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Links 1/3/2016: Firefox OS in Panasonic Ultra HD TVs, Raspberry Pi 3

Posted in News Roundup at 11:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • How to choose the right brand architecture for your open source project

    Most people who start an open source software project aren’t sitting around waiting for someone to discuss brand architecture models with them, but many of them do have long term goals for their project that include eventually seeing it becoming a paid product or even the basis of a company built around servicing and supporting the project code.

  • Open Source Evolution: From Making Better Code to Making Better Business

    Today, open-source software is thriving in the Cloud, with a whole new generation of projects – such as Docker, Heroku, Open Stack and others. Cumulatively, GNU is still the leading license, but MIT, Apache and other licenses are among the top licenses used in open-source projects.

  • Top Open Source Creativity Apps

    There is a common belief among non-Linux users that there aren’t any good creative applications from the open source camp. In truth, this is absolutely false. The key is knowing which applications are needed to complete a specific task. In this article, I’ll share my recommendations for the top open source creativity apps.

  • 6 essential non-coding careers in open source

    When I started working in open source software in 1999, it was a small part of what I did. My company, SGI, wanted to start shipping Linux-based servers, and my task was to create a process for commercializing Linux. Today we’ve reached a point where open source software is in almost every area of technology. And while we often still think of it as code and developers, a whole ecosystem has evolved around open source—one that includes many full-time careers. These roles are much needed as open source matures, and they allow more of us who believe in the power of collaborative development to get involved.

    To help those looking to get involved in open source professionally, here’s a look at some of the most popular and emerging roles.

  • OPNFV Delivers Second Release of Open Source Network Functions Virtualization Platform
  • OPNFV puts out second release of open source NFV platform, Brahmaputra
  • Alluxio: Open Source Tech Making Baidu’s Data Centers Faster

    Running a successful internet business without using the data you accumulate to your advantage is clearly impossible in this day and age. Until about one year ago, Baidu, the web company behind the largest Chinese-language search engine and the country’s answer to Google, had a major technology problem on its hands.

    The queries Baidu product managers ran against its databases took hours to complete because of the huge amount of data stored in the company’s data centers. Baidu needed a solution, and its engineers were given the goal of creating an ad-hoc query engine that would manage petabytes of data and finish queries in 30 seconds or less.

  • 6 more must-have open source apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux

    In this follow up article, here are some more of the best open source and free apps I’ve found for my heterogeneous environment.

  • Hortonworks seeks salvation in proprietary software

    Three years ago Hortonworks led a chorus of open source Kumbaya as it sought to differentiate itself in the rapidly growing Hadoop market. Today, Hortonworks has significantly changed its tune, embracing proprietary software as a way to improve its financials.

  • Documentation should be concise, consistent, and simple

    “Words mean things” is one of my favorite expressions. I often use it in jest, but it’s an important consideration when writing documentation. I’m normally one to sling words around with great artistic flair, but when it comes to writing technical documentation, I’ve become more deliberate in my wording.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • native gtk3 menubar in libreoffice

      For comparison here’s the (not utterly awful) emulated look prior to this. You can compare the spacing of elements in the menubar, menu separator rendering, distance of checkmarks to the following text, the display of the short cuts in different font attributes with different positioning, and menu entry line spacing.

    • LibreOffice Now Has GTK3-Native Menus

      There’s even more progress now to report on with LibreOffice’s GTK3 tool-kit support.

      LibreOffice has been making lots of progress with their GTK3 tool-kit support to better integrate the open-source office suite on modern Linux desktops and is also needed for running LibreOffice on Wayland. A few days ago we reported on GTK3 native context menus for LibreOffice while the latest to mention now are native menu bars.

    • LibreOffice Is Getting GTK3 Native Menus
  • CMS

    • Acquia adapting to future needs as web trends change

      The Boston-based open source firm Acquia is dabbling in several technologies to ensure that, down the road, it stays as big a player in the market as it is now.

      Acquia uses the Drupal content management system to build websites for companies around the world and has produced and powered roughly 12 per cent of all Drupal implementations, according to Chris Stone, the head of engineering and chief product officer.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • Video: 30 Years of Minix
    • Haiku in 2016

      About once a year I like to put aside Linux distributions, and the various flavours of BSD, to look at Haiku. As the Haiku website tells us, “Haiku is an open source operating system that specifically targets personal computing. Inspired by the BeOS, Haiku is fast, simple to use, easy to learn and yet very powerful.”


  • Public Services/Government

    • UK open source drive ‘encourages citizens participation’

      The push by the UK government to use more free and open source software for its eGovernment services is helping to get citizens more involved, says Bernard Tyers, a user experience researcher working for the UK’s Home Office. “Everyone can see how the design and research process works, and users are helping to test our prototypes.”

    • Consultations launched for local authority common digital standard

      The views of council staff and other stakeholders are being sought for a draft Local Government Digital Service Standard devised to encourage use of common services and data registers between different authorities based on a similar approach used in Whitehall.

      With support from the Government Digital Service (GDS), a group of councils working as part of the LocalGov Digital network has been working to finalise guidelines for a common approach to service transformation and design.

    • Digital service standard set to mandate data reuse

      Last week, PublicTechnology reported that the new Local Government Digital Service Standard emerged from discussions held earlier this month at the offices of the Government Digital Service.

      Publication of the draft standard covering transactional services has been coordinated by digital practitioner network LocalGov Digital, and based on the existing central government standard could be adapted for councils.

    • Councils urged to use agile, open source and platforms

      LocalGovDigital publishes draft version of Digital Service Standard for local government

  • Licensing

    • Is SFLC Shooting Open Source in the Foot?

      The academic article by SFLC about ZFS is troubling and may unintentionally shoot free software licensing in the foot.

      When I was at Sun (as part of the team that released the Java Programming Language by starting the OpenJDK project) I often heard community concerns about the CDDL license. At the time the big complaint was about the “Choice of Venue” clause.

