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04.21.16

Links 21/4/2016: KDE Applications 16.04, New *buntu LTS Releases

Posted in News Roundup at 7:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • How British Gas Connected Home is moving beyond Hive and managing an “explosion” of IoT data using an open-source Apache stack

    Connected Home, the IoT offshoot of British Gas, knew it wanted an open source solution for its vastly growing pool of data and connected devices, now its looking at how to leverage this technology for its customers

    For anyone that watches television or listens to the radio in the UK, Hive is the connected thermostat device British Gas advertises with a catchy jingle which: “Controls your heating, from your phone.”

    What they won’t be aware of is the explosion of data a connected device like Hive drives back to its parent company, Connected Home, a business unit launched by British Gas in 2012 to operate along lean, start-up principles.

  • Small Business Project Management Software: A Look at ProjectLibre

    Change happens in every business. Whether it’s a move to a new office, a new product launch, or a total restructuring, careful planning is essential to execute changes smoothly. But why use project management software?

    While it’s possible to manage a small project with an Excel worksheet, small business project management software is a smarter choice. It helps you identify all the required tasks, allocate those tasks to the right people, and make sure your people complete those tasks on time.

  • Modeling Avengers: Open Source Technology Mix for Saving the World

    Cedric Brun is the CTO of Obeo, leads the EcoreTools and Amalgamation components, maintains the Modeling Package, and is a committer on Sirius, Acceleo, Mylyn. Benoit Combemale is an associate professor at the University of Rennes, and is a research computer scientist at IRISA and INRIA. He is co-author of two books, and a member of the ACM and the IEEE.

  • Open Source Blockchain Effort for the Enterprise

    The Hyperledger Project today is also announcing ten new companies are joining the effort and investing in the future of an open blockchain ledger: Blockstream, Bloq, eVue Digital Labs, Gem, itBit, Milligan Partners, Montran Labs, Ribbit.me, Tequa Creek Holdings and Thomson Reuters.

  • Events

    • First Brno Linux Desktop Meetup

      The desktop engineering team in the Red Hat office in Brno is quite large, we’ve got over 20 developers working on various desktop projects here, but there is no active community outside Red Hat. We’re also approached by students who are interested and would like to get started, but don’t know where and we’d like to have an event to which we can invite them, talk to them about it more in detail, and help them with things beginners struggle with.

    • ZeMarmot and GIMP at GNOME.Asia!

      While Libre Graphics Meeting 2016 barely ended, we had to say Goodbye to London. But this is not over for us since we are leaving directly to India for GNOME.Asia Summit 2016. We will be presenting both ZeMarmot, our animation film project made with Free Software, under Libre Art licenses, and the software GIMP (in particular the work in progress, not current releases), as part of the team. See the » schedule « for accurate dates and times.

    • Want more inclusivity at your conference? Add childcare.

      Providing conference childcare isn’t difficult or expensive, and it makes a huge difference for parents of young children who might want to come. If your community wants to (visibly!) support work-life balance and family obligations — which, by the way, still disproportionately impact women — I urge you to look into providing event childcare. I don’t have kids myself — but a lot of my friends do, and someday I might. I’ve seen too many talented colleagues silently drop out of the conference scene and fade out of the community because they needed to choose between logistics for the family they loved and logistics for the work they loved — and there are simple things we can do to make it easier for them to stay.

    • Roaming Teach-in for Digital Freedom (Washington, DC)
    • #LGM16

      Today I want to tell you about a conference that I really wanted to go to for 2 reasons: 1 – it was about open source graphics, 2 – it was in London =) You probably guessed it – it’s Libre Graphics Meeting.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Healthcare

    • Slovenia modelling new eHealth services

      To build the data model, the researchers used OpenEHR – publicly developed specifications for health information systems and building clinical models. The tool is user-friendly for both medical experts and IT specialists, says Rant. “OpenEHR helps both groups to understand one another, improving collaboration.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • Finland organises hackathon on government budget

      “We want to inspire a broad range of experts, including economists, social scientists, behavioural scientists, designers, and of course software developers”, the ministry explains in its introduction. “We believe that the budget needs to be looked at in many different ways, and that combining different kinds of knowledge and experience, produce the best results.”

    • Study: Cross-border eGov services low on agenda

      Cross-border eGovernment services score low on national policy agendas, according to a study on cross-border cooperation between the Nordic countries. Well-organised, national eID infrastructures are not interconnected, the report says.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Ukrainian Parliament to become more open

      Launched in 2012, the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness is a set of shared principles “on the openness, transparency and accessibility of parliaments supported by more than 140 organizations from over 75 countries”, said OpeningParliament.org, the project’s platform. OpeningParliament.org defines itself as “a call to national parliaments, and sub-national and transnational legislative bodies, by civil society parliamentary monitoring organizations (PMOs) for an increased commitment to openness and to citizen engagement in parliamentary work”.

    • Open Data

      • A Cycling Map

        For a couple of years now, I have been mapping the rural roads around here in OpenStreetMap. This has been an interesting process.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

  • Programming/Development

    • All Star Code Summer Intensive FAQ

      The All Star Code initiative prepares qualified young men of color for jobs in the tech industry by providing mentorship, industry exposure, and intensive training in computer science. This year’s All Star Code Summer Intensive program runs from July 11 to August 19. Here, All Star Code answers our questions about the program and tells us how to get involved.

