The United States Has Already Tackled Both Software Patents and Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 4:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There is also a correlation between those two

Summary: An outline of some notable responses to TC Heartland and where we go from here

INCREASINGLY, in the past few years, the US improved a lot of things in its patent system, first with AIA (which soon thereafter brought PTAB), then Alice (which further empowered PTAB against software patents), and now TC Heartland, which is going to force many patent trolls out of software patents-friendly courts.

Having written on the subject since my early twenties, I am personally gratified to see what happened in the US over the past half a decade, especially the past 3 years (since Alice). Maybe the same will happen in Europe. One can hope…

The patent microcosm is in a state of despair and disrepair. It clings onto rare exceptions in a desperate effort to entice clients. Here is one of them, who typically moans about PTAB, writing: “Encouraging some PTAB panels find eligibility under 101: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2017002637-05-15-2017-1 … “we do not agree ..claim directed to abstract idea”” (Section 101).

But how often does that happen? Rarely. TC Heartland aside, or even Alice aside, courts are going to get tougher on patents. There will likely be even a lower incentive to sue. As for PTAB, the smaller the number of lawsuits, the lower the incentive to petition it (IPRs).

What does the future hold? Probably a lot less lawsuits, especially software patent lawsuits. As for patent trolls, some of them might as well disband now. Gone are the golden days of Texas…

Even Andy Updegrove, who rarely writes blog posts these days, covered this case/outcome (TC Heartland). James Bessen, who published many academic papers about patent trolls, linked to this new press report which says:

Patent trolls can’t go judge shopping anymore.

The tech world is delighted.

On Monday, The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday put strict limits on where patent infringement lawsuits can be filed.

“Patent trolls take it on the chin,” read a headline at TechCrunch. “Supreme Court Messes With Texas ‘Patent Troll’ Hotbed in Win for Tech Industry,” wrote Fortune. “Life much harder for patent trolls,” concluded The Verge.

Patent trolls are shell companies that buy up patents and force businesses to pay license fees or face expensive litigation even if the outfits filing the suits make no useful product of their own. Those are called non-practicing entities by the courts, patent trolls by critics.

“Red Hat hails defeat of ‘patent trolls’ at Supreme Court,” says another new headline about the biggest GNU/Linux company. To quote: “The Supreme Court is making it easier for companies to defend themselves against patent infringement lawsuits in a case hailed by North Carolina’s attorney general. Red Hat and SAS are among firms that have waged a long legal battle against so-called “patent trolls.”

“Red Hat, which had filed a brief in the case, welcomed the decision.”

The mainstream media did not neglect to cover this, more or less properly (we have not yet seen what patent maximalists are saying).

“Costs of defending patent litigation will be reduced,” the New York Times wrote, “and the costs of patent trolling activity will be increased…”

A wish come true? Certainly for the trolls guru Joe Mullin, who used to run a blog dedicated to this topic and now writes about it for Ars Technica. “Supreme Court makes it much harder for patent trolls to sue in East Texas,” said his headline. A reader sent us the following excerpt from his article:

In a unanimous decision, the justices held that the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles all patent appeals, has been using the wrong standard to decide where a patent lawsuit can be brought. Today’s Supreme Court ruling in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods enforces a more strict standard for where cases can be filed. It overturns a looser rule that the Federal Circuit has used since 1990.

Here is the original: Supreme Court of the United States: TC Heartland LLC v . Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC [warning for PDF]

We wrote about the decision just hours after it came out (we had been looking forward to it for many months, correctly predicting this outcome).

Here is what the EFF wrote: “Today the Supreme Court issued a decision that will have a massive impact on patent troll litigation. In TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods, the court ruled that patent owners can sue corporate defendants only in districts where the defendant is incorporated or has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business. This means that patent trolls can no longer drag companies to distant and inconvenient forums that favor patent owners but have little connection to the dispute. Most significantly, it will be much harder for trolls to sue in the Eastern District of Texas.”

Watch this response to the EFF that says: “They’re called “patent owners.” If they can’t sue in Texas, they’ll just sue somewhere else, no?”

Well, the villainous Bristows (UPC propagandists) wrote about this. Their employee who ‘took over’ IP Kat — the one who is habitually celebrating patent trolls in Europe (like that infamous troll case in London earlier this spring) — went with the title “US Supreme Court ruling has potential to attract patent litigation to Europe”. There is a real danger is that if UPC ever happens, that will make Europe the ‘new Texas’, or the new Western hub for patent trolls. We cannot let this happen and therefore our focus on Europe will persist if not intensify.

Cloudflare Wants to Completely Squash the Patent Troll Blackbird Technologies by Squashing the Only Thing It Has

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 4:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cloudflare dark logo

Summary: Putting more of its money to good use, for a change, Cloudflare goes for the kill against Blackbird Technologies, which has no technologies, just patents and lawsuits

INTERNET access may be limited here (and Cloudflare greylists IP addresses here), but the other day we wrote about Cloudflare in a positive way, for a change.

The good work by Cloudflare, at least on the patent front (Cloudflare’s negative impact on other fronts notwithstanding), now resembles Newegg’s. They fight back against patent trolls, having belatedly realised just how much of a nuisance these can be. Newegg already neutralised some of the most notorious trolls and it seems as though Cloudflare realised the potential for positive publicly, so now it’s going for the kill. The company would be wise to invest its money in squashing all trolls and all software patents (something which can be done after Alice), but Cloudflare prioritises its own battles and now ups the ante, forcing the troll to either walk away or face destruction of so-called ‘assets’, namely patents. The latest bounty is this:

Blackbird sued Cloudflare in March, claiming infringement of US Patent No. 6,453,335. Two weeks ago, Cloudflare explained the strategy it would use to fight back. The company pledged to not only seek to invalidate the ’335 patent, but it will spend $50,000 on a "bounty" seeking to gather prior art and knock out all Blackbird-owned patents.

As TechDirt put it the other day, “Cloudflare Ups The Ante In Search Of Prior Art To Invalidate ALL Patents From Patent Troll Blackbird Tech” (they don’t have many patents).

A few weeks ago, we wrote about Cloudflare’s decision to punch back hard against a patent troll, Blackbird Technologies, that had sued the company over a questionable patent (US Patent 6,453,335). Beyond just challenging the claim of infringement, the company also filed ethics complaints against the lawyers who run Blackbird, noting that the company appeared to be a law firm masquerading as a company, and breaking a number of local rules about law firms and “buying” a proprietary interest in a lawsuit. At the same time, Cloudflare set up a $50,000 fund to offer prizes to people who could find prior art not just to invalidate the patent that Cloudflare was sued over but also every other patent held by Blackbird Technologies.

Let’s hope that Cloudflare fights this to the end and renders Blackbird as defunct as IPNav (IP Navigation Group, LLC). These are truly malicious and very harmful trolls.


Links 25/5/2017: Mesa 17.1.1, Qt 5.9.0 RC, and Much More

Posted in News Roundup at 10:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • The development of Global Scale

    The architecture of Nextcloud is a classic Web Application architecture. I picked this architecture 7.5 years ago because it is very well known and is proven to be scaled relatively easily. This usually works with off the shelf technologies like http load balancers, clusters of Linux webservers and clustered databases.

  • Rubicon Project CEO: ‘Open source will be the gold standard’

    The discussion covers: how the dominance of the duopoly is arguably the company’s biggest life-line; how open source code will lead to a more equitable system; plus potential future acquisitions in his turn around plan.

  • Broad releases open source version of genomic analysis software
  • Sprint executive: 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.

    As a rough analogy, he says the normative standards bodies that have been around for a long time are sort of like Fortune 500 companies. They have a purpose, they’re big in scale and scope, and you know very clearly who to go to for mobile standards. It’s not a question of which of many organizations to go to.

  • How open source software will drive the future of auto innovations

    Automotive companies are shifting from bending metal to bending bits. Soon they will be offering software and services to complement their manufactured metal.

  • Open source for hybrid cloud success: Is it an open and shut case?

    The FOSS acronym – standing for free, open source software – has been a clarion call for many since the open source movement started, despite being nominally based on a misinterpretation of what open source is all about.

  • IoT and the Move to Open Source GIS

    In my 15 years in the geospatial industry, I’ve seen our industry respond to certain trends and take the lead in others. As with most industries, we regarded the Cloud with a certain amount of suspicion and trepidation – after all, many companies’ geospatial data is their “ace in the hole” and they initially felt better and safer keeping it on premise, on their desktops or on servers. Eventually they realized that this led to siloed data and limited access; this, and the cost factor, led to the migration to the Cloud. Data has moved from the back office to the front office. The Cloud is not only used to deliver content, but also to provide an elastic infrastructure to host, analyze, and deliver value to a global set of users.

  • Hortonworks And Red Hat: Cloud IaaS Focus Pays Off
  • Google, IBM, and Lyft launch open source project Istio

    Google, IBM, and Lyft on Wednesday announced the first public release of Istio, an open source service that gives developers a vendor-neutral way to connect, secure, manage and monitor networks of different microservices on cloud platforms.

  • Which technologies are poised to take over in open source?

    When you think of open source technologies, you probably think of the stalwarts, the technologies that have been around for years and years. It makes sense: According to a survey conducted in Q4 of 2016 by my company, Greythorn, 30%+ of participants said established technologies are among the top ten they primarily use.


    When we examine the top 10 technologies, eight out of the 10 are 15+ years old, and nine out of 10 are 10+ years old (Docker is the only younger technology represented). However, looking to the next 20 top technologies, we see an onslaught of new arrivals to the industry: 16% of people surveyed are using Apache Cassandra (released in 2008, 1.0 release in 2011), 15% are using Spark (open sourced in 2012, 1.0 release in 2014), 14% are using NGINX (1.0 release in 2011), and 11% are using Kafka (released in early 2011, not at 1.0 release).

  • How I used open source tools to build a theater lighting system

    The things we do for family, eh? Sometimes I wonder why I do it to myself, this not being the first time my perfectionism has led me to do far more work than a task originally required.

  • How to avoid technical debt in open source communities

    "Every engineer nowadays should be spending a couple of hours a week working on open source projects that their company relies on," he said.

  • Chef sidles up to security for bringing automated compliance to devops
  • Events

    • GNOME.Asia Summit 2017 to be hosted in Chongqing China
    • Rootconf/Devconf 2017

      This year’s Rootconf was special as it also hosted Devconf for the first time in India. The conference took place at MLR Convention Centre, JP Nagar, Bangalore on 11-12 May, 2017. The event had 2 parallel tracks running, 1 was for Rootconf and the other one for Devconf. Rootconf is a place like other Hasgeek events where you get to see friends and make new friends, learn about what they are up to and share your stints.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Thimble Gets a Makeover

        That’s why Mozilla built Thimble nearly five years ago. Much like Firefox enables users to browse the web, Thimble enables users to learn the web. It’s our browser-based tool for learning to code.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD


    • The Licensing and Compliance Lab interviews AJ Jordon of gplenforced.org

      So basically Bradley Kuhn gave a talk at FOSDEM ’17 about GPL enforcement and I was like, wow, it sucks how many companies and people think that enforcing the GPL is a bad idea. I mean, if you disagree with copyleft that’s fine (though I personally would argue with that position), but then you should use a suitable license. Like MIT. The very idea that we shouldn’t enforce the GPL just doesn’t make sense to me because it suggests that the text of the license is watery and unimportant. I don’t know about you, but when I say I want my programs to respect users’ freedom, I mean it.

