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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 18 min 51 sec ago

Patents Roundup: Patent Litigation is Down and Seems to Have Shifted Away From Software Patents

Monday 23rd of July 2018 04:42:20 AM

Summary: A roundup of recent patent cases of interest and what can be deduced from them, especially but not exclusively in the United States

AS THE weeks and months go by we see the USPTO moving further and further away from software patents; it’s hardly a surprise that patent litigation has nosedived and many patent trolls have gone out of ‘business’ (they never had a legitimate business, only a litigation/extortion pipeline). Cemented by a long series of Federal Circuit decisions (especially in 2017) and a growing demand for Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), this trend carries on pretty much unabated. It has been pleasing to watch because we started campaigning on the matter a very long time ago, well over a decade.

Watchtroll has, at least to us, become somewhat of a laughing stock. It’s just attacking courts, attacking judges, and blaming everything on Google. 4 days ago it wrote about Jazz Pharmaceuticals and a Federal Circuit which we covered here before. This isn’t about Secrion 101. Neither is this other case covered by Watchtroll in relation to Power Integrations:

Power Integrations, Inc. owns U.S. Patent Nos. 6,212,079 (“the ‘079 patent”) and 6,538,908 (“the ‘908 patent”). Power Integrations sued Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation and Fairchild (Taiwan) Corporation (collectively “Fairchild”) for infringement.

Notice that these have nothing to do with software. It recently wrote about this rejection of a patent leading to accusations that a company had “committed fraud because it did not notify shareholders” (yes, fraud).

Watchtroll said:

Citron does not allege, and could not credibly allege, that the PolarityTE has been lying to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Nor did Citron allege subterfuge surround the technology or science underlying the patent application in question. Indeed, Citron specifically says in the report that they “will not discuss the science behind PolarityTE”. Instead, the astonishing claim is made that PolarityTE has committed fraud because it did not notify shareholders that the patent examiner issued a non-final rejection in a patent application.

This case, again, isn’t about software. Yesterday night Florian Müller wrote about Qualcomm (now in our latest daily links) after he had covered this latest twist in Huawei v Samsung — a case covered by him in recent months. To quote:

This week in Huawei v. Samsung delivered two more sethacks for the Chinese Android device maker and increasingly aggressive patent enforcer (I don’t want to call them a “patent bully” just yet, though it may be an appropriate label at a later stage).

First, he trial that Judge William H. Orrick will preside over in the Northern District of California in December is going to be far narrower, and potentially less impactful, than Huawei had hoped. As I had noted toward the end of this recent post, Huawei previously informed of the court of its willingness to withdraw its request for a declaratory judgment on worldwide FRAND licensing terms to its standard-essential patents, subject to an agreement with Samsung on the specifics. That agreement has indeed materialized, suggesting that Huawei saw a high risk of Judge Orrick throwing out the claim (whose dismissal Samsung was already formally seeking) at any rate. Instead of having to make a decision, Judge Orrick merely had to grant the parties’ stipulation of a dismissal that is formally without prejudice, allowing Huawei to try again, but only in a different case and not for at least nine months (this post continues below the document):

It certainly looks like Huawei is losing its momentum; its case against Samsung — like Apple’s cases — is becoming a “winner” only for patent lawyers.

Another new report, this one about a case in New York, has one party “seeking, inter alia, declaratory judgments of noninfringement and invalidity of U.S. Patent No. RE39,470, U.S. Patent No. 7,382,334, and U.S. Patent No. 6,430,603 (collectively, the “Patents-in-Suit”).”

Here are the details:

On July 13, 2018, United States District Judge Laura Taylor Swain (S.D.N.Y.) granted a motion by Plaintiff— BroadSign International, LLC (“BroadSign”) —for leave to file a Second Amended Complaint against Defendant T-Rex Property AB (“T-Rex”), seeking, inter alia, declaratory judgments of noninfringement and invalidity of U.S. Patent No. RE39,470, U.S. Patent No. 7,382,334, and U.S. Patent No. 6,430,603 (collectively, the “Patents-in-Suit”).

BroadSign supplies hardware and software solutions to operators of networks of digital signs. T-Rex has sued several of BroadSign’s customers that make, use, or sell digital signage systems, for direct patent infringement on one or more of the Patents-in-Suit.

It’s too early to tell what will happen, but by the sound of it Section 101 might be applicable here.

One more case of interest is Ariosa Diagnostics v Illumina, wherein prior art is brought into question/scrutiny because “the courts all agree that the disclosures found in an issued patent or published application count as prior art as of the patent’s filing date.” To quote:

In the simple case outlined above, the courts all agree that the disclosures found in an issued patent or published application count as prior art as of the patent’s filing date. The difficulty comes when we bring priority-claims into play (such as priority to a provisional application).

In this case, the Federal Circuit ruled that a published application can count as prior art as of its provisional filing date — but only as to features actually claimed in the application. According to the court, features disclosed in the provisional but not claimed in the published application will only be prior art as of their date of public disclosure.

The patent challenger argues that this interpretation is wrong — and particularly that the effect of the priority claim should be governed by 35 U.S.C. §§ 119(e)(1) and 120, which provide for applications properly claiming priority back to an earlier filing “shall have the same effect, as to such invention, as though filed on” the earlier date. On the other side – the statutory hook for the Federal Circuit’s limitation here is the fact that the statute gives priority for “the invention” — i.e., the claimed invention — but not for the disclosure as a whole. In addition Sections 119 and 120 develop the rules for patents claiming priority — not for prior art.

Indecision here too (for now)?

On the difference between knowing about patent infringement and not even being aware (which is the upside of never reading any patents), check out this Docket Report about Olaf Soot Design, LLC v Daktronics, Inc., et al. As the Docket Navigator put it the other day:

The court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment that they did not willfully infringe plaintiff’s winch system patent because plaintiff presented insufficient evidence of knowledge through the knowledge of defendants’ outside prosecution counsel.

So it’s better not to be aware or to not to do one’s ‘homework’.

Last but not least, there’s this report behind paywall saying that “Philips SEP [is] validated by UK High Court,” which basically means patent tax one cannot work around, even in Europe. To quote:

The High Court has validated a Philips standard essential patent, making it “two-one to Philips as it moves towards the FRAND trial” in its litigation with Asus and HTC

The UK’s position on FRAND was quite covered a lot last year after a judgment had been issued by Colin Birss. Whether or not that spells doom or helps bring software patents to Britain remains to be seen; no doubt the fate of the UPC would play a considerable role.

Half a Year Later the Patent Microcosm is Still ‘Pulling a Berkheimer’ in Vain

Monday 23rd of July 2018 03:46:10 AM

Citing a decision from way back (in February)

Summary: Earth-shattering changes are being insinuated by people who are in the business of ‘selling’ services around patents, never mind if 35 U.S.C. § 101 remains unchanged and Federal Circuit caselaw suggests likewise

LAST week in Patent Docs, a site of patent maximalists, Michael Hinrichsen, Anthony D. Sabatelli, and Jonathan Schuchardt (from some law firm) were trying to ‘pull a Berkheimer‘ (and Aatrix). It’s incredible that they’re still trying to use these tricks about a third of a year down the line. Berkheimer and Aatrix have not changed anything profoundly; they’re just being mentioned a lot by law firms in articles. They keep name-dropping Berkheimer and Aatrix, alluding to some vague need to assess underlying facts (as if courts didn’t already assess facts). The new USPTO Director played along for a while, but he has since then taken a low-profile approach (like António Campinos at the EPO) and we assume that any changes associated with Berkheimer and Aatrix are ‘fossilised’. Many law firms submitted comments, but nothing has actually changed.

The Patent Docs piece is more of the same, striving to or trying to add barriers to law (e.g. Section 101) being applied. The anti-Alice lobby isn’t interested in justice or in patent scope; it’s just trying to actively undermine SCOTUS. From the article:

Buried amidst the flurry of recent Federal Circuit subject matter eligibility decisions is a question that could significantly change how Section 101 is applied in patent litigation. Specifically, the issue is whether performing Step 2 of the Mayo/Alice test can require a factual inquiry. If upheld, this interpretation of Alice could make patent litigation much more complicated and expensive. In fact, Section 101 inquiries could become convoluted mini-trials in their own right — similar to how Markman hearings are performed today.


Troubling questions continue to emanate from the factual vs legal question debate. Will other panels support this view of Step 2 of Alice? To date, all supporting decisions have been penned by Judge Moore. Additionally, HP has filed a petition for an en banc review. If upheld, it is unclear what level of evidence would be required for a court to conclude that a factual inquiry is necessary. Based on Berkheimer, it appears that if a specification describes a claimed feature as novel and that feature is eligible for consideration as an inventive concept, this may suffice to establish a genuine issue of material fact. It is unclear how such a factual inquiry would proceed, however, or what kind of evidence and how much of it would be required to establish that a claimed element is ‘inventive.’ Regardless of how these inquiries are eventually performed, if upheld, treating Step 2 of Alice as a legal question with factual underpinnings will undoubtedly complicate Section 101 inquiries.

Section 101 inquiries have been fine since and it’s odd that they say a couple of old decisions “could significantly change how Section 101 is applied in patent litigation.”

“Their logic is fairly simple: more patents = good, fewer patents = bad.”It has barely changed a thing! It has been a long time since then, nearly half a year!

Patent Docs being Patent Docs (having also just advertised for patent maximalists [1, 2, 3, 4]), we don’t suppose that it will even pen a piece about why Section 101 is good and software patents are bad. The site is run by patent law firms, whose sole goal is increasing their profits. The same goes for Watchtroll, which keeps moaning about SCOTUS improving the quality of US patents, even as recently as 4 days ago.

Their logic is fairly simple: more patents = good, fewer patents = bad.

“Why is it that patent lawyers are allowed to dominate not only media coverage about patents but also blogs, including ones with a name like IP Watch (suggestive of opposition to the ‘IP’ maximalists)?”That’s it! Financial logic. For patent lawyers anyway…

We were rather disappointed to see that on the very same day IP Watch was again acting like platform of the patent microcosm (second time in a week), having published this post about Zeroclick, initially covered here back in early June.

Why is it that patent lawyers are allowed to dominate not only media coverage about patents but also blogs, including ones with a name like IP Watch (suggestive of opposition to the ‘IP’ maximalists)? The public needs to hear more from technical people, not legal professionals, whose skills involve name-dropping or ‘pulling a Berkheimer‘, as we dubbed/called it back in May. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) almost never mentions Berkheimer in relation to inter partes reviews (IPRs). Neither does the Federal Circuit.

The World Has Moved on and Beyond Software Patents, But Buzzwords and Hype Provide Workarounds

Monday 23rd of July 2018 03:04:31 AM

Related: The ‘Blockchaining’ of Software Patents (to Dodge the Rules/Guidelines) Now Coming to Europe

Reference: What is the Difference Between a Blockchain and a Database?

Summary: A look at the status quo of software patents and some of the past week’s reports, which still disguise such patents as “financial”

Software patents in India aren’t allowed (not “per se” anyway). In the EPO it’s “as such” and in the USPTO there are now exclusions for “abstract” ideas, which many interpret as inclusive of computer algorithms.

As we reported last week, Australia had gone down the same route, as did New Zealand. South Africa also, so the English-speaking world is overwhelmingly against software patents now. The main exception to that global trend is China.

A few days ago a patent law firm from India (one that we mentioned here before) noted that:

A software by itself or computer program per se is not considered as an invention as per Section 3(k) of the Patents Act, 1970. Section 3(k) stipulates that a mathematical or business method or a computer programe per se or algorithm are not invention within the meaning of this Act.

None of that has changed. Over the years we’ve been keeping track of many efforts to change that. But India stood firm in the face of lobbyists.

“Cryptocurrency”, “AI”, “cloud” and other hype has meanwhile been exploited in the US and Europe to bypass restrictions and patent software. We’ve written many articles about that and here’s a new example:

Ernst & Young LLP (EY) announced on Thursday it has acquired technology assets and related patents from Elevated Consciousness, Inc., a U.S. startup focused on developing unique solutions for the crypto-asset ecosystem. EY reported that the acquisition is part of its strategy to expand blockchain-related capabilities and services worldwide.

Well, such patents are bunk, even ifthey ‘dress them up’ as “blockchain” or “cryptocurrency”. Those are software patents. Here is another new example, this one about Walmart:

Is blockchain technology the answer to fighting porch pirates and ensuring safe delivery of items from online retailers to customers’ homes? Walmart seems to be at least exploring the possibility, according to a patent application that the company recently filed.

The application , dated July 5, describes a system of “locker docking stations” that could be “located at a user’s home, at public locations such as transportation hubs, public venues, or the like, or other desired locations.” The stations would coordinate “directly with one or more delivery systems” to organize the delivery of items.

This isn't the first time we see Walmart dabbling in it; if tested in US courts, however, such patents would likely be rendered invalid under Section 101.

News has been relatively slow this past week (normal for summertime), but we carry on watching trends and milestones in the fight against software patents.

Links 23/7/2018: Linux 4.18 RC6, Plans for Next KDE

Monday 23rd of July 2018 02:25:37 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.18-rc6

      So this was the week when the other shoe dropped … The reason the
      two previous rc releases were so nice and small was that David hadn’t
      sent me much networking fixes, and they came in this week.

      That said, it’s not really a huge rc this week either, so it’s all
      good. But the networking pull this week does mean that almost exactly
      half of the diff is core networking, network drivers, or networking
      documentation updates.

      The rest is other drivers (mostly gpu, but also scsi, nvma, pci,
      pinctrl..), some arch updates (arc, x86, nds32, powerpc), and “misc”
      (tooling, header files, some vm and fs noise).

      The small but nasty VM bug we had earlier did indeed get fixed last
      rc, but there was some 32-bit fallout from the fix, so rc5 still had
      issues. But I’m hopeful that rc6 _really_ fixed all the cases.

      Shortlog appended for people who want to just get an overview of the details,


    • Linux 4.18-rc6 Kernel Released With Many Networking Fixes, Other Regressions Resolved

      The sixth weekly test release of the Linux 4.18 kernel is now available for evaluation.

      Linux 4.18-rc6 is prior than the two previous weekly release candidates since those versions hadn’t incorporated any big batch of networking fixes, which hit this week. So about half of the changes are networking changes in Linux 4.18-rc6 while the other half is a mix of driver and architecture updates along with other noise.

    • NXP i.MX8 SoC Support Hasn’t Yet Worked Its Way Into The Mainline Linux Kernel

      While early in the year was talk of introducing NXP i.MX8 SoC support in the Linux 4.17 kernel, that didn’t happen. Support for that latest-generation i.MX SoC also didn’t make it for Linux 4.18 and it also looks like it will not make it for Linux 4.19.

      There have been patches for the i.MX8 Linux SoC support since January thanks to Pengutronix with GPIO, clock, net, and the core patches being written by the German firm. But unfortunately they haven’t yet made it to mainline. For the i.MX8 in the mainline kernel tree as of today with Linux 4.18 there is just the i.MX8QM AHCI SATA support, FEC network driver carried over from earlier Freescale SoCs, and some bits for the the Etnaviv DRM driver with the Vivante GC7000L graphics from the i.MX8M.

    • Microsoft Surface Dial & Dell Totem Support Heading To Linux 4.19

      Back in May we covered the big rewrite of the Linux kernel’s HID multi-touch code and in the process supporting the Microsoft Surface Dial and Dell Canvas 27′s Totem input device. That work will be landing in the Linux 4.19 kernel.

    • Benchmarks
      • A Closer Look At The Linux Laptop Power Use Between Ubuntu, Fedora, Clear & Antergos

        Earlier this month I posted some results when looking at the Windows 10 versus Linux power consumption using a Kabylake-R Dell XPS 13 laptop and testing Windows 10, Ubuntu 18.04, Fedora Workstation 28, openSUSE Tumbleweed, and Clear Linux. For some additional numbers, I took three other distinctly different laptops and tested them on a few Linux distributions to see how their battery life and power efficiency compare as additional metrics to complement this earlier data.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Team Announces Major Improvements in Upcoming KDE 18.08 Release

        The developers of Linux’s KDE suite have announced a major slew of updates set to be included in the upcoming KDE 18.08, set for an August 2018 release. Details for these updates revolve around a range of new features and overall polish for the core KDE apps including Gwenview, Spectacle, Konsole, and Dolphin, as well as focusing on the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.14 update due in October.

        Due to KDE’s open-source nature, the devs also have a site up for people interested in getting involved, whether its simple bug reporting or actually being hands-on with the development using C++, Qt, and CMake. You can read more about their community program at KDE – Get Involved.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 28

        Here’s another big week for KDE’s Usability and Productivity initiative. We’re getting ready for the release of KDE Applications 18.08–the second of our three yearly Applications releases. As the numbers in the version suggest, it will be released in August of 2018, about a month from now. As such, there’s been a lot of focus on new features and polish for core KDE apps such as Dolphin, Gwenview, Konsole, and Spectacle. We’re also ramping up our work for KDE Plasma 5.14, which is scheduled for release in October.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • I’ve built a box

        This is not the typical post I use to write (which is usually about what I do at work, often related to GNOME, so if you’re not interested, just skip it…). But a couple of months ago I did something different that I still want to write about. That thing was a wooden box (sorry if you were expecting a Gavin Box) that I was asked to carve by my brother for his wedding, to be used for carrying the wedding rings.

        The wedding had a Game of Thrones’s theme (there was not blood in it though, if you’re wondering), so naturally my brother wanted some of that in the box. Thus, my initial idea was to just buy a box and carve something to do with GoT and include their names. Something like this, as my brother sent me for inspiration.

      • Bastian Ilsø Hougaard: GUADEC18 Developer Center BoF Part 3: Challenges

        Currently, the Developer Center infrastructure and documentation suffers from low to non-existing maintenance. It’s a sign we need to take serious. Do we need lower the barrier to contributing to the developer documentation? What can we do to make the infrastructure easier to maintain? The underlying issue here likely also ties into why we now see new GNOME documentation hosted on other websites by different maintainers powered by different underlying technologies. I think this challenge needs both thinking from a technical point of view (how we might support editing multi-language documentation and auto-generated documentation) and an organizational point of view (assigning maintainership, reviewing our docs, aligning visions).

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • Debian-Based Neptune Linux 5.4 Operating System Debuts with New Dark Theme

        Neptune Linux developer Leszek Lesner announced the release Neptune 5.4, a monthly updated installation image of the Debian-based and KDE-oriented operating system that uses the latest software versions and technologies.

        Featuring improved support for Android devices, support for removing all notification history from the notification widget, support for multiple archives for Plasma Extensions in the Plasma Discover package manager, and improved ZRAM config to work with single-core CPUs, Neptune 5.4 introduces a new dark look and feel called Neptune Dark, along with the Faenza Dark icon theme.

    • Slackware Family
      • The LiveSlak Project: Running Slackware-Current Live Images With or Without Persistence and Installing Them

        Eric Hameleers has unofficially contributed to Slackware for what feels like forever. He not only runs his blog Alien Pastures dedicated to Slackware and offers a huge selection of packages pre-compiled on his vanilla systems, readily available for our perusal. He also offers the Ktown repository with updated packages of KDE4 and the next generation Plasma desktop for both the stable and testing branches of Slackware. He also started the Slackware Live project based on his own LiveSlak scripts to give people an opportunity to run Slackware current without
        committing to an install and to get an idea what the next version will be like.

        On 25th June the latest line of images was released, one for each desktop. Live ISOs are offered in 32 and 64bit, although only the Xfce and KDE4 images are available for both architectures. The other two images with MATE or a Plasma 5 preview substituted for KDE4 are 64bit only. This 1.2.0 release mirrors Slackware current as of 23/06/2018. Initially there was also a version with the Cinnamon desktop but this seems to have fallen behind.

        Apart from the desktop chosen there are some differences in the size of the images. The Xfce spin is just under 700MB, the standard desktop version with KDE which is just named slackware-live-current is 3.1/3.0 GB respectively, the MATE version 2.1GB and the Plasma 5 edition a hefty 4.3GB, also due to extra software onboard. Read more about how the project came about and an overview with tips on Eric’s blog.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Distributed Services Fabric for Container-Based Applications Powered by Avi Network

        Avi Vantage constantly monitors several metrics that represent load on application instances. Operators can configure an autoscaling policy to automatically scale up or scale down application instances based on load. In addition, Avi Vantage also learns application access patterns and can perform intelligent, predictive autoscaling based on learnt access patterns.

        In our next blog post we will focus on the intelligence and security features that Avi Networks and OpenShift provide for container-based applications.

      • Fedora
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Exclusive: Why open source is critical to software development

    Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Pivotal APJ head of platform architecture Lawrence Crowther and discuss the importance of Open-source and cloud.

    Firstly, can you tell me a bit more about Pivotal and its cloud platform?

    Pivotal’s original mission was to transform the way the world builds software. Now our mission is to transform the way the world runs software, too, through a combination of methodology and technology. Whether we are helping clients change their culture towards product development or managing platforms, we use the same agile principles in both cases, such as Extreme Programming and the Lean Startup approach. This is often a radical shift for companies to embrace so we partner with them for a “learn by doing” approach.

    We believe that in order to support a fast development team who are iterating quickly and updating constantly, you need a different kind of platform. One that removes all barriers and lets you go from “concept to cash” quickly in a reliable, secure and safe way. You can build software as fast as you want but if it is not ending up in the hands of users it doesn’t matter. Once Pivotal Cloud Foundry is up and running the cost of deploying applications and iterating on them becomes almost zero. This is because it takes away the details of infrastructure, middleware, dependencies, integrations, monitoring and more from the development team so they can focus on delivering value to the business over and over again.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • PR: With Blockchain for the Open Source Hardware – ENVIENTA

        The Hungarian rooted ENVIENTA project started its preliminary token issue on 1st July (ICO private token sale).

        The aim of the project is to help to spread the open source philosophy becoming more and more common in hardware development industry and to support the life cycle of the products, made this way, from the idea to the realization. The idea of the open source hardware is not new, however, there has been no attempt to gather all the participants in this field on a common platform in order to support cooperations.

  • Programming/Development
    • Persepolis Download Manager: Impressive Python frontend for aria2

      Persepolis Download Manager is a handy open source download manager written in Python and PyQt. It’s a graphical frontend for aria2 aiming to make downloads both easier and faster.

      This software project commenced development in 2015 with the first release in July 2016. While it was initially only a simple graphical user interface, the software has seen some pretty hefty development since then with a whole raft of additional functionality added, improvements to the user interface, and cross-platform support.

    • Microsoft Visual Studio Code replumbed for better Python taming [Ed: Embrace and extend. Microsoft is trying to push developers of FOSS over to their proprietary IDE that puts spying inside compiled code.]
    • What’s new in Apache Subversion 1.10.2?

      I couldn’t believe if you are unaware of the Apache Subversion. It is an Enterprise-class centralized version control founded in 2000 by CollabNet Inc. One of the most successful opensource project in past many years. Mostly all the opensource projects and enterprise source code are on subversion. It has the rich community of developers and users who are continuously improving subversion.

    • SPAKE2 In Golang: Journey to Cryptoland begins

      Before I can go to detail I should tell why/how I came to implementing SPAKE2 in Golang. Story starts a couple of month back when I started contributing to **, a Rust port of original Python project of magic-wormhole. You can read this LWN article to understand more about what magic-wormhole is.

      During contribution my friend Ramakrishnan Muthukrishnan said to me that I should try to port the magic-wormhole to Golang. I was not a expert Go programmer but had understanding of language basics and thought why not use it to improve my language understanding. And this is where it all started.

    • AMD AOCC 1.2.1 Compiler Flings Flang Fixes

      AMD released a minor update to their AMD Optimizing C/C++ Compiler.

      AOCC is the company’s downstream of LLVM/Clang with optimizations for their Zen CPU microarchitecture with compiler optimizations/improvements before they work their way into upstream LLVM. AOCC is the replacement for AMD’s Open64 compiler used years ago with earlier micro-architectures.

  • Gmail rolls out DRM for email and office documents, calls it “Confidential Mode”

    This system, which Google calls “Information Rights Management” (a term coined by Microsoft to refer to a similar feature in Microsoft Office) is a kind of DRM for email. It is an extremely brittle security measure, which can be trivially defeated by taking screenshots or photos of your computer.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Yemen’s Houthis claim drone attack on Aramco refinery in Riyadh

      The Iranian-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen said it had attacked a Saudi Aramco refinery in Riyadh on Wednesday using a drone, but the oil company said a limited fire at the plant was due to “an operational incident”.

    • Yemeni forces fire drone, hit Aramco refinery in Saudi capital

      Yemeni army, backed by fighters from allied Popular Committees, has attacked a refinery of the Saudi oil company Aramco in the capital Riyadh using a new drone unveiled on Wednesday, with the kingdom confirming a fire at the plant.

    • Activist Kathy Kelly stresses pacifist message in uncertain times

      U.S. drone strikes have killed between 7,715 and 11,067 people, including up to 1,555 civilians, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a London-based organization that has tracked drone killings since 2010.

    • How to Survive America’s Kill List

      When a U.S. citizen heard he was on his own country’s drone target list, he wasn’t sure he believed it. After five near-misses, he does – and is suing the United States to contest his own execution

    • New York-born Muslim journalist and US citizen living in Syria sues the American government claiming he’s been put on the drone strike Kill List

      A New York-born journalist living in Syria is suing the US government, claiming its put him on the drone Kill List.

      Born Darrell Lamont Phelps, Bilal Abdul Kareem grew up in Mount Vernon, New York, before converting to Islam and moving to Syria as a reporter.

      But in 2016, Kareem, a US citizen, said he was targeted in a series of attacks, before he says a source tipped him off that he was on America’s infamous ‘Kill List’, otherwise known as ‘Disposition Matrix,’ according to Rolling Stone.

    • Former senior CIA official says it’s “quite near time” for Trump supporters to kill Trump opponents

      Michael Scheuer says it is “quite near time” to kill American citizens who oppose Trump.

      Scheuer is a former senior CIA official and the author of the New York Times bestseller, Imperial Hubris. In a now-deleted blog post (cached version here) Scheuer singles out “Strzok, Comey, McCabe, Page, and Rosenstein; worshipers of tyranny, like the Democratic members of Congress, the Clintons, the FBI, and the Obamas; apparent traitors like Brennan, Hayden, and Clapper; all of the mainstream media; and the tens of thousands of government-admitted-and-protected, violent, criminal, and illegal immigrants.” He looks forward to the “sheer, nay, utter joy and satisfaction to be derived from beholding great piles of dead U.S.-citizen tyrants is not one that will be missed if Trump does not soon do the necessary to save the republic.”

    • Armed US drones up and running in Niger

      Armed U.S. drone flights over Niger — which started after four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush in October — have put a scare into local militants, the country’s top defense official said.

      Earlier this year, U.S. Africa Command quietly began armed unmanned surveillance flights in Niger, adding more firepower in the country where the Oct. 4 attack on a team of Green Berets raised questions about whether troops were carrying out dangerous missions without sufficient backup.

      While drones now fly armed out of a base in Niger’s capital of Niamey, no strikes have yet been launched on targets inside the country, AFRICOM said Friday.

    • Fighting illegal immigration and terrorism: New surveillance drone targets EU buyers

      Europe’s migration crisis has left thousands dead as they seek a better life by making the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean. It has also stretched countries’ domestic resources and sparked political conflict on the bloc.

      So far, 1,400 migrants have died off Libya’s coast since the beginning of this year, according to the UN’s International Organization for Migration. Last year, 3,116 people were killed.

      Yet one Israeli military technology manufacturer believes they have found a solution which could help governments tackle illegal immigration and rescue migrants from capsized vessels at sea.

    • Islanders exiled by British Government begin London occupation

      Chagossians were removed from their island homeland – now called the British Indian Ocean Territory – to make way for a military base in the 1960s and 70s.

      Despite years of protest and legal challenges, they have been never been allowed to return home.

      Yesterday, Chagossians gathered in Trafalgar Square to highlight their “ongoing struggle for justice”.

      Isabelle Charlot, chair of the Chagos Islanders Movement, said there is a pressing need for redress as deportees grow older.

      She said: “The Chagossian community have been ignored for far too long. We had hope that one day the British Government will recognise their wrongdoing and apologise to us.

    • Key Fact Obscured in Immigration Coverage: MS-13 Was Made in USA

      The immigrants that Frum is speaking of come largely from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, an area known as the Northern Triangle. According to the Pew Research Center, there are 3 million total immigrants from these countries in the US, and about half of those immigrants are undocumented. While Mexican immigration has been falling in recent years, Central American immigration has increased: from 2007 through 2015, the total number of Northern Triangle immigrants rose by 25 percent.

      Yet much media coverage of immigration misses out on why large numbers of people from the Northern Triangle are migrating to the US in the first place.

      Over the past three generations, the Northern Triangle countries, long marked by profound levels of inequality, have each experienced horribly destructive civil wars and military coups. Unsurprisingly, the United States has been intimately involved in each of these, supporting anti-Communist regimes during the Cold War and protecting US business interests with truly disastrous results.

      In 1954, the CIA orchestrated a coup to remove President Jacobo Arbenz, the democratically elected leader of Guatemala, at the behest of United Fruit Company (now Chiquita), the country’s largest landowner. During the subsequent civil war that lasted until 1996, the US gave military and financial support to a succession of right-wing governments that committed large-scale human rights abuses that killed hundreds of thousands.

    • Two Palestinian scientists found dead in an apartment in Algeria

      Suliman al-Farra, 34, and Mohammed Albana, both from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, were found dead in an apartment on Sunday.

    • Gazan scientist, doctor said found dead in Algeria

      A scientist and a doctor from the Gaza Strip died in Algeria on Sunday under unexplained circumstances, Palestinian media reported, sparking speculation that they may have been assassinated.

      According to the reports, the Palestinian embassy in Algeria informed the scientists’ families that the two were found dead in their apartment, apparently from a gas leak or electrical malfunction.

    • Gaza Reports: Two Palestinian Scientists Found Dead in Algeria

      Two Palestinian scientists were found dead in an apartment in Algeria, reports in Gaza said on Sunday. The circumstances surrounding their deaths were unclear.

      The two, identified as Suliman al-Farra, 34, and Mohammed Albana, a 35-year-old physician, from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. The report said that they were found dead in al-Farra’s apartment, in Zeralda, a suburb of the capital Algiers.

    • Israel to reopen Gaza terminal, extend fishing on Tuesday if quiet holds

      Israel will reopen Gaza’s main commercial crossing and expand its fishing zone on Tuesday if a lull in cross-border tensions holds after a truce with the enclave’s dominant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, the Israeli defence minister said.

    • 10 suspected jihadists killed in Yemen drone strike, clashes

      en suspected Al-Qaeda jihadists and two soldiers fighting for Yemen’s government have been killed in clashes and a drone strike, local officials and security sources said Sunday.

      The US military is the only force known to operate armed drones over Yemen.

      Officials in Marab loyal to Yemen’s internationally recognised government said a drone on Sunday targeted a house used by Al-Qaeda in the central province, killing four jihadists.

    • Killer algorithms

      Warnings about the risks posed by artificial intelligence (IA) seem to be everywhere nowadays. From Elon Musk to Henry Kissinger, people are sounding the alarm that super-smart computers could wipe us out, like in the film “The Terminator”. To hear them talk, you would think we were on the brink of dystopia, that Skynet is nearly upon us.

      These warnings matter, but they gloss over a more urgent problem: weaponised AI is already here. As you read this, powerful interests, from corporations to state agencies, like the military and police, are using AI to monitor people, assess them and to make consequential decisions about their lives. Should we have a treaty ban on autonomous weapons? Absolutely. But we do not need to take humans “out of the loop” to do damage. Faulty algorithmic processing has been hurting poor and vulnerable communities for years.

      I first noticed how data-driven targeting could go wrong five years ago, in Yemen. I was in the capital, Sanaa, interviewing survivors of an American drone attack that had killed innocent people. Two of the civilians who died could have been US allies. One was the village policeman, and the other was an imam who had preached against Al Qaeda days before the strike. One of the men’s surviving relatives, an engineer called Faisal Bin Ali Jaber, came to me with a simple question: Why were his loved ones targeted?


      These kinds of attacks, called “signature strikes”, make up the majority of drone strikes. Meanwhile, civilian air strike deaths have become more numerous under President Donald Trump, over 6,000 last year in Iraq and Syria alone.

      This is AI at its most controversial. And the controversy spilled over to Google this spring, with thousands of the company’s employees protesting, and some resigning, over a bid to help the Defence Department analyse drone feeds. But this is not the only potential abuse of AI we need to consider.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Judge Pulls 180 On Controversial LA Times Censorship Order

      The Los Angeles Times restored details to a story Tuesday after a California federal judge lifted an order blocking the publication of information from a police officer’s sealed corruption plea agreement that was accidentally made public on PACER.

    • Deal between Ecuador and UK to hand over Julian Assange is ‘imminent’ and Wikileaks founder could then be sent to US to face spy charges
    • Report: WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange May Soon Be Ejected From Ecuador’s Embassy
    • Julian Assange’s Departure from Ecuador Embassy in London Is Imminent
    • Ecuadorian President to meet with UK minister Penny Mordaunt amid claims Julian Assange faces eviction
    • Report: Ecuador to Withdraw Asylum from Julian Assange
    • UK Officials To Take Over Custody of Wikileaks Julian Assange

      He’s called out both sides of our political system and helped many voters make more informed decisions on who they wanted to back and support. The opposition media hasn’t shown Assange love because he is in charge of an organization that performs the sort of work they were hired to do.
      There are many on both sides who want to see Assange prosecuted but I am not one of those. We’ve seen whistleblowers over the span of our lives, and for the most part, the people in charge are the ones who get exposed for the betterment of our lives. Assange is not in the same class as Edward Snowden in my humble opinion.

    • Ecuador close to evicting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: Greenwald

      The UK and Ecuador President Lenin Moreno are “close to finalizing” or have already finalized a deal to evict Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, according to an article published by The Intercept on Saturday.

      According to reporter Glenn Greenwald, Ecuador could withdraw its protection to the Wikileaks founder in a matter of days. Greenwald first drew widespread public attention by publishing data provided by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

      According to Greenwald’s article, Ecuador’s Moreno used the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit as a pretext to travel to London and discuss handing over Assange to British officials. Moreno has been critical of Assange, describing him as an “inherited problem,” a “pebble in the shoe,” who has created “more than a nuisance” for his government.


      After a UK judge ruled that Assange should be extradited to Sweden, the Australian-born activist sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. Quito granted him asylum in 2012. However, ties between Assange and his Ecuadorian hosts gradually soured as his years-long stay irritated Western nations.

    • #Unity4J to hold Emergency Public Meeting; Unveil Non- Violent Digital Action Plan

      International media are reporting that WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief may imminently be handed by Ecuador to UK authorities. (Ref) If such an event occurs, it presents an immediate threat to Assange’s human rights, asylum rights, liberty and to press freedoms. It would also be in direct contravention to the rulings of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Inter-American Court of human rights, both of which have found in his favour.

    • Julian Assange’s Jeopardy

      What comes next for Julian Assange after his years holed up in Ecuador’s embassy at London? Glenn Greenwald has a report on the Intercept suggesting that eviction from his current sanctuary is imminent and that if he leaves, Wikileaks’ founder could face a year or more in prison at Britain as he maneuvers to avoid extradition to America. It strikes us as a thorough report, save for the omission of any mention of the case known as United States v. Alvarez-Machain.

      That case, decided in 1992, could prove to be a precedent were America simply to seize Mr. Assange and bring him here without resort to any extradition treaty. The first of the several times we’ve written about Alvarez-Machain was in connection with the Libyan terrorist Abdelbasset al-Megrahi, who’d been released early from the prison sentence he was serving for murder in the bombing in 1988 of a Pan American clipper, Maid of the Seas, in which 270 persons perished at Lockerbie, Scotland.

      Al-Megrahi, suffering from cancer, was let out of prison so he could go home to live out his remaining days in Libya. It struck us that President Obama could have sent agents to seize him and bring him to America for trial. That’s because of the way the courts handled Humberto Alvarez-Machain, a Mexican physician who allegedly participated in the murders of an American drug enforcement agent, Enrique Camarena Salazar, and a DEA pilot.

    • Ecuador’s Agenda: Squeezing And Surrendering Assange – OpEd

      It is perhaps typical in a time where a star of the fleshy celluloid wonder Baywatch, heavy in bust and known for her sexual adventures, should feature as a political voice. Pamela Anderson’s views are treated with judicious seriousness – at least in some quarters. Her association with Julian Assange has given needless room for columns on what, exactly, their relationship constitutes.

      Having such defenders as Anderson has added to his conspicuous support base, but it will not move those bureaucrats who are chewing pens in anticipation and pondering options as to how best to eject him from the Ecuadorean embassy (compound would be more fitting) in London. Easily missed amidst the titter of celebrity gossip is the plight of an ailing Assange, who is facing the next critical stage of his stay at the Ecuadorean embassy.

      Since the changing of the guard in Ecuador, President Lenín Moreno has shown a warmer feeling towards the United States, and a desire to raise the issue of Assange’s stay in the embassy with US Vice President Mike Pence with the urgency of man desiring to be rid of a problem. The UK government has also been brought into the mix. The forces against Assange are marshalling themselves with a renewed impatience.

      A squeeze evidently designed to break the will of WikiLeaks’ publisher-in-chief was commenced in March, with a change of the embassy’s Wi-Fi password effectively blocking his use of the Internet. Phone calls and visitations have also been curtailed. The bill of Ecuadorean hospitality, if it can be termed that, also became a subject of discussion – some $5 million expended on security and Assange’s various activities. Attitudes to a troublesome guest have hardened.

    • Ecuador ‘close’ to kicking Julian Assange out of London embassy

      US investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald is reporting Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno travelled to Britain on Friday to finalise the deal.

      Under the deal, Ecuador would withdraw protection for the WikiLeaks founder and he would then be handed over to British authorities, Greenwald wrote on his website The Intercept.


      A source close to the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry confirmed to The Intercept that the deal to hand Assange over within the next several weeks was close to being finalised if it had not been so already.

    • Assange may be handed over to UK this week: report

      The website’s editor, Glenn Greenwald, wrote that Moreno had begun an unofficial visit to London on Friday during which it was claimed things would be finalised to hand over Assange to British authorities.

      Moreno is also due to visit Spain which had taken strong objection to Assange’s criticism of alleged human rights abuses by Spain at the time when Catalonia launched protests for independence. Ecuador has blocked Assange from the Internet for the last three months, with his intervention in the Catalonia affair reportedly being the reason.

      Ecuador signed a security agreement with the US in May, a sharp move away from policies pursued by the previous government led by Rafael Correa.

    • Is this finally the end for Julian Assange?

      Ecuador has a very close relationship with Spain in matters of both trade and diplomacy and wants to remain in their good graces. Moreno isn’t quite as fearful of ticking off the governments of the United States or Great Britain as he would be of getting under the skin of Madrid. But he’s also said to be more amenable to working with western governments than his predecessor. After Assange started publicly criticizing Spain’s handling of the Catalan independence movement, he went from being an inconvenience to a serious diplomatic problem.

    • Report: Ecuador to Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange, Hand Him Over to UK

      Since 2012, Assange has been under Ecuador’s protection. However, Ecuador blocked Assange from accessing the internet nearly three months ago after the Spanish government expressed its anger over Assange’s tweets about Catalonia. He has not been able to communicate with the outside world since.

    • Ecuador is Reportedly Getting Ready to Turn Assange Over to U.K. Authorities

      Assange has been inside Ecuador’s embassy since he fled Sweden after accusations of sexual assault and rape. Prosecutors in Sweden have since dropped the charges although he could still face proceedings and jail time for violating bail conditions. More concerning for Assange, of course, is the possibility that the United States would call on U.K. authorities to arrest and extradite him over the leaking of classified documents. Sources close to Assange claim that the United States is pressuring Ecuador to evict Assange, including by threatening to block a loan from the International Monetary Fund if it continues to allow the WikiLeaks founder to live in its embassy.

      Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, wrote on Twitter that if Ecuador does evict Assange from the embassy “it’s essential the UK not become party to any US effort to prosecute him for merely publishing classified information the same way journalists regularly do.”

    • ‘Profound’ Threat to Press Freedom Looms as Ecuador Prepares to Hand Assange Over to UK

      Amid new reports that Ecuador is preparing to withdraw asylum protections from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and hand him over to British authorities within the next few weeks, journalists are raising alarm at the serious threats to press freedom such a move could spawn, given that the U.K. may decide to extradite Assange to the United States—where he could face “prosecution for the act of publishing documents.”

      “The Obama administration was eager to prosecute Assange and WikiLeaks for publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, but ultimately concluded that there was no way to do so without either also prosecuting newspapers such as the New York Times and the Guardian which published the same documents,” notes The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, who reported on Saturday that Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno is “close to finalizing” a deal to eject Assange from Ecuador’s London embassy, where he has been living since 2012.

      However, top Trump administration officials are not at all concerned about the dangerous precedents prosecuting Assange could set, Greenwald notes, citing a “deranged” speech by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he declared “we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Drones used to track red tide along Florida coast

      Red tide is a microscopic menace, harmful to humans and deadly for some fish and birds.

      Now robotic technology is closer to unlocking the secrets of when and where red tide will hit, protecting human health and our natural resources.

      Vincent Lovko with Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota explained, “Red tide is present here all the time, as far as we know. It’s endemic, meaning it belongs here. It’s been here for a very long time,” Lovko said.

      Over 400 years ago, the first Floridians called it Red Water, a strange phenomenon that killed fish and birds and made people sick. red tide is a harmful, microscopic bloom of algae that produces neurotoxins.

    • Four brown bears will be rescued from life of misery in Japan – and sent to zoo in Doncaster

      Award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park is at the centre of a project to rehome the four Ussuri brown bears who live in tiny metal cages all year round – even when it snows in the depths of winter.

      Staff from the UK zoo will travel across the world to bring them 5,400 miles to their new home.

    • Trump Administration Neuters Nuclear Safety Board

      The Trump administration has quietly taken steps that may inhibit independent oversight of its most high-risk nuclear facilities, including some buildings at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a Department of Energy document shows.

      An order published on the department’s website in mid-May outlines new limits on the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board — including preventing the board from accessing sensitive information, imposing additional legal hurdles on board staff, and mandating that Energy Department officials speak “with one voice” when communicating with the board.

      The board has, by statute, operated independently and has been provided largely unfettered access to the nation’s nuclear weapons complexes in order to assess accidents or safety concerns that could pose a grave risk to workers and the public. The main exception has been access to the nuclear weapons themselves.

