EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

04.01.17

The Sickness of the EPO – Part VII: 40% of EPO Workers Have Upper Limb Disorder (ULD), Battistelli Covers That Up

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli lauds himself, claiming decrease in sickness by merely denying people’s health problems (cruel, irresponsible, and possibly illegal)

Musculoskeletal disorder and repetitive strain injury
References: Repetitive strain injury and musculoskeletal disorders

Summary: The unpleasant truth about the health effects of EPO work and the strain induced by a management which is in deep denial about it, motivating people to just hide their suffering, disability etc. (for fear of invalidity, incapacity, ultimately dismissal)

RECENTLY, EPO management publicly bemoaned complaints from staff that the tools available for the job were unsuitable (e.g. incapable of detecting prior art through searches, not ergonomic and so on), but there are very legitimate concerns and unless staff is permitted to express/voice these concerns, people will suffer and some may eventually die young.

Today we decided to take our coverage of EPO up a notch, as big things may be about to happen. For those just joining us (we received about 30,000 views on our EPO wiki page yesterday alone), here are the previous 6 parts of this series, which is a must-read for insiders and also concerned outsiders, who include eminent politicians:

How many people out there know about Upper Limb Disorder (ULD) at the EPO? It’s somewhat of a taboo subject. “Upper limb disorders (ULDs) affect the arms, from fingers to shoulder, and neck,” says the British government. “They are often called repetitive strain injuries, ‘RSI’, cumulative trauma disorder or occupational overuse syndrome.”

“The problem was so big in fact that the EPO itself had several external studies commissioned on ULD. In 2004, for example, the Dutch research institute TNO concluded that some 40% of EPO workers had ULD.”I’ve had one or two colleagues with that issue, but that represents less than 5% of the whole. In the EPO, statistically speaking, this is an epidemic that just leaps off the scale.

“You articles about medical aspects at the EPO caught my attention,” one reader told us. We soon learned that Upper Limb Disorder or ULD had for many years been a problem at the EPO. The problem was so big in fact that the EPO itself had several external studies commissioned on ULD. In 2004, for example, the Dutch research institute TNO concluded that some 40% of EPO workers had ULD.

TNO’s English version of the site yields 15 results when searching for “Upper Limb Disorder” and this suggests that they have done a lot of research in the area. Among the results (14):

  1. Exposure Assessment of Upper Limb Repetitive Movements: A Consensus Document
  2. Effects of Cued Micro-Breaks on Self-Reported Severity and Recovery of Upper Limb Disorders in Computer Operators
  3. Effectiveness of the RSI quickscan a preventive program on neck and upper limb symptoms for office workers
  4. Effects of software programs stimulating regular breaks and exercises on work-related neck and upper-limb disorders
  5. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders : back to work report
  6. Are software characteristics related to musculoskeletal disorders in computer workers?
  7. The (cost-)effectiveness of a lifestyle physical activity intervention in addition to a work style intervention on the recovery from neck and upper limb symptoms in computer workers
  8. Predictive validity of the Hand Arm Risk assessment Method (HARM)
  9. The development of a practical tool for risk assessment of manual work – the HAT-tool
  10. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders : prevention report
  11. The predictive validity of the RSI QuickScan questionnaire with respect to arm, shoulder and neck symptoms in computer workers
  12. Gender issues in safety and health at work : a review
  13. The effectiveness of a work style intervention and a lifestyle physical activity intervention on the recovery from neck and upper limb symptoms in computer workers
  14. The effectiveness of a work style intervention and a lifestyle physical activity intervention on the recovery from neck and upper limb symptoms in computer workers

TNO certainly knows this area. It studied the EPO 13 years ago, but these studies of the EPO are no longer performed nowadays. In the past, occupational diseases were recognised by the EPO, but Battistelli removed this altogether. How convenient. We’ll try to publish the results of the study, but we need some leaks related to that.

Staff representatives are probably aware of this issue, but rarely is the subject being raised or publicly brought up anymore. In fact, Battistelli recently fired the person who was the staff representatives’ health expert (for a long time), Els Hardon. Again: How convenient! There was also Ph. Couckuyt in The Hague.

The ‘New’ (Nouvel) Building of the EPO Has Dark (and Potentially Fiery) Secrets

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Don’t be misled by mockups, simulations, and blatant marketing

Nouvel building
Putting constructional lipstick on an oppressive, suicide-inducing pig

Summary: Some lesser-known (at least publicly) facts about the old/existing and the ‘new’ buildings in the Netherlands (Holland), which may constitute yet another example of the EPO defying Dutch law

EARLIER this year we wrote about the fire hazard which is the EPO‘s facility in the Netherlands, putting at risk thousands of workers who are already aware of the risks. There are even internal presentations [PDF] about the subject.

“So the fire safety issue will not have been resolved.”The Nouvel building was mentioned here before as the EPO likes to shift attention to it, pretending that it pampers employees and that a resolution to the crisis is around the corner (Battistelli likes to use this building as a bargaining card whenever he comes under fire for his sheer abuses, never mind if the French pocket a lot of money from this project).

Recently, one reader told us “about building security of the new “Nouvel” and expensive building in The Hague.”

That’s the building shown above, with a bunch of Turkish EPO flag added for good measure (it's very suitable given the scenario).

EPO animated“There are serious concerns on security,” our reader told us, “in particular the new building not complying with local, Dutch regulations in terms of fire safety.”

So the fire safety issue will not have been resolved.

“Your article,” noted this reader regarding our previous coverage, “related to the old building in The Hague, didn’t it?”

The old building was in serious violation of Dutch regulations, but who is going to actually enforce the law or compel the EPO to obey the law? Many have tried. Don’t expect any fines to be paid. Such is the nature of immunity! It kills.

“The old building was in serious violation of Dutch regulations, but who is going to actually enforce the law or compel the EPO to obey the law?”Information that we later received said that EPO management “eventually invested into fire safety, after about a decade of negligence…” (confirmed by Building Administration)

But what about Nouvel? Nothing.

Our reader said: “I hope you have also received info on that, because the public has to know: the EPO is putting lives at risk and they are aware of it. Unfortunately I cannot tell more without putting my informer at risk. I’ll try to get more material on that.”

“Dutch politicians deserve and need to know.”With over a thousand very clever employees in there, it’s hardly surprising that many are worried and try to keep abreast. We don’t want to give exact numbers, but after our last article on the subject we have received a lot of feedback from a lot of people. They know about this, but the local media does not cover it. Over a thousand people are probably very familiar with the topic, which merits a large audience as it demonstrates utter disregard for the lives of EPO workers. All the management cares about these days is perks for itself. Investment in safety? No, a penthouse for Battistelli with a bar (!) is so much more important. Alcoholic beverages on the job and a deluxe bathing room just around the corner!

We are going to revisit the subject pretty soon. In the mean time, if anyone has any documents regarding the above-mentioned compliance and safety issues (associated with Nouvel), please leak these to us. Dutch politicians deserve and need to know.

Small Business Innovation Protection Act (SBIPA) Regarding the US Small Business Administration (SBA) Wrong Solution to the Wrong Problem

Posted in America, Patents at 3:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The problem is not the lack of patents

Small Business Administration (SBA) logoSummary: A new effort which proclaims to help small businesses would merely exacerbate existing problems by further saturating the United States with patents, potentially spurring further disputes and increased litigious activity, shifting budget away from research and development and into patents and litigation

THE USPTO is under attack led by the patent lobby, which is attempting to overthrow its reformist measures (i.e. progress) by means of ousting its Director. We wrote about this earlier today. They are trying to shift money away from R&D and into their own pockets (P&L).

Political avenues too are being experimented with.

“Recently, patent maximalists formed the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU), which is actually a patent maximalism lobby which pretends to be about “education”…”Not every “Act” is a good act, but in recent years there were some beneficial or at worst “benign” (not necessarily monovalent/benevolent) “Acts” related to patents. We wrote about all of them quite a few times.

The following “Act”, however, came to our attention today and it’s presented to the public in a rather misleading manner, as if the solution to a lot of patents is yet more patents.

