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11.30.17

Ignore Today’s Fake News From IP Kat/Bristows, the UK is Not Ratifying the Unitary Patent (UPC)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 7:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Disregard misinformation and self-serving (profit) sensationalism

UPC boat

Summary: Some people have begun taking note of a blog post from Bristows, but it’s distorting the facts in order to help Bristows sell services for something which will never exist

THE EPO must be a big fan of false information (misinformation). It does, after all, spread false information all the time. It does it literally every single day (except most weekends, due to inactivity). It does this both internally (inwards, to staff) and externally (outwards, to users, journalists and so on).

“The EPO must be a big fan of false information (misinformation).”Earlier today we saw a tweet which said: “UPC on the way to be ratified in the UK, Minister Johnson avoids answering the ECJ question in relation to Brexit…”

This was rather surprising, so tracing it back to the source we found that it’s just fake news, fake headline and misinformation from Bristows, as usual (fabricators and liars). They lie about the UPC in order to make it sound imminent and inevitable. They try to tell that to politicians as well, in order for them to vote/act out of ignorance.

Here is what Bristows tweeted and what Alan Johnson wrote, claiming a “possibly at the last meeting of 2017 scheduled for mid-December, but more probably at the first meeting of 2018 in January. After that the UK will be in a position to ratify the UPC Agreement.”

What utter nonsense. What. Utter. Nonsense.

This deviates so widely from any realistic timetable.

Expectedly, Bristows staff at IP Kat (surrogate to Bristows’ much-neglected ‘blog’) decided to start amplifying other UPC boosters such as Alex Robinson. Alan Johnson’s colleague copy-pasted something from Robinson, adding a misleading headline to it all.

“They lie about the UPC in order to make it sound imminent and inevitable. They try to tell that to politicians as well, in order for them to vote/act out of ignorance.”“I wrote a thing about the #upc’s passage through the Commons,” he said, “and the @Ipkat kindly published it” (if it’s pro-UPC, then of course it will!).

He had also said: “More on the #upc – the UPC (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2017 has been considered by the HoC Delegated Legislation Committee today; the corresponding discussion in the Lords is now listed for 3:45 pm on 6 December.”

That’s next week

But watch the lobbying disguised as news/analysis — the very reasons some people resigned from that site. The headline (title) is “UK House of Commons committee progresses final stages of UPC ratification” and it then says that “in a room somewhere in Westminster, Kat friend Alex Robinson (Dehns) was observing the latest goings-ons on the Unified Patent Court with respect to the UK’s ratification process.” Barely even matches the title. Where are those “final stages of UPC ratification” and why the positivity/certainty? Nothing in Robinson’s words justifies it. As usual, as is common at IP Kat, what we have in posts is UPC propaganda followed by negative comments (those which pass moderation anyway), often berating the author. Just bypass Team UPC and see comments (as usual, the comments there are a lot more informative than the lobbying/marketing they’re attached to or clustered around).

“Put another way, Jo Johnson knows that they are not in a position to do anything, and not just due to Brexit talks.”Robinson wrote and wondered aloud about what “Mr Johnson meant by wording such as “we want to put ourselves in a position” to enable the UPC to come into force…”

Put another way, Jo Johnson knows that they are not in a position to do anything, and not just due to Brexit talks.

The first comment said: “The GuestKat’s meticulous verbal analysis is entirely justified in these circumstances – I am quite sure that Jo Johnson’s stopping short of saying that the UK will actually ratify the Agreement was quite deliberate (and/or an implicit acknowledgment that if we do we may nevertheless have to leave again as soon as Brexit takes effect).”

Hence no point ratifying anything. Another comment emphasised the key part:

Reading Hansard, it seems that that Jo Johnson used certain phrases repeatedly. This is unlikely to be an accident. More likely, those phrases were drummed into him beforehand so that he could stay “on message”.

One of JJ’s most repeated phrases was that the government wanted to be “in a position to ratify the agreement”. If this repetition is indeed the result of JJ effectively reading from a pre-agreed script, then it is not hard to reach the conclusion that the UK may not rush to deposit its instrument of ratification.

In connection with the UK’s future participation in the UPC, other phrases often repeated (in a number of variations) could well be significant too. These include “we will need to negotiate” and “It would not be appropriate for me to set out unilaterally what the UK’s position will be in advance of those negotiations”.

So, to conclude: whilst reaffirming that it thinks that the UPC is a good idea, the UK government has promised neither swift ratification nor a guarantee of the UK’s continued participation in the UPC… as everything seems to depend upon the outcome of negotiations with the EU.

As we all know, the UK has stated its intention to leave both the single market and the customs union, and to ditch all Treaties that underpin EU law, including TEU, TFEU and EURATOM. How on earth the UK can do this and continue participating in the UPC is anyone’s guess. Indeed, one could be forgiven for gaining the impression that the government is desperately trying to keep all plates spinning for the time being whilst knowing full well that it will be impossible to keep this up indefinitely.

This all means that, instead of asking when the UK will ratify, we ought instead to be asking which of the plates currently spinning will the government allow to come crashing down: the UK’s position on the single market (and the role of the CJEU) or the UK’s position on post-Brexit participation in the UPC?

Whilst I do not know the answer to that question, I most certainly would not like to put money on the UK’s continued participation in the UPC. And this perhaps raises the most pertinent question of all: even if it were able to ratify the UPC in 2018, do we really believe that the German government will do so without knowing whether chaos will reign less than a year later as a result of the UK’s enforced departure from the system?

The latest says this:

Wearily, I suppose this JJ wordplay is all of a piece with the notion that negotiating with EU 27 is all about having in your hand more “cards” to play that the Team on the other side of the negotiating table.

Presumably, the view amongst HMG’s ministers is that one of Macron/Merkel’s highest priorities is to get the UPC up and running, and further, that EU27 ready to pay a high price for UK ratification.

This distorted analysis and headline from Bristows made it through to other people’s tweets, one of which said: “Interesting comment that the UK’s future relationship re UPC would be “subject to negotiation”. Sounds like UPC may be a bargaining chip in the Brexit talks.”

A bargaining chip in whose favour? The UPC would be a curse — not a gift — to Britain. Signatures in the petition suggest so too.

“Imagine how much Bristows lies to clients (for profit) if it lies so much to the public (where it’s harder to get away with it).”Christopher Weber responded to the above from Patrick Kelleher and said: “It is a bargaining chip for the German side from what I heard. No ratification anyway before the Brexit situation is clarified. (German like clarity and certainty).”

Weber had promoted the UPC, but he recently (only days ago) implicitly acknowledged that the UPC is pretty much dead.

Imagine how much Bristows lies to clients (for profit) if it lies so much to the public (where it’s harder to get away with it).

EPO Fiasco Deepens While the Media Writes Puff Pieces About the EPO

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 7:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The copy-paste-edit ‘artists’ (stenography for Team Battistelli)…

Two boat seats

Summary: Ignoring all the internal EPO issues and growing dissatisfaction among users of the European patent system, news sites choose to instead hail patents on life and copy-paste press releases (sent to them by the EPO’s PR team)

THE EPO continues to avoid every debate which actually matters. It refuses to mention anything that users of the patent system actually bring up. Earlier today it spouted out several more “SME”-themed tweets [1, 2], but nothing is ever said about the conflicts, the scandals, and growing concerns/complaints from users. It’s like an alternate universe and as long as the press is being paid or threatened by the EPO it’s not easy to come across actual information. The EPO is ‘googlebombing’ the news with help from external PR agencies.

Professor Broß, a retired German judge, understands that the EPO — as it stands at the moment — is truly defunct. Being retired, he’s able to say this without substantial risk to his career or his reputation. The EPO is not functioning and the UPC can therefore not go ahead. “Prof Broß gave a very thoughtful and detailed speech yesterday,” one UPC booster wrote today. Broß is apparently still active in that area. Of particular interest to him is Battistelli’s attack on the Boards of Appeal. notably judges. Apropos, earlier today the EPO wrote: “You’ll find all practical aspects related to the Boards of Appeal relocation here” (link to the EPO’s site).

Now that the Boards of Appeal do not function properly (fearing Battistelli, grossly understaffed etc.) we cannot expect hard-hitting judgments regarding the Office. The Office is now busy spreading patently untrue claims about patent quality, aided by CPVO (yet again). CPVO tweeted (for the EPO to then retweet) a press release along with this text: “The CPVO and the EPO organised a public seminar to illustrate the way the two offices co-operate to support #innovation on #PlantVarietyProtection and #patent. See press release…”

It’s that same text with the lies about patent quality. The lies are being spread. Shame on CPVO for lending a hand to Battistelli’s lies, which are used to perpetuate injustice/abuse. Truth be told, EPO patent quality has become so bad that it now grants patents on life itself (not even the USPTO did that at the time). Earlier today we saw this new puff piece about CRISPR patents and it said:

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard may lose a substantial number of European patent claims covering CRISPR/Cas9, but it has at least one trump card to play before we get to that stage, one European patent attorney has told LSIPR.

Quite a few people in this area were shocked at what the EPO had done. That made European Patents look like the laughing stock of patents, for patents in this area are verboten pretty much everywhere in the world. Granting patents on life, seeds, plants and genome is no source of pride but a source of great embarrassment. It’s a deviation from the stated purpose of patent systems, but not if one asks sites like the above (an advocate of that) or the EPO-leaning IAM, which earlier today wrote a puff piece to that effect.

Unfortunately, real journalism rather than puff pieces (or copy-paste jobs of EPO press releases) is rather rare when it comes to EPO matters. Earlier today we saw this one exception to that. It’s an article about the workers of the EPO; the EPSU letter got some press coverage (at the end) and it said this:

The European Public Service Union (EPSU) has penned a letter to the European Patent Office’s (EPO) Administrative Council chairman, Christopher Ernst, asking the council to reject new renewable five-year fixed-term contracts.

Proposals brought by outgoing EPO president Benoît Battistelli in October, which would scrap permanent employment contracts for all new staff in favour of the fixed-term contracts, were promptly rejected by the Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO), which described the move as “Kafkaesque”.

In its letter, EPSU said that a new employment framework that “takes into account the needs of workers, their rights and improves health and safety and well-being, and at the same time seeks to strengthen the work of EPO,” would be worthwhile, but said this would best be done through social dialogue and negotiations rather than imposed precariousness.

EPO drives out almost all the talent that’s left. The new workers, as EPO insiders explain, are less likely to raise concerns about declining patent quality because they’re too new to compare and too insecure in the contractual sense.

