Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish


Syndicate content
Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 9 min ago

From PTAB Bashing to Federal Circuit (CAFC) Bashing: How the Patent ‘Industry’ Sells Software Patents

9 hours 5 min ago

No, the patent microcosm needs no facts, only innuendo!

Summary: The latest tactics of the patent microcosm are just about as distasteful as last month’s (or last year’s), with focus shifting to the courts and few broadly-misinterpreted patent cases (mainly Finjan, Berkheimer, and Aatrix)

IN OUR previous post we explained how buzzwords were being used by both the EPO and USPTO to allow some software patents. This isn’t good, but one must remember that a patent being granted by a patent office isn’t the final stop; courts too must examine and rule on the matter, but only if it reaches the courts (i.e. not a settlement out of court or ‘protection’ money).

US courts have become very hostile (albeit understandably and suitably — as per the law — hostile) towards software patents. This really, really upsets patent zealots such as IAM and Watchtroll. They seem to have shifted attention away from PTAB and mostly to CAFC, whose judges they are bashing and credibility/legitimacy they question. It’s disgusting because we recently saw even racial smears against Judge Reyna.

Watchtroll used to bash PTAB almost every day — sometimes several times per day — but gone are those days. Several days ago they wrote about the Zeidman lawsuit over “optimizing software code to run on a modern space processor [...] Zeidman was informed that the funding topic was seeking a software tool or tool suite capable of converting high level software languages like C++ or Matlab into a hardware description language (HDL).”

Watchtroll has always been a loud proponent of software patents; so isn’t it a shame that nobody there (with very rare exceptions) even understands how programming works? The founder got so upset when questioned about it that he blocked me in Twitter. He had made a fool of himself, making contradictory statements and showing that he hasn’t the faintest of clue what computer programs are (he thinks a Web page is a computer program, for instance, not hypertext).

About a week or two late Watchtroll wrote about the ‘car parts’ case and yesterday it mentioned Judge Reyna in the context of a case from last week (not about patent scope). The gist:

SimpleAir, Inc. v. Google LLC, No. 2016-2738, 2018 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 12, 2018) (Before Lourie, Reyna, and Chen, J.) (Opinion for the court, Lourie, J.)

The Federal Circuit vacated a district court order dismissing SimpleAir’s complaint as barred by claim preclusion and the Kessler doctrine, and remanded for further proceedings.

Days earlier a patent maximalism site, Patent Docs, cherry-picked a rarity: reversal on § 101 grounds (Mayo and Alice) at CAFC.

The Federal Circuit affirmed the decision on § 101, reversed denial of JMOL on infringement of the ’685 patent, vacated judgment for damages as a result of its decision on ’685 patent infringement, and remanded for the District Court to recalculate damages, in a decision by Judge Moore joined by Judge Bryson; Judge Hughes dissented.

The majority set forth the now canonical two-prong test for subject matter eligibility under Mayo and Alice: the claims need to be “directed to” a law of nature, natural phenomenon or abstract idea, and there must be “something more” amounting to an “inventive concept” that is not merely “routine, conventional, and well-understood” in the prior art. Here, the majority spends little time on the first prong, accepting without comment that the claimed invention is dependent on the “natural law” that body temperature can be measured from skin temperature at the forehead. The District Court had relied on Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175 (1981), for the principle that claims can recite “additional steps” that “transformed the underlying natural laws into inventive methods and useful devices that noninvasively and accurately detect human body temperature.” These steps, which included “(1) moving while laterally scanning (’685 patent claims 7, 14, and 17; ’938 patent claims 17, 24, 33, 60, and 66); (2) obtaining a peak temperature reading (’685 patent claim 7; ’938 patent claims 60 and 66); and (3) obtaining at least three readings per second (’938 patent claims 17, 24, 39, 40, 46, and 49)” were known in the prior art but that was not enough. According to the District Court “simply being known in the art did not suffice to establish that the subject matter was not eligible for patenting” because “a new combination of steps in a process may be patentable even though all the constituents of the combination were well known and in common use before the combination was made,” citing Diehr. The distinction (and in some ways the distinction missing from much of § 101 jurisprudence post-Mayo) is that these methods were used for a different purpose in the prior art, in this case detecting “hot spots” indicative of tumors, fractures, or other injuries (and in at least some testimony, used in horses not humans). In addition, the invention here newly provided a “calculated coefficient for translating measurements taken at the forehead into core body temperature readings” which was not routine, well understood or conventional in the prior art.

Notice how none of these cases can really change anything. So patent lawyers reject reality, manipulate law, and latch onto imaginary things. Here we have boosters from Fenwick & West writing about the ‘vibrations’ case (covered here before). They continue to nitpick decisions and try to warp reality against Alice et al (decisions similar to it), borrowing from very old CAFC rulings, e.g.:

I have not spent too much time trying to determine whether the court here accurately applied the tests mandated by Alice, Mayo and their progeny. My discomfort comes from the specific result (that the claims are not, as a whole directed to patent eligible subject matter) more than the general result (patent invalidity) or the path to it. At bottom, all inventions work because of the physics, math, etc. governing their structure and operation. The claims here seem directed, as a whole, to the manufacture of automotive drive shafts. It seems certain to me that even a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable to challenge such a claim on Section 101 grounds. Was the patent bar really that disconnected from the statute for the past century? Is the sea change brought on by Bilski, Alice and Mayo based not on difficult questions brought on by the nature of information age inventions but instead on a longstanding, fundamental misunderstanding of the statutory statement of what our patent system is intended to protect?

Not to our shock, other patent maximalists still hope to make of Berkheimer something that it isn’t (explanation in [1, 2] among other posts of ours). Patently-O mentioned it again the other day:

The case has good shot at being heard by the whole court. I expect that the court would agree with Judge Moore that underlying factual issues are possible in the eligibility analysis, the exercise is not “a predominately factual one that ‘opens the door in both steps of the Alice inquiry for the introduction of an inexhaustible array of extrinsic evidence, such as prior art, publications, other patents, and expert opinion.’” (HP Petition, quoting Judge Reyna’s dissent in Aatrix).

No cartoon of Judge Reyna this time around, for ‘daring’ to express dissent (in Aatrix). Watchtroll is still bringing up Aatrix. Yes, yet again as an excuse to assert (again!) that there’s another route for avoiding rejection of a software patent. This is nonsensical.

Then that’s that old Finjan case from January — a case in which all patents except one were discarded, causing a great deal of commotion among patent maximalists.

Sara O’Connell (Pillsbury’s Internet & Social Media Law Blog/Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP) recalled this old case, which she pushed out as a “press release” and an ‘article’ (another example of infomercials, like those we referred to earlier today). To quote:

Finjan Inc. owns patents on technology involving computer and network security. Its patents are directed toward behavior-based internet security, addressing a method of “identifying, isolating, and neutralizing” potentially malicious code based on the behavior of that code rather than by scanning and maintaining a list of known viruses and malicious code signatures like so many other providers of internet security software.

Finjan was also mentioned in this other infomercial from a few days ago. To quote:

Patent claims serve to provide notice as to the scope of an invention described in a patent. The claims can be directed to various statutory types, such as an apparatus, article, composition, method, system, or any other patentable subject matter.


CRM claims combine the functionality of method claims with the tangibility of apparatus claims: they recite operations typically provided in a method while being directed to a physical memory having instructions that are executable to cause such operations. Accordingly, whereas it is uncertain whether a method can be “sold,” “offered for sale,” or “imported” for purposes of infringement under § 271, the Federal Circuit has held that CRMs can be. For example, in Finjan v. Secure Computing Corp., the Federal Circuit affirmed that the defendant infringed the plaintiff’s CRM claims because the defendant had “sold” an infringing software product.[14] And while each step of a method must actually be performed in the United States to be infringed, the court in Finjan did not require that the instructions stored in the infringing CRM actually be executed. The court reasoned that, “to infringe a claim that recites capability and not actual operation, an accused device ‘need only be capable of operating’ in the described mode.”[15] Thus, CRM claims can operate like apparatus claims for purposes of an infringement analysis.

It’s worth noting that all they ever mention is Finjan, Berkheimer, and Aatrix (nothing from 2017). But as we pointed out many times before (in more than a dozen articles), none of this triplet can be considered a real challenge to Section 101 and nothing at all last year even came close to that. Nothing has really changed, except the frequency of infomercials that try to ‘poach’ customers; they used to bash PTAB a lot and now they just basically cherry-pick CAFC cases and argue that they can miraculously enforce software patents. They cannot.

Patent Maximalists Keep Coming Up With New Terms and Buzzwords to Bypass the Practical Ban on Software Patents

Monday 19th of March 2018 06:39:54 AM

Reference: Buzzword

Summary: The fightback against Section 101 and the US Supreme Court (notably Alice) seems to concentrate on old and new buzzwords, such as “Software as a Medical Device” (“SaMD”) or “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (“4IR”), which the EPO recently paid European media to spread and promote

THE demise of software patents is very much real in the United States (the USPTO grants these only if semantic tricks are being used and courts don’t easily fall for such semantics). The EPO is another matter, which we deal with separately as it’s rather frustrating.

Several days ago Microsoft’s old ‘shill’ Rob Enderle was back to implicitly promoting software patents, piggybacking BlackBerry v Facebook (we covered it earlier this month). “Facebook can afford to license,” he wrote, “but is part of a wave of companies that didn’t believe in software patents and licensing and seemingly gives its products away for free.”

“Several days ago Microsoft’s old ‘shill’ Rob Enderle was back to implicitly promoting software patents, piggybacking BlackBerry v Facebook…”Facebook does believe in software patents and has already pursued many of its own, but don’t expect to get facts from Enderle. The only positive thing that Facebook does in the domain of patents is its support of PTAB (through front groups that it’s funding).

Either way, as we said above, the main route to software patenting in the US (more so nowadays) is semantic tricks, notably buzzwords like “IoT” and “cloud”. The same is true in Europe ("4IR" is the buzzword of choice this year). Days ago, Canadian Lawyer suggested patenting software under the guise of another resurgent hype wave, “artificial intelligence”. None of this is new, it’s more like a fashion and it’s led primarily by marketing-type brainstorms.

How about this upcoming ‘webinar’ on patenting software under the guise of “medical” and “device”? Judge Corcoran from the EPO had dealt with something like this (he rejected a patent of an EPO partner) before Battistelli put him on "house ban". Even if not a retaliatory move, it does make one wonder…

Watch them coming up with another new buzzword: SaMD.

“…the main route to software patenting in the US (more so nowadays) is semantic tricks, notably buzzwords like “IoT” and “cloud”.”To quote: “counsel for companies in the medical device industry on protecting software as a medical device (SaMD), and also discuss the new FDA rules regulating SaMD and how to leverage IP law to protect SaMD.”

These sorts of think tanks (‘webinars’) are sickening, yet Patent Docs, a site of patent maximalists, promoted half a dozens of these yesterday. Here’s one from the Boston Patent Law Association and the Federal Circuit Bar Association with “The Impact of Recent Section 101 Patent Eligibility Cases on U.S. Innovation” (sounds like Alice lobbying right there!).

The Federal Circuit Bar Association also gives ‘access’ to Federal Circuit Judge Kara Stoll (if you’re rich enough to be able to afford these massive fees) and there’s this “Course on Federal Circuit Practice & Procedure”. “The course will provide a comprehensive study of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC),” says the outline. We intend to deal separately with CAFC in our next post, especially in relation to Alice.

“Watch them coming up with another new buzzword: SaMD.”Last but not least, Patent Docs promoted another lobbying event (‘webinar’) of the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), which is lobbying hard to thwart Alice and water down Section 101.

All in all, we remain rather concerned to see this well-funded lobby for software patents. Especially in a country where it’s notoriously easy to simply buy policy. This lobby is already extremely harmful. It often suggests merely disguising such software patents, so courts will deem them invalid as “abstract” rather than invalid as “algorithm” or invalid as “software”.

“With the success we have achieved in early implementations along with the patents we’ve secured for our innovation,” said this press release from 6 days ago, “now is the time to build our sales channels and lead the way in 3D vision guidance software.”

“All in all, we remain rather concerned to see this well-funded lobby for software patents.”So they’re patenting software. In my research area in fact. We often complain about how computer vision patents get granted in the US, sometimes because they’re laden/decorated with buzzwords like “artificial intelligence”, “machine learning” and so on (these are all mathematics/algorithms).

How about this other new press release which says “Aquiire features patented, real-time B2B e-commerce shopping” (again, that’s software!).

Are examiners paying close enough attention to what they’re granting and thus making/rendering a de facto monopoly? It takes a lot of money to challenge wrongly-granted patents and Section 101 is all over these. PTAB would be all of these (if it was petitioned to recheck). Here we have PTAB hater Gross bragging about exceptional cases where IBM ‘survives’ Section 101 and citing the IAM interview with Iancu he goes again into his ALL CAPS rant mode: “SO WE CAN EXPECT MORE ONGOING 101 NONSENSE FROM PT” (Iancu does not intend to change this any time soon).

“Are examiners paying close enough attention to what they’re granting and thus making/rendering a de facto monopoly?”The funniest from him (this past week) is this claim that “PTAB continues indiscriminate use of “abstract idea” to destroy US based innovations…”

He must have meant “destroy software patents,” which were themselves destroying US based innovations in many domains other than software. Watchtroll has meanwhile published “Dueling Visions of the Patent System, Dueling Visions for America”, which again conflates patent maximalism with the “American Dream” and all that malarkey. We frankly try not to give them much attention anymore, except for entertainment purposes (they’re a very angry bunch that bullies judges and officials, including the outgoing USPTO Director). We’ll say more about judges and courts in our next post.

News About Patents is Often Just Advertisements Composed Directly or Indirectly by Companies That Sell Patents and Patent Services

Monday 19th of March 2018 05:36:58 AM

Reference: Infomercial

Summary: Infomercials are still dominant among news about patents, in effect drowning out the signal (real journalism) and instead pushing agenda that is detached from reality, pertinent facts, objective assessment, public interest and so on

HAVING just complained about IAM, which is like a front group of patent trolls that lie as habitually as the EPO‘s management does (and gets syndicated as ‘news’, e.g. by Google News), we’d like to draw readers’ attention to this advertisement from Douglas Kim Law Firm LLC (masquerading as a news ‘article’). Like we said many times over the years, a lot of so-called ‘news’ about patents is composed directly or indirectly by firms trying to just sell something. It does, in our assessment, make sites like ours more essential. The title of this advertisement (published in the form of a report but actually an infomercial) is “South Carolina [USPTO] patent grants higher than the national trends” (this may simply mean that more large companies are based in SC compared to the national average, i.e. it’s meaningless).

“This is actually IAM’s business model. The infomercials there are often euphemised as “international reports” or “industry reports” and a lot of the rest is pure lobbying.”Notice the author’s final words: “Doug Kim is an intellectual property attorney with Douglas Kim Law Firm LLC. He develops IP strategies, manages IP portfolios, and creates IP protection plans to complement companies’ business goals and to build intellectual capital. He can be reached at 864-616-9095 or”

They even give a phone number and E-mail. In the ‘report’! How shallow is that?

It’s pretty sad that news sites are stooping so low; they actively publish commercials with misleading headlines as though these were works of journalism. This is actually IAM’s business model. The infomercials there are often euphemised as “international reports” or “industry reports” and a lot of the rest is pure lobbying. Battistelli gets his money's (actually EPO stakeholders' money) worth there.

Blocks and Paywalls Won’t Protect the Patent Trolls’ Lobby From Scrutiny/Fact-Checking

Monday 19th of March 2018 05:01:58 AM

Summary: Joff Wild and Benoît Battistelli have much in common, including patent maximalism and chronic resistance to facts (or fact-checking)

THE EPO is well known for its censorship (of its union, of its staff representatives, of this site and many other things). They’re aggressive authoritarians (the management) and they lie routinely; they just don’t want to stand corrected.

“They’re aggressive authoritarians (the management) and they lie routinely; they just don’t want to stand corrected.”A few days ago we noticed that IAM had introduced a new kind of paywall, one which was ‘built’ around its blog, too (traditionally the paywall was reserved for other sections). This is new and I am guessing they don’t want critics to see what they are writing (mostly nonsense and patent propaganda). That says a lot about IAM, whose piece about the EPO (from half a day ago) we mentioned a couple of hours ago. They know they’re deflecting/lying, so they want not to be held accountable. IAM previously blocked me (before realising how futile a measure it was as it does not prevent me from seeing and rebutting their stuff). From now on it’s going to get a lot harder to know what they say to their subscribers (the patent microcosm, trolls etc.), but we’ll try our best. A few days ago they wrote about Microsoft's former General Manager of Outbound Licensing (patent extortion basically), who joined Sonos less than a year ago and is now leaving:

Senior licensing executive Tanya Moore is leaving Sonos after little over a year at the audio business. Her departure comes as something of a surprise given that the company has continued to enjoy considerable success in its litigation against rival speaker manufacturer Denon and looked set to capitalise on its strong IP position in the rapidly…

We rely on IAM to track some of these moves. These people whom they worship and whitewash are typically the worst patent bullies, so we try to keep abreast of such moves. Around the same time IAM also wrote a euphemisms-filled piece about patent shakedown in Southeast Asia, with sentences such as these:

There is a lot more IP creation going on in this region than patent filing and enforcement statistics might suggest. And that leaves plenty of scope for technology-based deals. As more patent-oriented companies like Japan’s IP Bridge continue to explore partnerships with local firms, creative and patient deal-making will be crucial.

Translated into crude English (bar the euphemisms:

There is a lot more patenting going on in this region than patent shakedowns and lawsuits might suggest. And that leaves plenty of scope for extortion and ‘protection’ money. As more patent trolls like Japan’s IP Bridge continue to explore patent settlements with local firms, aggressive and prolonged threat-making will be crucial.

IAM is quite a funny site in all sorts of ways. But we find it valuable for keeping track of trolls (which IAM obviously glorifies). We’ll try our best to get past the paywalls and still challenge the nonsense, such as their recent attacks on a study demonstrating insurgence of patent trolls in Europe.

China Has Become Very Aggressive With Patents

Monday 19th of March 2018 04:27:38 AM

The Communist Party of China (CPC) has a protectionist plan and a shared agenda (not just tactics) with Battistelli, who significantly lowered patent quality for the sake of raw quantity

Summary: China now targets other Asian countries/firms — more so than Western firms — with patent lawsuits; we expect this to get worse in years to come

KOREAN giant Samsung, which employs an extraordinary number of people, has traditionally been one of the top patenters (if not the top patenter, e.g. in 2012) at the EPO and USPTO, not just KIPO. Sure, it fell behind LG (the ‘other’ South Korean giant) this past year at the EPO, for whatever reason (we don’t want to speculate).

“China’s patent aggression is a growing problem and it’s like nothing we ever saw in Japan and Korea (traditionally of the patent ideology of live and let live).”Samsung, at least traditionally, is not patent-aggressive. In other words, it rarely sues anyone except if sued first. The same is said about Korean culture in general. Some time ago China began assaulting LG with patents — to the point where LG withdrew/pulled a lot of its business out of China. Samsung too came under many attacks in China and then it retaliated, even in the US. The latest in this retaliation? Florian Müller reports on the injunction against Huawei (highly CPC-connected firm):

A few days ago, reported that United States District Judge William H. Orrick (Northern District of California) expressed an inclination at a Wednesday hearing to grant Samsung’s motion seeking to bar Huawei from enforcing a couple of Chinese patent injunctions before the U.S. court has determined whether it is, in light of its FRAND obligations, entitled to injunctive relief.

You won’t be surprised if you’ve been following the case here. Two weeks ago I published a post here with a headline that contained the following prognosis: “antisuit injunction looms large”

Even though I’m just a little blogger, it’s a bit daring to offer such a prediction based on the briefing record, especially since antisuit (here, actually just anti-enforcement) injunctions don’t come down every day. But for the reasons explained in my previous posts, above all Ninth Circuit case law, Huawei won’t be able to complain.

China’s patent aggression is a growing problem and it’s like nothing we ever saw in Japan and Korea (traditionally of the patent ideology of live and let live). A few days ago Managing IP wrote:

Big changes to the intellectual property office, including combining the enforcement functions of trade marks and patents, are expected to strengthen IP enforcement in China

Managing IP speaks of “administrative overlap” at SIPO. The main issue with SIPO, however, is not “administrative overlap” but really low patent quality which already causes patent trolls to soar there and few large Chinese firms (which can afford to fight trolls in court) to merely consolidate power.

“…expect Xi and CPC to try to leverage their ‘soft power’ abroad with patents.”China isn’t what patent maximalists claim it to be (we wrote many rebuttals to that effect recently) and the number of granted patents says little about innovation. Chinese patents at European and American patent offices are basically the ‘best of Mandarin’ (SIPO patents translated, sometimes with help from foreign workers). Those are the patents that are probably actually worth something.

Either way, expect Xi and CPC to try to leverage their ‘soft power’ abroad with patents. They know that trade sanctions are imminent (if not already in tact, e.g. tariffs), so it’s a form of deterrent or counterattack.

UPC/Battistelli Booster IAM Blames Brexit Rather Than EPO Abuses

Monday 19th of March 2018 03:42:21 AM

IAM spoon-feeds Battistelli annually

Summary: While the EPO is collapsing due to mismanagement the boosters of Team Battistelli would rather deflect and speak about Brexit, which is itself partly motivated by such mismanagement

THE EPO is in trouble. Ignore the spin which is known as “Annual Report” and does not take into account depletion of work (layoffs will come soon, quite inevitably, for the first time ever). EPO recruitment of Brits had gone down by 80% and the UPC isn’t coming (for about half a dozen very important reasons, not just Brexit); the German press too now joins the British press (3 articles so far) in talking about the petition regarding patent quality (new article by Stefan Krempl, who is familiar with EPO affairs).

Thorsten Bausch has just published the last part of his series called “The EPO’s Vision,” in which he says: “…we need to talk about (a) the intended task or purpose and (b) the extent to which time or effort is well used, when a patent is searched and examined by the European Patent Office” (EPO).

“Amid all this, the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) bemoans the UK’s lack of participation in the EPO, having been paid by the EPO’s PR agency to promote the UPC.”As we said over the weekend, the European Patent Office ceased being a patent office; it’s more like a patent-printing machine now, unregulated and reckless beyond belief. Staff is suffering while management (executives) floods its own bank accounts. It’s utterly despicable and it doesn't look like European authorities intend to do anything.

Amid all this, the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) bemoans the UK’s lack of participation in the EPO, having been paid by the EPO’s PR agency to promote the UPC. The editor of IAM wrote yesterday: “If you do incline to this view, patent data backs you up. Take, for example, the European Patent Office’s recently released annual report for 2017. This showed that UK-based entities accounted for just 3% of applications the office received last year. That put the UK in seventeenth position in terms of patent applications per million of population.”

“…EPO scandals contribute to anti-EU sentiments — whether justifiably or not — and those who care about the Union should do a lot more to tackle EPO abuses.”Further down he says “we all know that patents do not equate to innovation.” (but IAM does often say so, equating patents to innovation)

Either way, the point of this IAM post was to express that same old dissatisfaction over Brexit (to be clear, I am strongly against Brexit too) and having watched this closely over the past couple of years, it seems clear that their motivations aren’t quite the same as everybody’s. In fact, the clear absence of coverage about EPO scandals says a lot. Had IAM been objective (which it clearly isn’t; check its lists of sponsors), it would realise that EPO scandals contribute to anti-EU sentiments — whether justifiably or not — and those who care about the Union should do a lot more to tackle EPO abuses.

