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Microsoft “Gets Them Addicted”, Then Raids Them, and Finally Gets Sued

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft at 4:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

Bill Gates


Summary: Microsoft’s drug dealer-like tactics are facing backlash and lead to a lawsuit, too

“I don’t think Microsoft has a belief in free,” Tim writes. He reminds us that Bill Gates said he would give software to children “to get sort of addicted” (famous quote by now). He also writes about how well “Microsoft knows that the new generation of customers, the ones in school or college are getting competitors products. Microsoft in my view can see that if left unchecked very shortly Microsoft will be an afterthought – Just look at the tablet and smartphone market now, Microsoft barely registers on the scale and has to get a living from Android “licenses” and if these form-factors are the mainstream of the future as the current market stands, Microsoft has a very small and unremarkable future.”

Several years ago we showed that Microsoft started chasing poor people for revenue. Using a proxy, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), Microsoft sued poor people and now it gets sued back:

Microsoft Sued Over ‘Mafia-Like’ Anti-Piracy Raid

One of the largest insurance companies in Guatemala has sued Microsoft over an unwarranted and extortion-like anti-piracy raid. With the help of local law enforcement Microsoft allegedly demanded an on the spot payment of $70,000 for the use of pirated software or the alternative of confiscating all of the company’s computers. These types of raids are not isolated incidents in the software industry. Just last week the BSA and Microsoft lost a similar case in which the court described their raids as “deceptive.”

“Law enforcement helping with Microsoft raids” is iophk calls it and a look at Cablegate diplomatic cables shows how Microsoft, its lobbyists, and of course politicians coerced the police abroad into this. We gave many examples from different poor nations. What we generally see here is a pushback against Microsoft Mafia tactics at another level, not just patents. Microsoft is a Mafia-like company.

More Grooming of Patent Trolls in Slashdot

Posted in Patents at 4:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: Misinterpretations of the law, mixing completely disparate concepts, used by patent trolls to justify what they do in Slashdot

Slashdot is a weird beast. I recently re-subscribed just to get a taste of where it’s at after doing all the Microsoft PR [1, 2, 3, 4] (there is a bit less of that now). When it comes to patent news, Slashdot used to be good a decade ago, but recently it became a platform for grooming villains, aiding some ill patent agenda [1, 2]. It is not as though software patents are promoted, but sometimes it seems like trolls are. How truly baffling.

A decision made by CAFC last weeks helped validate some horrific software patent from Ultramercial, leading to rants such as this:

Patent Court Stands By Its Claim That Adding ‘On The Internet’ Can Make An Abstract Idea Patentable

We’ve been following the Ultramercial case quite closely over the past few years. If you’re not aware, this involved a company that more or less patented the idea of “you must watch this ad to get this content” (US Patent 7,346,545) and then sued pretty much everyone. Most of the companies it sued settled rather than fight (which happens all the time), including YouTube and Hulu, but one company, WildTangent, has continued the fight. Eventually, though, the case reached the Supreme Court with the key question being does taking an abstract idea like “watch this before getting that” and adding “on the internet” to it make it patentable? It’s well established that you can’t patent an abstract idea, but for some reason many seem to think that if you say “on the internet” it’s no longer abstract. The Supreme Court did not do a full hearing on the case, but asked the appeals court of the federal circuit (CAFC — known as the patent appeals court) to reconsider its original ruling in light of the Supreme Court’s
ruling in the Prometheus case, where it said that you can’t patent broad medical diagnostics. The rule there was that you “could not simply recite a law of nature and then add the instruction ‘apply the law.’” So, is the same true for “abstract idea” plus “on the internet”?

Therein lies a key problem. Software should not be patentable. There are those, however, who single out trolls as the culprit (culling out trolls is better than nothing), noting/highlighting for instance notorious entities like Intellectual Ventures with its 2,000 or so proxies. According to this report from Pamela Jones, the FTC might fail to challenge those most critical elements of abuse, unless they somehow manage to probe Bill Gates’ close friend, who is by far the biggest troll in the world. As Jones put it:

Now that we know that the FTC is interested in whether patent trolls’ business practices are hurting competition and is planning to investigate, I thought I’d point out something I found interesting in a recent motion for a protective order [PDF] by Intellectual Ventures’ CEO Nathan Myhrvold in a dispute with Lodsys, the patent troll trying to sue multiple companies and Apple app developers in two of the Lodsys litigations in Texas, Lodsys v. Brother International Corp. et al. and Lodsys v. Combay, Inc., et al.. The dispute is being handled separately, as Myhrvold v. Lodsys Inc et al, in Washington State, docketed as 2:13-mc-00088-RSL. The presiding judge is Robert S. Lasnik, hence the RSL in the docket line.

Myhrvold’s lawyer has filed a Declaration in Support, as well some exhibits [PDF], one of them under seal. Myhrvold’s trying to avoid a deposition by Lodsys, and the battle over it has been going on since last October.

From these documents, I learned that the patents Lodsys is using to sue everyone did indeed come from Intellectual Ventures, as we had heard, but there was a middle man, fellow patent troll Webvention LLC. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Webvention in the news going after multiple victims with goofy, broad-stroke patents it got from IV. Anyway, IV sold the patents Lodsys is using to Webvention first, and Webvention then sold them to Lodsys. Lodsys has some questions it would like Myhrvold to answer about all that.

He also allegedly had some conversations with Bill Gates that they’d like to ask him about, and there is an email to Gates and others at Microsoft dealing with “combinations” that they say came from Myhrvold’s email account that they are interested in asking him about. Finally, there is an IV license with Microsoft that Lodsys would like more information about.

Me, too, and I hope the FTC will feel the same. A subpoena from the FTC would be harder to avoid complying with than one from Lodsys.

