To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.
To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.
Summary: The nastiness of patents puts itself up on display and herein we share the truth about this ill system, based on the latest news alone
THIS is a collection of news items that affect Free software by means of law.
The File Allocation Table (FAT) format is also licensed out by Microsoft, although its patents there have been the subject of contention, particularly since many distributions of Linux include the FAT formats.
This is also covered by the Microsoft bunch at Ars Technica (Emil) and other Microsoft reporters.
In February 2009, news broke that Microsoft had filed a patent infringement lawsuit against TomTom, alleging that the device maker’s products, including some that are Linux-based, infringe on patents related to Microsoft’s FAT32 filesystem. In March 2009, Microsoft and TomTom settled their controversial patent dispute, TomTom licensed the patents from Microsoft, and stated its intent to remove from its Linux kernel the code that is covered by the patents.
We have covered the TomTom case very extensively and also explained why Microsoft had ambushed the market with FAT. Microsoft is not alone though.
Rambus used submarine patents (or an ambush) in order to penalise all of its competitors [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. Rambus was brought to court over this type of abuse and right now it is trying to escape punishment in Europe.
The American memory chip designer has been fighting allegations that it intentionally concealed that it had patents and patent applications connected to DRAM chips, which later became an industry standard. It’s accused of charging abusive licensing rates for the technology once its “patent ambush” was sprung.
In an hypothetical industry that prioritises progress, Rambus and Microsoft deserve to have the patents in question rubbished and all royalties previously paid to them refunded over time. If the patent system becomes a tool of deception, then The Christian Science Monitor is probably right and the patent system (including USPTO) deserves to be rubbished along with all those patents. To quote Richard Stallman (regarding EPO earlier this year [1, 2] ): “The European Patent Office is a corrupt, malicious organisation which should not exist.” Stallman argues that if it stands in our way, then we should “get rid of it too.”
We previously wrote about RPX in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. In short, it’s a useless behemoth that only accumulates patents and then offers “protection”. Georg Greve has just described RPX rather politely by writing “When your business plan is a euphemism for “protection racket”…”
Greve is the founder of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and he links to what he describes as a “Good article on the reality of software patents.”
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is well known for the venture capital it brought to great innovations involving computers, health and energy. One of its latest startups is based on an entrepreneurial idea that may or may not be great but is very interesting: helping companies hand over money for mostly bogus legal claims involving patents.
This particular startup, RPX, doesn’t describe itself that way. In fact, it makes a good case that its goal is to help companies, many of them in the tech industry, make the best of the bad situation that is the U.S. patent system. The fact that patent holders and lawyers will end up with money they don’t deserve reflects nothing about RPX but a lot about a system filled with rot.
If you think patents protect plucky innovators and their groundbreaking inventions, you haven’t been paying attention. Patents have evolved into an extortion scheme that hurts real inventors far more than it helps them.
Of course it does. Patents are about protecting monopolies, not protecting innovation. It’s a protectionist measure where the “protected” subject is revenue, not science. It is about investors, not inventors.
There is this new transcript of Richard Stallman on software patents:
The Danger of Software Patents
This is the transcript of a talk presented by Richard M. Stallman on 8 October 2009 at Victoria University of Wellington.
There are also videos of previous Stallman talks which cover the same subject.
On a couple of occasions earlier this week we wrote about the harms caused to the environment by patents. Check out this new report:
Preservation of IP: One of Many Goals in Copenhagen
The Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) has been front and center in this debate, and our position is clear: if governments are serious about addressing climate change, and all agree that new technologies are a vital part of the answer, then IP laws and rights need to be protected in any Copenhagen agreement. Indeed, in our view, a Copenhagen Summit with NO mention of IP at all is a successful conclusion. Current international laws and norms are working, and need to be preserved.
To which Glyn Moody responds with:
Got that? Stuff the environment, we’ve got to protect the *important* things in life, like intellectual monopolies…
Summary: OSOR provides informative updates on the adoption of Free software in Europe; others report on progress elsewhere
ACCORDING to the Open Source Observatory and Repository for European public administrations (OSOR), “vendor dependency [by Microsoft] forces Vienna to renew proprietary office licences.” There is some good news nonetheless:
Layr explained to Der Standard that the decision will not have any influence on the open source desktop plans of the city. Public administrators can continue to use the Linux based desktop distribution Wienux and or OpenOffice if they so choose.
The city has always said that the use of the Wienux desktop is voluntary.
