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04.25.17

Links 25/4/2017: Kali Linux 2017.1 Released, NSA Back Doors in Windows Cause Chaos

Posted in News Roundup at 5:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Dark times for OmniOS – an Oracle-free open-source Solaris project

    Development of OmniOS – an Oracle-free open-source variant of Solaris – is being killed after five years of work.

    Active development of OmniOS by OmniTI is being suspended, we’re told, with its current beta being the final release. OmniOS is a distribution of Illumos, which is derived from OpenSolaris, Sun’s open-source flavor of Solaris.

  • Apache Fineract Open-Source Financial Services Application Graduates

    Ever wanted to build your own banking platform? Now you can with the open-source Fineract project.

    The open-source Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has many different processes, including one for how a new project can be incubated, mature and eventually graduate to become a Top-Level Project.

  • Open Source Stats–But What Do the Numbers Mean?

    I recently sent a report to project management containing some numbers that purport to describe the status of the RDO project.

    I got a long and thoughtful response from one of the managers—we’ll call him Mark—and it seems worthwhile sharing some of his insights. To summarize, what he said was, don’t bother collecting stats if they don’t tell a story.

    [...]

    We track “downloads” of RDO, which roughly speaking means every time someone runs the quickstart and it grabs the RPM. Except RDO is on a mirror network, so that number is false—or, at best, it reflects what the trends might be across the rest of the mirror network. So we have no idea what this metric means. So why are we bothering to track it? Just stop.

  • Baidu Open-Sources Its Software To To Speed Up The Development Of Autonomous Car Tech

    Baidu, China’s largest search engine, said last week that it’s opening up its self-driving technology to drive the development of the budding industry. At the Shanghai Auto Show, according to the Financial Times, the company said the project would provide an “open, complete and reliable software platform for its partners in the automotive and autonomous driving industry to develop their own autonomous driving systems.”

  • Baidu to Launch Autonomous Cars by 2020
  • Baidu Self-Driving Vehicle Platform Started Trails
  • The “Google of China” Is Releasing a Self-Driving Operating System for Free
  • Baidu’s New “Project Apollo” Opens Its Self-Driving Vehicle Tech Platform
  • Haivision and Wowza Form SRT Alliance to Support New Open Source Low Latency Video Streaming Initiative

    Developers can also improve upon, use, and re-contribute (under LGPLv2 license) to SRT.

  • Wowza, Haivision launch SRT Alliance
  • Haivision and Wowza Launch SRT Alliance for Low-Latency Streaming
  • NAB 2017: Wowza, Haivision make SRT protocol open-source
  • Release Update: Prometheus 1.6.1 and Sneak Peak at 2.0

    After 1.5.0 earlier in the year, Prometheus 1.6.1 is now out. There’s a plethora of changes, so let’s dive in.

    The biggest change is to how memory is managed. The -storage.local.memory-chunks and -storage.local.max-chunks-to-persist flags have been replaced by -storage.local.target-heap-size. Prometheus will attempt to keep the heap at the given size in bytes. For various technical reasons, actual memory usage will be higher so leave a buffer on top of this. Setting this flag to 2/3 of how much RAM you’d like to use should be safe.

  • Events

    • OpenStack for Research Computing

      In this video from Switzerland HPC Conference, Stig Telfer from StackHPC presents: OpenStack for Research Computing. OpenStack is a cloud operating system that controls large pools of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout a datacenter, all managed through a dashboard that gives administrators control while empowering their users to provision resources through a web interface.

    • Martin Casado at ONS: Making SDN Real

      Software Defined Networking (SDN) has evolved significantly since the concept began to be considered in the 1990s, and Martin Casado, General Partner, Andreessen Horowitz, used his keynote at the Open Networking Summit to talk about how he’s seen SDN change over the past 10 years.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Continues to Oppose the U.S. Administration’s Executive Order on Travel

        Mozilla and more than 150 other tech companies continue to oppose the U.S. administration’s revised Executive Order on travel as it winds its way through the U.S. Court system.

        This order seeks to temporarily prohibit the U.S. Government from issuing new visas to travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries and suspend the U.S refugee program. Soon after it was issued, two federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland held the revised order to be discriminatory and unconstitutional. So far, their decisions have prevented the order from being enforced, but the administration has appealed to higher courts asking for a reversal.

