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Links 24/2/2016: Wine-Staging 1.9.4, CaffeOnSpark

Posted in News Roundup at 9:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • 5 tips for growing your developer community on GitHub

    You’ve done it: you’ve taken your own personal utility, library, or web application and placed it on GitHub as free and open source software for all the world to see.

    Maybe you wrote this software to fill a personal need, or maybe you’ve always hoped that it would reach more people. One thing’s certain: it’s always been yours, and yours alone—but the moment you pushed that code for the first time, your baby left the nest. What comes next is up to you.

  • BeeGFS Parallel File System Now Open Source
  • Let’s meet the 2016 OSI Board of Directors candidates!

    The nominations for the Open Source Initiative board of directors closed on February 15th and we are delighted to share our list of candidates with you!

    We are excited that so many people want to take part, and as such would like to introduce you to the candidates before voting opens on February 29th.

  • Web Browsers

    • on ditching css frameworks and preprocessors
    • Run Windows 98 And Linux In Your Web Browser, Thanks To JavaScript And NodeJS

      Short Bytes: A coder, known as Fabian on GitHub, has created x86 architecture based emulations that allow you to run Windows 98, Linux, KolibriOS etc. inside your browser.

    • Mozilla

      • A Mozilla journey: Contributor to Firefox Student Ambassadors executive board

        One thing that I have learned from working in the open source community is that you must never hesitate to ask for help. People are really very friendly, and finding the right mentor can prove to be immensely helpful in your life. Contributing to open source projects will only help you, so don’t waste too much time thinking about it. Take a leap of faith and dive into the community behind your favorite open source product. If you’re specifically interested in acquiring technical skills, there’s nothing a commit a day can’t solve! It also enhances your e-karma.

      • The case for an embeddable Gecko

        Strap yourself in, this is a long post. It should be easy to skim, but the history may be interesting to some. I would like to make the point that, for a web rendering engine, being embeddable is a huge opportunity, how Gecko not being easily embeddable has meant we’ve missed several opportunities over the last few years, and how it would still be advantageous to make Gecko embeddable.

      • Continuing the Conversation About Encryption and Apple: A New Video From Mozilla

        In the past week, the conversation about encryption has reached fever pitch. Encryption, Apple, and the FBI are in headlines around the world. And lively discussions about security and privacy are taking place around kitchen tables, on television, and in comment sections across the Internet.

        Mozilla believes the U.S. government’s demand for Apple to circumvent their own security protections is a massive overreach. To require Apple to do this would set a dangerous precedent that threatens consumer security going forward. But this discussion is an opportunity to broaden public understanding of encryption. When people understand the role encryption plays in their everyday lives, we can all stand up for encryption when threats surface — this key issue related to the overall health of the Internet becomes mainstream.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Don’t Laugh: Yahoo’s Open Source AI Has a Secret Weapon

      Yet another tech giant is sharing its artificial intelligence know-how with the world. Today Yahoo published the source code to its CaffeOnSpark AI engine so that anyone from academic researchers to big corporations can use or modify it.

    • Yahoo open-sources CaffeOnSpark deep learning framework for Hadoop

      Yahoo today is releasing some key artificial intelligence software (AI) under an open-source license. The company last year built a library called CaffeOnSpark to perform a popular type of AI called “deep learning” on the vast swaths of data kept in its Hadoop open-source file system for storing big data. Now it’s becoming available for anyone to use under an open-source Apache license on GitHub.

    • Google’s Managed Hadoop and Spark Cloud Service Goes Live

      Google has announced that its Cloud Dataproc service — a managed tool based on the Hadoop and Spark open source big data software — is now generally available. Google Cloud Dataproc, because it leverages both Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark, promises to be in strong demand, especially at enterprises.

      “When analyzing data, your attention should be focused on insights, not your tools,” Google notes. “Often, popular tools to process data, such as Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark, require a careful balancing act between cost, complexity, scale, and utilization. Unfortunately, this means you focus less on what is important — your data — and more on what should require little or no attention — the cluster processing it. We created our managed Spark and Hadoop cloud service, Google Cloud Dataproc, to rectify the balance, so that using these powerful data tools is as easy as 1-2-3.”