This is interesting because it helps show the unique role of Microsoft in the trolls’ shell game. There are other notorious trolls out there (exposed time after time, many connected to Microsoft) and just like Myhrvold, this one too receives grooming from a long-lost ‘geek’ site. To quote the latest: “A few weeks ago you had the chance to ask James Logan, the founder of Personal Audio, about the business, the patents the company holds, and the lawsuits it has filed.” (Slashdot called for questions here)

iophk says: “It seems that /. [Slashdot] has wandered very far of the path it started out on. I wonder if that is part of the reason that Malda got forced out.”

If You Use Microsoft Windows, the NSA Can Brick Your Computer Hardware Remotely

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 3:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cluster of bricks is all you have left


Summary: Legions of cyberattack staff from the NSA can engage not only in espionage but also remote mass-vandalism of hardware in foreign nations

Now that we know calling out Windows is a serious matter of national security (the NSA regularly gets back doors for access, as noted in more and more articles right now), we should consider what it really means. With UEFI it has been demonstrated that motherboards can be bricked [1, 2, 3], irrespective of the platform (provided there is remote access to it). Imagine what can happen at times of war. If the NSA can take over Windows, which it can, it can brick any computer with such motherboards. This is serious because it means that not even reinstalling the operating system or swapping operating systems would help. This is what one gets when the most ferocious cyberarmy has back door access to the system. This new article about restricted boot covers antitrust issues as well:

We take a look at the most recent controversial feature to emerge from Redmond


But there is another angle to it all. Microsoft probably couldn’t have insisted that manufacturers lock the boot loader on x86 machines. In the EU at least, this would almost certainly be construed as abusing a dominant market position, and that has got Microsoft in trouble before.

With ARM though, they don’t have a dominant market position so are legally free to abuse their non-dominant position as much as they wish. With this in mind, some people have speculated that Secure Boot on ARM is what Microsoft want to do, and on x86 it’s what they’ve been forced to do.

In the future, these people speculate, the x86 version will creep closer and closer to how it is on ARM until it finally locks users out of their own computers.

Fortunately, Microsoft in ARM is dying breed. Some reports from Taiwan say that Windows RT is a failure (links posted in daily links) and it is being dumped right now (so-called ‘discounts’) with speculation that it might die:

Reports that Windows RT is headed for the dustbin of failed Microsoft operating systems has become a month — if not weekly — ritual for Asia-based sources.

This time Digitimes has gone so far to compare RT to the fate of Hewlett-Packard’s failed WebOS.

“Microsoft’s Windows RT operating system may fall to the same fate as Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) WebOS as most brand vendors have already stopped developing related products,” Digitimes wrote on Wednesday, citing sources at hardware suppliers.

Microsoft is on its way out, but the damage it causes on its way out is immense. When wars are waged by geeks like Turing and cryptology is where a lot of potential for domination lies, using Windows in any government other than the United States’ is simply unthinkable. Countries like Germany should complete the migration to Free software.

Project Chess Teaches Us That the Government is Indeed Listening to Skype Calls

Posted in Microsoft at 3:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Antifeatures of Skype continue to be revealed thanks to the leaks from Edward Snowden

We have heard a lot recently about Skype snooping. “See why you just can’t trust proprietary software,” says this post about Project Chess, which is a programme for the NSA to pull in Skype data. It goes quite a long way back. According to this, calls themselves — not just metadata — get included in the bundle. To quote:

In yet another instance of a report indicating that tech giants worked directly with intelligence agencies to enable government surveillance, it is now being reported that Skype began a secret program called Project Chess to enable intelligence agencies and law enforcement to easily get a hold of calls.

This comes after it was revealed that Skype was part of the massive National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program known as PRISM.

The latest revelation about Skype’s secret program is quite interesting given the controversy surrounding the privacy and security of Skype. Indeed, the NSA leaks hinted that Microsoft may have lied about the security of Skype, though many suspicions were raised last year after they filed for a patent for “legal intercept” technology.

Lies from Microsoft are hardly newsworthy, whereas the strong proof that the government listens to Skype calls is worth documenting. For those are still using Skype, try Jitsi on the desktop or Linphone on smartphones. I tested a lot of different SIP software before settling with those; I use them around 15 hours per day (permanent in daytime over Ethernet and 3G).

Links 24/6/2013: Cumulus Networks, More GNU/Linux Migrations in Germany, PHP 5.5.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 12:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Small Brick Open Source PLC

    The OSPLC SMALL BRICK is an open-source PLC (programmable logic controller) that can be programmed using open source C language programming tools.

    The PLC is a general-purpose controller with a wide variety of applications. It is useful to the engineer, technician, student and hobbyist.

  • Open source summer reading list

    Earlier this month, Facebook officially announced its implementation of hashtags, prompting both celebration and outcry from users. But the event also sparked a spate of critical analyses addressing the nature of conversations today, as well as the ways technologies facilitate and organize even the most banal ones. Love them or hate them, hashtags have become an overwhelmingly popular convention for pursuing those recurring questions: What’s going on right now? And how should we make sense of it?

  • Opensource.com summer book Twitter drawing rules

    Enter for your chance to win a book from our summer reading list. Here’s what you need to do:

  • JDownloader Court Ruling Worries Open Source Software Developers

    This week news broke that the popular JDownloader download tool had been declared illegal by a German court. The headline was open for debate since the court only took exception to one particular and long-since removed feature which allowed the downloading of encrypted video streams. However, the ruling has concerned the creators of JDownloader who say that it represents a threat to the development of Open Source Software.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 24 for Linux gets native MP3, AAC and H.264 support

        Firefox users who use the Windows 7 or Windows 8 operating system benefit from support for H.264, Mp3 and AAC formats that Mozilla implemented in version 21 of the web browser. Support means that users of the browser on those systems can play audio and video files requiring these formats in the browser without plugins.

      • Launching Maker Party 2013
      • Mozilla checks in with Cookie Clearinghouse for better cookie handling

        The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School has announced a list-based exception platform for managing cookies, called the Cookie Clearinghouse (CCH). Mozilla has committed to work with the CCH Advisory Board to develop the platform.

