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02.16.17

Links 16/2/2017: HITMAN for GNU/Linux, Go 1.8

Posted in News Roundup at 7:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why enterprises should embrace open source

    The techie cold war did eventually thaw with projects like MIT’s Project Athena and Stallman’s work with Emacs and GPL leading a transformation in the way people worked. Project Athena allowed all the disparate corporate systems to work together through common protocols, ultimately enabling businesses and home users the freedom to mix and match their hardware and software as they pleased.

  • Wickr Releases Crypto Protocol on GitHub

    Secure messaging service Wickr is opening its core cryptographic protocol to review by making the code available on GitHub. The move is a first for the company, which until now had kept its efforts proprietary.

  • Encrypted chat app Wickr opens code for public review

    Security researchers have wanted a peek at Wickr’s code since the secure messaging app launched in 2012, and now they’re finally getting that chance. Wickr is publishing its code for Wickr Professional, the subscription-based enterprise version of its free messaging app, today for public review.

  • Wickr, the encrypted messaging app, finally goes open source

    Finally, Wickr has released its core crypto code to the open source community.

    The end-to-end encrypted messaging service launched in 2012, long before Signal took off and WhatsApp rolled out encryption of its own.Yet Wickr became one of the last to publish its code to the open source community.

    The service’s use of encrypted and disappearing messaging, à la Snapchat, helped to gain users’ trust that their messages wouldn’t be stolen, leaked, or exposed to either hackers or federal agents.

    But the company’s choice to restrict access to its crypto code made it impossible for anyone to be sure that the service was free from vulnerabilities or backdoors, except for a very few select cryptographers and security auditors.

  • Open Source First: A manifesto for private companies

    This is a manifesto that any private organization can use to frame their collaboration transformation. Take a read and let me know what you think.

    I presented a talk at the Linux TODO group using this article as my material. For those of you who are not familiar with the TODO group, they support open source leadership at commercial companies. It is important to lean on each other because legal, security, and other shared knowledge is so important for the open source community to move forward. This is especially true because we need to represent both the commercial and public community best interests.

  • Container file system from Portworx goes open source

    Portworx, a provider of container data services for DevOps, has announced that it is open-sourcing a filesystem that is purpose-built for containers: the Layer Cloning File System (LCFS). Created to encourage increased innovation in a fundamental technology that boots all containers, LCFS aims to improve the speed of downloading, booting, tearing-down, and building containers.

    LCFS operates directly on top of block devices, as opposed to two filesystems that are then merged. The filesystem also directly manages at the container image’s layer level, effectively eliminating the overhead of having a second filesystem that is later merged.

  • [Older] Baidu’s deep learning framework adopts Kubernetes

    PaddlePaddle, Baidu’s open source framework for deep learning, is now compatible with the Kubernetes cluster management system to allow large models to be trained anywhere Kubernetes can run.

    This doesn’t simply expand the range of systems that can be used for PaddlePaddle training; it also provides end-to-end deep learning powered by both projects.

  • Why is IoT Popular? Because of Open Source, Big Data, Security and SDN

    Why is everyone talking about the Internet of Things (IoT)? It’s not because the IoT is a new concept — it’s not — but rather because the IoT intersects with several other key trends in the tech world, from open source and big data to cybersecurity and software-defined networking.

  • Announcing TensorFlow 1.0

    In just its first year, TensorFlow has helped researchers, engineers, artists, students, and many others make progress with everything from language translation to early detection of skin cancer and preventing blindness in diabetics. We’re excited to see people using TensorFlow in over 6000 open-source repositories online.

  • Google announces TensorFlow 1.0 with brand new machine learning tools
  • Google releases TensorFlow 1.0 with new machine learning tools
  • Google releases TensorFlow 1.0
  • Google’s TensorFlow hits v1.0 with upgrades to speed, flexibility, and production-readiness
  • Google TensorFlow Updated To v1.0 With New API Modules
  • Just finished your first TensorFlow app? Might be time for a rewrite…
  • Google Releases TensorFlow 1.0, Its Open Source Machine Learning Framework
  • ReactOS 0.4.4 Released

    Today marks the fifth release of the ReactOS 0.4.x series, as well as the fifth following the 4 month release cycle started by 0.4.0 itself. Progress has continued steadily, with a great deal of work going on in the background to improve ReactOS’ general usability and stability. Many of these improvements were on display at the FOSDEM convention in Brussels that took place on the 4th and 5th of this month. Certainly one of the more notable albeit less visible additions was the incorporation of basic printing support by Colin Finck. At present ReactOS is only capable of sending print commands to a parallel port printer, but this is the first step towards universal support and Colin should be applauded for his effort. A video demonstration of it can be viewed here.

  • ReactOS 0.4.4 Released with Initial Printing Support, Rendering Improvements

    A new stable maintenance update of the ReactOS 0.4 series of operating system that tries to recreate the design principles of Windows NT and offer binary compatibility is now available for download, versioned 0.4.4.

    Coming exactly three months after the release of ReactOS 0.4.3, a point release that ReactOS 0.4.4 implemented the Winsock library and fixed over 340 bugs, ReactOS 0.4.4 is here to add initial printing support, as well as various general stability and usability improvements, most of which were planned during the FOSDEM 2017 meeting.

  • Ivy League astronomers take exoplanet hunting open-source

    If you’ve ever wanted to join the ranks of career scientists and academics who hunt for exoplanets using the world’s most powerful telescopes, your day has come. This week, an international team of astronomers including a delegation from MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Yale released to the public a huge set of exoplanet-detecting observations taken with the radial velocity method. To demonstrate the utility of the data set, they used it to find more than 100 exoplanets, all within 100 parsecs of us. There’s even one orbiting a near neighboring star to our own Solar System, GJ 411, which lies about 8.1 light years from Earth.

  • Why I’m Not a Full-Throttle FOSS Advocate

    I’m not this kind of hypocrite. I’m a pragmatic computer user. I use free software wherever I can, and open source as my #2 preference. But the main thing is that the software I use must be able to do the job.

  • Events

    • NorNet: An Open Source Inter-Continental Internet Testbed

      With new devices and applications creating interesting use cases for IoT, smart cities, vehicle networks, mobile broadband and more, we are creating new ways to use networked technologies, and we need to be able to test these in realistic settings across locations. In his LinuxCon Europe talk, Thomas Dreibholz, Senior Research Engineer at Simula Research Laboratory talked about how they are building NorNet using open source software as an inter-continental Internet testbed for a variety of networked applications.

    • NorNet — Building an Inter-Continental Internet Testbed Based on Open Source Software

      Thomas Dreibholz, Senior Research Engineer at Simula Research Laboratory, describes how his team is using open source software to build NorNet — an inter-continental Internet testbed for a variety of networked applications.

    • DevConf.cz 2017

      Friday was the first day of the conference. We got up bright and early (well, maybe not bright…) and headed over to the venue. I spent a fair amount of time on Friday attending talks.

      I started with the keynote, presented by a variety of speakers representing a wide range of Red Hat’s products. The keynote told a narrative of going from unboxed, racked servers to deploying code live from Eclipse to production on those servers (and all the steps in between).

      Next I attended “Generational Core – The Future of Fedora?” by Petr Sabata. Petr presented about Fedora’s modular future and how Factory 2.0 fits into the picture.

    • Facebook throws an open source hackathon

      Facebook’s Boston-area outpost is in Cambridge, close to MIT – they’ve just expanded from a smaller site and annexed a whole floor of a well-kept office building near Kendall Square Station. The first thing you see when you get off the elevator is a floor-to-ceiling pattern of blue lines that are meant to spell out the words “Ship Love” (Facebook’s unofficial motto) in binary.

    • 5 Tips on Enterprise Open Source Success From Capital One, Google, and Walmart

      Some of the world’s largest and most successful companies gathered this week at Open Source Leadership Summit in Lake Tahoe to share best practices around open source use and participation. Companies from diverse industries — from healthcare and finance, to telecom and high tech — discussed the strategies and processes they have adopted to create business success with open source software.

    • New ‘Open Source Days’ Program Launches as Part of OpenStack Summit in Boston

      The OpenStack Summit—the must-attend open infrastructure event—will feature a new program called “Open Source Days,” happening May 8-11 in Boston at the Hynes Convention Center. Open Source Days bring together adjacent open source communities with the goals to improve collaboration and technical integration throughout the diverse ecosystem of open source projects that OpenStack users rely upon.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Nightly and Wayland Builds Are Now Available for Download as Flatpaks

        About a month ago, we told you that Red Hat’s desktop engineering manager Jiří Eischmann was working on packaging the Mozilla Firefox Developer Edition web browser as a Flatpak for various GNU/Linux distros supporting the sandboxing technology.

        Five weeks later, the developer wrote today a new blog post to inform the Linux community that he managed to also package the Firefox Nightly and Firefox Wayland builds as Flatpak packages for distribution on Fedora 25 and Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) operating systems, as well as other OSes that offer Flatpak support, of course.

      • Nightly and Wayland Builds of Firefox for Flatpak

        When I announced Firefox Developer Edition for Flatpak over a month ago, I also promised that we would not stop there and bring more options in the future. Now I can proudly announce that we provide two more variants of Firefox – Firefox Nightly and Firefox Nightly for Wayland.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Top 10 FOSS legal stories in 2016

      The year 2016 resulted in several important developments that affect the FOSS ecosystem. While they are not strictly “legal developments” they are important for the community.

      For one, Eben Moglen, the general counsel of the Free Software Foundation, stepped down. Eben has been a leader on FOSS legal issues since the late 1990s and has been critical to the success of the FOSS movement. The FOSS community owes him a huge debt of gratitude, and I expect that he will continue to be active in the FOSS community. The success of FOSS adoption was dramatically illustrated when Microsoft joined the Linux Foundation and summarized in the article, Open Source Won. So, Now What? in Wired magazine.

  • Programming/Development

    • HHVM 3.18 Released With Garbage Collection Options, Ubuntu 16.10 Support

      Facebook’s team working on HHVM, their high-performance implementation of PHP and also what’s used by their Hack language, is now up to version 3.18.

    • Go 1.8 Release Notes

      The latest Go release, version 1.8, arrives six months after Go 1.7. Most of its changes are in the implementation of the toolchain, runtime, and libraries. There are two minor changes to the language specification. As always, the release maintains the Go 1 promise of compatibility. We expect almost all Go programs to continue to compile and run as before.