    • Q&A: Gene Kim explains the joy of devops

      Devops is one of those volatile topics that mixes human behavior patterns with technology, often yielding dramatic increases in productive output — that is, more high-quality software at a much faster pace. It’s a fascinating area. But is devops fascinating enough for a novel?

    • Decoding DevOps, Docker, and Git

      Even as accepted standards on how to do it “right” remain elusive, DevOps is a crucial element of modern IT. Corey Quinn, director of DevOps at FutureAdvisor, has immense experience in operations and DevOps. I had an opportunity to talk to him ahead of his two talks at LinuxFest Northwest 2016: Terrible ideas in Git and Docker must die: Heresy in the church of Docker.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • The Strange Case of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and the McCanns

    This again is absolutely not the norm. On a daily basis more British citizens have contact with foreign authorities than the total staff of the FCO. It would be simply impossible to give that level of support to everybody. Plus, against jingoistic presumption, a great many Brits who have contact with foreign police are actually criminals.

  • ‘Accuracy is for snake-oil pussies’: Vote Leave’s campaign director defies MPs

    “Can you go back to your seat please?” asked Andrew Tyrie, chair of the Treasury select committee as Dominic Cummings hovered menacingly over his shoulder.

    Cummings, Vote Leave’s campaign director, had no intention of going anywhere. Going back to his seat would be a victory for the cesspit of Brussels. Instead he stood over Tyrie, pointing at his phone.

    “I’ve got another meeting at four, so I’ll have to be out of here before that,” Cummings insisted, sticking it to the Man.

    “I don’t think you’ve got the hang of these proceedings,” Tyrie replied evenly. “We ask the questions and you stay and answer them.”

  • Science

    • Machine Learning and AI Coming Soon to Networking

      Machine learning and artificial intelligence have gained notoriety among the general public through applications such as Siri, Alexa or Google Now. But, beyond consumer applications, these new hot areas of innovation are bringing unbelievable benefits to the different components of IT infrastructure that enable it, said

      David Meyer, Chairman of the Board at OpenDaylight, a Collaborative Project at The Linux Foundation, in his presentation at the DevOps Networking Forum last month.

    • SpaceX Falcon booster comes full circle to Cape Canaveral after landing at sea

      Eleven days after a thrilling landing at sea, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket booster is coming back to the company’s space-age garage in Florida, in preparation for engine tests and potentially the first-ever reuse of its rocket hardware.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • 12 reasons why tea is better than coffee
    • Criminal Charges Filed in the Poisoning of Flint’s Water Supply

      Three Michigan state and local officials have been criminally charged for their involvement in the Flint water contamination crisis. The water crisis began when Flint’s unelected emergency manager, appointed by Governor Rick Snyder, switched the source of the city’s drinking water from the Detroit system to the corrosive Flint River. The water corroded Flint’s aging pipes, causing poisonous levels of lead to leach into the drinking water.

    • Antibiotics Have Given Us Untreatable Gonorrhea

      Gonorrhea is like an extremely persistent garden weed. As far as sexually transmitted diseases go, it’s relatively easy to get and requires a multipronged offensive to annihilate. And even if you’ve thwarted it once already, you’re still left vulnerable to reinfection.

      So far, doctors have been pretty damn good at treating the disease, which is partially why England’s public health agency has just sounded the alarm over a rise in “super-gonorrhea” among Brits.

    • Prescription meds get trapped in disturbing pee-to-food-to-pee loop

      If you love something, set it free… so the old adage goes. Well, if the things you love are pharmaceuticals, then you’re in luck. Through vegetables and fruits, the drugs that we flush down the drain are returning to us—though we’ll ultimately pee them out again. (Love is complicated, after all)

  • Security

    • Tuesday’s security updates
    • Security advisories for Wednesday
    • Red Hat Product Security Risk Report: 2015

      This report takes a look at the state of security risk for Red Hat products for calendar year 2015. We look at key metrics, specific vulnerabilities, and the most common ways users of Red Hat products were affected by security issues.

      Our methodology is to look at how many vulnerabilities we addressed and their severity, then look at which issues were of meaningful risk, and which were exploited. All of the data used to create this report is available from public data maintained by Red Hat Product Security.

    • April security sensationalism and FUD

      If you happen to follow the security scene, you must have noticed a lot of buzz around various security issues discovered this month. Namely, a critical vulnerability in the Microsoft Graphics Component, as outlined in the MS16-039 bulletin, stories and rumors around something called Badlock bug, and risks associated using Firefox add-ons. All well and good, except it’s nothing more than clickbait hype nonsense.

      Reading the articles fueled my anger to such heights that I had to wait a day or two before writing this piece. Otherwise, it would have just been venom and expletives. But it is important to express myself and protect the Internet users from the torrent of pointless, amateurish, sensationalist wanna-be hackerish security diarrhea that has been produced this month. Follow me.

    • DRAM bitflipping exploits that hijack computers just got easier
    • PacketFence v6.0 released

      The Inverse team is pleased to announce the immediate availability of PacketFence 6.0. This is a major release with new features, enhancements and important bug fixes. This release is considered ready for production use and upgrading from previous versions is strongly advised.

