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07.14.16

Deathwatch of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPC)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli put all his eggs in the “UPC” basket, attacked the sceptics, and now he digs his own grave

Battistelli digs his own UPC grave

Summary: The UPC seems very unlikely to ever become a reality in the United Kingdom and even in Europe as a whole

THE UNITARY PATENT is a subject we have been covering for many years, since before it was even known as anything “unitary” (words like “community”, “EU” or “European” were more common a bunch of euphemisms at the time). The UPC is definitely not for the EU or for Europe. It is not for Europeans or even for EPO staff (who are typically European scientists); rather, UPC is for prosecutors/lawyers and for mega-corporations (their clients), billionaires and Battistelli, who is dangerously close to them (see his political affiliation and professional background). The UPC must be stopped and EPO examiners too should work hard to stop it. Nothing would upset Battistelli more because his interests are often the very opposite of EPO interests (for instance, systematically lowering the quality of patents).

“Lobbying for UPC opened to non-EU states,” Benjamin Henrion (FFII President) wrote earlier today, “dreaming wide open…”

Henrion referred to the British and paraphrased IP Federation as saying outrageous things. “Not reopen swpat [software patents] debate: we prefer to see the minimum of amendment to the UPC Agreement (i.e. to remove the UK),” he wrote. We were rather shocked to find IP Federation referred to as “UK industry” in this new comment (original post mentioned here the other day). Basically, someone has just called patent lawyers and other self-serving parasites (when it comes to the UPC) the “UK industry”. To quote:

UK industry has announced a position on Brexit at http://www.ipfederation.com/activities.php?news_id=133

“Without a guarantee of continued UK participation post-Brexit, the UK should not ratify the UPC at present.”

It didn’t take long for some people to respond to this publicly. “Please note,” this person wrote, “IP Federation is not synonymous with UK industry [...] If the UK does not ratify now, the whole UPC/UP project may simply evaporate” (which would be good for the real UK industry as much of it is SMEs). To quote:

Please note, IP Federation is not synonymous with UK industry [see the very short list of members] and the position does not appear to be unanimous even among that self-selected group.

The declared position is either extremely naive (on the part of those who believe there can be any guarantees in the present political climate), or extremely devious (on the part of those who never liked the whole idea anyway and rather hope it will just go away).

If the UK does not ratify now, the whole UPC/UP project may simply evaporate. The benefit to that part of UK industry that is not part of IP Federation’s self-selected cabal will be lost.

“Not many SMEs I grant you,” said another person about IP Federation’s representation:

Strange comments about the IP Federation. The IP Federation represents a significant part of British Industry. Not many SMEs I grant you, but significant nonetheless.

In any event, their position seems to me to be pretty sound. Why would anyone want a patent that may not be valid in one (or more) jurisdictions? That’s exactly what those who insist on ill-conceived quick ratification are asking for. There are so many questions that cannot be easily answered and, for which, the answers may be challenged in future even if they are answered that certainty is required. The easiest way to be certain is to NOT ratify. Status Quo maintained. If the UPC system can be adapted to make it certain (unchallengable) that the UK is/can be clearly in or out then all well and good.

One person said that “IP Federation positions are almost always taken up by the CBI (who don’t have much expertise in the relevant areas) and they DO represent all of British industry.” No, they don’t.

“UK participation in UPC is silly,” Henrion notes, considering the fact that the UK plans — as per the referendum — to exit the EU.

According to this new article from British media for lawyers, “UK ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement soon seems politically unrealistic, says expert” (that’s the headline). To quote some bits:

Patent law specialist Deborah Bould of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that it would seem “politically unrealistic” to expect the UK to pass legislation giving effect to the UPC Agreement if its participation in the UPC and unitary patent system was not guaranteed to continue after the country leaves the EU.

Bould was commenting after Benoît Battistelli, president of the European Patent Office (EPO), suggested that if the UK ratified the UPC Agreement before leaving the EU it could be allowed to continue its participate in the new system after its exit from the trading bloc. He suggested, though, that continued participation post-Brexit would be subject to the outcome of negotiation between the UK and EU countries.

[...]

“The UK’s participation in the new patent system is a major part of its attraction, and its involvement was a factor in the decision that London should host a branch of the Central Division of the UPC. That said, subject to a possible amendment of Article 89 of the UPC Agreement, the Agreement is worded in a way which makes it legally possible for the UPC framework to continue without UK involvement,” he said.

One problem with all of these articles is that their authors speak to patent lawyers rather than actual stakeholders in the industry. As UPC is a Trojan horse for software patents in Europe, expect many software companies to oppose it strongly. Published a short while ago was some UPC promotion from Jane Lambert, a longtime UPC booster. She wrote:

Patents are granted for the UK by the Intellectual Property Office (“IPO”) pursuant to the Patents Act 1977 and the European Patent Office (“EPO”) pursuant to the EPC. There is not yet such a thing as an EU patent but there is an agreement to set up a Unified Patent Court (“the UPC agreement”) and legislation to permit the EPO to grant patents for the territories of most of the member states of the EU including the UK, France and Germany to be known as unitary patents.

[...]

As Parliament has already enacted legislation to enable the Secretary of State to ratify the UPC Agreement and the statutory instrument giving effect to ratification has already been drafted (see The Draft Patents (European Patent with Unitary Effect and Unified Patent Court) Order 2016 10 March 2016) it is also possible that the unitary patent and Unified Patent Court will come into being before the UK leaves the EU. However, the UK would cease to be party to the UPC Agreement upon our departure since the Agreement is open only to EU member states.

[...]

The only intellectual property right affecting the software industry that would actually cease to apply to the UK upon our departure would be the EU trade mark. The courts in the UK that have been designated EU trade mark courts will lose their jurisdiction over EU trade mark matters. However, registrations under the Trade Marks Act 1994 would be unaffected and EU trade marks would continue to apply to the rest of the EU.

It doesn’t matter how much these patent law firms try to promote the UPC, Brexit is a real slap on their face. Days ago the EPO’s Twitter account again promoted the dead/dying UPC using Battistelli's lies and lobbying in Munich. Are they not even trying to hide their meddling in political and legislative matters? What has the EPO become, a think tank?

“UK ratification of the UPC is what everybody else is begging the UK to do,” says this new comment, but it’s a lie. Team UPC begs for it, but it’s not what people in the UK beg for (they don’t even know what it is and probably never heard about it, due to the secrecy). Here is the full comment:

Good argument from Millipede. UK ratification improves the negotiating position of the UK, trying to squeeze a good “deal” out of the EU as it negotiates its exit. Who in the UK could be against that?

Further, UK ratification of the UPC is what everybody else is begging the UK to do. The work’s been done already. A prime ministerial nod is all it now needs, I am told

Theresa May is a woman who does the right thing, rather than just court popularity. Just the right person needed now.

So Theresa, hold back on Art 50 by all means but, if you care about the UK’s reputation in the world, screw your courage to the sticking place and get on and ratify the UPC. There is no reason not to, and every reason positively to do so.

In time for May becoming our Prime Minister one person wrote:

But with time limited after Art 50 notification, might not it be to May’s benefit to hold off on ratifying the UPC in return for some other concession? Joining and then (messily) leaving serves her no purpose but eases everyone else’s interests so is a good bargaining tool. Why give it up a pawn for free straight off when you have bigger treaties to negotiate from weak positions?

Calling/urging the UPC propagandists to just accept the reality, “A true European” wrote:

It is amazing to see how members of the profession are hoping for a quick ratification of the UPC by the UK or are trying to find ways to keep the UK in the system in spite of the Brexit. Thinking of bringing back remaining non EU- member states in the UPC is simply laughable. EPLA is dead as dead can be.

Millipede’s contribution in this respect is revealing:
- the UK will have the advantage of the London seat of the UPC;
- the UK will have the advantage that once the system is started they will be considered indispensable for the continuation of the system (they are already deemed to be indispensable before the system has started), which will improve their negotiation position.

Having all the advantages but no inconvenient. That has been the UK attitude all along its participation to the EU. The presence of UK would certainly have been good for the system, but to come with the arrogance of being indispensable is going a trifle too far. Enough is enough!

The numerous attempts to salve the participation of UK at any rate is nothing more than a desperate attempt to try not losing the considerable personal profits the promoters of the UPC expected to make with the full UPC. It is clear that a UP without UK is much less interesting. But a Brexit is a Brexit.

Have those distinguished gentlemen thought of the mess their clients will be if the UK ratifies for latter leaving the agreement which is only be open to member states of the union? Probably yes, as it means more need for consultation, hence more fees. Cupidity has limits.

Does all those distinguish gentleman think that the UK parliament has nothing else to do than quickly ratify the UPC? Sneaking in some continued involvement with EU law in spite of the Brexit? I would like to see which explanation a MP will give to his constituency at the next elections if his constituency voted in favour of Brexit. As any MP wants to regain his seat, he would he be foolish enough to brave the opinion of his voters in this respect. A quick ratification is no more than wishful thinking.

Art 87(2) of the UPC Agreement provides that the Administrative Committee may amend this Agreement to bring it into line with an international treaty relating to patents or Union law. The amendments to the Agreement envisaged are of administrative nature, and said committee cannot take decisions which are of political nature. Amending Art 84 to sneak UK in is not in the competence of the Administrative Committee. Art 87(3) Agreement provides a protection mechanism should the Administrative Committee take decisions on a political level.

Instead of running after something which has gone, it would be wiser to put energy in saving what is left from the UP/UPC once UK has gone, but then to look at the matter with fresh eyes. The matter should be simplified and the influence of common law should be thrown overboard. After all, UK has left and the continent is not an area relying on common law.

“If the UK is to ratify now,” wrote the following person, “it will be a total mess later on.” Well, then forget about it and never ratify it. British people don’t need it and if they knew more about it, they would not want it either. Here is the full comment:

If the UK is to ratify now, it will be a total mess later on.
Just think of the unitary effect scope when the two years delay will lapse should no agreement be found ? Remember how Serbia and Montenegro separated ? Patentee had to register their former patent to the Montenegro IP office. One could expect that a unitary patent territorial scope be reduced when the UK formally leaves EU, but will it be. Then, hopefully some UK laws would provide for a similar registration at UK IPO (and what about Scotland if a Scottish IP Office is enacted at some point ?). Overall, the british parlement might spend the next two years just adapting all laws to the Brexit. No need to add special legislations for a short lived unitary patent. UK courts would not have juridiction on former unitary patent over the UPC countries territories. Conversely, UPC would not have jurisdiction for former unitary patents over the UK territories. What about pending actions before the UPC Court of first instance in the London section and in other UPC countries ? and before the Court of appeal in Luxembourg ? Think of the clause “as an object of property” if the first applicant is from UK: then, the unitary patent applicable law would change upon the UK leaving with German law applying in a number of instances. This might be bad news for international company having their UK subsidiary applying for EP patents.
If the UK ratifies, it would be such a mess that no one (whether UK applicant or non-UK applicant) would ask for the unitary effect until the UK has formally left EU. Even EP patent bundles might be at risk unless you opt out.
Fortunately, this will not happen because the German will not deposit their accession up until the UK has left EU. Germans are not likely to gamble the whole European patent system on Brexit issues.
EU has to immunize itself from future inescapable UK laws and endless court actions up to the House of Lords. Just think of the SPCs legislation and the european first marketing authorization.

