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Links 17/9/2016: Debian 8.6 Released, More Microsoft Layoffs and Dead Products

Posted in News Roundup at 2:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Good things come from projects that fail

    Without realizing it, I joined the open source movement in 1999 during the midst of the Kosovo refugee crisis. I was part of a team helping route aid supplies to local humanitarian organizations running transit camps across Albania. These are the camps that refugees often arrived at first before being moved to larger, more formal camps.

  • Monitoring open source software key for DevOps shops

    Open source software is all the rage, as the DevOps movement advances, but it’s important to keep track of it carefully for licensing and security purposes.

  • Elizabeth Joseph Talking Open Source Careers in Oman

    Sometimes we wonder how Ms. Joseph finds the time to balance her career at HP with writing, evangelizing Ubuntu and public speaking, along with an active life in the city by the bay. That she is an inspiration to open sourcers everywhere can be seen in this video.

  • HPE sells Vertica analytics, thanks to the growth of open source software

    HPE is paring down its software holdings, including analytical software in the Vertica line. A sale to Micro Focus is due to close next year.

  • Nextcloud and Canonical Introduce Nextcloud Box to Create Your Own Private Cloud

    Today, September 16, 2016, Nextcloud informs Softpedia about the launch of a new hardware product, the first in the company’s history, in collaboration with Canonical and WDLabs.

  • Canonical & Nextcloud Roll Out An Ubuntu-Powered Nextcloud 10 Box

    The embargo expired this morning on the Nextcloud Box, a device from the cooperation of Canonical, Nextcloud, and WDLabs for making it easy to deploy your own Ubuntu-powered personal cloud.

  • Canonical and Western Digital launch Ubuntu Linux ‘Nextcloud Box’ powered by Raspberry Pi

    Cloud storage is amazingly convenient. Unfortunately, the best part of the cloud can also be the worst. You see, having your files stored on someone else’s severs and accessing them over the internet opens you to focused hacking, and potentially, incompetence by the cloud storage company too. As a way to have the best of both worlds, some folks will set up net-connected local storage so they can manage their own ‘cloud’.

  • Run Your Own Private Ubuntu Cloud with the Nextcloud Box

    Most of us love using the cloud. It gives us on-the-go-access to our personal files, photos and documents, and helps keep our busy lives in sync.

    But loving the cloud doesn’t mean you have to love using a proprietary closed-off services like Dropbox, Google Drive or One Drive.

  • Cache in hand, Varnish cloud workload tuning goes one louder

    Content delivery firm Varnish Software has announced its Varnish Plus Cloud product — essentially, a full version of the Varnish Plus software suite that can be accessed via the AWS (Amazon Web Services) Marketplace.

  • Nexenta wins NetNordic open source storage contract

    NetNordic said it has recently chosen Nexenta to create a centralised storage repository for its customer base as well as for the company, as the operator and its customer base continue to grow. Nexenta provides open source-driven, software-defined storage, which offers extra data with compression turned on, a significant factor for NetNordic, said its operations engineer Sander Petersson.

  • Toyota, Open Source Robotics Foundation to partner on automated vehicle research
  • The scourge of LEDs everywhere: Readers speak out

    Open Source to the Rescue

    One solution to LED overload is going with open source technology.

    One Slashdot commenter going by the handle of guruevi uses OpenWrt: “You can reprogram any LED on your router for whatever purpose. Want them all on or off at the certain time of day or blink if it detected anomalous traffic.”

    I also got email from Dave Taht, who happened to recently write a blog post titled “Blinkenlights: A debugging aid AND a curse” (with the subhed of “Too many LEDs! Give me back the stars!”). Taht is a busy guy as director of the Make Wi-Fi Fast project and co-founder of the Bufferbloat and CeroWrt projects, though took time out to share some LED disabling tips in his blog post.

    Taht, like many of those cited above, has made his share of manual fixes over the years, using electrical tape and just plan moving devices behind things. Only recently did he start monkeying with software to solve his problem.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Healthcare

    • On the importance of patient empowerment and open source: A Medicine X panel weighs in

      Speaker Karen Sadler, JD, heartedly agreed that developing open-source software for medical devices is critical. She is the executive director of Software Freedom Conservancy, a non-profit organization that develops, promotes and defends open-source software. Her life was changed when she was diagnosed with a life-threatening heart problem and implanted with a defibrillator. “I went from someone who thought open source was cool and useful to someone who thought great open-source software is essential for our society,” Sadler said.

  • Microsoft Openwashing and EEE


    • Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup: September 16th
    • denemo Version 2.0.12 is out.
    • Libreboot Leaves GNU Claiming Gender Identity Discrimination by FSF

      A disturbing story broke this morning concerning the sudden action by the Libreboot project to leave the GNU project. I started to write “potentially disturbing,” until it occurred to me that no matter how this plays out, the news is disturbing.

    • FSF Says Firing Wasn’t Discrimatory [Ed: There are a lot of examples of sexism, homophobia and other abuse inside Microsoft and Apple but unlike FOSS communities they hide it. Here are examples of Microsoft sexism [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and Microsoft homophobia [1, 2, 3]

      Friday afternoon after we published our report, Richard Stallman, founder and president of FSF, posted a brief, unofficial statement in an email to the thread around Rowe’s email. “The dismissal of the staff person was not because of her gender,” he said. “Her gender now is the same as it was when we hired her. It was not an issue then, and it is not an issue now.”

    • FSF, RMS Issue Statements Over Libreboot’s Accusations
    • Leaked Apple emails reveal employees’ complaints about sexist, toxic work environment [Ed: apropos the above and new report, too]

      Danielle* didn’t expect her workday to begin with her male coworkers publicly joking about rape.

      Danielle is an engineer at Apple — and like many of the women in the company, she works on a male-dominated team. On a Tuesday morning in July, when men on her team began to joke that an office intruder was coming to rape everybody, Danielle decided to speak out about what she described as the “very toxic atmosphere” created by jokes about violent sexual assault.

      The coworker who first made the joke apologized, repeatedly assuring her that something like this wouldn’t happen again. But his assurances did little to instill confidence. This wasn’t the first time Danielle had allegedly seen something like this happen on her team, nor was it the first time she complained that the office culture at Apple was, in her words, toxic. Despite repeated formal complaints to her manager, Danielle said, nothing ever changed.

      But this rape joke was the final straw. The next day, Danielle escalated her complaint about the offense to the very top: Apple CEO Tim Cook.

    • Happy Software Freedom Day!

      And today is the 13th edition of Software Freedom Day! We wish you all a great day talking to people and discovering (or making them discovery) the benefits and joys of running Free Software. As usual we have a map where you can find all the events in your area. Should you just discover about SFD today and want to organize an event it is never too late. While the date is global, each team has the freedom to run the event at a date that is convenient in their area. We (in Cambodia) are running our event on November 26 due to university schedule, other conferences and religious holidays conflicting.

  • Public Services/Government

    • EU FOSSA publishes core sections of its deliverables

      To promote the exchange of comments made by the Free and Open Source Software communities, the EU FOSSA project points out some specific sections of the deliverables he produced so far. By consulting these chapters, you have a more direct insight to what the project team consider as the most relevant information.

      Read more

    • LEOS – drafting legislative texts made easy

      While LEOS has been developed to support the drafting of legislation by the European Commission services (i.e. proposals for directives, regulations and autonomous acts), public administrations can download and adapt the code to meet their own specific requirements. The code is available under the free European Union Public Licence (EUPL).

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • PHP version 5.6.26 and 7.0.11
    • anytime 0.0.2: Added functionality

      anytime arrived on CRAN via release 0.0.1 a good two days ago. anytime aims to convert anything in integer, numeric, character, factor, ordered, … format to POSIXct (or Date) objects.

    • GitHub’s new features aim for business and open-source users

      GitHub, the popular code repository service, has to serve two masters. It’s well-known for hosting popular open-source projects, but it’s also working to acquire more large and small business users to privately store and manage their proprietary code.

      Those different constituencies sometimes need different things. But Chris Wansrath, the company’s co-founder and CEO, told the company’s annual user conference this week that building new features into GitHub isn’t a matter of helping only one or the other.

    • GitHub gets all grown-up with better code review, project management, etc

      The GitHub Universe event has kicked off in San Francisco, with a number of new GitHub features announced by CEO Chris Wanstrath.

      GitHub’s main product is a collaborative source code repository, which you can use on the public cloud or in your own private deployment. There are now over 19 million open source projects hosted on GitHub, with 5.8 million active users.

      The focus of today’s announcements is on project management and workflow. A new Project dashboard lets you create cards from pull requests, issues or notes, and organize them into groups such as Backlog, In Progress, and Ready.

    • JDK 9 release delayed another four months

      Oracle’s asking for more time to complete JDK 9.

      The chief architect of Oracle’s Java Platform Group, Mark Reinhold, took to the Java developer’s mailing list to say that while work on JDK 9 is coming along nicely “We are not, unfortunately, where we need to be relative to the current schedule.”

      The hard part of JDK 9 is “Project Jigsaw”, an effort to “design and implement a standard module system for the Java SE Platform, and to apply that system to the Platform itself and to the JDK.” Reinhold says “it’s clear that Jigsaw needs more time.”

    • Pass the ‘Milk’ to make code run four times faster, say MIT boffins

      MIT boffins have created a new programming language called “Milk” that they say runs code four times faster than rivals.

