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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 hour 24 min ago

Links 21/4/2018: Linux 4.9.95, FFmpeg 4.0, OpenBSD Foundation 2018 Fundraising Campaign

7 hours 24 min ago

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Best open source help desk software

    The help desk market is crowded and dominated by player like Zendesk, Salesforce and Spiceworks, but there are some solid open source alternatives for smaller businesses with the time and patience.

    A good piece of help desk software should allow any business to log, track and respond to customer support queries across a range of platforms.

    Open source solutions may not be as feature rich or fully formed out of the box, and they won’t look as good as Zendesk or Salesforce, but they give great customisation options and are much more cost effective than closed source solutions.

  • After the First US Transaction, Propy Announces an Open Source Developer Program

    California-based blockchain startup Propy, is bringing the commercial use of blockchain technology to the US. After facilitating the first US Blockchain-based real estate deed in Vermont, Propy announced a new open source Developer Program.

    The idea behind Propy: it allows anyone to buy or sell real estate, anywhere, online. Propy provides an efficient crypto and fiat payment and an immutable record on the blockchain, ensuring that title deeds and property rights will be there forever.

  • Titus, the Netflix container management platform, is now open source

    Titus powers critical aspects of the Netflix business, from video streaming, recommendations and machine learning, big data, content encoding, studio technology, internal engineering tools, and other Netflix workloads. Titus offers a convenient model for managing compute resources, allows developers to maintain just their application artifacts, and provides a consistent developer experience from a developer’s laptop to production by leveraging Netflix container-focused engineering tools.

  • Netflix’s Container Management System Is Now Open Source

    On Thursday Netflix announced it’s made its home grown container management system, Titus, open source.

  • Lumina Networks on delivering open source SDN

    What kinds of companies should consider open source SDN, and what are the associated challenges in using such open source deployments? Lumina Networks has unrivalled expertise in working with customers and partners to deliver implementations, and explains its processes and outlines the benefits of using open source SDN.

  • Cars
    • Open source: sharing patents to speed up innovation

      Adjusting to climate change will require a lot of good ideas. The need to develop more sustainable forms of industry in the decades ahead demands vision and ingenuity. Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, believes he has found a way for companies to share their breakthroughs and speed up innovation.

      Fond of a bold gesture, the carmaker and space privateer announced back in 2014 that Tesla would make its patents on electric vehicle technology freely available, dropping the threat of lawsuits over its intellectual property (IP). Mr Musk argued the removal of pesky legal barriers would help “accelerate the advent of sustainable transport”.
      The stunning move has already had an impact. Toyota has followed Tesla by sharing more than 5,600 patents related to hydrogen fuel cell cars, making them available royalty free. Ford has also decided to allow competitors to use its own electric vehicle-related patents, provided they are willing to pay for licences.

      Could Telsa’s audacious strategy signal a more open approach to patents among leading innovators? And if more major companies should decide to adopt a carefree attitude to IP, what are the risks involved?

    • Autonomous car platform Apollo doesn’t want you to reinvent the wheel

      Open source technologies are solving many of our most pressing problems, in part because the open source model of cooperation, collaboration, and almost endless iteration creates an environment where problems are more readily solved. As the adage goes, “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.”

      However, self-driving vehicle technology is one rapidly growing area that hasn’t been greatly influenced by open source. Most of today’s autonomous vehicles, including those from Volkswagen, BMW, Volvo, Uber, and Google, ride on proprietary technology, as companies seek to be the first to deliver a successful solution. That changed recently with the launch of Baidu’s Apollo.

    • Luxoft launches PELUX 1.0 open source platform for automotive

      Luxoft’s automotive division has launched PELUX 1.0, an open source platform available to developers. This has been developed from its PELUX software suite as used by carmakers and tier 1 suppliers to build converged infotainment, autonomous driving, communication, HMI and car body control systems.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla’s large repository of voice data will shape the future of machine learning

        Mozilla’s open source project, Common Voice, is well on its way to becoming the world’s largest repository of human voice data to be used for machine learning. Common Voice recently made its way into Black Duck’s annual Open Source Rookies of the Year list.

        What’s special about Common Voice is in the details. Every language is spoken differently—with a wide variation of speech patterns, accents, and intonations—throughout the world. A smart speech recognition engine—that has applications over many Internet of Things (IoT) devices and digital accessibility—can recognize speech samples from a diverse group of people only when it learns from a large number of samples. A speech database of recorded speech from people across geographies helps make this ambitious machine learning possible.

      • Building Bold New Worlds With Virtual Reality

        From rich text to video to podcasts, the Internet era offers an array of new ways for creators to build worlds. Here at Mozilla, we are particularly excited about virtual reality. Imagine moving beyond watching or listening to a story; imagine also feeling that story. Imagine being inside it with your entire mind and body. Now imagine sharing and entering that experience with something as simple as a web URL. That’s the potential before us.

      • This Week in Mixed Reality: Issue 3

        This week we’re heads down focusing on adding features in the three broad areas of Browsers, Social and the Content Ecosystem.

      • New to me: the Taskcluster team

        At this time last year, I had just moved on from Release Engineering to start managing the Sheriffs and the Developer Workflow teams. Shortly after the release of Firefox Quantum, I also inherited the Taskcluster team. The next few months were *ridiculously* busy as I tried to juggle the management responsibilities of three largely disparate groups.

      • Taskcluster migration update: we’re finished!

        Over the past few weeks we’ve hit a few major milestones in our project to migrate all of Firefox’s CI and release automation to taskcluster.

        Firefox 60 and higher are now 100% on taskcluster!

  • Databases
    • How open source databases are sucking revenue out of legacy vendors’ pockets

      In other words, the value of the open source database market to customers/users is measured in the tens of billions, or even hundreds of billions, of dollars. One other way of thinking about this? That’s tens or hundreds of billions of dollars that proprietary vendors will never capture.

    • Has the time finally come for PostgreSQL?

      For nearly 30 years, PostgreSQL (a.k.a., Postgres) has arguably been the most common SQL open source database that you have never heard of. Call it the Zelig of databases, its technology either sat behind or acted as the starting point behind an array of nearly a dozen commercial database offerings from EnterpriseDB to Redshift, Greenplum, Netezza, CockroachDB and a host of others. And PostgreSQL has distinguished lineage as one of the brainchilds of Turing Award winner and database legend Dr. Michael Stonebraker, who started the PostgreSQL project based on the lessons learned from his previous database venture, Ingres.

    • Dev Preview: MongoDB Enterprise Running on OpenShift

      In order to compete and get products to market rapidly, enterprises today leverage cloud-ready and cloud-enabled technologies. Platforms as a Service (or PaaS) provide out-of-the-box capabilities which enable application developers to focus on their business logic and users instead of infrastructure and interoperability. This key ability separates successful projects from those which drown themselves in tangential work which never stops.

      In this blog post, we’ll cover MongoDB’s general PaaS and cloud enablement strategy as well as touch upon some new features of Red Hat’s OpenShift which enable you to run production-ready MongoDB clusters. We’re also excited to announce the developer preview of MongoDB Enterprise Server running on OpenShift. This preview allows you to test out how your applications will interact with MongoDB running on OpenShift.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.1 Lands Mid August 2018, First Bug Hunting Session Starts April 27

      Work on the next big release of the widely-used open-source and cross-platform office suite for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows operating systems, LibreOffice 6.1, has already begun this week with a focus on revamping the online experience and improving the Writer and Calc components.

      A first bug hunting session was scheduled for the end of next week, on April 27, 2018, when developers will hack on the first alpha milestone of LibreOffice 6.1, which should be available to download for all supported platforms a few days before the event. During the bug hunting session, devs will try to fix as many bugs as possible.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
  • Public Services/Government
    • IRS Website Crash Reminder of HealthCare.gov Debacle as OMB Pushes Open Source

      OMB is increasingly pushing agencies to adopt open source solutions, and in 2016 launched a pilot project requiring at least 20 percent of custom developed code to be released as open source – partly to strengthen and help maintain it by tapping a community of developers. OMB memo M-16-21 further asks agencies to make any code they develop available throughout the federal government in order to encourage its reuse.

      “Open source solutions give agencies access to a broad community of developers and the latest advancements in technology, which can help alleviate the issues of stagnated or out-dated systems while increasing flexibility as agency missions evolve over time,” says Henry Sowell, chief information security officer at Hortonworks Federal. “Enterprise open source also allows government agencies to reduce the risk of vendor lock-in and the vulnerabilities of un-supported software,” he adds.

  • Programming/Development
    • Writing Chuck – Joke As A Service

      Recently I really got interested to learn Go, and to be honest I found it to be a beautiful language. I personally feel that it has that performance boost factor from a static language background and easy prototype and get things done philosophy from dynamic language background.

      The real inspiration to learn Go was these amazing number of tools written and the ease with which these tools perform although they seem to be quite heavy. One of the good examples is Docker. So I thought I would write some utility for fun, I have been using fortune, this is a Linux utility which gives random quotes from a database. I thought let me write something similar but let me do something with jokes, keeping this mind I was actually searching for what can I do and I landed up on jokes about Chuck Norris or as we say it facts about him. I landed up on chucknorris.io they have an API which can return different jokes about Chuck, and there it was my opportunity to put something up and I chose Go for it.

    • Migrations: the sole scalable fix to tech debt.

      Migrations are both essential and frustratingly frequent as your codebase ages and your business grows: most tools and processes only support about one order of magnitude of growth before becoming ineffective, so rapid growth makes them a way of life. This isn’t because they’re bad processes or poor tools, quite the opposite: the fact that something stops working at significantly increased scale is a sign that it was designed appropriately to the previous constraints rather than being over designed.

    • Gui development is broken

      Why is this so hard? I just want low-level access to write a simple graphical interface in a somewhat obscure language.

Leftovers
  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Why prosecuting Indian pharma patents could be even more difficult than it appears [Ed: Today IAM is once again complaining about India's patent policy because it's too rational, not good enough for the patent 'industry']

      A study released this month sheds new light on the Indian Patent Office’s (IPO’s) application of Section 3(d) of the country’s Patents Act – a controversial section intended to circumscribe the issue of ‘secondary’ rights for pharmaceuticals products. It finds not only that Section 3(d) objections by the patent office have increased markedly over time, but that the provision has been widely invoked against ‘primary’ patent applications to protect new drugs.

    • ‘People Have to Strengthen the Laws Protecting the Water’

      It is impossible, really, not to connect two recent pieces of news: Residents of Flint, Michigan, have been told that the state that poisoned their drinking water will no longer provide them free bottled water. They’ll be going back to paying some of the highest prices in the country, some $200 a month, for water that may still be making them sick. The Washington Post reports at least 12,000 homes in Flint still waiting for replacement of lead pipes.

      At the same time, Michigan approved a permit letting the Nestlé Corporation pump more fresh water out of a well in the Great Lakes Basin to bottle and sell at a profit, more than half a million gallons a day, the right to which will cost Nestlé…wait for it…around $200 a year. And that won’t increase, although the amount of water they are taking will—by 60 percent.

      This is, in fact, how water rights work in this country, but if it feels wrong to you, you are far from alone. What can be and what is being done? Joining us now to discuss this critical story is Peggy Case. She’s president of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation. She joins us now by phone from near Traverse City. Welcome to CounterSpin, Peggy Case.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Friday
    • IBM Security launches open-source AI

      IBM Security unveiled an open-source toolkit at RSA 2018 that will allow the cyber community to test their AI-based security defenses against a strong and complex opponent in order to help build resilience and dependability into their systems.

    • Elytron: A New Security Framework in WildFly/JBoss EAP

      Elytron is a new security framework that ships with WildFly version 10 and Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) 7.1. This project is a complete replacement of PicketBox and JAAS. Elytron is a single security framework that will be usable for securing management access to the server and for securing applications deployed in WildFly. You can still use the legacy security framework, which is PicketBox, but it is a deprecated module; hence, there is no guarantee that PicketBox will be included in future releases of WildFly. In this article, we will explore the components of Elytron and how to configure them in Wildfly.

    • PodCTL #32 – Container Vulnerability Scanning
    • Twitter banned Kaspersky Lab from advertising in Jan

      Twitter has banned advertising from Russian security vendor Kaspersky Lab since January, the head of the firm, Eugene Kaspersky, has disclosed.

    • When you go to a security conference, and its mobile app leaks your data

      A mobile application built by a third party for the RSA security conference in San Francisco this week was found to have a few security issues of its own—including hard-coded security keys and passwords that allowed a researcher to extract the conference’s attendee list. The conference organizers acknowledged the vulnerability on Twitter, but they say that only the first and last names of 114 attendees were exposed.

    • The Security Risks of Logging in With Facebook

      In a yet-to-be peer-reviewed study published on Freedom To Tinker, a site hosted by Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, three researchers document how third-party tracking scripts have the capability to scoop up information from Facebook’s login API without users knowing. The tracking scripts documented by Steven Englehardt, Gunes Acar, and Arvind Narayanan represent a small slice of the invisible tracking ecosystem that follows users around the web largely without their knowledge.

    • Facebook Login data hijacked by hidden JavaScript trackers

      If you login to websites through Facebook, we’ve got some bad news: hidden trackers can suck up more of your data than you’d intended to give away, potentially opening it up to abuse.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Two years’ detention for UK teenager who ‘cyberterrorised’ US officials [iophk: so in other words the kid was not at fault but is punished anyway"]

      He impersonated his victims and tricked call centres at communications firms Comcast and Verizon into divulging confidential information.

    • Two years for teen ‘cyber terrorist’ who targeted US officials
    • Teen Who Hacked Ex-CIA Director John Brennan Gets Sentenced to 2 Years of Prison

      A teenage hacker who rose to fame for hacking into the online accounts of former CIA director John Brennan, former director of intelligence James Clapper, and other high-profile US government employees, got sentenced to two years of prison on Friday.

      For a few months in late 2015 and early 2016, Kane Gamble, who went by the alias Cracka at the time, was the alleged 15-year-old leader of a hacking group calling themselves Crackas With Attitude or CWA. The group targeted and broke into Brennan’s AOL email account, Clapper’s internet provider account, and others, including a White House official.

    • Spy kids: Schoolboy gathered intel pretending to be head of CIA

      An 18-year-old Briton has pleaded guilty at his trial to ten offences under the computer misuse act. As reported by Telegraph, the then 15-year-old Kane #Gamble received access to secret information about US reconnaissance operations in Afghanistan and Iran while to trying to hack computers of former #CIA head John Brennan and several other high-ranking US officials. The computer-savvy teen, who founded in 2015 his own online hacking team, Crackas With Attitude (CWA), is currently on conditional bail and will be sentenced by Mr Justice Haddon-Cave at the Old Bailey. Pretending at one point to be no less than the acting head on CIA, Gamble is accused of gaining unauthorised access to details of intelligence operations planned in Afghanistan and Iran.

    • ‘Worthy’ and ‘Unworthy’ Victims

      In their book Manufacturing Consent Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky distinguished between two kinds of victims: the worthy victims and the unworthy victims. The “worthy victims” are the victims (real and alleged) of leaders on the U.S. enemies list, such as Bashar al-Assad. The “unworthy victims” are those of the U.S. and its client states, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia.

    • Greg Shupak on Syrian Airstrikes

      The United States military is, at any given moment, visiting lethal violence on human beings—with families, and hopes and dreams—in a range of countries around the world.

    • Media Support US Violence Against Syria, but Long for More

      In The Atlantic (4/14/18), Thanassis Cambanis described the war crime as “undoubtedly a good thing,” and called for “sustained attention and investment, of diplomatic, economic and military resources”—though the latter rubbed up against his assessment in the same paragraph that “a major regional war will only make things worse.” Moreover, he described “the most realistic possibility” for the US and its partners in Syria as “an incomplete and possibly destabilizing policy of confrontation [and] containment. But a reckoning can’t be deferred forever.”

      This “reckoning” was his somewhat oblique way of referring to a war pitting the US and its allies against the Syrian government and its allies, the very “wider regional war” he just warned against. In Cambanis’ view, “confrontations” between nuclear-armed America and nuclear-armed Russia are “inevitable,” which implies that there is no sense in trying to avoid such potentially apocalyptic scenarios.

      A Washington Post editorial (4/14/18) said that “Mr. Trump was right to order the strikes.” The paper was glad that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and President Donald Trump “properly left open the possibility of further action.” The Post’s rationale for continuing to attack Syria was that “the challenge to vital US interests in Syria is far from over,” and that Trump was therefore wrong “to call Friday’s operation a ‘Mission Accomplished.’” These “interests” include ensuring that Iran does not “obtain the land corridor it seeks across Syria.” (Cambanis, similarly, described as “justified” US efforts to “contain Syria and its allies.”)

    • Trump Admin Aims to Expand Sale of Armed Drones Globally

      The Trump administration also announced Thursday a new policy aimed at expanding the sale of armed drones, particularly the large armed drones such as the Predator and the Reaper. Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro said the policy change will allow U.S. weapons companies to increase their direct sales of armed drones to so-called authorized allies and partners. This comes as a new report from the Security Assistance Monitor revealed that Trump approved an unprecedented $82 billion in arms sales during his first year in office.

    • Trump Administration Seeks to Expand Sales of Armed Drones
    • The Secret Daniel Ellsberg Really Worries About

      The author and former military analyst tells The Nation that it’s still US policy to launch a first-strike nuclear attack.

    • Hard as well as soft power: the case for modern defence

      In practice this will mean taking our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to the next level, hoovering up information from beneath the waves, from space, from across the increasingly important electro-magnetic spectrum finding out what our enemies are doing in high-definition and providing artificial intelligence – enabling analysis that can stay ahead in a fast-moving world

      It will mean accelerating the development of our innovative 77 Brigade – those reservists and regulars who give us the ability to win the information war – so we create and counter the narratives so central to modern conflict

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Jennifer Robinson: the free-speech champion who stuck by Julian Assange

      When the lawyer Jennifer Robinson first met Julian Assange, the most famous prisoner in the world not actually to be in prison, he was, she says, just “a guy with a backpack”. By that summer of 2010, the WikiLeaks founder had tossed some grenades into the public domain – a leaked report on toxic-waste dumping; Guantanamo Bay torture manuals – but Cablegate, the explosive release of 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables, still lay a little ahead. Nevertheless, the human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson smelt trouble, and called Robinson, with whom he’d worked in her capacity as a lawyer at a central London practice, and asked her to be prepared. The three of them, Assange, Robinson and he, were, after all, Australians.

    • WikiLeaks Shop Reports Suspension Of Coinbase Account Due To Terms Of Service Violation

      WikiLeaks Shop, the merchandise arm of international anonymous publishing non profit WikiLeaks, reported on Twitter Friday, April 20, that their account with crypto wallet and exchange Coinbase has been blocked.

    • WikiLeaks calls for Coinbase boycott after ban from cryptocurrency exchange

      WikiLeaks is calling for a global blockade of one of the world’s largest exchanges for crypto-trading, Coinbase, after the company banned the WikiLeaks Shop from its platform “without explanation.”

      The whistleblowing organization claims the cryptocurrency payments processor is responding to a “concealed influence,” and is urging members of the digital currency community to boycott it.

    • How Shoddy Reporting and Anti-Russian Propaganda Coerced Ecuador to Silence Julian Assange

      JULIAN ASSANGE HAS BEEN barred from communicating with the outside world for more than three weeks. On March 27, the Government of Ecuador blocked Assange’s internet access and barred him from receiving visitors other than his lawyers. Assange has been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, when Ecuador granted him asylum due to fears that his extradition to Sweden as part of a sexual assault investigation would result in his being sent to the U.S. for prosecution for his work with WikiLeaks. In January of this year, Assange formally became a citizen of Ecuador.

      As a result of Ecuador’s recent actions, Assange – long a prolific commentator on political debates around the world – has been silenced for more than three weeks, by a country which originally granted him political asylum and of which he is now a citizen. While Ecuador was willing to defy western dictates to hand over Assange under the presidency of Rafael Correa – who was fiercely protective of Ecuadorian sovereignty even if it meant disobeying western powers – his successor, Lenín Moreno, has proven himself far more subservient, and that mentality – along with Moreno’s increasingly bitter feud with Correa – are major factors in the Ecuadorian government’s newly hostile treatment of Assange.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Canary in the Coal Pond

      New reports provide an unprecedented look at contaminants leaking from coal ash ponds and landfills. But the chasm between information and environmental protection may deepen thanks to a proposed Trump administration rollback.

  • Finance
    • Qualcomm to Cut 1,500 Jobs in California, State Filings Show

      Qualcomm Inc. will cut 1,500 jobs in California, the majority at the chipmaker’s San Diego headquarters, according to documents filed with the state.

      Some 1,231 positions will be eliminated in San Diego with terminations starting about June 19, the company said in a WARN, or Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, notice. Companies are required to make such a state filing when they reduce their workforce by 50 or more employees within a 30-day period. At the same time, about 269 workers will lose their jobs at the company’s Santa Clara and San Jose locations.

    • Qualcomm May Be Collateral Damage in a U.S.-China Trade War

      A looming trade war between the United States and China has put Qualcomm, one of America’s largest technology companies, squarely in the middle of the battlefield.

      A major supplier in both China and the United States, the San Diego-based chip maker has long managed to play the trading relationship between the world’s two largest economies to its advantage. But an escalating trade battle over which country will dominate the technologies of the future is now threatening Qualcomm’s business and its growth.

    • Video: How IBM Is Quietly Pushing Out Aging Workers

      Last month, we reported that over the past five years, IBM has targeted its older U.S. employees for layoffs. The numbers are staggering: Since 2013, we estimated IBM eliminated more than 20,000 American employees ages 40 and over. We’ve collected the stories of over 1,400 former IBM employees and learned about their experiences during these job cuts. So exactly how does one of the country’s largest tech giants quietly push out this many older workers? Don’t we have laws to protect people at the end of their careers?

      Watch the video above to find out about how IBM — a longtime leader in employment practices — went from dream employer in the 1980s to what it has become in recent years.

    • Wells Fargo to Be Hit with $1 Billion Fine over Financial Crimes

      Wall Street giant Wells Fargo is expected to be hit with a $1 billion fine imposed by federal regulators accusing the bank of forcing people to buy auto insurance policies they didn’t need, for improperly charging mortgage holders and for other financial crimes. Despite being hit by a series of high-profile scandals and fines in recent years, Wells Fargo continues to reap billions of dollars a year in profits—reporting $5.9 billion in earnings in the first three months of this year alone.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • How Facebook is set to overhaul a flawed structure in India

      It is partnering with BOOM, an independent digital journalism initiative certified through the International Fact-Checking Network, for the project. Like India, similar initiatives in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, Indonesia, the Philippines and the US are underway.

    • Journalists sign petition against curbs on media

      More than 50 journalists, including editors and columnists, media persons and media freedom organisation representatives in Pakistan and abroad have signed a petition against curbs on media in the country in recent days.

    • Bad Decisions: Google Screws Over Tools Evading Internet Censorship Regimes

      Just as places like Russia are getting more aggressive with companies like Google and Amazon in seeking to stop online communications they can’t monitor, Google made a move that really fucked over a ton of people who rely on anti-censorship tools. For years, various anti-censorship tools from Tor to GreatFire to Signal have made use of “domain fronting.” That’s a process by which services could get around censorship by effectively appearing to send traffic via large companies’ sites, such as Google’s.

    • Texas Revenge Porn Laws Loses Battle With First Amendment

      Texas attorney Mark Bennett — instrumental in getting an unconstitutional “peeping tom” law tossed in 2014 — has scored another win for the First Amendment by getting an unconstitutional revenge porn law tossed. It’s not that anyone (except revenge porn purveyors) wants to see revenge porn go unchecked. It’s that there’s plenty of laws on the books already to address the problem and those written to target revenge porn tend to do collateral damage to the Constitution.

    • Google App Engine update makes evading state censorship tougher

      For the past number of years, Google’s App Engine has inadvertently permitted developers to evade internet censors. The loophole came in the form of a practice known as ‘domain fronting’, which let services use the Google network to escape state-level online obstacles.

    • Google removes feature that helps avoid Net censorship

      Google has thrown a spanner into the works of developers who have been using domain-fronting in the Google App Engine to avoid Internet censorship by using Google’s network.

    • Google disallows domain fronting, evading censorship becomes difficult
    • Google Stops Helping Services Avoid Censorship Via Domain Fronting
    • Google updates App Engine but kills anti-censorship feature

      The update in Google’s network architecture was first spotted by developers of privacy-minded web browser Tor. It removes an approach that services like encrypted messaging platform Signal, anti-Chinese censorship tool GreatFire.org, and VPN services offered by Psiphon depended upon.

    • How Twitter Suspended The Account Of One Of Our Commenters… For Offending Himself?

      If you spend any time at all in Techdirt’s comments, you should be familiar with That Anonymous Coward. He’s a prolific and regular commenter (with strong opinions). He also spends a lot of time on Twitter. Well, at least until a week or so ago when Twitter suspended his account. It’s no secret that Twitter has been getting a lot of pressure from people to be more proactive in shutting down and cutting off certain accounts. There are even a bunch of people who claim that Twitter should suspend the President’s account — though we think that would be a really bad idea.

      As we’ve pointed out in the past, people who demand that sites shut down and suspend accounts often don’t realize how difficult it is to do this at scale and not fuck up over and over again. Indeed, we have plenty of stories about sites having trouble figuring out what content is really problematic. Indeed, frequently these stories show that the targets of trolls and abusers are the ones who end up suspended.

      You can read TAC’s open letter to Jack Dorsey, which also includes an account of what happened. In short, over a year ago, TAC responded to something Ken “Popehat” White had tweeted, and referred to himself — a gay man — as “a faggot.” Obviously, many people consider this word offensive. But it’s quite obvious from how it was used here that this was a situation of someone using the word to refer to himself and to reclaim the slur.

    • Sex Workers Set Up Their Own Social Network In Response To FOSTA/SESTA; And Now It’s Been Shut Down Due To FOSTA/SESTA

      Just a few weeks ago we wrote about how a group of sex workers, in response to the passing of FOSTA/SESTA, had set up their own social network, called Switter, which was a Mastodon instance. As we noted in our post, doing so was unlikely to solve any of the problems of FOSTA/SESTA, because it’s perhaps even more likely that Switter itself would become a target of FOSTA/SESTA (remember, with FOSTA, the targeting goes beyond “sex trafficking” to all prostitution).

      And, indeed, it appears I was not the only one to think so. The organization that created Switter, Assembly Four, put up a note saying that Cloudflare had shut down Switter claiming the site was in violation of its terms of service.

    • Cloudflare and FOSTA/SESTA

      Switter went offline at around 5 AM, April 18 UTC+10 due to Cloudflare removing and blocking the switter.at zone. We received an email from their Legal Department that reads:

    • Cloudflare Kicks Out Torrent Site For Abuse Reporting Interference

      Cloudflare has terminated its services to the anime torrent site NYAA.si. According to Cloudflare, the pirate site tried to interfere with and thwart the operation of the company’s abuse reporting systems. The site’s operator, however, says he’s not aware of any wrongdoing.

    • Networking site for sex workers goes dark amid fears of internet censorship

      A social networking website for sex workers has been temporarily shut down in response to a new United States law meant to combat online sex trafficking, reigniting concerns raised by the tech sector that the legislation will stifle speech on the internet.

      Switter, pitched as “a Twitter-like platform for Sex Workers,” was founded in late March by a group of sex workers in Australia, where prostitution is legal countrywide and even regulated in some states.

      In its single month of operation, Switter amassed nearly 48,000 users across the world. “It’s notable, because it’s created by sex workers, for sex workers, and the people who created it work out of countries where sex work is not criminalized,” Liara Roux, an adult film producer and activist who used the site, tells ConsumerAffairs in a prepared statement.

    • Michael Cohen Drops Ridiculous Lawsuit Against Buzzfeed After Buzzfeed Sought Stormy Daniels’ Details

      Donald Trump’s long time lawyer, Michael Cohen has been in a bit of hot water of late. As you no doubt heard, the FBI raided Cohen’s office and home seeking a bunch of information, some of which related to the $130,000 he paid to adult performer Stormy Daniels. Already there have been a few court appearances in which Cohen (and Donald Trump) have sought to suppress some of what’s been seized, but that doesn’t seem to be going too well. At the same time, Cohen is still fighting Daniels in court, which also doesn’t seem to be going too well.

      Given all of that, it’s not too surprising that Cohen has decided to dismiss his ridiculous lawsuit against Buzzfeed for publishing the Christopher Steele dossier. As we pointed out, that lawsuit was going nowhere, because it sought to hold Buzzfeed liable for content created by someone else (oh, and that leaves out that much of what Cohen claimed was defamatory may actually have been true.

    • Cohen drops libel suits against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS

      Embattled attorney Michael Cohen has dropped a pair of much-touted libel suits against BuzzFeed and the private investigation firm Fusion GPS over publication of the so-called dossier detailing alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia.

      Cohen abandoned the suits late Wednesday as he continues to fight to recover documents and electronic files seized from his home, office and hotel room last week by federal authorities as part of what appears to be a broad criminal investigation into his conduct.

    • FOSTA/SESTA Passed Thanks To Facebook’s Vocal Support; New Article Suggests Facebook Is Violating FOSTA/SESTA

      One of the main reasons FOSTA/SESTA is now law is because of Facebook’s vocal support for the bill. Sheryl Sandberg repeatedly spoke out in favor of the bill, misrepresenting what the bill actually did. In our own post-mortem on what happened with FOSTA/SESTA we noted that a big part of the problem was that many people inside Facebook (incredibly) did not appear to understand how CDA 230 works, and thus misunderstood how FOSTA/SESTA would create all sorts of problems. Last month, we noted that there was some evidence to suggest that Facebook itself was violating the law it supported.

      However, a new article from Buzzfeed presents even more evidence of just how much liability Facebook may have put on itself in supporting the law. The article is fairly incredible, talking about how Facebook has allowed a group on its site that helps landlords seek out gay sex in exchange for housing — and the report is chilling in how far it goes. In some cases, it certainly appears to reach the level of sex trafficking, where those desperate for housing basically become sex slaves to their landlords.

    • Nicaragua: Government Repression and Censorship in Response to Protests

      The government of Commander Daniel Ortega responded to the protests over reforms to the Nicaraguan Institute of Social Security (INSS) with repression and aggressions against university students and journalists from national and international media.

      The government also ordered the censorship of independent television channels on the cable television signal.

      The motive of the protests is the decree to increase contributions of employees and employers to Social Security, impose a 5% tax on those already retired and lower future pensions, among other measures.

    • What’s the ‘dirty secret’ of Western academics who self-censor work on China?

      Australian academic James Leibold was looking forward to having his work published in a special edition of The China Quarterly. His study of the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative on ethnic minorities in China had taken him two long years, but he was confident his paper – which argued state surveillance in Xinjiang was at odds with the aims of Beijing’s trade initiative – was finally ready for public consumption.

      But then Leibold found two fellow academics from European universities had suddenly had second thoughts about publishing their work alongside his. A discussion ensued and collectively they decided about a month ago not to submit any of their papers. Leibold’s piece would have to wait. “We had a long conversation. They were concerned they wouldn’t be granted visas to China. It was self-censorship,” said Leibold of La Trobe University. “It’s regrettable this happened.”

      [...]

      For instance, no one from the Chinese government had warned Leibold or his colleagues against publishing their papers. But a combination of factors, including knowledge of other scholars who had been denied Chinese visas and a previous order from Beijing that the Quarterly block articles on sensitive subjects such as the Tiananmen crackdown, helped to convince Leibold’s colleagues it was better to keep their heads down.

      And their experience is far from unique. Leibold said some researchers in Chinese universities had withdrawn from joint projects with foreign institutions after being warned by authorities that their projects were being monitored. He said some Western academics had become “spooked” during trips to the country when they were stopped by Chinese security agents and asked about their studies. In one case, he said, an academic was told to give the agents a copy of his doctoral dissertation.

    • #IamGay backlash a rare win for China’s LGBT community, but challenges remain
    • Baranyai: Chinese censors lose battle to scrub away gay
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • We’re in the Uncanny Valley of Targeted Advertising

      Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, thinks people want targeted advertising. The “overwhelming feedback,” he said multiple times during his congressional testimony, was that people want to see “good and relevant” ads. Why then are so many Facebook users, including leaders of state in the U.S. Senate and House, so fed up and creeped out by the uncannily on-the-nose ads? Targeted advertising on Facebook has gotten to the point that it’s so “good,” it’s bad—for users, who feel surveilled by the platform, and for Facebook, who is rapidly losing its users’ trust. But there’s a solution, which Facebook must prioritize: stop collecting data from users without their knowledge or explicit, affirmative consent.

      It should never be the user’s responsibility to have to guess what’s happening behind the curtain.

      Right now, most users don’t have a clear understanding of all the types of data that Facebook collects or how it’s analyzed and used for targeting (or for anything else). While the company has heaps of information about its users to comb through, if you as a user want to know why you’re being targeted for an ad, for example, you’re mostly out of luck. Sure, there’s a “why was I shown this” option on an individual ad”, but each generally reveals only bland categories like “Over 18 and living in California”—and to get an even semi-accurate picture of all the ways you can be targeted, you’d have to click through various sections, one at a time, on your “Ad Preferences” page.

    • Minnesota Supreme Court Ruling Will Help Shed Light on Police Use of Biometric Technology

      A decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday will help the public learn more about how law enforcement use of privacy invasive biometric technology.

      The decision in Webster v. Hennepin County is mostly good news for the requester in the case, who sought the public records as part of a 2015 EFF and MuckRock campaign to track mobile biometric technology use by law enforcement across the country. EFF filed a brief in support of Tony Webster, arguing that the public needed to know more about how officials use these technologies.

      Across the country, law enforcement agencies have been adopting technologies that allow cops to identify subjects by matching their distinguishing physical characteristics to giant repositories of biometric data. This could include images of faces, fingerprints, irises, or even tattoos. In many cases, police use mobile devices in the field to scan and identify people during stops. However, police may also use this technology when a subject isn’t present, such as grabbing images from social media, CCTV, or even lifting biological traces from seats or drinking glasses.

      Webster’s request to Hennepin County officials sought a variety of records, and included a request for the agencies to search officials’ email messages for keywords related to biometric technology, such as “face recognition” and “iris scan.”

    • How an Irish Court Ruling Could Affect U.S. Spying

      The decision sets the stage for a showdown between tech firms and the government on NSA surveillance.

      Amidst all of the coverage of Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony last week, you may have missed another consequential headline for Facebook — and for everyone who uses the internet.

      An Irish court ruled that U.S. surveillance programs result in the “mass indiscriminate” processing of Europeans’ private data, and it expressed serious concerns about the lack of legal remedies for this surveillance. If the European Union’s highest court agrees, it may limit the ability of companies to easily move data from the EU into the U.S. In other words, NSA spying could have a major impact on the profits of Facebook and other Silicon Valley giants.

      One of the central issues in the case, known as the Schrems litigation, is whether the breathtaking scope of NSA surveillance violates users’ rights. That’s because under European law, companies face restrictions on transferring data to countries with weaker privacy rules. To address those restrictions, in the 1990s, the EU and the United States negotiated an agreement known as “Safe Harbor,” which allowed companies doing business in the EU to transfer data to the U.S. based on the principle that the U.S. ensures an “adequate” level of protection for that information.

      [...]

      However, as I explained in expert testimony for Schrems, those claims are completely divorced from reality.

      When people’s data is transferred from Europe, it is vulnerable to warrantless mass surveillance by the NSA and other agencies under two broad spying authorities: Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Executive Order 12,333. The U.S. can target law-abiding Europeans under programs such as PRISM, which pulls information from American tech firms, and Upstream, which grabs communications directly from the internet’s physical infrastructure as they’re in transit. And in practice there are few, if any, effective remedies because the U.S. government almost never officially notifies the millions of people it subjects to this spying. Without notice, it is extremely difficult to challenge this surveillance in court.

      In light of these facts, the Irish court rejected several of Facebook’s arguments. It ruled that the U.S. government engages in mass surveillance and found that people subject to U.S. surveillance do not receive notice. In addition, it concluded that concerns about the lack of remedies are “well-founded.”

    • Ex-CEO of Cambridge Analytica Refuses to Testify in U.K.
    • Cambridge Analytica ex-CEO refuses to testify in UK

      Alexander Nix has refused to testify before the U.K. Parliament’s media committee, even though the committee’s chairman has said there was no legal reason for Nix to not appear before it.

    • Facebook Privacy Fiasco Sees Congress Urged on Anti-Piracy Action

      Coalitions representing more than 670 companies and 240,000 members from the entertainment sector has written to Congress urging a strong response to the Facebook privacy fiasco. The groups, which include all the major Hollywood studios and key players from the music industry, are calling for Silicon Valley as a whole to be held accountable for whatever appears on their platforms.

    • Woman rumbled for fraud using her own VPN logs

      “There is no such thing as VPN that doesn’t keep logs. If they can limit your connections or track bandwidth usage, they keep logs.”

    • Facebook’s 2017 Privacy Audit Didn’t Catch Cambridge Analytica
    • Facebook will afford EU privacy cover only to 30% of users

      Facebook does not appear to have changed its attitude to user privacy in any way despite all its recent troubles, with the company having decided to avoid providing the protections afforded by the EU General Data Protection Regulation to nearly 70% of its registered users worldwide.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Chicago’s Gang Database Isn’t Just About Gangs

      That’s one of many questions raised by the huge amounts of data collected and maintained by the Chicago Police Department.

      As I wrote in a column this week, nearly 129,000 people are identified as gang members in what’s commonly known as the department’s “gang database.” The gang data is marred by inconsistencies and mistakes — 13 people in it are listed as 118 years old, for instance, and two others are supposedly 132. The errors can lead to lives being upended by incarceration and deportation.

      “It’s really affecting people in a lot of different ways, and in ways we don’t even know because we don’t know how this information is shared,” said Vanessa del Valle, a clinical assistant law professor at Northwestern University law school’s MacArthur Justice Center.

    • Jacksonville Sheriff Uses Misleading Data to Defend Pedestrian Ticketing

      Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams in recent months has repeatedly defended his department’s enforcement of pedestrian violations. Claims of a racial disparity have been overstated, he has argued. There is no policy targeting people of color, he has insisted. He’s made his case before the City Council. Most recently, Williams had a report supporting his claims hand-delivered to a local NAACP official.

      When making his case, Williams has relied on what he has said is a true accounting of pedestrian ticket data for recent years. That data, he claims, shows that 45 percent of tickets went to blacks. That figure, while greater than the city’s black population, is substantially less than the number reported by the Times-Union and ProPublica in a series of articles late last year. The Times-Union and ProPublica reported that 55 percent of the tickets over the prior five years had been issued to blacks.

    • Natalie Portman Refuses to Go to Israel to Accept Award over “Recent Events”

      In Israel, the organizers for the Genesis Prize, known as Israel’s Nobel Prize, have been forced to cancel the upcoming award ceremony, after the winner of this year’s prize, American-Israeli actress Natalie Portman, said she is refusing to travel to Israel to participate because of her distress over recent events. Portman has won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, and has starred in the new “Star Wars” trilogy, as well as the movies “Black Swan,” “Closer” and “V for Vendetta.” The Genesis Prize comes with a $2 million award. Portman’s decision not to participate in the ceremony comes as the Israeli military is in the midst of a brutal and deadly crackdown against Palestinian protesters in Gaza. Israeli snipers have killed dozens of unarmed Palestinian protesters so far.

    • Natalie Portman Backs Out of Israeli Award Ceremony
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • ISPs should charge for fast lanes—just like TSA Precheck, GOP lawmaker says

      Dividing up online services into those that have paid for TSA Precheck-like priority access and those that haven’t wouldn’t necessarily be appealing to consumers. While TSA Precheck lets travelers zoom through security, everyone else is stuck in a long, slow-moving line and met with frequent obstacles. Comparing paid prioritization to TSA Precheck lends credence to the pro-net neutrality argument that allowing paid fast lanes would necessarily push all other online services into “slow lanes.”

  • DRM
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Female inventors and gender imbalance in patent applications

      Where are the female inventors? Despite the recent fashion for children’s books designed to redress the representation of historical female inventors, according to the Intellectual Property Office, women make up just 7 per cent of UK patent holders.

      Though registrable intellectual property (IP) rights are typically held in the name of a company rather than an individual, explains Tania Clark, partner and trademark attorney at IP firm Withers & Rogers, “inventors are required to be named when filing a patent application and, in these instances, the majority are men”.

    • Chinese companies expanding overseas face plenty of IP risk, but it need not overwhelm them

      For many relatively young firms here in the greater Shenzhen area – China’s Silicon Valley – the IP department is at a relatively embryonic stage. As they invest more resources in intellectual property, they face important questions about how to build up an in-house function. Shirley Chen, the director of intellectual property for Lenovo, advised companies in this situation that there are not necessarily wrong answers when it comes to organisation: “I consider myself quite lucky to have experienced working in an IP team that’s within legal as well as one that’s an R&D unit”.

    • AI will challenge assumptions of patent ownership

      Artificial intelligence (AI) will challenge assumptions of patent ownership and bring about a unique set of issues, according to Mike Schuster, assistant professor at the Oklahoma State University.
      In a recent interview, Schuster said that these issues must be addressed by the US Government soon so that when the time comes, sufficient information and research will be available to make an informed decision.

      AI is already here, and Schuster explained that it has already independently invented jet engines, parts of bullet trains, communication systems and new pharmaceuticals.

      An upcoming paper from Schuster specifically discusses this problem and the variety of types of AI capable of invention.