Recalling the European Patent Convention (EPC), one person noted the following:

And there was me, thinking about the 1973 European Patent Convention, a beautifully simple and rigorous model law of patents that has since then swept the world and has been adopted, more or less verbatim, all over the world. It came out of a fusion of (mainly) German and English patent law principles. What a shame, that Europe is no longer a beacon to the rest of the world, about how to live together in harmony.

English common law fact-finding has a role to play, in keeping litigants honest. Discovery and cross-examination are the only effective tools to stop parties in court from trotting out a string of porkies. How sad then, that a mainland European can’t wait to see the back of English common law fact-finding procedures.

“A quick ratification is just promoting uncertainty,” wrote the following person. To quote the full comment:

Do all those promoters for a quick ratification will honestly advise their clients to go along with the UPC knowing well that the Brexit is looming and will have presently unknown consequences? Please let’s be serious and look a bit further than the end of one’s own purse strings.

One thing investors hate is uncertainty. A quick ratification is just promoting uncertainty. The hope of finding some legal trick to keep UK in the UPC, or even bringing in further non-EU members, is not to be taken seriously. What has to be envisaged is anything but a “minor” reform of the UPC agreement.

Should UK ratify, it still would need Germany to ratify for it to enter into force. Nothing more is certain. Do you think they are so stupid to give an ace away just to please the profession? Such an ace is as well a bargaining option, but for the other side. This fact seems have been forgotten.

Should the UPC start in 2017 with UK in it, the only direct effect would be a high rate of opt-out, probably near 100%. No sensible patent owner would embark on such an adventure. The UPC might be in force, but with no or very little effect. Has any of those vehement promoters of quick ratification ever thought of this?

Sorry for Max Drei and Millipede, Brexit is there, and that’s it. I have rarely seen so much cynicism and selfishness being expressed in this blog. As another blogger said, all the advantages but no inconvenient…

To paraphrase Max Drei: dear Angela do not ratify the UPC before the Brexit has taken place. Do not give this ace away to Teresa. It would just bring about a big mess.

“Back to the drawing board I am afraid,” the following commenter wrote:

Some of the suggestions here are laughable. A quick ratification from the UK to get the system up and running, with the option then of the UK leaving the system in due course (as per Millipede’s “win-win”)? I don’t think so.

Someone seems to have forgotten that the UPC is not simply a playground for patent litigators, it is a venue for companies to resolve their disputes. No major patent holder is going to leave its patents in the system under these circumstances. Thus, if everyone opts out, the system is going to be (using the phrase used by a commentator on an earlier post) an ex-parrot from the day it is born.

Back to the drawing board I am afraid….

One person spoke about the imperative of Brexit:

Let us hope that “Brexit means Brexit” is good old fashioned UK politics in which success is like rowing, staring fixed.in one direction while moving rapidly in the opposite.

Even if this is a vain hope: law is a servant, not a master, and given political will, much can be made possible.

Attacks on UPC sceptics came from “Anonymous” (probably an aggressive patent prosecutor) and several other offensive or inane comments will hereon be omitted to improve the signal-to-noise ratio. Basically, patent lawyers who invested a lot in UPC transitions don’t want to see it go away (Bristows for example), as if the public doesn’t count and they deserve their ‘toys’ no matter the circumstances (and Brexit). Speaking ‘on behalf’ (i.e. hijacking the voices) of SMEs and the British industry is a very dirty tactic. One person wrote about “the “pro-UPC” commentators” as follows:

I do not think that the “pro-UPC” commentators here are necessarily motivated (solely) by the thought of future profits. Remember, there will be many in the IP profession who will have invested considerable amounts of time and effort (as well as resources) in preparing the way for the advent of the UPC. Not wanting to see all of that go to waste is surely an understandable emotion, so let’s not cast aspersions where none are really necessary.

Having said all of that, I have to say that I view the proposals for saving the UPC as akin to grasping at straws. Perhaps not completely hopeless, but not all that far from it.

It is certainly sad that yet another attempt at “harmonising” patent litigation in Europe looks set to be consigned to the waste bin of history. Nevertheless, at least from my perspective, there are some silver linings. Foremost amongst these is the possibility to re-open the issue of harmonisation of national patent laws. One of the biggest failings of the current UPC Agreement (and associated EU Regulations) is the fact that it leaves too many issues open with regard to applicable laws (for infringement and other matters). This can only lead to the kind of uncertainty that litigants so dislike.

From this perspective, those who are truly interested in a harmonised patent litigation system across Europe really ought to grasp with both hands the opportunity presented by Brexit (to properly address the issue of harmonisation of national laws). There will no doubt be political hurdles to overcome, but it is surely worthwhile taking on those challenges to secure a noble objective, namely the delivery of a robust and harmonised patent litigation system.

Is there anyone out there who is up for the challenge?

A patent attorney, who is regularly commenting in this site, wrote: “Lots of discussion on what companies will do – mainly from the point of those in the profession.”

Well, it’s a coup, so interests of SMEs do not count, even if they all generally oppose the UPC [1, 2] for good reasons. It’s almost as if it all boils down to money/earnings of patent law firms, never mind the effects on the local industry (e.g. abuse by patent trolls). The following comment spoke about this:

Lots of discussion on what companies will do – mainly from the point of those in the profession.

What drives companies’ decisions? Money.

The unitary patent provides a significant value for money option whether the UK is inside or not.

The UPC provides significant extra power over having to separately litigate in each country.

Even if the UK has to leave on the worst possible terms [no membership of the UPC, no membership of the unitary patent]:-
- does anyone believe the UK will not provide transitional provisions to ensure continued effect of unitary patents in the UK either by unilateral extension (unlikely) or deemed resumption of national effect of the European patent (more likely)?
- does anyone believe the UK will not provide for suitable transitional provisions for cases underway at the UPC?

Contrary to the impression given by recent events in the UK, politicians are not blind to money either. Something that is good for industry (and cannot be characterised as tax dodging) attracts political attention. This applies whether it is the UK government seeking to assist UK industry by having the UPC (and particularly the UP) open as soon as possible – or the German government seeking to reduce costs for German companies doing business in the UK.

The money says ratify. Will the politicians listen?

Where there’s a will, there’s a way: and where there is wonga, there is will.

“UPC may be good for big industry in or outside Europe, but certainly not for European SMEs,” another person wrote. Here is the full comment:

I have always been told that the UPC has been set up for the benefit of European Industry and especially it’s SME’s. UPC may be good for big industry in or outside Europe, but certainly not for European SME’s. The best proof of this is the idea to create an insurance in case of litigation for European SME’s, which by the way still needs to be put together.

It is interesting to see now that the prime beneficiary will be, inter alia, US SME’s. And for sure they will chose to be represented by UK lawyers and representatives for a large part. When this is not an incentive to push the UPC in UK for its own benefit, then nothing will ever be an incentive. As already said by another blogger, cupidity has limits.

I agree that the fears expressed towards the UPC remind one of the fears raised before the opening of the EPO. But this fear bears no relationship whatsoever with the Brexit. Please do not confuse the issues.

In any case, in view of the solid national traditions and the way some mock UPC trials proceeded, the biggest role will be for the Court of Appeal of the UPC in order to harmonise those different national approaches. In any local court with two judges from the same country this is bound to happen. Not in the Central division, but then with the Brexit why should there be a division in London? The answer is simply no. All the advantages and not any inconvenient……

One commenter said if there is a political will, there is a way: should the UPC have to be renegotiated, this does not mean that it will never be possible to come to an agreement. It could be strapped from all the wrong things which presently have been put in the agreement. But with the Brexit, UK does not have to put its nose in it.

There are plenty of parallels/similarities between TTIP/TPP and UPC as it’s not about what’s good for the population or even businesses, just mega-corporations (usually foreign). “I work for a mutlinational company,” the following commenter wrote, “so luckily, our US comrades will received advice from within Europe that represents their interests.” Here is this rather revealing comment:

There is a big difference between the EPC and the UPC. Does it need to be spelt out? One system gives pan-European rights in one swoop and the other takes them away.

I work for a mutlinational company, so luckily, our US comrades will received advice from within Europe that represents their interests.

I have to say, I find the tone of the introduction patronising and xenophobic. but then I’m English, so I’m in the European minority.

“So a quick ratification is out of the question in my view,” another person wrote:

To be honest, do we not all overestimate the importance of the UPC in a Brexit scenario ?

If Brexit really happens, there is a long list of topics to be dealt with in negotiations and I sincerely doubt that the UPCA will be a “pawn” in this game.

There are thousands of issues more important to be negotiated. Law in general is just a part of those matters, IP is just a small part of the overall law package, patents a small part of the overall IP package and the UPCA just one part of the overall patent package.

I can understand that people having worked on this project for a good bit of their lives will stay optimistic.

But having already an EU project in IP, for which a solution needs to be found, i.e the EUIPO businesses, I sincerely doubt that anyone wishes to create another complicated “EU” project like the UPC with the UK leaving…

So a quick ratification is out of the question in my view…

Lots of attacks on the messenger ensued and here is just one which speaks about today’s meeting in the UK:

But, of course the Ah-No Nyms point of view as a German patent attorney is of no relevance. Of relevance is the political will in UK and remaining Europe. And in view of the politicians taking the decisions the UPC is already a main topic. For instance a government conference with British industry and other relevant circles has already been scheduled for Thursday, 14th of July. Maybe the UPC or better the patent package will be a cornerstone for the future economic relationship between UK and EU to avoid more damages from the referendum outcome than absolutley necessary!

“Our VCs wouldn’t spent a dime with the UPC even with the UK on board,” the following person wrote (obviously not part of Team UPC). “The UPC is dead in the water and all (academic) discussions are just there for saving face,” this person added. To quote:

Did you talk to any VC? Any SME? Anybody outside Europe?

Our VCs wouldn’t spent a dime with the UPC even with the UK on board.

