Caricature: ‘Posterrorism’ at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No wonder Battistelli is widely disliked by stakeholders too

Caricature about mailbox

Summary: How EPO management treats applicants who are posting documents, aside from the already-obtrusive checks of personal belongings and even their phones/laptops

THE reign of terror at the EPO is terror by the management against staff, yet the management likes to invert the narrative.

One reader told us, “did you know that the EPO is starting to treat patent applicants as terrorists too? (After SUEPO officials and staff in general).”

“New security measures at EPO buildings,” as was covered here last month in light of this post from the EPO (warning: epo.org link), take this to the extreme. “This is not an April joke,” our reader added. “As announced on 14 February 2017, while the automated mail-boxes at PschorrHöfe and in Berlin will remain open, “the automated mail-box at the EPO’s headquarters in Munich (Isar building, Kohlstrasse) is being closed as from 1 April 2017. Outside office hours, documents may be handed to the porter, who will security-scan them on receipt.”

The above cartoon was produced to that effect.

Raise Your Glass to the Monopoly — New Article About the European Patent Office Losing It on Patent Scope

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Prost auf das Monopol

Summary: For purposes of long-term preservation and information, “Prost auf das Monopol” in English is hereby being published

“Here is a translation of the article that recently appeared in the Austrian KURIER,” a reader told us, having spent some time on the text whose English translation we've craved. This article (original text in German) does implicate the EPO.

“As you already noticed,” said this translator, “there is not really anything new in this article. The controversial barley patents were granted back in November 2016.

“However, the article may be significant not so much for its “news value” but because it seems to be the first sign that the Austrian media is starting to take a deeper interest in EPO matters. There has been little or no reporting about EPO matters in the Austrian media to date.

“In case anybody wants to contact the Kurier journalist to provide him with more material his e-mail address is andreas.anzenberger@kurier.at

Raise your glass to the monopoly !

Patents on brewing barley have been granted in Europe.
The threat of the monopolization of food production is looming.

Andreas Anzenberger

The European Patent Office is working on the Americanisation of agriculture in the European Union. Three patents on varieties of malting barely have been granted to the brewery firms Carlsberg and Heineken. The patents also cover the beers produced from the barley. If one can register a patent for the breeding of new varieties of malting barley, this also applies to all commercially usable plants.


“For years, seed companies like Monsanto have been trying to get patents on fruit and vegetables,” warns Michel Reimon, MEP for the Green Party. So far, as many as 200 patent applications for plant cultivation have been granted worldwide. Some of these have been issued by the European Patent Office, including patents on specific varieties of broccoli and tomatoes.

Taking a joint approach

On 20 February 2017 the EU Member States decided to jointly challenge patents on plants and animals. The European Patent Office is to change its existing practice of issuing patents. On this issue environmental organizations, Austrian plant breeders, political parties and the EU Commission are all in agreement: patents represent a dangerous step towards the monopolization of the supply of foodstuffs and beverages in Europe.


Because of this several non-governmental organizations have filed an objection to the granting of the patents. “Carlsberg and Heineken are trying to expand their market power at the expense of consumers, farmers and other breweries,” is the criticism of Georg Janssen, Managing Director of the Traditional Farming Association.

Patents for plant cultivation are common in the USA. The cultivation and propagation of the patented varieties is prohibited. In Europe, on the other hand, a different rule applies: It is only forbidden to grow and sell the varieties. This is called the Breeder’s Privilege. However, it is permitted to use competitor’s varieties for further breeding. It is therefore impossible to achieve a monopoly on such plants in the EU.

Genetic engineering

In Europe patents are available solely for genetically modified plant varieties. However, these are only cultivated to a limited extent.

The protests of the EU have so far shown no effect. The European Patent Office’s self-perception was revealed by its President, Benoit Battistelli, in an interview with the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit: “If you are the director of a national Patent Office, you are obliged to report to a Ministry, to a Parliament. I manage a politically independent institution.”

Battistelli’s adversaries have given him the nickname “Sonnenkönig”.

The KURIER made enquiries with the branch of the European Patent Office in Vienna. The answer came promptly: The EPO has no media spokesperson for the subject of patents on plants. Written questions may be submitted.

We are going to deal separately with some of the articles cited therein (above). These merit other posts, possibly left aside for another day as they are less urgent or relevant.

EPO Record Low on Quality of European Patents (EPs) in 2016

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Grant everything on the shelf, fast, just like in SIPO (China)

EPO flying high
Patents just flying off the shelf, almost like hotcakes, in spite of brain drain? Sounds like a total catastrophe!

Summary: Battistelli’s assembly line is working as expected, churning out dubious patents at a high pace and completely destroying the reputation of every patent which starts with “EP”

Executives are conventionally judged by year-to-year or quarter-to-quarter performance (temporal basis), so it’s widely known that they have an incentive to make things look rosy at the future’s expense, knowing that their term’s end is approaching anyway. It’s a case of “leave the mess for my predecessor to grapple with…”

It’s hard to say that Battistelli forgot what patent offices are intended to do and what they are for; it’s hard to believe Battistelli ever knew those things… in France they don't even engage in examination of applications. Battistelli, moreover, is not a scientist, so he thinks like some ENA-trained executive.

At the EPO, talent is moving out, pending applications (queued) are running out and will soon necessitate layoffs, and quality of patent assessment/examination is an utter joke, as recent leaks served to reveal (the EPO tried hard to distract from these leaks). The EPO’s previous economist warned against this, but the new economist, who is French, is acting like a mouthpiece of Battistelli (based on what he said in recent public events).

“The EPO’s previous economist warned against this, but the new economist, who is French, is acting like a mouthpiece of Battistelli (based on what he said in recent public events).”This morning the EPO wrote in Twitter: “Our annual report is out: EPO grants record number of European patents in 2016″ (original at epo.org, but it can potentially be used to harvest IP addresses, so a screenshot is shown at the top of our article). Put another way (contrary to the headline): quality of patents at the EPO has nosedived. Insiders keep telling us so; we know for a fact that’s true. They basically sort of mock the quality of their own woks, but it’s not their fault; the management forces them to do hasty and thus shoddy work.

No word yet about patent quality from the EPO (just numbers), but notice, in the tweet below, that they put the word “quality” in big fonts and first from the left:

They obviously wish to distract from the reality — the fact that patent quality is compromised and the whole “EP” pool is now polluted with questionable patents. This can take decades to undo or revoke; public confidence would be harmed in the meantime and stakeholders are already growing impatient; who wants questionable (vulnerable in a court of law) patents? That is often worse than useless — a waste of the plaintiff’s money (renewal, legal fees, court bills etc.), not just the defendant’s money.

“They obviously wish to distract from the reality — the fact that patent quality is compromised and the whole “EP” pool is now polluted with questionable patents.”No words can describe how much damage is done to Europe (not just the EPO) by Battistelli. I as a scientist too am affected by this.

Prior to the release of this bad news (lack of care for the examination process), the EPO wrote this stupid teaser: “Who leads innovation in Europe? EPO releases #annualresults 2016 in < than 24h. Stay tuned! http://buzz.mw/b1wmv_f”

“The EPO is quickly becoming a laughing stock. It’s not a people’s office but large corporations’ office.”The fools (or worse — liars) of EPO management pretend that the number of patents is the same as innovation; that’s biased and favourable to rich countries/firms, as we explained here before.

The EPO is quickly becoming a laughing stock. It’s not a people’s office but large corporations' office. The Twitter account of the EPO is a symptom of this. Here it is speaking about online filing ("Online"=Windows). As indicated by the photo, lots and lots of Microsoft Windows may be involved.

“How do you file a patent with the new online filing application? Learn at this workshop,” the EPO stated.

Another new tweet speaks of a so-called “IP Basics kit,” which was “Produced by the EPO in co-operation with the European Union Intellectual Property Office” (when do you merge if ever? It would totally render the UPC incompatible with Brexit because of abundantly explicit EU connections).

Another Delegation Antagonistic on EPO Matters is ‘Decapitated’ (Sean Dennehey)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just days before the UPC question (Brexit compatibility issue) resurfaces, with an attempt to ratify bar any Parliamentary debate

Sean DenneheySummary: The head of UK-IPO, Sean Dennehey, is no longer the head of UK-IPO, but we need to know why (somewhat of a mystery, at least for now)

Photo credit: British government (official profile)

THE EPO (Office) is facing growing resistance from elements in the Organisation that may be too expensive to 'buy'. Usually, the larger the nation, the more likely it is to be against Battistelli’s ludicrous proposals, but an inherent flaw is, all nations — no more how minuscule (like islands or city-states) — have an equal vote. We wrote about this subject many times before.

“Usually, the larger the nation, the more likely it is to be against Battistelli’s ludicrous proposals, but an inherent flaw is, all nations — no more how minuscule (like islands or city-states) — have an equal vote.”Odd news surfaced on Monday. Sean Dennehey, who had repeatedly antagonised Battistelli (voting against his proposals), was left out of his job. “The IPO [or UKIPO, or UK-IPO] has appointed head of Companies House Tim Moss as its new chief executive,” wrote MIP, which is Battistelli-friendly. This article is the only one about it (that we’ve seen so far) and much of it is behind a paywall; what is visible says “Moss replaces Sean Dennehey who took on the role of acting chief executive following the departure of John Alty…”

I publicly asked about it 24 hours ago. Today I asked again: “Does anyone know why Sean Dennehey was removed from his position? Doesn’t look like he stepped down.”

We have heard some stories about Dennehey which we cannot share publicly (to protect sources).

“Without Dennehey leading the British delegation next week there will probably be even less resistance to crooked Team Battistelli.”Yesterday I pinged John Alty (who is on Twitter) about the matter, but I have received no response. Sending both of them an E-mail, as I did before, would probably have the same result. We previously shared here Sean Dennehey’s E-mail address, but he too is not particularly responsive.

Readers should recall Sean Dennehey's recent record at the EPO (Administrative Council). Also recall we heard rumours that Battistelli had been lobbying to remove Roland Grossenbacher, the Former Chairman of the Administrative Council of the EPO, after there was disagreement between them. If anyone knows what is going on, please get in touch. It may be an innocent coincidence, but we need to know for sure. Without Dennehey leading the British delegation next week there will probably be even less resistance to crooked Team Battistelli.

With a Week Left Before the Administrative Council’s Meeting, Pressure on Battistelli to Leave the EPO Continues to Grow

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

More embattled than ever before…

Battistelli besieged

Summary: The number of pressure vectors against Battistelli has grown since the above diagram was rendered (UK, Switzerland, stakeholders and many more can be added), which makes an implosion seem like a matter of time

Techrights will soon publish more EPO leaks, specifically Administrative Council (AC) leaks. Battistelli now reaches lower than the bottom of he barrel and it is becoming a liability to delegates, whose reputation too is stained by him. Laws don’t apply to Battistelli, but laws certainly apply to delegates and they have the power to remove Battistelli if they work collectively and coordinate with one another while Battistelli isn’t watching.

