Links 16/4/2016: Wine 1.9.8 Released, Saints Row 2 for GNU/Linux, KDE Neon Upgrade, GNOME 3.20.1, Rust 1.8, OpenEMR 4.2.1

Posted in News Roundup at 10:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • DHS: Open Source Software Is Like Giving Mafia a Copy of FBI System Code

    But publishing source code could also let attackers “construct highly targeted attacks against the software,” or “build-in malware directly into the source code, compile, then replace key software components as ‘doppelgangers’ of the original,” DHS’ Office of the Chief Information Officer argued in comments posted on GitHub.

  • Dissecting The Myth That Open Source Software Is Not Commercial

    Writing a myth-debunking piece for such an informed audience poses a certain risk. The readers of the IEEE Software Blog already know what open source software is, and many have probably written some. How can I be sure that anyone reading this even holds the belief about to be debunked?

  • ownCloud 9.0 Enterprise Edition Arrives with Extensive File Control Capabilities

    ownCloud, Inc. has had the great pleasure of announcing the availability of the Enterprise Edition (EE) of its powerful ownCloud 9.0 self-hosting cloud server solution.

    Engineered exclusively for small and medium-sized business, as well as major organizations and enterprises, ownCloud 9.0 Enterprise Edition is now available with extensive file control capabilities and all the cool new features that made the open-source version of the project famous amongst Linux users.

  • Is there a need for open source file sharing?

    Want a solution like Box, Dropbox or Egnyte but one you can deploy everywhere? Feel passionate about open source and want to leverage a community solution? ownCloud might just have something for you.

    ownCloud offers an on-premises enterprise file access platform, but one which is an open source solution. The company firmly pitches its wares with stated differentiation through openness, modular architecture, extensibility and federated sharing abilities. So are they onto something here?

  • The advantages of open source in Internet of Things design

    Another complementary approach to standards development is the release of designs and specifications into the open source community as open hardware and interface standards for others to adopt. Examples include Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Beaglebone, which enable quick prototyping, as well as the mangOH open hardware reference design, an open source design that is more easily scalable in commercial settings and is built specifically for IoT cellular connectivity.

    Open source platforms like these enable developers that may have limited hardware, wireless or low-level software expertise to start developing IoT applications in days—rather than months. If executed properly, these can significantly reduce the time and effort to get prototypes from paper to production by ensuring that various connectors and sensors work together automatically with no additional coding required. With industrial-grade specifications, these next-generation platforms not only allow quick prototyping, but also rapid industrialization of IoT applications.

  • Apache Storm 1.0 packs a punch

    When big data mavens debate the merits of using Apache Spark versus Apache Storm for streaming data processing, the argument usually sounds like this: Sure, Storm has great scale and speed, but it’s hard to use. Plus, it’s slowly being overtaken by Spark, so why go with old and busted when there’s new and hot?

    That’s why Apache Storm 1.0 hopes to turn the ship around, not only by making it faster but by also easier and more convenient to work with.

  • Apache Storm 1.0 Packs a Speed Punch, is Set to Compete in the Big Data Space

    Are you familiar with Apache Storm? Not everyone is, but it, along with another Apache tool called Flink, is competing with tools like Apache Spark in the Big Data space. These tools focus on streaming data processing, which is emerging as a huge theme in the data analytics world.

  • Apache Wookie Heads to the Attic

    The last time I wrote about Apache Wookie was May 2012, on the occasion of the open-source project’s 0.10.0 release.

  • Coreboot Ported To Run On Lenovo’s ThinkPad T420
  • Broadwell-DE SoC / Xeon D Support Added To Coreboot
  • Open Source MANO Group Targets June for ‘Release 0′

    OSM was formed under the auspices of European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) earlier this year, around the same time as the OPEN-Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O), a Linux Foundation group that is taking a different approach to unified open source-based orchestration efforts.

  • Events

    • Dig into IoT with 41 OpenIoT Summit presentations

      Slide decks from 41 OpenIoT Summit talks are now online, from sessions including AllSeen, Brillo, mBed, Iotivity, Tizen, Weave, Zephyr, and IoT security.

      Last week, we pointed you to 50 slide decks released by the Linux Foundation from the Embedded Linux Conference (ELC), held in San Diego in April 4-6. Now, the non-profit Linux advocacy organization has released 41 more slide presentations, this time from the inaugural OpenIoT Summit track co-located with ELC.

    • Will North Carolina’s HB2 Affect State’s Open Source Conferences?

      At this point, how much effect the continuing economic backlash caused by the North Carolina General Assembly’s passage HB2, otherwise known as the “Bathroom Bill,” will have on the state’s two major open source conferences is anybody’s guess. Certainly, the past three weeks have not been good for operators of event venues in North Carolina, nor have they been good for the state’s bean counters, whose job is to make what the General Assembly spends balance with incoming tax revenue, which is certainly taking a hit in at least some counties.

    • Listen to ASF’s Rich Bowen Interview Speakers Before ApacheCon Next Month

      ApacheCon is just a few weeks away, and I, for one, am really looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be the best yet. I think that every time, and so far, I’ve been right.

      We’ve been doing ApacheCon for more than 15 years now, and it just keeps getting better. This year it will take place May 9-13 in Vancouver, Canada.

    • LinuxFest Northwest 2016 Takes Place April 23-24, in Bellingham, WA, US

      We have some great news for our Linux readers living in the US, as the upcoming LinuxFest Northwest 2016 event is taking place next week, between April 23-24, in Bellingham, WA.

      For those of you not in the known, LinuxFest Northwest is an annual event, targeted at novice, intermediate, and advanced Open Source and Linux enthusiasts, that usually takes place on the last weekend of the month of April, in Bellingham, Washington, United States of America (USA).

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Announcing Rust 1.8

        The Rust team is happy to announce the latest version of Rust, 1.8. Rust is a systems programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency.

        As always, you can install Rust 1.8 from the appropriate page on our website, and check out the detailed release notes for 1.8 on GitHub. About 1400 patches were landed in this release.

      • Rust Programming Language 1.8 Released

        Rust 1.8 has been declared stable by the team working on this increasingly popular programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency.

      • Mozilla’s Commitment to Inclusive Internet Access

        Developing the Internet and defending its openness are key to global growth that is equitable, sustainable, and inclusive. The Internet is most powerful when anyone — regardless of gender or geography — can participate equally.

      • Mozilla has asked us to “police” this forum.

        I was contacted by Mozilla with the request to “police” our forum, since we (Pale Moon devs) are in direct control of the things discussed and posted here.

        I’d like to clarify our position on this kind of thing to keep things from becoming unpleasant in both our relationship with you, the community, and our relationship with Mozilla:

        We do not censor your posts, and this will not change in the future — this is an open forum.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • OpenStack Foundation Survey Shows Deployments Fully Underway

      Results from the seventh OpenStack Foundation user survey are out, and they paint a picture of a powerful cloud platform that has squarely moved from the evaluation stage at many enterprises to deployment stage. Sixty-five percent of OpenStack deployments are now in production, 33 percent more than a year ago, according to the findings. And 97 percent of community members said that “standardizing on the same open platform and APIs that power a global network of public and private clouds” was one of their top five considerations in choosing OpenStack.

    • Organizing the OpenStack community locally and globally

      Sharone Zitzman is no stranger to community. As a lead for the Cloudify open source community at GigaSpaces, and an organizer of many local events including OpenStack Israel, DevOps Days Tel Aviv, and the DevOps Israel meetup group, she knows well what it means to be involved with bringing people together for common goals across open source projects.

    • Hortonworks and Pivotal Provide Details on Deepening Partnership

      As reported here earlier this week, the Hortonworks’ Hadoop Summit has been underway in Dublin, Ireland, and one of the biggest pieces of news there was that Pivotal, already a player in the Hadoop distribution arena, will be reselling Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP), which is Hortonworks’ Hadoop platform. A corollary piece of news is that Pivotal is also shifting from focusing on its own distribution to the Hortonworks platform.

    • Hortonworks Ramps Up Hadoop Security

      Hortonworks this week announced a series of enterprise security efforts to bolster performance and data safety with its Hortonworks Data Platform.

      The company announced Tuesday that Pivotal Software will standardize on Hortonworks’ Hadoop distribution. Hortonworks also will resell extract, transform and load tools developed by Syncsort.

      The thrust of the Hortonworks’ product announcements, which were made in conjunction with its Hadoop Summit, concerned updates on applying security policies and maintaining data governance to simplify the provisioning of clusters in hybrid clouds. Those procedures were designed to make it easier for customers to interactively explore data in Hadoop.

    • Cumulus, Dell and Red Hat Partner on Open Source DevOps for OpenStack

      Cumulus Networks, Dell and Red Hat have forged a partnership to bring to DevOps efficiencies to the open source cloud by automating networking and deployment for OpenStack clusters, according to news announced this morning.

    • Cumulus Networks Collaborates with Dell and Red Hat to Simplify 300+ Node OpenStack Pod

      Cumulus Networks, the leading provider of Linux networking operating systems, today announced a collaboration with Dell, the leading provider of open and innovative technologies, and Red Hat, Inc., the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, to simplify large-scale OpenStack deployments without the need for any proprietary software-defined networking (SDN) fabric solutions. The resulting solution offers an all-Linux OpenStack pod that is easy to install and maintain, and incorporates the latest networking technologies.

    • TripleO Evolves for OpenStack Deployments

      There are a lot of different ways to deploy an open-source OpenStack cloud, and one of the best ironically is with OpenStack itself, via a project known as OpenStack on OpenStack (OOO), or just simply TripleO.

    • Cumulus, Dell, Red Hat Use Open-Source DevOps for an OpenStack Cluster

      The three vendors were able to use such open DevOps tools as Git and Ansible to install and deploy a 300-plus-node OpenStack cluster in six hours.

    • Open source cloud drives Volkswagen’s DevOps culture transformation

      Volkswagen plumped for an OpenStack-based private cloud to kick-start its new approach and, after a shoot-off between Mirantis and Red Hat, the company opted for the former.

    • OpenStack Survey Highlights Containers and DevOps in Open Source Cloud

      Ubuntu continues to dominate OpenStack deployments, interest in containers is strongly increasing and DevOps remains the top focus of open source clouds. These are among the takeaways from the latest OpenStack user survey, which debuted this week.

  • Databases

    • ActorDB: an alternative view of a distributed database

      My Percona Live Data Performance Conference talk is called ActorDB: an alternative view of a distributed database. ActorDB is an open source database that was developed using a distributed model: it uses an SQL database that speaks the MySQL client/server protocol.

  • Hadoop

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Inside Facebook’s Open Source Machine [Ed: openwashing censorship and surveillance company (proprietary)]
    • Give to get: inside Facebook’s open source operation

      Facebook doesn’t sell software, but it’s arguably the largest open source software company in the world.

      In the last few years, the social network has accelerated its contributions to open source, providing not only code it uses in its own operations, such as its artificial intelligence software Torch, but also designs for servers and entire data centers. At the company’s F8 conference for developers and business partners this week, Facebook’s open source leaders announced continued progress on such projects as React Native, which helps developers use the same code on different operating systems.


    • GCC 4.9 vs. 5.3 vs. 6.0 Compiler Benchmarks On Debian 8.4

      With GCC 6.1 due out soon with its plethora of new features and improvements, I decided to run some fresh benchmarks this week of GCC 4.9.3 vs. GCC 5.3 vs. GCC 6.0.0 on a Debian stable system.

      From the Xeon E3-1280 v5 system with MSI C236A Workstation, I was using Debian 8.4 x86_64 as the base Linux OS for this benchmarking while building clean compilers of GCC 4.9.3, GCC 5.3.0, and GCC 6.0.0 20160410.

    • Free Software Foundation’s Priorities Reflect Changing Times

      In 2008, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) created its list of high-priority projects that “are important for increasing the adoption and use of free software and free software operating systems.”

      However, the list has been neglected in recent years, to the extent that the page for projects that no longer need to be on the list includes nothing added in the last five years.

      Consequently, the FSF is considering ways to reintroduce the list. In the process, it is revealing its own priorities, and how those have changed over the years — sometimes with unexpected results.

    • GCC 7.0 Now In Development, GCC 6.1 Likely Coming Next Week

      The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) made it today to having no P1 regressions (the highest priority) and thus they’ve now branched the code for the GCC 6 series, GCC 7.0 is now on the master branch, and GCC 6.1 should be released next week.

      For those still confused by the new GCC versioning scheme, GCC 6.1 will be the first stable release in the GCC 6 series. Jakub Jelinek of Red Hat who is managing the release hopes to ship GCC 6.1 by the end of next week or shortly after that point. A GCC 6.1 RC1 candidate is meanwhile imminent.

