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Links 22/6/2016: PulseAudio 9.0, GNOME 3.21.3 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 6:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Building a business on a solid open source model

    Since we announced Nextcloud, an ownCloud fork, many people have asked me how we plan to build a sustainable, healthy open source business. My short answer is that it requires a strong focus on maintaining a careful balance between the needs of all stakeholders: users, contributors, employees, customers, and—of course—investors. Building a solid open source business requires that management has confidence in the abilities of your company, stakeholders must be on board with the business model, and everyone must understand that balance is important for the ecosystem. Like a rising tide lifts all boats, a strong ecosystem benefits all stakeholders.

  • Why I must use Free Software – and why I tell others to do so

    My work colleagues know me well as a Free/Libre software zealot, constantly pointing out to them how people should behave, how FLOSS software trumps commercial software and how this is the only way forward. This for the last 20 odd years. It’s a strain to argue this repeatedly: at various times, I have been asked to set out more clearly why I use FLOSS, what the advantages are, why and how to contribute to FLOSS software.

  • BusyBox 1.25 Released

    This latest update to the widely-used BusyBox software features a new blkdiscard applet, new options for gunzip/gzip, new nsenter / unshare / ubirename applets, build system changes, fixes for unzip, updates to ntpd, Ash additions, and a wide variety of other changes.

  • Altair Adds Open-Source Licensing to PBS Pro

    One of the problems that continues to hinder HPC is that, by and large, there’s a greater demand for computing cycles than there are CPUs and GPUs available. With researchers and engineers lining up to have their calculations crunched, it’s critical that HPC schemes have effective job management software that can keep track of a queue or jobs and assign the appropriate hardware to each project.

  • ClusterHQ’s Mohit Bhatnagar Talks Flocker, Docker, and the Rise of Open Source

    Container technology remains very big news, and if you bring up the topic almost everyone immediately thinks of Docker. But, there are other tools that can compete with Docker, and tools that can extend it and make it more flexible. CoreOS’s Rkt, for example, is a command-line tool for running app containers. And, ClusterHQ has an open source project called Flocker that allows developers to run their databases inside Docker containers, leveraging persistent storage, and making data highly portable.

  • Events

    • openSUSE Conference 2016 Day 1

      The first day of this year’s openSUSE Conference went well and the keynote speaker team of SaltStack Chief Technical Officer and technical founder Thomas Hatch along with Senior SaltStack Engineer David Boucha and SUSE’s Joe Werner showed how powerful Salt is for IT automation.

      Boucha gave a live demo and Hatch talked about the evolution of Salt and even talked a little about Salt’s Thorium Reactor, which was added to Salt as an experimental feature in the 2016.3.0 release. Werner discussed how SUSE uses Salt with SUSE Manager.

    • Building a better LibrePlanet: What we learned from the conference surveys

      Our samples are usually about sixty to seventy respondents, and self-selecting — from their responses, we can say with confidence that LibrePlanet attendees feel we’re doing a decent job organizing the conference. The questions “How much did you enjoy the sessions you attended, compared to those at other conferences you have attended?” and “How likely is it that you will return to LibrePlanet next year?” received an average of about 3.5 out of 4 each of the last three years.

    • Do you GNU? Attend the GNU Hackers’ Meeting in France this summer!

      The GNU Hackers’ Meeting is a friendly, semi-formal forum to discuss technical, social, and organizational issues concerning free software and GNU. This is a great opportunity to meet GNU maintainers and active contributors.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Back End


  • Healthcare

    • Dysfunction and Sabotage: Why Large Hospital EHR Costs So Much

      Years ago I read the cannon of the classic medical book “House of God” by Samuel Shem which reads: “…the House of God was sad and sick and cynical…like all our doings in the House…” At first, before I had worked in an actual hospital I thought the book itself was sick and cynical. After working in an actual hospital I re-read the book. I then found it hilarious for its uncomfortable truths, and did not think it was sick or cynical enough. Therein likes the crux of the matter with regard to very expensive large hospital EHR’s.


  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • ‘Steal My Tool’ showcases open source tools for journalists at IRE conference

      Robert Gebeloff, database projects editor at The New York Times, demonstrated how to use XML Grid to access and interpret a website’s data. Using these tools and techniques, Gebeloff showed how one can find which Trader Joe’s stores sell beer by simply scraping the site’s XML code. Gebeloff has published detailed instructions for web scraping without programming on his GitHub page.

    • Open Data

      • The current state of open data in the US government

        The S.2852 OPEN Government Data Act aims to require true open data access at the federal level. In this article I will discuss the importance of open data in government, the current state of open data in government, and what we need to do to implement true open data.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • VR Care is Frog’s open source VR headset for hospital patients

        VR is pretty good at distracting us from the outside world – take off the headset you’ve been wearing and you’ll see that it’s gone dark/everyone has left/you really need to shower.

      • 2048 DIY Open Source Game Console Hits Kickstarter (video)

        Anyone looking to learn more about coding and creating video games may be interested in the new DIY open source games console called 2048 which has been created by 2048.

        The name refers to the special screen that the game console is equipped with that is constructed from 2048 individual LED bulbs that are placed in a matrix form offering a 64 x 32 resolution.

