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11.19.15

Patent Lawyers Want to Bring Software Patents (Hence Patent Trolls Too) to Europe, Piggyback Battistelli’s Habitual UPC Promotion

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Unlocking the door for parasites

Toledo gate

Summary: Analysis of the views of academics (profiting from solid research), contrasted with patent lawyers (profiting from feuds and conflicts), and the latter group’s exploitation of Benoît Battistelli’s misguided policies

THERE is excellent new coverage about the uniquely US patent troll problem in the Washington Post, which is read by many US politicians. It was composed by James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer, whose work in this area has been influential. Bessen is a Lecturer in Law at the Boston University School of Law, but he’s not a maximalist of litigation, unlike many law professors. In fact, he studies the economics of innovation and patents and he works quite closely with Meurer (they co-authored Patent Failure).

“Bessen is a Lecturer in Law at the Boston University School of Law, but he’s not a maximalist of litigation, unlike many law professors.”They begin their coverage by stating that a “third of the economy is at stake — and patent trolls are to blame”. They say that “[p]atent lawsuits have become a big business. Over six times as many patent lawsuits are filed today as in 1980, and businesses of all sorts have become vocal about the burden of undeserved lawsuits, many over vague or overreaching software patents.”

They then ask about a reform: “Is this necessary? The evidence suggests that it is, but even more should be done.”

Well, patent lawyers fight back in social media. They deny there is even a problem and the echo chambers of patent lawyers (patent profiteers inviting patent profiteers speak to other patent profiteers) are a big part of this problem.

“They feel empowered by Battistelli’s controversial practices because he actively lobbies on scope rather than focus on examining patents based on rules handed down to him.”The biggest proponents of software patents, including Patent Watchtroll (or Watchdog, although they’re watchers in the opposite/inverted sense), still try to influence the EPO by pushing for the UPC, citing the maximalist Benoît Battistelli for support. They feel empowered by Battistelli’s controversial practices because he actively lobbies on scope rather than focus on examining patents based on rules handed down to him. To quote the patent maximalists (and lawyers):

In October, Italy, one of the last holdouts to the European Unitary Patent, joined the party, leaving Spain and Croatia as the only members of the 28-member European Union (EU) opting out. As the fourth largest market in Europe in terms of population, gross domestic product (GDP) and patent validation, Italy’s reversal is a huge step forward. According to Benoît Battistelli, president of the European Patent Office (EPO), “Italy’s accession will … render the Unitary Patent more attractive to companies from other European countries and from across the globe.”

However, there are still many more hurdles to cross before companies or individuals can expect to use the unitary patent to protect their intellectual property throughout the EU, although Battistelli is confident it can be completed by the end of 2016.

So what is it exactly, and what hurdles is it still facing?

Under the new system, one patent will be in effect across all of the participating EU member states, including at least Germany, the United Kingdom, France and 10 others, without having to further validate the patent in each of the individual countries. Infringement, invalidity determinations and injunctions on the unitary patents will be enforceable across the participating states as well. The unitary patent will not only reduce the complexity of protecting IP in Europe, but will significantly reduce the strain on IP budgets, as it currently costs around 36,000.00 EUR (approximately $48,000 USD) today to acquire patent protection in all 27 EU member states.

But at whose expense? What UPC practically means is that more business in more countries shall become instantaneously exposed to more patent lawsuits. Who pays the price? Everyone. Who benefits? Patent lawyers and their largest clients, who wield massive patent portfolios in a lot of countries. To these large multinational this can mean cost savings and easier/broader injunctions/royalty-gathering.

We occasionally hear from critics of the European patent system and they too worry about the UPC.

“I haven’t gone over to the dark side of the force [i.e. patent attorneys],” told us one reader, “but have nevertheless been reading volumes and volumes on patent law. My feeling is that there is a gulf between those who write laws, and those like me who have [or had] to apply them, sitting down and staring at the documents wondering where to begin, to eventually reach a solid decision. The former talk about “flexibility” and not presuming about the direction where innovation will head into, and the latter must figure out what the former actually meant. I banged my head on the wall over with expressions like “technical” or “as such”, and the US approach [e.g. Alice] isn’t a whole lot better.”

It is clear that even patent examiners don’t quite know how to deal with patent scope and boundaries, especially as patent lawyers try to blur gaps and mislead by lobbying. Non-technical managers contribute to this and pressure examiners (calling it “production” or “efficiency” rather than maximalism).

