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


Željko Topić Tries to Do to EPO Staff What He Did in Croatia, Now Crushes Staff Assembly in The Hague

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The poetic irony in The Hague, home of the ICC where a person who is accused of crimes does not relent but persists with bad behaviour

The Hague International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court (ICC). Author/photographer: Vincent van Zeijst

Summary: Reminder to European Patent Office (EPO) staff that the EPO’s management has a history of union-busting and serious violations of the rules; a call to join protests later today and later this week

THE management of the EPO is once again going to witness the ‘horrifying’ — to managers — sight of its very own staff protesting against the management and the institution under current management. The staff does wish to destroy the EPO, it is pursuing a fix. Anyone with some common sense can see that a fix is sorely needed at many levels and in many areas.

The EPO scandals now make the mainstream media in Europe and it’s even in English for a change (this was published some hours ago). Well, my jaw was on the floor when I read a statement from the EPO saying: “As a European public organisation the EPO fully respects freedom of the press as a core value of an open society” (there are other funny statements like “the EPO has a duty of care for its staff, who are its primary responsibility” or “all necessary measures to protect its staff and their families”). Ladies and gentlemen, let’s pick up our collective jaws and carry on… Eric Arthur Blair must already be turning in his grave.

“Anyone with some common sense can see that a fix is sorely needed at many levels and in many areas.”A staff protest is imminent. The protest is going to take place later today. We strongly encourage all staff to attend the protest in order to discourage union-busting and also media SLAPP-ing. Over the weekend we showed why it was really just shameless SLAPP (see our responses to legal letters) and a war for silencing reporters or critics (a long-held tradition at the EPO). We are not trying to take away from the focus (or steal the thunder) of protecting staff representatives, just to cover an additional angle. See this thread in IP Kat, in particular comments further down* which refer to SLAPP against Techrights and say “In the past it seems that he has had much better luck in other jurisdictions … ” (alluding to the Croatian affairs)

From what we can gather, Željko Topić most likely demanded an ‘apology’ (before he lost his court case) — the very same thing that the EPO tried to get out of me, under legal pressure and threats. Later on Battistelli linked to this (quite likely forced) ‘apology’ as ‘proof’ that Topić was innocent, as we covered here many months ago. This is a familiar modus operandi after what Techrights experienced.

“Later on Battistelli linked to this (quite likely forced) ‘apology’ as ‘proof’ that Topić was innocent, as we covered here many months ago. This is a familiar modus operandi after what Techrights experienced.”Why do we mention Topić again (other than him being mentioned in new comments)? Well, Vice-President Topić, with his dubious legal status, several criminal charges (in Croatia) and previous efforts to crush EPO protests (in the name of ‘security’, as if pushing people to the side of the road would make them any more secure), refused to give authorisation for a General Assembly of EPO staff in The Hague (that’s not today but last week). What was coined “Balkan standards” is now coming to The Hague then?

Remember how the EPO was trying to characterise (in the media at least) the latest massive staff protests as violent? Well, here we go again. We are gratified to have obtained details of how Topić was attempting to crush last week’s peaceful assembly (if not today’s protest too). Here are the raw details.

“Remember how the EPO was trying to characterise (in the media at least) the latest massive staff protests as violent?”“For your information,” our source told us, correspondence, was leaked. “Controversial EPO Vice-President Željko Topić,” we’ve been told, “recently refused to give authorisation for a General Assembly of EPO staff in the Hague which was scheduled to take place on 24 November 2015.” [that's last week]

More details can be found below.

“Mr. Topić had already made quite a name for himself as a “union-buster” back in 2007 in his then role as Director-General of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office.”

Here is a translation of an article from Croatia, showing Topić’s extensive ‘experience’ attacking staff (emphasis in yellow is ours):


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

STATE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE: Bullying of “unwanted” civil servants

(SDLSN, 20 November) During the last month, staff at the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) have addressed a number of petitions to the various Government bodies and staff unions, accusing Mr. Željko Topić, M.Sc. of bullying and other unlawful and arbitrary actions.

Jadranka Oklobdžija
Staff union representative, Ms. Jadranka Oklobdžija warned that Mr. Topic neglected to carry out an assessment of his subordinates for three years in a row, thus denying them the rights arising from their assessment.

The reason for such a reaction on the part of civil servants and the representative of the local branch of the staff union SDLSN, Ms. Jadranka Oklobdžija, is the manner in which Mr. Topić is running the Office. The last straw was the decision on the establishment of an “expert working unit” tasked with the design and implementation of the SIPO project entitled “The selection and storage of non-administrative mail” at a separate location remote from the Office headquarters in Savska 118.

The civil servants and the local branch of the staff union accuse the Director of having established this “expert working unit” in breach of the provisions of the current Regulation on the Internal Organization of the SIPO, where there is no mention of any such units. They also question the appropriateness of this ostentatiously named project, because despite the fact that the new unit has been set up to deal with archive materials, it is located at a site remote from the main office where the archive materials are stored.

That there is something wrong with this project of Mr. Topić is indicated by the fact that, according to its head, all of the people appointed to this “expert working unit” (10 in total) are “from other sectors and departments, mostly people against whom Mr. Topić bears a personal grudge for whatever reason or those who have been on sick leave for longer periods.”

The members of this “punishment battalion” are afraid that it is being used as a way to remove them from their current positions for which they still have valid civil service appointments. They fear that “Commandant” Topić’s plan is to declare them redundant which could result in the cancellation of their civil service status.

That their fears may be justified is evidenced by the fact that Mr. Topić has submitted an amended Regulation on the Internal Organization of the SIPO, which provides for reduction of positions by about 15 percent, to the Central State Office for Administration for prior approval.

Željko Topić
Mr. Topić came up with an original method for getting rid of “unwanted” civil servants – assign them to a pointless project and isolate them from the State institution until they can be disposed of.

However, at the same time as these “unwanted” civil servants isolated in inadequate working facilities at a site remote from the SIPO headquarters are waiting to see what will happen to them, the SIPO Director seems to be in the process of recruiting new employees in the area of documentation management, i.e. the very task for which the “expert working unit” was formed. Two new prospective employees are due to be assessed on 22nd November, i.e. this Thursday.

Apart from the violation and complete disregard for all the applicable civil service regulations, Mr. Topic is also in breach of the provisions of the Collective Agreement for civil servants which expressly prohibits the transfer of a staff union representative to another position within the same Government body and imposes an obligation on the management of State bodies to engage in prior consultation with local staff unions in relation to the adoption of any regulations affecting the labour rights of civil servants, such as the Regulation on the Internal Organization of the SIPO.

In view of the above issues, the staff union intends to report this violation of the Collective Agreement to the Joint Commission responsible for monitoring application of the Agreement which has an obligation to inform the Government about the adoption of such regulations, and, if the violations of staff rights continue, to file a criminal complaint against Mr. Topić.

In the meantime, the inspectorate of the Central State Office for Administration should conduct an administrative audit of the SIPO in order to clarify the situation from the perspective of the competent inspection body.

The staff union is also urging the Croatian Government not to accept the amendments to the Regulation on the Internal Organization of the State SIPO until all the relevant facts regarding the legality of the actions of Mr. Topic and the exercise of his functions as Director of the SIPO have been established.

Notice from the above how similar it is to what the EPO is currently doing, with some variations here and there. It makes one wonder if Battistelli’s recruitment/addition of Topić to his team was like an acquisition of staff-crushing assets. Here is the E-mail exchange with Mr Topić concerning SUEPO’s request to hold a General Assembly in The Hague on the 24th of November, 2015.

It starts as follows:

From: ….
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2015 6:43 PM
To: VP4 OFFICE; Zeljko Topic
Cc: ….
Subject: RE: general assembly of staff in The Hague

Dear Mr Topić,

Please be informed that the SUEPO Committee of The Hague intends to organise a general assembly of staff on Tuesday 24 November 2015 at 11.30 in EPO premises (room to be defined), in particular to allow staff in The Hague to express solidarity with their Staff representatives.

We look forward to your answer,

On behalf of the Committee of SUEPO‐TH

A… R…


PS: I have copied (Facility Management) for information

Remember that was the time shortly after the crushing of staff representatives.

Here is a relatively sensitive response from the man who many people internally refer to as “Putin”:

From: ….
On Behalf Of Zeljko Topic
Sent: Thursday, November 19, 2015 4:24 PM
To: ….
Subject: RE: general assembly of staff in The Hague

Dear Mr R…,

I take note of your request, sent to me in your capacity as Chairman of SUEPO The Hague. May I ask you to please clarify the agenda and purpose of this all staff General Assembly, which, you are hereby reminded, can be held for topics of general interest to all staff and not to discuss specific ongoing individual procedures.

Željko Topić
Vice‐President DG 4

Reply was as follows:

From: ….
Sent: Friday, November 19, 2015 4:51 PM
To: VP4 OFFICE; Zeljko Topic
Cc: ….
Subject: RE: general assembly of staff in The Hague

Dear Mr Topić,

The general assembly is intended to:
‐ Show solidarity of staff with their Staff representatives (as already mentioned)
‐ Report about the latest changes planned at the EPO (eg tax adjustment reform)
‐ Possibly adopt a resolution of SUEPO members

We look forward to your quick answer,

On behalf of the Committee of SUEPO‐TH

A… R…


PS: I copy (Facility Management) for information

Although nothing insensitive was said, two days have passed and not a word, so then comes another message:

From: ….
Sent: Friday, November 20, 2015 2:40 PM
To: VP4 OFFICE; Zeljko Topic
Cc: ….
Subject: RE: general assembly of staff in The Hague

Dear Mr Topić,

We are at a loss to understand why it takes so long to authorize our general assembly. Could you please answer this second reminder before 15.30. Should the EPO refuse to allow the meeting, SUEPO has to organise it outside the EPO, with associated costs and a need to book a big room.

Thank you for letting us know before 15.30 today whether you authorise the General Assembly.

On behalf of the Committee of SUEPO‐TH

A… R…


PS: I copy (Facility Management) for information

Now comes rudeness:

From: ….
On Behalf Of Zeljko Topic
Sent: Friday, November 20, 2015 3:43 PM
To: ….
Subject: RE: general assembly of staff in The Hague

Dear Mr R…,

May I begin by drawing your attention to the fact that I do not appreciate you imposing any ultimatum on me, especially considering that in both your emails you fail to provide the requisite clarity.