      For many years, the board asked the Department of Energy to provide annual reviews of how well facilities handled nuclear materials vulnerable to a runaway chain reaction — and required federal officials to brief the board on the findings. It also has urged the energy secretary not to restart certain nuclear operations at various sites until work could be done safely.

  • Finance
    • Consumers paying $104 billion in credit card interest and fees
    • Five ways to curb the power of corporations

      Transnational corporations have become the dominant force directing our world. Humanity is accelerating toward a precipice of overconsumption, and the large transnationals are the primary agents driving us there. We’re rapidly losing the earth’s forests, animals, insects, fish, even the topsoil we require to grow our crops. The earth is becoming denuded of its bounty as every living system ­is ransacked for resources—not to mention the looming emergency of climate breakdown. As a result, twenty thousand scientists have recently issued a public warning to humanity, while prominent academics consider the collapse of civilization this century to be a serious threat.

      Changes in our personal consumption patterns are important, but are ultimately inconsequential compared with the impact of the transnationals that have come to dominate our global economic and political system. Of the world’s hundred largest economies, sixty-nine are now corporations. Political parties in many of our so-called democracies are funded in large part by billionaires, while government cabinet positions are staffed by corporate executives. International bodies setting global policy are infiltrated by corporate agents so successful at entrenching corporate power that even those governments that still prioritize their people’s needs can no longer make autonomous decisions without risking crippling lawsuits from the transnationals whose interests they threaten. Meanwhile, countries and cities compete with each other to beg their corporate overlords for investment dollars, even it means undermining public services and legal protections for their own populations.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Patriot Calls For Investigation Into CIA Letter

      The National Patriots Association (Patriot) has urged the authorities to investigate former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s intelligence unit for writing a letter to the United States government shortly before the 14th general election (GE14).

      An online news portal had reported that a letter from the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s Department was sent to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Gina Haspel five days before GE14, in a bid to appeal for support for Najib’s administration.

      “All guilty persons should be seriously punished to set an example to all current officials in the government, security forces personnel, and politicians, that such collusion with any foreign officials or government is considered treason,” said Patriot president Brig Jen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji in a statement issued today.

    • Is this the letter from Najib’s officer to CIA boss?

      A letter purportedly written by the top intelligence officer under the previous Najib Razak administration to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) pitched the former prime minister as a US ally with whom Washington could work with, as opposed to the “anti-West, anti-Semite” Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

      Najib has distanced himself from the alleged letter, saying he was not aware that such a letter had been sent.

      A copy of the alleged letter, sighted by FMT, among others, promoted Najib’s “progressive foreign policies”, saying Malaysia was a crucial ally and the only viable one in the Southeast Asian region as the others were either too small, too pro-China or “too immersed in their own domestic political problems”.

      “Your Excellency must be well informed that Mahathir, essentially, is not a reformer that could enhance Malaysia’s national interest as he joined the opposition for his own self-interest,” said the letter to Gina Haspel, director of the CIA.

    • U.S. launches campaign to erode support for Iran’s leaders

      The Trump administration has launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups, U.S. officials familiar with the matter said.

    • Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex

      President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court does not bode well for the future of sexual life in America. It has been widely reported that Kavanaugh, as a federal judge, sought to prevent a 17-year-old unauthorized immigrant from receiving an abortion, but was overruled by other jurists on the D.C. Court of Appeals.

      Much of the current debate about Kavanaugh – and the previous appointee, Neil Gorsuch – focuses on the Court’s likely reversal (if not significant weakening) of the landmark 1973 decision, Roe v. Wade. The decision granted each woman the right to personal privacy, to decide the outcome of her pregnancy.

      Over the last-half century, many of the Court’s most consequential decisions have involved the sex life of Americans. Abortion is but one. Gay rights and marriage, youth sex education and contraceptive use, and rights of transgender people are three others. Still others involve prostitution and sex trafficking, public media obscenity and zoning restrictions of commercial sex businesses (e.g., sex-toy outlets, “gentlemen’s” clubs). And then there’s the Internet, facilitating any and every conceivable sexual indulgence. Cumulatively, these decisions have helped profoundly transform the nation’s sexual culture.

      Personal privacy is at the heart of the debate over Roe as well as many of the other sex-related Court decisions over the last-half century. Before Roe, each state had the authority to determine the limits of a woman’s privacy, especially in terms of her pregnancy … and, possibly, an abortion.

    • The CIA letter and the treason option

      Recent calls by the Patriots Association and others to thoroughly investigate a letter allegedly written by Hasanah Ab Hamid, the former Director-General of the Research Department (also known as ME10), to the Chief of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) deserves to be taken seriously.

      In a long, rambling and convoluted letter dated 4th May, Hasanah appeared to be soliciting CIA support for the Najib Administration in the event of a disputed electoral outcome.

    • Letter from Najib’s office sent to CIA belittling S’pore as too small to make an impact in Southeast Asia
    • Malaysia’s Najib sought CIA support before election defeat
    • Letter to CIA treacherous and treasonous, say ex-servicemen
    • Letter to CIA: Patriot urges action against ‘treacherous, treasonous’ act
    • NGO calls for investigation into CIA letter
    • Najib Says He’s Unaware of Letter Allegedly Sent to CIA Asking for Support
    • Patriot calls for investigation into CIA letter
    • Umno’s love affair with CIA goes back to pre-Najib era

      The discovery of the “love letter” from the Prime Minister’s Department to the CIA, hoping for the US government’s support for Najib Razak and his government, as opposed to the Pakatan Harapan coalition led by the supposedly “anti-US” Dr Mahathir Mohamad, should be seen in historical context.

      Exactly how pro or “anti-US” Umno leaders have been through the years can be gleaned from this record in my 2010 title, “Questioning Arms Spending in Malaysia”.

      Malaysia’s non-aligned policy was founded upon the principles of peace, neutrality and impartiality to the superpowers. A genuine non-aligned policy can therefore go a long way toward ridding us of the need to procure expensive arms.

    • S’pore too small to make impact, Najib’s top intel officer tells CIA in secret letter

      Singapore is “too small to make an impact” in the region, the top intelligence officer of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak allegedly wrote in a secret letter to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States.

    • Yoursay: Investigate ‘treasonous’ letter to CIA

      Shock or outrage over such a degrading plea that Malaysia’s head of government would make to a foreign leader is hardly the sentiment evoked in me.

      Rather, I am acutely embarrassed that our prime minister would actually send an appeal reeking of contradiction and paradox, devoid of any intelligence or logic.

    • Mandela only released for PR, says CIA document
    • Apartheid govt faced ‘massive upheavals’ had Mandela died in prison: CIA
    • Roger McNamee: If Facebook bungles the midterms, ‘it’s gonna be really hard to give them a pass’

      Despite a stellar market performance, a lot is on the line for Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, in the upcoming midterm elections, according to Roger McNamee, co-founder of tech-focused private equity firm Elevation Partners.

      “I think the issue for Facebook and for Mark is that the country is trusting them with the 2018 midterm elections,” McNamee told CNBC’s “Squawk Alley,” “and if something goes wrong here, it’s gonna be really hard to give them a pass.”

      Facebook has been criticized for allowing the proliferation of false news on its platform during the 2016 presidential election. Zuckerberg’s discussion of fake news and censorship with Recode’s Kara Swisher revealed to McNamee that the CEO’s all or nothing approach to the issue is the wrong tack.

      “When you are dealing with hate speech, there is a much better option. And that is to engage with people and to inform them,” he said. “Facebook is actually a really good platform for doing that.”

    • Congress Wants to Grill Ex-CIA Chief Brennan Over Accusing Trump of ‘Treason’

      Brennan blasted the US president for rejecting allegations that Russia intervened in the 2016 American presidential election on Putin’s orders, ignoring reports by US intelligence agencies.

      US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said that Congress has “lots of questions” for former CIA Director John Brennan, who called Trump’s statements on Russia’s alleged meddling in the US elections during a press conference following the summit in Helsinki “treasonous.” He suggested that Brennan could have been biased against Trump and that this might have influenced his judgement during his service.

    • Why the far-right thinks Peter Strzok was secretly a CIA agent

      The Trump presidency has seen no slacking in the conservative media’s laser focus on turning tangential figures who have done little or nothing wrong into major players in conspiracies against the president

      Enter FBI agent Peter Strzok, former head of the FBI’s Counterespionage section and new target for right-wing media and political derision.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Censorship abounds in prison libraries, but here’s what some inmates read — and what they should.

      Unless you have friends or family in prison, you likely pay scant attention to what that entails. Policies, procedures, protocols are all a foreign world best left unexplored. “You do the crime, you do the time” is a convenient turning away from the reality of incarcerated life.

      But when it’s your loved one there, you find yourself part of the system too.

      My friend Eric is serving his sentence at FCI Coleman Low, a low-security federal correctional prison in Sumter County off I-4 near Wildwood. It houses over 2,000 nonviolent inmates in an all-male population.

    • China attempting to square the circle

      Observers are concerned over the growth of Chinese nationalist pride and influence abroad.

    • Peking University sacks vocal US prof

      An American professor and vocal critic of Beijing’s censorship said he lost his job at prestigious Peking University and is leaving China.

      Christopher Balding, who had taught for the past nine years at the university’s HSBC School of Business in Shenzhen, said in a blog post that his contract has not been renewed.

      Balding said he received an “official” reason for the non-renewal when he was notified early last November. “I know the unspoken reason for my dismissal,” he wrote, adding: “You do not work under the Communist Party without knowing the risks.”

      Officials at Peking University in Beijing and at the business school campus in Shenzhen could not immediately be reached for comment.

    • Amid Economic Uncertainty, Beijing Silences Critics

      Under President Xi, censorship has expanded in scope and is increasingly impacting areas such as academia and topics such as economics. This month, a British academic from the University of Nottingham’s Ningbo campus was removed from his position, allegedly in response to an article he wrote critical of the CCP. After living and working in China for nine years, Christopher Balding, an Associate Professor at Peking University’s HSBC School of Business, also had his contract terminated.

    • Between censorship and self-censorship: Can China Studies academics avoid moral culpability?

      In August 2017, Cambridge University Press (CUP) removed over three hundred articles published in The China Quarterly from its Chinese website. The articles had been chosen for censorship by very haphazard searches based on ‘sensitive’ keywords: Tiananmen, Cultural Revolution, Taiwan, Tibet. After a rare vocal backlash, CUP reversed its decision.

      Just a few months later in November, news broke that Springer Nature had done the same. Unlike Cambridge, Springer cravenly stood by its decision to censor as a matter of complying with ‘local distribution laws’, ironically portraying its two-tier system granting China-based scholars second-class access as a matter of maintaining access.

    • Media censorship rises as the general elections draw near in Pakistan

      Pakistan is gearing up for the general elections scheduled next week and there are rumors of a massive crackdown on the media.

      On July 12, 2018, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) imposed a ban on national satellite television channels for airing live speeches of politicians as they conduct their election campaigns.

    • Website suspension fuels Vietnam press freedom fears

      Tuoi Tre Online, a popular publication in Vietnam, was suspended by Hanoi on July 16 after having published “untrue” and “nationally divisive” content.

      The newspaper, founded in 1975 by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, Tuoi Tre (“Youth”), is being reprimanded for a June 19 article,“Vietnamese president agrees on issuing demonstration law,” that quotes President Tran Dai Quang as saying that he agreed that there is a need for a law regulating public demonstrations.

    • Vietnam’s Censorship Expands to Popular, Official News Website

      Vietnam’s suspension of a popular news website known for hard-hitting stories is the latest move in a burgeoning effort to limit expression that rattles the image-conscious Communist leadership, experts say.

      On Monday the head of media under the Ministry of Information and Communication shut down the Tuoi Tre website for three months. The news outlet is known for reports on issues such as corruption.

      Tuoi Tre is also a newspaper run by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, and was faulted with posting fake news. The site was asked to “correct the false information” and fined $9,500, according to fellow domestic media outlet Viet Nam News.

      The site’s suspension follows the June passage of a cyber-security law governing internet use and earlier arrests of bloggers whose writings question the government.

    • Censorship, funding threaten college media

      From attempts to discredit them with the label of “fake news” to decreased advertising, professional newspapers across the U.S. face a variety of challenges.

    • Who Are the New Censors?

      Many people like to talk passionately about censorship; politicians – with their ambition to bend the public discourse to party needs – fascist- and Nazis-prone trolls who see their comments swiftly erased from discussion threads and manufacturers of hoaxes who are denied a free pass to the pages of critical mainstream media. The public-service television director, whose fate hangs on the will of politicians as well as journalists and readers of the free and not-so-free media. They all have something to say.

      But censorship is not the same animal that it was in the seventies. There is no censor waving his stamp and diligently adding disobedient authors to the growing list of state enemies. The censor has now been replaced by a system that expels anything incompatible with its own configuration or that goes against the loyalties of the state or publisher; this can be especially so if it doesn’t celebrate a nationalist concept of the country or toe the official state propaganda line.

      This new system of media control even incorporates its own codes of criticism giving the illusion that it can be criticised from within in order to appear fair. But any criticism must have clear limits as to not corrode the basis of the illiberal state, the tailor-made identity of the nation or the interests of some media owners.

    • The Cybersecurity 202: Anti-censorship tool opens new rift between lawmakers and tech companies

      Lawmakers are turning up the pressure on Google and Amazon to reconsider their ban on a powerful anti-censorship technique used by millions of people worldwide to bypass restrictions on internet access.

      Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., are calling on the companies to explain their abrupt decision this year to prohibit “domain fronting,” which allows users to visit blocked websites and use restricted applications by disguising the actual destination of Web traffic. Google and Amazon should reinstate the practice or, at the very least, consider ways to offer other protections, the senators said in a letter to the companies this week.

    • Domain fronting: Why cloud providers are concerned about it

      Domain fronting is a popular technique used to circumvent internet censorship controls, and it is easy to deploy and use. Domain fronting works at the application layer and uses different domain names to hide the true endpoint of a connection. This enables a user to connect to a blocked service over HTTPS while appearing to communicate with an entirely different site.

      In an HTTPS request, the destination domain name is transmitted in three places: in the domain name system (DNS) query, in the TLS Server Name Indication (SNI) extension and in the HTTP Host header. Normally, the same domain name appears in all three places; but in a so-called domain-fronted request, the DNS query and SNI contain the front domain name, but the actual destination domain appears only in the HTTP Host header. The front domain is usually a legitimate site, and this is the domain that is used to initialize the connection.

    • Mark Zuckerberg is a horror show. But there’s a glimmer of truth hidden in his latest blunder.
    • CEO Zuckerberg Says Facebook Shouldn’t Censor Holocaust Deniers
    • Here’s why Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t think Infowars should be banned
    • Zuckerberg defends Facebook users’ right to be wrong – even Holocaust deniers
    • Zuckerberg Censors Conservatives on Facebook, But Gives Holocaust Deniers Free Rein
    • Full transcript: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Recode Decode
    • EXCLUSIVE: Under World Cup spotlight, Qataris crack down on LGBT news coverage
    • Qatar completely censors articles about LGBTQ community from New York Times
    • 2022 World Cup host Qatar censors LGBTQ news coverage
    • What two films reveal about China
    • Hollywood Braces for Collateral Damage From Trade War With China
    • Emba: Editors’ discretion isn’t censorship
    • Creative or crass? Viewer sole censor of web entertainment

      An underworld don calls former prime minister of India Rajiv Gandhi a ‘fattu’ because the politician chose to overrule the court order in the 1985 Shah Bano case on women’s rights. The word, mouthed by actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Sacred Games, was loosely translated as ‘pu***’ in the subtitles. What followed was a PIL in the Delhi High Court against Netflix’s first Indian original series, demanding removal of ‘derogatory’ dialogues, as well as ‘objectionable’ scenes in the series. Interestingly, Lust Stories, a film created for and streamed on Netflix, is the most popular among its offerings. With web streaming services becoming the order of the day, one wonders if there is a need for regulation of the offerings and if it is even possible.

      As Supreme Court advocate Apar Gupta, who is also co-founder of Internet Freedom Foundation, an advocacy firm, says: “There is no regulator for OTT or internet content in India. For now, OTT platforms are largely self-governed under the various applicable laws in the country for different broadcasting medium, including the Information Technology Act and the Cinematograph Act, which are largely sufficient to address the key concerns. Players need to follow self-censorship to screen their content or else they might end up in a court.” The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) can block websites that have objectionable content, such as those with copyright infringement, like torrent sites. “Apart from that, there is no regulatory mechanism in place,” says Shailesh Kapoor, CEO of Ormaxe Media, a Mumbai-based media consulting firm.

    • Silence from judiciary over media attacks increases self-censorship, Pakistan’s journalists say

      When it comes to the military and the judiciary, Pakistan’s journalists are “between a rock and a hard place,” Zohra Yusuf, of the independent non-profit Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, told CPJ. In recent months the judiciary, which has a history of siding with Pakistan’s powerful military, has remained largely silent amid attempts to censor or silence the press.

      Ahead of elections on July 25, CPJ has documented how journalists who are critical of the military or authorities were abducted or attacked, how the army spokesman accused journalists of sharing anti-state and anti-military propaganda, and how distribution of two of Pakistan’s largest outlets–Geo TV and Dawn–was arbitrarily restricted. The judiciary, which has power to take up cases on its own, did not intervene on behalf of the press. But it has continued its practice of threatening legal action against its critics.

      Some journalists and analysts said that by not taking action, the judiciary has added to a climate of fear and self-censorship.

    • Toerisme Vlaanderen in playful protest against artistic censorship on Facebook

      Today, Facebook does not seem to be able to tell the difference between art and pornography.
      Paintings by Flemish Masters are currently being exhibited in the North of Belgium. To help promote them, on Sunday Toerisme Vlaanderen broadcast a playful video that mocks the social network site’s current policy on nudity.

      In the video, visitors to the Maison de Rubens in Antwerp are not shown paintings by baroque Masters “in the interests of protecting the public against nudity”.

      A series of Belgian cultural institutions, such as Bozar and Toerisme Vlaanderen, have also written an open letter to Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Mass incarceration of Uyghurs could backfire on the Party

      As Chinese President Xi Jinping continues to ramp up his program of religious persecution, nowhere is it being executed with more intensity and violence than on the Muslim Uyghur community in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China.

      But there is a new technological bent to the program, one many observers believe could see Xinjiang become the testing ground for the Communist Party to exercise Orwellian control over its citizens in new ways.

      The latest move in China’s campaign to weaken Uyghur culture, a campaign that was stepped up significantly after sectarian riots broke out on June 9, 2009, is the relocation of more than 416,000 people from Xinjiang, according to state media.

      And that is only just the start, with plans apparently afoot to shift a further 100,000 of this Turkic ethnic group to elsewhere in the province.

    • How Government Secrecy on Torture Has Stymied the 9/11 Terror Prosecution

      Around 9 pm on December 4, 2017, two FBI documents were delivered to the defense teams representing the five Guantánamo detainees on trial in the military commissions for their alleged roles in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. These documents, which the lawyers had been requesting since 2013, would be the focus of proceedings starting at 9 the following morning. The 11th-hour timing of the document drop is not unusual in this legal system, where the prosecution controls when and what governmental information (as well as access to witnesses and resources) will be provided to the defense.

      In the 9/11 case, the pretrial discovery process is exceptionally contentious by any measure. The defendants were held for years and tortured in CIA black sites prior to their transfer to Guantánamo in September 2006. Most information about the agency’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation (RDI) program—although it was terminated years ago—remains a national-security secret. The defense lawyers, all of whom have top security clearance, have spent years filing motions and arguing to gain information about what happened to their clients in CIA custody, and insist that this information must be discoverable, not least because in capital cases where the death penalty is on the table, heightened due process applies. The prosecution disagrees, insisting that this trial is about the defendants’ roles in the crime of 9/11, and that what happened to them afterward has little bearing on their involvement in these events. In lieu of original classified materials about the CIA’s program, prosecutors produce—and the judge reviews and approves—summaries of select materials they deem relevant; those summaries obscure specific dates and locations and mask the identities of people with “unique functional identifiers” and pseudonyms (e.g., Interrogator 1, Dr. Shrek).

    • The Troubling Fate of a 1973 Film About the First Black Man in the C.I.A.

      Ivan Dixon’s 1973 film, “The Spook Who Sat by the Door,” which is playing at Metrograph from Friday through Sunday (it’s also on DVD and streaming), is a political fiction, based on a novel by Sam Greenlee, about the first black man in the C.I.A. After leaving the agency, the agent, Dan Freeman (Lawrence Cook) moves to Chicago, and puts his training in guerrilla warfare to use: he organizes a group of black gang members and Vietnam War veterans into a fighting force and leads a violent uprising against the police, the National Guard, and the city government. The film’s radical premise was noticed outside of Hollywood: produced independently, the film was completed and released by United Artists, but it was pulled from theatres soon after its release. Its prints were destroyed; the negative was stored under another title; and Greenlee (who died in 2014) claimed that the F.B.I. was involved in its disappearance, citing visits from agents to theatre owners who were told to pull the movie from screens. (No official documentation of these demands has emerged.)

      On these grounds alone, a viewing of “The Spook Who Sat By the Door” would be a matter of urgent curiosity. But the movie is also a distinctive and accomplished work of art, no mere artifact of the times but an enduring experience. A supreme aspect of the art of movies is tone—the sensory climate of a movie, which depends on the style and mood of performance as much as the plot and the dialogue, the visual compositions as well as the locations, costumes, and décor, the editing and the music (often a sticking point), all of which are aligned with—and sharpen and focus—the ideas that the movie embodies. Dixon—who starred in one of the greatest of all independent films, Michael Roemer’s “Nothing But a Man,” from 1964 (and then spent five years on “Hogan’s Heroes”)—begins with a tone bordering on sketch-like satire that soon crystallizes into a sharp edge of restrained precision. A senator (a white man, played by Joseph Mascolo) campaigning for reëlection finds that he needs the black vote and decides to criticize the C.I.A. for having no black agents. Even in his office, the senator speaks in a pompous, stentorian voice seemingly inflated to a constant podium bluster.

    • Acting CIA Inspector General Is Retiring Amid Allegations Against Him

      The acting inspector general of the CIA has withdrawn his nomination to officially take over the role, according to CNN.

      Christopher Sharpley, who has been the agency’s acting IG since 2015, sent an email this week to coworkers saying he would seek other opportunities and retire within 30 days.

      Now-retired employees have complained Sharpley punished them for reporting wrongdoing within the IG’s office. He allegedly interfered in witness interviews to get the names of the whistleblowers, forcing the Department of Justice to throw out evidence and settle a contracting bribery case.

    • MPs criticise ‘glaring lack’ of senior BAME staff in intelligence services

      GCHQ is the only organisation in the government’s intelligence community with any black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) staff in its senior ranks, a new report reveals.

      MPs on the Intelligence and Security Committee criticised the “glaring lack” of BAME staff, but noted that the intelligence services face particular challenges including bureaucratic vetting processes, nationality rules and outdated public perceptions.

    • So the CIA and FBI are the good guys because you hate Trump?

      There’s no denying how US President Donald Trump has mortified Americans, both at home and around the world, with his astonishing capitulation and public display of subservience to Russian President Vladimir Putin at their surreal summit in Helsinki this week.

      “I don’t see any reason why it would be [Russia that interfered in the 2016 presidential election],” was his jaw-dropping reply when asked whether he trusted his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions about meddling by Moscow.

      Trump’s dogged refusal to criticise or confront Putin, who was standing right next to him on the world stage, appalled Americans across the political divide. How could the president of the United States throw his own spy masters under the bus, in full public glare, by accepting the word of such a ruthless strongman and adversary over theirs?

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Airbus Zephyr: Solar-powered ‘pseudo-satellite’ takes flight

      Aerospace giant Airbus has unveiled a solar-powered solution for stratospheric satellite-like services.

      The Zephyr High Altitude Psuedo-Satellite (HAPS) was shown off for the first time at the Farnborough International Air Show this week, with Airbus revealing that a working prototype is currently somewhere in the sky above Arizona.

    • The Airbus Solar-Powered Zephyr S Drone Provides Internet Access and Flies for Weeks

      Facebook’s Aquila project wasn’t the only solar-powered drone being developed to provide internet and cellular access to rural and remote areas. In 2014, Boeing’s Phantom Works division applied for a patent that detailed a similar high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) vehicle. BAE Systems is currently tirelessly working on such an aircraft, too. While Airbus might’ve seemed more focused on passenger drones as of late, it’s now clear the aviation giant is HALE-hungry, as well, as the company’s Zephyr S drone will take flight in September.

      According to ZDNet, the Zephyr S weighs 165.3 pounds (75 kilograms) and has a wingspan of 82 feet (25 meters), thereby being incredibly light for such a physically large and technologically capable vehicle. Designed to cruise within the stratosphere at an altitude of 13 miles (21 km), Zephyr’s engineers killed several birds with one stone. Namely, avoiding commercial airplane traffic, continuously refueling through solar energy, and having a stronger line of communication to devices on the ground.

    • Zephyr solar-powered stratosphere drone takes flight

      The Zephyr has a wingspan of 25 meters and is designed to operate in the stratosphere at an average altitude of 21 kilometers — above clouds, jet streams and ozone layer, as well as regular air traffic (apart perhaps, from the odd spy-plane). Airbus wants the drone to fly for 100 days without landing (its currently record is 14 days without refuelling) and travel up to 1,000 nautical miles per day. It weighs 75kg, but can support a payload up to five times its own weight.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Groupon casts IBM as shaking down other tech companies

      A lawyer for discount e-commerce company Groupon told a court in Delaware on Thursday that IBM has shaken down practically every large tech firm for patent fees.

      IBM is suing Groupon for US$167 million, accusing it of infringing four basic internet technology patents, in a case that is being closely watched by the tech industry.

      IBM has portrayed itself as an innovator whose licensing fee requests are reasonable in light of its research and development costs. But Groupon is defending itself by trying to portray IBM as using outdated patents to squeeze money out of other tech companies with threats of litigation.

      “IBM has approached every significant company in the web technology space asserting patents against them,” Groupon lawyer J. David Hadden said during cross-examination of IBM licensing executive Thomas McBride in federal court.

    • Week in Review: App Store Continues to Dominate, Apple Patents Personal Driving Profile, iPhone Photo Awards Announced & More

      While this was a rather slow summer news week, there were still a few highlights worth noting. There were a number of stories on Apple’s intellectual property front; a few interesting Apple stories like iPhone photo winners announced and the App Store dominating in profits; and some interesting industry news like Google getting fined billions over Android breaching EU laws. Lastly, Apple wants to show a little love for HomePod fans this coming week by holding a special event.

    • For Design Patent Owners (and Alleged Infringers), The Third Time is Not a Charm

      On May 24, 2018, we received the third (trial) installment in the seven-year legal battle between Apple and Samsung over the design of smart phones and related devices. At issue on this go-round was a retrial solely directed to the issue of damages – how much did Samsung owe Apple for infringing several design patents generally directed to various features of Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices? The issue of liability had been decided long ago by an earlier jury trial and affirmance from the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. More particularly, the San Jose jury was this time asked to determine whether the drawings of the design patents at issue captured the entire “article of manufacture” ultimately sold by Samsung.

      The hope for patent practitioners across the county was that the trial and its ultimate verdict would provide detailed guidance on how to counsel clients on both prosecution of design patents as well as providing reliable advice on dealing with allegations of design patent infringement. The jurors deliberated for more than three days on what constitutes an “article of manufacture” and how much Samsung’s infringement on Apple’s iPhone design is worth, but provided no significant insight into how they conducted their deliberations or what may have swayed them to award Apple half a billion dollars in damages. So, we continue to wait.

    • Qualcomm’s own experts concede Intel’s baseband chipsets are good for innovation and pricing

      At this stage, the Northern District of California is a standard-essential patent (SEP) litigation hotbed. The previous post was about Huawei’s shrinking case against Samsung, but there are some extremely interesting developments in a consumer class lawsuit against Qualcomm, related to FTC v. Qualcomm. Late last month, the consumer plaintiffs brought a motion to bar Qualcomm from enforcing a potential U.S. import ban against certain (in practical terms, Intel-powered) iPhones.

    • Five years after its founding, IP Bridge reflects Japan’s changing approach to patents

      Apart from attending IP Bridge’s celebration reception in Tokyo last week, I also had opportunities to speak to some senior managers in corporate IP groups. It seems clear that change is underway in the country’s IP marketplace. Patent enforcement and licensing activities are more widely discussed and accepted than ever before, as is transferring patents to third parties (particularly patent pools and aggregators). A couple of companies told me that they want to generate revenue from their portfolios in order to reinvest in future R&D. However, it’s worth noting that these viewed are not shared across all industry sectors.

      Many people told me that change does not come as fast in Japan as it does elsewhere – and that includes IP strategies. Over the years, though, we have seen IP Bridge attract more domestic rights owners from an expanding number of sectors to partner with it. This is solid evidence that, slowly but surely, the patent world here is changing.

    • Copyrights
      • US Supreme Court Tackles Copyright Registration Circuit Split

        Some circuit courts have held that a work is “registered” and the copyright owner can sue an infringer as soon as the applicant files the application, deposits a copy of the work and pays a fee. This is known as the “application” approach. Other circuit courts follow the “registration” approach which requires the Copyright Office to act on the application—by examining it and either approving or refusing it—before the copyright owner may file suit

‘Efficiency’ in Action: António Campinos is Sending Jobs Abroad, Then Gagging Critics

Sunday 22nd of July 2018 05:21:56 PM

He has also been blocking comments in his very first blog post (some comments posted, but none have appeared)

Summary: Campinos criticised for the decision to outsource EUIPO IT maintenance services to India as he starts blocking blog comments to muzzle his critics

THE former French-Portuguese (dual nationality) banker António Campinos, the new President of the EPO, is rumoured to be planning layoffs; a hiring freeze at the EPO has already been implemented. What can his policies at EUIPO, from which he arrived exactly 3 weeks ago, teach us?

In 2010 EUIPO awarded the contract for maintaining and developing its IT systems to a Spanish company UTE. The contract provided employment for about 150 people locally in Alicante.

The contract with UTE was originally supposed to run for eight years, but in 2017 EUIPO’s IT maintenance services were put out to tender again because, according to reports in the Spanish press, the Director of EUIPO at the time, Mr. Antonio Campinos, wanted to conclude a new contract before he left EUIPO to take up his next job as head of the EPO in Munich.

In November 2017 it was announced that the contract had been awarded to Sopra Steria, a multinational with corporate headquarters in France and worldwide operations including facilities in India which it intended to use for providing IT maintenance services to EUIPO.

It was reported that EUIPO’s decision to outsource its IT maintenance services to India was likely to cause the loss of around 150 jobs in Alicante.

The Spanish MEP Marina Albiol Guzmán criticised this decision in the European Parliament and submitted a written question to the European Commission in November 2017.

Question for written answer to the Commission
Rule 130
Marina Albiol Guzmán (GUE/NGL)

Subject: Offshoring of EUIPO computer services

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), one of the decentralised EU agencies, based in Alicante, recently awarded the contract for maintaining and developing its computer systems to Sopra Steria, a company that will provide its services from its facilities in India.
With this decision, some 150 people who used to perform those duties in Alicante will lose their jobs.

— Does the Commission consider the offshoring of services to outside the EU by European agencies proper?

— Does this sort of decision help the decentralised EU agencies to achieve their goals, such as to ‘help make Europe more competitive and a better place to live and work, thus serving the interests of EU residents as a whole’?

The vacuous answer given by Elzbieta Bieńkowska on behalf of the Commission stated that there was no reason to believe that the decision had violated the applicable procurement rules.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) is an agency with legal, administrative and financial autonomy, in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2017/1001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2017 on the European Union trade mark. This autonomy includes the power to award contracts for Information Technology (IT) projects, subject to the public procurement rules which apply to all EU institutions, including agencies. These rules do not provide the possibility for EUIPO to exclude tenderers on the basis of the geographical location of its staff. The Commission has no reasons to believe that the decision of the EUIPO to award the contract concerned to Sopra Steria (a company with headquarters in France) would have violated the public procurement rules.

Criticism of the outsourcing decision and the predicted loss of 150 jobs in Alicante was expressed in the local and national press.

The leading national daily El Mundo reported on the intervention of MEP Marina Albiol Guzmán in the European Parliament.

Albiol Guzmán and Miguel Ángel Pavón, the leader of “Guanyar Alicant”, a local Alicante-based group linked to Podemos and the United Left, issued a statement criticising the decision and calling it “unethical” because it transferred work associated with the EU agency EUIPO “to countries where salaries are cheaper and labour legislation is less strict”.

In December 2017, El Mundo reported that following Albiol Guzmán’s complaint to the European Parliament Campinos tried to justify the outsourcing decision with a blog post published on his personal EUIPO blog. However, after a number of comments critical of the decision were posted, he decided to block the posting of further comments claiming that the professionalism of EUIPO staff was being called into question.

Campinos cierra los comentarios críticos en su blog

El director ejecutivo de la Oficina de Propiedad Intelectual de la Unión Europea (Euipo), el portugués Antonio Campinos, trató de dar explicaciones sobre la externalización de los servicios informáticos a la India en su blog personal «Time Out», al que tienen acceso tanto los trabajadores internos como los externos de la agencia. Lo hizo un día después de la denuncia de la eurodiputada Marina Albiol en la Parlamento Europeo con un post que llevaba por título «On Procurement and Outsourcing».
Campinos aseguró que la decisión se basó en la mejor opción «calidad-precio» según un comité de evaluación y de acuerdo con la legislación europea. También aseguró que muchas empresas europeas externalizan sus servicios en un mercado global y que estas prácticas empresariales pueden contribuir a la creación de puestos de trabajo y riqueza en el interior de Europa.
Desde primera hora de la mañana del día siguiente se publicaron comentarios a este post tanto de trabajadores de la Euipo (funcionarios europeos) como de trabajadores subcontratados e incluso miembros del comité de empresa.
Los comentarios generalizados no ponían duda la legalidad de la externalización de los servicios de mantenimiento informático a otros países y continentes, como la India, pero sí la falta de ética de la decisión. Alguno le recordó que «no aprendemos del desastre de externalización» a la República de Mauricio hace 10 años. Otros hablaron de las elecciones sindicales en la oficina. Salió al paso uno de los miembros del «comité de personal» que en su segundo comentario aludió a estas situaciones, «que, aunque lamentables según un criterio de política social, son legales».
No faltaron apelativos como el de «colonialismo del siglo XXI» o quienes explicaron que no tiene sentido a pedir que se registren las marcas en España y la UE cuando la misma oficina tiene un mantenimiento desde India. Incluso un comentario le recordó a Campinos que Alicante le hizo un «carril bici (no exento de críticas) pagado con los impuestos de muchos de los que hoy se quedan en la calle».
Tras 17 comentarios, Campinos cerró la posibilidad de publicar más apelando al respeto que merecen los trabajadores de la Euipo cuya profesionalidad se cuestionaba.


Campinos shuts down critical comments on his blog
The Director of the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the Portuguese Antonio Campinos, tried to explain the outsourcing of IT services to India in his personal blog “Time Out”, which is accessible to both internal and external workers of the agency. He did this on the day after Marina Albiol’s complaint to the European Parliament with a blog post entitled “On Procurement and Outsourcing”
Campinos said that the decision was based on the best “quality-price” option according to an evaluation committee and in accordance with European legislation. He also said that many European companies outsource their services to a global market and that these business practices can contribute to the creation of jobs and wealth within Europe.
From early the next morning, comments to this blog post were submitted by EUIPO staff (EU officials) and subcontracters and even members of the staff committee.
In general the comments did not question the legality of outsourcing IT maintenance services to other countries and continents, such as India, but rather the lack of ethics in the decision making. Some reminded him that “we have not learned from the outsourcing disaster” to the Republic of Mauritius 10 years ago. Others talked about the union elections in the office.
One of the members of the staff committee spoke out and referred in a follow-on comment to these situations “which despite being regrettable from a social policy perspective, are legal”.
There was no shortage of comments referring to “21st century colonialism” or arguing that there is little point in requesting trademarks to be registered in Spain and the EU when the same office has its IT maintenance carried out in India. One comment even reminded Campinos that Alicante had provided him with a “bicycle lane (not without criticism) paid for by the taxes of many of those who are now on the street”.
After 17 comments, Campinos disabled the publication of further comments, appealing to the respect deserved by EUIPO staff whose professionalism was being called into question.

The Spanish media subsequently reported that the elected representatives of the local political group “Guanyar Alicant” decided to boycott EUIPO’s Christmas cocktail party in protest against what they condemned as its “ethically reprehensible” employment policy.

Cherry-Picking Dissenting Opinions on Patent Cases the Last/Latest Resort for Patent Maximalists

Sunday 22nd of July 2018 02:45:56 PM

From celebrating PTAB overturning examiners’ rejections (which are rare) to celebrating opinions that are more like appendices

Reference: Dissenting opinion

Summary: Patent maximalists have run out of substantial things to celebrate, seeing that PTAB and CAFC aren’t too interested in looking more deeply at abstract patents, such as software patents

THE Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) help review/reassess patents granted by the USPTO. In other words, they’re a quality assurance mechanism. Why would anyone object to high quality?

The firm Unified Patents typically files IPRs on behalf of multiple parties that are on the receiving end of patent lawsuits, usually but not always filed by patent trolls (because they pick on many targets, that’s their business model). Here is PTAB weighing in on the patent troll Iron Oak, which we mentioned here before. The outcome so far is more of the usual:

On July 17, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims in an IPR filed by Unified against U.S. Patent 5,966,658 owned and asserted by Iron Oak Technologies, LLC, a well-known NPE. The ’658 patent, generally directed to mobile communications (and more particularly to the automated selection of a communication path), has been asserted in 23 district court cases against such companies as Samsung, Lenovo, Huawei, and Dell. At the time of this decision, the ’658 was at issue in 11 active district court cases.

CAFC typically affirms, so if PTAB says no to a patent it will typically be the final word (no overturning on appeal). In many cases CAFC declines to review a decision without even issuing an opinion (as it would not scale).

“CAFC typically affirms, so if PTAB says no to a patent it will typically be the final word (no overturning on appeal).”Patent maximalist Richard Lloyd says that the Federal Circuit (CAFC) deals with an IPR filed by RPX, mentioning Unified Patents along the way too:

The ability of the likes of RPX and Unified Patents to file inter partes reviews (IPRs) against patents that have been asserted against their members in district court has been called into question by a recent decision from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). 
In the case, RPX filed an IPR against two patents owned by the NPE Applications in Internet Time. Those grants were part of ongoing infringement litigation between AIT and the defendant Salesforce, which is an RPX member. 
RPX filed the three IPRs more than a year after AIT filed its suit against Salesforce.

Patent maximalists generally dislike PTAB and hope that CAFC will magically put an end to it, seeing that SCOTUS was overwhelmingly supportive in Oil States. The cherry-picking thus continues. Yesterday, citing a CAFC opinion (not decision), Mr. Gross went into all caps mode: “CAN I GET AMEN #PATENT ATTORNEY BROTHERS! “The ‘abstract ideas’ idea, when used for denying a claimed invention’s patent eligibility either before or after a patent is issued, cannot thus function as a valid rule of law. [] Plager: “With the rise of software and business method patents, the ‘abstract idea’ became a weapon of choice for summary execution of what many decried as ‘bad’ patents. The problem is that it does not distinguish good from ill in any coherent sense” …”

“Are these people cherry-picking opinions rather than decisions now?”As Judith Szepesi rightly pointed out: “Sadly just Judge Plager’s opinion, not the majority. It indeed is an “incoherent body of doctrine.” What’s abstract about displaying data on two screens? That seems pretty concrete, doesn’t it? Maybe not novel, but certainly not “a mathematical function” or its equivalent.”

Henrion then said, “it is just abstract computer program giving instructions to a programmable apparatus.”

“I can implement in hardware,” said the response. “Does that make it non-abstract? Or do you just not believe in patents?”

Loaded statement. There’s a difference between opposing software patents and opposing patents as a whole/in general.

“IP” people need to study computer science before commenting on software patents as applying software to “device” (e.g. screen) does not change the fact that it’s merely an algorithm.

“About a year ago these patent boosters were obsessing over relatively rare cases wherein PTAB was vetoing examiner rejections based upon Section 101; they now obsess over non-binding opinions.”“So, so sad that that is in a dissent,” another “IP” person wrote.

Remember the dissent from CAFC Judge Pauline Newman, who sides with Microsoft in a PTAB IPR. Are these people cherry-picking opinions rather than decisions now? Speaking of Microsoft, there’s this update; it’s the latest in a patent case of HoloTouch, Inc. v Microsoft Corporation. “The court denied the parties’ stipulated motion to vacate an earlier order partially granting defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim even though the parties’ settlement was contingent on vacatur,” Docket Navigator said just before the weekend.

Anyway, the bottom line seems clear to us. About a year ago these patent boosters were obsessing over relatively rare cases wherein PTAB was vetoing examiner rejections based upon Section 101; they now obsess over non-binding opinions. How about next year? Will they obsess over what some examiner said to a colleague? What really matters is what SCOTUS, CAFC, District Courts, PTAB, USPTO officials and examiners say in their line of duty (and in that order). As things stand, Section 101 is strong, patent litigation is down sharply and so on.

Can Trade Secrets Litigation Replace (in Part) Patent Litigation?

Sunday 22nd of July 2018 07:30:11 AM

Recent: Number of US Patent Lawsuits Was More Than 50% Higher Half a Decade Ago

Patent Lawyers’ Tears

Summary: Seeing DTSA as an opportunity to combat their competition, more firms now choose to file trade secret cases whereas patent cases continue their sharp decline

WHEN IT comes to software (code), there are copyrights, but there are no patents. Those that get granted rarely survive a court’s challenge or a board’s scrutiny (this is scarcely explored in the EU, but very visible in the US). Don’t expect European Patents on software to be of much use, even if the EPO grants some (a disastrous residue of Battistelli’s trashing of the Office).

“Patents are about publication, whereas secrecy is about concealment of one’s work.”When it comes to software copyrights, or even copyleft, legal action can be taken in cases of plagiarism. If the code is secret, which is often the case, plagiarism is prevented in part by secrecy. Patents are about publication, whereas secrecy is about concealment of one’s work.

After the sharp decline in patent lawsuits there might be a shift in strategy in the US, reducing the role of patent courts and the USPTO. More trade secret disputes to come? We recently wrote about a rise of such cases and associated damages. Professor James Bessen told me that “FEDERAL trade secret litigation is up because there is a new Federal law; but trade secret & noncompete litigation has been rising for a decade…”

“Well, secrecy is far from ideal; in fact, publication in exchange for monopoly (patent) is often better, but not in the domain of software.”Mind Camilla Alexandra Hrdy’s very long new blog post/paper on the subject, Watchtroll’s take from Robert Williams, and Managing IP summary. “A Lex Machina report reveals trade secret case filing figures after passage of the DTSA, as well as the largest ever damages awards and top plaintiff and defendant law firms,” it says.