Legal Security? Nope! – Does that mean we could loose the IP (=our investment) in ONE court that nobody knows how they are deciding (and by which exact rules)?!?

Really cheaper? Not unless you were suing in at least 2 countries.

Experinced Judges? No Brits, nobody who is or was employed at the EPO! Who shall fill in all the positions? In Europe nobody would want to have German judges sitting everywhere.

SPC? Don’t even start!

True European? Nope, at least Britain, Switzerland and Spain are missing from the “imoportant” or “big” countries.

South Korean colleagues were already asking on how to file national again…

So what money wants to ratify? Which industry?
Even Pharma was like “Well, we might test the sytem with one or two less important families”.

If one wants to promote “European Patents” cut the annual fees! They are what is responsible for the biggest part of the costs.

The UPC is dead in the water and all (academic) discussions are just there for saving face (and not having to confess to themselves that all that money and time was wasted).

“Trust me when I say that Pharm will not touch the UPC with a bargepole,” said the following person.

Trust me when I say that Pharm will not touch the UPC with a bargepole, irrespective of membership, location, or even tasty nibbles.

Those that say “we may test the system…” aren’t really part of the decision-making processes. Hence why they spend their time hob-nobbing at conferences on the UPC.

Only a fool would put their pharma eggs in the UPC basket, irrespective of the quality of the judges.

As we noted here in past years, the UPC would be especially attractive to patent trolls. No wonder publications that are funded by patent trolls (like IAM) push for the UPC. They can attack thousands of European firms in one fell swoop (low cost, no brand/name to damage in the process). What good would that do to Europe? This patent and litigation bonanza would be useful to patent lawyers, no doubt, but at whose expense? Here is another comment:

Yes I have spoken to those outside the UK – and found the greatest interest outside Europe to be from the USA, particularly from CFOs of small to medium sized companies who want as big a portfolio as they can at the lowest price.

Lawyers tend to be cautious, but those who control the purse strings seem enthusiastic.

I started as an extreme sceptic on the UPC/UP package, simply because there is so much that is wrong with it. A better system could have been devised, but a better system might not have achieved the political impetus for agreement.

However, by talking to some of those who control the purse strings, I have become convinced that there is a real demand. Buy four, get perhaps 20 free, is a message that stirs the accountant’s soul (if they have one).

Referring to “Meldrew” (an attorney), the following expressed similar views on why the UPC is not at all necessary:

I can second Meldrew’s information. Most of the US companies are happy to exchange having to go to several separate European courts (all of these unknown to them) to one central European Court (also unknown to them).
Also on a European level the interest for the unitary patent and the UPC is large and although some may choose to opt-out from the start, many will trust the experience of the UPC courts (which next to British and German judges will also have experienced French, Austrian and Dutch judges).

I further agree with Meldrew that indeed the UP and UPC system may have been better. But this was the best we could get it at this moment and along the way I have become convinced that it will be a workable system and better, much better than what we currently have.

The negativism towards the UP and UPC reminds of old times at the start of the EPC, when everybody was negative and wanted to keep with the old national system. Or, if you want a stronger comparison, at the time of the introcution of the car or the train or any technological development. People tend to be quite conformistic and don’t want a change. I predict here, that if the system starts, after ten years everybody will say that it has been an enormous success.

Lastly, to come back to the above discussion on Brexit, or rather UPC-exit negotiations: to my opninion it is better to start the system as soon as possible and only when it is running discuss the exit of the UK. Otherwise we will run the risk that the whole UPC will be re-negotiated, which probably effectively will mean that it will be impossible again to come to an agreement.

The bottom line here is that the UPC is not needed (except for the sake of those who invested in its passage), the UK is unlikely to ratify it (because of Brexit at the very least), and UPC might never become a reality anywhere in Europe because it was drafted with London in mind and this whole house of card is now falling.

The unworkable, irreparable mess (or unmitigated chaos) which is now known as “UPC” was never designed with Europe in mind. It was designed with Team UPC (its creators) in mind. Time to abandon it and move beyond this defunct effort at patent regime change. The public now knows too much to allow it to pass behind closed doors by gullible and/or corruptible politicians.

EPO Management on Trial Tomorrow, But It Stated Upfront It Would Not Obey the Legal Ruling While It Rigs Its Own Rulings

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Law, Patents at 2:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO management even lies to EPO staff about its rulings, which are based on highly dubious proceedings

China and The Hague
Today’s news

Willy Minnoye caricature
February 2016

Summary: Hearings in The Hague begin (or resume) tomorrow, but whatever the outcome may be, Team Battistelli arrogantly reminded us that it would refuse to respect rulings from the highest court at The Hague, much like China’s government

THE links in yesterday’s daily summary (we posted two summaries yesterday) contain a couple dozen stories about China refusing to honour a ruling from The Hague. Maybe it’ll be a convenient subject for discussion on Battistelli’s next SIPO journey as the EPO too ignores The Hague, except when it comes to setting up branches near The Hague. EPO management is about to go on trial again (Supreme Court) and according to this report it will begin tomorrow. SUEPO is understandably quiet as preparations are required.

Lawlessness at the EPO has become the standard. Laws and rules are habitually broken (even by the President himself), external trials are snubbed, independent judges are crushed, and internal ‘justice’ uses bogus or fabricated evidence in order to implement anything the President asks for. Writing about the immunity of Battistelli, one person shared the following:

Indeed, no. He even enjoys more immunity than “us employees”, as he gets full diplomatic immunity according to the Vienna agreement… Even from his sending state, as all member states must accord it to him….

The president alone proposes the agenda, but the moment the AC meeting has started, the AC can amend and change the agenda. They can remove topics, add topics, change the order. But only with majority vote. (The AC approves the agenda.)
The topics as preliminary published and set by the president is therefore a mere proposal and non-binding to anyone.

“The president alone proposes the agenda, but the moment the AC meeting has started, the AC can amend and change the agenda,” says the above. But they quite evidently did not. Battistelli has managed to totally distract everyone from the abuses for which he and his goons come under fire from courts at The Hague. Who needs immunity when one controls the agenda of a meeting that only takes place 4 times a year? The game is rigged. Writing about the “outmanoeuvred” hypothesis (Battistelli manipulating the Administrative Council), one person asks: “Really? With only one vote against (NL) and two abstentions (HU, IT)? C’mon…”

This serves to show just how rigged it all was. They didn’t even discuss the pressing issues like Battistelli’s abuses and demands from Battistelli. Later on a debate developed around whether Battistelli got what he wanted or not. It went like this:

…the latest amended document isn’t perfect, but it is a million miles from what Battistelli wanted.

He’s presented three or four proposals over the last 18 months. Each time the AC has told him to go back and think again. That’s why it has taken so long.

Remember that originally BB had planned to ask the AC for a final decision way back at the March 2015 AC meeting. But then the controversy over the house ban of a BoA member blew up, so he realised that he wasn’t going to get all his own way. So instead of a final decision, he merely asked the AC for an opinion on CIPA’s suggestion that he should delegate powers to a new President of the Boards of Appeal. (Do you really think that BB liked the idea of delegating power to someone else?)

Further proposals followed, but weren’t good enough. Eventually, in February/March this year there was a huge bust-up, where the AC told BB that his proposal was still not acceptable, so Board 28 would tell him what it should say. Even then, during the June AC meeting they further amended what he had produced.

Of course, on each occasion BB’s PR machine has issued a communique on the AC’s behalf, saying that the AC was extremely happy with his proposals. But do you seriously believe everything you read in official communiques?

One person asked, “could it be that BB [Battistelli] is creating side-shows about issues that really do not matter that much to him” or distracts from abuses against his staff? Here is the full comment:

I fear that your comments rather reveal what I was most afraid of, namely a perception amongst some representatives to the AC that it is enough that BB has been battered back from his (apparently) preferred position on certain issues.

Let me be clear: avoiding an even more ridiculous alternative can hardly be counted as a “victory” if the outcome is still ridiculous. Also, has the AC not considered that, if BB were being particularly cunning, he might well make all of his initial positions so ridiculous that what ends up being passed by the AC nevertheless still gives him (at least) what he had secretly hoped for?

There is also the possibility of “sacrificial pawn” tactics. That is, could it be that BB is creating side-shows about issues that really do not matter that much to him, simply in order to ensure that he keeps a free hand on the issues that are truly important? Having to make some small concessions on minor issues is not such a high price to pay for ensuring you achieve your ultimate objectives.

I now understand more about how events have come to pass, but that additional knowledge has done nothing other than give me less cause for optimism. This is because my worst fears have been confirmed: the President really does control the agenda and is making fools of the representatives to the AC who oppose him. Also, with seemingly total immunity, it seems that the President really has nothing to fear… not even committing acts that, if judged under national laws, might land him in jail.

I really hope that there is someone out there who can figure out a way of fixing this, because I fear that there is worse to come for the European patent system if BB is neither jettisoned nor brought to heel.

The following comment said that the “latest outcome” is what Battistelli “wanted all along” as the appeal boards lost their independence (the EPO lied about it).

sorry but I can’t agree that the latest outcome is what BB wanted all along. I fear you have been taken in by his constant propaganda that the AC thinks he is wonderful and accepts everything he says.

All you can really say is that the AC could have done more on some of the issues. But viewed objectively, while the outcome is not perfect, neither is it favourable for BB.

The debate missed the point that Battistelli controls people by appointment now. The latest comment said this:

Can you really claim to know what BB wanted all along? I am not saying that I can either, but the point that I was making is that his tactics may be a lot more manipulative than is currently perceived. Perhaps, unlike me, you have not had your eyes opened to the fact that there are some individuals out there who will make a huge fuss (and fight tooth and nail) about an issue that really is of little consequence to them, simply in order to improve their negotiating position on other points.

From my perspective, the conclusion that “neither is it favourable to BB” just does not cut the mustard. I would instead have preferred a sane and sensible reform of (the rules of conflict of interest for) the Boards of Appeal – whereas the reform that we got does not meet either of those criteria.

Compromise is of course a very “European” way of doing things, and is no doubt essential in fora such as the AC. All I am saying is that just realise when you are being played – and when it is time to stand up to bullying behaviour and draw a line in the sand that shall not be crossed. Breaching provisions of the EPC and making threats to the EBoA really ought to have been such a line.

“Breaching provisions of the EPC and making threats to the EBoA,” as the above put it, are just two among dozens of Battistelli abuses. In tomorrow’s hearing only few among these will be considered by the court. If Battistelli was found guilty for only one of those dozens of abuses, he would not obey the ruling. That would only further embarrass the Office.