What you have provided to me so far does not appear to fulfil the requirements for a General Assembly for all staff, which can be approved for topics of general interest and for all staff (not SUEPO members only) and should certainly not turn out to be a full on demonstration held on the premises of the Office.

You will understand that I must exercise proper duty of care in this respect and evaluate all possible safety and security issues, also taking into account the experience of violent demonstrations organised in The Hague in the recent past. Finally, I reiterate here that any affair concerning an individual staff member or specific administrative procedures, is subject to strict confidentiality and the Office has a duty to take all measures to protect the Office’s and the specific staff member’s interests alike.

Given these circumstances, your request cannot be approved.

Željko Topić

Vice‐President DG 4

See the pattern again? He speaks of “experience of violent demonstrations organised in The Hague in the recent past.” These have nothing to do with EPO and probably have more to do with fairly radical causes. Perhaps that’s where the bogus allegations of “violence” come from. It’s imaginary.

Here is a prompt reply (just half an hour later):

From: ….
Sent: Friday, November 20, 2015 4:26 PM
To: Zeljko Topic; VP4 OFFICE
Cc: ….
Subject: RE: general assembly of staff in The Hague

Dear Mr Topić,

I do not appreciate your disingenuousness and lack of courtesy. I have made a request according to the rules, in good time, so as to be able to hold a General Assembly next Tuesday. It is your duty to answer within a reasonable time so as not to frustrate our right of peaceful assembly through inertia.

This was not an ultimatum. It was a second reminder, and implied an expectation that you, too, follow protocol. You now refuse to allow a legitimate Union, SUEPO, to gather peacefully for its own purposes. You seem to ignore or wilfully to breach the fundamental rights involved in the freedom of association, which is enshrined even in Article 30 of our Service Regulations.

This is yet another act of censorship that is duly noted and will be presented in Court. Further, you will have to justify yourself before the Administrative Council, who will be informed forthwith of your decision.

With consternation and determination,

On behalf of the Committee of SUEPO-TH

A… R…


This is rightly being called an “act of censorship” (one of many in the EPO) and people need to remember the history of Topić's war against the legitimacy of a widely-supported (by a lot of staff members) union.

“We hope that many people will attend these protests to make the management aware that it is vastly outnumbered in this war.”Several protests are coming to different cities. We hope that many people will attend these protests to make the management aware that it is vastly outnumbered in this war. We will write about protests and translate articles afterwards, to the extent that we can.

“Actions continue at the European Patent Office,” SUEPO’s site said on Monday, revealing that “The next demonstrations will take place on:

  • Tuesday 01 December, starting at 12:00, In front of the Dutch Ministry of Economy in The Hague.
  • Friday 04 December, starting at 12.30h in front of the Isar building in Munich.

“With these demonstrations staff protests against the persistent attacks on its staff representatives, culminating in the suspension of and disciplinary procedures against 3 Union officials in Munich.”

“Please attend to defend staff because this attack on representatives is an attack on everyone.”So there is a staff protest starting at 12:00 today. We have known about it for a while, but decided not to spoil the element of surprise, which makes it hard — strategically — for EPO management to derail it. Please attend to defend staff because this attack on representatives is an attack on everyone. It’s a classic 'decapitation' strategy.

Here are some more details about these protests, especially the first one. A protest of all staff is to start today at midday, not to be confused with the General Assembly planned for Tuesday the 24th of November at 11:40, as initially planned (at “De Broodfabriek”, situated in Volmerlaan 12, Rijswijk). Here is the message published at the time:

Dear SUEPO members, dear Colleagues,

Following the recent events described in our earlier paper “Witch hunting against SUEPO officials and Staff representatives” we timely requested from Mr Topić, VP4, the authorisation to hold a General Assembly in the EPO premises, in accordance with the rules in force in the EPO “social democracy”. On Friday afternoon, after two reminders, VP4 finally turned down our request, shamelessly breaching the freedom of association of staff.

We have thus booked a large meeting room outside the EPO, “De Broodfabriek” one block away from the Rijsvoort building, at about 10 mn walking distance from the other EPO buildings. Address: Volmerlaan 12, 2288GD, Rijswijk (map below). On the agenda:

  • Feedback about the above mentioned events
  • Solidarity with your Staff representatives in The Hague & Munich
  • Legal actions from our lawyers
  • Forthcoming demo in The Hague
  • AoB

The GA is taking place outside block time (10:00-11:30; 14:00-15:00) to allow for your safe participation. It should end around 12:30 at the latest, but we will remain available for discussion and questions after that time.


That was about a expression of dissent (not protest) which was effectively postponed by one week (when time is precious because people are already suspended). The document cited in this statement says the following in order to provide some background to the uninitiated (the names of the people were already named in the media and there is no danger of retaliation, given that unions are already under attack):

Witch-hunt against SUEPO officials and staff representatives

Dear SUEPO members, dear colleagues,

Yesterday we informed you about the events that, last Friday, caused Jesús Areso and Laurent Prunier to fall sick. Their respective physicians have confirmed the illness. Apparently not content with the result, the Office yesterday had the audacity to send a “medical controller” to their respective homes; they are now both summoned for a visit with the Medical Adviser. As if Jesus and Laurent were pretending to be sick. After making them sick, now they question whether they are sick? Or maybe the Office does not trust its own OHS? It is not yet clear who initiated this process, but it is a disgrace, and intolerable. We are informed that the lawyers are already “on it”. Laurent and Jesus are very grateful for the expressions of solidarity and offers of support.

Meanwhile, in Munich, all hell has broken loose. No less than 3 staff reps/union officials (Elizabeth Hardon, Ion Brumme, Malika Weaver) have been suspended on what we understand to be vexatious grounds, notwithstanding the President’s propaganda. The security guards are receiving orders in real time to prevent colleagues to hang out posters and to remove the ones that have been already hung up. In actual fact, we have from very reliable sources that the Office is already contacting the press to launch a PR campaign.

Why this, why now? The timing is suspect. This week, the Board 28 gathers to discuss the social aspects of the EPO – read: the famous “social study”. An honest social audit would be disastrous for Battistelli. He MUST someway create waves to block it. Going on the offensive, attacking those that gave cause to the Council to consider the audit, is his strategy.

If you are outraged, scared or feel sick, you are normal. Time has come to give Battistelli and his crew a clear message: enough is enough. This management by “fear, isolation and punishment” has to stop.

What are YOU going to do? You can write personally to your country’s representative in the Council, urging them to take responsibility for the governance of the Office. You can address your hierarchical line with clear demands to be channeled upwards (it is about time Directors take some responsibility). You can create or join support groups. You can prepare actions to support your staff reps who risk being sacked. Just use your imagination, act – and let us know what you did.

Your SUEPO Committe The Hague

We now know more about the media campaign that we heard about last week. External media people are co-opted and there is propaganda in the making, regardless of the staff’s widely-held views, even in the Central Staff Committee [1, 2]. It’s not just SUEPO and its members. It’s almost everybody, except perhaps people who are too afraid to show solidarity for their colleagues. Nearly a week ago someone sent us the following petition, stating the legal basis for supporting the unions. It’s a petition in support of staff representatives Elizabeth Hardon, Malika Weaver, and Ion Brumme, who according to the petition “have been suspended on Tuesday 17 November 2015 and will be subject to a disciplinary procedure soon.”

The petition states:

We fail to understand how the misconduct(s) alleged against them could be of a nature incompatible with their continuing in service (Article 95 ServRegs). They seem to have been targeted because they are very committed staff representatives and also prominent SUEPO executives.

We, the undersigned, consider the decision to suspend them utterly unfair and undemocratic. We hereby request that their suspension be lifted and any disciplinary procedures against them immediately stopped.

The likes of Topić want to destroy good people as part of their 'decapitation' strategy. See how even illness is used — if not shamelessly exploited — as a pretext for crushing staff in both cases (compare to the aforementioned article from Croatian media). Topić has experience from Croatia and later this month we will show more EPO exploitation of illnesses (if not deaths in the family) to crush unions. If the representatives are not successfully defended, it will only increase fear and enable the management to crush people further down the chain. Remember that the EPO contracted some union busters from England. These people are ‘professionals’. But it doesn’t mean they’re unbeatable. Making the staff actually believe that the staff is powerless and unable to resist is perhaps their strongest weapon.

“Making the staff actually believe that the staff is powerless and unable to resist is perhaps their strongest weapon.”The newest stuff that we’ve gotten a hold of includes further information about today’s protest. It follows some other recent actions. “Yesterday,” it says, “a massive General Assembly took place in The Hague: due to the Administration ban, it took place at 10 minutes walking distance from the Office, in a kind of concert hall which looked very packed with 800 to 1000 participants. Besides the acclaimed speeches a remarkable number intervention came from the floor calling for more concrete actions to support our colleagues. The call from the floor for a symbolic ONE DAY strike with maximum participation was greeted by a massive and unambiguous show of hands.”

The petition above too was mentioned: “As announced last week, a petition is circulating in Munich. The petition will be handed out to a notary to protect signatories from the risk of retaliation. Staff from all POEs are invited to join in and help collecting the signatures…”

Those who are interested will know where to drop the forms.

Under “Enemies everywhere” we too are mentioned, as noted here before. Examples are also mentioned as follows:

1. In the past months, the EPO President has made it abundantly clear that the EPO has many internal Enemies: potentially any staff members – hence the surveillance -, the Staff representation institutions – hence the limitations – and its representatives – hence the investigations and the disciplinary procedures.

2. In the past weeks, it was made clear that the EPO has enemies in the interested circles: Member States Delegations of the AC seem to have been threatened of consequences for their actions by the President. The exchange of letters last week has shown that elected national Parliament Members, like Mr. Le Borgn’, allegedly represent a threat to the organisation. This is new for the whole EPO history.

3. Since yesterday, it is becoming also clear that the enemies are everywhere, in the media and elsewhere: accordingly bloggers and even lawyers receive the same treatment of legal threats and intimidations…

One can wonder what the next step will be?

Now that the protest is imminent it is safer to publish details of today’s protest:



In front of the Dutch Ministry of Economy – The Hague

Dear Colleagues,

The social situation at the EPO keeps deteriorating. Mr Battistelli and Ms Bergot are attacking and determined to crush Staff representatives and SUEPO Officials. Three are suspended in Munich and are risking dismissal. Others are being targeted by vexatious acts to such extent that their health has suffered.