European Commission Again Urged to Tackle Abuses at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Monday 19th of March 2018 03:12:28 AM

Summary: Rina Ronja Kari (left) is the latest MEP attempting to compel the Commission to actually do something about the EPO other than turning a blind eye

IT IS not often that European politicians decide to bring up EPO abuses. It happens only a few times a year. But a politician from Copenhagen (same as Kongstad), a young politician (since age 29) called Rina Ronja Kari (who is “a member of the People’s Movement against the EU,” according to Wikipedia) has brought up the latest USF letter in the following question:

Parliamentary questions
5 March 2018
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 130
Rina Ronja Kari (GUE/NGL)

Subject: Working conditions at the European Patent Office

Working conditions at the European Patent Office (EPO) have been the subject of persistent criticism for years now. The trade union federation USF recently sent a letter to all 38 of the EPO’s delegations. In the letter, the USF’s chair, Dr Bernd Loescher, describes the situation at the EPO as ‘extreme’(1).

1. What are the Commission’s views on the criticism that has been raised about working conditions at the EPO?

2. How is the Commission planning to follow up on the criticism about working conditions at the EPO?

SUEPO added: “Visit Mrs Rina Ronja Kari’s official website at the European Parliament here (to view the Q & A scroll down to Parliamentary Questions).”

The European Parliament and Commission have repeatedly failed to do anything substantial regarding the EPO. We thus expect this latest endeavour to fall on deaf ears, even amid imminent trouble.

Links 18/3/2018: Wine 3.4, Wine-Staging 3.4, KDE Connect 1.8 for Android

Sunday 18th of March 2018 11:22:41 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Surprise! Microsoft Found A New Way To Force Edge Browser On You

      On Friday, Microsoft released the new Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 17263 for Skip Ahead users. As you might be knowing, the changes and improvements pushed as a part of the build will be included in the semi-annual Windows 10 feature update (codenamed Redstone 5) releasing in the second half of 2018.

    • Lawsuit claims sexual harassment rife in Microsoft’s ‘boys’ club atmosphere’

      Between 2010 and 2016, women in technical jobs at the company lodged 108 complaints of sexual harassment, 119 complaints of gender discrimination, eight complaints of retaliation and three complaints of pregnancy discrimination.

    • Don’t want Microsoft forcing Edge on you? Switch from Windows 10 to Linux with Zorin OS 12.3!

      I am sick and tired of technology companies like Microsoft thinking they can impose their will on consumers. Just today, the company made a startling announcement — it will now force links from the Windows Mail app to open in its own Edge web browser. In other words, whether you like it or not, even if Edge isn’t your default browser, it will still be used for opening links from emails. This is unacceptable, and when combined with all of the other Windows 10 calamities, users should consider switching operating systems immediately.

      Since macOS requires you to buy an entirely new computer from Apple, a Linux-based operating system is probably your best bet. By using Linux, you can finally reclaim your computer as your own — not Microsoft’s. Today, version 12.3 of Zorin OS is released, and it is the perfect OS to replace Windows 10. Hell, it can even run Windows programs (including Microsoft Office) with the help of the pre-installed and pre-configured Wine 3.

    • Zorin OS 12.3 Linux Distro Released: Download The Perfect Windows Replacement

      While listing out the best distros for a Linux beginner, the ease of use and installation are the most critical factors. Such qualities make distros like Linux Mint, Ubuntu, and Zorin OS the most recommended options. In case you’re also concerned about your privacy and security, a shift to the world of Linux becomes a more obvious option.

      Calling itself a replacement for Windows and macOS, Zorin OS has been established as a beginner-friendly option that offers a smooth ride while making the transition. The latest Zorin OS 12.3 release works to strengthen the basics of the operating system and polishes the whole experience.

    • Ramblings about long ago and far away

      I had originally run MCC (Manchester Computer Center Interim Linux) in college but when I moved it was easier to find a box of floppies with SLS so I had installed that on the 486. I would then download software source code from the internet and rebuild it for my own use using all the extra flags I could find in GCC to make my 20Mhz system seem faster. I instead learned that most of the options didn’t do anything on i386 Linux at the time and most of my reports about it were probably met by eye-rolls with the people at Cygnus. My supposed goal was to try and set up a MUD so I could code up a text based virtual reality. Or to get a war game called Conquer working on Linux. Or maybe get xTrek working on my system. [I think I mostly was trying to become a game developer by just building stuff versus actually coding stuff. I cave-man debugged a lot of things using stuff I had learned in FORTRAN but it wasn't actually making new things.]

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • lkml: remove eight obsolete architectures

      In the end, it seems that while the eight architectures are extremely
      different, they all suffered the same fate: There was one company in
      charge of an SoC line, a CPU microarchitecture and a software ecosystem,
      which was more costly than licensing newer off-the-shelf CPU cores from
      a third party (typically ARM, MIPS, or RISC-V). It seems that all the
      SoC product lines are still around, but have not used the custom CPU
      architectures for several years at this point.

    • Linux 4.17 Spring Cleaning To Drop Some Old CPU Architectures

      Longtime Linux kernel developer Arnd Bergmann is working to drop a number of old and obsolete CPU architectures from the next kernel cycle, Linux 4.17.

      The obsolete CPU architectures set to be removed include Blackfin, CRIS, FR-V, M32R, MN10300, META (Metag), and TILE. Managing to escape its death sentence is the Unicore32 architecture with its port maintainer claiming it’s still actively being used and maintained.

    • [Older] Linus Torvalds Interview by Kristaps

      Interviewer: we all know who Linus is, but not many people know he’s also a proficient diver. Why don’t we start at the beginning: where you first started diving, and when you started to take diving seriously.

      Actually, it was related to open source, in some way. [...]

    • Linux Foundation
      • NATS Messaging Project Joins Cloud Native Computing Foundation

        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) voted on March 14 to accept the NATS messaging project as its newest hosted effort.

        The NATS project is an open-source distributed messaging technology that got its start seven years ago and has already been deployed by multiple organizations including Ericsson, Comcast, Samsung and General Electric (GE).

        “NATS has room to grow as cloud native adds more use cases and grows adoption, driven by Kubernetes and containers,” Alexis Richardson, Chair of the Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) at the CNCF told eWEEK. “CNCF provides a way to scale community and education so that adopters can engage faster and at all levels.”

    • Graphics Stack
      • Six Candidates Are Vying For This Year’s X.Org Foundation Board

        There are six candidates running for this year’s X.Org Foundation Board of Directors with four seats being open this election.

        Those six candidates for this year’s X.Org elections include Eric Anholt (Broadcom), Robert Foss (Collabora), Bryce Harrington (Samsung), Keith Packard (HP), Laurent Pinchart (Ideas on Board), and Harry Wentland (AMD).

      • Vulkan 1.1.71 Released As The First Update To Vulkan 1.1

        The first point release to the Vulkan 1.1 release from earlier this month is now available. Vulkan 1.1 promoted a lot of functionality to core while also officially adding sub-groups and protected content support. This Vulkan 1.1.71 point release adds a new extension and fixes.

        This first point release to Vulkan 1.1 is officially version 1.1.71. This is because when Vulkan 1.1 was created, Khronos decided not to reset the patch number… Vulkan 1.1 was technically 1.1.70 and not 1.1.0. So now with this first update it’s bumped to Vulkan 1.1.71.

      • AMDVLK Vulkan Driver Updated With Improvements For Sub-Groups & Multi-View

        The AMD developers working on their official cross-platform “AMDVLK” Vulkan driver have updated their open-source code-base for Linux users.

        On Friday the AMD developers pushed to the open-source repository their latest work, their first update since introducing Vulkan 1.1 support back on launch day earlier this month.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Ebony and Ivory, icons together in perfect harmony

      Writing about taste, style and colors is like unraveling chaos. There’s no end to it, and everyone has their own particular taste. Flat and shiny icons seem to be quite popular nowadays, but I’m actually looking for something calmer, less conspicuous, and perhaps less eye-wearing. You want to see things when you need to focus. The rest of the time, the desktop elements should be a neutral background. Nothing speaks neutral like gray.

      Over the years, I’ve tested and tried a lot of available art packages. I won’t backlink to all of them, please peruse the software section at your own delight and peril. I’ve never quite found what I needed, until recently. ACYLS and Ghost Flat are good candidates but Numix White seems to offer the best overall results, except this set might be hard to come by, and we’re cheating color wise. Well, if you have any ideas or suggestions, send them over. And enjoy the full spectrum of your desktop.

    • Best 50 HD Wallpapers for Ubuntu

      Wallpapers are useful in many ways depending on the visual it contains for example if there is a motivational quote on it, it helps to motivate you. The images are the best type of wallpaper because they have an impact on the mind of a human being. So if you are a working professional and have to work continuously on a computer then your desktop cab be a source of inspiration and happiness.

      So today we are going to share 50 best HD Wallpapers for your Ubuntu which will keep your desktop fresh.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Kdenlive Café #27 and #28 – You can’t miss it

        Timeline refactoring, new Pro features, packages for fast and easy install, Windows version and a bunch of other activities are happening in the Kdenlive world NOW!

      • Kubuntu 17.10 Guide for Newbie Part 9

        This is the 9th article, the final part of the series. This ninth article gives you more documentations to help yourself in using Kubuntu 17.10. The resources are online links to certain manuals and ebooks specialized for Kubuntu basics, command lines usage, software installation instructions, how to operate LibreOffice and KDE Plasma.

      • KDE’s Elisa Music Player Preparing For Its v0.1 Released

        We have been tracking the development of Elisa, one of several KDE music players, since development started about one year ago. Following the recent alpha releases, the KDE Elisa 0.1 stable release is on the way.

        Elisa developers are preparing the Elisa v0.1 release and they plan to have it out around the middle of April.

      • KDE Connect Keeps Getting Better For Interacting With Your Desktop From Android

        KDE Connect is the exciting project that allows you to leverage your KDE desktop from Android tablets/smartphones for features like sending/receiving SMS messages from your desktop, toggling music, sharing files, and much more. KDE Connect does continue getting even better.

      • First blog & KDE Connect media control improvements

        I’ve started working on KDE Connect last November. My first big features were released yesterday in KDE Connect 1.8 for Android, so cause for celebration and a blog post!

        My first big feature is media notifications. KDE Connect has, since it’s inception, allowed you to remotely control your music and video’s. Now you can also do this with a notification, like all Android music apps do! So next time a bad song comes up, you don’t need to switch to the KDE Connect app. Just click next on the notification without closing you current app. And just in case you don’t like notifications popping up, there’s an option to disable it.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Ubuntu Tried Adding Synaptics Support Back To GNOME’s Mutter

        GNOME developers previously dropped support for Synaptics and other input drivers from Mutter in favor of the universal libinput stack that is also Wayland-friendly. Canonical developers tried to get Synaptics support on X11 added back into Mutter but it looks clear now that was rejected.

        Canonical’s Will Cooke reported in this week’s Ubuntu happenings that they were trying to add upstream support for Synaptics to Mutter, complementing the libinput support. While it’s great Canonical trying to contribute upstream to GNOME, Synaptics support was previously dropped as being a maintenance burden and with libinput support getting into rather good shape.

  • Distributions
    • Red Hat Family
      • Fedora
        • Long live Release Engineering

          y involvement in Fedora goes back to late 2003 early 2004 somewhere as a packager for I started by getting a few packages in to scratch some of my itches and I saw it as a way to give back to the greater open source community. Around FC3 somewhere I stepped up to help in infrastructure to rebuild the builders in plague, the build system we used before koji and that we used for EPEL(Something that I helped form) for awhile until we got external repo support in koji.

          I was involved in the implementation of koji in Fedora, I joined OLPC as a build and release engineer, where I oversaw a move of the OS they shipped from FC6 to F8, and laid a foundation for the move to F9. I left OLPC when Red Hat opensourced RHN Satellite as “spacewalk project” I joined Red Hat as the release engineer for both, after a brief period there was some reorganisation in engineering that resulted in me handing off the release engineering tasks to someone closer the the engineers working on the code. As a result I worked on Fedora full time helping Jesse Keating. When he decided to work on the internal migration from CVS to git I took over as the lead.


          Recently I have accepted a Job offer to become the manager of a different team inside of Red Hat.

    • Debian Family
      • OSCAL’18, call for speakers, radio hams, hackers & sponsors reminder

        The OSCAL organizers have given a reminder about their call for papers, booths and sponsors (ask questions here). The deadline is imminent but you may not be too late.

        OSCAL is the Open Source Conference of Albania. OSCAL attracts visitors from far beyond Albania (OpenStreetmap), as the biggest Free Software conference in the Balkans, people come from many neighboring countries including Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece and Italy. OSCAL has a unique character unlike any other event I’ve visited in Europe and many international guests keep returning every year.

      • RcppClassicExamples 0.1.2
      • RDieHarder 0.1.4

        Per a CRAN email sent to 300+ maintainers, this package (just like many others) was asked to please register its S3 method. So we did, and also overhauled a few other packagaging standards which changed since the last upload in 2014.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • If you hitch a ride with a scorpion…

    I haven’t seen a blog post or notice about this, but according to the Twitters, Coverity has stopped supporting online scanning for open source projects. Is anybody shocked by this? Anybody?


    Not sure what the story is with Coverity, but it probably has something to do with 1) they haven’t been able to monetize the service the way they hoped, or 2) they’ve been able to monetize the service and don’t fancy spending the money anymore or 3) they’ve pivoted entirely and just aren’t doing the scanning thing. Not sure which, don’t really care — the end result is the same. Open source projects that have come to depend on this now have to scramble to replace the service.


    I’m not going to go all RMS, but the only way to prevent this is to have open tools and services. And pay for them.

  • About Campus Party + 20 years of OSI

    This year was the 4th year that I attended Campus Party, and with butterflies, in my belly, I went over there to show Atelier and do two talks: One about Qt and one about Free Software.

    We are working on AtCore and Atelier since 2016, and on the couple weeks of January, we made the first release of AtCore. That triggered a lot of feelings. And with the good part of those feelings, I made some partnerships(To get a 3DPrinter and material) and went to Campus Party to show our work.

  • 2018 Affilaite and Individual Member Election Results

    The OSI would like to thank all of those who ran for the Board. Volunteering to serve the OSI and support the Open Source community is a tremendous commitment in time and energy–we truly appreciate their willingness to contribute to our continued success and participate in our ongoing work to promote and protect open source software, communities, and development as well as the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement.

    The winners of the 2018 Board of Directors elections are,

    VM Brasseur (elected by the Individual Membership)
    Chris Lamb (elected by the Affiliate Membership)
    Faidon Liambotis (elected by the Affiliate Membership)
    Josh Simmons (elected by the Individual Membership)

  • Web Browsers
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Google Opens Maps APIs and World Becomes Dev Playground

      Google this week announced that it will open its Maps APIs to video game developers, which could result in far more realistic settings in augmented reality games. With access to real-time map updates and rich location data, developers will have many choices of settings for their games.

      The APIs will provide devs with what Google has described as a “living model of the world” to use as a foundation for game worlds. Developers will have access to more than 100 million 3D buildings, roads, landmarks and parks from more than 200 countries around the globe.

  • Funding
    • Easily Fund Open Source Projects With These Platforms

      Financial support is one of the many ways to help Linux and Open Source community. This is why you see “Donate” option on the websites of most open source projects.

      While the big corporations have the necessary funding and resources, most open source projects are developed by individuals in their spare time. However, it does require one’s efforts, time and probably includes some overhead costs too. Monetary supports surely help drive the project development.

      If you would like to support open source projects financially, let me show you some platforms dedicated to open source and/or Linux.

  • BSD
    • HAMMER2 Gets Many Fixes On The Latest DragonFlyBSD Git

      The HAMMER2 file-system has been available with install-time support since DragonFlyBSD 5.0 while the latest Git code continues to revise this next-generation FS for DragonFly. Landing overnight in DragonFlyBSD were several HAMMER and HAMMER2 improvements.

    • [Older] Exploring permutations and a mystery with BSD and GNU split filenames

      In summary, gsplit’s default file naming behavior is to add a letter to the prefix and suffix of a filename whenever it reaches 26^r – 26 files (with r being the current length of the suffix), so you don’t need to worry about running out of filenames (just disk space, haha).

    • Turbocharging ZFS Data Recovery

      Besides being able to display the new debug information, zdb has another new feature that brings its capabilities on par with the kernel: the ability to set global libzpool variables.

    • Intel SGX Enclave Support Added To GCC

      The latest feature addition to the GCC compiler this week is support for Intel’s new “ENCLV”.

      ENCLV is a new intrinsic that is part of the Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX). The Enclave happens to be a trusted execution environment embedded into a process with isolated memory regions of Enclaves are protected areas of execution and the ENCLV instruction is needed to put application code into that special mode.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • Developers dread Visual Basic 6, IBM Db2, SharePoint – survey

      Stack Overflow’s annual survey has revealed the tools and tech that developers love to hate: Visual Basic 6, IBM Db2 and SharePoint.

      According to the poll, which took in the views of more than 100,000 devs, Rust is the most loved programming language for the third year running. It is closely followed by Kotlin, which makes its debut in the survey.


      At the other end of the spectrum is Visual Basic 6, which has been voted most dreaded programming language. Visual Basic 6 is also linked to lower pay, with Stack Overflow saying that devs using it are “paid less even given years of experience”.

  • Porsche and Bugatti turn to 3D printing for complex or rare parts

    The last time we looked at 3D printing in the automotive world, it was still a technique limited to startups like Divergent 3D or Local Motors. But in the last few months, there’s been growing evidence that the big OEMs are waking up to the advantages of additive manufacturing. In recent weeks, we’ve seen Bugatti reveal that it has been 3D printing brake calipers out of titanium, followed soon after by news that Porsche has been using the technique to recreate out-of-stock parts for its classic cars.

  • My Search for Freedom in the Swedish Countryside
  • An information apocalypse is coming. How can we protect ourselves?
  • Science
    • Scolding female scientists for embracing Instagram doesn’t solve the gender gap in STEM
    • The battle for digital supremacy
    • Meet the tech evangelist who now fears for our mental health

      As her children grew up, she started to be disturbed by her son’s apparent compulsion to play video games. “Technology takes parents out of control. I can’t compete with an amazing monster, that level of dopamine. He doesn’t want to eat with us, to be with us, because it’s not as exciting,“ she says. She bought a Circle, a device that allows you to manage the whole family’s internet access, controlling which devices are online at which times and what they can view. “My son hid it,” she says. She tried to turn the wifi off, but he stood guarding it, blocking her way. She still does not know where the Circle is. “In theory,” she says, “if you’ve got compliant children, this would be perfect.” Perhaps that is why her combination to the safe, with his devices and hers, is 12 digits long.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • U.S. Fires a Warning Shot at Silicon Valley With Theranos Case

      “The Theranos story is an important lesson for Silicon Valley,” Jina Choi, director of the agency’s San Francisco office, said in a statement. “Innovators who seek to revolutionize and disrupt an industry must tell investors the truth about what their technology can do today, not just what they hope it might do someday.”

    • The known unknowns of plastic pollution

      Unfortunately, of the 6.3bn tonnes of plastic waste produced since the 1950s only 9% has been recycled and another 12% incinerated. The rest has been dumped in landfills or the natural environment. Often, as with disposable coffee cups, drinks bottles, sweet wrappers and other packets that account for much of the plastic produced in Europe and America, this happens after a brief, one-off indulgence. If the stuff ends up in the sea, it can wash up on a distant beach or choke a seal. Exposed to salt water and ultraviolet light, it can fragment into “microplastics” small enoughto find their way into fish bellies. From there, it seems only a short journey to dinner plates.

    • Plastic and cigarette butts make up most of debris in waterways

      Across Sydney’s beaches, the most common type of rubbish recorded was cigarette butts, which accounted for 31 per cent of all rubbish collected, with 147,900 collected since 2010. Nationally, they accounted for 21 per cent of all debris.

      In second place was foam and plastic packaging, collectively making up more than a fifth of the debris.


    • Is India’s Bangalore doomed to be the next Cape Town?

      A recent report has said the south Indian city of Bangalore could be doomed, like Cape Town in South Africa, to face the threat of running out of drinking water. But is this really the case? The BBC’s Imran Qureshi investigates.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • On Not Being Refuted

      Several million people have now read my articles on the lack of evidence of Russian government guilt for the Salisbury attack. That’s over 300,000 unique visitors on this little blog alone so far, and it has been repeated on hundreds of sites all over the internet. My own tweets on the subject have been retweeted over 12,500 times and received 8 million impressions. I know that journalists from every mainstream media outlet you can mention have seen the material, because of numerous tweets from them none of which address any of the facts, but instead call me a “Conspiracy nutter” or variants of that, some very rude.

      Yet what I wrote has not been refuted. It would be very easy to refute were it not true. The government would just have to say “Porton Down have stated that they have definitely identified the nerve agent as made in Russia”. They have not said that. Most extraordinarily, not one mainstream media “journalist” has asked a minister the question: “You keep using this phrase the nerve agent is “of a type developed by Russia”. Are you able to confirm it was actually made in Russia?” .

      There is no excuse for this. Literally hundreds of mainstream media “journalists” have slavishly reproduced the propaganda phrase “of a type developed by Russia” without a single one of them every querying this rather odd wording, or why it is the government always uses that precise wording again and again and again.

    • The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On

      Beginning just before 8 a.m. on March 16th, the three platoons of Charlie Company were airlifted to the fringes of the Vietnamese hamlets where they expected to encounter fierce enemy resistance. The hail of bullets from helicopter gunships that churned up the earth around them and aimed at suppressing potential enemy fire, created for many of these soldiers who had never experienced combat the impression that they’d been dropped in the midst of the “hot landing zone” Captain Medina had promised them. But as Army photographer Ron Haeberle, assigned to document the assault, would later testify, there was “no hostile fire.” The headquarters of the 48th and what remained of its fighters had taken refuge west into the mountains after being decimated during the Tet Offensive a month before. And the few VC who had been visiting their families around My Lai, hardly ignorant of American movements, had gotten out by dawn on the 16th.

    • 50 Years After My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, Revisiting the Slaughter the U.S. Military Tried to Hide

      Fifty years ago, on March 16, 1968, U.S. soldiers attacked the Vietnamese village of My Lai. Even though the soldiers met no resistance, they slaughtered more than 500 Vietnamese women, children and old men over the next four hours, in what became known as the My Lai massacre. After the massacre, the U.S. military attempted to cover up what happened. But in 1969 a young reporter named Seymour Hersh would reveal a 26-year-old soldier named William Calley was being investigated for killing 109 Vietnamese civilians. Today, memorials have been held in My Lai to mark the 50th anniversary of this horrific attack.

    • Hamburg Islamist knife attacker gets life in prison

      His aim was to kill as many German Christians as possible to avenge the suffering of Muslims worldwide, they said.

    • Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan delivers anti-Semitic speech

      The Nation of Islam is a designated hate group [...]


      Rep. Keith Ellison faced scrutiny during his bid for Democratic National Committee chair over his past ties with the group, and a previous CNN review revealed the Minnesota Democrat had a decade-long involvement with NOI.

    • Pakistani court wants names, ages & family info of those who left Islam

      On Monday, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), ordered Pakistan’s Citizen Authority (NADRA) provide information on residents who reportedly changed their religion from Islam to Qadianism. Qadiani, or Ahmadi Muslims are believers of a minority Islamic sect considered heretical by other, mainstream, Muslims.


      Along with providing their names, the court also directed the citizen authority to provide their ages, international travel history, and their parents’ names. In 1974 the Pakistani constitution was amended to declare Ahmadis “non-Muslims.

    • Islamic scholar with 109,000 Twitter followers calls for those who leave Islam to be killed

      Ex-Muslim Ridvan Aydemir, writes: “Assim Alhakeem is a Saudi scholar who is ‘trying to enlighten people about Islam.’ He is quite influential on Twitter, YouTube, TV and his website. On February 24, he tweeted that apostates should be killed by Islamic law.” When he was challenged about this, “he confirmed it with more horrible words. When I retweeted it, he blocked me.”