      So GPL enforcement is important. It seemed to me that there are probably a lot of developers out there who want to support GPL enforcement but don’t have a good way to voice that support. gplenforced.org is essentially a quick and dirty hack I wrote to make that dead-simple.

    • Sixteen new GNU releases in the month of May
  • Licensing/Legal

    • Court Ruling Supports Contractual and Statutory Enforcement of Open Source Software Licenses

      Artifex Software provides “Ghostscript” software that interprets Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format) files and other page description language files. Artifex distributes Ghostscript under a “dual license” model, offering its customers two licensing options: they can either use Ghostscript for free under the terms of the GNU General Public License v 3.0 (GPL), or purchase a commercial license to use the program without the restrictions of the GPL.2

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia


  • Was The Disney Movie ‘Hacking Ransom’ a Giant Hoax?

    Last week, Disney boss Bog Iger revealed that one of his company’s movies had been stolen and was being held hostage for a bitcoin ransom. With press speculation that it might be the latest ‘Pirates’ movie, TF has spent more than a week trying to find out more. The whole thing seems highly questionable.

  • Science

    • Colombian biologist cleared of criminal charges for posting another scientist’s thesis online

      A Colombian biologist who faced a criminal trial for posting another scientist’s thesis online has been cleared of copyright violation — an offence that, under Colombian law, might have brought him a jail sentence. Diego Gómez Hoyos was handed down his ‘not guilty’ verdict on 24 May by a judge in Bogotá, although the prosecutor in the case has appealed the decision.

    • Google’s AlphaGo AI beats world’s best human Go player

      DeepMind’s AlphaGo AI has defeated Ke Jie in the first round of a best-of-three Go match in China.

    • Here’s Trump’s plan to destroy the US science budget

      The budget proposal confirms fears that Trump intends to cut nearly $5.8 billion in funding from the National Institutes of Health — about 18 percent of the agency’s total budget. It also cuts hundreds of millions of dollars from infectious disease programs at the CDC, and an additional $841 million from the National Science Foundation, which funds basic scientific research.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • 23 million fewer Americans insured under House GOP bill, says CBO

      The House Republican health care bill would leave 23 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2026 than under Obamacare, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.

    • Access to Birth Control Is Not a Religious Debate

      When it comes to women’s health, our leaders in Washington are decades behind those who will be directly affected by their decisions.

      In a move that should outrage anyone who wishes to retain the ability to plan whether and when to have children and to control their own reproductive health decisions, President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that opens the door for his Department of Health and Human Services to gut the Affordable Care Act provision that has broadened access to copay-free birth control to more than 55 million women across the country — and for employers to determine whether or not they can refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception to their employees on the basis of their religious beliefs.

    • Feds probing psychiatric hospitals for locking in patients to boost profits

      According to several sources, the UHS’ chain of psychiatric facilities—the largest in the country—will delay patients’ discharge dates until the day insurance coverage runs out, regardless of the need of the patient. Because the hospitals are reimbursed per day, the practice extracts the maximum amount of money from insurance companies. It also can be devastating to patients, who are needlessly kept from returning to their jobs and families. To cover up the scheme, medical notes are sometimes altered and doctors come up with excuses, such as medication changes, sources allege. Employees say they repeatedly hear the phrase: “don’t leave days on the table.”

    • Third of NHS children’s mental health services ‘face cuts or closure’

      A third of children’s mental health workers say their service is facing cuts or closure, a new survey has revealed.

      Research carried out by four major medical organisations highlighted the “extremely concerning” state of mental health services for children and young people.

      Of the more than 3,000 NHS counsellors, therapists and psychoanalysts who took part in the survey, 84 per cent said it has become more difficult for children to access the help they need, with children now required to have more severe levels of illness in order to get help.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Microsoft says its best not to fiddle with its Windows 10 group policies (that don’t work)

      On Monday, we revealed that a security researcher had used a packet sniffer to show that many settings designed to prevent access to the internet were being ignored with connections to a range of third party servers including advertising hubs.

    • What’s got a vast attack surface and runs on Linux? Windows Defender, of course

      Google Project Zero’s Windows bug-hunter and fuzz-boffin Tavis Ormandy has given the world an insight into how he works so fast: he works on Linux, and with the release of a personal project on GitHub, others can too.

      Ormandy’s project is to port Windows DLLs to Linux for his vuln tests (“So that’s how he works so fast!” Penguinistas around the world are saying).

      Typically self-effacing, Ormandy made this simple announcement on Twitter (to a reception mixing admiration, humour, and horror):

    • A Samba remote code execution vulnerability

      Distributors are already shipping the fix; there’s also a workaround in the advisory for those who cannot update immediately.

    • Hacked in Translation – from Subtitles to Complete Takeover

      Check Point researchers revealed a new attack vector which threatens millions of users worldwide – attack by subtitles. By crafting malicious subtitle files, which are then downloaded by a victim’s media player, attackers can take complete control over any type of device via vulnerabilities found in many popular streaming platforms, including VLC, Kodi (XBMC), Popcorn-Time and strem.io. We estimate there are approximately 200 million video players and streamers that currently run the vulnerable software, making this one of the most widespread, easily accessed and zero-resistance vulnerability reported in recent years.

    • Check Point Discovers Media Subtitle Vulnerability Impacting Millions
    • How does Rakos malware attack embedded Linux systems?

      Rakos attacks embedded Linux systems using methods similar to those used by the Moose worm, where it tries to brute force the login credentials via SSH on vulnerable devices. When a vulnerable device is found, the malware transfers the malicious binary to the target system and downloads the configuration file that lists the command-and-control (C&C) servers. The malicious binary starts a web server to accept commands from remote systems. The C&C connection can be used to update the malicious binary and the configuration file.

    • Congressional Rep Pushes His ‘Hack Back’ Bill By Claiming It Would Have Prevented The WannaCry Ransomware Attack
    • Best password management tool.
    • Top hacker conference to target voting machines

      When over 25,000 of them descend on Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas at the end of July for DEFCON, the world’s largest hacking conference, organizers are planning to have waiting what they call "a village" of different opportunities to test how easily voting machines can be manipulated.

    • A wormable code-execution bug has lurked in Samba for 7 years. Patch now!

      The seven-year-old flaw, indexed as CVE-2017-7494, can be reliably exploited with just one line of code to execute malicious code, as long as a few conditions are met. Those requirements include vulnerable computers that (a) make file- and printer-sharing port 445 reachable on the Internet, (b) configure shared files to have write privileges, and (c) use known or guessable server paths for those files. When those conditions are satisfied, remote attackers can upload any code of their choosing and cause the server to execute it, possibly with unfettered root privileges, depending on the vulnerable platform.

    • Dated Linux bug might be key to lesser Wanna Cry

      Linux, the widely used free operating system, uses a module called Samba to share files in the same way Windows does. Older versions of Samba — 3.5 through 4.4 — are vulnerable to an attack that is similar to, but smaller than, the one behind Wanna Cry, the ransomware that caused a worldwide panic earlier this month.

    • Samba Patches Critical Remote Code Execution Flaw
    • Twitter Patches High Impact Account Tweeting Flaw

      A basic premise of Twitter is that the user (@) is the one who is able to send a message for any given account. But that premise was challenged by a security bug that Twitter patched at the end of February that was only publicly disclosed on May 22.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Pakistan harbouring terrorists in Afghanistan, says US intelligence officials

      "So they (Pakistan) hold in reserve terrorist organisation — we define them as terrorist organisations, they hold them in reserve so that — if Afghanistan leans towards India, they will no longer be supportive of an idea of a stable and secure Afghanistan that could undermine Pakistan interest," Stewart said.

    • Trump tells Duterte of two U.S. nuclear subs in Korean waters

      U.S. President Donald Trump told his Philippine counterpart that Washington has sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, the New York Times said, comments likely to raise questions about his handling of sensitive information.

      Trump has said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible because of its nuclear and missile programs and that all options are on the table but that he wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

      North Korea has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

    • Philippines’ Duterte may place entire country under martial law

      Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday he wouldn’t rule out placing the entire country under martial law if the threat of Islamic State spreads.

      Duterte cut short a visit to Russia and placed the southern island of Mindanao under military rule on Tuesday, and said he would keep it that way for a year if necessary.

    • The Pentagon Can’t Believe Trump Told Another President About Nuclear Subs Near North Korea

      Pentagon officials are in shock after the release of a transcript between President Donald Trump and his Philippines counterpart reveals that the US military had moved two nuclear submarines towards North Korea

      “We never talk about subs!” three officials told BuzzFeed News, referring to the military’s belief that keeping submarines’ movement stealth is key to their mission.

      While the US military will frequently announce the deployment of aircraft carriers, it is far more careful when discussing the movement of nuclear submarines. Carriers are hard to miss, and that in part, is a reason the US military deploys them. They are a physical show of forces. Submarines are, at times, a furtive complement to the carriers, a hard-to-detect means of strategic deterrence.

    • Speaking in Fascism’s Tongues

      I was a child when the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos decreed martial law in 1972, casting a long spell over the Philippines. “Martial-law baby” became the phrase for people like me, Filipinos who grew up under authoritarianism, blind to its buildup. We martial-law babies are living an eerie moment today: With Rodrigo Duterte now president, it’s like history is making a bad pun.

      When norms shift, one of the first things to change is language. In a fascist world, shocking neologisms become everyday speech. “Stockade” was a special verb I learned as a little girl. “Na-stockade hiya,” or “he was put in the stockade,” was the explanation for someone jailed for staying out after curfew during martial law. You’d say “na-curfew” when a playmate got stuck in your home after hours and to avoid becoming “na-stockade” would stay for a sleepover.


      It was the Vietnam War during my childhood, and the Philippines was in the hands of a military state propped up by shipments of U.S. arms. The citizens who had no rights then were student radicals, peasant activists, phantom communists. Mr. Marcos’s government arrested 70,000 people, tortured 35,000 and killed 3,257 between 1975 and 1985. Today, the government’s targets are drug addicts and drug dealers, and a slew of bystanders, including children. The death toll in the nearly 11 months that Mr. Duterte has been in power already is more than twice the official tally of political murders during one decade of the Marcos regime. I watch in real time how fascism changes our tongues.

    • Don’t let dictator Duterte mortgage our future like Marcos did

      Everything seems to be going Duterte’s way. With Western criticism of his war on drugs and anti-human rights policies, Duterte has found a friend in China, a country that is not exactly famous for its respect and adherence to human rights or democracy, having been an authoritarian one-party communist state in the past 77 years.

      Duterte’s relationship with China may be as personal as it is now official government policy. And it is paying off. In the recent UNHRC universal periodic review for the Philippines, only China out of 47 countries believed Senator Cayetano’s spiel on the Duterte regime’s “sterling” human rights record. The rest of the 46 countries did not buy Cayetano’s sales pitch and instead asked the Duterte regime to stop the extrajudicial killings under his government.

    • Trump calls Kim Jong Un a ‘madman with nuclear weapons,’ according to transcript of Duterte call

      President Trump labeled North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un a “madman with nuclear weapons” during a private phone conversation with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte last month, just days before stating publicly that he would be “honored” to meet with Kim.

      In the April 29 call, Trump sought Duterte’s input on whether Kim is “stable or not stable” and expressed some satisfaction in North Korea’s recent failed missile tests, noting that “all his rockets are crashing. That’s the good news,” according to a transcript of the conversation made by the Philippines government on May 2 and obtained Tuesday by The Washington Post.

      Duterte responded that Kim is “playing with his bombs, his toys” and offered that “his mind is not working well and he just might go crazy one moment.” That prompted Trump to point out that the United States has “a lot of firepower over there,” including “two nuclear submarines” sent by the Pentagon to the region last month.