  • Databases

    • Vendor: ‘Governments moving to open source databases’

      Governments across the world are increasingly turning to Postgresql, an open source relational database management system, according to a press release by Enterprisedb. The company provides commercial services for the database system, and reports a hefty growth of its government contracts.

    • Introducing motranslator

      What changes you can expect? First of all it supports all current PHP versions. It also performs way better – in my tests loading of mo file is 4-5 times faster and memory consumption went down about 10 percent. You can additionally use object API instead of traditional function based.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • current LibreOffice native gtk3 elements

      LibreOffice typically basically has just one gtk widget per top level window and draws everything you see itself, using the gtk themeing apis to make what it draws look like they do in gtk.

      But there are some truly native gtk elements. Some of them new.

    • LibreOffice 5.1 Videos: Analytics

      For LibreOffice 5.1 we created a playlist of short videos highlighting some of the new features in action. At the time of writing, these videos have been viewed over 50,000 times in total. Here’s the breakdown:

      Calc: 15,346
      Impress: 12,275
      Writer: 25,229

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Facebook TIPs the Scales Toward Better Networking

      TIP will bring together telecommunications companies, infrastructure providers, system integrators and other technology companies, according to Jay Parikh, Facebook’s global head of engineering and infrastructure.

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD Intel Graphics Driver Gets BXT Support, Aims For A Blob-Free Skylake

      Thanks to the fabulous open-source graphics driver porting work done by François Tigeot, the DragonFlyBSD kernel’s i915 Intel DRM graphics driver is up to a comparable state to the code ported from the Linux 4.2 kernel.

      Just months ago the i915 DragonFlyBSD graphics driver was years behind the upstream Linux kernel while in recent times a lot of headway has been made where the Intel graphics driver on this BSD operating system is just a few releases behind the upstream state.


    • Software Freedom Conservancy, Others, Makes Case for FOSS at NY City Hall

      On Tuesday, representatives of four FOSS friendly agencies testified before a New York City committee considering bills that would mandate the use of FOSS by city government.

      “Free and open source software has many advantages over proprietary software,” Karen Sandler, the executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy, testified Tuesday before the New York City Council Committee on Contracts. “Studies show that, over time, free software is safer from vulnerabilities. Free software is auditable — security and functionality can be verified upon inspection. Anyone can independently assess the software and its risks. Developers can more easily and quickly repair discovered vulnerabilities or bugs (and bugs are very common in all software – the Software Engineering Institute estimates that an experienced software engineer produces approximately one defect for every 100 lines of code). Free software removes dependence on a single party, as anyone can make changes to their version of the software. And municipalities can hire any contractor on the open market to work on the software.”

    • ARM Adds Cortex-A32 Support To GCC Compiler

      ARM only announced the Cortex-A32 ARMv8 32-bit processor yesterday but already they’ve gone ahead and landed the support inside the GNU Compiler Collection.

      It’s not an entirely big surprise that there is already compiler support baked for the Cortex-A32 considering this is just an ultra power efficient cut-down version of the ARMv8 that runs in 32-bit mode. The ARMv8 64-bit support has been maturing in both GCC and LLVM/Clang for quite some time already. However, it’s nice to see the quick turnaround time by ARM on getting the support upstream.

    • denemo @ Savannah: Release 2.0.4 is imminent!

      new features:

      Conditional Directives on Chords/Notes
      Create editions with/without ornaments, fingerings …
      Conditional items are highlighted in the display
      Object Inspector reports on them
      Enhanced Object Editor
      Set Conditional Behavior
      Initiate Search/Edit from Object
      New Commands
      Gaps in Staffs
      Enharmonic transpositions of passages
      Generating Parts
      Part naming extended to multi-staff instruments

    • GDB 7.11 Released For Better GNU Debugging
  • Public Services/Government

    • Munich Greens: Linux is made a scapegoat for IT issues

      The Green party in Munich says the city’s use of the Linux operating system is wrongly being blamed for all IT issues. “The problem is usually not the operating system, but something else”, says Florian Roth, leader of the city’s Green Party. The party wants to increase support for the city’s central IT department, to bolster the open source strategy.