        Learn more about what is possible using the open source games console from the developers at Creoqode. Who was taken to Kickstarter this week to raise the £20,000 they require to take the hardware into production. Early bird pledges are available from just $99 with delivery expected to take place during December 2016 with worldwide shipping available if required.


  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Google Hacker Donates His $15,000 Bug Bounty Cash Award To Charity

      Google’s leading security engineer Tavis Ormandy recently won a bug bounty challenge run by security solutions firm Bromium and decided to donate the money to charity. Following his gesture, Bromium matched Ormandy’s donation and donated $15,000 to Amnesty International organization.

    • TOR Project And Security Experts Making A “Hardened” Version Of TOR To Defeat FBI

      The TOR Project is working closely with security researchers to implement a new technique to secure the TOR Browser against the FBI’s de-anonymization exploits. Called “Selfrando”, this technique will fight the FBI’s “Code Reuse” exploits and create a “hardened” version of TOR.

    • Mozilla Awards $385,000 to Open Source Projects as part of MOSS “Mission Partners” Program

      For many years people with visual impairments and the legally blind have paid a steep price to access the Web on Windows-based computers. The market-leading software for screen readers costs well over $1,000. The high price is a considerable obstacle to keeping the Web open and accessible to all. The NVDA Project has developed an open source screen reader that is free to download and to use, and which works well with Firefox. NVDA aligns with one of the Mozilla Manifesto’s principles: “The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible.”

    • Mozilla MOSS ‘Mission Partners’ makes it rain $385,000 on open source project developers

      Open source is very important nowadays, especially from a privacy and security standpoint. Look, closed source ideology is not inherently bad — it is a good way to protect a company’s code. The problem, however, is that users are increasingly suspicious of software since Edward Snowden’s leaks. There is no telling what kind of back doors or other malicious things are hiding in the code.

    • Severe flaws in widely used archive library put many projects at risk

      n a world where any new software project is built in large part on existing third-party code, finding and patching vulnerabilities in popular open-source libraries is vital to creating reliable and secure applications.

      For example, three severe flaws in libarchive, recently found by researchers from Cisco Systems’ Talos group, could affect a large number of software products.

      Libarchive is an open-source library first created for FreeBSD, but has since been ported to all major operating systems. It provides real-time access to files compressed with a variety of algorithms, including tar, pax, cpio, ISO9660, zip, lha/lzh, rar, cab and 7-Zip.

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Ecuador ‘fed up’ with Assange embassy ‘under siege’

      Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Guillaume Long says there is concern about the health of Julian Assange, who has now been in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy for four years.

      He told Zeinab Badawi: “We are concerned about his health. He doesn’t have access to good health care. We are very worried about this. After four years, there is a clear deterioration.”

      The Wikileaks founder sought refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face accusations of sexual assault, which he denies.

    • Julian Assange Just Began His 5th Year Inside the Ecuadorian Embassy

      This past Sunday, June 19, Julian Assange began his fifth year inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he was granted asylum from the United States in 2012. The date was marked with simultaneous worldwide events—with 60 prominent supporters, including Noam Chomsky, Ai Wei Wei, Patti Smith, and Michael Moore, demanding Assange’s release. The theme of the day was “First They Came for Assange,” an allusion to Pastor Martin Niemöller’s famous poem warning of the dangers of staying silent in the face of rising state repression.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • NSA rejects ‘inappropriate’ invitation to assist with design of lynx introduction programme

      Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “Our understanding is the Project Advisory Group will design the trial that will only go ahead if Lynx UK is successful in gaining a licence from Natural England and/or Scottish Natural Heritage. We feel it is inappropriate for NSA to provide guidance to Lynx UK ahead of that licence application, as we remain opposed to any pilot taking place. In addition, we are not prepared for someone from NSA to be part of the group when the terms of reference state members would not be there to represent the views of any particular organisation.”

    • The lynx effect: Plans to release wild animals in Britain abandoned

      But two more sites on either side of the border are still under consideration and one will ultimately be chosen to have lynx released to start breeding colonies.

      Alarmed farmers say it could lead to savage attacks on livestock and even children by the hungry beasts, which became extinct in Britain around 700 AD, almost 150 years before King Alfred the Great was born.

    • Bloodthirsty lynx to be released into UK for breeding for first time

      One of two sites will be chosen where the Eurasian lynx will be reintroduced.

      Alarmed farmers warn the decision could lead to savage attacks on livestock and even children by the beast.

      Now the Lynx UK Trust hopes to release the wild cat to somewhere in Aberdeenshire or Northumberland.

    • Lynx return ruled out in Cumbria and Norfolk

      Plans to reintroduce the lynx to the wild in Cumbria and Norfolk have been scrapped.

      The Lynx UK Trust said the animal, which has been extinct in Britain for 1,300 years, would help control deer populations and attract tourists.

      But it has now ruled out Ennerdale in the Lake District and Thetford Forest in Norfolk, as too small to support populations of the big cat.

  • Finance

    • Banks Warn Of Trading Issues Over EU Vote

      Banks and money transfer services are warning that a surge in market volatility surrounding Thursday’s EU referendum may impact electronic trading platforms.

      As holidaymakers flock to cash in on the strong pound, and buy their travel money ahead of the vote, a number of money transfer companies are suspending services.

