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06.20.14

Why Do FOSS Sites Promote NSA-Friendly Malware Like Microsoft Skype?

Posted in Microsoft at 7:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

NSA thanks you for installing the blob

Webcam

Summary: Criticism of promotion of Skype for GNU/Linux, which basically compromises the whole platform and plants a bug (as in listening device with a camera) inside people’s Free/libre systems

FOR A number of days now we have been systematically ignoring (not overlooking) several reports about a nasty piece of software. Many FOSS sites cover Skype because another malicious blob has been just made available for GNU/Linux, requiring root to install and offering no source code at all. It is bad idea to install this blob because we already know that Skype is used extensively for surveillance (this fact is well established), more now than ever before as it was snatched by the NSA’s PRISM #1 company, Microsoft. Yes, here we have the company which famously reads people’s E-mails and uses people’s personal data against them, putting some in prison and deporting them. Why would anyone wish to take the risk of using Skype when good software such as Linphone and Jitsi exists and is freely available for GNU/Linux, Android, among many other free/libre platforms, sporting real encryption (Skype has no end-to-end encryption, based on revelations from last year)?

Microsoft is a huge liar when it comes to privacy and ITWire is one among several publications that we saw recently giving Microsoft’s lies a platform. Microsoft claims it will not use your personal data against you (it does not say “won’t spy”) but we already know this to be a lie, based on the Kibkalo case.

Microsoft is not the only company which lies about privacy. VMware too spouts out nonsense (many Microsoft executives moved there, so the lies travel), hoping that people forget about RSA-NSA collusion (VMware is RSA’s sister because both are owned by EMC). There is a back door there, just as there is a back door in Hyper-V hosts (it only runs on Windows, hence there’s a back door that leads downwards to guest VMs).

Generally speaking, any piece of proprietary software is quite likely a back door, if not by accident then by design (unlike Free software one would struggle to prove either, but leaks wre help). People who brag about using a Free/libre and secure platform completely compromise it when they install the blob called “Skype”. Convenience may be tempting, but it’s a trap. British intelligence agencies alone have grabbed footage from many people’s webcam, harvesting videos and photographs (many of which sexual) from millions of people while the NSA used harvested photos to covertly construct biometric models of law-abiding Americans. Just because you do nothing illegal doesn’t mean you are not under surveillance. Espionage champions like to collect potential ‘dirt’ against everyone (they derive power through blackmail) and British intelligence, for example, already intercepted and saved footage of hundreds of thousands of people masturbating.

‘Active Management Technology’ is Quite Likely a Back Door, Along With Intel’s UEFI

Posted in Hardware at 6:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yet another reason to boycott Intel

Chips secrets

Summary: The dark hearts of computers, with a lot of secrets and circuitry whose behaviour cannot be verified, are also convenient back doors, even without additional bugs (implanted en route)

THE FSF has this interesting new article about “Active Management Technology”. It was written by Ward Vandewege, Matthew Garrett, and Richard M. Stallman, who awarded Garrett for his work on UEFI.

One year ago, around the same time that Snowden leaked some NSA documents, we warned that UEFI could be used to remotely brick PCs. Later on, after the NSA leaks had gone maintream, the NSA pretty much confirmed it was a possible strategy (but defecting this to the Chinese). Going back to 2008 we also warned about back doors, some of which facilitated by broken encryption in hardware (e.g. Intel’s ‘hardware-accelerated’ RNG). That was about a decade after Microsoft had allegedly built back doors into Windows (we know that there are back doors now, but it’s just hard to say when Microsoft started it).

We already wrote a great deal about the problem with UEFI patents, UEFI ‘secure’ boot (taking control over computers, moving control away from the users to put itinto corporate hands and governments), but we have not done much to cover UEFI remote control capabilities, or more broadly Intel’s rogue role in intelligence, leading to a ban in some places (some variants of BSD refuse to use Intel RNGs due to fear of intentionally low entropy that derails encryption).

Quoting the article from Vandewege et al.: “Intel’s Active Management Technology (AMT) is a proprietary remote management and control system for personal computers with Intel CPUs. It is dangerous because it has full access to personal computer hardware at a very low level, and its code is secret and proprietary.”

Intel is a deeply criminal company, so to blindly trust its proprietary technology would be foolish. We have always campaigned against Intel not just because “intel” is shorthand for something rather insinuative although this latter point is now a growing factor, too. Watch what China is doing these days when it comes to hardware policy, not just software policy. Or simply watch what Snowden has been leaking; it’s rather revealing.

