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06.28.13

Links 28/6/2013: MintBox is Out, Google Builds Android-powered Game Console

Posted in News Roundup at 4:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • Intel is Committed to Open Source, Security + Governance | #hadoopsummit

      John Furrier and Dave Vellante, theCUBE co-hosts, broadcast live today from Hadoop Summit 2013 in San Jose, discussing the Hadoop Driven Business and the challenges arising from massive Hadoop adoption in terms of security and governance.

      Their guest, Aaron Davies-Morris, Managing Director, Worldwide Professional Services with Intel, talked about his company’s current business strategy.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox gets a new logo, rolls out desktop and Android Beta updates

        Firefox is an ever evolving beast, and that includes both its friendly orange fox logo, and its Beta channel browser. Today Mozilla unveiled the fourth Firefox logo, a (slightly) less textured and glossy icon for its favored web browser. Meanwhile, the latest update for for Firefox Beta brings access to the company’s Social API and, consequently, Share buttons to the platform — so Facebook fanatics can have one-click sharing of images, articles, videos and links from the Firefox toolbar. The new Beta is also getting a Mixed Content Blocker that prevents HTTP (read: nonsecure) content from loading on HTTPS websites. Plus, there’s a new Network Monitor feature to let devs see how quickly individual page components load and optimizations for OS X 10.7 that enable its scrollbar style and and the scroll bounce behavior Apple fans love.

  • BSD

    • GhostBSD 3.1 Now Available

      Eric is pleased to announce that GhostBSD 3.1 is now available! This release is a respin of 3.0 including many bug fix. GhostBSD 3.1 does not include any updated package or new feature its only to fix issue that some user had find.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Project Releases

    • Puppet Enterprise 3.0 offers better performance

      Puppet Labs has released version 3.0 of the commercial edition of its open source configuration management tool, Puppet. With Puppet, administrators and developers define the required configuration settings using a domain specific language (DSL) – the actual implementation of those settings on the machines being what Puppet handles. Thanks to work from partners such as VMware, Cisco and Juniper, not only can compute resources be configured, but also storage and networking. In terms of performance, the addition of a centralised storage service with PuppetDB has brought a 200% improvement in agent run times and catalog compilation time has dropped by 60%. The developers say this should support twice the number of nodes that the previous versions supported.

    • Puppet Enterprise 3 Orchestrates Configuration
    • First beta of XBian 1.0 for Raspberry Pi

      The first beta version of XBian 1.0, a media centre Linux distribution for the Raspberry Pi mini-computer, is now available. Since the alpha, the developers have made XBMC Frodo 12.2 the default; that version of XBMC contains many Raspberry-Pi-specific changes. SuperRepo, the add-on repository for XBMC, is also included by default, giving users access to over 1000 add-ons that can be installed from within the media centre application.

  • Openness/Sharing

Leftovers

  • Why Software Platforms Should Be More Like Pandora

    For many years after the de facto industry standardization on the MP3 format, the primary problem remained music acquisition. There were exceptions, of course: serious Napster addicts, participants in private online file trading or even underemployed office workers who used their company LAN to pool their collective music assets. All of these likely had more music than they knew what to do with. But for the most part, the average listener maintained a modestly sized music catalog; modest enough that millions of buyers could fit the entirety of their music on the entry level first generation iPod, which came with a capacity of 5 GB. Even at smaller, borderline-lossy compression levels – which weren’t worth using – that’s just over a thousand songs.

  • RCMP Service To Citizens Crashes And Burns In Alberta
  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • NZ Exports Face Destruction If Minister Changes GMO Rules
    • With Recent Victories, Movement to Label GMOs Gains Steam

      More than six months after a big defeat in California, the movement to label foods containing genetically modified organisms appears to be picking up steam across the country.

      In the past three weeks, Connecticut and Maine passed labeling bills, the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the first time approved a non-GMO label claim for meat products, Chipotle began voluntarily labeling menu items containing GMO ingredients online, and, perhaps most notably, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted last week to give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration funding to label genetically modified salmon if the agency approves the fish.

      These are all small steps compared to what California’s Proposition 37 would have accomplished – since the populous state consumes a significant share of groceries in the United States, some speculated that food giants would have reformulated their products to avoid creating two supply chains – but the string of victories has many in the so-called ‘Right to Know’ movement confident the tide is turning in their favor.

      “It’s simply a matter of time,” said Scott Faber, who serves as executive director of Just Label It, a national advocacy campaign. Faber, who is vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, used to be a lobbyist for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which actively lobbies against mandatory labeling initiatives.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • How The U.S. Is Paying Millions To Fight Itself In Syria

      The United States’ decision to supply arms to the Syrian rebels is being met and challenged with an equally impressive flow of money from a place the Pentagon is intimately familiar with: itself.

    • Pulse of The People: America is addicted to war

      The recent NSA revelations of widespread surveillance on American citizens should be cause for intense protest. Surely it will be, as a day of nationwide mass action to restore the Fourth Amendment has been planned for the Fourth of July. But any awake American can see that PRISM is only one sock on a long line of dirty laundry. The list of U.S. government abuses and failures to protect stretches far and wide, an alphabet soup of depravity: PRISM, NDAA, CISPA, SOPA, Patriot Act, the Monsanto Protection Act, drones, secret kill lists, Guantanamo Bay, DNA tests, Abu Ghraib, Afghan Massacre, Keystone, Tar Sands, Hanford. I’m certain you’ll think of more.

      While PRISM and the rest of the gang are individually sordid, when combined they are the track marks of a far more pervasive, widespread, life-wasting problem. One that has systematically attacked not just the Fourth Amendment, but also the First, Second, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and 10th. No matter how hard we advocate for the Fourth Amendment now, others will fall so long as this substance burns through the veins of the Republic.

      This is your government on war.

    • Bill Would Ban Drone Strikes Against U.S. Citizens

      There’s one measure that quietly passed in the House along with Friday’s massive defense bill that libertarians may like: a ban on drone strikes against U.S. citizens.

      The idea that the United States military could target citizens with Hellfire missiles from an unmanned aerial vehicle caught prominence when Sen. Rand Paul held an epic 13-hour filibuster demanding to know whether the Obama administration thought it had the authority to carry out such a strike.

    • America’s Edward Snowden problem

      The main problem for Edward Snowden is that he ran away. That’s not Edward Snowden’s problem; it’s America’s problem. The idea that Edward Snowden decided to flee overseas in order to deliver his revelations of massive US government surveillance is awkward for the United States politically, and difficult for a lot of Americans on the emotional level.

    • John Kerry and the Taliban: The secret emails revealed
    • What keeps Obama awake?

      Actor George Clooney was quoted by the January 2012 issue of Esquire magazine as having asked President Obama: What single issue keeps him awake at night? The president’s answer: Pakistan.

