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Software Patents in the US — When Properly Challenged in an Age of Extreme USPTO Leniency — Simply Die

Posted in America, Apple, Patents, Samsung at 11:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The unprecedentedly low examination bar at the US patent office made a lot of software patents suspect or altogether bogus

Rubber stamps

Summary: Stamping-happy examination when it comes to software patents takes its belated toll on applicants, who see their patents either invalidated or massively devalued after the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) weighed in

“The definition of a Patent Troll is quite simple,” wrote one person earlier this week, echoing what some use to define "PAE" these days. It’s “any company that makes the majority of its money using patents by threatening litigation.”

That’s exactly what “Microsoft licensing” is doing. Microsoft now has its own in-house patent troll, or PAE, which we wrote about in the previous post.

“That’s exactly what “Microsoft licensing” is doing. Microsoft now has its own in-house patent troll, or PAE…”Fortunately, the tool of most trolls (or PAEs) is on the rocks because of Alice. Software patents just can’t stop dying, both in PTAB and in the courts. The USPTO nowadays allows virtually anything to be patented (the EPO too should watch out and treat it as a cautionary tale), but just because a patent is granted doesn’t mean it’s valid if/when properly challenged, especially if this patent covers software.

“This PTAB decision invalidating IV patent claims under 101 is deranged,” wrote a patent lawyer, linking to this decision against Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft’s and Bill Gates’ patent troll, as well as the world’s biggest patent troll.

“The only good software patent is a dead one.”“The Sibling Patent to This One,” added this lawyer (citing patent #9050977), “Did Get a 101 Rejection” or as this tweet puts it: “This reads like an un-patentable mental process that drivers do-just “done on a computer”. http://www.pat2pdf.org/patents/pat9290181.pdf” [patent #9290181]

The only good software patent is a dead one. Another new example of a dead software patent is this one. To quote the Docket Report blog:

In a final written decision, the Board found claims of an electronic content distribution patent unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 101. “The ’464 patent describes that electronic publications were commonly replicated in computer-readable form on magnetic or optical storage diskettes and distributed to retails stores or by direct mail sales. Thus, the concept of distributing electronic information products (content) was known prior to the ’464 patent. Further, we agree with Petitioner that distribution of publications (versus electronic publications), has long been known. . . . . [W]e determine that the claims are directed to the abstract concept of distributing electronic content, or more specifically, to selecting, transporting, storing, and displaying electronic content.”

It is nice to see news like the above because it not only devalues existing software patents but also reduces the incentive to file applications for new ones. Will SCOTUS do the same to design patents soon?

Apple-Samsung Case

“Unlike Apple, these Asian company actually produce things, not just advertising and refining their logos.”Vis-à-vis design patents and software patents at SCOTUS, following perhaps thousands of media reports such as this, IDG served to confirm what Florian Müller had foreseen, namely this. From the IDG story: “Judge Lucy Koh is concerned that the outcome of the trial could be questioned after a Supreme Court review” (excerpted by Müller).

Will there ever be peace? Well, that all depends on Apple, which started this whole war with its patents on software and design (usually software GUI). Here is what happens among Asian companies like Samsung right now: “Midea and Toshiba announced last week that they had signed a memorandum of understanding for a deal which would see China’s largest home appliances manufacturer acquire the majority of the Japanese tech giant’s white goods business.” Unlike Apple, these Asian company actually produce things, not just advertising and refining their logos. Apple now spends a lot of money on patent lawyers; no wonder the products are obscenely overpriced (costs associated with endless advertising and patent lawyers get passed down).

Under Nadella, Another Ballmer With a Different Face, Patent Extortion Strategy Against Linux Still Very Much Alive

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 11:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Making money without lifting a finger, so what’s not to like?

Microsoft loves Capone

Summary: Microsoft maintains its Capone-like strategy (‘protection money’) in an effort to coexist with Linux… as its cash cow, taxed by software patents and secret settlements rather than actual justice

MICROSOFT has come under media fire for its patent attacks on Linux. There were new or renewed cases of extortion earlier this month and despite public backlash Microsoft has done nothing at all. It didn’t even issue a refutation to the media.

MIP is writing about the patent Mafioso from Microsoft (horrible man that mercilessly goes after Linux users), who recently left, following Marshall Phelps (6 years ago).