        Mozilla’s recent attempts to bring in better handling of cookies – in the form of Safari’s third-party cookie block – and reduce the tracking of users ended up in “development hell” a month ago. This was not, though, a result of criticism from advertising groups, but because it was generating too many false positives and false negatives when deciding whether to block cookies from third-party sites.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Rackspace, Fidelity: OpenStack Hybrid Cloud Partnership

      The public cloud’s heyday has passed, and enterprises should focus on hybrid cloud investment. So say executives at Rackspace (RAX), the OpenStack-powered cloud hosting vendor. And if deals like the one Rackspace just announced with Fidelity Investments to build an OpenStack cloud is any indication, Rackspace’s vision is on the mark. Here’s the scoop.

  • Databases

    • Oracle Databases: From MySQL to NoSQL Switch?

      Is the NoSQL database trend a threat to Oracle (ORCL)? This is a big week for the company, which announced somewhat disappointing Q4 new software licenses yesterday. While cloud computing and hardware sales are Oracle’s big challenges, you can’t overlook the open source database wars as well. Indeed, Oracle and MySQL faces challenges from smaller NoSQL vendors.

    • MongoDB GUIs that Shine

      MongoDB is a high performance, open source, non-relational NoSQL database written in C++. MongoDB stores structured data as JSON-like documents with dynamic schemas (MongoDB calls the format BSON). This property helps make the integration of data in certain types of applications easier and faster. MongoDB is network accessible, has full index support, query profiling, replication and fail-over support, indexing, auto-sharding for cloud-level scalability, load balancing and more.

    • Oracle Advances Open Source MySQL Clustering
    • TokuMX brings “Fractal Tree indexing” to MongoDB

      Tokutek has announced version 1.0 of TokuMX, a version of MongoDB that has its storage layer replaced with Tokutek’s storage engine. The storage engine, which is available for MySQL and MariaDB, uses the company’s patented Fractal Tree indexing. In developing TokuMX, the developers have also replaced the locking and replication code of MongoDB to get better workload performance as the client count increases. The focus for TokuMX is on large databases of over 50GB, where its indexing technology can bring the most benefit to performance.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice is getting better, even better

      The group responsible for overseeing the development of the LibreOffice free and open source “Office”-style productivity suite of applications has confirmed its latest release.

      The Document Foundation says that 98 bug reports and improvements have been included in LibreOffice 4.0.4, with the 4.1.x (and onward) set of releases due to follow as soon as this July.

  • CMS

    • WordPress 3.5.2 Released – Maintenance and Security Fixes

      WordPress 3.5.2 is now available. This is the second maintenance release of 3.5, fixing 12 bugs. This is a security release for all previous versions and we strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately.

      The WordPress security team resolved seven security issues, and this release also contains some additional security hardening.

    • CMSs mostly vulnerable through addons says German security agency

      Unpatched vulnerabilities not closed by the developers in time or the lack of a crisis communication plan or brute force protection did have the biggest negative impact on the BSI’s overall rating, while a clunky integration into existing management software only brought down the score a little. However, the security experts did not conduct a penetration test for the study.

  • Education

    • How libraries can be a haven for makers

      I work at a public library in the Washington DC-area and often think about what needs to be designed into the space of future public libraries. I was recently visiting the MAKE magazine website when I saw a fascinating how-to video about building your own portable Raspberry Pi game system.

  • Funding


  • Project Releases

    • Suricata 1.4.3 released!

      Photo by Eric LeblondThe OISF development team is pleased to announce Suricata 1.4.3. This is a small but important update over the 1.4.2 release, fixing some important bugs.

    • Touch-aware Magnolia 5.0 released

      Version 5.0 of the open source Magnolia CMS has been released after a year and a half spent redeveloping the front end tools that deliver content to the CMS’s users. Talking with The H, Pascal Mangold, CEO of Magnolia, explained that Magnolia 4.5 had seen the redevelopment of the backend of Magnolia to create a foundation for the work that has been delivered in Magnolia 5.0. Magnolia is a Java CMS that is built around the concept of being an enterprise integration platform, connecting users with enterprise systems in an accessible way.

    • Google’s Dart hits beta

      Google has released the first beta version of its scripting language Dart, which it originally unveiled as its alternative to JavaScript in October 2011. Google’s new programming language essentially aims to replace JavaScript – unlike Microsoft’s TypeScript and CoffeeScript, two supersets that add important features to the older scripting language.

    • Build Tool Version 0.6.8 Released
  • Openness/Sharing

    • The most inspiring introduction to Open Science. Ever.

      The video never went viral, probably because it has an unexplained ‘interlude’ after 42 minutes 57 seconds which makes it seem to end at a random point. This bizarre showstopping moment didn’t deter your intrepid iij innovation hunters (it actually resumes after about a minute of serious onscreen weirdness) from recognizing a gem and it certainly shouldn’t stop you watching it

    • Open Access/Content

      • Funders have all the power in OA negotiations. So why aren’t they using it?

        A few days ago I explained why I don’t think “hybrid OA” is a legitimate path to the full-open-access world we all want. The TL;DR is first that it’s offered at stupidly high prices, and secondly that it’s completely impossible to detect or prevent double-dipping because journal subscriptions are the most opaquely priced good in the known universe.

        Then I found that Stuart Shieber had written much the same article but much better four years ago, from the perspective of explaining why the Harvard open-access fund does not cover hybrid fees.

  • Programming

    • 13 Linux Debuggers for C++ Reviewed

      Most time in debuggers is spent doing the same few things: setting breakpoints, stepping through code, looking at variables. Which products make those features supremely accessible and useful? We compare 13 debuggers and find out.

      Have you compared debuggers lately? Until recently, I’d been programming using only one debugger — the one supplied by my compiler vendor. Suddenly, with a new job programming on Linux, I find the range of choices in debuggers is dizzying. Wikipedia lists 18 GUI front ends for GDB alone. This article is the result of my effort to choose a debugger with a good GUI front end for my first UNIX/Linux job in several years.

