India Keeps Rejecting Software Patents in Spite of Pressure From Large Foreign Multinationals

Posted in Asia, Patents at 7:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Delhi Gate at night
Delhi Gate at night

Summary: India’s resilience in the face of incredible pressure to allow software patents is essential for the success of India’s growing software industry and more effort is needed to thwart corporate colonisation through patents in India itself

IT HAS BEEN a while since we last wrote about software patents in India. The subject is growingly important because a lot of the world’s software is nowadays being crafted in India, much in the same way that a lot of hardware is made in China.

According to today’s news, “India’s patent office has rejected an application by German telecom major T-Mobile International AG seeking a patent for an invention related to a method for optimising the operational times and cell exchange performances of mobile terminals.”

“Currently, India has a patent system that mostly helps foreign companies cement/impose their monopoly on a vast population.”“The rejection of T-Mobile’s patent is the latest in the growing number of software patents,” says the article. For nearly a decade now we have been showing how large multinational corporations such as BT, IBM, Microsoft and others have been pushing India (sometimes even shaming India) into the trap which is software patents. They are habitually helped by their patent lawyers in India, who gleefully join the lobbying efforts. These lawyers bamboozle fellow Indians on behalf of large corporations that pay their lawyers a lot of money. We urge Indians to reject and resist these terrible attempts to hobble India’s thriving software industry. Even some large Indian companies (such as Infosys) have already changed their mind.

Currently, India has a patent system that mostly helps foreign companies cement/impose their monopoly on a vast population. This has been accomplished in many disciplines except software and it would be wise for India to keep it that way. A further improvement would be to reassess patentability in other domains, such as those that impact generic medicine (India already done exceptionally well in this domain). Here is a new report from the Times of India that says “[a]round 80% of the more-than 43,000 domestic product and process patents have been secured by foreign entities – many of them global technology giants like Qualcomm, Samsung and Philips.”

“We urge Indians to reject and resist these terrible attempts to hobble India’s thriving software industry.”Notice Qualcomm in there. It is a highly abusive company whose patent practices are so cruel and notorious worldwide. Consider this new article from CCIA‘s Matt Levy. Read the second paragraph to see how Qualcomm — like Microsoft — is basically corrupting academia (showered with money in exchange for bias) in an effort to thwart saner patent policy:

If you’ve followed the patent reform debate, you’re probably familiar with Qualcomm. Qualcomm has literally spent millions opposing reform, including around $6 million lobbying in the first 3 quarters of 2016, millions on television and print ads, a lot of money given to law schools to fund sympathetic research, and on and on. It’s hard to blame the company, given that Qualcomm’s licensing segment netted about $6.5 billion in profit in fiscal year 2016. You can find that information, and more, in Qualcomm’s 10-K for 2016.

India would be wise to shape its patent law not based on what companies like Qualcomm and their patent law firms (can be Indian) are saying. India should listen to its engineers, programmers, etc. Too many times we find articles on the subject which are composed by lobbyists, large corporate executives, or law firm that strive to embellish their financial bottom line. Today in the Irish press there is this article about “start-ups” (i.e. small companies) which advises them — among other things — to pursue patents. It’s a waste of money; there are other things they should be doing with their money (limited budget) because unless a small company is merely a patent troll it will never manage to make much of these patents. They’re just worthless ‘trophies’, overshadowed by massive patent ‘warchests’/’arsenals’ like IBM’s or Microsoft’s. Counterattacks in the lawsuit sense mean that they’ll never become David in the David versus Goliath sense. They’ll go broke trying to become David. The article from the Irish Times mostly quotes “Fergal Brady [...] an examiner in the Irish Patents Office [who] says his role is to settle the issues of “What are you describing? Is it clear? Has it been done before?” when it comes to patent applications.”

“India would be wise to shape its patent law not based on what companies like Qualcomm and their patent law firms (can be Indian) are saying”Patent examiners are not the “bad guys” (or girls). They are just trying to make a living by scrutinising patent applications. However, at the EPO and at the USPTO, immense pressure has been put on examiners to make decisions too quickly, rendering them totally incapable of doing their job properly. To make matters worse, they are sometimes offered incentives to do their job leniently, either granting in error or rejecting applications in error, settling for low patent quality or diverting all the financial damage to courtrooms (externality).

Links 6/1/2017: Irssi 1.0.0, KaOS 2017.01 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 5:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • There’s a Linux-powered car in your future

    Linux is everywhere. And, I mean everywhere. You name it, home electronics, smartphones, and, of course, computers. But, one place you probably didn’t think of Linux living is sitting in your driveway right now: Your car.

  • Watercooler won’t dispense until it finishes updating Windows

    Intel Director of Incident Response Jackie Stokes has captured the entirety of 2017 in a single image: a watercooler that won’t dispense water until it has installed a Windows upgrade (caption: “I just wanted some water…”).

  • Well, It’s One For The Money, Two For The Show….

    I was already a Linux user. My business and my home computers were both running Linux. So why did I bother to deploy these 15 XP machines? I did so on the advice of someone I respect greatly, and still do. His argument was, since the world ran on Microsoft Windows, I would be doing these kids a great disservice by putting Linux on their computers. They would have to fight with teachers and other students because the various formats and applications within Linux would not meld in with the Windows World.


    What is important to know is that the computers which are being given to Reglue Kids today are powered by the sheer will of a Global Community. The Linux and Open Source Communities drive these machines. The machines that will guide today’s kids into tomorrow’s Chemical, nuclear and aerospace engineering and physics positions. These kids will bring back the Thorium-based nuclear power plants. They will not only fuel our nation’s energy needs at a fraction of today’s cost, they will push us farther out into space, and at speeds that seem almost impossible today.

  • Desktop

    • Samsung’s new Chromebooks are Google’s answer to the iPad Pro and Surface Pro

      Following months of leaks, Samsung is today making its latest Chromebook official. The new computer is actually two models — the Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro — and is the first one built from the ground up with support for Android apps. It’s also the first Chromebook to come with a stylus and support on-screen inking. The Chromebook Plus will be available starting this February for $449; the virtually-identical-save-for-a-different-processor Chromebook Pro will arrive later this year for a to-be-determined-but-definitely-higher price.

  • Server

    • Understanding Open vSwitch, an OpenStack SDN component

      Open vSwitch is an open-source project that allows hypervisors to virtualize the networking layer. This caters for the large number of virtual machines running on one or more physical nodes. The virtual machines connect to virtual ports on virtual bridges (inside the virtualized network layer.)

      This is very similar to a physical server connecting to physical ports on a Layer 2 networking switch. These virtual bridges then allow the virtual machines to communicate with each other on the same physical node. These bridges also connect these virtual machines to the physical network for communication outside the hypervisor node.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • KaOS 2017.01

        Starting the New Year with a fresh new look. All parts of the Midna artwork have been updated, most notably a new sddm theme that uses a layered QML model. This makes selecting between the default regular Plasma session or optional Wayland much clearer. New is also a move to a right vertical panel as default.

        As always with this rolling distribution, you will find the very latest packages for the Plasma Desktop, this includes Frameworks 5.29.0, Plasma 5.8.5, KDE Applications 16.12.0 & not yet released ports of KDE Applications. All built on Qt 5.7.1.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Not a OpenMandriva Review, Integrated Steam, Endless Linux PCs

        Neil Rickert today shared his experiences with OpenMandriva Lx 3.01 leading to another account indicating 3.01 wasn’t quite soup yet. Elsewhere, Rajat Kabade reported that “Intel is all set to integrate Steam into its Clear Linux to make the existing gaming experience even better.” Endless Computers is bringing its Mission One and Mini Linux boxes to the US market and Michael Larabel reported today on the latest on DRM moving to user space.

      • OpenMandriva Lx 3.01 — not really a review

        Hmm, I have been neglecting this blog. It’s time to catch up. I’ve still been doing stuff, but have not recently blogged about it.

        There’s not much to report here, so this will be a short post.

        I saw the recent announcement from the OpenMandriva folk, and thought that I would give it a try. According to the announcement, this release comes with Plasma 5 with Wayland support.