“It’s all about exercising control over the competition (using patent threats) and making money out of the competition (also using patent threats).”“Horacio Gutierrez is to join Spotify as general counsel based in New York,” MIP wrote. “He is general counsel and corporate vice-president of legal affairs at Microsoft, a role he took in July 2014 after previously serving as IP head at the company.”

As we noted here before, he actually got promoted after he had started all that patent extortion, whereas Marshall Phelps left. Another person who was involved in this strategy, Brad Smith, got promoted half a year ago and there is no indication whatsoever that Microsoft will stop attacking Linux and Android with software patents. In fact, based on this new report from Andrew Orlowski, there may soon be another patent for Microsoft to extort/shake down/sue Android/Linux with. To quote Orlowski:

A recently published Microsoft patent application hints at future efforts to make Windows leap across the species boundary.

Windows already does so, in a way, with the Continuum feature.

Hook up a keyboard and a display to the phone, and it turns a phone into a PC, with the same binaries on the phone turning into a (sort of) fully-fledged desktop app.

As we pointed out a few weeks ago, Microsoft merely copied GNU/Linux (Canonical/Ubuntu) and now claims credit for it with patent applications. How disgraceful is that? It’s all about exercising control over the competition (using patent threats) and making money out of the competition (also using patent threats). And they tell us Microsoft “loves Linux”…

Patent Maximalism (Overpatenting) Tackled in New Article by Professor Noah Smith

Posted in America, IBM, Patents at 10:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Excessive patenting, or the approach towards 10 million patents in the US alone, shows that patent quality and scope have been totally forgotten because of the industry which profits from them while producing nothing

IBM’s patent chief, who is still promoting software patents in the US and overseas (specifically India nowadays), feels upset by/about this new article which basically says the truth about IBM’s ‘safety net’ strategy, which is suing far smaller rivals using software patents — a rather shameful act. To quote the article, authored by Noah Smith (assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University):

Secrecy is the bane of science, since all really great breakthroughs are actually a chain of small discoveries. Each scientist or team of scientists eagerly reads the latest results from other labs and adds some small but brilliant insights or critical pieces of data, then releases the new finding as quickly as possible for the rest of the scientific community to gobble up. But if billion-dollar patents are at stake, universities — which end up owning much of the intellectual property that comes out of professors’ discoveries — have a strong incentive to pressure their scholars to keep new findings and ideas under wraps.

In other words, the intellectual property system threatens to return science to the dark ages of Newton and Leibniz.

This is only the latest concern over the intellectual property system. Economists have been warning for some time that IP laws, intended to foster new discoveries, might end up doing the opposite. Many industry observers believe that patents are holding back innovation in the technology industry. There is even some evidence that the rise of IP might have exacerbated inequality. Worries over the extension of IP laws in the international arena constitute the most valid and important criticism of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Smith rightly says that there’s “even some evidence that the rise of IP might have exacerbated inequality.” Consider India.

Software Patents in India

Sharad Sharma wrote this article about software patents in India (eerily similar to what was found in the media last week). Titled “Hope for IT innovation, not litigation,” the article says:

One of the persistent threats to India’s software product ecosystem is from the constant push by MNCs for allowing software patents in India.

India’s nascent software product industry is growing rapidly and is on a trajectory where we can see global brands like Amazon, Google and Facebook emerge in the next 10 years.

One of the persistent threats to India’s software product ecosystem is from the constant push by MNCs for allowing software patents in India.

IBM’s shameless lobbying for software patents in India ought to be recalled. It’s all about domination and control (or a form of subjugation by limits on thinking), not innovation.

Patents do have a place in several domains, but software isn’t one of them. Software is already covered sufficiently well by copyright law (or copyleft).