  • Healthcare

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • FSFE Fellowship Representative, OSCAL’17 and other upcoming events

      The Free Software Foundation of Europe has just completed the process of electing a new fellowship representative to the General Assembly (GA) and I was surprised to find that out of seven very deserving candidates, members of the fellowship have selected me to represent them on the GA.

      I’d like to thank all those who voted, the other candidates and Erik Albers for his efforts to administer this annual process.

    • Linux Foundation and Free Software Foundation Europe Introduce Resources to Support Open Source Software License Identification and Compliance

      The open sourcing of “cregit,” the underlying tool used at cregit.linuxsources.org, provided by The Linux Foundation. cregit enables easy access to and improves the visibility of details in the history of changes in source code files.

    • The Linux Foundation and FSFE introduces new OSS resources

      The open-source landscape can be tricky to navigate with the different projects, licenses, and compliance requirements. The Linux Foundation and Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) are announcing new resources to simplify free and open-source software license identification and compliance.

    • Open Source Groups Provide New Licensing Resources

      Newcomers to free and open source software (FOSS) might be bewildered by the variety of licenses that dictate how users can use community offerings.

      For example, the Open Source Initiative lists nine “popular licenses” and Wikipedia lists dozens more coming in a variety of flavors for different purposes. Those purposes include linking, distribution, modification, patent grant, private use, sublicensing and trademark grant.

  • Public Services/Government

    • France: How a high school association finally obtained a source code

      In October 2016, the association Droit des Lycéens, which represents French high school students and helps them assert their rights, finally obtained the source code of an algorithm that influences students’ choice of university after the Baccalauréat exam. This puts an end to a conflict lasting more than seven months between the association and the Ministry of Education, which until then had refused to publish the source code of its tool.

      The opening of algorithms and calculators is a flagship measure in the French law for a digital republic that was passed in 2016. Since then, France has started to publish some source codes, such as the personal tax calculator in April 2016. This may have created a precedent for the present case, according to the association.

      The algorithm in question forms the core of the APB (Admission Post-Bac) online platform, which is used by all students in France. It allows them to enter their preferences in terms of universities and syllabus, and helps match applicants to available places. But Droit des Lycéens believes that the calculation method has been kept secret by the Ministry, and lacks transparency.

    • OFE welcomes continued emphasis on openness in EIF

      The OpenForum Europe (OFE) think tank welcomes the publication of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF). This document continues to emphasise the importance of openness, the organisation writes on its blog.

    • Czech Finance Ministry app boosts open data, source

      A data visualisation application developed in 2015 by the Czech Ministry of Finance, is helping to promote the publication of open data, and is making the case for open source software development across the government. The tool, called Supervizor, was one of the winners of the European Commission’s Sharing and Reuse Award. At the Sharing and Reuse Conference in Lisbon (Portugal), on 29 March, Supervizor was awarded EUR 15,000 – to help the project expands its reach.

    • Garanti Bank Romania implemented Allevo’s open source solution for processing payments

      Garanti Bank Romania selected FinTP, Allevo’s open source solution to connect to SWIFTNet, ensuring compliance to SEPA standards and regulations, in order to optimize its operations. The bank continues, as such, to grow rapidly on the Romanian market, offering better services to its customers.

      By adopting FinTP, Garanti Bank Romania benefits from a technology that drives cost reduction and conveys full control over the source code of the application, thus eliminating the vendor lock-in dependence, while gaining access to a transparent product development process and transparent product audit.

      [...]

      FinTP is distributed under the free GPL v3 open source license. This distribution model is different from what vendors in this industry practice, its main advantage being that it removes any dependence on the vendor.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • States to Cut College Costs by Introducing Open-source Textbooks

        These two states are moving to slash the astronomical costs of higher education by introducing open source textbooks.

        The University System of Maryland awarded mini-grants to 21 recipients across 12 different universities for converting all of their reading materials to open source platforms for students. Between the 7 Maryland community colleges and 5 public four-year institutions, the initiative has the potential to save over 8,000 students $1.3 million in textbook costs over the Fall 2017 semester.

