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11.13.15

New Academic Paper Explains Why Europe Has Virtually No Patent Trolls, Italian Patent Troll Sisvel Makes a Comeback, Patent Lawyers Belittle the Problem

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 6:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Brian J. LovePhoto source: Brian J. Love’s official page

Summary: Analysis regarding patent trolls explains why Europe is so different from the United States and shows that academics think differently from patent lawyers, who basically monetise patent chaos

A new paper, titled “Patent Assertion Entities in Europe”, is about to be published and presented by Brian J. Love from Santa Clara University School of Law, Christian Helmers, Fabian Gaessler, and Maximilian Ernicke (the latter are associated with European universities or other institutions). It has already been mentioned by James Bessen (prolific and influential writer in this area [1, 2, 3, 4]) and opponents of software patents and patent trolls in Europe (to whom the EPO is increasingly helping). The paper’s asbstract is as follows: “This book chapter presents the findings of an empirical study of U.K. and German patent litigation involving patent assertion entities (PAEs). Overall, we find that PAEs account for roughly ten percent of patent suits filed in these countries during the time periods covered by our study: 2000-2013 for the UK and 2000-2008 for Germany. We also present a variety of additional data on the characteristics of European PAE suits and PAE-asserted patents and, finally, consider what our findings suggest are the most important reasons PAEs tend to avoid European courts. We conclude that, while many factors likely contribute to the relative scarcity of PAEs in Europe, the continent’s fee-shifting regimes stand out as a key deterrent to patent monetization.”

“We conclude that, while many factors likely contribute to the relative scarcity of PAEs in Europe, the continent’s fee-shifting regimes stand out as a key deterrent to patent monetization.”
      –Brian J. Love et al
We hope that decision-making politicians will pay attention to this; the patent maximalists from IAM (profiting from anarchic wars over patents) call the European patent troll Sisvel [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12] an “NPE”. Why are they calling a troll “NPE”? Because they try to legitimise the status quo and make what they profit a lot from seem acceptable. Sisvel is an Italian patent troll which we previously called the "European Patent Mafia" and a “German court awards injunction to [this troll] in first post-Huawei v ZTE standard essential patent decision,” according to this article. It’s based on a new announcement and it says: “A press release sent out this afternoon by German law firm Arnold Ruess reveals that its client Sisvel, the Italian patent licensing business, has secured a significant victory in the German courts. In the country’s first decision relating to FRAND and standards essential patents (SEPs) since the European Court of Justice’s judgment in the Huawei v ZTE case, Sisvel has been granted injunctions after the Düsseldorf Regional Court found that its patents had been infringed by Chinese company Haier.”

Meanwhile, other patent lawyers also try to defend patent trolls (or NPEs as the lawyers call them). Here is one who will be “speaking at the upcoming IAM Patent Law and Policy event on November 17, 2015, in Washington, DC.” She dismisses the labeling/stereotyping of many notorious entities, insisting that they are not patent trolls. To quote:

The “patent troll” narrative — fueled by anecdotal tales of mom-and-pop operations snared by fraudulent patent suits and the image of ugly green trolls paraded from the House floor to the White House – became the conventional wisdom on patents almost overnight. As readers of IPWatchdog know well, the only “data” offered to support the narrative were compiled from surveys with unscientific methodologies, nonrandomized survey bases and ill-defined notions of a “troll” that swept in universities, small inventors and anyone who owned a patent but didn’t manufacture, market and distribute the related product.

Well, that is by definition a patent troll. We have seen patent lawyers and trolls’ apologists insisting that even world’s largest patent troll (Intellectual Ventures) is not a patent troll. That was some days ago in Twitter; it happened as a result of this article of ours. Software patents boosters (profiteers or proponents who are patent lawyers) define “trolls” the way that suits their financial agenda and if terminology was left for them to decide on, no patent sharks and patent trolls would exist at all. They already distort popular languages and legal terminology with a lot of their euphemisms. Should we continue to let them have their way? Brian J. Love refers to patent trolls as “PAEs”, but why not use familiar (and popular) terms like “patent trolls”? Do these not sound professional enough? Will a peer review process suppress these?

“Software patents boosters (profiteers or proponents who are patent lawyers) define “trolls” the way that suits their financial agenda and if terminology was left for them to decide on, no patent sharks and patent trolls would exist at all.”The US has a very serious patent trolls problem. Public discourse including politicians and a top judge use the term “patent trolls”. Let’s insist on the use of this term. “Lawyers rank East Texas as worst jurisdiction in US,” wrote a patent trolls opposition group, “based on judges’ low impartiality scores.” The EFF hopes to shut it down, but patent lawyers just keep pretending that no such problem exist. They refuse to even use the term “patent trolls”.

GOP-centric sites are meanwhile trying to frame patent aggressors like Apple as the victims of patent trolls, with narratives like this one which says: “Remember how one small business spent $100,000 to tackle a single frivolous patent lawsuit? Imagine being Apple, which has to deal with over 800 of them every year. That means that if Apple fought every single one of those and won, it’d still spend close to $80 million. In fact, even paying a lowball settlement cost for such lawsuits would still end up costing millions. That’s millions of dollars that could be spent on jobs or research and development every year.”

The reality of the matter is, the principal victims of patent trolls are small businesses and groups of software developers, to whom an attack by one single troll can be the cause of bankruptcy. We shouldn’t let patent lawyers dominate the media and claim that patent trolls don’t exist and aren’t a problem of high severity. They most certainty are, and their weapon of choice is software patents.

Linux Voice Stresses the Importance of the Software Patents Question in Relation to Free Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Patents at 5:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linux Voice

Summary: Adam Saunders of Linux Voice authored a detailed report about prominent software patents-centric cases and how they impact the viability of Free/Open Source software (FOSS)

A new article from Adam Saunders, who writes “Free Software” rather than “Open Source”, has just been published online by Linux Voice, which is a magazine that we support because its writers are trustworthy and there is no pressure from any dubious sponsors (many magazines have this problem which results in self-censorship). We’ve been raving fans right from the very start. The article is a long overview of the patent situation (and to a lesser degree copyright situation) when it comes to Free/Open Source software (FOSS). It begins by stating that “[t]he United States is a popular region for patent litigation for a few reasons. There are some courts, such as the Eastern District of Texas, that have earned a reputation for being “plaintiff-friendly” when it comes to patent cases. That is, if someone brings a patent infringement lawsuit there, they’re more likely than not to win it. The payouts are also pretty high in the United States for a victorious plaintiff; awards can be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, with the highest award given weighing in at over $1.6 billion (US).”

The article is detailed and insightful. It later explains why software patents are now being chased out of the United States (Linux Voice is British by the way, not American). It explains it as follows: “Alice Corporation, a non-practice patent-holding entity, held patents on a method, system, and process for a particular type of financial risk hedging: namely, that one party to a set of financial transactions won’t pay at one or more stages in the set. This risk is known as “settlement risk”. Alice’s patents describe using a computer to keep track of the transactions between the parties. If the computer determines that a party does not have sufficient funds to pay their obligations to the other side, then the transaction is blocked. Litigation against CLS Bank International for alleged infringement of these patented ideas started in 2007, eventually winding its way up to the Supreme Court of the United States.

“Writing for a unanimous court, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas begins with a brief description of what the patents claimed. There are effectively three different types of claims made: “(1) the foregoing method for exchanging obligations (the method claims), (2) a computer system configured to carry out the method for exchanging obligations (the system claims), and (3) a computer-readable medium containing program code for performing the method of exchanging obligations (the media claims)” (page 3 of the ruling).

“Thomas then goes on to cite the court’s recent ruling in Mayo vs Prometheus, which established a test to determine which inventions incorporating abstract ideas are patent-eligible: “First, we determine whether the claims at issue are directed to one of those patent-ineligible concepts” (page 7). If it is so directed, then the court looks at “the elements of each claim both individually and ‘as an ordered combination’ to determine whether the additional elements ‘transform the nature of the claim’ into a patent-eligible application” (page 7). This is what Thomas refers to as “a search for an ‘inventive concept’” (page 7).”