      I got involved because Sun had developed many essential Java libraries and distributed them under CDDL. The community requested a more permissive license and I was able to convince internal project leaders (and Sun’s lawyers) to make a licensing change for a handful of these projects. And there was much rejoicing.

      Based on my experience in helping Java to become open source I came to appreciate the legal hacks on copyright which make open source possible. It’s the free software license which uses copyright to enable sharing (vs. the default of disabling sharing).

    • The VMware Hearing and the Long Road Ahead

      On last Thursday, Christoph Hellwig and his legal counsel attended a hearing in Hellwig’s VMware case that Conservancy currently funds. Harald Welte, world famous for his GPL enforcement work in the early 2000s, also attended as an observer and wrote an excellent summary. I’d like to highlight a few parts of his summary, in the context of Conservancy’s past litigation experience regarding the GPL.

      First of all, in great contrast to the cases here in the USA, the Court acknowledged fully the level of public interest and importance of the case. Judges who have presided over Conservancy’s GPL enforcement cases USA federal court take all matters before them quite seriously. However, in our hearings, the federal judges preferred to ignore entirely the public policy implications regarding copyleft; they focused only on the copyright infringement and claims related to it. Usually, appeals courts in the USA are the first to broadly consider larger policy questions. There are definitely some advantages to the first Court showing interest in the public policy concerns.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • BrewDog’s open-source revolution is at the vanguard of postcapitalism

      Fast forward to now, and a very interesting thing just happened. BrewDog, the Scottish-based brewery whose beer outlets are spreading rapidly across the globe, just open-sourced its recipe collection. In a cheeky press release, its founders quipped: “Oh, and if you are from one of the global beer mega corporations and you are reading this, your computer will spontaneously combust, James Bond style, any second now.”

    • ‘Platform car’ is driving open-source design
    • The innovators: Skeleton car that is driving open-source design

      The OSVehicle units consist of parts that can be easily swapped without throwing away other working parts, which expands the vehicle’s lifespan, said Yuki. Its core unit contains the most complex parts of a vehicle, which means it is stable and ready to use, she added. Loddo compares it to the Android operating system for mobile phones, where developers can freely access the software as a base on which to build apps.

    • Open Hardware

      • Open Source Hardware is an opportunity for Synthetic Biology research – the DocuBricks approach by Tobias Wenzel

        There is a lesson to be learned from the incompleteness of commercial assembly-set documentations: Open Source Hardware is more than an assembly instruction. It is also about documenting design files and decisions along its functionality and in a modular fashion, complete with testing and calibration instructions. A good documentation enables the project to grow and improve without the doing of the inventor. Only in this way most projects can enfold their benefit well to society and technology companies. To be sure, documenting a hardware project is not easy and requires time. For this reason a handful scientists at the University of Cambridge (including the author), all with a background in technology and biology, recently started the DocuBricks initiative. DocuBricks is an open source and free software that makes documenting hardware and usage procedures easier. The name is a reference to modularity in the same way as Lego or BioBricks. As the name suggests, the editor part of the software guides the user through a modular documentation structure with relevant fields in a standardised, yet general format. The user can create a hierarchy of documentation bricks, explaining their function, implementation and assembly while referring to a parts library. The result is a XML document and a folder with construction and media files that is displayed with the viewer part of the software (a style sheet and script to enable interactivity).

      • Kicad hacking – Intra-sheet links and ERC

        I spent time looking at gEDA and Eagle when I wanted to get back into hardware hacking for my own ends; but neither did I really click with. On the other hand, a mere 10 minutes with Kicad and I knew I had found the tool I wanted to work with long-term.

      • Open-Source System 3D Prints from Custom Powders

        An open-source laser sintering printer has been used to print intricate 3D objects from powdered plastics and biomaterials. The system costs a fraction of equivalent commercial systems and could give researchers a DIY technique for working with their own specialized materials.

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia


  • GitHubber wants to revive the first Unix in a PDP-7 emulator

    An IT lecturer from the Australian state of Queensland wants to revive the very first Unix – the version written by Ken Thompson on a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-7.

    While the PDP-11 is probably the most famous of the series – a genuine watershed in computer history, and a successful system that sold 600,000 units in its 20-year life on the market – the PDP-7 has its own place in history.

    Its most enduring contribution to the life of the sysadmin: it was the machine that then Bell Labs engineer Ken Thompson wrote the first Unix on, in assembly language, in 1969. As the Linux Information Project notes, it was also DEC’s first system to use a mass-storage-based operating system.

    That’s what Warren Toomey is working to re-create in this project.

  • Science

    • Footage of possible meteor in Scotland

      Footage has been recorded of what appears to be a meteor in the sky over Scotland.

      Police received a large number of calls after a big, bright flash was seen.

      People took to social media to report seeing a blue, white or green light, with some saying they also heard a rumbling sound.

      Driving instructor Bill Addison, from Buckie in Moray, recorded what appeared to be a meteor shooting across the sky on his dashboard camera.

      Mike Fleming captured similar footage on the road between Dunecht and Castle Fraser in Aberdeenshire.

      The “flash” was also caught on a security camera at Woodend, Lumphanan, Aberdeenshire, which was sent in by Craig Lindsay.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Thousands of NHS nursing and doctor posts lie vacant
    • The Rising Threat of Religious Hospitals Denying Women Medical Care

      Imagine you are 20 weeks pregnant, only halfway through your pregnancy, when you start to miscarry. It’s the middle of the night; you call an ambulance and are rushed to the hospital. The hospital admits you and consults with a specialist who concludes that the only option is to induce labor and complete the miscarriage — either way, the fetus will not survive. But without induction of labor you could die too.

      But instead of acting quickly to save your life, the hospital admits you and watches you get sicker and sicker. For 10 hours, the hospital will do nothing to complete the miscarriage, even though the hospital knows that every moment the miscarriage drags on increases your risk of contracting a life-threatening infection, which you ultimately do.