    • Interview With Dominik Thor, Founder Of IPCHAIN Database

      Distributed ledger technology, commonly called a Blockchain, has recently become a highly popular term in many different industries for its cost-saving and operational risk reducing potential. In this interview with Intellectual Property Watch, Dominik Thor, the founder of IPCHAIN Database, a startup that focuses on IP protection through the use of Blockchain, explains about the ways this new technology can revolutionise the IP sector.

    • Trademarks
      • Advocate general won’t give Kit Kat a break

        Advocate general advises CJEU that Nestlé did not produce sufficient evidence to show that Kit Kat’s three-dimensional shape had acquired distinctive character, in an opinion observers say makes tough task of attaining shape marks even harder

    • Copyrights
      • Glass-Tongued Copyright Troll Thinks Google, Popehat, and Boing Boing Are Engaged In ‘Black Hat Seo’

        After taking a hiatus from issuing bogus DMCA takedowns against this site, self-proclaimed poet “Shaun Shane” is back at it. The harassment of anyone who dares to publish a certain poem of Shane’s — the one about tongues made of glass — is a (possibly) Texas-based cottage industry. The harassment continues to this day, but not much of it is directed at Google. Most of Shane’s “work” is done over at Twitter, where tweets are greeted with takedown requests.

As USPTO Director, Andrei Iancu Gives Three Months for Public Comments on 35 U.S.C. § 101 (Software Patenting Impacted)

7 hours 57 min ago

No guarantee that anything will change, but the patent microcosm enthusiastically promotes this perception

Summary: Weeks after starting his job as head of the US patent office, to our regret but not to our surprise, Iancu asks whether to limit examiners’ ability to reject abstract patent applications citing 35 U.S.C. § 101 (relates to Alice and Mayo)

A COUPLE of days ago we carefully took note of sites that had been attacking Michelle Lee (USPTO Director and reformer); they are now pressuring the new Director, Andrei Iancu. Will they get their way at the end? Can they squash Alice and Mayo somehow? Will Iancu let them do it?

“The patent extremists, we might as well add, are nowadays naming and ranking patent examiners by how subservient they are to patent maximalists.”Sites like Watchtoll are keeping the old obsession with him, pushing him towards limiting/removing PTAB, reintroducing software patents etc.

Steve Brachmann (Watchtroll) wrote about him again a couple of days ago, to be followed by another piece about the person who chose him before Trump nominated him. To quote:

Over the last several weeks those in the industry supportive of strong patent rights have been treated to speeches from USPTO Director Andrei Iancu saying all the right things about the patent system. but it is hard to imagine anything more significant than Secretary Ross simply showing up at an event like this.

Citing decisions like Berkheimer, a couple of days ago Gene Quinn (Watchtroll) mentioned potential changes to Section 101 and said: “The deadline for receiving public comments will be 120 days from official publication in the Federal Register, which will take place on Friday, April 20, 2018.”

It didn’t take long for patent maximalists to get all jolly; Iancu is being pressured to be a stooge of patent extremists, who are now boosting Watchtroll in joy and glee.

“So basically, nothing has been finalised.”Even IBM’s patent chief is boosting Watchtroll on this, which says a lot about IBM. It’s a rather trollish and malicious company nowadays. It lobbies for software patents like no other company (not even Microsoft).

The patent extremists, we might as well add, are nowadays naming and ranking patent examiners by how subservient they are to patent maximalists. This is a sort of witch-hunt-type trick. Anticipat did it and now Watchtroll joins the ‘fun’. It’s getting pretty ugly.

For a more balanced coverage, see what IP Watch wrote yesterday:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office today issued a Federal Register notice providing guidance to patent examiners on patent subject matter. The office is seeking public comments on the new guidance.

Here’s the original wording (complete): “The USPTO has issued today a Federal Register notice and memorandum to the patent examining corps in response to a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Berkheimer v. HP Inc., 881 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2018), pertaining to subject matter eligibility. This new guidance pertains to the second step of the Alice-Mayo framework for determining subject matter eligibility, and is focused on how examiners are to analyze and document a conclusion that a claim clement is “well-understood, routine, conventional” during the patent examination process. The USPTO is requesting public comment on the new guidance. This memorandum was issued now in light of the recent decision from the Court of Appeals. The USPTO is determined to continue its mission to provide clear and predictable patent rights in accordance with this rapidly evolving area of the law, and to that end, may issue further guidance in the future.”

So basically, nothing has been finalised. It is a proposal regarding a potentially new guidance (to be in effect). Watchtroll, like the original, names Berkheimer, as it last did yesterday:

As for the memo itself, it indicates that while Berkheimer does not change the basic subject matter eligibility framework set forth in MPEP § 2106, the case does provide clarification for the Alice Step 2B inquiry in that whether something is well-understood, routine, and conventional to a skilled artisan at the time of the patent is a factual determination. “[A]n examiner should conclude that an element (or combination of elements) represents well-understood, routine, conventional activity only when the examiner can readily conclude that the element(s) is widely prevalent or in common use in the relevant industry…[and] such a conclusion must be based upon a factual determination…This memorandum further clarifies that the analysis as to whether an element (or combination of elements) is widely prevalent or in common use is the same as the analysis under 35 U.S.C. § 112(a) as to whether an element is so well-known that it need not be described in detail in the patent specification [emphasis original].”

Richard Lloyd (IAM think tank) wrote: “During his first oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, USPTO Director Andrei Iancu came under growing pressure to issue guidance on how recent changes in jurisprudence on patent eligible subject matter should be applied. Senator Kamala Harris, a recent appointee to the committee, quizzed Iancu on the uncertainty around section 101, particularly as it relates to artificial intelligence. This is an area of growing interest to the tech giants of her home state of California, and Harris asked the new PTO if he could commit to issuing new guidance within 90 days.”

“We expect technology companies (other than IBM) to oppose changes and in fact Josh Landau (CCIA), who represents many such companies, has already responded.”There was also this tweet about it, which said: “Yesterday in the Senate, USPTO director Iancu committed to reporting back on possible changes to 101 guidelines within 90 days, so today’s news is something of a surprise. But eligibility is an issue Iancu has focused on strongly since taking the reins.”

We expect technology companies (other than IBM) to oppose changes and in fact Josh Landau (CCIA), who represents many such companies, has already responded. Two days ago he wrote a rebuttal to the claims made in the oversight hearing:

On Wednesday, April 18, new USPTO Director Andrei Iancu appeared for his first oversight hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Director was more open with the Committee compared to his confirmation process, leading to some interesting discussions.

Algorithms Are Already Patentable

A number of questions focused on the issue of patentable subject matter, also referred to as § 101. As noted by a number of Senators, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data are huge areas of innovation right now. Google’s AI systems (including DeepMind and TensorFlow) have enabled key advances in many areas of machine learning. NVIDIA’s advanced GPU hardware enables faster, more efficient AI technology, and they have their own AI systems that run on top of their hardware. Intel is providing neural network hardware that can learn on its own. These technologies underlie recent advances in areas as diverse as natural language translation, self-driving cars, and medical diagnostics.

Unfortunately, there appeared to be an impression that algorithms aren’t patentable, and Director Iancu could have done more to clarify that that’s anything but the truth. Of course you can patent an algorithm. In fact, claiming a specific algorithm for solving a problem in your patent is one of the most effective ways to make sure that your invention passes § 101; that was the exact rationale in the McRO case. Essentially, you can patent “a specific means or method that improves the relevant technology,” but you can’t patent “a result or effect that itself is the abstract idea and merely invoke generic processes and machinery.” A specific algorithm that solves a technical problem is patentable. But what isn’t patentable is claiming “using artificial intelligence to solve a problem”, any more than “using computers to solve a problem” was found patentable in Alice.

And that shouldn’t concern anyone interested in the future of AI. Alice hasn’t hurt the computer software industry—on the contrary, R&D spending on software and the internet has skyrocketed post-Alice. And the inability to patent “solve it with AI” isn’t going to harm investment in AI.

Real advances in AI are receiving patents every day. [1][2][3][4]. Utility patent 10,000,000 will likely issue this summer, and given the pace of innovation seen every day, there’s a good chance that patent will relate to AI. But what isn’t—and shouldn’t be—patentable is the sort of “do it with AI” patents that can block off whole areas of research and development, the sorts of patents that are favorites of patent trolls. And that’s exactly the situation we have today.

What will happen after 3 months is not known to us (not yet), but we expect groups like the EFF, Engine, CCIA, HTIA and others to remain involved and push back against patent maximalists. We’ll mostly be vigilant observers and report on what is happening, e.g. public submission of comments.

In Keith Raniere v Microsoft Both Sides Are Evil But for Different Reasons

9 hours 22 min ago

Cult leader and patent troll

Summary: Billing for patent lawyers reveals an abusive strategy from Microsoft, which responded to abusive patent litigation (something which Microsoft too has done for well over a decade)

THE patent policy at the USPTO is crucial in ensuring patent justice; not everyone can afford a court battle, so a patent grant alone can cause plenty of injustice in the form of extortion rackets (extrajudicial).

“This is about software patents.”Raniere (known for a “a multi-level marketing cult”) is in some headlines again. Mr. Nazer (EFF) said some months ago that the “self-declared genius behind the group, Keith Raniere, is also a patent troll,” citing an old article of ours (Raniere has been mentioned on other occasions since then). Dennis Crouch decided to write about it just before the weekend, revealing the likely bogus costs Microsoft claims to have paid/incurred. To quote Crouch:

Here, those costs add up — $450,000 in attorney fees for the defendants win at the ultra-preliminary stage for lack-of-standing. Let me note – this is ridiculous $450k to win on standing grounds. OMG! Note – the bill submitted was greater, but the Judge reduced it by 20%.

[...]

I would hope that defendants could win that case for less than $450,000.

This is about software patents. As WIPR put it, “Raniere had claimed that the companies had infringed his software patents, US numbers 6,373,936; 6,819,752; 7,215,752; 7,391,856; and 7,844,041.”

Why did the USPTO grant such patents in the first place. But no matter how ugly and abusive Raniere may be, Microsoft is no innocent party either because Microsoft probably made that number up to cushion its greedy/corrupt patent lawyers. No way they should ever charge this much for so little!

As WIPR put it, “AT&T and Microsoft [claimed and got] nearly $450,000 of attorneys’ fees,” but it barely got anywhere at all. To quote:

Keith Raniere, the leader of a self-help group in the US, has been told he must pay telecoms company AT&T and Microsoft nearly $450,000 of attorneys’ fees and costs in a patent dispute.

Yesterday, April 18, a unanimous three-judge panel at US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court’s decision to dismiss the case in 2016 and grant the attorneys’ fees as a sanction for Raniere’s conduct.

[...]

According to the Federal Circuit, Raniere had argued that his conduct was not “sufficiently egregious” to justify imposition of sanctions under the district court’s powers, but this was rejected by the Texas court.

The district court awarded $300,295 to AT&T and $143,719 to Microsoft in attorneys’ fees and costs.

Raniere appealed against the district court’s fee award, but the Federal Circuit concluded that the district court hadn’t erred in finding AT&T and Microsoft to be the prevailing parties and that it didn’t abuse its discretion in awarding attorneys’ fees and costs.

There are several lessons here: first, software patents should not be granted; second, companies like Microsoft make up numbers to enrich themselves or lawyers; third, it’s not hard to see why patent law firms lobby so hard for bad patents (e.g. against PTAB) and for software patents (e.g. against Section 101).

Patent maximalism is a disease. It’s being introduced by patent trolls and lawyers who assume that their existence is necessary for society and lie to themselves about promoting/protecting innovation.

Links 20/4/2018: Atom 1.26, MySQL 8.0

Friday 20th of April 2018 08:55:35 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Calamares Pinebook

      But there is an under-appreciated bit regarding images for an ARM laptop — or pre-installed Linux distro’s in general. And that’s the first-run experience. The Netrunner Pinebook image is delivered so that it boots to the Plasma 5 desktop, no passwords asked, etc. The user is called “live”, the password is “live”, and nothing is personalized. It’s possible, though not particularly secure, to use the laptop this way in a truly disposable fashion. A first-run application helps finalize the configuration of the device by creating a named user, among other things.

      One of the under-documented features of Calamares is that it can operate as a first-run application as well as a system installer. This is called “OEM Mode“, because it’s of greatest interest to OEMs .. but also to distro’s that ship an image for users to flash onto (micro)SD card for use in a device.

  • Server
    • Failure to automate: 3 ways it costs you

      When I ask IT leaders what they see as the biggest benefit to automation, “savings” is often the first word out of their mouths. They’re under pressure to make their departments run as efficiently as possible and see automation as a way to help them do so.

      Cost savings are certainly a benefit of automation, but I’d argue that IT leaders who pursue automation for cost-savings alone are missing the bigger picture of how it can help their businesses.

      The true value of automation doesn’t lie in bringing down expenses, but rather in enabling IT teams to scale their businesses.

    • Docker Enterprise Edition 2.0 Launches With Secured Kubernetes

      After months of development effort, Kubernetes is now fully supported in the stable release of the Docker Enterprise Edition.

      Docker Inc. officially announced Docker EE 2.0 on April 17, adding features that have been in development in the Docker Community Edition (CE) as well as enhanced enterprise grade capabilities. Docker first announced its intention to support Kubernetes in October 2017. With Docker EE 2.0, Docker is providing a secured configuration of Kubernetes for container orchestration.

      “Docker EE 2.0 brings the promise of choice,” Docker Chief Operating Officer Scott Johnston told eWEEK. “We have been investing heavily in security in the last few years, and you’ll see that in our Kubernetes integration as well.”

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.16.3
    • Linux 4.15.18
    • Linux 4.14.35
    • V3D DRM Driver Steps Towards Mainline Kernel, Renamed From VC5

      The Broadcom VC5 driver stack is being renamed to V3D and developer Eric Anholt is looking at merging it into the mainline Linux kernel.

      The VC5 DRM/KMS and Mesa code has been for supporting the next-generation Broadcom VideoCore 5 graphics hardware that’s only now beginning to appear in some devices, well, it seems one device so far. Though as I pointed out a few months back, there’s already “VC6″ activity going on too as the apparent successor to VC5 already being in development.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Azure Sphere Makes Microsoft an Arm Linux Player for IoT [Ed: Microsoft marketing at LF (only runs on/with Windows and Visual Studio etc.)]
      • Keynotes Announced for Automotive Linux Summit & OS Summit Japan [Ed: “Senior Software Engineer, Microsoft” in there; LF has once again let Microsoft infiltrate Linux events; in the words of Microsoft’s chief evangelist, “I’ve killed at least two Mac conferences. […] by injecting Microsoft content into the conference, the conference got shut down. The guy who ran it said, why am I doing this?”]

        Automotive Linux Summit connects those driving innovation in automotive Linux from the developer community with the vendors and users providing and using the code, in order to propel the future of embedded devices in the automotive arena.

      • OPNFV: driving the network towards open source “Tip to Top”

        Heather provides an update on the current status of OPNFV. How is its work continuing and how is it pursuing the overall mission? Heather says much of its work is really ‘devops’ and it’s working on a continuous integration basis with the other open source bodies. That work continues as more bodies join forces with the Linux Foundation. Most recently OPNFV has signed a partnership agreement with the open compute project. Heather says the overall OPNFV objective is to work towards open source ‘Tip to top’ and all built by the community in ‘open source’. “When we started, OPNFV was very VM oriented (virtual machine), but now the open source movement is looking more to cloud native and containerisation as the way forward,” she says. The body has also launched a C-RAN project to ensure that NFV will be ready to underpin 5G networks as they emerge.

    • Benchmarks
      • AMD Ryzen 5 2600X + Ryzen 7 2700X Linux Benchmarks

        The embargo on the Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 7 2700X processors has expired now that these Ryzen+ CPUs are beginning to ship today. We can now talk about the Linux support and the initial performance figures for these upgraded Zen desktop CPUs.

      • 20-Way NVIDIA GeForce / AMD Radeon GPU Comparison For Rise of The Tomb Raider On Vulkan/Linux

        Today Feral Interactive released their much anticipated Linux port of Rise of the Tomb Raider, the game that was released for Windows in January of 2016 and then released for macOS last week. Feral’s Mac port was relying upon the Apple Metal API while the Linux port is now their second game (after F1 2017) exclusively relying upon the Vulkan graphics/compute API rather than OpenGL. This morning I posted the initial Radeon results using the RADV driver while here is the NVIDIA GeForce vs. AMD Radeon graphics card comparison on Ubuntu Linux using twenty different graphics cards.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Applications Open Source Software Suite Gets First Major Release in 2018

        More than four months in the making, the final KDE Applications 18.04 release is finally here, and it already started appearing in the stable software repositories of popular GNU/Linux distributions, such as Arch Linux. It’s KDE Applications’ first major release in 2018 and comes with numerous enhancements and new features.

        Prominent new features in KDE Applications 18.04 include various improvements to the panels, menus, and folder view of the Dolphin file manager, along with the ability to sort and organize images by date, drag-and-drop optimizations, a new keyboard shortcut to open the Filter Bar, and better HiDPI support.

      • KDE Applications 18.04 Brings Dolphin Improvements, JuK Wayland Support

        The KDE community has announced the release today of KDE Applications 18.04 as the first major update to the open-source KDE application set for 2018.

      • Plasma Startup

        Startup is one of the rougher aspects of the Plasma experience and therefore something we’ve put some time into fixing

        [...]

        The most important part of any speed work is correctly analysing it.
        systemd-bootchart is nearly perfect for this job, but it’s filled with a lot of system noise.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Nix This Innovative OS for Its Uninviting Complexity

        I had to keep reminding myself that I was not dealing with an extreme case of Arch Linux instead of GNU/Linux. NixOS is more demanding and definitely not a distro for users with anything less than advanced skills.

        To say NixOS comes with a steep learning curve and lots of hands-on overhead is putting it mildly. If you are a typical Linux user who lacks sysadmin training, avoid NixOS like a malware attack hiding in plain sight.

    • New Releases
      • ExTiX 18.4 – “The Ultimate Linux System” – with LXQt 0.12.0, Refracta Tools, Calamares Installer and kernel 4.16.2-exton – Build 180419

        I have made a new version of ExTiX – The Ultimate Linux System. I call it ExTiX 18.4 LXQt Live DVD. (The previous version was 17.8 from 171012).

      • ExTiX, the Ultimate Linux Operating System, Is Now Based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

        ExTiX is dubbed the “Ultimate Linux System,” and it’s been updated earlier today by developer Arne Exton to version 18.4, based on Canonical’s upcoming Ubuntu 18.04 LTS operating system. However, ExTiX is using the lightweight and modern LXQt 0.12.0 as default desktop environment instead of GNOME, and it’s powered by the latest Linux 4.16.2 kernel.

        “After removing GNOME I have installed LXQt 0.12.0,” said Arne Exton in today’s announcement. “Programs won’t crash or anything like that. And I haven’t discovered any bugs to report. While running ExTiX LXQt 18.4 live or from the hard drive you can use Refracta tools (pre-installed) to create your own live installable Ubuntu system. A ten-year child can do it.”

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • openSUSE Heroes loves Let’s Encrypt™ – Expect certificate exchange

        openSUSE loves Let’s Encrypt™

        Maybe some of you noticed, that our certificate *.opensuse.org on many of services will expire soon (on 2018-04-23).

        As we noticed that – as well – we decided to put a bit of work into this topic and we will use Let’s Encrypt certificates for the encrypted services of the openSUSE community.

        This is just a short notice / announcement for all of you, that we are working on this topic at the moment. We will announce, together with the deployment of the new certificate, the regarding hashes and maybe some further information on our way of implementing things.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Introducing the Vault Operator

        Today, Red Hat is pleased to announce a new open source project, the Vault Operator. In keeping with earlier projects, including the etcd Operator and the Prometheus Operator, the Vault Operator aims to make it easier to install, manage, and maintain instances of Vault – a tool designed for storing, managing, and controlling access to secrets, such as tokens, passwords, certificates, and API keys – on Kubernetes clusters.

        We are supporters of Vault, for important reasons. Authentication is fundamental to modern applications. As application design shifts from monolithic to distributed architectures, the various components of an application must communicate with each other over a network in ways that are designed to be trusted and secure. This typically requires authentication, which in turn requires credentials, or secrets. The problem is that there is no de facto way to centrally locate and manage these secrets.

      • Expanding architectural choices to better arm Red Hat Enterprise Linux developers

        Red Hat Enterprise Linux continues to deliver the best possible experience for enterprise system administrators and developers, as well as provide a solid foundation for moving workloads into both public and private clouds. One of the ways to enable such ubiquity is Red Hat’s multi-architecture initiative, which focuses on bringing Red Hat’s software portfolio to different hardware architectures.

        Last week, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 went live. It brought forward several improvements relevant to developers and system administrators such as advanced GUI system management via the Cockpit console, which should help new Linux administrators, developers, and Windows users to perform expert tasks without having to get into the command line.

      • Altran and Red Hat latest to join 5TONIC 5G Innovation Lab

        Two more companies have joined the specialist 5G mobile research and innovation laboratory in Spain called 5TONIC. Altran and Red Hat are the latest companies to become members of the 5TONIC initiative joining existing companies such as Telefónica, Intel and Ericsson.

        Hosted by its co-founder – research organisation IMDEA Networks Institute – on its campus in Madrid, and chaired by Telefónica, the 5TONIC laboratory has been designed to provide a vehicle for member companies to “co-create” and test breakthrough 5G services and solutions – focused on collaborating with other industries.

      • Surescripts speeds DevOps work with Red Hat Ansible Automation
      • An API Journey: From Idea to Deployment the Agile Way–Part II
      • Moving Production Workloads to OpenShift Online
      • Red Hat Executive Briefing Center named a World Class Center by the Association of Briefing Program Managers
      • How to engage with Technical Account Managers at Red Hat Summit 2018
      • Finance
    • Debian Family
      • 15.010958904109589041

        And yes! On April 15, I passed the 15-year-mark as a Debian Developer.

      • 10 years + 1 day

        yesterday 10 years ago I became a Debian Developer.

      • Diversity Update

        Which brings us to a panel for the upcoming Debconf in Taiwan. There is a suggestion to have a Gender Forum at the Openday. I’m still not completely sure what it should cover or what is expected for it and I guess it’s still open for suggestions. There will be a plan, let’s see to make it diverse and great!

        I won’t promise to send the next update sooner, but I’ll try to get back into it. Right now I’m also working on a (German language) submission for a non-binary YouTube project and it would be great to see that thing lift off. I’ll be more verbose on that front.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Meet Bo, an Ubuntu-Powered Social Robot with AI Capabilities

            Meet Bo, a social robot with AI (Artificial Intelligence) capabilities, powered by Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux operating system and optimized to welcome customers, as well as to help them navigate to find products and areas in your organization.

            Bo was already used by several well-known brands like Etisalat and BT in a bunch of scenarios, including hospitality and retail scenarios, and it’s being tested in large shopping centers in the United Kingdom, such as Lakeside.

          • The Unique Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 Beta 2

            It is the most unique among the Official Flavors in the 18.04. It’s the only to bring Chromium browser, and it gives you the unique Budgie Desktop experiences. It is really a good place for everyone who wants new, distinct desktop experience with modern version of software and broad space to explore. And ultimately it is still available for 32 bit, which has been abandoned by Ubuntu original. We will wait until the planned release on April 26.

          • gksu Removed From Ubuntu, Here’s The Recommended Replacement

            gksu is used to allow elevating your permissions when running graphical applications, for example in case you want to run a graphical text editor as root to edit a system file, or to be able to remove or add a file to a system folder.

          • Welcome To The (Ubuntu) Bionic Age: Behind communitheme: interviewing Frederik

            My name is Frederik, I live in Germany and I am working as a java software developer in my daily job.

            I am using Ubuntu since 5 years and quickly started to report bugs and issues when they jumped into my face. Apart from that, I like good music, and beautiful software. I also make my own music in my free time.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Open source crucial to Orange as it prepares for ONAP deployment

    Orange has long played a key part in the testing and adoption of ONAP, dating back to when its ECOMP predecessor was created by AT&T as a platform for managing a software-defined network. The move to open source and its development as the ONAP project has made the platform a key component of the new telco open networking movement. But why should other telcos look to ONAP as they embark on their network transformation strategies, and how does it help enable the automated network that will lead to new business opportunities?

  • Events
    • Lessons from OpenStack Telemetry: Deflation

      At some point, the rules relaxed on new projects addition with the Big Tent initiative, allowing us to rename ourselves to the OpenStack Telemetry team and splitting Ceilometer into several subprojects: Aodh (alarm evaluation functionality) and Panko (events storage). Gnocchi was able to join the OpenStack Telemetry party for its first anniversary.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Dev-tools in 2018

        This is a bit late (how is it the middle of April already?!), but the dev-tools team has lots of exciting plans for 2018 and I want to talk about them!

        [...]

        We’re creating two new teams – Rustdoc, and IDEs and editors – and going to work more closely with the Cargo team. We’re also spinning up a bunch of working groups. These are more focused, less formal teams, they are dedicated to a single tool or task, rather than to strategy and decision making. Primarily they are a way to let people working on a tool work more effectively. The dev-tools team will continue to coordinate work and keep track of the big picture.

      • Nonny de la Peña & the Power of Immersive Storytelling

        This week, we’re highlighting VR’s groundbreaking potential to take audiences inside stories with a four part video series. There aren’t many examples of creators doing that more effectively and powerfully than Nonny de la Peña.

        Nonny de la Peña is a former correspondent for Newsweek, the New York Times and other major outlets. For more than a decade now, de la Peña has been focused on merging her passion for documentary filmmaking with a deep-seeded expertise in VR. She essentially invented the field of “immersive journalism” through her company, Emblematic Group.

  • Databases
    • MySQL 8.0 Released With Many Improvements, Faster Performance

      It’s a busy day in the software and hardware space today as well as a busy week for Oracle with several big releases this week. The latest is the general availability of the long-awaited MySQL 8.0 update.

      MySQL 8.0 is a very significant update over the MySQL 5.7 series. MySQL 8.0 features a transactional data dictionary, a new document store with NoSQL support, and up to twice as fast MySQL database performance compared to version 5.7.

    • MySQL 8.0: Up to 2x Faster
    • MySQL 8.0 released

      MySQL 8.0.11 GA (General Availability) is out today—for those not used to Oracle’s idiosyncratic versioning, this essentially means “MySQL 8.0 is released” (8.0.1 and so forth were various stages of alpha and beta). This marks the end of three years of development, of which I’ve been on board for two or so of them.

    • Help Canonical Test GNOME Patches, Android Apps Illegally Tracking Kids, MySQL 8.0 Released and More

      MySQL 8.0 has been released. This new version “includes significant performance, security and developer productivity improvements enabling the next generation of web, mobile, embedded and Cloud applications.” MySQL 8.0 features include MySQL document store, transactional data dictionary, SQL roles, default to utf8mb4 and more. See the white paper for all the details.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Collabora Online 3.2 released

      Collabora Productivity, the driving force behind putting LibreOffice in the Cloud, is excited to announce a new release of its flagship enterprise-ready cloud document suite – Collabora Online 3.2, with new features and multiple improvements.

    • Collabora Online 3.2 Brings More Powerful Features to LibreOffice in the Cloud

      Michael Meeks of the Collabora Productivity has the pleasure of informing Softpedia today on the availability of Collabora Online 3.2, the second point release of the Collabora Online 3 series that promises yet another layer of new features and improvements to the enterprise-ready, cloud-based office suite.

      Based on the LibreOffice 6.1 open-source office suite, Collabora Online 3.2 introduces support for creating and inserting charts into Writer and Impress documents, and the ability to validate data in Calc, which might come in handy for engineers who want to do a final assembly inspection on their tablets, as well as to collaborate with their colleagues to ensure all tests are passed by a complete product.

    • Oracle demands dev tear down iOS app that has ‘JavaScript’ in its name

      Oracle, claims developer Zhongmin Steven Guo, has demanded that Apple remove an app he created because it contains the trademarked term “JavaScript.”

      The app in question, published by Guo’s Tyanya Software LLC – which appears to be more a liability shield than a thriving software business – is titled “HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, HTML, Snippet Editor.”

      The name, Guo explains in a Hacker News comment, was chosen in an effort to “game the App Store ranking by adding all the keywords to the app name.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup time: April 20th starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC

      Help improve the Free Software Directory by adding new entries and updating existing ones. Every Friday we meet on IRC in the #fsf channel on irc.freenode.org.

      Tens of thousands of people visit directory.fsf.org each month to discover free software. Each entry in the Directory contains a wealth of useful information, from basic category and descriptions, to providing detailed info about version control, IRC channels, documentation, and licensing info that has been carefully checked by FSF staff and trained volunteers.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Researchers deliver open-source simulator for cyber physical systems

      Cyber physical systems (CPS) are attracting more attention than ever thanks to the rapid development of the Internet of Things (IoT) and its combination with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and the cloud. These interacting networks of physical and computational components will provide the foundation of critical infrastructure, form the basis of ‘smart’ services, and improve the quality of life in areas ranging from energy and environment to transportation and healthcare.

      CPS technologies are already transforming the way people interact with engineered systems in the ‘real’ or ‘physical’ world, just as the internet has transformed the way people interact with information. Yet, due to their complexity, the developers of CPS face a major problem: the lack of simulation tools and models for their design and analysis.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Creators face an evolving challenge protecting IP

      The GNU General Public License, under which the operating system Linux and much open-source software is shared, is another example of copyleft.

      Open-source software, where programs are worked on together by loosely connected developer communities rather than traditional software houses, show one way IP can be shared without stifling innovation. Linux, the mobile operating system Android and the database system MySQL have all achieved widespread adoption, and are continually innovating despite, or perhaps because of, being open source.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Emerging Tech Speaker Series Talk with Rian Wanstreet

      This is an opportunity for the open source community, as alternative technologies and platforms are being developed which provide farmers the ability to farm outside of walled gardens. From open source seed initiatives, to open farm technologies, to data platform cooperatives, there is a small, but growing, collaborative movement that recognizes that farmers are at a critical moment: they can help to establish tools that advance freedom, or accept machines that foster dependencies.

    • Williamson Schools to develop open source social studies curriculum

      The open source science curriculum saved the district about $3.3 million. An open source social studies curriculum may post similar savings, with estimates at about $3.5-4 million, Gaddis said.

    • Open Data
      • Large Open-Source Data Set Released to Help Train Algorithms Spot Malware

        For the first time, a large dataset has been released by a security firm to help AI research and training of machine learning models that statically detect malware. The data set released by cybersecurity firm Endgame is called EMBER is a collection of more than a million representations of benign and malicious Windows-portable executable files. Hyrum Anderson, Endgame’s technical director of data science who worked on EMBER, says: “This dataset fills a void in the information security machine learning community: a benign/malicious dataset that is large, open and general enough to cover several interesting use cases. … [We] hope that the dataset, code and baseline model provided by EMBER will help invigorate machine learning research for malware detection, in much the same way that benchmark datasets have advanced computer vision research.”

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Open Source Innovation Could Put a 3D Bioprinter in Your Living Room

        3D bioprinting traditionally requires high-level expertise, proprietary technology and a five-figure investment. A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University setout to change all that. In a paper published earlier this month in HardwareX, the group released the design of a fully functional 3D bioprinter it built by altering a widely available desktop 3D machine. The team’s innovation could be a game changer in terms of the overall accessibility of bioprinting.

      • 3D Printing the SynDaver Open-Source Healthcare Mannequin

        As desktop 3D printers become more robust, reliable, and feature-rich, we are seeing a definite shift in professional use-cases from prototyping to producing final products.

      • Unlock & Talk: Open Source Bootloader & Modem

        Since [Tom Nardi] introduced Hackaday readers to postmarketOS, the team has made progress on compiling a standard bootloader for MediaTek System-on-Chip (SoC) processors. Many Android phones use the MIT-licensed Little Kernel as the base of their bootloader and then apply custom closed-source modifications. [McBitter] has worked to eliminate this closed-source code by porting Little Kernel to the MT6735P used in the Coolpad Modena 2. By understanding the modifications MediaTek used for this particular SoC, the postmarketOS team hopes to use their modified, open-source Little Kernel bootloader with other MediaTek-based devices. While progress has been difficult and attempts at using emulators to probe bootloader memory have failed, [McBitter] was able to decode the DRAM configuration settings by searching for a leaked portion of the configuration strings. Now that he can set up the DRAM, there should be few barriers to running Little Kernel.

  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • D.C. lawmaker who said Jews control the weather visits Holocaust Museum but leaves early

    “There’s nothing more powerful than visiting the Holocaust museum for understanding the culture of the Jewish community, and our concerns about anti-Semitism,” Glazer told an uninvited reporter who shadowed the tour.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Charles Gore, Founder Of World Hepatitis Alliance, To Head Medicines Patent Pool

      The Medicines Patent Pool announced today that it has appointed Charles Gore as new executive director. Gore is founder and former president of the World Hepatitis Alliance.

      [...]

      Also to be released by the MPP are the findings of its feasibility study on the potential expansion of its model to include patented medicines which are on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines.

      Gore, from the United Kingdom (as was Perry), was a former hepatitis C patient. In a 2010 post on the World Hepatitis Alliance website, he recounted his struggle with the illness first diagnosed in 1995.

      Gore was selected by the MPP Governance Board, headed by Marie-Paule Kieny, a French researcher and former senior official at the World Health Assembly.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • War Fever

      What happens when an unthinkable war meets an unbeatable case of war fever? Thanks to Russia-gate, unsubstantiated reports about the use of poison gas in Syria, and a slew of similar factoids and pseudo-scandals, the world may soon find out.

      In saner times, including during the Cold War at even its most heated, political leaders knew not to push a conflict with a rival nuclear power too far. After all, what was the point of getting into a fight in which everyone would lose?

    • Public Radio’s McCarthyite Smear of Black Activists Shows Danger of Russia Panic

      For over a year, outlets from FAIR (8/24/16) to TruthDig (1/7/17) to The Nation (8/7/17) to The Intercept (2/12/18) have been warning about the pitfalls of nonstop Russia Is Everywhere and Out to Get Us coverage. The Russians are “stoking discord” and “sowing unrest” and infiltrating online and real-life spaces with memes and rallies and disinformation, corporate media tell us. Did you share Russian disinfo? Twitter and Facebook will let you know. Did you buy into Russian “fake news”? CNN wants to find out. Russia is everywhere, and it’s important the media not only report this fact, but do so over and over and over again, until one is looking for the Russian menace in every interaction.

      This narrative, fueled by center-left outlets like MSNBC, Center for American Progress and Mother Jones, has reached its inevitable, sleazy nadir: the smearing of a black activist by an NPR affiliate for the crime of going on a Russian government–funded radio station a handful of times.

      Reporter Johnny Kauffman at WABE (4/18/18), an NPR affiliate in Atlanta, did a profile on black activists Anoa Changa and Eugene Puryear. But instead of using this opportunity to highlight the causes they’re fighting for, or the injustices that brought them to become activists, WABE used its considerable resources and influence to talk about, you guessed, Russian influence…

    • Of Animals and Monsters and Missiles over Damascus

      Alas, the world has always been, and still is, full of “monsters” and “animals.” And, since we are throwing around such epithets, we might as well give a couple of close-to-home examples of those qualifying behaviors.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Assange had ‘physical proof’ Russians didn’t hack DNC, Rohrabacher says

      Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, left a meeting with Julian Assange believing the WikiLeaks publisher had “physical proof” Russia didn’t supply his website with leaked Democratic National Committee emails it released during the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

      Mr. Rohrabacher made the comment in a interview with Breitbart Radio published online Thursday in which he spoke about his August 2017 visit to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

      Mr. Assange took up refuge in the diplomatic compound in 2012, and in 2016 his website began publishing sensitive DNC emails allegedly sourced by Russian state-sponsored hackers as part of an effort meant to help President Trump’s election campaign.

    • Assange has ‘physical proof’ Russia didn’t hack DNC – Congressman

      Russia did not provide WikiLeaks with Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 US presidential campaign and Julian Assange has physical evidence to prove it, says a Republican congressman who met with him.

    • Rohrabacher: Assange had ‘physical proof’ Russians didn’t hack DNC

      Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, left a meeting with Julian Assange believing the WikiLeaks publisher had “physical proof” Russia didn’t supply his website with leaked Democratic National Committee emails it released during the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

  • Finance
    • Florida Moves to Shut Down For-Profit Residence After Finding Horrific Abuse and Neglect

      After another patient died under suspicious circumstances and reports surfaced of more instances of abuse and neglect, Florida regulators moved this week to shutter a for-profit school and residential campus for children and adults with severe developmental disabilities.

      The action Tuesday by Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities came after years of complaints that patients at the Carlton Palms Educational Center were violently mistreated by staff and subjected to physical restraints known as “wrap mats,” which resemble full-body straitjackets.

      Carlton Palms and its owner’s other facilities were the subject of a ProPublica investigation two years ago that chronicled the deaths of three teenaged patients, patterns of abuse and neglect, and company executives’ often-successful efforts to stave off regulation.

    • Canadian opposition to Nafta’s chapter 11 gives Trudeau leeway

      Canadians urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to concede on a U.S. demand in Nafta negotiations around investor disputes, while holding firm on calls for more environmental and labor protection.

      The most frequent advice the government heard in public consultations before North American Free Trade Agreement talks opened in August was to eliminate Chapter 11, the part of the pact that deals with investor-state dispute settlement, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg News through a freedom of information request. The government began the consultation process last year by asking for written submissions from the public after the U.S. gave notice it wanted to renegotiate the 24-year-old agreement.

      [...]

      Some of Trudeau’s other progressive ideas for Nafta aren’t very popular. While 29 submissions wanted environmental protection and another 21 sought better labor rules, there was far less support for Trudeau’s call for chapters on gender and indigenous rights.

      Priorities expressed during the consultations also included modernizing Nafta for the digital age, boosting labor and environment protections, cutting red tape and ensuring a free market in government procurement, according to the 1,400 pages of documents, which also showed support for adding restrictions, such as tougher rules against exports of water and energy and to bar tobacco companies from suing governments.

    • A Developers Aims to Bring Bitcoin Payments for Retail By Integrating Lightning Network With NFC Technology

      One of the key areas where Bitcoin developers are working with all efforts is solving the scalability issue of the Bitcoin network. Lightning Network is the widely proposed solution in solving Bitcoin’s capability issue that allows for transactions to be taken off the Bitcoin blockchain thereby freeing up huge space in the Bitcoin network.

      While that developers have been actively working on the Lightning Network, they are also experimenting with other designs that make the payment system easier to use. Developer Igor Costa has recently submitted a proposal to standardize a way of connecting the Lightning Network with the Near-Field-Communication (NFC) technology. The developer claims that it could make the transactions seeds very fast making Bitcoin available for everyday retail payments.

      NFC is currently one of the widely used technology for contactless payments that lets the user pay for the item just by holding the smartphone a few inches away from the device it is paying to. NFC-based payments have become widely popular across Asia and Europe and can be made using not only smartphones but also using chips embedded in the payment cards.

    • What’s the Difference Between Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and Others?

      Despite their names, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Diamond, Bitcoin Private, and others are not the same thing as Bitcoin. They’re based on Bitcoin, and are piggybacking on its name, but they’re different things. Here’s how to know which Bitcoin variant is which.

      Bitcoin is a decentralized cryptocurrency based on open source code. Anyone can take the code, modify it, and release their own version. That’s exactly how these other coins were created.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • The UK Refused To Raid A Company Suspected Of Money Laundering, Citing Its Tory Donations

      The British government refused to assist a French investigation into suspected money laundering and tax fraud by the UK telecoms giant Lycamobile – citing the fact that the company is the “biggest corporate donor to the Conservative party” and gives money to a trust founded by Prince Charles.

      French prosecutors launched a major probe into the firm and arrested 19 people accused of using its accounts to launder money from organised criminal networks two years ago, after BuzzFeed News revealed its suspicious financial activities in the UK. But the Conservatives continued taking Lycamobile’s money – and it can now be revealed that the British authorities stonewalled a formal request from French prosecutors to carry out raids in London as part of the ongoing investigation.

      Confidential correspondence between British government officials and their French counterparts, shown to BuzzFeed News by a source in the UK, reveals that the French wanted British authorities to raid Lycamobile’s London headquarters last year and seize evidence as part of their investigation into money laundering and tax fraud by the company.

      In an official response dated 30 March 2017, a government official noted that Lycamobile is “a large multinational company” with “vast assets at their disposal” and would be “extremely unlikely to agree to having their premises searched”.

    • NYT: Don’t Be Progressive, Be a ‘Liberal’

      A New York Times op-ed by political scientist (and former Bob Kerrey aide) Greg Weiner (7/13/18) may well be the New York Times–iest op-ed ever.

      Its ostensible subject is why Democrats should call themselves “liberals” and not “progressives.” But in making that case, it hits most of the main points of the New York Times‘ ideology—one that has guided the paper since the late 19th century.

      First and foremost, it’s a defense of the status quo. “The basic premise of liberal politics,” Weiner writes, “is the capacity of government to do good, especially in ameliorating economic ills.” But not too much good, mind you: “A liberal can believe that government can do more good or less,” he stresses. Weiner draws a contrast with progressives: “Where liberalism seeks to ameliorate economic ills, progressivism’s goal is to eradicate them.”

      So Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society is cited negatively as an example of “a progressive effort to remake society by eradicating poverty’s causes”—in the process supporting “community action” and financing the “political activism”—presented without explanation as a self-evident evil. The explanation, presumably, is that the poor should remain passive as they remain poor, gratefully accepting the handouts that “alleviate” their plight, as “cutting checks,” as Weiner puts it, is “something government does competently.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • NSA reveals how it beats 0-days

      In the ongoing cat-and-mouse game between nation states and attackers, anyone with something to protect has less time than ever to shore up their defenses.