As we have repeatedly stressed here over the past week [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], therein existed an opportunity for Red Hat to smash Microsoft’s patents that it was actively using against Linux (even days ago). Instead Red Hat is filing/applying for software patents of its own (still) and it has just signed a patent agreement with Microsoft. This agreement seemingly leaves exposed all who are not Red Hat or Red Hat customers, so it would take something rather surprising to show Red Hat did not act selfishly and recklessly (a cleverly-crafted short FAQ is not a contractual agreement). A “standstill” serves to insinuate that two sides are in conflict, but the matter of fact is that only Microsoft is attacking and a “standstill” implies only temporary peace. What kind of a ‘bargain’ is that? Red Hat sold out and it hopes that critics will just forget about it and go away.

We are still pursuing answers from Red Hat. It’s work in progress and continued silence will serve the reinforce suspicions of guilt. Red hat would be better off becoming transparent. If it fails to provide answers in the next few weeks we are going to speak to come influential people like Richard Stallman about the problem and look for solution, or even a damning statement on this matter.

Links 13/11/2015: GNOME 3.18.2, New Kubuntu Release Managers

Posted in News Roundup at 8:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Computer pioneer Gene Amdahl dies, aged 92

      Computer pioneer and entrepreneur Gene Amdahl has died, aged 92. Amdahl joined IBM in 1952 after graduating with a clutch of degrees from South Dakota State University and the University of Wisconsin.

      As chief architect of the IBM 704 scientific mainframe computer, his engineering decisions helped IBM to sell many more of the machines than IBM had expected.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • EU whitewash on cancer risk from world’s most used weedkiller

      A report released today by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) could pave the way for EU re-approval of the world’s most used weedkiller – glyphosate – which has been linked to cancer by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The report heavily relies on unpublished studies commissioned by glyphosate producers and dismisses published peer-reviewed evidence that glyphosate causes cancer, said Greenpeace.

  • Security

    • The Lingering Mess from Default Insecurity

      These vulnerable devices tend to coalesce in distinct geographical pools with deeper pools in countries with more ISPs that shipped them direct to customers without modification. SEC Consult said it found heavy concentrations of the exposed Ubiquiti devices in Brazil (480,000), Thailand (170,000) and the United States (77,000).

      SEC Consult cautions that the actual number of vulnerable Ubiquiti systems may be closer to 1.1 million. Turns out, the devices ship with a cryptographic certificate embedded in the router’s built-in software (or “firmware”) that further weakens security on the devices and makes them trivial to discover on the open Internet. Indeed, the Censys Project, a scan-driven Internet search engine that allows anyone to quickly find hosts that use that certificate, shows exactly where each exposed router resides online.

    • Public Beta: December 3, 2015

      Let’s Encrypt will enter Public Beta on December 3, 2015. Once we’ve entered Public Beta our systems will be open to anyone who would like to request a certificate. There will no longer be a requirement to sign up and wait for an invitation.

      Our Limited Beta started on September 12, 2015. We’ve issued over 11,000 certificates since then, and this operational experience has given us confidence that our systems are ready for an open Public Beta.

    • ​Linux ransomware rising? Linux.Encoder.1 now infects thousands of websites [Ed: Tung hypes up already-patched Magento bug]

      The security firm said the ransomware was infecting Linux web servers by exploiting unpatched instances of the widely-used Magento CMS.

    • Is Linux Free From Viruses And Malware?

      Linux is very secure in its architecture that you even won’t need to go behind any kind of firewalls until you’re on a Network. The access control Security Policy in Linux which is called SELinux (Security-Enhanced Linux) is a set of user-space tools and Kernel modification that implement the security policies in Linux operating system. Even this Security-Enhanced Linux isn’t must for normal users, however, it’s very important for users who are on Network and/or Administrators.

    • Thursday’s security advisories
    • Let’s Encrypt wants to use open source to simplify the security certificate process

      Infrequent web server administrators may find requesting and installing security certificates cumbersome and expensive. Open Source project Let’s Encrypt claims to simplify the process.

    • Let’s Encrypt And WoSign – How To Get A Valid SSL Certificate Absolutely Free

      Today the SSL certificate costs ~$50-100 – big money for non-commercial websites and bloggers. But some peoples can change it just now. In this article I try to describe a practical guide for getting a free as a beer certificate for your blog, website or e-mail. There are two ways:

    • Kaspersky says that Linux-Based DDoS Attacks are Increasing

      Out of all the DDoS attacks, 45.6% of attacks are from Linux-based botnets, as per the Intelligence Report of Kaspersky for the period Q3 2015. Security researchers of Akamai Technologies discovered that XOR DDoS botnet is the prominent most group, which was used to launch 150+ gigabit-per-second (Gbps) DDoS attacks.

    • Twistlock Aims to Shore Up Container Security With New Offering

      There are multiple security controls and best practices for Docker container security, many of which are inherited from the Linux operating system on which Docker is deployed, including cgroups and namespaces, which provide isolation and control.

    • How extorted e-mail provider got back online after crippling DDoS attack

      ProtonMail, the encrypted e-mail provider that buckled under crippling denial-of-service attacks even after it paid a $6,000 ransom, said it has finally recovered from the massive assaults seven days after they began.

    • NSA-Proof ProtonMail Service DDoSed, Forced to Pay $6000 as Ransom

      The BBC reveals that the attack appears to have been carried out by Armada Collective, a Swiss group responsible for numerous other online attacks. It seems that ProtonMail now regrets its decisions to pay the ransom. The company says it would advise anyone else against doing so. It is now trying to raise money to pay more than $100,000 for DDoS protection from a commercial security firm.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • West Papuans’ survival in the balance

      It’s believed that West Papuans are now a minority in their homeland, and many feel shut out of the economic expansion and democratic reforms Indonesia has experienced in the past decade.

      They see Jakarta’s rule as a threat to the survival of their people and culture.

      A separatist conflict has been simmering for decades, and the death toll is put in the hundreds of thousands by some estimates. Speaking out remains a dangerous activity in a place tightly-guarded by Indonesian military and police.

      But the new Indonesian government says it’s making real efforts to help Papuans improve their lives, and has begun allowing foreign journalists to visit and see for themselves.

    • Russia says convicts former Moscow policeman of spying for CIA

      A former Moscow policeman was convicted of spying for the CIA and of passing state secrets to a foreign intelligence agency on Thursday and sentenced to 13 years in prison, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement.

    • Russian former policeman Yevgeny Chistov ‘spied for CIA’

      Russia has convicted a former policeman on high treason charges, accusing him of spying for the CIA, according to security services.

    • Russian ex-cop sentenced to prison for ‘spying for CIA’

      Russia has sentenced a former policeman to 13 years in prison on high treason charges, accusing him of spying for the CIA, the security service said today.

      The Moscow District Court today convicted a former employee of the interior ministry’s Moscow region branch, Yevgeny Chistov, of high treason and sentenced him to 13 years in a high-security prison, the FSB security service said in a statement.

    • Russian ex-policeman sentenced to 13 years in jail for passing classified data to CIA

      A Moscow region court has sentenced former police officer Yevgeny Chistov to 13 years in prison for passing classified information to the CIA, the public relations center of the Federal Security Service (FSB, former KGB) told TASS.

    • Death Threats, Child Porn, and War Crimes: Inside CIA Investigations of Its Own Employees

      Between January 2013 and May 2014, the OIG completed 111 investigations of alleged crimes, such as the killing of an animal on federal property, possession of child pornography, fraud, embezzlement, and domestic violence. The CIA is still processing VICE News’s FOIA request for a list of investigations the OIG completed between May 2014 and the present.

    • US Won’t Recognize Israel’s Annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights

      Reacting to Monday’s comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House ruled out calls to formally recognize the Israeli occupation and subsequent annexation of the Golan Heights away from Syria, saying they weren’t sure if Netanyahu was even serious but that the US had no intention of changing its position on the occupation.

