12.14.15

IRS Reveals That Microsoft Effectively Stole Tens of Billions of Dollars of Public Money Using a Network of Tax Havens

Posted in Finance at 5:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The taxpayers are sending congressmen on expensive trips abroad. It might be worth it except they keep coming back.”

Will Rogers

Summary: Microsoft’s long history of tax evasion is finally taking some toll as the US tax authority, the IRS, is going after Microsoft and unravels its international network (or syndicate) of tax avoidance

WE find it amazing (not just interesting) to see a branch of the US government, the IRS, going after ‘big fish’ (for a change). These bodies or branches of government are usually corrupted enough to overlook abuses of powerful entities that are closely connected to the government and thus pose a threat to the career of anyone ‘daring’ to expose and litigate. Remember what happened to the judge who threatened to split Microsoft?

“Remember what happened to the judge who threatened to split Microsoft?”Microsoft is not an ordinary company. Remember that Microsoft actually threatened the IRS [1, 2] for merely ‘daring’ to look into (and potentially expose) organised tax evasion by these arrogant thugs at Microsoft. Microsoft’s avoidance of taxes is a long-explored subject at Techrights, so we are delighted to see the IRS finally tackling the issue. It’s well overdue and belated (by several decades). Never forget that Microsoft literally threatened the IRS for merely doing its job, which was to expose tax evasion. The poor little IRS thought it was big enough to take on Microsoft (like DOJ taking on Wall Street), whereupon Microsoft bullied it with deterrence lawsuits. Interestingly enough, please note that the same legal firm which lobbies alongside Microsoft on the patent front is the same one threatening to sue me over EPO coverage. The EPO started sending threatening legal letters only after (and only regarding) EPO abuses implicating Microsoft. How will Microsoft respond to the IRS other than threaten the IRS with lawsuits?

“Microsoft’s avoidance of taxes is a long-explored subject at Techrights, so we are delighted to see the IRS finally tackling the issue.”Matt Day’s detailed article about it (in the Seattle Times) says: “Court documents in a case between Microsoft and the IRS provide a detailed look at how the company, like other multinational corporations, has created a complex structure that allows it to minimize its tax bill.”

It is worth noting that the Seattle Times was paid by Bill Gates and it showed, so this article may be ‘risky’ for their financial lifeline. We have already shown how sites which receive Bill Gates’ money shortly thereafter remove criticism of Microsoft (even retrospectively!).

There’s a spurious part about “other multinational corporations”. Saying that a lot of other companies (not under IRS probe) evade tax is a Microsoft-serving evasion tactic. Microsoft is, in our experience, more criminal and corrupt than counterparts. We have provided ample evidence of this over the years.

“Remember when a whistleblower exposed Microsoft corruption (financial fraud to be precise) and Microsoft paid him $4 million to shut up and then scuttled the investigation with the SEC?”What the IRS says about Microsoft isn’t a shocking revelation but perhaps the first time (in recent history) that those in positions of (relatively) high power are “brave” enough to say the truth. Remember when a whistleblower exposed Microsoft corruption (financial fraud to be precise) and Microsoft paid him $4 million to shut up and then scuttled the investigation with the SEC? That was back in the late 90s. Microsoft’s financial situation isn’t what it seems and the company does not operate like it publicly claims. Microsoft has been mostly a piggy-bank for Bill Gates, who himself does not pay tax. Bill Gates is avoiding billions in taxes by pretending he runs a charity. Mark Zuckerberg is to latest to imitate this nasty PR ploy and Microsoft was perhaps one of the earliest software giants (if not the pioneer) when it comes to massive-scale tax evasion. Many software companies just thought, “hey, we can do this too.”

“From 2001 to 2006,” Day explains, “Microsoft completed a series of intracompany deals that, in exchange for upfront payments, shifted the rights to software code and other assets developed largely in the U.S., to subsidiaries in Bermuda, Ireland, Singapore and Puerto Rico.

“When Bill Gates bribes large newspapers they just tend to focus on tax avoidance by companies other than Microsoft.”“Those deals reduced Microsoft’s cumulative tax bill in future years by tens of billions of dollars, according to court documents and an analysis of the company’s filings.”

Read it again: “tens of billions of dollars” (and the IRS usually just cracks down on businesses over a few thousands of dollars).

Singapore, as it turns out, continues to enrich itself (by “itself” we mean few corrupt politicians and businessmen) by facilitating such tax evasion, much like Switzerland (Singapore seems to have become the Zurich of Asia, and that’s not meant to be a compliment).

Day has posted some short summaries of his article in Twitter, noting that “on taxes, Microsoft behaves like much of the rest of big Corporate America: they’ve tried to limit the cash they send to governments.”

“Why did it take two decades for the IRS to do something about it?”No, as explained above, Microsoft is quite unique. When Bill Gates bribes large newspapers they just tend to focus on tax avoidance by companies other than Microsoft. We have given examples of this, e.g. The Guardian.

Day says that “Microsoft spent 20 years building a network of subsidiaries that, among other things, avoided a lot of taxes.”

Why did it take two decades for the IRS to do something about it? Could it be Microsoft’s influence in the US government? If it wasn’t a government-embedded company like Microsoft, one would call it organised crime and it would be front page news (many tens of billions of dollars in tax evasion).

“If it wasn’t a government-embedded company like Microsoft, one would call it organised crime and it would be front page news (many tens of billions of dollars in tax evasion).”Day says that “Microsoft officially sells most products from Ireland, Puerto Rico or Singapore. In the U.S., most sales start in Nevada (few biz taxes).”

Yes, and guess who’s facilitating this. It is well documented, as some people have shown for many years, that Microsoft put former executives as moles inside the local government, perhaps in order to facilitate tax-related crime and send everything from Washington to Reno. We named the people involved about half a decade ago. Where was the IRS all this time? It couldn’t defend itself by saying that it hadn’t noticed. People from inside Microsoft complained about this.

Day says: “Each of Microsoft’s global hubs is designed to place some profit in Bermuda, the island tax haven. It’s unclear how much.”

“We named the people involved about half a decade ago.”Well, it’s time to investigate. This is a big case implicating “big” people and involving a lot of money. Don’t expect any arrests though. Rich people rarely go to prison.

Day adds: “That structure, created ~2001-2006, saved Microsoft tens of billions of dollars in taxes. Likely 100s of mill saved in Washington state.”

According to a campaigner from Microsoft — one who left Microsoft and then became a vocal critic of Microsoft’s tax evasion (he even created a whole Web site about it) — we’re talking about well over a billion, not “100s of mill”, ‘saved’ (means evaded) in Washington state. Half a decade ago it was estimated at well over a billion, so maybe it’s already $2 billion.

“It’s a massive international racket and we hope that the IRS will get to the bottom of it rather than spend a lot of time going after “easy” cases and crushing relatively poor people.”As we have said here before, based on over a decade of research, Microsoft is not an ordinary company. It’s more like a clique of power-hungry people. Microsoft continues to conveniently masquerade as “software company” when in reality it has patent trolls (satellites) bullying practicing firms and funneling untold amounts of money to offshore divisions and subsidiaries such as “licensing” (e.g. Android licensing). It’s a massive international racket and we hope that the IRS will get to the bottom of it rather than spend a lot of time going after “easy” cases and crushing relatively poor people.

Apple, to its ‘credit’ [pun intended], seems to have learned Microsoft’s dirty tricks and a new article from the financial press suggests that Apple too is in trouble over taxes, at least in Europe. Well, are governments around the world strong enough to tackle the Big Evaders? As in Big Business? Whose side are they on? Let’s see if we have a real functioning democracy.

The financial crisis of 2008 showed whose side governments tend to be on when they not only failed to arrest a lot of (likely) guilty bankers but actually took taxpayers’ money and gave it out to these bankers as a “bailout” gift.

