05.31.15

Supreme Failure: With SCOTUS Approval of Patent Trolls and a Push by Justice Department to Reinforce Copyright on APIs (at SCOTUS Level) the Future Looks Gloomy

Posted in Law, Patents at 4:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

US Supreme Court darkens the future

US Supreme Court

Summary: The patent system goes wild in terms of scope, the nature of the plaintiff (merely purchasing patents), and the extension of patents to monopolies on named APIs (by virtue of deranged interpretation of copyright law)

WE are deeply disturbed to see Federal-level interventions and rulings in favour of the patent industry, including the most parasitic elements of it. People must learn the reality of these injustices and rise up in opposition before it’s too late. The gap between the rich and the poor rapidly widens because of these outrageous moves, which involve passage of ownership, not just physical ownership but also monopoly on simple ideas.

Florian Müller, a booster of Oracle against Android, covered the White House's attack on Android and on software developers, urging the SCOTUS to allow/endorse patentability of APIs (by denying an appeal).

“The gap between the rich and the poor rapidly widens because of these outrageous moves, which involve passage of ownership, not just physical ownership but also monopoly on simple ideas.”The SCOTUS also helps trolls (against Cisco) right now, as demonstrated by a decision that even British patent lawyers are denouncing. “Commentators have picked up on the identity of the patentee,” wrote IP Kat, “a troll/patent assertion entity/non-practicing entity/etc – as being the headline grabber in this case, if only to paint a picture of General Counsel throughout Silicon Valley being on the edge of their seats awaiting this decision. However, the Court’s comments in this respect were limited. The Court said that they were well aware of the industry that had developed in which patents were being used primarily for obtaining licensing fees. Such conduct can create a “harmful tax on innovation”. However, because no issue of frivolity had been raised by the parties in this case the Supreme Court did not comment further, except to reinforce the power that the district courts have in dissuading frivolous cases.”

I personally find the US patent system very intimidating. The rulings are almost always made in favour of Big Business interests; if not soon, then some time later. Based on these two new reports, Samsung now goes further with Android by patenting software. This is a software patent pertaining to computer vision, which is my area of research. It’s all reducible to math and the US allows this math to be patented and monopolised. Yesterday I saw the article “Auction Co. Can’t Shake Suit Over $2M Software Patents”. How can software patents be sold for so much? How can they be sold at all? This beats the purpose (original purpose of the patent system) because patents just become passable weapons. To quote the article: “A California judge on Friday tentatively refused to toss an inventor’s suit alleging an auction company botched its handling of video technology patents she held with her software programmer ex-husband by selling them for vastly less than their $2 million minimum value, ruling the auctioneer had a fiduciary duty to the inventor.”

“The rulings are almost always made in favour of Big Business interests; if not soon, then some time later.”These “handling of video technology patents” are software patents, which again cover math. This is clearly a problem, but groups like the EFF continue losing focus. They should tackle scope of patents, not ‘quality’ of pertinent patents or patent trolls.

Consider this latest post from Adi Kamdar (EFF). “What a waste of resources,” iophk wrote to us. “It is the ability to patent the wrong things that is the core of the problem not ‘bad’ patents or ‘trolls’, though they are also a problem.”

Kamdar wrote:

Amidst the clamor of surveillance reform and TPP Fast Track negotiations, Congress is still finding time to work out the kinks of patent reform. One of the big topics of the day: inter partes review (IPR). This procedure lets third parties (like EFF) challenge bad patents (like the one used to go after podcasters).

We joined Engine, Public Knowledge, and R Street in sending a letter [PDF] to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging them to strengthen the IPR procedure, making it more accessible to and a more powerful tool for those of us acting in the public interest.

The EFF is once again wasting its time fighting “bad patents” rather than software patents.

In other news, there’s this new article which talks about copyrights, trademarks and patents collectively, referring to them all as “Intellectual Property”. The part about patents says: “A common question that is often asked by founders is whether they can get their software patented.”

Software as a whole cannot be patented, but parts of it, in few parts of the world, can probably be patented.

The article says: “The short answer to this is “no- software cannot be patented per se,” i.e. a computer program is not independently patentable.” If the Justice Department gets its way, not only part of a program will be a monopoly but also APIs (covered by copyrights). It often seems like everything just gets worse, not better. Maybe this whole patent system (or by extension the so-called ‘IP’ system) needs a revolution and a reset.

McAfee Associates Free Software and Anonymity With Crime

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, Security at 3:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Insecurity firm McAfee, whose record on Free software is appalling (it is Windows-centric for its business), continues years of tradition by slinging mud at Tor

TECHRIGHTS regards and has for many years considered McAfee to be a leading source of FUD against Free software. To give a very recent example, McAfee is connected to the "VENOM" hype (former management), just like Microsoft.