As someone put it yesterday in a comment:

The next meeting of the Administrative Council takes place on 15 and 16 March. I hope Merpel can keep us informed about the outcome.

If the case of the suspended BOA member is deferred yet again, the AC will have lost whatever shreds of credibility it has remaining in my view.

Well, “I hope Merpel can keep us informed about the outcome,” one anonymous person wrote, but IP Kat self-censors on EPO scandals, especially after sanctions (a one-day ban on IP Kat at the EPO). To quote the full comment from another thread:

Talking of (self-)censorship on IPKat, there seems to have been a bit of an inexplicable time lapse in posting my 4 March response to zoobab.

Yes, well… as we shall show in a separate post (later on), the site now pushes fake news about the UPC; that’s all we get after the EPO intimidated IP Kat into dropping EPO criticism and even deleting some comments related to the EPO. It’s not only self-censorship of articles but also omission of comments [1, 2]. The EPO corrupts the media not just by paying it but also by threatening it.

“AC members under chairman “His Masters Voice” Jesper KONGSTAD know the situation at the EPO in detail,” said the next new comment, which also took note of Koenders' letter to the EPO. To quote:

Battistelli will never accept an independent investigation at the EPO as requeted by Mr Koenders. The only inspection Battistelli eventually could accept is an inspection done by him chosen friendly and thus not independent auditors and paid (bought) by ¨himself¨ with the EPO money and who will clearly repeat his rosy point of view that everything is more than okee in the EPO.

The AC members under chairman ¨His Masters Voice¨ Jesper KONGSTAD know the situation at the EPO in detail. They are afraid of the scandal that an independent inspection will find soon. Because immediately questions will rise: Why did the AC let the situation go so far without control? Why the AC approved regulations that violate human rights and violate the rules of law? Which personal advantages did the AC members received from the EPO president to vote “yes” during years? How are/were the salaries of the top-management inclusive the president determined and increased?

I am afraid that Battistelli and the AC will do nothing to make the situation transparent.He will only continue with fake measurements and actions to gain time, to promote Battistelli´s inner circle and rob more money from the EPO. Mr. Koenders should contact Mr. Maas in Germany soon to make an effective plan together to stop this scandalous situation.

The next comment said: “If Battistelli were a reasonable person, he would now step down because of the lack of trust of both the workforce and the applicants. But he is not a rational man and he will choose the deserved difficult and painful way. It is time to say goodbye……”

The Register‘s Kieren McCarthy has meanwhile published an article based on our posts (“Hat tip to Techrights for spotting the two letters,” it says) and the article is titled “Come in King Battistelli, your time at the Euro Patent Office is up” (highlights below).

Time is running out for European Patent Office president Benoit Battistelli.

After years of turmoil at the international organization thanks to his heavy-handed reform efforts, it seems that patience at the political level is finally giving out.

In the past week, two documents have been posted online indicating that the Dutch government and the International Labor Office have had enough of the Frenchman and are prepared to take steps to make sure he is ousted.


Although the language may seem soft, for a diplomatic letter it is tantamount to a declaration of war.


In addition to politicians, the International Labor Office (ILO) has also published an extraordinary paper to be considered at a meeting of its governing body later this month in Geneva.

One comment about it is not quite so optimistic. The reader said: “Don’t imagine one sec that Battistelli will resign. on the contrary he will do all he can to stay with little dirty trics to divide and rule the 38 members states so that the decision to select his successor be delayed. Battistelli ? this is Fillon at EPO!”

It was almost 2 years ago when Battistelli was rumoured to have threatened to resign.

The comments at The Register, as is typical over there, don’t get posted by EPO insiders (or very rarely get posted by EPO insiders). One person said: “The story has evolved for so long with new twists that I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for closure.”

“This has given me almost as much fun as SCO v’s the World,” wrote another person, alluding to the SCO case which we wrote a lot about. “Though I hope Battistelli does not last as long.”

“Battistelli sounds like a very nasty piece of work,” wrote another person. “For the staff at the EPO, I hope he gets kicked out quickly.”

Someone there knows an EPO insider and wrote: “I have a friend working there (Netherlands), and it went from a beautiful place to work, to someplace you dump toxic waste… His workload has tripled maybe even more. No longer a happy worker.”

Then there’s this (unedited): “Being the most [redacted] boss possible. A sort of PHB of PHB’s. That way they’ll never forget his time at the top (or at least until the patent expires)”

One more person said: “So how long has his current contract got to go and can he just extended it himself because everyone is too afraid to go against him?”

And another one: “The ILO, also being an international organization, can presumably just create it’s [sic] own army/police force and invade the EPO’s Dutch office. I mean, it might be against the laws of Holland , but apparently those wouldn’t apply.”

That’s sarcasm of course. None of the above adds much new information (The Register‘s readers are not insiders, unlike many IP Kat readers).

According to what we privately heard from an insider this week, the concept of an EPO without Battistelli is not so far-fetched, even quite soon. Writing about “EPONIA and paranoia,” one person sent us these thoughts on what goes on right now:

Obviously the management vermin team is turning paranoid. The Isar premises look like Fort Knox. Hence my advice to the colleagues willing to disseminate information. Never use copiers available in the EPO. All copiers are monitored. All, no exceptions. With internal hard drives and remote access. Therefore use your phones, send the data to a personal cloud. Encrypt your smartphone, use encrypted containers on an Sd card and tools to hide your sensitive applications and data. Modern smartphone are very valuable to wannabe James Bonds . Oh yes there is another point: did you notice to black unused VoIP phone on your desk. Unplug it completely….

We wrote about the issue with these phones over a year ago. But having said that, we also warned about the use of mobile phones at the Office, as controversial devices such as Stingray might presently be in use.

In drafts at the moment we have about a dozen EPO articles and hundreds of documents. We have backlog or sorts, but based on the context (or hot topic du jour) we typically have something interesting we can pull out and publish.

Links 7/3/2017: Linux 4.11 RC1, ROSA Fresh R8.1

Posted in News Roundup at 7:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Linux? Not on our hardware, say Microsoft and Lenovo

      Both Microsoft and Lenovo appear to be wary of having operating systems other than Windows run on their own hardware: in the former case, the Surface Book and in Lenovo’s case, its Yoga line of laptops.

    • Razer looking to improve Linux support on their ‘Blade’ series of laptops

      It seems Razer have been getting a lot of requests for Linux support on their ‘Razer Blade’ laptop line, so they are looking for feedback.

    • Running The Ryzen 7 1700 At 4.0GHz On Linux

      Many Phoronix readers appear rather intrigued by the AMD Ryzen 7 1700 on Linux as it offers good multi-threaded performance with eight cores / 16 threads and retails for just $329 USD. Making the Ryzen 7 1700 even more appealing to enthusiasts is that it overclocks well. For those curious, here are benchmarks of the Ryzen 7 1700 on Ubuntu Linux running at 4.0GHz.

    • The Linux Club Guide

      This guide tells some of our story, but mostly tries to give you ideas on how to make a Linux club work where you are.

    • Review: The Endless Mission One is a gorgeous Linux-powered desktop with a tempting price tag

      Companies that exclusively manufacture Linux computers are few and far between. The few that exist tend to focus on the “prosumer” or developer market niche. Endless, however, has tread a different path. The San Francisco-based manufacturer is known for its quirky line of affordable machines, all running its own bespoke Linux-based operating system, Endless OS.

      Announced at CES earlier this year, the Endless Mission One is the latest in the company’s burgeoning stable of computers. And compared to the rest of Endless’ lineup, it’s a bit of an aberration.

    • Dell doubles down on high-end Ubuntu Linux laptops

      CEO and founder of Dell, Michael Dell, has long been a Linux supporter. By 2007, under his guidance, Dell became the first major OEM to offer a laptop with pre-installed Linux. His Linux of choice? Ubuntu Linux. Ten years later, Dell is still selling Ubuntu Linux-powered laptops.

    • Razer Is Turning Razer Blade Into The “Best Linux Laptop”

      Razer founder and CEO Min-Liang Tan has announced that Razer is soon going to support Linux distros on its Razer Blade laptop series officially. To welcome the suggestions from the community, Razer has created a new Linux Corner hub. In a Facebook post, Tan revealed that their work would start with making sure that all the drivers are working and properly optimized.

    • Litebook launches $249 Linux laptop

      The market for Linux-equipped laptops continues to expand, whether crowd-funded or DIY or just replacing Windows on an existing notebook on your own. Another entrant has emerged that’s more powerful than the Kickstarter-backed Pinebook but less expensive than the KDE Slimbook.

    • Litebook Launches Cheap, Chromebook-Like Linux Laptop Powered by elementary OS

      Litebook, a small hardware manufacturer that we never heard of before, has recently released a new Linux-powered laptop that’s cheap, slim, fast, elegant, light, and designed to rival Chromebooks.

      The Alpha Litebook is a 14.1-inch Full HD (1920×1080) laptop that runs the Ubuntu-based elementary OS distribution and ships with some of the most popular open source applications, including Google Chrome, Steam for Linux, Spotify, Skype, PlayOnLinux, WPS Office office suite, and much more.

    • Litebook Linux Laptop Launches From $249

      A new Linux laptop has been launched this week and is available to purchase from $249 in the form of the Litebook, which is equipped with a 14 inch display offering users a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

      The Litebook is powered by an Intel Celeron N3150 quad-core Braswell processor supported by 4 GB of RAM and loaded with an Elementary OS Linux software. Although there are a few points that that need to be discussed before you part with your hard owned cash.

  • Server

    • How Linux Conquered the Data Center

      Some of the people who worked to create the original Linux operating system kernel remember this time with almost crystal clarity, as though a bright flashbulb indelibly etched its image on the canvasses of their minds.

      It was the weekend before the 18th anniversary of the first moon landing: July 20, 1998. Red Hat was continuing to gather together names of new allies and prospective supporters for its enterprise Linux. Several more of the usual suspects had joined the party: Netscape, Informix, Borland’s Interbase, Computer Associates (now CA), Software AG. These were the challengers in the Windows software market, the names to which the VARs attached extra discounts. As a single glimpse of the Softsel Hot List or the Ingram Micro D sales chart would tell any CIO studying the market, none of these names were the leaders in their respective software categories, nor were they expected to become leaders.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Podcast for March 6th, 2017

      In this week’s kernel podcast: Linus Torvalds announces Linux 4.11-rc1, rants about folks not correctly leveraging linux-next, the remainder of this cycle’s merge window pulls, and announcements concerning end of life for some features.

  • Kernel Space

    • The New Features Of The Linux 4.11 Kernel
    • Linux 4.11 Doesn’t Change The Game For AMD’s Ryzen

      Linux 4.11 is worthwhile in that it’s bringing ALC1220 audio support, the codec used by many Ryzen (and Intel Kabylake) motherboards, but this next kernel version doesn’t appear to change Ryzen’s performance.