      Clooney said, “I get that” and the “question of whether Zardari’s government is actually in control or whether the military is. And how close the Taliban, or Al Qaeda, or whoever else, is to having their hands on real weapons of mass destruction. It’s the closest government there is to allowing those weapons to either be used or sold…”

      Clooney, of course, does not really ‘get it’. He was regurgitating the myths propagated against Pakistan. Hopefully, an intelligent and rational leader like Obama does ‘get it’. Such dire conclusions, portraying Pakistan as the “nexus of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction”, have been concocted from fact and fiction, old and new, by Pakistan’s enemies for reasons that are not secret.

    • Fresh questions for NYPD as CIA collaboration revealed in new report

      Campaigners for greater accountability at New York’s powerful police force have seized on a report that details for the first time the extent of the collaboration between the CIA and the NYPD in the years after 9/11.

    • How The CIA Aided The NYPD’s Surveillance Program

      In the years after the attacks on September 11th, 2001, the NYPD had at least four “embedded” CIA officers in their midst. And because at least one of the officers was on unpaid leave at the time, the officer was able to bypass the standing prohibition against domestic spying for the agency and help conduct surveillance for the police force. In his words, he had “no limitations.”

    • New Report Suggests CIA Planted Spies Inside NYPD
    • Leaked: CIA aims crackdown on leaks inside CIA

      The director of the CIA has outlined plans to launch a new campaign aimed at keeping the organization’s operations secret. The memo, issued by director John Brennan, was itself leaked late on Wednesday.

      The ‘Honor the Oath’ campaign has the intention of reinforcing “our corporate culture of secrecy” according to the memo, which was obtained by Associated Press. The document had been labeled unclassified and for official use only.

      Brennan wrote that the campaign is a result of a CIA security review conducted last summer by the organization’s former director, David Petraeus, after “several high-profile anonymous leaks and publications by former senior officers,” were identified, according to Brennan.

    • Biden Gathers Senators For Last-Minute Syria Briefing; CIA Torture Report Nixed

      On Capitol Hill Thursday, an intimate briefing between CIA Director John Brennan and the top two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee exploded into an impromptu and classified briefing on Syria with top leaders at the State Department, CIA, White House and Congress.

    • CIA Spying: Think the CIA Doesn’t Spy on Americans? Think Again

      According to a New York Times article published yesterday, a recently disclosed CIA report found that “four Central Intelligence Agency officers were embedded with the New York Police Department in the decade after Sept. 11, 2001, including one official who helped conduct surveillance operations in the United States.”

    • Raymond Kelly defends program that allowed CIA agents to embed with the NYPD

      A newly declassified report by the CIA Inspector General was critical of the arrangement, which allowed one of the CIA officials, who was on leave from the agency, to participate in domestic surveillance

    • Transforming the CIA

      U.S. intelligence agency has become a secret killing machine

      [...]

      This secretive “shadow war” — or the so-called “way of the knife” — is mostly being waged by the CIA (via its influential Counterterrorism Center), U.S. special forces operations and private military contractors (with their less than stellar results) in dangerous places like Pakistan, East Africa and Yemen.

    • The CIA’s Campaign To Squash Leaks Has Already Been Leaked To The Media

      This secretive “shadow war” — or the so-called “way of the knife” — is mostly being waged by the CIA (via its influential Counterterrorism Center), U.S. special forces operations and private military contractors (with their less than stellar results) in dangerous places like Pakistan, East Africa and Yemen.

    • CIA Memo On Stopping Leaks To Reporters Is Promptly Leaked To Reporters
    • CIA chief announces new campaign to stop leaks
    • Spy leaks: CIA chief John Brennan’s new campaign to ensure secrecy

      The Associated Press obtained the memo yesterday, marked unclassified and for official use only.

    • CIA docs find a home on Amazon

      But Amazon is already storing CIA documents — just not necessarily those the agency would like.

    • CIA Struggles To Better Keep Secrets

      The sudden change in objectives is likely a direct result of Edward Snowden’s recent actions. By informing the media of the government’s surveillance programs, the CIA needs to insure that information is not so easily leaked again on such a great and reputation-damaging scale.

    • New CIA memo on how to contain leaks was leaked
    • How the CIA helped South African police arrest Mandela

      In an article published in January of 2005, William Blum sets out the background of the CIA involvement in the arrest of Nelson Mandela. Ultimately Mandela was convicted and was jailed for a total of 28 years.
      By the time Mandela was released in February of 1990, his stature had changed dramatically and then President George Bush Sr. telephoned Mandela to say that Americans rejoiced at his release. Blum points out that this was the same George Bush who once was head of the CIA and who was second in power during an administration that worked closely with South African Intelligence service to provide information about Mandela’s African National Congress. The African National Congress was seen by the US as part of the “International Communist Conspiracy”.

    • CIA Agents Were Embedded With NYPD And Had “No Limits”

      According to a recently declassified Inspector General report the CIA embedded four intelligence officers inside the New York Police Department even though an Executive Order and the National Security Act of 1947 explicitly forbid the CIA from conducting domestic surveillance. The report, completed in 2011, says that officers believed there were no limitations on their activities and the scope of their work went beyond foreign intelligence.

    • The NSA and CIA’s Dilemma: Vetting Employees for Being Without Conscience

      Yes, there was a sign they missed – Edward Snowden had something inside him shaped like a conscience, just waiting for a cause.

      It was the same with me. I went to work at the State Department, planning to become a Foreign Service Officer, with the best – the most patriotic – of intentions, going to do my best to slay the beast of the International Communist Conspiracy. But then the horror, on a daily basis, of what the United States was doing to the people of Vietnam was brought home to me in every form of media; it was making me sick at heart. My conscience had found its cause, and nothing that I could have been asked in a pre-employment interview would have alerted my interrogators of the possible danger I posed because I didn’t know of the danger myself. No questioning of my friends and relatives could have turned up the slightest hint of the radical anti-war activist I was to become. My friends and relatives were to be as surprised as I was to be. There was simply no way for the State Department security office to know that I should not be hired and given a Secret Clearance.[1]

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Biggest Dead Zone Ever Forecast in Gulf of Mexico

      Unusually robust spring floods in the U.S. Midwest are flushing agricultural runoff—namely, nitrogen and phosphorus—into the Gulf and spurring giant algal blooms, which lead to dead zones, or areas devoid of oxygen that occur in the summer.

      The forecast, developed by the University of Michigan and Louisiana State University with support from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, estimates a Gulf dead zone of between 7,286 and 8,561 square miles (18,870 and 22,172 square kilometers). The largest ever reported in the Gulf, 8,481 square miles (21,965 square kilometers), occurred in 2002.

  • Trade/Finance

    • Obama to Suspend Trade Privileges With Bangladesh

      The administration has come under intense pressure to suspend the privileges in recent months — first after a factory fire there killed 112 workers last November and then after an eight-story factory building collapsed in April, killing 1,129 workers.

