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08.31.17

Patent Trolls Are Under Attack and on the Run

Posted in America, Antitrust, Courtroom, Patents, Security at 5:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I would much rather spend my time and money and energy finding ways to make the Internet safer and better than bickering over patents.”

Dean Drako, Barracuda’s CEO

Summary: Wetro Lan LLC panics and pays ‘protection’ money after a failed trolling attempt; MPEG-LA too is under fire, as an antitrust lawsuit has finally been filed against it

EARLIER today we found two interesting reports, one from Dale Walker and another from Joe Mullin, who has been tracking and writing about patent trolls for about a decade. Following TC Heartland we certainly hope that things will change; patent trolls will hopefully altogether go out of business [sic] some time soon. Extortion and racketeering have no value/benefit to the economy.

Walker explained how the latest twist of events got started: “The Moscow-based security company [Kaspersky] was first approached by a patent holder in October last year, who issued a patent lawsuit and demanded a $60,000 cash settlement to make the case disappear.”

Guess what happened instead (and not for the first time).

The tables are turning. Wetro Lan and other patent trolls find themselves on the run when they may be forced to pay the defendant’s legal fees and sometimes lose their patents too. This is what happened in this latest case. To quote Mullin:

The patent-licensing company, Wetro Lan LLC, owned US Patent No. 6,795,918, which essentially claimed an Internet firewall. The patent was filed in 2000 despite the fact that computer network firewalls date to the 1980s. The ’918 patent was used in what the Electronic Frontier Foundation called an “outrageous trolling campaign,” in which dozens of companies were sued out of Wetro Lan’s “headquarters,” a Plano office suite that it shared with several other firms that engage in what is pejoratively called “patent-trolling.” Wetro Lan’s complaints argued that a vast array of Internet routers and switches infringed its patent.

This is the key part:

As claim construction approached, Kaspersky’s lead lawyer Casey Kniser served discovery requests for Wetro Lan’s other license agreements. He suspected the amounts were low.

Finally there’s this:

On a post to his personal blog detailing the victory against Wetro Lan, founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky says his company has now defeated five claims from patent assertion entities, including the infamous claims from Lodsys, a much-maligned patent holder that sent demand letters to small app developers. Lodsys dropped its case against Kaspersky right before a trial.

While the company has spent plenty in legal fees, its total payout to so-called “trolls” has been $0. Firms that engage in “trolling” know that companies often simply settle instead of dealing with the costs and pain of a court litigation.

Kaspersky and others in his field do not like software patents. They speak out about it (occasionally).

The above reveals an interesting strategy where neither invalidation or (legal) fees award acts as a deterrent; it’s discovery requests. Apropos, Patently-O published this short post earlier today about the meaning of “all expenses,” noting a new CAFC decision where the judgment “was split – with Judges Prost and Dyk in majority and Judge Stoll in dissent and arguing that the term “expenses” is not sufficient to overcome the traditional american rule regarding attorney fees.”

The second story we found today came from IAM, which revealed MPEG-LA as the target of litigation, for a change (background about this troll can be found in our Wiki). Patent trolls can, as it turns out, be sued, this time using antitrust law. This gigantic troll is in hot water not only in the far east, with the lawsuit actually being filed in the US:

Chinese appliance maker Haier has filed an antitrust lawsuit in the Northern District of New York against MPEG LA and six licensors that are part of its ATSC patent pool. The complaint accuses the companies and pool administrator of a range of anti-competitive practices affecting the market for televisions, the effect of which it says is to disadvantage implementers like Haier which compete on price at the lower end. For that reason, Chinese companies – many of which have argued that their low margins entitle them to different patent licence terms – will be interested to see how far this case goes.

It’s nice to see the patent trolls getting a taste of their own ‘medicine’ (or poison). It’s now them who find themselves needing to shell out ‘protection’ money.

IBM Helps a Microsoft-Connected Patent Troll Create Another Trolling Branch, Known as Finjan Blue

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 5:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ginni Rometty

Photo source (modified slightly): The 10 Most Powerful Women in Technology Today

Summary: The parasite known as Finjan spends money buying some more patents in order to expand the breadth of its patent shakedown campaign — a ruinous campaign which drains hundreds of millions of dollars out of the economy

IBM is doing a great disservice to Free software and to GNU/Linux. In fact, it’s doing a disservice to all software developers (everywhere in the world). As we have been showing many times this year, with its patent policies and (software) patent lobbying — not to mention patent lawsuits — IBM made it clear that it’s a pariah company hellbent/determined to extract money from rivals at any cost (even immeasurable cost to its image).

“So, while Microsoft tells us that it “loves Linux” expect this troll which it once funded to sue everyone who has some security products (or extract settlement money without ever announcing it).”Earlier this month we wrote at least three articles about Finjan Holdings’ connections to Microsoft and accelerating campaign of patent lawsuits against Microsoft’s rivals. Well, days ago it announced “Finjan Blue, Inc., a Delaware corporation and wholly owned subsidiary of Finjan Holdings” (Delaware is where many patent lawsuits get filed).

What’s it all about? Well, IBM has just been feeding a notorious patent troll that is connected to Microsoft, in order to help the troll go preying on a lot of companies, using patents that aren’t even legitimate (if properly assessed). Finjan isn’t just suing; it’s also blackmailing and extorting an unknown number of companies out there. We have been writing about this for over half a decade. Here is how IAM put it earlier today:

It may be a depressed market for patent assets generally, but Finjan’s recent deal with IBM seemingly bucks that trend. Big Blue has agreed to hand over 25 grants and 16 applications to the cyber security business and in return will receive $2 million upfront and a further $6.5 million over a five-year period – that’s an overall price per patent of more than $200,000, which is a decent return by any standard.

In terms of size, though, the transaction pales in comparison with the 4,000 former Kodak patents that Dominion Harbor picked up from Intellectual Ventures or the stockpile of 6,000 Nokia assets (and before that Alcatel Lucent) that is currently being hawked in the market.

So, while Microsoft tells us that it “loves Linux” expect this troll which it once funded to sue everyone who has some security products (or extract settlement money without ever announcing it). A lot of security products are based on BSD or GNU/Linux.

Why does IBM help this? Is IBM really that desperate? This is more of the pattern we have been seeing from IBM. It’s like there is no moral compass left at that company.

Bristows Turns British Government Report Which Says Nothing About the UPC Into a Self-Serving Plug and a Lie

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A week-old article from Bloomberg twisted British government reporting as UPC promotion, due to interjections of deluded marketing by Bristows LLP (notorious for manipulations, lies and nefarious meddling)

THERE will be no UPC in the UK. Given the current trajectory, with insistence on Brexit, ratification and more so implementation is untenable. But don’t ask Team UPC about it. They either live in a parallel universe or are intentionally lying (to the public and to clients).

I want to believe“You appear to have missed this great piece,” a source told us about Bloomberg coverage that Bristows boasted about in “news and publications”. It mirrors something which we mentioned a week ago. We wrote about Managing IP producing this kind of spin in a tweet, but we did not see Bristows doing the same. As the first paragraph makes clear, it’s not at all about the UPC:

The U.K. government Aug. 23 released a position paper on its future relationship with the EU after its “Brexit” from the bloc. The government did not discuss the UPC, but emphasized it is common for parties to international treaties to agree to submit disputes to bodies such as the Court of Justice of the European Union, the highest court in the EU.

But watch how Bristows then interjects the UPC into it:

However, the U.K. Intellectual Property Office has characterized the UPC as an “international patent court” since it announced in November 2016 that the U.K. will [sic] ratify the UPC agreement. The CJEU’s role in the UPC system is also rather limited, Edward Nodder, senior partner of patent litigation at Bristows LLP in London, told Bloomberg BNA.

“It’s important to remember that the appeals court is not the CJEU—the UPC will have its own very experienced appeals court,” he said. Appeals from the UPC will [sic] be heard by the UPC’s Court of Appeal under the UPC agreement.

Limited Role

The CJEU’s role is only to interpret EU law relevant to the UPC when it needs to be clarified, Alan Johnson, partner in patent litigation at Bristows in London, told Bloomberg BNA. The court will [sic] be asked to review issues such as supplementary protection certificates, which act as patent term extensions to compensate for protection lost to regulatory approval processes, the Biotech Directive, and perhaps some initial jurisdictional questions, Johnson said. “Those are fairly restrictive, and not desperately important topics in many ways,” he said.

Notice how many times they say “will” as if they’re this certain it will happen. The report was not even about the UPC. At all!

Other than that, almost not a word this week about the EPO or the UPC. Earlier today there was this press release about a European Patent on cancer treatment — a controversial subject we covered here before as it raises ethical questions.

Links 31/8/2017: Linux Lite 3.6, PHP 7.2 Release Candidate

Posted in News Roundup at 1:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Powering Digital Transformation with In-Memory Computing and Open Source Software
  • GMO Blockchain Open Source Software project enters third phase

    Blockchain technologies keep conquering new territories. GMO Internet Inc. (TYO:9449) has just announced the launch of the third phase of GMO Blockchain Open Source Software Project, introducing its new Region Token. The open source Region Token is a program whereby municipalities and companies can issue their own tokens (points).

    Through storing processing rules of tokens in a blockchain without having to build a dedicated server for managing tokens and employing an administrator, it is possible to issue tokens and register shops as point service participants on the blockchain. The use of such a token is seen as a means for regional revitalization.

  • Events

    • How People Collaborate on Linux Kernel Mailing Lists

      Linux is one of the largest and most successful open source projects in history. According to a 2016 report from The Linux Foundation, more than 13,500 developers from more than 1,300 companies have contributed to the Linux kernel since tracking began 11 years ago.

      At Open Source Summit in Los Angeles, Dawn Foster, a part-time consultant at The Scale Factory and a PhD student at the University of Greenwich in London, will share her research into how these many developers and contributors collaborate on the Linux kernel mailing lists, including network visualizations of mailing list interactions between contributors.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla announces a ₹1 crore fund to support Open source projects in India

        Mozilla has announced the launch of “Global Mission Partners: India”, an award program specifically focused on supporting open source and free software.

        The new initiative builds on the existing “Mission Partners” program. Applicants based in India can apply for funding to support any open source/free software projects which significantly further Mozilla’s mission.

      • A ₹1 Crore Fund to Support Open Source Projects in India

        Today Mozilla is announcing the launch of “Global Mission Partners: India”, an award program specifically focused on supporting open source and free software. The new initiative builds on the existing “Mission Partners” program. Applicants based in India can apply for funding to support any open source/free software projects which significantly further Mozilla’s mission.

        Our mission, as embodied in our Manifesto, is to ensure the Internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all; an Internet that truly puts people first, where individuals can shape their own experience and are empowered, safe and independent.

        We know that many other software projects around the world, and particularly in India, share the goals of a free and open Internet with us, and we want to use our resources to help and encourage others to work towards this end.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open source pivotal in digital agenda of German party The Left

      One month before the German federal elections, which take place on 24 September, the socialist party Die Linke (The Left) presented its ’10 Points for a digital agenda’. Open standards and open source play a pivotal role in the transition to what the party calls “Social State 4.0″.

    • France: VAT fraud rules allow free and open source

      The French government has clarified its new rules on combatting VAT fraud to allow the continued use of free and open source software. In June, the Ministry of Public Action and Accounts confirms that the scope of the policy will be limited to cash systems and cash systems software. The update follows meetings with the April advocacy group, which worried that the rules could block the use of VAT systems based on free and open source software.

    • Open source helps Schiphol fly to multi-clouds

      Amsterdam airport Schiphol is utilising open source software to create and use a multi-cloud platform with an open API

      Schiphol airport, just south of Amsterdam, is on a journey underpinned by open source software, with Red Hat helping the Dutch airport along.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Culture: The Hazy Glue Between Music & Technology

      Music industry people claim to know tech, and people who work at technology companies say they understand music. Regardless of how true that is in either case, it’s clear that music and technology are continuing to converge in entirely new ways in the 21st century. But there’s no way anyone can understand how music and tech work together without examining culture, the unifying, nebulous piece between them. After all, no matter how much a business spends on cultural marketing, culture still belongs to humans, not companies — and authentic cultural production happens on a street level, not in a conference room.

      [...]

      Technology advances quickly in large part because of its widely-used open-source cultural model, which encourages an environment where information is shared for the sake of innovation.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Colorado Looks at Open Source Materials to Cut Textbook Cost
      • State to study open source materials to lower textbook costs

        A statewide council is working on how to increase the use of open educational resource materials in colleges to address the high cost of textbooks.

        The council plans to create a digital repository of open educational resources for colleges and to determine how those resources are used in college classrooms across the state. It will make recommendations on how to increase their use.

        Open educational resources can be freely copied and distributed and potentially reduce what students pay each semester.

  • Programming/Development

    • XOD: A New Open Source Visual Programming Language

      To start let’s quickly go over some of the basic fundamentals of what exactly the XOD programming language is before we get into it more in depth. In short, it is a visual programming language that use nodes to allow you to build programs. A node would be any type of blocks that are some sort of a physical operating device (sensor, relay, motor are all types of nodes). So pretty much a node is anything that is a physical representation of many smaller levels of software/hardware working together to create an end, physical object.

    • PHP on the road to the 7.2.0 release

      Version 7.2.0RC1 is released. It’s now enter the stabilisation phase for the developpers, and the test phase for the users.

    • PHP 7.2.0 Release Candidate 1 Released

      The PHP development team announces the immediate availability of PHP 7.2.0 Release Candidate 1. This release is the first Release Candidate for 7.2.0. 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 Release Candidate Arrives

      PHP 7.2 has matured past the alpha and beta stages and is now out with its first release candidate.

      PHP 7.2 is being fitted with the new libsodium extension for better cryptography, a number of bug fixes, updated SQLite, improved error messages, DOM enhancements, and many other changes as outlined in the NEWS file.

    • 3 consequences of coding in the open

      I’d never rule out going back to anything closed source (not that I plan on leaving Reaction!), but working full-time in open source has opened my eyes to a whole new side of things that I’ve truly enjoyed. Absolute transparency has made me a better planner and developer. Having to express my ideas to the world before, during, and after implementing them changes the way I do things. The 24/7 availability is both engrossing and also overwhelming. And finally, working with not just the core team, but our GitHub community, pushes me to make decisions together and grow as a developer.

    • GStreamer Rust bindings release 0.8.0

      As written in the previous blog post, I’m working on nice Rust bindings for GStreamer. Now it’s finally time for the first release, 0.8.0.

      First of all, I should thank Arturo Castro a lot. He worked on the previous GStreamer bindings (versions < 0.8.0), which were all manually written instead of mostly autogenerated like the new ones. As such, the API is now completely different but the old bindings can still be found here.

Leftovers

  • Billionaire Brothers Want to Build a Cheaper Rival to Slack [iophk: "IRC"]

    Flock has set its sights on disrupting a segment where Slack and Microsoft have staked out claims, said Neha Dharia, a senior analyst at Ovum Ltd and its global specialist tracking business collaboration and communication products. Flock’s monthly charges are $3 per user for its premium version while Slack’s per-user charges start from $6.67, according to its website. Both offer a free plan.

  • Science

    • [Older] This is why you can’t put down your phone

      When we stop working on a task to check emails it takes the brain about 23 minutes to get back into the task at hand.

    • Why I Stopped Using Multiple Monitors

      Many developers believe multiple monitors improve productivity. Studies have proven it, right? Well, keep in mind, many of those studies are commissioned from monitor manufacturers like Dell and NEC.

    • For politicians, the more data, the more they ignore

      There are few types of people we like to complain about more than politicians. They’re often painted as two-faced, blockheaded liars—with the possible exception of the ones you voted for. But politicians’ views are typically in line with the bulk of the people who identify with their party, and it’s not always clear whether the politicians are driving their party or if everyone’s just marching to the beat of the same drum.

      After all, politicians’ thought processes shouldn’t be much different from those of voters. All of us are subject to biases and cognitive cheats that block out information we don’t like. Is it fair to hold politicians to a higher standard, given that they’re the people we elect to process decisions carefully for the rest of us?

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • This miracle weed killer was supposed to save farms. Instead, it’s devastating them.

      Clay Mayes slams on the brakes of his Chevy Silverado and jumps out with the engine running, yelling at a dogwood by the side of the dirt road as if it had said something insulting.

      Its leaves curl downward and in on themselves like tiny, broken umbrellas. It’s the telltale mark of inadvertent exposure to a controversial herbicide called dicamba.

      “This is crazy. Crazy!” shouts Mayes, a farm manager, gesticulating toward the shriveled canopy off Highway 61. “I just think if this keeps going on . . .”

      “Everything’ll be dead,” says Brian Smith, his passenger.

      [...]

      After the Environmental Protection Agency approved the updated formulation of the herbicide for use this spring and summer, farmers across the country planted more than 20 million acres of dicamba-resistant soybeans, according to Monsanto.

      But as dicamba use has increased, so too have reports that it “volatilizes,” or re-vaporizes and travels to other fields. That harms nearby trees, such as the dogwood outside Blytheville, as well as nonresistant soybeans, fruits and vegetables, and plants used as habitats by bees and other pollinators.

      According to a 2004 assessment, dicamba is 75 to 400 times more dangerous to off-target plants than the common weed killer glyphosate, even at very low doses. It is particularly toxic to soybeans — the very crop it was designed to protect — that haven’t been modified for resistance.

    • The scheme to pump desert water to L.A. could destroy the Mojave. California’s Legislature needs to block it

      Cadiz Inc. wants to build a pipeline on a railroad right of way and pump groundwater from the Mojave to Los Angeles County and beyond. The company is proposing to drain 50,000 acre-feet of water every year for 50 years — more than five times the aquifer’s natural recharge rate, according to an independent analysis by the U.S. Geological Survey.

    • Column: Flint residents deserve results

      No amount of compensation can make up for the suffering, loss and devastation the people of Flint have endured over the last three years. However, strides can still be made to rebuild trust in the city’s leadership. That is, if officials are willing to finally take the steps necessary to fix Flint once and for all.