“What would be needed from critics of the patent system [such as Greenpeace],” our reader said, “is clear thinking. If there is to be a patent system, then one should strive for a fool proof litmus test for deciding what is allowable and what’s not, and not something of the “I know it when I see it” kind. I know, it’s hard, if not impossible.

“The people attempting to draft implementing regulations and reflect about the way in which these may be applied on real-life applications by real-life examiners, and how these would interact to obtain a patent law framework consistent across all fields, e.g., from chemistry to computer science.

“Industry lobbies know how to be at the right place at the right time to slip in their favoured wording, or drafting sweeping treaties bypassing national parliaments [e.g. TRIPS].”

We are seeing much of the same in UPC right now. We previously wrote about how can usher in a lot more software patents.

“A case in point is the biotech directive of the 1990s,” our reader said, “where the EU eventually adopted an outwardly impressive, but in practice rather useless biotech directive, which found its way in EPC Regulations. The tale of how it came into existence was told in German in at least two different books, and is impressive in its illustration of the shabby PR tactics employed by industrial interests.

“Farmers, software people, generic manufacturers, third world countries, patients and the NHS, etc. should heed this example, and aim upstream [the legislator], rather than downstream [the patent offices].”

What we are close to getting right now in Europe is a lot more patent trolls (this is already becoming a serious problem), having repeated the mistakes of the US with low examination standards (for the sake of artificially elevating numbers), little in terms of borders (cross-state separation), and expansion of patent scope to software (empirical evidence shows that most patent trolls use these).

AllThingsFRAND: The Latest Incarnation (Anti-Linux/Android, Pro-Patents) of Microsoft-Leaning AstroTurf Group Association for Competitive Technology

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 5:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Paid by Microsoft, still serving Microsoft’s agenda under misleading organisational names, hoping nobody will notice

Dark lobby

Summary: The Microsoft-connected ACT has just morphed into another entity, in an apparent effort to derail Android (as well as other Linux-powered mobile operating systems boasting Free/libre code) with patent tax in ‘thicket’ form

SO, Microsoft’s most infamous lobbyists are still around and they use patents as a weapon, not just lock-in such as OOXML. There is now a new mask for this particular group of lobbyists, and a new Web site too. Watch who follows and promotes this site (and Twitter account), it’s just people from ACT. This is yet another campaign Web site (one of many) belonging to this longtime Microsoft AstroTurfing group.

“The name of their site/campaign is probably designed to imitate or borrow the reputation of AllThingsD (Wall Street Journal) or All Things Open (ATO), a conference about FOSS.”See our Wiki for some background on Association for Competitive Technology, formerly known as ATL. It had previous names, but evidently it saw the need to keep renaming/rebranding because its agenda and clients become public knowledge, compromising its ability to operate effectively as a lobbying group.

In recent years these lobbyists were trying to masquerade as an alliance for ‘apps’ developers, disguising the anti-Linux and anti-FOSS agenda as ‘apps’. “Today marks the launch of http://AllThingsFRAND.com,” they announced in Twitter. “Follow our site for the latest news & analysis on patents, standards, and FRAND licensing” (the inherent foes of FOSS, Android, and Linux).

Anyone who follows this site will basically be following lobbyists. They are selling something. They sell agenda, not information.

“[W]hen you see all the complains at the EU level against Google, some company is pulling the strings from behind”
      –Benjamin Henrion
The name of their site/campaign is probably designed to imitate or borrow the reputation of AllThingsD (Wall Street Journal) or All Things Open (ATO), a conference about FOSS.

André Rebentisch (FFII) noticed this and said that “ACT [had] launched a #FRAND web site” (FRAND in this context are patents — mostly software patents — that act as a tax that’s virtually impossible to avoid).

“ACT launched a FRAND web site…”
      –André Rebentisch
Someone should perhaps tell the not-so-open-anymore Red Hat that Microsoft is still attacking FOSS (via front groups), with patents inside so-called ‘industry standards’ (thickets/cartels Microsoft is in). Well, so much for ‘standstill’… they are still on the offensive, albeit discreetly (through satellites).

