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12.12.15

Links 12/12/2015: Mozilla Funds for FOSS, Rust 1.5

Posted in News Roundup at 10:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Time has come for an ‘honorable retreat’ from Tokyo 2020 over Fukushima

    Let me begin this message by offering you my sincerest condolences. Condolences for what? For the death of the belief that a trouble-free 2020 Tokyo Olympics would serve to showcase Japan’s economic revival.

    Up to this point, the exact opposite has been the case, due to the scrapping of plans for a very expensive new National Stadium, the scuttling of the Olympic logo amid charges of plagiarism and newspaper headlines alleging, for example, that “Japan’s Olympics fiascoes point to outmoded, opaque decision-making.” Even more recently, Japan sports minister Hakubun Shimomura offered to resign over the Olympic stadium row.

    Among these developments, the charge alleging “outmoded, opaque decision-making” is perhaps the most troubling of all, because it suggests that both of the major setbacks the 2020 Olympics has encountered are systemic in nature, not merely one-off phenomena. If correct, this indicates that similar setbacks are likely to occur in the future. But how many setbacks can the 2020 Olympics endure?Let me begin this message by offering you my sincerest condolences. Condolences for what? For the death of the belief that a trouble-free 2020 Tokyo Olympics would serve to showcase Japan’s economic revival.

    Up to this point, the exact opposite has been the case, due to the scrapping of plans for a very expensive new National Stadium, the scuttling of the Olympic logo amid charges of plagiarism and newspaper headlines alleging, for example, that “Japan’s Olympics fiascoes point to outmoded, opaque decision-making.” Even more recently, Japan sports minister Hakubun Shimomura offered to resign over the Olympic stadium row.

    Among these developments, the charge alleging “outmoded, opaque decision-making” is perhaps the most troubling of all, because it suggests that both of the major setbacks the 2020 Olympics has encountered are systemic in nature, not merely one-off phenomena. If correct, this indicates that similar setbacks are likely to occur in the future. But how many setbacks can the 2020 Olympics endure?

  • Typo in case-sensitive variable name cooked Google’s cloud

    Google has admitted that incorrectly typing the name of a case-sensitive variable cooked its cloud.

    Users of the Alphabet subsidiary’s Google Container Engine customers “could not create external load balancers for their services for a duration of 21 hours and 38 min” on December 8th and 9th.

  • On the unreasonable reality of “junior” developer interviews

    Let’s not torture our junior developers by forcing them to do the programming equivalent of making high school students studying the Catcher in the Rye and the Scarlet Letter. Let’s talk to them like humans who are writing software. Let’s find out whether or not they’re open to learning, good at communicating, and people we’d like to work with every day.

  • Cyberbullying: Chubb offers UK ‘troll’ insurance against digital threats

    Cyberbullying has been a long-standing problem in the online community. Wrapped under the guise of anonymity, some individuals will launch hate campaigns against others rather than confront them in the physical realm, whether it be Facebook messaging and posts, tweets or campaigns designed to smear their reputation.

  • Hardware

    • Virtually there: the hard reality of the Gear VR

      But when the holidays are over, what will happen to the Gear VR? Is the headset a novelty or, as many of its developers and fans suggest, the start of a new medium? Once you’ve given everyone you know five minutes of virtual reality, is there much left to do? I’m not sure there is yet — and I’m not sure when that will change.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • GMO Toxins Endanger Human Health

      GMOs’ toxins put your health at risk, according to plant biologist Jonathan Latham. As Latham reports, many genetically modified plants are engineered to contain their own insecticides. These GMOs, which include maize, cotton and soybeans, are called Bt plants. Bt plants get their name because they incorporate a transgene that makes a protein-based toxin (usually called the Cry toxin) from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. (The term “cry toxin” comes from the crystal proteins that form the toxin.) Many Bt crops are “stacked,” meaning they contain a multiplicity of these Cry toxins. Bacillus thuringiensis is all but indistinguishable from the well known anthrax bacterium

