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10.31.14

Links 31/10/2014: Rubin Leaves Google, Neelie Kroes Ends EU Career

Posted in News Roundup at 5:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Sad News! ;-)

    So, XP is dead, “7” is dying, “8” is a zombie, and “10” is vapourware with nowhere to call home. M$ continues layoffs. POOF! It all falls down. In the meantime Google and the OEMs will crank out many millions of ChromeBooks. Canonical, Linpus, RedHat, Suse… and the OEMs will crank out many millions of GNU/Linux PCs. Several OEMs will crank out many millions of GNU/Linux thin clients. Android/Linux will reverberate with another billion or so units of small cheap computers(tablets, smartphones). This looks like good news to me.

  • Desktop

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Desktop Linux users beware: the boss thinks you need to be managed

      Desktop Linux users beware: IT has noticed you and decided it;s time you were properly managed.

      So says VMware, which yesterday at its vForum event in China let it be know that it will deliver a desktop virtualisation (VDI) solution for Linux desktops.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Window and Desktop Switcher moved to Look’n’Feel Package

        Today we did an important change in how KWin will distribute its assets in the upcoming 5.2 release. When we started our thoughts about the Look’n’Feel Package and how we want to have meta themes for the complete Plasma workspace we also wanted to have this for the Window and Desktop switcher provided by KWin. So the structure of the Look’n’Feel Package already has all the pieces for including the Window and Desktop Switcher, but it was not used. Now we finally addressed this for the 5.2 release and moved the default switcher into the Look’n’Feel Package and KWin can locate the switchers from the Look’n’Feel Package.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GTK+ 3.16′s New GtkGLArea Widget Gets Improved

        Earlier this month GTK+ 3.16 development code gained native OpenGL support. This GTK+ OpenGL support involved adding support for wrapping an OpenGL context for native windows with GLX on X11 and EGL on Wayland to use OpenGL to paint everything. A GtkGLArea widget was also added for providing OpenGL drawing access within GTK+ applications. The GtkGLArea has already seen some more improvements to better GTK’s OpenGL support.

      • Recent improvements in libnice

        For the past several months, Olivier Crête and I have been working on a project using libnice at Collabora, which is now coming to a close. Through the project we’ve managed to add a number of large, new features to libnice, and implement hundreds (no exaggeration) of cleanups and bug fixes. All of this work was done upstream, and is available in libnice 0.1.8, released recently! GLib has also gained a number of networking fixes, API additions and documentation improvements.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Quick Look: Puppy Linux 6.0

        Puppy Linux 6.0 is a lightweight Linux distribution that can easily be run off a USB stick, SD card or live disc. This version has been dubbed “Tahrpup” by the Puppy Linux developers, and it is based on Ubuntu 14.04. It also uses Linux kernel 3.14.20.

      • Security-Minded Qubes OS Will Satisfy Your Yen for Xen

        It has advanced far beyond the primitive proof of concept demonstrated more than four years ago. Release 2 (beta), which arrived in late September, is a powerful desktop OS.

        Qubes succeeds in seamless integrating security by isolation into the user experience. However, comparing Qubes to a typical Linux distro is akin to comparing the Linux OS to Unix.

    • New Releases

      • Black Lab Education Desktop 6.0.1 to Be Supported Until 2022

        There are numerous Linux distributions that are oriented towards education, but you can never have too many in a domain such as this one. It’s based on the Black Lab Professional Desktop, which is a very good and powerful solution. Interestingly enough, Black Lab Linux is actually based on Ubuntu, and the latest one uses the 14.04.1 base (Trusty Tahr).

    • Arch Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Atom-based Ubuntu Touch tablet specs leaked

            Specs have been leaked for a 10.1-inch Ubuntu Touch tablet called “UT One” that runs on an Intel Atom Z3735D SoC, with shipments expected in December.

          • The Wide World of Canonical

            I thought perhaps it was a one-off mistake made by a marketing department flunky who perhaps had too much Red Bull while writing a press release. Being the responsible company that Canonical/Ubuntu is, and being the good FOSS community member that it portrays itself to be, I assumed they’d fix the error right away and make sure that ludicrous hyperbole was not the order of the day.
            Would that be asking too much?

            Perhaps. Sadly, a company that claims to be a FOSS leader can’t be bothered with getting simple facts correct. An ad on LinkedIn posted a week ago today makes the same claim for a job in London. You can click on the photo to the right and read, “It is used by over 20 million people in 240 countries in 80 languages.”

          • NVIDIA’s Linux Driver On Ubuntu 14.10 Can Deliver Better OpenGL Performance Than Windows 8.1

            The same Intel Core i7 4770K system used for yesterday’s Windows vs. Linux graphics benchmarks were used when benchmarking the GeForce GTX 780 Ti, 970, and 980 graphics cards. Windows 8.1 Pro x64 had all available system updates at the time and was running the NVIDIA 344.48 WHQL binary driver that was their latest release at the time of testing. When running Ubuntu 14.10 x86_64 on the system with its Linux 3.16 kernel, the NVIDIA 343.22 driver was used. The 343.22 driver was the latest publicly available proprietary Linux driver at the time of testing and their first to support the GTX 970/980 under Linux. All of the same hardware was used under each operating system and each OS was with its software default settings as were the driver settings.

