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11.12.15

Links 12/11/2015: Ubuntu Community Council Election, Fedora Goes for Wayland

Posted in News Roundup at 7:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Young computer scientist shares her open source story

    I’ve been using open source for a while—seven years, to be exact. That may not seem like a long time, but when you’re 16, that’s almost half your life. My open source story is that of discovery, education, and mentoring opportunities. I’ve been extremely lucky.

    I got started with open source in fifth grade over Christmas break. My Dad showed me how to write bash scripts on Linux in what we called “Daddy’s Computer Camp.” That February, I made my Dad a Valentine’s Day robot that had bash code on the front.

  • Open source, Agile and DevOps core principles of NHS Spine 2

    Using open source tools, developing using Agile and DevOps techniques, and not signing contracts worth over £100 million were three of the core principles of building the NHS Spine 2 system – the digital backbone of the NHS which was migrated on to open source system last year.

  • 9 Useful Open Source Big Data Tools

    Hadoop is not the end-all, be-all of Big Data. There are lots of other Big Data platforms and tools, many of which are open source.

  • From open source to open community: ex-MySQL and Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos signs on with HackerOne

    When Hewlett-Packard (back in the days when it was one company) acquired open source cloud infrastructure vendor Eucalyptus a year or two ago, many were left scratching their heads about what exactly HP planned to do with the company. Subsequent events have proved that confusion justified since Eucalyptus has gone nowhere and HP has had a lurching series of pivots around its cloud strategy. Indeed, the only logical thing about the deal was that HP would get the services of a very seasoned executive in Marten Mickos. Prior to joining HP, Mickos was CEO of Eucalyptus and before that CEO of MySQL, the open source database company.

  • SAP’s HANA will lose the big data war without open source, as proven by 21 new security flaws

    SAP has been boasting about its “revolutionary” big data platform, SAP HANA, for years. While its claims have always been a bit suspect, recent revelations that HANA is riddled with critical security flaws only reinforce the mantra that, when it comes to big data infrastructure, open source is best.

  • Ex-MySQL CEO Marten Mickos On Leadership And The Open Source Revolution

    Marten Mickos is the newly announced CEO of bug bounty platform HackerOne. Marten, a Finnish native, is a proven CEO; he led the iconic open source database company MySQL, and later worked for Sun Microsystems after their acquisition of that company.

    He then led cloud software company Eucalyptus Systems, which was acquired by HP. He has also served on the board of Nokia & has been spearheading the online School of Herring, which focuses on leadership.

  • Support For Old Hardware Is Being Removed From Coreboot

    Coreboot developers are taking to their Git tree and dropping support for old motherboards and chipsets.

    Yesterday saw the removal in Git of many Tyan motherboards as well as some from IWILL and Newisys and IBM.

  • Hired adds transparency to the hiring process, makes tech open source

    Whether you’re a potential employee or a potential employer, the thing that matters most is that you find the right fit: the right job offer, location, compensation and the right co-workers. Hired is looking to fill the specialty-job niche by pre-screening both parties before the resumes start circulating and the interviews begin.

    Admit it, if you’re an employer, to grow your business you need talent. To that end, Hired delivers a curated pool of responsive candidates so less time is spent sourcing and more time devoted to interviewing and hiring.

  • NIA: Midokura’s open source MidoNet doesn’t hold back

    Midokura wins this month’s Network Innovation Award for MidoNet Community Edition, an open source version of its flagship product.

  • Open ethos powers Aleph Objects’ success

    We are firmly committed to advancing free software, libre innovation, and open source hardware. A LulzBot 3D printer was the first hardware product and only 3D printer to meet the Open Source Hardware Association definition and earn the Free Software Foundation’s Respects Your Freedom certification.

  • Google Offers Up Its Entire Machine Learning Library as Open-Source Software
  • TensorFlow could be Google’s new, open-source, central nervous system
  • Google Opens Floodgates for TensorFlow Development
  • TensorFlow – Google’s latest machine learning system, open sourced for everyone
  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • SwiftStack Advances OpenStack Cloud Storage [VIDEO]

      The Swift storage project holds a unique place in the OpenStack big tent, as one of the two original projects (the other being Nova compute) for the open source cloud platform. SwiftStack is one of the leading contributors to the Swift project and also has its own commercially supported SwiftStack Object Storage enterprise product, which was recently updated to version 3.0.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Applying the Free Software Criteria

      The four essential freedoms provide the criteria for whether a particular piece of code is free/libre (i.e., respects its users’ freedom). How should we apply them to judge whether a software package, an operating system, a computer, or a web page is fit to recommend?