Recently, patent maximalists formed the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU), which is actually a patent maximalism lobby which pretends to be about “education” — the same word used in the following Saturday announcement (odd choice of day also because of the first of April, though it’s definitely not satirical).

“Politicians are trying to oversell patents to defend from patents — a strategy that would never improve things.”Well, right now, based on IP Wire, something called U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) would be compelled to waste budget. Politicians are trying to oversell patents to defend from patents — a strategy that would never improve things. How about providing some kind of crackdowns on patent trolls that are preying on vulnerable businesses?

SBA has a government (.gov) site, which says: “We support America’s small businesses. The SBA connects entrepreneurs with lenders and funding to help them plan, start and grow their business.”

Here is what the announcement said earlier today:

U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Jim Risch (R-ID) announced that they have reintroduced the Small Business Innovation Protection Act, bipartisan legislation to help small businesses protect their intellectual property by improving education on obtaining and protecting patents.

[...]

Obtaining a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) protects against infringement in the U.S. However, if a small business does not register in a foreign market, such as China, it has no protection there. Patent protection is necessary to ensure the ability to enforce a businesses’ rights both at home and abroad. Additionally, patents help defend American inventors against lawsuits. The Small Business Innovation Protection Act will help ensure small businesses are aware of the need and mechanisms available to accurately and effectively pursue an international patent.

Patents for small businesses are not going to accomplish anything. A patent portfolio so small does not protect against lawsuits (the above claim is false) and barely acts as a deterrent, just as means of retaliation, which would not work for a small business against a large one. The whole system as it stands is tilted in favour of large corporations. How about a government programme similar to PTAB (AIA) that would sponsor legal defence for small businesses attacked by trolls? This would likely help eliminate all sorts of abusive trolls and their destructive patents, before they can proceed to extorting the next small business.

In our view, Small Business Innovation Protection Act (SBIPA) would boil down to passage of public money to the patent ‘industry’, i.e. provide a cushion and supply them with a sort of government welfare.

Bristows UPC Delusions Are Back, Attempting to Distract From Bad News (UPC Isn’t Happening)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 9:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bristows LLP and EPO

Summary: Tackling some of the blogs, owned and run by Team UPC, which attempt to tell us that everything is under control even though the UK strictly cannot participate in the UPC as a non-EU country (which it’s en route to becoming)

BATTISTELLI and his EPO cronies must be pleased. They need not lie when others do the lying for them. UPC 'lobbyist' Annsley Merelle Ward, citing MIP (the supposed 'reports' we've just tackled) and the UPC Preparatory Committee (which is the likes of Bristows, basically a bunch of moles who try to make their own project go down the throats of misguided politicians), is lobbying again in IP Kat. The headline is not even true, just more wishful thinking for the echo chamber.

It says this: “The update from the UK IPO also confirmed that the UPC Preparatory Committee’s HR team is ready to proceed with the judicial recruitment process following the commencement of the provisional application period. This update came during Wednesday’s Preparatory Committee’s Interim Team meeting held at the UPC Court of Appeal building in Luxembourg. The Interim Team consists of 5 sub-groups in charge of finalizing practical arrangements for the UPC.”

“Executive cannot become legislator. One or more does not change anything.”
      –Benjamin Henrion
A lot of readers probably don’t even know what the “UPC Preparatory Committee” actually is. They don’t know who’s in it. It’s not what it sounds like. It’s like those think tanks that call themselves the very opposite of what they stand for.

We are not surprised that Bristows, which refuses to honour democracy, has yet again ‘borrowed’ IP Kat (blog to be ‘loaned’) for some UPC lobbying and “damage control”. Seeing the lack of interaction (and probably traffic) in Bristows’ own site, they could really use some extra audience. Here is Bristows’ misdirection to Latvia, where Battistelli's secret visit raises all sorts of serious questions. We suppose that Bristows has had nothing positive to say about the UK, so it attempted distract from it, later writing about Belgium as well (non-news).

Someone called Josep Maria Pujals‏ (from Spain) responded to the above and said: “Everyone doing its home work but no news from UK, deadline for PPA next 29 May..”

“Right now there is nobody in the UK who can wholeheartedly ratify the UPC, more so after Brexit (Article 50 invocation makes it almost irreversible).”Yes, they know they have run out of time. They promised the UPC by March 7th and the end of March. But that never happened. Another false prediction or deliberately bad advice (or lobbying) from the people who advertised job openings that never existed and probably will never exist. Isn’t that some kind of offense?

“Executive cannot become legislator,” Benjamin Henrion pointed out the other day. “One or more does not change anything.”

Right now there is nobody in the UK who can wholeheartedly ratify the UPC, more so after Brexit (Article 50 invocation makes it almost irreversible).

Dr. Luke McDonagh, a London-based academic who understands Brexit pretty well, says: “I think Joris’ point is that the EU holds most of the chips. Even if the UK holds a UPC card, it is still a comparatively weak one…”

“Britain will carry on with the usual system and so will Spain.”Bargaining chips or card analogies aside, British companies do not want the UPC. They would rather keep the the UPC out of the UK and consider that a favour.

“Sorry to put an UPC angle on this,” wrote a patent attorney from Germany, “but doesn’t this mean that the UPC is a bargaining chip for the EU?”

Not even companies in continental Europe want the UPC. Law firms try to fool some of them into thinking that the UPC is desirable, but it’s the “the other way around,” as Henrion noted. The UPC is a negative, not a positive, and moreover Brexit is in conflict with it. A nation must be an EU member to participate in the UPC. Josep Maria Pujals‏ seems to be very well aware of this (as a Spanish lawyer) and since Spain is not ratifying either, this thing is going nowhere. Remember the lies/distortions that have been spread about Spain in an effort to compel the UK to ratify in March? Well, that evidently didn’t work and there is now an “[e]ntry into force of the new Spanish patent law” without the UPC, as explained in this new post. To quote:

The Council of Ministers approved today the Regulation for the implementation of the Patent Law (Law 24/2015) by means of a Royal Decree. The new patent law and regulation will enter into force on April 1, 2017.

Britain will carry on with the usual system and so will Spain. What all those other nations choose to do with their UPC (which has London and English embedded in it), let’s just hope that they get rid of this big pile of papers in an environmentally-friendly fashion. The UPC belongs in the compost pile. We expect the nefarious rumours and dirty tricks of Team UPC to carry on for a few more months before some of them simply give up and realise that their investment in UPC was money down the drain and reputation in the bin.

‘Managing IP’ (MIP) is Seeding UPC Optimism Based on Nothing Concrete

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

Want to Make a Lie Seem True? Say It Again. And Again. And Again
Reference: Want to Make a Lie Seem True? Say It Again. And Again. And Again

Summary: Behind a torrent of optimistic predictions that can be traced back to ‘Managing IP’ there is nothing of much substance, just the typical lobbying from UPC hopefuls (standing to profit from it)

THE EPO has been totally silent about the UPC since Article 50 news. We don’t think it’s a coincidence. Battistelli would be shouting from rooftops (like the balcony of his new penthouse) if there was something positive to say.

“So what we have here are 4 words attributed to UK-IPO without even a link.”MIP has just published what seems like Team UPC- and Battistelli-motivated lie, tweeting about it on several occasions [1, 2] and writing no less than 3 ‘articles’ about it (behind paywall, so the accuracy of headlines is difficult to ascertain unless you are from within the echo chamber). Kingsley Egbuonu, speaking behind paywall and sporting no links (to back the assertions), offers just the following statement: “A UK IPO statement has confirmed that preparations “remain fully on track” and given more detail on when the last few legislative steps should be expected. This comes a day after Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 to commence Brexit” (the headline is even worse, it says “UK on course to ratify UPC Agreement”).

So what we have here are 4 words attributed to UK-IPO without even a link. As we noted here last month, the UK-IPO lost its head, who was Battistelli-hostile. We don’t know if the new head is more UPC-friendly and Battistelli-friendly; that remains to be seen.