      I didn’t see anything notable this Linux 4.11 merge window with regard to Ryzen for potentially affecting its performance, but I ran some benchmarks this weekend just to confirm.

    • Linux 4.11-rc1

      So two weeks have passed, the merge window is over, and 4.11-rc1 has
      been tagged and pushed out.

      This looks like a fairly regular release. It’s on the smallish side,
      but mainly just compared to 4.9 and 4.10 – so it’s not really
      _unusually_ small (in recent kernels, 4.1, 4.3, 4.5, 4.7 and now 4.11
      all had about the same number of commits in the merge window).

      It _does_ feel like there was more stuff that I was asked to pull than
      was in linux-next. That always happens, but seems to have happened
      more now than usually. Comparing to the linux-next tree at the time of
      the 4.10 release, almost 18% of the non-merge commits were not in
      Linux-next. That seems higher than usual, although I guess Stephen
      Rothwell has actual numbers from past merges.

      Now, about a quarter of the patches that weren’t in linux-next do end
      up having the same patch ID as something that was, so some of it was
      due to just rebasing. But still – we have about 13% of the merge
      window that wasn’t in linux-next when 4.10 was released.

      Looking at the sources of that, there’s a few different classes:

      - fixes.

      This is obviously ok and inevitable. I don’t expect everything to
      have been in linux-next, after all.

      - the statx() systen call thing.

      Yeah, I’ll allow this one too, because quite frankly, the first
      version of that patch was posted over six years ago.

      - there’s the quite noticeable linux/sched.h split-up series

      This one was posted and discussed before the merge window, and
      needed to be merged late (and even then caused some conflicts). So it
      had real reasons for late inclusion.

      - a couple of subsystems. drm, Infiniband, watchdog and btrfs stand out.

      That last case is what I found rather annoying this merge window.

      In particular, if you cannot follow the simple merge window rules
      (this whole two-week merge window and linux-next process has been in
      place over a decade), at least make the end result look good. Make it
      all look easy and problem-free. Make it look like you know what you’re
      doing, and make damn sure the code was tested exhaustively some other

      Because if you bypass the linux-next sanity checks, you had better
      have your own sanity checks that you replaced them with. Or you just
      need to be _so_ good that nobody minds you bypassing them, and nobody
      ever notices your shortcuts.

      Saying “screw all the rules and processes we have in place to verify
      things”, and then sending me crap that doesn’t even build for me is
      _not_ acceptable.

      You people know who you are. Next merge window I will not accept
      anything even remotely like that. Things that haven’t been in
      linux-next will be rejected, and since you’re already on my shit-list
      you’ll get shouted at again.


    • Linus Torvalds Announces the First Release Candidate of Linux Kernel 4.11

      Just a few moments ago, Linus Torvalds announced the availability of the first Release Candidate (RC) development build of the upcoming Linux 4.11 kernel series, which users can download, compile, and test on their GNU/Linux distributions.

    • Linux 4.11-rc1 Kernel Released

      Linus Torvalds has announced the first test release of the upcoming Linux 4.11 kernel.

      Torvalds’ release announcement that just hit the mailing list mostly talks about the size of the merges and a fair amount of material that was merged but hadn’t been staged in linux-next, upsetting him some. Beginning with Linux 4.12, Linus will become more strict about seeing that big changes be staged in linux-next for testing.

    • VMware Becomes Linux Foundation Gold Member, Pledging Increased Support for Open Source Development
    • VMware affirms its open source commitment by becoming Gold Linux Foundation member

      Linux and other open source projects are changing the world. If you don’t believe it, just think of Android — the most used mobile operating system is a Linux distro. Not to mention, many consumer products license open source code. Heck, even major companies like Microsoft and Apple are embracing open source nowadays.

      Today, VMware shows its commitment to the open source community by becoming a Linux Foundation Gold Member. The company joins many other successful companies at that level, such as Facebook, Toshiba, and Toyota, to name a few.

    • The Companies That Support Linux and Open Source: VMware

      VMware is a global leader in cloud infrastructure and business mobility and has been active in open source development for many years.

      The company has steadily increased its open source involvement through Linux Foundation projects such as ONAP, Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), Cloud Foundry, Open vSwitch and others. And it has just increased its commitment to open source and The Linux Foundation by becoming a Gold member.

    • Torvalds calls out developers who ‘screw all the rules and processes’ in place for Linux merges

      Linus Torvalds has taken aim at developers who ‘screw all the rules and processes’ in place for Linux merges.

      The founder and long-time principal developer of Linux never minces his words. In the past, Torvald’s been called out for ‘verbally abusing’ his programmers with expletive-ridden language, and in response, has said: “I’m not going to start wearing ties, I’m also not going to buy into the fake politeness, the lying, the office politics, and backstabbing, the passive aggressiveness, and the buzzwords. Because THAT is what ‘acting professionally’ results in.”

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • Core i7 6800K Linux CPU Scaling Benchmarks With Ubuntu 16.10

        Earlier today I posted some Linux game CPU scaling benchmarks using a Core i7 6800K Broadwell-E For showing how current Linux games make use of (or not) multiple CPU cores, which originated from discussions by Linux gamers following the AMD Ryzen CPU launch with how many cores are really needed. While going through the process of running those Linux game CPU scaling benchmarks, I also ran some other workloads for those curious.

        For those wondering how other Linux CPU-focused workloads are scaling across multiple CPU cores with recent versions of the Linux kernel and distributions, such as Ubuntu 16.10 with Linux 4.8, you may find these additional data-sets interesting. Some of the used tests are also in common with this weekend’s AMD Ryzen CPU Core Scaling Performance article.

      • CPUFreq Governor Tuning For Better AMD Ryzen Linux Performance

        Our latest Ryzen Linux benchmarks are looking at the impact of the CPUFreq scaling driver’s governors have on the performance of the Ryzen 7 1800X, including a look at the power consumption and performance-per-Watt when changing the governors.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Kube, a new KDE email/PIM app, sees first tech preview release

        Heard about KDE Kube? It’s a promising new project building a KDE mail and personal information manager suite built around QtQuick and a high-performance data access layer called ‘Sink’.

        Kube 0.1.0 was released this weekend and is the first pre-production tech preview release of the app. While it’s still (very) rough around the edges, it’s still a promising glimpse at what could mature to be a standout KDE application.

      • Using Krita Without a Keyboard

        Recently we added a custom hotkey file to Krita to work with a hotkey application called Tablet Pro. Tablet Pro allows you to use your tablet without a keyboard by replacing the keyboard shortcuts with custom onscreen hotkeys. For our Krita users our goal has been to give digital artists the power to create at a professional level without a huge expense. Tablet Pro is working with us on that goal. We were happy to work together on this and are excited to share the results. The hotkeys they provide will give you a very similar experience to a Wacom Cintiq with expresskeys.

      • KDevelop 5.0.4 Open-Source IDE Released with over 60 Improvements and Bug Fixes

        The developers of the KDevelop open-source integrated development environment (IDE) software announced this past weekend the release and general availability of the fourth maintenance update to the KDevelop 5.0 stable series.


        According to the release notes, it’s a major update that appears to add a total of 66 changes across the kdevelop, kdevplatform, kdev-php, and kdev-python components. The full changelog is attached at the end of the article for your reading pleasure.

      • Interviewing Thomas Pfeiffer, member of the Board of Directors of KDE e.V.

        We asked Thomas Pfeiffer (member of the Board of Directors of KDE e.V.) some questions about the KDE Community ongoing projects and future plans.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • Linux distributions: Rolling releases vs point releases, which should you choose?

      My recent experiences with installing a number of different Linux distributions on a new ASUS notebook have provided an interesting illustration of the differences between “rolling release” and “point release” distributions. I would like to go into a bit more detail about that here.

      First, for those who might not be familiar with the two release models, I will explain each of them — and to avoid boring most others, I will keep the descriptions very brief.

    • Best Linux distros

      While it may not be as popular as Windows or MacOS, Linux is often the operating system of choice for those in the know. A combination of power and versatility has made Linux a firm favourite among developers and self-professed tech geeks over the years.

      Contrary to popular belief, however, you don’t need to be a programmer or a lifelong tech head to start using Linux. Most of the more popular distros are exceedingly easy to use, with heaps of documentation and guides available online. Best of all, Linux is classed as ‘open source’ software, meaning that it’s completely free!

    • This Week In Solus – Install #41

      Ikey has spent considerable amount of time this week dedicated to shaping up our Linux Driver Management tool, which will be responsible for our switchable graphics solution. The initial version of LDM will enable always-on Optimus, as that is the highest priority item, before moving on to switchable graphics itself.

    • Solus’ Linux Driver Management Tool Enables “Always-On” Nvidia Optimus Support

      Joshua Strobl from the Solus Project has managed to publish a new weekly newsletter to inform users of the independently-developed Solus operating system about the latest developments.

      It would appear that Solus’ development team is still working hard these days to improve the upcoming Linux Driver Management (LDM) tool, which is now capable of detecting multiple system configurations, including hybrid Intel and AMD Radeon or Intel and Nvidia GPUs, but also computers with AMD APUs by automatically configuring the graphics stack.

    • Reviews

      • Fatdog64 Linux review

        Do not be mislead by the use of “fat” in the name, Fatdog64 is a very lightweight Linux distribution. It is only “fat” compared to Puppy Linux, which Fatdog originally derived from. The first release of Fatdog was as an expansion package for Puppy Linux before becoming a distribution in its own right. As such, Fatdog releases ship with more pre-installed packages than Puppy Linux, so by comparison it is “fatter.”

        Fatter, of course, is a relative term, so Fatdog64 710, the latest release, is much, much smaller than many other distributions. The ISO is a meagre 377MB. Despite the small download size, it still comes with a decent selection of software packed into the image. It uses Openbox as the default desktop environment with JVM being an alternative option, so no weighty GNOME or KDE, which really helps trim the proverbial fat.

    • New Releases

      • Kwort 4.3.2 is out

        Kwort 4.3.2 is available for download

      • CRUX-Based Kwort 4.3.2 Linux OS Is Out with GTK3 Support, Improved Look and Feel

        David Cortarello from the Kwort project, a GNU/Linux distribution that’s fast, lightweight, modern, and based on CRUX Linux, announced the availability of the second point release to the Kwort 4.3 stable series.

      • [Trenta OS] March 2017 Update

        We would like to start this update by thanking our dedicated fans and community members who have shown us nothing but support over the 3 years that we have worked on Trenta OS and Trenta.io. Today we will make some possibly unpopular announcements. Our goal of providing you with the best looking open-source desktop experience has not changed. Though, we do need to make some critical changes at this time.


        TL;DR: Trenta OS ISO release schedule has been put on hold. Rainier UI and Trenta OS testing packages will be installable on existing Ubuntu Gnome installations and possibly more distros for testing. There will be more community interaction.