    • [Old] The Athens Affair

      How some extremely smart hackers pulled off the most audacious cell-network break-in ever

    • Write opinionated workarounds

      A few years ago, I decided that I should aim for my code to be as portable as possible. This generally meant targeting POSIX; in some cases I required slightly more, e.g., “POSIX with OpenSSL installed and cryptographic entropy available from /dev/urandom”. This dedication made me rather unusual among software developers; grepping the source code for the software I have installed on my laptop, I cannot find any other examples of code with strictly POSIX compliant Makefiles, for example. (I did find one other Makefile which claimed to be POSIX-compatible; but in actual fact it used a GNU extension.) As far as I was concerned, strict POSIX compliance meant never having to say you’re sorry for portability problems; if someone ran into problems with my standard-compliant code, well, they could fix their broken operating system.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Media Pretend Not To Know About British Boots on the Ground in Libya

      Yesterday Philip Hammond, UK foreign secretary, visited a naval base in Tripoli to be shown docking facilities for British military vessels. The authoritative Jane’s Defence Weekly published that the 150 strong amphibious Special Purpose Task Group of commandos and special forces is in the Mediterranean on the amphibious warfare vessel Mounts Bay. Obviously purely a coincidence with Hammond’s visit!

      Just as in Syria and in Yemen it will not be admitted that British forces are in combat. In classic Cold War fashion, they are “military advisers and trainers.” There is a specific development which disconcerts me in Yemen, where the SAS operatives supporting the devastating Saudi bombings of the Houthi population have been seconded to MI6. There is a convention that military operations are reported to Parliament and MI6 operations are not, so the sole purpose of screening the SAS as MI6 is to deceive the UK’s own parliament.

    • China tests ICBM capable of striking US within half an hour

      Beijing has successfully tested a new long-range ballistic missile capable of engaging any potential target worldwide. The rocket takes just 30 minutes to cover its maximum 12,000km range and can deliver multiple strikes on any nuclear-capable state.

    • Letter from the Netherlands

      (2) The Neths. has ordered 37 fighter jets F35s with hook ups for 20 odd upgraded nukes to be stored on Dutch soil. In case of war Dutch pilots are to drop these on targets to be determined by the US. Belgium, Germany and Italy have the same arrangement.

    • War, Football, and Realism: If Any

      From the footballer’s point of view, the United States won in Iraq. It killed huge numbers of people while losing few, destroyed whole cities, and never lost a battle. Yet it got none of the things it wanted: a puppet government, permanent large military bases, and the oil. A dead loss. If anybody won, they were Israel and Iran. In Afghanistan, America as usual devastated the country and killed hugely and with impunity, thus winning the football game – but accomplished nothing.

    • Obama knows 9/11 was linked to Saudi Arabia – its massive oil reserves are behind his official visit
    • Saudi diplomats linked to 9/11 plot
    • Why the U.S. and Saudi Arabia Are Suddenly Involved in a Tense Geopolitical Drama

      There’s a reason we’re suddenly talking about 9/11 all over again.

    • US Protects Saudis From Terror Suits, Backs Suits Against Iran

      Intense debate and international diplomatic blackmail has dominated the discussion of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, a bipartisan bill which would open up civil lawsuits against any foreign nations if they are found to be involved in the funding of a terrorist attack occurring on US soil.

    • President Obama Can Help Save Saudi Youth Facing Beheading

      These young men were sentenced to death for activities that, in the United States, are guaranteed by the First Amendment of our Constitution. The fact that they were sentenced to death for actions committed as juveniles is all the more shocking.

    • How The New Yorker Mis-Reports Syria

      Only 6 percent of Americans surveyed in a new national poll say they have a lot of confidence in the media — a result driven by a widespread perception that news stories are one-sided or downright inaccurate. That finding came to mind as I heard New Yorker editor David Remnick introduce an April 17 segment on Syria on the New Yorker Radio Hour.

    • I Fought The Taliban And They Came After Me And My Family

      So there’s this guy in Afghanistan who learned English from watching old Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. When the Americans invaded after 9/11, he offered to help them by acting as an interpreter … then wound up fighting alongside Army Rangers and saving at least five American lives in the process. The moment he felt like he was finally out of danger, the Taliban came after him and his family, forcing him to flee the country.

      [...]

      That means that many of the people shooting at American soldiers somewhere in Afghanistan, right now, don’t really know why Americans with guns are there in the first place. This is something you have to understand about the place if you’re wondering why we couldn’t find bin Laden the moment we landed: Afghanistan isn’t really a nation at all — it’s a sprawling hunk of land about the size of Texas, full of mountains, nomadic tribes, and villages. Most of the people there identify with their own little group and don’t give much of a shit about international politics.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • RCEP: The Other Closed-Door Agreement to Compromise Users’ Rights

      A secretive trade agreement currently being negotiated behind closed doors could lay down new, inflexible copyright standards across the Asia-Pacific region. If you are thinking of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), think again—we’re talking about the lesser-known Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). While RCEP doesn’t include the United States, it does include the two biggest Asian giants that the TPP omits—China and India. So while you won’t read about it in the mainstream U.S. press, it’s a very big deal indeed, and will assume even more importance should the TPP fail to pass Congress.

    • Noam Chomsky defends Julian Assange: “He should be given a medal”

      Assange and others established WikiLeaks in 2006. Since the release of the Chelsea Manning material, U.S. authorities began a long-term investigation of WikiLeaks and Assange, aiming to prosecute them under the Espionage Act of 1917.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • NOAA: Monthly Temperature Reports Are ‘Sounding Like A Broken Record’

      Last month was the hottest March on record by far, NOAA confirmed Tuesday. March was 2.2°F above the 20th century average. This anomaly (departure from “normal”) was “the highest monthly temperature departure among all months” in the 1880-2016 record.