The Corrupt Court Which Brought Software Patents to the United States is in a State of Crisis, Should be Disbanded

Posted in Law, Patents at 6:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Randall R. Rader: The corrupt judge who ran CAFC until the scandal which ultimately led to his resignation

Randall R. Rader
Photo from Reuters

Summary: The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) is in trouble after its extent of misconduct was revealed, not just because rulings are repeatedly incorrect but also because its chiefs are corrupt (in bed with patent lawyers)

The United States should gradually if not instantaneously revoke CAFC’s power amid revelations of misconduct and errors. CAFC almost always gets its rulings wrong, based on the judgment of courts above it, notably SCOTUS. Perhaps it’s time to just shut shut down the CAFC. The disgrace which is ‘judge’ Rader has finally stepped down, so there’s no better time to end CAFC. He had conflicts of interest and did great damage to patent policy. He encouraged the perception of corruption in the courtroom. Rader was just one of several because not a single judge ruled incorrectly on cases that involve patents. Rader is raider, taking away from programmers and giving to monopolies and their patent lawyers. Ars Technica wrote about his “ethical breach”:

US Circuit Judge Randall Rader, who was just weeks ago the top patent judge in the nation, has announced he will step down, following an admission that he made an ethical “lapse” when he sent an e-mail praising an attorney who appears frequently before his court.

From 2010 until two weeks ago, Rader served as Chief Judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears all patent appeals and interprets most of the nation’s patent laws. The Washington, DC-based court is frequently the final arbiter in some of the highest-stakes technology battles in the world.

Here is more from the corporate press, which said: “The ex-chief judge of the top U.S. patent court will retire at the end of June, after acknowledging that an email he sent raised questions about his judicial ethics because it praised an attorney who appears before the court.”

Shut it down. Now is the time. This court has been the target of a coup and it cannot restore trust.

There’s no lack of stories about the harms of software patents. Here is the recent report titled “Divorcees Brawl Over Time Warner-Acquired Software Patents” and alluding in part to software patents, here is an article which speaks of a “Nightmare”. An Australian lawyers’ Web site seems to be turning its back on software patents not because they’re not something that patent lawyers want but because they have apparently become less profitable (harder to uphold in Australia). To quote: “A new unfavourable examination practice by the Australian Patent Office for software patents precipitated two separate appeals to the Federal Court of Australia, which resulted in the two decisions Research Affiliates LLC v Commissioner of Patents [2013] FCA 71 (“Research Affiliates”), and RPL Central Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Patents [2013] FCA 871 (“RPL”). The two decisions are, on the face of it, contradictory. The patent office favours Research Affiliates, which imposes strict limits on the patentability of software. RPL does not impose the strict limits of Research Affiliates. Both decisions have been appealed to the Full Court.”

In the US, patent policy is written by corporations and their lobbyists or moles (companies like Microsoft and IBM). Until not so long ago an IBM lawyer who is a software patents proponent controlled the USPTO (that’s David Kappos). He ensured that the USPTO sought only to increase its own income (and patent lawyers’) by expanding scope and in his new article in the plutocrats’ press (Forbes) he pretends that it’s about prosperity for the US economy. This is complete nonsense. It’s the very opposite of the truth, unless by “American economy” Kappos means “the 1%” (of which he is a part).

If the USPTO cannot be abolished, then its facilitator (a corruptible court like CAFC which let it patent software) should be eliminated, leaving the SCOTUS to make baby steps towards the solution (or towards justice, which SCOTUS is not exactly famous for, either).

SCOTUS Finally Smacks Down Software Patents, But Further Action is Needed

Posted in Law, Patents at 5:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Many patents killed in a fire

Fire

Summary: The US Supreme Court has just ruled a lot of software patents “invalid” (by generalisation), raising hopes that things are improving

WE are exceedingly delighted to learn that the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled against software patents. Before lots of law firms (patent lawyers) issue their revisionist ‘articles’ on why it doesn’t change anything let’s look at what happened.

SCOTUS has, without exception among the Justices, decided that some software patents are too vague to merit a win in court. Essentially, they’re rendered toothless, by precedence. It is possible that hundreds of thousands of software patents have just been rendered dead. Since SCOTUS is the top court, not even the software patents-friendly CAFC can reverse this decision. As one good writer (patent matters expert) put is: “The most-anticipated patent decision from this Supreme Court term was published today. The decision involves finance-related software patents that were being used against CLS Bank, a key part of the global financial infrastructure.”