The SEP/Patent Trolls’ Lobby Insults the Victims, Calling Them “Free Riders”

Posted in Europe, Patents, Standard at 6:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cool guy

Summary: A tax on standards, in the form of patents (usually software patents), is celebrated by the FRAND/SEP lobby, which basically serves to protect the powerful while blocking everyone else

YESTERDAY we wrote about the EPO‘s friends, who represent or front for patent trolls, influencing the European Commission (EC) into the patent thickets trap. They now add insult to injury.

For those who don’t understand the ramifications, see this new article titled “Qualcomm 5G Royalty Rate Shines Light on Dispute With Apple”, among others [1, 2] (we mentioned more articles about it last night).

“They now add insult to injury.”Now Bristows, which has long pushed the SEP agenda (often in IP Kat, where it also promotes software patents, patent trolls, and UPC) cites and quotes nasty lobbying groups, noting that they’re happy about the EC’s SEP sellout. It said (yesterday): “Today the EU Commission published their much-awaited and debated communication on standard essential patent (SEP) licensing. The document entitled “Setting out the EU approach to Standard Essential Patents” contains 14 pages of key principles aimed at fostering a “balanced, smooth and predictable framework for SEPs”. The key principles reflect two stated objectives: (1) incentivising the development and inclusion of technologies in standards by providing fair/adequate return and (2) ensuring fair access to standardized technologies to promote wide dissemination.”

Channeling pro-SEP agenda (like BSA/IP Europe people), it linked to this post, which not only celebrates but also insults. Benjamin Henrion took note of this part: “Where opportunities to find negotiated outcomes have been exhausted, our position remains that courts are the best venue to enforce Intellectual Property Rights, including to find remedies for growing marketplace trends such as ‘patent freeriding’ by implementers that use our innovations without taking a license or paying royalties.”

“Patent freeriders means poor software developers who write code,” Henrion noted. See the “about” section (it’s structured like a press release): “free riders that rely on R&D investments made by others to earn higher profits…”

“No signs of dignity there.”Apart from the fact that it’s a slur which dodges a real debate about how standards come into being, it also stigmatises the ‘opposition’. No signs of dignity there.

“The SEPs guidance was particularly well received,” Managing IP wrote today. “Well received”? By who?!

Well, patent trolls and cartels. But Managing IP works for them, so that’s all that matters apparently.

The Patent Trolls’ Lobby is Already Pushing for the USPTO to Help Make Patent Trolls “Great Again”

Posted in America, Patents at 12:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: Watchtroll, IAM, and the Plot to Overthrow Patent Reformer at the USPTO in Order to Make Litigation (and Trolls) Great Again

Make Patents Great Again

Summary: Sites such as Watchtroll and IAM already try very hard to influence and manipulate the patent system into becoming more permissive (for patent trolls) while emboldened by the idea that a “Patent Evangelist” (as IP Watch put it) is being put in charge of the US patent office (USPTO)

THE year 2017 has only one month left. Throughout the year, on many occasions, IAM heavily lobbied (usually by shaming) the Indian patent system into introducing software patents. IAM is basically a lobbying organ and we know who’s funding it. It is sometimes publicly disclosed (sometimes reluctantly or accidentally). Earlier this week it received some more money from the patent ‘industry’ in India (it typically runs pro-software patents pieces for this ‘industry’, which harms India’s reputable software industry).

Watchtroll great againWhat we would rather turn our attention to, however, is this IAM event with the USPTO‘s Director Matal in it. IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby, together with Watchtroll, helped promote a misguided politician who wants to help trolls. We are quite surprised that Matal agreed to attend after this lobby had attacked Michelle Lee, his close colleague. Watchtroll and IAM are agitator sites that provoke patent defendants and politicians/officials who pursue science, patent sanity, and patent justice. They’re backed and/or funded by truly nefarious actors and they know it. EPO management is among these actors.

Days ago we wrote about Iancu, the next Director of the USPTO, which Trump is making a swamp of. IP Watch wrote about it yesterday. To quote:

President Trump’s nominee to be the next director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Andrei Iancu, could receive Senate committee approval by the holidays if things line up just right. If appointed, he told a nomination hearing today that he would “evangelize” the IP system and make possible reform of the patent review process a high priority.

Now watch how the patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, responds. It is already putting pressure on Iancu, including these debunked points regarding software patents:

1) Does Congress need to act to clear up the uncertainty around 101?

Thanks to a succession of decisions from the Supreme Court a cloud of uncertainty continues to hang over just what is patent eligible in the US. That is particularly true in medical diagnostics, but has also affected parts of the tech industry. There is a growing sense that Congress needs to take action to bring greater clarity to section 101 of the US patent statute — the part that focuses on patent eligible subject matter — but just six years after the America Invents Act, does Iancu agree that more legislation is needed?

The list goes on. They know that Iancu is the “swamp” (patent system governed by the patent ‘industry’) and they have just added: “A quick overall summary: Iancu seems opposed to further anti-troll legislation, at least for now; recognises there are serious issues with eligibility following SCOTUS cases; acknowledges widespread disquiet with IPR regime; understands inventors need incentives & protections.”

If Trump’s definition of “swamp” is people who don’t give absolutely everything to billionaires and oligarchs, then that makes perfect sense. He’s now doing that to the USPTO too. Conservative patent extremists are loving it. They don’t have anything to do with science and technology anyway.

EPO’s Minnoye “Pushed for Quick Searches and Quick Grants, With the Result That Every Recent File Was De Facto Dealt With Under PACE.”

Posted in Europe at 11:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Treating the EPC like he treated the Supreme Court

Willy Minnoye speaks

Summary: Willy Minnoye, a former EPO Vice-President (DG 1), left a troubling legacy of lots of low-quality patents which generally damage the perception of European Patents being legitimate and difficult to successfully challenge; moreover, phantoms of the European Patent Convention (EPC), which is routinely being violated by the President of the EPO, come back to haunt the patent ‘industry’ (the subject came up last week)

MR. Minnoye retired from the EPO earlier this year, but the damage he had done isn’t over. As one comment put it a short while ago, it “remains to be seen if the new Chairman of the AC [Dr. Ernst] will be in a position to resist a move from the EPO,” alluding to issues that recently resurfaced and the EPO tries hard to distract from. To quote:

Another reason why the overall position of the EPO has anything but strengthened by the tenant of the 10th floor is the recent proposal of VP Operations at the EPI Council in Warsaw to introduce deferred examination!

If deferred examination is now seen as a solution alleged problems at the EPO, it means that the present president will go from early certainty to long term uncertainty. What a move for the better!!

The predecessor of Mr Minnoye had taken measures to reduce the backlog of old files. And it worked fine, but efforts were needed. When taking over, his successor, Mr Minnoye, VP1 until June 2017, has ignored those measures, and merely pushed for quick searches and quick grants, with the result that every recent file was de facto dealt with under PACE. I refer to Mr Bausch’s earlier comments about this topic on this blog.

Deferred examination was foreseen in Art 95EPC 1973, and has been deleted in EPC 2000. It was thus clearly the will of the legislator not to allow deferred examination. There is thus no legal basis for such a move.

There again, trying to introduce such a measure shortly before a successor takes office, show the contempt of the present incumbent towards its successor.

It remains to be seen if the new Chairman of the AC will be in a position to resist a move from the EPO to introduce such an odd measure.

Yes, those are all legitimate points. Watch the response/correction to the above (from ‘Enough is enough”):

https://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/epc/1973/e/ar95.html

Enough is enough,

http://www.aicipi.it/docs/deferred_examination.pdf

states that the reason to delete Art 95 had been that it was too restrictive in allowing deferred examination. Deleting it meant that deferred examination was not limited to a temporary measure by the EPO to manage a short term problem.

It does not surprise us that the EPO now floats in a post-EPC world, basically unhinged from any legal document (which is being actively enforced/adhered to). This is crazy! Appeals now lack independence from the Office (judges complain about Battistelli’s overreach) and what about oppositions? They too must be feeling pressured by the ‘production’ targets. Yesterday a firm circulated this press release which said:

Forward Pharma A/S (NASDAQ:FWP) (“Forward” or the “Company”) today announced the filing of further written submissions in the European Opposition Proceeding for the EP2801355 patent (“the ‘355 patent”) with the Opposition Division of the European Patent Office (“EPO”).

“We continue to vigorously defend our intellectual property and have filed strong argumentation to uphold our issued ‘355 patent,” said Dr. Claus Bo Svendsen, CEO of Forward. He further added, “both the ‘355 opposition and the U.S. appeal are progressing as planned and we expect decisions in both Europe and United States in 2018.”

We sometimes feel like the harm to the EPO’s reputation is so profound that the EPO may never recover. Considering Ernst’s rejections of the stakeholders’ assertions regarding patent quality, none of this is going to change. The next President, who is relatively young, will just be a ‘softer’ version of Battistelli.

ILO is About to Publish “Exceptional” Decisions, Most of Them Regarding the EPO

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 10:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: Systemic Injustice at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Causes Serious Harm to Complainants’ Health, Including EPO Complainants

Guy Ryder
Guy Ryder, Director-General of ILO

Summary: The International Labour Organisation (ILO), which is responsible for ‘externally’ auditing a large number of international organisations to assure justice, prepares to say exceptional things about 5 appeals which emanated from the EPO

JUSTICE is dead at the EPO. It’s not just on its death throes, it’s literally dead. Even judges are subjected to gross injustice and are now at the receiving end of legal bullying (e.g. the judge who is still permanently suspended and in limbo in Munich because of a defamation case).

This is where ILO was, in principle, supposed to step in and intervene, but it does not. It’s embarrassing not just for the EPO but for ILO too. ILO hopefully recognises by now that it’s growingly complicit in EPO abuses because ILO is, for a verifiable fact, cited by Dutch authorities as an excuse for exempting the EPO from the law (even when it clearly and flagrantly violates Dutch law). It’s incredible that something so bad is happening in Europe and most politicians remain apathetic. They don’t wish to rock this boat for various personal/career reasons.

“ILO hopefully recognises by now that it’s growingly complicit in EPO abuses because ILO is, for a verifiable fact, cited by Dutch authorities as an excuse for exempting the EPO from the law (even when it clearly and flagrantly violates Dutch law)”Focusing again on the aforementioned attack on the judge — a poetic move in the sense that it’s injustice against a justice maker — early in the month we wrote about the latest on this (planned party of Battistelli) and 11 days ago we learned that almost nobody will attend. Appeals at the EPO are no longer possible because judges admittedly lack a sense of independence and watch how Battistelli sneaks into the Boards, reminding them that they have no independence at all.