Of the city’s total 32,000 PCs just a thousand run the open source desktop system. Some 15,000 PCs in the city have OpenOffice installed.
Last year, the city was forced to renew proprietary operating system licences for some seven hundred of these Wienux PCs. The deal was necessary for all of the Wienux PCs used in child day care centres, in order to run an application testing language skills that can only work with a proprietary browser.
Over in the neighbouring Switzerland, “parliament members say vendor lock-in desktop is causing chaos,” according to OSOR. From the opening:
Members of the Swiss parliament (Nationalrat) say that the government’s dependence on a single IT vendor for its desktop operating systems is causing a chaos and is leading to increasing IT costs.
If so, then why did the lawsuit not proceed as planned? We wrote about it in:
By contrast, and very on the bright side, the Latvian government gradually fulfills its commitment to Free software because OSOR claims that the country’s ministry of education approves Free software in schools. It’s an endorsement but not a real push. It’s s start.
Open source can be used to teach computer science classes to secondary school pupils, Latvia’s Ministry of Education announced on 1 December 2009.
The ministry bases its conclusion on the work of a group of experts, industry association representatives, ministry officials and school representatives. In August 2009 the group started looking for open source applications that could be used for computer science classes.
According to the group, open source software will be able to fulfil all requirements of the computer education curriculum in primary and secondary schools.
Even better news arrives from a Red Hat employee in India. Another state is gradually moving to Free software.
Yet another Indian state government made open source an integral part of its state IT policy. The policy is because it mandates open standards and ODF, in particular, which has been advocated open source supporters the open standard for office documents (instead of Microsoft’s proprietary .doc, OOXML and other data formats). It also extends beyond software and says that all generic hardware purchased by the government should have support for open source software. The section mandating that source code developed for any State Government body shall be duly archived in a repository, indicates that the policy makers also understand the power of the open source development model. Overall, it is a good policy and worth forwarding to all the government policy makers that we are in touch with.
Dana Blankenhorn finds encouraging signs even in the United States where Microsoft boasts a lot of control.
The government has issued a new Open Government Directive (PDF) that requires agencies to release “three high value data sets” in the next 45 days, create their own open government sites, and creates an Open Government Dashboard, overseen by the Office of Management and Budget, to assure compliance.
The White House has already dumped Microsoft and moved to Free software. There is a glimmer of Hope® after all. █
Targets keep changing
Summary: When goalposts are being moved to redefine “open source”, how will a triumph really come about? We look at news from Hungary
A few days ago we wrote about Dana Blankenhorn’s concern that Free/open source software loses its meaning due to involvement from those who bend the definition/s. “Will open source be assimilated in 2010?”
It also drew a thoughtful e-mail from Tim Yeaton, president of Black Duck Software. He interrupted his efforts to counter OpenLogic’s new open source scanner to say that open source is bound to be assimilated into the software mainstream.
This discussion seems very appropriate now that the Hungarian government opts for more "mixed source" companies like Novell. This time it’s Ingres and CBR has the details:
Ingres and FreeSoft, have won the Hungarian government’s open source software contract that has a four-year, $22.3m budget. During the next four years, the companies will supply the Hungarian government with software worth 4 Ft billion Hungarian forints, which is approximately €15m or $22.3m.
There is already skepticism being expressed.
Experts Question Hungary’s Role As European Open Source Leader
Open source database company Ingres has held Hungary up as an example to the UK and other European countries of how government should be championing the use of non-proprietary software in the public sector.
But some Hungarian experts have pointed out that while the central European country has made progress when it comes to allowing open source players to compete on the same terms as proprietary companies, there is still a long way to go before the Magyars could be held up as leaders on open source.
Nothing is said about the half-hearted commitment to Free software. A lot of those companies which describe themselves as “open source” are not entirely so. This is a subject worth revisiting and exploring more properly in the future. █
Summary: Particular people in the GNOME Foundation disagree with FSF values and want separation from GNU
According to a recent posting from Philip Van Hoof, he suggests that Gnome split off from the GNU Project and proposes a vote. He has been informed he will need 5% of members to agree for there to be a vote put forth.
The full discussion can be seen in the GNOME Foundation’s mailing list. “They are trying to vote to remove the G from GNOME,” tells us one reader. Philip van Hoof wrote: “I propose to have a vote on GNOME’s membership to the GNU project.”
“Of course RMS is involved,” says our reader, “and of course there are people angry with him, especially “Lefty”.”
Summary: With the sharing of new analyses, Vista 7 security suffers another blow, as does Microsoft’s business as a whole
Analysts: 2010 will see surges in Windows 7 malware and application exploits
Sweden-based computer security firm Lavasoft predicts that trends in the creation and deployment of malware will change in 2010, toward newer models of cyber crime.
The release of Windows 7 will cause a large-scale shift in the production and distribution of malware, which overwhelmingly tends to target Microsoft products because of their widespread use. New versions of Windows require new versions of malware, to better target the incautious enterprise users that are the bread-and-butter victims of cyber criminals.
The above comes from Lavasoft analysts and the New York Times has this new piece about another analyst:
Microsoft Is Losing Fight for Consumers, Analyst Says
“Except for gaming, it is ‘game over’ for Microsoft in the consumer market,” he said. “It’s time to declare Microsoft a loser in phones. Just get out of Dodge.”
Regardless of Microsoft’s performance, amid the rise of Apple’s iPhone and phones using Google’s Android software, it seems unlikely Microsoft will heed Mr. Anderson’s advice. The smartphone is becoming the innovative hub of software development and applications, far more so than the personal computer. If Microsoft loses in smartphones, Mr. Anderson noted, “It is pretty grim. Those applications are going to move upstream.”
The underlying problem, Mr. Anderson said, is cultural. “Phones are consumer items, and Microsoft doesn’t have consumer DNA,” he said.
“Walk the halls at Microsoft and you can see it is not a place that gets consumers,” Mr. Anderson said. “Just as if you walk the halls at Google, it’s obvious it is not a place that gets the enterprise world.”
Tough times for Microsoft, even among the crowds whom it pays to say positive things. Maybe it’s an invitation for Microsoft to sign more contracts with more analyst groups. █
“Analysts sell out – that’s their business model… But they are very concerned that they never look like they are selling out, so that makes them very prickly to work with.”
–Microsoft, internal document
The technology event season has come to a close, as the holidays approach and 2009 draws to its end.
This was a great year for events in the Linux community. Several regional Linux and open source shows filled the calendar around the world, so most Linux enthusiasts got a chance to visit at least one event near them. There were also the big shows, like OSCON, Open Source World, CeBIT, and, of course, LinuxCon, which came off as an unqualified success for the Linux Foundation.
Arxan Defense Systems Inc., a leading anti-tamper systems integrator for government and military programs, today announced the addition of natively compiled Java binaries and secure Linux support to its EnforcIT®-S anti-tamper platform.
The Linux Professional Institute (LPI), the world’s premier Linux certification organization (http://www.lpi.org), announced that it had expanded its training partner program to include 44 nations–up from 33 a year ago. In addition the organization has increased the number of LPI-Approved Training Partners (LPI-ATP) and LPI-Approved Academic Partners (LPI-AAP) to a total of 242 partners — up 10% from this time last year.
Adding eye candy should never be about purely cosmetic changes. Instead, it should enhance the usability of the desktop and make the average session more productive and more streamlined. We’re going to show you how to do just this, and in the process we’ll help you turn your Linux desktop into the envy of your proprietary OS-loving friends.
I believe both have a role to play in helping an end user make the most of their system. I don’t however, believe a person’s inability to use the CLI actually makes them dumb. Neither do I believe that you’d be diminishing your status by using point and click to get things done for the sheer reason that you’re a CLI guru. If Linux is actually going to go anywhere in the future, the sometimes fundamental stance people take on the issue of CLI vrs GUI ought to be discouraged.
Dell announced new Ubuntu Linux-ready OptiPlex desktops, including a power-efficient model claimed to be the “world’s smallest fully-functional commercial desktop.” In addition to the 9.4 x 2.6 x 9.3-inch, Intel Core 2 Duo-ready OptiPlex 780 USFF desktop, Dell announced a 13-inch Vostro V13 laptop that also offers Ubuntu.
Do note that the base model comes with Ubuntu Linux 9.04 while one can opt for Windows 7 OS.
Looks like most reasons Linux is not being adopted in the workplace are based on false assumptions and incorrect perceptions. How can we promote Linux adoption in the workplace? Seems to me the answer lies in educating and informing the “powers that be” in IT departments. Talking to managers in terms they understand, emphasizing reduced costs and increased productivity. Reduced cost because of the license savings, increased productivity because less time is spent applying service packs and patches, and the chances of catching a virus drop to near zero.