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Petraeus Recommends Using Al Qaeda Fighters to Defeat ISIS

      The United States’ relationship with Al Qaeda could be closer than corporate media might lead you to believe. In August 2015 retired CIA chief David Petraeus openly called for recruiting so-called moderate members of Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra to fight ISIS in Syria. Despite corporate media reiterating the message that Al Qaeda is an enemy terrorist group, the CIA and US military leadership continue to discuss using Al Qaeda as a tool for their own military objectives. As Shane Harris and Nancy A. Youssef report, Petraeus called for recruiting members of the Nusra Front, which opposes the Syrian government, to help the US combat ISIS.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

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

      As satellite data of the fire hotspots shows, forest fires have affected the length and breadth of Indonesia. Among the worst hit areas are southern Kalimantan (Borneo) and western Sumatra. The fires have been raging since July, with efforts to extinguish them hampered by seasonal dry conditions exacerbated by the El Nino effect. As well as Indonesia, the acrid haze from the fires is engulfing neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore and has reached as far as southern Thailand.

    • VIDEO: Here’s Why Fox News Is Wrong To Dismiss The Link Between Climate Change And Terrorism

      Fox News pundits have spent much of the past year mocking and dismissing comments by President Obama, Democratic presidential candidates and others who have described the connection that climate change has to terrorism and the rise of the jihadist group ISIS. But as world leaders strive for an ambitious agreement at the conclusion of the United Nations climate change conference in Paris — the site of horrific terrorist attacks by ISIS in November — it’s more important than ever that Americans and people around the world recognize the relationship between global warming and global security.

    • Fires in Indonesia: Perspective from the Ground

      I live in the Ketapang district of West Kalimantan. We had some serious fires here, but it wasn’t as bad as in Central Kalimantan, which was basically the epicenter of the disaster. Breathing the smoke wasn’t pleasant, and I didn’t dare open a window or a door in my house because it would just permeate everything.

      The smoke also seriously disrupted some of my travel plans. There were no flights into or out of my town for at least a month, so we had to rely on boats or long-distance travel by car.

      The smoke also disrupted my work. I do lot in the community and in schools, but September and October were quiet months for us because the schools were not in session. It was too dangerous for students. Adults were not available to participate in our conservation activities and meetings because they either had to stay in the field and guard their crops from fire, or didn’t want to be outside more then necessary.

    • 6 locations where groundwater is vanishing

      Groundwater is disappearing beneath cornfields in Kansas, rice paddies in India, asparagus farms in Peru and orange groves in Morocco. These are stories about people on four continents confronting questions of how to safeguard their aquifers for the future – and in some cases, how to cope as the water runs out.

  • Finance

    • Exposing One of the Largest Accounting Scandals in American History

      New Networks Institute just released two reports in a new series, “Fixing Telecommunications”. It is based on mostly public, but unexamined information that exposes one of the largest financial accounting scandals in American history. It impacts all wireline and wireless phone, broadband, Internet and even cable TV/video services, and it continues today with impunity.

      Verizon, AT&T, CenturyLink, and other large telephone companies have been able to manipulate their financial accounting to make the local phone networks and services look unprofitable and have used this ‘fact’ in many public policy and regulatory decisions that benefited the incumbent telecommunications utilities.

      But the core of this scandal, which we dubbed the “FCC’s Big Freeze”, is so bizarre that no one would believe it if it was detailed in some thriller about financial chicanery. I’ll get to this in a moment.

    • Satoshi’s PGP Keys Are Probably Backdated and Point to a Hoax

      On Tuesday, both Wired and Gizmodo dropped a big bombshell: According to “leaked” (Wired) or “hacked” (Gizmodo) documents, the real Satoshi Nakamoto is…. Craig Steven Wright.

      Uh, who? one might ask. It’s a good question. Until now, Wright hasn’t pinged very many people’s radars as a potential Satoshi Nakamoto. On the other hand, Wright is indeed considered an expert on Bitcoin—in fact, he appeared on a panel with other possible-Satoshi Nick Szabo this year at the Bitcoin Investor Conference.