      At this week’s RSA conference in San Francisco, Dave Hogue, technical director of the US National Security Agency (NSA), reviewed the organization’s best practices for defense – one of which is to “harden to best practices,” as the NSA often sees attacks against their systems within 24 hours of a new vulnerability being disclosed or discovered in the wild.

    • Mosque shooter’s search history shouldn’t be a cause for online censorship: expert

      Alexandre Bissonnette had scoured Twitter for right-wing commentators, conspiracy theorists, and white supremacists in the weeks before he killed six men inside a Quebec City mosque.

      The revelation at his sentencing hearing this week has raised questions about whether Canada is tough enough on online hate speech.

    • Facebook Is Using Dark Patterns To Undermine EU Privacy Rules

      GDPR, a new European privacy law, means users must explicitly give permission for most data collection. Facebook would like you to give them that permission.

      Lucky for Facebook they’re very good at getting people to do what they want. We talked last week about how tech companies use Dark Patterns to trick you, designing things to subtly push people into doing what benefits them.

    • A Tale of Two Poorly Designed Cross-Border Data Access Regimes

      On Tuesday, the European Commission published two legislative proposals that could further cement an unfortunate trend towards privacy erosion in cross-border state investigati­ons. Building on a foundation first established by the recently enacted U.S. CLOUD Act, these proposals compel tech companies and service providers to ignore critical privacy obligations in order to facilitate easy access when facing data requests from foreign governments. These initiatives collectively signal the increasing willingness of states to sacrifice privacy as a way of addressing pragmatic challenges in cross-border access that could be better solved with more training and streamlined processes.

    • New York Judge Makes the Wrong Call on Stingray Secrecy

      A New York judge has ruled that the public and the judiciary shouldn’t second-guess the police when it comes to secret snooping on the public with intrusive surveillance technologies.

      He couldn’t be more wrong.

      A core part of EFF’s mission is questioning the decisions of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies over digital surveillance. We’ve seen too many cases where police have abused databases, hidden the use of invasive technologies, targeted people exercising their First Amendment rights, disparately burdened immigrants and people of color, and captured massive amounts of unnecessary information on innocent people.

      We’re outraged about New York Judge Shlomo Hager’s recent ruling against the New York Civil Liberties Union in a public records case. The judge upheld the New York Police Department’s decision to withhold records about its purchases of cell-site simulator equipment (colloquially known as Stingrays), including the names of surveillance products and how much they cost taxpayers.

    • Hearing Monday in Groundbreaking Lawsuit Over Border Searches of Laptops and Smartphones

      EFF and ACLU Fight Government’s Move to Dismiss Case

      Boston – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will appear in federal court in Boston Monday, fighting the U.S. government’s attempts to block their lawsuit over illegal laptop and smartphone searches at the country’s borders.

      The case, Alasaad v. Nielsen, was filed last fall on behalf of 10 U.S. citizens and one lawful permanent resident who had their digital devices searched without a warrant. The lawsuit challenges the government’s fast-growing practice of searching travelers’ electronics at airports and other border crossings—often confiscating the items for weeks or months at a time—without any individualized suspicion that a traveler has done anything wrong.

    • France Testing Out Special Encrypted Messenger For Gov’t Officials As It Still Seeks To Backdoor Everyone Else’s Encryption

      The French government has been pushing for a stupid “backdoors” policy in encryption for quite some time. A couple years ago, following various terrorist attacks, there was talk of requiring backdoors to encrypted communications, and there was even a bill proposed that would jail execs who refused to decrypt data. Current President Emmanuel Macron has come out in favor of backdoors as well, even as he’s a heavy user of Telegram (which isn’t considered particularly secure encryption in the first place).

    • No boundaries for Facebook data: third-party trackers abuse Facebook Login

      So far in the No boundaries series, we’ve uncovered how web trackers exfiltrate identifying information from web pages, browser password managers, and form inputs.

    • ‘Facebook Login’ Feature Abused By Third-Party Trackers To Steal Data

      A new investigation reports that Facebook’s Login feature can be used to steal user information when you sign into third-party websites using your Facebook ID. This loophole allows many advertising and analytics services to harvest data for ad-targeting.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Chicago’s Gang Database Is Full of Errors — And Records We Have Prove It

      During January 1984, the Chicago Police Department labeled more than 700 people as suspected gang members following arrests for various crimes.

      One was in his early 30s and identified as a member of the Black P Stones.

      By last fall, nearly 34 years later, that individual was 77 — and still in what police commonly refer to as the department’s “gang database.”

      In fact, the 77-year-old was one of 163 people in their 70s or 80s in the database, which now includes information about 128,000 people and counting, according to records I obtained through a series of requests under the state Freedom of Information Act.

    • In Its Zeal to Deport Immigrants, the Justice Department Scraps Due Process

      In the past month, the Department of Justice has issued a series of stunningly senseless, wasteful, and cruel immigration policies. It ended a program to notify immigrants of their rights in deportation cases. It set an arbitrary and unreasonable quota for immigration judges. It enabled judges to make asylum decisions without a hearing. And it doubled down on a failed “zero tolerance” policy that aims to prosecute everyone accused of crossing the border without authorization.

    • Unsealed Warrant Shows FBI Investigated Michael Hayden For Leaking Info To Journalists

      And it is a very thin lead. All that’s included in the warrant affidavit [PDF] is the fact that Hayden engaged in email conversations with two unnamed reporters a total of 30 times in 18 months. Given his position, it’s surprising it didn’t happen more often. Officials are always contacted by reporters when writing about subjects/programs/etc. they oversee. In the affidavit, the special agent notes many of these contacts were to “confirm quotes” to be used in published articles and books.

      The inquiry here apparently centered on news of the Stuxnet virus and the US’s involvement in the cyberattack. The only quote about Stuxnet attributed to Hayden was fairly innocuous, stating only that this was the first time a cyberattack had been used to “effect physical destruction.”

    • On the Criminal Referral of Comey, Clinton et al: Will the Constitution Hold and the Media Continue to Suppress the Story?

      Ray McGovern reports on a major development in the Russia-gate story that has been ignored by corporate media: a criminal referral to the DOJ against Hillary Clinton, James Comey and others, exposing yet again how established media suppresses news it doesn’t like–about as egregious an example of unethical journalism as there is.

    • The War On Whistleblowers Claims Another Casualty

      Another whistleblower will be going to jail. Thanks to the application of the Espionage Act, former FBI special agent Terry Albury wasn’t able to defend his leaking of FBI internal documents to journalists (most likely The Intercept) by claiming he leaked to expose noxious FBI tactics and behavior. Defenses predicated on public interest aren’t allowed in Espionage Act trials, meaning Albury’s decision to plead guilty is there to limit the number of years he’ll spend incarcerated, rather than an indication his leaks were meant to harm the government.

      Albury’s attorneys released this statement to the Columbia Journalism Review shortly after his court hearing.

    • Court’s Ruling Holding Kobach in Contempt Is Well-Deserved

      The time is up for Kobach to follow the law.

      In a scathing decision issued on Wednesday evening, a federal judge held Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in contempt for repeatedly and willfully disobeying court orders that he comply with federal voting rights law.

      The contempt ruling by Chief Judge Julie Robinson, who was appointed by George W. Bush, follows years of attempts by Kobach to evade, undermine, or ignore the court’s directive that he register and notify all eligible voters in accordance with the National Voter Registration Act. The judge lambasted Kobach for his “history of noncompliance and disrespect for the Court’s decisions in this case.”

    • FBI Whistleblower Convicted of Leaking Documents in “Act of Conscience”

      In Minnesota, an FBI whistleblower who leaked classified information about how the bureau aggressively targets potential informants pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of unauthorized disclosure. Terry J. Albury, who was the only African-American agent at the FBI’s field office in Minneapolis, called his leaks an “an act of conscience” aimed at calling out racism at the bureau. He faces up to 10 years in prison, but is likely to receive less than 5 under a plea deal.

    • ‘We Need to Change the Rules for When Police Can Shoot’

      Janine Jackson: Amy Hughes was not suspected of a crime. She was standing still, outside of her home in Tucson, holding a kitchen knife by her side. Three police officers, responding to a “check welfare” call about a woman hacking at a tree, arrived and saw Hughes’ roommate, Sharon Chadwick, in the yard, and Hughes some six feet away from her. An officer yelled at Hughes to drop the knife. It’s not clear whether she heard.

      Neither two of the three officers called to the scene, nor Chadwick herself, felt that Hughes was threatening. The third cop, Andrew Kisela, felt differently, and without warning shot Hughes four times through a chain-link fence. She survived, and did not go quietly, suing for the violation of her Fourth Amendment rights. The Supreme Court, however, has just ruled that Kisela can’t be sued, that he’s covered by something called “qualified immunity.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • A Little Help for Our Friends

      In periods like this one, when governments seem to ignore the will of the people as easily as companies violate their users’ trust, it’s important to draw strength from your friends. EFF is glad to have allies in the online freedom movement like the Internet Archive. Right now, donations to the Archive will be matched automatically by the Pineapple Fund.

      Founded 21 years ago by Brewster Kahle, the Internet Archive’s mission is to provide free and universal access to knowledge through its vast digital library. Their work has helped capture the massive—yet now too often ephemeral—proliferation of human creativity and knowledge online. Popular tools like the Wayback Machine have allowed people to do things like view deleted and altered webpages and recover public statements to hold officials accountable.

      EFF and the Internet Archive have stood together in a number of digital civil liberties cases. We fought back when the Archive became the recipient of a National Security Letter, a tool often used by the FBI to force Internet providers and telecommunications companies to turn over the names, addresses, and other records about their customers, and frequently accompanied by a gag order. EFF and the Archive have worked together to fight threats to free expression, online innovation, and the free flow of information on the Internet on numerous occasions. We have even collaborated on community gatherings like EFF’s own Pwning Tomorrow speculative fiction launch and the recent Barlow Symposium exploring EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow’s philosophy of the Internet.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • How China became a leader in intellectual property

      As the tit-for-tat trade war between China and the United States escalates, you might be forgiven for assuming that intellectual property (IP) rights and protections barely exist in China. Yet, despite its reputation as an inveterate bootlegger, trademark squatter and state sponsor of corporate espionage, China is on course to becoming an IP powerhouse.

      “Over the past decade, China has demonstrated serious resolve to enforce an effective IP rights regime, and to bring the system in line with other developed systems in the US and Europe,” says Xingye Huang, associate at trademark and patent attorneys Abel & Imray. Indeed, China is on track to achieving its 2020 strategic goal laid out in 2008 of attaining a comparatively high level in terms of the creation, utilisation, protection and administration of IP rights.

      [...]

      According to the latest figures from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) from 2015, China filed the most patents of any country worldwide. In 2017, Chinese companies registered more than 1.3 million patents,

    • ABA Provides Guidance on Required Disclosure of Attorney Errors

      On April 17th, the American Bar Association provided a formal opinion regarding the requirement that attorneys disclose errors to clients. Its opinion was based on Rule 1.4 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which governs communications with clients. The ABA concluded that attorneys have a duty to disclose material errors to clients, but no duty to disclose errors to former clients. In this context, an error is material if a disinterested attorney would believe that the error would likely cause harm or prejudice to the client, or that the error would reasonably cause a client to consider terminating the practitioner’s representation — even if there would be no prejudice to the client.

    • Public interest in Plant Variety Rights. How high is the bar for the grant of a compulsory license?

      On 16 March 2017, the Office received an application for a compulsory licence by Pixley Berries (Juice) Limited ( “the applicant”) pursuant to Article 29 of Council Regulation (EC) No 2100/94 of 27 July 1994 on Community plant variety rights (Basic Regulation) (the Council Regulation (EC) No 2100/94 of 27 July 1994),.

    • Invention Disclosure to In-House Counsel Privileged

      Is an invention disclosure submitted by an inventor to an in-house attorney for procurement of a patent covered by attorney-client privilege? The Central District of California held in The California Institute of Technology v. Broadcom Limited, et al., No. CV 16-3714-GW (C.D. Cal. Mar. 19, 2018) that invention disclosures sent to in-house attorneys are covered by attorney-client privilege.

    • Coffin Patent Lives on after IPR

      The Federal Circuit agreed with the Patent Trial & Appeal Board that the claim language “form a casket body” was a structural limitation, not an intended use, and affirmed the final written decision of PTAB finding that the inter parte review petitioner failed to demonstrate that the claims were unpatentable. Matthews International Corp. v. Vandor Corp. (Fed. Cir., decided March 27, 2018).

    • Women have worse outcomes in virtually all respects when it comes to securing US patent rights, study finds

      Not only do women inventors submit far fewer US patent applications than men, but they also have much greater difficulty in obtaining and maintaining rights, a new study has revealed. The first-of-its-kind research found that female applicants are more likely to have their applications rejected and less likely to appeal these rejections. Women also had fewer claims allowed on average, while their granted patents received fewer citations and were less likely to be maintained.

      [...]

      Women with rarer names were significantly less disadvantaged than those with common names when it came to having their applications accepted. Future applicants also cited the patents of women with common names 30% less often than the patents of men with common names; in contrast, women with rare names had their patents cited 20% more than the patents of men with rare names.

    • India moves towards Form 27 reform

      India’s Patent Office is gathering input on reforming Form 27. IP practitioners hope changes to the burdensome statement regarding the working of the patented invention will come this year

    • Trademarks
      • Last Minute Trademark Infringement Claims Do Not “Ferryboat” Pendent Venue for Patent Infringement Claims

        The court granted one defendant’s alternative motion to transfer plaintiff’s claims against it for improper venue and rejected plaintiff’s attempt to establish pendent venue by asserting trademark claims in its amended complaint.

      • Caymus Vineyard Sues Caymus Builders Because It Built Some Buildings For Its Wine Business

        Look, trademark law can be confusing. If you’re not spending some significant portion of your life either practicing trademark law or writing about trademark law, you might misunderstand how it works. In particular, the requirement for entities to be in the same business or market often times trips people up, with them either not realizing that this provision exists for there to be trademark infringement in most cases, or else not understanding exactly what it means to be competing in the same marketplace.

      • Napa’s Caymus Vineyards sues Sonoma’s Caymus companies for trademark infringement

        The name “Caymus” has become familiar to Sonomans under a different context than the name holds in neighboring Napa Valley.

        And that, says Caymus Vineyards in Napa, is grounds for a lawsuit.

        According to a filing in San Francisco’s U.S. District Court, dated March 2, Sonoma’s Caymus Capital is being sued, along with other related parties, by Caymus Vineyards of Napa.

        The suit cites the defendants’ “unauthorized and unlawful use of Plaintiff’s famous, incontestable federal trademark registration for the mark ‘Caymus’ and Plaintiff’s corporate and trade name ‘Caymus Vineyards.’”

    • Copyrights
      • German FCJ declares AdBlock Plus legal

        Germany’s Federal Court of Justice has today decided in a year-long dispute between the German news publisher Axel-Springer-Verlag and Eyeo, the Cologne-based company behind AdBlock Plus.

      • Dear Canada: Accessing Publicly Available Information on the Internet Is Not a Crime

        Canadian authorities should drop charges against a 19-year-old Canadian accused of “unauthorized use of a computer service” for downloading thousands of public records hosted and available to all on a government website. The whole episode is an embarrassing overreach that chills the right of access to public records and threatens important security research.

        At the heart of the incident, as reported by CBC news this week, is the Nova Scotian government’s embarrassment over its own failure to protect the sensitive data of 250 people who used the province’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request their own government files. These documents were hosted on the government web server that also hosted public records containing no personal information. Every request hosted on the server contained very similar URLs, which differed only in a single document ID number at the end of the URL. The teenager took a known ID number, and then, by modifying the URL, retrieved and stored all of the FOIA documents available on the Nova Scotia FOIA website.

      • Publisher Helps To Keep Sci-Hub In The Public Eye By Trying To Bully It Into Submission Using Ineffectual Legal Remedies

        As Techdirt has pointed out a number of times, attacking the huge free online repository of academic papers, Sci-Hub, is wrong from a number of viewpoints. It’s wrong because Sci-Hub is not a site aiming to profit from the labor of others, but is simply trying to make knowledge accessible to everyone. That’s also what academic publishers like to claim they are doing, except that strangely many of the largest end up with profit margins of 30%-40%, and the papers aren’t accessible to all, just to those rich enough to pay the “egregious price increases” that roll in every year. It’s wrong because most of the research published was paid for by the public through their taxes, who surely ought to be able to access it from convenient repositories that are as easy to use as Sci-Hub. It’s also provided free of charge for publishers to repackage, often with few changes. And yet the latter want people to pay again, typically $30 for a single article.

      • Of Course The RIAA Would Find A Way To Screw Over The Public In ‘Modernizing’ Copyright

        I haven’t had a chance to write much about the latest attempt to update copyright law in the US, under the title of the “Music Modernization Act,” but in part that was because Congress did something amazing: it came up with a decent solution to modernizing some outdated aspects of copyright law, that almost everyone agreed were pretty decent ideas for improvement. The crux of the bill was making music licensing easier and much clearer, which is very much needed, giving what a complete shit show music licensing is today.

        There was a chance to have this actually create a nice solution that would help artists, help online music services and generally make more works available to the public. It was a good thing. But… leave it to the RIAA to fuck up a good thing. You see, with there being pretty much universal support for the Music Modernization Act, the RIAA stepped in and pushed for it to be combined with a different copyright reform, known as the “CLASSICS Act.”

Links 19/4/2018: Mesa 17.3.9 and 18.0.1, Trisquel 8.0 LTS Flidas, Elections for openSUSE Board

Thursday 19th of April 2018 02:56:13 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Open-source library for improving security of AI systems

    Attacks against neural networks have recently been flagged as one of the biggest dangers in our modern world where AI systems are increasingly getting embedded in many technologies we use and depend on daily.

    Adversaries can sometimes tamper with them even if they don’t know much about them, and “breaking” the system could result in very dangerous consequences.

    [...]

    The library is written in Python, as it is the most commonly used programming language for developing, testing and deploying Deep Neural Networks.

  • IBM launches open-source library for securing AI systems

    On Tuesday at the RSA conference in San Francisco, IBM announced the launch of the Adversarial Robustness Toolbox to support developers and users of AI that may become the victims of attacks against AI systems including Deep Neural Networks (DNNs).

    According to the tech giant, threat actors may be able to exploit weaknesses in AI systems through very subtle means. Simple, small, and often undetectable alterations in content including images, video, and audio recordings can be crafted to confuse AI systems, even without a deep knowledge of the AI or DNN a cyberattack is targeting.

  • IBM releases new toolbox to protect AI from adversarial attacks

    IBM is releasing an open-source software library to combat against adversarial attacks in deep neural networks (DNNs). DNNs are machine learning models that are capable of recognizing patterns.

  • Build a serverless framework at home: Go on, bit of open sourcey hijinx won’t hurt

    First unveiled at SpringOne Platform in December, riff is still an early project. It emerged from the Spring Cloud Data Flow, a data integration project to run Java code as microservices created under Pivotal’s open source Java-focused Spring framework.

    “Riff is the next step in that evolution,” says Jürgen Leschner, a riff organiser who works at Pivotal. Instead of running microservices that persist in containers, serverless models hide the containers from the developers and operations teams entirely. Instead, when a developer calls a software function, the container orchestration system (in riff’s case, Kubernetes) spins one up and then kills it off silently.

    [...]

    The benefits of open source serverless

    What do these open source serverless options bring to the party? Unless you’re using them to slurp services on the AWS platform and minimise container fees by weeding out idle compute power, why bother?

    Efficiency for developers is one driver, says Leschner. “Developers don’t have to worry about building the connectors and boilerplate stuff into their code. They can package a simpler project and the boilerplate is already in the platform.”

  • How will the GDPR impact open source communities?

    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was approved by the EU Parliament on April 14, 2016, and will be enforced beginning May 25, 2018. The GDPR replaces the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC which was designed “to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy.”

    The aim of the GDPR is to protect the personal data of individuals in the EU in an increasingly data-driven world.

  • 3 tips for organizing your open source project’s workflow on GitHub

    Managing an open source project is challenging work, and the challenges grow as a project grows. Eventually, a project may need to meet different requirements and span multiple repositories. These problems aren’t technical, but they are important to solve to scale a technical project. Business process management methodologies such as agile and kanban bring a method to the madness. Developers and managers can make realistic decisions for estimating deadlines and team bandwidth with an organized development focus.

  • Prospects for free software in cars

    Car manufacturers, like most companies, navigate a narrow lane between the benefits of using free and open-source software and the perceived or real importance of hiding their trade secrets. Many are using free software in some of the myriad software components that make up a modern car, and even work in consortia to develop free software. At the recent LibrePlanet conference, free-software advocate Jeremiah Foster covered progress in the automotive sector and made an impassioned case for more free software in their embedded systems. Foster has worked in automotive free software for many years and has played a leading role in the GENIVI Alliance, which is dedicated to incorporating free software into in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems. He is currently the community manager for the GENIVI Alliance.

    First, Foster talked about the importance of software in modern vehicles. He pointed out that software increasingly becomes the differentiator used to market cars. Horsepower no longer sells these vehicles, Foster says—features do. He claims that some companies even sell the car at cost (the old “razor/blades” or “printer/ink” business model) and make their money on aftermarket apps and features. Companies are finding it effective to get hardware from other manufacturers while improving the user experience through their software. Some of these features contribute to safety (such as alerts that help you drive within the lane or parallel park), and some may be critical, such dashboard icons that warn the driver of electrical system problems or low brake fluid.

  • Productising open source integration

    We asked Lumina Networks’ CEO Andrew Coward, how companies can make best use of open source. “Open source is not a spectator sport,” says Andrew. “Sitting around and waiting for somebody to show up and deliver the equivalent of your existing vendor’s offering is not the right approach. So we work best when our customers are very engaged. And really, it’s all about how you automate things.”

  • Riot: A Distributed Way of Having IRC and VOIP Client and Home Server

    Riot is a free and open source decentralized instant messaging application that can be considered an alternative to Slack. We take a look at features of Riot, installation procedure and usage.

    It’s surprising that many Linux users and open source projects use a proprietary messaging service like Slack. Even we at It’s FOSS use Slack for our internal communication which I don’t like. This is why I came up with the proposal of using an open source alternative to Slack, called Riot.

  • Announcing the 2018 Fractal Hackfest

    For the past few months, I’ve been contributing to a new group messaging app called Fractal. Its aim is to be so good that we can maybe, eventually, finally replace IRC as the primary communication channel for GNOME development.

  • Events
    • Rust loves GNOME Hackfest: Day 1

      This is a report of the first day of the Rust loves GNOME Hackfest that we are having in Madrid at the moment. During the first day we had a round of introductions and starting outlining the state of the art.

    • Madrid GNOME+Rust Hackfest, part 1

      I’m in Madrid since Monday, at the third GNOME+Rust hackfest! The OpenShine folks are kindly letting us use their offices, on the seventh floor of a building by the Cuatro Caminos roundabout.

      I am very, very thankful that this time everyone seems to be working on developing gnome-class. It’s a difficult project for me, and more brainpower is definitely welcome — all the indirection, type conversion, GObject obscurity, and procedural macro shenanigans definitely take a toll on oneself.

    • Five days left

      I use to joke that the last week before foss-north is the worst – everything is done, all that is left is the stress.

    • KubeCon + CloudnativeCon Europe 2018

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s flagship conference will be taking place in Copenhagen from May 2-4. It will cover Kubernetes, Prometheus OpenTracing, Fluentd, Linkerd, gRPC, CoreDNS, and other key technologies in cloud native computing.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
    • Mozilla
      • No-Judgment Digital Definitions: App vs Web App

        Just when you think you’ve got a handle on this web stuff, things change. The latest mixup? Apps vs Web Apps. An app should be an app no matter what, but there is a difference between the two. Let’s find out what it is.

      • Friend of Add-ons: Viswaprasath Ks

        Please meet our newest Friend of Add-ons, Viswaprasanth Ks! Viswa began contributing to Mozilla in January 2013, when he met regional community members while participating in a Firefox OS hackathon in Bangalore, India. Since then, he has been a member of the Firefox Student Ambassador Board, a Sr. Firefox OS app reviewer, and a Mozilla Rep and Tech Speaker.

        In early 2017, Viswa began developing extensions for Firefox using the WebExtensions API. From the start, Viswa wanted to invite his community to learn this framework and create extensions with him. At community events, he would speak about extension development and help participants build their first extensions. These presentations served as a starting point for creating the Activate campaign “Build Your Own Extension.” Viswa quickly became a leader in developing the campaign and testing iterations with a variety of different audiences. In late 2017, he collaborated with community members Santosh Viswanatham and Trishul Goel to re-launch the campaign with a new event flow and more learning resources for new developers.

      • Virtual Reality at the Intersection of Art & Technology

        This is the second video in our four part series around creators, virtual reality, and the open web. As we laid out in the opening post of this series, virtual reality is more than a technology, and it is far more than mere eye-candy. VR is an immensely powerful tool that is honed and developed every day. In the hands of a creator, that tool has the potential to transport audiences into new worlds and provide new perspectives.

      • Hello wasm-pack!

        As Lin Clark emphasizes in her article about Rust and WebAssembly: the goal of WebAssembly is not to replace JavaScript, but to be an awesome tool to use with JavaScript. Lots of amazing work has been done to simplify crossing the language boundary between JavaScript and WebAssembly, and you can read all about that in Alex Crichton’s post on wasm-bindgen. This post focuses on a different type of JavaScript/Rust integration: package ecosystem and developer workflows.

      • Firefox Performance Update #6

        These updates are going to shift format slightly. I’m going to start by highlighting the status of some of the projects the Firefox Performance Team (the front-end team working to make Firefox snappy AF), and then go into the grab-bag list of improvements that we’ve seen landing in the tree.

      • Announcing cargo src (beta)

        cargo src is a new tool for exploring your Rust code. It is a cargo plugin which runs locally and lets you navigate your project in a web browser. It has syntax highlighting, jump to definition, type on hover, semantic search, find uses, find impls, and more.

      • Things Gateway – Series 2, Episode 1
      • Firefox Data engineering newsletter Q1 / 2018

        As the Firefox data engineering teams we provide core tools for using data to other teams. This spans from collection through Firefox Telemetry, storage & processing in our Data Platform to making data available in Data Tools.

        [...]

        Most centrally, the Telemetry portal is now the main entry point to our tools, documentation and other resources. When working with Firefox data you will find all the important tools linked from there.

      • Working for Good: Metalwood Salvage of Portland

        The web should be open to everyone, a place for unbridled innovation, education, and creative expression. That’s why Firefox fights for Net Neutrality, promotes online privacy rights, and supports open-source tech around the globe. We strive to make the online community a better place. We also know people everywhere work tirelessly to improve their own communities. In this series, we’re profiling businesses that work to make the world better—and use Firefox to support a healthy, open, and safe internet.

      • It’s time to give Firefox a fresh chance

        After spending some quality time comparing the actual experience of using Chrome, Safari, and Firefox across a variety of websites, I’m confident in saying browser benchmarks are profoundly uninformative. The truth is that performance differences are not substantial enough to be noticed. If anything, you’re most likely to clash with “only works in Chrome” incompatibilities, but that’s kind of the whole reason for me to avoid Chrome: someone has to keep using the alternatives so as to give them a reason to exist.

  • BSD
    • LLVM Is Playing A Big Role With Vulkan/SPIR-V Compilers

      The usage of LLVM as part of the graphics driver stack continues to be picked up now especially in the Vulkan/SPIR-V world.

      With the new NVIDIA 396 driver series there is their new “NVVM” compiler stack for SPIR-V, the IR used by Vulkan and OpenCL and now can be consumed by OpenGL 4.6 too.

    • OpenBSD on my fanless desktop computer

      I’ve been using OpenBSD on servers for years as a web developer, but never had a chance to dive in to system administration before. If you appreciate the simplicity of OpenBSD and you have to give it a try on your desktop.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • ‘No Company Is So Important Its Existence Justifies Setting Up a Police State’

      You’re talking about very — about specific manifestations, and in some cases in ways that presuppose a weak solution.

      What is data privacy? The term implies that if a company collects data about you, it should somehow protect that data. But I don’t think that’s the issue. I think the problem is that it collects data about you period. We shouldn’t let them do that.

      I won’t let them collect data about me. I refuse to use the ones that would know who I am. There are unfortunately some areas where I can’t avoid that. I can’t avoid even for a domestic flight giving the information of who I am. That’s wrong. You shouldn’t have to identify yourself if you’re not crossing a border and having your passport checked.

      With prescriptions, pharmacies sell the information about who gets what sort of prescription. There are companies that find this out about people. But they don’t get much of a chance to show me ads because I don’t use any sites in a way that lets them know who I am and show ads accordingly.

      So I think the problem is fundamental. Companies are collecting data about people. We shouldn’t let them do that. The data that is collected will be abused. That’s not an absolute certainty, but it’s a practical, extreme likelihood, which is enough to make collection a problem.

      A database about people can be misused in four ways. First, the organization that collects the data can misuse the data. Second, rogue employees can misuse the data. Third, unrelated parties can steal the data and misuse it. That happens frequently, too. And fourth, the state can collect the data and do really horrible things with it, like put people in prison camps. Which is what happened famously in World War II in the United States. And the data can also enable, as it did in World War II, Nazis to find Jews to kill.

      In China, for example, any data can be misused horribly. But in the U.S. also, you’re looking at a CIA torturer being nominated to head the CIA, and we can’t assume that she will be rejected. So when you put this together with the state spying that Snowden told us about, and with the Patriot Act that allows the FBI to take almost any database of personal data without even talking to a court. And what you see is, for companies to have data about you is dangerous.

      And I’m not interested in discussing the privacy policies that these companies have. First of all, privacy policies are written so that they appear to promise you some sort of respect for privacy, while in fact having such loopholes that the company can do anything at all. But second, the privacy policy of the company doesn’t do anything to stop the FBI from taking all that data every week. Anytime anybody starts collecting some data, if the FBI thinks it’s interesting, it will grab that data.

      And we also know that the FBI and other such agencies are inclined to label protesters as terrorists. So that way they can use laws that were ostensibly adopted to protect us from terrorists to threaten a much larger number of us than any terrorist could.

    • Numerical Analysis Software Global Market Analysis & Forecast: Analytica, Matlab, GNU Octave, Plotly, FlexPro
  • Public Services/Government
    • German government moves to open source private cloud

      The German federal government is moving to an open source, self-hosted cloud platform from Nextcloud for file sync and sharing and collaboration, in order to protect the data of its citizens.

      The Federal Information Technology Center (ITZBund), which takes care of IT services for the entire federal government, has been running a pilot of 5000 users with Nextcloud since October 2016 and after a successful tender this will now be rolled out everywhere.

    • German government chooses Nextcloud for open-source files

      Nextcloud has revealed its new three-year contract which will consist of supplying the German federal government with its private, on-premises cloud platform.

    • Open source’s big German win: 300,000 users shift to Nextcloud for file sharing

      The German federal government has chosen local private cloud and open-source file-sync operator Nextcloud as its collaboration and file-sharing platform for 300,000 government users.

      Nextcloud arrived on Germany’s tech scene in 2016 after Frank Karlitschek, co-founder of the open source infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud program OwnCloud, forked the software to create a more open-source model.

    • German Government Chooses Open Source For Its Federal Cloud Solution

      It’s not hidden that apart from costing tons of money, the use of proprietary software also brings along hidden security caveats. These are the two primary reasons why the usage of open source software is being pushed in public agencies all around the world, especially in European countries.

    • Israeli Government Is Open Sourcing Its Software Code

      Just yesterday, we told you about German government’s decision to go ahead with an open source solution for creating its private cloud. The government announced a partnership with Nextcloud, which is a popular open source solutions provider.

      In another encouraging development for the open source enthusiasts, the Israeli government has decided to open source its software code. As a result, the released code will be available to public and free to reuse.

  • Programming/Development
    • A Taxonomy of Tech Debt

      Hi there. I’m Bill “LtRandolph” Clark, and I’m the engineering manager for the Champions team on LoL. I’ve worked on several different teams on League over the past years, but one focus has been consistent: I’m obsessed with tech debt. I want to find it, I want to understand it, and where possible, I want to fix it.

      When engineers talk about any existing piece of technology – for example League of Legends patch 8.4 – we often talk about tech debt. I define tech debt as code or data that future developers will pay a cost for. Countless blog posts, articles, and definitions have been written about this scourge of software development. This post will focus on types of tech debt I’ve seen during my time working at Riot, and a model for discussing it that we’re starting to use internally. If you only take away one lesson from this article, I hope you remember the “contagion” metric discussed below.

    • 6 Python datetime libraries

      Once upon a time, one of us (Lacey) had spent more than an hour staring at the table in the Python docs that describes date and time formatting strings. I was having a hard time understanding one specific piece of the puzzle as I was trying to write the code to translate a datetime string from an API into a Python datetime object, so I asked for help.

    • Is DevOps compatible with part-time community teams?
    • Intel Opens Up nGraph Source Code For DNN Model Compiler

      Intel tonight announced they are open-sourcing their nGraph compiler code, which serves as a framework-neutral deep neural network model compiler.

      Intel claims with nGraph and Xeon Scalable hardware that researchers can obtain up to 10x performance improvements over previous TensorFlow integrations, as one example. Besides TensorFlow, nGraph also supports PyTorch, MXNet, Neon, Caffe2, and CNTK while also planning to support other frameworks moving forward.

    • Why it’s finally time to give up on the name JavaScript

      An iOS developer has apparently received a cease and desist notice from Oracle over the use of the word “JavaScript” in the title of their app. The developer, Tyanya Software, shared the notice on perennial internet soapbox Reddit to seek advice on how to fight the order.

      [...]

      If user reviews are any indication, the app is not even particularly good, with reviewers stating things such as “Not ready for production,” “Does not work as advertised,” and “Waste of money, don’t buy this.” The last update to the app was in 2014, which the changelog notes was only an upgrade to add support for iOS 8. The app developer is at least honest about the intent behind the unwieldy name for the app, saying in a Reddit comment that “we game the App Store ranking by adding all the keywords to the app name.”

      While Oracle has a duty to protect their trademarks, this type of legal bludgeoning underscores a historical problem that has been left unaddressed for too long: JavaScript is a terrible name for the thing being described.

      It has nothing to do with Java, an actual product developed by Sun (now owned by Oracle). JavaScript was developed at Mozilla, and the name was changed during beta releases of Netscape Navigator 2.0 from “LiveScript” to “JavaScript.” It has, for some time, caused confusion among casual web users about the difference between Java and JavaScript. Given that ECMAScript is also a trademarked term, it seems best to revert to calling the language “LiveScript” to undercut trademark-related legal posturing.

      [...]

      Oracle declined to comment on this story.

    • New PyPI launched

      The new PyPI has been launched. Browser traffic and API calls (including “pip install”) have been redirected from the old pypi.python.org to the new site. The old PyPI will shut down on April 30. LWN covered the new PyPI last week.

    • Pip 10.0 has been released

      The release of pip 10.0 has been announced. Some highlights of this release include the removal of Python 2.6 support, limited PEP 518 support (with more to come), a new “pip config” command, and other improvements.

    • Understanding metrics and monitoring with Python
    • A new package index for Python

      The Python Package Index (PyPI) is the principal repository of libraries for the Python programming language, serving more than 170 million downloads each week. Fifteen years after PyPI launched, a new edition is in beta at pypi.org, with features like better search, a refreshed layout, and Markdown README files (and with some old features removed, like viewing GPG package signatures). Starting April 16, users visiting the site or running pip install will be seamlessly redirected to the new site. Two weeks after that, the legacy site is expected to be shut down and the team will turn toward new features; in the meantime, it is worth a look at what the new PyPI brings to the table.

    • Spyder – The Scientific Python IDE for Data Science

      I don’t know how many of our readers are research scientists, data analysts, etc. but today, we introduce an IDE that is ideal for Python development and it goes by the name of Spyder.

      Spyder is an Open Source IDE written in Python for Python development with a focus on research, data analysis, and scientific package creation. It boasts a well-planned User Interface with interactive options, customizable layouts, and toggle-able sections.

      Its features include a multi-language editor with automatic code completion, real-time code analysis, go-to definitions, etc. It also contains a history log, developer tools, a documentation viewer, a variable explorer, and an interactive console, among other perks.

Leftovers
  • Science
    • Rampage may stoke CRISPR fears, but scientists say it could be educational, too

      “In a sense, it’s flattering that Hollywood is interested in CRISPR technology enough to make it the premise of a movie,” Liu says. It’s even more flattering for scientists who are fans of the people in those movies. “If The Rock is really interested in learning more about CRISPR, you can tell him to reach out to me,” Liu adds. “I’m happy to give him a CRISPR lecture.”

  • Hardware
    • Facebook Is Working To Build Its Own Chips For Its Hardware Projects

      Facebook is following the footsteps of its fellow tech giants and planning to build its own chips. This move comes in the wake of recent efforts from Google, Apple, and Amazon reduce their reliance on Intel and Qualcomm.

    • Facebook is building a team to design its own chips
    • Facebook Is Forming a Team to Design Its Own Chips

      The postings didn’t make it clear what kind of use Facebook wants to put the chips to other than the broad umbrella of artificial intelligence. A job listing references “expertise to build custom solutions targeted at multiple verticals including AI/ML,” indicating that the chip work could focus on a processor for artificial intelligence tasks.

    • Digital remains should be treated like physical ones [iophk: “unlike most physical artifacts, storage devices lose data quickly without active maintenance up to and including regular migrations: magnetic loses in a matter of years, SSD loses in a matter of months”]

      To date, there has been little effort to build frameworks that ensure ethical usage of our internet activity for commercial purposes. However, new research from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) suggests that the guidelines used to manage human remains in archaeological exhibitions could be used as a framework to regulate the growing DAI industry, and make the commercial use of digital remains more ethical.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Goldman Sachs Analyst Asks Whether Curing Patients Is A Sustainable Business Model

      Pharma companies generally like to give the impression that their business is a win-win kind of thing: you get better, they get sales. But sometimes the mask slips, and the real strategy that lies behind the benevolent exterior is revealed. For example, back in 2014 we wrote about the CEO of Bayer, one of the biggest drug companies in the world, openly admitting it developed medicines for rich patients in the West that can pay high prices, not for those in places like India that need them just as much, but can’t afford them.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • A 10-Minute Trial, a Death Sentence: Iraqi Justice for ISIS Suspects

      Iraq is ramping up prosecutions of thousands of people accused of supporting the Islamic State, handing death sentences to workers, wives and fighters.

    • Return to Ward 17: Making peace with lost comrades

      I was the Iraq bureau chief for Reuters when Namir, 22, and Saeed, 40, were shot dead by a U.S. Apache helicopter on the streets of Baghdad on July 12, 2007, along with 10 other people. The attack grabbed global attention when WikiLeaks released classified U.S. military footage of the incident in 2010. The video, titled “Collateral Murder,” was viewed millions of times.

      I had planned to be in Iraq for the 10th anniversary, to apologise to Namir and Saeed’s families. Instead, unable to cope as the day approached, I was admitted to the Psychological Trauma Recovery Services inpatient unit at Melbourne’s Austin Health. It was my second admission to the facility, known as Ward 17, in less than a year.

    • Belgium Illegally Shipped 96 Tonnes of Sarin Precursor to Syria

      Knack and Syrian Archive reveal today that Belgian companies have violated EU sanctions against Syria, according to the summons of an upcoming lawsuit.

      Based on information found through the UN Comtrade database, freedom of information requests, and confirmed by the Belgian Customs, we can reveal that a criminal case regarding exports of chemicals to Syria has been opened in Antwerp Criminal Court. This case is brought by the Belgian Customs against three Flemish companies, one managing director and one manager, according to court press judge Roland Cassiers citing the summons.

      Since EU sanctions from September 2013 made export licences compulsory for the export of isopropanol to Syria in concentrations of 95% or higher, Syrian Archive and Knack can report that Belgian companies exported 96 tonnes of isopropanol, a sarin precursor, to Syria between 2014 and 2016.

    • How Social Media Built the Case for Trump’s Strike on Syria

      Social media has emerged as a key battleground in the U.S. and Russian media campaign to promote their sharply divergent accounts of chemical weapons in Syria.

      The intelligence assessments presented over the weekend by the United States and France to justify missiles strikes against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb relied to an unusual degree on information gleaned from open source material and social media. Russia, meanwhile, is mustering an army of internet trolls to shift blame for the chemical weapons attack.

    • ‘We are watching you’: Political killings shake Mexico election

      Magda Rubio had just launched her campaign for mayor of a small city in northern Mexico, when a chilling voice came through her cell phone. “Drop out,” the caller warned, “or be killed.”

    • Turkey’s anti-war protesters detained: ‘Everything is a crime’

      “It was 04:00 when the police came beating at my door. ‘Open up! Open up!’ they were shouting,” recalls Denizhan Eren, a 23-year-old college student.

      “As soon as I opened the door, they yelled ‘Lie down!’ They had huge guns and they were wearing balaclavas.”

      Denizhan is one of a number of students from Turkey’s prestigious Bogazici University who have been detained in Istanbul in recent weeks.

      In total 31 students have been detained. While 10 have been freed, eight have been released pending trial and another 13 students are still being held in pre-trial detention.

    • This is the First War Since the Iraq Invasion Where the World Hasn’t Heard From Julian Assange

      In the spring of 2003 when the US and UK commenced their illegal invasion of Iraq, there was no Wikileaks, a free man called Julian Assange was someone no one had heard of, alt-media did not exist and nor did social media as it is understood today.

