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11.07.13

The Latest NSA Ugliness: Skype Gets Worse, Snowden Speaks to Germany, New Zealand Becomes NSA’s Little Brother, and ‘Paedophilia’ Used to Defend the NSA

Posted in Microsoft at 7:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Big Brother gets even more aggressive amid the departure of Snooper in Chief

Keith B. Alexander

Summary: The Mafia of Keith B. Alexander (outgoing NSA head) is facing more public shaming as surveillance grows and the public pushes back

THE NSA, the criminal and murderous organisation which we are supposed to think of as “against terrorism” when it’s actually about espionage, finance, and imperial militarism, can’t get a break. It’s probably one of the most appalling monsters to have silently developed behind closed doors for several decades, enjoying journalists’ inability to cover the simple facts (newspapers would not publish these). Here are some of the latest tidbits which people ought to be aware of.

Pro-privacy groups like Big Brother Watch warn us that even the elderly may soon be under constant (24/7) surveillance at home ‘for their own protection’ [1], showing that there’s no limit to how far Big Brother goes [2]. Anyone up for Xbox One/Kinect now? In a sense, Facebook already acts like in-house surveillance (photos, videos, geo-tagging, face recognition, inter-person connections), but apparently that’s not enough. If we don’t submit to the equivalent of full rectal examination, the “terrorists” will win!!!

Microsoft will soon be making it possible only for the NSA et al. to record people’s video and audio chats in Skype (inside their homes) [3], showing again what type of monster Skype has become since it left Europe (through a rather worried Luxembourg). The only thing worse than Skype surveillance in one’s own home would be a wireless-accessible chip implant in every person, or a microphone in every ear, not just every phone (which has back doors for authorities to eavesdrop through).

In a sort of ironic turn of events, Snowden now turns his attention to Germany (made infamous for what the Nazis did) [4,5], perhaps hoping — like Tor developer and Wikileaks activist Jacob Appelbaum — that Germany would grant him asylum after his one-year asylum in Russia expires. Despite the fact that Snowden’s actions have helped the US by reforming unconstitutional laws and practices [6], the US still treats him like a criminal and abuses anyone who ‘dares’ to respect his freedom of speech. Here in Techrights we generally regret to see that the US has become similar to the USSR when it comes to its attitude towards journalism. Techrights will soon move off WordPress because of back doors which are now being acknowledged elsewhere [7] and it will continue to cover matters of privacy more than ever before. If the US government wants privacy crushed, then we should fight with a strong passion for privacy and against those who oppose it. It turns out that former British colonies, like Britain itself, are still going along with the NSA/USA. In New Zealand, for example, people in power are legalising what they did (for Hollywood/NSA/USA) which was illegal [8]. They simply show their total disregard for the law and not just for human dignity. Here in the UK, the government is attacking the messenger (Greenwald or Snowden) by associating him with paedophilia [9]. Old tactics. As for Lavabit’s Dark Mail, which seeks support from the public [10], Ars Technica helps the NSA by attacking the messenger (Ladar Levison) [11]. This wouldn’t be the first time Ars Technica does this. It also attacked Snowden by digging up irrelevant dirt about him from the past; completely off-topic ad hominem that was (we would rather not link to that). And watch the hypocrites from Google berating the NSA [12]. Well, nobody forces them to work with Google, just as nobody is born a Microsoft employee. If they are against the NSA, then they can quit their job and stop helping the NSA. All of us are consciously obliged to weaken those who abuse power or help those who abuse power.

One thing is clear now. The NSA views the population as the enemy. We, in turn, must view the NSA as the enemy.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. CQC asks whether CCTV should be used in care homes

    The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has announced plans to install hidden cameras and ‘mystery shoppers’ in care homes in a bid to increase the regulations of social care. Care homes and social care premises are home for some of society’s most vulnerable people. To subject them to covert surveillance where there is not reasonable cause for suspicion would be both an attack on their privacy and dignity.

  2. Ideas to start the debate and reform surveillance

    Yesterday you said that you would be happy to listen to ideas to improve the oversight and operation of safeguards concerning our intelligence agencies.