    • Go 1.8 Released With Various Performance Improvements

      Google today announced the release of the Go 1.8 programming language implementation that is coming with six months worth of features and changes.

      Go 1.8 has a few new 64-bit x86 instructions supported, Go 1.8 now uses its new compiler back-end on all architectures (with Go 1.7 their new compiler back-end was just used on 64-bit x86) and that should yield a 20~30% performance improvement for 32-bit ARM systems. But even x86 64-bit systems should see 0~10% performance improvements with Go 1.8.

Leftovers

  • SA govt outsources IT functions, 180 to lose jobs

    One hundred and eighty South Australian Government IT workers will lose their jobs after the state government announced today that all its IT functions would be outsourced to the American multinational firm Computer Services Corporation.

    The South Australian Government announced that CSC would provide and support desktop PCs, laptops and tablets to its agencies.

    It said that 400 jobs would be created in the state as a result of the contract being granted to the American firm.

  • Science

    • Ensuring people’s self-determination in the age of robotics and artificial intelligence

      Today, the European Parliament discusses the Delvaux report on “Civil Law Rules on Robotics“. Tomorrow, we will vote on it.

      The report includes the call for a general discussion “on new employment models and on the sustainability of our tax and social systems” as robots continue to displace workers. Because the Legal Affairs Committee included calling for debate on the possibility of introducing a general basic income, conservatives are asking to delete the entire clause. It remains to be seen if the provision will survive tomorrow’s vote.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Special Report: WHO Board Sets Review Of 10-Year Effort To Boost Medicines Access, Affordability

      Once considered a breakthrough in negotiations to address problems of making cutting-edge medical products and research available to poor countries, the decade-old World Health Organization Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPOA) is now undergoing review, with the WHO Executive Board calling for a report on the initiative and plans for its future next year.

    • Eating our way to collapse

      Abstract: Industrial agriculture is seriously damaging the environment, not to mention the health of citizens around the globe. With a limited window of time, reform is necessary if we want to continue to nourish, and not just feed, our people and our planet.

      Despite the fact that we presently produce double the amount of food needed for a population of seven billion, there are still calls from the United Nations and national governments to double global food production in order to avoid future famines. These calls are misguided at best, misleading at worst.

  • Security

    • Wednesday’s security updates
    • 10 Week Progress Update for PGP Clean Room

      This Valentine’s Day I’m giving everyone the gift of GIFs! Because who wants to stare at a bunch of code? Or read words?! I’ll make this short and snappy since I’m sure you’re looking forward to a romantic night with your terminal.

    • And hackers didn’t have much luck either with other flaws in the mobe OS

      Despite shrill wailings by computer security experts over vulnerabilities in Android, Google claims very, very few of people have ever suffered at the hands of its bugs.

      Speaking at the RSA security conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Adrian Ludwig, director of Android security, said the Stagefright hole – which prompted the Chocolate Factory to start emitting low-level security patches on a monthly basis – did put 95 per cent of Android devices at risk of attack. However, there have been no “confirmed” cases of infections via the bug, Ludwig claimed.

    • This Android Trojan pretends to be Flash security update but downloads additional malware
    • Pwnd Android conference phone exposes risk of spies in the boardroom

      Security researchers have uncovered a flaw in conference phone systems from Mitel that create a means for hackers to listen in on board meetings.

      Boffins at Context Information Security managed to gain root access and take full control of a Mitel MiVoice Conference and Video Phone, potentially enabling them to listen to meetings without alerting the room’s occupants. The flaws also created a way to plant a remote backdoor on to an enterprise network.

    • Why do hackers focus so much on Android? It’s simple, really

      It seems that, despite what many thought was a supply and demand issue, Android is by far the most appealing, accessible and, essentially, antiquated arena for cyber-criminals to flourish in.

    • Google Touts Progress in Android Security in 2016

      Google has a daunting task of scanning 750 million Android devices daily for threats and checking 6 billion apps for malware each day as part of its management of 1.6 billion active Android devices. The numbers are staggering for Adrian Ludwig, director of Android Security; six years ago, when he joined Google, he said being responsible for the security of what would eventually be billions of Android devices seemed overwhelming.

    • Thursday’s security updates
    • Capsule8 comes out of stealth to help protect Linux from attacks

      Capsule8 has emerged from stealth mode to unveil its plans for the industry’s first container-aware, real-time threat protection platform designed to protect legacy and next-generation Linux infrastructures from both known and unknown attacks. Founded by experienced hackers John Viega, Dino Dai Zovi and Brandon Edwards, Capsule8 is being built on the real-world experience of its founders in building and bringing to market defensive systems to protect against exploitation of previously unknown vulnerabilities. The company raised seed funding of $2.5 million from Bessemer Venture Partners, as well as individual investors Shardul Shah of Index Ventures and Jay Leek of ClearSky. The funding will help fuel the launch of the Capsule8 platform spring 2017.

    • Bruce Schneier Says Government Involvement in Coding Is Coming

      Security expert Bruce Schneier is painting a grim future for the tech community as the government will start to stick its nose into people’s codes.

      Schneier, present at the RSA Conference, said that until now everyone had this “special right” to code the world as they saw fit. “My guess is we’re going to lose that right because it’s too dangerous to give it to a bunch of techies,” he added, according to The Register.

    • How To Shrink Attack Surfaces with a Hypervisor

      A software environment’s attack surface is defined as the sum of points in which an unauthorized user or malicious adversary can enter or extract data. The smaller the attack surface, the better. We recently sat down with Doug Goldstein (https://github.com/cardoe or @doug_goldstein) to discuss how companies can use hypervisors to reduce attack surfaces and why the Xen Project hypervisor is a perfect choice for security-first environments. Doug is a principal software engineer at Star Lab, a company focused on providing software protection and integrity solutions for embedded systems.

    • Xen Project asks to limit security vulnerability advisories
    • Xen Project wants permission to reveal fewer vulnerabilities
    • Xen Project proposes issuing fewer advisories
    • Verified Boot: From ROM to Userspace

      Amid growing attacks on Linux devices, the 2016 Embedded Linux Conference demonstrated a renewed focus on security. One well-attended presentation at ELC Europe covered the topic of verified boot schemes. In this talk, Marc Kleine-Budde of Pengutronix revealed the architecture and strategies of a recently developed verified boot scheme for a single-core, Cortex-A9 NXP i.MX6 running on the RIoTboard SBC.

    • Yahoo’s Security Incompetence Just Took $250 Million Off Verizon’s Asking Price

      So last year we noted how Verizon proposed paying $4.8 billion to acquire Yahoo as part of its plan to magically transform from stodgy old telco to sexy new Millennial advertising juggernaut, which, for a variety of reasons, isn’t going so well. One of those reasons is the fact that Yahoo failed to disclose the two, massive hacks (both by the same party) that exposed the credentials of millions of Yahoo customers during deal negotiations. The exposure included millions of names, email addresses, phone numbers, birthdates, hashed passwords (using MD5) and “encrypted or unencrypted” security questions and answers.

      As noted previously, Verizon had been using the scandal to drive down the $4.8 billion asking price, reports stating that Verizon was demanding not only a $1 billion reduction in the price, but another $1 billion to cover the inevitable lawsuits by Yahoo customers.

    • Updates on CyberSecurity, WordPress and what we’re cooking in the lab today.

      One of the most effective ways the Wordfence team keeps the WordPress community and customers secure is through something we call the ‘Threat Defense Feed’. This is a combination of people, software, business processes and data. It’s an incredibly effective way to keep hackers out and provide our customers with early detection.

    • The 7 security threats to technology that scare experts the most

      What happens if a bad actor turns off your heat in the middle of winter, then demands $1,000 to turn it back on? Or even holds a small city’s power for ransom? Those kinds of attacks to personal, corporate, and infrastructure technology were among the top concerns for security experts from the SANS Institute, who spoke Wednesday during the RSA conference in San Francisco.

      Some of these threats target consumers directly, but even the ones that target corporations could eventually “filter down” to consumers, though the effects might not be felt for some time.

    • OpenSSL Hit By New High Severity Security Issue

      OpenSSL has been hit by another “high” severity security vulnerability.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • U.S. Customs to Solve Terrorism by Asking Tourists for Their Social Media Accounts

      The United States government seems to have a real thing for social media and terrorism, stoutly believing if only they could “take out” Twitter the global jihadi movement would collapse. Or something like that. Maybe it’s Instagram?

    • Bristol University evacuated after student accidentally makes explosive chemical used in terror attacks

      An emergency evacuation took place at the University of Bristol this term, it has been revealed, after a student accidentally made the same explosive that was used in the Paris terror attacks.

      An investigation by Bristol University found that triacetone triperoxide (TATP) was “unintentionally formed during a routine procedure”, it was reported.

    • Bristol University evacuated over accidental explosive

      A university was evacuated after a student made the same explosive used in the Paris terror attacks by mistake.

      Police, fire service and bomb disposal experts were called to the University of Bristol after triacetone triperoxide (TATP) was “unintentionally formed” in the chemistry laboratory on February 3.

      No one was injured and emergency services carried out a controlled explosion of the substance.

    • Journalists shot dead during Facebook Live video in Dominican Republic

      Two radio journalists have been killed in the Dominican Republic after gunmen opened fire during a news bulletin which was being broadcast on Facebook Live.

      Luís Manuel Medina, the presenter of the news programme Milenio Caliente – or Hot Millennium – was killed while on air on Tuesday morning. Producer and director Leo Martínez was shot dead in an adjacent office at the radio station FM 103.5.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Donald Trump’s White House staff ‘communicate through app which automatically deletes messages’

      Donald Trump’s White House staff are using a secret communications app which erases messages as soon as they are read, it has been reported.

      The alleged practice is thought to be due to concern over continuing leaks from staff to the media, which has been a source of growing frustration and often embarrassment for the Trump administration.

      The app ‘Confide’, deletes messages once they have been opened on a device, meaning that there is no record of them or their content thereafter.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Oroville Dam Has Cracks
    • NYC Mayor Considering Divesting From Banks Funding DAPL

      As groups supporting the Indigenous-led movement opposing the Dakota Access pipeline, we were heartened by your remarks on Friday indicating your openness to divesting the City’s pension funds from the banks that fund this destructive project. Many of the largest banks, which the City also uses for its business, are financing Energy Transfer Partners, Energy Transfer Equity and Sunoco Logistics to build the pipeline, threatening the drinking water of over 17 million people and contributing to further carbon emissions and climate change. Now, Trump is determined to force through Dakota Access. We urge you to follow through on your thoughtful statements by divesting New York City’s pension funds from the banks that are refusing to withdraw from financing the pipeline and also consider cancelling the city’s direct business with these entities.