        New York state Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is also moving to invest $8 million of the state budget into open source educational materials. The budget also included a new proposal that will provide free college tuition to any families or students in the state making less than $125,000 per year.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway: hardware hackers face the climate apocalypse

    Science fiction has long served as a platform for the hashing out of big social, political and economic issues, either metaphorically or literally. Cory Doctorow has never been shy of speaking their names directly, whether examining the implications of the surveillance state or the shifting of social and economic forces caused by technology. In his first novel for an adult audience in eight years, Doctorow revisits many of the themes he’s written about in the past, and he refines them into a compelling, cerebral “hard” science fiction narrative of a not-too distant future that ranks with some of the best of the genre.

    Walkaway (from Tor Books, which releases on April 25 in hardcover) is a very Doctorow-y book. Intensely smart and tech-heavy, it still manages maintains the focus on its human (or in some cases, post-human) protagonists. Walkaway is also full of big ideas about both the future and our current condition, and it has enough philosophical, social, and political commentary lurking just below the surface to fuel multiple graduate theses.

  • Arca Noae “Blue Lion” Nearing Release, Letting OS/2 Live On

    or those still having OS/2 software to run or just missing the days of OS/2, the software firm Arca Noae that is run by OS/2 veterans is preparing a new installment of the operating system with blessings from IBM.

    Arca Noae is preparing this week to release their final beta of ArcaOS 5.0 “Blue Lion”to allow OS/2 software to run on modern hardware. Blue Lion can run on modern devices with USB support, AHCI / SATA, and other modern hardware compared to when OS/2 development ended in the late 90′s. The final/GA release of ArcaOS 5.0 is expected soon.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Recursive DNS Server Fingerprint Problem

      Our goal is to identify hijacked resolvers by analyzing their fingerprints, in order to increase safety of Internet users. To do that, we utilize data collected via RIPE Atlas (atlas.ripe.net).

    • Online developer tutorials are spreading XSS and SQL injection flaws

      The researchers, from across three universities in Germany and Trend Micro, checked the PHP code bases of more than 64,000 projects on Github and uncovered more than 100 vulnerabilities that they believe might have been introduced as a result of developers picking up the code that they used from online tutorials.

    • BrickerBot, the permanent denial-of-service botnet, is back with a vengeance

      BrickerBot, the botnet that permanently incapacitates poorly secured Internet of Things devices before they can be conscripted into Internet-crippling denial-of-service armies, is back with a new squadron of foot soldiers armed with a meaner arsenal of weapons.

    • Reproducible Builds: week 104 in Stretch cycle
    • Webroot antivirus goes bananas, starts trashing Windows system files

      Webroot’s security tools went berserk today, mislabeling key Microsoft Windows system files as malicious and temporarily removing them – knackering PCs in the process.

      Not only were people’s individual copies of the antivirus suite going haywire, but also business editions and installations run by managed service providers (MSPs), meaning companies and organizations relying on the software were hit by the cockup.

      Between 1200 and 1500 MST (1800 and 2100 UTC) today, Webroot’s gear labeled Windows operating system data as W32.Trojan.Gen – generic-Trojan-infected files, in other words – and moved them into quarantine, rendering affected computers unstable. Files digitally signed by Microsoft were whisked away – but, luckily, not all of them, leaving enough of the OS behind to reboot and restore the quarantined resources.

    • How The Update Framework Improves Security of Software Updates

      Updating software is one of the most important ways to keep users and organizations secure. But how can software be updated securely? That’s the challenge that The Update Framework (TUF) aims to solve.

      Justin Cappos, assistant professor at New York University, detailed how TUF works and what’s coming to further improve the secure updating approach in a session at last week’s DockerCon 17 conference in Austin, Texas. Simply using HTTPS and Transport Layer Security (TLS) to secure a download isn’t enough as there have been many publicly reported instances of software repositories that have been tampered with, Cappos said.

    • Malware Hunts And Kills Poorly Secured Internet Of Things Devices Before They Can Be Integrated Into Botnets

      Researchers say they’ve discovered a new wave of malware with one purpose: to disable poorly secured routers and internet of things devices before they can be compromised and integrated into botnets. We’ve often noted how internet-of-broken-things devices (“smart” doorbells, fridges, video cameras, etc.) have such flimsy security that they’re often hacked and integrated into botnets in just a matter of seconds after being connected to the internet. These devices are then quickly integrated into botnets that have been responsible for some of the worst DDoS attacks we’ve ever seen (including last October’s attack on DYN).