    • Arch Family

      • Arch Linux 2017.01.01 Released, ISO Files And Torrents Available For Download

        Thanks to the hard-working Arch Linux developers, the first Arch Linux ISO images of 2017 are available for download. The latest release, i.e., Arch Linux 2017.01.01, is powered by Linux kernel 4.8.13. While the first time users can grab the ISO images and torrents from Arch’s website, the existing users can update their systems using `pacman -Syu.’

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian vs. Ubuntu

        For the last four years, Debian and Ubuntu have been in the top three Linux distributions on Distrowatch. Since 2005, neither has been out of the top six. But which Linux distro is right for you? You can’t go seriously wrong either way, but a useful answer depends upon what you want in a distribution.

        You may have heard that Debian is a distribution for experts, and Ubuntu for beginners. That is true, so far as it goes. However, that distinction is more historic than contemporary.

        It is true that after Ubuntu burst on to the scene in late 2004, it spent several years making the desktop easier to use, especially for non-English speakers. However, thanks to free licenses, Ubuntu’s improvements have spread to most desktop environments.

        Moreover, Ubuntu’s days of interface innovations are largely in the past. Today, Ubuntu development is focused largely on convergence — the development of its Unity desktop into a common interface for phones, tablets, and desktops. But since Ubuntu phones and tablets have limited availability, convergence is largely irrelevant to many users. Similarly, Canonical, Ubuntu’s parent company, seems more focused on its successful OpenStack division than on desktop development.

      • Derivatives

        • Debian-Based BlankOn 10.0 Released for Indonesian Linux Users After Three Years

          Today, January 5, 2017, Ahmad Haris, the release manager of BlankOn, a Debian-based GNU/Linux distribution developed by and for the Indonesian Linux community, proudly announced the release of BlankOn Linux 10.0.

          Dubbed “Tambora,” BlankOn Linux 10.0 is here in its final, production-ready state approximately three years after the February 2014 release of BlankOn 9.0. As expected, there are numerous improvements, but the biggest new feature of BlankOn 10.0 is the in-house built Manokwari desktop environment, which is based on the GNOME 3 shell.

        • BlankOn 10.0 Tambora released

          Some time ago developers behind BlankOn Linux team released a new version 10.0 codenamed Tambora. BlankOn is based on Debian and originated in Indonesia. This is the tenth release of BlankOn which includes lots of changes and improvements.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Clarifies Ubuntu Phone State: Nothing Really Until Snap-Based Image Ready

            For those that shared your hopes for Ubuntu Phones in 2017, some of you were right: those that guessed nothing or very little. There isn’t going to be any new Ubuntu Phone releases or major OTA updates until there is a Snap-based image down the road.

            From all the frustrated Ubuntu Phone users begging for answers on the Ubuntu-Phone mailing list, Canonical’s Pat McGowan has responded to some of the comments.

            Pat shares that the Click-based Ubuntu Phone images are indeed on the way out, there will be no new Ubuntu Phone models until there is a “Snap image”, and they don’t plan to do an OTA-15 feature release. Canonical doesn’t plan to land any new features to the current stable PPA, but they will be providing security updates for important components.

          • Canonical Clarifies the Current State of Ubuntu Phones and Ubuntu Touch Updates

            In December 2016, a bunch of worried folks using various Ubuntu-based devices started an “Ubuntu Crickets” riot to force Canonical to reveal its upcoming plans for new Ubuntu Phone and Ubuntu Touch models/versions.

            It didn’t take long, and Canonical’s Pat McGowan joined the discussion earlier to inform the concerned community about general progress. Long story short, as many have already guessed, it would appear that there are no plans for an OTA-15 update of the Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system, for now.

            “We do not plan to land any features to the current stable PPA, although we will provide security updates as they are available for example for the webrowser/oxide,” said Pat McGowan in the mailing list statement, where he also confirmed the fact that there won’t be any new Ubuntu Phone models released until there’s a Snap image.

          • No New Ubuntu Phones on the Horizon, And No Major Updates for Existing Ones, Either

            If you were hoping to see a new Ubuntu phone released sometime soon, we’ve some bad news for you.

            And if you already own an Ubuntu phone and were hoping to see a new update released soon, we’ve some bad news for you too.

            Bad news for everybody, it seems — or is there some silver lining in the grey clouds casting over the project?

          • uNav 0.64 Turn-by-Turn GPS Navigation App Now Available for Ubuntu Phones

            Marcos Costales, the developer of the very popular uNav map viewer and turn-by-turn GPS navigator for Ubuntu Phone devices, released a new version of his application, uNav 0.64.

            uNav 0.64 comes four months after version 0.63, which was a minor update improving the simulator, adding support for skipping confirmation of routes, rounding off the distance to the nearest turn in guidance mode, fixing the ‘¿¿¿’ string in POI names, adding CartoDB layers, as well as a bash script to generate translations.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 18.1 Xfce Edition Enters Beta, Based on Ubuntu 16.04 and Xfce 4.12

              A few moments ago, the Linux Mint team happily announced the release and general availability of the Beta milestone of the upcoming Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” Xfce operating system for personal computers.

            • Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ Xfce Edition Beta operating system available for download

              Another day, and yet another version of Linux Mint with a different desktop environment. The operating system uses Mate and Cinnamon environments by default, but also offers KDE and Xfce editions as well.

              While some people — such as yours truly — think the project should redirect its focus by supporting fewer desktop environments, that apparently won’t be happening any time soon. Case in point, today, Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ Xfce Edition reaches Beta status. Will you download it?

            • Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 Daily Builds Are Now Available to Download, Screenshot Tour

              The Ubuntu Budgie devs are back from the Christmas and New Year’s break with a vengeance, and they’ve just announced the availability of daily build ISO images for the upcoming Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) operating system.

              At the end of 2016, they promised us that we’d be able to get our hands on the daily build ISO images of Ubuntu Budgie 17.04, and here they are, available for download as we speak for 64- and 32-bit hardware architectures from Canonical’s download servers, along with all the other official flavors.

              For your viewing pleasure, and ours, we downloaded the latest 64-bit Live ISO image to make a quick screenshot tour of the distribution, which is built around the lightweight Budgie desktop environment developed by the Solus Project (yes, the people behind the popular Solus distro).

            • Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 to Be Based on the GNOME 3.22 Stack, Now Ships Linux 4.9

              While the first Alpha development release of the upcoming Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) operating system was skipped, we’d like to tell you a little bit about what you should expect from the next Alpha build.

              First things first, we recommend reading our initial report if you want to familiarize yourself with the new or upcoming features of Ubuntu 17.04, but in this article we’d like to tell you all about the Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 flavor, which is now proudly based on the GNOME 3.22 Stack.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Five Ways Open Source Software Can Benefit MSPs

    You know open source software, like Linux, is popular with geeks and enterprises. But do you know how it can help your managed services business? Here are five ways open source benefits MSPs.

    For the uninitiated, here’s a quick definition of open source: Open source software means programs whose source code is freely shared and can be viewed by anyone. Access to source code facilitates modification of the programs and provides users with other freedoms not available from closed-source software.

  • New in Open Source: Python-to-Go, Atom in Orbit, DeepMind Lab, More
  • Google, FCA Test-Drive New Open Source Infotainment System

    Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles this week showcased a new in-auto infotainment platform at CES in Las Vegas. The open source system combines Uconnect with Android Auto.

    The companies demonstrated their concept design inside a Chrysler 300 sedan at the show. The new system is built around Android 7.0, or Nougat, and an 8.4-inch Uconnect system.

    The integration of Android and Uconnect enables a system built for connectivity and compatibility with the universe of popular Android applications. The demo highlighted integration with Google Assistant, Google Maps, and popular Android apps including Pandora, Spotify, NPR One and Pocket Casts.

  • Apache Geode Spawns ‘All Sorts of In-Memory Things’

    Apache Geode is kind of like the six blind men describing an elephant. It’s all in how you use it, Nitin Lamba, product manager at Ampool, told a meetup group earlier this year.

    Geode is a distributed, in-memory compute and data-management platform that elastically scales to provide high throughput and low latency for big data applications. It pools memory, CPU, and network resources — with the option to also use local disk storage — across multiple processes to manage application objects and behavior.

  • Google’s Python Runtime Environment Goes Open Source

    Lots of organizations run Python code, but few run as much of it as Google does. The company runs millions of lines of Python code. The front-end server that drives youtube.com and YouTube’s APIs is primarily written in Python, and it serves millions of requests per second, according to Google engineers.