  • Finance

    • Canada-EU Trade Deal Ratified By European Union; Now Needs Approval By All Member States’ National Parliaments

      As Techdirt reported last November, while TPP and TAFTA/TTIP appear to be dead, the trade deal between Canada and the European Union (CETA) has been slowly working its way through the system. Today, the European Parliament approved the deal, which means that the European Union has completed the formal ratification process. However, for certain aspects of the agreement, notably the corporate sovereignty chapter, further approval is now needed by the national parliaments of all the EU’s member states — which means another 30+ votes that must all go in CETA’s favor. That’s by no means certain, as resistance has been mounting in a few countries. One of them is Belgium, where the Walloon region won important additional rights that may still be invoked.

    • The Advent of the Modern-Day Shipping Container

      For thousands of years, methods of shipping products across the seas and oceans remained essentially the same. Products were brought to port in wooden crates, sacks, and kegs by wagons or, later, by trucks and trains. Ships were then loaded and unloaded crate by crate, sack by sack, and keg by keg. It was a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. Theft was a perpetual problem. Often a ship spent more time in ports, loading and unloading, than it would spend at sea.

      The advent of World War II brought new logistical challenges in supplying millions of U.S and allied troops overseas and innovative approaches were needed to efficiently supply the war effort. During this period, small, standardized boxes full of war material were introduced to increase the American convoys’ capacity to deliver wartime necessities.

    • Microsoft raises prices of some PCs by up to £400 due to Brexit

      Microsoft has increased the price of its Surface and Surface Book computers in the UK by more than 15%, or £400 for some models, due to sterling’s drop in the value post-EU referendum.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The rise of Trump has led to an unexpected twist in Germany’s election: A resurgent left

      The unconventional administration of President Trump may be causing consternation among American liberals. But here in Germany, the anchor of the European Union, Trump’s rise is helping fuel an unexpected surge of the left.

      What is happening in Germany is the kind of Trump bump perhaps never foreseen by his supporters — a boost not for the German nationalists viewed as Trump’s natural allies but for his fiercest critics in the center left. The Social Democrats (SPD) have bounced back under the charismatic Martin Schulz, the former head of the European Parliament who took over as party chairman last month and is now staging a surprisingly strong bid to unseat Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    • Netanyahu US visit: Donald Trump says he is ‘open’ to one-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict

      US President Donald Trump has suggested he is open to the idea of a one-state, rather than two-state, solution to the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

      Asked in a media conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday whether the US would continue its policy of support for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, Mr Trump said: “I’m looking at two-state and at one-state, and I like the one that both parties like… I can live with either one.”

      “I thought the two-state [solution] looked easier for a while,” he added, before reaffirming he would let Israeli and Palestinian negotiators take the lead on the issue.

    • Report: Intelligence officials withhold information from Trump

      U.S. intelligence officials have not been sharing some sensitive information with President Trump, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

      Current and former officials told the news source that some information was withheld from Trump in fear that that it would be compromised or leaked.

    • President Trump Has Done Almost Nothing

      Just weeks into Donald Trump’s presidency, you would think that everything had changed. The uproar over the president’s tweets grows louder by the day, as does concern over the erratic, haphazard and aggressive stance of the White House toward critics and those with different policy views. On Sunday, White House aide Stephen Miller bragged, “We have a president who has done more in three weeks than most presidents have done in an entire administration.”

      But Miller was dead wrong about this. There is a wide gap, a chasm even, between what the administration has said and what it has done. There have been 45 executive orders or presidential memoranda signed, which may seem like a lot but lags President Barack Obama’s pace. More crucially, with the notable exception of the travel ban, almost none of these orders have mandated much action or clear change of current regulations. So far, Trump has behaved exactly like he has throughout his previous career: He has generated intense attention and sold himself as a man of action while doing little other than promote an image of himself as someone who gets things done.

    • Trump continues trend of calling on conservative media

      At President Trump’s joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, he only took two questions from members of American media.

      The first question went to The Christian Broadcasting Network, which states its mission “is to prepare the United States of America and the nations of the world for the coming of Jesus Christ”; the second to Townhall.com, a website whose mission is to “amplify” conservative voices — particularly conservative talk radio.

    • Harrison Ford is being investigated by authorities for a bad decision but Donald Trump remains untouchable

      Most people hate flying. What’s to like? It’s a day-long gauntlet of tedious security screenings, overpriced microwavable meals and constant waiting. First, you wait to get your tickets. Then, you wait to get on the plane. Next, you wait for the plane to get onto a runway – unless Harrison Ford comes ploughing into your economy grade seat on his private plane. That ends your wait pretty quickly.

      It would be funny if it wasn’t true, but as of this morning, Han Solo is now being investigated for narrowly missing crashing his private plane into a crowded passenger jet because he accidentally touched down on the wrong airport strip. That near miss might appear to be the simple result of a harmless, momentary lapse in judgement – but it still faces serious investigation by the authorities.

      Donald Trump, however? He’s done his fair share of endangering Americans during his short term in office with his steamroller approach to diplomacy and his tweets about “trade wars” with China (not to mention his apparently laissez-faire attitude toward the use of nuclear weapons), but the laws of the land aren’t interested.

    • Damning reports emerge of Trump campaign’s frequent talks with Russian intelligence

      The Russian influence scandal engulfing the White House deepened dramatically on Tuesday night with reports that some of Donald Trump’s campaign aides had frequent contact with Russian intelligence officials over the course of last year.

      A report in the New York Times came nearly 24 hours after the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign over conversations with the Russian ambassador to Washington and misleading statements about them to the press and the vice-president, Mike Pence.

    • Let’s Play Journalism, and Make Fake News

      This journalism thingie has gotten so easy, anyone can do it. Let’s play make the fake news funtime!

      The elderly may remember the Old Journalism. Back in BT (Before Trump) journalists in mainstream outlets had to gather facts (i.e., true things) from sources (people with names who knew true things) that would withstand fact-checking (looking stuff up, or having a second source confirm stuff.) If you quoted something already established as a fact, you were obligated to link to it.

      There were notably exceptions. For example, in 2003, the New York Times simply “believed” everything it was told about Iraq having massive destructive weapons and typed it into the paper. FYI: The Times assisted in generating enthusiasm for the Iraq invasion, helping kill 5,000 Americans and perhaps one million Iraqis! Media such as the National Enquirer and gossip blogs would just make things up, aliens and Bigfoot and all that, but it was with a wink and everyone knew it was fake and for fun.

    • “Free” Press in 2017

      Three veteran journalists and media critics share their thoughts about the state of the “free” press in 2017; among the topics they address are the election-hacking allegations against Russia, President Trump’s attacks on the press, the “fake news” label, and the close ties between “new media” and the military/security branches of government.

    • Trump Supporters Support Trump: To Maintain ‘Balance,’ Media Resort to Tautology

      Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East has been a major story during the new administration’s early days. As one of Trump’s main campaign promises, this immigration policy has generated untold hours of TV coverage and news headlines.

      The policy’s sloppy language, bungled roll-out and punitive real-world impact on innocents have rightly been prominently reported by journalists. Much of the coverage has focused on the widespread backlash to the ban, which has manifested itself in numerous legal challenges and a nationwide series of rapid-response airport protests. Coupled with the new president’s record-low approval ratings, the refugee ban increasingly tells a tale of a White House struggling to impose an unpopular agenda.

    • ‘It Is Not at All Typical to Stifle Basic Scientific Information’ – CounterSpin interview with Andrew Rosenberg on Trump’s hostility to science

      Any administration would like to restrict what the public knows about its actions—an unpopular one, all the more so. Combine that with a frank hostility to government regulations and you have the present moment, with Trump White House efforts to make federal agencies limit what they tell the public, and efforts to give them less to talk about in the first place. It may not get the same sort of headlines, but the White House’s war on science could well yield casualties as great as other violent acts more traditionally defined.

    • CIA espionage orders for the last French presidential election

      All major French political parties were targeted for infiltration by the CIA’s human (“HUMINT”) and electronic (“SIGINT”) spies in the seven months leading up to France’s 2012 presidential election. The revelations are contained within three CIA tasking orders published today by WikiLeaks as context for its forth coming CIA Vault 7 series. Named specifically as targets are the French Socialist Party (PS), the National Front (FN) and Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) together with current President Francois Hollande, then President Nicolas Sarkozy, current round one presidential front runner Marine Le Pen, and former presidential candidates Martine Aubry and Dominique Strauss-Khan.

      The CIA assessed that President Sarkozy’s party was not assured re-election. Specific tasking concerning his party included obtaining the “Strategic Election Plans” of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP); schisms or alliances developing in the UMP elite; private UMP reactions to Sarkozy’s campaign stratagies; discussions within the UMP on any “perceived vulnerabilities to maintaining power” after the election; efforts to change the party’s ideological mission; and discussions about Sarkozy’s support for the UMP and “the value he places on the continuation of the party’s dominance”. Specific instructions tasked CIA officers to discover Sarkozy’s private deliberations “on the other candidates” as well as how he interacted with his advisors. Sarkozy’s earlier self-identification as “Sarkozy the American” did not protect him from US espionage in the 2012 election or during his presidency.

    • Trump smears NSA & FBI, says they’re “un-American,” act like Russians

      Of course, it’s the height of irony for Donald Trump to accuse anyone of leaking, when he welcomed Wikileaks’ and the FBI’s leaks about Hillary Clinton during the campaign. And the FBI played a large role in Trump’s election.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Court Says Google Has A First Amendment Right To Delist Competitor’s ‘Spammy’ Content

      Last summer, a Florida federal court reached some unusual conclusions in a lawsuit filed by SEO company e-ventures, which felt Google had overstepped its bounds in delisting a lot of its links. Google defended itself, citing both Section 230 and the First Amendment. The court disagreed with both arguments.

      As to Section 230, the court found that Google’s delisting efforts weren’t in “good faith.” The reason cited was e-ventures’ claim that the delisting was in “bad faith.” So much for this seldom-used aspect of Section 230: the “Good Samaritan” clause which states no third-party company can be found liable for actions it takes to remove content it finds questionable. And so much for “viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Apparently, Google’s long history of spam-fighting efforts is nothing compared to an SEO wrangler’s pained assertions.