    • Portugal adds 20 eGovernment service access points

      The government of Portugal has opened another 20 Espaços do Cidadão (Citizen Spots), in town halls across 8 of its 18 districts. There are now almost 200 such eGovernment service access points across the country. Here citizens can go online to renew driving licences, apply for permits and request official documents.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Can we tackle the Zika virus with rapid, open research?

      One of the major issues with the Zika virus is that so little is known about it. That means that a lot of research has to be done very quickly.

      The Zika virus is at the heart of a global health emergency. It became a global health emergency after outbreaks began in 2015, and has possible links to birth defects. When the virus was first discovered in the late forties, human infections had been observed as early as 1952 according to Wikipedia.

    • Flanders services exchange eGovernment practices

      Municipalities and public service organisations in Belgium’s Flanders region are exchanging their eGovernment practices and ICT policies. Many municipalities are considering an overhaul of their websites in order to improve eGovernment services, reports the region’s ICT Organisation (V-ICT-OR). Additionally, local administrations are looking for solutions to manage meeting minutes, and want to boost IT security, V-ICT-OR says.

    • Open Data

      • Portugal to monitor public health through a national open data portal

        The National Health Service in Portugal (SNS – Serviço Nacional de Saüde) has set up an open data portal whose goal is to provide a dashboard to monitor the health of Portuguese people. Called Transparencia (Transparency), the portal gathers operational data generated or collected by the agencies of the national health system.

    • Open Access/Content

      • President Obama Nominates New Librarian Of Congress Who Supports Open Access, Fights Against Surveillance

        So here’s a pleasant surprise. President Obama has nominated Carla Hayden as the new Librarian of Congress, and at a first glance, she looks perfect for the job. The job is super important for a whole variety of reasons, including that the Librarian of Congress controls the Copyright Office (more on that in a bit…). The former Librarian of Congress, James Billington, was really bad. He apparently was mostly focused on hobnobbing with rich people in fancy places around the globe than doing anything useful. A report by the Government Accountability Office found a massive leadership vacuum with Billington when it came to technology issues, noting that he basically ignored technology entirely. When Billington announced he was retiring, the Washington Post reported that employees were absolutely elated…


  • NY Yankees Do Fans A ‘Favor’ By Preventing Them From Printing Their Tickets At Home

    As an avid sports fan, and more specifically an avid baseball fan, I can still remember the advent of home-printed tickets. My reaction was perhaps more elation than what was warranted, but having spent years going up to the Wrigley Field box office with my father and later my friends, the idea of being able to purchase tickets online and then print them at home in order to bypass the lines and go directly to the gate was exactly the kind of technological progress that, albeit small, meant something to me.

  • Canada Forcing Cheaper, More Flexible Pricing On TV Industry March 1. Will It Work?

    Starting next week, Canadian cable providers will be forced by the government to do something inherently and violently foreign to them: offer cheaper, more flexible cable bundles. In March of last year, Canadian regulator CRTC announced it would be combating high TV prices by forcing cable operators to offer cable channels a la carte, or so-called “skinny bundles” of cheaper cable channels, by December 2016. The CRTC’s full ruling declared that by March 2016, all Canadian TV providers must at least provide a $25, discounted skinny bundle, letting users pick and choose individual channels beyond that.

  • Science

  • Security

    • Hackers use Microsoft security tool to pwn Microsoft security tool

      FireEye security wonks Abdulellah Alsaheel and Raghav Pande have twisted the barrels of Microsoft’s lauded EMET Windows defence gun 180 degrees and fired.

      The result of their research is p0wnage of the enhanced mitigation toolkit so that instead of defending Windows it attacks it.