    • Ecuador Tells US To Take Its Trade Agreement And Shove It, After Threats Relayed Over Snowden

      One of the points that many people have made concerning most countries in the world is that they’re loathe to challenge the US on many things, even when they’re in the right, because they’re so reliant on the US for trade. The US regularly lords this fact over countries in seeking to get its way. In fact, US officials had been very strongly suggesting to Ecuador that if it decides to take in Ed Snowden and grant him asylum, that there could be consequences for trade under the Andean Trade Preference Act that both countries are signed to, but which needs to be renewed next month. Specifically, US politicians suggested that they might not allow the renewal if Ecuador granted asylum.

    • Ecuador breaks trade pact with US to counter ‘blackmail’ over Edward Snowden
    • Obama refuses to barter over Snowden
    • Planet Linux Caffe: Miami’s First Bitcoin Restaurant

      Bitcoin, the world’s foremost digital currency, has finally made it to Miami, and this week Planet Linux Caffe in Coral Gables will become the first business in the city to accept the decentralized digital currency as payment for items on its menu, says owner Daniel Mery.

      If this news means nothing to you, maybe you should attend the Day of Bitcoin Secrets seminar hosted by HackMiami and Miami-Coral Gables Open Source Group at Planet Linux Caffe Thursday, June 27, at 6:30 p.m.

    • A ‘sitting man’ at Goldman Sachs

      Max Zahn, founder of the new website Buddha on Strike, is currently on strike in front of Goldman Sachs. I asked him a few questions about what he’s up to.

    • Pushback Against Privatization Across the Country

      The decades-long effort to privatize public services and assets is hitting some bumps, with state and local governments reconsidering whether for-profit companies should be allowed to indiscriminately profit off of taxpayer dollars with limited accountability.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • MPs: laws on GCHQ snooping “completely useless”

      Revelations of mass snooping programs from GCHQ and the US National Security Agency have shown up the UK’s laws governing surveillance as totally ineffective, MPs have said.

      Conservative MP David Davis and Labour deputy chair Tom Watson said Prism, and its UK counterpart Tempora, had highlighted that parliamentary supervision over surveillance was “completely useless”.

      “Our supervision procedures are completely useless, not just weak as we thought,” said Davis, speaking at an Open Rights Group meeting chaired by Watson. “Let’s say the foreign secretary signs this off. It then comes up in the House of Commons – what does he say? That we never comment on security matters. There’s no accountability to Parliament.”

    • Snooper’s charter has practically zero chance of becoming law, say senior MPs

      Labour’s Tom Watson and Tory David Davis say Guardian revelations mean data communications bill is probably doomed

    • Privacy: the more we know, the more we care….

      To some people, the PRISM revelations have been deeply shocking. The idea that the authorities could be spying on pretty much all our activities on the internet was something that they had never really believed – indeed, they had thought that those of us who had been going on about this kind of thing were, to be blunt, paranoid geeks. Now that Edward Snowden has brought it out in to the open, that’s not something so easy to maintain.

    • The Next NSA Spying Shoe to Drop: “Pre-Crime” Artificial Intelligence

      NSA spying whistleblower Edward Snowden’s statements have been verified. Reporter Glenn Greenwald has promised numerous additional disclosures from Snowden.

      [...]

      This is especially concerning given that the people who created the NSA spying program in the first place say that information gained through spying will be used to frame Americans that the government takes a dislike to.

    • Memories of Stasi color Germans’ view of U.S. surveillance programs

      Wolfgang Schmidt was seated in Berlin’s 1,200-foot-high TV tower, one of the few remaining landmarks left from the former East Germany. Peering out over the city that lived in fear when the communist party ruled it, he pondered the magnitude of domestic spying in the United States under the Obama administration. A smile spread across his face.

      “You know, for us, this would have been a dream come true,” he said, recalling the days when he was a lieutenant colonel in the defunct communist country’s secret police, the Stasi.

    • SSL: Intercepted today, decrypted tomorrow

      Millions of websites and billions of people rely on SSL to protect the transmission of sensitive information such as passwords, credit card details, and personal information with the expectation that encryption guarantees privacy. However, recently leaked documents appear to reveal that the NSA, the United States National Security Agency, logs very high volumes of internet traffic and retains captured encrypted communication for later cryptanalysis. The United States is far from the only government wishing to monitor encrypted internet traffic: Saudi Arabia has asked for help decrypting SSL traffic, China has been accused of performing a MITM attack against SSL-only GitHub, and Iran has been reported to be engaged in deep packet inspection and more, to name but a few.

      The reason that governments might consider going to great lengths to log and store high volumes of encrypted traffic is that if the SSL private key to the encrypted traffic later becomes available — perhaps through court order, social engineering, successful attack against the website, or through cryptanalysis — all of the affected site’s historical traffic may then be decrypted at once. This really would open Pandora’s Box, as on a busy site a single key would decrypt all of the past encrypted traffic for millions of people.

    • Putin: NSA whistleblower Snowden is in Moscow airport

      Russian president brings end to mystery over whistleblower’s whereabouts after days of confusion

    • US ‘will not scramble jets’ to fetch NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, says Barack Obama

      Speaking in Senegal at start of his African tour, US president tries to calm frenzy surrounding NSA whistleblower, currently believed to be in Moscow

    • A simple SSL tweak could protect you from GCHQ/NSA snooping

      An obscure feature of SSL/TLS called Forward Secrecy may offer greater privacy, according to security experts who have begun promoting the technology in the wake of revelations about mass surveillance by the NSA and GCHQ.

      Every SSL connection begins with a handshake, during which the two parties in an encrypted message exchange perform authentication and agree on their session keys, through a process called key exchange. The session keys are used for a limited time and deleted afterwards. The key exchange phase is designed to allow two users to exchange keys without allowing an eavesdropper to intercept or capture these credentials.

    • NSA expanded bulk collection of internet data under newly uncovered surveillance programs
    • Snowden distributed encrypted copies of NSA files across the world

      Taking another page out of the WikiLeaks playbook, Edward Snowden has apparently distributed an encrypted copy of at least “thousands” of documents that he pilfered from the National Security Agency to “several people,” according to Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who first published Snowden’s leaks.

    • What the NSA Does With the Data It Isn’t Allowed to Keep

      In the latest scoop on NSA surveillance at The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and James Ball post two different documents leaked to them by Edward Snowden. One concerns “minimization procedures.”

    • NSA collected masses of raw Internet data on Americans -report

      Citing a top-secret draft report prepared in 2009 by NSA’s inspector general, the Guardian said that the collection of the raw Internet traffic information – described as “bulk internet metadata” – began shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    • Former NSA leakers: We told you so

      Drake and former NSA employee William Binney said Snowden’s leaks confirmed many of their past warnings about the NSA’s growing surveillance efforts in recent decades. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., officials at the agency and President George Bush’s administration chose to disregard the U.S. Constitution and laws against surveillance of U.S. residents and allow the agency to sweep in their communications, said Drake, who was indicted on 10 felony counts that were later dropped.

      After 9/11, Drake said he witnessed the “United States government, in the deepest of secrecy, unchaining itself from the Constitution.”