The latest McAfee FUD targets Tor [1-4]. It’s FUD which associates Tor with crime. Framing Tor as a crime tool is like framing kitchen knives as weapons for murder, but this kind of characterisation sure fits the current war against Tor (anonymity). The attack on encryption is also on the rise and much of the British media is now spreading propaganda that associates encryption with terrorism. A recent movie that I watched, The Imitation Game, shrewdly associates encryption with the Nazis.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. ‘Tox’ Offers Ransomware As A Service

    The ransomware is free to use but site retains 20 percent of any ransom that is collected, McAfee researcher says.

  2. Almost anyone can make ransomware with this horrifying new program

    We might be entering a whole new era of malware, one where even those who lack any semblance of deep technical expertise will be able to acquire and disseminate viruses and the like on the fly.

  3. Yay for Tor! It’s given us RANSOMWARE-as-a-service
  4. Open Source Malware Lets Anyone Hold Computer Users to Ransom

    A free collection of files has been discovered that aids in the creation of ransomware; the process of encrypting the contents of someone’s computer until they pay to have it unlocked. Set your price and away you go.

05.30.15

The EPO Still Wastes Public Money on Publicity Stunts and ‘Reputation Management’ Campaigns

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Escaping a crisis by bribing and attacking the media

Escape key

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) is misusing public funds to manufacture self-congratulatory publicity for itself whilst attacking those who write negative commentary

THE publicity stunts from the EPO are not shocking to us. We already know that the EPO wastes a lot of public money on paid placements ('articles') which disgrace scientific publications (fake staff testimonials), not to mention how the EPO wasted money to harass the press and its very own staff (real staff, not fake staff).

“EPO management has the pervasive illusion of omnipotence; its behaviour proves that it thinks it can do whatever it wants.”In an effort to deal with some core issues Merpel looks into the financial state of the EPO, whose management likes to pretend self-sufficiency (rather than exploitation of taxpayers as unwilling subsidisers, often directly harmed by the EPO’s actions).

“Having been returned to blogging duty,” Merpel refers to herself as a third person (as usual), she “has turned her attention to the finances of the European Patent Office. She wrote about this last year, examining the 2013 financial report of the EPO, and concluded that it was not possible to establish with any confidence, or in any degree of detail, what the true financial position actually is.”

Merpel’s colleague Darren Smyth has meanwhile slammed this latest EPO publicity stunt, which it calls “European Inventor Award”. Smyth writes:

Whatever the European Inventor Award is, it is certainly not “to grant European patents”. So this Kat’s first gripe is that the event seems completely ultra vires in respect of what the EPO is actually supposed to be doing. National patent offices may have a wider mandate to foster innovation, to promote intellectual property generally, and to raise the profile of patenting, but the EPO most emphatically does not. At best, it is a distraction, and an apparently costly one at that, from the EPO’s legally defined role.

But this Kat thinks that it is worse than that. The European Inventor Award is about ranking inventions. Publicly proclaiming that one invention (the winner) has more merit than others (the runners up and those that were not even nominated). This is actually contrary to the EPO’s role as a body that grants patents, in which role (its only legally ceded role) it is bound to judge any invention against the objective standards of novelty and inventive step, irrespective of merit with respect to any other invention. Others are free to opine that one invention is “better” or has more worth than another, but the EPO should be quite disinterested in this. Its involvement with such an event tarnishes its objectivity.

[...]

The European Inventor Award is at best an expensive distraction, and at worse a dangerous compromise of principle.

This is probably the least worrisome among the EPO’s wasteful uses of its budget. In a matter of days we are going to write more about how EPO management attacks the media (to force it to only say nice things about the EPO, or nothing a all). EPO management has the pervasive illusion of omnipotence; its behaviour proves that it thinks it can do whatever it wants. It is this arrogance and resultant abuse that a vast number of EPO employees are protesting against. The EPO should be held accountable by its shareholders, i.e. the European public, but EPO management is now greedy and self-serving to the extreme.

“The European Patent Office is an executive organisation, it deals especially with patent applicants, as such, its view of the world may be biased. As an executive organisation, its interpretative powers are very limited. The European Patent Convention excludes computer programs, it is outside the EPO’s power to change this.”

Ante Wessels

The Lessons of Stuxnet: Never Use Microsoft Windows

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 4:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The NSA is playing with nukes

Missiles

Summary: Windows is sufficiently ‘NSA-compatible’ for remote compromise and physical damage (sabotage) to highly sensitive, high-risk equipment

MANY news reports from around Friday [1-13] made it abundantly clear that Stuxnet, an Israel- and US-made virus that targets Microsoft Windows, was deployed not only in Iran (which uses Windows and Microsoft Linux) but also deployed (albeit unsuccessfully) in North Korea.