      In a short 15 years a lot has changed. Independent online media has become a global force and social media allows people to share information and opinions with an ease, scope and impact that was previously unthinkable. News channels like CGTV, RT, Press-TV and Telesur have changed both the online, cable and satellite tv landscape and perhaps most importantly, since 2006 Julian Assange’s Wikileaks has brought to light, information that was never intended to see the light of day – all of which has exposed the lies, manipulation and violence behind the governments taking the world to illegal war after illegal war.

    • Out of 26 Major Editorials on Trump’s Syria Strikes, Zero Opposed

      A survey by FAIR of the top 100 papers in the US by circulation found not a single editorial board opposed to Trump’s April 13 airstrikes on Syria. Twenty supported the strikes, while six were ambiguous as to whether or not the bombing was advisable. The remaining 74 issued no opinion about Trump’s latest escalation of the Syrian war.

      This is fairly consistent with editorial support for Trump’s April 2017 airstrikes against the Syrian government, which saw only one editorial out of 47 oppose the bombing (FAIR.org, 4/11/17). The single paper of dissent from last year, the Houston Chronicle, didn’t publish an editorial on last week’s bombing.

      Seven of the top 10 newspapers by circulation—USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, Chicago Tribune, Newsday and Washington Post—supported the airstrikes. The New York Daily News and San Jose Mercury News offered no opinion, while the New York Times (4/13/18) was ambiguous—mostly lamenting the lack of congressional approval, but not saying that this meant the strikes were illegal or unwise. “Legislation should…set limits on a president’s ability to wage war against states like Syria,” is the Times’ conclusion. A complete list of editorials on the airstrikes can be viewed here.

    • How The Health Community Is Failing Julian Assange, The Victims Of The Douma Attacks, And Three Women Struggling To Feed Their Kids

      Around the world, people are getting sicker, and more and more are dying from entirely preventable causes. We have the answers to why, we just don’t have the will to stop it. In the first of a two part series, Dr Lissa Johnson looks at the greatest cause of global illness and death.

      The Lancet recently published an article identifying the single most important action that health professionals can take to promote “health for all”. The article’s recommendations draw on the findings of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has pinpointed the most pervasive cause of ill-health worldwide.

      However, scarcely a mainstream health professional in the Western world has heeded the advice of The Lancet or the WHA, which is curious. The Lancet is described by its publisher as the world’s leading independent medical journal. The paper’s author, David McCoy, is Professor of Global Public Health at Queen Mary University London, ranked as one of the top universities in the UK. The WHA is widely regarded as the highest health policy-setting body in the world.

    • Special Operations Forces Aiming to Expand

      The 2019 budget request for U.S. Special Operations Command — $13.6 billion — is 10% higher than the 2018 level and is the largest budget request ever submitted by US SOCOM.

      U.S. special operations forces, which are currently deployed in 90 countries, have more than doubled in size from 33,000 personnel in 2001 to around 70,000 personnel in early 2018. Next year’s budget, if approved, would make them larger still.

    • Senior Civil Servants Still Deeply Sceptical of Russian Responsibility for Skripal Poisoning

      Well-placed FCO sources tell me it remains the case that senior civil servants in both the FCO and Home Office remain very sceptical of Russian guilt in the Skripal case. It remains the case that Porton Down scientists have identified the chemical as a “novichok-style” nerve agent but still cannot tie its production to Russia – there are many other possibilities. The effort to identify the actual perpetrator is making no headway, with the police having eliminated by alibi the Russian air passenger on the same flight as Julia Skripal identified as suspicious by MI5 purely on grounds of the brevity of their stay.

    • What is the U.S. Fighting for in Syria?

      The Trump administration delivered several dozen military strikes against Syria purportedly aimed at chemical production and storage facilities. It was an act the international community feared might lead to overt war in Syria between the US, Iran and Russia, but it came off a bit better: the strike seems to have been carefully calibrated, involved care to avoid casualties and seemed largely symbolic in nature. The strikes did not meaningfully change facts on the ground.

      What sense can we make out of all these strategic events in Syria? We encounter a baffling array of players: Syrian troops, Syrian insurgents, jihadis of varying ideologies, Iranians, Russians, Americans, Israelis, Turks, Saudis, Qataris, Emiratis, Shi’ite militias, Iraqis, Kurds, Hizballah—all locked in a deadly dance. But as complex as it may be, this seven-year bloody conflict still continues to pose the very same long-term fundamental questions to US policy in Syria and the region. These questions demand an answer.

    • “I Really Did Kill Those Babies”

      Genene Jones, a Texas nurse long suspected of more than a dozen child murders decades ago but convicted of only one, allegedly confessed. The newly uncovered evidence emerged in a hearing today in which Jones attempted to have five murder charges against her dismissed.

    • Ukraine’s NATO Bid Risks Even Worse U.S.-Russia Ties

      It’s been four years since the hectic “Euromaidan” protest movement culminated in a coup that deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Though civil war grinds on in the eastern half of the country, Ukraine has wandered in and out of American news cycles since the dramatic change of government in Kiev.

      But a more recent development has implications that are rarely explored in American media, despite what it could mean for broader U.S. international relations. Ukraine is vying to take its place as NATO’s newest member state, a move that could seriously escalate tensions between Washington and Moscow beyond their current high point.

      “It’s safe to say that Russia would be, and has been, opposed to NATO membership for Ukraine,” James Carden, former advisor to the State Department’s U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, said in an email exchange.

      Neighboring states such as Ukraine and Georgia, Carden added, “are red lines for Russia and we should take them at their word.”

    • Four Lessons From the Strike on Syria

      The lessons from last weekend’s strike on Syria by the United States of America and two of its allies do not bode well for the future of democracy or the future of peace, says Inder Comar.

      [...]

      Checks and balances are swept away. And the strike now sets further precedent for unilateral executive authority to attack or invade another country based. It is one person, and one person alone, who commands American military might, without scrutiny or later accountability.

    • ‘Absolutely Earth-Shaking’: North and South Korea Reportedly in Talks to Officially End Korean War

      Technically, North and South Korea are still at war, and have been for more than six decades—but an “absolutely earth-shaking” new report on Tuesday indicates the conflict may soon be coming to an end.

      Citing an anonymous South Korean diplomatic official, Munhwa Ilbo—a South Korean daily newspaper—reported that the neighboring countries are hashing out a statement that could officially bring the war to an end later this month, when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are set to meet in person for the first time.

    • North and South Korea reportedly set to announce official end to war

      North and South Korea are in talks to announce a permanent end to the officially declared military conflict between the two countries, daily newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed South Korean official.

      Ahead of a summit next week between North Korean premier Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, lawmakers from the neighboring states were thought to be negotiating the details of a joint statement that could outline an end to the confrontation.

      Kim and Moon could also discuss returning the heavily fortified demilitarized zone separating them to its original state, the newspaper said.

      [...]

      Pyongyang and Seoul have technically been at war since the 1950-1953 Korean conflict ended with a truce — and not a peace treaty. Geopolitical tensions have occasionally flared up since the armistice, although to date both countries have managed to avoid another devastating conflict.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Puerto Rico Hit With Island-Wide Blackout

      Today’s outage marks the first time since the island has suffered a total electrical failure since the Category 4 storm hit on September 20 – leaving many of Puerto Rico’s 40,000 electric customers without reliable power.

    • Why Can’t We Fix Puerto Rico’s Power Grid?

      How’d they get that way? As an invaluable article in IEEE Spectrum points out, tax incentives in the 1970s induced mainland US companies to build factories in the southern part of the island, so Prepa built generating facilities there. In 1996 the tax break expired and the factories left. So today, 70 percent of Puerto Rico’s population lives in the north, around San Juan, and 70 percent of the power generation is in the south. A fragile grid connects the two via tough, mountainous terrain. Scattered rural populations have always had a tenuous connection to that grid. Meanwhile Prepa, hamstrung by billions of dollars of debt, austerity measures, and possible corruption slacked off on maintenance. Hurricane Maria sliced Puerto Rico’s broken-down grid in half.

  • Finance
    • ‘Big bitcoin heist’ suspect escapes prison and flees Iceland ‘on PM’s plane’

      “Prison breaks in Iceland usually mean someone just fled to get drunk,” he said. “The underworlds are tiny and it is extremely difficult to hide, let alone flee the country.”

    • ATMs go dry nationwide; government says needs three days to fix problem
    • Officials: Sharing Economy Booming In China; Success And Challenges Of New Business Models

      The sharing economy is booming, disrupting conventional ways of doing business, creating new jobs, and new headaches for policymakers. China is promoting the sharing economy as a national strategy, as explained during the annual United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) electronic commerce event this week, and illustrated by DiDi Chuxing, a leading Chinese mobile-based transportation platform.

    • Panel: E-Commerce Crucial For Development, Some Eager To Negotiate At WTO
    • Censorship-free social network Memo is built on Bitcoin Cash

      Memo, an on-chain social network developed on the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) blockchain, has launched in alpha testing this week. Developed on the Bitcoin BCH network, the application allows the recording and storage of data on the blockchain through its front-end protocol, tied to individual BCH addresses and keys.

      Using OP_RETURN transactions, users can tether specific information to their profile, in the makings of what could be one of the first social networks for BCH. According to the developer behind Memo, the application aims to create an ‘uncensorable’ way to store data and transactional information, contrary to the model used by online social networks.

    • That’s Not My Brexit!

      That’s not my Brexit…

      …the promised Free Trade Agreements are all too far away.

      That’s my Brexit!

      That one there.

      The one which cannot actually happen.

    • Bitcoin boosted as IMF boss Christine Lagarde praises cryptocurrency and suggests it could transform the way people save and invest

      Bitcoin has received an unexpected boost from Christine Lagarde, after the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) detailed the global benefits of cryptocurrency.

      Ms Lagarde wrote in a blogpost that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin could enable fast and inexpensive transactions, while the underlying blockchain technology could make financial markets safer.

      The price of the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency returned above $8,000 following the publication of Ms Lagarde’s comments, though it is unclear if the gains are directly attributable to the news.

    • Death By a Thousand Tax Cuts

      Every year at this time, US taxpayers (who bother to read news) are treated to a parade of stories about taxes and tax policy. We learn about the citizens who work multiple jobs and pay their taxes, while falling farther and farther behind in an economy that clearly exists to redistribute wealth upwards. We also learn about corporations, the real “welfare queens,” which have used the courts and legislatures to legally avoid paying their fair share of taxes, while demanding subsidies, tax breaks, and the dismantling of labor unions.

      Under the current administration, we are witnessing the deathblows to the economic and social policies of the New Deal, FDR’s plan to save capitalism after the Crash of 29, which created the greatest economic expansion in the world, and with it the largest expansion of civil rights in US history. Tax policy was a core element of this transformation. After a false start or two, the New Deal became wildly successful. Besides the implementation of Social Security through a payroll tax structure, he raised taxes on the highest brackets and decreased or eliminated them on the lowest. He also adopted new monetary policy; FDR moved the US to fiat currency and running deficits. It worked for a long time.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Cuba: President Raúl Castro Stepping Down from Power

      In Cuba, the National Assembly is meeting today to elect a successor for President Raúl Castro, who has announced he’s stepping down this week. The Assembly is widely expected to choose the current vice president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, to be Cuba’s next leader. Raúl Castro is the younger brother of Fidel Castro, who led Cuba for decades following the 1959 revolution. The transition will mark the first time in more than six decades that Cuba will be led by someone outside the Castro family.

    • Comedian Randy Credico says Trump adviser Roger Stone threatened his dog

      New York City comic and ex-radio host Randy Credico says that longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone sent him “scary,” obscenity-filled emails — including one threatening his dog — after he went public disputing Stone’s claim that Credico was his “backchannel” to WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign.

      In a new interview on the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery,” Credico shared with co-hosts Daniel Klaidman and Michael Isikoff email messages he said he had received from Stone in just the last few days.

    • Trump’s Legal Worries Grow as Judge Rejects Effort for President to Review Docs Seized in FBI Raid

      In a potentially major setback for President Trump, a federal judge has rejected efforts from the president to be given first access to documents seized by the FBI last week during raids on the properties of Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, who is being investigated for possible bank and wire fraud. Monday’s court hearing pitted the president against his own Justice Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McKay urged the judge to reject the president’s request. McKay said, “Just because he has a powerful client doesn’t mean he should get special treatment.” The FBI seized 10 boxes of documents and as many as a dozen electronic devices from Cohen. According to press accounts, the Trump administration now views the probe into Cohen as a more serious threat to the president than special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Meanwhile, on Monday, Cohen’s attorneys were forced to reveal Fox News host Sean Hannity was also one of Cohen’s other legal clients. Just last week, Hannity slammed the FBI for raiding Cohen’s office and home, but he never disclosed his ties to Cohen. We speak to Marcy Wheeler, independent journalist who covers national security and civil liberties. She runs the website EmptyWheel.net.

    • The Chinese Communist Party Is Setting Up Cells at Universities Across America

      In July 2017, a group of nine Chinese students and faculty from Huazhong University of Science and Technology participating in a summer program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) formed a Chinese Communist Party branch on the third floor of Hopkins Hall, a campus dormitory.

      [...]

      After the students’ arrival in Illinois, their home university asked the group to set up a temporary party branch and requested that the students hold a viewing party to watch the 19th party plenum in October, the major party planning conference held every five years. (The plenum was the subject of a major global propaganda push, with Chinese embassies and consulates reaching out to Chinese community organizations around the world, asking them to organize events for their members.)

    • British Democracy is Dysfunctional

      A significant proportion of Labour MPs are actively seeking to cause their own party to do badly in forthcoming local elections, with the aim of damaging the leader of that party. To that end they have attacked Jeremy Corbyn relentlessly in a six week crescendo, in parliament and in the entirely neo-liberal owned corporate media, over the Skripal case, over Syria, and over crazy allegations of anti-semitism, again and again and again.

      [...]

      That it is “undemocratic” for party members to select their candidates freely at each election, and it is “democratic” for MP’s to have the guaranteed candidacy for forty years irrespective of their behaviour, is a nonsensical argument, but one to which the neo-liberal media fiercely clings as axiomatic. Meanwhile in the SNP, all MPs have to put themselves forward to party members equally with other candidates for selection at every election. This seems perfectly normal. Indeed every serious democratic system elects people for a fixed term. Labour members do not elect their constituency chairman for life, so why should they elect their parliamentary candidate for life? Why do we keep having general elections rather than voters elect the MP for life?

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Inverting The Expected Order Of Things, German Court Orders Facebook To Reinstate ‘Offensive’ Content

      Germany’s ridiculous hate speech law continues to wreak havoc in the stupidest ways possible. Giving social media companies 24 hours to remove poorly-defined “offensive” content has resulted in proactive removals targeting anything marginally questionable. Official complaints aren’t much better. Government demands for removal have been no less idiotic than proactive deletions by Facebook and Twitter.

      It’s a bad law. The only way bad laws can be followed is badly. Facebook is dealing with something new, thanks to its adherence to its own content policies. It’s an argument over deleted content, but the push/pull tension has been reversed.

    • Russia’s Telegram Ban Is a Fiasco, and It’s Rendering Millions of IP Addresses Inaccessible

      Consequently, when Roskomnadzor blocked 15.8 million Amazon- and Google-owned IPs it also knocked banking services and retail shopping platforms offline.

      That shows the lengths to which the government censors are willing to go to block access to the app, which has refused to cave to the demands of state intelligence officials even after a court approved a ban on the service.

    • Telegram Founder Pledges Millions in Bitcoin For VPNs and “Digital Resistance”

      A massive wave of action to block messaging service Telegram resulted in widespread collateral damage yesterday after Russian authorities ordered millions of IP addresses blocked across the country. But the efforts have only lit a fire under Telegram founder Pavel Durov, who has pledged to donate millions of dollars in bitcoin to VPN providers as part of his “Digital Resistance”.

    • Russia’s Encryption War: 1.8m Google & Amazon IPs Blocked to Silence Telegram

      Russian authorities are attempting to crush messaging platform Telegram. After refusing to hand over its encryption keys so that users can be spied on, last week a court ordered the service to be blocked. Yesterday broad action was taken, with ISPs blocking more than 1.8 million Telegram-utilized IP addresses belonging to Google and Amazon.

    • In Trying To Ban Telegram, Russia Breaks The Internet

      Russia’s war on encryption and privacy has reached an entirely new level of ridiculous. We’ve noted for a while how Putin’s government has been escalating its war on encrypted services and VPNs in the misguided hope of keeping citizens from dodging government surveillance. But things escalated dramatically when the Russian government demanded that encrypted messaging app Telegram hand over its encryption keys to the FSB. After Telegram refused, a Russian court banned the app entirely last Friday, and the Russian government began trying to actually implement it this week.

      It’s not going particularly well.

      Telegram tried to mitigate the ban by moving some of its essential infrastructure to third-party cloud services. But Russian telecom regulator Roskomnadzor responded by blocking upwards of 16 million IP addresses, many belonging to Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud.

    • Facebook blocking fake news is censorship? Hell yeah!

      Diehard supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte or so-called DDS have raised their concerns about Facebook’s recent initiative to partner with fact-checkers and prohibit fake news (as verified by the fact-checkers) from being posted or shared on its social media platform. Some DDS bloggers and even some members of mainstream media have called the initiative censorship.

      But is it really?

      Censorship, according to Wikipedia, is the suppression of speech or information. The basis could be many things but usually it is for content that is found objectionable or harmful by the government or the community.

    • A Google update just created a big problem for anti-censorship tools

      App developers won’t be able to use Google to get around internet censorship anymore. The Google App Engine is discontinuing a practice called domain-fronting, which let services use Google’s network to get around state-level internet blocks.

      A recent change in Google’s network architecture means the trick no longer works. First spotted by Tor developers on April 13th, the change has been rolling out across Google services and threatens to disrupt services for a number of anti-censorship tools, including Signal, GreatFire.org and Psiphon’s VPN services.

    • Pakistani journalists condemn ongoing censorship

      Prominent journalists, editors, columnists and media persons on Wednesday issued a joint-statement to express their concerns and condemn “the ongoing curbs on freedom of expression in Pakistan”.

      The statement was endorsed by prominent journalists and editors including Daily Times Editor Raza Rumi, Daily Times correspondent Marvi Sirmed, BBC Urdu Editor Haroon Rashid, columnist and TV anchor Hamid Mir, columnist Ibn Abdur Rehman, journalist Ahmed Noorani among several others.

    • Journalists sign declaration condemning ongoing censorship fiasco

      Over fifty working journalists, editors, columnists, media persons and media freedom organisation representatives on Wednesday expressed serious concern over the ongoing curbs on freedom of expression in the country.

      Condemning the ongoing censorship fiasco in a declaration, the journalists said that beginning with a crackdown against selected media groups and banning the broadcast of various channels, there was now an enhanced pressure on media houses to refrain from covering certain rights-based movements.

    • Censorship for social media

      New developments need new policies. We have some or the other kind of censorship in all media today, be it newspapers, television news, movies and even posters and billboards on the road. There is a valid and well thought out reason behind it. Most of the people believe what gets reported without putting any second thoughts on it. So it is possible that people’s reactions are directed in a certain way by the media and that is exactly the reason why censorship exists.

      Now look at social media. The reach of social media is more than any other form of media today. But, there is no censorship. Anybody is allowed to post anything whether it is true or false, good or bad. No controls exist, no questions are asked and there is zero accountability. Are we surprised then by what happened in the Cambridge Analytica case? The way people reacted to the Kathua and Asifa rape cases in India? Weren’t these bound to happen?

    • Anti-abortion extremists keep crying censorship to raise money

      If there’s one thing Republicans love more than pretending they’re being victimized by liberal elites, it’s raising money off this inaccurate claim — a tendency demonstrated clearly during recent congressional hearings on the activities of Facebook. During these hearings, Republican members of Congress elevated various overinflated right-wing grievances against social media companies (such as claims of anti-abortion censorship and anti-Christian bias) in order to pressure the platform into allowing greater promotion of inflammatory or inaccurate content. In particular, they seized on pro-Trump YouTubers Diamond and Silk, who have actively lied about Facebook censoring them and then used the attention to raise money. As close watchers of the anti-abortion movement know, this tactic of crying censorship to garner attention and raise funds is a favorite of anti-choice actors. Here are a few that have recently employed this practice:

    • It’s Time to Tackle GAFAM and Their World

      Last Monday, we launched our class action campaign against GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft). Until May 25th (the day complaints will be brought to the CNIL – the French Data Protection Authority), anyone living in France can join us on gafam.laquadrature.net. These first steps will, over the long term, pave the way to steadily counter the world they are trying to force on us.

    • What censorship?

      Michael Briguglio sought to belittle the Front Against Censorship by calling it a “front for censorship” in an article bearing the same title (April 16).

      For starters, Briguglio might not be aware that the Front Against Censorship resisted the Media and Defamation Bill when it was first introduced and that it was the Front which negotiated the substantial changes that turned this Bill into one of the most liberal statutes in Europe.

      Thanks to the Front’s efforts, criminal libel was removed, the proposed doubling of damages for civil libel was scrapped, garnishees are no longer possible and the final nail in the coffin of the artistic censorship regime was hammered with the removal of obscene libel.

    • Baltic translations for Fox TV undergo Russian censorship

      The Latvian National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) has been informed about this but does not see a reason to intervene in this situation.

      NEPLP spokesman Kalvis Gavars told LETA that Fox is a TV channel in Spain’s jurisdiction and its programs are rebroadcast in Latvia’s territory, which means that the translation issues have to be dealt with between the holder of the programs’ rights and the translators, while the quality of the translations is outside the National Electronic Mass Media Council’s area of competence.

      [...]

      Anda Rozukalne, a media expert and associate professor at Riga Stradins University, said that Russia uses any channels and tools, including translation, to distort information wherever it can.

      She admitted, however, that under the current regulation NEPLP is unable to reverse an intermediary’s requirements regarding the TV channel’s content.

    • China Shuts Down Bytedance’s Parody Website

      Chinese authorities have permanently shut down jokes and parody application Neihan Duanzhi. The operation is part of the Toutiao news aggregation group, that is backed by Bytedance Technology.

      Zhang Yiming, Toutiao’s CEO published a letter of apology. He said that he was “sincerely sorry for publishing a product that collided with core Socialist values.” The app had some 17 million users, and was alleged to have carried material that was vulgar or pornographic.

    • Widening net of China censors puts tech on notice

      The widening net of Chinese censors have put tech on notice. Jokes and gay content are disappearing from the web. It’s a fresh sign that Beijing is policing beyond political discourse. For the $26 billion microblog Weibo and peers, appeasing both users and regulators will get harder.

    • Chinese social network backtracks on gay censorship after massive protest
    • It’s Still (Just About) OK to Be Gay in China
    • China’s Weibo site backtracks on gay censorship after outcry
    • Homosexuality Not an Illness, Chinese Say
    • China Approves First Gay Romance For Theatrical Release
    • Following Questionable Election, Honduran Government Debuts New Censorship Law
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Privacy as an Afterthought: ICANN’s Response to the GDPR

      Almost three years ago, the global domain name authority ICANN chartered a working group to consider how to build a replacement for the WHOIS database, a publicly-accessible record of registered domain names. Because it includes the personal information of millions of domain name registrants with no built-in protections for their privacy, the legacy WHOIS system exposes registrants to the risk that their information will be misused by spammers, identity thieves, doxxers, and censors.

      But at the same time, the public availability of the information contained in the WHOIS database has become taken for granted, not only by its regular users, but by a secondary industry that repackages and sells access to its data, providing services like bulk searches and reverse lookups for clients as diverse as marketers, anti-abuse experts, trademark attorneys, and law enforcement authorities.

      The working group tasked with replacing this outdated system, formally known as the Next Generation gTLD RDS to Replace WHOIS PDP Working Group did not get far. Despite holding 90 minute weekly working meetings for more than two years, deep divisions within the group have resulted in glacial progress, even as the urgency of its work has increased. A key privacy advocate within that Working Group, EFF Pioneer Award winner Stephanie Perrin, ended up resigning from the group in frustration this March, saying “I believe this process is fundamentally flawed and does not reflect well on the multi-stakeholder model.”

    • NSA grant will fund UNG summer camp for future cyber warriors

      Thanks to a $94,000 grant from the National Security Agency’s (NSA) GenCyber program, the National Cyber Warrior Academy (NCWA) at the University of North Georgia (UNG) will again host area high school students whose career interests lie in cyber operations or security.

    • Second Cambridge Analytica whistleblower says ‘sex compass’ app gathered more Facebook data beyond the 87 million we already knew about

      The 87 million Facebook accounts harvested by Cambridge Analytica (CA) in a massive data breach were probably just the tip of the iceberg.

      That’s the written testimony CA’s former Business Development Director Brittany Kaiser gave to Britain’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMSC) on Tuesday.
      She told British lawmakers, who are conducting an inquiry into fake news and the Facebook data scandal, that CA used numerous questionnaires to gather data.

      These quizzes, Kaiser said, were in addition to the now infamous Thisisyourdigitallife personality quiz CA conducted with University of Cambridge psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan’s firm Global Science Research to harvest information from 87 million Facebook accounts.

    • Facebook Data Leak “Much Greater Than 87 Million,” New Whistleblower Reveals

      While numerous concerns had been raised over the uninformed data collection of over 87 million Facebook users, the actual number of people affected may be far more.

      The CA data breach came to light when the company’s former director of research Christopher Wylie took charge and went into Edward Snowden-mode to break the news. It resulted in Facebook losing loads of money and its CEO testifying before the US Congress.

    • Inside Cambridge Analytica’s Virtual Currency Plans

      The embattled political data firm Cambridge Analytica quietly sought to develop its own virtual currency in recent months through a so-called initial coin offering, a novel fund-raising method that has come under growing scrutiny by financial regulators around the world.

      The offering was part of a broader, but still very private push that the firm was making into the nascent world of cryptocurrencies over the last year.

      Much like its acquisition of Facebook data to build psychological profiles of voters, the new business line pushed the firm into murky ethical and legal situations. Documents and emails obtained by The New York Times show that Cambridge Analytica’s efforts to help promote another group’s digital token, the Dragon Coin, associated the firm with a famous gangster in Macau who has gone by the nickname Broken Tooth.

    • Cambridge Analytica Planned Its Own Cryptocurrency For Selling Your Data

      A lot of bad things happening today on the web are tied to a single name: Cambridge Analytica. The firm–and Facebook–was first criticised for obtaining and using data of 87 million users to build psychological profiles for political campaigns.

      Just recently, the company’s former employee Brittany Kaiser, who’s the latest whistleblower in town, revealed that the Facebook data leak might be far more in numbers.

    • Russia’s Telegram ban is a big, convoluted mess

      If you want to know the reason I’m not on WhatsApp with its other 1.5 billion users, the answer is Telegram. To people unfamiliar with it, I like to describe Telegram as simply WhatsApp without any of the icky data sharing with Facebook. It has been my favorite, most reliable messaging client, and its platform-agnostic design means I can access my messages across iPhones, Android devices, and desktop browsers. I’m a big fan of Telegram, which is part of why its present ban in its native Russia troubles me.

      Telegram got its start, and its initial funding, under the premise of providing a messaging tool that was shielded from the inquisitive glare of Russian spy agencies. Its effectiveness in pursuing that original goal has been demonstrated this month with the ruling by a Russian court that Telegram should be banned in the country, owing to the app’s makers refusing to hand over encryption keys to the Russian government.

    • Google, card lobby want Aadhaar to fail: UIDAI to Supreme Court

      Appearing for the Unique Identity Authority of India, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi told a CJI-headed Constitution bench that a campaign had been unleashed that Aadhaar should’ve been like smart cards, a Europe-based commercial venture. “If Aadhaar succeeds, smart cards will be out of business. Google does not want it. Smart card lobby does not want Aadhaar to succeed. That’s why these allegations are being made,” he said.

    • I was wrong. Too much technology is ruining lives
    • Oblivious DNS could protect your internet traffic against snooping

      The Princeton team developed what it calls Oblivious DNS (ODNS), which protects user data not only by encrypting it, but also by separating what different nodes in the DNS chain are aware of, making it much harder, if not impossible, to snoop on users.

      And they’ve done it all without requiring a single change to the structure of DNS.

    • Facebook admits tracking users and non-users off-site

      In a blog post, Facebook’s product management director, David Baser, wrote that the company tracked users and non-users across websites and apps for three main reasons: [...]

    • Facebook Is Steering Users Away From Privacy Protections
    • A flaw-by-flaw guide to Facebook’s new GDPR privacy changes

      Facebook is about to start pushing European users to speed through giving consent for its new GDPR privacy law compliance changes. It will ask people to review how Facebook applies data from the web to target them with ads, and surface the sensitive profile info they share. Facebook will also allow European and Canadian users to turn on facial recognition after six years of the feature being blocked there. But with a design that encourages rapidly hitting the “Agree” button, a lack of granular controls, a laughably cheatable parental consent request for teens and an aesthetic overhaul of Download Your Information that doesn’t make it any easier to switch social networks, Facebook shows it’s still hungry for your data.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Facebook among tech firms to sign ‘digital Geneva convention’

      Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, has been the driving force behind the accord. He has argued for months that the tech industry needs “a digital Geneva convention that will commit governments to protecting civilians from nation-state attacks in times of peace”.

    • Who Killed Journalist Tyron Browne?

      According to the PUL, the killing of Tyron has increased the level of fear in the journalism community in Liberia and has further strengthened the case for self-censorship in the traditional journalism sphere in Liberia.

    • In the line of fire

      But the record of Commonwealth countries concerning the rising number of killings of journalists points to a failure by authorities in some member states to protect the lives of journalists targeted for their work. UN statistics show that in all but a few cases the killers are shielded from facing justice by a climate of judicial impunity. Where is the ‘rule of law’ in that?

    • Passenger says Uber driver locked the doors, tried to take her to hotel

      “Hey @Uber your driver was taking me to the airport. He said he was going to ‘take me to a hotel’ and got off the highway. We got to a stop light. I started yelling ‘let me out of the f—ing car’ and he wouldn’t unlock the doors,” she tweeted.

      [...]

      Leong called another Uber to take her to the airport.

    • The Trump Administration Is Trying to Forcibly Send a Detained US Citizen to Another Country

      For more than seven months, the Trump administration has been unlawfully detaining an American citizen in Iraq. Rather than charge him with a crime or set him free, the government wants to transfer him, involuntarily, to a third country. The ACLU is going to court on Thursday to stop the transfer and fight the government’s dangerous claims that it has the authority to violate an American’s constitutional rights.

      The Trump administration claims that the citizen, who was detained in September by Kurdish forces in Syria and transferred to U.S. custody, is a fighter for ISIS — an allegation he denies. The ACLU began representing him in January after a federal court ordered the government to allow us unmonitored access to him. This came after the government insisted, over several months, that it did not need to respect the man’s wishes to challenge his detention or to speak with a lawyer.

    • “Motivated by justice”: defending the world’s courageous people

      Julian first reached out to myself and a colleague of mine, the Australian human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, in around September 2010. This was just before WikiLeaks was about to publish the Iraq war logs. Julian was in London, preparing that release, which came several months later, at the end of November. He was working with the Guardian and a group of other international newspapers.

      It was around the time when there was concern about what might happen in Sweden, where there was an open investigation into sexual allegations that had previously being dropped. It now seemed that Julian might have to answer those allegations. So, Julian required assistance and advice. It was also the time, of course, that Chelsea Manning was arrested, and a US criminal investigation in grand jury had been announced.

    • Bundestag warns it would be illegal for Spain to have spied on Puigdemont

      The Bundestag, the German federal parliament, in response to a question from deputy Andrej Hunko (Die Linke), has warned that if the CNI (Spanish security service) spied on president Carles Puigdemont in Germany, that would have been illegal. A legal report from the chamber makes this clear and warns that it could have consequences.

      “Action by sovereign authorities without the consent from the German state entails several legal consequences: foreign secret service operations against the Federal Republic are punishable in accordance with § 99 of the Criminal Code. Spying on foreigners in the Federal Republic fulfils this criteria. The unauthorised collection of data can fulfil the criteria of a misdemeanour or felony according to the Federal Data Protection Act,” the report says.

    • This Law Makes It Nearly Impossible to Police the NYPD

      Leaked NYPD documents provide a necessary window into the secret world of how the department deals with abusive officers.

      This week, Buzzfeed released a trove of leaked records for 1,800 New York Police Department employees who were charged with misconduct between 2011 and 2015. These records do not make for easy reading, but they are undoubtedly in the public interest.

      For instance, the public has a clear interest in knowing that at least 319 NYPD employees were allowed to keep their jobs, even after committing offenses that NYPD leaders have always assured us were fireable. Those pushing for more police in schools in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, might want to know that three school safety officers found guilty of using excessive force against students were punished with just five lost vacation days. And anyone concerned about false information leading to wrongful convictions might like to know that more than 100 employees accused of “lying on official reports, under oath, or during an internal affairs investigation” were punished with as little as a few days of lost vacation.

      Much of this information would have been made publicly available up until recently. But in 2016 the NYPD suddenly decided, after decades of posting so-called police “personnel orders,” that doing so violated section 50-a of the New York State Civil Rights Law, which limits the release of certain police personnel records. The law says that personnel records used to evaluate an officer’s performance toward continued employment or promotion are confidential, and it’s constantly and increasingly used as a tool by the police establishment to thwart police accountability and transparency statewide.

    • In 5-4 Vote, Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Mandating Deportation for Some Crimes

      In a victory for the immigrant rights movement, the Supreme Court has struck down a law requiring the mandatory deportation of lawful permanent residents who are convicted of some crimes, saying the law was unconstitutionally vague. Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch sided with the liberal justices, writing, “Vague laws invite arbitrary power.” The case centered on a Filipino man named James Garcia Dimaya, who had been a lawful permanent resident of the United States since 1992. After being convicted of residential burglary, the Obama administration sought to deport him for having committed an “aggravated felony” under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling will mean that lower-level offenses are less likely to trigger the automatic deportation of lawful permanent residents.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Former FCC Broadband Advisory Panel Chair Arrested For Fraud

      For a few months now we’ve been noting how a “broadband deployment advisory panel” (BDAC) the FCC created to “solve the digital divide” has been plagued by scandal, resignation, and accusations of corruption. The panel was created last year to purportedly advise the Trump FCC on the best approach(es) to improving broadband cost and availability. But it didn’t take long for reports to emerge that the panel was little more than a who’s who of entrenched telecom industry interests, and since its creation its been plagued by a steady stream of disgruntled departures.

    • Another Survey Shows Massive Bipartisan Opposition To Net Neutrality Repeal

      While giant ISPs like Comcast (and the politicians and regulators paid to love them) have been very successful framing net neutrality as a partisan issue to sow dissent and stall policy progress and consensus, the reality is that net neutrality continues to have overwhelming, bipartisan support. Survey after survey have shown that the overwhelming majority of Americans support net neutrality, and for most people preventing natural monopolies from being bullies (at least until somebody has the courage to embrace policies that encourage broadband competition) is a no brainer.

      This week another survey highlighted how opposition to Ajit Pai and the Trump FCC’s net neutrality repeal is overwhelming. According to a new study out of the University of Maryland (pdf), 86% of the country opposes the FCC’s decision to roll back net neutrality protections at ISP lobbyist behest. And again that opposition is bipartisan, with 82% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats opposing the FCC’s obnoxiously-named “restoring internet freedom” repeal.

  • DRM
    • Meet the latest DRM Drones

      The latest round of opposition comments in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) exemption process shows which government entities oppose user freedom.

      Back during the last round of the DMCA anti-circumvention exemptions process, we wrote about the DRM Drones who were opposing exemptions. These companies, along with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), were trying to stifle the work of activists working to claw back a bit of freedom in the face of the DMCA’s draconian provisions. A few years later, and it’s a new round of the exemptions process, with perhaps some new faces, but the same old problem.

      As we’ve often said, Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) is not about copyright, it’s about control. And these opposition comments truly demonstrate that that is the case. The DMCA is allegedly meant to aid in copyright enforcement, but goes about its task in the worst way possible, creating legal penalties for circumventing DRM. By itself, DRM is harmful to users, who all have the right to control their own computing. Adding legal penalties only compounds the harm of DRM. Even if DRM were an effective tool for enforcing copyright (and if copyright were not already extremely excessive), it is unethical to place such onerous control over users.

      So what does the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for that matter, care about enforcing copyright? The reality is that they don’t, but they realize the nefarious power of DRM to lock down and control users for any purpose, using copyright as an excuse. Like the EPA, the FDA and the FAA are also trying to use DRM to enforce the laws and regulations they are tasked with upholding. The cause the FDA and FAA have chosen to champion is the ability to force users to buy particular feedstock for 3D printers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Cost remains top priority and concern for most patent owners in Taiwan [Ed: Microsoft feeds these NPEs]

      She specifically mentioned Microsoft’s Azure IP protection platform as providing a good potential option when the company faces NPE assertions and needs to counter. She also suggested that her firm has a similar partnership with ITRI, a government backed R&D lab.

      [...]

      TSMC, the world’s largest chip foundry, seems to be an exception that proves the rule when it comes to tight patent budgets in Taiwan. Donald McKenna, director of R&D legal division, stated that as the biggest player in its market, TSMC does not have to watch its portfolio spend as cautiously as some others. This is in part because in a cutthroat market, patents are seen as a key ingredient to keeping TSMC competitive. It is no surprise, then, to see TSMC appear once again in the top 10 recipients of US patent grants. McKenna says this strategy underlines TSMC top management’s solid grasp of IP value.

    • The Navy is Accused of Hacking $ 600 Million in Software

      The US Navy faces two processes: one for installing software without a license and another for using ship designs with patents.

      [...]

      In parallel, the US Navy was also denounced by the FastShip company, which claims more than 6.5 million dollars in damages for using the helmet design patented by this firm without paying any kind of rights.

      This second case has had tragic experiences for this company, which patented a new design for the hull of ships that increased its buoyancy and reduced friction with water, which in addition to the US Navy says that its intellectual property was also stolen by Lockheed Martin, one of the main military contractors of the United States.

    • IP rights – what does the future hold after Brexit?

      There are no provisions relating to patents, which is unsurprising as the existing European patent system is not administered by the European Union. The European Patent Office (EPO) is a separate international body; therefore, UK patent protection will continue to be available through the EPO regardless of how Brexit proceeds.

    • TIPO introduces new hearing system for invalidation proceedings

      TIPO expects at least 10 hearings to be held this year to help determine whether the Patent Act should be amended (ie, the number of invalidation cases filed for hearings this year may affect the duration of the pilot programme and any future amendments to the Patent Act).

      According to the director of TIPO Patent Division III, with inquiries to suitable patent invalidation case parties docketed, no hearings have yet been scheduled as they require the consent of both parties.

    • Trademarks
      • Mexico amends its trade mark opposition system

        Legislation that amends Mexico’s trade mark opposition system is expected to improve the still-new system but Mexico’s IP practitioners say many issues remain, reports Ellie Mertens

        Legislation that amended Mexico’s trade mark opposition system passed Congress on April 3, and is on schedule to come into force in June.

      • What makes a family? Bridgestone opposition two tyred, fell flat

        In respect of families of marks, the Bridgestone decision tells us that mere evidence of use is insufficient. First, use must be made of trade marks sharing common elements, which consumers may regard as belonging to a family. On the facts of this case, the evidence of use – where there were only two marks – was insufficient to substantiate the existence of a family. Second, over and above demonstrating use, the evidence must show that the common elements take consumers home to the same source. The opponents in this case had failed to identify themselves to consumers as constituting a single source. At the end of the day, it is the average consumer who will decide whether there exists a family of marks in the marketplace, and steps should be taken to educate the public of such matters.

    • Copyrights
      • Facebook is testing a way to let people watch video premieres in Facebook Live
      • Facebook lets creators turn video premieres into live events

        The initial testers include an unspecified mix of creators, publishers and shows, but the feature should be available “more broadly” in the near future.

      • Hollywood Studios Get ISP Blocking Order Against Rarbg in India

        Hollywood continues to expand its blocking efforts around the globe. Most recently, several major studios including Disney Enterprises and Warner Bros obtained a blocking order against the popular torrent site Rarbg in India. More than twenty ISPs must block the site, while the Government is instructed to help enforce the measures.

      • There Are Several Good Reasons To End Entertainment Industry Subsidies, But Blasphemy Isn’t One Of Them

        There are a lot of arguments to be made against subsidizing movie/TV studios. The best argument is this: the payouts to visiting studios rarely pay off for local taxpayers. Politicians love the side benefits — rubbing elbows with producers, actors, and other studio personnel — but there’s nothing to be gained financially by paying a studio to film in your town. In one case, a city was promised 3,600 additional jobs. In reality, only 200 jobs materialized, all but 14 of those temporary construction work.

        Then there’s the argument against using public funding to prop up an out-of-town industry. If there are extra tax dollars around, they’re better spent locally, where they’ll do the most good. Subsidizing businesses is always problematic. It skews incentives and allows governments to play favorites using the public’s money.

        But the worst argument someone can make against subsidies is this one: subsidies should be content-based. Two members of the clergy and a state politician are bent out of shape because a subsidized TV series shoot resulted in the depiction of a historical figure in compromising positions.

      • Stupid Copyright: MLB Shuts Down Twitter Account Of Guy Who Shared Cool MLB Gifs

        Another day, another story of copyright gone stupid. This time it involves Major League Baseball, which is no stranger to stupid copyright arguments. Going back fifteen years, we wrote about Major League Baseball claiming that other websites couldn’t even describe professional baseball games. There was a legal fight over this and MLB lost. A decade ago, MLB was shutting down fan pages for doing crazy things like “using a logo” of their favorite sports team. And, of course, like all major professional sports leagues, MLB has long engaged in copyfraud by claiming that “any account of this game, without the express written consent of Major League Baseball is prohibited”, which is just false. MLB has also made up ridiculous rules about how much reporters can post online at times, restricting things that they have no right to actually restrict.

