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05.22.17

Great News: While IBM et al Try to Undermine Patent Reform the Supreme Court Deepens the Reform in TC Heartland Case

Posted in America, Patents at 4:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The giant corporations that like to bully competitors with their software patents are losing control of the patent system, thanks in part to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS)

TC Heartland LLC v Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC
Reference: Outcome of TC Heartland LLC v Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC

Summary: In a unanimous decision, with the court ruling 8-0 against TC Heartland, the monkey business in East Texas (beneficial to patent trolls and large businesses that leverage software patents) may have just come to an end

TECHRIGHTS was eagerly awaiting the decision on TC Heartland, not knowing when exactly this decision will be delivered. This decision won’t have a profound effect on the USPTO but rather on the courts. Say goodbye to the Eastern District of Texas as a capital of patent trolls and patent aggression. There’s no room for appeals anymore.

Is this the beginning of the end of patent trolls in the US? Well, it most certainly is a massive leap. Without access to my workstation (11,000KM away) it’s hard to know just how many patent-centric sites already cover it (probably spinning it), but here is coverage from TechDirt, whose views are similar to the EFF’s (which did a lot of campaigning regarding this case). To quote:

Another Supreme Court case on patents, and another complete smackdown of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), the court that is supposed to be the “expert” on patent cases. This morning the ruling on the TC Heartland case came out, and it could help put an end to jurisdiction shopping for patent cases. As you’ve probably heard, for years now patent trolls and other aggressive patent litigants have been filing their cases in East Texas, as it’s become a jurisdiction that is ridiculous friendly to patent holders. The towns of Marshall and Tyler, Texas have practically built up industries around the fact that they are “patent friendly” jurisdictions. In the past few years, a second favored jurisdiction has popped up: Delaware, after a few academic studies showed that the courts there may have been even more friendly than East Texas. The TC Heartland case was about a case filed in Delaware, and raised the issue of whether or not this kind of patent forum shopping was okay. CAFC, in its usual CAFC manner, said “sure, that’s great, we love jurisdiction shopping and have since our 1990 ruling in VE Holding v. Johnson Gas. This was kind of ironic, as one of the key justifications given for setting up CAFC in the first place was to put an end to jurisdiction shopping in patent cases.

Either way, CAFC once again blessed the ability of patent holders to sue in plaintiff friendly locations, and the Supreme Court — which has spent the past decade reteaching patent law to CAFC every chance it gets — has done so again. Once again, the decision was unanimous, with the court voting 8 – 0 that trolls can’t just file over and over again in East Texas (Gorsuch, having just joined the court after the case was heard, did not take part). The opinion, written by Justice Thomas, goes through the history of jurisdiction issues related to where one can bring lawsuits, noting that historically, where a company was incorpor

It is worth reminding ourselves that these courts down in Texas were known not just for affinity towards trolls but also software patents. So this is massive! As the above notes, this case does not yet reveal anything about Gorsuch’s stance on patents.

Meanwhile, in the pro-trolls and pro-software patents spheres, there is a push to overturn another SCOTUS case (Alice), led by the likes of IBM and promoted by IAM, Watchtroll and few others.

The other day IAM did a sort of think tank on the matter, writing about what it called: “Superb panel on [Section] 101 looking at some of differences between software community and other IP owning sectors…”

As one can expect, it’s one of those stacked panels that IAM is so renowned (or notorious) for. That’s how IAM pays the bills; follow the money, they sell influence…

Here it is stating that “HP Enterprise’s Marcia Chang – we’ve had a course correction cleaning up some of mess in software patents & that’s a good thing…”

Here’s Google’s stance: “Puneet Sarna of Google – current situation on 101 is where SCOTUS wanted to go with Alice…”

“Sarna – Now patentees and accused infringers have better idea about how 101 should be applied,” IAM added.

Then came Cisco, another giant corporation: “Cisco’s Dan Lang – if you look at recent Fed Circuit decisions i believe theres a strong convergence between Europe and US…”

Where are the small businesses or actual developers? Well, IAM doesn’t really want a real debate. It’s a think tank after all…

Then came this UPC lobbying from IAM and Cisco: “cautious but hopeful that UPC will lead to a balanced system…”

Who said it would happen at all? The tense in “will” suggests inevitability.

IAM later wrote this post about “big software players” (that’s what the headline says). IAM’s loudest software patents proponent wrote it and left no room for objectivity. Here is the part about Google, which is probably the lesser culprit (Michelle Lee came from there):

“It’s a false narrative, it’s not that Silicon Valley hates the patent system,” insisted John La Barre, head of patent transactions at Google. “In my experience at Google we value strong patents, we just have an opinionated sense of what that means. It’s a question of what does a strong patent system look like, not do we think we need a strong patent system.” La Barre added that meant the search giant supported improvements in patent quality and attempts to reduce litigation.

We can expect the latest SCOTUS decisions to be spun, attacked, nitpicked etc. by the patent microcosm in the coming days. IAM will probably fight this decision for years to come (like it does Alice… even 3 years down the line). We’ll take stock of some of the spin some time next month (when I return home).

Speculations About Battistelli’s End of Term, Campinos at EUIPO, and Failed UPC Ambitions

Posted in Europe, Patents, Rumour at 2:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Rumours and speculations surrounding the fate of the EPO’s leadership now that the UPC gravy train is stuck again and Battistelli’s protector, Jesper Kongstad, is about to leave

IN OUR previous post we cited a blog post titled ‘Successor EPO president Benoît Battistelli to be chosen this autumn’ and as we noted towards the end, Martijn van Dam may be gullible if he is so certain that Battistelli is leaving. In Twitter, people of inner circles have begun wondering if “Battistelli’s henchman” will take over, alluding to Mr. Campinos.

“In Twitter, people of inner circles have begun wondering if “Battistelli’s henchman” will take over, alluding to Mr. Campinos.”“Any other candidates?”

Well, someone will replace Mr. Kongstad pretty soon (about 4 months from now). We understand that he basically got sacked by the Danish government (at least removed from DKPTO; he might still serve in the Administrative Council at some capacity).

Inside sources, however, aren’t so certain that Battistelli is leaving next year. His UPC ‘crusade’ is failing pretty badly because the EU is losing Britain, Spain remains defiant, Poland seems sceptical and so on…

“Inside sources, however, aren’t so certain that Battistelli is leaving next year.”Will Battistelli use the failure of the UPC as an excuse for “needing more time” (as in, another term)? Will he spend some additional millions of Euros bribing and manipulating European media in a desperate effort to lie about the UPC and ram it down everyone’s throats, based on misinformation?

According to this new report (behind paywall), the British “Government quizzed over viability of London’s UPC courts after Brexit” and the body speaks of EUIPO, which Campinos is still heading. To quote: “The UK’s future with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) post-Brexit came under the spotlight this week, after a question on EU-jurisdiction drew a carefully-worded answer from the government.”

“Will Battistelli use the failure of the UPC as an excuse for “needing more time” (as in, another term)?”All the things about UPC are behind a paywall, but the headline suggests that UPC is anything but certain, no matter who wins the election next month.

“Cromwell puts forward queries surrounding EUIPO and UPC,” Benjamin Henrion wrote about this, and “questions will form part of EU negotiations says minister…”

Well, the very fact that UPC is brought up in conjunction with EUIPO (which does not deal with patents) is rather curious and it brings back speculations about Campinos, the EU, the UPC, and various other things.

“…it seems like the sky is the limit when it comes to patent scope at the EPO under Battistelli.”We are truly concerned about the vision laid forth by UPC propagandists, for the UPC would usher in all sorts of crazy patents into nations that currently forbid them. For instance, the EPO is granting patents on life (genome) while almost abolishing the appeal boards that can stop this, citing opposition from the EU, the EPC and so on. “CRISPR patents decided, but cases not closed,” said this new headline a few days ago, but given Battistelli’s assault on the appeal boards it seems like the sky is the limit when it comes to patent scope at the EPO under Battistelli. Dangerous times ahead and critical crossroads…

Martijn van Dam is Wrong to Believe That Battistelli’s Abuses Are Somehow Acceptable or Tolerable Because His Term is Possibly Ending

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Will tolerate abuses provided you’re old and almost retired

Partij van de Arbeid
Photo credit: Partij van de Arbeid

Summary: Coverage of Martijn van Dam’s stance (he is the Dutch State Secretary for Economic Affairs) reveals that economic gain trumps ethics and justice, irrespective of what the law says

THE concept of justice at the EPO hardly exists at all. Even outside the EPO, e.g. when ILO deals with appeals, there is no justice, as we last showed yesterday. When people are allowed to get away with abuses — even incredible violations of the law — that reinforces and cements their immunity and impunity. That’s just what happens at the EPO.

