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04.07.17

Links 7/4/2017: Canonical Layoffs, GNOME Paint Coming

Posted in News Roundup at 4:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Chiosi: Open Source Necessary, Not Sufficient

    Margaret Chiosi has long been an open source advocate, but the former AT&T, now Huawei, executive acknowledged here today that open source by itself is not enough — and the gap between what it provides and what carrier-class products require is an industry challenge.

    “You have all these open source pieces — they are great initial pieces, but you can’t just clean it up and run it, because it’s not complete,” Chiosi said, in an interview following her keynote presentation here. “The challenge for the industry is how do we get from here to production — there are a lot of gaps.”

    Chiosi’s comments echo those made earlier in the week by another staunch open source proponent, Guru Parulkar, a founder of ONS and current executive director of the Open Networking Foundation. Parulkar noted the resources gap between what open source can deliver — code, proofs-of-concept and lab trials — and the commercialization and hardening processes needed to take products to market. (See Open Source Boom Not Without Challenges.)

  • Telecoms copying cloud providers make beeline for open source, say analysts
  • Open Networking Takes Next Steps Up the Stack
  • AT&T’s Rice: ONAP will help the industry take advantage of ECOMP and Open-O
  • How ONAP Will Merge Millions of Lines of Code from ECOMP and Open-O
  • ONS 2017 Tracks Progress of Open Source Networking Projects
  • Open Source, Cybersecurity, Fintech Relationships: A Look Back at the North American Trading Architecture Summit

    This year’s North American Trading Architecture Summit was packed full of great insight from industry leaders in financial technology.

    Another Waters conference has come and gone, and yet again I’m left with plenty to chew on. The North American Trading Architecture Summit (NATAS) is particularly special for me, as it’s geared more toward the sell side.

  • HackerOne CEO: The tech industry has some ‘catching up to do’ on software security

    Remember the open source adage that “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow?” Well, open source hasn’t quite worked out that way. Heartbleed, Shellshock, and a host of other security holes have made open source, for all its virtues, look somewhat ordinary when it comes to bugginess and security.

    At least, that’s one way to read the data.

    According to open source business luminary and HackerOne CEO Marten Mickos, however, open source absolutely has delivered better security than its proprietary peers. Perhaps even more important, however, is how open source enables bug bounty programs launched by HackerOne and others to be dramatically more successful than they could be in a closed-source context.

  • Events

    • Speak at The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit North America in L.A.

      Four events, one name: LinuxCon, ContainerCon, CloudOpen and the all-new Community Leadership Conference have combined to form one big event: Open Source Summit North America. The rebranded event, to be held Sept. 11-13 in Los Angeles, will feature a broader range of open source topics, and be more inclusive than ever.

      Each of the four conference areas bring a different part of the open source community to the table, providing a holistic overview of the industry for attendees of the new Open Source Summit.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • It’s Time for Open Citations

        Today, Mozilla is announcing support for the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC), an effort to make citation data from scholarly publications open and freely accessible.

        We’re proud to stand alongside the Wikimedia Foundation, the Public Library of Science and a network of other like-minded institutions, publishers and researchers who believe knowledge should be free from restrictions. We want to create a global, public web of citation data — one that empowers teaching, learning, innovation and progress.

        Currently, much of the citation data in scholarly publications is not easily accessible. From geology and chemistry journals to papers on psychology, the citations within are often subject to restrictive and confusing licenses which limit discovery and dissemination of published research. Further, citation data is often not machine readable — meaning we can’t use computer programs to parse the data.

        Mozilla understands that in some cases, scholarly publications themselves must be protected or closed in order to respect proprietary ecosystems and business models. But citations are snippets of knowledge that allow everyone to engage with, evaluate and build upon ideas. When citations are inaccessible, the flow of knowledge stalls. Innovation is chilled. The results are damaging.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Uber’s open source data visualization tool now goes beyond maps

      You may not be aware, but Uber offers an open source version of the data visualization framework it uses internally, called deck.gl. The tool was made available to anyone via open source license last November, and now it’s getting some key updates that should help make it more useful to external teams and individuals looking for interesting ways to take their data and turn it into compelling visual representations.