    • Seventy-five percent of U.S. foreign military financing goes to two countries

      American taxpayers doled out $5.9 billion in foreign military financing in 2014, according to the government’s Foreign Assistance report — that’s roughly the GDP of Somalia. But where did the money go?

      To the usual suspects, mostly — Israel ($3.1B) and Egypt ($1.3B) received roughly 75% of all foreign military aid money handed out by the U.S. last year.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Climate Hustle: Marc Morano’s Latest Climate Change Denial Stunt

      Climate change denier Marc Morano of the fossil-fuel funded Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) will feature a new “documentary film” called “Climate Hustle” in his latest attempt to promote his destructive climate change denial agenda. The film is due to be shown to a public audience for the first time on December 7 at the Cinéma du Panthéon in Paris at the same time as the upcoming United Nations climate talks.

    • Toxic smoke from palm oil fires is creating a new class of climate refugees in Southeast Asia

      Ria Heilena Pratiwi has had enough of the toxic smoke that plagues her hometown of Pekanbaru.

      The thick haze is caused by fires set to clear land for palm oil plantations and other uses. The city of around 900,000 is the capital of Riau province, on Sumatra island in Indonesia. A single mother between jobs, Pratiwi lives in Jakarta but had until recently been contemplating a move back home, so that her mother could help out with the childrearing. But now she’s decided to stay in Jakarta, and bring her mother there, away from the smoke.

      “From a long time ago, every year the haze comes again,” she tells Quartz. “So we decided to not live there anymore.”

  • Finance

    • The fix is in: Proof that H-1B visa abuse is rampant

      Major outsourcers, largely based in India, are obtaining the lion’s share of the 85,000 H-1B visas issued each year and are paying salaries far below the prevailing wages for American IT workers — a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the H-1B rules. New information from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that oversees the H-1B program, finally proves what critics have long suspected: H-1B abuse is real and rampant.

      The H-1B program is designed to let U.S. companies hire foreigners at prevailing wages when they can’t find qualified Americans. And U.S. companies, especially those in Silicon Valley, have been clamoring for years to raise the cap of 85,000 so that they can hire more foreign workers. They’ve long denied the charges that they’ve exaggerated the employee shortage, so they can instead reduce wages by importing workers.

    • When Thomas Friedman Ridicules Campaign Economics, the Joke’s on Him

      The irony of Friedman’s comment is that Trump’s claim is not far from being true, if the United States were to adopt a more efficient healthcare system. The United States pays more than twice as much per person for its healthcare as other wealthy countries, with little obvious benefit in terms of outcomes.

      The World Bank put US annual per person spending at $9,150 in the years 2006-10. By comparison, Canada spends $5,700, Germany spends $5,000 and the United Kingdom spends $3,600. This enormous gap suggests that the United States could cover the uninsured and pay for it by eliminating the waste in its system.

    • Trump Was Right About TPP Benefiting China

      Donald Trump lambasted the Trans-Pacific Partnership at Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate, contending that China would use it to “take advantage of everyone” — generating snickers from journalists and a withering refutation from Rand Paul, who said “we might want to point out that China is not part of this deal.”

      But Trump never suggested that China was part of the TPP, only that the country would “come in, as they always do, through the back door” of the agreement. And he was right.

    • The First Bank in USA to Pay $15 Minimum Wage for All Employees Sees Immediate Benefits
    • Bank Raises Its Minimum Wage To $15, Sees Immediate Benefits

      In August, New York-based Amalgamated Bank announced it would immediately raise its minimum pay to at least $15 an hour.

      At the time, the bank noted that it was the first to make such an announcement. But it’s also committed to making sure more follow its lead.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Charles Krauthammer Calls Out Donald Trump’s Lies About His Earlier Positions On Immigration
    • O’Reilly And Donald Trump Repeatedly Use”Anchor Baby” Slur To Discuss Immigration

      Fox host Bill O’Reilly and GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump repeatedly used the pejorative “anchor baby” when discussing the children of immigrants in the U.S. This term has been described as “racist” and false because parents of children born in U.S. aren’t allowed to apply for citizenship until the child is 21.

    • Reminder: The Right-Wing Media Vetted Obama, And It Was Priceless

      But here’s the thing: conservative commentators, and especially conservative bloggers, are ignoring the fact that Obama was vetted — by them. For more than two presidential election cycles.

      And it was priceless.

      Obama’s a Muslim. Obama was born in Kenya. Obama forged his birth certificate. Obama is the son of Malcolm X. Obama’s hiding his gay past.

      All of those claims, and much more, were forwarded by right-wing media outlets (including Fox News) that have been thrashing around in cesspools over the years, all in the name of vetting the elusive Obama. (The late blogger and satirist Al Weisel, known as Jon Swift, masterfully detailed the attempted vetting.)

    • ’60 Minutes’ Pushes National Security Propaganda To Cast Snowden, Manning As Traitors

      The television program, “60 Minutes,” aired a segment on Sunday in which it assassinated the character of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, and even went so far as to question their loyalty to America. The two whistleblowers were compared to the Washington Navy Yard shooter, who killed twelve people.

      It was part of an examination of what U.S. government officials perceive to be serious flaws in the process by which the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) reviews security clearances granted to government employees, but the framing made it seem like architects of “insider threat” programs from U.S. security agencies and politicians, who support total surveillance of government employees in the workplace and while they’re at home, had produced the segment.

      Using language that would scare everyone’s grandparents, the CBS show used “fugitive” to describe Snowden, “convicted spy” to describe Manning (even though she is not), and “mass murderer” to describe the Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis. Anchor Scott Pelley amplified the terror by adding they all had “one thing in common: U.S. government security clearances which they turned into weapons.”

    • Christians Are Leaving Homophobia Behind – Will Journalists Keep Up?

      But according to recent poling data, 54 percent of all Christians now say that “homosexuality should be accepted by society.” The data come from Pew’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study, which surveyed more than 35,000 U.S. adults as a follow up to Pew’s 2007 study. Now, the majority of major Christian groups, including Catholics, mainline Protestants, Orthodox Christians, and historically black Protestants, believe homosexuality should be accepted by society…

    • Watch A Black Community Activist Correct Bill O’Reilly On What African-Americans Need In Their Community
    • Rush Limbaugh Says Students Protesting Racial Issues “Are Self-Identifying … As Racists”
    • Fox News: Where Protests Against Racial Discrimination Are Anarchy But Armed Protests Against Federal Law Are “Patriotic”

      Fox News supports the right to protest, unless, it seems, the protesters are students of color shining a spotlight on incidents of racial injustice.

      Protests against racial discrimination on college campuses across the country are garnering national media attention with students criticizing administration responses to incidents at University of Missouri, Yale, U.C.L.A, University of Oklahoma and other institutions.

  • Censorship

    • Corporations and Governments Are Still the Real Threats to Free Speech–Not Campus Activists

      Anyone who can write a sentence like this simply doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Which is fine, but not fine when the person is the head of an organization dedicated to freedom of expression.

      By “our citizenry,” Nossel is referring to the recent round of free speech wars on college campuses. Now, when these issues of free speech arise on campus, you usually see an explosion of conversation about it: on the campus itself, and in the media. Far from dampening down discussion, the controversy over free speech on campus actually ignites discussion. Everyone has an opinion, everyone voices it.

    • Julian Assange addresses Freedom of Speech at the Union

      Mr Assange began his talk by making clear that he is “not on a TV” and that he was actively present, stating that engagement in debate and questions would make his presence more immediate. Hence, Assange opted to talk for twenty minutes and take questions from the floor. Assange discussed the fact that he had been present at the Union in 2011, and skirted around the topic of the referendum that the Union held on his address to begin with, stating “There is also an interesting contextual situation surrounding this talk itself” .

    • Shadow Bans Not Banny Enough For Reddit

      In a move that isn’t particularly surprising given their lack of support for intellectual diversity to date, Reddit has introduced outright bans to replace its shadow banning policy.