    • foliot @ Savannah: GNU Foliot version 0.9.6-beta is released.
    • denemo @ Savannah: Version 2.0.6 is out
  • Project Releases

    • OpenEMR 4.2.1 is released

      The OpenEMR community has released version 4.2.1. This new version is 2014 ONC Certified as a Modular EHR. OpenEMR 4.2.1 has numerous new features including 30 language translations and a patient flow board.

  • Public Services/Government

    • New local government digital standard published

      A local government digital service standard has been agreed and published after taking into account the views of council staff in a consultation last month.

      The standard is a common approach for local authorities to deliver good quality, user centred, value for money digital services – and is a local government version of the original Government Digital Service Standard used across central government.

    • NZGOAL Software Extension

      The New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing (NZGOAL) frame work is being extended to incorporate software licensing. The draft below is an initial draft for which we are seeking feedback on. The intention of this extension to NZGOAL is to ensure that publicly funded bespoke software is appropriately licensed to enable reuse by the public as well as government. This should enable more efficient maintenance and improvement, and potentially accelerate innovation going forward.

    • Dutch MP calls for open source resource centre

      The Dutch government should set up a resource centre on free software and open standards, says Member of Parliament Astrid Oosenbrug. “There is a serious lack of understanding of these two topics in the government”, the MP says. The centre should remedy this, and Ms Oosenburg has started studying possibilities and options.

    • Opening Minds As Well As Government With FLOSS
    • Italian parliament hosts debate on open source

      Italy’s parliament on Monday will hold a public debate on possible regulations on free and open source software, open standards, open data and open government. The meeting on Monday 18 April is hosted by Mirella Liuzzi, of the Five Star Movement.

    • White House Source Code Policy a Big Win for Open Government

      The U.S. White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is considering a new policy for sharing source code for software created by or for government projects. There’s a lot to love about the proposed policy: it would make it easier for people to find and reuse government software, and explicitly encourages government agencies to prioritize free and open source software options in their procurement decisions.

      EFF submitted a comment on the policy through the White House’s GitHub repository (you can also download our comment as a PDF). The OMB is encouraging people to send comments through GitHub, reply to and +1 each other’s comments, and even offer direct edits to the policy via pull requests.

    • U.S. Federal Source Code Policy: FSF supports, and urges improvements – comment by April 18!

      You can submit your own comments regarding this proposal, supporting the FSF’s suggestions and adding your own ideas for improvement, through 11:59pm EDT on Monday, April 18, 2016.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • How Node.js created a model open source community

      The creation of programming languages and platforms is rarely without challenges. A case in point is in the experiences of the community around the Node.js platform. Node.js allows the creation of backend services using JavaScript and a collection of “modules” that handle various core functionality and other core functions. Node.js’ modules use an API designed to reduce the complexity of writing server applications. Node.js’ package ecosystem, npm, is the largest ecosystem of open source libraries in the world.

    • Git work flows in the upcoming 2.7 release

      Easy to program in. No need to recompile, you can hack in as you would in shell. Fun.

    • Bug bounty blitzers open-source sick subdomain-spotter

      The tools, AltDNS and Assetnote, help hackers to automatically identify subdomains and hosts, then generate mobile phone push notifications the minute new possibly-vulnerable domains are published.


  • Monica Lewinsky: ‘The shame sticks to you like tar’

    Nearly 20 years ago, Monica Lewinsky found herself at the heart of a political storm. Now she’s turned that dark time into a force for good

  • 3 projects to enhance the experience of reading or writing poems

    April is National Poetry Month in the United States and Canada. During April, individuals and institutions take part by reading, sharing, and writing poetry. You can find National Poetry Month events at your local library, your local bookstore, and at many other places. To give National Poetry Month an open source spin, in this article I’ll share three open source projects for reading or writing poetry. From reading classical Greek and Roman poetry, to exploring the corpus of Persian poetry, to crafting poems of your own with a handy Android application, these projects take advantage of the creativity of open source to enhance the experience of reading or writing poems.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • 9 Ways Global Warming Is Making Us Sick

      The Obama administration has released a major new report on how manmade global warming is making Americans sicker—and it’s only going to get worse.

      Developed over three years and involving approximately 100 climate and public health experts, the 332-page report was based on more than 1,800 published scientific studies and new federal research, and was reviewed by the National Academies of Sciences.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Badlock: Samba Vulns & Patching your machines

      Unless you are living in a black hole aka SCIF, or otherwise totally disconnected from various news outlets, you have likely heard about the numerous vulns that dropped as a series of CVEs better known as ‘badlock’ Tuesday. Well, there is good news for those on Redhat based distros! Patches are already in the default repos for Fedora / RHEL / CentOS.

    • Gone In Six Characters: Short URLs Considered Harmful for Cloud Services

      TL;DR: short URLs produced by bit.ly, goo.gl, and similar services are so short that they can be scanned by brute force. Our scan discovered a large number of Microsoft OneDrive accounts with private documents. Many of these accounts are unlocked and allow anyone to inject malware that will be automatically downloaded to users’ devices. We also discovered many driving directions that reveal sensitive information for identifiable individuals, including their visits to specialized medical facilities, prisons, and adult establishments.

    • URL shorteners could offer shortcut to malware infection, study claims
    • Guess what? URL shorteners short-circuit cloud security

      Two security researchers have published research exposing the potential privacy problems connected to using Web address shortening services. When used to share data protected by credentials included in the Web address associated with the content, these services could allow an attacker to gain access to data simply by searching through the entire address space for a URL-shortening service in search of content, because of how predictable and short those addresses are.

    • Defining “Gray Hat”

      Black Hats are the bad guys: cybercriminals (like Russian cybercrime gangs), cyberspies (like the Chinese state-sponsored hackers that broke into OPM), or cyberterrorists (ISIS hackers who want to crash the power grid). They may or may not include cybervandals (like some Anonymous activity) that simply defaces websites. Black Hats are those who want to cause damage or profit at the expense of others.


      The biggest recent debate is “0day sales to the NSA”, which blew up after Stuxnet, and in particular, after Snowden. This is when experts look for bugs/vulnerabilities, but instead of reporting them to the vendor to be fixed (as White Hats typically do), they sell the bugs to the NSA, so the vulnerabilities (call “0days” in this context) can be used to hack computers in intelligence and military operations. Partisans who don’t like the NSA use “Grey Hat” to refer to those who sell 0days to the NSA.

      WIRED’s definition is this partisan definition. Kim Zetter has done more to report on Stuxnet than any other journalist, which is why her definition is so narrow.

    • WordPress Turns On Free Encryption
    • Badlock Flaw Disclosed as Microsoft Issues 13 Security Advisories
    • How Badlock Was Discovered and Fixed

      Severity analysis of vulnerabilities by experts from the information security industry is rarely based on real code review. In the ‘Badlock’ case, most read our CVE descriptions and built up a score representing a risk this CVE poses to a user. There is nothing wrong with this approach if it is done correctly. CVEs are analyzed in isolation; as if no other issue exists. In the case of a ‘Badlock‘ there were eight CVEs. The difference is the fact that one of them was in a foundational component used by most of the code affected by the remaining seven CVEs. That very specific CVE was marked CVE-2015-5370.

    • Linux Ransomware Could Soon Be Affecting Everyone [Ed: This is a truly garbage ‘article’ from a plagiarism Web site. One actually needs to install malware to be affected]

      Windows operating system has been plagued by ransomware since years, and the attackers have generated millions in revenue. The ransomware is expanding to Mac, Android, and Linux now. It is being said that this year is a critical one in terms of ransomware, and all major operating systems are predicted to get affected. Also, the attackers are constantly working on improving the ransomware, making it harder to deal with.

    • Experts crack Petya ransomware, enable hard drive decryption for free
    • Libgcrypt 1.7 Adds New Algorithms, Performance Improvements

      Werner Koch announced the release today of libgcrypt 1.7, a major update to this general cryptographic library.

      Libgcrypt 1.7 adds a nnumber of new hash algorithms, ChaCha20 stream cipher support, various other new algorithms/modes and also some new curves for ECC.

    • Friday’s security advisories
  • Defence/Aggression

    • James Henry on Panama Papers, Sanho Tree on Hiroshima

      Also on the show: “No US apology for Hiroshima” was many media’s thumbnail of Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent visit to one of the Japanese cities—along with, of course, Nagasaki—where the US killed more than 200,000 people with atomic bombs dropped in 1945. The dominant Hiroshima “narrative”—lamentable but necessary, ultimately saved more than it killed—has remained remarkably unchanged, in good part because of US media’s defense and preservation of it. We discussed that narrative years ago with military and diplomatic historian Sanho Tree, now director of the Drug Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

    • Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has said $681 million banked into the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s bank accounts was a “genuine donation.”

      Saudi Arabia has for the first time publicly confirmed Malaysia’s claim that $681 million in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s bank accounts was a donation from the Saudi royal family, countering accusations that the money was siphoned from heavily indebted state investment fund 1MDB.

      Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir called the money a “genuine donation” in comments Thursday to Malaysian reporters in Istanbul after a meeting with Najib. On Friday, Malaysia’s foreign ministry provided a video clip of Al-Jubeir’s comments, which Najib’s office said vindicate the prime minister, who has faced months of pressure to resign from critics including former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

    • A New Nuclear Arms Race Feared as U.S. & Others Aim to Build Smaller, “More Usable” Nukes

      Part 2 of our conversation with Marylia Kelley. Her group, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, just published a report titled “Trillion Dollar Trainwreck: Out-of-control U.S. nuclear weapons programs accelerate spending, proliferation, health and safety risks.”

    • Learning to Love the Bomb — Again

      Perhaps the height of Official Washington’s madness is the casual decision to invest $1 trillion in a new generation of nukes, including a downsized, easy-to-use variety, with almost no debate, a danger that Michael Brenner addresses.

    • Obama’s Trillion-Dollar Nuclear-Arms Train Wreck
    • The CIA Doesn’t Want You To Know that ISI Supports Terror, But DIA Does

      The National Security Archive just got a number of documents on the funding of the Haqqani network, showing it gets (or got) funding from Gulf donations, the Taliban in the tribal lands, and Pakistan’s ISI. A particularly interesting DIA cable describes how a guy named Qabool Khan, on orders of the Haqqani, got a job — thanks to Hamid Karzai’s brother Mahmoud’s influence — running security for the US Salerno and Chapman bases. Along with intelligence about Americans on the base, of the $800 he made for each guard at the base, Khan sent $300 back to the Haqqanis.

    • America’s Imperial Overstretch

      This week, SU-24 fighter-bombers buzzed a U.S. destroyer in the Baltic Sea. The Russian planes carried no missiles or bombs.

      Message: What are you Americans doing here?

      In the South China Sea, U.S. planes overfly, and U.S. warships sail inside, the territorial limits of islets claimed by Beijing.

      In South Korea, U.S. forces conduct annual military exercises as warnings to a North Korea that is testing nuclear warheads and long-range missiles that can reach the United States.

    • U.S. Report on Saudi Arabia Downplays Civilian Casualties in Yemen

      IN ITS ANNUAL human rights report on Saudi Arabia, the State Department ignored thousands of civilian casualties from the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen and overlooked the widespread use of illegal cluster munitions by the bombing coalition.

      Saudi Arabia launched an air campaign in Yemen last March after Houthi rebels in Yemen threatened the rule of the Saudi-backed president. The Saudi military has been widely criticized for targeting civilians, destroying homes, schools, and hospitals, and using internationally banned cluster munitions.

      The Obama administration has supported the Saudi-led campaign throughout, providing the coalition with intelligence and selling them at least $20 billion in weapons since the campaign began in March.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Gender Argument

      Hillary Clinton calls on women to support her to be the first female President, but all Americans should look carefully at her record advocating bloody, neocon “regime change” wars, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Does Over-Classification Matter With the Hillary Emails?

      Rules are for fools, and in this case the fools in question are you, me and what’s left of the American democratic system. Obama, in an interview, basically made it clear nobody is going to indict Hillary Clinton for exposing classified material via her unclassified email server, even if it requires made-up rules to let her get away with it.

      The president’s comments in an interview last Sunday that “there’s classified and then there’s classified” made clear he imagines national security law allows for ample, self-determined fudge room when exposing classified material.

    • New EU trade secrets law could jail whistleblowers, block drug trial data access

      EU parliament has adopted new rules on the protection of trade secrets, shortly after passing those on data protection, reported by Ars earlier today.