        The latest seems particularly stupid. Following on some sort of silly spat in which a guy named Kevin Clancy at Barstool Sports (the same brainiacs who wanted to sue the NFL for having sorta, not really, similar merchandise) got pissed off at a popular Twitter account called @PitchingNinja run by a guy named Rob Friedman, who would tweet out GIFs and videos of interesting pitches from MLB games. Apparently, the dudebro Clancy from Barstool sports pointed out that Friedman was violating the made up rules that MLB has on how much someone is allowed to share on social media, leading a ton of Clancy’s fans to “report” Friedman. Twitter shut down Friedman’s account — leading said dudebro, Clancy, to celebrate.

      • Pirate Party Urges Swedish Govt to Stop ‘Copyright Troll’ Invasion

        The Swedish Pirate Party is calling on Justice Minister Morgan Johansson to put a halt to the wave of threatening piracy letters that have swept the country in recent months. The party likens the so-called copyright trolling campaigns to extortion and wants local courts to raise the evidence bar.

The Patent Microcosm, Patent Trolls and Their Pressure Groups Incite a USPTO Director Against the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and Section 101/Alice

Thursday 19th of April 2018 11:27:26 AM

Trying to make it sound like patent maximalism is a patriotic duty

Summary: As one might expect, the patent extremists continue their witch-hunt and constant manipulation of USPTO officials, whom they hope to compel to become patent extremists themselves (otherwise those officials are defamed, typically until they’re fired or decide to resign)

THE US Supreme Court, SCOTUS, won’t stop PTAB (based on Oil States predictions) and it stands firmly behind Alice. So the patent extremists now lean hard on the USPTO, in particular its new Director, who himself came from the patent microcosm.

We wish to remind readers that patent lawyers make a living out of intimidation; they are bullying, threatening and suing people. They’re quite often sociopaths, so their attitude towards USPTO officials (or publishers like me whom they SLAPP) is consistent with their occupation. It’s just what they’re trained to do; colleagues and classmates of theirs are largely the same.

“We wish to remind readers that patent lawyers make a living out of intimidation; they are bullying, threatening and suing people.”“No Oil States Decision Today from the Supreme Court,” one patent maximalist bemoaned a couple of days ago as if there’s a chance they’ll get their way (abolishing PTAB or its IPRs). Watch this anti-PTAB site doing its marketing. These people are attempting to make a business by dancing on a grave.

A couple of days ago CCIA wrote about yesterday’s hearing, in which Director Iancu faced some grilling over the sanity of the patent system. To quote the CCIA (which generally represents technology companies):

Tomorrow, members of the Judiciary Committee will have the opportunity to point out to Director Iancu that predictability, stability, and positivity are in fact already here, in large part due to the implementation of IPR and § 101. Instead, the Director’s focus should be on improving examination and on continuing to implement successful Congressionally-created programs such as IPR.

[...]

Director Iancu made a reasonable point in his speech—all too often, the discussion gets lost in the flaws of the patent system and fails to identify its successes. As a patent attorney, hearing inventors discuss some of the truly creative and novel ideas they came up with is a joy, and their creations contribute to a better society. A full discussion of the patent system must include recognition of the successes represented by these new innovations. As Director Iancu is fond of saying, the cure for cancer will almost certainly pass through the doors of the USPTO someday.

But at the same time, in order to make sure that innovation continues, in order to make sure that that cure for cancer can be created to pass through those doors, we need to identify the areas where the Office must improve. We can’t focus on the positive aspects of the system to the exclusion of the negatives. Only this week, it became apparent that one out of every twelve inventions created by a woman won’t receive a patent when it would have if a man had created it. There are a series of longstanding issues, highlighted by the GAO’s 2016 report, identifying ways in which poor quality patents can harm innovation and suggesting steps the PTO could take to address quality, steps which—to a large degree—have not been implemented. In order to make sure the patent system continues to be successful, we must always seek to improve it, and that is achieved by identifying and fixing its flaws.

More specifically, one positive aspect of the patent system that deserves recognition is the inter partes review process itself. Far from the “death squad” critics describe, IPR is a fair process with results that have been overwhelmingly upheld on appeal. Most patents—even litigated patents—will never face an IPR petition. And of those that do, the majority—58%—will remain completely unchanged, with an additional 5% upheld in part.3

Ensuring the success of the patent system requires acknowledging its flaws and seeking to fix them. A focus on positivity, without that balance, would ignore flaws that harm innovation.

Engine, which represents interests similar to those of CCIA, cited “STRONGER Patents Act Makes Startups Weaker” and wrote: “At @senjudiciary hearing, @USPTO Director says he is meeting with stakeholders to discuss @ChrisCoons’s #STRONGERAct. This bill is terrible for #startups. Join us in STRONGLY opposing this bill.”

This bill is probably going nowhere (same as a year ago) and we barely heard anything about it for nearly a month. But it’s better to be prudent and respond to Coons. He is in effect fronting for the patent extremists.

“Notice how software patents are being named/referred to (by buzzwords like “AI” that nontechnical politicians neither understand nor care for).”The patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, wrote: “Sen Coons at Iancu hearing – “The legislative branch has an obligation to act on 101″ [] Sen Harris asks Director Iancu to commit to issuing updated 101 guidance within 90 days (specifically how it applies to AI)… Iancu agrees to compromise to provide Committee with update on PTO’s 101 progress [] That request from Sen Harris came after v interesting back and forth on software patentability and specifically the algorithms that underpin AI…”

Notice how software patents are being named/referred to (by buzzwords like “AI” that nontechnical politicians neither understand nor care for).

Later came the obligatory cherry-picking of quotes from Watchtroll (the patent extremists link to it [1, 2]), titled to quote Director Iancu as saying that Section 101 is an issue “we must all address” (the word “address” does not mean very much, it is vague).

Section 101 is absolutely fine, but Iancu was surrounded (or hounded like a hostage) by propaganda from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This is how Watchtroll started his screed:

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) lead off for the Democrats after Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made a brief opening statement. Coons rather quickly moved his remarks toward the recent report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which now ranks the U.S. patent system 12th in the world. “One cause is the impact of the new post grant proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board,” Coons said. “The current review system is systematically biased against patent owners based on statistics from its first five years.”

Dennis Crouch, another patent maximalist, gave a long transcript. Senator Coons is basically staging a coup for patent trolls. He is trying to get rid of PTAB and incite Iancu against it, as well as against Section 101. From Crouch’s introduction:

New USPTO Director Andrei Iancu testified in Congress on April 18 for the first time in his new official capacity — this time before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Director must certainly be a visionary — as the chief guide of U.S. intellectual property policy. At the same time, the Director is head of a multi-billion-dollar agency with 12,000+ employees.

Although not speaking for the Senate as a whole, Senator Coons kicked-off the hearing with a statement that AIA Trials: “The current review system is systematically biased against patent owners.” From Senator Coon’s perspective, the AIA was designed to give the USPTO Director authority to “fine-tune” the AIA trial proceedings without further congressional actions — and that Director Iancu should take this opportunity to correct the imbalance.

One key statement from Director Iancu is that he is ready to work with Congress on legislative solutions to the “uncertainty” created by Supreme Court 101 jurisprudence.

A lot of pressure is on Iancu; the patent maximalists won’t leave him alone. There’s also a case from about a fortnight ago, Knowles Elecs. LLC v Iancu. Joseph Robinson and Robert Schaffer from Watchtroll brought it up one day before the hearing and said:

Knowles Elecs. LLC v. Iancu, No. 2016-1954, 2018 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 6, 2018) (Before Newman, Clevenger, and Wallach, J.) (Opinion for the court, Wallach, J.) (Dissenting opinion, Newman, J.).

Knowles appealed the inter partes reexamination decision of the Board, which affirmed an examiner’s finding that certain claims were anticipated while other claims would have been obvious over various prior art references. The third-party requester declined to defend the judgment in its favor. The Director of the USPTO intervened to defend the Board’s decision, pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 143. On appeal, the Court permitted the Director to intervene and affirmed the Board’s decision.

Watchtroll’s obsession with brainwashing Iancu is a problem because that site already bullied Michelle Lee, having unsuccessfully attempted to lobby her (beforehand). Watchtroll still claims to be reading Iancu’s mind and tries to influence him (IAM tries to make him IAMcu). In another couple of new posts Watchtroll brought up Drew Hirshfeld. It’s like they follow him around (Hirshfeld is mentioned there too, alongside Iancu, and there’s this followup post about him).

“They’re malicious lobbyists who even tried to install a corrupt judge at the top of the USPTO.”Expect sites like Watchtroll and IAM to neverendingly harass the Director of the USPTO (no matter who that happens to be) until they get their way. They’re malicious lobbyists who even tried to install a corrupt judge at the top of the USPTO.

Iancu is the prime target of bullies. He’s hopefully able to see that.

Microsoft’s Lobbying for FRAND Pays Off as Microsoft-Connected Patent Troll Conversant (Formerly MOSAID) Goes After Android OEMs in Europe

Thursday 19th of April 2018 09:38:04 AM

Royalty stacking until free/libre platforms become very expensive

Summary: The FRAND (or SEP) lobby seems to have caused a lot of monopolistic patent lawsuits; this mostly affects Linux-powered platforms such as Android, Tizen and webOS and there are new legal actions from Microsoft-connected patent trolls

EARLIER THIS week we wrote a couple of short articles that alluded to Samsung’s small victory over Huawei. For those who don’t know, Huawei is a highly government (or regime) connected entity, more so than a corporation as is known in Western democracies. Huawei nowadays uses patents in an effort to embargo the competition, but that hasn’t been particularly successful outside China (where government connections help). The Asian giants almost always use Android; this includes Huawei and Samsung, which also has the Linux-based Tizen (LG has the Linux-based webOS). As one site put it yesterday:

Back in January, we updated you on the Huawei vs. Samsung patent infringement lawsuit. The big news was that a Chinese court found in favor of Huawei in that dispute.

The patent infringement had to do with Samsung using Huawei’s cellular technology and software patents in various Samsung devices, without paying Huawei the necessary licensing fees. Samsung denied any wrongdoing (as usual), but the court said that Huawei’s patents were indeed infringed upon, and Samsung would have to pay a fine and halt Chinese production and sales of the infringing devices.

Docket Navigator also wrote about Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. et al v Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. et al, showing that the US patent system/law suddenly becomes friendlier (to engineers, not lawyers) than China’s. To quote:

The court granted defendant Samsung’s motion for an antisuit injunction prohibiting plaintiff Huawei from enforcing injunction orders issued by a Chinese court and found that the Chinese injunction orders would frustrate domestic policies.

Boasting a new Samsung patent that we criticised the other day, this one new article says, “Samsung May Use Top Notch in Their Future Phones, New Patent Spotted in China” (so Samsung remains in China in the long run).

LG has already been driven out of China, or least partially. Patent lawsuits accomplished that.

As for Samsung, as we said and showed some days ago, it’s a top target for patent trolls. PACid, for example, is a patent troll whose latest action (against Samsung) belatedly got the attention of Watchtroll.

What we’ve only just noticed (this morning) is this update about MOSAID (now known as “Conversant”) with its litigation campaign in Europe. This Microsoft-connected (and Microsoft-armed) patent troll is still actively harassing companies with litigation in London. It’s nowadays going after Huawei and ZTE. To quote:

Does the English Court have jurisdiction to grant relief in the form of a global FRAND licence in relation to a claim for infringement of UK patents, where UK sales account for only 1% or less of worldwide sales on which royalties are claimed? This was the subject of the decision of Carr J. in the Patents Court on Monday in Conversant Wireless Licensing S.A.R.L v Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, ZTE Corporation and Ors [2018] EWHC 808 (Pat). The answer – on the facts of this case as explained below – was “yes”.

[...]

Conversant commenced proceedings in July 2017, claiming that the Defendants were infringing 4 EP(UK) patents, and sought a determination of FRAND terms for its global SEP portfolio. Conversant’s global portfolio of patents includes SEPS in over 40 countries.

[...]

It was common ground that Art 24(4) (validity of IP rights) and 27 (court first seised) of the Recast Brussels Regulation would require the English Court to declare of its own motion that it had no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon cases concerning the validity of (non-UK) European patents. The Court also assumed that the English Court had no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon cases in which the dispute concerned validity of non-European patents. The Defendants however maintained that Conversant’s claims are in substance claims for infringement of foreign patents – which therefore depend on the validity of foreign patents, which the English Court has no jurisdiction over.

Although Huawei did not formally challenge jurisdiction in Unwired Planet [2017] EWHC 711 (Pat), it did rely upon some jurisdictional arguments to support its argument that a global licence was not FRAND, including that a worldwide FRAND determination in the English Court would undermine existing infringement and validity proceedings in Germany. Carr J. referred to the “simple” and “compelling” analysis of the judge in that case, where it was held that the Brussels Regulation and CJEU case law has nothing to do with what the terms of a FRAND licence should be.

What’s noteworthy about the case is: 1) it’s happening in Europe and 2) there’s a Microsoft connection. Microsoft was never able to blackmail Huawei over its Linux use, but later it managed to do this through Nokia, which also passed (at Microsoft’s instructions) patents to MOSAID (the same troll as above, owing to a rename/rebrand).

Microsoft might think it’s pretty clever by telling us that it “loves Linux” or “uses Linux”. But we’re not stupid enough to not see where patents come from.

To Understand Why People Say That Lawyers are Liars Look No Further Than Misleading Promotion of Software Patents

Thursday 19th of April 2018 09:06:31 AM


Credit: Book cover by Mark Kohler

Summary: Some of the latest misleading claims from the patent microcosm, which is only interested in lots and lots of patents (its bread and butter is monopolies after all) irrespective of their merit, quality, and desirability

THE happenings at the USPTO have been particularly noteworthy this past week. We’ll say a lot about it over the weekend because we prefer to cover EPO scandals as a matter of priority. One aspect we can’t quite wait until the weekend to cover is the lobbying and pressure put on Andrei Iancu. We’ll cover this in the post after our next post. This post will focus on software patents and the next one on litigation.

The patent maximalists are fuming. They have become rather nasty and unpleasant. Some sent me threats by post. Yesterday, for example, Watchtroll (Gene Quinn and Steve Brachmann) reran the “China!” scaremongering. “Increases in Innovation, Patent Boom Leads to Development in China,” says Watchtroll’s headline. But patents have nothing to do with it, it’s just typical Watchtrollism; it’s watching after patent trolls’ interests by promoting patent maximalism. We already did a lot of articles debunking this “China!” nonsense. It’s growing in influence not owing to patents but in spite of patents. China even permits software patents now; does that make China a software powerhouse? Not by a long shot! It’s India, where such patents are banned, which takes the jackpot.

“It’s growing in influence not owing to patents but in spite of patents. China even permits software patents now; does that make China a software powerhouse? Not by a long shot! It’s India, where such patents are banned, which takes the jackpot.”In our view, patent maximalism is a flawed mindset and a ‘brain virus’; one lawyer typically poisons the minds of others with patent maximalism. It has become like a faith and a religion; they’re unable to see facts and instead saturate their minds with more of their nonsense, typically in exclusionary echo chambers that exclude people not like them. These are supposedly well-educated individuals, but greed outweighs the wits and they know they can make more money with patent maximalism (more litigation, draining money out of practising companies). Referring to patents correctly as “monopoly”, this article from yesterday spoke about Lexaria; “Investors benefit from both a legal monopoly and the opportunity to generate royalty,” it said. Yeah, some “opportunity” — the opportunity or the chance to sue everybody. Good for lawyers, not necessarily for investors (especially not investors of the accused/defendants).

This morning an article from Texas turned up to remind us of the $502 million verdict against Apple. We wrote about it earlier this week and last week too. Investors of Apple certainly don’t benefit from this patent troll, VirnetX, suing Apple in such notorious courts. Does that mean that these investors will urge Apple to stop software patents? They would be wise to. Courts and judges that oversee Apple cases appear to think so too.

“Mathematics (geometry) and software. That’s all it boils down. Why would examiners permit that?”But Apple is actively pursuing software patents. Classic computer vision in this new example. It uses the buzzword "AR" to achieve this in spite of Alice etc. “Software giant Apple has filed a patent,” it says, “dubbed “adaptive vehicle augmented reality (AR) display using stereographic imagery”.”

Mathematics (geometry) and software. That’s all it boils down. Why would examiners permit that?

Here is another new example, this time from Mastercard, which is pursuing blockchain patents. To quote:

Blockchain technology is gaining traction amongst mainstream financial service providers as the technology guarantees security, decentralization, cheaper transaction fees and faster ways of sending funds across the globe. Mastercard has also not been left behind in these developments. This is after it was rumored as being one of the payment card providers that refused to support Litecoin (LTC) and its Litepay project.

Mastercard has filed a blockchain system patent to store and verify identity data. The patent application was published on the 12th of April this year. In the abstract of the patent application, the team at Mastercard describes the patent in its intricacies. The team states that traditionally, proof of identy had been provided via government identification, credit cards and business cards and that such proof may be inaccurate or fabricated through fraud. They propose that there is a need for a technical solution to provide for the immutable storage of identity and credential data in a secure and verifiable manner.

Why would that be allowed? These are clearly software patents, which are a disgrace and a distraction. Virtually every software developer rejects them. “Help abolish them for good to make life better for programmers” is what I told this booster of them, but she has not replied. These people just don’t seem to care about quality, only quantity. How about yesterday’s example of Futuri? It’s a firm which “plans to license the IP to be incorporated into other companies’ apps or software.” [1, 2]

“Unfortunately, even though courts repeatedly reject software patents the patent microcosm continues to give bad advice to clients.”Here’s another new example [1, 2] that says “PDCflow announces partnership with US Patent owner Zukunftware, LLC for management and licensing of newly patented technology.”

Unfortunately, even though courts repeatedly reject software patents the patent microcosm continues to give bad advice to clients. Here we have Jonathon P. Western and Steven M. Jensen (from Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.) suggesting a trick for pursuing patents that are now worthless. Yes, software patents are dead in the US (high courts always reject them). Western and Jensen say:

Software patents are generally directed to a sequence of steps or rules, i.e., an algorithm, performed by a computer programmed to carry out the algorithm.

Under Alice that is patently unpatentable. So why bother?

Stuart Meyer, writing for Fenwick & West (greedy patent lawyers and lobbyists for software patents), does try to find new ways/semantic tricks to undermine SCOTUS (Mayo and Alice) and patent software anyway. Yesterday he obsessed over another pair of words: “Directed To” (similar to “as such” or “per se”).

To quote:

It bears noting that although the overall test is often referred to as the Mayo/Alice test, Mayo did not actually use this term at all. That said, Mayo certainly addressed the concept. Justice Breyer, delivering the opinion for a unanimous Court, said “Prometheus’ patents set forth laws of nature….” Similarly, “And so a patent that simply describes that relation sets forth a natural law.” The opinion discussed Einstein and Archimedes to establish that, “A patent, for example, could not simply recite a law of nature and then add the instruction ‘apply the law.’” (emphasis in all three mine)

[...]

Let’s circle back now to our discussion of what the dictionaries said and whether “directed to” is non-exclusive (i.e., the aim can be toward multiple targets) as opposed to the suggestion that “directed at” means only one target. The most current Supreme Court authority (Alice) says the test is whether the claim is directed to patent-ineligible material. So if “directed to” allows multiple targets, it seems that only one such target needs to be non-statutory to potentially doom the patent. But if that’s the case, then it seems insufficient for the court in cases such as Vanda and Enfish to identify a statutory target, since that still leaves open the possibility of other, non-statutory targets. In reality, it seems clear that neither the Supreme Court, nor the Federal Circuit, has really thought about this distinction. The fact remains that very subtle differences in how one thinks about the phrase “directed to” can be outcome-determinative, and we’ve not been provided with sufficient guidance as to how that phrase should be interpreted. The conclusion is the same as in my last post: such uncertainly allows result-oriented opinions that cannot readily lead to any meaningful settling of this fundamental issue. We should demand clarification from either the courts or Congress, since the viability of so many patents depends on what this phrase is understood to mean.

This misconception that because one can fool examiners or trick them into granting makes a patent worth pursuing ought to stop; what typically happens after that is inaction (no assertion, i.e. no RoI) or invalidation (by PTAB or courts). Law firms profit not only from pursuing bogus patents but also disputes over these.

When News About the EPO is Dominated by Sponsored ‘Reports’ and Press Releases Because Publishers Are Afraid of (or Bribed by) the EPO

Thursday 19th of April 2018 07:39:47 AM

The EPO sent Fieldfisher, which seeks to profit from the UPC, to bully us several times


SLAPP action: In their own words

Summary: The lack of curiosity and genuine journalism in Europe may mean that serious abuses (if not corruption) will go unreported

THE EPO scandals will hopefully be covered here as often as they used to be. We’ve slowed down a bit in recent months even though there’s no lack of material to cover. What’s disheartening, however, is seeing how the media no longer writes about EPO scandals. Almost never!

“What’s disheartening, however, is seeing how the media no longer writes about EPO scandals.”
Yesterday we found nothing but this press release about a patent grant, the EPO was mentioned in this sponsored ‘report’ about Asia, and there was another one about Brexit. “UK patent protection will continue to be available through the EPO regardless of how Brexit proceeds,” it says, but nobody ever doubted that (that’s just a talking point of Team UPC in the UK). From the press release:

Provectus Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. (OTCQB: PVCT, www.provectusbio.com) (“Provectus” or the “Company”), a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing PV-10 as the first small molecule oncolytic immunotherapy for solid tumor cancers, today announced that the Japan Patent Office (JPO) had granted and the European Patent Office (EPO) had allowed the Company’s patent application for the combination of PV-10 with systemic immunomodulatory therapy (i.e., immune checkpoint inhibition). Pfizer, Inc. is a co-assignee on the award and allowance.

Shiri Burema and Rene van Duijvenbode (NLO), in this final sponsored ‘report’ at IAM, talk about oppositions at the EPO — something that staff is unable to do under the current regime, due to overload. Here’s their introduction:

The third and fourth installments of our European Patent Office (EPO) opposition series discussed the performance of private patent firms. This highlighted cases where (external) professional representation in opposition was sought by a patentee or an opponent (often a company) (for further details please see “EPO opposition: private practice patent firm’s engagement” and “EPO opposition: private practice patent firm’s core technologies”). However, some EPO oppositions are handled by companies on thier own through in-house patent attorneys (ie, sidestepping the need for external representation).

The fifth and final installment in our series highlights the share, performance and technological expertise of representation by in-house patent attorneys in 2016 EPO oppositions.

Firms like NLO (the authors’) make money from oppositions. In other words, bad quality of patents may mean additional work (and income) for them. Examiners might not like to admit this, but in many ways their interests are opposite of the patent microcosm’s. That includes thugs from Fieldfisher.

The Boards of Appeal at the European Patent Organisation (EPO) Complain That They Are Understaffed, Not Just Lacking the Independence They Depend on

Thursday 19th of April 2018 06:42:14 AM

The Office still controls and sometimes punishes judges

Summary: The Boards of Appeal have released a report and once again they openly complain that they’re unable to do their job properly, i.e. patent quality cannot be assured

THE management of the EPO has, in our humble assessment, destroyed the EPO. It’s broken beyond repair. It may never recover. Even leadership has been compromised as it’s now succession-based, with Battistelli choosing his successor. Not to mention all the toxic people he brought in after he had seized power. It’s grotesque, yet that’s where we are today. To be most frank, I do not think EPO will ever recover, not even with reporting that exposes the corruption. It’ll like abuse is just far too deeply embedded in the Organisation now, not just the Office. Oversight has been obliterated. Assumptions of goodwill (e.g. given huge budget with endless power and minimal oversight) might seem OK in theory. When you put a thug in charge, as happened about a decade ago, it will inevitably go bonkers. Even the media, which is supposed to cover such abuses, is being bribed by the Organisation. It’s not a very obvious bribe, but it still is a ‘soft’ bribe (we covered that subject a decade ago) and it has more or less the same effects. Academia too has been compromised. EPO budget, instead of improving the integrity of the EPO, has helped the EPO poison everything. Judges are being bullied, bloggers like myself habitually receive legal threats, votes are allegedly being ‘bought’, and my site (Techrights) has been blocked/banned by the EPO for over 3 years not because of falsehoods but because it helped expose EPO abuses.

What gives?

“Judges are being bullied, bloggers like myself habitually receive legal threats, votes are allegedly being ‘bought’, and my site (Techrights) has been blocked/banned by the EPO for over 3 years not because of falsehoods but because it helped expose EPO abuses.”Where are so-called ‘news’ sites about patents? Do they not care? Not even European sites? The systems they rely on (for coverage) are rotting away. Look at IAM! Benoît Battistelli is joined by the hip to it. This patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, has given a keynote talk to him (Palace Hotel in San Francisco) — one in which he will promote software patents. Joff Wild wrote about this yesterday. Another keynote will be delivered by Andrei Iancu (Director of USPTO) as he will be there too. The EPO is nowadays promoting software patents even in the US, as we noted two days ago. The EPO did this again yesterday. Such software patents advocacy from the EPO (in Seattle) should make one question the EPO’s motivations. Is anyone at all keeping an eye on the EPO’s behaviour? It definitely doesn’t seem so.

Yesterday, Graham McGlashan from Marks & Clerk wrote: “The European Patent Office (EPO) will potentially allow a patent if the claimed subject matter is novel and inventive and provides a technical contribution in a technical field – even if the invention is computer-implemented.”

This should not be happening. But who can hold them accountable? The Boards of Appeal have been marginalised and judges are afraid.

“The Boards of Appeal have been marginalised and judges are afraid.”“Maybe instead of raiding booths over patent allegations,” I told IAM, “they should raid events like IAM IPBC to arrest corrupt officials.”

The Boards of Appeal have already complained about the management. Just recall what they wrote about Battistelli. Recall what we wrote yesterday about the imminent scandal in France. A lot of EPO insiders have been speaking about this for quite some time.

The Boards of Appeal were mentioned again yesterday by the EPO. There was a white-washing tweet about it, just one of many that they post every day this month. “The Boards of Appeal are no longer independent,” I told them. “Corrupt management at the EPO rendered them incapable of operating.”

The EPO tweeted this shortly after it had published this new page [promoted via Twitter] in which it said: (warning: epo.org link)

The first Annual report of the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office since the introduction of a comprehensive set of reforms has been published.

In June 2016, the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation has adopted a set of reforms to strengthen efficiency and the perception of independence of the Boards of Appeal.

This has since then been covered by only two sites, IPPro Patents and World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR).

From IPPro Patents:

More manpower is needed at the European Patent Office to ensure the “proper functioning of the appeal system under the European Patent Convention”, according to a report from the office.

The report, which looks at the EPO’s Boards of Appeal and provides detailed statistics on its proceedings, said that more manpower was “essential to the patent litigation system in Europe”.

In terms of conduct, the Boards of Appeal increased their performance in 2017, while maintaining high quality, according to the report.

[...]

The source added: “For the moment, this is nothing else but another official statement delivered under the mandate of EPO president Benoît Battistelli, whose actions at the address of Directorate General 3 can be globally assessed as a very negative one.”

“We hope that new president-elect, António Campinos, will grasp the real nature of the situation inherited from Battistelli and that he will take the right decisions for the benefit of the EPO and all its stakeholders.”

“Words are fine, but at the EPO, staff prefer to judge based on facts.”

Understaffing and bullying (collectively punishing them) meant lower quality of patents and no oversight. No patent justice left?

Here is what WIPR wrote:

Significantly more manpower will be necessary in the coming years to ensure the proper functioning of the European Patent Office’s (EPO) appeal system, a report has said.

In an annual report, released today, the EPO’s Boards of Appeal said that although the boards managed to improve their performance and maintain quality last year, additional resources in the workforce and facilities will be necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the appeal system in the future.

The report added that, in light of the steady increase in the number of appeals filed, improving working methods and efficiency by a target of 32% will not be enough to deal with the stock of almost 9,000 cases “in a timely manner and at the same time secure the high quality that users rightfully expect from a judicial authority whose decisions are final”.

SUEPO has not yet taken note of these articles, perhaps realising that these aren’t particularly good (in our humble opinion) because they soft-peddle on the scandals.

“There are many reasons to believe Campinos will just be a ‘faceplate’ change, not constituting any substantial change in policy.”Do not expect António Campinos to change things for the better. It’s all talk and pretense (the Battistelli way).

There are many reasons to believe Campinos will just be a ‘faceplate’ change, not constituting any substantial change in policy. We’ll say a lot more about it in July. Staff should not be misled by this stunt or build up hopes of a turnaround; it just won’t happen and according to the new JUVE survey, only 1 in 7 respondents (to a survey) thought Campinos was a positive thing.

Links 18/4/2018: New Fedora 27 ISOs, Nextcloud Wins German Government Contract

Wednesday 18th of April 2018 09:57:10 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Launching Netrunner 18.03 for the Pinebook

      The team over at Netrunner have just announced the launch of Netrunner 18.03 Idolon for the Pinebook. This is the direct result of a year of collaboration between the Netrunner, Pine and KDE Communities in a effort to drive down memory consumption, fix glitches in the graphics stack and enabling accelerated video decode, all of which has resulted in a product that showcases the coming together of the amazing software from KDE and some brilliant hardware engineering from the folks over at Pine.

      It’s been quite a journey for my colleagues and I at Blue Systems in putting together this product. We have had to delve into areas where we originally did not have the expertise to fix bugs and constantly push the boundaries of our abilities. This was especially challenging in the ARM world since there are parts of the stack that were proprietary, meaning we cannot debug those parts, leading to many frustrating evenings having been spent on trying to reverse engineer buggy behaviour.

  • Server
    • Docker Enterprise Edition 2.0 Launches With Secured Kubernetes

      After months of development effort, Kubernetes is now fully supported in the stable release of the Docker Enterprise Edition.

      Docker Inc. officially announced Docker EE 2.0 on April 17, adding features that have been in development in the Docker Community Edition (CE) as well as enhanced enterprise grade capabilities. Docker first announced its intention to support Kubernetes in October 2017. With Docker EE 2.0, Docker is providing a secured configuration of Kubernetes for container orchestration.

      “Docker EE 2.0 brings the promise of choice,” Docker Chief Operating Officer Scott Johnston told eWEEK. “We have been investing heavily in security in the last few years, and you’ll see that in our Kubernetes integration as well.”

    • The Agony and the Ecstasy of Cloud Billing [Ed: There’s no such thing as "cloud". In this particular context it just means server space rental.]

      Back in the mists of antiquity when I started reading Linux Journal, figuring out what an infrastructure was going to cost was (although still obnoxious in some ways) straightforward. You’d sign leases with colocation providers, buy hardware that you’d depreciate on a schedule and strike a deal in blood with a bandwidth provider, and you were more or less set until something significant happened to your scale.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • 5 Things to understand before switching to Linux – For The Record

      1 – Linux isn’t Windows. There is no magical company to go to,things will behave differently. If you expect a parity experience, you’re going to be disappointed. Software types, source of software or installing a new driver.

      2 – Linux does what it’s told to. Something isn’t working? Odds are, it’s just not working as expected it means you need to adjust a configuration or rethink the tools used to interact with Linux. This includes hardware not appearing to work, audio and video.

      3 – Linux applications may work differently than legacy applications. MS Word vs LibreOffice, Photoshop vs GIMP, exe installers vs repositories.

      4 – Linux offers choice. Different distros, desktop environments and methods of application installation.

    • EzeeLinux Show 18.16 | Facebook, Time Out & Finding Configuration Files

      Guest appearance on “Time Out” with Kevin Gallagher: We talk a bit about Facebook’s latest controversy, talk about Kevin Gallagher’s “Time Out” show and take a look at where configuration files are stored on Linux systems.

  • Kernel Space
    • Detailing The Idle Loop Ordering Problem & The Power Improvement In Linux 4.17

      Of the many great features/changes for Linux 4.17, one of the most exciting to us is the idle power efficiency and performance-per-Watt improvements on some systems thanks to a rework to the kernel’s idle loop handling. Rafael Wysocki and Thomas Ilsche as two of the developers working on this big code change presented on their work today for this CPU idle loop ordering problem and its resolution.

    • Linux 4.17 development underway

      Linus Torvalds has started the development cycle of the Linux 4.17 kernel series, according to a report by Softpedia.

      The first Release Candidate build has been released, and comes two weeks after the launch of Linux 4.16.

      “Public testers can start downloading, compiling, and installing the upcoming Linux 4.17 kernel,” stated the report.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Linux Foundation seeks to harmonise open source and standards development

        A year ago The Linux Foundation created its ‘Harmonisation 1.0′ initiative, focusing on collaboration between projects and with standards bodies. It brought together a set of open source projects, which together form the basis of the modern telecoms systems. Open source creates three values for telcos: speed to services, vendor collaboration, and cost reductions. The LF is also creating a framework between open source and standards communities; for example, this year it announced an agreement with the TM Forum, focused on the APIs that work between the two communities.

      • Making the Most Out of Microservices with Service Mesh

        In this article, we talk with Andrew Jenkins, Lead Architect at Aspen Mesh, about moving from monolithic apps to microservices and cut through some of the hype around service mesh for managing microservice architectures. For more on service mesh, consider attending KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU, May 2-4, 2018 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

      • Cloud Foundry for Developers: Definitions

        In the first article in our series on the Cloud Foundry for Developers training course, we explained what Cloud Foundry is and how it’s used. We continue our journey here with a look at some basic terms. Understanding the terminology is the key to not being in a constant state of bewilderment, so here are the most important terms and concepts to know for Cloud Foundry.

      • What’s the Value of CI/CD?
    • Graphics Stack
      • Broadcom VC5 DRM Driver Might Soon Be On Its Way To The Mainline Linux Kernel

        Eric Anholt believes he is getting quite close to the stage of merging the Broadcom VC5 DRM driver into the mainline Linux kernel tree.

        As part of the VC5 open-source driver stack for supporting the next-gen Broadcom VideoCore 5 graphics hardware, there’s been the VC5 Gallium3D driver that is already in mainline Mesa for OpenGL support and the VC5 DRM driver that has been outside of the kernel tree up until now. (There’s also been the also out-of-tree experimental work on VC5 Vulkan support via BCMV, etc.)

      • NVIDIA 396.18.02 Vulkan Linux Beta Brings Better Shader Performance

        Last week NVIDIA released their first 396 Linux driver beta that most notably introduces their new “NVVM” Vulkan SPIR-V compiler. Coming out today is a new Vulkan beta update with some continued enhancements.

      • AMDVLK Driver Updated With Latest XGL/PAL Fixes

        AMD kicked off the start of a new week by doing fresh code drops of the PAL and XGL code-bases used to form the AMDVLK open-source Radeon Vulkan Linux driver.

        On the XGL side this latest code drop of around one thousand lines of code reduces the number of malloc/free calls, support for INT64 atomic operations within LLPC (the LLVM Pipeline Compiler), other tweaks to LLPC, more barriers in the render pass clear, adding FMASK shadow table support, and other changes.

      • X.Org 2018 Elections Yield 54% Voter Turnout, Select Four New Board Members

        The 2018 X.Org Board of Directors elections are over with 49 of the 91 X.Org registered members having casted a ballot.

        The new X.Org Board of Directors members are Bryce Harrington (Samsung OSG, formerly Canonical), Eric Anholt (Broadcom, formerly Intel), Keith Packard (HPE / Valve, formerly Intel), and Harry Wentland (AMD).

    • Benchmarks
      • P-State/CPUFreq CPU Frequency Scaling Tests For Radeon/NVIDIA Gaming With Linux 4.16

        With last week’s release of Feral GameMode as a system tool to optimize Linux gaming performance, which at this point just toggles the CPU frequency scaling driver’s governor to the “performance” mode, reignited the CPU governor debate, here are some fresh Linux gaming benchmarks. Tests were done with both the CPUFreq and P-State scaling drivers on Linux 4.16 while testing the various governor options and using both AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards.

        This comparison shows how a GeForce GTX 1080 and Radeon RX Vega 64 perform under the different CPU frequency scaling driver/governor options on the Linux 4.16 stable kernel. Tests were done with an Intel Core i7 8700K running at stock speeds throughout the entire benchmarking process.

  • Applications
    • Tuptime – Tool to Display Uptime History of Linux System

      The primary task of the system administrators is monitoring and examine Linux system and how long its been promenade. This article demonstrates use of Tuptime tool that help’s System Administrators to analyse how long Linux machine is up and running.

      Tuptime tool counts accidental system restarts and not just only uptime of system. When tuptime is installed on system it registers first boot time after installation. Once the first boot time is registered from there onwards it checks for system tuptime and downtime and represents it in Percentage (%). Tuptime also registers current tuptime of system from last restart. Reports Largest Running system Time, Shortest Running System Time & Average of both.

    • dutree – A CLI Tool to Analyze Disk Usage in Coloured Output

      dutree is a free open-source, fast command-line tool for analyzing disk usage, written in Rust programming language. It is developed from durep (disk usage reporter) and tree (list directory content in tree-like format) command line tools. dutree therefore reports disk usage in a tree-like format.

    • gotop – A Tool to Monitor System Activity in Linux

      Every Linux administrator has it’s own preferences on how to monitor processes in terminal. And you probably know about tools like top and htop. These are tools for process monitoring in terminal without any visualization. And you probably know about gtop and vtop which are also process monitoring terminal tools, but with visualization. In this article, we are going to install and use another terminal based graphical activity monitor called gotop. Unlike the two mentioned above, gotop is written in Go.

    • Nginx 1.14 Web Server Released

      Nginx 1.14.0 is now available as the latest open-source stable release of this popular web server alternative to Apache.

    • A look at Mixxx in GNU/Linux

      Most people tend to think of DJ’s using Macbooks alongside their equipment when picturing a DJ who uses a laptop in today’s world, but little do most realize that GNU/Linux systems can hold their own as well.

      As a part-time dabbler in electronic music production (read: I mix tunes for my own amusement, and a couple uploaded here and there) I have a few programs that I bounce around from depending on the purpose I need, but generally speaking I don’t really muck around a lot with things, and I tend to prefer to just simply mix two songs together live and on the fly, record it, and win.

    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Games
      • Retro-inspired racer Horizon Chase Turbo announced with Linux support

        Aquiris Game Studio, developer of FPS Ballistic Overkill has announced their retro-inspired racing game Horizon Chase Turbo [Official Site].

        It’s actually a revamp of an older title of their’s named Horizon Chase World Tour, only this time it’s not locked to mobile platforms and it will be getting a Linux version too! Honestly, it looks like a really fantastic attempt to bring out a classic-style racing game for a new generation of players.

      • RUINER officially released for Linux on Steam, coming to GOG soon

        RUINER, the absolutely brutal and damn fun action game is now out of beta and officially available on Steam, with a GOG release to follow. I have it confirmed from my GOG contacts it will land soonish, but if you doubt my own word, the developer said so on the Steam forum as well.

        I already wrote some thoughts up on the game here, so I won’t reiterate too much. As it stands, it’s an excellent action game full of character customisation with tons of perks you can activate and deactivate any time, brutal take-downs and plenty of blood.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Amarok – A Powerful Cross Platform Music Player

        Amarok is a cross-platform, free, and Open Source music player written in Qt (C++). It was first released on June 23, 2003, and even though it is part of the KDE project, Amarok is released as a software independent of the central KDE Software Compilation release cycle.

        It features a clean, responsive, and customizable User Interface along with Last.fm support, Jamendo service, Dynamic playlists, context view, PopUp dropper, bookmarking, file tracking, multi-language support, and smooth fade-out settings, among many other options.

      • CMake 3.11 in FreeBSD

        The latest release of CMake has landed in FreeBSD. Prior to release we had good contact with KitWare via the bug tracker so there were few surprises left in the actual release. There were still a few last-minute fixes left, in KDE applications no less.

      • KDE Connect: more album art & bluetooth coming soon

        Secondly, I’ve been working a bit on KDE Connect’s bluetooth support. The code was mostly working already, but the remaining stuff is (of course) the hardest part! Nevertheless, more and more parts start working, so I assume it’ll come your way in a couple of months. I’ll post an update when it’s ready for testing.

      • New in Qt 3D 5.11: Generalized Ray Casting

        The 5.11 release of Qt 3D is mostly about speed and stability but it also introduces a number of new features.

        One of them is generalized ray casting which can be used to find objects intersecting a 3d ray.

      • Qt 5.11 Bringing Generalized Ray Casting Support For 3D Module

        The Qt 3D ray-casting support is to be used for finding objects intersecting a 3D ray. This generalized ray-casting support is expected to be useful for applications making use of secondary controllers and VR environments among other possible use-cases where you would want to see what objects intersect with an arbitrary ray.

        For Qt developers wanting to learn more about this generalized ray-casting support coming to Qt 3D, the folks at the KDAB consulting firm have put out a lengthy blog post detailing this new feature for the upcoming Qt 5.11 release.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
  • Distributions
    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Debian 11 “Bullseye” & Debian 12 “Bookworm” Are Coming After Debian 10 “Buster”

        While we’re waiting for the Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster” operating system series to be released, it looks like the Debian Release Team announced the codenames for the next two upcoming releases.

        Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster” is already halfway through its development cycle, and the release team recently published an update to inform users and developers about the release dates of various upcoming milestones, such as Transition Freeze on 12 January 2019, Soft Freeze on 12 February 2019, and Full Freeze on 12 March 2019, as well as the approximate final release date.