          • The First Vivid-Based Ubuntu Touch Image Has Been Released

            As I have previously announced, the Ubuntu Touch development branch is based on Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet, while the Ubuntu RTM branch is still using Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn as code base, because it has already received stability improvements and will by default on the first Ubuntu powered Meizu phone. Currently, all the new features are implemented on the Ubuntu-Devel branch, the RTM one receiving only fixes.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linux accessory adds web access to dumb cameras

      Lumera Labs is aiming to Kickstarter an open source Linux camera attachment for one-click transfers to the cloud via WiFi, plus GPS tagging, HDR, and 3D.

    • Phones

      • Tizen

      • Android

        • Google’s surprise Nexus 6 preorders anger some Android users

          The Nexus 6 is Google’s biggest phone, and judging by the initial reaction from Android users, it may end up being its best-selling phone ever. Creating the Nexus 6 was a bold move by Google and it has resulted in pandemonium as Google’s initial supplies of the phone were quickly depleted by enthusiastic buyers. However, Google gave no warning about Nexus 6 preorders and that has angered some Android users who tried to buy it.

        • Nexus 6 Pre-Orders Were A Joke

          Today, the Nexus 6 went up for pre-order on the Google Play Store for a grand total of five minutes by my count. No warning, no announcements, no broadcasts from the Nexus Twitter account, no excitement from Sundar Pichai or any other Android leaders, nothing. I, like many of you, had no idea that pre-orders had even started. And by the time I tried to go order, it was too late. Sold out, gone. Nexus 4 all over again.

        • Download APKs From Google Play To Your Computer With Google Play Downloader

          Google Play Downloader is a simple open source application which can be used to download APKs from Google Play to your computer.

        • Android creator Andy Rubin is leaving Google

          The move is, perhaps, not a total surprise. Last March, Rubin left the Android group and was replaced by Sundar Pichai. His latest project, as detailed in a lengthy New York Times report in December, was creating robots for a project outside of the company’s Google X lab, something that dovetailed with Google’s shopping spree of robotics companies. In 2012, there were also rumors abound that Rubin planned to leave for a stealth-mode startup called CloudCar, though they were vehemently denied.

Free Software/Open Source

  • We All Work For Open Source Companies Now

    But here’s another, equally salient fact: Every company on the planet must embrace open source to varying degrees, including vendors that make their money selling proprietary software or services.

  • New Projects from the Ever-Protean World of Open Source

    In my previous column, I pointed out that free software was now so successful, and in so many fields, that people might wonder whether there’s anything left to do. The question was rhetorical, of course, of course: the ingenuity of the open source community means that people there will always find new and exciting projects. And not just the big one that I suggested of baking strong crypto into all our communication tools. There are countless other novel uses for open source, as these three very different examples below indicate.

  • Events

    • Ohio LinuxFest 2014 – A Look At Tomorrow

      I went to the Ohio Linux Fest this year to give the closing keynote address to somewhere around 300 folks. And trust me…this will show up later so you’ll know what I mean…the last two minutes of my keynote were the best part. Wait for it…soon.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Simplifying application development in the cloud

      Everett is also a core contributor to the Apache jclouds project, an open source tool designed to make it easier for developers to build applications which are able to reap the benefits of cloud computing while being agnostic to which cloud infrastructure project lies underneath.

    • PLUMgrid Delivers Suite of Tools for OpenStack Clouds

      This week, PLUMgrid, which specializes in virtual network infrastructure for OpenStack cloud deployments, announced the availability of its Open Networking Suite (ONS) version 2.0 with expanded support for OpenStack distributions and network functions. The company claims that “PLUMgrid ONS for OpenStack is the industry’s first software-only virtual networking suite that provides terabits of scale out performance, production-grade resiliency, and secure multi-tenancy for businesses to build agile cloud networks.”

  • CMS

    • Boycott Linux, Fedora Beta a Go, and Drupal Yikes

      The top story tonight is a highly critical flaw in Drupal 7 that may have allowed a lot of compromised websites. At tonight’s Go/No-Go meeting, Fedora 21 Beta was approved for next week. The folks at ROSA have released an LXDE version and LibreOffices 4.3.3 and 4.2.7 were released. Red Hat Software Collections 1.2 was released and Jack Wallen looks at the “science behind Ubuntu Unity’s popularity.”

    • Drupal Hack & WordPress Users

      The current situation being faced by Drupal users is evidence of just how determined the black hats are in their quest to find vulnerable sites and exploit them. According to Drupal, “Automated attacks began compromising Drupal 7 websites that were not patched or updated to Drupal 7.32 within hours of the announcement of” the vulnerability. On any site on any platform, paying attention to security is just as important as paying attention to content.

    • What you need to know about the Drupal vulnerability CVE-2014-3704

      For those that fall into the affected category we’re looking at 264,265 live sites that are currently running Drupal version 7, as a CMS at least, as of this writing. The advisory outlining this problem was originally posted on October 15th, 2014. Within 7 hours there were multiple exploits circulating in the wild. A safe assumption that if you are running an affected version that you were compromised unless you managed to have your site updated or patched before Oct 15th, 11pm UTC.

