EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

10.25.15

Techrights Realigns to Focus on Corruption

Posted in Site News at 2:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The previous header, prior to our Web site’s anniversary, put aside for now

Older site header

Summary: The Techrights Web site is soon turning 9, whereupon we plan to invest even more time and effort to more effectively expose institutional corruption

IN SPITE of attempts to muzzle the site, Techrights is still going strong and broadening its audience. As one might expect, a site as outspoken as this (sometimes saying what others are afraid or reluctant to say) has become the target of some rather abusive people and as a result we intend to increase veracity, devotion, and persistence. Intimidation against us only makes us stronger. The coming week will bring some new reports about the EPO, whose Wiki we gradually improved over the weekend (identifying separable themes of abuses). We wholeheartedly thank both supporters and anonymous sources that made this possible.

“Freedom is not free and human rights are not free, either. They can go away when people stop fighting to protect them, history shows.”“Defending digital freedom and exposing corruption since 2006″ says the new banner (it might still not be visible because of multimedia caching at our proxy). It doesn’t mean that anything is changing with respect to TechBytes, the audiocast, it just means that we soon (in just a couple of weeks) celebrate an important anniversary and we also approach 20,000 posts/articles. The most active years were half a decade ago, back when we published over 3,600 posts per year (more than 10 per day, on average). In order to get back to these levels we might need readers’ support, which does not necessarily mean financial support. Freedom is not free and human rights are not free, either. They can go away when people stop fighting to protect them, history shows. People need to fight for them and people must defend free speech, sometimes at all costs. It’s when the ruling class manages to silence the oppressed that all hope is lost and change is anything but inevitable.

“Thank you” we again say to everyone who has supported us over the years and we look forward to another decade or more. Here is how to contact us anonymously.

EPO Slammed for Granting Patents on Life

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mo’ patents, mo’ money, mo’ problems, so monopolists, the EPO, and patent lawyers benefit, respectively, at the expense of everybody else

Bell peppers

Summary: New opposition to the EPO’s continued expansion of patent scope to plants/seeds and various foods, serving to monopolise even the very essential elements of life and potentially increasing prices of basic foods

OUR criticism of the EPO began nearly a decade ago, primarily because of software patents in Europe (the campaign against them culminated little more than 10 years ago). This is part of an international problem that so-called ‘trade’ deals like the TPP (globalisation in the interest of very few rich people) serve to promote. But since then we have criticised the EPO for many other things; among them were patents on life, which are equally controversial (even among programmers, not just in life science disciplines). We wrote a great deal about it back in 2009 and when the EPO entered the fray with this abomination of an expansion of patent scope we spoke out again. It’s all in our archives. Now there’s news as things get even worse.

“Just how much longer can EPO management flagrantly stretch the scope of patents in a shameless effort to increase revenue and pretend that innovation is on the rise when in fact it’s monopolisation and protectionism (food monopolies) that are on the rise?”A reader has suggested that we remind people of patents on plants, potentially “the next EPO scandal” because it’s still work in progress (an internal subject of debate). Just how much longer can EPO management flagrantly stretch the scope of patents in a shameless effort to increase revenue and pretend that innovation is on the rise when in fact it’s monopolisation and protectionism (food monopolies) that are on the rise?

One of our readers has taken stock of coverage about this issue, dating back even to 2013.

“On May 8, 2013,” said this reader, “the EPO granted a patent (EP 2140023 B1) to Syngenta for insect-resistant pepper plants [PDF]. According to critics: “Such plants should definitely not be patentable under European patent law.””

“A broad coalition consisting of 34 NGOs,” continued this reader, “farmers’ and breeders’ organisations from 27 European countries, filed an opposition to the Syngenta pepper patent.” [1, 2]

“A question was also asked in the European Parliament. Here is the answer from the EU Commission.” [by Barnier, a huge UPC proponent]

“The topic was covered by IPKat in August 2014. In May of this year, Glyn Moody wrote a piece about the EPO’s current questionable practices concerning the patenting of plants. The topic has now resurfaced again with the recent grant of another questionable pepper patent to Syngenta.” [1, 2] (articles from 2-3 days ago)

“The specification of the most recently granted patent can be found here.” [PDF].

Even though Techrights covered these issues more than a year ago they seem to be resurfacing and getting even worse. The EPO is clearly out of control because of greed. Its priority is not to serve the public or provide a service in the public’s interest; instead it helps large corporations (like the infamous Monsanto) besiege and rip off the public.

How does one say in French “let them eat patents”?

“As far as genetic engineering for food, that is the great experiment that has failed. They literally have the entire world market against them. All those dreams… the blind will see, the lame will walk… has turned out to be science fiction. They are basically chemical companies selling more chemicals. They’ve been able to spread these herbicide-promoting plants around because it is more convenient for farmers who can just mass-spray their crops. But they’ve given absolutely nothing to the consumer while causing more chemical pollution and contamination.”

Lawyer, Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety (USA)

How the Chief Information Officer of the EPO is Connected to the President of the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

René Kraft
Photo credit (CC): Groupe LINAGORA

Summary: René Kraft, the EPO’s Chief Information Officer, is criticised for improper use of public money (65 million euros)

OVER a week ago we publicly invited readers to provide information about the hardware, networking (not just at hardware level but packet management/switching too), and software used both at the server and desktop/client ends at the EPO. We are trying to better establish a potential for conflicting interests, as shall become more apparent in future write-ups.