  3. Microsoft kills Skype third-party tools for the desktop

    Skype has confirmed it’s shutting down all third-party access to its desktop API at the end of the year

  4. Edward Snowdens letter to German government/Authorities
  5. US officials say forget about clemency for Snowden

    But Snowden tells Der Spiegel he’s justified due to the call for reform he sparked.

  6. Three Leaks, Three Weeks, and What We’ve Learned About the US Government’s Other Spying Authority: Executive Order 12333

    A Washington Post article reveals that the National Security Agency has been siphoning off data from the links between Yahoo and Google data centers, which include the fiber optic connections between company servers at various points around the world. While the user may have an encrypted connection to the website, the internal data flows were not encrypted and allowed the NSA to obtain millions of records each month, including both metadata and content like audio, video and text. This is not part of the PRISM collection under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act or the business records program under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, but a separate program called MUSCULAR under what appears to be Executive Order 12333 (“12333″).1

  7. WordPress Becomes Big Brother & More…

    The latest and greatest version of WordPress has been released, a major point upgrade, and within days after that a security/bugfix followed, bringing the version number up to 3.7.1. The most interesting thing with this release is that it autoupdates everything without requiring any prompting from the site administrator. If there’s a new version of a plugin available, WordPress updates it silently in the background. Ditto if a new minor or security release of WordPress itself is released.

    [...]

    In our opinion, this is not good as it takes control away from the user, especially users with limited technical skills. We’d have no problem whatsoever with this feature if it could easily be disabled through the interface. Unfortunately, the folks at WordPress don’t want to trust their users with this ability.

  8. New Zealand Approves New Law Granting NSA-Like Capability To Intel Agency

    The New Zealand parliament on Tuesday narrowly approved a new series of measures designed to provide their version of the National Security Agency greater access to the country’s telecommunications companies’ data.

  9. Edward Snowden leaks could help paedophiles escape police, says government
  10. Lavabit’s Dark Mail Initiative
  11. Op-ed: Lavabit’s primary security claim wasn’t actually true

    Ladar Levison stood up for users’ privacy—but perhaps a little too late.

  12. Google engineers: Fuck you NSA

    If Snowden revelations are ‘assisting’ companies like Google and countries like Germany, should not these companies and countries defend Snowden?

GNU Compiler Collection Approaching Version 5

Posted in GNU/Linux at 7:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Richard Stallman

Summary: The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) helps show us just how much of an impact GNU has had not just on the development community but also society as a whole

If it weren’t for GCC, Linux would need proprietary compilers to be executable. Always remember that when the Linux Foundation downplays GNU. GCC 4.9 is just months away [1], challenged only by projects like LLVM (the BSD-leaning camp). It is not yet clear when version 5 of GCC will be out, but it is not far over the horizon and it promises plenty of freedom-respecting conversions from human-readable code to machine-readable code. Without GCC, the likes of the NSA would find it easier to put back doors in software as part of the compilation process (we already have evidence showing that the NSA infiltrated and subverted standards for this purpose). GCC is an enormously important project, perhaps more than Linux (depending to whom). I first used GCC when I was 18 (it used to be known as the GNU C Compiler), having used Pascal for the most part before that (it was a common teaching tool at the time). GCC has since then become the Swiss army knife of millions of developers (the same goes for projects like GNU Awk [3]) all around the world and companies like Intel just had to pour code into it, trying to stay relevant in the hardware market.

Imagine a world without GCC. Or never mind; such a world never came to exist, so we cannot truly imagine it. With microcode and firmware we can easily see that those in power are determined to abuse it, but it’s software freedom that keeps standing in their way.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. GCC 4.9 Will Make Compilers More Exciting In 2014

    GCC 4.9 will likely not be released until later in H1’2014, but already a lot of compiler changes have been queued up to make this next major release of the GNU Compiler Collection exciting for developers and also benefiting users of the generated binaries.

  2. Features Coming For The LLVM 3.4 Compiler Stack

    Having yesterday covered the features so far of GCC 4.9, here’s a look at the features baking for LLVM 3.4 — the next major compiler infrastructure update due out likely around the end of the year.

  3. GNU Awk 4.1: Teaching an Old Bird Some New Tricks, Part II

FreeBSD Turns 20

Posted in Apple, BSD at 6:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FreeBSD

Summary: A leading force in the BSD world, FreeBSD, is celebrating an important anniversary

“FreeBSD was released 1 Nov, 20 years ago,” writes iophk, “if Wikipedia is accurate.”