      The NSA and Bush administration “revoked” the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, giving U.S. residents freedom from unreasonable searches, and “violated the legal regime” against domestic spying that the NSA had operated under since the late 1970s, he added.

    • Where Might the NSA Whistleblower, Edward Snowden Be Relatively Safe?

      The recent events surrounding Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, gives us the chance to engage in an interesting thought experiment.

    • Details Emerge on NSA’s Now-Ended Internet Program

      U.S. officials said they canceled the bulk Internet metadata program, which didn’t collect the content of communications, in 2011. NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander said at a conference Thursday the program didn’t justify the privacy concerns, and the data was purged.

    • Where Else Should the NSA Be Snooping?

      I find it extremely odd that the NSA is wasting its time tapping into the servers of PalTalk.

    • Latest Glenn Greenwald Scoop Vindicates One Of The Original NSA Whistleblowers

      However, the NSA subsequently gained authority to “analyze communications metadata associated with United States persons and persons believed to be in the United States,” according to a secret Justice Department memo from 2007 that was obtained by the Guardian.

      Binney says that ThinThread was built to track electronic activities — phone calls, emails, banking and travel records, social media , etc. — and map them to collect “all the attributes that any individual has” in every type of activity and build a real-time profile based on that data.

      Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/nsa-whistleblower-william-binney-was-right-2013-6#ixzz2XVhZHfzt

    • Surveillance ‘partnership’ between NSA and telcos points to AT&T, Verizon

      Newly disclosed classified document suggests firms allowed spy agency to access e-mail and phone call data by tapping into their “fiber-optic cables, gateway switches, and data networks.”

    • History repeats itself in today’s outcry over NSA’s reach

      The year was 1975 and remarks were made by then-Idaho Sen. Frank Church, who headed a special committee to investigate overreaches by U.S. intelligence operations.

    • NSA collected masses of raw Internet data on Americans -report

      The U.S. National Security Agency for over two years collected masses of raw data on the email and Internet traffic of U.S. citizens and residents, the website of Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday, bringing to light another mass surveillance program that affected Americans.

      Citing a top-secret draft report prepared in 2009 by NSA’s inspector general, the Guardian said that the collection of the raw Internet traffic information – described as “bulk internet metadata” – began shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    • Bitmessage’s NSA-Proof E-Mail

      Revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance program of the e-mails and phone records of Americans have been a boon to makers of commercial encryption programs such as Hushmail and Silent Circle. Yet unless customers bother to read these programs’ service agreements, they may not realize these companies—just like tech giants Google (GOOG) and Yahoo! (YHOO)—honor requests for customer data made by governments and courts in cases involving potential security threats.

    • NSA collected U.S. email records, Internet use for years

      The Bush White House authorized the NSA to collect US records following the 9/11 attacks, documents show

    • NSA secretly gathered Americans’ email records en masse

      Another leak sheds more light on the NSA’s controversial intelligence gathering operations

    • More NSA surveillance leaks on way, says Assange

      Intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden is likely to reveal much more information about the global surveillance programs of the US National Security Agency, WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange says.

      ”I believe we will see a lot more detail, a lot more information,” Mr Assange said on Friday.

      He said Mr Snowden’s disclosures of US signals intelligence and internet surveillance programs published by The Guardian and The Washington Post offered a ”bird’s-eye perspective” but the fine detail was essential for the leaks to achieve lasting political impact.

    • Over 500,000 People Want The NSA To Stop Watching Them

      Earlier this month, Mozilla launched an anti-NSA spying campaign called Stop Watching Us. The goal of the group is simple – pressure Congress into passing laws that remove the NSA’s ability to gather data on American citizens. In just two weeks, the petition has already proven itself to be a success.

    • Web petition urging Congress to act on NSA hits half-million mark

      More than half a million people have signed an online petition demanding Congress more fully probe the recent revelations about the National Security Agency.

    • The clear and present threat posed by the NSA surveillance programme

      Of course, there is a basis of legality for the NSA’s surveillance programme, as found in the PATRIOT Act. This point was recently discussed by David Simon, creator of cult TV series The Wire, who argued that in respect to telephone tapping, Americans have little to fear. Yet even one of the act’s authors, Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, has argued that it has been misapplied to justify the programme. Furthermore, given what we know about the programme, it is difficult to know whether or not there exists anything resembling sufficient oversight, massively undermining the American people’s ability to determine the extent of the intelligence community’s actions.

    • Is Congress Beginning to Rein in NSA Spying?

      This isn’t much positive to say about the virtues of Congressional oversight in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s leaks of the NSA’s vast domestic surveillance apparatus. Congress has been little more than an active participant in the systematic violation of Americans’ rights and privacy.

    • New NSA leaks show email surveillance under Obama

      The Obama administration permitted the National Security Agency to continue collecting vast amounts of records detailing the email and Internet usage of Americans for more than two years, new documents reveal.

      According to two leaked NSA documents published by The Guardian on Thursday, a secretive surveillance program that put email and Internet metadata into the hands of the United States government was authorized after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by President George W. Bush and continued under President Barack Obama through 2011.

    • FISA Court Colludes with NSA to Allow Unconstitutional Surveillance

      Not surprisingly, neither the Fourth Amendment nor the freedoms against tyranny that it protects are honored by Holder or the other architects and construction crews erecting the surveillance state.

    • NSA inspector general report on email and internet data collection under Stellar Wind – full document

      Top-secret draft report from 2009 by the NSA’s inspector general shows development of ‘collection of bulk internet metadata’ under program launched under Bush

    • Snowden Is Helping Terrorists (But Don’t Quote Me on That)

      It looks like we might be on to a new phase in the Edward Snowden saga: anonymous government officials going to compliant media outlets to complain that his revelations have made it easier for terrorists to evade capture.

    • The Criminal N.S.A.

      THE twin revelations that telecom carriers have been secretly giving the National Security Agency information about Americans’ phone calls, and that the N.S.A. has been capturing e-mail and other private communications from Internet companies as part of a secret program called Prism, have not enraged most Americans. Lulled, perhaps, by the Obama administration’s claims that these “modest encroachments on privacy” were approved by Congress and by federal judges, public opinion quickly migrated from shock to “meh.”

    • Is It the Dawn of the Encryption App?

      We might live in an age of persistent and pervasive surveillance. The recent revelations about the secret National Security Agency programs aimed at collecting vast amounts of data on Americans and foreigners seemingly confirm what tinfoil-wearing netizens have feared for years: They’re watching us; technology has turned against its users.

    • Despite vague NSA assurances, telecom exec says US emails gathered

      The National Security Agency has claimed that it doesn’t intentionally gather emails sent between U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, but an unnamed tipster claimed today that it has no way of actually filtering domestic emails out.

    • Telecom exec: NSA can’t distinguish between Americans and foreigners during data sweeps
    • Tor Anti-Censorship and Anonymity Infrastructure

      Professionally operated, distributed and independent Tor infrastructure for anonymity and anti-censorship online.