      The court also said Google had no First Amendment right to handle its search rankings however it saw fit, which is more than a little problematic. While it admitted Google’s search rankings were protected speech, its statements about how it handled search engines weren’t. And, for some reason, the court felt that Google’s ads undermined its First Amendment protections because its desire to turn a profit somehow nullified its “editorial judgment.”

    • We Need The First Amendment For Assholes, Not For Nice Little Old Ladies Who Crochet

      Oh, and banning speech — or trying to shut it down — will either take it underground, where it’s more dangerous, or it’ll make it that much more popular.

    • Creative community in “self-censorship” mode: Tewari

      The creative community in India has adopted “self-censorship” in the last 30 months after the Modi Government came to power, senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Manish Tewari said today.

      “Award wapasi (returning of awards by prominent figures against alleged growing intolerance) was a good push- back given by the country’s creative community to the current Government and its politics,” he said.

      The lawyer-politician was here to release his book `Decoding a Decade: The Politics of Policy making’.

    • Outside Looking In: A Russian Filmmaker Fights Censorship from Abroad

      From his base in Latvia, Russian filmmaker Vitaly Mansky hopes to break the state media spell that has gripped post-Soviet audiences. The documentary filmmaker is president of Russia’s biggest and most controversial documentary film festival, Artdocfest. Sitting in his office last fall, Mansky cut a figure that is half media mogul, half political operative. Earlier in the day, Artdocfest’s e-mail addresses that are hosted on Russian servers appeared to be have been compromised, causing the festival team to scramble to set new passwords. As Mansky’s technical staff pored over their computers, their boss fielded questions about Russia-Ukraine relations from a reporter at the radio station Echo of Moscow via Skype.

    • Fake News, Censorship & the Third-Person Effect: You Can’t Fool Me, Only Others!

      The aftermath of Donald J. Trump’s stunning victory over Hillary Clinton brought with it much handwringing in news media circles and on social media platforms about the dangers of fake news. Some blame fake news for causing Clinton’s defeat, with the erstwhile candidate herself calling it “an epidemic.”

      But there’s a major paradox when it comes to people’s beliefs about fake news.

      Specifically, many of us tend to believe that we can spot fake news — we won’t be fooled by it — but others out there, who are more naive and less media savvy than us, surely will be duped.

    • Campus censorship is a big deal

      Spiked’s annual Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR) was released last week, to the usual cacophony of irritation from those on the receiving end of a Red ranking. Chief among the perpetually ticked-off, of course, was president of the National Union of Students (NUS), Malia Bouattia.

      The NUS always frets about the FSUR, because it collects in one place all the bans and regulations students’ unions inflict upon their members. Not only did Bouattia pen a ripsote to the FSUR in the Huffington Post the day before its 2017 findings came out, she also attempted another take-down in the Independent a few days later.

      In the latter, Bouattia claims that she can demonstrate ‘expertly’ that the project is flawed, suggesting that what spiked doesn’t understand is that students want to extend, not suppress, free expression. Free speech ‘is universal’, she says, but it ‘is not limitless’. To extend it to everyone means ‘sacrificing some of our rights’, preventing those who would suppress some people’s free expression from having theirs. In other words, you need to ban your way to free speech.

    • Polish Second World War Museum Director Vows to Fight Government Censorship

      The director of a major new war museum in Poland has vowed to fight against government censorship and try to bring his collection to the public.

      The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk is almost ready to open after eight years of preparation.

    • Federal District Judge Suspends Decision that Censored Folha
    • ‘Gag’ on Brazil media reporting blackmail attempt on Temer lifted
    • Brazil judge overturns ‘censorship’ of newspaper
    • O Globo and Folha de S.Paulo ordered to remove reports about Brazil’s First Lady
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Judge In Twitter Lawsuit Over Surveillance Disclosure Dings DOJ For Cut-And-Paste Legal Argument

      As you will hopefully recall, there is an ongoing case between Twitter and the government over exactly how specific or not the social media service can be regarding the number of government surveillance requests it receives. Most of the rest of the big internet companies reached a settlement with the DOJ, including rules how specific companies could be (not very) in revealing such requests. Those rules basically were an attempt by the government to get tech companies to play hide-the-ball on transparency issues, in which the more specific a service attempted to be about how many individuals would be impacted by government orders, the more additional orders had to be lumped into those specifics, rendering the information useless.

      Twitter, to its credit, was alone in saying that the proposed settlement wasn’t good enough, and continued its fight with the DOJ. Essentially, the fight is over whether Twitter can be specific when it discloses how many orders it has received, or whether it must only disclose “bands” or ranges of orders. Recent arguments made by both sides do a nice job of highlighting the absurdity of the government’s argument.

    • Donald Trump blames media, leaks for NSA Michael Flynn’s resignation

      US President Donald Trump on Wednesday blamed what he called the “fake media” and “illegal” leaks for the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who had lied to top government officials about his contacts with Russia.

      At a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said that the media had treated Flynn “very unfairly”.

      Trump has asked for Flynn’s resignation because he had lost confidence in him after revelations the National Security Adviser had lied about his conversations with Russian officials, EFE news quoted the White House as saying.

    • Another day in office: Trump praises sacked NSA, abuses media, posts tweets
    • Merkel testifies on alleged US eavesdropping in Germany
    • Merkel Stresses Importance of German-U.S. Intelligence Cooperation
    • 1ST LEAD Merkel to field questions from committee probing NSA revelations By Friederike Heine, dpa
    • Merkel admits was unaware of extent of German-U.S. spy cooperation
    • Merkel says didn’t know Germany spied on allies
    • German Chancellor Criticizes US Espionage Against Her Country
    • Merkel to NSA inquiry committee: Did not know anything
    • Germany’s Merkel testifies on alleged US eavesdropping
    • Germany’s Merkel testifies on alleged US eavesdropping
    • Merkel to Explain to Investigation Why She ‘Didn’t Know About’ BND Espionage
    • Merkel testifies on NSA spying affair
    • Germany’s NSA inquiry committee under pressure
    • Germany’s NSA inquiry committee under pressure

      Two quotes are associated with Angela Merkel’s third term as chancellor. In the summer of 2015, when masses of refugees arrived in Germany, Merkel declared: “We can do this.” The other famous statement she made referred to the revelation that the NSA had monitored her personal mobile phone: “Spying among friends – that is simply not done.” If anyone searches the line in German on the internet, the Google results for the two lines differ greatly: There are about 1.6 million listings for the refugee policy quote and only 25,000 for the NSA scandal line.

      The great difference unexpectedly, but clearly, reflects the perceived public relevance of the two subjects. Refugees still play a large role – in politics and in everyday life. The fact that intelligence agencies systematically spy on private lives has more or less become a topic for experts. The uproar over Edward Snowden’s revelations dwindled down within a year, more or less.

    • New Report On Encryption Confirms There’s More Of It, But Still Not Much Of A Problem For Law Enforcement

      This is far from the encryption apocalypse promised by Comey and Vance. There’s an incremental increase taking place, not an exponential one. What could pose serious problems, though, is encryption-by-default on smartphones. As the report points out, if Android devices go the way of iPhones, 99% of the world’s phones would keep law enforcement locked out.

      But that’s only if law enforcement isn’t able to access data and communications through device manufacturer/service provider cooperation, third-party app developers, email providers, and other, more old-fashioned techniques. One sure way to beat device encryption is to obtain the passcode from the user. This won’t help much when the phone’s owner is dead or can’t be located, but compelling the production of a password is still far from settled, constitutionally-speaking. For phones secured with a fingerprint, owners are likely out of luck. A couple of courts have already reached the conclusion that providing a fingerprint isn’t testimonial and has no Fifth Amendment implications.

      CSIS could have put together a better estimate on how many investigations are thwarted by encryption, but law enforcement agencies — even those fronted by encryption opponents — aren’t interested in sharing this data with the public. The report points out that the problem remains mostly theoretical. Without data, all we have are assertions from law enforcement officials that something must be done. Failure to legislate backdoors or bans will apparently lead to a sharp uptick in criminal activity… except that’s not happening either. The report points out that there’s no data linking increased default encryption to increases in criminal activity.

    • Oh, Sure, Suddenly Now The House Intelligence Boss Is Concerned About Surveillance… Of Mike Flynn

      We’ve written a few times about Rep. Devin Nunes, who heads the House Intelligence Committee. He’s been a long-time vocal supporter of NSA surveillance. He insisted that there was no need for reform after the Snowden leaks and he actively misled the public and other members of Congress to shoot down an amendment that would have stopped so-called backdoor searches of “incidentally collected” information on Americans. Nunes falsely claimed that by blocking backdoor searches of the 702 database, it would have blocked things such as tracking whether or not the Orlando nightclub shooter had overseas contacts (it would not have done that at all).

      So it’s fairly hilarious to see that Nunes’ first reaction to the news of National Security Advisor Mike Flynn’s resignation was to demand answers on why Flynn’s calls with Russian officials were recorded.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Little Caesars founder quietly paid Rosa Parks’ rent for years

      Those who knew Mike Ilitch, the Little Caesars founder and Detroit Tigers owner who died last Friday, have spent the past few days fondly remembering his impact on friends, on Detroit residents, and on the sports community.
      Ilitch also had an impact on the daily life of one of the most iconic figures from the civil rights movement.

      For more than a decade, Ilitch had quietly paid for Rosa Parks’ apartment in downtown Detroit, according to CNN affiliate WXYZ.
      That story came to light thanks to Damon Keith, a Detroit native and federal judge.

    • Runoff Likely in Jakarta Election Seen as Test of Tolerance for Indonesia

      The Christian governor of the capital of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, has been fighting for his political life in an election campaign charged with religious and ethnic undertones. After voters went to the polls Wednesday, it appeared that he would have to fight a little longer.

      Unofficial results from the balloting in Jakarta, the capital, indicated that the governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, held a small lead over his nearest challenger but was unlikely to win more than half of the vote. If the official results confirm that, a runoff will be held April 18.

      Mr. Basuki, who is ethnic Chinese, has been hobbled by a criminal trial on a charge of blasphemy against Islam, in connection with remarks about a Quran verse that he made last year.

    • The woman who returned from the dead to face an impossible choice

      The story began on the July 2, 1990. Fahire Kara, mother of 12, had travelled from her home in Batman, Turkey on pilgrimmage with her husband Abdoullah to Mecca. That day, their lives, like so many others, would change for ever.