      Professor Saman Amarasinghe says the language’s secret is that changes the way cores collect and cache data.

      Today, he says, cores will fetch whole blocks of data from memory. That’s not efficient when working on tasks like big data, when only some of a block’s content is needed by an application that may want to work on only a few items across very large data set.

    • Node.js: Building Better Technology and a More Diverse Community
    • Open Source Mobile Dev Tool Onsen UI Breaks Free from AngularJS Dependency

      Monaca today announced Onsen UI 2.0, a UI framework and tools for building HTML5-based native mobile apps, is now JavaScript framework-agnostic, having broken from its AngularJS dependency roots.

      The open source Onsen UI is itself based on the popular open source Apache Cordova/PhoneGap projects, which facilitate creating native iOS and Android apps with one codebase based on technologies usually used for Web development: HTML5, JavaScript and CSS.

    • The Python Packaging Ecosystem

      There have been a few recent articles reflecting on the current status of the Python packaging ecosystem from an end user perspective, so it seems worthwhile for me to write-up my perspective as one of the lead architects for that ecosystem on how I characterise the overall problem space of software publication and distribution, where I think we are at the moment, and where I’d like to see us go in the future.


  • After 23 years, the Apple II gets another OS update

    You can test-drive ProDOS 2.4 in a Web-based emulator set up by computer historian Jason Scott on the Internet Archive. The release includes Bitsy Bye, a menu-driven program launcher that allows for navigation through files on multiple floppy (or hacked USB) drives. Bitsy Bye is an example of highly efficient code: it runs in less than 1 kilobyte of RAM. There’s also a boot utility that is under 400 bytes—taking up a single block of storage on a disk.

  • Microsoft Azure borkage in central US leads to global woes

    At its height, the fault affected API management, web apps, Service Bus and SQL database services in the central US region, and Azure DNS globally.

    Microsoft’s Azure status page has just now reported that SQL database is still affected in the central US region.

    As is often the case, however, customers noticed confusion with Microsoft’s messages, as Azure Twitter feeds and status pages seemed to disagree on the speed of recovery.

  • OECD report shows sharp rise in numbers of marginalised young men

    Finland is sixth in an OECD ranking of countries by the number of young men who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs). Some 21.1 percent of Finnish men aged 20-24 fall into that category. The number has leapt up in recent years, from just 12.2 percent in 2005.

    The figures are not replicated among young women. In 2005 13.9 percent of young women fell into the NEET category, and ten years later that stood at 15.4 percent.

  • Science

    • Innovation and its Discontents – Where are we heading?

      Nearly two years ago, Kat Neil wrote about declining public trust in innovation. It is becoming increasingly apparent that economic growth and innovation is not benefitting everyone, and that it needs to be addressed by policy and society. At the SPRU conference, a session on IP looked at clashes between intellectual property rights and human rights’ protection.

      An ongoing concern is the potential that the participation of low-skilled workers in production will be rendered obsolete. A dystopian take on this suggests that innovation in Artificial Intelligence (AI) will give rise to the Useless Class, a disenfranchised section of society with skills for which there is no demand. The potential social fall-out from this disenfranchisement is extremely unpleasant with a large portion of society no longer having a “reason to get up in the morning.”

    • Audi works with Chinese technology companies to develop intelligent cars

      German carmaker Audi has signed agreements with Chinese technology companies Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent to work on data analysis, internet connected vehicles and intelligent public transport.

      Audi China and FAW-Volkswagen – a joint venture between state-owned car manufacturer FAW Group and Volkswagen that makes Audi and Volkswagen cars in China – will work with the three technology companies on features for “the connected car of the future”, Audi said.

  • Hardware

    • Intel’s Chips Finally Find Their Way Into the iPhone

      The smartphone years have not been kind to Intel. The company ignored the transition to mobile early on, allowing ARM-based processors to take an early, decisive lead. Intel’s presence in pocket computers hasn’t just been minimal, it’s been practically nonexistent. That is, until the iPhone 7.

      Bloomberg first reported that Intel had worked out a deal with Apple in June, but now that the iPhone 7 has shipped, we have actual confirmation, thanks to a teardown from Chipworks. Apple may make its own processors now, but Intel’s providing an entire mobile cellular platform to the Cupertino company, the transceivers and modem that help put the “phone” in smartphone. For the first time, a flagship mobile device has Intel inside. Better late than never.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • South Sudan: Hunger, Shortages, and Hyperinflation

      South Sudan’s leaders stand accused of industrial-scale embezzlement, ripping off public money to fund property and business investments across the region. That opulence is in sharp contrast to what the vast majority of their fellow citizens are enduring, as they wrestle with chronic shortages and hyperinflation.

      Nationwide, food inflation hit a record 850 percent in August, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Some food price rises are 1,000 percent above the five-year average in Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal, the World Food Programme has warned.

      Renewed fighting in July in the capital, Juba, between the forces of President Salva Kiir and those of his rival-turned vice president Riek Machar contributed to the latest jump in the inflation rate.

      The fear the country would return to civil war sent the South Sudanese pound tumbling to the current rate of 80 to the dollar, compared to 15 to one a year ago. That is driving up prices in a country dependent on imports from its neighbours, including much of its food and all of its fuel.

    • Upholding Michigan’s Emergency Manager Law

      A task force in March found that emergency managers appointed in Flint, along with Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, were the primary culprits for Flint’s water crisis. The task force found the state’s actions “inappropriate and unacceptable.”

    • Court rejects challenge to Michigan’s emergency manager law
    • Bayer clinches Monsanto with improved $66 billion bid

      German drug and crop chemical maker Bayer clinched a $66 billion takeover of U.S. seeds company Monsanto on Wednesday, ending months of wrangling with a third sweetened offer that marks the largest all-cash deal on record.

      The $128-a-share deal, up from Bayer’s previous offer of $127.50 a share, has emerged as the signature deal in a consolidation race that has roiled the agribusiness sector in recent years, due to shifting weather patterns, intense competition in grain exports and a souring global farm economy.

      “Bayer’s competitors are merging, so not doing this deal would mean having a competitive disadvantage,” said fund manager Markus Manns of Union Investment, one of Bayer’s top 12 investors.

    • Bayer Just Bought Monsanto, Here’s Why You Should Care

      A giant company just bought another giant company, but if you’re not an investor or a farmer, you may not have noticed. Bayer—the aspirin company that also makes farm products like pesticides—announced on Wednesday it was merging with Monsanto, the massive genetically-modified seed producer that owns about a third of the seed market in the US.

      The $66 billion merger is the largest this year, and means Bayer now controls more than a quarter of all seeds and pesticides on the planet, according to the BBC. But what’s even crazier is that this is just the latest in a long list of big mergers of agricultural companies this year, meaning the options for where farmers buy their seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers are shrinking at lightning speed.

    • This Polish Law Would Imprison Women Who Have Abortions

      A girl raped by her own father will have no choice but to give birth. A woman at high risk of dying in childbirth or of carrying a dead baby will not be able to seek a termination. This will be the impact of new legislation to be debated in the Polish Parliament later this week which, if passed, would usher in an almost complete ban on abortion.

      On Sunday in Warsaw, London and other cities, protesters will gather opposing the amendment to Poland’s existing abortion legislation. The amendment aims to criminalize women and girls who have sought or had an abortion, making them liable to a prison term of between three months and five years. It also will increase the maximum jail term for anyone who assists or encourages women have an abortion.

    • Stronger Rx Than Obamacare Needed to Cover Everyone and Control Costs: Physician Leader

      “The Census Bureau’s official estimate that 29 million Americans, including 3.7 million children, still lacked health insurance in 2015, five years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, starkly illustrates how our inefficient, private-insurance-based system of financing care is fundamentally incapable of providing universal coverage,” said Dr. Robert Zarr, a Washington-based pediatrician who is president of Physicians for a National Health Program.

    • UN panel recommends stricter patentability rules and compulsory licensing to improve access to medicine [Ed: IAM protesting the UN's request that life should be put before patents]
    • Vegans, You’re Contributing to Antibiotic Resistance, Too

      There are a lot of different reasons why some people choose not to consume any animal products. The fact that we regularly pump our livestock full of antibiotics, significantly contributing to the development of antibiotic resistance, is one of them.

      But what some vegans may not realize is that just eschewing animal products doesn’t absolve them of any responsibility for the rise of antibiotic resistant superbugs, at least as it relates to the food supply. We douse our fruits and vegetables in antibiotics, too (though at a much, much lower rate than meat). Unless you strictly eat organic, your food is contributing to a problem that threatens to send us back to the dark ages of medicine, where every cut or scrape could be life-threatening.

      I point this out not to shame vegans, but to serve as a reminder. We are all contributing to the problem, and we’re all at risk because of it. Even if you keep a strict, organic, vegan diet, and never take antibiotics unless you absolutely need them, you’re not granted a magic halo of protection against superbug infection. You can do everything ostensibly right, and it still won’t stop antibiotic resistance. Paying attention to what we eat is part of the solution, but there’s more work to be done.

    • Antimicrobial Resistance A ‘Global Societal Challenge And Threat’, WHO Official Says

      Antimicrobial resistance had in the last decades emerged as a health issue, but only in the last couple of years has there been an understanding that we are facing a “global societal challenge and threat.” On a day-to-day basis, people worldwide are said to be driving resistance across human health and agriculture.