“US trade secret case filing jumped 30% in 2017,” the headline says.

Well, secrecy is far from ideal; in fact, publication in exchange for monopoly (patent) is often better, but not in the domain of software.

Links 22/7/2018: Neptune 5.4, NetBSD 8.0

Sunday 22nd of July 2018 05:13:14 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • How to install Linux on your PC

      If you are building a new system or upgrading an existing PC, installing Linux as the OS may not be the first option you considered.

      Linux is the underlying structure used to power operating system distributions which are similar to the software most users are familiar with – Windows.

      It is open source and prevalent in a number of software distributions, from smart IoT platforms and Android smartphones to server operating systems.

      Installing a Linux distribution instead of Microsoft Windows on a new or existing machine can be great for reducing overhead and saving costs.

      While certain video games and applications may not run correctly on Linux desktop distributions, most common tasks can be conducted with the same level of convenience as “standard operating” systems.

    • Chromebook Users Will Soon Be Able to Install Debian Packages via the Files App

      Google continues to work on the Linux app support implementation for its Linux-based Chrome OS operating system for Chromebooks by adding initial support for installing Debian packages via the Files app.

      Linux app support in Chrome OS is here, but it’s currently in beta testing as Google wants to make it ready for the masses in an upcoming stable Chrome OS release. Meanwhile, Google’s Chrome OS team details in a recent Chromium Gerrit commit initial support for installing Linux packages in the .deb file format used by Debian-based operating systems directly from the Files app.

  • Kernel Space
    • Benchmarks
      • Jonathan Dieter: Small file performance on distributed filesystems – Round 2

        Last year, I ran some benchmarks on the GlusterFS, CephFS and LizardFS distributed filesystems, with some interesting results. I had a request to redo the test after a LizardFS RC was released with a FUSE3 client, since it is supposed to give better small file performance.

        I did have a request last time to include RozoFS, but, after a brief glance at the documentation, it looks like it requires a minimum of four servers, and I only had three available. I also looked at OrangeFS (originally PVFS2), but it doesn’t seem to provide replication, and, in preliminary testing, it was over ten times slower than the alternatives. NFS was tested and its results are included as a baseline.

        I once again used compilebench, which was designed to emulate real-life disk usage by creating a kernel tree, reading all the files in the tree, simulating a compile of the tree, running make clean, and finally deleting the tree.

        The test was much the same as last time, but with one important difference. Last time, the clients were running on the same machines that were running the servers. LizardFS benefited hugely from this as it has a “prefer local chunkserver” feature that will skip the network completely if there’s a copy on the local server. This time around, the clients were run on completely separate machines from the servers, which removed that advantage for LizardFS, but which I believe is a better reflection on how distributed filesystems are generally used.

        I would like to quickly note that there was very little speed difference between LizardFS’s FUSE2 and FUSE3 clients. The numbers included are from the FUSE3 client, but they only differed by a few percentage points from the FUSE2 client.

      • Phoronix Test Suite 8.2 Milestone 1 Released For Open-Source Benchmarking

        The first development snapshot of Phoronix Test Suite 8.2 is now available as what will be the next quarterly feature update to our open-source Linux / BSD / macOS / Windows automated benchmarking software and framework.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • What Build System Should Qt 6 Use?

        While developers have begun discussing plans for Qt 6.0 with plans to ship this upgraded tool-kit in 2020, one of the unanswered questions is over what build system should Qt 6 be using.

        Up to now there’s been a lot of pointing at Qbs as the new build system for Qt6. Qbs dates back to the Nokia days but has been seeing a number of improvements in recent times under the assumption it could replace Qmake as the default build system of Qt6. Qbs is designed to be easier to use than Qmake, which goes back to the original Trolltech days, while having the potential to be more powerful and offer much more flexibility.

        Without voicing a preference as to the Qt 6 build system, Intel open-source developer Thiago Macieira and a longtime upstream Qt developer, has shared what he feels should be some requirements of whatever build system is selected.

      • I’m going to Akademy

        As for the BoFs, I’ll probably attend the sessions about Phabricator, Flatpak, OpenQA, Wayland, as well as the Config Workshop.

      • Plasma 5.14 Wallpaper “Cluster”

        The time for a new Plasma wallpaper is here, so for 5.14 I’m excited to offer up “Cluster”.

        But first, please allow me to gush for a moment. In tandem with Inkscape, this is the first wallpaper for KDE produced using the ever excellent Krita. For graphic design my computer has a bit of beef to it, but when I work with Inkscape or GIMP things always chug just a bit more than I feel they should. Whenever I’ve had the distinct pleasure of opening Krita, even on my lesser powered laptop, it’s always been productive, rewarding, and performant. I’m looking forward to using Krita more in future wallpapers. *claps for Krita*

      • KDE Applications 18.08 Software Suite Enters Beta, Adds Apple Wallet Pass Reader

        With KDE Applications 18.04 reached end of life with the third and last point release, the KDE Project started working earlier this month on the next release of their open-source software suite, KDE Applications 18.08.

        KDE Applications is an open-source software suite designed as part of the KDE ecosystem, but can also be used independently on any Linux-based operating system. To fully enjoy the KDE Plasma desktop environment, users will also need to install various of the apps that are distributed as part of the KDE Applications initiative.

        KDE Applications 18.08 is the next major version of the open-source software suite slated for release on August 16, 2018. As of yesterday, July 20, the KDE Applications 18.08 software suite entered beta testing as version 18.07.80, introducing two new libraries, KPkPass and KItinerary.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOME 3.30 Desktop Environment to Enter Beta on August 1, GNOME 3.29.4 Is Out

        With a two-day delay, the GNOME Project through Javier Jardón announced today the release of the fourth and last development snapshot of the GNOME 3.30 desktop environment before it enters beta testing next month, GNOME 3.29.4, which continues to add improvements to various of GNOME’s core components and applications.

        However, due to the summer vacation and the GUADEC conference, GNOME 3.29.4 isn’t a major snapshot as many would have expected. It only adds some minor changes and bug fixes to a handful of components, including GNOME Shell, Mutter, Evolution, GNOME Photos, GNOME Builder, GNOME Online Accounts, Polari, Bijiben, Evince, Epiphany, Baobab, GNOME Control Center, and File Roller.

      • GNOME 3.29.4 Released As Another Step Towards GNOME 3.30
      • Meg Ford: GUADEC 2018

        I was particularly interested in and disappointed by Michael Catanzaro’s talk “Migrating from JHBuild to BuildStream”. I appreciate all the time and effort the Release Team has put into maintaining and developing the build systems, so I’m including my experience here as an example, not as a criticism.
        Over time I’ve gotten used to JHBuild and become adept at searching for and fixing its sometimes bizarre error messages. A few months ago, after running into some modules that failed on JHBuild, I read the announcement about GNOME’s modulesets moving to BuildStream. I spent a couple days removing JHBuild and rebuilding everything in BuildStream. Except I ran out of disk space. So I removed as much as I could and started over. Except then PulseAudio wouldn’t work. Luckily I’d occasionally run into the same errors caused by an unavailable PulseAudio daemon when I was using JHBuild. I tried restarting the daemon, etc, and looked for info on the subject. In the end it turned out that PulseAudio wasn’t available within the sandbox, so I scrapped BuildStream and went back to JHBuild.
        Going forward, I’m planning to move from JHBuild to using FlatPak, Builder, and GNOME’s nightly runtime build. I’m happy that the community is providing solutions, and, while things are still in a confusing state, at least they are moving quickly in interesting and promising directions.

      • On Flatpak Nightlies

        As far as I know, it was not possible to run any nightly applications during this two week period, except developer applications like Builder that depend on org.gnome.Sdk instead of the normal org.gnome.Platform. If you used Epiphany Technology Preview and wanted a functioning web browser, you had to run arcane commands to revert to the last good runtime version.

        This multi-week response time is fairly typical for us. We need to improve our workflow somehow. It would be nice to be able to immediately revert to the last good build once a problem has been identified, for instance.

        Meanwhile, even when the runtime is working fine, some apps have been broken for months without anyone noticing or caring. Perhaps it’s time for a rethink on how we handle nightly apps. It seems likely that only a few apps, like Builder and Epiphany, are actually being regularly used. The release team has some hazy future plans to take over responsibility for the nightly apps (but we have to take over the runtimes first, since those are more important), and we’ll need to somehow avoid these issues when we do so. Having some form of notifications for failed builds would be a good first step.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • Neptune 5.4

        We are proud to announce version 5.4 of Neptune .

        This update represents the current state of Neptune 5 and renews the ISO file so if you install Neptune you don’t have to download tons of Updates.

        In this update we introduce a new look and feel package called Neptune Dark. This comes together with an modified icon theme optimized for dark themes called Faenza Dark. We improved hardware support further by providing Linux Kernel 4.16.16 with improved drivers and bugfixes.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Fedora
        • TLS 1.3 Via GnuTLS Is Planned For Fedora 29

          The feature list for Fedora 29 continues growing and the latest is about shipping GnuTLS with TLS 1.3 support enabled.

          TLS 1.3 was approved by the Internet Engineering Task Force earlier this year as the newest version of this protocol for making secure web connections that is key to HTTPS. TLS 1.3 offers various security and performance improvements over TLS 1.2 as well as lower-latency, better handling of long-running sessions, etc.

    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Ripple’s Evan Schwartz says Codius might pave the way for open-source services

      The Creator of Codius, Evan Schwartz, spoke about the technology recently at CSAIL Initiative Launch. Codius is a smart contract and distributed applications hosting platform developed jointly by Stefan Thomas, the Founder of Coil, and Evan Schwartz.

      Schwartz started off by saying that Codius is much more flexible in hosting decentralized applications when compared to the blockchain. The reason for many developers to choose the blockchain is mainly security and redundancy.

    • Nish Tech Simplifies eCommerce Integrations With the Launch of Open-Source Framework for Sitecore Commerce

      Nish Tech, a leader in Sitecore and eCommerce implementations, released a framework to the user community to accelerate and simplify development and integration for ecommerce sites. Nish Tech, a Gold Sitecore Implementation Partner with a specialization in eCommerce, initially unveiled a preview at the European Sitecore User Group summit in Berlin, Germany earlier this year. Today marks the official launch of this framework.

      In most online ecommerce implementations, integration with backend systems like ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and PIM (Product Information Management) play an important role. Most companies spend significant time/effort building connections to these systems. Customers using a modern ecommerce platform, like Sitecore Experience Commerce in the digital commerce space need a communication link to the backend systems to complete ecommerce transactions.

    • Appareo offers open source on fourth-generation Stratus receiver

      Appareo released a new addition to its Stratus family of pilot-friendly affordable avionics this week. Stratus 3 is the latest model in the line of industry-leading ADS-B receivers first introduced in 2012. The company will exhibit Stratus 3 as part of its full line of Stratus products next week at the annual EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 fly-in and expo.

  • BSD
    • Announcing NetBSD 8.0

      The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce NetBSD 8.0, the sixteenth major release of the NetBSD operating system.

    • NetBSD 8.0 Officially Released With USB3 Support, Security Improvements & UEFI

      While it’s been on mirrors for a few days, NetBSD 8.0 was officially released this weekend.

      NetBSD 8.0 represents this BSD operating system project’s 16th major release and introduces USB 3.0 support, an in-kernel audio mixer, a new socket layer, Meltdown/Spectre mitigation, eager FPU support, SMAP support, UEFI boot-loader support for x86/x86_64 hardware, and a variety of long sought after improvements — many of which are improving the security of NetBSD.

    • NetBSD 8.0 Released with Spectre V2/V4, Meltdown, and Lazy FPU Mitigations

      The NetBSD open-source operating system has been updated this week to version 8.0, a major release that finally brings mitigations for all the Spectre variants, Meltdown, and Lazy FPU security vulnerabilities, as well as many stability improvements and bug fixes.

      Coming seven months after the first and last point release of the NetBSD 7 series, NetBSD 8.0 is here with mitigations for both the Spectre Variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715) and Spectre Variant 4 (CVE-2018-3639) security vulnerabilities, as well as for the Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754) and Lazy FPU State Save/Restore (CVE-2018-3665) vulnerabilities.

    • Crowdfunding for extension management in GIMP (and other improvements)

      Well that’s the big question! Let’s be clear: currently security of plug-ins in GIMP sucks.

      So the first thing is that our upload website should make basic file type checks and compare them with the metadata listing. If your metadata announces you ship brushes, and we find executables in there, we would block it.

      Also all executables (i.e. plug-ins or scripts) would be held for manual review. That also means we’ll need to find people in the community to do the review. I predict that it will require some time for things to set up smoothly and the road may be bumpy at first.

      Finally we won’t accept built-files immediately. If code is being compiled, we would need to compile it ourselves on our servers. This is obviously a whole new layer of complexity (even more because GIMP can run on Linux, Windows, macOS, BSDs…). So at first, we will probably not allow C and C++ extensions on our repository. But WAIT! I know that some very famous and well-maintained extensions exist and are compiled. We all think of G’Mic of course! We may make exceptions for trustworthy plug-in creators (with a well-known track record), to allow them to upload their compiled plug-ins as extensions. But these will be really exceptional.

      Obviously this will be a difficult path. We all know how security is a big deal, and GIMP is not so good here. At some point, we should even run every extension in a sandbox for instance. Well some say: the trip is long, but the way is clear.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Python’s founder steps down, India’s new net neutrality regulations, and more open source news

      The head of one of the most popular free software/open source software projects is stepping down. Guido van Rossum announced that he’s giving up leadership of the project he founded, effective immediately.

      van Rossum, affectionately known as Python’s “benevolent dictator for life,” made the move after the bruising process of approving a recent enhancement proposal to the scripting language. He also cited some undisclosed medical problems as another factor in his resignation. van Rossum stated that he “doesn’t want to think as hard about his creation and is switching to being an ‘ordinary core developer’,” according to The Inquirer.

      van Rossum, who “has confirmed he won’t be involved in appointing his replacement. In fact, it sounds very much like he doesn’t think there should be one,” believes that Python’s group of committers can do his job.

    • Open Data
      • FLIR Creates Open-Source Dataset for Driving Assistance

        Sensor systems developer FLIR Systems Inc. has announced an open-source machine learning thermal dataset designed for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and self-driving vehicle researchers, developers, and auto manufacturers, featuring a compilation of more than 10,000 annotated thermal images of day and nighttime scenarios.

        The first of its kind to include annotations for cars, other vehicles, people, bicycles, and dogs, the starter thermal dataset enables developers to begin testing and evolving convolutional neural networks with the FLIR Automotive Development Kit (ADKTM). The dataset empowers the automotive community to quickly evaluate thermal sensors on next-generation algorithms. When combined with visible light cameras, lidar, and radar, thermal sensor data paired with machine learning helps create a more comprehensive and redundant system for identifying and classifying roadway objects, especially pedestrians and other living things.

      • Open-source map of accessible restaurants in Calgary growing into something beautiful

        A call on Twitter for a list of accessible restaurants has led to an online mapping movement to plot out user-friendly restaurants around the city.

        On Monday, Calgary-based tech entrepreneur Travis Martin saw a tweet from Natasha Gibson (@ktash) asking Councillor Druh Farrell if she knew of some accessible restaurants for her senior parents.

    • Open Access/Content
      • Universities in Germany and Sweden Lose Access to Elsevier Journals [iophk: "sci-hub to the rescue"]

        This month, approximately 300 academic institutions in Germany and Sweden lost access to new papers published in Elsevier’s journals due to a standstill in negotiations for nationwide subscription contracts. While Elsevier’s papers remain inaccessible, academics are turning to alternative means of obtaining them, such as using inter-library loan services, emailing authors, finding earlier versions on preprint servers, or buying individual papers.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Open Source Laboratory Rocker is Super Smooth

        Lab equipment is often expensive, but budgets can be tight and not always up to getting small labs or researchers what they need. That’s why [akshay_d21] designed an Open Source Lab Rocker with a modular tray that uses commonly available hardware and 3D printed parts. The device generates precisely controlled, smooth motion to perform automated mild to moderately aggressive mixing of samples by tilting the attached tray in a see-saw motion. It can accommodate either a beaker or test tubes, but since the tray is modular, different trays can be designed to fit specific needs.

  • Programming/Development
    • Update on our planned move from Azure to Google Cloud Platform

      Improving the performance and reliability of has been a top priority for us. On this front we’ve made some incremental gains while we’ve been planning for a large change with the potential to net significant results: running GitLab as a cloud native application on Kubernetes.

      The next incremental step on our cloud native journey is a big one: migrating from Azure to Google Cloud Platform (GCP). While Azure has been a great provider for us, GCP has the best Kubernetes support and we believe will the best provider for our long-term plans. In the short term, our users will see some immediate benefits once we cut over from Azure to GCP including encrypted data at rest on by default and faster caching due to GCP’s tight integration with our existing CDN.

  • What’s the full story behind Elon Musk’s involvement with the Thai cave rescue effort?
  • Science
    • Shortage of computer experts increases risk of cyberattack

      Britain has an acute shortage of cyberexperts to protect power stations, nuclear plants and hospitals, a committee of MPs and peers warns today.

    • Stem vital to UK’s future cybersecurity

      The Cyber Security Skills and the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure report from Parliament’s Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy said the gap between the demand and the supply of skilled workers for the critical national infrastructure sector is a “cause for alarm” and the government “no real sense of the scale of the problem or how to address it effectively”.

      The report stated: “A key challenge for education policy is the considerable time lag between a pupil joining primary school and ultimately entering the workforce, and the extraordinary pace of technological evolution during the same period.

      “A pupil who chooses to pursue higher education will spend at least seventeen years in formal education. Consequently, the education system cannot—and should not—be expected to anticipate and deliver the range of specialist skills and knowledge required nearly two decades later.”

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Migrant Children Detained in Shelters Being Drugged
    • Honduras Files Appeal Against WTO Ruling That Allowed Tobacco Plain Packaging

      Australia’s legislation came into effect on 1 December 2012 and requires that all tobacco products sold, offered for sale, or otherwise supplied in Australia must be in plain packaging.

      Four tobacco-producing countries initiated disputes against Australia, arguing that the country was infringing intellectual property rules among other concerns. The four countries were Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Indonesia. The report of the WTO dispute settlement panel was released [pdf] on 28 June (IPW, Health & IP, 28 June 2018).

      On 19 July, Honduras filed an appeal against the WTO panel ruling.

      The Honduras case had included an assertion of infringement of trademarks and geographical indications by the plain packaging requirements.

    • NGOs: Countries Pressured To Drop Reference To Affordable Medicines In UN TB Negotiations

      The High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis will take place at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 26 September.

      Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) issued a release today, arguing that developing countries would be specifically affected by removal of the language.

      “How is it possible that global leaders will gather for the first time to decide how to tackle the world’s most deadly infectious disease killer, and yet some countries backed by their big pharma lobbies are pushing to remove any mention of the need for vital medicines to be affordable?” said Sharonann Lynch, HIV and TB Advisor for MSF’s Access Campaign.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen

      Hundreds of thousands of people showed up across the United States at more than 600 gatherings three weeks ago. They came out to protest Donald Trump‘s “zero tolerance” immigration policy in highly choreographed, Democratic Party-affiliated “Families Belong Together” rallies and marches. Liberal celebrities marched and spoke. Local, state, and federal Democratic Party politicians and office-holders gave passionate speeches denouncing Trump’s separation of Central American migrant children from their parents at the southern U.S. border.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Ecuadorian president arrives in Britain as Julian Assange’s fate hangs in the balance

      Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno arrives in London today, with his administration seeking to force WikiLeaks editor and Australian citizen Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian embassy there, where he sought and was granted political asylum in 2012.

      If Assange leaves the embassy he will be imprisoned by Britain for breaching bail and almost certainly face an application to extradite him to the United States to stand trial on manufactured charges of espionage.


      The American intelligence agencies are determined to prosecute Assange as a “spy.” The campaign to arrest him was escalated to a “priority” in April 2017, after WikiLeaks began publishing the “Vault 7” leaks that revealed how the CIA had developed malware to hack phones, PCs, servers, smart televisions and vehicle computer systems in every part of the world.

      Moreno’s government has betrayed Assange as part of its venal attempts, on behalf of the Ecuadorian business elite, to restore economic and political relations with Washington. The London embassy cut off Assange’s communications just one day after top-level meetings in Ecuador with representatives of US Southern Command on re-establishing military cooperation.

      Underscoring Moreno’s complicity in the persecution of Assange, his aides announced he has no intention of visiting the embassy whilst in London to even check on the well-being of a persecuted journalist his government is nominally providing political asylum.

    • Julian Assange’s Hand Over To UK May Be Imminent According To WikiLeaks

      According to a tweet by the internationally known organization WikiLeaks, its founder’s fate may be decided within a mere few days or weeks, and Julian Assange might be handed over on a silver platter by Ecuador to the UK government. Then presumably Assange will be handed over to the U.S. government and extradited to the United States.

      The head of RT, Margarita Simonyan, tweeted in Russian that her sources indicate Assange will be handed over to UK authorities.

    • Ecuador Will Imminently Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange and Hand Him Over to the UK. What Comes Next?

      ECUADOR’S PRESIDENT Lenin Moreno traveled to London on Friday for the ostensible purpose of speaking at the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit (Moreno has been confined to a wheelchair since being shot in a 1998 robbery attempt). The concealed, actual purpose of the President’s trip is to meet with British officials to finalize an agreement under which Ecuador will withdraw its asylum protection of Julian Assange, in place since 2012, eject him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and then hand over the WikiLeaks founder to British authorities.

      Moreno’s itinerary also notably includes a trip to Madrid, where he will meet with Spanish officials still seething over Assange’s denunciation of human rights abuses perpetrated by Spain’s central government against protesters marching for Catalonia independence. Almost three months ago, Ecuador blocked Assange from accessing the internet, and Assange has not been able to communicate with the outside world ever since. The primary factor in Ecuador’s decision to silence him was Spanish anger over Assange’s tweets about Catalonia.


      The central oddity of Assange’s case – that he has been effectively imprisoned for eight years despite never having been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime – is virtually certain to be prolonged once Ecuador hands him over to the U.K. Even under the best-case scenario, it appears highly likely that Assange will continue to be imprisoned by British authorities.

      The only known criminal proceeding Assange currently faces is a pending 2012 arrest warrant for “failure to surrender” – basically a minor bail violation charge that arose when he obtained asylum from Ecuador rather than complying with bail conditions by returning to court for a hearing on his attempt to resist extradition to Sweden.

      That charge carries a prison term of three months and a fine, though it is possible that the time Assange has already spent in prison in the UK could be counted against that sentence. In 2010, Assange was imprisoned in Wandsworth Prison, kept in isolation, for 10 days until he was released on bail; he was then under house arrest for 550 days at the home of a supporter.

      Assange’s lawyer, Jen Robinson, told the Intercept that he would argue that all of that prison time already served should count toward (and thus completely fulfill) any prison term imposed on the “failure to surrender” charge, though British prosecutors would almost certainly contest that claim. Assange would also argue that he had a reasonable, valid basis for seeking asylum rather than submitting to UK authorities: namely, reasonable fear that he would be extradited to the U.S. for prosecution for the act of publishing documents.

    • Breaking: Possible Hand-Over Of Julian Assange To The UK May Be Imminent

      Russian media is hardly the first source of dire warnings regarding Assange’s safety in recent weeks. Just Days ago, the World Socialist Website related: “The London Times reported July 15 on secret talks between the British and Ecuadorian governments. They are apparently intending to expel WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has enjoyed political asylum for six years. The article said the talks were “an attempt to remove Assange from the embassy,” and they were being run at the highest levels of government. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Sir Alan Duncan, is personally involved.”

    • WikiLeaks May Get Served For DNC Lawsuit Over Twitter

      In April the Democratic National Committee (DNC) filed a novel lawsuit against WikiLeaks alleging they were part of a global conspiracy to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It is widely believed that by publishing hacked emails from the DNC and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign WikiLeaks hurt Clinton and helped Trump become president.

      The hacked emails came back into the public eye in June when special counsel Robert Mueller issued 12 new indictments against Russian military intelligence officers working for Vladimir Putin. The substance of the indictments is that the Russians illegally hacked into the DNC servers and illegally stole emails and other proprietary documents.

      Three months after filing the lawsuit the DNC has still not been successful in its attempts to serve WikiLeaks as is required in order to get the lawsuit started. If WikiLeaks can continue to avoid being served notice of the lawsuit then the lawsuit can never begin.

      So now CBS News has reported that the DNC is trying a unique new approach to get its lawsuit notice served to WikiLeaks.

    • Ecuador May Be Getting Ready to Expel Julian Assange

      I don’t have any independent knowledge of what will happen to Assange next, or whether he will indeed eventually be extradited to the United States. But I will say this. If the case brought against him is a fairly ordinary one of publishing classified material, I expect, contra Greenwald, that virtually no Democrats and absolutely no journalists will support the government’s case.¹ There would, unfortunately, probably be a few Democratic politicians who would cheer his prosecution, but even there I think (or hope, anyway) that their numbers would be small. If this case goes forward, I suppose it will be a good test of whose level of cynicism is currently best calibrated to the current mood of the American public.

    • Ecuador Will Withdraw Asylum Protection From Julian Assange And Hand Him Over To British Authorities

      This comes after Ecuador blocked Assange from gaining access to the internet around three months ago. Since then, no one has heard from Assange directly. The reason for the internet ban is believed to be linked to Assange taking a stance against the Spanish government in Catalonia’s separatist crisis, after which Ecuador warned Assange that “he has no reason to interfere in Ecuadorian politics because his status does not allow it,” reported the Local. The Ecuadorian President has called Julian a “hacker,” an “inherited problem,” and a “stone in the shoe.”

    • Julian Assange to be handed over to UK officials: Report

      Assange first came to the embassy when he faced a warrant for arrest following allegations of sexual assault and rape from the Swedish government. He has denied the allegations, and the investigation was closed last year.

    • Ecuador may be close to ejecting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from its London embassy

      …Moreno is close to a deal as early as this week

    • speculation over Assange, Correa grows as Ecuador President Moreno visits UK, Spain

      Hunt said, “At any time he wants to he is free to walk out onto the street of, and the British police will have a warm welcome for him.”

      In the UK Assange is facing only a minor charge for failing to turn up to a court hearing.

      Another point in Moreno’s agenda might be former president Rafael Correa. According to Andres Michelena, Secretary of Communications, the government has put together a team to counter the narrative promoted by Correa that he is a victim of political persecution.

    • Ecuador’s Agenda: Squeezing and Surrendering Assange

      Since the changing of the guard in Ecuador, President Lenín Moreno has shown a warmer feeling towards the United States, and a desire to raise the issue of Assange’s stay in the embassy with US Vice President Mike Pence with the urgency of man desiring to be rid of a problem. The UK government has also been brought into the mix. The forces against Assange are marshalling themselves with a renewed impatience.

    • Ecuador Will Be Handing Assange Over To UK Authorities ‘In Coming Weeks Or Days’: RT

      Ecuador is planning to hand over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to UK authorities in the “coming weeks or even days,” RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said, citing her own sources. Simonyan reported the news in a recent tweet, which was reposted by WikiLeaks.

    • Ecuador to Withdraw Asylum For Assange – Reports

      Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno is not planning to meet with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Julian Assange, who is residing in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, during the president’s upcoming visit to the United Kingdom, the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry said on July 19.

      A source close to the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry and the president’s office, refusing to speak publicly, has confirmed that Moreno is close to settling if he has not already settled, an agreement to hand over Assange to the UK within the next several weeks, the Intercept reported.

      Withdrawal of Assange’s asylum and his ejection could come as early as this week.

      According to Ecuadorian Deputy Foreign Minister Andres Teran, Quito and London are currently negotiating Assange’s future, but Moreno’s involvement in the talks has not been confirmed.

    • Julian Assange’s ‘days NUMBERED’ as Ecuador ‘ready to EVICT’ Wikileaks founder

      A source close to the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry reportedly confirmed that Moreno is close to reaching a settlement with the UK within the next few weeks.

      According to the source the eviction could come as early as next week.

      It is known that Ecuador’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andres Teran is currently negotiating Assange’s future.

    • Ecuador’s president to hand Assange over to UK during London visit – Greenwald
    • Ecuador about to boot out Julian Assange – reports
    • Julian Assange Could Be Turned Over To U.K. Authorities Soon: Report
    • Greenwald: Ecuador Working to Finalize Assange’s Release to UK Officials
    • Ecuador to Hand Over Julian Assange to British Authorities
    • Report: Ecuador close to evicting Julian Assange from London embassy
    • Ecuador ‘close’ to evicting Julian Assange from London embassy

      Sweden has since dropped its case against him, but Assange believes he will be extradited to the US for questioning over WikiLeaks activities if he leaves the building.

    • Ecuador is Handing Over Julian Assange to the United Kingdom
    • Julian Assange will ‘immediately’ be ejected from embassy to face possible prosecution: Glen Greenwald report
    • Ecuadorian sources tell Intercept that Julian Assange could be evicted from London embassy this week

      Ahead of Moreno’s visit to London, his national secretary of political management, Paul Granda, asserted on July 19 that “there is no specific meeting planned on Assange.” The same day, acting Ecuadorian foreign minister, Andres Teran, claimed that Moreno’s government is “not in talks with the United States” over the WikiLeaks editor.

      These statements have no credibility. All evidence, reinforced by the Intercept report, points to the opposite conclusion: A conspiracy is well advanced, involving the US, British, Ecuadorian and Australian governments, to have Assange hauled before a show trial in the US.

    • Julian Assange is free to leave Ecuadorean embassy any time, British foreign secretary says
    • Julian Assange: UK dares Wikileaks to leave Ecuadorean embassy
    • Inside WikiLeaks, the Publisher that Changed the World

      Silenced and cut off from the outside world, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the last six years with no access to sunlight, fresh air, or proper medical treatment. Furthermore, last March President Lenin Moreno’s Ecuadorian government cut his access to the internet, phone calls and even visitors and journalists. For a man who has already been confined to the embassy for so long, these restrictions are particularly harsh.

      I began working as one of WikiLeaks’ media partners in 2009, before Assange and WikiLeaks published such bombshells as the “Collateral Murder” video. Over the last nine years, I have partnered with WikiLeaks on behalf of my newspaper, the Italian daily La Repubblica to work on the Podesta emails and many of its other secret files, except for those that WikiLeaks released without media partners: the DNC emails, the Saudi Cables, Turkey’s ruling party emails, the Hacking Team documents, the Collateral Murder video and the Brennan emails.

      Like its work or not, WikiLeaks is an independent media organization that doesn’t have to rely on traditional media to publish its scoops. Indeed it was founded to bypass the legal qualms traditional media may have about publishing classified information.

      With its 5.5 million followers on Twitter, WikiLeaks has a huge social media presence that gives its work immediate impact. But WikiLeaks has published most of its revelations in collaboration with a number of media partners.

    • Report: Ecuador Handing Over Julian Assange to U.K. in ‘Coming Weeks or Even Days’

      In a highly publicized speech to the media from the balcony’s Ecuador London embassy in 2012, Assange urged U.S. authorities to suspend its probe into WikiLeaks. “I ask President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks,” Assange said. “The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation. The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters.”

    • Ecuador Rumored to Hand Julian Assange to UK Authorities in “Days” or “Weeks”

      Though Moreno campaigned as a progressive leftist in the style of Rafael Correa, his predecessor who had granted Assange asylum, he has shown himself to be eager to return Ecuador to the fold of U.S. and U.K. influence and neoliberal economic policies. Since his election, Moreno has barred Correa from running for re-election and removed Correa loyalists from his cabinet. He has also begun paving the way for the U.S. military to regain its foothold in the country, which was abruptly ended in 2009 when Correa expelled the U.S. military from its base, and has also sought new financing from the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund.

    • Ecuador: Speculation Over Assange, Correa Grows as President Moreno Visits UK, Spain

      Last week the leader of the Spanish party Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, argued the detention order was part of a trend of judicializing politics in the region.

      After the events in the U.K. Moreno will head to Spain, where he is expected to meet Pedro Sanchez, the Prime Minister of Spain.

      Moreno will be accompanied by his wife, Rocio Gonzalez, who he appointed as president of Toda Una Vida social plan and a dozen Ecuadorean officials.

    • UK Minister dares Assange to leave embassy

      Speaking alongside Mr Hunt, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the government was offering Mr Assange consular support.

    • UK minister dares Julian Assange to leave Ecuadorean embassy
    • DNC files motion to serve lawsuit against WikiLeaks via Twitter

      Three months after filing a lawsuit against the Trump campaign, the Russian government and WikiLeaks that alleges a massive conspiracy to tilt the 2016 election in President Trump’s favor, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has so far been unsuccessful in its attempts to serve WikiLeaks.

      So the DNC is trying a new tactic to serve its complaint to the website that leaked internal DNC emails during the 2016 election — Twitter. The DNC filed a motion Friday in federal court in Manhattan requesting permission to serve the complaint to WikiLeaks on a platform the DNC argues the website uses regularly.

      “Because WikiLeaks has more of a virtual than a physical presence, the court can and should exercise its authority … to authorize service by Twitter,” the motion reads.

    • Are US media outlets repentant about reporting on DNC emails alleged hacked by ‘the Russians’? No

      US media outlets have few regrets about reporting on the shady practices of the DNC, Hillary Clinton’s private speeches, and other scoops revealed by emails allegedly leaked by Russian hackers, The Washington Post reports.

      Erik Wemple, The Washington Post’s media critic, decided to reach out to American news organizations after Neera Tanden, the president and CEO of the Soros-funded, Clinton-friendly Center for American Progress, accused “every reporter who gleefully trafficked in stolen emails via Wikileaks” of “abetting a crime – not illegal activity by itself but unethical and immoral.”

    • Truth Betrayed: WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange to be Handed to Americans

      The truth will set you free, as long as it not the truth about the corrupt governments that run the world.

      Julian Assange has been instrumental in shining a light on the corruption of government, but he will now be handed to America’s lackey the British, and obviously he will then be fed to the Americans. The truth clearly has no place in our modern world.

      Hillary Clinton who was exposed with her own words by Assange is yet to be charged with any offenses.

      Ecuador is ready to hand over the WikiLeaks founder to the UK in “coming weeks or even days,” RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said citing her own sources, as prospects of his eviction from the embassy are back in the media.

      “My sources tell [Julian] Assange will be handed over to Britain in the coming weeks or even days,” Simonyan wrote in a recent tweet which was reposted by WikiLeaks. “Like never before, I wish my sources were wrong,” she continued.

      Simonyan’s message comes, as speculations Ecuador is in talks with the UK over the future of Assange are back again in British press. Earlier this week, the Times reported Britain is locked in top-tier discussions with the Ecuadorians in a bid to remove Assange from their London embassy.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Blue whale harpooned by cannon and butchered: Millionaire whaler Kristjan Loftsson vows to carry on killing

      A rare hybrid of a blue whale and a fin whale, it would have made an awesome sight rising through the waves.

      But, as these shocking images show, the determination of one Icelandic whaler to kill it for profit meant its body has now been hacked to pieces.

      The helpless animal was harpooned in international waters by men working for multi-millionaire Kristjan Loftsson, the small country’s most notorious whaling magnate.

    • Yet another hot day far up in the Arctic circle – northern Finland already at 33 °C by 11:30 UTC (July 18)! | Severe Weather Europe
    • The Billion Tree Project In Pakistan Is A Success

      The Billion Tree Tsunami project in Pakistan has been a success. About 730 million trees were regrown using various forestry measures for regeneration, and three hundred million seedlings were planted using about 40 different species in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

      Also, nine million eucalyptus trees were planted in Heroshah in 2015-2016 by 16,000 laborers. They are a fast-growing species, so they can provide benefits to landscapes which have been stripped resulting in problems with erosion.“We are 100% confident that the figure about the billion trees is correct,” said Kamran Hussain, a manager of the Pakistani branch of the World Wildlife Fund.


      Some people living in heavily forested areas were receiving annual royalties from logging, but after the Taliban cut so many trees for themselves their earnings dropped by as much as 90%, reportedly.

      The UN has noted multiple important benefits generated by forests, saying “Forests provide many significant resources and functions including wood products and non-wood products, recreational opportunities, habitat for wildlife, conservation of biological diversity, water and soil, and play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle. They support employment and traditional uses, and biodiversity.” They also prevent erosion, provide shelter and food for animals and generate oxygen. Some trees produce for food humans and forests are extremely valuable to human economies.

  • Finance
    • Thieves use free-to-play games to turn stolen credit-card numbers into cash

      The beauty of the system is its automation: everything from the creation of the Apple accounts to the game logins to the item purchases and resales is automated, meaning that the scammers just have to press Go and start cashing out.

    • Scammers Are Using ‘Clash of Clans’ to Launder Money From Stolen Credit Cards

      Kromtech Security—a German-based IT and security company—has discovered evidence of a large scheme where scammers use stolen credit cards to buy in-app currencies from mobile games Clash of Clans, Clan Royale, and Marvel Contest of Champions, then sell those currencies on the grey market for cash.

    • Digital Laundry: how credit card thieves use free-to-play apps to launder their ill-gotten gains

      The resources even maintain value after purchase, because in many cases, once bought, they can be traded, adding to the game play. The game itself can also be transferred from one account to another. Because of this, resources gathered or bought and games built to advanced levels can also be resold. It is the selling of these on third party markets that holds the door open to the illicit activity that we found taking place.

    • Amazon Warehouse Strike in Spain Reportedly Results in Police Clashes, Arrests

      With help from our colleague Carlos Zuhamensky at our Spanish-language offshoot Gizmodo ES, we were able to speak with Juan Manuel Rosado, a spokesperson for the CSIT union in the Amazon Company Workers Committee about yesterday’s violent clash. His words have been transcribed and translated by Zuhamensky.

    • Jeff Bezos’s fortune has come at the expense of workers and society not receiving their fair share

      This week Jeff Bezos was named the world’s richest man by Bloomberg’s Billionaire’s Index, with a staggering $152bn (£117bn) in net worth following a jump in the Amazon share price on Amazon Prime day. Looking further into how he came to be there reveals a story of the global economy in 2018. While a gilded class sees huge returns, it comes at the expense of workers and society not receiving their fair share.

      Bezos did not make his fortune alone; the company’s customers, suppliers, workforce, and the public sector through investment in infrastructure, roads and services all played a part. In particular, Amazon’s employees, of which there are over half a million, are essential to Amazon’s business model of being reliably quick and convenient. Yet Bezos makes more wealth every 9 seconds than the median Amazon employee in the US makes in a year. In the UK, undercover investigations have shown work in Amazon’s fulfilment centres to be insecure, demeaning, excessively monitored and low-paid. Toilet breaks can cost a job and workers’ movements are tracked to check they are optimal for maximising Amazon’s profit. Amazon has consistently suppressed efforts amongst its workforce to unionise, and has created some of the most atomised labour markets imaginable through its Amazon Turk bank of online workers from around the world, reducing the ability of colleagues to organise. Amazon’s fulfilment centres are often in places where it’s close to the only gig in town for low-skill workers; evidence from America suggests this has enabled the tech giant to reduce wages for those jobs over time. Despite its poor record as an employer, mayors in the US have offered Amazon billions in tax breaks to attract the giant to create employment in their cities.

    • US Continues To Block Progress On WTO Appeals Body, While Rapidly Adding Cases To The System

      The United States is piling up dispute settlement cases against its trading partners at the World Trade Organization while at the same time ironically blocking any progress on the selection of panellists for appeals in the WTO dispute settlement process.

    • Why is vigorous economic competition a good thing?

      ECONOMISTS are becoming increasingly worried that capitalism today is less competitive than it once was. Some argue that much of what is wrong with rich-world economies today—from high income inequality to measly wage growth—has its roots in markets that are uncompetitive.

      However, much of the discussion about competition is fairly abstract and difficult to understand. To help readers get a grip of one of the most important issues today, we turned to an expert on competition to ask him some simple questions.

    • Wall Street Journal Hammers ‘Out of Touch’ Trump Economic Adviser Peter Navarro for Trashing the US Economy

      The editors of the very conservative and very business-oriented Wall Street Journal have taken President Donald Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro to the woodshed for pushing the president’s tariffs that is having a devastating effect on U.S. manufacturers.

      Under an ominous headline that reads “The Trade Casualties Mount,” the editorial board laid out the case on the toll the Trump tariffs are taking on U.S. economic growth.

      “President Trump is escalating his trade rhetoric, threatening China and Europe with more tariffs on more goods if they don’t agree to his terms. Mr. Trump says winning these trade wars is ‘easy,’ so let’s take a look at the early returns on his steel and aluminum tariffs and the retaliation they’ve inspired,” the editorial began.

    • A national government would only deliver for the rich

      There is a growing chorus of voices calling for some kind of national government. Sometimes it is expressed by saying that politicians should come together to deliver Brexit. And there are whispers of moves to set up a new centre party which would incorporate politicians of all parties and none.

      It is easy to see the superficial attraction of national government politics. The same argument is often used in relationship to the NHS. “If only” people sigh “we could take the politics out of health issues”.

      The trouble is that (although politics has become almost a dirty word for much of the public) in truth there is no more intensely political subject than healthcare. How much you are prepared to spend on your health service, what level of tax you are prepared to levy to pay for it, whether you are concerned about rising health inequality and (ultimately) who gets to live or die because of decisions made – these are political subjects where vastly different economic interests contend.

      In the same way the idea that you can take the politics out of Brexit is delusional. When people talk about the importance of forming a national government “in the national interest” I am concerned. Because the question is whose nation and whose interest? The assumption behind national government is that the interests of a hedge fund manager in Mayfair are the same as a single parent in Hackney. But they are not. And the danger of a national government is that, inevitably, the interest of the poor and disadvantaged get marginalised.

    • I’ve Worked for Tips for 60 Years. DC Council Should Listen to the Voters Who Want to Raise My Wages

      When people ask me when I’m going retire, my answer is always the same: About 15 minutes before I’m dead. I turn 70 this year, and I’ve been working in DC—always for tips—since I was 12. My first job, at the concession stand at Arena stage in the early ‘60s, was one of the better ones. My bosses were kind, and I got to watch the shows that came through town. By the time I got my second job, my wages were 66 cents an hour—not exactly the stuff nest eggs are made of.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Facebook’s pledge to eliminate misinformation is itself fake news

      Facebook does not just tolerate Infowars. It seeks to profit from Infowars and its audience. Facebook’s advertising tools, at time of writing, allow advertisers to pay Facebook to target the 743,220 users who “like” the InfoWars page.