      As thousands of pilgrims passed through a tunnel linking the Grand Mosque with the Mina Desert, a panic began, leading to a stampede. A total of 1,426 people were crushed to death or asphyxiated, including almost 450 Turks. Seriously injured, Abdullah stumbled through the carnage and piles of bodies, searching for his wife. He found her on the point of death, saying the Muslim creed to cleanse her soul.

      As rescuers arrived, the couple were separated as Abdoullah was rushed to hospital. On being discharged from hospital, Abdoullah once again began a grisly search for his wife, examining bodies in morgues and visiting hospitals, this time without success. He returned home in mourning.

    • Ruling parties agree on child marriage ban proposal

      The major parties making up Germany’s coalition government have agreed to a proposed law that would invalidate marriages involving children under 16.

      Leaders of the Social Democrats (SPD) and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Union parties said they had agreed on a proposed law to ban marriage for anyone under 18, according to a report on Tuesday by Die Welt.

    • Refugees Will Cost Sweden $32.7 Billion This Year—16x Over-Budget—Only 500 Have Jobs

      Sweden’s 318,000 “Syrian” refugees, or migrants, will cost the country a bare minimum of $32.7 billion USD in 2017.

      That’s 33% of Sweden’s central government’s annual budget, and 5.5% of their GDP—imagine if the US spent $1 trillion on refugees, same proportions.

      That’s just over $102,000 per refugee per year. For reference, the average annual income in Sweden is $41,000 a year.

    • Trump Tops Obama, Hands Over Full Torture Report To Court Previous Administration Refused To

      Credit where credit is due: Trump has done more to preserve the full CIA Torture Report than Obama ever did. On his way out the door, the DOJ fought on his behalf in federal court, arguing against an order to deposit the full report with the court clerk for preservation in the ongoing trial of Abd al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, who has alleged he was waterboarded while detained by the CIA.

      Barack Obama did stuff one copy of the full report in his presidential archives before Trump took over, perhaps in response to fears that the incoming president might make the whole thing vanish. Trump did mention his support for the use of torture on more than one occasion, and it would have been somewhat inconvenient to have an official document laying around saying torture is bad and the US shouldn’t do it.

      Maybe it’s oneupmanship or maybe the Trump’s legal counsel feels it has too much on its plate already, but as the New York Times’ Charlie Savage reports, Team Trump is handing over a full copy of the Torture Report to the court as requested.

    • The Fifth Amendment Vs. Indefinite Jailing: Court Still No Closer To Deciding On Compelled Decryption

      If Rawls’ devices had been secured with a fingerprint, there’s a good chance he’d already have been forced to unlock his devices. There haven’t been a lot of decisions pertaining to the use of fingerprints to decrypt devices, but those we have seen indicate judges don’t view the taking/application of suspects’ fingerprints to be “testimonial.” Unlocking a device that contains evidence to convict a person apparently doesn’t undermine their right to not be forced to testify against themselves. The reasoning in a recent appeals court decision was that a fingerprint is not something stored in a suspect’s mind. Therefore, it’s not testimony. It’s, for lack of better words, a bodily “fact,” like the blood stored in a suspect or a suspect’s resemblance to a person described by eyewitnesses.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Huntsville, Alabama Is Suddenly Awash In Broadband Competition, Showing Why Comcast Is So Afraid Of Municipal Broadband

      For years, we’ved noted how incumbent ISPs have waged a not-so-subtle war on towns and cities looking to escape from the high prices and abysmal service of the country’s broadband duopoly (which is actually quietly becoming more of a cable monopoly without many noticing). Many of these cities have taken to either building fiber networks themselves — or striking public/private partnerships with companies like Google Fiber or Ting/Tucows — because the private sector has failed to deliver the service and connectivity they want at prices they can afford.

      This kind of grassroots revolution is precisely why large ISPs like Charter, Comcast and AT&T have spent the last decade lobbying for (and in most instances directly writing) protectionist bills across twenty different states banning local citizens from making these kinds of decisions for themselves. If you want to see precisely why these regional monopolists are so afraid, you need look no further than Huntsville, Alabama.

  • DRM

    • Apple Has Taken up Arms Against the New ‘Right to Repair’ Legislation – Wants Complete Hardware Control

      Gaining complete control for hardware and both software has landed Apple in hot water as the tech giant is now fighting a new ‘right to repair’ legislation. The legislation proposes that consumers and third-party repair shops will have the legal right to purchase spare parts as well as gain access to service manuals in order to mend a faulty component on any Apple product ranging from its iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, iMacs and more. Here are more details on the legislation.

    • Apple Wants To Stop You Fixing Your iPhone And iPad: Source Says It Will Testify Against ‘Right To Repair’ Legislation

      For a company that likes to portray itself as serving its users better than its rivals, this is shabby behavior. It not only forces people to spend money unnecessarily, it is harmful for the environment. Discarding old models is likely to lead to more toxic landfill, even though Apple says that it tries to recycle as much as possible. It’s sad to see an otherwise innovative player lining up with the dinosaurs on the wrong side of history for this issue.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • New Gene-Editing Technology Whets Appetites In Health, Food Industry, Fuels Patent Fights

      A new discovery allowing easier and swifter genome editing, considered by some as a major game changer in the field of biology, is opening doors to new technological wonders in many areas, such as medicines and agriculture. Yesterday, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a ruling on a case where two US university laboratories both claimed the invention of a genome editing technique. The USPTO decided that the two universities had made distinct discoveries. In Europe, patents from both universities on the technology are also challenged at the European Patent Office.

    • Copyrights

      • Dangerous: Judge Says It Was ‘Objectively Unreasonable’ For Cox To Claim DMCA Safe Harbors

        We’ve been covering the BMG v. Cox case since the beginning, and a bad decision just got made even worse — and more dangerous. If you’ve been following the case, you know that it’s on appeal right now (and a whole bunch of amici have weighed in), but in the meantime, the judge in the district court, Judge Liam O’Grady, has doubled down on his opportunity to chop up and mock the DMCA’s safe harbors by telling Cox it must pay $8 million to BMG in legal fees because its using the DMCA safe harbors as a defense was found to be “objectively unreasonable.”

        That’s crazy, for a variety of reasons, but we’ll get there. From the very beginning, this case was a joke, and it’s unfortunate that the court didn’t realize that early on. The case was filed back in 2014, and we pointed out that it was really BMG (and another publisher, Round Hill Music) acting as a proxy for copyright trolling operation Rightscorp, testing out the wacky legal theory that the DMCA requires that ISPs kick repeat infringers entirely off the internet. No one has ever interpreted the DMCA in this manner. Yes, 512(i) requires a repeat infringer policy, but it had always been widely recognized that that referred to services that hosted content, not network providers (e.g., YouTube is required to have a repeat infringer policy that kicks users off YouTube if they keep posting infringing works, but your ISP shouldn’t kick you off the internet for the same thing.)

      • Cloudflare Puts Pirate Sites on New IP Addresses, Avoids Cogent Blockade

        The Pirate Bay and dozens of other pirate sites that were blocked by Cogent’s Internet backbone are now accessible again. Cloudflare appears to have moved the sites in question to a new pair of IP-addresses, effectively bypassing Cogent’s blackhole. Whether Cogent has plans to block their new home as well is unknown.

      • 5 ways TV networks are responding to the growing cord-cutting movement

        As more people decide they don’t need cable, the TV networks are waking up to the fact that they can’t bet the farm on the same old business models, even as they depend on cable for most of their revenue.

        The latest earnings reports from companies like Time Warner, Viacom, and Disney provide a useful snapshot of how networks are responding to cord-cutting. Spoiler alert: The responses aren’t always consumer friendly.

Yet More Complaints About the European Patent Office in the Bavarian Regional Government

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gabi Schmidt
Source: MdL Gabi Schmidt demonstriert mit Mitarbeitern des Euorpäischen Patentamts

Coat of arms of BavariaSummary: Some German politicians do care about the welfare of EPO staff, a lot more so than the EPO’s management that is actively crushing this staff

WHILE we cannot be sure when exactly it happened, possibly this morning based on the timestamp (16/02/2017), SUEPO, the staff union of the EPO, published an English translation of text that was first published there 3 days ago in German. We have decided to preserve the text here (in English at least) as SUEPO has already been censored by threats and is still under perpetual attacks from Battistelli. The text below is self explanatory and Gabi Schmidt is named in it. Schmidt has been notably supportive and sympathetic towards EPO staff [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] (credit to her! She supports other good causes). The emphases below are in the original, too.

Bayerischer Landtag
Bavarian Regional Government
17th Election Period

02.02.2017

Printed item 17/15259

Motion

by the Deputies Hubert Aiwanger, Florian Streibl, Gabi Schmidt, Prof. (Univ. Lima) Dr. Peter Bauer, Dr. Hans Jürgen Fahn, Günther Felbinger, Thorsten Glauber, Eva Gottstein, Joachim Hanisch, Johann Häusler, Dr. Leopold Herz, Nikolaus Kraus, Peter Meyer, Alexander Muthmann, Prof. Dr. Michael Piazolo, Bernhard Pohl, Dr. Karl Vetter, Jutta Widmann, Benno Zierer, and Fraction (FREE VOTERS)

Nothing new in Munich: At long last, ensure the safeguarding of the fundamental rights of the personnel of the European Patent Office!

The Regional Government should resolve:

1. The Regional Government finds that:

The social situation of the personnel of the European Patent Office has not improved, the President of which has to date not implemented the measures adopted on 16
March 2016 by the Administrative Council for the improvement of the social situation, and
the non-binding results of the “EPO Social Conference” of 11 October 2016 have to
date not brought about any changes.

The State Government is called upon, against this background, to press hard on the Federal and European level for the fundamental rights to be upheld of the personnel of the European Patent Office, with headquarters in Munich.

Grounds:
The situation in respect of labour law of the employees of the European Patent Office (EPO) continues to be precarious. The requirements put by the Administrative Council to the President of 16 March 2016 have to date still not been implemented, and the “EPO Social Conference” of 11 October 2016 has likewise produced only non-binding results, and these too are awaiting implementation. A whole range of major intrusions into essential fundamental rights of the employees continue to be a source of complaint on Bavarian soil, or are about to be imposed:

1. Persons temporarily off work due to illness are obliged to be present at their domicile between 10.00-12.00 and 14.00-16.00 hours (and longer). In order to allow for checks to be carried out, this ruling also includes access to protected residential areas. Presence will be checked, and medical examinations demanded. Without an exemption having been successfully applied for, it is not permissible to leave the place of residence during this period. This is tantamount to interference in personal rights, the right of integrity of the place of residence of the persons concerned, and the rights of the family members of the person concerned.

