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03.19.17

What’s OIN Doing While Microsoft is Siccing Patent Trolls on Azure Competitors’ Customers?

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 9:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Attacks on GNU/Linux and Free/libre software, but OIN cannot do anything about it

Submarine (patents)

Summary: Microsoft’s patent litigation strategy has become clearer, and patents-centric efforts such as OIN offer no defence against such a strategy, which attempts to pressure everyone to flock to Microsoft for ‘protection’ (from Microsoft itself)

SEVERAL readers have sent us this latest article about OIN, which we no longer believe does anything beneficial to Linux, except in name. The USPTO continues to grant software patents (more rarely than before) and OIN plays a role in a group designed to promote software patents, or support their resurgence. Where has OIN been when we needed it? Our readers emphasise that OIN is not effective against trolls and Benjamin Henrion (FFII) recently said that OIN itself had admitted it. So if OIN isn’t trying to stop software patents and isn’t effective against trolls, what good is it anyway? It’s somewhat of a distraction from the real solutions. The latest puff piece for OIN says: “When you think of Linux and open-source companies, the automobile industry is not the first business to spring to mind. But maybe it should be. Daimler, Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), the Linux and open-source non-aggression patent consortium.”

So what?

“Where is OIN now that Microsoft is coercing Linux/Android OEMs into bundling malware, using threats of patent lawsuits?”The piece was possibly initiated by some phonecall and/or a press release from OIN’s CEO (I should know as he phoned me too, in order to garner support). Where has OIN been when Microsoft attacked GNU/Linux? Where is OIN now that Microsoft is coercing Linux/Android OEMs into bundling malware, using threats of patent lawsuits? Microsoft already sued over it, e.g. Microsoft v Samsung.

We kindly remind readers that Microsoft is passing patents, usually in bulk, to trolls, which OIN can do nothing about (by its own admission). Buying patents before these make it into the hands of trolls would not work if the seller is Microsoft or a company intruded by Microsoft, such as Nokia when it sold patents to MOSAID. OIN is absolutely useless in circumstances such as these. Recall our recent article titled "As Long as Software Patents Are Granted and Microsoft Equips Trolls With Them, “Azure IP Advantage” is an Attack on Free/Libre Software" — one among several such articles, posted along with the following articles:

One reader that alerted us about the OIN piece had already found out a curious report from Microsoft’s booster Kurt Mackie. “I lost the link (ignored it because of Azure),” this reader explained, “but after thinking about it, if Microsoft is selling or renting patents to trolls (NPE) then their tactic works. In particular they are able to attract trolls with the bait on Azure, let them have a patent for a fee, and then point the troll at their competitors. Just speculation but I that’s what I though after considering the Azure news.”

Upon further exploration the article in question was found again. “I found where I saw it,” our reader explained, quoting the following passage from it:

Lastly, Microsoft is promising that if it transfers Azure-associated patents to “nonpracticing entities,” then the arrangement will be such that the holding company can’t assert IP claims against Azure customers. This latter arrangement is called a “springing license” arrangement in legal lingo.

This is pretty significant as it shows that our interpretation of the strategy was all along correct. “If Microsoft is doing those “transfers”,” our reader noted, then “it is effectively siccing trolls on its competitors’ customers.”

The strategy above is rightly compared to the Novell deal that we protested against for a very long time. To quote: “On the IP side, Microsoft early on provided “IP peace of mind” by issuing certificates for Novell’s SuSE Linux Enterprise server use in a controversial program that promised customers using that software that they would not be subject to IP claims from Microsoft. That program emerged from Microsoft’s early legal claims that Linux and other open source software had violated 235 of Microsoft’s patents.”

“This is pretty significant as it shows that our interpretation of the strategy was all along correct.”So again, just like we had said all along, Microsoft basically reintroduced the same tactics. It just markets them differently now, using similar words but a different platform. 10 years ago Microsoft tried to get everyone to use SUSE, which it taxed, and now it is trying to make everyone move to Azure, with perceived or concrete risk of patent lawsuits as an encouraging factor.

And some people naïvely believe (based on a PR campaign) that Microsoft has changed…

“EPO Continues to Grant Software Patents”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dire consequences of overworking under pressure and pursuing unrealistic goals so as to fit misguided expectations

Visitors sleeping at assembly

Summary: The longstanding concern about the granting of software patents at the EPO (typically disguised as a “device”) as reinforced by T 0625/11

NOT only the USPTO has been granting software patents. In Europe, in spite of the famous directive, the EPO continues granting software patents. Insiders keep telling us so, emphasising that pressure from management compels them to do it. “EPO continues to grant software patents,” Benjamin Henrion noted the other day, “the last decision is about “calculating a threshold value in a computer” (the corresponding article is not in English, except the summary).

“Only the poor, who cannot afford legal defense, will suffer in such a hostile landscape.”As we last mentioned on Saturday in relation to patent scope, the Battistelli-led attacks on the Boards of Appeal — clearly a 'poisonous priority' of his — enable this to carry on. It’s happening not just in the domain of software, as this recently-cited article serves to remind us. What good will a patent office be if it grants a patent on almost everything and courts keep defying its examiners’ judgments? Only the poor, who cannot afford legal defense, will suffer in such a hostile landscape. It is particularly damaging to SMEs which dominate as employers across Europe.

“They [EPO examiners] claim that the organisation is decentralising and focusing on granting as many patents as possible to gain financially from fees generated.” —Expatica, European Patent Office staff on strike

Links 19/3/2017: Linux Sightings, What’s Wrong With Microsoft, and Death of Docker

Posted in News Roundup at 12:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Gitter + GitLab = win

    Before getting into the details, we’d like to thank the 800,000+ people who make up the Gitter community for your enthusiasm and support for everything we’ve done. You’ve inspired our tiny team to keep shipping and making the open source and developer community a better place to connect to one another.

  • Google Unveils Guetzli, Open Source JPEG Encoder, to Speed Browsing

    Google on Thursday announced Guetzli, a new contribution to its evolving set of tools for the open source community. Guetzli is an encoder that allows JPEG files to be compressed as much as 35 percent, resulting in much faster Web page loading.

    “Guetzli,” which means “cookie” in Swiss German, allows users to create smaller JPEG images while maintaining compatibility with existing Web browsers, image processing applications and the existing JPEG standard, noted Robert Obryk and Jyrki Alakuijala, software engineers at Google Research Europe, in an online post.

  • Events

    • Google Summer of Code starts in four days, many open source project ideas still available

      The application period for this year’s Google Summer of Code (GSoC) opens in just four days (March 20, 16:00 UTC) and runs until April 3th. If you couldn’t find anything interesting in the 54 Google Summer of Code ideas by the KDE project, here’s some more ideas on participating projects and their ideas.

    • Speakerfight: A new way to do call4talks

      Since January I’m participating on events on Rio de Janeiro area. The one that every month is scheduled in my calendar is PythonRio. A Python(obviously =P ) event, but you can talk about everything that you want that fit the goal of the event: Share knowledge.

    • University Connect – PCCOE, Pune

      Another bright morning and another college visit was planned under the wings of University Connect. Thanks to the Pune site team again for the arrangements. On 15th February 2017, we visited the PCCOE college in Pune. Again the early morning alarm clock bell managed to break my sleep. Though, I was not feeling very well (thanks to my on going illness due to allergies), but Open Source, college students and Fedora makes me feel enough energy to beat a dull me.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.3 – Freedom Meets Functionality

      Freedom to create with code is not the same as the freedom to create a specific product. Sometimes the freedom offered in the open source community makes it easier for me to be more productive. Other times, not so much. The biggest excuses I have to grab one of my machines with a closed source operating system consists of the following photo editing (Adobe CC), video editing (Final Cut Pro), and Civilization IV. Yes, I’m still playing Civ IV. It’s my favorite. I don’t need to upgrade. I’d love to find a tutorial that worked to get it working under Neon, but sadly the community that would write such a post appears to have moved on.

      I used to think that I couldn’t create documents under Linux but LibreOffice 5.3 has really been a game changer. Everyone else beat me to the flashy reviews, so this isn’t a review that exposes the new features. This is a commentary of my experience.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • Fund Open Source Software Research to Enhance ICT for Development (ICT4D) and ICT for Dollars (ICT4$)

      I owe part of my IT education to the Open Source community. I enhanced my programming skills using Open Source programming languages; I garnered a better understanding of operating systems through my study and research of the Linux kernel; I understood the inner workings of software by having access to their code; and in college, I used learning materials from computer science classes made available by MIT Open Courseware. But this article is not about how I benefited from open source software. I only mentioned my experience with Open Source Software (OSS) to stress the plethora of opportunities that it provides and the impact it can have on our ICT sector, and the country as a whole. Hence, the subsequent paragraphs provide insights into the positive impact that Open Source Software can have on a developing country like Liberia. The article is also a call to both the public and private sectors to invest in Open Source Software or OSS in order to enhance Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) and Information and Communications Technology for Dollars (ICT4$).

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Linux XIA Joins Conservancy as a Member Project

      Software Freedom Conservancy proudly welcomes Linux XIA as a member project. Linux XIA is a new protocol stack for Linux built using eXpress Internet Architecture (XIA), an interoperable meta network architecture. Linux XIA is designed to meet unfulfilled demands of real-world networking. The project’s roadmap includes the development of a DDoS protection system, and the addition of state-of-the-art algorithms and data structures to increase Linux XIA’s speed and flexibility.

      Conservancy, a non-profit public charity focused on ethical technology, acts as a home to over forty member projects dedicated to developing free and open source software. Conservancy acts as a corporate umbrella, allowing member projects to operate as charitable initiatives without having to independently manage their own corporate structure and administrative services.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • A Few Words About that Ten-Million-Dollar Serial Comma

    The issue is that, without a comma after “shipment,” the “packing for shipment or distribution” is a single activity. Truck drivers do not pack food, either for shipment or for distribution; they drive trucks and deliver it. Therefore, these exemptions do not apply to drivers, and Oakhurst Dairy owes them some ten million dollars.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Peer Into the Post-Apocalyptic Future of Antimicrobial Resistance

      About 4 million years ago, a cave was forming in the Delaware Basin of what is now Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. From that time on, Lechuguilla Cave remained untouched by humans or animals until its discovery in 1986—an isolated, pristine primeval ecosystem.

      When the bacteria found on the walls of Lechuguilla were analyzed, many of the microbes were determined not only to have resistance to natural antibiotics like penicillin, but also to synthetic antibiotics that did not exist on earth until the second half of the twentieth century. As infectious disease specialist Brad Spellberg put it in the New England Journal of Medicine, “These results underscore a critical reality: antibiotic resistance already exists, widely disseminated in nature, to drugs we have not yet invented.”

      The origin story of antibiotics is well known, almost mythic, and antibiotics, along with the other basic public health measures, have had a dramatic impact on the quality and longevity of our modern life. When ordinary people called penicillin and sulfa drugs miraculous, they were not exaggerating. These discoveries ushered in the age of antibiotics, and medical science assumed a lifesaving capability previously unknown.

    • Famine stalks Somalia again

      I last worked in Somalia six years ago, when famine also loomed, and there were countless stories to tell about starvation, a health crisis and devastation.

      Knowing it is little different this time round is heartbreaking. A drought that appears to be worsening has left more than 6.2 million people without enough food, if any at all.

      Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that Somalia was at risk of its third famine in 25 years. The last one, in 2011, killed almost 260,000 people.

    • Half of Somalia’s Population May Feel Effects of Impending Third Famine

      As drought in Somalia looms, the nation is “on the brink” of its third famine in twenty-five years, according to information posted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in February 2017. According to the WHO’s alert, there 360,000 acutely malnourished and 70,000 severely malnourished Somali children in need of immediate medical attention.

    • Thousands of NHS Patients in Harm’s Way; Considered Less Important than Financial Targets

      A private hospital in England has repeatedly mistreated and put thousands of patients in harm’s way. On top of that, Melanie Newman reported for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in February 2017, a senior surgeon has been under investigation for fraud and other serious issues that have created serious problems to the hospital patients. Thousands of patients have been affected by the hospital’s poor care and mistreatment as it has been prioritizing the financial state of the private hospital over the safety and health of the patients.

      Fawkham Manor hospital underwent inspection multiple times during 2016 that resulted in unusual and serious findings. For example, when inspectors went into the hospital they found that staff regularly failed to wash their hands, and frequently brought patients to the wrong theater, as well as neglecting equipment maintenance. According to the inspectors, the leadership team “did not understand the risks,” thus putting patients at “high risk of avoidable harm.”

    • Killing the Elderly: Social Security Starves Us Slowly as the GOP Tries to Kill Us by Gutting Health Care

      I currently receive a Social Security benefit check of $985 a month, which is a spousal benefit I qualified for, one of the last to be able to make use of the so-called file-and-suspend option for married people reaching age 66 that the Obama Administration and Congress agreed to do away with two years ago, in one of many small cuts being applied to the Social Security program.

      This year that benefit, like the benefit checks of all 60 million people (one in five of all Americans) on Social Security, rose by a scant 0.3 percent, taking my check from $983 a month last year to its present level — a rise of $2.00 a month (I was actually screwed out of a dollar because of crooked rounding!).

  • Security

    • Some HTTPS inspection tools might weaken security [iophk: "the death of web-mail UI"]

      In a typical enterprise environment, an HTTPS connection can even be intercepted and re-encrypted multiple times: at the network perimeter by gateway security products or data leak prevention systems and on endpoint systems by antivirus programs that need to inspect such traffic for malware.

      The problem is that users’ browsers no longer get to validate the real server certificates because that task falls to the interception proxy. And as it turns out, security products are pretty bad at validating server certificates.

    • Defence against the Dark Arts involves controlling your hardware

      In light of the Vault 7 documents leak (and the rise to power of Lord Voldemort this year), it might make sense to rethink just how paranoid we need to be.

    • This laptop-bricking USB stick just got even more dangerous

      Remember that USB stick that would destroy almost anything in its path, from laptops, photo booths, kiosks, to even cars?

      Now there’s a new version, and it’s even more dangerous than before.

      In case you missed it the first time around, a Hong Kong-based company built a weaponized pocket-sized USB stick, which when plugged into a device, will rapidly charge its capacitors from the USB power supply and then discharge, frying the affected device’s circuits.

    • Docker Image Vulnerability Research

      Managing known vulnerabilities is the first step towards a strong security posture. If we’re not updating our systems, and keeping an eye on emerging vulnerabilities that are yet to be patched upstream, we’re basically leaving the front door wide open.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Pentagon Denies Bombing Syrian Mosque, But Its Own Photo May Prove That It Did

      The Pentagon spokesperson insisted that the U.S. airstrike in the rebel-held village of Al-Jina in northern Syria on Thursday night did not hit a mosque. “The area was extensively surveilled prior to the strike in order to minimize civilian casualties,” Navy Captain Jeff Davis wrote in an email. “We deliberately did not target the mosque.”

      He even unclassified and circulated a photo. And he pointed out that on the left, you can see a small mosque, still standing.

    • Letting Russia Be Russia

      Political philosophers stressing Traditionalist values have influenced the thinking of Presidents Putin and Trump, but that may offer a path for Russia and the U.S. to coexist, explains ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • How millions of songbirds are being illegally slaughtered to supply Cypriot restaurants

      They set the traps at night. Virtually invisible “mist” nets are strung between trees, with fake bird song warbling from hidden electronic calling devices.. For the exhausted songbirds, it is a seeming safe haven to eat and rest during their long migration.

      As dawn breaks the poachers return, tearing the terrified birds from the illegal snares, often leaving their feet behind, then jabbing them in the throat with a toothpick or penknife.

    • US ‘forces G20 to drop any mention of climate change’ in joint statement

      Financial officials from the world’s biggest economies have dropped from a joint statement any mention of financing action on climate change, reportedly following pressure from the US and Saudi Arabia.

      Finance ministers from the G20, which comprises more than 80 percent of the global economy, debated the wording of their final joint statement on trade at their summit in the German resort of Baden-Baden.

      Their communique showed no mention of a commitment to fund action on climate change, and Reuters reported there had been opposition from the US, Saudi Arabia and other countries to Germany’s intention to include it. “Climate change is out for the time being,” an official told the agency.

    • China Beating US in Green Energy

      According to a five-year policy plan released by China’s National Energy Administration, the country will be investing $361 billion towards renewable energy by 2020 Yizhu Wang reported for Who.What.Why in January 2017. China’s plans, Wang wrote, contrast with what the US appears to be poised to do under newly elected President Donald Trump. While Trump claimed he would provide Americans with more jobs in the coal industry, China is shutting down 38% of its coalmines, and instead plans to create 3 million more jobs in renewable energy. As for the US, subsidies are quickly declining in the pursuit of renewable energy, and will continue to do so, per the Energy Information Administration.

  • Finance

    • Brexit: the board game

      What better way to celebrate this momentous occasion than by gathering all the family and enjoying an old-fashioned board game?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump Adviser Is Betting Millions of Dollars That Trump Will Take His Advice

      Carl Icahn, the high-stakes financier who has been using his position as a Trump adviser to push for a major rule-change affecting the ethanol industry, is now literally betting millions of dollars on financial markets that Trump will take his advice.

      As previously reported at The Intercept, Icahn has pushed to get the Environmental Protection Agency to shift responsibility for blending the required amount of renewable fuel into gasoline. Right now, that obligation lies with oil refiners; Icahn wants it shifted to wholesalers.

      As an unpaid but influential “special advisor to the president on regulatory reform” who vetted EPA chief Scott Pruitt, Icahn has plenty of clout to get this done.

    • Our Two Party System is Dead

      The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) famously proclaimed the death of God. Following this far more momentous precedent, it would now be fair to proclaim the death of the debilitating, semi-established duopoly party system that disables progressive politics in the United States.

      The analogies are many.

      Nietzsche claimed that it would take centuries for the Divine body to decompose.

      By this, he did not just mean that it was no longer possible, without self-deception, to believe that there is an omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good being who created all that is and with whom human beings can have personal relationships. Materialist philosophers a century earlier could have said that, albeit not in as colorful a way. Nietzsche took it for granted.

    • White House Budget Bombs on Front Pages of Red State Newspapers

      The White House budget proposal released on Thursday produced harsh, highly critical headlines in local newspapers based in states that President Trump carried in his election in November.

      Papers highlighted the cuts to spending on infrastructure, the environment, the impoverished, and arts and culture.

    • Brazile: Sending Clinton town hall topics ‘mistake I will forever regret’ [iophk: "one of the several big mistakes which cost her party the White House; exhibits no remorse"]

      Brazile appeared not to regret sharing the questions in advance.

      [...]

      “My conscience — as an activist, a strategist — is very clear,” Brazile said in an interview with SiriusXM host Joe Madison, adding, “If I had to do it all over again, I would know a hell of a lot more about cybersecurity.”

    • UPDATE: ‘Major meeting’ on VA not happening tonight at Mar-a-Lago

      Trump then turned to [VA Secretary] Shulkin.

      “So are you going to be at that meeting?” Trump asked. Shulkin shook his, no. “You heard about it, right? It’s going to be great — all about the VA.”

    • World’s cartoonists on this week’s events
    • EXCLUSIVE: Nazi-Allied Group Claims Top Trump Aide Sebastian Gorka As Sworn Member

      Sebastian Gorka, President Trump’s top counter-terrorism adviser, is a formal member of a Hungarian far-right group that is listed by the U.S. State Department as having been “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany” during World War II, leaders of the organization have told the Forward.

      The elite order, known as the Vitézi Rend, was established as a loyalist group by Admiral Miklos Horthy, who ruled Hungary as a staunch nationalist from 1920 to October 1944. A self-confessed anti-Semite, Horthy imposed restrictive Jewish laws prior to World War II and collaborated with Hitler during the conflict. His cooperation with the Nazi regime included the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews into Nazi hands.

    • Racist Chickens Come Home To Roost In Trump’s White House

      Despite denials of racism, Trump’s administration keeps having dead bodies of racist origin float to the surface or Trump’s new swamp. Why do Trump’s “fighters against terrorism” have to be haters? Why can’t they just be good old boys who love USA and all for which it stands? Nope. Instead Trump brings on board folks steeped in racist ideology and no particular experience dealing with terrorism or any other desirable skill in government.

    • Key Democratic Officials Now Warning Base Not to Expect Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion

      From MSNBC politics shows to town hall meetings across the country, the overarching issue for the Democratic Party’s base since Trump’s victory has been Russia, often suffocating attention for other issues. This fixation has persisted even though it has no chance to sink the Trump presidency unless it is proven that high levels of the Trump campaign actively colluded with the Kremlin to manipulate the outcome of the U.S. election — a claim for which absolutely no evidence has thus far been presented.

      The principal problem for Democrats is that so many media figures and online charlatans are personally benefiting from feeding the base increasingly unhinged, fact-free conspiracies — just as right-wing media polemicists did after both Bill Clinton and Obama were elected — that there are now millions of partisan soldiers absolutely convinced of a Trump/Russia conspiracy for which, at least as of now, there is no evidence. And they are all waiting for the day, which they regard as inevitable and imminent, when this theory will be proven and Trump will be removed.

    • Warrantless Spying, Russian Targets, and Trumped-Up Wire Tap Charges: What the Feds Might Really Have on the President

      Recently, President Trump accused former President Barrack Obama of wire tapping Trump Tower. He tweeted, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” And he further tweeted, “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” And also, “Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” The Trump administration then called for an investigation into the claimed “wire tapp [sic]” without providing any evidence to justify such an investigation. Unfortunately, the corporate, mainstream media has taken to this claim like a dog thrown a sliver of red meat. As a result, the really important issues have been buried beneath a smokescreen of “alternative facts.”

    • The Cost of Trump’s Wall Compared to the Programs He’s Proposing to Cut

      The fiscal 2018 price for President Trump’s border wall is in: $2.6 billion. That’s a cost to U.S. taxpayers, not a cost many people any longer think will be picked up by the Mexican government.

      As first installments go, it’s a pretty big number. Indeed, its size can be appreciated in one powerful way by setting it against some of the many budget cuts Trump proposed this week.

    • Twitter Lights Up After ‘Too Embarrassing to Watch’ Trump-Merkel Press Conference

      President Donald Trump slipped up and called the U.S. a “company,” ignored German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s request for a handshake, and called a German press outlet “fake news”

    • ‘Belligerent,’ ‘Rude,’ ‘Damn Frustrating’: Dems Slam Meeting With DHS Chief

      Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly reportedly told House Democrats on Friday that he was “the best thing to happen” to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, in a closed-door meeting that lawmakers described as “damn frustrating” and “belligerent.”

      The meeting was called to get information on the Trump administration’s deportation policies after a number of Democratic lawmakers were kicked out of a meeting with immigration officials last month, but party leaders told Politico on Friday that Kelly showed up without answers to dozens of letters Democrats have been mailing to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which the agency has also ignored.

    • Kellyanne Conway: Making History?

      Yet the story of Conway’s pioneering successes went largely unreported in the establishment press, or these historic firsts received only passing comment. The corporate media did not discuss how she did it or the implications for women throughout the United States. Though Hilary Clinton did not win the presidential election, surely having a woman successfully run a presidential campaign is a noteworthy news story.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Trump’s Wiretapping Accusations: Here’s What the Government Can Actually Do

      Assisted by companies like Facebook, Google, AT&T, and Verizon, the government uses this law to monitor Americans’ communications with foreigners abroad. In doing so, the government sweeps up billions of international emails, web-browsing activities, and phone calls — which NSA, CIA, and FBI analysts can then sift through looking for information about Americans. While there have been no public indications of this to date, it’s possible that Section 702 surveillance also captured communications between the Trump campaign team and the same Russian entities abroad.

    • WikiLeaks Vault 7 Reveals CIA Cyberwar and the Real Battleground of Democracy

      WikiLeaks dropped a bombshell on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named “Vault 7”, the whistleblowing site began releasing the largest publication of confidential documents, that have come from the top secret security network at the Cyber Intelligence Center. Long before the Edward Snowden revelations, Julian Assange noted how “The Internet, our greatest tool of emancipation, has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen.” He decried the militarization of the Internet with the penetration by the intelligence agencies like NSA and GCHQ, which created “a military occupation of civilian space”. Now, WikiLeaks’ latest disclosures shed further light on this cyber-warfare, exposing the role of the CIA.

    • Three Myths the Telecom Industry is Using to Convince Congress to Repeal the FCC’s Privacy Rules, Busted

      Back in October of 2016, the FCC passed some pretty awesome rules that would bar your internet service provider (ISP) from invading your privacy. The rules would keep ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner Cable from doing things like selling your personal information to marketers, inserting undetectable tracking headers into your traffic, or recording your browsing history to build up a behavioral advertising profile on you—unless they can get your consent. They were a huge victory for everyday Internet users in the U.S. who value their privacy.

      But since the restrictions also limit the ability of ISPs and advertisers alike to profit from the treasure trove of data ISPs have about their subscribers, powerful interests have come out in force to strip those protections away. Lobbyists in DC are pulling out all the stops trying to convince Congress that these straightforward, no-nonsense privacy rules are unnecessary, unfair, overly burdensome, or all of the above. EFF wrote a memo for congressional staffers that busts these myths.

    • Video calls for Signal out of beta

      We recently released encrypted video calling as an opt-in beta. We’ve spent the past month collecting feedback and addressing the issues that the Signal community found in order to get it production ready. Today’s Signal release for Android and iOS enables support for end-to-end encrypted video calls by default, which also greatly enhances the quality of Signal voice calls as well.

    • NSA officials deny ‘blanket’ spying in Salt Lake during 2002 Olympics
    • Top NSA officials deny ‘blanket’ surveillance during Salt Lake City Olympics
    • Top NSA official rejects claims they spied on everyone in SLC during the 2002 Olympics
    • US Marine Corps issues new social media guidance following naked photo sharing scandal [iophk: "yet ignores the real scandal that FB was used at all by active duty personnel"]

      The message urges Marines to think about what they are posting on social media or blogs [...]

    • [Older] Suspicious cellular activity in D.C. suggests monitoring of individuals’ smartphones

      “For several years, cyber security experts have repeatedly warned that U.S. cellular communications networks are vulnerable to surveillance by foreign governments, hackers, and criminals exploiting vulnerabilities in Signaling System 7,” wrote Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California). “U.S. cellular phones can be tracked, tapped, and hacked—by adversaries thousands of miles away—through SS7-enabled surveillance. We are deeply concerned that the security of America’s telecommunications infrastructure is not getting the attention it deserves.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Top 10 most powerful passports of 2017

      By comparison, for three years between 2013 and 2015, the U.K. shared first place with Germany. And with the fallout from Brexit still playing out, analysts predict the changing geopolitical climate to affect the ranking over the next 12 months.

      “We have witnessed several major events recently that are likely to have an impact on global mobility, including Brexit and the election of [United States] President Donald Trump,” said Henley & Partners chairman Christian Kalin.

      “Both can be interpreted as steps toward restricting movement and creating barriers to entry,” he added. “This trend towards curbing travel freedom is already apparent in the shift in rankings on this year’s Visa Restrictions Index.”

      Rounding out the top three spots is Sweden in second place, and Denmark, Finland, Italy, Spain and the U.S., all tied for third.

      The biggest mover in this year’s index is Peru, which gained 15 spots.

      Island nations like the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Micronesia, Kiribati and Tuvalu also gained nine spots, while Ghana posted the biggest loss, dropping four spots.

    • EU citizens in UK anxiously seek security before Brexit

      Sam Schwarzkopf, a German neuroscientist at University College London, was startled to receive a letter from the British government telling him that his application for permanent residence had been rejected and he should prepare to leave the UK.

      As a European Union citizen, he is legally entitled to live in Britain, and last year’s decision by UK voters to leave the 28-nation bloc hasn’t changed that. But he is one of hundreds of thousands of Europeans battling British bureaucracy to confirm their legal status – and sometimes discovering that the process only increases their uncertainty.

    • In a first, former CIA captive appeals Guantánamo trial to Supreme Court

      Lawyers for the man accused of orchestrating the USS Cole bombing are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the military tribunal here using accounts of the captive’s CIA torture drawn from declassified documents and an interrogator’s recent memoirs.

      The 38-page petition with hundreds of pages of supporting documents describes Abd al Rahim al Nashiri’s being sodomized, kept naked and kenneled like a dog, crammed into a box the size of an office safe and being threatened with a revved power drill while hanging shackled and nude from a cell ceiling.

      And that’s from the portion that isn’t blacked out.

    • Xenophobic violence in the ‘Rainbow’ nation

      For the fourth consecutive week now, South Africa is witnessing what many analysts call a “resurgence” of xenophobic violence in parts of Johannesburg and Pretoria, the country’s capital city.

      The reality is that this type of violence is a daily occurrence in the country, although it does not always get media attention. It has, in fact, become a long-standing feature in post-apartheid South Africa.

      Since 1994, tens of thousands of people have been harassed, attacked or killed because of their status as outsiders or foreign nationals (PDF).

      Despite claims to the contrary by the government, violence against foreign nationals in South Africa did not end in June 2008 when the massive outbreak that started a month earlier subsided.

    • Why is DHS Labeling Protesters “Domestic Terrorists”?

      The United States government considered Nelson Mandela a terrorist until 2008. Mandela was a designated terrorist 18 years after he was released from prison, 15 years after he won the Nobel peace prize, and 14 years after he was elected president of South Africa.

      Let that sink in for a moment.

      In 1962, the U.S. government considered Mandela to be “the most dangerous communist” outside of the then Soviet Union. It was subsequently revealed that a CIA agent provided the South African government with the information necessary to apprehend him and land him in prison for 27 years.

      The indignity suffered by Mandela during every visit to the United States — as a “terrorist” he had to get special clearance to enter the country — was finally wiped clean by an act of Congress just five years before he died.

      Nelson Mandela, and his organizing in South Africa, was not protected by the First Amendment, a freedom afforded by the U.S. Constitution only to those in the United States. But we should not forget that Angela Davis, Malcom X, and yes, even the now-beloved Martin Luther King, Jr., were at varying times labeled enemies of the state during their struggle against segregation in the United States. The First Amendment protected their organizing. But it did not stop our federal law enforcement agencies from watching, labeling, and arresting them. We are fortunate that these heroes of racial justice did not cower when faced with jail time, but instead spoke louder.

    • Children Make Up Half the World’s Refugees

      Children refugees have increased to 50 million children worldwide with over 75% of them from ten countries. Syria and Afghanistan alone contribute to half of all children refugees under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees according to UNICEF. Over 70% of children in Syria alone show signs of toxic stress due to conflict-related exposures, contributing to the tragedy of what will become a lost generation of Syrians. Refugee children are at high risk for recruitment, work abuse, violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, and lives of poverty. UNICEF is calling for the international community to uphold the Convention of the Rights of the Child in assisting the migrant child crisis.

    • On International Women’s Day, Here’s How the ACLU Is Fighting for Women’s Rights in the Face of the Most Anti-Woman Agenda in History

      A Day Without a Woman gives us another concrete way to make our strength visible: Organizers are encouraging participants to take the day off work, avoid shopping (with exceptions for women- and minority-owned small businesses), and/or wear red to demonstrate solidarity. This demonstration of strength is critical because the Trump administration poses an unprecedented threat to women’s equality and well-being. Defeating it is going to take all of our strength and persistence.

      Well, here at the ACLU, we know a little something about persistence. The ACLU has been on the front lines in the struggle for women’s equality since the Women’s Rights Project was co-founded by Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1972. While the progress we’ve made is undeniable, we’re still fighting some of the same battles today we fought back then in three priority areas: employment, education, and ending violence against women. And our colleagues in the Reproductive Freedom Project continue their tireless fight to protect the right to contraception, the right to abortion, and the right to bear a child.

    • Israel and the A-Word

      Since then, Israeli law and policy has only deepened the state apparatus of separation and segregation, discrimination and domination. Over the years, countless activists, authors and artists, as well as leading anti-apartheid figures from South Africa, have referred to Israel’s particular brand of structural discrimination as akin to apartheid. In the last decade, international lawyers have also begun to do likewise, but with reference to the definition of apartheid under international law rather than by analogy to southern Africa.

    • Raped, beaten, exploited: the 21st-century slavery propping up Sicilian farming

      Every night for almost three years, Nicoleta Bolos lay awake at night on a dirty mattress in an outhouse in Sicily’s Ragusa province, waiting for the sound of footsteps outside the door. As the hours passed, she braced herself for the door to creak open, for the metallic clunk of a gun being placed on the table by her head and the weight of her employer thudding down on the dirty grey mattress beside her.

      The only thing that she feared more than the sound of the farmer’s step outside her door was the threat of losing her job. So she endured night after night of rape and beatings while her husband drank himself into a stupor outside.

      “The first time, it was my husband who said I had to do this. That the owner of the greenhouse where we had been given work wanted to sleep with me and if we refused he wouldn’t pay us and would send us off his land,” she says.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The future of US net neutrality under Trump

      There is a case to be made that Pai is motivated by the firm conviction of operating within the limits of power/oversight granted to the FCC by Congress. Regardless of his intentions, though, he is expected to steer the FCC into “a more hands-off, pro-industry direction,” which was reinforced during his first US Senate hearing as FCC chairman on 8 March 2017. Time will tell whether or not his conviction – and his vision – will manifest in a way that protects the free, competitive, and open Internet he and many of his Republican colleagues advocate so adamantly for, or if it will lead to the fears some consumer advocates believe may come to pass: greater market capture/monopolization by the powerful, existing telecoms, and ultimately higher costs for US Internet subscribers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • SXSW 2017 on BitTorrent: 7.86 GB of Free Music

        SXSW’s showcase MP3s are still freely available on the festival’s site for sampling purposes.

        For the past several years Ben Stolt has taken the time and effort to put all of the MP3s on BitTorrent. Last week he published the latest 2017 torrent, which consists of 1,201 tracks totaling 7.86 gigabytes of free music.

        All the tracks released for the previous editions are also still available and most of these torrents remain well-seeded. The 2005 – 2017 archives now total more than 77 gigabytes.

      • Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde Doesn’t Plan to Pay Hollywood ‘Back’… Ever

        With these numbers the damages will be more than half a billion before he retires. In fact, it already is pretty much impossible for Peter to pay even the interest alone. It’s likely he’ll be in debt for the rest of his life. But even if he could pay, he wouldn’t.

      • Huge Scandal Engulfs Greek Anti-Piracy & Royalties Group

        Greek anti-piracy and royalties group AEPI is in crisis after a government-commissioned investigation found huge irregularities in its accounts. Following an audit by Ernst & Young, it was discovered the group had failed to pay more than 42 million euros owed to artists. They did pay themselves well, however, with the CEO alone earning 52,000 euros per month.

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