It is worth noting that Stuxnet was developed not only in the US but also in Israel and much of Microsoft’s software development for ‘security’ is also done in Israel, so it might not detect Stuxnet (by design).

“Imagine the media reaction if some nation’s government tried to install viruses in nuclear facilities in the US…”News from North Korea should remind any nation with military facilities (that’s about every nation on Earth) to dodge Microsoft Windows. Turkey, for instance, reportedly moved its army to GNU/Linux and several other nations make similar moves for security reasons. In order to explain North Korea’s resistance to the infection some corporation media likes to highlight “near-complete isolation” (see below) rather than reliance on GNU/Linux. The ToryGraph (see below) calls Stuxnet a “computer virus” even through it is uniquely a Microsoft Windows virus. Imagine the media reaction if some nation’s government tried to install viruses in nuclear facilities in the US…

This is by no means defence of North Korea; it’s just that the story makes is abundantly clear that, Microsoft’s special relationship with the NSA aside, Windows is a target. Even Western governments target it. The NSA habitually said that it worried about attacks on its electric grid while hypocritically enough it is attacking nuclear facilities in other countries, never mind the risk of “blowback” or the “fallout” (pun intended) such aggressive actions may consequently bring. Pentagon would label this an “act of [cyber] war”.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. NSA eggheads tried to bork Nork nukes with Stuxnet. It failed – report

    The NSA tried to wreck North Korea’s nuclear weapons lab using the centrifuge-knackering malware Stuxnet, and ultimately failed, multiple intelligence sources claim.

  2. Pyongyang 1, NSA 0: U.S. Tried and Failed to Hack North Korea’s Nuclear Infrastructure

    By almost completely shutting itself off from the rest of the world, the North Korean government has denied its people and society access to the fruits of the digital communications revolution. It has also reportedly helped stymie a U.S. cyberattack on the country’s nuclear infrastructure modeled on the so-called Stuxnet virus the United States and Israel used against Iranian centrifuges.

  3. The NSA reportedly tried — but failed — to use a Stuxnet variant against North Korea

    Right around the time that the Stuxnet attack so famously sabotaged Iran’s nuclear program in 2009 and 2010, the U.S. National Security Agency reportedly was trying something similar against North Korea.

    The NSA-led U.S. effort used a version of the Stuxnet virus designed to be activated by Korean-language computer settings, but it ultimately failed to sabotage North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, according to a Friday Reuters report, which attributed the information to people familiar with the campaign.

  4. NSA tried Stuxnet cyber-attack on North Korea five years ago but failed

    The US tried to deploy a version of the Stuxnet computer virus to attack North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme five years ago but ultimately failed, according to people familiar with the covert campaign.

  5. Report: US tried Stuxnet variant on N. Korean nuke program, failed
  6. US tried to bring down North Korean missile programme with computer virus
  7. Report: U.S. failed to sabotage North Korean nuclear program with Stuxnet-twin
  8. Report: US cyberattack on North Korea was ineffective
  9. Why Did a US Cyber Attack on North Korea Fail?
  10. US Tried, Failed To Sabotage North Korea Nuclear Weapons Program With Stuxnet-Style Cyber Attack
  11. US Reportedly Launched Stuxnet Attack Against North Korea
  12. US Failed at Planting Stuxnet-Style Computer Bug in N. Korea Nuke Program
  13. US reportedly tried to destroy North Korea’s nuclear program with a Stuxnet-type virus

Links 30/5/2015: Wine 1.7.44, Berry Linux 1.20

Posted in News Roundup at 4:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Save server admin time and money with these two open source solutions

    Fortunately, an open-source solution exists that does not require a monthly fee. That solution is Webmin, which, like competing closed-source products, allows users to configure and control various applications, such as the Apache HTTP Server, PHP, MySQL, Dovecot, SpamAssassin, ClamAV, and others, without needing to use command-line configuration of these disparate products.

  • GNU guru slams Windows, OS X, popular apps as malware

    Microsoft Windows and Apple’s operating systems are malware because they “snoop and shackle” users, GNU creator Richard Stallman said in an opinion piece published in The Guardian.

  • 2 Geeks Invent Technology that Thwarts the NSA

    COMMUNITY CUBE is an open source initiative dedicated to protecting the privacy and security of online citizens around the world. We design, build and distribute technological solutions that protect email, web browsing, data storage and social media activity in a safe, affordable and easy to use manner.

  • Richard Stallman and Phil Zimmerman underline key concerns with tech sector

    Two of technology’s most pioneering developers have strongly criticised the current state of the industry, warning that the right to encryption is doomed and that users are exploited by the software that they use.
    Open sourcerer Richard Stallman has painted a very bleak picture of today’s technology and communications environment, describing proprietary software as “malware”.

