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01.10.15

Software Patents in an Age of Political Corruption and Corporate Domination

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 12:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flags

Summary: The patent systems and their peripheral enforcers continue to put so-called ‘rights’ of corporations before interests of citizens

Political corruption and unlimited scope of patents seem to have a correlation. When large businesses want infinite protectionism they tend to massage copyright and/or patent laws, completely oblivious to the interests of the residents who supposedly elect politicians to serve them. Such is the case not only in the US (see USPTO) but also in Europe, especially in recent years because new governance bodies are forming and some unite or harmonise laws. We end up being captives of multinationals such as Philips and Siemens. The EPO goes as far as hiring very corrupt individuals and the current Presidency of the EU Council, Latvia, is sponsored by BMW, Microsoft, etc. It is basically a corporate Presidency, just like the political parties in the United States (funded and controlled by large corporations). One doesn’t need to be a cynic to talk about what’s wrong about the Presidency of nearly a whole continent being sponsored by Microsoft. The EU has basically inherited ‘Russian oligarchs’ standards and is no longer trying to even hide it (not so well anyway). It helps explain how we get all these ‘trade’ collusions and other nonsense-based legislation in Europe. The FFII actively works in this area and so are other groups from Europe. There is activism all the time, but will the population win?

“There is activism all the time, but will the population win?”Florian Müller (Microsoft Florian) appears to have joined our cause in reforming the EPO or ousting its management. He says that “pressure mounts on EPO president and administrative council over suspension of patent judge”. Linking to Techrights he notes: “Having watched various political scandals over the years, I consider it a rule of thumb that an affair that results in statements and actions even during the Holiday Season, and that continues with undiminished force after the Holiday Season, tends to result in someone’s resignation or ousting. Smaller issues go away and are not carried over into the new year. But the really big issues do survive the Holiday Season.”

We have a real problem in Europe right now because the legal ‘industry’ has basically taken over much of the political system. Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, who is close to the FFII and April (France), says that “during Unitary Patent procedure, Wikström was the representative of the patent microcosm” (meaning the patent lawyers and other pro-patents maximalists).

Across the Atlantic in the US (and across the Pacific for Asia) there remains a xenophobic embargo agency (for US companies only) called the ITC. It is still active and this report explains how. To quote the new article:

When making their case against alleged infringers, patent-holders have two options in the US legal system: filing a case in federal court, or petitioning for an investigation at the International Trade Commission (ITC).

We live in an unfair world where unfair competition is standard. People who head large corporations, i.e. managers, acquire monopolies through lawyers-dominated systems (where scientists are dominated and intimidated by corrupt managers) and these monopolies are in turn used against science and technology, all in the name of profit (for the few). It’s like a kind of coup against hard-working people. Whether it’s the EPO, USPTO, ITC or some other state-run or state-sanctioned entities (not private companies or patent trolls), we are surrounded by many who are trying to harm us while throwing around words like “innovation”, “protection”, etc. In many cases, private firms exploit these supposedly public bodies for private profit (externally/peripherally). It’s a massive swindle enabling transfer of wealth and control.

Toyota deserves some credit this week for following the path of Tesla and throwing patents out of its arsenal (it's misleading to call this "open source", it is merely disarmament). If only more companies did that…

The Art of Lying About Android’s (Linux-based Platform) Growth

Posted in Apple, Google, Microsoft at 11:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The only platform that is losing market is the corporate press

Pen

Summary: The Microsoft- and Apple-friendly press is bending backwards to make Android look like a losing platform

APPLE vs. Google (or iOS vs. Android) fan wars are boring because rarely do they focus on ethics, freedom, etc. Nevertheless, we often see anti-Android bias coming from Apple-oriented or pro-Microsoft sites. It’s what should be expected and where facts are being distorted we need to weigh in.

“There is no denying that Android is gaining quickly at Apple’s expense, not only in phones but also in tablets.”The other day we were reminded of severe security flaws in Apple operating systems (more here, not to be confused with security issues in underlying ‘apps’ [1]) and one influential Apple booster said that Apple’s software quality had taken “a nosedive” lately. As BGR put it: “Instapaper creator Marco Arment is certainly one of the most read and widely influential Mac and iOS developers around. And when he says that there’s something seriously wrong with the way things have been going with Apple’s software lately, many people will take note.