Benjamin Henrion (FFII) told André that “ACT is still ACT. [Is] Zuck still around?” (he was one of their leading lobbyists even back in the ATL days)

Henrion added that “when you see all the complains at the EU level against Google, some company is pulling the strings from behind” (indeed, and we have covered this many times before).

“Here too we have patent lawyers trying to pressure politicians to support misguided policies that enrich lawyers and their big clients (multinational monopolies/oligopolies) at the expense of everybody else.”Henrion has noticed yet another curious thing about lobbyists. “Patent lawyers are forming working groups,” he wrote, citing Patent Watchtroll, a longtime prominent booster of software patents, “in order to draft law for software patents in the US after the Alice storm” (Alicestorm is a term used to refer to the avalanche of software patents after the Alice case).

Patent lawyers are basically the equivalent of weapons companies with their pro-war lobbying groups, set aside their soft bribes to people in Congress (to ensure politicians become hawkish or that only hawks are electable). This is why US Congress supports militaristic policies which in turn pass public money to weapons companies. Here too we have patent lawyers trying to pressure politicians to support misguided policies that enrich lawyers and their big clients (multinational monopolies/oligopolies) at the expense of everybody else.

Ignore the Noise in Corporate Media; Visual Studio is Still Proprietary (for Windows) and Will Remain Proprietary

Posted in Microsoft at 5:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft is openwashing its lock-in (like greenwashing or whitewashing)

Openwashing

Summary: Ill-informed journalists are helping Microsoft disseminate false messages (or half-truths) about Visual Studio

MICROSOFT finally addressed a criticism we made here before, but it wants the world to misinterpret that and wrongly extrapolate. The following criticisms are still applicable:

Remember that Visual Studio is not “open source” and is not “cross-platform”. Microsoft probably hopes to mislead or confuse the public by opening up and then merely compiling for other platforms just a portion, whereupon it can use misleading headlines to give people the impression that Visual Studio is on equal footing with Eclipse, for instance. It’s the “just enough” openwashing strategy.

It might actually work!

See this week’s news headlines.

Cynthia Harvey [1] deemed .NET “open source” even though it’s still proprietary and patented (we have more promises than deeds), Apple-oriented sites covered it from a Mac-centric point of view [2], some Linux sites [3-5] focused on just one small component of a large proprietary bundle (with no plans of becoming “open source”), and Microsoft apologists [6] or dedicated boosters [7-9] did their best to openwash Microsoft because this tiny portion of a proprietary software suite, Visual Studio (with a proprietary compiler that can potentially sneak in back doors into a lot of programs), had its source code liberated.

This might help get some non-Windows developers ‘addicted’ to Microsoft’s tool and if they later want the full (complete) bundle they’ll need to buy a Windows licence, buy a Visual Studio licence, and then rely on proprietary software from an NSA partner.

Is the world really better off with yet another code editor? One that is Microsoft-leaning?

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. 11 New Open Source Development Tools
  2. Microsoft’s Android emulator coming soon to Mac as it open-sources Visual Studio Code
  3. Microsoft Open-Sources Visual Studio Code for GNU/Linux, OS X, and Windows
  4. Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code open-sourced
  5. Microsoft Open-Sources Visual Studio Code
  6. Microsoft’s open source .Net now ready for real apps
  7. Microsoft courts Linux, iOS and Android developers with new wave of technologies
  8. Google engineers praise Microsoft open-source collaboration: ‘We share the same soul’
  9. Visual Studio now supports debugging Linux apps; Code editor now open source

    A version of the clang/C2 compiler is already used for Project Islandwood. Extending it to all Visual Studio C++ development is an exciting prospect for C++ developers; although Microsoft’s own compiler has made great strides in recent years, clang offers superior standards support in a number of areas. Being able to take advantage of that in Visual Studio will be very welcome indeed.

Another George Bush Moment: Benoît Battistelli Says EPO Believes in “Fundamental Principles of Freedom, Equality and Justice”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire. Our aim is a democratic peace – a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman.”George W. Bush

EPO and George Bush

Summary: Benoît Battistelli uses a disaster to make ludicrous claims and attempt to unify an office that’s truly divided

THE EPO‘s official Twitter account capitalised on Friday’s events, but it did not publicly mention its own (crushing unions and potentially jeopardising people’s lives). The EPO is in a state of meltdown and we were told that even Directors went out to demonstrate against the management yesterday.