Links 14/7/2016: New Open SDN Platform, GNOME Board of Directors, Tor Board of Directors

Posted in News Roundup at 1:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Best Universal Package Manager for Linux?

    In fact, considering that Flatpak, Fedora and Red Hat’s candidate for a universal package manager, was rushed out a few days after Snappy was announced, it appears that the issue is not necessity so much as a corporate rivalry that is being played out in the Linux community — the last place that it belongs.

    Still, accepting the claims about universal package managers at face value, which one would benefit Linux the most? Some choice must surely be made, or the main result of trying to implement a universal package manager, as many point out, would be to replace the longtime rivalry between Debian and RPM packages with yet another conflict between competing standards, which would remove one of the main rationalizations for raising the issue.

  • You & Linux, Small Business Distros, FreeDOS

    The Linux Voice asked readers today, “How did you discover Linux?” Many of the comments are from those who started in the mid 1990′s or earlier. ComputerWorld featured an interview with Jim Hall who’s been spearheading the project to keep FreeDOS alive and TechRadar recommended the best distributions for small business. Elsewhere, the next Slackware will use UTF-8 by default and Dedoimedo said, “Linux is slowly killing itself.”

  • Linux User? The US Government May Classify You an Extremist

    Do you use decentralized, open source software? The US government considers you an extremist.

    According to leaked documents related to the XKeyscore spying program, the National Security Agency (NSA) flags as an “extremist” anyone who uses Tor or Tails Linux, or who subscribes to Linux Journal.

  • Desktop

    • Linux 2017 – The Road to Hell

      The Year of Linux is the year that you look at your distribution, compare to the year before, and you have that sense of stability, the knowledge that no matter what you do, you can rely on your operating system. Which is definitely not the case today. If anything, the issues are worsening and multiplying. You don’t need a degree in math to see the problem.

      I find the lack of consistency to be the public enemy no. 1 in the open-source world. In the long run, it will be the one deciding factor that will determine the success of Linux. Sure, applications, but if the operating system is not transparent, people will not choose it. They will seek simpler, possibly less glamorous, but ultimately more stable solutions, because no one wants to install a patch and dread what will happen after a reboot. It’s very PTSD. And we know Linux can do better than that. We’ve seen it. Not that long ago. That’s all.

    • Voice of the Masses: How did you discover Linux?

      For our next podcast, we want to hear how you got into GNU/Linux. Where did your journey begin? Maybe you saw it on the coverdisc of a magazine somewhere, or a friend recommended that you try it. Perhaps your company switched to Linux which encouraged you to install it at home, or you simply became so enraged with Windows that you had to find something else.

    • Ubuntu MATE, Pithos and the Sounds of Popcorn

      My trusty old Sony Vaio laptop has been saddled up with Ubuntu MATE for a little over a month now. For the most part, it’s running just as smoothly as it ever did on Windows XP — and definitely better than it ran with the lovingly installed bloatware that came included with it shiny and new from the factory.

      Upon the suggestion of FOSS Force reader Jeff, I invested in a recent upgrade of RAM that fulfills its maximum potential of a single gigabyte. Compared to its performance in the past, it’s definitely noticeable. But compared to my main work computer with a humble (by modern standards) 4 GB RAM, it can feel a little sluggish if I try to do do something unreasonable — like having two programs open at once.

  • Server

    • Xen Project Release Strengthens Security and Pushes New Use Cases

      Xen Project technology supports more than 10 million users and is a staple in some of the largest clouds in production today, including Amazon Web Service, Tencent, and Alibaba’s Aliyun. Recently, the project announced the arrival of Xen Project Hypervisor 4.7. This new release focuses on improving code quality, security hardening and features, and support for the latest hardware. It is also the first release of the project’s fixed-term June – December release cycles. The fixed-term release cycles provide more predictability making it easier for consumers of Xen to plan ahead.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Released DigiKam 5.0 and completely ported with Qt5

        The photos are organized in albums which can be sorted chronologically, by folder layout or by custom collections.You can tag your images which can be spread out across multiple folders, and digiKam provides fast and intuitive ways to browse these tagged images. You can also add comments to your images.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Board of Directors Announced

        This year we had 253 registered voters, 142 of which sent in valid ballots. Elections ran during the months of May and June, and the new Board was officially announced on June 18, 2016.

        The Board of Directors is a team of volunteers who are elected for a one-year term by GNOME Foundation members. The Board is an important part of the GNOME Foundation and ensures the health of the organization by working on operational and legal items that help keep the Foundation in order. It also helps to manage the relationship with the Advisory Board and promotes the overall well-being of the GNOME Project. This year’s Board has experience that spans the GNOME project including expertise in design, development, usability, and communications.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • GCC 6 & Mesa 12.0 Land In Tumbleweed, 42.2 Leap To Have GNOME 3.20
      • openSUSE Leap 42.2 to Ship with GNOME 3.20, KDE Plasma 5.6, Linux Kernel 4.4 LTS

        We told you last week that users of the openSUSE Tumbleweed rolling release operating system received fewer yet very important milestones of essential core components and open-source applications, and now it’s time to take a look at what’s coming to openSUSE Leap 42.2 this fall.

        While openSUSE Tumbleweed users are currently enjoying cutting-edge software releases like the LibreOffice 5.2 RC1 office suite, Mesa 3D Graphics Library 12.0.0, Linux kernel 4.6.3, the PulseAudio 9.0 sound system, python3-setuptools 24.0.2, and the latest systemd init system update, openSUSE Leap users will have a surprise later this year when the 42.2 major version is announced.

      • Systemd updates in Tumbleweed, Leap to have GNOME 3.20

        The last update provided on Tumbleweed was almost a month ago and a lot has happened since then.

        Besides the release of a an Alpha 2 for openSUSE Leap 42.2 and the five-day openSUSE Conference in Nuremberg, Tumbleweed snapshots have been rolling along with 10 snapshots since the last update, which highlighted the addition of GNU Compiler Collection 6 as the default compiler for Tumbleweed.

        The latest snapshot, 20160710, brought a major release for python3-setuptools to version 24.0.2. Systemd also added some subpackages and python3-numpy squashed some bugs.

    • Slackware Family

      • Next Slackware will use UTF-8 by default

        Besides taking security updates, Patrick already started minor changes in Slackware-Current which probably have big impact for users. The first one is enabling UTF-8 support by default in /etc/profile.d/lang.{csh,sh} script which are loaded by default and also in lilo dialog. It will not prompt you about UTF-8 anymore since it will use it by default and the kernel is already UTF-8 compliance. We will have less installation dialog in the next Slackware release :)

        The second change is mesa upgrade to 12.0.1. This is requested in LQ, but surprisingly Patrick approved it. Normally, current will not be active for some time besides security updates.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Fedora mirror at home with improved hardware

          It was always a dream to have a fully functional Fedora mirror in the local network which I can use. I tried many times before, mostly with copying rpms from office, carrying them around in hard drive, etc. But never managed to setup a working mirror which will just work (even though setting it up was not that difficult). My house currently has 3 different network (from 3 different providers) and at any point of time 1 of them stays down

        • Fedora 24 Release Party: Bangalore, India

          Over the past few months, many of us in the Bangalore open source community have focused our efforts of writing test cases for Fedora, organizing a few sessions where one can learn about testing, and how we can do things together. All this while, it has been fun: I’ve met new people, learned things, and realized that sharing even small pieces of knowledge and experiences makes it easier for newcomers to feel welcome.

        • FAD Kuala Lumpur

          Every year again, could be said if the budget.next not would enforce the Ambasadors to meet in summer instead of the end of the calendar year to come together and working on the budget plan for the next year. So after Singapore in December the APAC ambassadors came in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia again together. For me is the way to KL just one hour longer as to Singapore, but there is one hour time difference, so I arrived again very late.

          The first day was mostly for discussions how to cut the budget of this year so that it fits to the huge budget cut. Having 11.5k US$ budget for the whole year and paying the regional FAD out of it, means for the APAC region after the FAD and paying the media the budget is gone. The next bigger agreement was how to continue with FUDCon in APAC, if it is a good idea to switch to FUDCon APAC with an bi-annually cycle.

        • Fedora at FISL

          Today, july 12, was the first day of the seventeenth edition of FISL – International Forum Free Software, this event was my entrance door to Fedora in 2008 and in 2016 this is my seventh participation here in Porto Alegre, capital of state Rio Grande do Sul.

        • Saying Goodbye to F23 updated Respins
        • FESCo Elections: Interview with Stephen Gallagher (sgallagh)

          I’ve been a software developer working on applications and services for Linux-based systems since around the turn of the millennium. For the last eight years, I’ve been working for Red Hat in various software development roles. During that time, I’ve contributed to a number of open source projects; in particular: Fedora Server, the System Security Services Daemon, and OpenShift Origin.

        • You’re invited: FOSCo Brainstorm Meeting, 2016-07-18, 13:00 UTC

          For some time now, Fedora has discussed the idea of the Fedora Outreach Steering Committee (FOSCo), a body to coordinate all our outreach efforts. Now it’s time to make it happen!

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 16.10 Getting Nautilus 3.20 Soon, Radiance Theme Fully Ported to GTK 3.20

            We reported two weeks ago on the upcoming availability of a major GTK+ 3.20 / GNOME Stack 3.20 update for the now-in-development Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) operating system.

            At that moment in time, Ubuntu developer Iain Lane told us that he managed to port the Ambiance theme to the latest GTK+ 3.20 technologies, and that he also updated some of the GNOME components Ubuntu is using, such as the Nautilus file manager, and Baobab disk usage analyzer tool, along with the GTK+ port of Mozilla Firefox 47.0 for Ubuntu 16.10.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Free Tools for Driving an Open Source Project to Success

    How can you showcase the fact that your open source project follows best practices and is secure? The Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII) Badge Program is a free program that is good to know about on this front. Its Best Practices Badge is a symbol of open source secure development maturity. Projects having a CII badge showcase the project’s commitment to security, and The Linux Foundation is the steward of this program.

    Note that The Linux Foundation also has a collection of very useful free resources pertaining to open source compliance topics. For example, Publishing Source Code for FOSS Compliance: Lightweight Process and Checklists and Generic FOSS Policy can align your project’s development with best practices and policies.

  • 8 answers to management questions from an open point of view

    I recently saw the following questions on a survey about organizational management, and decided to answer them from my open organization point of view. I’d love to hear how others in the open source world would answer these questions, so leave some comments and tell us what you think!