“When people are allowed to get away with abuses — even incredible violations of the law — that reinforces and cements their immunity and impunity.”In between all sorts of puff pieces about the EPO (I am not keeping a close eye while on holiday, but some shallow pieces get picked up, e.g. [1, 2]) there is this blog post from Kluwer Patent Blog, which cites/translates something Petra Kramer told us the other day (we wrote about this two nights ago). Now we have some context: “Last week, in a debate on the situation at the EPO in Dutch parliament, secretary of state Martijn van Dam made clear he is very critical of Battistelli as well. But Van Dam thinks implementing changes in the EPO’s regulations is more important than focussing on an early departure of the EPO president, whose term ends in June 2018 anyway. He expects some improvements to be implemented next month. Hereunder a translation of the most relevant statements in the debate.”

“What kind of world are we living in? Where people in international institutions are untouchable and above the law, even in their host countries?”That’s too bizarre a logic. So van Dam clearly understands that Battistelli is abusive, yet he lets him off the hook purely because of timing? The immunity remains? Imagine the outcry if Dominique Strauss-Kahn was allowed to walk away free simply because he’s already old. Or the same for Sepp Blatter. What kind of world are we living in? Where people in international institutions are untouchable and above the law, even in their host countries?

If the Netherlands and politicians like Martijn van Dam wish to maintain (or earn) respect from the international community, then they’ll need to come up with something stronger than that. Aside from that, some EPO insiders believe that Battistelli will seek extension of his term and may even modify the rules (with consent from his ‘chinchillas’) in order to facilitate this never-ending reign of terror. The EPO not only harms Dutch contractors (financial damage) but also harms the image of Holland. The EPO has become nothing but a parasite to the Dutch people.

05.21.17

Media and Staff Association Elections at EPO and WIPO Are Compromised

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Knocking down two essential pillars of a modern democracy

Separation of powers
“Freedom of the Press,
if it means anything at all,
means the freedom
to criticize and oppose”


–George Orwell

Summary: A campaign of abuse (legal bullying) and gifting to the media, combined with a wide-ranging assault on critics who represent the interests of staff, have led WIPO and EPO down the route to totality

WIPO is a tool of mega-corporations which is neither international nor fair. Its attacks on media recently got the attention of some media that had hitherto more or less ignored WIPO scandals — in the same way that a lot of media still ignores many EPO scandals. It often seems that the media starts caring — at least a little — only when it too comes under attack (basically for doing its job).

The failure of ILO and the EPO (further to our previous post) is part of a broader problem which I first became familiar with half a decade ago. There is no access to justice. People at the UN told me so and shared documents to support these assertions. It has gotten so bad that they now bully the press with impunity (ILO could, in theory, attempt to bully bloggers) and citing all sorts of articles such as this, SUEPO took note of WIPO’s abuses (also UN), citing a several pages long PDF about the latest at WIPO. See the article “WIPO Boss Seeks to Silence Press Critics and Whistleblowers” — a report which starts with some background:

On January 25, 2017 the Staff Association of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) headquartered in Geneva, demonstrated to protest the recent actions of Francis Gurry, the agency’s Director General. Unhappy with the duly-elected Staff Association Council, Gurry organized his own elections and simply replaced the legitimate Staff Council with his preferred slate of officers.

Besides the obvious problem of management selecting candidates for Staff Association elections, there were apparently numerous irregularities manifest in this process, and the duly-elected Council of the Staff Association is pursuing legal remedies. These take time, however, and in the meantime, Gurry’s preferred slate has taken over the offices and functions of the legitimate officials.

The “problem of management selecting candidates for Staff Association elections,” as the above puts it, is already a reality at the EPO. There is veto power for management when it comes to staff representation and even the disciplinary committees are controlled and composed indirectly by Team Battistelli, assuring that justice will be just a mirage. At the EPO, the Central Staff Committee is going to change pretty soon and “most people are too frightened” to stand for election, an insider recently told us.

When the media loses its voice and staff too loses its voice we are left to deal with autocratic entities. When these are disconnected from national laws, i.e. enjoying immunity, what we have is a “toxic mix” or “dangerous cocktail”. That’s what Gurry and Battistelli both pursued separately and actually got at the end. Who will end this? Can ECHR put an end to that?

New Documents Help Demonstrate That ILO Delivers Institutional Injustice to EPO Employees and Cushions Team Battistelli

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ILO overburdens with complaints

ILO slowing down complainants

Summary: The International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) delivers not justice but merely the illusion of justice, probably in defiance of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

THE International Labour Organisation (ILO) has become somewhat of a sham. To many, ILO has become just about as destructive as the management of the EPO. It’s part of the same framework of hopelessness, discouragement, waste of time, and waste of money (legal fees). It is a very sad fact that the supposed safeguard of workers’ rights has inadvertently guarded the EPO‘s immunity rather than EPO staff. In fact, Dutch authorities, having been misled by EPO management, have come to believe that ILO is some sort of independent and effective arbiter, peripheral to Team Battistelli rather than almost submissive to it.

“…Dutch authorities, having been misled by EPO management, have come to believe that ILO is some sort of independent and effective arbiter, peripheral to Team Battistelli rather than almost submissive to it.”The latest two documents, shown above with redactions, are just some among many we have seen regarding a variety of cases involving different individuals. Many people are on the same boat. They cannot, based on the experience of others, believe that ILO tribunals can ever offer real reprieve. Even in the rare cases when they actually issue a ruling (not just the typical deferrals) and when the EPO loses the dispute, Battistelli more or less ignores or works around the ruling. Compliance is not an option. In other words, Battistelli not only snubs European governments but also international bodies that are supposed to govern/supervise/police him. It’s a problem that’s akin to the Administrative Council led by Battistelli’s ‘chinchilla’. It’s truly despicable.

Readers should expect us to examine these issues more closely in the coming months if not years. We also invite readers to send to us material related to their ILO cases. Our publications of material are consensual and are subjected to careful scrutiny.

The understand the importance of the above documents, consider what these demonstrate. 30 days only are given for the complainants to respond (the complainants is also slowed down by a chronic disease and is being overburdened by unreasonable demands, bombarded with piles of papers etc.) and the process is being delayed (+60 days, i.e. 90 days in total) for the EPO. This disproportionate and asymmetric legal spiel obviously is designed — willingly or not — to help the EPO ‘win’, even if by simply exhausting the other side (emotionally if not financially too).

“ILO is not doing its job properly and the Dutch government ought to know this. Its excuses are not valid and immunity needs to be removed.”No reaction by ILOAT, in spite of a chronic disease, says quite a lot. These are insensitive people who are either apathetic/uninterested in tackling EPO cases or simply want the EPO to ‘win’ all of these case. If they are incapable of dealing with EPO-induced workload, then they should not only state so publicly but also make a stronger statement, along with action, to that effect. They could, for example, herald the failure of their own system and pursue remediation at an international level. Instead, they carry on pretending that they can cope with this mess. They would rather mask/hide these failures to protect their own interests.

“My right to be heard and to respond is violated,” told us an involved person, hence “no fair trial under Art. 6 ECHR!”

This is a high priority matter. ILO is not doing its job properly and the Dutch government ought to know this. Its excuses are not valid and immunity needs to be removed. The abuses by the EPO’s management need to be studied by ECHR and people punished accordingly (although the concept of accountability barely exists in international contexts).