Convincing managers to give Linux a try is easier said than done, I know, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Wow, the day has come, open-source fans with NVIDIA hardware that run Linux have quite the present this holiday season. Yesterday there was the first DRM pull request for the Linux 2.6.33 kernel that brought many changes to the ATI/AMD and Intel DRM along with other core DRM improvements (such as to the TTM memory manager). These changes were quite significant and we even called it a great present in the Linux 2.6.33 kernel.
These DRM changes were accepted, but Linus Torvalds went off on a bit of rant wanting Nouveau merged into the kernel. A discussion ensued and after blaming Nouveau’s lack of upstreaming on wanting the kernel/user-space API to potentially change in the future and then with Red Hat disclosing the Nouveau microcode problem that seemed to be pretty much that and we had not expected any immediate activity on the matter.
Linus Torvalds, lead developer of the Linux kernel community, has merged DRBD, an open source data replication solution, into Linux as a fully supported component. After exactly 10 years of ongoing development work – software developer Phil Reisner wrote the first line of code on December 8, 1999 – Torvalds’ acknowledgment means DRBD has become a fixture on the storage market.
By April 2010 the driver will be integrated into the mainline version of the LINUX open source operating system.
We’ll need to start by downloading the software from www.tonido.com. The package is available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X, with the Linux version offered as a Deb file suitable for installation on Ubuntu or some other Debian-based distro. (SUSE and Fedora users have reported successful installations after using the Alien converter to create an RPM file.)
Now gamers can play the games they want, on whatever platform they want! With CrossOver Games, you can run many popular Windows games on your Intel, OSX Mac or Linux PC. Whatever your tastes, be they first-person shooters, fantasy, strategy, MMORPGs, or more, CrossOver Games provides the capability to run many popular games titles. CrossOver comes with an easy to use, single click interface, which makes installing your games simple and fast. Once installed, your game integrates seamlessly into your Desktop. Just click and run! Best of all, you do it all easily and affordably, without needing a Microsoft operating system license.
This means that all programs running under a window manager will follow that particular window managers display rules and have a consistent look and feel across the board. All buttons will have the same shape, all menus will look the same, all dialog boxes and the colour scheme will be the same for all programs. If you change the window manager or desktop environment then all programs will also reflect that change.
It is with great pleasure that we announce the making of our core Data Acquisition framework “Open Source”. The GDA project is an open-source framework for creating customized data acquisition
Gluster is joining a recent wave of emerging vendors adding enterprise storage management features to clustered network-attached storage (NAS) systems based on commodity hardware with this week’s release of the Gluster Storage Platform.
Yesterday Red Hat used what was arguably the worst-titled press release ever to announce that they are open sourcing their SPICE remote display protocol. SPICE was developed by Qumranet a few years ago and made a huge splash at BriForum in 2008 when they demoed the software-based SPICE protocol on a client with multiple monitors running high-def video, audio, and games. (Here are videos of their sponsored breakout session from BriForum 2008 and DEMO Lab product demo from BriForum 2009.)
The bottom line is that I want to love SPICE and think that it’s going to be everywhere. But I think the reality now is that everyone who needs a remoting protocol has one. I’m guessing an open-source Xen-based SPICE is highly probable, along with SPICE getting better on KVM. But other than that, who knows?
Well, I am not allowed to take names, but we are definitely working with them. Red Hat allows multiple virtual guests in the boxes, which is beneficial to the managed service providers.
What’s new in Kubuntu 10.04 LTS Alpha 1? Well, this first Alpha version of the upcoming Kubuntu 10.04 LTS operating system is built on top of the KDE Software Compilation 4.4 Beta 1, which includes lots of new features and improvements over the previous KDE 4.3 releases.
It also offers features such as grouping windows into tabs, new widgets and effects, improved configuration and user interface.
It is powered with Ubuntu operating system and uses Mozilla Prism technology a lot.
Powered by a Linux OS, the network-attached device – which you connect to a router using an Ethernet cable – works with Linux computers, although the remote access is Windows-only for now. For those working in digital media markets who need fast and expansive storage, or for an office workgroup that needs a place for everyone’s files, the ShareSpace is an ideal product that’s easy to configure and use, with only a few minor issues.
The Timesys Linuxlink software-development framework provides Alchemy Au1250 and Au1300 processor users with an intuitive environment for developing Linux-based media and navigation products.