“In a new essay posted on his website, Arment offers a blistering critique of Apple’s latest software releases and then delivers the ultimate insult that would have made Steve Jobs weep: He compares some of the latest iOS and OS X software flubs to the mistakes that Microsoft repeatedly made with Windows.”

There is no denying that Android is gaining quickly at Apple’s expense, not only in phones but also in tablets. ZDNet, a technology tabloid of CBS, tries to warp the facts using a very misleading headline and an article that is quite baseless. As this tabloid continues its US-only propaganda (extrapolating from US to the whole globe) against Android — and by extension Google — it is willing to draw conclusions even based on a poll with sample size of just 112. We have seen other such misinformation before. People from Microsoft love to spread it, just like Microsoft itself. CBS staff from Microsoft last month used US-only figures that tacitly insinuated that Android was losing globally. False. CBS is doing it again this month (the guy from Microsoft also advertises Microsoft and Microsoft’s lock-in/trap for Android). To be fair, not only CBS did it as others advertised this trap and the US-only propaganda (like that from CBS) could also be found in US-based sites/networks like America Online (AOL), Time, CNBC, Business Insider, eWeek, and BGR. These very misleading headlines and claims leave one with the impression that Apple is now beating Android and the tide as a whole has turned. Relative to the entire world Apple has always had somewhat of an edge in the US, so none of it is news. The US-based EFF sure prefers Android [2], regardless of the trend in the US. As for the promotion of Microsoft inside Android, a reader of ours labeled it “Fighting against ODF, not that ODF support on Android is adequate yet.”

We can generally say that a lot of the press remains hostile towards Android. Maybe not enough ads and product placements?

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Android apps ask for too many intrusive permissions, Zscaler analysis finds

    In the economy of mobile apps, you are less a consumer of software than consumed by it. That’s according to security firm Zscaler that has analysed the surprisingly intrusive permissions demanded by many popular Google App store apps before they will allow a download to start.

  2. The EFF’s New App Is Android-Only, As Organization Calls Out Apple For “Outrageous” Developer Terms

    Non-profit digital rights organization EFF rolled out a new mobile application this morning, which allows users to more easily access the group’s “action center” from their smartphone. However, the new app is only being made available to Android users, the EFF explains, because the group has issues with Apple’s Developer Agreement. The EFF says it could not agree to its terms, which it calls “outrageous” and “bad for developers and users alike.”

Links 10/1/2015: Mirantis OpenStack 6.0, Linux Mint 17.1 KDE, Linux Leap Second

Posted in News Roundup at 11:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Censorship

    • In Solidarity With a Free Press: Some More Blasphemous Cartoons

      Defending free speech and free press rights, which typically means defending the right to disseminate the very ideas society finds most repellent, has been one of my principal passions for the last 20 years: previously as a lawyer and now as a journalist. So I consider it positive when large numbers of people loudly invoke this principle, as has been happening over the last 48 hours in response to the horrific attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

    • Who’s Afraid of Wikileaks? Missed Opportunities in Political Science Research

      Leaked information, such as WikiLeaks’ Cablegate, constitutes a unique and valuable data source for researchers interested in a wide variety of policy-oriented topics. Yet political scientists have avoided using leaked information in their research. This article argues that we can and should use leaked information as a data source in scholarly research. First, I consider the methodological, ethical, and legal challenges related to the use of leaked information in research, concluding that none of these present serious obstacles. Second, I show how political scientists can use leaked information to generate novel and unique insights about political phenomena using a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods. Specifically, I demonstrate how leaked documents reveal important details about the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, and how leaked diplomatic cables highlight a significant disparity between the U.S. government’s public attitude towards traditional knowledge and its private behavior.