  • Mastodon

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • What living off the grid taught me about openness

      A sip of maple water, drawn straight from a steel bucket in the forest is electric; it’s icy crisp, not too sweet, and tastes like trees and sky distilled into light. Perched on snowshoes, sweetly freezing your butt in the sugarbush, it’s like a trickle of forest energy down your throat.

    • Open Access/Content

      • New Large-Scale Initiative Aims To Increase Open Access To Scholarly Research

        The Wikimedia Foundation, Public Library of Science (PLoS), and other publishers and research organisations have announced an initiative aimed at increase the amount of scholarly citation data freely available online, called the Initiative for Open Citations.

        The I4OC initiative is accessible here. At present, there are 66 participating organisations, including 29 publishers and 33 stakeholders, including the Wellcome Trust, Mozilla, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

      • European Commission May Join Gates Foundation And Wellcome Trust In Becoming An Open Access Publisher

        Open access isn’t a new idea — the term was first defined back in 2002, and arguably the first examples go back even further to the founding of arXiv.org in 1991 (pdf). And yet progress towards making all academic knowledge freely available has been frustratingly slow, largely because hugely-profitable publishers have been fighting it every inch of the way. In response to that intransigence, academics have come up with a variety of approaches, including boycotts, mass cancellation of subscriptions, new kinds of overlay journals and simply making everything available with or without permission.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Solving the cross-platform emoji problem

      However, as nice as they look on some platforms, not everyone is able to see emoji in the same way. Even though Unicode declares a standard to ensure that characters are strictly defined and are compatible across any system that uses Unicode, they aren’t responsible for the design of emoji.

Leftovers

  • EC updates DESI – digital ranking of Member States

    When it comes to digitisation of public services, Europe’s top-three Member States are Estonia, Finland and the Netherlands, according to the EC’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), published on 8 March.

  • Introduction of new Danish eID again delayed
  • Hardware

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • LMAOxUS Ransomware: Another Case of Weaponized Open Source Ransomware

      An Indian developer is playing around with an open source ransomware builder, which in the long run may end up causing serious problems for innocent users.

      This developer, who goes by the nickname of Empinel and claims to be based in Mumbai, has forked the open source code of the EDA2 project, and with the help of another user, has removed the backdoor hidden in EDA2′s original code.

    • Google Patches Android Security Vulnerabilities in April Update

      Google is out with its April 2017 Android security update, patching 102 different vulnerabilities in the mobile operating system. Of the vulnerabilities patched by Google this month, only 15 are rated as having critical impact.

      Not surprisingly, the mediasever component is once again being patched by Google. The Android mediasever has been patched in every Android security update issued by Google since August 2015. In the new April update, mediaserver accounts for 15 flaws in total, including six rated as critical, five as high and four with only moderate impact.

    • Can you trust Linux-based Tizen OS?
    • Insecure Samsung Tizen is riddled with security flaws
    • CloudLinux 6 Users Get New Stable Kernel Security Update to Fix CVE-2016-10229

      Following on the recent stable and Beta kernel releases for the CloudLinux 7 operating system series, CloudLinux’s Mykola Naugolnyi announced earlier the availability of a new stable kernel update for CloudLinux 6 users.

      The new, updated kernel version 2.6.32-673.26.1.lve1.4.25 is out as of April 6, 2017, and it appears to patch a Linux kernel vulnerability discovered in the udp.c file, which affects kernel versions smaller than 4.5, including the Linux 2.6 kernel running on CloudLinux 6 and CloudLinux 5 Hybrid operating systems.

    • Windows ransomware variant targets healthcare sector [iophk: "Microsoft"]

      Philadelphia is believed to be a new version of the ransomware known as Stampado.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Killing Our Way to Victory

      To wage the global war on terrorism, the leaders of the United States have settled on one basic strategy. Taking advantage of their extraordinary military power, they have tried to kill their way to victory.

      Many in Washington believe the strategy is correct. They argue the terrorists are inherently evil and must be vanquished from the planet. In the case of the Islamic State, both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump have insisted that the only way to deal with the group is to forcefully eradicate it from the face of the Earth.

    • Another Dangerous Rush to Judgment in Syria

      With the latest hasty judgment about Tuesday’s poison-gas deaths in a rebel-held area of northern Syria, the mainstream U.S. news media once more reveals itself to be a threat to responsible journalism and to the future of humanity. Again, we see the troubling pattern of verdict first, investigation later, even when that behavior can lead to a dangerous war escalation and many more deaths.