“Well, the EPO’s President says he believes in “freedom” but operates his own Stasi-like unit. It illegally spies on staff, journalists, and so on.”Benoît Battistelli’s own response was even more hypocritical than the Twitter account’s. Battistelli would have us believe — to paraphrase Bush — that he has “no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire.” To quote Battistelli himself: “As an international organisation the European Patent Office believes in an open and inclusive society based on fundamental principles of freedom, equality and justice.”

This is a classic exploitation of a disaster, not for capital gain (so-called disaster capitalism) but for nationalist of pseudo-nationalist (e.g. office) gain.

Well, the EPO’s President says he believes in “freedom” but operates his own Stasi-like unit. It illegally spies on staff, journalists, and so on. The EPO’s President says he believes in “equality” but some businesses (large ones) are more equal than others, and they get preferential treatment. The EPO’s President says he believes in “justice” but he ignores/disregards court orders against his office (for serious abuses against his staff).

Who was Battistelli kidding when he typed down these words?

Links 19/11/2015: Linux Kernel 3.2.73 LTS, DockerCon EU

Posted in News Roundup at 2:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 14 amazing open source gifts for the holidays

    Here it is the annual Opensource.com holiday gift guide. Our collection of gifts is sure to get kids, adults, and hobbyists geared up and ready for hours of fun coding and creating. We’ve got 3D printers, Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, gadgets, robotics, and more!

  • Plotly to open source its dataviz code

    Data visualization platform Plotly is open-sourcing its powerful JavaScript library, which supports three dozen different types of graphics including maps, box plots and density plots as well as more common offerings like as bar and line charts. The code is scheduled to be posted on GitHub at https://github.com/plotly/plotly.js today.

  • Hiring Open Source Maintainers is Key to Stable Software Supply Chain

    Samsung is on a multi-year journey to become both a better consumer of open source, and a better contributor and leader in the projects that end up in our products. The reasons for doing so are quite clear to us: While it’s easy to use code that’s made freely available, it’s risky and potentially quite expensive to rely upon it long-term, unless you are proactively working within the community.

    The reason it’s potentially risky is actually the flip side of two of the biggest benefits of open source: development moves extremely fast, and a vibrant developer community leads to more diverse contributions. The result of this combination is that the APIs and the features you depend upon today could be entirely different tomorrow, depending upon the will of the contributor community.

  • Open source projects rely on donated time—what motivates participants?

    The study’s authors collected data from approximately a thousand R contributors who responded to a questionnaire distributed via e-mail. The respondents were asked about what drove them to participate in the project, with possible answers including taking pleasure in applying their skills and feeling a sense of responsibility toward the scientific community. They were also asked about extrinsic motivators, such as the potential that their work could help with academic advancement. Additionally, the surveys included questions about the characteristics of the software development work (e.g. repetitive, technical, social) and the demographics of participants.

  • Implementing open source requires tough staffing, IT calls
  • Import old email archives into Gmail using these open source tools from Google

    If you want to try these open source tools yourself, you can download them at Github (mail-importer and import-mailbox-to-gmail). Unfortunately, mail-importer appears to only support Thunderbird at this time. If you used a different client, you will need to wait for a future update. If you are savvy enough, maybe you can tweak the source to make it work. I have a large Lotus Notes archive saved — I won’t hold my breath on that one being anyone’s priority.

  • Celebrate GIS Day 2015 with 3 open source alternatives to Google Maps API

    If you’re looking to get started with web mapping, here are three libraries which are worth checking out.

  • Stickers

    Basically, stickers are a great way to promote open source projects. Also – fun! For more “Rules of sticker club” go HERE.

  • Events

    • LinuxCon Europe – Day 1

      The conference was opened by the LinuxFoundation’s Executive Jim Zemlin. He thanked the FSF for their 30 years of work. I was a little surprised to hear that, given the differences between OpenSource and Free Software. He continued by mentioning the 5 Billion Dollar report which calculates how much “value” the projects hosted at Linux Foundation have generated over the last five years. He said that a typical product contains 80%, 90%, or even more Free and Open Source Software. He also extended the list of projects by the Real Time Collaborative project which, as far as I understood, effectively means to hire Thomas Gleisxner to work on the Real Time Linux patches.