Here is the response from Red Hat’s site, an Android-hostile site, a Linux-friendly site, and from the FSF, which says “more work needed to end software patents for good”. There was a lot of coverage in the corporate media too, including [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22] and the message is quite uniform. Not even lawyers’ sites can deny the truth here. They will surely try later. We have done an extensive media survey and the media is as unanimous about this as the SCOTUS is. Here is the response from TechDirt, which sheds light on why it’s not enough. To quote the headline: “Supreme Court Rejects Software Patents On Performing Generic Functions; Pretends That Lots Of Other Software Must Be Patentable” (lawyers are going to have a day field around the latter part).

This is clearly not the end of software patents, but it’s a good start. Let’s enjoy this small victory while it lasts. A future patent case can be escalated to SCOTUS again, shedding doubt on this decision. It doesn’t happen quite so often though (In Re Bilski was half a decade ago).

Federal Trade Commission Should Launch Legal Action Against Microsoft Over Bribes to Bloggers in Exchange for Coverage

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 5:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Summary: Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is expected to do nothing, as usual, even through there is overwhelming evidence that Microsoft breaks the law by bribing journalists and bloggers, not just government officials

THE FTC promised to fight bribery of bloggers, but it never really did anything (not a single action that we are aware of). A cynic may simply conclude that there are face-saving laws and rules, but they are not being enforced against criminal enterprises like Microsoft, which habitually engages in AstroTurfing, even in Wikipedia [1, 2, 3] which now bans it and demands disclosure of payments. Microsoft’s PR agencies do this too (they are void of ethics just like Microsoft and some literally emanate from inside Microsoft), not just moles whom Microsoft pays secretly. Microsoft has been bribing bloggers and journalists (with laptops) in exchange for positive reviews of operating systems and nothing is improving these days because Microsoft is paying people to comment in Reddit (now owned by the Microsoft-friendly Condé Nasty), maybe even to misuse moderation to ban opposing views or to submit stories. Microsoft got caught doing this just months ago and there was a similar abuse involving bribed-for YouTube placements (bribing vloggers).

Microsoft is a criminal company and criminals don’t obey laws. After Condé Nasty took over Reddit the site began advertising (in the content section) the most NSA-friendly Web browser (many back doors with new ones every month, enabling whole OS capture due to illegal integration/bundling), probably in exchange for a lot of money. It is a form of AstroTurfing, distorting and ultimately derailing the editorial process.

Well, Microsoft has just been caught bribing bloggers to covertly advertise the most NSA-friendly Web browser (Internet Explorer of course). The pushback actually came from Michael Arrington almost a decade after Arrington had played along with Microsoft and got caught (and shamed for it, losing a lot of credibility). Arrington blew the whistle, but Microsoft lies to him (and his readers) by claiming it had nothing to do with it (see the update). is Microsoft trying to distance itself from it all, but now we finally know Arrington was right all along:

Why in the world is Microsoft (through an agency) trying pay bloggers to write about Internet Explorer? Do people still do this? And given my position on paid posts, why would they think I’d be willing to participate?

This is just layers of stupid.

Here’s the link in the request below. Here’s the hashtag (#IEbloggers) that they’re requesting people use, so I’m guessing anyone using that is getting paid.

Arrington once agreed to do the “people-ready” Microsoft propaganda, embedded in articles for some Microsoft cash (hence a violation, as per the FTC’s rules). Microsoft could not escape such scandals, later confirming — implicitly — that it was definitely something Microsoft was behind. Even a site that serves Microsoft propaganda very routinely has covered it. Here is a quote: “Microsoft Internet Explorer officials are attempting to distance themselves from a paid social-media effort by an advocate marketing company meant to promote Microsoft’s IE browser.”

Coming from ZDNet this is quite grand because the site was paid by Microsoft to become its propaganda mill (we exposed this numerous times in the past).

What can people do? Well, given that the FTC won’t do anything (highly unlikely), people should boycott Microsoft and urge journalists ban Microsoft from various circles of the media, not just from procurement.

Microsoft is run by the same unethical thugs, even if the public face (CEO) has changed. People who don’t wish to reward criminals should pay not a penny to Microsoft.

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