Sent to every member of the appeals board: “The official inauguration of the new premises will take place on 14 December in connection with the 154th meeting of the administrative council. The president of the office and the president of the boards of appeal invite you to this event, which is planned from 12:45 to 14:00 including speeches and a flying buffet lunch. For those of you interested in coming, please indicate it by reform of this email, latest by Monday 4 December noon.”

“ILO failed to fulfill its duties, at least as far as the EPO is concerned.”The “president of the office” is Battistelli. He wants to absolutely control everything and he wants people whom he punished to celebrate this punlishment with him. What a nerve this sociopath has. The authors of the EPC must be turning in their graves (few are likely to be alive at this stage).

In any event, might some reprieve be on the way? ILO, according to this comment from yesterday, has news: (13 comments in that thread now)

The ILO Administrative Tribunal has now announced the exceptional public delivery on December 6 of a series of judgements including no less than FIVE cases against the EPO, which it considers have to be delivered rapidly (i.e. perhaps just in time for the December session of the AC?)
Obviously a few more dark clouds over Battistelli’s achievements under the benevolent supervision of the AC.

http://www.ilo.org/tribunal/news/WCMS_606486/lang–en/index.htm

According to the original, ILO is going to say something very important about the EPO as early as next week. We don’t know which cases it’s about, but 5 out of 8 cases are to involve the EPO. To quote:

The Tribunal will exceptionally deliver in public eight judgments adopted at its 125th Session separately and earlier than the remaining 79 judgments also adopted at the same session.

The eight judgments concern 2 cases against the CDE, 5 cases against the EPO and 1 case against the UPU.

The Tribunal has considered for various reasons that those judgments should be delivered rapidly.

They will be announced in public on Wednesday, 6 December 2017 at 3 pm at the ILO (Room XI, floor R2) and will be published on the Tribunal’s website (ilo.org/trib) shortly after the delivery.

The remaining judgments adopted at the 125th Session will be delivered on Wednesday, 24 January 2018.

We certainly hope that ILO understands the degree to which its inaction contributed to depression (maybe even suicides) and perhaps irreversible collapse of the EPO. ILO failed to fulfill its duties, at least as far as the EPO is concerned.

Links 30/11/2017: PHP 7.2 and Cutelyst 1.11.0

Posted in News Roundup at 9:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • 2017: A year of highs and lows for Linux and open source

    Ah, 2017, it was a good year for Linux—one that continued the solidification of the open source platform on so many levels. From the consumer mobile space to supercomputers, Linux dominated certain sectors in a way no other platform could.

    Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the year—both the highs and lows—and hopefully draw a conclusion that 2017 was a banner year for Linux.

  • Desktop

    • Chromebook Users Can Now Take Android-Like Screenshots While in Tablet Mode

      Google’s Chromium evangelist François Beaufort shares today with us a new feature for Chromebooks, the ability to take Android-like screenshots in Chrome OS.

      Discovered last month via a commit in the Chromium Gerrit repository, the Android-like screenshot functionality has landed today in the Chrome OS Dev channel and you can enjoy it right now on your Chromebook if you enabled the developer channel.

  • Kernel Space

    • KAISER: hiding the kernel from user space

      Since the beginning, Linux has mapped the kernel’s memory into the address space of every running process. There are solid performance reasons for doing this, and the processor’s memory-management unit can ordinarily be trusted to prevent user space from accessing that memory. More recently, though, some more subtle security issues related to this mapping have come to light, leading to the rapid development of a new patch set that ends this longstanding practice for the x86 architecture.

    • Linux Foundation

      • The Linux Foundation Announces 22 New Silver Members

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announced that 22 new organizations have joined the Foundation as Silver members. Linux Foundation members help support development of the greatest shared technology resources in history, while accelerating their own innovation through open source leadership and participation.

    • Graphics Stack

      • 16-bit Vulkan/SPIR-V Support Revised For Intel’s Driver

        Igalia developers have published their latest version of the big patch-set implementing 16-bit support within Intel’s Vulkan driver and supporting the necessary 16-bit storage SPIR-V changes.

        Developers at consulting firm Igalia have been tasked the past few months with getting this 16-bit data “half float” support in place for the Intel open-source Vulkan driver with VK_KHR_16bit_storage and SPIR-V’s SPV_KHR_16bit_storage along with the necessary plumbing to Mesa’s GLSL and NIR code.

      • The Many Open-Source Radeon Linux Driver Advancements Of 2017

        There were many sizable open-source Radeon Linux driver accomplishments this year. It was this year in which the RadeonSI OpenGL driver matured enough to compete with — and sometimes surpass — the Radeon Windows driver when talking raw OpenGL performance, RadeonSI can also outperform the AMDGPU-PRO OpenGL hybrid driver in many Linux gaming tests, the RADV Vulkan driver matured a lot, and many other milestones were reached.

        Given the latest round of Windows vs. Linux Radeon gaming tests yesterday and the end of the year quickly approaching, I figured I would provide a list now about some of the major feats reached this year for the open-source Radeon graphics driver stack.

      • Compute Shader & GLSL 4.30 Support For R600 Gallium3D

        After recently getting some older Radeon GPUs to OpenGL 4.2 with new R600g patches and making other improvements to R600g, David Airlie has now sent out a set of patches for getting compute shaders and GLSL 4.30 working for some older pre-GCN GPUs with the R600 Gallium3D driver.

        Airlie sent out today patches getting compute shaders and GL Shading Language 4.30 working in R600g. It seems to be working out the best at the moment with the Radeon HD 6400 “Caicos” graphics cards while the HD 6900 “Cayman” series currently hangs on compute. For running OpenGL 4 on R600g, the HD 5800 series and HD 6900 series generally tends to be the best due to having real FP64 support working where as the other generations of hardware only expose OpenGL 3.3 by default (but can use a version override to later GL4 versions if not needing FP64 support).

    • Benchmarks

      • Windows 10 vs. Linux 4.15 + Mesa 17.4-dev Radeon Gaming Performance

        As we end out November, here is a fresh look at the current Windows 10 Pro Fall Creator’s Update versus Ubuntu 17.10 with the latest Linux 4.15 kernel and Mesa 17.4-dev Radeon graphics driver stack as we see how various games compete under Windows 10 and Linux with these latest AMD drivers on the Radeon RX 580 and RX Vega 64 graphics cards.

      • The fastest and slowest versions of Linux

        To see which version of Linux is the quickest, Phoronix has conducted a set of benchmarks measuring the total boot time of 11 Linux distributions.

        The tests also measured the boot time of separate components, such as the loader and kernel of each distribution.

        Systemd benchmark, part of Phoronix Test Suite 7.4.0, was used to benchmark the boot time of the distributions, and the results were published on OpenBenchmarking.org.

        The tests show that the boot time of Linux distributions can vary substantially, with some systems taking over twice as long to boot up as others.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Cutelyst 1.11.0 released!

        Cutelyst the Qt Web framework got a new release, this is likely to be the last of the year and will be one of lasts releases of the 1.x.x series. I’d like to add HTTP/2 support before branching 1.x.x and having master as 2.0 but I’m not yet sure I’ll do that yet.

        For the next year I’d like to have Cutelyst 2 packaged on most distros soon due Ubuntu’s LTS being released in April, and H2 might delay this or I delay it since it can be done using a front-end server like Nginx.

      • Kubuntu Kafe Live approaching

        This Saturday ( December 2nd ) the second Kubuntu Kafe Live, our online video cafe will be taking place from 21:00 UTC.
        Join the Kubuntu development community, and guests as our intrepid hosts.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Large number of XML Nodes and GXml performance

        GXml performance has been improved since initial releases.

        First implementation parse all to libxml2 tree and then to a GObject set of classes, in order to provide GObject Serialization framework.

        Over time GXmlGom was added as a set of classes avoiding to use libxml2 tree improving both memory and performance on Serialization.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Solus Review For Casual Users

        I have been watching the progress with Solus Linux from afar for some time now. I’ve even had other Freedom Penguin contributors share their thoughts on Solus. So when I decided to give everyone my review, I wanted to make sure I cover the basics…then move on to the stuff I cared about – using it as a daily driver.

        Solus is not based on any other distro. It’s a Linux unto itself and this article shares my experience with it.

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Debian-Based Univention Corporate Server 4.2 OS Gets Microsoft AD Improvements

          Coming two and a half months after the second point release, Univention Corporate Server 4.2-3 is a small maintenance update that appears to mostly address various regressions reported by users from previous versions of the operating systems. These include more checks for Microsoft Active Directory (AD) domains and expanded configurability and usability of the management system.

          “The usability and configurability of the management system were further expanded. The design of the assistants and dialogues of the management system was revised with regard to usability aspects,” explains developer Nico Gulden. “Additional configuration options for the single sign-on of the management system have also been added, e. g. the configurability of the certificate used.”

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Someone Tries to Bring Back Ubuntu’s Unity from the Dead as an Official Spin

              Long-time Ubuntu member Dale Beaudoin ran a poll last week on the official Ubuntu forums to take the pulse of the community and see if they are interested in an Ubuntu Unity Remix that would be released alongside Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) next year and be supported for nine months or five years.

              Thirty people voted in the poll, with 67 percent of them opting for an LTS (Long Term Support) release of the so-called Ubuntu Unity Remix, while 33 percent voted for the 9-month supported release. It also looks like this upcoming Ubuntu Unity Spin looks to become an official flavor, yet this means commitment from those developing it.

            • Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Is Available To Download

              Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” has been released and is available to download from the official website. The release is based on Ubuntu 16.04, contains many improvements and new applications. Some important software were rewritten making them work much faster and look cleaner. Some less useful applications have also been removed to clean the system installation. So let’s look at the major improvements in Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia”.

            • Linux Mint 18.3 Cinnamon and MATE editions released
  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Making open source evergreen

    Danese Cooper is one of open source’s strongest advocates, credited with advancing the open sourcing of technology at major companies including Sun Microsystems, Intel, and now PayPal, where she has served as head of open source since 2014.

    In her Lightning Talk at All Things Open 2017, “Making Open Source Evergreen,” Danese presented a ringing call to arms about what she considers open source’s most pressing problem: “Not knowing how to make the right choices for the future of the movement.”

  • Tech giants are using open source frameworks to dominate the AI community

    Tech giants such as Google and Baidu spent from $20 billion to $30 billion on AI last year, according to the recent McKinsey Global Institute Study. Out of this wealth, 90 percent fueled R&D and deployment, and 10 percent went toward AI acquisitions.

    Research plays a crucial role in the AI movement, and tech giants have to do everything in their power to seem viable to the AI community. AI is mostly based on research advances and state-of-the-art technology, which is advancing very quickly. Therefore, there is no business need to make closed infrastructure solutions, because within a few months everything will be totally different.

  • Apache Impala, a native analytics database for Hadoop

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has graduated Apache Impala to become a Top-Level Project (TLP).

    Apache Impala itself is an analytic database for Apache Hadoop, the open source software framework used for distributed storage and processing of dataset of big data.

  • Vespa, Yahoo’s search code, released as open source

    Vespa, Yahoo’s big data processing and serving engine, has been released as open source by Oath, the Verizon subsidiary that’s been the owner of record of Yahoo since June 2017. It is now available on GitHub.

    With over 1 billion users, Vespa is currently used across many different Oath brands – including Yahoo.com, Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Gemini and Flickr, to process and serve billions of daily requests over billions of documents while responding to search queries, making recommendations, and providing personalised content and advertisements.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla’s new open source model aims to revolutionize voice recognition

        You may have noticed the steady and sure progress of voice recognition tech in recent times – all the big tech firms want to make strides in this arena if only to improve their digital assistants, from Cortana to Siri – but Mozilla wants to push harder, and more broadly, on this front with the release of an open source speech recognition model.

      • Mozilla releases open source speech recognition tools
      • Announcing the Initial Release of Mozilla’s Open Source Speech Recognition Model and Voice Dataset

        With the holiday, gift-giving season upon us, many people are about to experience the ease and power of new speech-enabled devices. Technical advancements have fueled the growth of speech interfaces through the availability of machine learning tools, resulting in more Internet-connected products that can listen and respond to us than ever before.

        At Mozilla we’re excited about the potential of speech recognition. We believe this technology can and will enable a wave of innovative products and services, and that it should be available to everyone.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Public Services/Government

    • European Commission launches first ever bug bounty

      The European Commission has launched its first ever bug bounty. It will award between EUR 100 and EUR 3000 for bugs found in VLC media player. The programme will run until the first weeks of January or until the bounty budget is exhausted.

      Which bugs will qualify for an award is at the discretion of the VLC team, according to the announcement by HackerOne, a commercial bug bounty platform. “Qualified security vulnerabilities will be rewarded based on severity and impact,” HackerOne says.

      In the first phase, the programme will invite hackers with previous experience on the HackerOne platform to participate. After three weeks, the programme will be opened to everyone.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • A Growing Open Access Toolbox

        Legal methods to retrieve paywalled articles for free are on the rise, but better self-archiving practices could help improve accessibility.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • An OpenHardware 1-port Hub?

        I’ve spent the last couple of evenings designing an OpenHardware USB 2.0 1-port hub tentatively called the ColorHub (although, better ideas certainly welcome). Back a bit: What’s the point in a 1-port hub?

  • Programming/Development

    • SciPy reaches 1.0

      After 16 years of evolution, the SciPy project has reached version 1.0. SciPy, a free-software project, has become one of the most popular computational toolkits for scientists from a wide range of disciplines, and is largely responsible for the ascendancy of Python in many areas of scientific research. While the 1.0 release is significant, much of the underlying software has been stable for some time; the “1.0″ version number reflects that the project as a whole is on solid footing.

    • Javascript and Functional Programming: An Introduction

      Most importantly, these tools and paradigms are going to help us achieve our (my) ultimate goal of shipping products faster. Stay tuned for the next post, where we discuss functions in JS, why they are special and how their characteristics enable functional programming.

Leftovers

  • Top software failures – the worst software glitches in recent history

    There have been different ransomware attacks, IT failures, data leakages and more which have affected organisations and customers around the world. Let’s take a look back at the worst software failures in recent history.

  • Tap the power of community with organized chaos

    In this article, I want to share with you of the power of an unconference—because I believe it’s a technique anyone can use to generate innovative ideas, harness the power of participation, and strengthen community ties. I’ve developed a 90-minute session that mimics the effects of an unconference, and you can use it to generate engagement with a small group of people and tap into their ideas surrounding a topic of your choice.

    An “unconference” is a loosely organized event format designed specifically to maximize the exchange of ideas and the sharing of knowledge in a group driven by a common purpose. While the structure of an unconference is planned, the content and exchange of ideas for breakout sessions is not. Participants plan and execute unconference sessions by voting on the content they’d like to experience.

  • Science

    • House GOP to Propose Sweeping Changes to Higher Education

      The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives this week will propose sweeping legislation that aims to change where Americans go to college, how they pay for it, what they study, and how their success—or failure—affects the institutions they attend.

      The most dramatic and far-reaching element of the plan is a radical revamp of the $1.34 trillion federal student loan program. It would put caps on borrowing and eliminate some loan forgiveness programs.

      The ambitious package—a summary of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal—would be the biggest overhaul of education policy in decades. The rising expense of higher education is deeply troubling to many Americans and many increasingly question its value. Despite a steady rise in the share of high-school graduates heading to college, a skills gap has left more than 6 million jobs unfilled, a significant drag on the economy.

  • Security

    • SEC hack [sic] was preceded by years of warnings about lax cybersecurity

      After the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosed in September that its EDGAR corporate filing system had been hacked [sic] a year earlier, Chairman Jay Clayton declared cybersecurity one of his agency’s top priorities.

    • Intel’s “Management Engine”

      Concern about the ME goes back further. Sparked by a talk given at the Chaos Computer Conference by [Joanna Rutkowska] of the Qubes OS project, back in January 2016 Brian Benchoff at Hackaday wrote:

      Extremely little is known about the ME, except for some of its capabilities. The ME has complete access to all of a computer’s memory, its network connections, and every peripheral connected to a computer. It runs when the computer is hibernating, and can intercept TCP/IP traffic. Own the ME and you own the computer.

    • Here’s How to Temporarily Fix the macOS High Sierra Bug That Gives Full Admin Access to Your Mac Sans Password

      A newly discovered bug in macOS High Sierra enables the root superuser on a Mac with a blank password and no security check, essentially giving anyone full access to your Mac.

      Apple is likely already working on a fix, but in the meantime, there’s a temporary workaround — enabling the root user with a password.

    • Anyone Can Hack [sic] MacOS High Sierra Just by Typing “Root”
    • Major Apple security flaw grants admin access on macOS High Sierra without password

      However, The Verge has been able to confirm the major security issue remains present as of MacOS 10.13.1, the current release of High Sierra. When the problem is exploited, the user is authenticated into a “System Administrator” account and is given full ability to view files and even reset or change passwords for pre-existing users on that machine. Apple ID email addresses tied to users on the Mac can be removed and altered, as well. There are likely many more ways that someone taking advantage of the issue could wreak havoc on a Mac desktop or laptop.

    • New security update fixes macOS root bug
    • How Robust is the Randomness?
    • Hacker pleads guilty to huge Yahoo hack, admits helping Russia’s FSB

      A Canadian man has pleaded guilty to hacking charges related to a 2014 spear-phishing operation of Yahoo employees. The hack ultimately compromised 500 million Yahoo accounts.

      The operative, Karim Baratov, appeared in a San Francisco federal court on Tuesday afternoon. He also admitted that his role was to “hack webmail accounts of individuals of interest to the FSB,” the Russian internal security service. Baratov then sent those passwords to his alleged co-conspirator, Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev.

    • Some Websites Are Mining Cryptocurrency Using Your CPU Even When You Close Browser

      The advent of cryptocurrencies was bound to spark the interest of cybercriminals who are always looking to exploit some technology to steal some clicks or install malware. In the recent times, we’ve come across reports of a huge number of websites using your PCU power to mine cryptocurrency; the browser extensions and Android apps aren’t untouched by this epidemic. Developers have also come up with different options to ban this practice altogether.

      In the previous research work conducted by security firms, it was found that a miner could be run as long as the browser was running; close the browser and mining activity stops. However, as per the latest technique spotted by Malwarebytes, some dubious website owners can mine digital coins like Monero even after browser window is closed.

    • Top 10 Common Hacking Techniques You Should Know About

      Using simple hacks, a hacker can know about your personal unauthorized information which you might not want to reveal. Knowing about these common hacking techniques like phishing, DDoS, clickjacking etc., could come handy for your personal safety.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • ROCA: Return Of the Coppersmith Attack

      On October 30, 2017, a group of Czech researchers from Masaryk University presented the ROCA paper at the ACM CCS Conference, which earned the Real-World Impact Award. We briefly mentioned ROCA when it was first reported but haven’t dug into details of the vulnerability yet. Because of its far-ranging impact, it seems important to review the vulnerability in light of the new results published recently.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • White House May Share Nuclear Power Technology With Saudi Arabia

      The Trump administration is holding talks on providing nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia — a move that critics say could upend decades of U.S. policy and lead to an arms race in the Middle East.

      The Saudi government wants nuclear power to free up more oil for export, but current and former American officials suspect the country’s leaders also want to keep up with the enrichment capabilities of their rival, Iran.

      Saudi Arabia needs approval from the U.S. in order to receive sensitive American technology. Past negotiations broke down because the Saudi government wouldn’t commit to certain safeguards against eventually using the technology for weapons.

    • How Trump Botched Iran Policy

      Erdbrink summarizes the overall effect this way: “In short, it appears that Mr. Trump and the Saudis have helped the government achieve what years of repression could never accomplish: widespread public support for the hard-line view that the United States and Riyadh cannot be trusted and that Iran is now a strong and capable state capable of staring down its enemies.”

      Such an effect is unsurprising. Nor are the underlying dynamics unique to Iran. Two fundamental processes are at work in Iran to produce the effect Erdbrink is observing. Both are foreshadowed by many earlier experiences of countries that felt especially threatened by a foreign power.

      One is the tendency of nations to unite and to overcome internal differences in the face of such a threat. This is the familiar phenomenon of rallying around the flag. Iranians are rallying around their flag today.

    • Refusing to Learn Bloody Lessons

      President Trump’s continued Afghan War pursues the same failed path as the prior 16 years, with the U.S. political/media elites learning no lessons, says former Marine officer Matthew Hoh in an interview with the American Herald Tribune.

