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07.06.17

Links 6/7/2017: Thousands of Microsoft Layoffs, GNU/Linux Preinstalled, Hotspot 1.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 2:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Tesla is updating its maps and navigation with open source mapping platforms

    Maps are becoming increasingly important in vehicles and not just for navigation. Self-driving technology is reliant on maps and positioning, which is why Tesla is leading several different efforts to improve maps as part of this transition to autonomous driving and now it is adding new ones.

  • Baidu offers open-source car software as lure for data
  • Baidu Forms Major Alliance to Accelerate the Adoption of Autonomous Driving
  • Baidu unveils vehicle manufacturing partners, declares Apollo the ‘Android of the autonomous driving industry’
  • A History of Open Source GIS, from Humble Beginnings to World-Changing Applications

    The advent of digital mapping and geospatial information systems (GIS) has completely changed the way humans think about and interact with the world around them. The concept of overlapping discrete layers of location information for decision-making was first introduced by Ian McHarg, a landscape architect, in the 1960s. Around the same time, Roger Tomlinson — known universally as the “Father of GIS” — completed his doctoral thesis focused on the use of computing methods for the overlay of geospatial information. Roger then worked to create the first computerized GIS, the Canada Geographic Information System, which was used primarily for surveying.

  • Kubernetes’s days may be numbered as open source changes

    If the open source model is broken, as Apcera founder Derek Collison believes, then container orchestration wunderkind Kubernetes may be its first major casualty. Yes, that Kubernetes, the Google-spawned container king that 71 percent of enterprises surveyed by 451 Research say they’re using for container management.

    It seem far-fetched that Kubernetes could be heading for a fall, even as it continues to rise. But the problem, Collison argues, is one of investment: The old open source model was all about commoditizing a richly funded market filled with proprietary software. Open source came along, democratized the market, and shifted investment dollars elsewhere.

  • Why Is Open Source Software Important For Business?

    Whether or not you rely on open source software in your daily business activities at the moment, it’s crucial you’re aware of it and understand how it can help your business grow.

    Open source software is, to put it simply, software made by the public and available for free.

    There are so many projects out there being developed right now by volunteers all over the world and it’s changing the fundamental way businesses operate. Read on to find out more about what this means for your business.

  • Big Data Trends

    Open source applications like Apache Hadoop, Spark and others have come to dominate the big data space, and that trend looks likely to continue. One survey found that nearly 60 percent of enterprises expect to have Hadoop clusters running in production by the end of this year. And according to Forrester, Hadoop usage is increasing 32.9 percent per year.

    Experts say that in 2017, many enterprises will expand their use of Hadoop and NoSQL technologies, as well as looking for ways to speed up their big data processing. Many will be seeking technologies that allow them to access and respond to data in real time.

  • Baidu Just Released An Open Source Autonomous Driving Platform
  • What a lack of trust can do to a team

    Lincoln Loop is an open organization in many ways. We’re distributed across 7 time zones. We have no central headquarters. All members of our core team can see all our financials (literally every penny earned or spent) and choose their own salaries. We have an open vacation policy and let people set their own work schedules.

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Oracle Posts SPARC M8 Patches For GCC

      It looks like the SPARC M8 processor will end up getting released as an Oracle engineer today posted patches implementing support for the M8 with GCC.

      The future of SPARC has been in question for a while now since layoffs at Oracle, the future of Solaris also looking rather bleak, and M8+ references no longer being on the company’s road-map. There has been mixed reports whether the SPARC M8 and M9 designs have been canned, but with Oracle now submitting GCC compiler patches for the M8, at least that still appears to be happening.

    • U wot M8? Oracle chip designers quietly work on new SPARC CPU

      Oracle engineers are seemingly working on a new SPARC processor: the M8.

      This is judging from a series of patches submitted by Oracle developer Jose Marchesi to the widely used free-as-in-freedom compiler toolkit GCC.

      The code “adds support for the SPARC M8 processor to GCC. The SPARC M8 processor implements the Oracle SPARC Architecture 2017,” according to Marchesi, who runs the GNU Linux toolchain team at Oracle. Spokespeople for the database giant declined to comment further.

      Essentially, the updates allow software built by GCC to make use of the M8′s new instructions and can be optimized for its architecture. The code has been tested on SPARC Linux and Solaris, we’re told. The patches follow updates submitted to the binutils project in May; binutils is another component available to programmers to build software.

  • CMS

    • July Open Source CMS Forecast: Drupal, Jahia, Liferay & More

      The arrival of July marks the halfway mark of 2017, which makes now a good time to briefly recap the year so far for open source CMS.

      So far this year we have seen open source CMS conferences come and go, greeted major releases from WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, and followed the progress of the eagerly anticipated SilverStripe 4 — which is slated for release “later this year.”

      Looking towards the second half of 2017, here’s what to expect from the open source world in July.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • [llvm-announce] LLVM 4.0.1 Release

      This release contains bug-fixes for the LLVM 4.0.0 release. This release is API and ABI compatible with 4.0.0.

    • LLVM 4.0.1 Released

      Tom Stellard of Red Hat (formerly AMD) has released LLVM 4.0.1 as the first bug-fix / point release to the LLVM4 compiler stack.

      LLVM 4.0.1 maintains API/ABI compatibility while including many additional bug fixes since the v4.0.0 release in March.

  • Public Services/Government

    • EC looking for organiser of open source bug-bounty

      The European Commission is looking for companies with experience in organising bug-bounties. The EC wants to run a small-scale bug bounty on one of the open source software projects or libraries that it uses. The exercise should provide the European institutions with open source software that has been screened for potential vulnerabilities.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Canadian entertainment industry begs Chinese courts to censor its movies

      The Supreme Court of Canada just handed down a controversial ruling in which it ordered Google to block links to a page that was deemed illegal in Canada for every Google user, everywhere in the world — asserting that the Supreme Court of Canada’s jurisdiction extends to the end of the earth.

      Terrifyingly, Canadian entertainment industry execs are celebrating this ruling because they say that it will allow them to get copyright takedown orders in Canada and enforce them everywhere else.

  • Programming/Development

    • PHP 7.2.0 Alpha 3 Released

      The PHP development team announces the immediate availability of PHP 7.2.0 Alpha 3. This release contains fixes and improvements relative to Alpha 2. All users of PHP are encouraged to test this version carefully, and report any bugs and incompatibilities in the bug tracking system.

    • PHP 7.2 Alpha 3 Released

      PHP 7.2.0 Alpha 3 is now available as the latest test release ahead of the official PHP 7.2 debut later in the year. This release offers various fixes and improvements over the earlier alphas.

    • Undefined Behavior in 2017

      Recently we’ve heard a few people imply that problems stemming from undefined behaviors (UB) in C and C++ are largely solved due to ubiquitous availability of dynamic checking tools such as ASan, UBSan, MSan, and TSan. We are here to state the obvious — that, despite the many excellent advances in tooling over the last few years, UB-related problems are far from solved — and to look at the current situation in detail.

Leftovers

  • Search Algorithms Kept Me From My Sister for 14 Years
  • Science

    • White House Science Office in Flux
    • A US state now lets anyone—not just parents—request to ban books in schools

      Nosy Floridians now have another outlet for their moral outrage. Now anybody in the US state can formally complain about books used in public schools, and schools are required to hear them out.

      Last week governor Rick Scott signed a bill that allows any Florida resident to formally challenge new or old materials, like books and movies, available in public schools. In drafting the bill, lawmakers specifically added language that expanded the complaint process to include anyone, not just parents.

    • The birth and rise of Ethernet: A history

      Today, no company would consider using anything except Ethernet for its wired local-area network. But it wasn’t always that way. Steven Vaughan-Nichols tracks the history of Ethernet, and its once-upon-a-time networking protocol competitors.

    • Neanderthal DNA suggests yet another wave of human migration out of Africa

      Modern humans and Neanderthals have a confusing genetic relationship. One set of data suggests our two species diverged around 650,000 years ago—but other clues point to an ongoing close (that is, sexual) relationship between our ancestors that persisted until around 300,000 years ago. This is made all the more muddled by the fact that Neanderthals look like they were living in Eurasia 300,000 years ago while our own ancestors were still in Africa. And then the two groups clearly intermingled once humans did leave Africa.

      One way to account for all this contradictory information is to suggest that another group of humans left Africa sometime between the Neanderthals’ departure and our own. An analysis of Neanderthal DNA, published this week in Nature Communications, adds new weight to this hypothesis.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Why people with brain implants are afraid of automatic doors

      The trouble is, as medical implants become not only more ubiquitous, but more connected, so does the rest of the world. And device makers have to not only plan for devices that work in today’s environment, but hopefully also a decade down the road, when patients still have the same implant but the world of signals around them may be substantially different.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • At $30,000 for a flaw, bug bounties are big and getting bigger

      Hackers are being paid as much as $30,000 for finding a single critical flaw in a company’s systems, and the amount companies are willing to pay is increasing.

      While the use of such bug hunting programmes is still limited, some large organisations are offering hackers rewards for spotting flaws in their systems.

    • Windows ransomware found to be incredibly rare [Ed: Android and Linux basher Liam Tung seems to be doing some Microsoft PR today]
    • Linux and macOS malware threats tripled in 2016, according to report [Ed: Microsoft-linked sites like to the above]
    • Researchers Build Firewall to Deflect SS7 Attacks

      Security researchers will release an open-source SS7 firewall at Black Hat USA that aims to bolster security of mobile operators’ core networks.

      Mobile security software can do little to protect end users and BYOD workers when Signaling System 7 (SS7) vulnerabilities are exploited in mobile operotors’ core mobile networks, according to security researchers.

      SS7 vulnerabilities, which can allow cybercriminals to hijack two-factor authentication codes texted to mobile phones, read and redirect text messages, eavesdrop on phone calls, and track a phone’s location, have existed since 2014.

    • Calamares Devs Warn of Weaker Password Salt, Urge Users to Reset Their Password

      The developers of the Calamares open-source universal installer framework issued a warning to inform those who used Calamares 3.1 or a previous version to install their current GNU/Linux operating system of a possible password weakness issue.

    • How to defend your website with ZIP bombs
    • Shadow Brokers translation

      As a service to non native English speakers I am translating the Shadow Brokers “Borat” into simple English. I am not going to do any analysis in this post, just simple translation for people who have difficulty with Shadow Brokers posts.

    • Feelin’ safe and snug on Linux while the Windows world burns? Stop that [Ed: Well, with proprietary software the holes (or back doors) are sometimes intentional, unlike in GNU]

      The ransomware problems reported by The Reg over the past few weeks are enough to make you, er, wanna cry. Yet all that’s happened is that known issues with Windows machines – desktop and server – have now come to everyone’s attention and the bandwidth out of Microsoft’s Windows Update servers has likely increased a bit relative to the previous few weeks.

    • Linux is not as safe as you think [Ed: Having default passwords on a router (or other device) is not as safe as you think]
    • IoT Fuels Growth of Linux Malware [Ed: John P. Mello Jr. is the latest among many to cite a Microsoft ally from Seattle to make Linux look terrible]
    • How 2,000 Unsecured Databases Landed on the Internet [Ed: System administrators made a serious error.]

      There is a simple explanation for why this particular filename was used: In the instructions for the widely used database software MySQL, the name is used in an explanatory example.

    • Linux systems under fire [Ed: Unchanged default passwords on a "Linux" system are not a GNU/Linux issue]

      There was a marked increase in the recorded attacks on Linux systems, which are often connected to the Internet unprotected.

    • Private not state hackers likely to have targeted UK parliament: sources [Ed: Microsoft system]

      A cyber attack on email accounts of British lawmakers last month is likely to have been by amateur or private hackers rather than state-sponsored, European government sources said.

      The private email accounts of up to 90 of the 650 members of Britain’s House of Commons were targeted in late June, with some news reports suggesting that the attack was carried out by a foreign government, such as Russia.

      However, cyber security experts had found that the hackers only managed to access accounts of lawmakers who used primitive and easily discovered passwords, the sources, who are familiar with the investigations into the attacks, said.

    • Backdoor built in to widely used tax app seeded last week’s NotPetya outbreak

      The third-party software updater used to seed last week’s NotPetya worm that shut down computers around the world was compromised more than a month before the outbreak. This is yet another sign the attack was carefully planned and executed.

      Researchers from antivirus provider Eset, in a blog post published Tuesday, said the malware was spread through a legitimate update module of M.E.Doc, a tax-accounting application that’s widely used in Ukraine. The report echoed findings reported earlier by Microsoft, Kaspersky Lab, Cisco Systems, and Bitdefender. Eset said a “stealthy and cunning backdoor” used to spread the worm probably required access the M.E.Doc source code. What’s more, Eset said the underlying backdoored ZvitPublishedObjects.dll file was first pushed to M.E.Doc users on May 15, six weeks before the NotPetya outbreak.

    • Moving Beyond Backdoors To Solve The FBI’s ‘Going Dark’ Problem

      Former FBI Director James Comey stated on more than one occasion that he’d like to have an “adult conversation” about device encryption. He wasn’t sincere. What he actually meant was he’d like to have all the “smart people” in the tech world solve his problems for him, either by capitulating to his requests for encryption backdoors or by somehow crafting the impossible: a secure backdoor.

      Comey is gone, but his legacy lives on. The FBI wants to keep the “going dark” narrative alive. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has already asked Congress for $21 million in “going dark” money, supposedly to help the agency explore its options.

      The problem is, the options could be explored for a much lower price. Kevin Bankston offers up a few solutions — or at least a few improved adult conversational gambits — for the low price of $free over at Lawfare. The starting point is Comey’s “adult conversation” talking point. Bankston points out you can’t hold an adult conversation if you refuse to act like one.

    • OpenBSD Will Get Unique Kernels on Each Reboot. Do You Hear That Linux, Windows?

      A new feature added in test snapshots for OpenBSD releases will create a unique kernel every time an OpenBSD user reboots or upgrades his computer.

      This feature is named KARL — Kernel Address Randomized Link — and works by relinking internal kernel files in a random order so that it generates a unique kernel binary blob every time.

      Currently, for stable releases, the OpenBSD kernel uses a predefined order to link and load internal files inside the kernel binary, resulting in the same kernel for all users.

    • BothanSpy

      Today, July 6th 2017, WikiLeaks publishes documents from the BothanSpy and Gyrfalcon projects of the CIA. The implants described in both projects are designed to intercept and exfiltrate SSH credentials but work on different operating systems with different attack vectors.

      BothanSpy is an implant that targets the SSH client program Xshell on the Microsoft Windows platform and steals user credentials for all active SSH sessions. These credentials are either username and password in case of password-authenticated SSH sessions or username, filename of private SSH key and key password if public key authentication is used. BothanSpy can exfiltrate the stolen credentials to a CIA-controlled server (so the implant never touches the disk on the target system) or save it in an enrypted file for later exfiltration by other means. BothanSpy is installed as a Shellterm 3.x extension on the target machine.

      Gyrfalcon is an implant that targets the OpenSSH client on Linux platforms (centos,debian,rhel,suse,ubuntu). The implant can not only steal user credentials of active SSH sessions, but is also capable of collecting full or partial OpenSSH session traffic. All collected information is stored in an encrypted file for later exfiltration. It is installed and configured by using a CIA-developed root kit (JQC/KitV) on the target machine.

    • Hijacking Bitcoin: routing attacks on cryptocurrencies

      The Bitcoin network has more than 6,000 nodes, responsible for up to 300,000 daily transactions and 16 million bitcoins valued at roughly $17B.

      [...]

      BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) is the routing protocol that controls how packets are forwarded in the Internet. Routes are associated with IP prefixes, and are exchanged between neighbouring networks (Autonomous Systems, AS). The origin AS makes the original route announcement, and this then propagates through the network hop by hop.

    • Researchers open sliding window to completely break libgcrypt RSA-1024

      In their paper the researchers display a good sense of humour in calling the vulnerability ‘sliding right into disaster’. That’s because it exploits the fact that exponent bits leaked by the ‘sliding window’ process used by libgcrypt can be used to carry out a key recovery attack against RSA. This despite it previously being thought that even if the entire pattern of squarings and multiplications was observed courtesy of s side-channel attack, it wouldn’t leak enough exponent bits to be of any real use.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Tony Blair must be prosecuted over Iraq War, High Court hears

      Tony Blair must be prosecuted over the “unnecessary” and “unlawful” Iraq War, a court has heard.

      General Abdul Wahed Shannan Al Rabbat alleges Mr Blair, then UK prime minister, committed “the crime of aggression” by invading Iraq in 2003.

      The general wants to bring a private prosecution against Mr Blair and two other key ministers at the time – foreign secretary Jack Straw and the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Journalists decry move to drop international Walkley​​ award

      Hundreds of the nation’s top journalists, editors, academics and media executives have called on the Walkley awards advisory board to reverse its “short-sighted” decision to drop the international journalism category from the annual awards for excellence in journalism.

      ABC foreign correspondents Philip Williams, Sally Sara and Matt Brown, ABC presenters Leigh Sales, Virginia Trioli, Michael Rowland and Chris Uhlmann, former Gold Walkley winners Adele Ferguson, Liz Jackson and photojournalist Andrew Quilty are among the 480 signatories to a petition delivered to Walkley advisory board chair Angelos Frangopoulos and Walkley chief executive Jacqui Park.

    • CNN implied threat against redditor over Trump-CNN GIF ignites Internet
    • CNN denies blackmailing Reddit user behind viral Trump meme

      In a statement, the spokesman denied CNN had made a “deal” with the Reddit user, and said the inclusion of the controversial statement in their piece was intended to show that no “deal” occurred.

    • CNN Warns It May Expose an Anonymous Critic if He Ever Again Publishes Bad Content

      A controversy erupted late Tuesday night after CNN published an article announcing that it had uncovered the identity of the anonymous Reddit user who created the video of President Donald Trump punching a CNN logo. CNN and other outlets had previously reported that this user, who uses a pseudonym, had also posted anti-Semitic and racist content on Reddit, including an image identifying all of the Jewish employees of CNN, designated with a Jewish star next to their photos.

      Though CNN decided — for now — not to reveal his name, the network made clear that this discretion was predicated on the user’s lengthy public apology, his promise not to repeat the behavior, and his status as a private citizen.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Volvo says from 2019 all new models it introduces will be electric or hybrid

      On Wednesday, Volvo Cars announced that all new models introduced from 2019 will feature some form of electric propulsion. The news follows an announcement in May that diesel engines have no future with the brand, in part because of ever-stricter EU carbon emissions targets, but also because of the growing concern over the health effects of diesel exhaust, which is loaded with particulates and nitrogen oxides.

      When it comes to socially responsible car companies, Volvo appears to be leading the pack. The Swedish automaker, which built its reputation on safety, has already committed to a goal of reducing the number of deaths or serious injuries in a new Volvo to zero by the year 2020. And it looks like that concern extends beyond the wellbeing of its customers to the rest of us as well.

      Between 2019 and 2021, Volvo plans to launch five new electric vehicles. Details about the new EVs are scarce at present, but the company says that three of them will be badged as Volvos, and the other two will be high-performance EVs badged as Polestars. (Polestar is Volvo’s in-house tuning operation, and you’ll be able to read a review of the S60 Polestar here at Ars in a few weeks.)

    • Germany’s power sector making serious strides in renewable energy

      The German Renewable Energy Federation (known as the “Bundesverband Erneuerbare Energie” or BEE in Germany) has good news and bad news. The good news? From January to June, the country produced a record 35 percent of its electricity from renewable energy.

    • Brexit could block any plans to reintroduce lynx

      In an unlikely side-effect, Brexit could see the UK’s hills and forests remain lynx-free for the foresee­able future, it has been claimed.

    • Satellite temperature record update closes gap with surface records

      Satellites seem like an obvious technological solution to the considerable challenge of tracking changes in Earth’s climate. But Earth-observing ain’t easy. A single instrument can zoom over the locations of thousands of stationary thermometers—but that puts thousands of eggs in one instrumental basket. Measuring temperatures from space takes a lot more than some mercury in a tube, and you can’t fix your instrument if something goes wrong.

      Illustrating that fact is a new update to one of the major satellite temperature datasets, which ends up changing the recent part of the record in a subtle but significant way.

  • Finance

    • Is Brexit an error? Now even Vote Leave’s chief is having doubts

      What would it take to make those who voted for Brexit change their minds? That may turn out to be the dominant question of British politics over the coming years, as the reality of the British exit from the EU comes ever closer. Even the most diehard remainers concede that the only way it can be halted is if British public opinion has a change of heart, collectively repudiating the verdict it expressed in the referendum of 2016.

    • Fake data pushed by Nasdaq gets published, creating stock quote surprise

      Since the markets were closed, luckily no trades could be executed based on the data. The only real-world impact may have been some panic attacks and heart palpitations. Still, the episode shows how much of an impact the corruption of market quote data could potentially have. Even back in 2013, an interruption in Nasdaq data forced the exchange to pause trading. (That problem, caused by a network issue between Nasdaq and one exchange participant, has long since been resolved.) And potential problems like that are exactly why Nasdaq frequently tests its systems after hours to verify network throughput.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Is America past the point of no return?

      A few years back, on my radio show, President Jimmy Carter said that America, in large part because of Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United, has become “just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery.”

    • Labour calls on government to drop European court red line

      Britain’s opposition Labour Party called on the government to drop its “deeply unhelpful red line” in Brexit talks over the European Court of Justice, saying it should be more flexible to retain access to EU bodies.

      In a letter to the Financial Times on Wednesday, Labour’s Brexit policy chief Keir Starmer said the party understood that the future relationship with the European Court of Justice would have to change as Britain leaves the European Union, due in March 2019.

      But he said by ruling out any deal that would keep Britain under the jurisdiction of the court meant Prime Minister Theresa May has drawn a red line that “would prevent any future involvement of an EU-UK court-like body, even when such an arrangement is demonstrably in the national interest”.

      “We have called for a more flexible approach that would make it far easier for Britain to stay inside common EU arrangements that benefit the UK,” wrote Starmer, a career lawyer who rose to be head of the state prosecution service before going into politics.

    • States refuse to give Trump commission personal data of registered voters

      As many as 44 US states are now refusing to hand voter data over to President Donald Trump and his administration citing legal and privacy concerns. This cache includes information such as voters’ full names, political affiliations, addresses, dates of birth, criminal records, the last four digits of Social Security numbers, and other personal identifying information. The tussle continues despite the fact that some of the desired data, including whether individuals have voted in the past decade, is set to become part of the public record separate from this situation.

      This wave of refusals comes a week after the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity sent a letter (PDF) to the nation’s 50 states seeking the information so the newly created Trump commission could “analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting.” Trump signed the executive order in May to create the commission amid his own claims that there was voter fraud on a massive scale during the 2016 election. Trump alleged that millions had voted illegally, but so far those claims have been unfounded.

    • Trump supporters attack NPR for tweeting ‘propaganda’ before finding out it was the Declaration of Independence

      Some saw the tweets as particularly relevant to the state of current affairs and praised the action as a reminder of why federal funding for the public broadcaster should not be cut, as the Trump administration has proposed.

    • NPR accused of bias for tweeting out full Declaration of Independence

      NPR has celebrated Independence Day for 29 years by having hosts, reporters and commentators read the Declaration of Independence on-air.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Kenya: This Is Internet Censorship Through the Back Door

      Last week, the Communications Authority of Kenya published draft regulations on the use of social media for political messaging in collaboration with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).

      The regulations have two components – one on bulk SMS and the other specifically for social media use within the context of political messaging.

      The regulations on bulk SMS are actually in their second edition. The first edition was gazetted as we went to the polls in 2013 in a clear effort to avoid the repeat of the post election violence witnessed after the 2007 general elections.

    • Judge Tosses Woman’s Lawsuit Brought Against Google Because A Blogger Said Mean Things About Her

      Because even some lawyers can’t seem to understand the legalities of Section 230 of the CDA or third-party liability, the courts are frequently burdened with stupid defamation lawsuits that can’t survive a motion to dismiss. DC lawyer Harry J. Jordan lobbed one of these lawsuits into court late last year on behalf of Dawn Bennett, who felt she was defamed by a blog run by Scott Pierson, an SEO specialist who apparently failed to make Bennett’s less-than-flattering history with the SEC disappear.

    • Streaming services censor themselves in India, even though they don’t need to

      At 2am on March 29, film producer Gaurav Dhingra got an email and a missed call. They were from Netflix. Angry Indian Goddesses, a film Dhingra produced, was due to release on Netflix in a day. It had released in the rest of the world a couple weeks earlier. In 2015, when Netflix bought the film, Dhingra asked for assurance from them that they would release it uncensored everywhere, including India. Netflix agreed. After all, the censored version of the film was only required for theatrical exhibition, not for people watching it online.

    • TVB accused of self-censorship over sudden suspension of political satire show during Xi Jinping’s visit

      Public broadcasting service RTHK has filed an official complaint against free-to-air station Television Broadcasts (TVB) for suspending its political satire show Headliner on short notice during President Xi Jinping’s visit last week.

      The show – usually critical of the government – was scheduled to be aired on TVB Jade last Friday at 6pm, but the broadcaster informed RTHK just minutes before its scheduled broadcast that it had been postponed to 12:30am on Saturday.

    • TVB show switch sparks complaints

      Complaints are flying against Television Broadcasts’ switching of its political satire program Headliner from the golden time of Friday evening to Sunday after midnight during President Xi Jinping’s visit last week.

      The program was scheduled to be broadcast on TVB Jade last Friday at 6pm, but RTHK received a notice from TVB minutes before it was aired that the program had been switched to Sunday after midnight at 12.30am on J5.

      TVB played the news clips of Xi’s visit instead, followed by a feng shui program.

    • Vidangel is a stupid censorship service and we should welcome it anyway

      Vidangel is the latest attempt (along with services like Clearplay and Sony’s own filtering tool) to sell a product that allows cringing, easily triggered evangelicals to skip swear words, sex and blasphemy in the media they watch.

      These tools re-emerge periodically, and every time they do, artists come out to decry them as violations of copyright or moral rights, or both (and Vidangel is no exception).

      This is silly and worse than silly: it’s dangerous.

    • Streaming platforms and self-censorship: An Indian perspective

      In May 2017, a movie titled ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ was released on Netflix India. A censored version of the film, originally intended for theatrical release was made available. Critics brought attention to the self-censorship Netflix was resorting to, in the absence of censorship guidelines for streaming platforms. While theatrical releases are regulated by the Central Board of Film Certification, their jurisdiction does not extend to online platforms, as was recently made evident through an RTI response from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Eventually, the director of ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ informed viewers that Netflix had insisted on making the censored version available themselves.

    • ‘More censorship’: Row in Dáil as TD asks why gardaí spoke to professor over Regina Doherty blog
    • Punjab CM rules out media censorship
    • Censorship Board bans songs from Cairokee’s new album

      The censored songs include lyrics about “everyday life, our problems as young people, social media and what we see on TV – our usual topics,” said 33-year old frontman and songwriter Amir Eid, who doesn’t think any of the content is particularly controversial. “If anything, I feel, as a songwriter, that I didn’t say everything I wanted to say.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Docs Show Police Also Sought (And Obtained) Phone Records For Police Shooting Victim’s Girlfriend

      As we recently covered, Minnesota law enforcement tried to snatch victory from the expiring body of a black driver shot by a St. Anthony police officer by immediately asking an uninvolved social media company to turn over information on Philando Castile’s girlfriend. The reason for this? The “affiant” swore criminals often used social media services to discuss criminal activities. This was an attempt to mine for dirt that might be used to justify an unjustifiable shoot.

      One warrant was served to Facebook, along with an indefinite gag order. Facebook challenged the gag order. Ill-prepared for pushback and having no solid reason to demand the release of Facebook posts and private messages, the warrant was rescinded.

    • Five Eyes Wide Shut: GCHQ Withdraws From the World?

      At a remote mountain resort in New Zealand earlier this year, leaders of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance met for their annual summit. At seventy-one years old, the Five Eyes alliance, between Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and the United States, remains the world’s most powerful intelligence partnership, and over decades has endured crises from Suez, to the Falklands, to Iraq. Yet on the same day in March 2017, two separate but linked events in both Washington and London suggest the Five Eyes’ closest partners — Britain’s GCHQ and America’s NSA, are beginning to diverge in their focus and mission.

      On March 20 in Washington DC, sitting in front of perhaps the most high-profile congressional intelligence committee since 9/11, the NSA Director, Admiral Rogers, was asked if the NSA knew about Russian interference in electronic voting systems in Michigan during the 2016 Presidential election. Firmly, Rogers responded: “No. I would highlight we are a foreign intelligence service, not a domestic intelligence organization”. This was a mission shared by the NSA’s closest partner, GCHQ. The agency’s foreign focus is enshrined in British law: the agency, along with MI6, is answerable to the Foreign Secretary — in contrast, MI5 reports to the Home Secretary.

    • NSA Continues To Dodge ‘Incidental Collection’ Question, Wants Its ‘About’ Surveillance Program Back

      It’s been six years since Senator Ron Wyden first asked the Director of National Intelligence how many Americans’ communications are being swept up “incidentally” in the NSA’s Section 702 surveillance net. Six years later, he still doesn’t have an answer.

    • This Indian ISP won’t let its users use 128 bit or 256 bit encryption

      Yet YOU Broadband, and other Indian ISPs, still insist that their users can’t use anything stronger than a twenty-year-broken key size. That’s not viable security in the 21st century, and makes you wonder why encryption is discouraged in the first place. Nowadays, because 40 bit encryption has long been shown to be obsolete, the minimum standard is usually at least a 128 bit encryption key size.

      [...]

      What is the bit length permitted by the Department of Telecommunications, anyways? According to a 2002 note on ISP regulation by the Department of Telecommunications, the encryption key length hard limit is 40 bits for internet service licensees aka internet service providers.

      Internet service licensees, such as YOU Broadband, have an obligation to the licensor, the Department of Telecommunications, to forbid individuals, groups, and organizations from using encryption with keys stronger than 40 bits without permission. Instead of asking the regulators for this permission to allow its users to actually utilize viable encryption key lengths without violating the user policy, YOU Broadband has elected to pass on the 15 year old rule on encryption – essentially making the use of encryption online against the rules of the ISP and a potential reason to lose service. Under the current and previous iterations of the user policy, YOU Broadband subscribers are technically breaking the ISP’s rules every time they access https://www.google.co.in.

    • Facebook can track your browsing activity after you log out: US judge

      The plaintiffs claimed that Facebook violated federal and California privacy and wiretapping laws by storing cookies on their browsers that tracked when they visited outside websites containing Facebook “like” buttons.

    • Facebook challenges US government over gag order

      Details are still mostly sealed, although a recent filing suggests that the newest round of warrants is also related to the anti-Trump protests. The US Attorneys’ office declined to comment.

    • Doctors are turning to Snapchat to bypass ageing NHS systems

      A panel of experts, chaired by former Liberal Democrat MP Dr Julian Huppert, revealed that clinicians are using Snapchat, along with similar camera apps, to record particular details of patient information and share it with colleagues.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Hamburg is transforming itself into an Orwellian dystopia for the G20 Summit

      On July 7-8 the G20 Summit is happening in Hamburg. The city’s authorities plan to transform it into a democracy-free zone of complete surveillance, enforced by paramilitary means. We wrote the open letter below to the Senate of Hamburg to protest.

    • A July 4 Message from EFF Co-founder John Perry Barlow

      There’s no need to make America great again.

      America has been great since it became the first nation on Earth where a set of ideas became the ruling principles of governance.

      America was great when it was established that authority did not come from divine right, or indeed anything beyond the ability to earn it.

      Those who believe America’s greatness depends on her ability to create fear both at home and abroad are the enemies of American greatness.

    • Laptop ban led to 20-percent drop in flights for one Mideast airline

      Some of the Middle Eastern airlines barred from having laptops and other electronics in their main cabins have said their rules are returning to normal after receiving approval from US agencies.

      Turkish Airlines and Emirates Airlines both announced the end of their respective laptop bans yesterday. That follows long-haul carrier Etihad Airlines, which told The Associated Press on Sunday it will no longer bar larger electronics on its flights.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Take Action Now: Support Nonviolent Direct Action and Join the Fight for Net Neutrality

      Every Tuesday, The Nation sends “Take Action Now,” a weekly newsletter that features three actions each week of varying time commitments. This week, we’re continuing to share actions you can take to defeat the Republicans’ draconian health-care bill, along with an opportunity to get involved in the fight to save net neutrality.

    • The Europe-wide assault on internet freedom

      This is madness. But it is a madness that is spreading across Europe. And don’t be fooled into thinking we are not already in a similar situation in the UK.

    • ‘Free Market’ Group: FCC Comments Show Nobody Really Wants Net Neutrality

      So we’ve discussed how there’s growing controversy about the gaming of the FCC’s public docket on net neutrality to give the illusion of support for what’s an extremely unpopular plan to kill the rules. A bot has been stuffing the ballot box with bogus comments using dead or otherwise fraudulent people, and I’ve seen my name hijacked and used to support the killing of the rules as well. So far, there’s every indication that the FCC has no intention to crack down on any of this, since this fraudulent behavior supports its awful plan to kill net neutrality protections.