Watch Out For the EPO-SUEPO Parity Spin

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The latest media strategy on the face of it…

The Plot to Kill Google
See this classic old article for parallels

Summary: Benoît Battistelli’s EPO uses a propaganda strategy which we are very much familiar with (like Microsoft trying to cast other companies, e.g. Google in the Scroogled PR/lobbying campaign, as ‘equally evil’)

LAST week we warned about the greenwashing spin from the incredibly unpopular EPO (it continues even this week), but a more disturbing spin that we are seeing right now, both in press articles and in mysterious anonymous comments, is that SUEPO is basically “as bad as” (or as violent as, e.g. "armed" "Nazis", "snipers", or Mafia) the EPO’s management. That’s laughable, but if this kind of spin is repeated often enough, then some people might actually believe it.

“That’s laughable, but if this kind of spin is repeated often enough, then some people might actually believe it.”We don’t know if this is some kind of a plot which came about in boardroom brainstorming with FTI Consulting (a nasty US-based firm that is paid a obscene amount of money from the EPO right now to poison the media), but let’s just say that this kind of spin warrants a rebuttal.

Junge Welt published an article on the 11th of December (Friday), a day after the latest Munich protest, and it is titled “Unrechtsstaat im Staate”. We still hope that a translation will turn up as the article is in German, but we imagine that it also airs the EPO’s spin, supposedly for ‘balance’.

“Is this related to the EPO’s PR campaigns, coinciding with threats to sue publishers?”One person in Twitter says “take some popcorn and enjoy reading the comments” in IP Kat, but as we noted about a week ago, there is an increasingly-distracting element in these anonymous comments. It is discrediting critics of the EPO and distracting readers from the real issues and the real scandals. Is this related to the EPO’s PR campaigns, coinciding with threats to sue publishers? Again, we can’t tell for sure, but it seems quite probable.

The one downside of comments is that there is no quality control, not even a scoring system. IP Kat has a lot of factually-incorrect comments, usually the pro-EPO ones. Well, we don’t want to repost too many comments from there, but there is clearly some kind of spin going on (whether paid-for or gratis), culminating this morning with the following two responses. The first one says (responding to the pro-EPO “nero”):

The “dental non-issue” is only a “non-issue” inside nero’s head.

The ostensibly innocuous “top-up insurance” is very clearly a “sweetener” for the members of the smaller Eastern European delegations. The fact that nobody had needed it for the last 40 years and that it was introduced at a time of “austerity” and “cutbacks” (for EPO staff) should be enough to make any objective observer suspicious. Not to mention the fact that it was introduced by VP4 who has quite a reputation as a confectionary expert from his previous career in the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office.

If there really is nothing to hide then I’m sure that we can look forward to publication in due course of the figures of the number of incidents of “urgent dental treatment” of AC members and the costs involved. All in the interests of transparency …

nero is doing a good job as a presidential sock-puppet but like BB he has obviously never heard of the “Streisand effect”.

Here is another:

I am very sad, I would even say exasperated when reading comments that tend to imply that BB and SUEPO are behaving in a similar (bad) manner. This appears to be an absurd attempt to prove that, if BB is behaving in a poor fashion the same applies to the trade union.

Well, may be there are just a couple of heartless persons out there not aware of what is going on at epo.
The union SUEPO, set up about 4 decades ago, is committed to defend the interests of the staff and by the very same way the interests of the epo. Remember the epo would be nothing without his highly skilled staff. A couple of persons, team BB, is systematically and fiercely attacking the epo staff. Team BB started with SUEPO, imposing new rules for strikes, for electing Staff reps, then continued harassing sick staff, imposing an infamous ” house arrest”, and subsequently attacks the benefits of the pensioners and imposes unachievable working conditions for examiners etc….This being just a short list of the “achievements”.

Now please tell me, who is behaving in a poor manner?

SUEPO is trying to counter the systematic destruction of the EPO by team Battistelli. In my opinion it his an honourable task for a trade union. As a reward 3 leading members are on the runway to be fired.

Therefore putting the leading team of the epo and the trade union on the same level is mala fide
Last but not least: the “non dental issue” is a mere statement of facts: SUEPO didn’t write the minutes of the quoted AC session. AC members get free dental treatment. Fact! Whether AC members misuse this benefit is not the point here. Why should they, anyway?

Notice how the pro-EPO snippets are nitpicking the 'dental' issue, which is far from the main scandal anyway. It’s not entirely new, either. Florian Müller mentioned it last week when he wrote: “The closest thing to corruption–and “closest” is an overstatement–that I wrote about was that the EPO allegedly pays for the visits of its supervisors (especially those from relatively poor countries) to Munich doctors.”

“Watch out for two kinds of very similar spin.”This links to something he wrote about it a year ago, titled “European Patent Office pays for health insurance of members of its oversight body, staff union says”.

Watch out for two kinds of very similar spin. One is about “similarly bad” arguments from SUEPO and another about “similarly violent” SUEPO. Well, for a number of days now (if not a few weeks), the EPO’s spokespeople too have been trying to portray the biggest staff union as aggressive or at least equally aggressive (as the EPO’s management), even though its actions are largely reactionary. They’re reactions to the management’s attacks on staff (humans) and on human rights themselves.

Heise Article Tackles EPO ‘Feud’ (Union Busting in Disguise), Techrights’ Remarks Follow

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 2:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There is a clever and nasty new media strategy, aided by evil peripheral firms

Summary: Benoît Battistelli’s EPO is engaged in an information war — a war of spin and deception in the mass media (a new media strategy on the face of it) and we respond to it below because many of the EPO’s arguments are either fictional or defamatory (or both)

AN EPO article which we mentioned here the other day, an article from Heise (largest news source in Germany, at least for IT), has just been translated. An accurate English translation is formally published by SUEPO, the largest EPO union whose existence predates even mine and the EPO’s (almost my parents’ existence too, if SUEPO’s predecessor/previous identity is also considered). SUEPO (SU stands for Staff Union) isn’t some “new union on the block”, it has a very long history and a huge number of members, who make it a legitimate representation of staff’s views. Its members are very well educated; many are doctors from all across Europe. There is a very well-funded (about €73,000 per month) reputation laundering campaign going on (in conjunction with union-busting with outside consultants), so we expected to see some myths making their way into the article. We hereby rebut several such myths, having researched this topic for many hundreds of hours (if not more than a thousand hours).

For completeness and for future reference we decided to make an HTML copy of the translation and highlight the curious (or relatively new) bits — those that add crucial and/or new information. Our response is at the bottom.

European Patent Office: Conflict between Management and Staff rapidly coming to a Head

The European Patent Office has suspended the Staff Union leadership; now the situation threatens to escalate. The Office President has branded the staff representatives as “Mafia”; they speak of “institutional violence”.

The atmosphere between the management cadre and the staff union at the European Patent Office (EPO) is getting more and more toxic. In the dispute over the efficiency drive by Office President, Benoît Battistelli, he has now launched a venomous flood of rhetoric on the international staff union of the institution (SUEPO) and challenged their legitimacy.

Atmosphere of Terror

Frenchman Battistelli is quoted by the online service “Politico” as insisting that the union is not a representative body but a “Mafia-like” organization. At the same time he refutes the allegation that he himself has created an “atmosphere of terror”. One member of staff had anonymously claimed that the staff felt they were being “squeezed like lemons”, which was affecting their health.

Over the past three and a quarter years, five of the around 7000 staff members have committed suicide, the last incident being in August. Suepo are insisting that the deaths should be independently investigated, in the light of the changed working conditions. Battistelli has been the chief executive of the Office since 2010.

An EPO spokesperson has complained to the WIPR service that, on a lower level, leading management and executive personnel have been increasingly confronted with “personal attacks”, excessive references in blogs and leaflets, and even “calls for violence”.