    • Researchers estimate lead released from Flint water pipes

      Now, chemical and microscopic analyses of the city’s water pipes reveal a pockmarked pattern that confirms the lead came from corrosion of the pipes. The analysis also allowed the researchers to estimate the amount of lead released into the city’s water system.

    • Flint’s water crisis killed people. Now Michigan officials face manslaughter charges

      Jonathan Masur, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School who teaches both criminal and environmental law, told me the involuntary manslaughter charges are important are because they indicate the length Schuette is willing to go to hold public officials accountable for the water crisis.

    • CDC investigating rare Salmonella outbreak across 13 states—linked to turtles

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an investigation Tuesday into an ongoing outbreak of a rare subtype of Salmonella enterica linked to exposure to pet turtles.

      So far, the outbreak involves 37 cases of Salmonella enterica serovar Agbenia infections across 13 states, which led to 16 people being hospitalized. Overall, 12 of the sickened people are children aged five or younger, an age group particularly vulnerable to the bacteria. No deaths have been reported.

  • Security

    • Angelfire

      Today, August 31st 2017, WikiLeaks publishes documents from the Angelfire project of the CIA. Angelfire is an implant comprised of five components: Solartime, Wolfcreek, Keystone (previously MagicWand), BadMFS, and the Windows Transitory File system. Like previously published CIA projects (Grasshopper and AfterMidnight) in the Vault7 series, it is a persistent framework that can load and execute custom implants on target computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system (XP or Win7).

      Solartime modifies the partition boot sector so that when Windows loads boot time device drivers, it also loads and executes the Wolfcreek implant, that once executed, can load and run other Angelfire implants. According to the documents, the loading of additional implants creates memory leaks that can be possibly detected on infected machines.

      Keystone is part of the Wolfcreek implant and responsible for starting malicious user applications. Loaded implants never touch the file system, so there is very little forensic evidence that the process was ever ran. It always disguises as “C:\Windows\system32\svchost.exe” and can thus be detected in the Windows task manager, if the operating system is installed on another partition or in a different path.

      BadMFS is a library that implements a covert file system that is created at the end of the active partition (or in a file on disk in later versions). It is used to store all drivers and implants that Wolfcreek will start. All files are both encrypted and obfuscated to avoid string or PE header scanning. Some versions of BadMFS can be detected because the reference to the covert file system is stored in a file named “zf”.

      The Windows Transitory File system is the new method of installing AngelFire. Rather than lay independent components on disk, the system allows an operator to create transitory files for specific actions including installation, adding files to AngelFire, removing files from AngelFire, etc. Transitory files are added to the ‘UserInstallApp’.

    • WikiLeaks ‘hacked’ as OurMine group answers ‘hack us’ challenge [Ed: not Wikileaks' fault at all]

      The group appears to have carried out an attack known as “DNS poisoning” for a short while on Thursday morning. Rather than attacking WikiLeaks’ servers directly, they have convinced one or more DNS servers, which are responsible for turning the human-readable “wikileaks.org” web address into a machine-readable string of numbers that tells a computer where to connect, to alter their records. For a brief period, those DNS servers told browsers that wikileaks.org was actually located on a server controlled by OurMine.

    • More Than 700 Million Passwords Exposed in Massive Spambot Data Breach

      In one of the largest data breaches in history, a misconfigured spambot computer program publicly leaked more than 700 million email addresses and passwords, though experts say that repeated or fake email addresses could reduce the number of real people impacted.

    • Eureka! The Intel Management Engine can finally be disabled, thanks to the NSA

      Researchers from security firm, Positive Technologies have just stumbled upon something truly phenomenal. They have found a method to disable the much hated Intel Management Engine (ME) in a way that still allows the computer to boot up. This discovery could potentially secure many businesses and state institutions from being compromised by highly sophisticated malware.

    • A Workaround To Disable Intel Management Engine 11

      Positive Technologies is now reporting on a discovery by one of their researches to be able to disable Intel Management Engine 11 (Skylake era) after discovering an undocumented mode.

      The security researchers discovered “an undocumented PCH strap that can be used to switch on a special mode disabling the main Intel ME functionality at an early stage.” Those wanting to learn more can read this blog post.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Quebec man fights back after dealer remotely disables car over $200 fee

      A car dealership in Sherbrooke, Que., may have broken the law when it used a GPS device to disable the car of a client who was refusing to pay an extra $200 fee, say consumer advocates consulted by CBC News.

      [...]

      “To turn off somebody’s vehicle after he had already paid off the loan is clearly illegal … it’s not your car anymore,” Iny said.

    • 465k patients told to visit doctor to patch critical pacemaker vulnerability

      Talk about painful software updates. An estimated 465,000 people in the US are getting notices that they should update the firmware that runs their life-sustaining pacemakers or risk falling victim to potentially fatal hacks.

      Cardiac pacemakers are small devices that are implanted in a patient’s upper chest to correct abnormal or irregular heart rhythms. Pacemakers are generally outfitted with small radio-frequency equipment so the devices can be maintained remotely. That way, new surgeries aren’t required after they’re implanted. Like many wireless devices, pacemakers from Abbott Laboratories contain critical flaws that allow hijackers within radio range to seize control while the pacemakers are running.

    • FDA alerts on pacemaker recall for cyber flaw

      The FDA issued an alert Aug. 29 regarding manufacturer Abbott’s recall notice affecting six pacemaker devices. The recall is for firmware updates that will “reduce the risk of patient harm due to potential exploitation of cybersecurity vulnerabilities,” the FDA wrote in its alert.

    • FCC “apology” shows anything can be posted to agency site using insecure API

      The Federal Communications Commission’s website already gets a lot of traffic—sometimes more than it can handle. But thanks to a weakness in the interface that the FCC published for citizens to file comments on proposed rule changes, there’s a lot more interesting—and potentially malicious—content now flowing onto one FCC domain. The system allows just about any file to be hosted on the FCC’s site—potentially including malware.

    • Inside an Epic Hotel Room Hacking {sic} Spree

      Even after my article on Brocious’ lock hacking and his high-profile Las Vegas reveal, Onity didn’t patch the security flaw in its millions of vulnerable locks. In fact, no software patch could fix it. Like so many other hardware companies that increasingly fill every corner of modern society with tiny computers, Onity was selling a digital product without much of a plan to secure its future from hackers. It had no update mechanism for its locks. Every one of the electronic boards inside of them would need to be replaced. And long after Brocious’ revelation, Onity announced that it wouldn’t pay for those replacements, putting the onus on its hotel customers instead. Many of those customers refused to shell out for the fix—$25 or more per lock depending on the cost of labor—or seemed to remain blissfully unaware of the problem.

      [...]

      and demanded Cashatt’s entire communication history from Facebook.

    • How I lost 17,000 GitHub Auth Tokens in One Night

      Turns out that there was a bug in my logic but not necessarily my code. After all, it did run flawlessly for a few years. So if my code was fine, where was the bug?

      Looking at the update time of some of the records, I was able to place them roughly around the time of another event: A GitHub outage.

    • 7 Things to Know About Today’s DDoS Attacks

      Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks continue to be a weapon of choice among threat actors seeking to extort money from victims, disrupt operations, conceal data-exfiltration activities, further hacktivist causes, or even to carry out cyberwar.

      What was once a threat mostly to ISPs and organizations in the financial services, e-commerce, and gaming industry, has become a problem for businesses of all sizes. A small company is just as likely these days to become a target of a DDoS attack, as a big one — and for pretty much the same reasons.

    • Security ROI isn’t impossible, we suck at measuring

      As of late I’ve been seeing a lot of grumbling that security return on investment (ROI) is impossible. This is of course nonsense. Understanding your ROI is one of the most important things you can do as a business leader. You have to understand if what you’re doing makes sense. By the very nature of business, some of the things we do have more value than other things. Some things even have negative value. If we don’t know which things are the most important, we’re just doing voodoo security.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Is it Wrong to Blame Islam?
    • Myanmar: 71 Die in Militant Attacks on Police, Border Posts

      Muslim militants in Myanmar staged a coordinated attack on 30 police posts and an army base in Rakhine state on Friday, and at least 59 of the insurgents and 12 members of the security forces were killed, the army and government said.

    • All Europe can bring itself to do is “pray for Barcelona”

      But not because Islamic fanatics dream of regaining Spain or killing Westerners on the Ramblas. We are finished because it has become fashionable in the West to romanticize the Islamic past of Spain, to treat the Catholics of Reconquista as fanatics and to present the lost caliphate as a paradise of tolerance. Islamic fanatics consider history, culture, religion and symbols much more seriously than we do. In this sense, we are finished!

    • Kenyan Christians killed for refusing to recite Islamic Shahada

      The three men were held at machete point and ordered to recite the Shahada. When none of them did, the attackers began to tie them up. When the men resisted, they were hacked to death. Then the attackers went to the home of Joseph’s older brother, Charo, who was in his late forties, and killed him.

    • Boko Haram militants ramp up attacks on refugee shelters in northeast Nigeria

      The Islamists are seeking softer targets – such as camps hosting the displaced – as Nigeria’s military offensive against the group intensifies, said the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

    • Exclusive: Nigeria’s Chibok girls say kidnap by Boko Haram was accidental

      A few others have escaped or been rescued, but about 113 of the girls are believed to be still held by the militant group.

    • The Same Ol’ Afghan War Fallacies

      Trump used the term safe haven four times in his speech. He declared that the basic purpose of the military expedition in Afghanistan was, “We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America.”

      One hears this same idea over and over. The current U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, General John W. Nicholson, Jr., says, “The requirement to keep pressure on these terror groups to prevent another attack on our homeland .?.?. fundamentally, that is why we are here.” Such statements — and not only about Afghanistan — are minor rephrasing of the old notion of “fight them over there or else we’ll have to fight them at home.”

    • US Military Battles Syrian Rebels Armed by CIA

      US ground troops were attacked outside of the Syrian city of Manbij today, according to coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon. They came under fire from Syrian rebels allied with Turkey, and US forces returned fire before fleeing back into Manbij.

    • NYT Only the Latest Corporate Media Outlet to Give Free Publicity to Mercenary Profiteer

      The New York Times (8/30/17) decided to turn over a large chunk of the most precious opinion space in the English-speaking world to mercenary entrepreneur Erik Prince, so he could promote his plan to privatize and profit from the US occupation of Afghanistan.

      Though the Times did disclose in its bio of Prince that he was “the chairman of Frontier Services Group,” and “founded the company formerly known as Blackwater, a security contractor,” it never specified his direct profit motive in the plan. Perhaps it was thought to be implied, since Prince says the strategy is his, but the average reader could understandably miss what, exactly, “Frontier Services Group” does to generate revenue.

    • Gov’t Must Pay Legal Fees In Court Battle Over ‘Secret’ Drone Docs Gov’t Couldn’t Stop Talking About

      The government will be paying its opponent’s legal fees after needlessly drawing out FOIA litigation, the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court has decided [PDF]. The First Amendment Coalition sued the Department of Justice after it refused to produce documents discussing the legal rationale for extrajudicial drone strikes targeting American citizens.

      The legal memo FAC sought was the same legal memo the ACLU and New York Times sued the DOJ for refusing to release. (Or so the FAC thought. But its litigation — along with the ACLU/NYT litigation — made it clear the government was holding on to more than one legal memo.) In the NYT/ACLU case, the Second Circuit Court told the DOJ to cough up its justification for killing Anwar al-Awlaki, pointing to several public comments made about the drone strike by prominent US government officials. The court wasn’t interested in the DOJ’s arguments something publicly discussed frequently would be too “sensitive” to put in the hands of the ACLU and New York Times.

      The DOJ made the same arguments in this case, but the Second Circuit decision undoes its attempt to fend off FAC’s legal fees claims. Factoring into the Ninth’s conclusions is the leak of a white paper by the US government providing its legal analysis of extrajudicial drone strikes. This was then followed by an official release of the same white paper.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • FBI says lack of public interest in Hillary emails justifies withholding documents

      Hillary Clinton’s case isn’t interesting enough to the public to justify releasing the FBI’s files on her, the bureau said this week in rejecting an open-records request by a lawyer seeking to have the former secretary of state punished for perjury.
      Ty Clevenger has been trying to get Mrs. Clinton and her personal attorneys disbarred for their handling of her official emails during her time as secretary of state. He’s met with resistance among lawyers, and now his request for information from the FBI’s files has been shot down.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Kuwait’s inferno: how will the world’s hottest city survive climate change?
    • California Proves That Environmental Regulations Don’t Kill Profits

      For the past nine years, a Golden State-centric think tank Next 10 has been releasing its California Green Innovation Index. The results this year show a continuing trend: For two and a half decades, California’s GDP and population have continued to rise, while per capita carbon dioxide emissions have stayed flat.

    • Feds urge judge not to shut down Dakota Access pipeline during review

      Government lawyers are urging a federal judge not to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline while regulators conduct a new environmental review of the project because there is a “serious possibility” the review will reaffirm the pipeline’s earlier permits.

    • Dakota Access Pipeline Owner Sues Greenpeace For ‘Criminal Activity’

      The developer behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, which for months drew thousands of protesters, has sued Greenpeace and several other environmental groups for their role in delaying the pipeline’s construction. In the racketeering lawsuit it filed in federal court Tuesday, Energy Transfer Partners alleges these groups inflicted “billions of dollars in damage” with their “criminal activity and campaigns of misinformation” against the pipeline.

    • Port: Whoa: Dakota Access Pipeline owners file racketeering lawsuit against #NoDAPL activists

      Anyway, today Energy Transfer Partners (the company behind DAPL) filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing some of the environmental groups involved in the protests of racketeering.

    • Dakota Access owner accuses green groups of inciting terrorism

      The owner of the Dakota Access oil pipeline sued environmental groups Tuesday, accusing them of fraud, racketeering, inciting terrorism and other charges stemming from their opposition to the project.

    • In the heartland, a David and Goliath battle over a pipeline

      Nebraska is just about the last bureaucratic hurdle before giant excavators begin to slice open the ground to insert 1,179-miles of 36-inch pipe four feet underground. An outnumbered but stubborn group of farmers, ranchers, Native Americans, and environmentalists staged a furious last-stand defense of their pipeline opposition this month in Lincoln, where the Nebraska Public Service Commission held hearings.

    • Public transportation is key to honoring the Paris Agreement

      We know that making the switch to public transportation can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing a low-emissions alternative to driving. The average passenger vehicle produces about 1 lb. of carbon dioxide per mile traveled whereas bus transit only produces .18 lbs. of CO2 at full capacity. By the year 2020, when the first round of long-term plans are due from countries participating on the Paris Agreement, it’s estimated that more than 50 percent of carbon emissions could be abated by “the combined impact of second-generation biofuel, traffic flow, shifts to public transportation, and eco-driving measures.”

    • Brazilian court blocks abolition of vast Amazon reserve

      A Brazilian court has blocked an attempt by the president, Michel Temer, to open up swaths of the Amazon forest to mining companies after an outcry by environmental campaigners and climate activists.

      The federal judge Rolando Valcir Spanholo said the president went beyond his authority in issuing a decree to abolish Renca, an area of 46,000 sq km (17,760 sq miles) that has been protected since 1984.

      Approving an injunction requested by public prosecutors, the judge said the dissolution of Renca (more formally known as the National Reserve of Copper and Associates) could only be done by Congress.

    • Mosquitoes with West Nile virus found in 4 more Pittsburgh neighborhoods

      Recent samples of mosquitoes collected from the North Side, Lawrenceville, South Side Slopes and Knoxville tested positive for the virus, according to a county news release.

    • Worries about a Galveston Bio-Lab

      Concern is rising for the safety of a biological lab containing deadly diseases on Galveston island, which has been hit by the massive storm devastating southeast Texas.

      The Galveston National Laboratory on the campus of the University of Texas Medical Branch contains samples of hundreds of viruses, insects and microbes, which could spread extreme danger if they were to escape. There are several Bio-safety Level 4 labs at Galveston. BSL-4 is the highest level precaution taken for work with agents that can be transmitted through the air and cause fatal diseases in humans for which there are no known cures.

    • 538 hot spots detected as Indonesia gears up for peak of dry season in September

      The bulk of the fires were detected in West Kalimantan province (193 hot spots) and Papua (143), while the areas closest to Singapore, such as South Sumatra (8), Riau (3) and Jambi (1), were largely spared, according to figures released by the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) on Tuesday (Aug 22) .

    • Central Kalimantan latest Indonesian province to declare state of emergency on forest fires

      Hotspots have also continued to increase across the archipelago.

    • Sixth Indonesian province declares emergency as fires spread

      The number of dry season fires burning across Indonesia has jumped to more than 500 and a sixth province has declared a state of emergency, the disaster mitigation agency said Tuesday.

    • >Alaska’s Permafrost Is Thawing

      Once this ancient organic material thaws, microbes convert some of it to carbon dioxide and methane, which can flow into the atmosphere and cause even more warming. Scientists have estimated that the process of permafrost thawing could contribute as much as 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit to global warming over the next several centuries, independent of what society does to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels and other activities.

    • It’s Time To Ditch The Concept Of ‘100-Year Floods’

      [...] a “100-year flood” is not a flood that you should expect to happen only once every 100 years. Instead, it refers to a flood that has a 1 percent chance of happening in any given year. Over the course of a 30-year mortgage, a house in a 100-year floodplain has a 26 percent chance of being inundated at least once.

    • New study: We’re outpacing the most radical climate event we know of

      If we want to know what to expect from our climate as it continues to warm over the next few centuries, looking at similar examples of climate change in Earth’s past would be helpful. But there certainly haven’t been any similar temperature excursions in the instrumental record. Using indirect measures, we can tell that there probably haven’t been any since the last ice age. Even the exit from that ice age isn’t especially relevant; while the planet warmed considerably, it was driven by a complicated mixture of orbital changes, greenhouse gases, and melting ice.

    • Power company kills nuclear plant, plans $6 billion in solar, battery investment

      On Tuesday, power provider Duke Energy Florida announced a settlement with the state’s public service commission (PSC) to cease plans to build a nuclear plant in western Florida. The utility instead intends to invest $6 billion in solar panels, grid-tied batteries, grid modernization projects, and electric vehicle charging areas. The new plan involves the installation of 700MW of solar capacity over four years in the western Florida area.

      There’s excitement from the solar industry, but the announcement is more bad news for the nuclear industry. Earlier this year, nuclear reactor company Westinghouse declared bankruptcy as construction of its new AP1000 reactors suffered from contractor issues and a stringent regulatory environment. Two plants whose construction was already underway—the Summer plant in South Carolina and the Vogtle plant in Georgia—found their futures in question immediately.

      At the moment, Summer’s owners are considering abandoning the plant, and Vogtle’s owners are weighing whether they will do the same or attempt to salvage the project.

  • Finance

    • Corporate Tax Cuts Don’t Create Jobs, They Enrich CEOs

      A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies shows this isn’t true. US companies are already paying minimal amounts in corporate taxes, and the ones most likely under Republican theory to pour tax savings into job creation have instead been more likely to cut their workforce over the past nine years. The data shows that low corporate tax rates more often lead to increases in CEO pay and boosts for shareholders.

    • Will Brexit Lead to a ‘Brexodus’?

      When Britons voted to leave the European Union last year, they did so in part so they could have more control over European immigration into the United Kingdom—giving them the power to decide who can come live and study and in the U.K., and who can’t.

      “We are not leaving the European Union only to give up control of immigration again,” Prime Minister Theresa May, whose Conservative party pledged to reduce overall immigration to below 100,000 per year, told fellow Tory lawmakers at their party’s conference in October. “We have voted to leave the European Union and become a fully independent, sovereign country. We will do what independent, sovereign countries do. We will decide for ourselves how we control immigration.”

    • Theresa May wants to copy and paste deals the EU has already signed after Brexit

      Britain wants copycat trade deals which have been shaped by the EU, Theresa May admitted today.

      The Prime Minister laid out Brexit plans to copy and paste a raft of pacts signed by Brussels with other nations – rather than negotiate specialised arrangements.

      The switch – announced as Mrs May jetted on a trade trip to Japan – marks the latest blow to Tory boasts about Britain striking out on its own after Brexit.

      In a second blow, the government conceded reports that Japan is prioritising an EU deal over any trade pact with Britain. “It is right Japan focuses on concluding that deal,” a government spokesperson said.

    • Brexit-fuelled energy efficiency myths

      Despite negative reports in the British press, EU regulations that cut the amount of energy wasted by household appliances are overwhelmingly popular throughout the UK, writes Dr Jonathan Marshall.

      Dr Jonathan Marshall is an energy analyst at the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit, a non-profit organisation. This opinion piece was first published on the ECIU’s blog.

      As reliable as night following day, or Arsenal’s first capitulation of the season pushing fans over the edge, the Daily Express is outraged by ‘bonkers’ EU energy efficiency regulations.

    • UK Brexit charm offensive falls flat

      It was meant to be a charm offensive directed at national capitals across Europe to help smooth the Brexit negotiations — but the British government’s decision to hold confidential briefing sessions for EU ambassadors in London appears to have fallen flat.

      In the last two weeks, the U.K. held two such events in a bid to explain London’s negotiating positions on key issues ahead of the latest round of Brexit talks, which are now underway in Brussels. If the effort was intended to win a sympathetic ear, it flopped.

    • Now Comes the Uncomfortable Question: Who Gets to Rebuild After Harvey?

      In the decade-plus since Katrina, Houston has been debating what it needs in order to protect itself from a catastrophic weather event. While that conversation has gone on, the city did what most cities do, carried on business as usual, constructing more than 7,000 residential buildings directly in Harris County’s FEMA-designated flood plain since 2010.

      That kind of construction spree, which was detailed in a prescient investigation by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune last year, is not just head-slapping in hindsight, it actually produces its own greater risks, as it means paving over the kinds of wetlands that can help buffer against extreme flooding events.

      But from a financial perspective, there was a logic behind those 7,000 buildings, as each is eligible for subsidized flood protection through the National Flood Insurance Program, a federal program that just so happens to be expiring at the end of September, meaning debate over its re-authorization will compete for time with everything else on a packed fall congressional calendar.

    • A new t-shirt sewing robot can make as many shirts per hour as 17 factory workers

      Sewing simple items of clothing is one of those repetitive, labor-intensive tasks that seems like it would have been automated ages ago. But getting a robot to do it right is tricky. Fabric stretches, especially the comfy, flexible knits used for t-shirts. A human can easily adjust on the spot, guiding the fabric as it moves around to make sure seams stay straight, but robots aren’t always great at that sort of improvisation. (Putting shoelaces on sneakers is similarly challenging.)

    • Why male unemployment rates should scare women

      ‘Money is power, and when men are denied power in one area, they’ll try to claim it in another’

    • When Male Unemployment Rates Rise, So Do Sexual Harassment Claims

      Controlling for the change in the number of other types of discrimination complaints made to the EEOC (race discrimination complaints are the most common type), a higher level of unemployment among married men leads to more sex discrimination complaints — but only when their unemployment is equal to or higher than that of women. For instance, if women have an unemployment rate of 6% (right around the mean for the time period covered), there are fewer sex discrimination complaints in the state than in the previous year if men have an unemployment rate of 2% or 4% — but there’s more reported sex discrimination than in the previous year if men have an unemployment rate of 6% or 8%.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Saudi Arabia ‘bribes’ Egyptian journalists with free Hajj visas

      Saudi Arabia is giving free Hajj visas to 1,000 Egyptian journalists and their families in an attempt to lobby media coverage on the handing of two Red Sea islands to the kingdom, a source at the Saudi embassy in Cairo told The New Arab.

    • The Democratic National Committee’s abysmal fundraising

      The committee has also seen its debts rise to $3.4 million. Combining its cash on hand with its debt, the DNC was $7.4 million in the black shortly after Perez took over at the end of February and is now just $3.4 million in the black.

    • Gerrymandering is ruining our democracy. Will television news ever care?

      A yearlong Media Matters study found that cable news shows brought up gerrymandering in only five segments between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017. During that same time period, broadcast morning news programs and nightly newscasts didn’t discuss gerrymandering at all. And this isn’t a new trend; for years, media have shown a reluctance to discuss gerrymandering and redistricting. Given the outsized influence partisan and racial gerrymandering has on American democracy, these issues deserve more coverage.

    • Turkey’s Erdogan calls German leaders ‘enemies’

      Germany will hold a general election on 24 September, and about one million ethnic Turks living in Germany can vote. A majority of them backed Mr Erdogan in an April referendum.

    • Iran-born AfD politician investigated over Islamophobia accusations

      Hadjimohamadvali was born in Iran and has said that she fled to Germany to get away from Islam in the 1980s after the 1979 Iranian Revolution led to the establishment of an Islamic Republic.

    • The Sordid Double Life of Washington’s Most Powerful Ambassador

      Roman Paschal recalled about seven women to choose from. They dropped their long cloaks, he said, revealing “nightclub clothes” underneath. He picked a woman who turned out to be from Romania.

      Paschal had been flown to the United Arab Emirates by his friend Yousef Al Otaiba, in whose apartment they were gathered. It was the winter of 2003-2004, and Otaiba was a rising star in the UAE, though still a few years away from becoming the nation’s ambassador to the United States.

      He had recently befriended Otaiba at a Washington, D.C., strip club, quickly becoming a charter member of a tightknit crew that the Emirati once affectionately referred to as “team ‘Alpha.’” This was Paschal’s introduction to the high-flying life Otaiba led. And it wouldn’t be his last. For four years, he partied with Otaiba in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, and Abu Dhabi, with Otaiba footing the eye-popping bills.

      Paschal dropped out of the group of friends in 2007, but the lifestyle from their days together would eventually collide with Otaiba’s public life. In 2008, Otaiba hired an original member of his partying crew, his college buddy Byron Fogan, to run a personal foundation with millions of dollars in UAE funding. He also arranged for Fogan to be simultaneously employed by the embassy as a legal adviser, and by the Washington public relations firm, The Harbour Group, working on behalf of the UAE.

      After Fogan was arrested for pilfering more than $1 million dollars from the foundation, he told prosecutors that secret alcohol and gambling addictions had driven his crime. With the foundation defunct, Otaiba paid Fogan’s legal bills and kept him on in his two remaining roles with the embassy as he awaited sentencing. Emails obtained by The Intercept, spanning more than a decade of Otaiba’s interactions with Fogan, suggest the ambassador was anything but unaware of Fogan’s habits.

    • May Says She’ll Run for Re-Election. Tories Laugh in Reply
    • Weather Underground Members Speak Out on the Media, Imperialism and Solidarity in the Age of Trump

      Seven months into the so-called administration of President Donald Trump, things are going further off the rails with each passing day. From the fires of war to attacks on health care to the stoking of the white supremacist far right, living in the bowels of a rotting empire has, perhaps, never been as intense.

      As questions swirl around the nature of contemporary resistance, another period of rising protest comes to mind: the Vietnam-war era, when radical political activism in this country reached new levels.

      In 1970, the Weather Underground Organization (WUO), a group that emerged out of Students for a Democratic Society, issued a “Declaration of a State of War” against the US government, and shortly thereafter began carrying out bombings against symbols of US Empire, including even the Pentagon itself. Targeting mostly government buildings and several banks — and taking care not to injure human beings — the actions were designed to “bring the war home” in order to highlight imperial injustices against the oppressed, and the egregious violence of US imperialism.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Air Force Vet Admitted To Leaking NSA Documents, But Her Confession Might Not Count In Court
    • Fmr. NSA contractor in leak case wants FBI admission suppressed

      A former government contractor charged with leaking classified U.S. documents is asking a federal judge to rule that comments she made to FBI agents before her arrest can’t be used as evidence.

      Reality Winner is charged with copying a classified report and mailing it to an online media organization. The initial criminal complaint against the former Air Force linguist says she admitted to leaking the documents in a June interview with FBI agents serving a search warrant at her apartment in August, Georgia.

    • Low-tech privacy breach earns Aetna lawsuit for revealing HIV patients

      It seems like we hear about a new data breach every day. Today, we’re bringing news of yet another—but this one happened in the old-school sense of the term. And it has earned the Aetna insurance giant a class-action lawsuit.

    • Federal Court Says Warrants Are Needed For Stingray Deployment

      The DOJ — despite issuing its own guidance requiring warrants for Stingrays in 2015 — argued in court earlier this year that no warrant was needed to deploy the Stingray to locate a shooting suspect. It actually recommended the court not reach a conclusion on the Fourth Amendment implications of Stingray use, as it had plenty of warrant exceptions at the ready — mainly the “exigent circumstances” of locating a suspect wanted for a violent crime.

      Unfortunately for the federal government (and all other law enforcement agencies located in the court’s jurisdiction), the court declined the DOJ’s offer to look the other way on Constitutional issues. It found a Stingray’s impersonation of cell tower to obtain real-time location information is a search under the Fourth Amendment.

    • Tech giants will learn to respect Indian laws, says Ravi Shankar Prasad

      The order said that called for need to regulation regarding the extent to which information of a person can be stored, processed and used by non-state actors. “There is also a need for protection of such information from the State,” the apex court said. Prasad said that the government has formed a committee to give its recommendation for a robust data protection framework in the country.

    • Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are going to work together
    • Microsoft and Amazon link to create Alexa and Cortana Inception Metacrisis

      We’re still completely at a loss as to who this actually helps.

    • Student Privacy Tips for Teachers

      The new school year starts next week for most schools across the country. As part of the first line of defense in protecting student privacy, teachers need to be ready to spot the implications of new technology and advocate for their students’ privacy rights.

      Our student privacy report offers recommendations for several stakeholder groups. In this post, we’ll focus specifically on teachers. Teachers play the role of intermediaries between students and the technology being deployed in classrooms. In addition to administering technology directly to students, teachers can integrate digital literacy and privacy education across their existing curricula.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Why 1 Anarchist Is Choosing Jail Over Grand-Jury Testimony

      Aside from Liberia, the United States is the only country under common law to continue to use grand juries in order to bring criminal indictments.

    • Draconian Immigration Law Hangs in the Balance as Texas Recovers from Harvey

      When a storm like Hurricane Harvey hits, it’s not easy for impacted communities to get back on their feet. In addition to dealing with the potential mental and physical trauma that comes with the storm, they have to assess damage to their houses and cars and file endless insurance claims. But in Texas, where 1.7 million people are immigrants without proper legal documents, there’s one more thing to worry about: an anti-immigrant law that will outlaw so-called sanctuary cities is set to kick in Friday, September 1.

      The ACLU has challenged the law, and a ruling is expected before he end of the week.

      Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 into law in a Facebook broadcast May 7, sparking outrage from cities across the state, immigrants’ rights activists, and even some police officers. The law, similar in many respects to Arizona’s infamous 2010 “Show Me Your Papers” law, requires local law enforcement agencies to comply with all immigration detainer requests to transfer detained immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody. It also bars municipalities and local and campus police from prohibiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The law specifically requires local entities to allow officers to ask those they arrest or lawfully detain about their immigration status, to share information and cooperate with immigration authorities, and to allow immigration authorities into jails.

      Sheriffs, police chiefs, and jail administrators face misdemeanor charges and fines up to $25,500 for violating the law.

    • The media highlights ‘terrorism’ but not bee stings: an interview with Mo Dawah
    • Here’s “Rape Culture” For You: Cops Cavity-Searching Women On The Roadside

      When Corley refused to remove her clothes in the dimly lit parking lot where she was being detained, one of the officers threw her to the ground, pushed her partially underneath her own car, and yanked Corley’s pants down to her ankles. For the next 11 minutes, dash cam video of the incident shows, she was held down by two officers while being searched. Corley claims that fingers repeatedly probed her vagina and that the officers ignored her protests. A third officer stood nearby holding a flashlight. No drugs were found on Corley’s person.

    • Women in small Muslim sect say they have had FGM in Canada

      The first research of its kind to probe the practice within this tightly knit South Asian community, the study found that 80 per cent of Bohra women surveyed have undergone FGM and two of the study’s 18 Canadian participants said it happened within Canada’s borders.

    • Need To Go Beyond Triple Talaq, Abolish Sharia Law, Says Taslima Nasreen

      Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen today reacted to the Supreme Court verdict abolishing triple talaq, saying while it was “definitely not women’s freedom” there was need to go beyond by doing away with “1400 yrs old Quranic laws”.

    • Why Is the Southern Poverty Law Center Targeting Liberals?
    • Migrant crisis: Facebook publishes torture used to extort ransom

      People smugglers and slave trading gangs are using Facebook to broadcast the abuse and torture of migrants to extort ransom money from their families.

    • Sex offender may face deportation after York sex attack

      He then sexually attacked her and offered her money for sex, according to a CPS summary given to York magistrates two days later.

    • Christian child forced into Muslim foster care

      The five-year-old girl, a native English speaker, has spent the past six months in the care of two Muslim households in London. The foster placements were made, against the wishes of the girl’s family, by the scandal-ridden borough of Tower Hamlets.

    • Yet Another Defeat Of The Inhumane Trumpists

      The state of Texas tried to enforce Trumpist treatment of citizens and others by cities refusing to enforce federal rules about immigration. The cities rebelled at a proposed new law and sued. They won an injunction preventing enforcement tomorrow.

    • No Immunity For Cops Who Arrested Man Recording Them For Obstruction

      A case involving a bogus arrest stemming from a citizen’s attempt to record officers has resulted in the denial of qualified immunity to the officers involved. The Eighth Circuit Appeals Court upheld the lower court’s decision on both First and Fourth Amendment issues.

    • Feds: Man jailed for not decrypting drives has “chutzpah” to ask to get out

      Federal prosecutors wrote to a US judge Wednesday saying that a child-porn suspect jailed for nearly two years for refusing to decrypt his hard drives should remain jailed until he complies with a court order to unlock them. The defendant has a lot of “chutzpah” to even ask to get out of jail while he appeals the contempt-of-court order to the US Supreme Court, prosecutors said in a new court filing.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • 98.5% of unique net neutrality comments oppose Ajit Pai’s anti-Title II plan

      A study funded by Internet service providers has found something that Internet service providers really won’t like.

      The overwhelming majority of people who wrote unique comments to the Federal Communications Commission want the FCC to keep its current net neutrality rules and classification of ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act, according to the study released today.

      The study (available here) was conducted by consulting firm Emprata and funded by Broadband for America, whose members include AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter, CTIA-The Wireless Association, Comcast, NCTA–The Internet & Television Association, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), and USTelecom.

    • 98.5% Of Original Comments To The FCC Oppose Killing Net Neutrality

      Let’s not mince words: the FCC’s plan to gut net neutrality protections in light of severe public opposition is likely one of the more bare-knuckled acts of cronyism in modern technological and political history. That’s because the rules have overwhelming, bipartisan support from the vast majority of consumers, most of whom realize the already imperfect rules are some of the only consumer protections standing between consumers and giant, uncompetitive companies like Comcast. Repealing the rules only serves one interest: that of one of the least liked, least-competitive industries in America.

    • AT&T absurdly claims that most “legitimate” net neutrality comments favor repeal

      Despite a study showing that 98.5 percent of individually written net neutrality comments support the US’s current net neutrality rules, AT&T is claiming that the vast majority of “legitimate” comments favor repealing the rules.

      The Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality docket is a real mess, with nearly 22 million comments, mostly from form letters and many from spam bots using identities stolen from data breaches. AT&T is part of an industry group called Broadband for America that just funded a study that tries to find trends within the chaos.

  • DRM

    • Sega Releases ‘Sonic Mania’ Without Informing PC Customers Of Denuvo Inclusion And Always Online Requirements

      Searching for stories about Sega here at Techdirt results in a seriously mixed bag of results. While the company has managed to be on the right side of history on issues like SOPA and fan-made games, it has also managed to be strongly anti-consumer on game mods and has occasionally wreaked havoc on the YouTube community, all in the name of copyright protectionism. Despite all of this, Sega has gone to some lengths to successfully craft for itself a public image more accessible and likeable than its long-time rival Nintendo.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Between Human Rights And IP: An Interview With Laurence Helfer, Co-Author Of Guide To Marrakesh Treaty Implementation

        When in 2013, in Marrakesh, Morocco, a new World Intellectual Property Organization treaty establishing exceptions and limitations for people with visual impairment was adopted, it was hailed by some as a miracle. Entered into force in 2016, the way states implement the treaty is of major importance for the World Blind Union (WBU) so that the treaty serves its purpose to expand access to books for visually impaired people. On 14 August, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) held its 18th session. During the session, Laurence Helfer delivered a statement [doc] on behalf of the WBU, calling on states to ratify the treaty, and to avoid implementing two optional clauses that permit states to restrict or condition the exercise of the rights granted by the treaty.

      • New Guide Shows How Best To Implement Marrakesh Treaty So Books Are Accessible To Visually Impaired

        The World Blind Union (WBU) has recently issued a guide to the World Intellectual Property Organization treaty providing copyright exceptions for visually impaired people. The treaty was widely hailed, but the way it is implemented could be a gamechanger, and the WBU provides advice to all stakeholders, and in particular governments, so that the treaty is interpreted and implemented to the best interest of the visually impaired. The union also warns against the implementation of two optional provisions, which they say could run counter to the aims of the treaty.

      • Developer Puts Game On The Pirate Bay Because Steam Key Resellers Are The Bigger Evil

        Leaving aside the AAA publishers for a moment, the video game industry is actually starting to get really good on recognizing better ways to react to copyright infringement other than pounding their fists on their tables and knee-capping their customers with DRM. This still occurs, of course, but we’ve also seen stories of publishers treating pirates as potential customers with whom it’s worth connecting, giving away Steam keys on torrent sites, or just playfully messing with pirates instead of screaming at them. These efforts generally are done to the tune of great PR and the humanization of a content company that can only help their businesses.

      • Kim Dotcom Wants K.im to Trigger a “Copyright Revolution”

        Kim Dotcom hopes that his new file-sharing service K.im will create a “copyright revolution.” The platform will offer a secure platform for people to share files and get paid for them while offering copyright holders the option to monetize piracy.

Trump’s USPTO Nominee is a Supporter of Software Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 5:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And proponents of software patents seem pleased, as science and technology were put in the hands of people who understand neither

Trump on nukes

Summary: The US patent office is at risk (if Trump gets his way) of being dominated by law firms rather than people with a background in science and technology

THE administration of Donald Trump is becoming a threat to Alice and to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), both of which led to the demise of software patents in the United States. The latest step towards this was the nomination of Iancu, a person from the legal ‘industry’, not a technical industry. We wrote several articles about him (at least four [1, 2, 3, 4]) because we try to figure out where he stands on key issues. If he becomes USPTO Director, then his personal beliefs (probably tied to his financial interests) can become policies.

“But Iancu does have a high-profile ‘industry’ background… in his law firm. That too they consider to be an industry, albeit not one which produces anything but paperwork.”A proponent of software patents and trolls likes Iancu. He paints him as a blank sheet/slate even though Iancu is not at all new to this area (unlike Battistelli, for instance). “He doesn’t have the high-profile industry background of some recent directors such as David Kappos or Michelle Lee,” IAM wrote, “and has not been politically active like other recent post-holders Bruce Lehman, Todd Dickinson, James Rogan or Jon Dudas. What’s more, Iancu eschewed publicly campaigning for the position and has eschewed all public opportunities to outline where he stands on various key topics.”

But Iancu does have a high-profile ‘industry’ background… in his law firm. That too they consider to be an industry, albeit not one which produces anything but paperwork. His positions are not so mysterious/cryptic at all, for he has written all sorts of things over the years, at times “showing support for software patents,” (without having written a single computer program) based on this new report from Law 360. To quote what wasn’t enveloped behind an impenetrable paywall:

Although he has a relatively low public profile, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office director nominee Andrei Iancu has written extensively on issues he could address during his tenure. From showing support for software patents to pushing back against criticism of the Eastern District of Texas, here are some of the views he has expressed in print.

Iancu, the managing partner of Irell & Manella LLP who was nominated Friday to lead the USPTO, has authored numerous articles in legal journals over the years.

We have reasonable doubts and legitimate reasons to worry about Iancu. Although software patents are collapsing in US courts, the USPTO continues granting a lot of them. Even Free/libre software has been targeted, as in the case of Blockchain [1, 2, 3]. What’s needed at the USPTO right now is a leader who recognises and accepts Alice, hence stopping further granting of software patents.

Blockchain, based on this new report, is being poisoned yet again by a bunch of USPTO patents. To quote:

Leading cryptocurrency startup Coinbase received in mid-August a patent related to a security system for storing and distributing private keys.

The USPTO approved and published the patent on August 15, reports Econotimes.com. Entitled “Key ceremony of a security system forming part of a host computer for cryptographic transactions’, the patent lists former Coinbase engineers James Hudson and Andrew Alness as inventors, CoinDesk reported. The patent application for “key ceremony” was submitted in 2015. The startup has filed a number of patents related to security of private keys in the past.

These are clearly software patents, patent-ineligible under Alice. Why are these still being granted and when will PTAB get around to invalidating them (probably upon petitions)?

EPO Silencers of the Media – Part II: EPO-Funded Vice-President Topić Has Ongoing SLAPP Cases

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

French SLAPP example

French SLAPP

Summary: Misusing deep pockets to suppress the truth, the EPO continues its tradition of bullying reporters and trying to discredit/bankrupt them (sending a chilling signal to the rest of them)

IN part 1 we explained how the EPO — and Team Battistelli in particular — is silencing the media. They use SLAPP tactics — basically tactics which are illegal in some parts of the world.

This series requires a very long time and a great deal of preparation because many documents are in Croatian. The time required to expose the EPO’s war on the media and SLAPPing of journalists is especially long, hence the long intervals between parts.

“They use SLAPP tactics — basically tactics which are illegal in some parts of the world.”Corruption followed by bullying (to silence those who understand this corruption) is not a novel concept; the Mafia does it all the time. Media exposure leads to law enforcement (bar immunity) and that’s what management of the EPO fears most. Exposure; Truth; Facts. Those are the real enemies of the EPO. That’s why EPO management lies in just about every single public statement these days. Liars and crooks is what the EPO’s management has been reduced to.

In the past week alone I’ve received about 3 requests from people close to EPO management; they want names removed from my articles. I declined of course. Remember Elodie Bergot? The French lady who got her job (some argue) due to nepotism alone? Well, as things get hot and heavy she’ll find the brain drain/exodus/HR crisis deepening. People find that the negative publicity associated with the EPO is a liability; EPO careers are not a selling point but a downside. This is just the legacy of Team Battistelli; they harm not only current staff but also former staff or alumni.

“In the past week alone I’ve received about 3 requests from people close to EPO management; they want names removed from my articles.”This series focuses primarily on Croatian affairs; it does not mean that the EPO’s war on the media is limited to that. We have already covered about half a dozen different aspects of this war on media. We’ll revisit the subject in the future, no doubt, but today’s subject will be the court case between Željko Topić and tjedno.hr, a news portal in Croatia.

“We heard that Topić had started a legal action against tjedno.hr,” someone told us earlier this summer. “Tjedno is one of the Croatian “news portals”/newspapers that has published a lot of stuff about Topić’s activities at the DZIV. So it would be interesting to find out more about that case and its current status if documents are available.”

Several years ago we linked to many of these articles; we knew some SLAPPing was going on, but unless some background information could be supplied (including court material) we could not be certain about the underlying details.

“The Tjedno SLAPP case was studied very recently, based on documents and people who understand the language.”Until now.

The Tjedno SLAPP case was studied very recently, based on documents and people who understand the language. “Some information about Topić’s SLAPP case against the Croatian news portal tjedno.hr has become available,” one of our sources told us. “According to the available information, the lawsuit was filed in January 2015 and Topić is seeking damages of 200,000 Croatian Kuna (about 30,000 Euros) plus legal costs. Tjedno filed its reply in May 2016 and the case is still ongoing.”

The new information is currently being evaluated at this end, so more details will be published later.

The Dark Side of WIPO and Attempts to Suppress Information Mirror the EPO’s Tactics

Posted in Australia, Europe, Patents at 3:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Curious new details and bits of information about WIPO help show just how similar it is to the EPO when it comes to serious abuses

THERE are many parallels between what happens at the EPO and what happens in WIPO, except for the fact that both bully bloggers who write about their abuses and never mind the fact that Battistelli tried to be the head of both (at different times).