    • Calls Grow for Wendy’s to Join Fair Food Program as Coalition Plans Major Protest of Fast-Food Giant

      It ensures farmworkers access to shade and water, increased pay, as well as freedom from sexual harassment and forced labor. Although fast-food giants like McDonald’s and Subway have signed Fair Food Agreements, Wendy’s has refused—instead opting for their own “Supplier Code of Conduct,” which activists say is less stringent and has no enforcement mechanisms.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Peer-Seeking Webcam Reveals the Security Dangers of Internet Things

      Last week security blogger Brian Krebs revealed that a popular internet-enabled security camera “secretly and constantly connects into a vast peer-to-peer network run by the Chinese manufacturer of the hardware.”

    • Joomla Sites Join WordPress As TeslaCrypt Ransomware Target

      Exploit kits infecting thousands of WordPress websites are setting their sights on the open-source content management system Joomla in a new campaign spotted by a researcher at the SANS Institute’s Internet Storm Center.

      “The group behind the WordPress ‘admedia’ campaign is now apparently targeting Joomla sites,” said Brad Duncan, security researcher at Rackspace. “We are starting to see the same traffic characteristics in infections that are associated with Joomla sites – as we did with the WordPress campaign,” Duncan said.

    • Most software already has a “golden key” backdoor: the system update

      In 2014 when The Washington Post Editorial Board wrote “with all their wizardry, perhaps Apple and Google could invent a kind of secure golden key they would retain and use only when a court has approved a search warrant,” the Internet ridiculed them. Many people painstakingly explained that even if there were somehow wide agreement about who would be the “right” people and governments to hold such an all-powerful capability, it would ultimately be impossible to ensure that such power wouldn’t fall in to the “wrong” hands.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Texas Academics Told to Avoid ‘Sensitive Topics’ to Prevent Angering Armed Students

      Here’s another swanky benefit of our out-of-control gun culture: university professors should be aware that their students might shoot them.

    • Kerry Phones Serbian PM Over Diplomats Killed in U.S. Libya Strike

      So, those American airstrikes recently in Libya, the ones for freedom and to defeat ISIS and banish Ant Man to hell? Yeah, darn it, they also killed two Serbian diplomats. But don’t worry, America’s own secretary of state John Kerry personally called the Serbian prime minister to say “Sorry, our bad, dude.”

    • Saudis lobby MEPs before arms embargo vote over Yemen

      Riyadh engaged in concerted effort to persuade European parliament not to pass amendment calling for EU sanctions because of bombing campaign

    • The Dulles Brothers and Their Legacy of Perpetual War

      I was intrigued by the 2015 release of David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government. But it also reminded me of a 2014 book I had been wanting to read titled The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War by Stephen Kinzer. Since the earlier book covered both important brothers — the younger Allen who was Director of Central Intelligence and the elder John Foster who was Secretary of State — I decided to go with Kinzer.

      As it turned out, I was so fascinated by Kinzer’s discussion of the Dulleses that after finishing The Brothers, I dove right into Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard. I am so glad that I did. While there is some unavoidable overlap, reading the two books in quick succession is not at all redundant. In fact, they are such splendid complements of each other, that one almost wonders if the two authors coordinated.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Freedom Of Information Act To Remain: Here Are Eight Things We Wouldn’t Have Known Without It

      A decision not to charge for Freedom of Information (FoI) requests has been hailed as a “victory for journalism”.

      The government revealed on Tuesday that there will be no legal changes to the FoI Act after a review of the legislation found it was “working well”.

    • Freedom of Information charges ruled out after review

      Freedom of Information requests – used by campaigners and journalists to ask questions of public bodies – are to remain free of charge, a minister says.

      Following a review of the law, Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock said the FoI Act was “working well”.

      The FoI Commission was asked to examine it amid concerns within government that “sensitive information” was being inadequately protected.

      Its report said FoI had helped “change the culture of the public sector”.

      Mr Hancock said there would be no wholesale changes to the FoI Act.

    • Spain updates compendium of eGovernment rules

      The Spanish government has published an update of its Law on Electronic Administration. Two chapters have been added, on “Transparency and Access to POublic Information” and on “Electronic Judicial Administration”.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Coral bleaching in Qld is the ‘worst in 15 years’

      The worst coral bleaching in more than 15 years has hit Lizard Island off far north Queensland, scientists say, prompting fears about other northern parts of the Great Barrier Reef.

      Lyle Vail, who runs the Lizard Island Research Station north of Cairns, said the majority of the reef flat surrounding the island was showing signs of bleaching.

      “We do notice a bit of minor bleaching most summers but this year is exceptional – it’s the worst since 2002 – that year was quite bad,” he said.

  • Finance

    • CETA Legal Review Completed, Now Off To Parliaments And Governments For Approval

      The European Union and Canada have jointly announced the finalisation of the legal review for Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

      The agreement, which originally was signed by the negotiators in 2014, was re-negotiated to address strong concerns with regard to the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) procedures.

    • Restaurants Demand State Freeze Servers’ Wage

      As an example, New York state’s hourly minimum wage for tipped workers rose from $5.00 to $7.50 on January 1 (standard, non-tipped, minimum wage is $9.00 an hour in the state), much to the dismay of the New York State Restaurant Association. The restaurant owners lobbying group sent a letter to NY Governor Andrew Cuomo demanding that he freeze the tipped wage for five years. This letter comes just weeks after the National Restaurant Association filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court, claiming that Cuomo’s plan to raise the minimum wage further by 2018 is part of a longstanding pattern of discrimination “against the hard working men and women that own New York’s restaurants.”

    • WaPo Factcheck Adds Confusion, Not Clarity, on Social Security

      In short, President Bush’s proposal for replacing a portion of the traditional Social Security system did offer a substantial bonanza for Wall Street in a way that was not true of President Clinton’s proposal for investing the trust fund. Secretary Clinton was not wrong to make this distinction, even if some of her comments were not entirely accurate, as Kessler points out.