    • Lindsey Graham on Trump Ally Rodrigo Duterte: “This Is Not a Guy We Want to Empower”

      South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the Republican Party’s leading voices on defense and foreign affairs, said Wednesday that it is wrong to endorse the campaign of extrajudicial killing being carried out by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

      On Tuesday, The Intercept reported that President Trump called Duterte with the specific goal of congratulating him on the campaign, which Duterte describes as a “drug war.”

      “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” Trump told Duterte at the beginning of their call, according to the transcript obtained by The Intercept. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”

      Graham said that any assessment of Duterte’s campaign has to take into account how he’s going about it. “I disagree with the way he’s carrying out the drug war. I disagree with the authoritarian manner with which he’s running the country, but I don’t know what the White House said or did, I wasn’t there. But I can tell you my own view, this is not a guy we want to empower,” Graham told The Intercept. “You just have to stand up for the rule of law.”

    • Duterte threatens martial law for all of Philippines

      Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened Wednesday to impose martial law nationwide to combat the rising threat of terrorism, after Islamist militants beheaded a policeman and took Catholic hostages while rampaging through a southern city.

      Duterte declared martial law on Tuesday for the southern region of Mindanao — which makes up roughly one third of the country and is home to 20 million people — in an immediate response to the attacks by the gunmen, who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

    • Duterte weighs martial law across Philippines

      Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is considering imposing martial law across the whole country, to stop the rise of ISIL-linked groups.

    • Duterte Is The Philippines’ Greatest Threat: Congress Should Cancel His Martial Law

      President Duterte used the excuse of terrorism in Mindanao to declare martial law there on May 23, a martial law he is itching to expand to the rest of the country. On multiple occasions he has mooted the idea of martial law, emergency powers, or a “revolutionary government” for the Philippines to address issues as varied as traffic in Manila, impeachment, a budget impasse, and his drug war. He also suggested that he could dispense with local elections and appoint 42,000 Barangay leaders, the smallest political unit in the Philippines. This is contrary to the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, as is his threat to extend martial law past the 60-day maximum. Congress should revoke his martial law declaration, as is its constitutional right.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • CIA director: ‘We are back in the business of stealing secrets’

      CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a blunt declaration Tuesday: “We are back in the business of stealing secrets.”

      The remark from Pompeo, made to a small group of reporters on Tuesday, was a tacit jab at his predecessor. Former agency director John Brennan turned heads in March of last year when he told National Public Radio that the U.S. doesn’t “steal secrets.”

    • FBI Insider Threat Program Documents Show How Little It Takes To Be Branded A Threat To The Agency

      Jason Leopold has obtained the FBI’s training slides for its “insider threat” program. This would be the same program the FBI refused to discuss in detail with the Senate, walking out of the briefing when asked how the program would avoid sweeping up legitimate whistleblowers.

      The federal government acts as though it’s receptive to whistleblowing, but then undermines that sentiment with pretty much everything else it does. These insider threat programs have only become more severe after the Snowden leaks, asking federal government employees to treat normal, everyday behavior as inherently suspicious.

    • ‘In Germany, such a violation is not even punishable’

      Sweden has dropped rape charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The German criminal law expert Nikolaos Gazeas talks about extradition and whether Britain can still arrest Assange for skipping bail years ago.

    • Court Orders Government To Provide More Information About Withheld Information in Laura Poitras’ FOIA Lawsuit

      Laura Poitras—the Academy and Pulitzer Prize Award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist behind CITIZENFOUR and Risk—wants to know why she was stopped and detained at the U.S. border every time she entered the country between July 2006 and June 2012. EFF is representing Poitras in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit aimed at answering this question. Since we filed the complaint in July 2015, the government has turned over hundreds of pages of highly redacted records, but it has failed to provide us with the particular justification for each withholding—as it is required to do. In March, in a win for transparency, a federal judge called foul and ordered the government to explain with particularity its rationale for withholding each document.

    • Senators From Both Parties Blast “Outrageous” Trump Call Praising Duterte for Anti-Drug Killing Spree

      Donald Trump’s praise for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous anti-drug campaign drew condemnation from leading foreign policy voices in both parties Wednesday, who were shocked the president would encourage what the State Department describes as “extrajudicial killings.”

      The Intercept reported Tuesday that Trump told Duterte in a private call that he endorsed the murderous anti-drug campaign, which has killed well over 7,000 people. Duterte has unapologetically compared himself to Hitler and said he would “be happy to slaughter” millions of drug addicts in the Philippines.

      According to the transcript of an April phone call obtained and authenticated by The Intercept, Trump had nothing but kind words for Duterte’s policy.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Inside the Effort to Kill Protections for Endangered Animals

      The ESA passed the House and Senate by margins that in the current partisan climate would be astonishing: 92 to zero in the Senate, 390 to 12 in the House. President Richard Nixon, a Republican, signed the law without hesitation.

      I asked Dingell if he could get the ESA passed today.

      "I don’t think I could pass the Lord’s Prayer in that nuthouse," he told me, referring to Congress. "The ESA was written so that scientific principles would be used to protect species. Science would make the decisions, science would decide the case. Today we have a bunch of antiscience ignoramuses and vicious lying people in Congress. And we’re going to pay a hellacious price."

    • Are Some Whales Just Too Big To Survive Climate Change?

      Nothing defines whales more than their size: The 100-foot blue whale is the largest creature that has ever existed, and many other species are 50-feet long or more. But it’s an accident of evolutionary timing that we know whales as giants. New research suggests most whales weren’t much more than 20-feet long until just two or three million years ago, when the oceans suddenly got a whole lot cooler.

      This raises a question: With the oceans set to get very warm, very fast, does that spell doom for these massive creatures?

    • Scientists just published an entire study refuting Scott Pruitt on climate change

      In a sign of growing tensions between scientists and the Trump administration, researchers published a scientific paper Wednesday that was conceived and written as an explicit refutation to an assertion by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt about climate change.

      The study, in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, sets up a direct test of a claim by Pruitt, made in written Senate comments following his confirmation hearing, that “over the past two decades satellite data indicates there has been a leveling off of warming.”

  • Finance

    • Uber Plans Millions in Back Pay After Shorting NYC Drivers

      The ride-hailing company has previously misled drivers about how much they could make and miscalculated fares. In this case, Uber was taking its cut of fares based on the pretax sum, instead of after taxes and fees as stated in its terms of service. The issue was also raised in a lawsuit against San Francisco-based Uber filed by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. In March, Uber acknowledged that it had underestimated drivers’ pay in Philadelphia by millions of dollars.

    • Robots are set to replace half of retail workers in the US

      The most likely area for automation is cashier positions, which can be "easily" converted, says the report. Women are expected to be especially hard-hit by this, as they hold 73 per cent of cashier positions in the States.

    • Benefit sanctions leaving pupils hungry, Michael Gove’s former right-hand man warns

      Cuts to school support and benefit sanctions are damaging the education of Britain’s children and leaving teachers to buy food for pupils out of their own money, Michael Gove’s former right-hand man has warned.

      Sam Freedman, who was senior policy advisor to Mr Gove during his tenure as Education Secretary, said politicians of all parties had “abandoned” disadvantaged communities when it came to schools.

    • Africa subsidises the rest of the world by over $40 billion in one year, according to new research

      Much more wealth is leaving the world’s most impoverished continent than is entering it, according to new research into total financial flows into and out of Africa. The study finds that African countries receive $161.6 billion in resources such as loans, remittances and aid each year, but lose $203 billion through factors including tax avoidance, debt payments and resource extraction, creating an annual net financial deficit of over $40 billion.

    • Singapore ‘vending machine’ dispenses Ferraris, Lamborghinis

      Forget about soft drinks and potato chips – a “vending machine” in Singapore is offering up luxury vehicles, including Bentleys, Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

      Used car seller Autobahn Motors opened a futuristic 15-story showroom in December, with vehicles on display in 60 slots, billing it as the “world’s largest luxury car vending machine”.

    • Trump reportedly called Germany “bad, very bad” and threatened to stop Americans from buying BMWs

      Donald Trump’s visit to Brussels today has been one controversy after another. First he brusquely pushed Montenegro’s prime minister aside to get to the front of a photo-op. Then he declined to support Article Five, the cornerstone of NATO’s alliance, in a speech. Now, two of Germany’s leading newspapers are reporting that in a meeting with the EU’s top leadership he insulted Germany, threatened to cut off its car imports to the US, and displayed a stunning lack of knowledge about basic trade policy.

    • A beginner’s guide to Ethereum tokens

      Before learning about Ethereum tokens, it is important to first understand the basics of Ethereum. Please see my beginner’s guide to Ethereum for those new to this concept entirely. Ethereum tokens are simply digital assets that are being built on top of the Ethereum blockchain. They benefit from Ethereum’s existing infrastructure instead of developers having to build an entirely new blockchain. They also strengthen the Ethereum ecosystem by driving demand for ether, the native currency of Ethereum, needed to power the smart contracts. This beginner’s guide should help those who are new to digital assets to understand Ethereum tokens at a high level and how they are different than Ethereum.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump pushes around NATO; lecture seen as unsettling alliance

      When President Donald Trump lectured NATO members on their contributions to the trans-Atlantic alliance, he demonstrated a lack of understanding about how the group works and potentially alienated the US’ closest allies, analysts said.

      The speech comes at a time when Washington’s longstanding partnerships with the UK and Israel have endured friction over intelligence gaffes by the new administration.

      “Diplomatically, the speech was inept at best and deliberately insulting at worst,” said Jeff Rathke, deputy director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    • At NATO Headquarters, Trump Fails Another Leadership Test

      Even when a moment designed to affirm some of America’s basic principles is dangled before him, President Donald Trump has a way of batting it aside. In Brussels on Thursday, as he stood at a rostrum at a ceremony in front of the new NATO headquarters, Trump had, to his left, a mangled girder from the World Trade Center; to his right, broken slabs of the Berlin Wall, both of which were being dedicated as memorials; and, behind him, the leaders of the twenty-seven other countries in the alliance. One of them, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, had just delivered remarks that served as a reminder that, until she was thirty-five years old, she had lived behind that wall, and had been part of the civic movement that peacefully reunified Germany. Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General of NATO, who had introduced Merkel, noted that she had been among the crowds filling the streets of East Berlin on the night the Wall came down. A few minutes later, when Stoltenberg introduced Trump, he summoned a personal connection for him, too, noting that the 9/11 terrorists “struck at the heart of your own home town, New York.” That attack marked the only time that NATO has invoked Article 5 of its charter, the mutual-defense provision, which the new headquarters’ 9/11 memorial was also supposed to commemorate. In what may have been an attempt at Trump-friendly sloganeering, Stoltenberg summed up Article 5 by declaring, gamely, “All for one, and one for all!” But Trump had come to praise other ideals, other lands, and other leaders.

    • Tory poll lead slashed to five points as Jeremy Corbyn gains ground on Theresa May

      THE Tories’ poll lead has been slashed to just five points as campaigns resume after the Manchester bombing.

      A new survey from YouGov puts Theresa May’s party on 43%, down one point since the previous week.

      But over the same period Labour have gained three points, putting them on 38% and in striking distance of victory.

    • Donald Trump has just met with the new leader of the secular world – Pope Francis

      After two days lecturing a collection of head-choppers, dictators, torturers and land thieves, Donald Trump at last met a good guy on Wednesday. Pope Francis didn’t ask for a $100bn (£77.2bn) arms deal for the Vatican. [...]