    • Senators: NSA must correct inaccurate claims over privacy protections
    • How Hackers Beat The NSA In The ’90s And How They Can Do It Again

      While the world parses the ramifications of the National Security Agency’s massive snooping operation, it’s important to remember an earlier government attempt at data collection and, more important, how a group of hackers and activists banded together to stop it.

      In the early 1990s, the military was petrified that encryption technologies would leave them blind to the growing use of mobile and digital communications, so they hatched a plan to ban to place a hardware patch that gave the NSA backdoor wiretap access, the so-called “Clipper Chip“.

    • Overwhelm The NSA With Vice’s New Spam Generator
    • Facebook’s outmoded Web crypto opens door to NSA spying

      It’s relatively easy for the National Security Agency’s spooks to break outdated Web encryption after vacuuming up data from fiber taps, cryptographers say. But Facebook is still using it.

    • What could the NSA do with a quantum computer?

      After many false starts it’s a research field that is just now coming of age – when harnessed, particles can perform staggeringly powerful computation.

    • NSA whisteblower Edward Snowden: The psychology of an international fugitive revealed by the man who brought down Barings Bank

      As he tries to elude arrest, Edward Snowden’s heart will be pounding and his palms sweating, writes Nick Leeson, the man who brought down Barings Bank and someone who knows what it is like to be the world’s most-wanted

    • NSA Snooping Scandal: Ecuador Revokes Edward Snowden’s Travel Pass Because Assange is ‘Running the Show’

      Ecuador has cancelled whistleblower Edward Snowden’s travel pass, apparently due to concerns about the influence of Julian Assange.

    • Ecuadorean Disarray Clouds Snowden Bid
    • Senators Press Intelligence Chief To Release More Data On NSA Spying Programs
    • NSA director claims leaks damaged US security as Senators question legality of surveillance
    • 26 Senators vs. Secret National Security Law

      Dan Roberts scoops that 26 senators, led by Oregon’s Sen. Ron Wyden, have sent a formal letter to DNI James Clapper asking whether its spy programs “essentially relied for years on a secret body of law.”

    • Senators want public answers on NSA surveillance
    • The NSA vs. democracy

      By its very nature, covert intelligence work creates almost insoluble problems for a democracy.

      In a democracy, after all, power is exercised with the consent of the people. If the people don’t know about the powers being exercised, they can’t offer consent. But if they do know about the powers being exercised, those powers, almost by definition, are no longer covert.

      You see the problem.

    • NSA Surveillance Prompts Several Bills But Little Action In Congress

      In the three weeks since Edward Snowden revealed the National Security Agency’s widespread surveillance programs, the legislative response to his revelations on Capitol Hill has slowed to a glacial pace and public obsession has noticeably shifted from a debate on national security versus privacy to Snowden’s latest whereabouts.

    • In NSA surveillance debate, tech firms urge transparency

      Some of the Internet companies at the heart of the outcry over U.S. government surveillance today joined with human rights and press freedom groups, including CPJ, in calling for greater government disclosure of electronic communications monitoring.

    • How the NSA is still harvesting your online data

      Files show vast scale of current NSA metadata programs, with one stream alone celebrating ‘one trillion records processed’

    • Encryption practices vary widely in the cloud, survey finds

      A survey by Ponemon Institute of 4,205 business and IT managers around the world found that more than half now transfer sensitive or confidential data to the cloud, while taking various approaches to encrypting that data.

    • PRISM Parliamentary event packed out

      Around 70 people attended our PRISM and Tempora event in Parliament yesterday, hosted by Tom Watson MP. The speakers, Caspar Bowden, Simon McKay and David Davis MP, helped give context to some of the recent claims on surveillance made by the government.

    • Encryption Has Foiled Wiretaps for First Time Ever, Feds Say

      For the first time, encryption is thwarting government surveillance efforts through court-approved wiretaps, U.S. officials said today.

      The disclosure, buried in a report by the U.S. agency that oversees federal courts, also showed that authorities armed with wiretap orders are encountering more encryption than before.

      The revelation comes as encryption has come front and center in the wake of the NSA Spygate scandal, and as Americans consider looking for effective ways to scramble their communications from the government’s prying eyes.

    • Who authorised the NSA and GCHQ to spy on Germans?

      The US and Britain claim they have operated within the law. But they are not our laws and we shouldn’t be subject to them

    • NSA whisteblower Edward Snowden: Like living in a parallel universe – the weird world of the airport transit zone

      As Edward Snowden will have discovered by now, the airport transit lounge constitutes the most superficial travel experience on the planet.

    • Ex-Stasi boss green with envy over NSA’s domestic spy powers

      For Wolfgang Schmidt, who used to head East Germany’s feared spy service, the NSA’s reported spy program “would have been a dream come true.”

    • Former Stasi Officer: The NSA Domestic Surveillance Program Would Have Been ‘A Dream Come True’ For East Germany

      The National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance capabilities would have been “a dream come true” for East Germany, a former lieutenant colonel in the defunct communist country’s secret police told Matthew Schofield of McClatchy.

    • Memories of Stasi color Germans’ view of US surveillance programs

      Wolfgang Schmidt was seated in Berlin’s 1,200-foot-high TV tower, one of the few remaining landmarks left from the former East Germany, peering out over the city that lived in fear when the communist party ruled it, when he pondered the magnitude of domestic spying in the United States under the Obama administration. A smile spread across his face.

      “You know, for us, this would have been a dream come true,” he said, recalling the days when he was a lieutenant colonel in the defunct communist country’s secret police, the Stasi.

    • Growing Number Of Senators Demand Answers About NSA Surveillance
    • Epstein on NSA (Again) Part I: PRISM & the FISA Amendments Act

      I’m disappointed to see that renowned libertarian legal scholar Richard Epstein is persisting in his defense of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. This time, he co-authors with the American Enterprise Institute’s Mario Loyola in a Weekly Standard essay blasting the “Libertarians of LaMancha”—among whose ranks I have the dubious distinction of being named specifically. As with Epstein’s previous op-ed on this topic, which I responded to here, there are both factual mistakes and some broader conceptual problems. So many, alas, that to prevent this from becoming unwieldy, it’s better to divide my reply into two posts, each dealing with one of the NSA programs the authors discuss.

    • Director Imagines NSA, Edward Snowden Movie
  • DRM

  • Civil Rights

    • California man faces 13 years in jail for scribbling anti-bank messages in chalk

      Jeff Olson, the 40-year-old man who is being prosecuted for scrawling anti-megabank messages on sidewalks in water-soluble chalk last year now faces a 13-year jail sentence. A judge has barred his attorney from mentioning freedom of speech during trial.

      According to the San Diego Reader, which reported on Tuesday that a judge had opted to prevent Olson’s attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial,” Olson must now stand trial for on 13 counts of vandalism.

    • House Passes 2014 NDAA; NSA Surveillance Will Lead to Indefinite Detention

      A few of the amendments represent significant improvements to the NDAA of 2012 and 2013. The acts passed for those years infamously permitted the president to deploy U.S. military troops to apprehend and indefinitely detain any American he alone believed to be aiding enemies of the state.