Here in Techrights we generally support FreeBSD, whose 10th version (as in 10.0) is almost ready [1]. Like PC-BSD 9.2, whose reviews are improving [2], FreeBSD is mature enough for people to use on the desktop (as colleagues of mine do). FreeBSD contributed towards creation of proprietary operating systems like Mac OS X, which misuse the word “free” to simply mean gratis (no cost, except the hardware that’s tied to it [3]). Therein lies some common opposition to the BSD licence, which is liberal to the extent that it allows companies to remove the liberty of downstream users.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. FreeBSD 10.0 Beta 3 Released

    The latest beta release of FreeBSD 10.0 is now available for testing.

    FreeBSD 10.0 Beta 3 features many bug-fixes, a POWER hypervisor interpartition ethernet driver, an Altera Triple Speed Ethernet MegaCore driver, a “pkg bootstrap” command, and numerous other system-level changes.

  2. PC-BSD 9.2: The daemon is in the details

    As to running PC-BSD, my experience had me constantly swinging back and forth between two thoughts: “Wow, this is a great feature, I wish more projects did this!” and “Drat, another bug, this is frustrating!” There was not a lot of middle ground between these two thoughts while running PC-BSD. It seems as though the developers tried to supply several new features for this release, all of them good ideas, but some of the implementations still have problems. Let’s start with the system installer. This is a fine piece of software. I really like that the installer can detect our hardware and warn us if some hardware support is missing. I also like the various guided disk partitioning options and the optional package selection screen. Both of these features were well implemented and I had no issues at all with the installer.

  3. Operating systems want to be free

    Two of the three major desktop operating systems are now free. And it’s likely to be a trend

Embedded/Devices Linux News for October-November 2013

Posted in News Roundup at 6:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • Qseven COM runs Linux on AMD G-Series SoC

    Hectronic will soon begin sampling a Linux-compatible Qseven computer-on-module based on AMD’s dual-core, 1GHz G-Series SoC. Claimed as the first Qseven COM to use the new AMD SoC, the H6069 is equipped with 2GB of soldered DDR3 RAM and an optional 32GB SSD, and features dual display support, 12 Watt power consumption, and optional industrial temperature range operation.

  • Setting up a Raspberry Pi as a home server
  • ARM/FPGA hybrid SoC taps Cortex-A53, 14nm process
  • Your car is about to go open source

    Automakers want to standardize on a Linux-based OS that would make vehicle infotainment systems act more like smartphones

  • Automotive-oriented hypervisor taps ARM TrustZone
  • AMD Gizmo SBC gains open source bootloader

    Sage Electronic Engineering, has released a free board support package for AMD’s community-backed Gizmo SBC equipped with the open source, Coreboot-based SageBIOS bootloader. SageBIOS BSP for Gizmo further supports the $189, G-Series-based Gizmo board with “free payloads and drivers to enable peripherals,” says the company.

  • Qt embedded GUI supports Android and Linux

    Digia announced an Android and Linux-targeted embedded version of its cross-platform Qt GUI framework called Qt Enterprise Embedded that combines a Qt Creator based IDE with a new embedded Boot to Qt stack. The Digia-backed Qt project also released the beta of Qt 5.2 with a new Scene Graphic renderer and the first production-ready support for Android and iOS.

  • Wind River Linux adds 64-bit ARM, adopts Yocto 1.5

    Wind River announced Wind River Linux 6, featuring Yocto Project 1.5 Linux kernel and toolchain, and expanded multi-architecture hardware support including 64-bit ARMv8. Wind River also announced a faster new Yocto-compatible version of its carrier-grade Wind River Open Virtualization software.

  • Yocto Project Adds Mac and Windows Cross-Compiler for Intel’s Linux-Based Galileo Board

    But the less obvious engineering feat was achieving cross compatibility between the board’s custom Linux OS and Arduino’s application development software necessary to port C code to the device from Windows and Mac, as well as Linux.

  • 3 Embedded Linux Projects Built With the Yocto Project

    In August Intel launched the Yocto Project Innovation Challenge to help showcase developers who are building – or simply imagining — Yocto-based embedded Linux applications and devices.