Their Masters’ Voice (Who Block Techrights): FFPE-EPO Openly Discourages Members From Reading Techrights

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

So much for free speech or free thinking (access to information)…

FFPE-EPO reply
“PS: Don’t read to [sic] much Techrights”

FFPE-EPOSummary: Staff of the European Patent Office (EPO) continues to speak about the horrible deal that FFPE-EPO signed with the management, serving to divide and further punish SUEPO, which represents nearly half of all staff

THE FFPE-EPO folks aren’t quite being ignored, partly due to their own recent actions. Their current leader only has a few weeks left in his role and sources tell us that quite a few FFPE-EPO members recently left in protest. The only allies they’ve made seem to be from upper management. To list some of this month’s articles about FFPE-EPO again:

  1. In the EPO’s Official Photo Op, “Only One of the Faces is Actually FFPE-EPO”
  2. Further Evidence Suggests and Shows Stronger Evidence That Team Battistelli Uses FFPE-EPO as ‘Yellow Union’ Against SUEPO
  3. “FFPE-EPO Was Set up About 9 Years Ago With Management Encouragement”
  4. Fallout of the FFPE EPO MoU With Battistelli’s Circle
  5. The EPO’s Media Strategy at Work: Union Feuds and Group Fracturing
  6. Caricature of the Day: Recognising FFPE EPO
  7. Union Syndicale Federale Slams FFPE-EPO for Helping Abusive EPO Management by Signing a Malicious, Divisive Document
  8. FFPE-EPO Says MoU With Battistelli Will “Defend Employment Conditions” (Updated)

“Here is another document from the famous Yellow tinted EPO Union FFPE-EPO,” a reader told us, having shown us the above text, adding: “those fools commented on Techrights” (it says “Don’t read to [sic] much Techrights,” which is blocked anyway, by the same upper management that FFPE-EPO has just signed a terrible deal with).

Techrights was never an enemy of the EPO but an enemy of software patents.”“Thanks for all the work and support to the EPO staff,” told us the reader. “The staff is glad to have you around.”

Techrights was never an enemy of the EPO but an enemy of software patents. Huge difference. I even sent some letters to the EPO back in the old days, regarding software patents in particular.

Don’t let FFPE-EPO paint Techrights as an enemy. It’s a false narrative and the above wrongly characterises Techrights as “hate Intellectual Property rights”. Well, we never use the term “Intellectual Property”; we adequately distinguish between copyrights, trademarks and patents, and we specifically tackle software patents. FFPE-EPO probably hasn’t studied the site well enough before making that reckless comment.

“…the reply of the FFPE is rather hilarious, stating that there is only one difference between the accord cadre of the EU-commission and the MoU of the EPO.”
For the record, Techrights was not an enemy of FFPE-EPO. In fact, we supported them before the MoU, as anyone can see from our past articles, e.g. this one. One might say that FFPE-EPO foolishly (if not intentionally or even maliciously) defected. Here is a new comment which says: “the reply of the FFPE is rather hilarious, stating that there is only one difference between the accord cadre of the EU-commission and the MoU of the EPO.

“They tend to forget Article 9 of the “accord cadre”, which is about “Representativeness of the organisations”. The EPO-management could not have insisted on such an element, as otherwise they would’ve lost anything they could have shown and bragged about.

“Pity the unions start to bicker against each other. We’re all in the same boat, and shooting at each other will not help in our desire to get the EPO back on track, and the recognition of human rights.”

A reply to this comment stated: “The last page (page 16) is very informative. So, according to the EU “accord cadre”, SUEPO would be a recgnised representative organisation which has not yet signed, but would’ve gotten full access to rooms, union leave, and emails? FFPE-EPO would’ve been a recognised organisation at best and not eligible to sign.

“They are not making it easy to recognise them as professionals…”
“And FFPE-EPO sells the MoU as being the same as the EU commission accord cadre? (the only difference they acknowledge are the strike elements in the “accord cadre”)


“They are not making it easy to recognise them as professionals…

“Anyway, this bashing against each other must stop.”

SUEPO has hardly made any comments that bash FFPE-EPO; it just criticised the MoU, and rightly so. It serves as a covert attack on SUEPO, as EPO management now uses it as ammunition against SUEPO and the dismissed staff representatives.

Links 24/3/2016: GNOME 3.20, Tomb Raider Arriving On GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 9:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • 10 Facts About Open Source You Need to Know

    It seems open source solutions are everywhere you look these days, and the promise of easily accessible and public code has become an attractive prospect to both individual developers and big companies like Microsoft (MSFT). You may consider yourself a GNU/Linux expert, but here are some facts you probably didn’t know about the world of open source.

  • Polish think tank considers making DMS open source

    A document management system developed by COI, a government IT think tank, can be made available under an open source licence, the organisation says. “We are ready to implement this model”, a COI spokesperson said in an email.

