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03.18.16

Links 18/3/2016: Slackware 14.2 With Linux 4.5, Remi Repo at 100,000,000 Downloads

Posted in News Roundup at 8:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Is Killing Us

    Garrison is half-right about the fatal nature of open source. Viewed in isolation, these problems are insurmountable.

    But if you put them together, the problems solve each other. Service providers overwhelmed by open source can turn to vendors to solve the problem, and pay the vendors to do it.

    Sure, it’s a tough competitive environment for both service providers and vendors. But that’s what disruption looks like.

  • Scott Brandt appointed to Sage Weil Presidential Chair for Open Source Software

    Brandt is a founding faculty member of CROSS, which was created to bridge the gap between student research and open-source software projects. Weil developed his Ph.D. thesis project into a highly successful open-source software product, the data storage system Ceph.

  • What it really means to be open source

    This week on Ctrl-Walt-Delete, Walt and Nilay take on the long-running dispute of the public opinion on open source tech, and whether there actually is a hard definition of “open” and “closed.”

  • Online ad blocker spat shows strategic power of trademarks in open source ecosystem

    Secondly, the dispute stands out because it provides an example of how a business operating an open-source model can call upon trademarks as a way of creating product differentiation and competitive advantage. I have previously reported on this with regards to the open source Debian and Python projects, which have both leveraged trademarks rights to protect their interests. The open source community typically eschews patent protection and is often characterised as harbouring anti-IP sentiments; but Eyeo’s complaint over Magic AdBlock shows the importance that trademarks can have in open source models.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Foundation Logo, Website Get New Look

      There’s a new look at the FreeBSD Foundation, with a new logo and website. The changes are intended to highlight “the ongoing evolution of the Foundation identity and ability to better serve the FreeBSD Project,” according to the post announcing the changes.

  • Public Services/Government

    • NY bill would provide tax credit for open source contributors

      For many years, the open source software community has made the distinction between “free as in freedom” (the software can be used or modified as the user sees fit) and “free as in beer” (the software is available at no cost). Some have added a third type of free: “free as in puppy”. Like a puppy, adopting open source software has ongoing cost.

      What many people don’t consider is that developing open source software has a cost, too. Many developers purchase extra hardware for testing or pay for code hosting, a website, etc. A pending bill in the New York Senate aims to help offset those costs.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • DHS Unloads Tons of Open-Source Mapping Data, But Will Startups Rejoice?

        Open-source data—be it a compilation of informative files, a crucial API that bring together different features or downloadable yearly Census Bureau data—can be an important resources for bootstrapped startups looking for a leg up in the development stages. That’s why we spoke with Esri, a mapping technology data firm with a sizable office in D.C., who recently helped the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unload a ton of open-source, mapping datasets for public use.

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak criticises the company over the Apple Watch in Reddit AMA

    Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, has said he’s ‘worried’ about the direction the Apple Watch is taking the company.

  • Apple co-founder criticises company over Apple Watch

    Steve Wozniak said device has taken firm into ‘jewellery market’ and that it is no longer ‘the company that really changed the world a lot’

  • Health/Nutrition

    • #FlintWaterCrisis: I Don’t Think That Report Said What You Think It Said, Gov

      Today’s House Oversight Committee hearing into the Flint Water Crisis was a joke. It was partisan — more so than the previous two hearings — because Republicans finally clued in that a Republican state governor’s crisis doesn’t make them look good if they don’t kick up a stink and draw fire away from their role in the mess.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Locky Ransomware Spreading in Massive Spam Attack

      Trustwave said over the last seven days, malware-laced spam has represented 18 percent of total spam collected in its honeypots. Trustwave said malware-infected spam typically represent less than 2 percent of total spam. The recent increase to 18 percent is almost entirely traced to ransomware JavaScript downloaders. Campaigns aren’t continuous, Trustwave reported, but are delivered in hour-long bursts.

    • Considering Docker? Consider Security First

      Containers started making a big splash in IT and dev operations starting in 2014. The benefits of flexibility and go-live times, among many others, are almost undeniable. But large enterprises considering using a container platform for development or IT operations should pause and consider security first.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • NYT: ISIS Uses Birth Control to Maintain Supply of Sex Slaves

      Of course I do not in any way condone ISIS, rape, terrorism, violence, victim shaming or slavery. But I do have what I believe are legitimate questions about a New York Times story involving those topics, and hope I can ask them here without being accused of supporting things I find abhorrent.