    • Black lawmaker addresses lynching threats on House floor
    • Republicans want to leave you more voicemail — without ever ringing your cellphone

      It’s part of a push by groups, including the U.S. Chamber, to relax the FCC’s robocalling rules.

    • This suspension of democracy is a grave error
    • Political TKO? Reporter charges Greg Gianforte ‘just body slammed me and broke my glasses’
    • Republican candidate ‘body-slams’ Guardian reporter in Montana

      The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat has been charged with assault after he is alleged to have slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election, breaking his glasses and shouting, "Get the hell out of here."

    • Our Embarrassment in Chief’s International Trip Is No Laughing Matter

      But let’s not grade a guy holding the nuclear codes on a curve. Three days into the trip, and Trump’s already showed the world that the United States is being governed by a brittle man-child. And if he manages to get through it without causing a major international incident, it will only be because foreign leaders have done a competent job dumbing down any complex diplomatic issues that may arise and feeding the insatiable ego of our embarrassment in chief.

    • Wilbur Ross Is a Disgrace to Himself and His Country

      It is not a "theory" that Saudi Arabia is an aggressively authoritarian state. It’s a well-documented fact—of the sort the US secretary of commerce should be well aware of.

    • Trump lost the ‘alpha male handshake’ game on his global charm offensive tour. Sad!

      U.S. President and noted buffoon Donald Trump likes to play a manly-man mind game on the bros he shakes hands with.

      He yanks their arms and shakes them aggressively, and won’t let them let go until he’s shaken them up for an awkwardly long time.

      Sometimes he pulls them toward himself, knocking them off balance, because they’re sissy-boys and he’s a manly-man.

      Welp, Trump’s bush league domination moves didn’t work on the president of Tajikistan.

    • Maybot policy reboot ends in an embarrassing interview meltdown

      “Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed,” the Supreme Leader snarled, her eyes narrowing into a death stare, her face contorted and her arms spread wide, twitching manically. “Nothing has changed.”

      Everyone at Conservative party’s Welsh manifesto launch in Wrexham saw it rather differently. They had distinctly heard her say she would be reversing the Conservative party policy on social care that she had introduced in her English manifesto launch in Halifax the previous Thursday. Making it one of the quickest manifesto U-turns in history.

    • Demonization of Soros recalls old anti-Semitic conspiracies

      In most nations, having a billionaire financier and philanthropist would be a source of great pride, a person many elected officials would want to cozy up to.

      Not for George Soros.

      The demonization of the American-Hungarian billionaire and Holocaust survivor has spread from Hungary and Moscow across Europe and into the United States, with the 86-year-old increasingly accused by nationalists of using his money to force his liberal values, including support for refugees, on their societies.

    • Thousands protest Trump in Belgium

      Omer Mommrerts grasped his wife’s hand as he marched down a sidewalk. A sticker reading “Trump Not Welcome” was neatly pinned to his black overcoat. Though Mommrerts is 84-years-old and hard of hearing, he wasn’t going to miss the “Trump Not Welcome” protest in Brussels on Wednesday.

      “I see young people and that’s why I’m happy,” he said. “It’s not one generation or one group. It’s inter-generational, inter-cultural. All kinds of people.”

    • European Leaders Hope to Win Trump’s Favor

      Brussels, which he called a “hellhole,” and the European Union, which he called “a vehicle for Germany,” and NATO, which he called “obsolete,” are all nervously awaiting the arrival of President Trump on Wednesday, the way earthlings might await the impact of an asteroid.

      Security will be very tight, especially after the terrorist attack Monday night in Manchester, England, with police officers brought in from all over Belgium and some neighboring countries.

    • The UK’s Epochal Election

      In parliamentary democracies, it is a platitude, largely self-regarding, that all general elections matter somehow and in some way. Some, however, clearly matter more than others.

      In the UK, since World War 2, we can think of the Labour victory in 1945 which led to the foundation of its welfare state. The victory of Thatcher in 1979 led to the installation of neoliberalism in the UK. Every election victor since then, Blair’s Labour included, has upheld the essentials of Thatcherite dogma.

      It is no overstatement to say the UK has another epochal general election in June 2017.

      A victory, against the current odds, for a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour will, if it adheres to positions he promoted when he won the party leadership by a margin even greater than Blair’s when the latter became leader, ensue in the promise of an overturning of neoliberalism.

      Labour’s election manifesto confirms that Corbyn is campaigning on a repudiation of Thatcherism and neoliberalism (to which the Blairites see no alternative).

    • If you vote for the Tories’ right to buy, where will your children live?

      This is the column I am supposed to write; it’s all part of the Tory game plan. The Conservatives’ proposal to flog off housing association homes has nothing to do with meeting people’s urgent and increasingly desperate housing needs.

      The aims are threefold. First, with home ownership at a three-decade low – thanks to the government’s failure to build homes and, ironically, the legacy of right to buy – the Tories bank on tenants believing this policy could be their only chance to buy a home, turning them into grateful Conservative voters. Second, it is great news for private landlords: in one London borough surveyed, around 40% of homes sold off under right to buy have ended up under the ownership of a private landlord, and one lucky beneficiary is the son of Margaret Thatcher’s housing minister, who owns more than 40 ex-council properties. And third, it is intended to provoke a backlash from Labour and the left that allows them to be painted as anti-aspiration, with columns such as these.

    • Deafening Silence: How Are Executive Branch Agencies Responding to Questions from the Press and Congress?

      Shortly after President Trump took office, there were reports that the new administration was placing restrictions on how employees of certain federal agencies could communicate with the public. More recently, it has been reported that federal agencies in the Trump administration have not been responding to congressional requests for information.

      According to the Washington Post, Democratic Senators have compiled a list of more than 200 questions that have gone unanswered, including routine inquiries about government programs as well as broader policy questions.

    • General election 2017: latest poll shows Tory lead cut to five points as Corbyn closes in

      Theresa May’s poll lead has fallen to five points a fortnight before the general election — the smallest margin over Labour since she came to power.

      A YouGov poll for The Times puts Labour on 38 per cent of the vote, up three points since the end of last week and the party’s best performance since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in September 2015.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Norway seeks new powers to police Facebook

      Kripos, Norway’s National Criminal Investigation Service, is reportedly examining the legal aspects of how police accounts could be given access to areas of Facebook that are not open to the public.

    • FCC Will Not Take Action Over Stephen Colbert’s Trump Remarks

      The FCC will not take any action in response to complaints over a May 1 broadcast of "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," in which the host quipped during his opening monologue that "the only thing [Trump's] mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c— holster."

    • Turkish President Demands Google Delist A Bunch Of Websites Comparing Him To Hitler

      Not helping these comparisons is Erdogan’s similar facial structure and his endless vindictive actions against anyone who’s hurt his feelings.

    • Comcast vendor sent cease-and-desist to operator of anti-Comcast website

      A Comcast vendor sent a cease-and-desist letter to the operator of “Comcastroturf.com,” a website that helps people find out if their names were used by bots that have flooded the Federal Communications Commission with anti-net neutrality comments.

      Fight for the Future, the advocacy group that operates the site, issued a press release accusing Comcast of censorship and posted an image of the letter that accuses the group of trademark infringement. The letter was sent by LookingGlass Cyber Security Center on behalf of its client, Comcast, and demands that Fight for the Future “take all steps necessary to see that the Domain Name [Comcastroturf.com] is assigned to Comcast.”

    • Someone Under Federal Indictment Impersonates A Journalist To File Bogus DMCA Notice

      Everyone’s favorite abusable statute is back at it. Anyone can file a DMCA takedown request. Not everyone gets theirs granted. But it’s a zero-cost, mostly-zero risk effort that takes about five minutes from start to finish. It’s no wonder it’s been abused by a handful of ex-cons and, very memorably, by a revenge porn purveyor who suddenly developed concerns about personal privacy.

    • How Singapore is abusing its laws on ‘hate speech’

      The traditional Chinese Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, situated near the city centre, is one of Singapore’s most visited. People flock to it daily in the belief that praying to the Goddess of Mercy brings good fortune. Many devotees also stop at the Hindu Sri Krishnan temple right next door to light joss sticks; it happens so often that the Hindu temple’s management have erected an altar to the Goddess of Mercy by their entrance.

      It’s a scene that’s symbolic of the religious diversity among the 5.7 million people of different races, religions, nationalities and backgrounds crammed onto a tiny island. In 2014, the Pew Research Centre ranked Singapore as the most religiously diverse country in the world.

      Making sure that everyone gets along presents unique challenges, and in Singapore the government and courts have a broad set of tools ostensibly fit for this purpose, including laws meant to prevent hate speech and even hurt feelings. However, simmering tension over how those laws are applied – or not – came to a boil in March when teenage blogger Amos Yee was given political asylum in the US after a court there ruled that he had been subjected to political persecution.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Foreign Firms Fret as China Implements New Cybersecurity Law

      China is bringing in a raft of new measures, giving the government unprecedented access to foreign companies’ technology, as it bolsters control of the collection and movement of data. Forcing companies to store information within the mainland has already led some to tap cloud computing providers with more local server capacity, a potential boon to homegrown Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. at the expense of Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

    • Brazilian Journalist Detained By UK Border Police For Reading A Book About ISIS

      That seems a perfectly reasonable thing for a journalist to be reading in order to understand the background to the Manchester attack, which Bercito had been sent to cover for his employer, the Folha de São Paulo newspaper. But it was apparently enough for the border police to pull him in for questioning. His passport and press credentials were taken away, and he waited for an hour before he was interviewed. The police officers then explained exactly why Bercito had been singled out for special attention: another passenger on his flight had felt “uncomfortable” about his choice of reading matter.

    • Fighting Corruption, Ukraine Starts to Judge Its Judges

      Ukrainian judge Artur Yemelianov has acknowledged in an online declaration that he owns a Breguet watch worth nearly a third of his annual salary and keeps piles of cash.

      On Jan. 12 he was suspended for three months after prosecutors opened a criminal case against him related to how commercial law cases were allocated to judges, according to statements by the Ukrainian High Council of Justice and Yemelianov himself.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Kill Google AMP Before It Kills the Web

      "Google’s AMP is bad – bad in a potentially web-destroying way. Google AMP is bad news for how the web is built, it’s bad news for publishers of credible online content, and it’s bad news for consumers of that content. Google AMP is only good for one party: Google. Google, and possibly, purveyors of fake news."

    • And now, a brief definition of the web

      As we gear up to argue about net neutrality, it’s worth remembering that ISPs aren’t the only gatekeepers on the internet. I don’t have anything against apps or proprietary services. I use them every day. Many of them look like the web and work like the web.

      But they’re not the web.

    • The FCC Doesn’t Care That Somebody’s Spamming Its Net Neutrality Proceeding With Fraudulent Comments

      And again, the FCC is turning a blind eye to this fraudulent behavior because actual humans overwhelmingly oppose what Pai and friends are up to. Recent analysis of the comments made so far to the FCC indicate the vast, vast majority of consumers — across all political ideologies — don’t want the agency gutting meaningful oversight of the already uncompetitive broadband sector. That could be problematic later this year, when Pai faces inevitable lawsuits over his rush to kill the protections despite no corresponding market necessity, and the broad public support for the rules.