      It follows the hottest February on record in the NOAA dataset, which followed the hottest January on record, hottest December on record, hottest November, hottest October, hottest September, hottest August, hottest July, hottest June, and hottest May. This 11-month streak “is the longest such streak in NOAA’s 137-year climate record.”

    • Nuclear costs in uncharted territory

      If you want a job for life, go into the nuclear industry – not building power plants, but taking them down and making them safe, along with highly-radioactive spent fuel and other hazardous waste involved.

      The market for decommissioning nuclear sites is unbelievably large. Sixteen nations in Europe alone face a €253 billion waste bill, and the continent has only just begun to tackle the problem.

    • DCI Group Subpoenaed in Expanding Exxon Climate Denial Investigation

      DCI Group, a Washington DC public relations and lobbying firm, is the latest group subpoenaed in an expanding investigation by state attorneys general into the funding of climate change denial by ExxonMobil, according to court filings reviewed by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).

      ExxonMobil has now received separate subpoenas from both the New York and U.S. Virgin Islands U.S. Attorneys’ Offices. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and DCI Group have also been subpoenaed by the U.S. Virgin Islands for records relating to their role in helping ExxonMobil with climate change denial.

      Seventeen state attorneys general—calling themselves “AGs United for Clean Power”—held a press conference on March 29, announcing increased collaboration between the states in investigating the opposition to tackling climate change.

    • Coral are bleaching along the entire Great Barrier Reef

      Coral reefs are about as colorful as the ocean gets—except when they bleach. Overly warm water can cause corals to spit out the colorful, photosynthetic, single-celled symbiotes that live inside them and produce most of their food. If the heat passes before the corals starve to death, their symbiotes can return, bringing color and health back to the coral.

      As the globe warms, widespread bleaching events are occurring with disturbing frequency. These tend to occur during times of El Niño conditions in the Pacific, which add a temporary boost to the warming water at some reefs. The current record-strength El Niño is sadly no exception.

    • Great Barrier Reef damage: ‘We’ve never seen anything like this before’

      Scientists in Australia have revealed the “tragic” extent of coral bleaching across the Great Barrier Reef, releasing maps which show damage to 93 per cent of the famous 1,500-mile stretch of reefs following a recent underwater heatwave.

      Warning that the reef is now in a “precarious position”, scientists released aerial survey maps which show that the mass bleaching event is the worst in history and far more severe than previous such events in 1998 and 2002.

    • New Indonesia mill raises doubts about APP’s forests pledge

      A landmark commitment by one of the world’s largest producers of tissue and paper to stop cutting down Indonesia’s prized tropical forests is under renewed scrutiny as the company prepares to open a giant pulp mill in South Sumatra.

      To fanfare more than three years ago, Asia Pulp and Paper promised to use only plantation woods after an investigation by one of its strongest critics, Greenpeace, showed its products were partly made from the pulp of endangered trees.

      Greenpeace welcomed the announcement as a breakthrough and the company, long reviled by activists as a villain, rebranded itself as a defender of the environment, helping it to win back customers that had severed ties. At the same time, it was pressing ahead behind the scenes with plans to build a third pulp mill in Indonesia.

    • Will Asia Pulp & Paper default on its “zero deforestation” commitment?

      This study by twelve international and Indonesian NGOs shows that in spite of its high-profile sustainability commitments, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) is building one of the world’s largest pulp mills in the Indonesian province of South Sumatra without a sustainable wood supply. The US$2.6 billion OKI Pulp & Paper Mills project will expand APP’s wood demand by over 50%, with much of this coming from plantations on high-carbon peatlands.

  • Finance

    • Choice? What Choice?

      It is an old photo but worth recalling. Those expressions of delight of both couples in the company of their fellow members of the ruling elite are not feigned.

    • Bill That Obama Extolled Is Leading to Pension Cuts for Retirees

      One of the many obscure provisions jammed into a last-minute budget bill in 2014 endorsed and signed by President Obama is leading to what would be the first cuts in earned pension benefits to current retirees in over 40 years.

      The Washington Post reports that the Treasury Department is on the verge of approving an application from the Central States Pension Fund – a plan that covers Teamster truckers in several states – to cut worker pensions by an average of 23 percent, and even more for younger retirees. Over 250,000 truckers and their families would be affected. Workers over 75, or those who have acquired a disability, would be exempt from the changes.

    • PMQs: Cameron vows to ‘finish the job’ on academies

      David Cameron has defended controversial plans to force all state schools in England to become academies, saying it is time to “finish the job”.

      During Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn cited opposition to the “top down reorganisation” from teachers, parents and some Tory MPs.

      He said good schools should not be distracted by “arbitrary changes”.

      Sources said the government was likely to guarantee no small rural schools would close as a result of the shakeup.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • When ‘Both Sides’ Are Covered in Verizon Strike, Bosses’ Side Is Heard More

      In three New York Times stories, management was quoted eight times to workers’ four. In the Washington Post‘s two reports, the ratio was 6:2 in management’s favor. Buzzfeed‘s three articles favored the company 13 to 7, while Vox‘s lone post had four quotes from management and none from labor. In all four outlets together, there were 31 quotes from Verizon representatives, 13 quotes from workers and their representatives.

    • Donald Trump Is Right: The GOP Primary System Is Rigged

      I hate to agree with Donald Trump about anything, but he’s got a point: the Republican primary process is really unfair. Just look at New York: Kasich and Cruz won 40 percent of the vote but only 4 percent of the delegates. It’s an outrage.