      Both Wired and Gizmodo outline Wright’s qualifications and accomplishments in detail, aside from pointing to emails and other documents that seem to nail Wright as once-and-future Bitcoin king Satoshi Nakamoto.

    • CETA’s Festering Wound: Corporate Sovereignty

      Remember CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU? Even though the text was “celebrated” back in October 2014, it is still not ready to be presented for possible ratification. As Techdirt has been covering, it’s pretty clear that the problem area is the corporate sovereignty chapter, because of concerns about the huge power it grants to Canadian (and US) corporations. First there were hints that Angela Merkel wanted the so-called “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) mechanism changed. Then France said the same — twice. Most recently, the EU commissioner responsible for trade and trade agreements, Cecilia Malmström, indicated that it wouldn’t be possible re-open the corporate sovereignty chapter, or to move away from “classic” ISDS to the re-branded version known as the Investment Court System (ICS), which the European Commission is pushing in an attempt to head off growing opposition to the whole idea.

    • ‘A Woman’s Ability to Pay Her Bills Should Not Be Dependent on the Whims of Customers’

      Janine Jackson: “The truth of the matter is this is a big deal,” says Simon King, the general manager of The Modern, a high-end restaurant attached to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. He is referring to the decision by Danny Meyer, owner of The Modern and many other restaurants, to phase out what the New York Times called “the time-honored American practice” of tipping.

    • On-demand workers unite online to fight Uber and the gig economy

      IT WAS a strike, but not as we know it. At midnight on 1 December, about 100 workers in New York City logged out of the Uber app on their phones in protest over a pay cut at UberRUSH, a delivery service run by the ride-sharing giant. One post on the Facebook page they created to rally the strike and list their demands read: “All we are asking is that Uber treats us fairly.”

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • BBC Bias

      I am involved quite extensively in the making of what I believe to be a valuable independent documentary. It is based on George Ponsonby’s excellent book London Calling, and has the working title How the BBC Stole the Referendum. We have already done a few hours filming of my contribution.

    • Jon Stewart And Stephen Colbert Mock Media For Its Trump Coverage On The Late Show

      On the December 10 edition of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert reunited to lament the media’s extensive coverage of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Colbert told Stewart that “the media won’t pay attention to anything … unless you are Donald Trump” and that if he wanted the media to pay attention to serious issues, he would have to “Trump it up.” Stewart appeared on the show to urge Congress to pass the Zadroga Act, which provides health care funding and compensation for the first responders to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Recently the media has been called out for its “wall-to-wall” Trump coverage, especially of his unconstitutional plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

    • After San Bernardino, Some Reporters ‘Poke Around’–While Others Follow the Money

      Some would say Columbia Journalism Review put it mildly, referring to the events of December 4 as an “unbecoming media frenzy in San Bernardino.” That was the sight of dozens of TV crew members from MSNBC and CNN trampling through the home of alleged killers Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, rifling through whatever they came across, holding it up for the camera and guessing about its meaning.

      Sample commentary from MSNBC‘s Kerry Sanders: “Come over here, you can see the baby’s toys. We have really quite a number of toys.” Sanders proceeded to show millions of viewers various photographs, we don’t know of whom, and for good measure, the driver’s license of Farook’s mother, including identifying information like her address.

  • Censorship

    • Citizens triumph in Nigerian digital rights battle

      This week the will of Nigerian citizens triumphed over a threat to the free and open Web. The recently proposed “Bill for an Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and Other Matters Connected there-with”, popularly known as the “Social Media Bill”, sought to restrict free expression by making it illegal to start any type of petition without swearing an affidavit that the content is true in a court of law.

