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11.25.13

Links 25/11/2013: Applications and Instructionals

Posted in News Roundup at 8:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

NSA-Guided Assassinations by Drone Face Backlash in Germany, Pakistan, and Beyond

Posted in Action at 5:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Predator drone shoots a Hellfire missile

Summary: Assassinations without trial, or “drone strikes” as the corporate press commonly calls them, are becoming more controversial

AS PROMISED yesterday, today we tackle the subject of predator drones (UAVs) again. It is no longer relegated to daily links; there is a lot of commentary worth making now that we know about the NSA’s role (cracking computers and using back doors) in assassinating people, based on lists it gathers. It has a lot to do with technology, and by technology we mean even software, not just aviation and physics/chemistry (producing explosives for Hellfire missiles). The NSA helps tracking targets by their devices that they carry and it also helps select targets, based on who they communicate with, what Web pages they visit, etc. The NSA has already participated in the assassination of thousands of people this way. Those who want us to naively believe that all those people deserved this punishment should read [1] and those who think that US citizens support it should read [2]. Most US citizens still have compassion [3], but not the corporate media which calls each person dead “militant” (meaning adult male) as if to blindly justify each assassination. Germany has just quit what might be perceived as complicity [4] and in Pakistan, where the NSA participated in thousands of murders, Imran Khan (a friend of Wikileaks) leads protests [5,6] which include, potentially, blocking of NATO [7]. Techrights will continue to cover such news because now we know the large degree to which software plays a role (mostly tracking), never mind the drones' embarrassing use of Linux.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Debating a Drone

    Why do you trust that this secretive government is only killing “people who need to be killed”?

  2. Activists to Rally Against Increasing Use of Drones to Spy and Kill

    Anti-drone activists will march from the White House to the headquarters of drone aircraft manufacturer General Atomics on Friday ahead of a rally to “discuss strategies to stop the proliferation of drones” used for military purposes around the world, organizers said.

  3. Fragmentation of News and Causes: The Urgent Need to Think Globally

    In our global fight for self preservation, we must remember, all the time, that we are all Afghans, we are all Filipinos, we are all Haitians, we are all Iraqis, and more, who struggle against the same forces and share the identical desire for self determination.

  4. ‘We reject illegal killings’: Germany suspends drone purchase

    Berlin has suspended the purchase of armed drones on the grounds that it “categorically rejects illegal killings.” This follows a report by Amnesty International that accused Merkel’s government of aiding the US with drone strikes in Pakistan.

    A draft agreement between the Social Democrats and the Conservatives obtained by Der Spiegel condemns the use of drones for targeted attacks.

  5. Imran Khan Leads Mass Pakistan Protest Against Drone Strikes That Kill ‘Thousands’
  6. Cricketer turned politician Imran Khan leads anti-drone protesters in blockade of key Nato supply line

    Thousands rally in Peshawar, amid fears the CIA will aim unmanned anti-Taliban strikes deeper into Pakistani territory

  7. Blocking NATO to Stop Drones

    “We are holding the biggest ever anti-drone protest in Peshawar, where we could decide to block NATO supplies permanently,” Khan, who leads the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI), told IPS ahead of massive protests planned by the party for Nov. 23.

President of the OSI Calls IBM, Microsoft and Other Companies Patent Trolls, Explains the Role of OIN

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 4:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Simon Phipps

Summary: Useful analysis from Simon Phipps, who has turned more vocal in his opposition to software patents and those who promote them

Simon Phipps is a terrific leader. He is not self-censoring and over the years he has thrown some punches at companies which are hostile towards FOSS. He also built (or rebuilt) a relationship with the FSF, which helps reduce if not eliminate wasteful efforts such infighting and competitive advocacy; the OSI and FSF are now jointly submitting formal complaints against patent trolls. Phipps also spoke out repeatedly against patent trolls and patent aggressors — something which many in the FOSS groups don’t bother with. Here in Techrights, due to lack of time and resources, we have not focused so much on patents recently; so, here is something to make up for it.

Newegg is currently in the headlines because it gets sued a lot by trolls and it fights back. 30 infringement claims were made against Newegg in the past 8 years alone, based on Newegg’s claims. To quote: “Newegg was founded “in the ashes of the Internet trough” in 2001, said Cheng. The first 10 employees worked in a warehouse about 20 miles outside Los Angeles. Newegg still owns the facility, called Warehouse 1, though the company’s headquarters now resides in another warehouse in City of Industry.””

Newegg is not a massive giant like IBM, Apple, or Microsoft. It does not hoard patents and it is really suffering from patents, which are originally the game invented and played by the rich and the powerful. Also from Phipps (OSI President) there is this coverage of OIN, which was created by massive multi-nationals, including IBM. Phipps explains: “While many open source advocates remain rightly concerned about the chilling effect of software patents on both innovation and collaboration, open source software has additional defenses against patent aggression that aren’t available to proprietary software. The Open Invention Network (OIN), a novel patent pool fighting for rather than against open source, plays an important role in these defenses.”

But OIN is still not fighting to eliminate software patents. It’s more of an interest group. As Phipps put it, “make sure the software you use is under one of these modern licenses; older licenses like BSD and MIT don’t mention patents. Second, comply with the terms of the license — easy enough for almost all open source licenses, especially compared with the labyrinthine complexity of commercial licenses and EULAs. As long as you comply with the terms of the license, you benefit from the protection it offers. Third, work in the open rather than making last-minute contributions. This is good practice anyway, but it adds protection too.”