    • Russia Was Just the Beginning: Here’s How Social Media Became Infested with ‘Computational Propaganda’ Designed to Control Society

      While much of the world’s attention is currently centered on efforts by Russian operatives to sow discord among the American electorate with fake social media posts and “troll farms” during the 2016 presidential election, an Oxford Internet Institute study published Friday found that use of social media by governments looking to “spread junk information and propaganda to voters” has become a global phenomenon.

      “Social media manipulation is big business,” the researchers found. “We estimate that tens of millions of dollars are being spent on social media manipulation campaigns, involving tens of thousands of professional staff.”

      While there is nothing new about political parties and governments using disinformation to manipulate elections at home and abroad, the Oxford researchers note that the massive, easily accessible, and lightly regulated platforms offered by Facebook and Twitter have become enormously powerful tools in the hands of political actors, who have used social media to kick their propaganda campaigns into overdrive and cast doubt on science and public institutions.

    • Going Home Again to Trump’s America

      For the most part I keep my distance from Trump’s Boardwalk fascism. Who needs to reminded that the United States, politically anyway, has descended into a reality show? To be sure it is impossible, even when you live in Europe, to escape Trumpism altogether. He shows up at G-7 or NATO summits to lecture European leaders about trade inequality or Putin’s humanism. But living without television and on another continent, I am largely spared Trump’s Babbittry, although any sampling of online newspapers brings his rants into focus. That said, once or twice a year, because I need to remind myself that the United States is a lot more than its village idiocy, I make plans to travel around the country.

      In recent years I have biked and bused from Chicago to New York, camped in many states between North Carolina and Oklahoma, roamed the coal hollows of Kentucky and West Virginia, and attended the presidential primary in New Hampshire. It may not make up for my lack of familiarity with Fox & Friends, but at least I now having a working knowledge of where Eugene V. Debs lived in Terre Haute and have visited the house, in Fayetteville, in which lived the late Senator J. William Fulbright (from whom we got the scholarships and much opposition to the Vietnam War).

    • Former Malaysian PM’s Letter Requesting May 2018 Election Help ‘Ignored’ by CIA

      A secret letter has been leaked, sent by the office of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to the CIA begging for US help if the then-upcoming May 2018 elections went sour for his ruling coalition. Radio Sputnik spoke with Nile Bowie, a writer and journalist who covers Singapore and Malaysia for the Asia Times, about the revelations.

      Najib, who was already embroiled in a corruption scandal that had gutted his popularity, faced a dangerous challenger in the form of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who had partnered up with disaffected elements of Najib’s own party and run on a platform of getting to the bottom of the 1MBD embezzlement scandal.

    • Group: Probe letter asking for CIA backing

      The National Patriots Association wants authorities to probe a purported intelligence unit in the Prime Minister’s Department and its officials who were involved in a letter appealing to the United States to support Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s administration.

      Referring to a report by a news portal which revealed that a letter from the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s Department was sent to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Gina Haspel five days before the 14th general election, the association urged an immediate investigation.

      “All guilty persons should be punished and an example set to all current officials in the Government, security forces personnel and politicians,” said Patriots president Brig Jen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji in a statement.

      He said the letter discussed internal security and foreign policy matters that should not have been shared.

    • Trump Invited Putin to the U.S.

      Following their meeting in Finland, Trump wants to meet with Putin again.

    • How to Destroy Democracy, the Trump-Putin Way


      All around the world, strongmen are seizing power and subverting liberal norms.

    • The Helsinki Hostage Summit, Putin’s Puppet Trump, and my Working Theory of How the White House was Sold (and joke songs at end)

      To be clear, it is totally illegal to take money from foreign entities in a US election. Trump took money from anyone, not just Putin. Trump took money from several Arab countries (UAE and Saudi Arabia at least) and many other places. But most of all, he took from Putin. And he collected bucks by the bucketload. These would be election finance crimes, and even at enormous levels, they are not necessarily going to get you for life behind bars.

    • Senate 98-0 passes resolution opposing Vladimir Putin’s proposal to interrogate U.S. officials including McFaul & Browder
    • The Crisis Facing America

      The country can no longer afford to wait to ascertain why President Trump has subordinated himself to Putin—it must deal with the fact that he has.

    • Trump’s New Attack on Lawyer Michael Cohen Was a ‘Terrible Idea’ That Will Blow Up in President’s Face: Trial Attorney

      While spending the weekend at his New Jersey golf course, President Trump accused his former attorney, Michael Cohen, of “perhaps illegal” behavior by recording a conversation with Trump during which the two reportedly discussed a hush money payment.

    • Commentary: Trump has attacked U.S. intel agencies. Expect them to strike back.

      The foundations of American national security are under assault. The battle lines are drawn. On one side stand the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency. On the other: the commander-in-chief of the United States.


      The display of fealty to Moscow was indelible. Then Trump tried to erase it. Back in the White House on Tuesday, he said he didn’t say what he meant or mean what he said.

      In Helsinki it was “President Putin… said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.” Disavowing himself, reading from a script the day after, Trump demurred: “I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t.’” Rather like a groom at the altar saying: “I don’t.”

    • The Cybersecurity 202: Trump’s intel chiefs fight Russia’s election interference – with or without him

      President Donald Trump’s top intelligence and national security officials are forging ahead with plans to disrupt any Russian interference ahead of the 2018 midterms. But they may be going it alone following Trump’s performance this week at the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

      Just hours after Trump cast doubt on his own country’s conclusions about Moscow’s 2016 election interference at Monday’s presser, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats said the intelligence community “will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.” And on Tuesday, the day after Trump suggested he believed Putin’s denials, The Washington Post reported that the National Security Agency is partnering with the military’s cyberwarfare arm to counter threats from Moscow going into November.

    • Cohen recorded Trump discussing payment to ex-Playboy model

      The FBI is in possession of a recording between President Donald Trump and his former personal attorney Michael Cohen in which the two men prior to the election discuss a payment to a former Playboy model who has alleged an affair with Trump, Rudy Giuliani and a source familiar with the matter told CNN Friday.

      Cohen has other recordings of the President in his records that were seized by the FBI, said both a source with knowledge of Cohen’s tapes and Giuliani, who described the other recordings as mundane discussions. Another source with knowledge of the tape, however, said the conversation is not as Giuliani described and is not good for the President, though the source would not elaborate.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Disney confirms Guardians director fired over years-old tweets
    • Online Censorship an ‘Imaginary Narrative’?

      In an April hearing focused on online viewpoint suppression, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) declared his intent to make sure Big Tech corporations answered for their content filtering practices. This week, Goodlatte made good on that declaration by convening a hearing that featured officials from Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube.

      In announcing this week’s hearing, Goodlatte touted the amazing possibilities of social media, but also warned, “[T]his same technology can be used to suppress a particular viewpoint and manipulate public opinion.” He hoped this hearing would help the Big Tech companies explore “how they can be better stewards of free speech in the United States and abroad.”

    • GOP Lawmakers Grill Social Media Giants Over Alleged Censorship Of Conservatives, Again [VIDEO]
    • Blockchain Is Helping to Circumvent Censorship in China
    • US academic and critic of Beijing censorship loses job at top Chinese university

      An American professor and vocal critic of Beijing’s censorship has said he has lost his job at the prestigious Peking University and is leaving China.

      Christopher Balding, who had taught for the past nine years at Peking University’s HSBC School of Business in Shenzhen, said in a blog post on Tuesday that the school had not renewed his contract.

      Balding wrote in his post that he was given an “official” reason for his contract not being renewed, but added: “I know the unspoken reason for my dismissal.” He said he was notified in early November that his contract would not be renewed.

      “You do not work under the Communist Party without knowing the risks,” he wrote.

    • American Professor Cites Academic Intolerance as Reason for Leaving China

      An American professor, known as a prolific commentator on Chinese economic policy and an outspoken critic of state censorship, has left China after losing his academic post at a prestigious business school.

      Christopher Balding said that the narrowing limits for open discussion, even of economic and business issues, made him feel unsafe and drove him to leave China. He said Peking University’s HSBC School of Business in Shenzhen—where he worked for nine years—told him last November that his contract wouldn’t be renewed.

    • U.S. Professor Fired from Chinese University After Criticizing Communist Government’s Censorship

      An American professor has lost his job at a top Chinese university after criticizing the communist government’s censorship policies.

      Christopher Balding, who taught at Peking University’s HSBC School of Business in Shenzhen for nine years, said Tuesday that his contract has not been renewed, according to the South China Morning Post. The academic previously launched a successful online petition in August calling on Cambridge University Press to stop blocking access to hundreds of academic articles in China due to pressure from Beijing.

      “You do not work under the Communist Party without knowing the risks,” Balding wrote in a blog post, Reuters reported. “China has reached a point where I do not feel safe being a professor and discussing even the economy, business, and financial markets.”

    • ‘Saturday Night Live’ pulled in China amid crackdown on content

      China’s version of U.S. broadcaster NBCUniversal’s satire show “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) has temporarily been pulled from a domestic video site, amid a crackdown on content ranging from online blogs to livestreamed video.

      The news comes after China’s content regulator urged media platforms last week to produce and broadcast “positive energy” programs to teenagers, and protect them from “low taste and harmful programs” during the summer vacation.

    • Not live from Beijing: Saturday Night Live China suspended
    • China’s Saturday Night Live: victim of Communist Party censorship, or just not funny?

      The Chinese version of the long-running American television comedy show Saturday Night Live has been taken off the air less than a month after its launch, sparking debate over whether it was a victim of censorship or bad writing.

      The news was announced on social media, with the show’s producers seeming to acknowledge its failure to amuse.

      “We are trying to make the show better to meet your expectations,” read a statement posted on Sunday on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service. “Next time we see you, don’t forget to have a big laugh!”

      The show, which was broadcast on, a video-sharing website similar to YouTube, did not say why it had been suspended or if it would return, but previously aired episodes are no longer available on the platform.

    • Journalists denounce media censorship, ministry dismisses allegations

      In meeting of the Senate Standing committee regarding Information and Broadcasting earlier last Tuesday, representatives of the media community voiced their objections to apparent censorship of their activites in certain areas. While journalists and media tycoons were thus embroiled with the Information ministry, Political parties and personalities were busy criticizing the media houses for coverage.

      The Senate Standing Committee meeting was held under the chair of Senator Faisal Javed and attended by Senator Maula Bux Chandio and Senator Rubina Khalid. The house heard out President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Afzal Butt and President Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) Mubarak Zeb Khan. Afzal Butt was concerned about the past when dictatorial regimes prevented certain stories or photographs from being aired or published.

    • When Code Is Speech, Tech Like 3D-Printed Guns Sees Greater Protection from Censorship

      Can a gun be protected by our rights to free speech? According to a recent settlement by the Department of Justice, when the gun is a schematic written in computer code, it can.

      Reason readers will be familiar with the saga of Cody Wilson and his gun rights collective, Defense Distributed. Disturbed by the rising tide of anti-gun sentiment in the cultural discourse, Wilson and his comrades set out to secure Americans’ rights to defend ourselves against government abuse. But they took a different tack than Second Amendment advocates before them. Rather than spending billions on lobbying and public persuasion campaigns, Defense Distributed bound their fate to the mast of technological determinism. They put guns on the internet.

      It has been about five years since the first 3-D printed gun was fired. Engineers at Wilson’s Austin-based firearms defense syndicate had been hard at work building the first prototypes. While the design looked a bit like a toy gun that a young boy might play with, the plastic-cast first DIY handgun, dubbed “the Liberator,” was truly fearsome to regulators and gun control hardliners. On its launch day, Defense Distrbuted’s “Wiki Weapon” schematic file had been downloaded 50,000 times from their website.

    • Polish gov’t opposed internet censorship

      The announcement comes ahead of a European Parliament debate on copyright rules proposed by Brussels which have been widely opposed by internet users, scientists, and IT experts.

    • Mark Zuckerberg Is Right

      Political activists on the left are calling on Mark Zuckerberg to assume the role of censor on Facebook. Facebook has the right to allow or prohibit any content Facebook wants. The left can call on Facebook to do this, but it is a bad idea. Both Facebook and Zuckerberg are right to refuse. By way of disclosure, I am holding my annual Resurgent Gathering in a few weeks and Facebook is a sponsor.

    • Mark Zuckerberg’s Sister Simultaneously Rejects and Defends Facebook Censorship

      Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s sister doesn’t think the social media company should censor Holocaust deniers. She wants the government to do that.

      Zuckerberg drew criticism Wednesday after Recode asked him about fake news on the platform. Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, told the interviewer that he did not want to delete even something as deeply and personally offensive to him as Holocaust denial. “I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong,” he said. “I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.” Zuckerberg was willing to take down pages engaged in actually organizing harm. But when a page limits itself to expressing offensive opinions, he’d rather lower its reach than expel it.

      The comments were quickly criticized by people who believe Facebook had a duty to banish ideas like Holocaust denial.

    • Facebook Shouldn’t Censor Offensive Speech
    • Mark Zuckerberg clarifies: ‘I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.’
    • WhatsApp to limit message forwarding following lynchings in India spurred by misinformation

      WhatsApp users in the country will now only be able to forward a message five times. The company is also removing the “quick forward” feature, which created a streamlined in-app process for passing along messages.

    • WhatsApp to restrict message forwarding after India mob lynchings

      In India, where false rumours about child abduction spread virally over WhatsApp, leading to several vigilante murders over the past year, the new limit will be even stricter: each message can be forwarded just five times. In that country, where according to Facebook “people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world”, WhatsApp is also removing the “quick forward” feature, a button that appears next to photos, videos and links. The previous forwarding cap, rarely hit by users, was more than 250.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • OpSec – Staying Private Under Surveillance

      This article is intended to give you a list of tips on how to keep yourself private in a world of internet surveillance. It is broken up into two parts, technical security and operational security (OpSec). Technical security is avoiding outing yourself through technology issues. OpSec is outing yourself by making operational mistakes.

      Disclaimer: This is not a complete or exhaustive list, but a set of general guidelines on how to protect yourself from identification.

    • ICANN GDPR case referred to German higher court

      ICANN is attempting to force one of its domain name registrars to collect data on new registrants in an effort to maintain the integrity of the WHOIS platform, used by rights holders to aid online enforcement

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Real gender equality includes femininity (and the color pink)

      As feminist parents we tell ourselves that we’re trying to break down the gender binary, but what’s wrong with skirts and baby dolls?

      The message that we consistently send out is that in order to achieve any kind of significant career goals, girls need to adopt traits that are typically associated with masculinity. Credit: Hero Images/Getty Images via YES! Magazine. All rights reserved.

      A few months ago, my 4-year-old son went to a classmate’s birthday. The party was superhero-themed and the loot bags were packed with cute little superhero trinkets, including temporary tattoos. One little girl, let’s call her Izzy, put hers on immediately.

      “LOOK,” Izzy yelled, running up to everyone in turn. “IRON MAN. SO COOL.”

      The other children and parents in attendance oohed and aahed over her forearm. Every single one of them showed their admiration and approval for her Iron Man tattoo.

      Later, as we parents were watching our cake-smeared kids run around in a sugar-induced frenzy, one of the other mothers turned to me and said, “Isn’t it funny that [your son] loves My Little Pony so much? I mean, he’s such a boy.”

      Not really knowing how to answer, I said, “I don’t think it’s funny. It’s a good show.”

    • CIA watchdog withdraws nomination after allegations of retaliation against colleagues

      Christopher Sharpley, the acting Inspector General of the Central Intelligence Agency, is withdrawing his nomination after former colleagues alleged he retaliated against them for blowing the whistle on CIA IG officials’ alleged mishandling of evidence.

      According to two sources familiar with the matter, and confirmed by the CIA, Sharpley sent an email to staff on Wednesday telling them he was pulling back his nomination to be CIA Inspector General and would be retiring from CIA within 30 days to seek other opportunities. His specific reason for withdrawing now was not immediately clear.

    • Acting CIA watchdog steps down, withdraws IG nomination

      The acting watchdog at the CIA, who has been accused of retaliating against whistleblowers, is resigning, the agency confirmed Friday.

      Christopher Sharpley, whose nomination for the agency’s inspector general post had stalled in the Senate, said in a memo to employees that he is stepping down within 30 days.

      “After three decades of public service, he has decided to continue his career outside the agency, and we wish him the best in this new chapter,” CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani said in a statement. “CIA’s commitment to rigorous, independent oversight is unwavering, and the Office of Inspector General will carry on that important mission through the transition.”

    • Acting CIA watchdog up for top job resigns
    • Behind closed doors, Guantánamo secret court talks about the CIA, torture and rights

      The CIA used an alleged accomplice in the Sept. 11 terror attacks as a test subject to train new interrogators. Agents diapered or left naked a one-legged CIA captive during his time in secret overseas detention. Taking showers still traumatizes the alleged USS Cole bomber, whom the CIA waterboarded in 2003.

      These and other details emerged from McClatchy’s review of 1,300 pages of partially declassified transcripts of Guantánamo’s secret death-penalty case sessions that have been gradually made public since February.

      Although still heavily redacted, the transcripts show a consistent theme across 30 hours of closed war-crimes hearings: When the public and accused terrorists aren’t allowed to listen, the legal arguments are often about the CIA’s secret overseas prison network, the circumstances of Guantánamo detention and how now outlawed Bush-era interrogation methods might affect future justice.

      In 2002 and 2003, “Essentially the United States government is running a Turkish prison. And that’s an insult, probably, to Turkey, frankly,” Navy Cmdr. Brian Mizer, a defense attorney, told a judge in a May 2014 court argument initially labeled top secret.

    • Come in from the cold: not enough ethnic minority spies, say MPs

      Britain’s intelligence agencies are suffering from a “glaring lack” of ethnic minority spies in top jobs, a watchdog warned today.

      Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee said the three organisations it monitors, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, had made progress in improving the diversity of their staff and had won accolades for efforts to help women, gay and lesbian staff prosper in their careers.

    • UK spy agencies criticised for lack of black or Asian leaders

      The UK’s intelligence agencies suffer from a lack of black and Asian staff in top posts, according to a report from the parliamentary intelligence and security committee published on Wednesday.

      Neither MI6, which deals with overseas intelligence-gathering, nor MI5, had any people from a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background in the top posts in 2016-2017. The surveillance agency GCHQ was the only agency listed as having any staff at a senior level from a BAME background.

      The spy agencies have over the last few years made a big play about the need for more diversity in recruitment. The head of MI6, Alex Younger, has said he wants a more diverse staff to be one of his legacies.

    • MI5 and MI6 have ‘glaring lack’ of ethnic minority and female staff at senior levels, report reveals

      Just two of Britain’s security and intelligence agencies have any members from the ethnic minorities in senior ranks while women make up a disproportionately low numbers at that level across the board.

      Although “significant progress” has been made in making MI5, MI6, GCHQ and other services more inclusive, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) found “at senior level in particular the intelligence community is still not gender-balanced and does not fully reflect the ethnic makeup of modern Britain … There is a glaring lack of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff at senior civil service levels across the community.

      “And although 31 per cent of the senior civil servants in MI5 are women, that figure is considerably lower – around 25 per cent – across the other agencies and rest of the intelligence community” the MPs said.

    • UK spy agencies criticised for lack of black leaders

      Neither MI6, which deals with overseas intelligence-gathering, nor MI5 had any people from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background in the top posts in 2016-17. The surveillance agency GCHQ was the only agency listed as having any staff at a senior level from a BAME background.

      The spy agencies have over the last few years made a big play about the need for more diversity in recruitment. The head of MI6, Alex Younger, has said he wants a more diverse staff to be part of his legacy.

      The report also found a lack of gender balance.

      The report describes the lack of BAME staff in senior posts as “lamentable”. On lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the report records 3% of staff at MI6 choosing to declare themselves as LGBT, 4.4% in MI5 and 1.3% in GCHQ.

      “It is not clear why the declaration rates for the agencies are lower for this group than for staff declaring as BAME, particularly as the LGBT groups across the agencies and organisations are high profile and well-established,” the report says.

    • ‘Glaring lack of BAME staff’ in top posts at MI5 and MI6

      THERE IS a ‘glaring lack of BAME staff’ at senior civil service levels in the UK intelligence agencies, a new parliamentary report has revealed.

      Issues around diversity and inclusion at each of the UK’s seven intelligence and security organisations – GCHQ, MI5, Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), Defence Intelligence (DI), National Security Secretariat (NSS), Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) and the Joint Intelligence Organisation (JIO) are examined in the report by the parliamentary intelligence and security committee published today.

      The report highlighted what the seven agencies are currently doing well – working together effectively, sharing resources and best practice and employing “increasingly innovative” recruitment campaigns as the seek to promote brand awareness and “attract a more diverse range of applicants from underrepresented groups”, among other things.

    • Intelligence Liaison and Torture: Catch-22 for Britain’s Spies?

      MPs found that in over 200 cases U.K. agencies – the Security Service (MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) – continued to share intelligence with partners even though they knew detainees were being mistreated. In 198 cases, U.K. officers received intelligence from sources where mistreatment had taken place. Britain’s eavesdroppers in the Government Communication Headquarters were also criticised for sharing intelligence which could have supported illegal CIA activities, a claim denied by spy bosses.


      ISC Chair and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve told journalists that officers worked with countries with “very dubious human rights records, where it would have been very likely that the person would be in fact tortured or ill-treated.”

      Prime Minister Theresa May said that Britain’s spies found themselves in a “new and challenging operating environment.” It took “too long to recognise that guidance and training for staff was inadequate, and too long to understand fully and take appropriate action on the risks arising from our engagement with international partners on detainee issues,” she added.

    • Using Dogs as a Tool of Racist Repression

      In 2016, veterinarian Dan Wentz started a fundraiser to implant titanium crowns on the teeth of a 106-pound German Shepherd police dog.

      In Ferguson, Missouri.

      “Given all that’s happened,” said Wentz, “I want to make sure we are doing what we can to help keep these dogs on the street.”

      Ferguson, of course, is where the 2014 police murder of unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown touched off an uprising that sparked the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement around the nation, and brought horrific police repression of protesters in response.

      Wentz’s campaign was launched after the uprising. It came after the Ferguson Police Department had taken a police dog to the memorial left to Brown to piss on it. And it was after a Justice Department investigation into the Ferguson police found that officers only sicced dogs on Black people, including children, and that the dogs were used “not to counter a physical threat but to inflict punishment.”

      This story isn’t an exception, though. Throughout the country, police departments cynically exploit people’s love of dogs to make the abuse of human beings by police K9 units and the abuse of the dogs themselves seem acceptable, obscuring a mass of brutality, corruption and abuse.

      The “Rin Tin Tin” propaganda used by police departments for community outreach efforts must be confronted with the real history of decades of brutality — toward human and animal alike — as a result of the use of police dogs.

    • Elders urges parties not to make unreasonable demands, condemns attacks on women

      Political parties should not make unreasonable demands and should instead seek legal recourse if they feel the electoral process is being violated, chairperson of The Elders, Kofi Annan, said today.

      The Elders is an independent group of global leaders that work together for peace and human rights.

      In a press statement held in the capital, Mr Annan – who is also former United Nations secretary-general and a Nobel Peace Laureate – said making unreasonable demands, including inciting the population, had the potential to complicate the electoral process and yielding unforeseen outcomes.

    • Anonymous hacker who made odd asylum claim in Canada sues in U.S. to claim time spent in Canadian prisons

      An Anonymous hacktivist and former U.S. airman, who sought political asylum in Canada claiming torture by American officials over his access to secret government documents, is suing the U.S. prison bureau to reclaim time he served in Canada’s prisons.

      Matt DeHart spent 439 days in prison in Canada before his refugee claim was rejected and he was deported to the United States in 2015. Waiting for him in Tennessee were child pornography charges he claimed were a ruse to probe and curb his online activism.

      DeHart’s case became a bizarre and troubling story involving Anonymous hackers, WikiLeaks whistleblowers, Russian spies, military secrets and a classified dossier purporting to contain highly inflammatory U.S. intelligence secrets; his story was revealed in a detailed investigation by the National Post in 2014.

      From 2005 until he was arrested in the United States in 2010, DeHart ran a communal computer server on the so-called “dark web” and was involved in early campaigns by Anonymous, an international affiliation of computer hacktivists.

      In 2009, DeHart found an alarming file that had been uploaded to his server. It probably was supposed to be encrypted but it opened without a password. He believes it was destined for WikiLeaks, the whistleblowing organization. WikiLeaks itself refers to DeHart as an “alleged WikiLeaks middleman.”

    • Matt DeHart launches legal challenge against sentence extension
    • Ecuador, Britain In Talks Over Assange Standoff

      Assange’s arrest warrant stems from charges of sexual misconduct in Sweden. He believed Britain plans to hand him over to the US government to be indicted for blowing the whistle on war crimes.

      Earlier this month, Moreno said he had “fruitful talks” with British authorities, who delivered a certain type of information for us to be able to use in favour of international law and Assange’s right to life.”

      Moreno’s government tried to break the deadlock in December by granting Assange citizenship and requesting Britain to give him diplomatic status and immunity, but they were rejected.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Father and Son Among Inventors Recognized for Fleet Impact at Navy Patent Awards Ceremony

      Gerhard Thielman and his son, Benjamin – among 32 patent holders recognized for 12 patents – collaborated to invent the ‘Spherical Tractor Operating Mobile Platform’.

      “The potential benefit to the warfighter is an adaptable, self-contained vehicle with multi-mission capability,” NSWCDD Chief of Staff Chuck Campbell told an audience of the inventors’ family, friends and colleagues regarding the Thielmans’ innovation.

      The patents represent a culmination of effort by many individuals, including the inventors, the Invention Evaluation Board members, patent attorneys, and others who conceive – and reduced to practice – the technological innovations arising from the command’s research and development activities.

    • Little People slam Amazon’s dwarf-tossing robot patent
    • Trademarks
      • Research Shows Rapid Growth in Chinese Trademarks

        It doesn’t take a professional economist to realize the rapid rate of growth in China. In the first quarter of 2018, the country’s GDP increased by 6.8 percent and the second quarter is predicted to see a further 6.7 percent growth.

        But of course GDP is not the only metric by which to measure economic growth. From a business point of view, it can also be helpful to observe trademark filing activity, and to say this has boomed in China would be an understatement. In the past two years alone, the number of trademark applications made within China to foreign registers has doubled.

    • Copyrights
      • Two Years On, Alleged KAT Founder Continues to Fight Extradition

        Exactly two years ago, on July 20th 2016, KickassTorrents was shut down following a criminal investigation by the United States. The enforcement action also led to the arrest of several men, including an alleged operator, who is still waiting for a final extradition decision after two years.

      • Nintendo Sues Console ROM Sites For ‘Mass’ Copyright Infringement

        Nintendo has filed a lawsuit against the alleged operator of the popular console ROM sites and The sites are among the most notorious online hubs for pirated games, according to Nintendo, and face millions of dollars in potential damages.

      • Premier League Obtains Piracy Blocking Order For 2018/19 Season

        The High Court has granted the Premier League permission to continue blocking live pirate streams of football matches in the UK. The football organization obtained a pioneering injunction early 2017, with a second order expiring in May 2018. That has now been renewed by Justice Arnold for the 2018 to 2019 season. Many of the details are shrouded in secrecy.

      • English Premier League scores copyright hat trick against ISPs

        The English High Court has extended a live blocking injunction for the Football Association Premier League, showing that such injunctions are here to stay but adds nothing about who should pay for them

      • The first rule of copyright reform: Don’t mess with free speech and net neutrality

        One takeaway is that there are presently two kinds of copyright reforms. The first involves a conventional balancing of copyright interests, typically framed as creator rights on the one hand and users’ rights on the other. Ensuring both appropriate compensation and reasonable rights of access and reuse are invariably contentious, but they are largely limited to directly copyright-related considerations.

The EPO (European Patent Office) Under António Campinos is Just Another Battistelli EPO; Still UPC and Software Patents Lobbying

Saturday 21st of July 2018 04:15:31 PM

While staff representatives are hung out to dry, judges enjoy no real independence, corruption isn’t being tackled, and patent quality isn’t cared about

Summary: Campinos has done pretty much nothing but a single blog post since taking Office; it makes one wonder what he’s doing all day and whether he ever intends to tackle all the abuses that compelled the Council to replace Battistelli

THE EPO scandals aren’t over. In fact, none has been addressed, not to mention resolved (the new President just ignores virtually all of these scandals). His first step as President was UPC promotion (on his second day on the job). A new article by Shrey Pathak and Sanam Habib (Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP) and another by George Tebbutt (Haseltine Lake LLP) shows that Team UPC hasn’t grown tired of lying. They’re both wrong about Brexit and what the government says about UPC; it's merely "exploring", which is a polite way of saying "we can't quite promise anything" (because it’s an untenable situation, legally speaking).

“For those who aren’t aware, the UPC is also — inter alia — a Trojan horse for software patents in Europe. They’re trying to cement what they already do illegally, namely the granting of software patents.”IAM, a UPC lobbyist on the payroll of the EPO’s PR firm, has just begun advertising this event for software patents. It’s a Trojan horse for software patents lobbying in the US — the same sort of thing Battistelli did with IAM on their tour of horror back in June. For those who aren’t aware, the UPC is also — inter alia — a Trojan horse for software patents in Europe. They’re trying to cement what they already do illegally, namely the granting of software patents.

The António Campinos-led EPO is still promoting software patents. The verified account of the EPO (European Patent Office but with “Org” in its username, creating an ambiguity) wrote: “Innovation using #artificialintelligence is eminently patentable at the EPO – find out how from EPO experts at this event in Chicago.”

The page even uses the term “CII”, which is just software patents, as noted by us in this recent post and also many others about software patents in Europe. We wrote about this in relation to IBM’s latest campaign of patent blackmail (this time Groupon is in the firing line). Groupon fires back, supported by new articles such as this one: (titled “Groupon accuses IBM of patent shake-down”)

A lawyer for discount e-commerce company Groupon this week told a court in Delaware that International Business Machines Corp has shaken down practically every large tech firm for patent fees.

IBM is suing Groupon for US$167 million, accusing it of infringing four basic internet technology patents, in a case that is being closely watched by the tech industry.

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM has portrayed itself as an innovator whose licensing fee requests are reasonable in light of its research and development costs. But Groupon is defending itself by trying to portray IBM as using outdated patents to squeeze money out of other tech companies with threats of litigation.

Those are software patents and we hope that Groupon will have these sent to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) for invalidation. The inter partes reviews (IPRs) of IBM patents almost always result in invalidation. What would be the fate of similar European Patents if the appeal boards of the EPO actually enjoyed independence and sufficient capacity (staff for starters)?

Cisco v Arista Networks is a Stain on the Reputation of the US International Trade Commission (ITC) and It’s Beginning to Recognise This

Saturday 21st of July 2018 03:34:35 PM

Reference: Administrative Law Judge Photos

Summary: Cisco is leveraging software patents which PTAB deemed to be invalid against a much smaller firm (revenue ~30 times smaller [1, 2]), demanding an embargo and bypassing the ordinary routes of justice by turning to the ITC

Sometimes companies want to bypass the ordinary courts (District Courts, Federal Circuit, SCOTUS) to just quickly issue an injunction, i.e. embargo, raids, prevention of import/sales and so on. It’s the kind of thing that the EPO is pursuing with its shameless UPC lobbying. The assumption that any patent granted by the USPTO is OK or should be presumed valid is a dangerous one and proper justice (due process, plus appeal/s, innocence until proof of guilt) isn’t assured anymore. It’s a leap towards extreme action. It’s not really patent justice but patent prejudice and maximalism. It’s like copyright takedowns (as per DMCA) where the accused gets censored without even a right/access to defense. Ripe for abuse? By design?

“It’s not really patent justice but patent prejudice and maximalism. It’s like copyright takedowns (as per DMCA) where the accused gets censored without even a right/access to defense.”Arista Networks uses inter partes reviews (IPRs) for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to scrutinise the patents at hand; Arista Networks won the case/appeal, but the ITC then shockingly enough snubbed the ruling, having never previously ignored such rulings! There was a lot of commotion about this at the time (especially last year) and now we learn, courtesy of World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR), that the ITC will review the administrative law judge’s (ALJ) decision. To quote:

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) said yesterday it will review an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) determination regarding a patent infringement claim Cisco Systems brought against computer networking company Arista Networks.

The ITC said it will review the final remand enforcement initial determination (REID) that the ALJ issued in June, when it found that Arista did not violate a cease and desist order regarding one of the patents.

In January 2015, the ITC launched an investigation into Arista based on a complaint from Cisco.

Cisco alleged that Arista had violated section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 by importing certain network devices, related software and components that infringed six patents relating to software.


The ALJ’s investigation determined again that Arista did not violate the cease and desist order. Both parties filed petitions for review of the REID and filed responses to the other side’s petitions.

ITC staff must understand that the reputation of its judgments is on the line. It’s not only us who bring up these issues; sadly, however, the media is dominated by law firms (at least for this particular topic), so the voice of technologists is rarely heard. Many are unaware of the dispute or cannot follow the news, owing partly to legalese.

“Whose interest would be served by embargoes? Not the public’s, that’s for sure… Arista’s engineers have already been compelled to make their products intentionally worse.”Judges must take into account not the interests of law firms that profit from litigation/feuds but technologists who profit from actual innovation. Whose interest would be served by embargoes? Not the public’s, that’s for sure… Arista’s engineers have already been compelled to make their products intentionally worse. This is never a positive thing; in fact, Cisco’s legal actions have already put many companies like Arista at existential risk.

Openet Has Been Intimidated by Amdocs Using Another Patent Infringement Lawsuit

Saturday 21st of July 2018 02:46:17 PM

Summary: Amdocs is still engaging in legal intimidation and litigious bullying against its much smaller rivals/competitors; Openet is the latest reminder of it, having paid an undisclosed amount of money to end the dispute

IF PATENTS are still about innovation, as intended at the time of their inception, and if patents on software are not allowed, why is it that when used in bulk (the Microsoft way) monopolists get their way?

Amdocs, a company about 30 times the size of Openet (in terms of the number of employees), was mentioned here many times before, e.g. in [1, 2, 3]. It’s a rather aggressive firm, usually in the sense that it uses patents against its rivals. This de facto telephone surveillance* company has resorted to patent blackmail in recent years, emboldened by patents granted, awarded and sent from the USPTO. They’re an example of monopoly assertion by patents rather than technical merit. According to this new press release, Amdocs and Openet “have settled a patent infringement dispute in the United States Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. As part of the confidential settlement, Amdocs agreed to license certain patents to Openet.”

“Finjan too is listed in the US market even though it makes nothing at all (just patent lawsuits).”In other words (not legalese), Openet shelled out some ‘protection’ money to Amdocs (a secret amount of money so as to aid future cases, filed against litigation targets to come). Openet is one among many. Amdocs is starting to resemble the Israeli patent troll Finjan, which many moons (over a decade) ago actually had a product. Extortion with software patents has since then become the sole business model. Finjan too is listed in the US market even though it makes nothing at all (just patent lawsuits).

Openet is an Irish (Dublin-based) company, so the Irish Times covered this, as did telecom news sites. To quote:

An extremely short announcement from Amdocs said “Amdocs and Openet today announced that they have settled a patent infringement dispute in the United States Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. As part of the confidential settlement, Amdocs agreed to license certain patents to Openet.”

Back in 2010 youthful Light Reading hack Ray Le Maistre spoke to (then and still) Openet CEO Niall Norton in a bid to find out what Amdocs’ problem was. Norton, however, seemed to be as baffled as everyone else by this act of unilateral legal aggression and chose to conclude that it was merely a measure of how intimidated Amdocs was by the plucky Irish BSS upstart.

This is just legal intimidation. It’s commonly practiced by monopolies trying to assert or reassert their monopoly over a ‘turf’, just as Microsoft or IBM habitually do.
* As Wikipedia puts it, “Amdocs’ broad access to U.S. telephone transaction records has raised counterintelligence concerns in the U.S. government about the vulnerability of this information to exploitation by Israeli spies. “As early as 1999, the National Security Agency issued a warning that records of U.S. government telephone calls were ending up in foreign hands – Israel’s, in particullar.”

Federal Circuit Judges Moore, Dyk and Reyna Tell Allergan That It is Not Above the Law

Saturday 21st of July 2018 01:36:40 PM

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in the United States finally says what ought to have been pretty obvious all along

Australian House of Parliament, where similarly important decisions have been made lately (including de facto ban on software patents as per IP Australia’s policy)

Summary: Allergan and a Native American tribe have lost their ridiculous case; after swapping tens of millions of dollars in pursuit of immunity for patents they’ve lost again (in what’s likely their last resort/appeal); expect the patent microcosm to attempt to distract from it (like they did Oil States)

THE Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) aren’t just secured by Oil States; the new Director of the USPTO will need to coexist with PTAB, seeing that nothing but a case with his name on it (SAS and Iancu) favours PTAB cutbacks.

The latest boost for PTAB comes from a high patent (and beyond) court. It’s quite likely the final stop. The ‘scammers’ who threatened me with legal action (for speaking out against their bogus patents and dirty tricks) have just lost their case. IP Watch‘s Steven Seidenberg said this: “The strategy was breathtaking in its boldness. Just days before the USPTO was to hear a challenge to Allergan Inc.’s patents on a dry-eye drug, Restasis, the company transferred those patents to a Native American tribe; the tribe then sought to dismiss the USPTO proceedings by asserting sovereign immunity. Following this action, a number of other patentees made similar transfers to Native tribes, in order to protect their patents. More patentees were poised to do so, should this ploy prove effective. It, however, did not. On 20 July, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the tribe’s sovereign immunity did not protect its patents from USPTO review. The ruling thus kept intact a key component of America’s patent system.”

“It’s quite likely the final stop.”The remainder is behind a paywall.

“Allergan is not protected from PTAB review by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s sovereign immunity, says the appeals court in a ruling that relies on the Supreme Court’s FMC opinion,” Michael Loney wrote.

Over at Patent Progress, Josh Landau (CCIA) wrote:

Today, in Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals, the Federal Circuit held that tribal sovereign immunity does not provide a right of immunity in inter partes reviews (IPR).

In an opinion by Judge Moore, writing for herself and Judges Dyk and Reyna, the Federal Circuit focused on the PTO Director’s ability to decide whether or not to proceed with an IPR, a decision which ensures that “if IPR proceeds on patents owned by a tribe, it is because a politically accountable, federal official has authorized the institution of that proceeding.” This aspect of IPR is sufficient to treat IPR as a proceeding “in which an agency chooses whether to institute a proceeding on information supplied by a private party,” exactly the type of proceeding which the Supreme Court has previously held would not be subject to state sovereign immunity, and by extension to tribal sovereign immunity. (CCIA joined an amicus brief suggesting the Federal Circuit deny tribal immunity on this ground, among others.)

Watchtroll mentioned “an opinion authored by Judge Moore,” choosing not to simply attack the judge, for a change. It’s Mayer whom the site (in)famously attacked, not Moore; “It is time for Judge Mayer to Step Down,” said the headline (there has been more of that since).

“Watchtroll is of course cherry-picking outcomes or cases that serve to distract from the majority of cases…”Moore was recently mentioned in relation to a decision about Alice, with words taken out of context to insinuate that Congress should look into it. We debunked these lies from the patent microcosm at the time. Vis-à-vis Judge Moore, yesterday Watchtroll mentioned her and and her superior Chief Judge Sharon Prost:

On Monday, July 16th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Blackbird Tech v. ELB Electronics, which vacated an earlier judgment of non-infringement of a patent asserted by Blackbird in the District of Delaware. The Federal Circuit panel of Chief Judge Sharon Prost and Circuit Judge Kimberly Moore determined that the district court had erred at construing the claim term “attachment surface” in finding non-infringement of the asserted claims. Circuit Judge Jimmie Reyna dissented in this case.

The patent-at-issue is U.S. Patent No. 7086747, titled Low-Voltage Apparatus for Satisfying After-Hours Lighting Requirements, Emergency Lighting Requirements, and Low Light Requirements. Issued in August 2006, it covers an energy-efficient lighting apparatus having a ballast cover, a plurality of ballast cover holes, a circuit board having a plurality of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) which protrude through the ballast cover holes, wherein the lighting apparatus is connected to a wall switch and the illumination of the LEDs is based upon the position of the wall switch. The resulting invention provides a lighting apparatus which meet after-hours or emergency lighting requirements more efficiently and conveniently for commercial building environments.

For those who don’t know (or forgot), Blackbird is a highly notorious patent troll [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It calls itself “Blackbird Technologies”, but it makes no such thing. It’s a parasite and the CAFC’s staff ought to recognise this. Watchtroll is of course cherry-picking outcomes or cases that serve to distract from the majority of cases — ones in which SCOTUS decisions are being followed and patents squashed — not just the cases but the underlying patents (for invalidity rather than non-infringement).

Links 20/7/2018: MusicBrainz is Back, Microsoft Pushing .NET Through Canonical

Saturday 21st of July 2018 06:23:16 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • How Linux Makes Your Life Easier

    There is a popular myth that Linux is complicated and hard to use by a non-techie. While there are distros and advanced Linux functionality that do require tech skills, this doesn’t mean Linux is hard to use. On the contrary, there are lots of things in the philosophy and functionality of Linux that make a user’s life easier.

  • 32-Bit Vs. 64-Bit Operating System

    This has really been confusing to some people choosing between 32-bit and 64-bit systems. Head over to any operating system’s website, you will be given a choice to download either versions of the same operating system. So what is the difference? Why do we have two different versions of the same OS? Let us solve this mystery here, once and for all.

  • Desktop
    • You can now install Debian Linux apps directly from your Chromebook’s Files app

      Last month, XDA-Developers spotted a string of commits on the Chromium Gerrit which indicated of an upcoming support for easy installation of Linux apps on compatible Chrome OS devices. The commits suggested that Debian (.deb) files will be clickable from the Files app, which will then trigger the installation. Now a recent commit confirms that Google is indeed adding a file handler for Debian packages within the Chrome OS Files app.

    • A Forbes Writer Spent 2 Weeks Using Ubuntu, This is What He Thought…

      A classic love story — one Hollywood has yet to adapt in to major motion picture/musical starring Robert Downey Jr (I swear he’s in everything).

      The latest case in point? That comes courtesy of online magazine and its tech contributor Jason Evangelho.

      Jason shares his experience of using Ubuntu for a solid fortnight on a swanky Dell XPS 13 laptop. He says he was spurred into “ditching” Windows by yet another ill-timed and infuriating wait while the OS opted to install updates.

      “After two decades of relying on Windows I finally decided it was time for the nuclear option,” he writes.

