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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 2 hours 37 min ago

Alliance for US Startups and Inventors for Jobs (USIJ) Misleads the US Government, Pretending to Speak for Startups While Spreading Lies for the Patent Microcosm

Monday 16th of July 2018 05:12:19 AM

Summary: In the United States, which nowadays strives to raise the patent bar, the House Small Business Committee heard from technology firms but it also heard from some questionable front groups which claim to support “startups” and “jobs” (but in reality support just patents on the face of it)

More than a decade ago we wrote quite a lot about front groups like ACT and Computing Technology Industry Association pretending to speak for small businesses whilst actually speaking for Microsoft (in exchange for money).

Days ago there was a hearing/debate similar to those infiltrated by ACT (they have renamed since). Watchtroll called it an “Anti-Patent Panel” and obsessed over talking points from Chris Israel, Executive Director of Alliance for US Startups & Inventors for Jobs. It’s just preaching to patent maximalists, who are a tiny minority (less than one in a thousand US citizens). CCIA has already responded to Chris Israel’s claims, labeling them misleading and worse. For example:

Israel complains that there’s been an increase in investment in social networks, platforms, software apps, B2C technologies, and financial services. He claims that “these are not sectors that are investing heavily to push the outer boundaries of science and technology to remain competitive in a global market.”

But that’s simply false.

For example, social network and platform companies have invested billions of dollars in developing new software improving the efficiency of high-performance databases and new technologies that enable more efficient data centers for large-scale computing. Without that kind of technology, data centers like the ones that are enabling current advances in AI and drug discovery aren’t feasible. In fact, next week the National Institutes of Health are holding a workshop—participants will “hear from leading industry experts and scientists who are employing AI/ML in biomedical research settings.”

That’s not the only connection to AI, either. Social networking and platform companies have invested in (and released for public use) basic AI research, producing tools like TensorFlow (Google) and PyTorch (Facebook). These direct products also have follow-on impacts, enabling others to push the outer boundaries of science and technology.

There’s a ton of amazing work going on out there in AI right now. A lot of small companies are creating new ideas built on a machine learning substrate.

But that machine learning substrate probably utilizes one of those AI tools produced by a social network or platform company, and many of them run on ubiquitous compute platforms like Amazon Web Services provided by B2C service companies. Those “platform” and B2C VC investments that Israel is complaining about are why AI is now within the reach of any company, not just companies with the capital to build their own compute farm.

And once a small company has built their AI-driven product? That small company can begin selling to anyone, anywhere, using a service like Amazon or eBay’s B2C platforms.

Why have there been so many lies?

Thomas A. Hemphill meanwhile promotes the ‘STRONGER’ (actually weaker, low quality) Patents Act. This misguided anti-PTAB bill died last summer and will die again this summer, more so in light of Oil States. Here is what Hemphill wrote:

In March, Reps. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, and Bill Foster, D-Illinois, introduced the Support Technology & Research for Our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience (STRONGER) Patents Act of 2018.

This bill has a companion piece of the same name in the Senate, co-sponsored by Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii.

[...]

Heard before the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB), an inter partes review (IPR) is a trial proceeding where a non-patent owner may challenge (after either nine months’ post-grant patent-grant, or after the termination of a post-grant review, whichever occurs later) the validity of a patent based on prior art patents and publications.

[...]

Not surprisingly, this list of organizations does not include the biggest Silicon Valley companies — Apple, Google, Intel and Cisco, whose business models involve products with “patent thickets” of hundreds or even thousands of patents, in contrast to life sciences or small software and hardware companies who may have three to five patents protecting their product investment. For these tech giants, the status quo is working just fine.

[...]

Creative legislative and executive branch solutions, based on industry characteristics, can go a long way in ameliorating the patent validity issue.

This is being framed as a fight between technology giants and pharmaceutical giants, but as we explained in past years it’s a totally bogus framing that seeks to mislead readers. What we really have here is a fight between patent maximalists (e.g. law firms) and everybody else, including a lot of pharmaceutical companies (maybe not the very big ones) and especially generics. On the technology side both large and small companies support PTAB; we can think of no exception to that. Patent trolls with software patents aren’t technology companies but litigation operations. Like we said last week, groups which claim to support the bill led by Thomas Massie and Marcy Kaptur (and advertised by patent trolls, as one might expect) don’t help small businesses but merely harm them, just like the Alliance for US Startups and Inventors for Jobs (USIJ) does. It makes one wonders what members they have and what motivations are there; grossroots or AstroTurfing?

‘Blockchain’, ‘Cloud’ and Whatever Else Gets Exploited to Work Around 35 U.S.C. § 101 (or the EPC) and Patent Algorithms/Software

Monday 16th of July 2018 04:39:06 AM

Hype waves that technical people can’t quite make sense of (so they issue a patent anyway)

Summary: Looking for a quick buck or some low-quality patents (which courts would almost certainly reject), opportunists carry on with their gold rush, aided by buzzwords and hype over pretty meaningless things

Dallas, Houston and other large Texan cities have been trying to attract patent trolls with their software patents that courts in Texas would blindly accept after the USPTO granted them (instituted a monopoly). It was a short-sighted strategy because it’s a deterrence for practising companies, more so after TC Heartland (a decision issued by SCOTUS just over a year ago).

A patent boosters’ site, “Dallas Invents” (or “Dallas Innovates”) being its name, took note of some recent patents. From the summary:

Patents granted include Toyota’s steering wheel that illuminates via touch; AT&T’s electrical switch that generates signals through acoustic inputs; Frito-Lay’s method for removing part of a food product through an “abrasive stream”; and Conduent Business Services’ method to create a classifier that predicts a user’s personality type.

A lot of these are software patents, including the “method to create a classifier that predicts a user’s personality type.” These are, once again, just software patents disguised as something else — something that a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes review (IPR) would likely characterise (to reject) as abstract under Section 101 (35 U.S.C. § 101). Is the USPTO asleep at the wheel? Has it not been paying attention to SCOTUS and CAFC (Federal Circuit) decisions? Even District Court cases are nowadays mostly rejecting such patents. Towards the end of the week, for instance, Donald Zuhn covered a District Court case in which one party was “arguing that the claims of the ’831 patent are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 as being directed to patent-ineligible subject matter and for being void of any inventive concept.”

It’s about DNA, not software. From Patent Docs‘s concluding part:

The District Court therefore determined that the ’831 patent is directed to patent-ineligible subject matter.

With respect to the second step of the patent eligibility analysis, Natera argued that the ’831 patent does not contain an inventive concept because the selective enrichment of DNA in the patent involves well-known, routine, and conventional amplification techniques. Illumina responded by arguing that the ’831 patent improves upon prior art techniques by addressing a need for selective enrichment of DNA sequencing for aneuploidy analysis to avoid producing non-target amplification products.

In denying Natera’s motion, however, Judge Illston determined that “at this stage in litigation the factual record is not sufficient for the Court to conclude whether there is an inventive concept.” In particular, the District Court noted that it “cannot determine whether the amplification of ‘at least 100 different non-random polynucleotide sequences’ and the performance of ‘successive rounds of amplification using primers that are directed to sequences within the products of prior amplification reactions’ are routine or conventional” (emphasis in order). In addition, the District Court noted that it “cannot determine whether the claimed selective enrichment leads to a technological improvement.”

Watchtroll has just found an opposite example — one which involves drugs rather than DNA:

AstraZeneca owns the ‘237 and ‘767 Patents, which are directed to pharmaceutical formulations, intranasal administration devices, or aqueous solutions of zolmitriptan, a selective serotonin receptor agonist. The ‘237 and ‘767 Patents are embodied in Zomig® (zolmitriptan), a nasal spray AstraZeneca developed for the treatment of migraines. In 2012, AstraZeneca and Impax entered into an exclusive agreement for the distribution, license, development, and supply of Zomig®. In June 2014, Lannett filed an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA), seeking approval for a generic version of Zomig® Nasal Spray, alleging non-infringement and/or invalidity of the ‘237 and ‘767 Patents.

Obviousness could not be established in this case and it’s considered patent-eligible subject matter. But what about software?

What we’ve been finding more and more of (over the past year or two) is the use or misuse of buzzwords. Richard Kemp from Kemp IT Law, for instance, has just perpetuated this lunacy of calling software patents "cloud" in order to bypass the rules (using a buzzword that typically means server/s). From the article:

The migration to the cloud and transformation to digital now so visibly under way are moving intellectual property (IP) centre stage as all businesses become software companies.

[...]

Waiving LOT membership fees suggests expectations are defensive rather offensive. In this use case, access to a large defensive portfolio like Microsoft’s Azure IP Advantage should also be considered.

He’s promoting Microsoft’s protection racket, “Azure IP Advantage” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20] as well as LOT Network.

Elsewhere in the news, e.g. these two pages [1, 2] (“IBM Receives Six Blockchain Related Patents In One Week”) we’re seeing patent thug IBM. It is still harvesting bogus software patents by calling them “blockchain”, “AI”, and “cloud”. In this particular example:

IBM is actively working on innovations in the distributed ledger technology (DLT). In the span of a week, the US tech giant was awarded six blockchain-related patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Two of the patents were awarded on Thursday, while four patent applications were approved last week.

“Blockchain” has become a catch-all phrase for “database” in some contexts (or simply storage). Servers are “cloud”. Algorithms are “AI”. Watch what Typerium is doing [1, 2]; it’s pursuing bogus software patents that PTAB would likely reject as abstract under Section 101, but with words like “Innovative” and “Blockchain” maybe these applications will be successful. Blockchain has become the hype/buzzword of choice these days [1, 2], especially in the financial sector when one seeks patents on software/business methods.

Software patents on DRM, for example, are something to be condemned, not hailed/celebrated. But what happens when the term “blockchain” is thrown in [1
2]? CoinGeek and other cryptocurrency-centric sites were absolutely giddy about it [1, 2, 3]. nChain pretends that it is “Open Source”, but actually it’s a force for bogus software patents (even in Europe or the EPO). No such thing can ever help Free/Open Source software and because the patents pertain to digital rights management (DRM) it couldn’t get any worse. “nChain,” one item says, “the global leader in research and development of blockchain technologies, is pleased to announce issuance of another three patents by the European Patent Office. These three patents, issued on July 11, 2018, are all methods to enforce digital rights through the use of blockchain technology.”

Watch the EPO falling for buzzwords:

European Patent (EP) No. 3295349, entitled “A method and system for verifying integrity of a digital asset using a distributed hash table and a peer-to-peer distributed ledger,” describes a system that uses a standard BCH transaction, with additional metadata, to reference an entry within an external distributed hash table (DHT). To show the integrity of a digital asset, its signatures must align with the signatures on the DHT as well as the signature on the blockchain transaction itself.

The second patent, EP3295362, is for “A method and system for verifying ownership of a digital asset using a distributed hash table and a peer-to-peer distributed ledger.” Just as its name suggests, this invention adds another set of cryptographic operations based on the first patent’s technique to validate a digital asset’s current owner.

Finally, there’s EP 3295350. This invention, titled “A method and system for verifying ownership of a digital asset using a distributed hash table and a peer-to-peer distributed ledger,” is described as a logical extension of the technique in EP 3295362, which allows a computer software to check the user’s right to execute it before the software is launched.

Why are these patents being granted? That’s software! Here’s more from Bitcoin News:

The blockchain technologies research and development firm, Nchain, has acquired three new patents that have been issued by the European Patent Office. The company’s latest intellectual property invented by Nchain’s chief scientist, Dr. Craig Wright, cover “digital rights management using blockchain.”

nChain, as we noted here before, seems to be doing nothing but harvesting software patents (even at the EPO where it’s not allowed). It’s even buying patents. Lawsuits to come? It these patents ever get tested in courts (in Europe or elsewhere), expect them to perish. But at what cost to innocent defendants?

PTAB Defended by the EFF, the R Street Institute and CCIA as the Number of Petitions (IPRs) Continues to Grow

Monday 16th of July 2018 02:52:02 AM

Things one can accomplish with pen and paper just aren’t patent-eligible anymore

Summary: Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) come to the rescue when patently-bogus patents are used, covering totally abstract concepts (like software patents do); IPRs continue to increase in number and opponents of PTAB, who conveniently cherry-pick Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions, can’t quite stop that

THE encouraging developments at the USPTO mostly revolve around invalidations. And why? Because many patents had been granted in error over the decades, all this (or most of this) prior to AIA, whereupon many of these were taken away. It’s no secret that the EFF speaks out in support of PTAB, for instance, which is why the anti-PTAB lobby hates the EFF so viscerally. PTAB basically helps raise patent quality in the US. PTAB is being regularly defended by the EFF and also by the R Street Institute and CCIA, as the EFF noted a few days ago. To quote:

It’s already much too difficult to invalidate bad patents—the kind that never should have been issued in the first place. Now, unfortunately, the Patent Office has proposed regulation changes that will make it even harder. That’s the wrong path to take. This week, EFF submitted comments [PDF] opposing the Patent Office’s proposal.

Congress created some new kinds of Patent Office proceedings as part of the America Invents Act (AIA) of 2011. That was done with the goal of improving patent quality by giving third parties the opportunity to challenge patents at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, or PTAB. EFF used one of these proceedings, known as inter partes review, to successfully challenge a patent that had been used to sue podcasters.

Congress didn’t explicitly say how these judges should interpret patent claims in AIA proceedings. But the Patent Office, until recently, read the statute as EFF still does: it requires the office to interpret patent claims in PTAB challenges the same way it does in all other proceedings. That approach requires giving the words of a patent claim their broadest reasonable interpretation (BRI). That’s different than the approach used in federal courts, which apply a standard that can produce a claim of narrower scope.

Using the BRI approach in AIA proceedings makes sense. Critically, it ensures the Patent Office reviews a wide pool of prior art (publications and products that pre-date the patent application). If the patent owner thinks this pool is too broad, it can amend claims to narrow their scope and avoid invalidating prior art. Requiring patent owners to amend their claims to avoid invalidating prior art encourages innovation and deters baseless litigation by giving the public clearer notice about what the patent does and does not claim.

[...]

We hope the Patent Office will reconsider its proposal, after considering our comments, as well as those submitted by the R Street Institute and CCIA, a technology trade group. Administrative judges must remain empowered to weed out those patents that should never have issued in the first place.

We regularly take note of the good work of the EFF (recent examples [1, 2]). It wasn’t always the case because the strategy/policy of the EFF used to be a tad different when it comes to software patents. One reader sent us the pointer to an article titled “No, you can’t patent the ability to pause a lesson recording, EFF says” (relating to the original from the EFF, which we mentioned before). Here’s their latest target:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has stepped up to represent a small, independent online language teacher who has been threatened with a lawsuit by a British publisher that claims the teacher is infringing an American patent issued back in 2000 for a particular audio-based teaching technique.

What’s the secret sauce? Amazingly, the use of a pause button to temporarily stop the lesson.

Well, software patents are a stain on the patent system. The Office ought to stop granting these, as per Alice. But will it? At the moment many rely on courts (or PTAB) to do this. This is why courts have been coming under many attacks from patent maximalists. It’s pretty ugly to watch.

With borderline abuse, patent maximalists still try (almost every day) to discourage me from writing about patents. Little do they know that they only embolden me; if it upsets them, it means there’s impact. They just don’t like to see the “other side” expressing its views, hence the attacks on the EFF as well.

Dealing with two SCOTUS decisions regarding PTAB, this upcoming webinar has been titled “Protecting and Licensing University Patents in a Post-Oil States and SAS World” (they allude to immunity universities typically enjoy).

Michael Loney has meanwhile written about the latter decision, under a headline which later extended from “SAS appeal – how the Federal Circuit has interpreted PTAB cases” to “SAS appeal – how the Federal Circuit has interpreted PTAB cases since Supreme Court ruling” (why this revision? Clarity?).

We recently mentioned how they obsess over SAS rather than Oil States, the far more important decision.

All this cherry-picking of SCOTUS cases is quite revealing, as was yesterday’s promotion of a Practising Law Institute (PLI) webcast on WesternGeco. Loney’s colleague, Sanjana Kapila, is trying to figure out what Trump’s SCOTUS ‘coup’ means for patents, especially knowing what Gorsuch said about SAS and Oil States. Well, initially an "unknown" on the subject of patents, Gorsuch has thus far been a total disaster. As many feared, he now parrots talking points from think tanks funded by the Koch Brothers. To quote Kapila’s article:

The US Supreme Court ruled on three intellectual property cases this term, all concerning patents. This was far fewer than the eight IP cases in the previous term.

Loney is meanwhile taking note of key PTAB decisions, remarking that “PTAB designates five informative decisions” and to quote:

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has designated five decisions as informative, two ex parte review and three inter partes review decisions

Dennis Crouch also listed these cases. He wrote: “The USPTO has recently designated five PTAB decisions as “informative.” (I have also included the recent Western Digital decision as well).”

On the 12th of July Loney revealed that filings/petitions (IPRs) were on the “up”, still. That means more patents being scrutinised. Here are the numbers:

June included an increase in Patent Trial and Appeal Board petition filing, two PTAB-related bills being introduced in Congress and the first reversal of a PGR final written decision

The first half of 2018 ended with 817 petitions filed at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, up from 766 in the second half of 2017.

The Federal Circuit weighs in occasionally. Here’s a new example of “CBM Decision Vacated: the patent does not qualify as a covered business method.”

To quote Crouch:

Apple and Google both challenged ContentGuard’s U.S. Patent 7,774,280 under the Covered Business Method Post Grant Review proceedings. The challenges raised eligibility, novelty, and obviousness challenges to several of the claims, but the Director (acting via the PTAB) only partially instituted: instituting only on novelty and obviousness, and only to three of the claims. In the end, the PTAB found those claims obvious, but also allowed the patentee to add Claim 37 as a substitute for Claim 1 and found the new claim valid (not proven invalid).

On appeal, the Federal Circuit ruled the entire event a nullity — finding that the patent does not qualify as a covered business method. See Versata Dev. Grp., Inc. v. SAP Am., Inc., 793 F.3d 1306, 1323 (Fed. Cir. 2015) and Unwired Planet, LLC v. Google Inc., 841 F.3d 1376, 1379 (Fed. Cir. 2016). A key case on point is also Secure Axcess, LLC v. PNC Bank National Ass’n, 848 F.3d 1370, 1381 (Fed. Cir. 2017). However, that case was vacated as moot by the Supreme Court in PNC Bank Nat. Ass’n v. Secure Axcess, LLC, 138 S. Ct. 1982 (2018).

The “Transitional Program for Covered Business Method Patents” is not codified within the United States Code (35 U.S.C. ___) because it is only a temporary program that sunsets in September 2020. Thus, the CBM program is generally cited as Section 18 of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act.

Factual errors in Patently-O (not for the first time, either) were later noted by Patently-O itself. “On July 11,” Crouch said, “I wrote about the recent Federal Circuit decision in Apple v. ContentGuard. My post erroneously stated that the court found that the patent does not qualify as a “covered business method” patent. The court did not take that bold of a step of a reversal. Rather, the court vacated the PTAB’s finding that was based upon an improper legal standard and remanded for a reconsideration.”

This was mentioned some hours ago by Watchtroll.

Google too is involved in this fight because it is also affected. And after all, Google too has challenged ContentGuard’s patent number 7,774,280. Google is just harvesting patents nowadays (new example from the news); it is patenting software, relying on patents that restrict Public Domain material/knowledge and occasionally Google sues as well. One day PTAB will turn against Google itself, rendering its own patents invalid as well.

IAM/Joff Wild May Have Become a de Facto Media Partner of the Patent Troll iPEL

Monday 16th of July 2018 01:53:08 AM

Now producing a puff piece every week

Summary: Invitation to trolls in China, courtesy of the patent trolls’ lobby called “IAM”; this shows no signs of stopping and has become rather blatant

THE legal terrain in the US has become trolls-hostile, as we last noted yesterday. Having run short of opportunities in the gradually-reformed US (especially the courts, not the USPTO), some patent trolls now look at China for litigation opportunities. That includes iPEL, an unethical troll which calls itself “ethical” and even trademarked this term (“ethical NPE”).

“That includes iPEL, an unethical troll which calls itself “ethical” and even trademarked this term (“ethical NPE”).”Joff Wild and his colleagues/writers/lobbying team have been doing puff pieces for iPEL, e.g. [1, 2]; the matter of fact is that almost nobody else writes about it and they speak directly to the troll, issuing puff pieces (and threats) every week or so. Yesterday’s latest puff piece was about “game-changing patent case” and by “game” they mean “trolling”. To quote:

After all, $100 million of damages from one company indicates that there is considerable further upside in the wider industry or sector the patents cover. To hand over the ability to tap that amount of revenue for anything other than a huge sum of money would be extremely careless – to say the least. From what I know of the likes of Huawei, ZTE and others that iPEL has bought from, such as Panasonic, it’s hard to see them doing such a thing.

Although Yates has been a long-time player in the US monetisation [trolling] market – and filed over 500 suits during 2015 and 2016, before falling foul of Judge Gilstrap in the Eastern District of Texas last year – he does not seem to have done much work in China up to now. It is likely, though, that he has done plenty of research and spoken to a lot of people. They would surely have told him that discretion is the better part of valour in a jurisdiction that, although it generally treats plaintiffs well, is increasingly complex and political.

Yeah, trolls are “increasingly complex and political.” So are extortion rackets.

We suppose many of our readers already know what IAM stands for (e.g. lies for Battistelli and EPO revisionism). But one must understand that these people are shown in “news” feeds and apparently pay other sites to reprint this tosh.

“We cannot stress strongly enough that media covering patent issues is in an appalling state. It’s almost entirely PR; there’s barely any investigative, critical journalism in this domain.”Patent Docs is another mouthpiece of patent maximalists’ agenda. Webinars from the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) and other proponents of software patents are still being advertised there this weekend (coming soon). It’s quite fitting that patent lawyers nowadays use the term “unclean hands” (brought up a lot recently). Webinars like this upcoming one deal with questions such as: “How will Supplemental Examination effect both unclean hands and inequitiable conduct?”

We cannot stress strongly enough that media covering patent issues is in an appalling state. It’s almost entirely PR; there’s barely any investigative, critical journalism in this domain. In the case of IAM, it’s borderline lobbying, pure and simple.

Cautionary Tale: ILO Administrative Tribunal Cases (Appeals) ‘Intercepted’ Under António Campinos

Sunday 15th of July 2018 04:03:24 PM

Summary: The ILO Administrative Tribunal (ILO-AT) is advertised by the EPO‘s management as access to justice, but it’s still being undermined quite severely to the detriment of aggrieved staff

THE NEW President of the EPO, António Campinos, is still not complying with ILO-AT judgments. It’s problematic for a lot of reasons and sources of ours already give up on him (or concede hope that he will fix things that matter). Actions are needed; it has already been half a month.

Earlier this year we saw links to some tweets of somebody called Anette Koch, who came out in Twitter, revealing grievances she had experienced at the EPO. Just before the weekend we saw more links (or retweets) from EPO-connected accounts to documents that we decided to publish yesterday. These documents, or rather a two-page letter (E-mail/s), confirmed our suspicions that when it comes to justice Campinos and Battistelli might be indistinguishable.

“These documents, or rather a two-page letter (E-mail/s), confirmed our suspicions that when it comes to justice Campinos and Battistelli might be indistinguishable.”So we attempted to contact the person in question. It wasn’t hard because the E-mail appeared in the above documents. We now have a better understanding of what’s going on and would like to share what the EPO under Campinos is doing.

“The EPO attempts to jeopardize three of my cases with the Tribunal by arbitrarily re-starting them in internal appeal and inviting me for comments,” Koch responded to my E-mail, “[so] of course I will comment to the Tribunal only. Please note that the Tribunal did not refer them back to the EPO, i.e. the EPO acts on its own initiative.”

Remittance before judgments can even be reached? That’s odd. How many more people might this be done to? It wouldn’t be so shocking if the EPO, under instructions from high-level management (maybe Campinos himself or HR itself), is just mass-mailing this to a lot of complainants.

“I am sick and tired of this type of bullying,” Koch told me, “I have pain in my stomach and in my right wrist currently, so I have to be short.”

“Remittance before judgments can even be reached?”It doesn’t look as though the EPO changes in any concrete way under Campinos. I gave him a chance, I really did; I wanted to think that things were going to improve at least in the sense that the social climate might change. But they’re still panicking. Staff still suffers. SUEPO representatives, victims of union-busting efforts, are still in limbo.

It’s worth noting that the document (or documents, a few E-mails) was produced well after Campinos had taken over and, if so and considering the circumstances, who is most culpable (or to blame) here? The legal department, HR, or someone else?

Campinos has been President since the first of July. The documents (E-mails) are dated 9th of July and 10th of July, respectively. While the decision mentioned could still have been taken by Mr. Battistelli, the new President should normally have been informed. He is welcome to stop this.

“While the decision mentioned could still have been taken by Mr Battistelli, the new President should normally have been informed. He is welcome to stop this.”The crucial legal points are: (i) a lower judicial instance cannot re-start a case under appeal on its own initiative (notwithstanding the non-judicial character of the EPO which is a party to these cases), (ii) in the E-mails the IAC clearly threatens to adopt the current procedural rules (it points to them), i.e. all its members can be nominated by the President only or determined by lots. To adopt the current rules contravenes the principle of non-retroactivity, obliging the EPO to follow the Service Regulations at the time of filing internal appeals at which part of IAC members were still to be nominated by the CSC (where’s the IAC’s “independence” otherwise?).

“The effect of such E-mails on my health is significant,” Koch told me, “i.e. pain in my stomach, neck, wrist and elbow.”

It’s bad enough that the EPO’s poor facilities have already caused many disabilities at the EPO (we wrote about it before). It’s even worse that those people get ‘discarded’ once the EPO ‘breaks’ them and these people are then denied access to justice. What kind of employer is this? Persistent rumours suggest that the EPO isn’t even hiring anymore; it only pretends to, i.e. it’s wasting people’s time and making them nervous without any prospects of a job.

“This further reaffirms SUEPO’s allegation (from a couple of weeks back) that ILO-AT “remains very much an employer’s court” (not employees’) because it’s often doing whatever EPO management wants it to do.”Remarking on the above, Koch replied to our query by asserting that “the main aim of all this is of course to prevent treatment of my cases in substance by the Tribunal, by having them referred back to the IAC, i.e by delay. This would be another catastrophe, and I have to do everything I still can to prevent this [...] it’s about the EPO’s and partly the ILOAT’s way of proceeding, not about me in person [...] Yet it is new (in my cases) and utterly absurd that the IAC simply restarts cases in internal appeal on its own motion, even without the Tribunal referring them back to the IAC (at least SUEPO did not report such cases yet).”

This further reaffirms SUEPO’s allegation (from a couple of weeks back) that ILO-AT “remains very much an employer’s court” (not employees’) because it’s often doing whatever EPO management wants it to do. It doesn’t really feel impartial and decisions get delayed at the request of the EPO.

Asking the USPTO to Comply With 35 U.S.C. § 101 is Like Asking Pentagon Officials to Pursue Real, Persistent Peace

Sunday 15th of July 2018 06:15:46 AM

Related: Michael Frakes and Melissa Wasserman Complain About Low Patent Quality While Watchtroll Lobbies to Lower It Further


These cost $132,000 each about 60 years ago (more than $3 million by today’s money)

Summary: Some profit from selling weapons, whereas others profit from patent grants and litigation; what’s really needed right now is patent sanity and adherence to the public interest as well as the law itself, e.g. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions

THE SCOTUS ruling on Alice more than 4 years ago ought to have sufficed. It ought to have stopped software patent grants in the US. Sadly, however, parties often need to appeal to the Federal Circuit (very expensive) in order for such patents to be intercepted; sometimes a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes review (IPR) would suffice, but not always. Then there are overzealous courts like the tribunal of ITC, which impose sanctions even in defiance of PTAB. For small businesses in particular, PTAB is all they can afford. Embargoes to them may mean life or death. They may declare bankruptcy overnight.

“Then there are overzealous courts like the tribunal of ITC, which impose sanctions even in defiance of PTAB.”In spite of Mayo, another SCOTUS decision that shaped 35 U.S.C. § 101, the USPTO is still granting patents on life itself (the EPO increasingly does this too, in arrogant defiance of the EPC). Here is a press release that is only a few days old:

Inscripta Granted Patents for CRISPR Gene-Editing Systems

Inscripta, a leading gene-editing technology company, today announced two significant milestones. First, the USPTO granted Inscripta its first patent covering systems using MAD7, the company’s first free CRISPR enzyme, as well as patent coverage for systems using another MADzyme, MAD2. Second, Inscripta released new data run by external partners showing MAD7 can edit mammalian cells.