      Azimo and rival website Transferwise, have both announced they will be suspending trading on Thursday morning.

    • Michael Gove compares experts warning against Brexit to Nazis who smeared Albert Einstein’s work as he threatens to quit David Cameron’s Cabinet

      Michael Gove has compared economic experts warning about Brexit to Nazis who smeared Albert Einstein’s scientific findings during the 1930s.

      Mr Gove, who chairs the Vote Leave campaign, also suggested that he may quit the Government if Britain votes to stay in the EU because David Cameron will not be able to meet his pledge to control migration.

    • Eddie Izzard: Comedian Gets Serious with ‘Remain’ Campaign

      English comedian Eddie Izzard is a passionate European who has been vigorously campaigning for young people to vote Remain in the Brexit referendum. Ahead of his last speech before the vote, he told Handelsblatt about his vision for a positive, unified European future.

    • A Brexit won’t stop cheap labour coming to Britain

      The Unite union is fighting all the way for a remain vote and for British workers to build their future in unity with workers in the rest of Europe. But I refuse to lecture or to patronise those working people who take a different view. After all, who can be surprised that in so many industrial areas, voting for the status quo is not a popular option?

    • Brexit: James Dyson is lone, pro-Leave voice among UK tech superstars

      British tech firms overwhelmingly support the UK remaining part of the European Union, even at the eleventh hour before Thursday’s referendum vote.

      In fact, the vacuum cleaner innovator Sir James Dyson is the only really big name among the country’s tech players to publicly come out and back Brexit—he believes that leaving the EU might help him recruit top engineering talent from outside Europe to come and work in the UK, and says “we will create more wealth and more jobs by being outside the EU.”

      Aside from him, the British tech sector appears to be very pro-European Union.

    • Why Mining Corporations Love Trade Deals

      From the salmon-spawning waters of Alaska to the cloud forests of Ecuador, communities are standing up to mining projects that threaten their health, environment, and livelihoods.

      But mining corporations are fighting back with a powerful tool buried in trade and investment agreements: the ability to go to private, unaccountable tribunals and sue governments that act to protect communities from mining.

      In these private tribunals, which sit outside of any domestic legal system, corporate lawyers – not judges – decide whether governments must pay corporations for halting destructive mining projects. To date, mining corporations have used these private tribunals to sue over 40 governments more than 100 times.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Hillary Clinton Criticizes Donald Trump for One of the Few Things He Is Right About

      Deficit hawks often raise the specter of hyperinflation to scare people who disagree with them. And that’s exactly what Hillary Clinton did on Tuesday.

      Speaking in Columbus, Clinton criticized Donald Trump for saying last month that the U.S. can never default on its debt obligations “because you print the money.”

      “We know what happened to countries that tried that in the past, like Germany in the ‘20s and Zimbabwe in the ‘90s,” Clinton said. “It drove inflation through the roof and crippled their economies.”

      But printing money — otherwise known as increasing the money supply – is a routine occurrence for governments that control their own currency. The Federal Reserve has increased its balance sheet by over $3 trillion since the financial crisis, explicitly to support the economy. (The Fed does this by buying stocks and bonds with electronic cash that didn’t exist before.)

      In fact, an increasingly influential school of economics, known as Modern Monetary Theory, argues that deficit spending, including through money printing, is critical to promote full employment.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The New Censorship

      How did Google become the internet’s censor and master manipulator, blocking access to millions of websites?

    • Cleveland Bans Soapboxes and Sleeping Bags, Not Guns, Near Republican Convention

      Anyone venturing into a 3.3-square-mile “event zone” surrounding next month’s Republican National Convention will be prohibited from carrying tennis balls, tape, rope, bike locks, sleeping bags, or any object they could stand on to rise above the crowd and speak. They won’t be allowed to carry swords or water guns. But if they have a license, they’ll be permitted to openly carry real guns, including assault weapons.

      As Cleveland gears up to host one of the most controversial GOP conventions in decades, Ohio’s permissive gun policy isn’t the only red flag raised by prospective protesters and civil rights advocates. Many also warn that the regulations put in place by the city place “unacceptable restrictions on free speech” and risk escalating conflict, rather than diffusing it, by forcing rival groups of demonstrators to share tight quarters and schedules while keeping them out of sight and earshot of delegates and the media.

      The restrictions imposed on the large event zone drawn around Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena — known locally as “The Q”— have earned the city a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Ohio and widespread criticism across the spectrum of groups planning to show up at the convention to make their voices heard.

    • Egyptian and Lebanese film festivals censor ‘I Say Dust’ because of a same-sex kiss

      In making her short film “I Say Dust,” Darine Hotait wanted to explore Arab American identity from her perspective as a New York-based American Lebanese writer and director. It just so happened that her two lead characters would be women in their 20s who share a kiss. That kiss, however, has put “I Say Dust” at the center of a long-standing discussion about censorship after it was recently banned from two film festivals in the Middle East.

    • Sex Party forced to remove posters in ACT

      The Sex Party says it will reluctantly take down posters around Canberra deemed offensive by the ACT government.

      The party’s Senate candidate Steven Bailey says he will on Thursday remove signs reading “Screw the major parties – Vote for the Sex Party” and “Tax the Church – Vote for the Sex Party”.