    • How maulanas in Bangladesh use fatwas to oppress women

      The state religion of Bangladesh was still Islam. Even though passing a fatwa was illegal as per the laws of the country, it was allowed within the tenets of Islam. Islam has certain punishments specified for certain crimes. If someone commits adultery, they are to be stoned and if one is accused of something that is not Islamic, then they are to be caned a hundred and one times. In my country, fundamentalism was on the rise and the winds were blowing in their favour. As usual, women were the first to fall victim to the fatwas issued by fatwaphilic maulanas in villages across the country.

    • My husband got Imam to sleep with me for rituals – Wife tells court

      A divorce seeking wife, Musilimotu Olashuyi, on Wednesday told the Igando Customary Court in Lagos that her husband employed an Islamic preacher to have sex with her for money-making ritual.

    • The great immigration deceit

      When facing the migrant crisis in 2015, Merkel would surely have been aware of this sentiment in her own country. If she had any idea, then Merkel should have known that mass migration was not a viable long-term solution to account for low German birth rates. By fixing the root issues that are causing native Germans to have fewer children, Merkel would have been infinitely more successful in plugging the nation’s long-term demographic shortfall. Programs such a generous maternity leave, while expensive to implement, would largely negate any apparent ‘necessity’ for mass immigration from the third-world; and would avoid the litany of costs and threats to social cohesion that present themselves as a result.

    • Merkel Finally Acknowledges German “No-Go” Zones, Vows To Eliminate

      Following approval from Germany’s conservatives to cooperate with the Social Democrats (SPD) on several political impasses, German Chancellor Angela Merkel sat down with Germany’s RTL Aktuell where she discussed a number of policy positions – including an acknowledgement of Germany’s growing “no-go” zones, and the need to do something about them.

    • ‘Bury them alive!’: White South Africans fear for their future as horrific farm attacks escalate

      “South Africans have got this undying ability to believe in the bigger picture, and I’m talking about many blacks. There are lots of wonderful people of all colours that believe all of this stuff is wrong.

      “The question I would ask, given the rhetoric, is there a future for farming in South Africa? It’s not just about, is there a future for white farmers. It’s three times more dangerous to be a farmer than it is to be a policeman. It’s sad — it’s not what we want.”

    • Militia members accused of targeting Somalis to stand trial

      Months before the 2016 general election, members of a Kansas militia group that prosecutors say came to be known as the “the Crusaders” met in an office to pick the targets of bombings that they hoped would inspire a wave of attacks on Muslims throughout the U.S.

      In a business in the southwestern city of Liberal that sold mobile homes, the four men took precautions to avoid getting caught, putting their cellphones in a separate room and locking the door to prevent anyone from walking in on them. Three of them didn’t know that the fourth was wearing a wire as part of a federal investigation that would thwart their alleged plot.

      Authorities say that on the day after Election Day, they hoped to detonate four car bombs outside of a mosque and an apartment complex that was home to Somali refugees who had settled in the meatpacking town of Garden City, which is about 60 miles (95 kilometers) south of Liberal along the Oklahoma border.

    • First Recorded Successful Novichok Synthesis was in 2016 – By Iran, in Cooperation with the OPCW

      While Iran acted absolutely responsibly in cooperating with the OPCW, there are a handful of rogue states operating outwith the rule of international law, like Israel and North Korea, which refuse to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention, join the OPCW or destroy their chemical weapons stocks. Russia has cooperated in the OPCW destruction of all its chemical weapons stocks, completed last year, which included regular OPCW inspection of all the sites alleged to have been in the original “novichok” programme. Why nobody is even looking at the rogue states outwith the OPCW is a genuine puzzle.

    • Have We Learned Anything From My Lai?

      On March 16, 1968, 504 women, children and old men were shot at point-blank range by American soldiers over the course of a few hours in Son My village—407 were killed in the “My Lai 4” hamlet and another 97 were slaughtered in the hamlet known on U.S. military maps as “My Khe 4,” about a mile from My Lai. The soldiers’ mission: to “search and destroy.”


      Destruction of the civilian population from the air was routine, with non-combatants the intended targets of an unprecedented array of weaponry.

    • Vietnam Commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the My Lai Massacre

      The AP reports that, in one instance, a family was forced into a bomb shelter that U.S. soldiers then threw grenades into.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Adrian Lamo, computer hacker who turned in whistleblower, found dead

      Lamo was known in tech circles for his computer proficiency, which earned him a high degree of notoriety among hackers and security experts. He volunteered his security and website building skills to a number of services and companies in the mid-1990s and early 2000s before turning to mischief with his hacking of a New York Times database in 2002.

      The latter earned him a federal computer hacking conviction in 2003. He plead guilty and was sentenced to six months of probation, two years of supervised release and ordered to pay the newspaper company more than $60,000 in restitution. After his sentencing, Lamo served time in jail after refusing to allow the U.S. Marshals to collect his DNA — a standard practice for federal convicts, but one Lamo objected to on “religious grounds.”

    • Hacker who revealed Wikileaks source dead, Assange calls him ‘petty conman’

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on Friday described Lamo as a “petty conman and betrayer of basic human decency”.

    • Hacker Adrian Lamo who turned in Chelsea Manning for leaking classified government documents dies in unknown circumstances at the age of 37 as Wikileaks Julian Assange calls him ‘a conman’

      Kate Flavin, a spokeswoman for Sedgwick County’s regional forensic science center told Business Insider that an autopsy is being conducted and will determine the cause of death.

      Flavin also told the outlet that she was unsure when Lamo died or how his body was found.


      Lamo was well aware of his infamy telling US News last January that turning Manning in was not his ‘most honorable moment’ but he had made peace with his decision.

      ‘So many people think they know why I did what I did or what I was thinking or why I made my choice. And almost without exception they’re wrong,’ he said. ‘There’s essentially a public avatar that’s Adrian Lamo that they’re looking at, and then there’s me. And I can’t be upset about what they think of something that isn’t me.’

    • Decision shines new light on public officials’ emails

      Municipalities and government agencies are working to develop retention and retrieval policies and guidelines for public officials and employees who use private devices.

    • Adrian Lamo dead age 37: Wikileaks’ Assange blasts hacker behind Chelsea Manning capture

      The cause of Lamo’s death has not yet been made public, but a Sedgwick County coroner in Kansas, where Lamo lived, confirmed the news last night.

    • US hacker, who led to WikiLeaks whistleblower Manning’s arrest, dies

      Earlier, in a 2011 interview to The Guardian, Lamo had expressed some regrets about a possible lengthy prison sentence for Manning. He said he thought of Manning “every day”, adding: “The decision was not one I decided to make, but was thrust upon me.”

      Interestingly, Lamo’s hacking skills had also landed him in law enforcement authorities’ net for breaking into computers at the New York Times, Yahoo and Microsoft.

      Not to much surprise, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had disapproved of Lamo. On Friday, responding to Lamo’s news of death he wrote on Twitter, “Lamo, a fake journalist, petty conman & betrayer of basic human decency, promised alleged source @xychelsea journalistic protection, friendship and support, then sold him to the FBI.”

    • FBI to quiz Pamela Anderson over her visits to Julian Assange at London Embassy

      She made her name as a Playboy pin-up but now former Baywatch TV star Pamela Anderson could be forced to bare all to the FBI who want to quiz her about her friendship with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

      According to US website Radar Online, the 50-year-old faces a grilling over her visits to Assange who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012 after being accused in Sweden of rape and sexual assault by two women.

      Assange feared that if he went to Sweden to defend himself he would be extradited to America where he is wanted over Wikileaks’ releases of US military documents. Sweden dropped the sex charges last year.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • These provocative images show Russian [shills] sought to inflame debate over climate change, fracking and Dakota pipeline

      Russian [shills] used Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to inflame U.S. political debate over energy policy and climate change, a finding that underscores how the Russian campaign of social media manipulation went beyond the 2016 presidential election, congressional investigators reported Thursday.

      The new report from the House Science, Space and Technology Committee includes previously unreleased social media posts that Russians created on such contentious political issues as the Dakota Access pipeline, government efforts to curb global warming and hydraulic fracturing, a gas mining technique often called “fracking.”

    • Republican investigation links Russian [shills] to #NoDAPL movement

      A new report from the Republican majority staff on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology claims [shills] from Russia exploited the #NoDAPL movement in order to undermine America’s energy sector. The investigation uncovered posts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, showing an attempt at overseas influence.


      The social media posts cited in the report originated from accounts with names like “Native Americans United” and “Blacktivist.” The latter name has already been associated with Russian [astroturfer] farms by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, a former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who has indicted a Russian government agency and 13 Russians for meddling in American politics.

    • ‘SOS’: the rainforest distress call carved into Sumatra’s oil palms

      “Save Our Souls is a message communicated to those at a distance, a reminder of the connectedness we share with nature,” he says of the acronym. “As more of the forests are lost, we lose a little bit of ourselves in the process.”

    • Halal butchers who chanted and danced as they tortured animals walk free from court

      Hussain and Hussein received suspended prison sentences yesterday at Leeds Magistrates’ Court after admitting causing unnecessary suffering to animals. Abattoir boss William Woodward was jailed for 20 weeks.

  • Finance
    • Finns falling below poverty line due to transport costs

      Heikki Liimatainen, the head of Transport Research Centre Verne at Tampere University of Technology, is certain that transport costs have dragged people below the poverty threshold also in Finland.

    • America’s richest 2% made more money in 2017 than the cost of the entire safety net

      U.S. wealth increased by $8.5 trillion in 2017, with the richest 2% getting about $1.15 trillion (details here), which is more than the total cost of Medicaid (federal AND state) and the complete safety net, both mandatory and discretionary, including the low-income programs that make up the social support package derisively referred to as ‘welfare.’

    • Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem?

      It’s not only young voters who feel this way. A YouGov poll in 2015 found that 64% of Britons believe that capitalism is unfair, that it makes inequality worse. Even in the U.S., it’s as high as 55%. In Germany, a solid 77% are skeptical of capitalism. Meanwhile, a full three-quarters of people in major capitalist economies believe that big businesses are basically corrupt.

    • Big Telco hates “regulation,” but they love their billions in government handouts

      When it comes to killing Net Neutrality, Big Telco’s major talking point is that “government regulation” has no place in telcoms; but the reality is that the nation’s telecommunications providers are the recipients of regulatory gifts that run to $5B/year, and are expected to do very little in return for this corporate welfare.

    • This City Just Passed the First Bitcoin Mining Ban in the US

      Plattsburgh, New York has imposed an 18-month moratorium on Bitcoin mining to prevent miners from using all the city’s cheap electricity.

    • Spotify will go public on April 3

      The company will go public through an unorthodox direct listing, which doesn’t involve underwriters or require the company to sell any of its stock. Such a move is unusual for a company of Spotify’s size.

    • Adapt or die: How to cope when the bots take your job

      Reports that robots, automation and artificial intelligence are going to put millions of us out of work may sound troubling, but should we believe them? That largely depends on whether we’re technology optimists or pessimists. In our Future of Work series we look at how jobs might change in the future.

    • If You Ratify The CETA Trade Deal, You’ll Break The Law, Legal Expert Tells EU Member States

      It’s an interesting argument, which the European Commission will doubtless do its best to ignore in the hope that it can just steamroller CETA through the ratification process before the CJEU issues its ruling. However, if, as seems likely, CETA’s investment chapter is indeed ruled illegal by the top court, this will present a rather thorny problem for the EU. Given the other challenges it faces thanks to rising populism in many EU countries, the Commission could probably do without this kind of constitutional crisis that would undermine further people’s support for the European project. That might be a good reason for putting those ratifications on hold for a while.

    • How Toys R Us was doomed by a leveraged buyout and shortsighted strategy

      Toys R Us will go down as a cautionary tale in retail — an emblem of the dangers of leveraged buyouts and of strategic shortsightedness.

    • The Trump administration is a government of billionaires and their sycophants
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Meet the ‘Outrage Fairy’ Protecting You on the Internet

      Though the 2017 [sic] election underlined America’s vulnerability to cyberattacks and data theft, protecting the privacy of individuals, which she says is the first thing authoritarian regimes try to strip from their citizens, has always been her mission.

    • Trump Attorney: Porn Star Broke Nondisclosure Pact, Could Owe $20M

      The filing by attorney Michael Cohen seeks to move actress Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit from a state-level court to federal court in Los Angeles. It accuses Daniels of violating the agreement more than 20 times.

    • Andrew McCabe, ex-FBI deputy and Trump target, fired days before retiring

      Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director and a frequent target of Donald Trump, has been fired less than two days before he was due to retire.

    • The corporate media ignores the rise of oligarchy. The rest of us shouldn’t
    • Malice As #News

      The theme: fake news. Which, of course, has a strong Indian edition. The realisation is growing that, in the bruising online battles these days over politics, policies and personalities, with trench warriors raining poison arrows at each other, fake news has become a key weapon of the online arsenal. On March 8, Science published a paper by MIT rese­archers that proves fake news travels faster on Twitter, though many suspect it is more pervasive and travels fast enough on Facebook too.

    • The Vulture On The Wire

      There’s no escaping it. Being on social media is like stepping out in Delhi’s toxic winter smog—even if you’re trying to find good cheer, a vile murk defines the ambient mood. Trolls are everywhere, like suspen­ded particulate matter. You could post a picture of a lunch or of an outing with friends. Share an article on the party in power or an innocuous paper showing that coffee isn’t good for digestion. If you are visible or vocal on ­social media, you are fair game for these gremlins, and a special menu of malice, rage and harassment is reserved for you.

    • Situationer: Pakistan’s social media conundrum as election looms

      In the light of growing crackdown against social media activists in the country, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal had announced plans to formulate a framework to monitor social media in order to prevent it from being used as a tool to malign national institutions and spread anarchy or extremism.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Ten months later: People of Turkey still denied access to Wikipedia

      It has been ten months since the block of Wikipedia in Turkey. For almost a year, the 80 million people of Turkey have been denied access to information on topics ranging from medicine, to history, to current events on Wikipedia. After ten months, and in the midst of the school term, the need to restore access to Wikipedia in Turkey becomes more urgent every day.

    • Vigil for imprisoned writers in Saudi Arabia

      For more than three years, English PEN has been holding regular vigils outside the Saudi Embassy in London in support of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi and his lawyer Waleed Abulkhair whom we believe to be detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

    • Pakistan’s blasphemy laws persecute the weakest of the weak

      Pakistan’s blasphemy laws date back to the military dictatorship of Gen. Muhammad Zia ul Haq. In 1980, making a derogatory remark against any Islamic personage was defined as a crime under Pakistan’s Penal Code Section 295, punishable by three years in prison. In 1982, another clause was added that prescribed life imprisonment for “willful desecration of the Quran” and, in 1986, a separate clause was added to punish blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed with “death, or imprisonment for life.”

      Bibi’s case illustrates how blasphemy laws are used to persecute the weakest of the weak among Pakistan’s religious minorities. As a poor Christian from a low caste, Bibi was among the most vulnerable and susceptible to discrimination. And the legal system — which, in theory, should be designed to protect the innocent — failed her in every way

    • Has Pakistan’s top judge failed Asia Bibi?

      Asia Bibi, a 52-year-old Catholic mother of five, was a fruit picker from Sheikhupura, a town in Punjab. Her sentence is based on the allegation that she insulted the Prophet Mohammad during an argument with Muslim farm workers over a glass of water.

      She has pleaded innocent and challenged her conviction in the highest court after the Lahore High Court chose not to overturn the earlier ruling.

      However, her appeal has been pending in the Supreme Court since November 2014.

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

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

      What’s worse, Voss apparently didn’t author this draft: according to the Word metadata in the document, it was authored by an unelected European Commission bureaucrat who has previously advocated for the filters.

    • Why we must have the right to call Allah gay

      In Britain in the 21st century you can be punished for mocking gods. You can be expelled from the kingdom, frozen out, if you dare to diss Allah. Perversely adopting medieval Islamic blasphemy laws, modern Britain has made it clear that it will tolerate no individual who says scurrilous or reviling things about the Islamic god or prophet. Witness the authorities’ refusal to grant entrance to the nation to the alt-right Christian YouTuber Lauren Southern. Her crime? She once distributed a leaflet in Luton with the words ‘Allah is gay, Allah is trans, Allah is lesbian…’, and according to the letter she received from the Home Office informing her of her ban from Britain, such behaviour poses a ‘threat to the fundamental interests of [British] society’.

    • Sadiq Khan wants tech firms to do more to tackle hate speech
    • Exclusive: Activist Lauri Love Speaks Out After Twitter Suspension

      The activism community was shocked recently by the news that Twitter had permanently suspended UK-based activist, Lauri Love. Love recently won a landmark case in a drawn-out legal battle against extradition to the United States. Following the suspension, human rights activists commenced calls for Love’s account to be reinstated immediately, to no avail at the time of writing.

      Last month, UK Judges ruled against the United States’ effort to extradite Love to the US, on the grounds that extraditing him would be: “Oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition.” The finding is likely to have an ongoing effect, possibly setting legal precedent for future extradition cases. wrote of the importance of the finding: “Love was facing criminal allegations in the United States despite never having visited the country, and he also had significant mental health issues that could deteriorate considerably if he were extradited… The High Court’s ruling on Lauri Love’s case yesterday provides welcome relief and hope to UK extradition lawyers and campaigners. ”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Cambridge Analytica Took 50M Facebook Users’ Data—And Both Companies Owe Answers

      And yet, following Facebook’s announcement Friday night, sources close to Cambridge confirmed to WIRED that this data was still accessible as recently as last year. According to one source, a trove of Facebook users’ personal data was visible on Cambridge’s internal databases in 2017, despite SCL’s current denial and past promises to both Cambridge employees and Facebook that it had all been deleted in 2015. The data included Facebook IDs, and responses to personality surveys that had been administered by Kogan in 2015. Another source close to the company recalled seeing a database called “Kogan-import” in Cambridge’s system, which was only visible to a small number of staffers in data science, engineering, and IT. The source says the database was tightly controlled in terms of who could edit or delete it.

    • How Cambridge Analytica turned Facebook ‘likes’ into a lucrative political tool

      The algorithm used in the Facebook data breach trawled though personal data for information on sexual orientation, race, gender – and even intelligence and childhood trauma

    • Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach

      The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump’s election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in one of the tech giant’s biggest ever data breaches, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.

      A whistleblower has revealed to the Observer how Cambridge Analytica – a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon – used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements.

      Christopher Wylie, who worked with a Cambridge University academic to obtain the data, told the Observer: “We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.”

      Documents seen by the Observer, and confirmed by a Facebook statement, show that by late 2015 the company had found out that information had been harvested on an unprecedented scale. However, at the time it failed to alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the private information of more than 50 million individuals.

    • ‘They’ll squash you like a bug’: how Silicon Valley keeps a lid on leakers

      The interrogation was a technicality; they already knew he was guilty of leaking some innocuous information to the press. They had records of a screenshot he’d taken, links he had clicked or hovered over, and they strongly indicated they had accessed chats between him and the journalist, dating back to before he joined the company.

    • Judge eases feds’ case against NSA hoarder

      A federal judge handed prosecutors a significant win this week over a computer specialist accused of stealing a massive quantity of classified documents and data during two decades working at the National Security Agency and other agencies.

      U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis suggested last month that he might require prosecutors to prove that the contractor formerly assigned to an elite NSA hacking unit, Harold Martin, knew he had the 20 specific documents listed in a 20-count indictment accusing him of illegally retaining national security information at his Maryland home.

    • Selling you out: Mass public surveillance for corporate gain

      Private companies have built businesses around the concept of creating huge databases of aggregated data collected through mass public surveillance. This is a form of “surveillance capitalism” where the focus is on monetizing new forms of data extraction rather than creating goods. The money is made, in large part, through charging a fee to federal, state, and local law enforcement to have access to the data and analytical tools to analyze all the information collected by these companies.

    • Facebook brings ‘Lite’ version to U.S.
    • Facebook Lite is coming to Canada, Australia, the UK and US
    • Facebook Lite to launch in developed countries, including U.S
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • After the niqab: what life is like for French women who remove the veil

      Testimonies of those who’ve chosen to “leave the niqab behind” are rare. The number of women who have adopted it is extremely low, and the ones who then choose to renounce it must often sever their old relationships and adopt what is in many ways a new identity – they change their e-mail addresses, phone numbers and move on completely. For them the full-length veil has become something firmly in the past, representative of a transitional stage in their lives.

    • China will ban people with poor ‘social credit’ from planes and trains

      Starting in May, Chinese citizens who rank low on the country’s burgeoning “social credit” system will be in danger of being banned from buying plane or train tickets for up to a year, according to statements recently released by the country’s National Development and Reform Commission.

      With the social credit system, the Chinese government rates citizens based on things like criminal behavior and financial misdeeds, but also on what they buy, say, and do. Those with low “scores” have to deal with penalties and restrictions. China has been working towards rolling out a full version of the system by 2020, but some early versions of it are already in place.

    • Journalists say arrest of Ottawa reporter is abnormal, unacceptable

      The Crown has not yet decided if charges will proceed.

    • Uber accused of silencing women who claim sexual assault by drivers

      Court records in a California class-action lawsuit revealed that the ride-sharing firm has argued that female passengers who speak up about being raped in an Uber must individually settle their cases through arbitration, a private process that often results in confidentiality agreements.

    • “Clock boy” family loses racism lawsuit against city, school, and police

      Police and school defeat lawsuit over boy who was accused of building hoax bomb.

    • Facebook suspends Trump-linked firm Cambridge Analytica

      Facebook Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Paul Grewal wrote in a post Friday night that the decision was made after reports that the firm did not fully delete data given to them by a University of Cambridge professor in violation of Facebook policies.

    • Facebook suspended Donald Trump’s data operations team for misusing people’s personal information

      Facebook said late Friday that it had suspended Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), along with its political data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, for violating its policies around data collection and retention. The companies, which ran data operations for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign, are widely credited with helping Trump more effectively target voters on Facebook than his rival, Hillary Clinton. While the exact nature of their role remains somewhat mysterious, Facebook’s disclosure suggests that the company improperly obtained user data that could have given it an unfair advantage in reaching voters.

      Facebook said it cannot determine whether or how the data in question could have been used in conjunction with election ad campaigns. Cambridge Analytica did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    • Perspective | I went to prison for disclosing the CIA’s torture. Gina Haspel helped cover it up.
    • Richard Spencer says that antifa sucked all the fun out of college appearances, calls it quits

      Elements of the left say that antifa tactics — direct, physical confrontations with fascists and racists — are a “gift to the alt-right,” letting them play victim and validating their paranoid fantasies about the persecution of white dudes — but punched Nazi Richard Spencer says that antifa tactics have worked as intended, making it impossible for him to continue his on-campus recruitment tour for his forthcoming race-war.

      Spencer’s admission of antifa’s victory was part of a long, dull Youtube video he posted last Sunday, in which he announced the premature end of his “college tour,” because “When they become violent clashes and pitched battles, they aren’t fun,” adding, “Antifa is winning to the extent that they’re willing to go further than anyone else, in the sense that they will do things in terms of just violence, intimidating, and general nastiness.”

    • Enough of the shameful kowtowing to the Saudis

      Remember Raif Badawi? He is the blogger who was sentenced in 2012 to 10 years in jail, and 1,000 lashes, for daring to advocate respect for human rights, secularism and democracy in his native Saudi Arabia. When he received a first batch of 50 lashes in a public square in Jeddah in 2015 it nearly killed him. An international outcry ensued. Since then, Badawi has not been flogged again. But he remains in jail.