  • Security

    • Friday’s security advisories
    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Spies and criminals biggest cybersecurity threat

      The report shows that well-organised criminals focus on the use of ransomware. “Professional criminals have evolved into advanced actors and implement long-term and high-quality operations.” The larger the hacked organisation, the bigger the ransom demands, the cybersecurity experts conclude. Regular backups and computer network segmentation help to reduce the impact of such attacks.

    • 20 Questions Security Leaders Need To Ask About Analytics

      It would be an understatement to say that the security world tends to be full of hype and noise. At times, it seems like vendors virtually xerox each other’s marketing materials. Everyone uses the same words, phrases, jargon, and buzzwords. This is a complicated phenomenon and there are many reasons why this is the case.

      The more important issue is why security leaders find ourselves in this state. How can we make sense of all the noise, cut through all the hype, and make the informed decisions that will improve the security of our respective organizations? One answer is by making precise, targeted, and incisive inquiries at the outset. Let’s start with a game of 20 questions. Our first technology focus: analytics.

    • Trend Micro shows that Linux systems not so bulletproof against trojans [Ed: very low risk (must fool the user or gain physical access)]
    • Sixth Linux DDoS Trojan Discovered in the Last 30 Days [Ed: drama over something that must fool users]

      Linux users have yet another trojan to worry about, and as always, crooks are deploying it mostly to hijack devices running Linux-based operating systems and use them to launch DDoS attacks at their behest.

    • Yet Another Linux Trojan Uncovered
    • Secure Docker on Linux or Windows platforms

      With Docker appearing in businesses of all shapes and sizes, security is a concern for many IT admins. Here’s how to secure Docker on the container or the host machine.

    • New release: usbguard-0.6.1
    • Ransomware Getting More Targeted, Expensive

      I shared a meal not long ago with a source who works at a financial services company. The subject of ransomware came up and he told me that a server in his company had recently been infected with a particularly nasty strain that spread to several systems before the outbreak was quarantined. He said the folks in finance didn’t bat an eyelash when asked to authorize several payments of $600 to satisfy the Bitcoin ransom demanded by the intruders: After all, my source confessed, the data on one of the infected systems was worth millions — possibly tens of millions — of dollars, but for whatever reason the company didn’t have backups of it.

    • Web security CEO warns about control of internet falling into few hands

      The internet was designed to be a massive, decentralized system that nobody controlled, but it is increasingly controlled by a select few tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon, and they are continuing to consolidate power, said the CEO of a cybersecurity company.

      “More and more of the internet is sitting behind fewer and fewer players, and there are benefits of that, but there are also real risks,” said Matthew Prince, chief executive officer of web security company CloudFlare, in an interview with CNBC. His comments came at CloudFlare’s Internet Summit — a conference featuring tech executives and government security experts — on Tuesday in San Francisco.

      Facebook has faced a lot of criticism for perceived abuse of its editorial sway among the 1.7 billion monthly active users who visit the site to consume news alongside family photos and ads. For example, a Norwegian newspaper editor recently slammed Mark Zuckerberg for Facebook’s removal of a post featuring an iconic image known as the Napalm Girl that included a naked girl running from napalm bombs.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Obama, Pressing Senators, Delays Veto of Bill Exposing Saudis to 9/11 Suits

      President Obama is delaying a planned veto of a bill that would allow the families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for any role in the plot, hoping to tap into an unusual well of buyer’s remorse among senators who passed the measure unanimously in the spring.

      The measure sailed through the House last week after a surprise last-minute vote, raising the prospect of the first veto showdown between Mr. Obama and a bipartisan coalition in Congress. But an intense lobbying campaign by the White House and Saudi Arabia, among others, has cast doubt on what had appeared to be an inevitable override of the president’s long-expected veto.

      Officials have refused to say when Mr. Obama would veto the bill, and he has until next Friday to do so. His advisers are considering whether he should wait until then, after Congress is expected to recess on Thursday for the November elections, which could give him weeks to persuade lawmakers to drop their support for the measure before they return and consider the veto override.

      Already, cracks are showing, even among Republicans who generally would love to exercise the first veto override against Mr. Obama.

    • Every 72 minutes, a veteran commits suicide: Our view

      Many Americans have heard by now that 20 veterans commit suicide each day. Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump cited the figure at last week’s Commander-in-Chief Forum viewed by 14.7 million people, further raising the issue’s visibility.

      But a 46-page suicide analysis released by the Department of Veterans Affairs last month reveals just how swift this current of self-destruction is flowing, particularly for young veterans fresh from war. It’s a pace of killing unknown to most Americans and a source of national shame.

      A veteran is choosing death every 72 minutes, and the VA could be doing more to keep that person alive. When veterans manage to ask for help, too many of their calls are not getting through to VA’s suicide hotline (800-273-8255). The agency isn’t offering enough veterans the kind of cutting-edge treatment therapies that researchers are finally uncovering.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Government Again Shows Its Inconsistency On Punishing The Mishandling Of Classified Documents

      Mishandling classified material can result in a variety of punishments, depending on who you are. If you’re a presidential candidate, the routing of hundreds of sensitive documents through an unsecured, private email server might result in a few conversations with the FBI, but not in any criminal charges. If you’re a retired general, routing classified material to your biographer/mistress might result in criminal charges, but not any time served. If you’re a whistleblower taking your complaints to the press, you’ll likely see some jail time to go along with your destroyed career.

      And if you’re a Marine Corps officer trying to warn others of trouble headed their way, you’re more likely to be treated like Jason Brezler than Hillary Clinton, Gen. David Petraeus, or even former CIA Director Leon Panetta.

      Brezler is facing dismissal from the Marine Corps for mishandling a classified document — one containing information about an allegedly corrupt Afghan police chief who had already been kicked off a US base by Brezler himself.


      At this point, the Marine Corps is offering him an honorable discharge — a “thanks, but no thanks” for his attempt to warn his fellow soldiers about the long list of allegations against police chief Sarwar Jan. Brezler sued for full reinstatement as a Marine and the discharge has been put on hold pending a possible jury trial later this year.

      There are a handful of disturbing aspects of the Marine Corps’ dismissal of Brezler, not the least of which is its decision to ramp up its efforts to rid itself of him after it had been publicly embarrassed by a US congress member. It also highlights the absurdity — and danger — inherent to the military’s weirdly-selective non-interventionist policy: one deployed by an outside force playing World Police within its borders (decidedly interventionist) that draws the line at preventing the sexual abuse of minors on its bases by local officials.

      The decision to go after the messenger — one that self-reported his mishandling of sensitive information — shows the government, by and large, cares more about protecting itself from embarrassment than solving its problems.

    • Secret government electronic surveillance documents must be released, judge says

      In a major victory for journalists and privacy and transparency advocates, a federal court has started the process of unsealing secret records related to the government’s use of electronic surveillance.

      US District Court Judge Beryl Howell said at a hearing Friday morning that absent an objection by government attorneys, the court would post to its website next week a list of all case numbers from 2012 in which federal prosecutors in Washington, DC applied for an order to install a pen register or a trap and trace device.

      A pen register is an electronic apparatus that tracks phone numbers called from a specific telephone line (though the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act expanded the definition of pen register to allow for collection of email headers as well). A trap and trace device is similar, but tracks the phone numbers of incoming calls.

      For decades, court records relating to these documents have typically been sealed in their entirety, including even the docket numbers. Next week’s release, which is in response to a three-year-old petition filed by VICE News, will be a crucial first step in learning details about the electronic surveillance orders, and the beginning of a multilayered process that will ultimately lead to the disclosure of thousands of pen register applications dating back at least five years.

      Pen registers and other similar devices do not intercept the content of communications, and the government is not required to obtain a warrant or to have probable cause that the target committed a crime. Instead, a government attorney can simply obtain authorization by filing an application with a federal court stating that the information that would be obtained is “relevant” to a criminal investigation. The FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Homeland Security, and other federal law enforcement agencies have used pen registers.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Arctic sea ice coverage is at its 2nd lowest on record

      Mark it down, Arctic sea ice watchers: the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has (preliminarily) called the annual minimum ice extent. On September 10, Arctic sea ice coverage dipped to 4.14 million square kilometers (1.6 million square miles) before ticking back upward for a few days. While it’s possible that a couple more days of shrinkage could come along, that was probably the low point for the year.

      That puts 2016 in second place for the lowest minimum on record—statistically tied with 2007, which was within the error bars of this year’s data. The record low is retained by 2012, which fell to an incredible 3.39 million square kilometers. This continues the trend of marked decline observed by satellites since 1979.

    • Did lightning strike this 19th Century church in Newcastle?

      Stark white against the glowering blue skyline, a bolt of lightning flashes over Newcastle , narrowly missing the spire of a 19th century church.

      Thursday night’s thunderstorm had photographers throughout the city taking some impressive shots, and this dramatic view over the west end is one of our favourites.

      The church in the picture is St Stephen’s, in Low Elswick, a Grade II-listed Anglican church built in 1868.

    • Alabama pipeline ruptures, leaking 250,000 gallons & causing ‘fuel emergency’

      At least 250,000 gallons of gasoline have spilled following a pipeline rupture in central Alabama. Emergency responders are working to repair the spill, while Alabama and Georgia have declared a state of emergency due to possible fuel shortages.

      The spill, equivalent to 6,000 barrels, took place in a rural area southwest of Helena, Alabama, and was first noticed Friday. A spokesman for Colonial Pipeline said the spill has affected an area about two acres in size, Birmingham’s WBRC-TV reported.