      Whether a program is free affects first of all our decisions about our private activities: to maintain our freedom, we need to reject the programs that would take it away. However, it also affects what we should say to others and do with others.

      A nonfree program is an injustice. To distribute a nonfree program, to recommend a nonfree program to other people, or more generally steer them into a course that leads to using nonfree software, means leading them to give up their freedom. To be sure, leading people to use nonfree software is not the same as installing nonfree software in their computers, but we should not lead people in the wrong direction.

      At a deeper level, we must not present a nonfree program as a solution because that would grant it legitimacy. Non-free software is a problem; to present it as a solution denies the existence of the problem.

    • Getting Started with GNU Radio

      Software Defined Radio (SDR)–the ability to process radio signals using software instead of electronics–is undeniably fascinating. However, there is a big gap from being able to use off-the-shelf SDR software and writing your own. After all, SDRs require lots of digital signal processing (DSP) at high speeds.

      Not many people could build a modern PC from scratch, but nearly anyone can get a motherboard, some I/O cards, a power supply, and a case and put together a custom system. That’s the idea behind GNU Radio and SDR. GNU Radio provides a wealth of Python functions that you can use to create sophisticated SDR application (or, indeed, any DSP application).

      If Python is still not up your alley (or even if it is), there’s an even easier way to use GNU Radio: The GNU Radio Companion (GRC). This is a mostly graphical approach, allowing you to thread together modules graphically and build simple GUIs to control you new radio.

    • GNU Scientific Library 2.1 released

      Version 2.1 of the GNU Scientific Library (GSL) is now available. GSL provides a large collection of routines for numerical computing in C.

      This release is primarily for fixing a few bugs present in the recent 2.0 release, but also provides a brand new module for solving large linear least squares problems.

    • Reproducible builds: a means to an end

      GNU Guix is committed to improving the freedom and autonomy of computer users. This obviously manifests in the fact that GuixSD is a fully free distro, and this is what GNU stands for. All the packages in Guix are built from source, including things like firmware where there is an unfortunate tendency to use pre-built binaries; that way, users can know what software they run. On the technical side, Guix also tries hard to empower users by making the whole system as hackable as possible, in a uniform way—making Freedom #1 practical, à la Emacs.

      Guix provides pre-compiled binaries of software packages as a service to its users—these are substitutes for local builds. This is a convenient way to save time, but it could become a threat to users if they cannot establish that those substitutes are authentic—that their Corresponding Source really is what it claims to be.

  • Project Releases

    • [dwm] 6.1 release

      After a long time (dwm 6.0 was released on 2011-12-19) it is time for a new dwm release. Thanks goes out to all the people involved at making the software better in various ways!

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open source software gains traction in federal IT

      Open source software has at last arrived in the government space, said industry executives and federal IT officials at the 2015 Red Hat Government Symposium Tuesday.

      Just 10 years ago, many agencies needed special permission to procure open source software — referring to code that’s freely available, and that users can change and improve on — said Paul Smith, vice president and general manager for public sector operations at Red Hat.

    • CSC Obtains FedRAMP Certification for PaaS Cloud Offering; Red Hat’s Paul Smith Comments

      Computer Sciences Corp. has received a Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program certification for the company’s ARCWRX cloud computing technology.

      CSC said Tuesday this is the second FedRAMP certification for the platform-as-a-service ARCWRX, which is based on Red Hat’s OpenShift and resides on CSC’s ARC-P platform.

  • Licensing

    • GPL Enforcement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

      The revelation of this clause has confused our community, as it appears as if this provision, once adopted, might impact or restrict the international operation of copyleft licenses. Below we explain that, while everyone should reject and oppose this provision — and the rest of TPP — this provision has no dramatic impact on copyleft licensing.

      First, as others have pointed out, Party is a defined term that refers specifically to government entities that sign the treaty. As such, the provision would only constrain the behavior of governments themselves. There are some obviously bad outcomes of this provision when those governmental entities interfere with public safety and ethical distribution of software, but we believe this provision will not interfere with international enforcement of copyleft.