By providing access to hundreds of open-source middleware packages, Linuxlink allows customers to accelerate product development and makes it easy and convenient to create footprint-optimised Linux platforms with a rich set of APIs well matched to their end applications.
The Motorola Droid has been enjoying some great success in the States. Since its US launch in November, it’s been the subject of much praise and critical acclaim – with pundits suggesting it might be Android’s best outing yet. Now, on the same day of the Droid’s UK launch (as the Milestone) it’s been crowned best gadget of 2009 in TIME Magazine’s top ten of everything for 2009.
The Android OS (operating system) used on the new Droid phones offered by Verizon and powered by Google is the first significant threat to the domination of the computing world by the Windows operating system. Although this potential is still in the distant future, it should not be ignored.
The biggest difference – and perhaps Android’s strongest point – is that Google’s operating system is open source. That means anybody – from the weekend hacker to the biggest cell phone makers in the world – can tweak it as they see fit. As such, the Android phones didn’t look like clones – for better of for worse, the individual smart phone makers managed to make them their own.
The Nokia N900 smartphone has finally landed on pre-order on Top 10 Mobile Phones.
The software will initially be available only on Nokia’s N900 handset, which uses the Linux-based Maemo operating system, and will be able to run 30 or so Firefox extensions.
This tiny form factor computer omitted the optical drive in favour of USB ports, and even ditched Windows, switching to Linux to keep costs down. It was a brave move on Asus’ part, but one that paid off.
I’ve done my fair share of software reviews on this site, but so far, all of them have been about the major commercial applications and “industry standards” like Adobe products and a couple of 3D suites. But there’s a new class of graphics applications built on open-source platforms that are going to leap further and further into our awareness in the coming months and years for a variety of reasons. Possibly most notably, they are free.
Tony Merenda, CTO and VP of International business at Opengear told CRN that under the contract, Tatts Group has purchased 12,000 Opengear SD4000 series device servers (pictured) for its subsidiary, MaxGaming.
“Long gone are the days when open source efforts were regarded as an obscure sideshow of geeks, open source software was viewed with suspicion by general public and corporate IT departments, and entrepreneurs struggled to commercialize open source efforts,” says Fakhri Karray, primary founder, president and CEO of Vestec. “Asterisk, of course, has in many ways led these changes in perception about open source telephony software and deserves to be acknowledged as a classic open source success story.”
For small and mid-sized businesses, there often is a question about whether to stick with tried and true software providers such as Microsoft for your servers, e-mail and business applications or consider adoption of open-source products such as Linux.
I’ve witnessed in this region some hesitation toward adoption of open-source products. I believe it’s important to be able to make a rational evaluation of the two paths so you can make the best decisions.
Open-source products should probably always represent the first thing you consider for your business. In my experience open-source products tend to have larger communities, more support and often more options. It doesn’t hurt that they are free to use, and I have witnessed hundreds of thousands of dollars in saving as a result.
Open source development tools are used by 34 percent of the respondent base, while 38 percent use open source office applications. Interest in open source is also picking up gradually in open source security applications (15 percent) and storage (7 percent).
A new email client unveiled by Mozilla this week contains code from an unusual source — the French military, which decided the open source product was more secure than Microsoft’s rival Outlook.
Oracle remains confident that the European Union will cave in and abandon objections to its proposed takeover of Sun Microsystems.
The firm gave evidence in Brussels yesterday, including support from several customers who believe that MySQL is not a serious competitor to Oracle’s core database products.
Fluendo S.A. today expressed its concern that, if upheld, the European Commission’s objections regarding Oracle’s acquisition of Sun could set a precedent that will undermine the development of open source technology worldwide.
With debate brewing about whether database, application and middleware giant Oracle should be able to obtain commercial open source database vendor MySQL, concerns about the proposed acquisition have a part to play in a predicted decline of MySQL use, according to a report by market research firm The 451 Group.
The Oracle/European Union drama never stops. Now IBM’s stuck their collective necks into the fray and said that Oracle’s acquisition of Sun should go through if they make some positive open source gestures to all parties. Meaning what exactly, though?
The Amazon EC2 High Memory instances provide 34 GB and 68 GB of RAM to applications for short-term, high usage instances. Ruiz added that Gear6 will also support Amazon’s block-based storage as well, which could end up providing users with more utility for their memory utilization.
But it’s equally true of relatively new companies like Salesforce, Red Hat, and Google, which have eschewed gimmicky software and flimsy business strategies to give customers tangible, ongoing value. None of these companies sought an early exit through acquisition. None of them were content to build for the quick flip.