    • US Bows to Israeli/Saudi Alliance in Blaming Iran

      At first, American officials couldn’t believe it. In 1993, the Israelis began pressuring the Clinton administration to view Iran as the greatest global threat. Only a short time earlier, in the 1980s, Israel had been cooperating with the Iranians militarily and selling them weapons to fight Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War.

    • A rare moment of bipartisan unity: Can Congress check Trump’s war powers?

      Trump has always been petty, but this was particularly obnoxious. He had already demanded gratitude from the players themselves, and they had thanked him publicly for speaking to the Chinese president on their behalf. He simply couldn’t rise above his voracious need for approbation to let LaVar Ball’s criticism go and behave like a mature statesman. Worse, he showed foreign leaders once again that he can be manipulated through even the smallest slights or granting of favors. The man simply cannot play it cool.

      His trips overseas have shown that he knows nothing of diplomacy and has no natural instinct for it. Trump has been rude and aggressive toward America’s European allies until they figured out that he needs to be treated like a spoiled dauphin and treated to big spectacles, as French President Emmanuel Macron did when he invited Trump to the Bastille Day celebrations in July.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Russia-gate Inquisitors Subpoena Journalist

      The House Intelligence Committee, as part of its Russia-gate investigation, has issued a subpoena demanding the testimony of journalist-activist-and-satirist Randy Credico presumably because he produced a series on WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange, who oversaw the publication of leaked Democratic Party emails in 2016.

  • Finance

    • Global cryptocurrency crackdown sparks search for safe havens
    • Tory Brexiters to protest to No 10 about deal on £60bn divorce bill

      Hardline Tory Eurosceptics will protest to No 10 about Theresa May agreeing to pay a £60bn Brexit divorce bill over many years, with some warning they could be prepared to vote down a final deal if they do not ultimately get what they want.

      One Conservative MP said some members of the Brexit-supporting European Research Group were demanding a meeting with Julian Smith, the new chief whip, to make clear their unease with the idea of phased payments lasting many years.

    • Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren introduce a bill to provide $146B in aid to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

      As vulture capitalists and profiteers circle the devastation in America’s hurricane-struck island colonies, the Trump administration has nothing for them but more loans to pile onto their existing, crippling debt (even as affected mainland cities where more white people live get direct government aid).

      But the left wing of the Democratic Party has articulated a different vision for the future of the American citizens who live in these places: a “messaging bill” proposing $146 billion in aid to the islands, accompanied by debt forgiveness, in a package they call “A Marshall Plan for Puerto Rico.”

    • Here’s How $30 Billion In Bitcoins Got Lost Forever

      Cold Storage is one of the most interesting features of Bitcoin as it allows us to reserve cryptocurrency with extra precaution. It could be done using a USB drive, a paper wallet, an offline Bitcoin hardware wallet, etc. However, if you lose the access to such cold storage device, your digital currency gets lost.

    • Divided Britain, where the Brexit alarm is sounded but no one wants to hear

      There is a campaign running at the moment to inform people of the dangers of drug resistance. “Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family it risk,” shout the posters. GPs are familiar with the problem. Patients want medicine and don’t like hearing that their flu is caused by a virus. Antibiotics, which treat bacterial infection, won’t work. Misusing the pills nurtures vicious bugs that defy treatment when it is actually required.

      Seeing the slogan, I find it hard not to think that Brexit will one day be recorded as case of quack political medicine on an industrial scale. The obvious diagnosis of the referendum outcome was a majority desire to leave the EU, so the response necessarily begins with a commitment to do just that. The democratic treatment of an election cannot be to ignore the result.

    • Puerto Rican Students Organize National Strike Demanding Transparency in Response to Austerity Measures

      University students across Puerto Rico organized a national strike that sparked demonstrations and protests on May 1, 2017, as reported by David Cordero, Sarah Vázquez, and Ronald Ávila Claudio for the Metro. The strike, el Paro Nacional, resulted from public outrage over announced austerity measures affecting education and pensions, as well as outrage over the lack of transparency in the process through which those measures were approved. Due to a mass promotion effort, multiple civic organizations, student groups, and individual citizens came together to stop all work and engage in protest.

      The austerity measures, including $512 million in cuts to university funding, were to be implemented by a fiscal joint committee, la Junta de Control Fiscal, as part of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), a US federal law responding to the island’s fiscal crisis. PROMESA, introduced by Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI) on May 18, 2016 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on June 30, 2016, established the joint committee as “an Oversight Board with broad powers of budgetary and financial control over Puerto Rico.”

    • Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students

      The Republican tax plan winding its way through Congress includes a special middle finger to the nation’s graduate students.

      It’s a little bit wonky, so stay with me here. I’ll explain how it affects me, since I’m an actual graduate student.

      Going to grad school would’ve been entirely out of reach for me if I had to pay full tuition for my education. Getting a PhD takes at least five years and often more. I don’t have a spouse, trust fund, or parents to cover my cost of living or my tuition.

      If I had to pay for my own education, it would’ve been simply out of the question. This is hardly uncommon.

    • Why The Republican Tax Plans Do Nothing To Help Genuine Small Businesses

      Republican tax plans passed in the House and out of the Senate Finance Committee contain provisions that their defenders claim will help small businesses by lowering top tax rates on “pass-through” income. The House Republican plan includes a new top tax rate of 25 percent on pass-through income. The Senate version of this proposal is different and more complicated, but the broad outcome is the same—a new, lower top tax rate on income that comes from pass-through businesses.

      These changes will not help genuine small businesses, however. The most important thing to remember in this debate is simply that while all small businesses are pass-through businesses, not all pass-through businesses are small businesses. This report fills in some details about the relationship between pass-through businesses and small businesses.

    • Monetary Imperialism

      In theory, the global financial system is supposed to help every country gain. Mainstream teaching of international finance, trade and “foreign aid” (defined simply as any government credit) depicts an almost utopian system uplifting all countries, not stripping their assets and imposing austerity. The reality since World War I is that the United States has taken the lead in shaping the international financial system to promote gains for its own bankers, farm exporters, its oil and gas sector, and buyers of foreign resources – and most of all, to collect on debts owed to it.

      Each time this global system has broken down over the past century, the major destabilizing force has been American over-reach and the drive by its bankers and bondholders for short-term gains. The dollar-centered financial system is leaving more industrial as well as Third World countries debt-strapped. Its three institutional pillars – the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World Trade Organization – have imposed monetary, fiscal and financial dependency, most recently by the post-Soviet Baltics, Greece and the rest of southern Europe. The resulting strains are now reaching the point where they are breaking apart the arrangements put in place after World War II.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Meredith Corp. Buys Time Inc. In Koch-Backed Deal

      The Iowa-based publisher, Meredith has agreed to pay $18.50 a share for Time —the New York publisher of People, Fortune and Sports Illustrated, which Meredith announced in a press release Sunday night.

    • Trump Firms Must Save Records for AGs’ Emoluments Lawsuit
    • Trumpland Has ‘The Sky Is Green’ Problem

      As frustrating as it is to have the President and others in position of power lie to the public, the question can be fairly asked: What does the Supreme Court have to say about this mendacity?

      The answer may disappoint you. Recent cases show that the Supreme Court has given Americans wide latitude to lie in everyday life. Take the case of Xavier Alvarez, a board member of the Three Valleys Water District in Claremont, California. At his first public meeting, Alvarez introduced himself by saying “I’m a retired marine of 25 years. I retired in the year 2001. Back in 1987, I was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. I got wounded many times by the same guy.”

      None of what Alvarez said was true. Not only had he not won the Congressional Medal of Honor, he had never even served in the U.S. military. Alvarez stepped on something of a land mine by claiming he won the Congressional of Medal of Honor. President George W. Bush signed into law the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, which made it a misdemeanor to falsely represent that one had received any U.S. military decoration or medal. Although the Act set the usual penalty at up to six months in prison, special opprobrium was reserved for the Medal of Honor: the prison term could be as much as a year.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • French porn star piqued over Macron’s desire to crackdown on X-rated films
    • Victorian Censorship: Research Finds Section 67 of IT Act Being Grossly Misused

      Two years after the controversial Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act was struck down by the Supreme Court, new research points at how another section of the Act is being similarly misused with grave consequences for freedom of expression, sexuality and digital rights.

      A research study by Point of View, a non-profit organisation that works on gender-rights, against sexual violence, and on digital rights of women, has drawn attention to the indiscriminate and increasing use of Section 67 of the IT Act by the police. The first ever in-depth study of Section 67 finds that it is leaning suspiciously towards the draconian Section 66A.

    • Watch live as City Club forum discusses censorship in schools

      Should the United States standardize what needs to be taught to students? Where is the line drawn on censoring ideas in education?

    • Animal Activists Stop Hiding Their Faces

      Because of so-called “ag-gag” laws enacted in eight states, people in animal rescue videos often blur out their own faces and keep their identities private, Butler reported. However, DxE activists do not hide their identities, despite the risks involved. DxE activist Wayne Hsiung said, “We’re daring these industries to try us in the court of public opinion and in the court of law… We are happy to have the debate with the industry. They are terrified that the public will side with us.” The group says that, to date, its twelve open rescue videos on Youtube have received over three million views combined.

    • Backlash Against Russian ‘Fake News’ Is Shutting Down Debate for Real

      A few days before the Halloween hearings held by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, where powerful tech companies would provide testimony about their roles disseminating “fake news” during the 2016 election, Twitter announced it would no longer accept advertising from the Russian government-sponsored broadcast channel Russia Today (RT), or the state-owned Sputnik.

      In a Twitter PublicPolicy blog post (10/26/17), the company said it would “off-board advertising from all accounts” owned by RT and Sputnik. The decision was based on its own assessment of the 2016 US election “and the US intelligence community’s conclusion that both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government.” As substantiation, Twitter merely provided a link to the January 6, 2017, intelligence report (ODNI).

      BuzzFeed (11/1/17) reported that Twitter based its decision on the intelligence report that called RT “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet,” also providing a link to the report without a word about its documentation or quality. Most reporting did the same, including the New York Times (10/26/17), which said Twitter’s decision “was informed by specific findings of the United States intelligence community, made public in January.”

    • Can a Government Official Block You on Twitter?

      Does the Constitution allow a public official to block people on social media? It depends.

      Thanks to a growing number of state and local government officials, not to mention national actors like President Trump, questions abound these days about the constitutionality of public officials blocking people on social media.