    • Donald Trump’s War Crimes

      Just two and a half months into his presidency, Donald Trump has already distinguished himself as a war criminal. His administration is killing unusually large numbers of civilians, in violation of US and international law.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Hacked legal data retains privacy status

      The Court of Appeal has ruled that restricted legal documents posted on the WikiLeaks website do not lose their confidential status.

      To rule otherwise would be to encourage hacking and pilferage of such material, it said.

      The apex court was clarifying the issue in its ruling in favour of a company, which had sought to expunge confidential e-mails culled from WikiLeaks by a former employee who was being sued by the firm. The ex-staff wanted to use the documents as part of his defence.

    • Kissinger and the CIA discussed ways to limit Congressional access to information regarding the Agency’s activities

      Leaks from the government and even Congress itself are nothing new. As shown by a declassified memo describing a meeting between Henry Kissinger and CIA Director William Colby, these concerns were among the very ones facing the White House, the Rockefeller Commission and the Church Committee in the mid-1970s

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • FLOOD-serv project: Public FLOOD Emergency and Awareness SERVice – 2nd Newsletter Issue now available!

      FLOOD-serv project (www.floodserv-project.eu) is an EU co-funded project which started in August 2016 and will be running for 36 months. It aims to provide a complete solution for flood awareness, response actions as well as education regarding flood risks. Through the use of different mobile technologies, the project will make information available in a transparent manner in order to increase the openness of ICT-based technology platforms in the public sector.

    • Koch Brothers’ Operatives Fill Top White House Positions, Ethics Forms Reveal

      If the billionaire Koch brothers turn to the White House for favors, they will see many familiar faces.

      Newly disclosed ethics forms reveal that a significant number of senior Trump staffers were previously employed by the sprawling network of hard-right and libertarian advocacy groups financed and controlled by Charles and David Koch, the conservative duo hyper-focused on entrenching Republican power, eliminating taxes, and slashing environmental and labor regulations.

      Some of the relationships were well-known. Marc Short, for instance, now Trump’s chief liaison to Congress, previously led Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the dark money nonprofit used by the Koch brothers and their donor cohort to dispense money to allied groups. Freedom Partners, which maintains an affiliate Super PAC, was at the center of the Kochs’ $750 million election effort during the campaign last year.

    • The Antarctic Ice Shelf Is Breaking Up–and USA Today Tells Us to ‘Chill Out’

      The headline over USA Today‘s story (4/4/17) about an Antarctic ice shelf threatening to break off into an iceberg the size of Delaware: “Chill Out: Antarctic Iceberg Still Holding On.”

      “Chill out,” get it? Because it’s Antarctica.

    • Abuse of Animals Exported from EU

      An investigation conducted by an Australian animals rights charity, Animals International, has revealed that live exported animals from European Union (EU) countries have been facing severe abuse. Undercover videos show EU cattle and sheep being beaten, given electric shocks, and inhumanely slaughtered at destinations in Turkey and Middle East. These actions clearly breach EU laws for treatment and keeping of livestock. European legislation states that exported animals must be given a certain standard of care throughout their entire journey, and animal handlers are directed to perform their job without using methods that may instill unnecessary fear or suffering in the animals. However, European legislation only covers the animals until they are delivered to their final destinations. Essentially, there are no rules governing the end of the animals’ lives. The Animals International investigation tracked livestock exported from the EU to destinations in Croatia and six Middle Eastern nations. As Luke Dale-Harris reported in the Guardian, “The footage shows cattle and sheep from France, Romania and Lithuania kicking and flailing violently as their throats are crudely cut or sawed at repeatedly, often in crowded street markets and run-down abattoirs.”

  • Finance

    • Clean Brexit, Dirty Brexit: Is this the last exit before armageddon?

      Clean Brexit or Dirty Brexit. This is the choice we now face. The choice we make will have profound consequences not just for the UK, but for the rest of the world. Consequences lasting generations.

      Rutland is home to “picture postcard cottages” and quaint towns brimming with antique shops and local galleries. It is Britain’s smallest county and its motto since 1950 has been Multum in Parvo, “much in little”. It does have a castle. And a population of 38,000 people.

      This is fewer than the number of people who die each year in Britain because of outdoor air pollution, according a report by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP). Pollution is closely associated with “heart disease, diabetes, obesity and changes linked to dementia”.