    Stallman, the founder of the free software movement, perhaps not surprisingly has a very jaundiced view of proprietary software, and of Microsoft Windows especially.

  • A fight is brewing over ads in the ‘open-source Photoshop’

    It’s an accusation that SourceForge quickly refuted, with its public response titled “GIMP-Win project wasn’t hijacked, just abandoned.” As far as it’s concerned, the project was dumped more than 18 months ago, and SourceForge charitably “stepped-in to keep this project current.” The rebuttal also claims that previous concerns over misleading third-party ads were discussed and addressed well before this controversy began.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Considering Hadoop? Evaluate Apache Drill Along With It

      MapR Technologies, which focuses on Apache Hadoop, recently announced the general availability of Apache Drill 1.0 in the MapR Distribution. Drill, which we’ve covered before, delivers self-service SQL analytics without requiring pre-defined schema definitions, dramatically reducing the time required for business analysts to explore and understand data.

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Libre Office comes to Android

      The Document Foundation has released a version of Libre Office for Android.

      The new app allows users to read and edit documents. The Document Foundation bills the app as a “Viewer” with “experimental … basic editing capabilities, like modifying words in existing paragraphs and changing font styles such as bold and italic.”

      Viewing documents will also feel like an experiment for many users: when Vulture South tried the app it dumped us into a listing of our Galaxy S5′s directories and offered no depiction of the phone’s internal storage or secondary SD card. Nor does the app integrate with the cloud storage services to which we subscribe.

  • CMS

    • Dynamically static

      Since 26th December 2005, I’ve been runnning this blog with WordPress. At the time there were little alternatives and finally I had got hold of a host (Dreamhost, at the time) that supported PHP and MySQL without being overly restrictive. 10 years later, things have somehow changed.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU FISICALAB 0.3.5

      I’m glad to announce the release of version 0.3.5 of GNU FisicaLab, this is a feature release. FisicaLab (can be pronounced as PhysicsLab) is an educational application to solve physics problems. Its main objective is let the user to focus in physics concepts, leaving aside the mathematical details

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Why aren’t you using github?
    • Announcing GitTorrent: A Decentralized GitHub

      I’ve been working on building a decentralized GitHub, and I’d like to talk about what this means and why it matters — and more importantly, show you how it can be done and real GitTorrent code I’ve implemented so far.

    • PHP version 5.5.26RC1 and 5.6.10RC1

      Release Candidate versions are available in remi-test repository for Fedora and Enterprise Linux (RHEL / CentOS) to allow more people to test them. They are only available as Software Collections, for a parallel installation, perfect solution for such tests.

Leftovers

  • ‘Farewell, readers’: Alan Rusbridger on leaving the Guardian after two decades at the helm

    This, if you’re reading the physical paper – which, of course, you are not – is my last edition as editor. In just over 20 years we have put nearly 7,500 papers “to bed”, as almost no one says nowadays. At some point in the 24-hour, seamlessly rolling digital news cycle, you’ll have a new editor. I will have slipped away and my successor, Katharine Viner, will have materialised at the helm.

  • Bangert: Awkward … Ed reform called out at Purdue

    Maryann Santos de Barona, dean of Purdue University’s College of Education for the past six years, was at the front of a Stewart Center meeting room May 14 for one of those death-by-PowerPoint presentations. From among her dozens of slides, the dean was showing the university’s trustees a sinking trend line of undergraduates enrolled in Purdue’s teacher education program.

  • Pakistani CEO arrested for selling degrees from “Barkley” and “Columbiana”

    The CEO of a Pakistani company called Axact, which called itself the country’s largest software exporter, was arrested yesterday in Karachi. Axact and its CEO, Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh, are accused of running a global network of selling fake diplomas.

  • Stuxnet

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Why did the US Army ship live anthrax?

      US military officials revealed Wednesday that the Army bioweapons laboratory at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah shipped live anthrax samples to 18 facilities in nine US states, as well as to a US military base in South Korea.

    • China doesn’t recognize ‘illegal’ McMahon Line: Beijing responds to NSA Ajit Doval

      Sticking to its stand that McMahon Line on India-China boundary is “illegal”, China said on Monday it is ready to work with India to resolve the vexed border issue at an early date through “friendly consultations” to create more favourable conditions for bilateral ties.

    • Assange: UK Media Silent on Trident Leaks Due to Self-Censorship
    • ​Trident nuke safety questioned by Salmond after Navy whistleblower leak

      Alex Salmond has secured time in Parliament on Thursday afternoon to debate claims by a Navy whistleblower that Britain’s Trident nuclear missiles are unsafe and unsecure.