      According to local media, the spill is located near Lindsey’s Crossing in Shelby County, about 28 miles southwest of Birmingham.

    • Indonesia dispatches nearly 5,000 firefighters to Kalimantan, after surge in hotspots

      Indonesia has dispatched almost 5,000 fire-fighters to Kalimantan as the dry spell continues across the western and central parts of the island, where hundreds of hot-spots have been detected in recent days.

      The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said on Wednesday (Sept 14) that it has deployed 2,492 and 2,363 personnel in west and central Kalimantan respectively.

      The group includes soldiers, policemen as well as officers from the BNPB, the Environment and Forestry Ministry, as well as local volunteers, said agency spokesman Dr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

      The reinforcements were sent in after satellite data from Indonesia’s meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency (BMKG) showed 536 total hot-spots across Kalimantan as of Wednesday.

    • Spain could be first EU country with national park listed as ‘in danger’

      A Spanish wetland home to 2,000 species of wildlife – including around 6 million migratory birds – is on track to join a Unesco world heritage danger list, according to a new report.

      Doñana is an Andalusian reserve of sand dunes, shallow streams and lagoons, stretching for 540 square kilometres (209 square miles) where flamingoes feed and wild horses and Iberian lynx still roam.

      But the Doñana region is said to have lost 80% of its natural water supplies due to marsh drainage, intensive agriculture, and water pollution from the mining industry.

      Spain now has until 1 December to declare Doñana permanently off limits for dredging and industrial activity in a report to Unesco, or face becoming the first EU country to have a national park classified as being “in danger”.

    • What the ‘sixth extinction’ will look like in the oceans: The largest species die off first

      We mostly can’t see it around us, and too few of us seem to care — but nonetheless, scientists are increasingly convinced that the world is barreling towards what has been called a “sixth mass extinction” event. Simply put, species are going extinct at a rate that far exceeds what you would expect to see naturally, as a result of a major perturbation to the system.

      In this case, the perturbation is us — rather than, say, an asteroid. As such, you might expect to see some patterns to extinctions that reflect our particular way of causing ecological destruction. And indeed, a new study published Wednesday in Science magazine confirms this. For the world’s oceans, it finds, threats of extinction aren’t apportioned equally among all species — rather, the larger ones, in terms of body size and mass, are uniquely imperiled right now.

  • Finance

    • Obama’s Last Gasp At Trade Deals: Lame Duck Push On TPP; And ‘Lite’ Version Of TTIP

      So, uh, that sounds good. Why do we need the rest of the crap that they’re debating, around corporate sovereignty ISDS provisions — especially since the entire basis for those kinds of agreements was supposed to be to encourage investment in developing countries. The EU and the US have perfectly decent court systems, so any dispute shouldn’t need a special tribunal.

      But, of course, those who have relied on shoving all sorts of pork and special interest protectionism through trade deals do not like the idea of a “lite” agreement that covers the officially discussed reasons for a trade deal. Why, that would be horrible! How could they continue to hide all the sneaky stuff they want to get in?

    • CETA Without Blinders: How Cutting ‘Trade Costs and More’ Will Cause Unemployment, Inequality and Welfare Losses

      The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is now in the process of being ratified by Canada and the European Union (EU). Like other ‘new generation’ trade agreements, CETA aims at further liberalizing trade, investment and other sectors of society so far protected from market competition. CETA is thus more than just a ‘trade deal’ and needs to be approached in its complexity, without blinders.

      CETA’s proponents emphasize the prospect of higher GDP growth due to rising trade volumes and investment. However, official projections suggest GDP gains of up to 0.08% for the European Union 0.76% for Canada. More importantly, all these projections stem from a single trade model, which assumes full employment and no negative impact on income distribution in all countries excluding the major risks of deeper liberalization. This lack of intellectual diversity and of realism shrouding the debate around CETA’s alleged economic benefits calls for an alternative assessment grounded in sounder modeling premises.

    • NAFTA burn: The Real Ford Escape? Moving its small-car production to Mexico

      In speech after speech, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has decried companies sending jobs abroad to low-wage countries, calling it a profound betrayal of the American worker. And despite having profited from his Trump branded Chinese-made cufflinks and dress shirts woven in Bangladesh, the real estate mogul has pledged to crack down on labor outsourcing if elected.

      But Trump’s threats have not discouraged American auto companies from setting up factories south of the U.S. and then sending finished vehicles north.

      On Wednesday, Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields announced further efforts to take advantage of Mexico’s low-cost labor force, telling investors at an event near Detroit that Ford would soon shift all the company’s U.S. small-car production to Mexico by 2018.

    • $100 Million Awarded in Contest to Rethink U.S. High Schools

      An organization announced on Wednesday that it had chosen the winners of $10 million grants in a competition to rethink the American high school.

      The organization — the XQ Institute, which is backed by Laurene Powell Jobs — is funding 10 schools, for a total of $100 million.

      One of the winners, the Somerville Steam Academy in Somerville, Mass., will operate without standard class periods and without separating students by age.

      Rise High in Los Angeles will be designed for students who are homeless or in foster care. It will share locations around the city with service providers, like medical or mental health centers, and will have a mobile classroom to teach or tutor students wherever they are.

      And in New York City, at the Brooklyn Laboratory Charter High School, the school day will last from 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.

      “Each of these represent schools that don’t exist today,” said Russlynn H. Ali, chief executive of the XQ Institute and a former assistant secretary for civil rights at the federal Education Department.

      Ms. Powell Jobs, chairwoman of the XQ Institute’s board of directors, was the wife of Steven P. Jobs, the Apple co-founder who died five years ago next month.

      The Super School Project was announced a year ago by the Emerson Collective, the organization Ms. Powell Jobs uses to make philanthropic investments. The goal was to offer $50 million to schools that offered new approaches to education. Ms. Ali said American high schools had “stayed the same for 100 years” and were badly in need of new ideas and paradigms.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Hillary Clinton Takes Aim at Voters Drifting Toward Third Party

      Hillary Clinton and her Democratic allies, unnerved by the tightening presidential race, are making a major push to dissuade disaffected voters from backing third-party candidates, and pouring more energy into Rust Belt states, where Donald J. Trump is gaining ground.

      With Mrs. Clinton enduring one of the rockiest stretches of her second bid for the presidency, her campaign and affiliated Democratic groups are shifting their focus to those voters, many of them millennials, who recoil at Mr. Trump, her Republican opponent, but now favor the Libertarian nominee, Gary Johnson, or the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein.

      While still optimistic that the race will turn decisively back in Mrs. Clinton’s favor after the debates, leading Democrats have been alarmed by the drift of young voters toward the third-party candidates.

    • September 14, 2016 – Trump Cuts Clinton Lead In Half, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds, Most Americans Are Voting Against, Not For, A Candidate

      In a largely negative presidential campaign, where most Americans are voting against, rather than for, a candidate, Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Republican Donald Trump 48 – 43 percent among likely voters nationwide, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

      This compares to a 51 – 41 percent Clinton lead in an August 25 survey of likely voters nationwide, by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.

    • 5 reasons Trump might fall in autumn

      The GOP nominee prefers his KFC by the bucket, devours the fries before the Big Mac, and only eats greens out of taco bowls perched atop white linen napkins — but make no mistake, these are Donald Trump’s salad days.

      Counted down in the dark days after his gloomy Cleveland convention, with polls showing him behind by double digits, Trump has mounted what, to the unschooled political observer, appears to be a remarkable comeback. He’s pulled even with Clinton among likely voters in the latest New York Times/CBS national poll — a 42 to 42 percent deadlock that has been reflected in a raft of tightening battleground state polls. And he’s surged to an 8-point lead in Iowa, reflecting his improvement in critical battleground states.

    • Republicans are careful when talking about their nominee — and so are Greater Minnesota’s Democrats

      The big story of this year’s House and Senate elections is how the presence of Donald J. Trump at the top of the GOP ticket affects Republicans running for Congress.

      What’s getting less ink this cycle, however, is how Democrats are reckoning with the down-ballot effect of their nominee, Hillary Clinton — but that doesn’t mean some Democratic candidates aren’t having problems.

      There’s good reason for that: broadly, Trump polls worse than Clinton, nationally and in the North Star State. And there are few elected Democrats out there who, like Rep. Erik Paulsen did with Trump, say that Clinton hasn’t earned their support.

    • Nigel Farage bows out as Ukip leader with nude skinny dip off Bournemouth Pier

      Nigel Farage celebrated his last night as Ukip leader with a late night skinny dipping session off Bournemouth pier, it has been revealed.

      Key financial backer Arron Banks told BBC Radio 4′s Any Questions? show on Friday night that he and Mr Farage had stripped off their clothes and jumped in the sea after a late night drinking session on Thursday.

      Multi-millionaire businessman Mr Banks had been challenging claims during the political talk show that Mr Farage might stage another comeback as leader.

    • Trump’s successful tax dodge: Months of lying and stonewalling somehow aren’t a major scandal

      It’s a rare thing to see honesty emerge from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, but we were all treated to a bracing dose of forthrightness this week by the Republican candidate’s son, Donald Trump Jr., on the subject of his father’s tax returns. Speaking with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Trump Jr. explained that his dad’s tax information would remain hidden because if people saw it, then they’d talk about something other than what the campaign wants them to talk about.