    • Center for American Progress Hosts Netanyahu as Leaked Emails Show Group Censored Staff on Israel

      The Center for American Progress, a leading progressive group with close ties to both President Obama and Hillary Clinton, held an event this week hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington. That decision reportedly prompted a revolt from some staffers angered that a liberal group would give Netanyahu a platform. In his opening remarks at the event, Netanyahu told attendees he wanted to speak to “a progressive audience.” Netanyahu’s appearance came just days after a new controversy over the group’s alleged censoring of writers critical of Israel. Newly leaked emails from 2011 and 2012 published by The Intercept show CAP made key editorial decisions—including editing articles, silencing writers and backing off criticism—at the behest of influential groups who backed Israeli government policies. We speak to Ali Gharib, a contributor to The Nation magazine and a former staffer at the Center for American Progress. Gharib says one of his articles for the Center was censored.

    • Google, Facebook on Chinese Charm Offensive

      Google terminated most of its operations in mainland China in 2010 after controversy over the country’s online controls and an attack on users of its Gmail service.

      But Eric Schmidt, its former CEO and now president of its new parent company Alphabet, was in Beijing last week declaring: “We never left China.”

    • India Tops Facebook’s List Of Content Restriction Request By Government
    • Facebook Inc Faces 18% Rise In Government Requests For Customer Data
    • Facebook says governments demanding more and more user data
    • These Are the Governments That Request (and Block) the Most Facebook Content
    • Facebook sees global surge in law enforcement requests, censorship

      Facebook said on Wednesday that requests for user data from government agencies and law enforcement groups surged in the first half of 2015, with the social network site reporting an increase in demands by 18 percent worldwide.

    • US, India governments top globally in sending censorship requests to Facebook

      Facebook has experienced a significant increase of information-seeking and censorship requests from national governments around the world, according to a new self-published report, with India ranking high on the list of nations making the most inquiries.

      Per the social media giant’s Government Requests Report, international queries for account data has ramped up in the first half of 2015 compared to the same period last year, from 34,946 requests to 41,214.

    • Portage students complain about ‘censorship’ of play

      Members of the PHS Thespian Club told the Portage Township School Board that high school administrators ordered the Broadway play rewritten to remove references to drugs, cigarettes and sexual innuendo.

    • Censorship and ethics in the Discourse section

      I spent a semester studying abroad in Beijing, China, where censorship by the government is rampant and dominates all form of media. There, armed with my Western ideas of how media should be, it was easy for me to criticize the government and its apparent inability to provide accurate news and information to its people. I thought I understood the premise behind the Chinese government’s heavy hand on free speech: obviously, the people in higher positions of authority were afraid of the instability that freedom of speech and press could create. For the semester I was there, I developed a skeptical and an almost comical point of view of the Chinese national media: how could I take a news source that so heavily distorts reality seriously?

    • The Chinese are willing participants in state censorship

      For three decades, Cui Yongyuan has been one of China’s national treasures. As a veteran television presenter for CCTV (China’s BBC), Cui’s career was made by this state-controlled broadcaster. So his recent talk in London – entitled ‘An Idealist’s commitment and compromise’ – caught my attention for its political undertone. Could he have been talking about the compromises he had to make as a Chinese journalist? To my delight, Cui spoke about this – and more.

    • China’s Censorship War Against Sex, Drugs, and ‘Vulgar Content’ Is Now Hitting Online Music Streams

      On Monday, the ministry issued a “notification on strengthening and improving the management of online music” policy, demanding that music services set up self-censorship departments to check their catalogs for deviant messages. State-owned news agency Xinhua, announced this, saying: “Online music should go through a strict reviewing process according to the requirement of the ministry before being made available online. The reviewing information should be filed in the provincial relevant departments or above.”

    • Tunisia: Musicians confronted with censorship and repression

      Of Tunisia’s entire artistic community, the musicians – and in particular urban rappers – have borne the brunt of the state’s censorship and repression. A wide legal arsenal has been used to drag musicians into court and throw them unceremoniously into gaol.

    • Journalism lecturers research shows how local papers dodged Kitchener’s draconian censorship laws

      Two journalism lecturers who have embarked on a four-year First World War research project which shows how local newspapers manoeuvred round Lord Kitchener’s draconian press censorship laws and produced articles that rivaled the war poets for powerful imagery.

    • Salman Rushdie rails against censorship in accepting award

      Warming to his theme, Rushdie said universities should be refuges for the unfettered exchange of ideas. “The university is the place where young people should be challenged every day, where everything they know should be put into question, so that they can think and learn and grow up,” he said. “And the idea that they should be protected from ideas that they might not like is the opposite of what a university should be. It’s ideas that should be protected, the discussion of ideas that should be given a safe place. The university should be a safe space for the life of the mind. That’s what it’s for.”

    • Salman Rushdie on writing, political correctness, censorship, First Amendment

      Here are excerpts from Rushdie’s comments:

      “If you are not a good writer, that’s not your fault — that’s just your problem. But if you are a self-censoring writer, that is your fault because then you are choosing to be a bad writer, and that’s to my mind not forgiven.”

    • Inmates sue over prison magazine censorship

      A national newspaper for and about prison inmates is accusing the state Department of Corrections of censorship.

      The lawsuit filed in federal court contends top agency officials purposely and illegally withheld copies of Prison Legal News from inmates who subscribe. And even in situations where the newspaper eventually was delivered, portions had been redacted.

    • Prisoners’ rights magazine sues Arizona Dept. of Corrections over censorship

      Prison Legal News, a 25-year-old magazine produced by the nonprofit Human Rights Defense Center, has sued the Arizona Department of Corrections over censorship.

    • Prisoners’ rights magazine sues Ariz. DOC over censorship
    • Arizona lawsuit says prisons denied and censored inmates’ access to news
    • Publisher sues Arizona state prisons over alleged censorship
    • Artist Ai Weiwei adds to protest with Instagram LEGO portraits
    • Lego shouldn’t brick it over Ai Weiwei – refuting the censorship argument is child’s play
    • A Point of View: Why people shouldn’t feel the need to censor themselves

      We should remember, however, that offence can be taken even when it has not been given. There are radical feminists who search every innocent remark about women for the hidden sexist agenda. Even using the masculine pronoun in the grammatically sanctioned way, so as to refer indifferently to men and women, can cause offence and is now being banned on campuses all across America. It is not that you wish to give offence. But you are up against people who are expert in taking it, who have cultivated the art of taking offence over many years, and who are never more delighted than when some innocent man falls into the trap of speaking incorrectly.

    • Modern Technology Prevents Media Censorship – Rossiya Segodnya Chief

      Widespread media censorship is rendered impossible by modern technology, Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency Director General Dmitry Kiselev said Tuesday.

    • Missouri: professors against press freedom

      When students at one of the United States’ most prestigious universities throw tantrums in reaction to a call for debate, free-speech advocates who have long warned of the dangers posed by campus civility codes may be tempted simply to respond, ‘We rest our case’.

    • Video: Ben Carson Decries College Campus Protests
    • The Vilification of Student Activists at Yale

      The events at Yale over the past weeks have provoked a great deal of conversation, but little effort to understand or acknowledge the cultural and institutional biases at play. In their responses, many have made the same mistake that my friend did, assuming that individual actions can be divorced from their broader context, or from the larger and more troubling legacy of racial discrimination in America. But they can’t.

      [...]

      Like many elite schools, Yale has a tense racial past and present, one that ensures that admission isn’t necessarily synonymous with full social acceptance. The reports of recent incidents, like swastikas painted on campus, or a frat turning black girls away from a party, are surely only a few examples where some students are implicitly told that they are less welcome than their classmates.

    • Serbia’s EU progress report: no progress for press freedom

      On 8 November Andrija Rodić, the owner of the Adria Media Group – which publishes 18 magazines including the daily tabloid Kurir – came out with a public apology to Serbian citizens for his role in producing overly favourable coverage of the situation in the country, alongside 80 per cent of Serbia’s other local media owners.