Leaked: 2017 European Inventor Award Finalists, or Stooges Whom the Tyrant Battistelli Exploits for PR Purposes and Media Manipulation

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

2017 European Inventor Award Popular Prize

Summary: The stupidest ceremony in Europe (turning serious science into something sketchy such as Eurovision) is disliked among EPO staff and is exploited by the person who destroys the EPO (Benoît Battistelli) to pretend all is fine and dandy, at huge expense to the Office (as extraordinary as about 5 million Euros for a ~2-hour show)

THE EPO is still wasting money on press releases that break patent neutrality and make the institution promotional (not objective) at the expense of stakeholders. We wrote about a dozen articles about this subject before. Looking at some of the very latest press releases, which continue to come (e.g. [1, 2]), we cannot help wondering how much money is spent on this. We know it’s millions, but this year we don’t have the invoices (at least not yet).

“The EPO has turned European media into ‘Turkish media’.”If anybody at the EPO knows that the EPO signed some kind of contract with Shepard Fox Communications (for PR), please get in touch. We could use a leak or at least some information which relates to this. As we noted here before, the PR expenditures of the EPO (to control the media) have gone well out of control. This might also impact coverage of EPO scandal (e.g. self-censorship, gags, retaliation against particular reporters). The EPO has turned European media into ‘Turkish media’. The USPTO has never done anything remotely like that; it didn’t even elevate one patent over another using so-called ‘awards’. Bluntly speaking, the patent offices around the world are rarely run by crooked people like Battistelli. As for Kongstad, we are told that he was ousted from DKPTO (told to step down, by his own government!) but could use material that helps verify that.

“Well, a lot of EPO insiders have great disdain for that silly charade, which is a waste of budget and is typically a photo-op opportunity for Battistelli — the man who abuses his own staff and destroys their employer, thus rendering them unemployed.”The above is intentionally distorted, for the purpose of source protection. “Here is [the] list of the nominees for the inventor award comedy,” told us a source. “I don’t [need to] tell you what it is all about,” the source continues, as “you know better than I do…”

Well, a lot of EPO insiders have great disdain for that silly charade, which is a waste of budget and is typically a photo-op opportunity for Battistelli — the man who abuses his own staff and destroys their employer, thus rendering them unemployed. EPO examiners aren’t gullible; they are very bright people — to the point where it’s unthinkable that they can be ruled by a clueless thug like Battistelli.

“It is time to inform the participants that [this] inventor award puff piece is rather a Battistelli horror show,” our source noted, worse “than the Cannes festival.”

“By exploiting EPO budget and possibly even misusing such budget, Battistelli tries to legitimise himself (and his reign of terror), e.g. by brushing shoulders with EU politicians and associating himself with scientists, including (as the above shows) people whose contribution is software patents that help patent trolls like MPEG-LA.”“Now the names of the nominees are public,” our source continued, “it is a great time to make them aware of the situation and the fact that Battistelli is misusing them for his own promotion. Imagine all the people… NOT attending the show.”

This observation is correct. By exploiting EPO budget and possibly even misusing such budget, Battistelli tries to legitimise himself (and his reign of terror), e.g. by brushing shoulders with EU politicians and associating himself with scientists, including (as the above shows) people whose contribution is software patents that help patent trolls like MPEG-LA. Remember that the EPO was never supposed to grant patents on software in the first place! Not only does it help patent trolls by doing so but it also grants awards to people who do this.

05.20.17

EPO: Can the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) Still Save It?

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As with most headlines that have question marks in them, the answer might be “no” (with caveats)

Summary: Genuine concerns about the slow process at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the lack of progress at ILO, which coincide with weakening of the unions and threat to jobs of patent examiners (leaving ordinary Europeans more vulnerable to meritless patent lawsuits)

WE are still on holiday (11,000KM from home), but we continue to receive new EPO leaks. Sooner or later we expect a lot of the ugliness to come out and be made public. But is this enough to save the EPO? Well, that depends on what “saving” means. Battistelli’s policies are going to make a lot of staff redundant and also cause great pain to European businesses (especially the smaller ones, i.e. the vast majority).

“The motion to fire Battistelli,” Petra Kramer wrote some days ago, “has been rejected, the motion evaluate the limits of immunity has been adopted.”

If Battistelli lost his immunity, that might serve to bring some justice, but is it not too late? Time is running out.

As SUEPO noted, workers’ bodies speak out about the European Court of Human Rights, but they never had any concrete/real leverage over Battistelli. He just ignores everyone who does not agree with him and if/when he can, he punishes too (firings, demotions, mental torture etc.). EPO has become like a consulate of Turkey in Bavaria, complete with its own sultan. Nominations for the Central Staff Committee closed about 5 days ago and only the brave ‘dared’ apply. No wonder…

“Two staff unions at the European Patent Agency,” said one statement, “filed a complaint against the Netherlands with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) for violation of article 6 ECHR in combination with articles 10, 11 and 13 of the Convention.”

Another said: “The long-running conflict at the European Patent Office (EPO) over abuses of worker and trade union rights is now heading to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). SUEPO, the trade union at the EPO has filed a complaint against the Netherlands for failing to protect workers. The courts there ruled that Dutch law has no jurisdiction leaving the workers in a legal limbo. The workers have been supported by the FNV trade union and the matter has been taken up in the Dutch parliament.”

There is also this new PDF in SUEPO’s Web site, published several days ago to say:

Amsterdam 8 May 2017 – Today, two staff unions at the European Patent Agency, VEOB and SUEPO, filed a complaint against the Netherlands with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) for violation of article 6 ECHR in combination with articles 10, 11 and 13 of the Convention.

The European Patent Organisation (EPO), which is located i.a. on Dutch territory, is infringing on the right of the unions to take collective action and to enter into collective negotiations. These are internationally recognized rights that are also guaranteed by article 10 (right to freedom of expression) and article 11 (right of freedom of assembly and association) of the ECHR. For years now, there has been a culture of intimidation by EPO-management that has severely affected the work environment. The EPO is making it impossible for the unions to effectively serve the interests of their members. Though an organization like the EPO ordinarily enjoys immunity from jurisdiction, this does not apply if the unions do not have an effective legal remedy through which to (internally) address the problems. According to standard ECtHR-case law, a national court can them assume jurisdiction.

In its judgment of 15 February 2015, the Appeals Court in The Hague held that the unions in and of themselves did not have an effective legal remedy within the EPO. The Appeals Court assumed jurisdiction and then ruled largely in favour of the unions. The EPO filed a cassation appeal, primarily in light of the dismissal of its immunity claim. The State of the Netherlands joined the cassation procedure as a party on the side of the EPO. In its judgment of 20 January 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that EPO enjoys immunity from jurisdiction after all. The consequence of this verdict for the unions is that they do not have a true legal remedy by which to address the violations of their ECHR-rights.

As state party to the Convention, the Netherlands is obliged to ensure that the ECHR is safeguarded on its territory. As this is impossible in the light of the Supreme Court judgment, the Netherlands is violating article 6 ECHR in combination with articles 10, 11 and 13 of the Convention.

The unions are represented by lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld.

There is some additional press coverage from what is typically a SUEPO-hostile site:

The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) has brought the Netherlands to the European Court of Human Rights amid rising tensions and alleged abuse at the EPO.

In a blog post on 9 May, SUEPO said that it previously sought protection from the Dutch courts in the form of an injunction to prevent the violation of EPO workers’ rights.

But the Supreme Court of the Netherlands upheld the EPO’s immunity, failing to “discharge their duty of care, thereby allowing a breach of fundamental rights on their soil and de facto condoning, if not endorsing, the EPO’s abuses”.

We have some new leaks coming and these ought to demonstrate not only why ECHR should take on the case but also why immunity must be removed and ILO be subjected to greater scrutiny. The deeper we look at this whole situation, the easier it becomes to see that ILO’s Administrative Tribunal is part of the problem. It gives the illusion of access to justice — something that it never delivers. ILO might as well tell the truth to Dutch authorities and ECHR; it has absolutely no control over labour rights at the EPO and at this stage, as a mater of urgency, immunity must be removed and Team Battistelli held accountable for very serious abuses, either as professionals or as civilians.

ECHR cases can take years to deal with (up to 3 years, their Web site states); that’s longer than it will take for Battistelli to totally destroy the EPO, culminating in mass layoffs. We don’t ever know what will be left of SUEPO and VEOB by that stage.