    • Pennsylvania Bill Would Nullify NDAA “Indefinite Detention”

      The bill would prohibit state employees from cooperating with federal enforcement of sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA) that purport to allow arrest and detention without charge or trial on U.S. soil.

    • Indefinite Detention is Patently Unconstitutional.

      The Act authorized $662 billion in funding, “for defense of the United States and it’s interests abroad.” Central to Hedges’ suit, a controversial provision set forth in subsection 1021 of Title X, Sub-title (d) entitled “Counter-Terrorism,” authorizing indefinite military detention of individuals the government suspects are involved in terrorism, including U.S. citizens arrested on American soil.

    • The Senate Armed Services Committee’s GTMO Transfer Provisions in the 2014 NDAA

      The SASC, by contrast, has altered the transfer provisions to make them less stringent, requiring the SecDef’s decision on whether to certify a transfer to be based on the Period Review Board’s findings that the detainee is no longer a threat to national security. The Senate bill would also allow transfers required to effectuate a court order and transfers where the detainee has been tried in a court and either acquitted or convicted and completed his sentence. The Senate bill requires that the SecDef ensure that action has or will be taken to mitigate the recidivism risk for the detainee, as well as that he find that the transfer is in the national security interest. There would be congressional notification required, too: the SecDef must notify the committees with jurisdiction at least 30 days prior to the transfer or release.

    • California Action Alert: Pass AB351, Help Stop “Indefinite Detention”

      Tim Donnelly’s AB351, a bill which starts the process of stopping “Indefinite Detention” under the NDAA and other so-called federal “laws,” has passed the State Assembly and is up for an important State Senate committee hearing and vote on June 25th. Your action is needed right now to help this bill move forward!

    • Alaska Becomes Second State to Pass Nullification of Indefinite Detention

      Last Friday, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell signed a sweeping nullification bill providing broad protections against indefinite detention, violations of the Second Amendment and blocking implementation of a federal identification program in The Last Frontier.

    • The march of protest

      A FAMILIAR face appeared in many of the protests taking place in scores of cities on three continents this week: a Guy Fawkes mask with a roguish smile and a pencil-thin moustache. The mask belongs to “V”, a character in a graphic novel from the 1980s who became the symbol for a group of computer hackers called Anonymous. His contempt for government resonates with people all over the world.

    • Egyptian troops move to bases near cities ahead of protests

      Troop reinforcements and armour have been brought to army bases near cities ahead of protests this weekend aimed at forcing the Islamist president out, security officials have said.

      Clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi erupted, killing at least one person in the coastal city of Mansoura.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Generic drug makers can’t be sued if they have FDA approval

      The Supreme Court ruled last Monday that Generic drug makers can’t be sued for defective designs when their previously FDA-approved products cause injuries link here. That might appear to be a questionable decision. But it is also a victory for competition and lower prices in a product line that raises already high medical care costs.

    • Welcome to another blogger questioning intellectual property law

      Felix Salmon has an engaging blog on how the world benefits from Chinese piracy link here. His argument is simple; we benefit from cheap imports that seem to be copies (good or not so good but serving the same purpose) of something we also make. The article takes off from a Foreign Affairs piece, entitled Fake It Til You Make It link here whose argument is that we all benefit. We get cheap imports and cheaper domestic manufactures, they get cheap goods and the foreign exchange to buy competitive imports. And the competition forces the pace of innovation both at home and abroad, a process that seems to have slowed.

    • Copyrights

Corporate Debates About Patent Trolls Versus Debates About Patents (or Software Patents in Isolation)

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 5:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The issues most often overlooked by American corporate media

OpenSecrets slide
Image from OpenSecrets

Summary: A roundup of coverage about the menace which is patent litigation and the different angles chosen for tackling it

There is a perpetual disconnect and a considerable difference between what people want and what large corporations, which virtually if not practically control the US government, actually want. The large corporations want to see small companies/firms crushed, whereas the public in general wants to reduce spurious added costs, incurred by litigation and cross-licensing (shrewdly-disguised price-fixing by large corporations). The patent lawyers at some firm called “Armstrong Teasdale LLP” join the club of whiners over PTAB [1, 2]. They need to accept the rulings which crush software patents in the US, but they are in denial. Generally speaking, patents do not necessarily benefit the US, unless one considers in isolation smaller compartments of US commerce (patent lawyers or CEOs of large corporations). As a new paper’s abstract puts it:

We use a detailed data set to estimate the costs and benefits of United States patents. To estimate costs, we combine data from Derwent Litalert with a proprietary dataset of non-practicing entity (NPE) lawsuits collected by Patent Freedom, and use an event study approach to estimate losses suffered by alleged infringers during 1984-2009. To estimate benefits, we combine patent data from the USPTO and EPO with financial data from CRSP and COMPUSTAT, and use market-value regressions to estimate the value of patent rents for publicly-traded US firms during 1979-2002. We find that costs exceed benefits overall and that the gap between costs and benefits has grown across time. Surges in the number of NPE lawsuits, lawsuits filed over Computers/Communications patents, and lawsuits brought against non-manufacturing, software and telecommunications firms contribute to the increase in the gap. Growth in costs outstrips growth in lawsuits, in part, because events in these fast-growing categories have higher-than-
average per-event dollar costs.

There are leeches or non-producing players, which hurt customers a lot. According to this article, the “[p]olicy under President Obama is moving against aggressive assertion of software patents, posing significant long-term risk to the profitability of entertainment technology patent holder Rovi (ROVI).”

Whatever destroys trolls is good for the economy — that is — the collective economy which includes customers. Profit for businesses is the wrong yardstick to use if the businesses are ones of extortion, such as Intellectual Ventures. As Troll Tracker put it: “What’s going on is, as the issue of patent trolling attracts more and more attention in the mainstream media, the message is getting diluted and the waters are getting muddied.” There is also this observation about Lodsys:

Intellectual Ventures (Might Be) Tied To Lodsys: Wait, What?

[...]

It’s a proxy fight, and if Lodsys is successful in getting Mhyrvold to testify, something to that effect will surely come out. No wonder he’s fighting it so hard, he’s trying to avoid exposure. Trolls? This is what happens when you garner FTC attention.

We covered this earlier this week. We also covered the issue in prior years. Lodsys had received patents from Intellectual Ventures, which we know to be using about 2,000 pseudo-companies as litigation proxies. This is a pyramid scheme and part of an extortion racket, wrapped in a riddle and a whole legion of lobbyists.

“Lodsys had received patents from Intellectual Ventures, which we know to be using about 2,000 pseudo-companies as litigation proxies.”Mark Bohannon, the Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Global Public Policy at Red Hat (in other words, a chief lobbyist), ought the know the pain caused by trolls like Acacia (it got money from Red Hat several times). Bohannon says that the “House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and a wide variety of witnesses highlighted the PAE problem in hearings last winter. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy is working with Chairman Goodlatte and committed to working in a bicameral and bipartisan way to counter what they term ‘patent trolling,’ which “casts a pall on the system because it hinders innovation.””