    • Unmournable Bodies

      Rather than posit that the Paris attacks are the moment of crisis in free speech—as so many commentators have done—it is necessary to understand that free speech and other expressions of liberté are already in crisis in Western societies; the crisis was not precipitated by three deranged gunmen. The U.S., for example, has consolidated its traditional monopoly on extreme violence, and, in the era of big data, has also hoarded information about its deployment of that violence. There are harsh consequences for those who interrogate this monopoly. The only person in prison for the C.I.A.’s abominable torture regime is John Kiriakou, the whistle-blower. Edward Snowden is a hunted man for divulging information about mass surveillance. Chelsea Manning is serving a thirty-five-year sentence for her role in WikiLeaks. They, too, are blasphemers, but they have not been universally valorized, as have the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo.

    • Another Day, Another Bogus Set Of DMCA Takedowns Based Solely On Keywords (This Time Hiding Legit GitHub Projects)

      For many years we’ve seen DMCA takedowns that were clearly based on little more than quick keyword searches. There are so many of these cases that it’s difficult to keep track of them, but a few examples: Fox demanded a takedown of an article on the SF Chronicle’s website… because Fox owns the rights to the movie Chronicle. Some companies, like LeakID seemed to specialize in sketchy takedowns based on just keywords and not actually looking at the content. A story getting attention on Headline News (with followup from TorrentFreak) details just the latest example.

    • We Are Not All Charlie

      The police are evacuating the Gare du Nord station in Paris as my train from Brussels arrives; a suspicious package, I learned later. The rain is coming down quite hard. I resist the urge to interview my taxi driver about the current mood.

      [...]

      I wish President Obama had not said this, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the Holocaust is an historical fact, and church desecrations are physical crimes against property; neither vandalism nor the denial of historical reality compare to the mocking of unprovable religious beliefs. (And yes, I find attacks on the principles of my faith painful, but I would defend the right of people to make such attacks; I’m opposed, for instance, to the criminalization of Holocaust denial.)

      Mainly, Obama’s statement is troubling because it should be the role of the president of the United States, who swears an oath to defend the Constitution, to explain to the world the principle that free speech is sacred—painful, sometimes, but sacred. If the future does not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam—in other words, to people who speak freely and offensively—then it belongs to those who would suppress by force any criticism of religion. This is not an American idea, and it certainly isn’t Charlie.

    • Every geek is Charlie

      Terrorism isn’t just performing a terrifying act. It’s provoking society’s immune system into attacking itself, making its defense systems attack the values and people they are supposed to be defending. Terrorism is like an autoimmune disorder of democracy. When we focus on the violence instead of the subtlety of the infection, it is easy to succumb as it seeks to provoke us into destroying ourselves.

    • Danish mosque doubles down on Isis support

      In a newly-aired documentary, leaders of the Grimhøj Mosque said that they want to see Isis win, that a Danish suicide bomber is a hero and that they do not believe in democracy.

    • Saudi Arabia: Free Speech Doesn’t Apply Here

      Just two days after issuing a condemnation of the terror attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, the government of Saudi Arabia began carrying out a public flogging against blogger Raif Badawi, who in May was sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam.

    • Charlie Hebdo – Defending Freedom of Speech

      The horrifying murders of cartoonists at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris have been a grim start to the new year. In our connected world we hear of atrocities all the time. But the thought that people are willing to deliberately target freedom of speech has been particularly chilling. This is at the heart of our society – the freedom to debate, criticise, laugh, disagree, be angry, fall out and make up again.

      [...]

      To me if the attack was about destroying freedom of speech our response has to be really acting to protect it. Stop default web blocking. Encourage democratic debate. Question regimes that oppose freedom even if they happen to be allies like Saudi Arabia. Stop casual police monitoring of social media. Resist knee jerk reactions to tabloid fear headlines.

  • Privacy

    • Spanish Judge Says Use Of ‘Extreme Security Measures’ For Email Is Evidence Of Terrorism

      After a series of moves that include introducing copyright laws that threaten the digital commons and open access, as well as criminalizing online calls for street demonstrations, Spain is fast emerging as a serious rival to Russia when it comes to grinding down the digital world. Unfortunately, it seems that lack of understanding extends to the judiciary too, as shown by recent events reported by Rise Up, an “autonomous body based in Seattle”, which aims to provide secure and private email accounts for “people and groups working on liberatory social change”.