    • YouTube blocks Japanese contributors’ content for refusing to use its paid version

      Not everyone was sold. ESPN has pulled all of its content from YouTube due to what a YouTube spokesperson called “rights and legal issues.” At least EPSN got to choose. YouTube has said that companies that do not sign off on YouTube RED will find their videos unavailable to viewers. And it’s keeping that promise, blocking a huge swath of Japanese artists from U.S. fans.

    • Lucasfilm Uses DMCA to Kill Star Wars Toy Picture

      Star Wars: The Force Awakens has gone into an early and bizarre anti-piracy overdrive. Earlier this week a fansite posted an image of a ‘Rey’ action figure legally bought in Walmart but it was taken down by Facebook and Twitter following a DMCA notice. Meanwhile, webhosts are facing threats of legal action.

    • Couple takes pics of Star Wars figure they bought, gets DMCA notice from Lucasfilm

      or the last decade, Marjorie Carvalho and her husband have produced Star Wars Action News, a podcast dedicated to Star Wars collectibles of all sorts. Predictably, they’ve had a lot to talk about, as waves of action figures and other collectibles have been launched in the run-up to the much-anticipated release of Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens next week.

      On Tuesday, a Star Wars Action News staffer saw something he shouldn’t have—and bought it. A 3 3/4″ action figure of “Rey,” a female character from The Force Awakens, was on display in a Walmart in Iowa, apparently earlier than it should have been. The staff member bought it for $6.94 plus tax, no questions asked. The following day, he posted pictures of the Rey figure on Star Wars Action News’ Facebook page.

    • Disney drops—then doubles down on—DMCA claim over Star Wars figure pic

      A Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice sent by the Walt Disney Company earlier this week seems to have truly awakened The Force, and now the company can’t seem to decide if it wants to be on the light side or the dark side.

      Marjorie and Arnie Carvalho run Star Wars Action News, a podcast about Star Wars collectibles. Earlier this week, SW Action News staffer Justin Kozisek purchased an action figure of “Rey” in an Iowa Walmart. The figure, which hasn’t been seen elsewhere, was presumably put on the shelves by accident ahead of its official release date. An image of the figure was posted on the SW Action News Facebook page—and promptly subjected to a wave of DMCA takedown demands by Lucasfilm. Many of those who had spread the image on social media were also subject to copyright claims.

    • Search Engines Need Regulating to Reduce Piracy, Russia Says

      Russian telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor says it will create a working group to look into the regulation of search engine results. The move is part of a package of initiatives designed to make pirated content harder to find. Also on the table are discussions on how to make anti-piracy techniques less prone to circumvention.

    • Resistance to Wyoming’s Unconstitutional Data Trespass Law

      In March 2015, Wyoming legislators passed a law that makes it illegal to report environmental hazards to the general public or to state officials. Senate Bill 12, “Trespassing to Collect Data,” makes it illegal to “collect resource data” from any “open land,” meaning any land outside of a city or town, whether the land is federal, state, or privately owned. As Justin Pidot and Deirdre Fulton reported, the controversial law protects the interests of private land owners by making it illegal for people to take photographs, sample soils, test water, or to take any kind of environmental data from any private, public or federal land outside of city limits.

  • Privacy

    • The Investigatory Powers Bill: PR myth list

      In the weeks since the Investigatory Powers Bill was officially released, we’ve seen a lot of Government PR. They are trying their best to assure us that we have nothing to be worried about, but we’re not convinced.

    • WaPo’s Excellent Explainer On Encryption Debunks WaPo’s Stupid Editorial In Favor Of Encryption Backdoors

      Washington Post reporter Andrea Peterson has put together a really excellent explainer piece on what you should know about encryption. Considering the source, it’s a good “general knowledge” explainer piece for people who really aren’t that aware of encryption or technically savvy. That’s important and useful, given how important this debate is and how many participants in it don’t seem to understand the first thing about encryption.

    • Driver Leaves Scene Of Accident, Gets Turned In By Her Car

      It’s no secret today’s vehicles collect tons of data. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be a secret. It certainly isn’t well-known, despite even some of the latest comers to the tech scene — legislators — having questioned automakers about their handling of driver data.