      • Maui 17.03 “Cuba Libre” Linux OS Has KDE Plasma 5.9.3, Qt 5.7.1 & Calamares 3.1

        The Ubuntu-based Maui operating system has been updated this weekend to the 17.03 version, a major release that appears to add many of the latest GNU/Linux technologies and Open Source applications.

      • 4MLinux 21.0 Distro Hits Stable Channel with Support for Windows Shares, More

        4MLinux developer Zbigniew Konojacki informs Softpedia today about the promotion of the 4MLinux 21.0 independently-developed operating system to the stable channel.

      • [Stable Update] 2017-03-06 – Mesa, Xorg-Server, Deepin, Tesseract, Plasma5 [Ed: #Manjaro 17.0 released]

        Some more updated Deepin, Bluez and Haskell packages round-up this update for today. Please test and give us feedback as usual

      • Latest Weekly Build of Black Lab Linux Improves Microsoft Surface Studio Support

        Black Lab Software’s CEO Robert J. Dohnert is informing Softpedia today about the availability of a new weekly snapshot of the Ubuntu-based Black Lab Linux operating system.

        At the end of February, we informed you that Black Lab Software decided to release weekly builds of Black Lab Linux, keeping users up-to-date with the latest GNU/Linux technologies, but also patching security flaws and fixing some of the most annoying bugs.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • The next step towards Mageia 6 is here, announcing sta2

        Everyone at Mageia is delighted to announce the release of our latest development milestone, our second stabilisation snapshot (sta2). We are now one step closer to the release of Mageia 6!

      • A New Development Build Of Mageia 6 Emerges

        Mageia 6 is running months behind schedule while today the project was able to announce their second stabilization snapshot.

        Mageia 6 STA2 is now available as the second stabilization snapshot for this Mandriva-derived Linux distribution. This new release incorporates eight months worth of bug fixes and polishing. Mageia 6 STA2 also now provides Xfce live ISO images.

      • The Road to Mageia 6 Linux Continues, Second Development Build Adds New Updates

        It’s been a little over eight months since the upcoming Mageia 6 Linux operating system got its first development build, and a new one is now available for early adopters and public testers with some of the latest GNU/Linux technologies and applications.

        Before we delve into the new updates of the Mageia 6 Sta2 release, we’d like to tell you the big news. Starting with this development build, you can now download a 32-bit variant of the OS with the lightweight Xfce desktop environment if you want to install Mageia 6 on computers from 10 years ago.

      • ROSA Fresh R8.1 release updated.

        Here we are happy to present the next correcting release of ROSA Fresh R8 platform by launching updated ROSA Fresh R8.1 version.

        This ROSA Fresh R8.1 release is primary purposed for users who need stable LTS platform on modern hardware.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Release Notes for siduction 2017.1.0

          Today we are proud to release siduction 2017.1.0 with the flavours KDE, LXQt, GNOME, Cinnamon, MATE, XFCE, LXDE, Xorg and noX. The fact that Debian is in deep freeze for Debian 9 »Stretch« allows us to release the whole stack. As I posted before not too long ago, we planned the release before going to CLT-Conference on 11./12. of March, and voila – here it is.

          The released images are a snapshot of Debian unstable, that also goes by the name of Sid, from 2017-05-03. They are enhanced with some useful packages and scripts, a brand new installer and a custom patched version of the linux-kernel 4.10, accompanied by X-Server 1.19.2-1 and systemd 232-19.

        • Debian-Based siduction 2017.1.0 OS Gets Linux Kernel 4.10, Drops 32-bit Support

          To kick off the new year, the developers of the Debian-based siduction GNU/Linux distribution have announced the release and immediate availability of version 2017.1.0.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Releases Snapd 2.23 Snappy Daemon with GalliumOS & Linux Mint Support

            Michael Vogt from Canonical’s Snappy team was pleased to announce the immediate availability of version 2.23 of the Snapd daemon that provides support for Snap packages in Ubuntu and other GNU/Linux distributions that have adopted Snappy.

            Snapd 2.23 is supposed to be a major release, and we can’t help but notice that there are quite some new features implemented, starting with support for GalliumOS, a fast and lightweight GNU/Linux distribution designed for Chromebooks, as well as the new Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” operating system, which is based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Automotive supply chain and Open Source: a personal view

    The automotive industry has treated software like any other component, as part of the traditional, well structured and highly controlled supply chain. Tier-1′s has been providing software to car auto-makers for some years now and both together have done what they have could to prevent consumers or downstream players in the supply chain from manipulating it, improving it, customising it nor from adapting it. It didn’t matter if the software was Open Source or not, they have treated it as if it was proprietary, promoting locked-in practices. Only very few stakeholders with the right kind of agreement could manipulate it in a very limited way. Consumers and third parties didn’t have a say.


    I do not believe automakers will be able to achieve that same level of control being only a Open Source consumers in a connected world, by restricting access to your platform to anybody but those who are part of your supply chain. not even if they become Open Source contributors. And no, the Android model does not apply to a single hardware (car) vendor.

    I am obviously no guru so take all this as nothing but a personal opinion from an Open Source geek. But if you think it is feasable for an automaker to achive similar levels of control with Open Source based platforms than Google or Apple has over their ecosystems in the mobile industry, I think you are at least as crazy as you claim I am.

  • UK GDS: ‘Give IT staff time to work on open source’

    Public administrations that want to maintain open source software solutions should give their IT staff time to work on these and other open source projects, recommends Anna Shipman, the Open Source Lead at the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS). Developers can then apply patches, look at outstanding issues, or deal with pull requests, all tasks that “don’t necessarily fit in the schedule of work you have for your team”, said Shipman, speaking at the GOTO conference in Berlin last November.

  • 9 Reasons to Contribute to an Open Source Project

    More individuals and organizations than ever before are contributing to open source projects. According to the Black Duck 10th Annual Future of Open Source Survey, “65 percent of companies are contributing to open source projects, up from 63 percent in 2015.” In addition, 67 percent of enterprises actively encourage their staff to work on open source projects.

    Similarly, the most recent report on Who Writes Linux found that 5,062 developers had contributed to the open source operating system in the past 15 months, and since 2005, 13,594 developers have written code for the project.

  • Tax Your Brain: Open Source Takes on Government Black Box Economics

    Thanks to the Open Source Policy Center, however, the citizens of this great nation may now get a glimpse into the data, and the methods used to derive and analyze that data, that drive public policy and the creation of new laws. In short, this DC-based nonprofit organization seeks to let a little open source sunshine into the black box of government data modeling. Part of the American Enterprise Institute, the OPSC launched in April 2016 with the mission of making public policy analysis transparent, or at least a bit more accessible.

  • Why open source is like a team sport

    As director for Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) — a role she alternatively describes as coach, nerd matchmaker and diplomat — she oversees and provides guidance for all aspects of the project, from technology to community and marketing. At the recent Linux Foundation Open Source Leadership Summit, she headed up a session titled “Open Source as a Team Sport” with and OPNFV’s Chris Price and OpenStack’s Jonathan Bryce.

  • Open Source Solutions for Your Automotive Projects and Prototypes

    The Macchina M2 board was announced on February 21st as the newest addition the Arduino’s AtHeart program, an initiative for companies and organizations to use the Arduino platform for their products. The Macchina M2 allows the user to read their vehicle’s electronic signals and reverse engineer them.

    Embedded systems are now an essential part of the modern car, and the Macchina M2′s aim is to allow users to do more than play with the mechanics; the device will let the user get down into the software and electronics. Not only is this sort of access invaluable for tuning and diagnostics, but it opens up a wide range of possibilities for projects or products through customization and prototyping.


    AGL is an open-source project which focuses on utilizing the Linux kernel to develop open-source software for automotives. Currently, it can be used for development of in-vehicle-infotainment systems, but there are plans to continue developing it for use with telematics and instrument clusters. The project strives to provide a way for developers, hobbyists, and entrepreneurs to take advantage of onboard electronics and create better software.

  • How to make release notes count
  • Events

    • The OpenStack Summit is returning to Vancouver in May 2018

      Back by popular demand, the OpenStack Summit is returning to Vancouver, Canada from May 21-24, 2018. Registration, sponsorship opportunities and more information for the 17th OpenStack Summit will be available in the upcoming months.

    • Flatpak at SCaLE 15x

      A decade ago I lived on the west side of Los Angeles. One of my favorite conferences was Southern California Linux Expo. Much like Karen, this is the conference where I performed my first technical talk. It’s also where I met and became friends with great people like Jono, Ted, Jeff, the fantastic organizing staff, and so many more.

    • foss-north 2017: Call for Papers

      The Call for Papers for foss-north is open for another week (until the 12th). This gives you an opportunity to speak in front of a great crowd. Looking at the results from last year’s questionnaire, more than 90% are users of open source software and more than 50% are contributors. One thing that surprised me, is that more people actually contribute as a part of their profession than as hobbyists. Looking at the professional vs hobbyist proportions, 45% of the visitors stated that they had their ticket paid by their employer/school, while 42% paid them out of their own pocket.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Speed of GNU/Linux Web Browsers

        The reason I gave up on Chrome was that it got a big share of its speed by preloading pages.

      • Which is the fastest web browser for Linux PC/laptops

        Web browsers are one the most important constituents of any computer in today’s world. Without web browser, there can be no Internet and surfing. So which web browser is most popular among Linux users. According to a survey done by LinuxQuestions, Mozilla’s Firefox was all time favorite among Linux users with nearly a 51.7 percent of them using Firefox. Google’s Chrome came in second with a mere 15.67 percent. The rest of the vote being divided between a multitude of obscure browsers.mostly in single percentages.

      • Linux: Is Chrome the fastest web browser?

        Linux offers a great range of choices when it comes to web browsers, there really is a browser out there for everybody. But which Linux browser is the fastest?

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 52.0 Released as ESR Branch, Will Receive Security Updates Until 2018

        Back in January, we told you that the development of the Mozilla Firefox 52.0 kicked off with the first Beta release and promised to let users send and open tabs from one device to another, among numerous other improvements and new features.

        Nine Beta builds later, Mozilla has pushed today, March 7, 2016, the final binary and source packages of the Mozilla Firefox 52.0 web browser for all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux, macOS, and Windows. The good news is that Firefox 52 is an ESR (Extended Support Release) branch that will be supported until March-April 2018.

      • Mozilla Statement on Immigration Executive Order

        These restrictions are significant and have created a negative impact to Mozilla and our operations, especially as a mission-based organization and global community with international scope and influence over the health of the internet.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Databases

    • ‘Baby, I know your database needs upgrades tonight’

      And now, here’s MongoDB’s effort. Yep, that’s MongoDB as in the company that ships its wares in less-than-optimally-secured configurations and therefore keeps finding itself at the centre of incidents like enabling the leak of data that kids generate when talking to their Bluetooth teddy bears.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice


    • A WebAssembly Back-End For The GNU Toolchain

      The WebAssembly efforts so far have been centered around making use of the LLVM compiler infrastructure, but now there are patches for providing partial WASM support atop the GNU toolchain.