    • How We Examined Racial Discrimination in Auto Insurance Prices
    • Chicago Area Disparities in Car Insurance Premiums

      Some car insurers charge higher premiums in Chicago’s minority neighborhoods than in predominantly white neighborhoods with similar insurance losses. The areas outlined in black are more than 50 percent minority. Many insurers charge the same premiums throughout Chicago, but quote higher prices than in suburbs with similar risk.

    • Minority Neighborhoods Pay Higher Car Insurance Premiums Than White Areas With the Same Risk

      Our analysis of premiums and payouts in California, Illinois, Texas and Missouri shows that some major insurers charge minority neighborhoods as much as 30 percent more than other areas with similar accident costs.

    • Talking About My Generation–So We Don’t Have to Talk About the Rich

      The main economic story of the last four decades is the massive upward redistribution of income that has taken place. The top 1 percent’s share of national income has more than doubled over this period, from roughly 10 percent in the late 1970s to over 20 percent today. And this is primarily a before-tax income story: The rich have used their control over the levers of economic power to ensure that an ever-larger share of the country’s wealth goes into their pockets. (Yes, this is the topic of my book, Rigged.) (It’s free.)

    • Aging Populations Are Not a Crisis — Capitalism Is

      Simply put, the lives of young people are intimately tied to the health and well-being of older adults. That is, social expenditure at the beginning and end of life makes for greater social stability for all.

    • Working Women, Your Paycheck Has Been Trapped in a Time Warp

      Although spring is in the air and we are well into 2017, if you’re a woman, your paycheck is stuck in time, specifically at December 31, 2016. That’s because women — on average — earn just 80 percent of what men make, meaning that they must work until today, April 4, 2017, to earn what men earned by December 31, 2016.

    • Restaurant Chain Settles Age Bias Case for $12 Million

      Texas Roadhouse has agreed to settle an age discrimination lawsuit by the government that accused the national steakhouse chain of labeling workers over 40 such things as “Old N’ Chubby” and rejecting them for jobs where customers see them.

      In a consent decree with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the company denied wrongdoing, but agreed to pay $12 million to be distributed to older workers who were denied jobs, as well as to have the chain’s hiring practices monitored for almost four years.

    • Investigation Finds IRS Seized Millions Of Dollars From Innocent Individuals And Business Owners

      The IRS’s Inspector General has confirmed what many of its victims have known all along: the Criminal Investigations’ asset forfeiture program isn’t really for “disrupting criminal enterprises.” It’s for taking money from innocent people.

      The Treasury Inspector General for the Tax Administration (TIGTA) took a look at forfeitures tied to the IRS’s so-called “structuring” cases. If you deposit more than $10,000 into a bank account, the IRS is notified and you, the depositor, have extra paperwork to fill out. This fulfills IRS reporting requirements and is generally a headache for the depositor and the bank.

      If you deposit less than $10,000 in cash, it’s perfectly legal. Do it often enough and the IRS starts to believe your cash deposits are the product of criminal activity. Even if you never have enough on hand to clear the $10,000 mark with a single deposit, a string of smaller deposits makes the IRS suspicious IRS’s eyeballs turn into dollar signs.

    • UNCTAD Electronic Commerce Week: Exploring How All Can Benefit

      Later this month, the third edition of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development week dedicated to electronic commerce will take place. With a value estimated at US$22 trillion globally, e-commerce is booming for business, but mostly still escaping developing countries.

      Speaking at a press briefing today, Torbjörn Fredriksson, chief of the UNCTAD ICT Analysis Section, Division on Technology and Logistics, said this year’s theme, “Towards Inclusive E-Commerce” is focused on ways to get more developing countries to seize opportunities offered by ecommerce and how they can tackle hurdles on the way to that integration.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The GOP Has Declared War on Democracy
    • Booting of Stephen Bannon from NSC a McMaster stroke from Donald Trump’s NSA chief

      The security reshuffle saw senior military and intelligence officials reinstated to the NCS after they had been bumped at the time of Bannon’s appointment in the early days of the administration. It was read through two prisms – new Trump National Security Adviser, US Army Lieutenant General HR McMaster is asserting himself; and after 75 days of administration chaos, when push comes to shove, Trump can be convinced to reshuffle even his closest aides.