      I ask these questions only because while rape is tragically used all-to-often as a tool of war, claims by people or groups in war can sometimes be untrue, exaggerated, or reported erroneously for political aims. Iraqi defectors lied about WMDs to help draw America into the 2003 invasion. Claims in 1991 that Iraqi invaders bayoneted Kuwaiti children in their incubators were completely fabricated. In 2011 Susan Rice announced Libya’s Qaddafi was handing out Viagra, so that his soldiers could commit more rapes, it was a lie.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Indefensible Stance on the Death Penalty

      IF THERE WAS anything surprising about Hillary Clinton’s defense of capital punishment when questioned by an Ohio death row exoneree Sunday night, it was only that she was not better prepared to deliver it. This was no gotcha question, no unscripted ambush like the one carried out last month by Black Lives Matter protesters who confronted Clinton at a fundraiser with her ’90s-era rhetoric about “superpredators.” Although the CNN-sponsored Democratic town hall dictated that candidates do not receive questions in advance, the Clinton campaign almost certainly knew that Ricky Jackson, who spent an incomprehensible 39 years in prison as an innocent man, would be in the audience — and that if called upon, he would probably ask Clinton to justify her support for a policy that sent him to die for a crime he did not commit.

    • “Look like war crimes to me”: Congressman raises concerns over U.S. support for Saudi war in Yemen

      For almost a year, a Saudi-led coalition of Middle Eastern countries, backed and armed by the U.S. and U.K., has been bombing Yemen, the poorest country in the region. Saudi Arabia hopes to destroy Yemeni rebel groups such as the Houthis, and has bombed hospitals, homes, schools and even a refugee camp in the process.

      Civilians have paid a heavy toll for the conflict. Thousands have been killed, and human rights groups have for months accused the coalition of committing war crimes.

    • PR firm accused of helping Saudi Arabia ‘whitewash’ its human rights record

      One of the world’s largest advertising agencies has been accused of helping Saudi Arabia “whitewash” its record on human rights following the kingdom’s largest mass execution for more than 30 years.

      A US subsidiary of Publicis Groupe, the French media conglomerate that owns UK brands such as Saatchi & Saatchi, distributed an article in which the kingdom’s foreign minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir implicitly attempted to justify the execution of 47 people.

      A number of political protesters and at least four juveniles are believed to have been among those killed in January. Human rights groups are increasingly worried that three more juveniles – including Ali al-Nimr, who was sentenced to death aged 17 for taking part in a pro-democracy protest – are due to be executed imminently.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • MuckRock’s FOIA Redaction Hall Of Shame

      In 2013, there was controversy abounded when The Times of London alleged that Beyoncé’s perfect rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” during Obama’s second inauguration was the work of lip-syncing. Unperturbed, MuckRock’s founder Michael Morisy seized on this as an opportunity to use FOIA to release those tracks, providing public-domain Bey for all. Sadly, his efforts were thwarted by a combination of FOIA not working that way, and of all things, John Williams. Yes, that John Williams.

      Adding insult to injury (a phrase that will come up more than once in this article), Michael’s follow-up request for the processing notes on his request included a very notable omission.

    • San Francisco Legislators Dodging Public Records Requests With Self-Destructing Text Messages

      Legislators and government employees aren’t allowed to choose which laws to comply with any more than the rest of us. (Theoretically…) Communications between government employees that are subject to open records requests need to be carried out on platforms where they can be searched and archived. This means no use of Telegram, just like it means no setting up your own private email server.

      The irony, of course, is that legislators are currently discussing encrypted communications (including encryption bans) and how law enforcement can no longer obtain communications they used to be able to grab with a warrant. Meanwhile, their own communications are being withheld from the public record… using encryption and automatic destruction. Perhaps the public needs to start issuing statements about how they used to get all these text messages with public records requests but can’t anymore, thanks to the efforts of the government.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Hottest Winter On Record By Far Drives Devastating Weather Disasters Globally

      December to February was the hottest meteorological winter ever by far, topping the previous record by a jaw-dropping half a degree Fahrenheit. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that this winter was a remarkable 2.03°F above the 20th century average.