      One analysts suggested that up to 40% of the roughly five-million comments submitted so far are coming from the aforementioned bot. After initially telling me they were “looking into” things, the FCC has ignored repeated requests for comment on why it’s failing to police even the most rudimentary abuse of its own systems, like the example in my name above.

    • Cox expands home Internet data caps, while CenturyLink abandons them

      There’s good news and bad news on data caps for home Internet users.

      Cox, the third largest US cable company, last week started charging overage fees to customers in four more states. Internet provider CenturyLink, on the other hand, recently ended an experiment with data caps and is giving bill credits to customers in the state of Washington who were charged overage fees during the yearlong trial.

      Cox, which operates in 18 states with about six million residential and business customers, last week brought overage fees to Arizona, Louisiana, Nevada, and Oklahoma. Cox was already enforcing data caps and overage fees in Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Ohio. California, Rhode Island, and Virginia technically have monthly caps but no enforcement of overage fees, according to Cox’s list of data caps by location. Massachusetts and North Carolina seem to be exempt from the Cox data caps altogether.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Dow wins Canada’s largest ever reported patent infringement award

      The Federal Court of Canada has awarded Dow more than C$645 million including prejudgment interest for Nova Chemicals infringing a patent covering polymers

    • State Dept. Enlists Hollywood And Its Friends To Start A Fake Twitter Fight Over Intellectual Property

      So, let’s break this down. This is literally the State Department, working with the IP Enforcement Coordinator (normally called the “IP Czar”) to team up with the MPAA, RIAA and Copyright Alliance (a front group for the RIAA and MPAA), along with the Patent & Trademark Office and the Copyright Office to create a fake Twitter feud over who likes copyright and patents more.

      Everything about this is crazy. First, the State Dept. should not be creating fake news or fake Twitter feuds. Second, even if it were to do so, it seems to have picked one side of the debate, arguing that greater copyright and patent enforcement is obviously a good thing (how far we’ve come from the time when it was the State Department that fought back against SOPA and told the White House not to support it).

      Separate from that, why are the MPAA, the RIAA and the Copyright Alliance agreeing to team up with the US government to create fake stories? That seems… really, really wrong. I get that they are obsessed with always pushing a misleading and one-sided message on copyright law, but creating out and out propaganda with the US government?

    • KEI Recommends WIPO Study On Running Royalties As Limitation On Remedies

      Nonprofit group Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) has requested a study by the World Intellectual Property Organization on the case law of the non-voluntary use of patents as a limitation on remedies, Andrew Goldman, counsel for policy and legal affairs at KEI, said at a side event to a WIPO meeting this week.

    • Newegg fought its way through two appeals to win fees from this patent-holder
    • Nokia and Xiaomi sign patent deal and agree to ‘explore’ areas like VR and A.I.

      The deal will see both companies license so-called standard essential patents — patents which are essential to allow products to comply with an industry standard — from each other.

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Law Is Broken Because We Say “Copy” When We Mean “Enjoy”

        Copyright law was never meant to apply to how ordinary people enjoy creative works. It was never really even about ensuring authors get paid. It was meant to settle disputes between people who make the mass-market copies we buy and ensure they couldn’t cheat on each other. Those people were (and are) wealthy and operating on huge scales, so the penalties used to keep them in place are massive.

        But then came digital works. By a linguistic accident, we use the word “copy” to describe parts of the process used each time we “open” a digital book or “play” digital music. Because of that, we are forever exposed to copyright laws that were never meant for us. As a result, using works we have paid for requires a license to mitigate the copyright.

      • Indie Developer Finds Game On Torrent Site, Gives Away Free Keys Instead Of Freaking Out

        When game developers find their products available for download on torrent sites and the like, it’s understandable if their reaction isn’t exactly positive. Many gamemakers pour their hearts into developing their art and finding it available for free, fully cracked of any DRM that they might have included, can be understandably frustrating. It’s typically that frustration that launches into DMCA takedowns, complaints about piracy harming the gaming business, and talk of site-blocking and legal threats.

      • Changes to the Singapore copyright system: an update on the recent public consultations

        At the same time, Singapore is in the running for a rosy digital future. As a consequence, Singapore Government will keep its promises and expectations on the successful implementation of any possible consultation paper. Whatever may be the outcome on the CA and future collective rights management eco-system, both public consultation papers would perhaps tip the balance in favour of the authors and confine additional limitations and exceptions to the freedom of the contracting parties.

      • Chrome’s Default ‘Ad-Blocker’ is Bad News for Torrent Sites

        Torrent sites are having trouble maintaining a steady flow of revenue, with the increasing use of ad-blockers affecting sites right across the board. And with Google’s plan to add a default ad-blocker to the Chrome browser looming, some operators fear that they might not be able to keep their sites afloat.

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