    • Indonesian Christians whipped over sharia-banned child’s play

      Two Indonesian Christians were publicly flogged in conservative Aceh province Feb. 27 for playing a children’s entertainment game seen as violating Islamic law, as hundreds of onlookers ridiculed them and took pictures.

    • Why Indonesia’s Christian Diaspora Fears Going Home

      The three men’s immigration claims have shone a light on the worsening religious intolerance endured by religious minorities in Muslim-majority Indonesia. Indonesia has long been seen as a religiously moderate country and has an official national motto of ‘unity in diversity’. But over the past two decades a combination of discriminatory laws and growing intolerance from some Sunni Muslims has resulted in harassment, intimidation and violence against religious minorities. Successive Indonesian governments have failed to confront this intolerance, which has only emboldened those who victimise religious minorities.

    • El Salvador’s Gangs Are Targeting Young Girls

      While a majority of El Salvador’s homicide victims are young men from poor urban areas, the gangs’ practice of explicitly targeting girls for sexual violence or coerced relationships is well known. Since 2000, the homicide rate for young women in El Salvador has also increased sharply, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization. To refuse the gangs’ demands can mean death for girls and their families.

    • Oklahoma To Experiment With Nitrogen Gas In Executions

      Oklahoma will execute prisoners using an experimental method never before attempted anywhere in the world: nitrogen hypoxia.

      Mike Hunter, the state’s attorney general, and Joe M. Allbaugh, the director of the department of corrections, announced Oklahoma will asphyxiate prisoners by locking them in a chamber that will fill with a physiologically inert gas, such as nitrogen. Such gases are not toxic but instead deplete blood oxygen levels.

      The method has never been tested, but those who support the method contend it is “more humane” than lethal injection. They point to support among advocates of voluntary euthanasia and its use in some food production processes to kill animals.

      Death penalty abolitionists, on the other hand, believe capital punishment can never be humane or just, regardless of the method. They maintain the death penalty is disproportionately used against black and poor people. It does not deter crime. People who are innocent or too mentally ill to understand their punishment are often put to death.

    • Power and the divine: self-repression in Egypt

      Focusing on the afterlife, the rewards of heaven for the just and hell for the unjust, keeps the masses in check and accepting of their social reality. This needs to change.

    • ‘Queen bee syndrome’ at workplace getting worse: study

      “Queen bee syndrome” – the phenomenon of women discriminating against other female coworkers as they rise in seniority – may be getting worse, a study has found.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Entire broadband industry will help FCC defend net neutrality repeal

      Yesterday, three trade groups that collectively represent every major home Internet and mobile broadband provider in the US filed motions to intervene in the case on behalf of the FCC. The motions for leave to intervene were filed by NCTA–The Internet & Television Association, CTIA–The Wireless Association, and USTelecom–The Broadband Association. (Yes, those are the organizations’ correct names.)

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • MPAA Brands 123Movies as the World’s Most Popular Illegal Site

        The MPAA is visiting Vietnam to discuss with local authorities how they can properly deal with movie piracy sites. One target that was singled out is 123movies, a streaming site that is said to be operated from Vietnam. According to the movie industry group, it is “the most popular illegal site in the world.”

      • ‘Dutch Pirate Bay Blocking Case Should Get a Do-Over’

        In the legal battle over the legality of the Dutch Pirate Bay blockade, Advocate General Van Peursem has advised the Supreme Court to throw out the previous order and do the case all over again. Citing recent EU jurisprudence, the Attorney General suggests that the previous freedom of entrepreneurship and information defenses are less likely to survive a do-over.

TXED Courts Are Causing Businesses to Leave the District, Notably For Fear That Having Any Operations Based There is a Legal Liability

Sunday 18th of March 2018 06:21:08 AM

Reference: Courts of Texas

Summary: A discussion about the infamous abundance of patent cases in the Eastern District of Texas (TXED/EDTX) and what this will mean for businesses that have branches or any form of operations there (making them subjected to lawsuits in that district even after TC Heartland)

THE Eastern District of Texas (TXED/EDTX) has been getting a bad name. It’s now nationally recognised (if not internationally renowned/notorious) for fostering patent trolls. They typically use software patents granted by the USPTO and they enjoy courts whose attitude is plaintiff-friendly and tolerant/accepting of software patents in spite of Alice. After TC Heartland, however, it became a lot harder to drag companies into these courts.

“Ironically, for Eastern Texas at least, this whole gamble on the ‘litigation’ industry may, from now on, actively discourage companies from coming and encourage those which have an office there to leave that district.”The other day Watchtroll recalled a “complaint filed by SimpleAir in the Eastern District of Texas. The Federal Circuit reversed and remanded the lower court’s decision” (as usual).

It also recalled Portal Communications [1, 2], an EDTX case in which Apple is accused of patent infringement by a de facto troll (someone’s ‘monetisation’ shell). There’s also this new update on the case of an old patent troll called VirnetX. In VirnetX Inc. et al v Apple Inc. (Eastern Texas again) there was an attempt to deny Apple a right to defense:

The court denied plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment that the redesigned version of defendant’s adjudicated product infringed its network security patents because there were genuine disputes of material fact which precluded a finding of collateral estoppel.

It’s pretty clear that in spite of TC Heartland, which caused new filings in EDTX to collapse, there is still an issue. Apart from ongoing cases, there’s still the prospect of filing new lawsuits there provided the accused party has some operations there. Ironically, for Eastern Texas at least, this whole gamble on the ‘litigation’ industry may, from now on, actively discourage companies from coming and encourage those which have an office there to leave that district. We gave one example of that a week ago. Karma in action? Unemployment crisis looming?

PTAB Hatred is So Intense Among the Patent ‘Industry’ That Even Scammers Are Hailed as Champions If They Target PTAB

Sunday 18th of March 2018 05:23:05 AM

Summary: The patent microcosm is so eager to stop the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that it’s supporting sham deals (or “scams”) and exploits/distorts the voice of the new USPTO Director to come up with PTAB-hostile catchphrases

THE patent reform in the United States is very real; it’s effective. The USPTO makes it a lot harder to pursue software patents (unless they’re disguised as something different — a subject we shall cover and tackle separately).

An anti-PTAB site of the patent microcosm currently tries to frame PTAB’s opposition as “[p]harmaceutical patent owners”, but in reality it’s just greedy law firms that oppose PTAB. It mentioned PTAB’s Chief Judge Ruschke the other day after he had once again responded to critics.

Likely in response to these concerns, Chief Judge Ruschke announced the results of an Orange Book-listed Patent Study during his “Chat with the Chief” on March 13, 2018. The meeting presentation slides can be found here. During the chat, the Chief Judge also revealed the results of an expanded panel study, which we will analyze in a future post. For the Orange Book study, the PTAB classified a petition as challenging an Orange Book-listed patent if, unsurprisingly, the patent was listed in the Orange Book when the petition was filed. The data provided was through the end of the fiscal year 2017, which ended on September 31, 2017. We will look at three of the questions asked by the Office in this study.

The author, Andrew Williams, concluded as follows: “In any event, this study by the Patent Office is certainly interesting. It does go a long way to allaying the fears of NDA holders. Nevertheless, considering that an IPR is a lose-or-draw proposition for any patent holder, and that Orange Book-listed patents are so valuable to NDA holders, this may come as little comfort to the community. Instead, anything that disrupts the balance struck by Hatch-Waxman is not going to be seen as favorable, no matter how the actual numbers have been borne out.”

The patent microcosm is attempting to guard an old (antiquated and collectively undesirable) status quo — one in which patent trolls thrived, software patents had legal ‘teeth’, and lawsuits were abundant. IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby, continues to amplify if not promote scammers and then appeals to SCOTUS for help. The author of this new piece is a patent extremist with a long history of promoting trolls and software patents.

“The USPTO is not a for-profit organisation. It exists to service those entitled to some protection in exchange for publication.”Unfortunately we have gotten used to it. All we have here is IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby, which attacks PTAB and attempts to influence/incite Justices against IPRs. IAM is toxic, but it enjoys free speech rights (even if that speech is funded by nefarious elements).

With the context being a recent IAM 'interview' (more like PTAB bashing, or an IAM piece using Andrei Iancu to smear PTAB), we at least know who orchestrates much of the propaganda. The CCIA responded the other day as follows:

Director Andrei Iancu has been making the rounds since his confirmation. In a recent interview, he suggested that “[t]here is, for sure, a perception problem in the IP community with the PTAB” and that “when you have a perception problem you have a real problem in the sense that if the IP community loses faith in what you do then it loses faith in the reliability of the system.”

Director Iancu is right. When you have a perception problem, that can create an actual problem. But instead of looking to the IP community, which has far more widely varying views than the interview gives credence to, I’d look at the Patent Office to see the real impacts.


The post-grant proceedings created by the AIA—post grant review, inter partes review, and covered business method—were designed to allow the Patent Office to correct its own errors when it issues a patent that never should have issued. Part of this process is allowing interested parties to locate prior art the examiner never located.

But part of the process is allowing parties to correct errors made by the examiner in the art they did find. Examiners miss things when they search, but they also miss things once they’ve found a reference. That’s exactly why 325(d) says that the PTAB “may take into account” if the prior art was previously at the office.

Not “must take into account” or “can’t institute”, but “may take into account.” The statute itself recognizes that sometimes examiners misunderstand or misapply art.

Well, the Patent Office (USPTO) would be wise to listen to actual companies rather than law firms. At the moment the impression we are getting is that the USPTO’s reputation is improving. If Iancu wants to be remembered positively, he’ll maintain the positive elements and reject those who pursue patents just for the sake of having more patents or making more money from the patent-granting process. The USPTO is not a for-profit organisation. It exists to service those entitled to some protection in exchange for publication.

The Patent ‘Industry’ is Increasingly Mocking CAFC and Its Judges Because It Doesn’t Like the Decisions

Sunday 18th of March 2018 04:44:28 AM

Latching onto cases like Berkheimer when it suits them, otherwise ridiculing judges and urging them to step down

Reference: “Why court-bashing is out of control.”

Summary: Judgmental patent maximalists are still respecting high courts only when it suits them; whenever the outcome is not desirable they’re willing to attack the legitimacy of the courts and the competence of judges, even resorting to racist ad hominem attacks if necessary

LAST year the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) almost always rejected software patents that had been granted by the USPTO. Those granted patents were bogus. They should never have been granted in the first place.

“No matter the number of debunkings, they’ll continues to ‘namedrop’ these cases and attempt to give an impression that software patents are still worth pursuing. They’re not.”Earlier this year there were a few CAFC decisions (such as Berkheimer [1, 2] and others) that were intentionally warped and wrongly interpreted as resurgence of software patents. We already wrote more than a dozen rebuttals to these and would spare ourselves the need to do so again. Unfortunately, sites like Watchtroll continue to push these lies/misinterpretations; they also act like a ‘proper’ lobby group with headlines like “Law Professors Urge CAFC to Uphold Cleveland Clinic Diagnostic Method Patents”.

Knobbe Martens’ Jeremy Anapol also wrote about CAFC the other day, recalling these misinterpreted case:

The first case was Berkheimer v. HP Inc. and the second was Aatrix Software v. Green Shades Software.

No matter the number of debunkings, they’ll continues to ‘namedrop’ these cases and attempt to give an impression that software patents are still worth pursuing. They’re not. 35 U.S.C. § 101 is pretty clear about that.

“We have already seen judges from CAFC coming under attacks by the likes of Watchtroll and Crouch.”Regarding 35 U.S.C. § 112, this “Guest Post” by Gary M. Fox from the University of Michigan Law School deals with CAFC. It was hosted by Dennis Crouch, who himself also wrote about § 112 (a short time apart) in relation to Capital Security Systems, Inc. v NCR Corp.

We have already seen judges from CAFC coming under attacks by the likes of Watchtroll and Crouch. They’re not happy with the more restrictive approach towards patents. A few days ago Managing IP gave a platform to a patent maximalist who called it “CAFC’s evolving approach on patent eligibility,” saying that he “[d]escribes court’s approach now as a “touch and feel analysis”. Does something feel new?”

No, nothing new here. Patent zealots who make a living out of patents just carry on bashing not only PTAB but also ‘proper’ courts like CAFC, which support PTAB the vast majority of the time.

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Carries on Enforcing § 101, Invalidating Software Patents and Upsetting the Patent ‘Industry’ in the Process

Sunday 18th of March 2018 04:00:49 AM

Latest in Oil States Energy Services, LLC v Greene’s Energy Group, LLC

Summary: A quick report on where PTAB stands at the moment, some time ahead of the Oil States decision (soon to come from the US Supreme Court)

THE past 4 years have been historic; the US Supreme Court decided on Alice nearly 4 years ago and AIA had already come into effect, adding a sort of supervisory role for USPTO examiners. They were no longer able to issue patents with quite the same leeway (which they got accustomed to). With Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) at PTAB we nowadays see a rise in activity whose net effect is reduction — not inflation — of patenting. Common sense would say that’s a Good Thing™, but for those who made a living from patent maximalism this is actually a nightmare. It forces them to make cuts.

A week ago the Financial Times (FT) said (behind paywall) that “patent “reform” during the Obama administration arguably went too far”. Remember that FT is paid by patent maximalists and trolls boosters like Battistelli. It also occasionally promotes UPC, bashes patent reform, and bashes PTAB etc. We gave many examples of that before.

Truth be said, not everyone is happy, but we need to study the motivation for that disdain and spot the pattern. It’s almost always the case that PTAB bashing comes from the litigation ‘industry’; PTAB helps reduce litigation, settling issues before they reach the court and typically by invalidating patents that would be a waste of courts’ time.

Here’s IAM, the patent troll’s lobby, with its latest attempt at PTAB bashing:

Patents in the biotechnology and organic chemistry, computer architecture, and e-commerce spaces are much more likely to survive the IPR process than those in other technology areas, new research has revealed. Semiconductor patents, on the other hand, fare the worst. What’s more, universities and small entities have a lower rate of success when compared to others.

Well noted the other day was the argument that “IPRs are more complete compared to litigation”. To quote the relevant paragraph in its entirety:

For example, they argue that IPRs are more complete compared to litigation, because litigation has selection effects both in what gets litigated and in settlement post-litigation. But IPRs suffer from the same problem. Notwithstanding some differences, there’s a high degree of matching between IPRs and litigation, and many petitions settle both before and after institution.

Anticipat, which is attempting to make a business out of PTAB hatred, keeps suggesting new ways to work around it [1, 2] and the other way suggested a way to compel PTAB to tolerate software patents. To quote:

In a recent decision, Ex parte Jang (March 1, 2018) (available at, the Board reversed an Examiner’s Section 101 rejection. In so doing, the Board panel found that the claimed software invention was not directed to an abstract idea under step 1 of the Alice/Mayo framework. Interestingly, the Board analogized to a Federal Circuit decision that had been decided not six weeks prior.

We wrote about this before. What they neglect to say is, this isn’t an IPR and it doesn’t quite concern software. On another day they alluded to Section 103 and said: “It may be discouraging to an applicant to appeal all the way to a final decision only to see the rejection(s) be affirmed. The process can take years. Fortunately, there is a procedure that allows for such a decision to be reviewed by the same panel: request for rehearing. This procedure is at times successful, perhaps counter-intuitively.”

Then they jump back to Section 101 again: “As we have reported about a Section 101 rehearing getting granted, because of the makeup of the panel being the same as the original decision, intuition would suggest that these requests never get granted. However, they do happen. Plus there are no government fees to file a request for rehearing. So it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to add on a few more months to pursue this procedure, especially after going all the way to the final decision.”

Anticipat likes to cherry-pick and highlight exceptional cases to get across an impression which is misleading. In practice, under the criteria found in Section 101, software patents almost invariantly perish.

Unified Patents, according to its latest update, has once again demonstrated that the patent troll Dominion Harbor has worthless patents and it’s losing them one by one. The latest:

On March 16, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial in an IPR filed by Unified against U.S. Patent 6,014,089 owned and asserted by First Class Monitoring, LLC, a Dominion Harbor subsidiary and a well-known NPE. The ’089 patent, directed to transmitting data via conventional SMS messages over a control channel of a personal communications system transmission protocol, has been asserted against various financial services companies such as Citigroup, Bank of America, USAA, JP Morgan, and PNC.

We are going to remain vigilant in the face of PTAB bashing. There’s an important decision coming soon (Oil States) and although we strongly doubt it’s going to change anything, one must never be too complacent/nonchalant. Just because software patents are in their deathbed at the moment (with enforcement via PTAB) doesn’t mean it will always remain that way.

Luxembourg Can Become a Hub of Patent Trolls If the EPO Carries on With Its ‘Reforms’, Even Without the UPC

Saturday 17th of March 2018 03:47:41 PM

The EPO has elevated Luxembourg to a sort of Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) status in recent years

Summary: With or without the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which is the wet dream of patent trolls and their legal representatives, the EPO’s terrible policies have landed a lot of low-quality patents on the hands of patent trolls (many of which operate through city-states that exist for tax evasion — a fiscal environment ripe for shells)

THE EPO has said absolutely nothing about the UPC for a long time, except indirectly. Almost 2 months! The EPO no longer wants to look foolish by speaking about something which it knows will never materialise. Even the PR/communications people no longer mention the UPC. Sometimes we feel/think that the EPO’s PR people know that their time there might be running out or is very limited, so they just pretend that things are rosy, in order to collect more salaries and build up savings before the Office implodes.

“Sometimes we feel/think that the EPO’s PR people know that their time there might be running out or is very limited, so they just pretend that things are rosy, in order to collect more salaries and build up savings before the Office implodes.”The same goes for Team UPC; at this stage these people are just lying to themselves and to one another. It’s worrying to watch. The same goes for US law firms whenever they speak about Alice.

Team UPC’s (or Bristows’) Richard Pinckney continues to prop up the bogus narrative of UPC opposition coming from the far right (e.g. AfD) — something which British patent maximalism sites such as IAM also attempted when an MP from UKIP did the same in the UK. They basically overlook many of the real barriers in the UK and Germany and nowadays obsess over news from Luxembourg (as seen earlier this month and last year) with its minuscule number of European Patents but unique role in the UPC (Luxembourg’s role in EPO and UPC was explained here before). Luxembourg is also where some shells and patent trolls register. Yesterday we saw this new article from Luxembourg (in English, based on another report which wasn’t in English). To quote:

The electronic archives of the European Patent Office are to be housed in Luxembourg, using the same model of the Estonian e-embassy, according to our sister publication Paperjam.


In 2017, Luxembourg signed an agreement to establish Estonia’s first “data embassy” in the grand duchy in early 2018, with Estonia allocating €2.2 million for a five-year rental agreement.

The virtual embassy is located in a data centre in Betzdorf and will be operated by the Luxembourg government’s centre for information and technology (CTIE). The same data centre is used by the European Commission and Nato, among others.

With the exception of few in Luxembourg [1, 2], the political establishment there likes it. A lot of cash is derived over there from rather dodgy operations (tax evasion being the more notorious among them).

Meanwhile, based on yesterday’s report from IP Watch, the EU Council ignores the fact that the EPO’s actions under Battistelli are a boon to patent trolls. It’s like this council works for law firms, not real companies, or for countries such as Belgium and Luxembourg rather than Europe as a whole. To quote:

A coalition of companies holding patents in Europe has welcomed conclusions released this week by the Council of the European Union on tougher enforcement of intellectual property rights. But the group raised concern that the conclusions failed to recognise the steady rise in the EU of patent-assertion entities, or patent trolls.

The European Council of ministers on 12 March adopted a set of conclusions on the enforcement of intellectual property rights in the European Union, aimed at improving protection in the digital era and promoting innovation (IPW, Europe, 12 March 2018). This includes a list of suggested actions, including possible changes to national laws and judicial systems, bolstering customs, agreements with industry, encouraging open source, strong representation at the World Intellectual Property Organization, and possibly setting up an IP watch list reminiscent of the one in the United States.


The recent ground breaking report by Darts-ip, the world’s leading authority in intellectual property case law data, demonstrates that Europe’s innovation ecosystem and Europe’s operating companies are under increasing attack from Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), also commonly known as “non-practising entities” (NPEs) or “patent trolls.” There has been a 20% year-on-year jump in PAE litigation. US-based PAEs initiated most of those suits (60%) and targeted applications of information and communication technologies (ICT) (75%). As application of ICT is central to innovation and growth across many industries, the consequences of these attacks will be far-reaching. Most importantly, data shows that it is not just large companies who are affected — almost a quarter of the unique defendants are European SMEs. Germany is the preferred venue, with 20% of all German patent litigation having been brought by PAEs.

They’re citing this recent study [1, 2], which Bristows and the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) keep publicly attacking. They even attack people who have the 'courage' to cite this study.

The Patent ‘Printing Machine’ of the EPO Will Spawn Many Lawsuits and Extortions (Threats of Lawsuits), in Effect Taxing Europe

Saturday 17th of March 2018 02:56:32 PM

The EPO is flooding the market with bad patents that should never have been granted (or ‘printed’), in essence making it a parasite rather than a public service to Europe

Reference: Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Summary: The money-obsessed, money-printing patent office, where the assembly line mentality has been adopted and patent-printing management is in charge, is devaluing or diluting the pool of European Patents, more so with restrictions (monetary barriers) to challenging bad patents

A FEW months ago EPO staff complained that the bosses treat the Office not like a patent office (which needs to be careful and selective in granting monopolies) but like a cash cow or investment bank that’s now essentially printing patents like some shady central banks print money. The USPTO now better understands the importance of scarcity in patents (expect grants to decline this year); people whom I speak to (professors nearby) joke about how rubbish (low-quality) patents they managed to sneak into the US. Even patents on purely fictional things.

“It’s another very considerable increase (not the first) that can discourage appeals, whereas applications got cheaper so as to help Battistelli game the numbers (after they declined).”We assume that pretty much everyone at the EPO (except Team Battistelli) would agree that patent quality is declining at the Office, which now strives only to enrich itself (at least in the short term) rather than deal with proper patent examination. Staff that does not agree gets punished.

Yesterday we saw this new article from Sanam Habib and Hazel Ford of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP (Finnegan for short). Finnegan and IAM work together towards patent maximalism; they’re patent maximalists, so surely they see nothing wrong with the EPO’s approach. More litigation is something they would profit from. This means that they would rather deal with bad patents in the courtrooms, not at the Office.

We recently wrote about an increase from €1880 to €2255 for appeals. It’s another very considerable increase (not the first) that can discourage appeals, whereas applications got cheaper so as to help Battistelli game the numbers (after they declined). It echoes a similar move in the US, which very recently adapted fee hikes for IPRs at PTAB (the number of filings still increases nonetheless, as we noted a few days ago).

The changes are due in 2 weeks and here is what Finnegan wrote:

The EPO has announced a number of changes in its official fees, mostly having effect from 1 April 2018. The majority of the fees remain unchanged; however, Applicants will see a mixture of increases and decreases amongst the selected changes. Some of the more important changes are reviewed below.


As of 1 April 2018, the EPO’s appeal fee will increase from €1,880 to €2,255 for larger companies. However, the current, lower fee amount will still apply if the appeal is filed by an individual, small or medium sized enterprise, university, public research organisation, or non-profit organisation.

The other article spoke about paying in advance (also “with effect from 1 April 2018″):

As part of the maintenance of pending European patent applications, annual renewal fees are charged by the EPO. These fees are due at the end of the month containing the anniversary of the filing date. The first fee to be paid is the third year renewal fee, due at the end of the month containing the second anniversary of the filing date.

Since 2009, the EPO has not permitted renewal fees to be paid more than three months before the due date. Payments made earlier are not valid and will be refunded by the EPO, except when paid shortly before the permissible prepayment period. For Euro-PCT applications, it has therefore been common for the third year renewal fee payment window to open after the 31 month time limit for entering the European regional phase. This restriction is applied by the EPO to prevent Applicants from making multiple payments in advance thereby avoiding future increases in fees.