“Today marks a major step forward in the gene-editing revolution we started seven months ago when we released our own, unique CRISPR enzyme (MAD7),” said Kevin Ness, CEO of Inscripta. “We and our partners have shown that MAD7 is an effective tool in editing microbial and mammalian cells. All researchers, both academics and industrial scientists alike, can use MAD7 confidently, and Inscripta is committed to providing a license to its related patents for customers to perform free research and development using the enzyme.”

Why was this granted? Need someone petition PTAB now (IPR)? Does someone have the financial incentive to do so? We sure hope so. Otherwise we need to wait for some court battle, knowing that Inscripta might prey on small companies that simply cannot afford court battles (and would rather shell out ‘protection money’). This kind of patent would do no good; if facilitates nothing except shakedown (a form of extortion) or patently frivolous litigation. The US does not, in principle, allow CRISPR monopolies. There are SCOTUS precedents to that effect.

“This kind of patent would do no good; if facilitates nothing except shakedown (a form of extortion) or patently frivolous litigation.”Cellspin Soft, Inc. v Fitbit, a case that we mentioned days ago in this post, is now being covered by Michael Borella (McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP) in Patent Docs (reposted here, maybe for a fee so as to appear more widely). Here’s the part relevant to 35 U.S.C. § 101 although the more interesting angle is the possibility that the plaintiff will get punished for frivolous litigation. Quoting Borella:

Cellspin sued Fitbit and thirteen other defendants in the Northern District of California alleging infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,738,794, 8,892,752, 9,749,847, and 9,258,698. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, alleging invalidity of the patents under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

As we said some days ago (for the second time), we hope this case can become a deterrent against frivolous litigation in the US, but we can’t quite count on it. Many courts, especially the lower ones, don’t pursue fact-finding. Instead they let juries decide. It’s pretty silly to do patent trials by jury, for reasons we’ve explained many times before (many in the jury are incapable of understanding the technical details inside patent claims), yet here we are in Mass Engineered Design, Inc. v Planar Systems, Inc. — the case which now potentially deals with treble ‘damages’ over alleged infringement. As Docket Navigator put it yesterday:

The court granted plaintiff’s motion in limine under FRE 403 to preclude defendant from telling the jury that damages could be enhanced or trebled at a willfulness retrial and rejected defendant’s argument that its supplier’s indemnification agreement should similarly be excluded.

What does the jury know? These aren’t professionals in the said field? It’s understandable that juries can decide cases like homicide or drug sale/use, but patents? Seriously?

“If the ultimate goal is justice rather than profit, then the status quo is “unfit for purpose” (i.e. not good enough) and always favours deep-pocketed corporations as well as law firms.”In another new development, in Shire LLC et al v Abhai LLC, “[t]The court granted in part plaintiffs’ motion for discovery sanctions and sanctioned defendant $1.5 million after defendant disclosed corrected stability dissolution testing data during a bench trial,” according to this new Docket Report.

The way things stand at the moment — and we shall elaborate on that later in the week — patent justice isn’t easy to find in the US. The law is still dominated by law firms (they write the law by lobbying/lobbyists) and patent examiners are better rewarded for granting a lot of patents rather than rejecting most. If the ultimate goal is justice rather than profit, then the status quo is “unfit for purpose” (i.e. not good enough) and always favours deep-pocketed corporations as well as law firms. The latter want eternal war.

BT and Sonos Are Still Patent Bullies, Seeing Patents as a Backup Plan

Sunday 15th of July 2018 05:12:46 AM

They have their media cheerleaders, too

Summary: The companies seeking to complement their business (or make up for their demise) using patents are still suing rivals while calling that litigation “research and development” (the same old euphemism)

BOLSTERED by patents from the EPO and USPTO (BT had also lobbied India to allow its dubious patents on software about a decade ago), BT continued with its patent aggression some days ago. It’s a regrettable strategy which isn’t entirely new at all [1, 2] (we have been covering examples for half a decade).

As WIPR put it last week, BT nowadays chooses the popular District of Delaware for litigation:

Telecommunications company BT has accused cybersecurity software developer Fortinet of infringing five patents relating to network security.

BT filed its complaint at the US District Court for the District of Delaware on Tuesday, July 10.

According to the lawsuit, BT is the oldest telecommunications company in the world. It annually spends more than £500 million ($660.7 million) on research and development, which BT said has led to “numerous patents” being granted.

They drop the talking point about “research and development” whenever they seek to euphemise “patent monopolies”. BT has a long and colourful history of monopoly abuse, not only in the UK but also abroad (colonialism contributed to that).

Then comes IAM’s Richard Lloyd. Being a lobbyist for patent trolls and aggressors, his headline says this act of aggression “shows how cyber security is becoming big patent business” (extortion, more so than “business”).

“They drop the talking point about “research and development” whenever they seek to euphemise “patent monopolies”.”BT, according to him “has launched a lawsuit in US district court accusing a Silicon Valley based cyber security company of infringing five of its patents. According to the complaint, which was filed earlier this week in Delaware, BT contacted Fortinet in late 2014 and claimed that it infringed on two of the patents-in-suit. Despite writing to the company on three separate occasions through 2015 and again in early 2016, Fortinet did not respond to any communication until February 2016 via its outside counsel. According the court filing, it did not provide any meaningful explanation for why its products did not infringe the pair of patents.”

So this goes back almost half a decade ago (2014), i.e. the time we first covered BT’s patent assaults on companies which do Free/libre software, including SIP, Android and so on. Will we see BT reduced to drone strikes (assassinations) and ‘trolling’ (e.g. passing patents to patent trolls) as means of “doing business”? Hopefully not. But it seems to be gravitating in that direction.

“Will we see BT reduced to drone strikes (assassinations) and ‘trolling’ (e.g. passing patents to patent trolls) as means of “doing business”?”We have meanwhile learned that Sonos, a patent aggressor which hired former senior IBM and Microsoft patents executive Tanya Moore (she left earlier this year), is boasting about patent aggression again, claiming revenue derived from lawsuits. It says that “Sonos owns 630 issued patents, and 570 applications. It invests heavily in R&D.” R&D (“research and development”, as above) is just a euphemism for patents; further down it says “Innovative Business Model With Patents”. Sonos sued rivals, e.g. in 2014.

When your business is patents more than actual products (example from last week’s news) maybe you’re not really producing a compelling product and instead preying on other people’s work/sales.

Jim Skippen, a Longtime Patent Troll, Admits That the Trolling Sector is Collapsing

Sunday 15th of July 2018 04:27:06 AM

Summary: Canada’s biggest patent troll (WiLAN) bar BlackBerry doesn’t seem to be doing too well as its CEO leaves the domain altogether

IAM, which is sponsored by MOSAID, writes about patent troll Jim Skippen (as it habitually does), who came from there to another troll, WiLAN, last mentioned here a few days ago in relation to its latest shakedown. According to him, says IAM, “the licensing [trolling] market” should get “used to the new normal,” in which even the father of patent trolling and his firm are both dead (literally). From the outline:

Last month Quaterhill announced that Jim Skippen, CEO of its WiLAN subsidiary [proxy], was retiring after more than a decade leading the business [sic]. Skippen was instrumental in turning the Ottawa-based NPE [troll] into a patent licensing [trolling] business [sic] which today has a portfolio [arsenal] of thousands of assets [USPTO-granted patents] and one of the leading players in the monetisation [trolling] market [sic]. Having joined from MOSAID, now Conversant [sponsor of IAM], where he served as general counsel and senior vice president of patent licensing [trolling], Skippen has had as good a view as anyone of how things have evolved over the last 20 years.

The terrain for trolling has changed. Skippen recognised it and stepped down (maybe got demoted/fired). He has clearly too young to have willfully retired. “My undergraduate courses were focused on computer science, and after law school in the mid-1980s I went to work as an associate in a technology transfer practice under Fraser Mann,” he told IAM 3 years ago (they keep promoting him, not mentioning the financial relations). So he’s probably in his fifties.

“His accomplishment was basically the massive handover of patents from practicing firms to parasites.”“WiLAN controls approximately 15,000 patents,” according to Wikipedia. His accomplishment was basically the massive handover of patents from practicing firms to parasites. Well done, Jim! He used to be connected with Nokia (about a decade ago), where Microsoft arranged to pass a lot of patents to MOSAID (more than half a decade ago). Having been renamed “Conversant”, this classic patent troll habitually attacks companies that distribute Linux. So Jim’s legacy is just a big stain.

From East Asia to the Eastern District of Texas: XYZ Printing, Maxell, and X2Y Attenuators

Sunday 15th of July 2018 03:31:32 AM


Permanent/archived copy

Summary: The patent aggression, which relies on improper litigation venues, harms innocent parties a great deal; only their lawyers benefit from all this mess

THIS WEEKEND we shall focus on USPTO news, then release some new material about the EPO. But before we get around to it all, we’d like to highlight the above post, which someone brought to our attention yesterday. It’s an attack on Open Source and it’s happening in China, courtesy of XYZ Printing, an entity we’ve never mentioned before. What is it exactly? Is XYZ Printing just another patent troll as alleged above?

“As it turns out, it’s yet another patent lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas. And against Chinese companies!”Speaking of which, Bing Zhao, who typically writes about China for the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM), wrote about Maxell a few days ago (it’s a Japanese company that manufactures consumer electronics). As it turns out, it’s yet another patent lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas. And against Chinese companies! It shows that for companies to operate anywhere near there is a major liability/risk. More so after TC Heartland (although the applicability to foreign companies is limited, as per recent Federal Circuit decisions). It has become very unwise for any company — US-based or foreign — to have any sorts of operations in Texas, whose patent agenda has clearly backfired.

“Yes, the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) is always eager to give publicity to, i.e. amplify, the aggressors, not the defendants. This is what IAM exists for.”“Earlier this month,” Zhao wrote, “Maxell won a $43.3 million damages award against ZTE in the Eastern District of Texas. It was the first jury decision for the Japanese electronics company, formerly a unit of Hitachi, since it began a US patent enforcement campaign back in 2016, with Huawei and ZTE as its initial targets. The company still has pending US patent suits against companies including Huawei, Asus and BlackBerry. IAM had an exclusive sit-down interview in Tokyo with Tatsuya Yamamoto, senior manager, IP licensing and legal at Maxell, to hear his insights into the company’s current enforcement campaign and its overall patent strategy.”

Yes, the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) is always eager to give publicity to, i.e. amplify, the aggressors, not the defendants. This is what IAM exists for. See who’s funding it.

“These sorts of issues need to be tackled because when entities simply wrestle with (or twist) patent law justice itself is the principal casualty.”It has meanwhile been noted that patent thugs try to find artistic new ways for venue shifting (after TC Heartland). Citing X2Y Attenuators, LLC v Intel Corporation as a new example, Docket Navigator writes: “The court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss for improper venue because defendant did not have a regular and established place of business by placing four employees at a university lab in the district.”

In spite of the “LLC” and a similar mame to “XYZ Printing” at the top, X2Y Attenuators is not a troll. It’s also not about software patents. But it seemingly looks for the big bucks from Intel, even in an improper venue.

These sorts of issues need to be tackled because when entities simply wrestle with (or twist) patent law justice itself is the principal casualty.

Links 14/7/2018: Mesa 18.1.4, Elisa 0.2.1, More on Python’s Guido van Rossum

Sunday 15th of July 2018 02:31:54 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Nintendo Found a Way to Patch an Unpatchable Coldboot Exploit in Nintendo Switch

    If you plan on buying a Nintendo Switch gaming console to run Linux on it using the “unpatchable” exploit publicly disclosed a few months ago, think again because Nintendo reportedly fixed the security hole.

    Not long ago, a team of hackers calling themselves ReSwitched publicly disclosed a security vulnerability in the Nvidia Tegra X1 chip, which they called Fusée Gelée and could allow anyone to hack a Nintendo Switch gaming console to install a Linux-based operating system and run homebrew code and apps using a simple trick.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Foundation
      • Linux Foundation Brings Power of Open Source to Energy Sector

        The Linux Foundation launched on July 12 its latest effort—LF Energy, an open-source coalition for the energy and power management sector.

        The LF Energy coalition is being backed by French transmission system operation RTE, Vanderbilt University and the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E). With LF Energy, the Linux Foundation is aiming to replicate the success it has seen in other sectors, including networking, automotive, financial services and cloud computing.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Libinput Gets Reworked Trackpoint Acceleration

        Peter Hutterer at Red Hat is trying again to get trackpoint acceleration performing nicely under the libinput library so trackpoints behave nicely across Wayland, X.Org, and Mir systems.

        Hutterer believes now that libinput’s previous trackpoint acceleration code was “simply broken”, but he believes this new code is on the right track and supports a wider configuration range.

      • libinput has a new trackpoint acceleration

        Just a heads-up, I just merged a branch that fixes trackpoint acceleration
        in libinput. The previous approach was simply broken, the new one is quite
        similar to what we had before anyway – calculating speed from the deltas and
        applying the acceleration curve from that. The curve is adjusted for
        trackpoints with a relatively wide configurable range.

      • Mir 0.32.1 Released With Launcher For Internal Wayland Clients, Fixes

        Canonical developers working on Mir have prepared the release of Mir 0.32.1 with a few fixes and improvements off the recent release of Mir 0.32.

        The Mir abstraction library (libmiral) now has a launcher for internal Wayland clients and the MirAL shell has reinstated the “spinner” in Wayland for when starting the shell. There are also several bug fixes pertaining to Mir’s Wayland and Mesa support in this point release.

      • Wayland 1.16 & Weston 5.0 Reach Alpha

        Samsung’s Derek Foreman has announced the alpha release of Wayland 1.16 as well as the Weston 5.0 reference compositor.

        As is often the case with recent Wayland releases, they are not all that large. Wayland 1.16 Alpha does away with the deprecated wl_global definition, fixes various oddities, the Wayland code generator now supports foreign enums, and updated contribution documentation.

      • mesa 18.1.4

        Hi list,

        Mesa 18.1.4 is now available for download.

        In this release we have:
        – Several fixes for i965
        – Several fixes for anv
        – A few fixes each for radeonsi, glx, the glsl compiler, the autotools build,
        nir, st/dri, and r600

        Dylan

      • Mesa 18.1.4 Released With Fixes For Intel & Radeon Drivers

        For those abiding by Mesa stable releases, Mesa 18.1.4 is now available — in time for updating prior to any weekend Linux gaming or other activities — for these open-source OpenGL/Vulkan driver components.

        Mesa 18.1.4 truth be told isn’t all that of an exciting release, unless you happened to be affected by any of the just over two dozen fixes incorporated into this timed point release.

      • Raven Ridge Support Posted For AMDKFD Compute Driver

        Felix Kuehling of AMD sent out the remaining six patches for getting the AMD Raven Ridge (Ryzen APUs) working with the AMDKFD kernel compute driver so that the ROCm/OpenCL user-space compute stack can be run on these new APUs.

      • Radeon RX Vega Display Regression Fix Heading To Linux 4.18 Git

        If you have been part of the group of Radeon RX Vega Linux users trying out Linux 4.18 and finding your display no longer lights up, heading to Linux 4.18 Git should be a fix for at least some of the users.

        Sent out on Friday was a batch of AMDGPU DRM-Fixes-4.18. It’s just three fixes, but two of them are pertaining to display problems and the other a segmentation fault if the GPU does not power up properly when resuming the system.

      • Marek Squeezes More Performance Out Of RadeonSI In CPU-Bound Scenarios

        AMD’s leading open-source RadeonSI Gallium3D developer, Marek Olšák, sent out a new patch series this week aiming to benefit this Radeon OpenGL driver’s performance in CPU-bound scenarios.

        The patch series is a set of command submission optimizations aimed to help trivial CPU-bound benchmarks to varying extents. In the very trivial glxgears, the patch series is able to improve the maximum frame-rates by around 10%.

      • Intel Sends In A Final Batch Of DRM Feature Updates Targeting Linux 4.19

        After several big feature pull requests of new “i915″ Intel DRM driver features landing in DRM-Next for Linux 4.19, the Intel open-source developers have sent in what they believe to be their last batch of feature changes for queuing this next kernel cycle.

    • Benchmarks
      • Vulkan vs. OpenGL Performance For Linux Games

        It has been a while since last publishing some Linux GPU driver benchmarks focused explicitly on the OpenGL vs. Vulkan performance, but that changed today with a fresh look at the performance between these two Khronos graphics APIs when tested with AMD and NVIDIA hardware on the latest RadeonSI/RADV and NVIDIA Linux graphics drivers.

  • Applications
    • The Best Linux VPNs of 2018

      If the 20th century was defined by an explosive growth in technology, then the 21st century is beginning to be defined by personal security, or more pointedly, a lack thereof. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), once mainly a site-to-site connection tool for IT professionals, have evolved to become personal services that let individual users connect to the internet by using encrypted traffic that prevents third parties from snooping on their web activities.

      This VPN evolution occurred because it has become increasingly easy for hackers to exploit constantly changing operating systems (OSes), applications, and networks. This means sophisticated tactics, such as man-in-the-middle attacks, aren’t just being aimed at businesses anymore. It’s happening to everyday folks who are frequenting their favorite coffee shop. This means these folks need to upgrade their security arsenal.

    • Winds – RSS and Podcast software created using React / Redux / Node

      Winds is billed as a beautiful, modern, open-source RSS Reader and Podcast app. It’s certainly garnishing attention among open source enthusiasts. It’s picked up over 5,000 stars on GitHub, so I’ve been putting this JavaScript software through its paces.

      Winds is cross-platform software. There are desktop apps available for Linux, macOS and Windows. There’s also a web version. The software is released under an open source license (BSD-3-Clause). It’s developed by GetStream.io (Stream), a Venture Capital backed company based in the US and the Netherlands.

    • Alacritty – A Fastest Terminal Emulator for Linux

      Alacritty is a free open-source, fast, cross-platform terminal emulator, that uses GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) for rendering, which implements certain optimizations that are not available in many other terminal emulators in Linux.

      Alacritty is focused on two goals simplicity and performance. The performance goal means, it should be speedy than any other terminal emulator available. The simplicity goal means, it doesn’t supports features such as tabs or splits (which can be easily provided by other terminal multiplexer – tmux) in Linux.

    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Wine or Emulation
    • Games
      • Don’t miss the GOG weekend sale which has some rather nice Linux games

        GOG are doing weekend sale celebrating French game studios and there’s quite a few really good Linux games worth picking up.

      • Third-person shooter with Battle Royale modes ‘Crazy Justice’ to launch towards the end of this month

        It’s seen a number of delays, along with repeated silence from the developer but it looks like Crazy Justice [Official Site] may finally arrive this month.

        After promising daily updates almost two weeks ago and then going silent, the developer Black Riddles Studio today put out an update on Twitter which gave an estimated release date of “anywhere between 20th-30th of July”.

      • What are you playing this weekend and what do you think about it?

        It’s the weekend and the sun is out, so naturally many of us will be staring at a bright screen playing the latest and greatest Linux games.

        I tend to go through phases of being attached to specific games for a few weeks before utterly burning myself out on them, currently Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has managed to hook me back in. It’s not exactly the newest game, but it still has such fluid and fun gameplay that there’s still really nothing else like it in the shooter scene.

      • ‘Hacknet’ Is Free on Steam Right Now
      • Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for PC+Rocket League+Ubuntu=Awesome

        I’m a gamer. I’ve been playing PC games since DOS, and have no plan to ever stop, thankfully there are an increasing number of wicked games available on GNU/Linux systems, like Rocket League for example.

        If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, and have no idea what Rocket League is, it’s basically Soccer/Football (other game modes have other sports, etc, but the primary focus is as mentioned) in super high powered, jet propulsed cars; it’s awesome. However, Rocket League is not very easily played via keyboard, and having some kind of controller is essential.

        I use an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller as my primary controller when playing games that support one on Linux.

      • Egosoft have confirmed that X4: Foundations will be on Linux

        Fantastic news for fans of Egosoft space simulation games, as they have now actually confirmed that X4: Foundations [Official Site] will be on Linux.

      • We Happy Few has a brand new trailer out

        We Happy Few, the action adventure from Compulsion Games and Gearbox Publishing looks rather promising in the brand new trailer.

      • Get your game on, in the browser

        The web is a gamer’s dream. It works on any device, can connect players across the globe, and can run a ton of games—from classic arcade games to old-school computer games. The web could be the best platform for gaming, and Firefox is the the best browser for gaming. Here’s why.

        [...]

        Firefox is the fastest and most efficient browser for gaming. Don’t believe us? Try out some of these games and see for yourself:

        The Internet Archive Mac Software Library – Do you miss those black-and-white games you used to play on your old Macintosh? The Internet Archive has worked to preserve many older, classic computer games so now you can play them in your browser.

        http://slither.io/ – This is a fun, MMO Snake-like game with good graphics, is in-browser, and also happens to have a really good Privacy Policy (we’re into stuff like that).

        Battlestar Galactica Online – Who’s a Cylon? Are you a Cylon? Find out.

        LEGO Online – Playing with LEGO IRL is awesome, but the toy maker has made some of the best console and computer games in the past decade. Now you can play some of them online.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • 0.2.1 Release of Elisa

        The Elisa team is happy to announce our new bugfix release, version 0.2.1.

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

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

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

      • More Konsole Updates: Tabs

        One of the things that every old application suffers is from old code. It’s easier to keep something that works than to move to something new, even if the final result is better. Take a look at the current Tabbar + Buttons of Konsole.

      • [Okular] GSoC 2018 – Second month status

        I am working on the GSoC project Verifying signatures of pdf files and since the last blog post I have made number of improvements. They are listed below.

        [...]

        This is a dialog similar to print preview dialog but instead of previewing what is about to be printed it loads the data covered by a signature in a read-only KPart. In its current state this dialog is pdf specific. This is problematic since okular is a universal document viewer. So I plan to make it a bit more generic.

      • Going to Akademy 2018
      • Chrome Browser Launching Mitigation for Spectre Attacks, The Linux Foundation Announces LF Energy Coalition, Kube 0.7.0 Now Available, New Android Apps for Nativ Vita Hi-Res Music Server and More

        Version 0.7.0 of Kube, the “modern communication and collaboration client”, is now available. Improvements include “a conversation view that allows you to read through conversations in chronological order”; “a conversation list that bundles all messages of a conversation (thread) together”; “automatic attachment of own public key”; “the account setup can be fully scripted through the sinksh commandline interface”; and more. See kube.kde.org for more info.

      • Release of KDE Frameworks 5.48.0

        July 14, 2018. KDE today announces the release of KDE Frameworks 5.48.0.

        KDE Frameworks are 70 addon libraries to Qt which provide a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. For an introduction see the Frameworks 5.0 release announcement.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.48 Brings KWayland Fixes & Many Other Improvements

        KDE Frameworks 5.48 is now the latest monthly update to this collection of add-on libraries complementing Qt5.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Carlos Soriano: Gtk4 Flatpak example

        As part of Ernestas Kulik work on porting Nautilus to gtk4 he has created a tagged entry widget to replace libgd tagged entry and eventually upstream to gtk proper. To give easy testing he created a Flatpak file for building a simple app with this widget, which serves as an example of how to create a simple app with gtk4 too.

      • Philip Withnall: GUADEC 2018 thoughts

        GUADEC this year was another good one; thank you to the organisers for putting on a great and welcoming conference, and to Endless for sending me.

        Unfortunately I couldn’t make the first two days due to a prior commitment, but I arrived on the Sunday in time to give my talks. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with the talks on Friday and Saturday — looking forward to seeing the recordings online!

        The slides for my talk on the state of GLib are here and the notes are here (source for them is here). I think the talk went fairly well, although I imagine it was quite boring for most involved — I’m not sure how to make new APIs particularly interesting to listen to!

      • Georges Basile Stavracas Neto: My Perspective on This Year’s GUADEC

        This year, I had the pleasure to attend GUADEC at Almeria, Spain. Lots of things happened, and I believe some of them are important to be shared with the greater community.

        [...]

        A big cleanup was merged during GUADEC. This probably will mean small adaptations in extensions, but I don’t particularly think it’s groundbreaking.

        At the second BoF day, me and Jonas Ådahl dived into the Remote Desktop on Wayland work to figure out a few bugs we were having. Fortunately, Pipewire devs were present and we figured out some deadlocks into the code. Jonas also gave a small lecture on how the KMS-based renderer of Wayland’s code path works (thanks!), and I feel I’m more educated in that somewhat complex part of the code.

        As of today, Carlos Garnacho’s paint volume rework was merged too, after extensive months of testing. It was a high-impact work, and certainly reduces Mutter’s CPU usage on certain situations.

        At the very last day, we talked about various ideas for further performance improvements and cleanups on Mutter and GNOME Shell. I myself am on the last steps of working on one of these ideas, and will write about it later.

        [...]

        Even though I was reluctant to go, this GUADEC turned out to be an excellent and productive event.

      • Daniel García Moreno: GUADEC 2018

        GUADEC is the GNOME Users And Developers European Conference, is an annual conference that take place in Europe, and this year was in Spain, so I should go. I’ve became a foundation member this year and I’ve two Google Summer of Code students from GNOME organization working on Fractal, so this year GUADEC was an important one for me.

      • Harish Fulara: [GSoC 2018] Welcome Window Integration in Pitivi – Part 4

        The next and the last task under “Welcome Window Integration in Pitivi” as per my GSoC project is to integrate project thumbnails in recent projects list. I am currently working on this task and hope to finish it by next week.

      • Application screenshots with Gitlab CI

        The fresh new tooling used for development in the GNOME project (gitlab, meson, docker, flatpak) has a lots of potential

      • Matthias Clasen: The Flatpak BoF at Guadec

        Here is a quick summary of the Flatpak BoF that happened last week at Guadec.

      • Flatpak 1.0 Is En Route For Linux App Sandboxing & Easy Program Distribution

        At the recent GUADEC 2018 conference in Spain, GNOME developers plotted the imminent Flatpak 1.0 release as well as what’s coming after the big 1.0 milestone.

      • More Mutter Performance Tuning Work Landing For GNOME 3.30

        GNOME 3.30 is looking like Mutter will be quite fit with the ability to remove its dependence on X11 code and various performance tuning optimizations. On top of already landed performance work in recent months, more optimizations have just landed and it looks like more could still be on the way.

        Most recently, as of this morning, this two month old GitLab request was merged about re-using paint volumes. From the last commit it explains, “Cuts down approximately all paint volume calculations when there’s windows that redraw frequently, but don’t move.”

  • Distributions
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Best open source business intelligence and analytics tools

    So what are some open source alternatives to these proprietary tools? And aside from cost what benefits can they bring? Here’s our pick of the market.

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: GraphQL Engine from Hasura

    With its open source release this week, GraphQL-as-a-Service company Hasura’s GraphQL Engine is looking to lift the burden on front-end and enterprise application developers who want to begin incorporating GraphQL’s data querying and manipulation capabilities in their preexisting Postgres-based applications without having to dig through the back-end of GraphQL’s code to implement it.

    ”GraphQL and the tooling around it dramatically increases the feature velocity for developer teams by reducing the communication required between them while developing new features,” the company wrote in this week’s announcement. “As a result, GraphQL servers are like self-documenting APIs that enable full API discoverability for the developers. This enables the front-end developers to make API requests, in order to introduce new features or change existing ones, in GraphQL without having to wait for back-end developer teams to deliver APIs and document the changes.”

  • FOSS Project Spotlight: Pydio Cells, an Enterprise-Focused File-Sharing Solution

    Pydio Cells is a brand-new product focused on the needs of enterprises and large organizations, brought to you from the people who launched the concept of the open-source file sharing and synchronization solution in 2008. The concept behind Pydio Cells is challenging: to be to file sharing what Slack has been to chats—that is, a revolution in terms of the number of features, power and ease of use.

    In order to reach this objective, Pydio’s development team has switched from the old-school development stack (Apache and PHP) to Google’s Go language to overcome the bottleneck represented by legacy technologies. Today, Pydio Cells offers a faster, more scalable microservice architecture that is in tune with dynamic modern enterprise environments.

    In fact, Pydio’s new “Cells” concept delivers file sharing as a modern collaborative app. Users are free to create flexible group spaces for sharing based on their own ways of working with dedicated in-app messaging for improved collaboration.

    In addition, the enterprise data management functionality gives both companies and administrators reassurance, with controls and reporting that directly answer corporate requirements around the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other tightening data protection regulations.

  • Open Cars Kick-Off Conference

    Autonomous cars are coming. But how are we going to deal with keeping both the software and hardware up-to-date? Odds are, a three-year computer and software a few months old are going to be too old to drive autonomously, at least while the technology is in its infancy. And how do we train the guys in your local garage to maintain an AI?

    The automobile industry thinks they have a solution: lease rather than sell autonomous cars, lock the hood shut, and maintain them exclusively through their dealers.

    That works great for the 1%. But what about the rest of us? The folks who drive a dented, 10-year-old car? We should have the option to drive autonomous cars, and to participate in the same world as the more wealthy folks.