    Now, the company has open sourced Grumpy, the Python runtime environment for Go that was developed in-house to improve the performance of YouTube.

  • Voxeliens, a game I covered back in 2012 has gone open source

    The source is under the MIT license and hosted on bitbucket. The developers say it may be difficult to compile on Linux, as it was originally a commercial game and they haven’t really put much effort into compiling it on other platforms.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Developer Edition for Flatpak

        Our team maintains Firefox RPMs for Fedora and RHEL and a lot of people have been asking us to provide Firefox for Flatpak as well. I’m finally happy to announce Firefox Developer Edition for Flatpak.

      • Firefox Developer Edition Now Available as a Flatpak for Fedora 25, Ubuntu 16.10

        Red Hat’s desktop engineering manager Jiří Eischmann proudly announced today, January 5, 2017, the general availability of Mozilla’s Firefox Developer Edition web browser as a Flatpak package for various Linux distros supporting the technology.

      • Firefox Developer Edition Gets Flatpak’d

        Some great news for fans of distro-agnostic app distribution: Firefox Developer Edition is now available to install as a Flatpak! Yup, the dev-friendly flavour of the venerable open-source browser is available to install messing around with installers, RPMs or unpacking zip files to double-click on binaries tucked up inside.

      • Living Inside the Computer: Building Responsible IoT

        Today, we live online. The Internet intersects with everything from commerce and journalism to art and civic participation.

        But more and more, living online doesn’t mean sitting in front of a screen, mouse in hand. The Internet of Things — the networked computing environment that spans the globe — allows the web to permeate our clothes, our homes, our healthcare. The web is now made up of billions of connected devices and zettabytes of data. It’s pervasive.


        What do we do? Philanthropies like Mozilla, Ford, Knight, MacArthur and Open Society are on the front lines of building a better Internet. And IoT will be the first big battle of 2017. In our paper, we share six guiding principles for better IoT. We’re also planning research, grantmaking and salons to further chart the future. And NetGain is seeking more technologists, activists and entrepreneurs for the movement.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Kubernetes tool saves eBay from its OpenStack woes

      Ebay’s work with OpenStack has yielded fruit: A new container administration tool that makes better use of Docker and Kubernetes.

      This is yet another thumbs-up for containers finding a place as as useful units of work within an organization, and for Kubernetes managing those workloads. But it’s also a sign that even the biggest and most engineer-heavy IT organizations that can bend OpenStack to their will are favoring other solutions out of developer convenience.

    • Open Source, Big Data, and the Governance Challenge

      Recently, John Schroeder, executive chairman and founder of MapR Technologies, Inc., one of the top players in the Big Data arena, was kind enough to give us his predictions on open source anb Big Data topics for 2017. He noted the following: “In 2017, the governance vs. data value tug of war will be front and center.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • Richard Stallman: Goodbye to GNU Libreboot

      When Leah Rowe decided last year she wanted to withdraw Libreboot from being a GNU project, there was the ability for GNU to keep the project and appoint a new maintainer. There was a lot of fighting and rumors about what actually happened, but now Richard Stallman has written an email saying they are indeed going to drop Libreboot from the project.

    • Goodbye to GNU Libreboot

      When a program becomes a GNU package, in principle that relationship is permanent. The program’s maintainers undertake the responsibility to develop it on behalf of the GNU Project. Usually the initial maintainers are the developers that brought it into the GNU Project.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • Open-source plant database confirms top US bioenergy crop

        Scientists have confirmed that Miscanthus, long speculated to be the top biofuel producer, yields more than twice as much as switchgrass in the U.S. using an open-source bioenergy crop database gaining traction in plant science, climate change, and ecology research.

        “To understand yield trends and variation across the country for our major food crops, extensive databases are available—notably those provided by the USDA Statistical Service,” said lead author Stephen Long, Gutgsell Endowed Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. “But there was nowhere to go if you wanted to know about biomass crops, particularly those that have no food value such as Miscanthus, switchgrass, willow trees, etc.”

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Pow! Renault Creates Twizy-Based Open-Source POM (It’s a Car, Sort Of)

        Renault is claiming that it has created the “world’s first open-source mass-market vehicle.” That sort of stretches the definition of mass market—the car, named POM (for Platform Open Mind), is based on the not-for-the-U.S. Twizy ultracompact EV—but the more pressing question is what Renault means when it calls this vehicle open source.

        Turns out the vehicle itself, which Renault introduced at the CES technology show, is not open source, but the software it runs on is. Renault partnered with software specialist OSVehicle and processor maker ARM to crack open the POM’s operating system and will offer the car to “startups, independent laboratories, private customers, and researchers.” The move allows “third parties to copy and modify existing software to create a totally customizable electric vehicle.” Sounds to us like any vehicle could be made to be open source—just take all the security measures off the software and declare it so! But maybe it’s not that simple.

      • Hands On With The First Open Source Microcontroller

        2016 was a great year for Open Hardware. The Open Source Hardware Association released their certification program, and late in the year, a few silicon wizards met in Mountain View to show off the latest happenings in the RISC-V instruction set architecture.

  • Programming/Development

    • Using Clang-format to ensure clean, consistent code

      Too often programmers underestimate the importance a consistent coding style can have on the success of a project. It makes the code base easier to read, reduces nonfunctional changes to fix inconsistent style, and outlines expectations for code submissions. Most large projects have a coding style, and once you have been working on code for a while you come to appreciate the consistency of a style. Some examples of specified style are where to place braces, whether tabs or spaces are used for indentation, how many spaces to indent by, and how to break up long lines.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Users Can Now Access Files in OpenDocument Formats from Android Versions of Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets

      Google has announced that it will be enhancing its documents applications that are available on Android. With the enhancements in place, importing and exporting files will be easy for users.

      Google Docs will now support importing of files in the OpenDocument Text (.odt) format as well as export the files later in the same format. In a similar fashion, OpenDocument Spreadsheets (.ods) files and OpenDocument Presentations (.odp) files will from now on be supported for importation and exportation on the Android versions of Google Sheets and Google Slides, respectively.


  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Says He’s No Longer an Atheist

    The pivot occurs the same year Mark Zuckerberg met with the Pope. In the past Zuckerberg has posted a photo of himself praying at a Buddhist pagoda and praised that religion. His wife, Priscilla Chan, practices Buddhism.

  • Is Mark Zuckerberg Eyeing the White House?

    Donald Trump may be the first U.S. president with no prior political or military experience, but clues from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg suggest he might not be the last.

  • Zuckerberg could run Facebook while serving in government forever

    Mark Zuckerberg is not limited to just two years working in the government while still controlling Facebook, as has been widely misreported. A closer examination of SEC documents reveals Zuck only needs to still own enough Facebook stock or have the board’s approval to be allowed to serve in government indefinitely.

    Combined with Zuckerberg’s announcement yesterday that his 2017 personal challenge is to meet and listen to people in all 50 states, this fact lends weight to the idea that Zuckerberg may be serious about diving into politics.

    Without the limit, Zuckerberg has the opportunity to be appointed or elected to a more significant office and have as much time as he wants to make an impact, rather than just dipping in potentially as a cabinet member whose terms typically last less than two years.

  • Twitter Co-Founder Ev Williams’ Medium Cuts One-Third of Staff

    Medium, the online publishing company started by Twitter co-founder Ev Williams, is changing its business model and cutting a third of its staff.

    The company, which has raised $132 million in venture capital from investors including Greylock Partners and Andreessen Horowitz, relied on the same model as other media companies to make money: placing ads on articles. In a blog post Wednesday, Williams called that model “broken,” because it serves the goals of corporations and not the readers of content.

  • Twitter confirms that Vine will shut down on 17 January

    SOCIAL NETWORK Twitter has confirmed that its Vine video service will close on 17 January.

    The plan to close the video-looping service was announced last year, but this is the first time a set date for the closure has been confirmed.

    “On January 17 the Vine app will become the Vine Camera. We will notify you through the app before this happens,” Twitter said.

    The ‘Vine Camera’ that will still allow you to make videos of up to 6.5 seconds in length that can then be saved to the camera roll or posted to Twitter.

  • WhatsApp block about to stop older iPhones and Android handsets working with popular chat app

    Many WhatsApp users are about to find themselves cut off from using the hugely popular chat app.