      The answers to those questions are complicated and depend on the facts of any given case. But, as we explain in a brief we filed in a Virginia lawsuit this week, the proper framework for courts to use in considering these cases should ensure that as our democracy increasingly moves online, the Constitution applies with no less force on the internet than it does offline.

      Two main principles should govern these cases: First, individuals do not lose their First Amendment rights just by virtue of gaining public office, no matter how powerful they are. Second, when they act on behalf of the government, elected officials are also subject to the limits that the First Amendment imposes on them as government actors.

      To answer this conundrum, courts must begin by asking which role a public official embodies on a given social media account: that of a private speaker or a government actor. If the answer is “private speaker,” she can limit her audience and curate the messages on the page, just like any other member of the public. But if the answer is “government actor,” the First Amendment dictates that she can’t prohibit access to her social media in three specific circumstances.

    • House Internet Censorship Bill Is Just Like the Senate Bill, Except Worse

      There are two bills racing through Congress that would undermine your right to free expression online and threaten the online communities that we all rely on. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865) might sound noble, but they would do nothing to fight sex traffickers. What they would do is force online web platforms to police their users’ activity much more stringently than ever before, silencing a lot of innocent voices in the process.

      We’ve already written extensively about SESTA and the dangers it would pose to online communities, but as the House of Representatives considers moving on FOSTA, it’s time to reiterate that all of the major flaws in SESTA are in FOSTA too.

    • Presidential Censorship Executed: Radio Station Shut Down

      Gendarmes reportedly stormed the premises on November 27, 2017, shortly after the ‘forbidden’ interview and carried out the orders of the governor of Labe to close down the station. The action of the governor, Mamadou Saïdou Diallo, came just two days after President Alpha Conde threatened to shut down any radio station which will give coverage to Aboubacar Soumah, Deputy Secretary General of the Free Union of Teachers and Researchers of Guinea (SLECG). Soumah is the coordinator of a general strike by members of the SLECG which in its second week and which President Conde has described as a rebellion.

    • Sweden’s New Government Censorship

      The Swedish government is now officially questioning free speech. A government agency has declared so-called Swedish “new media” — news outlets that refuse to subscribe to the politically correct orthodoxies of the mainstream media — a possible threat to democracy. In a government report, tellingly called “The White Hatred” written by Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut (Total Defense Research Institute), a government agency under the Swedish Ministry of Defense, Swedish new media such as Samhällsnytt (formerly known as Avpixlat), Nyheter Idag and Nya Tider are lumped together with neo-Nazi media such as Nordfront.

    • Why is a Bollywood film sparking threats of violence?

      The Bollywood film ‘Padmavati’ is swirling in controversy, so much so that its release in India has been postponed and its international debut left uncertain.

      The film recounts the story of a Muslim sultan who attacks a kingdom in an attempt to capture a beautiful Hindu queen. Critics say the film “disrespects the sentiments” of the Rajput caste. And despite historians pointing out that the queen portrayed in the film is a fictional character, Rajput groups have been using their political capital to block the film with much success.

      The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is backing the efforts of Rajput groups, like the Karni Sena, who’ve been holding protests in several states across India. The group is also accused of vandalising cinemas this week and earlier this year reportedly stormed the set of the film and assaulted the director.

    • Bollywood, censorship and the fascism unfolding in Modi’s India
    • I got DMCA takedown notice for sharing an interview of Richard Stallman
    • Press freedom is under attack like never before. Reinforcements are needed

      We could reasonably have expected the digital revolution to have ushered in the heyday of media freedom. The miniaturisation of technology and spread of mobile connectivity have massively increased our ability to share, interact with, and access information.

      However, this has been matched by censorship in the name of national security and countering extremism, demands for protection against offensive speech and misinformation, as well as unprecedented surveillance and collection of our data. A new report by Article 19 maps this trend, showing that media freedom is at its lowest level since 2006, with a particular increase in the government censorship of those who expose corruption and abuse.

      We at Article 19 document the relentless toll of assaults against journalists, media workers and social media commentators. And besides state agents, we have seen an increase in new perpetrators of violations on media freedom, including organised crime, religious militant groups, and even corporations and economics groups. In the worst cases, state censorship operates through one of these groups or they operate with state acquiescence.

      Violence and censorship remain a threat in democratic and authoritarian states. But it is often those with nascent democratic or judicial structures where critical opinions are persecuted by illegitimate and often illegal means. Although the causes vary according to country, the combination of weak institutions and limited legal frameworks, as well as a lack of both political will and appreciation for diversity and pluralism, produce hostile environments for press freedom.

    • U.S. House internet censorship bill is just like the Senate bill, except worse

      There are two bills racing through Congress that would undermine your right to free expression online and threaten the online communities that we all rely on. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865) might sound noble, but they would do nothing to fight sex traffickers. What they would do is force online web platforms to police their users’ activity much more stringently than ever before, silencing a lot of innocent voices in the process.

    • Suddenly, I’m a ‘Russian Agent’!

      For a number of years now, I have been periodically interviewed as a source or a commentator on news programs and as an occasional panel participant on RT TV, the Russian government-funded English-language television station. For the past year, I’ve been paid a small amount for my work.

      Effective Monday, November 13, something changed, though. RT suddenly became a“registered foreign agent.” The Russian government-funded news service, which has its headquarters in Washington, with bureaus in several other US cities, filed the required papers under protest — the only foreign news service operating here that is required to do so — and said it intends to sue. Russia is also retaliating and will be requiring some US news organizations operating in Russia, including Voice of America, to similarly register as foreign agents.

      This means that as of two weeks ago, I have been working, at least on a minimal basis of perhaps one short 5-10-minute interview per week, for a “foreign agent.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • #BlackFriday Announcement from Privacy Lab

      More than 75% of the 300+ apps analyzed by Exodus contain the signatures of trackers, though this data does not tell the whole story. There is an entire industry based upon these trackers, and apps identified as “clean” today may contain trackers that have not yet been identified. Tracker code may also be added by developers to new versions of apps in the future. The Exodus platform identifies trackers via signatures, like an anti-virus or spyware scanner, and thus can only detect trackers previously identified by researchers at the time of the scan.

    • 75% Android Apps Track Users With 3rd Party Tools, Says Study

      A combined study conducted by a French research organization Exodus Privacy and the Privacy Lab, Yale University concludes that around 3 out of every 4 Android apps track users in some way, using third-party trackers.

    • NSA Surveillance Powers Set for Renewal, But Will Reforms Happen?

      The exact details of the renewal are still up for debate, however, with both the House and the Senate pushing different versions, and several lawmakers are trying to push different reforms.

      Section 702 has been shown to be vulnerable to major abuse. Serious reform, however, is facing a lot of resistance, with pro-surveillance officials saying it would weaken the ability to surveil in general.

      So while some lawmakers are promising they won’t support any renewal without some “meaningful” reforms, anything that seems too meaningful is unlikely to ever get through in the first place.

    • U.S. lawmaker says House intel panel near consensus on NSA spy program

      Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee are close to an agreement on how to overhaul a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program and hope to complete legislation soon, the top Democrat on the panel said on Wednesday.

      Representative Adam Schiff said he had proposed a compromise that would let intelligence agencies query a database of information on Americans in national security cases without a warrant, but would require a warrant to use the information in other cases, such as those involving serious violent crime.

      “This would prevent law enforcement from simply using the database as a vehicle to go fishing, but at the same time it would preserve the operational capabilities of the program,” Schiff told reporters.

    • Government Exposes Documents Detailing Sensitive NSA Software, Surveillance Programs

      Ragtime is more than a decade old, but apparently still in use. It was part of the Stellar Wind warrantless surveillance bundle put together by the agency and the Bush administration shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. While Stellar Wind is no longer in use thanks to domestic surveillance concerns (it’s actually just been offshored to dodge FISA obligations), Ragtime appears to still be running, although there’s little publicly-available information discussing its use in surveilling American citizens. An undated document leaked by Snowden in 2013 discusses Ragtime collection in the context of thwarting Congressional oversight.

      What is known is Ragtime’s super-secret status. It’s a “need to know” program that only certain analysts can access. Collections from this program are considered so sensitive they aren’t shared with foreign allies, with the exception of the Ragtime-C variant, which allows UK intelligence agency access.

    • NSA’s Ragtime surveillance program targets US citizens – documents

      A newly discovered document has revealed seven hidden variants of the National Security Agency’s Ragtime program. Though Ragtime is intended for NSA’s foreign surveillance, one of the components apparently targets Americans.

      Ragtime is a NSA surveillance program that collects the contents of private communications of foreign nationals, including emails and text messages. A newly revealed component of the program, called US-P, seems to be aimed at American citizens.

      The term ‘USP’ (US Persons) is used in intelligence circles to refer to American citizens. A document dated November 2011, seen by both ZDNet and UpGuard, revealed the existence of US-P and six other previously unknown Ragtime components. In addition to Ragtime US-P, the newly revealed variants are called Ragtime-BQ, F, N, PQ, S, and T, according to ZDNet.

    • NSA leak exposes top secret ‘Red Disk’ data on public AWS server

      ANOTHER NSA LEAK has seen the contents of a hard drive with highly sensitive data get posted online, shedding light on a US Army intelligence project.

      Chris Vickery, director of cybersecurity research firm UpGuard, found a virtual image of the hard disk left on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) server.

    • 100GB of secret NSA data found on unsecured AWS S3 bucket
    • NSA breach spills over 100GB of top secret data
    • Cybersecurity company finds classified NSA, Army data online
    • How to Debug Your Content Blocker for Privacy Protection

      Millions of users are trying to protect their privacy from commercial tracking online, be it through their choice of browser, installation of ad and tracker blocking extensions, or use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This guide focuses on how to correctly configure the blocking extension in your browser to ensure that it’s giving you the privacy you expect. We believe that tools work best when you don’t have to go under the hood. While there is software which meets that criteria (and several are listed in the final section of the guide), the most popular ad blockers do not protect privacy by default and must be reconfigured. We’ll show you how.

    • Panopticlick 3.0

      Today we’re launching a new version of Panopticlick, an EFF site which audits your browser privacy protection.

    • Supreme Court Must Understand That Cell Phones Aren’t Voluntary

      Today the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Carpenter v. United States, a major Fourth Amendment case that questions whether the police can access your phone’s location data without a warrant. The government argues that it should always be entitled to that information, no questions asked, because the 95 percent of American adults who own cell phones choose to give up that information “voluntarily.” Because cell phones transmit that data automatically, however, cell phone users have no choice in revealing their location. Therefore, the only action that could be “voluntary” is owning or using a cell phone.