    • Drupal Users Had Seven Hours to Patch or Be Hacked

      Whenever a security exploit is fixed, users are advised to patch quickly to reduce the risk of attack. In the case of a recent open-source Drupal content management system (CMS) vulnerability, the window in which users needed to patch before being exploited has been quantified as being only seven hours.

  • Healthcare

    • How to train your doctor… to use open source

      The federal hospitals are running a system that was released in to the public domain called VistA, written in MUMPS. This is the same language that the $100 million software is written in! Except there is a huge difference in price. OSEHRA was founded to protect this software.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Go 1.4 Beta Release Brings Big Runtime Changes

      Google’s Go language implementation is now in beta for the upcoming 1.4 major release.

      Go 1.4 is bringing Android ARM support, NaCL on ARM support, big changes to the Go runtime, minor performance improvements, changes to Go’s existing libraries, and a ton of other improvements.

    • Rocker: Run R in Docker containers

      Rocker is hosted on GitHub, with three containers already available in the repository – r-base, r-devel and rstudio. The last container (rstudio) provides R and an instance of RStudio Server. RStudio is an integrated development environment (IDE) for R.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • W3C Declares HTML5 Standard Complete

      More than four years ago, Steve Jobs declared war on Flash and heralded HTML5 as the way to go. You could be forgiven if you thought the HTML5 standard — the follow-up to 1997’s HTML 4 — has long been set in stone, given that developers, browser vendors and the press have been talking about it for years now. In reality, however, HTML5 was still in flux — until today. The W3C today published its Recommendation of HTML5 — the final version of the standard after years of adding features and making changes to it.

Leftovers

  • Farewell from Neelie Kroes

    Today is my last day in office at the European Commission.

    Over the years, I have met a lot of people – people who have inspired, encouraged, and energised.

    In fact over 5 years in digital policy there have almost been too many to thank. But that is what I would like to today.

  • Security

    • Google Accounts Now Support Security Keys

      People who use Gmail and other Google services now have an extra layer of security available when logging into Google accounts. The company today incorporated into these services the open Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) standard, a physical USB-based second factor sign-in component that only works after verifying the login site is truly a Google site.

    • Friday’s security updates
    • More Failures Of The Wintel Monopoly

      Of course, this damage could have been mitigated by promptly patching when M$ releases their “Patch Tuesday” updates or sooner in an emergency. That’s the point. Consumers are not IT-people. They don’t know about this stuff. They just know about the speed and convenience of PCs on the web. That other OS is supposed to be “easy to use” but that’s just PR in the ads. It’s also easy to lose all security, have the system slow to a halt or crash. Sometimes, M$ gets it wrong and the patches don’t work. Consumers eventually buy another machine or take the box in for repairs to get it working again.

      [...]

      Of course, one should patch GNU/Linux systems too, but they do very well unpatched. The great beauty of GNU/Linux for consumers is that there are hundreds of distros and the typical malware-artist can’t hack them all simultaneously whereas “the monopoly” is a single big fat target. So, better code, fewer malwares and diversity all work together to protect consumers whereas the salesmen running M$ seek to make life “easy” for both consumers and malware-writers. I choose freedom. I use Debian GNU/Linux.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • The Ottawa Shootings — my RT interview

      Yes­ter­day I was asked to do an inter­view on RT in the imme­di­ate after­math of the Ott­awa shoot­ings. As I said, there needs to be a full forensic invest­ig­a­tion, and I would hope that the gov­ern­ment does not use this ter­rible crime as a pre­text for yet fur­ther erosion of con­sti­tu­tional rights and civil liber­ties. Calm heads and the rule of law need to pre­vail.

    • The war on drugs funds terrorism

      Here is a short excerpt from a panel dis­cus­sion I took part in after the Lon­don première of the new cult anti-prohibition film, “The Cul­ture High”. This is an amaz­ing film that pulls together so many big issues around the failed global 50 year policy of the war on drugs. I ser­i­ously recom­mend watch­ing it.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • ALEC Tampers with Wisconsin Constitution

      On November 4, Wisconsin voters will decide if the state constitution should be amended to require that “revenues generated by use of the state transportation system be deposited into a transportation fund administered by a department of transportation for the exclusive purpose of funding Wisconsin’s transportation systems and to prohibit any transfers or lapses from this fund.” The ballot measure reflects model legislation pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that is intended to prioritize road funding over all other types of transportation spending.

    • Media Cry Foul When Democrats Talk About Race

      epublicans are accusing Democrats of race-baiting? It sounds like the Times’ Jeremy Peters is making that accusation–isn’t that what “race-baiting” means, to “play on fears” with “racially charged messages”?

    • Rick Berman Exposed in New Audio; Hear His Tactics against Environmentalists and Workers Rights

      Rick Berman, the king of corporate front groups and propaganda, has been caught on tape detailing his attacks on public interest groups in the labor and environmental movements, including on efforts to increase the minimum wage for workers.