Well, the following day, composed by the same writer was this post stating: “UK remains “fully on track” A UK IPO spokesperson confirmed yesterday that the UK government’s preparations to ratify the UPC Agreement (UPCA)…”

“The same unsourced 4 words again, this time attributed to “spokesperson”.”The same unsourced 4 words again, this time attributed to “spokesperson”. Then came the third article.

So what we basically have here is MIP turning 4 words form an unnamed “spokesperson” into headlines such as “UK on course to ratify UPC Agreement”. We remind readers of the special relationship between MIP and Battistelli, not just the UPC, as last noted by us 3 weeks ago after they had set up UPC lobbying opportunities.

“Need it be added that UPC ratification is not a decision for the UK-IPO to make?”Later on we’ll show that UPC lobbyists rely a great deal on these questionable claims from MIP. The UPC “remain fully on track” towards what? To fall through? To be tolerated outside the UK? It doesn’t say. That’s just typical pro-UPC ‘reporting’, like calling 5% of politicians at 1:30 AM (yes, late at night) "Bundestag". Need it be added that UPC ratification is not a decision for the UK-IPO to make?

As we noted here some days ago, the UPC as we know it is practically dead now, but Team UPC will resort to anything to make it seem otherwise. It’s a lobbying campaign and some of the so-called ‘media’ is part (or extension) of this lobbying.

Bad Patent Quality (and Software Patents) Good for Patent Law Firms and Trolls, But Not for Anybody Else

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 8:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Those in the West who pushed China to show more “respect” for patents must be feeling so proud of the progress that Chinese companies have made in this regard, and so pleased now to see Apple being sued in local courts using China’s patent laws.”

Glyn Moody

Summary: Proponents of patent maximalism — those to whom more patents would necessarily translate into higher income — have led patent systems to the trap of losing sight of their original goals

THE concern we so often express about patent quality at the patent offices (notably at the EPO and USPTO) is a concern rooted in the very fundamentals of patent law. Patents were never meant to be granted by the millions on just about every trivial ‘brainfart’. Complexity and scope constraints are cornerstones of this system. Without them, all we have is monopolisation and retardation of scientific progress. Academics have voiced similar views over the years/decades/centuries.

“Complexity and scope constraints are cornerstones of this system.”The EFF has just named [1, 2] the latest “Stupid Patent Of The Month”. We urge readers to look what kind of patents are being granted these days, in order to fully appreciate how wrong patent scope has gone. To quote the summary:

Our ongoing Reclaim Invention campaign urges universities not to sell patents to trolls. This month’s stupid patent provides a good example of why. US Patent No. 8,473,532 (the ’532 patent), “Method and apparatus for automatic organization for computer files,” began its life with publicly-funded Louisiana Tech University. But in September last year, it was sold to a patent troll. A flurry of lawsuits quickly followed.

Louisiana Tech sold the ’532 patent to Micoba LLC, a company that has all the indicia of a classic patent troll. Micoba was formed on September 8, 2016, just a few days before it purchased the patent. The patent assignment agreement lists Micoba’s address as an office building located in the Eastern District of Texas where virtual office services are provided. As far as we can tell, Micoba has no purpose other than to sue with this patent.

As is common. Trolls are the means.

As the headline suggests, what this patent is about is “Storing Files in Folders” — nothing novel that wasn’t already done well before computers. Why was this patent granted and how much will it cost to invalidate it? Trolls typically go after weak and vulnerable companies to whom settling would be cheaper than a legal challenge, hence the severity of wrong grants — something which we believe routinely happens these days at the EPO, helping a new surge of patent trolls in Germany. Based on the latest figures, patent litigation also skyrockets in China, where there has clearly been a patent bubble (over a million patent applications last year alone).

“The spread of software patents to China is a growing issue, which is likely going to merit increased coverage of SIPO here at Techrights (Battistelli is mimicking SIPO).”AnJie Law Firm of Beijing, writing at MIP a couple of times in the past 24 hours (it was bumped up again this morning), chose the headline “Examination Guidelines amendments good news for patentees”. As a reminder, starting today, China loosens restrictions on software patents (like the above) and this is terrible news for software companies. When patent law firms spread the lie that low patent quality is “good news for patentees” (rather than to themselves) they fool nobody except sites like MIP (which choose to actually print this tripe). Even if a software business chooses to pursue a patent and succeeds, it will not be good news. Patents are a two-edged sword and these businesses will get sued too. And who benefits from lots of lawsuits at the expense of businesses? Law firms like AnJie.

The spread of software patents to China is a growing issue, which is likely going to merit increased coverage of SIPO here at Techrights (Battistelli is mimicking SIPO). Recently, the EPO repeatedly promoted [1, 2] (publicly even) software patents in Europe.

Watchtroll, IAM, and the Plot to Overthrow Patent Reformer at the USPTO in Order to Make Litigation (and Trolls) Great Again

Posted in America, Patents at 7:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They just want a whole lot of chaos

Make Patents Great Again

Summary: The smear/lobbying/whispering campaign against Michelle Lee carries on, revealing the truly ugly nature of the patent maximalists with their mortifying agenda

THE meddling in USPTO affairs is troubling, especially considering where that meddling comes from. It includes nasty letters, whispering campaigns, and efforts to prop up fake ‘scandals’ (like conspiracy theories about Google). The ultimate goal, suffice to say, is to make Litigation Great Again, i.e. enrich a bunch of parasites, not inventors.

“The ultimate goal, suffice to say, is to make Litigation Great Again, i.e. enrich a bunch of parasites, not inventors.”Randall Rader represents everything that was wrong with the patent system: sympathy for patent trolls, software patents, nepotism and even borderline corruption. IAM promoted him with a puff piece earlier this year, joining the likes of Watchtroll who attacks judges, PTAB etc. They are using a shame campaign for a self-serving coup whose outcome would (if it was ever successful) make life miserable for scientists and technologists. What do they care? They just want to tax people who are actually productive.

Here is IAM together with Watchtroll lobbying to replace Lee with a corrupt judge who likes trolls and software patents [1, 2]. Here comes again the Google conspiracy theory: “Nomination of either would mark major shift back to patent owners. Rader would be a slap in the face for Big Tech and Google, in particular.”

“Here is IAM together with Watchtroll lobbying to replace Lee with a corrupt judge who likes trolls and software patents…”“Phil Johnson and former CAFC Chief Judge Randall Rader interviewed by Commerce for PTO Director,” says the original. “Decision soon.”

That’s coming from the people who work to make life miserable for everybody. Patent trolls are trying to enter Europe (as covered here the other day) and they actively help them [1, 2], even thugs, charlatans and frauds like Spangenberg (who used a bogus patent to shake down over a thousand legitimate companies). And now, after intense pressure, they claim this:

Sources also indicate that former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Randall Rader also received an interview.

[...]

After repeatedly refusing to comment (see here, here and here) on the matter, the USPTO finally responded to a Freedom of Information Request on March 10, 2017, confirming that Lee was Director of the Office.

Well, she is still in charge. Watchtroll spreads some rumours about job interviews, which may be the outcome of intense lobbying and pressure and are no guarantee of a change at the helm.

Why is IAM so concerned about this? Just look at who’s paying IAM. It’s the voice of patent aggressors and parasites and yesterday IAM bemoaned a decline in litigation, owing largely to reforms in the US (courts and the patent office). To quote:

At some point next week we should get the data on the number of new patent lawsuits filed in the US during the first quarter of this year. Unified Patents is usually first out of the blocks with totals for new cases in both district courts and at the PTAB.

Early indications are that new suits will be flat or even slightly down year-on-year. According to Lex Machina, the current total for the first three months is 926 and, assuming there is not a mad rush to file cases today (the final day of the quarter), the total should come in under or roughly on a par with last year’s tally of 963 (taken from Lex Machina’s 2016 review of patent litigation). That is well below the total for the first three months of 2015 when just under 1,500 new suits were filed.