    • GNU Binutils 2.28 Released, Adds RISC-V Support

      Binutils 2.28 brings new options (–remove-relocations=SECTIONPATTERN and nm –with-version-strings), improvements to the ARC and PowerPC ports, Gas adds support for the RISC-V architecture, Gas also now supports the Cortex-M23 and Cortex-M33 processors, and GNU ld also adds RISC-V support, and other new options. The RISC-V architecture support was also recently merged for the GCC 7 compiler stack.

    • FSF Certifies Three More Devices For Respecting Your Freedom

      The Free Software Foundation has announced three more devices that are certified for “respects your freedom” (RYF), including a laptop, motherboard, and USB sound adapter. But don’t get too excited quite yet.

      The devices certified are from Vikings GmbH and include their D16 motherboard, X200 laptop, and a USB stereo sound adapter. Their D16 motherboard is flashed to run Coreboot/Libreboot but it’s not the first time this board has seen such treatment or even been certified… This board is the ASUS KGPE-D16 that is quite common in Libreboot/Coreboot circles for being an AMD Opteron board that can still be purchased through retail channels and plays nicely with a free software stack.

    • Three devices from Vikings GmbH now FSF-certified to respect your freedom

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today awarded Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification to three devices from Vikings GmbH: the Vikings D16 Mainboard, the Vikings X200 libre-friendly laptop, and the Vikings USB Stereo Sound Adapter. The RYF certification mark means that the product meets the FSF’s standards in regard to users’ freedom, control over the product, and privacy.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Munich might still stick to Linux agreement

      The poster child for the use of Linux by government authorities, the City of Munich, might stick to its commitment to the operating system after all.

      There had been ructions in Munich over whether its move to Linux had been such a good idea and if it had saved as much as it thought it had.

      Most media have reported that a final call was made to halt the LiMux and switch back to Microsoft software, but the Free Software Foundation Europe says this is fake news.

    • Greenland’s public records system will be open source

      Greenland’s next generation public records system is being built as open source. Last autumn, a contract was awarded to Denmark’s Magenta, an open source IT specialist, the company announced in January.

    • EU Catalogue of ICT Standards: draft contents and consultation launched

      The European Commission is happy to launch a public consultation to improve the draft contents of the Catalogue. At this stage, the consultation aims at collecting feedback on the contents, and at receiving advices on possible catalogue structure improvements.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • ISA² reveals Sharing & Reuse Awards shortlist

      The European Commission has published a list of 17 digital government projects that are shortlisted for its ‘Sharing and Reuse Award’. Of these projects, 8 will win a total of EUR 100,000. The winners will be announced at the Sharing & Reuse Conference in Lisbon (Portugal) on 29 March.

    • Open Data

      • City of Malaga shares open data portal extensions

        The city of Malaga (Spain) has announced that it is making available several extensions that it developed for the town’s open data portal, which is based on CKAN. The extensions include one to create a corporate look and feel, a contact-module, and another that makes it easy for the CKAN portal to be federated to Spain’s central open data portal.

  • Programming/Development

    • IBM adds new API to quantum computing cloud service

      IBM announced today that it was updating its Quantum Experience cloud with a new API that it hopes will increase the abilities of researchers and other interested parties to build more sophisticated applications with its experimental quantum computing system.

    • IBM Expands Quantum Computing Efforts

      IBM is moving forward in its effort to enable the era of quantum computing, with a new Application Program Interface (API) that gives developers the ability to build quantum programs that could interface with current computing systems, via the IBM cloud.


      As such, the actual quantum hardware is not physically managed using IBM’s cloud technologies. In a cloud model, systems are set up as multi-tenant environments with many different services and applications running concurrently.

    • Top 20 Most Popular Programming Languages in 2017

      The software engineering craft has been steadily growing in popularity for the past couple of decades. The innovations in technological startups and companies depending on digital sales, along with groundbreaking research in AI and the latest developments in Internet of things, are promising for technical professionals considering long-term opportunities in the software development industry.

    • C++17 Is Near, A Look At The New Features

      Reports out over the weekend indicate that C++17 is “done” as the next version of the C++ ISO standard.

      While no official announcements have been made yet about the state of C++17, previous communications have signaled that C++17 should be considered technically complete by the time of the ACCU conference happening at the end of April.

    • Zapcc 1.0 Compiler Announced

      Several times in the past we have covered Zapcc as an LLVM Clang based compiler focused on very fast compilation speeds. Zapcc 1.0 has been released today.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • W3C Completes Bridge between HTML/Micro-fomats and Semantic Web

      The World Wide Web Consortium completed an important link between Semantic Web and microformats communities. With ‘Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Languages’, or GRDDL (pronounced “griddle”), software can automatically extract information from structured Web pages to make it part of the Semantic Web. Those accustomed to expressing structured data with microformats in XHTML can thus increase the value of their existing data by porting it to the Semantic Web, at very low cost.


  • True confessions of IRC mishaps

    Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a scary tool for those who have never used it. There are all these weird commands that are completely new and aren’t intuitive. Luckily, everyone faces the same struggles when they get started. Yes, folks; even cores, Project Team Leads (PTLs) and your favorite community members have made––and continue to make––IRC mistakes.

  • Science

    • Christopher Allan Webber: CRISPR drive as a Thompson hack?

      I listened to this episode of Radiolab on CRISPR last night (great episode, everyone should listen), and I couldn’t stop thinking about this part discussed at the end of the episode about a CRISPR gene drive… the idea is, you might want to replace some gene in a population, so you might use CRISPR to edit the gene of a single parent. Then that parent might reproduce, and there’s a chance that its child might have it in the population. Natural selection whether it stays or not… it could, very well, peter out of a population.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Despite Federal Law, Some Rural Hospitals Still Turn Away Women in Labor

      The young woman’s water broke late one morning in August 2014, as she stood in the bathroom of her home in rural Kentucky.

      Her mother rushed her to the emergency room at Jewish Hospital Shelbyville. She signed a slip at the front desk, listing her chief complaint as “labor.”

      But Jewish Hospital had closed its obstetrics department eight years earlier. “We don’t deliver babies here,” the nurse told the woman over the phone, not realizing that she was calling from inside the emergency room, a government inspection found.

    • First Access To Vaccines Index Published

      An “Access to Vaccines Index” was released today in the Netherlands that claims to “reveal the first landscape of vaccine company actions to improve immunisation coverage.”

      The index “finds a high level of diversity in how vaccine companies are improving access to vaccines for people living in poorer countries. This diversity is generally linked to the size of their portfolios and pipelines,” according to the report website.

      The new report was published by the Access to Medicine Foundation, which is known for its Access to Medicines Index ranking companies on their performance.

  • Security

    • Arbitrary code execution in TeX distributions

      Many out there use TeX or one of its distributions like TeX Live, LaTex, MiKTeX or teTeX. Sharing TeX files between authors is common, and often conference organizers, journal editors or university institutions offer TeX templates for papers and diploma theses. So what if a TeX file can take over your computer?

    • The working dead: The security risks of outdated Linux kernels [Ed: IDG says that running old and unpatched Linux kernel is not a good idea, like that wasn't obvious.]

      Linux kernel security vulnerabilities are often in the headlines. Recently it was revealed a serious kernel vulnerability remained undiscovered for over a decade. But, what does this mean in a practical sense? Why is security of the Linux kernel important? And, what effects do vulnerabilities have on older or obsolete kernels that are persistent in many devices?

    • Security firm issues patch for Windows zero-day

      A security firm has released a patch for a remotely exploitable vulnerability in Windows that Microsoft is expected to patch on 14 March.

      0patch team member Luka Treiber said this was the first time the company had issued code to fix a zero-day exploit.

      He has provided a detailed rundown of his methodology on the firm’s website.

      Anyone wishing to use the patch has to download 0patch’s patching agent and the obtain the code.

    • Third-Party Vendor Issues Temporary Patch for Windows GDI Vulnerability [Ed: Microsoft is so negligent when it comes to patching that some random companies out there attempt to patch binaries]

      A vulnerability discovered by Google Project Zero security researchers and left without a patch by Microsoft received a temporary fix from third-party security vendor ACROS Security.

      The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2017-0038, is a bug in Windows GDI (Graphics Device Interface), a library that Windows uses to process graphics and formatted text, for both the video display and when sending data to local printers.

      According to Google researchers, attackers could leverage malformed EMF files to expose data found in the victim’s memory, which can then be leveraged to bypass ASLR protection and execute code on the user’s computer.

    • WordPress 4.7.3 Security and Maintenance Release

      WordPress 4.7.3 is now available. This is a security release for all previous versions and we strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately.

    • Important Linux Kernel Security Patch Released for CentOS 7, Update Now

      An important Linux kernel security patch has been released today, March 6, 2017, for users of the CentOS 7 operating system series, addressing a total of four vulnerabilities discovered recently.

    • HackerOne opens up bug bounties to open source

      HackerOne is bringing bug hunting and software testing to open source developers to help make open source software more secure and safer to use.

      A lot of modern tools and technologies depend on open source software, so a security flaw can wind up having a widespread impact — the Heartbleed flaw in OpenSSL, for example. Many open source projects still rely on the “thousand eyes” concept when it comes to software security — that anyone being able to see the source code means defects are found and fixed faster. While it’s true to some extent, it doesn’t apply if no one is actually looking at the code, as we’ve learned repeatedly over the past few years.

    • HackerOne Offers Free Bounty Programs for Open Source
    • HackerOne Offers Free Service For Open Source Projects
    • HackerOne sets hackers on open source projects to improve internet security
    • Cloudbleed Bug Impacts Large Swath of the Internet
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Google Engineers Patch Java Bug in 2,600 Open Source Projects

      Today’s topics include a Google volunteer team patching thousands of open-source projects, Google’s progress on teaching computers to diagnose cancer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s decision to realign its technical services unit and Symantec’s tool that helps users identify Cloudbleed risks.

      A Google security researcher last week offered the first details on an effort by a 50-member volunteer team at the company last year to help patch more than 2,600 open-source projects against a critical vulnerability in a widely used Java process.

      The demonstration prompted vulnerability disclosures from multiple vendors, including Oracle, IBM and Cisco, and led many security researchers to estimate that millions of applications—commercially developed, custom-built and open source—were susceptible to the issue.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Bomb Threats to Jewish Community Centers and Organizations

      Since Jan. 1, at least 91 locations of Jewish organizations in the United States — including schools, Jewish Community Centers, and offices of the Anti-Defamation League — have received a total of 116 bomb threats. The majority have come in five of what the JCC Association of North America calls “waves” — groups of robocalls coming on a single day. So far, none of the threats have been carried out.

    • I Cover Hate. I Didn’t Expect It at My Family’s Jewish Cemetery.

