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10.04.17

Links 4/10/2017: OpenSSH 7.6, Mesa 17.2.2, FreeBSD 10.4

Posted in News Roundup at 11:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Comcast: Open Source Program Success Depends on Business Strategy Alignment

    Comcast’s involvement in open source was a gradual process that evolved over time. The company eventually created two open source program offices, one for the NBC business and another for the cable side of the business, which is the subject of this profile.

  • How FinTech Company Europace Is Modeling Its Corporate Structure on Open Source Principles

    Concepts such as decentralizing strategy, delegating direction, and fierce transparency in communication are part of the backbone of successful open source projects. In my presentation at Open Source Summit EU in Prague, I will explore how these concepts are not only applicable to volunteer-run organizations but can also help growing corporations avoid some of the coordination overhead that often comes with growing teams and organizations.

    We’ll look at some of the key aspects of how project members collaborate at The Apache Software Foundation (ASF). After that, we’ll take a closer look at German FinTech company Europace AG, which decided to move toward self-organization two years ago. We’ll highlight parallels between Europace AG’s organizing approaches and those of open source projects.

  • Software Freedom Day observed

    As the city was in the midst of various programmes to mark Gandhi Jayanti on Monday, the district resource centre of the Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) at Jagathy was engaged in an unrelated, yet purposeful, venture.

    The office was buzzing with activity as many people turned up, armed with their laptops, to observe Software Freedom Day by resolving to switch over from proprietary software to free and open-source software (or FOSS). Officials of KITE (formerly IT@School project) also installed, free of cost, the GNU/Linux-based operating system Ubuntu, customised for the IT@School project, for those who attended the ‘free software install fest.’

    Among those who participated in the programme were students, researchers and government officials, each curious in discovering opportunities that existed beyond the clutches of proprietary software.

  • How an Open-Source Evangelist Started a Tech Company in Silicon Valley

    Since 2009, I have transitioned from being the founder of the world’s largest Hadoop user group in Japan to becoming the co-founder and CTO of a Treasure Data in the U.S. Along the way, I learned that other open-source champions – or really anyone – can build a successful tech company. Here’s how I found success in my journey.

  • Yahoo Search Code Released as Open Source

    Oath, Inc., the Verizon subsidiary that’s been the owner of record of Yahoo since June, has released some important Yahoo code as open source under the Apache 2.0 license. The project, called Vespa, was originally based on code Yahoo inherited with its acquisition of AlltheWeb in 2003. The software is used across all Yahoo websites, including Flickr, for everything from handling search queries to serving ads.

    “Over the last couple of years we have rewritten most of the engine from scratch to incorporate our experience onto a modern technology stack,” Jon Bratseth, an architect with Vespa said in a blog post. “Vespa is larger in scope and lines of code than any open source project we’ve ever released. Now that this has been battle-proven on Yahoo’s largest and most critical systems, we are pleased to release it to the world.”

  • Open Source Tools Provide Control Over HIT Multi-Cloud Environments

    More vendors are releasing tools using Kubernetes to increase interoperability among solutions and make it easier to manage HIT multi-cloud environments.

  • EFF Warns Against Abusive Lawsuits Targeting Kodi Add-on Repository

    The EFF is speaking out against abusive lawsuits from copyright holders that aim to expand copyright liability for neutral platforms, such as third-party Kodi add-on distributors. The digital rights group calls out two recent lawsuits against TVAddons where the operator of the service is being held accountable for offering downloads of open source add-ons.

  • EFF weighs in on Kodi piracy battles worldwide
  • EFF chimes in on Kodi debate
  • EFF says Kodi lawsuits ‘smear and discourage’ open source

    THE ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION (EFF) is concerned about legal activity around piracy-enabled Kodi boxes and wants to know where the line is being drawn between companies that sell innocent platforms, the vagabonds that install add-ons onto them and the people who share pirated material.

    Last week in the UK a man plead guilty to selling piracy-able boxes, but he wasn’t happy about being singled out.

    “These boxes are available from all over the place, not just me, but it’s the downloading of software to watch channels that is apparently causing the problem,” he said at the time.

  • JRC makes its ship-detection software open source

    The Joint Research Centre (JRC) has released the software of its SUMO maritime surveillance tool, which is helping to protect our oceans by detecting ships engaged in illicit activities.

    SUMO (Search for Unidentified Marine Objects) automatically scans large numbers of satellite images for the presence of ships. The results can be cross-checked with other maritime data to identify suspicious vessels.

  • Yahoo Reveals Its Search Secrets, Vespa Tool is Now Available as Open Source

    Oath Inc., the Verizon company that has owned Yahoo since June, announced that Vespa is now available as open source on GitHub. According to a company blog post, making the big data processing and serving engine open source is a step further in Oath’s commitment to opening up its big data infrastructure to developers.

  • Events

    • What You Missed at the Diversity Empowerment Summit
    • Open Jam, our open source game jam, kicks off this week

      Take note, indie game developers: We’re less than a week away from the start of the first-ever Open Jam, a 72-hour game jam dedicated to promoting open source games and game development tools. We’ll reveal the theme on our jam page this Friday morning, October 6, at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time (4:01 a.m. UTC).

    • Open Jam For Open Source Games

      A three-day games jam with an emphasis on using open source game development tools and a requirement to open source the resulting games starts on October 6th.

    • Moby Summit Los Angeles recap

      Two weeks ago, member of the Docker team and Open Source community were in Los Angeles for a Moby Project Summit alongside Open Source Summit North America (previously known as LinuxCon). This was the 3rd Moby Summit edition since Solomon Hykes introduced the Moby Project: a new open-source project to advance the software containerization movement at DockerCon 2017 in Austin.

      This summit is for container users who are actively maintaining, contributing or generally involved in the design and development of the Moby Project and it’s components: runC, containerd, LinuxKit, Infrakit, SwarmKit, HyperKit, DataKit, VPNKit, Notary, libnetwork, etc.

    • GHM [GNU Hackers Meeting] 2017 videos online

      At last, the GHM 2017 video recordings are now online, along with presentation slides and abstracts.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Awards Over Half a Million to Open Source Projects

        At Mozilla we were born out of, and remain a part of, the open source and free software movement. Through the Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) program, we recognize, celebrate, and support open source projects that contribute to our work and to the health of the Internet.

        Our major initiative in the past few months has been the launch of “Global Mission Partners: India”, a pilot scheme to bring the Mission Partners track of MOSS to particular regions of the globe which have strong open source communities. The initial application period has just closed, and our India committee will shortly begin the work of assessing the over a dozen applications we have received.

      • Mozilla funds open source projects with half a million in grants

        Mozilla has announced the latest recipients of its Open Source Support grants, totaling $539,000. The web tech company regularly helps out smaller projects, and this round in particular favored ones aimed at safety and security.

      • Mozilla awards $500,000 in funding to open source projects
  • SaaS/Back End

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • How OpenBSD and Linux Mitigate Security Bugs

      The talk will focus on two similar solutions implemented in Linux and OpenBSD kernels, designed to prevent a program from calling syscalls they should not call to improve security of software.

      In both kernels (Linux and OpenBSD), unwanted syscalls can be blocked and the offending program terminated, but there are some differences between Linux and OpenBSD’s solution of the problem.

      During my talk, I will analyze the differences between two similar techniques that are present in Linux and OpenBSD kernels that are used to mitigate security bugs (that could be used to attack software and escalate privileges on a machine).

    • FreeBSD 10.4 Released With Full Support For eMMC Storage

      The latest release in the FreeBSD 10 series is now available with some work backported from FreeBSD 11 and other improvements/fixes.

      FreeBSD 10.4 happens to be the operating system’s first release with full support for eMMC storage. FreeBSD 10.4 also has improvements to its AES-NI driver, better Intel Kabylake device support, em networking driver improvements, various Wake-On-LAN (WoL) improvements to different drivers, updated firmware/microcode files, and more.

    • FreeBSD Picks Up Support For ZFS ZCP: Carry Out Admin Tasks Via Lua Scripts

      FreeBSD 12.0 will have initial support for ZFS Channel Programs (ZCP) for running administrative tasks on the file-system via Lua.

    • FreeBSD 10.4-RELEASE Announcement
    • FreeBSD 10.4-RELEASE Announcement

      The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team is pleased to announce availability of FreeBSD 10.4-RELEASE. This is the fifth release of the stable/10 branch, building upon the stability and reliability of 10.3-RELEASE and introducing new features.

    • Announce: OpenSSH 7.6 released

      OpenSSH 7.6 has just been released. It will be available from the
      mirrors listed at http://www.openssh.com/ shortly.

  • FSF/Conservancy

    • Sponsor Software Freedom Conservancy

      I did an interview with the Software Freedom Conservancy to discuss why I try to contribute to the Conservancy whenever I can. Because I believe many more free software communities deserve to have a home for their project at the Conservancy.

      Please support the Software Freedom Conservancy by donating so they will be able to provide a home to many more communities. A donation of 10 US dollars a month will make you an official sponsor. Or donate directly to one of their many member projects.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Oracle Tells The White House: Stop Hiring Silicon Valley People & Ditch Open Source

      Even though Oracle is based in the heart of Silicon Valley (I can see its offices from my own office window as I type this), the company has become sort of anti-Silicon Valley. It tends to represent the opposite of nearly everything that is accepted wisdom around here. And its latest crusade is against open source technology being used by the federal government — and against the government hiring people out of Silicon Valley to help create more modern systems. Instead, Oracle would apparently prefer the government just give it lots of money.

      First, some background: over the past few years, one of the most positive things involving the federal government and technology has been the success of two similar (but also very different) organizations in the US government: US Digital Service (USDS) and 18F. If you’re completely unfamiliar with them there are plenty of articles describing both projects, but this one is a good overview. But the really short version is that both projects were an attempt to convince internet savvy engineers to help out in the federal government, and to bring a better understanding of modern technology into government. And it’s been a huge success in a variety of ways — such as creating federal government websites that are modern, secure and actually work. And even though both programs are associated with President Obama, the Trump administration has been adamant that it supports both organizations as well, and they’re important to continuing to modernize the federal government. The offices are not politicized, and they have been some of the best proof we’ve got that government done right involves smart, dedicated technologists.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA) Hoping Open Source Bet Pays Off

        The graphics chipmaker, which was known for most of its existence as a maker of video cards for PC gaming, suddenly finds itself at the center of multiple technological revolutions, including self-driving cars, AI, VR, the internet of things, and more.

      • Tracking live brain activity with the new NeuBtracker open-source microscope

        NeuBtracker* is equipped with two cameras: One tracks the unrestrained behavior of the zebrafish larva while the other automatically remains pointed at the transparent head, and consequently the brain, to record fluorescence images. “This approach makes it possible to observe neuronal activity during unrestrained behavior. We can test the larvae in different environmental conditions and can immediately analyze the effects,” says Prof. Dr. Gil Westmeyer from the Institutes of Biological and Medical Imaging (IBMI) and Developmental Genetics (IDG) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München as well as the Department of Nuclear Medicine and Munich School of Bioengineering (MSB) at the Technical University of Munich (TUM).