However, with effect from 1 April 2018, the payment window for the third year renewal fee is being extended. It will now be possible for Applicants to pay the third year renewal fee up to six months before it falls due. This change means that, in most cases, Applicants will now have the opportunity to pay the third year renewal fee at the same time they bring a PCT application into the regional phase in the EPO.

This must be some sort of a joke, not just because it’s effective from April first. Finnegan and firms like it must be pleased because it helps the EPO’s management pretend that it’s doing well financially (borrowing from the future) while making its staff redundant and passing billions in damages to the public (defendants and lawyers’ billing).

“…the management of the EPO commits institutional suicide; it makes patents cheaper while making examinations a lot poorer (in terms of quality) and makes appeals a lot more expensive in order to leave bogus patents in tact, in effect masking the effect of quality declines.”Battistelli is passing the cost to the public by allowing mass-granting of patents in error. Where is the uproar? Basically, litigation like this would be a tax on everyone; sometimes threats of litigation alone (the modus operandi of patent trolls).

In our view (which is shared among many EPO employees), the management of the EPO commits institutional suicide; it makes patents cheaper while making examinations a lot poorer (in terms of quality) and makes appeals a lot more expensive in order to leave bogus patents in tact, in effect masking the effect of quality declines.

Links 17/3/2018: Varnish 6, Wine 3.4

Saturday 17th of March 2018 05:37:03 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Linux Beats Windows To Become The Most Popular Development Platform: Stack Overflow Survey 2018

    Every year, Stack Overflow conducts its developer survey and shares its results with the public for analysis. Expanding its reach, this year over 100,000 developers took part in the 30-minute survey and told how they learn new technologies, which tools they use to get their work done, and what they look for while hunting some job.

    Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing the different findings of the survey with you and telling you how it compares to the past years’ trends. Today, I’ll be telling you about the platforms that were most commonly used by the developers over the past year.

  • Best Linux distros for small businesses in 2018

    Running a small business is no easy task. The last thing you need is extra complexity in your IT infrastructure – so why turn to Linux?

    Well, it could (if you’re lucky) actually turn out to be a less complex choice for many tasks, depending on the distribution you select. And, critically, Linux is free; at least if you don’t figure in support costs. That’s an overhead ticked off the list.

  • Server
    • Container Isolation Gone Wrong

      One of the main advantages of embracing containers is “lightweight virtualization.” Since each container is just a thin layer around the containerized processes, the user gains enormous efficiencies, for example by increasing the container density per host, or by spinning containers up and down at a very fast pace.

      However, as the troubleshooting story in the article will show, this lightweight virtualization comes at the cost of sharing the underlying kernel among all containers, and in some circumstances, this can lead to surprising and undesirable effects that container users typically don’t think about.

      This troubleshooting tale is rather involved. I’ve started from the basics and worked up to the more complex material in the hope that readers at all levels can get value out of it.

    • Varnish 6.0 Released

      It’s that time of March again, and Varnish 6.0.0 is here.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Foundation
      • Linux Foundation unveils open source hypervisor for IoT products

        The Linux Foundation recently unveiled ACRN (pronounced “acorn”), a new open source embedded reference hypervisor project that aims to make it easier for enterprise leaders to build an Internet of Things (IoT)-specific hypervisor.

        The project, further detailed in a press release, could help fast track enterprise IoT projects by giving developers a readily-available option for such an embedded hypervisor. It will also provide a reference framework for building a hypervisor that prioritizes real-time data and workload security in IoT projects, the release said.

      • ONAP Set to Speed Standards, Network Automation [Ed: "This article was sponsored by Huawei and written by" Second time in a week that LF writes adverts for Chinese companies (connected to an autocratic government, CPC) in exchange for money.]
      • CNCF to Host NATS

        Today, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) voted to accept NATS as an incubation-level hosted project, alongside Kubernetes, Prometheus, OpenTracing, Fluentd, Linkerd, gRPC, CoreDNS, containerd, rkt, CNI, Envoy, Jaeger, Notary, TUF, Rook and Vitess.

      • The P4 Language Grows Up, Joins the ONF and Linux Foundation

        The P4 Language Consortium is becoming a project of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and, by extension, a project of the Linux Foundation to which the ONF belongs. The P4 Consortium has been a non-profit organization dedicated to writing the P4 programming language since 2013.

        P4 describe how packets are forwarded by networking devices such as switches, routers, and network interface cards (NICs). P4 takes software-defined networking (SDN) to the next level by bringing programmability to the forwarding plane.

      • P4 Joins ONF & Linux Foundation

        “Linux Foundation is thrilled to welcome the P4 community,” said Jim Zemlin, Executive Director at Linux Foundation. “Networking is a major focus at the foundation and the addition of the thriving P4 community combined with Linux Foundation Networking Projects in similar domains will drive innovation in networking to the next level.”

      • P4 Gains Broad Networking Industry Adoption, Joins Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and Linux Foundation (LF) to Accelerate Next Phase of Growth and Innovation
      • Linux Foundation launches ACRN open-source embedded hypervisor project

        The Linux Foundation announced the ACRN embedded reference hypervisor project at the Embedded Linux Conference earlier this week. ACRN is an open-source framework consisting of two components: a hypervisor and device model, including rich I/O mediators. The small-footprint hypervisor was designed with real-time and safety-critical requirements in mind, and is based on significant contributions from Intel.

      • Top 10 Reasons to Attend Open Networking Summit NA

        In just 2 weeks, you could be one of 2,000 architects, developers, and thought leaders from over 300 companies coming together to drive the future of networking integration, acceleration and deployment.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Linux 4.17 To Enable AMDGPU DC By Default For All Supported GPUs

        Since the introduction of the AMDGPU DC display code (formerly known as DAL) in Linux 4.15, this modern display stack has just been enabled by default for newer Radeon Vega and Raven Ridge devices. With Linux 4.17 that is changing with AMDGPU DC being enabled by default across the board for supported GPUs.

        Building off the earlier DRM-Next material for Linux 4.17, Alex Deucher minutes ago sent in another round of feature updates for targeting this next kernel cycle. This latest batch has continued code refactoring around PowerPlay, support for fetching the video RAM type from the video BIOS, allowing the TTM memory manager to drop its backing store when not needed, DC bandwidth calculation updates, enabling DC backlight control for pre-DCE11 GPUs, various display code fixes, and other bug fixes.

      • AMDGPU / ATI 18.0.1 X.Org DDX Driver Releases, Fixes Infinite Loop & Crashes

        Michel Dänzer of AMD issued bug-fix updates on Thursday for the xf86-video-ati and xf86-video-amdgpu DDX drivers.

        Just two weeks after the AMDGPU 18.0 X.Org driver release as the first version under their new year-based versioning scheme, the 18.0.1 bug-fix release is out. The xf86-video-amdgpu 18.0.1 DDX update fixes a potential infinite loop after a xorg-server reset in some configurations, Xorg crashing when multiple primary screens are configured, and using the TearFree feature could trigger Pixman library debugging spew.

      • Mesa 17.3.7 Nearing Release With 50+ Changes

        While waiting for Mesa 18.0, the Mesa 17.3.7 point release will soon hit stable users of this open-source, user-space graphics stack.

      • RADV Patches Are Closer For Sub-Group Capabilities

        Daniel Schürmann continues hacking on the sub-group patch-set for the RADV Vulkan driver to expose this important feature of the recent Vulkan 1.1 release.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • This week in Discover, part 10

        This week saw many positive changes for Discover, and I feel that it’s really coming into its own. Discover rumbles inexorably along toward the finish line of becoming the most-loved Linux app store!

      • Qt Creator 4.6 RC & Qt 5.11 Beta 2 Released

        The Qt Company has some new software development releases available in time for weekend testing.

        First up is the Qt Creator 4.6 Release Candidate. Qt Creator 4.6 has been working on better C++17 feature support, Clang-Tidy and Clazy warnings are now integrated into the diagnostic messages for the C++ editor, new filters, and improvements to the model editor.

      • LibAlkimia 7.0.1 with support for MPIR released

        LibAlkimia is a base library that contains support for financial applications based on the Qt C++ framework.

        One of its main features is the encapsulation of The GNU Multiple Precision Arithmetic Library (GMP) and so providing a simple object to be used representing monetary values in the form of rational numbers. All the mathematical details are hidden inside the AlkValue object.

      • Last Weeks Activity in Elisa and Release Schedule

        Elisa is a music player developed by the KDE community that strives to be simple and nice to use. We also recognize that we need a flexible product to account for the different workflows and use-cases of our users.

        We focus on a very good integration with the Plasma desktop of the KDE community without compromising the support for other platforms (other Linux desktop environments, Windows and Android).

        We are creating a reliable product that is a joy to use and respects our users privacy. As such, we will prefer to support online services where users are in control of their data.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Linus Bashes CTS Labs, GNOME 3.28 Released, Project ACRN and More

        GNOME 3.28 “Chongqing” is here, with many new features and fixes. According to the release notes, “the release incorporates 25832 changes, made by approximately 838 contributors.” The new version includes personal organization improvements, new Boxes features, such as automatic downloading of operating systems, and much more.

      • pkg-config and paths

        This is something of a frequently asked question, as it comes up every once in a while. The pkg-config documentation is fairly terse, and even pkgconf hasn’t improved on that.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • SwagArch 18.02 – U Got Swag?

        SwagArch sounds like an interesting concept. The aesthetic side of things is reasonable, although brown as a color and a dark theme make for a tricky choice. The fonts are pretty good overall. But the visual element is the least of the distro’s problems. SwagArch 18.02 didn’t deliver the basics, and that’s what made Dedoimedo sad.

        Network support plus the clock issue, horrible package management and broken programs, those are things that must work perfectly. Without them, the system has no value. So you do get multimedia support and a few unique apps, however that cannot balance out all the woes and problems that I encountered. All in all, Swag needs a lot more work. Also, it will have a tough time competing with Manjaro and Antergos, which are already established and fairly robust Arch spins. Lastly, it needs to narrow down its focus. The overall integration of elements is pretty weak. Eclectic, jumbled, not really tested. 2/10 for now. Let’s see how it evolves.

    • New Releases
      • Zorin OS 12.3 Released – A Stronger, More Versatile System

        We’re excited to announce the release of Zorin OS 12.3. This version focuses on strenghtening the fundamentals of the operating system that contribute towards Zorin OS’s unique user experience: simplicity, security, and functionality.

      • OSMC’s March update is here with Pi 3 B+ support

        OSMC’s March update is ready with a wide range of improvements and fixes to keep your OSMC device running in tip-top shape. We’ve released this update slightly earlier in the month than usual to add support for the new Raspberry Pi 3 B+.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Stop streaming music from YouTube with this one weird trick

        Having grown up on the internet long before the average connection speed made music streaming services viable, streaming has always struck me as wasteful. And I know that doesn’t make much sense—it’s not like there’s a limited amount of bandwidth to go around! But if I’m going to listen to the same audio file five times, why not just download it once and listen to it forever? Particularly if I want to listen to it while airborne and avoid the horrors of plane wifi. Or if I want to remove NSFW graphics that seem to frequently accompany mixes I enjoy.

      • dput usability changes

        With these changes, after building a package, you just need to type dput (in the correct directory of course) to sign and upload it.

      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, February 2018
      • Mentorship within software development teams

        In my journey to find an internship opportunity through Google Summer of Code, I wanted to give input about the relationship between a mentor and an intern/apprentice. My time as a service manager in the automotive repair industry gave me insight into the design of these relationships.

      • Derivatives
        • TeX Live 2018 (pretest) hits Debian/experimental

          TeX Live 2017 has been frozen and we have entered into the preparation phase for the release of TeX Live 2018. Time to update also the Debian packages to the current status.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu Has Made its Minimal Images Even More Minimal — Just 28MB!

            The Ubuntu minimal image has been reduced in size for the upcoming Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Bionic Beaver release. Ubuntu devs have reduced the images to just 28MB.

          • Mir 0.31 Is On The Way With MirAL 2.0, Wayland XDG-Shell Support

            Ahead of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS next month the Mir developers are working to release Mir version 0.31.

            The focus of the upcoming Mir 0.31 release is on MirAL version 2.0 and Wayland XDG-Shell support. MirAL 2.0 takes a ABI/API cleansing for this Mir abstraction layer to assist in writing code for Mir. This does result in some simplification for users of MirAL.

          • Your first robot: Sharing with others [5/5]

            This is the fifth (and final) blog post in this series about creating your first robot with ROS and Ubuntu Core. In the previous post we discussed methods of control, did a little math, and wrote the ROS driver for our robot. But it still required several nodes to be running at once, and sharing it with the world involved uploading your source code somewhere and convincing people to install ROS, build your package, and use it. Today we’re going to simplify both of those issues by discussing ROS launch files, and packaging everything we’ve written as a snap that can be installed by your friends with a few keystrokes, even without knowing anything about ROS.

          • Ubuntu Desktop weekly update – 16th March 2018

            We’ve had a busy few weeks, and so this email is a roll up of what’s been going on in Desktopland. Last week we had a team sprint in Budapest where we got to work side by side with our teammates and colleagues across Canonical. Feature Freeze has now passed and we’re working on fixing as many bugs as we can. We still have some additional features to land, and so we will be requesting Feature Freeze Exceptions for those. Meanwhile, here’s a recap of what’s been going on:

          • Winning with OpenStack Upgrades?

            On the Monday of the project teams gathering in Dublin a now somewhat familiar gathering of developers and operators got together to discuss upgrades – specifically fast forward upgrades but discussion over the day drifted into rolling upgrades and how to minimize downtime in supporting components as well. This discussion has been a regular feature over the last 18 months at PTG’s, Forums and Ops Meetups.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Faster Window/Application Launching Is Coming For Cinnamon

              Linux Mint’s GNOME/GTK-derived Cinnamon Desktop Environment will soon be able to launch applications faster.

              Developers of Linux Mint were recently investigating why application launching on Cinnamon felt slower than with desktops / window managers on MATE and Xfce. With a basic test they were able to confirm their feelings and went to work on figuring out the slowdowns.

  • Devices/Embedded
    • NXP IoT platform links ARM/Linux Layerscape SoCs to cloud

      NXP’s “EdgeScale” suite of secure edge computing device management tools help deploy and manage Linux devices running on LSx QorIQ Layerscape SoCs, and connects them to cloud services.

      NXP has added an EdgeScale suite of secure edge computing tools and services to its Linux-based Layerscape SDK for six of its networking oriented LSx QorIQ Layerscape SoCs. These include the quad-core, 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 QorIQ LS1043A, which last year received Ubuntu Core support, as well as the octa-core, Cortex-A72 LS2088a (see farther below).

    • How to build something ‘useful’ with a Raspberry Pi

      In honor of Pi Day, Chaim Gartenberg and I cooked up a tiny little Raspberry Pi project for yesterday’s episode of Circuit Breaker Live.

      We started with a simple concept: a button that says “Why?” when you press it, in honor of our favorite podcast. So we knew we’d need a button, some sound files, a little bit of Python code, and, of course, a Raspberry Pi.

      A new Pi is $35, but we found an old Raspberry Pi 2 in my desk drawer, which was up to the task. (Newer Pis have built-in Wi-Fi and faster processors, but for our simple button project we didn’t need internet or extra horsepower.)

    • Rugged, Kaby Lake based NVR system offers up to eight PoE ports

      Aaeon’s automotive-focused “VPC-5600S” networked video recorder PC runs Linux or Windows on 7th Gen Core chips and offers dual hot-swappable SATA trays and 6x to 10x GbE ports, with 4x to 8x of those supporting PoE.

      Aaeon has launched a rugged VPC-5600S network video recorder (NVR) embedded computer with up to 10x Gigabit Ethernet ports, of which up to 8x support Power-over-Ethernet (PoE). Together with the Linux and Windows supported Intel 7th Gen “Kaby Lake” CPUs, the capability enables users to “receive the highest quality images from multiple sources without any danger of data loss,” says Aaeon. With the additional four USB 3.0 ports, the VPC-5600S can support up to 14x high-grade surveillance cameras, says the Asus-owned company.

    • Fanless system has four PoE and two standard GbE ports

      FCO’s Linux-ready “SmartMod” box PC offers a 7th Gen Intel Core CPU, SATA and mSATA, 5x USB, 6x serial, 3x mini-PCIe, dual display support, and 6x GbE ports, four of which have PoE.

    • Tizen
      • Top 20 Best Tizen Apps in the Tizen Store for February 2018

        Whats happening in the world of Tizen Smartphones? Well, not really that much of late, but that’s probably another post for another time.

        For the last year we have kept a close eye on the Tizen App ecosystem and today we bring you the Top 20 Apps downloaded from the Tizen Store during February 2018 for the Samsung Z1, Z2, Z3, and Z4 mobiles. New entries in the Top 20 are 99 Apps, Hill Driver, Balloon shoot, Music Press MX Music Player, and Jio TV. The rest are the usual suspects. Anyone that has been following this list knows not much really changes from month to month at the moment on the store.

    • Android
Free Software/Open Source
  • Univa Taps Open Source Community to Bolster Enterprise HPC

    Univa is looking to the open source community to help evolve its Navops Launch platform for enterprises migrating high-performance computing (HPC) workloads to the cloud. The open source efforts will run under the Project Tortuga banner, with access available through an Apache 2.0 license model.

    Rob LaLonde, general manager and vice president for Navops at Univa, explained that the open source plan will focus on general purpose cluster and cloud management frameworks. This includes the ability to automate the deployment of clusters in local on-premises, cloud-based, and hybrid-cloud configurations. These will be applicable to applications like HPC, big data frameworks, Kubernetes, machine learning, and deep learning environments.

  • Univa Open Sources Project Tortuga

    Univa, a leading innovator in on-premise and hybrid cloud workload management solutions for enterprise HPC customers, announced the contribution of its Navops Launch (née Unicloud) product to the open source community as Project Tortuga under an Apache 2.0 license to help proliferate the transition of enterprise HPC workloads to the cloud.

  • Univa Open Sources Project Tortuga to Accelerate the Migration of Enterprise HPC Workloads to the Cloud
  • Univa open sources Project Tortuga to boost migration of enterprise HPC workloads to the cloud
  • Google Open-Sources Impressive AI Camera Tools

    People use smartphones for lots of different reasons. Some folks like to browse the web. Some like to listen to music. Some like to spend infinite money on bad mobile games. And some people even still like to make phone calls. But one of the biggest selling points of a modern phone is the quality of its camera. Gone are the dark ages of blurry flip-phone images. Phones these days can take pictures professional enough to be screened in theaters or advertised in subway stops. And manufacturers are always looking to get an edge on the competition.

  • Why Open Source & Hardware Integration Can Work for Service Providers
  • Private Internet Access releases software as open source

    Private Internet Access, a company best known for its VPN Service of the same name, announced today that it started the process of releasing all of its software as open source.

    The company plans to release all of its client-side programs, extensions and libraries as open source over the course of the next six month period.

  • Private Internet Access goes Open Source

    Today marks the start of an exciting shift over here at Private Internet Access. As long-time supporters of the Free and Open Source Software community, we have started the process of open sourcing our software, and over the next six months we will be releasing the source code for all our client-side applications, as well as libraries and extensions.

  • World’s Top VPN Provider, Private Internet Access (PIA), Goes Open Source
  • Private Internet Access VPN taking to the Open Source Road

    Popular VPN provider Private Internet Access has unveiled plans to make all of their VPN software open source. In the coming six months the company plans to release the source code to all of their client-side apps and well as various other extensions.

    Private Internet Access made the announcement in a blog posting on the company website in which they announced the opening of a repository with the source code of their Google Chrome extension. That repository can be accessed via GitHub now. More will become available on an ad-hoc basis over the coming months.

  • Government of Jamaica to Actively Pursue Greater Use of Open Source Software – Wheatley

    Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. Andrew Wheatley today outlined the Government of Jamaica’s intention to pursue greater use of Open Source Software as part of its thrust to transform ICT within government while at the same time reducing the attendant costs associated with the use of proprietary software.

    Guided by recommendations outlined in an Open Source Policy Framework report which was completed in late 2016, Minister Wheatley stated that “It is clear that there are huge benefits to be gained from greater use of open source software by developing countries like Jamaica and we intend to take a more active approach to incorporation of these types of software across government.”

    Minister Wheatley in speaking about recurrent enterprise agreements with Microsoft, IBM and other proprietary software vendors said “ for a very long time we have been confined by the strictures and high costs of the license regimes of proprietary software offerings and we will now, in keeping with goals of our Vision 2030 plan, make the move to unleash the innovative capacity of our country by leading the way in the adoption of open source platforms”

  • Introducing Agones: Open-source, multiplayer, dedicated game-server hosting built on Kubernetes

    In the world of distributed systems, hosting and scaling dedicated game servers for online, multiplayer games presents some unique challenges. And while the game development industry has created a myriad of proprietary solutions, Kubernetes has emerged as the de facto open-source, common standard for building complex workloads and distributed systems across multiple clouds and bare metal servers. So today, we’re excited to announce Agones (Greek for “contest” or “gathering”), a new open-source project that uses Kubernetes to host and scale dedicated game servers.

  • What Is Fuchsia, Google’s New Operating System?

    Fuchsia first popped up on the tech world’s radar in mid-2016, when an unannounced open source project from Google appeared on the GitHub repository. According to initial inspection by the technology press, it was designed to be a “universal” operating system, capable of running on everything from low-power smartwatches to powerful desktops. That potentially includes phones, tablets, laptops, car electronics, connected appliances, smarthome hardware, and more.

  • Google created an AI-based, open source music synthesizer

    Move over musicians, AI is here. Google’s ‘NSynth’ neural network is designed to take existing sounds and combine them using a complex, machine learning algorithm. The result? Thousands of new musical sounds, and an instrument you can play them on.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • March Add(on)ness: uBlock (1) vs Kimetrack (4)
      • TenFourFox FPR6 SPR1 coming

        Stand by for FPR6 Security Parity Release 1 due to the usual turmoil following Pwn2Own, in which the mighty typically fall and this year Firefox did. We track these advisories and always plan to have a patched build of TenFourFox ready and parallel with Mozilla’s official chemspill release; I have already backported the patch and tested it internally.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • HHVM 3.25.0, 3.24.4, and 3.21.8

      HHVM 3.25 is released! This release contains new features, bug fixes, performance improvements, and supporting work for future improvements. Packages have been published in the usual places.

    • HHVM 3.25 Released, Now Defaults To PHP7 Mode

      Facebook developers working on the HHVM Hack/PHP language stack have released version 3.25 of the HipHop Virtual Machine.

      HHVM 3.25′s PHP support now defaults to PHP7 rather than the PHP5 mode, which is now in an unsupported state. As expressed previously, Facebook will be focusing more on their Hack language support than PHP7 thanks to all the upstream improvements with PHP 7 especially on the performance front. But the large compatibility with PHP7 will happen to continue at least for the time being. With HHVM 3.25 includes support for PHP7 Throwable/Error/Exception hierarchy, changes to visibility modifiers, and other compatibility work.

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

      Developer Q&A site Stack Overflow performs an annual survey to find out more about the programmer community, and the latest set of results has just been published.

    • FYI: AI tools can unmask anonymous coders from their binary executables [Ed: Just a kind reminder that if you are e using Microsoft's tools compile source code, there will be surveillance and telemetry in your compiled code]

      Programmers can be potentially identified from the low-level machine-code instructions in their software executables by AI-powered tools.

      That’s according to boffins from Princeton University, Shiftleft, Drexel University, Sophos, and Braunschweig University of Technology, who have described how stylometry can be applied to binary files.

      That’s kinda bad news for people who wish to develop software, such as privacy-protecting apps, anonymously, as this technology can be used to potentially unmask them. It’s also kinda good news for crimefighters trying to identify malware authors.

    • How to avoid humiliating newcomers: A guide for advanced developers

      Every year in New York City, a few thousand young men come to town, dress up like Santa Claus, and do a pub crawl. One year during this SantaCon event, I was walking on the sidewalk and minding my own business, when I saw an extraordinary scene. There was a man dressed up in a red hat and red jacket, and he was talking to a homeless man who was sitting in a wheelchair. The homeless man asked Santa Claus, “Can you spare some change?” Santa dug into his pocket and brought out a $5 bill. He hesitated, then gave it to the homeless man. The homeless man put the bill in his pocket.

      In an instant, something went wrong. Santa yelled at the homeless man, “I gave you $5. I wanted to give you one dollar, but five is the smallest I had, so you oughtta be grateful. This is your lucky day, man. You should at least say thank you!”


      I still get angry at people on the internet. It happened to me recently, when someone posted a comment on a video I published about Python co-routines. It had taken me months of research and preparation to create this video, and then a newcomer commented, “I want to master python what should I do.”

  • Standards/Consortia
    • ONF Launches Stratum Open-Source SDN Project

      The growing adoption of software-defined networking over the past several years has given a boost to makers of networking white boxes. The separation of the network operating system, control plane and network tasks from the underlying proprietary hardware meant that organizations could run that software on white-box switches and servers that are less expensive than those systems from the likes of Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, Dell EMC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

      Network virtualization technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) have proven to be a particular boon for hyperscale cloud providers like Google and Facebook and telecommunications companies like AT&T and Verizon, which are pushing increasingly massive amounts of traffic through their growing infrastructures. Being able to use less expensive and easily manageable white boxes from original design manufacturers (ODMs) has helped these organizations keep costs down even as demand rises.

  • When It Comes to Email Are You a Filer, or a Piler?

    Most of us tackle our email inboxes in different ways, ways that (we think) are unique to us.

    Me: I keep my email neatly organised using labels, groups and filters. It is both superficially efficient, but somewhat practical too. Depending on the source, sender or topic some email will end up read sooner than others — hopefully in the right order!

    Others — and I bet there’ll be more than a couple among you reading this — simply cannot bear the thought of having unread email left loitering about. Their aim: fastidiously work their way down to inbox zen aka zero, treating their unread mail as a to-do list of sorts in the process.

  • At least four dead in pedestrian bridge collapse at university in Miami, authorities say

    At least four people died Thursday when a pedestrian bridge collapsed near Florida International University, Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Dave Downey said.

    At least eight cars were crushed under the bridge and at least nine people were transported to hospitals for treatment, authorities said.

    “The most important thing we can do right now is pray for the individuals who ended up in the hospital, for their full recovery, and pray for the family members who lost loved ones,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday night.

  • Another Bridge To Nowhere

    This is a catastrophe. It was totally unnecessary. It was preventable. Multiple people had to make multiple unsound judgments to make it happen. They need to rot in jail if not to be killed. The bridge would have worked as planned if it were made of steel only, not concrete. The bridge would have worked as planned if the reinforcements had been suspended and anchored properly. Instead, lives have been lost, useful technology will be forever linked to disaster, and the life-saving passage across a busy road will be delayed a year or more. How many more will have to die because of this crime?

  • Health/Nutrition
    • UAEM Students Launch Campaign To Drop Publicly Funded Patent Claim On Cancer Drug In India

      The Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) this week launched a campaign to ask the University of California to drop its pursuit of a patent on the prostrate cancer drug Xtandi in India in order to make it affordable for patients. Xtandi sells at “exorbitant” rates in the United States, they said, a seeming violation of the licensing guidelines of the publicly funded University of California system which guarantees an “appropriate” return on taxpayer investments.

    • Global Health Governance Changing With Shift In Economic Centre Of Gravity, Speakers Say

      Political and economic shifts have modified the post-war world order, and global health governance has to adapt to this new environment, speakers said at an academic event in Geneva this week. Among the changes: with the decline of United States funding for global health, new actors such as China and India could take leadership roles, they said.

  • Security
    • Canonical Releases Spectre/Meltdown Patches for Ubuntu 17.10 for Raspberry Pi 2

      Canonical published two security advisories on Thursday to announce the availability of Spectre mitigations for the ARM64 (AArch64) hardware architecture on its Ubuntu 17.10 and Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS systems.

      In January, Canonical released several kernel updates for Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) and other supported Ubuntu releases with software mitigations against the Spectre and Meltdown security vulnerabilities. These patches were first released for 64-bit (amd64) architectures, and then for 32-bit (i386), PPC64el, and s390x systems.

      Today, the company announced the availability of new kernel updates that address both the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities for the ARM64 (AArch64) hardware architecture, patching the Raspberry Pi 2 kernel for Ubuntu 17.10, as well as its derivatives.

    • Oracle Patches Spectre for Red Hat

      The Red Hat community has patiently awaited a retpoline kernel implementation that remediates CVE-2017-5715 (Spectre v2) and closes all Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities that have captured headlines this year.

      Red Hat’s initial fixes rely upon microcode updates for v2 remediation, a decision that leaves the vast majority of AMD64-capable processors in an exploitable state. Intel’s new microcode has proven especially problematic; it performs badly and the January 2018 versions were plagued with stability issues that crashed many systems. It is a poor solution to a pressing problem.

    • ​Meet the Scarlett Johansson PostgreSQL malware attack

      t’s not the first time an image has been used to give a victim malware, but it may be the first time it’s been used so narrowly. According to the security firm Imperva, their StickyDB database management system (DBMS) honeypot has uncovered an attack that places malware, which cryptomines Monero, on PostgreSQL DBMS servers. Its attack vector? An image of Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson.

      Now, you might ask, “How many PostgreSQL DBMS servers are out there on the internet to be attacked?” The answer: “More than you’d expect.” A Shodan search revealed almost 710,000 PostgreSQL servers ready to be hacked. It appears there are so many of them because it’s way too easy, especially on Amazon Web Services (AWS), to set up PostgreSQL servers without security.

    • Hackers Target PostgreSQL DBs With Coinminer Hidden in Scarlett Johannsson Image
    • Private Internet Access Goes Open Source, New Raspbian Image Available, Scarlett Johansson Image an Attack Vector on PostgreSQL and More
    • This Black Box Can ‘Unlock Your iPhone’ For Cops; Images Leaked

      The debate whether law enforcement agencies should be given exclusive access to iOS-powered Apple devices started when the FBI was unable to unlock San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. Eventually, FBI found other ways to get inside Apple’s secured digital fortress, through an Israel-based company called Cellebrite.

      In the latest news, we have come across about a new iPhone unlocking device called GrayKey that can be used by law enforcement guys to harvest passcode of an iPhone and other iOS-powered devices such as iPads and iPods.

    • Security: 17 Things

      A list for protecting yourself and others from the most common and easiest-to-pull-off security crimes.

      I spend a lot of time giving information security advice, such as why RMF (Risk Management Framework) is too top-heavy for implementing risk management practices in small or R&D-focused organizations, what the right Apache SSL settings really are or how static analysis can help improve C code. What I’m asked for the most though isn’t any of those things; it’s the everyday stuff that even non-technical people can do to protect themselves from the looming but nebulous threat of an information security accident.

    • Intel Says Its Next Chips Will Be Fully Protected Against Spectre Vulnerability
    • Hybrid cloud security: 5 key strategies
    • Triada Malware Preinstalled on Low-Cost Android Phones – Here’s How to Beat It
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Following Boko Haram Attack, Dozens of Nigerian Girls Missing

      So many girls being kidnapped at once seemed like an anomaly, but four years later, more girls have been reported missing following a Boko Haram attack on a town in Nigeria. On February 19, Boko Haram militants stormed the town of Dapchi, and following the attack, parents compiled a list of 110 girls missing from a school in the town, as reported by the Associated Press. Boko Haram is a religious extremist group that believes Nigeria is run by “nonbelievers” too closely aligned with the West.

    • How MS-13 Pushes Families Out of Central America

      In this op-ed, Salvadoran Estefani Alarcon explains how those outside of the United States have been impacted by MS-13, with some even being forced to move from home.

    • Bothered By Midgies

      In 13 years of running my blog I have never been exposed to such a tirade of abuse as I have for refusing to accept without evidence that Russia is the only possible culprit for the Salisbury attack. The abuse has mostly been on twitter, and much of the most venomous stuff has come from corporate and state media “journalists”. I suppose I am a standing rebuke to them for merely being stenographers to power and never doing any actual research, but that hardly explains the visceral levels of hatred exhibited.

      Today they are all terrifically happy and sharing amongst themselves a lengthy twitter thread by a Blairite and chemist called Clyde Davis in which they all say I am “owned” and my article disproven. There are two remarkable things about this thread.

      The first remarkable thing is the remarkably high percentage of those who are sharing it with commendations who are mainstream media journalists. Last I saw was George Monbiot five minutes ago, but there are dozens. I suppose it is important to them as validating their decision to support uncritically the government line without doing any actual journalism.

    • Liberals, Conservatives Worry About Korean Peace Threat
    • Acceptable Bigotry and Scapegoating of Russia

      Over the last year and a half, Americans have been bombarded with the Gish Gallop claims of Russiagate. In that time, the most reckless comments have been made against the Russians in service of using that country as a scapegoat for problems in the United States that were coming to a head, which were the real reasons for Donald Trump’s upset victory in 2016. It has even gotten to the point where irrational hatred against Russia is becoming normalized, with the usual organizations that like to warn of the pernicious consequences of bigotry silent.Acceptable Bigotry and Scapegoating of Russia

    • After State Secy, Trump decides to remove NSA
    • Donald Trump ready to fire NSA McMaster: Report
    • Trump ready to fire NSA McMaster: Report
    • Trump has decided to remove NSA: Washington Post
    • Of A Type Developed By Liars

      I have now received confirmation from a well placed FCO source that Porton Down scientists are not able to identify the nerve gas as being of Russian manufacture, and have been resentful of the pressure being placed on them to do so. Porton Down would only sign up to the formulation “of a type developed by Russia” after a rather difficult meeting where this was agreed as a compromise formulation. The Russians were allegedly researching, in the “Novichok” programme a generation of nerve agents which could be produced from commercially available precursors such as insecticides and fertilisers. This substance is a “novichok” in that sense. It is of that type. Just as I am typing on a laptop of a type developed by the United States, though this one was made in China.

      To anybody with a Whitehall background this has been obvious for several days. The government has never said the nerve agent was made in Russia, or that it can only be made in Russia. The exact formulation “of a type developed by Russia” was used by Theresa May in parliament, used by the UK at the UN Security Council, used by Boris Johnson on the BBC yesterday and, most tellingly of all, “of a type developed by Russia” is the precise phrase used in the joint communique issued by the UK, USA, France and Germany yesterday:

      This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War.

      When the same extremely careful phrasing is never deviated from, you know it is the result of a very delicate Whitehall compromise. My FCO source, like me, remembers the extreme pressure put on FCO staff and other civil servants to sign off the dirty dossier on Iraqi WMD, some of which pressure I recount in my memoir Murder in Samarkand. She volunteered the comparison to what is happening now, particularly at Porton Down, with no prompting from me.

    • Suitcase spy poisoning plot: nerve agent ‘was planted in luggage of Sergei Skripal’s daughter’

      The nerve agent that poisoned the Russian spy Sergei Skripal was planted in his daughter’s suitcase before she left Moscow, intelligence agencies now believe.

      Senior sources have told the Telegraph they are convinced the Novichok nerve agent was hidden in the luggage of Yulia Skripal, the double agent’s 33-year-old daughter.

    • The GI Resistance Continues: Vietnam Vets Return to My Lai, Where U.S. Slaughtered 500 Civilians

      As a group of Vietnam War veterans and peace activists travel back to Vietnam to mark the 50th anniversary of the My Lai massacre, Amy Goodman and Juan González speak with three members of the delegation: Vietnam veteran Paul Cox, who later co-founded the Veterans for Peace chapter in San Francisco; Susan Schnall, former Navy nurse who was court-martialed for opposing the Vietnam War; and longtime activist Ron Carver, who has organized an exhibit honoring the GI antiwar movement at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Adrian Lamo, Hacker Who Turned In Chelsea Manning, Has Reportedly Died

      “With great sadness and a broken heart I have to let know [sic] all of Adrian’s friends and acquittances that he is dead,” Lamo’s father wrote on Facebook . “A bright mind and compassionate soul is gone, he was my beloved son.”

      UK’s The Mirror reports a coroner for Sedgwick County, where Lamo lived, has confirmed his death. A cause of death has not been disclosed. Lamo was 37 years old.

    • HACKER DEAD Adrian Lamo dead at 37 – Hacker who shopped Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning to the FBI passes away

      HACKER Adrian Lamo who turned Chelsea Manning in to the FBI, has died according to a Facebook post by a family member.

    • Hacker Adrian Lamo who turned Wikileaks’ source Chelsea Manning in to the FBI dead at 37, says father

      Adrian Lamo, the prolific hacker who turned Chelsea Manning in to the FBI, has died according to a Facebook post by a family member.

      In the post Adrian’s father Mario Lamo wrote: “With great sadness and a broken heart I have to let know all of Adrian’s friends and acquaintances that he is dead. A bright mind and compassionate soul is gone, he was my beloved son.”

      The coroner for Sedgwick County, where Lamo lived, confirmed his death, but provided no further details.

      Adrian Lamo became a controversial figure in the hacker community after he tipped off authorities after about Chelsea Manning providing the controversial combat video that became ‘Collateral Murder’ and 260,000 classified diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.

    • Hacker Adrian Lamo, who turned in Chelsea Manning, dies at 37

      The hacker is best known for high-profile hacks of companies like Microsoft, and later for turning in Chelsea Manning to the FBI after receiving leaked documents from her.

    • Hacker who gave up Wikileaks source dies

      Adrian Lamo, a computer hacker best known for passing on information that led to the arrest of Chelsea Manning, has died aged 37.

      In online messaging conversations, Manning confided in him, describing confidential military material Manning had sent to Wikileaks.

    • Adrian Lamo, Hacker Who Exposed Chelsea Manning, Dies at 37

      Hacker Adrian Lamo, who exposed Army whistleblower Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning, died today at the age of 37.

      Lamo’s father Mario announced the news in a Facebook post. A cause of death was not immediately clear.

      Known as the “Homeless Hacker,” Lamo led a transient lifestyle. But while his living arrangements weren’t fancy, his hacking skills were legendary.

      Lamo first came to prominence in 2002, when he broke into The New York Times‘ internal computer network, added his name to the internal database of expert sources and used the paper’s LexisNexis account to conduct research on high-profile subjects.

    • FBI INFORMER Who was Adrian Lamo? Hacker who turned Wikileaks source Chelsea Manning in to the FBI
    • Hacker Adrian Lamo, known for hacking The New York Times and turning in Chelsea Manning, is dead

      More recently, however, Lamo was known for alerting the Army after whistleblower Chelsea Manning confided in him about leaking classified material to WikiLeaks. Lamo said he acted out of a sense of “duty,” but later expressed some regret for the decision, although he stood by it in later interviews. “A bright mind and compassionate soul is gone,” wrote Lamo’s father on Facebook.

    • Hacker Adrian Lamo dies at 37

      A neighbor who found his body said he had been dead for some time.

    • Adrian Lamo, hacker who turned in Chelsea Manning, dies aged 37

      Called the “world’s most hated hacker” by some at the time, Lamo also said: “Had I done nothing, I would always have been left wondering whether the hundreds of thousands of documents that had been leaked to unknown third parties would end up costing lives, either directly or indirectly.”

    • Adrian Lamo, the hacker who gave up Wikileaks source Chelsea Manning, dies aged 37

      Adrian Lamo, the computer hacker who passed on information that led to the arrest of Chelsea Manning, has died aged 37.

      His father Mario broke the news of his son’s death on Facebook.

      “With great sadness and a broken heart I have to let know all of Adrian’s friends and acquaintances that he is dead. A bright mind and compassionate soul is gone, he was my beloved son,” Mario Lamo wrote in a post to the 2600: The Hacker Quarterly Facebook Group.

    • Chicago’s DA Walks the Walk on Prosecutorial Transparency

      Earlier this month Kim Foxx, the state’s attorney for Cook County, Illinois, which covers Chicago, released six years’ worth of raw data regarding felony prosecutions in her office. It was a simple yet profound act of good governance, and one that is all too rare among the nation’s elected prosecutors. Foxx asserted that “for too long, the work of the criminal justice system has been largely a mystery. That lack of openness undermines the legitimacy of the criminal justice system.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • The Assault on Environmental Protest

      More than 50 state bills that would criminalize protest, deter political participation, and curtail freedom of association have been introduced across the country in the past two years. These bills are a direct reaction from politicians and corporations to the tactics of some of the most effective protesters in recent history, including Black Lives Matter and the water protectors challenging construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock.

      If they succeed, these legislative moves will suppress dissent and undercut marginalized groups voicing concerns that disrupt current power dynamics.

      Efforts vary from state to state, but they have one thing in common: they would punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment.

  • Finance
    • Google, Facebook face 3% turnover tax in EU: report

      Multinational US technology companies like Google and Facebook will have to pay a 3% turnover tax in the EU, according to a draft proposal from the European Commission.

    • EU set to hit big U.S. tech firms with 3 percent turnover tax

      Services that will be taxed are digital advertising, which would capture both providers of users’ data like Google, and companies offering ad space on their websites, like popular social media such as Facebook.

      The tax would be also be levied on online platforms offering “intermediation services,” a concept under which the Commission includes gig economy firms such as Airbnb and Uber. Digital market places, including Amazon, would also be within the scope of the levy.

    • Flawed Assessments Caused $2 Billion Shift in Property Taxes, Study Finds

      In the first effort to measure the cost of Cook County’s error-ridden assessment system under Assessor Joseph Berrios, a new study estimates that at least $2.2 billion in property taxes was shifted from undervalued Chicago homes onto overvalued ones between 2011 and 2015.

      Because the county’s assessment system is skewed in favor of high-priced homes, the errors amount to a staggering transfer of wealth that benefited Chicago’s most affluent homeowners at the expense of people who own lower-priced homes.

      The study, released Thursday by the Municipal Finance Center at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, was conducted by Professor Christopher Berry, a critic of the assessor’s office who testified at a County Board hearing in July about flaws in the county’s assessment system.

    • ‘A Remarkable Victory for the Labor Movement’

      A deal was signed giving all public employees in West Virginia a 5 percent pay raise, after a nine-day work stoppage by teachers and school staffers that shut down every school in the state. More than 20,000 teachers and 13,000 staffers walked out February 22, mainly over healthcare costs, despite the fact that they had no legal right to strike.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Guns for Hire: China’s Social Media Militia Engage on Command

      Laoxie had joined the ranks of the wangluo shuijun, or “internet water army.” China has innumerable organized groups of these unscrupulous paid posters, ready to inundate the [I]nternet for whoever is willing to cough up cash.


      “Believe it or not, paid posters are extremely good at swaying public opinion,” says Laoxie, adding that others often follow water armies’ lead. “In many cases, lots of people don’t know anything about the celebrity, but when they see negative comments, they will jump on the bandwagon.”

    • How social media spread a historical lie

      In 2002, the University of Houston built an online American Digital History site with a page on the 1924 convention. “Newspapers called the convention a ‘Klanbake,’ as pro-Klan and anti-Klan Democratic delegates wrangled bitterly over the party platform,” it declared, echoing Maeder’s language. Wikipedia’s entry for the 1924 Democratic convention added mention of the term — in its first sentence — in 2005, inserting a citation to the University of Houston article four years later. From there, “Klanbake” sneaked into scholarly histories, popular accounts and journalism on the right, left and center.

      And so a single, offhand historical footnote began to snowball in authority. On social media, that snowball became a weapon.

    • How the Russian Presidential Election Race Looks in its Final Days

      The candidates for the presidency in Russia’s election this Sunday are now in the home stretch. Not much has changed in the past several weeks as regards the standings of each in the polls of voter sympathies. Vladimir Putin holds the lead, way out in front, with nearly 70% of voters saying they will cast their votes for him. The candidate of the Communist Party, Pavel Grudinin, has held on to second place, at just over 7% despite suffering some severe setbacks over revelations of his bank accounts held abroad. And third place, with just over 5% goes to the nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the LDPR.


      One distinguishing feature of the debates was the absence of the President, who chose to neither participate in person, nor to send a proxy.

      As it turned out, the absence of Putin from these debates was entirely justified by the utterly unruly behavior and scandals at times during the series. Moreover, had the President or his representative been present he would have been the subject of attack from all seven challengers in unison, a very unfair situation for him and not very enlightening for the electorate.

      At the same time, it is very clear that those managing the incumbent’s campaign were exploiting every legal means to dominate, indeed to overwhelm all his opponents taken together with high quality viewer and listener time singing his praises and arguing for more of the same in the coming six years. These legal means included the delivery of his annual address to the Federal Assembly, the Russian equivalent to the State of the Union address of the American President, in the midst of the electoral campaign, on March 1. This gave Vladimir Putin two hours on all the airwaves to set out what is in effect a program for his next term.

      Another device used to put the President before the electorate in a privileged manner was the launch in the past week of two new, sophisticated and full-length documentary films about Vladimir Putin. One, entitled “World Order 2018” features the popular talk show host Vladimir Solovyov as Putin’s interlocutor or interviewer.

    • U.S. government’s media agency targets Russian disinformation and Iranian censorship;
    • ‘Hostiles’ and Hollywood’s Untold Story

      But it is fair to criticize a movie for being a perfect example of a movie genre that consistently ignores the most essential themes of the American Frontier. “Hostiles” succeeds brilliantly as the latest addition to a very long list of movies that focus laser-like attention on hostile Frontier characters, rather than on the consequences of Frontier hostility.

      The American Frontier was not, as Hollywood formerly portrayed it, merely a canvas background prop for a violent soap box drama starring Cowboys & Indians – or, as more recently re-imagined, an ethnic melodrama featuring white Bad Guys versus Noble Indian resistance.

      Nor can the American Frontier be considered a particularly hostile place without expunging from history the slaughter-grounds of Cannae, Verdun, Stalingrad, or even America’s own Gettysburg – each of which produced more bloated corpses than any number of Wild Wests. In an encyclopedia of human violence, the massacres at the Little Bighorn and Wounded Knee would be relegated to a footnote.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • How FOSTA Could Give Hollywood the Filters It’s Long Wanted

      Some of the biggest names in the U.S. entertainment industry have expressed a recent interest in a topic that’s seemingly far away from their core business: shutting down online prostitution. Disney, for instance, recently wrote to key U.S. senators expressing their support for SESTA, a bill that was originally aimed at sex traffickers. For its part, 20th Century Fox told the same senators that anyone doing business online “has a civic responsibility to help stem illicit and illegal activity.”

      Late last year, the bill the entertainment companies supported morphed from SESTA into FOSTA, and then into a kind of Frankenstein bill that combines the worst aspects of both. The bill still does nothing to catch or punish traffickers, or provide help to victims of sex trafficking.

    • Congress Proposes to Fight Online Trafficking By Harming Sex Workers

      The U.S. Senate is poised to pass legislation that is intended to stop the internet from being used for sex trafficking — a worthy goal aimed at addressing a serious problem. However, the legislation known as the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, or FOSTA, could harm the very people that it is intended to protect. The legislation also threatens the vibrancy of the internet as the world’s most significant marketplace of ideas, and it will inhibit its growth as a place of creativity and innovation.