1000 staff members have already shown their support and solidarity on 24 November by gathering in a General Assembly outside the EPO premises (since Mr Topić had forbidden it
inside the Office). Staff in The Hague has sent a clear message to management. We must now continue to raise awareness with the Dutch authorities. The Netherlands are a country renowned for its Democratic tradition. The totalitarian practices now spreading in the EPO cannot be tolerated on Dutch soil.

We demand:

•Removal of all threats to all Staff representatives. Those suspended should be reintegrated at once;

•Urgent labour inspection of the EPO by the Dutch Arbeidsinpectie, or other agency accredited to the Dutch government, in conformity with the Art. 20 of the EPO PPI (Protocol on Privileges and Immunities);

SUEPO in Munich will organise also a demo on 10 December, a few days ahead of the Administrative Council December meeting.

In The Hague, on Tuesday 1 December from 12:00, we will demonstrate in front of the “Ministerie van Economische Zaken”, Bezuidenhoutseweg 73, close to the Central Station, see map overleaf. EPO partners and pensioners are welcome to join!

Authorisation by the local authorities is in process. Gathering/starting point and detailed route are being finalised. We will keep you posted.

The logistics of it are probably known to many, so we shall omit them from the above. Techrights strongly supports these actions and hopes that this long articles helps convince more people to attend without assisting Team Battisteli in retaliatory actions.
* There is also an update there regarding Mr. Van der Eijk, who was the subject of rumours and speculations.

The Spanish EPO Scandal – Part I

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

El Confidencial

Summary: How García-Escudero Marquez, the sister of a Spanish Senate speaker, got controversially appointed to succeed the (now) EPO’s Vice-President Alberto Casado Cerviño

THIS week we shall turn our attention to a potentially very interesting EPO story. In order to kick-start this series we must provide readers with some background, which means translating an article originally written in Spanish. It is, for the most part, self-explanatory. One just needs to know that Alberto Casado Cerviño is Vice-President of Directorate-General Operational Support at the EPO.

El Confidencial, 17.11.2011 – 06:00 H.

Industry [department] appoints Pío García Escudero’s sister before the application deadline ends

Ten days before the elections of 20 November, the director general of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office, Alberto Casado Cerviño, appoints Patricia García-Escudero


Ten days before the general elections of 20 November [2011], the director-general of the Spanish Office for Patents and Trade-Marks, Alberto Casado Cerniño, appointed Patricia García-Escudero Marquez, the sister of the speaker of the [Partido Popular] in the senate, to a civil service position at the highest level. The post attributed is the one of deputy director of the department of Judicial Coordination and International Relations. The seriousness of the matter is that the legal delay was not respected, and the beneficiary’s name appeared of the organisational chart of the entity even though the deadline for applications won’t expire until next Tuesday [22 November 2011].

The vacancy notice which led to García-Escudero’s appointment was published 1 November and provided 15 working days for filing applications. The appointment announcement of the new deputy director who will lead the communications department, dependent on the Presidential Support Unit, managing one of four departments of the Spanish Patents and Trademarks Office, occurred however last Thursday [10 November 2011].

The cat got out of the bag as the Sevach blog on public law, which explained how all positions with open selection are actually a “chronicle of a job award foretold”. The director of the public company [sic - they mean the SPTO] which is subordinated to the Department of Industry, Commerce and Tourism designated a person related to the [Partido Popular] precisely at the time when polls show [Partido Popular politician] Mariano Rajoy as the winner of the elections coming next Sunday [against the PSOE incumbent José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero].

In this specific case, the qualifications required to lead the Department of Judicial Coordination and International Relations required a superior command of English and French, but a degree in Law wasn’t deemed essential. Patricia García-Escudera holds a diploma in Biology from the Complutense University in Madrid. Furthermore, the call for applications demanded preferably experience in communications and marketing. Coincidentally, the sister of the [Partido Popular] speaker in the senate came from the public relations department of the [SPTO]. “Computer skills” are also demanded for this high-ranking position for which any civil servant can apply for, but without requiring any corresponding university diploma.

50,000 Euros gross salary per year plus productivity bonus

The position for which Casado Cerviño appointed García-Escudero comes with a specific allowance of 24,332 Euros to which should be added the A-category allowance (13,935 Euros plus 535 euros every three years) as well as the allowance for belonging to level 30, at the top of the scale (11,625 Euros). In addition to this gross annual salary received, a productivity bonus will be included, dependent on the specific personal contract. In many positions of the same category this can often exceed 1,000 Euros per month.

If this favour to the [Partido Popular] isn’t enough for Casado Cerviño to keep his directorial job in case of a change of government, his son Alberto Casado Fernándes will sit on 30 November the fourth selection examination for admission of qualified professionals at the autonomous bodies dependent on the entity where his father works.

Context will be provided in future parts of this series, so stay tuned and protect our right to free speech, e.g. by attending staff protests. It reminds us of the story of Bergot’s controversial appointment, which we covered earlier this month (see part one, part two, part three, and part four of “EPO: It’s Like a Family Business“).

“No government can love a child, and no policy can substitute for a family`s care.”

Hillary Clinton

Media Alert: IAM ‘Magazine’ Does Not Protect Sources

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Patents at 7:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An important discussion regarding the role of IAM (Intellectual Asset Management) in the debate about EPO abuses

TWO days ago we wrote two articles which mentioned how IAM had put at risk a source, despite repeatedly being asked not to do so. It didn’t exactly shock us because we generally view IAM as a pro-patent Establishment (USPTO, EPO management, software patents, large corporations) site. Sharing evidence with them is unwise. There was an article earlier this month (from AOL) titled “Innovating In A World Of Patent Lawsuits”; well, in the view of the likes of IAM, it’s all about “Profiting In A World Of Patent Lawsuits”. The more, the merrier. That’s how they make money.

Why do we write this article? It’s just a word of warning to anyone who deems IAM trustworthy. The EPO is now spending of nearly a million dollars on the media. IAM writers already have a history of receiving money from the EPO, by their own admission.

“It’s just a word of warning to anyone who deems IAM trustworthy.”We already saw IAM relaying EPO management’s talking points. That was a month and a half ago, only two weeks after the EPO had passed around the contract involving the million-dollar contract. The article that IAM published at the time was basically a sort of EPO ‘damage control’, replying to my allegations about preferential treatment of selected large corporations. That was very shortly before the EPO sent me nastygrams — something which IAM dropped hints of (days before it actually happened). The EPO spokesperson said something which only served to insinuate “defamation”. Remember that what I wrote at the time wasn’t inaccurate, it was just strongly-worded. This whole EPO program was created for Microsoft because of Microsoft (EPO effectively, on the balance of probabilities, changed its rules in exchange for Microsoft paying a lot more money in the form of patent applications).

I asked someone in the legal community if IAM was likely doing all of this internationally or even maliciously. “Although you may be right,” I was told, “I’d be personally a little surprised if IAM betrayed a confidential source; Joff Wild is no lover of TechRights, which is a matter of common knowledge…”

Regarding evidence that we shared with IAM (potentially but not necessarily including details about a source), we made some further inquiries as well. We were asked: “Can you be sure that IAM has not received the original documents via another source?”

“It effectively served material to Team Battistelli, on a silver platter, by publishing what I repeatedly told them must not be published.”The item that the EPO was bullying me (with legal threats) over was definitely not provided by another source. I can’t tell for sure if IAM was acting as some kind of courier for the EPO’s management here, but it’s not impossible. It effectively served material to Team Battistelli, on a silver platter, by publishing what I repeatedly told them must not be published.

For those who wonder what this was all about, the gist of the blog post in dispute is as follows:

  • Microsoft uses patent extortion — or racketeering as per RICO Act — to coerce companies (at least 4 companies so far this year) into Microsoft’s Linux-hostile agenda. There are threats of litigation or actual litigation at hand (with conditional settlement) to achieve this. It’s a subject Techrights has been covering extensively since 2006.
  • Microsoft pressured the EPO into the whole preferential treatment farce. We know this for sure.
  • An EPO employee is shown in his (leaked) E-mail pressuring those below him to concentrate on granting patents to Microsoft (before all others), thereby helping Microsoft against European companies like TomTom (see the 2009 lawsuit and ‘settlement’).
  • This EPO employee has been publicly promoting the UPC, despite his job being the granting of worthy patent monopolies (proper, thorough prior art search, never too rushed), not setting or lobbying on matters of law.

That’s all stuff that we can support with concrete evidence, hence I stand by what I said. They just caught me off guard at (almost) midnight on a Friday. My solicitor’s response explains why that’s an act of trickery.

It will be interesting to see if IAM has something to say on this matter. Judging by the many tweets they sent our way yesterday, they still don’t have a very effective rebuttal.

Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen on the Microsoft-Red Hat Deal

Posted in FSF, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 6:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen
Photo source: Professor Conrad Johnson

Summary: Founder of Free software and author of the GPL (respectively) comment on what Microsoft and Red Hat have done regarding patents

WE FINALLY GOT some feedback regarding the baffling patent agreement which seemingly affects every user of GNU/Linux. We got this feedback from Stallman and (indirectly) Moglen, two of the Free software world’s most prominent individuals, especially when it comes to the GPL (GNU Public Licence/License).

Coverage of the Red Hat-Microsoft patent agreement can be found in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. We sought feedback from Red Hat and spoke to low(er) level people for weeks, without ever hearing back from high-level management. After weeks of trying and waiting we ended up asking legal professionals to examine whatever legal contracts — even if under NDA or some other secrecy clauses that legally-binding deals may have — were involved. We first wrote to the FSF as follows:

Dear FSF licensing folks,

As discussed earlier in IRC (freenode), I have been pursuing answers from Red Hat regarding an urgent matter. I previously interviewed their CEO regarding patents and last week I spoke to a fairly senior person from Red Hat (unnamed for his own protection), for the third time this month. I wrote about 10 articles on this subject and it led to others writing about it as well, including some prominent bloggers.

“We need to understand what Red Hat agreed on with Microsoft on as Microsoft can use this behind closed doors against other companies, for pressure/leverage.”To put it concisely, Red Hat signed a deal with Microsoft which not only involved technical work but also what they call patent “standstill”. Who is this “standstill” for? Apparently Red Hat and its customers. I strongly doubt, especially in light of Alice v. CLS Bank, that a “standstill” should be needed. Red Hat does not threaten to sue Microsoft, whereas Microsoft did in the past threaten Red Hat (even publicly). This leaves those outside Red Hat in an awkward position and ever since this deal I have taken note of at least two companies being coerced by Microsoft using patents (over “Android” or “Linux” [sic]) or sued by one of its patent trolls, e.g. Intellectual Ventures. This isn’t really a “standstill”. It’s more like the notorious “peace of mind” that Novell was after back in 2006.