      • TeX Live 2018 for Debian

        TeX Live 2018 has hit Debian/unstable today. The packages are based on what will be (most likely, baring any late desasters) on the TeX Live DVD which is going to press this week. This brings the newest and shiniest version of TeX Live to Debian. There have

      • alioth deprecation – next steps

        As you should be aware, alioth.debian.org will be decommissioned with the EOL of wheezy, which is at the end of May. The replacement for the main part of alioth, git, is alive and out of beta, you know it as salsa.debian.org. If you did not move your git repository yet, hurry up, time is running out.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu Server development summary – 17 April 2018

            The purpose of this communication is to provide a status update and highlights for any interesting subjects from the Ubuntu Server Team.

          • MAAS 2.4.0 beta 2 released!

            I’m happy to announce that MAAS 2.4.0 beta 2 is now released and is available for Ubuntu Bionic.

          • LXD weekly status #43

            This week’s focus was on bugfixes with a good number of clustering related fixes and improvements as well as some tweaks and fixes to other recently added features.

            On the feature development front, the current focus is on improving the database tooling in LXD and adding a new backup feature to the API to implement container export/import.

          • The Enjoyable Ubuntu MATE 18.04 Beta 2

            It’s beautiful, it’s lovely, it’s amusing, it’s Ubuntu MATE 18.04 beta 2. It is an LTS version which will be supported for 3 years. It’s more just-work now with a set of different appearances for Windows users (“Redmond”), for Mac OS X users (“Cupertino”), for Unity 7 users (“Mutiny”), and of course for long time Ubuntu MATE users themselves (“Traditional”). It comes with special Welcome program to introduce Ubuntu MATE for any new user, it comes with same experience like previous versions but latest applications (LibreOffice 6.0, Firefox 59, MATE Desktop 1.20) and enhancements, it needs only mid-level specs. with around 640MiB of RAM, and those all made Ubuntu MATE beta 2 really enjoyable. This short review will help you expecting what you will get on Ubuntu MATE final release later on April 26. Enjoy!

          • Ubuntu 18.04 Beta – The good, the bad and mostly ugly

            In about two weeks, Canonical will release its next LTS, 18.04 Bionic Beaver. What makes it special is that it’s going to be running a Gnome 3 desktop instead of Unity, a sort of full-circle reversal of direction and strategy, and that means … uncertainty. With Trusty Tahr being the only production Linux system in my setup, I am quite intrigued and concerned, because I need to choose my next LTS carefully.

            So far, the prospect isn’t encouraging, given the more-than-lukewarm performance by Aardvark. There’s a lot of hope in the Plasma spin, given the stellar performance of the Plasma desktop recently, but that’s still a big unknown, especially since Kubuntu 17.10 was a regression compared to the most magnificent and awesome Zesty Zapus. Therefore, I decided to check this beta, to see what gives ahead of the official release. Normally, I don’t like testing unfinished products, but this be an extraordinary occasion. Let’s do it.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • You Can Now Create Your Own Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Live System with Pinguy Builder

              Pinguy Builder, the open-source and free graphical utility that lets the developers of the Ubuntu-based Pinguy OS distro build their operating system, has been recently updated with support for Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus), Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark), and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) support.

              Pinguy Builder is a fork of the well known Remastersys tool that’s no longer maintained. It contains all the scripts needed to create a live ISO image of any of the supported Ubuntu Linux releases in a few minutes and without too much hassle. Also, it can be used to backup your Ubuntu system.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source Leftovers
  • Hardware
    • U.S. Moves to Block Sales by Chinese Telecom Equipment Makers

      The United States undercut China’s technology ambitions on Tuesday, advancing a new rule that would limit the ability of Chinese telecommunications companies to sell their products in this country.

      The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to move forward with a plan that would prevent federally subsidized telecommunications carriers from using suppliers deemed to pose a risk to American national security. The decision takes direct aim at Huawei, which makes telecommunications network equipment and smartphones, and its main Chinese rival, ZTE, sending a message that the government doesn’t trust them.

      A day earlier, the government barred ZTE from using components made in the United States, saying the company had failed to punish employees who violated American sanctions against North Korea and Iran.

    • Huawei, Failing to Crack U.S. Market, Signals a Change in Tactics

      In a grand hotel ballroom on Tuesday, Huawei executives laid out a soaring vision for the future. The Chinese electronics giant, already the world’s biggest supplier of the equipment that powers the wireless age, now wants to provide the digital backbone for artificial intelligence, the internet of things and other transformative technologies.

      But that future is increasingly looking as if it will not include the United States.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Carlos Correa Named Head Of Intergovernmental South Centre

      Prof. Carlos Correa of Argentina, an influential academic whose analyses of patents and medicines access have informed debates and challenged the status quo for decades, has been named the next executive director of the South Centre. He will take over for Martin Khor, who will be retiring after nine years at the helm. Separately, former South African President Thabo Mbeki was named chair of the Board.

    • Patents On Delivery Devices Can Extend Drug Patent Protection For Years, Study Finds

      The number of patents for drug delivery devices has shot up in recent years, and has had the effect of significantly extending the protection enjoyed by patented pharmaceuticals, delaying cheaper versions of the drugs and leading to higher prices, a recent paper found. And in a Q&A below, one of the authors raises an issue for policymakers.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • McAfee’s Upgraded Cloud Security Protects Containers [Ed: Looks like marketing/spam from ECT]
    • 55 Infosec Professionals Sign Letter Opposing Georgia’s Computer Crime Bill

      In a letter to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, 55 cybersecurity professionals from around the country are calling for a veto for S.B. 315, a state bill that would give prosecutors new power to target independent security researchers.

      This isn’t just a matter of solidarity among those in the profession. Georgia represents our nation’s third largest information security sector. The signers have clients, partners, and offices in Georgia. They attend conferences in Georgia. They teach and study in Georgia or recruit students from Georgia. And they all agree that S.B. 315, which would create a new crime of “unauthorized access,” would do more harm than good.

    • Has a Russian intelligence agent hacked your wifi? [iophk: "AV is not relevant; there are two main ways to avoid malware" : *BSD and */Linux"]

      In short, a global, invisible, low-level conflict is taking place across the internet and it is possible that your router has been conscripted as a foot soldier. Maybe it is worth getting your firewall and antivirus checked out after all.

    • U.S. & U.K. Issue Joint Warning About Risks of Russian Cyberattacks
    • Demonstrating Tamper Detection with Heads

      We are excited about the future of Heads on Librem laptops and the extra level of protection it can give customers. As a result we’ve both been writing about it a lot publicly and working on it a lot privately. What I’ve realized when I’ve talked to people about Heads and given demos, is that many people have never seen a tamper-evident boot process before. All of the concepts around tamper-evident boot are pretty abstract and it can be difficult to fully grasp how it protects you if you’ve never seen it work.

      We have created a short demo that walks through a normal Heads boot process and demonstrates tamper detection. In the interest of keeping the demo short I only briefly described what was happening. In this post I will elaborate on what you are seeing in the video.

    • Stop Using Six Digit Numeric iPhone Passcodes Right Now
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Russian reporter Borodin dead after mystery fall

      In recent weeks, the journalist had written about Russian mercenaries known as the “Wagner Group” who were reportedly killed in Syria on 7 February in a confrontation with US forces.

    • The search for truth in the rubble of Douma – and one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack

      This is the story of a town called Douma, a ravaged, stinking place of smashed apartment blocks – and of an underground clinic whose images of suffering allowed three of the Western world’s most powerful nations to bomb Syria last week. There’s even a friendly doctor in a green coat who, when I track him down in the very same clinic, cheerfully tells me that the “gas” videotape which horrified the world – despite all the doubters – is perfectly genuine.

      War stories, however, have a habit of growing darker. For the same 58-year old senior Syrian doctor then adds something profoundly uncomfortable: the patients, he says, were overcome not by gas but by oxygen starvation in the rubbish-filled tunnels and basements in which they lived, on a night of wind and heavy shelling that stirred up a dust storm.

    • CIA Director Pompeo met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over Easter weekend

      CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a top-secret visit to North Korea over Easter weekend as an envoy for President Trump to meet with that country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, according to two people with direct knowledge of the trip.

      The extraordinary meeting between one of Trump’s most trusted emissaries and the authoritarian head of a rogue state was part of an effort to lay the groundwork for direct talks between Trump and Kim about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, according to the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the highly classified nature of the talks.

    • Blowing up Lack of ‘Evidence’ in Syria Chemical Attack

      Just a few hours before the arrival in Syria of UN chemical weapons inspectors to investigate the use of chemicals in Duma, a Damascus suburb where last week 42 persons were reportedly killed, the attack against Syrian government chemical facilities by the U.S. and its British and French allies with neither U.N. nor Congressional authorization is a bit suspicious–to put it mildly.

      For the three Western nations to to bomb before the international inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) could check the bodies of those killed for chemicals, take soil samples, talk to survivors and compare the results with what is in the Syrian government chemical facilities is bewildering– unless the U.S., UK and France knew the UN inspectors were going to find NOTHING to substantiate their assessment. Without any evidence, but with merely a “high possibility”, the three countries were going to attack Syria anyway.

    • An Alternative Explanation to the Skripal Mystery

      For weeks, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have insisted that there is “no alternative explanation” to Russian government responsibility for the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury last month.

      But in fact the British government is well aware that such an alternative explanation does exist. It is based on the well-documented fact that the “Novichok” nerve agent synthesized by Soviet scientist in the 1980s had been sold by the scientist–who led the development of the nerve agent– to individuals linked to Russian criminal organizations as long ago as 1994 and was used to kill a Russian banker in 1995.

      The connection between the Novichok nerve agent and a previous murder linked to the murky Russian criminal underworld would account for the facts of the Salisbury poisoning far better than the official line that it was a Russian government assassination attempt.

      The credibility of the May government’s attempt to blame it on Russian President Vladimir Putin has suffered because of Yulia Skripal’s relatively rapid recovery, the apparent improvement of Sergei Skripal’s condition and a medical specialist’s statement that the Skripals had exhibited no symptoms of nerve agent poisoning.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Watchdog Rules EPA Broke Law with $43,000 Soundproof Phone Booth

      The Government Accountability Office has ruled the Environmental Protection Agency broke the law by spending $43,000 to install a soundproof phone booth for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. It’s the latest ethics scandal to hit Pruitt, who is also facing scrutiny over revelations the EPA has spent $3 million on his security detail. The EPA first claimed the spending was justified due to death threats against Pruitt, but then admitted, in response to a FOIA request, that there are no records of death threats against Pruitt.

  • Finance
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • FBI Raiding NSA Employee’s Home Revealing Over 4 Million ‘Dick Pics’ Is Fake News

      The Federal Bureau of Investigation raiding a National Security Agency employee’s home revealing over 4 Million “dick pictures” is fake news. There is no truth to a report that a NSA employee’s home had been involved in a FBI raid with the government agency seizing over 4 million “dick pics” not belonging to him but rather other men on his computers. If the story sounds wild and crazy that is because it is just that as it is false.

    • The Company Michael Cohen Kept — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

      Long before Donald Trump’s attorney paid Stormy Daniels or had his office raided by the FBI, a pattern was established: The associates of Michael Cohen have often been disciplined, disbarred, accused or convicted of crimes.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Covering up of half-naked warrior statue for Islamic conference in Italy criticised as cultural censorship

      The covering up of a marble statue of a muscular, half-naked Greek warrior for a conference on Islam in Italy has drawn accusations of overly-zealous cultural censorship.

      The reclining statue of Epaminondas, a fourth century BC general who fought for the liberation of the Greek city-state of Thebes, was draped in a red satin sheet to spare the sensibilities of Muslim delegates.

      Conservative politicians seized on the case, claiming it was an example of Italy going too far to accommodate the feelings of immigrant communities.

    • Telegram Founder Pledges Millions to Fight Russian ‘Political Censorship’

      Pavel Durov, the founder of the popular Telegram messaging service, has pledged millions of dollars to fund tools that would allow users to sidestep new Internet restrictions imposed by the Russian government.

      Russian Internet providers began to block access to Telegram on Monday following a court decision last week ruling to block the app over its refusal to provide the security services with keys to decrypt private conversations. The number of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses that have been blocked in Russia since the move has ballooned to 17 million by mid-Tuesday, from 2 million earlier in the day.

    • Theaters In Saudi Arabia To Show Movies – But Not Without Censorship

      Saudi Arabia is lifting the ban on movies shown in theaters — but moviegoers can likely expect censored versions.

      The showing of “Black Panther” breaks a 35-year prohibition of motion pictures in the country. And while “Black Panther” has already celebrated international success, the film may have fewer difficulties adapting to strict guidelines than other films, such as “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

      Last year, Saudi Arabia announced that movies shown there can’t contradict “Sharia Laws and moral values in the Kingdom.”

      And while the country has yet to issue a public list of what exactly the film restrictions will look like, we can gain clues from looking at patterns in the region.

    • Censorship Gaining Foothold In Pakistan

      Censorship appears to be increasingly gripping Pakistani media as journalists, watchdogs, and media organizations blame attempts by the country’s powerful military to silence critics and prevent the coverage of protests that criticize its policies and actions.

      This week, several leading newspapers either refused to publish articles on the Pashtuns’ protests or deleted stories they had already published. Organized under the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) or Pashtun Protection Movement, members of Pakistan’s second-largest ethnic group have rallied to demand security and rights.

      This month, Geo TV — Pakistan’s leading television news channel — was prevented from reaching audiences through cable networks. On April 16, a provincial court ordered a government regulator to ensure that “anti-judiciary” speeches of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz were prevented from being aired on television. The two have campaigned against the military’s attempted to micromanage politics in the country.

    • #Metoo in China: fledgling movement in universities fights censorship

      Peking University, China’s top academic institution, admitted this month that 20 years ago a professor had been involved in “inappropriate student-teacher relations” with a female student. Former classmates of that student, Gao Yan, a star pupil studying Chinese literature, say she was raped and that the assault pushed her to commit suicide less than a year later.

      The university said in a statement on 6 April that at the time they concluded the professor, Shen Yang, had “handled the situation very imprudently” and he was given an administrative warning and demerit in the summer of 1998, about four months after Gao’s suicide. Shen has denied the allegations by Gao’s classmates, calling them “total nonsense”.

      For one student, that wasn’t enough. Deng Yuhao, an undergraduate at Peking University studying maths, posted a statement on WeChat on 7 April calling for students and teachers to pressure the university to release more details of their investigation. His article was viewed or shared more than a million times.

    • How Government Pressure Has Turned Transparency Reports From Free Speech Celebrations To Censorship Celebrations

      For many years now, various internet companies have released Transparency Reports. The practice was started by Google years back (oddly, Google itself fails me in finding its original trasnparency report). Soon many other internet companies followed suit, and, while it took them a while, the telcos eventually joined in as well.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • From USENET to Facebook: The second time as farce

      I want to think about what we can learn from the forerunners of modern social networks—specifically about USENET, the proto-internet of the 1980s and 90s. (The same observations probably apply to BBSs, though I’m less familiar with them.) USENET was a decentralized and unmanaged system that allowed Unix users to exchange “posts” by sending them to hundreds of newsgroups. It started in the early 80s, peaked sometime around 1995, and arguably ended as tragedy (though it went out with a whimper, not a bang).

      As a no-holds-barred Wild West sort of social network, USENET was filled with everything we rightly complain about today. It was easy to troll and be abusive; all too many participants did it for fun. Most groups were eventually flooded by spam, long before spam became a problem for email. Much of that spam distributed pornography or pirated software (“warez”). You could certainly find newsgroups in which to express your inner neo-Nazi or white supremacist self. Fake news? We had that; we had malicious answers to technical questions that would get new users to trash their systems. And yes, there were bots; that technology isn’t as new as we’d like to think.

      But there was a big divide on USENET between moderated and unmoderated newsgroups. Posts to moderated newsgroups had to be approved by a human moderator before they were pushed to the rest of the network. Moderated groups were much less prone to abuse. They weren’t immune, certainly, but moderated groups remained virtual places where discussion was mostly civilized, and where you could get questions answered. Unmoderated newsgroups were always spam-filled and frequently abusive, and the alt.* newsgroups, which could be created by anyone, for any reason, matched anything we have now for bad behavior.

    • Congressmembers Raise Doubts About the “Going Dark” Problem

      In the wake of a damning report by the DOJ Office of Inspector General (OIG), Congress is asking questions about the FBI’s handling of the locked iPhone in the San Bernardino case and its repeated claims that widespread encryption is leading to a “Going Dark” problem. For years, DOJ and FBI officials have claimed that encryption is thwarting law enforcement and intelligence operations, pointing to large numbers of encrypted phones that the government allegedly cannot access as part of its investigations. In the San Bernardino case specifically, the FBI maintained that only Apple could assist with unlocking the shooter’s phone.

      But the OIG report revealed that the Bureau had other resources at its disposal, and on Friday members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray that included several questions to put the FBI’s talking points to the test. Not mincing words, committee members write that they have “concerns that the FBI has not been forthcoming about the extent of the ‘Going Dark’ problem.”

      In court filings, testimony to Congress, and in public comments by then-FBI Director James Comey and others, the agency claimed that it had no possible way of accessing the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. But the letter, signed by 10 representatives from both parties, notes that the OIG report “undermines statements that the FBI made during the litigation and consistently since then, that only the device manufacturer could provide a solution.” The letter also echoes EFF’s concerns that the FBI saw the litigation as a test case: “Perhaps most disturbingly, statements made by the Chief of the Cryptographic and Electronic Analysis Unit appear to indicate that the FBI was more interested in forcing Apple to comply than getting into the device.”

    • Tell the Government to protect porn privacy

      Last Monday, the BBFC released a public consultation calling for people’s views on the guidance they plan to issue to age verification providers.

      Under the Digital Economy Act, websites will soon have to ensure that all UK users are above the age of 18 before allowing them to view pornographic content. As the age verification regulator, it is the BBFC’s job to dictate how these age verification systems should work.

      We have written in the past about the dangers of age verification – highlighting the lack of a focus by the Government on the potential privacy concerns. That was back in 2016, and this consultation paper proves that not much has changed since then. The Government have proved their lack of interest in user privacy by appointing the BBFC an especially narrow role that allows them only to issue guidance on how tools should work practically, and does not allow them to outline any requirements for tools to meet certain privacy standards.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Waiting While Black in Philadelphia Can Get You Arrested

      Late last week, two Black men in Philadelphia were doing what people do every day in this city — they waited in a coffee shop to meet an associate. While they were engaged in this mundane activity, they were removed from the Starbucks cafe at 18th and Spruce Streets in handcuffs by Philadelphia police officers.

      This is another example of the kind of daily indignities that African-Americans face every day in Philadelphia and around the country. We can’t even wait in a coffee shop for a friend without the possibility that someone will call the police. Two days after the news broke of the incident, I’m angrier now than I was when I first heard about it.

    • If Trump Is So Worried About Protecting Attorney-Client Privilege, He Should End The NSA’s Bulk Surveillance (And CPB Device Seizures)

      Attorney-client privilege is indeed a serious thing. It is inherently woven into the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel. That right to counsel is a right to effective counsel. Effective counsel depends on candor by the client. That candor in turn depends on clients being confident that their communications seeking counsel will be confidential. If, however, a client has to fear the government obtaining those communications then their ability to speak openly with their lawyer will be chilled. But without that openness, their lawyers will not be able to effectively advocate for them. Thus the Sixth Amendment requires that attorney-client communications – those communications made in the furtherance of seeking legal counsel – be privileged from government (or other third party) view.

      The problem is, it doesn’t take a raid of a home or office to undermine the privilege. Bulk surveillance invades the sphere of privacy these lawyer-client communications depend on, and, worse, it does so indiscriminately. Whether it involves shunting a copy of all of AT&T’s internet traffic to the NSA, or warrantlessly obtaining everyone’s Verizon Wireless phone call records, while, sure, it catches records of plenty of communications made to non-lawyers (which itself is plenty troubling), it also inherently catches revealing information about communications made to and from lawyers and their clients. Meanwhile the seizures and searches of communications devices such as cell phones and laptops raises similar Constitutional problems. Doing so gives the government access to all records of all communications stored on these devices, including those privileged ones that should have been expressly kept from it.

    • Who Should Review Michael Cohen’s Files Under the Fourth Amendment?

      Lots of lawyers are arguing over who should review the documents seized from Trump’s lawyer. The decision will affect us all.

      Since the search last week of the office, home, hotel room, and safe deposit box of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, lots of lawyers have been squaring off about an important legal issue that rarely gets banner-headline billing: How does the government, armed with a warrant for a criminal suspect’s digital files, go about sorting through those files in a way that ensures that constitutional and legal rights are not violated?

      The risks of wrongful privacy invasions are too great to leave to the prosecutors when the government seizes digital data. Such files should be reviewed in the first instance by a neutral party, or “special master,” appointed by and answerable to the court, to ensure that the prosecutors and investigators get the evidence they are authorized to look for. They should not be allowed to roam widely through digital files that may contain terrabytes of private information.

      Cohen has claimed that because he is an attorney — for Trump and others — some of the seized files may be entirely off-limits to the government because they are protected by the attorney–client privilege. President Trump’s lawyers have made similar arguments. Both have asked the court to allow their legal teams to have the first cut at the seized files in order to review them for privilege, and then to produce the remainder to the government or a special master. The government has countered that the court should allow a so-called “taint team,” made up of prosecutors who are not assigned to the case and who are technically walled off from those working on the case, to do the sorting. The court is now considering the parties’ arguments and is expected to rule quickly.

    • Pardons No Substitute for Reform in Myanmar

      The Myanmar government has ordered the release of three dozen political prisoners, a welcome step that still leaves scores in detention or on trial on politically motivated charges, according to local monitors. Real reform in Myanmar will require stripping away the architecture of repression and ending prosecutions of the government’s critics.

      Yesterday, newly elected President Win Myint followed the tradition of releasing prisoners on the first day of the Myanmar New Year by announcing the release of more than 8,500 prisoners, including 36 political prisoners. These releases are commonly referred to as “amnesties” but are, in reality, pardons, which do not absolve those released of their crimes or the legal consequences.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Ajit Pai’s ex-broadband advisor arrested on charge of forging fiber contracts

      Elizabeth Pierce is accused of “forg[ing] guaranteed revenue contracts to fraudulently induce investors to invest more than $250 million in a fiber optic cable network in Alaska,” according to a press release issued last week by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

    • Comcast To Sell Netflix Subscriptions In False Belief This Will Slow Cord Cutting

      As we’ve noted previously, Comcast has enjoyed a little more resilience to the cord cutting threat than satellite TV and telco TV providers–thanks to its growing monopoly over broadband. As DSL users frustrated by lagging telco upgrades switch to cable to get faster speeds, they’re often forced to sign up for cable and TV bundles they may not want (since standalone broadband is often priced prohibitively by intent). Of course that doesn’t mean these users or stick around (or that they even actively use the cable subscription they pay for), but it has helped Comcast all the same.

      There are some indications that advantage isn’t helping as much now that we’re seeing so many streaming services come to market. At least one Wall Street research firm predicts that Comcast’s cord cutting defections will double this year, though those totals still remain modest (400,000) compared to the company’s total number of pay TV (22.4 million) and broadband (25.5 million) subscribers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • What will become of Australia’s innovation patent system?

      Abolition of Australia’s innovation patent system is still possible but potential options to improve it are also not ruled out

      Following the Australia’s Productivity Commission’s inquiry into IP arrangements last year and the government’s consultation on innovation patents, IP Australia has decided to undertake further industry consultation targeted at better understanding the needs of innovative SMEs before deciding…

    • Supreme Court predicted to rule in favour of patent owners over damages abroad in case that could have major ramifications

      For many observers of US patent law the current Supreme Court term essentially boils down to one case. But as we wait for the ruling in Oil States on the constitutionality of inter partes review, the justices had another case to hear yesterday on the extraterritoriality of damages law. In Western Geco v Ion Geophysical Corp, the patent owner Western Geco, sued Ion in district court over components that Ion manufactured in the US but then shipped abroad for assembly.

    • Premaitha’s strike out gamble fails before Carr J in new Illumnia patent battle

      Interim decisions are always full of interesting tidbits. Nothing was more juicy than last month’s decision from Mr Justice Carr in Illumnia v Premaitha [2018] EWHC 615 (Pat) in which he dealt with two applications brought by the defendants for (i) strike out of Illumina’s claim on the basis of abuse of process, and (ii) summary judgment against Illumina on the basis of issue estoppel. Although shackled by time in reporting on the decision, the AmeriKat asked a new IP kitten, Constance Crawford (Bristows) to get her paws wet in her first Kat post.

    • Copyrights

      • Pirate Site-Blocking? Music Biz Wants App Blocking Too

        With thousands of websites blocked all around the world on copyright grounds, pirates are continuing to innovate. The rise of apps designed to provide free content represents a fairly recent development but one the entertainment industries are keen to stem. The CEO of Warner Music Russia now says his company has infringing apps firmly on the anti-piracy agenda.

        In some way, shape or form, Internet piracy has always been carried out through some kind of application. Whether that’s a peer-to-peer client utilizing BitTorrent or eD2K, or a Usenet or FTP tool taking things back to their roots, software has always played a crucial role.

      • The Music Industry Now Wants To Creep Past Site-Blocking Into App-Blocking

        With site-blocking now fully en vogue in much of the world as the preferred draconian solution to copyright infringement, one point we’ve made over and over again is that even this extreme measure has no hope of fully satisfying the entertainment industries. Once thought something of a nuclear option, the full censorship of websites will now serve as a mere stepping stone to the censorship of all kinds of other platforms that might sometimes be used for piracy. It was always going to be this way, from the very moment that world governments creaked open this door.

        And it appears it isn’t taking long for the entertainment industries to want to take that next step, either. As the debate about Kodi addons rages, and as governments begin to clamp down on the platform at the request of the entertainment industry, several industry players at an IP forum event in Russia have started announcing plans to push for app-blocking as the next step.

      • 19-Year-Old Canadian Facing Criminal Charges For Downloading Publicly-Accessible Documents

        A 19-year-old Canadian is being criminally-charged for accessing a website. The Nova Scotian government’s Freedom of Information portal (FOIPOP) served up documents it shouldn’t have and now prosecutors are thinking about adding charges on top of the ten-year sentence the teen could already be facing. (via Databreaches.net)

        Journalists first spotted the problem April 5th, when the FOI portal was taken offline. The Internal Services Minister, Patricia Arab, refused to provide details about the portal’s sudden unavailability. It wasn’t until the following week that the press was given more information and those affected notified.

      • ‘Scraping’ is Just Automated Access, and Everyone Does It

        For tech lawyers, one of the hottest questions this year is: can companies use the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)—an imprecise and outdated criminal anti-“hacking” statute intended to target computer break-ins—to block their competitors from accessing publicly available information on their websites? The answer to this question has wide-ranging implications for everyone: it could impact the public’s ability to meaningfully access publicly available information on the open web. This will impede investigative journalism and research. And in a world of algorithms and artificial intelligence, lack of access to data is a barrier to product innovation, and blocking access to data means blocking any chance for meaningful competition.

        The CFAA was enacted in 1986, when there were only about 2,000 computers connected to the Internet. The law makes it a crime to access a computer connected to the Internet “without authorization” but fails to explain what this means. It was passed with the aim of outlawing computer break-ins, but has since metastasized in some jurisdictions into a tool to enforce computer use policies, like terms of service, which no one reads.

        Efforts to use the CFAA to threaten competitors increased in 2016 following the Ninth Circuit’s poorly reasoned Facebook v. Power Ventures decision. The case involved a dispute between Facebook and a social media aggregator, which Facebook users had voluntarily signed up for. Facebook did not want its users engaging with this service, so it sent Power Ventures a cease and desist letter and tried to block Power Ventures’ IP address. The Ninth Circuit found that Power Ventures had violated the CFAA after continuing to provide its services after receipt of the cease and desist letter and having one of its IP address blocked.

      • Teen charged in Nova Scotia government breach says he had ‘no malicious intent’ [iophk: "technically the site actually did publish these documents; this is just harassment of the kid"]

        The teen has been charged with “unauthorized use of a computer,” which carries a possible 10-year prison sentence, for downloading approximately 7,000 freedom-of-information releases.

Guest Post: Responding to Your Recent Posting “The European Patent Office Will Never Hold Its Destroyers Accountable”

Wednesday 18th of April 2018 09:04:25 AM

Reader’s response to this post

Summary: In France, where Battistelli does not enjoy diplomatic immunity, he can be held accountable like his "padrone" recently was

It should be obvious to all and sundry by now that people who expect the EPO Administrative Council to hold Battistelli to account are barking up the wrong tree. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that it really is possible to get away with serious abuses as long as the perpetrator is protected by diplomatic immunity. In this case Battistelli enjoys diplomatic immunity as President of the EPO and he also seems to be protected by a supine Administrative Council which shows no interest in calling him to account.

“In this case Battistelli enjoys diplomatic immunity as President of the EPO and he also seems to be protected by a supine Administrative Council which shows no interest in calling him to account.”But what people who complain about Battistelli seem to forget is that he also wears other hats and operates in other contexts where he does not enjoy immunity. To be more precise: he is the deputy mayor in charge of culture in his home town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

He was appointed to this position in October 2017 after the last local elections when he succeeded Arnaud Péricard. Péricard’s was “promoted” to the position of mayor after the death of Emmanuel Lamy in May 2017. Until October 2017 Battistelli was the municipal councillor in charge of theatre. In this position he was mainly responsible for the municipal theatre which is known as the Théâtre Alexandre Dumas.

“Until October 2017 Battistelli was the municipal councillor in charge of theatre. In this position he was mainly responsible for the municipal theatre which is known as the Théâtre Alexandre Dumas.”The Théâtre Alexandre Dumas (TAD) is named after the famous French writer, some of whose most illustrious works, such as “The Three Musketeers”, were written in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. It is a municipal institution which is directly under the management of the municipal council. Both the deputy mayor for culture and the the town councillor in charge of theatre sit on its board of directors.

The TAD can also be rented as a location for events such as cocktails, seminars, congresses, projections and suchlike.

By an interesting coincidence the Théâtre Alexandre Dumas will serve as the venue for the European Inventor Award ceremony on 7 June 2018. (warning: epo.org link)

The decision to host the event in Saint-Germain-en-Laye seems to be good news for the town and will undoubtedly result in an influx of funds to the local coffers. This means that it’s unlikely that anybody on the municipal council will ask too many questions or dare to upset the apple-cart.

Even before this latest twist the European Inventor Award has been shrouded in opacity because the European Patent Convention does contain any mandate for the EPO to sponsor such an extravanganza.

“Even before this latest twist the European Inventor Award has been shrouded in opacity because the European Patent Convention does contain any mandate for the EPO to sponsor such an extravanganza.”The event was initially established in 2006 under Alain Pompidou and the first ceremony was hosted in Brussels with the co-sponsorship of the European Commission.

In the beginning it seems to have been run as a joint venture between the EPO and the European Commission and for a number of years the venue chosen was in the state holding the presidency of the Council of the European Union.

From 2013 onwards this changed without any explanation being given and since then it has never been clear on what criteria the host state for the event is chosen.

But the choice of venue for 2018 takes the biscuit:

Not only is the event being held in France for the second time in the space of four years but it is taking place in the home town of the President of the EPO where he is an elected member of the local municipal council and deputy mayor!

“Not only is the event being held in France for the second time in the space of four years but it is taking place in the home town of the President of the EPO where he is an elected member of the local municipal council and deputy mayor!”Neither the Official Journal of the EPO (warning: epo.org link) nor the minutes of the municipal council of Saint-Germain-en-Laye appear to contain any records which would explain how the decisions to host the event in Saint-Germain-en-Laye and to use the Théâtre Alexandre Dumas for this purpose were taken or who was responsible for these decisions.

In other words no publicly accessible record can be found to clarify whether the selection of Saint-Germain-en-Laye as the host town was made by the EPO President acting on his own initiative or whether the Administrative Council had any involvement in the matter (even if this was only to rubber-stamp the President’s preference).
It’s also not clear what role Battistelli played in the selection of the TAD as the venue for the event but given that he is on its board of directors it would be reasonable to assume that he must have been involved in some capacity.

Even FIFA seems to be a paragon of transparency compared to this!

Some observers who have looked into the affair have raised the question as to whether or not the choice of venue might involve a conflict of interest on the part of the individual who wears both the hat of the EPO President in Munich and the “chapeau” of the deputy mayor in charge of culture on the municipal council of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

“Some observers who have looked into the affair have raised the question as to whether or not the choice of venue might involve a conflict of interest on the part of the individual who wears both the hat of the EPO President in Munich and the “chapeau” of the deputy mayor in charge of culture on the municipal council of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.”Recent developments in the case of Sarkozy have shown that France has extensive anti-corruption legislation which among other things penalises improper giving and receiving of benefits, “influence peddling” and misdirection of public funds.

Given the failure of the EPO Administrative Council to call Mr. Battistelli to account as EPO President it seems legitimate to pose the question as to whether the French public prosecutor might not be the appropriate authority to scrutinize his activities as deputy mayor in charge of culture in Saint-Germain-en-Laye where he is subject to French law and does not enjoy immunity.

Attachments: Extracts from the “Journal Saint-Germain-en-Laye” [1, 2] showing Battistelli’s activities on the town council.

The EPO in 2018: Partnering With Saudi Arabia and Cambodia (With Zero European Patents)

Wednesday 18th of April 2018 06:37:56 AM

“Fourth Industrial Revolution” is just code (or buzzword) for "software patents" — part of the race to the bottom (of patent quality)

Summary: The EPO’s status in the world has declined to the point where former French colonies and countries with zero European Patents are hailed as “success stories” for Battistelli

THE reputation of the EPO — and by extension of European Patents (EPs) — is badly damaged. It won’t be able to compete with the USPTO. In fact, in IP5 it’s now generally seen as the most abusive; some would call it a “laughing stock”, especially when publicly represented by corrupt/abusive officials from France.

“It’s worth noting that the number of granted EPs from Saudi Arabia fell by a whopping 44.4% last year.”The EPO has totally lost touch with patent quality. It just habitually misuses the word “quality”.

Saudi patents are laughable. People I know who work there tell me so. But the EPO, which no longer values the quality of patents, has found itself company. Yesterday Saba & Co Intellectual Property wrote about the EPO MOU:

King Abdul Aziz City of Science and Technology, where the Saudi Patent Office resides, signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Patent Office. The MOU, which aims to strengthen the patent system and increase bilateral cooperation, foresees joint activities in the areas of patent procedures, search, examination and automation, as well as use and exchange of patent data and databases.

It’s worth noting that the number of granted EPs from Saudi Arabia fell by a whopping 44.4% last year.

Also yesterday there was this new article bragging about EPO validation in a former French colony with zero European Patents. To quote:

Cambodia is a developing country supported mainly by three pillars of economic development – agriculture, tourism and textiles. With an average growth of 7.6% from 1994 to 2015, Cambodia is the fastest growing ASEAN economy.

In line with Cambodia’s desire to modernise and increase its economic prosperity, there are developments taking place in the country’s intellectual property system, which indicate that the government is serious about fostering and promoting innovation and foreign investment.

We highlight below several avenues for securing patent rights in Cambodia.

[...]

A validation agreement between the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Cambodia Ministry of Industry and Handicraft (MIH) was signed on 23 January 2017, making Cambodia the first Asian country and the 4th non EPC Member State to recognize EPO granted patents. This validation agreement entered into force on 1 March 2018 and applicants are henceforth able to validate European patent applications and patents in Cambodia.

They fail to mention that Cambodian people/firms have zero EPs. So this whole thing is a ridiculous publicity stunt of Battistelli. Not too long ago Battistelli also got a validation agreement with Tunisia, which had zero European Patents last year. Remember that this too is a former French colony (French protectorate of Tunisia). Maybe Battistelli’s former “padrone” has connections there, too?

Look what a low level the EPO has stooped down to.

As we mentioned yesterday, the EPO grants patents in error and it’s costing a lot of money to actual companies, much to the delight of patent lawyers. This latest example of Boston Scientific is still showing up in the news. To quote:

Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) said today that the European Patent Office revoked a patent owned by Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE:EW) in the latest round of their ongoing spat over transcatheter aortic valve replacements.

In March 2017 a German court issued a mixed decision in the international battle over transcatheter aortic valve replacement patents between the two companies, less than a week after a U.K. patent court handed down a similar decision. Yesterday Boston said it’s confident that the new EPO decision “will have a positive impact on both suits.”

Meanwhile the U.K. High Court is slated to hear the next phase in that case in mid-May, Boston said.

Had the EPO done its job properly in the first place, none of this would happen. Therein lies the problem with the decline in patent quality at the EPO. It’s externalising huge costs to outsiders and short-term EPO gains would eventually see the EPO’s foundations reduced to rubble. Patent lawyers too would not benefit from that in the long run.

For Samsung and Apple the Biggest Threat Has Become Patent Trolls and Aggressors in China and the Eastern District of Texas, Not Each Other

Tuesday 17th of April 2018 07:00:59 PM

Samsung and Apple ought to unite against software patents rather than waste money (legal fees) fighting one another in court

Summary: The latest stories about two of the world’s largest phone OEMs, both of which find themselves subjected to a heavy barrage of patent lawsuits and even embargoes; Samsung has meanwhile obtained an antisuit injunction against Huawei

LAST year we explained why Apple should care about software patents and work against them rather than leverage them against rivals. VirnetX has once again won a legal case against Apple, relying on questionable USPTO patents. The lawyers have just issued a press release about the ruling, which was covered in many hundreds of sites last week. We mentioned the latest ruling as well.

A week later IAM wrote about the Pantech story, which basically involved passage of many more patents to Apple. Those are USPTO patents:

Apple has acquired a portfolio of 27 US patents from Korean smartphone maker Pantech, according to assignment records filed with the USPTO. The transfer follows the iPhone manufacturer’s purchase last summer of a package of 11 patents from Korean NPE Goldpeak — assets which were originally owned by Pantech. The latest portfolio appears to be largely focused on wireless technology and all of the grants have been made since 2012. Pantech is a Korean smartphone maker which has struggled in recent years as its local rivals LG and Samsung have thrived in the handset sector.

This isn’t really a solution to Apple’s problems because when patent trolls like VirnetX come knocking they just don’t care what patents you have (or haven’t). It doesn’t matter to them. These cannot impact trolls. What about Apple’s archrival (in phones) Samsung? Watch this latest news from Asia [1, 2]. This is not innovation (prior art, abstract etc.), so why patent that? As one article puts it, “[s]everal Chinese OEMs have done it. OnePlus is set to adopt it as well for their next smartphone. And now, it seems that Samsung is also willing to use the notch for one of their upcoming smartphones if the leaks are to be believed.” Maybe they hope that by patenting every little ‘brainfart’ (thought) they’ll better cover prior art in patent form. Maybe. Perhaps this is why Apple still stockpiles patents and Samsung rose to the top position of US patenters (even though it’s not an American company). We wrote about that last week in relation to some trolling Samsung had experienced. More (belated) coverage about last week’s patent lawsuit against Samsung is surfacing this week. WIPR wrote:

The fingerprint authentication methods featured in some of Samsung’s phones contain software that infringes patents owned by a data encryption firm, according to a claim filed earlier this month.

PACid Technologies filed the infringement complaint at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, on April 6.

Data encryption research firm PACid owns patents which form a crucial part of the encryption specification necessary to secure a wireless local area network which provides the basis for Wi-Fi, according to the company.

PACid is a patent troll. IAM called it “NPE” (as usual) because IAM is a patent trolls’ lobby. As it turns out, Apple too is/was being targeted:

There is a story going around in the Korean, Chinese and English-speaking media suggesting that Samsung Electronics faces a $2.8 billion patent infringement claim related to biometric technologies from US company PACid. This looks like a possible case of media mis-reporting. More interestingly, Samsung is facing down another challenge also based on its touch-to-unlock feature, this one from what looks like a new Korean NPE. First, in a case that has generated headlines for what is allegedly an eye-watering damages claim, Samsung Electronics is facing a lawsuit from PACid alleging infringement of two US patents related to user authentication.

Speaking of Samsung, IAM’s Adam Houldsworth mentioned it yesterday in relation to the Humira biosimilar settlement. “With the recent announcement that it had reached a settlement in its patent dispute with Samsung Bioepis,” he wrote, “AbbVie has scored another significant victory in efforts to delay market entry to biosimilar versions of its drug, Humira. While allowing Samsung to launch its product in European jurisdictions later this year, the deal keeps the copycat arthritis treatment out of the lucrative US market until 2023.”

IAM also reminded us that China is a lot more extreme than the US when it comes to patents, especially on standards (SEP). To quote the outline:

On Friday, United States District Judge William Orrick ordered Huawei not to enforce the two SEP injunctions it was granted against Samsung in the Chinese city of Shenzhen until his court has had its say on the same issues. The decision has dealt a major blow to Huawei’s efforts to bring Samsung to the negotiating table through quick wins in Chinese courts. The two parties have reportedly been negotiating a cross-licence since 2011, but it was Huawei that struck the first blow in court, filing infringement and FRAND actions in both Chinese and US venues in May 2016.

This was also covered by a longtime watcher of Samsung/Apple on the same day. He said:

Friday the 13th wasn’t Huawei’s lucky day, but it went well for Samsung: in accordance with an inclination he expressed at a recent motion hearing, Judge William H. Orrick of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California decided to enjoin Huawei from enforcing two Chinese standard-essential patent (SEP) injunctions against Samsung until a breach-of-contract question has been adjudicated in the U.S., where a trial is scheduled for December…

[...]

