are good for patent trolls because too little burden of proof is on the accuser/claimant. This new post by Peter Keros elaborates on it: “Only a few factual allegations are required to survive a Motion to Dismiss a complaint alleging patent infringement, held the Southern District of Florida in Raptor, LLC. and Concrete Services, LLC. v. Odebrecht Construction, Inc. and Barreiro Construction Corp., NO. 17-21509-CIV-ALTONAGA (S.D. Fla. Feb. 13, 2018).”

Making it earlier to sue isn’t a positive thing.

A Canadian patent troll, WiLAN, is at it again. It targets Android devices:

In a 135-page complaint, WiLAN subsidiary IPA Technologies Inc. said that Google Assistant, the voice-activated personal assistant app, and other programs infringed six patents that it acquired from SRI International Inc. in May 2016.


IPA launched an initial round of lawsuits against Dell, HP Inc., Toshiba America Inc., Acer Inc., ASUS Computer International in October 2016, about five months after it acquired the patents. All of those suits were settled within weeks of their filing.

Patent trolls’ supporters who really hate Google, the EFF and professors seem rather happy to support the troll. Not too surprisingly.

Huawei, which uses Android, is also suing other Android vendors. Did Huawei make a sensible decision by suing Samsung? It’s usually those two brands which dominate the Android market (depending on country/segment) and still vie for the leadership/crown.

“Huawei may have overplayed its hand in Samsung patent dispute,” according to a post from this morning. Here’s why:

Procedural sophistication is a virtue, especially in cross-jurisdictional litigation. But in the event Judge William H. Orrick grants Samsung the antisuit (technically, just temporary anti-enforcement) injunction it is seeking against Huawei in the Northern District of California (in order to prevent the enforcement of a couple of Chinese patent injunctions), the world-class Chinese Android device maker and experienced patent litigant has no one to blame but itself–for excessive procedural gamesmanship of the kind that is all too obvious to (federal) judges. Should Judge Orrick find Huawei’s attics “vexatious and oppressive,” one of the three Unterweser antisuit injunction factors (a set of factors from the Fifth Circuit that the Ninth Circuit also applies) would be met, and someone who brings claims only to seek an immediate stay of some of them does appear to be suing for the sake of suing.


While Samsung used to take different positions five years ago (an eternity in this industry) and is doing what any other defendant would do in its situation (seeking to put obstacles in Huawei’s way, such as by firstly requiring an actual liability finding prior to a rate-setting decision, and by requiring country-by-country resolution of liability), Huawei’s opposition appears fundamentally weaker to me than Samsung’s motion. It wouldn’t have been hard for Huawei to avoid a situation in which one can reasonably find its procedural tactics “vexatious and oppressive,” and Huawei could have chosen to keep certain issues out of the U.S. case or at least to file the U.S. case after the Chinese ones. It has made its bed and must now lie in it. I believe Samsung’s motion will succeed–if not in district court, than in the Ninth Circuit.

“Samsung Hit with $4.3M Verdict in Image Editing Patent Suit,” noted another person, who linked to this new decision.

They are very happy because the defendant was a large company. The usual bashing of large technology companies is almost understandable. Watchtroll’s latest instance of it is rather revealing. These lawyers and trolls (and “professional writers” whom they hire) don’t care at all about technology, only how to tax, destroy, and sue over it. The biggest payouts come from large technology companies.

We are not supportive of large technology companies, but we support than a lot more than we’d ever support parasitic law firms and patent trolls. In fact, just because some companies have deep pockets does not necessarily mean we should be happy to see it shelling out money for ‘protection’ from lawsuit; whenever that happens it merely sponsors and strengthens the trolls, who might then be emboldened to shake down smaller and much more vulnerable firms. Ideally, in cases like the above, patents will be challenged and if they are software patents, for instance, then they should be invalidated. All the above certainly sound like software patents (voice recognition, image editing and so on).