    • UK Intelligence Boss: We Had All This Info And Totally Failed To Prevent Charlie Hebdo Attack… So Give Us More Info

      What’s especially sickening about this is that this argument “works” for surveillance state opportunists whether they succeed or fail. If they actually do stop terrorist threats (and in the same speech Parker claims they have stopped a few planned attacks in “recent months” but fails to provide any details), they use that to claim that the surveillance works and they need to do more. Yet when they fail to stop an attack — as in the Charlie Hebdo case — they don’t say it’s because the surveillance failed, instead, it’s because they didn’t have enough data or enough powers to collect more data. In other words, succeed or fail, the argument is always the same: give us more access to more private data.

    • PEN America: “The Harm Caused by Surveillance…is Unmistakable”

      PEN America published a report this week summarizing the findings from a recent survey of 772 writers around the world on questions of surveillance and self-censorship. The report, entitled “Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers,” builds upon a late 2013 survey of more than 500 US-based writers conducted by the organization.

    • Media Matters staff: Fox Guest Suggests A “Muhammad Law,” Similar To Megan’s Law, To Monitor Muslims Who Support Sharia
    • Cloud App Policy Violations Are a Growing Concern

      The January 2015 Netskope Cloud Report shows an increasing use of cloud applications by enterprises.

      The race to the cloud is continuing to accelerate, with more cloud apps than ever now being used by enterprises, according to the January 2015 Netskope Cloud Report.

    • A sober Snowden deems life in Russia ‘great’

      “They talk about Russia like it’s the worst place on earth. Russia’s great,” the former NSA contractor told journalist James Bamford during an interview in Moscow for the PBS program “NOVA,” which released a transcript of the conversation Thursday.

    • At CES, privacy is a growing business

      Whenever I say the word “privacy” to many of the presenters at International CES, there’s a little sigh before they answer. The thing to get excited about at this year’s show, after all, is the connection of everything to the internet, so you can track how much energy your lightbulbs use or how you hold your toothbrush.

  • Civil Rights

    • How Did TV News Talk About Torture in Coverage of the Torture Report?

      Indeed, as the study explains, “Representatives of human rights groups and experts on international law were notable for their absence.” Out of the 104 guests surveyed in the study, only two lawyers who represented torture victims–Joseph Margulies (12/9/14) and Meg Satterthwaite (12/14/14)–appeared as part of the torture discussion. This was perhaps the closest the media got to emphasizing human rights.

    • Responding to terrorism

      This was without doubt intended as an act of terrorism. But I refuse to be terrorised and decline the opportunity to hate. What does that mean practically? Terrorism is like a pernicious auto-immune disease to which it is easy to succumb. It seeks to provoke us into destroying ourselves.

    • White House Responds To Petition About Aaron Swartz By Saying Absolutely Nothing

      Soon after the unfortunate suicide of Aaron Swartz, a lot of anger was directed at Carmen Ortiz, the US Attorney who was the key figure behind the ridiculous prosecution of Swartz for daring to download too many documents (that he had legal access to, as did anyone connecting to MIT’s network). Ortiz showed no concern at all that either she or her office had done anything improper in threatening Swartz with over 30 years in jail for downloading (legally) some academic papers. As a result some people set up one of those “We the People” White House petitions, asking the Obama administration to remove Ortiz from her job.

    • Non-lethal force is still abuse: Police officers tackle, cuff Tamir Rice’s sister in her moment of grief

      Cleveland city officials have released a video showing police officers tackling the 14-year-old sister of Tamir Rice in the moments after officer Timothy Loehmann fatally shot her 12-year-old brother. In the footage, Rice’s sister can be seen running to the scene. As she approaches, an officer forcefully brings her to the ground. Another officer approaches and continues to hold her down. She’s handcuffed and put into the back seat of the patrol car. Loehmann, meanwhile, stands idly nearby Rice’s bleeding, dying body.