      When it comes to death, my family honors all of the Ashkenazi Jewish traditions: We name our children after dead relatives, we sit shiva for a week, we gather around trays of fruit and lox and cream cheese, we cover the mirrors, we say the Kaddish prayer, we each toss three shovelfuls of dirt into the grave, and we wait a year to put a stone on top of it. When I got my driver’s license at 16, my mom asked me not to sign the organ donor card because Jews are supposed to be laid to rest in one piece. When I turned 18 and signed it anyway, I couldn’t stop imagining her face when she found out after I’d died in a car accident.

      But traditions don’t protect you from death, or the life of anxiety in preparation for it. When I told my grandmother — her mother called her Malka, her sisters called her Mollie — that I had an opportunity to teach English abroad, I knew what to expect in response: “That’s nice, baby, but why don’t you find a teaching job around here where it’s safe?” That, and a $20 bill she couldn’t necessarily afford to give.

    • Nigeria rejected British offer to rescue seized Chibok schoolgirls

      British armed forces offered to attempt to rescue nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, but were rebuffed by Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s president at the time, the Observer has learned.

      In a mission named Operation Turus, the RAF conducted air reconnaissance over northern Nigeria for several months, following the kidnapping of 276 girls from the town of Chibok in April 2014. “The girls were located in the first few weeks of the RAF mission,” a source involved in Operation Turus told the Observer. “We offered to rescue them, but the Nigerian government declined.”

    • Man shot dead in car in Malmö

      One man was killed and another seriously injured in a shooting incident in Malmö on Saturday night.

      Police sources told news agency TT that no suspect has yet been arrested.

      Police received several reports at around 10pm on Saturday of a suspected shooting on Malmö’s Kronetorpsgatan. An injured man was found by police in a car on arrival at the scene and first aid was attempted.

      A second injured man was found in a nearby apartment. Both men were taken to hospital.

    • Donald Trump’s new NSA’s lessons from Vietnam War

      The appointment of lieutenant general H.R. McMaster as national security adviser (NSA) to Donald Trump has been widely welcomed. In the wake of Michael Flynn’s resignation, McMaster is seen as an ideal candidate to introduce a modicum of order and structure in Trump’s national security council (NSC). He is not the first serving military officer to be inducted as NSA for these purposes. Few seem to recall the deeply dysfunctional NSC under Ronald Reagan. No fewer than six NSAs passed through the White House during Reagan’s eight years in office. The most notorious of these was the first serving officer to be appointed as NSA: rear admiral John Poindexter.


      When McMaster was commissioned into the US army in 1984, the disastrous experience of the Vietnam War was a haunting, if unspoken, presence. The most popular analysis in the military was the one offered by colonel Harry Summers in his book, On Strategy: A Critical Analysis Of The Vietnam War. Contrary to its subtitle, the book was an attempt at soothing the nerves of the military. Summers implausibly argued that the US had been fighting the wrong war: They were waging a counter-insurgency campaign in South Vietnam instead of fighting a conventional war against the North.

    • North Korea fires four missiles three of which land in Japanese territory

      Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Sunday, with three landing in his country’s exclusive economic zone.

      REUTERS: US stock index futures fell on Sunday amid news of North Korea’s firing of four ballistic missiles and President Donald Trump’s accusation that his predecessor, Barack Obama, wiretapped him.

      North Korea has launched the missile at the same time as South Korea and the US organise joint military exercises to prepare for conflict.

    • Trump May Choose “Alternative Intelligence” to Support His “Alternative Facts,” Former Agents Warn

      A former CIA analyst assigned to work on the Bush administration’s attempt to link Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda is warning that the Trump’s administration may be adopting the same model of “alternative intelligence” that led to the Iraq war. “They weighed false information. They also took raw reports and cherry-picked those from sources that we didn’t deem reliable, and gave those to the president,” said Nada Bakos, who worked at the CIA from 2000-2010, in an interview with Jeremy Scahill.

    • A Path Forward on North Korea

      Mainstream U.S. media depicts North Korean Kim Jong-Un as crazy and his country as an insane asylum, but there is logic in their fear of “regime change,” a fear that only negotiations can address, says ex-U.S. diplomat Ann Wright.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • In the US, added wildfires due to carelessness, not just climate change

      The United States spends billions of dollars every year fighting wildfires. A recent paper published in PNAS finds that human-started conflagrations account for 84 percent of all wildfires in the US in recent years. These human-started wildfires have tripled the length of the annual fire season, and have dominated a geographic area that is seven times larger than the region affected by lightning-started fires. Overall, human-started fires were responsible for nearly half of all the land that was burned over the two-decade period of study.

      The study analyzes wildfire data from 1992 to 2012, focusing only on wildfires that needed an agency response to manage or suppress, and were a threat to ecosystems or infrastructure. The fire data came from the publicly available US Forest Service Fire Program Database, which includes US federal, state, and local records for both public and private lands. Some fires are burns set intentionally for agricultural purposes, but the researchers excluded these. They also excluded fires with an unknown cause, and only concentrated on fires that were started either by humans or by lightning.

    • Global Warming’s Threat to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

      There’s another reason – besides escaping the rising rancor of Washington – that it made sense for President Trump to hop on Air Force One and visit his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, three times during his first five weeks in office: he needs to enjoy it while he can. If global warming continues apace, in just 30 years, its ritzy grounds will be flooded most of the year due to rising sea levels, according to an analysis by Coastal Risk Consulting.

  • Finance

    • Gove calls on May to guarantee EU citizens right to remain in UK

      Michael Gove and other Tory Brexit campaigners on Sunday called on Theresa May to unilaterally guarantee the rights of 3.2 million EU citizens to remain in the UK, as they back a parliamentary report that brands the government policy as “unacceptable”.

      Gove is one of several pro-Brexit Tories on the all-party select committee on exiting the EU who say that May’s approach is causing great “anxiety” and “uncertainty” to people who work hard in the UK, pay their taxes and deserve immediate reassurance about their futures.

      The committee says, in a report published on Sunday, that EU citizens should not be used as “bargaining chips” in negotiations over Brexit.

    • Trump Said He Made $21 Million in Income From His New York Contracts. He Actually Made a Lot Less.

      When he was running for president last May, Donald Trump released 104 pages of details about his finances, including a claim that he earned nearly $21 million through contracts with New York City to run two skating rinks in Central Park and a Bronx golf course.

    • MPs take 13 minutes to double Royal family income and approve £360m Buckingham Palace refurbishment

      A tiny, temporary committee of MPs set up explicitly to consider doubling the publicly funded income of the Royal Family took thirteen minutes to decide that, yes, the Royal Family should indeed have its income doubled.

      The “Seventh Dedicated Legislation Committee” was only established to consider raising the so-called ‘Sovereign Grant’ from 15 per cent to 25 per cent of the Crown Estates income, in order to fund the estimated £360m upgrade to Buckingham Palace, and now it has done so, it will be disbanded.

    • China’s Communist billionaires accused of getting richer, faster, while GDP slows

      An elite group of Communist billionaires whose combined worth is near $700 billion are being accused of holding China back as they profit from bloated state enterprises.

      Findings released by Shanghai-based Hurun Report have shown that top-ranking members of the National People’s Congress (NPC) are still enriching themselves at a greater rate than ever before.

      It reported that 100 members of the NPC were billionaires, with a combined wealth of nearly $700 billion — about the GDP of Belgium.

      “State-owned companies lack vitality, but the leaders keep them open because they belong to them, they own them,” respected government critic and historian Zhang Lifan told AM.

    • Why China’s mixing of regulation and politics is a recipe for financial disaster

      What makes a successful company? If you are a customer, a successful business is one that sells you goods or services that you want at a price you can afford. If you are an employee, a good company offers a stimulating workplace that pays you well. If you are a shareholder, it delivers you handsome returns through capital gains or solid dividends. And if you are an economist, a successful company is one with a return on capital that comfortably exceeds its capital cost.

      To all these definitions, add another. If you are a mainland Chinese regulator, a successful company is one that focuses first and foremost on “party building”.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Four Stories You Can Write About Trump

      It is nearly-impossible to write anything that purports to be objective about Trump. No one wants to read it. Instead, there are only four basic stories you can do.

    • Republican Senator Sends Cease-and-Desist Letter to Constituent for Calling Too Much

      Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson has been avoiding his constituents lately. Last week, a group of constituents even held a town hall about health care without him, after he declined to attend. (He held a telephone town hall instead).

      Now one of Johnson’s constituents has received a cease-and-desist letter from the senator’s office, demanding that he stop calling the senator and stop trying to meet with his staff. The letter to Earl Good of Milwaukee instructs him to only contact the office in writing from now on.

      Good is a Vietnam veteran and attentive constituent who, in an interview with his local CBS station, acknowledged that he has been very persistent in his attempts to get through to the office and talk to the senator’s staff about issues that concern him, including the possible privatization of the Veterans Administration.

    • Palantir Provides the Engine for Donald Trump’s Deportation Machine

      Immigration and Customs Enforcement is deploying a new intelligence system called Investigative Case Management (ICM), created by Palantir Technologies, that will assist in President Donald Trump’s efforts to deport millions of immigrants from the United States.

      In 2014, ICE awarded Palantir, the $20 billion data-mining firm founded by billionaire Trump advisor Peter Thiel, a $41 million contract to build and maintain ICM, according to government funding records. The system is scheduled to arrive at “final operating capacity” by September of this year. The documents identify Palantir’s ICM as “mission critical” to ICE, meaning that the agency will not be able to properly function without the program.

    • Trump wire tap: FBI chief Comey ‘rejects’ allegation

      FBI director James Comey has rejected President Donald Trump’s claim on Saturday that his predecessor, Barack Obama, tapped his phone, US media say.

      Mr Comey reportedly asked the US justice department to reject the allegation Mr Obama ordered a wiretap during last year’s election campaign.

      He is said to have asked for the correction because it falsely insinuates that the FBI broke the law.

      The development was reported by the New York Times and confirmed by NBC.

      The justice department did not issue any immediate statement in response to Mr Comey’s reported request.

      US media quoted officials as saying that Mr Comey believed there was no evidence to support Mr Trump’s allegation.

    • With No Disclosure, Comcast-Owned Vox Runs Commercial for Comcast’s $500M Snapchat Investment

      It appears the standard for disclosure—such as there is—is whether Vox Media is writing explicitly about Vox Media, not when it’s writing about the corporations that own most of Vox Media. Though this standard seems to shift as well: After getting pushback in 2015 for writing a fawning defense of Comcast with no disclosure (FAIR.org, 9/9/15), Vox did ultimately add one.

      When asked in December 2016 what its disclosure policy was, Vox managing editor Lauren Williams told FAIR, “That’s something we’ve been thinking about, and we plan to post one in the new year.”

      A follow-up email Saturday asking if that disclosure policy had been drafted yet has not been answered as of publication. If it is, we will update accordingly.