      Copyleft licenses use copyright as a mechanism to keep software free. The central GPL mechanism that copyright holders exercise to ensure software freedom is termination of permission to copy, modify and distribute the software (per GPLv2§4 and GPLv3§8). Under GPL’s termination provisions, non-compliance results in an automatic termination of all copyright permissions. In practice, distributors can chose — either they can provide the source code or cease distribution. Once permissions terminate, any distribution of the GPL’d software infringes copyrights. Accordingly, in an enforcement action, there is no need to specifically compel a government to ask for disclosure of source code.

      For example, imagine if a non-US entity ships a GPL-violating, Linux-based product into the USA, and after many friendly attempts to achieve compliance, the violating company refuses to comply. Conservancy can sue the company in US federal court, and seek injunction for distribution of the foreign product in the USA, since the product infringes copyright by violating the license. The detailed reasons for that infringement (i.e., failure to disclose source code) is somewhat irrelevant to the central issue; the Court can grant injunction (i.e., an order to prevent the company from distributing the infringing product) based simply on the violator’s lost permissions under the existing copyright license. The Court could even order the cease of import of the infringing products.

      In our view, the violator would be unaffected under the above TPP provision, since the Court did not specifically compel release of the source code, but rather simply ruled that the product generally infringed copyrights, and their distribution rights had fully terminated upon infringement. In other words, the fact that the violator lost copyright permissions and can seek to restore them via source code disclosure is not dispositive to the underlying infringement claim.

      While TPP thus does not impact copyright holders’ ability to enforce the GPL, there are nevertheless plenty of reasons to oppose TPP. Conservancy therefore joins the FSF, EFF, and other organizations in encouraging everyone to oppose TPP.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Quartz to open source two mapping tools

      News outlet Quartz is developing a searchable database of compiled map data from all over the world, and a tool to help journalists visualise this data.

      The database, called Mapquery, received $35,000 (£22,900) from the Knight Foundation Prototype Fund on 3 November.

      Keith Collins, project lead, said Mapquery will aim to make the research stage in the creation of maps easier and more accessible, by creating a system for finding, merging and refining geographic data.

    • Stronger than fear: Mental health in the open

      Finkler is active in PHP, Python, and JavaScript communities and had developed a popular Twitter client for the WebOS platform. He has plenty of open source knowledge, but his only expierience with mental illness was personal. So he began presenting at conferences, sharing his experience. After each talk, people would share their own issues with him.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • How VA and DOD Can Approach Data Standards and Interoperability — Before Standards Are Established

      For organizations like the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, patient safety and quality of care are paramount, thus, having the ability to seamlessly share medical data with each other, as well as with other providers, is critical. Consider for a moment, a service person’s transition from active duty to veteran status. Patient records and critical medical history details must transition smoothly to ensure the patient receives appropriate, complete care at the right time.

Leftovers

  • Long-Term Exposure to Flat Design: How the Trend Slowly Decreases User Efficiency

    Interfaces with completely flat visual design do not use any realistic or three-dimensional visual effects. As a consequence, they do away with the heavy-handed visual cues that have been traditionally used to communicate clickability to users.

    The popularity of ultraflat interfaces has declined since its heyday of 2013, and more websites are adopting more moderate, flat 2.0 designs — in which interfaces make use of subtle effects to create the impression of a slightly layered three-dimensional space. Despite this return to moderation, we’re starting to see the long-term impact of the widespread usage of weak clickability cues encouraged by the popularity of flat design.

  • Sepp Blatter Hospitalised After ‘Stress-Related’ Breakdown.

    Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been hospitalised after being placed under medical observation for stress, but he is expecting to leave the facility early next week, his spokesman said Wednesday.

  • France cancels official dinner with Iran’s President Rouhani… because he wants it to be wine-free

    Guess who’s not coming to dinner — or even breakfast or lunch?

    Ahead of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s landmark European trip kicking off this weekend, French officials reportedly nixed plans for a formal meal in Paris with President François Hollande following a dispute over the menu. The Iranians, according to France’s RTL Radio, insisted on a wine-free meal with halal meat — a request based on Islamic codes that amounted to culinary sacrilege in France, a nation that puts the secular ideals of the Republic above all else.

  • How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name

    Once upon a time, Apple was known for designing easy-to-use, easy-to-understand products. It was a champion of the graphical user interface, where it is always possible to discover what actions are possible, clearly see how to select that action, receive unambiguous feedback as to the results of that action, and have the power to reverse that action—to undo it—if the result is not what was intended.