      Until that point he and his associated media outlets had been faithful supporters of Serbia’s Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, and his policies. In a blunt admission of the extent of political censorship in the Serbian media, Rodić described how threats to weaken his company financially or create fabricated legal cases led to the development of self-censorship among journalists.

    • Turkey continues to muzzle democracy’s watchdogs

      Journalists are the “watchdogs” of democracy, according to the European Court of Human Rights. Anyone who wants to control a country without being troubled by criticism tries to muzzle reporters, and unfortunately, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a past master at stifling the cries of freedom. As journalists from around the world converge on Antalya to cover this weekend’s Group of 20 summit, many of their Turkish colleagues are being denied accreditation.

      Sidelining opposition media has become a bad habit in Turkey, which is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index. Four days before the Nov. 1 parliamentary elections, the police stormed Ipek Media Group headquarters and shut down its two opposition dailies and two opposition TV stations. After control of management had been secured and 71 journalists fired, these outlets resumed operations with a new editorial line verging on caricature. The dailies, Bugun and Millet, ran Erdogan’s photo on the front page along with the headlines “The president among the people” and “Turkey united.”

    • Live Q&A: Indonesia, identity and the lasting legacy of 1965

      It’s been three weeks since a series of public debates dedicated to reconciliation and remembrance of the 1965 Communist repression in Indonesia were cancelled at the Ubud writers and readers festival in Bali, following police pressure and increased scrutiny from the Indonesian authorities.

  • Privacy

    • The UK’s international snooping plan is probably going to end in failure, again

      The UK government is making a dramatic expansion of its internet surveillance efforts, in the space of less than 18 months trying to bring international tech companies firmly under the remit of its spy legislation.

      But the attempt is unlikely to succeed, like its other attempts to make overseas companies hand over their customers’ data and communications.

      Because millions in the UK now use services like Apple’s iMessage and Whatsapp — which are based outside of the UK and use strong encryption — the UK government says there is a large, and growing gap, in the ability of law enforcement to intercept and read communications.

    • Why the attack on Tor matters
    • Why the Tor attack matters

      Earlier today, Motherboard posted a court document filed in a prosecution against a Silk Road 2.0 user, indicating that the user had been de-anonymized on the Tor network thanks to research conducted by a “university-based research institute”.

    • Court Docs Show a University Helped FBI Bust Silk Road 2, Child Porn Suspects
    • Google Inbox Smart Reply: Cognition Meets Communication
    • Google debuts smart reply feature to Inbox app

      Google is attempting to combat the issue of inbox clutter and unanswered messages with its new smart reply feature released this week to its new email app, Inbox.

    • FCC Online Privacy Ruling Helps, not Hurts, Privacy-Minded Users

      The FCC has refused to order websites to protect users’ privacy in response to “do not track” requests — and that’s actually a good thing for people who want to stay anonymous online. Here’s why.

    • Vizio Smart TVs Track Viewers’ Watching Habits To Work With Advertisers

      When choosing a smart television, buyers are often presented with a variety of features. One they may not be aware of: that TV could be watching you.

      Vizio Smart TVs, one of the most popular manufacturers, can track your viewing tendencies and report them to advertisers, as reported by ProPublica.

    • Edward Snowden Explains How To Reclaim Your Privacy

      LAST MONTH, I met Edward Snowden in a hotel in central Moscow, just blocks away from Red Square. It was the first time we’d met in person; he first emailed me nearly two years earlier, and we eventually created an encrypted channel to journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, to whom Snowden would disclose overreaching mass surveillance by the National Security Agency and its British equivalent, GCHQ.

      This time around, Snowden’s anonymity was gone; the world knew who he was, much of what he’d leaked, and that he’d been living in exile in Moscow, where he’s been stranded ever since the State Department canceled his passport while he was en route to Latin America. His situation was more stable, the threats against him a bit easier to predict. So I approached my 2015 Snowden meeting with less paranoia than was warranted in 2013, and with a little more attention to physical security, since this time our communications would not be confined to the internet.

    • The Poet, the Journalist, and the Dissident

      “I never thought that I would be Big Brother,” jokes Snowden as he is lowered down from the cloud and on to a projector screen. The crowd greets him like a rock star. He looks sheepish, perhaps overcome by the fervor of an audience in a country that he has no possibility of returning to under the present circumstances. On the stage to greet him is poet Ann Lauterbach and the Intercept’s Peter Maass. The dissident, the poet, and the journalist engaged in discussion at the penultimate talk of Bard College’s “Why Privacy Matters” conference held in October in the spirit of the college’s matron philosopher Hannah Arendt.

      Whether it is state-sponsored or corporate surveillance, or increasingly sousveillance, it seems privacy has become a relic of bygone days. In some sense, we have become unquestioning of this new reality of zero privacy put forth by government and corporate interests alike. But then I look up and see Snowden.

    • Did the FBI pay Carnegie Mellon $1 million to identify and attack Tor users?
    • Academics ‘Livid,’ ‘Concerned’ Over Allegations that CMU Helped FBI Attack Tor

      On Wednesday, Motherboard reported that a “university-based academic research institute” had been providing information to the FBI, leading to the identification of criminal suspects on the dark web.

      Circumstantial evidence pointed to Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) Software Engineering Institute and an attack carried out against Tor last year. After the publication of Motherboard’s report, the Tor Project said it had learned that CMU was paid at least $1 million for the project.

      On Thursday, other academics who focus on the dark web and criminal marketplaces expressed anger and concern at CMU’s alleged behavior, feeling that the research broke ethical guidelines, and may have a knock-on effect on other research looking into this space.

    • Tor director: FBI paid Carnegie Mellon $1M to break Tor, hand over IPs

      The head of the Tor Project has accused the FBI of paying Carnegie Mellon computer security researchers at least $1 million to de-anonymize Tor users and reveal their IP addresses as part of a large criminal investigation.

      Neither Carnegie Mellon officials nor the FBI immediately responded to Ars’ request for comment. If true, it would represent a highly unusual collaboration between computer security researchers and federal authorities.

      Ed Desautels, a spokesman for Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute, did not deny the accusations directly but told Wired: “I’d like to see the substantiation for their claim,” adding, “I’m not aware of any payment.”

    • Snowden ‘overwhelmed’ by public response

      “I was really worried … that this would be a two day story, then everybody would forget about it and we’d move on.” he said during a video question and answer session hosted by the PEN American Center on Tuesday.

    • Daniel Ellsberg And Edward Snowden: Two of A Kind

      Edward Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg met in Moscow recently to exchange views on freedom of information and Snowden’s fate.

      Ellsberg is a welcome guest on any campus these days. In 1971, while a military analyst at the Rand Corporation, he leaked the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times.

      The two met last winter, ac

    • What Clinton Got Wrong About Snowden

      The former secretary of state attacked the NSA whistleblower without bothering to get her facts straight.

      Hillary Clinton is wrong about Edward Snowden. Again.

      The presidential candidate and former secretary of state insisted during the recent Democratic debate that Snowden should have remained in the United States to voice his concerns about government spying on U.S. citizens. Instead, she claimed, he “endangered U.S. secrets by fleeing to Russia.”

    • Google’s new About Me page helps you control how your personal info is shared

      People concerned about how much information is out there about them on Google have a new way to control what everyone can see.

      Without any fanfare, Google has begun rolling out an About Me page to make it easier for people to control what others can see about them across Google services.

      The page should be welcome news to people concerned about their privacy, according to Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research.

      “With this feature, there are no changes to what information people can see, but a way for people to better control what people can see about them across Google services in one place,” a Google spokesperson wrote in an email to Computerworld.

    • Comcast resets passwords after logins posted to dark web, but denies breach
    • Comcast says it’s not to blame after 200,000 user accounts were put up for sale online

      Comcast will reset the passwords of roughly 200,000 customers after their account information wound up for sale on a shadowy Web site, the company said Monday.