PTAB is partly an accomplishment of Lee — one that Watchtroll habitually mocks. These kinds of never-ending attacks on Lee over at Watchtroll ought to remind her who her real enemies are. They just do this to anyone who does not agree with them. Such is the nature of these people…

Paul Morinville sickened
Paul Morinville from Watchtroll

Links 1/4/2017: Kubecon Coverage, OpenShot 2.3

Posted in News Roundup at 6:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Ittiam Accelerates Open Source VP9 Encoder in Partnership with Netflix and Google

    Ittiam Systems, the leading provider of advanced video and visual analytics solutions and an early member of the Alliance for Open Media (AOM), has announced completion of a project to enhance the encoding speed of the open-source VP9 encoder. The performance-optimized version, developed in close collaboration with Google and Netflix, is now publicly available as part of libvpx, the royalty-free, open-source distribution of VP9 software.

  • Hyperledger chief: live blockchain solutions in trade finance this year

    Brian Behlendorf is the executive director of Hyperledger, the open source blockchain consortium powering much of the trade finance industry’s experimentations on the technology to date.

    Hyperledger Fabric is the platform on which HSBC and Bank of America Merrill Lynch piloted a scheme in 2016 showing that letters of credit can be executed on the blockchain. Also in 2016, India’s Yes Bank launched a solution on Hyperledger Fabric, allowing vendors of a retail chain invoice discounts for advance payments.

  • Developer opportunities to code for good

    As I was searching for open source projects that help learners with disabilities, such as blindness or dyslexia, I came across Bookshare. That led me to Bookshare’s parent company, Benetech, a technology nonprofit based in Palo Alto, CA which focuses on empowering communities in need.

    [...]

    Benetech Labs has started to address these interoperability roadblocks. In conjunction with the Open Referral Initiative, Bui and her team are working with social service referral providers in the U.S. to optimize their collection and maintenance of accurate and up-to-date human-services data through an open data infrastructure. Once that infrastructure is in place, Benetech and other organizations can develop tools on top of it to better connect people to services. Bui expects to run pilot programs this year with a focus on specific service areas, such as legal aid services and local and regional government-provided health and human services.

  • Google Brings All Its Open Source Projects Under One Roof
  • Google Creates a New Home for Open Source Initiatives
  • This open-source tech company’s IPO filing reads like an argument against building a business on open source [Ed: Cloudera was never a FOSS company but one that merely exploits FOSS, so headline is inaccurate]

    Cloudera, the data management and machine learning company, has filed for an initial public offering on the NYSE.

    While the company has lost more than $130 million per year since 2015, the future risks faced by Cloudera could cause alarm for potential investors or anyone looking at open-source software as a viable business model.

  • Open-source software unlocks 3-D view of nanomaterials

    Now it’s possible for anyone to see and share 3-D nanoscale imagery with a new open-source software platform developed by researchers at the University of Michigan, Cornell University and open-source software company Kitware Inc.

    Tomviz 1.0 is the first open-source tool that enables researchers to easily create 3-D images from electron tomography data, then share and manipulate those images in a single platform.

  • Kitware and Collaborators Make 10 Release of Materials Tomography Platform
  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Photon: new design mockups show interface, and more

        We talked about the upcoming Firefox interface design change, codename Photon, before here on Ghacks, and even revealed a mockup showing some of its interface elements last week.

        Turned out later that the mockup was not by the Photon team, but by another Firefox team that used tidbits of Photon in the screenshot.

  • Databases

    • SQLite Release 3.18.0 On 2017-03-30
    • SQLite 3.18 Released With PRAGMA Optimize, Other Enhancements

      SQLite 3.18 is now available as the newest feature release to this open-source embedded database library.

      A prominent addition to SQLite 3.18 is the PRAGMA optimize command. This will attempt to optimize the database and should be called prior to closing the connection to the database. In the future, they plan to add other automated maintenance tasks with this optimize command.

    • EnterpriseDB to Spotlight Value of Combining Oracle and Open Source at COLLABORATE17 – IOUG Forum
    • Announcing the PostgreSQL STIG

      Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) are the configuration standards for United States Department of Defense (DoD) Information Assurance (IA) and IA-enabled devices/systems published by the United States Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). Since 1998, DISA has played a critical role enhancing the security posture of DoD’s security systems by providing the STIGs. The STIGs contain technical guidance to “lock down” information systems/software that might otherwise be vulnerable to a malicious computer attack.

    • Firebird 3.0.2 sub-release is available

      Firebird Project is happy to announce general availability of Firebird 3.0.2 — the second point release in the Firebird 3.0 series.

  • CMS

    • TMI About me

      One of the things I’ve always liked about the Drupal community is its openness to diversity. The tech world in general has a well-documented problem with diversity and Drupal is by no means immune to that, but the Drupal community at least makes a strong effort to buck that trend, very much to its credit and benefit.

      There are gays and lesbians in Drupal, many of whom are open and out about it. There are transgender people involved in Drupal. If event attendance is a guide the community is about 20% women, far lower than most would like but far higher than is typical for Open Source projects. There are people who are polyamorous and people who are asexual. There are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, Agnostics, and probably a few others I’ve not met personally yet. While the community as a whole definitely skews liberal, I know there are plenty of people far to the right of me politically on various topics, as well as far to the left.

      That eclectic background of our community is an asset. Every study shows that teams of mixed backgrounds, along many axes, do better. Even if that mixed environment makes people a bit uncomfortable at times, that’s a benefit. There’s even a session on the topic at DrupalCon Baltimore (that you should all go to).

    • BDSM sex rocks Drupal world: Top dev banished for sci-fi hanky-panky

      A prominent contributor to the open source Drupal content management system has been asked to distance himself from project because “his belief system is inconsistent with [the] project’s goals.”

      The beliefs at issue involve participation in the BDSM and Gorean (NSFW) communities, the latter involving people interested in recreating the culture of male dominance and female sexual servitude depicted in John Norman’s poorly regarded Gor sci-fi novels.

      But because the conflict appears to be a matter of ideas rather than deeds – there are no public allegations of wrongdoing or harm – the Drupal project’s leadership has come under fire for intolerance.

  • Healthcare

    • Slovenia to share healthcare communication toolkit

      The government of Slovenia will make available online healthcare manuals intended to ease communication between medical staff and patients who do not speak Slovenian. The documentation uses pictograms accompanied by texts in seven languages. The material will be used as training material for healthcare professionals in the country.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Open Source License Business Perception Report

      the pain and confusion of common open licenses, roughly quantified

      [...]

      Pain: Inconvenience in incorporating or using software in company products or services. Mostly from compliance with license conditions requiring attribution, identification of changes, provision of source code, and copyleft license terms requirements.

      Confusion: Unfamiliarity with a license’s terms and uncertainty in interpreting what those terms mean. A reflection of license popularity, how long the form has been used, and quality of license drafting.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Pirates Hoist the colours high in Birmingham

        Birmingham spent £188.8 million to promote open access to knowledge with the Library of Birmingham so the city was a fitting setting for those trying to retain and regain these rights that we are quickly losing. Sadly our libraries are now closing and copyright is gaining a tighter strangle-hold on our culture but Pirates know it doesn’t have to be like that.

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia

    • ANSI Releases Schedule of Events for World Standards Week 2017

      The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has announced the schedule of events for World Standards Week (WSW) 2017, which will be held October 16–20 in Washington, DC. WSW is an annual event where members of the standards and conformity assessment community come together in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Bernie Sanders Wants to Expand Medicare to Everybody — Exactly What Its Architects Wanted

      Bernie Sanders doesn’t just want to play defense on health care — he’s introducing a bill that would expand the Medicare program to everybody in America, creating a single-payer health care system.

      Such a system would wipe out inefficiencies in our current, private insurance-run system, and polls very well — yet it is opposed by the health care industry and the Democratic and Republican establishments that relies on them for campaign cash.

      But creating a “Medicare-for-all,” single-payer health insurance system for all Americans would be fulfilling the dream of those who created the Medicare system in the first place in 1965.

    • Kentucky Is on the Verge of Effectively Banning Abortion. Yes, You Read That Right.

      We are going to court to prevent Kentucky from shutting down the last abortion clinic without any medical justification.