      This extreme warmth — caused primarily by the accelerating human-caused global warming trend (with a boost from El Niño) — is a key reason a number of countries have already “set records for the all-time most expensive weather-related disaster in their nations’ history” this year, as meteorologist Jeff Masters has explained.

      We already knew from NASA surface temperature data and from the satellite data that this was the hottest February on record by far. Indeed, every database confirms that February was the most extreme deviation from “normal” temperatures ever recorded for any month!

    • Greenpeace Launches Maps Tracking “near real-time” Indonesian Deforestation and Fires

      As a new forest fire crisis builds in the country, with fire hotspots numbering in the hundreds on many recent days, Greenpeace Indonesia today launched a mapping tool allowing the public to monitor fires and deforestation in near-real time, and see to an unprecedented extent who controls the land where they are taking place.

    • Indonesia offers a cool million to whoever can help take the heat off its peatlands

      Last year, fires burned 2 million hectares of peatlands in Indonesia, creating an acrid haze that affected several neighbouring Southeast Asian countries.

      As nations met in Paris late last year to agree a deal to limit global greenhouse gas emissions, the huge carbon pool stored in the peatlands was going up in smoke at an unprecedented rate.

      Big companies have cleared a massive amount of peat forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan and drained the land to establish tree and oil palm plantations. Global Forest Watch estimates that the fires have tripled Indonesia’s entire annual emissions. Peatlands have become an important issue, not only in Indonesia but for the whole world.

  • Finance

    • Beef industry will suffer significantly if TTIP deal between EU and US goes ahead: Michelle O’Neill

      Farming minister Michelle O’Neill says the beef industry in Northern Ireland would “suffer significantly” if a major trade deal between the EU and US gets the green light.

    • Dictator Bling

      President Aliev has wasted billions on “prestige” projects. Hosting the Eurovision song contest, the European Games and now a Formula 1 Grand Prix. But ordinary people are struggling to get by on incomes which were already at third world standards and whose value has fallen still further with the collapse of the manat. None of which matters to the empty-headed bling merchants of Formula 1.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Coming Up: Amy Goodman on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, March 20
    • Fascism: Can It Happen Here?

      “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross,” goes a saying…

    • Evidence-based policy? Only if it fits with your preconceptions

      The deep irony in this will not be missed by anyone who’s been following UK higher education. Researchers are increasingly being forced to spend their time and money on ‘impact’ activities – defined as ‘an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia’. Impact activities already count for 20% in the Research Excellence Framework – the assessment exercise that determines central (non-grant) research funding. A recent FOI request suggests that it could rise to 25%. Yet now we’re being told that we must not spend government grant money on anything that will have an effect on public policy. It’s absurd.

    • When Your Media Are ‘Disappointed’ by Opposition to Bigotry

      As the aggressive behavior of his supporters becomes as much of a story as the violence implied in his politics, Donald Trump is bringing together folks who agree on little else to denounce him. It’s true Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have policies in some ways even more regressive than Trump’s, but then neither of them is openly pining for the days when protesters were carried off on stretchers.

      Turnout by thousands of appalled citizens led to the cancellation of Trump’s Chicago rally, and a coalition of public interest groups, including MoveOn, Color of Change, Greenpeace and Jobs with Justice, released an open letter calling for a mass Nonviolent Mobilization to Stand Up to what they called a “five alarm fire” for democracy.

    • This is how Singapore teaches children to stay away from drugs

      The city-state has been distributing morbid anti-drug propaganda in its schools. So we asked an expert what Singapore’s harsh anti-drug policies actually achieve in reality.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • ‘Chilling Effect’ of Mass Surveillance Is Silencing Dissent Online, Study Says

      Thanks largely to whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, most Americans now realize that the intelligence community monitors and archives all sorts of online behaviors of both foreign nationals and US citizens.

      But did you know that the very fact that you know this could have subliminally stopped you from speaking out online on issues you care about?

      Now research suggests that widespread awareness of such mass surveillance could undermine democracy by making citizens fearful of voicing dissenting opinions in public.

      A paper published last week in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, the flagship peer-reviewed journal of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), found that “the government’s online surveillance programs may threaten the disclosure of minority views and contribute to the reinforcement of majority opinion.”

    • Canadian Librarians Must Be Ready to Fight the Feds on Running a Tor Node

      Political dissidents and cyber criminals alike will soon be sending anonymous internet traffic through a library at Western University in Canada, thanks to a new “node” in the encrypted Tor network operated by staff there—the first to open at a library in the country.