    • Barack Obama, Lawyer-in-Chief

      Why did a liberal professor embrace the Bush surveillance state? Look to the law.

    • The real threats to Britain’s security

      Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “The Gulf states have appalling human rights records, particularly Saudi Arabia, yet they are always the key focus for UK arms sales. Despite the cancellation of the Saudi prison contract, and despite the horrors being unleashed on the people of Yemen by UK arms, there is growing talk of David Cameron visiting the regime to apologise and make up.”

    • Science of snooping: Internet spying cost & feasibility examined by MPs

      MPs have launched an inquiry into the cost and feasibility of the government’s Investigatory Powers Bill.

    • Former spy chiefs to meet financiers at Gleneagles

      The pair, who both left public office late last year, will address a “top-tier” audience of fund managers on the first evening of a high-profile conference sponsored by hedge funds and investment banks. Sawers is familiar with an audience of this kind, having delivered a keynote speech at a prestigious hedge fund summit in Paris in April.

    • GCHQ says that British industry is bashed seven times a day by hackers

      We’re probably gonna need some bigger laws

    • British spy agency GCHQ is advertising on trendy Shoreditch streets
    • GCHQ Is Targeting London’s Tech Hipsters With Graffiti Recruitment Ads
    • GCHQ goes all Cool Dad and tags the streets of Shoreditch with job ads
    • GCHQ to lead £6.5m CyberInvest challenge
    • GCHQ Boss: ‘Cyber Security Market is Failing Us’
    • GCHQ chief claims that everything is failing cyber security

      Hannigan warned that the UK is under constant threat of cyber attack and that the authorities are in an arms race against the bad guys.

    • GCHQ director blasts free market, says UK must be ‘sovereign cryptographic nation’

      Speaking this morning to CESG’s Information Assurance conference, Robert Hannigan, director of GCHQ, declared that Britain was a “sovereign cryptographic nation” and reproached the free market’s ability to provide adequate cybersecurity.

      The claim was delivered to a cybersecurity shindig attended by government employees and private professionals, arranged by GCHQ’s infosec arm CESG, as GCHQ’s head honcho pontificated upon the relationship between the market, regulation, and threats affecting the cyber domain.

    • Ex-GCHQ chief: Bulk access to internet comms not same as mass surveillance
    • NSA to end bulk call data collection this month

      The U.S. National Security Agency is ready to end later this month collecting Americans’ domestic call records in bulk and move to a more targeted system, meeting a legislative deadline imposed earlier this year, according to a government memo seen by Reuters.

    • NSA mass data collection to stop in 20 days, but just on paper.

      As we have previously written the new CISA (Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act) allows this information to be passed along voluntarily with little to no recourse be the average citizen. All the NSA or other government agency has to do is quietly ask a company can hand the data over all in the name of National Security on the “Cyber” front (ASL?). This is not the first time that the US Government has tried to pass a bill like this one, but they finally managed to get one through. The claim is that this will help companies share threat information with each other, but the reality is that the law goes much deeper than that and is not really needed. Companies are already sharing threat data and indications of compromise without any fear of consumer backlash, so this bill really only serves the purpose to protect other data sharing. Russ Spitler, Vice President of Product Strategy at Alien Vault had this to say about CISA.

    • The CIA writes like Lovecraft, Bureau of Prisons is like Stephen King, & NSA is like…
    • It’s No Secret That The US Government Uses Zero Days For ‘Offence’

      Little by little, the US government is opening up about its use of computer security vulnerabilities. Last month, the NSA disclosed that it has historically “released more than 91% of vulnerabilities discovered in products that have gone through our internal review process and that are made and used in the United States.” There should probably be an asterisk or four accompanying that statement. But more on that in a minute. First, it’s worth examining why the government is being even the slightest bit forthcoming about this issue.

    • The NSA is making great strides in transparency, but not really

      Until recently, the NSA has been able to do what it wants without having to explain anything to us, the little people. At the end of October, the agency published an infographic to tell us all exactly what they do (most of the time.)

    • NSA Pats Self On Back For Disclosing Vulnerabilities ’90% Of The Time,’ Doesn’t Specify How Long It Uses Them Before Doing So

      The NSA likes its software vulnerabilities. There are those it discovers on its own and others it purchases from “weaponized software” dealers. There are also certain tech companies that hand over exploits to the NSA first before working on a patch for the rest of us.

      Up until now, the NSA really hasn’t discussed its policies regarding software vulnerabilities and exploits. A few months after the Snowden leaks began, the White House told the NSA to start informing software companies of any exploits/vulnerabilities it had discovered. The quasi-directive set no time limit for doing so and allowed the agency to withhold discovered exploits if there was a “clear national security or law enforcement” reason to do so.

      While other parties have discussed the NSA’s hoarding of software exploits, the agency itself hasn’t. All information gathered to date has come from outside sources. Snowden provided some of the documents. The EFF knocked a couple more loose with an FOIA lawsuit against James Clapper’s office.

    • TRNN Replay: Whistleblower: Obama’s Secrecy Makes Bush Look Mild

      Thomas Andrews Drake (born 1957) is a former senior official of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy veteran, computer software expert, linguist, management and leadership specialist, and whistleblower. In 2010 the government alleged that he ‘mishandled’ documents, one of the few such Espionage Act cases in U.S. history. His defenders claim that he was instead being persecuted for challenging the Trailblazer Project.

    • NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake: ‘I’ve had to create a whole new life’

      Five years after becoming the first American to be charged for espionage in nearly four decades, Thomas Drake is still trying to rebuild his life.

      In 2010, Drake, a senior executive with the National Security Agency from 2001 to 2008, was indicted by the Obama administration for leaking classified information under the Espionage Act after speaking out on secret mass surveillance programs, multibillion-dollar fraud and intelligence failures from 9/11. He was the first U.S. whistleblower to be charged under the Espionage Act since Daniel Ellsberg in 1971, and faced 35 years in prison before the government’s charges against him were ultimately dropped in 2011.

    • How the media can support whistleblowers

      Can whistleblowers safely express concerns about their agency within internal channels? Do a whistleblower’s motives matter? Should the press focus on the leaker when reporting stories about the information they revealed?

      Edward Snowden — famous for his NSA data leaks — New York Times reporter James Risen and whistleblowers Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack tried to answer these questions using their own experiences at a Newseum forum Tuesday.

      “For all the whistleblowers I’ve worked with, for them, the press is the last resort,” Risen said. “They’ve tried and almost never found any real result from that internal system.”

      PEN America, a human-rights organization advocating for free speech, sponsored the event and released a report examining the channels whistleblowers have available, which showed why many concerned officials turn to the media to get their information out safely.

      Drake and Radack said they tried to work within the system to bring up their concerns with agency activities, but they suffered retaliation or superiors destroyed or redacted evidence they raised.

      Thomas Drake, a former senior executive at the NSA, revealed multi-billion dollar fraud, failures with 9/11 intelligence and mass surveillance violations. The Obama Administration indicted Drake in 2010 and charged him with espionage. He went free in a plea deal in 2011.

    • NSA whistleblower reveals details of American spying during Reddit AMA session

      Bill Binney, a former high-level intelligence officer in the NSA and later prominent whistleblower, has explained the inner workings of the security agency and its surveillance in a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ session.

    • A Former NSA Whistleblower Thinks Everyone in D.C. Should Be Fired

      NSA surveillance has been a hot topic ever since Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the agency’s activities. But government employees were concerned about surveillance for a decade before Mr. Snowden came along.

    • No software is ‘safe from surveillance’: Ex NSA official and whistleblower

      Not many know William Binney. He is a ex-NSA official and a whistleblower who helped another serial whistleblower, Edward Snowden leak thousands of classified NSA documents two years ago. He has not suffered like Edward Snowden who has suffered the ignominy of being fugitive and a wanted man in United States. Binney left US relatively unscathed after the NSA leaks.