        [...]

        The new instrument is a so-called open-source microscope.

  • Programming/Development

    • Support For Myriad ma2x8x CPUs Added To LLVM

      The latest work hitting LLVM 6.0 is support for the Myriad ma2x8x class of processors and some other missing Myriad CPUs.

    • Under Eclipse, changes to Java EE begin

      For one, Oracle is making the Java EE technology compatibility kits (TCK), which ascertain if an implementation is compliant with Java, available via open source. Eclipse Executive Director Milinkovich called this “a very fundamental change to the dynamics of this ecosystem.”

    • Java 9 Debuts with Jigsaw Modular Approach at JavaOne

      The Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE) version 9 is now generally available bringing with it a number of new features to help make Java more modular and efficient. At the JavaOne conference in San Francisco on Oct. 2, Mark Reinhold Chief Architect, Java Platform Group at Oracle outlined some of the new Java 9 enhancements and provided insight on what’s next.

      “Java 9 is here,” Reinhold said. “That means that Jigsaw is here.”

      Project Jigsaw is an effort that Oracle has been talking about since September 2010, just after the company completed its’ acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Jigsaw is an effort to turn Java into a more modular stack, including a module subsystem to help make the programming language more efficient.

    • Secure coding in Java: Bad online advice and confusing APIs

      For programmers and software developers, the Internet forums provide a great place to exchange knowledge and seek answers to concrete coding conundrums. Alas, they are not always the source of accurate information.

Leftovers

  • Google admits citing 4chan to spread fake Vegas shooter news

    Google News took the unusual step of confirming its use of the imageboard site 4chan as a news source on Monday. The admission followed Google News’ propagation of an incorrect name as a potential shooter in the tragic Las Vegas shooting on Sunday night.

    A reporter from tech-news site The Outline posted the full text of an e-mail he received from an unnamed Google representative. Reporter William Turton said that he had not discussed any “attribution terms” before receiving Google’s e-mail, which confirmed that the Google News service was bombed into automatically reposting a false shooter’s name.

  • Science

    • 60 years ago today, Russia launched Sputnik 1 – and the Space Age began

      On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched a small metal sphere into low Earth orbit. Equipped with four external radio antennas, Sputnik 1 not only revolutionised telecommunications, but helped to kick-start the space race. We take a look at local reactions to the news.

    • LIGO’s gravitational wave detection takes home a Nobel

      From almost the moment their discovery was announced, everyone agreed that the first sighting of gravitational waves was going to win a Nobel Prize. The only questions were when and who would receive the honor. Both of those questions have now been answered. When is now, and who turned out to be three individuals who contributed to the project in very different ways.

    • Nobel Prize goes to researchers who figured out how our cells tell time

      Today, the Nobel Prize committee has honored three US biologists for their role in unravelling one of biology’s earliest mysteries: how organisms tell time. Microbes, plants, and animals all run on a 24-hour cycle, one that’s flexible enough to gradually reset itself, although it can take a few days after transcontinental travel. The biological systems responsible for maintaining this circadian clock require a lot of proteins that undergo complex interactions, and the new laureates are being honored for their use of genetics to start unraveling this complexity.

  • Hardware

    • iPhone 8 Plus handset reportedly cracks open while charging

      iPhone 8 and 8 Plus models haven’t been available long, but a couple of users have reportedly experienced major problems. According to a 9to5Mac report, a Taiwanese iPhone 8 Plus owner claims her device split open while charging, and a Japanese owner of an iPhone 8 Plus claims the handset arrived already cracked open. The tech outlet ifeng includes images of the Taiwanese owner’s device in its report.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • State Audit Slams New York’s Oversight of Nurses

      An audit released late last week by the New York state comptroller’s office found the state’s Education Department, which regulates nursing, failed to investigate top-priority complaints against nurses in the time allowed by law.

      It also found nurses’ backgrounds were not adequately checked and that they were not properly monitored for criminal behavior after licensure.

      All of these findings confirm those in a ProPublica investigation into New York’s nursing regulations published in April of 2016.

      [...]

      The recommendations include streamlining and more closely tracking investigations, strengthening controls over “moral character” requirements for nurses and researching the best practices of other states.

    • Canadian Universities Not Contributing Enough To Neglected Health Needs, UAEM Report Says

      The Universities Allied for Essential medicines (UAEM) evaluated 15 Canadian research-intensive universities on their contributions to biomedical research on neglected health needs, access to medicines, and education concerning access and innovation issues. The results show that for a number of those universities, this contribution is sub-optimal.

    • Fighting the Opioid Epidemic by Targeting Big Pharma’s Bottom Line

      Opioids now kill over 100 Americans every day. In a single year, opioids kill more Americans than died in the entire Vietnam and Iraq Wars. And while the underground drug trade is fueling this epidemic of medicalized self-destruction, the flow of black-market opioids is inseparable from its above-ground counterpart—the pharmaceutical companies that peddle the legal and FDA-approved pain killers like OxyContin and Vicodin. And now workers on the front lines of this crisis are challenging the nation’s biggest pushers to stop pumping deadly drugs into their neighborhoods.

    • WHO Names New Leadership Team

      The World Health Organization today announced the new leadership team for the UN agency, with a range of geographic representation and a majority of women in the top posts.

    • Cold War radiation testing in US widespread, author claims

      Three members of Congress are demanding answers after a St. Louis scholar’s new book revealed details of how the U.S. government sprayed, injected and fed radiation and other dangerous materials to countless people in secret Cold War-era testing.

      The health ramifications of the tests are unknown. Lisa Martino-Taylor, an associate professor of sociology at St. Louis who wrote “Behind the Fog: How the U.S. Cold War Radiological Weapons Program Exposed Innocent Americans,” acknowledged that tracing diseases like cancer to specific causes is difficult.

      But three congressmen who represent areas where testing occurred — Democrats William Lacy Clay of Missouri, Brad Sherman of California and Jim Cooper of Tennessee — said they were outraged by the revelations.

    • Human Rights Go Hand In Hand With IP In Making Health Systems Work, UN Forum Hears

      Innovation is vital for the development of medicines, but innovation without proper access to them is pointless, Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of World Trade Organization has said. Several other agency heads spoke at the same event, where World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed the importance of universal health coverage.

    • Trump’s pick for EPA pollution czar says kids are less sensitive to pollution than adults

      The Intercept’s Sharon Lerner is the best journalist on Trumpian science appointees going, and her piece on Michael Dourson, whom Trump wants confirmed as the EPA’s second most powerful executive as Director of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention is a scorcher.

      Even by Trumpian standards, Dourson is a piece of shit work. He currently runs the high-profile greenwashing consultancy Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA) whose clients are a rogue’s gallery of the country’s most lethal polluters: Dow Chemical, CropLife America, the American Chemistry Council, the American Petroleum Institute, Koch Industries and more.

      TERA’s stock in trade is manufactured sciencey numbers showing that pollution isn’t harmful. In that regard, TERA excels, routinely asserting the harmlessness of industrial waste products that every independent researcher considers dangerous and/or deadly.

    • Trump’s Clean Air Nominee Represents Air Polluters in Court

      Last week, attorney William Wehrum appeared before a federal court to argue against new standards meant to protect workers from airborne silica dust, which is so fine that particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause health problems, such as fatal lung disease and cancer.

      This week, Wehrum will appear before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee because President Trump has nominated him to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) clean air program, where he worked under the Bush administration a decade ago.

      The new silica rules cut the amount of cancerous dust allowed in the air at industrial facilities in half. Trade unions say standards should be even lower, and labor leaders lashed out at the Trump administration for putting workers’ lives on the line when officials delayed implementation of the rules earlier this year.

    • WHO’s response to Philip Morris’ new $80M research foundation: Shove it

      The World Health Organization (WHO) is fuming over Philip Morris International’s (PMI) efforts to go smokeless—and the second-hand moves it’s using to do it.

      As cigarette sales decline worldwide, the tobacco giant is scrambling to restructure and embrace potentially more profitable “smoke-free” products. The revamp involves setting up an $80 million foundation called the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. In the next 12 years, the foundation aims to rope in health and government organizations and “advance smoking cessation and harm-reduction science and technology.”

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Sniper Stephen Paddock Is a Terrorist According to Las Vegas Law

      In the wake of the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, authorities remain reluctant to call shooter Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old real estate developer from Nevada, a terrorist. Shortly after 10 p.m. on Oct. 1, Paddock opened fire from his 32nd floor hotel room at Mandalay Bay and Casino in Las Vegas, killing 59 and wounding over 500 of the 22,000 gathered for the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival happening across the street.

      Police blew open Paddock’s hotel room door to find him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, as well as at least 10 suitcases filled with 23 rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammo. A subsequent search of his home 80 miles away in Mesquite, Nev., turned up 19 more guns, but no motive. ISIS claimed credit for the attack, but investigators have found no evidence connecting the two.

    • After Las Vegas Massacre, Media Again Help ISIS Terrorize

      For all their faults, corporate media, by and large, do not usually report the unverified claims of random trolls—unless those trolls happen to be ISIS, or ISIS-linked media.

      In the emotionally and politically charged hours after terror attacks or other mass violence, when demagogues both in US right-wing media and within ISIS itself seek to blame Muslims to promote their shared “clash of civilizations” narrative, the media seem more than willing to play along and spread the specter of ISIS responsibility without any objective basis.

    • American Rape of Vietnamese Women was Considered “Standard Operating Procedure”

      Comparing testimony from Vietnamese women and American soldiers, Gina Marie Weaver, in her book Ideologies of Forgetting: Rape in The Vietnam War, finds that rape of Vietnamese women by American troops during the US invasion of Vietnam was a “widespread”, “everyday occurrence” that was essentially “condoned”, even encouraged, by the military, and had its foundation in military training and US culture. She explores why US rape in Vietnam was so common, and why this aspect of US behavior has been virtually “erased” from “narratives of the war”. She stresses the issue is also important as rape in the US military continues at a high level today, having been mostly transferred away from foreign populations and onto female American soldiers.

    • 26 Gun murders (equiv. 130) in England vs. *11,004* in US Annually

      There have been 1,516 mass shootings in 1,735 days in the United States. You’ll note you don’t hear about mass shootings in Australia, Japan or for the most part the United Kingdom, or other civilized countries whose politicians have not been bought by 10 major gun manufacturers.