    No more. Now, although the products are indeed even more beautiful than before, that beauty has come at a great price. Gone are the fundamental principles of good design: discoverability, feedback, recovery, and so on. Instead, Apple has, in striving for beauty, created fonts that are so small or thin, coupled with low contrast, that they are difficult or impossible for many people with normal vision to read. We have obscure gestures that are beyond even the developer’s ability to remember. We have great features that most people don’t realize exist.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Houghton has not just broken taboos over Trident, he has undermined democracy

      Asked about their view of the Trident nuclear missile system, Britain’s armed forces chiefs have always insisted that they cannot comment because it was a “political” matter, not at all a “military” one.

      General Sir Nicholas Houghton, chief of the defence staff, has now abandoned such caution, breaking a taboo by expressing a view that has huge constitutional implications. Britain’s most senior military officer has taken sides on an issue that is the subject of a highly charged political debate, and one in which tens of billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money are at stake.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Indonesia’s forest fires: everything you need to know

      The most obvious damage is to the forest where the fires are occurring. Indonesia’s tropical forests represent some of the most diverse habitats on the planet. The current fire outbreak adds to decades of existing deforestation by palm oil, timber and other agribusiness operators, further imperilling endangered species such as the orangutan.

      The human cost is stark; 19 people have died and an estimated 500,000 cases of respiratory tract infections have been reported since the start of the fires. It’s estimated that the fires could cause more than 100,000 premature deaths in the region.

      Financial damage to the region’s economy is still being counted, but the Indonesian government’s own estimates suggest it could be as high as $47bn, a huge blow to the country’s economy. A World Bank study (pdf) on forest fires last year in Riau province estimated that they caused $935m of losses relating to lost agricultural productivity and trade.

    • Orangutans are losing both health and habitat to palm oil fires

      Tellingly, the lands just outside that sanctuary—still smoking from recent fires—were recently planted with new oil palms.

    • Satellites Expose Just How Bad Indonesia’s Fires Are

      Indonesia has been aflame for a couple months now. That happens every fall—the country’s fire season is severe—but this time around, things are the worst they’ve been in almost two decades. This year’s crazy-strong El Niño has desiccated the region’s peat beds, while palm oil plantations exacerbate the problem by cutting down trees and draining the normally soggy land.

      All that dry stuff adds up to create a big, flaming environmental catastrophe. By some estimates, the inferno this year has released more than 1.5 billion tons of emissions, larger than the annual fossil fuel output of Japan.

    • The final days of sub-400 ppm carbon dioxide

      During the Pleistocene “ice age,” this measurement (or its glacial air bubble proxy) varied between 180 and 280 ppm. It was at about 280 ppm prior to the Industrial Revolution. Since then, we’ve been taking carbon out of the ground, where it was sequestered hundreds of millions of years ago, and setting it on fire. The “free” energy we got from this chemical reaction has powered tremendous advancements in well-being of most humans living in industrialized societies. But the oxidation of carbon results in carbon dioxide, and though plants suck some of it up again, and the oceans absorb about a third of it, most continues to hang out in the atmosphere. Over the past two centuries, it has been piling up like dishes in a dormitory sink. This waste gas is a problem, for it’s selectively opaque to light – visible light is unfiltered by CO2, but CO2 blocks infrared wavelengths, the kind any object sitting in the sun emits long after the sun has set. That means our atmosphere retains more of the heat that would otherwise get bled off into space. Energy comes in more or less constantly from the sun, but less and less of it is making it back out.

    • Will Indonesian Fires Spark Reform of Rogue Forest Sector?

      The fires that blazed in Indonesia’s rainforests in 1982 and 1983 came as a shock. The logging industry had embarked on a decades-long pillaging of the country’s woodlands, opening up the canopy and drying out the carbon-rich peat soils. Preceded by an unusually long El Niño-related dry season, the forest fires lasted for months, sending vast clouds of smoke across Southeast Asia.

  • Finance

    • Arrests in JP Morgan, eTrade, Scottrade Hacks

      U.S. authorities today announced multiple indictments and arrests in connection with separate hacking incidents that resulted in the theft of more than 100 million customer records from some of the nation’s biggest financial institutions and brokerage firms, including JP Morgan Chase, E*Trade and Scottrade.

    • Alibaba’s Singles Day Blowout Racks Up $5B in Sales in First 90 Minutes

      The world’s biggest shopping day is happening right now, and you probably don’t even know it.

      In China, it’s already November 11, or 11/11, and the massive e-commerce event known as “Singles Day” is well under way. Launched by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2009, the idea is that for a full 24 hours, shoppers who are unmarried and unattached should go online and splurge on a nice gift for themselves.