    • Google zero-trust security framework goes beyond passwords

      With a sprawling workforce, a wide range of devices running on multiple platforms, and a growing reliance on cloud infrastructure and applications, the idea of the corporate network as the castle and security defenses as walls and moats protecting the perimeter doesn’t really work anymore. Which is why, over the past year, Google has been talking about BeyondCorp, the zero-trust perimeter-less security framework it uses to secure access for its 61,000 employees and their devices.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • NSA Malware ‘Infects Nearly 200,000 Systems’
    • Former Spies’ Dubious Claim: Release Of NSA’s Windows Exploits Has Seriously Harmed National Security
    • NSA’s DoublePulsar Kernel Exploit In Use Internet-Wide

      MS17-010 was released in March and it closes a number of holes in Windows SMB Server exploited by the NSA. Exploits such as EternalBlue, EternalChampion, EternalSynergy and EternalRomance that are part of the Fuzzbunch exploit platform all drop DoublePulsar onto compromised hosts. DoublePulsar is a sophisticated memory-based kernel payload that hooks onto x86 and 64-bit systems and allows an attacker to execute any raw shellcode payload they wish.

    • Hackers uncork experimental Linux-targeting malware [Ed: Not a Linux problem; if you have easy-to-guess username+password, then obviously you're in trouble. It's like blaming the gate for intrusion when you've left it wide open.]

      Hackers have unleashed a new malware strain that targets Linux-based systems.

      The Linux/Shishiga malware uses four different protocols (SSH, Telnet, HTTP and BitTorrent) and Lua scripts for modularity, according to an analysis of the nasty by security researchers at ESET.

      Shishiga relies on the use of weak, default credentials in its attempts to plant itself on insecure systems through a bruteforcing attack, a common hacker tactic. A built-in password list allows the malware to try a variety of different passwords to see if any allow it in.

    • Securing Docker, One Patch at a Time

      Finding and fixing vulnerabilities is a good thing, according to Docker engineer Michael Crosby. In a standing-room only session at the DockerCon conference in Austin, Texas last week, Crosby went into detail on how the open-source container project deals with vulnerabilities.

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Koch Industries and Other Corporations Lobbied for Donald Trump’s Cabinet Picks, Filings Show

      Many of Donald Trump’s cabinet nominations faced vocal opposition from constituents and public interest groups. But well-connected corporate lobbyists stalked the halls of Congress to make sure Trump’s team was confirmed by the Senate, new filings show.

      Koch Industries, a fossil fuel conglomerate that owns a variety of business interests that have clashed with environmental regulators, directly lobbied to help confirm Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

      The firm’s latest disclosure form reports that its in-house corporate lobbying team spent $3.1 million to influence lawmakers over the first three months of the year on a variety of issues affecting its bottom line, including the EPA’s Clean Power Rule on carbon emissions, carbon pricing, the Clean Air Act and “nominations for various positions at the Department of Energy.”

  • Finance

    • Wipro sacks 600 employees on ‘performance grounds’

      Indian IT companies get over 60 per cent of their revenues from the North American market, about 20 per cent from Europe and the remaining from other economies.

    • Infosys, TCS, Cognizant violating H-1B visa norms: US official

      WASHINGTON: The US has complained that Indian blue chip IT firms Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Cognizant unfairly get the lion’s share of H-1B visas by putting extra tickets into the lottery system, which the Trump administration wants to replace with a ‘merit-based’ immigration policy.
      A Trump administration official said at a White House briefing last week that a small number of giant outsourcing firms flood the system with applications, which increases their chances of success in the lottery draw.

    • BitTorrent Inventor Bram Cohen Will Start His Own Cryptocurrency

      BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen has already earned a spot in the Internet hall of fame, but he’s not done yet. In recent years he’s taken a strong interest in cryptocurrencies, something he will devote himself full-time to in the near future. This includes launching a new cryptocurrency which addresses some of the challenges facing Bitcoin.

    • Brexit campaign was largely funded by five of UK’s richest businessmen

      The five contributed £15m out of a total £24.1m given to Leave campaigns in the five months before the referendum

    • Brexit brain drain threatens UK universities, MPs warn

      The government is being urged to act swiftly to halt a post-Brexit brain drain which threatens the international competitiveness of the UK’s university sector.

      A significant new report by MPs sitting on the Commons education committee says the rights of 32,000 university staff from EU countries to continue working in the UK should be guaranteed as a matter of urgency.

      It says the government should be prepared to unilaterally agree the rights of EU nationals in the UK before the end of the year, even if a reciprocal deal has not been agreed, to prevent an exodus of talented EU staff leaving the UK for competitor countries.