      The MP for Gordon and former Scottish National Party (SNP) leader will question the government on safety at HM Naval Base Clyde, where Trident submarines are based.

      Whistleblower William McNeilly, 25, is currently being held in a secure military base in Scotland. He went AWOL following the publication of his damning report into safety and security at the site.

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has accused the “conspicuously silent” British media of self-censorship over its coverage of the Trident revelations.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Even Before TPP And TTIP, US Already Being Forced To Change Laws By Trade Agreements

      As that makes clear, alongside the fact that it is quite possible that the US will indeed modify its laws here because of a trade agreement, this would be happening even though the laws in question enjoy huge support among the US public. Which shows that trade agreements can not only force laws to be changed, but can do so with absolutely no regard to what the people in whose name they are supposedly negotiated, actually want.

    • How to Prevent the Next Global Recession
    • We Need New Budget Agreement to Reverse Mindless Austerity

      Cuts to affordable housing deny resources to transform clusters of poverty into functioning and sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods and eliminate lead poisoning in communities such as Baltimore, where this preventable and prevalent illness is a contributing factor in the cycle of poverty.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Charter Industry Strong-Arms Public Officials; $3.3 Billion Spent (Part 5)

      The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has pledged to tighten controls of its quarter-billion-dollar-a-year charter schools program—a program repeatedly criticized by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for waste and inadequate financial controls, as CMD has helped document in this special report series.

    • The Press And Bernie Sanders

      As the Vermont liberal spreads his income equality campaign message, the press corps seems unsure of how to cover him. In the month since he announced his bid, Sanders’ coverage seems to pale in comparison to comparable Republican candidates who face an arduous task of obtaining their party’s nomination. The reluctance is ironic, since the D.C. press corps for months brayed loudly about how Hillary Clinton must face a primary challenger. Now she has one and the press can barely feign interest?

    • Why The Media Ignores Jeremy Hammond While Praising Edward Snowden

      Jeremy Hammond’s hack of Stratfor, a corporate intelligence agency, created global solidarity by revealing how the 1% targets activists worldwide.

  • Censorship

    • Did the New Statesman censor its censorship issue?

      Now, Spiegelman has accused the magazine of censoring him. In a post on his Facebook page, Spiegelman says that he pulled the special cover he had drawn for the magazine at the last minute after the magazine went back on an agreement to include his ‘First Amendment Fundamentalist’ full-page cartoon. The cartoon in question referenced the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists.

    • A summer break from campus muzzling

      The attack on free expression is sinister because it asserts that such freedom is not merely unwise but, in a sense, meaningless. Free speech is more comprehensively and aggressively embattled now than ever before in American history, largely because of two 19th-century ideas. One is that history — actually, History, a proper noun — has a mind of its own. The other is that most people do not really have minds of their own.

    • 6 June: Artistic censorship in repressive regime

      The panel will be asked to explore from their personal and political perspective different aspects of freedom of expression in repressive regimes; the interface between artistic inspiration and life in repressive regimes, and the role of the media in terms of raising awareness of the increasing restrictions placed on artists to curb freedom of expression.

    • Anti-Censorship Coalition Backs Steinbeck’s Book
    • Censorship of breasts is misogynistic

      Sexualization of the female body is a man-made concept, a notion that dates far prior to the tantalizing brushstrokes of Picasso’s daring hand. Society’s ingrains the impression that the female body is somehow erotic and must be suppressed in order to prevent adultery and fornication. Instead of placing responsibility on the patrilineal figures, the blame is continually set on women.

    • Nipple censorship: Why are we so afraid of the human body?

      I have nipples.

      As does everyone. So why are we obsessed with hiding them?

      Instagram clarified its nipple rule last week: They are a no-no, but breastfeeding is OK, as are mastectomy scars. Facebook is also anti-nip.

    • Should Authors Shun or Cooperate With Chinese Censors?

      A report by the PEN American Center, which found some books were expurgated by Chinese censors without the authors even knowing it, called on those who want their works published in the lucrative Chinese market to be vigilant, and recommended a set of principles in dealing with publishers.

    • ‘The UK is becoming the world leader in censorship’, says obscenity lawyer following porn ID checks proposal

      Britain is at the cutting-edge of censorship, it has been claimed, as government plans to implement ID-based age checks for pornography websites gather pace.

    • UK pornography industry proposes user ID checks for adult websites

      Britons may soon face identity checks to access adult material on the internet, according to discussions between Whitehall and the private sector.

      A scheme proposed by the pornography industry would see adult sites verifying visitors’ identity with organisations such as banks, credit reference agencies or even the NHS.