    • EU referendum: Peter Mandelson breaks silence to warn over effects of Brexit

      British exporters would face trade tariffs of up to 20 per cent on goods such as cars, whisky, pharmaceuticals and fashion sold around the world if the UK pulled out of the European Union, the former Trade Commissioner Lord Mandelson will warn on Tuesday.

      In his first intervention in the referendum debate, the Labour peer will claim that the UK could not only lose access to the single European market but could also lose the EU’s preferential trading status in foreign markets.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • This terrifying Rupert Murdoch quote is possibly the best reason to stay in the EU yet

      Are you on the fence about Brexit? Do you feel akin to Boris (pre-blatant leadership bid) dithering and mulling your decision over, considering what suits your personal circumstance?

      We think we may have something that’ll sway it for you.

      As you are no doubt aware, although media mogul Rupert Murdoch hasn’t declared which side he stands on in the referendum, there have been a few subtle hints as to his position.

    • Scalia Dined at the Great Trough of Corruption

      Antonin Scalia was the longest-tenured justice on the current Supreme Court, and a great friend to conservatives in his opinions. It turns out he also ate his share at the great trough of American corruption.

    • Antonin Scalia: The Billion-Dollar Supreme Court Justice

      Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was worth billions of dollars to corporate America, if a Dow Chemical settlement made public Friday is any indication.

      Dow was in the midst of appealing a $1.06 billion class-action antitrust ruling, after a jury found that it had conspired with other chemical companies to fix prices for urethane, a material used in furniture and appliances.

      But because of Scalia’s death and the sudden unlikelihood of finding five votes on the Supreme Court to overturn the case, Dow decided to settle for $835 million, the bulk of the original award.

    • Donald Trump’s Appeal to White Nationalism

      AFTER TWO DECADES of studying the inner workings of extremist groups in the United States, Brian Levin, a professor at California State University in San Bernardino, has developed a routine for attending Ku Klux Klan rallies. He’ll tape an interview or two, collect whatever literature is available, see if he can spot any notable figures, and make a count of the demographics on hand. The aim, Levin says, is to maintain a degree of anonymity. That was the plan Saturday afternoon when he showed up to Pearson Park in Anaheim, California, for a demonstration by the local chapter of a Klan faction known as the Loyal White Knights.

    • Will it be Trump or Goldman Sachs?

      It’s largely a choice of style, not substance, dirty business as usual continuing no matter who succeeds Obama. Still, Snowden has a point.

      Hillary Clinton, like husband Bill, got super-rich through speechmaking, lucrative book deals and other Big Money handouts.

      Lots came from Wall Street and other corporate supporters – a rogue’s gallery of crony capitalist interests buying influence.

      Her public financial disclosures show she earned $2,935,000 from 12 speeches to Wall Street banks alone from 2013 – 2015, five for $225,000 (her usual fee).

    • Why Did It Take an Activist to Bring ‘Superpredators’ Into the Campaign?

      The fact that it took Black Lives Matter activist Ashley Williams to bring “superpredators” into 2016 presidential campaign coverage (AlterNet, 2/24/16) truly demonstrates the malfeasance of the corporate press.

    • Hillary Clinton Still Haunted by Discredited Rhetoric on “Superpredators”

      Hillary Clinton is relying on support from black voters to help her carry South Carolina in the Democratic primary on Saturday, but at a fundraiser in Charleston on Wednesday night, she found herself confronted by a young black activist demanding an apology.

      As video of the protest shows, the activist, Ashley Williams, interrupted Clinton’s remarks about criminal justice at the private event by unfurling a banner with the phrase “we have to bring them to heel.” Those words — language that has been taken as an offensive and racist characterization of young black teens as unruly animals — were used by the former first lady at a campaign rally for Bill Clinton in New Hampshire in January 1996.

  • Censorship

    • Fighting the phrase “Polish death camps” with education, not censorship

      However, where a line has to be drawn is when governments threaten to infringe upon the freedom of academic historians. And this appears to be the direction in which Poland’s government is heading, following two announcements made over the last week. Either one on its own would be worrying enough, but taken together they raise the spectre of concerted government interference in historical research.

    • Ridiculous Censorship

      Self-censorship during the final night of Putri Indonesia pageant show in a private TV station last week is really out of the proportion.

      During the show, the TV station decided to completely blur the torsos of contestants who donned the body-hugging Javanese kebaya dress.

    • China silences property mogul on social media after criticism of president

      The Chinese government has deleted the popular social media accounts of property mogul Ren Zhiqiang after he publicly criticized President Xi Jinping.

      On Sunday, the Cyberspace Administration of China ordered Chinese technology companies Sina and Tencent to shut down Ren’s microblog accounts on their platforms.

    • China’s Censorship Clampdown Stirs a Pushback

      A high-profile clash between China’s censors and an influential businessman with a huge social-media following marks a further tightening of a clampdown on public discourse under President Xi Jinping—one that is starting to generate unexpected pushback.

    • Chinese internet watchdog bans former tycoon Ren Ziqiang’s microblog
    • China’s ‘Donald Trump’ is latest victim of government crackdown
    • South Korea Embraces Ridiculous Right To Be Forgotten As Well

      I’m still in a position where I don’t understand this at all. If the information is somehow false or “illegal” I can understand the desire to remove it. But I have a lot more trouble understanding the ability to remove truthful and legal information just because someone doesn’t like it. This kind of system will always be abused to just censor perfectly reasonable and often useful information, just because it exposes something someone doesn’t like. It’s disappointing that South Korea appears to be embracing such a head in the sand approach to information.