      He said a city ranger on Monday gave the party 48 hours to remove the signs or face potential prosecution.

    • Election 2016: Sex Party hits out at ‘censorship’ after election signs taken down
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • NSA Designates UTEP as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Operations
    • Author Stephen Budiansky adds perspective to NSA’s covert activities

      Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon used the CIA and NSA for personal projects

    • American Intelligence Agencies Lag Behind in Diversity

      For decades, intelligence agencies like the CIA and NSA that have been tarred with accusations of sexism and racial profiling have worked hard to clean up their images and present a friendlier, more inclusive face to the world. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, similar scandals continue to hound the intelligence community, from the CIA’s hand in helping the NYPD monitor “ancestries of interest” to a culture within the NSA that condones violations of women’s privacy.

    • DOJ Insists That Rule 41 Change Is Not Important, Nothing To See Here, Move On Annoying Privacy Activist People

      We’ve been talking a lot about Rule 41 lately around here. As we’ve discussed, the DOJ had pushed for an update to the rule, basically granting the FBI much greater powers to hack into lots of computers, including those abroad (possibly creating diplomatic issues). We’ve been discussing the problems with the DOJ’s proposed change for years, and we haven’t been alone. Civil liberties groups and tech companies have both blasted the plans, but to no avail.

      Back in March, a judicial panel approved the DOJ’s proposed changes, and the Supreme Court gave its blessing a month later. The rule changes are set to go into effect on December 1st if they’re not stopped. Senators Ron Wyden and Rand Paul have introduced a bill to block them, while the EFF, Tor and friends have kicked off a big No Global Warrants campaign, encouraging Congress to block this change.

    • Firm pays $950,000 penalty for using Wi-Fi signals to secretly track phone users

      A mobile advertising company that tracked the locations of hundreds of millions of consumers without consent has agreed to pay $950,000 in civil penalties and implement a privacy program to settle charges that it violated federal law.

      The US Federal Trade Commission alleged in a complaint filed Wednesday that Singapore-based InMobi undermined phone users’ ability to make informed decisions about the collection of their location information. While InMobi claimed that its software collected geographical whereabouts only when end users provided opt-in consent, the software in fact used nearby Wi-Fi signals to infer locations when permission wasn’t given, FTC officials alleged. InMobi then archived the location information and used it to push targeted advertisements to individual phone users.

    • Senate Narrowly Rejects Controversial FBI Surveillance Expansion—For Now

      A controversial amendment that would expand the FBI’s surveillance power was narrowly defeated in the Senate Wednesday.

      The final tally was 58 to 38, two votes shy of the 60 needed for the amendment to move forward. The issue will likely surface again soon, however, as Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., immediately filed for a motion to reconsider the amendment.

    • Dashcam and bodycam undermine reasonable suspicion in two cases

      These two make one wonder how many times officers have just fabricated reasonable suspicion and courts have bought it:

      The dashcam video supports the defendant’s argument that he was stopped without reasonable suspicion of driving with lights off when they should have been on. The stop for following too close is also unsupported. The highway was nearly empty. Suppressed. United States v. Dominguez-Fernand, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76368 (S.D.Ind. June 13, 2016).

    • Court Refuses To Uphold Evidence Seized During A Completely Bogus Traffic Stop

      Very rarely does anyone want to believe a defendant in a criminal prosecution. They have the most to lose, are often presumed guilty by all involved, and if they’d done nothing wrong, they wouldn’t be here defending themselves, right? None of that is how the system is supposed to work. But that’s how it often does.

      Law enforcement officers, on the other hand, are often treated as unimpeachably credible, even when their recollections of events are less than accurate. Sometimes they get called out for it. Most times they don’t. About the only way their dishonesty is called out if if there’s another set of eyes on the scene — like dashcams or body-worn cameras. (This, too, is far from a sure thing.)

      That’s what happened here. A bogus traffic stop that morphed into a drug bust began with zero traffic violations — even though the officer performing the stop claimed at least two violations had occurred. (via FourthAmendment.com)

      Victor Dominguez-Fernand was pulled over for allegedly driving with his headlights off and following too close to the vehicle ahead. Unfortunately for Deputy Nicholas Ernestes, his dashcam showed both claimed violations were bogus.

      First off, the supposed violation of “driving with headlights off” was only a presumed violation. Deputy Ernestes testified that he “believed” headlights were required because of the weather conditions (overcast and raining) but couldn’t actually assert that such a requirement exists.

    • GCHQ sets out ‘operational case’ for bulk collection

      A GCHQ document has put forward the ‘operational case’ for bulk collection.

      Authored by the UK’s signals intelligence agency, which is also the principal agent of bulk collection in the UK, the report sets out the manner in which “bulk powers provide vital intelligence that cannot be generated from any other source”.

      It goes on to draw out scenarios, some real, some hypothetical, in which bulk powers were or could be useful.

    • EFF Urges Senate Not to Expand FBI’s Controversial National Security Letter Authority

      The controversial National Security Letter (NSL) statute could be significantly expanded under two separate bills currently being debated by the Senate. Every year, the FBI issues thousands of NSLs to telephone and Internet companies, demanding records about their customers and gagging the companies from informing the public about these requests. NSLs are inherently dangerous to civil liberties because their use is rarely subject to judicial review. But NSLs are not magic, and they don’t require recipients to do whatever the FBI says. Above all, the type of information available to the FBI with an NSL is quite limited, reflecting the need to tightly control the extrajudicial nature of this controversial power.