Links 21/5/2017: Linux 3.18.53, Tizen 4.0

Posted in News Roundup at 6:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Sprint NFV/SDN Research Leads to Open Source Project for Network Efficiency

    Mobile carrier Sprint has culminated four years of research into Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) with a new open source offering designed to make core networks more efficient through new-age virtualization techniques.

  • TensorFlow: Providing Support to a Successful Open-Source Project

    Building a community around an open-source project requires a number of practices regarding support, pull requests handling, licensing, and more, writes Pete Warden, TensorFlow Mobile lead at Google.

    A great challenge in the early life of a new project, explains Warden, is providing support to those who are using it. At first, the only available experts are the developers themselves, who have to find a way to integrate their day-to-day tasks with other support duties. This is not entirely straightforward, since it may take developers outside of their comfort zone and potentially distract them from their main tasks. The TensorFlow team dealt with this challenge by establishing a rotation among all engineers, so each engineer took responsibility for a particular area for one full week approximately once every couple of months.

  • AT&T’s Donovan defends operator’s embrace of open source software

    “It really doesn’t have a downside,” Donovan said of the proliferation of open source software in the telecom industry. He explained that operators can either choose to simply obtain open source solutions for free through open source groups, or they can opt to participate in open source communities by designing and building solutions.

  • AT&T’s Donovan: Open Source is Necessary to Win the War

    AT&T’s transformation from traditional telco to an open source champion was largely driven by John Donovan, the company’s chief strategy officer and group president. Donovan took the stage at Light Reading’s Big Communications Event today to tell those questioning the necessity of open source projects that they are “dead wrong.”

    Donovan said that competition from over-the-top players, cable companies, and others are making it critical for AT&T to move to open source. “Our open source projects have doubled in the past year,” Donovan said, adding that sitting around and operating in a traditional telecom mode is no longer effective.

  • 3D Hardware Acceleration in Haiku

    The Mesa renderer in Haiku presently ventures into software rendering. Haiku uses software for rendering frame buffers and then writes them to the graphics hardware. The goal of my project is to port Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) Driver for i915, from the Linux kernel to Haiku with the help of DragonflyBSD’s Linux Compatibility layer, so that those drivers can be later extended to add OpenGL support (Mesa3D) for hardware accelerated 3D rendering.

  • Intertwining Artificial Intelligence With Blockchain

    Except for those folks living under rocks (sounds uncomfortable), everyone knows about or at least has heard of bitcoin. However, not everyone understands the technology of bitcoin, which extends well beyond Internet-based currency.

  • Sprint exec: Chaos in open source indicative of startup culture, and that’s just fine

    Mobile operators are embracing open source like never before, and there’s a lot of confusion around the myriad projects and efforts that are underway, but that doesn’t worry Sprint’s vice president of technology Ron Marquardt.

  • Events

    • Announcing QtCon Brasil 2017

      It’s been almost a year since I, Filipe and Aracele were having a beer at Alexander Platz after the very last day of QtCon Berlin, when Aracele astutely came up with a very crazy idea of organizing QtCon in Brazil. Since then, we have been maturing such an idea and after a lot of work we are very glad to announce: QtCon Brasil 2017 happens from 18th to 20th August in São Paulo.

    • Join us at Akademy 2017 in Almería!

      This talk will illustrate the application areas for Input Methods by example, presenting short introductions to several international writing systems as well as emoji input. It will explain why solid Input Methods support is vital to KDE’s goal of inclusivity and how Input Methods can make the act of writing easier for all of us.

    • Training in Foss Compliance

      The first training “Free and Open Source Software Compliance” is on June 23rd at KDAB’s Berlin training center. It will be held in German. Trainings in English at this and our other locations will follow later in the year. If you would like to learn how to navigate Open Source licensing with confidence, read more and sign up here.

    • Linux Kernel Memory Model Workshop Accepted into Linux Plumbers Conference

      A good understanding of the Linux kernel memory model is essential for a great many kernel-hacking and code-review tasks. Unfortunately, the current documentation (memory-barriers.txt) has been said to frighten small children, so this workshop’s goal is to demystify this memory model, including hands-on demos of the tools, help installing/running the tools, and help constructing appropriate litmus tests. These tools should go a long way toward the ultimate goal of automating the process of using memory models to frighten small children.

    • IBM’s OpenWhisk Stirs up Serverless IoT with Watson

      With the Internet of Things, the realms of embedded Linux and enterprise computing are increasingly intertwined, and serverless computing is the latest enterprise development paradigm that device developers should tune into. This event-driven variation on Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS) can ease application development using ephemeral Docker containers, auto-scaling, and pay-per execution in the cloud. Serverless is seeing growing traction in enterprise applications that need fast deployment and don’t require extremely high performance or low latency, including many cloud-connected IoT applications.

  • Databases

    • PostgreSQL 10 Beta 1 Released

      The PostgreSQL Global Development Group announces today that the first beta release of PostgreSQL 10 is available for download. This release contains previews of all of the features which will be available in the final release of version 10, although some details will change before then. Users are encouraged to begin testing their applications against this latest release.

    • PostgreSQL 10 Enters Beta

      More details on the changes to find with PostgreSQL 10 Beta 1 can be found via the informative release announcement posted this morning to PostgreSQL.org.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice can open XLSX files Excel cannot

      Just a quick heads up. I just created and saved an Excel file using Excel 2016, which cannot be opened again with it. Glad our swiss army knife LibreOffice can 😉

      It’s funny to see Excel can open the ODS I created using LibreOffice (as source I used the XLSX file) better than it’s “native” format….

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Free software, free services but what about your data?

      I care a lot about free software, not only as a Debian Developer. The use of software as a service matters as well because my principle free software development is on just such a project, licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License version 3. The AGPL helps by allowing anyone who is suitably skilled to install their own copy of the software and run their own service on their own hardware. As a project, we are seeing increasing numbers of groups doing exactly this and these groups are actively contributing back to the project.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Children’s Perspectives on Critical Data Literacies

      Last week, we presented a new paper that describes how children are thinking through some of the implications of new forms of data collection and analysis. The presentation was given at the ACM CHI conference in Denver last week and the paper is open access and online.

  • Programming/Development

    • Coding is not ‘fun’, it’s technically and ethically complex

      Unfortunately, this rosy portrait bears no relation to reality. For starters, the profile of a programmer’s mind is pretty uncommon. As well as being highly analytical and creative, software developers need almost superhuman focus to manage the complexity of their tasks. Manic attention to detail is a must; slovenliness is verboten. Attaining this level of concentration requires a state of mind called being ‘in the flow’, a quasi-symbiotic relationship between human and machine that improves performance and motivation.

Leftovers

  • Gordon Ramsay on Going From Michelin Stars to a Mobile Game
  • documentation is thoroughly hard
  • Science

    • AI can doctor videos to put words in the mouths of speakers

      Artificial intelligence can put words right into your mouth. A new system takes a still image of a person and an audio clip, and uses them to create a doctored video of the person speaking the audio. The results are still a little rough around the edges, but the software could soon make realistically fake videos only a single click away.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • A Step Forward for Security [iophk: "end point compromise negates many theoretical advantages"]

      While we are all mesmerized by the presidential crises, a small, but quite significant change occurred in Congress: the Senate Sergeant at Arms approved the use of Signal by Senate staff. Signal, a product of Open Whisper Systems, provides end-to-end encryption for Apple and Android phones.

    • Why Europe’s dependency on Microsoft is a huge security risk [iophk: "warning for javascript"]

      On May 12, hackers hit more than a hundred countries, exploiting a stolen N.S.A. tool that targeted vulnerabilities of Microsoft software. The attacks infected only machines running on Windows operative system. Among the victims are public administrative bodies such as NHS hospitals in the UK. Investigate Europe spent months to investigate the dire dependency of European countries on Microsoft – and the security risks this entails

    • NSA told Microsoft about stolen exploits: officials

      Current and former NSA officials say the agency informed Microsoft about the theft of the exploit named EternalBlue after learning of it, making it possible for the Redmond software giant to issue a patch for it in March. The exploit was used in the WannaCry ransomware attacks over last weekend.

    • Shadow Brokers claims Microsoft hand-in-glove with NSA

      The group that released NSA exploits for Windows, which were used in massive ransomware attacks last weekend, has accused Microsoft of being hand-in-glove with The Equation Group, a group that is believed to be a front for the NSA.