      The attacks the pair found affect older versions of Windows which rely on EMET for modern defences like address space layout randomisation and data execution prevention.

    • Is Linux Really as Secure as You Think It Is?

      Security is an important topic on everyone’s minds in today’s highly-technological world. With all of the security news that pops up on almost a daily basis, trying to be aware of the choices you make can make a big difference. Linux is often touted as the most secure operating system you can get your hands onto, but is this reputation deserved?

    • A Fedora Distribution download primer

      With the fresh news of a compromise in the Linux Mint distribution images, I thought I would take a few minutes to explain how Fedora handles image downloads and what you can do as an end user to make sure you have the correct and official Fedora images.

    • Mousejack: Hacking Computers Via Your Mouse With 15 Lines Of Code And Radio Dongle
    • How Criminals Could Hijack Wireless Mice to Hack Computers from Afar

      Wireless computer mice give users the convenience of not having to deal with cumbersome wires and cables. But they might also open up the door for malicious hackers to get a way into their computers, researchers warn.

      A flaw in the way several popular models of wireless mice and their corresponding receivers, the sticks or “dongles” that plug into a USB port and transmit data between the mouse and the computer, handle encryption could leave “billions” of computers vulnerable to hackers, security firm Bastille warned on Tuesday.

    • Child tracking firm calls out security researcher on ‘hack’

      A CHILD MONITORING COMPANY is mad as heck at a security researcher for highlighting a security problem without asking its consent first. Or something.

      The company in question is uKnowkids and its target is a chap called Chris Vickery, a security researcher. His crime? Security research.

      uKnowKids.com is a kind of virtual Mary Poppins. It does not put children in danger, like Mary Poppins, but it does look out for them and keep an eye on what they do by monitoring their communications and stuff.

      We imagine that in some circumstance it has got some children in trouble. This week it is getting an older person in trouble, and accusing a security researcher of hacking as opposed to security researching.

    • URL shortening – are these services now too big a security risk to use?

      Spammers and malware pushers are still heavily abusing URL shortening services, messaging security firm Cloudmark has reported in its 2015 annual security report (reg required). The popular Bit.ly service has recently become a particular favourite with criminals with 25,000 individual malicious links run though that service every single day in recent times. This sounds alarming but it gets worse. According to the firm, this meant that an extraordinary 97 percent of Bit.ly links now led to malicious websites.

    • Security advisories for Wednesday
    • Google, Red Hat discover critical DNS security flaw that enables malware to infect entire internet

      Google and security firm Red Hat have discovered a critical security flaw in the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) that affects a library in a universally used protocol. This means an attacker could use it to infect almost everything on the entire internet. With the flawed code spread far and wide, it will likely take years of effort to patch the bug.

    • Hackers compromise Linux Mint Cinnamon ISO and forums
    • Why the Linux Mint hack is an indicator of a larger problem

      Security vulnerabilities at the Linux Mint project highlight substantial issues with the popular Linux distribution, and the difficulty of maintaining a Linux distribution as a hobbyist project.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Malaysian Borneo’s air quality hits hazardous levels as forest fires rage

      Forest fires spread over 500 acres in the north of the Malaysian state of Sarawak in Borneo island have raised air pollution to hazardous levels on Monday in areas close to the inferno, government data showed.

    • Trade Officials Promised Exxon That TTIP Will Erase Environmental ‘Obstacles’ Worldwide

      Newly released documents show that, in back-room talks, European officials assured ExxonMobil that the pending US-EU trade agreement would force the removal of regulatory “obstacles” worldwide, thus opening up even more countries to exploitation by the fossil fuel empire.

      Heavily redacted documents pertaining to an October 2013 meeting, obtained by the Guardian and reported on Tuesday, reveal that then-trade commissioner Karel de Gucht met with two officials from ExxonMobil’s EU and U.S. divisions to address the benefits of the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

      As the Guardian notes, the meeting was held at a time when countries in South America and Africa were “tightening regulations on fossil fuel companies for the first time in a decade, despite ExxonMobil’s ambitions to open up shale gas fracking wells in North Africa, Asia and South America.”