  • Web Browsers
    • Browsh – A Modern Text Browser That Supports Graphics And Video

      Browsh is a modern, text-based browser that supports graphics including video. Yes, you read that right! It supports HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, photos, WebGL content and of course video as well. Technically speaking, it is not much of a browser, but some kind of terminal front-end of browser. It uses headless Firefox to render the web page and then converts it to ASCII art. According to the developer, Browsh significantly reduces the bandwidth and increases the browsing speed. Another cool feature of browsh is you can ssh from, for example an old laptop, to a regular computer where you have Browsh installed, and browse HTML5 webpages without much lag. Browsh is free, open source and cross-platform.

    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day!
      • Mozilla VR Blog: This week in Mixed Reality: Issue 12

        This week we landed a bunch of core features: in the browsers space, we landed WebVR support and immersive controllers; in the social area, added media tools to Hubs; and in the content ecosystem, we now have WebGL2 support on the WebGLRenderer in three.js.

      • Robert Kaiser: VR Map – A-Frame Demo using OpenStreetMap Data

        The prime driver for writing my first such demo was that I wanted to do something meaningful with A-Frame. Previously, I had only played around with the Hello WebVR example and some small alterations around the basic elements seen in that one, which is also pretty much what I taught to others in the WebVR workshops I held in Vienna last year. Now, it was time to go beyond that, and as I had recently bought a HTC Vive, I wanted something where the controllers could be used – but still something that would fall back nicely and be usable in 2D mode on a desktop browser or even mobile screens.

      • Firefox Test Pilot: The Evolution of Side View

        Side View is a new Firefox Test Pilot experiment which allows you to send any webpage to the Firefox sidebar, giving you an easy way to view two webpages side-by-side. It was released June 5 through the Test Pilot program, and we thought we would share with you some of the different approaches we tried while implementing this idea.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • DragonFly BSD Lead Developer Preaches The Blessing Of SSDs

      DragonFlyBSD lead developer Matthew Dillon has provided an update on the open-source operating system project’s infrastructure and acknowledging the SSD upgrades that are noticeably beneficial over HDDs.

      DragonFlyBSD has recently been replacing various HDDs with SSDs in their build machines and other systems having an important presence in their infrastructure. Following these storage upgrades, things have been running great and ultimately should deliver a snappier experience for users and developers.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Revealing unknown DWG classes

      I implemented three major buzzwords today in some trivial ways.

      massive parallel processing
      asynchronous processing
      machine-learning: a self-improving program

      The problem is mostly trivial, and the solutions also. I need to
      reverse-engineer a binary closed file-format, but got some hints from
      a related ASCII file-format, DWG vs DXF.

    • Binutils 2.31 Offers Faster DLL Linking For Cygwin/Mingw, Freescale S12Z Support

      A new release of the Binutils collection of important tools is now available with a number of new features and improvements.

      Binutils 2.31 contains work like direct linking with DLLs for Cygwin/Mingw targets now being faster, AArch64 disassembler improvements, MIPS GINV and CRC extension support, Freescale S12Z architecture support, the x86 assembler now supports new command line options to enable alternative shorter instruction encodings, and the Gold linker now supports Intel Indirect Branch Tracking and Shadow Stack instructions.

    • GCC 8/9 Land Fix For “-march=native” Tuning On Modern Intel CPUs

      The other day we reported on a GCC 8 regression where Skylake and newer CPUs with “-march=native” haven’t been performance as optimally as they should be. Fortunately, that patch was quickly landed into the GCC SVN/Git code for GCC 9 as well as back-ported to GCC 8.

      In the GCC 8.1 release and mainline code since April, as the previous article outlined, when using “-march=native” as part of the compiler flags with GCC the full capabilities of the CPU haven’t been leveraged. This affects Intel Skylake CPUs and newer generations, including yet to be released hardware like Cannonlake and Icelake.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • ARM Kills Its RISC-V FUD Website After Staff Revolt

        ARM is under fire for the way it attempted to kneecap a fledgling open-source hardware project, and has retreated from its own line of attack after several days. ARM had launched a website, riscv-basics.com, which purported to offer “real” information on the rival ISA. As one might expect, the “information” on display was a bit less neutral than a visitor might hope for. Taking this kind of shot against an open-source hardware project also struck many in the OSS community as being in exceptionally poor taste, given how critical open source software has been to ARM’s overall success and visibility.

        First, a bit of background: RISC-V is an open-source ISA based on RISC principles and is intended to eventually provide flexible CPU cores for a wide variety of use-cases. By using the BSD license, the RISC-V teams hope to allow for a greater range of projects that support both open and proprietary CPU designs. RISC-V CPUs are already available today in a range of roles and capabilities. Despite some modest initial success, RISC-V, today, isn’t even a rounding error in CPU marketshare measurements. It’s certainly no threat to ARM, which enjoys the mother of all vendor lock-ins measured in per-device terms.

  • Programming/Development
    • Becoming a senior developer: 9 experiences you’ll encounter

      Being a developer—a good one—isn’t just about writing code. To be successful, you do a lot of planning, you deal with catastrophes, and you prevent catastrophes. Not to mention you spend plenty of time working with other humans about what your code should do.

    • Python and Its Community Enter a New Phase

      Python is an amazing programming language, there’s no doubt about it. >From humble beginnings in 1991, it’s now just about everywhere. Whether you’re doing web development, system administration, test automation, devops or data science, odds are good that Python is playing a role in your work.

      Even if you’re not using Python directly, odds are good that it is being used behind the scenes. Using OpenStack? Python plays an integral role in its development and configuration. Using Dropbox on your computer? Then you’ve got a copy of Python running on your computer. Using Linux? When I purchased Red Hat Linux back in 1995, the configuration was a breeze—thanks to visual tools developed in Python.

      And, of course, there are numerous schools and educational programs that are now teaching Python. MIT’s intro computer science course switched several years ago from Scheme to Python, and thousands of universities all over the world made a similar switch in its wake. My 15-year-old daughter participates in a program for technology and entrepreneurship—and she’s learning Python.

      There currently is an almost insatiable demand for Python developers. Indeed, Stack Overflow reported last year that Python is not only the most popular language on its site, but it’s also the fastest-growing language. I can attest to this popularity in my own job as a freelance Python trainer. Some of the largest computer companies in the world are now using Python on a regular basis, and their use of the language is growing, not shrinking.

    • Python boss Guido van Rossum steps down after 30 years

      He lays out a list of things that the users will need to consider going forwards like who has banning rights and who inducts noobs to the core developer team, but its laid out in a context of ‘do what you want but keep me out of it’.

      “I’ll still be here, but I’m trying to let you all figure something out for yourselves. I’m tired, and need a very long break.”

Leftovers
  • Science
    • Open offices are as bad as they seem—they reduce face-to-face time by 70%

      Before the study it was clear from employee surveys and media reports that workers are not fans of the open architecture trend. Employees complain of noise, distractions, lowered productivity, a loss of privacy, and a feeling of being “watched.” On top of that, studies have suggested that open offices can be bad for workers’ health.

      Still, Bernstein and Turban write that, up until now, there has been a dearth of data on how employee behaviors change in these boundless, despised work spaces. To come up with that data, they enlisted employees in two big companies as their employers embarked on remodeling office areas from traditional closed offices and cubicles to open, boundary-less space.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • HHS Plans to Delete 20 Years of Critical Medical Guidelines Next Week

      The Trump Administration is planning to eliminate a vast trove of medical guidelines that for nearly 20 years has been a critical resource for doctors, researchers and others in the medical community.

      Maintained by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ], part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the database is known as the National Guideline Clearinghouse [NGC], and it’s scheduled to “go dark,” in the words of an official there, on July 16.

      Medical guidelines like those compiled by AHRQ aren’t something laypeople spend much time thinking about, but experts like Valerie King, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Director of Research at the Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University, said the NGC is perhaps the most important repository of evidence-based research available.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Fish Out of Water: How the Military Is an Impossible Place for Hackers [sic], and What to Do About It

      For most hackers [sic], an ADCON job means one to two years away from mission doing a non-technical job they’ll probably detest. So, the military’s most talented hackers [sic] are caught squarely in an identity crisis: Buck the promotion system and continue being a contributor who is “50 to 100 times better than their peers” fighting adversaries in cyberspace or take a year or two off mission to collate push-up scores in Excel spreadsheets.

      It might seem that putting technical talent in ADCON command positions would help fix the problem, but it doesn’t for three reasons:

    • Should Your Company Help ICE? “Know Your Customer” Standards for Evaluating Domestic Sales of Surveillance Equipment

      Employees at Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have raised public concerns about those companies assisting U.S. military, law enforcement, and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) in deploying various kinds of surveillance technologies.

      These public calls from employees raise important questions: what steps should a company take to ensure that government entities who purchase or license their technologies don’t misuse them? When should they refuse to sell to a governmental entity?

      Tech companies must step up and ensure that they aren’t assisting governments in committing human rights abuses.

      While the specific context of U.S. law enforcement using new surveillance technologies is more recent, the underlying questions aren’t. In 2011, EFF proposed a basic Know Your Customer framework for these questions. The context then was foreign repressive governments’ use of the technology from U.S. and European companies to facilitate human rights abuses. EFF’s framework was cited favorably by the United Nations in its implementation guide for technology companies for its own Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

      Now, those same basic ideas about investigation, auditing, and accountability can be, and should be, deployed domestically.

      Put simply, tech companies, especially those selling surveillance equipment, must step up and ensure that they aren’t assisting governments in committing human rights, civil rights and civil liberties abuses. This obligation applies whether those governments are foreign or domestic, federal or local.

      One way tech companies can navigate this difficult issue is by adopting a robust Know Your Customer program, modeled on requirements that companies already have to follow in the export control and anti-bribery context. Below, we outline our proposal for sales to foreign governments from 2011, with a few updates to reflect shifting from an international to domestic focus. Employees at companies that sell to government agencies, especially agencies with a record as troubling as ICE, may want to advocate for this as a process to protect against future corporate complicity.

    • The Media’s Brazen Dishonesty About North Korean Nuclear Violations

      In late June and early July, NBC News, CNN, and The Wall Street Journal published stories that appeared at first glance to shed a lurid light on Donald Trump’s flirtation with Kim Jong-un. They contained satellite imagery showing that North Korea was making rapid upgrades to its nuclear weapons complex at Yongbyon and expanding its missile production program just as Trump and Kim were getting chummy at their Singapore summit.

      In fact, those media outlets were selling journalistic snake oil. By misrepresenting the diplomatic context of the images they were hyping, the press launched a false narrative around the Trump-Kim summit and the negotiations therein.

      The headline of the June 27 NBC News story revealed the network’s political agenda on the Trump-Kim negotiations. “If North Korea is denuclearizing,” it asked, “why is it expanding a nuclear research center?” The piece warned that North Korea “continues to make improvements to a major nuclear facility, raising questions about President Donald Trump’s claim that Kim Jong Un has agreed to disarm, independent experts tell NBC News.”

      CNN’s coverage of the same story was even more sensationalist, declaring that there were “troubling signs” that North Korea was making “improvements” to its nuclear facilities, some of which it said had been carried out after the Trump-Kim summit. It pointed to a facility that had produced plutonium in the past and recently undergone an upgrade, despite Kim’s alleged promise to Trump to draw down his nuclear arsenal. CNN commentator Max Boot cleverly spelled out the supposed implication: “If you were about to demolish your house, would you be remodeling the kitchen?”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Inter-American Court Ruling Benefits Julian Assange

      The ruling was deemed a huge victory for the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
      The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled on Friday the right to seek asylum in embassies and other diplomatic compounds. The ruling includes a mandatory safe process, and the obligation of states to provide safe passage to those granted asylum. Without naming Julian Assange, the ruling was deemed a huge victory for the WikiLeaks founder who has been held up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • New Dutch study recommends optimal EVSE rollout strategy

      As the worldwide fleet of EVs expands, it’s becoming clear that governments around the world need to make significant investments in public charging infrastructure. However, there are few examples to follow in developing an effective rollout strategy.

      A new study, published in the journal Energy Policy, aims to guide policy makers in the deployment of future charging infrastructure. The study analyzes the use of 1,700 public charging points in the Netherlands over the first 4 years of EV adoption, representing more than 1.3 million charging sessions.

  • Finance
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Social media platforms must police their sites better, says Ofcom

      White highlighted Ofcom research that demonstrated how little trust user have in what they read on social media. “Only 39% consider social media to be a trustworthy news source, compared with 63% for newspapers, and 70% for TV,” she wrote.

      “Many people admit they simply don’t have the time or inclination to think critically when engaging with news, which has important implications for our democracy.”

    • Ray McGovern: Strzok Hoisted on His Own Petard

      If FBI agent Peter Strzok were not so glib, it would have been easier to feel some sympathy for him during his tough grilling at the House oversight hearing on Thursday, even though his wounds are self-inflicted. The wounds, of course, ooze from the content of his own text message exchange with his lover and alleged co-conspirator, Lisa Page.

      Strzok was a top FBI counterintelligence official and Page an attorney working for then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. The Attorney General fired McCabe in March and DOJ has criminally referred McCabe to federal prosecutors for lying to Justice Department investigators.

      On Thursday members of the House Judiciary and Oversight/Government Reform Committees questioned Strzok for eight hours on how he led the investigations of Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized emails and Donald Trump’s campaign’s ties with Russia, if any.

      [...]

      There were moments of high irony at Thursday’s hearing. For example, under questioning by Darrell Issa (R-CA), Strzok appealed, in essence, for the same kid-gloves treatment that his FBI and DOJ associates afforded Mrs. Clinton during the Strzok-led investigation of her emails.

    • Mueller indicts 12 Russians for DNC hacking
    • Russian Influence Campaign Sought To Exploit Americans’ Trust In Local News

      Russia’s information attack against the United States during the 2016 election cycle sought to take advantage of the greater trust that Americans tend to place in local news.

      The information operatives who worked out of the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg did not stop at posing as American social media users or spreading false information from purported news sources, according to new details.

      They also created a number of Twitter accounts that posed as sources for Americans’ hometown headlines.

    • Russian Dressing On Everything

      Reporting on the Russia investigation is not for the faint of heart. This week, a look at how a journalist became entangled in the investigation when she turned her source over to the FBI. Plus, how another reporter avoided common journalistic mistakes during the Iraq War and a conversation with the director of the new documentary The Other Side of Everything about the end of Yugoslavia.

    • Evidence Will Probably Never Be Produced in Indictments of ‘Russian Agents’

      The indictment of 12 Russian ‘agents,’ which included no collusion with Trump’s team, is essentially a political and not legal document because it is almost certain the U.S. government will never have to present any evidence in court, reports Joe Lauria.

    • 2016 US Elections: 12 Russian Spies Charged For Hacking
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • EFF to Japan: Reject Website Blocking

      Website blocking to deal with alleged copyright infringement is like cutting off your hand to deal with a papercut. Sure, you don’t have a papercut anymore, but you’ve also lost a lot more than you’ve gained. The latest country to consider a website blocking proposal is Japan, and EFF has responded to the call for comment by sharing all the reasons that cutting off websites is a terrible solution for copyright violations.

      In response to infringement of copyrighted material, specifically citing a concern for manga, the government of Japan began work on a proposal that would make certain websites inaccessible in Japan. We’ve seen proposals like this before, most recently in the European Union’s Article 13.

      In response to Japan’s proposal, EFF explained that website blocking is not effective at the stated goal of protecting artists and their work. First, it can be easily circumvented. Second, it ends up capturing a lot of lawful expression. Blocking an entire website does not distinguish between legal and illegal content, punishing both equally. Blocking and filtering by governments has frequently been found to violate national and international principles of free expression [pdf].

      EFF also shared the research leading Internet engineers did in response to a potential U.S. law that would have enabled website blocking. They said that website blocking would lead to network errors and security problems.

    • Slipping past the censors

      During a panel discussion at the Odisha Literary Festival last year, actor Tillotama Shome remarked that a strict or even unreasonable censorship regime can, paradoxically, aid the cause of creativity—by forcing a film-maker to find more inventive ways of saying what he needs to say.

      Shome’s words were an echo of Orson Welles’ famous observation, “The absence of limitations is the enemy of art”, and had a similar subtext, which went something like: Yes, we all know these aren’t optimum conditions for creative work, but let’s make the best of a tough situation.

    • GOP candidates for KS governor don’t hold back in final debate before primary

      During the last debate before the August primary, the candidates for the Republican gubernatorial nominee were not pulling punches.

      One issue taking center stage — an American flag art project at the University of Kansas.

      “When somebody wants to use taxpayer funds and tax-payer institutions to desecrate our flag, I say not in Kansas and not on my watch,” said Governor Jeff Colyer.

    • The Flag and Free Expression

      An art piece at the University of Kansas featuring a U.S. flag with illustrations on it is stirring up a decades-old debate: Should the flag get special protection under the First Amendment? The Supreme Court says no and has affirmed the right to burn the flag, but the Kansas dispute is one of many in which colleges have been questioned for uses of the flag to make art and/or political points.

      “Untitled (Flag 2)” by German artist Josephine Meckseper was intended to serve as commentary on the deep divisions in the United States, according to a statement by the artist. Meckseper drip painted a rough illustration of the U.S. on the flag and a striped sock in the left-hand corner to symbolize children imprisoned on the border. Some are viewing the work as an affront to active military and veterans. Among them is Kansas governor Jeff Colyer, who called for the flag’s removal in a statement Wednesday.

    • Pledges of Allegiance
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • ‘Data is a fingerprint’: why you aren’t as anonymous as you think online

      Names and other identifying features were removed from the records in an effort to protect individuals’ privacy, but a research team from the University of Melbourne soon discovered that it was simple to re-identify people, and learn about their entire medical history without their consent, by comparing the dataset to other publicly available information, such as reports of celebrities having babies or athletes having surgeries.

      The government pulled the data from its website, but not before it had been downloaded 1,500 times.

    • US: Government Has Planted Spy Phones With Suspects

      Human Rights Watch has identified two forms of this technique that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has used or, evidence suggests, has contemplated using. One involved the undercover sale of BlackBerry devices whose individual encryption keys the DEA possessed, enabling the agency to decode messages sent and received by suspects. The second, as described in a previously unreported internal email belonging to the surveillance software company Hacking Team, may have entailed installing monitoring software on a significant number of phones before attempting to put them into suspects’ hands.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Videos that incited lynchings in Maharashtra were manipulated: Police

      The videos were widely circulated on social media across the state following which seven offences were registered by the Malegaon Police in Nashik district.

      “During our investigation, we found these videos were manipulated and the clippings were also not of places as claimed by people on social media,” Malegon’s Additional Superintendent of Police Harsh Poddar told PTI.

    • Sex Jehad: The Religious Undertones In Viral Video Clips

      Social scientists feel this new brand of porn promotes “hate sex”, with revenge as the motive. Since the beginning of recorded history, men have been using sex as a weapon to demean rival men, showing them as weak and inferior by “having sex” with ‘their’ women. These vanquished men are stigmatised as cuckolds, and ridiculed. Porn, which can seriously distort male perspectives on women and intimate relationships, becomes a platform to broadcast such hatred and tag an intended target as a cuckold with videos running under titles such as “Desi Hindu girl f***s her Muslim cab driver” and such like. The tacitly offered subtext is that Hindu women have to be protected, and vice versa, Batabyal says.

    • Woman with biscuits thrashed in Tamil Nadu on suspicion of being child lifter

      The attack comes in the backdrop a spate of similar such incidents in several parts of the country when people were either beaten up or lynched on suspicion that they were child abductors, which prompted the government to ask social media operators such as WhatsApp to clamp down on rumours.

    • The Shadow of Torture Behind Trump’s Britain Visit

      The U.K. Was Complicit in America’s Torture. Neither Country Should Let It Happen Again.

      As President Trump visits the United Kingdom, the focus has been on strained trans-Atlantic relations, his intervention in domestic politics, and massive public protests.

      A different, diplomatically-couched protest has received less attention but sends a consequential signal about the so-called “special relationship” between the two countries: U.K. parliamentarians are concerned that under Trump, America could return to a policy of torture — and they are warning British intelligence agencies to guard against it.

      Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee released a pair of reports at the end of June providing extensive detail about U.K. complicity in torture, rendition, and other abuses of detainees by the U.S. military and the CIA during the George W. Bush administration. The reports by the committee, which oversees the U.K.’s intelligence agencies, also focus on policy changes needed to avoid a repeat of such abuses.

      The committee uncovered at least 166 instances in which British officials either directly witnessed or had credible information suggesting that torture and abuse were carried out by Americans. It also found 232 cases in which U.K. personnel continued to interrogate or provide intelligence about a U.S.-held detainee even after they knew or suspected that the detainee had been abused. And there were 192 cases in which the U.K. accepted intelligence information obtained by the U.S. from detainees the U.K. knew or should have suspected had been tortured or abused.

      The committee found dozens of instances in which the U.K. provided intelligence or financial support to illegal U.S. “renditions” — in which the U.S. essentially kidnapping people and transferring them to third countries where they were subjected to torture and degrading treatment.

    • Dear Brett Kavanaugh, Justices Do Make Law

      The Supreme Court nominee says judges ‘must interpret the law, not make’ it. He’s wrong. Here’s why.

      Judges “must interpret the law, not make the law,” observed Judge Brett Kavanaugh in accepting Donald Trump’s designation to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the Supreme Court. This oft-repeated assertion is an invention of conservatives who seek to criticize and curtail rights-enhancing decisions of the Supreme Court. But the assertion that judges should not make law rests upon a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of judges within our common law tradition.

      It is a hallmark of our common law system that judges not only resolve the controversies before them but, in doing so, write opinions that explain their decisions and identify the legal principles and factual conclusions upon which the decisions rest. These opinions are designed to persuade the litigants and the public that the case was decided fairly and in accordance with law. But the written opinions also serve as a source of law for future controversies. In this way, common law courts resolve individual disputes and, at the same time, issue opinions that create legal precedent which guides future behavior and informs subsequent adjudications.

      In writing opinions that will serve as precedent and in relying on precedent as a source of law, the Supreme Court functions as a common law court. The justices of the court who write these opinions are unquestionably engaged in making law, not merely in applying law.

      By way of example, the entire body of law regarding freedom of expression has been created by the Supreme Court. The First Amendment provision pertaining to freedom of speech and press reads: “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech or of the press ….” The text seems clear. But reading the text alone fails to capture the scope of the provision. We know, because the Supreme Court has told us, that “no law” does not really mean “no law.” And the proscriptions of the First Amendment are not limited to “Congress.” They apply, as well, to the executive branch and to state and local governments. Moreover, the First Amendment extends its protective reach beyond “speech” and “press” as it also guards against government censorship of movies, artwork, the internet, and other forms of expression.

    • How Black Lives Matter Changed the Way Americans Fight for Freedom

      Five years after the founding of Black Lives Matter, the movement has transformed the nation’s approach to social justice.

      Freedom fighters around the globe commemorate July 13 as the day that three Black women gave birth to a movement. In the five short years since #Black LivesMatter arrived on the scene — thanks to the creative genius of Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometti — the push for Black liberation from state-inflicted violence has evolved into one of the most influential social movements of the post-civil rights era.

      Black Lives Matter has always been more of a human rights movement rather than a civil rights movement. BLM’s focus has been less about changing specific laws and more about fighting for a fundamental reordering of society wherein Black lives are free from systematic dehumanization. Still, the movement’s measurable impact on the political and legal landscape is undeniable.

      Since 2013, the organizing labor of BLM has led to the ousting of high-profile corrupt prosecutors. In Chicago, BLM pressure led Anita Alvarez — who had inexplicably failed to charge police officers who shot at least 68 people to death — to lose her re-election bid for Cook County prosecutor. And in Florida, BLM helped end Angela Corey’s reign as a state attorney. Corey remains infamous for failing to convict Trayvon Martin’s killer George Zimmerman while prosecuting Marissa Alexander, a Black woman who didn’t hurt anyone when firing a warning shot at her abusive ex-husband.

    • Jacinta Gonzalez on Immigration Rights, Jocelyn McCalla on Haiti Uprising

      Americans, many of them anyway, have been filled with outrage—and anger, and sadness—at the fact that immigrants escaping violence and deprivation (some of it visited on them by US policy and practice) are being treated as criminals at the US border. Children being literally pulled from their parents’ arms and locked up in pens—and it’s all in aid of, what, exactly? The truth is US “policy” on immigration has long veiled, thinly, an abject cruelty and racism. And so while outrage at family separation at the Mexican border is a fine starting point for a movement for change, it cannot be its end. We’ll talk about bigger, positive visions on immigration with Jacinta Gonzalez, senior campaign organizer at mijente, the national political hub for Latinx organizing.

    • ‘It Is Really Crucial That People Stand Up for What They Believe In’

      A Washington Post poll from July 2017 found that one out of every three Washington, DC, residents said they’d taken part in a protest against Donald Trump since his inauguration. That number included half of the district’s white residents, half of people making more than $100,000 a year, and a fifth of the respondents over the age of 65.

      As more and more people go out in the street, states are rushing to criminalize that resistance. This time last year, we talked about the right to protest and the role of law in a time of widespread dissent with activist attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive of director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. I started by asking about the J20, the group of people—including journalists—arrested for protesting at Trump’s January 20 inauguration. CounterSpin listeners got an update on the state of that case just a few weeks back on the show. Mara Verheyden-Hilliard explained the nature of the J20 case.

    • Stop-and-Frisk Settlement in Milwaukee Lawsuit Is a Wakeup Call for Police Nationwide

      Police must institute reforms to end biased policing and unlawful stops and frisks.

      In a banner day for police reform, the city of Milwaukee has entered into a settlement agreement to end practices amounting to a decade-long stop-and-frisk program that resulted in hundreds of thousands of baseless stops as well as racial and ethnic profiling of Black and Latino people citywide. The agreement provides a roadmap for how the Milwaukee Police Department and Fire and Police Commission must reform to protect the constitutional rights of the people they serve.

      The reforms are local, but the implications are national. This settlement sends a signal to police departments across the country about how to remedy stop-and-frisk practices that wrongfully criminalize people of color.

      The reforms in Milwaukee are the result of the settlement of Collins v. City of Milwaukee, a 2017 lawsuit brought by the ACLU and the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP on behalf of Black and Latino people, including a military veteran, a grandmother, students, and a state legislator. Each of the plaintiffs was stopped or stopped and frisked by Milwaukee police when doing nothing wrong.

      Our plaintiffs were not alone.

    • The Supreme Court’s Disingenuous Funeral Ceremony for Korematsu

      Instead of truly putting Korematsu to rest, the Muslim ban decision revived that shameful decision under another name.

      Over Independence Day weekend, I joined hundreds of fellow Japanese-Americans at the Tule Lake Pilgrimage. Held on the site of the Tule Lake Segregation Center, this pilgrimage offers a chance to remember how the U.S. government imprisoned our families without trial during World War II.

      President Franklin D. Roosevelt provided the legal authority for this incarceration by signing Executive Order 9066, which directed military officials to “prescribe military areas . . . from which any or all persons may be excluded.” The language of the order was facially neutral, in that it named no particular ethnic groups. However, everyone involved in its drafting and implementation knew it would target people of Japanese ancestry, both U.S.-born citizens and noncitizen immigrants.

      In the ensuing weeks and months, Lt. General John L. DeWitt — an avowed racist who famously declared that “a Jap’s a Jap” regardless of citizenship — designated large swaths of Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington as “military areas” from which Japanese-Americans would be “excluded” by force. As a result, my grandmother Bette — a 23-year-old aspiring fashion designer from a small California town — was forced to interrupt her junior college education to be imprisoned with her parents and siblings at the Tule Lake prison camp. They were assigned to tarpaper barracks to live behind barbed wire under the watch of armed guards. Meanwhile, my grandfather Kuichi — who had actually been drafted into the U.S. Army before Pearl Harbor — was left in an uncomfortable limbo while military authorities decided what to do with this newly enlisted soldier who happened to be of an “enemy alien” race. Eventually, they ordered him to join the fight in Europe.

    • Watch the 6-Year-Old Salvadoran Girl Heard on a Secret Recording Out of a Border Patrol Detention Facility Finally Being Reunited With Her Mom

      Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid walked out of a Houston airport early this morning to cheers, holding her mother’s hand, one month after they were separated at a Border Patrol detention facility and the 6-year-old’s voice was captured in an audio recording, begging for a phone call. A van pulled up, and Jimena sat on her mother’s lap in the backseat. She looked out through a window and waved at a handful of reporters, beaming.

      It was a whirlwind government handoff as improvised and clandestine as their separation. Jimena was bundled out of a shelter in Phoenix on Thursday evening, loaded onto an airplane at supper time and flown three hours to Houston, where she kept herself awake all night in a passenger lounge in Terminal A with crayons and coloring books. Meanwhile her mother, Cindy Madrid, fresh out of a detention facility in south Texas, got word about the government’s plans too late to catch a flight, and barreled with her lawyer six hours down the highway to reach the little girl.