  • IBM Forms Impactful IoT Partnership with AT&T, Focused on Open Source

    The Internet of Things (IoT) is finally ramping up in a big way, and many of the biggest tech companies are announcing partnerships. The latest two players to cozy up to each other are IBM and AT&T. They are in partnership to meld AT&T’s connectivity with IBM’s Watson and Bluemix analytics platforms. Via APIs and development environments, including a number of open source tools, the tech titans want to make life easier for developers focused on IoT.

  • How (and why) FreeDOS keeps DOS alive

    Jim Hall’s day job is chief information officer for Ramsey County in the US state of Minnesota. But outside of work, the CIO is also a contributor to a number of free software/open source projects, including FreeDOS: The project to create an open source, drop-in replacement for MS-DOS.

    FreeDOS (it was originally dubbed ‘PD-DOS’ for ‘Public Domain DOS’, but the name was changed to reflect that it’s actually released under the GNU General Public License) dates back to June 1994, meaning it is just over 22 years old — a formidable lifespan compared to many open source projects.

  • Where Open Source fits in New Zealand

    NZ Open Source Society president Dave Lane is a frequent and articulate promoter of his cause. He can also be a scathing critic of proprietary software.

    In keeping with the Open Source philosophy, his presentation from this year’s ITX conference is online.

    You can read the slides, or hit the S key to see the slides and his speaker notes.

    Lane’s presentation has a Creative Commons licence. You can copy, adapt and share the work to your heart’s content so long as you credit the author.

    It’s well worth a read if you need a crash course in Open Source. It also works as a refresher.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Next month’s Firefox 48 is looking Rusty – and that’s a very good thing

        Mozilla says it will next month ship the first official Firefox build that sports code written in its more-secure-than-C Rust programming language.

        The Firefox 48 build – due out August 2 – will include components developed using Rust, Moz’s C/C++-like systems language that focuses on safety, speed and concurrency.

  • CMS

    • How Drupal can save taxpayers’ time and money

      Providing web services for the government of one of the most populous U.S. states (Georgia) is no small task, but it’s made a bit easier thanks to Drupal, open source software, and the work of Kendra Skeene and the GeorgiaGov Interactive team.

      In her lightning talk at Great Wide Open 2016, Skeene explains the role Drupal and open source software play in the Georgia’s efforts to save taxpayer time and money.

    • Serious flaw fixed in widely used WordPress plug-in

      If you’re running a WordPress website and you have the hugely popular All in One SEO Pack plug-in installed, it’s a good idea to update it as soon as possible. The latest version released Friday fixes a flaw that could be used to hijack the site’s admin account.

      The vulnerability is in the plug-in’s Bot Blocker functionality and can be exploited remotely by sending HTTP requests with specifically crafted headers to the website.

      The Bot Blocker feature is designed to detect and block spam bots based on their user agent and referer header values, according to security researcher David Vaartjes, who found and reported the issue.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Health 3.0.2 patchset released !

      We provide “patchsets” to stable releases. Patchsets allow applying bug fixes and updates on production systems. Always try to keep your production system up-to-date with the latest patches.

      Patches and Patchsets maximize uptime for production systems, and keep your system updated, without the need to do a whole installation.

    • GIMP 2.8.18 Open-Source Image Editor Released with Script-Fu Improvements, More
    • GIMP 2.9.4 Released

      We have just released the second development version of GIMP in the 2.9.x series. After half a year in the works, GIMP 2.9.4 delivers a massive update: revamped look and feel, major improvements in color management, as well as production-ready MyPaint Brush tool, symmetric painting, and split preview for GEGL-based filters. Additionally, dozens of bugs have been fixed, and numerous small improvements have been applied.

      GIMP 2.9.4 is quite reliable for production work, but there are still loose ends to tie, which is why releasing stable v2.10 will take a while. Please refer to the Roadmap for the list of major pending changes.

    • Photoshop vs. GIMP: Which Photo Editor Do You Need?

      Just about every image you encounter in the world has been manipulated or processed in some way. Headline images, fine art photography, and advertisements all rely to some extent on image editing software. Many of these manipulations are so subtle that they’re nearly imperceptible: Slight cropping, adjusting contrast, and color correction are all standard procedures. Others are more drastic, like altering shapes and removing (or inserting) certain elements.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • This open source CNC system integrates high-tech automation into backyard farming

        This story might more properly belong on RobotHugger, but with its open source DIY approach to small-scale food production, FarmBot is worth a look.

        The old-school gardener in me is battling my high-tech early adopter side over whether or not this robotic farming device is a step toward greater food sovereignty or toward a dystopian future where robot overlords rule backyard farms. Sure, it’s easy enough to learn to garden the old fashioned way, on your hands and knees with your hands in the soil, but considering that one of the excuses for not growing some our own food is lack of time and lack of skills and knowledge, perhaps this automated and optimized small-scale farming approach could be a feasible solution for the techie foodies who would like homegrown food without having to have a green thumb.

      • Tropical Labs Offers a Powerful Open Source Servo for Makers

        Joe Church from Tropical Labs wanted low cost, accurate servo motors for a project but was unable to find the right parts for his need. The team began to develop motors and recording their progress on hackaday.io. The motor project eventually turned into Mechaduino, and Tropical Labs is running a highly successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the first run of production motors.

      • SiFive – the open-source hardware company

        Customisation periods end with ICs becoming complex and expensive and, at that point, standardisation comes in and returns ICs to affordability.

        Or that’s the theory.

        Over the years there have been many ways to bring the cost of custom silicon down – MPW, ASIC, P-SOC, FPGAs and, latterly, ARM’s offer of free access to Cortex-M0 processor IP through DesignStart which aims to deliver test chips for $16,000.

      • Open-source Bluetooth sensor beacon offers “IoT for everyone”

        Finnish startup Ruuvi Innovations has successfully crowdfunded the first fully open-sourced Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth 5 ready) sensor beacon. The device, RuuviTag, is claimed to be the only sensor beacon with a one kilometer open-air range and offers unlimited possibilities for makers, developers, Internet of Things (IoT) companies and educational institutions.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • ‘Abortion Is a Fundamental Component of a Full Spectrum of Healthcare’

      When a wire piece headlined “Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Law, Dooms Women to Substandard Care” is bylined Operation Rescue, readers are tipped off as to how genuinely to take the piece’s stated concern that by reversing a Fifth Circuit ruling that upheld restrictions Texas placed on abortion providers, the Supreme Court “relegated women to second-class citizens when it comes to abortion by allowing abortionists to evade meeting basic safety standards that are proven to save lives.”

  • Security

    • David A. Wheeler: Working to Prevent the Next Heartbleed

      The Heartbleed bug revealed that some important open source projects were so understaffed that they were unable to properly implement best security practices. The Linux Foundation’s Core Infrastructure Initiative , formed to help open source projects have the ability to adopt these practices, uses a lot of carrot and very little stick.

    • The First iPhone Hacker Shows How Easy It Is To Hack A Computer

      Viceland is known for its extensive security-focused coverage and videos. In the latest CYBERWAR series, it’s showing us different kinds of cyber threats present in the world around us. From the same series, recently, we covered the story of an ex-NSA spy that showed us how to hack a car.

      In another spooky addition to the series, we got to see how easily the famous iPhone hacker George Hotz hacked a computer.

      George Hotz, also known as geohot, is the American hacker known for unlocking the iPhone. He developed bootrom exploit and limera1n jailbreak tool for Apple’s iOS operating system. Recently, he even built his own self-driving car in his garage.

    • Beware; Adwind RAT infecting Windows, OS X, Linux and Android Devices

      Cyber criminals always develop malware filled with unbelievable features but hardly ever you will find something that targets different operating systems simultaneously. Now, researchers have discovered a malware based on Java infecting companies in Denmark but it’s only a matter of time before it will probably hit other countries.

    • 7 Computers Fighting Against Each Other To Become “The Perfect Hacker”

      Are automated “computer hackers” better than human hackers? DARPA is answering this question in positive and looking to prove its point with the help of its Cyber Grand Challenge. The contest finale will feature seven powerful computer fighting against each other. The winner of the contest will challenge human hackers at the annual DEF CON hacking conference.

    • Security advisories for Thursday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Are We in for Another Increase in Military Spending?

      At the present time, an increase in U.S. military spending seems as superfluous as a third leg. The United States, armed with the latest in advanced weaponry, has more military might than any other nation in world history. Moreover, it has begun a $1 trillion program to refurbish its entire nuclear weapons complex.

    • South Sudan is Not Africa

      This is not an article on South Sudan, which is just as well because the conflicts there are almost fractal in their complexity. The mini-war last weekend between the forces of President Salva Kiir and Vice-President Riek Machar, which killed more than 270 people and saw tanks, artillery and helicopter gunships used in the capital, Juba, is part of a pattern that embraces the whole country.

      [...]

      The real reason for its poverty, however, is war: the country that is now South Sudan has been at war for 42 of the past 60 years. British colonialists included it in what we now call Sudan for administrative convenience, but the dominant population in the much bigger northern part was Muslim and Arabic-speaking, while the south was mostly Christian and culturally, ethnically and linguistically African.

    • Ramstein: A Key Link in the Kill Chain

      As the U.S. military relies more and more on remote-controlled drones to kill people half a world away, one of the key links in the chain of death is in southwest Germany, the Ramstein Air Base, reports Norman Solomon for The Nation.

    • GOP Ups Ante on Clinton’s Israel Pander

      By inserting Israel-first promises in the Republican platform, GOP regulars challenge Donald Trump’s America-first policies and open a possible bidding war with Hillary Clinton over pandering to Israel, as Chuck Spinney explains.

    • Don’t Call Him “Bernie” Anymore: the Sanders Sell-Out and the Clinton Wars to Come

      The worst disservice Sanders has done to his supporters, other than to lead them on a wild goose chase for real change, is to virtually ignore his rival’s vaunted “experience.” He need not have mentioned Hillary Clinton’s Senate record, since there was nothing there; her stint as law-maker was merely intended to position her for a run for the presidency, according to the family plan. But there was a lot in her record as Secretary of State.

      As she recounts in her memoir, she wanted a heftier “surge” in Afghanistan than Obama was prepared to order. Anyone paying attention knows that the entire military mission in that broken country has been a dismal failure producing blow-back on a mind-boggling scale, even as the Taliban has become stronger, and controls more territory, than at any time since its toppling in 2001-2002.

      Hillary wanted to impose regime change on Syria in 2011, by stepping up assistance to armed groups whom (again) anyone paying attention knows are in cahoots with al-Nusra (which is to say, al-Qaeda). In an email dated Nov. 30, 2015, she states her reason: “The best way to help Israel…is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.”