    Users of older iPhones and Android handsets are to find the app has stopped working after it said it would stop support from the end of the 2016.

    WhatsApp said that the move had been made to ensure that the app could continue to introduce new features and stay secure, which relies on the app being used on newer operating systems. But it has been criticised by many users, particularly those in developing markets where both the app and older handsets are popular.

  • Fired Snap Employee Sues, Saying Company Inflated Growth Stats

    Snap Inc. was sued by a former employee who says the company, parent of the Snapchat social-media app, was inflating growth metrics ahead of a planned initial public offering.

    Anthony Pompliano, who was hired from Facebook Inc. in 2015 to focus on user growth and engagement, said he was fired after he refused to go along with the figures that made the company look better than it actually was, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The court document redacts information about the disputed metrics.

  • Science

    • Noam Chomsky: You can’t educate yourself by looking things up online

      Fake news has been around long before Facebook, but it was the tech company’s goal to appear like a newspaper that eventually misled its users far more than ever before.

      “Technology is basically neutral,” author Noam Chomsky explained. “It’s kinda like a hammer . . . the hammer doesn’t care whether you use it to build a house or a torturer uses it to crush somebody’s skull . . . same with modern technology [like] the internet. The internet is extremely valuable if you know what you’re looking for.”

      Unfortunately, that’s almost the antithesis of Facebook. And while Paper, the ad-free Facebook news feed app ultimately failed, the social media network had by then successfully developed tools like Smart Publishing. The latter tool for publishers aimed to boost stories on Facebook that were popular with the user’s own network, amplifying the performance of fake news in a scandal-obsessed hyperpartisan era. But until five weeks after the election, there was little distinction on the platform between “news” published by conspiracy theorists and actual trusted news sources.

  • Hardware

    • COM Express modules build on Intel’s Kaby Lake

      MSC announced a pair of Linux-ready COM Express Compact and Basic modules built around Intel’s 7th Gen “Kaby Lake” U and EQ/E series, respectively.

    • Qualcomm Says It Shipped More Than A Billion IoT Chips

      To this date, Qualcomm has shipped over a billion of Internet of Things (IoT) chipsets, the San Diego-based semiconductor manufacturer revealed on Tuesday. While speaking at the CES Unveiled press event yesterday, the company’s Senior Vice President of Product Management Raj Talluri said that the firm is already serving all segments of the IoT industry, from smart TVs and thermostats to connected speakers, wearables, and home assistants. Talluri specifically pointed out that smartphones and tablets aren’t included in the one billion figure.

    • Apple’s 2016 in review

      This has been the winter of our discontent. 2016 was the year the tone changed. There’s always been a lot of criticism and griping about anything Apple does (and doesn’t do — it can’t win) but in 2016 I feel like the tone of the chatter about Apple changed and got a lot more negative.

      This is worrisome on a number of levels and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’m used to watching people kvetch about the company, but this seems — different. One reason: a lot of the criticisms are correct.

      Apple, for the first time in over a decade, simply isn’t firing on all cylinders. Please don’t interpret that as “Apple is doomed” because it’s not, but there are things it’s doing a lot less well than it could — and has. Apple’s out of sync with itself.

      Here are a few of the things I think indicate Apple has gotten itself out of kilter and is in need of some course correction.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • GOP will strip Planned Parenthood of funding while repealing ACA

      As Republican lawmakers eagerly prepare to scrap President Obama’s signature healthcare legislation, the Affordable Care Act, they’ve announced that while doing so, they’ll also strip funding from Planned Parenthood.

      In a press conference Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) confirmed that “Planned Parenthood legislation would be in our reconciliation bill” when asked about potential defunding. The reconciliation bill is the budgetary tool that Republicans plan to use to dismantle the ACA with a simple majority and without the potential for a filibuster. A straight repeal would require a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate, which the Republicans don’t have. A straight repeal would also open the possibility of a filibuster. (For more on how that process would work, check out Ars’ previous coverage on this matter.)

  • Security

    • KillDisk Ransomware Now Targets Linux, Prevents Boot-Up, Has Faulty Encryption
    • KillDisk now targeting Linux: Demands $250K ransom, but can’t decrypt
    • lecture: What could possibly go wrong with (insert x86 instruction here)? [Ed: video]

      Hardware is often considered as an abstract layer that behaves correctly, just executing instructions and outputting a result. However, the internal state of the hardware leaks information about the programs that are executing. In this talk, we focus on how to extract information from the execution of simple x86 instructions that do not require any privileges. Beyond classical cache-based side-channel attacks, we demonstrate how to perform cache attacks without a single memory access, as well as how to bypass kernel ASLR. This talk does not require any knowledge about assembly. We promise.

      When hunting for bugs, the focus is mostly on the software layer. On the other hand, hardware is often considered as an abstract layer that behaves correctly, just executing instructions and outputing a result. However, the internal state of the hardware leaks information about the programs that are running. Unlike software bugs, these bugs are not easy to patch on current hardware, and manufacturers are also reluctant to fix them in future generations, as they are tightly tied with performance optimizations.

    • 8 Docker security rules to live by

      Odds are, software (or virtual) containers are in use right now somewhere within your organization, probably by isolated developers or development teams to rapidly create new applications. They might even be running in production. Unfortunately, many security teams don’t yet understand the security implications of containers or know if they are running in their companies.

      In a nutshell, Linux container technologies such as Docker and CoreOS Rkt virtualize applications instead of entire servers. Containers are superlightweight compared with virtual machines, with no need for replicating the guest operating system. They are flexible, scalable, and easy to use, and they can pack a lot more applications into a given physical infrastructure than is possible with VMs. And because they share the host operating system, rather than relying on a guest OS, containers can be spun up instantly (in seconds versus the minutes VMs require).

    • Zigbee Writes a Universal Language for IoT

      The nonprofit Zigbee Alliance today unveiled dotdot, a universal language for the Internet of Things (IoT).

      The group says dotdot takes the IoT language at Zigbee’s application layer and enables it to work across different networking technologies.

    • $25,000 Prize Offered in FTC IoT Security Challenge

      It appears as if the Federal Trade Commission is getting serious about Internet of Things security issues — and it wants the public to help find a solution. The FTC has announced a contest it’s calling the “IoT Home Inspector Challenge.” What’s more, there’s a big payoff for the winners, with the Top Prize Winner receiving up to $25,000 and each of a possible three “honorable Mentions” getting $3,000. Better yet, winners don’t have to fork over their intellectual property rights, and will retain right to their submissions.

      Of course, the FTC is a federal agency, and with a change of administrations coming up in a couple of weeks, it hedges its bet a bit with a caveat: “The Sponsor retains the right to make a Prize substitution (including a non-monetary award) in the event that funding for the Prize or any portion thereof becomes unavailable.” In other words, Obama has evidently given the go-ahead, but they’re not sure how Trump will follow through.

    • LG threatens to put Wi-Fi in every appliance it releases in 2017

      In the past few years, products at CES have increasingly focused on putting the Internet in everything, no matter how “dumb” the device in question is by nature. It’s how we’ve ended up with stuff like this smart hairbrush, this smart air freshener, these smart ceiling fans, or this $100 pet food bowl that can order things from Amazon.

    • Ex-MI6 Boss: When It Comes To Voting, Pencil And Paper Are ‘Much More Secure’ Than Electronic Systems

      Techdirt has been worried by problems of e-voting systems for a long time now. Before, that was just one of our quaint interests, but over the last few months, the issue of e-voting, and how secure it is from hacking, specifically hacking by foreign powers, has become a rather hot topic. It’s great that the world has finally caught up with Techdirt, and realized that e-voting is not just some neat technology, and now sees that democracy itself is at play. The downside is that because the stakes are so high, the level of noise is too, and it’s really hard to work out how worried we should be about recent allegations, and what’s the best thing to do on the e-voting front.

    • Five things that got broken at the oldest hacking event in the world

      Chaos Communications Congress is the world’s oldest hacker conference, and Europe’s largest. Every year, thousands of hackers gather in Hamburg to share stories, trade tips and discuss the political, social and cultural ramifications of technology.