Red Hat has also admitted to me that it is still pursuing some software patents in the USPTO — a fact that does not surprising me, especially given the soaring market cap of RHT and the growing budget. This serves to contradict what people like Rob Tiller say to the courts; it shows double standards and no principled lead by example.

“The analysis and the voice of the FSF may be needed at this stage.”I have asked the FSF’s Joshua if it had looked into the patent agreement between Red Hat and Microsoft. Their lawyers in this case, Mr. Piana and Mr. Tiller (probably amongst others whom we don’t know about yet), would probably claim and even insist that it’s GPL-compatible, but the wording in the FAQ make it look exclusionary and there’s no transparency, so one cannot verify these claims.

We need to understand what Red Hat agreed on with Microsoft on as Microsoft can use this behind closed doors against other companies, for pressure/leverage. I am genuinely worried and fellow journalists who focus on GNU/Linux (Sean Michael Kerner for instance) tell me that they are too.

The analysis and the voice of the FSF may be needed at this stage. I have politely urged Red Hat for a number of weeks to become more transparent, whereupon some in the company said they had escalated these requests, but evidently nothing is being done, hence I feel the need to turn to the FSF.

I would gladly provide additional information that I have upon request.

With kind regards,

“In concrete terms,” Stallman responded, “what did they agree to do?”

“It is effectively a technical collaboration,” I told him, “which also involves a ceasefire regarding patents.”

“It is impossible to discuss whether it is good or bad,” he said, “until we know what it is.”

“We know too little about the patent aspects,” I explained.

Referring to Red Hat’s FAQ, Stallman said that I “seem[ed] to be talking about text I [Stallman] have not seen.”

To quote the relevant part for readers:

4. Does the new partnership address patents?

Red Hat and Microsoft have agreed to a limited patent arrangement in connection with the commercial partnership for the benefit of mutual customers.

The heart of the arrangement is a patent standstill that provides that neither company will pursue a patent lawsuit or claim against the other or its customers, while we are partnering. Neither company acknowledged the validity or enforceability of the other’s intellectual property; it is not a patent license or a covenant not to sue and no payment was made or will be made for intellectual property.

The partnership is between commercial companies related to their common customer offerings, spurred by customer demand. Both parties carefully designed for FOSS licensing compliance in building the arrangement and each party’s relationship to the FOSS community stands on its own.

“Covering only customers and not downstream users,” Stallman said, “it is not a good thing, but it may not do a lot of harm.”

“Covering only customers and not downstream users is not a good thing, but it may not do a lot of harm.”
      –Richard Stallman
I responded by saying “I hope that a thorough look into it will help remove uncertainty and get some hard answers. Right now it’s too vague or me and some fellow developers to conclude anything from.”

Days ago I asked whether “there been any progress on this case” because “I just want[ed] to be sure that licensing is looking for answers regarding the matter.”

Stallman, by that stage, seemed to have already spoken to a colleague and friend. “Eben Moglen,” he explained, “told me it doesn’t violate GPLv3. Other than getting that information, I don’t know what progress we could hope for.”

Well, as GPLv3 co-authors, their take on this sure counts. We therefore got an answer without taking a look at the contract itself (they had made access to it highly privileged information).

Assuming the case won’t go any further than this, we believe it helps set the record straight on the Microsoft-Red Hat situation.

Links 30/11/2015: Linux 4.4 RC3, Zaragoza Moving to FOSS

Posted in News Roundup at 6:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Historians and detectives keep track of data with open source tool

    Segrada is a piece of open source software that allows historians (and detectives) to keep track of their data. Unlike wikis or archival databases, its focus lies on information and interrelations within it. Pieces of information might represent persons, places, things, or concepts. These “nodes” can be bidirectionally connected with each other to semantically represent friendship, blood relation, whereabouts, authorship, and so on. Hence the term “semantic graph database,” since information can be displayed as a graph of semantically connected nodes.

  • 5 open-source alternatives to Slack

    Here are five full-featured Slack alternatives — tools that go beyond IRC, in other words — that are open-source software, which means you can download it and run it on whatever server you want. That implies that you’re in charge of security, for better or worse, instead of, say, Slack.

  • KTU exams to run on open source software

    All examinations of the A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technological University (KTU) — which run on an online platform — would switch to open source software from the second semester onwards. For the first semester examinations, the KTU would use a proprietary, Microsoft, software.

    In response to demands from student organisations, the KTU has pushed back its first semester examinations by two days. The first of the examinations would now begin on December 4 instead of December 2. The first of the results would be published on December 19.

  • KTU goes ahead with exam outsourcing
  • What is hacker culture?

    Eric Raymond, author of The Cathedral and the Bazaar (an important work describing the effectiveness of open collaboration and development), recently wrote a piece calling for “Social Justice Warriors” to be ejected from the hacker community. The primary thrust of his argument is that by calling for a removal of the “cult of meritocracy”, these SJWs are attacking the central aspect of hacker culture – that the quality of code is all that matters.

  • #HROS project: putting the open source into HR

    The #HROS project was launched in back in May of 2015 to bring the worlds of human resources (HR) and open source (OS) together, hence the name: HROS.

  • 3 reasons open source needs Open Badges

    The Fedora Badges system, which is interoperable with Mozilla’s Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI), lists more than 17,000 contributors who have been issued digital badges. And, at the top of the leaderboard is Kevin, who has been issued 142 badges—less than half of the overall number of badges available! Those badges Kevin has achieved are a mix of Content, Development, Community, Quality, and Event badges, with some easier, and some harder, to obtain.

  • Will Open Source HR Make Life Easier For Companies?
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • IceCat 38.4.0 release

        GNUzilla is the GNU version of the Mozilla suite, and GNU IceCat is the GNU version of the Firefox browser. Its main advantage is an ethical one: it is entirely free software. While the Firefox source code from the Mozilla project is free software, they distribute and recommend non-free software as plug-ins and addons. Also their trademark license restricts distribution in several ways incompatible with freedom 0. https://www.gnu.org/software/gnuzilla/

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Telefonica, Huawei Team on OpenStack-based Cloud Initiative

      Huawei has a new deal with giant Spanish telecom company Telefonica through which the two firms will work on helping enterprises move infrastructure onto Telefonica’s OpenStack-based cloud. It’s yet another indicaton of the global phenomenon that OpenStack has become.

  • CMS

  • Healthcare

    • How I ended up working in open source healthcare

      I am prepared and excited to take on that challenge, and to make sure my chosen FOSS project, with the wind of open source as a dominate model in the world to drive us, tries to change the world of healthcare IT for the better.

      Viva la FOSS!

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • A few thoughts on OpenBSD 5.8

      I’ve been using OpenBSD since way back at release 2.3 in 1998, so I’ve gone through upgrades that took a fair amount of work due to incompatible changes, like the switch from ipf to pf for host firewalling or the change to ELF binaries. The upgrade from 5.7 to 5.8 was a pretty smooth and easy one, for the most part. The two most painful changes for me were the replacement of sudo with doas and the dropping of support in the rc.conf for the pf_rules variable. While sudo is still available as a package, I like the idea of reducing attack surface with a simpler program, so I made the switch. The two things I miss most about sudo are the ability to authenticate for a period of time and the ability to have a single config file across a whole set of servers. The former I’m just living with, the latter I’ve adjusted to by having a single config file that has lines commented out depending on which server it’s on. I did have one moment of concern about the quality of doas when it incorrectly reported the line number on which I had a syntax error in the config file–fortunately, this was just a failure to increment the line count on continuation lines (ending with a “\”) which is fixed in the -current release.


    • GIMP 2.10 Development Started, Will Bring GEGL-Based Tools, OpenEXR Support

      After turning 20 years of activity, the GIMP developers have been happy to announce that the development cycle of the upcoming GIMP 2.10 open-source and cross-platform image editor software has started with the immediate availability of GIMP 2.9.2.

    • GCC 5.2 vs. GCC 6.0 On An Intel Haswell-E Linux System

      With GCC 6 feature development now over I decided to run some benchmarks comparing GCC 5.2.0 against GCC 6.0.0 (the 20151124 snapshot) on an Intel Haswell-E Xeon system running Ubuntu.

    • GIMP 2.9.2 Released With GEGL Technical Preview

      Days after celebrating the project’s 20th birthday, GIMP 2.9.2 has been released as the latest development snapshot towards the GIMP 2.10 image editor.

    • Do You Like What I Do For a Living?

      But software freedom is not merely an ideology for me. I believe the ideology matters because I see the lives of developers and users are better when they have software freedom. I first got a taste of this IRL when I attended the earliest Perl conferences in the late 1990s. My friend James and I stayed in dive motels and even slept in a rental car one night to be able to attend. There was excitement in the Perl community (my first Free Software community). I was exhilarated to meet in person the people I’d seen only as god-like hackers posting on perl5-porters. James was so excited he asked me to take a picture of him jumping as high as he could with his fist in the air in front of the main conference banner. At the time, I complained; I was mortified and felt like a tourist taking that picture. But looking back, I remember that James and I felt that same excitement and just were expressing it differently.

    • FixedMisc [MirOS] for GNU GRUB2
    • The GNU General Public License is not magic pixie dust
    • Software Freedom Conservancy

      Some projects receive support from or are managed by companies or trade associations that benefit from the software the community produces. That is great as long as the community objectives and the company profit motives are aligned. Free Software is a great way for companies to work together. The services that the Conservancy provides allows projects to define their own terms and conditions for the community to work together. And companies can then join on equal terms. Making sure the project and community will work together for the public benefit.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Zaragoza continues its transition to open source

      The Spanish city of Zaragoza continues to expand its use of free and open source software. The city administration now has 1200 of its 3000 PCs running the AZLinux desktop, which is based on Ubuntu Linux. On all workstations, LibreOffice is the default office suite, and the city by default uses the Open Document Format ODF.

    • What’s behind Europe’s love affair with open-source?