      The United States continues to be peculiar in handing out powerful magazine-fed firearms to almost anyone who wants one and not requiring background checks on private purchases even if these are made at gun shows or by persons with a history of mental illness. 80% of civilian-owned firearms world-wide are in the US, and only Yemen vaguely competes with us for rates of firearm ownership; Yemen is a violent mess with Shiite insurgencies, al-Qaeda taking over cities from time to time, tribal feuding, southern separatism and US drone strikes. And even it has fewer guns per person than the USA.

    • Guns and Profit – Why We’ll Do Absolutely Nothing New After This Las Vegas Shooting

      Wake up, America.

      We are not the land of the brave or the home of the free.

      We are the land of the gun and the home of the free market.

      Stephen Paddock’s killing spree last night in Las Vegas will not change anything – except the bottom line for numerous gun manufacturers.

      Ca-ching, people!

      Scores of American companies are going to clean up over this!

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • America Not Immune from Chaos

      Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas killed 59 and left more than 500 wounded. In previous weeks, American citizens have faced loss of life and massive property damage in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands from Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey.

      Of course, other places in the Caribbean suffered their own devastating blows from these major hurricanes: Cuba, Barbuda, Dominica, Antigua, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, British Virgin Island, St. Martin, Monserrat, Guadaloupe, St. Kitts and Nevis.

    • The Atlantic just finished its busiest hurricane month on record

      But this Category 4 hurricane was but a prelude for what was to come in September. Five hurricanes—Irma, Jose, Katia, Lee, and Maria—would form. Four would become major hurricanes. Two of the storms, Irma and Maria, would reach Category 5 status and bring widespread devastation, especially in the Caribbean islands, and to a lesser extent in the mainland United States.

    • Vulture Capitalists Circle Above Puerto Rico Prey

      Puerto Rico is devastated. Two hurricanes plunged the island into darkness and despair. Crops perish in the fields. The landscape of ruined buildings and towns resemble Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped on it. Over three million people are desperate for food, water, electricity and shelter.

      After a slow start, the Trump Administration is now speeding up the flow of supplies to the island. A top US general has been given command of the relief efforts. And, like so many others, Yarimar Bonilla watches with a broken heart as her native Puerto Rico struggles. This noted social anthropologist—a scholar on Caribbean societies—says the hurricanes have made an already bad fiscal and economic crisis worse, and she sees darker times ahead unless major changes are made in the structure of power and in Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States.

      Last night on NBC, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz made a spontaneous statement expressing her frustration with insufficient relief efforts that went viral. Before you read my interview with Yarimar Bonilla please take two minutes to watch this video. You will understand even more clearly Ms. Bonilla’s explainer of what is happening in Puerto Rico.

    • At $50 a barrel, billions in tax breaks keep many oil projects profitable

      At $50 a barrel, the low price of crude oil has slowed some of the oil production in the US, especially in regions that are costly to develop, like the Arctic. But US oil producers aren’t bearing the whole brunt of low prices, because federal and state governments provide tax breaks that stimulate oil production despite low prices.

      The tax situation isn’t unique to the US—China, the EU, and India also offer a variety of flavors of tax breaks to fossil fuel producers, despite their recognition of the need to address climate change. Although the US has signaled its intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, tax breaks that fund more fossil fuel production don’t help the rest of the globe to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

  • Finance

    • ‘Green Brexit’? Not with this dirty Brexit brigade, Mr Gove

      Environment secretary Michael Gove yesterday told Conservative Party conference that an ‘exit from Brexit’ is not an option.

      The ‘there is no alternative’ line is no great surprise. The appointment of Michael Gove as Environment Secretary, with his long history of involvement with American and UK neoliberal think tanks, has heightened concerns that Brexit is a ‘shock doctrine’ event.

      Gove’s renewed claims yesterday that we can have a ‘green Brexit’ also stretch credulity.

      According to our analysis, removing, attacking and undermining environmental and labour rights regulations was a likely motive for many of those at the heart of the Leave campaign. A motive hidden in plain sight but rarely reported.

    • How Ivanka Trump And Donald Trump, Jr., Avoided a Criminal Indictment

      In the spring of 2012, Donald Trump’s two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., found themselves in a precarious legal position. For two years, prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had been building a criminal case against them for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo development that was failing to sell. Despite the best efforts of the siblings’ defense team, the case had not gone away. An indictment seemed like a real possibility. The evidence included emails from the Trumps making clear that they were aware they were using inflated figures about how well the condos were selling to lure buyers.

    • Britain risks creating a $22.7-billion trade hole with its flawed “hard Brexit” plan

      Hurtling towards a “hard Brexit,” Britain is likely to leave the European Union in March 2019 without tariff-free access to the bloc’s single market. And it looks like the UK is going to lose a lot if that happens, according to a study by global law firm Baker McKenzie and economic consultancy Oxford Economics.

    • To Make Trump’s Economy Look Good, It Helps to Not Look Very Hard

      We know the New York Times has to lower its standards for conservative columnists; otherwise, they would never have any on their opinion pages. But they might have gone too far with Bret Stephens. The guy apparently knows literally nothing about the economy, and is so ignorant he doesn’t even know how little he knows.

      In his latest column, he touts the good economic news under Donald Trump: “The Dow keeps hitting record highs, and the economy is finally growing above the 3 percent mark.”

    • Why the CDC Wants in on Blockchain

      If someone in your home state contracts hepatitis A, a dangerous disease that attacks the liver, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to know about it. Health departments in neighboring states probably need to know about it, too, since the person may have contracted the virus from contaminated food or water in one of those states. The CDC, state and local health departments, and other organizations must routinely share public health data like this so they can control the spread of a range of infectious diseases. As straightforward as this may sound, though, it’s a massively complicated data-management challenge.

    • WaPo Defends Boss Against Sanders’ Charge That He’s Extremely Wealthy

      So it’s noteworthy that in analyzing this remark about the boss, the Post‘s Nicole Lewis doesn’t say that Sanders is wrong, exactly. Instead, she says that “he has made a habit of relying on simplified statistics that are provocative but do little to illuminate the complexities of the US economic system.” Or as she says of a similar statement Sanders made about US (not global) wealth, “While technically correct, the condensed soundbite lacked nuance about wealth accumulation and debt in the United States.”

      If you’re going to be badmouthing the owner of the Washington Post, in other words, you better have plenty of nuance and illuminate those complexities.

    • We Can Finally Identify One Of The Largest Holders Of Puerto Rican Debt

      For years, the identity of the owner of one of the largest holdings of Puerto Rican debts has been a mystery.

      That mystery has finally been solved, with the help of the The Baupost Group, who unmasked themselves to The Intercept. The Baupost Group, a Boston-based hedge fund managed by billionaire Seth Klarman, owns nearly a billion dollars of Puerto Rican debt, purchased under a shell company subsidiary and hidden from public scrutiny. Baupost acquired the debt through an on-paper Delaware-based corporation named Decagon Holdings LLC, whose beneficial owner had been unknown until now.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • President Trump’s Response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico Confirms Second-Class Citizenship

      Over tweets this weekend, President Trump confirmed that his administration’s underwhelming response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico is a symptom of these American citizens’ second-class status. Trump resorted to the racial stereotype that people of color “want everything to be done for them.” But this statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Boricuas on the island and the mainland have rallied to help each other in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

      My family and friends are giving back since they were one of the few lucky ones. They’re all safe. My parent’s house flooded, but there was no structural or heavy damage. They have enough food and power — for now — thanks to a generator (until the gas runs out).

    • Donald Trump’s Disgusting Remark On Puerto Rico Is More Revealing Than He Knows

      President Trump arrived in Puerto Rico on Tuesday and immediately began lauding himself and his administration for their response to Hurricane Maria. But mixed in with the self-congratulation were several references to how much relief efforts were costing.

      “Our country has really gone all out,” Trump said. “It’s not only dangerous, it’s expensive. But I consider it a great honor.”

      Trump then explained that Director of the Office of Management and Budget “Mick Mulvaney is here, and Mick is in charge of a thing called budget. I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you are throwing our budget out of whack. We spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that’s fine. We saved a lot of lives.”

      Beyond the gross inappropriateness of “joking” about the money the U.S. government is spending even as American citizens continue to die in Puerto Rico, Trump’s attitude is incredibly bad economics. Moreover, his administration, Mulvaney definitely included, knows this.

    • After Hurricane Maria, Trump’s tweeting dredges up an ugly history for Puerto Ricans

      Two days ago, eleven days into the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, a typically divisive tweet from Donald Trump struck a very sensitive cultural and political chord when, in response to the Mayor of San Juan’s plea for help, he said that islanders “want everything to be done for them [by the US] when it should be a community effort”. As we have come to expect, his words, which followed Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke’s injurious claim that this was “a good news story” because of a low number of reported deaths (so far), reproduced and inflamed historically racist tropes that have devalued Puerto Rican lives as second-class, undeserving, geopolitical waste.

    • Observations on Catalunya

      How can you ever possibly excuse violence against people peacefully and non-violently doing whatever they’re doing. Sure this referendum was considered illegal (and it may be legitimate to ignore the result, or legal prosecution of the initiators) but how can that ever possibly be an excuse for half a population peacefully doing whatever they are about to do?

    • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called President Trump a “moron”, wanted to quit

      Rex Tillerson wanted to quit as Secretary of State and openly called Trump a moron at a high-level meeting where the president was not in attendance. He was talked into staying on, according to reports, by other cabinet members including Vice President Mike Pence.

    • Noam Chomsky Diagnoses the Trump Era

      Much of this is being carried out stealthily, in closed sessions, with as little public notice as possible.

    • Russians took a page from corporate America by using Facebook tool to ID and influence voters
    • The Gross Dishonesty of the Mainstream Media on Catalonia

      Due to social media, the mainstream media can no longer hide what happens. But they can attempt to frame our perceptions of it. What happened yesterday in Catalonia is that paramilitary forces attacked voters who were trying to vote. The mainstream media has universally decided to call the voters “protestors” rather than voters. So next time you go to your polling station, apparently what you are doing is protesting. This kind of distortion through misuse of language is absolutely deliberate by professional mainstream journalists. In a situation where thousands of peaceful voters were brutalised, can anybody find a single headline in the mainstream media which attributes responsibility for the violence correctly?

      [...]

      Sky News every half hour is repeating the mantra that the Catalan government claims a mandate for Independence “after a referendum marred by violence”, again without stating what caused the violence. In general however Sky’s coverage has been a great deal better than the BBC; Al Jazeera has been excellent.

      I strongly suspect that were it not for social media, UK mainstream media would have told us very little at all. This is an object lesson in how the mainstream media still seek to continue to push fake news on us in the age of citizen journalism. They no longer have a monopoly on the flow of raw information; what they can do is to attempt to distort perceptions of what people are seeing.

    • NSA Warned Trump Staffers Against Personal Email/Device Use; Were Ignored

      Blatant hypocrisy aside, the Trump Administration’s use of personal email accounts isn’t just a low-flying middle finger to public records laws. It’s also a stupidly insecure method for handling sensitive communications.