  • Server
    • Google Partners With Zapata on Open-Source Quantum Computing Effort
    • Google launches quantum framework Cirq, plans Bristlecone cloud move

      Google today launched Cirq, an open source framework for running algorithms on the quantum computers that will be available in the near future.

      A common problem researchers face when designing quantum algorithms for today’s quantum computers – the 50 to 100 qubit Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum devices – is in working within the limitations and nuances of the hardware.

    • Google wants to make programming quantum computers easier
    • Google Adds Kubernetes to Rebranded Cloud Marketplace

      Google’s goal is to make containers accessible to everyone, especially the enterprise, according to Anil Dhawan, product manager for the Google Cloud Platform.

      When Google released Kubernetes as open source, one of the first challenges that the industry tackled was management, he said.

      Google’s hosted Kubernetes Engine takes care of cluster orchestration and management. A bigger challenge to getting apps running on a Kubernetes cluster can be a manual, time-consuming process. GCP Marketplace provides prepackaged apps and deploys them onto any cluster, Dhawan noted.

      Google makes the process safer by testing and vetting all Kubernetes apps listed on GCP Marketplace. That process includes vulnerability scanning and partner agreements for maintenance and support.

    • IBM attempts to graft virtual machine security onto container flexibility

      IBM researchers have developed a new flavor of software container in an effort to create code that’s more secure than Docker and similar shared kernel container systems.

      Docker and its ilk are considered less secure than VMs because the compromise of a shared kernel puts all associated containers at risk. With VMs, the kernel is separate from the host kernel, which reduces the risk of collateral damage.

    • Using Linux Containers to Manage Embedded Build Environments

      Linux container technology has been proposed by companies like as a simpler and more secure way to deploy embedded devices. And, Daynix Computing has developed an open source framework called Rebuild that uses Linux containers in the build management process of embedded IoT development. At the 2017 Open Source Summit, Daynix “virtualization expert” Yan Vugenfirer gave a presentation on Rebuild called “How Linux Containers can Help to Manage Development Environments for IoT and Embedded Systems.”

      Vugenfirer started by reminding the audience of the frustrations of embedded development, especially when working with large, complex projects. “You’re dealing with different toolchains, SDKs, and compilers all with different dependencies,” he said. “It gets more complicated if you need to update packages, or change SDKs, or run a codebase over several devices. The code may compile on your machine, but there may be problems in the build server or in the CI (continuous integration) server.”

    • Building Containers with HPC Container Maker

      Containers package entire workflows, including software, libraries, and even data, into a single file. The container can then be run on any compatible hardware that can run the container type, regardless of the underlying operating system.

      Containers are finding increased utility in the worlds of scientific computing, deep learning, HPC, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, because they are reproducible, portable (mobility of compute), user friendly (admins don’t have to install everything), and simple, and they isolate resources, reduce complexity (reduction in dependencies), and make it easy to distribute the application and dependencies.

      Using containers, you have virtually everything you need in a single file, including a base operating system (OS), the application or workflow (multiple applications), and all of the dependencies. Sometimes the data is also included in the container, although it is not strictly necessary because you can mount filesystems with the data from the container.

    • 10 Key Attributes of Cloud-Native Applications

      Cloud-native platforms, like Kubernetes, expose a flat network that is overlaid on existing networking topologies and primitives of cloud providers. Similarly, the native storage layer is often abstracted to expose logical volumes that are integrated with containers. Operators can allocate storage quotas and network policies that are accessed by developers and resource administrators. The infrastructure abstraction not only addresses the need for portability across cloud environments, but also lets developers take advantage of emerging patterns to build and deploy applications. Orchestration managers become the deployment target, irrespective of the underlying infrastructure that may be based on physical servers or virtual machines, private clouds or public clouds.

      Kubernetes is an ideal platform for running contemporary workloads designed as cloud-native applications. It’s become the de facto operating system for the cloud, in much the same way Linux is the operating system for the underlying machines. As long as developers follow best practices of designing and developing software as a set of microservices that comprise cloud-native applications, DevOps teams will be able to package and deploy them in Kubernetes. Here are the 10 key attributes of cloud-native applications that developers should keep in mind when designing cloud-native applications.

    • Google Embraces New Kubernetes Application Standard

      Once an organization has a Kubernetes container orchestration cluster running, the next challenge is to get applications running.

      Google is now aiming to make it easier for organizations to deploy Kubernetes applications, through the Google Cloud Platform Marketplace. The new marketplace offerings bring commercial Kubernetes-enabled applications that can be run in the Google cloud, or anywhere else an organization wants.

      All a user needs to do is visit the GCP marketplace and click the Purchase Plan button to get started.

      “Once they agree to the terms, they’ll find instructions on how to deploy this application on the Kubernetes cluster of their choice, running in GCP or another cloud, or even on-prem,” Anil DhawanProduct Manager, Google Cloud Platform, told ServerWatch. “The applications report metering information to Google for billing purposes so end users can get one single bill for their application usage, regardless of where it is deployed.”

    • Challenges and Requirements for Container-Based Applications and Application Services

      Enterprises using container-based applications require a scalable, battle-tested, and robust services fabric to deploy business-critical workloads in production environments. Services such as traffic management (load balancing within a cluster and across clusters/regions), service discovery, monitoring/analytics, and security are a critical component of an application deployment framework. This blog post provides an overview of the challenges and requirements for such application services.

  • Kernel Space
    • Stable kernel 4.4.142

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.4.142 kernel.

      It’s not an “essencial” upgrade, but a number of build problems with
      perf are now resolved, and an x86 issue that some people might have hit
      is now handled properly. If those were problems for you, please

      The updated 4.4.y git tree can be found at:
      git:// linux-4.4.y
      and can be browsed at the normal git web browser:…

    • Samsung Galaxy S Support With The Linux 4.19 Kernel

      Just in case you have your hands still on the Samsung Galaxy S or Galaxy S 4G that were released back in 2010 as once high-end Android smartphones, they have DeviceTree support with the upcoming Linux 4.19 kernel cycle.

      The DeviceTree additions are currently staged ahead of the Linux 4.19 kernel for these S5Pv210 Aries based smartphones. With this code in place for Linux 4.19, the Galaxy S should at least see working mainline support for storage, PMIC, RTC, fuel gauge, keys, USB, and WiFi working in order.

    • Using the Best CPU Available on Asymmetric Systems

      This is the type of situation with a patch where it might look like a lack of opposition could let it sail into the kernel tree, but really, it just hasn’t been thoroughly examined by Linux bigwigs yet. Once the various contributors have gotten the patch as good as they can get it without deeper feedback, they’ll probably send it up the ladder for inclusion in the main source tree. At that point, the security folks will jump all over it, looking for ways that a malicious user might force processes all onto only one particular CPU (essentially mounting a denial-of-service attack) or some such thing. Even if the patch survives that scrutiny, one of the other big-time kernel people, or even Linus Torvalds, could reject the patch on the grounds that it should represent a solution for large-scale systems as well as small.

      Either way, something like Dietmar and Quentin’s patch will be desirable in the kernel, because it’s always good to take advantages of the full range of abilities of a system. And nowadays, a lot of devices are coming out with asymmetric CPUs and other quirks that never were part of earlier general-purpose systems. So, there’s definitely a lot to be gained in seeing this sort of patch go into the tree.

    • Fact check: Linux developer accused of pedophilia in fake blog posts

      Followers of some of Reddit’s Linux-devoted subreddits were recently greeted with an unusual and disturbing discovery: pro-pedophilia and anti-Semitic blog posts from the developer of Linux Exherbo, a Linux distribution with native cross-compiling package management.

      A website under the developer’s name featured a number of unsavory blog posts. Fortunately, the blog appears to be fake.

      The developer, Bryan Østergaard, normally posts updates to a LiveJournal page under the username kloeri, although the last update dates 2014. Earlier this week, someone shared to Reddit a different blog attributed to Østergaard with a handful of more recent blog posts explaining “why” he decided to create Exherbo.


      It’s unclear why he was targeted, but it appears that somebody either has a very sick sense of humor or has some beef with Østergaard. As of the time of publishing, the site and its falsely attributed blog posts are still online.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Deutsche Telekom signs up as platinum member of Linux Foundation Networking

        Deutsche Telekom has doubled down on its commitment to using open source by signing up as a platinum member of Linux Foundation Networking.

        Earlier this year, the Linux Foundation put some of its open source communities, including the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), under the Linux Foundation Networking (LFN) brand in order to foster cross-project collaboration. Mainly thanks to ONAP, the LNF projects currently enable close to 70% of all the world’s global mobile subscribers.

      • Deutsche Telekom Joins The Linux Foundation, Deepens Investment in Open Source Networking
      • The Linux Foundation brings Deutsche Telekom into the fold

        Deutsche Telekom is the latest big name to join the ranks of The Linux Foundation. The announcement comes just weeks after the Chinese tech giant Tencent, and Google joined the foundation. Linux Foundation Networking (LFN) projects now “enable nearly seventy percent of all global mobile subscribers.”

      • Deutsche Telekom joins Linux Foundation as platinum member

        Deutsche Telekom has joined The Linux Foundation Networking (LFN) as a Platinum member. Telekom will support LFN’s efforts to accelerate the development and adoption of open-source networking technologies and contribute to new network technologies enabling 5G services, said LFN. LFN said its projects now enable nearly 70 percent of all global mobile subscribers with the addition of Deutsche Telekom, and the company’s membership in LFN will drive the LFN initiative into new regions and promote the adoption of open standards and source.

      • Deutsche Telekom Goes Platinum at Linux Foundation

        Linux Foundation Networking (LFN) continues its membership growth with the addition of its newest Platinum member, Deutsche Telekom, one of the world’s leading integrated telecommunications companies. Deutsche Telekom joins LFN to support its efforts in accelerating the development and adoption of open source networking technologies. With the addition of Deutsche Telekom, LFN projects now enable nearly seventy percent of all global mobile subscribers.

        With its collaboration and extensive global footprint, Deutsche Telekom will help accelerate LFN globally, contributing to emerging network technologies critical to enabling 5G services. LFN supports the momentum of open source networking, integrating governance of participating projects in order to enhance operational excellence, simplify member engagement, and increase collaboration. Deutsche Telekom is also an active participant in the ONAP project and plans to contribute to the next platform release, Casablanca.

    • Graphics Stack
      • ROCm 1.8.2 Released For The Open-Source Radeon Linux Compute Stack

        While waiting for the big ROCm 1.9 update, another point release to the ROCm 1.8 series is available for this Radeon Open Compute stack.

        Earlier this month the AMD developers working on this Linux open-source OpenCL/compute stack pushed out the ROCm 1.8.2 beta while today it was elevated to the stable channel.

        Details on the ROCm 1.8.2 update are unfortunately light, but based upon user reports, it seems to be able to create a working environment on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS if paired with a newer kernel. But the official Ubuntu 18.04 LTS isn’t coming until ROCm 1.9.

      • Raven Ridge APUs Get Minor Performance Boost With Latest RADV Vulkan Driver

        The Raven Ridge Linux support continues to maturing. The latest on these Zen+Vega APUs using the open-source AMD Radeon Linux graphics driver stack should be slightly better performance when using the RADV Vulkan driver.

        RADV co-founder Bas Nieuwenhuizen landed a number of commits on Wednesday to further enhance this Mesa-based Radeon Vulkan driver. With this latest work, he’s now enabled binning and DFSM by default for Raven Ridge hardware. With this being enabled now for Raven, he’s found a minor performance in the range of 2~3% for some demos and games tested.

      • Freedreno Gallium3D Now Exposes Adreno A5xx Performance Counters

        It’s been a while since last having any news to report on Freedrenon, the open-source, community-driven Gallium3D driver for providing accelerated 3D support for Qualcomm Adreno graphics hardware. But ahead of the upcoming Mesa 18.2 feature freeze, Freedreno founder Rob Clark has been landing a number of improvements.

      • Sway 1.0 Alpha 4 Released With Real-Time Video Capture, Atomic Layout Updates

        Learn more about the Sway 1.0 Alpha 4 release via the GitHub release announcement.

      • Intel Squeezes Final Batch Of Linux 4.19 DRM Changes, Lands Icelake Display Compression

        Last week Intel sent in a “final” batch of i915 DRM driver feature updates to DRM-Next for the upcoming Linux 4.19 kernel cycle but it turns out there is one more batch of changes now focused on landing.

        Intel open-source graphics driver developer Rodrigo Vivi submitted their final pull request of new material for Linux 4.19.

      • 2018 Brings A New Linux X.Org Display Driver Update For The ATI RAGE 128

        Last month I wrote about a new attempt at improving the ATI RAGE 128 X.Org driver… Yes, for the for the Rage graphics cards from the late 90′s in the days of AGP and PCI where core/memory clock speeds were commonly in the double digits… If you are a hobbyist fond of these vintage graphics cards and are still running with these OpenGL 1.1~1.2 capable GPUs, there is a new X.Org driver update.

      • AMDGPU Gets More Features For Linux 4.19 Kernel

        On top of AMDGPU improvements/features already staged for Linux 4.19, the AMD folks on Thursday sent in their seemingly last set of feature updates to DRM-Next ahead of the Linux 4.19 kernel merge window.

        There is certainly a lot of new DRM material queuing for Linux 4.19: if you are behind on your Phoronix reading, there will be a DRM recap next week or so on Phoronix with the cutoff for new DRM-Next material hitting its end for the upcoming 4.19 window. Thursday’s Radeon/AMDGPU update just adds to this big list of changes.

      • AMDVLK Vulkan Driver Plumbs New Extensions, Lands A Number Of Fixes

        The AMD folks maintaining their official Vulkan driver code have done their common end-of-week code dump into the open-source AMDVLK Linux Vulkan driver repository across the PAL, XGL, LLVM, and SPVGEN code-bases.

      • NVIDIA 396.45 Linux Driver Fixes Vulkan Direct-To-Display & Multi-Threaded EGL Apps

        The NVIDIA Unix developers have released the 396.45 binary display driver today with just two listed bug-fixes.

        The NVIDIA 396.45 Linux driver has improved recovery for Vulkan direct-to-display applications (such as VR compositors or other use-cases where the Vulkan application is taking directly control of the display output) when the application hangs or crashes. This is good news in case of a problematic Linux VR experience that the display should be restored more gracefully.

      • NVIDIA pushed out two new Linux drivers recently with 396.45 and 390.77

        NVIDIA are pushing forward with improving their Linux driver in many areas, with two driver series seeing updated in the past week.

        The first is the 390.77 driver, part of their “long-lived branch release”.

    • Benchmarks
      • Fresh Docker Linux Benchmarks For Summer 2018

        The Docker testing was done from an Ubuntu 18.04 LTS x86_64 host running with the default Linux 4.15 kernel off the commonly-used Tyan 1U Xeon Scalable server with dual Xeon Gold 6138 processors. Docker was tested in its stock configuration on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and each Docker container tested consecutively. Each Docker container was benchmarked in a fully-automated and reproducible manner using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite.

      • A Fresh Look At The PGO Performance With GCC 8

        It’s been a while since we last ran some GCC PGO benchmarks, the Profile Guided Optimizations or feedback-directed optimization technique that makes use of profiling data at run-time to improve performance of re-compiled binaries. Here are some fresh benchmarks of GCC PGO impact on a Xeon Scalable server while using the newly-released GCC 8.2 release candidate.

        With it being a while since our last roundabout with GCC PGO benchmarking and also a reader recently inquiring about PTS PGO testing, I ran some new tests. For those not familiar with PGO, it basically involves first compiling the code with the relevant PGO/profiling flags, running the workload under test to generate the profiling data, and then re-compiling the software while feeding that profiling data into the compiler so it can make better optimization choices. This profile-guided feedback can be quite beneficial to the compiler for making wiser code generation choices based upon that run-time data. Firefox, Chrome, and other popular software packages have been relying upon PGO-optimized release binaries for a while to offer greater performance.

      • A 3.3x Performance Improvement For FLAC Audio Encoding On POWER 64-bit

        In last month’s round of IBM POWER9 benchmarking on the Talos II systems compared to various Intel/AMD x86_64 CPUs, one of the areas where POWER was struggling especially was with multimedia encoding performance. Fortunately, since those POWER9 Phoronix benchmarks this year, various developers have been working on optimizations.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Kdenlive 18.08 Beta – Film Noir

        Kdenlive is my video editor de jour since the dawn of civilization, or rather, as far back as my video editing attempts go. Pretty much all of the clips I uploaded to my Youtube channel were made using Kdenlive, with only some extra work in other programs. Kdenlive is powerful, flexible, useful, and now there’s a new beta that promises many good things and delights.

        The 18.08 version can be found under the label Refactoring Branch – sounds like an avantguard field of mathematics – and it is distributed as a self-contained AppImage, meaning you just need to make the file executable and then run it (single- or double-click). Which is exactly what I did. Follow me.

      • Kubuntu 18.04 Reviewed in Linux ( Pro ) Magazine

        Kubuntu Linux has been my preferred Linux distribution for more than 10 years. My attraction to the KDE desktop and associated application set, has drawn from Kubuntu user, to a tester, teacher, developer, community manager and councilor. I feel really privileged to be part of, what can only be described as, a remarkable example of the free software, and community development of an exceptional product.

        This latest release 18.04, effectively the April 2018 release, is a major milestone. It is the first LTS Long Term Support release of Kubuntu running the “Plasma 5” desktop.
        The improvements are so considerable, in both performance and modern user interface ( UI ) design, that I was really excited about wanting to tell the world about it.

      • Going to Akademy

        Happy to participate in a tradition I’ve admired from afar but never been able to do myself… until this year. My tickets are bought, my passport is issued, and I’m going to Akademy! Hope to see you all there!

      • System76′s New Manufacturing Facility, Ubuntu 17.10 Reaches End of Life, Google Cloud Platform Marketplace, Stranded Deep Now Available for Linux and Cutelyst New Release

        Cutelyst, a C++ web framework based on Qt, has a new release. The update includes several bug fixes and some build issues with buildroot. See Dantti’s Blog for all the details. Cutelyst is available on GitHub.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOME Shell & Mutter Updated Ahead Of GNOME 3.29.4

        GNOME 3.29.4 is coming out this week as the latest development release building up to GNOME 3.30 this September. GNOME Shell and Mutter have put out their latest releases for this development milestone.

        The Mutter 3.29.4 window/compositing manager has a crash fix as well as preserving paint volumes to optimize CPU use. That paint volume change for Mutter should be useful for further lowering the CPU usage but additional optimizations are on the way, particularly when Mutter is acting as a Wayland compositor.

      • Everybody’s Gone To The GUADEC

        It’s been ten days since I came back from GUADEC 2018, and I’ve finally caught up enough to find the time to write about it. As ever, it was a pleasure to see familiar faces from around the community, put some new faces to familiar names, and learn some entirely new names and faces!

      • GUADEC 2018 Videos: Help Wanted

        At this year’s GUADEC in Almería we had a team of volunteers recording the talks in the second room. This was organized very last minute as initially the University were going to do this, but thanks to various efforts (thanks in particular to Adrien Plazas and Bin Li) we managed to record nearly all the talks. There were some issues with sound on both the Friday and Saturday, which Britt Yazel has done his best to overcome using science, and we are now ready to edit and upload the 19 talks that took place in the 2nd room.

        To bring you the videos from last year we had a team of 5 volunteers from the local team who spent our whole weekend in the Codethink offices. (Although none of us had much prior video editing experience so the morning of the first day was largely spent trying out different video editors to see which had the features we needed and could run without crashing too often… and the afternoon was mostly figuring out how transitions worked in Kdenlive).

      • GUADEC 2018

        This year I attended my second GUADEC in beautiful Almería, Spain. As with the last one I had the opportunity to meet many new people from the extended GNOME community which is always great and I can’t recommend it enough for anybody involved in the project.


        Flatpak continues to have a lot of healthy discussions at these events. @matthiasclasen made a post summarizing the BoF so check that out for the discussions of the soon landing 1.0 release.

        So lets start with the Freedesktop 18.07 (date based versioning now!) runtime which is in a much better place than 1.6 and will be solving lots of problems such as multi-arch support and just long term maintainability. I was really pleased to see all of the investment in BuildStream and the runtime from CodeThink which is really needed in the long term.

  • Distributions
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Bridges Barriers Between openSUSE and SLE

        The SUSE Linux Enterprise is a multimodal operating system that is designed to handle business-critical workloads with an efficient and secure IT infrastructure. The latest release is designed to make it easier for openSUSE Linux community or development subscription users to upgrade their systems to the SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 with full functionality through the openSUSE Leap Linux distribution.

        OpenSUSE Linux is an open source community project that is freely available for download and use. This version of the operating system is built atop the open source Linux kernel, and it consistently receives updates for its framework as well as the many tools and applications that the open source SUSE Linux community develops. OpenSUSE benefits all SUSE projects and releases by being the testing ground for many features that are later employed into commercial editions of the product. SUSE Linux Enterprise, for example, derives directly from openSUSE’s tested features. This operating system is a more stable and commercial server-oriented version of openSUSE that is often employed by businesses and corporations to manage their computer systems and data. SUSE Linux Enterprise products consist of the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), SUSE Linux Enterprise Real Time (modified SLES), SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (desktop client), and SUSE Linux Enterprise Thin Client (SLETC). Taking advantage of the fact that SLE derives from the testing and development of features in openSUSE, the latest release of the operating system, the SUSE Linux Enterprise 15, allows openSUSE community users of the operating system to upgrade to the more stable and concrete version from within their own OS. This does not however entail a new free download; the privilege is up for grabs for existing openSUSE users only.

      • SUSE launches new enterprise Linux to help the move to software-defined infrastructure

        Businesses are increasingly running a mix of traditional and software-defined architectures and the launch of SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 is aimed at bridging the gap between the two.

        It’s a modular operating system that helps make traditional IT infrastructure more efficient and provides an engaging platform for developers. It also aids in integrating cloud-based platforms into enterprise systems, merging containerized development with traditional development, and combining legacy applications with microservices.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, June 2018

        Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

      • PKCS#11 v2.20

        By way of experiment, I’ve just enabled the PKCS#11 v2.20 implementation in the eID packages for Linux, but for now only in the packages in the “continuous” repository. In the past, enabling this has caused issues; there have been a few cases where Firefox would deadlock when PKCS#11 v2.20 was enabled, rather than the (very old and outdated) v2.11 version that we support by default. We believe we have identified and fixed all outstanding issues that caused such deadlocks, but it’s difficult to be sure.

      • Plans for DebCamp and DebConf 18

        I recently became an active contributor to the Debian project, which has been consolidated throughout my GSoC project. In addition to the great learning with my mentors, Lucas Kanashiro and Raphäel Hertzog, the feedback from other community members has been very valuable to the progress we are making in the Distro Tracker. Tomorrow, thanks to Debian project sponsorship, I will take off for Hsinchu, Taiwan to attend DebCamp and DebConf18. It is my first DebConf and I’m looking forward to meeting new people from the Debian community, learn a lot and make useful contributions during the time I am there.

      • Building Debian packages in CI (ick)

        I develop a number of (fairly small) programs, as a hobby. Some of them I also maintain as packages in Debian. All of them I publish as Debian packages in my own APT repository. I want to make the process for making a release of any of my programs as easy and automated as possible, and that includes building Debian packages and uploading them to my personal APT repository, and to Debian itself.

      • My DebCamp/DebConf 18 plans

        Tomorrow I am going to another DebCamp and DebConf; this time at Hsinchu, Taiwan.

      • Things you can do with Debian: multimedia editing

        The Debian operating system serves many purposes and you can do amazing things with it. Apart of powering the servers behind big internet sites like Wikipedia and others, you can use Debian in your PC or laptop. I’ve been doing that for many years.

        One of the great things you can do is some multimedia editing. It turns out I love nature, outdoor sports and adventures, and I usually take videos and photos with my friends while doing such activities. And when I arrive home I love editing them for my other blog, or putting them together in a video.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • PSA: Support for Ubuntu 17.10 Ends Today

            Ubuntu 17.10 reaches end of life on July 19, 2018 — which if you haven’t checked your calendar recently, is today. If you have thus far managed to resist the temptation to upgrade to a newer release then alas: today is the day when you need to start thinking about it.

          • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S11E19 – Nineteen Minutes – Ubuntu Podcast

            It’s Season 11 Episode 19 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Ryan are connected and speaking to your brain.

          • Snaps Add Flexibility with Tracks

            Snap packages have a rich set of features beyond getting the latest shiny on your Linux distribution. Tracks enable developers to publish multiple supported releases of their application under the same name. With this enabled, a user can switch tracks at any time to install and use an alternate supported relase of software.

            Within each track are four standard channels named edge, beta, candidate and stable. The channels represent the risk-level users should expect from the snaps within. Edge snaps (typically built from the latest code committed) would be riskier to use than beta releases, which are more risky than stable releases.

            By default every application has one ‘latest’ track and the four named channels. Developers can optionally choose whether to supplement that with additional tracks. Further the developer can choose which channels to use within those tracks.

          • Canonical Needs Your Help to Test the Improved Ubuntu 18.04.1 Server Installer

            Canonical’s Dimitri John Ledkov put out a call for testing for the Ubuntu community to help them test drive the improved Ubuntu Server installer in the upcoming Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS point release.

            Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS, the first of a total of five scheduled point releases of the long-term supported Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system series is about to be released in approximately one week from the moment of writing, on July 26, 2018, with improved and up-to-date core components and apps.

          • Help Test the New Ubuntu Server Installer

            I only ask because Canonical’s server bods are currently looking for wily folks to help them test an improved version of the new Ubuntu Server installer.

          • PowerShell launches as a snap

            PowerShell Core from Microsoft is now available for Linux as a Snap. Built on the .NET Framework, PowerShell is an open source task-based command-line shell and scripting language with the goal of being the ubiquitous language for managing hybrid cloud assets. It is designed specifically for system administrators and power-users to rapidly automate the administration of multiple operating systems and the processes related to the applications that run on those operating systems.

          • PowerShell Core now available as a Snap package

            The goal of PowerShell Core is to be the ubiquitous language for managing your assets in the hybrid cloud. That’s why we’ve worked to make it available on many operating systems, architectures, and flavors of Linux, macOS, and Windows as possible.

          • Microsoft’s PowerShell Available on Ubuntu as a Snap, Here’s How to Install It

            Canonical and Microsoft announced today that PowerShell automation and configuration management system is now available as a Snap package for Ubuntu Linux and other Snap-enabled GNU/Linux distributions.

            Consisting of a cross-platform command-line shell and related scripting language, as well as a framework for dealing with cmdlets, Microsoft’s PowerShell works on Windows, macOS, and Linux platforms to allow power-users and system administrators to have better and automated control over the administration of several operating systems.

          • Microsoft’s PowerShell Now Available On Ubuntu In Snap Form

            Canonical and Microsoft have just announced that PowerShell Core is now available for Ubuntu users in Snap format.

            Back in the summer of 2016, Microsoft open-sourced PowerShell with plans to support Linux. PowerShell has been available on Linux for a while now without too much adoption while now it’s available in Snap form for making it easy to deploy on Ubuntu and other Snap-supported platforms.

          • Microsoft Brings PowerShell to the Ubuntu Snap Store

            Microsoft has brought PowerShell Core to the Snap Store as a Snap application. The move allows Linux users and admins on various distros to run the latest version of PowerShell securely and safely across desktop, laptop and IoT.

          • Microsoft PowerShell Core for Linux now available as a Snap
          • PowerShell Core is now available as a Snap package for many Linux distributions
          • Microsoft makes PowerShell Core snap package available for Linux
          • Microsoft’s PowerShell Core app comes to Ubuntu and Linux as a snap package
          • Microsoft’s Linux love-in continues as PowerShell Core comes to Ubuntu Snap Store
          • Flavours and Variants
            • [Linux Mint] Monthly News – July 2018

              A mistimed MESA update in Xenial temporarily broke Ubuntu and Linux Mint upgrades. We were able to block it on the 7th of July, and ask people to revert the upgrade with Timeshift. On the 9th, everything was resolved, and the upgrade path was fixed and re-opened.

              More recently, a grub update triggered an issue in one of our own packages. That issue could only be triggered by a new grub update and so it had gone undetected during QA and the BETA test. Although it was fixed in a matter of hours in the repositories, it still affects our installation ISO images and it breaks EFI installations when the live session is connected to the Internet. The release notes were updated to ask people to install offline. New 64-bit ISO images for Linux Mint 19 Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce were produced with the fixed package and they passed QA yesterday. These new ISOs will replace the current images in the days to come.

              Be careful with Kernel 4.15.0-24. A critical issue causes some computers to boot really slowly, or not to boot at all. Ubuntu is aware of it and working on a fix. We’ve also received negative feedback from the 4.15 kernel series in Mint 18.x (based on Ubuntu Xenial). Although Ubuntu decided to switch the HWE series towards it, the 4.15 series doesn’t appear to support some proprietary drivers yet (nvidia-3.04 and nvidia-340 among them).

              We’re also aware of regressions in the Bionic base affecting VPN, Samba, Wine (recently fixed). Ubuntu 18.04 is a brand new base and we’re sure it will settle, receive bug fixes and get more mature with time.

              Of course our attention is mostly focused on the problems and we quickly forget about all the improvements. We had a great Linux Mint 19 release, we also received a huge amount of positive feedback and we’ve seen many great changes when moving from 16.04 to 18.04.

            • Linux Mint Debian Edition 3 Is On The Way, Cinnamon 4.0 Working On Speed

              The Linux Mint team has shared a routine status update about the work they have been engaged in over the past month, including dealing with some nasty package updates and readying the beta of Linux Mint Debian Edition 3 (LMDE 3).

              This month they had to deal with some headaches causing issues stemming from Ubuntu stable release updates around Mesa and GRUB in particular. There’s also been a kernel problem to deal with, among other regressions. But for those that are fans of Linux Mint Debian Edition whereby the distribution uses a Debian based over Ubuntu LTS, the LMDE 3 release is on the way. The developers believe the LMDE 3 Beta should surface by the end of July. Additionally, they plan to ship LMDE 3 both with their own live installer as well as a Calamares-based installer option.

            • Free eBook from Packt – Linux Mint Essentials
            • Cinnamon 4.0 Desktop Environment Promises to Be Fast and Have No Screen Tearing

              The recently released Linux Mint 19 “Tara” operating system features the latest Cinnamon 3.8 desktop environment, which promised to enable faster launching of apps and be more snappier than previous releases. After users’ reactions, Linux Mint devs now decided to continue improving Cinnamon on this front for the next major release, Cinnamon 4.0, due for release this year.

              Among the “snappiness” improvements they’ll want to implement in the upcoming Cinnamon 4.0 desktop environment, Clement Lefebvre mentioned the removal of Vsync to eliminate a slight delay noticed when dragging a window with the mouse cursor, as well as to use “Force Composition Pipeline” in Nvidia Settings for Nvidia graphics cards to eliminate screen tearing.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Oasis Loss Modelling Framework Offered Open Source, Free of Charge

    Not-for-profit catastrophe modeling platform Oasis Loss Modelling Framework announced that all components of its catastrophe modeling software are now open source and downloadable from GitHub, free of charge.

  • Open source adoption key to fintech sufes: FINOS

    Is there a place for open source, and open source collaboration in particular, in the financial services industry, with its strict security, governance, regulatory and privacy requirements?

    According to the Fintech Open Source Foundation (FINOS), the answer is an emphatic “yes”.

    FINOS, an independent non-profit organisation, believes that as the financial services sector is going through a period of unprecedented technological transformation, organisations that embrace open source software development and common standards will be best positioned to capture the growth opportunities that this transformation presents.

  • The Open Source Initiative: Worth the Hype?

    The popular internet advertisement blocker Adblock Plus — originally built with open-source code — is partnering with the OSI.

    Along with funding, innovation is underway. Google is opening an AI research center in France, with all code and results open to the public, according to Tech Crunch. As noted by FossBytes, Facebook used open-source technology to develop a new unit of time known as a Flick, which is short for frame-tick and is exactly 1/705,600,000 of a second. It allows videos at certain hertz to represent single-frame durations as integer quantities rather than decimal places. Flick should make it easier for companies and content creators to keep their videos in sync regardless of their encoding frequency.

  • 5 questions to answer before building a community

    I’ve talked to a number of business leaders recently about building communities for their company or product. While everybody recognizes the benefits of having a vibrant and active community, many are unsure about what it means and how to build it. Not knowing these details can mean wasting time and money on things that will not give you the results you want.

    While interviewing for community management roles, I started asking for these details to determine whether company leaders understand why they want a community and what they want it to do for them.

  • Open source code worth $600m contributed to Apache

    Open source code valued at over $600 million was delivered by volunteer project contributors to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) in a single 12-month period.

    That’s according to the Apache Software Foundation’s (ASF) annual report for its 2018 fiscal year, which ended on 30 April. The report was released last week.

    ASF was established in 1999 and claims to be the world’s largest open source foundation with more than 300 freely available, enterprise-wide projects that serve as the backbone for some of the most visible and widely used applications in computing today.

  • A brief history of text-based games and open source

    The Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation (IFTF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and improvement of technologies enabling the digital art form we call interactive fiction. When a Community Moderator for suggested an article about IFTF, the technologies and services it supports, and how it all intersects with open source, I found it a novel angle to the decades-long story I’ve so often told. The history of IF is longer than—but quite enmeshed with—the modern FOSS movement. I hope you’ll enjoy my sharing it here.

  • Mitre to Use Open Source Tool for Cyber Evaluations on 8 Companies

    Mitre will deploy an open source tool to assess the cybersecurity capabilities of eight companies and subsequently release findings in October as part of an initiative by the nonprofit research organization, ExecutiveBiz reported Thursday.

    The Washington Business Journal reported Tuesday that Mitre will utilize its Adversarial Tactics, Techniques and Common Knowledge platform to help conduct evaluations on the cyber offerings of Carbon Black (Nasdaq: CBLK), CounterTack, CrowdStrike, Cylance, Endgame, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), RSA and SentinelOne.

  • News:-Apache’s Project Kafka has released stable latest version 1.1.1

    Apache Kafka is a distributed streaming platform to publish, store, subscribe, and process the records. Kafka is broadly used for real-time streaming of the data between systems or applications.

    There are various applications in which Kafka is used like samza and confluent for Real-time Financial Alerts. Big brand names like The NewYork Times, Pinterest, Zalando, Rabobank, LINE, trivago are few of them who are using Kafka.

  • Creating Open-Source Projects Companies Want to Sponsor
  • Events
    • Hackers on Planet Earth, Here We Come!

      Dating all the way back to 1994, HOPE is an excellent collection of people and ideas. I was lucky enough to attend two years ago (my first time) and had a fantastic time meeting Cory Doctorow after his rousing talk about DMCA 1201, I got to hear Richard Stallman discuss why all software must be free, the talent show was off the hook, and there were fun people to hang out with at every turn.

    • Huawei makes prominent showing at open source event

      For a company that is supposed to be down and out (of the U.S. telecom space), Huawei made a relatively prominent showing at OSCON 2018, where it sponsored a keynote Wednesday morning and made its presence known throughout the convention center’s halls and on the exhibit floor.

      Such a showing by Huawei is nothing new. The company has sponsored events and plastered banners at wireless industry events in the past. But the moves are notable given the wrath that Huawei has seen in the nation’s current political climate and heightened scrutiny concerns it continues to get in the telecom space.

    • IBM reflects on open source some 20 years into it

      Open source might be a relatively new trend in telecom, but it’s been around at least 20 years, and that’s something OSCON 2018 organizers want to make sure attendees here are aware.

      The open source convention known as OSCON hosts developers, IT managers, system administrators and just plain geeks who want to learn the latest in blockchain, Kubernetes or other technical arenas and hear inspiring stories about open source. The convention is back in Portland this week after having been held in Austin, Texas, the past two years.

      In telecom, operators want their vendors to deliver based on open source platforms. Various initiatives are under way, but not every vendor is rushing to the party. Through the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), for example, operators are developing reference designs so that everyone in the supply chain knows what solutions operators plan to procure and deploy.

    • Perspecta Participates in Open Source Summit as Conference Sponsor; Mac Curtis Comments

      Perspecta (NYSE: PRSP) served as a sponsor of the 7th Annual Open Source Summit organized by the Open Source Electronic Health Record Alliance to discuss the use of open source software in industry and government, ExecutiveBiz reported July 13.

  • Web Browsers
    • Vivaldi Browser Adds Privacy-Focused Search Engine Qwant as New Search Option

      Vivaldi Technologies informed Softpedia today that they’ve added a new search engine to the growing list of search options of their Chromium-based Vivaldi web browser.

      We’re talking about Qwant, a search engine designed from the ground up by a French-based company to respect users’ privacy when searching the World Wide Web for anything that interest them every single day. Qwant achieves its privacy goal by not storing any cookies, nor your search history.

    • Vivaldi’s New Qwant Privacy-Focused Search Engine, Microsoft Makes PowerShell Core a Snap, Red Hat Ansible Engine 2.6 Now Available, Apache Software Foundation’s Annual Report and More

      Vivaldi Technologies has added a new privacy-focused search engine called Qwant to its Vivaldi web browser. Qwant doesn’t store cookies or search history. Softpedia News quotes CEO and co-founder of Vivaldi Jon von Tetzchner: “We believe that the Internet can do better. We do not believe in tracking our users or in data profiling.” You need version 1.15 of Vivaldi in order to enable Qwant.

    • Chrome
      • Opera 55 Web Browser Enters Beta with Support for Installing Chrome Extensions

        The Chromium-based Opera web browser continues development with two upcoming versions, Opera 55 and Opera 56, and the former recently entered beta testing with a bunch of goodies.

        Based on Chromium 68.0.3440.42, Opera 55 beta introduces a revamped settings page that promises to help users better and easier configure their favorite web browser by splitting the settings into two categories, namely basic and advanced. Also, users will now be able to search for specific settings via the integrated search bar.

      • Google Chrome on Android will stop background tabs after 5 minutes to improve performance

        What once was dominated by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Google Chrome has done a great job at dominating the overall web browser market. Various reports project Chrome’s usage numbers between 50% to just over 62%, and this has actually been both a blessing and a curse. Google has been under the investigation from both Russia and Europe for their actions and their practices just may have to change in the near future. Still, even with the popularity of the Chrome browser, users have a number of complaints. Google engineers have been working on improving these lately and Chrome for Android will soon stop background tabs after 5 minutes of inactivity.

      • Google Chrome To Stop Background Tab Loading After 5 Mins Of Inactivity
    • Mozilla
      • Introducing the ASan Nightly Project

        Every day, countless Mozillians spend numerous hours testing Firefox to ensure that Firefox users get a stable and secure product. However, no product is bug free and, despite all of our testing efforts, browsers still crash sometimes. When we investigate our crash reports, some of them even look like lingering security issues (e.g. use-after-free or other memory corruptions) but the data we have in these reports is often not sufficient for them to be actionable on their own (i.e. they do not provide enough information for a developer to be able to find and fix the problem). This is particularly true for use-after-free problems and some other types of memory corruptions where the actual crash happens a lot later than the memory violation itself.

        In our automated integration and fuzz testing, we have been using AddressSanitizer (ASan), a compile-time instrumentation, very successfully for over 5 years. The information it provides about use-after-free is much more actionable than a simple crash stack: It not only tells you immediately when the violation happens, but also includes the location where the memory was free’d previously.

      • A Science Fair with $1.6 Million in Prizes

        Across the U.S., community technologists are using creative ideas — like solar-powered Wi-Fi and mesh networks — to connect the unconnected. This August, Mozilla is gathering those projects under one roof for a science fair — and awarding $1.6 million in prizes to the most promising ideas.

        The event is the final leg of the Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society (WINS) Challenges, a $2 million competition run by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Mozilla. Launched in 2017, the initiative awards prizes to the people and projects who are connecting unconnected Americans with scalable, secure, and resilient solutions.

      • The Arch: Using Rust & WebAssembly to animate 30k colored LED lights

        In June, Mozilla collaborated with an artist named Ian Brill to create an installation called the “Arch” at JSConf EU in Berlin. This interactive environment allowed people to experience the intersection of art and technology in a physical, pulsating, immersive way.

        Visitors could view the larger-than-life Arch and experience an ever-changing light show of 30,000 colored LEDs. To support the exhibit, Mozilla engineers built a platform that enabled anyone to use web technologies (with underlying implementation in Rust & WebAssembly) to control the Arch animations and makes the light display interactive. The result was fun and colorful — and it gave developers a chance to interact with unfamiliar new technologies.

      • Browser privacy improvements and anti-fraud

        The good news is that interesting competition among web browsers is back, not just because of ongoing performance improvements in Firefox, but also because of Apple Safari’s good work on protecting users from some kinds of cross-site tracking by default. Now the challenge for other browsers is to learn from the Safari work and build on it, to even more accurately implement the user’s preferences on sharing their personal information. According to research by Tini Sevak at YouGov, 36% of users are “more likely to engage with adverts that are tailored to them”, while 55% are “creeped out” by personalized ads. The browser has to get its data sharing settings right for the individual user, while minimizing the manual settings and decision fatigue that the user has to go through.

      • Announcing Rust 1.27.2

        The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.27.2. Rust is a systems programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency.

      • [Mozilla Addons Blog:] Thank you, contributors!

        As a large, complex, and heavily visited site, it can be challenge for our small team to make sure that extension users and developers have a good experience on (AMO). Fortunately, we are not alone. Thanks to volunteer contributors who share their time, energy, and talent, we’re able to extend our ability to extend the web by fixing reported bugs, implementing routine updates, landing new features, and moderating content listed on AMO.

      • Reps Council at SF All Hands 2018

        The All Hands is a special time of the year where Mozilla employees along with core volunteers gather for a week of many meetings and brainstorming. The All Hands Wiki page has more information about the general setting. During the All Hands, the Reps Council participated in the Open Innovation meetings as well as had meetings about improve 2018 planning.

      • This Week in Mixed Reality: Issue 13

        This week we focused on fixing bugs and delivering a seamless experience across our three areas: browsers, social, and the content ecosystem.

      • Get rich with Firefox or *(int *)NULL = 0 trying: Automated bug-bounty hunter build touted

        Do you love Firefox, Linux, and the internet? Are you interested in earning money from the comfort of your own home? Are you OK with a special flavor of Firefox quietly gobbling up memory in a hunt for exploitable security bugs?

        If so, Mozilla has a deal for you.

        The open internet organization (and search licensing revenue addict) would like you to go about your usual browsing business with a special Firefox build designed to automatically report potential security flaws in the software back to the mothership.

        If you do so, and the reported error turns out to be a legit exploitable vulnerability that Firefox engineers can fix, you’ll be rewarded as if you’d submitted the errant code to Mozilla’s bug bounty program.

        That’s right, kids. Your aimless online procrastination could be your ticket to riches through the ASan Nightly Project.

      • Why an ops career

        It’s been a great “family reunion” of FOSS colleagues and peers in the OSCON hallway track this week. I had a conversation recently in which I was asked “Why did you choose ops as a career path?”, and this caused me to notice that I’ve never blogged about this rationale before.

        I work in roles revolving around software and engineering because they fall into a cultural sweet spot offering smart and interesting colleagues, opportunities for great work-life balance, and exemplary compensation. I also happen to have taken the opportunity to spend over a decade building my skills and reputation in this industry, which helps me keep the desirable roles and avoid the undesirable ones. Yet, many people in my field prefer software development over operations work.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • A guide: The incorporation of OpenStack and Open Source MANO for NFV deployments

      As we know, OpenStack is mainly known to be the largest pool of open source projects which collectively form the software platform for cloud computing infrastructure. This infrastructure is used widely in private cloud use cases by many enterprises. After an introduction of NFV by ETSI, OpenStack has emerged as a key infrastructure platform for NFV. In most of the NFV deployments, OpenStack is used at VIM (Virtual Infrastructure Manager) layer to give a standardised interface for managing, monitoring and assessing all resources within NFV infrastructure.

      Various OpenStack projects, such as Tacker, Neutron, Nova, Astara, Congress, Mistral, Senlin) are capable of managing virtualised infrastructure components of NFV environment. As an example, Tacker is utilised to build a generic VNF Manager (VNFM) and NFV Orchestrator (NFVO) which helps in deployment and operation of VNFs within NFV infrastructure. Additionally, integration of OpenStack projects introduces various features to NFV infrastructure. Features include performance features like huge pages, CPU pinning, NUMA topology and SR-IOV; service function chaining, network slicing, scalability, high availability, resiliency and multi-site enablement.

  • Databases
    • The changing role of DBAs in an “as-a-service” world

      Over the years at Percona, we have seen this shift as well. The types of issues we face daily have evolved along with the database environment (and the role of the DBA). Currently, more than 50% of the support tickets our customers open are related to application design issues, query performance, or database infrastructure design. Five years ago, help requests and support tickets around issues like these represented less than 20% of our overall caseload.

      This makes sense when you think about the maturity of open source databases such as MySQL, MongoDB, MariaDB, and PostgreSQL and the technological advances that impact the database. More stable databases, coupled with advances in either homegrown automation or cloud-based infrastructure, reduce the likelihood of general crashing bugs due to the core database software. Often, today’s causes of outages and issues are design decisions, bad code, or odd “edge cases” that weren’t considered in the initial planning.

      All of this means that the role of the DBA is moving away from simply “keeping it up and running” to a much more strategic position: The DBA is one of the experts that helps enterprises reach their strategic business goals.

  • Healthcare
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Facebook open-sources its ‘oomd’ tool for data center memory management

      Facebook Inc. is doling out yet another open-source software tool, this time aimed at data center operators that struggle with system outages from applications trying to consume more memory resources than are available to them.

      The software in question is called oomd, which Facebook describes as a “faster and more reliable” solution for the “out-of-memory situations” that sometimes occur after a configuration change or software update relating to its information technology infrastructure.

    • Open sourcing oomd, a new approach to handling OOMs

      As our global community has grown to more than 2.2 billion people, Facebook’s infrastructure has grown to span News Feed, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and a range of other products. These products and the systems powering them run on millions of servers spread across multiple geo-distributed data centers.

      As our infrastructure has scaled, we’ve found that an increasing fraction of our machines and networks span multiple generations. One side effect of this multigenerational production environment is that a new software release or configuration change might result in a system running healthily on one machine but experiencing an out-of-memory (OOM) issue on another. Facebook runs Linux as the host operating system on its machines. The traditional Linux OOM killer works fine in some cases, but in others it kicks in too late, resulting in the system entering a livelock for an indeterminate period.

      We have developed oomd, a faster, more reliable solution to common out-of-memory (OOM) situations, which works in userspace rather than kernelspace. We designed oomd with two key features: pre-OOM hooks and a custom plugin system. Pre-OOM hooks offer visibility into an OOM before the workload is threatened. The plugin system allows us to specify custom policies that can handle each workload running on a host.

    • Open sourcing oomd, a new approach to handling OOMs

      Over on the Facebook code site, Daniel Xu announces the release of oomd under the GPLv2. Oomd is a user-space “out of memory” killer that was mentioned in our recent article on the block I/O latency controller and it uses the pressure stall information covered in an even more recent article.

  • BSD
    • GCC 8.2 Release Candidate Arrives For Compiler Testing

      GCC 8.2 as the first point release to the stable GCC 8 compiler is tentatively set to debut next Thursday, 26 July, but available now for testing is the release candidate.

      Available today is 8.2.0-RC-20180719 as the release candidate to GCC 8.2.0.

    • FSFE Newsletter – July 2018

      On July 5, The European Parliament rejected the mandate to fast-track the controversial legislation intended to reform online copyright.

    • David’s Progress on The Free Software Directory, internship weeks 2-3

      I’m working on creating a list of free software extensions for Mozilla-based browsers on the Free Software Directory based on data from This is needed because the official extensions repository includes many proprietary extensions.

      I found out that it’s not possible to use the API to list add-on collections, so I submitted a bug report for this. To my surprise they declined my suggestion, so I had to add a function to my program to parse it manually. Then I went on and wrote a detailed README file to describe the philosophy for the project to make it easy for anyone to contribute. I merged my source code to the Savannah GNU package called Free Software Directory, which also has scripts for importing data from Debian.

      I started a collection of IceCat add-ons and recommended IceCat (and Abrowser) to use it in Tools -> Add-ons (about:addons) -> Get Add-ons.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Amazon, Canonical, Intel Join Open Source Licence Coalition – Pledge Patience

      Open source heavyweights Amazon, Canonical, Intel and more this week joined a diverse new coalition dedicated to making open source licence enforcement fairer and clearer.

      The group was set up last year by major Linux users Facebook, Google, IBM and Red Hat. This week Red Hat announced that Amazon, Arm, Canonical, GitLab, Intel, NEC, Royal Philips, SAS, Toyota and VMware were among those committing to its terms.

      Coalition members agree to provide a fair “cure period” for licensees in breach of their open source software licenses, rather than taking immediate legal action or cancelling the licences without warning (which early open source licences permit).

      The companies also say that they want to “support approaches to license enforcement that foster greater collaboration in open source software development.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Printrbot has shut down

        Printrbot, a popular Kickstarter-backed 3D printer company, has shut down, leaving only a barebones website and little explanation.

      • Pioneering desktop 3D printer maker Printrbot closes it doors
      • Printrbot Closes Doors, Saddening 3D Printing Fans Everywhere

        In a competitive market, it’s hard for any company to stay ahead of the others, and it’s a sad fact that even some of the most popular and long-lived companies succumb to heavy weather. Printrbot, founded in 2011, had legions of fans who loved its printers’ affordability, ease of assembly and use, and open source freedom. Printrbot 3D printers were 3D printers for the people – only a few hundred dollars, they provided access to 3D printing technology for people who hadn’t been able to afford it before, and although they were simple, they were high quality. Best of all, you could make them your own, tinkering with them and creating new and unique machines, as so many users did. The company was ethical, direct and honest. Some open source 3D printer companies just download files and don’t share. Printrbot dutifully shared its source files and was a rare true open source company.

      • 3D Printing Community saddened by closure of Printrbot 3D printers

        Open source 3D printer manufacturer Printrbot has announced the close of its business, citing poor sales as the reason for the decision. A simple statement on the Printrbot website from founder Brook Drumm reads:

        “Printrbot is closed. Low sales led to hard decisions. We will be forever grateful to all the people we met and served over the years. Thank you all.”

        For the time being, Drumm will reportedly be “unreachable” for comments, and plans to share his views and plans for this “final chapter” in due course.

        The 3D Printing Community however has take to social media in mourning of the company, with figures including Joel Telling (YouTube’s 3D Printing Nerd), Thomas Sanladerer, and Dr. Adrian Bowyer himself weighing in on the close.

      • Printrbot Shuts Down After Seven Years of Creating Open Source 3D Printers

        Printrbot, the 3D printing manufacturer which was founded in 2011 with the launch of its original Printrbot printer on Kickstarter, has announced that it’s now sadly closing its doors.

  • Programming/Development
    • Python post-Guido

      There were two main areas that Van Rossum called out for governance: how PEPs are decided and how new core developers are added. The latter seems to already be based on a vote of the existing core developers. They are the only ones allowed to post to the core-committers mailing list, which is where Van Rossum posted his resignation, presumably to avoid wading through hundreds of messages—nearly all undoubtedly positive and grateful, though surely there would have been some trolls as well.

    • PHP version 5.6.37, 7.0.31, 7.1.20 and 7.2.8
    • An Introduction to Using Git

      If you’re a developer, then you know your way around development tools. You’ve spent years studying one or more programming languages and have perfected your skills. You can develop with GUI tools or from the command line. On your own, nothing can stop you. You code as if your mind and your fingers are one to create elegant, perfectly commented, source for an app you know will take the world by storm.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • Open Source and Standard-Essential Patents: More Alike Than Not

      The unspoken question that this paper raises in my mind is whether it may be incorrect to speak of Open Source and standardization as separate activities at all. Instead, Open Source might correctly be viewed as a species of standardization activity, with particular license conditions and membership conditions. The success of Open Source activities—and other standards that implement royalty-free commitments, such as Bluetooth—shows that there’s a place in the continuum of standards policy for royalty-free licensing when participants wish that to be the case.

  • How to give IT project estimates—and when not to estimate at all

    Everyone wants to know how long a project will take. Here’s how to provide managers with a prediction that’s both accurate and imprecise, using cycle time and counting stories, along with advice on when to avoid estimation altogether.

    Celeste felt squeezed. Her manager, Barry, wanted an estimate for her team’s quarterly deliverables. Making the task more challenging, Celeste’s team wasn’t working on just one product; no, Barry wanted estimates for three different products. Each product was part of a different project.


    Estimation is work, too. Many teams account for estimation in their regular flow of work. However, an accurate estimate for a quarter’s worth of work often requires more than the hour or two of estimation as the team proceeds.

    There are at least two problems with estimating a quarter’s worth of work: Too often, the requirements aren’t fully defined and, as with Celeste’s team, the estimation interrupts the team from its urgent project work.

  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • “An almond doesn’t lactate:” FDA to crack down on use of the word “milk”

      He went on to explain that the issue is that the agency hasn’t been enforcing its own policy or putting the squeeze on product makers—and that it’s time to get abreast of the labeling language.

    • Alaska Airlines Confirms Cabin Air Contamination

      As we reported yesterday, Alaska Airlines has been differing fume and cabin air contamination write-ups, along with other issues, on Virgin America Airbus aircraft and has been instructing the crew to operate the aircraft in question. Crews have been reporting these events for the last few months, some flight attendants and passengers have even been hospitalized due to cabin air contamination, and Alaska hasn’t acknowledged or attempted to resolve the issues until yesterday.

    • Immigrant Shelters Drug Traumatized Teenagers Without Consent

      Fleeing an abusive stepfather in El Salvador, Gabriela headed for Oakland, California, where her grandfather had promised to take her in. When the teenager reached the U.S. border in January 2017, she was brought to a federally funded shelter in Texas.

      Initially, staff described her as receptive and resilient. But as she was shuttled from one Texas shelter to another, she became increasingly depressed. Without consulting her grandfather, or her mother in El Salvador, shelter staff have prescribed numerous medications for her, including two psychotropic drugs whose labels warn of increased suicidal behavior in adolescents, according to court documents. Still languishing in a shelter after 18 months, the 17-year-old doesn’t want to take the medications, but she does anyway, because staff at one facility told her she wouldn’t be released until she is considered psychologically sound.

      Gabriela’s experience epitomizes a problem that the Trump administration’s practice of family separation exacerbated: the failure of government-funded facilities to seek informed consent before medicating immigrant teenagers. Around 12,000 undocumented minors are in custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. The majority crossed the border unaccompanied, while more than 2,500 were separated from their parents while Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy was in effect from April to June.

    • Oppositions Filed Against Gilead Hepatitis C Patent Applications In India

      The Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+), which represents people with hepatitis C, filed the oppositions at the Indian Patent Office on 9 July, according to a release from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) Access Campaign.

      “The grounds for these two patent oppositions are based on provisions in the Indian Patents Act that prevent patent evergreening, which restricts the patentability of a host of secondary patents, i.e., new forms of known substances, new property or new use of known substances, use of known processes without showing any enhanced therapeutic efficacy, and admixtures without synergistic effect,” said the MSF release.

      The opposition filings (sofosbuvir/velpatasvir, velpatasvir) came shortly after Gilead, a US pharmaceutical corporation, submitted patent applications for medications that inhibit the growth of HCV and HIV, according to the opposition filings. In the opposition filings, it states that Gilead claimed to have eliminated some liver side effects that are common after taking HCV or HIV medication.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Thursday
    • First PGPainless Release!

      PGPainless 0.0.1-alpha1 is the first non-snapshot release and is available from maven central. It was an interesting experience to go through the process of creating a release and I’m looking forward to have many more releases in the future

      The current release contains a workaround for the bug I described in an earlier blog post. The issue was, that bouncycastle wouldn’t mark the public sub keys of a secret key ring as sub keys, which results in loss of keys if the user tries to create a public key ring from the exported public keys. My workaround fixes the issue by iterating through all sub keys of an existing key ring and converting the key packages of subkeys to subkey packages. The code is also available as a gist.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) End of Life reached on July 19 2018
    • Hacked Passwords Being Used In Blackmail Attempt — Expect More Of This

      This was immediately obvious as a scam from a hacked database of passwords. Besides the fact that I haven’t used that particular password in ages (and even when I did, it was the password I used for “unimportant” sites), there are a whole bunch of other reasons why it was obvious that the email was fake and it would be literally impossible for the person to have whatever it was they claimed to have on me. I found it funny enough that I reached out to some other folks to see if this was getting around, and a few people told me they’d seen similar ones, noting that the final note about sending it to “9 friends” appeared to be an increase from the usual of “5″ that they had seen before.

      Indeed, Brian Krebs, who is always on top of these things, wrote a story about how a bunch of people got these emails last week. That one only asked for $1400, and also promised to send it to 5 friends. It has a few other slight differences to the one I received, but is pretty clearly sent by the same person/team of people with just a few modifications. Like the ones that Krebs reported on, mine appeared to come from an email address. As Krebs notes, he expects that this particular scam is about to get a lot more popular, and will probably use a lot more recent set of passwords:

    • Hacker Summer Camp 2018: Cyberwar?

      I actually thought I was done with the pre-con portion of my Hacker Summer Camp blog post series, but it turns out that people wanted to know more about “the most dangerous network in the world”. Specifically, I got questions about how to protect yourself in this hostile environment, like whether people should bring a burner device, how to avoid getting hacked, what to do after the con, etc.


      There’s never a guarantee of security, but with updated devices & good security hygiene, you can survive the DEF CON networks.

    • Amazon, Reddit And Others Fail To Warn Us About Dumb Passwords

      Believe it or not, there is still a large number of people who use passwords such as “password,” “password123”, “[dog’s name]1” and others along the same lines. And in the era of sophisticated hacking, these passwords are not exactly “safe.”

    • Decade of research shows little improvement in password guidance
    • Meltdown Protection For x86 32-bit Aligned For The Linux 4.19 Kernel

      Those still relying upon x86 32-bit Linux kernels for aging hardware and continuing to update to the latest software will find mitigation for the Meltdown CPU vulnerability with the upcoming Linux 4.19 kernel cycle. You’ll find this mitigation but at the cost of performance.

      While x86_64 Linux was mitigated back in January for Meltdown, it’s taken a while for x86 32-bit support for KPTI, Kernel Page Table Isolation. This is basically applying the same page table isolation approach seen on Linux x86_64 and ARM to now the 32-bit x86 kernel code. Obviously it hasn’t been a priority with many Linux distributions not even bothering with i686 install images in recent years.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • UK personnel ‘could face murder trials’ over drone strikes, MPs warn
    • Adam Holloway MP: Britain must lead the way to create a global legal framework on drones

      oday, we launch the report of the APPG on Drones inquiry, The UK’s Use of Armed Drones: Working with Partners. Following an independent process, our cross-party report shines a light on the risky ways that UK drone partnerships are being run, and makes recommendation to the Government to update Britain’s security policy for the new era of remote warfare.

      Over two years, we’ve heard from experts on how British support and intelligence may have assisted targeted killings by the US in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan: countries where the UK isn’t at war. As even the architects of the US drone programme have raised the alarm on President Trump’s drone programme, clarity on the UK’s role is now urgently needed.

      When Britain shares its bases, intelligence and personnel with drone partners who may, in future, act unlawfully – Britain risks acting unlawfully. We need to put the right safeguards are in place. Not to hinder the Government’s fight against terrorism, but – in the absence of clear legal basis and stated public policy – to prevent civilian harm and protect British military personnel from criminal prosecution.

    • 2 Palestinians injured as Israeli drone strikes launchers of arson balloons

      An Israeli army drone fired a missile at a group of Palestinian young men launching arson balloons from eastern Gaza City into Israel, injuring two of them, medical sources said.

      One of the two injured by the shrapnel of the missile was in serious condition, the sources said.

    • Meanwhile, About Those Other Issues at the Summit

      Stories that Trump would announce a cancellation of U.S. military exercises in Europe or even a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Europe had no basis in reality, and needless to say nothing like that happened. Nor did Donald Trump recognise Crimea as Russian or announce that he would lift sanctions on Russia.

    • Sam Husseini Locked Up for Committing Journalism in Public

      Journalist and FAIR associate Sam Husseini went to the Trump/Putin press conference in Helsinki with press credentials from The Nation and a couple of questions. Specifically, he wanted to ask both leaders why they aren’t living up to their commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and why they’re blocking the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Further, based on the idea that there may be no greater threat than a weapon that is unacknowledged, Husseini hoped to ask Trump if he would acknowledge the existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons.

      It wasn’t so quixotic: Reuters (7/12/18) had just reported Trump saying his “ultimate” hope for the summit’s outcome was “no more nuclear weapons anywhere in the world.” But, as listeners may have heard, Husseini, also an analyst at the Institute for Public Accuracy, didn’t get to ask those questions. Before the conference started, Finnish security took him out of the room, saying someone had told them he had a sign. He did have a small piece of paper, reading “Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty,” that he hoped might draw Trump’s or Putin’s attention, but he was prepared to be told this was against the rules and to hand it over. As he took it out, though, security officers leapt on him, knocked his glasses off, and dragged him out of the room, and ultimately to a detention facility, where they held him incommunicado until the middle of the night.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Ecuador, Britain in talks over Assange standoff, says diplomat

      Ecuador and Britain are “in the process of negotiating” a possible solution to their more than five-year standoff over WikiLeak’s founder Julian Assange, a top official said on Thursday.

      The anti-secrecy activist has been holed up at Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012, unable to make use of the political asylum the South American country granted him due to Britain’s refusal to give him safe passage.

    • Pamela Anderson Actually Asked Alec Baldwin to Lobby Trump for a Pardon of Julian Assange
    • Ecuador, UK are in talks over Assange

      According to sources close to Wikileaks CEO, they know nothing about the negotiations. The US can exert pressure on the authorities of Ecuador, the sources added.

    • The power of polish, according to the CIA

      There comes a time in every person’s life – sometimes many times – when he or she or they wishes that some statement made or written had been a bit more clear. The human experience is complex, language can only do so much to convey its intricacies, and in some situations, what would and wouldn’t be considered unforgivable can be determined by just one word.

      What a world of difference the right one can make.

      The Central Intelligence Agency of the mid-1970s understood something of the value of thoughtful phrasing. In the wake of Watergate, the revelations of the “Family Jewels,” and the subsequent Church Committee investigation, the Agency had a lot riding on what it did and didn’t say. And as noted in a memo for Deputy Director of Central Intelligence E. Henry Knoche dated November 29, 1976, that efficiency of language should be reflected in their planning materials, like “DCI Perspectives,” issued regularly as mid-range guidance to the Intelligence Community.

    • Inside WikiLeaks: Working with the Publisher that Changed the World

      Silenced and cut off from the outside world, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the last six years with no access to sunlight, fresh air, or proper medical treatment. Furthermore, last March President Lenin Moreno’s Ecuadorian government cut his access to the internet, phone calls and even visitors and journalists. For a man who has already been confined to the embassy for so long, these restrictions are particularly harsh.

      I began working as one of WikiLeaks’ media partners in 2009, before Assange and WikiLeaks published such bombshells as the “Collateral Murder” video. Over the last nine years, I have partnered with WikiLeaks on behalf of my newspaper, the Italian daily La Repubblica to work on the Podesta emails and many of its other secret files, except for those that WikiLeaks released without media partners: the DNC emails, the Saudi Cables, Turkey’s ruling party emails, the Hacking Team documents, the Collateral Murder video and the Brennan emails.

      Like its work or not, WikiLeaks is an independent media organization that doesn’t have to rely on traditional media to publish its scoops. Indeed it was founded to bypass the legal qualms traditional media may have about publishing classified information.

      With its 5.5 million followers on Twitter, WikiLeaks has a huge social media presence that gives its work immediate impact. But WikiLeaks has published most of its revelations in collaboration with a number of media partners.

    • Ecuador to hand over Assange to UK ‘in coming weeks or days,’ own sources tell RT’s editor-in chief

      Simonyan’s message comes, as speculations Ecuador is in talks with the UK over the future of Assange are back again in British press. Earlier this week, the Times reported Britain is locked in top-tier discussions with the Ecuadorians in a bid to remove Assange from their London embassy.

      Sir Alan Duncan, the Foreign Office minister, is said to be spearheading the diplomatic effort. Sources close to Assange said he himself was not aware of the talks but believed that America was putting “significant pressure” on Ecuador, including threatening to block a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if he continues to stay at the embassy.

      The Times report comes just weeks before a visit to the UK by the newly-elected Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno, who has labeled Assange a “hacker”, an “inherited problem” and a “stone in the shoe.”


      Despite the Swedish investigation against him being closed in May last year, the Australian journalist was still unable to leave the embassy because of an outstanding British warrant for allegedly breaching bail conditions and no guarantees of him not being sent to the US.

      Over the years, the whistleblower has been supported by activists and human rights groups, who demanded he be freed. A UN panel also found that Assange’s stay in the embassy amounted to “arbitrary detention,” but it wasn’t enough to change his fate.

    • UK minister dares Julian Assange to leave Ecuadorean embassy

      JULIAN Assange is facing “serious charges” and can expect a “warm welcome” from British police if he walks out of the Ecuadorean embassy, according to UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

      The Wikileaks founder has been holed up in the embassy in London since 2012 in fear of possible charges being brought against him by US authorities.

      “He is free to walk out of the doors of the Ecuadorean embassy any time he wishes,” Mr Hunt said.

      “This is a country that respects rule of law, you are innocent until proven guilty.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Wroclaw’s Electric Carsharing Program Passes 30,000 Users

      A local news report in the Polish city where I’ve been living for nearly 10 years highlights that our relatively fresh electric carsharing program — Vozilla — has passed 30,000 users after approximately a year of service. Before moving to Florida a month ago, I was seeing the cars — mostly Nissan LEAFs — everywhere I went. I would say anytime I went out beyond our corner shops (and often there as well), I saw at least one of these fun-colored LEAFs.

    • Hosepipe ban: Where in UK is it being imposed and what will happen if you break it?

      From 5 August, millions of people living in the North West of England are going to be affected by hosepipe ban following what is believed to be the longest heatwave in the UK since 1976.

      The hosepipe ban, otherwise known as a ‘Temporary Use Ban (TUB)’ is being enforced by water company United Utilities.

      With many faced with the prospect of being disallowed from using hosepipes or sprinklers on their properties, people who fail to meet with the new regulations in the affected areas could be met with hefty fines.

  • Finance
    • Employees stage protests as Amazon Prime Day gets underway

      Workers at Amazon in Europe have walked out to protest against the company’s employment conditions ahead of the company’s Prime Day which began at midnight Australian time and runs for 36 hours.

    • Negotiating Brexit from the ground up

      Brexit is increasingly being treated as a national crisis on one level which challenges party lines and has even led to proposals of the formation of a Unity government. There is no doubt that it is complex with multiple moving parts and has cut to the heart of families and communities. However, it is crucial to realise that in order for it to be successful or for it not to “take us over a cliff edge” we the British public, will need to be prepared to undergo a change in culture.

      This will involve our becoming more sophisticated in our approach to negotiation and conflict resolution as individuals and communities. If we do this, we can start building workable solutions to Brexit and, potentially, build stronger, more cohesive communities that speak less of hate and more of tolerance.

    • Central Banks Consider Blockchain-Based Digital Currency At ITU Meeting

      The UN International Telecommunication Union’s Digit Fiat Currency (ITU-DFC) Focus Group is meeting in New York this week to consider the potential promise and pitfalls of central bank-issued digital currency.

    • What is distributed ledger technology?

      Since ancient times, we’ve relied on ledgers for recordkeeping in various domains, including contracts, payments, ownership of assets, identities, etc. Ledgers have come a long way and have been at the heart of trust in communities since humans first began writing on clay tablets and papyrus. The discipline evolved over centuries as paper was invented and new methods such as double-entry accounting were devised to leverage the use of ledgers in new and more calculated ways.

      The advent and propagation of computers in the 20th century added great speed and convenience to the process of creating, updating and managing ledgers. The internet later made it possible to create digital ledgers that could be accessed from anywhere across the world.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Undercover investigator: Facebook moderators were instructed not to remove racist far-right material
    • Undercover Facebook moderator was instructed not to remove fringe groups or hate speech

      The undercover journalist detailed his findings in a new documentary titled Inside Facebook: Secrets of the Social Network, that just aired on the UK’s Channel 4. The investigation outlines questionable practices on behalf of CPL Resources, a third-party content moderator firm based in Dublin, Ireland that Facebook has worked with since 2010.

    • From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered

      Weeks before taking office, Donald J. Trump learned of highly sensitive intelligence about Russian election interference, but he has done all he can to suggest other explanations for the hacks.

    • The View From Somewhere: The Press Needs To Be Anti-Partisan, Not Bi-Partisan

      For somewhere close to a decade we’ve talked about journalism professor Jay Rosen’s important concept of “the view from nowhere.” This is the “professional” stance that many media operations (mainly big time newspapers) take in reporting the news, in which they stupidly refuse to actually take a stand on truth and instead tend to report the news in a “he said/she said” fashion, never bothering to tell you which one is actually true. Indeed, we’ve long argued that if journalists want to actually be relevant, they need to have a point of view, and that point of view should be about what is true, not granting “equal weight” to both sides of a story that doesn’t deserve it. Taking the side of truth and pointing out lies for what they are is not bias, it’s real journalism.

      If you want a recent example of the moronic “view from nowhere,” which is so frequently practiced by the NY Times, entitled Trump Now Says He Accepts U.S. Intelligence Reports on Russian Election Meddling. There’s nothing factually incorrect there, but it’s… complete bullshit in terms of what is actually happening. Yes, Trump says that, but an accurate report would explain why that’s almost certainly a false statement from Trump given everything else he said about the situation during his press conference with Putin.

    • Report Shows U.S. Citizens Helped Coordinate Online Disinformation Assault From Macedonia

      You’ll recall that even back in 2014 a lot was being made about Putin’s troll factories, or the oodles of hired underlings paid by the Russian leader to fill the internet with bile and disinformation twenty-four hours a day. Much of what we originally learned about these disinformation shops came from Russian whistleblowers like Lyudmila Savchuk. Savchuk spent two months employed by the operation and was so disgusted that she quit, launched an anti-propaganda social activist campaign, and successfully sued the Russian government for one Ruble in a bid to expose the effort.

      Over the last few years we learned that these online propaganda efforts were much larger and sophisticated that originally believed. Reports as early as 2015 had already highlighted how these also extended well beyond just routine shitposting and clever memes and into the real world; like the time Russia went so far as to open a museum in Manhattan to try and spin its “annexation” of Crimea.

      Many tried to downplay the impact and scope of these efforts in the following years, insisting that no real damage could come from a bunch of marginally-competent Russians with broken english shitposting on the internet (a narrative that doesn’t quite gel with the DOJ indictment or the whistleblower accounts that have emerged since, showing the efforts were notably more nuanced and sophisticated than initial 2014 and 2015 reporting suggested).

    • Haitian ‘Mobs’ and ‘Mayhem’—or an Uprising?

      Those were the catchphrases in much of the US media coverage of the sometimes violent response to the government’s plans to remove subsidies for gas, kerosene and diesel in order to qualify for a $300 million loan from the International Monetary Fund earlier this month. (Seven people were allegedly killed, dozens of businesses were ransacked in the capital and other cities and the prime minister was forced to resign.)

      If those descriptions hearken back to the “rioting and looting” in Ferguson (BBC, 11/25/14), and the “thugs” in a “frenzied rampage” (Independent, 4/28/18) in a Baltimore “engulfed in flames” (CNN, 4/28/18), audiences should not be surprised. When people of color take to the streets, corporate media often veer toward certain framing and vocabulary, as Brave New Films pointed out in an excellent compilation video a few years back.


      Second, the rage was about much more than gas price hikes. Prices for local and foreign goods have risen by an average of almost 13 percent per year lately, according to the Haitian Institute of Statistics. As the local currency has lost value against the dollar—it’s dropped by 50 percent, just since the 2010 earthquake—the cost of everything has risen for those not earning dollars.

      Over half of Haiti’s food is imported, according to the World Food Program, meaning that staples like rice, beans, corn, chicken and vegetable oil have doubled in price since the earthquake. (A 2018 study from USAID noted that “Haitians experience food prices that are approximately 30–77 percent higher than in other countries” in the Latin American/Caribbean region.

    • Secret Service agent died on Trump trip abroad, body returning to US

      The body of a Secret Service agent who died in Scotland during President Donald Trump’s overseas trip was being returned to the United States on Wednesday.

      The agency says Special Agent Nole E. Remagen suffered a cerebrovascular accident on Monday during Trump’s trip to Belgium, the United Kingdom, Scotland and Finland.

      The 19-year veteran died in Scotland on Tuesday. He was surrounded by immediate family and Secret Service colleagues.

    • Action Alert: Tell NYT Not to Present Center-Right as ‘Left’

      The New York Times, despite its above-the-fray self-image, is one of most overtly ideological institutions on earth. Its primary editorial purpose—as laid out by its own opinion page editor earlier this year (James Bennett: “We are in favor of capitalism”—, 3/1/18)—is to defend the unimpeachable virtues of capitalism. As such, whoever the Times holds up as “the left”—in its sourcing and in its hiring practices (, 4/20/17)—has to first and foremost accept the primacy of the market and the broader virtue of a US-run global order that promotes this particular ideology.

      Even so, when Times reporter Jennifer Jett (7/17/18) wanted to recap reactions—“from the right and left”—to Donald Trump’s recent summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the choice of pundits she turned to to represent “the left” was exceedingly bizarre. Somehow Alina Polyakova, a conventional wisdom-echoing research director at the NATO-aligned and -funded think tank Atlantic Council, and Fred Kaplan, a champion of the Iraq War at Slate, were offered by Jett as “the left.”

      The third member of this three-person list was Atlantic staff writer James Fallows, the one person included whom you could argue was some species of leftist (though the Radical Middle Newsletter cites him as an example of a “great radical-centrist journalist”). While The Atlantic is generally a center-right publication, Fallows is at least a skeptic of US military power, but by no means a consistent anti-imperialist.

    • PM’s Dept wrote to CIA seeking US support before GE14, reports portal

      The Prime Minister’s Department wrote a letter to the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Gina Haspel seeking the country’s backing for Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s administration days before the May 9 general election, reported Malaysiakini.

    • Najib didn’t know about CIA letter, says report

      The former prime minister told Malaysiakini he was ‘surprised’ and ‘did not know of its existence’ because not all letters had to go through him.

    • Kit Siang: Najib must explain to Parliament about CIA letter
    • Apartheid government feared ‘massive upheavals’ if Mandela died in prison: CIA

      The apartheid government had fears that South Africa would erupt in “unrest” if former president Nelson Mandela died in prison.

      This revelation was contained in a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) document titled “Nelson Mandela: What if Alive and Well and Free in South Africa”. It – and scores of others – were released by Washington-based group Property of the People on Tuesday to mark what would have been the struggle stalwart’s 100th birthday.

      “South African officials have been considering Mandela’s release primarily because they fear that the death in prison of the ageing leader (who is 68) would trigger massive upheavals and would intensify international criticism‚” the document read.

      It was prepared in September 1986‚ almost four years before Mandela’s release. At the time‚ he had already been incarcerated for 24 years. According to the document‚ it was prepared by the CIA’s “Office of Leadership Analysis for the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on South Africa”.

    • Mandela’s release a ‘public relations bonanza’ — say released CIA documents

      The apartheid government had fears that SA would erupt in “unrest” if former president Nelson Mandela died in prison.

      This revelation was contained in a US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) document titled, Nelson Mandela: What if Alive and Well and Free in SA. It — and scores of others — were released by Washington-based group Property of the People on Tuesday to mark what would have been the struggle stalwart’s 100th birthday.

      “South African officials have been considering Mandela’s release primarily because they fear that the death in prison of the aging leader (who is 68) would trigger massive upheavals and would intensify international criticism‚” the document read.

    • Email Hacking Was ‘Pearl Harbor,’ Helsinki Presidency’s ‘New Low’: Welcome to the United States of Amnesia

      The media maelstrom around the Helsinki meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin obscures at least one point of view: that it’s possible to believe that Russia intervened in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump without thinking that this is remotely comparable to Pearl Harbor, as Politico (7/16/18) declared, or “the worst attack on America since 9/11,” as a Washington Post headline (2/18/18) claimed earlier this year.

      Not saying it doesn’t make it less true that both Russia and the United States frequently interfere in other countries’ elections—the US somewhat more frequently, according to a database of electoral interventions maintained by a political scientist at Carnegie Mellon. That’s a lot of Pearl Harbors.

      In 1996, Time magazine published a cover story (7/15/96) headlined “Yanks to the Rescue: The Secret Story of How American Advisers Helped Yeltsin Win.” Russian President Boris Yeltsin, you may recall, embraced the idea pushed by Western advisors that what the Russian economy needed was “shock therapy,” a policy that resulted in the country losing about a third of its GDP. Yeltsin also created the model for the authoritarian post-Soviet Russia we have today, notably when he called out the military to shell the Russian parliament—just one of many examples that make clear that the difference between US and Russian electoral interference is not that “we” intervene on the side of democracy.

    • On Russian meddling, Trump listens to KGB over CIA

      President Trump promised to surround himself with the best advisers. Apparently that includes a former KGB intelligence officer named Vladimir Putin.

      Trump just made it clear that he takes the word of Putin over that of his own intelligence community. Asked at a press conference with Putin whether he would condemn Russian meddling in the general election, a censure that would require admitting that meddling occurred, the president deferred to the KGB over the CIA.

      “Dan Coats came to me and some others; they said they think it’s Russia,” Trump said in a particularly shameful moment at a joint press conference after the Helsinki summit. “I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

    • The NSA Director Warned Staff Against Getting Into A “Tit For Tat” Over Trump’s Angry Tweetstorm
    • Chuck Schumer’s Actions on the National Stage Get Little Scrutiny From His Local Press

      In the recent flare-up over “civility,” the leading Democrat in the Senate attacked Rep. Maxine Waters’ call for public confrontation with Trump administration officials as “not American.” Many activists in Brooklyn, Chuck Schumer’s home, were upset by the McCarthyite smear. Yet while the right-wing New York Post praised his stance towards Waters (6/26/18), New York’s senior senator faced little criticism in the local press for it.

      For such a powerful figure, Schumer gets relatively scant scrutiny from New York City’s press corps, long considered the toughest in the United States. Instead, the tabloids dutifully cover the Senate minority leader’s Sunday news conference warnings about the latest consumer “outrage,” whether it be hurricane-damaged used cars flooding the market or sunscreen pills that surprisingly don’t work.

      In the heyday of the tabloid wars of the late 20th century, many NYC politicians feared the wrath of influential columnists like Jimmy Breslin, Jack Newfield and Pete Hamill. But today’s leading columnists seem willing to give Schumer a free pass.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Facebook says it will begin removing misinformation that leads to violence

      Hours after CEO Mark Zuckerberg spurred history by defending the rights of Holocaust deniers to post on Facebook, the company said it had begun removing misinformation that contributes to violence.

    • Cambodian Government Latest To Stifle Press With ‘Fake News’ Legislation

      This is only the latest move in the Cambodian government’s regulation of internet speech. Earlier initiatives created blockades for anything deemed to be a threat to national security and “specialized units” composed of Ministry personnel surfed social media platforms looking for things to prosecute citizens for.

      This also follows a couple of incidents seen as contributing to the government’s consolidation of power. The sale of the Phnom Pehn Post to a Malaysian businessman whose PR firm does work for the Cambodian prime minister suggested the government wanted to be in the news production business. Another independent press outlet was hit with a large fine and a short deadline, forcing it to close up shop.

    • Cambodia curbs free speech in the name of “fake news”

      The government of Cambodia recently announced a new directive aimed at combating “fake news” that will reportedly, among other restrictions, require all websites to register with Cambodia’s Ministry of Information or face additional scrutiny. The announcement follows a meeting between the prime minister of Vietnam and the prime minister of Cambodia, and comes just ahead of Cambodia’s general election later this month.

      This directive is a continuation of recent developments in combating “fake news” in Cambodia. Earlier in the year, the government also claimed the authority to block media which they deem a threat to national defense and security and deployed “specialized units” to monitor social media posts.

      This is part of a larger trend seen in the world currently, especially in Asia and across the Middle East and North Africa. Many governments — including Malaysia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and India — are regulating or attempting to regulate “fake news” (or, in some cases, pursuing broader efforts targeting cybercrime or cybersecurity), while actually putting in restrictions to freedom of expression online.

    • Letter: Oregonians do not need censorship

      I read The Daily Astorian, The Oregonian and, once weekly, the New Yorker. I have been extremely proud of the Fourth Estate during this troubled political time we seem mired in. The truth seemed to abide … until now.

      On Friday, July 13, a quarter million Brits — men, women and children, carrying homemade signs — gathered in Trafalgar Square to protest President Donald Trump. It was absolutely the biggest and most significant news story of the day. It was of special interest to me, because my husband and I had joined a peace rally in Trafalgar Square in 1966, demonstrating against the Vietnam War. We were looking forward to reading this particular story in The Oregonian and seeing the wonderful photos.

      On Saturday, July 14, there was nothing in the paper about the demonstration. I called The Oregonian complaint line, and it wasn’t working. No story in the Sunday edition, either. I felt the news was kept from us.

    • If You’re A Journalist Hiring Lawyers To Intimidate Publishers Into Killing Stories About Your Misdeeds, You’re A Hypocrite

      Over the years we’ve obviously written tons of stories about the rich and powerful hiring shameless lawyers who try to browbeat and intimidate news organizations (both large and small) out of publishing embarrassing stories. That’s one of the many reasons why we support strong anti-SLAPP laws across the country, as an essential protection for a free press. Media companies and journalists tend to be some of the biggest supporters of free speech and anti-SLAPP laws as well for this exact reason. But what happens when rich and successful journalists are suddenly the subject of unflattering stories as well? Apparently, they throw out their principled support of free speech and hire a sketchy law firm that celebrates its history of “killing stories.”

    • Netanyahu nixes controversial ‘Facebook Law’ allowing censorship of social media

      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surprised Israeli lawmakers on Wednesday when he blocked a vote on a bill that would grant the government far-reaching power to remove or block content from social media sites.

      The so-called Facebook Law would delete the content for reasons that include incitement to terrorism without criminal proceeding and without any admissible evidence. Along with Facebook, among the social media outlets that would be covered by the legislation are Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram, YouTube and reddit.

    • Unwitting Israeli MKs almost pass law allowing sweeping internet censorship
    • Republicans accused Facebook, Google and Twitter of bias. Democrats called the hearing ‘dumb.’
    • Antitrust Murmurs Underscore Facebook Hearing On Political Censorship
    • House Republicans float online conspiracy theories in hearing about social media ‘censorship’
    • Facebook taking heat over its approach to Infowars; here’s what you need to know
    • Facebook ‘moderators’ sworn to secrecy over censorship orders
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • California Can Pioneer Local Community Oversight of Police Surveillance

      The particular tools built by Harris Corp. are cell-site simulators, sometimes described as a “Stingray” (after the trade name of an early version). They monitor cell phone networks by mimicking a cell tower and gaining transmissions from cell phones near it, thereby exposing the phones’ locations and unique identifiers (such as an IMSI number), and enabling capture of metadata and unencrypted voice and text content.

    • How to hear (and delete) every conversation your Google Home has recorded
    • Tor is for everyone

      Some months ago, Nos Oignons was contacted by a journalist who wanted to “explain to our audience how we go into the deep web (through Tor) and why they might be interested in going there, without talking about “dark” sites like ones selling weapons”. But after some exchanges, the topic seems hard to sell to the editors: “At this stage, we frankly don’t have enough arguments, to the point that I doubt the article will even be published”. To the best of our knowledge, the article has indeed never been released.

      In our view, this lack of “arguments” stems from a fundamental misunderstanding: using Tor or (.onion sites) is no different from using the web or Internet in general. If Internet is meant for everyone, so is Tor.

      On the Internet, we read the press. But the experience is different from reading the press on paper. Someone grabing the latest edition of a daily newspaper in a coffee shop does not inform the publishers that their audience went up. They don’t tell them that they are in a coffee shop, or the name of the place, or which pages they read, or how long they spent on each article…

      But if the same person goes on the website of the same newspaper, the publishers will at the very least learn which Internet connection has been used, which pages have been read and for how long. And this information will not only be available to the newspaper: their ad broker will learn as much, as will Google which provides the character fonts, Facebook with the “Like” button, Twitter with theirs, and these are just the most common examples.

    • Between You, Me, and Google: Problems With Gmail’s “Confidential Mode”

      With Gmail’s new design rolled out to more and more users, many have had a chance to try out its new “Confidential Mode.” While many of its features sound promising, what “Confidential Mode” provides isn’t confidentiality. At best, the new mode might create expectations that it fails to meet around security and privacy in Gmail. We fear that Confidential Mode will make it less likely for users to find and use other, more secure communication alternatives. And at worst, Confidential Mode will push users further into Google’s own walled garden while giving them what we believe are misleading assurances of privacy and security.