    • No to Securitarian Instrumentalisation

      Without even waiting for the end of investigations on the despicable attack against Charlie Hebdo on January 7th, the government is set on increasing counter-terrorist arsenal, first by notifying Brussels the decree implementing “terrorists” or child pornography websites blockade but also by announcing new counter-terrorism measures. La Quadrature du Net calls on citizens to reject this absurd escalation and show determination in defending the freedom of expression and information.

    • Obama & Counterterror: The Ignored Record

      As he has in matters of environmental protection, immigration reform, and normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba, Obama can take significant steps under his executive authority, without the need for legislation. These would include allowing criminal investigation of the officials who authorized the CIA’s torture, shutting Guantánamo, ending the military commissions, announcing clear rules for drone use, and embracing effective limits on intrusions into privacy by electronic surveillance. With his legacy at stake, it is still not too late for Obama to demonstrate that our security indeed does not depend on abandoning our rights.

    • Government wants to know potential Sterling jurors’ opinions about whistleblowers

      “Do you have any positive or negative beliefs or opinions regarding the term ‘whistleblower’ or individuals who act in the role of a ‘whistleblower’?” the government wants to have Judge Leonie Brinkema ask potential jurors in CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling’s trial next week. “Do you have any opinion, favorable or unfavorable, about organizations or individuals who release to the public government documents and information without authorization, including the news media, government employees, or private persons?” the government offered as another proposed question for jurors.

      Sterling, meanwhile, is more interested in what potential jurors think of Condoleezza Rice. As National Security Adviser, she convinced the New York Times not to publish James Risen’s story on Operation Merlin, the dubious plot to deal Iran flawed nuclear blueprints. Prosecutors had wanted to submit the talking points she used to do so, without calling her to testify, but Judge Brinkema ruled that Rice would have to take the stand to enter those talking points. The government objects to questions specifically directed to opinions about Rice, finding it “inflammatory.”

    • Markings of a Citizen

      I saw the gravity of the whole situation. The huge amount of trust that Edward had to make towards Glenn Greenwald and Laura to be able to get the information out in a right way by adhering to the CHARACTERS that Mr. Greenwald and Ms. Poitras have consistently portrayed with immense integrity. More so the fact that Glenn and Laura had no idea who Mr. Snowden was or if he was even telling the truth. In typical spy-novel fashion, Ed could have been the bait to trap some journalists being thorns in somebody’s side.

    • James Clapper’s Dystopian Novel about North Korea’s Hack

      I noted the other day how centrally James Clapper foregrounded his recent trip to North Korea in his discussion of the alleged North Korean hack of Sony. Now that the transcript is up, I see the trip was even more central in his discussion than reports had indicated. After noting that Jim Comey (whom he called “the senior expert on the investigative side of cybersecurity”) and Admiral Mike Rogers (whom he called “the senior expert on how cybersecurity ops actually happen”) would say more in following speeches, Clapper launched into a description of his trip, as if it were central to the discussion of the hack.

    • Australian special forces work with Iraqi security group accused of killing prisoners, torture

      Australian Special Forces in Iraq are working with an elite Iraqi security force accused of killing prisoners and other human rights violations.

      Prime Minister Tony Abbott has confirmed that the 200-strong Australian Special Operations Task Group in Iraq has begun providing “training and assistance” for the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) in its battle against Islamic State.

      Military experts regard the service as the most capable and resilient element of the Iraqi security forces. However, former Australian defence intelligence officers say the service has “unquestionably been responsible for major war crimes and unnecessary civilian casualties”.

    • China uses long-range intimidation of U.S. reporter to suppress Xinjiang coverage

      The Chinese government has imprisoned the three brothers of a Washington-based reporter for Radio Free Asia, apparently intensifying its suppression of free speech and coverage of the troubled province of Xinjiang.

      Ethnic Uighur journalist Shohret Hoshur left China in 1994, after he ran into trouble with the authorities for his reporting. He has since become a U.S. citizen and a mainstay of Radio Free Asia’s coverage of Xinjiang, offering one of the only independent sources of information about events in the province.