  • Finance

    • Google tax deal: MPs criticise secretive settlement

      Google’s controversial tax deal cannot be properly assessed by MPs because of secrecy surrounding the negotiations, according to a report by parliament’s public spending watchdog.

      But the deal to pay £130m in back taxes for a 10-year period seems “disproportionately small when compared with the size of Google’s business in the UK”, the public accounts committee has found.

    • House Speaker Paul Ryan Demands TPP Be Renegotiated; Neglects To Mention It Was His Bill That Makes That Impossible

      Go back and work on this agreement? Oh really? Now, this is the same Paul Ryan who (as he mentions in the interview) was the driving force behind the so-called fast track or “Trade Promotion Authority.” Though Ryan totally misrepresents what that means. He claims that the TPA gave the USTR “the ability to go negotiate trade agreements.” That’s hilariously not true. After all, the USTR has been negotiating the TPP for more than half a decade at this point, and only got Trade Promotion Authority in June. All Trade Promotion Authority REALLY does is ties Congress’s hands so that it can no longer ask the USTR to go back and renegotiate sections, because the whole point of the TPA is that it limits Congressional authority to a simple yes or no vote — rather than allowing it to actually debate and challenge specific aspects of the agreement.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Tesla: GM wrote a bill in Indiana to stop us from selling cars in the state

      Tesla recently sent a letter to “Tesla Owners and Enthusiasts” living in the Indiana area asking for their help to defeat a piece of legislation introduced by state lawmakers that would prevent auto manufacturers from selling cars directly to their customers. Tesla has almost exclusively sold vehicles to customers through direct vehicle sales, and it says if the bill is signed into law it would revoke Tesla’s permission to sell vehicles from its existing storefront in Indianapolis.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • New Group Seeking Privacy/Security Balance Loads Up On Former Government Officials And RSA Employees

      This is the same Art Coviello who said anonymity is the “enemy of privacy.” Why? Because it allows bad people to do bad things and get away with it — a sentiment echoed by any number of law enforcement officials and intelligence agency heads.

      Coviello’s timing couldn’t be better. Against the backdrop of the FBI’s efforts to force Apple to help it break into iPhones, Coviello hopes a balanced discussion of the issues may result in workable common ground between parties he feels often “talk past each other.”

    • What’s At Stake In Apple/FBI Fight: Who Gets To Set The Rules That Govern Your Privacy & Security

      Lots of people, mainly those supporting the DOJ/FBI’s view of the Apple fight, have been arguing that this isn’t a big deal. They’re just asking for one small thing. Other people have tried to examine “what’s at stake” in the case, with a number of the arguments falling into the typical “privacy v. security” framing, or even something around precedents related to privacy and security. However, Jennifer Granick recently wrote a great piece that does a much better job framing what’s truly at stake. It’s not privacy vs. security at all, but rather who gets to set the rules over how software works in an era where software controls everything.

    • Bay Area Rallies Against FBI Threats to Privacy and Security

      Dozens of people gathered at the Apple Store in San Francisco this evening to shout their support for the company’s position defending privacy and security in the face of irresponsible government demands.

    • Where’s Obama’s Encryption Policy?

      The news has been flooded with reactions to Apple’s principled stance in defense of user privacy. But even as Apple opposes the FBI’s demands to undermine the security of its operating system, where is President Obama on the issue of strong encryption?

      On Wednesday, the President’s press secretary said that “the F.B.I. can count on the full support of the White House.” Does that mean President Obama is going to turn his back on strong security for modern tech?

      EFF, Access Now, and a coalition of nonprofit and industry groups launched a public petition calling on President Obama to defend strong encryption and oppose backdoors in September. We used the We The People API, Obama’s preferred petition tool, and quickly surpassed 100,000 signatures.

      President Obama has promised to respond to any We the People petition that receives at least 100,000 signatures. But so far, we’ve gotten only nonresponses.

    • California Says Companies Should Embrace NSA-developed Data Protections

      The state of California has put companies on notice that they should be following a basic set of 20 information security controls developed by the U.S. government’s top code breakers.

      Many of the 657 data breaches California businesses and agencies reported during the past four years could have been prevented or at least more rapidly triaged had the protections been in place, according to a new state audit.

      “The set of 20 controls constitutes a minimum level of security – a floor – that any organization that collects or maintains personal information should meet,” California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, said in the February breach analysis.

    • NSA leak probe ‘heavy handed,’ says Hayden

      The leak investigation included armed raids on the homes of veteran congressional investigators and agency staff, and ended six years later with the collapsed prosecution of NSA official Thomas Drake.

    • Could the former NSA director be encryption’s friend?

      It isn’t every day that civil libertarians and national security hawks agree on policy, but the encryption debate has created an unlikely alliance.

    • NSA spied on U.N. Secretary General/Merkel whilst having climate change talk
    • Italy Summons US Ambassador Over WikiLeaks Spying Reports

      Italy s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it had summoned the US ambassador to Rome over reports of widespread US surveillance of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, among several other European leaders.

    • Italy summons US ambassador after reports on NSA
    • US Ambassador To Rome Summoned
    • Italy summons US envoy over reports Berlusconi was spied on
    • Italy asks US to explain NSA spying report
    • Italy Summons U.S. Ambassador over Reports NSA Spied on Prime Minister
    • NSA: World Leaders Under Surveillance, Claims Wikileaks
    • Foreign affairs programmer watched by NSA
    • Rocky Anderson: Why I’m Suing Bush, Cheney and the NSA

      On today’s special episode of Loud & Clear, host Brian Becker is joined for the full hour by former mayor of Salt Lake City Rocky Anderson to discuss why he filed a class action lawsuit against former President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and the National Security Agency.

    • Confessions From Bush’s NSA Spy Program

      A memoir from former NSA director Michael Hayden reveals new details about the controversial U.S. intelligence program that targeted Americans’ private communications.

    • Why we must defend our last shred of privacy

      It’s not only Apple. Hundreds of technology companies large and small are engaged in a historic battle to determine how much access governments can have to your personal information. This includes Google, Microsoft, and nearly every technology company that has significantly impacted your life over the last two decades.

    • Facebook Tries (Again) to Take On Google and Twitter With Search

      There are 1.5 billion searches a day on Facebook, but the vast majority are for people’s names—the kind of search one might surreptitiously conduct after meeting an alluring stranger in a bar. Last October, the company quietly made it possible to search for all public posts on Facebook, not just material posted by friends or pages. Stocky’s team developed the new function, which uses an algorithm to rank and refine trillions of posts from Facebook users. “What we really tried to do was make Facebook a place where you could tap into the global conversation of what was happening in the world,” Stocky said at Facebook’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters, unwittingly (or perhaps not) trotting out a favorite phrase of executives at rival Twitter. “We really want to basically make Facebook the best place to find what people are saying about something right now.”

    • Danish police back online monitoring plans

      The Danish government’s controversial plan to reintroduce so-called ‘session logging’ received the backing of Danish National Police (Rigspolitiet) Commissioner Jens Henrik Højbjerg, who said the Justice Ministry’s proposal would give police a means of tracking and catching criminals who are now conducting their illegal activities on the internet.

      “Crime and communication is increasingly taking place in cyberspace. But our investigation opportunities are undermined if we do not have the opportunity to get information on internet traffic,” Højbjerg said speaking to Danish broadcaster DR.

      Denmark scrapped the so-called ‘session logging’ in 2014 and the European Court of Justice has previously ruled that the blanket retention of internet usage is illegal.

    • German police allowed to use its own “federal Trojan”

      The German Interior Ministry has approved for investigative use a spying Trojan developed by the German Federal Criminal Police (a so-called “federal Trojan”). In fact, it could end up being used as early as this week.