  • Databases

  • CMS

    • Setting up a Digital Ocean remotely hosted WordPress blog

      After considering our options, we decided to try using a Digital Ocean “Droplet” to host a WordPress blog. Here, I want to tell you how that went, and give a few pointers. This might be a good idea for some of you. And, I’ll explain what the heck Digital Ocean is in case you don’t know.

  • Education

    • RoboTutor team using open source tools to address short supply of teachers, schools

      Where were these Carnegie Mellon University researchers when Sister Thomas Catherine was frightening me and other good little Catholic school 3rd graders back in the day?

      CMU today informed us that a team of its researchers is taking aim at the $10 million grand prize of the $15 million Global Learning XPRIZE competition, the goal of which is to empower children to take control of their own learning via tablet computers, software and the like. The competition was announced about a year ago.

  • BSD

    • LLVM’s Clang Lands More CUDA Improvements

      Just days after writing about GPUCC as Google’s open-source CUDA compiler built atop LLVM and how to compile CUDA code with LLVM, more improvements have landed.

      There’s now support for CUDA compilation by default as one of the most prominent changes today. “Currently clang requires several additional command line options in order to enable new features needed during CUDA compilation. This patch makes these options default.” That change was done by Artem Belevich at Google.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC 5.2 Compiler Benchmarks With ARM Cortex-A57 A Mixed Bag

      In this article are some benchmarks using the Jetson TX1 when running open-source tests using the stock GCC 4.8.4 compiler and then trying out GCC 4.9.3 and GCC 5.2.1. The same compiler flags were used each time when building the benchmarks under each of the different compilers using the automated Phoronix Test Suite. GCC 4.9 and GCC 5.2 were obtained from the Ubuntu Toolchain PPA. All tests are built on the Jetson TX1 without any cross-compilation or other steps.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Farmers need better software

      The Open Food Network is a free, open source, scalable e-commerce marketplace and logistics platform that enables communities and producers to connect, trade, and coordinate the movement of food. It was founded by Serenity Hill and Kirsten Larsen, and besides being a network of consumers and producers, Open Food Network is built on free and open source software and released under AGPL license. Plus, anyone can contribute to the project on GitHub.

    • These Biohackers Are Creating Open-Source Insulin

      The 370 million people worldwide with diabetes rely on injections of insulin to regulate the amount of sugar in their blood, since their bodies can’t make the hormone themselves. Since there are no generic versions available in the United States, insulin is very expensive—that cost was likely a large proportion of the $176 billion in medical expenditures incurred by diabetes patients in 2012 alone. Now a team of biohackers with Counter Culture Labs, a community lab in Oakland, California, wants to pave the way towards generic insulin, and they’ve started a crowdfunding page for their project.

    • OpenCar wants to open source in-vehicle infotainment

      The OpenCar suite of offerings come together to work in a way similar to the software developer kits (SDK) offered for various tech and platforms. Everything from Web-based applications like WordPress to gadgets like the Apple Watch have developer kits associated with them so that third-party programmers can build software to work with them. In many ways, what OpenCar is offering is the platform for an SDK for in-car infotainment. Automakers still have to sign on and make their software compatible, but in return they can open their vehicle infotainment to outside developers without compromising its integrity or their control of the experience, branding, and legalities.

    • How will the children of the future learn about science?

      As our understanding of the world expands, it is important to ensure that that knowledge is equally accessible by all members of our society. This is vital to the progress of humanity. This philosophy, which is shared by the open source software movement, is not new; it has been around since the 1600s when the first academic journals were published for public reading. The Jupyter Notebook hints at what the academic journals of tomorrow will look like and paints a promising picture. They will be interactive, visualization-focused, user-friendly, and include code and data as first-class citizens. I believe that these unique characteristics will go a long way toward bridging the gap of understanding between the scientific community and the general public through both narrative and code—a gap that, when bridged, will have a significant impact on our society.

    • Open Data

      • EC brings pan-European open data together on European Data Portal

        On November 16, the European Commission launched the European Data Portal, which will serve as a central gateway to data published by administrations in countries across Europe, from the EU and beyond. Currently over 240,000 datasets from 34 European countries can be accessed through thirteen different categories and a multi-language search function.

      • Greek geodata project extends open data platform

        The Greek government’s open geodata platform (geodata.gov.gr) is making available as open source several tools and extensions to CKAN, a commonly used data management system. The development of reusable tools to help publish and discover open geospatial data is one of the goals of the PublicaMundi project that built Greece’s geodata platform.