      “He’s got a 12,000-page tax return that would create . . . financial auditors out of every person in the country asking questions that would detract from (his father’s) main message,” the paper reported Trump Jr. as saying. That’s about as clear-cut an explanation as you could hope for: The campaign will keep on stonewalling because it doesn’t want people scrutinizing and talking about Donald Trump’s tax history and financial arrangements.

    • Green Party nominee says she’s going to presidential debate

      US Green Party nominee Jill Stein says she is planning to appear at the first presidential debate despite being ignored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

      The commission announced on Friday that Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson and Stein will not participate in the September 26 debate because they failed to garner the 15 percent support in five polls required to qualify for the debate.

      But the Green Party presidential nominee rejected the standards set by the commission and told CNN she plans to show up at the event with her supporters.

      “We will be at the debate to insist that Americans not only have a right to vote, but we have a right to know who we can vote for,” she said.

      Meanwhile, Johnson said in a statement he wasn’t surprised by the decision to “exclude” him from the first debate.

      He said he plans to have the 15 percent polling threshold to make it to the second debate in early October.

      “There are more polls and more debates, and we plan to be on the debate stage in October,” he stated.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Xiaomi phones are pre-backdoored; your apps can be silently overwritten

      Thijs Broenink audited the AnalyticsCore.apk app that ships pre-installed on all Xiaomi phones (Xiaomi has their own Android fork with a different set of preinstalled apps) and discovered that the app, which seemingly serves no useful purpose, allows the manufacturer to silently install other code on your phone, with unlimited privileges and access.

      The app phones home to Xiaomi once a day and transmits the user’s “IMEI, MAC address, Model, Nonce, Package name and signature,” all in the clear, then gets instructions back about which apps to install — it can seemingly overwrite your signed, pre-installed apps with modified versions.

    • Playpen: The Story of the FBI’s Unprecedented and Illegal Hacking Operation

      In December 2014, the FBI received a tip from a foreign law enforcement agency that a Tor Hidden Service site called “Playpen” was hosting child pornography. That tip would ultimately lead to the largest known hacking operation in U.S. law enforcement history.

      The Playpen investigation—driven by the FBI’s hacking campaign—resulted in hundreds of criminal prosecutions that are currently working their way through the federal courts. The issues in these cases are technical and the alleged crimes are distasteful. As a result, relatively little attention has been paid to the significant legal questions these cases raise.

      But make no mistake: these cases are laying the foundation for the future expansion of law enforcement hacking in domestic criminal investigations, and the precedent these cases create is likely to impact the digital privacy rights of Internet users for years to come. In a series of blog posts in the coming days and weeks, we’ll explain what the legal issues are and why these cases matter to Internet users the world over.

    • At war against the “totalitarian temptation”

      Bill Binney is not mincing his words. In a rallying battle cry against mass surveillance, the former NSA analyst tells an audience at the UK premiere of A Good American that we are basically at war. In every democracy across the world; in our very “hearts and minds”, a war “against the totalitarian temptation” is being waged.

      Perhaps because Binney is such a quiet, considered man, his words seem to carry extra weight. But it’s not just his solemnity that captures attention. Binney is not just a campaigner for civil liberties, speaking of principles and rights. He was on the inside – one of them. A high-level NSA analyst, technical director, and one of the best mathematicians the agency ever had, Bill Binney was their man for 32 years. And then, suddenly, he was their enemy.

    • A Good American: a personal take on mass surveillance

      Director Friedrich Moser draws some conclusions on mass surveillance from his groundbreaking documentary on the work of NSA whistleblower, Bill Binney

    • USA TODAY, others sue FBI for info on phone hack of San Bernardino shooter

      Three news organizations, including USA TODAY’s parent company, filed a lawsuit Friday seeking information about how the FBI was able to break into the locked iPhone of one of the gunmen in the December terrorist attack in San Bernardino.

      The Justice Department spent more than a month this year in a legal battle with Apple over it could force the tech giant to help agents bypass a security feature on Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone. The dispute roiled the tech industry and prompted a fierce debate about the extent of the government’s power to pry into digital communications. It ended when the FBI said an “outside party” had cracked the phone without Apple’s help.

      The news organizations’ lawsuit seeks information about the source of the security exploit agents used to unlock the phone, and how much the government paid for it. It was filed in federal court in Washington by USA TODAY’s parent company, Gannett, the Associated Press and Vice Media. The FBI refused to provide that information to the organizations under the Freedom of Information Act.

    • Senator John McCain Uses Cybersecurity Hearing To Try To Shame Twitter For Not Selling Data To The CIA

      John McCain — fighting for the government’s right to get all up in your everything — has decided to embrace the “grumpy” part of his “grumpy old legislator” personality.

      Back in July, McCain expressed his displeasure with Apple declining his invitation to show up and get yelled at/field false accusations at his hearing on encryption. He dourly noted that he was “seeking the widest variety of input,” but his invited guests included Manhattan DA Cy Vance, a former Bush-era Homeland Security advisor and former NSA deputy director Chris Inglis. Not having Apple to kick around peeved McCain, who finished off the “discussion” with subpoena threats.

      Another encryption hearing hosted by McCain devolved into the senator ranting about something no one cares about but him: a tech company not immediately prostrating itself in front of an intelligence agency. Here’s Marcy Wheeler’s summation of McCain’s “contribution” to the discussion.

    • AP, USA Today, Vice Sue FBI Over Refusal To Release Information About Contractor Who Cracked iPhone For It

      USA Today, the Associated Press, and Vice News have joined forces to sue the FBI over its refusal to release even the most minimal amount of information on the hack it purchased to crack open the iPhone seized during its San Bernardino shooting investigation.

      The DOJ certainly seemed adamant that Apple disclose all sorts of inside info to the government during the heated litigation. It turned down offers of assistance from hackers and security researchers before finally shelling out an unknown amount of money to an Israeli firm to gain access to the phone’s contents. It also ensured it would never have to discuss the technical details of the hacking by not demanding this information be included in the purchase price.

      Now, it refuses to even discuss the purchase price. Educated guesses that put it north of $1 million are based on a James Comey comment in which he said it was several times his annual salary. Somehow, the actual amount paid — if revealed — would somehow prevent the FBI’s investigation from reaching its conclusion.

      This FOIA lawsuit [PDF] targets other innocuous information the FBI refuses to release: contractor info on the party used to open up the seized iPhone (and discover nothing of investigative use on it).

    • Shock US government report says Edward Snowden did A Bad Thing

      The report ended by saying that the NSA needs to improve its work on creating an environment in which another Snowden-style leak cannot take place, claiming that not enough has been done to reduce the risk.

    • House Intel Committee Says Snowden’s Not A Whistleblower, ‘Cause He Once Emailed His Boss’s Boss

      As you probably heard, the ACLU and other have launched a massive campaign asking President Obama to pardon Ed Snowden. You can check it out here and sign the petition. There have also been a bunch of high profile op-eds and endorsements from a wide variety of people — from former intelligence officials to human rights groups and more. The campaign was obviously timed to coincide with the release of Oliver Stone’s new movie, Snowden.

      Apparently also timed with the release of the movie, the House Intelligence Committee has released a “report” that they claim they spent two years writing, detailing why they believe Snowden is no whistleblower. They’ve released an unclassified three page “executive summary” that is, at best, laughable. Honestly, if this is the best that the House Intel Committee can put together to smear Snowden, they must have found nothing bad. I mean, it’s the stupidest stuff: like that he once got into a dispute with his boss over some software updates at work and (*gasp*) emailed someone higher up the chain, for which he got reprimanded…

    • The NSA Has Files on a Country That Doesn’t Exist

      A couple years ago, Robert Delaware requested from the NSA any entries from its Intellipedia – the agency’s internal answer to Wikipedia – regarding the micronation “The Conch Republic.” The agency later released four pages, which is a fairly impressive feat considering that, strictly speaking, the Conch Republic doesn’t exist.

    • NSA leaker Edward Snowden says will vote in US presidential election
    • Snowden Says He’ll Vote in US Presidential Election

      Edward Snowden, in exile in Moscow after leaking U.S. National Security Agency documents, said Friday he intends to vote in the U.S. presidential election, but did not say which candidate he favors.

      “I will be voting,” Snowden said, speaking at a conference in Athens by video link from Moscow.

      “But as a privacy advocate I think it’s important for me … that there should never be an obligation for an individual to discuss their vote. And I won’t be doing so with mine.”

    • Snowden says he will vote in US elections

      Edward Snowden, in exile in Moscow after leaking documents of clandestine spying by the U.S. National Security Agency on everyday Americans, said Friday he intends to vote in the U.S. presidential election, but did not say which candidate he favours.

    • ‘Corrupt’ US Intel Unable to Prevent Terrorism, NSA Whistleblower Tells Sputnik

      Bill Binney, former Technical Director of the US National Security Agency and intelligence whistleblower, has delivered a scathing indictment of US mass surveillance techniques. Binney told Sputnik that the current strategy of collecting bulk data is doomed to result in “people ending up getting killed.”

      When you think of intelligence whistleblowers, Edward Snowden may be the first name that springs to mind. But before Snowden, another NSA operative, Bill Binney, felt compelled to lift the lid on the secretive surveillance actions of his government.

    • Edward Snowden stole defence secrets and is no whistleblower, US report says

      Mr Snowden fled to Hong Kong, then Russia, to avoid prosecution and now wants a presidential pardon as a whistleblower.