      In Canada, the legality of running a Tor node is essentially untested, making the high profile, institutionally-backed node at Western a potential target for the feds.

      Tor is touted as a tool for people, such as journalists, to keep their browsing habits safe from spies and police. But more nefarious traffic, such as drug dealing or child pornography, also passes through the network. A small public library in New Hampshire began operating a Tor node last year, and faced pressure from the Department of Homeland Security to shut it down. The library resisted, and the node is still running.

    • A Government Error Just Revealed Snowden Was the Target in the Lavabit Case

      It’s been one of the worst-kept secrets for years: the identity of the person the government was investigating in 2013 when it served the secure email firm Lavabit with a court order demanding help spying on a particular customer.

      Ladar Levison, owner of the now defunct email service, has been forbidden since then, under threat of contempt and possibly jail time, from identifying who the government was investigating. In court documents from the case unsealed in late 2013, all information that could identify the customer was redacted.

      But federal authorities recently screwed up and revealed the secret themselves when they published a cache of case documents but failed to redact one identifying piece of information about the target: his email address, Ed_Snowden@lavabit.com. With that, the very authorities holding the threat of jail time over Levison’s head if he said anything have confirmed what everyone had long ago presumed: that the target account was Snowden’s.

    • Five Big Unanswered Questions About NSA’s Worldwide Spying

      Nearly three years after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gave journalists his trove of documents on the intelligence community’s broad and powerful surveillance regime, the public is still missing some crucial, basic facts about how the operations work.

      Surveillance researchers and privacy advocates published a report on Wednesday outlining what we do know, thanks to the period of discovery post-Snowden — and the overwhelming amount of things we don’t.

      The NSA’s domestic surveillance was understandably the initial focus of public debate. But that debate never really moved on to examine the NSA’s vastly bigger foreign operations.

    • NSA ‘Zero Days’ Process to Stay Secret

      EFF’s suit was filed in the wake of news reports claiming the government knew for two years about the Heartbleed Bug, a widespread security flaw affecting an estimated two-thirds of the world’s websites, without disclosing the threat.

    • Sharing baby pictures on social networks is a dangerous game

      Here’s the background: The French Parliament is currently debating a series of regulations on the digital economy and as part of its measures, it has defined a new constraint that basically prohibits parents to upload pictures and videos of their (minor) children on social networks. According to the draft, if parents do upload this content on social networks they may get risk being sued by their own children and may be liable for civil damages and compensation. I do not know what will become of the whole draft nor that specific provision itself. What happened to me, following the news reports about the project, is that several of my friends tweeted and discussed online whether French had lost their sanity.

      [...]

      But to Melissa and I, we do this because we do not want to bring our son at his young age into the nets of marketers, big data, and surveillance. We do not want to put his face out there, despite the fact that we love him so tenderly. We do not want him to be identifiable unless he hasn’t expressed an actual will to do so.

    • Thinking About the Term “Backdoor”

      In a recent Deeplinks post and in some of our other communications about the Apple case, we’ve referred to what the government wants Apple to do as creating a “backdoor.” Some people have questioned the use of the term, but we think it’s appropriate. Here’s why.

      The term “backdoor” has a long history. It was originally used—along with “trapdoor”—throughout the 1980s to refer to secret accounts and/or passwords created to allow someone unknown access into a system. People worried, for instance, that a malicious programmer or system administrator might leave behind a trapdoor that they would be able to use to get into a system long after they were officially working on it. Later, in the first round of the crypto wars, throughout the 1990s, privacy advocates often referred to the government’s key escrow proposals—where the government, or private companies, would keep copies of people’s decryption keys—as a “backdoor” into our encryption.

    • Transatlantic coalition of civil society groups: Privacy Shield is not enough, must return to negotiating tables

      Today, more than two dozen civil society groups sent a letter to European leaders reviewing the “Privacy Shield” data-transfer agreement with a singular message: this arrangement is not enough. The Privacy Shield is intended to allow companies to share data about customers across the Atlantic. Unfortunately, the Privacy Shield fails to provide sufficient clarity, oversight, remedy, or protections for the human rights of E.U. citizens against U.S. surveillance practices. The letter specifically calls for legislative reform of U.S. surveillance laws, increased protections for personal data, and additional redress and transparency mechanisms.