    • Open Hardware

  • Programming

    • You might want to hug this book: a review of ‘Git for Teams’

      Git has a bit of a reputation as being difficult to learn and even more difficult to master. Because it’s such a powerful and flexible tool, it is easy for users to make hard-to-correct mistakes. When working with others, it becomes even easier to get out of sorts. Git for Teams aims to solve that problem by not only teaching the reader how to use Git, but how to use teams.

Leftovers

  • Security

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • 2015 shatters the temperature record as global warming speeds back up

      With just a month and a half left in 2015, it’s clear this year will be by far the hottest on record, easily beating the previous record set just last year. The temporary slowdown in the warming of global surface temperatures (also misnamed the “pause”) has ended, as each of the past four years has been hotter than the one before.

      El Niño is one reason 2015 has been such an incredibly hot year. During El Niño events, hot water is transported from the deep ocean layers to the surface. Over the past 15 years, we’ve experienced more La Niñas than El Niños, which helped temporarily slow the warming of global surface temperatures.

    • I’m a nuclear armageddon survivor: Ask me anything

      Press events are usually decadent affairs of food, drink, and well-dressed executives in up-market hotels. Not this one. A small number of journalists including your correspondent were dumped at dusk in a wet field in the Essex countryside, given blue boilersuits and a small knapsack containing bottle-tops and leaflets, and told to await developments. As most press events don’t ask for disclosure of any medical conditions, nor involve signing a waiver against accidents, those developments were unlikely to be pleasant.

    • The Koch intelligence agency

      The political network helmed by Charles and David Koch has quietly built a secretive operation that conducts surveillance and intelligence gathering on its liberal opponents, viewing it as a key strategic tool in its efforts to reshape American public life.

      The operation, which is little-known even within the Koch network, gathers what Koch insiders refer to as “competitive intelligence” that is used to try to thwart liberal groups and activists, and to identify potential threats to the expansive network.

      Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/11/the-koch-brothers-intelligence-agency-215943#ixzz3rrzL8oiR

  • Finance

    • House Democrats call TPP ‘too big’ to pass Congress

      A half dozen House Democrats asserted on Wednesday that opposition is growing for a sweeping Asia-Pacific trade agreement as the White House ramps up efforts to build support for the deal.

      The six Democrats — Reps. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.), Mark Pocan (Wis.) and Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) — said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal is “too big” to pass Congress and must be scrapped.

      The Democrats, who have long opposed the expansive deal, said the more than 5,000-page agreement, which they carted out in front of the Capitol by hand truck for a press conference, is a big giveaway to multi-national corporations and will have devastating effects on the U.S. economy, jobs and wages.

  • Privacy

    • Don’t Blame Encryption for ISIS Attacks

      Let’s start with what we don’t know. No firm details have been released about how the perpetrators of the attacks in Paris last Friday communicated.

      All the same, some media outlets, politicians, and security leaders in Europe and the U.S. are now suggesting that the tragic events show how encryption technology has lately made it easier for terrorists to evade the authorities.

      Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan complained about that at an event at the Center for Strategic & International Studies on Monday. “There are a lot of technological capabilities that are available right now that make it exceptionally difficult, both technically as well as legally, for intelligence security services to have insight that they need,” he said.

      There is also much chatter about the possibility that the Paris attackers used Sony’s Playstation gaming network to communicate because it offers a very high level of protection against eavesdropping. This is based on a false assertion—now retracted—that a Playstation 4 console was among the items seized in a series of raids this weekend in France and Belgium. (Belgium’s interior minister did say last week that it was “very, very difficult” for intelligence agencies to “decrypt” communications made through Playstations, but he didn’t back up his claim.)

    • EU centre-right group using Paris tragedy to try to kill data protection directive

      Since the Paris attacks politicians, police and intelligence agencies have pushed for more mass surveillance. And now, it seems they are also trying to undermine the new EU framework for data protection.

      The EU data protection directive has been under massive fire from special interests and member states in the council. But the European Parliament has been firm in insisting on a clear and meaningful framework to protect citizens private data.

    • FBI Paid Carnegie Mellon $1M to Crack User IDs, Claims Tor

      The Tor Project last week claimed the FBI paid Carnegie Mellon University $1 million to crack the anonymity of Tor users.