      How big a deal is Singles Day? This year, during Alibaba’s four-hour television event the night ahead of Singles Day (yes, this year they celebrated “Singles Day’s Eve”), Alibaba trotted out a parade of Chinese pop celebrities and movie stars. James Bond (er, Daniel Craig) appeared onstage with Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma. Kevin Spacey made an appearance via video in his House of Cards persona, President Frank Underwood.

    • Fast food workers strike nationwide for $15/hr

      Hundreds of fast food workers are striking nationwide Tuesday, joining other workers in pressing for a more livable wage.

      Billed as the largest rally to date, there are 270 demonstrations scheduled nationwide. Workers have gone on strike nationwide repeatedly in the last few years demanding higher pay. According to organizers, more than 60 million Americans are paid less than $15 per hour.

    • Crickhowell: Welsh town moves ‘offshore’ to avoid tax on local business

      When independent traders in a small Welsh town discovered the loopholes used by multinational giants to avoid paying UK tax, they didn’t just get mad.

      Now local businesses in Crickhowell are turning the tables on the likes of Google and Starbucks by employing the same accountancy practices used by the world’s biggest companies, to move their entire town “offshore”.

    • David Cameron hasn’t the faintest idea how deep his cuts go. This letter proves it

      It’s like the crucial moment in Graham Greene’s novel The Quiet American. The US agent stares at the blood on his shoes, unable to make the connection between the explosion he commissioned and the bodies scattered across the public square in Saigon. In leaked correspondence with the Conservative leader of Oxfordshire county council (which covers his own constituency), David Cameron expresses his horror at the cuts being made to local services. This is the point at which you realise that he has no conception of what he has done.

      The letters were sent in September, but came to light only on Friday, when they were revealed by the Oxford Mail. The national media has been remarkably slow to pick the story up, given the insight it offers into the prime minister’s detachment from the consequences of his actions.

    • The Wall Street Journal Praises For-Profit Colleges That Prey On Veterans

      Federal law allows for-profit colleges to access more federal funding by enrolling large numbers of military veterans, despite evidence that many of these schools do not prepare their students for the job market. In recent years, predatory recruitment of service members by several for-profit college chains has been exposed by congressional and media investigations, yet the Wall Street Journal editorial board continues to defend the schools’ recruiting practices and advocates for fewer student protections at for-profit institutions. In honor of Veterans Day, here are some of the Journal’s most misleading and inflammatory arguments defending failing for-profits that take advantage of veterans.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Bezos’ Stake in Uber Goes Under the Radar at Washington Post

      The Washington Post, like all major publications, reports on Uber quite a bit. In fact, it’s done so about a dozen times in the past week alone. But unlike every other publication, its corporate interest in the mobile phone-based car service company is more than journalistic in nature.

      The Post‘s sole owner, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is a major shareholder in Uber. In 2011, Bezos and two other investors, Menlo Ventures and Goldman Sachs, collectively invested $32 million in the then-fledging startup. Because Uber is a private company, it’s impossible to know the exact current value of Bezos’ investment, but assuming the three investors contributed evenly, the last valuation of the company would put his stake in Uber at roughly $1.5 billion. To put that in perspective, it’s approximately six times what Bezos paid for the Post in 2013.

      While the Post occasionally mentions this glaring conflict when covering Uber, a large majority of its Uber-related articles make no mention of the boss’s stake. It’s unclear what criteria the Post uses to either disclose or not disclose the conflict of interest. (An email to the Post requesting an explanation went unanswered.)

    • ‘Google This’ Is Good Advice From Netanyahu, Since NYT Won’t Check His Claims for You

      Readers who followed Netanyahu’s advice to turn to Google, then, would be much better informed of the reality of Israel’s settlement policy than those who simply read the New York Times parroting his claims.

  • Censorship

    • WikiLeaks Targets “Trigger Warnings” And “Safe Spaces”

      The whistleblowing non-profit WikiLeaks has a new target. It isn’t a corrupt government or an incompetent military, but “trigger warnings,” “safe spaces” and “microaggressions.” WikiLeaks argued on its official Twitter account that the rising popularity of these terms is thanks to what it calls “generation trauma”—and that it’s harming free speech.

    • Starting From Next Year, China Wants Music Services To Vet Every Song Before It Goes Online

      As the article explains, online music companies are expected to bear all the costs of setting up censorship departments and training staff to vet all the songs, and will be punished if they fail to implement the new policy properly. At least some will have had practice, since a similar approach has been applied to online posts for some time.