  • Multi-core MIPS SoCs add Linux support

    Wind River announced Wind River Linux support for Cavium’s newly shipping Octeon III system-on-chips. Aimed at high-end networking applications, the 28nm-fabricated Octeon III SoCs offer as many as 48 MIPS64 cores clocked up to 2.5GHz, support MIPSr5 architecture features like hardware virtualization, and integrate accelerators for deep packet inspection (DPI), packet processing, security, search, and QoS.

  • Trio of Bay Trail-I boards includes Nano-ITX SBC

    Portwell announced a computer-on-module along with a pair of single-board computers built around Intel’s new embedded-specific Atom E3800 (Bay Trail-I) system-on-chips. The three Linux-friendly boards include a Type 6 COM Express Compact COM, a Mini-ITX style embedded motherboard, and an SBC implemented in the rarely seen Nano-ITX form factor.

  • How to attend a robotics show robotically

    Suitable Technologies is offering $50 rentals of its “Beam” mobile telepresence robot, so 50 robotics enthusiasts can remotely attend the RoboBusiness conference in Santa Clara, Calif. on Oct. 23-25. The Ubuntu- and ROS-based Beam will be available to the first 50 applicants, letting them explore the show at up to 1.5 meters/sec and interact with others via video conferencing.

  • Tiny SBC runs Linux on 2GHz TI OMAP SoC

    ISEE announced a highly compact single board computer powered by a 2GHz dual-core Cortex-A15 based Texas Instruments OMAP5432 system-on-chip. The IGEPv5 SBC ships with a Yocto-built Linux stack, but also supports Android, and is packed with I/O including five USB ports, mSATA, microSD, HDMI, DisplayPort, audio in/out, gigabit Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth wireless, and more.

  • PicUntu 4.5 installer loads Ubuntu onto Rockchip RK3188 devices
  • 3 Embedded Linux Projects Built With the Yocto Project

    In August Intel launched the Yocto Project Innovation Challenge to help showcase developers who are building – or simply imagining — Yocto-based embedded Linux applications and devices.

UNIX and GNU/Linux: The More, The Merrier

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, KDE at 6:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Why in the world of GNU/Linux and UNIX/BSD, having more diversity is a good thing, not a thing to be feared and rejected

IT HAS long been recognised that cooperation combined with some competition leads to faster development and elimination of weaker concepts/implementations. We see a lot of this in the aviation and automobile industries. Many planes and cars use components from the same suppliers, but they still integrate uniquely in order to compete. Their improvements and integration work set them apart. The Linux Foundation, a unifying force in the world of Linux (kernel) development, says that “Competition Among Open Source Projects Delivers Better Technology Faster” [1]. Remember there even within Linux (and UNIX) there is a lot of competition, e.g. between file systems. There are pros and cons to each candidate and weaker ones cease to be developed.

What people call “Linux” is much more than a kernel; in a practical sense they often refer to Linux/X/GNU/KDE/Mozilla or something along those lines. The abbreviation “Linux” for what would better be described as the Free/libre operating system (not necessarily just GPL-licensed and not necessarily desktops) is so deeply rooted in society that it would be virtually impossible to change now, but let’s look at the desktop layer for a moment, taking into account recent news.

“It is disheartening to see a lot of anger directed at those who conceptualise and then implement their own alternatives which they deem technically better.”GVFS, which causes me much trouble at work, has a new release available for testing [2] and the same goes for GNOME Notes [3]. Cinnamon [4] and Wayland [5] help show that Shell and X are no longer the only game in GNOME town, demonstrating diversity in other layers of the stack too (GNOME does not necessarily run on GNU/Linux, either). GNOME is probably the most widely used Free/livre desktop environment, but over time it becomes easy to see that it branches off in many directions.

When it comes to KDE, which has a lot of power [6] and is actively developed by a very large group [7,8], the same is true. KDE can run on almost any operating system, with varying degrees of compatibility and integration. It’s not just for desktops, either. That’s why KDE was pretty much renamed/rebranded a “Software Compilation” a few years ago. My wife uses KDE because KWin makes it easier to use and it is more visually pleasing. But it’s not for everyone.