      This is not a drill. Kentucky is on the verge of closing the last abortion clinic in the state.

      While attention is focused on the threat to women’s health at the federal level — everything from the Supreme Court nominee’s position on reproductive rights and “defunding” of Planned Parenthood — states are quietly passing abortion restrictions and targeting abortion providers to try to shut them down. We can’t fall for this head fake. The states are running amok, and Kentucky is the most drastic recent example. Come Monday, unless a federal court intervenes, Kentucky will close the last abortion clinic.

    • Bellwether Behavioral Health Is Controversial Group Home Operator AdvoServ — With a New Name

      After two deaths of teenage residents in less than four years, AdvoServ has quietly taken a new name that makes it harder to follow the trail of media coverage, including ours.

    • France Reaches Agreement With Gilead To Drop Prices Of Hepatitis C Treatment

      The French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health announced today that the ministry has negotiated with pharmaceutical company Gilead to bring down the prices of hepatitis C medicines.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Friday
    • Open source devs using GitHub targeted by self-destructing malware [Ed: Lesson of this story? Do not use Microsoft Windows because only Windows-using developers at risk here.]

      The emails had .gz (gzipped) attachments that contained Word documents with malicious macro code attached. The file uses PowerShell commands to download and execute payloads.

    • Data-Stealing [Windows] Malware ‘Dimnie’ Targeting Developers on Github
    • Targeted Malware Takes Aim At GitHub Developers [who use Microsoft Windows]
    • Kubernetes Security Policies Benefit from Best Practices

      How are security vulnerability disclosures handled in the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration and management system? That’s the question that was answered at length in a standing-room only session at the Kubecon/CloudNative EU conference in Berlin. Though the session had the somewhat whimsical title,’ Dance Madly on the Lip of a Volcano with Security Release Processes’ there is particular meaning behind the title.

    • A Brief History of Random Numbers

      “As an instrument for selecting at random, I have found nothing superior to dice,” wrote statistician Francis Galton in an 1890 issue of Nature. “When they are shaken and tossed in a basket, they hurtle so variously against one another and against the ribs of the basket-work that they tumble wildly about, and their positions at the outset afford no perceptible clue to what they will be even after a single good shake and toss.”

    • YubiHSM 2 open beta launched!

      With IT security breaches becoming a staple in daily news reports, organizations big and small alike need to ramp up their defense. More than 95% of all IT breaches happen when a user credential or server gets hacked. While the YubiKey protects user accounts from remote hijacking, millions of servers storing sensitive data still lack physical security.

      Hardware security modules (HSMs) offer the physical protection of servers, but are historically limited by its cost, size, and performance. The YubiHSM 2 breaks that mold with its extensive range of use cases. Applications include protecting data centers, cloud server infrastructures, manufacturing and industrial products and services, and many more.

    • When the ‘S’ in HTTPS also stands for shady

      Just when we’d learned the importance of HTTPS in address bars, spammers and malicious hackers have figured out how to game the system.

      Let’s Encrypt is an automated service that lets people turn their old unencrypted URLs into safely encrypted HTTPS addresses with a type of file called a certificate. It’s terrific, especially because certificates are expensive (overpriced, actually) and many people can’t afford them. So it’s easy to argue that the Let’s Encrypt service has done more than we may ever realize to strengthen the security of the internet and users everywhere.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Journalists sue Trump over ‘kill list’ designations: report

      Two journalists are suing President Trump and other top U.S. officials, claiming that they are on the government’s “kill list” of individuals targeted for drone strikes, Politico reported Thursday.

      The journalists, former Al Jazeera Islamabad bureau chief Ahmad Zaidan and freelance journalist Bilal Kareem, say in the lawsuit that they were placed on the “kill list” by the Obama administration, a decision maintained by the Trump White House.

      Kareem claims he has nearly died in five separate airstrikes over the year, while Zaidan, who has reported extensively on al Qaeda and interviewed the terrorist group’s now-deceased leader, Osama bin Laden, multiple times, says he is on the “kill list” because he was improperly designated as a member of the group, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood.

    • [Old] Bishop visit to West Papua welcomed cautiously

      Indonesia is accused by the Movement of waging slow-motion genocide in Papua.

      The West Papuan representative group cites evidence of simmering armed conflict, unrest, extra-judicial killings and jailings of Papuans, and marginalisation of their culture.

    • Aiding Saudi Arabia’s Slaughter in Yemen

      President Trump is following the same path as his predecessor, bowing to the Saudi royal family and helping in their brutal war against Yemen, as Gareth Porter described to Dennis J Bernstein.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Pamela Anderson’s ‘love’ for Julian Assange

      Pamela Anderson has talked of her “love” for Julian Assange, calling him “the most famous refugee of our time”.

      The former Baywatch star wrote about the Wikileaks founder on her blog.

      She said that her relationship with Mr Assange, 45, was “no secret” and that he was “one of my favourite people”.

      The post comes five months after Ms Anderson, 49, was seen delivering lunch to him at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where Mr Assange has lived for almost five years.

      He claimed asylum there in 2012, in order to avoid extradition to Sweden.

      Mr Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden over a sex allegation, which he denies.

    • Skavlan, Sweden

      Sweden must feels a tremendous responsibility to America -
      to give him up?
      Which is a shame.

      Julian is a human being who is extremely empathetic and cares deeply about the world.
      And -
      because of his work .
      He has made some powerful enemies in a few countries- America especially
      by exposing them.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Ex-Cyclone Debbie: four feared missing in Queensland, two dead in NSW

      Authorities are concerned four missing people may have fallen victim to floodwaters brought on by ex-cyclone Debbie in Queensland.

      Queensland State Disaster coordinator deputy commissioner Stephen Gollschewski said desperate searches were underway in the state’s southeast corner.

      Two women have died in flood waters in northern New South Wales.

      “We currently have four people missing about whom we have serious concerns and have deployed significant resources of emergency services to search for those persons,” Gollschewski said.

    • Van Jones: Trump may have signed Earth’s death warrant [iophk: "warning for autoplay"]

      Trump may have just signed a death warrant for our planet (at least, for a planet that is liveable for humans). And the lies he told to justify it have real consequences for real Americans, here and now.

    • Pollution

      Blair should rather take a lesson from Ghana, which is celebrating its sixtieth year of existence and has never invaded another country. Doubtless, beneath his hypocritical witterings, he is as always sniffing around for money and trying to leverage himself into Ghana’s oil, gold or bauxite sectors.

  • Finance

    • Female sex workers should be thought of in same way as male soldiers and boxers, Cambridge academic says

      Victoria Bateman insisted that women have as much right as men to earn money from their bodies, arguing that economists were “inconsistent” in their treatment of the “largely female profession” compared with male-dominated occupations such as “soldiering and boxing”.

    • Brexit: EU says no to free trade talks until ‘progress’ on final terms

      EU leaders have said there will be no talks on Britain’s future relationship with the bloc until the UK government makes “sufficient progress” on the Brexit divorce, including settling its bills and citizens’ rights.

    • Amazon and Walmart are in an all-out price war that is terrifying America’s biggest brands [iophk: "neither pay their workers a livable wage"]

      The result in recent months has been a high-stakes race to the bottom between Walmart and Amazon that seems great for shoppers, but has consumer packaged goods brands feeling the pressure.

    • NGOs Detail Changes For Public Health In RCEP Asian Trade Pact

      Concerns continue to grow among civil society about provisions in a major trade agreement in the Asian region. Of specific worry is the intellectual property chapter containing in particular a data exclusivity clause, and the linkage between the investment chapter and the IP chapter.

    • Mexican peso almost recovered from Trump plunge

      On Friday, one dollar equaled about 18.70 pesos. On Nov. 8, it was worth 18.50 pesos.

      But at one point after Trump’s win, a dollar equaled nearly 22 pesos — a major swing for a currency. The day after the election the peso plummeted 11%.

      Why has the peso enjoyed such a massive rebound? Investors believe the most severe of Trump’s trade threats may not come to fruition. And Mexico’s central bank has taken steps to buoy the battered currency.