    • Jewel v. NSA Moves Forward—Time For NSA To Answer Basic Questions About Mass Surveillance

      It’s time to lift the cloak of secrecy that has until now shielded the NSA from judicial scrutiny. EFF served the agency with information requests late last week in Jewel v. NSA, EFF’s signature case challenging government surveillance. Since we filed the case in 2008, leaks about government spying—much of which have been confirmed by intelligence agencies—have vindicated our claims that the U.S. government is and was illegally spying on millions of innocent Americans. Now, we are seeking answers to basic questions about the nuts and bolts of the government’s Internet and telephone mass surveillance programs.

      Not only does this mark the first opportunity to obtain evidence since the case was filed nearly eight years ago, but it’s also the first time any party has been allowed to gather facts about the programs’ inner workings from the NSA in a case involving the agency’s warrantless surveillance.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Customs Agents, Local Doctor Subject 18-Year-Old To Vaginal, Rectal Probing In Search Of Nonexistent Drugs

      The police obtained no drugs, but Eckert obtained a $1.6 million settlement.

      Perhaps that sort of payoff is in 18-year-old Ashley Cervantes’ future. Cervantes did nothing more than cross the border to eat breakfast in Nogales, Mexico. Upon her return, things went from bad to worse to nightmarish.

    • Guy In Australia Pleads Guilty To Criminal Trolling On Facebook, Faces 3 Years In Jail

      Let’s start off with this: there’s no legitimate way to defend Zane Alchin, a guy in Australia who appears to be an all around horrible person. He went on Facebook, and after seeing a friend of his post (and mock) a woman’s Tinder profile, proceeded to post a whole bunch of pretty horrible and misogynistic posts on Facebook, including some pretty horrifying statements about “raping feminists.” I won’t post any of his other comments, though they’re covered in some of the articles written about the case. Alchin, who now claims he was just drunk and trolling, and also insisted he wasn’t breaking any laws, has since discovered that apparently he was breaking a weird Australian law…

    • Sydney labourer Zane Alchin switches to guilty plea over Tinder shaming case

      A Sydney labourer, who unleashed a torrent of explicit abuse online after a screen shot of a woman’s Tinder profile was uploaded to Facebook, told police he was drunk and unaware that trolling was a crime, court documents show.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • As OECD Gathers, Call For New Internet Social Compact – With Some Open Questions

      The GCIG report is here. Information on the OECD Ministerial is here.

      Information Society (ISOC) background on Ministerial is available here.

      Insurance companies for example are asked in the report presented in Cancun today to “rise to the challenge of ensuring that best practices for data protection and security are appropriately rewarded.” Governments are requested “to ensure their taxation policies do not bias the market for internet services or related equipment.”

    • Study Finds That T-Mobile’s Binge On Is Exploitable, Unreliable, And Still Violates Net Neutrality

      For a while now we’ve warned how “zero rating” (letting some content bypass usage caps) is a creative way for ISPs to tap dance around net neutrality –potentially to public applause. Comcast, for example, exempts its creatively-named “Stream” streaming video service from caps, but claims this doesn’t violate net neutrality because the traffic never technically leaves Comcast’s network. Verizon exempts its own Go90 video service from caps as well, and to date doesn’t even bother justifying the move. Both AT&T and Verizon let companies pay for cap exemption.

      And while these programs all laugh in the face of neutrality, many users still tend to applaud the horrible precedent because they believe — despite paying an arm and a leg for wireless data — that they’re getting something for free.

      T-Mobile has been perhaps the most creative in exploiting this belief and implementing zero rating, now exempting some 90 video services from user usage caps and throttling these services to 1.5 Mbps (or 480p) unless a user opts out. But neutrality advocates have repeatedly noted this idea still violates net neutrality given that thousands of startups, educational orgs, and non profits still aren’t whitelisted — and may not even realize they’re being discriminated against.

    • Northeastern researchers find T-Mobile’s Binge On doesn’t live up to the hype

      Want to watch unlim­ited videos from Net­flix, YouTube, and other providers on your mobile device for free? Make us your internet ser­vice provider, says T-​​Mobile. Our Binge On ser­vice allows you to do just that.

      Not so fast, says Northeastern’s David Choffnes, assis­tant pro­fessor in the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence. New research by Choffnes and his col­leagues shows that what T-​​Mobile promises is not what you, or con­tent providers, may actu­ally get.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • No Man’s Sky Settles With Sky TV So It Can Have ‘Sky’ In Its Name

        As you may or may not be aware, Sky TV is a European cable television network owned by Rupert Murdoch. Sky TV is also a company that has trademarked the word “sky” and enjoys bludgeoning anyone who uses the word “sky” in business into the ground. This has resulted in exceptionally silly disputes, such as Sky TV suing Skype, despite there being not a lick of competition between a messaging/calling system and television.