    • NSA officials worried about the day its potent hacking tool would get loose. Then it did.

      But for more than five years, the NSA kept using it — through a time period that has seen several serious security breaches — and now the officials’ worst fears have been realized. The malicious code at the heart of the WannaCry virus that hit computer systems globally late last week was apparently stolen from the NSA, repackaged by cybercriminals and unleashed on the world for a cyberattack that now ranks as among the most disruptive in history.

    • Shadow Brokers threaten to unleash more hacking tools

      The so-called Shadow Brokers, who claimed responsibility for releasing NSA tools that were used to spread the WannaCry ransomware through the NHS and across the world, said they have a new suite of tools and vulnerabilities in newer software. The possible targets include Microsoft’s Windows 10, which was unaffected by the initial attack and is on at least 500m devices around the world.

    • Microsoft held back free patch that could have slowed WannaCry
    • WannaCrypt makes an easy case for Linux

      Ransomware is on the rise. On a single day, WannaCrypt held hostage over 57,000 users worldwide, demanding anywhere between $300-$600 in Bitcoin. Don’t pay up and you’ll not be seeing your data again. Before I get into the thrust of this piece, if anything, let WannaCrypt be a siren call to everyone to backup your data. Period. End of story. With a solid data backup, should you fall prey to ransomware, you are just an OS reinstall and a data restore away from getting back to work.

    • Best way to avoid ransomware? Stop using Windows

      There are many Microsoft apologists, astro-turfers, and so-called journalists on the make who, at times like this, keep a low profile and furiously try to spread the message in Web forums that "computers users" are at risk.

      Alas, the harsh truth must at last be faced: if you do not use Windows, then the chances of a ransomware attack are close to zero.

    • Massive cryptocurrency botnet used leaked NSA exploits weeks before WCry

      On Monday, researchers said the same weapons-grade attack kit was used in a much-earlier and possibly larger-scale hack that made infected computers part of a botnet that mined cryptocurrency.

    • No threat of WannaCry attack as GSTN operates on Linux: CEO

      GSTN, set up to provide IT infrastructure for GST rollout, will not be impacted by the WannaCry ransomware attack, as its systems do not run on Microsoft software, the network’s CEO Prakash Kumar said today.

      The Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) is gearing up to handle about 3 billion invoices every month under the new indirect tax regime and will complete the beta testing of its software tomorrow.

      “Our software is not based on Microsoft windows operating system and hence we are immune. We operate on Linux software which is not affected by the ransomware attack,” Kumar told PTI.

      More than 60 lakh excise, service tax and VAT assessees have enrolled on the GSTN portal between November 8, 2016 and April 30, 2017. Currently, there are 80 lakh such assessees.

    • Almost all WannaCry victims were running Windows 7

      According to data released today by Kaspersky Lab, roughly 98 percent of the computers affected by the ransomware were running some version of Windows 7, with less than one in a thousand running Windows XP. 2008 R2 Server clients were also hit hard, making up just over 1 percent of infections.

    • NHS cyber-attack causing disruption one week after [Windows] breach

      Operations and clinic appointments were cancelled and patients were still being diverted from accident and emergency departments on Thursday.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Narendra Modi must begin talks in Kashmir before it is too late

      Things in the Valley have not been this bad in two decades. I don’t measure this by violence, terrorism and fatalities – we have seen much worse years on that count. I say this because battling Pakistan’s armed proxies is much more straightforward than taking on your own people on the street. And cloaking militancy with a protective sheet of civilian agitations, women and teenagers among them, means many of the old conflict zone formulas won’t work.

    • What Trump’s intellligence-sharing with Russia may have cost the US

      That’s because counterterrorism work depends on a high level of trust among partner nations, international security experts say. The partners rely on each other to use the highly sensitive information, which sources may have risked their lives to gather, judiciously and to mutual benefit.

      Violate that trust by loosely sharing intelligence from at-risk sources, the experts add, and information critical to stopping one attack – or prevent a new means of carrying out deadly attacks – can dry up.

    • Donald Trump’s loose lips with Russia may have cost America the trust of European allies

      An unnamed European official has told the Associated Press that his country may stop trusting America with secrets

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Assange case – now what?

      First of all, the case in itself was remarkably thin. Second, Assange has never been charged with any crime. The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was issued to question him. Such an interview was conducted last November. So, reasonably, the EAW have lost its function.

      So, now… what?

    • Julian Assange Rape Inquiry Is Dropped but His Legal Problems Remain Daunting

      When Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, jumped bail and sought asylum in Ecuador’s embassy five years ago to avoid a Swedish rape investigation, he was considered by many a hero of transparency, internet freedom and resistance to the secret state.

      So when Sweden’s prosecutors announced on Friday that they were abandoning their attempt to extradite him, invalidating the warrant for his arrest, Mr. Assange proclaimed it a happy moment of vindication. “Today was an important victory,” he said.

    • Australia govt needs to help Assange: lawyer

      A legal advisor to Julian Assange says the Australian Government needs to do more to help grant him a safe passage to Ecuador.

      Swedish prosecutors announced on Friday that they would discontinue an investigation into allegations of rape against the Wikileaks founder, which Mr Assange labelled an ‘important victory’.

    • Assange case always had disturbing political background – Ecuadorian FM to RT

      WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has always been under political persecution without any real charges, the Ecuadorian foreign minister told RT, calling for a prompt decision by the UK to grant him safe passage.

    • Julian Assange’s mother calls on Australian Prime Minister to help secure his release

      Julian Assange’s mother has called on the Australian Prime Minister to help her son seek political asylum abroad,

      Christine Assange said she was “very pleased” after Swedish authorities announced they were dropping a rape allegation against him.

      But she told ABC Radio Brisbane: “I’m officially calling on Malcolm Turnbull to step in, act like a Prime Minister, and protect a citizen.”

      “I’d like him to take to task Sweden for what they’ve done breaching his human rights and lying to the media, and I would like him to pressure the UK Government to allow him safe passage to Ecuador.”

    • Sweden drops investigation into WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

      Whether or not he’ll walk free depends on the UK.

    • Sweden Is Dropping Its Rape Investigation Into Julian Assange

      Swedish prosecutors announced today that they were dropping their investigation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange into allegations of rape.

      Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny and Chief Prosecutor Ingrid Isgren held a press conference in Stockholm today to discuss the decision, saying it was made not because they believe Assange to be innocent necessarily, but because they were unable to formally serve him the allegations during an interview at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, UK in November 2016, where Assange has been in exile since 2012.

    • Julian Assange: Sweden drops rape investigation

      Sweden’s director of public prosecutions has decided to drop the rape investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

      The move comes ahead of a Stockholm court’s examination of a demand by Mr Assange’s lawyers that Sweden drop his European arrest warrant.

      Mr Assange has lived in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012, trying to avoid extradition to Sweden.

    • Athena

      Today, May 19th 2017, WikiLeaks publishes documents from the “Athena” project of the CIA. “Athena” – like the related “Hera” system – provides remote beacon and loader capabilities on target computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system (from Windows XP to Windows 10). Once installed, the malware provides a beaconing capability (including configuration and task handling), the memory loading/unloading of malicious payloads for specific tasks and the delivery and retrieval of files to/from a specified directory on the target system. It allows the operator to configure settings during runtime (while the implant is on target) to customize it to an operation.

      According to the documentation (see Athena Technology Overview), the malware was developed by the CIA in cooperation with Siege Technologies, a self-proclaimed cyber security company based in New Hampshire, US. On their website, Siege Technologies states that the company “… focuses on leveraging offensive cyberwar technologies and methodologies to develop predictive cyber security solutions for insurance, government and other targeted markets.”. On November 15th, 2016 Nehemiah Security announced the acquisition of Siege Technologies.

    • WikiLeaks Reveals ‘Athena’ CIA Spying Program Targeting All Versions of Windows

      WikiLeaks has published a new batch of the ongoing Vault 7 leak, detailing a spyware framework – which “provides remote beacon and loader capabilities on target computers” – allegedly being used by the CIA that works against every version of Microsoft’s Windows operating systems, from Windows XP to Windows 10.