    • In Attempt to Dodge Suit, White House Argues Funding War Makes War Legal

      A lawsuit filed earlier this year charging President Barack Obama with waging an illegal war against the Islamic State (or ISIS) was met on Tuesday with a motion from the Obama administration asking the court to dismiss it.

      In its motion to dismiss (pdf), the administration argues that congressional funding for the war amounts to congressional approval for it.

      The lawsuit (pdf) was filed in U.S. district court by Capt. Nathan Michael Smith, an intelligence official stationed in Kuwait, in May. Smith has been assigned to work for “Operation Inherent Resolve,” the administration’s name for the nebulous conflict against the terrorist group ISIS.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Koch Brothers’ Congressman Seeks To Block Efforts to Prevent Chemical Catastrophe

      Republican congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas, who represents Wichita, seems to be doing the bidding of the Koch Brothers once again: He has introduced legislation to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing or enforcing a rule to improve the safety of America’s most dangerous chemical plants. Wichita is the home of Koch Industries, which has been the most aggressive opponent of efforts to make these plants safer.

      The Obama EPA’s proposed rule, issued in March, is — in the opinion of former George W. Bush EPA head Christine Todd Whitman, experienced retired generals, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, community and labor leaders and many others — far too weak to adequately protect the public from the serious dangers represented by hazardous chemical facilities, which Senator Barack Obama once called “stationary weapons of mass destruction spread all across the country.” But at least the rule takes some steps toward requiring chemical plant operators to address the problem. And that’s apparently too much for Pompeo to tolerate.

    • Leaked: The strategy behind Shell’s low emissions PR push

      Shell is targeting journalists, policy-makers and millennials with a new strategy to position the oil major as a leading light on the path to a ‘net-zero emissions’ future, according to a leaked document seen by Energydesk.

      The document – a project brief for PR companies – outlines Shell’s aims for the communications project, which include:

      “Help ‘open doors’ in building relationships with key stakeholders in support of business objectives”
      “Build Shell’s reputation as an innovative, competitive and forward-thinking energy company of the future”
      “Brand perception and advocacy”

      The communications campaign, which the briefing suggests should include a range of interactive online media and events, centres around a scenario outlined in a recent report entitled A Better Life with a Healthy Planet: Pathways to Net-Zero Emissions.

    • Americans Are Becoming More Worried About Climate Change. Here’s Why.

      Another major public opinion analysis confirms that Americans are growing substantially more “Alarmed” and “Concerned” about global warming, while at the same time becoming less “Doubtful” and “Dismissive.”

    • GOP Subpoenas in ExxonKnew Probe Decried as Oil-Soaked ‘Abuse of Power’

      The GOP is amping up its campaign against those seeking to hold Big Oil accountable for climate deception, with House Science, Space, and Technology Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) announcing Wednesday that his panel has issued subpoenas to the New York and Massachusetts attorneys general and climate groups demanding information on their ExxonKnew investigations.

    • Republicans just escalated the war over ExxonMobil and climate change

      Call it a tit for tat over subpoenas, one that escalates an ongoing spat over what the biggest U.S. oil company knew and when it knew it.

      House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) said Wednesday his committee was issuing subpoenas to the New York and Massachusetts state attorneys general, who have issued their own subpoenas as part of probes into whether ExxonMobil misled the public and investors about what it knew about the dangers of climate change decades ago.

  • Finance

    • Article 50 and Brexit: Are Estragon and Vladimir on the move?

      Of the three appointments, the one which should worry Remainers is that of David Davis. It is a serious appointment. He was an outstanding Chair of the main Commons watchdog committee, the Public Accounts Committee, and a competent Europe minister. He is not a politician to underestimate.

      That said: there is the irony that, because of his genuine civil liberties concerns, he is currently suing the UK government at the European Court of Justice so as to enforce EU law. Not the most appropriate thing a Brexit minister should be doing, one may say.

      But what difference will the appointment make?

    • Are Obama and Clinton Counting on Republican Majorities to Pass TPP?

      Or should we ask whether the Pope is Catholic? Why else would President Barack Obama be so determined that November/December’s lame duck Congress, with Republican majorities in both House and Senate, vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)? And, why did Hillary Clinton and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s majority representatives on the Democratic platform committee block any opposition to a vote by the lame duck Congress? What else explains either phenomenon? Support for the TPP has always been majority Republican, despite considerable Democratic support in the Senate and Obama’s own unflagging dedication. If lame duck Republican majorities pass the TPP, Obama can claim his vicious, anti-worker trade legacy, and Hillary can take office without taking the heat. So much for Obama’s 2014 plea to get Cousin Pookie off the couch to vote for the Democrats.

      Horrible things often happen between presidential elections in November and the inauguration of new presidents in January. In 2000, in the final months of his presidency, Bill Clinton worked with Republicans to pass the Commodities Futures Modernization Act, the Wall Street deregulation bill that tanked the economy and allowed the banks to drive millions of Americans out of their homes. On his last day in office in 2001, Clinton pardoned fugitive commodities dealer and Glencore International founder Mark Rich, who had been on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list for years for charges that included buying $200 million worth of oil from Iran while it was holding 53 American hostages in 1979 and selling it to Israel. In 2008, as Obama prepared to take office, Israel pounded Gaza with Operation Cast Lead between December 27th and January 18th. The bombardment ended just two days before Obama’s inauguration. Then, on Inauguration Day, when all eyes were on the U.S.A.’s first African American President, U.S. allies Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Democratic Republic of the Congo again with U.S. blessing.

      So, why not ram through the TPP when everyone’s trying to get home for the holidays? Much as Republicans hate handing Obama any kind of victory, and much as Mitch McConnell, R-KY, Richard Burr, R-NC, and Thomas Till, R-NC, dislike exemptions that would allow TPP-participating nations to issue health warnings without compensating tobacco farmers, they might see this as their last chance too.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Wikipedia Is Shockingly Biased: 5 Lessons From An Admin

      Unless you’re one of those freaks with attentive parents and a good education, Wikipedia has probably taught you more than school and family combined. It’s society’s go-to source for knowledge, from settling disputes at the bar to cranking out term papers hours before they’re due. But as Chris, a veteran Wikipedia administrator explained to us, this is a problem. That’s because …

    • Western Propaganda for a New Cold War

      Western propaganda portrays Russia as the aggressor and NATO as the victim, but the reality looks almost opposite from the ground level, Rick Sterling found on a recent fact-finding trip.

    • A Perfect Couple: Sanders and Clinton

      So much for Mr. Sanders’ ‘progressive’ platform.

      Difficult as it is to say anything positive about the Republican Party, at least its voters thought ‘outside of the box’ this year. There was no decent candidate running, so rather than choosing some tired career politician, they selected a billionaire racist, homophobic, Islamophopic misogynist. The Democrats played by their rigged rulebook, and are about to nominate the quintessential Washington insider.

      Is there a lesser evil between these two? Hardly! Each, in his or her own way, will cause untold suffering at home and abroad; do nothing to assist those who are struggling; enrich their friends and associates, and leave a trail of blood and carnage in their wake.

    • In Campaign Against Venezuela, NYT Cites Former Member of Death Squad Alliance

      Even more bizarre is the Times editorial’s reliance on Paraguay’s foreign minister, Eladio Loizaga, a diplomat left over from the decades-long dictatorship of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner. The foreign minister is accused by Latin Americans (E’a, 8/12/13) of involvement in the hit squad operations of the World Anti-Communist League and Operation Condor.

      Loizaga, whom the Times apparently interviewed and treats favorably in its editorial (“We can’t condone any action that silences dissident voices,” the editorial quotes him), was an important Latin American member of WACL, an extreme right-wing organization incorporating fascist and Nazi elements and involved in murders around the globe.

    • The Entirely Fake Owen Smith

      Note “to pitch himself”. For PR professional Smith, political stance is nothing to do with personal belief, it is to do with brand positioning. On Channel 4 News last night, an incredulous Michael Crick pointed out that the “soft left” Smith had previously given interviews supporting PFI and privatisation in the health service. He also strongly supported Blair’s city academies.

    • Progressives Have Raised Expectations, and Democrats Have Fought Desperately to Lower Them

      When Barack Obama won the presidential election in 2008, expectations were high.

      What occupied the minds of the president-elect’s advisers, however, was not how to live up to those expectations, but how to temper them.

    • WikiLeaks cable: Boris Johnson’s career ‘defies the laws of political gravity’, say US officials

      On 14 July, the world was still digesting the fact that former London mayor and pro-Brexit conservative Boris Johnson had been assigned the role of Foreign Secretary in Prime Minister Theresa May’s new cabinet.

      That means, for better or worse, Johnson is suddenly the minister responsible for the activities of MI6 and GCHQ while also having to represent the UK in its numerous dealings abroad. The reaction, as expected, was mixed.

    • Boris Johnson is in charge of GCHQ and Twitter is …concerned

      The intelligence agency, based in Cheltenham, is the responsibility of the Foreign Secretary, the job Mr Johnson was unexpectedly given yesterday by new Prime Minister Theresa May.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • In Privacy Win, Federal Judge Rejects ‘Stingray’ Evidence for First Time

      For the first time, a federal judge has thrown out evidence obtained by police without a warrant using the controversial “Stingray” device that mimics cell phone towers to trick nearby devices into connecting with them, revealing private information.

      U.S. District Judge William Pauley said the defendant’s rights were violated when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) used a Stingray to figure out his home address during a drug investigation.

    • The Pokémon Fad Shows the Unnerving Future of Augmenting Reality

      On a recent summer evening, something strange happened in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. As usual, joggers zipped along the edge of Long Meadow and dog owners did their postprandial duty. But this time they were joined by a dozen people shuffling about haphazardly, zombie eyes fixed on their glowing phone screens. This ad hoc crowd was busy catching Pokémon, the virtual creatures at the heart of the latest, out-of-nowhere smartphone craze.

    • Visiting a Website against the Owner’s Wishes Is Now a Federal Crime
    • Appeals Court: It Violates CFAA For Service To Access Facebook On Behalf Of Users, Because Facebook Sent Cease & Desist

      Another week, another CFAA (Computer Fraud & Abuse Act) ruling out of the 9th Circuit Appeals Court. This time it’s the infamous Facebook v. Power.com case that’s been going on since 2008. When we first came across the case, in early 2009, we insisted that it made no sense. Power.com was trying to set itself up as a sort of “meta” social network, or perhaps a social network management system, where users could have a dashboard for all their different social networks. Facebook didn’t like this and sued over a long list of things, including copyright and trademark infringement, unlawful competition, violation of anti-spam laws… and the CFAA. Most of the claims went nowhere, but the CFAA and anti-spam ones lived on (because Power.com had systems for sending emails to users). The copyright claims were troubling, but the CFAA claims were the ones that concerned us the most.