René Kraft, the Chief Information Officer of the EPO, Techrights previously mentioned in relation to his connection to Battistelli. Currently, we definitely need more information but we recently learned that the EPO’s IT roadmap is a “bottomless pit” (for obscenely huge spendings and a high budget, partly provided by European taxpayers to go into private hands). To quote one knowledgeable source:

When Mr Battistelli joined the EPO in mid 2010, he trumpeted proudly that with him, all would be better, much better than under his predecessors. He recruited a Chief Information Officer who had worked before for a company providing IT services to the French Patent Office (INPI) and gave him more power than any other PD or even VP2, nominally in charge of IT.

Twenty-four months and some 65 million EUR later, the results are conspicuous for their inconspicuousness. With the exception of a few improvements here and there – that can hardly qualify as IT investments – no major result worth the money spent is in sight. The current IT governance is becoming a place where in-house competence and knowledge are abandoned, leaving the playing field to expensive external bounty-hunters who come and go before having reached concrete results.

The lack of progress calls for an audit of IT. But then, if anything is to be learned from the past, Mr Battistelli will likely succeed in entrusting the Audit to yet another “trusted consultant”, who will surely find that all is compliant with… the EPO’s own unpublished rules.

If the above occurred in a EU institution, there would be a public debate and heads would likely roll. Not so at the EPO.

Kraft’s former employer, “Informatique CDC” (where he was Directeur General Delegue for 7 years), has a Windows Web site (quite a rarity these days, but historically it has been the case) and it is “a subsidiary of Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations,” according to Bloomberg. It is a financial organisation. Kraft previously spoke about migrations to OpenOffice, but given the lavish expenditure (as detailed above) we doubt Free/libre software was used in this case, otherwise the EPO would probably announce it. If someone can anonymously provide us with information about the computer systems at the EPO, that would be enormously helpful, especially for future articles which are work in process.

How to Securely Provide Techrights With Information, Documents

Posted in Site News at 6:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The key is anonymity

A lock

Summary: Advice for potential whistleblowers, or sources with evidence of abuse that they wish to anonymously share with the world (via Techrights)

OVER the years Techrights has received critical information from dozens of sources, all of which remained safe (unexposed). But this does not mean that all of them did this safely. This article provides advice for those who wish to pass to us information in the safest of ways, without having to do a lot of complicated things.

Why Not Off-the-shelf, Self-contained Secure Software?

Over the past 6 months or so we have looked into various bits of Free/libre software, e.g. Briefkasten (no longer actively maintained, as of 2013) and SecureDrop, which is too big a project (massive also in the source code sense compared to Briefkasten, not to mention difficult to set up). After much effort we decided to settle for something which is simpler to use and is much faster to use. To facilitate leaking of sensitive documents (e.g. evidence of misconduct) we mostly require anonymity, as the content of the material does not — in its own right — do much (if anything) to expose the source.

Typically, whole frameworks are built for distributed and de-centralised leaking. This requires quite a bit of hardware, which in turn needs to be set up and properly configured. It’s complicated for both sides (source and receiver) and it’s usually developed for large teams of journalists, for constant interaction with sources, or a regular flow of material. We do not require something this advanced. In practice, a one-time document drop is usually enough.

Our Proposed Solution

We have decided that the following method would be good enough given the nature of leaks we normally receive. They are typically about technology, rather than some military or surveillance apparatus such as the CIA’s assassination (by drones) programme or the NSA’s mass surveillance programme.

For extra security, we kindly ask people to ensure anonymity/privacy tools are used, notably Tor. Without it, privacy/anonymity cannot be assured to a high degree. It’s possible, but it would not be unbreakable (meaning too great an effort and a challenge for spies to take on).

Establishing a Secure (Anonymous) Session

Follow the following steps, with (1) for extra assurance of anonymity.

  1. Install Tails or prepare a Tails device (e.g. Live CD) to boot on a laptop, in order to simplify session creation with Tor (for those who insist on using Windows we have this guide [PDF]).
  2. Irrespective of (1), seek public wireless/wired access in something like a mall (preferably not a sit-down like a coffee shop, where cameras are operated and situated in a way that makes it easy to track individuals by faces, payment with debit/credit cards and so on). The idea is to seek a place — any place — where it is hard to know the identity of the connected party, even by association (e.g. friend or family). Do not use a portable telephone (these are notoriously not secure and regularly broadcast location).
  3. Refrain from doing any browsing that can help identify patterns or affiliations of the user (e.g. session cookies). In fact, unless Tails is used, it might be worth installing a new browser (Opera for instance) and doing nothing on it prior to the sending of material. This reduces the cookie trail/footprint.

Send the material

Once logged in anonymously, anonymously (do not log in) submit text through Pastebin and take the resultant URL for later pasting. Do not pass PDFs for non-textual material. Instead take shots of them, to reduce/eliminate metadata which is often being passed along with them. Then submit to Anonmgur and make a note of the resultant URL for later pasting.

This is typically a one-way communication channel, so add any context which is necessary, then link to the above material as follows:

  • Log in to the #techrights IRC Channel via the Web browser.
  • Choose a pseudonym and sooner or later we will get around to seeing the new arrival and checking what there is to be said (there are dozens of us there).
  • Drop the link/s in the channel. If someone is on the keyboard at the time, there might even be time for interaction. Do not say anything that can help reveal identity (sometimes the language itself is revealing).

Caveats

While not impenetrable, it would take an enormous amount of effort (and connections in several high places) to unmask a source who follows the steps above. Unless it’s a high-profile political leak, such an unmasking effort would be well beyond what’s worth pursuing (expensive and complicated). MAC address-level spying often assumes access to very high places (and deep into back rooms), so therein lies no significant danger, especially when the best anonymity tools are properly used and the incentive to unmask isn’t great enough at high places (usually the political or military establishments).

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts