The Deteriorating Working Conditions at the EPO Show Reluctance to Make Talented Staff (or Ill Staff) Happy

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Potentially a contributing factor to staff suicides

Suicide danger

Summary: Critical remarks about the poor treatment that EPO management offers to staff, whereas the EPO’s Central Staff Committee and the staff union — the one that the EPO’s management is frantically crushing — try to be attentive and helpful

THE MANAGEMENT AT THE EPO, which chose to treat the staff like an enemy rather than a gift, already recognises its poor recruitment capabilities in the face of a notorious track record and negative publicity (bribed-for publicity does not count [1, 2]) and brain drain (poor staff retention and in many cases suicides). Rather than extend an olive branch to what remains of the talent pool, the EPO continues to crush the rights of staff, assuring that things won’t change for the better.

“Rather than extend an olive branch to what remains of the talent, the EPO continues to crush the rights of staff, assuring that things won’t change for the better.”People who are tactlessly declared “invalids”, which is a rather offensive term that’s sometimes used to refer to people who have developed health problems, are also being pressured by the EPO’s management. It seems like invalid are prevented from doing some benevolent community service. How is that for a strategy? Is causing despair and hopelessness going to help the reputation of the EPO? The premise is that this can mitigate or eliminate conflicts of interest, but in practice it is a lot worse. Crushing the basic rights of European workers and spinning that as a moral advantage is, quite frankly, offensive at best.

“How to make sure invalids remain invalid” is what SUEPO called it, noting that help is around the corner, not at EPO but at SUEPO. People who are already suffering have a safety net or a cushion not from the employer that really ought to value their skills but from their colleagues, who fight for the rights of their fellow men and women.

Until now invalidity meant “not being able to perform your duties or similar duties at least at a 50% part-time basis” (previous Art. 62(a) par. (2) ServRegs). For new invalidities the limit has now been lowered to 30%. Nevertheless: those who have been held invalid, either under the old or the new system, may have a residual work-capacity, or may be able to have other activities. Under the old system those concerned were obliged to inform the administration of any paid activities and their invalidity pension was reduced accordingly. The new regulations, however, on top of obliging invalid staff to remain at their place of employment for at least 10 years and until the age of 55, forbid any gainful activity or employment. We do not to see the purpose of these restrictions, other than punishing staff for falling ill. We have often objected to the “Residenzpflicht” meaning that colleagues are kept away from the support of their family and friends “at home” if that is elsewhere than their place of employment. Note that for every absence permission must be requested in advance. With the Personnel Department in disarray swift, fair treatment is not guaranteed. With the additional interdiction of such activities, invalids are pushed even further in social isolation. The unclear formulation of the new regulations further opens the doors to arbitrary allegations against colleagues. It could well be that the implementation goes even
further than what one could expect when reading CA/D 2/15. A part of the new regulation will come into force on 01.01.2016. SUEPO will help those of its members who are concerned. Do not hesitate to contact us.

“Your new career,” SUEPO claims, is not so promising in the Battistelli-managed EPO. All the benefits are fading away and the work environment becomes more militant over time. “Back to the 1950s,” SUEPO calls it, alluding to very terrible workers’ rights (after a devastating world war). Here’s how they put it:

While the “new career system” was being designed, we predicted it would be a nightmare.

Some did not believe us; some hoped against all hope that it would not turn out to be so bad; some thought one would manage to survive the rat race. But now, already in the early implementation phase, the chickens are coming home to roost.

Are you a pregnant woman? Are you sick, requesting unpaid leave to refresh your mind, asking for a parental leave to take care of your children, asking for a family leave to take care of your old and sick parents? If you are in DG2, this absence will be held against you when assessing your contribution to your unit, and will have a negative consequence on your career prospects. In Patent Administration, a head of unit encouraged by this new “approach” that comes from the top even dared to state “Sick people should be happy to get paid while they are sick”. No comment. Similar plans are being hatched in DG1.

The recently published President’s guidelines on rewards for the “new career” further punish close to 40% of staff whose career is frozen (not step, no promotion).

A Brave New World is taking shape.

Let’s not forget institutional harassment and menacing threats against people who merely ‘dare’ to exercise their rights.

Interesting links shared by SUEPO include this article in German. “While Mr Battistelli and Ms Bergot introduce sick leave control systems that go against staff well being,” said SUEPO, “and are incompatible with national laws and medical ethics/secrecy, physicians form the university of Magdeburg plead for less sickness certification for employees in Germany.”

It is followed by a joke about Volkswagen (VW), where management is almost as corrupt as in the EPO (Volkswagen is in headline for only one major scandal, unlike EPO): “Sharp decrease of the sickness figures in the EPO: is VW in charge of measuring?”

Another joke is an extract from Job Profiles of all Staff: “To be flexible and to adapt in a positive way, to sustain performance when the situation changes, workload increases, tensions rise, ambiguity mounts or priorities shift.”

The punch line? “And when all of that happens at the same time…?”

Working for the EPO isn’t the ‘fun’ which in-progress propaganda tries to convince the public that it is. “PAX vicious spiral,” as SUEPO called it, describes the China-esque measurements of staff output, which annuls or ignores any human factors. People are reduced to machines and are treated accordingly. To quote:

In the recent years, the PAX data related to the so-called “Reference Examiner” had become fairly stable. For instance the 2014 productivity P of the reference examiner had only marginally increased or decreased (depending on the Cluster) when compared to the productivity P of 2013. This reflected the normal stabilisation of the productivity in DG1 after years of improvement of DG1′s performance, and was simply the proof that “sky is not the limit” if one wishes to keep a reasonable level of quality.

This was not enough for management. With the introduction of the “new career” Mr Minnoye (VP1) drastically changed the substance of the PAX Guidelines: fairness elements and safeguards have been removed but the calculation of the productivity of the Ref Examiner remains. This means that, to calculate the productivity P of the Ref Examiner for a year “n”, the data of the previous 3 years (n-1, n-2, n-3) of all experienced examiners, i.e. with no learning curve, are used.

The production and the productivity in DG1 have made a quantum leap in 2015 with respectively +13% and +7% (Jan-August compared to the same period in 2014). As a consequence, the productivity P of the Ref Examiner will mechanically increase by an amount between 2% and 3% next year.

This can only reassure management that “putting a gun to the examiners head” works beyond their wildest dreams.

We can safely predict that targets will be even higher in 2016 than in 2015. The insane production pressure and the current “management” methods will remain. With their deleterious consequences on staff’s health and the quality of the work performed at the EPO. But does management care?

Given the many EPO abuses (in the Wiki we have broken them all down to around a couple dozen), we humbly doubt these bureaucratic people care about how ‘low level’ staff (technical people, often with doctoral degrees) feels. They cannot actually care considering how they have been treating such ‘low level’ staff. We predict that unless some radical measures/steps like head-rolling are implemented (the current management is impossible to negotiate with), it won’t be long before the EPO has more job openings than patents issued in a month. Patent examiners would not have a hard time finding employment elsewhere given their skills; it’s just that their initial salary might — at least initially — be a lot lower. But what price can one put on happiness and health? It seems certain that managers at the EPO will need to compromise, apologise, reform, or simply resign, making room for new management that is not distrusted and at times literally loathed by the workers. A lot of damage has been done therein and in order to put an end to this distrust and loathing considerable changes are required. Battistelli, based on some claims, has already threatened to resign; maybe that’s imperative at this stage.

Incidentally, this morning SUEPO posted the following message about “the social situation of the European Patent Office”:

In the report of the 145th meeting of the Administrative Council (AC), the Council announced its decision to initiate a review of the social situation at the European Patent Offce and to continue the exercise aiming at union recognition talks.

In a letter to Mr Kongstad, Chairman of the AC, and Mr Battistelli, President of the Office, SUEPO reminds that the initial talks were interrupted because, at precisely the same time as the talks were starting, the Office Administration considered it appropriate to initiate an investigation with the help of Control Risks against staff representatives and/or union executives.
The closure of this investigation and any other investigation or disciplinary procedure targeting staff representatives and/or union officials – without prejudice to the accused – is a condition sine qua non for recommencing the talks.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

This, in turn, links to a letter (in PDF form) which states:

Review of the social situation at the European Patent Office

Dear Mr Kongstad,
Dear Mr Battistelli,

In the report of the 145th meeting of the Administrative Council that appeared on the external website of the EPO you informed the public that:

The Council decided to initiate a review of the social situation at the European Patent Office after five years of reform setting and implementation.

Several measures could contribute to a possible progress in this context:

- continuing the exercise aiming at staff union recognition, despite the difficulties met

- aiming at the elaboration of a negotiation strategy preserving all the results already obtained

- launching an independent external social study, in close co-operation with the President

SUEPO agrees that after five years of reform setting and implementation, a review would be appropriate. We also fully support the notion of an independent review. In view of the latter, a close co-operation not only with the President but also with the staff representation would seem necessary.

We are equally open to continue the union recognition talks. We remind you that the initial Union recognition talks were interrupted because, at precisely the same time as the talks were starting, the Office Administration considered it appropriate to accuse Staff Committee members and Union officials of harassing a colleague in the staff representation. These accusations of harassment, levied not by the alleged victims but by Ms Bergot, Principal Director Personnel, are clearly vexatious and entirely without merit. The closure of this investigation and any other investigation or disciplinary procedure targeting staff representatives and/or union officials – without prejudice to the accused – is a condition sine qua non for recommencing the talks.

Finally, we are somewhat surprised by the statement that the negotiation strategy should “preserve all the results already obtained”. If preservation of all the results is the aim, that would render both the review and the negotiations futile. We understand that you mean “all the positive results”. We can obviously agree with that aim but it may be judicious to point out that opinions may differ on what can be considered positive results. We are looking forward to discuss these points with you at the earliest possible opportunity.

Sincerely yours,
SUEPO Central

To summarise, witch-hunting of staff representatives needs to stop and an independent review by an external entity is still desirable because instruments of power inside the EPO are assumed to be part of the conspiracy to defend the higher management, hence crush the union/s and cover up institutional abuses. There’s something truly rotten at the EPO and we know — at least roughly — where it started.

A fish rots from the head down: “When an organization or state fails, it is the leadership that is the root cause.”

Links 26/10/2015: GUADEC 2016 Plans, Solus’ Budgie Desktop

Posted in News Roundup at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


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    • Having Lost The Debate On Backdooring Encryption, Intelligence Community Plans To Wait Until Next Terrorist Attack

      In other words, Litt admits that his side has lost this battle, but he doesn’t want the administration to come out totally against legislation, because, you know, if there’s an attack, then maybe the idiots in the public will finally accept the intelligence community shoving backdoors down their throat. After all, such a plan worked out pretty well with the PATRIOT Act, which took a bunch of bad and rejected ideas and rushed them into law. In fact, it’s almost amazing that the law enforcement community didn’t get backdooring encryption into the PATRIOT Act back in 2001 in the first place…

    • White House Realizes Mandating Backdoors To Encryption Isn’t Going To Happen

      Over the last few months, I’ve heard rumblings and conversations from multiple people within the Obama administration suggesting that they don’t support the FBI’s crazy push to back door all encryption. From Congress, I heard that there was nowhere near enough support for any sort of legislative backdoor mandate. Both were good things to hear, but I worried that I was still only hearing from one side, so that there could still be serious efforts saying the opposite as well. However, the Washington Post has been leaked quite a document that outlines three options that the Obama administration can take in response to the whole “going dark” question. And the good news? None of them involve mandating encryption. Basically, the key message in this document is that no one believes legislation is a realistic option right now (more on that in another post coming shortly).

    • Verizon’s Screwing New Jersey Even Harder Than Previously Believed

      We’ve previously discussed how in 1993 Verizon conned the state of New Jersey into giving the telco all manner of subsidies and tax breaks in exchange for a promise to wire the majority of the state with symmetrical fiber. Fast forward to 2015, most of New Jersey remains on aging DSL, and the state decided it would be a wonderful idea to simply let Verizon walk away from its obligations. Of course this isn’t new: Verizon’s regulatory capture allowed it to do the exact same thing in Pennsylvania, and it’s currently busy trying to dodge New York City FiOS build out requirements as well.

    • FCC: Sorry, No — Net Neutrality Does Not Violate ISPs’ First Amendment Rights

      Back when Verizon sued to overturn the FCC’s original, flimsier 2010 net neutrality rules, the telco argued that the FCC was aggressively and capriciously violating the company’s First and Fifth Amendment rights. “Broadband networks are the modern-day microphone by which their owners engage in First Amendment speech,” Verizon claimed at the time. It’s an amusing claim given that the entire purpose of net neutrality is to protect the free and open distribution of content and data without incumbent ISP gatekeeper interference. Verizon ultimately won its case against the FCC — but not because of its First Amendment claim, but because the FCC tried to impose common carrier rules on ISPs before declaring they were common carriers.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Back to Benghazi: How Not to Have a Debate About US Foreign Policy

      In the 2012 presidential election, the biggest foreign policy issue was the killing of the US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens in September of that year–an incident known by its location: Benghazi. Now, as we gear up for the 2016 presidential race, it looks like the biggest international issue is going to be–Benghazi.

      The world is a big place, though you wouldn’t necessarily figure that out if you learned about it solely through electoral politics; in the debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and their running mates in 2012 (FAIR Media Advisory, 10/26/12), there were 14 questions raised about other countries, and only one of those questions (about China) had to do with anyplace outside the Middle East (broadly defined, from Pakistan to Libya). And three of the 14 questions had to do with Benghazi–as many questions as were asked about Afghanistan, where at the time the US had more than 60,000 troops engaged in a ground war.

    • VIDEO: Unbelievably clear drone footage of Damascus devastation

      Clear drone footage showing the ongoing Syrian army offensive against a rebel stronghold in Damascus.

    • Officials Claim CIA Drone War Against Syria a ‘Growing Success’

      The theory there is that if drones weren’t be launched willy-nilly at ISIS, they’d be more able to carry out major attacks, and thus the attacks are doing what they’re intended to do. Yet ISIS seems to continue to carry out major attacks across Syria on a regular basis, which makes these claimed results, like so many others, illusory.

    • Snowden And Ellsberg Hail Leak Of Drone Documents From New Whistleblower

      American whistleblowers hailed the release on Thursday of a collection of classified documents about US drone warfare as a blow on behalf of transparency and human rights.

      The documents anchored a multi-part report by the Intercept on the Defense Department assassination program in Yemen and Somalia. Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other rights groups said the report raised significant concerns about human rights violations by the US government, and called for an investigation.

    • Your Call: US Drone policy; Canada’s elections

      We’ll also talk about the new top-secret NSA documents detailing the US drone program, which were leaked to The Intercept. How are US media reporting on US drone policy? Join the conversation on the next Your Call, with Rose Aguilar and you.

    • 5 Disturbing Revelations in the New Drone Document Leak

      The above leak is a direct contradiction with President Barack Obama’s previous assertion to the American people that drone attacks have a “near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.” While it’s clearly not panning out that way, the U.S. has a solution for that: automatically labeling anyone killed by a drone attack an “enemy” rather than a civilian.

      If proof emerges that one of the killed was definitely an unaffiliated civilian, the U.S. will change the designation, but the country does not seem to be trying to reclassify anyone it doesn’t have to in order to keep the civilian count low. Though it’s true that at least some of the people adjacent to suspected terrorists are probably associated with these activities and not necessarily “innocent,” the fact is that they haven’t even first been vetted as potential threats.

    • Wandering Eye: Drone assassinations, ‘Artist’s Statements of the Old Masters,’ and more

      Jeremy Scahill opens The Intercept’s big whistle-blower-driven piece on the drone assassinations with an important point: What we’re doing is extrajudicial killings. Assassinations. The U.S. has always done these (and torture too, of course), but until recently we’ve tried at least to maintain what the spy guys call “plausible deniability.” No more. Now we just renamed them “targeted killings” and claim the victims are an “imminent threat.” And we define imminent as “in the foreseeable future, possibly.” And of course we make a list. Scahill’s source is not comfortable with it: “This outrageous explosion of watchlisting — of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards,’ assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield — it was, from the very first instance, wrong,” the source told Scahill. The problem is not just moral, though, it’s practical. We’re killing people who could provide useful information if they were captured instead. And we’re relying too much on “signals intelligence” (i.e. the vast data sweeps the NSA specializes in) instead of “human intelligence.” We’re doing this because it’s convenient for war fighters. Incidentally, The Intercept uses the headline “The Kill Chain.” That’s the same one City Paper used a few years back when we tried to trace drone research through and by Johns Hopkins. The idea is to bring even more convenience in the future with autonomous drones that kill without human input. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

    • Colombia’s Bittersweet Peace Deal

      The Colombian government and the continent’s mightiest and longest-surviving guerrilla army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are set to finalize a bittersweet peace agreement next spring with no victors, millions of victims, and just enough justice to basically turn a page on decades of unrelenting bloodletting.

    • Canada will bow out of the air war in Iraq and Syria. But will the Liberals really end the combat mission?

      Of all the foreign problems facing prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau, the war in Syria and Iraq remains the most nettlesome.

      It is tied to almost everything.

      The Syrian refugee crisis that dominates headlines in Europe — and that made its way into the Canadian election campaign — is a direct result of that war.

      Canada’s fraught relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Ukraine is complicated by Moscow’s direct diplomatic and military involvement in Syria.

    • Tony Blair apologises for Iraq War mistakes and accepts invasion had part to play in rise of Islamic State

      Tony Blair has apologised for some of the mistakes that were made during the Iraq War, and says he recognises “elements of truth” behind opinion that the invasion caused the rise of Isil.

      In a candid interview with CNN, the former prime minister was challenged by US political broadcaster Fareed Zakar who accused Blair of being George Bush’s ‘poodle’ over the conflict.

    • Donald Trump’s baseless claim that the Bush White House tried to ‘silence’ his Iraq War opposition in 2003

      At The Fact Checker, we place the burden of proof on the speaker. Trump has not responded to repeated requests by us or other media outlets for proof of his early opposition to the invasion.

      Military action began on March 20, 2003. An extensive review of 2003 news coverage prior to March 20 surfaced just two references of Trump and his views on the invasion, as BuzzFeed News found during the GOP debate. The Huffington Post also wrote an analysis of Trump’s Iraq claims during the GOP debate, and again after Trump’s claims in October.

    • Veterans for Bernie Sanders: Why the anti-war candidate is so beloved by former soldiers

      When then-freshman Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders first arrived in Washington, D.C., he didn’t first tend to the great social democratic causes that he spent his life working on: a national living wage, health care for all, or expanding labor unions.

      Rather, the very first bill he introduced was H.R. 695 – the Guard and Reserve Family Protection Act of 1991. The purpose of the bill was to make sure that reserve and National Guard soldiers who were deployed to serve in the Gulf War were entitled to any pay they may have missed as a result of going to war, to ensure that their deployment wages were equal to their civilian wages.

    • TalkTalk hires BAE Systems to investigate cyber attack

      British broadband provider TalkTalk said on Sunday it had hired defense company BAE Systems to investigate a cyber attack that may have led to the theft of personal data from its more than 4 million customers.

    • Anderson Cooper: Opposing Illegal CIA Wars Is Unelectable

      A key reason that the US has so many wars is that big US media have a strong pro-war, pro-Empire bias.

    • Indonesia: 50 Years After the Coup and the CIA Sponsored Terrorist Massacre. The Ruin of Indonesian Society

      Last year, I stopped travelling to Indonesia. I simply did… I just could not bear being there, anymore. It was making me unwell. I felt psychologically and physically sick.

      Indonesia has matured into perhaps the most corrupt country on Earth, and possibly into the most indoctrinated and compassionless place anywhere under the sun. Here, even the victims were not aware of their own conditions anymore. The victims felt shame, while the mass murderers were proudly bragging about all those horrendous killings and rapes they had committed. Genocidal cadres are all over the government.


      After the 1965 coup backed by the US, Australia and Europe, some 2-3 million Indonesians died, in fact were slaughtered mercilessly in an unbridled orgy of terror: teachers, intellectuals, artists, unionists, and Communists vanished. The US Embassy in Jakarta provided a detailed list of those who were supposed to be liquidated. The army, which was generously paid by the West and backed by the countless brainwashed religious cadres of all faiths, showed unprecedented zeal, killing and imprisoning almost everyone capable of thinking. Books were burned and film studios and theatres closed down.

    • A CIA-Trained Tibetan Freedom Fighter’s Undying Hope for Freedom

      Ten years later, after he had completed his studies in Mussoorie in 1969, Tunduk volunteered for a secretive all-Tibetan unit in the Indian army called Establishment 22, which the U.S. CIA helped stand up and train when China attacked India in the 1962 Sino-Indian War. Tunduk went through six months of basic training, which included jump training taught by CIA instructors, whom Tunduk remembered as “blond and tall.”


      The Chinese soldiers tied Tunduk’s father’s arms and legs behind his back, beat him, and then shot him in the head. Next, they painted a target in charcoal on Tunduk’s mother’s chest, suspended her by her arms from two wood poles, and used her for target practice, pumping her body with bullets long after she was dead.

    • ‘Operation Ajax’ Illustrates How the CIA Destroyed Democracy in Iran

      Mohammed Mossadegh, Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, was the farthest thing from a Communist, but painting him as reliant on Communist support was pivotal to turning public support against him and to building support at home in the US for his overthrow. But to what end? Why did the US turn from a supporter of Iranian democracy under President Truman, to plotting its destruction and imposing a dictatorship under President Eisenhower? Was it simply a paranoid (and wholly inaccurate) fear of Communism? Was it the ambitious, power-seeking aspirations of US intelligence agencies, keen on building their power-base and budgets by engineering the perception of fake threats to the US? Was it US corporate desire to control Iranian oil, in the face of efforts by Iran’s democratic government to nationalize its own resources (long plundered by western countries)?

    • UW Human Rights Center will sue CIA for stonewalling information request on assassinations

      A University of Washington human rights project is suing the Central Intelligence Agency for refusing to declassify and turn over documents relating to the U.S. role in El Salvador’s civil war and involvement in massacres by a retired Salvadorian colonel who was for a time the favorite of Americans.

    • US law student sues CIA over Salvadoran civil war documents
    • UW law student sues CIA over data on Salvadoran Army officer
    • Theft of Files Relating to Lawsuit about CIA’s Support of Human Rights Violations in El Salvador
    • Five Historical Reasons to Believe the CIA Could Have Been Behind the Break-In at UW

      We’re not sure how a question can be true or false, but to suggest that it’s implausible for the CIA to have burgled a professor’s office is patently ridiculous. This is an agency that, for nearly seventy years, has drugged, kidnapped, tortured, assassinated, burgled and bungled its way through history, banking heavily on the fact that clandestine operations, by definition, lack strong oversight.

    • Confidential files on El Salvador human rights stolen after legal action against CIA
    • Research files on El Salvador stolen from human rights group suing CIA over El Salvador
    • Files Incriminating CIA Stolen From Center For Human Rights Office, Break-In Happened During CIA Head’s Visit
    • Obscure Human Rights Professor Thinks The CIA Probably Broke Into Her Office And Stole Hard Drive
    • Professor Who Sued CIA Finds Office Burglarized, Data Stolen
    • Files for El Salvador lawsuit against CIA stolen from university office
    • US NGO researching El Salvador abuses has files stolen

      The Centre for Human Rights at the University of Washington said in a statement published on its website that the break-in could have been in retaliation for its work, pointing out a number of peculiarities about the incident.

    • Wandering Eye: The sample behind Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling,’ more bad news for the DC poor, and more

      On Wednesday, the Stranger posted a fascinating blog titled, “Two Weeks After It Sued the CIA, Data Is Stolen from the University of Washington’s Center for Human Rights.” In short, the UWCHR filed a lawsuit against the CIA looking for information about war crimes committed in El Salvador (earlier in the month, the Stranger published “The University of Washington Is Taking the CIA to Court: Seeking Justice for Survivors of a Massacre in El Salvador, the Center for Human Rights Is Suing the Agency Over Withholding Public Records,” by Ansel Herz) and then last weekend, someone broke into the Center For Human Rights’ director’s office and stole her desktop and a hard drive containing information pertaining to this case. On top of the whole thing just looking sketchy as hell, UWCHR pointed out that there was no forcible entry and that there were plenty of other computers in the building to steal and that this theft “parallels between this incident and attacks Salvadoran human rights organizations have experienced in recent years.” Herz asked the CIA if they had anything to do with the theft, and they denied it. Herz also pointed out that the CIA “is an agency that assassinates people with drones, tortured prisoners, has helped to carry out bloody coup d’etats, and whose analysts were accused of hacking and stealing the data of senators who were investigating the agency just last year.” (Brandon Soderberg)

    • ACLU demands CIA disclose drone program details after document leak

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) pressed ahead on Monday with a lawsuit to compel the CIA to turn over basic details about the US program of clandestine drone warfare, a week after startling contours of the program emerged in a new leak by an anonymous intelligence source.

      The ACLU lawsuit seeks summary data from the CIA on drone strikes, including the locations and dates of strikes, the number of people killed and their identities or status. The ACLU also is seeking memos describing the legal reasoning underpinning the drone program.

    • Drone Disclosures, Official and Not

      As readers of this blog already know, last week The Intercept published a series of fascinating stories about the US drone campaign. The stories, and the official documents that accompany them, supply new details about the way the government chooses its targets, the way drone strikes are authorized, the way the government assesses civilian casualties, and the way the government judges the success or failure of individual strikes.

    • CIA pressed to disclose secret drone docs
    • Activist group to sue CIA over drone program

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has lodged a lawsuit compelling the CIA to turn over basic details about US drone strikes.

      The lawsuit was filed Monday a week after shocking contours of the program were revealed by an anonymous intelligence source.

    • CIA Pressured to Release Drone Strike Data in Fresh Lawsuit

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is pressing ahead with a lawsuit calling on the CIA to release crucial information about the US’ drone warfare program, amid calls for greater transparency into the intelligence agency’s actions.

    • US Advocacy Group Seeks CIA Video Tapes of Lethal Drone Strikes Released

      Advocacy group Consumers For Peace.org Director Nick Mottern claims that the videos of drone strikes launched by the US government against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria should be released to the public.

    • ACLU Files New Appeal in Drone Lawsuit

      The Central Intelligence Agency is under renewed legal pressure to release “thousands” of records pertaining to its international drone war, following an appeal filed Monday by the American Civil Liberties in Washington, D.C. The motion comes just days after The Intercept published an eight-part series based on cache of secret documents detailing the U.S. military’s parallel reliance on unmanned airstrikes in the war on terror.

    • Drone Papers Aftermath: ACLU Demands Secret Program Data

      The ACLU on Monday filed an appeal brief demanding that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) hand over data on its secretive global drone program, including the identities of people killed by airstrikes carried out by the U.S. military in Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan.

    • ACLU demands CIA disclose details on drone program after document leak

      The American Civil Liberties Union is pressing forward with a lawsuit against the CIA demanding the agency turn over details about the U.S. drone program after a massive document leak revealed startling details about how targets are chosen and the number of civilians that have been accidentally struck.

    • Mothers of CIA officers killed in Benghazi condemn use of sons’ deaths for political gain

      The mothers have condemned as “callous” a Republican-led advert using their sons’ legacies to try to destroy Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign

    • Why Americans Should Closely Watch Unfolding Events in Guatemala, Part 2

      Guatemala’s current situation and tragic history can be traced back to the CIA-led coup in 1954 that ousted the democratically elected government of President Jacobo Arbenz and installed the military dictator Carlos Armas. Arbenz was an advocate for land reform and was loved by the poor. The wealthy hated him. And when the CIA couldn’t bribe him, they ousted him in a most humiliating way. Even after he went into exile, the agency used constant disinformation to smear him in every way imaginable until his strange death in a bathtub in 1971.

    • CIA Nemesis Allende Elected In Chile

      Salvador Allende was elected Chile’s president on 24th October, 1970.

      An avowed Marxist, and the first socialist leader of the South American country, Allende’s election went on to trigger one of the most controversial, tragic periods in Chile’s history.

      The US response to Allende’s election revealed the extent to which the North American superpower was willing to get involved in South American politics. To this day, documents are still classified about what actions the White House sanctioned in Chile as a means to remove Allende.


      Democratically elected, Allende’s government was targeted by the United State’s for its socialist policies. Its successor, the dictatorship of Pinochet, was much more conservative, and allowed US investment back into Chile. It was also notorious for its brutal human rights violations.

    • 48 Years Since Che Guevara’s Execution by the CIA

      Guevara’s eyes were famously opened to the harsh reality of capitalism for those born less privileged than him when, as a medical student in his early 20s, he hopped on a motorcycle and went on a tour of South America. He found disease, destitution and illiteracy – along with the sort of compassion and generosity that appears to be inversely related to the amount of wealth one possess. From that point on, he labored to uplift the working class from Cuba to Guatemala to the Congo. And, although his death was premature, his legacy continues to serve as an inspiration to revolutionaries around the world today.

    • CIA chief’s emails expose Pakistan’s terror tactics in India

      The Wikileaks’ latest exposé on CIA Director John Brennan’s private emails reveals the role of Pakistan’s use of militant proxies for creating terror in India.

    • CIA Interventions in Syria: A Partial Timeline

      This partial timeline provides evidence that the U.S. government and Obama in particular bear a significant responsibility for the Syrian war and the results of that war. Obama approved elements of CIA plans that go back over 65 years. The CIA meddling is distinct from the Pentagon’s failed plan to train moderate rebels, not covered in this timeline.

    • CIA-Armed Rebels March On Assad Homeland

      Yesterday, two large rebel umbrella groups—Jaysh al-Fateh (Army of Conquest), a large consortium of Islamists which includes the official Syrian al-Qaeda franchise, and the Free Syrian Army, an admittedly catchall category but one that includes 39 CIA-vetted TOW recipients—announced a major counteroffensive.

    • Syria: Archbishop voices concern over CIA support for anti-Assad rebels

      Syrian Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo says he was disturbed to hear US Senator John McCain protesting that the Russians are not bombing the positions of the Islamic State, “but rather the anti-Assad rebels trained by the CIA.”

    • Iranians, Cubans and CIA-backed rebels: US media jumps on muddled Syria reports

      Citing activists and anonymous government sources, US media outlets claim that Russian airstrikes are deliberately targeting the US-backed rebels, as Iranian and even Cuban troops are streaming into Syria.

    • The CIA is supplying Syrian rebels with weapons to use against Russia

      The decision to help the rebels comes after growing frustration by the US with Russia, which has entered the war in support of Assad. While the US and Russia both agree that ISIS should be eradicated, the two countries do not agree on who should be in power in Syria.

    • Russian air strikes hit CIA-trained rebels, commander says

      Two Russian air strikes in Syria on Thursday hit a training camp operated by a rebel group that received military training from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, its commander said.

    • CIA Rebrands ‘Moderate’ Rebels: Now They’re the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’!
    • McCain accuses Russia of attacking CIA-backed Syrian rebels

      Russia on Thursday escalated its military engagement in Syria, with warplanes carrying out a second day of heavy airstrikes in the wartorn country, as U.S. critics hurled fresh accusations at Vladimir Putin’s intentions in the region.

      Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, said that Russia is not focused on bombing Islamic State targets, and accused the country of targeting CIA-backed rebels seeking to topple Moscow’s ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    • USA draws a line on protecting CIA-backed rebels in Syria

      Moscow says it targets only banned terrorist groups in Syria, primarily Islamic State.

    • Asio chief defied Gough Whitlam’s order to cut ties with the CIA in 1974

      The chief of Australia’s domestic spy agency, Asio, defied a direct order from then Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam in 1974 to sever all ties with America’s Central Intelligence Agency.

      Whitlam – hostile to US spy bases in Australia and angy with the CIA’s undermining of leftwing administrations, including Chile’s Allende government in 1973 – effectively forced the Washington-Canberra intelligence relationship underground until the dismissal of his government in late 1975.

      The decision by the director general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Peter Barbour, to ignore Whitlam’s directive is revealed in the latest volume of Asio’s official history by historian and former army officer John Blaxland.

    • America enabled radical Islam: How the CIA, George W. Bush and many others helped create ISIS

      Since 1980, the United States has intervened in the affairs of fourteen Muslim countries, at worst invading or bombing them. They are (in chronological order) Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Kosovo, Yemen, Pakistan, and now Syria. Latterly these efforts have been in the name of the War on Terror and the attempt to curb Islamic extremism.

      Yet for centuries Western countries have sought to harness the power of radical Islam to serve the interests of their own foreign policy. In the case of Britain, this dates back to the days of the Ottoman Empire; in more recent times, the US/UK alliance first courted, then turned against, Islamists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. In my view, the policies of the United States and Britain—which see them supporting and arming a variety of groups for short-term military, political, or diplomatic advantage—have directly contributed to the rise of IS.

    • “Every president has been manipulated by national security officials”: David Talbot exposes America’s “deep state”

      This year’s best spy thriller isn’t fiction – it’s history. David Talbot’s previous book, the bestseller “Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years” explored Robert F. Kennedy’s search for the truth following his brother’s murder. His new work, “The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government,” zooms out from JFK’s murder to investigate the rise of the shadowy network that Talbot holds ultimately responsible for the president’s assassination.

      This isn’t merely a whodunit story, though. Talbot’s ultimate goal is exploring how the rise of the “deep state” has impacted the trajectory of America, and given our nation’s vast influence, the rest of the planet. “To thoroughly and honestly analyze [former CIA director] Allen Dulles’s legacy is to analyze the current state of national security in America and how it undermines democracy,” Talbot told Salon. “To really grapple with what is in my book is not just to grapple with history. It is to grapple with our current problems.”

    • US must explain CIA visits to red villages

      During the past few years, CIA operatives stationed in Thailand were frequently visiting the red villages in the North and Northeast of Thailand. Why?

    • Find, Fix, Finish: The Drone Papers

      Soon after he was elected president, Barack Obama was strongly urged by Michael Hayden, the outgoing CIA director, and his new top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, to adopt the way of the scalpel — small footprint counterterrorism operations and drone strikes. In one briefing, Hayden bluntly told Obama that covert action was the only way to confront al Qaeda and other terrorist groups plotting attacks against the U.S.

    • Former FBI, CIA officials encourage residents to ‘ask the hard questions’

      “9/11 could have been prevented and there really is not just one way, there’s probably at least half a dozen ways 9/11 could have been prevented,” Rowley said. “For starters, the CIA had been tracking two of the hijackers since they met in Kuala Lumpur two years before 9/11. And after all these years we still don’t know the answer to that main question. Why was this information not shared?”

    • Whistleblower, former CIA analyst urge questioning of candidates’ foreign policy views

      Coleen Rowley and Ray McGovern spoke to a full conference room at University Book & Supply as part of a nine-city Iowa tour dubbed “The Truth Shall Make You Free,” sponsored by the state’s three chapters of Veterans for Peace and 31 other organizations. They also spoke at the Waterloo Center for the Arts on Saturday.

    • John McAfee: US gov’t hack by China is an American nightmare — and the decline of an empire

      Our Founding Fathers feared democracy. From these fears, and in order to form a more perfect union, the Constitution and our Republic were born. This revolution in government was adopted in the wake of a tremendous fight for independence. Against all odds, our country was born out of a state of oppression and limited personal freedom. There are few points in history that exhibit such a level of individual responsibility and absolute freedom among the common man as there were during this Constitutional period.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Take that CIA and James Bond: Asterix loves Julian Assange!

      The US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has accused Australian Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, the controversial anti-secrecy venture, of “malicious crime” in the leak of hacked emails of its director John Brennan. As the cult figure wanted in Sweden for questioning on a rape accusation, he says he is innocent. As he fights extradition from Ecuador’s diplomatically immune embassy in the UK, fiction lovers would logically expect James Bond to show up from somewhere in Her Majesty’s name.

    • Activists target Obama’s ‘Cheneyesque’ CIA director

      The CIA director is a prime target of attacks by civil libertarians and others concerned about privacy, torture and drone attacks.

    • WikiLeaks Releases Second Batch From CIA Boss John Brennan’s Email

      WikiLeaks released two more documents and a list of contacts from CIA Director John Brennan’s personal email account on Thursday — and again the material was neither classified nor revelatory.

      Six other documents were released by WikiLeaks on Wednesday, days after an anonymous hacker told the New York Post that he had gained access to Brennan’s AOL account. The account was also used by other members of the Brennan family.

    • FBI, Secret Service probe hack of CIA chief’s private emails

      The FBI and U.S. Secret Service have opened criminal inquiries into the hacking of a private email account used by CIA Director John Brennan and his family, the FBI said on Thursday.

      The investigations followed the posting on social media earlier this week by the hackers of data stolen from an AOL account. Intelligence officials said the account was used by Brennan and his family, but was not used to transmit or store government secrets.

    • Why Does Anyone Believe the CIA Chief’s Hackers Are Teens?

      Lots of headlines and news accounts are reporting that the people that hacked the AOL email account of CIA Director John Brennan are high-schoolers or teens, but the Observer could find little reporting on any effort to verify their ages.

    • Second batch of emails hacked from CIA director’s account reveals he warned of major flaws in US strategy for Afghanistan
    • ‘They can’t track us down’ – hackers who cracked CIA Director Brennan’s email to RT

      Part of a mysterious group of young hackers who stole confidential and work-related information from CIA Director John Brennan have spoken to RT, revealing why they targeted this senior official and what they’ve got planned for the future.

      The resulting embarrassment caused by the group who are believed to be in their early 20s, highlights not only the poor email security of a number of senior intelligence officials in the US, but also the secrets within – such as the security clearance application Brennan submitted to the CIA on enrollment, containing the most confidential information any person could wish to protect.

    • Secrecy and Hillary Clinton

      Over-classification of documents is the weapon of choice wielded by the U.S. government to punish whistleblowers and keep the American people in the dark about its actions around the world. But the well-connected, like Hillary Clinton, get special forbearance, notes Diane Roark.

    • This 19th-Century Invention Could Keep You From Being Hacked

      If the CIA’s Director John Brennan can’t keep his emails private, who can? Sadly, the fact that email and instant messaging are far more convenient than communicating via papers in envelopes or by actually talking on the phone, or (God forbid) face to face, these technologies are far more insecure. Could it be that the old ways protected both secrecy and privacy far better than what we have now?

    • Digital Dissidents

      Lauded as heroes by some, denounced as traitors by others, they’re the “digital dissidents” whose revelations have made headlines around the world.

      “Criticise me, hate me, but think about what matters in the issues. Right? Think about the world you want to live in.” Edward Snowden

      The decision by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden to reveal covert US surveillance programs exposed the massive capabilities of the US spy agency to monitor communications around the globe.

    • WikiLeaks posts data from CIA director’s email account

      CIA director John Brennan reportedly used his AOL account to store possibly classified — or, at very least, sensitive — materials.

    • Wikileaks Doxxes CIA Chief’s Wife and Daughters

      It will go down as one of Wikileaks’ more astonishing achievements that it managed to turn the director of the CIA—a man who some have vilified as the architect of the drone wars and an endorser of torture—into a sympathetic character.

    • What We Learned From the CIA Director’s WikiLeaked Emails

      WikiLeaks has vowed to release what will likely be even more tedious personal information in the coming days.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • “World in Danger: Fukushima” November 18th

      Three molten nuclear reactor cores are still missing and the radioactive contamination that this 300 ton mass of ‘corium’ continues to generate & release shows no signs of abating, in fact is increasing.

    • Former Koch Industries Official Says He Ghostwrote Letters On Behalf of Congressmen [Ed: older]

      The LinkedIn profile of a former officer of the company lends credibility to that argument. In it, he boasts that as part of the Koch Industries’ communication team, he helped write opinion columns and letters that were signed by members of Congress.

      Richard Tucker, a former communications manager at Koch Industries from August 2010 thro
      ugh March 2012, wrote in his LinkedIn profile that he was responsible for “op-eds and letters to the editor that were signed by company leaders, members of congress and citizen activists.” Tucker, a writer and editor for a number of conservative websites, said he also wrote “regular blog posts for company employees to help explain important Washington policy debates” and was a member of the “crisis communication team that produced swift responses to negative press coverage.”

    • Chinese-built reactor at Bradwell could have ‘major impact’ on estuary

      Conservation charities have expressed alarm at plans for a Chinese-built nuclear power station in Essex, with one saying the plant could have “major impacts” on the estuary location, a haven for birds and marine life.

      The new reactor in Bradwell, on the heavily protected Blackwater estuary, east of Chelmsford, could be confirmed this week during a state visit to Britain by China’s president, Xi Jinping.

      The conservation concerns come on top of worries over the security implications of Chinese involvement in the UK nuclear industry.

  • Finance

    • Screw meritocracy: reward the lazy and stupid

      It is time to admit the truth: meritocracy is BS. What we really have is a system run by people who create arbitrary measures of worthiness to perpetuate a status quo, a power structure that benefits them. Getting rid of the system and replacing it with one in which everyone’s unique gifts are valued equally — that would be meritocratic.

    • F*** a Wage, Take Over the Business: A How-To with Economist Richard Wolff

      In this interview, we discuss wages, a pertinent current topic with the ongoing struggle for $15/hr, stagnating worker incomes, and what will be TPP’s further attack on wages in the United States. More importantly, what began as a discussion of wages quickly developed into a much broader critique of the current system’s political economy, and a way to fundamentally alter the way we produce, distribute, and consume. It is not enough to bargain with capitalists. We must instead look to how workers can take over the means of production and employ them for the benefit and wellbeing of all.

    • Wealth therapy is a sick joke: Meet the 1 percenters finding solace in wealth redistribution

      In a political and economic system seemingly tailor-made for the 1 percent, backlash against “wealth therapy” — the trend of moneyed Americans seeking counsel through their Occupy-induced feeling of shame and isolation — is well-placed. While the top 0.1 percent of families in the United States possess as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, money psychologist Jamie Traege-Muney moaned to The Guardian that the movement wrongly “singled out the 1 percent and painted them globally as something negative.”

      But a growing cadre of this statistical owning class are now crafting a healthier relationship to the rabble at their doorstep. Responding to Occupy and other movement moments, young people with wealth are organizing the resources of their peers and families to level the playing field — and support one another in the process.

    • Dying to work for Amazon: Where’s the outrage for the exploited, vulnerable temp workers who make Bezos’s empire run?

      Earlier this week, Amazon dragged itself back into the news with a retort to the New York Times over the paper’s scorching coverage: The two-months later response reminded people how devastating the Times’ story on the company’s white-collar workforce had been. That piece that chronicled a demoralized, overworked office staff in painful detail was surely revisited by many readers.

      But a new story about the way Amazon treats workers lower down the food chain is even more poignant: “The Life and Death of an Amazon Warehouse Temp,” in the Huffington Post, spends most of its time on one 29-year-old man who died while toiling in a Virginia “fulfillment center.” The story’s detailed look at the life of Jeff Lockhart Jr. helps humanize the piece. But overall, what the rigorously reported and sharply written story exposes is a larger crisis among low-wage workers: One that’s being very profitably exploited by temp companies.

      The majority of the story concerns Lockhart, who came in as an Amazon temp after being laid off at a building supply store. A burly, 300-pound guy who married his high school sweetheart – they had three children between them – he worked as a “picker,” taking orders from a handheld scanner. He was fast and good. The constant labor at the speeds required, perhaps, was not especially healthy for a man of his size. One winter morning about 2 a.m., he went to eat “lunch” in his car, called his wife, and went back to work. “Less than an hour later,” reporter Dave Jamieson writes, “a worker found Jeff on the third floor. He had collapsed and was lying unconscious in aisle A-215, beneath shelves stocked with Tupperware and heating pads.”

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • O’Reilly Now Denies He Compared Black Lives Matter To Nazis

      BILL O’REILLY: “Bill, I disagree with your comparison of Black Lives Matter to American Nazis.” [I] did not make that comparison, Talli. Didn’t make it. I asked if the Republican group — if a Republican group — embraced a radical group like Stormfront, would that be acceptable? In light of the Democrats not having a problem with Black Lives Matter? It’s all about radicalism.

    • Ouch! Megyn Kelly has no time for Jeb Bush: Fox News anchor dismisses him on 9/11 and Trump

      Jeb Bush has evidently never seen the memo given to George W. Bush in August 2001 about Osama bin Laden’s determination to attack the United States and perhaps hijack airplanes.

      He went on Fox News last night to criticize Hillary Clinton over #Benghazi, but Megyn Kelly wanted to know why it was right to criticize Clinton for the deaths in Libya, but not his brother for the deaths on September 11. He insisted there was no double standard.

      “Not at all because if someone had evidence that there was a pending attack, there was — a lot of investigations after 9/11, if there was evidence that there was an attack that was pending and no one acted, of course there were have been criticism, but that’s not the case.”

  • Censorship

    • Singaporean teen vlogger Amos Yee says he and Joshua Wong are ‘completely different’

      Singaporean teenage vlogger Amos Yee has said that he and Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong are completely different, to which Wong responded by saying that Yee was braver than himself. The comments came after an article on Fusion featured the pair and named them as examples of “a new generation of teen activists who are shaking up politics in Asia”.

    • COMMENT: Setting the bar on acceptable speech

      What would you show your in-laws? A doodle of Lee Kuan Yew and Margaret Thatcher in a compromising position, perhaps? Or maybe not, as Justice Tay Yong Kwang raised just such a scenario in court recently. When one of teen blogger Amos Yee’s lawyers argued that the drawing was not obscene because it did not contain any genitalia, Tay’s response was that an image need not be explicit to be obscene, and that it was unlikely a young man visiting his girlfriend’s parents would show his prospective in-laws such an image.

    • Curbing ‘slash and burn’ teen bloggers [Ed: The mouthpiece of the Singapore regime]
    • Hong Kong’s distinct advantage is freedom, but for how long?

      He was born and raised in Hong Kong, has worked in Hong Kong, the Mainland and the United States, and is currently working in Singapore at a top-notch multinational corporation.

      According to Kwok, many expatriates in Singapore (including himself) share this sentiment: “Singapore is a nice place for work but it can hardly be our home.”

      But in the present day, is Hong Kong much better? The factors that have historically made Hong Kong such a stellar success include its positioning as an international city; its high safety standards; the quality of its workforce; its trusted systems and institutions; and a simple tax regime. But these advantages are fading and Singapore has outpaced Hong Kong in almost all of them. Even local tycoon Li Ka-shing has reportedly drawn up a “Plan B” to move at least part of his empire out of Hong Kong, and has asked Hong Kong to learn from Singapore.

    • Oxford University in censorship row as police seize copies of ‘offensive’ student magazine

      Oxford University is embroiled in a censorship row after police confiscated 150 copies of a controversial student magazine.

      The officers were called by student union leaders who claimed the No Offence magazine might upset rape victims and people from ethnic minorities.

      Editor Jacob Williams said he was prevented from distributing the magazines. He feared being arrested as Thames Valley Police decided whether he had committed a crime, but they have now decided that no further action will be taken.

    • Like oil and water, censorship and writers festivals don’t mix

      Warning not to hold sessions dedicated to honouring the victims of the mass killings of 1965 accompanied issuing of festival permit.

    • Censorship pressure is on: Writers Festival cancels sessions on 1965 killings

      Less than a week before the festival kicks off, organizers for the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) were forced to cancel a series of events discussing Indonesia’s controversial 1965 killings.

    • Netizen Report: Uganda Vows to Step Up Online Censorship

      A series of recent stories on Internet policy in Uganda paints a grim picture of the online-speech environment in the country. On October 6, Internal Affairs Minister James Baba announced plans to enforce new regulations governing the use of social media for Ugandans. Little more is known about the regulations at present, but the bill likely bodes poorly for Uganda’s tense speech environment. Advocates at Unwanted Witness, a local human rights and free expression organization, worry that the law will compound the chilling effects of already-existing cyber laws in the country such as the Computer Misuse Act, the Anti-Pornography law and the Communications Act.

    • Uber CEO accuses Chinese messaging app WeChat of censorship

      Chief executive Travis Kalanick claimed messaging app WeChat, whose owners invest in Uber rival Didi Kuaidi, blocks Uber-related news

    • Ukraine’s New Banned Websites Registry: Security Measure or Censorship Tool?

      When Ukraine’s Interior Minister announced the initiative to form a new cyberpolice unit on October 11, the focus of the media coverage—and of Minister Avakov’s statement—was very much on fighting online crime and beefing up the information security practices of the Ukrainian government. The launch was touted as successful, with over three thousand Ukrainians applying to join the cyberpolice force in the first 24 hours after the announcement. But amid the robust response to plans for the cybercrime unit, an arguably less popular element of the initiative flew under many Ukrainians’ radars.

    • Yemen rebels using Canadian software to censor Internet, report finds

      A Canadian software company is helping Yemen’s Houthi rebels expand the country’s Internet censorship regime in the midst of a bloody civil war, according to a new report from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.

    • Researchers Accuse Canadian Internet Company of Helping Yemen Censor the Web

      The Yemeni civil war, which has killed more than 5,400 people in seven months, has been fought not only on the streets, but online as well.

      Houthi rebels, who have forced the government into exile, have been using technology provided by Canadian internet-filtering company Netsweeper to indiscriminately censor large swaths of the internet critical of the rebel group, according to new research.

    • Canadian Internet-filtering company accused of aiding censorship in war-torn Yemen

      Researchers at the Citizen Lab, an Internet-monitoring project at the Munk School of Global Affairs, say technology sold by Waterloo-based Netsweeper Inc. is increasingly being used to restrict access to websites on Yemen’s state-owned internet service provider, YemenNet.

    • ‘Liberal academics let censorship happen’
    • New research shows Twitter drastically under-reports its censorship

      Twitter “radically under-reports” censorship by Turkey, one of the world’s most prolific Internet censors, according to new research from the Association of Computing Machinery.

      Rocked by domestic and international unrest as well as an increasingly authoritarian government, Turkey’s government has in recent years frequently turned to mass censorship as an answer to unsolved political problems.

    • Coalition calls on Turkey to protect press freedom

      Following the conclusion of an Oct. 19 to 21, 2015 joint international emergency press freedom mission to Turkey, representatives of participating international, regional and local groups dedicated to press freedom and free expression find that pressure on journalists operating in Turkey has severely escalated in the period between parliamentary elections held June 7 and the upcoming elections.

    • Crackdown on media increases with new detentions, attacks, censorship, report says
    • Satellite operator’s political censorship hurts Turkey’s image, warn diplomats

      Former ambassadors and prominent politicians have warned against satellite operator Türksat AS’s censorship of Bugün TV, Kanaltürk, Samanyolu TV, S Haber, Mehtap TV, Irmak TV and Yumurcak TV, citing negative implications for the country’s image abroad, as well as violations of international law.

    • Court creates ‘preventive censorship’ to halt Nokta publication of AK Party meeting minutes
    • Censorship looms amid rise of Hindu nationalism in India

      In the last few weeks, at least 40 Indian writers have returned top literary prizes in protest of what they call a “climate of intolerance”. Novelists, poets and playwrights say that since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party came to power with the election of Prime Minister Modi, the country has seen a rise in Hindu nationalism that has led to less freedom of speech and respect for secular rights. Writer Sonia Faleiro, and Wendy Doniger, whose book on Hindus was withdrawn from publication in India, join us to discuss the current climate in India.

    • Egypt’s Censorship Authority questions Morgan Freeman’s presence in Egypt

      Egypt’s Censorship Authority contacted the Egypt’s National Security Agency asking to clarify the legal status of the Story of God crew’s presence in Cairo.

      The film is produced by National Geographic Channel with renowned American actor Morgan Freeman as its executive producer and host.

    • PNG government accused of censorship as it moves to crack down on social media dissent

      Papua New Guinea’s government is preparing to crack down on people who use social media sites to criticise politicians.

    • Book Banning in… New Jersey?

      It turns out that some people decided to celebrate the end of Banned Books Week at the beginning of this month by… well, trying to remove books from schools.

      We saw some two cases in New Jersey that demonstrated, once again, that some parents and administrators think the way to deal with literature that some find offensive is to get it out of the schools as fast as possible.

    • Voluntary Practices and Rights Protection Mechanisms: Whitewashing Censorship at ICANN

      Perhaps the toughest challenge facing any putatively multi-stakeholder governance process is its capture by vested interests. ICANN is a textbook illustration of this. Ever since its formation, public interest advocates have been engaged in a struggle to assert their influence within ICANN against an onslaught of intellectual property lobbyists, intent on stacking every committee and process with their own trademark, copyright and patent lawyers.

      IP owners have attempted to subvert the ICANN policy process by introducing vague language into ICANN’s contracts and then seeking to reinterpret them as mandates for draconian IP enforcement without court supervision. A key event was the introduction of a 2013 revision to ICANN’s agreement with registrars, that requires them to take unspecified enforcement measures against those who “abuse” domain names. This has led to demands from copyright and pharma interests that registrars cancel domain names allegedly used to host or sell allegedly infringing content, side-stepping the small issue of such allegations actually being reviewed by a court.

    • Portugal’s journalists under pressure from Angolan money

      In their search to invest their oil and diamond money in Europe, the Angolan oligarchy has bought strategic positions in the Portuguese media in recent years — a bid to gain prestige while silencing news concerning endemic corruption and human rights violations of the regime headed by José Eduardo dos Santos for the past 36 years

    • Internet censorship in Russia

      Russia has already blocked over 10,000 internet sites, describing them as propaganda for terrorism or pornography. But pages critical of the Kremlin have also been “deleted”.

    • South Africa’s “biggest protests since apartheid”

      South Africa’s government seeks to ban a hashtag as thousands of students protest about fees

    • Sloppy U.N. Cyberviolence Report Uses Damsels in Digital Distress to Cheer Censorship

      Why did the U.N. feel justified in recommending such illiberal censorship policies while providing such shoddy evidence to back their claims?

    • Joking About Syria on Venmo Will Get You in Trouble With Security

      When told at the wrong place at the wrong time, certain jokes can get you into big trouble. Jokes about sex at work. Jokes about bombs in an airport. And now: jokes about government conspiracies on Venmo.

    • Don’t Joke About Syria on Venmo Unless You Want to Get Flagged
    • Venmo investigates joke payment that mentions Syria
    • The Words That Will Get You in Trouble on Venmo
    • You probably shouldn’t crack jokes about Syria when you’re making a Venmo payment
    • Don’t Joke Around When Sending Venmo Payments
    • Artist Ai Weiwei banned from using Lego to build Australian artwork

      Chinese artist says toy company told him it ‘cannot approve the use of Legos for political works’ ahead of exhibition at National Gallery of Victoria

    • How free is the press in Germany?

      The Press Freedom Index 2015, published by Reporters Without Borders, ranks Germany 12th in terms of press freedom. The working environment for journalists is sound, according to their report. However, journalists researching far-right political issues are reported to be monitored by the federal government. If the data storage law is passed, that could push down Germany’s future ranking on the Press Freedom Index.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Talking Tough to Turkey

      When suicide bombers killed at least 97 people at a rally of pro-Kurdish activists and civic groups advocating peace between the Turkish government and the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Ankara on October 10, the government’s response was as rapid as it was troubling. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu swiftly imposed a temporary broadcast ban on images of the terror attack, and many in the country reported that Twitter had been blocked on some of the most widely used mobile networks, including Turkcell and TTNET.

    • U.N. Report Calls on Governments to Protect Whistleblowers Like Snowden, Not Prosecute Them

      The U.N. envoy charged with safeguarding free speech around the globe has declared in a dramatic new report that confidential sources and whistleblowers are a crucial element of a healthy democracy, and that governments should protect them rather than demonize them.

      The report by David Kaye, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, also highlights the harsh treatment of whistleblowers in the U.S., most notably former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is living in Russia as fugitive from the U.S. government.

    • Has the “war on terror” turned us into the enemy?

      It’s hard to imagine a single American willing to shell out money to see a political documentary who doesn’t already know nearly everything they’ll be told in Imminent Threat, Janek Ambros’s omnibus about governmental overreach in the post-9/11 world. Certainly one could argue that the shortage of meaningful action on domestic spying, remote-control killing and suppression of dissent proves that more citizens must voice their disapproval. But this crudely crafted film will be one of the least effective voices in that ongoing debate; only the support of actor James Cromwell, who lends his name here as exec-producer, gives the doc a chance of attracting more than the usual rabble-rousing crowd.

    • Xi Jinping protesters arrested and homes searched over London demonstrations

      Dissidents from China and Tibet have accused British police of a significant overreaction after they were arrested under public order laws and had their houses searched following peaceful protests against the visiting Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

      Shao Jiang, a survivor of the Tiananmen Square massacre now based in the UK, said he was shocked to be tackled by police after holding placards in front of Xi’s motorcade in London, and to learn his home had been searched and computers seized while he was in custody.

    • Prison phone companies fight for right to charge inmates $14 a minute

      The Federal Communications Commission is about to face another lawsuit, this time over a vote to cap the prices prisoners pay for phone calls.

      Yesterday’s vote came after complaints that inmate-calling companies are overcharging prisoners, their families, and attorneys. Saying the price of calls sometimes hits $14 per minute, the FCC has now capped rates at 11¢ per minute.

    • Civil Rights Groups Welcome FCC Ruling On Prison Phone Fees

      On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that fees charged to inmates and their families for phone calls made from prison were “unconscionable and egregious.” The agency set caps for the first time on local and intrastate long distance calls, while further cutting fees for interstate calls. In some states, such calls once cost as much as $17 for a 15-minute conversation with added fees included; now, such calls will be capped at 11 cents per minute in state and federal prisons, only going as high as 22 cents per minute in small jails. Pricey add-ons, such as automated payments and paper-bill fees, have also been reined in significantly.

    • Wife of Missouri-born jailed ex-CIA whistleblower asks Obama for pardon
    • How “Progressive Media” Go Wrong: the Case of Jeffrey Sterling
    • Unprecedented News Conference: Wife of Imprisoned CIA Whistleblower to Speak Out
    • Wife Of Imprisoned CIA Whistleblower Looks To Obama For Pardon
    • Wife of convicted former CIA spy asks President Obama for pardon
    • Breaking Silence, Wife of Jailed CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Seeks Presidential Pardon
    • Jeffrey Sterling’s Selective Prosecution Exposes CIA Double Standards

      Holly Sterling, the wife of a former CIA officer convicted of leaking details about a botched CIA plan to give flawed nuclear blueprints to Iran, has asked President Barack Obama to pardon her husband who was targeted for prosecution after accusing the CIA of racial discrimination and taking his concerns about the Iran scheme to congressional authorities.

      In a 14-page letter to President Obama, Holly Sterling recounted the personal nightmare of the US government’s relentless pursuit of her husband, Jeffrey Sterling, an African-American, after an account of the Iran operation – codenamed Operation Merlin – appeared in State of War, a 2006 book by New York Times reporter James Risen.

    • It’s Illegal To Tell the Truth

      John Kiriakou is an American patriot who informed us of the criminal behavior of illegal and immoral US “cloak and dagger” operations that were bringing dishonor to our country. His reward was to be called a “traitor” by the idiot conservative Republicans and sentenced to prison by the corrupt US government.

    • How the government scapegoats hackers to justify violating your privacy

      The anonymous hacker is quickly replacing the terrorist as the go-to bogeyman in the American cultural imagination. Like Islamist radicals, the kinds of hackers that have brought down the servers of corporate giants and government agencies are mysterious and stealthy, spreading fear and paranoia from a faraway land.

    • Jesselyn Radack speaks out for whistleblowers (transcript)

      “The Obama Administration has presided over the most draconian crackdown on national security and intelligence whistleblowers in US history.” Jesselyn Radack is the Yale graduate who defends those whistleblowers in court. She spoke out for Jeffrey Sterling at the National Press Club last week. Here is the video and transcript.

    • Topless Femen protesters ‘kicked during scuffles’ at Muslim conference about women

      Two topless feminist protesters from Femen have stormed the stage of a conference discussing women in Islam.

      A video of the incident appears to show one of the activists being kicked by a man as she is hauled off stage at the event in France.

      The two women are from the Femen activist group, whose members are known for protesting topless with writing across their chest.

    • Black Lives Matter: The Real War On Terror

      Journalist Ashoka Jegroo says that the movement against racialized police brutality aims to challenge state-sanctioned terror.

      It’s been more than a year since the murders of Mike Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island at the hands of police. But the fire lit by their unjust deaths has yet to be extinguished. And once again, people are protesting.

    • Feds announce drone registration system

      The Federal Aviation Administration along with the Transportation Department has announced a drone regulation system requiring recreational drone users to register their devices, according to news outlets.

    • Police obtained Hager data without court order
    • Is This America? Chicago Police Detain Thousands of Black Men in Homan Square, CIA-Style Facility

      Is This America? Chicago Police Detain Thousands of Black Men in Homan Square, CIA-Style Facility

    • FBI Director Defends Baltimore Spy Flights, Says It’s Helpful To Know “Where Are People Gathering”

      FBI Surveillance flights over Baltimore and Ferguson as residents of those cities engaged in civil disobedience against racially-motivated police violence were lawful and useful, bureau Director James Comey claimed Thursday.

      Comey said that the missions were flown at the behest of local law enforcement in each case, as demonstrations raged against the killings of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray by city cops.

    • F.B.I. Chief Links Scrutiny of Police With Rise in Violent Crime

      The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said on Friday that the additional scrutiny and criticism of police officers in the wake of highly publicized episodes of police brutality may have led to an increase in violent crime in some cities as officers have become less aggressive.

    • CIA Agent Convicted in Italy for Kidnapping Detained in Portugal
    • Former CIA Operative Sabrina De Sousa Arrested in Portugal

      Sabrina De Sousa, a former CIA operations officer who was convicted in absentia along with other agency personnel for her role in a 2003 plot to kidnap a suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist in Italy, has been detained in Portugal.

    • Nicky Byrne: ‘I thought CIA torture story was a joke from Waterford Whispers’
    • This is why the CIA used Westlife to interrogate prisoners

      You might well enjoy hearing the ballad a few times in a day. But full volume continuously for days on end?

    • CIA Torture Update: German Human Rights Group Files Complaint Against Alfreda Frances Bikowsky In Khaled El-Masri Case
    • German human rights group files complaint against CIA ‘Queen of Torture’
    • ACLU sues CIA contractors on behalf of torture victims
    • Here the rain never finishes: exclusive CIA torture report from the ACLU – video
    • Torture by another name: CIA used ‘water dousing’ on at least 12 detainees
    • CIA Torture Update: Water Dousing Used On At Least 12 Detainees
    • Torture By Another Name: CIA Misled About ‘Water Dousing’
    • John Kiriakou will be at UNC-Chapel Hill on Tuesday night
    • Psychologists who devised CIA torture programme sued

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued writs against two psychologists who devised the CIA’s Bush-era interrogation programme on Tuesday (13 October), saying they encouraged the agency “to adopt torture as official policy”.

      James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two former military psychologists, “designed the torture methods and performed illegal human experimentation on CIA prisoners to test and refine the programme,” the ACLU said in a statement. “They personally took part in torture sessions and oversaw the programme’s implementation for the CIA,” it added. ACLU also said the men enriched themselves to the tune of millions of dollars in the process.

    • CIA Prisoners Sue Psychologists Over Torture Contracts
    • Psychologists from Spokane Helped CIA to Set Up Its Interrogation Program
    • Cornell Professor Says Lawsuit Overdue Against Architects of CIA Detention Program
    • Psychologists Accused of “Criminal Enterprise” With CIA Over Torture
    • ACLU Sues Two Psychologists For Developing CIA Interrogation Program

      DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: The two psychologists named in the ACLU’s lawsuit are former CIA contractors James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

    • CIA tortures: Will US be held accountable?

      There is a likelihood the CIA will sooner or later be brought to justice in the US and internationally for its brutal interrogation techniques, Ben Davis a member of the Advocates for US Torture Prosecutions told RT.

      Several letters from the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have been revealed by WikiLeaks. In one of them vice chairman Christopher Bond suggests that agencies should be able to use any interrogation means available to them, without waiting for explicit approval. Bond also suggests methods which should be prohibited.

    • EU countries faulted for not probing CIA renditions

      EU countries have not done enough to investigate the CIA’s detention, torture and rendition programs in Europe, MEPs were told Tuesday.

      The debate in the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee included testimony from activists critical of EU member countries’ responses to revelations in a 2014 report by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

    • German torture case against CIA official

      The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) on Oct. 19 filed a criminal complaint against a high-ranking CIA official for mistreatment of Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen who was detained and allegedly tortured for four months in 2003. El-Masri was on vacation in Macedonia when he was mistaken for Khalid al-Masri, a suspect in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. El-Masri was then transported to Afghanistan where he was detained and questioned for four months under the direction of Alfreda Frances Bikowsky. At the time, Bikowsky was deputy chief of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Bin Laden Issue Station. ECCHR asserts in the complaint that the US Senate Torture Report ties Bikowsky to el-Masri’s detention, and ECCHR requests that the German federal prosecutor investigate.

    • Former CIA Interrogator Forced to Resign From College Post

      The Newsweek article focused on Martine’s relationship to the notorious November 2003 death of a captured terrorist suspect in Iraq known as “the Iceman,” because his corpse was put on ice and hooked up to an IV to make it look as if he were still alive when he was removed from Abu Ghraib prison. It also noted that Martine and other former interrogators had been repeatedly investigated by the CIA’s internal watchdog as well as a federal grand jury and neither charged nor exonerated.

    • The Small Brooklyn Publisher That Brought The CIA Torture Report To The World

      Dennis Johnson remembers a Melville House staff meeting on a Tuesday morning last winter, smack in the middle of the publishing industry’s busy holiday season. It was Dec. 9, and a few hours south of the publishing house’s Brooklyn office, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was having a triumphant moment. After years of uphill battles, she was finally publicly releasing part of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s grueling interrogation report, an extended, often stomach-churning look at the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program.

      It was a long-awaited publication, a culminating moment in a yearslong political battle and a sobering day of reckoning for the American public. Except no one outside the Government Printing Office wanted to touch it.

    • CIA Interrogation Methods Continue To Come Under Fire

      It looks like it will take a lot to finally stop the CIA’s use of torture techniques. Hopefully this stint will force them to reinvent and polish their approach to gathering intelligence.

    • Bob Marley Now Soothes Man Who Was Allegedly Tortured With Westlife by the CIA

      Suleiman Abdullah Salim says he listens to Bob Marley to help cope after undergoing what a new American Civil Liberties Lawsuit alleges were unlawful CIA interrogation techniques that included the use of music as torture.

    • REVEALED: The boom and bust of the CIA’s secret torture sites

      In spring 2003 an unnamed official at CIA headquarters in Langley sat down to compose a memo. It was 18 months after George W Bush had declared war on terror. “We cannot have enough blacksite hosts,” the official wrote. The reference was to one of the most closely guarded secrets of that war – the countries that had agreed to host the CIA’s covert prison sites.

      Between 2002 and 2008, at least 119 people disappeared into a worldwide detention network run by the CIA and facilitated by its foreign partners.

      Lawyers, journalists and human rights organisations spent the next decade trying to figure out whom the CIA had snatched and where it had put them. A mammoth investigation by the US Senate’s intelligence committee finally named 119 of the prisoners in December 2014. It also offered new insights into how the black site network functioned – and gruesome, graphic accounts of abuses perpetrated within it.