    • Trump Trauma

      Corporate rule is not only disenfranchising people worldwide, it is fueling climate change, destroying cultural and biological diversity, and replacing community with consumerism. These are undoubtedly scary times. Yet the very fact that the crises we face are linked can be the source of genuine empowerment. Once we understand the systemic nature of our problems, the path towards solving them – simultaneously – becomes clear.

      [...]

      Around the world, from the USA to India, from China to Australia, people are reweaving the social and economic fabric at the local level and are beginning to feel the profound environmental, economic, social and even spiritual benefits. Local business alliances, local finance initiatives, locally-based education and energy schemes, and, most importantly, local food movements are springing up at an exponential rate.

    • NAFTA Kills: Who will Speak for the Working Class?

      The report reinforces many other studies documenting the devastating impact of nearly three decades of deindustrialization (read NAFTA) and automation on Americans with high school education or less. According to Dr. Case: “This doesn’t seem to be just about income. This is about accumulating despair for these people.” The numbers are hard to credit: “In 1999 white men and women aged 50-54 with a high school education had a mortality rate 30 per cent lower than black Americans. In 2015 it was 30 per cent higher.” (There was no indication that the situation for Blacks and Hispanics actually improved.) The numbers are similar for all age groups from 25 – 64.

      The gravity of the changes are unique to the US where deindustrialization has been most dramatic and where slack labour standards, low unionization rates, a tattered social safety net and expensive health insurance make less educated workers extremely vulnerable. According to the two researchers Canada along with Britain, the UK, Australia and Germany are still seeing declining death rates.

    • NAFTA Renegotiation Will Resurrect Failed TPP Proposals

      On copyright, the letter promises to “seek commitments from the NAFTA countries to strengthen their laws and procedures on enforcement of intellectual property rights, such as by ensuring that their authorities have authority to seize and destroy pirated and counterfeit goods, equipment used to make such goods, and documentary evidence.” On e-commerce, it commits to tackling “measures that impede digital trade in goods and services, restrict cross-border data flows, or require local storage or processing of data, including with respect to financial services”.

      Both of these are consistent with the wholesale transfer of TPP obligations into NAFTA, although they are annoyingly vague about what specific rules the U.S. will be including, other than the examples given. However it is worth noting that in at least one respect—the extension of the data localization ban to the financial industry—the letter proposes going beyond what was contained in the TPP. Exclusion of the financial services industry from those rules was one of the main sticking points with the TPP for Republicans while Obama was promoting it.

      The USTR letter also indicates that the administration intends to maintain the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions of NAFTA, which allowed pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly to sue Canada for the country’s decision not to grant two drug patents. Although Canada recently won that case, the ability for foreign companies to challenge legislation and court decisions that go against their financial interests was one of the TPP’s most controversial provisions, and will remain divisive as the NAFTA renegotiation goes forward.

    • Trump’s ‘Buy American’ Pledge May Be At Risk With His Border Wall

      In one of his first tweets as president, here’s how Donald Trump promised to spend taxpayer dollars:

      “We will follow two simple rules: BUY AMERICAN & HIRE AMERICAN!” he tweeted 55 minutes after taking the oath of office on Inauguration Day.

      In the first big test of that pledge, here’s the reality: The Trump administration has opened the doors for firms from Mexico, El Salvador and other free-trade treaty countries to supply big-ticket items for the wall, the barrier along the United States’ southern border that Trump made a centerpiece of his campaign.

      [...]

      Allowing the wall to be built with non-American materials is no oversight — it’s what is required under U.S. trade law.

      “If we’re going to comply with our trade agreements, you can’t say we’re only going to buy American,” said Jean Heilman Grier, the U.S. representative who negotiated procurement issues with the World Trade Organization and other international trade treaty partners.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Threats of Video Game Censorship Need to Stop

      I do not care for censorship in any sort of art form, no matter what it is. I fully believe that artists should have final say in what they pour their heart and soul into. Whether or not the consumer wishes to experience whatever the artist has created should be left up to said consumer. If someone does not want to listen to an explicit song, they should listen to the clean version. If someone does not want naked breasts in their film, they should stay away from movies that are rated R for frontal nudity.

      [...]

      The threat of censorship is typically enough to get a developer to change their game’s tune. Some development teams flaunt such accusations of course (nearly the entire marketing campaign for Saints Row IV was based around their Australian censorship) but most shy away from being labeled as negatively controversial. Better to censor the content or change it to something less inflammatory prior to release then face negative press and a possible loss of sale upon release.

    • Reddit defends against accusations of ad fraud and Trump censorship

      The influential social media site Reddit.com, which has hundreds of millions of users, came under fresh fire today for allegedly discriminating against users of the pro-Trump section of the site called /r/The_Donald. Critics accused Reddit of under-reporting how many “subscribers” the section has while telling advertisers that the section has a much higher number of users.

    • Why elite universities are so illiberal

      If we want a culture of free speech on campus, academics need to lead the way in showing students how to challenge, not shut down, viewpoints they disagree with. University students are paying for education, not daycare, and that means having freedom of speech, not freedom from speech.

    • If you publish Georgia’s state laws, you’ll get sued for copyright and lose

      Open-records activist Carl Malamud bought a hard copy, and it cost him $1,207.02 after shipping and taxes. A copy on CD was $1,259.41. The “good” news for Georgia residents is that they’ll only have to pay $385.94 to buy a printed set from LexisNexis.

    • The Hungarian government’s war on free speech

      The Central European University – a Hungarian-US accredited private institution based in Budapest and a recognized contributor to Hungarian and international research, has been the target of an increasingly hostile attitude from the Hungarian authorities over the past months.

      As Prime Minister Viktor Orban tightened his grip on power, acquiring broad control over the media, a concerted, gradual attack on financier turned philanthropist George Soros – CEU’s founder and endowment provider, has been launched, culminating this week with a legislative proposal that would essentially strong-arm the University into leaving Budapest.

      Among other requirements under the new law, CEU would have to operate under a binding bilateral agreement between Hungary and the U.S. and open a fully functional campus in the State of New York. In a public response to the proposal, CEU substantiated its allegations that the legislative project is overtly discriminatory and punitive, meant to affect CEU alone, despite the government’s claim that it applies to all foreign universities operating in Hungary.

    • The case for a new Film Censorship Board
    • Beauty and the Beast censorship attempt shows the good, the bad and the ugly of LGBT rights in Malaysia
    • Are ‘gay moments’ in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Power Rangers’ progress?
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Trump supports repeal of Internet privacy protections

      White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the repeal ensures Internet service providers are treated the same as online businesses like Facebook (FB, Tech30) and Google (GOOGL, Tech30), which are not required to receive permission from users.

    • Post-FCC Privacy Rules, Should You VPN?

      I’m happy if this issue raises the general level of public awareness about privacy and the need for Internet users everywhere to take a more active role in preserving it. And VPNs can be a useful tool for protecting one’s privacy online. However, it’s important to understand the limitations of this technology, and to take the time to research providers before entrusting them with virtually all your browsing data — and possibly even compounding your privacy woes in the process.

    • First Amendment Institute Sues Government Over Records Related To Border Device Searches

      Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute wants to know why device searches at the border have skyrocketed since the beginning of this year. As was reported earlier this month, the number of devices searched in February 2017 equals the total searched in all of 2015. Even last year’s jump from 5,000 to 25,000 searches looks miniscule in comparison. Border device searches are on track to more than double last year’s numbers. (h/t The Intercept)

      The Knight First Amendment Institute filed FOIA requests with the DHS, ICE, and CBP for “statistical, policy, and assessment records” related to the steep increase in device searches. It’s also looking for any legal interpretations the agencies might have on hand that explain their take on the Supreme Court’s Riley decision, which instituted a warrant requirement for cell phone searches.

    • Oversight Committee Finds FBI’s Facial Recognition Database Still Filled With Innocent People, Still Wrong 15% Of The Time

      The House Oversight Committee finally took on the FBI’s Facial Recognition Program and discovered what critics have been saying about it for years: it’s broken, filled with innocent Americans, and completely out of control.