      More than one insurance company will offer you a discount if you allow them to track your driving habits. Employers have been known to utilize “black boxes” in company vehicles. These days, the tech is rarely even optional, although these “event data recorders” generally only report back to the manufacturers themselves. Consumer-oriented products like OnStar combine vehicle data with GPS location to contact law enforcement/medical personnel if something unexpected happens. Drivers can trigger this voluntarily to seek assistance when stranded on the road because of engine trouble, flat tires, etc.

    • FBI admits it uses stingrays, zero-day exploits

      The FBI’s secrecy surrounding stingrays has been well documented. And the controversy over the use of zero-days by governments has also generated its share of headlines. Both issues are controversial, in part because they have the potential to harm vast numbers of people who aren’t suspected of committing any crime. That’s because stingrays generally intercept all cell phone communications in a given area, not just those of a drug or kidnapping suspect. Paying large sums of money to buy zero-days, meanwhile, creates powerful incentives for governments to keep the underlying vulnerabilities secret. FBI officials have long attempted to distance themselves from such topics. Today, they inched slightly closer.

    • On the CCA (in)security of MTProto

      Telegram is a popular messaging app which supports end-to-end encrypted communication. In Spring 2015 we performed an audit of Telegram’s source code. This short paper summarizes our findings.

      Our main discovery is that the symmetric encryption scheme used in Telegram — known as MTProto — is not IND-CCA secure, since it is possible to turn any ciphertext into a different ciphertext that decrypts to the same message.

      We stress that this is a theoretical attack on the definition of security and we do not see any way of turning the attack into a full plaintext-recovery attack. At the same time, we see no reason why one should use a less secure encryption scheme when more secure (and at least as efficient) solutions exist.

      The take-home message (once again) is that well-studied, provably secure encryption schemes that achieve strong definitions of security (e.g., authenticated-encryption) are to be preferred to home-brewed encryption schemes.

    • FBI Admits To Using Zero Day Exploits To Hack Into Computers

      It’s been widely suspected for ages that both the NSA and the FBI made use of so-called “zero-day” exploits to hack into computers. Leaks from a few years ago (which may or may not have come from Snowden) exposed just how massive the NSA’s exploit operation was, and there have been plenty of stories of security companies selling exploits to the NSA, who would use them, rather than reveal them and get them patched — thereby putting the public at risk. Last year, the President told the NSA to get better at revealing these zero day exploits to companies to patch, rather than hoarding them for their own use. Just about a month ago, the NSA proudly announced that it now discloses vulnerabilities 90% of the time — but conveniently left out how long it uses them before disclosing them.

    • Lofgren questions DHS policy towards TOR Relays

      Today, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) released a letter expressing her concern with news reports indicating an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent enlisted local law enforcement to pressure a New Hampshire public library into disabling its Tor relay.

      The letter, addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, notes that the Tor network is used by journalists, activists, dissidents, intelligence sources, and other privacy concerned individuals to keep their web browsing private, and the network receives significant funding through government grants.

    • Comey Calls on Tech Companies Offering End-to-End Encryption to Reconsider “Their Business Model”

      FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday called for tech companies currently offering end-to-end encryption to reconsider their business model, and instead adopt encryption techniques that allow them to intercept and turn over communications to law enforcement when necessary.

      End-to-end encryption, which is the state of the art in providing secure communications on the internet, has become increasingly common and desirable in the wake of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations about mass surveillance by the government.

    • Obama to clarify his stance on encryption by the holidays

      The Obama administration plans to clarify its stance on strong encryption before Washington shuts down for the holidays.

      Administration officials met Thursday with the civil-society groups behind a petition urging the White House to back strong, end-to-end encryption over the objections of some law-enforcement and intelligence professionals.