So, yes, technology may be a veritable boneyard of failed companies, and essential ingredients like open source may accelerate the demise of start-ups and incumbents alike. But those companies that use such ingredients to deliver above-average customer value are going to endure…and thrive.
If this sounds like a perfect storm for open-source Android, that’s because it is. But it’s also creating an exceptional opportunity for Funambol, and could well establish beachheads for a range of other open-source products that sit within the Android ecosystem.
I’m a college professor who is putting together an open-source textbook. I’m trying to decide between using the GNU Free Documentation License or the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. I don’t really understand the difference between these, though it seems with the Free Documentation License I need to include a copy of the license in my text. Which do you advise using?
The Salt Lake City-based vendor is not placing its source code on the open source market, Kipp Lassetter, M.D., chair and CEO emphasizes. “It’s not a first step toward moving to open source, but definitely defining the system as an open system.”
OMB also highlighted the a programming “code-a-thon” sponsored by HHS in August to bring together public and private open source developers to improve the agency’s “Connect” healthcare Internet gateway project and broaden its use. The software, developed by a group of federal agencies, enables organizations to exchange health data according to standards established for the nationwide health information network (NHIN).
Version 9 of Java development environment IntelliJ IDEA has now been released in two variants – a commercial version, dubbed Ultimate Edition, and an open source Community Edition. The Apache 2.0 licence, which is also used by other JetBrains open source projects, has been selected for the Community Edition.
Sun Microsystems has announced the official release of the Java EE 6 specification, along with Glassfish V3 (the Java EE 6 reference implementation), and NetBeans 6.8, which enables you to easily build Java EE 6 applications.
Is one type of standard better than another? Clearly not; they simply serve different goals. The art, as in so many things, is to find the right balance (even in the second type of standard) between ensuring usability, while enabling beneficial creativity.
This need for balance is recognized in one of the core tenets of modern standard setting, applauded by competitors, antitrust authorities and economists alike. That tenet goes something like this: vendors should be encouraged to collaborate on the creation of the standards necessary to enable new goods and services to be offered, and then compete in the creation of additional value-added features that will distinguish their particular wares in the marketplace from each other. And, in fact, this is exactly what does happen all of the time.
News Corp, Time Warner Inc’s Time Inc and three other publishers detailed their long-expected plans to develop open standards for a new digital storefront and technology to help prepare their print titles for devices ranging from e-books to tablet computers.
Over the past couple of months, I have been working losing sleep over getting Flash to work in QGraphicsView on all platforms. The good news is that flash now works in QGV on all platforms.
I think judgment matters. If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines — including Google — do retain this information for some time and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.
This, from 2006, is my response:
Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we’re doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.
We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private journals, sing in the privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers and then burn them. Privacy is a basic human need.
For if we are observed in all matters, we are constantly under threat of correction, judgment, criticism, even plagiarism of our own uniqueness. We become children, fettered under watchful eyes, constantly fearful that — either now or in the uncertain future — patterns we leave behind will be brought back to implicate us, by whatever authority has now become focused upon our once-private and innocent acts. We lose our individuality, because everything we do is observable and recordable.
This is the loss of freedom we face when our privacy is taken from us. This is life in former East Germany, or life in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. And it’s our future as we allow an ever-intrusive eye into our personal, private lives.
Too many wrongly characterize the debate as “security versus privacy.” The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that’s why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.
Renewal of two controversial Patriot Act provisions set to expire at the end of the year have been approved by House and Senate Committees over the past month, and appear headed for floor votes in both bodies. President Obama has endorsed extending the provisions.
The two provisions include the “records” rule and the “roving wiretaps” provision. The so-called “records” rule grants federal officials with a court order the power to force private parties such as businesses, hospitals, and libraries to hand over “any tangible thing” they believe has “relevance” to a terrorist investigation.
“Roving wiretaps” allow wiretapping multiple lines of communication without informing FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) courts which specific phone lines or communication media are being targeted.
The report assigned each database a status based on traffic lights. Only six of the 46 databases were assigned the ‘green’ status that indicated they worked properly and legally.