2. Persons unfit for duty of less than 10 years unfitness for duty remain on active service on sick leave. These persons must remain at home permanently. Expatriates from other countries do not have the possibility, during their illness, to stay in their home country, among their closest family members, which constitutes a serious intrusion into general personal rights, and the right of determination of place of residence of the persons concerned. It is self-evident that this also affects the family members of the persons concerned, since their life partners are compelled to remain in Germany.

3. Persons who are unfit for duty in the long term remain under prohibition of undertaking any employment, even activities which are unpaid or charitable. This represents an intrusion into general personal rights and physical integrity, if, for example, such an activity contributes to improving the state of health of the persons concerned. There are no exceptions provided for in this respect, with the result that even in medically justified cases the absolute prohibition remains in place. Actual examples from practice show that this is applied under any circumstances.

4. Loyalty obligations of the employees are being extended. Even outside the work context, good behaviour is demanded of the employees, such that the ruling goes beyond the provisions of the Statute of Civil Servants of the EU (Article 12) or the Federal Civil Servants Law (Art. 61, Para. 1, Clause 2): In those cases, all that applies is the activity-related obligation of good conduct (including outside the framework of service) which is linked to the particular position. This too represents an infringement of the right of self-determination, the freedom to express opinion, and the freedom of gathering and of association.

Printed items, plenary reports, and the agendas of the full assembly and the subcommittees can be called up on the Internet at www.bayern.landtag.de – Dokumente. The current session overview is available at www.bayern.landtag.de – Aktuelles/Sitzungen

5. Passive voting rights are restricted. An employee must in principle make known to the EPO their candidature for public office. Contrary to the almost identically wording in the Statute of European Civil Servants, however, in this case no provisional protection of rights pertains, and accordingly no procedure, based on the principles of a state governed by law, of receiving a definitive decision in good time before a forthcoming election as to whether a candidature will be permitted. In the national law relating to civil servants, by contrast, there are restrictions on passive voting rights only in a few exceptional cases.

6. The right of demonstration is restricted. The organizers of the demonstrations in Munich have in the past already been threatened with consequences in respect of their rights of service. A demonstration planned for the end of February 2015 was suppressed in this manner. Accordingly, the right of association and of free expression of opinion are therefore also affected.

7. Interference in core areas of staff union activity has been incurred, inasmuch as, by way of the EPO service regulations, individual members acting in a union capacity have been penalized. A number of members of the leadership of the IGEPA/SUEPO union were dismissed in 2015/2016, both at The Hague as well as in Munich. Accordingly, the right of association, i.e. the right to free union activity, has been infringed. Moreover, this union, which represents more than 50 percent of the employees and pensioners of the EPO, has been excluded from the “social dialogue” by the President.

8. The right to strike has been severely curtailed, inasmuch as the President of the European Patent Office issues edicts as to whether and on what scale strikes may be held. Strike participants must register themselves. Under threat of sanctions, they are obliged to notify their participation to their superiors. The decision to strike has therefore been withdrawn, and with it the fundamental power of organization and decision inherent in a union. This is a massive contravention of the right to free association.

9. Internal Office investigations are carried out in accordance with the “Investigation Guideline” without any basis for empowerment. The President has recourse to this on his own initiative, without any participation by the Administrative Council. Moreover, the investigation authority established for this purpose is not answerable to any (judicial) supervision.

10. The individual rulings of the Investigation Guideline are highly questionable with regard to the status of the employees under labour law: A simple oversight can incur disciplinary measures. Moreover, it is not permitted to involve third parties in the proceedings. The employee’s superior must be notified of interviews by the investigation authority, which leads to loss of respect and stigmatisation, without any accusation of culpability having been confirmed. There is no right, moreover, for a statement to be refused and not incur self-incrimination, since otherwise disciplinary measures are threatened. Defence of the person concerned by advocate representation is excluded. At the most, advice may be obtained from an attorney, but even the choice of attorney is restricted: Despite an attorney’s function as an independent element of due legal process, he is obliged to conclude a confidentiality agreement beforehand with the EPO. Employees against whom an investigation is being conducted cannot be accompanied by an attorney. Only a fellow employee is permitted to attend, who can only function as an observer. Any attempt at involvement by the observer incurs sanctions, up to the complete exclusion from such proceedings in future. Since, as a rule, staff representatives are the accompanying persons, there is interference here too into the core area of staff representation. Moreover, the person concerned has no access to the items included in the report on the proceedings. He is thereby kept ignorant of any evidence and investigation findings. The Investigation Guideline, which is being implemented in the European Patent Office on Bavarian soil, is therefore a contravention of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 47 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, Article 14 of the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, and Articles 55 ff. of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Statute with regard to the rights of the person concerned in legal proceedings.

11. The internal system for protection of rights has been undermined. The internal appeal body, for example, has only a consultative function. Its findings are simply recommendations to the President, to which he is not bound: The final decision on the future of the employee is at the free discretion of the President. In Decision No. 3785 of the Labour Court in Geneva (ILO-AT), which has jurisdiction with regard to EPO employees, it was ruled that the composition of the appeal body is not properly legal, since in the present case it was not made up in parity of President and personnel representatives: The personnel representatives were prevented from assigning to the appeal body the two representatives pertaining to them. Accordingly, despite attention having been drawn in the appropriate manner, the President is at present deliberately ignoring the authority vested in the personnel representation body to assign their own representatives to the internal appeal body (Articles 5 and 36 of the Statute).

12. The ILO-AT does not offer the employees any effective legal protection. The proceedings at present take about 10 years to be heard. Oral hearings have no longer been held for about 25 years. Legal advice and instruction regarding the situation de facto and de jure are not issued prior to the pronouncement of judgment, with the result that the parties have no possibility of expressing a view on the factual and legal situation on the basis of the legal interpretation adopted by the court. The right to a legal hearing of the participants in the proceedings is infringed.

The governance problem of the European Patent Office is therefore abundantly obvious: There is no effective control over the President of the European Patent Office, which is leading to the arbitrary treatment and disenfranchisement of the staff. Their situation at the headquarters of the Office in Munich is therefore a Bavarian matter, if enshrined fundamental rights are being called into question on the soil of our Free State. The State Government must take action accordingly, on a national and European level, to counteract this. The Federal Republic of Germany, as a Member State, and the European Commission as observers, are represented on the controlling body responsible, the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organization.

We suggest that readers engage with (contact) the politicians in question and let them know just how bad things have become. Schmidt can be contacted at gabi.schmidt@fw-landtag.de or her phone number, +49 9163 9972063. She seems like an amicable, well-meaning person.

EPO Staff Representatives to Escalate Complaint About Severe Injustices to the EPO’s Secretive Board 28

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 9:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Board 28 escalation

Summary: In a new letter to President Benoît Battistelli it is made abundantly apparent — however politely — that Battistelli’s gross abuses could further complicate things for Battistelli, who is already embroiled in a fight with his predecessor, Roland Grossenbacher

The EPO‘s Board 28, which meets privately, has already admitted that there is a crisis at the EPO (“crisis” is their own word). Do they realise who caused this crisis? Do they care to openly admit this?

“Does a half-brother need to be assassinated in some Malaysian airport before politicians all across European openly denounce Battistelli and demand sanctions against Eponia?”Less than a year ago Battistelli ignored what the Administrative Council had demanded and he miraculously got away with it. It seems like his own ‘bosses’ have become subservient to him. It’s totally absurd. It makes Eponia, at least unofficially, a rogue state. Does a half-brother need to be assassinated in some Malaysian airport before politicians all across European openly denounce Battistelli and demand sanctions against Eponia?

Earlier today someone leaked to us this long (43 pages) document [PDF] from which the above was extracted. There are various noteworthy things about it, including Article 113 which says “[a] complaint may be filed with the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization in accordance with its Statute once a decision is final, when internal procedures are either excluded or otherwise exhausted.”

“It’s time to involve more people in the scrutiny of what has become Europe’s great source of shame.”Well, ILO usually does not help (it just wastes time and then sends back the majority of cases to the kangaroo court). Even when it rules against the EPO’s management Battistelli does not quite obey demands of a fair trial. So what gives? It’s time to involve more people in the scrutiny of what has become Europe’s great source of shame.

Recently, SUEPO produced a translation of a Dutch decision (converted from Dutch into English), revealing just to what degree states which proclaim to uphold justice let the EPO get away with extreme abuse, mistrials, and so on. Here are 8 articles that we wrote about it:

  1. Battistelli is an Autocrat Above the Law and It’s OK, Holland’s High Council Says
  2. EPO Abuses Now Make the Netherlands Look Like a Facilitator of Human/Labour Rights Abuses
  3. Media Blasts EPO Over Immunity Amid Suicides, Battistelli’s Behaviour Compared to Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s
  4. Leaked: Team Battistelli, Exploiting a Controversial Decision From the Netherlands, is Trying to Squash SUEPO
  5. The EPO’s Freedom to Disregard the Law and Abuse Employees is “Being Taken up by the Council of Europe”
  6. “Team Battistelli Continues With Intimidation Tactics”
  7. The European Patent Office Officially Dishonours Justice, So It’s Time for SUEPO to Become Clandestine
  8. Culture of Terror at The European Patent Office Escalates Thanks to Dutch Government’s Complicity

SUEPO wrote about this as well; it published the following public statement in its Web site just over 3 weeks ago:

24 January 2017
ex17002cp

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands upholds the EPO’s immunity

Dear SUEPO members, dear colleagues,

We are disappointed to inform you that the Supreme Court of the Netherlands has decided to uphold the EPO’s immunity in the case brought by SUEPO to complain about infringement of fundamental rights.

This decision has obvious implications for the about 40 international organisations based in The Netherlands, who are now free to violate fundamental rights in the “City of Justice and Peace” if they so wish.

For our part, we maintain that functional immunity is not the same as absolute immunity, but the consequences of this fine but important distinction are apparently lost on many. While we are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision, we are also comforted to learn that the issue of immunity of international organization (and abuse thereof) is being taken up by the Council of Europe, a debate in which SUEPO’s counsel participated.