      As computer security is a big part of the hacker world, they also like to break things. Here are five of the most important, interesting, and impressive things broken this time.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Gunshot wounds are contagious; bullets spread like the flu, study finds

      With our news reports speaking of gunfire epidemics, outbreaks, and plagues, firearm violence often sounds like a disease. But according to a new study, it often acts like one, too. In fact, catching a bullet may be a little like catching a cold—albeit a really bad one.

      Gun violence can ripple through social networks and communities just like an infectious germ, Harvard and Yale researchers reported Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. This may not seem surprising, because earlier work has found that gun violence often clusters in certain areas and groups, particularly those steeped in gangs and drugs. But this study is the first to show that gun violence spreads directly from person to person after shootings—it’s not just about growing up in the same rough neighborhood or having the same risk factors.

      The finding is good news, because, after decades of research, scientists are pretty good at predicting how infections cascade through populations. Applying disease-based theories and simulations to gun violence could help health workers get ahead of bullets and intervene before violence spreads. A more informed strategy could also cut down on intervention tactics that “rest largely on geographic or group-based policing efforts that tend to disproportionately affect disadvantaged minority communities,” the authors argue.

    • US Special Operations Forces Deploy to 138 Nations, 70 Percent of the World’s Countries

      They could be found on the outskirts of Sirte, Libya, supporting local militia fighters, and in Mukalla, Yemen, backing troops from the United Arab Emirates. At Saakow, a remote outpost in southern Somalia, they assisted local commandos in killing several members of the terror group al-Shabab. Around the cities of Jarabulus and Al-Rai in northern Syria, they partnered with both Turkish soldiers and Syrian militias, while also embedding with Kurdish YPG fighters and the Syrian Democratic Forces. Across the border in Iraq, still others joined the fight to liberate the city of Mosul. And in Afghanistan, they assisted indigenous forces in various missions, just as they have every year since 2001.

      For America, 2016 may have been the year of the commando. In one conflict zone after another across the northern tier of Africa and the Greater Middle East, US Special Operations forces (SOF) waged their particular brand of low-profile warfare. “Winning the current fight, including against the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and other areas where SOF is engaged in conflict and instability, is an immediate challenge,” the chief of US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), General Raymond Thomas, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last year.

    • Potential New FCC Boss Blames Obama For The Washington Post’s Botched Russian Utility Hacking Story

      We’ve noted how one of Trump’s top telecom advisors is Jeffrey Eisenach, a long-time Verizon consultant and aggressive opponent of net neutrality. Eisenach’s one of three Trump advisors who have made it clear their top priority in the new administration will be to not only gut net neutrality, but to defang and defund the FCC as a consumer watchdog on telecom issues. Eisenach isn’t just an advisor, he’s also on the shortlist to be the next head of an agency he doesn’t believe in.

      But when Eisenach isn’t busy dreaming about dismantling net neutrality, he can apparently be found writing logically incoherent op-eds over at the Wall Street Journal. In a strange little tirade posted on January 3, Eisenach quite correctly ridicules the Washington Post’s recent false claim that Russians were busy hacking U.S. utilities. In short, a piece of common malware was found on one PC, and because the Washington Post couldn’t be bothered to even call the company in question, the paper created a bogus narrative, based entirely on anonymous sources, that casually pushed the country closer to war.

    • ‘Jihad! Jihad!’ Migrant gang turns Swedish city into war zone

      Photographer Freddy Mardell was planning on enjoying an evening out on Saturday when the mob launched their rampage in Malmo.

      Describing scenes of horror, the Swede said one thug was calling for “jihad” while standing on top of a car in the city centre.

      Mr Mardell told Friatider: “An Arab jumped on the roof of a car and yelled ‘Jihad! Jihad!’ repeatedly.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Emails were leaked, not hacked

      It has been several weeks since the New York Times reported that “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” led the CIA to believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin “deployed computer hackers” to help Donald Trump win the election. But the evidence released so far has been far from overwhelming.

      The long anticipated Joint Analysis Report issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI on Dec. 29 met widespread criticism in the technical community. Worse still, some of the advice it offered led to a very alarmist false alarm about supposed Russian hacking into a Vermont electric power station.

      Advertised in advance as providing proof of Russian hacking, the report fell embarrassingly short of that goal. The thin gruel that it did contain was watered down further by the following unusual warning atop page 1: “DISCLAIMER: This report is provided ‘as is’ for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.”

    • Sputnik, RT – Grave Concern of Infamous Liar James Clapper
  • Finance

    • Fat Cat Wednesday: Top executives have already earned the average worker’s entire annual salary

      Senior executives have already made more money in 2017 than the average British worker will earn all year, new research shows.

      The High Pay Centre has dubbed today “Fat Cat Wednesday”, after finding that bosses will rake in the median salary of £28,200 by midday.

      With average hourly salaries of £1,000 an hour it has taken less than three days to out-earn the typical worker. Meanwhile the national living wage stands at £7.20 per hour.

    • EU’s Brexit strategy: Grab the popcorn

      Why should the European Union jump into the Brexit fight, when the United Kingdom is doing such a great job of fighting itself?

      For Brussels, the surprise resignation Tuesday of Sir Ivan Rogers, the U.K.’s seasoned and well-respected ambassador to the EU, provided the most dramatic and forceful validation yet of the bloc’s discipline in insisting that negotiations would not begin until the formal triggering of Article 50.

      Over the half-year since the vote in favor of Brexit, leaders of the remaining EU27 have watched, with dismay, and no small amount of disbelief, as Britain battled itself: the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron; the messy in-fighting among Tories to replace him; the disintegration of the UKIP leadership, which led to a physical altercation in the European Parliament; and every manner of dispute and disagreement over whether Brexit should be hard or soft, quick or gradual, blah, blah, blah.

    • Corporations Prepare to Gorge on Tax Cuts Trump Claims Will Create Jobs

      The official line from U.S.-based multinational corporations is that if they get a huge tax break, they’ll bring home the trillions of dollars in profits they’ve stashed overseas and use it to hire tons of Americans. (Nearly 3 million, says the U.S. Chamber of Commerce!)

      But now that Donald Trump’s election means it might really happen, corporate executives are telling Wall Street analysts what they’ll actually use that money for: enriching their shareholders and buying other companies.

      The Intercept’s examination of dozens of earnings calls and investor conference talks since Trump won the presidential election finds that many executives are telling analysts at large banks that they are eager to take the money to increase dividends and stock buybacks as well as snap up competitors. They demonstrate considerably less if any enthusiasm for going on a domestic hiring spree.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Bernie Sanders Brings Giant Printout of a Donald Trump Tweet to Senate Floor

      Bernie Sanders spoke on the Senate floor on Wednesday to urge Donald Trump to veto any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid—and used one of the President-elect’s own tweets to prove his point.

      As lawmakers debated the repeal of Obamacare, Sanders pointed out that Trump had previously said he would not cut the services through a giant printout of a tweet dating to May 2015.

      “I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid,” Trump claimed at the time. “Huckabee copied me.”

    • GOP-style obstruction won’t work for Democrats: Column

      On Inauguration Day in 2009, top Republican leaders and strategists gathered for a private dinner at the Caucus Room restaurant to discuss how they were going to obstruct and derail Barack Obama’s presidency. It wasn’t a policy dinner about their ideological concerns, Robert Draper wrote in his 2012 book about the GOP-run House. It was a political dinner about obstruction as a tactic.

      Today, many Democrats — myself included — are asking whether our party leaders need to have a similar dinner on Jan. 20 to discuss how we can obstruct and oppose every move by the Trump administration.

      The theory goes that Republican obstruction was successful at stymieing the Obama administration, and that the strategy led to the GOP’s electoral successes. Some feel we should take it straight from their playbook and use it against them. I get the feeling. It’s partially an emotional reaction to this election and to eight years of unmitigated and unjustified obstruction.

    • The Confirmation Process Is an Opportunity to Expose Trump’s Big Lie

      Donald Trump’s reign of ruin began even before his inauguration, when the GOP House caucus voted to geld the independent Office of Congressional Ethics before its members were even sworn in, only to retreat in the face of public outcry and (ironically) Trump tweets. Once Congress convenes, the first order of business will be a reconciliation bill that would begin the repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a plan to replace it. The first skirmishes will come as Senate committees commence hearings on the billionaires, generals, and ideologues that Trump has chosen for his cabinet.

      Trump’s choices—economist Simon Johnson characterizes them as rule by “extreme oligarchy”—personify the president-elect’s own bait-and-switch, from the fake populist of the campaign trail to country-club reactionary. Their shared priorities include deep top-end tax cuts, wholesale deregulation of public protections, and the privatization of public services. They claim these measures will spark growth and generate jobs. In fact, they’ll open up a new era of predation, with CEOs salivating at the chance to gorge themselves on the public dime. At risk are the essential public services and protections on which Americans depend.

    • Glenn Greenwald on “Dearth of Evidence” Linking Russia to WikiLeaks Release of DNC Emails

      We speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Glenn Greenwald as the Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on alleged Russian cyber-attacks and top intelligence officials are briefing President Obama on a review of evidence that Russia hacked the email servers of the Democratic National Committee. President-elect Trump will be briefed on Friday. This comes as he is supporting statements by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that Russia was not the source for the mass leak of emails from the Democratic Party.

    • Debugging Democracy

      I began writing this column on November 9, 2016, on the balcony of a hotel in Istanbul, while a call to prayer echoed through the streets below. I took that as good advice, because a few hours earlier my country elected an Internet troll, Donald Trump, as its president Perhaps by now we’re calling this day 11/9, in the mold of 9/11. I’m an optimistic guy, but color me pessimistic about where my country is now heading, led by a world-class narcissist.

      And forgive me for obsessing not only about where this is going, but how we got here. Our country has been hacked, and that matters.

      Disclosure: I’m a political independent, and not a fan of Hillary Clinton, though I thought she was the only sensible choice, given Trump’s shortcomings, many of which should have disqualified him, flat out. But he won. Why?

    • The agony and the ecstasy of Kurt Eichenwald

      Amid the uproar of Donald Trump’s seemingly impossible rise to the highest office in the land, liberals hungered for an authoritative voice. They found it in Newsweek writer Kurt Eichenwald, a former Republican who regularly deals in histrionics, bombast, and questionable ethics. Eichenwald, whose self-hyped pieces have nary broken news, has become infamous both for his wrongness and for his regular Twitter meltdowns. And yet, he has more than 200,000 followers on Twitter, a legion of influential fans, and is a frequent guest on cable news. Why has a bad and possibly corrupt journalist become a voice of the left? In all of his essence, Kurt Eichenwald is the journalist that the left deserves, and maybe it’s time for his wild media ride to end.

      Eichenwald had a strong start as a newsman. He worked at The New York Times for more than 20 years, where he had a decorated career covering Wall Street, malpractice in kidney dialysis facilities, for-profit hospitals, and the fall of Enron. His run might have been remembered as a triumph of solid journalism, with Eichenwald cast as a modern Upton Sinclair. But, much like H. L. Mencken’s reporting on the Scopes Trial was later tarnished by his anti-Semitism, Eichenwald’s mainstream success led to a dramatic and tawdry fall that served to reduce his accomplishments to little more than a footnote.

    • FBI says Democrats refused access to hacked email servers

      The Democratic National Committee rebuffed requests by federal agents to inspect computer servers that had been breached last year during the presidential campaign, forcing them to rely on third-party cybersecurity data to investigate the hack, the FBI said.

      The revelation came hours before U.S. intelligence chiefs are set to brief President-elect Donald Trump on their assessment that Russia was behind the attack. On Capitol Hill Thursday, they rejected Trump’s repeated skepticism about their findings that senior Russian officials were to blame for the hacking and leaks of emails from Democratic officials and organizations backing Hillary Clinton.

    • Assange: Governments Lie & WikiLeaks Wants to Expose the Truth

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says that governments, including here in the U.S., regularly lie and use propaganda to manipulate the minds of their citizens.

      In a “Hannity” exclusive interview, Assange said the goal of WikiLeaks is to expose that truth to people, without any political agenda.

      Assange explained that the media failed to do that during the U.S. election process because the majority of them felt like they were part of the same system as the Washington establishment.

    • Assange’s Advice for Trump: Learn From Democrats’ Mistakes

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange believes that the Democratic Party must have a “reformation” after a disastrous showing in the 2016 election.

      In an exclusive interview with Sean Hannity, Assange said that Democrats still haven’t come to terms with why they did so poorly.

      He said they must accept that they alienated voters by “rigging” the presidential primary process and not picking the strongest candidate.

    • The Coming State of Fear

      Despite not even being installed in office yet, the soon-to-be-leader of the United States brazenly deployed the platform to carry out government contracting cronyism, call for the imprisonment of flag-burners, and get death-threats rained down upon a unionist who contradicted one of the incoming administration’s best narratives.

      Trump, somehow, has managed to now top all these by using Twitter to announce the advent of a new nuclear arms race – a Cold War 2.0 against, oddly enough, Vladimir Putin.

      Every step Trump has taken since election day has confirmed many of the worst fears of anarchists and libertarians. This latest maneuver is a continuation, for nuclear arms build-up is one of the gravest threats to the possibility of a stateless society. It not only casts long-term doubts on the survivability of the human civilization (or even the species, for that matter); in the short-term it reinforces all the worst and repressive elements of the state. This stems from the undeniable fact that the mere presence of the nuclear weapon is little more than an act of state-sponsored terrorism. It exists solely to provoke fear, anxiety, existential dread. The crude and atrocious actions committed by the United States at the end of the Second World War hang like a pall over any arms build-up. To create a single nuclear weapon is to spell out a warning to the world: we will flatten your cities and incinerate your countryside. We will turn your citizens into dust.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The End of Democracy in Turkey

      Following the New Year’s Eve attack in Istanbul, democracy in Turkey is likely to enter a death spiral. The issue isn’t the attack itself, terrible as it was. On New Year’s Eve, a lone gunman made his way into the Reina dance club, which was jammed with revellers, and opened fire with an assault rifle, killing thirty-nine people and wounding dozens. The shooter has not yet been identified, but, in an Internet posting, the Islamic State claimed that one of its soldiers had done the job. In its typical deranged language, the group said that it had happily struck the revellers, “turning their joy into sorrows.” The attack, the group said, was in retaliation for air strikes and other military operations carried out by the “Turkish apostate government” against ISIS in Syria.

      If the shooting were an isolated event, the effect on Turkish society would probably be minimal. But it was the latest in a series of violent attacks against the Turkish state, which has prompted sweeping retaliatory measures that have seriously undermined Turkish democracy. Sunday morning’s massacre will no doubt trigger another wave of detentions and arrests.

    • Italy Urges Europe To Begin Censoring Free Speech On The Internet

      First it was the US, then Germany blamed much of what is wrong in society on “fake news”, and not, say, a series of terrible decisions made by politicians. Now it is Italy’s turn to call for an end to “fake news”, which in itself would not be troubling, however, the way Giovanni Pitruzzella, head of the Italian competition body, demands the European Union “cracks down” on what it would dub “fake news” is nothing short of a total crackdown on all free speech, and would give local governments free reign to silence any outlet that did not comply with the establishment propaganda.

      In an interview with the FT, Pitruzzella said the regulation of false information on the internet was best done by the state rather than by social media companies such as Facebook, an approach taken previously by Germany, which has demanded that Facebook end “hate speech” and has threatened to find the social network as much as €500K per “fake” post.

      Pitruzzella, head of the Italian competition body since 2011, said “EU countries should set up independent bodies — co-ordinated by Brussels and modeled on the system of antitrust agencies — which could quickly label fake news, remove it from circulation and impose fines if necessary.”

      In other words, a series of unelected bureaucrats, unaccountable to anyone, would sit down and between themselves decide what is and what isn’t “fake news”, and then, drumroll, “remove it from circulation.” On the other hand, coming one week after Obama give Europe the green light to engage in any form of censorship and halt of free speech that it desires, when the outgoing US president voted into law the “Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act”, it should come as no surprise that a suddenly emboldened Europe is resorting to such chilling measures.

    • Apple bows to government demands and removes the New York Times from Chinese App Store

      APPLE HAS bowed to the demands of Chinese authorities and removed the New York Times from its Chinese App Store.

      According to a report at, er, the New York Times, Apple removed both the English-language and Chinese-language apps from the App Store in China on 23 December, and said the move came as part of a wider attempt by the Chinese government to prevent readers in the country from accessing independent news coverage.

      “The request by the Chinese authorities to remove our apps is part of their wider attempt to prevent readers in China from accessing independent news coverage by the New York Times of that country, coverage which is no different from the journalism we do about every other country in the world,” a spokesperson for the newspaper said.

      Apple said they had been informed the app violated Chinese regulations but did not say what rules had been broken.

    • China Internet Censorship: New York Times Apps Removed
    • Apple removes New York Times app in China
    • New York Times App Removed From App Store in China
    • Apple pulls NYT apps from China’s App Store to comply with “local regulations”
    • Single Choke Point Problems: Apple Removes NY Times App From Chinese App Store After Chinese Gov’t Complains
    • Censorship tool built as Facebook eyes China: report
    • Self-Proclaimed Inventor of Email Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Techdirt’s Mike Masnick

      Techdirt founder Mike Masnick will be going toe-to-toe in court with Charles Harder, the Hollywood attorney who famously represented Hulk Hogan in the sex tape lawsuit that brought down Gawker.

      On Wednesday, Harder’s client Shiva Ayyadurai filed a $15 million libel lawsuit in Massachusetts against Masnick, Leigh Beadon and Techdirt parent company Floor64 Inc. over articles that doubted Ayyadurai’s claim to have invented email.

      Ayyadurai previously sued Gawker in a lawsuit that many suspected was funded by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel. Ayyadurai recently settled the claim for $750,000. He and Harder now have a new legal target.

      For Techdirt, Masnick writes a wonky tech policy blog that has earned a loyal following for taking strong stances on issues like copyright, net neutrality, security issues and other topics. His name provokes eye-rolling among many studio lawyers thanks to his frequently hostile attitude toward aggressive intellectual property actions. He was one of the noisiest antagonists toward the Stop Online Piracy Act a few years ago. He’s also credited with coining the term, “The Streisand Effect,” to describe the phenomenon of how attempts to censor information often lead to more awareness of the very information someone is trying to hide. The phrase came after entertainer Barbara Streisand aimed more than a decade ago to suppress photographic images of her Malibu, Calif., residence.

    • ‘Inventor of Email’ Slaps Tech Site With $15M Libel Suit for Mocking His Claim

      A self-proclaimed inventor of email, Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, has taken exception to doubts about his accomplishment by a website called TechDirt, and chosen to file a $15 million defamation suit against the site and its founder, Mike Masnick.

      The case is likely to raise alarm in media circles because Ayyadurai is being represented by Charles Harder, a Beverly Hills attorney. Harder became famous by directing a stealth legal campaign—bankrolled by billionaire Peter Thiel—against Gawker Media that ultimately drove the website into bankruptcy with a $140 million Florida jury verdict.

      In the new lawsuit filed on Wednesday in Boston, Ayyadurai claims that a series of posts on TechDirt amount to libel—in part because the posts call Ayyadurai a “fake email inventor” and a “fraudster” and calls his claims to have invented the technology “bogus.”

    • Free Speech in 2017: Is the Town Square Model of Democracy Dead?

      A year ago, preparing to teach my undergraduate free speech class I found myself questioning free speech fundamentalism. Struck by the unseemly reality of free expression and the unsettling insights of Kelefah Sanneh in The Hell You Say, the simple comforting notion that more speech is always better than less speech seemed suspect.

      Now, one must question the very assumptions of U.S. First Amendment (1A) jurisprudence, which have been laid bare by “post-truth” politics, in which the very concepts of truth and reality have been trumped. In 2016, volume prevailed over reason, and feelings over facts (for more, see here). A cynical carnival barker hoodwinked the citizenry, begging the question: Is the town square model of democracy dead?

    • IMDb Asks Court to Prohibit Enforcement of Actor Age Censorship Law

      Internet movie hub IMDb is asking the court to prohibit the enforcement of a new law that bars it from displaying an actor’s age on its site if the actor doesn’t want it posted.

      The controversial law was signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown in September. Its goal is to mitigate age discrimination in a youth-obsessed Hollywood, but since its passing it has been widely criticized as unconstitutional. IMDb sued California Attorney General Kamala Harris in November, arguing that the law chills free speech rather than addressing the root causes of age discrimination.

    • Sen. Tom Cotton Slams Apple Over China Censorship And FBI Dispute
    • When Facebook nixed a naughty Neptune
    • Facebook bans image of 16th-century statue’s buttocks for being “explicitly sexual”
    • Shoddy Facebook censorship strikes again as an image of sea god Neptune is deemed innapropriate
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • FTC takes D-Link to court citing lax product security, privacy perils

      The FTC, in a complaint filed in the Northern District of California charged that “D-Link failed to take reasonable steps to secure its routers and Internet Protocol (IP) cameras, potentially compromising sensitive consumer information, including live video and audio feeds from D-Link IP cameras.”

      For its part, D-Link Systems said it “is aware of the complaint filed by the FTC. D-Link denies the allegations outlined in the complaint and is taking steps to defend the action. The security of our products and protection of our customers private data is always our top priority.”

    • WikiLeaks data reveals close cooperation between German intelligence and NSA

      The German foreign secret service (BND) has not only delivered data to the US intelligence services on a massive scale, it has also worked directly with the NSA in developing detection software. This has been confirmed by extensive data published by the WikiLeaks platform at the beginning of December. It documents the close cooperation between German and American intelligence agencies and reveals new details.

      The data contains about 90 gigabytes of information. It consists of a total of 2,420 files, which were forwarded in 2015 to the German parliamentary committee that is currently investigating the activities of the intelligence services. According to WikiLeaks, the data originates from several German federal authorities, including the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the Federal Office for Constitutional Protection (BfV) and the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).

    • Top NSA defender departs agency

      Curtis Dukes, the top cyber defender at the National Security Agency, is leaving the agency for a leadership post at the Center for Internet Security, a not-for-profit cybersecurity organization.

      Dukes, who headed up the NSA’s Information Assurance Directorate, was bumped down the NSA org chart a bit during a recent reorganization – one of the biggest in its history – that combined the agency’s offensive and defensive capabilities and personnel.

    • NSA: Russia Is the Top U.S. Competitor in Cyberspace
    • It’s Now Clearer Than Ever That Snowden’s No Hero and Deserves No Pardon From Obama
    • Snowden and Vanunu: Spies, Whistleblowers, Movies and Books
    • Why President Obama Can’t Pardon Edward Snowden

      On September 14, 2016, days before the premiere of Oliver Stone’s hagiographic movie Snowden, Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International launched a well-funded campaign, with full-page ads in The New York Times, imploring President Barack Obama to pardon Edward Snowden, a former contract worker at the National Security Agency, for stealing a vast number of secret documents. “I think Oliver will do more for Snowden in two hours than his lawyers have been able to do in three years,” said Snowden’s ACLU lawyer, Ben Wizner.

    • 29 Percent Of Americans Say Snowden Should Be Prosecuted

      A poll by the Economist indicated Wednesday only 29 percent of Americans want to see National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden prosecuted for stealing secrets, and 30 percent would support pardoning him.

      Snowden has been in Russian exile since 2013 when he leaked hundreds of classified documents published by the Guardian, Washington Post, Der Spiegel, the New York Times and WikiLeaks. He faces two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917.

    • End-to-End Encrypted group chats via XMPP

      It’s been over a year since my colleagues and I at the Progressive Technology Project abandoned Skype, first for IRC and soon after for XMPP. Thanks to the talented folks maintaining conversations.im it’s been a breeze to get everyone setup with accounts (8 Euros/year is quite worth it) and a group chat going.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Open letter to the European Parliament on Oettinger hearing

      Next week, you are asked to reply to European Commission President Juncker’s proposal to put Commissioner Günther Oettinger in charge of supervising the EU budget and managing the Human Resources of the European Commission.

      As organisations working towards equality, non-discrimination and campaigning for transparency and ethics, we do not think that Commissioner Oettinger is suitable to oversee Human Resources at the European Commission.

      Commissioner Oettinger has made racist, sexist and homophobic remarks on several occasions in the past, most recently at a speech he gave in an official capacity in Hamburg on 26 October.

      At this crucial moment for the EU, it is more vital than ever to have a strong and credible commitment from the European Commission to counter discrimination and act for equality for all. The Commissioner in charge of human resources must lead by example. He or she should have clear plans for action to make equality for all a reality and speak out against racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia. How else would they be expected to inspire others to do the same? In our view, Commissioner Oettinger is not the right person for this task.