    • Free porn sites in the UK could be subject to age checks
    • UK porn laws might mean ID checks with the post office
    • Will User ID Verification Proposed By UK Pornography Industry Come To The US?
    • The onslaught of Internet porn
    • Government plans pose serious risk to free expression

      The new UK government’s plans to tackle extremism and introduce a British bill of rights, as outlined in the Queen’s Speech on 27 May, raise the stakes significantly for freedom of expression in the United Kingdom.

    • Scholar takes a dim view of haredi censors

      Last week, after Israel’s new cabinet ministers posed for a photographer, the picture appeared in a popular news site and a newspaper serving the country’s haredi, or fervently Orthodox, community. There was, however, a notable alteration: The faces of the three women cabinet ministers were blurred out, apparently for the sake of “modesty.”

    • Film censorship in China

      A group of Chinese filmmakers, scholars and curators discuss independent filmmaking in China and the government’s crackdown on independent film festivals in recent years

    • Muhammad Cartoon Ad Blocked From D.C. Buses and Train Stations

      The mass transit authority that oversees commuter buses and trains in the nation’s capital is banning issue-oriented ads for the remainder of the year after receiving an ad proposal featuring a cartoon of Muhammad, Islam’s central figure.

      The cartoon is a sketch by artist Bosch Fawstin of a turban-wearing, sword-wielding man saying “You can’t draw me!” It won a “draw Muhammad” contest in Garland, Texas, that was unsuccessfully attacked by Muslim-American roommates earlier this month.

      The ads would have sported a banner saying “Support Free Speech.”

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • U.S. removes Cuba from list of terrorism sponsors
    • “Pretrial Punishment”: Julian Assange Remains in Ecuadorean Embassy Fearing Arrest If He Leaves

      Five years ago this week, U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning was arrested in Kuwait and charged with leaking classified information. Weeks later, WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of internal logs from the war in Afghanistan. It was one of the largest leaks in U.S. military history. Major articles ran in The New York Times, Guardian, Der Spiegel and other outlets. Chelsea Manning, then known as Bradley, and Julian Assange soon became household names. While Manning was sentenced to 35 years in jail, Assange has been living for the past three years inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has political asylum. Assange faces investigations in both Sweden and the United States. Here in the United States, a secret grand jury is investigating WikiLeaks for its role in publishing leaked Afghan and Iraq war logs and State Department cables. In Sweden, Assange is wanted for questioning on allegations of sexual misconduct, though no charges have been filed. “Look at Thomas Drake, for example, NSA whistleblower … The pretrial process was both the deterrent, the general deterrent, and it was the penalty,” Assange said. “And the same thing is happening here in the WikiLeaks process, where we have no rights as a defendant because the formal trial hasn’t started yet. The same thing has happened with me here in this embassy in relation to the Swedish case: no charges, no trial, no ability to defend yourself, don’t even have a right to documents, because you’re not even a defendant.”

    • Julian Assange on NSA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Secretive Deal, and Europe’s Secret Plan for Military Force on Refugee Boats from Libya.
    • VIDEO: Julian Assange on NSA, TPP, British Nukes, Libyan Refugees and His Struggle for Freedom

      In an hourlong discussion on “Democracy Now!” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says that the NSA can continue to spy on Americans in spite of legislation coming out of Congress and that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is about corporate control.

    • Real Democracy Promotion: Lord Acton and Tom Clancy vs John Yoo

      This currently anti-democratic system can likely be traced to a couple of weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks, when a top secret memo was written by Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) Attorney John Yoo, (who would also write the “torture memo” a year later). The OLC memo stated, among other things: “First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully. ‘When a nation is at war, many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.’” This OLC opinion–see full article by retired Army Major Todd Pierce–claimed authority of the President as the Commander in Chief to use the military both inside and outside of the U.S., and was probably the authority for the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) military operation within the U.S., spying on Americans.

    • Dallas PD Guts Specifics From Citizen Recording Policy, Leaving Only Vague Reminder To Respect Pre-Existing Rights

      It shouldn’t need to come to this, but the Dallas Police Department has finally issued a policy related to citizen photography. There are many reasons law enforcement agencies need to remind officers of the right to record, but the Dallas PD may have needed a bit more of a nudge after a Texas legislator tried (unsuccessfully) to impose additional restrictions on citizen recordings — like a 25-foot “halo” around working officers, supposedly for their safety.

    • New Dallas Police Photo Rights Policy Way Too Vague, Photographers Say

      The Dallas Police Department has officially released a new general order that’s meant to inform officers on photographers’ rights. The document, titled “Public Recording of Official Acts,” warns officers that they cannot interfere with a person photographing or filming their activities as long as the recording is being done in an appropriate way.