    • Zend Framework 2.2.1 Released

      The Zend Framework community announced the immediate availability of Zend Framework 2.2.1!

      Packages and installation instructions are available at: http://framework.zend.com/downloads/latest

    • Google’s JavaScript challenger gains better tools, performance

      Like TypeScript, Dart is a language aimed at making it easier to develop large, complex web applications that are efficient, secure, and maintainable. It compiles into JavaScript, so it can run in any modern web browser, but its syntax is designed to ameliorate some of JavaScript’s more glaring flaws.

    • PHP 5.5.0 Released
    • PHP 5.5.0 adds optimizer and drops Windows XP support
  • Standards/Consortia

    • Google’s VP9 web video codec enters home straight

      As planned in May, Google has now finalised the bit stream for VP9, its open video compression format. Chromium has included a beta VP9 decoder for some time and this has now been activated by default according to an entry in the issue tracker reading “Remove VP9 flag, and enable VP9 by default”. VP9 can also be enabled in the developer version of Chromium and Chrome (“Enable VP9 playback in video elements”). Google is planning to incorporate the final version of VP9 into Chrome 29 and enable it by default by 20 August. It is nonetheless likely to be some time before VP9 achieves a critical mass on YouTube – to date VP9 is limited to a few demo videos.


  • Second Life turns 10: what it did wrong, and why it may have its own second life
  • Silvio Berlusconi sentenced to seven years in jail in bunga bunga sex trial
  • Science

    • Black hole mysteries

      Scientists are just getting to know the black holes that help anchor our cosmos

  • Health/Nutrition

    • EU Approves the Use of Laser “Tattoos” on Fruit as Replacement for Sticky Labels

      Sticky fruit labels may soon be things of the past thanks to a new EU ruling that allows grocers and retailers to make laser marks on the skin of citrus fruit, melons and pomegranates. Laser branding, previously banned because of the use of iron oxides and hydroxides, was approved after three years of liaising between the EU and Laser Food – the company behind the technology. The new law will come into effect on June 23rd.

      Read more: EU Approves the Use of Laser “Tattoos” on Fruit as Replacement for Sticky Labels | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

    • When Jeremy Hunt can become health secretary, it’s a sign Britain is sick

      How can one have faith in the democratic process and the ruling elite when such a man is passing judgment as health secretary?

  • Security

    • Kaspersky Secure OS vs China, Iran, North Korea Hackers?

      Kaspersky Lab is developing a cyber secure operating system to combat state-sponsored hackers in China, Iran, North Korea and more. But when will CEO Eugene Kaspersky offer updates?

    • DNS provider’s error caused LinkedIn “hack” and affected 5,000 more

      LinkedIn, the professional networking site which had been reported as hacked or hijacked yesterday, was in fact the victim of human error at the company’s DNS provider, Network Solutions, an error which appears to have affected up to 5,000 domains in all. Network Solutions has said in a blog posting that while trying to resolve a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack, it accidentally changed the DNS records of a “small number” of customers.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Report: Stronger Border Led to More Migrant Deaths

      Tucson, Arizona – As immigration reform debates run hot on Capitol Hill, many members of Congress say a more secure border has to be part of any bill they approve. One of those is Arizona Sen. John McCain, one of the “Gang of Eight” of bipartisan lawmakers pushing reform.

    • First State Department Benghazi photos released
    • Latest Brazil protests bring 250,000 on to streets

      More than 250,000 anti-government protesters have again taken to the streets in several Brazilian cities and engaged police in isolated intense conflicts. Demonstrators vowed to stay in the streets until concrete steps are taken to reform the political system.

      Across Brazil protesters gathered to denounce legislation known as PEC 37 that would limit the power of federal prosecutors to investigate crimes. Many fear the laws would hinder attempts to jail corrupt politicians.

    • Turkish police use water cannon to disperse remembrance gathering

      Turkish police used water cannon to disperse thousands who had gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Saturday to observe a memorial for four people killed during recent anti-government protests. The officers later fired teargas and rubber bullets to scatter demonstrators who regrouped in side streets.

      The police move came as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared that foreign-led conspirators he alleges are behind the anti-government movement in his country also are fomenting the recent unrest in Brazil.

    • Guevara’s ‘betrayer’ tells his story: ‘When I heard Che had died it was like a bullet had hit me’

      He was one of Guevara’s most trusted collaborators, yet he has been framed by some as the man who betrayed him. Now Ciro Bustos tells his story

    • Boy’s death highlights anger some Yemenis feel over U.S. drone strikes

      If an apparent U.S. drone strike this month in the village of Mahashama had killed only its intended targets – an al Qaida chief and some of his men – locals might’ve grumbled about a violation of Yemen’s national sovereignty and gone on with their lives.

      But the strike also killed a 10-year-old named Abdulaziz, the younger brother of the targeted militant, Saleh Hassan Huraydan, according to local tribal leaders and Yemenis with close ties to the al Qaida branch here. And that set off a firestorm of complaints that underscores how American airstrikes can so outrage a community that even though al Qaida loses some foot soldiers, it gains dozens of sympathizers.

    • Ex-CIA chief to Obama: Strike North Korea

      The Obama administration should “seriously consider” a surgical strike to prevent North Korea from developing long-range missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, argued former CIA director James Woolsey.

      In a radio interview Sunday night, Woolsey warned the U.S. is currently wide open and virtually defenseless against a missile coming from a southerly direction, and that both Iran and North Korea made advances toward firing missiles in that direction.

    • Obama’s Secret CIA Hit Squad Detailed in “The Way of the Knife”

      The story behind the development and deployment of this presidential killing corps is told inThe Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth, the latest book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Mazzetti.