      Proposals to address sex trafficking should not make workers in the sex trade more susceptible to violence and exploitation. FOSTA threatens the lives and safety of sex workers — people who are disproportionately LGBTQ and people of color. The legislation does this through a dangerously broad definition of “promotion of prostitution,” which is not limited to trafficking and could sweep in any trading of sex for money or other goods. The bill also creates a new, vaguely defined federal crime for the facilitation of prostitution which could result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years. FOSTA’s definition of “facilitation” is so open to interpretation that it could include critical harm reduction and anti-violence tactics that sex workers depend on to survive.

    • Artists Respond to Artspace Jackson Flats Censorship with an Exhibition

      Last month, Artspace Jackson Flats, an artists’ live-work facility in East Minneapolis, demanded that several works depicting nudes be removed from “Beauty in Every BODY,” an exhibition organized around the theme of body positivity curated by artist-in-residence Kristin Harsma.

      In response to the censorship, NCAC sent a letter to Artspace pointing out that if simple nudity was routinely considered grounds for excluding artwork from public exhibition, vast swathes of art, including many masterpieces, would be off limits.

    • Netizen Report: Internet Censorship Bills Loom Large Over Egypt, South Africa

      While the Egyptian government is notorious for censoring websites and platforms on national security grounds, there are no laws in force that explicitly dictate what is and is not permissible in online censorship. But if the draft law is approved, that will soon change. Article 7 of the anti-cybercrime law would give investigative authorities the right to “order the censorship of websites” whenever “evidence arises that a website broadcasting from inside or outside the state has published any phrases, photos or films, or any promotional material or the like which constitute a crime, as set forth in this law, and poses a threat to national security or compromises national security or the national economy.” Orders issued under Article 7 would need to be approved by a judge within 72 hours of being filed.

    • Netizen Report: Internet Censorship Bill Looms Large Over Egypt

      The Advox Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

      Egyptian parliamentarians will soon review a draft anti-cybercrime law that could codify internet censorship practices into national law.

      While the Egyptian government is notorious for censoring websites and platforms on national security grounds, there are no laws in force that explicitly dictate what is and is not permissible in the realm of online censorship. But if the draft law is approved, that will soon change.


      Over the past four months, I’ve watched with dismay as the new Facebook algorithms have pretty much strangled the Brian Keene Facebook Page.

    • Lucha Underground Wrestling Sends Legal Threat To Journalists For Publishing ‘Spoilers’

      Spoilers suck, sure, but this is the internet and some things cannot be avoided. Still, for those that produce content, there are better and worse ways to handle the issue of spoilers. Some large entertainment groups try to sue over spoilers, but it rarely works. Others settle for mere DMCA takedowns. Most entertainment groups, meanwhile, don’t do a damn thing about spoilers, because that’s the correct course of action.

      Still, even with that wide spectrum of past responses, sending legal threats to journalists over spoilers, such as the Lucha Underground wrestling show has done, is a new one for me. The legal threats rest on the NDAs the audience has to sign before attending a show.

    • Censorship Creep Is Setting In As Social Media Companies Try To Stay Ahead Of European Lawmakers

      Law professor Danielle Citron — best known at Techdirt for her attacks on Section 230 immunity — has written a paper attacking Google, Facebook, etc., but not for the reasons you might think. Her paper [PDF] points out policy changes that have been made by several tech companies not in response to users or US government activity, but to get out ahead of increasing regulatory pressure in Europe. In the recent past, these platforms routinely defended the rights of everyone around the world to engage in free speech, even if that meant offending local governments. Now, with the internet headed towards enforced Balkanization backed by hefty fines, US companies are now routinely engaging in preemptive censorship of content perfectly legal in the US (and arguably legal elsewhere).

    • How Trump’s Lawyer’s Silly Lawsuit Against Buzzfeed May Free Stormy Daniels From Her Non Disclosure Agreement

      You see, Cohen is also at the center of the whole Stormy Daniels mess. If you somehow have been under a giant rock for the past month or so, Cohen has admitted to paying $130,000 to Daniels (real name: Stephanie Clifford). As multiple places have reported, Daniels was apparently paid the money as part of an agreement to buy her silence over an affair she had with Donald Trump a decade or so ago. There are a huge list of important questions around all of this, including whether the whole thing violated campaign finance laws (which it very likely did).

      A big part of the fight is over whether or not Daniels can really tell her story. We’ve noted that Trump lawyers are threatening to go to court to stop CBS from airing an interview, while Daniels’ lawyers have argued that the agreement is not valid as Trump never signed it — while also offering to pay back the $130,000 to break the agreement (which… uh… is not exactly how it works). And I won’t even get into the hilariously meaningless “private” temporary restraining order that Cohen went to an arbitration firm to get, without even notifying Daniels.

    • National Assembly quietly approved a bill allowing internet censorship

      189 members of the National Assembly reportedly voted in favour of the regulation of the distribution of online content, with 35 against and no abstentions.

      While government said that this move will help protect children from sexually explicit material, curb hate speech and revenge porn, opposing Members of Parliament (MPs) have reportedly criticised the legislation as a bid to regulate the internet.

      The next step is for the bill to come before the National Council of Provinces for its approval before it can be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa to be signed into law. There has still not been any formal statement from the National Assembly or the Film and Publications Board.

    • Censorship Creep Is Setting In As Social Media Companies Try To Stay Ahead Of European Lawmakers

      Law professor Danielle Citron — best known at Techdirt for her attacks on Section 230 immunity — has written a paper attacking Google, Facebook, etc., but not for the reasons you might think. Her paper [PDF] points out policy changes that have been made by several tech companies not in response to users or US government activity, but to get out ahead of increasing regulatory pressure in Europe. In the recent past, these platforms routinely defended the rights of everyone around the world to engage in free speech, even if that meant offending local governments. Now, with the internet headed towards enforced Balkanization backed by hefty fines, US companies are now routinely engaging in preemptive censorship of content perfectly legal in the US (and arguably legal elsewhere).

    • Reps. Hoyer, Price and Schneider: Poland’s Censorship Law Ignores Its History and Undermines Its Future

      In recent months, we have seen a dramatic and troubling rise in anti-Semitism across the globe. Even more alarming, it has spread after being promoted by leaders of far-right parties. Just this week, Vladimir Putin absurdly suggested that Jews could be behind his government’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. Comments like these make clear that the world needs to be vigilant against anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions, and to strengthen democratic institutions around the world. That’s why we are deeply concerned by Poland’s new Holocaust censorship law. We are calling on President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the National Assembly to repeal the law.

    • Mixed ruling issued in Facebook nude art ‘censorship’ case

      A French court ruled Thursday that Facebook failed to fulfil its contractual obligations by closing without prior notice the account of a user who posted a photo of a famous 19th century nude painting.

      But the Paris civil court also refused to order the company to restore the account or pay damages as requested by the user, a primary school teacher and art lover. The court said no damages were warranted because he didn’t prove any harm suffered due to the account’s closure and there was no need to order the account reopened because he was able to set up a new account immediately.

    • French court throws out Facebook ‘censorship’ case

      A French court on Thursday dismissed a case brought by a French teacher who wanted to sue the US social media giant over his claims that his page was censored when he posted a nude painting by Gustave Courbet.

      The Paris appeal court in December 2016 upheld a ruling that Facebook could be sued under French and not Californian law.

    • French court throws out Facebook nude art ‘censorship’ case
    • French court makes mixed ruling in Courbet ‘censorship’ case
    • Google Resists Becoming Digital ‘Town Square’ in Censorship Spat

      Conservatives have fretted for months that Google, Twitter and Facebook use their power to stifle politically charged content. Now it’s a judge’s turn to weigh in.

      Google is seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit by a nonprofit maker of informational online videos called Prager University, which accuses the Alphabet Inc. unit of illegally restricting access on YouTube to its conservative messages.

      Silicon Valley’s social media giants are under attack from both the left and the right for not doing enough to police hate speech, terrorist propaganda and Russian election meddling. At the same time, conservatives including U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas have questioned whether the increasing use of filters to restrict content has gone too far and threatens speech that isn’t dangerous.

    • Hooker Sign Should Be Used For Teaching, Not Censorship

      State Rep. Michelle DuBois of Brockton says the sign is “tone deaf” and “patriarchal,” and wants it changed to include the general’s first name or taken down.


      There are all sorts of benign words in our language that sound like words unfit for polite company. And they offer us an opportunity to teach snickering kids about Civil War history or outer space – and about showing respect for others while avoiding making fools of ourselves.

      We will never erase casual immaturity from our culture, but we can make it a trigger for knowledge and understanding, if we put down the erasers and take up the challenge.

    • Mulled EU copyright shakeup will turn us into robo-censors – GitHub

      Code-repository GitHub has raised the alarm about a pending European copyright proposal could force it to implement automated filtering systems – referred to by detractors as “censorship machines” – that would hinder developers working with free and open source software.

      The proposal, part of Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive from 2016, has been working its way through the legislative process.

      In a blog post on Wednesday GitHub explained that the shakeup was designed to address the perception that there’s a “value gap” between the money streaming-media platforms make from uploaded content and what content creators actually get paid.

    • FSW essay (3rd): Rising above censorship

      Our founders could not have foreseen the current political climate, one in which the media is constantly mocked and derided by government officials and their supporters, but this may be why they placed the freedom of the press so prominently in the Bill of Rights – to prevent the media from being censored or scorned.

      The First Amendment grants us the rights that we take for granted everyday: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”


      People deserve to have a working knowledge of the world around them, and the freedom of the press allows someone, every day, to become informed.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Senator Wyden Asks NSA Director Nominee the Right Questions

      Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the new nominee to direct the NSA, faced questions Thursday from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about how he would lead the spy agency. One committee member, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), asked the nominee if he and his agency could avoid the mistakes of the past, and refuse to participate in any new, proposed spying programs that would skirt the law and violate Americans’ constitutional rights.

      “In 2001, then-President Bush directed the NSA to conduct an illegal, warrantless wiretapping program. Neither the public nor the full intelligence committee learned about this program until it was revealed in the press,” Wyden said. Wyden, who was a member of the committee in 2001, said he personally learned about the NSA surveillance program—which bypassed judicial review required from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court—by reading about it in the newspaper.

    • Madison Square Garden has been secretly scanning visitors’ faces

      They use cameras to capture images of people and then run the photos through an algorithm that can compare them against a database of images.

    • Madison Square Garden Has Used Face-Scanning Technology on Customers

      It is unclear when the face-scanning system was installed. The people familiar with the Garden’s use of the technology, who were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about it, said they did not know how many events at the Garden in recent months have used it or how the data has been handled.


      “I should know if I am being subject to facial recognition if I am going into any business, including a stadium,” he said. “Even if you are just running my face against a list of people who have been banned from the premises and doing nothing else with it. I want to know. I have a right to know.”

    • Maryland Court System Arbitrarily Decides Public Should No Longer Have Access To Police Officers’ Names

      Supposedly completely of its own volition, Maryland’s court system has decided to extend extra rights to law enforcement officers. Going to bat for opacity, the Maryland Judiciary has made it harder for the public to find out what officers are doing (or how often they’re being sued). This comes against a backdrop where more sunlight would seem essential, what with several Baltimore police officers facing corruption charges in a wide-ranging investigation that has already netted a handful of convictions and guilty pleas.

    • Maryland Judiciary defends decision to remove police officers’ names from public online court database

      Maryland’s Judiciary on Friday defended a decision to remove the names of police officers and other law enforcement authorities from the state’s searchable public online court database, saying the change was made in response to “safety concerns raised by law enforcement.”

      The change took effect Thursday, following a decision by a judicial rules committee last June. Officers’ names no longer appear on cases they were involved with, and searches using an officer’s name cannot be performed.

      The judiciary did not answer questions about removing officers’ names but said in a statement that it reflected a balance of “the public’s interest in access to court information with our equally important obligation to protect personal identifying information about potential misuse.”

    • Unanimous Support in Berkeley for Community Control of Spy Tech

      Berkeley’s City Council voted unanimously this week to pass the Surveillance Technology and Community Safety Ordinance into law. (This is an earlier draft of the ordinance. We’ll update this link when the approved version is published.) Berkeley joins Santa Clara County (which adopted a similar law in June of 2016) in showing the way for the rest of California. In addition to considerable and unopposed spoken support during the public comment portion of the hearing, Mayor Jesse Arreguín reported that he and the City Council had received almost 200 letters and emails asking for the law to be adopted.

      EFF has long supported this ordinance. During this week’s public comment, Jason Kelley spoke not only as EFF’s digital strategist but as a local resident and community member. He shared that “my friends and I—many of whom live here—are concerned that surveillance tech might be purchased and used without proper oversight.”

      The ordinance, part of a nationwide effort to require community control of police surveillance, will address the concerns Kelley and so many in the community share. The new law will require that before acquiring surveillance technology, city departments submit use policies and acquisition reports detailing what will be acquired and how it works. These reports must also outline potential impacts on civil liberties and civil rights as well as steps to ensure adequate security measures safeguarding the data collected or generated.

    • German Lawyers Call For Their Profession’s Bug-Ridden, Soon-To-Be Mandatory, Email System To Be Open Sourced

      Given the sensitive nature of their work, lawyers need to take particular care when communicating online. One way to address this — quite reasonable, in theory — is to create a dedicated system with strong security built in. That’s the route being taken by Germany’s Federal Bar Association (Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer — BRAK) with its “besondere elektronisches Anwaltspostfach” (special electronic mailbox for lawyers, or beA). However, the reality has not matched the theory, and beA has been plagued with serious security problems.

    • Judge Postpones Trial of Woman Charged With Leaking Secrets

      Authorities haven’t described the document. Winner’s arrest was announced the same day The Intercept reported on a classified NSA report on Russian hackers and the 2016 election.

    • Suspect in leak of Russian cyberattack report faces tough legal battle

      Just thinking about the prosecution here in Georgia of Reality Winner for a National Security Agency leak triggers “major flashbacks” for Thomas Drake.

      Seven years ago, Drake – a former senior NSA official — walked out of federal court a free man after the government, on the eve of his trial, dropped 10 charges accusing him of leaking classified information about fraud, waste and abuse in NSA surveillance programs to The Baltimore Sun.

    • Judge Postpones Trial of Former NSA Contractor Reality Winner

      A federal judge has postponed the trial of a woman charged with leaking U.S. secrets to a news outlet.

      Former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner is now scheduled to stand trial Oct. 15. Her trial was to start next week before U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Epps ordered the change Thursday.

      The delay allows more time for pretrial motions. Also pending is a ruling by the judge on whether Winner’s confession to FBI agents can be used as evidence.

      Winner worked for the national security contractor Pluribus International at Fort Gordon in Georgia when she was charged last June with mailing a classified U.S. report to an unidentified news organization.

      Authorities haven’t described the document. Winner’s arrest was announced the same day The Intercept reported on a classified NSA report on Russian hackers and the 2016 election.

      Before it’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg Terminal.
      Have a confidential news tip?
      Get in touch with our reporters.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Some States No Longer Suspend Driver’s Licenses for Unpaid Fines. Will Illinois Join Them?

      Legislators across the country are starting to rethink laws that tie driving privileges to the ability to pay fines, as evidence mounts that those laws disproportionately hurt poor and minority motorists.

      That’s beginning to happen, too, in Illinois, where state lawmakers introduced a bill last month — after a similar bill last year was unsuccessful — to end license suspensions for unpaid parking tickets.

      The legislation likely will face its biggest opposition from the City of Chicago, which generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually from tickets and uses the threat of license suspensions as leverage against indebted drivers. Ticket debt sends thousands of motorists into bankruptcy each year, ProPublica Illinois reported last month.

    • ICE Is Illegally Imprisoning Asylum Seekers

      Under Trump, asylum seekers are being illegally locked up without due process.

      Ansly Damus has been locked up for one year, four months, and counting. Held behind bars by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he has not been outside for more than a year. His crime? In October 2016, Damus fled violent, political persecution in Haiti. When he arrived in the U.S., he presented himself to immigration authorities and applied for asylum. He passed his “credible fear” interview. And then a judge granted him asylum — not once, but twice.

      Damus committed no crime, and yet the U.S. government has put him behind bars. He’s not alone — thousands of other asylum seekers are also being held in jails across the country.

    • As Trump Nominates Torture Boss To Head CIA, Congresswoman Suggests It’s Sympathizing With Terrorists To Question Her Appointment

      As you’ve probably heard, with the latest in the neverending rotating cast of characters that makes up the current Trump administration, a set of dominoes has been knocked over with the tweeted firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the nomination of CIA boss (and former Congressional Rep/longtime defender of surveillance and torture) Mike Pompeo to replace him. While Pompeo was a vocal supporter of the CIA’s torture program, he didn’t actually have any hand in running it. Instead, that distinction goes to Gina Haspel, whom Trump has nominated to take Pompeo’s place. Haspel not only oversaw the CIA’s torture program, she was also directly involved with the destruction of the video tapes showing the torture procedures. The still classified 6,700 page Senate report on the program apparently contains a lot of details about the program that Haspel ran. Annabelle Timsit has helpfully pulled together some details of what is currently known from the heavily redacted declassified executive summary (you may recall we spent years writing about the fight to just release that summary). What’s stunning is that the program that Haspel oversaw so disgusted CIA employees that some were at the “point of tears and choking up” and multiple people on site asked to be moved to other locations if the CIA was going to continue these torture techniques.

    • The Asylum Seekers Who Were Locked Up by ICE for No Reason

      These asylum seekers fled violence and persecution abroad, only to be illegally jailed in the United States.

      The Trump administration’s decision to indefinitely lock up asylum-seekers, instead of releasing them on humanitarian parole while their cases are decided, is ruining lives across the country. It’s estimated that more than 1,000 asylum seekers have been denied release in the five ICE districts named in our lawsuit alone.

      Before arriving at the U.S. border, our clients led lives that were strikingly different from one another. These men and women represent five different countries; some are teenagers and some are grandparents. Before they were “asylum seekers,” they were teachers, software engineers, drivers, and students.

      But at some point, all of them encountered a level of danger so great that it forced them to flee their homes and countries. They arrived to the United States looking for safety.

    • Beaten, Tased, and Arrested for Jaywalking While Black

      Racial bias in policing reared its head in North Carolina when officers used excessive force on a Black man for jaywalking.

      Johnnie Rush, a Black resident of Asheville, North Carolina, was brutalized by police simply for jaywalking late at night. His story is yet another in the seemingly endless, endemic tragedy of police violence against people of color. Unlike many of those, it was all caught on video.

      Rush was walking home after a 13-hour shift washing dishes at a local restaurant when he was approached by two white police officers. It was after midnight, and one of the officers told Rush that he failed to use the crosswalk.

    • Clock Runs Out On Perjury Charges For James Clapper, Ensuring He Won’t Be Punished For Lying To Congress

      It almost seems like half a lifetime ago, but only a half-decade has passed since James Clapper lied to Ron Wyden about the NSA’s domestic collections. Wyden pointedly asked Clapper during an intelligence committee hearing whether or not the NSA was collecting “any type of data at all” on American citizens. Clapper gave two answers, both untrue: “No, sir” and “Not wittingly.”

      A couple of months later, the first Snowden leak — detailing massive amounts of call data being captured in the Section 215 dragnet — undid Clapper’s careful, under-oath lies. Since then, nothing has happened. The DOJ refused to investigate Clapper for lying to his oversight. Clapper exited office a few years later, becoming a go-to national security expert for a variety of news programs. He has since offered a variety of excuses for lying, but none of them are particularly good.

    • Declassify CIA Director Nominee’s Role in Torture, Rights Groups Demand

      As the CIA begins to defend its possible next director, civil liberties groups are urging the Senate to halt Gina Haspel’s nomination “until all the records on her past involvement in the CIA torture program are declassified and released to the public,” according to a Friday letter sent to Capitol Hill and provided to The Daily Beast.

      The letter, part of an emerging strategy to fight Haspel that The Daily Beast reported Wednesday, highlights the lack of clarity—mostly the result of aggressive CIA classification—over aspects of Haspel’s time overseeing torture at a “black site” secret prison in Thailand in 2002. The version seen by The Daily Beast, a draft, was signed by 29 civil-liberties groups, including the ACLU, Reprieve, Physicians for Human Rights and the Sunlight Foundation, though more may sign on.

    • UN Says Facebook Is Complicit In The Spread Of Anti-Muslim Hate In Myanmar

      The UN has decided it’s possibly Facebook’s fault things are going so badly in Myanmar. Muslims have been fleeing the country in droves thanks to Myanmar security forces engaging in widespread acts of violence (including rape) against them, urged on by hardline nationalist monks.

      For all intents and purposes, Facebook is Myanmar’s internet. Loosening of restrictions on social media access has resulted in a large portion of the population getting all their news (along with all the hate speech the UN is complaining about) via the social media giant. The UN is looking into genocide accusations but has decided to speak up against Facebook first.

    • Federal Judges Says ATF Stash House Stings Are Useless And Ugly

      A chief federal judge in Chicago has handed down a scathing opinion calling ATF stash house stings an “ends justifies the means” evil that needs to be “relegated to the dark corridors of our past.” The opinion shuts the door on two defendants hoping to show the ATF’s fake robberies of fake stash houses filled with fake drugs were racially-biased, but it does show even without the taint of bias, the sting operations are exploitative and useless.

    • The FBI — ‘Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity’ — Still Working on Diversity

      For the FBI, the longstanding failure to diversify its ranks is nothing short of “a huge operational risk,” according to one senior official, something that compromises the agency’s ability to understand communities at risk, penetrate criminal enterprises, and identify emerging national security threats.

      Indeed, 10 months before being fired as director of the FBI by President Trump, James Comey called the situation a “crisis.”

      “Slowly but steadily over the last decade or more, the percentage of special agents in the FBI who are white has been growing,” Comey said in a speech at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black school in Daytona Beach, Florida. “I’ve got nothing against white people — especially tall, awkward, male white people — but that is a crisis for reasons that you get, and that I’ve worked very hard to make sure the entire FBI understands.”

    • Jacksonville Sheriff Admits Race May Have Played a Role in Ticket Writing

      Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said this week that “implicit bias” likely played some role in the fact that disproportionate numbers of pedestrian tickets written by his officers in recent years went to blacks.

      ProPublica and the Florida Times-Union in 2017 reported that 55 percent of pedestrian tickets written over a recent five-year period were issued to blacks despite the fact they made up just 29 percent of the local population.

      Williams and his office said at the time that blacks had not been targeted in the enforcement of pedestrian violations.

      The Times-Union had reporters at the forum this week in Jacksonville during which Williams made his statement about implicit bias.

    • Leaked Documents Expose NYPD’s Long-Running Lack Of Officer Discipline

      Buzzfeed has obtained files the NYPD never wanted the public to see. This isn’t the result of a protracted public records battle, but rather the work of an anonymous whistleblower. Presumably, those further up the chain of command are already familiar with the department’s disinterest in holding officers accountable, so there’s no whistleblowing outlet there. Also, presumably, the Civilian Complaint Review Board’s hands are tied and it cannot hand out disciplinary reports for officers never formally disciplined. So, leak it is. And what a leak it is.

    • Secret NYPD Files: Officers Can Lie And Brutally Beat People — And Still Keep Their Jobs

      Secret files obtained by BuzzFeed News reveal that from 2011 to 2015 at least 319 New York Police Department employees who committed offenses serious enough to merit firing were allowed to keep their jobs.

      Many of the officers lied, cheated, stole, or assaulted New York City residents. At least fifty employees lied on official reports, under oath, or during an internal affairs investigation. Thirty-eight were found guilty by a police tribunal of excessive force, getting into a fight, or firing their gun unnecessarily. Fifty-seven were guilty of driving under the influence. Seventy-one were guilty of ticket-fixing. One officer, Jarrett Dill, threatened to kill someone. Another, Roberson Tunis, sexually harassed and inappropriately touched a fellow officer. Some were guilty of lesser offenses, like mouthing off to a supervisor.