    • Man Threatens Suicide, Police Kill Him

      On May 11, Justin Way was drinking and threatening to hurt himself. His father, George Way, said his son was a recovering alcoholic and had been alcohol-free for five weeks.

      “He just lost his job, and he had a setback,” he said.

      Way’s live-in girlfriend, Kaitlyn Christine Lyons, said she’d caught Justin drinking a bottle of vodka, which she took away from him to pour out. She said he was drunk, lying in their bed with a large knife, saying he would hurt himself with it. She called a non-emergency number in an attempt to get her boyfriend to a local St. Augustine, Florida, hospital for help—and told them she did not feel threatened.

      “My brother has been Baker Acted three times because he was threatening to hurt himself so I figured that would happen with Justin,” said Lyons. Florida’s Baker Act allows the involuntary institutionalization of an individual, and it can be initiated by law enforcement officials.

      “The only person Justin threatened was himself and I honestly don’t think he wanted to die.”

      Minutes later, two St. Johns County Sheriff’s deputies, 26-year-old Jonas Carballosa and 32-year-old Kyle Braig, arrived at the home, armed with assault rifles, and told Kaitlyn to wait outside.

      “I thought they were going into war,” she remembered thinking when she first saw the large guns. Within moments, Justin was shot dead.

    • Sunk: How Ross Ulbricht ended up in prison for life

      On October 1, 2013, the last day that Ross Ulbricht would be free, he didn’t leave his San Francisco home until nearly 3:00pm. When he did finally step outside, he walked ten minutes to the Bello Cafe on Monterey Avenue but found it full, so he went next door to the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library. There, he sat down at a table by a well-lit window in the library’s small science fiction section and opened his laptop.

      From his spot in the library, Ulbricht, a 29-year-old who lived modestly in a rented room, settled in to his work. Though outwardly indistinguishable from the many other techies and coders working in San Francisco, Ulbricht actually worked the most unusual tech job in the city—he ran the Silk Road, the Internet’s largest drug-dealing website.

    • Silk Road Mastermind Ross Ulbricht Sentenced To Life In Prison

      Ross Ulbricht, the man behind the darkweb drug marketplace known as the Silk Road, has just been sentenced to more imprisonment than he has actual lives: two life sentences and “max sentences on all other charges.” In addition, the government has chosen to hold him financially culpable for every single transaction that occurred at the Silk Road — a fine of $184 million — $166 million of which it has already recouped through the auction of seized Bitcoins.

    • Former House speaker Dennis Hastert indicted by federal grand jury

      J. Dennis Hastert, the longest-serving Republican speaker in the history of the U.S. House, was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges that he violated banking laws in a bid to pay $3.5 million to an unnamed person to cover up “past misconduct.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • After FBI domain expires, seized Megaupload.com serves up porn

        Earlier this week, something suspicious started happening with Web addresses related to sites seized by the FBI from Megaupload and a number of online gambling sites. Instead of directing browsers to a page with an FBI banner, they started dropping Web surfers onto a malicious feed of Web advertisements—some of them laden with malware.

05.29.15

White House Intervention Harms Android and Every Software Developer on the Planet

Posted in Google, Oracle at 7:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fool of the day

Donald Verrilli Jr.
Photo via Wikipedia

Summary: US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli urges the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to let APIs be covered by copyrights, rendering almost every program a potential copyright violation

YESTERDAY we received some disturbing news from iophk, who sent the official page and original material pertaining to Google’s fight against API copyrights — a subject that we covered here before. It’s like an extension of the patent threat to Free software.

“Superficially,” Simon Phipps wrote, “the Solicitor General’s advice to SCOTUS to find against Google and reject its appeal looks like bad news. But there are some substantial straws to grasp” (see the role of the Obama administration and the Justice Department). That is very disturbing because non-technical people, who never wrote a computer program in their entire life, want API monopoly and they are actively interfering with the process of courts of justice, even the highest court, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS).

“People in suits (sometimes with ornaments and white wigs), who obviously don’t know how computers work, always get to decide on what’s allowed and what’s not allowed.”SCOTUS now helps trolls and even says “patent troll”, which means that it knows what it’s doing. Jeff John Roberts from the corporate media which helps trolls (Fortune) wrote: “The term “patent trolls” is controversial, mostly because certain companies object to it. Now, a Supreme Court Justice has embraced it.”

Trolls are going mainstream with help from the top judges. What a corrupt system. It is inherently rigged against Free/libre software, even once it has managed to beat the FUD, the lobbying, etc. People in suits (sometimes with ornaments and white wigs), who obviously don’t know how computers work, always get to decide on what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. They are figureheads because they are influenced behind the scenes. It’s unthinkable, but that’s how it goes.