    • NSA whistleblower: No software is ‘safe from surveillance’

      William Binney doesn’t have a membership card to the small group of which he’s a part — people who have spoken out against the National Security Agency, and been left relatively unscathed — but at least he has the next best thing, a valid passport.

    • NSA scrapping contentious phone spy program

      The National Security Agency will phase out its bulk surveillance program sweeping up Americans’ phone data to a more targeted system, marking a continued win for privacy activists.

    • A Good American review: fascinating revelations about the NSA’s role in 9/11

      Despite the controversy over Edward Snowden’s revelations of US surveillance of its citizens, it’s easy to imagine the country’s security services privately not being that embarrassed: there might be professional pride in overzealous snooping.

      But such bodies’ role in 9/11 is another matter entirely. What if it could be shown that the NSA could have – should have – prevented the attacks on the World Trade Center; that its failure to do so wasn’t due to bad luck, but a lethal cocktail of incompetence, arrogance and greed; and that they then sought to cover up their mistakes?

      This possibility is the driver of a fascinating, conspiracy theorising documentary: Friedrich Moser’s A Good American, which premieres on Tuesday at the CPH:DOX film festival in Copenhagen. It may not have the contemporaneous frisson of Laura Poitras’s Oscar-winning Citizenfour, but it certainly packs a punch.

      The American of the title is William Binney, Bill to his friends, a crypto-mathematician and former NSA analyst, who devised a surveillance and analysis system that was cut-price, had built-in privacy protections, was up-and-running in 2000, and so dazzlingly effective that he claims it “absolutely would have prevented 9/11”, if only the agency hadn’t wilfully ignored it. The documentary doesn’t categorically prove the case – ironically for a film about data, we need to see some, or have more collaborations than are offered. Yet it does make us believe.

    • Federal court to Obama: Stop spying on the American people
    • NSA Given Permission by Appeals Court to Continue Collecting Metadata
    • Appeals court allows NSA bulk phone spying to continue unabated

      The nation’s only successful challenge to the National Security Agency’s bulk telephone metadata surveillance program lasted just one day, as a federal appeals court is allowing the constitutionally suspect program to continue unabated.

    • 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).

    • Appeals Court Allows NSA to Continue Metadata Collection
    • Overnight Cybersecurity: Judge tells NSA to kill phone records program
    • US Court Says NSA Phone Surveillance Program Illegal – Reports
    • Judge curbs NSA’s collection of phone records
    • U.S. judge again rules NSA collection of phone data is likely unconstitutional
    • Judge: NSA Phone Surveillance Program Banned By Federal Judge
    • Federal judge rules against part of NSA phone surveillance program

      A federal judge on Monday ruled [opinion, PDF] against part of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) [official website] surveillance program that collects domestic phone records in bulk. Judge Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] said that the program was most likely unconstitutional and shut down the program just weeks before the NSA was scheduled to scrap it and replace it.

    • Feds to comply with court order in NSA case
    • Judge Calls NSA Phone Data Collection Unconstitutional
    • More impact from Snowden as court rules that NSA bulk phone record collection violates the Constitution

      Only weeks before the US Patriot Act will be replaced with the USA Freedom Act a federal judge ruled that National Security Agency (NSA) Bulk Telephone Metadata Program which was revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013 that systematically collects Americans’ domestic phone records in bulk “likely violates the Constitution.”

    • Judge bars NSA from collecting plaintiff’s phone records in court challenge to

      A replacement program, adopted by Congress and scheduled to begin at the end of November, essentially has the telephone companies keep the records and give them to the government according to a protocol. This does not mean the agency will stop collecting phone data, however it will be a more target specific program.

    • Lawmakers Who Upheld NSA Phone Spying Share Close Financial Ties to Defense Industry

      According to research by MapLight, the 217 congressmen that voted against the amendment received twice as much campaign financing from the defense and intelligence industry as the 205 people that voted for the amendment.

      Now joining us to unpack all this is Jay Costa. Jay is the program director of MapLight’s web and data projects. He previously served on San Francisco’s Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, chairing the group’s Education, Outreach and Training Committee, and on Berkeley’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission and Open Government Commission.

  • Civil Rights

    • Dear Idiots and Racists: Yik Yak Is a Bad Place to Make a Death Threat

      On Tuesday night, lines like this one appeared on the University of Missouri’s feed on Yik Yak, the location-based, hyperlocal social media app.

      “I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see,” wrote an anonymous user.

      The anonymous post led to beefed up campus security on a campus embroiled in protest and turmoil. But that user didn’t remain anonymous for long. It’s hard stay anonymous when the company knows all of its users’ locations, and will ship that information to law enforcement, no questions asked. Messages like the one sent by Hunter M. Park, a 19-year-old from Missouri, who was arrested on Wednesday just hours after he allegedly posted these threats on Yik Yak.

    • Veterans Benefits Administration executives abused incentive programs, bullied subordinates

      Senior executives within the Veterans Benefits Administration misused incentive programs to benefit themselves, an Inspector General report shows. Two officials went so far as to pressure subordinates into accepting unfavorable transfers to create vacancies for themselves.

      An anonymous source alerted authorities to one senior VBA executive’s $274,019 expenses for moving from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia, a distance of 140 miles, in October 2014. A subsequent Inspector General investigation has uncovered abuse of incentive systems within the Veterans Benefits Administration available to senior-level executives and has resulted in two requests for criminal prosecution to the US Attorney for the District of Columbia.

    • Video shows South Boston police tasering Richmond man who later died

      Police in South Boston repeatedly fired their stun guns on a Richmond man before he died in 2013, a network news program revealed Wednesday.

      Accompanied by graphic videos of Linwood R. Lambert Jr. being taken into custody, repeatedly shocked at the doors of a hospital, and then slumping nearly unconscious in the back of a police vehicle, the MSNBC investigation apparently buttresses allegations raised in a $25 million suit filed this year by Lambert’s family.

    • Driven to hospital, Virginia man tased, shackled and dies in police custody

      When three Virginia police officers put Linwood Lambert in a squad car around 5 a.m. on May 4, 2013, they said they were taking him to the ER for medical attention because he was speaking delusionally. Just over an hour later, Lambert died in police custody.

    • Government threatens 40 years in jail; Matt DeHart forced into plea deal

      Matt DeHart’s long saga of government persecution, including FBI torture, refused asylum, and seized property, continues today as Matt has been cornered into taking a plea agreement to avoid a decades-long prison sentence. The deal, in which the government would recommend Matt be sentenced to a total of seven and a half years — minus his three and a half years of time served — was Matt’s only hope to prevent something even worse: the government’s initial recommendation of forty years in jail or the charges’ maximum, of seventy years and a half-million-dollar fine.

      Under the deal, Matt would have to plead guilty to receiving teen “pornography,” consisting of messages dated from 2008 that the US government decided to charge years later after they became aware that Matt discovered sensitive military files had been uploaded to a server he ran and that he was a WikiLeaks and Anonymous supporter.

      [...]

      Matt’s father, Paul DeHart, has cited Aaron Swartz’s case as a turning point in the family’s fear of egregious prosecution. Swartz committed suicide after facing more than 50 years in jail for rapidly downloading publicly available JSTOR documents. Similarly, in Matt’s case, the government threatened an extremely long prison sentence of several decades — a highly disproportionate sentence for the allegations against him.

      [...]

      Further, we have to prevent future retaliation, like the solitary confinement suffered by Barrett Brown, Chelsea Manning and Jeremy Hammond. Matt has already been tortured during interrogation and imprisoned for years before trial. We must keep Matt’s sentencing in the public eye as only significant scrutiny will prevent further abuse and ensure as fair a trial as possible.

    • Jack Straw and senior spy could avoid torture prosecution

      The former foreign secretary Jack Straw and Sir Mark Allen, a former senior MI6 officer, could avoid prosecution over complicity in the rendition and torture of two Libyan dissidents by claiming immunity, the supreme court has been told.

      The extraordinary prospect of senior figures dodging their alleged liability for abductions and torture by deploying the “foreign act of state doctrine” in criminal proceedings emerged during a civil claim brought by Libyan and Pakistani former detainees.