    • Ted Cruz using firm that harvested data on millions of unwitting Facebook users

      Documents reveal donor-funded US startup embedded in Republican’s campaign paid UK university academics to collect psychological profiles on potential voters

      Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign is using psychological data based on research spanning tens of millions of Facebook users, harvested largely without their permission, to boost his surging White House run and gain an edge over Donald Trump and other Republican rivals, the Guardian can reveal.

      A little-known data company, now embedded within Cruz’s campaign and indirectly financed by his primary billionaire benefactor, paid researchers at Cambridge University to gather detailed psychological profiles about the US electorate using a massive pool of mainly unwitting US Facebook users built with an online survey.

    • Facebook for Work is almost upon us

      HUNGRY DATA HIPPO Facebook has promised to launch the work version of its time-wasting solution very soon.

      The firm reckons that the time blight will hit worker desktops in the next few months and will not be used for things like crushing candy or, presumably, assessing the global cat situation.

      Reuters is first with the news, hot from Julien Codorniou, director of global platform partnerships at Facebook, who explained that the system is very much like the consumer version, except it is designed to make users more productive. This means no crap apps or gimmicky gewgaws but a lot of the other crap that you might have come to expect.

    • Tor Hires a New Leader to Help It Combat the War on Privacy

      The Tor Project is entering a crucial phase in its nearly 10-year existence. In the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks, it has assumed a higher profile in the world of privacy and security than ever before. But it’s also come under increased attack by governments out to demonize it, and by law enforcement and intelligence agencies out to crack it and unmask its anonymous users.

    • FBI on Encryption: ‘It’s A Business Model Question’

      Now that encryption has been elevated to a default technology on mobile devices, the government has heightened its “Going Dark” rhetoric, again on Wednesday insisting during a Senate Judicial Committee hearing that Silicon Valley figure out how to deliver plain-text communication between criminal and terror suspects to law enforcement.

    • Government, Can You Hear Me Now? Cell-site Simulators Aren’t Secret Anymore

      Digital analyzer. IMSI catcher. Stingray. Triggerfish. Dirt box. Cell-site simulator. The list of aliases used by the devices that masquerade as a cell phone tower, trick your phone into connecting with them, and suck up your data, seems to grow every day. But no matter what name cell-site simulators go by, whether they are in the hands of the government or malicious thieves, there’s no question that they’re a serious threat to privacy.

  • Civil Rights

    • NYT Rewrites Scalia to Make Him Sound Less Racist

      This is not a person talking about a subset of blacks with a particular kind of educational background; taking his words at face value, this is a person asserting that African-Americans as a whole belong in “lesser schools” that are not “too fast for them.” (Or that “there are those who contend” that that is the case, if you want to give Scalia credit for that circumlocution.)

      The fact that a Supreme Court justice justifies eliminating affirmative action on the basis of openly racist views ought to be big news. By sugarcoating what Scalia actually said, the New York Times disguises that news–making the ethnic cleansing of America’s top schools a more palatable possibility. Perhaps that shouldn’t make me gasp.

    • Global Refugee Crisis Reaches 60 Million

      According to the United Nations’ High Commission on Refugees Global Trends Report: World at War, published in June 2015, sixty million people worldwide are now refugees due to conflict in their home nations. One in every 122 people is considered a refugee, internally displaced, or an asylum seeker. Those individuals come from almost every continent. Parts of Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa all have massive numbers of people who are trying to flee. Millions of people are on the move or hiding in the fringes of society to keep from being persecuted and harmed.

    • Glenn Beck Compares Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban To Hitler
    • Is Donald Trump a 2016 Manchurian candidate?

      The Republican presidential hopeful’s views are getting more and more extreme. Perhaps, as Salman Rushdie suggested, there’s more going on than meets the eye

    • Court Says Constitutional Violations By Law Enforcement Are Perfectly Fine As Long As They Happen Quickly

      As long as the stop isn’t extended for too long (a wholly arbitrary length decided on a case-by-case basis during suppression hearings/civil rights lawsuits), cops are pretty much free to stop and search any driver for any reason. And even if they’re completely wrong every step of the way, there’s a good chance the “good faith exception” will excuse their misdeeds. (For everything else, there’s qualified immunity.)