    • Feds won’t call Risen at leak trial

      Federal prosecutors won’t call New York Times reporter James Risen as a witness at a leak trial set to get underway next week for one of his alleged confidential sources, several people close to the situation said.

      The decision appears to bring to an end a six-year battle to get him to provide testimony against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who is facing ten felony charges in connection with alleged disclosures to Risen about an operation aimed at undermining Iran’s nuclear program.

    • Mexican Students Didn’t Just ‘Disappear’

      The forced disappearance of 43 students from a rural teachers college in Mexico has catapulted the security crisis that the US’s southern neighbors are living into northern headlines. However, the majority of English-language news accounts have failed to provide a deeper context concerning the failed war on drugs and the use of forced disappearances as a repressive state tactic, and employ language that often criminalizes the disappeared students.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • New year brings new hope for Net neutrality supporters

      FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler reverses course, makes a strong statement in support of Title II regulation and against fast lanes

    • Only 25Mbps and up will qualify as broadband under new FCC definition

      FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today is proposing to raise the definition of broadband from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream to 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up.

      As part of the Annual Broadband Progress Report mandated by Congress, the Federal Communications Commission has to determine whether broadband “is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.” The FCC’s latest report, circulated by Wheeler in draft form to fellow commissioners, “finds that broadband is not being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion, especially in rural areas, on Tribal lands, and in US Territories,” according to a fact sheet the FCC provided to Ars.

    • Hey Everyone, CISPA Is Back… Because Of The Sony Hack, Which It Wouldn’t Have Prevented

      This isn’t a huge surprise, but Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the NSA’s personal Rep in Congress (NSA HQ is in his district), has announced that he’s bringing back CISPA, the cybersecurity bill designed to make it easier for the NSA to access data from tech companies (that’s not how the bill’s supporters frame it, but that’s the core issue in the bill). In the past, Ruppersberger had a teammate in this effort, Rep. Mike Rogers, but Rogers has moved onto his new career as a radio and TV pundit (CNN just proudly announced hiring him), so Ruppersberger is going it alone this time around.

    • The Switchboard: A controversial cybersecurity bill, CISPA, is back

      House Dem revives major cyber bill. The Hill reports: “The measure — known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) — has been a top legislative priority for industry groups and intelligence officials, who argue the country cannot properly defend critical infrastructure without it.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • TTIP Update XLVII

      As long-suffering readers of this column will have noticed, the dominant theme of the discussions around TTIP so far has been the investor-state dispute settlement provisions (ISDS). We are still waiting for the European Commission’s analysis of the massive response to its consultation on the subject – it will be fascinating to see how it tries to put a positive spin on the overwhelming public refusal of ISDS in TTIP.

      The issue that crops up most often after ISDS is probably transparency – or rather the almost complete lack of it. Yes, it’s true that there have been some token releases of documents: initial position papers in 2013, and some more in 2014; but these don’t really tell us much that we didn’t already know, or could guess. The main obstacle to greater openness was Karel De Gucht, the European Commissioner for Trade when TTIP was launched. As he showed time and again during the ACTA fiasco, he had little but contempt for the European public and its unconscionable desire to know what the politicians whose salaries it pays are up to in Brussels. That made his retirement at the end of last year an important opportunity to bring more openness to trade negotiations.

    • Copyrights

      • Authors Guild Gives Up Trying To Sue Libraries For Digitally Scanning Book Collection

        Back in June we wrote about how the Second Circuit appeals court totally demolished the Authors Guild’s arguments against a bunch of university libraries for scanning their book collections digitally, in order to enable better searching of the contents. The lawsuit was against Hathitrust, an organization set up to manage the book scanning program for a group of university libraries. In 2012, a district court said that what the libraries/Hathitrust were doing was obviously fair use and the appeals court re-enforced that strongly. The Authors Guild is basically giving up in this case, saying that should the libraries change their practices, it may want to revisit the issue. But for now, it’s giving up the case while “reserving” its position.

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