      Dubbed Athena/Hera, the spyware has been designed to take full control over the infected Windows PCs remotely, allowing the agency to perform all sorts of things on the target machine, including deleting data or uploading malicious software, and stealing data and send them to CIA server.

    • How a Pakistani journalist exposed the CIA’s most secretive operation

      Masood Anwar’s story triggered a global search for the plane that blew the lid off the notorious “extraordinary rendition” programme. It all started with the registration number of a private jet that had whisked away a terrorism suspect from Karachi.

    • ‘WikiLeaks Will Always Be the Bad Boy’

      Has WikiLeaks become a tool of Russian propaganda? Platform founder Julian Assange, 45, responds to the accusations, addresses the effects of hackers on Western elections and talks about the “WannaCry” attack.

    • Sweden Withdraws Arrest Warrant for Julian Assange, but He Still Faces Serious Legal Jeopardy

      Swedish prosecutors announced this morning that they were terminating their 7-year-old sex crimes investigation into Julian Assange and withdrawing their August 20, 2010, arrest warrant for him. The chief prosecutor, Marianne Ny, said at a news conference this morning (pictured below) that investigators had reached no conclusion about his guilt or innocence, but instead were withdrawing the warrant because “all prospects of pursuing the investigation under present circumstances are exhausted” and it is therefore “no longer proportionate to maintain the arrest of Julian Assange in his absence.”

      [...]

      But that celebration obscures several ironies. The most glaring of which is that the legal jeopardy Assange now faces is likely greater than ever.

      Almost immediately after the decision by Swedish prosecutors, British police announced that they would nonetheless arrest Assange if he tried to leave the embassy. Police said Assange was still wanted for the crime of “failing to surrender” — meaning that instead of turning himself in upon issuance of his 2012 arrest warrant, he obtained refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. The British police also, however, noted that this alleged crime is “a much less serious offence” than the one that served as the basis for the original warrant, and that the police would therefore only “provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence.”

      That could perhaps imply that with a seriously reduced police presence, Assange could manage to leave the embassy without detection and apprehension. All relevant evidence, however, negates that assumption.

      Just weeks ago, Donald Trump’s CIA director, Mike Pompeo, delivered an angry, threatening speech about WikiLeaks in which he argued, “We have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.” The CIA director vowed to make good on this threat: “To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now.”

      Days later, Attorney General Jeff Sessions strongly suggested that the Trump DOJ would seek to prosecute Assange and WikiLeaks on espionage charges in connection with the group’s publication of classified documents. Trump officials then began leaking to news outlets such as CNN that “U.S. authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.”

    • Assange case proves ‘UK an American vassal state’ that can’t stop extraditions

      There has possibly been some back room deal that led to the Swedish authorities dropping rape charges against Julian Assange, said former MI5 officer Annie Machon. Other activists and analysts provide their views.

      Swedish prosecutors dropped the rape investigation against WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange ending a seven-year standoff and will revoke its arrest warrant, according to the Swedish Prosecution Authority.

      Assange has been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden, and with the threat of extradition to the US for leaking classified national security documents hanging over him.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘Doomsday’ seed vault meant to survive global disasters breached by climate change

      Fortunately, the water hasn’t flooded the vault itself. It only got to the entrance of the tunnel, where it froze. (The seeds are stored at minus 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit.) But the incident has raised questions over the durability of a seed bank that was supposed to operate without people’s intervention.

    • One fourth of armed conflicts in ethnically divided countries coincide with climatic problems: Study

      A research conducted by Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research found almost one fourth of armed conflicts in ethnically divided countries happen at the same time as climatic problems. The researchers studied armed conflicts and climate-related natural disasters between 1980 and 2010 using event coincidence analysis.

    • Volvo says no more diesel engines, the future is electric

      Samuelsson said that Volvo’s first purely electric vehicle will arrive in 2019. He also paid a mighty compliment to Elon Musk’s EV outfit. "It must be acknowledged that Tesla has managed to offer such a car for which the people are queuing. In the area, we should also have space, with high quality and attractive design," he told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook ‘dark ads’ will win this election for the Tories – unless you do something about it

      Personal information – from your age, location to whether you own a home and what music you like – held by Facebook allows political parties to target specific voters with tailored messages when they purchase advertising space from the social media platform.

    • Recep Tayyip Erdogan caught on video watching his guards beat up Kurdish protesters in Washington DC
    • The World’s Worst Negotiation

      In a single brief meeting with Russian officials, President Trump not only divulged classified information, he also handed them a damaging account of his decision to fire James Comey

    • Something about Trump cybersecurity executive order seems awfully familiar

      Trump’s cybersecurity order cribs from his predecessor, despite campaign bluster.

    • Any Half-Decent Hacker {sic} Could Break Into Mar-a-Lago. We Tested It.

      "Those networks all have to be crawling with foreign intruders, not just [Gizmodo and] ProPublica," said Dave Aitel, chief executive officer of Immunity, Inc., a digital security company, when we told him what we found.

    • Trump’s Mar-a-Lago can be hacked in minutes: investigators

      Experts told ProPublica and Gizmodo that they wouldn’t be surprised if foreign intruders have already managed to breach those networks.

      "[It's] bad, very bad," said Jeremiah Grossman, chief of security strategy for cybersecurity firm SentinelOne. "I’d assume the data is already stolen and systems compromised."

    • Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago wifi wide open to ‘any half-decent hacker’ {sic}
    • The abysmal information security at Trump properties has probably already compromised US secrets

      The team found multiple unsecured wireless networks, unsecured and open wireless printers, misconfigured routers, an unsecured website from which they could "download a database that appears to include sensitive information on the club’s members and their families" and more.

    • After Promising a ‘Fair Hearing’ on Monuments, Secretary Zinke Shuts Out the Public

      As the Interior Department considers unprecedented changes to protected lands, avenues for public input have been curtailed.

    • President Trump’s exit a matter of time
    • Video shows Turkey’s Erdogan watched from limo as his guards bashed protesters in Washington, D.C.

      New video hit the internet today showing the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, looking on as armed security guards from his entourage violently attacked protesters demonstrating outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington.

    • In Video, Erdogan Watches as His Guards Clash With Protesters

      Nine people were hospitalized after the skirmish, and the State Department issued a stern statement condemning the attack.

    • The 25th Amendment Solution for Removing Trump

      One does not need to be a Marvel superhero or Nietzschean Übermensch to rise to this responsibility. But one needs some basic attributes: a reasonable level of intellectual curiosity, a certain seriousness of purpose, a basic level of managerial competence, a decent attention span, a functional moral compass, a measure of restraint and self-control. And if a president is deficient in one or more of them, you can be sure it will be exposed.

      Trump is seemingly deficient in them all. Some he perhaps never had, others have presumably atrophied with age.

    • A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment

      Despite his astonishing incompetence, the overwhelming majority of Republicans stand with him. And in a recent poll of Trump voters, only 2% would change their vote to be against him.

      Most on my side literally cannot understand how these polls could be true. But I believe that we must accept them, and then, as citizens, we need to reckon this radical disconnect between us.

    • Elizabeth Warren Tests the Waters for 2020

      Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday waded into the flamewar for the soul of the Democratic Party that Bernie Sanders started in 2016, with an impassioned speech decrying the increasing concentration of money and power in the highest, most rarefied echelons of American society.

    • Saudi Arabia to serve Donald Trump steak and ketchup to keep him happy

      When President Donald Trump sits down for dinner in Saudi Arabia, caterers have ensured that his favourite meal — steak with ketchup on the side — will be offered alongside traditional local cuisine.

      At Nato and the G7 summits, foreign delegations have had word the new US president prefers short presentations and lots of visual aids.

    • Trump Is a Cornered Megalomaniac—and That’s a Grave Danger to the Country

      With a cascade of leaks, a war with the FBI, and the announcement of the appointment of a special counsel to investigate allegations of wrongdoing, Donald Trump’s grotesque presidency now hangs by a thread. By the hour, it seems, the possibility of impeachment, of him being declared incompetent to govern—or, at the very least, of his own party bringing irresistible pressure on him to resign—grows.