    • How the Trump Administration May Be Skirting Its Own Ethics Rules

      The Trump administration appears to be either ignoring or exempting top staffers from its own watered-down ethics rules.

      As we have detailed, President Trump in January issued an order weakening Obama-era ethics policies, allowing lobbyists to work at agencies they had sought to influence. The Trump order did limit what lobbyists could do once they entered government, banning them from directly handling issues on which they had lobbied.

      But the administration may not be even following that.

    • White House Power Player Jared Kushner Is Keeping Parts of His Real Estate Empire

      Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and the heir to a family real estate empire, has emerged as perhaps Donald Trump’s closest adviser. A near constant presence by Trump’s side, his portfolio includes business, tax, political, and foreign policy matters.

      Last month his lawyers outlined a plan under which they said Kushner would avoid any possibility that his White House work would overlap with his business interests.

      The plan didn’t have much detail. But newly released documents and statements from the White House are making the picture clearer: Kushner is keeping parts of his family business.

      Kushner retains some real-estate holdings associated with Kushner Companies, a White House spokesperson said in an email.

    • PR-Stupid JetSmarter Will Charge Journalists $2000 If They Don’t Write Positive Reviews

      Uber, but for private jets. That’s JetSmarter’s pitch. But just as Uber has engaged in some questionable behavior in its quest for marketshare, so has JetSmarter. You won’t be able to find many negative reviews of the service because any journalist taking a test flight without delivering a puff piece is going to see their bank account take a hit.

      The Verge received this highly-questionable offer to “review” JetSmarter.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Fortinet hires NSA veteran as company’s first CISO
    • Yahoo News Now: Former head of the NSA Michael Hayden on Trump’s wiretapping accusations

      On Monday, March 6, 2017, former director of the National Security Agency, Michael Hayden talks with Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga regarding President Trump’s accusations that the Obama administration tapped his phones during the 2016 campaign.

    • NSA whistleblower shows how candidate Trump could have been wiretapped
    • BONOKOSKI: Maybe Donald Trump was wiretapped after all
    • NSA Whistleblower: Spy Agencies Eavesdrop On Americans Without Warrants All The Time
    • NSA Whistleblower Binney: Trump No Exception to Surveillance State
    • US spies have ‘considerable intelligence’ on high-level Trump-Russia talks, claims ex-NSA analyst [Ed: When Russia-shaming is so desirable to the Establishment press even dick pic "John Schindler" is a source]
    • Ex-NSA analyst: Intel community thinks Trump’s wiretapping paranoia about Obama is a ‘kooky fantasy’ [Ed: When trump-shaming is so desirable to the Establishment press even dick pic "John Schindler" is a source]
    • Trump Wiretap Claims: Do NSA Powers Extend All The Way to the White House?

      US President Donald Trump has accused his predecessor, President Barack Obama, of tapping the former’s phones over the 2016 presidential election period. Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear speaks with NSA whistleblower William Binney about whether Trump’s accusations have merit, and the capabilities of America’s surveillance state.

    • If anyone bugged Trump Tower, here’s the shadowy court to OK it
    • White House wants spy law renewed, but won’t say how many Americans it spies on
    • Trump Administration Wants A Clean Reauthorization For NSA Surveillance

      Section 702 has dodged reform efforts, thanks in part to the intelligence community’s unwillingness to discuss anything about it. Repeated requests by representatives for the NSA to come up with an estimate of how many US persons’ communications are swept up “inadvertently” have been met with shrugs and stalling. Five years after he was first asked, James Clapper promised to have something put together “soon.” We’re still waiting.

      Not helping the matter is the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s evaluation of the program. After finding the Section 215 phone metadata program both useless and illegal, it had very little to say about the NSA’s internet backbone dragnet. The best it could offer was that it was likely legal and any collection of US persons’ communications was probably “inadvertent.” It agreed the massive collection program ran right up against the edges of the Fourth Amendment, but didn’t cross it — at least as far as it was willing to examine.

    • Another Hatchet Job on Snowden

      In depicting National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden as a Russian spy, author Edward Jay Epstein acknowledges his debt to the CIA’s famously paranoid counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, who specialized in counterintuitive thinking that surely smeared more honest CIA officers than it snared actual spies.


      But Angleton, like other counterintelligence sleuths, assumed the carte-blanche right to smother a slender fact with weighty assumptions and then weave upon them a hefty garment of allegations, speculation and imagination fitting with the occupational predisposition to detect a spy.

      Over the decades, it’s conceivable that this “methodology” may have caught a spy or two (although Angleton is perhaps best known for missing the notorious Soviet spy Kim Philby). But creating a counterfactual, evidence-free scenario seems an irresponsible way to write about Edward Snowden, a whistleblower responsible for the most consequential intelligence leak in U.S. history.

    • NY City Council Measure Would Require Transparency for NYPD Electronic Surveillance

      Two members of the New York City Council introduced a bill on Wednesday, March 1 to enact long overdue transparency rules for the NYPD’s procurement and deployment of electronic surveillance technology. It is the latest in a series of similar proposals around the country modeled on a Silicon Valley law adopted in 2016, which was crafted to impose municipal checks and balances to constrain on executive power and address the metastasis of surveillance.

      The Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act, introduced by councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Vanessa Gibson, would require important disclosures by the NYPD before it buys electronic surveillance gear. It would also require an opportunity for public comment on its proposed use policies.

    • Trump’s Director of National Intelligence Pick Is on the Wrong Side of Surveillance

      President Donald Trump’s pick for Director of National Intelligence has laid out his vision for the country’s surveillance, and it’s not good for technology users.

      In his confirmation in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, former-Sen. Dan Coats, a Republican from Indiana, said there need to be continued conversations about legal authorities to undermine encryption and called reauthorizing an authority that the government uses to spy on Americans’ Internet activities without a warrant his “top legislative priority.”

    • California Supreme Court Rules Public Records Act Covers Government Communications on Private Email and Personal Devices

      In a major victory for transparency, the California Supreme Court ruled today that when government officials conduct public business using private email or personal devices, those communications may be subject to disclosure under the California Public Record Acts (CPRA).

    • New FCC Chairman Begins Attacks on Internet Privacy

      Newly minted Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai just granted the telecom industry its wish: he has blocked new requirements that Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast apply common sense security practices to protect your private data. By suspending the FCC’s proposed data security rules for ISPs, Pai is pitting Internet users against the very companies we trust to get us online. And the ISPs will continue to win—unless we fight back.

    • If Trump Tower Was Wiretapped, Trump Can Declassify That Right Now

      If in fact Trump Tower was wiretapped during the 2016 presidential campaign, as President Trump claimed in several tweets Saturday morning, he can do much more than say so on twitter: Presidents have the power to declassify anything at any time, so Trump could immediately make public any government records of such surveillance.

      What Trump is saying seems to be a garbled version of previous reporting by the BBC, among other news outlets.

    • An Illinois Court Just Didn’t Get It: We Are Entitled to Expect Privacy In Our Smart Meter Data, Which Reveals What’s Going On Inside Our Homes

      Cities across the country are switching to wireless smart meters. You may even have one in your home. Utility companies say the new technology helps consumers monitor their energy use and potentially save money. But smart meters also reveals intimate details about what’s going on inside the home. By collecting energy use data at high frequencies—typically every 5, 15, or 30 minutes—smart meters know exactly how much electricity is being used, and when. Patterns in your smart meter data can reveal when you are home, when you are sleeping, when you take a shower, and even whether you cook dinner on the stove or in the microwave. These are all private details about what’s going on inside your home—details that should be clearly within the bounds of Fourth Amendment protection.

      But a federal district court in Illinois has held—in a lawsuit alleging that smart meters installed in Naperville, Illinois, put the privacy of the city’s citizens at risk—that Americans can’t reasonably expect any privacy in the data collected by these devices. According to the court, smart meter data is completely beyond the protection of the Fourth Amendment.

    • Data Brokers: Don’t Let Your Data be Used For Human Rights Abuses

      EFF, Amnesty International, Color of Change, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and our other coalition partners are urging data brokers to take a stand against government surveillance and discrimination based on religion, national origin, and immigration status.

      As explained in a joint statement released today, data brokers collect and analyze huge amounts of personal data that could easily be used to identify and profile and track people in violation of their basic human rights.

    • Consumer Reports to Begin Evaluating Products, Services for Privacy and Data Security

      One day in August 2015, Jared Denman got a frightened phone call at work from his wife, who was home with their 2-year-old daughter. A song was playing through the couple’s baby monitor—the Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” The monitor was the kind that connects to the internet so that parents can see and talk to their baby or caregiver when they’re away from home. The device had been taken over by a malicious hacker, and the song’s lyrics were particularly ominous: “Every game you play, every night you stay, I’ll be watching you.”

    • Announcing A New Open-Source Privacy Standard For The Internet Of Things

      At Consumerist, consumer privacy and data security have been growing areas of coverage over the past few years. We regularly write about policies, corporate and government alike, that either threaten or help safeguard your privacy. We cover data breaches big and small, and investigate tips from you, our readers. We offer advice about good practices that can help protect you and your data, and try to give you a heads-up when a company changes something that might affect you. And when your kid’s doll is recording what you say and sending the information to a defense contractor — Consumerist is there.

    • National Pupil Database event report

      Last weeks highly entertaining talk was full of tales of how the Department of Education misleads on answering questions about it’s plans for pupil data, such as by failing to make clear that the collection of nationality information is entirely optional!

      We learnt of the scale of the problem, with over 20 million kids involved, and anyone under the age of around 36 being on the database too.

    • To keep Tor hack source code secret, DOJ dismisses child porn case

      Rather than share the now-classified technological means that investigators used to locate a child porn suspect, federal prosecutors in Washington state have dropped all charges against a man accused of accessing Playpen, a notorious and now-shuttered website.

      The case, United States v. Jay Michaud, is one of nearly 200 cases nationwide that have raised new questions about the appropriate limitations on the government’s ability to hack criminal suspects. Michaud marks just the second time that prosecutors have asked that case be dismissed.

    • US police agencies with their own DNA databases stir debate

      Dozens of police departments around the U.S. are amassing their own DNA databases to track criminals, a move critics say is a way around regulations governing state and national databases that restrict who can provide genetic samples and how long that information is held.

      The local agencies create the rules for their databases, in some cases allowing samples to be taken from children or from people never arrested for a crime. Police chiefs say having their own collections helps them solve cases faster because they can avoid the backlogs that plague state and federal repositories.

    • F.C.C., in Potential Sign of the Future, Halts New Data Security Rules

      The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday halted new government rules related to data security from taking effect this week, in a potential prelude to a broader repeal of privacy protections for users of high-speed internet.

      After a 2-to-1, party-line vote by the Republican-led commission, Ajit Pai, the chairman, announced that a portion of privacy rules passed in October would be temporarily stayed.