    • Man killed in Malmö shooting

      Police were called to the Docentgatan street in the southern Swedish city at around 8.30pm on Tuesday after residents in the area reported hearing the sound of gunshots.

    • Woman, 18, found with gunshot wounds in Malmö

      An 18-year-old woman has been taken to hospital after she was found with gunshot wounds in the Rosengård district of Malmö in the early hours of Tuesday.

      Police were called to a shooting at around 3.30am at a falafel restaurant at Västra Kattarpsvägen road in Malmö. When they arrived at the scene they found a woman with gunshot wounds.

    • Image insulting Islam not uploaded on Facebook using Hindu fisherman’s phone: PBI

      The image which led to the attacks on Hindus at Nasirnagar was not uploaded on Facebook from the phone used by a Hindu fisherman accused of ‘insulting Islam’, an investigation has revealed.

      The image was edited on the computer used by one Jahangir Alam, a cyber cafe owner in Harinberh Bazar, according to the Police of Bureau of Investigation.

      But the detectives were not sure if the same computer was used to upload it on the social media site.

    • Jakarta governor lambasts hardliner at blasphemy trial

      Jakarta’s Christian governor today shouted at an Islamic hardliner testifying against him in dramatic scenes at his blasphemy trial, seen as a test of religious tolerance in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.

      Hundreds of supporters and opponents of governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama rowdily traded insults as they rallied outside the hearing in the Indonesian capital, with thousands of police deployed to prevent clashes.

      The first Christian to govern the capital in more than 50 years, Purnama is on trial accused of blasphemy over remarks he made about the Quran while campaigning ahead of February elections for the Jakarta governorship.

      Hundreds of thousands of conservative Muslims have protested against the leader, known by his nickname Ahok, in recent months in the largest demonstrations in Indonesia in years, but he denies insulting Islam and his supporters say the case is politically motivated.

    • Bosnia’s main university suspends classes during Muslim prayers

      Bosnia’s main university will not hold classes during Muslim Friday prayers, prompting criticism from some that it represents a step towards Islamisation.

      The University of Sarajevo this week adopted a plan to halt activities for about an-hour-and-a-half each Friday during Muslim prayers.

    • Bahrain NSA powers limited to terror crimes
    • Bahrain, reversing reform, restores arrest powers to spies
    • Bahrain suspends, investigates 3 officials over prison break
    • Japan to recall envoy from South Korea over ‘comfort women’ statue

      Japan said on Friday it was temporarily recalling its ambassador to South Korea over a statue commemorating Korean women forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War Two which it said violated an agreement to resolve the issue.

      The two nations agreed in 2015 that the issue of “comfort women”, which has long plagued ties between the two Asian neighbors, would be “finally and irreversibly resolved” if all conditions of the accord – which included a Japanese apology and a fund to help the victims – were met.

      The statue, which depicts a young, barefoot woman sitting in a chair, was erected near the Japanese consulate in the southern South Korean city of Busan at the end of last year.

    • Obama, Deporter in Chief, Should Pardon the Undocumented

      Donald Trump will soon sweep into the office of the U.S. presidency, buttressed by both houses of Congress firmly in Republican control. A wave of regressive executive orders and legislation are already being prepared to ensure that Trump’s first 100 days effectively erase the Obama presidency. Where Trump was once the most prominent “birther,” attempting to deny President Barack Obama’s legitimacy with a racist campaign accusing him of being born in Kenya, Trump now will wield a pen to legally undermine Obama’s legacy. But Barack Obama is still the president of the United States until Jan. 20, and retains the enormous executive powers that the office bestows. That is why a swelling grass-roots movement is now urging Obama to use executive clemency and the presidential pardon to protect the nation’s millions of undocumented immigrants from the mass deportations Trump repeatedly promised on the campaign trail.

    • In the Best Interest of Justice: Former Peltier Prosecutor Joins Urgent Activist Calls For Clemency

      In a “truly extraordinary” and evidently unprecedented act, a former prosecutor of Native American activist Leonard Peltier, now 72, ill, and in his 41st year in prison for a shooting he has unceasingly denied committing, has joined the decades-long demands of legal experts, indigenous leaders and rights advocates to free one of this country’s most high-profile political prisoners. Peltier’s conviction stems from the American Indian Movement’s 1973 siege at South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation, site of the Wounded Knee massacre of Lakota in 1890. After a long occupation protesting the federal government’s unjust treatment and broken treaties, two FBI agents and one Native American were killed. Peltier was eventually found guilty of shooting the agents, and sentenced to two life sentences.

      Peltier remains in prison despite years of legal battles and repeated claims that federal agents lied, coerced witnesses and withheld evidence at his trial; ultimately, the prosecution admitted they couldn’t prove who shot the agents. Peltier attorney and former federal prosecutor Cynthia Dunne calls the FBI’s case “yesterday’s equivalent of a Trump tweet that has lasted for 40 years.” Calling his ongoing imprisonment “one of the greatest injustices in the American justice system,” Dunne and other attorneys filed a clemency request last year to President Obama in hopes he will include Peltier in a final flurry of pardons. Their plea was one of many on behalf of Peltier, from Amnesty International to Standing Rock Sioux Chief Dave Archambault. If Obama fails to act, his attorneys say Peltier will die in prison.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T Already Backing Off Its Biggest Time Warner Merger Promise: Cheaper TV

      AT&T has spent the last few months fending off critics of its planned $100 million acquisition of Time Warner. Most critics say the company’s ownership of Time Warner will make it harder for streaming competitors to license the content they need to compete. Others warn that AT&T’s decision to zero rate (cap exempt) its own content gives the company’s new DirecTV Now streaming TV service an unfair advantage in the market. That’s before you get to the fundamental fact that letting a company with the endless ethical issues AT&T enjoys get significantly larger likely only benefits AT&T.

    • Ad Industry Wants New FCC Broadband Privacy Rules Gutted Because, Uh, Free Speech!

      We’ve noted repeatedly how Trump’s incoming telecom advisors have made it very clear they not only want to gut net neutrality, but defund and defang the FCC. That means rolling back all manner of other recent FCC policies, like the agency’s recently approved broadband privacy rules. While ISPs and advertisers threw a collective hissy fit about the rules, they really were relatively fundamental; simply requiring that ISPs not only make it clear what’s being collected and who it’s being sold to, but requiring they provide working opt-out tools to broadband subscribers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Trademark Dispute Between Coffee Companies Over ‘Detroit’ Trademark Demonstrates The USPTO’s Carelessness

        It bears repeating: far too many of the trademark disputes we cover here at Techdirt are in large part the fault of a USPTO all too willing to grant trademarks on terms that are overtly either broad or based on geography. One would hope that it went without saying that trademarks, designed to inform the public as to the source of the products they buy, cannot work to that end if the identifying marks are not specific or original within the marketplace. Yet the Trademark Office too often doesn’t seem to consider this when rubber-stamping applications.

    • Copyrights

      • Indian High Court Blocks Rent-Seeking Collection Societies From Seeking Any More Rent

        Once again, we have an entity supposedly looking out for artists doing what it can to prevent artists from earning a living. This is what they won’t be able to do now, thanks to a change in the nation’s copyright law.

        Blocking these societies from collecting performance royalties won’t do much for the artists signed to them. But then again, the collection societies weren’t doing much for artists in the first place. IPRS has been particularly shady. Many royalty collection societies are known for their extremely limited distribution of funds. Those that do pay out more regularly still tend to hand the bulk of it to charting artists, no matter who actually earned it.

      • Court: Fan-Funded Star Trek Film is Not ‘Fair Use’

        The lawsuit between Paramount Pictures and the crowdfunded Star Trek spin-off “Prelude to Axanar” is gearing up for a trial. This week the court ruled on motions for summary judgment from both parties. While the case could still go both ways, the court has decided that the fan-film is not entitled to a fair use defense.

      • What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2017?

        Current US law extends copyright for 70 years after the date of the author’s death, and corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication. But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years—an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1960 would enter the public domain on January 1, 2017, where they would be “free as the air to common use.” Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2056.1 And no published works will enter our public domain until 2019. The laws in other countries are different—thousands of works are entering the public domain in Canada and the EU on January 1.

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