    • Are we making the web too complicated?
    • If Net Neutrality Dies, Comcast Can Just Block A Protest Site Instead Of Sending A Bogus Cease-And-Desist

      It appears that a vendor working for Comcast sent a totally bullshit cease-and-desist letter regarding a pro-net neutrality site: Comcastroturf.com, created by our friends over at Fight for the Future. The Comcastroturf website was set up as a tool to see if someone filed bogus FCC comments in your name. As you probably recall, there is a bot that has been flooding the FCC comment site with bogus anti-net neutrality comments, filed in alphabetical order. Reporters contacted some of the individuals whose names appear on these comments, and they had no idea what it was about. People are still trying to track down who is actually responsible for the bogus comments, but Fight for the Future set up this neat site to let you check if your name was used by whoever is behind it.

    • Cable Companies Refuse To Put Their Breathless Love Of Net Neutrality Down In Writing

      Apparently, giant broadband providers don’t much want to put their sudden, mysterious love of net neutrality into writing. Last week, the FCC voted to begin killing net neutrality, opening the door to a 90-day comment period ahead of a broader rule-killing vote later this year. In the wake of the move, the same large ISPs that have spent a decade trying to kill meaningful regulatory oversight comically went out of their way to (falsely) claim that the killing of the rules doesn’t mean all that much — because these duopolies love net neutrality so much any hard rules simply aren’t necessary.

    • FCC Guards ‘Manhandle’ Reporter Just For Asking Questions At Net Neutrality Vote

      The FCC apparently doesn’t want to talk much about its plan to gut meaningful oversight of some of the least competitive companies in any American industry. Last week, we noted that the FCC had voted to begin the process of gutting popular net neutrality protections, ignoring the overwhelming public support for the rules registered at the FCC’s website. This notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) is followed by a 90-day public comment period (you can comment here) ahead of a finalizing vote to kill the consumer protections later this year.

  • DRM

    • BBC Store closes after just 18 months

      People who bought digital box sets from the BBC Store were sent an e-mail about the sudden closure. Those customers will be able to watch their purchases until November 1, but after that they will disappear into the DRM digital ether. Thankfully, customers will be offered a full refund, too. (It isn’t clear if the refund will be automatic on November 1, or if you’ll have to log in and manually ask for it.)

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Apple and Nokia bury the hatchet

      The companies said today they have settled all outstanding litigation and agreed to a patent license. While exact financial terms are confidential, Apple will be making an up-front cash payment to Nokia, followed by additional payments over the course of the agreement.

    • Trademarks

      • Trademark Has Come To This: Tinder Opposes Dating App With Only One Lonely Dude On Its Dating Roster

        By now, Tinder is probably in the common lexicon. The dating app has been fairly successful, boasting something like 50 million people using it and managing to make something like 12 million matches per day. It’s a household name, in other words, which is what makes it a bit strange to see the company bother to oppose a fairly silly trademark application by one guy who designed a dating app to get dating matches for exactly one person: himself.

      • Paypal says Pandora’s logo infringes, starts trademark battle

        Some heavy tech hitters have been in the spotlight lately for haggling over their trademarks. Ars recently reported about Google, which successfully defended its mark amid accusations that the term “google” is no longer eligible for legal protection because it has become too generic of a word for “searching the Web.”

    • Copyrights

      • Alleged KickassTorrents Founder Released on Bail

        Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of KickassTorrents, has been released from prison on bail. The Ukrainian will be able to await the extradition procedure as a relatively free man. He currently lives in a rented apartment where he was reunited with his wife and young son.

      • An interview with alleged KickassTorrents founder in his jail cell in Poland

        Until last week, Vaulin had been held at Warsaw-Bialoleka Investigative Detention Center with little contact to the outside world while the Polish government evaluated a US extradition request. Last Tuesday, two days before his release, The Verge sat down with Vaulin in his jail cell for a two-hour interview — the first since his arrest — to discuss his extradition fight and his life inside jail.


Links 24/5/2017: New RHEL Beta, SteamOS Updated

Posted in News Roundup at 3:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Nextcloud 12 Officially Released, Adds New Architecture for Massive Scalability

    Nextcloud informs Softpedia today about the official availability of the final release of Nextcloud 12, a major milestone of the self-hosting cloud server technology that introduces numerous new features and improvements.

    The biggest new feature of the Nextcloud 12 release appears to be the introduction of a new architecture for massive scalability, called Global Scale, which is a next-generation open-source technology for syncing and sharing files. Global Scale increases scalability from tens of thousands of users to hundreds of millions on a single instance, while helping universities and other institutions significantly reduce the costs of their existing large installations.

  • ReactOS 0.4.5 Open-Source Windows-Compatible OS Launches with Many Improvements

    ReactOS 0.4.5 is a maintenance update that adds numerous changes and improvements over the previous point release. The kernel has been updated in this version to improve the FreeLoader and UEFI booting, as well as the Plug and Play modules, adding support for more computers to boot ReactOS without issues.

  • Sprint Debuts Open Source NFV/SDN Platform Developed with Intel Labs

    AT&T has been the headliner in the carrier race to software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV). But Sprint is putting its own stamp on the space this week with its debut of a new open source SDN/NFV mobile core solution.

  • Google’s New Home for All Things Open Source Runs Deep

    Google is not only one of the biggest contributors to the open source community but also has a strong track record of delivering open source tools and platforms that give birth to robust technology ecosystems. Just witness the momentum that Android and Kubernetes now have. Recently, Google launched a new home for its open source projects, processes, and initiatives. The site runs deep and has several avenues worth investigating. Here is a tour and some highlights worth noting.

  • Making your first open source contribution
  • Simplify expense reports with Smart Receipts

    The app is called Smart Receipts, it’s licensed AGPL 3.0, and the source code is available on GitHub for Android and iOS.

  • How the TensorFlow team handles open source support

    Open-sourcing is more than throwing code over the wall and hoping somebody uses it. I knew this in theory, but being part of the TensorFlow team at Google has opened my eyes to how many different elements you need to build a community around a piece of software.

  • IRC for the 21st Century: Introducing Riot

    Internet relay chat (IRC) is one of the oldest chat protocols around and still popular in many open source communities. IRC’s best strengths are as a decentralized and open communication method, making it easy for anyone to participate by running a network of their own. There are also a variety of clients and bots available for IRC.

  • Chef expands its cloud and container menu

    Chef, a leading DevOps company, announced at ChefConf 2017 that it was adding new capabilities to it flagship Continous Automation/DevOps program, Chef Automate. This enables enterprises to transition from server- and virtual machine- (VM) based IT systems to cloud-native and container-first environments with consistent automation and DevOps practices.

  • Nextcloud 12: The bigger, better, in-house small business cloud

    It’s not even been a year since Frank Karlitschek, co-founder and former CTO of ownCloud, forked ownCloud into Nextcloud. Since then, this do-it-yourself, open-source Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud has become increasingly popular. Now, its latest version, Nextcloud 12, the program is adding more Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) features.

  • The Spirit of Open Source
  • What happened to Mastodon after its moment in the spotlight?

    More than a month later, the buzz over Mastodon has quieted. But though it may not be making headlines, the service continues to grow.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla: One Step Closer to a Closed Internet

        We’re deeply disheartened. Today’s FCC vote to repeal and replace net neutrality protections brings us one step closer to a closed internet. Although it is sometimes hard to describe the “real” impacts of these decisions, this one is easy: this decision leads to an internet that benefits Internet Service Providers (ISPs), not users, and erodes free speech, competition, innovation and user choice.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • The eternal battle for OpenStack’s soul will conclude in three years. Again

      After six years as a formal project, OpenStack has survived numerous raids and famines and now finds itself in a not-too-weird space of being boring, on-premises infrastructure. That is, “boring” in the good way of focusing on what users want and fixing existing problems, only chasing shiny objects – cough, PaaS, cough, containers, cough, orchestration – as much as needed.

  • Databases

    • With version 2.0, Crate.io’s database tools put an emphasis on IoT

      Crate.io, the winner of our Disrupt Europe 2014 Battlefield, is launching version 2.0 of its CrateDB database today. The tool, which is available in both an open source and enterprise version, started out as a general-purpose but highly scalable SQL database. Over time, though, the team found that many of its customers were using the service for managing their machine data and, unsurprisingly, decided to focus its efforts on better supporting those clients.

    • NewSQL CockroachDB Ready for Prime Time

      There’s a new open source database on the block. Although it has a name that will most likely make you cringe for the first dozen or so times you hear it — CockroachDB — I have a feeling that if it isn’t already on your radar, it will be soon.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice leverages Google’s OSS-Fuzz to improve quality of office suite
    • LibreOffice leverages Google’s OSS-Fuzz to improve quality of office suite

      For the last five months, The Document Foundation has made use of OSS-Fuzz, Google’s effort to make open source software more secure and stable, to further improve the quality and reliability of LibreOffice’s source code. Developers have used the continuous and automated fuzzing process, which often catches issues just hours after they appear in the upstream code repository, to solve bugs – and potential security issues – before the next binary release.LibreOffice is the first free office suite in the marketplace to leverage Google’s OSS-Fuzz. The service, which is associated with other source code scanning tools such as Coverity, has been integrated into LibreOffice’s security processes – under Red Hat’s leadership – to significantly improve the quality of the source code.

    • Please participate in a survey about page margins

      Margins specify the amount of space to leave between the edges of the page and the document text. You can define it for the left/inner, right/outer, top and bottom side individually. Page margins are defined by default at 0.79″ respectively 2cm on each side in LibreOffice Writer (located under Format > Page). These default values are under close scrutiny now.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD quarterly status report
    • openbsd changes of note 622
    • Book Review: Relayd and Httpd Mastery

      Overall an excellent book which is typical Michael W Lucas writing style. Easy to follow, clear cut instructions, and tons of new stuff to learn. If one must use OpenBSD or FreeBSD, then the chances are high that one will stick with the defaults that come with OpenBSD. No need to use fat Apache, or Nginx/Lighttpd web server especially when httpd and relayd audited for security by OpenBSD core team.


  • Public Services/Government

    • Sharing America’s code

      Since Salehi joined the CIO team in 2015, the government has made great strides toward open sourcing its code. The Federal Source Code Policy, released in August 2016, was the first U.S. government policy to support open source across the government.

    • Galicia continues promotion of free software

      The government of the autonomous region of Galicia (Spain) will continue to encourage the use of free and open source software solutions in the public and private sector. This week, the government published the ‘Free Software Plan 2017’, outlining 110 actions.

      In its ‘Plan de acción software libre 2017’, Galicia announces new initiatives to promote sharing and reuse of ICT solutions. The government is to share new software solutions, but will also emphasise the reuse of existing tools, pointing to Mancomún, the region’s software repository, the catalogue maintained by the Spanish central government’s Centre for Technology Transfer, and to the European Commission’s Joinup eGovernment portal.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • How Socrates taught me to talk to developers

      The University of Chicago Law School, where Barack Obama taught constitutional law until making a slight career change, describes the Socratic method as an inquiry practice based on “asking continual questions until a contradiction was exposed, thus proving the fallacy of the initial assumption.” A catchier description, offered by this quick how-to for using the method with children, is “clarify, synthesize, restate.”

    • Hugo vs. Jekyll: Comparing the leading static website generators

      Unless your spirit animal is Emily Dickinson, when you make a thing, you want to share it with the world. Sharing your work means that you need a website. Of course, you could simply partake in digital sharecropping and use any of the various social media sites to get your work in front of an audience. There sure are plenty to choose from… and not just “conventional” social media sites. With places like Artstation, Flickr, Soundcloud, and Wattpad, there’s an outlet for you, whatever your medium.