  • 5 tips every open source project manager should consider

    In a 2013 survey, 11% of contributors to free and open source software identified as women. But perhaps the future looks brighter? We can answer this question by examining the participation of women in Google Summer of Code, a program that provides a stipend for post-secondary school students to contribute to open source software for a summer. From 2011 to 2015, the program consisted of about 7-10% female participants. This is an extremely low percentage and does not bode well for the future of diversity in open source.

  • Inside AT&T’s open source, software-defined transformation

    Open source technologies like OpenStack are playing a very important role in this transformation. AT&T is working with open source project like OPNFV, OpenDaylight, Open Contrail, ON.Lab, the Open Container Initiative, Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Open Compute Project and many others.

  • AT&T SDN and NFV moves progress with focus, support

    AT&T is often referenced as the gold standard among domestic carriers as well as one of the global leaders in terms of its dedication towards virtualization. AT&T in late 2014 announced plans to control 75% of its network resources using virtualization technologies by 2020, and that at the end of 2015 the carrier had reached 5.7% control, which was ahead of its 5% target.

  • R.I.P. Vendors: Can Open Source Fundamentally Change the Way Third Parties Operate?

    The rise of financial firms’ adoption of open source could force vendors to make an adjustment.

  • Events

    • Containers Microconference Accepted into 2016 Linux Plumbers Conference

      The level of Containers excitement has increased even further this year, with much interplay between Docker, Kubernetes, Rkt, CoreOS, Mesos, LXC, LXD, OpenVZ, systemd, and much else besides. This excitement has led to some interesting new use cases, including even the use of containers on Android.

      Some of these use cases in turn require some interesting new changes to the Linux plumbing, including mounts in unprivileged containers, improvements to cgroups resource management, ever-present security concerns, and interoperability between various sets of tools.

    • ONS and the Challenge of Open Networking

      At the Open Networking Summit (ONS) this week, vendors big and small are talking about the success and direction of the open networking movement, including Software Defined Networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), and whitebox hardware. There’s much reason for optimism, but there are a number of key challenges, too.

    • Free as in … ? My LibrePlanet 2016 talk
    • 30% off O’Reilly’s Open Source Convention in Austin, May 16-19
  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Exempi 2.3.0 and Rust…

        Also I have now released my first Rust crate, that provide a Rust API to Exempi: exempi-rs. Short of rewriting the whole parsing in Rust for safety — the core of Exempi is Adobe official XMP SDK written in C++ —, this will do.

      • Mozilla Looks to Internet of Things as New Frontier

        Mozilla has announced that the Internet of Things (IoT) will be the next big opportunity for its open source software platform. “The Internet of Things is changing the world around us, with new use cases, experiences and technologies emerging every day,” wrote officials in a post. “As we continue to experiment in this space, we wanted to take a moment to share more details around our approach, process and current projects we’re testing.”

        Mozilla’s Senior Vice President for Connected Devices, Ari Jaaski, announced that the open source firm wants to “develop, test and evaluate” four IoT software projects. They include Project Link, Project Sensor Web, Project Smart Home and Project Vaani.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Nantes Métropole completes switch to LibreOffice

      In April, Nantes Métropole, France’s 6th largest city, will complete its transition to LibreOffice, a free and open source suite of office productivity tools. The city has budgeted EUR 200,000 for bug fixes and new features, specifying that all improvements are to be submitted for inclusion in the LibreOffice project.

    • Document Freedom Day Phnom Penh

      As one of the points we had to revive the Phnom Penh Linux User Group again, was to really do activities on Software-, Hardware- and Document Freedom Day and coming to a regularly meeting, which we have now each first Tuesday in the month at the iCafe. As it is the time for Document Freedom Day (DFD) we will have at our next meeting of course, a topic that fits to it. I will be showing how easily it can be done to use Inkscape for presentation slides, to bring the people to use this instead of flash, pdf or more evil prezi.

    • Why I Wrote “Designing with LibreOffice”

      Usually, I write about the news, not make it. Today, though, I am making a small exception. Today, I am releasing my new book, “Designing with LibreOffice,” under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, with a free download and a for-sale trade paperback.

      Why bother, when LibreOffice already has some of the best documentation in free software?