    • The Rich Line Up at the White House ATM

      Some of the latest hooey uttered by White House press secretary Sean Spicer — the man from whom a seemingly bottomless wellspring of hooey flows — was his pronouncement the other day that having so many fabulously wealthy men and women working in the White House is a good and wondrous thing.

      “The president has brought a lot of people into this administration, and this White House in particular, who have been very blessed and very successful by this country, and have given up a lot to come into government by setting aside a lot of assets,” Spicer said.

    • Right-Wing Billionaires Are Buying Themselves a New Constitution

      Days before the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, as protests at Standing Rock intensified and the costliest wildfire in United States history burned across Big Sur, some 150 current and former state legislators gathered in Colonial Williamsburg for a weekend of role play—to debate amendments to the U.S. constitution. The event was led by Ken Ivory, a state representative from Utah. “Like air in a tire, gas will expand to fill the space that is given to it. Government, like that, expands to the limit that it’s checked. Left unchecked, government expands limitlessly,” he told those gathered before him, according to a video later posted on YouTube. Addressing them for the last time, after several days of debate that culminated in passing three proposed (fake) amendments, he said, “It’s time for us to be leaders among leaders, to take this back, this spirit that we’ve felt—the beauty of self-governance.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • London Police Ink Shadowy Deal with Industry on Website Takedowns

      One of the other reasons why websites can find themselves losing payment services is if they are accused of being associated with the sale of goods that infringe copyright, patents, or trademarks. One program used to accomplish this is a shadowy agreement between the payment processors and the private International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) called RogueBlock.

    • Europe’s Out-of-Control Censorship

      Germany has formally announced its draconian push towards censorship of social media. On March 14, Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas announced the plan to formalize into law the “code of conduct”, which Germany pressed upon Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in late 2015, and which included a pledge to delete “hate speech” from their websites within 24 hours.

      “This [draft law] sets out binding standards for the way operators of social networks deal with complaints and obliges them to delete criminal content,” Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement announcing the planned legislation.

    • It happened! Cork conference overcomes academic censorship!

      It was originally scheduled in 2014 for the Britain’s Southampton University and was canceled after Zionists pressured university officials. It was briefly rescheduled once more in Southampton in response to outrage over the censorship only to be canceled once again. However, lead organizers, Oren Ben-Dor, James Bowen and George Bisharat did not give up. In the intervening months questions about the legitimacy of Israeli government actions only increased, and the original conference organizers were joined by more scholars and international legal experts determined to carry out a serious discussion about Palestine and international law.

    • The Real Free-Speech Threat

      There’s a lot of writing these days about the Left being oversensitive crybabies that can’t handle free speech. Students shutting down racists like Milo Yiannopoulos and Charles Murray at the University of California Berkeley and Middlebury in Vermont made headlines in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN, and Fox News.

      At the same time, liberals are also quick to (rightly) point their fingers at the Trump administration’s authoritarian tendencies — from threatening journalists with meritless libel suits to banning them from White House press conferences.

      But liberal institutions have hardly been open to those who challenge established orthodoxies. While universities often decry protests by their own students, they’ve shown an uncanny openness to certain outside third parties influencing hiring decisions and classroom curricula.

    • IoT garage door opener maker bricks customer’s product after bad review

      Grisak then responded by bricking Martin’s product remotely

      [...]

      Your unit ID 2f0036… will be denied server connection.

    • Media censorship is morally wrong and harmful: Tibet leader to China

      Calling censorship of media is morally wrong and harmful, the spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama Thursday said, “the 1.3 billion Chinese people have every right to know the reality.”

      While responding to reporters in India’s state of Arunachal Pradesh, on April 6, 2017, His Holiness called China an authoritarian country. “Nine years with Chinese communist, sometimes I express His Holiness the Dalai Lama jokingly said, “During this period, I have learned how to practice hypocrisy. Some system is sort of totalitarian, and authoritarian system, and no proper freedom.”

    • Germany Willing to Fine U.S. Companies to Censor What People Say Online
    • Social media firms faces huge hate speech fines in Germany
    • Trump should speak out against Europe’s effort to suppress free speech
    • German cabinet agrees to fine social media over hate speech
    • You have the right to feel offended, and we have the right to offend
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • State Appeals Court Says There’s An Expectation Of Privacy In Vehicle Data Recorders

      An interesting decision has been reached by the Florida Appeals Court as to Fourth Amendment protections for vehicle “black boxes.” The black boxes — which are a mandatory requirement in new vehicles — record a variety of data in the event of a crash. (h/t FourthAmendment.com)

      Charles Worsham Jr. was the driver in a crash in which his passenger was killed. His vehicle was seized and impounded by police. Twelve days later, police accessed the data in the black box without obtaining a warrant. Worsham challenged the lawfulness of the warrantless search. The police maintained the black box was full of third-party records which required no warrant or consent from the vehicle’s owner.

      The court sees the issue differently. In a relative rarity, the state Appeals Court decides [PDF] to get out ahead of the issue, rather than wait for precedential decisions to trickle down from the federal courts. It looks at the data harvested by the black box and suggests the amount gathered will only increase in the coming years. Rather than wait until then to make a call on the Fourth Amendment merits, it draws the line now.

    • Twitter Sues Homeland Security Over Attempt To Unmask ‘Alt’ Immigration Twitter Account

      If you can’t read that, it’s an excerpt from an email saying that “this has become a very sensitive issue, especially since the President has gotten directly involved and contacted Acting Director Mike Reynolds concerned about one of the images…”

      It appears that other parts of the government are also deeply concerned with unmasking who’s involved in these things. Today, Twitter sued the US government because the Department of Homeland Security and its Customs & Border Protection division have apparently been trying to unmask the operator of the @ALT_uscis account, which claims to be run by people working for US Citizenship and Immigration Service presenting the “rogue” view on immigration issues.

    • Court Strikes Probation Restrictions Banning Teen From Using Encryption, Accessing Internet For Personal Reasons

      The Appeals Court of California has examined a set of release restrictions imposed on a teen convicted of minor sodomy against his girlfriend. The lower court — realizing it was being asked to step in and act as a proxy parent for the teen’s internet use — handed down a lengthy list of restrictions supposedly aimed at keeping the teen from committing further criminal acts. This included several restrictions on the teen’s internet use, for reasons only apparent to the lower court. (h/t Volokh Conspiracy)

      Fortunately, the Appeals Court has struck many of these restrictions, finding most of them overly-broad at best, and unreasonably (and unconstitutionally) restricting at worst. Most of these seem to have stemmed from the teen’s admission that he masturbated to internet porn once a week — something that could be said for a great many US citizens of many ages. That the court connected this to the crime committed appears to be the result of a prudish mindset: one that still believes access to pornography leads to criminal sexual acts, despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary.

    • Internet Activists Plot 2018 Electoral Revenge Against Republican Privacy Sellouts

      President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress recently rammed through legislation allowing broadband giants like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to sell private consumer data to the highest bidder without asking for user permission.

      Now, furious open internet advocates are developing political strategies and street-level tactics designed to hold Republicans accountable in the 2018 midterm elections for what privacy watchdogs are calling one of the most brazen corporate giveaways in recent US history.

      Consumer advocates know that the privacy rollback—which eliminates the Federal Communications Commission’s landmark 2016 broadband protections—is extremely unpopular with the American people. And they’re not going to let voters forget how more than 200 GOP lawmakers sold out consumer privacy to the nation’s largest internet service providers.

    • If Facebook Becomes The Internet’s Authentication System, Can Citizen Scores Around The World Be Far Behind?

      One of the reasons the digital world is so exciting — and so attractive to startups and investors — is that network effects help companies to grow quickly, until they end up with what amounts to a monopoly in a sector. A particularly powerful monopoly that is exercising people at the moment is Facebook, and for multiple reasons. Its huge user base is making it so attractive to advertisers that traditional publishers are badly impacted. Another issue is that its reach is so great that it is hard to stop so-called “fake news” from being shared rapidly and widely across the social network, with potentially serious real-world effects.

      But there’s a third aspect, so far little remarked upon, that is brought out well in a post by Jason Ditzian on The Bold Italic site. For the last decade, he’s been a keen user of City CarShare, a nonprofit car-sharing service with vehicle stations around the Bay Area.

    • They are spying on us and we know it

      Instant messaging has become the main digital tool for social and political activism.

      [...]

      Freedom of expression is one of the pillars of modern democracy, and the right to the privacy of our communications is a part of it. During the last century it was said that, in some dictatorships, they opened letters with steam – so that the peeping could go unnoticed -, they read the contents – to detect divergent thinking -, they closed the envelopes again, and let the letters reach their addressees – to avoid suspicions.

      Today, when we send a message from the simulated intimacy our electronic devices give us, it is traced by a complex communication intercepting system. The root cause of the problem is this: the internet is a network designed for sharing information which, at the time it was created, was not intended for its current use – nor was the problem of privacy taken into account.

    • 3 ways to break your smartphone addiction and get back to work

      Recent research found that an average user touches their mobile phone 2,617 times a day and a heavy user swipes, taps, and clicks more than 5,000 times per day! That’s nearly three to four hours a day of lost productivity.

    • Data Privacy Shield: MEPs alarmed at undermining of privacy safeguards in the US

      New rules allowing the US National Security Agency (NSA) to share private data with other US agencies without court oversight, recent revelations about surveillance activities by a US electronic communications service provider and vacancies on US oversight bodies are among the concerns raised by MEPs in a resolution passed on Thursday.

    • Twitter balks at US demand to expose account condemning Trump policy

      The Customs and Border Protection agency, which is seeking to unmask the account holder, issued Twitter a summons (PDF), unsigned by a judge, citing a section of federal law granting border officials the power to investigate importation taxes. Twitter is refusing to unmask the account holder, saying the government is “abusing” its authority by making the demand without a legal basis.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Texas anti-masturbation bill moves closer to becoming law

      The Texas Democrat knows her bill has no hope of becoming law, and has introduced it to satirise how women have been affected by targeted healthcare legislation in her state, particularly relating to abortion.

    • Supreme Court Picks: Senate Showdown Over Neil Gorsuch
    • ‘Building the Wall’: Staging America’s Worst Immigration Nightmare

      As the 2016 presidential campaign rolled to a close, prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan was disgusted by the diminished standards that had come to define the electoral process.

      “I felt that regardless of who got elected, lines had been crossed, and those historical agreements, spoken and unspoken, about our two-party system, had been irretrievably damaged over the course of the election,” Schenkkan told Truthdig. “[There was] a coarsening of public discourse, the elimination of even a modicum of respect. And reasoned debate had been tossed in favor of a carnival-like click-bait.”

      Schenkkan’s disgust inspired his new play, “Building the Wall,” which he wrote during seven feverish days in late October. The play currently is running at The Fountain Theatre in Hollywood and will roll out across the country in coming weeks.

    • Minnesota is Trying to Crush Black Lives Movement Highway Protests, A Tactic Activists Have Used for Decades

      Minnesota’s House of Representatives voted on Monday to stiffen penalties for protesters who block traffic on highways and other roadways. The move was seen as a response to recent highway blockades in the state utilized by Black Lives movement demonstrators to protest the police shooting of unarmed African-American men.

      The provision, which was part of a public safety package, would make blockading a highway a “gross misdemeanor” punishable by up to a $3,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Dissenting Democratic lawmakers tried to strip the provision from the bill, but failed in a 56-75, mostly party-line vote.

    • Ken Livingstone: Stubborn and Wrong, But Not Anti-Semitic

      I quite genuinely have no idea whether the point Livingstone makes is historically true, and if so how fringe or not were the elements involved in the relationship. But it is not relevant. It would be surprising if there did not, in the very early stages of Nazi power, appear to a few fringe elements to be some room to explore common interests between those who wanted Jews to leave Germany, and those who wanted to establish a Jewish homeland in the Middle East. Everyone was trying to accommodate to the difficult fact of Nazi power. The British royal family and aristocracy, the Pope, Northcliffe and his Daily Mail, David Lloyd George, pretty well all of corporate Germany and, I even admit, a very few isolated Scottish nationalists, failed at some stages to realise or to respond correctly to the evil of Nazism and sought various ways to use Nazi Germany to forward their own interests. Some of these were very culpable. You can find attempts on that difficult spectrum from accommodation to collaboration in various forms everywhere, in almost every community.

      I do not want to see the apartheid state of Israel continue in its current form, though as with apartheid South Africa I wish to see a solution to unifying Palestine that does not involve further forced movement of any population. But I do not in any sense accept a historically important link between Israel and the Nazis, except in the obvious sense that revulsion at the Holocaust created the conditions for international acceptance of the violent establishment of Israel. Picking at the oddities of history on such a sensitive subject is mischievous.

      [...]

      I therefore think that Livingstone was wrong to blunder into discussing Hitler’s alleged early support for Zionism, and much more wrong not to then realise this was a mistake and to apologise. I do not however believe that in any sense his motivation was personal anti-Semitism, and I do not believe that anybody believes he is genuinely somebody who dislikes Jewish people.

    • People Power Activists Are Already Confronting the Powers That Be From Coast to Coast and Demanding Freedom Cities

      Three weeks ago, people from across the country tuned in on a Saturday night as the ACLU kicked off a new grassroots mobilization program called People Power, which laid out a new strategy and vision for resisting the Trump administration’s worst abuses of our freedoms. We wanted people to do more than donate and march — we wanted them to organize in their communities, meet with local law enforcement officials, and change local policies to establish Freedom Cities where immigrants and Muslims would be better protected from the Trump administration’s attempts to trample on civil liberties.

    • Is Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department Trying to Kill Police Reform in Baltimore?

      Last year, in the wake of the killing of Freddie Gray, the Justice Department conducted an in-depth pattern-and-practice investigation of the Baltimore Police Department and released stunning findings documenting the brutal, longstanding, and unconstitutional mistreatment of city residents at the hands of police. Soon after, the Justice Department and the city of Baltimore negotiated a consent decree, whereby the city agreed to a federal court order requiring a detailed police reform process. Throughout, the BPD and the city’s leadership have repeatedly stated that without immediate and strong reforms, the mostly Black and brown communities most brutalized by police have no reason to trust police — undermining public safety.

    • Amos Yee not released from detention 2 weeks after being granted asylum

      Perpetually detained Singaporean teenager Amos Yee is still detained in the United States despite being granted asylum two weeks ago.

      Human Rights Watch (HRW) and PEN America have asked the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to release supposedly free man Amos Yee immediately.

      In a press release today, HRW said that Yee was granted asylum by a US immigration judge on March 24 but remains in ICE custody.

    • First Family’s Needs Strain Secret Service

      # or can they?

      “The question that has to be asked is, what is the alternative?” Mr. Basham said. “You can’t just step back and say it costs too much to protect these people.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Kills Charter Merger Condition That Would Have Forced ISPs To Compete

      While FCC boss Ajit Pai has repeatedly claimed his top priority while running the FCC is eliminating the digital divide, his behavior in just the first few months of his term has made that claim utterly and indisuptably laughable. It doesn’t take a sociology degree to realize that Pai’s recent decisions to protect prison phone monopolies, protect the cable box monopoly, undermine efforts to bring broadband to the poor and dismantle net neutrality solely help one particular constituency: the telecom sector’s biggest, wealthiest, and most powerful providers.

      And while repealing a previous FCC’s policies isn’t entirely new or unexpected (especially from somebody with Pai’s extremely mono/duopoly friendly voting record), Pai has been pushing his purview even further. Last week the FCC boss announced that he’d even begun stripping away at the conditions attached to Charter’s $79 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

    • FCC head Ajit Pai reportedly outlines plans to roll back net neutrality rules
    • Roku has hired a team of lobbyists as it gears up for a net neutrality fight

      For Roku and others in the business, an end to the Obama-era protections could make it harder — or, in some cases, more expensive — to offer content or services to customers at top download speeds.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Italian Court Says Due Process Isn’t Necessary For Blocking Sites Over Copyright Infringement

        A years-long fight in Italy between copyright rightsholders (chiefly Hollywood) and consumer groups looking to protect Italian citizens, took a dark turn recently. If you aren’t already aware, the Italian government put in place a delightful regulation in 2014 giving the Authority for Comunications Guarantees (AGCOM) the authority to simply block websites deemed infringing outright, without the need for such pesky things as court cases or trials. Consumer groups immediately challenged the regulation, stating that it violated the Italian constitution, specifically suggesting that giving a government body the authority to unilaterally block websites without any sort of judicial review was a violation of the exercise of freedom of expression and economic initiative. Given exactly how often demonized websites are demonstrated to have perfectly legitimate uses, not to mention how absolutely terrible every government everywhere seems to be in understanding and protecting things like Fair Use, it’s an easy argument to understand.

        Unfortunately, an administrative court in Italy has chosen to take itself out of the judicial review business when it comes to site-blocking.

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