      Launching the report, Neil Carmichael, the Conservative chairman of the committee, said: “Higher education in the UK is a world leader, but Brexit risks damaging our international competitiveness and the long-term success of our universities.”

    • Brexit university ‘brain drain’ warning

      University staff from EU countries should be guaranteed a right to stay and work in the UK after Brexit to avoid a “damaging brain drain”, says a report from MPs.

      The education select committee wants urgent steps taken to end uncertainty over the future status of EU academics.

      The MPs also want overseas students to be taken out of migration figures.

      Committee chairman Neil Carmichael said Brexit risks damaging universities’ “international competitiveness”.

    • Developing Countries Lay Out E-Commerce Plan As Basis For WTO Ministerial

      A group of ministers from developing countries released a roadmap today for global digital commerce discussions, aimed at paving the way to discussions on electronic commerce at the World Trade Organization ministerial conference in December.

    • Nestlé set to cut 300 UK jobs and move production of Blue Riband bars to Poland

      “The Government needs to step in before it’s too late – and reassure millions of workers across the country this is not just the tip of the Brexit iceberg.”

    • President Trump’s dramatic retreat on trade

      Trade was a major theme in President Trump’s campaign.

      He repeatedly complained that our trade negotiators were stupid and therefore had negotiated bad trade agreements. These bad trade deals are the cause of our trade deficits, which have cost us millions of manufacturing jobs over the last two decades.

      Trump made very specific promises to turn things around once he was in the White House. In “Donald Trump’s Contract with the American Voter,” his “100-day action plan to Make America Great Again” included two very clear trade-related promises:

    • The Bewildered Wilbur Ross

      Now, the whiners in the US lumber industry don’t want Canadian lumber in their market but they can’t exclude it. Instead they whine that the royalty system is government intrusion in the market, a subsidy, when it’s not. It’s a tax. Effectively, the Canadian tax is less than the USAian tax determined by auctions. They keep taking this to court and LOSING.

      So, bewildered Wilbur and stupid USAians who think the world should do things their way are doing everything they can to drive exports of softwood lumber to China and India… Smart. Real smart. Perhaps USAians won’t mind rising costs for building homes and shortages of lumber and deforestation and … Look, we Canadians don’t have to do things USA’s way. We are a free nation of free people and we choose our own path.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • EU leaders: We’re not meddling by backing Macron

      As EU leaders rushed to praise Emmanuel Macron, they were confronted with questions about how appropriate it is for Brussels to intervene in a national election amid fears of a backlash from French voters.

      Perhaps nowhere was the question as irresistible — or inevitable — as in Moscow, where the pro-Kremlin television network Russia Today pressed the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, to explain a tweet she sent Sunday night that appeared to hail Macron as “the hope and future of our generation.”

    • Breitbart News Denied Permanent Capitol Hill Press Credentials

      The Senate Press Gallery’s Standing Committee of Correspondents chose to deny permanent Hill credentials to Breitbart News on Tuesday morning.

      Breitbart has been using temporary press credentials for over two years as it has attempted to meet the press gallery’s requirements. The committee has repeatedly extended its temporary passes after deciding Breitbart has not met those requirements, and more recently for not providing adequate evidence of severing its ties with former executive chairman and current White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

    • White House official Gorka walks out of ‘fake news’ event

      White House national security staffer Sebastian Gorka faced off with student critics he described as “victims of fake news” at a Georgetown University panel on Monday, eventually walking out of the event in the middle of the question-and-answer period.

      Gorka, a deputy assistant to President Trump, blamed “fake news” — the topic of the panel — for a series of stories alleging connections between him and far-right or anti-Semitic Hungarian political organizations.

    • U.S. government shutdown threat recedes after Trump’s wall concession

      The threat of a U.S. government shutdown this weekend appeared to recede on Tuesday after President Donald Trump backed away from a demand that Congress include funding for his planned border wall with Mexico in a spending bill.

      In remarks to conservative news media outlets that were confirmed by the White House, Trump said on Monday evening he may wait until Republicans begin drafting the budget blueprint for the fiscal year that starts on Oct. 1 to seek funds for the wall.