    • 5 reasons the D programming language is a great choice for development

      It’s not uncommon to find yourself in a situation where you have an idea and you want to implement it in code exactly the way you are thinking about it in your mind. However, sometimes you have to compromise the idea to fit the code, instead of modeling the code to fit the idea. D supports several programming paradigms, including functional style, imperative, object oriented, metaprogramming, and concurrent (actor model), all harmoniously integrated. You have the option to choose whichever paradigm is convenient for modeling code to fit your idea.

    • Sick of Java and C++? Google pours a cup o’ Kotlin for Android devs
    • Android Studio 3.0 Canary 1
    • Jaded by Java? Android now supports Kotlin programming language
    • Rcpp 0.12.11: Loads of goodies

      The elevent update in the 0.12.* series of Rcpp landed on CRAN yesterday following the initial upload on the weekend, and the Debian package and Windows binaries should follow as usual. The 0.12.11 release follows the 0.12.0 release from late July, the 0.12.1 release in September, the 0.12.2 release in November, the 0.12.3 release in January, the 0.12.4 release in March, the 0.12.5 release in May, the 0.12.6 release in July, the 0.12.7 release in September, the 0.12.8 release in November, the 0.12.9 release in January, and the 0.12.10.release in March — making it the fifteenth release at the steady and predictable bi-montly release frequency.

    • Master Haskell Programming with Free Books

      Haskell is a standardized, general-purpose, polymorphically statically typed, lazy, purely functional language, very different from many programming languages. Recent innovations include static polymorphic typing, higher-order functions, user-definable algebraic data types, a module system, and more. It has built-in concurrency and parallelism, debuggers, profilers, rich libraries and an active community, with approximately 5,400 third-party open source libraries and tools.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • [Older] Manifesto: Rules for standards-makers

      If we work together on a project based on open tech, these are the principles I will try to stick to. I wanted to put all this in one place, so I can pass it along to future software developers.


  • The White House will meet with tech execs for advice on giving the government a digital upgrade

    Announced in April, the American Technology Council is comprised of federal officials who oversee technology-focused agencies, and it’s officially led by Chris Liddell, a White House aide who previously served as the chief financial officer at Microsoft. The initiative itself lives under the umbrella of Kushner’s Office of American Innovation, which aspires to cure longtime, unresolved government ills, such as the poor, aging technology in use at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

  • What is dead may never die: a new version of OS/2 just arrived

    An outfit called Arca Noae has released a new version of IBM’s venerable OS/2 operating system, named ArcaOS 5.0.

    The Register understands that Arca Noae has a licence from IBM to do a distribution of OS/2, the OS that Big Blue pitched against Windows 95 back in the day. OS/2′s fourth release was widely regarded as technically superior to Windows 95 and Windows NT but didn’t catch on because of a clunkier GUI and Microsoft’s hardball licensing tactics that made it commercially suicidal for PC-makers to offer the OS.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • WikiLeaks Reveals ‘Athena’ CIA Spying Program Targeting All Versions of Windows [iophk: "thus the active smear campaign againse Assange within tech circles"]

      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.

    • How To Avoid Future WannaCry Style Ransomware Attacks

      Critical tasks are often trusted to Linux or similar operating systems (Unix, BSD, etc.) because of reliability and security. When efficiency is required, Linux is often tapped because it can be deployed in a very efficient manner. Linux acts internally like the prison, not the food court. The system itself is constantly monitored open source code, and most of what runs on it is openly monitored as well. Software is usually distributed via secure repositories. The system is free and easily updated, there is no such thing as a pirated copy of Linux. There is a regular schedule of updates, they come out every Sunday.

    • WannaCry is a Cry for VEP Reform

      This weekend, a vulnerability in some versions of the Windows operating system resulted in the biggest cybersecurity attack in years. The so-called “WannaCry” malware relied on at least one exploit included in the latest Shadow Brokers release. As we have repeated, attacks like this are a clarion call for reform to the government’s Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP).

    • Will Linux protect you from ransomware attacks?

      Ransomware attacks are all the rage these days among hackers, and many people are worried about becoming victims. Are Linux users secure against such attacks?

      This topic came up recently in a thread on the Linux subreddit, and the folks there had some interesting thoughts to share about Linux and ransomware attacks.

    • Linux Ransomware

      A few people have asked me over the past week whether or not Linux is susceptible to ransomware attacks. While the answer is fairly straight forward, let’s go over a couple things here first.

    • Improving Internet Security through Vulnerability Disclosure

      We support the PATCH Act because it aims to codify and make the existing Vulnerabilities Equities Process more transparent. The Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP) is the U.S. government’s process for reviewing and coordinating the disclosure of new vulnerabilities learns about.

    • ​Gmail Docs phishing attack: Google targets devs with tighter web app ID checks

      Google is slowing down the process for publishing web applications to prevent a repeat of the phishing attack that abused users’ trust in its sign-in system with a fake Google Docs app.

      Google has warned web app developers that new rules and an additional risk assessment may add “some friction” to the process of publishing apps.

    • Windows 7, not XP, was the reason last week’s WCry worm spread so widely [iophk: "yet look at the talking points against XP that the tech community spread"]

      Eight days ago, the WCry ransomware worm attacked more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries. The outbreak prompted infected hospitals to turn away patients and shut down computers in banks and telecoms. Now that researchers have had time to analyze the self-replicating attack, they’re learning details that shed new and sometimes surprising light on the world’s biggest ransomware attack.


      Chief among the revelations: more than 97 percent of infections hit computers running Windows 7, according to attacks seen by antivirus provider Kaspersky Lab. By contrast, infected Windows XP machines were practically non-existent, and those XP PCs that were compromised were likely manually infected by their owners for testing purposes. That’s according to Costin Raiu, director of Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis Team, who spoke to Ars.

    • Companies use kidnap insurance to guard against ransomware attacks
    • NSA Was Concerned About Power Of Windows Exploit Long Before It Was Leaked
    • CIA’s Windows XP to Windows 10 malware: WikiLeaks reveals Athena
    • Newly Found Malware Uses 7 NSA Hacking Tools, Where WannaCry Uses 2
    • New SMB Worm Uses Seven NSA Hacking Tools. WannaCry Used Just Two

      Researchers have detected a new worm that is spreading via SMB, but unlike the worm component of the WannaCry ransomware, this one is using seven NSA tools instead of two.

      The worm’s existence first came to light on Wednesday, after it infected the SMB honeypot of Miroslav Stampar, member of the Croatian Government CERT, and creator of the sqlmap tool used for detecting and exploiting SQL injection flaws.

    • Fight ransomware by running Windows in Linux as a virtual machine

      The cool thing about all this virtual storage stuff is that the entire Windows application–files, applications, the works–are contained in one file. That file can easily be backed up, archived, encrypted and stored on the cloud, copied hundreds of times, or deleted. VirtualBox can even take snapshots of the virtual drive within the application, freeing you from any hassle of backing up virtual storage files yourself.

    • WannaCry ransomware hit Windows 7 the hardest [iophk: “IIRC Kaspersky found it to be 97%”

      In a survey for Reuters, BitSight found that 67 per cent of infected PCs it infected were running Windows 7, despite the OS being installed on fewer than half of Windows PCs worldwide.

    • Windows 10 Enterprise appears to be blatantly ignoring privacy group settings

      All connections except Updates to Microsoft blocked. Still connects to a range of ad servers. Yes advertising servers. Burnett confirms that all these calls are made by Windows 10, not by any apps.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • HackerOne experience with Weblate

      Weblate has started to use HackerOne Community Edition some time ago and I think it’s good to share my experience with that. Do you have open source project and want to get more attention of security community? This post will answer how it looks from perspective of pretty small project.

      I’ve applied with Weblate to HackerOne Community Edition by end of March and it was approved early in April. Based on their recommendations I’ve started in invite only mode, but that really didn’t bring much attention (exactly none reports), so I’ve decided to go public.

    • Who Are the Shadow Brokers?

      In 2013, a mysterious group of hackers that calls itself the Shadow Brokers stole a few disks full of National Security Agency secrets. Since last summer, they’ve been dumping these secrets on the internet. They have publicly embarrassed the NSA and damaged its intelligence-gathering capabilities, while at the same time have put sophisticated cyberweapons in the hands of anyone who wants them. They have exposed major vulnerabilities in Cisco routers, Microsoft Windows, and Linux mail servers, forcing those companies and their customers to scramble. And they gave the authors of the WannaCry ransomware the exploit they needed to infect hundreds of thousands of computer worldwide this month.

      After the WannaCry outbreak, the Shadow Brokers threatened to release more NSA secrets every month, giving cybercriminals and other governments worldwide even more exploits and hacking tools.

    • Why Akamai Supports Let’s Encrypt

      The Let’s Encrypt project has re-shaped the market for SSL/TLS certificates, providing millions of free security certificate to organization around the world.

      Among the many backers of Let’s Encrypt is content delivery network platform provider Akamai. In a video interview with eSecurityPlanet, Andy Ellis, Chief Security Officer at Akamai, explains why Let’s Encrypt matters and his view on the effort’s real value.

    • Security in Serverless: What Gets Better, What Gets Worse?
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Indonesia rejects claims regarding West Papua

      The statement condemned Indonesian human rights violations in Papua and called for a resolution supporting the right of West Papuan political self-determination.

      However, Indonesia’s embassy in New Zealand says the ACP agreed in April that the group would not cover the issue of Papua in future meetings.

    • China killed CIA sources, hobbled US spying from 2010 to 2012: Reports

      Investigators remain divided over whether there was a spy within the Central Intelligence Agency who betrayed the sources or whether the Chinese hacked {sic} the CIA’s covert communications system, the newspaper reported, citing current and former US officials.

      The Chinese killed at least a dozen people providing information to the CIA from 2010 through 2012, dismantling a network that was years in the making, the newspaper reported.

    • Duterte declares martial law in southern Philippines

      Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law Tuesday in the southern region of Mindanao, after deadly clashes between security forces and Islamic State group-linked militants in a major city there.

      The announcement, made by his spokesman at a press conference in Moscow where Duterte was on an official visit, fulfills an often-repeated warning by the president that he would enforce military rule to quell security threats.

    • Don’t Let ISIS Shape The News

      It’s 2017, and the world is shaken by another depraved mass murder, carried out and claimed in the name of ISIS. This time, it is children who are targeted. And just like the countless other times before, the mass media coverage seems stuck on a loop: the same few videos of victims panicking, anguished parents waiting for their children, and distraught mothers sobbing dominate our screens, playing again and again and again and again.

      ISIS has a media strategy, and unfortunately, it is aimed exactly at generating this type of coverage. In fact, this media strategy is instinctively shared with other sensational mass killers — school shooters, white-supremacist terrorists, and others. They crave the distorted infamy they hope they will get after their death; they carefully prepare manifestos they hope will be published; they record videos they hope will be played on loop on cable TV.

    • Trump Praised Philippines President Duterte For Drug War That Has Killed 9,000 People

      President Donald Trump opened a brief April phone call with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte by commending the strongman’s bloody war on drugs, according to a transcript obtained by The Washington Post and the The Intercept.

      “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” said Trump. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”

    • Trump Called Rodrigo Duterte to Congratulate Him on His Murderous Drug War: “You Are Doing an Amazing Job”

      In a phone call from the White House late last month, U.S. President Donald Trump heaped praise on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, one of the world’s most murderous heads of state, for doing what Trump called an “unbelievable job” in his war on drugs. Trump offered an unqualified endorsement of Duterte’s bloody extermination campaign against suspected drug dealers and users, which has included open calls for extrajudicial murders and promises of pardons and immunity for the killers.

      “You are a good man,” Trump told Duterte, according to an official transcript of the April 29 call produced by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and obtained by The Intercept. “Keep up the good work,” Trump told Duterte. “You are doing an amazing job.”