    • Jihawg Ammo: Pork-laced Bullets Designed To Send Muslims Straight ‘To Hell’
    • How Barrett Brown shone light on the murky world of security contractors

      Unlike Edward Snowden or Bradley Manning, Brown is not a celebrity. But after helping expose a dirty tricks plot, he faces jail

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • California sends a cease and desist order to the Bitcoin Foundation

      California’s Department of Financial Institutions has issued a cease and desist letter to the Bitcoin Foundation for “allegedly engaging in the business of money transmission without a license or proper authorization,” according to Forbes. The news comes after Bitcoin held its “Future of Payments” conference in San Jose last month. (The license information is available on CA.gov and Forbes placed the cease and desist letter on Scribd.)

      If found in violation, penalties range from $1,000 to $2,500 per violation per day plus criminal prosecution (which could lead to more fines and possibly imprisonment). Under federal law, it’s also a felony “to engage in the business of money transmission without the appropriate state license or failure to register with the US Treasury Department,” according to Forbes. Penalties under that law could be up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

    • Starbucks pays corporation tax in UK for first time in five years

      Starbucks, one of the companies exhorted by the prime minister to “wake up and smell the coffee” over tax, has handed over £5m to HM Revenue and Customs – its first payment in five years.

      But the cash has only gone some way towards assuaging critics, one of whom complained that companies should not be able to “pick and choose” how much tax they wanted to pay.

      The coffee shop chain said on Sunday it had made the contribution to please its customers and would be paying a second £5m instalment in the last half of the year despite claiming the business overall continued to make a financial loss in Britain.

    • Why Spain And Italy Are Like Cyprus, Slovenia, And Greece

      The “XXXXX is not YYYYY” jokes aside, Europe’s union of nations is beginning to separate increasingly between the haves and the have-nots. The sad truth, as Bloomberg’s Niraj Shah notes, is that recession/depression has pushed Spanish and Italian GDP-per-capita below the EU average in purchasing power terms – just like Cyprus, Slovenia, and Greece. Irish GDP per capita was 29% above the average, while Greek and Portuguese per capita output were 25% below. Output per head for the EU ranged between 47% (Bulgaria) and 271% (Luxembourg) of the average. With today’s news that retroactive ESM recaps are unlikely, the banking-sovereign symbiosis of Spain and Italy will increasingly come under pressure and with productivity so dismal, there is little hope for now.

    • Southeast Asia: The Next Crisis?

      Southeast Asia, so long a byway of the world economy, has become a well-worn path for foreign investors seeking refuge from the continuing after-effects of the global financial crisis. They have come because the region has been surging ahead over the last few years, even as the West slumped, China readjusted and India stuttered.

      As confidence grew in Southeast Asia’s newfound ability to realize its potential, success followed success: Indonesia is on the cusp of becoming the region’s first trillion-dollar economy, and achieved an investment-grade credit rating for the first time in 14 years in late 2011, something the Philippines also attained for the first time ever earlier this year; manufacturing has been booming in Malaysia and Thailand; and the Philippines began to challenge India as the top destination for offshore services, while posting first-quarter GDP growth of 7.8%, Asia’s best performance.

    • Bitcoin Foundation Receives Cease And Desist Order From California

      Directly following last month’s Bitcoin 2013 conference event in San Jose, CA that brought decent revenue into the state, California’s Department of Financial Institutions decided to issue a cease and desist warning to conference organizer Bitcoin Foundation for allegedly engaging in the business of money transmission without a license or proper authorization.

      If found to be in violation of California Financial Code, penalties can be severe ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 per violation per day plus criminal prosecution which could result in fines and/or imprisonment. Additionally, it is a felony violation of federal law to engage in the business of money transmission without the appropriate state license or failure to register with the U.S. Treasury Department. Convictions under the federal statute are punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

    • Bernanke’s stand-off with markets: who will blink first?

      US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is playing a potentially dangerous game of chicken with global financial markets sent reeling by his threat to scale back the central bank’s huge stimulus program.

    • China stocks tumble on credit tightening fears

      Chinese stock markets have fallen sharply as the country’s central bank indicated its credit tightening policy would continue.

      The Shanghai Composite SSE index fell 5.3% to 1,963.24 points, over 1,540 points below its 52-week high.

    • How Austerity Has Failed

      Austerity has failed. It turned a nascent recovery into stagnation. That imposes huge and unnecessary costs, not just in the short run, but also in the long term: the costs of investments unmade, of businesses not started, of skills atrophied, and of hopes destroyed.

    • U.S. Seemingly Unaware of Irony in Accusing Snowden of Spying

      At a press conference to discuss the accusations, an N.S.A. spokesman surprised observers by announcing the spying charges against Mr. Snowden with a totally straight face.

      “These charges send a clear message,” the spokesman said. “In the United States, you can’t spy on people.”

    • 6 Facts About Hunger That Demonstrate the Shameful Excesses of American Capitalism

      Of all the miseries placed on human beings in their everyday lives, the lack of food may be the most inexcusable. Even in a world controlled by unbending attitudes of self-reliance and individual responsibility, the reality of children and seniors and disabled citizens going hungry is a stain on humanity, a shameful testament to the capitalist goal of profit without conscience.

    • Teachers to close schools with strike against cuts

      The strike, which will be followed by regional strikes elsewhere in the UK next term leading to a one-day national stoppage before Christmas if the dispute is not solved, is over government curbs on teachers’ pay, cuts to their pension and changes to their working conditions.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Brazil Protests Peaceful, And Not About Bus Fares

      In preparation for FISL (where I hope to be speaking next week), I have been continuing to try to understand the protests in Brazil, which are now regularly bringing crowds the size of a European town onto the streets. They aren’t really about “bus fares” — and as far as I have been told are free of violence by the protesters apart from a statistically insignificant number of them. With so many people on the streets, there are bound to be a few disorderly encounters; to focus on them is try to distract from the real issues.

      The real issues every Brazilian friend I have spoken to cares about relate to a sequence of governments failing to address structural issues and widespread corruption, and even perhaps joining in. The protesters are people just like you and me, who just won’t take it any more and are peacefully but loudly saying so.

  • Privacy

    • Edward Snowden seeks asylum in Ecuador amid diplomatic storm

      The intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden will on Monday attempt to complete an audacious escape to the relative safety of South America after his departure from Hong Kong escalated already fraught diplomatic relations between the United States and China.