    • NSA ‘not interested in’ Americans, privacy officer claims [Ed: Lying again, and there’s so much evidence to show it]

      The National Security Agency’s internal civil liberties watchdog insisted on Thursday that the agency has no interest in spying on Americans under its controversial spying tools.

    • How Apple Could Lose By Winning: The DOJ’s Next Move Could Be Worse
    • NSA refused Clinton a secure BlackBerry like Obama, so she used her own
    • Apple to FBI: Why Don’t You Ask the NSA?

      After weeks of relentlessly negging each other in their legal filings and the press, Apple and the FBI are getting in their final punches before heading to court next week.

    • Former Presidential Cybersecurity ‘Czar’ Slams DOJ/FBI For Its Position On Apple Encryption
    • This is the phone NSA suggested Clinton use: A $4,750 Windows CE PDA [Ed: recommends Windows … because it has back doors to it]

      SME PED devices were only NSA-approved mobile phones for classified communications.

    • Peacefully protesting pensioner arrested outside NSA spy base

      Police arrested a 74-year-old peace activist who refused to leave a protest site outside an NSA spy base in Yorkshire on Wednesday. The force also issued an official dispersal order banning protesters from assembling there.

      Lindis Percy, a founding member of Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB), was arrested by police at the Menwith Hill US listening post.

    • Five Big Unanswered Questions About NSA’s Worldwide Spying

      Nearly three years after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gave journalists his trove of documents on the intelligence community’s broad and powerful surveillance regime, the public is still missing some crucial, basic facts about how the program works.

      Surveillance researchers and privacy advocates published a report on Wednesday outlining what we do know, thanks to the period of discovery post-Snowden — and the overwhelming amount of things we don’t.

  • Civil Rights

    • I Discovered My Company Was Evil During A Routine Audit

      What’s the worst thing your boss has ever done? Made you work on the weekend? Sexually harassed the secretary? Gave millions of dollars to an infamous dictator? Jack’s boss did that last one, and all of a sudden having to cancel your Saturday BBQ doesn’t sound so bad, huh?

      Jack was an accountant for SNC-Lavalin, a Montreal-based engineering firm that managed to single-handedly disprove every nice stereotype about Canadians. Between 2001 and 2011, SNC bribed Muammar Gaddafi and friends with millions of dollars in exchange for cushy contracts, and Jack discovered it during a routine audit. He told us all about learning that his bosses were secretly funding supervillains.

    • Corruption Smells Like Burning Human Flesh

      Crematoria are profitable private businesses.

    • Police Accountability Doesn’t Stop At the Schoolhouse Door

      On December 16, 2010, the Salt Lake City Police Department and the Safe Streets Violent Crimes Task Force, in coordination with Salt Lake City School District officials, entered West High School in Salt Lake City to conduct a gang raid. Each one of the young people detained during the raid had brown skin. Not one was accused of committing a crime, but it didn’t matter. They were treated like criminals and labeled as gang members.

    • The Public’s Need for the Full Story of CIA Torture Has Gotten Even More Urgent

      Given the recent and re-manufactured debate over torture’s legality, morality, and “effectiveness,” our nation is presented with a stark choice: Do we learn from one of the darkest chapters in our history, or do we repeat our most grievous and heinous mistakes?

      With our core values hanging in the balance, now — perhaps more than ever — it is imperative that the Senate torture report see the light of day.

    • Medical Examiner Sues City Of New York After Being Forced Out Of Her Job For Questioning DNA Testing Techniques

      A lawsuit recently filed by an allegedly ousted New York City medical examiner lends more credibility to the theory that the justice system is more concerned with successful prosecutions than actual justice. At the center of the allegations lies a DNA testing technique apparently used nowhere else in the country.

    • Corporate Media’s ‘Ideal’ Supreme Court Nominee Embraced ‘Legal Black Hole’ Theory

      As a candidate in 2008, Obama praised a Supreme Court ruling that affirmed that prisoners had a right to habeas corpus regardless of where they were held, calling it “a rejection of the Bush administration’s attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantánamo” (New York Times, 6/13/08). But that ruling was a reversal of an appeals court ruling that Garland had voted for; if you’re glad that the Supreme Court rejected the legal black hole theory, why put another judge there who embraced it?