One thing is clear: While, according to the judgment, the Dutch judge cannot do anything about the EPO’s violations of fundamental rights, the findings that such violations occurred remains on the record – a permanent stain on the CV of Mr Battistelli and his associates.

The judgment raises the issue of liability of member states: can they really sign up to international treaties that abolish fundamental rights for so many of their citizens? With the judgment, the EPO goes scot-free – but what are the consequences for the host state itself? Such questions will likely be a matter of discussion in the upcoming parliamentary discussion on the EPO, planned for 9 February.

Anyway, we will review the judgment in detail and assess what the next steps can be. We will keep you informed. For the moment, we wish to thank wholeheartedly our legal team for the tremendous work done during the past years on what was from inception a very complex legal case, as well as you all for the support provided during the worst social crisis of the EPO since its inception in 1977.

The EPO can continue its story-telling to the public, namely that “its door is always open”. The reality is that in 2016 three Union Officials have been dismissed, one severely downgraded. This is anything but social dialogue, and a terrible world-premiere among International Organisations.

Your SUEPO Committee in The Hague


Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO)
Veraartlaan 8
2288 GM Rijswijk (ZH) The Netherlands

suepothehague@gmail.com

http://hague.suepo.org/epo

Will Board 28 wake up and take action already? Will people who kill innocent animals for fur have the compassion for human beings who are pushed to the verge of suicide (if not suicide)? Frankly, we doubt it. The rogue state has become so rogue that expecting an organ within the EPO to repair the whole Organisation is like expecting North Korea to repair itself from the inside. Outside intervention, probably political intervention, is sorely needed. It won’t happen unless the public becomes better informed and actually demands this from politicians.

New Survey Reveals That High Patent Quality, or Elimination of Bad Patents, is Desirable to Patent Holders

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 8:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

But not to self-serving zealots like Mr. Quinn…

PTAB impotence

Summary: A new survey from Bloomberg BNA and AIPLA reveals that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which still grows in prominence, is supported by people who have themselves gotten patents (not those who are in the bureaucracy of patents and self-serving politics)

Who hates PTAB? Who hates IPRs? Sites such as Watchtroll and IAM, which are the megaphone of patent trolls, patent maximalists, patent prosecutors and so on. Not actual developers… these sites are the equivalent of pro-UPC sites in Europe (always connected to legal firms looking to exploit the UPC to foster more litigation, injunctions, and damages).

We couldn’t help but notice last night’s blog post from Matt Levy (CCIA). It’s about patent proponents (but not patent maximalists like prosecutors, profiteers etc.) wanting PTAB, a cornerstone of patent reform from 2011. To quote:

Bloomberg BNA and AIPLA just released a nationwide survey of patent attorneys and agents asking about their experiences with inter partes review at the Patent Trial and Appeals Board. Bloomberg BNA and AIPLA did a survey of attitudes towards inter partes review (IPR). Among attorneys representing patent owners, 48% said that they thought that over all, inter partes review has been very beneficial. This includes in-house counsel. 45% of in-house counsel whose patents had been subject to IPR said that IPRs are very beneficial.

Personally, I find that result pleasantly surprising. I would have expected the numbers to be much lower.

I do note that the survey’s finding is actually a little stronger than Bloomberg reports. The attorneys were asked to rank from 1 to 10 to describe how beneficial they feel that IPRs have been, with 10 being the most beneficial, 1 being the least. 48% of respondents who most recently represented patent owners in an IPR gave a rank between 7 and 10. But if you add in the respondents who ranked it as a 6 (which is still more beneficial than harmful), you get 65% of attorneys representing patent owners. If you only look at in-house counsel in that group, it’s 70% who ranked IPRs as 6 or better.

That is, in a survey of patent attorneys with recent experience with IPRs, a solid majority of attorneys representing patent owners said that they think IPRs are more beneficial than harmful.

Is the survey biased? Bloomberg has no agenda, it’s a news organization. And AIPLA is hardly biased against patent owners. I don’t think it’s fair to impute a bias to either organization.

This is something to bear in mind now that as little as 0% (as low as it can get!) of EPO stakeholders support Battistelli, based on a new survey. Battistelli has basically destroyed patent quality at the EPO and is sending to exile the semi-equivalent of PTAB. The only supposed ‘quality’ that is rising under Battistelli’s regime is the burden associated with filing patents — a thing that no stakeholders is likely to appreciate as it adds to cost/labour.

To quote this month’s short piece from Jérôme Braquehais (REGIMBEAU):

As of 1st November 2016, the European Patent Office (EPO) Examination Directive that includes the acceptance conditions for recording an assignment underwent changes significantly altering the recordal procedure of an assignment at the EPO.

These amendments, which are in line with an increased formalization, primarily concern the obligation that the assignment contract is to be signed by all parties, and the introduction of a control of the signatories function.

As quality at the EPO continues to decline (quality of patents, quality of service, quality of the workforce and so on) we can expect applicants to turn elsewhere. Battistelli killed the EPO and is only surviving by devouring the “stock” left on the shelf (backlog). With the existing EPs being vastly devalued by the gradual association with wrongly-granted, low-quality patents, price drops will become imperative, but it would already be too late. Battistelli is making the EPO completely unsustainable.

Open Patent Office is Not the Solution; Ending Software Patents is the Solution

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OPEN PATENT OFFICE
Homepage (requires JavaScript)

Summary: Our remarks about the goals and methods of the newly-established Open Patent Office and what is instead needed in order to combat the menace that threatens software development

EARLIER in the month we took note of this talk from Professor Frederik Questier (his target audience was European Free software developers), who proposed an “Open Patent Office” as he had decided to call it. It’s basically a sort of exercise in ‘openwashing’ — a term I suspect I coined nearly a decade ago — much like “OpenISO” or “Open XML”.

“As we noted before, this is not a feasible (or scalable) way to combat software patents and trolls.”In the middle of this week an article emerged in europa.eu and it was titled “Belgian researchers initiate Open Patent Office”. Sounds pretty large and ambitious, but only two people are involved. To quote: “Two researchers [Wim schreurs and Frederik Questier] at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium) are launching the Open Patent Office, aiming to aggregate innovative ideas to defend them from being blocked by patents. Patents no longer contribute to innovation or knowledge, the two claim, and often create a loss instead of a profit. Conversely, there is a growing need for defensive publications to allow open innovation.”

As we noted before, this is not a feasible (or scalable) way to combat software patents and trolls. Similar initiatives have been proposed before and they outsource the great burden to already-busy developers, who would rather code than waste time on patents, even if they are supposedly “open”.

“We require some form of concrete evidence that software patents are being granted by the thousands, without naming individual patents.”As we speak, based on what EPO insiders tell us, the EPO is granting a lot of software patents in defiance of clear and explicit rules that say software is exempted from patents. What we need to aim for is enforcement of the rules and invalidation of all existing software patents. We are already aware of some software patents at the EPO, but insiders who tell us about this would be unmasked if we published information about these (like patent numbers). Protection of our sources has always been paramount. It’s what reassures future sources to contact us with information; “thank you for the excellent work you do,” one such person wrote yesterday. “All the provided information is essential to all concerned parties.”

If the EPO’s management, which is growingly obsessed with so-called ‘production’, really wants lots of crappy, bogus software patents (which Battistelli certainly wants; he never claimed otherwise about software patents), then why not provide bulk information to us? We require some form of concrete evidence that software patents are being granted by the thousands, without naming individual patents. Perhaps some documents and/or E-mails can help illuminate a notorious policy to that effect.

New Scholarly Paper Says “UK’s Withdrawal From the EU Could Mean That the Entire (Unitary Patent) System Will Not Go Into Effect”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Estelle Derclaye
Reference/credit: Estelle Derclaye’s homepage

Summary: A paper from academics — not from the patent microcosm (for a change) — provides a more sobering interpretation, suggesting quite rightly that the UPC can’t happen in the UK (or in Europe), or simply not endure if some front groups such as CIPA somehow managed to bamboozle politicians into it (ratification in haste, before the facts are known)

THE Mafia-like EPO has been largely responsible for attacks on truth itself. It corrupted the media, corrupted politicians, corrupted delegates and continues to corrupt everything it touches. That’s why an independent (or untainted by money) assessment is sorely needed.

Estelle Derclaye from the University of Nottingham, together with Graeme B. Dinwoodie from the University of Oxford, Lionel A. F. Bently from the University of Cambridge, and Richard Arnold from the High Court of England and Wales, wrote this paper (published yesterday). Here is the abstract:

This paper discusses the consequences on the main intellectual property rights (patent, copyright, trade marks and designs) as well as on trade secrets of a hard Brexit, namely an exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union which means that it will not longer be bound by EU law.

Brexit and the UPC cannot mix and a UPC proponent took note of it, saying that it includes “some comments on the UPC & EU law…”

Here is the relevant part (page 5):

The implications of Brexit in the field of patents are less dramatic since there is very little substantive EU patent law. The core of the patent system operating in EU Member States is a creature of an international convention, the 1973 European Patent Convention (EPC), as revised in 2000, rather than of EU law. The EPC has ten adhering states which are not EU Member States (as well as two extension states and two validation states). Leaving the EU does not require the UK to leave the EPC, and there has been no suggestion that it should do so.

However, Brexit does raise significant problems with respect to an ambitious procedural innovation that is intended to simplify and reduce the costs of patent enforcement. For
decades, the EU has been trying to establish a unitary EU patent that would allow enforcement throughout the EU. The unitary patent, if it eventually comes into effect, will allow the right holder to enforce a single patent throughout participating EU states through a single patent court established by an international agreement (rather than EU legislation).
But that court is conceptually a court of all Member States with an obligation to refer the supposedly few questions of EU law that will arise, because that conceptualisation is necessary to comply with a judgment of the Court of Justice. If the UK Government adheres to its political position that the UK will not in any way be subject to EU law and the Court of Justice, then Brexit will likely exclude the UK from that scheme because of the possible reference to EU law. More significantly, the agreement establishing the system required 13
Member States and France, Germany and the UK to ratify it for the system to start functioning and one of the central divisions was going to be based in London. So the UK’s withdrawal from the EU could mean that the entire system will not go into effect even for the remaining Member States (at the moment, Spain and Poland are not participating in the Unitary Patent Court). Surprisingly though, at the end of November 2016, the UK confirmed it will ratify the unified patent court agreement. So at least, for now, the new system is apparently saved (though to what real effect is not entirely clear).