He also says: “A number of key issues “left on the cutting room floor” during consideration of the AIA—including the current unreliable, uncertain, and speculative method of calculating damages, correcting the standard for finding willful infringement, and venue—remain important elements of our broken patent system that play to the hands of PAEs and encourage abusive patent litigation.

“While action in these areas remains important, they are absent from the current legislative agenda. Given the widening attacks by PAEs, it is essential that Congress work to produce meaningful legislation on at least the issues identified above in order to begin to stem the tide.

“With many of the key players in Congress—joined by the Executive Branch—rowing in the same direction, let’s look for an updated draft of the House Judiciary bill that enhances its ‘first step’ proposal. And the Senate Judiciary Committee is well positioned to put forward a robust measure that builds on (and incorporates) the bills introduced by Senators Cornyn and Schumer.”

“Get rid of the patents to resolve the issue.”The problem is, the White House is still tackling the symptom, not the disease [1, 2, 3, 4]. Those bills are hardly the solution, they tackle a symptom really, one among several symptoms which they mostly fail to address. Todd Bishop, a Microsoft booster, shows Google acquiring more privacy-infringing ideas, which is a problem in itself.

MariaDB, which recently joined OIN and OSI, will remain vulnerable to trolls and as the Oracle case against Google taught us, OIN membership is not enough to dodge litigation from giants, either. Get rid of the patents to resolve the issue. The large corporations are definitely part of the problem, but the White House is literally funded by many of those companies, so don’t expect reform in that domain. Expect the White House to go after smaller players, those that opportunistically sue many large companies. This one new example says that “ArrivalStar sued more than 200 companies and cities over bus-tracking patents.” Patent trolls like ArrivalStar are a problem, but they are not the only problem and when one looks at the actual patent, then it becomes clear that patent scope is the issue, not the plaintiff per se. As we saw many times before (e.g. Oracle, Apple, Microsoft), large corporations use equally ridiculous patents to extort other companies. According to this post, a troll we wrote about before is still busy in Texas, suing large corporations’ clients, so those large corporations get involved:

Earlier this week, we provided an update on the multitude of WiFi-related infringement lawsuits brought by non-practicing entity Innovative Wireless Solutions LLC against various hotels and restaurants in Texas, noting that IWS had dismissed these suits (albeit without prejudice). We had discussed that this was a decidedly “un-Innovatio-like” turn in the cases — but yesterday brought a development that makes this series of disputes much more like the ones in the Northern District of Illinois involving Innovatio: Cisco Systems Inc., a supplier of WiFi equipment for many of the hotels accused of infringement, got involved. And Just like it did with Innovatio, Cisco here filed a declaratory judgment action against IWS, seeking declarations of invalidity and non-infringement as to IWS’s three asserted patents.

It is not easy to kill patent trolls, as Gene Quinn’s recent piece indicates. Trolls cannot be sued, so it takes collective effort. The chairwoman of the FTC speaks about predatory tactics of patent trolls. To quote: “At an event co-sponsored by CCIA, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez announced that she would be asking the Commission to institute a Section 6(b) investigation of the patent troll business model. Senator Leahy also sent Chairwoman Ramirez a letter today, encouraging the FTC use its powers “to prevent unfair and deceptive trade practices in patent infringement allegations.”

“It is those large corporations which probably do far more damage than the trolls and the remedy lies within patent scope.”Edith Ramirez should ask her colleagues to look at patent scope rather than the nature of firms that sue large corporations. It is those large corporations which probably do far more damage than the trolls and the remedy lies within patent scope. Don’t expect any real reform in a nation where large corporations have politicians and government agencies in their pockets. Both political parties (including members of Congress) are controlled and bankrolled by the same large corporations, some more than the other. Always ask yourself when the White House debates trolls or some Congressperson brings up the subject, who are those people funded by? Also, notice who is backing all these pushes against trolls in the corporate sector. As always, money makes the world go round and large corporations are still writing everyone’s policies. The public deserves better than that. The corporations-controlled and corporations-run USPTO will continue to grant more patents than ever before (i.e. more profit), it’s just that those capitalising on those patents (monopolies) will be fewer and larger. Those patents are not there to encourage innovation, they are there to justify increases in prices, eternally-forbidding commoditisation, e.g. generics in medicine.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Ought to Refocus on Crushing Software Patents, Not Patent Trolls or “Stupid Patents”

Posted in EFF, Europe, Law, Patents at 4:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Julie Samuels
Image extracted from this video

Summary: Why the EFF should focus on eliminating software patents (like in Germany) and not just patent trolls or what it vaguely calls or alludes to as “stupid patents”

LEGAL SITE Groklaw shares this satirical video about patent trolls. It helps capture some of the patterns often observed when it comes to trolls’ attacks on practising companies, even if it’s a little Godwin Law-invoking.

The reality of the matter is, Germany is fighting to block all software patents. The EFF touches on “German Parliament Says No More Software Patents” — a subject we covered here before [1, 2, 3]. It says that the “German Parliament recently took a huge step that would eliminate software patents (PDF) when it issued a joint motion requiring the German government to ensure that computer programs are only covered by copyright. Put differently, in Germany, software cannot be patented.”

“The reality of the matter is, Germany is fighting to block all software patents.”There is a new article titled “EU banks face less threat of infringing software patents than those in US, says expert” and it helps show how the core problem is addressed. In Europe, patent trolls are barely existent. To quote the article, “EU banks are less likely to infringe software patents than their counterparts in the US but should still evaluate whether to undertake a freedom to operate (FTO) analysis before launching new products or services to the market, an expert has said.”

Everyone benefits from that.

At the same time, another part of the EFF is going after patents one at a time rather than work to eliminate software patents as a whole. Very ambivalent over there. It is Julie Samuels again (part of a long-observed pattern [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]) and she says:

Working together we can protect the mesh networking community from overbroad, illegitimate patents that threaten to stifle innovation and access to technologies that preserve personal freedoms.

Here is another new example of her focusing on trolls and not on software patents, as Mr. Cuban (her funder) said he would do.

How about just working to end all software patents? What is happening at the EFF? There is another person there, another lawyer (Mr. Nazer [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]), who seems to be leading the EFF off focus. Well, lawyers being lawyers, they approach this subject from a point of view where patents are taken for granted. Just watch this latest article from Colleen Chien, which is posted in Wired (almost all the articles on patents there are written by lawyers).

“That’s the difference between organisations such as the EFF and organisations like FFII. The latter is run and managed by technical people.”This is not the first time that we point out and gently chastise EFF action for not being strong enough. The EFF ran a Web site to call for the end of software patents, but ever since it grabbed all the attention we see EFF staff actually working along the lines of the OIN, more or less. Well, just take a look at what Samuels is said to be: “Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents” (like the term “bad” patents).