      As noted in a new story by Eric Lipton at The New York Times, Berman met with energy company executives at the posh Broadmoor Hotel earlier this year to raise money from them to attack groups representing citizens concerned about clean water, clean air, and the future of the planet. But Berman’s “win ugly” tactics apparently did not persuade all of his prospective clients for his lucrative business of creating tax-exempt non-profit front groups that then contract with his for-profit PR firm to give corporations cover for his attacks on their opponents. The way Berman profits from this arrangement has spawned a legal complaint to the IRS.

      An audio tape of Berman and his associate, Jack Hubbard, has been provided by a person at the Broadmoor event to the Center for Media and Democracy, which publishes PRWatch and has long tracked Berman’s deceptive PR operations.

    • Journalists need a point of view if they want to stay relevant

      If extreme polarization is now an enduring feature of American politics — not just a bug — how does that change the game for journalists? I have some ideas, but mainly I want to put that question on the table. “Conflict makes news,” it is often said. But when gridlock becomes the norm the conflicts are endless, infinite, predictable and just plain dull: in a way, the opposite of news. This dynamic has already ruined the Sunday talk shows. Who can stand that spectacle anymore?

    • How Facebook Could End Up Controlling Everything You Watch and Read Online

      How many of you are reading this because of a link you clicked on Facebook? In the online publishing industry (which WIRED obviously is part of), Facebook’s influence on site traffic—and therefore ad revenue—is difficult to overstate. Over the past year especially, “the homepage is dead” has become a standard line among media pundits. And more than anything else, it’s Facebook that killed it.

      Given that links appear to be more clickable when shared on Facebook, online publishers have scrambled to become savvy gamers of Facebook’s News Feed, seeking to divine the secret rules that push some stories higher than others. But all this genuflection at the altar of Facebook’s algorithms may be but a prelude to a more fundamental shift in how content is produced, shared, and consumed online. Instead of going to all this trouble to get people to click a link on Facebook that takes them somewhere else, the future of Internet content may be a world in which no video, article, or cat GIF gallery lives outside of Facebook at all.

  • Censorship

    • BBC refuses to include Green party in general election TV leader debates

      The BBC has rejected a demand from the Green party to be included in the proposed TV leader election debates, saying that it, unlike Ukip, has not demonstrated any substantial increase in support.

      The broadcasters have proposed three debates, one including Ukip, the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Conservatives, a second involving the Lib Dems, Labour and the Conservatives, and finally one between Ed Miliband and David Cameron.

      The Green Party was infuriated that they had been excluded and won support in online petitions.

  • Privacy

    • GCHQ views data without a warrant, government admits

      British intelligence services can access raw material collected in bulk by the NSA and other foreign spy agencies without a warrant, the government has confirmed for the first time.

      GCHQ’s secret “arrangements” for accessing bulk material are revealed in documents submitted to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the UK surveillance watchdog, in response to a joint legal challenge by Privacy International, Liberty and Amnesty International. The legal action was launched in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations published by the Guardian and other news organisations last year.

    • More RIPA Revelations

      Yet more evidence has come to light to show that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) is woefully out of date.

      It has been revealed that GCHQ, has the ability to request large amounts of un-analysed communications from foreign intelligence agencies without first obtaining a warrant. The documents, obtained in the course of a case brought before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), show that the use of a warrant was not necessary if it is “not technically feasible” for GCHQ to obtain one.

    • Sony Xperia devices are sendng your data to China

      If you are using a Sony Xperia device running either Android 4.4.2 or 4.4.4 it’s advised (by me) that you install a custom ROM on your device. Several reports have appeared online that the stock firmware on these devices contains Baidu spyware that is discreetly sending data back to servers in China, you do not need to have installed any software on your phone as it’s bundled into the firmware.

    • Congress Still Has No Idea How Much the NSA Spies on Americans

      Adequate oversight is impossible when even diligent members of the Senate Intelligence Committee can’t get basic facts about surveillance.

    • 49 Orgs Call on Congress to Restore Whistleblower Rights for Intelligence Contractors

      Congress should quickly restore whistleblower rights for government contractors who work in the intelligence community (IC), 49 ideologically diverse organizations and the Make It Safe Coalition told lawmakers in a letter today.

    • Liberty exposes secret links between GCHQ and the NSA
    • The NSA Scandal May Have Just Gotten Even Worse

      The National Security Agency might not have only collected personal information belonging to millions of Americans. It may very well have shared it too – with at least one foreign government.

      A report released yesterday by the U.K.-based human rights organization Liberty reveals Britain’s intelligence agencies can access information which the NSA has already collected whenever and wherever it wants – and without a warrant.

    • Brazil-to-Portugal Cable Shapes Up as Anti-NSA Case Study

      Brazil is planning a $185 million project to lay fiber-optic cable across the Atlantic Ocean, which could entail buying gear from multiple vendors. What it won’t need: U.S.-made technology.

    • Brazil greenlights $200m internet cable to Europe in bid to outfox NSA

      Brazil is moving ahead with plans to build an “anti-NSA” internet cable to Europe, even though it won’t make the slightest difference to spying efforts.