Let’s not forget others players like Xfce [9] (usually considered third in popularity) and of course the plethora of tools which make the command line so powerful [10,11,12,13]. On servers where performance comes first, command-line tools are a must.

When the “Free Desktop” expands to other form factors, supports more desktop/interface environments, initialisation systems, file systems, graphical servers etc. we should expect it to evolve faster, not more slowly. The development community grows when diversity increases. It is disheartening to see a lot of anger directed at those who conceptualise and then implement their own alternatives which they deem technically better. It’s not the spirit of GNU to just slag off those who come up with new solutions, seeking to replace — based on merit — what’s currently popular among users. It is okay to criticise those who try to leverage software patents to ban or tax their competitors (like Novell did with Microsoft), but to berate companies for doing GNU/Linux their own way (under copyleft) is worse than a waste of time; it’s very counter-productive and it distracts from the real threats.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Competition Among Open Source Projects Delivers Better Technology Faster

    Today we’re pleased to announce that The Linux Foundation will host the Open Virtualization Alliance (OVA), the organization dedicated to education and advocacy for KVM. KVM is growing in popularity among businesses and open source communities like OpenStack with a 50 percent increase in deployments this year, according to IDC. We will work with OVA to extend education and advocacy that supports and helps advance the important work of this developer community.

  2. GVFS 1.19.1 Is Now Available for Testing

    The first development version towards the GVFS 1.20 application for the GNOME 3.12 desktop environment was announced a few days ago, introducing various fixes and improvements.

  3. The First Development Release of GNOME Notes 3.12 Arrives

    The first development release towards GNOME Notes 3.12, a nice and simple application designed to create, view, and edit notes on the GNOME 3.12 desktop environment, has been announced on October 27, 2013.

  4. Cinnamon Desktop: Breaks with GNOME, finds beefed-up Nemo

    The Cinnamon Desktop project recently released version 2, a major overhaul of the desktop environment that’s best known as the default option for Linux Mint’s flagship release.

  5. Running The Latest GNOME Wayland Shell On Fedora 20

    With the Fedora 20 beta coming up I decided to see where the latest Fedora 20 packages are now at for their support of Wayland and the GNOME Shell Wayland session. In particular, looking at whether the session is still buggy and how the XWayland performance is for Linux gaming.

  6. How-to configure keyboard layouts in KDE 4 (video)
  7. KDE Commit-Digest for 13th October 2013
  8. KDE Commit-Digest for 20th October 2013
  9. I installed the Whisker Menu for Xfce

    I just read about the Whisker Menu for Xfce at OMG! Ubuntu and installed it on my system from the Fedora repositories.

    While I’m happy with my panel on the left and the traditional Xfce Application Finder, I thought the Whisker Menu would be worth a try.

  10. Special laptop keys with Linux

    Laptops often have special keystroke combinations for certain functions or commands

  11. Bloated Audio Players? No Thanks!

    The term lightweight is a label attached to computer software which is relatively simpler or faster than its counterparts. Feature bloat is endemic in software especially commercial software. Often, the easiest way to persuade users to upgrade to the latest version is to add new spangly features. This happens with open source software (to a lesser degree), and open source music software is not immune to feature bloat. Music players can often seem to be designed for everything except actually listening to music with tons of bloat that you do not actually need.

  12. In Depth Look at Linux’s Archiving and Compression Commands
  13. Linux rsync command with practical examples

How to Overcome Microsoft UEFI ‘Secure’ Boot Lock-in: Chuck the Physical Hard-Drive

Posted in Hardware, Microsoft at 5:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Another reason to boycott UEFI

UEFI logo with monopoly

Summary: More evidence of the evil nature of UEFI, which facilitates tying software to hardware, and even hard-drives (albeit indirectly)

Our contributor iophk has taken note of this interesting thread which helps demonstrate the demonic effects of UEFI, which is like the digital equivalent of GMO in food (which ought to be properly labelled and avoided).

“Here are some of the hoops one has to hop through to install on a Restricted Boot machine,” iophk wrote, noting: “I bet drive manufacturers are happy.” Well, definitely the environment would be upset. Here is the key part:

So simple solution, remove the HD that the laptop shipped with and throw it in a drawer to save. Put in a new 7200rpm drive and switch it over to legacy. Far better to spend the 100ish bucks on a HD then waste your time dealing with the UEFI crap.