To quote the professional summary, “Julie Samuels, a Staff Attorney and the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents at EFF, focuses on intellectual property issues. Before joining EFF, Julie litigated IP and entertainment cases in Chicago at Loeb & Loeb and Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Julie spent time as a legislative assistant at the Media Coalition in New York and as an assistant editor at the National Journal Group in D.C. She was also an intern at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Julie earned her J.D. from Vanderbilt University and her B.S. in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.”

So she is a patent/copyright lawyer, not a technical professional to whom patents are potentially assigned, or to whom patents are a threat. That’s the difference between organisations such as the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation and European organisations like FFII. The latter is run and managed by technical people.

As a big supporter of the EFF, yours truly worries that there there is an internal battle between those in the EFF who genuinely want to see software patents eliminated and those who get tugged along with contra-reformists, notably lawyers. Other European activists have spotted the same pattern and became outspoken about it. If we don’t name the culprits, nothing will be done to overcome this impasse.

Apple and Microsoft FRAND Battles Against Google’s Android Revisited, Apple’s Patent Chief is Out Amid Blowback

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents, RAND at 4:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft and Apple trademarks

Summary: A little update on Apple’s and Microsoft’s patent battles against Android/Linux

Google bought a part of Motorola, essentially inheriting some lawsuits over the future of Android when it comes to patents. This means that Google now has this dispute with Microsoft and another one with Apple. “It’s been relatively quiet in the Western District of Washington over the past couple weeks,” say the FRAND boosters, “as Motorola and Microsoft move forward toward an August jury trial on Microsoft’s RAND-based breach of contract claims.”

“Apple tried embargoing Android products, instead ending up with its own products embargoed.”FRAND has become a joint Microsoft-Apple strategy for taxing Android. Apple is still suing, publicly escorted by Microsoft for support. Now it turns out that Apple’s patent chief is leaving and he may have been the person behind this whole litigation strategy. Apple was previously dealing with patents on a defensive basis, but in 2009 it turned offensive, starting with threats against Palm [1, 2, 3]. The following year it started suing. Here is a case of Apple being sued. In this case, the US “Supreme Court declines to hear Mirror Worlds’ appeal, putting to rest the long-running patent infringement case.”

More interestingly, when it comes to Apple as the aggressor, it turns out its patent chief played a major role. The aforementioned article says that he “played an increasingly high-profile role at Apple in recent years as lawsuits began to mount. Last year, he testified on Apple’s behalf in its patent infringement litigation with Samsung.”

It also says that “he warned late Apple CEO Steve Jobs and then-COO Tim Cook in 2010 that Samsung’s smartphones may infringe on the iPhone’s patents.”

According to this article about the judge in this high-profile case, there is something to be learned from public debates:

Want to know what U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh really thinks about patent litigation?

Companies demand too many do-overs; the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office behaves like no other federal agency; and the recent suggestion in a New York Times op-ed that lower court judges have the power to make so-called patent trolls pay for vexatious litigation is unfair and misleading.

Judge Posner weighed in on this [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] as he dismissed Apple’s claims, denying the embargo strategy that Apple had conceived. Watch Apple scrambling to undo what the ITC embargo against Apple would cause. As Groklaw puts it, “the ITC early in June ordered an injunction and a cease and desist order against some of Apple’s products, on a complaint from Samsung that Apple was refusing to pay anything at all for a FRAND patent of Samsung’s. The shock waves from that were heard throughout the patent universe. And now Apple is trying to block it from happening. Both Apple and Samsung have filed written submissions with the USTR, as The Essential Patent Blog reports. The President of the United States can undo that ITC injunction order based on the public interest, and Apple is asking the Office of the United States Trade Representative, as the President’s representative in such matters, to do exactly that…”

“With Apple’s patent chief out of the company, perhaps a rethink of this misguided litigation strategy is imminent.”This is funny. Apple tried embargoing Android products, instead ending up with its own products embargoed. Instant karma! And watch Apple’s workers in China “looking to reduce reliance on Apple” (but “diversifying into R&D, software patents and e-commerce”). According to this, people who actually manufacture Apple-branded devices are seeing a dip in demand for Apple, an overrated and overpriced brand. Linux/Android is the cause, hence all those patent lawsuits. With Apple’s patent chief out of the company, perhaps a rethink of this misguided litigation strategy is imminent. One can hope so.

Extortion Using Patents Increasingly Recognised as an Issue, Even by the FTC and SCOTUS

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft, Patents at 4:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gavel in silk

Summary: The Supreme Court, unlike CAFC, gives new hope that Microsoft’s racketeering tactics will be dealt with as an antitrust matter

The CAFC may be very misguided on the issue of software patents (for which it is responsible in the first place) and this concurs with the trend we always see, having just seen the CAFC legitimising software patents again (specifically the ultramercial patent [1, 2, 3, 4]), striking a blow to the SCOTUS.

“The SCOTUS will give consideration to the notion of extortion with patents and avoidance of testing a patent’s validity.”Judge Rader, one who often defends software patenting and redefines “patent troll”, is being named in a post which says: “The majority opinion, written by Judge Rader, initially noted that it should be “rare” to dismiss a patent case at the pleading stage based on patent eligibility given the many factual issues that such an invalidity defense entails. The majority then reviewed patent eligibility jurisprudence, concluding that Section 101 defined broad categories of patent subject matter, that the definition of “process” itself was intended to be broad, and that judicially-created exceptions (laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas) must be narrowly applied. The majority further stated that patent ineligibility must be proven under the high clear and convincing evidence standard.”

Another article about it says: “The Electronic Frontier Foundation started fighting against the Ultramercial patent in 2011, filing a brief with the appeals court stating that “[m]erely filing a patent application covering an idea that takes place on the Internet (especially without explaining any of the programming steps) does not somehow make an abstract idea (which is unpatentable) somehow not abstract (so it is patentable).”

“Microsoft, for instance, seemingly bribed B&N to avoid challenging of its patents).”“In its reaction to the ruling Friday, the EFF said, “It’s time for the Supreme Court to step in and tell the Federal Circuit once and for all that abstract ideas—such as a process for viewing ads before accessing copyrighted content—are unpatentable.””

The SCOTUS will give consideration to the notion of extortion with patents and avoidance of testing a patent’s validity. Microsoft, for instance, seemingly bribed B&N to avoid challenging of its patents). Will Hill shows B&N collapsing as he adds:

B&N is losing hundreds of millions of dollars after making a deal to settle Microsoft’s software patent extortion. So much for Nook, a tablet that showed a lot of promise.

“In a 5-3 Decision authored by Justice Breyer, the US Supreme Court has held that a rule-of-reason analysis applies to determine whether a reverse-payment patent settlement violates federal antitrust laws,” says the aforementioned article. “The FTC had asked the court to go further and rule that reverse payments are presumptively unlawful. A major factual question going forward in patent-settlement antitrust cases will be whether the patentee settled its lawsuit in order to avoid testing a patent’s weakness. Without additional pro-competitive benefits, such a settlement can be deemed anticompetitive under a rule-of-reason.”

This is good. We shall be haring more about it for sure.

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