      Trump’s fellow Republicans control both chambers of Congress but the current funding bill, which has to be passed by Friday night, will need 60 votes to clear the 100-member Senate, where Republicans hold 52 seats and so will have to get some Democratic support. Democratic leaders had said it would not get it if funds for the wall were included.

    • Senate ID Cards Use A Photo Of A Chip Rather Than An Actual Smart Chip

      Our government isn’t exactly known for its security chops, but in a letter sent recently from Senator Ron Wyden to two of his colleagues who head the Committee on Rules & Administration, it’s noted that (incredibly), the ID cards used by Senate Staffers only appear to have a smart chip in them. Instead of the real thing, some genius just decided to put a photo of a smart chip on each card, rather than an actual smart chip. This isn’t security by obscurity, it’s… bad security through cheap Photoshopping.

    • If ever there was a time to vote Labour, it is now

      Where are the nose-pegs this time? Those who tolerated anything the Labour party did under Blair tolerate nothing under Corbyn. Those who insisted that we should vote Labour at any cost turn their backs as it seeks to recover its principles.

      They proclaimed undying loyalty when the party stood for the creeping privatisation of the NHS, the abandonment of the biggest corruption case in British history, the collapse of Britain’s social housing programme, bans on peaceful protest, detention without trial, the kidnap and torture of innocent people and an illegal war in which hundreds of thousands died. They proclaim disenchantment now that it calls for the protection of the poor, the containment of the rich and the peaceful resolution of conflict.

    • Hearing Set for Class Action Lawsuit Against DNC

      After deliberating since October 2016, a federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has recently issued an order for appearance to the lawyers representing the DNC and former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the plaintiffs representing Bernie Sanders supporters, Jared Beck and Elizabeth Lee Beck. The hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. on April 25, when the judge is expected to announce the court’s decision in response to the DNC’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The lawsuit was initially filed in June 2016 in response to the mounting evidence that Wasserman Schultz used the DNC to tip the scales in Hillary Clinton’s favor during the Democratic primaries.

    • Giving NY’s Governor a $783,000 Bribe Is Business as Usual for Rupert Murdoch

      Buffalo News headline (4/18/17) asked a pointed question about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “How Did Cuomo Make $783,000 on Memoir That Sold 3,200 Copies?”

      The accompanying article did not delve particularly deep into the mystery, beyond noting that the royalty amounts to $245 per copy for a book that retails on Amazon for $13.05, and that it more than doubled Cuomo’s income for 2016, when his $216,000 in royalties topped the $168,000 he got as his gubernatorial salary. “This payment was contractual and per the agreement with the publisher,” a Cuomo spokesperson told the News.

      The identity of that publisher—HarperCollins, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp—goes a long way to solving the mystery: Murdoch has long made a practice of funneling large payments to influential politicians via HarperCollins book contracts, in what amounts to a system of legalized bribery.

    • BREAKING: Federal judge blocks Trump’s attack on ‘sanctuary cities’

      The Justice Department threatened to cut off grant funding to eight cities on Friday — unless those cities provide more support to federal officials trying to crack down on undocumented immigrants. But DOJ’s threat is unconstitutional and is highly unlikely to survive a lawsuit.

      In fact, the Justice Department’s threat against these eight cities appears to be so amateurish and so poorly aligned with longstanding Supreme Court precedent that it raises serious questions about whether the threat was properly vetted.

      At issue is funding for so-called “sanctuary cities,” a term that’s often used for cities that choose not to cooperate with federal efforts to arrest immigrants.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Iran sucks at censoring apps, so the Persian diaspora is using them for unfiltered political discussion

      Maziar Bahari is a dissident, exiled Iranian journalist who was imprisoned and tortured by the regime for 118 days in 2009. Now he runs Iranwire, a leading Persian politics site. They’ve just launched Sandoogh96 (Vote 2017), an app that publishes independent political news. Word of the app is spreading in Iran, and it’s challenging the dominant narrative.

    • China’s Public Prosecutors Complain About Leak Of Anti-Corruption TV Series They Bankrolled To Raise Awareness

      China’s state prosecutors are not normally in the business of bankrolling TV productions. Presumably, they took that unusual step on this occasion because it was important to increase public support for Xi Jinping’s long-running fight against corruption’s “tigers” and “flies” using a medium that would reach a much wider audience than dull government speeches or press articles exhorting them to do the same.