    • Bassel Khartabil: fears for man who brought open internet to the Arab world

      Syria never had a hackerspace until Bassel Khartabil – known online as Bassel Safadi – started Aiki Lab in Damascus in 2010. The Palestinian-Syrian open-source software developer used it as a base from which to advance the free software and free culture movements in his country. Because of Khartabil’s work, people gained new tools to express themselves and communicate.

      Writing to the vice president of the European commission in 2013, MEPs Charles Tannock and Ana Gomes summed up Khartabil’s contributions as “opening up the internet in Syria – a country with a notorious record of online censorship” and “vastly extending online access and knowledge to the Syrian people”. Among his awards included the 2013 Index on Censorship Digital Freedom Award for using technology to promote an open and free internet.

    • Massive Sexting Case Shockingly Results In No Criminal Charges

      Given what we’ve seen in other (and much smaller) sexting cases — where sex offender laws have been twisted to cover consensual interactions between adolescents — the district attorney’s decision to put control of the situation back in parents’ hands is a surprise. It will no doubt be the exception that proves the rule.

      The instinctual reaction to bring law enforcement into the equation is understandable and, admittedly, there are aspects of sexting that may require this sort of scrutiny. The problem is that prosecutors often feel compelled to find something to charge sexting participants with, if only to justify the expenditure of law enforcement resources. This leads to preposterous (and potentially life-damaging) outcomes like teens being charged with exploiting themselves by taking photos of their own bodies and sharing them with others.

    • Twitter Told a Bunch of Users They May Be Targets of a ‘State Sponsored Attack’

      The attack is currently being investigated by Twitter. In their notice to users, Twitter said that the attack only impacted usernames, IP address, email addresses, and phone numbers if a phone number was associated with the account. Twitter did not say which state was implicated—it could have been China, Russia, or even the US.

      I spoke to a number of Twitter users who received the notice. A couple are engaged in activism and are connected to the Tor Project in some capacity. A few are located in Canada, and vaguely associated with the security community at large. However, I could not determine any common factors between all recipients. They all received the notice around the same time, between 5:15 and 5:16 PM EST.

    • Jamie Kalven on the Laquan McDonald Cover-Up

      This week on CounterSpin: There are calls for the resignation of Chicago Mayor (and former Obama chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel—stemming from the city’s 13-month cover-up of video that belied the official story of the police killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. That video, along with an autopsy that also showed police’s initial story to be false, eventually came to light through the work of journalists—but not mainstream journalists; it was independent reporters, including our guest, who stepped in to force the police department and the city to acknowledge not only what happened on the night of October 20, 2014—when officer Jason Van Dyke put 16 bullets into the body of a boy who posed him no harm—but what happened after, as institutional forces came together to keep the truth from the public.

    • Salvadoran Women Imprisoned for Miscarriages

      In El Salvador an unexpected pregnancy loss has been declared unconstitutional and criminal. The law that has been in place since 1998 prohibits abortions in the country regardless of the situation. The penal code does no take into account if the mother’s life or the baby’s life is in danger; it is all abortion. The purpose of this law is to give the embryonic human a right to life. If any expectant mother happens to break this law regardless of the situation, she can be sentenced to 2-8 years in prison, and the medical professionals assisting the women can serve 6-12 years in prison. In some more severe cases, a woman can be charged with aggravated homicide if it is believed that the fetus could have been able to reach life successfully.