    • U.S. Mass Surveillance Has No Record of Thwarting Large Terror Attacks, Regardless of Snowden Leaks

      Despite the intelligence community’s attempts to blame NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for the tragic attacks in Paris on Friday, the NSA’s mass surveillance programs do not have a track record — before or after Snowden — of identifying or thwarting actual large-scale terrorist plots.

      CIA Director John Brennan asserted on Monday that “many of these terrorist operations are uncovered and thwarted before they’re able to be carried out,” and lamented the post-Snowden “handwringing” that has made that job more difficult.

      But the reason there haven’t been any large-scale terror attacks by ISIS in the U.S. is not because they were averted by the intelligence community, but because — with the possible exception of one that was foiled by local police — none were actually planned.

    • Study finds no increase in jihadists’ use of encryption since Snowden leaks

      Is Edward Snowden to blame, even indirectly, for the Paris attacks that left 129 dead and hundreds others injured?

      Ask surveillance hawks, and you’ll likely get an emphatic “Yes!” The rising popularity of encrypted communications following Snowden’s 2013 leak of gigabytes of secret NSA documents has made terrorists far more difficult to identify, they say. Without Snowden, the attackers would still be out in the open.

    • Syrian passports found at Paris attacks scene were fakes made in Turkey

      EU commission chief says EU does not need to review migration policy in light of fears that militants posing as refugees launched attacks

    • NYT Quietly Pulls Article Blaming Encryption in Paris Attacks

      Questions about how the terrorists behind Friday’s attacks in Paris managed to evade electronic surveillance have fueled worrisome speculation in Europe and in the U.S. from intelligence experts, lawmakers and the press — including the New York Times, which on Sunday quietly pulled from its website a story alleging the attackers used encrypted technology.

      On Sunday, the Times published a story citing unidentified “European officials” who told the outlet the attackers coordinated their assault on the French capital via unspecified “encryption technology.”

      “The attackers are believed to have communicated using encryption technology, according to European officials who had been briefed on the investigation but were not authorized to speak publicly,” the article, which has since been removed, stated.

    • After Endless Demonization Of Encryption, Police Find Paris Attackers Coordinated Via Unencrypted SMS

      In the wake of the tragic events in Paris last week encryption has continued to be a useful bogeyman for those with a voracious appetite for surveillance expansion. Like clockwork, numerous reports were quickly circulated suggesting that the terrorists used incredibly sophisticated encryption techniques, despite no evidence by investigators that this was the case. These reports varied in the amount of hallucination involved, the New York Times even having to pull one such report offline. Other claims the attackers had used encrypted Playstation 4 communications also wound up being bunk.

      Yet pushed by their sources in the government, the media quickly became a sound wall of noise suggesting that encryption was hampering the government’s ability to stop these kinds of attacks. NBC was particularly breathless this week over the idea that ISIS was now running a 24 hour help desk aimed at helping its less technically proficient members understand encryption (even cults help each other use technology, who knew?). All of the reports had one central, underlying drum beat implication: Edward Snowden and encryption have made us less safe, and if you disagree the blood is on your hands.

  • Civil Rights

    • What Americans thought of Jewish refugees on the eve of World War II

      The results of the poll illustrated above by the useful Twitter account @HistOpinion were published in the pages of Fortune magazine in July 1938. Fewer than 5 percent of Americans surveyed at the time believed that the United States should raise its immigration quotas or encourage political refugees fleeing fascist states in Europe — the vast majority of whom were Jewish — to voyage across the Atlantic. Two-thirds of the respondents agreed with the proposition that “we should try to keep them out.”

    • ​’Offensive and hysterical’: Obama lashes Republicans over Syrian refugees

      President says Congress lawmakers and state governors are doing Islamic State’s work…

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Elsevier Says Downloading And Content-Mining Licensed Copies Of Research Papers ‘Could Be Considered’ Stealing

        Elsevier has pretty much established itself as the most hated company in the world of academic publishing, a fact demonstrated most recently when all the editors and editorial board resigned from one of its top journals to set up their own, open access rival. A blog post by the statistician Chris H.J. Hartgerink shows that Elsevier is still an innovator when it comes to making life hard for academics. Hartgerink’s work at Tilburg University in the Netherlands concerns detecting potentially problematic research that might involve data fabrication — obviously an important issue for the academic world.

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