      Both were too exhausted to answer questions upon leaving the airport at 3 a.m. Madrid’s lawyer said that Jimena had a bit of an emotional meltdown at the first sight of her mother. When asked in an earlier interview what she’d feel once she had her daughter back in her arms, Madrid said, “I’ll be the happiest woman in the world. It’s been very painful to be apart.”

    • Congressman Introduces Legislation To Criminalize Protesting In A Mask

      Antifa, of course, being the favored bogeyman target from the political interests of those supporting the President, at least at the moment. And, sure, some protests where Antifa has participated in have gotten out of hand and criminal activities have taken place. We have laws for that. Using them as an excuse to specifically outlaw wearing a mask or face-covering while protesting is just plain stupid.

      And pretty plainly unconstitutional. I would guess Donovan knows that, too, and is actually using this bill purely as a, shall we say… “virtue signal” to his constituents without having any expectations that it will both pass into law and defeat the immediate First Amendment challenges that will surely be thrown at it from many places. And, in case it isn’t clear, playing those sorts of political games with free speech is about as scummy as it gets for a politician.

    • Guy Gets Tossed In Jail For Contempt Charges Because Cops Say They Need To Unlock His Phones To Get Evidence Of Drug Possession

      There’s a Fifth Amendment case developing in Tampa, Florida revolving around cellphones, passcodes, and contempt charges. (h/t Dissent Doe)

      William Montanez has just been jailed for 180 by a Florida judge for refusing to unlock two phones seized from him by police. This happened in an extremely unorthodox fashion. In court, the judge said “Unlock them,” and Montanez was handed both phones. He claimed he couldn’t remember the passcodes, saying they both had been recently purchased. No passcode, no freedom, the judge instantly ruled.

      The police have a warrant and claim that’s all they need to demand access to the phones’ contents. But that’s predicated on a string of events that seem constitutionally-dubious, to say the least.

      An emergency petition [PDF] (via Florida You Judge) to challenge the judge’s contempt ruling (and the warrant itself) has been filed by Montanez’s attorney, Patrick Leduc. The petition details the traffic stop and arrest of Montanez, which appears to contain a handful of constitutional violations.

      Montanez was pulled over for failure to yield. During this stop, a K-9 unit was brought to the scene to sniff Montanez’s car after he refused to consent to a search. This is already questionable. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Rodriguez makes it clear regular traffic stops aren’t supposed to be fishing expeditions. If no reasonable suspicion presents itself (and refusing consent isn’t suspicious activity), officers aren’t allowed to extend stops to further badger drivers into relinquishing consent or bring a dog to scene to ask its permission for a search.

    • Rogue CBP Agent Decided To ‘Drain The Swamp’ By Tracking Down A Journalist To Sniff Out Her Sources

      The DOJ has decided it can safely threaten First Amendment protections, so long as it’s done in the pursuit of leakers. The Trump Administration has leaked like no other, prompting AG Jeff Sessions to triple-up on former president Obama’s war on whistleblowers. Omelets/eggs broken, I suppose, if the end goal is dialing back leaks to only the ones the administration approves of.

      It’s cool to target journalists’ communications again. That’s the general mood of the DOJ, which slapped itself on the wrist during Eric Holder’s tenure for hoovering up AP journalists’ communications, only to reverse course when the desire to prosecute leakers surpassed its desire to not look like a thuggish force of government oppression.

      The indictment of Senate Intelligence Committee advisor James Wolfe contained a lot of journalists’ communications and metadata obtained from several sources, including service providers these journalists used. This was disturbing enough, suggesting the new normal for leak investigations is targeting members of the press to work backwards to their anonymous sources.

    • Islamic scholar detained in Saudi Arabia

      delete

      Sheikh Safar al-Hawali is known for his anti-American sentiments and wish for Islamic rule.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • After AT&T Jacks Up Prices Post Merger, DOJ Decides To Appeal Court Loss

      AT&T recently defeated the DOJ’s challenge to their $86 billion merger with Time Warner thanks to a comically narrow reading of the markets by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon. At no point in his 172-page ruling (which approved the deal without a single condition) did Leon show the faintest understanding that AT&T intends to use vertical integration synergistically with the death of net neutrality to dominate smaller competitors. In fact, net neutrality was never even mentioned at the multi-week trial.

      The trial did a wonderful job showing how modern antitrust law does a dismal job policing companies that dominate both the conduit to the home (wireless, wired connection) and the content running over it. And shortly after Leon signed off on the deal, AT&T got right work… being AT&T.

      The company had made repeated promises before, during and after the trial that the merger would only result in price reductions and other wonderful things for consumers. But with the ink barely dry on the deal, AT&T quickly began raising rates on its streaming video services, eliminating promo offers providing free HBO to its wireless customers, jacking up the price of the company’s unlimited data wireless plans, and imposing bogus new fees on those same subscribers. Most of these moves were expected as AT&T tries to recoup some of the monumental debt incurred by its endless quest to grow ever larger.

      Initially, the DOJ stated it wouldn’t appeal its court loss, even though Leon’s myopic ruling opened the door to the idea. But the DOJ clearly sees something in AT&T’s recent moves that gives it additional ammunition for another shot at the merger, so it’s appealing the judge’s ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit according to a DOJ filing (pdf).

    • The Cable TV & Broadband Sector Has A Nasty Billing Fraud Problem

      As we’ve well discussed, the broadband and TV sector not only has some of the worst satisfaction scores in modern history. A lack of real competition has long allowed the industry to double down on all manner of bad behavior, whether that’s net neutrality and privacy violations, or just unprecedentedly-awful customer service. But in recent years the industry has developed another nasty habit: billing fraud involving everything from falsely signing customers up for services they never ordered to entirely bogus fees designed to let companies falsely advertise lower rates.

      T-Mobile was accused last year of signing users up for services they neither wanted nor ordered. Centurylink has similarly found itself in hot water for the same thing on a larger scale, the company now facing lawsuits in more than a dozen states for the practice. Washington State also recently sued Comcast, noting that the company not only routinely signs its customers up for a “Service Protection Plan” they never ordered, but consistently misrepresents what the plan actually does. You may or may not notice a pattern here.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • What to expect when JPO improves its machine translation system [Ed: When it comes to patents, automated translations are worse than useless. The patent extremists just try to cheapen the process while broadening their power.]

      When the JPO successfully improves accuracy of machine translation, I would suggest to the JPO to further consider not requiring overseas patent applicants to submit the Japanese translation of patent application documents. Because several people from overseas firms have told me that their clients hesitate or give up patent application filing in Japan, considering the cost of Japanese translation which they feel expensive. Alternatively, allowing the submission of English translation may work. Because the English translation can be used for patent application filing in other English-speaking countries and it would not bother so much. Anyway, I expect the JPO to create an environment where overseas clients who want to obtain patent rights in Japan don’t have to give up due to just translation cost.

    • Trademarks
      • Leaving Apple and Google: /e/ is the symbol for “my data is MY data”

        The “eelo” trademark we have been using so far has been filed by myself in the EU and in the USA. However, some companies have filed opposition to its registration, because they claim that there exists a likelihood of confusion between their prio similar marks and “eelo”.

        In some cases, we could arrange a coexistence agreement, by reducing the scope of our goods and services, that was somewhat too broad. For instance, it’s clear that our project is not about producing energy or developing human-resource management software.

        But one company that opposed our registration in the EU has refused to even discuss a peaceful coexistence agreement.

        This company is Meurs HRM B.V. and owns prior rights on the “eelloo” trademark, in several identical classes as the eelo trademark was filed for.

    • Copyrights
      • Anti-Piracy Group BREIN Plans to Target ‘Frequent’ Seeders

        Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN stresses that its plan to go after frequent seeders of pirated material is still on. The outfit will use its own tracking software to detect persistent infringers and hold them accountable. Movie distribution Dutch FilmWorks is working on a similar scheme, which is also yet to launch.

      • Russia Adopts Draft to Prohibit ‘Piracy-Enabling’ Software

        Russia’s State Duma has adopted a draft law that aims to tackle software applications through which pirated content is distributed. The proposals foresee the owner or operator of an application being warned that infringement is taking place while giving them time to remove the offending content. Failure to do so will result in the software application being blocked by ISPs.

      • Digimarc Fighting Piracy By Submitting Incomplete DMCA Notices Targeting Tons Of Non-Infringing URLs (Including Techdirt’s)

        There are bogus DMCA takedown requests — something we’ve covered frequently here — that try to use a copyright tool to make unflattering content disappear. Then there’s this form of bogus, the kind being engaged in by Digimarc. It appears to be the result of inadequate automation handling everything terribly.

        A July 3rd DMCA notice issued by Digimarc on behalf of AVID Center makes five copyright claims. For whatever reason, only two of the claims have allegedly infringing URLs appended. Where bare minimum competence should be, there’s only white space.

        [...]

        That’s not the only time Techdirt is targeted by Digimarc’s sudden burst of stupid DMCA takedowns. This one, sent on behalf of the American Psychological Association, demands the takedown of a completely unrelated webpage and every post Techdirt has published about Sci-Hub.

        Digimarc has dumped hundreds of DMCA notices into Google’s lap over the last few weeks, many of which are loaded with unvetted garbage.

      • Misleading Subscription Practices At The Financial Times

        We’ve spent years highlighting how ISPs especially tend to really screw customers over with things like hidden fees or (a personal least favorite) “low introductory prices” that hide the price jump you’ll face at the end of the term. Broadband providers can often get away with those practices thanks to absentee overseers at the FCC/FTC and importantly, the lack of competition. But it’s absolutely insane to see those in competitive or struggling organizations pulling the same kinds of stunts. Right now there’s all this concern out there about media business models, and lots of publications are pushing people to sign up for their subscription plans. There are lots to choose from, and playing stupid games is not a good idea. That’s why I was a bit flabbergasted by the following story, which comes from Hersh Reddy, who co-hosts the Techdirt Podcast. He shared with me this following chat he had with the Financial Times.

        You can read the whole insane thing below, in which it appears that FT’s policies are designed to trick people (i.e., it’s not at all the fault of the poor woman he’s speaking to). Specifically, it appears that FT has two “cheap” offers to try to get people: one that is $1 for the first 4 weeks, and another that says a full subscription is $144/year.

        [...]

        This is the kind of shady bait-and-switch practices that broadband companies try to get away with. It’s pretty shameful to see FT trying it as well. Especially in a time where newspapers are desperate for subscribers. It certainly seems like a damn good reason not to give any money to the FT. Their reporting may be good, but these practices are sketchy.

      • All the news that’s fit to share: Melody Kramer on CC and the power of media

        Melody Kramer is a media expert with a special gift for uplifting open knowledge and demonstrating the power of the Commons. Previously, she held roles in public media and government and currently works as the Senior Audience Development Manager at Wikimedia. A prolific content producer and media mover and shaker, Kramer is also the Reese News Lab Fellow at the UNC School of Media and Journalism, where she’s completing research to better understand the needs of journalists across North Carolina. She writes a weekly column on the future of news for the Poynter Institute and devoted that column to CC and its necessary role in journalism in 2016.

Number of Oppositions to Grants/Awards of European Patents at the EPO Has Skyrocketed, Based on Internal Data

Saturday 14th of July 2018 08:14:39 AM

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


Reference: Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Summary: The number of challenged patents continues to soar and staff of the EPO (examiners already over-encumbered by far too much work, due to unrealistic targets) would struggle to cope or simply be compelled to not properly deal with oppositions

A FEW days ago a Battistelli-friendly law firm aired concerns that EPO management prevents proper and efficient appeals and oppositions process because it’s only focusing on speed (like the USPTO). Examiners and stakeholders (a silent majority) both complain that patent quality is declining and it’s hard for anyone to keep abreast of all this (in order to issue effective ‘vetoes’ and reduce risk).

An article by David Lewin, Magnus Johnston, James Ward, James Sunderland and David Brown (Haseltine Lake LLP) was published yesterday, based on July’s newsletter from the firm (direct link [PDF]). Here are some numbers:

A total of over 3100 opposition proceedings were finally settled in 2017 – either as the outcome after appeal or, if no appeal was entered, when the first-instance decision became legally binding. There were 6 cases in which oppositions were deemed not filed, two in which oppositions were found to be inadmissible and 234 cases in which opposition proceedings were terminated without a decision (e.g. oppositions withdrawn).

Haseltine Lake LLP did some analysis of the number of oppositions before (soon to be cited quite a lot by SUEPO), so they probably know where to get this data and how to analyse it. The graphs from Haseltine Lake LLP are also quite revealing, but we won’t reproduce them here because Haseltine Lake LLP sent us an angry E-mail even though we had attributed the source of a graph reproduced here. They seem like copyright maximalists, maybe they’re patent maximalists too (overzealous about rejection of Fair Use doctrine).

The point worth making here is that there are yardsticks available for the decline in patent quality. Will António Campinos and Dr. Ernst heed the warning? Probably not. They typically just reject the obvious observation about decline in patent quality, just like Battistelli did.

We doubt readers have noticed, but in our daily links earlier this week we included some links about new European Patents on cancer (we lacked the time to properly cover that, but we previously mentioned why such patents are generally controversial [1, 2]). How far will patent scope extend at the EPO? The EPO has no qualm about granting software patents and Campinos, who has just completed a fortnight at the Office, expressed no intention to change that. Then there’s yesterday’s press release about this new grant:

Precision Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: AIPT) is pleased to announce that on July 11, 2018 the European Patent Office (“EPO”) granted European Patent No. 2948200 covering the Company’s STREAMWAY® System for automated, direct-to-drain medical fluid disposal, which is sold through the Company’s Skyline Medical division.

The Company is seeking national validation of its European patent in 11 European countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. As a result of the granting of the European patent, the Company has confidence that its intellectual property is protected as it executes on its sales strategy for its revolutionary, CE-marked, STREAMWAY System in Europe.

Such “national validation” is often (but not always) followed by litigation. What if the patent application wasn’t properly examined or assessed in a rush? What if it turns out there was overlooked prior art? There’s a true danger here that low quality of European Patents (EPs) would greatly harm the European economy. It’s no secret that patents granted in error can cause enormous damage; just look what happened in the US.

“The English High Court invalidated a standard essential patent (SEP) owned by electronics company Philips this week,” Managing IP reported last night. It’s behind a paywall, but the following ought to suffice:

The High Court has invalidated one of Philips’s SEPs, making it “one all with one more patent to go” in its litigation with Asus and HTC

The English High Court invalidated a standard essential patent (SEP) owned by electronics company Philips this week, shortly after it declared another SEP valid and with a ruling on a third due shortly.

Imagine how much worse it would be if the patent was ‘unitary’; that would mean that some court proceedings in a foreign language (thus more expensive) would be potentially imposed on British companies; how many would rather just settle, surrendering to false patents for fear of attorney fees? (attorneys in another country, whose mother tongue is also foreign)

The fact that this is an SEP makes it even worse because it means that for many it would be impossible to work around.

‘Transaction’ Complete: Former EPO Executive From Belgium Takes the Seat of António Campinos at EU-IPO

Saturday 14th of July 2018 07:36:44 AM

Summary: Rumours that Belgium made a back room deal with Battistelli may be further substantiated with the just-confirmed appointment of Archambeau

THE predictions we made turn out to be right on point again. Not only did António Campinos swap a seat with Battistelli at EPO but also at a French institution. We’ve called that “musical chairs”.

“Did corrupt Battistelli make an alleged ‘exchange’ with Belgium (similar to a vote-buying exercise) and what did Campinos know throughout all this?”Archambeau, who came from the EPO and is Belgian, also gets the top job at EU-IPO (just published in German is Helena Hause’s article titled EUIPO successor: Archambeau to become the new Executive Director).

The Belgian Jérôme Debrulle is rumoured to have played an indirect role. In reverse chronological order, here is an explanation of what’s going on here and what happened behind the scenes:

Did corrupt Battistelli make an alleged ‘exchange’ with Belgium (similar to a vote-buying exercise) and what did Campinos know throughout all this? It would be a damn shame if EU-IPO, part of the EU, got embroiled in or tainted by EPO corruption. As readers may recall, there was already a scandal associated with the immunity of António Campinos at the EU-IPO. Is anyone ever going to properly investigate these things?

EPO Abuses Against People With Disabilities Followed by Legal Bullying?

Saturday 14th of July 2018 07:09:31 AM


“The EPO re-starts case no. AT 5-4188 (based on rejected internal appeal no. 100/13), referred to the Admin. Tribunal of the ILO in 2015, as an internal appeal, on its own initiative, see as attached.” (document above)

Summary: The new President of the EPO is not (at least not yet) obeying court rulings from ILO; The above move seems like an attempt to derail ongoing cases at the ILO’s Administrative Tribunal (ILO-AT), i.e. yet more strong-arming

The case of Anette Koch‏ was mentioned here before. It’s not as ‘famous’ as cases against staff representatives (SUEPO), but it’s equally if not even more appalling. Now, over a week after António Campinos started his job, the EPO sends the above letter, which the appellant has made public in Twitter (we follow her account closely enough to notice, as do other EPO insiders through whom we found it). She shared the above letter, then added: “Have you ever heard of a first-instance court re-starting a case under appeal on its own initiative, while it is treated by the Appeals Court? Well, this is how the EPO acts in procedures under its Service Regulations. [...] This way (see my last tweets) the EPO attempts to prevent treatment of my most urgent cases in substance by the Admin. Tribunal of the ILO. [...] In cases with the Admin. Tribunal of the ILO I will submit my comments to the Tribunal only.”

Weeks Later António Campinos Still in Noncompliance With the Courts (ILO’s Tribunal)

Friday 13th of July 2018 04:29:18 PM

Last week (and start of this week):

Today (from a slightly different perspective):

Summary: A ‘report card’ for the ever-so-intransparent (or nontransparent) new President of the EPO, who does not even bother obeying court rulings

THE NEW EPO PRESIDENT HAS JUST (one hour ago) completed the last working day of his second week in Office. He’s up there in the top floor with Raimund Lutz, Željko Topić and other people from so-called ‘Team Battistelli’, enjoying a penthouse with a bar (built secretly by Battistelli using undisclosed budget). Is the ‘new’ EPO any more transparent than the ‘last’ or the ‘old’ one (before EPO workers greeted each other “happy new year”)? Not really. There’s no indication of it.

Some people posted comments on the blog post of António Campinos, but these never showed up. They went right into an abyss. Campinos has since then made the “Comments” count vanish (see before and after screenshots at the top). So in a sense they merely decreased public participation (or an impression thereof). As we said a week ago, blog posts or words aren't enough to mend/heal the wounds. Campinos needs to actually initiate some action/s. Is he open to public consultation? Staff consultation? No comments have shown up in his first (and sole) blog post, so it was an effective as a “contact us” form, not actual commenting from the public. Welcome Mr. Campinos, the new boss, same as the old boss, Mr. Battistelli.

“Mr Campinos first impression is not impressive,” said the following new comment, which reveals that Campinos “has NO[T] officially contacted (much less invited) staff reps and/or unions…”

It also says that “NOTHING concrete has been done by Mrs Bergot, Principal Director HR who is vastly responsible for the social chaos at EPO, to execute the unambiguous judgment.” So the Rule of Law may never prevail again at the EPO. The EPO is happy to execute ILO judgments when these are in favour of the management; otherwise these judgments just get ignored. To quote the whole comment:

Sorry to spoil the party but according to reliabel insider information:

1 – since the ILO-AT judgment which foresaw IMMEDIATE reinstatement of Mrs Weaver and Mr Brumme, to this very date (09.07.2018 at 18:52) NOTHING concrete has been done by Mrs Bergot, Principal Director HR who is vastly responsible for the social chaos at EPO, to execute the unambiguous judgment.

2 – since his arrival at EPO one week ago, Mr Campinos has NO officially contacted (much less invited) staff reps and/or unions (but he started right away by circumventing them whilst meeting with “staff” directly (only a few of them and which one is unclear).

For someone who has been elected on a “social” mandate this is quite disappointing.

Future will soon tell if this changes for the better but since one has only one chance to make a first impression, the least that one can say is that Mr Campinos first impression is not impressive.

This was soon followed by another comment that said “only the croupier’s name changes.” It speaks of a form of bribery (vote-buying) by Battistelli:

I do not like the sound of this. Under his predecessor, cooperation has become an equivalent for transferring money to the small contracting states in exchange for unwavering support against all odds. No supervision at all, no accountability whatsoever. I guess Sepp Blatter was good at cooperation, too. The show must go on, only the croupier’s name changes.

With few exceptions here and there, the ILO-AT is still in the pockets of the EPO. Like Sepp Blatter we deal here with serious institutional corruption; but unlike Sepp Blatter, what we have here is impenetrable diplomatic immunity for perpetrators. Will Battistelli get a portion of the money he sent to his other employer (‘back-channeled’ to him in the coming months/years)? Who knows…

There’s meanwhile this new discussion of a lesser-known case, this one concerning Laurent Germond:

The Tribunal validated as “balanced” the temporary composition of the Appeals Committee between 1 January and 30 June 2017, which was relied upon in light of the CSC’s refusal to appoint members of the Appeals Committee (Judgment 4049). The Tribunal noted that two out of four members of the Appeals Committee were chosen “[b]y way of exception” among eligible staff members in the pool of staff representatives and that the composition was thus in accordance with the relevant provisions “which are not ambiguous”. The ILOAT’s judgment in this regard will bring stability for the Office’s internal means of redress which operate under the authority of external Chair and Vice-Chairs since October 2017.

Wherever relevant medical issues are identified during a disciplinary procedure, the Tribunal clarified the duty of the Disciplinary Committee to order a medical assessment and determine its scope. The Tribunal also stressed the duty of staff to cooperate with medical proceedings, which is the counterpart to the Office’s duty of care, and that in instances where a staff member refuses to undergo a required medical examination or to provide relevant medical background information, “the examination can be undertaken on the basis of documents, if necessary.” (Judgment 3989, consideration 4; cf. Judgment 3986, consideration 8).

In sum, the EPO-related judgments should be taken as a reminder of the need for the administration and all staff members to work together to enter into a constructive social dialogue and, in case of litigation, ensure the functioning of the legal protection of staff through an efficient system of internal and external means of redress.

Laurent Germond, Director
Directorate Employment Law

Märpel thinks that Mr Germond wishes for “the administration and all staff members to work together ” seem to forget that the it is the administration that dismissed staff members even when the appeal committee gave a positive opinion. He also seem to forget that the same administration created a new investigation unit with vast powers and absolutely no normative control. Last but not least, he also forgets that the same administration later modified the internal means of redress several times until they practically gave the administration 100% success.

The reason we’ve been attracted to EPO scandals is the sheer abundance of them. It’s a magnet of abuse, just like the UPC lobby, which we dubbed “Team UPC”. Yesterday we wrote about Team UPC's spin regarding the short statement from the British government — one that’s now being covered by World Trademark Review (“”No closer to clarity” – UK’s Brexit White Paper offers clues to future IP approach, but big questions remain”) and by Edward Nodder (Bristows) with that word “confirms” again (only hours ago). He said that in relation to something which boils down to a lie or intentional misinformation.

Bristows LLP has been marketing these ‘unitary’ patents for a number of years; it may have lots of explaining to do, e.g. to clients, if this advice was all for a bogus idea, just like those bogus job openings it kept advertising (the EPO is doing the same thing right now).

“This new development once again confirms the UK’s commitment to the project to establish a unified European jurisdiction on patents, as already made clear by its ratification of the UPC Agreement,” Nodder wrote. No, nothing has been confirmed and there are many barriers remaining. The EPO does not even obey the law when it’s expected to obey it like everybody else; giving it control over the UPC (courts) would be worse than insane.

Links 13/7/2018: Kube 0.7.0, Trisquel 8.0 LTS Reviewed

Friday 13th of July 2018 03:56:17 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Support increases for ETSI’s Open Source MANO

    Implementing NFV was always going to be a challenge for telcos and their vendor and integrator partners, more so with actually getting services into operation. Even if we leave aside the herculean task on onboarding VNFs, one of the biggest concerns has been orchestration. Constant network changes caused by the dynamic and agile architecture of NFV needs to be managed automatically by orchestrators.

    For telcos, there are two different initiatives that are driving the management of network orchestration – and whilst, at times, they have been viewed as competitive, current thinking tends to place them as complementary (it all depends to whom you talk).

    Back in 2016, ETSI created the Open Source MANO (management and network orchestration) industry standards group, built on the back of its ground-breaking efforts to develop a standards framework for telco NFV. Meanwhile, the Linux Foundation is investing huge amounts of time and resources on its ONAP project (open network automation platform), after AT&T released its ECOMP work to open source and it merged with the China-led OPEN-O.

  • News of Note—ZTE closing in on lifting U.S. ban; ETSI OSM tops century mark for membership and more
  • Desktop
    • Chromium OS for Raspberry Pi SBCs Is Making a Comeback Soon, Better Than Ever

      In July 2016, Callahan wrote to us that he is looking for new team members to join his project to continue full-scale work on Chromium OS for SBCs. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as a few months after the announcement we published back then, Flint Innovations Limited informed us that Chromium OS for SBCs was forked into Flint OS.

      Flint Innovations had some big plans for Flint OS, supporting not only Raspberry Pi boards, but also x86 computers with Intel and Nvidia GPUs, and also promised to let users run Android apps, a Google initiative that’s now mainstream on Chrome OS and already supported by most Chromebooks out there. In March 2018, Flint OS was bought by Neverware.

  • Server
    • Greens ‘bewildered’ by kerfuffle over Microsoft’s Protected cloud status

      The Australian Greens say they are “bewildered” at the way the Australian Signals Directorate has handled Microsoft’s application for Protected cloud certification and the subsequent departure of a top female officer from the agency’s ranks.

      Protected cloud is the highest security classification for vendors and allows a company to apply for contracts to store top-secret Australian Government data.

      In response to queries from iTWire, Greens’ digital communications spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John said: “A staffer within the Australian Signals Directorate dared to refuse an application from foreign multinational company, Microsoft.

      “This application ensured secure cloud services receiving protected certification. Approving this certification meant that Microsoft overseas employees could access secure information for government departments.

      [...]

      Microsoft has been allowed to have staff based abroad handle systems on which top-secret data is stored. For the other four Australian companies, only staff vetted by the ASD can administer these systems.

      “It seems that there is one rule for multinational corporations, and another rule for Australian businesses, who are yet to get a look in to providing Protected cloud services to the Australian Public Service,” Senator Steele-John said.

      “Australians have a right to know that the corporate interest is not being put ahead of the the security of our data.”

    • Container Adoption Starts to Outpace DevOps

      A new survey finds the number of organizations using containers is poised to pass the number of organizations employing DevOps processes in the months ahead. Less clear, however, is the degree to which adoption of containers will force organizations to embrace DevOps.

      The survey of 601 IT decision-makers conducted by ClearPath Strategies on behalf of the Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF) finds that 32 percent of respondents have adopted containers and are employing DevOps processes. But the number of respondents who plan to adopt or evaluate containers in the next 12 months is 25 percent, while 17 percent are planning to adopt or evaluate DevOps processes. Overall, the survey finds that within the next two years, 72 percent of respondents either already are or expect to be using containers. That compares to 66 percent who say the same for DevOps.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Foundation
      • The Linux Foundation Forms Open Source Energy Coalition

        The Linux Foundation formed a new open source coalition with support from European transmission power systems provider RTE, Vanderbilt University, the European Network of Transmission System Operators, and the Electric Power Research Institute.

        Called LF Energy, the coalition’s members seek to inform and expedite the energy transition, including the move to electric mobility as well as connected sensors and devices, while at the same time modernizing and protecting the grid, according to the Linux Foundation.

        The coalition intends to focus on reusable components, open APIs and interfaces through project communities that the energy sector can adopt into platforms and solutions, the foundation says.

        “LF Energy is an umbrella organization that will support and sustain multi-vendor collaboration and open source progress in the energy and electricity sectors to accelerate information and communication technologies (ICT) critical to balanced energy use and economic value,” says the Linux Foundation, which was founded in 2000 to accelerate open technology development and industry adoption.

      • The Linux Foundation Transforms the Energy Industry with New Initiative: LF Energy

        We are thrilled to introduce the new LF Energy initiative to support and promote open source in the energy and electricity sectors. LF Energy is focused on accelerating the energy transition, including the move to renewable energy, electric mobility, demand response and more.

        Open source has transformed industries as vast and different as telecommunications, financial services, automobiles, healthcare, and consumer products. Now we are excited to bring the same level of open collaboration and shared innovation to the power systems industry.