    • Cinema pulls screening of Prophet Mohamed film The Message after fewer than 100 complaints

      A Scottish cinema has become embroiled in a freedom of speech row after it pulled the screening of a film about the life of the Prophet Mohamed after fewer than 100 complaints.

      The Grosvenor Cinema was due to screen the Oscar-nominated 1977 film The Message on Sunday on behalf of the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB). But it pulled the screening after an anonymous petition with 94 signatories – largely from Scotland but also from people registered in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia – criticised the film as being “inappropriate and disrespectful” to Islam.

    • How to avoid being hit by a Google algorithm update: How to SEO your website and stay off Google’s blacklist

      We explain how to ensure your website is not adversely affected by Google algorithm updates. How to SEO your website and stay off Google’s blacklist: how to get lots of traffic from search. Here are our essential SEO tips.

  • Privacy

    • How Europe can blaze a trail for whistleblowers

      A pleasant surprise from the European parliament at the end of October: delegates managed to narrowly pass a resolution calling on EU member states to recognize Edward Snowden as a whistleblower and an international human rights defender. The resolution calls on member states to guarantee Snowden protection from prosecution, extradition and transfer to third states, i.e. the United States.

      This is a major step, even if the resolution does not have any binding power. It has echoes of Snowden’s situation in summer 2013 as he desperately sent out asylum requests to states in Europe and elsewhere from within the transit zone at Moscow airport – to no avail. In the two years since then, discussions have been ongoing in Germany on whether or not Snowden could at the very least safely enter and leave Germany to give testimony to the NSA inquiry committee. But the German government made it clear that the political will for this is lacking. Similar reactions came from the governments in Switzerland and Sweden when the question of asylum was up for discussion there.

    • The snooper’s charter: one misspelled Google search for ‘bong-making’ and you’ll be in an orange jumpsuit

      Theresa May, with the general air of a hawk that had a This Morning makeover, has launched the new investigatory powers bill. No more drunken Googling: all it takes is a misspelled search for “bong-making” and suddenly you’ll be in an orange jumpsuit getting beaten with a pillowcase full of bibles. Also, pay attention when searching for a child’s prom.

      This law will create lots of new jobs, as the person charged with reading all our communications (who will see more unsolicited erections than customer services at Skype) will regularly feed their screaming face into a meatgrinder.

    • Theresa May’s proposed spying law is ‘worse than scary’ United Nations says

      Theresa May’s proposed surveillance and spying laws are “worse than scary”, the United Nations’ privacy chief has said.

      Joseph Cannataci, the UN’s special rapporteur on privacy, said the draft Investigatory Powers Bill heralded a “golden age of surveillance” unlike any that had come before.

      The draft law, published by the Home Secretary earlier this month, would require internet companies to hand over any and all of their users’ communications as required by authorities.

    • Judge Orders NSA to Stop Collecting American’s Phone Records Immediately

      Last summer, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, a surveillance reform that prohibits the government from collecting telephone metadata in bulk, but the NSA was able to get the program extended a few more months, until November 29, 2015, the last day that type of surveillance will be legal.

      Judge Leon already ruled that this program violated the Fourth Amendment in December of 2013, a decision he echoed and reiterated on Monday. The Judge also complained about the slowness with which this legal process moved.

      “I assumed the appeal would proceed expeditiously,” Judge Leon wrote in his decision. “For reasons unknown to me, it did not.”

    • Facebook must stop tracking Belgian users within 48 hours, or be fined €250K per day

      A Belgian court yesterday gave Facebook 48 hours to stop tracking Internet users who do not have a Facebook account. If the US company refuses to comply, it faces fines of up to €250,000 (£177,000 or ~$267,500) per day.

      “Today the judge… ordered the social network Facebook to stop tracking and registering Internet usage by people who surf the Internet in Belgium, in the 48 hours which follow this statement,” the Belgian court said according to AFP.

      The judgment is a result of Belgium’s independent Privacy Commission taking Facebook to court for failing to comply with the country’s privacy laws, as Ars reported back in June. The Privacy Commission wanted Facebook to implement a number of changes to its operations, including refraining from “systematically placing long-life and unique identifier cookies with non-users of Facebook.” The commission always wanted Facebook to stop collecting and using user data through the use of cookies and social plug-ins unless it obtained an unambiguous and specific consent through an opt-in.