    • Hillary and Trump’s Crushing New York Victories Proved One Thing: The System Is in Shreds

      New York’s primary process was exactly as high-profile, nasty and chaotic as you’d expect it to be, but in the end, it only highlighted that this election is just going to go on and on and on and on. Oh, and one more thing: that the way we elect presidential candidates is crazy.

      Seriously, why do we do things this way? In New York City, a slew of snafus and irregularities triggered a probe from the local Board of Elections, which is notorious for its incompetence. (You have to hand it to a city that can turn its police force into a monstrous high-tech army but can’t handle an election.) Millions of people across the state suddenly discovered that they were barred from voting because they weren’t registered Democrats. You can blame Sanders for not making more of a push to get his supporters to get their act in order, but New York has a ridiculously early deadline for changing your party registration. The burden should be on the state to make it easier to vote and not force people to have the equivalent of a key to a special club just to exercise a fundamental right. Of course, this is New York, the place that gave us Boss Tweed, so we shouldn’t be too shocked.

    • What Is Wrong With New York’s Voting System and How Can It Be Fixed? (Video)

      On “Democracy Now!” on Wednesday, voting rights advocates tallied the reforms New York state must implement to restore confidence in democracy after more than 125,000 Brooklyn residents were among many voters unable to cast ballots in the presidential primary on Tuesday because they’d been removed from voter rolls.

      New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said before the polls closed: “It has been reported to us from voters and voting rights monitors that the voting lists in Brooklyn contain numerous errors, including the purging of entire buildings and blocks of voters from the voting lists.”

      On Monday, Truthdig reported that hundreds of New Yorkers filed a class-action lawsuit alleging authorities had tampered with their registration.

    • Five States Have Primaries Next Week. Will They Face The Same Problems New York Did?

      Tuesday’s presidential primary in New York served as a stark reminder that voting irregularities and restrictions are not a thing of the past and not confined to the South.

      As residents purged from the rolls in Brooklyn keep struggling to have their votes counted, the nation’s attention is turning to the states scheduled to vote on Tuesday: Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Delaware.

    • Dr. Jill Stein – Symptoms of a Sick Society
    • Bowing to America’s Oligarchs

      Apparently, other countries, but not the U.S., have oligarchs. Billionaire and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker came and went to the National Press Club with hardly a tough question on Monday.

    • The Democratic Stockholm Syndrome

      New Yorkers voted overwhelmingly for those holding their progress captive

    • The ICA and ODA: The IPA’s sham anti-truckie astroturfing operation

      IN my article last week on the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT), I wrote that I doubted that the people most actively opposed to these measures were owner drivers, but rather big business, which primarily benefits from lower freight costs.

    • The Primary Season That Won’t End

      An ongoing series that won’t be over any time soon.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Metadating helps you find love based on your everyday data

      This twist on speed-dating was part of an experiment run by a team at Newcastle University in the UK. They wanted to know what would happen in a world where instead of vetting potential dates by their artfully posed selfies or carefully crafted dating-site profiles, we looked at data gathered by their computers and phones. As use of data-gathering devices increases, it’s a world that’s just round the corner. The team calls it “metadating”.

    • Helen Nissenbaum on Regulating Data Collection and Use

      NYU Helen Nissenbaum gave an excellent lecture at Brown University last month, where she rebutted those who think that we should not regulate data collection, only data use: something she calls “big data exceptionalism.” Basically, this is the idea that collecting the “haystack” isn’t the problem; it what is done with it that is. (I discuss this same topic in Data and Goliath, on pages 197-9.)

    • Apple, Google, Microsoft, and others express ‘deep concerns’ over controversial encryption bill

      Coalitions representing major tech companies warn of ‘unintended consequences’ in letter to US senators

    • Keep the Pressure On: Brazilian Online Surveillance Bills Threaten Digital Rights and Innovation

      The Brazilian Chamber of Deputies is about to vote on seven bills that were introduced as part of a report by the Brazilian Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry on Cybercrimes (CPICIBER). Collectively, these bills would be disastrous for privacy and freedom of expression in Brazil. That’s why EFF is joining a coalition of Brazilian civil society groups in opposing the bills. As the vote takes place on April 27, it’s crucial that we voice our concerns to CPICIBER members now.

    • Last July, NSA and CIA Decided They Didn’t Have to Follow Minimization Procedures, and Judge Hogan Is Cool with That

      Yesterday, I Con the Record released three FISA Court opinions from last year. This November 6, 2015 opinion, authorizing last year’s Section 702 certifications, has attracted the most attention, both for its list of violations (including the NSA’s 3rd known instance of illegal surveillance) and for the court’s rejection of amicus Amy Jeffress’ argument that FBI’s back door searches are not constitutional. I’ll return to both issues.

    • Documents Reveal Secretive U.K. Surveillance Policies

      Newly disclosed documents offer a rare insight into the secretive legal regime underpinning the British government’s controversial mass surveillance programs.

      London-based group Privacy International obtained the previously confidential files as part of an ongoing legal case challenging the scope of British spies’ covert collection of huge troves of private data.

      Millie Graham Wood, Legal Officer at Privacy International, said in a statement Wednesday that the documents show “the staggering extent to which the intelligence agencies hoover up our data. This can be anything from your private medical records, your correspondence with your doctor or lawyer, even what petitions you have signed, your financial data, and commercial activities.”

    • Data privacy proponents are counting on the public’s right to know

      In the latest front in the great data privacy war, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the Justice Department on Tuesday, demanding that the government reveal whether it has obtained orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) compelling private companies to help investigators break into customers’ cellphones and devices.