    • NSA leaker Snowden arrives in Moscow en route to ‘third country’ with WikiLeaks help

      The plane carrying whistleblower Edward Snowden has landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. The former CIA contractor, who left Hong Kong in a bid to elude US extradition on espionage charges, is on his way to a ‘third country’ via Russia.

    • RT interview re Snowden flying to Russia

      As the news broke that NSA whis­tleblower, Edward Snowden, had fled Hong Kong for Rus­sia today, I was invited on RT to do an inter­view. At that point few people had any idea of his plans. How­ever, it appears that the USA had charged Snowden under the Espi­on­age Act 1917 (no sur­prises) and then asked Hong Kong to arrest and hold him, pending extra­di­tion. Equally unsur­pris­ingly, Hong Kong found mis­takes in the paper­work and used the oppor­tun­ity to com­plain about US spy­ing activ­ity in its territory.

    • WikiLeaks Statement On Edward Snowden’s Exit From Hong Kong

      Mr Edward Snowden, the American whistleblower who exposed evidence of a global surveillance regime conducted by US and UK intelligence agencies, has left Hong Kong legally. He is bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks.


      “The WikiLeaks legal team and I are interested in preserving Mr Snowden’s rights and protecting him as a person. What is being done to Mr Snowden and to Mr Julian Assange – for making or facilitating disclosures in the public interest – is an assault against the people”.

    • Edward Snowden asks for asylum in Ecuador: live updates

      The NSA whistleblower left Hong Kong on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow, two days after the US charged him with espionage, before applying for asylum in Ecuador

    • Now the Government Knows You’re a Dog

      “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” That phrase is ingrained in web culture, stemming from a Peter Steiner comic that was published in a 1993 issue of The New Yorker.

    • Anger mounts after Facebook’s ‘shadow profiles’ leak in bug

      Facebook said Friday it fixed a bug that exposed contact info for over six million accounts. The admission revealed its ‘shadow profile’ data collection activities, and users are furious.


      …users behind closed doors, without their consent.


      One man commented this afternoon, “I just downloaded the “extended backup” and I’m still viewing emails and phone numbers that are NOT PUBLIC!!!!”


      The yearlong gap of exposure as described by Reuters creates a scenario of horrifying possibilities for any woman who has begin to experience harassment, abuse or stalking by an ex within the past year. Or, anyone being maliciously stalked and harassed by a tech-savvy aggressor (or a stalker’s Facebook sock puppet) they may have accidentally friended over the past year.

    • Obama’s ‘Insider Threat’ Program a ‘Sweeping’ Crackdown on Leakers

      A program being implemented by the Obama administration titled “Insider Threat” requires millions of federal employees to keep a close watch on each other—a “sweeping” effort to crackdown on whistleblowers and leakers across the U.S. government, McClatchy reports Friday after obtaining a series of government documents.

    • We can use European law to challenge this spying

      If the law says you can do whatever you like, saying that everything you do is “in accordance with the law” doesn’t mean anything. If “supervision” over state spying is done in secret, by “trusted” cronies appointed by the executive itself, it offers no safeguards either. We need strict legal rules, transparency at least about the law and the basics of practice, and spies who are accountable to parliament and to the general public.

    • Bush’s Foiled NSA Blackmail Scheme

      In early 2003, as the U.S. and British governments were seeking international acquiescence to their aggressive war on Iraq, an unexpected cog throw into the propaganda machine was the disclosure that the National Security Agency was spying on UN Security Council members in search of blackmail material.

      The revelation received little attention in the mainstream U.S. news media, which was almost fully onboard the pro-war bandwagon, but the disclosure received wide international attention and stopped the blackmail scheme. U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were forced to abandon a UN resolution and invade Iraq with a ragtag “coalition of the willing.”

    • EXCLUSIVE: Snowden reveals more US cyberspying details
    • Greenwald Tears Into Gregory: With Newsmen Like You, ‘Who Needs Government To Criminalize Reporting?’

      Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald took Meet The Press host David Gregory head on in an interview Sunday morning, after Gregory asked if Greenwald would be criminally culpable for “aiding and abetting” NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

      “I think it’s pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies,” Greenwald said. “The assumptions in your question, David, is completely without evidence, the idea I’ve aided and abetted him in any way. The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the e-mails and records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory you just embraced, being co-conspirator in felonies for working with sources.”

      “If you want to embrace that theory,” Greenwald continued, “it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information, is a criminal. It’s precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States. It’s why the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer said investigative reporting has come to a standstill, as a result of the questions you just mentioned.”

    • Obama says FBI nominee Comey will balance privacy, security

      In nominating Jim Comey to be the next FBI director on Friday, President Barack Obama said the former Justice Department official will help strike a balance between the need for information on terrorist plots and respecting Americans’ privacy.

    • An Apology to my European IT Team

      As more information comes out on Prism, two criteria consistently show up that we would have consistently triggered oversight…

    • NSA director: Edward Snowden has caused irreversible damage to US

      Keith Alexander defends agency’s broad surveillance as being in line with Americans’ expectations for preventing another 9/11

    • Edward Snowden and the NSA files – timeline
    • Former Facebook security chief is now working for the NSA
    • Support NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, says Julian Assange

      The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has called on the world to “step forward and stand with” Edward Snowden, after the NSA whistleblower was charged with espionage by US federal prosecutors.

      According to a statement on the WikiLeaks website, Assange said: “A few weeks ago, Edward Snowden blew the whistle on an ongoing program – involving the Obama administration, the intelligence community and the internet services giants – to spy on everyone in the world. As if by clockwork, he has been charged with espionage by the Obama administration.”

    • Venezuela or Ecuador: where next for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden?
    • NSA leaks: US and Britain team up on mass surveillance

      Latest revelations from Edward Snowden show that the state risks crossing ever more ethical and legal boundaries

    • NSA Targeted Communications in China and Hong Kong – Snowden

      Earlier, he had said that the British agency, GCHQ, is worse than the NSA when it comes to cyber-snooping on worldwide communications.