Marc Andreessen (the man behind Netscape) wrote: “Obama administration to software programmers: Drop dead!”

Even the Microsoft booster from Business Insider (owned in part or at least funded by Marc Andreessen) wrote about it, stating that “Oracle won another battle in its epic war with Google, and the whole computer industry is nervous about it”.

Our reader iophk wrote: “In a foaming at the mouth rabid desire to screw Google for any and all activity they are going to get the rest of us as collateral damage if APIs become copyrightable in the US. It boggles the mind. The very purpose of APIs is violated.”

This is what it looks like when a government is clueless about technology and is lobbied (at times bribed) by large corporations such as Oracle.

Microsoft Lobbying in India Shoots Down or At Least Weakens Free/Libre Software Policy

Posted in Asia, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 7:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bill Gates and Nasscom
Photo from NASSCOM’s Web site

Summary: Microsoft’s covert efforts (lobbying with the help of public partners like NASSCOM) to eliminate an India-leaning software policy in India is finally paying off

After Microsoft lobbying (both directly and by proxy) against Indian sovereignty we seem to have ended up with a watered-down Indian policy, which briefly favoured Free/Open Source software (FOSS). This happened in many nations before (especially in Asia) and given Microsoft’s influence in the Indian government we pretty much expected this to happen once again. Let’s not forget that Microsoft is blackmailing British politicians (as it always did). If Microsoft can do this to the empire which ruled India, why not India too?

“It’s not just Microsoft doing it because one must recall OOXML pressure in India (usually done by proxy, as in this case, via NASSCOM).”The latest article from the corporate media in India (Business Standard in this case) makes it very clear that Microsoft leads in lobbying against the policy which favours Free software. “Government says open source software use not made mandatory” is the headline and Microsoft is all over it:

Business Standard had reported earlier this month that software firms such as Microsoft had expressed concerns over the policy, unveiled in March, as it had a clause that stated use of anything other than open source software had to be justified by the official concerned.

Bhaskar Pramanik, chairman of Microsoft India, had said, “The government needs to be technology-neutral. You should be able to adopt the best technology, the most economical and the most appropriate technology for the problem at hand. Let’s not have biases one way or the other.” Because of this policy, he added, a company might end up choosing a technology solution that’s not the best and this might take the “country back”.

The corporate media is doing it again, relaying Microsoft talking points and using straw man arguments. Microsoft needs to maintain the illusion that it is not fighting FOSS while it actually does fight it. Here’s why we need to watch out. As Sir Humphrey Appleby famously said in Yes Minister: “It is necessary to get behind someone in order to stab them in the back.”

Indian politicians now come out with statements about the FOSS policy which suggest they either got intimidated or bribed by Microsoft et al. It’s not just Microsoft doing it because one must recall OOXML pressure in India (usually done by proxy, as in this case, via NASSCOM). To remind readers what NASSCOM has been doing:

Microsoft “loves Linux” and supports FOSS like BP loves nature and supports wind power.

Propaganda Mode for UPC Agreement Whilst EPO Increasingly Grants Patents on Software

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“They [EPO examiners] claim that the organisation is decentralising and focusing on granting as many patents as possible to gain financially from fees generated.” —Expatica, European Patent Office staff on strike

Summary: In order to make the Unitary Patent a reality (towards a ‘no place to hide’ patent approach) misleading claims are being made

THE EPO is getting away with a lot of misdeeds and corruption, never mind a globalisation effort that removes Europe’s sovereignty in favour of multinational corporations.

There has been some opposition to the UPC Agreement from several large European member states, such as Spain and Italy. Lawyers’ sites are seemingly happy that Italy is giving up after initial opposition about four years ago and it sure looks like UPC is only a matter of time now.

The UPC takes us a step closer to what we call "Global Patent System", as explained here before. This, in due course, may mean software patents in Europe. The UPC Web site rejects that claim by stating:

No, the UPC Agreement doesn’t touch upon the patentability criteria. This will also in the future be governed by the European Patent Convention. According to Article 52 (c) of the EPC software as such are not patentable.

The unitary character of the UPC will make it easier to revoke a patent on software if such a patent is granted by mistake and there will be no need for parallel litigation. A third party will not have to wait for the outcome of opposition procedures at the EPO before bringing a revocation action before the UPC.

That is nonsense because it works the other way around, too. If a software patent is granted or defended, then it becomes a weapon in the whole of Europe. We already know that the EPO is increasingly open to software patents, predating Benoît Battistelli and going all the way back to Alison Brimelow, as we explained at the time (around 2009).

The UPC Web site continues to discredit Spain’s opposition to the UPC. They’ll just say anything to pass the UPC, even if it’s a half-truth and borderline lie.

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