      • The Linux Foundation Launches LF ENERGY, New Open Source Coalition

        Just as open source software has transformed automobiles, telecommunications, financial services, and healthcare, The Linux Foundation today announces the formation of LF Energy with support from RTE, Europe’s biggest transmission power systems provider, and other organizations, to speed technological innovation and transform the energy mix across the world.

        LF Energy also welcomes four new projects to be hosted at The Linux Foundation as part of the initiative, which will advance everything from smart assistants for system operators to smart grid controls software.

      • 5 Reasons Open Source Certification Matters More Than Ever

        In today’s technology landscape, open source is the new normal, with open source components and platforms driving mission-critical processes and everyday tasks at organizations of all sizes. As open source has become more pervasive, it has also profoundly impacted the job market. Across industries the skills gap is widening, making it ever more difficult to hire people with much needed job skills. In response, the demand for training and certification is growing.

      • Developer Recruitment Drives Open Source Funding

        The latest 2018 Open Source Jobs Report points to several ways employers can help developers. For the study, the Linux Foundation and Dice surveyed over 750 hiring managers involved with recruiting open source professionals.

        Due to the survey’s subject, it is not surprising almost half of hiring managers (48 percent) say their company decided to financially support or contribute open source projects to help with recruitment. Although this sounds incredibly compelling, it is fair to question how much hiring managers actually know about open source management. Since 57 percent of hiring managers say their company contributes to open source projects, a back-of-the-envelope calculation says that 84 percent of companies that contribute to open source are doing so at least in part to get new employees.

        The New Stack and The Linux Foundation have teamed up to survey the community about ways to standardize and promote open source policies programmatically. We encourage readers to participate.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Vega 20 Support Added To RadeonSI Gallium3D Driver

        With the upcoming Linux 4.18 kernel release due out in August there is the AMDGPU kernel driver support for Vega 20, the yet-to-be-released Vega GPU said to be the 7nm part launching later this year in Radeon Instinct products and featuring 32GB of HBM2 and adding some new deep learning instructions. Now the RadeonSI Gallium3D user-space driver for OpenGL within Mesa has Vega 20 support.

      • NVIDIA 396.24.10 Linux Driver Brings Vulkan 8-Bit / Renderpass2 / Conditional Render

        NVIDIA developers today released the 396.24.10 driver, their latest beta driver for Linux focused on the latest Vulkan innovations and improvements and is joined by the Windows 398.58 driver.

        The NVIDIA 396.24.10 Linux driver (and 398.58 beta for Windows) are focused on delivering the functionality added with the recent Vulkan 1.1.80 specification update.

    • Benchmarks
      • Windows Server 2016 vs. FreeBSD 11.2 vs. 8 Linux Distributions Performance Benchmarks

        Given the recent releases of FreeBSD 11.2, Scientific Linux 6.10, openSUSE Leap 15, and other distribution updates in the past quarter, here are some fresh benchmarks of eight different Linux distributions compared to FreeBSD 11.2 and Microsoft Windows Server 2016. The tested Linux platforms for this go-around were CentOS 7.5, Clear Linux 23610, Debian 9.4, Fedora Server 28, openSUSE leap 15.0, Scientific Linux 6.10, Scientific Linux 7.5, and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Profiling memory usage on Linux with Qt Creator 4.7

        You may have heard about the Performance Analyzer (called “CPU Usage Analyzer” in Qt Creator 4.6 and earlier). It is all about profiling applications using the excellent “perf” tool on Linux. You can use it locally on a Linux-based desktop system or on various embedded devices. perf can record a variety of events that may occur in your application. Among these are cache misses, memory loads, context switches, or the most common one, CPU cycles, which periodically records a stack sample after a number of CPU cycles have passed. The resulting profile shows you what functions in your application take the most CPU cycles. This is the Performance Analyzer’s most prominent use case, at least so far.

      • KDE Applications 18.04 Reaches End of Life, KDE Apps 18.08 Coming August 16

        Coming about a five weeks after the release of the second maintenance update, the KDE Applications 18.04.3 point release is now available with a number of bug fixes, translation updates, and other improvements to make sure the open-source software suite offers users a stable and pleasant experience.

        About 20 bug fixes have been recorded for KDE Applications 18.04.3 to improve applications like Ark, Cantor, Dolphin, Gwenview, JuK, Kate, KFind, KGPG, KMag, KMail, KNotes, Konsole, Kontact, Marble, and Okular, as well as numerous other core components. A full changelog is available here for your reading pleasure.

      • Kube 0.7.0 is out!

        While we remain committed to building a first class email experience we’re starting to venture a little beyond that with calendaring, while keeping our eyes focused on the grander vision of a tool that isn’t just yet another email client, but an assistant that helps you manage communication, time and tasks.

      • Third Weekly Post

        I wonder if the palettes still need the tag system. All right, a question to ask in the next meeting.

        These 2 weeks have been great for me, because I had a change to really get myself familiarized with the Qt MVC system. I believe I’ll be confident when I need to use it in future projects.

        The next step is too make Krita store palettes used in a painting in its .kra file. There seems to be some annoying dependency stuff, but I should be able to handle.

      • I’m going to KDE Akademy 2018

        Less than a month left until KDE Akademy 2018. As part of the local organization team, this is going to be a busy time, but having Akademy in such a great city as Vienna is gonna be awesome.

        You will over the next weeks find many more “I’m going to Akademy” posts on Planet KDE detailing the Akademy plans of other people. So here in this post I don’t want to look forward, but back and tell you the story of the (in retrospect quite long) process of how a few people from Vienna decided to put in a bid to organize Akademy 2018.

      • I too am going to Akademy

        In about a month I’ll be in the beautiful city of Vienna, giving a talk on the weird stuff I make using ImageMagick, Kdenlive, Synfig and FFmpeg so I can construct videos so bad and campy you could almost confuse them for being ironic…

      • An update on KDE’s Streamlined Onboarding Goal, Akademy talk and first sprint

        As I described in the introductory post, KDE has been working towards a trinity of goals and I have been responsible for pushing forward the Streamlined onboarding of new contributors one.

        Half a year has passed since my initial blog post and with Akademy, KDE’s annual conference, coming up in a month this is a great time to post a quick update on related developments.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Trisquel 8.0 LTS Review: Successful Freedom of 2018

        Trisquel 8.0 is a success in reaching freedom goal (meaning: no proprietary at all) for overall computer users, especially desktop. It is a 100% free distro which is complete, user friendly, and instant. Compared to regular distros, it’s at least equally low in requirements but high in usability; compared to common free distros, it’s active (not dormant) and long-standing (since 2007). This operating system can be used by general computer users, produced in mass computers (i.e. sold in a PC/laptop), and especially software freedom people. This year, 2018, anybody wants the true free distro would be happy with Trisquel.

      • Clear Linux Makes a Strong Case for Your Next Cloud Platform

        There are so many Linux distributions available, some of which are all-purpose and some that have a more singular focus. Truth be told, you can take most general distributions and turn them into purpose-driven platforms. But, when it comes to things like cloud and IoT, most prefer distributions built with that specific use in mind. That’s where the likes of Clear Linux comes in. This particular flavor of Linux was designed for the cloud, and it lets you install either an incredibly bare OS or one with exactly what you need to start developing for cloud and/or IoT.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Taiwan Travel Blog – Day 4

        I had to take care of a few things this morning so I left the hostel a little bit later than I would have liked. I’ve already done quite a few trails and I’m slowly starting to exhaust the places I wanted to visit in the Taroko National Park, or at least the ones I can reach via public bus.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Empowering Linux Developers for the New Wave of Innovation

            Machine learning and IoT in particular offer huge opportunities for developers, especially those facing the crowded markets of other platforms, to engage with a sizeable untapped audience.

            That Linux is open source makes it an amazing breeding ground for innovation. Developers aren’t constrained by closed ecosystems, meaning that Linux has long been the operating system of choice for developers. So by engaging with Linux, businesses can attract the best available developer skills.

            The Linux ecosystem has always strived for a high degree of quality. Historically it was the Linux community taking sole responsibility for packaging software, gating each application update with careful review to ensure it worked as advertised on each distribution of Linux. This proved difficult for all sides.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • A look at Ubuntu 18.04 Budgie

              I like this. I like this a lot. It’s exactly what I’d been hoping it would be, after the previous failures at a happy Budgie desktop. I haven’t used it for long enough to get as deep into messing with it as I probably will in the future, so maybe I’ll find issues at that time; but Ubuntu 18.04 Budgie is seeming to be a quite solid, attractive, and easy to use system for people who want even more eyecandy, or are sick of the usual environments.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • What’s the difference between a fork and a distribution?

    If you’ve been around open source software for any length of time, you’ll hear the terms fork and distribution thrown around casually in conversation. For many people, the distinction between the two isn’t clear, so here I’ll try to clear up the confusion.

  • Stordis and Barefoot Lead Open Source Networking in Europe

    The German company Stordis distributes telecom equipment in Europe. But Stordis is in the process of repositioning itself as the champion of open source networking hardware and software for European service providers. And it’s working closely with Barefoot Networks as part of its strategy.

    It plans to provide hardware from bare metal suppliers such as Edgecore and Delta. It will offer consultancy and support services to help European service providers adopt open source networking software. And the company is in the process of ramping the manufacturing of a 100 Gig switch that is based on Barefoot’s Tofino programmable chip.

    [...]

    But Stordis’ strategy of targeting broadcasters first will hopefully lead to a willingness for other service providers to try open source. And the company is involved with the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla Addons Blog: Upcoming changes for themes

        Theming capabilities on addons.mozilla.org (AMO) will undergo significant changes in the coming weeks. We will be switching to a new theme technology that will give designers more flexibility to create their themes. It includes support for multiple background images, and styling of toolbars and tabs. We will migrate all existing themes to this new format, and their users should not notice any changes.

        [...]

        It’s only a matter of weeks before we release the new theme format on AMO. Keep following this blog for that announcement.

      • OverbiteNX is now available from Mozilla Add-Ons for beta testing

        OverbiteNX, a successor to OverbiteFF which allows Firefox to continue to access legacy resources in Gopher in the brave courageous new world of WebExtensions, is now in public beta. Unlike the alpha test, which required you to download the repo and install the extension using add-on debugging, OverbiteNX is now hosted on Mozilla Add-Ons.

        Because WebExtensions still doesn’t have a TCP sockets API, nor a spec, OverbiteNX uses its bespoke Onyx native component to do network operations. Onyx is written in open-source portable C with no dependencies and is available in pre-built binaries for macOS 10.12+ and Windows (or get the repo and build it yourself on almost any POSIX system).

  • SaaS/Back End
    • Talking mobile edge computing and open source software with Kontron Canada Inc.

      A crucial facilitator of Kontron Canada’s hardware-software evolution has been open source software.

      Integration of OpenStack in particular has proven a differentiator for the company, not least because it can tap into the expertise of a community of experts at an economical price. Open source software also enables flexibility for clients to build networks and data centres in their own way.

      However, while the perks of cloud adoption for organisations in industries such as telecoms are well-documented, deterrents such as higher than anticipated costs, start-up delays and being locked into a vendor’s specific approach do exist.

      Kontron’s OpenStack turnkey platform solution, fully integrated with the Canonical distribution of Ubuntu OpenStack, alleviates these concerns.

      Robert explains how Kontron’s hardware must keep aligned with updates from Canonical and the OpenStack community: “Canonical have their own releases of their distribution of OpenStack and our software team does all the work behind the scenes to make sure that it will be fully validated and integrated on our hardware.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • ARM Takes Down Its Website That Attacked Open-Source Rival

      ARM, the incredibly successful developer of CPU designs, appears to be getting a little nervous about an open-source rival that’s gaining traction. At the end of June, ARM launched a website outlining why it’s better than its competitor’s offerings and it quickly blew up in its face. Realising the site was a bad look, ARM has now taken it down.

      For the uninitiated, ARM Holdings designs various architectures and cores that it licenses to major chipmakers around the world. Its tech can be found in over 100 billion chips manufactured by huge names like Apple and Nvidia as well as many other lesser-known players in the low-power market. If ARM is Windows, you can think of RISC-V as an early Linux. Like ARM, it’s an architecture based on reduced instruction set computing (RISC), but it’s free to use and open to anyone to contribute or modify. While ARM has been around since 1991, RISC-V just got started in 2010 but it’s gaining a lot of ground and ARM’s pitiful website could easily be seen as a legitimising moment for the tech.

    • Perspecta to Sponsor 7th Annual OSEHRA Open Source Summit; Mac Curtis Comments
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Introducing Alyssa Rosenzweig, intern with the FSF tech team

      Howdy there, fellow cyber denizens; ’tis I, Alyssa Rosenzweig, your friendly local biological life form! I’m a certified goofball, licensed to be silly under the GPLv3, but more importantly, I’m passionate about free software’s role in society. I’m excited to join the Free Software Foundation as an intern this summer to expand my understanding of our movement. Well, that, and purchasing my first propeller beanie in strict compliance with the FSF office dress code!

      Anywho, I hail from a family of engineers and was introduced to programming at an early age. As a miniature humanoid, I discovered that practice let me hit buttons on a keyboard and have my textual protagonist dance on my terminal — that was cool! Mimicking those around me, I hacked with an Apple laptop, running macOS, compiling in Xcode, and talking on Skype. I was vaguely aware of the free software ethos, so sometimes I liberated my code. Sometimes I did not. I was little more than a button masher with a flashing TTY; I wrote video games while inside a video game, my life firewalled from reality.

    • Sonali’s Progress on the Free Software Directory, weeks 1-2

      The last few weeks have been very enlightening. I learned about MediaWiki extensions, like MobileFrontend, CSS, vim, and other mobile extensions. I installed MobileFrontend, and resolved a few issues I faced regarding HeaderTabs and in-line view. It feels great to have been able to get the basic structure for mobile view by now.

      As a part of my project to make the Free Software Directory mobile friendly, I can add extensions, modify the code, and format the pages the way I like. I have complete freedom to experiment on their development site as much as I want. It’s wonderful to be able to work on something I really enjoy under the guidance of experienced mentors.

    • DataBasin + DataBasinKit 1.0 released

      DataBasin is a tool to access and work with SalesForce.com. It allows to perform queries remotely, export and import data, inspect single records and describe objects. DataBasinKit is its underlying framework which implements the APIs in Objective-C. Works on GNUstep (major Unix variants and MinGW on windows) and natively on macOS.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Data
      • Rethinking our approach to open-source data

        Open-source data is built on the foundation of long-term useability, authenticity and reliability. Its public nature means that it can be accessible anywhere with an internet connection.

        Yet when we talk about the government data that needs to be protected for national security reasons, classified information—related to defence and intelligence services—often takes precedence. But what about the protection of unclassified, open-source government data?

        Websites like data.gov.au, Trove and Parl Info Search host a broad range of data that collectively documents the political, social and cultural history of Australia. Over time, this data accumulates to paint a detailed picture of our country. It’s a high-value dataset given the trends big data analytics can reveal.

  • Programming/Development
    • ​Python language founder steps down

      After almost 30 years of overseeing the development of the world’s most popular language, Python, its founder and “Benevolent Dictator For Life” (BDFL), Guido van Rossum, has decided he would like to remove myself entirely from the decision process.

      Van Rossum isn’t leaving Python entirely. He said, “I’ll still be there for a while as an ordinary core dev, and I’ll still be available to mentor people — possibly more available.”

    • Guido van Rossum resigns as Python leader

      Python creator and Benevolent Leader for Life Guido van Rossum has decided, in the wake of the difficult PEP 572 discussion, to step down from his leadership of the project.

    • Locks versus channels in concurrent Go

      In this article, a short look at goroutines, threads, and race conditions sets the scene for a look at two Go programs. In the first program, goroutines communicate through synchronized shared memory, and the second uses channels for the same purpose. The code is available from my website in a .zip file with a README.

    • Pete Zaitcev: Guido van Rossum steps down
    • Guido van Rossum Stepping Down from Role as Python’s Benevolent Dictator For Life

      Python’s Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL) Guido van Rossum today announced he’s stepping down from the role.

      On the Python mailing list today, van Rossum said, “I would like to remove myself entirely from the decision process. I’ll still be there for a while as an ordinary core dev, and I’ll still be available to mentor people—possibly more available. But I’m basically giving myself a permanent vacation from being BDFL, and you all will be on your own.”

    • GCC 8 Hasn’t Been Performing As Fast As It Should For Skylake With “-march=native”

      It turns out that when using GCC 8 since April (or GCC 9 development code) if running on Intel Skylake (or newer architectures like the yet-to-be-out Cannonlake or Icelake) and compile your code with the “-march=native” flag for what should tune for your CPU microarchitecture’s full capabilities, that hasn’t entirely been the case. A fix is en route that can correct the performance by as much as 60%.

    • GCC 8.2 Compiler Will Be Releasing Soon

      Developers behind the GNU Compiler Collection intend to get release preparations underway soon for the GCC 8.2 compiler.

      GCC8 remains open for bug/regression fixes and documentation updates with GCC 8.2 due to be the first point release under the GCC versioning policy where the May release of GCC 8.1 marked the project’s first stable feature release of GCC8. New feature development meanwhile remains focused on GCC 9, which will be released initially as GCC 9.1 around early 2019.

      So to no surprise, GCC 8.2 is set to carry just various regression fixes primarily as more developers began trying out this annually updated compiler following the recent stable release.

    • Upcoming git-crecord release

      More than 1½ years since the first release of git-crecord, I’m preparing a big update. Not aware how exactly many people are using it, I neglected the maintenance for some time, but last month I’ve decided I need to take action and fix some issues I’ve known since the first release.

Leftovers
  • Health/Nutrition
    • North Dakota: Water Protector Red Fawn Fallis Sentenced to 57 Months

      In Bismarck, North Dakota, an indigenous water protector who was arrested during protests in 2016 against the Dakota Access pipeline has been sentenced to four years and nine months in federal prison. Prosecutors said Red Fawn Fallis fired three shots from a handgun as police in riot gear, wielding batons, surrounded her to make an arrest on October 27 amid mass protests against the pipeline. Fallis was one of 761 people arrested during indigenous-led resistance to the pipeline in 2016 and ’17.

    • Reflections on Drug Patents and the High Cost of Healthcare

      For this last example of drug-patent abuse, let us consider what may be the most-esoteric ploy for patent-term extension in patent-law history: Janssen’s attempt to surgically re-configure the lineage history of U.S. Patent No. 6,284,471(“the ‘471 patent”), to avoid a double-patenting rejection.

      The ‘471 patent covers Remicade, an antibody biologic drug for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, including arthritis and Crohn’s disease. It is marketed in the U.S. by Johnson & Johnson, with annual sales of around $4 billion.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • The Holes in the Official Skripal Story

      The nub of the British government’s approach has been the shocking willingness of the corporate and state media to parrot repeatedly the lie that the nerve agent was Russian made, even after Porton Down said they could not tell where it was made and the OPCW confirmed that finding. In fact, while the Soviet Union did develop the “novichok” class of nerve agents, the programme involved scientists from all over the Soviet Union, especially Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia, as I myself learnt when I visited the newly decommissioned Nukus testing facility in Uzbekistan in 2002.

      Furthermore, it was the USA who decommissioned the facility and removed equipment back to the United States. At least two key scientists from the programme moved to the United States. Formulae for several novichok have been published for over a decade. The USA, UK and Iran have definitely synthesised a number of novichok formulae and almost certainly others have done so too. Dozens of states have the ability to produce novichok, as do many sophisticated non-state actors.

      As for motive, the Russian motive might be revenge, but whether that really outweighs the international opprobrium incurred just ahead of the World Cup, in which so much prestige has been invested, is unclear.

      What is certainly untrue is that only Russia has a motive. The obvious motive is to attempt to blame and discredit Russia. Those who might wish to do this include Ukraine and Georgia, with both of which Russia is in territorial dispute, and those states and jihadist groups with which Russia is in conflict in Syria. The NATO military industrial complex also obviously has a plain motive for fueling tension with Russia.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Why I Stand With Julian Assange

      This weekend I joined a number of people for an online vigil in support of Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. Some have asked why I did it: after all, Assange is at best an imperfect figure. But supporting Assange transcends just him, because the battle over his prosecution is about something greater: the future of free speech and a free press. Even if you think Assange doesn’t matter, those things do.

      Assange is challenging to even his staunchest supporters. In 2010, he was a hero to opponents of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while others called him an enemy of the state for working with whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Now most of Assange’s former supporters see him as a traitor and a Putin tool for releasing emails from the Democratic National Committee. Even with the sexual assault inquiry against him having been dismissed, Assange is a #MeToo villain. He a traitor who hides from justice inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, or a spy, or some web-made Frankenstein with elements of all the above. And while I’ve never met Assange, I’ve spoken to multiple people who know him well, and the words “generous,” “warm,” and “personable” are rarely included in their descriptions.

    • Julian Assange takes on ex-Labour MP and PR man Richard Hillgrove to seek ‘political solution’ to extradition impasse

      Julian Assange has taken on a new team to provide PR, parliamentary engagement and other services, as he attempts to secure a way for him to end his stay in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

      [...]

      Hillgrove told PRWeek that the situation was currently at a “deadlock”, and pointed to a UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention statement in 2016, which said Assange should receive compensation from the UK authorities. “GWA is trying to create a political solution,” he continued.

      One aspect that may be emphasised in GWA and 6HillGrove’s campaigning is the high costs incurred by UK police since Assange’s initial arrest and release in 2010.

      Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson has also used 6Hillgrove around other cases.

      Two other recently acquired joint clients of GWA and Hillgrove are Rose McGowan, the actress who has led accusations and outcry against Harvey Weinstein, and Dr Frank d’Ambrosio, a US medical cannabis practitioner.

    • NPR says I’m planning “global chaos.” This is a half-truth

      There are three quick-and-easy methods by which one may deduce that there is something seriously wrong with the story that NPR did on me and my non-profit organization Pursuance earlier this year, even if one is entirely unfamiliar with the subject matter.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
  • Finance
    • Why is Germany siding with the tax havens against corporate transparency?

      Germany’s supposedly left-wing new finance minister, the Social Democratic Party’s Olaf Scholz, is in the process of sabotaging European efforts to make companies be more transparent about their financial affairs. Specifically, he has just indicated that he favours a procedural approach to Country-by-country reporting (CbCR, see below) that could be subject to veto by companies and by tax havens.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Four Turkish Graduates Arrested Over Cartoon Mocking Erdogan

      Four recent graduates of a top Turkish university have been arrested for displaying a cartoon mocking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at their graduation ceremony, according to the state-run Anadolu agency.

      The Middle East Technical University students in the July 6 ceremony in Ankara made and carried a long banner printed with a cartoon of animals whose faces resembled Erdogan, entitled “The World of Tayyip.”

    • Egypt’s Draconian New Cybercrime Bill Will Only Increase Censorship

      The hope that filled Egypt’s Internet after the 2011 January 25 uprising has long since faded away. In recent years, the country’s military government has instead created a digital dystopia, pushing once-thriving political and journalism communities into closed spaces or offline, blocking dozens of websites, and arresting a large number of activists who once relied upon digital media for their work.

      In the past two years, we’ve witnessed the targeting of digital rights defenders, journalists, crusaders against sexual harassment, and even poets, often on trumped-up grounds of association with a terrorist organization or “spreading false news.” Now, the government has put forward a new law that will result in its ability to target and persecute just about anyone who uses digital technology.

      The new 45-article cybercrime law, named the Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes law, is divided into two parts. The first part of the bill stipulates that service providers are obligated to retain user information (i.e. tracking data) in the event of a crime, whereas the second part of the bill covers a variety of cybercrimes under overly broad language (such as “threat to national security”).

      Article 7 of the law, in particular, grants the state the authority to shut down Egyptian or foreign-based websites that “incite against the Egyptian state” or “threaten national security” through the use of any digital content, media, or advertising. Article 2 of the law authorizes broad surveillance capabilities, requiring telecommunications companies to retain and store users’ data for 180 days. And Article 4 explicitly enables foreign governments to obtain access to information on Egyptian citizens and does not make mention of requirements that the requesting country have substantive data protection laws.

    • Bradley M. Kuhn: On Avoiding Conflation of Political Speech and Hate Speech

      If you’re one of the people in the software freedom community who is attending O’Reilly’s Open Source Software Convention (OSCON) next week here in Portland, you may have seen debate about O’Reilly and Associates (ORA)’s surreptitious Code of Conduct change (and quick revocation thereof) to name “political affiliation” as a protected class. If you’re going to OSCON or plan to go to an OSCON or ORA event in the future, I suggest that you familiarize yourself with this issue and the political historical context in which these events of the last few days take place.

      First, OSCON has always been political: software freedom is inherently a political struggle for the rights of computer users, so any conference including that topic is necessarily political. Additionally, O’Reilly himself had stated his political positions many times at OSCON, so it’s strange that, in his response this morning, O’Reilly admits that he and his staff tried to require via agreements that “speakers … refrain from all political speech”. OSCON can’t possibly be a software freedom community event if ORA’s “intent … [is] to make sure that conferences put on for the exchange of technical information aren’t politicized” (as O’Reilly stated today). OTOH, I’m not surprised by this tack, because O’Reilly, in large part via OSCON, often pushed forward political views that O’Reilly likes, and marginalize those he doesn’t.

      Second, I must strongly disagree with ORA’s new (as of this morning) position that Codes of Conduct should only include “protected classes” that the laws of a particular country currently recognize. Codes of Conduct exist in our community not only as mechanism to assure the rights of protected classes, but also to assure that everyone feels safe and free of harassment and hate speech. In fact, most Codes of Conduct in our community have “including but not limited to” language alongside any list of protected classes, and IMO all of them should.

      [...]

      And, not all political issues are equal. I follow copyleft politics because it’s my been my day job for two decades. But, I admit there are stakes even higher with other political topics, and having watched how ORA has handled the politics of copyleft for decades, I’m fearful that ORA is (at best) ill-equipped to handle political issues that can cause real harm — such as the current political climate that permits hate speech, and even racist speech (think of Trump calling Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas”), as standard political fare. The stakes of contemporary politics now leave people feeling unsafe. Since OSCON is a political event, ORA should face this directly rather than pretending OSCON is merely a series of technical lectures.

    • State Appeals Court Tosses Defamation Suit Against Lawyer Who Wrote About Teen Driver Who Injured His Client

      An interesting sidebar to a case we’ve written about previously has surfaced via the ever-attentive Eric Goldman. Last month we covered a lawsuit against Snapchat brought by the victims of an car accident. The victims claim Snapchat is at least partially responsible for the injuries inflicted on Karen Maynard. The driver of the other vehicle, Christal McGee, was allegedly driving at over 100 mph when she hit Maynard’s vehicle. The suit also alleged — based on passenger statements, accident reconstruction, and police reports — McGee was using Snapchat’s “Speed” filter when the accident occurred.

      The Georgia state appeals court allowed the case to proceed, but not on Section 230 grounds. It was remanded to the lower court to allow for more exploration of the issues at hand, noting that Section 230 likely does not apply to software created by Snapchat itself. Of course, dismissal may still be the outcome as it’s going to be tough to prove Snapchat’s creation of a filter was either negligence or contributory to the accident caused by McGee’s unsafe driving.

      The sidebar is this: Christal McGee has racked up a loss in Georgia Appeals Court in a case tied to the accident she caused. McGee sued Michael Neff — the Maynards’ legal rep in the lawsuit against Snapchat — for defamation. According to McGee, Neff’s blog post detailing the Snapchat lawsuit was defamatory. The lower court allowed the case to proceed, slapping aside Neff’s anti-SLAPP motion.

    • SA film and publications bill amounts to ‘internet censorship’ says ISPA

      The Film and Publications Amendment Bill approved by the National Assembly in March 2018 is a classic example of good intentions gone bad and should be sent back and re-written, according to the Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA).

      The draft legislation, which is now before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), legislates for the rights and responsibilities of media producers and consumers, lays out what content is legal or illegal and how media can be classified with age ratings.

      However, the Act was initially drafted in 1996, before the spread of internet usage in South Africa, and ISPA says it needs redrafting for the internet and social media age.

    • Censorship, and an unexpected friendship

      Sari Braithwaite spent a year watching nearly two thousand film clips.

      They had all been secretly cut from international films by the Australian Censorship Board, and filed away until censorship laws changed in the late 1970s.

      Her film Censored screened at the 2018 Sydney Film Festival.

      Sari came across the collection in the Archives while she was hunting around for paperwork about another film she was working on, about Anne Deveson.

    • What Is Israel Hiding About Its Nuclear Program in the ’50s?

      Israel’s censors may indeed protect state security but they also conceal information that might embarrass public officials

    • KU flag removal ‘smacks of censorship’: ACLU, free speech advocates defend art piece
    • Kansas officials seek altered US flag’s removal from museum
    • Kansas Governor and Secretary of State Pressure University to Remove Artwork

      Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer and Secretary of State Kris Kobach separately pressured officials at the University of Kansas (KU) to remove an art display, threatening the free expression of the artist, curator and KU students. The National Coalition Against Censorship is calling on Colyer and Kobach to encourage KU to return the art to its original location and cease their attempts to chill free speech at a public university.