      Of course, it’s taken many, many years for the case to make its way through the courts, and Power.com ceased even existing about five years ago. And the latest ruling is not just a nail in the coffin, but a potentially problematic CFAA ruling. While the court tosses out the CAN SPAM arguments, it does say that Power’s actions were a CFAA violation. It’s not as bad as it could have been, because the court doesn’t say that merely violating Facebook’s terms of service violates the CFAA, but instead narrows it slightly. It says that because Facebook sent a cease and desist letter to Power, from that point on it was on notice that it was not authorized to access Facebook’s servers. It was the move to continue getting Facebook user data that sealed the CFAA claim.

    • ‘Google, FB compile more data than NSA’
    • ‘Google, FB compile more data than NSA’ [Ed: This article is not just wrong but also inane and exposes author as unaware of where NSA extracts its data from]

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says Silicon Valley companies Google and Facebook now compile more information than the US’ National Security Agency.

      Speaking via a videoconference at the embassy of Ecuador in London, where he was granted asylum in 2012, Assange said the new global economic template was what he called Surveillance Capitalism.

      The Australian spoke during a Freedom of Expression seminar organised in Santiago by the Chilean College of Journalists that was celebrating its 60th anniversary.

      The cyberactivist said although the information was channelled through the two companies, the NSA still monitored the content and finally ended up “knowing everything”.

    • Agent’s Testimony Shows FBI Not All That Interested In Ensuring The Integrity Of Its Forensic Evidence

      Security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski has been picking apart the FBI’s oral testimony on the NIT it deployed in the Matish/Playpen case. The judge presiding over that case denied Matish’s suppression request for a number of reasons — including the fact that Matish’s residence in Virginia meant that Rule 41 jurisdiction rules weren’t violated by the FBI’s NIT warrant. Judge Morgan Jr. then went off script and suggested the FBI didn’t even need to obtain a warrant to deploy a hacking tool that exposed end user computer info because computers get hacked all the time.

      He equated this to police peering through broken blinds and seeing something illegal inside a house, while failing to recognize that his analogy meant the FBI could let themselves inside the house first to break the blinds, then peer in from the outside and claim “plain sight.”

      The oral arguments [PDF] — using FBI Special Agent Daniel Alfin’s testimony — were submitted in yet another case tied to the seizure of a child porn website, this one also taking place in Virginia and where the presiding judge has similarly denied the defendant’s motion to suppress. The DOJ has added the transcript of the agent’s oral testimony in the Matish prosecution as an exhibit to this case, presumably to help thwart the defendant’s motion to compel the FBI to turn over the NIT’s source code.

      Many assertions are made by Agent Alfin in support of the FBI’s claim that its hacking tool — which strips away any anonymity-protecting efforts put into place by the end user and sends this information to a remote computer — is not malware. And many of them verge on laughable. Or would be laughable, if Alfin wasn’t in the position of collecting and submitting forensic evidence.

    • Private Internet Access Leaves Russia, Following Encryption Ban And Seized Servers

      A few years ago, I got to travel to Moscow to present some of our research at an event. Having heard more than a few stories about internet access issues in Russia, before going I made sure that I had three separate VPNs lined up in case any of them were blocked. I ended up using Private Internet Access — which was already quite well-known and reliable. That’s my regular VPN, but I had been worried that maybe it wouldn’t work in Moscow. I was wrong. It worked flawlessly. But apparently that’s no longer the case. Just after Russia’s new surveillance bill passed, complete with mandates for encryption backdoors and data retention (along with a demand that all encryption be openly accessible for the government within two weeks), apparently Russian officials seized Private Internet Access’s servers in Russia, causing the company to send an email to all its subscribers, announcing what happened, what it was doing to fix things… and also that it was no longer doing business in Russia.

    • Tor Project Elects All-New Board of Directors
    • The Tor Project Elects New Board of Directors

      Today, the board of directors of the Tor Project is announcing a bold decision in keeping with its commitment to the best possible health of the organization.

      Says Tor’s Executive Director Shari Steele, “I think this was an incredibly brave and selfless thing for the board to do. They’re making a clear statement that they want the organization to become its best self.”

    • Tor Project installs new board of directors after Jacob Appelbaum controversy

      The Tor Project today announced that it has elected an entirely new board of directors, as the nonprofit privacy organization continues seeing the fallout from accusations of sexual misconduct by prominent former employee Jacob Appelbaum.

    • Tor Project, a Digital Privacy Group, Reboots With New Board

      The Tor Project, a nonprofit digital privacy group, on Wednesday replaced its board with a new slate of directors as part of a larger shake-up after allegations of sexual misconduct by a prominent employee.

    • In wake of Appelbaum fiasco, Tor Project shakes up board of directors

      New team includes Cindy Cohn, Biella Coleman, Matt Blaze, and Bruce Schneier.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ACLU Sues Baton Rouge Police for Violating Rights at Alton Sterling Protests

      Baton Rouge police showed excessive force when they arrived at this weekend’s Black Lives Matter demonstration in riot gear and bearing machine guns, the lawsuit (pdf) alleges. The officers also violated protesters’ First Amendment rights when they used “physical and verbal abuse and wrongful arrests to disperse protestors who were gathered peacefully to speak out against the police killing of Alton Sterling,” the ACLU wrote.

    • The Police in Baton Rouge Don’t Like It When Protesters Exercise Their Rights, So We’re Taking Them to Court

      The ACLU of Louisiana has filed an emergency order to make Baton Rouge police respect protester’s First Amendment rights.

      Since our very founding, the American people have taken to the streets and sidewalks to make their voices heard. Unfortunately, this week it’s the residents of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who have good reason to partake in this historical tradition. On July 5, 2016, a Black Baton Rouge resident named Alton Sterling — a man who had committed no crime — was tackled, Tasered, incapacitated, and fatally shot at point blank range by two white Baton Rouge police officers.

      The anger at Mr. Sterling’s death is immense. It is real. It is justified. And it deserves a voice.

      So in our grand American tradition, residents sought to make their voices heard, to speak truth to power about police use of force, to object to the death of Black men in police custody, and to say that Black lives matter. To do this, they spilled out onto the city’s streets and sidewalks — the very places which the Supreme Court has described as having “immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public” as the place to exercise our constitutional liberties.

      But it doesn’t appear that the law enforcement agencies in Baton Rouge care much for our Constitution, or for the liberties of its own citizens. Instead officers have shown naked hostility to the constitutional rights of the citizens they have a duty to serve. That’s why today the ACLU of Louisiana is going to court on behalf of community organizations like Black Youth Power 100 New Orleans, New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, and Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild to seek an emergency order to ensure that the police in Baton Rouge obey the Constitution. It’s not the first time an ACLU affiliate has stepped up to challenge the cops reacting to protests over police accountability — and while I hope it’s the last, it won’t be.

    • Was Hillary Clinton’s Email Hacked? The Case

      Hillary Clinton traveled to 19 foreign locations during her first three months in office, inlcuding China, South Korea, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, and a meeting in Switzerland with her Russian counterpart. During that period of time her email system was unencrypted. She transmitted data over wireless networks in those countries, networks almost certainly already monitored 24/7 by intelligence and security officials. To say her email was not collected is to say the Russian, Chinese, Israeli and other intelligence services are complete amateurs.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Email Absolution: Two Parties, One Criminal Regime

      What was your reaction when you heard FBI Director James Comey announce to the world that the Bureau would not be recommending that charges be filed against Hillary Clinton over her handling of emails while she was Secretary of State? Did you do a humorous spit take with your coffee like some modern day Danny Thomas? Were you frozen in place like Americans were on November 22, 1963? Did your jaw hit the floor with your tongue rolling out like a flabbergasted cartoon character?

      Chances are you weren’t the least bit surprised that no charges were recommended. But what does that tell you about our political system?

      That millions of Americans weren’t remotely caught off guard by the exculpation of Hillary Clinton is less a commentary about American attitudes than it is a clear indication of the all-pervasive criminality that is at the heart of America’s political ruling class. And the fact that such criminality is seen as par for the course demonstrates once again that the rule of law is more a rhetorical veneer than a juridical reality.

      But consider further what the developments of recent days tell us both about the US and, perhaps even more importantly, the perception of the US internationally. For while Washington consistently wields as weapons political abstractions such as transparency, corruption, and freedom, it is unwilling to apply to itself those same cornerstones of America’s collective self-conception. Hypocrisy is perhaps not strong enough a word.

    • ‘Trustworthy’ Trump? Plagued by Email Controversy, Clinton’s Lead Plummets

      The race between the two presidential frontrunners remains too close to call in the final stretch leading to the two major party conventions, as new polling shows that Donald Trump has overtaken Hillary Clinton in key battleground states while her national lead has shrunk to just three points.

      A McClatchy-Marist survey released Wednesday found that in a head-to-head match-up, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is currently ahead 42 to 39, which McClatchy notes, marks the first time that support for Clinton has dropped beneath 50 percentage points.

    • FBI Agents Were Told To Sign A “Very, Very Unusual” NDA In Hillary Email Case

      The State Department restarted their investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails following the DoJ’s unanimous recommendation that Attorney General Loretta Lynch not pursue criminal charges for Hillary’s negligence in handling classified documents. FBI insiders now believe a deal was struck when Bill Clinton met Loretta Lynch on a Phoenix airport tarmac in June. Agents have also said they were forced to sign a document that went above and beyond the typical NDA signed when performing investigations

      When news broke of the infamous tarmac Lynch-Clinton meeting we said: “Well then, if Lynch says it was a completely random encounter with Hillary Clinton’s husband on a tarmac (admit it, that happens often to most people), and nothing was discussed that pertains to official business, then that certainly must be the truth.”

    • Hillary Clinton and Personal Honesty

      When FBI Director James Comey publicly revealed his recommendation to the Department of Justice last week that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not be prosecuted for espionage, he unleashed a firestorm of criticism from those who believe that Clinton was judged by different standards from those used to judge others when deciding whether to bring a case to a grand jury.

    • Is What’s Good For Facebook Not So Good For Democracy?

      Why the social-media honeymoon may be over for some activists.

    • As Cases Multiply, Officials Scramble to Stop Abuse of Nursing Home Residents on Social Media

      Iowa health officials recently discovered it wasn’t against state law for a nursing home worker to share a photo on Snapchat of a resident covered in feces. They are trying to change that.