    • The U.S. Government Is Still Fighting to Bury the Senate Torture Report

      Government lawyers on Thursday continued their fight to bury the Senate Torture Report, arguing before the D.C. District Court of Appeals that the 6,700-page text could not be released on procedural grounds.

      When the 500-page executive summary of the report was released more than a year ago, it prompted international outcry and renewed calls for prosecution. The summary describes not only the CIA’s rape and torture of detainees, but also how the agency consistently misrepresented the brutality and effectiveness of the torture program.

      But many of the most graphic details are in Volume III of the full report, which former Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein has said contains “excruciating” details on “each of the 119 known individuals who were held in CIA custody.”

    • Exclusive Video: NYPD Arrests Bill de Blasio Adviser for Filming Arrest of Homeless Man

      The New York Police Department is facing criticism after arresting an adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday night. Five Mualimm-ak was arrested while attempting to mediate a police confrontation with a homeless man in midtown Manhattan. Five Mualimm-ak had just left an event at George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, where he read his essay in the book “Hell is a Very Small Place,” about his five years in solitary confinement. Since being released from prison in 2012, Five Mualimm-ak has become a prominent advocate for previously incarcerated men and women. He serves on Mayor de Blasio’s Task Force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System. He was arrested Tuesday along with fellow prison activist Joseph “Jazz” Hayden. Five other people who attended the book reading were later arrested at the police precinct, where they went to inquire about the arrest of Five Mualimm-ak and Hayden. They were charged with “refusal to disperse.” We speak to Five Mualimm-ak and two other activists connected with Incarcerated Nation Corp., Joseph “Jazz” Hayden and Terrence Slater. All three were arrested on Tuesday.

    • Republican leaders quash talk of Supreme Court vote in lame duck

      Senate Republican leaders are tamping down talk in their conference of voting on Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court in the lame-duck session after the elections.

      Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, on Wednesday floated the idea of voting on Garland later this year if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency. Hatch describes himself as a good friend of Garland’s, and helped move his nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals through the Senate in 1997.

      Behind the scenes, several other Republicans have discussed the lame-duck option and voiced concerns that Clinton might nominate a judge who is even more liberal. They also worry about the selection that Donald Trump, their presidential front-runner, might make, according to one GOP lawmaker.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • US Congress Hearing All Positive On IANA Transition Process

      Witnesses testifying at the United States House Communications and Technology Subcommittee today unanimously reported success of the multistakeholder preparations for the transition of oversight over the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) from the US government to the multistakeholder internet community.

      The Director at the Global Internet Policy and Human Rights Project, Matthew Shears, called the proposals delivered by the two-year process at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) “the most successful expression of multistakeholder approaches to internet governance yet.”

    • Comcast Battles Google Fiber In Atlanta — With Threat Of Usage Caps Unless You Sign 3-Year Contract

      With Google Fiber now starting to encroach on some major Comcast territories, the company’s suddenly finding itself in the unfamiliar position of actually having to compete on price. In Atlanta, where Google Fiber is expected to appear later this year or early next, Comcast has been circulating flyers urging locals not to fall for the “hype” of ultra-fast, relatively cheap Google Fiber service.

    • YouTube Flips, Now Thinks T-Mobile’s Abuse Of Net Neutrality Is Ok, Following A Few Small Changes

      Last year you’ll recall that T-Mobile launched its “Binge On” zero rating program, which exempts the biggest video services from the company’s usage caps (aka “zero rating”). Net neutrality advocates quickly complained that the practice violated net neutrality, since the very act of giving some companies an advantage automatically disadvantages some others. After T-Mobile spent some time lying about the nature of the program, the EFF came out with a detailed report noting that T-Mobile was just throttling all video files back to 1.5 Mbps, whether the content was being streamed or directly downloaded.

      Net neutrality advocates like the EFF argued that the program should be opt in instead of opt out, voicing concerns that T-mobile continues to ignore. YouTube similarly initially complained about the program and that video partners were being throttled by default. But in a matter of months, Alphabet/Google appears to have completely changed its mind, issuing a new blog post that says it’s now partnering with T-Mobile to zero rate Google Play Movies and YouTube content traveling over the T-Mobile network.

    • Internet Domain Name Expansion Pushes Dispute Resolution Cases Up At WIPO

      The World Intellectual Property Organization has released data on disputes between trademark owners and third parties who are registering new domain names with the original brand name. Disputes are on the rise and the proportion relating to new generic top-level domain names is growing, it found. Fashion and banking are the prominent areas for disputes.