  • CMS

    • How Georgia prioritizes enhancements for their Drupal 7 platform

      Nearly five years ago, my team at GeorgiaGov Interactive began a journey to migrate our enterprise web platform (hosting over 50 state agency websites at the time) away from a self-hosted model with a proprietary content management system to Drupal 7 and a cloud hosted environment. We were the first state to make such a bold shift, but we weren’t the last.

    • Acquia funds community development of Drupal modules

      Boston-based open source company Acquia has announced that it will provide US$500,000 to the community around the content management system Drupal, in order to help in the development of modules that add additional functionality.

      Drupal is free software developed originally by Belgian Dries Buytaert (seen above) and released under the GNU General Public Licence. The Acquia move has been prompted by the rapid take-up of version 8 of Drupal and the funding will go towards modules for this version.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • ProjectCenter debugger changes (now even on windows!)

      GNUstep’s ProjectCenter debugger module – something which was initiated by Greg and has always been quite experimental and unfinished – was based on running GDB via a virtual terminal by using openpty(). Sadly openpty() is not very portable and also.

  • Public Services/Government

    • ‘Publicly funded software should be free’

      Europe’s two main free software advocacy groups, April and the FSFE, argue that software specifically developed for or by the public sector should be made available as free software. The two NGO’s will continue to push Europe’s public administrations to increase the use of free and open source software.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • UK waste standards pilot shares APIs and manuals

      A one year pilot project on standards for waste management services in the UK’s local authorities is making available its code and documentation under an open source software licence. The project has delivered its final business case report this month, estimating that waste data standards could drive millions of savings for local authorities.

    • Vox Media, ICFJ Knight event ‘Steal My Tool’ featured eight open source tools for you to loot

      Ryan Nagle, lead developer at the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), presented on tools he and INN staffers build to help other nonprofit news organizations. During the session, he previewed tools INN uses during the development process. You can view the code for these tools here, including the Largo project – a framework for building WordPress sites for nonprofit news organizations – as well as tons of WordPress plugins for creating roundup newsletters, quizzes, deployment tools and more.

    • Genetic Testing Company Wants To End ‘Data Hoarding’, Spends $20 Million To Put 10,000 Genomes In The Public Domain

      As the New York Times article points out, 10,000 exomes — essentially, the 1% of the genome that contains the instructions for building the body’s proteins — is not a huge number, but Ambry Genetics hopes to add data from as many as 200,000 customers a year to the database. So far it has spent $20 million on the project. In part, it has been able to bear that cost because of the key Supreme Court decision which struck down Myriad Genetics’ patents on genetic testing. That cleared the way for other companies to make money by offering the tests — including Ambry Genetics.

    • Open Hardware

  • Programming


  • Hardware

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Islamic State Bragged That Its Attacks Would Help Break Up the European Union

      A newsletter circulated after Islamic State’s November massacre in Paris sheds light on what the group believes yesterday’s deadly attack in Brussels will accomplish, including weakening unity on the continent and exhausting European states economically.

    • Brussels Bombings Destroy Fiction That All Terrorism Deaths Count as Equal

      When a series of bombs went off at the Brussels airport and in a subway station yesterday, killing 31 people and injuring more than 200, the reaction of the US press was immediate and overwhelming. Every major news outlet turned its website over to coverage of the suicide attacks, often accompanied by live tickers and infographics. “Brussels Attacks Shake European Security” reads the banner headline on today’s New York Times’ front page (3/23/16); the Washington Post (3/22/16) worried that the bombings “made clear that European capitals remain perilously vulnerable despite attempts to dismantle the militant network that perpetrated the worst terrorist attack in Paris in generations last November.”

      It was a curious statement, given that just nine days earlier, another European nation’s capital had been the site of a remarkably similar suicide bombing. On March 13, a car bomb went off in Ankara, Turkey, killing 34 people and injuring 125. As in Brussels, the Ankara bombing, carried out by a Kurdish group opposed to Turkey’s military actions in Kurdish regions of Syria, targeted a transit hub—there a heavily trafficked bus stop—and the victims were likewise unsuspecting civilians going about their lives, including the father of international soccer star Umut Bulut (Guardian, 3/14/16), who was on his way back from one of his son’s matches.

    • Terrorism

      Well, the most important thing is, don’t panic. Given how easy it is to kill people physically, the important thing is how extremely difficult it is to do it mentally. In fact terrorism is vanishingly rare. It is so rare there has only been one person killed by terrorists in the mainland United Kingdom in the last decade.