    • North Carolina Bans Public Access to Police Dash Cameras

      What good are police body cameras, or police car dash cams, if the footage they record is off limits to the public? That question might best be posed to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, who yesterday signed into law a bill making that footage inaccessible to the general public, including everyday citizens who were recorded in the footage and might need it to prove police misbehavior. Despite widespread outcry, including protests and submission of a petition signed by more than 3,000 people, House Bill 972 received little opposition in the Senate, where it passed by a vote of 48 to 2 before the governor gave final approval.

    • Two Years After Eric Garner’s Death, Ramsey Orta, Who Filmed Police, Is Only One Heading to Jail

      Two years ago this week, Eric Garner died in Staten Island after officers wrestled him to the ground, pinned him down and applied a fatal chokehold. The man who filmed the police killing of Eric Garner, Ramsey Orta, is now heading to jail for four years on unrelated charges—making him the only person at the scene of Garner’s killing who will serve jail time. Last week Orta took a plea deal on weapons and drug charges. He says he has been repeatedly arrested and harassed by cops since he filmed the fatal police chokehold nearly two years ago. We speak to Eric Garner’s daughter, Erica Garner, and Matt Taibbi, award-winning journalist with Rolling Stone magazine. He’s working on a book on Eric Garner’s case.

    • CIA Director Says Next President Could Order Agency to Torture And It Might Comply

      CIA Director John Brennan said Wednesday that the next president could remove the restrictions President Obama has put on the use of drones overseas – and that CIA might comply with an order to commit torture.

      In April, Brennan told NBC News that the CIA would refuse an order to resume its torture program. But on Wednesday, speaking at a Brookings Institute event, he said he was just speaking on his own behalf.

      “If a president were to order, order the agency to carry out waterboarding or something else, it’ll be up to the director of CIA and others within CIA to decide whether or not that, that direction and order is something that they can carry out in good conscience,” he said.

      He added that he was personally opposed: “As long as I’m director of CIA, irrespective of what the president says, I’m not going to be the director of CIA who gives that order. They’ll have to find another director.”

      Brennan did not acknowledge that Congress last year turned Obama’s anti-torture executive order into law, explicitly banning waterboarding and other forms of torture — and restricting the CIA in particular to interrogation methods listed in the Army Field Manual.

    • The battle of the veil

      Last month, pictures of a young girl wearing a headscarf made with a newspaper pattern spread through the Iranian social media. The girl is in fact the niece of Iran’s jailed Green Movement leader, Mir Hussein Moussavi, but that was not the reason why the picture went viral. The newspaper pattern on the scarf was the front page of the newspaper that printed the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s pledge in 1978 as its main headline: “Regarding the wearing of the veil, there will be no compulsion”.

    • Wisconsin Court: Warning Labels Are Needed for Scores Rating Defendants’ Risk of Future Crime

      The court’s ruling cited a recent ProPublica investigation into COMPAS, the popular software tool used to score defendants in Wisconsin and in other jurisdictions across country. Our analysis found that the software is frequently wrong, and that it is biased against black defendants who did not commit future crimes – falsely labeling them as future criminals at twice the rate as white defendants. (The software is owned by a for-profit company, Northpointe, which disputes our findings.)

    • Empathy Alone Won’t Stop Police Killings

      Of course empathy is important and we should encourage it. But the president falls short; empathy alone will never end the regular and widespread killing of black people in disproportionate numbers. It’s a racist system, not a few individual racist police that devalues black lives and leaves us dead so easily.

    • How This Became the Era of the Gunman

      The war abroad and the war at home are both fueled by a fear of encroaching chaos — and it’s hard to miss the racist subtext.

    • Man Who Doxxed Dozens Of People, Engaged In Nineteen ‘Swattings’, Nets Only One Year In Prison

      The treatment of all things “cyber” by the government is incredibly inconsistent. Give someone a password so they can deface a website for 40 minutes and it’s two years in jail. Doxx, SWAT, and cyberstalk multiple people and the best the court can do is two years minus time served. The end result is one year in prison for Mir Islam, who doxxed multiple celebrities and politicians, as well as called in fake threats that resulted in the swatting of at least nineteen people, including security researcher Brian Krebs, who uncovered Islam’s doxxing tactics.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast Expands Usage Caps, Still Pretending This Is A Necessary Trial Where Consumer Opinion Matters

      As we’ve noted for some time, Comcast continues to expand the company’s usage cap “trial” into more and more markets. As a clever, lumbering monopoly, Comcast executives believe if they move slowly enough — consumers won’t realize they’re the frog in the boiling pot metaphor. But as we’ve noted time and time again, Comcast usage caps are utterly indefensible price hikes on uncompetitive markets, with the potential for anti-competitive abuse (since Comcast’s exempting its own services from the cap).

      This is all dressed up as a “trial” where consumer feedback matters to prop up the flimsy narrative that Comcast is just conducting “creative price experimentation.”

      Last week, Comcast quietly notified customers that the company’s caps are expanding once again, this time into Chicago and other parts of Illinois, as well as portions of Indiana and Michigan. Comcast recently raised its cap from 300 GB to one terabyte in response to signals from the FCC that the agency might finally wake up to the problems usage caps create. And while that’s certainly an improvement, it doesn’t change the fact that usage caps on fixed-line networks are little more than an assault on captive, uncompetitive markets.

  • DRM

    • A Call to the Security Community: The W3C’s DRM Extension Must Be Investigated

      The World Wide Web Consortium has published a “Candidate Recommendation” for Encrypted Media Extensions, a pathway to DRM for streaming video.

      A large community of security researchers and public interest groups have been alarmed by the security implications of baking DRM into the HTML5 standard. That’s because DRM — unlike all the other technology that the W3C has ever standardized — enjoys unique legal protection under a tangle of international laws, like the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Canada’s Bill C-11, and EU laws that implement Article 6 of the EUCD.

      Under these laws, companies can threaten legal action against researchers who circumvent DRM, even if they does so for lawful purposes, like disclosing security vulnerabilities. Last summer, a who’s-who America’s most esteemed security researchers filed comments with the US Copyright Office warning the agency that they routinely discovered vulnerabilities in systems from medical implants to voting machines to cars, but were advised not to disclose those discoveries because of the risk of legal reprisals under Section 1201 of the DMCA.

      Browsers are among the most common technologies in the world, with literally billions of daily users. Any impediment to reporting vulnerabilities in these technologies has grave implications. Worse: HTML5 is designed to provide the kind of rich interaction that we see in apps, in order to challenge apps’ dominance as control systems for networked devices. That means browsers are now intended to serve as front-ends for pacemakers and cars and home security systems. Now more than ever, we can’t afford any structural impediments to identification and disclosure of browser defects.

      There is a way to reconcile the demands of browser vendors and movie studios with the security of the web: last year, we proposed an extension to the existing W3C policy on patents, which says that members are forbidden from enforcing their patent rights to shut down implementations of W3C standards. Under our proposal, this policy would also apply to legal threats under laws like the DMCA. Members would agree upon a mutually acceptable, binding covenant that forbade them from using the DMCA and its global analogs to attack security researchers who revealed defects in browsers and new entrants into the browser market.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Sales Activity: MedCo, Helsinn, and the AIA

      In The Medicines Co. v. Hospira an en banc Federal Circuit confirmed the validity of MedCo’s Angiomax product-by-process patent claims over an on-sale challenge. More than one-year before filing the patent application, MedCo had hired a third-party supplier to provide three batches of the drug using an embodiment of the claimed processes. The question was whether this ‘supply contract’ constituted a commercial offer for sale sufficient to trigger the on-sale bar of Section 102(b) (pre-AIA). In the appeal, the Federal Circuit held that the supply contract was “for performing services” rather than a triggering sale. “[A] contract manufacturer’s sale to the inventor of manufacturing services where neither the title to the embodiments nor the right to market the same passes to the supplier does not constitute an invalidating sale.”

    • Octane: Malpractice Claims by Clients Forced to Pay the Other Side’s Fees?

      The first is that, for the first time, there is a “gap” (if you will) between zealous advocacy under Rule 11 (and other similar statutes) and the fee shifting statute. So, as a lawyer, I may be ethically required to do something that could result in my client paying the other side’s fees.

    • Copyrights

      • YouTube to the music industry: here’s the money

        YouTube and the music industry are frenemies of the first order, a mutually dependent couple that can’t stop bickering in public. The major record labels are currently renegotiating their contracts with the world’s largest online video platform, and so the war of words has been heating up of late. Today, Google added a fresh data point to the back and forth, announcing in a new report on piracy that its Content ID system has paid out $2 billion to copyright holders, double what it announced back in 2014.

        Content ID is actually at the heart of the music industry’s current beef with YouTube. The system asks copyright holders to upload a file, say a music video, and then tries to automatically detect any copies of that work which are uploaded by other users. The copyright owner can ask the system to automatically report, block, or monetize videos when it detects a copy, and YouTube has argued that the music labels almost always choose the last of those options.

      • Enoch Pratt leader Carla Hayden confirmed for Library of Congress

        The longtime leader of Baltimore’s public library system was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday to head the Library of Congress despite concerns from some conservative lawmakers about her past position on a law intended to limit children’s access to pornography at schools and libraries.

        Carla D. Hayden, the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library since 1993, will become the first woman and the first African-American to oversee the nation’s largest library. Hayden was nominated by President Barack Obama in February and was confirmed by the Senate on a 74-18 vote.

      • Good News: Carla Hayden Easily Approved As The New Librarian Of Congress

        Here’s some good news. After decades of ridiculously bad management, it appears that the Library of Congress has a real leader. Dr. Carla Hayden has been approved by the Senate as our new Librarian of Congress by a wide margin, 74 to 18. And that’s despite a last minute push by the ridiculous Heritage Foundation to argue that the Librarian of Congress should not be a librarian (and one with tremendous administrative experience). Heritage Foundation’s alerts can often sway Republican Senators, so the fact that only 18 still voted against her is quite something. Hayden was also able to get past ridiculous claims that she was pro-obscenity or pro-piracy based on people who just didn’t like the idea of an actually qualified person in the position.

        She’s an exceptionally qualified librarian with administrative and leadership experience. And while I’m sure I won’t agree with everything she does, it seems like a massive improvement on the previous librarian, James Billington, who famously resisted any kind of modernization efforts, and who the Government Accountability Office had to call out multiple times for his leadership failings. Billington was so bad that when he resigned, the Washington Post was able to get people to go on the record celebrating.

      • BitTorrent Launches Live Streaming BitTorrent News Channel

        The company behind the world famous file-sharing client BitTorrent is all set for the birth of their news network titled as BitTorrent News. Streamed on BitTorrent Live, the network will commence its operations at the Republican Party Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 18.

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