      The artwork, Untitled (Flag 2) by Josephine Meckseper, is part of an ongoing installation organized by Creative Time that included sixteen commissioned flags by different artists, simultaneously displayed at partner sites nationwide. Meckseper’s work is a collage of an American flag and an abstract painting of the contours of the United States divided in two, symbolizing current national polarization. Deeming the piece a “desecration” of the flag, Colyer and Kobach publicly called for its removal.

    • Russia: We want volunteers to help us censor the internet
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Summer of Code: Second evaluation phase

      Now smack-openpgp depends on pgpainless directly, which means that I don’t have to create duplicate code to get bundled information from pgpainless to smack-openpgp for instance. This change gave me a huge performance boost in the development process, as it makes the next steps much more clear for me due to less abstraction.

      I rewrote the whole storage backend of smack-openpgp, keeping everything as modular as possible. Now there are 3 different store types. One store is responsible for keys, another one for metadata and a third one for trust decisions. For all of those I created a file-based implementation which just writes information to files. An implementor can for example chose to write information to a database instead. For all those store classes I wrote a parametrized junit test, meaning new implementations can easily be tested by simply inserting an instance of the new store into an array.

      Unfortunately I stumbled across yet another bug in bouncycastle, which makes it necessary to implement a workaround in my project until a patched version of bouncycastle is released.
      The issue was, that a key ring which consists of a master key and some subkeys was not exported correctly. The subkeys would be exported as normal keys, which caused the constructor of the key ring to skip those, as it expected sub keys, not normal keys. That lead to the subkeys getting lost, which caused smack-openpgp to be unable to encrypt messages for contacts which use a master key and subkeys for OpenPGP.

    • Paul v. Kavanaugh?
    • The Cybersecurity 202: Privacy advocates blast Kavanaugh for government surveillance support
    • 2015 NSA opinion indicates Kavanaugh is a threat to Fourth Amendment
    • Amash Hits Kavanaugh on Surveillance Rulings
    • EFF Responds to Vigilant Solutions’ Accusations About EFF ALPR Report

      On Tuesday, we wrote a report about how the Irvine Company, a private real estate development company, has collected automated license plate reader (ALPR) data from patrons of several of its shopping centers, and is providing the collected data to Vigilant Solutions, a contractor notorious for its contracts with state and federal law enforcement agencies across the country.

      The Irvine Company initially declined to respond to EFF’s questions, but after we published our report, the company told the media that it only collects information at three malls in Orange County (Irvine Spectrum Center, Fashion Island, and The Marketplace) and that Vigilant Solutions only provides the data to three local police departments (the Irvine, Newport Beach, and Tustin police departments).

      The next day, Vigilant Solutions issued a press release claiming that the Irvine Company ALPR data actually had more restricted access (in particular, denying transfers to the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement [ICE] agency), and demanding EFF retract the report and apologize. As we explain below, the EFF report is a fair read of the published ALPR policies of both the Irvine Company and Vigilant Solutions. Those policies continue to permit broad uses of the ALPR data, far beyond the limits that Vigilant now claims exist.

      Vigilant Solutions’ press release states that the Irvine Company’s ALPR data “is shared with select law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of mall patrons,” and that those agencies “do not have the ability in Vigilant Solutions’ system to electronically copy this data or share this data with other persons or agencies, such as ICE.”

    • The Trump Administration Is Hiding a Crucial Report on NSA Spying Practices

      Despite requests from a senator and the European Union, the Trump administration is refusing to make public an important report by a federal privacy watchdog about how the U.S. government handles personal information swept up by its surveillance.

      The public has a right to know what the government does with the vast troves of private data that American intelligence agencies collect in the course of their spying. On Thursday, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding the release of the report, significant portions of which are unclassified.

      The report is from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which was created by Congress to be an independent, bipartisan agency. Its mission is to help ensure that national security laws and programs don’t infringe on individual rights. As part of that mission, the board has issued several significant oversight reports addressing government surveillance. While we have not always agreed with the conclusions of these reports, they have played a vital role in the democratic process by educating the public about the powerful spying tools at the government’s disposal. In the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency’s illegal mass surveillance programs, the board’s work informed the public debate by prompting the declassification of additional details about these secret programs.

      Recognizing the board’s importance as a mechanism for transparency, Congress required that it make its reports public to the greatest extent possible. But now the Trump administration is wrongly trying to keep its findings secret.

    • Facebook changes privacy settings after outing members of a closed medical support group
    • Usenet Users Have Privacy Rights, But Pirates Can’t be Anonymous

      Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has scored a partial victory against Usenet provider Newsconnection. The Court of Appeal ruled that the company must ensure that it can identify potential infringers. Newsconnection is not required to implement the strict measures BREIN requested, but the court made it clear that pirates shouldn’t be anonymous.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Don’t Give the DHS Free Rein to Shoot Down Private Drones

      When government agencies refuse to let the members of the public watch what they’re doing, drones can be a crucial journalistic tool. But now, some members of Congress want to give the federal government the power to destroy private drones it deems to be an undefined “threat.” Even worse, they’re trying to slip this new, expanded power into unrelated, must-pass legislation without a full public hearing. Worst of all, the power to shoot these drones down will be given to agencies notorious for their absence of transparency, denying access to journalists, and lack of oversight.

      Back in June, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 (S. 2836), which would give the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice the sweeping new authority to counter privately owned drones. Congress shouldn’t grant DHS and DOJ such broad, vague authorities that allow them to sidestep current surveillance law.

      Now, Chairman Ron Johnson is working to include language similar to this bill in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). EFF is opposed to this idea, for many reasons.

      The NDAA is a complicated and complex annual bill to reauthorize military programs and is wholly unrelated to both DHS and DOJ. Hiding language in unrelated bills is rarely a good way to make public policy, especially when the whole Congress hasn’t had a chance to vet the policy.

    • Back Up, Motherfuckers,’ A Cop Yells at Kids With His Gun Drawn

      The video of a Texas police officer drawing his gun on kids is a perfect example of why police need de-escalation training.

      Over the past week, a Facebook video went viral, showing an El Paso police officer drawing his gun on a group of Latino kids outside a community center and handcuffing the person taking the video. The video has drawn outrage — and rightly so — as an illustration of the urgent need for robust police policies and training emphasizing de-escalation and how to interact with youth.

      The video cuts in when the officer has one of the kids detained on the ground. The other kids — upset about what’s going on — yell at the officer. In response, he draws his gun, points it at the group, and yells, “Back up, motherfuckers!” Another officer runs up, and they drag the detained kid to the roadside. While the second officer cuffs him, the first officer returns to the group with his nightstick out, yelling at the kids to “get back.”

      Seeing that the other kids are getting upset, the kid with the camera yells over, “It’s all good, wait, we’re going to put a report on these two fools. It’s all good.” The officer then approaches him and places him in handcuffs. After the kid’s mom takes the camera, the officer directs her to come over to him. When she runs away, he threatens, “I know where you live!”

    • Immigration Story Missing Context of Hunger and Freedom

      I teach journalism. So, of course, I follow journalism closely.

      On the immigration issue, many news outlets have been doing a great job covering the rallies and marches, the “baby jails” and rulings and (few) family reunifications.

      But they lack context.

      In the classroom, I emphasize that every news story—even a little one about a city sidewalk repair—must provide context. Why that sidewalk, why now? Who lives there and walks there? What sidewalks are not getting repaired? When was the sidewalk first built? What’s the budget? And so on.

      Recent news stories certainly provide some context and numbers. And many tell harrowing and important specific stories…but they mostly don’t get into the structural causes, the deep history. I worry that readers and viewers are not getting the whole story.

      What about specific references to international law, like to the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) and its promise (in Article 14) that all people have “the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution”? It was ratified by the US, and is thus “the supreme law of the land,” according to Article VI of the US Constitution.

      I’d argue that every single news story should remind that it is not illegal to cross a border and seek asylum.

    • Trump’s Supreme Court Pick: Not Great On The 4th Amendment, But His Take On The Third Party Doctrine Has Already Gone Out Of Style

      This perhaps suggests Kavanaugh will follow the other Trump appointee, Justice Gorsuch, in viewing Fourth Amendment issues dealing with tech advancements in a more traditional manner. Not necessarily a bad thing and definitely an interesting tack to take — terming records generated by devices (but stored by third parties) as “property” still at least partially owned by device users. This approach could continue to carve away at the Third Party Doctrine in the coming years if adopted in other cases.

      Other than that, Kavanaugh’s position in the DC Court of Appeals gave him the chance to handle a number of cases dealing with the Fourth Amendment, but there doesn’t appear to be many pertaining to issues the Supreme Court hasn’t already addressed. PoliceOne did hunt down a few of his takes on Terry stops. In both cases, Kavanaugh came down on the side of law enforcement.

    • SCOTUS Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Problematic Opinion On Anti-SLAPP Laws

      So Tim Cushing has just taken a peek at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s 4th Amendment rulings and Karl already looked at his questionable opinion concerning net neutrality (in which he argued (bizarrely) that what blocking content and services on a network is a 1st Amendment “editorial” decision by broadband providers). Of course, that’s just one of his 1st Amendment cases. I wanted to look over some of Kavanaugh’s other free speech related opinions. Ken “Popehat” White has done a pretty good job covering most of them, noting that for the most part, Kavanaugh takes a fairly strong First Amendment approach in the cases that come to him, and seems unlikely to upset the apple cart on First Amendment law in any significant way (if you want to see more of his opinions, this is a good place to start).

      As Ken notes, there really isn’t that much to comment on on most of those decisions, and Karl already wrote about the weird net neutrality one, but I did want to focus in on another First Amendment-adjacent case where I think Kavanaugh was incorrect: on the question of whether or not state anti-SLAPP laws apply in federal court. To be clear, by itself, this is really not a First Amendment question on its own, it’s a question about what laws apply where. The case is Abbas v. Foreign Policy Group and Kavanaugh wrote the majority opinion which said that DC’s anti-SLAPP law can not be used in federal court.

      Ken is correct that this ruling does not suggest that Kavanaugh is not interested in protecting First Amendment rights. But, that still does not mean that Kavanaugh’s ruling is correct. Ken notes that some other judges have agreed with Kavanaugh, but it’s also worth pointing out that even more judges have disagreed with Kavanaugh. Indeed, most other circuits that have taken up this issue have ruled in the other way, and said that state anti-SLAPP laws can be used in federal court. The debate over this does not come down to a First Amendment issue, but rather the issue of whether or not an anti-SLAPP law is mainly “substantive” or “procedural.” Substantive state laws apply in federal court, while procedural ones do not. Anti-SLAPP laws have elements of both procedural and substantive laws, which is why there are arguments over this. But for a variety of reasons, it seems clear to us (and to many other judges) that the substantive aspects of most anti-SLAPP laws mean they’re perfectly valid in federal court.

    • Holding the Trump Administration Accountable for Missing Deadlines to Reunify Families

      We asked the court for some remedies to address the government’s non-compliance with court orders.

      During the last hearing in the ACLU’s family separation case on July 10, Judge Dana Sabrow asked the ACLU for suggestions as to what the court should do should the government fail to comply with the court-imposed deadlines to reunite the children with their parents.

      As has now been widely reported, and as we made clear in our brief to the court on Thursday evening, the government failed to heed the court’s deadlines. It reunited 58 of the 103 children under five who were separated from their parents, but not by the July 10 deadline – the vast majority or reunifications took place on July 11. The government claimed that 33 parents were ineligible to get their children back because they were in criminal custody, had criminal histories, may have abused their children, had communicable diseases or were not actually the parents – but it did not provide any specific information about most of those 33 parents, leaving us unable to verify whether or not the parents are truly ineligible.

      In addition, the government failed to address the plight of the 12 parents who were deported without their children, and did not provide us with specific time and place for each unification as they were ordered to so that the ACLU could arrange for non-governmental organizations to assist the families and verify that reunification did in fact take place.

    • Ex-CIA Contractor MVM Admits Children Held Overnight in AZ Office Building

      Meanwhile, the U.S. military and CIA contractor MVM has admitted it detained migrant children overnight inside a vacant Phoenix office building with dark windows, no kitchen and only a few toilets. An investigation by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting uncovered what some are calling a “black site” for migrant children, after one local resident filmed children in sweatsuits being led into the building. The building was leased in March by MVM, a military contractor that Reveal reports has received nearly $250 million in contracts to transport immigrant children since 2014. A spokesperson for MVM, Inc. told Reveal that the company had indeed held children in the building overnight, calling the stays a “regrettable exception” to the company’s policy to find hotel rooms instead. Click here to see our full interview with Aura Bogado, who led the investigation.

    • Human Zoos in the Age of Trump

      When Donald Trump recently accused “illegal immigrants” of wanting to “pour into and infest our country,” there was an immediate outcry. After all, that verb, infest, had been used by the Nazis as a way of dehumanizing Jews and communists as rats, vermin, or insects that needed to be eradicated.

      Nobody, however, should have been surprised. The president has a long history of excoriating people of color as animal-like. In 1989, for instance, reacting to the rape of a white woman in New York’s Central Park, he took out full-page ads in four of the city’s major papers (total cost: $85,000) calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty and decrying “roving bands of wild criminals roaming our streets.” He was, of course, referring to the five black and Latino youngsters accused of that crime for which they were convicted — and, 10 years late, exonerated when a serial rapist and murderer finally confessed.

      Trump never apologized for his rush to judgment or his hate-filled opinions, which eventually became the template for his attacks on immigrants during the 2016 election campaign and for his presidency. He has declared many times that some people aren’t actually human beings at all but animals, pointing, in particular, to MS-13 gang members. At a rally in Tennessee at the end of May, he doubled down on this sort of invective, goading a frenzied crowd to enthusiastically shout that word — “Animals!” — back. In that way, he made those present accomplices to his bigotry. Nor are his insults and racial tirades mere rhetorical flourishes. They’ve had quite real consequences. It’s enough to look at the cages where undocumented children separated from their families at or near the U.S.-Mexico border have been held as if they were indeed animals — reporters and others regularly described one of those detention areas as being like a “zoo” or a “kennel” — not to mention their parents who are also trapped behind wire barriers, even if arousing far less attention and protest.

    • The Hammonds and the Origins of Rancher Terrorism in Burns, Oregon

      In the high desert of central Oregon, lies Harney County, a site of a long-festering and intense confrontation between federal officials and the militant property rights movement. Here federal Fish and Wildlife Service agents sought to fence off a wetland that had been trampled by a rancher’s cows on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge about thirty miles south of the dust-caked town of Burns.

      In an affidavit, Earl M. Kisler, a Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement officer, said that rancher Dwight Hammond had repeatedly threatened refuge officials with violence over an eight year period. On one occasion Hammond told the manager of the federal refuge that “he was going to tear his head off and shit down his neck.”

      According to the affidavit, Hammond threated to kill refuge manager Forrest Cameron and assistant manager Dan Walsworth and claimed he was ready to die over a fence line that the refuge wanted to construct to keep his cows out of a marsh and wetland.

      The tensions between the Hammond family and the government started when the refuge, which was established as a haven for migrating birds, refused to renew a grazing permit for Hammond’s cattle operation. Then came the incident over the wetland, which Hammond had been using as a water hole for his cows.

      On August 3, 1994, a Fish and Wildlife Service crew turned up to complete the task of fencing off the marsh. They found the fence destroyed and a monkey-wrenched earthmover parked in the middle of the marsh. While the feds were waiting on a towing service to remove the Cat, Hammond’s son Steve showed up and began calling the government men “worthless cocksuckers” and “assholes.” Hammond then arrived at the scene, according to the government’s documents, and tried to disrupt the removal of the equipment. The rancher was arrested.

    • Appeals Court Says TSA Agents Are Beyond The Reach Of Federal Lawsuits

      Thanks, Judge Krause. I’m sure Congress will get right on that. Seeing as there’s no personal benefit to Congress members and ample opportunity to piss off fellow government employees with the power to make their travel experiences closely resemble an abduction by aliens, there’s little chance of this being pursued, no matter how many cases are shrugged into their lap.

      Here’s the background: the appellant (Nadine Pellegrino) was selected for additional screening. She demanded a private screening and things went from bad to worse quickly. Items were carelessly packed and unpacked. Personal belongings were damaged. TSA agents were unhelpful, rude, and apparently deliberately obstructive. Agents claimed Pellegrino “hit” them with her belongings while in the screening room. Not “hit” as in the endpoint of a swing, but “hit” as in things bumped into them while they were dealing with an unhappy traveler. Oh, and she called the two officers in the room “bitches.” This is how a bunch of government employees — starting with the TSA agents — chose to handle it.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • It Just Got Easier for the FCC to Ignore Your Complaints

      Today, the agency approved changes to its complaint system that critics say will undermine the agency’s ability to review and act on the complaints it receives.

      On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that the controversial changes had been dropped from the proposal, but the commission voted 3–1 along party lines to approve it with the changes intact.

    • The FCC’s Sneaky Plan To Make It Easier To Ignore ISP Complaints

      Whatever the outcome, it highlights how paying attention to often wonky policy really does matter. Pai, a telecom policy wonk since his days working at Verizon, has spent the last year building the agency he envisions: namely one that sits on its hands while giant ISPs dictate most major policies, leading us down the miraculous path to supposed telecom Utopia. Pai’s Title II repeal already gutted much of the FCC’s authority over ISPs, and it’s unclear how many other revisions and rule changes he’s shoveled through for similar effect. Whoever winds up replacing Pai will have their work cut out identifying and reversing many of these changes, if they’re reversed at all.

      Meanwhile, it should probably go without saying that an agency that has completely made up supporting data for its net neutrality repeal, and made up a DDOS attack in an incredibly bizarre attempt to downplay the “John Oliver effect,” probably shouldn’t be giving lectures on “fake news” (whatever the hell that means) anytime soon.

    • India advances globally leading net neutrality regulations

      India is now one step away from having some of the strongest net neutrality regulations in the world. This week, the Indian Telecom Commission’s approved the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations to introduce net neutrality conditions into all Telecom Service Provider (TSP) licenses. This means that any net neutrality violation could cause a TSP to lose its license, a uniquely powerful deterrent. Mozilla commends this vital action by the Telecom Commission, and we urge the Government of India to move swiftly to implement these additions to the license terms.

    • India sets the bar for net neutrality with ‘world’s strictest’ rules

      Whilst the US is still fumbling after FCC head Ajit ‘Pumpkin’ Pie deregulated the internet to please his cable pals, India has just past a whole chunk of recommendations from the Telecom Regulatory Association of India (TRAI) to ensure it will never go the same way.

    • India implements strong net neutrality rules

      The government has taken an “unambiguous stand” in making sure that certain types of content are not prioritized over others and that broadband providers will be unable to slow down or block websites at their choosing, India’s telecom regulatory body declared Thursday.

      Around two-thirds of the country’s 1.3 billion people still don’t have [I]nternet access, but the country is moving forward with its net neutrality plans as more and more people begin to use smartphones.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Qualcomm reigns in global WLAN patents but Marvell rules in the US and Nokia leads by SEP count

      A new study of the wireless LAN (WLAN) global patent landscape reveals that while Qualcomm is the dominant player in the space overall, it is beaten by Marvell in the United States by active portfolio size and conspicuously absent from the list of the top holders of standard essential patents (SEPs).

    • Trademarks
      • US Burger Chain Threatens To Sue Broke Aussie Rock Band ‘Ruby Tuesdays’ For $2 Million Over Name

        Ruby Tuesday, the US burger giant that ripped its name off a Rolling Stones song, is threatening to sue a broke Aussie rock band with a similar name for infringing on their trademark.

        To the tune of an eye-watering $2 million, no less.

        Ruby Tuesday the restaurant has served Ruby Tuesdays the band with a letter outlining their intent to sue. It reads: “While many artists pay tribute to other artists through imitation, when it comes to imitating famous trademarks, only Ruby Tuesday is entitled to the goodwill of its mark.”

      • How A US Burger Chain Brought ‘Ruby Tuesday’ Full Circle Through Trademark Bullying

        Circles are so zen. So jedi. So the force. “The circle is now complete,” Darth Vader says in A New Hope. Well, it turns out that the universe has a way of pulling this sort of dynamic out of the realm of the mystical and into the far more mundane realm of trademark bullying. You may be aware of the American burger chain Ruby Tuesday. The chain has locations all over the United States and internationally. Notably, the company’s website lists no locations in Australia. This is notable because the American chain has for some reason decided to try to bully an Australian rock band, Ruby Tuesdays, into changing its name over trademark concerns.

    • Copyrights
      • Deadline Next Week For Comments On New Clauses In South African Copyright Amendment Bill

        The window for the public submissions process was initially set for 9 July but the committee issued a notification to stakeholders that due to the high number of requests, the deadline for the submissions period has been extended to 18 July. The latest call for comments is here [pdf].

        Intellectual Property Watch has seen email correspondence from the committee informing stakeholders about the extension and that “stakeholders should note that public hearings were already held on the Bill which did not include these specific clauses.”

        The draft Copyright Amendment Bill was published in the Government Gazette by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTi) in July 2015. This opened a public submissions process into the bill which ran until September 2015. The Bill was then revised in 2017 and again further submissions were made by stakeholders and public hearings were held in Parliament by the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry in August 2017.

      • Court Won’t Rehear Blurred Lines Case, Bad News For Music Creativity

        Back in March we wrote about the terrible decision by the 9th Circuit to uphold the also awful lower court ruling that the Pharrell/Robin Thicke song “Blurred Lines” infringed on Marvin Gaye’s song “Got To Give It Up.” If they had actually copied any of the copyright-protected elements of the original, this case wouldn’t be a big deal. But what was astounding about this ruling is that nowhere is any copyright-protected expression of Gaye’s shown to have been copied in Blurred Lines. Instead, they are accused of making the song have a similar “feel.” That’s… bizarre. Because “feel” or “groove” is not protectable subject matter under copyright law. And yet both the lower court and the appeals court has upheld it. And now, the 9th Circuit has refused to rehear the case en banc, though it has issued a slightly amended opinion, removing a single paragraph concerning the “inverse ratio rule” of whether or not greater access to a song means you don’t have to show as much “substantial similarity.”

        Again, this is a ruling that should greatly concern all musicians (even those who normally disagree with us on copyright issues). This is not a case about copying a song. This is a ruling that now says you can’t pay homage to another artist. It’s a case saying that you can’t build off of another artist’s general “style” or to create a song “in the style” of an artist you appreciate. This is crazy. Paying homage to other artists, or writing a song in the style of another artist is how most musicians first learn to create songs. It does no harm to the original artist, and often introduces more people to their work.

        Pharrell and Thicke can (and perhaps will?) ask the Supreme Court to hear an appeal, but, as always, it’s pretty rare to get the Supreme Court to do so. And, on top of that, as long as Ruth Bader Ginsburg remains on the court, the court has a terrible record on getting copyright cases right (and, yes, it’s almost always Ginsburg writing the awful copyright rulings).

Constitutionality and CJEU as Barriers, the UPC Agreement (UPCA) is Already Moot in the United Kingdom

Friday 13th of July 2018 05:59:28 AM

But Team UPC will leap and grab any morsel of hope it can find

Summary: The Unified Patent Court (UPC) isn’t going anywhere and the UK merely “explores” what to do about it; for Team UPC, however, this means that the UK “confirms intention to remain in Unitary Patent system after Brexit” (clearly a case of deliberate misinformation)

POOR Team UPC. Nothing goes their way lately. Their ‘hero’ Battistelli has left the EPO, leaving in charge somewhat of an uncertainty/question mark. Constitutionality challenges (more than one) render the UPC pretty much dead (Team UPC has truly gone bankers over it). This is how media owned by patent law firms (Out-Law.com) covers it this week:

On 29 June, Hungary’s Constitutional Court published a ruling in which it held that the terms of the UPC Agreement are incompatible with Hungary’s constitutional framework.

The Hungarian court took into account the fact that the UPC Agreement is not formal EU legislation but an international treaty formed through the ‘enhanced cooperation’ mechanism provided for under the Lisbon Treaty. It permits nine or more EU countries to use the EU’s processes and structures to make agreements that bind only those countries. It is through the enhanced cooperation mechanism that plans to develop a new unitary patent and UPC regime have been developed.

The Hungarian court said it would be unconstitutional to allow jurisdiction for resolving private legal disputes to transfer from Hungary’s courts to an international institution – the UPC – that is not established within the boundaries of the EU’s founding treaties, according to a summary provided by Hungary’s Intellectual Property Office.

At least 13 EU countries, including the three with the most European patents in effect in 2012 – Germany, France and the UK, must pass national legislation to ratify the UPC Agreement that the countries behind the new system finalised in 2013.

Hungary’s Constitutional Court’s decision can only further embolden Germany’s FCC to do the same. Irrespective of that, there may be more complaints on the way. It’s likely that pretty much every nation that signed/ratified UPCA violated its very own constitution (they never bothered checking). But let’s leave all that aside (for now at least), recalling the very recent statement from the British government that it would depart from CJEU, a core part of UPCA. Do they know what they’re doing? Evidently not. It’s like the typical “Brexit shambles”. There is no Unified Patent Court (UPC), there’s no Brexit, and there’s absolutely no certainty about anything. If the UPC is not constitutional in a number of member states, that further contributes to uncertainty, not to mention what happens in Spain and in Ireland.

Those who follow Team UPC closely enough might have already noticed some “tweets” about a new paper titled “The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union”.

“Hungary’s Constitutional Court’s decision can only further embolden Germany’s FCC to do the same.”“UK’s white paper on future relationship with the EU includes a reference to maintaining membership of the future EU-wide unitary patent system, but no mention at all on how current EU trademarks and designs will be implemented in UK after Brexit,” wrote Robert Harrison about this page.

The text they highlight is very clearly in conflict with other statements, including very recent ones about CJEU. But don’t let “bad” facts get in the way of “good” propaganda, right? This is, after all, Team UPC we’re talking about. Facts matter not.

Max Walters wrote (with a selective screenshot):

UK’s #Brexit white paper confirms intention to stay IN the Unified Patent Court post exit. #patents #UPC

Really? Does the word “confirms” belong here? “They carefully do not mention the CJEU relation here,” Benjamin Henrion immediately told him. They’re basically just contradicting even themselves.

“The text they highlight is very clearly in conflict with other statements, including very recent ones about CJEU.”Some people have spotted that too. “However Luke,” one of them said, “big issue with CJEU red line. Wouldn’t be at all surprised for UK to be part of UPC but lose court. Would be huge loss to UK IP…”

UPC is not a “gain” for the UK; it’s actually a big loss. It has already wasted time and money; they’re assessing something which will never materialise. The person also said: “Yes agreed on the fudge & the position of patents, but the big issue will be when it’s tested in CJEU. Think we may also find Brexiters suddenly ‘finding’ patents when things turn nasty…as they will do. Moot point of course if no deal…”

“UPC is not a “gain” for the UK; it’s actually a big loss. It has already wasted time and money; they’re assessing something which will never materialise.”Managing IP, which participated a great deal in UPC propaganda over the years, said: “The UK government’s new white paper outlines what it wants from intellectual property after it leaves the EU – but some IP professionals feel it doesn’t say enough” (Patrick Wingrove has at least bothered mentioning the critics, noting that the government contradicts itself on this issue).

Here’s what a ‘front group’ of Managing IP wrote:

Observation below. #WhitePaper dealt with geographical indications (EU doesn’t mess around with this) and UPC/unitary patent but nothing on trade marks/designs (incl. Union judicial and administrative procedures, e.g. EUIPO). Also see EU’s progress report https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/joint_statement.pdf … https://twitter.com/rjharrison000/status/1017390820176035840 …

The obvious issues didn’t bother staunch members of Team UPC, who proudly wear a “Team UPC” badge in their tweets (they actually use this term). One of them promoted his own article, titled misleadingly “UK confirms intention to remain in Unitary Patent system after Brexit” (here’s that word again, “confirms”).

Nothing was confirmed. Going back to Out-Law.com, its headline says that “major hurdles remain” and here’s why:

The proposals set out in the paper are worthy of “close consideration” by negotiators, but raise “a series of challenges which will need to be overcome if the deal is to have a chance of being concluded and ratified within the short period of time remaining”, according to Brexit and EU law expert Guy Lougher of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com.

“Both sides of the negotiations know that the timeline for negotiations is exceptionally tight,” he said. “There remains three months until the all-important European Council meeting in October which is officially the end of the EU’s negotiating timeline. Major progress needs to be made by then if a deal is to be done and ratified by March 2019.”

“If the challenges can be overcome, a deal may be possible. However, given the scale of the hurdles, businesses should consider that a ‘no-deal’ scenario remains a distinct possibility and should prepare accordingly,” he said.