    • As Belgium threatens fines, Facebook’s defence of tracking visitors rings hollow

      Facebook has said that it will appeal the ruling, claiming that since their european headquarters are situated in Ireland, they should only be bound by the Irish Data Protection Regulator.

    • Tor Says Feds Paid Carnegie Mellon $1M to Help Unmask Users

      Ever since a Carnegie Mellon talk on cracking the anonymity software Tor was abruptly pulled from the schedule of the Black Hat hacker conference last year, the security community has been left to wonder whether the research was silently handed over to law enforcement agencies seeking to uncloak the internet’s anonymous users. Now the non-profit Tor Project itself says that it believes the FBI did use Carnegie Mellon’s attack technique—and paid them handsomely for the privilege.

    • Did the FBI Pay a University to Attack Tor Users?

      The Tor Project has learned more about last year’s attack by Carnegie Mellon researchers on the hidden service subsystem. Apparently these researchers were paid by the FBI to attack hidden services users in a broad sweep, and then sift through their data to find people whom they could accuse of crimes.

    • Justice officials fear nation’s biggest wiretap operation may not be legal

      Federal drug agents have built a massive wiretapping operation in the Los Angeles suburbs, secretly intercepting tens of thousands of Americans’ phone calls and text messages to monitor drug traffickers across the United States despite objections from Justice Department lawyers who fear the practice may not be legal.

      Nearly all of that surveillance was authorized by a single state court judge in Riverside County, who last year signed off on almost five times as many wiretaps as any other judge in the United States. The judge’s orders allowed investigators — usually from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration — to intercept more than 2 million conversations involving 44,000 people, federal court records show.

    • Appeals Court Says NSA Can Keep Trampling 4th Amendment With Phone Surveillance Program For Now

      This is hardly a surprise, but the DC Appeals Court has issued a stay on Judge Richard Leon’s ruling from earlier this week that the NSA’s bulk phone record collection program was unconstitutional. This is the same appeals court that overturned Leon’s earlier ruling finding the program unconstitutional. This time, as we noted, Judge Leon refused to grant the government a stay, noting that the DC Circuit had taken its sweet time in actually issuing a ruling on the appeal — and the program is set to end in a couple weeks anyway. Also, Leon didn’t order the entire program shut down, but just that the NSA stop keeping the records of the plaintiffs who were customers of Verizon Business Network Services (J.J. Little and J.J. Little & Associates).

    • Broadband bills will have to increase to pay for snooper’s charter, MPs are warned

      Consumers’ broadband bills will have to go up if the investigatory powers bill is passed due to the “massive cost” of implementation, MPs have been warned.

      Internet service providers (ISP) told a Commons select committee that the legislation, commonly known as the snooper’s charter, does not properly acknowledge the “sheer quantity” of data generated by a typical internet user, nor the basic difficulty of distinguishing between content and metadata.

    • Massive Hack of 70 Million Prisoner Phone Calls Indicates Violations of Attorney-Client Privilege

      AN ENORMOUS CACHE of phone records obtained by The Intercept reveals a major breach of security at Securus Technologies, a leading provider of phone services inside the nation’s prisons and jails. The materials — leaked via SecureDrop by an anonymous hacker who believes that Securus is violating the constitutional rights of inmates — comprise over 70 million records of phone calls, placed by prisoners to at least 37 states, in addition to links to downloadable recordings of the calls. The calls span a nearly two-and-a-half year period, beginning in December 2011 and ending in the spring of 2014.

  • Civil Rights

    • DOJ Has Blocked Everyone In The Executive Branch From Reading The Senate’s Torture Report

      A year ago, we were writing a ton on the famed Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report. This report, which Committee staffers spent years on, cost $40 million, and clocked in at nearly 7,000 pages of detailed analysis of the US’s hugely questionable (both morally and legally) torture program in the wake of 9/11. After much fighting, the Senate finally released a heavily redacted executive summary, but since then there have been some questions about what happens with the full report. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who was (believe it or not!) the driving force behind the report, had copies of the full report delivered to the Defense Department, the CIA, the State Department and the Justice Department. However, there has been a lot of confusion over whether or not anyone actually read it. The DOJ clearly announced that officials had read the whole thing… but later claimed that no one had even opened the report. Obviously, the DOJ lied with one of those statements.

    • Video emerges showing unarmed Virginia man being tased by three police officers while shackled before dying in custody – and all three cops have been PROMOTED

      Video has emerged that shows three officers tasing a man 20 times in half an hour while he was shackled.