    • Romania Backs ‘Secret CIA Jails’ Probe

      “There is no further evidence that Romania was complicit in the CIA’s covert detention programme. We stand by the conclusion of the parliamentary inquiries, which uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing. And no new evidence has emerged in the meantime,” MP Marius Obreja, the head of the Parliamentary Defence Committee, said on Saturday.

    • CIA’s European Prisons Back in the Spotlight
    • Romania Denies Complicity With CIA-Led Secret Detention Program
    • CIA: There Was a JFK Assassination Cover-Up

      At some point in the fall of 2014 the CIA quietly said, ‘we’ll just leave this here’ and published a bombshell PDF of a declassified article on George Washington University’s National Security Archive. The 2013 piece by CIA Chief Historian David Robarge is titled “[Director of Central Intelligence] John McCone and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy” and it basically admits that McCone—appointed by JFK to head the agency—was a little squirrelly in his testimony before the Warren Commission.

    • Yes, the CIA director was part of the JFK assassination cover up
    • Former CIA director was part of a ‘benign cover-up’ to withhold information from investigators about JFK’s assassination

      A former CIA director withheld information about President John F Kennedy’s assassination, according to declassified agency reports.

      The CIA reports, which were declassified last fall, claim that then-agency head John McCone and other top officials were part of a ‘benign cover-up’ surrounding the assassination of Kennedy in November 1963.

      The report’s author, CIA historian David Robarge, claims McCone withheld information to keep the Warren Commission focused on what the agency believed to by the ‘best truth… that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone,’ according to Politico.

    • The US is No ‘Safe Harbor’ for Citizens’ Data

      What happens to your Facebook data — your identity information, photos, links and “likes” — when you share it outside of the US? Plenty. Your data will flow from your computer, to the nearest servers of the company, and eventually land at Facebook’s home servers in California, where it will likely be mined by Facebook for commercial gain and subject to snooping by the NSA.

      What laws protect your information along the way? Not many. But a recent court ruling should change this for European Internet users.

      Until this month, a “Safe Harbor” regulatory policy agreement between the US and EU allowed companies like Facebook and Google to self-regulate the transfer of data between Europe and the US. It is now formally dead. Unilaterally approved by the European Commission in 2000, the policy allowed companies to promise that they would abide by EU privacy laws when handling the data of EU persons, without needing to provide explicit proof of their compliance. Among other things, it required companies to notify users of the collection and use of their data, allow them to opt out of its collection or transfer, and keep it secure.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Closing the Loopholes in Europe’s Net Neutrality Compromise

      Since our last update on the upcoming net neutrality regulation in the European Union, a further compromise proposal has been developed, which heads to a vote in the European Parliament on Tuesday next week. On its face, the draft regulation appears to hit all the most important points, including providing that “When providing internet access services, providers of those services should treat all traffic equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference, independently of its sender or receiver, content, application or service, or terminal equipment”.

    • European net neutrality threat needs urgent action, says US lawyer

      IT IS PANIC STATIONS across the Atlantic as the good people of America wake up to the threat to net neutrality in Europe.

      A sage lawyer, Barbara van Schewick, is warning about a vote in the European Parliament next week designed to preserve net neutrality, saying that it is likely to fall in such a way that reflects badly on trade and communications.

      Van Schewick, who is professor of law and director of Stanford Law School’s Centre for Internet and Society, said that parliament members have a few days to get their heads in order and adopt what she called “key amendments”.

    • EU net neutrality goes on the chopping block next week: Here’s how to fix it

      On Tuesday next week, October 27, the European Parliament will vote in Strasbourg on rules that are supposed to protect net neutrality in the EU. The proposed text emerged from the so-called “trilogue” meeting between the European Commission, European Parliament, and the EU Council held in June to reach a “compromise” text taking into account the differing views held by the three institutions. However, there are serious problems with the compromise rules, and in the run-up to the vote next week, digital activists are urging the public to contact MEPs to ask them to support amendments that will fix the main issues.

    • Slate Informs Its Readers That Confusing, Unnecessary, Anti-Competitive Broadband Usage Caps Are Simply Wonderful

      For years we’ve explained that broadband usage caps are a horrible idea. Not only do they hinder innovation and confuse the hell out of customers — but they simply aren’t necessary on modern, intelligently-managed networks. Caps are an inelegant and impractical way to handle congestion, and U.S. broadband consumers already pay some of the highest prices for broadband in the developed world (2015 OECD data), more than covering the cost of running a network (as any incumbent ISP earnings report can attest).

    • Google Partnering With Indian Railways To Provide Wi-Fi Hotspots: Report

      Internet access will be free for passengers after the system verifies a user’s mobile number with a one-time password sent by text message. However, only the first 30 minutes of usage will be on high-speed Internet, Telecom Talk reported.

    • “Killswitch” Documentary Is a Terriyfing Look at the Battle for Control of the Internet

      The Internet is many things, but above all it is power. The power to communicate and connect, to document and share. And like any source of power, there is a battle over who gets to control it. Every day in the headlines, we see the war over net neutrality between governments, private enterprise, hackers, and activists waging. At the core, it is a battle to preserve freedom of communication and protect the population from government surveillance.

    • The Web is Gummed Up

      This is a sad story to write, but it’s been percolating in the back of my mind for months if not years: The World Wide Web is gummed up with crap. This realization came into sharp focus today when I visited some media sites like cbc.ca and my CPU utilization when up to 100% and stayed there. Exactly why firefox was using so much CPU was a bit of a mystery. I had autoplay in firefox turned off, and there didn’t appear to be any reason why the CPU should be maxed out.

    • Urgent: Net Neutrality in EU under Threat; Please Write to your MEPs Now

      The long saga of net neutrality in the EU is approaching its end, and things aren’t looking good. The compromise text contains some huge loopholes, which I’ve written about elsewhere. The key vote is on Tuesday, so there’s still time for EU citizens to write to their MEPs.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Nina Paley Argues Why Copyright Is Brain Damage

        We first wrote about Nina Paley in 2009, upon hearing about the ridiculous copyright mess she found herself in concerning her wonderful movie Sita Sings the Blues. While she eventually was able to sort out that mess and release the film, she also discovered that the more she shared the film, the more money she made, and she began to question copyright entirely. She originally released the film under a ShareAlike license, promising to go after people who didn’t uphold the ShareAlike parts, but then moved to a full public domain dedication and has become quite vocal in recent years about not supporting any kind of copyright and even raising some important concerns about many forms of Creative Commons licenses.

      • The Pirate Party Is Now More Popular in Iceland than the Government

        The Pirate Party, a movement founded in Sweden nine years ago, is continuing to surge across Europe, now surpassing Iceland’s local coalition government in recent polls.

        The Pirates have been ahead in the polls for several months now, according to the Iceland Monitor. In March, the party was at 23.9 percent, making it the most popular party in the country. Now, at 34.2 percent, the Pirates have surged past the country’s current coalition Government, which includes the Independence Party at 21.7 percent and the Progressive Party at 10.4 percent.

      • Filmmaker Unions Want to Criminalize Streaming Piracy

        Two prominent filmmaker unions are urging the government to criminalize streaming piracy. The labor unions describe streaming as the preferred viewing experience and argue that those who stream copyrighted movies without permission should face prison.

      • Warning Illegal Downloaders is Too Expensive, Record Labels Complain [Ed: quite old]

        New Zealand’s three-strikes anti-piracy law is turning into a huge disappointment for copyright holders. The costs that are involved with sending warning notices and pursuing cases at the copyright tribunal are proving to be too expensive. As a result, only one file-sharer was punished this year.

      • Nintendo Hates You: Massive Takedowns Of YouTube Videos Featuring Mario Bros. Fan-Created Levels

        As of late, Nintendo’s relationship with YouTube and the YouTube community has been, shall we say, tumultuous. After rolling out a bad policy to share revenue with YouTubers on the basis that those personalities torpedo their reputations by promising only positive Nintendo coverage, claiming the monetization for a large number of “let’s play” videos uploaded by independent YouTubers, and even going so far as to lay claim to the review of a Nintendo game created by well-known YouTuber “Angry Joe”, Nintendo clearly seems to believe that YouTube is not so much an independent community as it is some kind of official public relations wing for the company. This is really dumb on many different levels, but chiefly it’s dumb because it breeds ill-will amongst fans, of which Nintendo used to have many.

      • Time To Say Goodbye To All Pre-1972 Music?

        As we’ve been covering over the past few years, there’s been a big battle going on over the copyright status of “pre-1972 sound recordings.” That may sound like a weird thing to be arguing over, but it’s due to a weird bit of history in US copyright law. You see, for a very long time, Congress believed that copyright law could not cover sound recordings. However, various states stepped in and either through explicit state law or through common law, created copyright-like regulations for sound recordings. When copyright was finally updated in the 1976 Copyright Act, pre-1972 works were left out of the federal copyright system, even as federal copyright law basically wiped out all state copyright law for everything else. This has created some weird issues, including that some songs that should be in the public domain under federal copyright law are locked up in perpetuity. A simple and reasonable solution to this would be to just move pre-1972 sound recordings under federal copyright law and level the playing field. But, the RIAA has resisted this. That might seems strange, until you realize that the RIAA and its friends saw this weird quirk of copyright law as a wedge issue with which to try to squeeze more money out of everyone.

      • Is Running a Pirate Site Worse Than Stealing £8.5m From a Bank?

        This week an Irish man was handed a four-year sentence for running a pirate linking site. The Court accepted that he led no lavish lifestyle. In contrast, a man who stole almost £9m from a bank and bought homes worth £1.4m, three Bentleys, three Aston Martins, a Porsche 911 and a Rolls Royce, was also jailed. He received just 3.5 years. Fair?

      • Pirate Party Beats Iceland’s Government Coalition in the Polls

        The Pirate Party in Iceland continues to gain support, causing a revolution in the local political arena. According to the latest poll the party now has over a third of all votes in the country, beating the current Government coalition.

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