      Government IT departments in Europe, over the past several years, have been eager to trumpet their interest in open-source software – and have been backing their interest up with action. Open-source has become a matter of national policy in the U.K., a critical part of the infrastructure at the European Commission, and the standard for the city of Munich.

    • Portugal offers IT training to government workers

      Portugal’s Agency for Administrative Modernisation (AMA) is offering IT training that is open to all public administration staff members. The courses are intended to help modernise public administrations and to speed up the introduction of eGovernment services.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • 3 Open Source Alternatives to Using the Google Maps API

        The rise of data mining, mobile applications and social media, among many others, has dramatically changed the face of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and what they can accomplish. This has led to the creation of tools suited to various use cases. The most obvious place to begin when thinking about GIS is the web maps available through the Google Maps API.

  • Programming

    • GCC Working On ARMv8.1, Clang Working On ARMv8.2 Support

      ARM’s Matthew Wahab posted the new patch series yesterday, “ARMv8.1 includes an extension to ARM which adds two Adv.SIMD instructions, vqrdmlah and vqrdmlsh. This patch set adds support for ARMv8.1 and for the new instructions, enabling the architecture with –march=armv8.1-a. The new instructions are enabled when both ARMv8.1 and a suitable fpu options are set, for instance with -march=armv8.1-a -mfpu=neon-fp-armv8 -mfloat-abi=hard.”

    • Forum PHP in Paris 2015

      First, a huge thanks to AFUP for the organization of this great event, as always, reception was beyond reproach.

    • PHP version 5.6.16

      RPM of PHP version 5.6.16 are available in remi repository for Fedora ≥ 21 and remi-php56 repository for Fedora ≤ 20 and Enterprise Linux (RHEL, CentOS).


  • Hardware

  • Security

    • Friday’s security updates
    • Researchers poke hole in custom crypto built for Amazon Web Services

      Underscoring just how hard it is to design secure cryptographic software, academic researchers recently uncovered a potentially serious weakness in an early version of the code library protecting Amazon Web Services.

      Ironically, s2n, as Amazon’s transport layer security implementation is called, was intended to be a simpler, more secure way to encrypt and authenticate Web sessions. Where the OpenSSL library requires more than 70,000 lines of code to execute the highly complex TLS standard, s2n—short for signal to noise—has just 6,000 lines. Amazon hailed the brevity as a key security feature when unveiling s2n in June. What’s more, Amazon said the new code had already passed three external security evaluations and penetration tests.

    • Social engineering: hacker tricks that make recipients click

      Social engineering is one of the most powerful tools in the hacker’s arsenal and it generally plays a part in most of the major security breaches we hear about today. However, there is a common misconception around the role social engineering plays in attacks.

    • Judge Gives Preliminary Approval to $8 Million Settlement Over Sony Hack

      Sony agreed to reimburse employees up to $10,000 apiece for identity-theft losses

    • Cyber Monday: it’s the most wonderful time of year for cyber-attackers

      Malicious attacks on shoppers increased 40% on Cyber Monday in 2013 and 2014, according to EnigmaSoftware.com, an anti-malware and spyware company, compared to the average number of attacks on days during the month prior. Other cybersecurity software providers have identified the December holiday shopping season as the most dangerous time of year to make online purchases.

      “The attackers know that there are more people online, so there will be more attacks,” said Christopher Budd, Trend Micro’s global threat communications manager. “Cyber Monday is not a one-day thing, it’s the beginning of a sustained focus on attacks that go after people in the holiday shopping season.”

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • UK could be prosecuted for war crimes over missiles sold to Saudi Arabia that were used to kill civilians in Yemen

      Britain is at risk of being prosecuted for war crimes because of growing evidence that missiles sold to Saudi Arabia have been used against civilian targets in Yemen’s brutal civil war, Foreign Office lawyers and diplomats have warned.

      Advisers to Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, have stepped up legal warnings that the sale of specialist missiles to the Saudis, deployed throughout nine months of almost daily bombing raids in west Yemen against Houthi rebels, may breach international humanitarian law.

    • Stop The War: Thousands Protest Against Plans To Join Air Strikes Against Islamic State In Syria
    • The Charge of the Blairite Brigade

      Supporting neo-con military attacks in the Middle East is one of two prime articles of faith of a Blairite.

    • Terror Junkies: The West’s Addiction to Funding Radical Groups

      Despite all the grandstanding and rhetoric from the French President and Western leaders, a critical point that needs to be emphasised is that Western governments are complicit in the Paris attacks and any future terror attacks (there will be more). If we put aside for a second the thesis that the Paris attack was a false flag operation or that French intelligence simply allowed it to happen, what can’t be disputed is that Western foreign policy has directly resulted in the rise of terrorism globally, most notably the rise of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.

    • ISIS’ Grip on Libyan City Gives It a Fallback Option

      One manifestation of the shift is a turn toward large-scale terrorist attacks against distant targets, including the massacre in Paris and the bombing of a Russian charter jet over Egypt, Western intelligence officials say. But the group’s leaders are also devoting new resources and attention to far-flung affiliate groups that pledged their loyalty from places like Egypt, Afghanistan, Nigeria and elsewhere. There are at least eight in all, according to Western officials.

    • David Cameron, there aren’t 70,000 moderate fighters in Syria – and whoever heard of a moderate with a Kalashnikov, anyway?

      Not since Hitler ordered General Walther Wenck to send his non-existent 12th Army to rescue him from the Red Army in Berlin has a European leader believed in military fantasies as PR Dave Cameron did last week. Telling the House of Commons about the 70,000 “moderate” fighters deployed in Syria was not just lying in the sense that Tony Blair lied – because Blair persuaded himself to believe in his own dishonesty – but something approaching burlesque. It was whimsy – ridiculous, comic, grotesque, ludicrous. It came close to a unique form of tragic pantomime.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Obama’s War on Truth

      The four USAF military drone operators who recently blew the whistle and exposed the callousness and complete lack of concern for civilian casualties of the US drone assassination programme, (and received very little mainstream media exposure), yesterday found their bank accounts and credit cards all blocked by the US government. The effects of that on daily life are devastating. My source is their lawyer, Jesselyn Radack, through the Sam Adams Associates (of which we are both members).

      No criminal charges have been brought against any of the men, despite numerous written threats of prosecution. Their finances appear to have been frozen by executive action under anti-terrorist legislation. This is yet a further glaring example of the use of “anti-terror” powers against people who are not remotely terrorist.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Beijing residents told to stay inside as smog levels soar

      Beijing’s residents have been advised to stay indoors after air pollution in the Chinese capital reached hazardous levels.

      The warning comes as the governments of more than 190 nations gather in Paris to discuss a possible new global agreement on climate change.

    • EU-US trade deal will unleash oil sands and fatally undermine climate efforts

      The prospects for a meaningful agreement at the UN climate change talks beginning on Monday are bleak. As a result, so too are the prospects for the 100 million more people predicted to be living in poverty by 2030 as a result of global warming.

      Though framed by record high temperatures and an increasing number of extreme weather events, the Paris talks are already beset by the same problems that repeatedly dog climate change negotiations: the richest countries steadfastly refuse to meet legal commitments and shoulder their share of responsibility, preferring to uphold the desires of all-powerful corporate lobbies. Meanwhile, the poorest countries meet or exceed their responsibilities.

    • Ban On Tuna Labeled Dolphin-Safe Shows How TPP Will Crush Consumer Rights

      In the last 25 years, dolphin-safe labeling of tuna managed to reduce unnecessary annual deaths of the mammals from over 100,000 to only 3,000—an astounding 97% reduction—but the World Trade Organization just effectively nullified this critical program.

      In order to placate Mexico as a member nation of the upcoming (and seemingly inevitable) Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the WTO deemed dolphin-safe labeling a “technical barrier to trade”—even though that environmentally-conscious label is voluntary and applies equally to domestic and foreign companies. At issue are fishing methods that exploit the as-yet-unexplained symbiotic relationship between tunas and dolphins.

    • Paris climate activists put under house arrest using emergency laws

      At least 24 climate activists have been put under house arrest by French police, accused of flouting a ban on organising protests during next week’s Paris climate summit, the Guardian has learned.

      One legal adviser to the activists said many officers raided his Paris apartment and occupied three floors and a staircase in his block.

      French authorities did not respond to requests for comment but lawyers said that the warrants were issued under state of emergency laws, imposed after the terror attacks that killed 130 people earlier this month.

    • Prominent climate scientist offers scathing critique of Obama’s Paris plans

      Three days before the beginning of a critical international climate conference in Paris, one of the world’s most famous climate scientists, James Hansen, has written a withering criticism of President Obama’s approach.

      The Paris meeting will be attended by the heads of state of more than 130 countries, including Obama. Heading in, the United States has adopted a policy of calling for each country to set limits on carbon dioxide emissions, and will push for the adoption of technology to capture and store carbon dioxide. That approach, Hansen wrote in a new letter posted on his web site, “is so gross, it is best described as unadulterated 100 percent pure bullshit.”

      In his “communication” published on Friday, Hansen argued that world leaders are eager to avoid the embarrassment of the last major climate meeting in Copenhagen in 2009, which was largely ineffectual. This time, world leaders will reach a deal, Hansen says, and pat themselves on the back. This deal will likely include pledges to cut emissions by 2025. For example, the United States is expected to aim for cuts of 25 percent based on 2005 carbon levels.

    • Suharto’s fires

      During the 1990s, the scale of the burning grew each year as the forestland converted into tree plantations in Sumatra and Kalimantan expanded. Plantation firms and the land-clearance contractors they hired almost exclusively use fire to clear land. Scientists assessing the forest fire damage say that approximately five million hectares of land were burned in 1997. Of this, 20 per cent was estimated to be forest, 50 per cent agricultural land, and 30 per cent non-forest vegetation and grasslands. Putting this in financial terms, scientists working for Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) Indonesia have calculated that the direct and indirect short-term impacts of 1997/1998 have exceeded US$ 4 billion, equivalent to total annual health spending by both the public and private sectors.

    • Indonesia is burning – but how responsible is the palm oil industry?

      Indonesia’s forests are being ravaged by forest and peatland fires that are sparking a public health and environmental crisis – but how responsible is the palm oil industry?

    • VW knew fuel usage in some cars was too high a year ago: report

      Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) top executives knew a year ago that some of the company’s cars were markedly less fuel efficient than had been officially stated, Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag reported, without specifying its sources.

      VW in early November revealed that it had understated the level of carbon dioxide emissions and fuel usage in around 800,000 cars sold mainly in Europe.