    • After Kushner’s private e-mail became known, it moved to Trump Org servers

      Days after recent revelations that Jared Kushner, a presidential advisor and the president’s son-in-law, had set up a personal e-mail account to conduct White House business, someone with access to that domain (ijkamily.com) changed the domain’s mail exchange (MX) records so that they now point to a Trump Organization server.

    • “Pretty safe bet”: Former national security adviser warns Kushner compromised by foreign intel
    • Ted Lieu demands feds revoke Jared Kushner’s security clearance: ‘Being stupid’ is a ‘danger to America’
    • Why American Democracy Has Descended Into Collective Hysteria
    • San Juan mayor barred from speaking on Trump’s Puerto Rico relief conference call

      Carmen Yulin Cruz is the outspoken mayor of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, who was publicly denounced by Donald Trump for pointing out the federal government’s inaction during the worst humanitarian disaster in modern US history. Trump went on to characterize Puerto Ricans — chest deep in sewage raw sewage with no fresh water, no homes, no power and no gasoline — as “wanting everything done for them.”

    • Tomgram: Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian, A World in Peril

      Chomsky wrote “After Pinkville” — areas like Song My were then colored pink on American military maps — in 1969. Almost half a century later, the question is: Have things improved? After all, in Ken Burns’s new Vietnam extravaganza, his 18-hour documentary on that war, he seems to have captured the zeitgeist of the moment by carefully changing the word “murder” in the script for the My Lai episode to “killing.” “At lunch, Burns defended his change,” wrote the New Yorker’s Ian Parker,”on the ground that My Lai continues to have ‘a toxic, radioactive effect’ on opinion. ‘Killing’ was the better word, he said, ‘even though My Lai is murder.’” To be thoroughly upbeat, perhaps by 2067 Americans will finally be able to take “murder” straight on television when it comes to My Lai.

    • Well-Known Email Prankster Ends Up With Sensitive Document From Jared Kushner’s Lawyer

      Careless handling of sensitive emails isn’t just a problem for Trump’s top advisor, Jared Kushner. Having rolled into office on the echoing cries of “Lock her up!” Trump’s team nonetheless continued to use private email accounts for official correspondence. Kusher did this twice: using both a Republican National Committee account as well as another personal email address.

      It’s a security issue as well as a transparency issue. Personal email accounts — while convenient (and conveniently opaque) — are little more than attack vectors for cybercriminals and state-sponsored hacking. Making this security problem worse are Trump team legal reps, who can’t seem to stop communicating with staffer-spoofing accounts.

    • Russian Facebook ads featured anti-immigrant messages, puppies, women with rifles

      Monday, Facebook handed over some 3,000 ads, which it believes were bought by Russia, to congressional investigators. While they haven’t been made public, more information is coming out about the ads, accounts, and pages that were said to be controlled by a Russian “troll farm” called the Internet Research Agency.

      Many of the ads weren’t supporting specific candidates, but rather seem meant to stoke division around flash points in American society, particularly around immigration and race relations. 470 different pages and profiles were linked to the Internet Research Agency, according to Facebook.

    • Facebook Lies

      I followed the deletion procedure again and in 2 weeks (you can’t immediately request deletion apparently) I’ll check to see if the account is really gone. I’ve updated the password so at least the deletion process can’t be interrupted by whoever has that password (probably lots of people – it’ll be in a ton of dumps where databases have been hacked).

      If it’s still not gone, I hear you can just post obscene and offensive material until Facebook deletes you. I’d rather not have to take that route though.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Why the NSA Should Thank Edward Snowden
    • Europe’s Courts Decide: Does U.S. Spying Violate Europe’s Privacy?

      In a long-awaited decision on whether and how Europeans’ private data can be protected from the roving eyes of the NSA, the Irish Commercial High Court this morning declared that “standard contractual clauses” —the procedure that tech companies like Facebook use to try to satisfy European privacy laws—should be reviewed by the European Union’s top court, the Court of Justice (CJEU).

      The decision hands the court a key question that could affect millions of users and the business practices of Facebook and other tech giants: should tech companies be allowed to send the personal data of European customers across the Atlantic if they can’t guarantee that, once in U.S. data centers, the information won’t be vacuumed up by NSA surveillance?

    • White House wants to end Social Security numbers as a national ID

      Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity czar, said on Tuesday that the government should end using the Social Security number as a national identification method.

      “I believe the Social Security number has outlived its usefulness,” said Joyce, while speaking at The Washington Post’s Cybersecurity Summit. “Every time we use the Social Security number, you put it at risk.”

    • DOJ’s Facebook Warrants Target Thousands Of Users For Protesting Inauguration

      The ACLU is going to court to fight government warrants seeking info on thousands of Facebook users who interacted with a Facebook page related to Inauguration Day protests. The resulting arrests have generated several extremely broad search warrants seeking communications and other personal information from Facebook and the protest site’s hosting provider.

      For awhile, the targets of these warrants could only be guessed at, thanks to the gag order attached to the Facebook warrants. The gag order was finally lifted by the DOJ less than a day before it was due in court for oral arguments. It wasn’t Facebook securing a win so much as it was the government avoiding a loss — a possibly-precedential ruling on gag orders in Washington, DC courts.

    • DHS Should Stop the Social Media Surveillance of Immigrants

      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last month issued a notice that it is storing social media information on immigrants, including lawful permanent residents and naturalized U.S. citizens, apparently indefinitely, in a government database that contains “Alien Files” (A-Files). This is an invasive new feature of DHS’s previously known programs on collecting social media information. DHS’s collection and storage of this sensitive information will chill and deter the free speech and association of immigrants to the United States, as well as the U.S. persons who communicate with them.

    • The UK home secretary still doesn’t know how encryption works, and she’s not ashamed

      Railing against the use of encryption by criminals has always been an exercise in futility, but it’s a great way to sound tough. What better way to assert your power as a law-enforcer than by demanding the impossible?

      The problem is, there’s a line between swagger and overt foolishness, and for some reason politicians are increasingly deciding to hurl themselves over it — witness, for example, Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull declaring earlier this year that “the laws of mathematics are very commendable but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia.”

      The British home secretary, Amber Rudd, has now decided to follow the path of Turnbull by proudly announcing not only that she doesn’t understand how end-to-end encryption works, but that she does not need to understand it in order to fight it.

    • Another Disastrous Opinion on ePrivacy, Act Now!

      Yesterday, the ITRE (‘industry’) Committee of the European Parliament has adopted its Opinion on the ePrivacy Regulation. This Opinion is pretty much the same calamity that has been adopted last week by the IMCO (‘consumers protection’) Committee, calling for a general bypassing of users’ consent. Fortunately, these are just ‘opinions’ and will not bind the LIBE (‘civil liberties’) Committee voting on its final Report on 11 October. Still, these Opinions clearly reflect how some Members of the European Parliament are ready to sell out our privacy to big firms. Call them now to reverse this trend.

    • Let’s take back control of our data – it’s too precious to leave to the tech giants

      “Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us.” Thus, in 1996, John Perry Barlow laid out his manifesto, the Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, in which he encapsulated a philosophy flowing through the heart of worldwide web. His was a vision that would come to dominate the internet today, a thread that went from Timothy Leary to Stewart Brand to Steve Jobs to our current tech giants.

      Such is the dominance of this philosophy that it has spawned a new creed, “dataism”. The central principle of this dogma is the free flow of data, unrestricted and unregulated. This libertarian view of information uniquely sought to attach freedom to a concept – the flow of information – rather than to a human liberty. It provided the ideological architecture for the internet that we know today – ubiquitous and pervasive, that leaves a data trail in its wake.

    • Book Review: The Fundamental Right to Data Protection

      The book focuses on surveillance, as a key counter-terrorism tool, and introduces the rather disturbing term, ‘dataveillance,’ which is defined as “the systematic monitoring of people’s actions or communications through the application of information technology.” The text discusses the definition of privacy as an important conceptual framework. Part I of the book sets out theoretical aspects and Part II focuses on four case studies of EU counter-terrorism data surveillance. As the author puts it, the book seeks to examine current theories and details three important limitations the fundamental right to data protection faces, “its interconnectivity with privacy, its linking with secondary legislation and the elusiveness of its content.”

    • How to Choose a Good VPN
    • Auto Location Tracking Company Leaves Customer Data Exposed Online

      What is it about companies (or their contractors) leaving consumer data publicly exposed on an Amazon cloud server? Verizon recently made headlines after one of its customer service vendors left the personal data of around 6 million consumers just sitting on an Amazon server without adequate password protection. A GOP data analytics firm was also recently soundly ridiculed after it left the personal data of around 198 million citizens (read: most of you) similarly just sitting on an Amazon server without protection. Time Warner Cable also recently left 4 million user records sitting in an openly-accessible Amazon bucket.

    • The London Underground thinks it can sell travelers’ attention and wifi data for £322m

      Since late 2016, the Transport for London has been running a pilot scheme, providing wifi to passengers while logging and retaining all the wifi traffic coming in and out of its access points, compiling a massive dossier on every tube-rider who had wifi turned on for their devices, whether or not they ever accessed the wifi service.

      In a document obtained under a Freedom of Information request, TfL plans to make £322m “over the next eight years by being able to quantify asset value based on the number of eyeballs/impressions and dynamically trade advertising space.”

      A TfL spokesperson also refused to rule out selling “aggregated customer data to third parties.” While the UK has some good data protection laws thanks to the EU, it also inherited the EU’s train-sized loophole, which is that companies that collect customer data can do anything they want with it, so long as they “de-identify” it first — though the EU Directive does not establish what it means to de-identify a data-set, nor do many computer scientists believe that this is possible (with very good reason).

    • EU is losing its patience with the US government over its failure to implement properly the Privacy Shield deal

      Since there seems little hope that the Trump administration will increase privacy protections for non-US citizens, or rein in the spying of the NSA, companies such as Google and Facebook may well need to keep all personal data regarding EU citizens entirely within the EU if they wish to operate there in the future. They will doubtless resist such a move, but the threats of new laws being imposed on them, not to mention more billion-dollar fines, show that the EU is in no mood to compromise when dealing with US Internet companies. The whole Safe Harbor and Privacy Shield saga is a reminder that, even though the US is the undisputed leader in many other areas of Internet policy, when it comes to privacy, it is the EU that sets the pace.

    • Turnbull to push for national facial recognition database

      Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is set to push the premiers of the country’s states and territories to agree to set up a national facial recognition database.

    • FOIA’ed Documents Show NSA Abuse Of Pen Register Statutes To Collect Content

      New FISA court documents have been handed over to the EFF as the result of its long-running FOIA lawsuit. The new pile of documents is, unfortunately, very heavily-redacted, forcing readers to extrapolate a lot from the missing data.