    • British citizens must stand up for the EU

      Cameron’s EU renegotiation may be too little too late for the Eurosceptics. The rise of their “Out” campaign threatens the livelihoods and social protection of thousands of UK citizens, writes Jude Kirton-Darling.

    • As Things Stand, the EU Referendum Is on a Knife Edge

      As things stand, the referendum is on a knife edge, with our poll showing a three-point margin for remain. The vote is heavily conditioned by class and age: middle class people under 55 want to stay by 26 points while working class people over 55 want to leave by 34 points. It is a statistical tie among the older middle class and the younger working class. Among the general population, 13% are on one side or the other but open to changing their mind, and a further 12% don’t know either way.

    • The Worst Company in the World

      Brazil’s Vale corporation masks brutal exploitation with the language of South-South solidarity.

    • The Wrong Kind of October Revolution

      Another Cold War has started, strongly resembling the old one; but the old arsenal of ideology, like old weapons that were not maintained during a decade, have all oxidized and fallen out of use from indifference.

      [...]

      Viktor Orban in Hungary wins by promising to murder more gypsies and eventually the remaining Jews. Marine Lepen, new front-woman of the party for the ovens, openly anti-semitic and anti-Arab, grows more roots in France. Her solution to the refugee crisis is bacteriological and more eloquent than Trump’s: “let them have their ebola” she says, as her popularity sky-rockets.

    • Obama backs $607 billion Pentagon bill that bars Guantanamo closing

      The White House indicated Tuesday that President Barack Obama will sign into law a Pentagon spending bill that significantly raises the base budget of the US war machine while prohibiting the shutdown of the prison camp at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba or the transfer of its detainees to US facilities.

      The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) provides for a base Pentagon budget (excluding expenditures on active military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria) of $548 billion, larger than any year since the end of the Cold War.

      On top of the base budget, the funding bill includes $50.9 billion for “overseas contingency operations,” that will pay for ongoing military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, down from $64.2 billion in the last fiscal year. Together with a few smaller increments, this brings the total in military spending to $607 billion for the fiscal year that began October 1.

    • Human rights lawyers in China tell harrowing stories about their own torture and abuse

      These personal accounts come to light at a crucial time: Next week, China will answer questions from a United Nations anti-torture committee at a conference in Geneva—the UN’s fifth probe into the country’s torture practices.

    • Exposed: FBI Surveillance of School of the Americas Watch

      For a decade, the FBI flagrantly abused its counter-terrorism authority to conduct a widespread surveillance and monitoring operation of School of Americas Watch (SOAW), a nonviolent activist organization founded by pacifists with the aim of closing the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas (now renamed) and ending the U.S. role in the militarization of Latin America.

    • Alleged CIA Involvement In 2001 Anthrax Attacks

      By 2009 someone had uploaded a file to the shell, which is a server that I had operated the front-end of. Can’t really tell you the size of it. It had a text intro from an individual claiming to be a special agent for the FBI, he was explaining how the included documents pointed to CIA involvement in the Amerithrax case. It had an index, a file index which i skimmed through, it had PDFs, powerpoint files. The PDFs included scanned hand-written notes. Specifics which stood out to me, i mean I jotted some notes down before were technical nature of stuff like degraded Anthrax VS Brucellosis, degraded Anthrax VS Tularemia. There was nuclear regulatory commission paperwork tracking a radioactive cobalt source. From the handwritten notes, they thought that source was used to degrade or render inert weaponized anthrax. What else stood out to me.. it was the Ames strain of anthrax, and they said it was weaponized ‘electro-statically charged silicon nano particles’. That’s been burned into my memory

    • British student fights extradition to US for allegedly hacking the FBI and Nasa

      Love expects that if he is forced into the American judicial system, things will go no differently for him. “It’s clearly problematic that as a direct consequence of there being insufficient evidence even to bring a charge in the UK, I am facing a fate that I consider worse than any possible sentence given in the UK. If I were ever taken to the USA and refused to plead guilty, that number would go up significantly, until it were many times larger than the number of years I have left to live.”

      He thinks the extradition case against him is being used by British law enforcement officials to pressure him into giving up evidence against himself and others. Love presents his case to a British court on 10 and 11 December.

      When I ask him how many years of jail he thinks he’d face, he replies: “It’s all academic. I will never go to America except in a bodybag.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • My detergent product is green, but don’t tell anyone

      So how does Method stack up against its competitors? According to the article, major detergent challengers such as Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson and Clorox have so cleaned up their own products that they are apparently, in the main, eligible for the United States EPA (Environmental Protective Agency) seal of approval as well as for eco-labels from several well-regarded certifiers. However, companies of this type tend not to apply for such eco-labels. Not only that, but many do not provide information about how and why their products and the process of their manufacturer are now greener. The suggested upshot is that, while there may not be a significant environmental difference between the products of Method and those of its competitors, consumers may not have any clue that this is the case.

    • Trademarks

      • Judge Recused In University Of Kentucky V. Kentucky Mist Moonshine Case Because He’s A Kentucky Grad

        We were just discussing the University of Kentucky’s asshat-ish bullying attempts concerning Kentucky Mist Moonshine’s gall in selling hats and t-shirts featuring the distillery’s name and logo. The whole episode has been entirely silly from the outset, with the school essentially declaring itself the sole owner of the name of its home state for the purposes of its use on apparel. This attempt to throw aside even the question of actual customer confusion made the whole thing a strange power-play against a distillery, with some questioning how a trademark over a state’s name could be granted in the first place. Kentucky Mist itself filed a lawsuit against the school, requesting that the trademark it has chosen to flaunt so brazenly be either declared invalid entirely or reformed to protect the school only against any attempts to actually be associated with the school as opposed to the state of Kentucky.

        Again: none of this should be happening. If the University of Kentucky had simply kept its nose out of an unrelated business’ business, no suit would have been filed. But now, as the silliness continues, we get news that the judge originally assigned to preside over the case has recused himself. Why? Because he’s a graduate of UK.

    • Copyrights

      • TorrentFreak Turns Ten Today

        TorrentFreak turned ten years old today, but even after 8,477 articles and nearly a million comments we’re really just getting started. A special thanks goes out to everyone who’s helped to make this such an enjoyable ride so far.

      • Swedish Pirates are More Likely to Buy Legal Content

        As the entertainment industries catch up, fewer and fewer Swedish citizens are using unauthorized file-sharing networks. That’s according to a new study which has found that just 18% of the population now engages in the hobby. Nevertheless, those that do pirate are dramatically more likely to buy legal content than those who don’t.

      • Filmmakers Sue Dutch State Over Lost Piracy Revenue

        A coalition of Dutch film producers and distributors has today announced a lawsuit against the local Government. The filmmakers argue that the authorities are not doing enough to combat piracy and want pirate website operators and their users to face serious legal consequences.

      • A new “Happy Birthday” boss? Charity claims it owns famous song’s copyright

        In September, a judge ruled that music licensor Warner-Chappell doesn’t own the copyright to “Happy Birthday.” The question now seems to have become who does?

        A charity called the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) has now stepped forward to say that if Warner loses the copyright, it should become the rightful owner. Earlier this week, ACEI filed court papers (PDF) asking to intervene in the copyright dispute.

      • Charity Pops Up Claiming That It Holds The Copyright On Happy Birthday

        It ain’t over yet, folks. While many in the press went on and on back in September that the song “Happy Birthday” had been declared in the “public domain,” as we pointed out, that’s not what the judge said. He only said that the Summy Co. did not hold the copyright, because it seemed clear from a lawsuit back in the 1940s that the Hill Sisters (who sorta wrote the song — long story) only assigned the rights to the music and not the lyrics — and everyone agrees the music is now in the public domain. As we pointed out, this actually made the song an “orphan work”, which created a new kind of mess, and as we noted, it was entirely possible that a third party could now make a claim to holding the copyright — though we thought it was unlikely.

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