    • NSA Now Revealing A Lot More About What It Does Than Snowden Leaks Did; So Is That Harming America?

      One of the key refrains that has come out from those who are unhappy about the revelation of details around the NSA’s surveillance efforts is that Edward Snowden’s leaks are somehow harmful to America. During hearings about all of this, NSA boss Keith Alexander claimed that “Americans will die” because of these sorts of leaks. But… between those same hearings and other revelations from the administration and Congress, we’re actually learning much more about the various programs directly from the government, as information is now being “declassified.” And, apparently, President Obama is asking the NSA and the Justice Department to look into declassifying even more. So while the initial shove to declassify information may have come via Snowden, the stuff that we’re really learning about is coming through revelations following Snowden’s leaks — revelations that never would have happened without his leaks.

    • Snowden’s plane leaves Moscow, NSA leaker not seen aboard

      Ex-CIA contractor, Edward Snowden, has not been seen aboard the plane to Havana on which he would reportedly be traveling, reports RT’s correspondent on the flight. The plane has already departed from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

    • Edward Snowden due to fly to Cuba in Ecuador asylum bid
    • LinkedIn DNS hijacked, traffic rerouted for an hour, and users’ cookies read in plain text

      According to Berg, that site does not require SSL (secure sockets layer), which means that anyone who visited in the last hour or so sent it their long-lived session cookies in plain text … a potential security risk.

    • To the Guardian – why PRISM? ECHELON has been around since 1948 supported by US, UK, Canada, Australia

      It is not at all clear to me why everyone is so excited about PRISM and the apparently new ability to monitor private communications that the Guardian got all excited about last week. It took me a day or two to remember the name, but I have this piece (below) from 2003 which documents ECHELON which has been around since 1948. PRISM reads like an extension/ subset/ addition to ECHELON.

    • NSA PRISM puts “public” cloud in a new light

      It’s all those other three-letter acronym (TLAs) organizations, such as the FBI, IRS, and SEC, which might have access to my data that I worry about.

    • Snowden receives refugee document of passage from Ecuador
    • Google must delete last of UK Street View data

      The payload data was collected by Google’s Street View cars when driving around the countryside; the software that was mapping out the location of Wi-Fi access points was also recording any data packets it could see which could include fragments of Wi-Fi users’ email, passwords or other personal data. The decision to enforce and prosecute over the payload data came as a result of investigations started when ICO reopened the case in April 2012 after concerns about the engineer’s actions working with the data. This then immediately raised questions about how the search company has handled the data.

    • Why A Special Congressional Committee Must Be Created To Investigate NSA’s Unconstitutional Domestic Spying

      In the past couple of weeks, the NSA has, unsurprisingly, responded with a series of secret briefings to Congress that have left the public in the dark and vulnerable to misstatements and word games. Congress has many options at its disposal, but for true accountability any response must start with a special investigative committee. A coalition of over 100 civil liberties groups agrees. Such a committee is the right way the American people can make informed decisions about the level of transparency and the reform needed.

    • EXCLUSIVE: Snowden sought Booz Allen job to gather evidence on NSA surveillance
    • Rep. Rogers: Snowden’s Secrets ‘Belong To The People Of The US’ & He’s A Traitor For Giving Them What They Own

      Over the past few years, we’ve found that Rep. Mike Rogers, the head of the House Intelligence Committee, has an incredible knack for spewing pure bullshit in defense of whatever he’s supporting, rarely even bothering to make sure his statements are internally consistent. Still, his statements on Meet the Press this weekend take that nonsense to a new high.

    • GCHQ Revelations Destroy Case for Snooper’s Charter

      So the revelations from Edward Snowden keep on coming, exposing ever-more profound attacks on privacy and democracy in the UK and elsewhere. News that GCHQ is essentially downloading, storing and searching through the entire flow of Internet traffic that comes into and goes out of the UK without any specific warrant to do so is one side of that. That seems to be taking place through an extremely generous interpretation of the out-of-date RIPA law that is supposed to bring some level of accountability to just this sort of thing. The fact that it doesn’t shows that we must reform RIPA and make it fit for the Internet age.

  • Civil Rights

    • Civil liberties: Guarding the guards
    • to understand terrorism and threat assessment, look to Aum

      Just as important was what the Japanese government and people did not do. They didn’t panic. They didn’t make sweeping changes to their way of life. They didn’t implement a vast system of domestic surveillance. They didn’t suspend basic civil rights. They didn’t begin to capture, torture, and kill without due process. They didn’t, in other words, allow themselves to be terrorized. Instead, they addressed the threat. They investigated and arrested the cult’s leadership. They tried them in civilian courts and earned convictions through due process. They buried their dead. They mourned. And they moved on. In every sense, it was a rational, adult, mature response to a terrible terrorist act, one that remained largely in keeping with liberal democratic ideals.

    • Stephen Lawrence family and friends targeted by police ‘smear’ campaign

      Exclusive: former undercover officer Peter Francis says superiors wanted him to find ‘dirt’ shortly after 1993 murder

    • Journalist Hastings Sent Out Mysterious Email Hours Before Death
    • Meet The Man In Charge Of America’s Secret Cyber Army (In Which “Bonesaw” Makes A Mockery Of PRISM)

      With his revelations exposing the extent of potential, and actual, pervasive NSA surveillance over the American population, Edward Snowden has done a great service for the public by finally forcing it to answer the question: is having Big Brother peek at every private communication and electronic information, a fair exchange for the alleged benefit of the state’s security. Alas, without further action form a population that appears largely numb and apathetic to disclosures that until recently would have sparked mass protests and toppled presidents, the best we can hope for within a political regime that has hijacked the democratic process, is some intense introspection as to what the concept of “America” truly means.