      A European Parliament press release explains: “The rules will introduce an EU-wide definition of trade secrets and oblige member states to ensure that victims of the misuse of trade secrets will be able to defend their rights in court and seek compensation. The agreed text also lays down rules on the protection of confidential information during litigation.” According to the agreed rules, “trade secret” means information which is “secret, has commercial value because it is secret, and has been subject to reasonable steps to keep it secret.”

      A controversial issue is the impact the new trade secrets rules will have on whistleblowers and journalists: “MEPs stressed the need to ensure that the legislation does not curb media freedom and pluralism or restrict the work of journalists, in particular with regard to their investigations and the protection of their sources.”

      However, the Pirate Party MEP, Julia Reda, believes the new rules will harm journalism, writing that they have “created major uncertainties about the role of whistleblowers and investigative journalists. All information, including information about malpractice, can be protected as a trade secret. As a result, the burden of proof that the public interest outweighs the business interest will now always lie with the whistleblower.”

      One area where whistleblowing is crucially important concerns drug safety. Health Action International (HAI), a non-governmental organisation dedicated to strengthening medicines policy to improve public health, said it was was “deeply disappointed with today’s adoption of the European Union Trade Secrets Directive.”

    • Trade Secrets Directive Clears European Parliament Despite Concerns

      Rejecting calls for a vote to be delayed until the European Commission proposes tougher whistle-blower protections, the European Parliament on 14 April approved by 503-131 new rules giving companies redress for theft or misuse of trade secrets. Debate on the trade secrets directive showed sharp divisions among lawmakers, heightened by the recent “Panama Papers” and other leaks, over whether the legislation will help businesses safeguard their innovative ideas or lead to increased corporate secrecy.

    • BREAKING: Safe passage through Panama – EU Trade Secrets Directive approved, but not without protest

      In the end, the voices in favour prevailed, with 503 votes for and only 131 against. The strength of this majority is also fair reflection of the concerns, which were at times overstated. For a start, contrary to the suggestion from the Ecologist, the Directive has no impact on criminal law (this remains entirely a matter for national legislators). Recital 12a also makes clear that national judicial authorities have ample scope for taking account of national sensitivities. I suspect national approaches to whistleblowing and public interest will remain largely unchanged as a result of the Directive, although the impact of the Panama Papers is perhaps harder to predict.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘Days of Revolt’: Corporate Influence and the Pitfalls of a Two-Party System (Video)

      Dr. Margaret Flowers is an environmental activist running for the U.S. Senate in Maryland as a member of the Green Party. In this episode of teleSUR’s “Days of Revolt,” she discusses political stagnation and revolution with Truthdig contributor Chris Hedges.

      The two discuss the “corporate stranglehold” on American elections and the oppressive nature of two-party systems. Although she emphasizes the importance of grass-roots movements to incite political change, Flowers also notes that it’s “important to have people inside of the system.”

    • Why World Leaders Are Terrified of Water Shortages

      Secret conversations between American diplomats show how a growing water crisis in the Middle East destabilized the region, helping spark civil wars in Syria and Yemen, and how those water shortages are spreading to the United States.

      Classified US cables reviewed by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting show a mounting concern by global political and business leaders that water shortages could spark unrest across the world, with dire consequences.


      The classified diplomatic cables, made public years ago by WikiLeaks, now are providing fresh perspective on how water shortages have helped push Syria and Yemen into civil war, and prompted the king of neighboring Saudi Arabia to direct his country’s food companies to scour the globe for farmland. Since then, concerns about the world’s freshwater supplies have only accelerated.

      It’s not just government officials who are worried. In 2009, US Embassy officers visited Nestlé’s headquarters in Switzerland, where company executives, who run the world’s largest food company and are dependent on freshwater to grow ingredients, provided a grim outlook of the coming years. An embassy official cabled Washington with the subject line, “Tour D’Horizon with Nestle: Forget the Global Financial Crisis, the World Is Running Out of Fresh Water.”

    • Greenland ice melts ‘disturbingly’ early

      Meteorologists on Greenland have recorded a 10 percent melt of the island’s sheet ice, beating the record for the earliest date for this level of melting by ‘nearly a month.’

  • Finance

    • Ted Cruz Uses Discredited Talking Points To Make Case Against Minimum Wage Hike

      Research, however, shows no significant connection between increasing the minimum wage and jobs. A 2009 analysis of 64 United States minimum-wage studies found “little or no evidence of a negative association between minimum wages and employment.” Likewise, a 2013 Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report found that “Research over the past two decades has shown that, despite skeptics’ claims, modest increases in the minimum wage have little to no negative impact on jobs. In fact, under current labor market conditions, where tepid consumer demand is a major factor holding businesses back from expanding their payrolls, raising the minimum wage can provide a catalyst for new hiring.”

    • US corporations have $1.4tn hidden in tax havens, claims Oxfam report

      US corporate giants such as Apple, Walmart and General Electric have stashed $1.4tn (£980bn) in tax havens, despite receiving trillions of dollars in taxpayer support, according to a report by anti-poverty charity Oxfam.

    • Jeremy Corbyn suggests EU-wide minimum wage to give British workers a ‘level playing field’

      The European Union should consider introducing an EU-wide minimum wage to reduce the incentive for people to immigrate to Britain, Jeremy Corbyn has suggested.

      The Labour leader today made his first speech of the EU referendum campaign, arguing that there was a “strong socialist case” for staying in the bloc.

      But Mr Corbyn accepted that there were concerns about the impact of migration on the UK – and said changes to wage laws could help reduce perceived pressures.

    • Dutch voters now demanding referendum on TTIP

      Some 100,000 Dutch citizens have already signed a petition demanding a referendum on TTIP. 300,000 names are needed to trigger a non-binding vote on the issue, as was the case with the Ukraine plebiscite.

      The Socialist Party (Socialistische Partij) is pushing for the referendum. Founded in 1977 as the ‘Communist Party of the Netherlands/Marxist–Leninist’, it won 15 out of 150 seats (10%) in the Dutch Parliament elections in 2012, equivalent to just under 910,000 individual votes.

      Spokesman Jasper Van Dijk told EurActiv that the EU-Ukraine referendum had given the campaign, which has lasted a matter of months, added impetus.

      NGOs against TTIP were part of the drive, he said, which had excited popular imagination.

    • Elizabeth Warren Introduces Bill To Make Tax Season Return-Free

      Yay, it’s tax season again! As our American readers will know, this is the wonderful time of year when we scramble to get all of our taxes and deductions paperwork in order, take them to some storefront that looks like a military recruitment center, push all of those papers in front of someone that looks like they just graduated from college, and scream, “You figure it out!” For our foreign readers, I should explain that we do this because our tax code is more complicated than the plot of Game of Thrones, our tax authorities are every bit as ruthless as that same series, and we’ve collectively allowed our citizens’ payment of due obligations to become a for-profit industry. But seriously, though, come to America. It’s great. I swear.

    • City Council Passes Law Limiting Homeless People’s Belongings to What Can Fit in Trash Bin

      Like every American city in the Age of the 99 Percent, Los Angeles has a significant homeless problem. Full-on shantytowns are now a feature of LA’s urban landscape, with colonies of desperate men and women setting up camps, and building shelters out of tarps, wherever they can find safe space to do so.

    • CETA, TTIP and ISDS: Lessons from Canada

      A new video is set to spark debate on CETA (the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) with the deal on the verge of a vote this year in the European Parliament, where opponents hope it will be defeated.

      Today, the Council of Canadians, in partnership with the European Citizens’ Initiative against TTIP and CETA, is launching CETA: Lessons from Canada, a five-minute animation. Using a technique known as “handimation”, the short video gives a comprehensive background on the controversial deal, known to many as TTIP 1.0.

    • Saudi Arabia Warns of Economic Fallout if Congress Passes 9/11 Bill

      Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

      The Obama administration has lobbied Congress to block the bill’s passage, according to administration officials and congressional aides from both parties, and the Saudi threats have been the subject of intense discussions in recent weeks between lawmakers and officials from the State Department and the Pentagon. The officials have warned senators of diplomatic and economic fallout from the legislation.

      Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, delivered the kingdom’s message personally last month during a trip to Washington, telling lawmakers that Saudi Arabia would be forced to sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the United States before they could be in danger of being frozen by American courts.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • We Must Speak Up—Capitalism is Eating Democracy

      Yanis Varoufakis, previous finance minister for Greece, offers insights as an economic insider about the current workings of global finance. He suggests the key challenge of our time is a lack of democracy to balance today’s unchecked capitalism. Capitalism without democratic oversight can become a very uncivilized system—brutish and destructive. This current imbalance threatens the global economy, our environment, and the future of civil society.

    • Media Asking Wrong Questions on North Carolina’s ‘Bathroom Law’

      But while media are busy working through anti-LGBT talking points, they aren’t asking Republican politicians to explain how they’ll enforce laws that would require people to prove their “biological sex” at the bathroom door. The law says people must use facilities that corresponding to the sex “stated on a person’s birth certificate.” So people should carry their birth certificates with them at all times?

    • Protests Against Money in Politics Hold Little Interest for Beltway’s ‘Political Junkies’

      More than 400 people were arrested in a non-violent sit-in on Capitol Hill April 11, many having marched 150 miles from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. The protest, called Democracy Spring, is about ending the influence of big money in politics and ensuring free, fair elections through things like restoring the Voting Rights Act. The next day, another 85 mostly elderly people were arrested, many chanting, “Democracy is not for sale, [we’re] not too old to go to jail.”

    • How Does That Plastic Taste?

      As of March 2016, a review of recent corporate news coverage indicates that many of the themes in Jamail’s article have not been covered in the corporate press, including especially the extent to which the seafood we eat contains plastic, as well as a number of the solutions to this problem, as discussed by Dr. Wallace Nichols and other researchers.

    • Release of Clinton’s Wall Street Speeches Could End Her Candidacy for President

      The reason you and I will never see the transcripts of Hillary Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street fat-cats — and the reason she’s established a nonsensical condition for their release, that being an agreement by members of another party, involved in a separate primary, to do the same — is that if she were ever to release those transcripts, it could end her candidacy for president.

      Please don’t take my word for it, though.

      Nor even that of the many neutral observers in the media who are deeply troubled by Clinton’s lack of transparency as to these well-compensated closed-door events — a lack of transparency that has actually been a hallmark of her career in politics.

      Nor do we even need to take Clinton’s word for it — as we could certainly argue that her insistence that none of these transcripts ever be seen by the public is itself a confession that her words would cause significant trauma to her presidential bid.

    • The Brooklyn Dodgers: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders Give Non-Answers at Debate

      WHEN A CANDIDATE for high office can’t respond to a simple question with an honest answer, attention should be paid. More often than not these days, that kind of behavior is just greeted with a shrug by the members of the elite media, but specific acts of evasion are worth studying. Because if something’s important enough for a candidate that they concoct a ludicrous non-response, there’s probably a sore point under there somewhere.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Favorability Rating Among Democrats Hit a New Low (Video)

      Hillary Clinton may be the Democratic frontrunner, but her appeal is waning. According to the HuffPost Pollster average, 55 percent of the electorate now views Clinton unfavorably—and 40.2 percent of people view her favorably, according to the same average.

    • Bernie Sanders earned $205,000 in 2014

      Earlier today I noted that someone who earns $200,000 pays an average federal income tax rate of 15 percent. Well, it turns out that Bernie Sanders is really, really average. He released his 2014 tax return tonight, and it reports that he had an adjusted gross income of $205,617 and total taxes due of $27,653. That’s 13 percent of his income.

    • What exactly do pro-Brexiters mean when they say they want to make Britain great again?

      The United Kingdom could ‘better face the future outside the European Union’. That was the opinion of 43% of respondents in the European Union Public Opinion survey, the Eurobarometer, in May 2015. It’s hardly surprising that such a large proportion of the population has such a bleak view of the benefits the EU brings to the UK, considering that scrutiny of Brussels has intensified over recent years. And in the run-up to the referendum, the spotlight is well and truly fixed on the issue.

    • A Note on Hillary Clinton, the Queen of Chaos

      In fact, this primary campaign has produced a couple of surprises, more earthly than divine. Both surprises reveal widespread grassroots discontent with both Hillary Clinton and the whole American political establishment. However, this discontent so far fails to focus on the point of my book: the need to combat the ideology and practice of U.S. war policy personified by Hillary Clinton. Where is the effective alternative to the War Party?

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Texas Prison System Unveils New Censorship Policy

      The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is getting in the digital censorship game with a new policy that would punish an offender for having a social media presence, even when someone on the outside is posting updates on their behalf.