    • ‘Terrorism investigation’ Court lets NSA collect telephone records data

      In its first ruling regarding phone records since the passage of the USA Freedom Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court granted the National Security Agency the powers it requested. Much of the court order was redacted, however.

    • Apple: Governments Asked For User Data 30,000 Times In Second Half of 2015
    • Apple’s Spiking National Security Requests Could Reflect USA Freedom Compliance
    • Tech coalitions pen open letter to Burr and Feinstein over bill banning encryption
    • FBI’s Back Door Searches: Explicit Permission … and Before That

      As I have pointed out, Mukasey (writing with then Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, who would also have to approve any PRISM minimization procedures) made it clear in response to a Russ Feingold amendment of FISA Amendments Act in February of 2008 that they intended to spy in Americans under PRISM.

      So it sure seems likely the Administration at the very least had FBI back door searches planned, if not already in the works, well before FISC approved the minimization procedures in 2009. That’s probably what Hogan explained in that paragraph, but James Clapper apparently believes it would be legally inconvenient to mention that.

    • Why Did Congress Let Law Enforcement Officials Lie About Encryption?

      When you testify before Congress, it helps to actually have some knowledge of what you’re talking about. On Tuesday, the House Energy & Commerce Committee held the latest congressional hearing on the whole silly encryption fight, entitled Deciphering the Debate Over Encryption: Industry and Law Enforcement Perspectives. And, indeed, they did have witnesses presenting “industry” and “law enforcement” views, but for unclear reasons decided to separate them. First up were three “law enforcement” panelists, who were free to say whatever the hell they wanted with no one pointing out that they were spewing pure bullshit.

    • FISA Court Still Uncovering Surveillance Abuses By NSA, FBI

      With multiple redactions and having survived a declassification review, another FISA court opinion has been released to the public. The opinion dates back to November of last year, but was only recently dumped into the public domain by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. While the five-month delay seems a bit long, the alternative is no public release at all. The small miracle that is the public release of FISA court opinions can be traced directly to Ed Snowden and a handful of FOIA lawsuits — not that you’ll see either credited by the ODNI when handing over documents.

      The bad news is that the FISA court has uncovered still more abuse by the NSA and FBI. While there appears to be no imminent danger of the court yanking the agencies’ surveillance privileges (as nearly happened in 2008), the presiding judge (Thomas Hogan) isn’t impressed with the agencies and their cavalier attitude towards mass surveillance. The stipulations put in place to offset the potential damages of untargeted mass surveillance — strict retention periods and minimization procedures — are the very things being ignored by the NSA and FBI.

    • FBI’s PRISM slurping is ‘unconstitutional’ – and America’s secret spy court is OK with that
    • Public advocate: FBI’s use of PRISM surveillance data is unconstitutional
    • Public advocate: FBI’s use of PRISM surveillance data is unconstitutional
    • DOJ Sued Over Access to Requests for Encrypted Data
    • US government sued by activists looking for backdoor smoking gun
    • US surveillance court approves NSA phone records application
    • Watchdog Demands Info From Secret Court
    • EFF Sues DOJ for Secret Court Orders
    • EFF sues Justice Department to discover if secret orders are used to decrypt user data
    • National Security Agency now authorized to gather telephone records under new electronic spying law
    • U.S. DOJ Faces Lawsuit Demanding Disclosure of The Use of Secret Court Orders Against Tech Companies
    • EFF Sues DOJ Over Its Refusal To Release FISA Court Documents Pertaining To Compelled Technical Assistance

      Given the heightened interest in the government’s efforts to compel companies like Apple to break into their own products for them, the EFF figured it would be a good time to ask the government whether it had used FISA court orders to achieve these ends.

      Naturally, the government would rather not discuss its efforts to force Apple, et al. to cough up user data and communications. Hence the secrecy surrounding its use of NSLs, subpoenas and gag orders. Hence, also, its desire to keep cases involving All Writs Acts orders under seal if possible. Hence also (also) its refusal to discuss the secret happenings in its most secret court.

    • Joint Statement on the final adoption of the new EU rules for personal data protection

      Today’s adoption means a robust level of EU data protection standards will become the reality in all EU Member States in 2018.Member States have two years to apply the Data Protection Regulation and to transpose and implement the “Police” Directive. This timeframe gives Member States and companies sufficient time to adapt to the new rules.

      The Commission will work closely with Member States to ensure the new rules are correctly implemented at national level. We will work with the national data protection authorities and the future European Data Protection Board to ensure coherent enforcement of the new rules, building upon the work of the Article 29 Working Party. The Commission will also engage in open dialogue with stakeholders, notably businesses, to ensure there is full understanding and timely compliance with the new rules.

    • SS7 and NSA’s Redundant Spying

      But the fact that Lieu — who really is one of the smartest Members of Congress on surveillance issues — is only now copping onto the vulnerabilities with SS7 suggests how stunted our debate over dragnet surveillance was and is. For two years, we debated how to shut down the Section 215 dragnet, which collected a set of phone records that was significantly redundant with what we collected “overseas” — though in fact the telecoms’ production of such records was mixed together until 2009, suggesting for years Section 215 probably served primarily as legal cover, not the actual authorization for the collection method used. We had very credulous journalists talking about what a big gap in cell phone records NSA faced, in part because FISC frowned on letting NSA collect location data domestically. Yet all the while (as some smarter commenters here have said), NSA was surely exploiting SS7 to collect all the cell phone records it needed, including the location data. Members of Congress like Lieu — on neither the House Intelligence (which presumably has been briefed) or the House Judiciary Committees — would probably not get briefed on the degree to which our intelligence community thrives on using SS7’s vulnerabilities.