      With its new Confidential Mode, Google purports to allow you to restrict how the emails you send can be viewed and shared: the recipient of your Confidential Mode email will not be able to forward or print it. You can also set an “expiration date” at which time the email will be deleted from your recipient’s inbox, and even require a text message code as an added layer of security before the email can be viewed.

      Unfortunately, each of these “security” features comes with serious security problems for users.

    • Ireland’s lawmakers are debating whether consent can be inferred under the GDPR

      Ireland’s lawmakers are debating a new bill titled the Data Sharing and Governance Bill 2018 that seeks to “provide a generalised legal basis for the sharing of data between public bodies” and establish “base registries” that will facilitate said sharing of data.

      During a debate on 26th June 2018, Patrick O’Donovan, the Minister of State for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment, seemingly determined public bodies can infer consent if an individual has previously sought a service from the state.

    • Irish Lawmakers Realizing The GDPR’s Consent Requirements Seem A Bit Onerous, Want To ‘Infer’ Consent

      Now, personally, I agree that this seems like a perfectly reasonable standard for inferring consent under most reasonable conditions. But the problem is that the GDPR generally does not view things that way. This is yet another example of where people who view privacy through a singular lens of “don’t do anything at all with my data,” often fail to realize how extreme that position is, and how it limits perfectly normal functions.

    • Thousands of US voters’ data exposed by robocall firm

      A Virginia-based political campaign and robocalling company, which claims it can “reach thousands of voters instantly,” left a huge batch of files containing hundreds of thousands of voter records on a public and exposed Amazon S3 bucket that anyone could access without a password.

      The bucket contained close to 2,600 files, including spreadsheets and audio recordings, for several US political campaigns.

      Kromtech Security’s Bob Diachenko, who discovered the exposed data and blogged his findings, shared prior to publication several screenshots of data, packed with voters’ full names, home addresses, and political affiliations.

    • Another Day, Another Pile Of Voter Data Left Laying Around On A Public Server

      Leaving private voter or customer data easily accessible on a public-facing server is the hot new fashion trend. You’ll recall that it’s a problem that has plagued the Defense Department, GOP data firm Deep Root Analytics (198 million voter records exposed), Verizon’s marketing partners (6 million users impacted), Time Warner Cable (4 million users impacted), and countless other companies or partners that failed to implement even basic security practices. And it’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing down despite repeated, similar stories (much of it thanks to analysis by security researcher Chris Vickery).

      This week yet another pile of private voter data was left publicly accessible for anybody to peruse. According to analysis by Kromtech Security’s Bob Dianchenko, a Virginia-based political consulting and robocalling company by the name of Robocent publicly exposed 2,600 files, including voter file spreadsheets (including voter phone numbers, names, addresses, political affiliations, gender, voting districts and more) and audio recordings for a number of political campaigns.

    • I’m living a cash-only life in a tap-and-go world

      With tap and go, my credit card was hitting the ceiling with increasingly regularity (no matter, my bank would always generously offer to extend my limit). The technology – and laziness (who can be bothered pulling out the correct change?) – made it even easier to mindlessly spend.

    • Former DTA head says My Health Record may end up a tech wreck

      The My Health Record system may well end up as one of the many Australian Government tech wrecks, the former head of the country’s Digital Transformation Agency, Paul Shetler, says, adding that if he were Australian he would probably opt out himself.

    • Big News: Big Internet Platforms Making It Easy To Move Your Data Somewhere Else [Ed: Pentagon-connected surveillance giants to let you duplicate your data among themselves ('move')]

      So, just last week we had a post by Kevin Bankston from the Open Technology Institute arguing for some basic steps towards much greater data portability on social media. The idea was that the internet platforms had to make it much easier to not just download your data (which most of them already do), but to make it useful elsewhere. Bankston’s specific proposal included setting clear technical standards and solving the graph portability project. In talking about standards, Bankston referenced Google’s data transfer project, but that project has taken a big step forward today announcing a plan to let users transfer data automatically between platforms.

      The “headline” that most folks are focusing on is that Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter are all involved in the project (along with a few smaller companies), meaning that it should lead to a situation where you could easily transfer data between them. As it stands right now, the various services let you download your data, but getting it into another platform is still a hassle, making the whole “download your data” thing not all that useful beyond “oh, look at everything this company has about me.” Making a system where you can easily transfer all that data to another platform without having to manage the transition yourself or being left with a bunch of useless data is a big step forward — and a huge step towards giving users much more significant control over their data.

    • Introducing Data Transfer Project: an open source platform promoting universal data portability

      In 2007, a small group of engineers in our Chicago office formed the Data Liberation Front, a team that believed consumers should have better tools to put their data where they want, when they want, and even move it to a different service. This idea, called “data portability,” gives people greater control of their information, and pushes us to develop great products because we know they can pack up and leave at any time.

    • Google/Microsoft/Twitter/Facebook Announce The Open-Source Data Transfer Project

      Google in cooperation with Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook have announced the open-source Data Transfer Project to promote universal data portability.

      The multi-vendor Data Transfer Project initiative is to enable consumers to transfer data directly from one server to another, without the need for downloading/uploading of the content.

    • Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter partner for ambitious new data project [Ed: misusing terms like “open”, “free” and “choice”]
    • Working Together to Give People More Control of Their Data
    • Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter launch open-source initiative to free users’ data
    • Tech Heavyweights Create Open Source Project to Transfer Data
    • Open source project allows data transfer among Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • 10 Questions for Brett Kavanaugh

      With his selection of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the United States Supreme Court, President Donald Trump has the opportunity to alter the makeup of the Court for generations — and to place it far to the right of the American public. Justice Kennedy, himself a conservative appointed by President Ronald Reagan, proved to have an open mind in his more than 30 years on the bench and, as a result, kept the court within the mainstream of American society.


      Even if Kavanaugh would not have voted the way Kennedy did on any of these cases, some of these precedents might survive on grounds of stare decisis, the principle requiring the court to adhere, generally, to its past decisions. But the key word here is “generally.” Courts can and do overrule precedent. The Supreme Court did just that this past term, for example, in overruling a 40-year-old decision allowing public sector unions to charge fees to cover the costs of services they are required to provide to all employees. So, while it’s unlikely that all of the cases in which Kennedy cast a decisive vote in a liberal direction will be overturned, any number of them could be. And the court can substantially weaken a right without formally overruling it, as indeed it already has done with the right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade.

      In light of that fact, and that Trump expressly vowed as a candidate to appoint justices who would overrule Roe v. Wade, it is incumbent upon the Senate to pose probing questions to Kavanaugh — and to require him to provide meaningful answers, not artful dodges. Nominees all too often avoid answering questions about their views by simply describing existing Supreme Court doctrine and then insisting they cannot say how they would vote on any particular matter that might come before them. But in speeches and writings while a judge, Kavanaugh has repeatedly expressed his own views on many matters that might come before him, including whether presidents should be subject to civil and criminal lawsuits. If he could express his views there, he should not be permitted to avoid expressing them on other topics in the Senate confirmation hearing.

      Here, then, are 10 questions I suggest the senators ask Kavanaugh. These questions avoid asking about any specific case and seek the nominee’s own views, not a description of Supreme Court law. Senators will have to be insistent about getting responses, however, if the hearings are to have any value.

    • ‘We Point to the Need to Decriminalize Migration’

      Images of weeping toddlers torn from their stunned mothers’ arms, of children in cages—or what some insist you call “chain link-fenced holding areas”—and of three-year-olds representing themselves in deportation or asylum proceedings: These have outraged and galvanized many Americans in protest of the Trump administration’s racist, cruel, anti-immigration and anti-immigrant policies.

      Outrage is justified, but if we intend to translate it to substantive change, we’re going to need to build out from this immediate, visible crisis, to connect it to all of the other factors and actors that make today’s headlines possible. So what now for those who recognize family separation of immigrants to the US as no outlier, but part of a broader social agenda that goes well beyond the US/Mexico border?

    • Federal Immigration Authorities Are Running Amok Across Maine and Its Coastline

      Because Maine falls within 100 miles of a land and sea border, CBP claims it can stop people at will.

      Customs and Border Protection is making news again for its aggressive immigration enforcement — this time, questioning Canadian fishing vessels in disputed international waters.

      According to a CBP spokesperson, the agency has questioned 21 Canadian vessels since October 2017, plus an unknown number of American vessels (mostly Maine fishermen) in the same area. Although CBP claims that these operations fall within its immigration enforcement authority, nobody should be surprised to learn that targeting these fishing boats has yielded no immigration arrests.

      This naturally provokes a question: So why is CBP invading people’s privacy and wasting its own time and resources, given the (unsurprising) absence of any immigration activity in this active fishing area? The unsatisfying answer is that we don’t know because CBP is a secretive and opaque agency that refuses to comply with federal disclosure laws even when asked. That’s why we have sued CBP to produce records about its immigration enforcement in Maine.

      What we do know is that CBP is the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, with money and resources to burn. So we should all be concerned when CBP claims virtually untrammeled authority to stop and question people within 100 miles of a land or sea border. This so-called 100-mile zone includes all of Maine, most of New England, and about two-thirds of the entire U. S. population. Within this zone, CBP claims it can stop any car, boat, plane, or train without a warrant, probable cause, or reasonable suspicion, the usual requirements under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    • Miami Cops Forced To Give $20,000 Back To Person They Stole It From After Screwing Up Their Supposed Drug Bust

      This story of the spectacularly swift rise and fall of a profitable drugs-and-guns bust comes to us via C.J. Ciarmella at Reason, who has his own particularly sumptuous line summing up the debacle.


      The judge saw enough compelling evidence to block the illegal seizure. Another stripper testified on Batista’s behalf and the body cam footage apparently did the rest. In less than sixty days, this drug bust has gone from a local triumph (as seen exclusively on CBS Miami!) to the city being $3,000 poorer than it was prior to this officer deciding he could turn a traffic stop into headlines and a cash payout.

    • How Judge Came To Aid Of Prosecutors When A Billboard For NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner Went Up

      When a loosely knit group, the Whistleblower Support Network, put up a billboard in Augusta, Georgia, for NSA whistleblower Reality Winner, it did not take long for a federal judge hearing the case to scold defense attorneys.

      However, Winner’s defense had absolutely nothing to do with the billboard, which went up on June 6, before Winner accepted a plea agreement from the United States government. It was put up by activists, who did not coordinate at all with her attorneys.

      Chief Judge James Randal Hall’s reaction was another example of how the court has often been against Winner’s defense, including multiple decisions against bail. It also may have confirmed that the plea agreement was the least worst outcome for Winner when considering the risks of going to trial.

      Winner pled guilty to one count of violating the Espionage Act when she disclosed an NSA report that claimed Russian hackers targeted United States voter registration systems in the 2016 election. She will likely be sentenced to 63 months in federal prison in August or September.

    • Andrew Pulrang on Disability and the Election

      This week on CounterSpin: More than a quarter of the electorate—some 63 million eligible voters—either have a disability or have a household member with one, according to researchers at Rutgers University. Add to that the fact that the poverty rate for working-age people with disabilities is nearly two and a half times higher than that for people without disabilities, and then set that—as did Robyn Powell at Rewire—alongside the exorbitant costs of campaigning for public office: The average winning House candidate spent $1.3 million in 2016; for the Senate, that number’s $10.4 million. Now you’re getting close to an understanding of why people with disabilities are so “severely underrepresented in elected office,” which itself goes a way toward explaining why—in 2018—disabled people’s full inclusion in all aspects of social life is still largely framed as a matter of “accommodation” rather than rights.

    • Another Needless Death in the Absurd War on Marijuana

      Fifty-one-year-old Gregory Longenecker of Reading, Pennsylvania, should be alive today. Instead, he’s the latest casualty in the state’s war on weed because of a police pursuit gone horribly wrong.

      Around 10 a.m. on July 9, a Pennsylvania Game Commission employee, clearing brush with a bulldozer, spotted a suspicious car parked off the road within the state’s game lands in Berks County. Upon closer inspection, the employee discovered a small marijuana grow. The employee then contacted the local police who arrived on the scene as two men, David Light and Longenecker, emerged from the underbrush. Both took off on foot, according to police, and Light was quickly taken into custody.

      Longenecker, however, got away, but not for long.

      Around 11 a.m., state police and Game Commission personnel and resources, including the bulldozer and a state police helicopter, began their search for Longenecker. The helicopter spotted the 51-year-old in thick underbrush but lost him. The helicopter pilot quickly gave directions of Longenecker’s whereabouts to a state trooper and a Game Commission employee who were patrolling the area on the bulldozer.


      After all, a very limited medical marijuana law is working in Pennsylvania for a small pool of qualified patients.

    • We Shouldn’t Take the Bait on ‘Catch and Release’

      On April 6, 2018, President Trump issued an official memorandum with the following subject line: Ending “Catch and Release” at the Border of the United States and Directing Other Enhancements to Immigration Enforcement.

      If the subject didn’t have the word immigration in the second clause, it might have seemed as if the president was talking about fish. “Catch and release” is a recreational sports fishing term referring to the conservation practice of catching a fish and returning it to the water.

      But people are not fish, and using a phrase, even one with the valence of a humane practice, serves to dehumanize the human beings being led away in handcuffs. The phrase actually describes allowing people who are seeking asylum to wait for their hearing in the community, rather than in custody. They are not freed, but tethered, always by law, often by more: Sometimes the asylum-seeker must wear an ankle monitor. Sometimes she must pay a bond. Sometimes the tether is administrative: checking in regularly with immigration officials.

      It’s a lot easier to just say “catch and release,” but it’s inaccurate because it obscures all of those important points.

    • Calls to Abolish ICE Get Cold Shoulder on Newspaper Opinion Pages

      “Abolish ICE,” once a rallying cry for a small number of leftists and activists, has become a national slogan of dissent against the Trump administration and policies that target Latino communities. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in cities across the US to call for an end to family separation, detention and deportation.

      Despite this, corporate media decided to push the status quo—or at least a version of it without Trump as commander-in-chief. Of the 90 opinion pieces on the subject of ICE that were published in papers across the US from June 28 to July 18, 85 were explicitly against abolishing ICE, while only five were supportive.

      Five of the ten top newspapers by circulation, including the Washington Post (7/5/18), USA Today (7/3/18), Newsday (7/10/18), New York Post (7/4/18) and New York Daily News (7/6/18), published editorials that rushed to defend ICE and condemn a progressive stance. No Democrats have called for open borders, which would allow citizens and noncitizens alike to cross into or out of the US with few restrictions; at their most radical, they have called for rebuilding the US immigration system to be more humane. Even so, editorial boards urged Democrats to stick to a moderate work-within-the-system approach. ICE, which was created in 2003 in response to the September 11 attacks, was repeatedly hailed as a necessary agency that is unfortunately being manipulated by Trump for his own agenda.

    • Cop Costs Taxpayers $60,000 And One (1) Drug Bust After Lying About Almost Everything Related To The Traffic Stop

      No charges and a cash settlement. That’s the way things break when officers lie. And lie Bates did. Several times

      First, he trapped himself in a lie during cross examination. While seeking to obtain consent to search Grijalva’s car, Bates used his phone to contact a translator to help bridge the language gap. Pushed for details on this mysterious translator — one that had changed sexes during the course of his testimony — Bates finally settled on calling the translator “she.” Then he admitted it wasn’t a department translator, but rather someone named Lilia… who just happened to be Bates’ wife.

    • Wondering How Suburban Express Is Doing In Lawsuit Brought By Illinois Attorney General? Really Fucking Bad!

      Okay, fine, so the equation wasn’t all that succinct. Still, the answer to why Madigan sued is essentially because Surburban Express likely violated all kinds of laws in doing the above. Madigan’s suit alleged a dizzying array of violations of civil rights and consumer protection laws, as well as Illinois law on civil rights. Toeppen stands accused of harassment of customers for leaving the company negative reviews, arbitrary refusal of service based on not liking customers for a variety of reasons including racial reasons, and having internal and external communications, such as the advertisement that ridicules Asians and Jews, because every bigot entree basically just comes with a Jewish piece of parsley. In all, Madigan included 182 pages of exhibits backing up her accusations.

      So, how’s it going?

      Well, pretty fucking bad for Toeppen and Suburban Express, it turns out. Ken White lays out a summary of what’s occurred with the suit thus far.

    • Download the Gang Databases We Got From Illinois State Police, Cook County Sheriff’s Office and Chicago Police Department

      I’m Celeste LeCompte, and today I work on the business team at ProPublica in New York. But nearly 25 years ago, I was a tweenager living in Monticello, in central Illinois. My hometown had recently started offering curbside recycling pickup, and I wanted to know: Where did it end up?

      So, I called City Hall. And then I called the companies who the city told me had the contracts, and I called the companies those companies told me they worked with. Eventually, I lost the trail in the Carolinas. But more important than answering that question was the fact that I could even ask it. I — a 12-year-old, with no more reason than my curiosity! — could ask my local government officials a question, and they had to tell me how things worked in my community.

      It was one of my first experiences with public information requests — and it was an important, empowering experience for me. (My colleague Sandhya Kambhampati recently wrote a guide on how you can get answers to your questions from public agencies, too!)

      Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s not always so easy to get the data you want from public agencies. My ProPublica colleagues aren’t easily deterred when they want to get public records, especially when the data they want has important implications for child welfare, economic inequality or civil rights.


      That’s why we work to make the data that we get from public agencies available. The ProPublica Data Store — where nearly all of the data can be downloaded for free — includes more than 75 data sets, including five from the ProPublica Illinois team, and we’ll be adding more in the weeks and months ahead.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • India Embraces Full Net Neutrality As The U.S. Runs The Opposite Direction

      While the United States walks away from the concept of net neutrality, India just passed some of the toughest net neutrality rules in the world. You’ll recall that net neutrality became a hot topic over in India when Facebook tried to roll out a walled-garden service known as “Free Basics.” Free Basics provided users free, “zero rated” (usage cap exempt) access to a limited selection of curated content and services chosen by Facebook, something Facebook claimed would immeasurably benefit the nation’s poor farmers.

      In reality, many pointed out that Facebook’s breathless concern for the poor really just masked the company’s attempt to corner the ad markets in developing nations. Content providers didn’t like Facebook being the one to dictate which services would or wouldn’t be included for obvious reasons. Others (like Mozilla) noted that if Facebook was truly interested in connecting developing nations with broadband, it could, you know, actually do that. Others still weren’t keen on another white, Western billionaire proclaiming that only he had the magical solution to the nation’s problems.

      Facebook’s response to these concerns wasn’t what you’d call impressive, with Zuckerberg insisting those opposed to his plans were simply hurting the poor. That behavior in turn only galvanized activist support for tougher net neutrality rules in the country, the foundations for which were laid last year. There too Facebook engaged in some shady behavior, at one point trying to trick Indian citizens into supporting its plans and opposing meaningful net neutrality protections.

    • Wireless Carriers Have A SIM Hijacking Problem They Don’t Want To Talk About

      Wireless carriers are coming under increasing fire for failing to protect their users from the practice of SIM hijacking. The practice involves posing as a wireless customer, then fooling a wireless carrier to port the victim’s cell phone number right out from underneath them, letting the attacker then pose as the customer to potentially devastating effect. Back in February, a man sued T-Mobile for failing to protect his account after a hacker pretending to be him, ported out his phone number, then managed to use his identity to steal thousands of dollars worth of cryptocoins.

      It didn’t take long for numerous customers to complain they were the victim of the same scam, and for T-Mobile to send out a warning to users encouring them to add a few layers of additional security to their account.

      But the problem appears to be even worse than originally believed. A new report takes a closer look at the problem, exploring how identity thieves use SIM hijacking to do everything from cleaning out bank accounts, to stealing valuable Instagram usernames and selling them for Bitcoin. The process isn’t particularly complicated, and more often than not involves the social engineering of a cellular carrier’s support employees. The entire process tap dances around protections like two-factor authentication, and highlights the peril of relying too heavily on a single cell phone number for identity verification in apps and other services.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • The Trade Secret-Contract Interface

      Prior scholarship probed whether trade secret law is justified separate and apart from contract law. Contract law operates on the notion that parties who enter into an enforceable agreement with one another can sue a counter-party who breaches and obtain damages in an amount that approximates the benefit of the bargain. In contrast, the owner of a “trade secret”—information that is not generally known and has been the subject of reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy—can sue another who misappropriates the trade secret, regardless of whether they are in a contractual relationship. The trade secret owner can obtain an injunction to protect the sanctity of the secret, not just money damages.

      In his 1998 article, A New Look at Trade Secret Law: Doctrine in Search of Justification, Robert Bone argued that trade secret law lacks a theoretical justification distinct from other legal theories, in particular contract law. When trade secret law reaches beyond contractual liability, Bone wrote, trade secret law subsists in a “normative vacuum that continues to remain unfilled.” Within that vacuum, judges “view trade secret law as a relatively open-ended delegation of authority to police the morality of commercial relationships.” (Bone, 245).


      To conclude, and as can clearly be seen from the length of this post, Varadarajan’s article is a tremendously enlightening read and a fantastic beginning. It does a lot of the leg work towards deepening understanding of an evolving area of law: the trade secret-contract interface.

    • China and South Korea will displace the West as the world’s innovation leaders by 2029 [Ed: IAM is again conflating patents with innovation, yielding pro-patent propaganda by bashing the West]

      Jointly produced by the Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI) and PatSnap, the Innovation Arms Race 2018 report analyses a number of innovation indicators – such as patent effectiveness, patent efficiency and patent grants per capita – to determine which countries are the current, and will be the future, global innovation leaders. Among several important revelations, it finds that the US, EU and UK are clearly trailing behind as countries from Asia outperform those in the West.

    • Despite Samsung settlement management of former BlackBerry patents changes hands

      Earlier this week a judge in the Eastern District of Texas officially dismissed the lawsuit between Samsung and Fundamental Innovation Systems International (FISI) after the pair settled their dispute. FISI had accused the tech giant of infringing 10 patents in a lawsuit filed early last year and the settlement leaves it with ongoing suits against just ZTE, Huawei and LG. FISI is the entity backed by the private equity fund Centerbridge Partners which acquired a portfolio of around 200 patents (including more than 50 US assets) from Blackberry in 2015 in a deal…

    • Trademarks
      • Texas A&M convinced the feds to stop a soap company from getting a ‘12th Man’ trademark

        If Texas A&M can play actual defense as well as it can play trademark defense, Jimbo Fisher’s record 10-year, $75 million contract might yet work out.

        Last week, Texas A&M won a trademark case against a soap business based in Washington state. The Washington Soap Company applied for a trademark on the term “12th Man Hands” for a “handmade loofah soap bar or puck,” which is more or less what it sounds like.

      • Texas A&M Wins Trademark Suit Against Soap Company In Washington State By Playing Six Degrees Of Trademark Licensing

        Readers here will likely be aware of the tortured history of Texas A&M’s “12th Man” trademark. If you’re not, the term describes the fans of the team and their tendency to make so much noise to effect on-field play during games. A&M, which holds a trademark for the term, has made a name for itself as a trademark bully, going around and threatening basically anyone that uses anything remotely like that term, even as it has in the past infringed on the IP of others. The school has been so successful in locking down this term for use in anything sports related that the Seattle Seahawks, the NFL team that also refers to its fans as its “12th Man”, pay a licensing fee to the school to do so.

        And now that licensing arrangement appears to be part of the reasoning A&M’s legal team used to sue a soap company based in Washington State for using the “12th Man” term as well. In the school’s filing, embedded below, it argues that because the soap company resides in the same state as the Seahawks, and because the company’s soap product “12th Man Hands” includes an image of a football on the packaging, this makes it an infringement on its trademark, despite soap and athletics not being in related marketplaces. The USPTO somehow actually bought this six-degrees-of-licensing-separation argument.

      • Does ‘Glen’ make you think of Scottish whisky? CJEU leaves answer to the local court

        As previously reported on this blog, the CJEU had to decide on a case of interest to Whisky- and IP-connoisseurs alike.

        The Scotch Whisky Association from Scotland (TSWA) took offence at the name of a Whisky that is produced by the Waldhorn distillery in Berglen, situated in the Buchenbach valley in Swabia (Baden-Württemberg, Germany). The Whisky in question is called ‘Glen Buchenbach’.

        TSWA claimed that use of the term ‘Glen’ infringes the registered geographical indication ‘Scotch Whisky’ and asserted a breach of Art. 16 (a) – (c) of the Regulation No 110/2008 on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks.

      • The vexing issue of partial trademark oppositions: the view from Singapore

        “Can the registration of a trade mark be opposed for only some of the goods or services within the same class? The issue of whether the Singapore Trade Marks Act (the “Act”) permits such partial opposition was recently considered by the Intellectual property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”) in Tencent Holdings Limited v Monster Energy Company 2018 [SGIPOS] 9. While not strictly required for the disposal of the opposition, the Registrar considered the parties’ submissions and opined that partial oppositions are not permitted under Sections 8(2) and 8(4) of the Act.

    • Copyrights
      • Appeals Court Tells Lower Court To Consider If Standards ‘Incorporated Into Law’ Are Fair Use; Could Have Done More

        Carl Malamud published the law on his website. And for that he got sued. The problem was, in posting the Code of Federal Regulations he also included the various enforceable standards included as part of those Regulations. This displeased the organizations which had developed those standards (SDOs) and who claimed a copyright in them. So they sued Public Resource for infringement, and in a terrible decision last year Public Resource lost. Public Resource then appealed, and this week Malamud’s organization won a reversal of the district court decision.

        The decision by the D.C. Circuit in American Society for Testing and Materials v. stands as a win for those who would choose to republish the law, even when their doing so may involve republishing standards created by non-governmental SDOs that were then incorporated by reference into controlling law. Although one can never presume to read the tea leaves at oral argument, it did seem as though the court was extremely uncomfortable with the idea that someone could be punished for having published the law. But the particular way the court addressed the copyright and trademark claims brought against Public Resource for it having done so is still worth further discussion. Disclosure: I helped file an amicus brief on behalf of members of Congress supporting Public Resource’s defense, and amicus briefs on behalf of law professors at the district court.

      • Arnold J extends Premier League’s live blocking order

        Last year the High Court of England and Wales (Arnold J) in FAPL v BT [2017] EWHC 480 Ch concluded that it had jurisdiction under section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act to order to block access to streaming services (rather than the more tradition case of websites) giving unauthorised access to protected content. In particular, unlawful streams services providing access to live Premier League football matches could be temporarily blocked by means of a so-called ‘live blocking order’ until the end of the 2016/17 season.

      • CC Certificates courses, OER, and multiple ways to get involved!

        On July 16, the first four Creative Commons Certificate courses began. Two cohorts of 25 librarians and two cohorts of 25 educators joined us from Bangladesh, Canada, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, and the US. Immediately apparent in this group is the diverse experience, impressive expertise, and personal interest participants bring to the courses. Participants have already begun working on assignments and volunteering openly licensed resources they’ve created. We are compiling a list of the participant-shared Open Educational Resources (OER) which we will share at the end of the courses.

      • New Zealand Court of Appeal rules on the extradition of Kim Dotcom (Megaupload)

        Most copyright practitioners in New Zealand, including this one, had interpreted ‘object’ in s.131 (and elsewhere) in line with the Oxford English Dictionary meaning – ‘a material thing that can be seen and touched’. However, the new meaning given to it by the Court of Appeal in their decision will now ‘digitise’ a number of provisions in the 1994 Act which employ the word ‘object’. By interpreting the text in this way, the Court of Appeal may have updated the law for the government which is currently reviewing the NZ Copyright Act, reducing the extent of the reform required.”

        Subsequent to the Court of Appeal issuing its judgment, Kim Dotcom’s legal team has announced that an appeal will be lodged with the Supreme Court.

      • HS: Bar Association reprimands lawyer who sent so-called copyright letters

        The Finnish Bar Association’s supervisory board issued the reprimand after determining that Hatanmaa and Hedman Partners violated sections of the copyright act by filing petitions with the court to compel internet service providers to disclose the personal details of [I]nternet users suspected of copyright infringements.

Some US Patents’ Quality is So Low That There’s a Garden Clearance/Fire Sale

Thursday 19th of July 2018 05:35:44 PM

Allied Security Trust (AST) is trying to offload many of them, the deadline being tomorrow

Summary: Rather than shoot worthless patents into orbit where they belong the Allied Security Trust (AST), collector of dubious patents [1, 2], will try to sell them to gullible opportunists and patent trolls (even if the said patents would likely perish in courts)

THE USPTO spent decades granting a lot of poor-quality patents (like those the EPO nowadays grants, due to Battistelli’s policies). Many of these patents will never be tested in courts (the vast majority will have expired without any court action), so it will be hard to tell just what proportion of these patents is bunk. There are no reliable estimates of that.

“Many of these patents will never be tested in courts (the vast majority will have expired without any court action), so it will be hard to tell just what proportion of these patents is bunk.”Many companies sell their patents in bulk, usually to patent trolls. Some get sold because the patents are about to expire, whereas others are sold due to a company’s bankruptcy. The term “fire sale” comes to mind. As Wikipedia defines it: “A fire sale is the sale of goods at extremely discounted prices, typically when the seller faces bankruptcy. The term originated in reference to the sale of goods at a heavy discount due to fire damage. A fire sale may or may not be a closeout, the final sale of goods to zero inventory. Fire sales are said to occur in the financial markets when bidders who value assets highly are prevented from bidding on them, depressing the average selling price below what it otherwise would be. This lowering of the price can cause even further issues because it may be inaccurately perceived as signaling negative information.”

“Many companies sell their patents in bulk, usually to patent trolls.”The abundance of US patents isn’t something to necessarily be celebrated; what really matters is how strict or lenient patent examination is; when it comes to patents, journalism or ‘articles’ these days are just a ‘shopping list’ of patents, e.g. this from RichmondBizSense: “Local patents for 7.18.18″ (yesterday)

Or this one from patent propaganda sites like “Dallas Innovates”/“Dallas Invents” series: “Dallas Invents: 97 Patents Granted for Week of July 10″ (this is the latest of many)

“Worthless patents are currently being sold by a parasitic entity, AST, using buzzwords like “Artificial Intelligence” and “Internet of Things” (typically software patents).”It’s nothing but a copy-paste job; they make no effort to assess or explain these patents.

Worthless patents are currently being sold by a parasitic entity, AST, using buzzwords like “Artificial Intelligence” and “Internet of Things” (typically software patents). Bring in the garbage trucks. They’ve just advertised these [1, 2] as follows:

Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality
Automotive / Transportation Services
Internet of Things / Connected Devices
Smart Home
Software / Web Services

The deadline is tomorrow. How many patent trolls will pick up patents in there? How many can be voided by Section 101?

Watchtroll’s guest writer, Alex Poltorak, wrote on July 12th about US patent number 10 million, which is likely bunk/bogus as per Section 101. To quote:

Last month, the U.S. Patent Office issued patent number 10,000,000. This historic occasion calls for rethinking our patent system and the future of American innovation.

In the past, such an event would have been a cause for celebration, a testimony to our ingenuity. Back then, patents were valuable assets, protecting and incentivizing innovation. A valid patent gave its owner the right to stop infringers in their tracks. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.

Yes, not because of “bad courts” but because of bad patents — patents that should never have been granted, right? That silly celebration of 10 million patents could also be seen in Sioux Falls Argus Leader two days ago, courtesy of “Jeffrey Proehl [who] is a registered patent attorney with Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith P.C. in Sioux Falls.” Obviously he’s just marketing himself. It’s not really journalism, it’s PR.

“How many patent trolls will pick up patents in there? How many can be voided by Section 101?”Thankfully, software patents and other abstract patents have lost their ‘teeth; it’s like they are zombies or just “dead” (the term used by patent maximalists) because the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) belatedly applies the law through inter partes reviews (IPRs). Here’s a new example of it, just published by Law 360:

PTAB Nixes 2 Customer Service Software Patents

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has struck down two patents covering customer service software, finding that a California-based company’s patents are invalid as obvious.

In two final written decisions issued Monday, the PTAB ruled that tech company LivePerson Inc. had shown that 17 claims across two patents owned by rival [24] Inc., formerly known as 24/7 Customer Inc., are both rendered obvious by a combination of earlier inventions.

Might this be a cautionary tale for those who still pursue software patents because the patent maximalists ‘pull a Berkheimer‘ or speak of the fictitious “Berkheimer Effect”? As we’ve shown here many times before, Berkheimer has not had a profound effect. Iancu the Trump appointee attempted to use it to weaken PTAB, but virtually nothing has changed. Denver Business Journal has just reported that he spoke in Denver, but other than that he has been keeping a really low profile lately. Ellie Mertens, a writer for the patent maximalists’ media, says that Berkheimer did have an effect, but her article is behind a paywall, so we’re unable to see what source or data she’s citing. The summary says:

New data reveals that findings of invalidity and the success of 101-based motions to dismiss have dropped since Berkheimer, the most important subject matter eligibility case of 2018

It’s only “the most important” in the eyes of patent maximalists who attempted to exploit it for their personal agenda (as did Iancu). Unless we actually see some hard data to support the above hypothesis, we’ll just continue to assume that Alice, together with TC Heartland and Oil States (also this year; far more important than Berkheimer), mean that software patents are bunk, courts that tolerate such patents are less accessible, and PTAB is free to invalidate them, based on the latter two decisions from SCOTUS, respectively. Berkheimer is just one among many Federal Circuit decisions.

When Amplifying the Message of ‘Global Innovation Index 2018′ IP Watch Sounds Like WIPO and IP Watchdog (Watchtroll)

Thursday 19th of July 2018 04:49:38 PM

“The only patent that is valid is one which this Court has not been able to get its hands on.”

–Supreme Court Justice Jackson

Summary: In addition to senatorial efforts and misleading debates about patents, we now contend with something called “Global Innovation Index 2018,” whose purpose appears to be similar to the debunked Chamber of Commerce's rankings (quantifying everything in terms of patents)

THE networks of patent maximalism are more or less visible. There are particular institutions in place, particular publishers that boost their signal, and events that are organised by both. Think of blogs like Patently-O and sites like IAM, Managing IP etc.

“We understand that it’s important to report what’s happening, but unless things are put in context and suitably framed or explained, readers might not know who’s behind what claims and what the motivations are (typically financial).”One blog that always goes further than most is Watchtroll, where judge-bashing is routine and misinformation has become mundane. Just two days ago Watchtroll was conflating “Innovation and Patenting” yet again, alluding to the USPTO because it’s granting millions of utterly rubbish patents. IP Watch (not to be mistaken for IP Watchdog, a.k.a. Watchtroll) gives a voice to patent extremists who “lauded the rise of China as a model” when it comes to patent maximalism. This then expanded to EPO praise, also based on such unbridled patent maximalism.

Global Innovation Index 2018, mentioned here before in passing, gets cited in “Europe’s Innovation Renaissance, China’s ‘Astonishing’ Rise: Global Innovation Index 2018″; Why does IP Watch (claiming to be a watcher/critic of such stuff) prop up this WIPO-oriented tosh whose clear intention/purpose is to shame nations into more overzealous patent policies? Like IP Kat did just earlier this week (yesterday)

“USIJ is one among many front groups which smack of AstroTurfing; it claims to be for the very thing it is harming.”We understand that it’s important to report what’s happening, but unless things are put in context and suitably framed or explained, readers might not know who’s behind what claims and what the motivations are (typically financial). Watchtroll has also just promoted the misguided and dangerous bill from Thomas Massie [1, 2]. It’s an anti-PTAB move, i.e. an effort to lower US patent quality. Yesterday, Josh Landau (CCIA) responded more formally to similar attempts, having previously composed a long blog post on the subject after USIJ had lied. USIJ is one among many front groups which smack of AstroTurfing; it claims to be for the very thing it is harming. We shall keep an eye on upcoming coverage, knowing there will be a lot more deception in networks of patent maximalism.

Erosion of Patent Justice in Europe With Kangaroo Courts and Low-Quality European Patents

Thursday 19th of July 2018 04:07:39 PM

And they want to start the UPC?!

Summary: The problematic combination of plaintiff-friendly courts (favouring the accuser, just like in Eastern Texas) and low-quality patents that should never have been granted

AS WE noted here the other day, UK-IPO patent filings fell. Only patent maximalists would sob over this because it might simply mean that patent quality improved and besides, as Managing IP has just pointed out, trade marks registrations are soaring, highlighting a potential change in strategy. The latter aspect too was pointed out by us two days ago. To quote:

A report released by the Intellectual Property Office details trends in patent, trade mark and design filing between 1995 and 2017

Patent quality matters a lot. It matters most. Without it, embargoes might be unjustly imposed, e.g. by the ITC (UPCA makes provisions for equally if not more draconian measures). What ever happened to “innocent until/unless proven guilty”?

“Patent quality matters a lot.”Earlier this week we mentioned a lawsuit involving European Patent 1,139,562, which doesn’t sound particularly sophisticated. As WIPR has just put it, “Motorola announced yesterday, July 17, that the court determined that China-based Hytera is infringing Motorola’s European patent 1,139,562, which covers technology that improves the audio performance in two-way handheld radios and car radios.”

Hytera has called it “nuisance litigations” [1, 2] and “software” is being mentioned:

Radio manufacturer Hytera has filed a petition at the US International Trade Commission (ITC) requesting review of a ruling issued by the body on 3 July which upheld rival Motorola Solution’s complaint of patent infringement against the company.

In the complaint, Motorola alleged that Hytera is unlawfully importing and selling two-way radio equipment and systems, and related software and components that infringe four of Motorola Solutions’ patents.

Let this be a cautionary tale about hastily-granted European Patents and hastily-judging agencies like ITC, which months ago arrogantly disregarded the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) decision in an inter partes review (IPR) against Cisco.

“What ever happened to “innocent until/unless proven guilty”?”Do we want this kind of thing in Europe? Shooting first (with questionable patents), asking questions later? Raids, confiscations and embargoes before justice begins (or is concluded)? Kangaroo courts like Battistelli’s? Which call those who speak out against corruption “mafia”? Projection tactics?

Mafia Tactics in Team UPC and Battistelli’s Circle

Thursday 19th of July 2018 03:35:24 PM

Battistelli is probably vacationing in Corsica where he came from (and where his name is associated with the Mafia)

Image source

Summary: Mafia-like behaviour at the EPO and the team responsible for the Unified Patent Court (UPC); appointments of loyal friends and family members have become common (nepotism and exchange of favours), as have threats made towards critics, authorities, and the press

LAST night we explained yet again why UPC is dead (or dying). Team UPC will never admit this because it still believes in miracles or in corrupt officials, who are actually not a miracle but a fact of life.

“Team UPC will never admit this because it still believes in miracles or in corrupt officials, who are actually not a miracle but a fact of life.”An article by J A Kemp (a law firm) has just been published to deal with this subject. So was a paywalled article from IAM’s network and another copy of the nonsense from Hogan Lovells. They keep paying to spread this. They won’t want to say so publicly, but the UPC is going nowhere; they just waste their money reposting this crap, hoping perhaps that it can still occasionally attract some business (e.g. consultation about ‘unitary’ patents). Hogan Lovells is working with Managing IP (UPC booster) on this self-serving promotional event right now. Pure marketing!

“They won’t want to say so publicly, but the UPC is going nowhere…”Do not expect anything ‘unitary’ to kick off any time soon; it’s permanently stopped by abuses at the EPO among many other things, such as constitutional problems.

On June 21st Cohausz & Florack’s Gottfried Schüll wrote about the EPO’s attacks on judges. It’s citing Cicero and we overlooked this at the time. To quote a portion:

In an interview with C&F, Prof. Dr. Siegfried Broß, a former judge at the Federal Constitutional Court, was critical of the European Patent Office (EPO) pointing out that major democratic constitutional deficits and human rights have occurred there. An recent article from the debate magazine Cicero published in March 2018 supports and underscores the expert’s statement. The article looks at the consequences of international organizations having legal immunity and lists various cases of arbitrary actions and bullying. The author, Petra Sorge, describes in particular instances of misconduct ate the EPO. Among these is the case where a judge who worked for the EPO Board of Appeal for years fell under suspicion in December 2014 of having leaked internal information and having slandered top personnel at the Office. According to Cicero’s research, the Investigative Unit of the EPO, an intelligence-gathering bod, secretly monitored the judge’s e-mails and PCs and even included uninvolved persons. According to Sorge, the EPO’s trace analysis concluded that “numerous e-mails to State officials, Government leaders, journalists or the European Parliament” had been written by the employee, apparently warning of “high-level corruption” and “nepotism”, and a “Balkan affair” involving Battistelli (the still acting EPO president) and Vice President Topic”. The employee denied being the author of the mails – but was nevertheless ordered by Battistelli to be suspended on grounds of defamation. The judges of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO, who declared the orders for dismissal inadmissible, were subjected, according to the research, to massive pressure from Battistelli and threatened with disciplinary measures. “This undermines the basic principle of court independence”, the article quotes from the June 2016 decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal. The Cicero author summarizes it as follows: “The drama is being played out on a stage without spotlights. A place outside the law, because the immunity of the supranational EPO circumvents any judicial supervision or control”.


Cicero author Petra Sorge describes other disturbing events at the EPO in her article. It becomes clear that even the best research cannot reveal the whole truth in detail. What is certain, however, is that there have been and continue to be enormous distortions at the EPO. The dramatic effects, especially on a human level, put the globally outstanding image of an organization employing almost 7,000 people at risk.

The EPO generally does not want any press coverage like this. It’s actively threatening those who write about EPO corruption, knowing perhaps that courts (like the German FCC) might take note and react. The EPO’s management may be above the law, but it cannot force the initiation of UPC. Only national Parliaments and the European Parliament can. Will they? Doesn’t look like it.

“The EPO generally does not want any press coverage like this. It’s actively threatening those who write about EPO corruption, knowing perhaps that courts (like the German FCC) might take note and react.”Battistelli has done everything within his power, including gross violations of the law, and left his friend António Campinos in charge. Moreover, Battistelli hired PR firms, paid a bunch of publishers and corrupted academics worldwide for UPC propaganda.

Mishcon de Reya, the thuggish law firm that corrupt Battistelli hired at the expense of the EPO to bully me, now advances the UPC agenda (see this new article by David Rose and Nina O’Sullivan).

“Mishcon de Reya, the thuggish law firm that corrupt Battistelli hired at the expense of the EPO to bully me, now advances the UPC agenda…”Each time the EPO hired a law firm to threaten me (it tried several) it later turned out that the legal team/firm had a stake in the UPC. In other words, those firms had personal interests in silencing me, not just the client’s interests. One of those who repeatedly threatened me was called “Capone” (his real surname). They’re acting like some kind of mafia, yet it’s corrupt Battistelli having the audacity to call staff representatives (whom he defames and attacks) “mafia”.