      At least two dozen of these employees worked in schools. Andrew Bailey was found guilty of touching a female student on the thigh and kissing her on the cheek while she was sitting in his car. In a school parking lot, while he was supposed to be on duty, Lester Robinson kissed a woman, removed his shirt, and began to remove his pants. And Juan Garcia, while off duty, illegally sold prescription medication to an undercover officer.

    • It’s Time to Make Voting More Accessible and Secure in Michigan

      Recently, I visited Alabama with the Faith and Politics Institute for Congressman John Lewis’ Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage. We visited civil rights monuments in Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama, before heading to Selma to commemorate Bloody Sunday. As we reflected on the rights that were so bravely fought for on that Sunday decades ago, we recognized that the fight continues on across the country. In Michigan, we’re taking the fight to the ballot and aiming to ensure all can vote. We want to make voting more accessible, secure, and fair for all Michiganders.

      Earlier this year, the ACLU of Michigan, along with the NAACP and League of Women Voters, launched the Promote the Vote, a ballot measure campaign that would secure the right to vote for all eligible voters in Michigan. This initiative would amend the state constitution to allow voters to register at any time — up to and including on Election Day; automatically register voters; require post-election audits; expand access to absentee ballots; allow for straight-ticket party voting; and ensure those in the military get their ballots with enough time to vote. Our goal is to put the amendment on the ballot this November.

    • Racism in the Office

      Today I was at an office party and the conversation turned to race, specifically the incidence of unarmed Afro-American men and boys who are shot by police. Apparently the idea that white people (even in other countries) might treat non-white people badly offends some people, so we had a man try to explain that Afro-Americans commit more crime and therefore are more likely to get shot. This part of the discussion isn’t even noteworthy, it’s the sort of thing that happens all the time.

      I and another man pointed out that crime is correlated with poverty and racism causes non-white people to be disproportionately poor. We also pointed out that US police seem capable of arresting proven violent white criminals without shooting them (he cited arrests of Mafia members I cited mass murderers like the one who shot up the cinema). This part of the discussion isn’t particularly noteworthy either. Usually when someone tries explaining some racist ideas and gets firm disagreement they back down. But not this time.

      The next step was the issue of whether black people are inherently violent. He cited all of Africa as evidence. There’s a meme that you shouldn’t accuse someone of being racist, it’s apparently very offensive. I find racism very offensive and speak the truth about it. So all the following discussion was peppered with him complaining about how offended he was and me not caring (stop saying racist things if you don’t want me to call you racist).

      Next was an appeal to “statistics” and “facts”. He said that he was only citing statistics and facts, clearly not understanding that saying “Africans are violent” is not a statistic. I told him to get his phone and Google for some statistics as he hadn’t cited any. I thought that might make him just go away, it was clear that we were long past the possibility of agreeing on these issues. I don’t go to parties seeking out such arguments, in fact I’d rather avoid such people altogether if possible.


      As I was getting ready to leave the man said that he thought he didn’t explain things well because he was tipsy. I disagree, I think he explained some things very well. When someone goes to such extraordinary lengths to criticise all black people after a discussion of white cops killing unarmed black people I think it shows their character. But I did offer some friendly advice, “don’t drink with people you work with or for or any other people you want to impress”, I suggested that maybe quitting alcohol altogether is the right thing to do if this is what it causes. But he still thought it was wrong of me to call him racist, and I still don’t care. Alcohol doesn’t make anyone suddenly think that black people are inherently dangerous (even when unarmed) and therefore deserving of being shot by police (disregarding the fact that police can take members of the Mafia alive). But it does make people less inhibited about sharing such views even when it’s clear that they don’t have an accepting audience.


      I think the fact that this debate happened says something about Australian and British culture. This man apparently hadn’t had people push back on such ideas before.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • California Introduces New, Tougher Net Neutrality Rules; Uses Ajit Pai’s Abdication Of Authority Against The FCC

      Earlier this year, California introduced new net neutrality legislation as part of similar efforts across more than half the states in the nation. At the time, we noted how the EFF wasn’t a particular fan of California’s proposal, arguing that the wording of the effort left the law open to challenges by the FCC, which has (at AT&T and Comcast behest) promised to block states that actually try to protect consumers in the wake of its unpopular net neutrality repeal. But a new California proposal has no such Achilles heel, goes notably further than the first effort, and now has the EFF’s full support.

      California state senator Scott Wiener this week introduced SB 822, a much tougher, more comprehensive proposal that would prohibit not only the blocking and throttling of websites and services by ISPs, but would ban “paid prioritization” deals that would allow deep-pocketed content companies (like, say, ESPN) from buying an unfair advantage against smaller competitors and startups. The bill also takes aim at the kind of interconnection shenanigans and double dipping that resulted in Netflix performance issues back in 2014, while leaving the door open to reasonable network management practices.

    • Calif. weighs toughest net neutrality law in US—with ban on paid zero-rating [iophk: "better ban unpaid zero-rating too"]

      “The [California] bill prohibits ISPs from blocking, speeding up or slowing down websites, applications, and services; charging online companies for access to an ISP’s customers and blocking those that do not pay; and from entering into deals with online companies to put them in a fast lane to the ISP’s customers,” van Schewick wrote today.

      Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) consulted with van Schewick on technical matters before introducing the legislation text yesterday. The bill has 14 other coauthors from the state Assembly and Senate.

    • The “Grand Challenges” of Curation and Preservation

      The two main aspects of curation in this space are selection, and adding value by enhancing metadata, both human activities that don’t scale.


      Preservation happens in three phases; ingest, preservation and dissemination:

    • Ex-DOJ Officials Raise Trump, AT&T Merger Interference Concerns

      Last fall, the Department of Justice announced it would be suing to block AT&T’s $86 billion acquisition of Time Warner. According to the DOJ, it sued to block the lawsuit to protect consumers, arguing that the deal would likely make it harder for streaming competitors to license the content they need to compete with AT&T (especially HBO programming). Consumer advocates have long argued that AT&T (with its decade of well-documented and often comedic anti-consumer behavior in tow) would simply use its greater leverage and power to hamstring competition and jack up rates for consumers (especially with net neutrality dying).

      While some have argued that the DOJ is simply following antitrust protocol, others (including AT&T lawyers) think the lawsuit is driven by other motivations.

      That’s not a hard case to make given the Trump administration’s anti-consumer, anti-innovation, and anti-competition tendencies on other fronts (like net neutrality). Trump’s pick to head the DOJ’s antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, was also on record, before joining the DOJ, stating he saw no real problems with the deal. Meanwhile Trump’s disdain for Time Warner-owned CNN is also well established, and reports have indicated that Trump pal Rupert Murdoch spent much of last year trying to scuttle the deal for competitive reasons (Muroch has also approached AT&T twice about buying CNN).

    • Internet Wins, And The Need To Appreciate What We’ve Got Before It’s Gone

      It’s become quite fashionable these days to gripe about the Internet. Even some of its staunchest allies in Congress have been getting cranky. Naturally there are going to be growing pains as humanity adapts to the unprecedented ability for billions of people to communicate with each other easily, cheaply, and immediately for the first time in world history. But this communications revolution has also brought some extraordinary benefits that we glibly risk when we forget about them and instead only focus the challenges. This glass is way more than half full but, if we’re not careful to protect it, soon it will be empty.

  • DRM
    • ‘Serious Sam’ Developer Teams Up With Denuvo Cracker To Pump Up Sales For Failed Game

      In all of our conversations about video game piracy and the DRM that studios and publishers use to try to stave it off, the common refrain from those within in the industry and others is that these cracking groups are nearly nihilism personified. Nothing is sacred to these people, goes the mantra, and they care nothing for the gaming industry at all. If the gaming industry is destroyed, it will be because of these pirate-y pirates simply not giving a damn.

      This notion is belied by the story of Crackshell, makers of indie spinoff of the Serious Sam franchise called Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour, and Voksi, an individual that runs a game-cracking ring. Voksi has been featured in our pages before as one of the few people out there who has been able to consistently defeat the Denuvo DRM, helping propel the software’s precipitous fall from grace. If a game developer and a game-cracker seem to be natural enemies, it will come as a surprise to you that they have recently teamed up to try to resurrect Bogus Detour from the bin of failure.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • The protection of genetic resources, traditional resources and folklore 35 meetings later…

      In a few days it will be time for the next meeting (the 35th one in fact) of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore. Between the 19th and the 23rd of March, the members of the Intergovernmental Committee will convene in Geneva to discuss issues related to the protection of traditional knowledge, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions. (This body is a WIPO Intergovernmental Committee with the mandate to conduct text-based negotiations for the adoption of legal instruments for the protection

    • Copyrights
      • US Navy Accused Of Massive Amounts Of Piracy By German Software Company

        We’ve made the point for a long time that, on a long enough timeline, pretty much everybody is a pirate. The point is that the way copyright laws have evolved alongside such useful tools as the internet makes knowing whether common sense actions are actually copyright infringement an incredibly dicey riddle to solve. Often times without even trying, members of the public engage in infringing activities, up to and including the President of the United States.

        And, it appears, up to and including entire branches of the United States military, though claims of accidental infringement in this case would appear to be rather silly. Bitmanagement, a German software company that produces virtual reality software, is accusing the US Navy of what can only be described as massive levels of copyright infringement.

      • Blind Users Celebrate as Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Bill Drops

        Today the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Bill was introduced into Congress by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bob Corker (R-TN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The bill implements the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled, a landmark treaty that was adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in June 2013, and has since been ratified by 37 other countries. The treaty is notable in that it is the first WIPO treaty passed primarily for a disadvantaged class of users, rather than for the benefit of copyright holders.

        When passed, the bill will allow those who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise reading disabled (for example, being unable to pick up and turn the pages of a book) to make free use of written works in accessible formats such as braille, large print, or audiobook. Although similar provisions were already part of U.S. law, the amendments made by this bill slightly broadens the class of beneficiaries who were eligible for access to such works.

Deleted EPO Tweets and Promotion of Software Patents Amid Complaints About Abuse and Demise of Patent Quality

Friday 16th of March 2018 07:49:11 PM

Tweet deleted (although everything was in tact)

Summary: Another ordinary day at the EPO with repressions of workforce, promotion of patents that aren’t even allowed, and Team UPC failing to get its act together

THE EPO has been censoring its staff quite a lot lately. We’ve just reported some more SLAPP against the media and in recent weeks we wrote about EPO management muzzling representatives.

“We are assuming that many examiners already understand the connection/correlation/overlap with the UPC; firms that are connected to patent trolls don’t mind declines in patent quality.”In spite of this growingly toxic atmosphere, staff found the courage to speak out against EPO policies. It spoke out about patent quality declines. After we had heard about it we posted the original petition (yesterday morning) and last night we complained that only two sites had covered it. There’s now a 3rd article, this one from World Intellectual Property Review (SUEPO now lists all 3).

To quote:

A petition submitted by 924 patent examiners has claimed that quality of the European Patent Office (EPO) patent is endangered by the demands of current management.

The petition was sent as a letter to the Administrative Council (AC), the EPO’s supervisory body, ahead of its meeting later this month.

“We are far too often put in front of the dilemma of either working according to the European Patent Convention and respecting the examiner’s guidelines, or issuing ‘products’ as our hierarchy demands,” said the petition.

We are assuming that many examiners already understand the connection/correlation/overlap with the UPC; firms that are connected to patent trolls don’t mind declines in patent quality*. In fact, to them it might as well be desirable. Their staff has promoted software patents for a long time. One such firm, Bristows, stands out. For the third time in a month Bristows messed up its own site (earlier today). This firm is so incompetent that it published a page that just says “Edward” and that’s it. It also posted another “Test” page and left it in tact. So their legal advice is as bad as their technical skills; they don’t know how to use their Web site, having published 3 posts in error (in just 15 minutes today). And that’s the third time in a month. As before, hours later the mess got cleaned up.

“It’s like giving a person a money-printing machine only for that person to endlessly produce and thus devalue cash. Same for patents.”More curious, however, was today’s EPO tweet about contracts in the Netherlands because the EPO later deleted this tweet, shortly after I had said: “Reminder: the EPO burned contractors there and Battistelli also ‘stole’ money…”

Why was their tweet deleted after that? Separately, the EPO carried on boasting/bragging about the number of granted monopolies. It’s like giving a person a money-printing machine only for that person to endlessly produce and thus devalue cash. Same for patents. I told them: “It’s not a competition, you know? Besides, these are low-quality patents, say EPO insiders…”

It was then that the EPO also promoted software patents using the “4IR” buzzword (Battistelli and IAM have already admitted that this is what the term stands for). It’s the new “CII”.
* Trolls rarely need to even have their patents tested in a court (they target the vulnerable, hoping for a settlement off the record). They just need a patent granted, sometimes then sold, and the ‘protection’ racket can begin.

Guest Post: Suspected “Whitewashing” Operations by Željko Topić in Croatia

Friday 16th of March 2018 06:58:13 PM

Summary: Articles about EPO Vice-President Željko Topić are disappearing and sources indicate that it’s a result of yet more SLAPP from him

Readers of Techrights will be aware that Željko Topić has been engaged in "whitewashing" operations for some time now.

As far as is known, these efforts started with a surreal “Apology” issued by the Croatian freelance blogger/journalist Željko Peratović in December 2014 under circumstances which have never been clarified.

Peratović announced that he had withdrawn the English language version of his article “A wrong Man sitting at the EPO?” which had originally been published on his blog on 24 June 2013.

However, archived copies of this article exist and can be accessed for example via the “Wayback Machine” using the now-defunct original URL. Another archived copy can be found here.

What is also interesting is that a version of the article in Croatian published by the Croatian news portal Metro and bearing Peratović’s name remains online.

It seems that the purpose of the “Apology” by Peratović was to make the English language version of the story disappear.

More recently it has been noticed that a number of articles about Topić published by Croatian media have mysteriously gone “offline”.

For example:

Archived copies of some of these articles are still accessible online via the Wayback Machine or other archives, e.g. [1, 2]

The circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the published articles about Topić have not yet been clarified, but there seems to be a connection with his SLAPP activities in Croatia.

Sources in Zagreb have indicated that he has filed lawsuits against some online news portals and then agreed to withdraw the lawsuits on the condition that the portals suppressed their online publications about his alleged misconduct as Director of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office.

This trick seems to have worked in some cases. However, a number of Croatian media outlets such as and appear to have been more resistant as their published articles are still freely accessible online.

One question which remains unanswered is whether EPO funds have been used to finance these “whitewashing” operations. But it is unlikely that this question will be answered any time soon — if at all.

Monumental Effort to Highlight Decline in Quality of European Patents (a Quarter of Examiners Sign Petition in Spite of Fear), Yet Barely Any Press Coverage

Thursday 15th of March 2018 11:24:35 PM

Reference: Media blackout

Summary: The media in Europe continues to be largely apathetic towards the EPO crisis, instead relaying a bunch of press releases and doctored figures from the EPO; only blogs that closely follow EPO scandals bothered mentioning the new petition

EARLY in the day we found and then posted the petition of EPO workers, who basically rebel against the management's policy. Some readers had told us about it before we found a copy. “924 EPO examiners send petition to the Administrative Council,” one of them told us. “They are not allowed to work [according] to the EPC.”

Later in the day The Register covered it and then came IPPro Patents with the report titled “Quarter of EPO examiners sign petition against product targets” (neither has been listed by SUEPO today, but maybe it’s just a matter of time). To quote from the latter:

Nearly 1000 European Patent Office (EPO) examiners have signed a petition to warn the office’s administrative council that the quality of patents at the EPO is “endangered by the demands of current management”.

According to the petition and accompanying letter, which was sent by the EPO’s Central Staff Committee (CSC) to the delegates of the administrative council and EPO president Benoît Battistelli, the “issue of quality at the EPO is becoming every day more pregnant”.

The petition’s text reads: “We, examiners of the EPO, 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.”

The group said that products should not be the “only criteria to assess the office and examiners performance, but that attention should be paid to providing a high level of presumption of validity to the patents we grant”.

Products are granted for a few actions that a patent examiner is expected to perform: a patent search, a patent grant, or a patent refusal.

Examiners are awarded points, which determine whether employees have reached their individual and collective targets.

The original text could be found in this morning’s post of ours. Where is IP Kat? What about IP Watch? Nothing. Two days ago IP Watch posted another piece for patent lawyers who had previously complained about PACE. Sometimes we wonder what happened to the “watch” in “IP Watch” because they amplify press releases/articles from patent maximalists, too. Are they going to also amplify Mingorance, who called patent rationalists "freeriders" some months ago and days ago pushed out this press release? It’s about putting patents inside standards (again):

Commenting on the outcome, Francisco Mingorance, Executive Secretary of IP Europe…

Unfortunately, not a single large press outlet (maybe except The Register) is covering this petition. The Register is focused on technology (there’s also no printed version) and only one patents-focused blog wrote about the petition.

Here we have patent maximalists in the US commenting on the Enlarged Board of Appeal, having never covered any of the EPO scandals. Ever. Sophie Blake wrote:

The Enlarged Board of Appeal has now released its written decision in respect of G 1/16 (T 0437/14). This decision resolves the question regarding which standard is to be applied to determine whether an “undisclosed disclaimer” in a patent claim introduces added subject-matter (that is, it contravenes Article 123(2) EPC).

Previously G 1/03 and G 2/10 have both addressed issues regarding added subject-matter of disclaimers; this is therefore the third Enlarged Board of Appeal decision to be issued in just over a decade on this subject, which perhaps gives an indication of how contentious an issue the allowability of introducing disclaimers into patent claims is seen to be at the EPO.

They find a lot of time to write about the Enlarged Board of Appeal (or Boards of Appeal in general), but never time/space for the ongoing crisis.

The petition must have taken a lot of effort and money; based on the few reports about it (2 so far), some of this predates the increase in ‘production’ targets, hence it goes back at least 3-4 months. Why is the media so apathetic to so colossal a crisis which jeopardises Europe’s future?

Careful Not to Conflate UPC Critics With AfD or Anti-EU Elements

Thursday 15th of March 2018 10:51:47 PM

AfD is no friend; in fact, it quite likely harms UPC sceptics’ cause

Reference: The enemy of my enemy is my friend

Summary: The tyrannical Unified Patent Court (UPC) is being spun as something that only fascists would oppose after the right-wing, anti-EU politicians in Germany express strong opposition to it

EARLIER this month we learned about AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) walking into the UPC debate. It wasn’t going to be a helpful intervention because, as we noted the other day, we assumed that Team UPC would say things (publicly or behind the scenes) like, “are you against the UPC? What are you, with AfD or something?”

For readers who aren’t familiar with AfD, look it up. It’s not nice and it’s likely a lot worse than UKIP in the UK. As a reader recently told us, if you want something to die in politics, then you simply associate it with AfD. Some prominent people from Team UPC already refer to it publicly as “alt right”, which isn’t far from labeling it “nazi”.

“As a reader recently told us, if you want something to die in politics, then you simply associate it with AfD.”Either way, earlier today Kluwer Patent blogger (likely Bristows) wrote this piece about the UPC complainant. It starts with discussion about the complainant and then lumps in the following paragraph: “Later today, the German Parliament will discuss a motion of the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), which is based on two of the arguments of the constitutional challenge. The AfD motion argues that the UPCA ratification bill did not have the requisite majority of two thirds of the members of the Bundestag and that UPC judges will not be independent since they are appointed by a panel which also includes attorneys at law and only for six years, and calls for the repeal of two acts concerning the Unified Patent Court and the Unitary Patent. The motion is not expected to get wide, if any support.”

Bristows’ Richard Pinckney then wrote in their own blog (which barely anyone reads) that “the Bundestag (German parliament) will debate later today the motion by the AfD (Alternative für Deutschland, Alternative for Germany) political party calling for the repeal of legislation enabling Germany to participate in the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and unitary patent system.”

“It’s as though they want Germans to believe that to support UPC is to oppose AfD. This was predictable.”This is how they prefer to frame this. It’s as though they want Germans to believe that to support UPC is to oppose AfD. This was predictable. Team UPC wrote some hours ago that the debate/motion was “[] Moved to 18:50 CET. [] AfD mentions constitutional complaint and indicates that complaint may be successful. Claims parliament should be the one rectifying the formal error of allegedly insufficient quorum. [] SPD submits AfD merely destructive, otherwise simply await judgment of Constitutional Ct, which may deal w t very issues. Bundestag had provided an opinion upon request of ConstCt concluding that Acts were in line with Constitution. [] Matter is referred to the relevant committees. Debate closed. Motion no chance of succeeding.”

Benjamin Henrion, a Belgian, wrote: “Listening to the UPC debate at the Bundestag, they all praise the EU while the UPC is not an EU instrument. Crazy to see they do not get the basics.”

Yes, these politicians hardly know what they talk about and what they support/oppose and sign/won’t sign. It’s pretty incredible and it’s worrying to see so-called ‘democracy’ being reduced to labels like “unitary”, “community”, “EU”, and “unified” (different incarnation of the same thing). In the US it sometimes seems like they pass bills based on the name/title of the bill rather than actual contents/substance.

This is why AfD’s involvement could prove to be toxic. Perhaps, at the end, all they’ll know about UPC is that AfD is against it. The question regarding UPC becomes whether one is pro- or anti-EU even if UPC isn’t the EU. One can be against Brexit and against UPC at the same time. Many are.

Speaking of Belgium, watch this incredibly incredulous tweet that the EPO retweeted some hours ago. “Patents and innovation are not the same thing,” I told them, and the EPO “is collapsing, [having] granted patents [that] are [of] bad quality…”

We already wrote about these figures that are cited. e.g. in:

The EPO later tweeted that for “[f]irst time in the @EPOorg ’s history, a Chinese company @Huawei ranked first for filing the most patent applications at the Office…”

Maybe that just serves to show that the EPO is becoming less about Europe and more about large corporations, including Huawei, a notoriously regime-connected corporation. Well, not that the EPO is so much different from China’s tyrannical government anymore, as we last explained this morning.

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

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

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

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

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

    • Defining the Spectrum of Cloud Deployment Technologies

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Shrinking the kernel with a hammer

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

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

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

    • Preventing kernel-stack leaks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Mesa 18.0 Is Now Primed For Releasing Soon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Uniform Packing For RadeonSI NIR, Helps Reduce CPU Overhead

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

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

      • Supporting virtual reality displays in Linux

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

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

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

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

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

      • Ubuntu 18.04 Versus Six Other Linux Distributions On AMD EPYC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Faster app-launching in Cinnamon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • 3 best practices for securing Kubernetes environments

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

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

    • HIPAA guidelines should evolve with wearable technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • The Novichok Story Is Indeed Another Iraqi WMD Scam

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

    • Trump Promotes Longtime Russia Hawk Just as Russiagate Loses Momentum

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

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

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

    • Google will purge cryptocurrency ads come June

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

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

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

    • How Amazon Became Corporate America’s Nightmare

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

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

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

    • WaPo Fails to Disclose Ownership in Puff Piece for Bezos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • COLUMN: Censorship coddles our young people

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Editorial: Government censorship increasing

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

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


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

    • Censorship is never the answer, Sadiq

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Prepare to be Creeped Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • What the Senate Needs to Know About Gina Haspel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Ombudsman greenlights ACMA proposed rules for telecoms consumer protection

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

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

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

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

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

      • Ravinia Festival Blocks Brewpub From Opening Over Trademark Claim

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

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

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

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

      • Brands are bulls**t

        Nobody cares.

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

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

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

      • Dolby Labs Sues Adobe For Copyright Infringement

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