      One of the few released FISA court docs leaving anything legible concerns the NSA’s use of pen register/trap-and-trace orders to collect content, rather than just dialed phone numbers. The NSA (along with the FBI) has been admonished for its abuse of these orders before, thanks to its insistence any numbers dialed are fair game, even if they could be construed as partial contents of calls — i.e., communications.

      What the NSA liked to scoop up were “post cut through dialing digits” — any numbers dialed after the phone number itself. These numbers could contain such things as credit card numbers, menu selections for automated services, and other information that could not be considered a dialed phone number.

    • Privacy Experts Urge House to Reform NSA Spying ‘Loophole’

      Privacy experts and digital rights advocates want the House of Representatives to reform a loophole to National Security Agency surveillance authority set to expire in December that allows the intelligence community to collect and search data on U.S. citizens without a warrant.

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a Tuesday letter called on the House Judiciary Committee to close that loophole in legislation the committee is drafting to reauthorize Section 702 of the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act (FISA). Section 702 lets the NSA surveil without a warrent foreign nationals communicating with U.S. persons. Critics say it sweeps up data on potentially tens of millions of Americans, which the intelligence community can search under the pretext of national security.

    • MAC Catching

      In the news recently was a report from TfL about their WiFi data collection. Sky News reported that TfL “plans to make £322m by collecting data from passengers’ mobiles”. TfL have later denied this but the fact remains that collecting this data is trivial.

    • The journey continues at Freedom of the Press Foundation

      More than a month back, the Supreme Court of India ruled that privacy is a fundamental right to every Indian citizen. It was a huge win for every privacy advocate, but it was one of the big battles in the whole fight for right to privacy. Even though governments are using public money to develop software infrastructure, almost none of them are Free Software. There is a current campaign happening for having publicly financed software developer for people to be Free Software. No one knows what is going on in the closed source infrastructure, and if people point out the issues, they are getting punished. If you never heard about Aadhaar project in India, feel free to visit this site to learn about how much destruction it is bringing in.

    • No Airport Biometric Surveillance

      Facial recognition, fingerprinting, and retina scans—all of these and more could be extracted from travelers by the government at checkpoints throughout domestic airports. Please join EFF in opposing the dangerous new bill, sponsored by Senator Thune (R-SD), which would authorize this expanded biometric surveillance.

      The TSA Modernization Act (S. 1872)would authorize the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to deploy “biometric technology to identify passengers” throughout our nation’s airports, including at “checkpoints, screening lanes, [and] bag drop and boarding areas.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Appeals Court Tells Seattle Cops New Use Of Force Policy Doesn’t Violate Their 2nd Amendment Rights

      When the Department of Justice handed down remedies for the Seattle Police Department’s excessive use of excessive force, it told officers they would need to dial back their penchant for deadliness. Just prior to the DOJ’s civil rights investigation, the PD was responsible for 20% of the city’s homicides. The DOJ recommended officers work on their de-escalation tactics, as well as partake in training meant to steer officers away from viewing anything strange (medical conditions, mental health issues, drug impairment, behavioral crises) as something to be shot at or beaten.

      Seattle PD officials adopted the DOJ recommendations and altered the department’s use of force policies. Rather than comply or quit, several police officers decided to file a federal lawsuit against the DOJ. The officers asserted a nonexistent right (the “right” to make it home alive) and hammered an existing right (the 2nd Amendment) to it in hopes of persuading a federal court that using less force less often somehow violated their right to keep and bear arms.

      The crowdfunded lawsuit didn’t get very far. The district court pointed out the 2nd Amendment does not create a “right” to defend yourself, much less attempt to guarantee officers’ personal safety. Gun ownership is regulated, not a free pass for cops to violate PD use of force policies as they see fit. It also tossed a variety of other rights violations claims, noting these were even more tenuously connected to the officers’ protest of the new use of force policy than the 2nd Amendment claims.

    • Supreme Court won’t hear Kim Dotcom’s civil forfeiture case

      Kim Dotcom’s civil forfeiture case will not be heard before the Supreme Court this term, America’s highest court ruled on Monday.

      The civil forfeiture case was brought 18 months after 2012 American criminal charges related to alleged copyright infringement against Dotcom and his now-shuttered company, Megaupload. In the forfeiture case, prosecutors specifically outlined why the New Zealand seizure of Dotcom’s assets on behalf of the American government was valid. Seized items include millions of dollars in various seized bank accounts in Hong Kong and New Zealand, the Dotcom mansion, several luxury cars, four jet skis, two 108-inch TVs, three 82-inch TVs, a $10,000 watch, and a photograph by Olaf Mueller worth over $100,000.

    • U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Review Kim Dotcom Case
    • Supreme Court declines to hear Megaupload case
    • Supreme Court Denies Kim Dotcom’s Petition Over Seized Millions

      The US Supreme Court has denied the petition of Kim Dotcom and his former Megaupload colleagues over millions of dollars in seized assets. While this means that all legal options in the US have been exhausted, Dotcom’s legal team now plans to take the issue to New Zealand and Hong Kong, where most funds are being held.

    • U.S. Supreme Court rejects New Zealand-based [I]nternet mogul’s appeal

      The justices left in place a lower court ruling that the U.S. government could seize up to $40 million in assets held outside the United States as part of a civil forfeiture action being pursued in parallel with criminal charges for alleged copyright violations and money laundering.

    • Supreme Court Won’t Review US Government Getting To Steal All Of Kim Dotcom’s Stuff

      While the “main event” in the never-ending case of the US Justice Department against Kim Dotcom continues to grind its way ever so slowly through the wheels of justice, one element has basically concluded. And this was the part that should concern you even if you think that Kim Dotcom was completely guilty of criminal copyright infringement. The issue here is that as part of the arrest of Dotcom and his colleagues, the US “seized” many of his assets. Now, when the government seizes assets, it’s a temporary thing. They have a certain period of time to hold onto it. Afterwards, they either need to give those assets back or file a separate case to attempt to “forfeit” those items (i.e., keep them forever). Here’s where things get a little bizarre. Because Dotcom was fighting extradition in New Zealand, the “deadline” for the US to continue holding the seized assets was approaching — so they filed the separate case against his stuff. Because it’s a civil asset forfeiture case, the case is literally against his stuff, and not against Kim Dotcom (and, yes, this is as weird and nonsensical as it sounds). But there was a twist: because Dotcom was still in New Zealand, the Justice Department said that he was a “fugitive” and thus couldn’t even protest the forfeiture of his stuff. Unfortunately, both the district court and the appeals court agreed.

    • Known Terrorists Under Witness Protection Roaming The Country Pretty Much Unattended

      The FBI loves its counterterrorism work. Loves it so much, it’s pretty much abandoned all pretense of being a law enforcement agency. It acts as though it’s somewhere between the NSA and the ATF: interested mostly in picking through surveillance dragnets and running sting operations that turn people who have trouble with basic skills like holding down jobs into national security threats.

      But it can’t score anti-terrorism goals on unguarded nets without a crew of informants. It works with immigration authorities to coerce visiting foreigners into providing the agency with intel. It goes further than that, though. It also operates a witness protection program for informants/witnesses actually involved in actual terrorist activity.

    • This Is What It Looks Like When the President Asks People to Snitch on Their Neighbors

      In April, the Trump Administration launched what it called the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) hotline, with a stated mission to “provide proactive, timely, adequate, and professional services to victims of crimes committed by removable aliens.” But internal logs of calls to VOICE obtained by Splinter show that hundreds of Americans seized on the hotline to lodge secret accusations against acquaintances, neighbors, or even their own family members, often to advance petty personal grievances.

      The logs—hundreds of which were available for download on the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement web site despite containing extremely sensitive personal information—call to mind the efforts of closed societies like East Germany or Cuba to cultivate vast networks of informants and an atmosphere of fear and suspicion.

    • White Hate, Black Hate and the Shades of Difference

      The rallying of white supremacist extremism in the US has caused fear and confusion for much of the general public. It’s clear that the ascension of Donald Trump and the mass mobilization of white supremacist movements are inextricably linked, and so, over the past year, the desire to “understand” white supremacist groups has been a pinned topic in the mainstream media. In a scramble to understand the now-emboldened (though by no means new) evils, many people are searching for resources. Centrist cable networks and news media sources have sought out nonprofits, such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), among others, to explain organizations that have been designated as “hate groups.”

      Unfortunately, the nonprofits that the media are turning to for answers are not without ideological complexities of their own. For example, the ADL in particular, positions itself as “liberal,” but is in many ways virulently right-wing, allying itself with powerful conservative forces in the US and Israel. The ACLU and SPLC, meanwhile, are largely dominated by white liberal politics, which often leads them to make misleading claims under the guise of faux humane objectivity.

    • I Am Obliged to Reconsider My Support for the European Union

      To my own astonishment, and after a full 36 hours of hard thinking to try and escape this conclusion, I am in intellectual honesty obliged to reconsider my lifelong support for the European Union, due to the unqualified backing of the EU Commission for the Spanish Government’s dreadful repression in Catalonia.

      This is very difficult for me. I still much favour open immigration policy, and the majority of Brexiteers are motivated at base by racist anti-immigrant sentiment. Certainly many Brexiteers share in the right wing support for Rajoy’s actions, across Europe. I have been simply stunned by the willingness of right wingers across the internet, including on this blog, to justify the violence of the Spanish state on “law and order” grounds. It is a stark warning of what we might face in Scotland in our next move towards Independence, which I have always believed may be made without the consent of Westminster.

      [...]

      The European Commission is obliged to abide by this Charter by Article 51. Yet when the Spanish government committed the most egregious mass violation of human rights within the European Union for a great many years, the EU Commission deliberately chose to ignore completely its obligations under the European Charter of Fundamantal Rights in its response. The Commission’s actions shocked all of intellectual Europe, and represented a complete betrayal of the fundamental principles, obligations and basic documents of the European Union.

    • More Prisons Banning In-Person Visits, Adding To Securus Tech’s Pile Of Cash

      But this is something Securus has pushed for a long time. Back in 2015, Securus finally dropped a clause in its contracts that mandated correctional facilities using its equipment move to video-only visits. But that doesn’t mean jails aren’t still heavily encouraged to ban in-person visits. The pivot to video doesn’t just generate an absurd amount of income for the communications provider. It also pads the pockets of prisons.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Senate confirms Ajit Pai as FCC Chairman

      Ajit Pai has been confirmed by the Senate as the Chairman of the FCC in a 52-41 vote. He has technically only been acting Chairman this whole time, as the process of confirmation generally lags well behind the succession process at the agency; the former Chairman, Tom Wheeler, stepped down shortly before the new Presidential term began, marking Pai’s de facto promotion. The vote today is his de jure assumption of the role.

      [...]