      The problem is that cell phones are no longer meaningfully voluntary in modern society. They have become central to society’s basic functions, such as employment, public safety, and government services. The cell phone is a revolutionary technology, but its real value comes not from its technical capabilities, but from its near-universal adoption.

    • Facebook to demand “clear photo of your face”
    • Facebook’s New Captcha Test: ‘Upload A Clear Photo of Your Face’

      The company is using a new kind of captcha to verify whether a user is a real person. According to a screenshot of the identity test shared on Twitter on Tuesday and verified by Facebook, the prompt says: “Please upload a photo of yourself that clearly shows your face. We’ll check it and then permanently delete it from our servers.”

    • Uber hired ex-CIA agents to infiltrate rival, former employee alleges

      In the letter written by his lawyer, Jacobs said Uber created a secret unit in order to obtain trade secrets from its rivals, as reported by The Los Angeles Times. Under questioning, Jacobs then claimed Uber hired multiple contractors who “employed former CIA agents to help the ride-hailing company infiltrate its rivals’ computers.”

    • Uber used ex-CIA agents to steal trade secrets, fired manager says. Feds are investigating

      Uber’s espionage team also hired contractors who employed former CIA agents to help with its surveillance, Jacobs said.

    • Judge says Uber ‘withheld evidence’ as new bombshell allegations emerge in Alphabet trial

      He reportedly made other bombshell allegations in the letter, including that employees at Uber were trained to “impede” ongoing investigations, multiple media outlets reported.

    • The Latest: Uber accused of using ex-CIA agents as spies

      Under questioning, Richard Jacobs, Uber’s manager of global intelligence, said that Uber hired several contractors that employed former CIA agents to help the ride-hailing service infiltrate its rivals’ computers. Jacobs said the surveillance occurred overseas.

    • Who Was the NSA Contractor Arrested for Leaking the ‘Shadow Brokers’ Hacking Tools?
    • Uber Faces Federal Probe for Corporate Espionage

      The probe under way at the U.S. Justice Department centers on a 37-page letter that described allegations made by Richard Jacobs, Uber’s former manager of global intelligence. Jacobs had the letter sent in May to an Uber lawyer. The letter contended that Jacobs had been wrongfully demoted and then fired for trying to stop the company’s alleged misconduct.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Hate Crime Training for Police Is Often Inadequate, Sometimes Nonexistent

      To become a police officer in the U.S., one almost always has to enroll in an academy for some basic training. The typical academy session lasts 25 weeks, but state governments — which oversee police academies for local and state law enforcement officers — have wide latitude when it comes to choosing the subjects that will be taught in the classrooms.

      How to properly identify and investigate hate crimes does not seem terribly high on the list of priorities, according to a ProPublica review.

      Only 12 states, for example, have statutes requiring that academies provide instruction on hate crimes.

    • Growing Up and Growing Old in Prison

      In 2006, Cyntoia Brown was sentenced to life in prison for shooting and killing a 43-year-old man who had picked her up for sex. At the time of the crime, she was 16 years old.

      Cyntoia is now in her 20s, and her appeal is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Last week, after a local Fox 17 news report on her case, celebrities like Rihanna took to social media to condemn the sentence and call for her release. The attention to this case is understandable and justified. Cyntoia had run away from home and was living with a pimp who had raped and abused her. The legal team handling Cyntoia’s appeal says she suffers from an alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder, a type of fetal alcohol syndrome that impairs brain development and that more recent testing found her to have the functioning level of a 13 or 14-year-old.

    • For People of Color in Jacksonville, Florida, Walking Can Be a Crime

      Black pedestrians face unacceptable discrimination by law enforcement in the city of Jacksonville.

      Walking is a lot of things. It’s great exercise. It’s a cost-free mode of transportation. But for Black people in Jacksonville, Florida, evidence suggests that it’s leading to discriminatory encounters with police.

      Black pedestrians in Jacksonville are ticketed a stunning three times as often for pedestrian violations, like jaywalking, as white pedestrians, according to ProPublica and The Florida Times-Union. In a recently published exposé, the outlets examined 2,200 tickets issued in Jacksonville between 2012 and 2016. They found that although representing only 29 percent of the city’s population, Black people received a whopping 55 percent of all pedestrian tickets. Disproportionate enforcement also occurred for lesser known offenses. For instance, 68 percent of people who received tickets for “failing to cross the road at a right angle or the shortest route” were Black.

      In Jacksonville, crossing the street on a yellow light or walking on the street where there is no sidewalk can result in getting a ticket with a $65 price tag. If you are poor or working but struggling to make ends meet, this is an especially hard pill to swallow. Failure to pay may impact your credit score or possibly result in suspension of your driver’s license.

    • Facebook to Temporarily Block Advertisers From Excluding Audiences by Race

      Facebook said it would temporarily stop advertisers from being able to exclude viewers by race while it studies the use of its ad targeting system.

      “Until we can better ensure that our tools will not be used inappropriately, we are disabling the option that permits advertisers to exclude multicultural affinity segments from the audience for their ads,” Facebook Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus.

      ProPublica disclosed last week that Facebook was still allowing advertisers to buy housing ads that excluded audiences by race, despite its promises earlier this year to reject such ads. ProPublica also found that Facebook was not asking housing advertisers that blocked other sensitive audience categories — by religion, gender, or disability — to “self-certify” that their ads were compliant with anti-discrimination laws.

      Under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, it’s illegal to “to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” Violators face tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

    • Nationalism, or how to drown out what is important

      In recent months, our ability to forget has become increasingly apparent. In our blind, deaf and dumb First World – in Spain, for instance -, there have been cries against oppression and struggles for freedom. Many have taken to the streets to fight for civil and political rights and analysts have defended the right to vote and the rule of Law.

      The headiness of the fight has resulted in shows of intolerance, police overreaction and injuries – all in the name of freedom, independence or the constitutional order.

      But what if we contextualized First World struggles? What if we reminded ourselves of where we are and what is happening elsewhere?

    • Community Groups Doubling Down on Defending Digital Rights

      After the 2016 U.S. election, the prospects for digital rights under the incoming administration seemed particularly grim. A silver lining in this dark cloud has been the concerted efforts we’ve seen by groups working to defend digital rights at the local level. Over the past year, a growing network of grassroots groups, the Electronic Frontier Alliance, has taken substantial steps forward in protecting online civil liberties in dozens of communities across the U.S.

      Our preliminary concerns about the Trump administration’s attacks on digital rights unfortunately proved valid.

      President Trump inherited a surveillance apparatus that threatened privacy in a number of ways, from warrantless surveillance of Americans’ electronic communications to monitoring the social media accounts of immigrants, including naturalized U.S. citizens. The administration’s escalating attacks on other digital rights came quickly, with various departments targeting access to knowledge by removing publicly funded research from the web and issuing unconstitutional subpoenas to web hosts seeking the identities of visitors to websites used to coordinate protests of the Trump administration. Less than year into the new administration, free expression is under threat in Congress in the form of bills like SESTA that would likely push marginalized voices offline.

    • Farmworkers Say “Us Too,” Demanding Freedom From Sexual Violence

      Ahead of the Thanksgiving feast, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) hit midtown Manhattan on Monday to face down the suits with chants of “Exploitation has got to go!” CIW was there to demand humane working conditions on their farms.

      Peppered with brass-band musicians and street puppets, the protesters rallied at the New York, N.Y. offices of the fast food giant Wendy’s.

      CIW members hoisted tomato and bucket-shaped picket signs with slogans like “freedom from sexual violence” and “Justicia” to face off against Wendy’s cheery, red pigtails. They demanded fair wages and freedom from violence and exploitation.

    • Century of the National Security State: A New Subversives List?

      A recent article by two Georgetown University civil-liberties attorneys, Yael Bromberg and Eirik Cheverud, “Anti-Trump protesters risk 60 years in jail. Is dissent a crime?,” warns that the Trump Justice Department may be establishing a 21st century “subversives” list. The trial of the first six defendants has just started in Washington, DC.

      The authors’ note that in the wake of Pres. Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, federal prosecutors brought charges against over 200 protestors that included felony rioting, felony incitement to riot, conspiracy to riot and five property-damage crimes. The attorneys remind readers, “Each defendant is facing over 60 years in prison.”

    • Chicago Considers Another Dumb ‘Texting And Walking’ Law To Raise Revenue

      Since the advent of the smartphone, it seems that every few years or so, one government entity or another suddenly has the brilliant idea that its constituency ought to have fines levied on them for “distracted walking.” This catchall term has a much more specific meaning with in the laws in question: walking and using a phone at the same time. While this nonsense began mostly in foreign countries, there a few states in America that have some flavor of this kind of law on the books.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast deleted net neutrality pledge the same day FCC announced repeal

      We wrote earlier this week about how Comcast has changed its promises to uphold net neutrality by pulling back from previous statements that it won’t charge websites or other online applications for fast lanes.

      Comcast spokesperson Sena Fitzmaurice has been claiming that we got the story wrong. But a further examination of how Comcast’s net neutrality promises have changed over time reveals another interesting tidbit—Comcast deleted a “no paid prioritization” pledge from its net neutrality webpage on the very same day that the Federal Communications Commission announced its initial plan to repeal net neutrality rules.

      Starting in 2014, the webpage, corporate.comcast.com/openinternet/open-net-neutrality, contained this statement: “Comcast doesn’t prioritize Internet traffic or create paid fast lanes.”

    • Email Is Broken. Can Anyone Fix It?

      You should root for email to work, because it’s the only open, free, universal communications tool we have left. And, like it or not, you’re stuck with it.

    • The Internet is Living on Borrowed Time

      The Internet, as we know it now, is not likely to exist for much longer. Let me walk you through why I know that.

    • FCC’s Pai, Addressing Net Neutrality Rules, Calls Twitter Biased
    • Killing net neutrality is a death blow for innovation

      On Cyber Monday, more than 200 internet companies and businesses, including Twitter, Reddit, Airbnb and Tumblr sent a letter to the FCC, imploring them to keep net neutrality intact. It stated, “An internet without net neutrality protections would be the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers.” This followed Pai’s release of a plan to kill the Obama era rules if he gets the support of the rest of the commission in a vote that is scheduled for December 14.

    • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai blasted everyone from Twitter to Cher for opposing his efforts to repeal net neutrality rules
    • Indian telecom regulator backs net neutrality with recommendations

      The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said it was not in favor of any “discriminatory treatment” with data, including blocking, slowing or offering preferential speeds or treatment to any content.