Boycott UEFI. Send the UEFI Forum (which comes from an evil company) a strong message; they ought to know by now that letting our computers (motherboards even) be remotely controlled by criminal companies like Microsoft is simply not acceptable. It also potentially implicates the NSA.

The “Year of the Linux Desktop” Predicted in the Corporate Press

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 5:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNU and Linux (which already dominates by its inclusion in the core of Android) are rising

Linux kernel

Summary: GNU/Linux may become dominant on the desktop as early as next year, some pundits argue, citing the problems with Vista 8 and the end of Windows XP

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, a longtime critic of Microsoft, calls the bugfix release of Vista 8 “more Windows fail,” noting of course what we’ve stressed since last year. Microsoft made too radical a change to Windows, so due to retraining costs it might be worth for businesses to just make the migration to GNU/Linux, not ‘upgrade’ to Vista 8.x. To quote Vaughan-Nichols:

My assessment: Windows 8.1 doesn’t suck as much as Windows 8. If you felt, when using Windows 8, as if you were banging your head against a brick wall, Windows 8.1 might feel as if you’re banging it against a wooden wall. Much better, right? Of course, someday you might ask yourself why you need to bang your head against a wall at all.

Let’s start with Start. Yes, we’ve all heard that Microsoft is bringing the Start button back, responding to all those users shrieking about its disappearance. So that’s better, right? Not so much. All that the new Start button does is bring up the touchy-feely Metro — uh, I mean, Modern — no, wait, make that “Windows 8 Store apps” interface. Is it any wonder that Lenovo bundles the Pokki Start button and menu replacement software with its Windows 8.x machines?

About that interface name: Windows 8 Store apps. Really? Could it be any lamer? Tell me, is there any way Ballmer can be shoved out the door faster?

In the new article “Three signs you’re drinking the Microsoft Kool-Aid” some good points are being made, noting that a lot of people choose to use Windows (or tolerate it being preinstalled) for the wrong reasons. The problem, however, is that the article started with or focuses on the wrong battle — a battle of brands of proprietary software. It says “Mac users have long been criticized for drinking the proverbial Apple Kool-Aid, but as iOS and OS X market share continues climbing, and Microsoft continues hemorrhaging, now might be the time to ask whether you’re drinking the Microsoft Kool-Aid. Here are three sure signs you need to step back, take a deep breath, and re-examine marketplace realities.”

A much better article [1] notes that the “year of the Linux desktop” may be imminent because of the changes Microsoft makes to Windows. A couple of IDG articles [2,3] note that the end of support for XP can make a big difference and that “[f]or the Mac, like the PC, it’s all downhill from here” (“PC” as in Windows).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Linux Desktop In The Enterprise: Ubuntu Vs. Windows

    The “year of the Linux desktop” has been prophesied by Linux supporters almost every year for the last decade. This was once a lofty goal in the Microsoft-dominated enterprise, but times are changing. Linux has grown into a formidable competitor in the smartphone and cloud computing markets, which has caught Microsoft off guard. More importantly, Google, IBM, Red Hat, Facebook, and Netflix have made huge investments into Linux innovations.

  2. Should Linux be used to replace Windows XP on older hardware?

    Should Linux Replace Windows XP?
    Windows XP is headed for the scrap heap, should Linux be used to replace it on older computers? TechRepublic takes a look at this question, and comes away with a negative point of view.

  3. For the Mac, like the PC, it’s all downhill from here

More Lawsuits by Proxy From Microsoft Against Linux

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Patents at 5:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rockstar Consortium

Summary: The patent troll which Microsoft has created to attack Android/Linux is now doing the predictable and Microsoft (mis)uses legal instruments like DMCA as well

Microsoft is not a scapegoat. Microsoft is a criminal company thriving in bribes, sabotage, litigation, racketeering, etc. For anyone who thinks that Microsoft will die peacefully or has somehow become any more benign than before, there’s news to pay attention to. This post is just a quick summary of events which were mostly covered — fairly well in fact — by other sites.