      Linwood Lambert of South Boston, Virginia, was taken into custody shortly before 5am on May 4, 2013, when police responded to a noise complaint and found him acting in a paranoid and delusional way in his room at a Super 8 motel.

      The officers had no reason to arrest Lambert and decided to handcuff him and take him to hospital.

      But along the way he grew agitated and, as they pulled up to the ER entrance, he kicked out the back window of the squad car and ran towards the hospital door.

      That is when the officers began tasing Lambert, who immediately fell straight to the ground. He was unable to break his fall due to wearing handcuffs.

      The three officers told Lambert, 46, they were arresting him and drove him from the hospital to the police station.

      He was unconscious by the time they arrived at the station, and pronounced dead by the time he arrived back at the hospital he had just left.

    • Indonesia drugs: Crocodiles ‘to guard death row prisons’

      The head of Indonesia’s anti-drugs agency has proposed building a prison island guarded by crocodiles to house death-row drug convicts.

      Budi Waseso said crocodiles often made better guards than humans – because they could not be bribed.

    • 60 Minutes Stands With Secret Keepers Against Those Who Expose Them

      How do you get Snowden, Manning and the Washington Navy Yard spree shooter in the same category? By treating leaks to the press and a sawed-off shotgun as the same thing: all “weapons.” It’s a peculiar stance for a TV news magazine that prides itself on its tradition of investigative reporting to take—that getting information out to the public is a form of violence.

      It’s also odd for journalists to describe Manning, because she was convicted under the Espionage Act, as a “convicted spy.” The law forbids giving “an unauthorized person…any classified information,” language that was not meant to give the United States an Official Secrets Act, but which has been treated as such by the Obama administration. Regardless of whether this is legal or constitutional, the Act doesn’t change the meaning of the word “spy”; presumably when 60 Minutes reporters get classified information from government officials, they don’t say to their sources, “Thanks for spying for us.”

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • T-Mobile Exempts Video Streams From Wireless Data Caps, Sets A Horrible Precedent

      You’ll probably see countless reports suggesting that T-Mobile’s move is sure to “invite scrutiny by the FCC,” but that’s highly unlikely. T-Mobile’s done a fantastic job of selling a potentially problematic precedent as consumer empowerment. Meanwhile, the FCC has made it abundantly clear it sees usage caps and zero rating as creative pricing experimentation, in the process opening the door wide to a lopsided vision of the Internet many will naively be cheering for.

    • Comcast Keeps Scolding Me For Calling Its Top Lobbyist A Lobbyist

      Last summer I noted that Comcast’s PR department pretty consistently now sends me snotty e-mail “corrections.” Not about any of the thousands of articles Techdirt or I have written about the company’s abysmal customer service, punitive usage caps, ridiculously high prices, or obnoxiously anti-competitive behavior mind you, but to scold me for one and only one thing: calling the company’s top lobbyist a lobbyist.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • US tries, and fails, to block “import” of digital data that violates patents

      A federal appeals court panel today struck down an International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling in a patent case that attempted to block electronic transmissions of digital data from overseas.

      The ITC’s authority to prevent importation of “articles” applies only to material things, not digital transmissions, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled. (Consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge posted the ruling’s text.)

    • Video conferencing: a golden opportunity to reduce costs in patent proceedings

      Indeed while patents are a great thing, it does cost money to obtain them — and applicants should not rely on the EPO to remedy their self-imposed inconveniences. The EPC does not contain “poor law” provisions such as financial subsidies or leniencies for parties with a tight budget, contrary to some countries’ national patent laws. Accordingly, applicants that operate on a tight budget must carefully consider if they are really and truly prepared to cover the costs entailed in EPC proceedings — or whether they should rather accept any concessions that might be available under national patent laws. As Merpel notes, if they can’t even afford the cost of dealing with the EPO in examination proceedings, and possibly in post-grant opposition proceedings, there’s probably little chance of them being to afford the cost of litigating these patents nationally or, as will soon be likely, before the Unified Patent Court, wherever that litigation might be.

    • Copyrights

      • Blizzard Sues Bot Maker For Copyright Infringement

        Blizzard Entertainment is taking a stand against popular cheating bots for World of Warcraft, Diablo 3 and Heroes of the Storm. The game company is suing the alleged operator(s) of a series of popular bots for copyright infringement and accuses them of ruining the gaming experience for legitimate players.

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