      The scandal, which will likely cost VW billions, initially centered on software on up to 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide that VW admitted was designed to artificially suppress nitrogen oxide emissions in a test setting.

      The Bild am Sonntag report contradicts VW’s assertion, however, that it only uncovered the false CO2 emissions labeling as part of efforts to clear up the diesel emissions scandal, which became public in September.

  • Finance

    • Saru Jayaraman on Outlawing the Tipped Minimum Wage

      This week on CounterSpin: While many folks go to family or friends for Thanksgiving dinner, somewhere around 15 million Americans have that holiday meal at a restaurant, with more millions ordering food to eat at home. What that means is that millions of restaurant workers don’t have a choice about where to have their Thanksgiving. And of course that’s only a small part of the things that make work in that industry difficult and, for many, precarious.

    • HSBC whistleblower given five years’ jail over biggest leak in banking history

      Hervé Falciani sentenced in his absence for financial espionage by federal court for exposing wrongdoing at HSBC’s private Swiss bank

    • TTIP talks: EU alleged to have given ExxonMobil access to confidential strategies

      The EU appears to have given the US oil company ExxonMobil access to confidential negotiating strategies considered too sensitive to be released to the European public during its negotiations with the US on the trade agreement TTIP, documents reveal.

      Officials also asked one oil refinery association for “concrete input” on the text of an energy chapter for the negotiations, as part of the EU’s bid to write unfettered imports of US crude oil and gas into the trade deal.

      The employers’ confederation BusinessEurope was even offered “contact points” with US negotiators in the State Department and Department of Energy, according to the cache of material which was released under access to documents laws.

    • SMEs want a TTIP rethink

      What would drive the boss of a Bavarian mechanical engineering company to launch a business initiative against TTIP? Martina Römmelt-Fella detailed her concerns about it to EurActiv Germany.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Pentagon Must Be Thankful for the Turkey Washington Post Gave Its Readers

      So here we have US claims that Russian airstrikes are killing civilians backed up by statistics from a presumably independent human rights group. Meanwhile, when the US government claims to killed almost no civilians in its air attacks, the Post just takes the Pentagon’s word for it.

    • Sex and Death

      Having been sat the last three hours in a lounge at Stansted, with a Sky News screen in front of me, it has been fascinating to watch them six times cover the Grant Shapps resignation and never mention the word sex. It was all apparently just about “office bullying.” There has also been some pontification about why, over Shapps and Coulson, Cameron is such a bad judge of people.

    • Dylann Roof Is Not a “Terrorist” — But Animal Rights Activists Who Free Minks From Slaughter Are

      The FBI on Friday announced the arrests in Oakland of two animal rights activists, Joseph Buddenberg and Nicole Kissane, and accused the pair of engaging in “domestic terrorism.” This comes less than a month after the FBI director said he does not consider Charleston Church murderer Dylann Roof a “terrorist.” The activists’ alleged crimes: “They released thousands of minks from farms around the country and vandalized various properties.” That’s it. Now they’re being prosecuted and explicitly vilified as “terrorists,” facing 10-year prison terms.

  • Censorship

    • Swedish court: ‘We cannot ban Pirate Bay’

      After considering the case for almost a month, the District Court of Stockholm ruled that copyright holders could not make Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget block Pirate Bay.

      The court found that Bredbandsbolaget’s operations do not amount to participation in the copyright infringement offences carried out by some of its ‘pirate’ subscribers.

      Pirate Bay is blocked by many European ISPs but anti-piracy outfits have always hoped that one day the notorious site would be restricted in Sweden.

    • Divya Dutta on Censorship: Director Has Every Right to Express
    • Censorship and Control

      Recent events in Punjab are consistent with the Indian government’s strategy of public silence and local repression.

    • Censorship in the age of social media irrelevant: Divya Dutta

      Actress Divya Dutta feels at a time when everything is easily available online, the relevance of censorship on films in the country is questionable.

      The 38-year-old “Bhaag Milkh Bhaag” actress says she agrees with filmmaker Shyam Benegal, who recently said that censorship should be abolished.

      Divya says the audience today is quite sorted and should have the right to choose what they want to watch.

    • Censor Board Chairman seeks Dr. D’s advice on censorship
    • Snipping the kissing scene in ‘Spectre’ was illogical: Emraan Hashmi

      Bollywood actor Emraan Hashmi has termed the censor board’s move to trim the length of kissing scene in the new James Bond film “Spectre” illogical and “going back to dark ages”.

    • Abolish censorship: Shyam Benegal

      Censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani has been criticised on social media as well as by his colleagues and Bollywood actors after it was revealed that board had shortened the length of kissing scenes in James Bond movie “Spectre”.

    • Can Myanmar leave censorship behind as it enters a new era?

      Following the landslide election result for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) earlier this month, Myanmar appears to be transforming from one of the world’s most repressive regimes to a relatively free country.

      But signs of regression towards old habits by the military over the past year, and their continued presence and power of veto in parliament even after the election result, the future for democratic freedoms – including freedom of expression – is far from guaranteed.

    • Censorship by satellite

      Kissing is also expunged, presumably on the assumption that lip-to-lip congress is a gateway behaviour that, if glimpsed even briefly, will inspire the innocent to fornicate in the streets like frenzied simians. Unobstructed cleavage is likewise a harbinger of civilisation’s demise.

    • Identity and Censorship: A Life of Doing Standup in China

      Speaking of which, we are living in one of the most censored countries. Have you personally, or the club you are part of, ever run into any censorship issues?

      Oh yes, of course. There was a whole series of shows that was banned because one joke was heard by, I don’t know, some censor from the government. But the joke was totally harmless. The thing is they never have a standard, like which line you can not cross. If they think you are not right, and then they can just ban you. Another time we were supposed to have an open mic and a couple of officials from the Cultural Bureau [Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture] said “OK you can have shows here, but we are going to censor you for the whole thing. If you guys are OK, then that will be OK. But if something happens we have to report it.” So we decided not to do the show.

    • China’s latest censorship battlefield is global beauty pageants

      The organizers of a Miss Earth beauty pageant have refused to allow its Taiwanese contestant on stage or to be photographed by the press, after she refused to wear a sash bearing “Chinese Taipei,” according to an online post written by the contestant.

    • Tech Firms and Users Partner Up for Censorship Dance

      At China File, Professor Hu Yong from Peking University’s School of Journalism and Communication looks at China’s censorship of personal media, emphasizing the rise of pre-publication censorship by new media platforms, which in turn encourages self-censorship by users.

    • Chinese Activist Sentenced to 6 Years for Protesting Censorship

      China has sentenced three human rights activists to harsh prison terms for participating in an anti-censorship protest in 2013.

      The attorney for the three, Zhang Lei, told VOA that he is “shocked and angered” by the verdict, which gave a sentence of six years to activist Guo Feixiong.

      Zhang said the court added an extra criminal charge to his client’s case just moments before Friday’s trial started.

    • China Jails Civil Rights Activist Guo Feixiong For 6 Years Over Censorship Protest

      China has jailed a leading civil rights activist for six years on charges of disturbing public order — in part for his role in protests against censorship at a popular liberal newspaper in Guangzhou. A court in southern Guangdong province on Friday passed the sentence on 48-year-old Guo Feixiong in a hearing off-limits to foreign media, his lawyer said. Two other activists were also jailed, in what human rights groups said was a sign of a deepening crackdown on civil liberties in China.

      Guo, a former university lecturer who has campaigned for greater freedoms in China for the past two decades, was detained after taking part in protests in January 2013 outside the offices of the Southern Weekly newspaper in Guangzhou. The protests were a response to the spiking of the paper’s New Year’s editorial, which had called for more thorough implementation of China’s constitution, including its promise of freedom of speech for all.

    • Chinese rights activist jailed for six years

      A prominent Chinese rights activist, Guo Feixiong, was sentenced to six years imprisonment on Friday by a court in southern China, amid a continuing crackdown on human rights advocates across the country, his lawyer said on Friday.

      Two other activists, Liu Yuandong and Sun Desheng, were sentenced to three years and two-and-a-half years respectively, according to Guo’s lawyer, Zhang Lei.

    • Protests in Turkey after reporters arrested for ‘spying’ over arms report

      Hundreds of people demonstrated in Turkey Friday in support of two journalists from a leading newspaper being held on spying charges over a report suggesting Ankara shipped arms to rebels in Syria.

      Over 1,000 demonstrators, including a number of journalists and opposition MPs, gathered outside the Istanbul offices of Cumhuriyet daily shouting slogans such as “Shoulder to shoulder against fascism,” and “Tayyip thief, Tayyip liar, Tayyip killer”, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    • Third Turkish journalist arrested amid fears of Ankara censorship: reports

      Local media has reported that a third Turkish reporter has been arrested, amid concern Ankara is cracking down on free speech. Yesterday, protesters took to the streets following the arrest of two other journalists.

    • District of North Vancouver harassment policy stokes fears of censorship

      The District of North Vancouver is looking to rein in “inappropriate, offensive, misleading, harassing or threatening” letters and emails sent to district staff and council members.

      The move however has some council watchers crying censorship.

    • Project Censored 2015

      Ten news items the media ignored

    • The Secret Censorship of Online Porn

      As long as credit cards are the dominant way to purchase items online, Visa and MasterCard will still hold this power over the smut peddlers of the world. So unless Bitcoin, or another relatively unregulated digital currency, happens to take off, banks will continue to have the power to silently shape the landscape of porn, enforcing their view of acceptable sex on the rest of us, whether we like it or not.

    • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Orders Censorship Of ‘Man In The High Castle’ Ads

      The advertisements for the show wrap seats on New York subways. They feature an American flag with a German eagle and iron cross in place of the stars. There is also a flag with imperial Japanese imagery. The crimes against humanity by the Nazis during World War II were so gruesome that it’s a pretty shocking thing to see upon entering a subway car and Democratic mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio fielded complaints. He called the advertising campaign “irresponsible” and “offensive” and called for their removal.

    • That Was a False Alarm on Millennials and Free Speech

      Last week, I wrote about a new Pew poll that showed that 40 percent of millennials would be in favor of government bans on speech offensive to minority groups. Many people took this as a dire sign that kids these days are Nae Nae–ing themselves straight into an authoritarian future, especially given all the recent talk about young people’s coddling and fragility.