      The vote wasn’t strictly along party lines, which is a little surprising. Joseph Manchin (D-WV), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Jon Tester (D-MT) all voted to confirm, despite Democratic leadership tending to condemn Pai’s actions against net neutrality and privacy. While these four Democrats gave ayes, no Republicans were to be found in the “nay” column.

    • Ajit Pai gets new term on FCC despite protest of anti-net neutrality plan

      The US Senate today gave Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai another term on the FCC.

      Pai would have had to leave the FCC at the end of 2017 if the Senate hadn’t approved President Donald Trump’s request to give Pai a new term. Pai, who has proposed deregulating broadband providers and eliminating net neutrality rules, received a new five-year term retroactive to July 1, 2016.

    • T-Mobile agrees to stop claiming its network is faster than Verizon’s [Updated]

      T-Mobile USA has agreed to stop claiming its 4G LTE network is faster than Verizon Wireless’, after the advertising industry’s self-regulation body agreed with Verizon that T-Mobile’s claim was unsupported.

      The National Advertising Division (NAD) “recommended T-Mobile discontinue claims that it has the fastest 4G LTE network” and “also recommended that T-Mobile discontinue claims that its LTE network is ‘newer’ than Verizon’s and that Verizon’s LTE network is ‘older,’” the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council said in an announcement Thursday.

    • Nearly 14 million Internet users in Australia: ABS stats

      Australia’s Bureau of Statistics has released its latest Internet and mobile figures for Australia, dated June 2017, but do the numbers tell the whole story?

    • Hoping The Third Time’s The Charm, ISPs Urge Supreme Court To Kill Net Neutrality

      We’ve noted how large ISPs like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon are covering all their bases in their endless quest to kill popular (some would say necessary) net neutrality protections. They’ve successfully lobbied FCC boss Ajit Pai to vote to kill the existing rules later this year, despite the massive public opposition to that plan. But they’re also lobbying Congress to draft a new net neutrality law they publicly insist will solve everything, while privately hoping you’re too stupid to realize will be entirely written by their lawyers and lobbyists — ensuring it has so many loopholes as to be effectively useless.

      In case those first two options don’t work, large ISPs are also — for the third time in as many years — looking for the Supreme Court’s help. ISPs lost their first attempt to overturn the Title II net neutrality order last year when the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia shot down their complaints (which included insisting that net neutrality rules violated their First Amendment rights). ISPs lost again earlier this year when the courts shot down their en banc appeal.

    • European Governments Seek Greater Oligopolization of Telecom Infrastructures

      In March, more than 31 European Community Networks (CNs) wrote an open letter to EU policy-makers, stressing the need for an adaptation of the European legal framework aimed at helping these citizen-driven initiatives flourish, thus supporting alternative, democratic and sustainable ways to meet the goals of broadband policies. But rather than opening the door to a much-needed diversification of the telecom ecosystem, European governments only seek to reinforce the dominant positions of incumbent players. As the EU gets closer to a deal over the future of European telecom regulation, the EU Parliament must resist the pressure and reaffirm its commitment to the public interest.

    • Trump’s FCC Boss Blasts Apple For Refusing To ‘Turn On’ FM iPhone Chipsets That Don’t Actually Exist

      If you’ve seen current FCC Ajit Pai’s name in print so far this year, it’s probably for any number of his extremely anti-consumer, telecom industry friendly positions. Like his attempts to kill net neutrality, his support of gutting consumer broadband privacy protections, his efforts to protect the cable industry’s cable box monopoly from competition, efforts to dramatically reduce media consolidation rules, his defense of prison phone monopoly price gouging, or the way he’s making it harder for Americans to get affordable broadband.

      To obfuscate this arguably-lopsided agenda, Pai has been busy trying to portray himself as somebody notably other than the revolving door regulator he actually is.

      For example, Pai has repeatedly insisted that he’s a heroic advocate for closing the digital divide, even while simultaneously weakening broadband deployment standards and eroding all oversight of historically-despised mono/duopolists like Comcast. Similarly, Pai spent many of his first months in office insisting he’d be breathlessly dedicated to transparency, yet the FCC boss has already been sued for refusing to document his communications with incumbent ISPs regarding net neutrality, or to provide hard data on why his agency appears to have hallucinated a DDoS attack.

  • DRM

    • Denuvo Game Cracked In Mere Hours

      Denuvo DRM has graced our pages many times in the past year or so. The DRM once thought to be unbreakable and heralded as the end of piracy has taken a precipitous downward path in reputation. Games using the DRM slowly began being cracked in months, then weeks. The ability to crack Denuvo then sped up, with cracking times dropping to a week, five days, a couple of days. Through it all, Denuvo worked furiously to patch its software, all while proclaiming that a week or so’s protection is worth it to game developers as they protect their games during the all important initial release window.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • E-Commerce Regulation Needs Harmonisation, Labour Rules Should Be Part Of Trade Laws, Panellists Say

      The prediction now is e-commerce will be the normal way of conducting trade in the future, according to Lee-Makiyama. If intellectual property rights are sometime considered as a market entry barrier, in access to medicines for example, in copyright and trademarks, mostly used in e-commerce, IP is a market maker, he said. Without IP rights, “supply is not there,” he said, adding that it is the legal environment that allows products to exist.

    • Myanmar prepares for new IP laws

      The creation of a comprehensive IP regime is finally on the horizon in Myanmar. In July, draft bills on trade mark, copyright, patent and industrial design were sent to the legislative committee for deliberation. Implementing regulations are expected to come in later this year. Local lawyers believe that the trade mark law will have the most take up for brand owners. However, they share concerns of the judiciary’s lack of specialised IP experience

    • Copyrights

      • CopyCamp Conference Discusses Fallacies Of EU Copyright Reform Amid Ideas For Copy Change

        Bugs in the European Union copyright reform were discussed during the 6th edition of the annual Warsaw CopyCamp held last week. Liability of platforms and special intellectual property rights on snippets were the poster child for bad legislation. But the activists, academics and internet companies also expressed concerns over a general backlash on internet openness and internet freedom.

      • King’s College Football Coach Sued For Copyright Infringement For Retweeting A Book Page 2 Years Ago

        We cover many petty intellectual property lawsuits here at Techdirt. After a while, you kind of become somewhat numb to them and the only mildly ridiculous lawsuits seem sort of… meh. But every once in a while you run into a real doozy, the sort of lawsuit that really gets the anger juices flowing. The copyright infringement lawsuit brought by author Dr. Keith Bell against King’s College and its football coach, Jeff Knar, is one of those lawsuits.

        A timeline is required here, for reasons that will become readily apparent. In 1982, the year I happen to have been born (skypoint for myself), Bell published a 72 page book called Winning Isn’t Normal. The book is supposed to be of motivational nature, prodding the reader to win at sports, games and life, or something. Fast forward to 2015, when the Twitter account for Northeastern State University’s baseball team tweeted out an image of a single page from the book. Also in 2015, King’s College coach Knarr retweeted that tweet. Now fast forward to late 2017, when Knarr and the school are being sued by Bell for that retweet.

      • Hollywood Using Trump To Undermine The Internet In NAFTA Talks

        As you may be aware, the US, Canada and Mexico are “renegotiating NAFTA” for reasons that don’t entirely make sense, but we’ll leave that aside. Either way, opening up that process has created an opportunity for Hollywood to attack the internet, and they’ve rushed right in. And, despite promises to the contrary, it appears that Hollywood may have succeeded in getting the Trump administration’s US Trade Representative to back its dangerous plans.
        To fully explain this requires a bit of a history lesson. A few decades back, Hollywood realized that what it couldn’t get Congress to pass, it could force upon the US through “international trade agreements.” Much of the history of what happened is detailed in the excellent 2002 book, Information Feudalism by Peter Drahos and John Braithwaite. The very short version is this: international trade agreements have mostly been negotiated without much fanfare or attention, often in secret, with handshake deals in backrooms. And since “trade agreements” are about industry and commerce, trade negotiators often spend most of their time listening to industry representatives to figure out what they want, rather than looking at what’s best for everyone as a whole.

      • Judge Recommends ISP and Search Engine Blocking of Sci-Hub in the US

        Sci-Hub, which is regularly referred to as the “Pirate Bay of Science,” faces one of the strongest anti-piracy injunctions we have seen in the US to date. A magistrate judge in Virginia has recommended a broad order which would require search engines and Internet providers to block the site.

      • Porn Copyright Trolls Terrify 60-Year-Old But Age Shouldn’t Matter

        As people get used to the wave of copyright trolling that has flooded the Internet in recent years, fewer cases hit the headlines. Every now and again, however, a special case appears, such as the one in Canada where a 60-year-old woman has been accused of downloading porn several times. She’s reportedly terrified, but should age be the only defense against these scare tactics?

Nepotism at the EPO Has Reached Truly Toxic Levels

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One last ‘gift’ from Battistelli?

French EPO

Summary: President Benoît Battistelli’s coup d’état at the EPO has left the institution looking like a sultanate or monarchy rife with corruption and immune from prosecution

THERE’S no level too low for the EPO to sink to. After many scandals and virtually no intervention from the outside Battistelli must be feeling invincible. He’s willing to even destroy the entire office, after about half a century of operation, just to promote UPC in Paris. Battistelli seems to be working to ensure that the next EPO President is also French and no doubt much of the management will remain French regardless. It’s quite a comprehensive coup. It’s imperialism with kangaroo courts and mafia tactics, not with swords and armour.

“Battistelli seems to be working to ensure that the next EPO President is also French and no doubt much of the management will remain French regardless.”The EPO’s validation agreement with Tunisia, a former French colony, is a Battistelli project. We mentioned it last month because after Tunisia we expect the same from Angola and the EPO has just published this “news” titled “Brevets européens en Tunisie : L’accord de validation entre l’OEB et la Tunisie entrera en vigueur le 1er décembre” with the obligatory photo op. “Sorry,” it says, “this page is currently not available in English.” So one needs to understand French to know what Battistelli is up to at the EPO.

“Is the EPO just a French institution now?”“EPO,” one reader joked to us about it, “a world IP player among his pairs.”

Well, even the tweet is not in English. Is the EPO just a French institution now? Well, not far from it. We may soon find out if 3 out of 4 consecutive EPO Presidents are French.

Today we also received the following message:

EUROPEAN INVENTOR AWARD 2018

According to some sources:

THE EUROPEAN INVENTOR AWARD 2018 LOCATION IS TO BE ANNOUNCED ANY MOMENT NOW

Guess which city in France (yes FR again after Paris in 2015) is now awaiting to be confirmed as the likely host of the 2018 edition of the EIA (big waste of applicants’ money) :

SAINT-GERMAIN-EN-LAYE

Le hasard fait vraiment bien les choses: this is the city of which Battistelli was during years an elected City Council member (Maire Adjoint à la Culture).

Why are we not surprised?