Cheap accusations

Of course, the union is not going to take this lying down. These “cheap accusations” are blatant inventions to arouse sympathy for the Office leadership, now that it is increasingly coming under closer scrutiny by the media. But it is not the managers who are the victims; on the contrary, it is they who are introducing “institutional violence”, in particular against those who have not declared themselves to be in agreement with “certain regulations”. Overall, this tactic is said to be being used to challenge the integrity and worth of honest employees, who have in no way deserved this.

Suepo has again called for a “peaceful demonstration” on Thursday at the Office headquarters in Munich. The protest is aimed in particular at the “sustained attacks” against staff representatives, which are said to have now reached a peak with the suspension and the initiation of disciplinary measures against the union executive.

Last Thursday, and the week before, according to figures from Suepo and the police, some 2000 staff members have already taken part in similar gatherings. The EPO union has support from colleagues at the Office for the Harmonization of the Internal Market (OHIM), the counterpart to the Patent Office in matters relating to Community trademarks. In a press release the staff representatives there expressed their “deep concern” about the situation at the EPO, which needs to be addressed urgently.

Fear of retribution

The Administrative Council of the Office is apparently now being approached, so that union officials can once again address the concerns of the staff members without fear of repercussions. The additional protection of their votes, which are critical to the issue, is said to be essential if an abuse of power is to be prevented. The EPO leadership is accusing the suspended Chair of the Union, Elizabeth Hardon, among other things, of having talked too much, and to have threatened and bullied Union members.

In the local (heise) online “Accusation letter”, the talk is of “sniper” methods, said to have been used against Hardon. As well as that, it seems evident that even the private E-mail accounts of the SUEPO executive have been monitored.

There had already been earlier complaints of a comparatively new “Investigation Unit” of the Office having used keyloggers and cameras and of having worked with somewhat murky service providers such as the British “Control Risk Group”, to spy on staff members. Hardon herself refutes the accusations against her entirely, and has lodged an appeal with the EPO data protection supervisory authority.

Waving patents through in a rush

Battistelli has meanwhile lavished praise in a local (heise) online circular on the ongoing efforts by the employees, which he claims have led to increasing effectiveness and greater productivity. In concordance with the new performance-based assessment system, in 2015 a total of 18.4 million Euro was distributed by way of bonus payments to the workforce. This is said to be 20 percent more than in the previous year. Suepo contends that the remunerations are hardly an issue, and in any event are only a “perverse incentive” not to examine patent applications adequately and wave them through as rapidly as possible. (kbe)

Points that Techrights wishes to make very briefly about this article:

  1. It’s not SUEPO that’s “Mafia”, Battistelli is merely projecting to give an illusion of parity (as if both sides are aggressive and subversive). This seems like the latest PR/media strategy as we’re seeing it quite a lot these days.
  2. The incredibly cliquish Team Battistelli challenges the legitimacy of SUEPO simply because, by Battistelli’s warped standards, opposition is neither warranted nor allowed. He is a spoiled brat from a rich people’s school and it still shows. Contrast that with Alison Brimelow. What a spectacular difference!
  3. Team Battistelli has been trying to paint itself as preventer of suicides and blame such tragedies on SUEPO; what a nerve they have…
  4. The “calls for violence” which Team Battistelli speaks of are fictional. There is no evidence of them. We wrote several articles about this and it is conveniently related to point (1) above. Journalists oughtn’t print such nonsense without fact-checking.
  5. The "sniper" narrative is a shameful personal attack, intended to bias or incite the reader of a poor (and otherwise very narrow/limited) set of accusations against Hardon
  6. With Control Risks Group in the mix, we urge people to encrypt or use Tor. Control Risks Group isn’t just some ordinary company/firm; it’s now a military-grade union busting-service (with reputation for that in Europe).
  7. SUEPO is right to suggest that patent applications are now being examined rather poorly. Staff is put under pressure to grant in bulk or otherwise risk losing the Christmas vacation

The last point suggests to us that the Team Battistelli-led EPO is gradually emulating the notorious USPTO (very deeply involved in and dominated by large corporations, with terrible grant rates).

“We wrote thousands of articles about the USPTO and we have great (and growing) fear that those same disasters (and patent predators) will reach Europe.”This new blog post titled “Another depressing year for patent law?” says a lot about how practitioners in the US view the USPTO. Watch how this US patent lawyer, Lawrence B. Ebert, quoting Larry Downes as saying: “On just one day in November, for example, over 200 new patent lawsuits were filed, as plaintiffs rushed to beat a change in federal procedure that could require more specific claims. Most were from companies that buy up patents of dubious quality and use them to extract nuisance settlements from actual innovators.”

Is this what Europe is hoping to achieve? We wrote thousands of articles about the USPTO and we have great (and growing) fear that those same disasters (and patent predators) will reach Europe. Some already do.

Battistelli’s Furious Love Affair With French Power: Part I

Posted in Europe, Finance, Patents at 8:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Who can possibly stop such a sloeber?

President Battistelli

Summary: Benoît Battistelli’s connections to rich and powerful people in France (and also internationally) are explored, with the aim of explaining the EPO’s current sordid state of affairs, which sometimes seems uninterruptible, no matter the severity of EPO abuses and respected courts’ rulings on them

Several days ago we dropped some hints about this new long series about the EPO's current President. He is connected not just to Christine Lagarde but to a wide array of people whose power is beyond doubt and by far exceeds Lagarde’s. A year ago, on December 12th (2014) to be precise, we mentioned Battistelli’s roots at École nationale d’administration, which was created in 1945 by Charles de Gaulle and boasts a lot of powerful people. François Hollande, Emmanuel Macron, Jacques Chirac and many others are among the better known alumni.

“Our story begins with Battistelli and Lagarde.”In order to understand the EPO‘s ability to get away with almost every conceivable abuse (quite the sloeber as Belgian TV put this) it is imperative that we speak about who it is really serving and who it is run by.

Earlier this month we started to research the sloeber’s background — that’s Battistelli by the way — and investigated various allegations, asking numerous sources around the world in order to verify and ensure nothing leaves leeway for the EPO to threaten me again. We now feel ready and comfortable enough to publicly comment on this sloeber’s past.

In order to add some context to this series, we shall begin with Battistelli’s recent past in INPI, before the suspicious diaspora from INPI to the EPO.

Our story begins with Battistelli and Lagarde. The link between Lagarde and Battistelli is relatively easy to explain. Lagarde was the Minister of Economic Affairs, Finance and Employment from 2007 to 2011 serving in the government of the Prime Minister Francois Fillon. The French National Intellectual Property Office (INPI) came under her ministerial remit so she would have been Battistelli’s political “boss” in his then role of Director-General of the INPI.

“Some background information about Lagarde may be needed for the uninitiated.”Lagarde supported Battistelli’s candidacy as EPO President and issued a congratulatory press release following his election in 2010. See “Christine LAGARDE se réjouit de l’élection de Benoît BATTISTELLI à la présidence de l’Office européen des brevets”.

Some background information about Lagarde may be needed for the uninitiated. Lagarde was appointed as Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the 5th of July, 2011. Previously she had been Minister of Economic Affairs, Finance and Employment serving in the government of the Prime Minister Francois Fillon from 2007 to 2011. Before pursuing a career in French politics she had worked for about 25 years in the United States for the international law firm Baker & McKenzie (from 1981 to 2005).

French critics of Lagarde considered her to be a promoter of US and multinational corporate interests in France and Europe rather than a defender of French or European interests. See for example the following article (in French) which was published on Réseau Voltaire in 2005. It says: “En supposant que Christine Lagarde ait abandonné ses fonctions précédentes sans l’intention d’y retourner, on pourrait admettre qu’elle ne se place pas dans un conflit d’intérêts. Cependant, au vu des positions politiques défendues par les groupes de travail qu’elle a présidé, on ne peut que constater qu’elle est en totale opposition avec la position française défendue par Dominique de Villepin à l’ONU.”