      Francisco Ziober Filho, president of state-run telecoms company Telebras, announced earlier this week that the company will form a joint venture with Spain’s IslaLink to run the submarine connection between Fortaleza at the northern tip of Brazil and Lisbon, Portugal. Filho also strongly suggested that the cable will not include any equipment from US manufacturers – take that, NSA.

      Despite the rhetoric, however, one expert in cable infrastructure told The Register that not only does the cable not make economic sense but it amounts to little more than “a $185m propaganda statement” on the part of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.

    • How NSA Director Wants to Build an IoT Security Coalition

      Admiral Michael Rogers is preparing a coalition of government, military and commercial interests to fight a global cyber war if necessary.

    • NSA chief calls for more “permeable” barrier between state and tech corporations

      In two speeches this month, US National Security Agency (NSA) Director Admiral Mike Rogers called for a further integration between the NSA and major technology and communications companies.

    • National Journal: NSA Outsources Surveillance of Americans to British Intelligence
    • A Secret Policy Lets the UK Suck Up Any Bulk NSA Data It Wants
    • Court: UK spies get bulk access to U.S.’s NSA data
    • GCHQ Can Access Raw Data From NSA Without a Warrant, Secret Policies Disclose
    • Comforting the NSA and Afflicting Its Dissenters

      No serious defense of the surveillance state can ignores its anti-democratic abuses, its lawbreaking, and its record of punishing whistleblowers.

    • FBI Seeks New Powers To Hack And Spy

      The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is seeking more powers to hack into a suspect computer no matter where it is located, and carry out surveillance.

    • New NSA Documents Shine More Light into Black Box of Executive Order 12333

      Today, we’re releasing a new set of documents concerning Executive Order 12333 that we — alongside the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School — obtained in an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. EO 12333 hasn’t received much public attention to date, but the government’s prior disclosures in our suit have shown that the executive order in fact governs most of the NSA’s surveillance. In the NSA’s own words, EO 12333 is “the primary source of the NSA’s foreign intelligence-gathering authority.”

    • Cricket Revealed As Mobile ISP That Was Blocking Encrypted Emails

      A few weeks ago, we wrote about how VPN company Golden Frog had quietly revealed in an FCC filing that an unnamed mobile broadband provider had been (even more) quietly blocking people from sending encrypted emails — basically blocking users from making use of STARTTLS encryption. The Washington Post has now revealed that the mobile operator in question was Cricket — a subsidiary of AT&T, and that it stopped blocking such encryption a few days after our post was published.

    • Mobile ISP Cricket was thwarting encrypted emails, researchers find

      Some customers of popular prepaid-mobile company Cricket were unable to send or receive encrypted e-mails for many months, according to security researchers, raising concerns that consumers may find that protecting their privacy is not always in their hands.

    • Swedish regulator orders ISP to retain customer data despite death of EU directive

      The Swedish Telecoms Regulator PTS has threatened Kista-based ISP Bahnhof to continue storing records of its customer communications, even though the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled the 2006 Data Retention Directive invalid [PDF] in April of this year.

    • Vermont’s Automatic License Plate Readers: 7.9 Million Plates Captured, Five Crimes Solved

      The sales pitch for automatic license plate readers is how great they are at helping cops solve crimes. From hunting down stolen cars to tracking pedophiles across jurisdictions, ALPRs supposedly make policing a breeze by gathering millions of time/date/location records every single day and making it all available to any law enforcement agency willing to buy the software and pay the licensing fees.

    • License Plate Scanners Raise Privacy Concerns, But Do They Help Police?

      Over the past five years, law enforcement agencies in Vermont have invested more than $1 million in technology that gathers millions of data points every year about the whereabouts of vehicles across the state.

    • Amazon-CIA $600 Million Deal Facing Scrutiny: “What’s the CIA Doing on Amazon’s Cloud?”

      A billboard challenging Amazon to fully disclose the terms of its $600 million contract to provide cloud computing services for the Central Intelligence Agency has been unveiled at a busy intersection near Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.

    • FBI’s Use Of ‘Sneak And Peek’ Warrants Still Steadily Increasing, Still Has Nearly Nothing To Do With Fighting Terrorism

      Another tool supposedly “crucial” to the War on Terror is just another lowly footsoldier in the War on Drugs. Some long-delayed reports on Section 213 “sneak and peek” warrants have finally been released by the US government, providing more detail on the constantly-expanding use of delayed-notification warrants by the FBI.

    • Government Authority Intended for Terrorism is Used for Other Purposes

      The Patriot Act continues to wreak its havoc on civil liberties. Section 213 was included in the Patriot Act over the protests of privacy advocates and granted law enforcement the power to conduct a search while delaying notice to the suspect of the search. Known as a “sneak and peek” warrant, law enforcement was adamant Section 213 was needed to protect against terrorism. But the latest government report detailing the numbers of “sneak and peek” warrants reveals that out of a total of over 11,000 sneak and peek requests, only 51 were used for terrorism. Yet again, terrorism concerns appear to be trampling our civil liberties.