Wait until we continue our series about Portugal and Angola. The EPO wrote today that “Portugal joins the Federated European Patent Register” and mentioned another former Portugese colony in this tweet. It said: “Register for the “Patent information from BRICS countries: Brazil” webinar. It’s free of charge & starts in 2 hrs…” (right about now)

“Anyone who looks at all this evidence will quickly realise that the EPO has been reduced to a laughing stock. It’s corrupt.”They have also just called for nominations. What for? Battistelli’s last lobbying event in his home town.

Anyone who looks at all this evidence will quickly realise that the EPO has been reduced to a laughing stock. It’s corrupt. The management is mostly French, many are former colleagues of Battistelli, some are even relatives. Battistelli holds professional EPO meetings in his home town in France while building himself quite an expensive ‘wine cellar’ at the top floors of the EPO (using secret budget, causing massive losses for Dutch contractors). Professional investigators are denied access to the EPO and bailiffs turned away by Battistelli's goons.

Momentum of PTAB is Growing and Political/Industrial Support is Growing Too

Posted in America, Patents at 6:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Troll bookSummary: Cisco, CCIA, EFF and Senator Orrin Hatch are among the many who support the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), whereas proponents of patent trolls try hard to destroy PTAB

THE role played by PTAB is growing. There’s no stopping or slowing down in spite of attempts to induce that.

PTAB has been good at stopping both software patents and patent trolls. It curtails abusive elements in the patent system.

A patent troll from Japan, according to IAM, is finally facing a challenge from PTAB. It typically uses the Eastern District of Texas to get money without doing anything productive, but now comes Intel (maybe PTAB too) and it could potentially put an end to all these shakedowns. To quote:

Japanese patent fund IP Bridge launched its fifth US patent assertion on Friday, filing a case against Intel in the Eastern District of Texas.

[...]

But despite the gauntlet of IPRs, IP Bridge has managed to secure a couple of settlements over the past four months that are very important validation for the company as it seeks to show that there is a place for patent monetisation entities in Japan’s relatively conservative IP business environment. In June, this blog reported the fund’s settlements with Broadcom and ARM – the latter of which did not stem from an infringement litigation. The company has around 700 semiconductor patents, and this Intel case suggests it will attempt to build on its deals with Broadcom and ARM to license the biggest players in the sector.

We expect and also hope that Intel will work towards invaliding these patents. IP Bridge, as we noted here before, is close to IAM; recall its cheering for it when it sued in the Eastern District of Texas.

We remind readers that IAM is little more than a megaphone of patent trolls. This new issue, for example, is full of puff pieces about trolls and full of attacks on PTAB. IAM is even publishing for a Koch-connected think tank which is against PTAB and for software patents. Adam Mossoff’s agenda has been documented here for years. Here is another new one from the latest issue. A better (corrected) headline would say “PTAB stops patent trolls…” (which is a great thing!)

But no, IAM is all about trolls and always against PTAB. It’s far from objective. Watchtroll too continues its daily attacks on PTAB (here is yesterday’s example, in essence lobbying for patent trolls, as usual).

What we are hoping to show here is the commonality among PTAB opponents. They’re not companies but trolls and publishers that they’re paying.

What about the real industry, i.e. companies that actually make things?

Well, Dan Lang, VP Intellectual Property at Cisco, speaks in support of PTAB (we mentioned him here earlier this year). Two days ago CCIA published this piece for him.

To quote:

The IPR procedure has been in operation for 5 years and has performed admirably with an affirmance rate of nearly 75% by the courts. The patent office collected broad input from stakeholders in setting the rules. The agency staffed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) with experienced technically trained litigators. Appellate review has given the PTAB important guidance in claim construction and validity analysis. The IPR procedure has become an indispensable mechanism for taking low quality patents out of circulation. Fewer than 4300 patents, out of 2.8 million in force, have been challenged, and of those the patent office has instituted proceedings on only 2400.

[...]

Whether or not to grant a stay of litigation after an appealable finding of invalidity by the PTAB is also a question of striking the right balance so that the system is fair. In a case Cisco is currently involved in, the ITC found intentional infringement by a direct competitor after a 10 ½ month procedural delay. The ITC considered and rejected our competitor’s contentions that the patents are invalid. In our court filings, we explained where and how we think the PTAB got it wrong and is likely to be corrected by appellate review. The Federal Circuit has now agreed with us that a stay is unwarranted. If a stay were to have been put in place, infringement would have continued and we as the innovators would have lost the benefit of temporary exclusivity that the patent system was designed to provide.

As strong supporters of the IPR system, we believe our appeal of the PTAB findings is exactly what a patent holder should do if the PTAB makes a ruling the patent holder disagrees with. At the same time, we view with alarm the increasingly shrill denunciations one hears today from interests that care less about patent quality than about preserving what they characterize as “quiet title” in an asset they never should have had in the first place. The IPR procedure is important and any needed adjustments are refinements rather than sweeping changes such as proposed in the STRONGER Act or abolition as requested by petitioners in Oil States on specious constitutional grounds.

We at Cisco have long advocated for a balanced patent system that helps innovation. We have encouraged all three branches of government to make sure that the patent system isn’t abused by opportunists and speculators who buy up patents and litigate for the purpose of extortion. But we shouldn’t lose sight of why America’s founders created the patent system in the first place – to encourage and reward innovation.

Cisco uses patents aggressively against smaller competitors, but it is also frequently targeted by trolls. Its support of PTAB is noteworthy, but oddly enough, Cisco now imposes an embargo on a competitor’s product in spite of PTAB invaliding the patent/s at hand. Even the CCIA spoke out against it last month.

The EFF decided to intervene too. Days after news about the Three Affiliated Tribes helping patents trolls and the Mohawk people doing something similar [1, 2] by shielding a corporation from PTAB the EFF complains above Native Americans helping patent trolls and generally impeding justice. To quote:

On September 8, 2017, the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical company Allergan announced that it “sold” its patents relating to its eye drops “Restasis” to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. But this was not a usual “sale.” The Tribe doesn’t appear to have paid anything in exchange for becoming the legal owner of Allergan’s patents. Instead, Allergan paid the Tribe $13.75 million, and also agreed to pay the Tribe up to $15 million more each year in exclusive licensing fees.

In other words, Allergan just paid out millions to give its patents away, and will pay millions more to license them back.

Why would a company pay a Native American tribe to take ownership of patents? Simple: to make those patents harder to invalidate.

Yesterday we found out that even Senator Orrin Hatch decided to intervene. In his blog he speaks out against patent trolls. To quote:

Our nation’s patent system has been in need of serious reform for many years. So-called “patent trolls” — entities that don’t actually make or sell anything but that instead buy patent licenses merely to extort settlements — have become a serious drain on our economy. According to one study, patent trolls and their frivolous lawsuits cost our country nearly $80 billion per year.

Here is the part about his support for PTAB:

Under the IPR process, an accused infringer can seek a ruling from the PTO that the patent the party is alleged to have infringed is in fact invalid. IPR proceedings are narrower in scope than traditional trial court litigation and allow for much more limited discovery, with the result that they tend to be both faster and cheaper than traditional litigation. As one might expect, IPR proceedings have become increasingly popular with parties accused of patent infringement.

IPR supporters say the process cuts down the costs of patent litigation and enables patent troll victims to more cheaply rebut frivolous claims. Opponents respond that the standards for proving invalidity in IPR are too low and that the IPR process too often eradicates sound patents. In addition, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments this term that the entire IPR process itself is unconstitutional. Clearly, this is an issue that warrants Congress’s attention.

“And if software patents [...] are invalid,” Benjamin Henrion’s tweet quoted him as saying, “business software developers may turn their attention to other products…”

Here is the part about patent scope:

Finally, at today’s meeting we’ll be discussing what sorts of limits Congress should place on what can and cannot be patented. The traditional rule has been that “anything under the sun that is made by man” is patentable. But there are also exceptions. And in a line of cases over the last decade, the Supreme Court has applied those exceptions in a way that has caused considerable uncertainty for technology and life sciences companies.

In two of those cases, Mayo and Myriad Genetics, the Court cast doubt on the ability of life sciences companies to patent treatments that derive from natural processes. In Mayo, the Court invalidated a patent for determining the proper dosage of naturally occurring metabolites to treat autoimmune disorders. In Myriad Genetics, the Court invalidated a patent on a gene sequence that could be used to detect elevated risks of breast and ovarian cancer.

The third case, Alice, involved a patent on a computer system to manage risk in escrow arrangements. The Court struck down the patent on the ground that it was directed toward an unpatentable “abstract idea” — managing risk through third-party escrow — and that the act of implementing that idea through a computerized process did not transform the idea into patentable subject matter.

These cases have potentially significant consequences for drug and software patents. If treatments derived from natural processes cannot be patented, life sciences companies may find their intellectual property rights sharply curtailed. Already we’re seeing lower courts move in this direction, with a recent case out of California casting doubt on the ability of dietary supplement companies to patent any of their products. And if software patents for business methods like third-party escrow are wholesale invalid, business software developers may turn their attention to other products.

What is noteworthy here is that every single opponent of PTAB is also well known as a proponent of patent trolls. This itself should serve as a clue to SCOTUS Justices.

BlackBerry’s Aggressive Patent Strategy Was a Miserable Failure

Posted in Patents at 5:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They could have, instead, adopted Android back in 2011

BlackBerry finances

Summary: The collapse of BlackBerry and the failure of its plan to prop itself up by patent lawsuits and general aggression

THE business model of BlackBerry is a big unknown. Reuters was very, very late to pick up this news regarding the departure of BlackBerry’s patent chief/strategist. IAM mentioned it again yesterday. To quote: “This year, things were made even more complicated by three high-profile corporate moves in late summer: Allen Lo’s switch from Google to Facebook, Brian Hinman’s decision to leave Philips and Mark Kokes’s sudden departure from BlackBerry.”

To put it simply, now is a bad time for patent predation. Patent trolls are on the decline and there’s little/no hope for software patents (higher courts never tolerate any of them).

Here is what Reuters wrote:

The man who was leading BlackBerry Ltd’s efforts to make money from its patent portfolio has left to join a health technology company, two sources with knowledge of the move said on Monday.

Mark Kokes left the Canadian company last month to join privately held NantWorks LLC, the sources said. NantWorks was founded in 2011 by billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong and houses a string of startups looking to transform global health information and develop next-generation pharmaceuticals.

So now we know where he was going. All that blackmail by BlackBerry (like frivolous patent lawsuits in Texas) gave them just a few millions of dollars. Hardly enough to keep the company alive. Mark Kokes (who has left the company) gave his employer some ‘protection’ money, but the company’s name is tarnished and in technical circles BlackBerry is now viewed as evil. It’s viewed as a patent parasite, not an innovator.