Also spotted this morning was this Lexology piece from Shrey Pathak, Sanam Habib and Leythem A. Wall (Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP). It’s a firm which sponsors the patent trolls’ lobby (also sponsored by the EPO for UPC lobbying). Here is what they said:

The document also re-affirms the UK’s intention to remain part of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and Unitary Patent system after the UK leaves the European Union (EU), and to “work with other contracting states to make sure the Unified Patent Court Agreement can continue on a firm legal basis”.

It does not speak of “intention” but about exploring the prospect, having already ruled that out.

“What we generally find is that not only Team Battistelli acts like a mafia; Team UPC does too.”What we generally find interesting in the whole thing is the degree of coordination among Team Battistelli and Team UPC, which was even hired by Battistelli to SLAPP me, based on thin or invalid legal grounds. What we generally find is that not only Team Battistelli acts like a mafia; Team UPC does too.

Australia Says No to Software Patents

Thursday 19th of July 2018 02:24:13 PM

Summary: Rokt is now fighting the Australian patent office over its decision to reject software patents; Shelston IP, an Australian patent law firm (originally from Melbourne), already meddles a great deal in such policies/decisions, hoping to overturn them

LEAVING aside the EPO and USPTO, two of the world’s largest English-speaking patent offices, there has been some news from Australia, where IP Australia (the Australian patent office) told stakeholders that software isn’t really patent-eligible anymore. We’ve seen several articles about this lately (we mentioned some a week ago) and Lawyerly is the latest to spread the news and shed light on it. “Rokt’s software innovative but not patentable, IP Australia tells court” is the headline. Here’s the key part: “An invention that simply puts “a business method or scheme into a computer” is not patentable, the Commissioner of Patents told a court Wednesday on the first day of a highly anticipated trial over a rejected software patent application by marketing tech startup Rokt.”

“This was achieved in the face of great pressure and constant lobbying from law firms.”Fantastic! Well done, Australia!

This was achieved in the face of great pressure and constant lobbying from law firms. We wrote about it dozens of times over the years and named some of the culprits. In Australia we’ve seen Shelston IP quite a lot recently, attacking the policy and smearing officials for doing the right thing. Shelston IP went further than this and attempted the same thing in New Zealand, where software patents have never been allowed.

Earlier this week we saw Shelston IP rearing its ugly head again in Mondaq and in Lexology (we presume paid placements). Shelston IP (Shelston IP Pty Ltd being its full name), the loudest bunch of lobbyists for software patents down under (Australia and New Zealand), are clearly still meddling in New Zealand’s policies (but they’re Australian!). They’re targeting the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ). Here’s what they wrote:

As seasoned patent scribes, who have between us covered almost everything of significance coming out of New Zealand over the past 15 years, the manner in which a recent article resonated was somewhat unexpected. The article didn’t cover the new Patents Act 2013, poisonous divisionals, the TPP, or even Eminem supposedly suing the NZ Government for copyright infringement – rather, it related to the proposed “Advancement” patent. On reflection, recent goings-on in Australia regarding the will they/won’t they nature of the “Innovation” patent cull probably served to bring the notion of Australasian second-tier patents more into the global IP focus than it might otherwise be. Nonetheless, given that we’ve fielded a few recent questions of the “what’s happening?” variety, this seems like an opportune time for a quick update.


Pre-history of the Advancement Patents Bill

New Zealand’s new Patents Act 2013 took effect from 13 September 2014. Any complete application filed in the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) following commencement of the new legislation is subject to patentability standards substantially aligned with international norms. Such standards include examination for inventive step and represent a perceptible increase with respect to those prescribed under the outgoing Patents Act 1953, under which a second-tier patents regime was never needed.

Why the impression that New Zealand never “needed” a second-tier patents regime?

Under the outgoing Patents Act 1953, inventive step was not examined, which in effect, meant that one could often obtain a New Zealand standard (20 year) patent for the same “low level” invention that if pursued before the Australian Patent Office may only have been worthy of an Innovation (8 year) patent. With the advent of the Patents Act 2013, this was no longer true. Indeed, the balance had been effectively reversed.


Under New Zealand’s 1953 Act, one could essentially take an invention/innovation worthy only of an Australian Innovation patent (8-year term) and use it to obtain a New Zealand standard patent (20 year term); this facility has been removed with the advent of the Patents Act 2013. However, in so doing, a New Zealand patent applicant having only a low-level invention is left with no fallback position, for there is currently no second-tier patent system.

Whereas the legislative space for a New Zealand second-tier patent system and the economic drivers for its adoption have been well known and publicised, Dr Parmar now provides a political impetus that had previously been lacking.

As we wrote earlier this summer, these so-called ‘free’ ‘trade’ ‘agreements’ are being used to shoehorn law changes that would harm the general public for multinational corporations’ gain. We definitely need to watch out for the possibility that they’ll pull something off in the same sense (and means) Team UPC strives to in Europe. The above too uses the term “unitary” and it’s not a coincidence.

Links 19/7/2018: Krita 4.1.1, Qt Creator 4.7.0, and Microsoft-Led Lobby Against Android in EU

Thursday 19th of July 2018 01:02:47 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Amid the 20th anniversary of open source, Tim O’Reilly warns that platform companies built on open-source software have lost their way

    It’s rare to hear Chinese philosophy quoted on stage at a software-development conference. But O’Reilly Media founder and CEO Tim O’Reilly invoked the words of Lao Tzu Wednesday morning during the opening keynotes at OSCON 2018 in hopes of convincing those in attendance — many of whom work for the big internet platform companies of our time — that the tech industry needs to return to the spirit of openness and collaboration that drove the early days of the open-source community before it is too late.

    “We have an opportunity with these next generation of systems, to rebuild, to rethink the future, to discover what does it mean to get these systems right,” O’Reilly said. If the first era of the internet was dominated by open protocols, and the second era was dominated by the rise of huge platform companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook, the third era we’re about to enter presents a chance to get it right again.

  • A 4-step plan for creating teams that aren't afraid to fail
  • 3 big steps toward building authentic developer communities

    As more software businesses are selling open source products, we’ve seen a corresponding rise in the emphasis of building out developer communities around these products as a key metric for success. Happy users are passionate advocates, and these passionate advocates raise overall awareness of a company’s product offerings. Attract the right vocal influencers into your community, and customers become more interested in forming a relationship with your company.

    Doing community building the right way, however, is a delicate balance. Undercut the needs of your user community in favor of driving sales, and your company will face a decrease in adoption and unfavorable brand awareness. Meanwhile, too little focus on the bottom line isn’t good for the company. So how can this tension be balanced effectively, especially in a world in which developers are the “new kingmakers” and meeting their sensibilities is a cornerstone of driving corporate purchasing decisions?

    Over the past year, I’ve thought a lot about how to do effective community building while building the business bottom line. In this article, I’ll outline three big steps to take toward building authentic, productive, sustainable developer communities.

  • Four top open source SIEM tools you should know

    With open source SIEM tools, organizations can test out certain capabilities and reduce cost barriers before expanding their product investments. Depending on what functions you’re interested in, there is a variety of software to choose from.


    Another choice for open source SIEM tools is Apache Metron. ELK Stack is a general purpose log and data parsing tool; Apache Metron focuses squarely on security.

    Apache Metron provides four main capabilities. First, it offers long-term, cost-effective storage of telemetry data through its security data lake feature. Second, it features an extensible framework that collects data from a variety of sources and supports any future endpoints. Third, Metron performs normal SIEM tasks, such as data ingest and threat alerts. The fourth capability is threat intelligence driven by machine learning-based anomaly detection.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Biggest Mistakes with CSS Grid

        It’s easy to make lots of mistakes with a new technology, especially something that’s as big of a change from the past as CSS Grid. In this video, I explain the 9 Biggest Mistakes people are making, with advice and tips for avoiding these pitfalls and breaking old habits.

      • In loving memory of Abbackar DIOMANDE

        It brings us great sadness to share with you the recent news about one of our dear Rep we will so fondly remember. Abbackar DIOMANDE from Ivory Coast is unfortunately no longer with us.

        Diomande, was a Mozillian from Bouake, Ivory Coast and was contributing in various Mozilla projects including SUMO and L10n.
        He was a local community builder, that helped to build a healthy local community in his country while lately he had also taken the role of a Resources Rep, helping his fellow Mozillians on organizing local initiatives.

      • Mozilla Partners with Women Who Tech to Offer Startup Challenge Europe Award for Privacy, Transparency & Accountability

        The Women Startup Challenge Europe will connect women technology innovators from cities across Europe to compete for $60,000 in cash grants. In addition to the funding, all finalists will also receive: pitch coaching, one on one meetings with investors the day after the Women Startup Challenge, and other crucial startup friendly services. The Startup Challenge, co-hosted by the Office of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, will feature 10 finalists pitching their ventures before a panel of judges on October 25, 2018 at Paris Hôtel de Ville.

        Women Who Tech is a nonprofit organization on a mission to close the funding gap and disrupt a culture and economy that has made it incredibly difficult for women entrepreneurs to raise capital. At Mozilla, we are committed to an internet that catalyzes collaboration among diverse communities working together for the common good. Promoting diversity and inclusion is core to our mission, so working with organizations like Women Who Tech furthers our commitment to create more diversity in innovation.

      • Open Your Own Front Page Using Firefox New Tab

        Did you know Firefox has a unique page full of great links and ideas curated just for you? In one simple click, we’ve made it faster and easier for you to find things that are important to you whenever you open a new tab in Firefox.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • Public money, public code? FSFE spearheads open-source initiative

      Last September, the non-profit Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) launched a new campaign that calls for EU-wide legislation that requires publicly financed software developed for the public sector to be made publicly available under a free and open-source software license.

      According to the ‘Public Money, Public Code’ open letter, free and open-source software in the public sector would enable anyone to “use, study, share, and improve applications used on a daily basis”.

      The initiative, says the non-profit, would provide safeguards against public sector organizations being locked into services from specific companies that use “restrictive licenses” to hinder competition.

      The FSFE also says the open-source model would help improve security in the public sector, as it would allow backdoors and other vulnerabilities to fixed quickly, without depending on one single service provider.

      Since its launch, the Public Money, Public Code initiative has gained the support of 150 organizations, including WordPress Foundation, Wikimedia Foundation, and Tor, along with nearly 18,000 individuals.

      With the initiative now approaching its first anniversary, The Daily Swig caught up with FSFE spokesperson Paul Brown, who discussed the campaign’s progress.

    • Emacs & TLS

      A recent query about the status of network security (TLS settings in particular) in Emacs led to a long thread in the emacs-devel mailing list. That thread touched on a number of different areas, including using OpenSSL (or other TLS libraries) rather than GnuTLS, what kinds of problems should lead to complaints out of the box, what settings should be the default, and when those settings could change for Emacs so as not to discombobulate users. The latter issue is one that lots of projects struggle with: what kinds of changes are appropriate for a bug-fix release versus a feature release. For Emacs, its lengthy development cycle, coupled with the perceived urgency of security changes, makes that question even more difficult.

  • Programming/Development
    • This Week in Rust 243

      Always wanted to contribute to open-source projects but didn’t know where to start? Every week we highlight some tasks from the Rust community for you to pick and get started!

    • Qt Creator 4.7.0 released

      We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 4.7.0!

    • Qt Creator 4.7 Released With Clang Code Model Turned On By Default

      The Qt Company has officially released Qt Creator 4.7 as the newest feature release to this open-source, cross-platform Qt/C++ focused integrated development environment.

      Today’s Qt Creator 4.7 IDE release is quite significant in that it finally turns on the Clang code model by default. The Clang code model provides significantly better C++ support over what was offered by their in-house code model and will stay better up-to-date with newer C/C++ standards, etc. The Clang code model in Qt Creator 4.7 is based on LLVM/Clang 6.0.

    • Working with UE4 on Linux using Qt Creator

      I’ll start by pointing out that Epic already has a guide to using Qt Creator for UE4. However, I found a few things lacking in that guide. This is my attempt to improve upon it.

      This guide assumes you’re able to build and run UE4 outside of Qt Creator. For this guide, we’re going to be using a game project, MyGame, located under UnrealEngine/Projects. If you’re looking to just build base Unreal Engine for now, you can check out Epic’s guide at the above link for the proper build/run settings.

      This guide will not cover things like downloading source or resolving dependency issues specific to your Linux distribution. For that, I recommend looking over Epic’s documentation on building and running on Linux.

    • nanotime 0.2.2

      A new maintenance release of the nanotime package for working with nanosecond timestamps just arrived on CRAN.

  • Science
  • Security
    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • At Rest Encryption

      There are many steps you can take to harden a computer, and a common recommendation you’ll see in hardening guides is to enable disk encryption. Disk encryption also often is referred to as “at rest encryption”, especially in security compliance guides, and many compliance regimes, such as PCI, mandate the use of at rest encryption. This term refers to the fact that data is encrypted “at rest” or when the disk is unmounted and not in use. At rest encryption can be an important part of system-hardening, yet many administrators who enable it, whether on workstations or servers, may end up with a false sense of security if they don’t understand not only what disk encryption protects you from, but also, and more important, what it doesn’t.

    • Why Does Google Chrome Say Websites Are “Not Secure”?

      Starting with Chrome 68, Google Chrome labels all non-HTTPS websites as “Not Secure.” Nothing else has changed—HTTP websites are just as secure as they’ve always been—but Google is giving the entire web a shove towards secure, encrypted connections.

    • Biggest Voting Machine Maker Admits — Ooops — That It Installed Remote Access Software After First Denying It [Ed: Microsoft Windows TCO]

      We’ve been covering the mess that is electronic voting machines for nearly two decades on Techdirt, and the one thing that still flummoxes me is how are they so bad at this after all these years? And I don’t mean “bad at security” — though, that’s part of it — but I really mean “bad at understanding how insecure their machines really are.” For a while everyone focused on Diebold, but Election Systems and Software (ES&S) has long been a bigger player in the space, and had just as many issues. It just got less attention. There was even a brief period of time where ES&S bought what remained of Diebold’s flailing e-voting business before having to sell off the assets to deal with an antitrust lawsuit by the DOJ.

      What’s incredible, though, is that every credible computer security person has said that it is literally impossible to build a secure fully electronic voting system — and if you must have one at all, it must have a printed paper audit trail and not be accessible from the internet. Now, as Kim Zetter at Motherboard has reported, ES&S — under questioning from Senator Ron Wyden — has now admitted that it installed remote access software on its voting machines, something the company had vehemently denied to the same reporter just a few months ago.

    • Bringing cybersecurity to the DNC [Ed: Microsoft Windows TCO. Microsoft Exchange was used.]

      When Raffi Krikorian joined the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as chief technology officer, the party was still reeling from its devastating loss in 2016 — and the stunning cyberattacks that resulted in high-level officials’ emails being embarrassingly leaked online.

    • Getting Started with Successful Security Breach Detection

      Organizations historically believed that security software and tools were effective at protecting them from hackers. Today, this is no longer the case, as modern businesses are now connected in a digital global supply ecosystem with a web of connections to customers and suppliers. Often, organizations are attacked as part of a larger attack on one of their customers or suppliers. They represent low hanging fruit for hackers, as many organizations have not invested in operationalizing security breach detection.

      As this new reality takes hold in the marketplace, many will be tempted to invest in new technology tools to plug the perceived security hole and move on with their current activities. However, this approach is doomed to fail. Security is not a “set it and forget it” type of thing. Defending an organization from a breach requires a careful balance of tools and operational practices — operational practices being the more important element.

    • The SIM Hijackers

      By hijacking Rachel’s phone number, the hackers were able to seize not only Rachel’s Instagram, but her Amazon, Ebay, Paypal, Netflix, and Hulu accounts too. None of the security measures Rachel took to secure some of those accounts, including two-factor authentication, mattered once the hackers took control of her phone number.

    • Spectre V1 defense in GCC
    • Signing and distributing Gentoo

      The compromise of the Gentoo’s GitHub mirror was certainly embarrassing, but its overall impact on Gentoo users was likely fairly limited. Gentoo and GitHub responded quickly and forcefully to the breach, which greatly limited the damage that could be done; the fact that it was a mirror and not the master copy of Gentoo’s repositories made it relatively straightforward to recover from. But the black eye that it gave the project has led some to consider ways to make it even harder for an attacker to add malicious content to Gentoo—even if the distribution’s own infrastructure were to be compromised.

      Unlike other distributions, Gentoo is focused on each user building the software packages they want using the Portage software-management tool. This is done by using the emerge tool, which is the usual interface to Portage. Software “packages” are stored as ebuilds, which are sets of files that contain the information and code needed by Portage to build the software. The GitHub compromise altered the ebuilds for three packages to add malicious content so that users who pulled from those repositories would get it.

      Ebuilds are stored in the /usr/portage directory on each system. That local repository is updated using emerge –sync (which uses rsync under the hood), either from Gentoo’s infrastructure or one of its mirrors. Alternatively, users can use emerge-webrsync to get snapshots of the Gentoo repository, which are updated daily. Snapshots are individually signed by the Gentoo infrastructure OpenPGP keys, while the /usr/portage tree is signed by way of Manifest files that list the hash of each file in a directory. The top-level Manifest is signed by the infrastructure team, so following and verifying the chain of hashes down to a particular file (while also making sure there are no unlisted files) ensures that the right files are present in the tree.

    • Here’s How Hackers Are Using Google’s Servers To Host Malware For Free
  • Defence/Aggression
    • In recording, Netanyahu boasts Israel convinced Trump to quit Iran nuclear deal

      In a video clip aired Tuesday by Israeli television, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted that Israel was responsible for US President Donald Trump’s decision to quit the Iran nuclear deal.

      In the video, which the Kan public broadcaster said was filmed two weeks ago, Netanyahu can be seen speaking to activists and senior members from his Likud party.

    • Crony Kleptocracy

      When President Dwight Eisenhower warned against the “unwarranted influence” of the “military-industrial complex,” he was concerned that certain firms selling to the government might obtain untoward privilege, twisting public resources to serve private ends. It is telling that one of those contractors, Lockheed Aircraft, would become the first company to be bailed out by Congress in 1971.

      For many observers, the George W. Bush administration’s “no-bid” contracts to Halliburton and Blackwater appeared to exemplify the sort of deals that Eisenhower had warned of. It is true that federal regulations explicitly permit contracts without open bidding in certain circumstances, such as when only one firm is capable of providing a certain service or when there is an unusual or compelling emergency. In any case, a report issued by the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in 2011 estimated that contractor fraud and abuse during operations in Afghanistan and Iraq cost taxpayers an estimated $31 to $60 billion.

    • Noam Chomsky calmly explains why Trump and allies are a threat to organized human life
    • When the US Invaded Russia

      Amid the bi-partisan mania over the Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki, fevered, anti-Russian rhetoric in the United States makes conceivable what until recently seemed inconcievable: that dangerous tensions between Russia and the U.S. could lead to military conflict. It has happened before.


      In July 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson had personally typed the “Aide Memoire” on American military action in Russia that was hand-delivered by the Secretary of War at the beginning of August to General William Graves, the designated commander of the U.S. troops en route to Siberia. Wilson’s document was curiously ambivalent and contradictory. It began by asserting that foreign interference in Russia’s internal affairs was “impermissible,” and eventually concluded that the dispatch of U.S. troops to Siberia was not to be considered a “military intervention.”

      The Non-Intervention Intervention

      But the American intervention began when U.S. soldiers disembarked at Vladivostok on August 16, 1918. These were the 27th and 31st infantry regiments, regular army units that had been involved in pacification of U.S.-occupied Philippines. Eventually there were to be about 8,000 U.S. troops in Siberia.

      Judging from his memoires, General Graves was puzzled by how different things looked on the ground in Siberia than his vague instructions seemed to suggest. For one thing, the Czechs hardly needed rescuing. By the Summer of 1918 they had easily taken control of Vladivostok and a thousand miles of the Trans-Siberian Railway.

      For the next year and a half, General Graves, by all appearances an honest and non-political professional soldier, struggled to understand and carry out his mandate in Siberia. He seems to have driven the U.S. State Department and his fellow allied commanders to distraction by clinging stubbornly to a literal interpretation of Wilson’s Aide Memoire as mandating strict non-intervention in Russian affairs. The general seemed incapable of noticing the broad “wink” with which everyone else understood these instructions.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • News media paid Melania Trump thousands for use of photos in ‘positive stories only’

      It’s not unheard of for celebrities to earn royalties from photos of themselves, but it’s very unusual for the wife of a currently serving elected official. More problematic for the many news organizations that have published or broadcast the images, however, is that Getty’s licensing agreement stipulates the pictures can be used in “positive stories only.”

      According to the revenue statement in President Trump’s May financial disclosure, Melania Trump earned between $100,000 and $1,000,000 in photo royalties in 2017 from the Getty deal.

    • Media Paid Melania Trump Up to $1M for ‘Positive Stories Only’ Photos

      When contacted by NBC News for comment, several of the news outlets (e.g. Yahoo News, SFGate, Houston Chronicle) immediately removed the photos from their websites.

    • Defending InfoWars, Facebook declines to stop fake news

      Facebook held an expensive shrimp-cocktail-and-overproduced-trailer press event Wednesday in New York selling the company’s big serious fight against the scourge of misinformation. After its pitch on Facebook’s new efforts to fight fake news, CNN’s Oliver Darcy asked John Hegeman, the head of Facebook’s News Feed, “how the company could claim it was serious about tackling the problem of misinformation online while simultaneously allowing InfoWars to maintain a page with nearly 1 million followers on its website.”

    • Mark Zuckerberg says Holocaust deniers are making an honest mistake

      Last week, CNN’s Oliver Darcy questioned how Facebook could be sincere in its stated efforts to reduce the spread of false news stories while it also offered sites like Infowars a place to develop a large following and routinely distribute hoaxes.

    • Why is InfoWars allowed on Facebook? Zuckerberg: Because it doesn’t cause “harm”

      But Swisher challenged Zuckerberg by noting that InfoWars’ repeated claims that the Sandy Hook shooting was staged are lies and “not a debate.” Zuckerberg agreed that “it is false.” However, if one Facebook user is going to attack a Sandy Hook victim or their family member, “that is harassment, and we actually will take that down.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Experts divided over SC verdict on mob lynching, vigilantism

      Most of these incidents took place because of WhatsApp messages and some responsibilities have to be attached with those using these platforms. Though there were provisions under the IPC, the focus has to be given to the specific problems,” Rohatgi said.

    • Israel Set to Approve ‘Facebook Law’ Against Web Incitement

      The bill would allow the government to ask courts for an order removing content within 48 hours. No other country has provisions as broad as the proposed Israeli law, and none allows the state to ask the courts to rule on an order to remove content without needing to present evidence, Shwartz Altshuler wrote in a report.

    • Grandstanding Idiots In Congress Attack Social Media For Censoring Too Much And Too Little Without Understanding Anything

      So, yesterday the House Judiciary Committee did what the House Judiciary Committee seems to do best: hold a stupid, nonsensical, nearly fact-free “hearing” that serves as nothing more than an opportunity for elected members of Congress to demonstrate their ignorance of an important topic, while attempting to play to their base. This time, the topic was on the content filtering practices of Facebook, Twitter and Google. Back in May there was actually a whole one day conference in Washington DC on this topic. The Judiciary Committee would have been a lot better served attending that than holding this hearing.


      But, never let facts get in the way of a narrative. Since that seems to be the way many hyperpartisan sites (at either end of the spectrum) deal with these things, Congress is helping out. The only bit of sanity, perhaps bizarrely, came from Rep. Ted Lieu, who reminded everyone of the importance of free markets, free speech and the fact that private platforms get to decide how they manage their own services. Considering that Republicans often like to claim the mantle of being the “small, limited government” party who wants the government’s hands out of business regulation, the fact that most of the hearing involved Republicans screaming for regulating internet platforms and a Democrat reminding everyone about the importance of a free market, capitalism and free speech, it really was quite a hearing. Lieu’s remarks were some of the rare moments of sanity during the hearing — including defending Facebook leaving Alex Jones’ conspiracy theories on its site. Let’s start with that high point before we dive into the awfulness.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Facebook Messenger Now Wants To Sync Your Instagram Contacts As Well

      To increase the usage of Messenger and to link all their services, Facebook has added a new feature to the Messenger app. Now users can sync their Instagram contacts into the Messenger App.

      This new option is available in the ‘People’ section of the Messenger app. Earlier, there was an option to sync phone contacts, and now Instagram has also been added to it.

    • Like Chicago Police, Cook County and Illinois Officials Track Thousands of People in Gang Databases

      Over the last 25 years, Illinois State Police have built a database of more than 90,000 people they deem to be gang members — but won’t say what gangs they’re in or where they live.

      The Cook County sheriff’s office has a gang database, too. It includes 25,000 people, including hundreds whose gangs aren’t known and hundreds who are dead.

      And the Illinois Department of Corrections says the only information it can provide about its gang database is that it can’t provide any information.

      The Chicago Police Department’s massive gang database has received considerable scrutiny in recent months. But it’s not the only gang tracking system used by area law enforcement. Police and other authorities have been keeping files of alleged gang members for decades now. A Chicago officer recently told me that when he first joined the force in the 1980s, police bought high school yearbooks to help them keep track of names and faces in their districts.

    • ‘Smart’ TVs Remain The Poster Child For Dismal Privacy, Transparency & Security Standards

      The dumpster fire that passes for security and privacy standards in the internet of things space is by now pretty well understood. It’s also pretty clear that in this sector, “smart TV” vendors have been among the laziest sectors around in terms of making sure private consumer data is adequately encrypted, and that consumers understand that their viewing habits and even some in-room conversations are being hoovered up and monetized, usually sloppily.

      Recent studies have found that upwards of 90% of smart TVs can be compromised remotely, and leaked documents have made it clear that intelligence agencies have been having a field day with the lack of security in such sets, easily exploiting paper-mache grade protections in order to use TV microphones to monitor targets without anybody being the wiser.

      Meanwhile, set vendors and viewing tracking firms continue to do a pretty dismal job clearly explaining to the end user what data is being collected and monetized. The New York Times, for example, recently did a profile piece on a company named SambaTV, whose viewer-tracking software is now collects viewing data from 13.5 million smart TVs in the United States.

    • Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook data was accessed from Russia, MP says

      Damian Collins, the Conservative MP leading a British parliamentary investigation into online disinformation, told CNN that a British investigation found evidence that the data, collected by Professor Aleksandr Kogan on behalf of Cambridge Analytica, had been accessed from Russia and other countries. The discovery was made by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), Britain’s data protection authority, Collins said.

    • Guy jailed for refusing to unlock phones

      It’s a minor infraction, but it was the first step on what’s turned into a Fifth Amendment meltdown: one that earlier this month led to Montanez being jailed for failing to unlock his cell phones.


      Regardless of what “it” was, Montanez declined to agree to another police request: this time to search his phone. That led to police getting a warrant, and that’s how Montanez wound up in court, in front of Judge Gregory Holder, on 5 July.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • I Came as a Journalist to Ask Important Questions

      Here’s what I would have asked, had I been given the chance.


      I was taken to a small room downstairs where I was told that Finnish law allows for police to detain me for 24 hours without charge. They did not allow me access to my phone or other possessions, and they forced me to give up my press badge, which I later got back. I was then taken to a detention facility. As I was moved outside, I hollered to onlookers, “This is freedom of press in Finland!” At that point, officers started tackling me to the ground, and my legs and hands were cuffed. At the detention facility, I was asked more questions and laid out the facts of what had happened. I was released around midnight.

    • Obtained Documents Show The DEA Sold Compromised Phones To Suspected Drug Dealers

      Human Rights Watch — which delivered info on law enforcement’s “parallel construction” habit earlier this year — is back with a bombshell. Court documents obtained by the group show the DEA sold compromised devices to drug dealers during an investigation into a Mexico-to-Canada trafficking operation.

    • The ugly scandal that cancelled the Nobel prize

      But this year there will be no prize and no ceremony. In November 2017, it was revealed in the Swedish press that the husband of one of the academy members had been accused of serial sexual abuse, in assaults alleged to have taken place over more than 20 years. Jean-Claude Arnault, a French photographer and cultural entrepreneur, is married to the poet and academician Katarina Frostenson. In addition to assault accusations against him, the pair are accused of misusing academy funding. Arnault has denied all accusations, and Frostenson has refused to comment.

      The academy is paralysed by the scandal, which was followed by a slew of resignations and expulsions. Six of The Eighteen have withdrawn from any part in its deliberations; another two were compelled to do so. The statutes say that 12 members must be present to elect any new ones, so with only 10, no important decisions can be taken and no new members elected. The vacuum has been filled with invective.

    • Explosive Report on Abuse of Women Photographers Stirs Both Anger and Pride

      An investigation published this week was painful reading for many. For one advocate, it was also inspiring.

      On Monday, the Columbia Journalism Review published a nearly 10,000-word investigation of sexual harassment and abuse in the world of photojournalism. The investigation took five months and involved interviews with 50 people.

      The findings were dark.

      “Photojournalists described behavior from editors and colleagues that ranged from assault to unwanted advances to comments on their appearance or bodies when they were trying to work,” the article said.

      “Many women in the industry say the behavior is so common that they have long considered it simply one of the realities of working as a woman in the profession,” the investigation found. “They say the problem is rooted in a number of factors: The field has historically been male-dominated with a culture that glorifies macho, hyper-masculine behavior; there is an increasing reliance on freelancers, which affects accountability; workshops and other events for young photographers are often exploited by older, established photojournalists.”

    • Brett Kavanaugh’s One Abortion Case

      I am the only lawyer who has argued an abortion case before Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. Here’s why we should be worried.

      In October 2017, I went to court to stop the Trump administration from blocking a young immigrant from obtaining an abortion. She had crossed into the United States the month before and discovered she was pregnant soon after. She never had any doubt about what she wanted to do. But the Trump administration had other plans for her.

      Her plea, which I relayed to a three-judge appeals panel, was: “Please stop delaying my decision any longer.” That panel included Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and her plea went unheeded.

      In the only abortion case heard by President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Kavanaugh issued a decision that would have forced Jane to further delay her abortion, almost a full month after she first sought it. Ultimately, the full appeals court reversed his decision, ending the government’s obstruction in the dramatic case.

      While Judge Kavanaugh’s decision was cause for concern when it was issued last year, it’s taken on far more importance now, given his nomination to the high court and the clues it provides about how he might shift the course of reproductive rights in this country. Although the ACLU neither endorses nor opposes Supreme Court nominees, we do have an obligation to analyze Kavanaugh’s judicial record on areas that impact core civil liberties and civil rights.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Netflix CEO Proclaims The Death Of Net Neutrality Is No Big Deal

      We’ve noted repeatedly that while Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Google are portrayed as net neutrality supporters, that hasn’t been true for many years now. Google stopped giving a damn about the idea back in 2010 or so when it started eyeing the broadband (Google Fiber) and wireless (Android, Project Fi) markets. Similarly, Facebook has never really been much of a genuine supporter, and has actively undermined the concept of net neutrality overseas in developing nations. Once they became powerful and wealthy enough, they stopped seriously worrying about the threat posed by broadband monopolies.

      For a while there, Netflix jumped in to supplant Google as a major net neutrality supporter, frequently highlighting how usage caps can be used anti-competitively or how ISPs were abusing interconnection points and their broadband monopolies to drive up prices for competitors.

    • Neutral Net critical for India: R.S. Sharma

      In his first interview since the government approved TRAI’s net neutrality recommendations, the outgoing Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, R.S. Sharma, talks about its importance for India. He also counters allegations of bias against himself as well as objections raised against TRAI’s recommendations for public Wi-Fi hotspots.

    • Bill to save net neutrality gets first Republican vote in US House

      The congressional bill to reinstate net neutrality rules has finally received support from a House Republican.

      US Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) today announced his support for the bill. Coffman is signing a discharge petition that would force the House to vote on a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution; the resolution would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of its net neutrality rules.

  • DRM
    • Pirates Punish Denuvo-Protected Games With Poor Ratings

      Denuvo’s anti-piracy technology is a thorn in the side of game pirates. While it has been defeated on several occasions recently, the strict anti-piracy measures have not been without consequence. According to new research, Denuvo has frustrated pirates to a point where they sabotage reviews on Metacritic, leading to significantly lower ratings for protected games.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Actual Use vs Inherent Disclosure: Endo v. Custopharm

      The claimed invention here requires the use of testosterone undecanoate (TU) at a concentration of 250 mg/ml in a vehicle containing a mixture of about 40% castor oil and 60% benzyl benzoate. (Claim 1 of the ‘640 patent). Three key prior art references are all research articles that report using the same concentration of TU and also the castor oil. The prior-art articles do not, however, actually report that benzyl benzoate was used — it turns out though that the researchers (including one overlapping listed inventor here) used the same 40/60 split of castor oil and benzyl benzoate. The asserted claim 2 adds a limitation that 750 mg TU is injected — the articles describe the use of 1000 mg.

      A primary question on appeal was whether the prior art articles inherently taught the benzyl benzoate concentration. “Custopharm contends that the Articles inherently describe the vehicle formulation (40% castor oil and 60% benzyl benzoate).”

    • Trade Secret Litigation in Federal Court

      The basics: Federal Trade Secret litigation is up about 30% following enactment of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) in 2016. (1134 cases filed in 2017). The DTSA created a federal cause of action for trade secret litigation and resulting original jurisdiction in federal court for the federal claims. Prior to the DTSA, state-law trade secret claims found their way into federal court either via supplemental jurisdiction (typically linked to an a federal IP claim) or via diversity jurisdiction (parties from different states).

    • Upping the Trade War with China

      Earlier in 2018, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) imposed a 25% added-value tariff on a set of particular Chinese-made products expected to valued at about $34 billion per year. A prior notice indicated a plan to increase the 25% tariff to $50 billion worth of goods (an additional $16 billion on Chinese goods ). Doing the math here – the US is planning here to collect $12.5 billion in tax revenue from the Chinese goods entering into the US. Although a tariff already applied to most Chinese imports, the rate is usually less than 5%.

    • China IP Office released major IP statistics of the first half of 2018

      By the end of June 2018, the cumulative number of invention patents held by the Chinese mainland is 1,475,000, namely 10.6 invention patents for every 10,000 head of population.

    • House Subcommittees Hold Hearing on China’s Predatory Trade, Investment Strategy

      On the afternoon of Wednesday, July 11th, the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific held a joint hearing titled China’s Predatory Trade and Investment Strategy. The day’s hearing featured discussion of actions the U.S. government should be taking in order to counter deceptive trade practices pursued by the Chinese government, a topic which has become a main theme of the administration of President Donald Trump.

    • Fractus sues Oppo in China, setting up a big test for both sides

      Barcelona-based antenna technology developer Fractus yesterday announced in a press release that it has filed patent litigation in China against mobile manufacturer Oppo. In doing so it has become one of relatively few foreign licensors to assert Chinese patents against a local company. Oppo has been rapidly buying up overseas patents, but its second major international litigation dispute will play out at home. Fractus has not named the specific patent being asserted in its campaign before the Shanghai IP Court, but it is aimed at securing a licence to the firm’s broader portfolio of geometry based antenna technologies.

    • Copyrights
      • Research Confirms The Anecdotal Evidence: Internet Content Filters Are A Waste Of Money

        Internet filtering — whether it’s for copyright reasons or “for the children” [INSERT FAVORED OFFENSIVE CONTENT HERE] — doesn’t work. It certainly never works as well as advertised. And when those ads are being paid for with your tax dollars to push filters that make the internet worse for the sake of making the internet “safer,” you’d probably like to ask for a refund.

        The UK is implementing porn filters and adding in fun stuff that’s less definable like “extremist content. ” Governments all over Europe want the biggest service providers to filter out whatever happened to be offending them this legislative session. Most recently, it was copyright infringement. Fortunately, the EU’s proposed filtering legislation died before it could ruin the internet, but its unwieldy corpse is bound to be reanimated by seething publishers and performance rights groups.

        But, hey, maybe a metric ton of anecdotal evidence isn’t enough to convince you filtering doesn’t work. Maybe you need more than failure after spectacular failure to erase your faith in harder nerding/legislative busywork. Maybe you’re cool with overblocking and will simply close your eyes (and your browser) when the filter doesn’t do any filtering at all.

      • EPIC Bravely Defeats 14 Year Old’s Mom In Court To Continue Lawsuit Against Her Son For Cheating In Fortnite

        Earlier this year, we wrote about EPIC, makers of the popular Fortnite game, picking up the baton from Blizzard to pretzel copyright law such that it believes it can sue those that cheat in its game for copyright infringement. This belief centers on the claim that these cheaters break the EULA, despite the fact that no actual copying occurs when breaking a EULA. To make PR matters worse for EPIC, the company managed to sweep up a fourteen year old in its lawsuit-blitz. Despite the teenager supposedly being quite brazen in his use of cheats, and in his communications to others about how to cheat in Fortnite, I had assumed that EPIC would find a way to quietly back away from this particular suit, given how shitty the optics would be. It did the opposite, pursuing the case and seeking a summary judgement after the teenager failed to respond. The court refused, however, citing a letter to the court from the teen’s mother, who argued that the suit against her son was overkill and, critically, that the argument over the EULA was null because her minor son couldn’t legally enter into such an agreement without her input.

        Rather than again trying to salvage some PR positivity from any of this, EPIC then decided instead to take on the mother’s letter as a legal matter, with its lawyers countering it as a legal argument. EPIC argued that caselaw is clear that such contracts aren’t void, even if one party is a minor, so long as that minor enjoyed the benefits of the contract. Unfortunately, the judge in the case has decided that he will not dismiss and will allow this lawsuit to move forward.

      • Pirates Are Increasingly ‘Going Legal’ in France

        While the French Government mulls how to counter streaming piracy, local pirates are increasingly going legal. Not only are there less French pirates, the remaining ones are also consuming less and are increasingly signing up with legal streaming services such as Netflix.

      • French Pirates Are Increasingly Buying Through Legal Options

        Do you guys remember Hadopi? This French version of a law designed to kick copyright infringers off of the internet essentially ended in 2016, after all kinds of reports showed the program to be an inefficient, unreasonably harsh failure that actually resulted in more infringement rather than less. Well, this travesty probably seems altogether silly here in 2018, given that Hadopi largely targeted filesharing infringement, while the majority of “piracy” these days takes the form of streaming content online rather than downloading it. Those enforcing Hadopi have no real way to track that kind of “piracy”, making the whole thing useless.

        But the French government appears to want to see if it can repeat its mistakes all over again, with reports that it will institute a streaming site blacklist, which will be every bit as effective as Hadopi. Making all of this especially odd is that it comes at a time when so-called pirates in France are increasingly turning to legal offerings and spending gobs of money on them.

      • Movie & TV Giants Apply For Broadest Ever Piracy Blocking Injunction

        A large coalition of movie and TV show companies has filed for a record-setting site-blocking injunction Down Under. Village Roadshow and several Hollywood companies have teamed up with Hong Kong-based Television Broadcasts and local distributor Madman Entertainment Pty. If successful, the application will force Australian ISPs to block 151 domains linked to 77 ‘pirate’ sites.

IAM is Pushing SEPs/FRAND Agenda for Patent Trolls and Monopolists That Fund IAM

Wednesday 18th of July 2018 11:39:15 PM

Sponsored by Microsoft-connected patent trolls such as Finjan, who also just ‘happen’ to be speakers at this upcoming event

Summary: The front group of patent trolls, IAM, sets up an echo chamber-type event, preceded by all the usual pro-FRAND propaganda

PATENTS are OK as long as they don’t obstruct access to a market. It should be possible to work around them one way or another, otherwise the USPTO becomes merely a monopoly protector or protectionism agency. If patents are about innovation, one must keep this in mind.

“Rokt’s software patent to take centre stage in high-stakes hearing,” said this new headline. “Motorola Solutions Wins Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Hytera Mobilfunk GmbH Resulting in Injunction and Recall,” said another. In one case we see software patents and in the latter an embargo. Is the public well served by these? Probably not. How about this (almost) week-old report stating that a “federal appeals court on Thursday declined to reconsider a recent decision reinstating a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple Inc.”

The patent in question is very… questionable. So are many of IBM’s patents, which are simply software patents asserted in bulk (to make legal challenges a lot more expensive). We wrote about that yesterday and earlier today Richard Lloyd from the patent trolls’ lobby fired the headline “IBM’s infringement suit against Groupon shows it’s still a licensing heavyweight” (celebrating extortion). This malicious lobby, only about a month after corrupt Battistelli had given a keynote speech at its US think tank-type event, today announced that a lobbyist, Makan Delrahim, will keynote its extortion event (“patent licensing event”). To quote:

Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general for the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice, has been comfirmed as the keynote speaker at Patent Licensing 2018, IAM’s annual event focusing on the key issues affecting licensees and licensors, and their dealmaking strategies, in the US and beyond.

Suffice to say, the event will be an(other) echo chamber for SEPs/FRAND proponents, who also fund IAM and this event. Delrahim, being a lobbyist, probably won’t feel too uncomfortable in such a setting.

Going back to Richard Lloyd, who is fronting for patent trolls and patent lawyers, he has this update on standard-essential patents (SEPs). It’s about Ericsson, which not only acts like a patent troll but also created several dedicated patent trolls to serve as proxies. Lloyd wrote:

Ericsson has put together the CAFC brief for its appeal against the Central District of California federal court’s decision in its litigation with Chinese handset manufacturer TCL. This sets the scene for the next round of one of the most consequential disputes over standard essential patents (SEPs) that the mobile sector has seen in the US for many years. The document was filed more than six months after Judge James Selna largely sided with TCL over its claims that the Swedish telecoms giant’s licensing offers for its 2G, 3G and 4G patents were not FRAND.

“After almost a decade of litigation, Philips wins India’s first-ever SEP infringement decision,” Jacob Schindler (Lloyd’s colleague) wrote, having already repeatedly bashed India in an effort to make software patents legal there. This time it’s about Philips and its standard-essential patents:

After a number of very significant interim judgments in telecom licensing cases, the Delhi High Court has for the first time issued a SEP infringement verdict following a full trial. Philips was the beneficiary of the decision, in a case centered on the DVD Video and DVD ROM standards. But practitioners say the ruling leaves unaddressed questions on what constitutes FRAND conduct and abuse of dominant position in India. The lawsuit arose all the way back in 2009, when Philips sued two local companies – Manglam Technology and Bhagirathi Electronics – for making infringing DVD players.

Expect IAM to keep pushing this sort of toxic agenda, which merely acts as a “patent thicket” that obstructs competition and taxes the public.

IAM is not a news site. It is a front group disguised as a news site/publisher.