  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • New Zealand’s Trade Minister Admits They Keep TPP Documents Secret To Avoid ‘Public Debate’

      A couple years ago, then US Trade Representative Ron Kirk explained why the negotiating text of trade agreements like the TPP needed to be kept secret: because if the public debated it, the agreement probably wouldn’t be approved. He used, as an example, a failed trade agreement where the text had been public. Beyond the “small sample size” problem of this explanation, the much more troubling aspect is the obvious question of recognizing that if public debate would kill the agreement, perhaps it’s the agreement that’s the problem and not the public.

    • Response to EU Ombudsman’s Consultation on TTIP Transparency

      The EU Ombudsman is running a consultation on how to improve the transparency of the TTIP negotiations. This shouldn’t be hard, since there is currently vanishingly small openness about these secret talks.

    • Trademarks

      • Pizzeria Attempts To Trademark The Flavor Of Pizza. Yes, Seriously.

        Trademark, while generally one of the better forms of intellectual property as used in practice and in purpose, can certainly still be abused. It can also fall victim to an ever-growing ownership culture that seems to have invaded the American mind like some kind of brain-eating amoeba. And that’s how we’ve arrived here today, a day in which I get to tell you about how there is currently a trademark dispute over the flavor of pizza.

    • Copyrights

The EPO Is More Corrupt Under Battistelli Than Under Alison Brimelow: Part VIII

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 6:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The huge scandal that the corporate media seemingly refuses to cover

Alison Brimelow

Summary: After Brimelow (shown above), with all her flaws and her scandals, an even worse President is installed who then abolishes oversight and seemingly brings his old friends to the EPO, creating a sort of subculture that is impenetrable to outsiders

THE EPO is no stranger to scandals (including some involving Alison Brimelow, as we noted before). We have covered them for years, but these days we are stunned by the degree of inherent corruption inside the EPO (this is the eighth part among many). The chin drops to the floor when one realises the lack of oversight. With no oversight comes great abuse, as revelations about the CIA and NSA, for example, serve to show.

Weeks ago we showed how EPO oversight got dismantled (related original documents are here) and below again is a quick walk-through (original documents):

  • CA-140-08-EN – 2008 – Audit Committee: possible models
  • CA-32-09-EN – 2009 – EPO Audit Committee: draft terms of reference
  • CA-33-09-EN – 2009 – Draft decision setting up an Audit Committee
  • CA-D9-09-EN – 2009 – Establishing an Audit Committee of the Administrative Council
  • CA-100-11-EN – 2011 – Internal appeal against CA/D 4/11
  • CA-D4-11-EN – 2011 – Decision of the Administrative Council
  • CA-55-11-EN – 2011 – Disbanding the Audit Committee

Today we would like to tell the much longer story of the EPO’s Audit Committee. “In 2008,” tells us an anonymous source, “possible models for an “Audit Committee” were discussed in the proposal document CA/140/08 presented to the Administrative Council.”

Quoting the relevant document: “The present document follows on from the governance workshop in Ljubljana on 7-8 May 2008, the results of which were summarised in CA/62/08 dated 30.05.08.

One of the priorities emerging from the workshop was “Audit Committee and independence of Internal Audit”. The present document outlines in detail the compelling case for an Audit Committee. Three models are analysed and assessed. The Budget and Finance Committee and the Administrative Council are requested to give their opinion. Thereafter the Office will submit a proposal for the terms of reference of the Audit Committee.”

That was quite a long while back.

CA/140/08, as above, noted the following problems with the existing “Internal Audit” (emphasis added):

B. PROBLEMS RELATED TO INTERNAL AUDIT

a) Independence of IA

22. At the EPO, the internal audit function is separated from operational areas.

IA reports directly to the President and should remain a tool in the hands of the President.

This notwithstanding, an independent mechanism (such as an audit committee) would provide further assurance of the correct functioning of IA, particularly in view of the fact that even at the highest management level situations can occur that call for the independence of IA.

Such an independent mechanism should exist:

• to ensure that IA is equipped with a sufficient budget and resources for the adequate performance of the audit work;

• to prevent any undue limitation of the status of IA within the framework of its audit mission;

• to prevent any unjustified deletion of the proposed audit plan;

• to review the appointment, transfer and dismissal of the head of internal audit and internal auditors;

to ensure that the supervision of IA does not rely entirely on the President.

As we have shown in previous parts, the President, Battistelli, seems to have gone out of control and is now acting like a tyrant with executive orders, potentially also appointing friends of his for positions of power.

“In June 2009,” explained our source, “the then-EPO President Alison Brimelow (former Director of the UK-IPO) presented the AC with the proposal documents CA/32/09 (“EPO Audit Committee: draft terms of reference”) and CA/33/09 (“Draft decision setting up an Audit Committee”).”

CA/33/09 (available above) proposed the establishment of an Audit Committee as a subsidiary body of the Administrative Council and said:

The present document is based on consultations between the Office and the Board of Auditors and presents a draft decision based on the outlines of the terms of reference for an EPO Audit Committee (cf. CA/32/09) as a subsidiary body of the Administrative Council pursuant to Article 14 of the Rules of Procedure of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation.

CA/33/09 was approved by the AC in June 2009 as decision CA/D9/09.