    • Duterte on martial law: ‘I’d be harsh’

      President Rodrigo Duterte did not say how long martial law will be in effect in Mindanao, but he did warn he will be “harsh” in dealing with terrorists.

      Duterte, who is on his way to the Philippines after cutting his official visit in Russia, said he will be happy if it is over within a month, but is also not hesitant to keep it for a year.

    • US leak of Manchester attacker’s name strikes new blow to intelligence sharing

      American officials have been criticised for leaking the identity of the Manchester bomber before British police officially named him.

      Salman Abedi was identified in media reports that attributed “US officials” as the source even as their British counterparts remained tight-lipped.

    • ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’: Manchester bombing rouses British stiff upper lip

      While addressing her country following the attack, British Prime Minister Theresa May exhibited hints of the Victorian stoicism and “stiff upper lip” that’s traditionally been attributed to the British people during times of hardship. With calm and steady diction, she noted that this is not the first time terrorism has shaken Manchester.

    • Someone leaked Donald Trump’s phone call to Rodrigo Duterte, and it’s the stuff of madmen

      Donald Trump has clashed with the respected leaders of numerous American allies, but he seems to get along just fine with the notoriously corrupt and criminal leaders of other nations. But as much praise as Trump has already heaped Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, a mass murderer, it turns out Trump has said even nicer things to him in private. We know this, because someone leaked the transcript of their phone conversation.


      On the other hand, madman Trump told madman Duterte that he thinks North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is a “madman with nuclear weapons,” a rare correct assessment of a foreign leader from the normally oblivious Trump. The trouble: Donald Trump is also a madman with nuclear weapons.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Seth Rich murder conspiracy theories re-emerge as Kim Dotcom weighs in

      On Sunday, speculation that the young DNC staffer was involved in the leaks was promoted by internet millionaire and the embattled founder of Megaupload, Kim Dotcom. Mr Dotcom tweeted that Mr Rich was the leaker and that he himself was also involved, promising to issue a statement after meeting with his lawyers this week.

    • Human Rights Lawyer: Sweden Dropping Investigation of WikiLeaks’ Assange is “Long Overdue Decision” [iophk: "agitators and chumps intentionally mistranslate the question as "rape""]

      Swedish prosecutors have dropped an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Assange has denied the allegations, which he calls a pretext for his ultimate extradition to the U.S. to face prosecution under the Espionage Act. Since 2012, Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. It’s not clear whether Assange will emerge any time soon. “This is a small victory, but in this long road to free Julian Assange and all the people working for WikiLeaks,” says our guest Renata Avila, a Courage Foundation trustee and human rights lawyer. “But it will finally help us lawyers to focus on the main issue, which is the persecution, the political persecution, and imminent prosecution of Julian Assange in the United States.”

    • Getting Julian Assange: The Untold Story

      The hunt for the Wikileaks founder has been a brutal and corrupt assault on freedom of speech from the beginning, writes John Pilger.

      Julian Assange has been vindicated because the Swedish case against him was corrupt. The prosecutor, Marianne Ny, obstructed justice and should be prosecuted. Her obsession with Assange not only embarrassed her colleagues and the judiciary but exposed the Swedish state’s collusion with the United States in its crimes of war and “rendition”.

    • Can Australia Please Stop Being Washington’s Bitch And Help Assange Now?

      The Wall Street Journal has published an editorial titled “The U.S. Can Get Julian Assange” and subtitled “Avoid extradition and use secret services to airlift him to stand trial in America.” This horrifying article, run by one of America’s major mainstream publications, details how US special forces could technically storm the embassy of a sovereign nation, kidnap an Australian journalist who has broken no laws, and drag him back to the States in a way that the editorial’s author claims has legal precedent in America. The mass media propaganda machine of a government that tortures whistleblowers is openly advocating kidnapping an Australian citizen, from an Ecuadorian embassy, in the UK, in order to stop him from traveling to Ecuador. Because he helped show the American people the truth about their government.

    • The Man Who Made the Mistake of Trying to Help Wikileaks

      In his first interview, former US government lab worker Jason Scott Katz tells Motherboard about how trying to decrypt one file led to an FBI raid, losing his job, moving to Iceland, and founding the Pirate Party there.

    • Joe Lieberman atop FBI would be a First Amendment disaster

      Former Senator Joe Lieberman is reportedly President Trump’s leading choice to replace the recently-fired James Comey as FBI director. If you’re a person who values free speech and press freedom rights, it’s hard to imagine a worse pick for FBI director than Lieberman.

      It was only a week ago we learned that Trump allegedly urged Comey in a private meeting to prosecute reporters for publishing classified information. So one of the most vital issues for any confirmation hearing will be whether the next FBI director will respect journalists’ right to report on the government. You don’t have to look far to understand how dangerous an FBI Director Lieberman would be to the journalism profession.

      In 2010, when WikiLeaks, in conjunction with The New York Times, The Guardian, and other papers, started publishing secret State Department cables, then-Senator Lieberman was Congress’s leading advocate for prosecuting the publishers of the cables—First Amendment be damned. At the time, he loudly called for the prosecution of WikiLeaks, saying, “I don’t understand why that hasn’t happened yet. … I think it’s the most serious violation of the Espionage Act in our history, and the consequences globally that have occurred.”

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Will Donald Trump Be Impeached?

      So let’s talk about impeachment. Although if we’re being more precise, impeachment doesn’t remove a president from office; conviction on impeachment charges does.

    • What Explains Trump’s Sharp About-Face on Saudi Arabia?

      There are many troubling aspects of Donald Trump’s still-young presidency, but his warm embrace of Riyadh this weekend might be the most troubling of all.

    • How social media filter bubbles and algorithms influence the election

      "Many of us wish we could study Facebook," said Prof Philip Howard, of the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, "but we can’t, because they really don’t share anything." Howard is leading a team of researchers studying "computational propaganda" at the university, attempting to shine a light on the ways automated accounts are used to alter debate online.

    • Facebook Shares Rules for Censoring Violence, Sex, Guardian Says[iophk: "and more"]

      The moderators have about 10 seconds to decide on whether to remove material from the site, according to The Guardian.

    • Facebook content moderation guidelines leaked

      The Guardian published the Facebook files on Sunday night. It reported some disturbing findings about what can and can’t be moderated on Facebook, after the newspaper was passed more than 100 internal training manuals that included spreadsheets and flowcharts on how the Mark Zuckerberg-run company deals with hate speech, violence, self-harm, and a whole range of other issues.

    • ‘Trump has declared war’: journalists denounce any attack on press freedom

      President Donald Trump’s apparent suggestion that the FBI should "consider putting reporters in prison" has been decried as a dangerous new assault on press freedom and prompted a call to action by American journalists who have been jailed in the US for their work.

    • Psychologists say calling Donald Trump a kid is an insult to kids

      Finally, Mr Brooks claimed Mr Trump had not developed a "theory of mind", the ability to understand what someone else is thinking.

      Mr Arnett and Ms Jensen, however, said it was unfair to attribute all of these qualities to children.


      "It is time to call it out for what it is: evil."

    • Congressman threatened with lynching after calling for Trump’s impeachment
    • Twitter founder apologises for ‘helping make Donald Trump President’

      In an interview with the New York Times, Evan Williams was asked about remarks made by Mr Trump in March when he said: "I think maybe I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Twitter."

    • Saudi Arabia readies the halal steak and ketchup ahead of Trump’s first trip abroad
    • Donald Trump Committed Another Impeachable Offense This Week
    • Did the DNC Help Hillary Clinton Beat Bernie Sanders? Fraud Lawsuit Takes Aim at Leadership

      What is the role of the Democratic National Committee in presidential elections? Is it to sway the vote toward a safe, solid and respected insider who will supposedly drive the party straight into the White House, or is it to provide voters the ultimate decision as to which campaign will take the ballot, without any bias or partiality?

      That is the question at the heart of a class-action lawsuit charging the Democratic National Committee with fraud, deceptive conduct and negligent misrepresentation over the course of the 2016 primaries, in which Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was defeated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic ticket. Jared Beck, a Harvard law expert and one of the attorneys backing the suit, has demanded the DNC repay its donors and Sanders supporters for contributions made throughout the election, citing a misappropriation of public funds.

    • ‘Who’s a pretty princess now, b*tches’: Internet ridicules Trump for ‘curtsy’ before Saudi king

      President Donald Trump first trip overseas has — so far –gone seamlessly if one disregards the chaos he left at home with multiple bombshells dropped by the Washington Post and the New York Times regarding White House doings.

      However, as the world awaits Trump’s speech on Islam, he was the recipient of a great deal of mockery on Twitter for a half-curtsy he bestowed upon the king of Saudi Arabia.

    • Melania Trump slaps away husband’s short, vulgar fingers

      First Lady Melania Trump swatting away president Donald Trump’s hand on the tarmac in Israel Video of the couple arriving at an airport in Israel shows President Donald Trump reaching out to hold his wife’s hand. But Melania, who was apparently not interested in touching her husband at that moment, appears to slap the president’s hand.

    • Jared Kushner’s Other Real Estate Empire

      The townhouse on High Seas Court in the Cove Village development, in the Baltimore suburb of Essex, was not exactly the Cape Cod retreat that its address implied: It was a small unit looking onto a parking lot, the windows of its two bedrooms so high and narrow that a child would have had to stand on a chair to see out of them. But to Kamiia Warren, who moved into the townhouse in 2004, it was a refuge, and a far cry from the East Baltimore neighborhood where she grew up. “I mean, there were bunny rabbits all hopping around,” she told me recently.

      In the townhouse next door lived an older woman with whom Warren became friendly, even doing her grocery shopping once in a while. But over the course of a few months, the woman started acting strangely. She began accosting Warren’s visitors. She shouted through the walls during the day. And at night she banged on the wall, right where Warren kept the bassinet in which her third child slept, waking him up.

    • Homeland Security Hires Anti-Islam Activist Katharine Gorka as Trump Makes Overtures to Muslim States

      Donald Trump made overtures toward the Islamic world during his visit to Saudi Arabia, softening his outward stance on Islam, but his administration recently appointed a recognized anti-Muslim campaigner.

      Katharine Gorka, a controversial national security analyst and anti-Muslim activist, has been named as an “adviser” to the Department of Homeland Security’s policy office, after serving on President Trump’s transition team for the department. During Barack Obama’s presidency, Gorka extensively criticized DHS for teaching employees — wrongly, in her view — that Islam is a religion of peace.

      Gorka’s appointment is listed in documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the watchdog group American Oversight. Her title, as of April 7, is listed as adviser to the department’s office of policy. The documents also list a previous “temporary transitional” appointment in the chief of staff’s office, with a pay grade listed as GS-15, the highest standard pay for a federal civil servant, indicating a salary of at least $8,600 a month.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • 1Password’s new travel mode locks you out of your accounts while you’re travelling and crossing borders
    • Ministers to enforce new powers to compel tech giants to hand over encrypted data

      MINISTERS are to enforce striking new powers to compel tech giants to hand over encrypted data to terror investigators within weeks.

      The government will ask Parliament to nod through the new orders – dubbed Technical Capability Notices – as soon as the election is over, The Sun has learned.

    • Netgear Now Collects Router ‘Analytics Data’ — Here’s How to Disable It

      Netgear last week pushed out a firmware update for its wireless router model NightHawk R7000 with a remote data collection feature that collects router’s analytics data and sends it to the company’s server.