Someone who is familiar with what happens at WIPO recently got in touch with us. This person wished to tell us about “WIPO Malfeasance”, taking stock of some truly horrible things, having recently read about the “Update on Civil Complaints and Criminal Complaints Against EPO Vice-President Željko Topić in Lufthansa/Airplus Case” (published here a year and a half ago).

“My concern was recent learning of the hostile environment at WIPO and the stress it places on ethical individuals who find themselves isolated and worse if they bring attention to questionable practices engaged in at WIPO by Gurry subordinates.”
      –Anonymous
“I was browsing the web,” told us this person, “regarding information on Francis Gurry at WIPO and whistleblower retaliation and other wrongdoing…”

That’s how this person came across our articles. We certainly hope that more people from within and/or around WIPO will approach us with information. We need to expose what happens in WIPO as well.

“My concern,” the person explained to us, “was recent learning of the hostile environment at WIPO and the stress it places on ethical individuals who find themselves isolated and worse if they bring attention to questionable practices engaged in at WIPO by Gurry subordinates.”

“I am wondering if there is any way to verify the disproportionate amount of personal leave time, suicides, whistleblower events at this agency and if parallels are seen at EPO?”
      –Anonymous
This sounds exactly like the EPO, where Team Battistelli is the equivalent of “Gurry subordinates.”

The person continued: “I am wondering if there is any way to verify the disproportionate amount of personal leave time, suicides, whistleblower events at this agency and if parallels are seen at EPO?”

As far as we know, there have been more suicides at the EPO and little is known about some of them because the EPO denies investigators access. This is where immunity helps pave the way to human suffering and potentially yet more suicides.

I was always very eager to expose these abuses at WIPO, not because I have a grudge against WIPO (I don’t) but because a lot can be learned regarding the EPO and international institutions in general. The immunity which prevails in these institutions actually tends to assure human rights abuses and lack of accountability.

“What was the French investigation and why was Gurry allowed to freeze the office and remove emails from the spouse … Much like the cozy link with Swiss police to illegally obtain staff DNA?”
      –Anonymous
“My concern was to expose the corruption that led to ‘suicide’ of ethics officer when he was placed in a no-win position of reporting to director who was above the ethics consideration and was ruthless and vindictive in squashing complaints,” our source told us. “There is a question in my mind if this was a suicide … What was the French investigation and why was Gurry allowed to freeze the office and remove emails from the spouse … Much like the cozy link with Swiss police to illegally obtain staff DNA?”

This is new to us. It suggests that even people fairly high up at WIPO (who were contacted about this) are not entirely sure it was a suicide.

At the EPO, as sources often told us, people were pushed to suicide by bullying. The Office likes to bully people, either legally (legal aggression) or by so-called ‘interrogation’ which defies international law.

To merely compare WIPO and the EPO does not suggest things are identical; we’re trying to determine what patterns exist which helps explain symptoms. There’s no ‘competition’ over who’s more abusive; both institutions can be evil. Both can be rogue.

“What were the arrangements made to open patent satellite centers in Russia and China — how aware were member companies?”
      –Anonymous
“A lot of this is public information,” our source told us. “The issue of the health records at these organisations is difficult to vet. The staff morale will be easy to get individually — except that most of the staff do not want a record that will expose them to retaliatory attacks. The public record hints at the environment. This seems to again a case of “absolute power in an organisation corrupts absolutely” — I wonder if anyone has has been able to follow a money trail as WIPO has its own budget source. What were the arrangements made to open patent satellite centers in Russia and China — how aware were member companies? It seems that Russia and China want access to early knowledge of technology trends and there could be a way to at the [very] least monitor the most recent information — a leaky gate could benefit these countries — so what safeguards did WIPO do for this highly valuable information — why the secrecy to their member states and who made these decisions and why the ones taken. Yes, it seems there is smoke.

“I just see dysfunction and a narcissist in charge and wonder why there is so much retaliation when some of his questionable practices are exposed. Suspicious this is just the tip of the iceberg.

“So other than three whistleblowers — your article [see above] — it seems there is the unusual actions of US to discipline WIPO by cutting funding by 15% — there is Australia starting to separate itself.

“I just see dysfunction and a narcissist in charge and wonder why there is so much retaliation when some of his questionable practices are exposed.”
      –Anonymous
“This guy [Gurry, an Australian] has made his deals — what were they and how many other people have been crushed as they blocked his questionable dictatorial practices — some of which exposed an illegal nature. How many other activities. Besides the power — were there kick backs — staring contracts to friends is minor (reported for only a minor slap)..”

We have already covered similar things at the EPO too. The resemblance is difficult to ignore.

“I only recently found out about this swamp through a personal connection,” the source continued, “and wondered how to expose the mess and help the employees. It seems a similar situation to the dysfunction the US civil service has in dealing with their new ranting president.” (Trump)

“A benevolent dictator is the most efficient structure — however failings in perfect benevolence can be disastrous. ”
      –Anonymous
Although we are often discouraged (by readers) from making political analogies, no doubt these are inherently political matters. Politics cannot be refrained from. Battistelli is in fact a politician with a clear political affiliation. Today, in our IRC channels, an Australian also explained how WIPO ties into Australian politics. “Most people have no clue how many countries have WIPO offices as, like with Australia, the branch in that country is not named WIPO,” he explained. “Australia has a branch office,” he insisted, linking to this reference page.

Going back to our source and the motivations for sharing it: “I do not see why these should not be questions for the public to think about. Also, the criminal activities you report from EPO make one wonder what about these Patent organisations has such a lax oversight — when one would think extra precautions are needed, i.e. who watches the watchers? Is there a fundamental flaw in the organisational structure where autocratic characters rise quickly and are tempted by corrupt shortcuts? A benevolent dictator is the most efficient structure — however failings in perfect benevolence can be disastrous. So my musings were to encourage your questions and to keep the pressure on WIPO — hoping to empower those in unfair stressful situations, clip Gurry’s powers and try and get a fair look by justice officials.

“…real people’s lives are being hurt and there are much better ways to run the organisations.”
      –Anonymous
“I feel strongly that some daylight should be shone on these activities and individuals — real people’s lives are being hurt and there are much better ways to run the organisations. I am frustrated by abuses of power and trust. I would not be surprised [if] there is significant hidden questionable compensation for shady deals.”

Recall what Team Battistelli did some months ago. They’re taking massive bonuses for themselves and often use these bonuses to wage legal war against the media — all this in order to discourage reporting about their wrongdoing. We’ll write more about that later today.

If someone out there has more information about WIPO, please get in touch. We would like to know what Gurry and his ilk try so hard to hide from the public.

08.30.17

Australian Government Cracks Down on Patent Maximalism, Dealing a Blow to Parasitic Firms

Posted in Australia, Patents at 6:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Parasitic creature

Summary: Following recommendations from the Productivity Commission, the government of Australia decides to limit the scope of patents because currently the “system imposes significant costs on third parties and the broader Australian community.”

THE USPTO together with PTAB is improving patent quality. It’s a much-needed improvement.

Last year we wrote about half a dozen articles about the findings of the Productivity Commission in Australia, demonstrating the dangers of patent maximalism, including software patents. The study has not been merely shelved or ignored. In fact, a site of patent maximalists (with new articles like this one) openly bemoans rather than reports a decision in Australia to help SMEs rather than parasitic law firms. To quote what it said yesterday:

The Australian government will abolish the innovation patent system in a bid to bring the country in line with international standards.

In its response to the Australian Productivity Commission’s inquiry into intellectual property, the government agreed that the innovation system is “unlikely to provide net benefits to the Australian community or to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)”.

Innovation patents are akin to utility models in that they have a shorter lifespan than traditional patents—eight years, in Australia’s case—and have lower thresholds for inventiveness.

“The commission found that the majority of SMEs who use the innovation patent system do not obtain value from it, and that the system imposes significant costs on third parties and the broader Australian community.”

That’s a good thing, not a bad thing. The Australian government, having studied some facts (not lobbying from the patent ‘industry’), has reportedly decided “to raise the inventive step threshold” in patents, IAM said yesterday. IAM is of course complaining:

The government will also ask Parliament to raise the inventive step threshold for standard patents and insert language in the patent statute that emphasises the technical/technological features of an invention, through the following three amendments to the Patents Act 1990…

Does that mean the end of software patents in Australia? Meanwhile in New Zealand, where the subject of software patents was hotly debated for years, patent bullying may be about to become easier. As Managing IP has just put it:

The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) became a participant patent office in the global patent prosecution highway (GPPH) on July 6. IP practitioners in New Zealand point out that the GPPH provides an accelerated option, but not acceptance of a patent. They also stress that use of the GPPH may not result in the broadest possible claims as claims need to sufficiently correspond to those found allowable

This does not impact patent scope, but it certainly favours more litigation or prosecution. It often means rushed examination, too.

The bottom line is, the above patent maximalism sites were quick (if not first) to report what seems like substantial improvements in patent quality. They are not pleased about it, but people who work in the area of science and technology definitely gained at the expense of the patent ‘industry’ (the patent microcosm).

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