      [...]

      Asked to describe the relationship between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and WIPO, Gurry said WIPO historically has been charged with the development of a dispute resolution procedure, which was adopted by ICANN in 1998/1999.

    • AT&T Uses Binding Arbitration Mouse Print To Kill Throttling Class Action

      For years, AT&T used contract fine print to prohibit its customers from suing it. Instead, users were forced to participate in binding arbitration, a system whereby company-employed arbitrators weigh the evidence — and unsurprisingly rule in favor of the company employing them a dramatic majority of the time. Initially, lower courts repeatedly derided this behavior as an “unconscionable” curtailing of consumer rights and abuse of the law. But in 2011 the Supreme Court’s AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion ruling declared that what AT&T was doing was perfectly ok, resulting in countless companies now following AT&T’s lead.

    • T-Mobile and YouTube compromise on video throttling and zero-rating

      T-Mobile USA and YouTube have reached a compromise that will bring YouTube into T-Mobile’s Binge On program, which reduces streaming quality but exempts videos from data caps.

      The Google-owned YouTube was the most notable absence from Binge On when T-Mobile launched the program in November. YouTube later said that while reducing data charges can be good for customers, “it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent.”

    • Facebook Moves in to Make the Web a Facebook Monopoly

      There’s a a growing trend to close off publishing platforms by demanding a login in order to view the content. Which is a move away from an open web. In December 2015 Facebook launched its own in-app browser, which is basically a web-view that loads links you tap on using the Facebook app. It may provide convenience for some but the primary goal is to keep users inside the application longer. This opens up more advertising exposure and associated revenue. This poses a challenge to the open web because this overrides the user’s default mobile browser keeps the eyeballs in a closed ecosystem. The feature Instant Articles for publishers is done such that it loads articles available nearly instantly in the app compared to a mobile browser. This opens up for monetizing viewing and privacy invasions by Facebook on users. The in-app browser lack decent privacy controls.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • TTIP: Big business and US to have major say in EU trade deals, leak reveals

      The European Commission will be obliged to consult with US authorities before adopting new legislative proposals following passage of a controversial series of trade negotiations being carried out mostly in secret.

      A leaked document obtained by campaign group the Independent and Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) from the ongoing EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations reveals the unelected Commission will have authority to decide in which areas there should be cooperation with the US – leaving EU member states and the European Parliament further sidelined.

    • Trademarks

      • Macy’s Settles With Strategic Marks, Gives Up The Brands It Killed Off Through Acquisition

        About a year ago, we wrote about a somewhat strange trademark dispute between Macy’s and a company called Strategic Marks. The issue in the case was that Strategic Marks was attempting to sell merchandise and create popup stores for brands that had been dissolved through acquisition into larger companies, such as Macy’s. These brands were once staples of the storefront experience, including names like Marshall Field’s, Bullock’s, and Foley’s. All were once well-known regional department stores that Macy’s bought and rebranded as Macy’s stores. Macy’s, despite all of this, claimed it retained trademark ownership over those, despite their being generally unused.

    • Copyrights

      • Dancing Baby Trial Back On? Another Mixed Ruling in Lenz v. Universal

        The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an important ruling last Fall in the long-running “dancing baby” case, affirming that copyright holders must consider whether a use of material is fair before sending a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. We welcomed that ruling, but the majority decision also set the bar for enforcing that requirement higher than Congress intended. So Stephanie Lenz asked the Ninth Circuit to rehear the case en banc to address those elements of its ruling that risk leaving many victims of improper takedowns without a practical vehicle to vindicate their rights (EFF and the San Francisco law firm of Keker & Van Nest, LLP, represent Stephanie Lenz in the case).

        In an amended opinion issued today, the Ninth Circuit declined Lenz’s request for rehearing. At the same time, the appeals court made some interesting changes to its first ruling.

        What hasn’t changed: The court’s new opinion stands by its earlier determination that rightsholders must consider whether a use is a lawful fair use before issuing a takedown notice. It leaves intact its determination that fair use is not just a carve-out of the copyright system but a right on the same level of those described in the rest of the statute. Finally, the new opinion retains its determination that a victim of takedown abuse can vindicate her rights even if she cannot show actual monetary loss.

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