    • This Is Almost Certainly James Comey’s Twitter Account

      As far as finding Comey’s Twitter goes, the only hint he offered was the fact that he has “to be on Twitter now,” meaning that the account would likely be relatively new. Regarding his Instagram identity, though, Comey gave us quite a bit more to work with [...]

    • How A Little Metadata Made It Possible To Find FBI Director James Comey’s Secret Twitter Account

      For a few years now, our intelligence overseers have been insisting that we shouldn’t be too concerned about surveillance programs that collect “just metadata” because that doesn’t really reveal too much. But, of course, we’ve shown how “just metadata” can ruin a career diplomat’s life, and former NSA/CIA boss Michael Hayden has admitted that the US kills people based on metadata.

      Either way, I find it fascinating that reporter Ashley Feinberg needed just a few small bits of innocent metadata from FBI Director James Comey to track down his secret Twitter account. It took her all of four hours or so. Just last night, Comey admitted that he was on Twitter, leading lots of people to go searching for the account since there is no official one. I won’t describe all of how Feinberg tracked it down (it involves some pretty excellent sleuthing and is worth reading) but suffice it to say, it’s metadata that gives Comey away.

    • EU Plans To Weaken Encrypted Communications Despite Countless Warnings It Can’t Be Done Safely

      Last week, the UK’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that WhatsApp risked becoming a “place for terrorists to hide.” Then, like many others that have used this tired old trope, she went on to call for the development of some magic unicorn key to unlock all encrypted communications, one that was somehow available only to those on the side of truth, beauty, law and order, and not to the other lot. In doing so, her cluelessness was particularly evident, as her invocation of the “necessary hashtags” emphasized, but she’s not alone in that. Despite the chorus of experts pointing out for the thousandth time why it’s not possible, the EU Justice Commissioner has just said that the EU must have magic unicorn keys, too.

    • Privacy worries over Romania’s eID data

      The government of Romania should shore up its eID data protection rules, says the Association for Technology and Internet (Asociația pentru Tehnologie și Internet, APTI), following its analysis of the latest government proposals. “The documents raise more questions than answers”, the NGO writes.

    • Thanks to repeal of FCC online privacy rules, Android phones on Verizon will soon come with pre-installed spyware called Appflash

      Appflash’s privacy policy confirms that the app collects “your mobile number, device identifiers, device type and operating system, and information about the AppFlash features and services you use and your interactions with them…[and] information about the list of apps you have on your device” — and that data is used by “non-Verizon sites, services and devices.”

    • UPDATE: Verizon Software on Android Phones
    • EFF: Verizon will install spyware on all its Android phones (update)

      Who’d have thought that just days after the house rolled back privacy protections for internet users, ISPs would take advantage? The EFF did, pointing out that Verizon has already announced that it will install spyware, in the form of the launcher AppFlash, across its users’ Android devices in the coming weeks. AppFlash, as TechCrunch reports, will embed itself to the left of your home screen, offering details on local restaurants, movies or apps that you can download.

    • New Report Aims to Help Criminal Defense Attorneys Challenge Secretive Government Hacking

      Lawyers at EFF, the ACLU, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers released a report today outlining strategies for challenging law enforcement hacking, a technique of secretly and remotely spying on computer users to gather evidence. Federal agents are increasingly using this surveillance technique, and the report will help those targeted by government malware—and importantly their attorneys—fight to keep illegally-obtained evidence out of court.

      A recent change in little-known federal criminal court procedures, which was quietly pushed by the Justice Department, has enabled federal agents to use a single warrant to remotely search hundreds or thousands of computers without having to specify whose information is being captured or where they are. We expect these changes to result in much greater use of the technique, and the guide will arm attorneys with information necessary to defend their clients and ensure that law enforcement hacking complies with the Constitution and other laws.

    • Vault 7: WikiLeaks releases third tranche of CIA files

      In a statement, WikiLeaks said Marble was used by the spy agency to “hamper forensic investigators and anti-virus companies from attributing viruses, trojans and hacking attacks to the CIA”.

    • WikiLeaks releases Marble source code, used by the CIA to hide the source of malware it deployed

      Now we have Marble to look at. A collection of 676 source code files, the Marble cache reveals details of the CIA’s Marble Framework tool, used to hide the true source of CIA malware, and sometimes going as far as appearing to originate from countries other than the US.

    • Marble Framework

      Today, March 31st 2017, WikiLeaks releases Vault 7 “Marble” — 676 source code files for the CIA’s secret anti-forensic Marble Framework. Marble is used to hamper forensic investigators and anti-virus companies from attributing viruses, trojans and hacking attacks to the CIA.

      Marble does this by hiding (“obfuscating”) text fragments used in CIA malware from visual inspection. This is the digital equivallent of a specalized CIA tool to place covers over the english language text on U.S. produced weapons systems before giving them to insurgents secretly backed by the CIA.

    • Uzbekistan: Tentacles of mass surveillance spread across borders

      The Uzbekistani government is conducting unlawful surveillance of its citizens and fostering a climate of fear and uncertainty for Uzbekistani people in Europe, said Amnesty International in a new report launched today.

      ‘We Will Find You, Anywhere’ looks at the impact of unlawful government surveillance on the lives of seven Uzbekistani people, living within and outside the country.

    • EU to target encrypted apps
    • Trackers could unmask dark web {sic} users who think they’re anonymous

      The group found close links between the dark web and surface web. More than 20 per cent of the 1.5 million dark web pages they analysed imported resources like pictures, documents and Javascript files from surface websites.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • If I’m Islamophobic, what’s my punishment?

      Here is my question to MP Khalid, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

      Am I indulging in “Islamophobia” if I publicly choose to dissociate myself from the following two verses of the Qur’an?

    • 21 Year Old Iranian Sentenced to Death for Insulting Prophet Muhammad

      An all too familiar story. Via Radio Farda [in Persian]: According to a number of pro-human rights websites, the Iranian Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Sina Dehghan, 21 year old prisoner in the city of Arak, for insulting the Prophet Muhammad. He used to insult the prophet in social networks. When he was arrested, he was only 19.

    • Muslim councillors in Meerut walk out during Vande Mataram, membership terminated

      The seven Muslim councillors of the House had walked out on Tuesday when other members started singing the national song.

    • Kuwaiti woman held for filming maid attempting suicide

      The oil-rich Gulf state is home to more than 600,000 domestic helpers, a majority of them Asians, many of whom complain of abuse, mistreatment and non-payment of wages.

    • Despite refugee status, Amos Yee remains in detention due to possible appeal against his asylum

      Amos Yee’s dream of being free to shit on all religions without legal consequences came true last week when he was granted political asylum in the United States.

    • Update on Amos Yee’s detention by Grossman Law

      Below is an update published by Singaporean blogger Amos Yee’s attorney, Sandra Grossman from Grossman Law, LLC

    • Joint statement by CAN and Think Centre on Amos Yee’s extended detention by US officals

      Respect asylum claim judgement and release Amos Yee from extended detention

    • Amos Yee’s asylum – MHA distorts US court’s decision

      Singapore tries to spin out of its embarrassment over the United States court decision to grant asylum to Amos Yee by presenting it as an endorsement of “hate speech”. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) called it “the prerogative of the US to take in such people who engage in hate speech”, and went on to warn that “many more such people… who deliberately engage in hate speech” would be applying for asylum in the US.

    • An outspoken Singaporean blogger wins asylum in America

      LIKE many teenage boys, Amos Yee, a Singaporean blogger, is crude, insensitive and confrontational. In 2015, just days after the death of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founder and long-time leader, Mr Yee posted a profanity-laced video to his YouTube channel calling Lee “a horrible person”, an “awful leader” and a “dictator”. For a small part of that video (around 30 of its 519 seconds), he also mocked Christianity. He challenged Lee Hsien Loong, Lee’s son and Singapore’s current prime minister, to “come at me, motherfucker”.