    • White House Asked Google & Facebook To Change Their Algorithms To Fight ISIS; Both Said No

      Earlier this year, we wrote about how ridiculous the federal government’s view of Silicon Valley seemed to be, in that they had this weird belief that by nerding a little harder, we could somehow “disrupt” ISIS. The thinking seemed confused, and somewhat typical of people who don’t understand technology or how Silicon Valley works. It’s “magic wand” thinking. People who don’t understand technology tend to view technology as a sort of magic — and thus, they assume it can do anything. And, right now, a bunch of those people in the White House want that magic wand to make ISIS disappear from the Internet.

      Buzzfeed’s Sheera Frenkel has a great detailed report looking “inside” the administration’s attempt to have Silicon Valley help in the fight against ISIS. The main focus of a (not very secret) meeting held on Wednesday seemed to be entirely about fighting ISIS propaganda with American propaganda. As if that ever works. And, from the sound of it, the meeting was equally clueless about why ISIS propaganda is effective, while American propaganda flops.

    • Inside The Obama Administration’s Attempt To Bring Tech Companies Into The Fight Against ISIS

      They flew in from New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to hole up in a windowless D.C. conference room for nearly five hours on Wednesday — representatives of the country’s top tech and entertainment companies brainstorming with U.S. counterterrorism officials to tackle one tough question: how to stop the spread of ISIS online.

    • Obama Administration Asked Facebook And Google To Change Their Algorithms To Fight ISIS

      On 24th February, White House invited the biggest names in the tech world to discuss the plans to defeat ISIS online. However, the meeting only reflected the flawed approach of Obama administration that went on to ask Facebook and Google to change their algorithms to hide pro-ISIS stuff.

    • Chinese censors clamp down on popular online videos

      China’s dour censors have long maintained a lengthy naughty list, and used it to keep the country’s television sets unsullied by anything deemed to “lack positive thoughts and meaning.”

      Now, the Chinese Communist Party under President Xi Jinping has vowed to apply the same rules online, slamming shut an era of looser rules for Internet video, amid a sweeping campaign to reassert strict new controls over the country’s cultural life – a campaign motivated in part by fears that speech must be controlled lest a slowing economy sow dangerous unhappiness.

    • I Resign: The Writing Center’s Mission is to Teach Writing, Not Ideology

      I wish I could continue to work at the Writing Center because I feel that it’s important for all students, whether black or white, on financial aid or not, conservative or liberal, to have a place to review and strengthen their writing. Unfortunately, the Writing Center no longer seems to be that place. Until the Writing Center can return to its apolitical mission and forsake its acceptance and appeasement of political harassment, I regret that I must resign my position as a Writing Fellow.

    • Debate is good, but can it be imposed?

      The rise of campus censorship has helped reinvigorate a discussion about free speech across society.

    • The Latest Hillary Clinton Conspiracy Theory Doesn’t Make Sense
    • Is Twitter Censoring Hashtags Critical of Hillary Clinton?
    • Nintendo urged to FIRE feminist employee at centre of furious child pornography censorship row

      In her long essay, Rapp described people who possess child pornography as “simple possessors” or “mere possessors”, even though this is a serious crime.

      Her thesis jumps between discussing child pornography featuring “real children” and fictionalised depictions of sickening acts, meaning it often appears unclear what she is actually discussing.

      However, the content of the essay has provoked a furious response among many of the people who have read it.

      Rapp wrote: “Criminalising the the possession of a type of media – whether violent video games… controversial political or religious texts, or child pornography – is tantamount to criminalising thought, and should be above countries like the U.S. and Japan who have such strong freedom of speech protections.”

  • Privacy

    • Snooper’s charter to extend police access to hack phones and access internet data

      Latest version of investigatory powers bill will allow police to hack people’s computers and view browsing history

    • Sensing Public Support Waning, UK Fast Tracks Snooper’s Charter

      For some time now, we’ve been covering the UK’s plan — led by Home Secretary Theresa May — to pass a new Snooper’s Charter that would increase surveillance powers greatly in the UK. There’s been a growing amount of criticism of the plan in the UK, so rather than respond to it, May has simply moved to fast track the bill, officially called the Investigatory Powers Bill. The bill will officially be “published” today on March 1, and then will likely be voted on before the end of April.

    • The New EU-US Data Sharing Pact Still Allows Mass Surveillance

      A controversial, over decade-old arrangement used to transfer data of European citizens to US companies such as Facebook appears soon to be replaced: The draft text of the EU-US Privacy Shield, the data regulation pact rushed through to substitute the contentious Safe Harbour agreement, was published on Monday.

      Safe Harbour has faced renewed scrutiny since the 2013 Snowden revelations, and a new agreement has been anticipated for months. But surveillance law experts, as well as Max Schrems, who brought on challenges against Safe Harbour in the first place, say that the EU-US Privacy Shield doesn’t solve key privacy problems, and that it still facilitates mass surveillance.

    • GCHQ spy back at work after Plenty of Fish date rape claim

      Two women claim police did not believe that a spy working at the UK eavesdropping headquarters GCHQ raped them. The first woman claims the 28-year-old man – who they allege still works for the secretive agency – raped her in 2010 after they struck up a relationship on the matchmaking website Plenty of Fish.

      The second claimant, who also worked for GCHQ, which is in Gloucestershire, said the same man attacked her in 2012. In both cases, the man – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was given a harassment warning.

    • Encryption still a low priority for too many cloud users

      The vast majority of organisations plan to store confidential or sensitive data in the cloud by 2018, but despite that being just two years away, only a third have already set out an encryption plan which can be described as consistently applied across the entirety of the enterprise.

      According to the 2016 Global Encryption and Key Management Trends Study, more than half of global organisations are already transferring sensitive or confidential information to the cloud, with 56 percent of respondents stating that this already forms part of their data storage strategy, whether or not that data is encrypted or made unreadable via some other mechanism.

    • Next moves for the IPB: Split, Delay or Publish?

      Last week we heard three parliamentary committees’ criticisms of the Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB). All in all they had 123 recommendations about changes that need to be made to the Bill. So what’s next for this huge surveillance Bill?