        This past week, gaming enthusiasts learned that the much anticipated open universe space exploration game No Man’s Sky had been battling with Sky TV over the inclusion of the word “sky” in its title. This case of trademark bullying can act as a wonderful barometer, because if you don’t think this is ridiculous, then you are ridiculous.

      • Cinemark Files Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Against Roblox Over User-Generated Content

        Today’s misguided IP infringement lawsuit comes from Cinemark USA, one of the largest theater chains in the United States. Its target is Roblox, a multiplayer online sandbox game where users can create their own “worlds” using blocks — putting it somewhere between Minecraft and Second Life.

        Cinemark is accusing Roblox and a few dozen of its users of trademark infringement, thanks to the latter’s creations. According to the lawsuit [PDF], various users have created versions of Cinemark theaters (complete with branding) and placed them in their own worlds, or uploaded for others to use in theirs.

    • Copyrights

      • MPAA Happily Gets Into Bed With Russian State Censor Agency… To Protect Copyright!

        Roskomnadzor is the Russian “telecommunications regulator” or “watchdog,” but it could just as easily be described as the Russian internet censor, because that appears to be a large part of its role in the country. In the past, we’ve written about Roskomnadzor blocking all of Wikipedia over a single reference to hashish (really) and also a plan to block all of CloudFlare because the company made it difficult for Russia’s internet censorship plans to work. Earlier this month, Roskomnadzor made news for blacklisting a Vice article, claiming that it would encourage shoplifting.

        So, who better to support such a censorship regime than… Hollywood! The MPAA has now proudly signed an agreement with Roskomnadzor to cooperate on protecting copyright online. The linked article is unfortunately horribly written. The title implies that the MPAA represents the government of the United States (while sometimes true in practice, that’s not how it’s supposed to work…) and then provides frightfully few details on what the agreement really is), beyond “protect copyright!”

IP Europe’s UPC Lobbying and the EPO Connection

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michael Fröhlich lobbying for the UPC as an EPO employee

Michael Fröhlich for EPO
Photo credit: Nordic Patent

Summary: The loose but seemingly ever-growing connections between AstroTurfing groups like IP Europe (pretending to represent SMEs) and EPO staff which is lobbying-centric

THE EPO is a small world and there are many revolving doors in that world. Just watch what kind of people Battistelli gave top positions to. See their recent professional background. Apparently it’s OK for Battistelli to dismiss and prevent future employment of people whom he doesn’t like, but the same standards do not apply to him. He won’t reciprocate when it comes to ethics because he has none. Those who mention it are likely to become victims of his witch-hunting parades (intended to terrify the rest of the staff).

We recently did some research regarding Michael Fröhlich, who not too long ago joined the EPO and is already lobbying for the UPC with his EPO hat. On our path we found all sorts of interesting connections. “IP Europe” for example (these are newly-named parasites, vultures and enemies of Europe, as mentioned by Professor James Bessen, a high-profile trolls opposer, earlier this year) has been doing a lot of pro-UPC lobbying. There is also Francisco Mingorance, the author of the EU Commission’s proposed software patent directive. There is even Claudia Tapia, previously at BlackBerry, which increasingly leans towards patent trolling [1, 2, 3, 4]. Claudia’s colleague of then, Michael Fröhlich, works at the EPO right now. It appears to be a lobbying-oriented job (a growing activity at the EPO, which perhaps forgot its real task, which is patent examination). Earlier this year we mentioned in an article about the PR strategy of the EPO how an entity called “IP Europe” was about to be launched in Brussels (a location/site for which EPO hires lobbyists).

“It’s rather revealing that Battistelli visits nations that consider leaving the EU as of late, notably Finland and the UK.”We mentioned Michael Fröhlich earlier this month in relation to that UPC promotion he had done in Scandinavia and perhaps elsewhere. He lived in Munich even while working at RIM, so he didn’t even have to relocate for becoming another Battistelli minion. The UPC is definitely stoppable, but the 'UPC gang' (a conspiracy of patent lawyers basically) wants us to believe otherwise. So does the EPO, albeit it reluctantly admits there are major barriers as of late (Battistelli and his minions name Brexit as one of them). So what’s all this UPC lobbying for? It’s rather revealing that Battistelli visits nations that consider leaving the EU as of late, notably Finland and the UK.

Sadly, UPC lobbying comes from many directions right now, including from what Florian Müller said yesterday made the “false claim of supporting ‘innovatives SMEs.’” This is reminiscent of the Association for Competitive Technology (Microsoft front group, pretending to represent SMEs in Europe). As we have shown here before, UPC lobbyists are hijacking the voices of SMEs, which openly complain about this. Here is what Müller wrote about the latest name of the front group, “IP Europe” (calling it a “trolls’ lobbying entity” in his headline):

With respect to standard-essential patent licensing, my preferred European voice of reason(ableness) is the Fair Standards Alliance, an organization Google recently joined and which I’d like to see Apple and Samsung team up with at some point. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s a lobbying group named IP Europe. While I personally know and respect two of the individuals working for that one, I fundamentally disagree with its policy positions and object to its false claim of supporting “innovatives SMEs.” IP Europe advances the cause of patent trolls and of businesses that failed in the mobile phone business for a lack of innovation and increasingly resort to patent licensing as a revenue source.