    • Poll: Censorship More Popular Among Millennials

      Forty percent of millennials believe the U.S. government should be able to censor speech that is considered offensive to minority groups, a new poll from Pew Research Center finds.

      The Pew poll identified a notable disparity in opinion between millennials—those ages 18 to 34—and those surveyed from three other age groups.

      The poll found that 27 percent of Generation X, those ages 35 to 50, favor such government censorship, as did 24 percent of baby boomers, ages 51 to 69.

      By comparison, only 12 percent of the so-called Silent Generation, ages 70 to 87, agreed.

    • Filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami’s doors explore censorship at the Aga Khan Museum

      Exhibition highlights celebrated Iranian director’s approach to living and working under censorship.

    • New Zealand police accused of censorship

      The move has been roundly criticized by the country’s academic community and opposition politicians who say it amounts to censorship.

      A New Zealand police spokesman says that the contract was designed to protect the police and the data from misrepresentation by researchers who could potentially “misunderstand” the data they were analyzing.

      Police also justify the agreement by pointing out that requests often involve access to confidential information and personal identifiers.

      “The research agreement which academics are expected to sign with police sets out our expectations, including that research is accurate, balanced and constructive,” said Mark Evans, the police force’s Deputy Chief Executive of Strategy, in a statement.

    • Police censorship of crime research “an outrage”

      The Green Party is calling on Police Minister Michael Woodhouse to ensure Police scrap controversial contracts that place onerous restrictions on academic researchers’ access to Police data, the Green Party says.

    • NGOs condemn imprisonment and nationality revocation of photographer

      Award-winning photographer Sayed Ahmed al-Mousawi was sentenced on Monday, 23 November 2015, to 10 years in prison and had his nationality revoked, along with 12 others, after covering a series of demonstrations in early 2014. Security forces detained Al-Mousawi for over a year without trial or official charges, accused him of being a part of a terrorist cell and subjected him to torture. The undersigned NGOs condemn the government’s continued attacks on independent journalism, policy of media censorship and severe restrictions on freedom of expression in Bahrain.

    • TPP allows Internet censorship to favour big corporations, say Pakatan MPs

      PKR’s Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen and Parti Amanah Negara’s (Amanah) Kuala Krai MP Dr Hatta Ramli said that Internet service providers (ISP) would be given the role of “internet police” in the new trade pact when it comes to copyrighted content.

    • MP warns of widespread Internet censorship under TPPA

      The Internet could face widespread censorship under the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) as Internet service providers (ISPs) would be free to remove copyrighted online content without having to face the music, warned Amanah lawmaker Mohd Hatta Ramli.

  • Privacy

    • Huge Security Flaw Can Expose VPN Users’ Real IP-Adresses

      A newly discovered vulnerability can expose the real IP-addresses of VPN users with relative ease. The issue, which affects all VPN protocols and operating systems, was uncovered by Perfect Privacy who alerted several affected competitors to the threat before making it public.

    • [Enigmail] Recover GPG password remembered by Thunderbird (passphrase in session)

      For future people, here’s how you can recover your PGP key if stored in your GNOME session.

    • Updated: Green Light or No, Nest Cam Never Stops Running

      In-brief: Alphabet’s Nest Cam continues to run even after users have turned it “off,” the company acknowledged on Tuesday, raising questions about transparency and the potential for privacy abuses using the popular home surveillance device.

    • UK ISP boss points out massive technical flaws in Investigatory Powers Bill

      The head of the UK ISP Andrews & Arnold, Adrian Kennard, has pointed out a number of major technical issues with the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill (aka the Snooper’s Charter). Kennard and other representatives of the UK Internet Service Provider’s Association (ISPA) met with the Home Office on Tuesday, where they presented a number of ethical, technical, and privacy related issues with the incoming new law. These issues, plus some of the Home Office’s responses, can be found in written evidence (PDF) penned by Kennard.

    • NSA to shut down bulk phone surveillance program by Sunday

      The U.S. National Security Agency will end its daily vacuuming of millions of Americans’ phone records by Sunday and replace the practice with more tightly targeted surveillance methods, the Obama administration said on Friday.

      As required by law, the NSA will end its wide-ranging surveillance program by 11:59 p.m. EST Saturday (4:59 a.m. GMT Sunday) and expects to have the new, scaled-back system in place by then, the White House said.

    • Dear ZDNet: Comcast Has Been Sketchily Injecting Messages Into User’s Browsers For Years

      None of that is to say that the privacy and security concerns aren’t very real, of course, and ZDNet does a nice job of discussing those concerns. But it’s not new. Perhaps the better conversation to be had is why anyone in their right minds would think that Comcast deserves anyone’s trust to the level where users’ browsers should be injected with copyright violation notices in a system rife with abuse from pretty much every player involved.

    • Stop the anti-encryption propaganda now

      I paused a TV show last week as one of those lower-third ads promoting the local newscast was displayed. It screamed, “Encryption preventing police from catching criminals, more at 11.” There’s nothing subtle about that, I pointed out to my wife, nothing at all. Clearly, this “encryption” stuff is very dangerous and should be made illegal, right?

      Then the world was scarred by the attacks in Paris a few days later. Before any real news about the attacks made it to the mainstream media, we were already hearing how encryption was the reason these attacks succeeded. The New York Times posted a story to that effect, then pulled it and redirected the link to a completely different article about France’s retaliation. The Wayback Machine still has the original, which states, “The attackers are believed to have communicated using encryption technology.” This is the functional equivalent of stating, “The attackers are believed to have communicated using words or sounds.”

    • Never mind Internet Connection Records, what about Relevant Communications Data?

      It was always a good bet that the draft Investigatory Powers Bill would broaden data retention obligations to cover more categories of communications data. That was at the core of the Communications Data Bill, blocked in 2012 during the Coalition government and vowed after the May 2015 election to be resurrected.

      The draft Bill has duly delivered, accompanied by a blizzard of commentary about the propriety of forcing communications service providers to retain users’ browsing histories.


      Internet connection records and the proposed restrictions on accessing them (clause 47 of the draft Bill) have become a lightning rod for the ensuing discussion: not just the rights and wrongs of requiring browsing data to be retained, but whether internet connection records as defined in the draft Bill can be matched to real categories of data processed by service providers.

      The focus on internet connection records is understandable. The Home Office’s Guide to the powers in the draft Bill focuses on internet connection records. The estimated cost increase in the Data Retention Impact Assessment mentions only internet connection records as a new category of retained data.

    • The NSA’s bulk metadata collection authority just expired. What now?

      The language in the US Justice Department statement is far from inspiring, written in bland legalese, but it still represents an important victory for the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    • At 11:59pm tonight, the NSA will stop in-house phone metadata collection

      The Obama administration said on Friday that it would go ahead with the scheduled closure of the National Security Agency’s bulk phone records collection program. The USA Freedom Act, which passed in early June, outlined this weekend’s deadline.

    • NSA will stop collecting bulk phone data by the end of the day

      At 11:59PM ET tonight, the NSA will shut down its systems that collect bulk phone call data from Americans across the US. The move comes as planned, precisely six months after the USA Freedom Act was signed into law.

    • NSA ends bulk phone surveillance programme; replaces it with targeted monitoring
    • The NSA Will Finally Kill Its Metadata Snooping Program This Weekend
    • “Snowden Effect” in Action: NSA Authority to Collect Bulk Phone Metadata Expires
    • The NSA Says It Will Finally Stop Spying On Millions of Americans at Midnight on Saturday
    • At midnight, the NSA will no longer keep bulk records of telephone calls
    • NSA to shut down bulk phone surveillance program =
    • Ex-NSA chief pleads guilty to killing 3-year-old adopted S. Korean son
    • Former NSA division head pleads guilty to beating adopted special-needs son, 3, to death at his Maryland home
    • Former NSA Employee Pleads Guilty in Adopted Son’s Death
    • Former NSA analyst pleads guilty to beating adopted son to death
    • Can the EU beat Big Data and the NSA? An Overview of the Max Schrems saga
    • Federal Judge Rules Against NSA Telephone Surveillance Program
    • Spy court appoints new advisers under NSA reform law
    • US spy court appoints lawyers to panel of advisers
    • NSA bungling deserves scrutiny

      But instead of being rewarded for developing a cutting-edge electronic spy system on the cheap, Binney and his crew were bureaucratically sandbagged by then-NSA Director Michael Hayden and his signals intelligence director, Maureen Baginsky.

      THINTHREAD’S deployment was officially canceled by Baginsky three weeks before the 9/11 attacks. Baginsky instead put American taxpayer money into a far more expensive, and ultimately failed, program named TRAILBLAZER.

    • Could the Third Amendment be used to fight the surveillance state?

      The Third Amendment to the United States Constitution is just 32 words: “No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

      Amongst very nerdy constitutional law circles, the Third Amendment is practically a joke. It’s never been the primary basis of a Supreme Court decision, and it only turns up rarely in legal cases. The reality is that the federal government isn’t going to be sending American soldiers to individual homes anytime soon. Even The Onion tackled the issue in 2007: “Third Amendment Rights Group Celebrates Another Successful Year.”

    • John McAfee: The NSA is running on ‘sheer luck’ — and that’s a travesty

      This past week, a report came out that suggests “sheer luck” was one of the elements an NSA program needed to find useful info in the sea of surveillance data. The info came from an NSA in-house newsletter leaked by Edward Snowden, called SIDtoday. Dated March 23, 2011, it was written by a signals development analyst within the operation. In it, the author says that “by sheer luck, (and a ton of hard work) I discovered an important new access to an existing target and am working with TAO to leverage a new mission capability.” TAO stands for Tailored Access Operations, through which the NSA hacking team had collected 900 usernames and passcodes. The target in question was reportedly PDVSA, a Venezuelan state oil company also known as Petróleos de Venezuela.

    • NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company

      The U.S. National Security Agency accessed the internal communications of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela and acquired sensitive data it planned to exploit in order to spy on the company’s top officials, according to a highly classified NSA document that reveals the operation was carried out in concert with the U.S. embassy in Caracas.

      The March 2011 document, labeled, “top secret,” and provided by former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden, is being reported on in an exclusive partnership between teleSUR and The Intercept.