    • The push-me-pull-yous of public policy: surveillance and freedom of information

      Surveillance and freedom of information are the push-me-pull-yous of public policy.

    • Declassified letter from 2002 defends warrantless taps

      A previously classified letter defending President George W. Bush’s controversial warrantless wiretap program deployed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks sought to justify the strategy as “the most effective method’’ to defend the country from additional assaults.

    • 2002 Letter Lays Out Bush’s Legal Authority For Conducting Surveillance After 9/11
    • Revealed: How The Bush Administration Argued Legal Loopholes for NSA Snooping
    • Classified 2002 Letter on NSA Eavesdropping Is Made Public
    • Apple Wins Big: Court Rejects FBI’s Argument For Hacking Drug Dealer’s iPhone
    • Former CIA Agent Barry Eisler Turned Writer on Imagining/Predicting Gov’t Surveillance
    • Apple to Court: FBI’s Failure Should Not Force Apple to Undermine Global Security
    • Voter Privacy: What You Need to Know About Your Digital Trail During the 2016 Election
    • Judge In Different Apple Case Says That All Writs Act Doesn’t Mean Apple Needs To Help Feds Break Into Phone
    • Spy continues to work at GCHQ despite rape allegations

      A GCHQ spy accused of rape by two women is still working at the secretive security agency because the police “did not properly investigate” the women’s claims, one of the alleged victims has said.

      The first alleged victim, who met the 28-year-old security officer through the dating website Plenty of Fish in 2010, said police ignored her claims twice, even after a second victim, a woman who worked with him at the GCHQ offices in Gloucestershire, came forward in 2013, the Mirror reports.

    • ACLU Sounds Alarm As Obama Administration Plans Quiet NSA Expansion

      Civil liberties advocates slammed reports on Friday that the Obama administration is poised to authorize the National Security Agency (NSA) to share more of its private intercepted communications with other U.S. intelligence agencies without expanding privacy protections.

      “Before we allow them to spread that information further in the government, we need to have a serious conversation about how to protect Americans’ information,” Alex Abdo, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, told the New YorkTimes.

      The change would loosen restrictions on access to the communications that are collected in mass data sweeps, including emails and phone calls, the Times reported, citing “officials familiar with the deliberations.”

    • Apple Wins Major Court Victory Against FBI in a Case Similar to San Bernardino

      Apple scored a major legal victory in its ongoing battle against the FBI on Monday when a federal magistrate judge in New York rejected the U.S. government’s request as part of a drug case to force the company to help it extract data from a locked iPhone. The ruling from U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein was issued as part of the criminal case against Jun Feng, who pleaded guilty in October to drug charges. It is a significant boost to Apple’s well-publicized campaign to resist the FBI’s similar efforts in the case of the San Bernardino killers.

    • Want To Report A Dangerous Drug Dealer? Just Enter Your Personal Info Into The DEA’s Unsecured Webform

      Chris Soghoian, the ACLU’s chief technologist, has decided to troll the DEA. His complaint is valid, though. The problem is, how do you troll the DEA when it’s almost impossible to find the contact info of the person you want to speak to? Just like the FBI has more options at its disposal than simply demanding Apple help it beat down an iPhone’s front door, Soghoian was able to route around the DEA’s unforthcoming attitude.

    • FBI Claims It Has No Record Of Why It Deleted Its Recommendation To Encrypt Phones

      Then, last year, I noticed that the page had been deleted. Seemed curious, so I sent in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the FBI to better understand why that page had magically been deleted, just at the time it seemed to contradict the FBI Director’s statements about encryption.

    • Courts, DOJ: Using Tor Doesn’t Give You A Greater Expectation Of Privacy

      In this month alone, we’ve had two federal judges and the DOJ state that there’s no expectation of privacy in IP addresses. This would normally be something covered by the Third Party Doctrine — where an IP address is part of the records retained by ISPs, and therefore, can be accessed with subpoenas rather than warrants.

      The twist, though, is that all of these statements were made in reference to people who made an active effort to obscure their IP addresses by using Tor.

    • Privacy Advocates Blast Plan to Expand NSA Data Sharing

      The Obama administration plans to increase the amount of private communications the National Security Agency can share with other government agencies without first adding privacy protections, according to a report published last week in The New York Times.

      The plan would ease restrictions on the amount of intercepted email and telephone intelligence the NSA gathers, including bulk collection of satellite communications, phone data between foreigners, and messages from overseas that U.S. allies provide, according to the report, which cited unnamed officials familiar with the deliberations.

      The move represents a major expansion of surveillance and data sharing authority and has been a longstanding concern of privacy groups, according to Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

      “There are significant privacy implications that EPIC will examine in detail,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

    • CIA And NSA Directors Blame The Media For Terrorists Using Encryption

      When it comes to the conversation that’s going on about the use of encryption, CIA director John Brennan and NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett have acquitted themselves rather poorly on a regular basis. It’s been an ongoing source of frustration to see the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks in particular devolve into a discussion on encryption, despite all evidence suggesting that those attacks weren’t planned using any kind of encryption at all. That didn’t keep Brennan from claiming that the CIA was unable to keep attacks from occurring due to encryption, nor has it stopped the calls from intelligence officials for even more data collection, despite the fact that those same officials have proven to be soft targets for hackers themselves. Ledgett, meanwhile, has proven to be an adversary of the free press, cheering on the destruction of computers from The Guardian.

    • European Pact Legalizes Facebook, Google, Amazon Data Transfers

      Privacy advocates railed Monday after the European Union unveiled a 128-page framework for trans-Atlantic data transfers that, the advocates said, amounts to little more than “10 layers of lipstick on a pig.” The document outlines the specifics of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, which replaces the 15-year-old Safe Harbor agreement struck down in October in a case that pitted Austrian grad student Max Schrems against Facebook[ticker symb=FB]. Schrems alleged Facebook misused Europeans’ data in cooperation with a National Security Agency program. Facebook has denied the allegation. U.S. spying tactics fell under scrutiny in 2013 after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden released thousands of classified documents allegedly detailing mass surveillance by the government.