    • FCC chief slams ‘Hollywood celebrities’ who oppose net neutrality rollback
    • As FCC Contemplates Repealing Net Neutrality Protections, Indian Telecom Regulator Reaffirms Support for Principles of Non-Discrimination

      Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks fairly, without improper discrimination in favor of particular apps, sites or services. Even as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is pushing a plan to end net neutrality protections in the U.S., India’s telecom regulator has called for strengthening the principle of non-discriminatory access to the Internet.

      This week the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended amending all existing ISP licenses in India to explicitly prohibit discriminatory traffic management practices. TRAI’s recommendations on licensing issues are not binding. While TRAI has the power to frame regulations on issues such as pricing, QoS, and interconnection, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has final authority on matters related to granting or modification of licences in India. But if TRAI’s recommendations are accepted by the DoT, ISPs in India will be explicitly prohibited from and will be penalised for blocking, throttling, slowing down, or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content on their networks. Having rules in place that restrict ISPs and telecom providers’ ability to control access to content via their networks is important for a free and open Internet. Such rules prevent ISPs from degrading the quality of service or blocking access to apps to earn revenue or to limit competition. The FCC’s Open Order 2015 had also banned throttling, blocking and paid prioritization in the provision of broadband Internet access service. The FCC’s new proposal issued last week would eliminate these bright-line rules against blocking, throttling, and pay-to-play in favor of a simplistic transparency requirement.

    • Mark Cuban Still Has Absolutely No Idea How Net Neutrality Works

      To be very clear, there are numerous subjects Mark Cuban has a very solid understanding of, ranging from his support of patent reform and the benefits of improving antiquated film release windows to highlighting the SEC’s disdain for the 14th and 4th Amendments during his fight over insider trading allegations. But when it comes to net neutrality, modern telecom competition, and the problems caused by letting unchecked duopolists like Comcast run amok, Cuban has pretty consistently made it abundantly clear he has absolutely no earthly idea what he’s talking about.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Activision Considering An Opposition To Trademark For Dog-Curbing Company ‘Call Of Doodee’

        There’s a line in Ian Fleming’s opus Goldfinger that goes: “Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.” It appears that as far as strange trademark attacks issued from entertainment properties upon canine-related services are concerned, we’ve officially reached the coincidence stage. You will recall that we were just discussing an odd trademark opposition filed from RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan against a dog-walking service calling itself Woof-Tang Clan. On the heels of that, we learn that Activision is mulling an opposition on a trademark application for a dog-poop removal service calling itself Call of DooDee.

    • Copyrights

      • Congress Shouldn’t Turn the Copyright Office Into A Copyright Court

        While most people are focused on net neutrality, surveillance, and tax reform, a few legislators are quietly mulling over a different problem: copyright reform.

        Five years ago, Representative Bob Goodlatte, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, launched a series of hearings and studies that he said would lead to comprehensive copyright reform. EFF and many others testified on the merits and problems in virtually every facet of copyright law, and we all waited expectantly for the “Next Great Copyright Act.” For better or worse, that dramatic reform never happened. Instead, we got the CASE Act, a bill to create a small claims process for copyright. The impetus behind this bill comes largely from photographers and other visual artists, who want a way to bring small-value copyright claims with lower expenses. They are legitimately concerned that the cost of litigation puts strong copyright protection out of reach for many artists.

        But the CASE Act is not the right solution. First, it would create a new quasi-court within the Copyright Office. Aside from the constitutional questions that raises, the Copyright Office is not known for its neutrality on copyright issues. Second, the powers given to this new tribunal would invite gamesmanship and abuse. Third, it would magnify the existing problem of copyright’s unpredictable civil penalties. Finally, it would put this new tribunal in charge of punishing DMCA abuse, but sharply limit the punishment available, undermining what little deterrent effect still exists in the statute.

        Let’s break it down.

      • NAFTA’s Digital Trade Chapter Could Be Finalized Next Month

        The fifth round of negotiations over a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) wound up last week in Mexico. Following conclusion of the round, Mexican Trade Minister Ildefonso Guajardo told reporters that he hoped that the next round, to be held in Washington, DC in the week of 11 December, could see sufficient progress made that the agreement’s Digital Trade chapter could be closed… all before the public has seen a single word of it.

        The history of such predictions leads us to suspect that this may be an optimistic timeline, but the fact that the Minister made it at all does go to confirm that the Digital Trade chapter is seen as being uncontroversial in the negotiations. But it isn’t unimportant. The provisions likely to be found in this chapter include some topics that are critical to the digital economy.

      • Torrent Site Blocking Endangers Freedom of Expression, ISP Warns

        Website blockades are spreading throughout Europe, where they’ve become a common tool for copyright holders to target piracy. This is also the case in Lithuania, where a court has ordered ISPs to prevent subscribers from accessing the hugely popular BitTorrent tracker Linkomanija. The affected ISPs are likely to appeal the case as it could restrict freedom of expression and speech.

      • The Pirate Bay Has Trouble Keeping Afloat

        For many people The Pirate Bay has been hard to reach over the past few days, causing concern among some BitTorrent users. The outages are likely caused by technical issues, which will be resolved in the near future. Meanwhile, some proxies and the Tor domain are still working fine.

11.29.17

IAM Celebrates (With the Patent Cartel) a System of Unjust Monopolisation of Industry Standards Through Unethical Patent Thickets

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents, RAND, Standard at 7:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Many of these are software patents

ITU Microsoft

Summary: Once again, quite frankly as usual, lobbying by large corporations pays off and companies that are not multi-billion dollar entities will suffer for they cannot participate in the market (anticompetitive patent thickets)

THE policy regarding patents in China has made Asia increasingly friendly to patent trolls. Korean and Japanese companies, for example, are being dragged into Chinese courts (much of their production was outsourced to factories in mainland China).

Days ago we saw IAM saying that “NPEs [patent trolls] armed with former [Chinese] Huawei and [European patent troll] Sisvel patents attack [Korean] Samsung in China, in possible privateering campaigns”. Well, “privateering” is putting it far too politely. The word they’re looking for is trolling. The patent arsenal from Europe now travels to China, the most fertile ground for patent trolls, in order to attack Samsung, one of the world’s biggest technology companies. “An article published in China,” IAM writes, “has turned up two previously unreported patent infringement suits against Samsung in the country’s courts, both filed this year. In one case, an apparent Chinese NPE is asserting a patent formerly owned by Huawei against the South Korean company. In the other, a Texas NPE is suing Samsung with a former Sisvel patent. Taken together, the cases indicate that there may be much more NPE activity – foreign and domestic – than meets the eye in China.”

Further down SIPO is mentioned. To quote: “Li further reports that Samsung challenged both patents before SIPO’s Patent Reexamination Board (PRB), which evidently upheld the Dunjun patent, while invalidating the Dual Sim patent. Both decisions can, of course, be appealed.”

What we are seeing here is actualisation of our predictions. Does China want to be known for patent trolls or for manufacturing (or both)?

Meanwhile, the Japanese government, according to this IAM blog post, recognises the problem with SEPs (standard-essential patents), not just with trolls. One should refrain from using the terms FRAND or SEP. They basically masquerade or conceal an anticompetitive injustice that’s hinged on patents. Here is what IAM wrote:

The ADR scheme was also described by the government as a “licensing award system for SEPs”. In short, it proposed that when two parties could not agree on an SEP licence agreement, the prospective licensee would be able to request mediation by the JPO, which would determine a FRAND royalty rate in a mandatory process, “with due care of not unfairly haring the interests of the patent holders”. Major global rights owners raised numerous objections, branding it as a form of compulsory licensing.

This has become a hot topic because companies like Qualcomm, which IAM again glorified a few days ago, want to create industry standards everyone must pay Qualcomm to merely implement. There are many software patents in the mix, even though such patents are no longer potent anywhere but China.

As Benjamin Henrion stated earlier today: “After the glyphosate, another vistory of (patent) lobbyists is to remove the “licence for all” from the Commission FRAND paper, and to insult Open Source licensing…”

The context to all this was a stream of IAM tweets that said: “Commission Communication on SEP licensing has now been published. On a first, skim, read it looks like SEP owners have got most of what they could have reasonably hoped for [] There doesn’t seem to be any prescriptions about what kind of licensing approach should be followed – ie no mention of the “license for all” regime that implementers were calling for. This is crucial. Looks like SEP owners have got their way. [] If detailed reading of the SEP licensing Communication confirms the initial impression, there has bene a big turnaround in the Commisison [sic] over th elast two weeks. SEP owners will be celebrating.”

IAM’s chief, Joff Wild, later wrote this blog post about it (updated throughout the evening). It is very disappointing that the European Commission seems to be in bed with the patent cartel/thickets, basically the likes of Qualcomm which it’s supposed to investigate. To quote Wild:

The European Commission’s long-awaited Communication on the licensing of standards essential patents was finally published this morning and, on an initial read, it looks like SEP owners have a fair amount to be pleased about – especially given how things were looking a couple of weeks back, when it seemed as if extensive lobbying from the implementer side was about to bear fruit. A subsequent delay in agreeing the final text of the Communication provided a hint that implementers might not get all they were after and today’s publication seemingly confirms that.

[...]

My guess is that SEP owners are going to be feeling a great deal of relief today. The Commission has acknowledged that while the rapid and efficient diffusion of technology at the lowest cost possible is vital, those who do the innovating need to be incentivised to carry on – and that means they have to feel they will receive adequate reward for the investments they make.

Is this any worse than the Commission turning a blind eye to EPO abuses?

Writing behind a paywall IP Watch has covered this as well (under the headline “European Commission Announces Guidance On Copyright Enforcement, SEP Licensing”).

To quote:

The European Commission today announced plans to ratchet up the fight against counterfeiting and piracy, and to introduce more clarity in licensing standard-essential patents (SEPs). The first involves guidance on the 2004 EU directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRED); the second recommendations for making the relationship between patent owners and technology users more “balanced and efficient.”

The likes of Qualcomm certainly got their way here; interesting timing given the immense scrutiny this company comes under. Earlier today we learned that Apple has just countersued Qualcomm for patent infringement [1, 2, 3], further escalating a long battle against the SEP cartel set up by Qualcomn. It is very disappointing to see that in addition to the constant deception from sites like IAM we have public officials who play along with patent cartels and protectionism. They really ought to know better. Corporate lobbyists got their way again. IAM gave them a platform (we covered that).

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