    • Venezuela’s State Oil Company to Sue US Over Spying
    • Venezuela Could Pursue Legal Action against US over PDVSA Spying Scandal
    • Venezuela’s Oil Sector Condemns U.S. Espionage
    • NSA shuttered bulk email program in 2011, replaced with similar initiatives

      By the time the National Security Agency (NSA) nixed its email surveillance program in December 2011, other surveillance initiatives that could “satisfy certain foreign intelligence requirements” had taken its place, according to a report in The New York Times.

      The Times caught wind of the alternative programs after obtaining documents through a Freedom of Information Act request. Included in the documents are inspector general reports that say the NSA ended the email program because it could meet requirements through other efforts—three other reasons for the program’s demise were redacted. The Times report said while the agency no longer conducts the bulk collection data from telecom companies, under the replacement initiatives the NSA still analyzes the social links found in email patterns.

    • BND and Merkel enabled NSA to Spy on German and French Companies

      It is difficult to believe that Chancellor Angela Merkel believes her own words because sprouting the international terrorist card and national security, in relation to spying on France, EU targets, and German companies, appears absurd. Indeed, her comments about the role of German intelligence (BND) assisting a non-European Union entity, is truly untrustworthy and irresponsible. After all, why was the BND assisting the US National Security Agency (NSA) in spying on German companies and nations like France?

    • NSA Leaker Thomas Drake Praises Report Showing U.S.’ Failure Toward Whistleblowers

      Whistleblower Thomas Drake, who in 2010 became the first American charged with espionage in almost 40 years and who was a predecessor of Edward Snowden, applauds a new report by the PEN American Center accusing the government of failing to protect whistleblowers.

      The report comes after presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said at last month’s Democratic debate that NSA whistleblower Snowden “could have gotten all the protections of being a whistleblower” instead of leaking materials to the press. PEN’s report shows that Clinton is wrong and that the U.S. government gives employees and contractors little assurance that they won’t be prosecuted, even if they go through sanctioned channels.

    • Oakland Tribune editorial: Electronic snooping by NSA won’t stop ISIS

      It’s increasingly clear since the Paris terrorist attacks that the future of Americans’ privacy is largely in Silicon Valley’s hands.

      Valley leaders such as Apple’s Tim Cook, and Alphabet/Google’s Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Sundar Pichai are going to need the technology community’s full support to ward off political pressure from the FBI and NSA, who want government access to encrypted data on mobile devices.

      The United States needs to aggressively pursue terrorists. But it must not allow emotions of the moment to result in an ill-conceived security policy undermining not only Americans’ privacy but also the success of the nation’s driving industry.

    • Paris terrorist attacks no excuse to roll back civil liberties

      And never mind that the Paris terrorists don’t appear to have relied upon encrypted messages, despite some misleading early reports.

    • Choice between security and liberty a false one

      As our opinion leaders, lawmakers and intelligence community officials reflect on the events leading up to these terrible attacks, and what the appropriate response should be to better detect and thwart terrorist plots in the United States and throughout the world, it is critical that we first step back and take a deep breath.

    • Rolling back mass surveillance

      Under Schneier’s proposed policy, companies could not take away your rights to your data without your explicit permission…

    • Moving Microsoft’s Data Overseas May Not Keep NSA Out

      Earlier this month Microsoft announced the building and expansion of data storage facilities in Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom after an EU court invalidated a key U.S.-EU data transfer agreement in October — a response to mass National Security Agency surveillance programs revealed in the last two years.

      While the move represents the first time a major U.S tech company has admitted it can’t protect user data inside U.S. borders, the question of whether it will allow Microsoft to skirt the U.S. government’s ability to obtain user data is still very much in the air.

      “In terms of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), whether giving the data over to another company would avoid whatever legal obligations they’re under here is a very fact-specific question,” American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney Alex Abdo told InsideSources. “I’m sure that the federal government would argue that so long as Microsoft has effective control over the data, they could still be subpoenaed for it or they could still be ordered or compelled to turn it over.”

      Microsoft has been fighting such a battle with the Justice Department since last year, when the government ordered the Silicon Valley giant to turn over user emails stored in a Microsoft data center in Dublin, Ireland as part of an FBI drug trafficking investigation.

    • Judge Grants Injuction Against NSA Bulk Surveillance Program That Is Ending Anyway

      On June 5, 2013, the Guardian published a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) order from the National Security Agency directing Verizon Business Network Services to provide daily records for a three month period of the “telephony metadata” for all telephone calls on its network. The order was part of thousands of documents stolen by Snowden while employed by a NSA contractor. In the months that followed, the government acknowledged it had been receiving this kind of data since at least 2006.

    • When the spooks get it wrong [Ed: even when they bomb hospital, gun down survivors]

      Washington is awash in intelligence agencies, some of civilians and others of the military services, 17 by one count, and a lot of what they produce is gobbledygook. Like all bureaucracies, the intelligence agencies want to protect their turf first, and writing in words (many coined on the spot) that only a small audience can understand is a way of protecting the turf.

    • The next interface moment in computing could be chip implants

      The next big thing in computing could be a glass-encased chip embedded under the skin of your left hand.

      Think of it as an extension of the wearables that can track your movement, your sleep, your heart and pulse rate now. Chip implants can do so much more.

      In its early stages today, it can store data that can be read by Near Field Communication (NFC) readers. Technically speaking you can open your door, your car just by scanning your hand in the NFC reader. It can serve as your key or access pass to the gym, the library, the office, or wherever is it that requires identification.

    • Paris attacks a wake-up call for US intelligence?

      For example, the Islamic State was using encrypted apps and websites before the NSA’s surveillance operations were uncovered, John Chase, a cybersecurity specialist who has worked with the hacking group Anonymous, told The Washington Times Friday.

    • Israël obtains the release of the spy Jonathan Pollard

      He is said to have transmitted to the Mossad an impressive quantity of US documents, sometimes concerning the Near East, but particularly concerning the surveillance methods used by the US to spy on the Soviet Union. Tel-Aviv later sold some of these documents to Moscow, particularly NSA codes, in exchange for the immigration of a million Soviet citizens who claimed to be Jewish.

    • When Top Feds Cash In, They Lead by Example

      Alexander’s IronNet has stirred allegations that he is profiting from the privileges of his former government post. Fueling the controversy was IronNet’s prospective collaboration with NSA’s Chief Technology Officer, a deal IronNet ultimately scuttled after it came to light last fall. While eyes are on the top brass, little attention has been paid to IronNet’s recruitment of young engineers, an issue that acutely plagued the NSA during Alexander’s tenure.

    • Where’s the Evidence That Mass Surveillance Actually Works?

      Current and former government officials have been pointing to the terror attacks in Paris as justification for mass surveillance programs. Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan accused privacy advocates of “hand-wringing” that has made “our ability collectively internationally to find these terrorists much more challenging.” Former National Security Agency and CIA director Michael Hayden said, “In the wake of Paris, a big stack of metadata doesn’t seem to be the scariest thing in the room.”

      Ultimately, it’s impossible to know just how successful sweeping surveillance has been, since much of the work is secret. But what has been disclosed so far suggests the programs have been of limited value. Here’s a round-up of what we know.

  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Your ISP Limit Bandwidth? Here Is What You Can Do To Improve Internet Speed

      It is very annoying when our fast Internet connection goes down. Sometimes it is due to some technical error or sometime in case of wired Internet the wires damage causes the Internet completely shutdown. But, it’s all unexpected. We can’t go and fix it. Our ISP (Internet Service Provider) fixes it as soon as possible. But what if your ISP is limit bandwidth and block you to access some sites or the whole Internet world upto a limited speed.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Russian court bans Scientology church due to trademark use

        A Russian court has ordered a Church of Scientology branch in Moscow to close after a dispute over its registered US trademarks.

        The Moscow City Court backed calls from Russia’s Ministry of Justice to close the church after accepting the department’s argument that the church cannot call itself a religious organisation if it owns a registered trademark.

      • Scientology church says Russian trademark ruling is ‘disease’ of justice system

        The Church of Scientology has said it will appeal against a decision by a Russian court to close its Moscow branch, describing the ruling as a “disease of the justice system”.

        In a statement sent to WIPR, the church said it will appeal against the decision to the country’s Supreme Court.

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Industry Still Doesn’t Understand This Fight Isn’t About Money, But Liberty

        With a lot of people streaming music and video from services such as Spotify, Pandora and Netflix, torrenting is less of a visible conflict than ten years ago. But similar fights continue in the shape of net neutrality and privacy, with the same values: it was never about the money.

      • Cox Can’t Describe Rightscorp As “Extortionists” and “Trolls” During Trial

        Internet provider Cox Communications is not allowed to use derogatory terms to describe Rightscorp during their upcoming trial. Terms such as “copyright troll,” “blackmailer,” and “extortionist” are off-limits and the same is true for Rightscorp’s dire financial position.

      • No Copyright Trolls, Your Evidence Isn’t Flawless

        If you get a letter through the post accusing you of Internet piracy, you must be guilty. That’s the message from most copyright trolls and infuriatingly, even some ‘neutral’ lawyers commenting on these cases. But while it might seem daunting, putting up a fight is not only the right thing to do, but can also cause claimants to back off.

      • Pirate forced to make anti-piracy film to avoid being sued

        A 30-YEAR-OLD MAN accused of piracy has had to make a solemn confession mini-movie to avoid being sued.

        The video is bleak at the start, reminiscent of a hostage video or one of those confessions you might have read about in Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is earnest, and perhaps a bit scary, but a storyline soon develops.

        It is not in the English language, which makes the message slightly hard to understand, but ultimately it warns that you do not want to be caught pirating anything. It appears to be a short rags-to-riches story of a man who enjoyed piracy, then met the police, and was sad. Tom Hanks might try for a US remake.

      • It’s illegal to make private copies of music in the UK—again

        The UK’s 2014 private copying exception, which allowed you to make personal copies of your own music, including format-shifted versions, has now been definitively withdrawn, according to The 1709 Blog. As a result, it is once more illegal to make personal backups of your own music, videos or e-books, rip CDs and DVDs to standalone digital files, or upload your music to the cloud.

      • Judge Worries That Piracy Lawsuits Will Flood Courts

        The chief judge of an IP court in Finland has expressed concern that ‘copyright-troll’ piracy lawsuits will cause chaos if a law firm follows through with threats to sue hundreds of Internet users. Using the courts is the ultimate weapon to make alleged pirates settle but experts believe that copyright owners could have an uphill battle.

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

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

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

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

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources




Samba logo

We support

End software patents


GNU project


EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com

Recent Posts