    • GreatFire activist urges western firms to help end Chinese censorship

      Western companies need to end their hypocrisy over free speech in China, and start helping to end censorship in the country, a leading anti-censorship activist has told the Guardian.

      One of the three co-founders of GreatFire, an organisation dedicated to fighting the so-called Great Firewall of China, the technological heart of state censorship in the country, said it hurts to see companies such as Apple citing Chinese censorship in their battles with western governments, while co-operating with authoritarian state in order to earn money from its burgeoning middle classes and take advantage of its enormous manufacturing base.

      Speaking in London shortly before winning a Freedom of Expression award from campaign group Index on Censorship, the activist, who goes by the pseudonym Charlie Smith due to the threat to his safety if the Chinese government discovers his identity, listed Apple and LinkedIn amongst his personal villains.

    • It’s Official: Washington Thinks Chinese Internet Censorship Is a ‘Trade Barrier’

      In its annual report on the challenges U.S. exporters face in foreign markets, released in April, the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) listed Chinese Internet censorship as a trade barrier for the first time. The move is likely to please U.S. businesses that operate in China or that are considering doing so. But previous U.S. attempts to encourage China to dismantle the so-called Great Firewall of Censorship, which keeps out certain foreign content Chinese authorities deem harmful, have had little effect. Will describing censorship as a trade barrier make a difference? In this ChinaFile conversation, experts discuss the implications of the new report, and how might China react to this pressure from Washington.

    • Leaked Documents Confirm Ecuador’s Internet Censorship Machine

      According to a leaked internal memo of the multinational ISP Telefónica in Ecuador, the Association of Internet Providers of Ecuador (AEPROVI) collaborated with the Ecuadorian government to block their users’ access to websites. The memo was obtained and published by the Associated Whistleblowing Press and the Ecuadorian whistleblowing platform, Ecuador Transparente.

      The memo describes how on March 28, 2014, between 7:20 pm and 7:53 pm, a technician received reports of users unable to access Google and YouTube. It explains that Telefónica staff verified the accessibility issues and reported them to Telefónica’s Network Operations Center (NOC). The NOC then confirmed that these websites were inaccessible due to AEPROVI “blocking access to certain Internet websites by request of the National Government.” The leaked document explains that many clients were affected, prompting AEPROVI to roll back its website blocking in order to remedy the situation.

    • Ecuador Briefly Censored Google and YouTube, Leaked Document Shows

      On Thursday, March 27, 2014, someone hacked the official Twitter account of Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa. The next day, hackers posted personal emails from the country’s spy chief Rommy Vallejo on a Google-hosted blog, which contained a classic Anonymous-like YouTube video.

      Hours later, some internet users in Ecuador reported not being able to access Google and YouTube. As it turned out, the outage wasn’t caused by a technical glitch, but a government censorship order, according to a leaked document from telephone giant Telefonica.

      “The issues with accessing internet pages such as Google and YouTube was due to the fact that personnel at [Ecuador’s internet providers’ association] AEPROVI blocked access to certain internet pages by request of the national government,” reads part of the document, which appears to be an internal Telefonica support ticket.

    • Erdogan Tries to Extend Turkish Censorship to Germany

      Jan Böhmermann, host of the late-night “Neo Magazin Royale,” in Hamburg, Germany, on August 21, 2012. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has filed a complaint against the comedian who recited a satirical and sexually crude poem about him on German television, complicating Berlin’s attempts to get Turkey’s help in dealing with Europe’s migrant crisis.

    • Merkel, Accused of Betraying Core Values, Faces a Balancing Act With Turkey
    • Journalists want ‘slanderous’ poem republished

      Colleagues of satirist Jan Böhmermann at public broadcaster ZDF are campaigning to have his ‘slanderous’ poem about Turkey’s leader reinstated online – even as legal action looms against the comedian.

    • Let’s All Talk About The Stuff That UC Davis Spent $175k Trying To Keep Off These Internets

      Those funds, spent by a public university, mind you, were spent in the wake of the pepper spraying incident specifically to reformulate the image of UC Davis by obfuscating search results, web mentions of the incident, and by crafting a deluge of other UC Davis content that was decidedly more brand-friendly. But, hey, are you still confused as to what incident we’re talking about here? Maybe this video of the incident will help jog your memory.

      What should be readily apparent to you by now is that trying to bury factual if unfortunate history by hiring so-called brand reputation groups works about as well as trying to cover up your inability to cook a decent meal by dumping chocolate icing on everything you make. Sure, icing is good, but you still burnt that bone-in ribeye, you fool.

      More importantly, in true Streisand Effect fashion, the attempted coverup of the incident now has us all discussing it again. And not only discussing the incident, but multiplying information about the incident, and footage of it, throughout the internet.

    • Texas prisons’ new rules aim to force social media to close inmate accounts

      This month the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) updated its offender handbook (PDF) to stipulate that inmates are not allowed to have social media accounts. While blog posts are still permitted, a spokesperson for the TDCJ told Ars that the rule was developed to get social media platforms to comply with the corrections department’s takedown requests more readily.

    • ABC rejects criticism its Chinese web portal bows to Beijing censorship

      The ABC has strongly rejected criticism its Chinese web portal, AustraliaPlus.cn, helps Beijing to silence critical voices in the region.

      An opinion piece in the Australian Financial Review by Prof John Fitzgerald, director of the Asia Pacific program in social investment and philanthropy at Swinburne University of Technology accused the ABC of selling out its news values in order to get a foothold in China.

      “The ABC has not, and never has, entered into an agreement with China or any country in regards to censorship of its content,” the ABC said in a strongly-worded statement.

    • 6 May: Tehran Book Fair, Uncensored

      Taking place on 6-7 May 2016 at London’s Free Word Centre, the book fair coincides with the Tehran Book Fair, but unlike the Iranian counterpart, it’s free from censorship, and will feature censored books from independent Iranian publishers.

      Most of the event will be in Farsi, but there will be an English-language session too on Friday 6 May from 4.30pm to 5.30pm – in association with Index on Censorship and Small Media.

    • Student journalists battling censorship on campuses nationwide

      Freedom of the press on campus has garnered plenty of attention with incidents at the University of Missouri and Wesleyan University. Yet the two incidents “are hardly the only examples,” warns Observer.

      At Mizzou, a student photographer was pushed away from covering student protesters by former professor Melissa Click, who has since been fired and charged with assault. The Wesleyan Argus faced controversy and defunding threats after publishing a critical article about Black Lives Matter.

    • Jodie Ginsberg: “Free expression needs defenders”
    • In the Erdogan vs. Böhmermann crisis, the real comedians are the politicians themselves
    • UC Davis Spent $175,000 To Bury This Story Of Police Brutality. We’re Writing About It So They Fail.
    • UC Davis Wondered If $175,000 Would Make The Internet Go Away. Conclusion: No.
    • UC Davis spent $175,000 to bury search results after cops pepper-sprayed protestors
    • University of California in Davis Spent $175k on SEO and “Reputation Management”
    • U. of Delaware Students Drew a Penis on a Free Speech Ball. Cops Made Them Censor It.
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Mexican Supreme Court Should Reject Mass Surveillance
    • Two hidden recording devices are discovered at Harvard Law School
    • How Technology Helps Creditors Control Debtors

      From software that records your every keystroke, to GPS tracking, to ignition kill switches—lenders have more power over their customers than ever.

    • Facebook Employees Asked Mark Zuckerberg If They Should Try to Stop a Donald Trump Presidency

      This week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared to publicly denounce the political positions of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign during the keynote speech of the company’s annual F8 developer conference.

      “I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as ‘others,’” Zuckerberg said, never referring to Trump by name. “I hear them calling for blocking free expression, for slowing immigration, for reducing trade, and in some cases, even for cutting access to the internet.”


      “Facebook can promote or block any material that it wants,” UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh told Gizmodo. “Facebook has the same First Amendment right as the New York Times. They can completely block Trump if they want. They block him or promote him.” But the New York Times isn’t hosting pages like Donald Trump for President or Donald Trump for President 2016, the way Facebook is.


      Facebook has toyed with skewing news in the past. During the 2012 presidential election, Facebook secretly tampered with 1.9 million user’s news feeds. The company also tampered with news feeds in 2010 during a 61-million-person experiment to see how Facebook could impact the real-world voting behavior of millions of people. An academic paper was published about the secret experiment, claiming that Facebook increased voter turnout by more than 340,000 people. In 2012, Facebook also deliberately experimented on its users’ emotions. The company, again, secretly tampered with the news feeds of 700,000 people and concluded that Facebook can basically make you feel whatever it wants you to.

    • Canadian police had access to BlackBerry Messenger pretty much like everyone else

      POLICE IN CANADA took advantage of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) security’s “Achilles’ heel” by compelling the company to hand over its universal decryption key, and using access to mobile operators’ infrastructure to read more than a million messages.

      Declassified documents arising from a Royal Canadian Mounted Police criminal investigation between 2010 and 2012 indicate that the police force kept a dedicated server at its headquarters in Ottawa to intercept messages. The server was connected to the network of Canadian mobile operator Rogers, which also cooperated with investigators.

    • Canadian Law Enforcement Can Intercept, Decrypt Blackberry Messages

      Blackberry’s CEO, John Chen, didn’t care for the fact that Apple was “locking” law enforcement out of its devices by providing customers with default encryption. As he saw it, Apple was placing profits ahead of Mom, Apple pie and American-made motorcars.

    • Report Exposes Flaws In Link Shorteners That Reveal Sensitive Info About Users And Track Their Offline Movements

      The Freedom to Tinker Foundation has just released a study it compiled over the last 18 months — one in which it scanned thousands of shortened URLs and discovered what they unintentionally revealed. Microsoft’s OneDrive — which uses link-shortening — could be made to reveal documents uploaders never intended to share with the public. Worse, Freedom to Tinker discovered a small percentage of brute-forced URLs linked to documents with “write” privileges enabled.

    • How Short URLs Could Reveal Your Home Address and Get You Hacked

      Two researchers devised a method to automatically guess, or scan by brute force, millions of Microsoft OneDrive (1drv.ms) and Google Maps (goo.gl/maps) short links. This way, they found thousands of open OneDrive folders with potentially sensitive information, as well as Google Maps links that could be used to identify the people who created them, as well as their identity.

      In other words, short URLs with five, six, or seven-character tokens that users might think as private, are not that private.

      “When you are sharing something using a short URL, you are not sharing with just the intended recipient…you are sharing with the entire world.” Vitaly Shmatikov, a professor at Cornell Tech, and one of the researchers who worked on the study, told Motherboard in an email.

    • How an internet mapping glitch turned a random Kansas farm into a digital hell

      But instead of being a place of respite, the people who live on Joyce Taylor’s land find themselves in a technological horror story.

    • How Bad Are Geolocation Tools? Really, Really Bad

      Geolocation is one of those tools that the less technically minded like to use to feel smart. At its core it’s a database, showing locations for IP addresses, but like most database-based tools, the old maxim of GIGO [Garbage In, Garbage Out] applies. Over the weekend Fusion’s Kashmir Hill wrote a great story about how one geolocation company has sent hundreds of people to one farm in Kansas for no reason other than laziness. And yes, it’s exactly as bad as it sounds.

    • Sixth Circuit Says Cell Site Location Data Just A Business Record; No Warrants Required

      To date, four appeals courts have entered opinions on whether cell site location info is covered by the Fourth Amendment. So far, only the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has found this to be worthy of a warrant. All others find CSLI to be covered under the Third Party Doctrine. These cases all deal with historical cell site location info, usually obtained in bulk with subpoenas. Near real-time tracking using tower pings is another issue entirely — one that’s rarer because a) obtaining rolling CSLI from a provider is a pain and b) everyone’s using Stingrays now.

    • FBI Has Been Not Counting Encryption’s Impact on Investigations for Over a Decade

      During the first of a series of hearings in the last year in which Jim Comey (at this particular hearing, backed by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates) pushed for back doors, they were forced to admit they didn’t actually have numbers proving encryption was a big problem for their investigations because they simply weren’t tracking that number.

    • Documents Show FBI Deployed Software Exploits To Break Encryption Back In 2003

      Documents FOIA’ed by Ryan Shapiro and shared with the New York Times shed some new light on previous FBI efforts to break encryption. Back in 2003, the FBI was investigating an animal rights group for possibly sabotaging companies that used animals for testing. The FBI’s Department of Cutesy Investigation Names dubbed this “Operation Trail Mix,” which I’m sure endeared it to the agents on the case. At the center of the investigation were emails the FBI couldn’t read. But it found a way.

    • The FBI’s Asinine Attempt to Retroactively Justify Cracking Farook’s Phone

      That’s the logic the FBI is now peddling to reporters who are copping onto what was clear from the start: that there was never going to be anything of interest on Farook’s phone. After all, they’re suggesting geolocation data on the phone (some of which would be available from Verizon) might explain the 18 minutes of the day of the attack the FBI has yet to piece together.

    • FAQ: Apple, the FBI, and Zero Days
    • Massive EU data protection overhaul finally approved

      The European Parliament today voted in favour of major reforms to data protection in the EU, first put forward in January 2012 as a replacement for the current rules, which were drawn up in 1995. The new law is done and dusted and will come into action in April 2018.

      There are two components to the new law: the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is designed to give EU citizens better control of their personal data, and the Data Protection Directive, which covers how personal data is used by police in the EU.

    • Apple Responds To DOJ’s Attempt To Get Into Drug Dealer’s Phone: Why You So Dishonest?

      As we’ve discussed at length, there are multiple cases going on right now in which the US Justice Department is looking to compel Apple to help access encrypted information on iPhones. There was lots of attention paid to the one in San Bernardino, around Syed Farook’s work iPhone, but that case is now over. The one getting almost but not quite as much attention is the one happening across the country in NY, where magistrate judge James Orenstein ruled against the DOJ a little over a month ago, with a very detailed explanation for why the All Writs Act clearly did not apply. The DOJ, not surprisingly, appealed that ruling (technically made a “renewed application” rather than an appeal) to an Article III judge and the case was assigned to judge Margo Brodie.

    • Special forces troops ‘using new GCHQ system’ on anti-terror patrols? [Ed: propaganda rag uses the “support the troops” card to ‘sell’ GCHQ to us]
    • GCHQ director acknowledges historic mistreatment of LGBT people at Stonewall conference
    • UK spy chief apologises for GCHQ’s historic ban on gay staff
    • Spy agency chief: I apologize to gay staff unfairly dismissed in the past
    • GCHQ chief apologises for ‘horrifying’ treatment of Alan Turing [Ed: intolerance, new charm offensive]
    • Head of GCHQ apologises for historic ban on homosexuals
    • GCHQ apology for Turing and homosexuals treatment
    • GCHQ boss publicly apologises for the organisation’s historic ban on gay staff
    • Edward Snowden Forms Improbable Partnership With Jean-Michel Jarre
    • Edward Snowden made a song with electronic musician Jean-Michel Jarre
    • Edward Snowden Is Releasing A Song Called ‘Exit’. No, It’s Not A Joke.
    • Edward Snowden is now dabbling in techno music
    • Edward Snowden releasing techno track with Jean Michel Jarre
    • Edward Snowden has been messaging teenagers about the news and making electronic music
    • US anti-encryption law is so ‘braindead’ it will outlaw file compression

      The proposed bill put forward by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to force US companies to build backdoors into their encryption systems has quickly run into trouble.

      Less than 24 hours after the draft Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016 was released, more than 43,000 signatures have been added to a petition calling for the bill to be withdrawn. The petition, organized by CREDO Action, calls for Congress to block the proposed law as a matter of urgency.

    • Microsoft Sues Government Over Its ECPA-Enabled Gag Orders

      The lawsuit claims these gag orders violate multiple rights of multiple parties. Those whose data is being requested are having their Fourth Amendment rights violated by the undisclosed searches. Microsoft’s First Amendment rights are being violated by the accompanying gag orders.

    • Adoption of three texts on personal data: teach yourself how to be safe!

      Today, the European Parliament adopted three texts on personal data: the regulation framework for personal data processing by private companies, the Directive on judicial and police processing of personal data, and the PNR (Passenger Name Record) that aims at the creation of national records gathering large amounts of data of persons travelling from or to the European Union, including internal flights. These texts feature numerous loopholes that threaten the right to privacy. Given the inability of the institutions to come up with regulations that actually protect Internet users, it is up to each and every one of us to learn how to protect themselves, their personal data and their privacy on the Internet.

    • Coast Guard Academy competes against other service academies, NSA in cyber security exercise [Ed: New NSA puff piece wrapped up in prose]
    • Facebook Hired a Former DARPA Head To Lead An Ambitious New Research Lab [Ed: imperialism and mass surveillance symbiotic]

      She was a key Google executive, too

      If you need another sign that Facebook’s world-dominating ambitions are just getting started, here’s one: the Menlo Park, Calif. company has hired a former DARPA chief to lead its new research lab.

    • Mobile By Reach: Digging Deeper into Pew Numbers from February, with Projections to 2016 [Ed: so who needs RFID? People let themselves be tracked at all time]

      With Pew’s survey we found using my company analysis that the world has 5.0 Billion unique mobile phone owners (owning one or more mobile phones, which can be smart or dumb phones). Out of the 5.0B, the number of unique smartphone owners was 2.3 Billion last year (46%) and as we’ve measured out of the sales numbers the total installed base of all smartphones at 2.5 Billion so 200 million of the total smartphones in use worldwide are by those of us who have 2 phones in their pockets (or 9% of all smartphone unique owners have 2 smartphones). I published this breakdown of the world mobile phone unique ownership and smartphone vs dumbphone vs no-phone owners in February, based on Pew numbers:

    • US court agrees with feds: Warrants aren’t needed for cell-site location data

      Another federal appeals court is siding with the Obama administration’s position that court warrants are not required to track a suspect’s cell-site location. The Wednesday decision (PDF) by the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals adds to the growing number of federal appeals court rulings siding with the government, likely meaning the US Supreme Court won’t weigh into the legal thicket any time soon. Only one federal circuit has sided against the government, but that ruling was set aside, (PDF) and a new decision is pending after the court accepted the government’s petition to rehear the dispute.

    • Subway photographer connects random photos to people’s social media profiles

      Егор Цветков (Egor Tsvetkov), a photographer in Russia, has taken photos of random people on the subway and connected them to social media portraits and complete profiles using face matching technology. This is a game changer.

      It used to be that technology was good enough to say whether two photos appeared to be of the same person. We’ve now reached an inflection point where one input photo can (mostly) be used to find the matching person among tens of millions of people, and where the processing power used is low enough for that service to be free. This is a complete game changer.

      The gravity of this doesn’t really hit you until you see the examples, where the photos are taken under radically different lighting and angles than the portrait photos, and sometimes with different facial hair, too. What’s more, this photographer used a freely available photo matching service – FindFace.ru – which has already imported a vast amount of (all?) photos on vKontakte, which is Russia’s equivalent of Facebook, and let a neural network study all of those photos.

    • Harry Potter Publisher Goes on a Bizarre Anti-Piracy Rampage

      The publishing platform responsible for marketing J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has gone on a bizarre anti-piracy rampage. Pottermore and its anti-piracy partners told Google that J.K. Rowling’s Wikipedia page was infringing, but sadly that’s just the tip of a ridiculous DMCA notice iceberg.

    • So GCHQ is already spying on behalf of the copyright industry. Why isn’t there an outcry over this change of mission?

      It was a little-noticed story in the Entertainment and Oddities section: The GCHQ is using its spying network to help the copyright industry prevent “unauthorized distribution of creative works” – meaning ordinary people sharing interesting things with each other. Yes, that spying network which was supposed to prevent horrible terror attacks, and only to prevent horrible terror attacks, to safeguard our very lives as a last line of defense, is now in the service of the copyright industry.

    • Burr-Feinstein encryption bill is officially here in all its scary glory

      Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein released the official version of their anti-encryption bill today after a draft appeared online last week. The bill, titled the Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016, would require tech firms to decrypt customers’ data at a court’s request.

      The Burr-Feinstein proposal has already faced heavy criticism from the tech and legislative communities and is not expected to get anywhere in the Senate. President Obama has also indicated that he will not support the bill, Reuters reports.

    • Impeachment or NSA-Led Coup? Alarming Efforts to Oust Brazil’s Rousseff

      Over 60% of Brazilians do not believe that President Dilma Rousseff should be subject to impeachment proceedings, but a cadre of corrupt far right politicians armed with NSA surveillance documents continue to push for her ouster.

      On Monday, a 65-member congressional committee in Brazil voted to advance impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff, in relation to the “carwash” corruption investigation. Although President Rousseff is not herself implicated in illegal or corrupt activity, the impeachment is proceeding on the grounds of “a crime of responsibility,” suggesting that she should have taken action to prevent corruption.

    • NSA, other feds using innovation to improve security [Ed: this site has just reaffirmed status as useless, shallow stenography for Feds and spies]
    • US Attorney Suggests Solution To Open Source Encryption: Ban Importation Of Open Source Encryption

      If you can’t read that, she said: “I think it would be reasonable to ban the import of open-source encryption software.” This is idiotic on any number of levels, and that an actual representative of law enforcement would make such a claim is immensely troubling and raises serious questions about the competency of the US Attorney’s Office in Eastern Michigan.

      First off, the Open Technology Institute released a paper late last year showing that there was a ton of both open source and foreign encryption products that weren’t subject to US regulations. Another paper, released earlier this year by the Berkman Center and written by Bruce Schneier (along with Kathleen Seidel and Saranya Vijayakumar), found that there were 865 encryption products from 55 different countries on the market when they wrote the paper (it could be more by now), with 546 of those from outside the US. In other words, there are a lot of these kinds of products. So, at the very least, they’d be used by people outside of the US.

      But, more to the point, a ban on importing them? We already had that legal fight, though back then it was on the question of exporting encryption. In Bernstein v. the US Department of Justice, the government sought to block Daniel Bernstein from publishing his algorithm for his Snuffle encryption system, saying it violated export laws related to exporting weapons. Eventually, the 9th Circuit ruled that software source code was speech protected by the First Amendment and any regulations preventing publication would be unconstitutional.

    • Apparently Hacking Syed Farook’s iPhone Accomplished Nothing (Other Than Making Everyone Less Safe)

      Remember, this was the same iPhone that the DOJ and the FBI said was critical in their investigation. This is the same iPhone that the San Bernardino District Attorney, Michael Ramos, insisted could be hiding evidence of a “dormant cyber pathogen” destined to destroy San Bernardino County’s computer network.

    • How the NSA’s CryptoKids Stole My FOIA Innocence

      The CryptoKids, if you’re not aware, was a mid-2000s attempt by the NSA to appeal to the youth of today by creating a crazy cartoon cadre of codebreakers that’s one pair of rollerblades away from a cease and desist from Burger King. It was generally considered a terrible idea, and then after news broke about the whole “spying on citizens” thing, an absolutely terrible idea.

    • Brussels Terrorist Laptop Included Details Of Planned Attack In Unencrypted Folder Titled ‘Target’

      As the push to backdoor or ban encryption heats up, kneejerk politicians have rushed to embrace each and every recent attack and to immediately point fingers at encryption. Right after the Paris attacks, politicians started blaming encryption, even though evidence suggested they communicated by unencrypted SMS. Even months later, the press was ridiculously using the total lack of evidence of any encryption… as evidence of encryption. Then with the Brussels attacks from a few weeks ago politicians like Rep. Adam Schiff immediately tried to blame encryption insisting that “we can be sure that terrorists will continue to use what they perceive to be the most secure means to plot their attacks.”

    • The CIA Is Investing in Firms That Mine Your Tweets and Instagram Photos

      SOFT ROBOTS THAT can grasp delicate objects, computer algorithms designed to spot an “insider threat,” and artificial intelligence that will sift through large data sets — these are just a few of the technologies being pursued by companies with investment from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm, according to a document obtained by The Intercept.

      Yet among the 38 previously undisclosed companies receiving In-Q-Tel funding, the research focus that stands out is social media mining and surveillance; the portfolio document lists several tech companies pursuing work in this area, including Dataminr, Geofeedia, PATHAR, and TransVoyant.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Matthew Keys Gets 2 Years In Jail For 40 Minute Web Defacement He Didn’t Even Commit

      The latest in the Matthe Keys case is that Keys has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for his involvement in a minor incomprehensible web defacement of an LA Times story that lasted for all of about 40 minutes. The prosecution was asking for 5 years, while Keys’ lawyers asked for nothing more than probation. As we noted, the whole thing seems fairly crazy. It is entirely possible that Keys acted like an immature jackass regarding his former employer, but the actual case revolved around a single action: the claimed sharing of login credentials for the content management system of the Tribune Company, which another person (who is apparently known to law enforcement, but has never been charged with anything) used to do a minor defacement of a single story to have the headline read: Pressure builds in House to elect CHIPPY 1337.

      This minor defacement was up for about 40 minutes before being taken down. When the government tried to add up the damages, the Tribune Company at first admitted that there were basically none. After being pushed, they “found” more damages and somehow it turned into nearly a million dollars, by making emails that “cost” $225 and talking about something totally unrelated to this hack — some alleged harassment Key did by emailing people in a database from his former employer. If he actually did this (he denies it), it was a really shitty thing to do, but it also was not what he was on trial for.

    • Journalist gets two-year sentence for helping Anonymous hack LA Times

      Matthew Keys was convicted of giving login credentials to the hacking group, in a decision civil liberties group calls ‘prosecutorial discretion run amok’

    • Swedish prosecutors argue for upholding Assange arrest warrant

      Swedish prosecutors still believe an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be upheld, they said on Thursday in reply to the Stockholm District Court that will decide whether to lift the warrant.

    • Indonesia’s Aceh province canes non-Muslim for selling booze

      An elderly Christian woman has been caned in a conservative Indonesian province for selling alcohol, the first time someone from outside the Islamic faith has been punished there under strict religious laws.

      The 60-year-old was whipped nearly 30 times with a rattan cane before a crowd of hundreds in Aceh province Tuesday (Apr 12), an official said, along with a couple who were subjected to 100 lashes for committing adultery.

      Aceh is the only province in the predominantly Muslim country that applies sharia law, and public canings for breaches of Islamic code happen on a regular basis and often attract huge crowds.

      Those caught engaging in adultery, same-sex relationships, drinking and even associating with unmarried members of the opposite sex can end up facing the cane.

    • The Government’s Unprecedented Position in CIA Torture Lawsuit Is Very Good News

      Those responsible for the CIA torture program have never had to face their victims’ claims in a U.S. court because the government has always shielded the perpetrators. Until now.

    • Two Election Scandals That CNN Won’t Touch

      In 1968, Richard Nixon’s operatives derailed President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks which could have brought that bloody conflict to an end that year – rather than four years later and saved millions of lives – but peace might have meant Nixon’s defeat. A sordid tale described in declassified U.S. government records.

      In 1980, it was Ronald Reagan’s operatives who went behind President Jimmy Carter’s back to disrupt his negotiations to free 52 American hostages held by Iranian radicals and thus doom Carter’s reelection chances, a story described by more than two dozen sources from a range of different perspectives.

      But these two well-documented cases apparently touch too raw a nerve, so they are not on CNN’s roster. Still, you can learn about them at Consortiumnews.com by clicking on the “October Surprise Series” tab and reading the stories there.

    • How the Clarence Thomas Confirmation Hearings Changed How America Talks About Sexual Harassment

      On Saturday, HBO will premiere the film “Confirmation” starring Kerry Washington as Anita Hill and Wendell Pierce as then-judge, now–Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The movie recreates the three days of Supreme Court confirmation hearings that riveted the country in October 1991, launching a national conversation about sexual harassment in the workplace and helping to lead to a watershed year for women in elected office. Twenty-five years later, these hearings still resonate as one of the greatest political, sexual, and racial dramas in modern history. Slate senior legal correspondent Dahlia Lithwick recently spoke with Gillian Thomas, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project and author of Because of Sex, about Confirmation. (The two writers were also college roommates, graduating in 1990.)

    • Black Lives Don’t Matter, Black Votes Do: the Racial Hypocrisy of Hillary and Bill Clinton

      The Clintons have always cultivated a warm affection for African-Americans. One iconic image shows Bill riffing on his saxophone for Arsenio Hall. Another pictures Hillary hugging parishioners in black churches. Similar beguiling images appear daily in the media as her presidential campaign progresses.

    • The Single Most Important Thing That Hillary Clinton Did Not Say Last Night

      Hillary Clinton doesn’t want you to know who she would name to the Supreme Court.

    • EU rulings on whistleblowers and right-to-be-forgotten laws puts press freedom at risk

      European journalists were reminded today that their freedom to report is not only determined by national laws, but increasingly by European institutions. Today, after years of political battle, the European Parliament adopted the Passenger Name Record directive, the Data Protection Package, and the Trade Secrets Protection Act. The stakes were immense and the debates long and heated, leading to dissent and divisions within many political groups-and campaigns about the potential impact from journalists.

    • Sit-Ins, Arrests, and Escalation: Student Divestment Movement Springs into Action

      The fossil fuel divestment movement continued its momentum this week as students across the U.S. highlighted the need for their institutions to dump “support of global climate disaster, exploitation, and human suffering.”

      On Tuesday, for example, four members of Divest Harvard were arrested after staging a sit-in at the Federal Reserve Bank building, where the Harvard Management Company, which manages that university’s endowment, is located.

      That company “is the entity that actually does the day-to-day work investing in fossil fuel companies, so we thought it would be appropriate to take our message to this other important actor,” Harvard Law School student and Divest Harvard student Kelsey Skaggs, told the Crimson.

    • Anonymous hacktivist Matt DeHart gets credit from U.S. authorities for time served in Canadian prison

      An Anonymous hacktivist and former U.S. airman, who sought asylum in Canada claiming torture by American officials over his access to secret government documents, has unexpectedly had two years he spent in prison in Canada deducted from his sentence.

      After his deportation from Canada last year when his refugee claim was rejected, Matt DeHart entered a plea bargain with U.S. prosecutors, admitting to possession of sexually explicit photos of two underaged teenagers and avoiding court by fleeing across the border.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Wireless Industry Survey: Everybody Really Loves Zero Rating

      With the FCC glacially pondering whether or not zero rating (exempting some content from usage caps) is a bad idea, the wireless industry has decided to try and settle the argument. According to a new study by the wireless industry, 94% of Millennials are more likely to try a new online service if it’s part of a free data offering, 98% are more likely to stay with a carrier that offers such services, and 94% of Millennials are likely to use more data if it doesn’t count against their data plan. As intended, the survey resulted in a lot of varied news headlines insisting that “consumers actually like ISPs to play favorites on mobile data caps.”

    • White House Threatens To Veto Bill Attempting To Gut Net Neutrality, Defang FCC

      As we just noted, the House has been pushing yet another bill that attempts to punish the FCC for its uncharacteristic new habit of actually standing up to giant ISPs. The “No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act” (pdf) professes to be a bill focused on curtailing government run amok; with a particular eye on preventing the FCC from being able to regulate broadband rates (not-coincidentally just as ISPs begin heavily pursuing usage caps). But the bill uses a unique definition of “rate regulation” to, in reality, ban the FCC from doing, well, pretty much anything.

    • The Untold Story of the Teen Hackers Who Transformed the Early Internet

      On October 12th, 1983, Bill Landreth called his friend Chris in Detroit to chat. Chris frantically explained that the FBI had raided his house. “Don’t call me anymore,” Chris said in what would be a very short conversation. Bill didn’t know exactly what was happening, but he did know this: If the FBI had come for Chris, then he might be next.

      The next day, around a dozen FBI agents stormed Bill’s parent’s house just outside of San Diego, amassing piles of evidence including a computer that Bill, then 18, had hidden under his sister’s bed. Bill and Chris, who was 14 at the time, were the leaders of a coalition of teen hackers known as The Inner Circle. In a single day, the FBI conducted coordinated raids of group members across nine states, taking computers, modems, and copious handwritten notes detailing ways to access various networks on what was then a rudimentary version of the internet.

    • House Passes Bill to Sabotage Net Neutrality

      In a disappointing turn of events, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 241 to 173 to pass H.R. 2666, the No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act, a bill that would undermine the FCC’s ability to enforce key net neutrality protections.

      As we’ve mentioned previously, the bill’s ostensible purpose is to bar the FCC from regulating the rates of broadband Internet providers, thus locking into law a promise that the agency made when it introduced its new net neutrality rules last year. On its face, that’s not necessarily a bad idea.

      The problem is that the bill is worded in such a way that it could be used to keep the FCC from enforcing many important protections of users’ rights. At best, H.R. 2666 is a poorly written bill that brings a host of unintended consequences. At worst, it’s a calculated attempt to undermine the net neutrality principles we’ve all been fighting for.

      As the bill moves to the Senate this session, it’s crucial that senators reject it. Fortunately, President Obama has said that he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Analysis: WTO Amendment On Access To Medicines Faces EU Conundrum

      After waiting for over a decade, the World Trade Organization is finally close to achieving the first ever amendment to its rule-book, with only a handful of members still needing to formally accept new intellectual property provisions dealing with one aspect of access to medicines.

    • WIPO Members Flirt With Agreement On WIPO Technical Assistance

      South Africa commended WIPO on the interventions provided on successful technology licensing, intellectual property marketing, and IP valuation, in the document. South Africa suggested, as the way forward after the project, that WIPO set up a programme with the objective of advancing the skill set of individuals within offices of technology transfer in institutions, small and medium sized enterprises, and innovators.

    • Trademarks

      • Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Joins Too Many Other Presidential Campaigns In Abusing Trademark Law

        I shouldn’t have to start this post this way, but after someone flipped out in my last post about the treatment of Hillary Clinton and her emails, accusing me of being nothing more than a “BernieBro,” I’ll just make this explicit: I don’t currently support any of the current Presidential candidates, and am pretty sure I’ve mocked all of them for ignorance around issues that concern those of us at Techdirt. Either way, I wonder how the guy insisting I was just a secret Bernie supporter will respond to this article…

        Yes, because now Bernie Sanders’ campaign is the latest in a long list of presidential candidates to abuse trademark law to try to stifle criticism. His campaign joins those of Hillary Clinton, Ben Carson, Ron Paul and more as presidential candidates, past and present, abusing trademark law.

      • Delhi High Court steps into India trade mark row

        The Delhi High Court has come to the rescue of trade mark applicants, who are aggrieved that the Indian Trade Marks Registry has abandoned nearly 200,000 pending applications

      • Own name defence narrowed in Europe

        The recently introduced EU trade mark reforms limit the scope of the own name defence. James Whymark and Rachel Boakes explain why the change was introduced, and ask if it is really necessary

      • UK Trademark Battle Over The Number 3

        Anyone reading this site will know by now that the alcohol business has a trademark problem. As a quick refresher, what used to be an industry largely dominated by massive macro-companies has since evolved into one of small players, with craft breweries and distilleries exploding in popularity. With the increased amount of brands and inventory on the market, so too has the practice of creatively named brands come into vogue. And with that has come the trademark squabbles. Examples of the trademark disputes centered around these creative names for brands will include a beer called ‘Strikes Bock’, a brew entitled ‘Mus Knuckle’, and a brewery called ‘Innovation Brewing’.

      • Interview: Om Prakash Gupta on India’s trade mark troubles

        The Controller General of India’s Patent and Trade Mark Registry responded to Managing IP’s questions by email regarding the concerns over nearly 200,000 abandoned trade mark applications

    • Copyrights

      • You Wouldn’t Steal a Carouselambra (other Led Zeppelin songs are available)

        The essence of the recent ruling was not an investigation of stealing, but a finding that there is sufficiently substantial similarity between the pieces of music for a further trial. So why do so many news sources that should know better continue to frame the issues into a theft narrative?

      • MPAA Wants ISPs to Disconnect Persistent Pirates

        The MPAA wants Internet providers and services to take stronger actions against persistent copyright infringers. Ideally, the most egregious pirates should lose their accounts permanently, the group says. To accomplish this ISPs should be required to track the number of notices they receive for each account.

      • Can Lawyers ‘Overcome’ The Bogus Copyright On ‘We Shall Overcome’ And Free It To The Public Domain?

        Earlier this year, after a bit of a roller coaster ride of a legal fight over the copyright status of the song “Happy Birthday,” the two key parties finally reached a settlement that declared the song in the public domain. While many news reports had earlier claimed that the judge in the case had done the same, that wasn’t really true. The judge simply declared that Warner Chappell did not hold the copyright, leaving it an open question as to whether or not anyone else did — and some quickly raised their hands to claim the copyright.

        Either way, the legal team that helped achieve this eventual victory has apparently decided to go for it again. Representing a group calling itself the We Shall Overcome Foundation (WSOF), they are claiming that The Richmond Organization (TRO Inc.) and Ludlow Music are falsely claiming copyright over the famous civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome,” because that song is in the public domain. The case has tremendous similarities to the Happy Birthday case. As in that case, the plaintiffs say they’re making a documentary about the song. In this case, they sought a license for the song and were denied without explanation. TRO-Ludlow had first told WSOF that the song was “very difficult” to clear and they had to approve any use. WSOF recorded someone singing just one short verse, and then TRO-Ludlow flat out refused, but would not give any further explanation.

      • Judge Tosses Rick Ross’ Copyright Suit Over LMFAO’s Use Of Derivative Three-Word Phrase

        It’s been less than a year since we discussed LMFAO, the band, and its attempt to bully a brewery into renaming its beer called LMFAO with intellectual property threats. Well, the bro-rock duo is back in the IP spotlight again, but this time with a win. Rick Ross had long ago sued LMFAO over its hit song Party Rock Anthem for including a line, “Everyday I’m shufflin’.” Ross had his own hit song called Hustlin, which famously contained the line “Everyday I’m hustlin’,” and Ross argued for copyright infringement, claiming LMFAO’s lyric was an unauthorized derivative work.

Microsoft’s War on Java Shows That Microsoft’s E.E.E. (Embrace, Extend, Extinguish) Tactics Are Alive and Well

Posted in Antitrust, GNU/Linux, Java, Microsoft, Mono at 3:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft a serial killer of FOSS

A serial killer

Summary: Microsoft has just killed yet another FOSS project (using money to shut down competitors) — one that was helping Android and Java

THE headline “Embrace, extend – and kill. Microsoft discontinues RoboVM” says it all really. Several people in our IRC channels noticed this original story (from the original statement) rather quickly and later on in the day some people told me about it privately, so it obviously wasn’t overlooked at all.

“Nice,” Lirodon wrote in the afternoon, “and now Microsoft has killed RoboVM dead. It was already dead when they became non-free.”

“Microsoft,” MinceR responded, “where projects go to die [...] just like they killed entire video game developer companies (Terminal Reality and Ensemble Studios)” (we covered this years ago).

Microsoft is just the same old evil company, there is no ‘ new’ Microsoft. Microsoft will try this against GNU/Linux if it can. It’s its classic modus operandi, but taking on a project as big as these (to “extinguish”) is a monumental task.

What Techrights wrote about RoboVM when it was first “embraced” [1, 2, 3] turns out to be true. We foresaw exactly what Microsoft would do about RoboVM once it’s payday (yet again!) for Miguel de Icaza.

Some people still wonder, what exactly happened to RoboVM? Here it is in their own words: “Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working with the teams at Xamarin and Microsoft to assess the technology and business conditions of RoboVM to determine the path forward for the products. After looking at the complete landscape for mobile development with Java, the decision has been made to wind down development of RoboVM.”

After they had made it proprietary (shortly before Xamarin stepped in formally), essentially stabbing the whole community in the back, the Microsoft people (all of them are Microsoft staff now) did this:

For any fools out there who still think Microsoft doesn’t do E.E.E. against FOSS, here we go again. What would it take to wake people up? How many more companies need to die? How could RoboVM not know that Xamarin was an evil proxy of Microsoft? It was common knowledge as it wasn’t hard to see where Xamarin’s money had come from (Microsoft veterans).

Microsoft is now essentially shutting down another pillar of Java, so this is classic E.E.E. via Xamarin. As one person put it to us, “and today Microsoft ordered RoboVM to wind down operation” (linking to the original announcement).

A lot of the utter rubbish about Microsoft “loving Linux” is a villainous lie. It’s the best lie money can buy as it’s clear that Microsoft is still very aggressive; it hates GNU/Linux, it hates Android, and it hates Java. Don’t let the Microsoft-funded media fool you (Microsoft Peter, for instance, moved from the UK to the US to write for Condé Nast, which is paid by Microsoft). Microsoft basically buys articles from various large media networks; it pays networks to tell us that Microsoft has changed, but nothing is changing, it’s only escalating.

The above, says Fernando Cassia, “reminds me of VirtualPC, which was a product of Innotek Gmbh and offerend Windows virtualization under OS/2 hosts….”

He then told me, “guess which product they dropped after being acquired by Microsoft? Yes, Virtual PC for IBM OS/2 :-/”

He further emphasised that “everything Microsoft does is about leveraging its cash cow to hurt competitors or whatever it sees as a menace” and “the war on Java started ten years ago… “Operation Sunblock” never really stopped” (here is the article about “Operation Sunblock”)

“20 years ago,” he added a few hours later, “boy how time flew [...] “+options available…including tools that will help you PORT TO XAMARIN” //Competitor eliminated.Mission accomplished”

When will be the next antitrust probe against Microsoft bribery, racketeering, blackmail, and extortion? Did it get enough lobbyists in all the right places in order to shift any such focus to Google? Remember that Microsoft is still run by the same thugs (only the CEO changed) and they want Android and Linux to be next in the E.E.E. pipeline. Microsoft loves nothing but itself and its own monopoly of lock-in and back doors. New charm offensives try to lull us into sleep and inaction (no defensive/reactionary statements from the community).

As one person told me yesterday: “Remember Microsoft’s charm offensive with Nokia? We all know very well how that ended and what happened to MeeGo & Meltemi.”

We wrote a lot about what Microsoft did to Nokia. How many more Linux and FOSS backers need to die (out of work) before the media acknowledges that Microsoft is a liar and an assassin?

Benoît Battistelli “Left in Anger During an Initial Meeting With the State Secretary [Who] Started Talking About Working Conditions for the Staff”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Can’t handle the truth

President Battistelli

Summary: Dutch media coverage about the EPO continues to pile on pressure for change at the EPO, whose President is autocratic and unable to grasp his many abuses

THE EPO‘s management, led by a person infamous for his temper, is still as mean as it has been been for the past few years. Nothing changes. There are significant actions on their way, so things will have to be changed. We still sit on some stories that we intend to publish if or when publication won’t compromise sources or jeopardise diplomatic processes (several are going on behind the scenes at the moment).

“Personeel Europees Octrooibureau gaat staken; wantrouwen tussen top en werknemers loopt op,” published on the 4th of April, has “Translations [...] available in English, French and German,” according to SUEPO. The supplied English translation [PDF] provides no new information, but we have decided to post it below, with important parts highlighted in yellow, for the sake of completeness.

European Patent Office staff plan to strike; distrust between management and employees mounts

RIJSWIJK – European Patent Office (EPO) staff will be holding a strike on Thursday. The reason for this is the mounting lack of trust between the employees and the management of the European organisation.

The employees at four branches of the EPO, including Rijswijk, will therefore not be working on 7 April. A proposal to strike was supported by a huge majority of the employees. At least 90 percent of those who took part in a vote on the walkout voted ‘yes’.

There has been unrest at the EPO for years now. Hundreds of employees took part in a demonstration march through The Hague at the end of January. The immediate cause for this was the dismissal of two colleagues and downgrading of a third.

Criticism of the management

According to the employees, they are paying for the fact that they dared to express criticism of the ‘tyrannical’ EPO boss, Frenchman Benoît Battistelli.

The staff members demanded, among other things, that the measures should be suspended, but that did not happen. They are also against a change in the working conditions.

Biggest international organisation in the Netherlands

At the European Patent Office, a patent can be requested for various countries in Europe with just one application. The Rijswijk branch is the largest international organisation in the Netherlands with 2,700 employees.

After the demonstration in January, the cabinet also made it clear that there were concerns about the working conditions. According to State Secretary Martijn van Dam (PvdA – Dutch Labour Party, Economic Affairs) ‘a dialogue was opened’ between the management of the EPO and union members, at the insistence of the European Patent Organisation (EPOrg) member states. ‘The objective of this was to create better mutual understanding, as a prerequisite for an improvement supported by the management and staff,’ he wrote in his answer to the parliamentary questions.

No results

But Van Dam also had to recognise that: ‘This dialogue has been difficult and has not yet led to concrete results. Media reports about the poor relations also give cause for concern. So there is every reason to keep a close eye on the situation.’

NRC later reported that EPO boss Battistelli even left in anger during an initial meeting with the state secretary because Van Dam started talking about working conditions for the staff.

We invite people to send us any material which they have about the Board 28 meeting and Battistelli’s meeting with FFPE-EPO a few days ago. We still know too little about these. Secrecy prevails because of fear.

Administrative Council “Openly Showed Disapproval of Battistelli’s Behaviour” at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Another slap on the wrist, but will they have the courage to sack him?


Summary: Even those who are capable of bossing (including firing) the President of the Office at the European Patent Organisation are unhappy with his performance and no longer afraid to openly express their views

Christian Kirsch’s article from a day before the strike at the EPO was noted here before. We had sought a translation from a native German speaker, but never got any.

Here is SUEPO’s English translation [PDF] with highlights where new or important information crept in:

European Patent Office: Strike against dismissal of staff union members

A one-day walkout by staff members was aimed at having disciplinary measures against their representatives being revoked, as well as ensuring that a mediator would oversee future negotiations with the management.

In a poll taken at the beginning of March 2016, 91 percent of those involved voted for a strike at the European Patent Office (EPO), and the next day, Thursday, it happened, The staff union Suepo, which organized the one-day protest, is demanding as a priority the immediate suspension (PDF document) of the disciplinary measures against three staff representatives. Two of them were suspended in January 2016, and a third demoted. Measures which the beleaguered President of the Office, Benoît Battistelli, took above and beyond the proposal by the Disciplinary Committee.

A further demand is for a truly independent institution to investigate the three cases. Up to now, disputes between EPO management and staff have been the prerogative of a disciplinary committee, with the President deciding alone on disciplinary measures. Because the Office is an inter-state institution, the employees are unable to have these decisions examined by any national courts. Their only means of recourse is the International Labour Organization (ILO), where proceedings drag on for years. The ILO had already registered its unease in 2015 about the flood of complaints being received from the EPO (PDF document) and demanded that the work situation in the Office be improved.

Even the Administrative Council is calling for improvement

These demands came at the most recent meeting of the EPO Administrative Council (AC), which, as the highest executive body, is intended, among other things, to oversee the President. For the first time, the Council openly showed disapproval of Battistelli’s behaviour and called for changes to the staff regulations, in particular with regard to the EPO’s internal investigation unit. This unit gathers evidence against staff members who are suspected of some shortcomings, which has already resulted in the installation of key loggers on publicly-accessible EPO computers.

Like the Administrative Council, the union is demanding fair dealings with the EPO management, under the observation of an internationally recognized moderator. Back in 2015 the AC was already insisting that Battistelli should come to an agreement with the union. Shortly before the last meeting in mid-March 2016, the Council presented the President with a “Memorandum of understanding”. But the contracting party was not Suepo, which represents 3400 of the 6000 employees; instead, it was the FFPE-EPO union, with fewer than 100 members. This PR trick did not fool the AC, though, and didn’t satisfy it either. (ck)

There is another article, also from German media, titled “Der Streit im Europäischen Patentamt eskaliert”. SUEPO says it was published by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 4 days days after the strike but “only in paper version.” Well, can anyone send a scam/photo of it for our record? The more is known, the more can be done to shed light on the terrible situation.

It turns out that there is a lawsuit coming next. One source told us that lawsuits were even being considered against the pertinent national patent offices (or their representatives) for failing to act amid lawlessness at the EPO. For the sake of their own careers, members of the Administrative Council should be more proactive. At times of great injustice a hands-off approach should be off the table.

Criticisms of the Patent System of the United States, Which is Imposed on the Rest of the World Using Corporate Lobbyists and Attracts or Creates Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Patents at 1:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Even Creative is now resorting to creative patent trolling against rivals in the Eastern District of Texas

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Sound Blaster

Summary: An outline of recent news about the US patent system, where the prognosis continues to be somewhat negative and hopeless

Patently-O looks at reissue pendency at the USPTO, plotting some graphs and noting, in words: “Reissue applications have resumed their somewhat steady-state following the pre-AIA rise associated that had been associated with a counter strategy against third-party reexamination filings.

“For those issued thus far in 2016, the average reissue pendency is 28 months (median 22 months).”

“The US patent system, more so than peer offices (the famous top 5), is a coercive system of domination and control, not science.”Compare that to the EPO‘s pendency figures, which were discussed here in relation to the EPO’s bogus 'results' that not even examiners and patent lawyers seem to believe.

The US patent system, more so than peer offices (the famous top 5), is a coercive system of domination and control, not science. It has been trying to expand software patents to other countries, for instance. This new article titled “Who the U.S. industrial lobbies pressure on intellectual property” speaks of something we covered here in the context of Wikileaks’ Cablegate, showing how USTR was bullying all sorts of countries into acceptance of US law and so-called ‘property’ (non-physical). “Each year,” says this article, “the United States Trade Representative issues ​the Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property (IP). This ​report, an essential tool in the US trade policy regarding intellectual property, puts pressure on countries that are deemed “not compliant” with the global regime of patents and copyright.”

“Nearly a decade ago we showed how the BSA was lobbying for software patents in Europe.”This is more or less what we wrote here repeatedly half a decade ago. Noting the role of front groups that Microsoft and IBM are part of (Business Software Alliance was actually dumped by IBM): “It is largely influenced by five industrial lobby groups — Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), ​Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), Business Software Alliance​ (​BSA), International Intellectual Property Alliance​ (​IIPA), and the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global IP Center (USCC)​ —, who submit comments to USTR, listing the countries they want to be scrutinized.”

The BSA represents not only Microsoft (key member) but also some proprietary software firms from the US. Nearly a decade ago we showed how the BSA was lobbying for software patents in Europe.

“Patents for those who hoard all the money and decide how to divide it help remind us that this is not an SMEs’ system, that’s for sure.”Patents are not for small companies but for large companies to perpetually dominate without challenge. That’s not what patents were about when they were first introduced, but things certainly changed. Mass patenting by banks was reported a couple of days ago, nothing: “The articles note that big US banks are applying for more patents than ever before and, in particular, Bloomberg states that banks and payments companies were awarded 36% more granted US patents in the last three-year period than in the prior three-year period. However, statistics quoted by Envision IP indicate that the number of finance and payments patents being granted, both to financial services companies and technology companies, peaked in 2013 and have since declined somewhat.”

Patents for those who hoard all the money and decide how to divide it help remind us that this is not an SMEs’ system, that’s for sure. “US banks are applying for more patents than ever before,” one person quoted the article as saying (he is somewhat of a patents sceptic and definitely an EPO sceptic, his name is Francisco Moreno).

“The US patent system undoubtedly attracts a large parasitic element and unless this is stopped it will severely harm its economy.”According to patent maximalists (IAM), things keep getting worse in the US. Companies that actually produce things face threats from patent trolls (IAM refers to these as NPEs, as usual) and Creative Technology, which was somewhat of a thing back in the 90s, is becoming a patent troll in the Eastern District of Texas, just before its patents expire. The public should ask, who benefits? A company that no longer really produces anything of much value? I loved Sound Blaster audio processing cards, but this latest wave of lawsuits is just parasitic and unnecessary. The US patent system undoubtedly attracts a large parasitic element and unless this is stopped it will severely harm its economy.

European Patent Office and Human Rights Violations: Article Translation Into English Reveals Upcoming Lawsuit Against the EPO Over Institutional Harassment

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

European Patent Office and Human Rights Violations

Summary: Liesbeth Zegveld, a lawyer who represents dismissed union leaders and also a suspended judge, declares intent to launch legal action against the European Patent Office

THE EPO‘s management has received a lot of negative publicity, which is very much deserved.

This one 4-page article [PDF] about the EPO (“EOB: Bastion van tirannie en angst” from Praktijkblad Ondernemingsraad) was published a few days ago. A person from the Netherlands, Marco, kindly translated this for us (several people offered help, but Marco was first). “I applaud your endeavor,” he wrote. “Feel free to use my small contribution as you see fit.”

Having read it fully and highlighted in yellow bits that are new to most readers, we now present the full thing as text. Marco asked us to “note that this was published some months ago, and the article also mentions a future meeting which has since then occurred.”

Institutional bullying and institutional harassment are going to cause turmoil. There is legal action from SUEPO apparently; that’s the first time we really learn about such plans. Details below.

Human rights violations by the European Patent Office

‘Bastion of fear and tyranny’

Employee participation is a mockery, critical trade unionists are made redundant, multiple suicides.
The atmosphere at the European Patent Office has been severely poisoned.
The director considers himself above human rights.

‘Employees of the European Patent Office work in a bastion of fear and tyranny,’ says an anonymous source of the staff representation (PVT) of the Rijswijk establishment (2,700 employees) of the European Patent Office (EPO).
The organisation, also with offices in Berlin, Munich and Vienna, is responsible for protecting the rights of inventors in the European Union.
Our source would rather have his name not mentioned. ‘Because,’ he stresses, ‘talking to the outside world about internal affairs could cost you your job. CEO Benoît Battistelli expects absolute loyalty.’

‘Whether we have a say? Do not make me laugh. The staff representation is only consulted to say yes or no to a document. The management board doesn’t appreciate informed opinions or alternative proposals of the PVT.’
‘The management also decides whether we can meet with our members. For that, we need to apply three days in advance and hand in a list of topics.’
‘Moreover, sending an e-mail to all employees is forbidden. When sending to more than fifty email addresses the system automatically blocks the message.’
‘Outspoken employees are not appreciated and people are not treated as human beings. An all-time low was when a colleague jumped from the seventh floor in Rijswijk during 2013.’

That is not the only suicide, another member of the Rijswijk branch ended his life on the last day of his vacation. Moreover, the trade union Suepo alarmed the EPO mid-2015 regarding the suicides of three employees of the head office in Munich.
That makes a total of five cases of suicide in three years, according to the union because of poisonous working conditions.

Sun King

[Due to the legal immunity of EPO, Battistelli can behave like a "Sun King with an own court ']

As an intergovernmental organisation, formed by 38 supervisional member states, the EPO enjoys legal immunity. Because of this legal immunity, it can largely ignore national legislation and EU laws in countries where EPO offices are located.
Precisely therein lies, according to the prevailing view among employees, largely the cause of the “reign of terror” of the French CEO Battistelli: ‘He can simply continue his behavior as “Sun King with an own court”.’

In 2015, the court in The Hague ruled that the EPO violates human rights in a case that lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld, specialized in human rights, filed on behalf of Suepo. The court ruled that the hindrance of the union in its work outweighs its legal immunity.

‘That the EPO has appealed against that judgment,’ Zegveld says, ‘illustrates once more the arrogance of the organization.’
‘It considers itself above the law and proceeds to abusing its legal immunity. I have not previously had a case with such an aggressive opponent.’

Since the Hague judgment, Zegveld observes a tougher stance from Battistelli against directors of Suepo, who are often also active as EPO employees. Two of them have been told to resign. Amongst them the Dutch president of the union Elizabeth Hardon, whose pension has been cut by 20 percent, and the treasurer of the association.
Hardon has now found herself to be the subject of an internal investigation, which is blatantly against the rules of the EPO. Five other active union members, of whom three in Rijswijk, have been suspended pending an upcoming investigation. One of them has also been put back eight steps in salary.

Witch Hunt

Zegveld: ‘This is a witch hunt to silence the union and critical employees. They are addressed on dubious trivialities likely not serious enough to have someone dismissed or his pension reduced.’
Battistelli defended himself in the Financieele Dagblad in which he stated that there is an ‘orchestrated campaign’ to destabilize the organization.
‘That purely trade union and staff representatives are investigated is “pure coincidence”.’

Apart from the dismissal of trade union officials Zegveld is preparing a lawsuit against the EPO for harassment.
‘As a union official and employee of the EPO, according to Battistelli’s guidelines, you cannot tell your own members that they are being investigated. While it is the task of the union to be a critical voice and to inform members.’

‘If there is an investigation against you,’ agrees our anonymous source at the PVT, ‘you may not inform a colleague. So you limit yourself to: “I was away and I may not tell you why”. Then your colleague knows enough. That, while the director has the right to disclose to the media that there are running investigations against trade unionists.’

Subjects investigated by the commission of disciplinary investigation have a right to assistance by a member of the PVT.
‘During the hearing, employees are often confronted with acts they had nothing to do with. Their guilt is already a foregone conclusion. “Stasi Practices,” according to colleagues from Eastern Europe working at the EPO.’

Increased Workload

‘The staff of the EPO,’ continues the anonymous trade union member, ‘are highly educated people who are frustrated that they get not to decide the working conditions.’
‘The top of the EPO wants to promote more competition between employees. They have implemented a new remuneration system. Your supervisor now determines what salary increase you will get; he can also unilaterally change employment conditions.’
‘Meanwhile your supervisor will often overload you with mountains of work. The workload in some units has increased by 30 percent. Of course, now many go into early retirement, or call in sick. Those who call in sick, and take a walk or ride a the bike are in violation and risk disciplinary action.’
‘The human resource department, which supposedly should ensure reintegration, is itself understaffed and overworked. Preventive measures against absenteeism are modest compared with repressive sanctions imposed.’
‘Working conditions are a hard topic to address. The PVT tries to, but the standard response is often that such a topic should be discussed “in a different context,” at the central level. Then you never hear anything about it anymore.’

A proposal by the PVT for a staff risk assessment was buried by the EPO. The Dutch labour inspectorate is not allowed to enter the building because of the legal immunity of the EPO.
‘The PVT also called for an investigation into a connection between the working environment and suicides. But the management has never responded to that.’
Battistelli replied in an interview with the NRC Handelsblad, and describes the suicides as “personal tragedies without evidence of a relationship with the agency.”
The labour inspectorate says it knows of the complaints via the media and other sources. ‘But we lack the powers to act,’ according to a spokesman.
‘We may not enter the EPO like we may not enter an embassy. We give no judgment on possible wrongdoing. After all, we cannot investigate.’
Indeed, no investigation of how an employee on Dutch territory chose to to jump out of a deadly trap from the seventh floor during working hours.


However, the patent examiners may organize demonstrations on Dutch territory. And at the end of January in Rijswijk, they massively chose to do so in protest against the dismissal of two colleagues because of their union activities and to restore a third employee to his former position.
Member of Parliament John Kerstens walked amongst the demonstrators and filed a motion in which he asked the cabinet “to ensure normal working conditions and respect for human rights of workers.” State Secretary Martijn van Dam then announced an “independent research” on the working conditions at the EPO.

‘The government has remarkably long stayed aloof regarding the patent office,’ notes Liesbeth Zegveld. ‘But it is responsible that on its territory human rights are respected. The Dutch state can, if no action is taken, expect an indictment by Suepo.’
‘On the other hand, I also noticed that the cabinet is growing impatient with the continuing full scale human rights violations by the EPO, such as the right to collective bargaining, right to assembly, and the right to freedom of expression.’
‘Of course, this apart from the fact that individual rights such as work and pensions are harmed and workers are apparently driven to suicide.’

The Dane Chairman Jesper Kongstad of the Administrative Council of the patent organization has asked the 38 participating countries to have the disciplinary actions by the EPO investigated by an independent commission.
Battistelli rejected the proposal immediately. However, it seems unlikely that the EPO countries will vote against the proposal by Kongstad during its mid-March meeting. In which case, it seems that the days of Battistelli are numbered.

The staff representation meanwhile remains active, awaiting better times.
‘The whole situation should normalize naturally, as in every democratic country. The PVT could, of course, shut itself down due to current lack of participation. But then it immediately completely loses the communication with, and the feedback of, the supporters.
‘Now the PVT can still collect files and help out employees. The PVT may also discretely publish on the intranet; if you click five, six times you will find their pages.’
‘Many things that the PVT does are also tasks of the human resource department. But they see the staff and their representatives as the enemy. No doubt since the head of the department is an appointed personal friend of Battistelli.’

The burden of work is a subject addressed in the following bit of text, sent to us not too long ago:

Patent Administration under pressure

Examiners are not the only ones whom the Office thinks it can mostly replace by computers: the same applies – for a long time already – to formalities officers. While the number of applications keeps going up, the number of formalities officers (but not the number of managers) keeps going down. The promised IT support is not making up for the difference. On the contrary: the continuous changes in the procedures and in the programs are making things worse for staff. And with the introduction of the “hubs” staff in Patent Administration are now left to themselves to sort out how to distribute too much work among too few people. The resulting stress is not good for staff health. To counter the effect, in Patent Administration a high “presence at work” remains a prerequisite for a bonus. There is another problem coming up. The recruitment stop for Patent Administration has predictably led to aging of the existing population, more so since in the initial phase the Office also let go of younger recruits who had been hired on contract. With the atmosphere in the Office deteriorating older colleagues who can afford to do so retire. The work in Patent Administration is complex and very diverse. Whereas novelty, inventive step and sufficiency of disclosure remain the same throughout search, examination and opposition, the administrative procedures are very different. The same applies for PCT, versus EP and soon the unitary patent. No single formalities officer can know it all: the total knowledge is spread over a considerable number of people. If the Office doesn’t start recruiting and training new formalities officers soon the current brain-drain may result in knowledge being lost.

This serves to reaffirm if not confirm what we already heard from other sources. Basically, the ongoing brain drain [1, 2, 3, 4] and inability to recruit replacements quickly enough (especially with the damaged reputation of the EPO) leaves people in Patent Administration overworked. Some people have approached us privately to highlight serious administrative issues from the customer’s side. People are far from happy (to say the least!) with the service and if only Battistelli treated his staff with respect and dignity, all this mess would not be the new reality at the Office. Battistelli has truly destroyed the EPO by making the atmosphere poisonous.

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