      One of the best ways to ensure the widest possible audience for that message would be to allow the TV series to appear on sites for people to download freely. So asking the companies running them to remove copies in order to “protect” the official broadcasts seems perverse. If anything, it shows that respect for copyright in China has now gone so far as to be harmful to more serious matters like tackling the country’s corruption.

    • DFB backs Bild over claims of Russian censorship for Confederations Cup

      German Football Association (DFB) president Reinhard Grindel has backed the Bild newspaper over claims of Russian censorship ahead of this summer’s Confederations Cup.

      Bild, Germany’s most popular paper, has said it will boycott this summer’s Confederations Cup in Russia if journalists are not given freedom to report as they please.

      Print journalists attending the event — which serves as a warm-up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia — have been informed that they will be restricted in their travelling and reporting.

    • North Korean censorship

      The AP maintains a permanent presence in the country, with a small team of international correspondents and photographers, and a few North Koreans who work primarily as fixers. Eric Talmadge, who has led the bureau since 2013, likens working in Pyongyang to being embedded with the military. “Obviously the context is quite different,” he said. “But in practical and psychological terms, I find it very similar to my experiences embedded in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

      The freedoms granted to the AP reporters are denied to would-be journalists from inside the country, said Kang Cheol Hwan, president of the North Korea Strategy Center. “Journalism in North Korea is run by the state,” Kang said.

    • Film can apply for censorship: Central Board of Film Certification

      For two years, he has been waiting for his chance to apply to CBFC. But the authorities refused to entertain him since the title of his movie didn’t have a registration from the Eastern India Motion Pictures Association (EIMPA). On Monday, his problem was finally resolved after an instruction came from the CEO of CBFC. Many other independent filmmakers apart from Mukherjee stand to benefit after CBFC’s new stance.

    • It’s Time to Crush Campus Censorship
    • Anti-Censorship Coalition Pushes Back Against Challenge of Manga Novel in Jerome Middle School Library
    • Legislature: Student journalists not entitled to censorship protections

      Legislation designed to protect student journalists from censorship has hit a roadblock Thursday amid criticism from some lawmakers that they’re not entitled to those protections.

      House Majority Leader John Allen, R-Scottsdale, yanked SB 1384 from consideration after more than an hour of debate over its merits. Allen told Capitol Media Services he was unsure whether there were sufficient votes on the floor for approval.

      Allen said the measure still could be resurrected. But he said Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, who crafted the legislation and got it approved unanimously in the Senate, is going to have to work to convince some House foes to drop their opposition.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • User Safety is a Myth call 911

      Hotmail is boycotting a vital service to all humanity, they are boycotting the use of a VPN service, the thing that actually improves user safety. What if you live in a country like China or just happen to be traveling there, where the government blocks access to U.S. email services like Hotmail, what could be done? The thing a VPN is good for, to access the Internet when a government is blocking it, to read your emails, to let other Chinese folks read their emails too. Hopefully not being arrested for using a VPN. I would expect Hotmail to understand how important the use of a VPN is to humanity.

    • NZ spied on Japan to help US – NSA document

      New Zealand spied on Japan to help the United States at an international whaling meeting in 2007, according to a classified National Security Agency document.

      The Intercept website published the paper, received from US whistleblower Edward Snowden, as part of an article on Japan’s secretive relationship with the National Security Agency.

    • Ex-NSA techies launch data governance tool for future algorithm-slavery
    • Immuta adds accountability and control for project-based data science
    • Immuta Launches ‘Projects’ to Help Data Science Teams Comply with GDPR
    • Privacy-Related Worries Are Keeping Users From Using E-Commerce, Survey At UNCTAD Finds

      A global survey on internet security and trust found users are worried about privacy, and in particularly wary of cybercriminals, internet companies, and governments. This lack of trust is hurting the potential of electronic commerce, the survey revealed.

    • NSA newsletter reveals ‘critical gaps’ in intelligence during ’04 North Korea drill

      Newly released documents sourced from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal details of the intelligence community’s planning for large-scale evacuations and the response to a North Korea attack.

      The Intercept news website – run by Glenn Greenwald and a team of investigative journalists – released a batch of 251 internal National Security Agency newsletters, a publication called SIDtoday.

    • Attorney says no attempts from Trump administration to contact Snowden

      “No, no one tried to contact him. I believe that Snowden clarified his position which has not changed. Nothing has changed actually, he still lives and works in Russia,” the attorney said.

      Kucherena added that Snowden continued to learn Russian.