Now, here is the best bit. At that point in time, Battistelli, Director of the French INPI, was the Chairman of the AC. Yes, no kidding. In July 2010, Battistelli was appointed to succeed Alison Brimelow as EPO President!

In May 2011, in his new role as EPO President he submitted a proposal to the AC to abolish the Audit Committee “for reasons of efficiency”. See CA/55/11, “Disbanding the Audit Committee”, which says: “The present document proposes that the Administrative Council’s June 2009 decision establishing an Audit Committee (CA/D 9/09) be repealed for reasons of efficiency.”

CA/55/11 was approved by the AC in June 2011 as decision CA/D4/11. The decision of the AC to abolish its Audit Committee was appealed by EPO staff representatives (see CA/100/11) and this appeal is currently pending before the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO (ILO-AT) in Geneva.

The letter from the Chairman of the Audit Committee is worth reading. CA/100/11, in pages 13 and 14, states (emphasis added): “The role of the Audit Committee is not an overlap with the internal and external audit but a key component of a balanced auditing and governance structure of the Office as it is in most international organisations.

What a colossal mess.

A further parallel “thread” to this story concerns the EPO’s external audit mechanism, the so-called “Board of Auditors” which is established under Article 49 EPC. According to Article 49(1) EPC: “The income and expenditure account and a balance sheet of the Organisation shall be examined by auditors whose independence is beyond doubt, appointed by the Administrative Council for a period of five years, which shall be renewable or extensible.”

Again, what an utter joke!

The most-recently appointed member of the EPO’s three-man “Board of Auditors” is Mr. Frederic Angermann.

To quote this page from the EPO (under Munich, 13 December 2013, the 138th meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation):

The Council appointed Frédéric Angermann, Senior Auditor at the French Court of Auditors, as member of the Board of Auditors, with effect from 1 January 2014. Mr Angermann will succeed Michel Camoin, to whom the Council paid tribute.

Under the heading Legal and International Affairs, the Council heard the status report on latest developments concerning the Unitary patent, given by the Head of the Lithuanian delegation, representing the country holding the EU presidency for the second half of 2013. The chairman of the Select Committee (set up by the 25 EPC contracting states participating in the enhanced co-operation on unitary patent protection to supervise the EPO’s activities related to the tasks entrusted to it in the context of unitary protection) reported then on the committee’s 5th and 6th meetings (see Communiqué on the 6th meeting of the Select Committee, to be published shortly on this website). The Council thereby noted that a number of EPC contracting states not taking part in the enhanced co-operation had been granted observer status on the Select Committee. Other EPC contracting states not taking part in the enhanced co-operation will henceforth also be automatically granted observer status upon request.

What the EPO communique doesn’t tell us is that Angermann was previously a senior official at the French INPI. Battistelli must know him. This cannot be treated as merely a coincidence. In other words, he previously worked under Battistelli who was the Director of the French INPI, just prior to his EPO appointment.

Now refer back to Article 49(1) EPC: “auditors whose independence is beyond doubt

Everyone can see the problem here. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Battistelli may be bringing in cronies.

In summary, the Audit Committee which was established in 2009 as an independent subsidiary body of the EPO’s Administrative Council (and thus independent from the EPO President) was subsequently abolished in 2011 “for reasons of efficiency” (by Battistelli) after barely two years of existence.

The Audit Committee was established by the AC under Battistelli’s chairmanship of that body and the proposal for abolition came from Battistelli in his new role as EPO President (where he would have been subject to the oversight of the Audit Committee).

The consequence of this abolition was to return to the “status quo” prior to CA/140/08: Internal Audit at the EPO is once again completely under the control of the EPO President (i.e. in the hands of one person).

Apart from this, one of the EPO’s external auditors appointed under Article 49 EPC has a previous close professional connection to Battistelli.

All of this indicates that there is no effective independent internal audit mechanism at the EPO. Battistelli killed it.

Furthermore, the integrity of the external audit mechanism under Article 49 EPC has been compromised by Battistelli’s cronyism.

When you consider that the annual budget of the organisation is around 2 billion euros, that should be a cause for public concern. There is no excess of money in Europe right now (Britain is furious this month over demands for a payment of an extra £1.7 billion to the EU) while staff at the EPO is grossly overpaid with virtually no oversight, as we showed in previous parts and demonstrated with strong exhibits of authority.

As readers can see, especially if they follow European media, this is another story that the mainstream media has completely ignored. Unbelievable perhaps, but more likely there is fear of covering it, if not some certain complicity (depending on the media owners).

Once again, German journalists have been fully informed about these matters but haven’t written a single line about them despite the fact that according to the German Press Codex [PDF], “accurate informing of the public” is supposed to be one of the overriding principles of the Press (see preamble to Section 1). Perhaps the German media is preoccupied with other agenda.

Claiming That Microsoft ‘Loves’ Linux While Windows Update Bricks Devices With Linux

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 5:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In Microsoft’s own words:

Microsoft dirty tactics

Summary: The sheer absurdity of claims that Microsoft — which not only attacks those who distribute Linux and GNU but also blackmails them, takes them to court, or bricks their products without any liability — ‘loves’ Linux

A followup on the story about Windows Update essentially bricking Linux devices (peripheral to the PC) is proving to be rather spooky. Nobody was going to court; people can apparently just brick hardware deliberately, without due process and without facing consequences for such destructive actions.