    • U.S. House panel slams former NSA contractor Snowden
    • GCHQ’s plan for a Great British Firewall creates a dangerous norm

      Intelligence agencies are in the business of deception and misinformation. Truth has little objective meaning or value, but rather exists as it is necessary or useful. How else to make sense of the announcement earlier this week that agencies who just a few years ago railed against strong encryption and were exposed as trying to undermine it, and thus the security of the internet as a whole, are now claiming to be the internet’s protector?

      On Tuesday the director of the UK’s new National Cyber Security Centre laid out vague plans to build a Great British Firewall to protect us from the dangers of cyberattacks in the digital age: “We’re exploring a flagship project on scaling up DNS filtering,” said Ciaran Martin.

      Filtering, or domain name system (DNS) blocking, is controversial – especially when done by a government, as it can interfere with the essential architecture and security of the internet. In the US, bills to mandate DNS blocking such as the Stop Online Piracy Act failed after vigorous debate. Many spam and phishing attacks spoof legitimate sites or email servers, so blocking them has huge collateral damage.

    • The Feds Will Soon Be Able to Legally Hack Almost Anyone

      Digital devices and software programs are complicated. Behind the pointing and clicking on screen are thousands of processes and routines that make everything work. So when malicious software—malware—invades a system, even seemingly small changes to the system can have unpredictable impacts.

      That’s why it’s so concerning that the Justice Department is planning a vast expansion of government hacking. Under a new set of rules, the FBI would have the authority to secretly use malware to hack into thousands or hundreds of thousands of computers that belong to innocent third parties and even crime victims. The unintended consequences could be staggering.

    • 5 Cool Tech Tidbits From the ‘Snowden’ Movie

      Critics are giving mixed reviews to Snowden, the Oliver Stone film that opens in theaters on Friday. But as I wrote this week, the movie is essential viewing for anyone who cares about the national security debate and NSA’s co-opting of familiar technology like Google and Facebook to spy on us.

      One reason the movie is worth watching is the realistic depiction of technology and hacker culture. Even as Snowden engages in Stone-style propaganda to support its hero, it avoids the stupid clichés that often appear when Hollywood takes on tech topics. I spoke with screenwriter Kieran Fitzgerald and technical supervisor Ralph Echemendia, who explained that Edward Snowden himself read drafts of the film and corrected details he felt were inaccurate.

      Here are five aspects of the film that make Snowden a convincing tale about tech.

    • 5 Corporations Now Dominate Our Privatized Intelligence Industry

      The recent integration of two military contractors into a $10 billion behemoth is the latest in a wave of mergers and acquisitions that have transformed America’s privatized, high-tech intelligence system into what looks like an old-fashioned monopoly.

      In August, Leidos Holdings, a major contractor for the Pentagon and the National Security Agency, completed a long-planned merger with the Information Systems & Global Solutions division of Lockheed Martin, the global military giant. The 8,000 operatives employed by the new company do everything from analyzing signals for the NSA to tracking down suspected enemy fighters for US Special Forces in the Middle East and Africa.

      The sheer size of the new entity makes Leidos one of the most powerful companies in the intelligence-contracting industry, which is worth about $50 billion today. According to a comprehensive study I’ve just completed on public and private employment in intelligence, Leidos is now the largest of five corporations that together employ nearly 80 percent of the private-sector employees contracted to work for US spy and surveillance agencies.

    • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Joins Call for Edward Snowden Pardon

      Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union launched a joint campaign and public petition to urge President Obama to pardon Snowden and allow him to return to the United States without the fear of persecution.

      The campaign is being supported by a number of politicians and celebrities, including Senator Bernie Sanders, Susan Sarandon, Daniel Radcliffe, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Terry Gilliam, Noam Chomsky, Senator Ron Wyden as well as former NSA director Michael Hayden.

      It coincides with the release of Oliver Stone’s “Snowden” movie. The movie is largely based on Snowden’s own story, who worked as a NSA contractor until defecting in 2013. Snowden initially took refuge in Hong Kong, then fled to Russia, and worked with journalists at newspapers like Washington Post, the New York Times and the Guardian to reveal details about the NSA’s surveillance programs against U.S. citizens.

    • The House Intelligence Committee’s Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Snowden Report

      Late yesterday afternoon the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a three-page executive summary (four, if we count the splendid cover photo) of its two-year inquiry into Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency (NSA) disclosures. On first reading, I described it as an “aggressively dishonest” piece of work.

    • Film Review: Human Element Makes Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Quite Captivating

      Every whistleblower undergoes some kind of transformation that pushes them to the point where they make the pivotal decision to challenge power. Oliver Stone’s film about National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden portrays how he went from a person reluctant to question the government to a person who believed it was virtuous to challenge abuses of government power.

      “Snowden” unfolds in the Mira Hong Kong Hotel, where Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) met with journalists Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo) and Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto). The script intermittently flashes back to periods of Snowden’s life, from his time in a military boot camp to his time working for the CIA in Geneva to when he worked at an NSA facility in Oahu, Hawaii.

      Gordon-Levitt nails the intonation of Snowden’s voice. Shailene Woodley is fabulous as his girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, and the choice to make much of the film revolve around Snowden’s relationship with Mills positively elevates the film to a fairly compelling love story. In fact, the way the story is told suggests Snowden’s views on questioning the government changed from post-9/11 flag-waving nationalism the more his romance with Mills blossomed, especially since she was against the Iraq War and other acts of President George W. Bush’s administration.

    • A Cosmopolitan Defense of Snowden

      Like me, Goldsmith believes there’s no chance Snowden will get a pardon, even while admitting that Snowden’s disclosures brought worthwhile transparency to the Intelligence Community. Unlike me, he opposes a pardon, in part, because of the damage Snowden did, a point I’ll bracket for the moment.

    • HPSCI: We Must Spy Like Snowden To Prevent Another Snowden

      I was going to write about this funny part of the HPSCI report anyway, but it makes a nice follow-up to my post on Snowden and cosmopolitanism, on the importance of upholding American values to keeping the servants of hegemon working to serve it.

      As part of its attack on Edward Snowden released yesterday, the House Intelligence Committee accused Snowden of attacking his colleagues’ privacy.

    • Protect Intelligence Whistleblowers

      To get to the offices of the congressional intelligence committees, you must follow a shaft of sunlight down a circular staircase, into the bowels of the Capitol, and down a corridor until you reach heavy wooden doors guarded by an armed sentry. Behind those doors, there are no windows, there is no sunlight. Behind those doors, members of Congress and their staff review our nation’s most secret espionage programs. And on occasion, whistleblowers have helped shine a light into this dark and secret world.

      But high-profile leakers Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning indicated that they thought approaching Congress would be futile, even dangerous. That is because there is a history of prosecution of whistleblowers and myriad internal hurdles to clear before anyone can report possible classified wrongdoing to Congress—hurdles that are greater in the intelligence arena than any other. So instead they went to the media.

      This must change. Congress must encourage whistleblowers concerned about sensitive intelligence programs to approach the committees first, not to go straight to the media. If the committees made a few changes to welcome whistleblowers, they might avoid having sensitive intelligence programs revealed, while strengthening our national security.

    • Hit Job: Congress Attacks Ed Snowden, Continues Ostrich-style “Oversight”

      If you’re a current or former member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) or a current or former staff member of the same and you’ve decided to read this, I commend you. It will be the first step in a multi-step program you’ll need to undergo in order to come to terms with how the nearly 40 year-old institution that you are or were a part of, an instiution that was originally designed to police the Intelligence Community, has instead become’s its chief guardian — and in so doing, enabled that same Intelligence Community to become the single biggest threat to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that we’ve faced in the history of the Republic.

    • Review: ‘Snowden,’ Oliver Stone’s Restrained Portrait of a Whistle-Blower

      Oliver Stone’s “Snowden,” a quiet, crisply drawn portrait of the world’s most celebrated whistle-blower, belongs to a curious subgenre of movies about very recent historical events. Reversing the usual pattern, it could be described as a fictional “making of” feature about “Citizenfour,” Laura Poitras’s Oscar-winning documentary on the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. That film seems to me more likely to last — it is deeper journalism and more haunting cinema — but Mr. Stone has made an honorable and absorbing contribution to the imaginative record of our confusing times. He tells a story torn from slightly faded headlines, filling in some details you may have forgotten, and discreetly embellishing the record in the service of drama and suspense.

      In the context of this director’s career, “Snowden” is both a return to form and something of a departure. Mr. Stone circles back to the grand questions of power, war and secrecy that have propelled his most ambitious work, and finds a hero who fits a familiar Oliver Stone mold. Edward (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, leaning hard on a vocal imitation) is presented as a disillusioned idealist, a serious young man whose experiences lead him to doubt accepted truths and question the wisdom of authority. He has something in common with Jim Garrison in “J.F.K.” and Ron Kovic in “Born on the Fourth of July,” and also with Chris Taylor and Bud Fox, the characters played by Charlie Sheen in “Platoon” and “Wall Street.”

    • NYPD Says Talking About Its IMSI Catchers Would Make Them Vulnerable to Hacking

      Typically, cops don’t like talking about IMSI catchers, the powerful surveillance technology used to monitor mobile phones en masse. In a recent case, the New York Police Department (NYPD) introduced a novel argument for keeping mum on the subject: Asked about the tools it uses, it argued that revealing the different models of IMSI catchers the force owned would make the devices more vulnerable to hacking.