      An event like that in Brussels today horrifies and terrifies. But remember, that the same number of people murdered today are killed in Belgium less than every three weeks in traffic accidents, and have been killed at that rate or greater in traffic accidents for over four decades. Over 700 people a year die in traffic accidents in Belgium; twenty times more than have just been killed by terrorists. Of course, the terrorist incident is a big single death toll and more stark because it is a deliberate act of evil. But if you’ve just been mown down by a car, that also is not pretty and you are just as dead.

      So panic must be avoided. There is no sense in which the tiny threat of terrorism is a genuine threat to western civilisation – unless we grossly overreact. Old fashioned intelligence work is the best way to counter active intelligence cells. This would be much more effective if it were targeted. The pool of intelligence is far too contaminated with tens of millions of intercepts of harmless people from mass surveillance, and all kinds of dross intelligence fed to us from torture chambers around the world.


      Any response that tries simply to increase physical security and surveillance will entirely miss the point.


      How many people are aware that a world war has begun? At present, it is a war of propaganda, of lies and distraction, but this can change instantaneously with the first mistaken order, the first missile.

      In 2009, President Obama stood before an adoring crowd in the centre of Prague, in the heart of Europe. He pledged himself to make “the world free from nuclear weapons”. People cheered and some cried. A torrent of platitudes flowed from the media. Obama was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

      It was all fake. He was lying.

      The Obama administration has built more nuclear weapons, more nuclear warheads, more nuclear delivery systems, more nuclear factories. Nuclear warhead spending alone rose higher under Obama than under any American president. The cost over thirty years is more than $1 trillion.

    • Abe and Okinawa’s Governor Square Off on U.S. Base Plans

      Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and the governor of Okinawa Takeshi Onaga agreed in early March to take a dispute over the future of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma (seen above) out of the courts and back offline to the negotiating table.

      Abe “accepted” a freeze on construction work at a contentious new location planned for the base as part of the agreement, though work had already been put on hold while Tokyo and Okinawa fought a legal battle over the site.

    • An army of none: The U.S. military is more powerful, less accountable and more dangerous than ever before

      In the decades since the draft ended in 1973, a strange new military has emerged in the United States. Think of it, if you will, as a post-democratic force that prides itself on its warrior ethos rather than the old-fashioned citizen-soldier ideal. As such, it’s a military increasingly divorced from the people, with a way of life ever more foreign to most Americans (adulatory as they may feel toward its troops). Abroad, it’s now regularly put to purposes foreign to any traditional idea of national defense. In Washington, it has become a force unto itself, following its own priorities, pursuing its own agendas, increasingly unaccountable to either the president or Congress.

      Three areas highlight the post-democratic transformation of this military with striking clarity: the blending of military professionals with privatized mercenaries in prosecuting unending “limited” wars; the way senior military commanders are cashing in on retirement; and finally the emergence of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) as a quasi-missionary imperial force with a presence in at least 135 countries a year (and counting).

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Spanish Code on Electronic Administration now covering legislation on transparency and access to public information

      Last month, the Spanish government updated its Code on Electronic Administration. The Code now includes a chapter specifically on Transparency and Access to Public Information. The chapter addresses Law 19/2013 of 9 December about transparency, access to public information and good governance.

    • Romanian Open Government Week prelude to OGP National Action Plan

      “Around 450 people took part in the ten sessions that took place during this six-day event,” says Larisa Panait, member of the Romanian OGP Coordination Unit and Advisor to the Chancellery of the Prime-Minister. “They were representatives of public institutions and local authorities, civil society members, students, open data activists, journalists, participants from the government internship program, academia, Members of Parliament, and representatives of the private sector.”””

    • Greece ready to test public consultation process

      In a prepared statement, he added: “The expected beneficial effect is to enhance both transparency and participation, and to create new opportunities for actors of civil society and start-ups, to provide value-added services, using the open data available to public bodies.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Utilities Are Playing Dirty In Florida To Kill Solar Energy Disruption In The Cradle

      Facing a future where competition is rampant, customers pay less money, and solar users actually get paid for driving power back to the grid gives any entrenched utility executive heartburn. Fortunately for them, we live in an era where buying state law and tricking consumers into rooting against their own best self interests is easier than ever before. Florida (where air conditioning drives the second highest energy consumption nationally) is quickly becoming the poster child for how utilities are using ethically incontinent lawmakers and a gullible populace to prevent solar power technology from reaching critical mass.

    • Rockefeller fund dumping fossil fuels, hits Exxon on climate issues

      The Rockefeller Family Fund said on Wednesday it will divest from fossil fuels as quickly as possible and “eliminate holdings” of Exxon Mobil, chiding the oil company for allegedly misleading the public about the threat of climate change.

      The move by the U.S. based charity, which will also include coal and Canadian oil sands holdings, is especially notable because a century ago John D. Rockefeller Sr. made a fortune running Standard Oil, a precursor to Exxon Mobil.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Former DHS Secretary Says We Can Make Airports Safer From Terrorists By Rearranging Security Checkpoints

      Another terrorist attack somewhere in the world* has provoked another round of punditry from former government officials on how to protect America from future attacks. Over the coming weeks, there will be no shortage of stupid ideas, useless ideas and pointless discussions about “heightened security” at any place people gather.

      *”World” = Western Europe only

      None of it will matter. Security has never really been scaled back anywhere since the 9/11 attacks — certainly not to the levels seen prior to September 2001. There’s only so much security anyone can actually provide but endless off-Broadway productions of security theater to be explored.

    • With Obama in Cuba, Pro-Torture Pundits Suddenly Concerned With Human Rights

      US President Barack Obama landed in Havana Sunday to great fanfare, both in Cuba and stateside. His visit marks a significant shift of the United States’ approach towards the socialist state, and the possibility of cooperation after decades of hostility. US media generally struck a hopeful tone, with a surprisingly nuanced mix of positive and critical stories about Cuba.

      Some Cold War hold-outs in the media just weren’t having it, though, taking the occasion to feign outrage that Obama could visit a country with such a terrible human rights record. While American human-rights hypocrisy is nothing new, a string of Bush-era, pro-torture, pro-Guantánamo pundits expressing indignation at Cuba’s human rights failings was still remarkable.

    • Cybersecurity Firm With A History Of ‘Corporate Blackmail’ Raided By The FBI

      Cybersecurity is a crowded field. Not every competitor will make it. That’s inevitable. Tiversa is one of the also-rans.

      Tiversa is helmed by Robert Boback. Back in 2009, Boback was already well-versed in the cybersecurity hard sell. Here’s what he had to say about P2P software in front of a Congressional audience — an audience well-versed in the art of selling fear to fund additional government products.

    • Complaint Board Finds Police Officers Violated Policy By Arresting Public Defender Who Demanded They Stop Questioning Her Clients

      More than a year after San Francisco police officers arrested public defender Jami Tillotson for doing her job, the city’s Office of Citizen Complaints has issued its report. It clears Tillotson of any wrongdoing and lays the blame solely at the feet of the San Francisco PD.

      First, a quick refresher, since we’re discussing something that happened last January: Tillotson’s clients were approached by police officers in a courthouse hallway. The officers began asking her clients questions and photographing them for a photo array. She inserted herself between the officers and the men and demanded the officers stop questioning them/photographing them without running it through her. The officers responded in the only way they knew how: they arrested her for resisting arrest — an arrest in which she cooperated fully with no amount of resistance. (It seems like circular reasoning, but “resisting arrest” is a catch-all for other sorts of interference with police work, rather than simply resisting an arrest.)

    • NYPD’s Arrests of Citizen Journalists Should Spark Outrage

      Last week, New York City police officers arrested four well-known activists for filming them. Copwatchers—people who regularly film and document police activity—have often been targeted by cops who don’t want to be recorded, despite reminders that recording police interactions is legal in the city. While legal protections for filming police are still unclear in some parts of the country, the invaluable role that copwatchers play as journalists—acting as the eyes, ears and media of the streets—deserves to be recognized.

    • Imprisoned With Her Baby, Bahraini Activist Is Victim of U.S. Silence, Sister Says

      LAST MONDAY, Bahraini security forces arrested prominent human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja and her 15-month-old son. The arrest came on the fifth anniversary of a Saudi military intervention that crushed an uprising by Bahrain’s Shiite majority and marked a grim milestone in the country’s crackdown on dissidents.