UPC is not possible (in the UK or anywhere else) for many reasons, among which UPC being unconstitutional and Brexit incompatible.

Different wordings (not “confirms”) were used by other publishers, e.g. “will explore” and “to explore”. There are several headlines to that effect, e.g. “UK will explore staying in the UPC post-Brexit” and “UK to explore Unified Patent Court options in Brexit negotiations [1, 2].

“Even Kluwer didn’t say “confirms”; people who use this word seem rather self-deluding at this point.”“Kluwer Patent blogger” (typically Bristows) said that the “UK intends to stay in the Unitary Patent system post-Brexit” (their headline).

Even Kluwer didn’t say “confirms”; people who use this word seem rather self-deluding at this point.

As for the Bristows-dominated IP Kat, it was covered there not by Bristows but by Eibhlin Vardy, who quoted the relevant passages (highlights are ours):

150. There is a long history of European cooperation on patents, which can be costly to enforce in multiple jurisdictions. Most recently, this includes the agreement on a Unified Patent Court to provide businesses with a streamlined process for enforcing patents through a single court, rather than through multiple courts.

151. The UK has ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement and intends to explore staying in the Court and unitary patent system after the UK leaves the EU. The Unified Patent Court has a unique structure as an international court that is a dispute forum for the EU’s unitary patent and for European patents, both of which will be administered by the European Patent Office. The UK will therefore work with other contracting states to make sure the Unified Patent Court Agreement can continue on a firm legal basis.

152. Arrangements on future cooperation on IP would provide important protections for right holders, giving them a confident and secure basis from which to operate in and between the UK and the EU.

So they actually use the word “explore”; there’s no confirmation there at all. They rightly take note of the EPO’s role, obviously overlooking all the scandals (including judicial scandals) that take place there.

“They rightly take note of the EPO’s role, obviously overlooking all the scandals (including judicial scandals) that take place there.”All in all, the “tl;dr” version of this “UK government White Paper” (on UPC at least): we don’t know if we can participate in UPC, but we’re checking what we be done. Anything beyond that would be pure spin or an ‘artistic’ interpretation.

It’s Not About EPO ‘Backlog’ But About Faking ‘Production’ by Lowering Standards

Friday 13th of July 2018 04:53:03 AM

Patent office converted into a 'cash cow' (based on selling ‘fakes’)

Summary: Remarks on the EPO dropping all pretenses of genuine care for patent quality; it’s all about speed now, never mind if wrongly-granted patents can cause billions in damages across Europe (a lot of that money flows towards patent law firms)

“Backlog” (or pendency) was never a huge issue. Not to stakeholders of the EPO (same for USPTO stakeholders). It’s more of an issue somewhere like Brazil (and other B.R.I.C.S. nations), but that’s different. They don’t always wish to rush the process, e.g. with PPH, especially if speed may compromise the potency of said patents (or mere applications if declined). Litigation can be very expensive and earlier this week we shared a new example — a case wherein frivolous litigation cost dearly (to the plaintiff, having to bear the defendant’s costs, too).

“They don’t always wish to rush the process, e.g. with PPH, especially if speed may compromise the potency of said patents (or mere applications if declined).”We’re not against patents. We’re not against patent litigation. We’re against frivolous litigation, based on bogus patents that should never have been granted. Those are a huge disservice to the notion of justice.

Not too long ago Marks & Clerk’s Jennifer Bailey and Stephen Blake published this article which says: “In recent months there has been a noticeable increase in the speed of examination at the EPO, with summons to oral proceedings being issued earlier in the procedure. Since applicants are having fewer opportunities to try out different arguments and amendments, it seems likely that this change in practice will lead to an increase in the number of examination appeals. On the other hand, Examiners are also engaging more readily with representatives to try to resolve any issues which are preventing applications from proceeding to allowance. While this approach will be welcomed by patentees, a faster examination procedure may lead to an increase in the rate of oppositions being filed and, as a consequence, a further increase in the rate of appeals. Thus the procedure upstream has begun to accelerate before the downstream process has even started to implement its new efficiency measures. Even if the Boards are able to increase efficiency by the planned 32%, they will still be fighting an increasing tide of new filings.”

“We’re not against patents. We’re not against patent litigation. We’re against frivolous litigation, based on bogus patents that should never have been granted.”What a mess!

But being Marks & Clerk (a Battistelli-friendly law firm; they’re OK with EPO corruption as long as patent maximalism and UPC agenda get served), they then parrot Battistelli’s talking points in Intellectual Property Magazine (words like “efficiency”).

This was published again yesterday, without the paywall, under an identical headline (not always the case). Here’s how they summarise all this: “The news of increased efficiency and, in theory, greater certainty for applicants and opponents in appeal proceedings should be welcomed. However, the apparent increase in the speed of prosecution seems likely to hamper the Boards’ efforts to reduce the backlog of cases, and may even add to it.”

“…for now we’re aware of a longterm (2-year) hiring freeze and potential layoffs on the way.”Notice the use of words like “certainty”, which serve to excuse the very opposite. They redefine that word (to mean something like certainty of being granted a patent, not winning a court battle), just like “quality” nowadays means speed.

Those are Battistelli’s words (or lies). There’s less certainty and patents which get granted are more likely to be rejected in court/rendered invalid. Many are already questionable.

António Campinos has already spoken about these issues using similar words (about a week ago). He doesn’t indicate that quality of patents will improve. Time will tell what he will achieve, but for now we’re aware of a longterm (2-year) hiring freeze and potential layoffs on the way.

Links 12/7/2018: GTK+ 4.0 Plans, OpenBSD Gains Wi-Fi “Auto-Join”

Thursday 12th of July 2018 04:23:08 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • How developers can get involved with open source networking

    There have always been integration challenges with open source software, whether in pulling together Linux distributions or in mating program subsystems developed by geographically distributed communities. However, today we’re seeing those challenges writ large with the rise of large ecosystems of projects in areas such as networking and cloud-native computing.

    Integration was one topic of my conversation with Heather Kirksey, the VP of Community and Ecosystem Development at the Linux Foundation, recorded for the Cloudy Chat podcast. We also talked about modularity and how developers can get involved with open source networking. For the past three years, Kirksey has directed the Linux Foundation’s Open Platform for Network Functions Virtualization (OPNFV), which is now part of the LF Networking Fund that’s working to improve collaboration and efficiency across open source networking projects.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Localization, Translation, and Machines

        Now that’s rule-based, and it’d be tedious to maintain these rules. Neural Machine Translation (NMT) has all the buzz now, and Machine Learning in general. There is plenty of research that improves how NMT systems learn about the context of the sentence they’re translating. But that’s all text.

        It’d be awesome if we could bring Software Analysis into the mix, and train NMT to localize software instead of translating fragments.

        For Firefox, could one train on English and localized DOM? For Android’s XML layout, a similar approach could work? For projects with automated screenshots, could one train on those? Is there enough software out there to successfully train a neural network?

      • New Features in Firefox Focus for iOS, Android – now also on the BlackBerry Key2

        Since the launch of Firefox Focus as a content blocker for iOS in December 2015, we’ve continuously improved the now standalone browser for Apple and Android while always being mindful of users’ requests and suggestions. We analyze app store reviews and evaluate regularly which new features make our privacy browser even more user-friendly, efficient and secure. Today’s update for iOS and Android adds functionality to further simplify accessing information on the web. And we are happy to make Focus for Android available to a new group: BlackBerry Key2 users.

      • Which email client do you prefer? [Ed: Thunderbird is probably still the best one around and it’s good that Mozilla hired people to maintain/develop it.]

        Email’s decentralized nature makes it a fundamental part of the free and open internet. And because of this, there are a ton of clients to choose from, including several great open source choices. We’ve compiled lists of some of our favorites.

  • Databases
    • Google Releases Open Source Tool That Checks Postgres Backup Integrity

      Google has released a new open-source tool for verifying PostgreSQL (Postgres) database backups.

      Enterprises using the PostgresSQL can use the tool to verify if any data corruption or data loss has occurred when backing up their database. Google is already using the tool for customers of Google Cloud SQL for Postgres. Starting this week, it is now also available as open source code.

      Brett Hesterberg, product manager at Google’s cloud unit and Alexis Guajardo, a senior software engineer at the company described the new feature as a command line tool that administrators can execute against a Postgres database.

  • BSD
    • OpenBSD gains Wi-Fi “auto-join”

      In a change which is bound to be welcomed widely, -current has gained “auto-join” for Wi-Fi networks. Peter Hessler (phessler@) has been working on this for quite some time and he wrote about it in his p2k18 hackathon report.

    • OpenBSD Finally Has The Ability To Auto-Join WiFi Networks

      Granted OpenBSD isn’t the most desktop focused BSD out there and that WiFi isn’t therefore the highest priority for this security-focused operating system, but with the latest code it can now finally auto-join WiFi networks.

  • Licensing/Legal
Leftovers
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Undercooked: An Expensive Push to Save Lives and Protect the Planet Falls Short

      For many decades, it was one of the globe’s most underappreciated health menaces: household pollution in developing countries, much of it smoke from cooking fires.

      The dangerous smoke — from wood, dung or charcoal fires used by 3 billion people in villages and slums across Africa, Central America and Asia — was estimated by health officials to shorten millions of lives every year. The World Health Organization in 2004 labeled household pollution, “The Killer in the Kitchen.” Women and children nearest the hearth paid the greatest price.

      If the health costs were not ominous enough, many environmental advocates worried that what was known as “biomass” cooking also had potentially grave consequences for the planet’s climate. Emissions from the fires were contributing to global warming, it was feared, and the harvesting of wood for cooking was helping to diminish forests, one of nature’s carbon-absorbing bulwarks against greenhouse gases.

    • Whose injera is it anyway?

      Injera, Ethiopia’s staple food, was invented by a Dutchman in 2003.

      That’s according to the European Patent Office, which lists the Netherlands’ Jans Roosjen as the “inventor” of teff flour and associated food products. Teff is a plant endemic to Ethiopia, and the grain is used to make the spongy fermented pancake that Ethiopians eat with their meals.

      Roosjen also has a patent for the “invention” in the United States — though he is patently not the inventor of a product that has been around for millennia.

      Ethiopians are nonplussed.

    • Around the IP blogs!

      Afro-IP picks up on a recent article in the South African Mail & Guardian claiming that the EPO has recognized a Dutchman as the inventor of Ethiopia’s ubiquitous sourdough flat bread, injera. The Mail & Guardian identified an EP patent EP1646287 for a method of processing teff flour, the key ingredient of injera. As Afro-IP points out, the patent is not directed to teff flour per se, but an improved form of teff flour, obtained by ripening the teff grains post-harvest before grinding. Given the simplicity of the method, Afro-IP is doubtful that prior to the priority date of 2003, no one in Ethiopia produced teff flour that would have fallen under the scope of the patent: Nuances of Patents and TK.

  • Security
    • A sysadmin’s guide to SELinux: 42 answers to the big questions

      Security. Hardening. Compliance. Policy. The Four Horsemen of the SysAdmin Apocalypse. In addition to our daily tasks—monitoring, backup, implementation, tuning, updating, and so forth—we are also in charge of securing our systems. Even those systems where the third-party provider tells us to disable the enhanced security. It seems like a job for Mission Impossible’s Ethan Hunt.

      Faced with this dilemma, some sysadmins decide to take the blue pill because they think they will never know the answer to the big question of life, the universe, and everything else. And, as we all know, that answer is 42.

    • Shutting down the BGP Hijack Factory

      It started with a lengthy email to the NANOG mailing list on 25 June 2018: independent security researcher Ronald Guilmette detailed the suspicious routing activities of a company called Bitcanal, whom he referred to as a “Hijack Factory.” In his post, Ronald detailed some of the Portuguese company’s most recent BGP hijacks and asked the question: why Bitcanal’s transit providers continue to carry its BGP hijacked routes on to the global [I]nternet?

      This email kicked off a discussion that led to a concerted effort to kick this bad actor, who has hijacked with impunity for many years, off the [I]nternet.

    • Malformed Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) Leads to Discovery of Vulnerability in IDN Libraries

      The Punycode decoder is an implementation of the algorithm described in section 6.2 of RFC 3492. As it walks the input string, the Punycode decoder fills the output array with decoded code point values. The output array itself is typed to hold unsigned 32-bit integers while the Unicode code point space fits within 21 bits. This leaves a remainder of 11 unused bits that can result in the production of invalid Unicode code points if accidentally set. The vulnerability is enabled by the lack of a sanity check to ensure decoded code points are less than the Unicode code point maximum of 0x10FFFF. As such, for offending input, unchecked decoded values are copied directly to the output array and returned to the caller.

    • GandCrab ransomware adds NSA tools for faster spreading

      “It no longer needs a C2 server (it can operate in airgapped environments, for example) and it now spreads via an SMB exploit – including on XP and Windows Server 2003 (along with modern operating systems),” Beaumont wrote in a blog post. “As far as I’m aware, this is the first ransomware true worm which spreads to XP and 2003 – you may remember much press coverage and speculation about WannaCry and XP, but the reality was the NSA SMB exploit (EternalBlue.exe) never worked against XP targets out of the box.”

    • Intel Discloses New Spectre Flaws, Pays Researchers $100K

      Intel disclosed a series of vulnerabilities on July 10, including new variants of the Spectre vulnerability the company has been dealing with since January.

      Two new Spectre variants were discovered by security researchers Vladimir Kiriansky and Carl Waldspurger, who detailed their findings in a publicly released research paper tilted, “Speculative Buffer Overflows: Attacks and Defenses.”

      “We introduce Spectre1.1, a new Spectre-v1 variant that leverages speculative stores to create speculative buffer over-flows,” the researchers wrote. “We also present Spectre 1.2 on CPUs that do not enforce read/write protections, speculative stores can overwrite read-only data and code pointers to breach sandboxes.”

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Year-old router bug exploited to steal sensitive DOD drone, tank documents

      In May, a hacker perusing vulnerable systems with the Shodan search engine found a Netgear router with a known vulnerability—and came away with the contents of a US Air Force captain’s computer. The purloined files from the captain—the officer in charge (OIC) of the 432d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s MQ-9 Reaper Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU)at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada—included export-controlled information regarding Reaper drone maintenance.

    • Security Hardening Rules

      Many users of Red Hat Insights are familiar with the security rules we create to alert them about security vulnerabilities on their system, especially concerning high-profile issues such as Spectre/Meltdown or Heartbleed. In this post, I’d like to talk about the other category of security related rules, those related to security hardening.

      In all of the products we ship, we make a concerted effort to ship thoughtful, secure default settings to minimize the amount of configuration needed to do the work you want to do. With complex packages such as Apache httpd, however, every installation will require some degree of customization before it’s ready for deployment to production, and with more complex configurations, there’s a chance that a setting or the interaction between several settings can have security implications which aren’t immediately evident. Additionally, sometimes systems are configured in a manner that aids rapid development, but those configurations aren’t suitable for production environments.

      With our hardening rules, we detect some of the most common security-related configuration issues and provide context to help you understand the represented risks, as well as recommendations on how to remediate the issues.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Trump’s Criticism of NATO Ignores the Real Questions

      The usual NATO summit begins and ends with U.S. and European leaders issuing platitudes about the unbreakable bonds between Western democracies. The two-day summit that began Wednesday is not the usual NATO summit. President Donald Trump came to Brussels armed with a barrage of insults and Twitter blasts against his ostensible allies.

      He gave a public tongue-lashing to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, saying it was unfair for the U.S. to pay the most for protecting Europe while Germany agreed to a new natural gas pipeline to import natural gas from Russia. “Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia,” Trump said. “Germany is totally controlled by Russia.” But Germany turned to Russia after the Trump administration threatened sanctions on Europeans who buy Iranian natural gas. The U.S. also wants to sell more expensive natural gas to Germany.

    • A 1955 CIA Document Reported Hitler Survived World War II

      A document on the Central Intelligence Agency’s website makes an explosive, if outlandish, claim: Adolf Hitler survived World War II.

      “CIMELODY-3 [a code name] was contacted on 29 September 1955 by a trusted friend who served under his command in Europe and who is presently residing in Maracaibo,” the acting intelligence chief in Caracas, Venezuela sent to his supervisor days later, on October 3, 1955. “CIMELODY-3′s friend stated that during the latter part of September 1955, Phillip CITROEN, former German SS trooper, stated to him confidentially that Adolph HITLER is still alive.” It continued, “CITROEN commented that inasmuch as ten years have passed since the end of World War II, the Allies could no longer prosecute HITLER as a criminal of war.”

      [...]

      In the declassified memo, the photo is attached, showing an “Adolf Schrittelmayor” in Tunga, Colombia in 1954, seated next to a companion. “The person on the left is alleged to be CITROEN and the person on the right is undoubtedly the person which CITROEN claims is HITLER. The back side of the photograph contained the following data: ‘Adolf Schrittelmayor, Tunga, Colombia,1954.’”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Ecuador’s government negotiating Julian Assange’s fate with the UK

      Within the last week, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno and Foreign Minister José Valencia have issued public statements indicating that they are in negotiations with the UK government of Prime Minister Theresa May regarding the fate of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange, who has spent the last six years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he sought asylum in June 2012.

      The Moreno government cut off Assange’s access to the Internet in March and denied him both phone calls and visitors, outside of his attorneys, leaving him effectively under incommunicado detention with less rights than a convict.

    • Prominent whistleblowers and journalists defend Julian Assange at online vigil

      Over the weekend, dozens of public figures, including prominent whistleblowers and journalists, took part in a 36-hour international online vigil in defence of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange.

      The event was the third “Unity4J” vigil organised by independent journalist and New Zealand Internet Party leader, Suzie Dawson, since Assange’s communications were cut-off by Ecuadorian authorities at their London embassy last March.

      The vigil reflected the widespread public support for Assange, and opposition to the attempts to force him into British and US custody, where he faces possible espionage charges for exposing the war crimes and diplomatic intrigues of the major powers.

      The speakers included individuals who have been persecuted by governments for taking a courageous stand against war and authoritarianism.

      [...]

      Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, said that within the US intelligence apparatus, there was a “maniacal hatred of Julian and WikiLeaks. In their eyes they have to get him and they have to make an example of him so there won’t be any more Julian Assanges.”

      Hedges placed the attacks on WikiLeaks in the context of the broader drive to end online freedom of speech. He referenced Google’s introduction of censorship algorithms last year, which he said were aimed at reducing traffic to the World Socialist Web Site, Truthdig and other “anti-capitalist” and “anti-imperialist” web sites.

      Hedges stated that governments were using “the classic method, which is to tar WikiLeaks, or dissenters like myself, as being agents of a foreign power.” He explained: “We have the whole Russia hysteria here, which is a smokescreen and fictitious, but which the corporate media can’t spend enough time hyperventilating about. Because the elites do not want to acknowledge that it’s social inequality which they engineered which has created this loss of faith in the ruling ideology of global capitalism.”

    • CIA World Tour: Northern, Southern, and Western Europe

      As part of our ongoing project to document Central Intelligence Agency activities around the planet, we’re compiling a curated list of links to records in the CIA archives, divided by country and presidential administration. Today we’re looking at Northern, Southern, and Western Europe.

    • CIA archives outline the pre-history of the infamous OPM hack

      The plot of John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold hinges on the bureaucratic details of retirement benefits for spies. Recently uncovered documents from the Central Intelligence Agency archives show that real-world spy stories sometimes do, too.

      The documents reveal a history of bureaucratic maneuvering in the three decades before the massive breach of Office of Personnel Management computer systems in 2015.

      The OPM hack was widely seen as an embarrassment for US government cybersecurity and intelligence. But what went largely unremarked on in the media is that for decades, intelligence officials had expressed concerned about working with civilian agencies. In fact, shortly following the creation of OPM in 1979, CIA began a lengthy process of negotiation with this new civilian agency. As usual, the Agency was highly protective of any and all personnel information.

    • Nixon and Johnson Pushed the CIA to Spy on U.S. Citizens, Declassified Documents Show

      What prompted the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to spy on American citizens on U.S. soil in the 1960s—in violation of its own charter? Because two inhabitants of the White House suspected sinister foreign influence behind the decade’s growing civic unrest.

      For President Richard Nixon, the anti-war demonstrations that mired his presidency never made sense. During one conversation with his treasury secretary John Connally, he described the unrelenting protesters as “a wild orgasm of anarchists sweeping across the country like a prairie fire.”

      His confusion wasn’t entirely misplaced. More than a quarter-million Americans demonstrated against the conflict in Vietnam, a sustained and widespread effort that helped erode morale amongst servicemen overseas. It was a sharp break from the broad bipartisan support Americans had offered to the previous wars of the century.

    • How to Find Out About Hot Dogs, Puppy Names and Parking Tickets

      There are all sorts of unexpected, even fun, ways to use FOIA. WBEZ reporter Elliott Ramos found out which Chicago neighborhood had the most block parties. He requested applications for block parties from the Chicago Department of Transportation. Curious about the most popular dog names? Block Club Chicago took a look at the dogs of the Windy City, using pet application data from City Clerk’s office.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • How Swiss software is helping drones survey wildlife in Namibia

      A new technique combining drones and automated image analysis is being used to help researchers count animals in Namibia’s huge nature reserves.

      The work being funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) offers a more accurate and cheaper way of counting gnu, oryx and other large mammals in areas that can be half the size of Switzerland.

  • Finance
    • Uber laid off its self-driving car safety drivers in Pittsburgh

      The company convened a meeting on July 11th to inform around 100 safety drivers — employees who ride in Uber’s self-driving vehicles and monitor their operation — that their positions would be terminated, according to the report. The drivers had been kept on the payroll even though Uber suspended its self-driving tests in North America following the deadly March 19th crash in Arizona.

    • Uber has terminated its self-driving car operators in Pittsburgh

      Uber confirmed it laid off about 100 autonomous vehicle operators in Pittsburgh and eliminated the position. The company plans to replace these jobs with about 55 “mission specialists”—specialists who are trained in both on-road and more advanced test-track operations, and who are expected to provide more technical feedback to self-driving car developers. Uber said affected operators could apply for these positions.

    • Uber HR chief resigns in racism scandal

      Liane Hornsey, Uber’s HR chief, quit Tuesday after an investigation into racial discrimination found she “systematically dismissed internal complaints” about racism there.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Won New York’s 15th District Reform Party Primary Even Though She Wasn’t Running

      Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has scored another unexpected ballot-box victory — in an election where she wasn’t running, the New York Daily News reported. The rising democratic socialist star just won the congressional primary for the Reform Party for New York’s 15th district, beating incumbent Democrat representative José Serrano, even though neither was running for the Reform ticket. Although Ocasio-Cortez is the democratic candidate for New York’s neighboring 14th district, voters in the 15th district wrote in her name on the ballot for the Reform Party, giving her a nine-vote lead over Serrano.

    • The special relationship once enriched Britain’s politics. No longer
    • Trump’s relationship with Merkel sinks even lower

      President Trump’s relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel seemingly couldn’t get any colder.

      The two have been at odds since before his presidency began.

      Trump ripped Merkel during the campaign and didn’t shake her hand the first time she visited Washington after his inauguration.

      Merkel, who enjoyed a strong relationship with President Obama, has responded in kind. Her office released a now-famous photo after the G-7 summit in Canada earlier this year that appeared to depict her staring down Trump. For many, the photo highlighted Trump’s isolation among western leaders.

      On policies, the two are far apart.

      Trump’s “America First” agenda has meant tariffs on German exports and a hard public line on taking in immigrants and refugees. Merkel has pressed for free trade and more open borders, though she faces resistance to some of those policies at home.

    • Twitter Removes Millions Of Fake Accounts | Trump Loses 100,000 Followers

      After Whatsapp’s efforts to curb fake news, it’s Twitter turn to put the kibosh on the number of fake accounts on the platform. As reported by the New York Times, Twitter will start deactivating “tens of millions” of fake accounts from today onwards.

      The move is targeted at restoring the trust of users on the platform after a rise has been seen in the number of fake followers obtained through unfair means. Many accounts have been ‘buying’ followers to increase their influence and social status.

    • Battling Fake Accounts, Twitter to Slash Millions of Followers

      Twitter will begin removing tens of millions of suspicious accounts from users’ followers on Thursday, signaling a major new effort to restore trust on the popular but embattled platform.

      The reform takes aim at a pervasive form of social media fraud. Many users have inflated their followers on Twitter or other services with automated or fake accounts, buying the appearance of social influence to bolster their political activism, business endeavors or entertainment careers.

      Twitter’s decision will have an immediate impact: Beginning on Thursday, many users, including those who have bought fake followers and any others who are followed by suspicious accounts, will see their follower numbers fall. While Twitter declined to provide an exact number of affected users, the company said it would strip tens of millions of questionable accounts from users’ followers. The move would reduce the total combined follower count on Twitter by about 6 percent — a substantial drop.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Well-Meaning “Internet Censorship Bill” Should Be Sent Back

      The Film and Publications Amendment Bill approved by the National Assembly in March 2018 is a classic example of good intentions gone bad.

      The draft legislation now before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) should be sent back to be re-written.

      The Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA) believes there is a requirement for the Film and Publications Act to be redrafted for the Internet and social media age. The Act was drafted in 1996 – pre-Internet in SA – and a series of amendments over the years have done nothing to help the Board to pursue its mandate of providing information to consumers to allow them to choose the content they consume online.

    • Winthrop Incident Cited in Watchdog’s Art Censorship Report

      The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a national watchdog group focused on civil liberties, is releasing a new report about art censorship on college campuses this week. The Rock Hill, S.C.-based Winthrop University is cited in the report for an incident that happened in November 2016. Outside of Tillman Hall on the school’s campus, student Samantha Valdez was one of the participants in an artist collective’s installation, hanging miniature figures from trees and adorning an existing sign for the hall reading “Tillman’s Legacy.” Benjamin Tillman, the South Carolina governor for whom the hall is named, was known for anti-African-American rhetoric and being a supporter of lynch mobs.

    • College watchdog group releases report on campus censorship

      The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education this week released a lengthy report on several decades’ worth of campus censorship, highlighting instances in which universities indulged in “the all-too-common impulse to hide upsetting artwork rather than grapple with its message.”

      The report, titled “One Man’s Vulgarity,” examines “just how far campus censors are willing to go to stifle artistic freedom instead of grappling with a work’s meaning,” the organization said in a news release.

    • In Their Decision to Abstain from Censorship, Valve Has Taken the Coward’s Way Out

      Those anxieties soon turned into a debate over the rules governing game makers and freedom of speech. While developers, the press and Steam customers were discussing the issue, Valve came up with their own solution.

    • V&A exhibition to put censorship of the arts in the spotlight

      An exhibition exploring freedom of expression in the arts has been launched to mark 50 years since state censorship of the British stage was abolished.

      Censored! Stage, Screen, Society at 50 has opened at the V&A to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Theatres Act (1968) coming into force. This heralded the end of state censorship of British theatre.

      The exhibition will examine how censorship has affected the performing arts and considers its impact on society more generally.

      The V&A said the exhibition will look at how censorship has been “adapted to govern what we see and experience in the theatre”, and will explore whether the role of the state has been replaced by other factors.

    • SA’s ‘censorship bill’ must be rewritten, ISP body says

      The Films and Publications Amendment Bill raises serious freedom-of-speech concerns and should be rewritten, the Internet Service Providers’ Association said on Thursday.

      Describing the bill as a “classic example of good intentions gone bad”, the association, which represents many of South Africa’s ISPs, said that although the draft legislation “sets out a framework for classification of online content which could be useful, this is lost in vague definitions and ill-considered attempts to expand the role of the Film and Publication Board into an Internet policeman”.

      “Problematic definitions effectively turn all South African Internet users into online content distributors, directly regulated by the Film and Publication Board,” said the association’s regulatory advisor, Dominic Cull, in a statement.

    • A FOSTA Of One’s Own: UK Parliament Members Looking To Punish Websites, Push Traffickers Underground

      Our government decided to make the internet worse, endanger the lives of sex workers, and make it harder for law enforcement to hunt down sex traffickers. And it was all done in the name of fighting sex trafficking. SESTA/FOSTA’s passage immediately contributed to all three problems upon passage, throwing sex workers under the bus along with Section 230 immunity. The upside for the government was obvious: it could now target websites and site owners, rather than sex traffickers, for grandstanding prosecutions.

      Violet Blue reports for Engadget that the UK government — no stranger to terrible laws targeting the internet — is thinking about copy-pasting FOSTA for its own use. It would also like to do all the things listed above, only without the minimal restraint of the First Amendment.

      [...]

      It will be worse in the UK where a challenge along civil liberties lines is more likely to fail. UK speech laws are a mess and it’s unlikely opponents of the proposed law will find judicial relief from UK FOSTA knockoff. The lives the law endangers are of zero concern to a majority of politicians and the platform the law is built on — ending sex trafficking — is something very few feel comfortable taking a stand against.