As you might imagine, I’m proud of having accurately predicted the decision (based on the motion and Ninth Circuit precedent). I’m now predicting affirmance by the Ninth Circuit. For a final “See I Told You So,” I’d like to note that last month the Federal Circuit completely vindicated my longstanding “fair use is a fairy tale” position on Oracle v. Google. I’m not going to talk about the merits here anymore. I wrote so much about it from 2010 to 2016 that there’s no point in reiterating and rehashing all of that old stuff. All sorts of people who bashed me in earlier years were simply wrong: I didn’t take those positions for any other reasons than wholeheartedly believing in them, and those positions can’t have been as unreasonable as my detractors alleged. Otherwise, a Federal Circuit panel wouldn’t have supported my positions unanimously in two separate decisions. That said, should Google file a petition for writ of certiorari (request for Supreme Court review), which is a given absent a settlement, I’d really like the top U.S. court to provide definitive clarity on some key software copyright issues. I’d hope for affirmance there as well, but I really believe the issues are important enough for the software industry at large that cert would be warranted.

What we’re finding more curious about this is the changing approach of China, which now seems to 'out-Texas' Texas. Korean companies are impacted while some of them let go/relieve their patents for cash (e.g. Pantech’s sales to Apple).

The EPO Continues to Lie About Patent Quality Whilst Openly Promoting Software Patents, Even Outside Europe

Tuesday 17th of April 2018 06:23:25 PM

Gazette’s latest

Summary: EPO patent quality continues to sink while EPO management lies about it (the article above is new and not satirical) and software patents are openly being promoted/advocated

THERE’S NO room for humour when the EPO moves further to the right (patent extremists) while the USPTO, conversely, moves to the left. The EPO has become a rather radical organisation which not only treats workers in Medieval ways/standards but also grants monopolies similarly. It is almost as though a feudal system has reasserted control.

“The EPO has become a rather radical organisation which not only treats workers in Medieval ways/standards but also grants monopolies similarly.”Compare the EPO to India and to China. The Chinese government has moved so far to the right (censoring almost everything) and lowered patent quality to the point where — like the EPO — quality of patents is no longer recognised and dissent is not tolerated. India, contrariwise perhaps, has rejected many patents. This new article (from earlier today) speaks of “confusion regarding software patents in the global IT hub,” but there’s no “confusion”; they’ve banned software patents in the country a long time ago. To quote the opening paragraph:

While the world eagerly watches the development of India’s software industry, the confusion regarding software patents in the global IT hub remains considerable. This is despite – or perhaps because of – the three attempts by the Indian Patent Office (IPO) to establish guidelines on computer-related inventions (CRIs), each of which has provoked questions, criticism and controversy. The IPO released its latest CRI examination guidelines on June 30 2017; this chapter looks into the evolution of the guidelines, from the first set to the third, as well as the effects that they have had.

These also earned India praised, but the article (sister site of IAM) says the policy “provoked questions, criticism and controversy.” From who? Patent extremists, that’s the key point. IAM attacked India’s patent policy so many times last year; this year it’s toning things down a bit (perhaps fearing criticism for such selfish lobbying).

“The Chinese government has moved so far to the right (censoring almost everything) and lowered patent quality to the point where — like the EPO — quality of patents is no longer recognised and dissent is not tolerated.”This brings us to the EPO. Where does the EPO stand on all this? It used to favour high patent quality, but nowadays all it cares about are numbers of patents (or applications, albeit only when/if that number goes up). The EPO is, in effect, outsourcing the job of patent examination to judges/juries/courts. That would cost a fortune. The EPO passes all the burden to the European public/businesses. The UPC is effectively dead (nobody even talks about it anymore, except yesterday when EPO management together with Team UPC just kept lying about alleged value and prospects of it). The EPO has just passed along this promotion of its event that says: “The 2018 UP&UPC Conference will take place on 3rd July at @EPOorg, Munich” (that’s just 3 days after Campinos arrives).

One can therefore expect Campinos to be embedded in Team UPC — just like Battistelli — and thus promote patent maximalism.

Earlier today the EPO promoted software patents in Europe yet again. As we noted earlier this week, the EPO goes to the United States, Microsoft’s back yard in fact (Seattle), in order to promote such an agenda and hours ago it wrote: “How to obtain patents in computer-implemented inventions in biotechnology and healthcare at the EPO?”

It doesn’t get any more shallow than this. Check out the one reply they got. The FFII’s President wrote: “Alice or the EPC says the same, EPO should not grant them. But Europe does not have a Supreme Court, the EPO can do whatever it wants. Including going to watch World Cup football matches…”

“Where does the EPO stand on all this? It used to favour high patent quality, but nowadays all it cares about are numbers of patents (or applications, albeit only when/if that number goes up).”Again, zero accountability. Battistelli and Campinos will just get away with anything they want. No oversight has been added and nothing has been corrected. Nobody will enforce the rules and when a thousand examiners complain about deviation from the EPC nothing happens.

“What about the other fella,” asked us one reader, alluding to Christophe Geiger. He’ll soon work with Battistelli, having worked with Campinos. The “rumor has it,” our reader added, that there’s a “surprise post along with the Campinos classmate” (Geiger).

Here is his profile page and Wikipedia ‘stub’ that says “Christophe Geiger is a lecturer in intellectual property law, as well as current Director General of the Centre for International Intellectual Property Studies (CEIPI) at the University of Strasbourg.”

Remember that Battistelli is not retiring but merely hibernating in CEIPI, having attacked jurists for 4 years if not longer. Recall what we wrote some months ago:

One pillar of the organisation that can keep software patents away is the Boards of Appeal, but having suffered many attacks from Battistelli, who in the Boards would be brave enough to do something on this matter? Watch what happened to Patrick Corcoran (from the Boards of Appeal) whilst or after he had rejected a software patent of an EPO partner.

“One pillar of the organisation that can keep software patents away is the Boards of Appeal, but having suffered many attacks from Battistelli, who in the Boards would be brave enough to do something on this matter?”Some hours ago the EPO wrote: “The Boards of Appeal invite users to participate in this written online consultation on the proposed revised Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal.”

As if Battistelli and Campinos care or listen to what the public has to say. If they cared, we’d see some sort of assurances to the Boards, but there have been none. And they’re still effectively above the law.

SCOTUS on WesternGeco v Ion Geophysical Almost Done; Will Oil States Decision Affirm the PTAB’s Quality Assurance (IPRs) Soon?

Tuesday 17th of April 2018 05:30:49 PM

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) might get its role cemented by month’s end

Summary: Ahead of WesternGeco and Oil States, following oral proceedings, it’s expected that the highest court in the United States will deliver more blows to patent maximalism

TECHRIGHTS attempts to simplify things and strives to put US patent news in simple terms that anyone can understand. The USPTO and US courts — just like law firms that try to impress/show off by confusing — like using jargon, legalese and sometimes Latin words/phrases. It’s like they encrypt everything to necessitate ‘professional’ legal advice while pushing away those outside the patent microcosm (excluding it from the debate).

The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is a bit different. When dealing with patent matters it uses more generic terms because it looks at the matters from a Constitutional perspective and Justices — unlike patent judges — aren’t experts in these particular domains (which is a positive, not just a negative). Justices can look ‘outside the box’, so to speak, and sometimes their rulings can be expected based on what they say in oral proceedings. They very often overturn the CAFC (Federal Circuit), which historically needed patent maximalism to justify its existence.

“It’s like they encrypt everything to necessitate ‘professional’ legal advice while pushing away those outside the patent microcosm (excluding it from the debate).”The other day I publicly exchanged some messages with Daniel Nazer‏ (EFF) regarding Oil States. It’s a decision that everyone in the patent world is waiting for and it has been almost exactly a year since TC Heartland. Nazer‏ told me that Oil States will be decided before summer after he had written about WesternGeco (not so relevant to us) as follows: “Thoughts on WesternGeco hearing today in S.Ct: 1) did not go well for respondent; 2) court likely to reverse Fed Cir; 3) ruling will open door to international damages in 271(a) cases (bad) but leave open possibility comity/proximate cause cuts chain of causation in those cases. [] although EFF supported the respondent in this case, the petition for cert is one of the best I’ve seen. If you’re looking for an example on how to get the Supreme Court to take your case, it’s a good one.”

As we noted the other day, oral proceedings took place and soon came media coverage from patent-centric news sites. WIPR wrote:

Today, the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in WesternGeco v Ion Geophysical, a case concerning lost patent profits occurring outside the US. WIPR outlines the key issues and what’s at stake.

[...]

Ron Cahill, chair of law firm Nutter McClennen & Fish’s IP litigation practice group, explained that the key issue is whether US patent damages are available even where the infringing device is made and sold outside the US.

WesternGeco, a subsidiary of global oilfield services company Schlumberger, has asked the Supreme Court to consider whether the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit erred in finding that lost profits arising from prohibited combinations occurring outside the US are unavailable in cases where patent infringement is proven.

Dennis Crouch expects the CAFC’s ruling to be overturned. In his own words:

In my view, the Supreme Court is quite likely to overturn the Federal Circuit’s limitation on lost profit damages and hold instead that Section 284 allows for full compensation for all forms of infringement. The key analogy that may well have won the day is that of the hypothetical French Tourist injured while visiting the US and left unable to work. Under ordinary U.S. tort law, the tourist would still be able to collect full damages even though the job-loss is in France. Likewise, according to petitioner and USGov’t, the US patent infringement act (export) should lend itself to full compensatory damages. That said, I expect for the Supreme Court’s opinion to place additional language on the meaning of proximate cause that may eventually force the Federal Circuit to tighten its doctrine in that area.

Here is another site of the patent microcosm commenting on it some hours ago:

In WesternGeco v Ion Geophysical, the Supreme Court seems prepared to overturn the Federal Circuit’s decision to limit lost profit damages abroad in the case of domestic infringement based on the presumption against extraterritoriality

The Supreme Court heard both WesternGeco’s and Ion’s arguments on April 16 in a case involving lost profit damages.

We can’t stress strongly enough that this case has little or no impact on the subjects we’re covering. Having said that, it’s valuable in showing where SCOTUS (now with the enigma that is Justice Gorsuch) stands on patent matters.

Links 17/4/2018: Linux 5.x Plans and Microsoft’s ‘Embrace’

Tuesday 17th of April 2018 04:15:28 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
  • Kernel Space
    • Mainline Linux Kernel Almost Ready For Finally Supporting Unprivileged FUSE Mounts

      While the Linux 4.17 merge window officially closed yesterday with the release of Linux 4.17-rc1, FUSE maintainer Miklos Szeredi is now trying to get his changes added.

      With FUSE (File-Systems in User-Space) updates being uncommon these days, Miklos forgot about sending them into the Linux 4.17 merge window but today is trying to get them added.

    • Microsoft built its own custom Linux kernel for its new IoT service [Ed: After Microsoft repeatedly violated the GPL and while Microsoft is blackmailing companies for using Linux. The 'new Microsoft': we exploit you while we attack you while lying about it and paying those who would otherwise complain about it.]

      At a small press event in San Francisco, Microsoft today announced the launch of a secure end-to-end IoT product that focuses on microcontroller-based devices — the kind of devices that use tiny and relatively low-powered microcontrollers (MCUs) for basic control or connectivity features. Typically, these kinds of devices, which could be anything from a toy to a household gadget or an industrial application, don’t often get updated and hence, security often suffers.

    • Linus Torvalds Kicks Off Linux 4.17 Development, Teases the Linux 5.0 Release

      Two weeks after the launch of Linux kernel 4.16, Linus Torvalds kicked off the development cycle of the Linux 4.17 kernel series by releasing the first Release Candidate (RC) build.

      At the end of every Linux kernel development cycle, the merge window opens for the next release, in this case, Linux 4.17. Now, two weeks later, the merge window is closed, and public testers can start downloading, compiling, and installing the upcoming Linux 4.17 kernel on their favorite GNU/Linux distributions.

    • Linus Torvalds says Linux kernel v5.0 ‘should be meaningless’

      Following the release of Linux kernel 4.16, Linus Torvalds has said that the next kernel will be version 5.0. Or maybe it won’t, because version numbers are meaningless.

      The announcement — of sorts — came in Torvalds’ message over the weekend about the first release candidate for version 4.17. He warns that it is not “shaping up to be a particularly big release” and questions whether it even matters what version number is slapped on the final release.

    • Linus Torvalds Wants Linux Kernel 5.0 To Be “Meaningless” And “Unpredictable”

      If you follow Linux kernel development closely, you must be knowing that major version transitioning, i.e., jump from Linux 2.0 to 3.0 and 3.0 to 4.0, has taken place in the past at every two million Git objects. This made perfect sense to make a transition to Linux v5.0 at 6 million Git objects landmark.

      [...]

      The announcement post also contained some information on Linux 4.17-rc1 release. He mentioned that apart from dropping many older and outdated architectures, the kernel development team is also adding support for a new architecture: nds32 (Andes Technology 32-0bit RISC architecture).

      Interestingly, this release is also historic as for the first time the team has removed more lines than it added. Again, that’s due to dropping a number of architectures.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Linux Foundation LFCS: James Medeiros

        I spent my formative years glued to the CRT screen of my 486. In 1997 I was 12 years old and had discovered the local, text-only FreeNet — my portal to the world’s collective knowledge via 2400 baud modem. I quickly became familiar with the Lynx browser and eventually found the Schoolnet MOO (an object-oriented MUD which is still running today) where I made fast friends and began to explore basic coding in the environment. In high school, I was fortunate enough to have a fabulous teacher who gave us free time to experiment with installing our choice of operating systems on machines with swappable hard drives. My first Linux distribution was Mandriva (Mandrake at the time), but I’ve only recently made the switch to Linux as my primary OS.

      • FOSSology Turns 10 – A Decade of Highlights

        FOSSology turns ten this year. Far from winding down, the open source license compliance project is still going strong. The interest in the project among its thriving community has not dampened in the least, and regular contributions and cross-project contributors are steering it toward productive and meaningful iterations.

        An example is the recent 3.2 release, offering significant improvements over previous versions, such as the import of SDPX files and word processor document output summarizing analysis information. Even so, the overall project goal remains the same: to make it easier to understand and comply with the licenses used in open source software.

        There are thousands of licenses used in Open Source software these days, with some differing by only a few words and others pertaining to entirely different use universes. Together, they present a bewildering quagmire of requirements that must be adhered to, but only as set out in the appropriate license(s), the misunderstanding or absence of which can revert rights to a reserved status and bring about a complete halt to distribution.

      • Xen Project Contributor Spotlight: Stefano Stabellini

        I started contributing to Xen Project in 2008. At that time, I was working for Citrix in the XenServer product team. I have been contributing every year since then, that makes it 10 years now!

    • Graphics Stack
      • NVIDIA & Valve Are Among Those Backing X.Org’s XDC2018

        This year’s X.Org Developers’ Conference (XDC2018) has already received some big name sponsors.

        XDC2018 is happening in La Coruña, Spain with the event being organized by the Igalia folks who are also the platinum sponsors for the event. XDC2018 is running from 26 to 28 September and is the annual gathering of X.Org / Mesa / Libinput / Wayland developers to discuss development efforts and big ticket items to be worked on over the year ahead.

      • TI Posts Open-Source DRI3 WSEGL Plug-In For PowerVR SGX Graphics

        Texas Instruments is still dealing with Imagination Tech PowerVR SGX GPUs and has now posted an open-source DRI3 WSEGL plug-in for getting this binary blob to work with 3D acceleration under an X.Org Server using Direct Rendering Infrastructure 3.

        Tomi Valkeinen of Texas Instruments has posted this DRI3 WSEGL implementation for allowing Imagination’s PowerVR SGX driver to work with 3D acceleration under X11 using DRI3. WSEGL is the buffer API used by the PowerVR SGX driver.

      • Vulkan 1.1.73 Released With Fixes

        Vulkan 1.1.73 is out as the latest minor refinement since last month’s big Vulkan 1.1 update.

    • Benchmarks
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Integrate Your Android Phone With Gnome Shell Without KDE Dependencies With GSConnect

      Shell extension, it also provides integration with Nautilus (Files), Google Chrome and Firefox. Using the browser extension, you can easily share links with devices connected to GSConnect, either directly, to the device browser, or by SMS.

      As for GSConnect Android integration features, they are pretty much identical to those available with the original KDE Connect application, like.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Kdenlive: Video Editing in France and Spain

        The Kdenlive team, creators of KDE’s non-linear video editor, will be holding their next sprint at the Carrefour Numérique in the Cité des Sciences in Paris next week.

        The sprint will run from the 25th to the 29th of April, and two days will be open to the public. On Friday, 27th of April, from 4pm to 6pm the event will be open to anyone interested in getting involved. You can meet the team and learn how you can contribute to the project. On Saturday, 28th of April at 2.45pm, there will be a public presentation. You can discover Kdenlive as used by professional editors and learn about the new features.

        Just in case you can’t make it to Paris, but can get to the south of Spain: directly after the sprint, the team will fly to Seville to participate in the Libre Graphics Meeting.

      • Modern Akonadi and KMail on FreeBSD

        For, quite literally a year or more, KMail and Akonadi on FreeBSD have been only marginally useful, at best. KDE4 era KMail was pretty darn good, but everything after that has had a number of FreeBSD users tearing out their hair. Sure, you can go to Trojitá, which has its own special problems and is generally “meh”, or bail out entirely to webmail, but .. KMail is a really great mail client when it works. Which, on Linux desktops, is nearly always, and on FreeBSD, iswas nearly never.

      • Qt 5.12 schedule proposal & proposal for release process change
      • Qt 5.12 Will Likely Ship In November, Might Drop Alpha/Beta Tags

        With Qt 5.11 already due to ship at the end of next month, Qt developers have begun discussing the follow-on Qt 5.12 release to ship in late 2018.

        Qt Release Manager Jani Heikkinen has been structuring the Qt 5.12 schedule. At this point the tentative soft branching is in the middle of August, the Qt 5.12 feature freeze would be around 20 August, and the final release would be planned for the end of November.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Fedora Atomic Workstation: Developer tools

        A while ago, I wrote about using GNOME Builder for GTK+ work on my Fedora Atomic Workstation. I’ve done this with some success since then. I am using the nightly builds of GNOME Builder from the sdk.gnome.org flatpak repository, since I like to try the latest improvements.

      • Tobias Bernard: Joining Purism

        I’m very happy to announce that I’ve joined Purism. It’s awesome to be working for a company that not only cares about software freedom, but also has Ethical Design as a core principle. My role there is UI/UX designer on the Librem 5, a phone built from the ground up to run free software and GNU/Linux.

      • Purism Hires GNOME Developer For Librem 5 UI/UX Designer

        Purism’s latest hire to work on the Librem 5 privacy-minded Linux smartphone effort is a UI/UX designer who has long been involved with GNOME.

        GNOME interaction designer Tobias Bernard is joining Purism as a UI/UX designer for the Librem 5 smartphone. This German free software advocate believes the Librem 5 has more potential than Ubuntu Touch or Firefox OS due to its freedom and privacy focus and using a full GNU/Linux stack rather than mixing with Android drivers.

      • Bassel Khartabil Free Fellowship, GNOME 3.28.1 Release, New Version of Mixxx and More

        GNOME 3.28 is ready for prime time after receiving its first point release on Friday, which includes numerous improvements and bug fixes. See the announcement for all the details on version 3.28.1.

  • Distributions
    • Best Linux Distro for Programming

      Linux-based operating systems (often called Linux Distributions, or just Distros) are quite popular among programmers and developers since their announcement in the 90s. The Linux kernel itself is designed to be flexible and open for modifications and contributions, thus it can run on any hardware. The same principle is applied to almost the whole software stack above the kernel that constitutes the Linux Distribution as a complete product. In general, it is designed from programmers for programmers and freely available to everyone.

    • New Releases
      • Clonezilla Live Disk Cloning OS Gets New Massive Deployment BitTorrent Mechanism

        The open source and freely distributed Clonezilla Live disk cloning and imaging live system recently received a new stable release that adds several new features, enhancements, and other changes.

        Clonezilla Live 2.5.5-38 is now the latest stable release of the live system based on the open-source partition and disk imaging and cloning Clonezilla software. It’s synced with the software repositories of the Debian Sid operating system series and uses a recent kernel from the Linux 4.15 branch.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
      • Weekly Roundup 2018 – Weeks 14 & 15

        Many thanks for your patience! This is turning into a bi-weekly roundup lately, but we’ll try to get it back on track very soon.

        Team leader elections are happening: Donald and Filip continue to lead Atelier, Papoteur leads Docteam, Yuri leads i18n and the process is underway for all teams. We’ll know the make-up of the Council in the coming days – thanks to Marja for the updates. After that, we’ll be finding out the new composition of the Board. All should be in place by early May.

        The Great Plasma Update is almost there: it includes updates of the KF5, Plasma, KDE applications, LXQT and the underlying QT stacks. It’s currently waiting for the LXQT stack to be fixed. It’s a massive number of packages. We’re hoping it will be moved into updates within the week. Once that’s done, Mageia 6.1 will happen soon after.

    • Arch Family
      • Manjaro Download now hosted at OSDN

        After a period of testing in close cooperation with OSDN’s CEO Shuji Sado, Manjaro is proud to announce that all our Official and Community ISOs and torrents have found a new home on OSDN‘s Japan-based servers, using their just recently launched File Storage service.
        Sofar we are extremely happy with transfer rates and stability and, above all, OSDN’s truely outstanding personal, highly competent and friendly support.

        Current download links to our install media can of course be found on the Download Page as usual.

    • Red Hat Family
      • What developers need to know about security

        DevOps doesn’t mean that everyone needs to be an expert in both development and operations. This is especially true in larger organizations in which roles tend to be more specialized. Rather, DevOps thinking has evolved in a way that makes it more about the separation of concerns. To the degree that operations teams can deploy platforms for developers (whether on-premises or in a public cloud) and get out of the way, that’s good news for both teams. Developers get a productive development environment and self-service. Operations can focus on keeping the underlying plumbing running and maintaining the platform.

      • State of Functions-as-a-Service on Kubernetes (OpenShift Commons Briefing)

        FaaS, or serverless as some call it, is a promising compute paradigm suitable for event-driven scenarios. In this briefing, Red Hat’s Michael Hausenblas and Brian Gracely reviewed the current open source offerings for FaaS on Kubernetes (Apache Open Whisk, kubeless, OpenFaaS, etc.) and discussed the pros and cons, on an architectural level and a user experience (UX) point of view. They also covered the topic FaaS vs. containers from a developers as well as an operators perspective.

      • Istio Dark Launch: Secret Services

        “Danger is my middle name” is great for spies and people of mystery, but when it comes to deploying software, boring is better. By using Istio with OpenShift and Kubernetes to ease your microservices into production, you can make deployment really, really boring. That’s good.

      • Red Hat Set to Host Largest Red Hat Summit to Date, May 8-10 in San Francisco

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced the agenda and keynote speakers for Red Hat Summit 2018, one of the industry’s premier enterprise open source technology conferences. The 14th annual Red Hat Summit is expected to welcome thousands of attendees from around the world to the Moscone Center in San Francisco, May 8-10. Event details and registration are live at https://www.redhat.com/en/summit/2018.

      • Events on the horizon: Previewing 41 events (Charlotte Venture Challenge, Red Hat Summit & more)

        Plenty of technology and life science events are on tap for May, and we suggest you pencil them into your calendar.

        If you’re interested in events coming up in the immediate future, check out our separate roundup of April events happening in the Triangle and in other metros throughout North Carolina. These columns accompany our interactive calendar, along with a separate list of Triangle meetups.

      • A look at VDO, the new Linux compression layer

        Probably not – there is no such thing as ‘too much storage’. For a long time, we have used userland tools like gzip and rar for compression. Now with Virtual Data Optimizer (VDO), all required pieces for a transparent compression/deduplication layer are available in the just-released Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5. With this technology, it is possible to trade CPU/RAM resources for disk space. VDO becoming available is one of the results of Red Hat acquiring Permabit Technology Corporation in 2017. The code is available in the source RPMs, and upstream projects are getting established.

      • Finance
      • Fedora
    • Debian Family
      • Bits from the release team: full steam ahead towards buster

        We are about halfway through the buster development cycle, and a release update was overdue.

      • Debian 10 “Buster” Should Be Out Around Mid-2019, Debian 12 Is “Bookworm”

        The Debian release team has put out their latest information concerning the upcoming Debian 10 “Buster” release.

        The Debian Release Team is currently planning for a transition freeze on 12 January 2019, a soft-freeze on 12 February 2019, and a full freeze around 12 March 2019. With that said, they are thinking the official Debian 10.0 “Buster” release will happen around the middle of next year.

        Beyond that, for Debian 11 “Bullseye” meanwhile they are hoping to introduce more automated quality assurance (QA) testing with continuous integration, auto packaging tests, etc. Based on past release timing, Debian 11.0 will likely be out in 2021.

      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, March 2018

        Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

      • My LTS work in March

        So in March I resumed contributing to LTS again, after 2 years of taking a break, due to being overwhelmed with work on Reproducible Builds… Reproducible Builds is still eating a lot of my time, but as we currently are unfunded I had to pick up some other sources of funding.

      • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #155
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • What’s New in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) Since Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

            It’s been almost two years since the April 21, 2016 release of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system series, which already received four of five scheduled maintenance updates, the last one being Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS, launched last month on March 1, 2018.

            While Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS brought up-to-date kernel and graphics stacks from the Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) release, there’s been a lot of changes happing in Ubuntu since the initial release and we bet that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS users would want to know what they get if they’ll upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS later this month.

          • BotsAndUs build a social robot on Ubuntu

            As robotics become increasingly prevalent in all sectors and expand outside the manufacturing industry, it is no surprise that IDC predicts worldwide spending on robotics to reach $103bn in 2018. A UK based startup, BotsAndUs, are looking to capitalise on this opportunity and have created an advanced social robot – Bo – primarily for use in hospitality and retail scenarios. Bo has already been used in numerous scenarios and by some large brands including BT and Etisalat as well as being trialled in large UK shopping centres such as Lakeside.

            Creating a social robot that also has AI capabilities for advanced face to face interaction is no easy feat especially when a combination of hardware and software, including a RealSense Depth camera system and ROS, needs to be seamlessly integrated. For that reason, BotsAndUs required a widely supported and versatile OS so turned to Ubuntu to build Bo.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 523
          • Welcome To The (Ubuntu) Bionic Age: Behind communitheme: interviewing Carlo

            I am Carlo, I am an Linux user since 2007 and Linux Software Developer since 2010.

            I mainly do embedded software development, I worked for the Automotive industry and now for the Mobile Telecommunication one, so pretty far from my contribution here on Communitheme, but I love to learn and experiment new things in (sometimes totally) different areas, that’s why I have some knowledge of front-end development which is responsible for my presence here.

          • Welcome To The (Ubuntu) Bionic Age: Behind communitheme: interviewing Stefan Eduard

            As discussed last week when unveiling the communitheme snap for ubuntu 18.04 LTS, here is a suite of interview this week on some members of the core contributor team shaping this entirely community-driven theme.

          • Flavours and Variants
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Samsung embraces open source on path to network virtualization, automation

    Samsung is raising its profile in the North American radio infrastructure business, and that includes support for operators’ efforts to use open standards.

    Samsung is one of the vendors contributing to the xRAN Forum, which last week announced the release of a new specification that opens up competition in the Baseband Unit (BBU) and Remote Radio Units/Heads (RRUs/RRHs) that go into the eNodeB. Samsung Electronics America was also selected by Verizon earlier this year to assist in its 4G LTE Open RAN initiative, where it’s supplying gear that includes RRHs and BBUs.

    According to Alok Shah, VP of networks strategy, business development and marketing at Samsung Electronics America, Samsung has long believed in the importance of open ecosystems.

  • Should Your Business Switch to Open Source?

    I’ve had the pleasure of talking with small business owners in the past about moving their business over to open source technologies. I’ve also heard officers of major corporations speak on the same topic, typically in a conference setting.

    The overall point that was shared between the two business types is that in order to switch an enterprise environment to a completely different enterprise environment (software specifically), there needs to be a cause or an identifiable reason why switching to open source software makes sense.

  • How to develop the FOSS leaders of the future

    Do you hold a critical role in a free and open source software project? Would you like to make it easier for the next person to step into your shoes, while also giving yourself the freedom to take breaks and avoid burnout?

    Of course you would! But how do you get started?

    Before you do anything, remember that this is a free or open source project. As with all things in FOSS, your succession planning should happen in collaboration with others. The Principle of Least Astonishment also applies: Don’t work on your plan in isolation, then spring it on the entire community.

  • ReactOS Is Adding Support for Windows 10 and 8 Apps, NTFS Driver

    Coming more than four months after version 0.4.7, ReactOS 0.4.8 is here with numerous improvements to the user experience and a bunch of new features that should please fans of the Microsoft Windows alternative. First, this release finally makes the “auto-hide,” “always on top,” and “toggle lock” options work as expected.

    Support for balloon notifications in the system tray area has been added, along with automatic removal of icons of terminated process. The user experience optimizations continue with the ability to select multiple icons on the desktop, and it’s now possible to view the capacity of local or attached drivers, as well as of folders and dirs.

  • Windows 10 apps on an open-source OS? ReactOS gains experimental support for latest Windows software [Ed: Developing using FOSS to help run proprietary software]

    ReactOS is a free and open-source, Windows-compatible OS that looks similar to Windows XP — now with experimental support for Windows 10 software.

  • Minds aims to decentralize the social network

    Decentralization is the buzzword du jour. Everything – from our currencies to our databases – are supposed to exist, immutably, in this strange new world. And Bill Ottman wants to add our social media to the mix.

    Ottman, an intense young man with a passion to fix the world, is the founder of Minds.com, a New York-based startup that has been receiving waves of new users as zealots and the the not-so-zealous have been leaving other networks. In fact, Zuckerberg’s bad news is music to Ottman’s ears.

  • Top 5 Open Source Projects For Programmers and Developers

    Are you serious as a software developer? Want to reach heights and explore your knowledge of software development. Then, you are at the right place and reading the right article. As a developer or a fresher, you can self-learn lot of technologies by contributing to the open source projects which allow everyone to tweak and submit code.

    With this, you can boost your resume and generate opportunities for higher levels. There are many advantages while you contribute to the open source projects.

  • Best open source ecommerce software

    So, why go open source? If you want total control and absolute customisation, open source software lets you inspect, copy and alter that software to make the perfect package for you.

    It’s ideal for businesses not wanting to be locked into a massive vendor that calls all the shots.

  • Events
    • curl up 2018 summary

      The event that occurred this past weekend was the second time we gathered a bunch of curl enthusiasts and developers in the same physical room to discuss the past, the present and the future from a curl perspective.

      Stockholm, Sweden, was the center of gravity this time when Goto 10 hosted our merry collective. Spring has finally arrived here and as the sun was out a lot, it made it a lovely weekend weather wise too. As a bonus, the little coffee shop on the premises was open all through both days. Just for us!

      [...]

      Several people asked me about next year already. I certainly hope we can run another curl up in 2019, but I don’t know yet where this should happen. Ideally, I would like to move it around to different countries to give different people the ability to show up easier, but I also value having a local “host” that can provide the room and facilities for us.

    • Speak at Open Source Summit NA: Submit Your Proposal by April 29

      Submit a proposal to speak at Open Source Summit North America taking place August 29-31, in Vancouver, B.C., and share your knowledge and expertise with 2,000+ open source technologists and community members. Proposals are being accepted through 11:59pm PDT, Sunday, April 29.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Apply to Join the Featured Extensions Advisory Board

        Are you an extensions enthusiast? Do you want to help people find excellent ways to improve their browsing experience? If so, please consider applying to join our Featured Extensions Community Board!

        Every six months, we assemble a small group of dedicated community members to help nominate and select new featured extensions for addons.mozilla.org (AMO) each month. Their picks help millions of Firefox users discover top-quality extensions.

      • Build your own web things with the Things Framework

        A web thing has a Web Thing Description which describes the device’s capabilities, and exposes a Web Thing REST API and/or WebSocket API, so that it can be monitored and controlled. The Thing Description provides machine-readable metadata about a device and its available properties, actions and events. The Web Thing API lets a client read and write its properties, request actions and subscribe to its events.

        You can get started today by turning Android things into web things using our Java web thing library, or if you prefer to build things with Python or NodeJS, we also have you covered there. We have some early examples of how to build web things using WiFi-enabled microcontrollers like the ESP8266, and a serial gateway adapter for chipsets with more constrained resources. We’re releasing these libraries at a very early stage of development so that you can provide us with feedback and help us to help you build better web things.

        In the coming days we’ll be blogging about how to use each of these new web thing libraries, to help you get hands-on building your own devices.

        These are still experimental technologies in the process of standardisation at the W3C, but we hope our early open source implementations will help developers try out the Web of Things and help us to improve it.

      • Firefox DevEdition 60 Beta 14, April 20th

        We are happy to let you know that Friday, April 20th, we are organizing Firefox DevEdition 60 Beta 14 Testday. We’ll be focusing our testing on: Search Suggestions, Site Storage Redesign UI and Web Compatibility.

      • WebRender newsletter #18

        WebRender’s 18th newsletter is here, with its usual share of bug fixes and a few performance improvements. Just after the previous newsletter was published, Patrick Walton landed an experimental integration of pathfinder’s text renderer in WebRender, that can draw native-looking text on Mac using the GPU. The pathfinder integration is taking shape although it is behind a compile time flag for now and there’s some work left to support native-looking text on Windows and Linux.

      • Rust pattern: Rooting an Rc handle

        I’ve decided to do a little series of posts about Rust compiler errors. Each one will talk about a particular error that I got recently and try to explain (a) why I am getting it and (b) how I fixed it. The purpose of this series of posts is partly to explain Rust, but partly just to gain data for myself. I may also write posts about errors I’m not getting – basically places where I anticipated an error, and used a pattern to avoid it. I hope that after writing enough of these posts, I or others will be able to synthesize some of these facts to make intermediate Rust material, or perhaps to improve the language itself.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Some Native GTK Dialogs in LibreOffice

      When the GTK3 backend is active in current LibreOffice master (towards 6.1) some of the dialogs are now comprised of fully native GTK dialogs and widgetery. Instead of VCL widgetery themed to look like GTK, they’re the real thing.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Research on the sustainability of participation in FSFE

      I’m a sociologist and I currently work as a researcher at IT University of Copenhagen, where I am responsible for “Infrastructuring SuStainable Playbour“ (ISSP): a project I received funding for from the EU/H2020 framework, under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action – Individual Fellowship fund.

      This project investigates the sustainability of collaborative spaces, as commons, and it focuses on participants’ continuous contribution to the maintenance and development of such ‘places’.

      The research involves three case studies, and I think that the community of volunteers and supporters contributing to FSFE constitutes a very interesting case to focus on: FSFE is an enduring non-profit organization that, since more than 15 years, is working for raising awareness and promote Free Software at different levels and in different ways. FSFE is also a distributed network of people, who contribute their time and effort to this goal and, as such, is vital to the organization.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Israeli Government Shifting Its Software Code to Open Source

      The Israeli government will gradually shift its software code to open source, meaning that it will be available to members of the public to use and modify the software, point out vulnerabilities and propose improvements. It will also be available for use in development apps.

      The move follows a cabinet resolution to that effect from October 2014 and directives to all government ministries on the issue have been completed are now in effect.

      The resolution applies to the government’s main web portal, gov.il, but other government services are also being encouraged to open their source code. The rationale is that the code was developed at public expense and should therefore be accessible to members of the public.

    • German government goes open source with cloud firm Nextcloud

      Nextcloud, the open source file sync and online collaboration technology, has announced it will be supplying the German federal government with a private, on-premises cloud platform as part of a three-year contract.

      The Federal Information Technology Center (ITZBund), which manages IT services for the federal government, has been running a pilot of 5,000 users with Nextcloud since October 2016 and after a tender for a private cloud was won by Computacenter, the Nextcloud technology will now be rolled out to 300,000 users in ministries and other federal agencies.

    • MoJ creates open source analytics platform

      The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has begun to use a new analytical platform for data in its decision making.

      A private beta version is now being used by more than 50 analysts, and as the basis for a number of new tools.

  • Programming/Development
    • Top 5 Open Source Projects For Programmers and Developers

      Are you serious as a software developer? Want to reach heights and explore your knowledge of software development. Then, you are at the right place and reading the right article. As a developer or a fresher, you can self-learn lot of technologies by contributing to the open source projects which allow everyone to tweak and submit code.

    • Apache Subversion 1.10.0 released

      Version 1.10 of the Subversion version-control system is out. Improvements include a new interactive resolver for merge conflicts, better path-based authorization, LZ4 compression, and more; see the release notes for details.

Leftovers
  • What your organization needs: A Silicon Valley-like ecosystem

    All organizations manage a fundamental tension between stability and efficiency on the one hand and innovation, adaptation, and change on the other. They’re usually biased towards the former—with not enough of the latter. And on top of that, every year new surveys tout the broad lack of engagement among most employees.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Dozens Of NGOs Oppose Proposed EU Watch List On IP Rights

      A wide-ranging list of international nongovernmental organisations today issued a letter to European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström opposing a proposal to establish a “watch list” of countries deemed failing to protect European intellectual property. The groups raised concern that the list would violate World Trade Organization rules on intellectual property, have a chilling effect on developing countries’ public health initiatives, and lead to expanded and untenable levels of IP enforcement.

      [...]

      A key concern of the NGOs is that a 21 February “Commission IPR report” on which the watch list initiative is based “conflates counterfeiting and piracy with the legitimate use of the flexibilities of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).” The 1994 TRIPS agreement established standards for WTO members to protect IP rights, but built in flexibility for developing nations to be able to ensure they can act in the public interest, such as the ability to issue compulsory licences to make available needed medicines that are under patent and unaffordable.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Pence’s NSA pick withdraws

      US Vice President Mike Pence’s pick for his National Security Adviser has withdrawn after his hiring created tensions in the administration, the media reported.

      “Tonight Jon Lerner informed the Vice President that he was withdrawing from coming on board as National Security Adviser and the Vice President accepted his decision,” CNN quoted Alyssa Farah, Pence’s press secretary, as saying after the withdrawal on Sunday night.

      “Vice President Pence holds Jon Lerner in the highest regard and expressed his deep gratitude for Jon’s willingness to consider joining our team.”

      A Republican source told CNN that the news of Lerner’s hiring by Pence had created “a big damn mess”.

      Earlier on Sunday, Axios news reported that President Donald Trump attempted to block Pence from hiring Lerner because of his “never Trump” views.

    • Robert Fisk Reports Head of Douma Clinic Denies Chemical Weapons Attack

      Robert Fisk is one of the very few excellent investigative journalists still employed in the UK. He is twice winner of the British Press Awards‘ Journalist of the Year prize, and seven time winner of the British Press Awards’ Foreign Correspondent of the Year. He is extremely smart and knows the Middle East very well. He has just made his way – not accompanied by Russian or Syrian government officials – to Douma and this is what he reports.

    • On Believing MI6

      The SNP is attempting to be all things to all men by attacking the government for not having a parliamentary vote on the attack on Syria, while accepting the British establishment narrative. I am not sure if Blackford is saying there should have been a vote because he missed the chance to vote for the war, or if he is going to accept that the attack was illegal in international law.

      Nicola Sturgeon joined Boris Johnson on day one of the Salisbury attack in blaming Russia with no evidence and cheering for Britnat jingoism. Blackford promotes the entirely dodgy Douma narrative. The SNP leadership could not be more divorced from the views of its own grassroots membership.

      This cannot last.

    • Living in Goebbels Land

      So a tiny independent radio station in Ireland managed to interview Robert Fisk on the ground in Douma, but none of the British mainstream broadcast media today has him on, despite the political fallout from our Syria bombing attacks being the main news story everywhere? Meantime MSM propagandists including Richard Hall (BBC), Dan Hodges (Mail) and Brian Whitaker (Guardian) and many more queue up to denounce Fisk on twitter from their cosy armchairs.

      It bears repeating that the information on the alleged gas attacks – which raises great doubt but which Fisk himself does not claim as definitive – is not the most important part of Fisk’s article. The Hell of rule under the jihadists that we in the West are arming, funding, training, “military advising” and giving air support, alongside Saudi Arabia and Israel, is the indisputable and much more important element of Fisk’s report, as is the clear evidence he provides that the White Helmets are part of the jihadist factions.

    • Anatomy of a Chemical Attack

      Analyzing certain aspects of the brief timeline between the date of the alleged chemical attack in the Damascus suburb of Duma on April 7 and the date of the U.S. air strikes on April 13 in supposed retaliation, reveals a very curious sequence of events.

      On April 8, a day after chlorine gas was allegedly used, President Donald Trump (with no time for investigation) blamed Syrian government forces for what he called a “mindless CHEMICAL attack” and warned there would be a “big price to pay.” He did not elaborate. In a series of tweets, Trump held Russia and Iran, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chief sponsors, responsible.

      On April 11 (at 3:57 AM), President Trump tweeted: “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”

    • Missile Attack on Syria: a Salute to the “Russia-gate” Faithful

      Politicians, pundits and activists who’ve routinely denounced President Donald Trump as a tool of Vladimir Putin can now mull over a major indicator of their cumulative impact: The U.S.-led missile attack on Syria before dawn Saturday is the latest benchmark for gauging the effects of continually baiting Trump as a puppet of Russia’s president.

      Heavyweights of U.S. media — whether outlets such as CNN and MSNBC or key newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post — spent most of last week clamoring for Trump to order air strikes on Syria. Powerful news organizations have led the way in goading Trump to prove that he’s not a Putin lackey after all.

      One of the clearest ways that Trump can offer such proof is to recklessly show he’s willing to risk a catastrophic military confrontation with Russia.

      In recent months, the profusion of “war hawks, spies and liars” on national television has been part of a media atmosphere that barely acknowledges what’s at stake with games of chicken between the world’s two nuclear superpowers. Meanwhile, the dominant U.S. news media imbue their reporting with a nationalistic sense of impunity.