    • A nude photo scandal has shaken the entire Marine Corps

      The U.S. Marine Corps is investigating allegations an unspecified number of military personnel and veterans allegedly distributed nude photos of female colleagues and other women as part of a perverse social media network that promotes sexual violence.

    • The US military is investigating a secret Facebook group that spread naked pictures of service women

      Yesterday, The Center for Investigative Reporting published a report that revealed that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has launched an investigation into hundreds of Marines following the discovery of a secret Facebook group that was used to spread naked pictures of service women.

      The report, authored by Thomas Brennan, founder of a non-profit news organization called The War Horse, revealed that pictures of the service women were shared on a private Facebook group called Marines United, either posted to the site itself, or via links to a Google Drive folder. The group consists of nearly 30,000 members, some of whom posted comments on the images.

    • ePrivacy at the European Parliament : La Quadrature publishes its analysis

      The nomination of Marju Lauristin last Tuesday, MEP of the “Socialists&Democrats” group, as a rapporteur of the ePrivacy regulation on “the respect of privacy and personal data protection in electronic communications” kicks off negotiations at the European Parliament. It is an opportunity for La Quadrature du Net to publish its arguments and recommendations, which it will promote loud and strong during the upcoming months with MEPs of all political sides.


      Yet the battle is far from won. As we said in early January, the Commission’s proposal turns out to be far below what the speeches say, and the attacks from some conservative Members of European Parliament (MEP) against even the usefulness of the text are extremely disquieting.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Arab world’s first ordained female pastor is historic

      Her ordination was “an act of love and justice”, those present at the ceremony heard in the sermon, and her comment to journalists after the ceremony was “Christ’s justice has been finally fulfilled”.

      Rola had shown signs of cautious optimism in 2012 about her ordination: “It is not something that I dream of day and night. Whatever happens, I will not be discouraged.” But she tells me that she never imagined this day would come. She was very (pleasantly) surprised with the result of the Synod’s vote of 23-1 in favor of her ordination.

    • Software engineer detained at JFK, given test to prove he’s an engineer

      Donald Trump’s temporary immigration ban and the ensuing heightened security procedures for travelers from outside the U.S. have caused a great deal of trouble for visitors to the country.

    • Ahok makes it to run-off in Jakarta governor race

      Stakes in the vote have been raised by allegations that Ahok – the city’s first non-Muslim governor for half a century and its first ethnic Chinese leader – insulted the Koran.

      The claims drew hundreds of thousands of conservative Muslims on to the streets of Jakarta in major protests in 2016 but the case has been criticised as unfair and politically motivated.

    • TSA’s Airport Gropedowns To Get More Invasive

      How can they get more invasive — rectal checks, like before you get processed into the prison population? (All without probable cause, under cover of this “administrative search” used to separate us from our constitutional rights.)

    • U.S. Airport Pat-Downs Are About to Get More Invasive

      While few have noticed, U.S. airport security workers long had the option of using five different types of physical pat-downs at the screening line. Now those options have been eliminated and replaced with a single universal approach. This time, you will notice.

      The new physical touching—for those selected to have a pat-down—will be be what the federal agency officially describes as a more “comprehensive” physical screening, according to a Transportation Security Administration spokesman.

      Denver International Airport, for example, notified employees and flight crews on Thursday that the “more rigorous” searches “will be more thorough and may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before.”

    • These Stories Are Very Sad. But Why Should People Who Are Here Illegally Be Allowed To Stay?

      That said, please tell me why illegal immigrants should be allowed to jump the line and stay here — and as a reward for not respecting our laws. The fact that they’ve gotten away with it for a number of years…should that really be the standard for staying?

    • Detroit-Area City Clerk Retires In Anti-Muslim Controversy

      A city official in metro Detroit has retired after being accused of posting anti-Muslim remarks on social media.

      Linda Langmesser retired Friday after more than 25 years as Plymouth city clerk. City Manager Paul Sincock declined further comment. The city had been conducting an internal review.

      Activists had accused Langmesser of writing Muslims “don’t tell the whole truth” in response to a recent story about a Muslim woman who resigned from President Donald Trump’s National Security Council.

    • Hyderabad: 2 Muslim women divorced over WhatsApp by US-based husbands

      Two Muslim women in Hyderabad have been divorced over WhatsApp by their husbands living in the US. The two women have lodged complaint with the police.

    • Did Angela Garcia Kill Her Own Daughters — Or Did Prosecutors Cover Up a Wrongful Conviction?

      Before I left the prison, I asked Garcia what she would do if she were to win her freedom. She joked that she wanted to use a cellphone. But mostly, she said, she wants to take care of her family as they have taken care of her, especially her mother, who is getting older. She’d like to cook for her, make her breakfast in bed. “You know what I really want? I want to lay in bed with my mom and just snuggle with her,” Garcia said. “That’s all I want.”

      Finally, she wants to meet the family of Cameron Todd Willingham, the Texas man wrongly executed for killing his own daughters in a fire. “That’s one of the first things I want to do,” Garcia said. His death was a horrible tragedy, she said. But she was certain it had convinced many people to revisit other arson cases, to help people like her.

      “I want to tell his mother: Your son didn’t die in vain.”

    • TSA Now Making Its Intrusive Searches Even More Gropey & Assaulty

      Got that? I love the way they dance around the fact that this is randomly allowed sexual assault on people who just want to travel somewhere. But it’s described as “physical touching” that is more “comprehensive” and “may involve an officer making more intimate contact.”

    • Former GCHQ spy who claimed warnings were ignored before shooting of WPC Yvonne Fletcher charged with harassing police officer

      A former spy who claimed warnings to “cover the streets with blood” were ignored before WPC Yvonne Fletcher was murdered, has been charged with harassing a police officer.

      Ex-British spy Michael Arnold, 59, was a technology officer at GCHQ when the 25-year-old officer was shot and killed outside the Libyan Embassy in 1984.

      Thirty years after her death, in 2014, Arnold claimed top security bosses failed to act after an order was issued by Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi to “cover the streets of London with blood”.

      Now Arnold, of Worcester, has been arrested by police for allegedly harassing a Midlands-based police officer.

    • Utah Judge Won’t Let The Constitution Get In The Way Of A Little Prior Restraint

      For reasons unknown, a federal judge has said the hell with free speech and steered the court into the First Amendment-troubling waters of prior restraint.

      It’s another defamation lawsuit that doesn’t spend too much time dealing with defamation, preferring to focus on Lanham Act violations and tortious interference. Purple Innovations, maker of a (purple) bed-in-a-box mattress, is suing the Honest Mattress Reviews website, along with Ryan Monahan, former “Chief Brand Officer” for Purple Innovations competitor, Ghostbed, and creator of the site.

  • DRM

    • What’s up at the W3C: further reading for Reply All listeners

      The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is a standards body: they work to create open standards, rules for connecting up the web that anyone can follow, guaranteeing that anyone can make a web browser, web server, or website.

      In 2013, the W3C gave in to pressure from a few entertainment companies and big tech companies to make a new kind of standard: a standard for limiting how people could use the videos that they watched in their browser. These controlling technologies are called “Digital Rights Management” (DRM), and the W3C’s DRM standard is called “Encrypted Media Extensions” (EME).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • A Review Of ‘Standard Essential Patents Within Global Networks – An Emerging Economies Perspective’ By Dieter Ernst [Ed: The problem with "FRAND" is that it's neither fair nor reasonable; it's a patent tax that hurts the powerless]

      Dieter Ernst claims in this study that the FRAND regime remains shackled with transaction costs and that the licensing of SEPs is prone to a host of different market failures associated with information asymmetries, market power and free riding as well as externalities (both positive and negative).

    • Ask Hackaday: How Should Hackers Handle IP Agreements?

      My buddy Harold recently landed a new job at a great technology company. It came at a perfect time for him, having just been laid off from the corporate behemoth where he’d toiled away as an anonymous cog for 19 years. But the day before he was to start, the new company’s HR folks sent him some last-minute documents to sign. One was a broad and vaguely worded non-compete agreement which essentially said he was barred from working in any related industry for a year after leaving the company.

      Harold was tempted not to sign, but eventually relented because one needs to put food on the table. Thankfully he’s now thriving at the new company, but his experience got me thinking about all the complications hackers face with the day jobs that so many of us need to maintain. Non-competes and non-disclosures are bad enough, but there’s one agreement that can really foul things up for a hacker: the Intellectual Property Agreement.

    • U.S. Withdrawal from TPP Impact on Intellectual Property [Ed: This is brainwash for TPP proponents, i.e. very rich people; makes false assertions]

      Recently, President Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an international agreement negotiated among twelve countries including Canada, the United States, Mexico, Peru, and Chile in the Americas; Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Brunei in Asia; and Australia and New Zealand in Oceana. President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the TPP as the fulfillment of one of his major campaign promises.

    • Trademarks

      • Kobe Bryant Files Opposition Over “Black Mamba” Trademark

        Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant’s nickname, the “Black Mamba”, has landed him in a legal battle to defend the right to use the nickname. Bryant and a California based online retail company named 47 / 72 Inc. have filed trademark applications for variations of “Black Mamba.”

        Bryant was drafted directly from high school in 1996 and played in the NBA for 20 years before retiring after last season. Nike declared April 13, 2016, which was the date of Kobe Bryant’s last game, “Mamba Day” because over the course of his career he had been given the nickname the “Black Mamba.”

      • Florida City Sends Bogus Trademark C&D To Blogger Because It Doesn’t Like Its Logo Parodied

        You’d think city lawyers would talk to other lawyers before sending cease-and-desist letters to citizens. Or, at the very least, page through a few pamphlets on intellectual property law before threatening people with legal actions completely unmoored from statutory authority. But if they all did this, what would we write about?

        The city of Tamarac, Florida, is the latest participant in the long-running MMO we call “The Streisand Effect.” Apparently, the city doesn’t like its logo being used by someone who has little respect for the city’s governance. It would presumably approve of its logo being adjacent to more respectful writing, but the lack of legal threats directed at home-teamers makes it difficult to gather test cases.

    • Copyrights

      • Prenda’s John Steele Pleads Guilty, Admits To Basically Everything

        Remember all the bravado behind John Steele and his copyright porn trolling? I’ve noted in the past that Steele reminded me of some guys I knew in college who believed that they were so smart that they could do whatever they wanted, and talk their way out later if they got into trouble. And, for many years, it seemed that Steele was fairly successful in doing exactly that. Remember all his big talk right after Judge Otis Wright referred Steele and his partners to law enforcement over his copyright trolling efforts? At the time, he yelled and screamed about how it was unfair and unprecedented, and insisted loudly that he would prevail.

      • Film Company Launches Fake KickassTorrents to Convert Pirates

        A Costa-Rica based film distributor has launched its very own KickassTorrents look-a-like site with a mission to convert would-be pirates. None of the listed torrents provide pirate copies of the movies in question, but they are worth obtaining as they contain two free tickets to watch the movie in a local theater.

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