Looking at IP Europe’s member list, it’s generally easy to see why each of those organizations expects to gain something from overpatenting and from an overcompensation of patentees, with a couple of exceptions, however.


To many of you this may seem obvious, but let me explain this for the rest: there is no such thing as a software patent that guarantees stability and security. The reason: no matter what a patent may describe (with or without specificity), it can always be implemented in an unstable and insecure fashion.

Airbus has a software quality problem. Last year Airbus even admitted that a software configuration error caused the crash of a military transporter, and I vaguely remember a crash of a commercial Airbus plane many years ago that some experts attributed to a software issue. In terms of success factors in the airplane business, that is what Airbus should be focusing on. It has nothing to do with patents. Any code that is stable or unstable, secure or insecure, is protected by copyright (and trade secrets). Any configuration that is stable or unstable, secure or insecure, is a matter of quality assurance.

If Airbus focused on software quality, it wouldn’t have to fear copycats. If someone copied great code, copyright (not patent) law would protect Airbus.

With ‘SMEs’ like Airbus it’s not hard to imagine who “IP Europe” really stands for (or fronts for).

Expect us to write a lot more about the UPC in the coming months. It has a lot to do with everything that’s wrong in the EPO nowadays.

“When asked by Ars, the EPO’s spokesperson mentioned the imminent arrival of the unitary patent system as an important reason for revising the EPO’s internal rules…”

Dr. Glyn Moody

EPO “Recruitment of Brits is Down by 80%”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Board 28 has already admitted there's a "crisis" as mass departure [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] goes all the way to the top

Very British

Summary: Letter says that “recruitment of Brits is down by 80%” and “the EPO lost 7% of UK staff in one year”

THIS morning someone diverted a message about the EPO to us. This message appears to have headed towards quite a few delegates and perhaps politicians too.

In the tradition of maximal transparency we have decided to share it below. We hope that readers will end up contacting their national representatives to let them know what nationals (whom they supposedly represent) think about this.

“We hope that readers will end up contacting their national representatives to let them know what nationals (whom they supposedly represent) think about this.”The message below is long (3 pages) and there are some interesting things in there about brain drain and the rather amazing exodus of British workers this past year (or slightly longer).

“The EPO-FLIER Team,” we learned, “a group of concerned staff of the EPO who wish to remain anonymous due to the prevailing harsh social climate and absence of rule of law at the European Patent Office, sent an open letter to delegations of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation. Interested circles and stakeholders of the European patent system were informed as well.”

Text of the E-mail was as follows:

Open letter to the Delegations of the EPO’s Administrative Council

Dear Heads and members of the Member States’ delegations to the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation,
dear Chairman, dear Mr Grandjean,

Please find enclosed an open letter titled

‘The Administrative Council’s fiduciary duty to the European Patent Organisation and the Office’s duty of care’

directed to the delegations of the member states of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation.
a group of concerned staff of the EPO
who wish to remain anonymous
due to the prevailing harsh social climate and
absence of rule of law at the European Patent Office

further links:





There was a PDF attached to the message and here is what it said:

Open letter – by email to the Heads of Delegation

22 June 2016

The Administrative Council’s fiduciary duty to the European Patent Organisation and the Office’s duty of care

Dear heads and members of the delegations to the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation, dear Chairman, dear Mr Grandjean,

Ever since the founding fathers drafted the European Patent Convention, a high perception of legal validity of a granted patent has taken the Office from strength to strength. Highly qualified staff has for a long time dealt with significant workload increases while maintaining the quality of work that has drawn applicants to the EPO. However, we are now observing an accelerated change for the worse. Strong professional ethics are gradually giving way to rubber stamping in order to meet entirely arbitrary production targets. Despite embellished statistics allegedly showing otherwise, staff’s health is on the decline and the EPO is no longer an employer of choice.

Is it not the Administrative Council’s (AC’s) and the President’s duty to hand over to any successor an Office that is at least as healthy as it was when he took it over? And should
the AC not be seen to be positively influencing good housekeeping and a constant pursuit of excellence?

Who is the boss?

It was so refreshing to see the AC take its responsibility when it issued a resolution with clear and achievable objectives for the President. Very briefly there was a marked
improvement of the atmosphere in the Office. Very briefly, the AC had switched on the light at the end of the tunnel.

But instead of complying with unambiguous instructions, Mr Battistelli is playing games like an adolescent who is testing the envelope. He has not even tried to comply. Instead, he is
doing the opposite, challenging his supervisory body, rebelling against his “parents”.

It is time for the members of the AC to stop flogging a dead horse:
Mr Battistelli is causing immeasurable damage to the Office; he is now untenable.

The President’s extravagances

The AC delegations are aware of and endorse the costs for the President’s luxury fortress on the top floor of the Isar Building and his alleged need for highly expensive personal body guards. The EPO further pays for hosting high-profile events that seem to be mainly instigated for the greater glory of the President.

The Office should not be seen to be celebrating some inventors as being better than others. It risks reputational damage by highlighting the success of some inventions, especially if they later could prove not to work (see media coverage on Elizabeth Holmes’ dysfunctional blood testing equipment). For critical observers, her results looked too good to be true. The same applies to the current EPO results.

EPC changes through the back door?