    • ‘Privacy shield’ – the new deal governing how Europe’s user data is sent to the US
    • Privacy Shield doomed from get-go? NSA bulk surveillance waved through

      The European Commission has published details of its transatlantic “Privacy Shield” agreement, which is designed to ensure that personal information of citizens is protected to EU standards when it is sent to the US—even though it would appear that the NSA will continue to carry out bulk collection of data under the new pact.

      The new deal replaces the earlier Safe Harbour framework, which was struck down by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) following a complaint by privacy activist Max Schrems.

      An accompanying Privacy Shield FAQ released by Brussels’ officials explained that there are four main elements. According to the commission, the new agreement will “contain effective supervision mechanisms to ensure that companies respect their obligations, including sanctions or exclusion if they do not comply.”

    • System Updates: Governments Can Hack Most Software Using This “Golden Key” Backdoor

      When you read the headlines like “FBI is forcing Apple to create a backdoor in their products”, what you are really reading is that the FBI is forcing iPhone-maker to use the “pre-existing software update backdoor” present in iPhones. Surprisingly, a backdoor already exists in most software in the form of system updates and the US government is looking to exploit the same.

    • Leaked! Details Of The New Congressional Commission To Take On The Encryption Issue

      Back in December, we wrote about plans by Rep. Mike McCaul and Senator Mark Warner to put together a “commission” to figure out what to do about the encryption “issue.” In his speech, McCaul did at least say that “providing a backdoor into everybody’s iPhone was not going to be a very good strategy” since it would open things up to hackers, but at the very same time, he kept saying that we had to somehow stop bad people (terrorists, criminals, child predators) from using encryption. He also keeps insisting that the Paris attackers used encryption, despite lots of evidence to the contrary. So it’s not entirely clear what the point of this Commission is, other than to chase down some mythical solution that doesn’t exist.

      The basic problem is this: to have real security you need strong encryption. And if you have strong encryption, people who are both good and bad can use it. So either you undermine strong encryption for everyone — harming the vast majority of good people out there — or you allow strong encryption, meaning that some bad people can use it. The only way to have strong encryption but not allow the bad guys to use it is to have a technology distinguish who is “bad” from who is “good.” I’m pretty sure that’s impossible because there’s no universal standard for what makes a “bad” or “good” person, and definitely not one that can be implemented in device hardware or software. So a commission seems like a waste of time.

    • NSA Spying, Privacy and the Fourth Amendment: The Views of U.S. Presidential Candidates

      Sanders, who voted against the Patriot Act and the U.S.A. Freedom Act, stated in a Time article last year: “Do we really want to live in a country where the NSA gathers data on virtually every single phone call in the United States – including as many as 5 billion cellphone records per day? I don’t.”

      Arguing against the U.S.A. Freedom Act in 2015, Sanders wrote: “Do we really want our government to collect our emails, see our text messages, know everyone’s Internet browsing history, monitor bank and credit card transactions, keep tabs on people’s social networks? I don’t.”

      “The Intercept” (theintercept.com) funded by billionaire Pierre Omidyar teamed with Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and former Nation writer Jeremy Scahill, has become the custodian of Snowden’s immense archive of classified documents, which it continues to mine for stories.

      Edward Snowden is living in asylum in Russia and currently in negotiations with the U.S. Justice Department. In February, he told a libertarian forum he will return home if he is guaranteed a “fair trial” and “can make a public interest defense of why this was done and allow a jury to decide.”

    • The Most Important Passages From Apple’s Challenge to the FBI

      GovtOS. That’s what Apple Inc. calls the newest product in its pipeline. It’s not the brainchild of the gadget masters in Cupertino but rather an iPhone operating system conceived by some buttoned-down folks in Washington, D.C. Unlike the latest iPhone or iPad, it wasn’t revealed on a stage before thousands of the faithful. Instead, it was unveiled in a stark response to the Obama administration’s attempt to force the computer maker to assist in a terrorism probe. And, Apple has warned, it may someday lead to every American being made an unwilling assistant to law enforcement.

    • ‘I’d move heaven and Earth’ to access Lavrov’s emails – former head of NSA and CIA

      Privacy seems less and less attainable these days, as foreign spy agencies target top political figures. The former director of both the NSA and CIA told US Today that he’d “move heaven and Earth” to access Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s email.

      Retired four-star general Michael Hayden, the only person who has ever served as both the director of the NSA and CIA, made the comments while criticizing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for emails.

    • Spy who used Plenty of Fish dating site is accused of rape by two women but is still working for GCHQ because ‘police did not take their claims seriously’

      A spy accused of rape by two women, including one he met on dating website Plenty of Fish, is still working at GCHQ amid allegations police did ‘not take their claims seriously’.

      Both alleged victims say police ignored their claims about the national security expert, who is still working at the top secret intelligence headquarters in Gloucestershire.

      Details of the case emerged in a civil court hearing in which it was revealed that the worker had once been dismissed by GCHQ managers after child porn was discovered on his computer.

    • Spy accused of rape still working for GCHQ because ‘police did not properly investigate’ claims, alleged victim says

      A secret service official accused of rape by two different women he has had relationships with is described him as ‘untouchable’

  • Civil Rights

    • Panel: Poland’s constitutional crisis endangers democracy

      An international human rights commission says a crisis affecting the functioning of Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal has endangered the rule of law, democracy and human rights.

    • Council of Europe criticises Poland’s court changes – report

      The Council of Europe’s advisory body has said reforms of Poland’s constitutional court pose a danger to the rule of law in the European Union member state, dealing another blow to the eurosceptic Warsaw government’s legal changes.

      Poland asked the Council’s Venice Commission to comment on the legal changes after parliament overruled appointments made to the tribunal by the previous government, causing uncertainty over its proceedings.