      For now, the company has rolled out the firmware update for its NightHawk R7000, but probably other router models would receive the update in upcoming days.

    • NSA takes one-two punch to the face

      The US National Security Agency has been hit by two legal losses that may put the last part of its controversial spying program on US citizens under threat.

      In one case, brought by customers of AT&T and run by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the NSA was ordered [PDF] to provide relevant evidence that would prove or disprove that consumer’s communications had been tapped – a legal first.

      In the second case, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an appeals court reversed [PDF] the earlier dismissal of a lawsuit and allowed Wikimedia to continue in its fight to sue the NSA for violating the First and Fourth Amendments.

      Both cases tackle the same issue: the use of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act to carry out “upstream” interception of internet traffic. In effect, the NSA ordered telecom companies to give them permanent access to the online activities of millions of US citizens by tapping the internet’s backbone.

    • ICE Using Stingrays To Track Down Immigrants Because Of Course It Is

      As information about police use of cell tower spoofers began leaking out, those who had kept the public (including defendants, judges, and even some prosecutors) out of the loop began defending their use of domesticated military technology. They said pay no attention to the possible civil liberties violations. Just think of all the good they’re doing. They promised Stingrays would only be used on the worst of the worst, and only when time was of the essence: terrorists, murderers, kidnappers, etc.

      But then even more Stingray documents made their way into the public domain. These showed the devices were deployed in bog-standard drug investigations or, worse, used just because agencies had them. This perhaps reached its nadir when a police department fired up its Stingray to hunt down someone who had stolen less than $60 worth of fast food. To make matters worse, the Stingray failed to track down the alleged thief.

    • Wikipedia can pursue NSA surveillance lawsuit: U.S. appeals court

      A federal appeals court on Tuesday revived a Wikipedia lawsuit that challenges a U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) program of mass online surveillance, and claims that the government unconstitutionally invades people’s privacy rights.

      By a 3-0 vote, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, had a legal right to challenge the government’s Upstream surveillance program.

      The decision could make it easier for people to learn whether authorities have spied on them through Upstream, which involves bulk searches of international communications within the internet’s backbone of cables, switches and routers.

    • Detailed medical records of 61 million Italian citizens to be given to IBM for its "cognitive computing" system Watson

      In return for that $150 million investment, IBM will receive the medical records of 61 million Italians in what seems to be their entirety. According to Barbacetto (original in Italian), the information provided will include: demographic data; all medical conditions, diagnoses, and their treatment; emergency and other hospital visits, including dates and times; prescriptions and their costs; genomic data and information about about any cancers; and much else besides.

      This information will be supplied in a supposedly anonymous form, with obvious personal indicators removed. However, it has been known for decades that detailed medical records can never be considered truly anonymous. [...]

    • The future of profiling

      Even worse, profiling and similar techniques are increasingly used not just to classify and understand people, but also to make decisions that have far-reaching consequences, from credit to housing, welfare and employment.

    • NSA Brute-Force Keysearch Machine

      Unfortunately, the Intercept decided not to publish most of the document, so all of those people with “a Ph.D. in a related field” can’t read and understand WindsorGreen’s capabilities. What sorts of key lengths can the machine brute force? Is it optimized for symmetric or asymmetric cryptanalysis? Random brute force or dictionary attacks? We have no idea.

    • GOP lawmaker who helped kill ISP privacy rules proposes new privacy rules

      There’s one big caveat: Blackburn’s bill would prevent individual states and municipalities from imposing laws that are stricter than the proposed federal standard.

    • BostonGlobe.com disables articles when your browser’s in private mode

      Disabling your browser’s local storage of data, even if you’re not technically using "incognito" mode, will also trigger the anti-private mode message on the Globe website. But you can disable third-party cookies and still view Globe articles in regular mode, as long as you allow the websites you visit to store data.

    • And now, under-the-skin RFID tags replace paper train tickets in Europe

      The Swedish State Railways has decided to accept under-the-skin RFID tag implants for ticket purchases, arguing it enhances ticketless travel better than having your ticket in your mobile. Actually, they didn’t argue that at all. They just said “we’re digital” and “it works” as if that would justify the rest.

    • Trump’s cybersecurity order delivers nothing but more surveillance

      I think you can see why it’s more than annoying that some of my colleagues saw the EO and thought it was a good thing. It’s not. It’s about 500 steps backward from where we were last year, with a layer of malfeasant opportunism on top.

      And we weren’t exactly in a great place last year with our government coming to grips with our nation’s cybersecurity, either.

    • No prison for judge who offered beer to FBI agent for wife’s texts

      A North Carolina judge now stripped of his robe has been sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors. Arnold Ogden Jones had pleaded guilty to charges that he tried to bribe an FBI official with beer and cash to get his wife’s text messages when he was a Wayne County judge in 2015.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Senators ask FCC why reporter was "manhandled" after net neutrality vote

      Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) sent a letter to Pai Friday, one day after CQ Roll Call reporter John Donnelly accused FCC guards of forcing him out of the building when he was trying to talk to Pai and Commissioner Michael O’Rielly.

    • Sorry, you can’t protest security screening by getting naked for the TSA

      Brennan’s attorney, Michael Rose of Portland, disagreed with the decision. "Mr. Brennan was simply exercising his First Amendment right to protest the unnecessarily intrusive search by the TSA agents, who responded much like a colony of ants whose hill was kicked over," he told Ars in an e-mail. "Their untoward reaction to his protest was the sole cause of any ‘interference’ with the smooth operations at PDX, which was the basis for the fine."

    • To Trump, Human Rights Concerns Are Often a Barrier to Trade

      The latest human rights report produced by Mr. Tillerson’s own department mentions Saudi Arabia’s "restrictions on universal rights, such as freedom of expression, including on the internet, and the freedoms of assembly, association, movement, and religion," as well as the country’s "pervasive gender discrimination." Raif Badawi, a writer, has been in prison since 2012 after starting a blog called Free Saudi Liberals Network.

    • Laptop ban due to ISIS’ x-ray machine theft: claim

      Corbett wrote that there was some logic to the ban since lithium batters were opaque to X-rays and a metal box, which was the same size as a battery and filled with explosives, would look the same.

      But, he said, there were problems with the approach. For one, anyone who planned to use a laptop to conceal a bomb would simply use something else once the ban was in place. Secondly, by forcing all the batteries (inside devices) to be stored in the hold, the chance of fires was increased.

      And thirdly, he wrote, the ban was not economically viable as it meant the loss of millions of hours of productivity.

    • Two senators want answers from the FCC over its ‘manhandling’ of a reporter

      "Yesterday’s incident at the FCC is not an isolated one and seems to be a part of a larger pattern of hostility towards the press characteristic of this Administration," they wrote. The pair requested a response by Friday, May 26th, asking for Pai’s description of the event and the FCC’s security policies, an explanation for the security guard’s actions, and an assurance that such incidents "will not happen again."

    • CIA Documents Expose the Failed Torture Methods Used on Guantanamo’s Most Famous Detainee

      It is early on in Abu Zubaydah’s time at a CIA black site. He insists to his interrogators that he has no additional information on jihadist operations planned against the US, but his captor won’t stop slapping him. Eventually a hood is placed over Zubaydah’s head and he is placed into a confinement box by unseen security officers. He is told this is his new home until he’s prepared to provide information on operations against the US.

    • China To Require Drone Owners To Register, Just As Similar US Requirements Are Struck Down

      The South China Morning Post has a story about a new requirement for drone owners in China to register with the country’s civilian aviation regulator starting next month. So is this yet another example of the Chinese authorities clamping down on a potentially subversive new technology by ensuring that drone use can be tracked?

    • Court ruling nullifies US requirement that hobbyists register drones

      A federal appeals court on Friday struck down a regulation requiring the public to register drones. The US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that the Federal Aviation Administration did not have the authority to regulate so-called “model aircraft.”

    • Trump Allegedly Wants FBI To Look Into Locking Up Journalists Who Publish Leaks

      It’s been another busy week for our president. Following on the heels of his revelation that he fired FBI Director James Comey over the ongoing Russian ties investigation (and following on the heels of Trump’s tweeted threat about secret recordings of conversations with Comey), the FBI’s acting director said the investigation is still ongoing, a special counsel was picked to oversee the investigation, and people close to Comey hinted the FBI might have some recordings of its own that undercut the president’s narrative.

    • Statement on the Attack in Manchester

      Last night at 10.30 PM at a pop concert in Manchester Arena, an explosion killed at least 22 including children and injured at least 59. Reports have been coming in during the early hours of the morning confirming the suspect to have been killed in the blast. This has been described as one of the deadliest attacks in the UK of the last decade.

      There is still speculation as to the motives of the killer and an ongoing investigation to uncover whether they acted alone or part of a wider group.

      What we do know is the misery following this horrific attack will be hijacked by the grief vultures of the far right. Already high profile racist Katie Hopkins is calling for a “final solution” on Twitter, while other fascist media personalities are scrambling for any information they can twist in order to fuel their anti-migrant, anti-Muslim agendas, and continue attacking the Left who dare challenge their blatant racism. There are two fascist demonstrations planned for Liverpool and Manchester in the coming weeks that will, no doubt, use last night’s tragedy in order to attract bigger numbers and use the deaths of dozens of ordinary people in order to grow their organisational capacity. They must be opposed.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • [Older] Amazon made a small change to the way it sells books. Publishers are terrified.

      Now you might be buying the book from Amazon, or you might be buying it from a third-party seller. And there’s no guarantee that if the latter is true, said third-party seller bought the book from the publisher. In fact, it’s most likely they didn’t.

      Which means the publisher might not be getting paid. And, by extension, neither is the author.

    • All the Second Life rabbits are doomed, thanks to DRM

      Every Ozimal digirabbit in the venerable virtual world Second Life will starve to death (well, permanent hibernation) this week because a legal threat has shut down their food-server, and the virtual pets are designed so that they can only eat DRM-locked food, so the official food server’s shutdown has doomed them all.

    • Apple, Verizon Join Forces To Lobby Against New York’s ‘Right To Repair’ Law

      Over the last year, we’ve noted the surge in so-called “right to repair” laws, which would make it easier for consumers to repair their electronics and find replacement parts and tools. It’s a direct response to the rising attempts by companies like John Deere, Apple, Microsoft and Sony to monopolize repair, hamstringing consumer rights over products consumers think they own, while driving up the cost of said product ownership. John Deere’s draconian lockdown on its tractor firmware is a large part of the reason these efforts have gained steam over the last few months in states like Nebraska.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • RIAA Says Artists Don’t Need "Moral Rights," Artists Disagree

        The right to be credited is part of the so-called "moral rights," which are baked into many copyright laws around the world, adopted at the international level through the Berne Convention.

        However, in the United States, this is not the case. The US didn’t sign the Berne Convention right away and opted out from the "moral rights" provision when they eventually joined it.

      • Now Anyone Can Embed a Pirate Movie in a Website

        Vodlocker.to is offering an interesting service that not only provides streaming movies and TV shows in the browser but also allows them to be published anywhere on the web. After entering the movie’s IMDb number, users get an embed code which can be entered into any web page, where the movie will play in a YouTube-like window. There’s even support for Chromecast.

      • Copyright Troll Attorney John Steele Disbarred by Illinois Supreme Court

        After admitting to several criminal acts, including the operation of a piracy honeypot, Prenda Law attorney John Steele has now been disbarred by the Illinois Supreme Court. As a result, the troubled attorney will no longer be allowed to practice law in the state. While the decision doesn’t come as a surprise, several victims of the trolling operation will welcome it with a smile.


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.


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?

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