    • FTC Dings ASUS For Selling ‘Secure’ Routers That Shipped With Default Admin/Admin Login (And Other Flaws)

      ASUS’s insecure products are no different than countless others offered by competitors. Far too many companies view end user security as something that can always be patched into existence after the first big breach. Why the FTC has chosen to hang ASUS rather than any number of other misbehaving tech manufacturers isn’t clear, but it could be this is just the first in a wave of settlements.

      The FTC isn’t just unhappy about ASUS’s bogus security claims. It’s also unhappy with the company’s response time. The complaint notes ASUS failed to act quickly in response to reported security holes.

    • Justice Department Wants Apple to Extract Data From 12 Other iPhones

      The U.S. Department of Justice is pursuing additional court orders that would force Apple to help federal investigators extract data from twelve other encrypted iPhones that may contain crime-related evidence, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    • DOJ Reached Out To San Bernardino Victims For Legal Support Before Going To Court Against Apple

      The FBI keeps insisting that it’s legal fight with Apple is not about the precedent and not about using the tragic incident in San Bernardino as an emotional plug to break down strong encryption. And yet… now it’s come out that even before going to court, federal prosecutors from the DOJ went to the families of those killed in the San Bernardino attacks and asked them to file an amicus brief of support with the court…

    • Is the FBI v Apple PR war even about encryption?

      The war between Apple and the FBI is a PR war. And it’s one that the FBI has fought well, from its initial selection of the battleground (a fight over access to a dead murderer’s government-owned iPhone) to the choreographed intervention of the relatives of the victims of the San Bernadino shootings – who were contacted by the FBI for support before the dispute even became public, according to Reuters.

    • San Bernardino Shooter’s Apple Password Changed While in Government Possession

      They lie like a rug.

    • Pew Asks Stupid Misleading Question About FBI Apple Fight, Gets Stupid Misleading Answers

      The folks over at Pew Research usually do pretty good work, but they decided to weigh in on the Apple / FBI backdoor debate by asking a really dumb poll question — the results of which are now being used to argue that the public supports the FBI over Apple by a pretty wide margin.

    • FBI’s Scorched Earth Approach To Apple Means That Tech Companies Now Have Even Less Incentive To Help Feds

      On Friday, we debunked a key FBI talking point, which the press has been parroting, that Apple had helped the FBI in 70 previous cases, and only changed its mind now for “marketing” or “business model” reasons. As we explained, that’s not even remotely true. In the past, Apple helped out because it had access to the content, and so it got it and turned it over following a lawful search warrant/court order. In this case, the situation is entirely different. Apple does not have access to the content that the FBI wants, and is now being forced to create a backdoor — build an entirely revamped operating system — that undermines some key security features found on iPhones today. That’s quite different.

    • Netherlands begins eID pilots

      The Dutch government has started pilots with electronic identification cards and smart phone apps, to allow online identification for eGovernment services. The first eID card was handed out in mid-February, marking the official start of both pilots. The eID pilots are intended to increase security, and prevent identity fraud.

  • Civil Rights

    • Latest Wikileaks documents: Irish citizen working for the UN Refugee Agency was targeted by the NSA

      It’s still early days but it appears from the latest Wikileaks document release that an innocent Irish citizen, Bernard Doyle, was targeted by the NSA. Doyle is currently the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) “Regional Representative for Central Asia.”

    • Federal Judge Says Recording Police Not Protected By The First Amendment

      Over the years, the nation’s courts have moved towards recognizing First Amendment protections for citizens who film public servants carrying out public duties. Nearly every case has involved a citizen arrested for filming police officers, suggesting far too many law enforcement entities still feel their public actions deserve some sort of secrecy — even as these agencies deploy broader and more powerful surveillance tools aimed at the same public areas where no expectation of privacy (under the Fourth Amendment) exists.

    • FBI Borrows From Anti-Muslim Playbook in New Video Game

      Earlier this month, the FBI quietly launched “Don’t be a Puppet,” a website aimed at teachers and students, ostensibly to teach them how to spot and counter the “radicalization” of young people. It wasn’t a hit. One tech writer called it an “awful, out-of-touch 90s educational game.” Another headline read, “The FBI made a video game and it sucks.”

      From the landing page, players set off through five stages: What is Violent Extremism? What are Known Violent Extremist Groups? Who Do Violent Extremists Affect? Why Do People Become Violent Extremists? How Do Violent Extremists Make Contact? As players successfully answer questions, they get to cut the puppet strings and ultimately earn an “FBI certificate” upon completion.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Facebook is not a charity: Mark Zuckerberg’s “Internet for all” push is big business, barely disguised

      Tech titans have drawn good press in recent months. In December, Mark Zuckerberg pledged his and his wife’s fortune to charity – sort of. Apple chief Timothy Cook is now standing up to the U.S. government’s request to unlock a killer’s cellphone, which is has been a public relations hit as well as the right thing to do. If you were reading the news superficially, it might look like the tech community had turned into a big, friendly non-profit devoted to changing the world for the better.

      But developments overseas reminds us that these companies – whatever their mix of good and bad qualities– are self-interested, for-profit corporations that aim to make money by expanding markets. And not everyone is eager to buy what they’re selling.

    • The Web’s First Blackout Protest: The CDA, 20 Years Later

      Twenty years ago, large chunks of the Web went dark. These sites were changing their layout, or in some cases even going offline, to protest the Communications Decency Act, signed on February 8 by President Bill Clinton as Title V of the landmark Telecommunication Act. By some estimates, more than 5% of sites online on the early Web took part.

      The Communications Decency Act (CDA) was embroiled in controversy: as a direct response to the new law, EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow wrote his influential Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace; EFF kicked off the Blue Ribbon Online Free Speech campaign that became one of the most iconic images of online activism of the era.

      It’s only against that background that the largest show of online activism to that point—a web blackout campaign, known variously as “Turn the Web Black,” “Great Web Blackout,” or the “Black World Wide Web protest”—could be anything but center stage. Even if it’s not as widely remembered, though, the CDA blackout has made itself part of the DNA of online protest, and its influence can be seen on major recent protests, such as those against the Stop Online Piracy Act.

      At 25 years old, EFF is one of the few digital rights groups to have participated in the CDA protests first-hand. To mark the 20th anniversary of the passage of that law—and the protests against it—we pulled some of the most interesting material from the archives of that era.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • The ‘Coke Zero’ Trademark Madness May Finally Be Coming To An End

        Did you know that Coca-Cola has been attempting to get a trademark on the word “zero” for beverages in the United States for well over a decade? Yes, the most well-known soft-drink maker, which sells a product called ‘Coke Zero’, first filed for a trademark on the single word in 2003. The fight has been ongoing ever since, with Dr. Pepper Snapple Group opposing the trademark, because, well, lots of other beverage companies use that common word and because of course it did. Oddly, we covered a trademark case a few years back in which Coca-Cola was on the receiving end of a trademark suit over its use of the word, that time from a water company that offered a product it had named ‘Naturally Zero.’

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Office Decides To Rewrite Copyright Law Itself, Blesses A ‘Making Available’ Right That Isn’t There

        The Copyright Office has decided to take a stance on copyright law that requires two slightly odd things. First, it requires ignoring what the Copyright Act actually says and then, separately, it requires pretending that the law says something that it clearly does not say. That’s pretty incredible when you think about it.

        For quite some time now there have been ongoing legal fights in the copyright world over whether or not there’s a “making available right” in copyright law. The issue is actually super important. 17 USC 106 lays out the only six exclusive rights granted to rights holders under copyright.

      • Fancy an Anti-Piracy Threat….To Your Dropbox Email Address?

        Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN is stepping up its game when it comes to scaring would-be pirates. While people sharing files in public using BitTorrent are the group’s usual targets, BREIN has just sent scary emails to people who thought they were sharing eBooks privately using Dropbox.

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