“French critics of Lagarde considered her to be a promoter of US and multinational corporate interests in France and Europe rather than a defender of French or European interests.”Well, here is a link to an English version of the “Voltaire Network” article from 2005 about Lagarde. In English it says: “Only supposing that Christine Lagarde abandoned her former duties and that she has no intentions of going back to them, would it be possible to admit that we are not witnessing a case of conflict of interests. However, when the political positions defended by the groups she presided over are analyzed, it is impossible to ignore that they are completely against the French position defended by Dominique de Villepin before the United Nations.”

There is a lot more in that article.

Lagarde appears to have been a regular attendee of the annual Bilderberg Conference from about 2009 onwards when she attended as a member of the French government. More recently she has attended in her capacity as Managing Director of the IMF [1, 2].

In part two we will proceed to speaking more about Lagarde and the current EPO President. It may well go back to INPI. Anyone who can provide additional input as this series proceeds, please come forth…

The Open Invention Network and Software Patents

Posted in OIN, Patents at 7:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The Open Invention Network’s latest addition and resultant publicity calls for a timely explanation of its goals and its inherent weaknesses

THE Open Invention Network, or OIN for short, recently did a publicity stunt because it had turned 10. I spoke to the OIN on numerous occasions (phone, E-mail), but I was never able to see the logic of their strategy, nor was I able to see a single example where they foiled a patent attack on Linux. They might argue that they are merely a deterrent, but with only barks and no bites, how much of a deterrent can they ever be? They’re 100% ineffective against patent trolls, including satellites of aggressors such as Microsoft. They weren’t even effective against Oracle’s patent aggression (direct action).

“As longtime readers may know too well, we’re not against patents but against software patents.”A few days ago I found this article/press release which said: “Today Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation are joining the Open Invention Network as community members. Linux and Open Source software are becoming a mainstay in automotive computing. With the first global automotive companies joining OIN, a trend has been set towards Open Source collaboration and patent non-aggression in the automotive industry. The news is in the press here on Yahoo Finance, here on Fortune.com and in many other places.”

As we have pointed out numerous times over the years, among OIN backers there are many software patents proponents, and it’s not just IBM. They serve to legitimise these patents rather than battle to put an end to them. That’s what OIN is often all about. It sets apart so-called ‘good’ software patents — ones that are supposed to be incapable of attacking Linux (Oracle refuted this claim when it attacked Android despite its OIN membership).

As longtime readers may know too well, we’re not against patents but against software patents. This positions of ours is supported by the vast majority of software professionals. Surely there are some problems with today’s patent systems as a whole (scope and motivation gone awry), but this oughtn’t be interpreted as a case for abolition of all patents. The Onion has this new satire on “How To File A Patent”. It has some funny bits in it like “Wait one to two decades” (for A patent to be granted) and “carefully review patent legal documents, occasionally stopping to nod your head as if you understand what they mean” (if they’re written in legal terms, patent lawyers sometimes become necessary, i.e. a tax).

We hope that patent examiners too will agree with us that not all domains should have patents in them, e.g. genetics and software. Over-patenting leads to devaluation, cheapening, self-discretisation, and retardation of innovation. We don’t expect patent lawyers — collectively speaking — to ever agree with us because to them it’s clearly a case of the more (patents), the merrier. Thankfully, there are some patent lawyers who have been enlightened by the former group, especially after decisions such as Alice in the United States. Some of our sources in the campaign to change the EPO are actually patent lawyers.

EPO No Longer in the ‘Business’ of Just Granting Patents But Politics and Lobbying Also

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

The European Patent Office became a political-corporate body

EPO for UPC

Summary: An interpretation of the EPO’s ambitions (at the managerial level) and how it relates to its bizarre role inside the EU (back in the latter’s infancy)

OVER the weekend, due to an unprecedented backlog (we receive a lot of material), we published almost a dozen articles, mostly about the EPO (see our Wiki for a complete list of these articles). Both on Saturday and on Sunday we took note of UPC lobbying by Battistelli, which wasn’t exactly news to us. We wrote about EPO lobbying for the Unitary Patent several times before, e.g. [1, 2], and this previous lobbying served to show that — to use SUEPO’s older words — the EPO is "out of control".

“The I.U. or Control Risks might be exempted from these Office-wide bans and we already know, based on accusations against staff representatives, that Techrights is really worrying to both the I.U. and Control Risk.”Just before the weekend we implemented new anti-DDOS (or DDOS prevention/mitigation) techniques and this morning, despite the fact that Techrights has been banned from inside EPO networks, IP addresses from inside the EPO (unambiguously registered as “European Patent Office”) got banned for traffic floods. The I.U. or Control Risks might be exempted from these Office-wide bans and we already know, based on accusations against staff representatives, that Techrights is really worrying to both the I.U. and Control Risks. The latter might be able to use parallel construction to gather ‘evidence’, in our humble assessment — a subject of ongoing discussion [1, 2]. If these aren’t the symptoms of a out-of-control public service, what is?

Someone has sent us several pointers suggesting that the EPO has been out of control for quite a long time.

To quote Jean-Dominique Giuliani, président de la Fondation Robert Schuman:

On ne peut donc exclure de voir se développer, sous le contrôle de la Cour de justice, voire du Parlement ou de la seule Cour des Comptes européenne, des Autorités indépendantes qui réguleraient le marché intérieur ou même qui jugeraient des contentieux spécialisés en première instance. C’est une évolution qui a commencé. Déjà la Banque centrale européenne échappe au contrôle de la Commission. L’Office européen des Brevets ne relève pas de sa compétence. Sur les 31 agences de l’Union, trois seulement relèvent de programmes communautaires, 6 dépendent du « troisième pilier », c’est-à-dire de la coopération intergouvernementale et les 22 autres « agences communautaires » disposent, pour certaines d’entre elles, d’une quasi-indépendance comme l’Agence européenne des médicaments.
Il y a de fortes probabilités pour que les nouvelles compétences européennes, et même certaines plus anciennes, relèvent dans un avenir proche de régulateurs européens. Pensons à l’énergie, à la télévision, aux télécommunications. Ces évolutions conditionnent les changements qui pourraient intervenir dans ce qu’il est convenu d’appeler la « méthode communautaire ».

Here is one in English. Herein (Internet/Web Archive) Richard Poynder discusses the European patent system with Gert Kolle, Director for International Legal Affairs at the European Patent Office in May 2000:

RP: I have seen it suggested that the Community patent should be combined with the EPO system, and the EPO made an EU organisation. Is that a likely way forward?
GK: This is of course a highly political question. Certainly so far no such proposal has been made officially. Rather it is likely there will be an agreement between the EU and the EPO, which would specify what our tasks were in carrying out the regulation of the Community patent.

Alfons Schäfers, German lawyer and representative of Deutsche Vereinigung für gewerblichen Rechtsschutz und Urheberrecht (GRUR), was interviewed [PDF] by SUEPO and said:

Suepo: What should the relationship between the EU and EPO?

Alfons Schäfers: The EPO should become part of the European Union, like the OHIM in Alicante. To keep the EPO outside that framework is quite ridiculous at a time when the EU is expanding to the political and historical boundaries of Europe. The EU institutions — especially the European Parliament, must be given the wherewithal to exercise firm democratic control and to frame and implement European patent legislation. That is the only way to overcome the European Parliament’s growing suspicion of patent law.

Regarding the European Patent, as it was known at some point (the name changed many times over the years), here is a classic:

5.1. General structure of the European patent

Do you share the view that the current structure of the European Patent Office, a body which is independent of the Community institutions, does not entail disadvantages for users which should be overcome through a different legal structure which is more closely integrated into Community law?