Goldman loves to tout the fact that they’ve paid back their $10 billion in TARP funds – and can now wash their hands of their responsibility to American taxpayers. There it is. Case closed. Except for that nagging fact that the $10 billion in TARP was just the tip of the bailout iceberg for Goldman Sachs. According to independent reports, Goldman received more than $60 billion in total taxpayer-funded bailouts – much more than the $10 billion that was paid back to TARP. (see page five of this PDF for more). In other words, they’re still using our money to get rich.
Since the government bailout that saved GS’s bacon, (and “about $85 billion worth of its bacon”) writes Lawrence Velvel, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, “We now live in the United States of Goldman, Sachs.”
Sramek would rather focus on his long-term goal: getting rich. He’s already planning out his future in philanthropy; he told an interviewer he wants to focus on education, which would require him to amass a significant amount of wealth: “I would like to once be in a position where I can do something about it, and do it from a position of power,” he said, adding that wealth was necessary “to get the required leverage or to try and do things differently.”
Moving to quell the uproar over the return of big paydays on Wall Street, Goldman Sachs announced on Thursday that its top executives would forgo cash bonuses this year and that it would give shareholders a say in determining compensation.
Even worse, most Americans will be required to purchase private health insurance at high rates with bad coverage. How is this possibly a good deal for the millions of young people who organized and voted for change? It simply isn’t.
The head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association lashed out at net neutrality supporters who say Internet non-discrimination is a First Amendment cause. The real issue, he says, is the First Amendment rights of ISPs.
What sort of jackass (I fumed) had concluded that the contents of American public laws were some kind of operational secret? But of course, once I got over my pique at this obnoxious excess of secrecy, I started thinking: Why, exactly were they worried about someone reading that? I had, perversely, just gained a bit of new information. Not the statutory definition—that was already sitting on my desk in yet another pile—but the fact that the investigative technique they’re taking pains to conceal (that’s what “b7e” means, it’s the code for the FOIA exemption they’re invoking) involved exploiting that part of the statute in some crucial way.
Libel laws in England and Wales are being used to bully people into silence and quash dissent, campaigners including comic Dara O’Briain claim.
O’Briain told the Law Society he backed calls to reform the “ridiculous system” that was attracting “libel tourists”.
There’s a new study that’s making the rounds, noting that the average American consumes about 34 gigs worth of data/information each day. That number has been increasing at a pretty fast pace as well. This is, obviously, not just internet data. It includes TV, radio, mobile phones, newspapers, video games, etc. However, what struck me is that more and more of that is moving to the internet, and that seems like a trend that will continue. And, yet, we still hear stories of ISPs looking to put in place broadband caps that are as low as 5 gigs per month. Clearly, something has to give. Even Comcast’s relatively generous cap of 250 gigs per month could run into trouble at some point as well.
In a 71-page report (PDF) entitled, rather directly, “FCC Needs to Improve Oversight of Wireless Phone Service,” the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) spanks the FCC for its sloppy handling of customer complaints.
The result of the collaboration between Clinton and the musicians holding him up is still “one of the most frequently sampled compositions of the Funk era,” and the “Bow Wow refrain” is often licensed by itself. But in this case, it wasn’t licensed at all. Universal Music Group, which owns the (likely much less lucrative) rights to the work of Public Announcement, argued that the allegedly infringing elements — “the use of the word ‘dog’ in a low voice as ‘musical punctuation,’ the rhythmic panting, and the Bow Wow refrain” — were not copyrightable, but the jury disagreed. (Those of you who are always wanting to get out of jury duty should be reminded that there are cases out there like this one.) It awarded $89,000 in damages for the unlicensed woofing.
A worldwide coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations, consumers unions and online service providers associations publish an open letter to the European institutions regarding the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) currently under negotiation. They call on the European Parliament and the EU negotiators to oppose any provision into the multilateral agreement that would undermine the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens in Europe and across the world.
By December 17th, 2009, European negotiators will submit their position regarding the proposal put forward by the U.S Trade Representative for the Internet chapter of the ACTA. It is now time for the European Union to firmly oppose the dangerous measures secretly being negotiated. They cover not only “three strikes” schemes, but also include Internet service providers liability that would result in Internet filtering, and dispositions undermining interoperability and usability of digitial music and films.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is generating growing concern (witness today’s release of a protest letter from civil liberties groups from around the world) as many people learn about the secret copyright treaty for the first time. I’ve posted video talks and interviews on ACTA, but some have asked for a visual timeline to trace its emergence. Posted below is an ACTA Timeline created using Dipity. I’ll update as events warrant.
Stormy Peters, HP open source strategist 06 (2004)
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