    • Immigrant Still In Custody Despite Judge’s Ruling In Favor Of Asylum

      It’s been almost a week since an immigration judge in Chicago ruled that an 18-year-old from Singapore should be granted asylum here, but the teenager has yet to be released from federal custody.

      Last Friday, after the immigration judge in Chicago ruled in favor of Amos Yee, his pro bono attorney Sandra Grossman thought he’d be freed from detention by Monday.

    • Singaporean teenage blogger who was jailed for his posts criticizing his government is granted asylum in the US

      Amos Yee has been detained by federal immigration authorities since December when he was taken into custody at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Attorneys said the 18-year-old could be released from a Wisconsin detention center as early as Monday.

    • Don’t Arm School Police

      There is an emerging national debate about school policing. It is not about whether school police should be armed but about how best to improve school environments and ensure student success while minimizing unnecessary student arrests. Emerging best practices aim to reduce police involvement in routine disciplinary school matters, ensure fairness in disciplinary processes, and increase the ratio of counselors and student support services to cops.

      Sadly, while many communities explore how to improve school climates by building trusting relationships between adults and students, Pittsburgh debates the arming of school police.

      A recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial and a resolution adopted by the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers’ executive board both put forth troubling arguments that are at odds with what we know about school policing.

    • Poor New Yorkers Get Lost in the State’s Broken Public Defense System

      Gov. Cuomo has just one day left to pass a budget that adequately funds New York’s public defense system.

      New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls his state “the progressive capital of the nation,” but when it comes to public defense, New York is anything but.

      The New York Civil Liberties Union released a video last week, calling on Gov. Cuomo and legislators to overhaul and properly fund the state’s failing public defense system. New York state leaves responsibility for public defense to its counties, creating an underfunded, patchwork, and unconstitutional system in which poor New Yorkers accused of crimes often do not receive adequate legal representation. Under the Sixth Amendment, every person is guaranteed an attorney regardless of their ability to pay. The new 60-second video, #LostInTheSystem, comes as the New York State legislature considers public defense within the state budget process, with a looming March 31 deadline.

    • Texas Can No Longer Fabricate Its Own Medical Standards To Justify Executions

      Moore was 20 years old in 1980 when he was involved with two others in the botched robbery of the Birdsall Super Market in Houston that ended with the shooting death of a 70-year-old store clerk. Less than three months later Moore was sentenced to death for his role in the crime.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • What was the speed of your first internet connection?

      Without that connection, slow as it felt, I never would have had the opportunity to discover Linux, or open source, or any of the many wondering pieces of our connected global culture that are only possible because of shared experience. And yet, I have to remind myself regularly, there are many people without this basic level of access, both across the globe and around the block. I’m excited by open source projects seeking to put a dent in this problem of global information access through mesh networking, distributed server projects like FreedomBox, and other projects working to bridge the digital divide.

  • DRM

    • Amazon Bans Sales of “Pirate” Media Players, Will Destroy Them

      Amazon is taking a tough stance against vendors who sell fully-loaded Kodi boxes and other “pirate” media players through its platform. The store now explicitly bans media players that “promote” or “suggest” the facilitation of piracy. Sellers who violate this policy, of which there are still a few around, risk having their inventory destroyed.

      [...]

      While Kodi itself is a neutral platform, [...]

    • #DialUp the Web’s inventor for online security and rights

      On April 13th, that may change. Unless we can stop it, the W3C will welcome a new wave of user-hostile DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) onto the Web, making it harder than ever for us to be secure and free online.

    • With two weeks until the final vote, the Free Software Foundation wants you to call the W3C and say no to DRM

      There’s only two weeks left until members of the World Wide Web Consortium vote on whether the web’s premier open standards organization will add DRM to the toolkit available to web developers, without effecting any protections for people who discover security vulnerabilities that affect billions of web users, let alone people who adapt web tools for those with disabilities and people who create legitimate, innovative new technologies to improve web video.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Brewery Looks To Reform Trademark Practices After Its Lawyers Bully A Pub Over Its Name

        As is commonly said, mistakes happen and it’s what we do about those mistakes that is important. Too often when the mistakes are concerning trademark bullying, there is nothing done to acknowledge or address that bullying. The bully will simply state the oft-repeated excuse that they must bully according to trademark law, which isn’t remotely the case. And, because there is no acknowledgement that anything was done wrong, the bullying then continues.

        Well, after a recent dust-up over trademarks between BrewDog, a self-styled “punk brewery,” and a family-owned pub, it seems that the brewery is actually going all in on reforming how it approaches trademark issues, and even intellectual property more generally.

    • Copyrights

      • Parents Must Identify Pirate Kids Or Pay Their Fines, Court Rules

        If parents are aware that their children have committed copyright infringement they must identify them to the court if required to do so, or pay their fines. That was the ruling of Germany’s Federal Court of Justice this week in a case concerning the unlawful distribution of ‘Loud’ by Rihanna, carried out by a minor in 2011.

      • Kenyan Government Axes Corrupt Copyright Collection Group, Replaces It With New Collection Group That Will Surely Be Less Corrupt

        While copyright collection societies the world over tend to be good hosts for the disease of corruption, not all corruption is equal. These collection groups often like to jack up fees when someone points out that they actually have to do their job, to threaten businesses in the most insane ways, and also to, oops, sometimes just totally forget to pay the artists they purport to benefit. Over in Kenya, however, the dominant copyright collection group, MCSK, went for and hit the corruption trifecta by engaging in all of three at the same time. Not a good look for anyone who thinks these collection groups have a role to play for artists.

      • Spotify (Basically) Tells Its Free Users, ‘Go Pirate!’

        Spotify is pulling the plug on free access to some artists’ newest releases, according to The Guardian. Currently, Spotify’s 50 million paid users fork over £10/month to play their music offline without ads, but now they’re also getting exclusive access to artists’ biggest new releases. Meanwhile, Spotify’s other 50 million free users have their access suddenly restricted.

        [...]

        Because Spotify’s decision affects 50 million users, this move could create huge waves for both Spotify and the music industry as a whole, since it could encourage users to regress from free (and legal) methods to their familiar free (and illegal) methods. Most everyone knows you can type in “Taylor Swift discography torrent” into Google and get years of Taylor Swift’s music in minutes without paying Spotify, record labels, or Taylor Swift. So what will happen when 50 million users you’ve been slowly leading away from piracy suddenly feel like they’ve been left out in the cold?

      • If You’re Going To Forge A Fake Court Order To Delete Search Results, Maybe Don’t Choose A Prenda Case

        Eugene Volokh, just recently teamed up with Paul Levy to track down who was behind a scam abusing the court system with forged or fraudulent court documents to get questionable or fake court orders to force Google to takedown links. It’s a sketchy (and illegal) “reputation management” trick and it appears that at least a few folks are doing it. Volokh has just spotted another one and it comes with a Prenda Law twist.

      • US Congress Considers Plan For Presidential Appointment Of Copyright Register
      • Register of Copyrights: Amending the Process of Selection

        The background for the changes stems from the recognition that the Register of Copyrights is currently seen essentially as an at-will employee of the Librarian of Congress – who is not really focused on IP Policy or Efficiency.

      • EFF Says No to So-Called “Moral Rights” Copyright Expansion

        Thanks to the First Amendment and longstanding copyright limitations, copyright holders don’t have the legal right to prevent others from using their works to express messages that they disagree with or find offensive, nor do they have a right to prevent someone who lawfully purchases a copy of their work from reselling it, repurposing it, or destroying it entirely.

        That’s because copyright law in the United States doesn’t provide authors the ability to launch lawsuits over their “moral rights” (except for some works of visual art covered by the Visual Artists Rights’ Act). And that’s a good thing – by limiting authors’ abilities to control how their works are used, U.S. copyright law creates space for downstream creators and users to adapt and remix existing works to create new interpretations and meanings, without facing a veto from the original author. It also allows those who own physical copies of copyrighted works to use those copies in the ways that make most sense for them – they can annotate them, take them apart and reassemble them into new creations, give them away, or even destroy them.

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts