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04.23.17

Why Authorities in the Netherlands Need to Strip the EPO of Immunity and Investigate Fire Safety Violations

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Factory alleged to have ignored warnings
Reference: Factory alleged to have ignored warnings

Summary: How intimidation and crackdown on the staff representatives at the EPO may have led to lack of awareness (and action) about lack of compliance with fire safety standards

IN THE last part about the fire hazard at the EPO we shed light on the continuation of this problem at the next building in the Netherlands. Why does this matter? Because the unwillingness of Dutch authorities to compel the EPO to obey the law causes the EPO to operate with impunity and potentially put a lot of lives in great danger, even consciously.

“Lately, it was the Dutch representatives taking a lot of heat or even coming under fire (pardon the pun).”Staff representatives are understandably afraid to bring this up. Each time they say the truth there is severe action of retribution from Battistelli and his goons. Lately, it was the Dutch representatives taking a lot of heat or even coming under fire (pardon the pun).

“Unfortunately,” one person explained to us, “the majority of the local staff committee as well as the local SUEPO committee have been very reluctant to take any further measures to protect our safety in case of a fire at our site. Until now they did not bother to inform [...] though some members were aware of this issue since November 2010.”

“The immunity of the EPO must be ended, and not only after a major catastrophe (one that would belatedly put the EPO in the headlines, due to a tragedy other than Battistelli).”See the effect of union-busting actions and extreme attacks on staff representatives? Even life-threatening risks (mere facts) become suppressed. We too need to be careful in what we say because we are well aware of risk to our sources. Not too long ago we belatedly kick-started a series revolving around the inadequacy of these facilities by sharing, in redacted form, anything but the most sensitive details. We feel safe to assert that this helps highlight human rights aspects (disregard for staff’s safety) and is in the public interest.

We would like to urge readers, especially Dutch-speaking readers, to forward these bits of information to the suitable authorities in Holland and urge for immediate action. The immunity of the EPO must be ended, and not only after a major catastrophe (one that would belatedly put the EPO in the headlines, due to a tragedy other than Battistelli).

Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part IX: Testament to the Fear of an Autocratic Regime

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When Exposing A Crime Is Treated As Committing A Crime, You Are Being Ruled By The Criminals Themselves.

Summary: A return to the crucial observation and a reminder of the fact that at the EPO it takes great courage to say the truth nowadays

THE lives ruined by the EPO‘s management extend well beyond EPO staff and stakeholders; spouses, children, friends and peers are impacted as well. The whole European economy is negatively affected. This is why we believe that everyone in Europe (if not well beyond Europe) should pay closer attention to scandals which the media seems unwilling to cover (like it covered FIFA scandals, for instance, if not Volkswagen too, especially amid Dieselgate).

“The EPO has become a sociopathic institution which takes orders from one single person as though he is a monarch in a palace.”In part VII and part VIII of this series we wrote about whistleblowing at the EPO and absolutely zero tolerance of criticism. The EPO has become a sociopathic institution which takes orders from one single person as though he is a monarch in a palace. Nothing like this ever happened at the USPTO or any other patent office (as far as we are aware). European autocracy up on display? Certainly a reputational issue for the EU, even if the EPO isn’t an EU entity (unlike the distant ‘fantasy’ — or contrariwise nightmare — which is UPC).

“In any healthy (or functional) institution, none of this would be required and there would be an ombudsman to turn to. But not the EPO under Battistelli…”The EPO’s whistleblowers are scared; they are not always confident and occasionally they feel the need to forge details not about the story but about themselves. “We were thinking also of changing some terms and details of the story,” one person once told us regarding “nationalities, countries, disease details, sex and ages etc. — [just] enough to make sure that if they [are] still going [to point] the finger on me, it would be an open admission that they did what we relate.”

In any healthy (or functional) institution, none of this would be required and there would be an ombudsman to turn to. But not the EPO under Battistelli…

For the Fordham Echo Chamber (Patent Maximalism), Judges From the EPO Boards of Appeal Are Not Worth Entertaining

Posted in America, Deception, Europe, Microsoft at 9:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft is the sole leading sponsor this year (same as last year)

Bristows and Microsoft

Summary: In an event steered if not stuffed by patent radicals such as Bristows and Microsoft (abusive, serial litigators) there are no balanced panels or even reasonable discussions

THE EPO is not interested in patent quality. Everyone knows it by now, both inside and outside the Office.

According to patent maximalists’ tweets from Fordham, “[i]n the EPO it is easier to get a method for diagnosis patent than in the US.”

“Bristows staff — the one who ‘took over’ IP Kat — was attending this echo chamber of the patent microcosm recently.”Well, CPIP treats patent quality as a nuisance (they ask for Alice to be undermined and software patents to be back to old glory). They do not treat quality as a desirable feature; they profit not from quality. The same goes for some firms that say the EPO more easily grants software patents than the USPTO these days. Bristows staff — the one who 'took over' IP Kat — was attending this echo chamber of the patent microcosm recently. She professed admiration for Microsoft’s chief patent bully and quoted (or paraphrased) a judge as saying that “everyone is equipped to deal with science.”

“Sorry to disappoint the Honorable judge,” said one of the comments, “but that is an absurd comment, demonstrating ignorance and delusion.” An earlier comment said: “No judges from the EPO Boards of appeal present?”

“At two levels, both technical and juridical, the EPO has been unhinged and is not totally out of control.”Of course not! That would be disruptive to the echo chamber.

The attack on the appeal boards has been (in our humble assessment) intended to help mask the sharp decline in patent quality and/or suppress criticism related to that. At two levels, both technical and juridical, the EPO has been unhinged and is not totally out of control.

“A stacked panel, on the other hand, is like a stacked deck: it is packed with people who, on the face of things, should be neutral, but who are in fact strong supporters of our technology. The key to stacking a panel is being able to choose the moderator. Most conference organizers allow the moderator to select die panel, so if you can pick the moderator, you win. Since you can’t expect representatives of our competitors to speak on your behalf, you have to get the moderator to agree to having only “independent ISVs” on the panel. No one from Microsoft or any other formal backer of the competing technologies would be allowed -just ISVs who have to use this stuff in the “real world.” Sounds marvellously independent doesn’t it? In feet, it allows us to stack the panel with ISVs that back our cause. Thus, the “independent” panel ends up telling the audience that our technology beats the others hands down. Get the press to cover this panel, and you’ve got a major win on your hands.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

EPO Staff Representatives Fired Using “Disciplinary Committee That Was Improperly Composed” as Per ILO’s Decision

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Union-busting in defiance of the rules of the EPO, e.g. Article 98(1) ServRegs

SUEPO Letter to AC

Summary: The Board of the Administrative Council at European Patent Organisation is being informed of the union-busting activities of Battistelli — activities that are both illegal (as per national and international standards) and are detrimental to the Organisation

THE EPO has been quiet lately, even days after Easter was finished. Someone has sent us the above letter, which is dated a few days ago and is worth reproducing below. The very concept of negotiating with Benoît Battistelli should be considered laughable at this stage. It’s entrapping oneself; the prospects of negotiating with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would likely be more positive and yield much more. At least the EU occasionally dares condemn him for his actions.

“The very concept of negotiating with Benoît Battistelli should be considered laughable at this stage.”In spite being 3 pages long (with Battistelli having a copy), this letter to Members of the Board of the Administrative Council (who are aware of "a crisis," in their own words) is quite short or at least concise. It focuses not on the technical perils but on the social and juridical perils, which concern the staff representatives who are unable to properly function any longer (under rational fear from an irrational tyrant who is accountable to nobody). Here is the letter in full (original above as animated GIF).

19 April 2017

Members of the Board
of the Administrative Council
European Patent Organisation

Restart of dialogue – SUEPO’s position

Dear Sir, Madam,

One of the aims of Resolution CA 26/16 is to reach “a consensus on an MoU which would establish a framework for negotiation between social partners”. However, as the Council also noted: “…the disciplinary sanctions and proceedings against staff or trade union representatives have, among other reasons, made it more difficult to reach such a consensus…”

So far, further discussions on union recognition between the EPO and SUEPO have remained impossible for well-known reasons. Furthermore, far from improving with time as might have been hoped, the social situation has in fact further deteriorated, particularly following the dismissal of a third staff representative and SUEPO official in November 2016.

At the same time, there is now an increased level of awareness both in the public and at the highest political level1 that something must be done to move forward.

_____
1 letter by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands dated 23 February 2017 (emphasis added):
In dit kader heb ik de heer Minnoye meegegeven dat de interne onrust te lang voortduurt en dat de situatie nu snel
verbetering behoeft. Om met spoed een begin te maken aan herstel van vertrouwen tussen het management en het
personeel, is voorgesteld de sociale dialoog constructief te hervatten en daarbij op zeer korte termijn een aantal
vertrouwenwekkende maatregelen, onder andere gebaseerd op de Social Study, door te voeren:

Heroverweging van disciplinaire maatregelen die ten aanzien van enkele vakbondsleden zijn ingezet

English translation:
In this context, I informed Mr Minnoye that the internal unrest has been going on for too long and that the situation now needs to improve quickly. In order to make a rapid start to restoring trust between the management and staff, the proposal is to resume constructive social dialogue and to introduce a number of trust-building measures in the very short term, based among other things on the Social Study:

Reconsideration of the disciplinary measures implemented with respect to certain trade-union members.


For our part, SUEPO remains committed to fulfilling the Council’s demands as set out in its resolution. As a gesture of good will we wish to inform you that we would be prepared to participate in a first and renewed meeting providing it would be organised with the involvement of an independent mediator.

We would be grateful if the Board 28 would consider endorsing this proposal at its next meeting in April 2017. Following this we would be prepared to enter into discussions concerning the selection of a mediator and other meeting arrangements.

We look forward to your response and attach, also for your consideration, a draft agenda for such a first meeting.

Yours sincerely,

Joachim Michels
SUEPO Central Chairman
On behalf of SUEPO Central and all local SUEPO sections

Annex: Draft agenda

Copy:Heads of Delegation of the Administrative Council
President of the EPO
Council Secretariat


ANNEX

Draft agenda

1. Reintegration of dismissed staff and SUEPO representatives, and cancellation of other sanctions against further staff and SUEPO representatives.2

2. Aims of a negotiation scheme

3. Benchmarking some existing agreements, viz. EU-Agreement with its Unions, the SUEPO proposal, and the existing EPO-FFPE MoU.

4. MoU establishing a framework for negotiation between social partners i.e. the EPO and trade unions

5. Time framework for a global solution for normalising relations between EPO and SUEPO

_____
2 The implementation of the Resolution is here all the more urgent since, in the meantime, it has transpired that the disciplinary measures against SUEPO officials in 2015 and 2016 (in particular Els Hardon, Ion Brumme, Malika Weaver, Laurent Prunier) have been imposed after consultation of a disciplinary committee that was improperly composed: the Chairperson was appointed without the consultation of the GCC required by Article 98(1) ServRegs. A progress on this issue would allow discussing the other points on the agenda.

That second footnote is important. The EPO’s President not only routinely and nonchalantly violates the rules of the EPC (akin to gross constitutional violations), but also violates his very own Code of Conduct. It’s probably far too optimistic to believe that Battistelli is capable of grasping the mere concept of negotiation partners. He exploits power for power’s sake; he’s a hardliner with LE PENthouse de patent maximalism.

Links 23/4/2017: End of arkOS, Collabora Office 5.3 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 8:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • Overlayfs snapshots

      At the 2017 Vault storage conference, Amir Goldstein gave a talk about using overlayfs in a novel way to create snapshots for the underlying filesystem. His company, CTERA Networks, has used the NEXT3 ext3-based filesystem with snapshots, but customers want to be able to use larger filesystems than those supported by ext3. Thus he turned to overlayfs as a way to add snapshots for XFS and other local filesystems.

      NEXT3 has a number of shortcomings that he wanted to address with overlayfs snapshots. Though it only had a few requirements, which were reasonably well supported, NEXT3 never got upstream. It was ported to ext4, but his employer stuck with the original ext3-based system, so the ext4 version was never really pushed for upstream inclusion.

    • Five days and counting

      It is five days left until foss-north 2017, so it is high time to get your ticket! Please notice that tickets can be bought all the way until the night of the 25th (Tuesday), but catering is only included is you get your ticket on the 24th (Monday), so help a poor organizer and get your tickets as soon as possible!

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Containers, a Great Privacy Add-On Currently in Firefox Test Pilot

        While not Linux specific by any means, here is a Firefox add-on (currently in Firefox Test Pilot) that I’ve been using and I believe is beneficial to any Firefox user, especially those who want a bit of extra privacy.

        Containers are basically a way of isolating tabs to their own profiles (profile-per-tab, if you like). This isn’t quite the same as separate profiles that Firefox allows you to start up the browser with, but the result is quite similar nonetheless: tabs are confined to their particular container, including cookies and login data, meaning you can not only have multiple logins (for example, one login of Gmail in your “Personal” tab container and another completely separate login in your “Work” tab container) but also prevent online trackers from piecing all your online habits together, more or less.

      • Ubuntu might retire Thunderbird
      • Proposal to start a new implementation of Thunderbird based on web technologies
  • SaaS/Back End

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • 1.3.0 Development Preview: lumina-mediaplayer
    • Lumina Desktop Gets Its Own Media Player

      There’s now yet another open-source media player, but this time focused on the BSD-focused Qt-powered Lumina Desktop Environment.

      Lumina Media Player is one of the new additions for the upcoming Lumina 1.3. Lumina Media Player’s UI is quite simple so far and allows playing of local audio/video files along with basic audio streaming — currently implemented for Pandora.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Proposal for Libreboot: re-join GNU. Community feedback is needed

      I, Leah Rowe, am seeking to submit a proposal to GNU for Libreboot to re-join the GNU project. It was previously a member of GNU between 14 May 2016 to 15 September 2016.

    • Libreboot Is Now Considering Whether To Re-Join The GNU

      After leaving the GNU last year and criticizing the Free Software Foundation and all the drama that ensued after this project was just part of the GNU for months, Libreboot is considering re-joining the GNU.

      Libreboot leader Leah Rowe is retracting her statements against the FSF/GNU, wants to make amends, and wants Libreboot back under the GNU umbrella.

    • Libreboot Wants Back Into GNU

      Early this morning, Libreboot’s lead developer Leah Rowe posted a notice to the project’s website and a much longer post to the project’s subreddit, indicating that she would like to submit (or resubmit, it’s not clear how that would work at this point) the project to “rejoin the GNU Project.”

      The project had been a part of GNU from May 14 through September 15 of last year, at which time Ms. Rowe very publicly removed the project from GNU while making allegations of misdeeds by both GNU and the Free Software Foundation. Earlier this month, Rowe admitted that she had been dealing with personal issues at the time and had overreacted. The project also indicated that it had reorganized and that Rowe was no longer in full control.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Defending copyleft

      For some years now, Bradley Kuhn has been the face of GPL enforcement. At LibrePlanet 2017, he gave a talk about that enforcement and, more generally, whether copyleft is succeeding. Enforcing the GPL is somewhat fraught with perils of various sorts, and there are those who are trying to thwart that work, he said. His talk was partly to clear the air and to alert the free-software community to some backroom politics he sees happening in the enforcement realm.

      Most of the work that Kuhn’s employer, the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), does is not dealing with licensing issues. But people love hearing about copyleft, he said. In addition, free-software developers like those at LibrePlanet have a right to know what’s going on politically. There is a lot of politics going on behind the scenes.

      Kuhn works for a charity, not a traditional company or a trade association. That means he has the freedom and, in some sense, the obligation to give attendees the whole story from his point of view, he said. He is lucky to be able to work in that fashion. Kuhn then took a bit of a spin through his history with copyleft and why he decided to step up for it.

    • Open Source Licenses: How They’re Similar, How They’re Different
    • Understanding the complexity of copyleft defense

      The fundamental mechanism defending software freedom is copyleft, embodied in GPL. GPL, however, functions only through upholding it–via GPL enforcement. For some, enforcement has been a regular activity for 30 years, but most projects don’t enforce: they live with regular violations. Today, even under the Community Principles of GPL Enforcement, GPL enforcement is regularly criticized and questioned. The complex landscape is now impenetrable for developers who wish their code to remain forever free. This talk provides basic history and background information on the topic.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • After Bill Gates Backs Open Access, Steve Ballmer Discovers The Joys Of Open Data

        A few months ago, we noted that the Gates Foundation has emerged as one of the leaders in requiring the research that it funds to be released as open access and open data — an interesting application of the money that Bill Gates made from closed-source software. Now it seems that his successor as Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, has had a similar epiphany about openness. Back in 2001, Ballmer famously called GNU/Linux “a cancer”. Although he later softened his views on software somewhat, that was largely because he optimistically claimed that the threat to Microsoft from free software was “in the rearview mirror”. Not really: today, the Linux-based Android has almost two orders of magnitude more market share than Windows Phone.

  • Programming/Development

    • New Open Door Policy for GitHub Developer Program

      GitHub has opened the doors on its three year old GitHub Developer Program. As of Monday, developers no longer need to have paid accounts to participate.

      “We’re opening the program up to all developers, even those who don’t have paid GitHub accounts,” the company announced in a blog post. “That means you can join the program no matter which stage of development you’re in,”

  • Standards/Consortia

    • MuleSoft Joins the OpenAPI Initiative: The End of the API Spec Wars

      Yesterday, MuleSoft, the creators of RAML, announced that they have joined the Open API Initiative. Created by SmartBear Software and based on the wildly popular Swagger Specification, the OpenAPI Initiative is a Linux Foundation project with over 20 members, including Adobe, IBM, Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce.

Leftovers

  • Trading away our digital rights

    India must first secure its digital sovereignty before it can begin global trade talks

  • Science

    • March for Science rallies draw huge crowds around US

      Thousands of people descended on Washington and other cities across the country on Saturday to voice support for science, with calls for evidence-based public policy and increased funding for scientific research as President Trump defended his climate policies.

    • Scientists and their supporters march in favor of actual facts in D.C.

      Scientists and their supporters don’t usually march — but recent events have troubled them. Under Trump, scientists have been silenced; his attempted immigrantion ban directly threatened international scientific collaboration; he’s signed executive orders that will destroy efforts to fight climate change; his proposed budget cuts for 2018 slash funding for crucial scientific research. Though the March for Science has done its best to maintain its political neutrality (Per March for Science PR: “The goal of the March for Science is to highlight the valuable role science plays in society and policy, and to demonstrate deep public support for science”), it has been widely understood as a protest of these policies. D.C. is only one march — more than 600 “satellite” demonstrations took place worldwide.

    • Scientists Are Marching Because Things Are Not Normal

      Nevertheless, pediatricians and herpetologists are not marching together because these are ordinary times. The obvious impetus is the dominance of a president and a political party increasingly contemptuous of scientific inquiry and inclined to flagrant denial of evidence.

    • Why They March: “Science and Scientists Are Now Under Attack”

      The March for Science is a response to the Trump administration’s distaste for science — or at least the kind that gets in the way of profit — but it is also a celebration of those among us who have devoted their lives to understanding how the world works. The thousands descending on the National Mall, on the first Earth Day under a regime that has taken a sharp knife to government science budgets, study stars and butterflies, barrier reefs and hedgehog reproduction, viruses and bird flight patterns.

      Most days, they make and test their hypotheses in laboratories or perhaps in the Arctic Circle or the Australian Outback, in an anti-gravity chamber or a deciduous forest. But on this warm April Saturday, they have come together in Washington, D.C, to make a point that feels more urgent than ever: Science matters, and we ignore its findings at our peril.

    • Why this scientist is marching

      “SCIENCE IS real” and “Objective reality exists” read the signs that covered Jessie Square in San Francisco last December. “Immigrants make science great” read some at Boston’s Copley Square in February.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Another doctor, and his wife, arrested in genital mutilation case

      Investigators identified other children who may have been cut at Attar’s clinic since 2005. “Multiple” girls in Michigan told authorities that Nagarwala performed procedures on their genitals.

    • Genital mutilation victims break their silence: ‘This is demonic’

      The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 513,000 girls have been cut or face the risk of being cut in the U.S., a roughly threefold increase from 1990 [...]

    • First FGM protection orders granted in Sheffield

      On Tuesday 18 April, two protection orders were granted by the Sheffield Family Court, allowing SYP to protect two females who were identified as being at risk of FGM.

    • ‘Religious’ Claim by Doctor Accused of Female Genital Mutilation

      She was arrested on Thursday at Detroit Metropolitan Airport while trying to catch a flight to Nairobi, Kenya.

    • Rules Are for Schmucks: Capitulating to Islam

      Instead, what happened was an online demand from some rather nasty Muslims that she not set foot in Australia. This black African woman was accused, among other things, of advocating “white supremacy” and “misogyny” because of her opposition to the Muslim practice of forcible genital mutilation of little girls (as happened to her).

    • [Older] How a Detroit-area doctor may have mutilated girls’ genitalia for decades

      Authorities would not disclose what religion the defendant practices, or what cultural group she is affiliated with — stating only that she is part of a religious and cultural community that’s known to practice genital mutilation on girls. One Indian-American leader said female genital mutilation is not a Hindu practice.

    • I Underwent Genital Mutilation as a Child—Right Here in the United States

      Last week, an Indian American doctor was arrested in Michigan, charged with performing female genital cutting on two seven-year-old girls. As the story hit the local press and then the New York Times, and as it was shared by George Takei and Nicholas Kristof, my phone kept blowing up with breathless messages and links from childhood friends across the country.

      “This story isn’t going away,” said one friend over the phone. We both grew up in the same controversial, secretive South Asian Muslim sect as the doctor, a 44-year-old emergency room physician named Jumana Nagarwala who was born in Washington, DC. “This time, the community can’t just pretend it’s not happening.” Just today, two more followers of the sect were arrested in connection with the case.

    • Should we privatise water?

      Privatisation of water is unwarranted, unjustified and unnecessary. In pushing for it, we are not really addressing the key issue plaguing the water sector, which is a need for better governance. We need a democratic, transparent, accountable and participatory governance in a bottom-up approach, on each aspect of the urban water sector where water privatisation is advocated.

    • While Flint waits, Nestle pumps Michigan water on the cheap [iophk: "draining the watershed"]

      Nestle extracts billions of dollars worth of groundwater from western Michigan, but it pays the state just $200 a year in paperwork fees to do so.

    • Whose water is it, anyway? Michigan’s policy a ‘recipe for disaster’

      Water use isn’t as much of a concern when it’s returned in an unpolluted form back to the water system where it came. It’s so-called consumptive uses, where the water is gone from the watershed after it’s used, that are of most concern.

    • Brooklyn school has more lead in its water than Flint

      The amount of lead flowing from the Room 222 fountain was also three times the 5,000 ppb level at which the EPA classifies water as “hazardous waste.”

    • QUNO Briefs: Food Security Needs Farmers In Global Discussions, Agricultural Biodiversity

      The participation of small-scale farmers at the table of international negotiations and the protection of agricultural biodiversity are key to food security, according to the Quaker United Nations Office, which published last month two policy briefs with a list of recommendations.

    • Secret Hospital Inspections May Become Public at Last

      The public could soon get a look at confidential reports about errors, mishaps and mix-ups in the nation’s hospitals that put patients’ health and safety at risk, under a groundbreaking proposal from federal health officials.

      The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wants to require that private health care accreditors publicly detail problems they find during inspections of hospitals and other medical facilities, as well as the steps being taken to fix them. Nearly nine in 10 hospitals are directly overseen by those accreditors, not the government.

      There’s increasing concern among regulators that private accreditors aren’t picking up on serious problems at health facilities. Every year, CMS takes a sample of hospitals and other health care facilities accredited by private organizations and does its own inspections to validate the work of the groups. In a 2016 report, CMS noted that its review found that accrediting organizations often missed serious deficiencies found soon after by state inspectors.

  • Security

    • >10,000 Windows computers may be infected by advanced NSA backdoor

      Security experts believe that tens of thousands of Windows computers may have been infected by a highly advanced National Security Agency backdoor. The NSA backdoor was included in last week’s leak by the mysterious group known as Shadow Brokers.

    • [Old] New ‘BrickerBot’ malware attack kills unsecured Internet of Things devices

      BrickerBot works in similar fashion to Mirai in that both programs attempt to leverage the tendency for users to neglect to change the factory default username and password combo that ships on IoT devices.

    • The 8 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs for Linux

      Although Linux operating systems are fairly stable and secure, they may not completely be immune to threats. All computer systems can suffer from malware and viruses, including those running Linux-based operating systems. However, the number of critical threats to Linux-based operating systems is still way lower than threats for Windows or OS X.

      Therefore, we need to protect our Linux systems from the various forms of threats such as viruses that can be transmitted in many ways including malicious code, email attachments, malicious URLs, rootkits to mention but a few.

      In this article, we will talk about 8 best free anti-virus programs for Linux systems.

    • [Older] Microsoft mysteriously fixed security gaps allegedly used by US spies a month before they leaked

      Misner’s post showed that three of nine vulnerabilities from the leak were fixed in a March 14 security update. Security commentators were bamboozled. As Ars Technica pointed out, when security holes are discovered, the individual or organization that found them is usually credited in the notes explaining the update. No such acknowledgment was found in the March 14 update.

    • Russian man gets longest-ever US hacking sentence, 27 years in prison [iophk: "because... computer"]

      The Seleznev arrest and trial garnered international attention, in no small part because the 32-year-old hacker is the son of Valery Seleznev, a member of the Russian Parliament and ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Valery Seleznev has accused the US of “kidnapping” his son.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Sorry, No War in North Korea

      I’m so sorry to disappoint so many people, but there is not going to be a war with North Korea.

      No, no, Trump is not going to start a war there. And, no, Kim Jong Un is not going to start a war there. It is not going to happen, despite a cottage industry of pundits who seem to really believe war is only moments away.

      Let’s start with the obvious. A war on the Korean peninsula benefits no one and is really, really bad for everyone (we’ll get to the irrational madman theory in a moment.)

    • The US Drone Warfare Program

      Today’s show is devoted to the US drone warfare program, its consequences for targeted populations, and activists’ efforts to stop it. Selay Ghaffar with the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan joins in by phone from Kabul, and explains who the actual victims of drone strikes are. And three California peace activists (Toby Blome, Eleanor Levine and Mike Rufo) discuss why they’ve made drones the focus of their work, and how they conduct their protests at US Air Force drone bases.

    • What’s Wrong With This Picture? Fawning Praise of Bush’s Veteran Art Ignores Iraqi Victims

      George W. Bush’s recent public relations tour, designed to rebuild his image as a tortured artist wrestling with the demons—a flawed but morally introspective tragic figure—has been remarkably effective. As FAIR (3/7/17) noted last month, Bush has been the lucky recipient of dozens of friendly write-ups, interviews and TV appearances, all with only the mildest of liberal chiding around the margins.

      In all of the fawning press coverage, one thing has been notably absent: Bush’s Iraqi victims.

      Bush’s new PR tour centers around him painting wounded American veterans—foregrounded as the primary negative consequence of Bush’s invasion of Iraq. In ten of the most prominent articles praising Bush in the past few months, not a single one mentions his Iraqi victims…

    • Trump Hopes Paris Attack Boosts Le Pen, One Day After Obama Calls Macron

      In the immediate aftermath of the attack in Paris on Thursday night, claimed by the Islamic State, several French commentators suggested that the presidential election could be swayed by the fatal shooting of a police officer on the Champs-Élysées.

      That’s largely because opinion polls suggest that the electorate was still divided almost evenly between four leading candidates ahead of Sunday’s first round vote, with a large number of undecided voters who could break for the anti-Muslim candidate of the far-right, Marine Le Pen, if fear of terrorism spikes.

    • Trump Sends the World Muddled Messages

      The episode with the Vinson — which was sailing south for an exercise with the Australians as the administration was suggesting publicly that it was sailing north toward Korea — will lead additional foreign observers to conclude that the muscular talk is just talk. This is on top of what was already a severe international credibility problem with a president who has established a well-deserved reputation for dishonesty.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The US Charging Julian Assange Could Put Press Freedom on Trial

      But if the US Department of Justice prosecutes Assange, as it reportedly may soon, he could become something else: the first journalist in modern history to be criminally charged by American courts for publishing classified information. WikiLeaks may not look like a traditional journalism outlet, but it shares the same ends—publishing true information from its sources. And that means legal action against Assange could threaten the freedom of the press as a whole.

    • As US prioritises Julian Assange arrest, UK hints Sweden comes first
    • A WikiLeaks prosecution would endanger the future of US journalism

      Every newspaper worth its salt has published classified information, and who believes the Trump administration, with its press hatred, would stop there?

    • The Guardian view on prosecuting WikiLeaks: don’t do it

      “I love WikiLeaks,” President Donald Trump last year told an adoring crowd on the campaign trail. At around the same time, one of his supporters, Representative Mike Pompeo, tweeted triumphantly that emails from the Democratic National Committee provided “further proof … the fix was in from President Obama on down”. To give his lies authority, he added: “Leaked by WikiLeaks.” Those cloudy and insubstantial allegations have been widely credited with helping Mr Trump win his election, but times are different now. Mr Pompeo is director of the CIA and has denounced WikiLeaks as “a non-state, hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors, like Russia” – something entirely obvious to the rest of the world back when Russia was, in the opinion of many, conspiring to help Mr Trump and Mr Pompeo to attain their present eminence.

      This would be just another example of the shameless dishonesty of the Trump administration, if there were not credible reports that the US Department of Justice is considering an attempt to prosecute WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange. This would threaten one of the core freedoms of the press. Mr Assange is in many ways an unattractive champion of liberty. But he is right to claim that at least sometimes his organisation serves a journalistic function and should be protected in the US by the first amendment. Some of the documents that WikiLeaks has published, and that other media organisations, including the Guardian, have also used, were obtained by means that may have been illegal. But there is a longstanding principle that this does not in itself make their publication illegal. If we, as journalists, had to rely solely on public-spirited and scrupulously honest sources, some very important stories would be missed. Key stories that hold the powerful to account in a democracy would no longer be heard. The defence of a free press is that it doesn’t necessarily make its participants virtuous, but it harnesses some of their vices to the public good. The dumping of unredacted documents, as WikiLeaks did with the Turkish ruling party’s internal emails, is wrong, and so is the apparent refusal to offend powerful patrons. Nonetheless offending or embarrassing the wealthy and the influential – even if they are your friends – is an important function of journalism. It is also constitutionally protected in the US.

    • Arresting Julian Assange is a priority, says US attorney general Jeff Sessions

      Arresting Julian Assange is a priority, says US attorney general Jeff Sessions

    • Donald Trump on US charging Julian Assange: ‘It’s OK with me’

      Donald Trump, who once told supporters “I love WikiLeaks”, has said “it’s OK with me” if the Justice Department wants to charge Julian Assange.

      US officials have prepared charged seeking the arrest of the Wikileaks founder. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has told reporters that securing the arrest of Mr Assange, who has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, is a priority.

    • The Latest: Trump says charges against Assange would be ‘OK’

      President Donald Trump says that if the Justice Department wants to charge WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, “it’s OK with me.”

      Trump says he is not involved in that decision-making process, but would support Attorney General Jeff Sessions if he charged Assange with a crime.

      The administration has stepped up its rhetoric against WikiLeaks in recent days, despite the fact that Trump welcomed the group’s release of a top Hillary Clinton aide’s emails during the election.

      Sessions told reporters Thursday that Assange’s arrest is a priority as the Justice Department steps up efforts to prosecute people who leak classified information to the media. CIA Director Mike Pompeo last week denounced WikiLeaks as a “hostile intelligence service” and a threat to U.S. national security.

    • The Latest: Trump says charges against Assange would be ‘OK’
    • Sessions won’t rule out prosecuting media outlets besides WikiLeaks

      Amid a swirl of reports that U.S. authorities “have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn’t ruling out the possibility that cracking down on WikiLeaks could lead to other media outlets being prosecuted for covering leaks.

      During a Friday morning CNN appearance, Sessions was asked by anchor Kate Bolduan whether “folks should be concerned that this would also open up news organizations like CNN and the New York Times to prosecution.”

      Sessions wouldn’t rule anything out.

      “That’s speculative, and I’m not able to comment on that,” he replied.

    • What’s behind the front-page attack on ‘unknown’ SWEDHR by outmost known DN and all main Sweden’s newspapers?

      Amidst Sweden’s compact oligopoly stream media, with a clear warmongering agenda, just how wide known could become a small organization of professors and doctors fighting for world peace? An organization whose age it is said being less than two years? With no sponsoring or governmental funding as ALL the rest of similar organizations in Sweden? With all media exactly in the opposite ideological side?

      The answer is, “Thanks, quite wide known in Sweden, indeed”. Thanks to this front-page article about us in DN [front-page image above, online edition April 20, 2017], the cable by Swedish news agency TT, and the publications of the same day in Aftonbladet, Expressen, Göteborg Posten, VK, Metro, etc, etc.

      Paradoxically, it was never our goal to become this much known in Sweden. We aimed from the beginning [See SWEDHR Foundation Manifest] to solely intervene in the international debate of human rights and health, and to work for diminishing the current risks of a world conflagration. We believe we had perhaps achieved that goal, when we could document that during 2016, our online magazine The Indicter did receive more than a quarter of million readers. In addition, in less than six months, The Indicter Channel has got over 360,000 subscribers.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Status of forests is ‘dire’ as world marks 2017 Earth Day

      Indonesia, with its thriving paper and palm oil industries, is losing more forest than any other country. Despite a forest development moratorium, the Southeast Asian nation has lost at least 39 million acres since the last century, according to research from the University of Maryland and the World Resources Institute.

    • Collaboration for mapping and estimating peatlands carbon stocks in Indonesia

      Indonesian annual peat fires destroy the environment and pose a public health threat. This project will transfer expertise for better modelling Indonesian peatland extent and depth and promote sustainable peatland management and collaboration between Australian and Indonesian experts.

    • If you live inland, don’t think sea level rise won’t affect you

      There has been less talk about where exactly those people will go when they leave their homes. Research on climate migration has painted sea level rise as “primarily a coastal issue,” writes Mathew E. Hauer in Nature Climate Change this week. But the inland regions that absorb climate change migrants will need to have sufficient transport, housing, and infrastructure to absorb the migrants.

    • Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Longterm Effects on Marine Mammals, Sea Turtles

      A recent Endangered Species Research special issue summarizes some of the devastating longterm effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on protected marine mammals and sea turtles. The issue compiles 20 scientific studies authored by NOAA scientists and partners covering more than five years’ worth of data collection, analysis, and interpretation. The research indicates that populations of several marine mammal and sea turtle species will take decades to rebound. Significant habitat restoration in the region will also be needed.
      NOAA scientists used a variety of cutting-edge research methods in these studies and many others as part of a Natural Resource Damage Assessment. This is the legal process where we investigate the type of injuries caused by the oil spill, quantify how many animals were harmed, develop a restoration plan to compensate for the natural resource injuries, and hold responsible parties liable to pay for the restoration.

    • At NYT, Climate Denial and Racism Don’t Make You Fringe–but Single-Payer Does

      The New York Times is the most influential newspaper in the English-language world, not just because of its reach and leadership status within the industry, but because it defines the boundaries of acceptable debate. Being in the New York Times is a legitimizing event, one that cements ideas as not fringe, “other,” or in the realm of the dreaded, career-ending “conspiracy theory.” So it understandably upset many liberals when the Times decided to bestow upon hard-right Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor Bret Stephens the ultimate stamp of Acceptable Opinion approval by affording him a regular op-ed column in the Times.

    • Earth Day Should Be Called “People of Earth” Day

      You might think of the rainforest or the endangered polar bear on this day, but Earth Day is a commemoration with decidedly American roots, born in 1970 with marches and rallies by 20 million people nationwide.

      It was a time of activism on behalf of civil rights and the environment and it came just two years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act to ban discrimination in housing, and five years after the creation of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • We’re having an election. George Osborne must put his Evening Standard job on hold until it’s over

      This week’s news that the former Chancellor George Osborne had “fallen on his sword, a bit” and decided not to seek re-election as an MP in June’s general election was greeted with applause, however limited, from within senior ranks of the UK Conservative Party.

      Many agreed Osborne was juggling too many post-Treasury roles – in investment, finance, academia, and imminently in journalism as the editor-elect of London’s Standard newspaper – to continue representing his Tatton constituency with any effectiveness.

      Writing in the paper he will shortly be in charge of, Osborne admitted that despite walking away from the House of Commons, he wanted to stay “active in the debate about our country’s future”, that he wanted a Britain that is “free, open and diverse”, and promised to give his readership “straight facts and informed opinion.”

      What this sudden outbreak of self-declared independence omitted to mention was that Osborne’s damascene conversion to the “facts” of politically neutral journalism, will all kick-off (presumably with a flashy fanfare of new-era celebrations at the Standard) at the very beginning of a critical election campaign.

    • Bill Nye: Pruitt, DeVos ‘the least qualified people on the planet’ for their agencies

      Bill Nye the “Science Guy” is taking aim at President Trump’s Cabinet picks, singling out Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (EPA) Scott Pruitt and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as “the least qualified people on the planet” to head their agencies.

      In an interview with the Guardian published on Saturday, Nye accused the Trump administration of “dismantling” the government from within, specifically pointing to White House chief strategist Steve Bannon as a driving force behind the strategy.

    • Surgeon general resigns

      Surgeon General Vivek Murthy resigned at the request of the White House after assisting in the transition to the Trump administration.
      Dr. Murthy’s deputy, Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, will assume the position of acting surgeon general. Trent-Adams, a 24-year veteran of the corps, also served as its chief nurse officer and as deputy associate administrator of the Department of Health and Human Services’ HIV and AIDS bureau.

      The department’s spokeswoman, Alleigh Marré, noted Murthy’s aid to the transition in a statement on his resignation, saying, “Secretary [Tom] Price thanks him for his dedicated service to the nation.”

    • The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty

      Standard media treatment sticks to a simple left-right dualism: “racist” rejection of immigrants is the main issue and that what matters most is to “stop Marine Le Pen!” Going from there to here is like walking through Alice’s looking glass. Almost everything is turned around.

    • Why Hillary Clinton Really Lost

      An early insider account of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, entitled Shattered, reveals a paranoid presidential candidate who couldn’t articulate why she wanted to be President and who oversaw an overconfident and dysfunctional operation that failed to project a positive message or appeal to key voting groups.

    • Science strikes back: anti-Trump march set to draw thousands to Washington

      The satellite marches around the world suggest Trump isn’t the sole cause of scientists’ unease. Globally, there is a “trend of anti-intellectualism”, said Johnson, where politicians play to voters’ base emotions rather than provide evidence-based policy.

    • [Older] Ajit Pai, F.C.C. Chairman, Moves to Roll Back Telecom Rules

      The two specific items to be voted on Thursday include a plan to make it easier for broadband providers to charge other businesses higher prices to connect to the main arteries of their networks. The action would clear the way for internet service providers like AT&T and CenturyLink to raise connection fees charged to hospitals, small businesses and wireless carriers in many markets where there is little or no competition for so-called backhaul broadband service.

      The other item up for vote is a move to ease the limit on how many stations a broadcast television company can own. The action is expected to invite more consolidation in that sector.

    • Karma Catches Up With Bill O’Reilly

      It was, of course, the far-left New York Times (1/10/17) that ran the story that appears to have started the snowball rolling, reporting earlier this month that Fox had paid some $13 million to settle at least five lawsuits from women staffers, who charged the host with things like verbal abuse, sexual comments, unwanted advances and phone calls better left undescribed. Corporate advertisers, undeterred by O’Reilly’s years of on-air racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, outright lying and hate-mongering, evidently decided that was a bridge too far. OK.

      It’s hard not to celebrate the end of the sheer toxicity O’Reilly’s show put out. But activist groups like UltraViolet and Color of Change who worked for his ouster underscore that the problem is bigger than him. Fox News executives gave cover for harassment and abuse for years; there’s no reason to believe that culture has changed, particularly as the network won’t make the results of their investigation public.

    • Palantir No Longer Works For The NSA, CEO Slams Trump In Leaked Video
    • Video surfaces of Palantir CEO slamming Trump, his policies in 2015
    • CEO of Peter Thiel-backed Palantir slams Trump as a ‘bully’ who brags about his ‘fictitious wealth’
    • Palantir’s relationship with America’s spies has been worse than you’d think
    • Portland Executive Covertly Donates $1 Million to Inauguration After Being Shamed Over Trump Support
    • Is a Vote for Your Principles a Wasted Vote?

      I am personally very frustrated and disappointed by negative voting. At the previous election my MP said to me words equivalent to, “Vote for me because at least I’m not one of them.” This is not exactly a resounding reason to do anything.

    • BBC Bias is Clear and Indisputable

      Unless the BBC takes firm disciplinary action against Nick Robinson for this, they cannot keep pretending that the UK any longer holds free and fair elections. For a state broadcaster to show this level of venom and bias against the opposition leader is utterly unacceptable.

      It is indisputable that Robinson’s history is as a high ranking Conservative Party activist. They dominate BBC News, as a plain matter of fact. They have changed the culture of the BBC so they no longer feel any need to disguise their Tory cheerleading.

    • Crushing Dissent: What Theresa Erdogan May’s “Election” Really Looks Like

      This taxi driver was the only member of the public who managed to get anywhere near Theresa May on her much publicised “meet the people” election visit to Bolton yesterday. As not one local person was allowed to speak to her, he is expressing his views in the only way available. He is also exercising his essential democratic right to make his views plain during an election.

      [...]

      That May’s police escort see it as their job to prevent any expression of dissent says everything about the kind of Britain she is creating. It goes along with her failure, twice, to accept Angus Robertson’s invitation to distance herself from the Daily Mail’s “Crush the Saboteurs” headline.

      [...]

      The media picture with which we are presented is not just a distortion, it is the polar opposite of the reality. It was not a “meet the people” visit, it was an “avoid the people” visit. With not even other members of the political establishment being allowed to question her in debate, this is an Uzbek style election in the UK.

    • The Looming Neocon Invasion of Trumpland

      It’s been almost 100 days, and these people still can’t find the car keys. They’ve managed to enflame a fairly routine dust-up with North Korea to the point that even China’s military is going on high alert, all so Trump can look tough and distract everyone from the numerous, burgeoning scandals tied to his presidency and his business relationships. Mike Pence is running around yelling about swords at a country that can’t feed itself. North Korea is a struggling country with a stout paint job; its government pulls these attention-grabbing stunts every so often to raise its visibility in the world, and to broker a back-room deal to get food on the sly so the population doesn’t starve to death. It’s been like this for decades, but leave it to Trump to turn it into the potential strikepad for World War Whatever while losing track of the largest flotation device in maritime history. These guys could screw up the recipe for tap water.

    • Trump Is the Endpoint: Henry A. Giroux on Cruelty and Isolation in US Politics

      Under the Trump regime, an ideology of hardness and cruelty runs through American culture like an electric current, sapping the strength of social relations and individual character, moral compassion and collective action. As civic culture collapses under the weight of a ruthless mix of casino capitalism and a flight from moral responsibility, crimes against humanity now become normalized in a rush of legislation that produces massive amounts of human suffering and misery while widening the scope of those considered disposable. What is new about the culture of cruelty is that its blend of hate, suffering and spectacle has become normalized. Matters of life and death are now being determined by a neo-fascist government that relies increasingly on punishing apparatuses such as the criminal justice system and budgetary policies that bear down ruthlessly on the poor, undocumented immigrants, Muslims and Black youth. In this interview, Henry Giroux argues that it is crucial to understand how matters of life, death and politics converge in a country marked by a rabid notion of individualism, the celebration of profit over human needs and an addiction to violence.

    • So Much for “Draining the Swamp”: Wall Street’s Power Soars Under Trump

      On actual Tax Day, April 18, we headed to the headquarters of Goldman Sachs here in New York to call them out for avoiding $10 billion in taxes, or for rather extracting $10 billion from our tax dollars. [They do this] by exploiting loopholes or their roles in company mergers and acquisitions. We really wanted to send a message that it is not only about Trump releasing his taxes, but it is also about the 1% and companies like Goldman Sachs that really continue to exploit tax loopholes and avoid massive amounts of taxes that could be going to pay for basic services.

    • Russia-Bashing Helps Wall Street Democrats

      National Democrats have used hyperbolic Russia-bashing to shield themselves from blame for Hillary Clinton’s defeat and to block progressives from pulling the party away from Wall Street, writes Norman Solomon.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facial recognition is coming to US airports, fast-tracked by Trump
    • Tell the DHS: Social Media Passwords Should Not Be a Condition of Entry to the U.S.

      New proposals to make U.S. entry screening even more invasive will threaten our privacy, freedom of expression, and digital account security—and you can raise your voice against them.

    • US ‘Deep State’ Sold Out Counter-Terrorism to Keep Itself in Business

      New York Times columnist Tom Friedman outraged many readers when he wrote an opinion piece on 12 April calling on President Trump to “back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria”. The reason he gave for that recommendation was not that US wars in the Middle East are inevitably self-defeating and endless, but that it would reduce the “pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah”.

      That suggestion that the US sell out its interest in counter-terrorism in the Middle East to gain some advantage in power competition with its adversaries was rightly attacked as cynical.

      But, in fact, the national security bureaucracies of the US – which many have come to call the “Deep State” – have been selling out their interests in counter-terrorism in order to pursue various adventures in the region ever since George W Bush declared a “Global War on Terrorism” in late 2001.

    • Cybersecurity for the People: How to Protect Your Privacy at a Protest

      Planning on going to a protest? You might not be aware that just by showing up, you can open yourself up to certain privacy risks — police often spy on protesters, and the smartphones they carry, and no matter how peaceful the demonstration, there’s always a chance that you could get detained or arrested, and your devices could get searched. Watch this video for tips on how to prepare your phone before you go to a protest, how to safely communicate with your friends and document the event, and what to do if you get detained or arrested.

    • The Bill of Rights at the Border: Fifth Amendment Protections for Account Passwords and Device Passcodes

      This is the third and final installment in our series on the Constitution at the border. Today, we’ll focus on the Fifth Amendment and passwords. Click here for Part 1 on the First Amendment or Part 2 on the Fourth Amendment.

    • Who Has Your Back in Chile? First-Annual Report Seeks to Find Out Which Chilean ISPs Stand With Their Users

      Derechos Digitales, the leading digital rights organization in Chile, has launched a new report in collaboration with EFF that evaluates the privacy practices of Chilean Internet Service Providers (ISPs). This project is part of a series across Latin America, adapted from EFF’s annual Who Has Your Back? report. The reports are intended to evaluate mobile and fixed ISPs to see which stand with their users when responding to government requests for personal information. While there’s definitely room for improvement, the first edition of the Chilean ¿Quién Defiende Tus Datos? (Who Defends Your Data?) report has some hopeful indicators.

      Chileans go online more than any other nationality in Latin America. When Chileans use the Internet, they put their most private data, including their online relationships, political, artistic and personal discussions, and even their minute-by-minute movements online. And all of that data necessarily has to go through one of a handful of ISPs. That means that Chileans are more likely to be putting their trust in their providers to defend their data than anyone else in Central or South America.

    • Paraguay’s Internet Companies Defend Data, But Keep Customers in the Dark

      It’s Paraguay’s turn to take a closer look at the practices of their local Internet companies, and how they treat their customer’s private information. Paraguay’s ¿Quien Defiende Tus Datos? (Who Defends Your Data?) is a project of TEDIC, the country’s leading digital rights organization. It’s part of a continent-wide initiative by South America’s leading digital rights groups to shine a light on Internet privacy practices in the region, based on EFF’s annual Who Has Your Back report. (Derechos Digitale’s Chile report was published on Monday, and digital rights groups in Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina will be releasing similar studies soon.)

      TEDIC’s survey comes at a tense moment in Paraguayan politics. After 24 years of relatively stable democracy, the country has spent the last few months caught in a high-stakes political battle. The current President, Horacio Cartes, pushed through an amendment to end his office’s constitutional term limits. The opposition sees echoes of the presidential power-grab that led to Paraguay’s last dictatorship. After riots in March led to setting fire of the Congress and the shooting of an opposition party member by police, Cartes has now declared he will not run for re-election. Still, talk of the “shadow of dictatorship” continues to hover over Asunción. Paraguayan Internet users want to know how their ISPs will defend their data in the event of a repressive or suspicious state.

    • Hollow Privacy Promises from Major Internet Service Providers

      It’s no surprise that Americans were unhappy to lose online privacy protections earlier this month. Across party lines, voters overwhelmingly oppose the measure to repeal the FCC’s privacy rules for Internet providers that Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law.

      But it should come as a surprise that Republicans—including the Republican leaders of the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission—are ardently defending the move and dismissing the tens of thousands who spoke up and told policymakers that they want protections against privacy invasions by their Internet providers.

    • Man sues Confide: I wouldn’t have spent $7/month if I’d known it was flawed

      A man in Michigan has sued Confide, a secure messaging app that is reportedly used by Republicans in the Trump White House, over allegations that the app isn’t nearly as secure when run on a desktop computer, as opposed to a mobile device.

    • Facebook wants to kill the password

      Facebook’s F8 developer conference on Tuesday brought the launch of the beta version of Delegated Account Recovery, a way for the social network to be the backup security key in case you forget your password on different, non-Facebook services.

    • Google bid to quash mail seizure order thrown out

      A magistrate judge in the US has ordered Google to hand over customers’ mail messages it has stored abroad, arguing that since the company has access to them in the US they are subject to federal search warrants.

    • EFF Says Google Chromebooks Are Still Spying on Students

      Google still hasn’t shed its “bad guy” clothes when it comes to the data it collects on underage students. In fact, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says the company continues to massively collect and store information on children without their consent or their parents’. Not even school administrators fully understand the extent of this operation, the EFF says.

    • Method in Trump’s madness?

      The implementation of the Executive Order immediately resulted in substantial chaos in the travel industry as companies aligned their practices to the new reality of ‘non-admission’. It also sparked controversy in many parts of the country owing to the questionable legality of separating families and the constitutionality of the order itself. Several legal challenges were successfully waged in US trial courts, leading to a decision of the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on February 9, which upheld the original decisions and refused to reverse the lower courts. The first plaintiffs in the matters were two states: Washington and Minnesota.

      [...]

      While citizens generally are not required to provide much in the way of documentation other than a passport to enter their own state, they may have to provide substantial amounts of personal data to sponsor third-country national family members or visitors. This information is also now freely available to the US authorities (on a reciprocal basis of course). But the US only has two such agreements in force: with Canada and the UK. Although in principle such agreements were to be concluded between the so-called ‘Five Eye countries’ (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA), no agreement with the latter two countries has yet been concluded. It may simply be that the US has decided that negotiating such agreements requires too much time and has the disadvantage of requiring reciprocity, prompting the authorities to seek a more coercive way to encourage the “sharing” of personal data.

    • Border Agency Under Investigation for Trying to Unmask Anonymous Twitter Account
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Pakistan, Asia Bibi’s trial could resume in June

      The spotlight returned to Asia this week after fierce statements by some prominent imams demanding her execution as “deterrent” for the violence that led to Mashal Khan’s lynching. The Mardan University student was killed, denuded, and tortured for allegedly glorifying the Ahmadi faith.

    • Mob attacks man accused of blasphemy {sic} in northern Pakistan

      It was the third blasphemy-related incident in Pakistan in April, after a student was beaten to death by a lynch mob and a faith healer was shot dead.

    • Tech Companies Continue To Tell Courts To Reject Trump Travel Exec Order

      Earlier this week we noted that 162 tech companies (including us) had signed an amicus brief for the appeal in the 4th Circuit (in Virginia) arguing that President Trump’s travel ban executive order was unlawful.

    • Red Hat joins Amicus Brief opposing legality of U.S. Executive Order on Immigration

      Red Hat today joined more than 150 business leaders and companies, large and small, in asking U.S. Courts of Appeal to affirm lower court decisions enjoining the President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration. The brief lays out the importance of immigration to the U.S. economy and innovation.

    • The Entire Massachusetts Criminal Justice System Is Tainted, Not Just the Dookhan Convictions

      What state saddled its residents with 23,000 wrongful drug convictions, then dedicated millions of taxpayer dollars and years of public labor opposing efforts to get justice for the wrongfully convicted? Surprise, it’s progressive Massachusetts.

      Massachusetts is seriously regressive on criminal justice issues. Despite massive scandals at the Hinton and Amherst drug labs and glaring racial inequities, our elected leaders too often fail to acknowledge what the criminal punishment system is actually doing — or to whom or how. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In the wake of two historic drug lab scandals, resulting in tens of thousands of tainted convictions and ruined lives, we in Massachusetts have an opportunity and obligation to fix the system.

    • Dissent Made Meaningful

      Over the last year, large numbers of Americans have grown politically active for the first time. Reflecting the depth of our constitutional crisis, however, many seem not to know how to meaningfully raise their voices or participate in the political process.

    • Teens Who Engage in ‘Sexting’ Should Not Be Prosecuted as Sex Offenders

      In an early episode of the television series “Girls,” Adam sends Hannah a photo of his penis and then a text message: “SRY that wasn’t for you.”

      Hannah and her friends debate the intention of Adam’s actions, but one thing is clear: The explicit photo he sent isn’t unusual, and it certainly isn’t criminal.

    • California Group Home Liable for Millions in Case of Abused Boy

      A jury in Sacramento, California, last week awarded more than $11 million to the family of a 16-year-old-boy who had been sexually assaulted by a peer at his group home in Davis. The jury found that operators of the group home failed to look after the boy as the facility for troubled youngsters descended into a prolonged period of chaos and violence.

      The boy, Deshaun Becton, was 11 at the time of his 15-month stay at the home, but functioned at the level of a 5-year-old, making him especially vulnerable to children with records of violence and predation, the jury found. One night in May 2013, he disappeared for several hours. As it turned out, he was in a public bathroom of a nearby park, where he was victimized by an older, larger female resident of the home. His parents weren’t notified by the home’s staff for 24 hours after he left.

    • How US Race Laws Inspired Nazism

      In cartoonish U.S. historical understanding, the United States is, was, and ever shall be a force for good, whereas Nazism arose in a distant, isolated land that lacked any connection to other societies. In a cartoonish reversal of that understanding, which would make a good straw man for critics of this book, U.S. policies have been identical to Nazism, which simply copied them. Obviously this is not the case.

      In reality, as we have long known, the U.S. genocide of Native Americans was a source of inspiration in Nazi discussions of expanding to their east, even referring to Ukrainian Jews as “Indians.” Camps for Native Americans helped inspire camps for Jews. Anti-Semites and eugenicists and racists in the U.S. helped inspire those in Germany, and vice versa.

    • A Municipal Vote in Providence for Police Reform Carries National Implications

      After three years of sustained community mobilization and advocacy, the Providence City Council in Rhode Island voted this Thursday to unanimously approve among the most visionary set of policing reforms proposed around the country to protect civil rights and civil liberties, including digital liberties. EFF supported the proposed Community Safety Act (CSA), and its adoption represents a milestone that should prompt similar measures in other jurisdictions.

    • American Airlines investigates after video shows mom in tears

      American Airlines is investigating after a video surfaced on social media showing a confrontation between a passenger and a flight attendant aboard one of its flights.

      The video, filmed by another passenger Friday, appears to be the aftermath of an incident during boarding of a flight from San Francisco to Dallas. It does not show what happened beforehand.

    • At Border Security Expo, Officials Dismiss Trump’s Wall: “I’ve Got 200 Foot Bluffs on my Border”

      There was an elephant in the room — a big, beautiful, concrete elephant — at the Border Security Expo in Texas last week, a gathering of industry and immigration officials, where Trump’s border wall was discussed in tones of measured exasperation. While the conference attendees seemed largely pleased with the president and the public’s attention to their mission, the wisdom of a wall is a conversation that most of these people have been having for over a decade.

      “We already have about 650 miles of various types of wall. We’ll put the wall where it makes sense,” said Randolph “Tex” Alles, the acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in his opening remarks, echoing comments by many former border officials. “It being a contiguous or continuous barrier across the entire border is not what the secretary [of Homeland Security] is talking about.”

      “I don’t think my county needs a border wall. I’ve got 200 foot bluffs on my border,” Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez of Val Verde County in Texas remarked on a panel with other local law enforcement. What’s more, local ranchers “don’t want the federal government on their property” to build a wall.

      The chief of police in San Antonio, William McManus, refused to discuss the matter at all. “It’s all been beaten to death,” he said.

    • Trump Administration Ramps Up Threat to Prosecute Immigrant Parents

      The Trump administration is doubling down on a controversial plan to prosecute immigrant parents who pay to have their children smuggled into the U.S. Speaking at a press conference in El Paso, Texas, Thursday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said that when it comes to enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, “everything’s on the table.”

    • New Jersey Seeks to Sanction Psychologist for Disclosing Patients’ Diagnoses in Court Filings

      The State of New Jersey is moving to revoke or suspend the license of a prominent psychologist, accusing him of failing to prevent details of patients’ mental health diagnoses and treatments from being disclosed when his practice sued them over unpaid bills.

      The complaint against the psychologist, Barry Helfmann, a past president of the New Jersey Psychological Association, followed a ProPublica story published in The New York Times in December 2015 that described the lawsuits and the information they contained.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • British Columbia Winery Has Trademark Opposed By Pre-Packaged Foods Company For Some Reason

        I have personally made something of a crusade as of late out of my position that the world’s trademark offices need to be more nuanced when it comes to the alcohol industry. Far too many disputes have arisen recently between beer breweries, wineries, and spirit-makers, when anyone with a base understanding of those industries realizes how separate they actually are, rendering the potential for customer confusion a moot argument. To the layperson less familiar with both the purpose and nuanced aspects of trademark law, however, this position can require some convincing.

    • Copyrights

      • John Deere just told the copyright office that only corporations can own property, humans can only license it

        John Deere has turned itself into the poster-child for the DMCA, fighting farmers who say they want to fix their own tractors and access their data by saying that doing so violates the 1998 law’s prohibition on bypassing copyright locks.

        Deere’s just reiterated that position to a US Copyright Office inquiry on the future of the law, joined by auto manufacturers (but not Tesla) and many other giant corporations, all of them arguing that since the gadgets you buy have software, and since that software is licensed, not sold, you don’t really own any of that stuff. You are a licensee, and you have to use the gadget according to the license terms, which spell out where you have to buy your service, parts, consumables, apps, and so on.

      • Fansubs for TV shows and movies are illegal, court rules

        Fansubbing—the unofficial creation of fan-made subtitles for TV shows and movies—is illegal, a Dutch court ruled this week.

      • Unauthorized Subtitles For Movies & TV Shows Are Illegal, Court Rules

        A group of fansubbers who turned the tables on BREIN by taking the anti-piracy group to court have lost their legal battle. The Free Subtitles Foundation sought a legal ruling determining that fansubbers act within the law, but this week the Amsterdam District Court sided with BREIN on all counts.

      • RIAA Sues ISP Grande Communications For Failing to Disconnect Pirates

        The RIAA has sued Grande Communications for failing to take action against its pirating subscribers. The music industry group says that the Texas-based ISP’s subscribers engaged in more than a million BitTorrent-based infringements yet took “no meaningful action to discourage this continuing theft.”

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