      And as that pressure grows, so balloons the peril of our moment. For the 18 months that Trump has been center-stage politically, he has shown an extraordinary commitment to demagoguery, to flirtations with mob violence, to peddling conspiracy theories, to military grandstanding to distract attention from his problems, and to race-and-religion-baiting whenever the mood suits. He has demonstrated utter contempt for the separation of powers, extraordinary hostility to the free press, and a disconcerting fondness for dictators the world over. He has also shown himself to be brittle and thin-skinned, relishing the ability to use his vast platform to attack those he deems to be his personal “enemies,” but unable to tolerate disagreement or dissent when it is directed at him.

      Why do I rehash all these known traits now? Because—cornered, humiliated, and increasingly in legal peril—Trump will likely resort to all of the tricks of the demagogue as he fights for his survival. This is a man who has never played fair in his life, who takes pleasure in inflicting hurt on those weaker than himself, and who believes that ideals, or simply basic decency, are mere annoyances in the one game that matters: the game of power.

    • The Real Aim of Trump’s Trip to Saudi Arabia

      Donald Trump sets off on Friday to create the fantasy of an Arab Nato. There will be dictators aplenty to greet him in Riyadh, corrupt autocrats and thugs and torturers and head choppers. There will be at least one zombie president – the comatose, undead Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria who neither speaks nor, apparently, hears any more – and, of course, one totally insane president, Donald Trump. The aim, however, is simple: to prepare the Sunni Muslims of the Middle East for war against the Shia Muslims. With help from Israel, of course.

      Even for those used to the insanity of Arab leadership – not to mention those Westerners who have still to grasp that the US President is himself completely off his rocker – the Arab-Muslim (Sunni) summit in Saudi Arabia is almost beyond comprehension. From Pakistan and Jordan and Turkey and Egypt and Morocco and 42 other minareted capitals, they are to come so that the effete and ambitious Saudis can lead their Islamic crusade against “terrorism” and Shiism. The fact that most of the Middle East’s “terrorism” – Isis and al-Qaeda, aka the Nusrah Front – have their fountainhead in the very nation to which Trump is travelling, must and will be ignored. Never before in Middle Eastern history has such a “kumidia alakhta” – quite literally “comedy of errors” in Arabic – been staged.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Facebook blocks Pulitzer-winning reporter over Malta government exposé

      Temporary censorship of Matthew Caruana Galizia – who worked on the Panama Papers – raises concern over Facebook’s power to shape the news

    • Theresa May promises a British version of Iran’s Halal Internet

      UK Prime Minister and noted authoritarian Theresa May has promised that if she wins the upcoming general election, her party will abolish internet access in the UK, replacing it with a government-monitored internet where privacy tools are banned and online services will be required to vet all user-supplied content for compliance with rules about pornography, political speech, copyright compliance and so on — and search engines will have to emply special British rules to exclude banned material from their search results.

    • Theresa May to create new internet that would be controlled and regulated by government
    • Theresa May outlines Tory plan to create new, censored Internet controlled by UK government

      Yesterday, during her speech describing the current Tory Manifesto, Theresa May revealed that she plans to build a "new Internet," over which the government has complete control. The goal in the Tory internet plan is to become "the global leader in the regulation of the use of personal data and the internet." The manifesto states: [...]

    • Abolish geoblocking in the EU, civil society organisations demand

      This must be the first of multiple steps towards abolishing digital borders in Europe, not the last, several interest groups today demand in an open letter to the EU institutions.

    • What do you do when you realize your government has blocked you for Wrongthink?

      Something remarkable happened in Sweden this week: a list of 15,000 people with the wrong political opinions was used to block those people from the @Sweden account, and thereby preventing these people from communicating over Twitter with that part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The government tried defending the block as only concerning neo-nazi right-wing extremists, which was a narrative that held water in legacy media until somebody pointed out that the Ambassador of Israel (!) was among the blocked.

      [...]

      The Ministry of Foreign Affairs unblocked everybody and destroyed the blocklist – but only after getting Freedom-of-Information requests to have it handed out. This is an extremely illegal act in Sweden, as all governmental documents are transparent by default and must be handed out on request, with no counterdemands allowed. Destroying records is illegal in the first place. Destroying records after they are against-all-efforts-to-cover-up embarrassing, and after they have been requested, goes directly against the Swedish Constitution since 1766.

    • Anti-protest laws are stifling free speech in Australia

      The line between legitimate protest and unlawful obstruction needs to be carefully drawn. But these excessive laws make it impossible to make that determination. No government should have the right to stifle protest in this way. Australia, and the rest of the world, should be very wary of the outcome of this case.

    • Open letter urging further action to end geoblocking in the EU [Warning for PDF]

      The EU must take decisive action against digital borders that today divide the people of Europe, discriminate against minority language speakers, inconvenience millions and cause substantial losses to the EU economy.

    • Killing parody, killing memes, killing the internet?

      We love the internet because it creates fantastic opportunities to express ourselves and to innovate.

      But do we love it enough to pass it on to future generations?

    • Theresa May to create new internet that would be controlled and regulated by government

      Theresa May is planning to introduce huge regulations on the way the internet works, allowing the government to decide what is said online.

      Particular focus has been drawn to the end of the manifesto, which makes clear that the Tories want to introduce huge changes to the way the internet works.

    • MIT student sues CIA for information about its social media jokes

      A lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency — and no, it’s not a joke.

      Amy Johnson, a PhD student and researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is suing the CIA for failing to turn over documents, as part of a public records request, about the agency’s social media policies and how it manages its official Twitter account.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Killing C.I.A. Informants, China Crippled U.S. Spying Operations

      The Chinese government systematically dismantled C.I.A. spying operations in the country starting in 2010, killing or imprisoning more than a dozen sources over two years and crippling intelligence gathering there for years afterward.

      Current and former American officials described the intelligence breach as one of the worst in decades. It set off a scramble in Washington’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies to contain the fallout, but investigators were bitterly divided over the cause. Some were convinced that a mole within the C.I.A. had betrayed the United States. Others believed that the Chinese had hacked the covert system the C.I.A. used to communicate with its foreign sources. Years later, that debate remains unresolved.

      But there was no disagreement about the damage. From the final weeks of 2010 through the end of 2012, according to former American officials, the Chinese killed at least a dozen of the C.I.A.’s sources. According to three of the officials, one was shot in front of his colleagues in the courtyard of a government building — a message to others who might have been working for the C.I.A.

    • Feds use anti-terror tool to hunt the undocumented

      An unsealed federal search warrant affidavit obtained by The News is the first public acknowledgment that agents are using secret devices that masquerade as a cell tower to find people who entered the U.S. illegally, privacy and civil liberty experts said.

    • Undocumented Immigrant Hunt Expands Use of Controversial Stingray Tech

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Shahid Buttar concurred. "Once you start giving agencies fancy toys, and somebody is making money off of it, they are going to use them for more things, and ultimately oppress your rights," Buttar told the Free Press.

    • Facebook hit with fines and investigations in six EU countries over privacy law breaches

      Three EU countries – Belgium, France, and the Netherlands – have determined that Facebook is breaking their privacy laws, while Germany and Spain are still investigating the US company. The news was announced in a joint statement from the Contact Group of the data protection authorities (DPAs) of the Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and the German city of Hamburg. As a result, the French authorities have imposed a fine of €150,000 (about $166,000) on Facebook. The move comes hard on the heels of a €3 million fine (around $3.3 million) imposed by Italy on Facebook’s subsidiary WhatsApp last week over its handling of customer data.

    • 4 Items That Can Take On Anything The Internet Throws At You

      Well you should still look at privacy software because …

    • Tor Browser 7.0a4 is released

      This will probably be the last alpha before the first stable release in the 7.0 series.

    • ALTwitter – profiling with metadata

      EDRi’s Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow Sid Rao created a platform called ALTwitter, which combines the metadata collected from public Twitter accounts of the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and presents them graphically. Without going through all their tweets, one can learn a lot about their work areas, the devices they use, the types of websites they refer to, when they are the most active, and so on. What we can learn about the person only based on these metadata is indeed much more than we would first expect!

    • Twitter rolls out new privacy tools as it ditches Do Not Track and expands data sharing

      Twitter is dumping its support for Do Not Track (DNT), changing how it shares user data with third parties, and holding any web browsing data it collects for a longer duration—all to better aid in ad targeting, of course.