Sinking almost endless resources into the IT Roadmap, with its badly managed outsourcing and brain-drain (due to salary cuts and a poor work atmosphere), is failing to provide appropriate tools. The changes in operation – above all an ill-conceived new career system in combination with management by intimidation – are resulting in more products per staff member, but with an outcome that no longer compares favourably to past quality standards.

Critical observers have started speculating about the effects the dramatic increase in the number of patents granted may have1. Applicants have started observing a decline in the quality of the EPO’s products and sometimes share their concerns with individual examiners. The existing quality indicators are not reliable. IAM 2, 3 is sponsored by the Office and the EPO’s own quality measuring system ‘CASE’ suffers from a built-in conflict-of-interest. The way it has been designed, it will always indicate excellent quality, no matter what the actual quality is.

A presumption of invalidity of granted patents leads to higher litigation costs. Big applicants might be able to finance such higher costs, but SMEs will suffer economically from low quality patenting4. The EPO can foster economic growth only if it returns to the previously high search and examination standards5.

The AC is the guardian of a non-discriminatory application of the EPC.
That is not possible under the leadership of this President.

EPO – employer of choice?

Word has got out that all’s not well at the EPO. The Office no longer attracts the same calibre of staff and therefore has had to resort to recruiting what it gets. That’s why the
EPO is currently abandoning previous quality criteria, such as language skills, or a balanced geographical distribution6, in the selection of new staff.

The recent Technologia survey on psycho-social risks for EPO employees is alarming, and the comparison of three surveys from consecutive years shows that the situation is deteriorating. Despite the AC’s mandate to the President to go easy with HR reforms, the Administration is still instigating some highly undesirable changes.

The self-proclaimed Dr. med. Battistelli and Dr. med. Bergot judge on the fitness of staff for work. The EPO exposes vulnerable staff to its medical advisors, who now have a direct reporting link to a PD Human Resources, who herself has a reputation of being vindictive. The Office now has the tools that it needs to breach medical secrecy indiscriminately and to abuse information given to medical practitioners in confidence.

The unfair dismissal of two staff representatives, the downgrading of a third and the ongoing attacks on other members of the staff representation are unacceptable, and have been criticised by the Council itself. Staff are dumbfounded by the way that an organisation that has a legal function (granting and refusing patents) behaves in ways that are contrary to the rule of law in its member states and how representatives of countries with a great legal tradition can condone such behaviour.

1 http://ipnoncredere.blogspot.de/2016/06/high-how-will-ball-bounce.html
2 http://www.iam-media.com/Blog/Detail.aspx?g=77979ee9-60a0-4b2c-b074-e9a2b2623a0c
3 65% of the respondents rated the quality of patents granted by the EPO as excellent or very good.
4 http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/06/15/patent_trolls_innovation_and_brexit/
5 http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/12/european-patent-office-examiners-fear.html
6 It seems that in the EPO the „brexit“ is taking place, as according to the Social Report for 2015 CA 55/16, page 22, the recruitment of Brits is down by 80%, while according to page 8, the EPO lost 7% of UK staff in one year. Further, no Irish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish and Swiss personnel was recruited.

Mr Battistelli continues to undermine the rights of staff

EPO staff undergo a stringent selection process and have a long probationary period before being appointed as permanent staff. But in the interpretation of the EPO’s very senior management it is professional incompetence if staff members do not meet inflated output demands. In the President’s plans there will be no intervention of any meaningful advisory review instance in decisions for dismissal for reasons of professional incompetence (CA/53/16). If the proposal gets approval, Mr Battistelli will be in a position to expose staff of the EPO to unemployment without a social security system, which he aggravates by claiming exclusive rights to permit gainful employment a full two years following departure from the Office (CA/29/16).

The review of the Investigation Guidelines (CA/52/16) will, if adopted, increase the autonomy and powers of the Administration. The guidelines would become an even more dangerous weapon if put in the wrong, i.e. in Mr Battistelli’s and Ms Bergot’s, hands. Due process, duty of care and state-of-the-art HR management are completely absent from the Office now.

And all the time, the members of the Office’s only supervisory body watch it happen. To the neutral observer there is no doubt: this Administration is professionally incompetent, and
the supervisors are doing nothing about it.

The President and his cronies have to be stopped. By you. Now.

The Council and President have to show that they are good caretakers of the great organisation that has been put in their custody and entrusted to them. It is time to live up to
the expectations of the founding fathers, the European public and the staff of the Office.

You will be in the spotlight during the June Council meeting.

Please do not support the President’s change proposals in CA/29/16, CA/52/16 and CA/53/16.

Instead, please do what needs doing: restore a constructive climate at the EPO, under leadership of a President who wants to join the effort for the continued success of the Office.

For the undersigned, that President is not Benoît Battistelli.

With our best regards,
The EPO-FLIER team

a group of concerned staff of the EPO who wish to remain anonymous due to the prevailing harsh social climate and absence of rule of law at the European Patent Office

Copies to: Competent Ministries of the Member States

These proposal were mentioned here one week ago. We can’t help wondering how many other EPO employees are contacting delegations or at least heads of delegations. These delegates might only feel compelled to save the EPO if they witness enough voices of concerned insiders and outsiders. That’s how it goes in politics, for better or for worse.

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