      However, and more importantly, what Snowden’s revelations have confirmed, is that behind the scenes, America is now actively engaged in a new kind of war: an unprecedented cyber war, where collecting, deciphering, intercepting, and abusing information is the only thing that matters and leads to unprecedented power, and where enemies both foreign and domestic may be targeted without due process based on a lowly analyst’s “whim.”

      It has also put spotlight on the man, who until recently deep in the shadows, has been responsible for building America’s secret, absolutely massive cyber army, and which according to a just released Wired profile is “capable of launching devastating cyberattacks. Now it’s ready to unleash hell.”

    • Obama’s crackdown views leaks as aiding enemies of U.S.

      Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.

      President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.

    • Time to repeal the Patriot Act, NDAA and abolish DHS

      Many Americans have known for a long time that the IRS is a rogue agency that will readily break the law to accomplish its “mission.”

      A friend of ours tells the story: He got a call from the local police department in the pre-dawn hours of a dark night. The dispatcher told him he needed to go immediately to his business, a heating and air conditioning business. When he arrived he learned that his business had been burglarized. The investigating police wanted him to determine what had been taken. After a couple of hours of searching he could find nothing noticeable missing. Even some cash had been left behind. “Well, you need to get ready for an IRS audit,” the policeman said. Sure enough, a few days later when he arrived at work he found a chain and padlock on his door and a notice from the IRS to contact them.

      In case you’re interested, the audit revealed that he was due a refund. Nobody paid any attention, even the Congressman whom the business man contacted.The result of what happens when government operates in secret—whether it be the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Department and the Washington Police Department or the FBI/CIA, can be seen in the FISA Court. That’s the apparatus set up by the Patriot Act to review government eavesdropping. We now learn that the “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” Court approved 99.97% of the government’s request to snoop, and that many of them were aimed at Americans, within America, not foreigners outside the USA.

    • Who’d try to smear Stephen Lawrence’s family? A Met that’s out of control

      The Met is out of control. The revelation that it sought to smear the Lawrence family in the hunt for Stephen Lawrence’s killers – perhaps to stifle racist aspersions on its detectives – beggars belief. Less surprising is that the operation was unknown to the then police chief, Sir Paul Condon, to the home secretary and to the Macpherson inquiry. It is merely further evidence of the Met’s gift for malpractice and skulduggery.

    • Global protest grows as citizens lose faith in politics and the state

      The myriad protests from Istanbul to São Paulo have one thing in common – growing dissent among the young, educated and better-off protesting against the very system that once enriched them. And therein lies the danger for governments

  • Intellectual Monopolies

TechBytes Episode 78: Richard Stallman Speaks About Surveillance in the Post-Leaks Era

Posted in TechBytes at 6:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Richard Stallman on Snowden, NSA, etc.

Techbytes 2013

Direct download as Ogg (00:08:15, 5.9 MB)

Summary: The first part of a series about privacy

TODAY we officially begin a series of interviews with Dr. Richard Stallman, as promised last week. Stallman was proven to be right on the issues of privacy and freedom as more information was being shown for everyone to see how surveillance is used to control users’ behaviour and distort/impede communications in some cases. As more evidence came to light, showing in concrete form what a lot of people already knew but could not always prove, there was a lot to be discussed not hypothetically but realistically.

This is the first part of many and the transcript follows (some parts were too incomprehensible due to low recording quality, so we duly apologise for inaccuracies).

Dr. Roy S. Schestowitz: As I said before, I think the plan was mostly to focus on things that we hadn’t touched before and primarily things to do with privacy. I think we were — and many people were — advocating for freedom in technology were proven to be correct in the sense that on the issue of privacy and freedom everything seems to be very symbiotic and I think in recent weeks we found that more and more people have woken up to the fact that they need to assure they can control their software.

Richard StallmanDr. Richard M. Stallman: It’s not just about what happens in your computer. With Free software you control what happens in your computer, but of course there are other systems of snooping. The NSA is setting up snooping that we have been reading about recently. They don’t work through software in your computer. So, what this shows is, a) they have {users must have} control over the software in your computer; b) we need to work politically to make sure that the software that’s not in our computer — the systems that are not ours — are nonetheless not being used to snoop on us.

RSS: I think information is increasingly being used to change behaviour in people and also to distort the ways of communication between entities and I think that routers, for example, play a role in the way in which we interact with computers, so I wonder what your take is on the [snooping] in routers, many of them [are] Cisco ones.

“Of course encryption in itself doesn’t disguise who we are talking to and it’s been played out that if the government knows who knows who, then it is a tremendous start on breaking any dissident movement.”RMS: Ed Snowden, I think, said that the NSA takes control of routers in order to monitor Internet traffic in other countries.

RSS: It is actually proven to be the case and any interested person who researched this subject before would know that Cisco was working with the Chinese government to enable things like sending E-mail port back to communication and such things, so we do know that there is a degree of collusion between them. I think we’ll touch on this later when we’re just thinking the possibility of back doors. But I think it’s more evident now that it comes to light, showing in concrete terms what we already know was probably happening all these years.

RMS: There are many routers you can get that you can then install free software into. So if we are talking about your router, then yeah, you should put Free software into it. But when you talk to other [incomprehensible] it’s critical to ask first if they are not yours. And some of them will belong to companies that might very well be collaborating with surveillance. And Free software is not going to fix that problem, because if that company which [incomprehensible] for its switch/routers was to collaborate with the NSA, it is going to collaborate with the NSA or the Chinese government or whatever. So, Free software means you can control over the software or what your computer is doing or your computers are doing, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other organisations you deal with are going to respect your privacy.

RSS: Unless of course we use encryption, for example.

RMS: Yes. Of course encryption in itself doesn’t disguise who we are talking to and it’s been played out that if the government knows who knows who, then it is a tremendous start on breaking any dissident movement.

The next part will be published in a few days.

We hope you will join us for future shows and consider subscribing to the show via the RSS feed. You can also visit our archives for past shows. If you have an Identi.ca account, consider subscribing to TechBytes in order to keep up to date.

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