    • Cuba imposes more taxes and controls on private sector and increases censorship on the arts

      The Cuban government issued new measures on Monday to limit the accumulation of wealth by Cubans who own private businesses on the island. The provisions stipulate that Cubans may own only one private enterprise, and impose higher taxes and restrictions on a spectrum of self-employment endeavors, including the arts.

      The government announced that it will start issuing licenses to open new businesses — frozen since last August — but established greater controls through a package of measures intended to prevent tax evasion, limit wealth and give state institutions direct control over the so-called cuentapropismo or self-employment sector.

      The measures will not be immediately implemented. There is a 150-day waiting period to “effectively implement” the new regulations, the official Granma newspaper reported.

    • Report: IDF Censorship of Israeli Press Averages One Redaction Every Four Hours

      In the “only democracy” in the Middle East, military censors are working overtime to control the content of reporting and keep certain stories hidden from the public. According to a recent report by Israeli journalist Haggai Matar for online magazine +972, Israel’s military censor has notably increased the percentage of articles it partially or fully redacted in the Israeli press over the past year, a trend unlikely to decline as Israel prepares for potential war with Gaza, Lebanon and Syria.

      The report, which used government figures obtained via freedom of information request, found that over the course of the past year 271 articles were prohibited by the military censor and an additional 2,358 were partially or fully redacted. On average, Israel’s military censor made a redaction in a story once every four hours and completely censored a story an average of five times a week.

    • Apple’s China-Friendly Censorship Caused an iPhone-Crashing Bug
    • Chinese Censorship Bug Caused iPhone Crashes when Receiving Taiwan Flag Emoji
    • Chinese Censorship Run Amuck Crashes iPhones With Taiwan Flag Emoji
    • Apple’s Chinese Censorship Features Caused iPhone Crashing Bug
    • How Is Internet Censorship Affecting Chinese Culture?
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Walmart Patents Technology to Eavesdrop on Workers

      In the latest piece of evidence that we’re living squarely in a dystopia, Walmart has won a patent for technology that will allow bosses to eavesdrop on their workers. The audio surveillance technology can measure workers’ performance and listen to their conversations with customers at checkout. The “listening to the frontend” technology, as its called, might never be used—it’s one of many patents the company has applied for in recent years—but shows that company bosses are thinking about how they can use tech to monitor their workers. Walmart said in a statement: “We’re always thinking about new concepts and ways that will help us further enhance how we serve customers, but we don’t have any further details to share on these patents at this time.” According to the patent, the surveillance system would use sensors in the cashier area to collect audio such as “beeps,” “rustling noises,” and “conversations between guests and an employee stationed at the terminal.” It would then analyze the information and use it to calculate “performance metric[s]” for the employee.

    • Facebook Gave “2-Week Special Access” To A Russian Tech Giant, Says Report

      Over a month ago, another news of Facebook giving data access to nearly 60 companies had surfaced. Among these companies, the Russian company Mail.Ru was also listed.

      Facebook told CNN that Mail.Ru developed “hundreds of Facebook apps,” out of which two apps were granted a two-week extension past the cut-off date in 2015.

    • Russian company had access to Facebook user data through apps
    • Privates on parade: fitness tracker app reveals sensitive user details
    • Polar Flow Fitness App Exposes Soldiers, Spies
    • Polar Flow app exposes location of security personal around the globe
    • Fitness App Polar Data Reveals Top Secret US Military Locations
    • The security of Polar users’ data could be comprised, in a big way
    • DARE: Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Decided Against Net Neutrality and for NSA Surveillance
    • Brett Kavanaugh’s defense of NSA phone surveillance looms as confirmation question

      Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, forcefully defended the National Security Agency’s dragnet collection of domestic call records, alarming privacy advocates who view the collection as unconstitutional.

      It’s not yet clear if Kavanaugh’s November 2015 concurrence while serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will factor prominently in his confirmation proceedings. But before he was nominated, progressive and conservative advocates expressed concern.

      “I believe Judge Kavanaugh is an excellent judge, though certainly not a perfect one,” Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, told the Washington Examiner last week. “His Fourth Amendment perspective is troubling.”

      “As someone who sued the NSA over their metadata gathering as a violation of the Fourth Amendment, he and I disagree on that point, and I think a lot of liberty-minded folks are going to have that as a major concern,” said Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general.

    • European Parliament Turns Up The Pressure On US-EU Privacy Shield Data Transfer Deal A Little More

      Many stories on Techdirt seem to grind on forever, with new twists and turns constantly appearing, including unexpected developments — or small, incremental changes. The transatlantic data transfer saga has seen a bit of both. Back in 2015, the EU’s top court ruled that the existing legal framework for moving data across the Atlantic, Safe Harbor, was “invalid”. That sounds mild, but it isn’t. Safe Harbor was necessary in order for data transfers across the Atlantic to comply with EU data protection laws. A declaration that it was “invalid” meant that it could no longer be used to provide legal cover for huge numbers of commercial data flows that keep the Internet and e-commerce ticking over. The solution was to come up with a replacement, Privacy Shield, that supposedly addressed the shortcomings cited by the EU court.

      The problem is that a growing number of influential voices don’t believe that Privacy Shield does, in fact, solve the problems of the Safe Harbor deal. For example, in March last year, two leading civil liberties groups — the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch — sent a joint letter to the EU’s Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, and other leading members of the European Commission and Parliament, urging the EU to re-examine the Privacy Shield agreement. In December, an obscure but influential advisory group of EU data protection officials asked the US to fix problems of Privacy Shield or expect the EU’s top court to be asked to rule on its validity. In April of this year, the Irish High Court made just such a referral as a result of a complaint by the Austrian privacy expert Max Schrems. Since he was instrumental in getting Safe Harbor struck down, that’s not something to be taken lightly.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Iran, Instagram and the case of dancing teen Maedeh Hojabri

      The case of a teenage girl who is believed to have been detained after posting videos on social media showing her dancing has stirred debate in Iran.

      The controversy arose after it was reported that 18-year-old Maedeh Hojabri was arrested after sharing her dance videos – one of which was viewed close to one million times – on Instagram.

      Some of the clips showed her dancing to Persian music in her room. In others, she can be seen with no headscarf swaying to songs by popular artists such as Justin Bieber and Shakira.

    • Marvel plans to introduce first Muslim superhero into the MCU

      And it seems it could very well be with Kamala Khan, otherwise known as Ms. Marvel, with Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige revealing to the BBC that her addition to the cinematic universe is “definitely sort of in the works”.

      “Captain Marvel’s shooting right now with Brie Larson,” Feige said. “Ms. Marvel, which is another character in the comic books, the Muslim hero who is inspired by Captain Marvel, is definitely sort of in the works. We have plans for that once we’ve introduced Captain Marvel to the world.”

    • Car Crash Brexit – How the UK is set to become a second-hand dealer in EU automotive regulation

      Regulation is too often seen as inherently boring. But today tens of thousands of people owe their lives to good European regulation imposed against the wishes of the motor industry in 1998. Regulation is the anvil of life and death outcomes. It is at least as important as ownership – its consequences more widely relevant across our entire social and economic experience.

      Anthony Barnett’s article for openDemocracy – on the significance of regulation as a fourth domain of power and authority alongside the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, and how Brexit will be shaped by it – is welcome. If ‘Take back control’ was Brexit’s major selling point, then voters will learn this applies to their chances of survival in road crashes and the quality of the air they breathe. Yet, outside the Single Market, Britain will become just a follower of European Union (EU) vehicle safety and emission standards. This is the reality.

      The irony is that one of the UK’s most successful unsung achievements has been the role the British played in advancing EU consumer protection and public health. The adoption twenty years ago of new crash test standards has halved the number of car occupant deaths. This dramatic improvement in road safety is a success story of UK engagement in the Single Market led by British research and campaigners. Their actions have significantly reduced road deaths not just in the UK but across the EU.

    • Revealed: Charity watchdog probes pro-Brexit anti-NHS think tank

      The Charity Commission is examining whether the Institute of Economic Affairs has breached charity regulations on political independence, openDemocracy can reveal. The watchdog is looking at the free market think tank after concerns were brought to the commission’s attention.

      The IEA is one of the UK’s most influential think tanks. IEA representatives regularly appear on the media, advocating everything from privatising the NHS to a hard Brexit, and it has strong links with a number of Conservative ministers, including new Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and health minister Matt Hancock.

      The IEA – which does not disclose its funders – is registered as an educational charity. The Charity Commission does not register charities that exist for a political purpose.

      The charity watchdog says that it will look at information provided about whether the IEA breached rules on political independence before deciding whether to take action against the think tank.

      Concerns about the IEA’s charitable status have been raised previously. Last year, the Charity Commission found that a hypothetical Conservative manifesto jointly written by the IEA and the Tax Payer’s Alliance calling for tax cuts and more privatisation breached charity guidance on political activity.

      Andrew Purkis, a former Charity Commission board member, called on the regulator to act against the IEA.

    • “Old, New, Orthodox” – CIA predicts a fragmented Europe

      Namely, the CIA sees the European continent as quite different to what it is today in the near future – divided in three parts: “new,” “old,” and “(Christian) Orthodox” – and Serbia would be a part of the third.

      At the same time, Stratfor has also predicted big changes – the strengthening of Poland and Romania through a strategic partnership with the US, the rise of Turkey as a regional power, and a decline in Germany’s influence.

      According to the CIA, by 2020, there will be a western bloc, “Old Europe,” made up of Germany, France, Austria, UK, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Finland; “New Europe” would include Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Croatia – and these, mostly former Warsaw Psct countries, would now form America’s main military bastion in Europe.

    • Bob Woodruff Foundation Acquires Veterans Org Got Your 6

      delete

      The Bob Woodruff Foundation, one of the United States’ largest veterans support foundations, has acquired Got Your 6, a coalition which seeks to to empower veterans by uniting nonprofit…

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • India Approves New Net Neutrality Rules, Signs off on New Telecom Policy

      Eight months after India’s telecom regulator came out swinging heavily in favour of the principle of net neutrality, the department of telecommunications (DoT) has finally agreed to adopt the same.

      The recommendations proposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in November 2017 would prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs) from engaging in “any form of discrimination or interference” in the treatment of online content.

      ISPs will also not be able to engage in practices such as “blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content”.

      The Telecom Commission (TC), the highest-decision making body within the DoT, on Wednesday approved the new neutrality rules, the new telecom policy and a host of other proposals that had come up for discussion.

    • India Has Agreed To Net Neutrality: A Big Win For Internet Users

      While web users in the States are still battling for open and fair Internet services, India has approved on what could be the world most progressive policy – free internet for all.

      In a major triumph for netizens across India, the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) has agreed to follow Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations regarding net neutrality rules.

    • Guidelines for Brutalist Web Design

      A website’s materials aren’t HTML tags, CSS, or JavaScript code. Rather, they are its content and the context in which it’s consumed. A website is for a visitor, using a browser, running on a computer to read, watch, listen, or perhaps to interact. A website that embraces Brutalist Web Design is raw in its focus on content, and prioritization of the website visitor.

    • Guidelines for brutalist web design

      “Raw content true to its construction” — no hinky web frameworks, no broken javascript soiling itself at the first whiff of interaction the developer didn’t design for, no dark patterns, no performance-crushing superficial cleverness, no contempt for the user: guidelines for brutalist web design.

    • UK gov wants full fibre broadband across Blighty by 2033

      Those targets might be subject to change, but they’re arguably heady ambitions all the same as full fibre broadband connections, whereby fibre cables are run directly to a building rather than rely on copper wiring to take up the slack in what’s called the ‘last mile’, are rather slim in terms of coverage and adoption.

    • Ajit Pai’s Cure For The ‘Digital Divide’ Looks Suspiciously Like A Giant Middle Finger

      FCC boss Ajit Pai likes to repeatedly proclaim that one of his top priorities while chair of the FCC is to “close the digital divide.” Pai, who clearly harbors post-FCC political aspirations, can often be found touring the nation’s least-connected states proclaiming that he’s working tirelessly to shore up broadband connectivity and competition nationwide. More often than not, Pai can be found somewhere in flyover country “highlighting how expanding high-speed internet access and closing the digital divide can create jobs and increase digital opportunity.”

      And that would be great… if he was doing anything to actually accomplish that goal.

      While Pai’s best known for ignoring the public and making shit up to dismantle net neutrality, his other policies have proven to be less sexy but just as terrible. From neutering plans to improve cable box competition to a wide variety of what are often senseless attacks on smaller competitors, most of Pai’s policies are driving up costs for the rural Americans he so breathlessly pledges fealty to.

      For example, a guy that’s actually trying to improve competition wouldn’t be taking steps to hide that lack of competition by weakening broadband availability standards. Similarly, a politician actually focused on improving broadband connectivity to rural areas wouldn’t be actively dismantling programs specifically designed to accomplish that goal.

    • FCC proposes overhaul to comment filing system

      FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a letter to Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) that the commission has put in a request with the House and Senate Appropriations committees to upgrade its Electronic Comment Filing System to crack down on comments from bots, noting that the FCC “inherited” this system from the Obama administration.

    • Ajit Pai finally gets around to fighting fraud in FCC comment system

      The Federal Communications Commission is planning to overhaul its public comments system to deter fraud and abuse, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a letter to lawmakers last week.

      The FCC may institute a CAPTCHA system as part of a redesign that will “institute appropriate safeguards against abusive conduct,” Pai told Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Pat Toomey (R-Penn.).

      “[T]he FCC is planning to rebuild and re-engineer ECFS [Electronic Comment Filing System] and has submitted a request to reprogram the funds necessary to undertake this project,” Pai wrote. “This reprogramming request is pending before the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, and we hope they will enable us to make important improvements by approving it soon.”

      The FCC comment system accepts public input on FCC proposals. The system allows anyone to comment and takes no significant steps to prevent spam or fraud.

    • FCC Retracts a Plan to Discourage Consumer Complaints

      The FCC offers two ways for people to complain about billing problems, privacy concerns, and other issues with telecom carriers. Formal complaints cost $225 to file and work a bit like court proceedings. But the commission also offers an informal complaint system, which is free.

      Critics said that the proposed change would have left the informal complaint system toothless, forcing consumers to spend the time and money of the formal review process if they wanted to the FCC to take action on their complaints.

    • Freedom and Fairness on the Web

      There is an ongoing debate about freedom and fairness on the web. I’m coming from the free and open source software community. From this perspective it’s very clear that the freedoms to use, share, and modify software are the cornerstones of sustainable software development. They create the common base on which we can all build and unleash the value of software which is said to eat the world. And the world seems to more and more agree to that.

      But how does this look like with software we don’t run ourselves, with software which is provided as a service? How does this apply to Facebook, to Google, to Salesforce, to all the others which run web services? The question of freedom becomes much more complicated there because software is not distributed so the means how free and open source software became successful don’t apply anymore.

      The scandal around data from Facebook being abused shows that there are new moral questions. The European General Data Protection Regulation has brought wide attention to the question of privacy in the context of web services. The sale of GitHub to Microsoft has stirred discussions in the open source community which relies a lot on GitHub as kind of a home for open source software. What does that mean to the freedoms of users, the freedoms of people?

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Dutch telecom’s SEP assertion against Xiaomi in Beijing comes up short

      Xiaomi has prevailed at the Beijing IP Court in an SEP case brought against it by KPN. The Dutch telecom’s action was being watched by some as a test case – one of just a few we know about where a foreign firm was seeking to enforce an SEP against a Chinese company in Chinese litigation. After three years, Xiaomi has seen off the suit at first instance in what statistics say is a very pro-plaintiff venue.

    • Japan considers expanding design protection to cover wider range of designs

      Japan is considering expanding design protection beyond the definition of ‘design’ in the Design Law.

    • Interpol Leads Massive Operation Against Counterfeit Goods

      The international police agency Interpol today announced that it coordinated a massive sweep of arrests and seizures of tons of fake goods across four continents in recent months.

      According to a release, more than 645 suspects have been identified or arrested so far, and more than 1,300 inquiries are underway, across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America.

    • Paris Court of Appeal refuses preliminary injunction in SPC dispute

      Court of Appeal upholds an interim order from the first instance court based on Articles 3C and 3D of the SPC Regulation and confirms the need for core inventive advance

      The Paris Court of Appeal refused to grant a preliminary injunction based on a combination product supplementary protection certificate (SPC) against a French pharmaceutical company last month.

    • Trademarks
      • USA: Cortes-Ramos v. Martin-Morales, United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit, No. 16-2456, 27 June 2018

        The federal district court in San Juan, Puerto Rico, erred in dismissing copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and state law claims brought by a music contestant against pop recording artist Enrique Martin-Morales (aka Ricky Martin) on the ground that the contest rules compelled arbitration of the claims, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston has ruled.

      • Federal Circuit expands generics – including ZERO for soft drinks

        The claimants were companies within the Dr Pepper Snapple Group which have been fighting the case for more than a decade. They asserted that ZERO is either generic for or highly descriptive of soft drinks and sports drinks which contain no calories. Therefore, disclaimers to the term should be required in registrations for the applicant’s ZERO-inclusive marks.

      • Warner Bros Presses Library to Rename ‘Harry Potter Festival’

        Following pressure from Warner Bros. lawyers, the yearly Harry Potter festival in Odense, Denmark, has changed its name. The movie studio condoned the non-profit event over the past years, but that’s no longer the case. All names and images referring to the young wizard’s movies are now off limits, which has far-reaching consequences.

    • Copyrights
      • ‘Pirate’ Kodi Boxes Breach Copyright But Seller Threatens to “Wipe Floor” With Sky

        A court in New Zealand has ruled that ‘Kodi’ boxes sold on the basis that they can receive otherwise premium channels breached both the Fair Trading and Copyright Acts. The decision was welcomed by Sky TV, which brought the case against device seller Fibre TV. In response, a spokesperson for the company threatened to “wipe the floor” with the broadcaster.

The Anti-35 U.S.C. § 101 Lobby Pushes Old News Into the Headlines in an Effort to Resurrect/Protect Software Patents

Thursday 12th of July 2018 07:15:19 AM

Advanced Voice Recognition Systems, Inc. (“AVRS”) has meanwhile sued Apple with what looks like software patents “in the field of speech recognition and transcription” (according to its own press release)


So the whole ‘company’ is just a pile of patents (since its inception)

Summary: The software patenting proponents (law firms for the most part) are still doing anything they can — stretching even months into the past — in an effort to modify the law in defiance of Supreme Court (SCOTUS) rulings

35 U.S.C. § 101 isn’t too complicated. Based on (or partly inspired by) several SCOTUS decisions, Section 101 limits patent scope and notably eliminates patents on abstract things (or ideas, including algorithms). The USPTO‘s current guidelines ought to assure that no software patents will be granted anymore; nevertheless, there are conflicting interests. That’s why inter partes reviews (IPRs) and court challenges are needed. But, as one might expect, the patent maximalists aren’t happy; they see this as an “attack” (a word they use) on their occupation or an attempt to “kill” (also a word they sparingly use) patents. They nowadays sling their guns and shoot from the hip at IPRs, at judges, and at courts. Some if not many are based in Texas, so the gun-slinging metaphor seems apt; not to mention their obsession with words like “attacks” and “kills”. They call some tribunals “death squads”, evoking a colourful metaphor of genocide.

“They don’t profit from innovation; they make a living from extortion and lawsuits.”Anything that these patent maximalists (some we call “extremists” because they go even further) throw at 35 U.S.C. § 101 is easy to debunk; they just cannot tolerate patent quality, patent justice and so on. They want a culture of protection rackets, not of innovation. They don’t profit from innovation; they make a living from extortion and lawsuits. Their trade involves writing threatening letters, demanding money.

35 U.S.C. § 101 hasn’t been in the headlines lately, partly because of the summer vacation. Some pundits wrote about Mayo, which also helped shape 35 U.S.C. § 101. We wrote about Vanda 3 weeks ago in "The Dangerous Adoption of Patents on Life and Nature" and 3 months ago in "The Federal Circuit's (CAFC) Decisions Are Being Twisted by Patent Propaganda Sites". The case is about Mayo, not about Alice, and it isn’t as “high level” as either of them. In a sense, it’s hardly even a big deal at all. This is very old news, too. Why is Donald Zuhn catching up with it weeks if not months late? Is this the best method for pushing their anti-35 U.S.C. § 101 agenda yet again (as news is slow)?

Earlier this week Zuhn (McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP) wrote:

The memorandum explains that in Vanda, the Federal Circuit determined that the claims at issue are “patent eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 because they are not ‘directed to’ a judicial exception” (emphasis in memorandum).

Why is this being brought up in July? Heck, why does Managing IP now cover SAS Institute v Iancu? Its latest issue is summarised as follows (this week): “The issue’s cover story assesses the impact that the US Supreme Court’s SAS Institute v Iancu decision has had– and will have – on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.”

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is safe owing to Oil States (the far more important decision). No coverage of the more important decision? Not even in the cover story? Intentional bias? Bias by omission again?

Even Watchtroll’s PTAB bashing has slowed down considerably, knowing that — as per recent events (notably Oil States) — the quality of patents in the US will continue to be scrutinised and PTAB not crushed. This is sadly what we’ve come to expect from media which is literally run by law firms — an epidemic that suffocates real journalism regarding patent matters.

Yesterday Watchtroll resumed its PTAB bashing, cherry-picking an old Apple case. Another patent maximalist has since then brought up a Federal Circuit case, saying that in “Apple v Contentguard (Fed. Cir. 2018); Fed. Cir. Held that Patent Claims for a Copyright Management System Do Not Qualify for CBM Review: http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/16-2548.Opinion.7-11-2018.pdf …”

Anything which concerns Apple is, as usual, receiving a lot more attention. In fact, yesterday we saw this new press release from Advanced Voice Recognition Systems, which is a “patent assertion” entity (more or less), as covered in the past weekend's posts. There seem to be no actual (finished) products and they merely list lawsuits and patents in their Web site as though these are their products. From their press release:

Advanced Voice Recognition Systems, Inc. (“AVRS”) (OTC: AVOI) announced today that it has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court-Northern District for Arizona against Apple, Inc. (“Apple”) for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,558,730 entitled “Speech Recognition and Transcription Among Users Having Heterogeneous Protocols” (the “’730 Patent”). The ’730 Patent is the first of AVRS’ family of patents in the field of speech recognition and transcription

Those are software patents. They’re algorithms. Watchtroll is also (on the same day) promoting the HEVC patent trap [1, 2] — a trap which very clearly concerns patented software in large amounts (many patents, probably too many to challenge at scale, as per the MPEG-LA strategy). Watchtroll wrote:

HEVC (also known as H.265) is a video compression standard originally developed to provide high quality video coding using half the bandwidth.

Software patents all over this. All should be considered void under 35 U.S.C. § 101, but there are so many patents that nobody has the funds or will to challenge them all. Certainly not companies like Apple, which actively pariticipate in this “thickening” or “thicketing” (setting up barbwire around industry ‘standards’).

“Mozilla complained about it yesterday, dubbing it “An Invisible Tax”.”The Section 101 conundrum will no doubt continue to occupy the media for a year (if not years) to come. The “thickening” (as in patent thickets) of software standards/APIs, preventing participation by those who lack a large number of patents, is what’s at stake. Mozilla complained about it yesterday, dubbing it “An Invisible Tax”.

Thomas Massie and Marcy Kaptur Are Promoting the Interests of Patent Trolls and Patent Lawyers While Calling That “Innovation”

Thursday 12th of July 2018 06:07:24 AM

“Innovation” does not mean bullying firms which actually invent and make stuff

Summary: Remarks on the ongoing effort to promote patent trolls’ interests under the guise of “helping small businesses” — a very misleading propaganda pattern that we have been finding in Unified Patent Court (UPC) lobbying at the EPO

THE low quality of patents granted by the USPTO for a number of decades (still valid, expiry may take 2 decades) has meant that patent trolls lay their hands on software patents, which they can then use to blackmail small businesses (without even a court/legal challenge). Small businesses are harmed the most because of their lack of access to justice (simple matter of economics).

“Small businesses are harmed the most because of their lack of access to justice (simple matter of economics).”Recently, the patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, advertised a huge patent troll called iPEL. The troll tries to market itself as the very opposite of what it is, calling itself “ethical” (even trademarking it!) and portraying itself as an ally of small businesses.

IAM’s Jacob Schindler continues to play along with this scam, having published yet more nonsense for this troll earlier this week. To quote:

The recent launch of a new NPE, iPEL, caused more than a few raised eyebrows among experienced licensing operators. “Who is this guy?” seemed to be the collective response to iPEL’s co-founder Brian Yates who, in launching his new business, has come out swinging for the monetisation fences. His bold talk of a China-focused licensing strategy, backed by a large portfolio of assets from several of the biggest Chinese tech players and a $100 million kitty to play with courtesy of a hedge fund investor, has clearly grabbed a lot of attention.

They’re trying the anti-China angle, but in reality it’s just an elaborate plot to tax everyone using patents. IAM seems to have acted like a “media partner” of this elaborate plot, having spoken directly to the people behind this troll, lowered its paywall to increase exposure, and repeated the marketing lies.

“They’re trying the anti-China angle, but in reality it’s just an elaborate plot to tax everyone using patents.”The reality behind patent trolls was explored in a very recent paper from Lauren Cohen (Harvard Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)), Umit G. Gurun (University of Texas at Dallas) and Scott Duke Kominers (Harvard University). It’s titled “Patent Trolls: Evidence from Targeted Firms”, noting that these trolls have “become effective at bringing frivolous lawsuits” (harms small businesses the most because they cannot afford justice, it’s just too expensive and settlement is a lot cheaper). To quote the abstract:

We develop a theoretical model of, and provide the first large-sample evidence on, the behavior and impact of non-practicing entities (NPEs) in the intellectual property space. Our model shows that NPE litigation can reduce infringement and support small inventors. However, the model also shows that as NPEs become effective at bringing frivolous lawsuits, the resulting defense costs inefficiently crowd out firms that, absent NPEs, would produce welfare-enhancing innovations without engaging in infringement. Our empirical analysis shows that on average, NPEs behave as opportunistic patent trolls. NPEs sue cash-rich firms ― a one standard deviation increase in cash holdings roughly doubles a firm’s chance of being targeted by NPE litigation. We find moreover that NPEs target cash unrelated to the alleged infringement at essentially the same frequency as they target cash related to the alleged infringement. By contrast, cash is neither a key driver of intellectual property lawsuits by practicing entities (e.g., IBM and Intel), nor of any other type of litigation against firms. We find further suggestive evidence of NPE opportunism, such as forum shopping and targeting of firms that have reduced ability to defend themselves against litigation. We find that NPE litigation has a real negative impact on innovation at targeted firms: firms substantially reduce their innovative activity after settling with NPEs (or losing to them in court). Moreover, we neither find any markers of significant NPE pass-through to end innovators, nor of a positive impact of NPEs on innovation in the industries in which they are most prevalent.

In view of all this, consider the so-called ‘reform’ proposed by Thomas Massie and Marcy Kaptur, who generally push if not lobby to promote software patents and abolish the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

“In view of all this, consider the so-called ‘reform’ proposed by Thomas Massie and Marcy Kaptur, who generally push if not lobby to promote software patents and abolish the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).”Now see the article “NSBA supports patent system reform measure” by Douglas Clark, promoted by Patently-O again and by various patent trolls (as noted in [1, 2]) for NSBA. It says:

NSBA officials said the Restoring America’s Leadership In Innovation Act, which was introduced by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), is a necessary, small-business friendly alternative to other harmful patent reform initiatives currently pending before Congress.

[...]

In 2011, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the America Invents Act (AIA), which the NSBA said resulted in negative side-effects for small-business innovators and limited their ability to protect their patents from infringement.

Actually, the biggest victims of software patents and litigation are small businesses. PTAB is of much use to them (they can even crowdsource/crowdfund an inter partes review (IPR)), so NSBA either does not understand how the patent system works or enlisted many of the parasites (like trolls) as members.

“The interests promoted by him aren’t industry’s or even innovation; he’s attempting to change the law in favour of the litigation ‘industry’, i.e. those preying on actual scientists and holding innovation back.”Sadly, the likes of Massie and Kaptur might actually believe that they are helping, boosted by these lies about US lost leadership in "innovation" — a myth further perpetuated (disappointingly) by IP Watch yesterday. Amplifying WIPO and its new propaganda (whose purpose seems to be increasing patents and billionaires’ protectionist laws), IP Watch speaks of something called “Global Innovation Index 2018″. How was it measured? Patents?

Either way, if Massie can call himself a scientist (check out his professional background), he will reassess what he’s doing here. The interests promoted by him aren’t industry’s or even innovation; he’s attempting to change the law in favour of the litigation ‘industry’, i.e. those preying on actual scientists and holding innovation back.

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