The trolls’ apologist, Richard Lloyd, said this a few days ago:

BlackBerry saw its IP revenues almost double in the second quarter, jumping from $32 million in the first three months of the fiscal year to $56 million for the period ending August 31st (the company accounts on a March to February fiscal year). On a call with analysts BlackBerry CEO John Chen revealed that the company had recognised IP revenues from three licensing deals with Ford, Blue and Timex and added that the business had “a good pipeline of opportunities”.

[...]

While Kokes was responsible for building a licensing team in-house, several outside observers suggested that a number of more senior executives were closely involved in the commercialisation efforts. Kokes reported into Sandeep Chennakeshu, president of BlackBerry Technology Solutions, while Chen himself is thought to have kept close tabs on the licensing efforts.

[...]

That message clearly didn’t reach Kokes who was known to be particularly bullish about the monetisation prospects for BlackBerry’s IP assets and told IAM earlier this year that his mandate was simply to, “monetise the BlackBerry portfolio using every means possible”. That saw him strike a number of licensing deals but also sell some assets such as a 2015 disposal to investment firm Centerbridge Partners

Lloyd tries to make it sound like a great success, but to put things in perspective, just half a decade ago the company was making 20 billion dollars per year. Tens of millions are just a drop in the ocean and after suing in the Eastern District of Texas the target base of BlackBerry probably knows it better for litigation than for actual products.

Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls Continue to File New Lawsuits and Collect Patents for Further Litigation Purposes

Posted in America, Asia, Microsoft, Patents at 5:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One has to be willfully blind not to see it

Microsoft and trolls

Summary: Microsoft’s strategy of passing patents to trolls and pressuring rivals into paying for ‘protection’ carries on; at the same time, Microsoft pays critics and potential critics for their silence while simultaneously passing money for officials in Munich to abandon GNU/Linux and bolster the case against GNU/Linux adoption in desktops

THE patent aggressor known as Microsoft continues to praise itself for supposedly “loving” all sorts of things, including the very things that it’s attacking, usually indirectly. Not too surprisingly, Microsoft-connected patent trolls are busy attacking Microsoft’s competitors but never Microsoft itself. Therein lies Microsoft’s existing strategy. They derive leverage from patent blackmail and the perceived protection from it (e.g. for those who pay Microsoft monthly rents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14]). The mainstream media does not want to cover any of this, not because there’s lack of evidence but because there’s an abundance of agenda (currently, the paid-for agenda is posting pictures with hearts in them, e.g. “Microsoft loves Linux).

A day or two ago Juniper became the latest victim of the Microsoft-connected Finjan, a patent troll that maybe had a real business over a decade ago. Now it’s just a litigation machine whose very own staff seems to be fed up (trolling is nothing to take pride in).

Finjan carries on suing the whole world (except Microsoft) with patents and this new press release takes stock of companies that did not shell out ‘protection’ money (and are thus sued):

Finjan has pending infringement lawsuits and appeals against FireEye, Inc., Symantec Corp., Palo Alto Networks, Blue Coat Systems, Inc., ESET and its affiliates, Cisco Systems, Inc., SonicWall, Inc., and Bitdefender and its affiliates relating to, collectively, more than 20 patents in the Finjan portfolio

Finjan is far from the only instance of such abusive litigation. Consider Dominion Harbor, which is connected to Microsoft's biggest troll, Intellectual Ventures. Well, as one might expect, it is at it again. They harvest patents and then sue companies in Texas (they already attack in China too). After Microsoft destroyed Yahoo guess where the patents are going. As IAM explained yesterday:

Altaba, the company formed following the sale of Yahoo!’s core business, has transferred a small patent portfolio to an affiliate of IPNav offshoot Dominion Harbor.

[...]

The deal is further evidence that we’re seeing the next iteration of the NPE market with large portfolios of assets being broken up as they’re sold. Intellectual Ventures, which has one of the largest portfolios in the US, has ramped up its patent sales in the last year selling assets to the likes of Dominion Harbor and Equitable IP. As this blog has reported, many of those assets have quickly ended up being asserted in court against alleged infringers, suggesting that they become potentially far more threatening to possible licensees once they have been transferred. In line with the vast majority of patent deals in the current market, the rights concerned have typically changed hands in privateering style deals with some cash upfront and then the seller receiving a portion of any monetisation revenues.

We expect Microsoft to continue with this proliferation of software patents and patent trolls. Microsoft would boast that only its own clients can enjoy ‘protection’ (or indemnification) while at the same time threatening Android OEMs that don’t install Microsoft ‘apps’.

Microsoft is a big bully. It not only uses blackmail tactics but also bribes, as this week’s news from Munich (e.g. [1, 2]) should remind us.

Our Position on Patent Scope and Patent Breadth

Posted in Law, Patents at 4:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent maximalism ruins everything, except firms which exist to promote — and profit from — patent maximalism

Patent breadth
Reference: Patent breadth

Summary: For the sake of innovation and in the interests of progress, patents need to be reserved to few and highly-specialised domains rather than granted sparingly to cover every single facet of life (including life itself)

THE world’s patent offices are clearly coming to grips with the sunset of software patents. These patents are ebbing away in the courts and the boards, even at the USPTO. It’s only China and the EPO that still publicly advocate software patents.

For many years we have been watching software patents very closely. Yesterday we saw this press release which says: “Fantasy Sports Co., a leader in the Daily Fantasy Sports space, today announced that it has been issued two software-based utility patents by the U.S. Patent Office that cover the assembly of Virtual Teams and Live Scoring.”

Considering Alice, these patents would be invalid and thus worthless at any court in the US. It’s pretty incredible that such patents even get granted in 2017.

There are silly software packages, even after Alice, which make companies deal with patents like they’re computer games. Earlier this week we saw another example of worse-than-useless software which merely gives companies the illusion they have “assets”. There was this press release and article about it which said: “Anaqua 9 includes a forecasting tool that will calculate and project future IP costs, while new dashboards give users competitive analysis and licensing opportunities.”

The word “licensing” is a frequently-used euphemism for extortion and litigation. Some patent lawsuits, as we pointed out a week ago, can spell the death knell for a lot of people. We said this in relation to the Amgen case, which made some more headlines last week. We can safely bet that very few people in the jury actually know what patents really are and how they really work/affect people.

Longtime readers would know that we’re neither against patents nor against litigation. However, the problem is an epidemic of patent maximalism (striving to have millions of patents on trivial ideas) and patent trolling by companies that either have no products or no longer have any products. Neither of these things can be described as beneficial to science and technology. There’s a large body of scholarly work and extensive evidence to that effect. The concept of patent specificity, moreover, applies here, not just patent scope. How broad a claim (of set of claims) can be made when obtaining a monopoly on something? The National Law Review spoke the other day about limitations, arguing that “positive limitations are preferred and negative limitations are to be avoided.”

To quote:

Negative limitations, using words like “not”, “without”, or “excluding” in a patent claim, understandably make patent practitioners and clients nervous. Generally, positive limitations are preferred and negative limitations are to be avoided. Why is that?

Probably because they strive to have a monopoly as broad as possible — one that’s harder if not impossible to work around.

The other day we saw a site of a patent maximalist meddling in IEEE patent policy — a subject we’ve been covering for a number of years. I often regret peer-reviewing papers for their journals because they’re openly promoting software patents. Here’s the latest:

I recently wrote a paper for 4iP Council about the effect of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) 2015 patent patent policy change on submissions of Letters of Assurance (LOAs) indicating whether patents are pledged to the new policy. In this, I have reviewed some third-party analysis on adoption of the new patent policy and LOAs. And, I have also included my own analysis of LOA data available from IEEE.

The IEEE is a steward of a great number of standards, so its patent policy matters a lot (impacting so-called FRAND, SEP etc.) and if we lose sight of the very purpose of standards they will become merely a tool of monopolisation by one (or few) large company/ies. This is already happening in several domains.

EPO Management Gambled on Europe Being a Patent Litigation Hub/Capital, But It’s All Coming Down in Flames Now

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli’s legacy is one of gaslighting and denial

Work for firefighter

Summary: Work for the EPO keeps declining (decreasing number of applications), quality of patents has clearly collapsed, and the UPC isn’t coming to fruition, which means that layoffs are inevitable and the reputation of the EPO cannot be recovered

THE EPO, as always, carries on pretending that the UPC is coming. “This guide looks at how to obtain, maintain and manage Unitary Patents,” it wrote yesterday, but there is no Unitary Patent and there probably never will be. As it stands at the moment, the UPC is a dangerous EPO management fantasy, which has already led to the unprecedented and premature assault on appeal boards. If there’s no UPC at the end, there will be neither patent quality nor justice. It will be chaos.

“Very few SMEs actually need “unitary” anything because they don’t operate in many countries.”Bristows, which used to rave about the UPC, has almost nothing left to say. Yesterday it just threw this puff piece about a non-event and IP Kat wrote about a post-Brexit paper from UCL’s Ilanah Simon Fhima. It’s focuses on trademark law, but it’s partly applicable to patents and it speaks of the “unitary” effect.

Also yesterday, the EPO carried on with its lies about SMEs (it started two weeks ago and the EPO has repeated these lies every day since). Very few SMEs actually need “unitary” anything because they don’t operate in many countries. The UPC is a gift for those who fight against SMEs, notably multinationals and trolls. “These twelve examples stand as proof,” the EPO wrote yesterday, adding that silly hashtag #IPforSMEs just like these radical front groups.

“About 4 years ago we expressed deep concerns about the European Patent Office moving in the exact opposite direction (opposite to the rest of the world), namely inviting trolls and software patents.”As we said yesterday, software patents seem to be on the way out everywhere by China. We wrote about how, even in Japan (historically pro-software patents), courts have become very strict and intolerant of abusive litigators.

Yesterday, in fact, IAM too reinforced that view. It sounds as though JPO, the patent office in Japan, is getting fed up with patent aggressors harassing the real industry over there. To quote:

On Friday, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) said it would issue guidelines on SEP licensing negotiations after a month-long public consultation period. The policy document will stake out an official view on issues such as what constitutes good faith and reasonable royalties in SEP talks. But we don’t know for certain how – if at all – the new plans are connected to an earlier proposal to introduce an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) system that has been described as “compulsory licensing for SEPs”.

[...]

It is possible that this latest JPO consultation reflects a scaled back attempt to have a say on key SEP issues after the more aggressive ADR plan met with resistance from industry. On the other hand, if the ADR plan is resurrected at some point, then these guidelines – particularly the provisions on royalty calculations – could wind up forming the basis for how the JPO determines rates in very important disputes.

About 4 years ago we expressed deep concerns about the European Patent Office moving in the exact opposite direction (opposite to the rest of the world), namely inviting trolls and software patents. This ugly legacy isn’t the fault of Battistelli’s predecessors but Battistelli himself. No doubt he’ll be remembered as the worst ever EPO President — the one who ushered in human rights abuses and made it acceptable for the EPO to lie to the public every day while corrupting the media.

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