    • Nick Asks the NSA: Signaling System 7 (SS7)

      SS7 is the protocol phone companies use to talk to each other. It is an “out of band” signaling protocol, a separate communication channel used to coordinate calls and other features. For example, SS7 is the protocol involved in cellular roaming, allowing a cellphone to work effectively anywhere on the planet.

      Unfortunately SS7 has a large amount of legacy, the biggest being a design concept dating back to the old Bell telephone days with a single flat trust model. This means that a cellular company in Kazakhstan is considered just as trustworthy as AT&T.

    • GCHQ should split to offer separate cyber defence unit, says security expert

      GOVERNMENT LISTENING AGENCY GCHQ should be split into separate attack and defence units, according to a leading security expert.

      Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering in the computer laboratory at the University of Cambridge, explained that this would allow GCHQ to operate more openly, and make other public and private organisations more likely to collaborate with it.

      “The problem is that the UK government has demonstrated repeatedly that it’s not trustworthy. The Snowden documents made it clear that the British state is more interested in exploiting stuff than protecting it,” said Anderson.

    • NSA, FBI outed for violating court order to delete data

      A judge with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, where America’s intelligence agents go to get approval for secret spy operations, expressed concern top feds weren’t deleting information they collected off the Internet on unsuspecting individuals – in potential violation of law, recently declassified documents showed.

      Judge Thomas Hogan named the National Security Agency as “potentially” in violation of law, and said the office broke “several provisions” of its own internal policies, the Hill reported, citing the November 2015 opinion that was just made public. He also said he was “extremely concerned” the data hadn’t been deleted and the agency maintained its possession of such, in seeming violation of policy and law, the Hill reported.

    • Netflix CEO Says Annoyed VPN Users Are ‘Inconsequential’

      When Netflix recently expanded into 190 different countries, we noted that the company ramped up its efforts to block customers that use VPNs to watch geo-restricted content. More accurately, Netflix stepped up its efforts to give the illusion it seriously cracks down on VPN users, since the company has basically admitted that trying to block such users is largely impossible since they can just rotate IP addresses and use other tricks to avoid blacklists. And indeed, that’s just what most VPN providers did, updating their services so they still work despite the Netflix crackdown.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • CMD Exclusive: Why I Chose to Get Arrested in Defense of Our Democracy

      On Monday, I joined hundreds of fellow citizens who were arrested as part of a non-violent act of civil disobedience on the steps of our U.S. Capitol.

      I stood with people of all ages and all walks of life as part of a growing movement to reclaim an America that guarantees the unimpeded right to vote for all and a government that works for the people instead of the powerful plutocrats.

      I was there as someone who has worked for Clean Elections and ethical government for 20 years, and on behalf of my colleagues at the Center for Media and Democracy. CMD serves as a watchdog against corporate influence on democracy and public policy, and it sounded the alarm on the dangerous Citizens United decision of the U.S. Supreme Court six years ago.

    • North Korea Election Monitors Leave New York in Disgust (Satire?)

      A team of North Korean election monitors left New York City in disgust, claiming that democracy was “dead to them.”

      Following a long series of primary election issues across the United States, where local scams, manipulated caucuses and voter disenfranchisement ran wild, the United Nations requested the North Koreans provide a team of election monitors (above) to oversee the highly-contested New York primary. In choosing North Korea for the job, UN officials cited the “great similarities between the North Korean and American systems.”

    • Forcing the Innocent to Plead Guilty, an American Disgrace

      A record 149 people had their criminal convictions overturned in 2015 after courts found they had been wrongly charged, according to a recent study. Nearly four in 10 of those exonerated had been convicted of murder, and the average newly-released prisoner had served more than 14 years in prison. Most of the exonerations came in only two states, Texas and New York. The National Registry of Exonerations, a project of the University of Michigan Law School, found that there have been 1,733 exonerations since 1989, with the total doubling since 2011. More than two-thirds of last year’s exonerees were minorities. Five had been sentenced to death.

      There is a reason why most of the exonerations have come from two locales. District attorneys in Brooklyn, New York, and Harris County, Texas, have begun long-term reviews of questionable convictions, actions that are being watched by prosecutors and defense attorneys across the country. With 156 death row exonerations since 1973, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, this is a problem that must be addressed.

      The National Registry of Exonerations report stated further that 42 of those exonerated in 2015 had pleaded guilty, a glaring indication that the current system of seeking plea bargains simply isn’t just. Indeed, Propublica found that 98.2 percent of all federal cases end in conviction, with nearly all of those a result of plea deals.

    • UK Drug Dogs Finding Way More Sausage And Cheese Than Actual Drugs

      Drug dogs here in the US are mainly one-trick ponies, to clumsily mix a metaphor. Domesticated canines aim to please. Training of drug dogs involves giving them treats or toys upon alerting. You don’t have to be Pavlov to see how this plays out in the real world. Dogs will alert in hopes of a reward or be nudged in that direction by conscious or unconscious “nudges” by their handlers. Hence, we have drug dogs in use with horrendous track records. (But, notably, not horrendous enough to result in judicial smackdowns, for the most part.)

    • Harriet Tubman and the Currency of Resistance

      U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced Wednesday that the revised $20 bill will feature the portrait of the legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Tubman was born a slave, escaped to freedom and became a conductor on the Underground Railroad, as well as a campaigner for women’s right to vote. She will be replacing President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill. He was a contemporary of hers, who owned slaves (one of 18 presidents who did so) and became wealthy from their forced labor. The decision was influenced by grass-roots action, Lew said, as hundreds of thousands weighed in with their suggestions for which women to honor. It also was not without controversy.

    • Harriet Tubman Will Replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 Bill

      Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has decided that a redesigned $20 bill will feature a portrait of Harriet Tubman, a Treasury official confirmed to The Intercept on Wednesday.

    • No Prison Time For NYPD Officer Who Killed Unarmed Man, Then Texted Union Rep Instead of Helping

      Criminally negligent homicide is a felony, which will prevent Liang from resuming his career in law enforcement, and carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

    • Egyptian Policeman Kills Over The Price Of A Cup Of Tea In Latest Incident Of Police Brutality

      An Egyptian police officer shot three people after arguing with them over the price of a cup of tea in a Cairo suburb on Tuesday, leaving one of them dead. The incident raised furor among onlookers, who overturned a police car and assaulted another policeman.

      According to one witness, two vehicles carrying riot police and an armored truck quickly arrived on the scene, only to be pelted by rocks by the victims’ family.

    • Law Enforcement Forced To Hand Over $41K It Seized From Businessman At Airport, Plus Another $10K In Legal Fees

      An unidentified Techdirt reader sends in the news that Arizona law enforcement is going to be handing over $10,000 to Madji Khaleq as a result of a failed asset forfeiture attempt. This would be in addition to the $41,870 the DEA already handed back to Khaleq — every cent of the cash federal agents seized from him at the Tucson airport.

    • Brazil: Coup d’état – live on TV!

      An elected president faces impeachment just because Congress dislikes her.

    • 4 Ways Border Patrol Union’s Trump Endorsement Is Filled With Lies and Misinformation

      Since 2005, the Border Patrol has been showered with resources — including $8.4 million to sponsor a NASCAR team — that allowed it to expand its ranks at a breakneck pace. This trend has continued under the Obama administration. Unfortunately, recruitment surges by law enforcement agencies have historically led to — at best — the hiring of unqualified officers and — at worst — widespread misconduct and corruption. The Border Patrol is no exception.

    • ‘We Are Tonu’: Why has the murder of a 19 year old student sparked mass protests in Bangladesh?

      The death of Sohagi Jahan Tonu, a university student at Comilla Victoria College, led to massive protests and a social media outcry. What prevented this from just being another rape and murder case in Bangladesh?

    • Children cuffed, arrested, charged; Murfreesboro outraged

      Police handcuffed multiple students, ages 6 to 11, at a public elementary school in Murfreesboro on Friday, inspiring public outcry and adding fuel to already heightened tensions between law enforcement and communities of color nationwide.

      The arrests at Hobgood Elementary School occurred after the students were accused of not stopping a fight that happened several days earlier off campus. A juvenile center later released the students, but local community members now call for action — police review of the incident and community conversation — and social justice experts across the country use words such as “startling” and “flabbergasted” in response to actions in the case.

    • False Plagiarism Accusation Against Shaun King Shows Dangers of Online Mob Journalism

      On Tuesday afternoon, The New York Daily News published a column by its criminal justice writer, Shaun King (above), that denounced the harrowing treatment of a 37-year-old mentally incapacitated veteran, Elliot Williams, who died from neglect in an Oklahoma jail. Earlier that day, The Daily Beast had published a long, detailed, richly reported article on Williams’ death by Kate Briquelet, and King’s column was obviously based on Briquelet’s reporting.

      But as it appeared in the Daily News, King’s column provided no citation or attribution to Briquelet’s Daily Beast article. Worse, King’s column included two paragraphs that were verbatim copies from Briquelet’s article, and presented those two paragraphs without citation or even quotation marks. At first glance, it looked like a classic case of plagiarism, with King simply lifting two paragraphs and passing them off as his own. And The Daily Beast was understandably furious that their reporter’s excellent work would be pilfered without credit.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • Netflix crackdown in New Zealand takes hold

      Netflix warned in January that people outside the United States trying to watch content on the American catalogue would find it difficult to reach the service through VPN, but it seems to have taken three months for the crackdown to really be felt in New Zealand.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Leaked IP Chapter Of Asian FTA Reveals Tough Rules For Poorer Partners, Civil Society Says

      The alleged intellectual property chapter of a secretive regional trade agreement between an association of ten Asian countries plus six others was released yesterday by a civil society group, which says richer countries in the region are pushing for stringent IP rules.

    • Trade secrets bill clears US House Judiciary Committee

      In a busy few days for trade secrets news, the House Judiciary Committee has approved a Senate-passed trade secrets bills with no changes and Indian company Tata has been hit with a $940m damages verdict in Wisconsin

    • House Judiciary Committee Approves Senate-Passed Trade Secrets Bill

      The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a Senate-passed bill that would allow civil litigation for the theft of international trade secrets.

      Lawmakers advanced the measure, S. 1890, by voice vote.

      Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said the legislation “puts forward modest enhancements to our federal trade secrets law, creating a federal civil remedy for trade secret misappropriation that will help American innovators protect their intellectual property from criminal theft by foreign agents and those engaging in economic espionage.”

    • DTSA Moving Forward

      The House Judiciary Committee has taken the next major step toward implementation of the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA).

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