    • Facebook Fined $122 Million Over WhatsApp Deal for Misleading EU

      Facebook Inc. was fined 110 million euros ($122 million) by the European Union for misleading regulators during a 2014 review of the WhatsApp messaging service takeover on the same day the EU threatened to heavily penalize Patrick Drahi’s Altice NV for implementing for a second time a deal before getting regulatory clearance.

    • In Europe political attitudes are changing to Facebook

      Facebook counts a quarter of the world’s population – 1.94bn accounts – as monthly active users, with 354m in Europe. WhatsApp has 1.2 billion users, while Facebook-owned Instagram has 700m monthly active accounts. This vast scale has given it an air of an unstoppable behemoth trampling over rivals and across borders.

      However, politicians across Europe have started to question the role of tech giants in EU member states. Where once there was a feeling that the capitalism and tech ideas coming from the US were good for Europe, attitudes are changing.

    • Why open source AI voice assistants pose little threat to Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri

      The AI voice assistant in question is Mycroft, and the so-called "challenging" of market heavyweights is beyond silly. Mycroft has 36 contributors, with minimal outside interest. A total of 104 developers have bothered to follow it on Github, and it has garnered fewer than 1,000 stars (a way for developers to register interest). Another project associated with data infrastructure, Kubernetes, meanwhile, has 1,191 contributors, 23,205 stars, 1,733 people watching it, and 8,163 forks. That is what "challenging X for market superiority" looks like.

    • The machine is learning
    • It’s coming: another call for everyone’s DNA to be collected and stored permanently

      The head of the Hamburg Institute for Legal Medicine, Klaus Püschel, has called for the DNA of everybody in Germany – including tourists – to be collected and stored. As a story in the German news magazine Der Spiegel (Google Translate version) reported, Püschel wants this because [...]

    • UK government watchdog examining political use of data analytics

      The use of data analytics by political parties has piqued the interest of the Information Commissioner’s Office, a UK public body that protects data rights. On Wednesday it launched a formal investigation into the targeting of voters through social media by political parties, warning that any messages sent to people based on identifying data could be breaking the law.

    • PornHub’s Owner is About to Card Everybody in the UK

      Privacy advocates are fearful that MindGeek, which has over 100 million daily visitors to its sites that include PornHub and Brazzers, could create a database of adult viewing habits on a scale never seen before. MindGeek is "the largest adult entertainment operator globally," according to the porn industry press.

    • Boy, 11, hacks {sic} cyber-security audience to give lesson on ‘weaponisation’ of toys

      "Most internet-connected things have a Bluetooth functionality … I basically showed how I could connect to it, and send commands to it, by recording audio and playing the light," he told AFP later.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Security chiefs agree there’s no point extending laptop flight ban to Europe

      A four-hour meeting in Brussels ended in agreement not to enforce the ban which is already in place between a number of ‘mostly Muslim’ countries, however, reports claim that other measures were still being considered.

    • Laptop ban will create ‘economic tsunami’ in travel industry if electronic devices banished to hold

      Simply put, the ripple effects of this could create an economic tsunami the likes of which terrorists are dreaming of, but instead it will be at the hand of government directive.

    • Don’t Profit From Abuses by Bahrain

      Yemen has entered its third year of war, and war crimes are being committed at an escalating rate. For Yemen’s children, facing a man-made famine, this conflict between Houthi rebels and a coalition led by Saudi Arabia has begun a new phase of horrors.

    • British Human Rights Activist Faces Prison For Refusing To Hand Over Passwords At UK Border

      As Techdirt readers will recall, in 2013 David Miranda was held by the UK authorities when he flew into Heathrow airport, and all of his electronic equipment was seized, in an act of blatant intimidation. His detention was under Schedule 7 of the UK’s Terrorism Act, which, as its name implies, is supposed to be used only if someone is involved in committing, preparing or instigating “acts of terrorism.”

      That was clearly ridiculous in Miranda’s case, and it’s just as outrageous in the latest example of UK border bullying, this time against Muhammad Rabbani. He’s a British citizen, and the international director of Cage, which describes itself as “an independent advocacy organisation working to empower communities impacted by the War on Terror.”

    • The strange death, and even stranger life of “Cocaine Cowboy” Andrew Carter Thornton II

      Andrew Carter Thornton II (ACT II) is a name unknown to most except as a piece of historical trivia – the man who fell from the sky in 1985 with millions of dollars of cocaine strapped to his body. To a few others, he’s one of the men tied to a drug operation that was fueling and fueled by government corruption, whose roots were traced as far as the Kentucky Governor’s mansion. But reality, revealed through his FBI file, is even stranger, tracing the corruption surrounding ACT II back to the CIA.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC votes to dismantle net neutrality as critics cry ‘war on open internet’

      The Obama-era ruling came after a massive campaign by online activists who successfully saw off the lobbying might of the US’s largest cable companies. A similar battle will now ensue as the month’s long process of reviewing the rules begins. At the end of the review a final FCC vote will decide the future of internet regulation; court challenges are inevitable whatever the result.

    • Journalist allegedly "manhandled by FCC guards" for asking questions

      "When Donnelly strolled in an unthreatening way toward FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly to pose a question, two guards pinned Donnelly against the wall with the backs of their bodies until O’Rielly had passed," the report said. "O’Rielly witnessed this and continued walking."

    • OnPolitics Today: Your Internet is about to get less open

      Republicans succeeded in a party-line vote to start replacing the rules, which keep Internet providers from blocking or slowing down your Internet at will. The rules also keep corporations from getting paid to prioritize certain content’s delivery to users over others.

    • Net neutrality goes down in flames as FCC votes to kill Title II rules

      The Federal Communications Commission voted 2-1 today to start the process of eliminating net neutrality rules and the classification of home and mobile Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.

      [...]

      The FCC plans to take comments on its plan until August 16 (the docket is available here), and then make a final decision sometime after that.

    • Internet Providers Insist They Love Net Neutrality. Seriously?

      The rules won’t disappear overnight. In a party-line vote today, the FCC formally agreed to start the process of gathering feedback before drafting a more specific plan, which could take months (#bureaucracy). But FCC chair Ajit Pai has made it clear that, barring a successful legal challenge, the agency will give up its authority to actually enforce net neutrality regulations.

    • The FCC just voted to begin "Destroying Internet Freedom" and overturn net neutrality

      Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to kill net neutrality under the guise of "Restoring Internet Freedom." The lone FCC commissioner in favor of the Open Internet Order and the net neutrality rules we had enjoyed over the last few years, Mignon Clyburn, said the change would be better named "Destroying Internet Freedom" instead of "Restoring Internet Freedom."

    • [Older] The Republican push to repeal net neutrality will get underway this week

      The vote on Thursday, led by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, will kick off consideration of a proposal to relax regulations on companies such as Comcast and AT&T.

    • Ajit Pai accidentally supports utility rules and open-access networks

      But returning to 1990s-era Internet regulation would require more of the Title II utility-style regulation that Pai abhors, not less. If we had 1990s and early 2000s regulatory policy, Internet providers would be forced to open their networks to companies that want to resell Internet access, potentially unleashing a wave of competition in a market where today’s consumers often have no choice of high-speed broadband providers.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • EU Votes Today On Content Portability to Reduce Piracy (Updated)

        Members of the European Parliament will vote today on draft rules that would allow citizens to enjoy legally purchased music and movie streaming subscriptions when they travel to another EU country. It’s hoped that improved access to content will help to dampen frustrations and reduce Internet piracy.

      • Elsevier Wants $15 Million Piracy Damages From Sci-Hub and Libgen

        ‘Pirate’ sites Sci-Hub and LibGen face millions of dollars in damages in a lawsuit filed by Elsevier, one of the largest academic publishers. Elsevier has requested a default judgment of $15 million against the defendants for their "truly egregious conduct" and "staggering" infringement.

      • [Older] A brief visual history of MARC cataloging at the Library of Congress.

        The Library of Congress has released MARC records that I’ll be doing more with over the next several months to understand the books and their classifications. As a first stab, though, I wanted to simply look at the history of how the Library digitized card catalogs to begin with.

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