      “He started to learn the Russian language and he can already speak a little of it,” the attorney said.

    • Legislators, School Administrators Back Off Cellphone Search Bill After Running Into ACLU Opposition

      Supporters of the bill claim the lack of an exception to the privacy law leaves administrators powerless. True, a school administrator can’t seek a warrant to access the contents of a student’s phone, but there are options schools can use rather than exempt every California student from the state’s privacy law.

      Most schools have electronic device policies that tie search consent to school attendance, which usually includes personal electronic devices along with vehicles parked on school grounds and lockers. A consensual search — even if performed under an “implied consent” standard rather than a more affirmative version — is still a “clean” search, though possibly one less likely to survive a courtroom challenge. Many schools also have police officers on staff. Whether or not these officers can seek warrants to access phone contents is unclear, but in cases of suspected criminal conduct, this would be turned over to law enforcement anyway.

    • Cars will get superior digital vision with ARM’s camera chip

      A camera inside a car could also identify [...]

  • Civil Rights/Policing

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is expected to unveil new net neutrality plans on Wednesday
    • Canada Rushes To Defend Net Neutrality As The U.S. Moves To Dismantle It

      Here in the States, regulators and Congress are preparing to gut our existing net neutrality rules — replacing them with the policy equivalent of wet tissue paper. In Canada, regulators are taking the complete opposite tack, last week cementing the country’s net neutrality rules as some of the most comprehensive in the world.

      After years of some obnoxious behavior by Canadian ISPs like Rogers, Canadian regulators adopted guidelines back in 2009 that prevent ISPs from blocking websites, while requiring that they’re transparent about network management. In 2013, those guidelines were expanded to cover zero rating after Ben Klass, a graduate student in telecommunications, filed a complaint with the CRTC over zero rating. Specifically, Klass and his co-filers noted that Bell had begun exempting its own streaming video service from the company’s usage caps, thereby putting smaller streaming competitors at a notable disadvantage.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Paul Hansmeier Argues Convicting Him Of Fraud Would Seriously Damage The Judicial System

        It looks like Prenda’s Paul Hansmeier isn’t nearly as interested John Steele in striking a deal with the feds. Of course, Steele folded immediately, offering up Hansmeier as bus undercoating, which likely means Hansmeier isn’t being feted by feds with plea deals.

        The 17-count indictment relayed a story familiar to Techdirt readers, since we have covered nearly every part of the scam: a get-rich-quick scheme that paid off at first for Prenda, but quickly unraveled as courts (and many copyright troll fighters) uncovered fake defendants, shell companies, forged documents, and honeypot-as-business-model tactics.

      • With Register of Copyrights bill, big media seeks its own in-house lobbyist

        Why are advocates for major media and entertainment companies pushing Congress to rush through a bill that would make the U.S.’s top copyright official— the Register of Copyrights— a position appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate? Unfortunately, it is likely because the new appointment process will increase the ability of the incumbent copyright lobby to influence the Copyright Office, to the detriment consumers, creators and innovators.

        H.R. 1695’s supporters insist that it would increase accountability by giving Congress more of a voice in the selection process. But in practice, making the appointment one more contentious political contest would create a Register who’s only really accountable to the lobbyists and special interests that help her get selected and confirmed. Indeed, proponents of the bill have touted it as a measure that will better enable the Copyright Office to serve the interests of the “creative industries.”

      • New Survey: Most Millennials Both Pay For Streaming Services And Use Pirate Streams When Content Isn’t Legally Available

        For any of the entrenched entertainment players seated comfortably in their lofty offices, quite used to counting stacks of money and calling it a profession, they likely already know this fearful mantra: the millennials are coming. Millennials, and even more so the generations younger than them, are driving changes in the entertainment industry. These younger consumers are largely responsible for the cord-cutting trend winding its way through the cable industry, not to mention being the force behind ever-expanding streaming options for everything from movies to television shows and live sports. These are the customers of the future. Customers that will outlive a public that became used to having bloated cable television packages filled with channels and content fit to be ignored.

      • The RIAA is Now Copyright Troll Rightscorp’s Biggest Customer

        Music industry group RIAA, which represents the leading recording labels in the US, is now a major customer of anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp. In fact, the RIAA’s commitment to the copyright troll outfit is so significant that its business accounted for 44% of Rightscorp’s revenue in 2016.

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