    • Police Shoot 17-Year-Old Teenager For Refusing To Drop Broomstick

      On Saturday night, two Salt Lake City officers shot a black teenager in his torso because he refused orders to drop his weapon — a broomstick. The shooting, which left the teen in critical condition, led to clashes between protesters and police.

      The Salt Lake City Police Department says the shooting occurred when two officers saw two men, including 17-year-old Abdi Mohamed, attacking another man with metal objects. In the officers’ version of events, Mohamed refused to drop his weapon and moved to attack the victim, prompting the officers to open fire.

    • Virginia Senate Committee Approves Bill to Withhold Public Employee Information

      The legislation was passed by the General Laws and Technology Committee whose rationale was to protect the private information of public employees from possible hackers.

    • Virginia Senate Votes To Exempt Police Officers’ Information From FOIA Responses

      Way to go, Virginia. In a time when police accountability is (finally!) a mainstream media topic, the Virginia state legislature is having none of it.

    • Federal Judge Says Third Party Doctrine A Perfectly ‘Good Law;’ No Warrants Needed To Obtain Cell Location Records

      Back in December, a Connecticut state court ruled that tracking people in near-real time with cell site location info required the use of a warrant. Three months later, a Connecticut federal court has ruled law enforcement can obtain CSLI without a warrant, in bulk and for extended periods of time. While the opinion doesn’t address the use of subpoenas and CSLI as a makeshift Stingray (for real-time tracking), it does come down firmly on the side of the government’s interpretation of the Third Party Doctrine.

    • Freed from Detention in Bahrain, U.S. Journalist Describes Interrogation & Ongoing Crackdown

      We continue our exclusive interview with one of four U.S. journalists who were detained in the Gulf state of Bahrain and released Sunday after an international outcry. Anna Therese Day and her camera crew were in Bahrain during protests marking the anniversary of the kingdom’s February 2011 uprising. She describes their interrogation and the ongoing crackdown on journalists and human rights advocates in Bahrain.

    • Only In America: An Indiscreet Selfie Can Put A Kid In Prison

      Did you know that if you are an American under 18 years old and you use your cell phone to send a nude “selfie” of yourself to a friend, you can be convicted of manufacturing and distributing “child pornography” and sent to prison? In case you are too old to be in the loop, a “selfie” is a photo that one makes of oneself.

      This is how expansively prosecutors, whose main purpose in life is to ruin as many people as possible, interpret laws passed to protect children from sexual exploitation.

    • When Immigration Detention Becomes a Death Sentence

      New report shows ICE is not holding immigration detention facilities accountable for medical neglect.

      On an April morning in 2012, at about 5:24 a.m., a guard inside the Denver Contract Detention Facility initiated a Code Blue emergency because he saw a detainee in medical distress. Minutes later, nursing staff arrived and found 46-year-old Evalin-Ali Mandza lying on the bed in his cell, holding his chest, and complaining of severe chest pain. He was having a heart attack.

      Denver Contract Detention Facility (DCDF) is one of approximately 250 detention facilities around the country that hold immigrants with pending deportation proceedings. It is operated by GEO Group, Inc. — a private prison company with annual revenues of nearly $1.7 billion — under a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency responsible for detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants.

      After moving Mr. Mandza out of his cell, a nurse attempted to take an electrocardiogram. However, she was unable to get a reading because she had not been trained on the EKG machine and did not know how to use it. She then performed the wrong test. Once the nurse performed the correct test, she was unable to interpret the results because she had not been trained on this either.

    • Victory! State Department Will Try to Fix Wassenaar Arrangement

      Regular readers of this blog will likely be familiar with the Wassenaar Arrangement, a 41-nation agreement intended to regulate the export of certain “dual-use” technologies, such as guns and fissile material. In December 2013, the list of controlled technologies was amended to include surveillance systems for the first time and the participating countries have slowly been rolling out their implementations ever since. Today, news outlets in Washington DC are reporting that the State Department has finally agreed to try to renegotiate the language of the Wassenaar Arrangement to eliminate the 2013 changes.

  • DRM

    • Digital Rights Management Faces “Big Data,” Multiple-Rightsholder Challenges

      Managing copyright in digital musical works can be difficult because there are multiple rights holders and no standards for exchanging the massive amounts of data involved. Digital rights management services LyricFind and Rumblefish are among organisations working to streamline access to online content, company chiefs say.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • UNITAID Report On Delinking R&D Costs From Medicines Prices

      Delinkage of research and development costs from medicines prices could “vastly expand” access to medicines by drastically dropping costs of the knowledge component of health products, innovative medicines R&D facility UNITAID says in a new report.

      The report, entitled: “An economic perspective on delinking the cost of R&D from the price of medicines,” [pdf] was published on 26 February. The report summary from UNITAID is available here.

    • Re:Route – A Ready Reckoner Of Alternative R&D Models For Health

      The student-driven project, funded by Open Society Foundations, is a qualitative review of the alternative R&D initiatives around the world, in time for the United Nations High Level Panel on Access to Medicines dialogue next month.

    • Copyrights

      • Microsoft Sues Pirating Comcast Subscriber

        Microsoft has filed a complaint at a federal court in Washington accusing a Comcast subscriber of activating various pirated copies of its software. The account was identified by Microsoft’s in-house cyberforensics team which logs suspicious “activation patterns.”

      • Pirate radio playlist

        One of the UK’s most interesting historical legacies in music does not involve the actual bands that made up the British Invasion, but rather the people who played these band’s records illegally.

      • FBI Busts Movie Industry Insider for DVD Screener Leaks

        A 31-year old man from Lancaster has been arrested following an FBI investigation into several leaked DVD-screeners. The man, who worked in the entertainment industry, pleaded guilty to uploading screener copies of The Revenant and The Peanuts Movie to the private BitTorrent tracker Pass The Popcorn.

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