    • Syrian ‘Chemical Victims’ Suffered from Dust Inhalation, Reports Say

      We are now being told (and I assure you I am not making this up) that if the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons doesn’t find evidence that the Syrian government conducted a chemical weapons attack in Douma last week, it’s because Russia hid the evidence.

      “It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site,” reports U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Ward. “It is our concern that they may have tampered with it with the intent of thwarting the efforts of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission to conduct an effective investigation.”

      I guess the idea is that this international top-level investigative team on which tremendous credibility has been placed by the western world can be thwarted by Russians showing up with a Hoover and spraying some Febreze in the air like a teenage stoner when mom comes home? I’m not sure, but given the immense dearth of evidence we’ve been seeing in support of the establishment Douma narrative and the mounting pile of evidencecontradicting it, it sure does sound fishy.

      Now that the jihadist-occupied suburb of Douma has been retaken by the Syrian government, western journalists have been allowed in to poke around and start asking questions, and so far it isn’t looking great for the propaganda machine.

    • Australia joins US, UK, to blame Russia for net attacks

      The US Computer Emergency Response Team issued a statement overnight, which it said came jointly from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, wherein similar claims were made about attacks on sites in those countries. The US advisory said the attacks in question dated back to 2015.

    • US and UK blame Russia for ‘malicious’ cyber-offensive

      The US and UK, in a joint statement, said the cyber-attack was aimed not just at the UK and US but globally. “Specifically, these cyber-exploits were directed at network infrastructure devices worldwide such as routers, switches, firewalls, network intrusion detection system,” it said.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Restrictions lifted on commercial radio station advertising

      Previous rules had limited ads to just [sic] 20 percent of total air time.

    • White House Chief of Staff Contradicts White House Claim on VA Shakeup

      White House chief of staff John Kelly contradicted the White House’s claims about David Shulkin’s departure as secretary of veterans affairs, a discrepancy that could lead to legal challenges of decisions made by Shulkin’s interim successor.

      In a private meeting last week with major veterans groups, Kelly repeatedly said that the decision to remove Shulkin was President Donald Trump’s, according to several people who were present or briefed on the meeting. The White House has insisted that Shulkin resigned, disputing his assertion, in media appearances, that he was fired. (Whether voluntarily or not, his tenure as VA secretary ended on March 29.)

    • Report Says Former FBI Official Andrew McCabe Lied About Self-Serving Leaks To Journalists

      The Inspector General of the FBI has released a report detailing the incidents leading up to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s firing. Whether or not these were the reasons the White House chose to can him isn’t confirmed, but the report [PDF] does show there was plenty of justification for his termination.

      According to the report, McCabe violated FBI policy multiple times during the investigation process with dishonest or misleading answers while under oath. On top of that, his unauthorized disclosure of the status of a Clinton Foundation investigation to a Wall Street Journal reporter violated department policy on media relations.

      The leaks appear to have been McCabe’s damage control efforts. The Wall Street Journal had already published an article detailing McCabe’s involvement in his wife’s unsuccessful 2015 state senate campaign. During this run, McCabe’s wife received $675,000 from a political action committee run by the state’s governor (Terry McAuliffe) who had “long-standing ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton.”

    • Billion-Dollar Blessings

      How Jerry Falwell Jr. transformed Liberty University, one of the religious right’s most powerful institutions, into a wildly lucrative online empire.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Bad News For ‘Privacy Shield’: As Expected, EU’s Top Court Will Examine Legality Of Sending Personal Data To US

      Last October, Techdirt wrote about an important decision by the Irish High Court in a case concerning data transfers from the EU to the US. The original complaint was brought by Max Schrems in the wake of revelations by Edward Snowden back in 2013 that the NSA had routine access to user information held by companies like Facebook. As the post explained, the judge found that there were important legal issues that could only be answered by the EU’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The High Court said that it intended to refer various questions to the CJEU, but has done so only now, as Schrems explains in an update on the case (pdf). He points out that the eleven questions sent to the CJEU (found at the end of the document embedded below) go further than considering general questions of law:

    • How Facebook let a friend pass my data to Cambridge Analytica

      There is an unwitting mole amongst my friends. Without my permission, they passed my personal information to a Facebook app called “This Is Your Digital Life”, which eventually ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, the company famed for using questionable tactics in an effort to influence election campaigns.

    • “Not too fond of Facebook”: A dating app removes its linked-profile requirement

      Bumble, a Tinder-like dating app that launched in 2014 with a “women send the first message” twist, announced plans on Monday to remove its Facebook credential requirement effective tomorrow, April 17. Should new users want to join Bumble or if existing users want to de-link their Facebook accounts, they will simply have to confirm a phone number.

    • Bumble drops Facebook login requirement

      Bumble’s privacy page notes a laundry list of information the service “may collect” via Facebook. “If you register or login to the App using your Facebook account, you are authorizing us to access certain Facebook account information,” the TOS reads, “including information you make available via Facebook, your friends list, relationship status, current location and those friends you have in common with other Bumblers.”

      The new process being introduced later this week will let users sign up using only their phone number for verification. While Facebook’s recent privacy concerns may not have had a tremendous impact on its user base, Bumble is likely to be one of several high-profile services rethinking its relationship with the social network.

    • Bumble will allow users to log in without Facebook

      Tinder, Match, and OkCupid already offer phone number login methods, but many users are still dependent on Facebook for the apps to work. Earlier this month, dozens of Tinder users who were logged in via Facebook were booted off the app due to a bug prompted by Facebook’s new privacy fixes.

    • Bumble’s new login lets you date and dodge Facebook’s data trap

      This simple act gave Bumble access to Facebook account information, including, according to its privacy policy, “your friends list, relationship status, current location and friends you have in common with other Bumblers”. Bumble also used the information on Facebook – including friends, photos and “likes” – to match its users with potential partners.

    • Exclusive: FBI Investigated Former CIA Chief Michael Hayden in Secret-Spilling Case

      The FBI sought a search warrant for the email account of former CIA and NSA chief Gen. Michael Hayden in 2012, according to a newly unsealed court filing. The warrant application was part of a broader Obama-era investigation into a leak of classified information to the press. Another official later pleaded guilty in connection to the disclosure.

      The targeting of Hayden’s AOL email account drives home just how aggressively the Obama administration pursued leaks, in this case following a relatively thin lead all the way to the private email account of a retired four-star general. Hayden served as director of the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005, and later led the CIA until his retirement on 2009.

    • FBI sought search warrant for CIA, NSA chief Michael Hayden’s private email account: Report

      The FBI filed an application for a search warrant in 2012 for an email account belonging to Michael Hayden, former head of the National Security Agency and CIA, demonstrating the breadth of the Obama administration’s efforts to pursue leaks of classified information to the press.

    • Obama’s FBI investigated former CIA and NSA chief Michael Hayden for ‘leaking classified information to the press about cyber attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities’
    • Did Facebook Just Start The Blame Game? Says Google Also Sucks Your Data
    • A Casino Was Hacked Thanks To The Internet Of Broken Things & A Fish Tank Thermometer
    • Protecting Email Privacy—A Battle We Need to Keep Fighting
    • Cyber security agency writes to UK telcos warning of Chinese ZTE national security risk [Ed: soon we'll see which telecom companies work for the spies by excluding from the market products that are harder to spy on]
    • Cyber Defence Watchdog Claims China’s ZTE “Poses Risk to UK Security”
    • UK spy agency warns Brit telcos to flee from ZTE gear
    • China’s ZTE ‘poses risk to UK security’
    • UK Telecoms Firms Warned Not to Use Kit and Services from China’s ZTE
    • ZTE Folly May Spur Chinese Chip Push

      “ZTE’s execution of a text-book study in contrition, reflection and reform has helped it build goodwill in America,” I said then.

    • White House Bans US Firms From Selling Parts To China Telecom Giant ZTE

      While it’s becoming increasingly clear that the US and China aren’t trying to work out a “deal” on trade like Larry Kudlow and other members of the Trump administration have suggested – only to meet with denials from the Chinese – the White House isn’t letting up on the pressure, Reuters reported.

      To wit, the Trump administration has banned American companies from selling components to Chinese telecom-equipment manufacturer Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment (ZTE) Corp. after accusing the company of lying during a settlement negotiation, according to Bloomberg.

    • ZTE can no longer buy Qualcomm chips after US ban

      The US Department of Commerce just announced a ban on American exports to the Chinese smartphone maker ZTE. That means American companies like Dolby and Qualcomm won’t be able to export any parts to ZTE for up to seven years. The loss of Qualcomm is particularly damaging, as it severely restricts ZTE’s options for devices in the US market.

    • U.S. ban on sales to China’s ZTE opens fresh front as tensions escalate

      The United States has banned American firms from selling parts to China’s ZTE Corp for seven years, a potentially devastating move for the telecoms equipment maker and exacerbating tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

      The action, first reported by Reuters, comes at a time when the two countries have threatened each other with tens of billions of dollars in tariffs in recent weeks, fanning worries of a full blown trade war that threatens global supply chains as well as business investment plans.

    • U.S. Cuts Off China’s ZTE From American Tech for Seven Years

      The Commerce Department determined ZTE, which was previously fined for shipping telecommunication equipment to Iran and North Korea, subsequently paid full bonuses to employees who engaged in the illegal conduct, failed to issue letters of reprimand and lied about the practices to U.S. authorities, the department said.

    • Cops Can Unlock Your iPhone’s 6-Digit Passcode By Guessing It In Just 11 Hours

      Almost a month has passed since the security firm Malwarebytes leaked the images of the so-called iPhone unlocking hardware GrayKey Box – a boon for the security agencies.

      The company named GrayShift developed the black box. The device comes in $15,000 and $30,000 variants with the former being geofenced and having an unlocking count of 300.

    • There Is No Going Dark: Another Vendor Selling Tool That Cracks All iPhones

      The FBI continues to push its “going dark” theory. It’s not interested in the truth. It would rather have a legislative mandate or a string of favorable court decisions than utilize options vendors have made available. These are the candles the FBI will forgo to publicly curse the darkness. A recent Inspector General’s report made it crystal clear: those charged with finding a way to crack open the San Bernardino shooter’s cell phone slow-walked their search in hopes of ending up with a judicial mandate forcing Apple to crack its own encryption.

      The complaints about the darkness continue, even as vendors like Cellebrite have shown they can crack any iPhone given enough money and time. There are solutions out there, but the FBI doesn’t want them. Cellebrite isn’t the only company with an iPhone crack for sale. As Joseph Cox reports for Motherboard, another device has surfaced that can brute force its way past iPhone lock screens. The FBI may continue its disingenuous push for weakened encryption, but law enforcement agencies around the nation are more than willing to pay for a solution that doesn’t involve Congressional reps or federal judges.

    • Mark Zuckerberg May Not Be The Programming Whiz You Thought

      However, digging up Zuckerberg’s performance as a programmer revealed that he isn’t the genius we believed him to be. His performance on TopCoder, a site where coders get ranked on their coding skills, is quite mediocre actually.

    • Here Are Some Ways Washington Could Rein In Facebook

      Some lawmakers have started to talk about reining in the size of the tech Goliaths. The 20-year dry spell in U.S. monopoly cases has led economists and even some tech experts to conclude that enforcement has been too timid, with negative economic effects. Facebook and Google control more than half of U.S. internet mobile ad spending. Facebook’s share of mobile social-media traffic, including its WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram units, is about 75 percent, by one estimate. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, pressed Zuckerberg during the hearing about whether his company has any competitors. “You don’t think that you have a monopoly?” Graham said. “It certainly doesn’t feel that way to me,” Zuckerberg responded.

    • ‘Suspicious’ Groups Paid for Most of Facebook’s Politically Divisive Ads, Researchers Find

      One-sixth of those ad buyers with little background information were linked to Russia, according to the study released Monday. Researchers examined 5 million ads encountered from Sept. 28 to Nov. 8, 2016, by about 9,500 volunteers, who were chosen to represent the demographics and partisan affiliations of U.S. voters. The ads were captured by special software in the participant’s web browsers.

    • Zuckerberg to meet with European digital chief

      Andrus Ansip, European Commission vice president in charge of digital issues, will also meet with Google CEO Sundar Pichai and top officials from Netflix and Twitter in San Francisco according to Ansip’s public calendar.

    • Facebook’s AI Predicts Your Future Actions And Uses It To Serve Ads: Report

      During his Congress hearings, Mark Zuckerberg shed a little light on his plans to use artificial intelligence to combat the issue of fake news and hate speech on his platform. What he didn’t tell the world was how his company is already using AI to increase its advertising revenues.

    • Facebook Uses Artificial Intelligence to Predict Your Future Actions for Advertisers, Says Confidential Document

      Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal erupted in March, Facebook has been attempting to make a moral stand for your privacy, distancing itself from the unscrupulous practices of the U.K. political consultancy. “Protecting people’s information is at the heart of everything we do,” wrote Paul Grewal, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, just a few weeks before founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg hit Capitol Hill to make similar reassurances, telling lawmakers, “Across the board, we have a responsibility to not just build tools, but to make sure those tools are used for good.” But in reality, a confidential Facebook document reviewed by The Intercept shows that the two companies are far more similar than the social network would like you to believe.

    • Cambridge Analytica scandal ‘highlights need for AI regulation’

      The goal is not to write the principles directly into legislation, Clement-Jones said, but rather to have them as a broad guiding beacon for AI regulation. “For instance, in the financial services area it would be the Financial Conduct Authority” that actually applied the principles, “and they would be looking at how insurance companies use algorithms to assess your premiums, how banks assess people for mortgages, and so on and so forth.

    • Headlines About ‘The Dark Web’ Are Usually Nonsense

      Think critically when news outlets report about private data “showing up on the dark web,” because it probably doesn’t mean what you imagine.

    • China is breeding its population to select for governmental obedience in “Social Credit Score” program

      By making people who are obedient to the government a more reliable and attractive partner who has access to far better services and schools, China is breeding its population to select for government obedience.

      This is the bigger picture. And China is known for taking a very long-term view of things — where the West looks quarter-by-quarter, China looks century-by-century.

    • Going Through US Border Security With Nothing to Hide

      The following steps for what I call a “clean pass”, as far as I can see, violate no laws. I cannot guarantee that they will let you get through unscathed or that CBP still won’t confiscate your devices. If you’re not a US citizen, I don’t know how far your rights extend and whether you would be required to divulge some of your cloud information, although in a 2017 response to questions by Senator Ron Wyden the CBP said it’s authority was restricted to content physical on the device. So proceed at your own discretion. Lastly, this guide should work while traveling to other countries as well.

    • Draining The Data Swamp: Who Owns The “Virtual You”?

      Zuckerberg dodged extremely serious questions. Who owns “the virtual you?” Zuckerberg’s response was that you own all the “content” you upload, and can delete that content any time you want. Yet the heart of the matter is the advertising profile Facebook builds on each user. That simply cannot be deleted. And the user cannot alter it in any way.

    • Commentary: Sweden Actually Protects its Residents’ Data. America Should Take Note.

      Are you prepared to leave these matters to 30-year-old CEOs? The stakes are huge. If we get this right, AI could offer us safer workplaces, better health care, freedom from drudgery, and fewer language barriers. It could bring us a world where people and machines work together to reach fairer decisions—about hiring, scholarships, loans, and so much more.

      But it could all go so badly wrong. Imagine a hospital that’s as cavalier with your data as Facebook. Or a college admissions officer who’s as lax about algorithmic bias as Google’s ad-targeting system—which, according to a recent study from Carnegie Mellon University, showed online ads for high-paying executive jobs five times as often to men as to women. That’s the treacherous path we’re walking now.

    • Facebook snubs Swedish government meeting

      “We never confirmed our participation. These topics are too important to not be properly addressed by people with subject matter expertise, and therefore we were grateful to instead welcome representatives from the Swedish Government at our International Headquarters in Dublin on Wednesday. In a full day of meetings, the Minister of Digitalization (sic) received detailed briefings on both our approach to hate speech, privacy controls, and Facebook’s work to protect the integrity of the Facebook platform around the Swedish elections,” Christine Grahn, Public Policy Manager for Facebook Sweden, wrote.

    • The Zuckerberg Hearings Were Silicon Valley’s Ultimate Debut

      According to most of the people I spoke to, Facebook’s challenge at the hearings can be reduced to two issues. First off, the general population, including many of our elected representatives, just doesn’t understand how the company works. Second, Facebook is one of a crop of network effect businesses powered by the rise of the internet. Because these businesses operate differently from those in more traditional industries, they must be regulated differently. Congress, and by extension regulators, don’t understand enough about these businesses to regulate them, and risk further entrenching their power by attempting.

    • Facebook data scandal fails to dent revenue from advertising

      Advertiser spending on Facebook was up by an average of 43pc year-on-year over the weeks following the data row, according to advertising analysts.

    • Hey Facebook, I’m Quitting You—and It’s Not Just About Cambridge Analytica

      Everybody from Silicon Valley snobs to frustrated watchdogs rolled their emoji eyes at the spectacle. Those who had hoped to see a perp walk instead watched Zuckerberg stroll to the bank: Facebook’s share price climbed 4.5 percent the next day. The strongest regulatory threat to emerge was the happy CEO’s offer to write some new rules himself. `

    • Facebook ad feature claims to predict user’s future behaviour
    • Pavel Durov: A VPN Does Bypass Russia’s Telegram Ban
    • Russia to ban Telegram messenger over encryption dispute

      Roskomnadzor head Alexander Zharov said the ban would be enforced soon but would not say exactly when, TASS reported. Roskomnadzor later added Telegram to its register of banned websites, paving the way for it to be blocked.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Who Polices the Immigration Police?

      Early one winter morning last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were scouting the last-known address of a fugitive they had labeled Target #147 when they happened upon Isabel Karina Ruiz-Roque.

      A turkey farmworker for over a decade, Ruiz-Roque had kept her head down and her record clean, never once encountering los ICEs, as she called them. Then two federal agents rapped on her car window and flashed a photo of the immigration fugitive they believed to be her York County neighbor. Ruiz-Roque, 34, said she did not know the woman, and they told her not to worry, that she was not their target.

    • California Can Reduce the Number of Police Shootings. Here’s How.

      Those figures are alarming, but even more shocking were the sentiments expressed by Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood in a recently-unveiled video from 12 years ago. During a meeting with the county’s Detention Officers Association, Youngblood told the audience that it is better financially for the county when his deputies kill someone rather than injure them.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • The California Senate Utilities Committee’s Net Neutrality Analysis Might as Well Have Been Written by AT&T

      S.B. 822, Senator Scott Wiener’s net neutrality bill, is currently pending in the California legislature. It’s a bill that prioritizes consumers over large ISPs, creating strong net neutrality protections. Unsurprisingly, AT&T and the rest of the giant telecom companies don’t like it. And unfortunately for Californians, the report on the bill issued by the California Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Communications parrots several misleading arguments by the large ISPs.

      S.B. 822 does a lot of things, but the biggest objections AT&T has—and which the committee seems to be comfortable agreeing with—are with provisions that cut into their bottom line. S.B. 822 bans blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization for any ISP looking to get money from the state. ISPs want paid prioritization because it would let them charge companies extra for faster connections. ISPs argue that if they can’t make more money that way, they’ll have to charge customers more. ISPs also want to be given taxpayer money without these requirements. The committee’s recommendations play right into the ISPs’ hands, even though they don’t make sense.

    • Ajit Pai made Elizabeth Pierce his “broadband advisor,” and now she’s been arrested for a $250,000,000 fraud

      According to the charge sheet, Pierce raised hundreds of millions of dollars for Quijntillion from investors after forging contracts and lying about future revenues.

    • Busting Two Myths About Paid Prioritization

      Eight out of 10 Americans support net neutrality, which makes opposing it a bad look for both politicians and corporate PR. So everyone says something along the lines of being in favor of net neutrality or an Internet Bill of Rights. Every time, however, giant Internet service providers (ISPs) and the politicians on their side, leave room for paid prioritization.

      Paid prioritization allows ISPs to charge for some Internet services to be sped up, while all the rest are slowed down. One of the common ways to describe it is that it creates Internet “fast lanes.” A better analogy is that ISPs get to charge protection money from large Internet companies in a classic “That’s a nice Facebook you have there, shame if something happened to it” fashion.

    • AT&T and cable lobby are terrified of a California net neutrality bill

      AT&T and the lobby group that represents Comcast, Charter, Cox, and other cable companies have been making their displeasure known to lawmakers in advance of hearings on a bill that could impose the toughest net neutrality law in the nation. The California bill implements the FCC’s basic net neutrality rules from 2015, but it also bans paid zero-rating arrangements in which home or mobile Internet providers charge online services for data cap exemptions.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Guest Post by Professor Chien: Inequality, Innovation, and Patents

      Just over a week ago, the United States proposed tariffs on over 1,000 Chinese imports in response to various intellectual property grievances. China responded with a number of proposed counter-tariffs. One of the most notable, as well as unfortunate, aspects of China’s proposed tariffs—which heavily target American soybeans and pork—is that harms to U.S. producers would apparently disproportionately fall on certain Midwestern states that had previously benefited from access to Chinese markets.

      I argue in a new working paper focused on the often-overlooked question of how innovation is distributed among various settings that just as trade creates winners and losers, so too does patented innovation. Advances in the accessibility and quality of open patent data, largely made possible by the USPTO’s Office of the Chief Economist, provide a way to explore distributional questions that have long been at the heart of the patent system. Specifically, the data can give insight into the participation of small and independent innovators, the role of foreigners, and geographic and corporate concentration of patenting. It has also allowed recent discussions regarding who becomes an inventor and the extent to which innovation creates or destroys jobs.

    • Copyrights
      • MPAA Apparently Silently Shut Down Its Legal Movies Search Engine

        In 2015, with much fanfare, the MPAA released its own search engine of sorts as WhereToWatch.com. The idea behind the site was to combat the argument that people pirate films because there are too few legal alternatives. The MPAA built the site to show where those legal alternatives do in fact exist. Left unaddressed, of course, were questions about how useful and convenient those alternatives were, how users had to navigate through a myriad of restrictive policies for those legal alternatives, and how terrible Hollywood must be in promoting its legal alternatives if the only thing needed to stop all this piracy was an MPAA search engine.

        On top of that, WhereToWatch served as something of an excuse for many draconian polices the MPAA was pushing for all along. By being able to point to the search engine as “proof” that all kinds of legal alternatives to piracy were readily available, the MPAA argued that policies such as “notice and staydown” as well as site-blocking were legitimate pursuits. Somewhat predictably and with a heaving helping of irony, WhereToWatch received multiple DMCA takedown notices for its search results, demonstrating how perilous DMCA takedowns have become.

      • After Removing US From Negotiating Process, Now Trump Suddenly Wants US Back In TPP

        The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement is deeply unpopular with Americans for a variety of reasons (some of which we’ll discuss below). Because of its unpopularity, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton denounced the agreement during their campaign for the Presidency. Trump’s denunciation seemed a lot more genuine — he’s argued against free trade and in favor of protectionism for quite a long time. Clinton’s denunciation was highly suspect, as she had long been a supporter of the TPP, and many people expected that, if elected, she’d flip flop back to support the agreement. Of course, she didn’t get elected… but now it’s apparently, Trump who has flip flopped to now supporting TPP.

      • Microsoft Denies Piracy Extortion Claims, Returns Fire

        Last year the Rhode Island-based company Hanna Instruments accused Microsoft and the Software Alliance of trying to extort money via baseless piracy claims. In their reply, the two organizations deny these allegations, showing that Hanna’s own evidence reveals that it used unlicensed product keys.

The European Patent Office (EPO) Grants Patents in Error, Insiders Are Complaining That It’s the Management’s Fault

Tuesday 17th of April 2018 11:08:30 AM

“Trust is broken & quality in decline”

Summary: The EPO has languished to the point where patents are granted in error, examiners aren’t happy, and the resultant chaos benefits no-one but lawyers and patent trolls

LAST night we saw this new press release (republished with a different headline). It’s something we have become quite familiar with. Patents are being revoked again (after a grant and a lot of money in legal bills). From the press release:

Boston Scientific Corporation (NYSE: BSX) today announced that it, along with several other opponents, successfully opposed Edwards Lifesciences Corporation’s European patent EP 2,399,550 (’550) in the European Patent Office (EPO), resulting in a revocation of the patent.

[...]

Following last month’s U.K. Court of Appeal’s decision confirming that Edwards’ Sapien 3™ device infringes the Boston Scientific ’766 patent and that all claims of that patent are valid, the U.K. High Court has scheduled a hearing for the week of May 14, 2018 to determine what, if any, exception or limitation should be made to allow for Edwards to continue to supply the Sapien 3 valve in the U.K.

Not too long ago EPO insiders published a PDF in which they complained about patent quality. We’ve decided to reproduce that below as HTML.

16 March 2018

EPO FLIER No. 36

The EPO-FLIER wants to provide staff with uncensored, independent information at times of social conflict

Trust is broken & quality in decline CA/3/18 to create further damage

Thanks to the intervention of some delegations during the last Board 28 meeting, the introduction of a new Article 53(1)(f)1 into the Service Regulations evaporated into nothing.

But don’t be fooled, the current proposal CA/3/18 still contains many harmful elements. If it enters into force, EPO management will be free to abolish permanent employment for all new recruits. CA/3/18 will further lower the attractiveness of the EPO as an employer2 and the quality of the services it delivers to the users of the patent system. Coming on the heels of many other reforms, we have the impression that the President is trying to create as much damage as possible before he leaves office at the end of June. Despite an Administrative Council resolution and an expert study3 commissioned by the President that concluded the pace of change was too high, he just continues. Instead of fixing some of the massive damage he has created, he carries on creating more.

EPO staff have lost the trust in their employer

While the unrest caused by the original proposal has settled after the last minute fix by Board 28, a strong feeling amongst staff remains that the EPO cannot be trusted as an employer. “The words of Art. 53(1)(f) will not be in our Codex, but are engraved in everybody’s mind.”4 By proposing Article 53(1)(f), the Office has given the clear signal to present and future staff that it does not intend to fulfil the promises it makes when hiring them. Staff are disappointed and disillusioned. Some colleagues, even young recruits, are desperate. In particular, it is the expatriates and staff who have invested in a new home who feel insecure.

For years, the staff have ceased to feel respected for their skills and the work they deliver. Many expect to be exploited while the Office needs them, and then dropped. It worries them that the Office has, for years, proposed one “reform” after the other, unilaterally cancelling mutual agreements5 and voted by a Council which does not verify whether they are acceptable to staff6 and beneficial to the Organisation.

No matter what our skills are and how much experience we have, the President thinks he knows better how to do our jobs. This arrogance has led to an EPO falling apart wherever you look: DG1 (including Patent Administration) is in chaos, HR management is a disaster, IM is spending millions and producing nothing that moves us forward. This is NOT the fault of the staff that works at the EPO, but the fault of a President who lames us rather than leading us. His claims of glorious achievements look impressive, but scratch below the surface and you find a desperate, demoralised, and intimidated body of staff.

Most of us have joined the EPO because the administration promised us job security and stable working conditions. This allowed us to fully commit ourselves to assimilating special skills which have only a limited market outside the Office, and to dare a future in another country together with our families. But the present administration seems to be obsessed with abolishing promised benefits7 and denying us even basic rights. This attitude is incompatible with the needs of an international organisation and a patent office.

Employees no longer have access to timely legal redress. The competent tribunal, the ILOAT, does not meet modern standards of independence8. Many colleagues feel imprisoned in a system where unlawful actions are unpredictable, irreversible, and practically unchallengeable. Democracy depends on the rule of law. In a country, when you lose your faith in the judicial system, you lose your faith in functioning society. The EPO is an international organisation, not a country, but the same logic applies. The perspective of presumably having to file complaints to claim what is due to you, but with little hope of justice9, makes the EPO unattractive as an employer. Some colleagues, including younger recruits, have started looking for alternatives.

Service quality in decline

While the atmosphere inside the Office is tense, critical outside observers10,11 have noticed a significant drop in the quality of the services delivered by the EPO.

That quality slip is an inevitable consequence of the EPO’s current HR policies. In a recent petition12 to the Council, more than 900 examiners complain that they are ‘submitted to constraints that are no longer compatible with fulfilling appropriately our duties within the Search and Examination divisions. We are far too often put in front of the dilemma of either working according to the European Patent Convention (EPC) and respecting the Examiner’s Guidelines, or issuing “products” as our hierarchy demands.’

Future reforms need careful consideration

The most important thing now is to rebuild the trust of the staff and of the users of the European patent system. To stop the disintegration, all changes that affect staff must meet the following requirements:

  • Reform proposals must be the result of a genuine consultation with the CSC
  • Proper benchmarking with other patent offices (not just with other international organisations)
  • Proper legal checks by truly independent experts
  • A staff survey measuring the impact of past “reforms” on staff health and motivation
  • Independent external monitoring of the impact of reforms on the service quality
  • Reforms must be compatible with improving the management-staff relationship
  • No reforms by an administration which has lost the trust of staff and users

Proposal CA/3/18 does not fulfil any of these requirements. Its likely detrimental consequences on the EPO’s service quality have been explained in recent publications13,14.

What in particular is wrong with the current proposal CA/3/18?

The proposal still contains harmful elements, some of them have been heavily criticised by several delegations15. These harmful elements are:

  • Five-year fixed-term contracts for all new recruits, including examiners, up to 20% of the total workforce.
  • In effect, recruitment solely on contract for the next 10 years or more, i.e. the de facto abolition of permanent employment at the EPO.
  • This is incompatible with Article 5(1) Service Regulations (General recruitment criteria): ”Recruitment shall be directed to securing for the Office the services of permanent employees of the highest standard of ability, efficiency and integrity, recruited on the broadest possible geographical basis from among nationals of the Contracting States.” (emphasis added)
  • Disrespectful and discriminatory limitation of 10 years’ employment for administrative and technical staff.
  • Failure to take into account staff’s personal situation due to the EPO’s particular status as an international organisation, and the needs of a patent office.
  • The introduction of an additional staff category conflicts with the alleged aim to harmonise the conditions of employment of all employees7.
  • Outsourcing of recruitment and excluding staff representatives from the recruitment process allows a further lowering of the bar for recruitment standards. While this might help to compensate for the loss of attractiveness of the EPO as an employer, is it incompatible with the Office’s alleged priority of providing high quality services.
  • Vice-Presidents (VPs) will be allowed to sit in the General Consultative Committee (GCC). This is an attempt to legalise the current practice, which is in conflict with the Service Regulations: the current President expects his nominees to the GCC, including the VPs, to give a positive opinion on and to vote in favour of all his proposals16. And they have done that for years, making a mockery of the consultation process.

Can CA/3/18 still be stopped?

“The EPO’s latest idea to generate ‘more flexibility’ by employing more examiners on the basis of five-year contracts rather than permanently is … completely counter-productive to quality and should be firmly rejected by the Administrative Council.” – Thorsten Bausch11

Staff and users want the EPO to return to a situation of mutual trust between management and staff, and where users are satisfied with the quality of the EPO’s services.

The moment for the delegations to send a signal to the staff and the public that this is desired, or will at least not be impossible, is now.

The member states can still stop the proposal. They can vote against CA 3/18 in the Administrative Council meeting on 21&22 March.

In its resolution of 22 February 2018, Munich staff demands “the rejection of document CA 3/18 by the Administrative Council”.2

We entirely agree.

EPO Flier Team

______
1 The previous version of CA/3/18 would have allowed dismissal of permanent employees “if the exigencies of the service require abolition of their post or a reduction in staff.”
2 Resolution of the employees of the European Patent Office in Munich (22.02.2018)
3 In its January 2017 study prior to the DG1-DG2 Reorganisation, Boston Consulting Group pointed out that EPO top management had signaled a phase of consolidation after several years of accelerated change and significant growth of production, in line with the recommendations of several other studies (including the 2016 Social Study by pwc, 15.09.2016)
4 Destroying trust – for a long time. (SUEPO The Hague, 05.03.2018)
5 eg the new career system (CA/D 10/14), the DG1/DG2 reorganisation (CA/65/17), and the “reform” of the internal justice system (CA/D 7/17) allowing for easy dismissal for professional incompetence.
6 or are at least in line with international civil service law standards
7 Introducing flexibility in the employment framework (slide show, Elodie Bergot, 05.10.2017)
8 The Tribunal’s judges are appointed on three-year renewable contracts . Note that the ILOAT had several bilateral talks with the EPO administration – a party in the dispute – without informing or inviting representatives of the employees (ILO-AT: 90 years old and in need of repair, 03.05.2017, su17040cp)
9 This feeling has grown after the publication of the second batch of judgments of the 125th ILO session which confirmed the authority of the President to ignore even unanimous recommendations of the Disciplinary Committee
10 JUVE Patent Survey 2016 (https://suepo.org/public/ex17003cpe.pdf, English translation)
11 The EPO’s Vision (III) – Quality (Thorsten Bausch, Kluwer Patent Blog, 05.03.2018)
12 Patent quality has fallen, confirm Euro examiners (theregister, 15.03.2018)
13 EPO-FLIER No. 33 The final straw for patent quality? (www.epostaff4rights.org)
14 EPO-FLIER No. 35 What else is wrong with CA/3/18? (www.epostaff4rights.org)
15 eg during the Budget and Finance Committee (BFC) meeting in October 2017 (see CA/109/17)
16 CSC Report of the 238th meeting of the GAC on 28.02.2012 in Munich: “As reported earlier in our report of the 236th GAC, the so-called “HR Roadmap” talks of “involvement of higher management” in the GAC in 2012, in order to “strengthen” it. Additionally, in a meeting with the staff representation the President declared that if he wants an opinion from his managers he will ask them, but that once a proposal comes to the GAC he expects his nominees to defend it.”

Not much has changed since the above was published. Things have been worryingly calm in the sense that it just doesn’t appear like anything is improving. Some just gave up. The EPO languishes.

The European Patent Office Will Never Hold Its Destroyers Accountable

Monday 16th of April 2018 11:59:23 PM

It rewards them with a bonus equivalent to two years of work as EPO President!

Summary: With only one in seven EPO stakeholders believing that Battistelli’s pick (António Campinos) will turn things around for the better, it certainly does not seem like people are happy and there’s no real hope that Battistelli will ever be held accountable for his abuses after his immunity expires

THE staff union of the EPO (SUEPO) has been quiet lately. Very quiet. Maybe they just wait for Battistelli to leave. He has less than 2.5 months left. Then a fellow Frenchman, whose job application he promoted, will inherit the penthouse with the pub.

“Maybe they just wait for Battistelli to leave. He has less than 2.5 months left. Then a fellow Frenchman, whose job application he promoted, will inherit the penthouse with the pub.”We are constantly being told and reminded by people who are familiar with these matters that the successor (Campinos) won’t change anything. All evidence we’ve seen so far suggests so too. In fact, we expect Battistelli to still participate remotely (through Campinos). Battistelli is not retiring, only hibernating in CEIPI (swapping a chair with Campinos). As a reminder see the following older posts:

It’s hard to simply accept that Battistelli goes unpunished; he will walk free. Many EPO employees will be very upset. Who’s to blame? European politicians? German politicians? Dutch politicians? Delegates who mostly come from NPOs (national patent offices)? Probably all the ‘above’… there’s a chain of complicity and coverup. It makes Europe look unjust or rather a place where people can get away with serious abuses as long as they invoke diplomatic immunity.

“All these cowards from large law firms never want to talk about EPO corruption.”There’s another element of complicity in the mix.

All these cowards from large law firms never want to talk about EPO corruption. Very few of them ever did. We could count them on one hand. Complicity by oversight? Apathy? Cowardice?

“The Enlarged Board of Appeal and other Boards are not enjoying any independence upon which sound judgments are to be based.”Look at EPO news these days. Absolutely nothing about scandals. It’s like scandals never happened. They don’t matter. Not even multi-euro 'heists' that are about to happen within weeks. The media, which is paid to participate, isn’t interested in journalism but in pure PR. Battistelli pays them for it (at the expense of the EPO of course).

Bardehle Pagenberg’s Rudolf Teschemacher has just written about “recent developments in EPO case law,” but what about the Boards upon which he bases his entire article? The Enlarged Board of Appeal and other Boards are not enjoying any independence upon which sound judgments are to be based. It’s a massive crisis. The whole EPC is now an ignored piece of paper. EPO is therefore defunct and debased, technically detached from its very founding document. This is what Teschemacher had to say:

Recent decisions passed by three different instances of the EPO have significant effects on the patentability of inventions under European patent law. All of them concerned the validity of patents to be assessed in opposition proceedings. Applicants should be aware of the consequences of these decisions. Avoidable mistakes when filing a European patent application and even previously may later result in the loss of the patent.

No mention of the Patrick Corcoran ‘affair’ and the Boards’ own complaints. To people like Teschemacher it pays more to simply pretend nothing is amiss. How about FRKelly’s Alan Casey? He published this a few hours ago. The EPO is making it more expensive to appeal/object to bogus patents that the Office keeps granting in order to ‘fake’ “success” and make staff redundant. Here’s the key part:

A lower level of appeal fee of €1880 will apply for appeals filed by natural persons and entities referred to in Rule 6(4) EPC, i.e. small and medium-sized enterprises, non-profit organisations, universities and public research organisations. An increased appeal fee of €2255 will apply to all other entities.

We already wrote about this several times before. It’s designed to encourage focus on the ‘patent-granting (or patent-printing) machine’ rather than quality assurance.

“It’s designed to encourage focus on the ‘patent-granting machine’ rather than quality assurance.”Last but not least, hours ago came out this article from August Debouzy (Gregoire Desrousseaux, François Pochart and Geoffroy Thill). They boast about PACE-type programmes and contrariwise slowdowns of the process.

The main problem is that the EPO is running out of work, out of skills, and out of reputation. Not that it bothers law firms. They cash in on trouble. To quote their conclusions:

The new optional postponement procedure of the examination goes against the decreasing duration of the search, examination and opposition procedures initiated during the last few years in the EPO. However, the procedure reveals manifold advantages for applicants. They could maintain a pending application with a broad scope of protection for 3 more years while keeping the opportunity to request an accelerated examination at any time. The applicants shall be able to accelerate or delay the granting procedure of their patents.

This has no impact on quality of underlying assessment (examination); it just means they can metaphorically press “pause”, that’s all.

Is it not curious that not even one law firm bothered mentioning the petition signed by a quarter of examiners to bemoan departure from the EPC and declining patent quality? Only 3 sites that are English-speaking covered it and one that speaks German. As long as nobody is willing enough to bring up these matters in the patent microcosm there’s no hope of resolving the biggest issues. This basically sums up why nothing will change under Campinos, as we explained a week ago. In fact, according to this new article [PDF], when asked whether “António Campinos is the right person to solve the EPO’s problems” only 14.7% of the respondents (patent professionals) said “Yes”. It’s just slightly more than one in seven!

With Liars Like These…

Monday 16th of April 2018 11:15:33 PM

Related: “EPI Makes No Protest When the AC Connives With Battistelli to Trash the Rule of Law”

Summary: The European Patent Office continues to lie about the Unified Patent Court (UPC) amongst other things, still revealing its reluctance to say anything which is truthful or work to repair the damage caused by Benoît Battistelli

The European Patent Office (EPO) composed not one but two ‘news’ items today, probably for the first time in two weeks (minus one day). As expected, there’s plenty to correct there. There’s also this new tweet inviting people to “[j]oin the first ever EPO Life Sciences Seminar held in Seattle, US on 17-18 May.”

Yes, EPO events now take place in another continent! In Microsoft’s back yard. Microsoft receives special treatment, so maybe the E in EPO stands not for “European”. Either way, looking at what the EPO wrote today, the first item was about the epi connections (warning: epo.org link). We wish to remind readers of the DG5 (Raimund Lutz)-epi connection; Antonius Tangena helped Željko Topić’s appointment. Tangena is apparently no longer there:

EPO President Benoît Battistelli joined Francis Leyder, President of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the EPO (epi) and Christian Cardona, the Maltese Minister for Economy, Investment and Small Businesses, to celebrate the epi’s 40th anniversary.

Valletta is a welcoming place for the likes of Battistelli because there’s plenty of corruption there and journalists who expose such corruption get assassinated, sometimes even blown up in their car (local policemen then publicly celebrate this).

The second item is about an event that was noted last week because EPO executives now associate themselves with ACTA pusher/lobbyist Paul Rübig [1, 2] in an effort to push the patently false claim that EPO cares for SMEs. They had the audacity to push/promote such lies as formal ‘news’ (warning: epo.org link). It is worth noting that EPO management is nowadays interjecting lies from Margot Fröhlinger for the sake of the UPC (her entire career/role), falsely representing SMEs (they oppose UPC), then Slawomir Tokarski. The EPO is a chronic liar like the worst administrations and mind the part about Fröhlinger:

The European Patent Office has presented its report on SMEs and Patents at an event last week hosted by Paul Rübig MEP, First Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment Panel (STOA). The breakfast debate was co-organised by SME Europe and the EPO.

[...]

Principal Director for Unitary Patent, European and International Legal Affairs Margot Fröhlinger, set out in her presentation how the planned Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court will help overcome the fragmentation in the European patent system, also for the benefit of SMEs. According to her, the new system may be expected to be operational early 2019.

[...]

Mr Slawomir Tokarski, Director of Innovation at DG GROW, also presented the European Commission’s IPR package adopted last year and stressed the cost savings expected from the Unitary Patent.

So the EPO basically keeps lying in public. The UPC is now being portrayed as “for SMEs” — the very opposite of what’s true. The Unitary Patent is dead, so what Fröhlinger is doing boils down to pure marketing. She is Battistelli’s liar for hire. Other UPC critics have noticed and noted the same thing.

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