Earlier this week we took note of IAM's paid-for promotion of the UPC. Earlier this month they wrote: “Today’s UK government White Paper on Brexit, section 2.3 on CJEU. Is that UPC wriggle room in last sentence?”

The patent microcosm and/or Team UPC is misleading and misinforming the government. They try to get some people like Jo Johnson to ratify something that he does not even understand, just in order to get him to sign something before the end of March (Chapter 50/Brexit).

As someone pointed out to IAM: “So UPC international, CJEU only rules on EU law, UK law not now EU law, CJEU ruling on UPC case doesn’t affect UK law directly?”

Sadly, facts have been absent from this debate and the EPO opened up its wallet to Britain's biggest newspaper, in exchange for them publishing lies about the UPC.

Patent Trolls Update: Rodney Gilstrap Maintains His Support for Trolls, MPEG-LA Goes Hunting in China, and Blackberry Hits Nokia

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 6:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The epidemic broke out outside of Texas, where Rodney Gilstrap (below) had bred them with favourable rulings

Rodney Gilstrap

Summary: A roundup of the latest news about patent trolls and what they are up to in the United States, Europe, and Asia

Rodney Gilstrap, whom we wrote about before [1, 2], may have had a good run facilitating/norturing patent trolls, but his court may later this year be dealt a very major blow from the Supreme Court, which found merit in a complaint about District Courts like the trolls’ docket (Eastern District of Texas).

According to this MIP report, the trolls’ favourite judge, Rodney Gilstrap in the Eastern District of Texas, allows software patents to tax a Web browser which is based largely on Free software. The toll? $20 million. To quote: “An inventor and his late partner’s family has been awarded $20 million in damages against Google by an Eastern District of Texas jury. In a case presided over by Judge Rodney Gilstrap…”

“Patents in standards (SEP, RAND, FRAND etc.) should not be allowed.”This will hopefully be appealed and eventually reach CAFC or SCOTUS; otherwise a lot of Free software out there, not just Web browsers, may be subjected to patent shakedowns that are too expensive to fight back against.

Once again, based on this separate new report from MIP, CAFC turns out to be a lot more strict on patent scope than District Courts. “The Federal Circuit,” it says about CAFC, “has found Watson did not infringe Shire’s patent for Lialda, noting the “rare” exception established by Norian to the presumptively closed nature of the “consisting of” language…”

The “consisting of” cases have been covered here repeatedly in recent months. It’s not about software patents, but there is still something one can learn from that.

In other news, patent troll MPEG-LA (see background in our Wiki) goes after Huawei, which we wrote about this week in relation to Microsoft proxies attacking it after it had declined to sign patent settlement with Microsoft (paying Microsoft for software that Microsoft never developed). Remember that Microsoft is a prominent member of MPEG-LA and see this tweet where Florian Müller reports “H.264 patent holders and MPEG LA pool contributors suing Huawei and ZTE over alleged infringement. As always with MPEG LA, in Düsseldorf.”

“If a so-called ‘standard’ has patents associated with it, then it ought to be rejected, shunned, or simply deny its adopters the ‘privilege’ to attack other adopters of it.”Müller also took note of this news about BlackBerry suing Nokia. What they have in common is that they are both failed companies that used to make phones (still do, to a lesser degree) but have since since turned into trolls that fight companies, sometimes even in the Eastern District of Texas.

Last night we saw many dozens of articles in English about this (not particularly relevant to software patents which we tend to focus on), including for example “BlackBerry Files Patent-Infringement Suit Against Nokia”, “BlackBerry Launches Patent Lawsuit Against Nokia”, “BlackBerry Slaps Nokia With A Patent Infringement Lawsuit”, “Blackberry Hits Nokia With Suit Over 11 Telecom Patents”, and “BlackBerry sues Nokia over patent infringement”. As the below makes clear, BlackBerry is just interested in a source of income (cash flow) which does not necessitate production or anything. It wants welfare:

BlackBerry has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Nokia, demanding royalties on the Finnish company’s mobile network products that use an industry-wide technology standard.

Patents in standards (SEP, RAND, FRAND etc.) should not be allowed. If a so-called ‘standard’ has patents associated with it, then it ought to be rejected, shunned, or simply deny its adopters the ‘privilege’ to attack other adopters of it.

Guest Post: EPO, an Idyllic Place to Work

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

With heavily-used stock imagery (as below), this is the image of the EPO which they try to spread… (tweet from 3 days ago)

EPO image

Summary: The true face of the EPO as explained by an insider, recalling the history that led to the negative image and toxic work atmosphere

THE EPO is not an idyllic place. The title (nor ours) is therefore sarcastic. Workers of the EPO may find the following anonymous message, sent to us by a longtime insider, informative.

I would like to bring to your attention some facts in the history of the EPO. Some of these passed facts also account for the present situation. A novice reading your blog may derive that the catastrophic social situation of the EPO nowadays is uniquely the consequence of the mismanagement by the monkey team, Battistelli and his goons. One may also derive that the Office was a nice place to work, a kind of Heaven, before the present management team arrived. This is absolutely wrong.

I could write a book about the subject, but I will make it short. I’ve known the EPO for decades and all places of employment, unfortunately I cannot tell you more without fearing immediate retaliation from the EPO.

Anyone having a legal background and accurately reading the Codex that was sent to each newcomer would realise to which extent the legal protection was poor and to which extent the legal environment was weak. Notwithstanding, many decided to go for it because besides the legal framework there was an appetising corporate culture. I mean, not just an excellent financial package but also “sexy” practical working conditions. This kind of blindness happens when you are freshly in love with the wrong partner, you see one side [but] not the other.

The dark side of the Office was always present even before it was created, I mean at times of the IIB (Institut International des Brevets) located in the Hague. The staff of the IIB enjoyed a full immunity and tax-free conditions that unfortunately led to misuse of their advantages. Decades ago the newcomer staff in the Hague benefited of a limited right to buy once a tax-free car. Could you imagine how this “tax-free right” was misused? Some newcomers were invited to sell their right to the benefit of older staff (most of the ex-IIB staff). But that was illegal. What choice was left for those “elected” newcomers? They still were in the probation period. That was for many the first disillusionment.

You would then quickly realise how many rivalries were at play among staff. The ex-IIB group, the ex-Oktrooiburo (the Dutch patent office), the Brits, the French, the ex-DPA (German patent office). And on the top of that the insane rivalry between sites of employment. All the groups were acting like a Mafia, defending and positioning their bosses across the office.

At first you had time enough to do your job decently. With “decently” I mean according to the examination rules that were considered the Holy Grail of patenting. But rapidly came production increases, some of them were justified, for instance by acknowledging a learning curve. However, more and more increases in production were justified with arguments like new computer system, BEST (bringing examination and search together) effect, splitting a department, your colleagues does better etc….

The consequence of constant production increases over decades to attain unrealistic targets was double: decrease in quality and examiners searching another activity than the core (chore?) task of “patenting” that was anyway disregarded by the management. And that was the great deal: working in any other side activity alleviated your production pressure. Your productivity (days/file) was far more important when your reporting officer had to write a notation report. Of course there were “artists” misusing the system: the best “producers in a department with far the best productivity had done as little as 4 files/dossiers in a…..year! These persons were particularly well noted as they contributed in one or more resources-hungry “projects” .

Many were aware of the breach and the usual career-seeking staff with lower morale saw an efficient way of rocketing, boosting a career. The first step was to be very friendly and get close to one of the Mafia bosses usually by drinking liters of beer during after-work parties. Then presenting and making accepted a “project”. At this stage you already were team leader in a project and partially freed from examination duties. The second step was to make your baby grow by recruiting friends among the elected Mafia then creating a sub-Mafia of your own.

In the mean time, staff that recruited for doing the “dirty” work were pressured even more because the global production of the office was sinking.

Even today the staff working in the patent production line (administrative officers and examiners) are misconsidered at a point that “management” calls them the “TOQUARDS”. If you don’t know this French word look at:

http://dictionary.reverso.net/french-synonyms/toquard

That is all the respect the managers of the Office give to their staff.

Team Battistelli is at war with its staff or better said with part of the staff, at least the 4000 union members and certainly all the toquards that do the “dirty work” compared to the the nice and far most useful job of bullying staff.

I have been very affected by the testimonials provided in two of your recent posts:

http://techrights.org/2017/02/07/epo-antipathy/ [Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part VI: Fear Climate and Antipathy Now the ‘Norm’]

The quote “The Office has been sowing evil and bad acts all over,…..They have their own inconsistent convenience of career interests to preserve: truly it’s nothing, but to an emotionally and morally semi-blind creature that has lost any professional profile and moral sense, that’s all that matters.”

This statement is so poignantly true ….

http://techrights.org/2017/02/09/epo-depression-and-suicides/ [This is Why Many People at the EPO Commit Suicide]

To quote : ““Right now the friends of my friends are being ‘disappeared’
Soon it will be my friends’ turn, and then mine (…) ” (text from Professor Salman Haider)….Soon the EPO will look like a psychiatric hospital with a lot of people in great psychological distress granting patents for Europe.
Just missing the doctors to help.”

This is again the day by day life in the Office. The EPO has become a criminal organisation killing people among its staff. There are many ways to kill someone, using weapons is certainly the last recourse. The EPO offers you all the tools to commit suicide. I know that, I have seen that with my own eyes.

Yet Battistelli has won all the line .. or did he?

If I were the guy (which I am fortunately not) I would be extremely worried. The staff is now left in a legal desert as confirmed by the latest NL judgement. The staff had “nothing and some hopes”. They are left with “nothing” at all in front of a mocking dictator . No law, no tribunal, no union, no friends, no humanity.

Once you realise you are left alone in Hell without any possibility of return, some may be tempted to join the Mafia to soothe the pain (“join them if you cannot fight them”), other may turn their violence against themselves and commit suicides, other may want to blast the whole system. Battistelli shouldn’t forget what the primary task of an “engineer” was.
So I wish you good look Mr Battistelli, you have set up all the conditions for a big disaster but you’ll be a hero…..

Much of the above isn’t new to us; nor was it ignored. Prior to Battistelli’s reign we had already written about EPO protests and other issues, going back to the dawn of Techrights in 2006. But one can not deny the fact that Battistelli’s tactics are what led to stuff hitting the fan and the inherent issues at the Office becoming more widely understood.

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