“Nobody was going to court; people can apparently just brick hardware deliberately, without due process and without facing consequences for such destructive actions.”The curious thing here is the leeway it gives for Microsoft to brick installations of GNU and Linux, even if the ‘alien’ system is in its own partition. While some journalists are repeating Microsoft's lies about Microsoft 'loving' Linux we already know damn well that Microsoft hates GNU and Linux to the point of preventing sales of PCs with anything other than Windows, except perhaps in Italy owing to a top court’s latest ruling.

How is bricking people’s devices that are powered by Linux somehow acceptable or even legal now? It is done via Windows Update, which means that Microsoft now bricks Linux installations, whether unintentionally or intentionally (or somewhere in between). Will Microsoft also screw with the MBR/bootloader claiming that Free software infringes on its ‘IP’?

The sad thing is that some pro-FOSS people are easily fooled (maybe willfully) into saying that “Microsoft loves Linux” (it can also be found in the Linux Foundation’s Web site). “Read it all the way through,” told me one of them. “They love Linux because of $s not for its own sake.”

I responded by saying that Microsoft loves Linux like BP likes “green”, mostly for marketing around perceptions that help sell more petrol

There was a a discussion in Twitter among some FOSS journalists, who do not necessarily agree. The OSI’s President, for instance, tends to agree with me on that.

One of our readers wrote to say: “Unintentional disinformation regarding “contributions” to the Linux kernel. The large number of commits was simply unfucking the code. A question is does Microsoft maintain that code now that Greg fixed it, or did they just lay that egg in someone else’s nest?”

When Greg worked for Novell, which had been paid money for Microsoft to help it infiltrate several FOSS communities, Microsoft committed GPL violations (not a sole incident) and now it hopes to spin that as “contribution”. When will this revisionism end?

As a side note, layoffs at Microsoft continue to expand. The Microsoft booster wrote: “The cuts of approximately 3,000 employees today are believed to be largely support staff in human resources, finance, sales and marketing and IT. They are part of the 18,000 employees Microsoft officials said back in July that they’d be laying off over the course of a year.”

Android and other Linux-based platforms hurt Microsoft. It leads to layoffs, so Microsoft cannot claim to love Linux. Although it may take some time, Microsoft may end up a bit like Novell and Nokia, potentially absorbed by some bigger business (Microsoft is shrinking in terms of scale of influence or clout).

Protectionist Reign: Corporations in Complete Control of Everything With Domination Over Patent Law

Posted in Law, Patents at 5:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The golden rule: those who have gold make the rules

No parking

Summary: How multinational corporations, joined by the corporate press that they are funding, promote a corporations- but not people-friendly patent policy in north America

Some time after a Reuters article that quotes mostly patent lawyers and speaks for large corporations (we saw it reposted in about a dozen large newspapers, mostly corporate press) the Wall Street media came out with a similar report, repeating some of it later and saying: “Companies that build their business models around aggressive patent litigation are finding that approach less lucrative after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and stricter government policies.

“Here again we see how large corporations steer policy, irrespective of what the public wants.”“Patent lawsuits filed in the third quarter declined 23 percent from the second quarter, according to the industry coalition Unified Patents. About 88 percent of the drop is because of fewer cases by companies that make more than half their revenue from patent licensing and sue computer, electronics and software companies, the group said yesterday.

““The drop is real and likely permanent given the many structural changes to the patent system and patent litigation over the past couple years,” said Adam Mossoff, a law professor at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia.”

The site of the CCIA says that articles like these are not helping. They help large corporations, that is for sure. The corporate media typically pushes these talking points. “Alice is helping get rid of some bad patents, but those are just a drop in the bucket,” says Matt Levy, who added this cartoon.

Professor Geist, in the mean time, explains how corporate Canada (his phrase) is interfering with patent reform. To quote: “The Internet Association, a U.S.-based industry association that counts most of the biggest names in the Internet economy as its members (including Google, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Netflix, and Yahoo), recently released a policy paper on how Canada could become more competitive in the digital economy. The report’s recommendations on tax reform generated some attention, but buried within the 27-page report was a call for patent reform.”

Further down he says: “Yet despite the opportunity to give the green light to combat patent trolls, the Canadian business community urged caution. According an internal summary document on the discussions, Cisco warned that the reforms “could do more harm than good.” Jim Balsille, the co-founder of Blackberry, indicated that he supported the intent of the patent troll reforms, but cautioned about the need to get the details right. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce also expressed concern with the reforms, arguing that the measures could legislate against legitimate assertion of patent rights and that they could create a chilling effect.”

Here again we see how large corporations steer policy, irrespective of what the public wants. Civil disobedience may be in order and in TechDirt there is a new article about those who knowingly and deliberately ignore patents that do not deserve respect or, conversely, those who insist that invalid patents can be infringed on. This system is rigged and it need to be toppled.

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