      Al-Khawaja was taken into custody to serve a prison term that could run between one and three years after being found guilty in 2014 of charges related to the uprising. The main charge against her relates to an incident in which she insulted the country’s monarch by tearing up one of his ubiquitous portraits, a criminal offense in Bahrain. Her arrest this week, along with her infant son, signaled the government’s intention to enforce the sentence. According to her family, her son will remain incarcerated with her until he reaches the age of 2.

    • U.S. Citizen Sent to ICE After Trump Protest Says Agent Called Her “Pain-in-the-Ass Illegal”

      As voters head to the polls in Arizona, we continue our conversation with Jacinta González, who was transferred to immigration custody, despite being a U.S. citizen, after her arrest for helping block a highway leading to a Donald Trump rally Saturday. González says an immigration agent called her a “pain-in-the-ass illegal” after she invoked her constitutional right to remain silent. “The racial profiling that I underwent is just indicative of larger systematic problems with how ICE is going into jails, how ICE is profiling people in the streets,” González says. González also talks about using the gender-neutral term “Latinx,” and the importance of building community power beyond the 2016 elections.

    • Launching the Electronic Frontier Alliance

      We’re excited to announce the formation of a new grassroots network, the Electronic Frontier Alliance. Bringing together community and campus organizations across the U.S., the Alliance will serve as an increasingly vital hub for activism and organizing addressing a spectrum of civil liberties and digital rights issues.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Final Reminder: Tell The EU Commission Not To Wreck The Internet With Poorly Thought Out Regulations

      Just a quick reminder of our project to remind EU regulators not to wreck the internet with short-sighted regulations, where you can sign on to a letter that will be sent out early next week. The issue is that EU regulators have taken what seems like a good idea (removing geographic restrictions on the internet in Europe) and turned it into an excuse to try to cram in a bunch of bad internet regulations, mostly focused on removing or weakening intermediary liability protections. It appears that some in the EU Commission think that by forcing Google and Facebook to monitor communications and be forced to more proactively delete content that it will somehow (1) stop bad stuff from happening online and (2) hold back those two companies from continuing to dominate the European market.

    • Tennessee Makes It Clear Protecting AT&T And Comcast From Broadband Competition Is Its Top Priority

      We’ve noted a few times that Tennessee is one of numerous states that have literally let incumbent ISPs like AT&T and Comcast write state telecom law. Most notably, around 20 states have now blocked towns and cities from building their own broadband networks — or striking public/private partnerships — even in cases where the market has clearly failed. It’s protectionism pure and simple, and when the FCC voted last year to try and gut these laws in Tennessee and North Carolina, ISP allies in Congress were quick to assail the FCC for “violating states rights” (to let incumbent ISPs dictate all telecom policy, apparently).

      Tennessee’s law prevents a popular Chattanooga-based utility-run ISP, EPB, from expanding its up to 10 Gbps offerings. Tennessee Rep. Kevin Brooks recently tried to pass a bill that would have dismantled the state’s restriction, but his effort ran face-first into a lobbying wall constructed by companies like AT&T and Comcast. He then recently tried to strip down the measure so it simply let EPB expand near its headquarters and to one neighboring county, but that provision was also shot down 5-3, with one of the nay votes being that of Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, a former AT&T executive.

  • DRM

    • Richard Stallman Braved a Winter Storm Last Night to March Against DRM

      As a winter storm bears down on Cambridge, a hundred or so protesters have congregated outside MIT’s Ray and Maria Stata Center with handlettered signs that read “Stop DRM” and “DRM is bad for education.” But a disagreement has broken out: A splinter group, wearing Guy Fawkes masks, want to march upstairs to confront the members of the World Wide Web Consortium, the organization that recommends standards for the software that runs the internet.

      Heated words are exchanged, but then someone appeals to a higher authority: Richard Stallman, the storied programmer, who’s attending tonight’s protest with an overstuffed laptop bag in hand.

    • Hollywood blockbusters to take control of your television

      Not satisfied with releasing a director’s cut, filmmakers want the next generation of High Dynamic Range movies to override your picture settings to preserve their artistic vision.

      Some people are perfectly happy to leave their television on the default factory settings, but if you’re fussy about picture quality and you’re spending top-dollar then you’ll want to dip into the picture settings and tweak them to taste.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

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