      Civil liberties activists are not convinced. Christopher Soghoian from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote in an affidavit as part of a petition against the NYPD’s decision not to share this information, “It would be a serious problem if the costly surveillance devices purchased by the NYPD without public competitive bidding are so woefully insecure that the only thing protecting them from hackers is the secrecy surrounding their model names.”

      The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), an affiliate of the ACLU, has been trying to get access to information about the NYPD’s IMSI catchers under the Freedom of Information Law. These devices are also commonly referred to as “stingrays”, after a particularly popular model from Harris Corporation. Indeed, the NYCLU wants to know which models of IMSI catchers made by Harris the police department has.

      “Public disclosure of this information, and the amount of taxpayer funds spent to buy the devices, directly advances the Freedom of Information Law’s purpose of informing a robust public debate about government actions,” the NYCLU writes in a court filing. The group has requested documents that show how much money has been spent on the technology.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • 4 Things to Consider When Running Social Media Campaigns About Texas Inmates

      Two such advocates reached out to EFF: Esther Große and Carrie Christensen. These women work with a high-profile inmate, Kenneth Foster, to try to secure his release and reform Texas’ so-called “Law of Parties,” which allows the state to assign capital punishment to accessories to a murder, even if they didn’t actually commit the act. Foster was facing the death penalty under this rule, but hours before his scheduled execution in 2007, Gov. Rick Perry commuted his sentence to life imprisonment. Ever since, Foster has engaged in political activism from behind bars through his writing and poetry.

      Esther and Carrie had been running various social media accounts to support Foster. They maintained editorial control of these accounts and posted his writing. But they voluntariliy suspended these accounts after the new TDCJ rule was announced for fear of the impact on Foster. EFF communicated (.pdf) with TDCJ on their behalves to establish better clarity on what will and will not be permitted under the policy. Based on the information we and others (.pdf) received from TDCJ, we can now share lessons we’ve gleaned for operating a social media campaign regarding an inmate.

    • FBI Agent Posing as Journalist to Deliver Malware to Suspect Was Fine, Says DOJ

      In 2007, an FBI agent impersonated an Associated Press journalist in order to deliver malware to a criminal suspect and find out his location. According to a newly published report from the Department of Justice, the operation was in line with the FBI’s undercover policies at the time.

      Journalistic organisations had expressed concern that the tactic could undermine reporters’ and media institutions’ credibility.

      “We concluded that FBI policies in 2007 did not expressly address the tactic of agents impersonating journalists,” the report from the Office of the Inspector General reads.

      The case concerned a Seattle teenager suspected of sending bomb threats against a local school. FBI Special Agent Mason Grant got in touch with the teen over email, pretending to be an AP journalist. After some back and forth, Grant sent the suspect a fake article which, when clicked, grabbed his real IP address. Armed with this information, the FBI identified and arrested the suspect.

    • Tesla is suing an oil-company executive it says impersonated Elon Musk

      Tesla is suing an oil executive under suspicion of impersonating Elon Musk to dig up confidential financial information from the company, Forbes reported on Wednesday.

      The lawsuit, reportedly filed Wednesday in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, claimed that Todd Katz, the chief financial officer for Quest Integrity Group, emailed Tesla’s chief financial officer using a similar email address as Musk’s looking to gain information that wasn’t disclosed in an earnings call with investors.

    • Tesla sues oil exec for impersonating Elon Musk

      Tesla Motors is suing an oil pipeline service executive in a California court, claiming the man impersonated Tesla CEO Elon Musk in an attempt to gain undisclosed financial information.

      The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, says Quest Integrity Group CFO Todd Katz sent an email to Tesla CFO Jason Wheeler from a Yahoo email address similar to one Musk has used in the past.

      A spokesman for the Quest’s parent company called the allegations involving company officials “unsubstantiated” and “absurd.”

    • Former hacker blasts Love’s trial as an ‘absurd ordeal’

      ALLEGED HACKER Lauri Love, the 31-year-old British citizen accused of breaking into the systems of the FBI, the US Missile Defence Agency and the Federal Reserve Bank in 2013, has lost his appeal over extradition to the US.

      The judgement was delivered within minutes of the commencement of this afternoon’s session at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

      Love’s lawyer, Tor Ekeland, said that Love had “embarrassed” the US authorities and that they had “very bad security and these hacks used exploits that were publicly known for months”.

      Former hacker and ex-Anonymous and LulzSec mouthpiece Jake ‘Topiary’ Davis attended the hearing and live tweeted the verdict, calling it “a horrible decision” and “a mess from the start”.

      According to Davis, Love was immediately advised by the judge that he could appeal against the decision and that the case would be sent on to the Secretary of State while he remains, for the time being, on bail.

      Love, referring to his appeal, told press and supporters outside the court: “This means we’ve been given a higher platform. There will be justice. Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

    • Lauri Love to be extradited to the US to face hacking charges, court rules

      Briton Lauri Love will be extradited to the US to face charges of hacking, Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled on Friday.

      Love faces up to 99 years in prison in the US on charges of hacking as part of the Anonymous collective, according to his legal team.

      Handing down her ruling at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, district judge Nina Tempia told Love that he can appeal against the decision. The case will now be referred to the home secretary Amber Rudd while Love remains on bail.

    • Judge Rules to Extradite Alleged UK Hacker Lauri Love

      Copy This URL

      Lauri Love will be extradited to the US to face charges related to his alleged involvement in #OpLastResult, a UK judge has ruled today.

      Speaking at Westminster Magistrates’ Court this afternoon, Judge Nina Tempia said: “I will be extraditing Mr Love, by which I mean I will be passing the case to the Secretary of State.”

      The ruling, which lasted under five minutes, was attended by Love, his parents, and around 40 supporters. Leaving court, some of his supporters derided the decision, shouting: “Bullshit, kangaroo court!”

    • Lauri Love loses fight against extradition

      Lauri Love has lost his court case against extradition to the US to face hacking charges.

      Love was indicted in US courts in 2013 after it emerged that he had hacked into servers at the Federal Reserve, NASA, Missile Defence Agency and the US Army as part of hacker group known as Anonymous.

      He and his doctors have consistently argued in extradition hearings that he should not be extradited to the US from his home in south-eastern England because he suffers from Asperger syndrome and depression. Love has repeatedly told the media that he would rather commit suicide than face trial in America.

    • Alleged hacker Lauri Love to be extradited to US

      An autistic man suspected of hacking into US government computer systems is to be extradited from Britain to face trial, a court has ruled.

      Lauri Love, 31, who has Asperger’s syndrome, is accused of hacking into the FBI, the US central bank and the country’s missile defence agency.

      Mr Love, from Stradishall, Suffolk, has previously said he feared he would die in a US prison if he was extradited.

    • Computer activist Lauri Love loses appeal against US extradition

      Lauri Love, the student accused of hacking into the computer systems of the US missile defence agency, Nasa and the Federal Reserve, has lost his appeal against extradition to America.

      Judge Nina Tempia said the 31-year-old, who has Asperger syndrome, could be cared for by “medical facilities in the United States prison estate” and implied that he should answer the “extremely serious charges” in the country where the damage was inflicted.

      Love, who lives with his parents in Newmarket, Suffolk, was granted permission to appeal against Friday’s ruling and given bail pending further legal action. The battle over his fate could eventually reach the European court of human rights in Strasbourg and last several years.

      There were gasps in the courtroom as Tempia read out her ruling, which followed a full case hearing in June. Love’s supporters, who stormed out of Westminster magistrates court in London shouting “kangaroo court”, fear he could face up to 99 years in a US jail if convicted on all counts.

    • UK Court Says Lauri Love Can Be Extradited To Face Hacking Charges In The US

      There’s little to be gained by adding up the maximum possible jail sentence facing Love. Rest assured, if convicted, it will likely be over a decade. Consolidation of the cases and charges is likely, but more than one of the charges carry possible 10-year sentences.

      Meanwhile, back in the UK, Love has managed to escape being jailed for refusing to turn over passwords and encryption keys to law enforcement. UK investigators fought hard to force Love — who they’ve never formally charged — to crack open multiple seized devices for them. This attempt was shot down in May by a judge who viewed this as an end run around protections built into RIPA, the laws governing law enforcement’s investigatory powers.

      The final decision on Love’s extradition is in the hands of Elizabeth Truss, the recently-appointed Secretary of State for Justice. Truss’ previous government work doesn’t really provide much guidance on which side she’ll come down on this, but her voting record tends to indicate she’s more sympathetic to national security/law enforcement interests than those of her constituents. Considering the UK and US have a very cozy surveillance relationship, it stands to reason Truss will likely decide to appease the DOJ, rather than overturn the court’s decision.

    • Swedish appeals court upholds detention order for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

      A Swedish appeals court on Friday upheld a detention order for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, dismissing the latest attempt by the 45-year-old Australian to make prosecutors drop a rape investigation from 2010.

      The decision by the Svea Court of Appeal means that the arrest warrant stands for the 45-year-old computer hacker, who has avoided extradition to Sweden by seeking shelter at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012.

      Assange, who denies the rape allegation, has challenged the detention order several times. He says he fears he will be extradited to the United States to face espionage charges if he leaves the embassy.

    • Muslims are most disliked group in America, says new study

      Muslims are the most disapproved group in America, according to a new study, amid increasing anti-Muslim rhetoric from conservative politicians.

      A new study from sociologists at the University of Minnesota, which analysed Americans’ perceptions of minority faith and racial groups, found that their disapproval of Muslims has almost doubled from about 26 per cent 10 years ago to 45.5 per cent in 2016.

      Amid increasing focus on immigration, refugees and national security and in the wake of multiple terrorist attacks around the world, the study found that almost half of those surveyed would not want their child to marry a Muslim, compared to just 33.5 per cent of people a decade earlier.

    • Court: Officer Killed Man Less Than a Second After Command

      A Southern California police officer gave a man less than a second to raise his hands before opening fire and killing him, a federal appeals court noted Friday in rejecting the officer’s request to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit against him.

      The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Tustin Police Officer Osvaldo Villarreal couldn’t reasonably have feared for his safety when he shot 31-year-old Benny Herrera after responding to a domestic dispute call in December 2011.

      That determination ran counter to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, which said in 2013 that the shooting was reasonable and justified because Villarreal fired after Herrera ignored orders to show his hands.

      A video captured by a police dashboard camera shows otherwise, according to the 9th Circuit judges who cited the footage.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • NYC Kills Internet Browsing At Free WiFi Kiosks After The City’s Homeless Actually Use It

      Earlier this year, New York City undertook one of the biggest free city WiFi efforts ever conceived. Under the plan, an outfit by the name of LinkNYC is slated to install some 7,500 WiFi kiosks scattered around the five boroughs that will provide free gigabit WiFi (well, closer to 300 Mbps or so), free phone calls to anywhere in the country (via Vonage), as well as access to a device recharging station, 311, 911, 411 and city services (via an integrated Android tablet). The connectivity and services are supported by a rotating crop of ads displayed on the kiosks themselves.

    • Is New York City’s Public Wi-Fi Actually Connecting the Poor?

      Two young men sit on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 54th Street, huddled against a tall silver obelisk on a hot summer day. One man is sprawled on the ground in dirty sweatpants, and the other is 20-something, shirtless and examining an iPhone plugged into the kiosk’s USB port. Around them on the ground is a backpack, a duffel, loose cigarettes, and a roughed-up phone.

      LinkNYC, New York City’s newest communications network, includes more than 350 kiosks installed on sidewalks throughout the city and was created to repurpose payphone infrastructure through public kiosks offering free internet, phone calls, and USB charging ports. The project is a collaboration between the city and a consortium of private technology and media companies including Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet (read: Google) company, and represents an important innovation in the “smart city” movement integrating information and communication technologies into all aspects of urban life.

    • cloudflare and rss

      Let’s say somebody has a blog that I’d like to read. Subscribe to even. Let’s say they have an RSS link on their page. This should be easy.

      Now let’s say the blog in question is hosted/proxied/whatever by Cloudflare. Uh oh.

      Just reading the blog in my browser is now somewhat hampered because Cloduflare thinks I’m some sort of cyberterrorist and requires my browser run a javascript anti-turing test. But eventually the blog loads, I read it, click the RSS link to subscribe, see that it is in fact XML rendered in my browser, and copy the link.

    • Internet speed – you don’t get what you pay for

      The age old cry is that “The internet too slow.” In part that has been exposed by the raft of new AC routers that may be able to connect at up to a gigabit in your network but grind to a halt when it hits the internet.

      The internet speeds offered by Telcos, ISPs and RSPs are a theoretical maximum speed – more guidelines really and they are under no real obligation to provide even a fraction of the advertised speed. The vast majority of ADSL connections are heavily contended (bandwidth is shared by other users on the same DSLAM), so when the kids get home, internet speeds slow even more.

      Like any advertised goods or services, you should get what you pay for – a kilo of fruit must weight a kilo, or there are huge fines for “short weight.” But it seems ISPs are dead against that principle telling the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to butt out.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Cuba, US hold first talks on intellectual property

      Cuba and the US held their first talk on the issue of intellectual property, the island’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday.

      A statement revealed that Daniel Marti, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator at the White House visited Havana on September 8-9 and met with representatives of the Cuban Office of Industrial Property, the National Centre of Copyright, the Faculty of Law of the University of Havana, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment.

      Marti was accompanied by officials from the State Department, the Copyright Office and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Xinhua news agency reported.

      “In this first official meeting between Cuba and the US on intellectual property, the parties exchanged views on current regulations in the respective countries … and the legal framework of the two states for the protection of trademarks, patents and legal copyright,” read the statement.

    • Copyrights

      • Alleged KickassTorrents Owner Denied Access to U.S. Counsel

        This week the U.S. sent notice to Polish authorities indicating it wants to extradite Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of KickassTorrents. Vaulin’s defense team is reviewing the request but warns that the case is turning into an international due process problem, as he is still unable to meet his U.S. counsel.

      • European Commission wants to break the web, give publishers the right to charge for inbound links

        The European Commission’s “copyright modernisation” plan is an unmitigated disaster, but there’s one particularly insane section of it that I want to call your attention to: the “link tax,” which entitles publishers to payment when people link to them on the internet.

        Fundamentally, this is the insane idea that companies own the information about where they and their assets are located, a shitty idea that we’ve been making fun of since 2001, which the elected European Parliament has repeatedly rejected, which experiments in Germany and Spain have shown to be a disaster.

        But the unelected, thoroughly captured bureaucrats of the European Commission refuse to let go of this ridiculous plan.

      • Nobody Is Watching Kim Dotcom’s Livestreamed Extradition Hearing

        Remember Kim Dotcom? He’s the convicted fraudster-turned rich dude who ran MegaUpload, that file storage website that hosted a ton of pirated content. In January 2012, Dotcom was raided by New Zealand authorities and he’s been in legal purgatory ever since. Right now, Dotcom is fighting extradition by the United States for charges of online piracy.

      • Incumbents rule

        The European Union’s online reforms help the old more than the new

      • Wi-Fi providers not liable for copyright infringements, rules top EU court

        Businesses such as coffee shops that offer a wireless network free of charge to their customers aren’t liable for copyright infringements committed by users of that network, the ruling states—which, in part, chimes with an earlier advocate general’s opinion. But hotspot operators may be required, following a court injunction, to password-protect their Wi-Fi networks to stop or prevent such violations.

        In 2010, Sony sued Tobias McFadden, who provides free Wi-Fi access at his lighting and sound system shop in Munich, Germany. The company claimed a copyrighted song had been offered for download from his wireless network. Although he wasn’t the individual responsible for the infringement, the local court mulled a ruling of indirect liability because the network hadn’t been secured.

      • Copyright Trolls Now Threatening College Students With Loss of Scholarship, Deportation

        In all of our coverage of copyright trolls, those rent-seeking underdwellers that fire off threat letters to those they suspect of copyright infringement with demands designed to extract cash without having to actually take anyone to court, it’s quite easy to become somewhat numb to the underhanded tactics they employ. Between specifically targeting folks over pornography in order to minimize the chance that anyone might want to actually go to trial, to the privacy invading tactics occasionally used when a court case actually commences, it becomes easy to simply shrug at the depravity of it all.

        But there is a special place in hell for copyright trolls who falsely inform students that failure to pay on receipt of threat letters, or who falsely inform foreign students that deportation could result from a failure to pay. According to at least one university in Canada, this is apparently a new favored tactic among some copyright trolls.

      • Another Bad EU Ruling: WiFi Providers Can Be Forced To Require Passwords If Copyright Holders Demand It

        For quite some time now, we’ve been following an odd case through the German and then EU court system, concerning whether or not the operator of an open WiFi system should be liable for copyright infringement that occurs over that access point. Back in 2010, a German court first said that if you don’t secure your WiFi, you can get fined. This was very problematic — especially for those of us who believe in open WiFi. The EU Court of Justice agreed to hear the case and the Advocate General recommended a good ruling: that WiFi operators are not liable and also that they shouldn’t be forced to password protect their access points.

        The ruling, unfortunately, says that WiFi operators can be compelled to password protect their networks. It’s not all bad, in that the headline story is that WiFi operators, on their own, are not liable for actions done on the network, but that’s completely undermined by the requirement to password protect it if a copyright holder asks them to.

      • Do memes violate copyright law?

        Who owns a meme—those pictures, videos and ideas that go viral on the internet?

        In the case of the Socially Awkward Penguin, the answer might be National Geographic, since a staff photographer took the original penguin picture. Around 2009, internet users got hold of that photo, changed the background, added text and made it an internet phenomenon.

        But stock photo company Getty Images says it controls the penguin—and its meme progeny. Last year, Getty Images, which licenses National Geographic’s pictures, told the German company Get Digital that it owed license fees for using the penguin meme on one of its blogs. And Getty’s bill was twice the normal licensing fee, according to Get Digital.

      • Apparently, Ubuntu is ‘infringing’ Paramount’s Copyrights over Transformers movie!

        For some unknown reason, Paramount Pictures has decided that the freely distributed Ubuntu OS torrents are “infringing” their copyrights on Transformers movie! Paramount Pictures recently sent a DMCA takedown notice to Google, accusing Ubuntu OS of infringing their copyrights.

      • Torrent Site Founder, Moderator and Users Receive Prison Sentences

        The 28-year-old former operator of a French-based torrent site has been ordered to serve a year in jail and pay a five million euro fine. A moderator received a four-month suspended sentence. Somewhat unusually, four regular users of the site were tracked down by their IP addresses. They too received custodial sentences.

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