Here is an accurate assessment of where Microsoft stands right now and what it is trying to do. As FOSS Force put it:

About a month ago we decided to speculate on where Microsoft would be five years down the road. Obviously, the company is in transition and is trying to reinvent itself fast. The traditional desktop market, where Windows dominates, isn’t going anywhere and reports of it’s demise are premature, but it is shrinking and becoming much less important, especially in consumer space.

Well, it oughtn’t neglect how Microsoft tried to reinvent itself as just a racketeering company, making money from other people’s work using patents. “Apple/Microsoft-backed Rockstar Consortium suing Samsung and Google over old Nortel patents Rockstar now owns,” says this article, noting that Nokia too has a role to play:

On the heels of the Apple/Microsoft-backed Rockstar Consortium suing Samsung and Google over old Nortel patents Rockstar now owns, Samsung is tying up patent negotiations on another front. Today Flinland’s Nokia announced that it has extended a patent license agreement with the Korean handset giant for another five years, and that the two had entered into binding arbitration to settle additional compensation related to this, expected to be concluded in 2015.

Microsoft staff that’s just “following orders” says that: “We will know that day has arrived when Microsoft quits threatening every open source project under the sun with patent litigation.”

Well, if he feels this way about Microsoft, then why does he work for Microsoft and help it infiltrate the FOSS community? As FOSS Force put it:

The legal papers were filed by Rockstar Consortium, a patent troll owned by Microsoft, Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, and Sony. They hold 6,000 plus patents purchased in an auction for $4.5 billion from bankrupt Canadian telecom Nortel. Google had been bidding against Rockstar for the same patents, but dropped out after placing a $4.4 billion bid that didn’t hold up. Not long afterwards, Google bought Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, in large part for its vast patent portfolio–just in case a patent war broke out.

Again, the patent wars have now gone nuclear.

Rockstar is suing Google and just about every manufacturer of Android phones. The suit against Google seems to be mainly against their search technology. The Android makers are accused of infringing on patents dealing with issues such as “Managing a Virtual Private Network” and “System and Method for Notifying a User of an Incoming Communication Event.” To determine infringement, Rockstar engaged in a lot of reverse engineering.

Like all good patent trolls, Rockstar is using everything it can find as a weapon–even Googles $4.4 billion dollar bid to purchase the patents that are now being used against it. Rockstar claims that to be proof that Google already knew it was in violation, paving the way for a finding of willful infringement–meaning damages can be multiplied by three.

Here is what Linux Insider said about it: “Another legal battle between tech titans is brewing. The winners of the Nortel patent bidding war — Microsoft, Apple, et al — have filed a batch of lawsuits against Google and several Android smartphone manufacturers, charging infringement of a number of those patents. Though a good deal of money may change hands, this will be “a road bump in the smartphone wars,” said IP attorney Peter Toren.”

A good take came from TechDirt:

Patent Troll Shell Company Owned By Microsoft And Apple Launches Massive Patent Attack On Android

About a year and a half ago, we wrote about “Rockstar Consortium,” a shell company set up by Apple and Microsoft (and a few other companies), in which they placed many of the patents they received when they outbid Google to get Nortel’s patents. We noted at the time that one of the reasons regulators let Apple, Microsoft, RIM and others team up to buy these patents without it being an antitrust concern was that they promised that all the patents would be able to be licensed on “reasonable terms.” Except… once they handed them off to Rockstar, that company’s CEO, John Veschi, noted that this promise “does not apply to us.”

Microsoft is misusing laws against Google not just when it comes to patents; here is another new example:

Gmail Stays Up as Google Rejects Microsoft DMCA Takedown Notice

While Google receives millions of DMCA notices for its search service every week, that’s not the only part of its system to be targeted by rightsholders. Working on behalf of entertainment companies, over the past year several anti-piracy companies. Microsoft included, have regularly identified and reported URLs used by Google’s Gmail service as infringing copyright. Fortunately, the system hasn’t come crashing down.

For those who say that Microsoft is just worth ignoring it should be made apparent that it’s not GNU/Linux picking on Microsoft; it’s Microsoft that’s constantly picking on GNU/Linux. Any dislike of Microsoft is very much defensive and for Microsoft to be loathed is a well-earned status. We wrote about Rockstar a long time and we foresaw the above action. It’s cartel with racketeering and Apple plays a role in it too, showing its growing proximity to Microsoft.

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