No, the chemical industry does not share this view, as the current structure is wrong. The EPO should become an EU Institution, and pursue its task to manage the European patent, which is a bundled one, and run as well the new Community unitary patent. It should be run efficiently and at running costs. Arrangements should be made with those countries which are not member of the EU so that they still have access to the European patent.

Source: Web Archive [PDF]

Notice just how far back it all goes.

“Who needs ludicrous stuff like I.S.D.S. when you have the EPO Trojan horse right inside the government, complete with politicians and political connections, not to mention spies (like covert operations), immunity from the law, and exemptions from basic human rights?”From being merely a quasi-private institution (we have future articles about it) the EPO has become part of the state and now serves multinational corporations. Who needs ludicrous stuff like I.S.D.S. when you have the EPO Trojan horse right inside the government, complete with politicians and political connections, not to mention spies (like covert operations), immunity from the law, and exemptions from basic human rights? Remember that, moreover, the EPO is a state-mandated monopoly, so it’s effectively “too big to fail”.

The EPO is worse than the Vatican. At least the Vatican isn’t a corporate entity but a religious one. The Vatican does not have a suicides epidemic, either.

Links 14/12/2015: KDE Frameworks 5.17.0, ‘Referendum’ on GPL Enforcement

Posted in News Roundup at 5:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Hints For Successfully Managing an Open Source Project

    Today I want to change things a bit: instead of covering a technical subject, I want to share with you what it means to run an open source project

    For more than two years, my friend David Rousset and I have led Babylon.js. We started the project after hearing that IE11 would support WebGL and we wanted to make it easier for people to build 3D scenes and games. For the following two years I spent all of my spare time making Babylon.js a simple and powerful 3D engine for web developers.

  • Western Digital Labs and ownCloud
  • Person of The Year 2015 in the Linux/OpenSource Community: Open Voting

    Year 2015 ends. Taking time to honor those peoples who work in Linux and Open Source community and don’t have deserved popularity. Maybe you use everyday several products from these peoples – this is your personal chance to say “thank you”.

  • Why William Hill is betting on open source rather than traditional IT vendors for digital transformation

    William Hill is moving away from traditional IT vendor relationships as it seeks to modernise its business, choosing to build applications internally using open source technologies pioneered by internet giants such as Google and Facebook.

  • Staking a career on open source software’s success

    I have enjoyed reading the stories others have shared about how they got started with open source software, so I thought I’d add mine. It is different in that I came to open source purely for business reasons. While I later embraced the open source way for reasons such as personal freedom and community, my initial exposure to it came from trying to find the best solution to a business problem.

  • Events

    • Extension: FOSDEM 2016 Desktops DevRoom Call for Talks

      The FOSDEM Organization has graciously given devroom organizers a little extension. We are therefore extending our own deadline for the Desktops DevRoom: the new deadline is December 14th. There will be no further extensions.

    • TADHack Paris – 12-13 December 2015

      I’m currently in Paris for TADHack, an opportunity to collaborate on a range of telephony APIs and services. People can also win prizes by doing something innovative with the platforms promoted by the sponsors.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

    • Google tries to spread the SQL cloud love

      Google has unveiled the next gen of its Cloud SQL service, a hosted version of the MySQL database.

      The second generation Beta Cloud SQL is more than seven times faster than the first generation of Cloud SQL. And it scales to 10TB of data, 15,000 IOPS and 104GB of RAM per instance.

      The first generation of Cloud SQL was launched in October 2011 .

  • Education

    • Dear parents: Let your kids use open source software

      A 16-year-old boy recently asked the r/Linux community for advice. When his parents discovered that he’d reloaded his laptop with Linux, they were horrified—after all, this “free” software must certainly be riddled with viruses and/or hackers. It didn’t help matters any that he’d “ruined” an expensive gift, and was no longer using some of the expensive software that had been purchased with it. He tried to talk to them about it, but it was tough—he was the teenager; they were the adults.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Facebook’s custom AI hardware will be open-source, ready for Skynet

      While most artificial intelligence is powered by software, as the software gets more sophisticated, it relies on more powerful and sophisticated hardware to execute its needs. The social network will reportedly submit all the relevant design materials to the Open Compute Project, an organization that manages the sharing of datacenter infrastructure designs. “They’ve designed quite an elegant solution that can fully power and cool that number of GPUs and deliver maximum performance”.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • A referendum on GPL enforcement

      One of the key provisions of the GNU General Public License (GPL) is that derivative products must also be released under the GPL. A great many companies rigorously follow the terms of the license, while others avoid GPL-licensed software altogether because they are unwilling to follow those terms. Some companies, though, seem to feel that the terms of the GPL do not apply to them, presenting the copyright holder with two alternatives: find a way to get those companies to change their behavior, or allow the terms of the license to be flouted. In recent times, little effort has gone into the first option; depending on the results of an ongoing fundraising campaign, that effort may drop to nearly zero. We would appear to be at a decision point with regard to how (and whether) we would like to see GPL enforcement done within our community.

    • For the love of bits, stop using gzip!

      So, who *does* use xz? kernel.org. Also, the linux kernel itself optionally supports xz compression of initrd images. Vendors just need to pay attention and turn the flags on. Anyone else want to be part of the elite field of people who use xz? Please?

  • Openness/Sharing

    • ROS, the Robot Operating System, Is Growing Faster Than Ever, Celebrates 8 Years

      Eight years ago, Morgan Quigley, Eric Berger, and Andrew Ng published a paper that was not about ROS. It was about STAIR, the STanford Artificial Intelligence Robot, which used a library called Switchyard to pass messages between software modules to perform complex manipulation tasks like stapler grasping. Switchyard was a purpose-built framework that was designed to be modular and robot-independent, and it was such a good idea that in 2009, “ROS: An Open-Source Robot Operating System” was presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Japan. As of this month, the paper introducing ROS has been cited 2,020 times, an increase of more than 50 percent over last year.

    • The Cryptocurrency Open Source API Marketplace for Developers

      The API economy is the reality we live in and it’s an enormous one that, once the Internet of Things kicks into full gear, will feature an infinite number of API calls a day. But as we globalize, the world and the products—in this case APIs—we sell in it become more complicated and often more expensive as we factor in all the friction of exchange rates and credit card micropayments. It’s in everybody’s interest to smooth over that friction so developers can access our APIs or application programming interfaces more easily.

    • Open Hardware

      • OSWatch, an open source watch

        If you are a soldering ninja with a flair for working with tiny parts and modules, check out the Open Source Watch a.k.a. OSWatch built by [Jonathan Cook]. His goals when starting out the project were to make it Arduino compatible, have enough memory for future applications, last a full day on one charge, use BLE as Central or Peripheral and be small in size. With some ingenuity, 3d printing and hacker skills, he was able to accomplish all of that.

  • Programming

    • Git 2.6.3 A Lot Of New Features And Fixes
    • Django awarded MOSS Grant

      We’ve been awarded $150,000 to help fund the development of Channels, the initiative to rewrite the core of Django to support (among other things) WebSockets and background tasks, and to integrate key parts of the Django REST Framework request/response code into Django, such as content negotiation. Together, these projects will help considerably improve Django’s role of backing rich web experiences as well as native applications.

    • Go vs Node vs Rust vs Swift

      Some days ago ago Apple released Swift as open source language with instructions for Ubuntu Linux 15.10. So I decided to do a couple of simple benchmarks just to test some basic general purpose things like cpu, functions, read/write and not sequential access to arrays, concurrent parallel execution where possibile.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Auto-Generating Clickbait With Recurrent Neural Networks

    “F.D.R.’s War Plans!” reads a headline from a 1941 Chicago Daily Tribune. Had this article been written today, it might rather have said “21 War Plans F.D.R. Does Not Want You To Know About. Number 6 may shock you!”. Modern writers have become very good at squeezing out the maximum clickability out of every headline. But this sort of writing seems formulaic and unoriginal. What if we could automate the writing of these, thus freeing up clickbait writers to do useful work?

  • Twitter Aims to Show Advertising to Much Wider Audience

    Twitter has long argued that its reach and influence extends far beyond the 320 million people who log into its social media service at least once a month. Tweets are embedded on thousands of other websites and apps, emailed, displayed on television and published in newspapers.

  • Microsoft is in an apologetic mood right now — what next? ‘Sorry for Windows 10′?

    Sorry may be the hardest word, but it seems to be tripping off Microsoft’s tongue quite freely at the moment. Maybe it’s the holiday season making the company look at itself, but we’ve had two apologies in recent days — first, a semi-apology for stealing OneDrive storage from people, and now it’s sorry about the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4.

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Meat industry ignores FDA, health experts, buys more antibiotics

      Despite recent efforts by health experts, doctors, and the Food and Drug Administration to pull the meat industry away from its heavy use of antimicrobials, livestock producers seem to have dug in their heels.

      From 2009 to 2014, the amount of antimicrobials sold and distributed for use in livestock increased by 22 percent, according to an FDA report released Thursday. Of the antimicrobials sold in 2014, 62 percent were related to drugs used in human health, also called medically important. From 2009 to 2014, sale and distribution of medically important antimicrobials used on farms also jumped—an increase of 23 percent.

      That brings the 2014 total of antimicrobials sold for US livestock to 15,358,210 kilograms, including 9,475,989 kilograms of medically important drugs, according to the report.

  • Security

    • The Joy of Getting Hacked

      Two weeks ago, the server I host all my personal projects on was hacked by some guy in Ukraine.

    • Microsoft Edge has inherited many of Internet Explorer’s security holes

      We’re all anxiously awaiting the day that Windows 10′s new Edge browser becomes usable. That hasn’t happened yet, but it will some day next year. Microsoft Edge should represent a huge improvement in browser security, particularly when compared with the ancient, creaking, and leaky Internet Explorer. Recent events, though, have me wondering if Edge really represents that big of a step forward.

    • DEF CON 23 – Runa Sandvik, Michael Auger – Hacking a Linux-Powered Rifle

      TrackingPoint is an Austin startup known for making precision-guided firearms. These firearms ship with a tightly integrated system coupling a rifle, an ARM-powered scope running a modified version of Linux, and a linked trigger mechanism. The scope can follow targets, calculate ballistics and drastically increase its user’s first shot accuracy. The scope can also record video and audio, as well as stream video to other devices using its own wireless network and mobile applications.

    • Supporting secure DNS in glibc
    • TLS in the kernel

      An RFC patch from Dave Watson at Facebook proposes moving the bulk of Transport Layer Security (TLS) processing into the kernel. There are a number of advantages he sees for doing so, but most of the commenters on the patch set seem a bit skeptical about the idea. TLS is, of course, the encryption layer that protects HTTPS and other internet protocols.

    • Let’s Encrypt Stats
    • December ’15 security fixes for Adobe Flash
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • How Indonesian fires are affecting global climate

      Raging fires in Indonesia’s forests and peat lands since July this year are precipitating a climate and public-health catastrophe with repercussions across local, regional and global levels, experts told IndiaSpend.

      Acrid smoke and haze have enveloped Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, and have reached Thailand, choking people, reducing visibility and spiking respiratory illnesses, according to Susan Minnemeyer, Mapping and Data Manager for Washington-based World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Global Forest Watch Fires initiative.

    • Peat fires travel underground – the Indonesian disaster

      When I landed in Palangkaraya, the capital of the Indonesian province of central Borneo, in early September the smoke was already fairly thick. I was surprised they hadn’t cancelled the flight on seeing the ground suddenly come into view what seemed like a few seconds before landing.

      The smoky smell and thick warm air was something I recognised from 2011, the last El Niño year to hit the region (causing an extended dry season). There was definitely something of a “here we go again” sentiment from the locals I knew there too. My friend Yuyus texted: “selamat datang di kota asap” when I told him I’d arrived – welcome to smoke town. Within the next two days, all flights to and from the town had been grounded.

    • Fires Caused These Massive Plumes of Carbon Monoxide to Appear Over Indonesia

      Tens of thousands of wildfires ravaged Indonesia in September and October. A sizable portion of these blazes was smoldering subterranean peat fires, which sent toxic gas and particulate matter into the atmosphere. This new map shows the extensive spread of one particularly nasty gas: carbon monoxide.

      Wildfires in Indonesia are particularly troublesome. Unlike “conventional” forest fires, these fires smolder under the surface, making it extremely difficult to extinguish; it usually takes a good downpour during the rainy season to put them out. Making matters worse, these peat-fueled fires release far more smoke and air pollution than most other types of wildfires.

    • California in overdraft

      Two decades ago, the rolling hills of Paso Robles were mostly covered with golden grass and oak trees. Now the hills and valleys are blanketed with more than 32,000 acres of grapevines.

      Surging demand for wine has brought an explosion of vineyards, and along with it heavy pumping of groundwater. With the water table dropping, many people have had to cope as their taps have sputtered and their wells have gone dry.

    • Meteorologist Dr. Marshall Shepherd Explains How Historic Climate Agreement Will Have Positive Cascading Effects For Decades
  • Finance

    • Bill with passport and third-party tax collection provisions passes Congress

      The act creates a new Sec. 7345 that requires the secretary of State to deny, revoke, or limit the passport of any person who the IRS certifies has a seriously delinquent tax debt. “Seriously delinquent tax debt” is defined as an outstanding tax debt in excess of $50,000 (adjusted for inflation) for which a notice of lien or a levy has been filed, unless the individual is making timely payments under an agreement with the IRS or collection is suspended because a Collection Due Process hearing or innocent spouse relief has been requested or is pending. This provision is effective upon enactment.

    • Desperately seeking Satoshi Nakamoto

      In 2008, someone calling themselves Satoshi Nakamoto posted a paper describing the workings of what would become the world’s most important digital cryptocurrency, bitcoin. Two months later, he posted the code for the first version of the software that would allow people to create and exchange the currency.

      The paper was revolutionary because it brought together ideas that people had been working on in the area of digital currencies. It solved the problem of exchanging money in a safe and secure way, without having to trust third parties or even the other person in the deal.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • What I told the kid who wanted to join the NSA
    • ‘I want to join the NSA. What do you think of that?’

      In September, I spent a day at the United States military academy at West Point, an elite, 213-year-old academic institution. I’d been invited to lecture by the Army Cyber Institute, a new academic department that focuses on cybersecurity and policies related to the military implications of attacking and defending electronic infrastructure.

      It’s not my usual speaking gig. I grew up as an organiser in the anti-nuclear-weapons movement; my experience of the military mostly revolves around protesting outside bases, not being invited inside them. West Point was the first military audience I’d ever addressed, yet I’d heard that they have used my young-adult novel Little Brother, which concerns net-savvy kids in San Francisco who form an underground movement to resist Homeland Security incursions on civil liberties following a terrorist attack.

      West Point is an American oddity: a leafy, ancient (by US standards) campus on a lazy river with academic standards to match any Big Ten or Ivy League university, but with a student body that is far more likely to come from racial minorities and poor people than any of America’s notoriously high-ticket educational institutions. I’ve done teaching stints at American universities where annual tuition ran to $50,000, and the contrasts between the student body at those schools and West Point could be the subject of a dissertation on American history, sociology, race relations or economics.

    • AP FACT CHECK: GOP hopefuls overstating on NSA phone records

      In the wake of the California shootings, Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Lindsey Graham are complaining that U.S. intelligence agencies have lost their authority to collect phone records on Americans under a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program. They want the government to bring that program back.

    • Rubio Doubles Down on Repealing NSA Restrictions

      Florida Sen. Marco Rubio amped his criticism Friday of the Obama administration’s support for restrictions to a major National Security Agency surveillance program, and joined with fellow Republicans to call for increasing the agency’s powers in the wake of recent deadly shootings in Paris and California inspired by the Islamic State.

    • Cruz Defends Dictators, NSA Limits in Security Speech

      Taking on critics in his own party, Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz on Thursday defended Middle East dictators as useful allies against Islamic extremists during a Washington address decrying political correctness and stricter gun laws as an impediment to national security.

    • Ted Cruz rejects demands to revive NSA surveillance after San Bernardino

      Ted Cruz has launched a stinging attack on fellow Republicans who have demanded the return of mass telephone surveillance in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attack.

    • Libertarian hero: ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’, government funds, the NSA and the DHS

      It’s more than a little odd seeing the world hail their libertarian hero, mourn that he was “arrested for inventing Bitcoin”* (as is being claimed on Twitter), and find that he ate government money like a horse.

    • ‘Probable’ Bitcoin Creator Is A Garrulous Government Security Contractor And Is In Legal Trouble

      As the old adage has it, never meet your heroes. If Craig Steven Wright, an Australian serial entrepreneur, really is the creator of Bitcoin, then lovers of the world’s most popular cryptocurrency are going to be a little disappointed: Satoshi Nakamoto is not the man you thought he was.

      Reporters from Wired and Gizmodo have unmasked someone who has been a long-time purveyor of business cliches, someone who claims to be one of the most certified security professionals on the planet, and, rather than working against government, appears to have done plenty of work for the establishment. He even claimed to have relationships with employees at the NSA. As both publications admit, however, it could all be one elaborate ruse.

    • This Is What The NSA Told Their Employees About Digital Currencies, In 1995

      If news goes unnoticed for years, is it still new news, especially if the present brings new perspectives to light? While researching another article I came across an internal NSA document that was written in 1995 and declassified in 2008, not long before the invention of Bitcoin. The document, which is publicly available on the NSA website, is a weekly internal newsletter for NSA employees called Communicator and in it, they discuss the early iterations of digital currencies that were make headway at the time, specifically David Chaum’s Digicash.

    • James Clapper has found another reason why he lied about NSA spying

      Director of National Intelligence James Clapper now has a fifth reason for why he lied to the US Congress over the NSA’s spying program: he just plain forgot it existed.

      Speaking during a panel discussion last week, Clapper’s general counsel Robert Litt said that Clapper had not had time to prepare an answer to the question posed to him by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) about storing data on Americans.

    • Terrorist attacks don’t warrant return to mass NSA spying, McCaul says

      The terrorist attacks in California and Paris should not spur Congress to reinstate the mass surveillance of Americans’ phone records, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul said Wednesday.

      But McCaul, R-Texas, said phone companies may need to keep customer data longer to help federal agents investigate terrorists such as the couple that carried out the mass shooting last week in San Bernardino. Federal agents have complained that a new law reining in the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone data limited how many years of phone records they could analyze in the San Bernardino case.

    • Researchers Found Windows’ Malware Similar To The One Used by NSA

      NSA’s one of the known snooping tactics is installing a malware into hard drive’s firmware which makes the deletion of the malware nearly impossible even the malware can avoid formatting of the hard drive.

      Nemesis is a malware that can be used for similar purposes as it can avoid clean-up software and can even avoid reinstalling of windows altogether by hiding behind boot records, according to FireEye.

    • Inside the NSA’s hunt for hackers

      When America’s premier federal security recruiters go fishing for new technical talent, they have plenty of lures to dangle. There’s the patriotic mission; the promise of a government salary; the thrill of working under the hood on the country’s classified cyber mechanics.

      And then there’s the pile of free purple and orange pens.

      At a recent job fair in this city’s cavernous convention center, the National Security Agency set up an eight-foot-long folding table and covered it with a black cloth and assorted pieces of schwag, trying to rope in coders and tech experts. “Push the limits of innovation,” read one of its posters. Brochures touted a mission producing results “that you might see on the nightly news,” like disrupting a terrorist attack, catching international drug traffickers or preventing a crippling cyberattack.

    • Original NSA Whistleblower Russ Tice: NSA Targeted Barack Obama

      Tice stated that the NSA is lying that they are only collecting the meta-data of USA citizens, and that the entire contents of every single form of communication in the United States is illegally and unconstitutionally spied upon and recorded by the NSA.

      Tice made the shocking allegations that the NSA is specifically targeting Congressmen, Supreme Court Justices, and that the NSA has targeted and wire-tapped President Obama while he was campaigning prior to being elected!

    • Join Us as We Dive with Trevor Paglen 70 Feet Underwater and See NSA-Tapped Cables

      I’m flopping in my fins toward my first scuba dive in the ocean, accompanying artist Trevor Paglen on a mission to the ocean floor. We’re heading 70 feet down off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The captain asks me how I’m feeling.

      “Scared,” I say with a shrug, as if to say, How else would I feel?

      “Remember,” he tells me, “Jacques Cousteau did not die from diving. He died an old man.”

      When I hit the water, though, the anxiety is gone, and I am going slowly into the deep, hand over hand along a yellow rope.

    • How the NYPD is using social media to put Harlem teens behind bars

      Asheem and Jelani, were born exactly one year apart to the day, in the warm Junes of 1991 and ‘92. “I always felt there was something special about that,” says their mother Alethia. “A little bit of magic.” The two grew up together in their mother’s small apartment on the corner of 129th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard in New York’s Harlem neighborhood.

      As young children, the brothers were good friends with kids from all over Harlem. But as they matured into adolescent young men, a set of once-invisible rivalries began to surface. The True Money Gang from the Johnson Houses was at war with the Air It Out crew from the Taft Houses. Crews from Grant and Manhattanville projects exchanged gunfire in the streets. As he grew up, Jelani looked forward to leaving the neighborhood for school, “So I didn’t have to look behind my back every two seconds to see if someone about to bash me in the head,” he says.

    • Facebook offices in Hamburg vandalised

      Vandals have damaged the entrance to a building in Hamburg that houses the offices of social network Facebook, smashing glass, throwing paint and spraying “Facebook dislike” on a wall, according to police in the northern German city.

      Police said in a statement on Sunday that the overnight attack was carried out by a group of 15-20 people wearing black clothes and hoods. An investigation has been launched. Facebook was not immediately available to comment.

    • Privacy hawks turn to White House in encryption fight

      Privacy advocates are leaning on the White House to counter lawmakers’ renewed efforts to pass encryption-piercing legislation in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.

      Despite a lack of direct evidence the technology played a role in either incident, lawmakers continue to use both deadly plots to promote a bill that would force companies to decrypt data upon request.

      The tactic has left technologists and privacy advocates frustrated, even outraged.

      In a meeting with privacy and civil liberties groups on Thursday, the Obama administration said it was preparing to issue an updated stance on encryption policy in the coming weeks, giving the pro-encryption community hope it might have a new ally in its fight.

    • FBI director renews push for back doors, urging vendors to change business models

      The FBI still wants backdoors into encrypted communications, it just doesn’t want to call them backdoors and it doesn’t want to dictate what they should look like.

      FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he’d been in talks with unspecified tech leaders about his need to crack encrypted communications in order to track down terrorists and that these leaders understood the need.

    • Congresswoman Asks Feds Why They Pressured a Library to Disable Its Tor Node

      A Congresswoman from California is questioning Department of Homeland Security officials who put pressure on a local public library to take down the relay node it had set up for the anonymity network Tor.

      You may recall back in September, when the Kilton Public Library in Lebanon, New Hampshire briefly disabled its Tor relay after meeting with local police, who had received a tip from agents with Homeland Security’s investigations branch warning that the network can be used by criminals. Relay nodes act as the middle points of the Tor network, whose layers of encryption allow activists, journalists, human rights workers, and average citizens (and, yes, criminals) to access the Internet anonymously. The more nodes, the faster the network becomes.

      The fearmongering backfired spectacularly: the Lebanon library unanimously voted to restore its Tor relay and announced plans to convert it into a Tor exit node, one of the essential gateways which provides the last “hop” allowing Tor users to anonymously connect to Internet sites and services. More than a dozen other libraries around the U.S. also piled on, declaring their intention to run Tor nodes of their own in defiance.

      Now Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is asking just what the hell compelled the DHS to intervene.

    • The Secrets of an Abandoned Microwave Tower in Kansas

      A mysterious AT&T relic reveals connections between telecommunications infrastructure and the Cold War.

    • Elon Musk and other Silicon Valley investors to open AI research center

      In an interview following the launch of OpenAI, Musk explained how his new nonprofit was designed to help.

    • Cyber bill’s final language likely to anger privacy advocates

      Digital rights advocates are in an uproar as the final text of a major cybersecurity bill appears to lack some of the privacy community’s favored clauses.

      In the last few weeks, House and Senate negotiators have been working unofficially to reach a compromise between multiple versions of a cyber bill that would encourage businesses to share more data on hacking threats with the government.

    • Obama calls on tech giants to fight ISIS

      President could be referring to encryption debate

    • Government can’t find big needle in small haystack

      Since Edward Snowden revealed the federal government’s unlawful and unconstitutional use of federal statutes to justify spying on all in America all the time, including the members of Congress who unwittingly wrote and passed the statutes, I have been arguing that the Fourth Amendment prohibits all domestic spying, except that which has been authorized by a search warrant issued by a judge. The same amendment also requires that warrants be issued only based on a serious level of individualized suspicion backed up by evidence — called probable cause — and the warrants must specifically identify the place and person to be spied upon.

    • AP’s Ted Bridis Fact Checks His Own Bogus Claims, Now Being Repeated By Others, Admitting They’re False

      Earlier this week, we wrote about an absolutely ridiculous Associated Press story by reporter Ted Bridis, claiming that law enforcement investigating the San Bernardino shootings are being somehow held back because of the close of the NSA’s Section 215 phone records program. There were all sorts of problems with that story, so it’s great to see the Associated Press ask one of its enterprising young reporters — a guy who goes by the name Ted Bridis — to do a “fact check” piece on Republican Presidential candidates who are now repeating the very claims that Bridis himself made earlier in the week.

    • What the NSA Should Have Been
    • Edward Snowden to speak at CU via video chat

      Ron Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist will moderate the February 16 event from the Macky Auditorium. Attendees will be able to ask Snowden questions, but details about that process have not been released.

    • Jesse Ventura: NSA Violates the Constitution

      The FBI has used a secretive authority to compel Internet and telecommunications firms to hand over customer data including an individual’s complete web browsing history and records of all online purchases, a court filing shows.

      The NSA is violating the Fourth Amendment: Reasonable search and seizure. They’re providing none. They have no reasonable warrant to do this.

    • The Online Habits That Trigger NSA Spying

      TOR is an encryption network developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in the 1990s. The military’s hope was to enable government workers to search the web without exposing their locations and identities. The system today is widely available, runs on open-source code, and is popular among privacy advocates as a more secure alternative to open Internet surfing, particularly in countries with repressive regimes. It works by encrypting the user’s address and routing the traffic through servers that are located around the world (so-called “onion routing.”) How does the NSA access it? Through a computer system called XKeyscore, one of the various agency surveillance tools that NSA leaker Edward Snowden disclosed last summer.

    • * Obama Speech Translated * AP’s NSA “Propaganda”

      Wheeler writes widely about the legal aspects of the “war on terror” and its effects on civil liberties. She blogs at emptywheel.net. She just wrote the piece “6 Responses to Why the AP’s Call Record Article Is So Stupid,” about the NSA’s monitoring of San Bernardino shooting suspect Tashfeen Malik which states: “The AP engaged in willful propaganda yesterday, in what appears to be a planned cutout role for the Marco Rubio campaign. Rubio’s campaign immediately pointed to the article to make claims they know — or should, given that Rubio is on the Senate Intelligence Committee — to be false, relying on the AP article. That’s the A1 cutout method Dick Cheney used to make false claims about aluminum tubes to catastrophic effect back in 2002.

    • Edward Snowden Would Rather Play Fallout 4 Than Correct AP Journalists

      The takeaway from the AP story is that investigators lost out on the NSA’s phone record dragnet when one of the NSA’s bulk collection programs expired, which would have allowed them to access five years of phone records on shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. Now, the AP story implies, they’re stuck obtaining records directly from phone companies under the USA Freedom Act.

    • Paul: ‘If Rubio Were Doing His Job’ He’d Know NSA Program Was Active Last 6 Months

      Host Chuck Todd said, “Senator, respond to something Marco Rubio said. He said the following a week ago, ‘We were still able to see the phone records of a potential terrorist cause, we held them, now you have to hope the phone company still has them, you have to argue with their chief counsel by the time you get access to it and find out who they’ve been talking to before it’s too late.’ You were on the forefront of trying to change this law. Any second thoughts?”

    • Senator Rand Paul: NSA program failed to prevent terror

      Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says the US National Security Agency’s program of collecting US citizens’ phone metadata has failed to thwart terrorist attacks or help detain criminals as had been claimed by the United States authorities.

    • Paul: ‘Authoritarians’ like Christie want to reinstate data collection
    • Paul: Christie is an ‘authoritarian’
    • Paul slams ‘authoritarian’ Christie over bulk data collection
    • Christie to Congress: Attach Restoration of NSA Program to Spending Bill
    • Rand Paul on NSA Data Collection: Is There Any Limit To What “Authoritarians” Like Chris Christie Will Give Up?
    • Rand Paul: NSA phone-snooping program didn’t prevent any attacks
    • Paul’s Libertarian Support Siphoned Off by Cruz
    • 3 GOP presidential-candidate stooges
    • Christie hits Obama, Congress over NSA surveillance
    • NSA bulk collection of phone records ended, or did it?

      Nov. 29 was the deadline for the end of NSA bulk collection of telephone records as established by the USA Freedom Act six months ago. This ended the Patriot Act, revealed by Edward Snowden, to have been the authority used to collect the bulk phone records of hundreds of millions of Americans, a certain big government invasion of privacy, which incensed civil libertarians. Libertarians and Constitutionalists, on Fourth Amendment concerns, led by Sen. Rand Paul brought the demise of the hated Patriot Act. This ends government surveillance of its citizens. Or does it?

      The USA Freedom Act called for a six-month transition period allowing NSA to continue bulk collection as before, but at its end NSA must only access targeted data from telephone providers with judicial approval. Unfortunately for Constitutionalists it, like its predecessor the Patriot Act, nullifies the 4th Amendment requirement of “probable cause” and thus is as unconstitutional as the law it replaced.

  • Civil Rights

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • Pirate Bay Founder: ‘I Have Given Up’

        “The internet is shit today. It’s broken. It was probably always broken, but it’s worse than ever.”

      • UK to Lengthen Copyright on Works of Artistic Craftsmanship

        The United Kingdom is holding a consultation as to when a provision of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 should take effect. Copyright in works of artistic craftsmanship—utilitarian objects (even if mass-produced) which are deemed artistic—shall be extended. Currently, the copyright lasts for 25 years after an item is first offered for sale; the new term will be for the life of the creator, then another 70 years. This means that some works which are now in the public domain will become copyrighted. Publishers of derivative works of such items, for example a book or film in which a work of artistic craftsmanship was photographed, will be obliged to obtain permissions, except for uses which fall under fair dealing.

      • Pirate Gets a Million YouTube Views, Everybody Benefits

        A pirate ordered to get 200,000 YouTube views or risk getting sued by companies including Microsoft has smashed his target. Against the odds Jakub F’s anti-piracy video now has more than a million views. Could it be that everyone involved – from corporations to pirates – have benefited from this exercise?

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