    • Ingraham: “I’d Go Farther” Than Trump’s Plan To Ban Muslims From Entering The US And “Do A Pause On All Immigration”
    • New York Teens Often Isolated in Adult Prisons

      New York and North Carolina are the only two states in the US that prosecute sixteen and seventeen year old teenagers in the justice system as adults. This is a crucial issue because in other states these teens are sent to juvenile facilities where they are held in more appropriate environments, given their ages. Young teens in adult prisons are often forced into solitary confinement, which can be severely, psychologically and physically damaging.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • “The more bits you use, the more you pay”: Comcast CEO justifies data caps

      While Comcast doesn’t actually cut people off the Internet when they hit their 300GB-per-month data limits, customers do get charged an additional $10 for each 50GB used. Customers can also pay an extra $30 or $35 per month for unlimited data, depending on where they live. Comcast, the nation’s largest home Internet provider, has implemented the data caps in many cities but hasn’t rolled them out to its entire territory yet. “We’re just trialling ways to have a balanced relationship,” Roberts said. “You can watch hundreds of shows and movies and other things before you hit these levels, many devices, but I don’t think it’s illogical or something people should be paranoid about… it’s not that different than other industries.”

    • Comcast CEO Defends Caps: Claims Broadband’s Like Gasoline

      Comcast CEO Brian Roberts was forced to defend the company’s expansion of usage caps this week at an industry conference. As most of you know, Comcast has been imposing usage caps of 300 GB on the company’s customers. Users then have the option of either paying $10 per every 50 GB consumed, or paying $30 to $35 to enjoy the same unlimited service many of these users literally enjoyed only just yesterday.

  • DRM

    • Ecuador Likely To Legalize DRM Circumvention In The Exercise Of Fair Use Rights — Something TPP Will Block

      Eighteen months ago, Mike wrote about the DMCA being abused to censor stories in an Ecuadorian newspaper that someone in the government there apparently didn’t want out in the open. But Boing Boing points us to a post by Andrés Delgado from a few weeks back which offers hope that some good things could be happening in Ecuador in the field of copyright.

    • Thirteen Year Legacy: Last.fm Downfall?

      Last.fm is a web service for users to track and share their music tastes with friends in an easy, simple way. A single play of a song is known as a “Scrobble”. Listening to music and recording the listen with Last.fm is known as “Scrobbling”. This is a service that has existed since 2002, originally under the name of Audioscrobbler. In 2015, Last.fm rolled out their new website beta, originally optional, but later forced upon all users.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • UK Throws A Copyright Crumb: Confirms That Digitized Copies Of Public Domain Images Are In The Public Domain

        A couple of weeks ago, Techdirt wrote about a German museum suing Wikimedia over photos of public domain objects that were in its collection. We mentioned there was a related situation in the UK, where the National Portrait Gallery in London had threatened a Wikimedia developer for using photos of objects that were clearly in the public domain. Mike pointed out that in the US, the Bridgeman v. Corel case established that photographs of public domain images do not carry any copyright, since they do not add any new expression. In a rare bit of good news, noted by Communia, the UK Intelllectual Property Office has just announced officially that it takes the same view…

      • Canadian Govt Eyes VPN Pirates, Netflix Thieves and ISP Blocking

        New Government documents have shed some light on the future agenda points for online copyright enforcement. In a briefing for minister Mélanie Joly, officials from the Department of Canadian Heritage mention VPN pirates and website blocking as emerging issues and pressures.

      • On the Fringe: David Elston, Pirate Party UK

        Pirate Party UK is our first brave volunteer as we explore the fringe movements campaigning against the dominance of the Westminster parties in British politics.

        Speaking to the deputy leader David Elston, newly elected as part of a leadership change following the general election, we delve into what the Pirates stand for, why authenticity is a new force in campaigning, and what effect Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is having on smaller parties.

      • ‘Happy Birthday’ Copyright Case Reaches a Settlement

        After more than two years of litigation, “Happy Birthday to You” — often called the most popular song in the world, but one that has long been under copyright — is one step closer to joining the public domain.

      • Parties celebrate as ‘Happy Birthday’ copyright dispute settled

        A copyright lawsuit centring on the song “Happy Birthday to You” has been settled out of court.

        Music publisher Warner/Chappell and a group of documentary makers, who had been disputing ownership of the song for more than two years, settled the dispute yesterday, December 9.

        Details of the settlement have not been disclosed.

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