So in other words, OSI may be benign to Free/Open Source software players; for everyone else it’s not of much use. Newegg gets nothing out of it.

In another new post from Phipps it is claims that Microsoft and IBM are just “big trolls” — something he has said even back when he worked for Sun. “Rogue software patent trolls are the scourge of the tech industry. But the larger, better-dressed trolls don’t get a pass either.” Phipps writes.

To quote Phipps further: “The dirty secret IBM, Microsoft, and other self-proclaimed advocates of patent reform don’t want you to know is that they are trolls, too. They have large and highly profitable business units using exactly the same tactics as the patent trolls they hate. The reason they hate the trolls is not because of what they do — after all, IBM and Microsoft were the pioneers of treating patent portfolios as profit centers rather than cost centers. No, the reason they hate the trolls is because the trolls attack them with the weapons they themselves perfected.”

We already explained how IBM and Microsoft helped abolish patent reform attempts. This ought to make people who think of IBM as a friend of FOSS reassess their position; it is definitely not the first time IBM does this. IBM’s and Microsoft’s friends at SUSE have this new release (funded in part by Microsoft and IBM), but we should remember to regard it as nothing but an attempt to tax GNU/Linux with patents. We hardly cover anything SUSE-related anymore (we ignore rather than fight), but the fact remains that people should boycott SUSE. It’s about patents.

Linux in Government and Why There is Still NSA Agenda to Keep Wary Eye on

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Security, Ubuntu, Virtualisation at 4:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We need Freedo

Freedo

Summary: Involvement in Linux development from the NSA and close corporate partners means that in order to restore real trust some code may need washing away (Linux-libre style)

THE news last week claimed that the US Defense Department was embracing FOSS [1,2]. We already know that it uses RHEL extensively and this may actually have strings attached to it. See, there is always aspiration to put control of the software at the hands of US corporations (and by extension bureaucrats who can compel those corporations to comply with surveillance desires); for others, there are back doors.

The other day we saw how a leading GNU/Linux vendor worked to promote and to spread UEFI ‘secure boot’, which is all about remote control (unless the signatures are maintained by the physical owner of the computer). UEFI ‘secure boot’ — like TPM — is about control by remote entities like Microsoft. Never forget that man from Microsoft (who still lives around there) manages Ubuntu now. Another man from Microsoft is now speaking on behalf of a Linux Foundation project (there are other people, but he is their manager). This really is a cause for concern because even “Linux” technologies are turning somewhat hostile towards users. When companies like Intel and IBM call the shots and when companies like Red Hat try to appease the Pentagon we just simply cannot assume that Linux will remain user-serving (as a matter of priority).

There are some news these days about Italy [3,4], Switzerland [5] and several other European nations moving to Free/Open Source software (this may include GNU/Linux) for control and autonomy, but they should keep a close eye on those who steer Linux development (and the government they lobby to oversee them amicably in particular). Yesterday when I had a discussion about this subject someone suggested embracing Hurd, but I on the other hand thought that perhaps Linux-libre should start removing NSA-sourced components (if they can be traced back to the NSA, as it is not just SELinux and some was submitted by @redhat.com addresses) and other suspicious or user-hostile code.

Even as Linux advocates we should recognise that there is a diversity of interests and the agenda of the NSA is to spy on everything and everyone, not to protect our privacy and security.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Has open source officially taken off at DOD?

    As far as technology trends in the federal government go, the use of open source is on a multi-year hot streak. Alongside movements such as the cloud, open source is one of those agency options like an oasis – or perhaps a mirage — in a funding desert, promising savings and efficiencies.

  2. DOD gradually embracing open source

    The Defense Department, looking for ways to cut costs and share information, is slowly but surely embracing open source software, sister publication FCW’s Amber Corrin reports.

    “The problem with proprietary solutions is the limited set of folks who can use them, rather than opening the core components to the community to drive…and just be the experts and the integrators,” Andy Goodson, program manager for Lockheed Martin’s Distributed Data Framework, told FCW. DDF is a newly open source software search engine for intelligence.

  3. Italy working on a guide for comparing open and closed source software

    It’s no hidden fact that the European Union has a special love for free and open source software for all the merits these have to offer and for the huge cost savings EU’s various organizations get to make from these. In the past, several member countries have made the switch from Windows to Linux in a drive to make their systems more secure and save costs. Their governments and educational institutions have also moved on from using proprietary and expensive day-to-day software such as Microsoft Office to using OpenOffice and LibreOffice, software that get the same work done and are absolutely free. Now it is Italy’s turn to follow on the same path.

  4. FOSS in the Italian public administration: fundamental law principles

    We take a first reading of the recent modification to the fundamental law that governs the digital aspects of the Public Administration in Italy. These modifications require Public Administrations to prefer internally made solutions and FOSS solutions over proprietary ones, mandate an increased degree of interoperability and strengthen the push for open data.

  5. Swiss Lausanne piloting open source desktops

    Lausanne, Switzerland’s fourth-largest city, is considering a switch to open source desktop PCs. “The time has come to evaluate a migration, by launching a pilot project on 5 workstations”, the city announced on 14 November. “Free and open source software is becoming more mature, user-friendly and compatible with other environments.”

Richard Stallman on Censorship and Libel

Posted in TechBytes Video at 12:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TechBytes with Stallman

Direct download as Ogg (00:03:07, 10.3 MB)

Summary: Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation’s founder, speaks about laws that affect freedom of speech or, contrariwise, censorship


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