More in Tux Machines

OSS Leftovers

  • What Is Fuchsia, Google’s New Operating System?
    Fuchsia first popped up on the tech world’s radar in mid-2016, when an unannounced open source project from Google appeared on the GitHub repository. According to initial inspection by the technology press, it was designed to be a “universal” operating system, capable of running on everything from low-power smartwatches to powerful desktops. That potentially includes phones, tablets, laptops, car electronics, connected appliances, smarthome hardware, and more.
  • Google created an AI-based, open source music synthesizer
    Move over musicians, AI is here. Google's 'NSynth' neural network is designed to take existing sounds and combine them using a complex, machine learning algorithm. The result? Thousands of new musical sounds, and an instrument you can play them on.
  • March Add(on)ness: uBlock (1) vs Kimetrack (4)
  • TenFourFox FPR6 SPR1 coming
    Stand by for FPR6 Security Parity Release 1 due to the usual turmoil following Pwn2Own, in which the mighty typically fall and this year Firefox did. We track these advisories and always plan to have a patched build of TenFourFox ready and parallel with Mozilla's official chemspill release; I have already backported the patch and tested it internally.
  • GCC 8 Compiler Offering More Helpful Debug Messages, Usability Improvements
    Red Hat's David Malcom has outlined some of the usability improvements coming with the imminent release of GCC 8.
  • Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup time changed: March 16th starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC
  • Your guide to LibrePlanet 2018, wherever you are, March 24-25
    The free software community encompasses the globe, and we strive to make the LibrePlanet conference reflect that. That's why we livestream the proceedings of the conference, and encourage you to participate remotely by both watching and participating in the discussion via IRC.
  • Open Source Advocate Dr. Joshua Pearce Publishes Paper on Inexpensive GMAW Metal 3D Printing
    One of the most outspoken advocates of open source philosophy in the 3D printing industry is Dr. Joshua M. Pearce, Associate Professor, Materials Science & Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering for Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech).
  • ONF Launches Stratum Open-Source SDN Project
    The growing adoption of software-defined networking over the past several years has given a boost to makers of networking white boxes. The separation of the network operating system, control plane and network tasks from the underlying proprietary hardware meant that organizations could run that software on white-box switches and servers that are less expensive than those systems from the likes of Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, Dell EMC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Network virtualization technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) have proven to be a particular boon for hyperscale cloud providers like Google and Facebook and telecommunications companies like AT&T and Verizon, which are pushing increasingly massive amounts of traffic through their growing infrastructures. Being able to use less expensive and easily manageable white boxes from original design manufacturers (ODMs) has helped these organizations keep costs down even as demand rises.

KDE: Discover, Qt Creator, LibAlkimia

  • This week in Discover, part 10
    This week saw many positive changes for Discover, and I feel that it’s really coming into its own. Discover rumbles inexorably along toward the finish line of becoming the most-loved Linux app store!
  • Qt Creator 4.6 RC & Qt 5.11 Beta 2 Released
    The Qt Company has some new software development releases available in time for weekend testing. First up is the Qt Creator 4.6 Release Candidate. Qt Creator 4.6 has been working on better C++17 feature support, Clang-Tidy and Clazy warnings are now integrated into the diagnostic messages for the C++ editor, new filters, and improvements to the model editor.
  • LibAlkimia 7.0.1 with support for MPIR released
    LibAlkimia is a base library that contains support for financial applications based on the Qt C++ framework. One of its main features is the encapsulation of The GNU Multiple Precision Arithmetic Library (GMP) and so providing a simple object to be used representing monetary values in the form of rational numbers. All the mathematical details are hidden inside the AlkValue object.
  • Last Weeks Activity in Elisa and Release Schedule
    Elisa is a music player developed by the KDE community that strives to be simple and nice to use. We also recognize that we need a flexible product to account for the different workflows and use-cases of our users. We focus on a very good integration with the Plasma desktop of the KDE community without compromising the support for other platforms (other Linux desktop environments, Windows and Android). We are creating a reliable product that is a joy to use and respects our users privacy. As such, we will prefer to support online services where users are in control of their data.

SwagArch 18.02 - U Got Swag?

SwagArch sounds like an interesting concept. The aesthetic side of things is reasonable, although brown as a color and a dark theme make for a tricky choice. The fonts are pretty good overall. But the visual element is the least of the distro's problems. SwagArch 18.02 didn't deliver the basics, and that's what made Dedoimedo sad. Network support plus the clock issue, horrible package management and broken programs, those are things that must work perfectly. Without them, the system has no value. So you do get multimedia support and a few unique apps, however that cannot balance out all the woes and problems that I encountered. All in all, Swag needs a lot more work. Also, it will have a tough time competing with Manjaro and Antergos, which are already established and fairly robust Arch spins. Lastly, it needs to narrow down its focus. The overall integration of elements is pretty weak. Eclectic, jumbled, not really tested. 2/10 for now. Let's see how it evolves. Read more

How Open Source Approach is Impacting Science

Dive into the exciting world of Innovative Science to explore and find out about how the Linux-based Operating System and Open Source are playing a significant role in the major scientific breakthroughs that are taking place in our daily lives. Read more